February 20, 2017: Henrietta Lacks

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Henrietta Lacks has been in the news lately because Oprah is playing her daughter in the HBO film “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” along side Rose Byrne. Henrietta Lacks died from cancer in 1951. Tissue samples from her tumors were harvested without her permission but ended up leading to scientific breakthroughs. Her sample is now known as the HeLa immortal cell line used in contemporary biomedical research. These cells were used to develop the polio vaccine, research cancer and AIDS as well as current studies. According to wikipedia scientists have grown 0ver 20 tons of her cells and they are used in over 11,000 patents.  I’m sure the HBO film will cover topics like race, poverty and the use of patients cells for commercial purposes (leading to a bigger conversation about privacy and patients’ rights). The HBO film will premiere at 8pm on Saturday April 22.

February 14, 2017

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One of my 2017 resolutions is to read more, and for Christmas my sister gave me this hilarious book (which I highly recommend). “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding” by Kristin Newman, is a funny relatable woman with a unique job (tv comedy writer) that allows for extended breaks between projects and uses that time for travel. Each chapter is dedicated to a different trip and it’s in sequential order, so you can follow along on her wild vacations and her in-between trip home life. Her “normal” life is consumed with work, so when she vacations she lets loose and does things she’d never let her “normal self” do.

This book is super fun, and motivating, and given our political climate has inspired me to “get the hell outta Dodge”. I’ve got a 2 week work vacation in the summer and last year (in an effort to save money) I did a camping trip to Shenandoah and rented a cottage in the Catskills for a few days. This year I’m leaving the US for as close to the full 2 weeks as possible. Where am I going? No clue yet and suggestions are welcome!

I made a list of the things I want out of the vacation. I love the idea of spending an extended time in one place, as most of my vacations involve a lot of moving around and usually stress goes along with that type of trip. I’m looking for low stress. I’m also willing to pay a little more if it means that someone plans/organizes/leads the entire thing. I just want to show up and to have no worries. I like the idea of doing it with a tour group- the risk is being stuck with a boring group but the joy is getting to meet and travel with some really great people. I’m willing to take the risk. I’ll let you know what I decide to do but suggestions are welcome… I’ll tell you I’m leaning toward 10 days in Croatia + 3 days in a layover city that I can explore on my own. Has anyone been? Suggestions for a good layover city?

February 1, 2017 Part 2: Black History Month

Today is the start of Black History month (which deserves WAAAAY more than 1 month) and feeling so inspired from watching Hidden Figures, I want to dedicate many posts this month to other female hidden figures that we can all look up to and thank for their behind-the-scenes roles in some important parts of our lives.

 

Images from HERE, HERE and HERE.

Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson is starting off this series because she is one smart scientist and is still alive today kickin’ science ass. She grew up in Washington DC and graduated as the valedictorian in 1964. She went on to MIT where she was one of only 20 other black students attending the school at the time.. this really wasn’t that long ago which is blowing my mind. She went on to be the first African-American to get a doctorate degree from MIT, and only the second African American woman in the US to get a doctorate in physics as of 1973.

Shirley didn’t just excel at science but specifically physics and subatomic particles. After stints with prestigious labs she ended up traveling around Europe as a visiting scientist and lecturer. I read about a lot of the work she did and most of it goes way over my head, so I can’t even begin to explain it. She worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories where she contributed a lot to fiber optic cables. She’s credited with scientific research that enabled others to invent fiber optic cables, solar cells, the touchtone telephone, portable fax and caller ID/call waiting.

She’s gotten so many awards and has been the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (picked by Bill Clinton) and was appointed by Obama to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. She is currently the 18th President of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she’s making bank for all her hard work. Even at 70 she’s teaching, fundraising for scientific research and inspiring the next generation.

Thank you Shirley Ann Jackson!

(Info form HERE, HERE, and HERE)

 

February 1, 2017 Part 1: Resolutions

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It’s already February 1st, 2017 and we are officially already 1/12th of the way through the year. I want to use the first part of this post to talk about something I do every year, but haven’t shared with you yet this year: resolutions.

Every year I come up with about 100 resolutions, and this year is no different. Some of the biggies are:

– Read 25 books this year (approximately 1 every 2 weeks). A big part of this goal is also getting a local library card and listening to books on tape in the car (perfect for ignoring the horrible news out of Washington in the morning… just not the best way to start the day). Plus this means I need to carve out non-sleepy times to actually sit down and read. It’s harder than it sounds.

– Finish my bedroom. This feels shallow, but my bedroom is the only room in my apartment where I never hung anything up. I don’t know why, but I finally hung pictures that have been leaning against the wall. Part of this goal was also to go through every room of the house and purge items that haven’t been used in a while. I actually found an air-pop popcorn machine that I’ve been happy to start using! Who knew it was collecting dust under some pans?

– Be better about waking up early. Fully make the bed. Have breakfast. Take time to look out the window and not have mornings be a race.

– Be good about calling far away friends. This includes something I’m excited about which is sending actual birthday cards. None of this Facebook wall “happy birthday!” but an actual card that friends can open at and brighten their day.

– Bogging! I feel like my life has transitioned so much that it’s hard to keep up on the blog, but I’ve made it a goal to carve out time once a week (or more if possible) to share about something positive and inspiring. It feels good to get my voice back out there too.

– B Meyer Studio work goals. I always have lofty work goals, and I won’t go into all of them here but a big shift that Im working on is focusing less on big pieces (like tables) and more on customizable smaller pieces that are easier to ship. This means I can reach out to more shops and hopefully get my items in their collections. As of January 2017, I’m already selling at 3 different stores (plus etsy of course).

– Volunteer! This has several mini-goals rolled up in it. For example given our political climate volunteering in my mind also includes protesting. Protesting is volunteering time to a cause and adding to the tally of support. In January I marched in Washington (an amazing day) and also promoted Planned Parenthood by attending a Saturday PRO-PP rally (this happens every Saturday and I think will be my equivalent of attending church), and of course attending a candlelight vigil for refugees in protest to Trump’s Muslim Ban. In addition to attending events, I’ve also decided to donate much more regularly to causes that I support. Also supporting real news falls under this category and I now subscribe to the weekend NYTimes as well as many magazines. Now is the time to realize that where you shop and spend money holds a lot of power.

I have a ton more goals, but these are the categories most important to me right now.

January Goal recap: I’ve been pretty steady with most of my goals this month. Lots of donations, protesting +volunteering time. My shop is not as busy as December, but Im enjoying the downtime and using it to build up my inventory. I’ve blogged several times since the new year and feel good about that. I finished hanging art in my bedroom and have been doing my best to get up early and see the sunrise as I get ready. I’ve read 1.5 books this month (so a little behind) but I’ve listened to 3 audio books so I’m feeling good about that.

One thing that helps me when I get a little down is making a list of what I’ve done and should feel good about. Basically once a day I write the date and follow it up with one sentence to sum up a good thing I did today. Sometimes time flies by and you look back at a month and think “gosh a month gone and I did nothing!” and this is to prove to myself that I made progress in life. Also it’s nice to strive for something to write down. For example if I’ve spent the day doing non-exciting tedious tasks and feel like”Ive got nothing exciting to write down for today!” it forces me to think of something fun or new to do in the evening so that Ill have something to write down. It’s a good way to live and gets you out of your comfort zone.

 

January 23, 2017

The past Saturday, January 21 2017 was one of the best days of my life. It was filled with peace, love, support, fantastic signs, powerful chants and a million people of all ages, races & sexes surrounding me calling out for basic rights. It felt magical to be in the middle of this crowd. The news reports and photos don’t come close to showing the true mass of people in attendance.

For friends that wanted to march but couldn’t, your presence was felt. I can’t explain what it felt like to be there, but know that you were there in spirit.

For the people who are thinking “what was the point? seems like a waste of time”, I marched for you. I marched for everything you don’t know is happening to you and around you and to the people you love.

 

I’m sad for the people who didn’t get to feel what I was able to feel this weekend (it was euphoric), and it’s going to give me the strength to get through these next 4 years and beyond. I need to keep that feeling and spirit alive in me everyday. Don’t get discouraged, because there are others who feel the same way I do and we won’t be silenced. It’s the actions we take now that matter. Donate. Volunteer. Peacefully protest. Set a good example. Sign  petitions. Show up. Get your voice heard.

My sister gave me great advice recently when I asked her how to be around people who were promoting hateful ideas, specifically if it’s a relative of family friend. My instinct is to both get mad and disengage. She told me that we need to set an example. It’s not a time to run away to avoid that negativity, but be someone that they can look up to. Battles and arguments don’t often end with one side saying “you’re right”. Let your actions as a good person speak for you. Set an example that they can’t ignore. If you’re volunteering and helping people and living your life in a positive way, let them see what they are missing out on.

The Women’s March website is listing a new challenge to promote change, with 1 challenge released every 10 days for Trumps first 100 days in office. For the first challenge you have 10 days to send a postcard to your representatives. In my case this will be a postcard of gratitude for their hard work of promoting positive change + equality, as well as words of encouragement so they know that I’m fighting the fight by their side. We are all in this together.

January 20th 2017 (or 1717)

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“Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation.”

Today is the day we lose Barack Obama in office and gain a miserable uneducated narcissist as “president”. Today we set the clocks back… way back.. 300 years back. While I have days of wanting to bury my head in my pillow and hit snooze on the alarm clock radio just to make the news go away for another 8 minutes, there comes a time when you need to get out of bed, get dressed and get to work. Now’s that time.

Whenever I read about the holocaust I wonder how someone spewing hate can amass followers and why wasn’t Hitler stopped by anyone? Where was everyone saying this is wrong?  And now I see how that could happen. If his hate speech didn’t personally attack you, it’s easy to say “Im scared of him, but I’ll be safe so I just don’t want to think about it. Ill let someone else deal with it because there’s nothing I can do.” and to me this is the scariest position to take.  I like to think that if I was in Germany at that time, I would have done whatever I could to stop this hate from spreading. Well here we are, in a very similar climate. Now we are all put to the test. Would you have been someone who hides? Are are you someone doing whatever you can to help the cause, or are you leaving it up to someone else? What side of history do you want to be on? I know that the right thing for me to do (in order to ethically live with myself) is to take any and all legal actions I can take. I’m ready to take a stand against this hate.

Im channeling my inner Rosa Parks, my inner Susan B Anthony, my inner Hillary Clinton+Elizabeth Warren, my inner warrior, my inner Ledell + Kat + Don Mulvaney (for those who knew their fighting spirit). My “dukes are up” and I’m ready to action. I’m heading to Washington DC this weekend to take part in the Women’s March and I suggest you do the same. Let the world know that we are here, we are watching and we are ready to fight for what’s right.

If you can’t get to DC, feel free to find one of many marches closest to you HERE. This march reminds me of visiting Iceland and learning that when Icelandic women protest for rights, they all collectively stay home from work to show how important their roles are in the economy and day-to-day in their country. I wish the USA could coordinate as effectively, but this march is a start. It’s the start of something a lot bigger. Volunteer. Donate. Recycle. We have to do everything that our government is deciding not to do. Support the free press- it’s a fundamental part of democracy. Don’t hit snooze, wake up!

January 16, 2017 MLK Day

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Everything in life/the world has me crazzzy stressed. I won’t get into that here, as even justing thinking about the future of this country has my anxiety levels going off the charts.

It’s fitting that this week starts with us thinking about others, empathy, kindness and fighting for what’s right and ending the week with a “leader” who opposes all of this. While today I light a candle and have a moment of silence for MLK Day and all that it represents, Saturday I head to DC and have my voice heard as I join the Women’s March. There are days for reflection and days for action. Martin Luther King Jr taught us this, “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” I hope that the next 4 years are simply a bump in the road that is the progressive future we’ve all been leading.

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Tonight, in addition to lighting a candle, I’ll be watching Hidden Figures and paying respect to heroes who didn’t get the credit they deserved because they aren’t white men.

I’ll leave you with a video that really made me think about kindness and how important + contagious it is. We need more of this:

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September 26, 2016

I haven’t been here in a while. Life has been so busy and exciting, and also repetitive at the same time, so not much new to report. My week is orders, fill the orders, all week, repeat. Hustle, hustle, hustle.

Fall rolled in over night and with the seasons changing, I feel like exploring some new designs are in order. I love working in wood but lately have been craving exploring a new medium just to keep it fresh and the creative juices flowing. My brain feels like this lately:

We’ll see how successful I’ll be with this, but it’s fun to try something new. Don’t worry, ornaments + CT’s will still be on the docket for holiday gift giving. Next up on my mind… fair displays that are visually interesting and practical. Ideas?

February 2, 2016 Update

It’s February 2, a full month into 2016 and yet I keep writing the date as 2013. I can’t explain it. I spent January doing “Dry January” aka alcohol free in an attempt to help my goal of getting healthier, and it was successful! I was so good about walking 6 miles a day and then last week I fell of the rails and didn’t meet my step goals. I normally wouldn’t talk about this here, but I think it’s important to have accountability.

Lets get real for a sec. I sometimes look like this (with lots of photoshop help I’m sure):

And more often I look like this:

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Usually I have exercise/sweats on, crazy hair, no makeup and some acne. I think it’s important to be real. And to get extra real, Im trying really hard to get back to my LA weight. 2015 involved being in a new city known for it’s pizza, and also a snowy cold winter that basically meant being indoors for 4 months. The summer was spent at the Cape eating fried oysters (so much yum!) and lazily swimming in Sand Pond. 2015 was about relaxing and being cozy and eating whatever I wanted. The result of a glutinous 2015 means 2016 needs to be about undoing the damage of 2015.

What steps am I taking? How am I going to do this?

Well, baby steps right? I started by getting a fitbit and was gifted this awesome Kate Spade agenda that I’m using as a food+exercise diary. I happen to own a cheap $30 smoothie blender and have been making morning spinach/yogurt/pineapple smoothies (high in protein) in an attempt to curb my mid morning appetite. I also bought a special Life Factory water bottle to help encourage my water consumption. Im trying to focus on having a high protein + high fiber diet.

Where am I failing? Lets assess!

I’m not weighing myself (intensionally) so I can’t tell you the numbers, but I can tell you after 2 weeks I felt slimmer/tighter/healthier. Week three I upped my wood working productivity and that time was sucked from my exercise time. I was (pretty) good about food, but I need to be both good at my exercise time + with my diet. Both are so critical! I find myself getting snack hungry at night and I need to address that.

Fitness Goals for February

I’m now on a dodgeball league here in the New Haven area that meets once a week, so I’ll have a different type of exercise to mix it up. I need to be making my 12,000 steps a day goal every day. And in addition to that, I need to be jogging for an hour at the gym at least 3 times a week. Ill have to adjust my schedule to make it work but it’s totally reasonable to do it only 3 times a week. This upcoming Sunday I am running in the IRIS 5k in New Haven, and I think there’s one in March I need to sign up for next. You have to do what it takes right?

Goal for the Year

In fall my good friends are getting married in Los Angeles and I want to be back to my LA weight in time for the wedding (if not sooner). That’s a totally reasonable amount of weight to lose in a lengthy amount of time. I think it’s important to have a focus to think about when you’re at the gym and slowing down on the treadmill that helps you push through and kick it into gear.

I’ll update as I go (I think that’s important to keep me on track) and am open to any tips you have for me!

 

January 11, 2016

How’s the new year treating everyone? Are you sticking to your 2016 resolutions? We are officially one week in to 2016, and I’m not gonna lie- it was a rough one. Mercury is in retrograde so of course everything I own is falling to pieces, but it’s only temporary.

In this past week I’ve been working like crazy on B.Meyer Studio’s biggest project to date: an 8’x8′ display for a shop in New Haven. My fingers are crossed that the install will go well tonight and that it’ll look awesome! It’s a big undertaking so Im understandably nervous/excited.

Also this past week the temperatures dipped to being in the teens, and I was still able to get my 10,000 steps a day in. It wasn’t easy but I did it and I’m sticking to it. In fact I’ve made me reach goal to do 12,000 steps a day (6 miles). My goal is a healthier 2016, and Im sticking to it. I’ve been making morning smoothies and find it keeps me full well into the day. I’ve been trying to keep my water levels up (and balanced with bathroom access). I have a long journey ahead, but it’s not that bad.

Saturday I went into NYC for the day to catch up with some of my lovely RISD Interior Architecture girls. It was in the 40’s-50’s and surprisingly warm and thankfully dry (only a couple rain drops in there). I had such a nice day walking the high line and glasses shopping (mine broke this past week), visiting the World Trade Center Memorial and lighting exhibit at the Brookside Mall across street. We saw so much in a short time! I walked about 20,000 steps!

Sunday consisted of some woodworking, errands, food planning for the week and making dinner with my parents followed by a night of boardgames. What an exhausting but super fun weekend all around.

This week I’m going to focus on finding a balance between staying late to woodwork, working out, and going out to explore New Haven. My goal for the week is to do all of these things this week- a night for each.

Here are some photos from my Saturday in the City. The new Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center looks like it’s endless when you stand at the front and look straight up (#perspective). I love how the light at the top gives this illusion like the building goes straight to heaven. It’s quite powerful.

“Magic Hour, Every Hour” – Bryant Park sign