Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Life happens on its own schedule

Six years into motherhood, it's still shocking to see how easily my work week can get derailed. Today's surprises include my child waking up sick at 1 am. A furnace that failed to start up on the first cold night. A doctor's appointment that was scheduled to fit the doctor's convenience, not mine. It's so frustrating and yet I am lucky that my work schedule is flexible enough to absorb life's ongoing surprises. I honestly don't know how many women keep the whole enterprise going.

I feel like I've sung this tune before, but I'll bet that it's a recurring theme in most mother's lives. I'm trying to go with the flow and be thankful that I can. Still, it's the kind of week that makes me want to dig into the Classical Feminist Writings Archive and reread Judy Syfer's classic 1971 essay Why I Want a Wife.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Book review Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer

I have bought so many books from Amazon.com that it has become an excellent research tool for me. The Amazon.com intelligence knows me well enough to recommend new books I have never heard of before. I felt like I'd found a treasure when I read Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation. This is a great read for Mojo Moms and Dads alike. Palmer validated my world view of life as a journey to explore, not a ladder to climb. I don't ususally refer to my own work in my Amazon.com reviews, because that can easily cross into shameless self-promotion, but I thought that in this case it was relevant. I loved connecting on a basic level with an author whose life path was so different from mine. Here is an adaptation of my Amazon.com review:

Parker Palmer's work touched me on a deep level. He has helped me look at my life and vocation in a new way. The interesting thing for me personally is that I have just written a parenting guide called "Mojo Mom" that looks at the transformation of motherhood as a keystone step on life's journey. Motherhood gives a woman a chance to reflect on her career and vocation, and to align her life's work with her true self. Given that my focus is on motherhood, I was struck by how Parker Palmer's writing and core beliefs resonated with my own. He is a man of my father's generation, yet he connected with what I have come to think of as "mojo" or one's core source of power, commitment, and calling. I highly recommend "Let Your Life Speak" to all thoughtful seekers who are looking for a gentle guide and companion on the quest for our life's purpose--whether that is career, calling, or parenthood as vocation. People ask me for resources for fathers, and "Let Your Life Speak" would be an interesting read for men. One final note on this book: it is religious in the sense of being spiritiual in a very inclusive way. It is probably the first spiritual book that I have been eager to recommend without hesitation to anyone who is open to this approach, whether or not they identify with an organzied religion. I do not come from a Friends (Quaker) background, but I appreciate their wisdom and I am thankful for the chance to learn from Parker Palmer's experiences.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Party Kit and Podcast Updates

On my to-do list today: #1 Finish producing the latest episode of the Mojo Mom Podcast, #2 Finish writing up the next session of the Mojo Mom Party Kit.

For those keeping score, I finished my #1 task, with much steep climbing up the audio production learning curve. But it's done! (Thanks to my eternally patient co-host Sheryl Grant, who graciously re-recorded our segment after I realized that I had not set up the software correctly the first time to record her half of our conversation.)

We'll see how far I get this weekend with the party kit. My goal is to have the download fully functional on Monday. It is on the way!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Accessing the Mojo Mom podcast

Frustration abounds this Sunday morning. Our new podcast is hosted at www.mojomom.libsyn.com but listeners have reported that they are having technical difficulties accessing the site. I am able to access it most of the time, but sometimes it takes so long to make the connection that my browser gives up. If you are having difficulties, my best advice is to try the link again later.

Everything was working fine when I pulled the trigger to launch my newsletter this morning. There have been problems reaching Libysn earlier in the week, which were apparently due to a skirmish between two internet service providers. In other words, it was a problem beyond Libsyn's control, but had to do with the structure of the larger internet. I thought the problems were fixed but now I'm waiting to hear back from Libsyn about what is going on.

I am working to make the podcast files available directly from MojoMom.com as well as through www.mojomom.libsyn.com and the iTunes podcast directly. I will post back on this blog when that is ready to go. Incidentally, iTunes gets my podcast's files from libsyn.com, so if libsyn goes down, there will be an error over at iTunes as well.

Isn't technology grand (grrrrr...!)? I apologize for all inconvenience caused by this situation.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Listen to the Mojo Mom Podcast

As I've ventured out into the world of mass media discussing my Mojo Mom ideas, I've learned that it's not easy to get a mother's point of view represented. Most reporters and radio personalities just don't approach stories from that angle, and most show producers are still men. So I am tapping into the power of podcasting to create my own show, the Mojo Mom Podcast. My co-host, writer Sheryl Grant, and I willl bring you intelligent talk and interviews from a Mom's point of view.

Sheryl and I use motherhood as a springboard, a jumping off point for conversation. We will produce weekly, half-hour shows. Our October 5 show features the first half of my two-part interview with Women for Women International founder Zainab Salbi.

Podcasting is a breakthrough technology that allows anyone to create their own audio program as a type of internet radio show. Shows are archived on the internet as MP3 files that are freely available. You can listen to a show at any time, on your time, not tied to a broadcast schedule. You don't need an MP3 player (iPod etc.) to listen to a podcast. You can listen through your computer or burn a CD and take it with you.

You can listen to, download, or subscribe to the Mojo Mom Podcast through our show's page at Liberated Syndication or the iTunes Music Store. The show is free either way.

I am asking you to try new technology as well as our new show, so as an incentive we will have a drawing to give away an iPod Nano MP3 player to one of our podcast listeners. The iPod Nano can hold about 500 songs, or 25 hours of podcasts. The iPod works with either a Mac or PC. You can find out how to enter the drawing by listening to an episode of our show (it is free to enter).

We will include the iPod drawing info in the shows we produce between October 5 and Nobember 6. On November 7 we'll draw a winner from all complete entries we've received.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Book review: Between Two Worlds by Zainab Salbi

I have been fortunate to get to know Zainab Salbi personally through my involvement with Women for Women International. Her new memoir reveals her past life in Iraq that has not shared with the world until this point. I highly recommend her new book, Between Two Worlds. Here is the review I just submitted to Amazon.com:

After founding Women for Women International, an organziation that empowers women survivors of war to rebuild their lives after conflict, Zainab Salbi found the courage and voice to tell her own story of growing up in Iraq under Saddam Hussein's control. Salbi's family was trapped in Hussein's inner circle through her father's role as Saddam's airplane pilot. Through her riveting narrative the reader comes to understand that no one in Iraq was safe from Saddam's wrath and destructive appetites. Salbi's searingly honest writing has helped her conquer a lifelong struggle to claim her own identity. Even years after founding WFWI, on a return trip to Iraq she could feel the old, despised label of being known as the "pilot's daughter" clinging to her. With her work and now her writing, Zainab Salbi has shown the transformative power of shining an illuminating light of truth-telling into the dark corners of secrecy and fear. Weaving her family's story with women's history and Iraq's political history, Salbi has created an emotional, beautifully-written, timely and relevant memoir.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Baltimore events to benefit Women for Women International

I have been very proud to be an official partner of Women for Women International. I donate $2 to their program for every copy of Mojo Mom that is sold through MojoMom.com.

Now I'm teaming up with another WFWI partner for two special events in the Baltimore area to benefit WFWI. Monyka Berrocosa-Marbach is the creator of the Women's Wine and Dine, a women-only night out that raises money for charity. Monyka cites Zainab Salbi's example as the founder of Women for Women International as one of the inspirations for creating a new opportunity to use her life to benefit worthy causes.

I'll be at the Batimore area events on November 9th and 10th. I will talk about women's leadership in an inclusive wayt that applies to mothers and all women.

Here's the link for information and registration. I hope you'll join us or forward this info to a friend in the Baltimore area.

Mojo Mom Women's Wine & Dine Events

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Nobel Prize News

I have much better news this morning. I woke up to find out that the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to my brother-in-law's Ph. D. advisor at U. C. Boulder. It's too early to call Colorado and get the details, but I am pretty sure the award encompasses work my brother-in-law had done.

This is so cool. Most of the time when people ask me if I'm related to so-and-so Tiemann, it's someone we don't know. We're very proud to claim Bruce and his family as part of ours!

Monday, October 03, 2005

An encounter with Howard Stern's idiotic pranksters

Life truly is strange. Today I was the target of a prank call from the Howard Stern Show. I was working at my desk when the phone rang, and it was a radio producer asking me to fill in for a guest who had cancelled at the last minute. Talking really quickly, he mentioned the ad I had placed in the magazine that radio producers read to find guests, said he was from WXRK radio, asked me to record a release to broadcast, and said they wanted to go live right then with a segment about Moms' Night Out.

It was really nerve-wracking to go live right then, even thinking it was a legit segment, but I was game.

The "hosts" "Rod" and "Jack" came on, and started asking me the normal questions I'd get in this circumstance, What's your book about? Why do women need Mom's nights out? Then it quickly got weirder. They brought on "Bobby the Janitor" who said his wife had gone out with her friends, had an affair, and gotten pregnant. They started asking me what I thought of that. I just started saying "This isn't what I am about at all." It got lewder, and now I knew it was fake and was looking for an exit strategy. When Bobby said, "here's my son now" and I guy came on pretending to be mentally disabled, I quickly said "This isn't for me" and I hung up. Someone tried to call twice after that but I didn't answer.

It's hard for me to know how this story comes across in writing, but it was a really yucky experience being dragged in to such an awful show. It's pretty scary to go on the radio in the best circumstances (Summarize your book in 4 seconds--go!) and to go live under false pretenses was not fun. I felt really used.

After I'd had time to shake off the feeling of falling for their prank for even a minute, I became proud of how I'd conducted myself. It even became a Spark Seminars moment, extracting myself from a jam. In Spark Seminars safety training, I encourage women to learn to say no in the smallest of coercive situations as practice for saying no in high-stakes situations. (This is good advice for parents teaching their kids as well.)

This Howard Stern stet-up actually had a lot in common with the way an acquainance rape situation is set up:

The "producers" established authority with their role, and validity by mentioning my real radio guest ad.

They rushed me on quickly which made the situation a bit confusing.

The "hosts" started out the interview as normal and slowly ramped up the weirdness. This is they key "compliance" factor--once I started participating it was hard to back out. To get away I had to do something rude and unprofessional myself by hanging up on a live radio interview--something I would never do normally.

Many coercive situations take advantage of this pattern. A "normal" social situation is set up to gain our trust and, importantly, our participation. Then things get inappropriate or pressured. By this time it would require us to be assertive or rude to leave, so we stay. Eventually physical force may be added to keep us there once an assault begins.

Our "niceness" is the weapon used against us. The best self-defense practice we can incorporate into our everyday life is to learn not to be controlled by our deeply-ingrained patterns of being nice and polite to everyone.

Practice hanging up on telemarketers. Tell a pushy salesperson to buzz off. Teach your daughters it is okay to say no to going on a date with someone she doesn't like. Don't open your front door to a solicitor you don't know. Practice in the weird, small opportunities that come up in daily life, even hanging up on Howard Stern. Then when a high-stakes situation comes along, you'll see it for what it is, and leave when you can.