Assemble Blog: Those Girls--The Art of Being a Business Lady

From Assemble: A Well-Crafted Blog post, 2.7.13

Last week, we were lucky enough to attend a reading by one of my husband's literary heroes. George Saunders was speaking at the Town Hall in downtown Seattle: he read a hilarious, yet poignant new story and despite my hesitance to even attend, it was definitely a touching moment as it brought me back to my writing roots.

However, I had a run-in with a person that got me thinking a lot about different creative fields and their own subsequent "those girls." I sat behind a woman who made it her business to speak loudly enough for everyone within five or six rows to hear. It was obvious that the woman was a published author, but I couldn't imagine that she was incredibly successful due to her attitude about writing and her readers. She went on and on about how it "ruins her day" to call into or visit book clubs, and how that night's guest speaker's book was "meh." Her holier than thou attitude was incredibly off-putting, to me and many around us. So much so that we made it a point to get her name so that we could google her later. It turns out, that this woman (who will remain nameless) is actually the author of a very well-known and acclaimed novel on the New York Times Best Seller list at the moment, and her book was just optioned for a movie. For some reason, this knowledge made the entire situation even worse to me. I can't imagine being gifted such a marvelous opportunity to share my work with so many people who loved it, and be bothered. I vowed to never read her book and went on with my night.

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Catty story aside, we all know that there are women like this in every field. You may have met them or worked with them, and walked away with this breadth of icky knowledge of their actual attitude towards their work, fans or otherwise, and wondered, "Why am I even working this hard when someone like that has earned everything I ever wished for and doesn't even care?" There have been many hurtful situations like this in my life, and I have to admit (embarrassingly) that I fell for it every time. I had a pity party in my house drinking wine, eating spoonfuls of Nutella and sobbing about how there just is no justice in the world and how "nice guys finish last" and "oh woe is me, please pass the Merlot." Shocking outcome: this didn't get me anywhere. We don't have to take this kind of behavior in any area of our lives. We don't need to lay into these people, nor should we brown-nose them. The truth is: we should be pleasant and ignore their behavior, and focus on our own goals and dreams.

I know what you're thinking, and I'm with you! At the aforementioned reading, we ended up behind this woman in the line to get our books signed and of course I did my best to embarrass my husband by proclaiming (loudly) "Ohhh greattt! Look who we're behind!?!" She heard me. And I didn't care. But let's be honest, that was rude. And incredibly unladylike, which brings me to my point.

In terms of traditional etiquette, beautifully defined by Emily Post: "The attributes of a great lady may still be found in the rule of the four S's: Sincerity, Simplicity, Sympathy, and Serenity."

Here are the Four S's personalized to my ideals:
Sincerity: Be honest about who you are and who you AREN'T.
Simplicity: It's not that complicated--hard work, integrity, kindness.
Sympathy: Helping others won't hinder your personal brand.
Serenity: Know that what goes around comes around--in terms of the positive and the negative.

Emily Post's quote goes hand-in-hand with our previous post about "lighting others' candles." People don't forget the negative, but they don't forget the positive either. In our daily work (whatever it may be) an attitude of genuine respect and probity will move you to places that may not be where you dreamed, but will definitely be meaningful and real. We don't always have to be rays of sunshine (believe me, I feel like bottom photo of Betty Draper a lot of the time) but there is a decency that we owe ourselves and others in the pursuit of our goals, and especially after we reach them. There is nothing to regret when one acts like a "lady." Boys, just apply this in terms of the opposite. It's all the same.

Images via AMC//Mad Men

Apartment Therapy: Are You Overstyled?

From an Apartment Therapy post on 11.1.12

I'm torn on the subject of "propping" your home. There are a lot of things that I have had my entire life that are suddenly trendy in chic modern-living magazines and blogs. For example, my collection of vintage typewriters that I use for my business, or the antler mount that my outdoorsman father

made me when I was kid from found antlers in Colorado. When does styling your home go from being a genuine expression of yourself to a carbon copy of home styling photos?

It seems we see a lot of the same pieces in homes styled in completely different ways. This situation poses the question: do lovers of design and interiors have like-minded taste, or do they simply copy and paste? I believe that each situation is unique in itself and there is no way to form a judgement just by looking at a photo. Everyone's homes have unique and different stories.

A few months back, I posted a makeover of my office area to cries of "what would you need with a typewriter or a big spool of yarn!?" As I own a small gallery and shop, I use those two items daily to create stationery and place tags on products. How could people know that, unless I outwardly explained it? They probably couldn't. However, do everyone's items serve a distinct purpose? Probably not. Does that make them disingenuous? We'd love to hear your thoughtful opinions.

(Image: "my old antler mount" by Andie Powers, from 2011 House call)

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Apartment Therapy: Looking Back

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Apartment Therapy Clip from 8.7.12

Now that I'm an adult, I can look back at the number of times we moved when I was a kid (a total of twelve or thirteen), and reflect fondly about how each place we lived shaped my character as I was growing up. Having been an Air Force brat, I was privileged to live in countries that most kids had never even heard of, and visit even more.

I stand by my opinion that moving as a child is beneficial to emotional and cultural growth, but as an eight year old, I really just didn't want to be the new kid at school again. No matter how much foresight you have as a parent that your child will be fine a few months after this move, take it from me; that is the last thing they ever want to hear. These tips, however, will help in the process:

1. After you have made the decision (or have been told, in the case of some careers) that you will be moving, be as upfront and honest with your children as possible. Knowledge about the future makes kids feel empowered, secure and also part of the decisions.

2. Be prepared for all types of reactions. Upon hearing the news of our sixth move (to England from Virginia) I choked on my peas in tears at dinner, and my brother started bouncing up and down with excitement. Expect anything.

3. Explain everything in ways your kids can understand. For younger kids, be specific about moving things and people to other destinations in trucks and boxes. For older kids, visit community websites on the internet together to see what's in store for your new hometown.

4. Let your child be emotional. This may take awhile for your kids. School is a tough place, and younger kids will most likely do much better. For preteens or teenagers, starting a new school can be nothing short of excruciating. Try to understand, listen, wipe away tears, and help them remember that one day, they won't be the new kid anymore.

5. Try to get internet and television set up as soon as possible in your new home. I know this sounds silly, but as a kid, regular TV shows and nowadays, social networking, will help your child feel as if they are in a familiar environment. The Simpsons got me through about ten whole years of moving.

6. When in doubt, book an appointment for your child to talk to a therapist. Teenagers especially need to vent, and most of the time, not to their parents.

7. If you're not a mover, teach your kids to treat the "new kid" with kindness and respect. There's nothing scarier than being alone.

Got some to add? I'd love to hear them!

(Image: Me in the red hoodie with my brother, 1984, after third move. Photo by Ronda Wurster)