The Thirty-Day Challenge

This TED talk inspired me to take photos every day for a month. When my 750 Nikon was stolen last fall, I replaced with with a Nikon 800, but I put it in the safe, locked it up, and stopped shooting. I also bought an Olympus, but fear of loosing my equipment stopped me in my tracks. This 30-day challenge will get me back in the saddle.

Why I Like Engineers

Bugs in the Code

I once wrote a personals ad in code. I was living Austin. Every programmer within a hundred miles must have responded, offering to rewrite my code and fix the bugs. The suggested patches were hilarious. I wrote one guy for quite a while, even though it was clear that we weren’t compatible, just because he was so witty. At one point, we even wrote each other jokes in binary code.

I like programmers, engineers, researchers and mathematicians because I know how they think. It is not true that right-brain people lack creativity. I know plenty who are also quite accomplished in visual and performing arts. For example, the other researcher with whom I shared an office played bass with a band that performed at the Broken Spoke and I know a programmer who is a kick-ass dancer.

I am not from Venus. I am a Mars chick. We have a problem, I am going to cuss like a Marine, yell “plot twist”, and then we are going to fix that shit because fixing shit is what I do. The obstacle IS the path. Obstacles are where life changes and all kinds of opportunities present themselves. For me, the solution has to produce better conditions than before the problem appeared: a better boyfriend, a better painting, a better place to live.

To survive is good, but thriving is elegant. If my last job hadn’t been so vile and odious, I wouldn’t have quit, and wouldn’t be living in one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. If the place I was renting hadn’t gone up for sale, I wouldn’t be living in the historic center of San Miguel in a house with a swing in the bathroom.

So lean into the obstacles. Be like a kid on an Easter egg hunt; look for opportunities. Don’t just survive, thrive. Find the elegant solution.

What They Told Me To Be

To remember who you are

They told me not to raise my hand so much when I knew the answer because boys didn’t like smart girls; that mathematics, engineering and science was something boys did; that I “had a lot of imagination” when I said I was going to travel around the world (said by the family doctor while patting me on the head); that women didn’t make good “hard scientists” (by way of a greeting the first day on the job); that my primary purpose was to be a wife and mother; that I should quit my job, but if I worked, the housework was still my responsibility; that if I didn’t believe in God, my life would end badly, and; – within the past 12 months – that independent people were hard to love, men were intimidated by me, and finding a partner would be very difficult because I was too accomplished (three separate comments, the first one from a woman and the last two from men.)

Know what? I just laugh and let it go in one ear and out the other. I must have been eight when I figured out comments like these were about caging someone in. I remember thinking in that doctor’s office, “This man has no idea who I am. I am going to travel around the world and that is that.”

I don’t do cages. Never have. And life is great. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. So forget what you were told to be and be who you are. Kick those voices out of your head. Make your life your greatest work of art. PS: It’s OK to be afraid. Fear is my nearly constant companion. As Georgia O’Keeffe said, “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

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