What if I’m Just Here to Pour Your Coffee

Yesterday I found myself listing all the things I’ve made and done over the last 7 years. I started this list not because I was particularly proud, or couldn’t keep track (although it IS getting harder to do.) I listed them because I was terrified they wouldn’t be enough. It’s a real fear, now that my children are all finally in school. I am terrified that I am going back to the same space I was in 7 years ago.

7 years ago I was waitressing, 7 years ago I was pouring your coffee. 7 years ago Chicago was the purgatory between my previous life as a cubical slave and my future life of big adventure. I’m equally terrified and feel incredibly guilty when it seems that taking the time to stay at home with my children was not the adventure, but just what I did while I waited for it. What if my children have begun their autonomous lives, and I’m still just… waiting.

I tell myself that this is irrational, that this feeling of panic over my own autonomy is normal if slightly unjustified. After all, I’ve done so much in these past 7 years. I tell myself all stay at home parents go through this when their kids go to school, my children are not leaving for good, they’re just leaving for 7hrs a day, 5 days a week… But this month, these last few weeks, have felt like a slow motion free fall. No longer anchored to playgrounds and playdates,  I am left struggling to make sense of the silence.

I have kept myself busy. I marketed and produced a conference and community, I’m days away from launching Where are the Women with Marian, I’m in a hotel room in Portland preparing to speak at an entrepreneur conference, I’m planning another RVSX excursion, and planning new classes and events for the CWDevs community. Despite all this, I feel like I’m standing still. Without the normal constraints on my time, without the tug on my sleeve or demand for a sandwich while I take phone calls, all this action feels like atrophy.

What if, after all this time, I can’t function without the freneticness? What if my hustle was just a way of keeping sane through the routines of parenting small children? What if breaking my day into those tiny pieces of attention was exactly what my creative brain needed? When I mention this confusion of time and pace, my friends tell me to slow down, take a breather… but these are my childless friends, my friends that haven’t been waiting 7 years for their lives to be even remotely their own. These are friends that don’t understand that the constraints of full time motherhood that made my accomplishments seem extraordinary last year, are no longer there, and I may just be ordinary, after all. What if I slow down and find I’m just “waitress”, what if this last 7 years of waiting didn’t count, what if I’m just here to pour your coffee?

You’re Not Awesome.

Today, someone I never met took his own life in front of his neighborhood church. Today I looked at all he presented himself to be online, a helpful, wonderful, productive citizen – and I would have never guessed he would ever have wanted to take anyone’s life, much less his own. Every piece of his online persona was so warm and wonderful. Today people that knew him are grieving, and baffled, and angry, and my heart hurts for them. Continue reading You’re Not Awesome.

Take Advantage of Advantage

Have you ever heard the term “Home team advantage” – usually having to do with either playing a game on your home turf or knowing your “team” has your back? I’d like it if everybody knew what their home team advantages were and took advantage of them. All too often, I hear of people wanting to succeed regardless of who their home teams are and I’m all for that, but through stubborn hardheadedness they work in spite of the home team advantage, inadvertently snubbing those that could help them most with subtle “I don’t need you, I can make it on my own” mantra. That’s fine, but unless you are the Clint Eastwood hero character in Dirty Harry it’s probably not going to work for you.

The world doesn’t need more heroes going it alone in inhospitable landscapes, it’s hard to follow a leader who refuses to foster community. The world needs people who take advantage of advantage, that know the worth of their “home team” and realize, especially now that social networking has enabled us to have a myriad of “home teams”, that we are all just one home run away from succeeding thanks to our hugely varied support networks.

My advice, take advantage of advantage, if you find you have it, and it serves you well without damaging your integrity, take it, run with it as you round all the bases – thank your fans in the stands for supporting you, take a bow, and show em’ how it’s done before doing it again.

(Sports analogies – a new one for me)

Real Communities Win on the Internet

I got an interesting call the other day from a Rabbi, “Hello, is this Melissa Pierce?”

“Yes”

“I would like you to help my school win a Facebook contest.”

Huh?

The school flew me out to Brooklyn for a meeting, I taught them how to build a Facebook page, I explained twitter, I explained that when I helped Friendship circle in the Chasegiving campaign they were relentless in getting votes. I explained that it would be hard, very hard, for a school that had no social media presence or persistance to make a Facebook contest work. They said they would give it their all. I flew back to Chicago.

Two weeks have passed since then, and there hasn’t been much happening with their Facebook account, or their twitter account, or with their PR efforts, yet  they stay in the top twenty of the Kohl’s Cares contest, which is all they have to do to win the $500,000 Kohl’s is giving away… huh? (again)

I ask them, “What are you doing to get these votes?”  They tell me, “We sent out an email to the parents and donors, we’re walking with laptops at events and in shopping malls, we’re asking diners at restaurants we frequent, we’re reaching out to our community.”

DUH! Why didn’t I think of that! Community: Holy freaking crap. Even without all the social media mumbo jumbo that gets spewed all over the internet about engagement and community online, they are winning a Facebook contest without it. They have a real life social network, and it’s winning… on the internet.

Go figure, and go vote for them, the word all over the street is that the school needs a new roof and all you have to do is vote of Facebook to help them. Of course, if you live anywhere near Crown Street in Brooklyn you’ve probably had a bearded fellow in a kippah approach you with a laptop already.