You Can’t Trade a Sister for a Prada Purse

There's something about a sister. You love 'em. You can't turn 'em into a brother.

Or, a really nice Prada purse. I'm sure my sister, a major fashionista, would appreciate a really nice pair of Louboutin's rather than having to deal with me sometimes. You can't blame her. I mean, unlike me, shoes don't ask to stay in your extra bedroom, drool all over your expensive clothes and use you as a personal concierge right?

My sister and I have always been a study in contrasts where our differences were more numerous than our similarities. Other than a lovely pair of parents and two older brothers that is. After spending more than a decade in Chicago, I decided to move to Boulder nearly 3 years ago. This month I decided to go back to visit after a 2 year absence. This time the differences in who we are and how we live our lives became even more pronounced.

My sister generally lives a life of stability and order. She married, became a mother of two beautiful girls, is an immigration lawyer for a major corporation and remained a very pragmatic woman with a great deal of focus and will power.  She has impeccable taste and always looks amazing.

Her sister is not any of those things. Single and childless, I have a strong wanderlust and once lived in 6 different places in a year and a half. I help tech startups and growing businesses create strong marketing programs and haven't held a "real" job in a number of years. While pragmatism runs in the family, the stronger part of me leans more towards creativity, independence and fluidity. My style tends to be much more casual, my clothes don't always *quite* match and I'm prone to wearing skulls on my clothing and jewelry.

As you can imagine, the lenses with which we view the world come in very different shades. Let me demonstrate…

Upon seeing this photo of my dog my sister asked:

"Is your dog wearing a necklace?"
Um, that's a dog collar.

I'm still chuckling over that one.

Of course a few hours later I was the one who uttered:
"I think she hurt her paw."
About my 6 year old niece.

I'm sure my sister thought it was a very good idea that I didn't have children.

Louboutin Maggie 140 You Cant Trade a Sister for a Prada PurseFamilies are funny. Sisters even more so. As the holidays rapidly come to a bittersweet end I'm sure you can relate. You might be wondering if an alien stork brought that sibling or cousin to the doorstep instead of a version that seemed more like you. But having someone who shares your blood but a very different perspective is a good thing. Difference is what makes the world a rich beautiful place and what makes it turn on it axis.

And? While trying to walk in my sister's size too big Louboutins may not be easy at least I get some really nice hand-me-downs that I'd never be able to afford. And, she gave me the two most beautiful nieces I could ever have hoped for.

Yep. I'm a lucky girl.


You’re Not Alone. Everybody Goes Through That.

Creative? Have ideas but don't always know how to execute them in the way you see them in your head?

Ira Glass has a few words for you.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.


How to Cozy up to Failure

Failure is tough for most of us. In the corporate world it's might easier to stave off the failure beast by shears numbers but it's endemic to startup life. So if you want to be in that world you're gonna have to learn how to get cozy with it.  Don Dodge of Google recently spoke about this topic at the TechStars founders' conference in Las Vegas. Here are a few of my favorites gems.

Don Dodge:

"Success is a terrible teacher. It masks underlying problems."

"Failure is making a mistake twice and not learning from it."

"Failure is one of the steps you have to take to get to success."

Cozying Up to Failure

For me the most surprising piece of wisdom is that success isn't a great teacher but that failure is. And, it's truly the only way to success. So, embrace the fact that you're going to fail and curl up with this informative talk from This Week in TechStars. If you're like me it will help you beat back the failure shame monster so you can go forward and create.


Throw Away the F&%*#ing Map

"To be lost is to be fully present, and to be fully present is to be capable of being in uncertainty."
Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Morocco Mess1 Throw Away the F&%*#ing Map

I used to have a thing about getting lost. Hated it. Braced against it with piles and piles of maps.  Until I went to Morocco. Besides being my first time on the African continent the other reason I went was for the souks–amazing little shops filled with local wares. The souks were located in the old walled-in city of Marrakech known as the Medina. Twisting streets lined with exotic goods, the souks are one place where a map is absolutely useless. If you are going to explore the delicious mayhem of the souks you must:

1. Abandon the map

2. Being willing get lost

You'll also need to have lots of dirhams (the local currency) to give to small children who demand money to give you directions. In those twisty, narrow streets, I learned to love the feeling of not knowing quite where I was going but knowing that I'd land just where I needed to be. Even if it wasn't where I intended. Once I consented to being "lost" I learned how to explore and feel more comfortable with uncertainty. And sometimes you're closer than you think.

Being Lost is a State of Mind

My dog likes to run away. It's not that she's a bad dog. She's just curious and gets bored easily so if an escape route is presented to her–she's gonna take it. I've received so many calls from people telling me they had a "little black dog" that it's become her nickname. Of course the little black dog doesn't know she's lost. She's just exploring.

Maybe you're not lost. Maybe you're just exploring.


A Simple Question

It's that time of year. Yep. New Year's Resolution time.

If you're anything like me let me tell you what's going to happen. Feeling fat and loathsome after a long holiday of eating, being sedentary, spending too much and not doing much you…

Step 1: Make a whole bunch of resolutions that are largely unachievable.

Step 2: Break all of them within a month.

Step 3: Feel like crap about yourself so go back to eating, being sedentary, spending too much and not doing much.

Step 4: Feel guilty. Berate yourself.

Step 5: Go back to Step 1. And repeat.

Speeding Train 300x300 A Simple Question

Don't do this. Now, let me offer you something that really works. Something I also do randomly all year-round is to ask myself a very simple question.

Is my life better or worse than a year ago?

It started as a random wandering of my brain many years ago and has evolved into a practice. This barometer check allows me to quickly break things down in a very black and white way so that I can assess and take action. It's like my very own Timehop but with action.

I did it reflexively today. My mind wandered back to what I was doing a year ago today. At that time I was in an unhappy relationship. I didn't know what I wanted to do next. Trust in myself. Pretty close to negligible. This year? I'm happily single, I'm doing work I love and I trust myself to make decisions that put myself first. Also? I trust that everything I need will come to me.

Like my assessment today the answer is generally yes. On the rare occasion I can't honestly answer in the affirmative it means it's time for a reinvention, refocus or double down.

So…Is your life better or worse than a year ago?