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Paying It Forward to an Aspiring Flash Mob Organizer

This past Friday night, I was sitting at home watching a movie when my phone chimed with a new email. It was from a fifteen year-old girl in Ohio. She wanted to do a flash mob in response to violence in her community. She’d never done anything like this before and she wanted some help.

I was quite impressed by her email. It was so sweet that she was trying hard to be respectful. You could tell she put some time and effort into writing this. She started it with “Dear Ms. Ruth Carter…” and closed with “Sincerely” and her full name. She was upfront about her age and that she couldn’t afford to hire me. She said that she and her friends wanted to do a flash mob to “get the young adults in my city to do something fun and to stop the violence” but they didn’t want to cause any trouble because “the city legal justice system has enough to deal with.” And she thanked me for my time even if I couldn’t help.

Listen by Johan Larsson from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Listen by Johan Larsson from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Her message came in around 8pm my time, so that means it was 11pm her time. What 15 year-old sends thoughtful emails to a lawyer late on a Friday night? I was inspired to help her. I scooped up my phone and responded with, “Give me a call. Right now. I’ll give you some tips,” and I included my personal cell phone number.

I’m sure she didn’t expect that.

I’ve had a few moments in my life where I’ve sent an email and received the “Give me a call right now” response. And those messages usually get my heart racing because there’s no time to prepare for the conversation.

About ten minutes later, my phone rang. I walked around the house for about twenty minutes, sharing stories from my flash mob experiences and how I approach planning events with this young lady. (I tend to pace when I’m excited or nervous. It helps get my creative juices flowing too.) I suggested that her group look at their ideas from an outsider’s perspective and think about what they might be doing wrong and what they might be accused of doing wrong. We talked about deciding when to ask for permission vs when to ask for forgiveness. I shared with her my experiences with getting in trouble with mall cops and why malls are generally a bad location for flash mobs. We also talked about who she could partner with and I was pleased to hear that she has contacts in her police department who can advise her.

At one point in the conversation, she called me “ma’am.” I was amused that she was being so respectful. I bet it is intimidating to be fifteen and talking with a lawyer who is almost twenty years her senior. I totally get it even though I thought it was funny. When I was fifteen, every adult except my gymnastics coaches were “Mr.” or “Mrs.” plus their last name. To this day, there are some adults who I still address as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” I giggled and told her to call me “Ruth.”

It felt really good to pay it forward to this young lady. So many people have been exceptionally generous with their time and knowledge when I was young and it’s nice to be able to do the same for someone else. I told her to keep me in the loop and to let me know how her flash mob goes. It sounds like her heart is in the right place so I hope she can pull it off.

Creativity For Sale – An Interview with Jason SurfrApp

Photo provided by Jason SurfrApp

Photo provided by Jason SurfrApp

I’ve known Jason SurfrApp since he was wearing t-shirts professionally through IWearYourShirt. He was the person who inspired me to create Sponsor A Law Kid to offset the cost of law school. He has since gone on to auction off his last name (twice) and become a maven in the marketing world who seems to be able to get sponsorship for everything. This week, Jason published his first book, Creativity For Sale, where he shares his story and how to turn your passion into profit. He was kind enough to field some questions from me.

Why Did You Write This Book – Besides To Make Money?
During the first few months of 2013 I was feeling pretty down. The business I had built and killed myself to make successful since 2009 (IWearYourShirt) wasn’t doing as well anymore and I was starting to get burnt out. I attended a life-changing conference – and I never say stuff like that- in Fargo, ND in May 2013. At that event I listened to some amazing speakers and I was also a speaker. Instead of my normal “success” talk about IWearYourShirt, I opened up and shared that things weren’t going well. That was the first time I was ever publicly vulnerable, and while it was incredibly uncomfortable and difficult it felt like I had lifted a 600-pound gorilla off my back. When I returned home from the event I had lunch with a friend. While shoving a burrito in my face my friend convinced me that I should write a book about my entrepreneurial journey.

My Signed Copy of Creativity For Sale

My Signed Copy of Creativity For Sale

What’s The One Lesson You Want Readers To Take From Your Book?
I want people to give themselves permission to follow their passions and try to make money doing what they love. It won’t be easy, but the best things in life are earned.

It Took A Lot Of Guts To Start A Business, Auction Off Your Last Name, And To Write This Book. How Do You Combat Fear When It Creeps Into Your Professional Life?
It may not seem like it, but I do a lot of planning, thinking, and strategy before I launch any project. In that pre-launch time I weigh all my options and think about the potential risks and fears I have. The majority of them have to do with people not supporting the projects financially or someone saying negative comments about it. The negative comments are an easy fear to overcome: People will say negative things and 99% of the time it’s because those people are unhappy, not because the project is bad. When thinking about someone not supporting a project financially, I just ask myself “what’s the worst that will happen?”

What Words Of Wisdom Do You Have For Anyone Who Wants To Do A Sponsored Event (Or Life)?
#1 You don’t get what you don’t ask for.
#2 You will hear “No’s” and that’s perfectly okay. Remember that people aren’t saying “No” because of you, they’re saying “No” because the project doesn’t align with their goals, they don’t have the budget, it’s bad timing, etc.

Creativity For Sale Page 162

Creativity For Sale Page 162

How Do You Define “Success?”
Success used to look like $1,000,000 in the bank, driving a Ferrari, and retiring by age 35. I realized that I don’t need $1M in the bank to be happy and live a fulfilled life. I took time last year to look at the things that really mattered to me and in doing so realized that I didn’t need anywhere near $1M in the bank to meet those needs. My previous measures of success were completely driven by societal pressures and I’m ignoring those now. Instead, I’m focusing on having financial freedom (no debt and enough money to not have to worry about making my mortgage each month), having the ability to work from anywhere in the world, and being able to work on whatever projects I want. The definition of “success” will evolve continuously for me and I’m cool with that.

What’s The Meaning Of Life?
Doing what you love and living a life of intention. Don’t let the fears of other people get in the way of your dreams.

What’s Up Next For You?
I’m super excited for creative professionals, entrepreneurs, business owners, etc., to grab a copy of my new book Creativity For Sale. I’ll be on the road quite a bit for the rest of this year promoting the book through public speaking. I’m also launching a new project with the book called The Rebel Within Us where I’ll be helping people unleash their inner rebel and learn how to make money doing what they love through various paid products and resources.

I’m really excited to read Jason’s book and hopefully his speaking tour will bring him through Phoenix. He’s a fun guy. You should meet him in person if you have the chance. And check out his book – my law firm sponsored page 162!

Minimalism Project Recap – Eliminate Paper Clutter

I challenged myself last month to take steps to eliminate the paper clutter in my life. Before starting project, I would let papers that needed to be filed pile up on the kitchen counter. If people were coming over, I would move the pile from the kitchen to the bedroom, and about four months later I’d take an hour to sort and file the massive pile of papers.

My project for May 2014 was to deal with every new piece of paper in my life within 24 hours, preferably before I went to bed that night. So here’s how it went.

For the most part, the project was a success. The only papers that sat on my counter for a limited amount of time are bills (that get paid every Friday) and grocery store ads (that get recycled when the next ones arrive in the mail). Many times, the 24-hour rule forced me to file papers I keep within minutes of coming in the door. It was a great habit to solidify. Often times, it was faster to deal with papers right away than when I’d let them pile up.

It wasn’t always easy or successful. Sometimes I go to networking events and I get back to the office with a stack of business cards. It’s time consuming to enter the data from each card into my contact database and there were a few nights I was up late, sometimes painfully tired, getting all the data in before I’d let myself go to bed.

Working Through My Phoenix Business Journal Last Week

Working Through My Phoenix Business Journal Last Week

The hardest thing to deal with was newspapers and magazines. I get the Phoenix Business Journal (PBJ) every week and I get a few professional magazines every month as part of my memberships in professional organizations. It’s hard to go through each one within 24 hours of their arrival, and I can’t always predict when they will arrive so I can’t set aside time for them. And I think part of it is a fear that going through each one will take a lot of time – and that’s not necessarily true. Here’s a typical process I go through with each edition of the PBJ:

  • Flip through the paper – read the articles that are relevant to my work, skim the rest (or at least read the headlines).
  • Highlight the articles that require a follow-up – people I know or people I want to meet
  • Tear the pages with highlights out. Recycle the rest.
  • Take the highlighted pages to my laptop and send follow up emails. Note the interactions in my database.

I only have to send a few emails per editions, and sometimes it’s zero. Take home lesson: Dealing with these publications (which are filled with ads I don’t read) takes a lot less time than I think. It’s usually less than an hour, significantly less.

I wish I’d made it a bigger priority to clean out my existing files, in particular to take my receipts in Taxes 2014 folder and put them in the Taxes 2014 binder that has dividers to help me stay organized. I started the binder last month and every new receipt goes into it, but there’s a file folder of accumulated receipts that may not get sorted until 2015 when I’m working on next year’s taxes.

So what’s next in my minimalism project? I think it’s my CDs. I have a CD binder full of albums I rarely look at. Some people would say just to chuck it out, because if it’s that important, I’ve already ripped it into my iTunes. I think I’ll go through it one more time, make sure everything’s ripped, keep a few albums I play in the car, and then get rid of the rest.

Frustrating Arizona Board of Governors Election Results

Ugh – What were people thinking?

Last week, the State Bar of Arizona announced the results of the Board of Governors election. This was a critical vote because the Board recently voted to increase our bar dues by $60/year despite receiving a report that this would result in the Bar having a cash surplus of $3.7 million by 2019. (This passed by one vote.) Prior to the vote on bar dues, Arizona already had one of the highest bar dues in the nation. (And we’re a mandatory bar, so you can’t be a licensed Arizona attorney unless you’re a member of the State Bar.)

Thirty-three people ran for the nine slots on Board for Maricopa County – eight of which were incumbents. I thought it was awesome that so many people were interested in making a difference in how the State Bar operates. I made my list of candidates whose actions and profile were compatible with how I wanted my State Bar to govern me.

Here are the nine people who won the election in Maricopa County:

  • Melissa Ho (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)*
  • Lisa Loo (Incumbent, Voted For the Increase)
  • Geoffrey Trachtenberg (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)*
  • Steven Hirsch
  • Samuel Saks (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)*
  • David Derickson (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)*
  • Diane Drain (Incumbent, Voted For the Increase)
  • Richard Coffinger (Incumbent, Opposed the Increase)
  • Jennifer Rebholz *

* = On my short list of candidates

"'nough said..." by Arnaud DG from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

“‘nough said…” by Arnaud DG from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

What is up with the power of the incumbency?! With thirty-three people running, I’m surprised that we’re only adding two new faces to the Board for Maricopa County. I seriously wonder how many people voted for people they liked vs people who supported their beliefs about how the State Bar should govern its members. Our Board has a history that lacks transparency and they voted to increase our dues that made no sense when they crunched the numbers.

I was pleased to read that we had the highest voter turnout ever for a Board of Governors’ election, but that statement is pretty pathetic when the State Bar announced that only 35% of eligible voters participated in the election. With ~12,000 attorneys in Maricopa County, that means 7,800 people didn’t vote. 7,800 people forfeited their right to bitch about how the Board operates until the next election.

This lack of participation suggests a lack of responsibility among our members, and that makes me sad and frustrating. We’re a self-regulating profession – why wouldn’t you vote when given a say in how we operate?

These results help me understand why some of my fellow legal eagles say that nothing’s ever going to change with the Board. But I hope that in the increase in voter  participation and the fact that a significant number of people who were elected are dedicated to transparency and fiscal responsibility are signs that change is possible and coming in the State Bar. I hope the next Board will have the power and pull they need to fix some of the mistakes previous Boards made and to be more dedicated to providing value to the State Bar’s members.

 

Sleeping in Running Gear – Yeah It Works

Now that The Night Run 10K is behind me, I’ve turned my running energy to building my strength, speed, and stamina as I head into starting marathon training in the fall. But here’s the downside of training in Phoenix in the summer – it’s freaking hot. And when I have to run and walk the dog before it gets too hot, my day begins early. It’s usually still dark outside when I start pounding pavement. By the way, running at first light is awesome. The sky is absolutely gorgeous as it shifts from black, to royal blue, to pink.

Uphill - Explored by Don McCollough from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Uphill – Explored by Don McCollough from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Something got me thinking – Wouldn’t it be more efficient to sleep in running clothes? I sleep in shorts and t-shirt every night so changing it up for running gear is just adding a sports bra to the mix. I kicked the question out on Reddit, and I was surprised by the number of responses I got that were negative. I understand why someone who wears the same running gear multiple times might not want to sleep in in smelly clothes with dried sweat all over them, but I didn’t understand how it could be uncomfortable to sleep in a sports bra if it fits well. Maybe that’s an issue that only affects people with big boobs.

I started sleeping in my workout gear when I’m going running the next morning about a week ago. I sleep in my shorts, sports bra, and shirt and near the bed are my socks, reflective belt, iPod, and shoes. It is a little weird to lie down in bed with the extra layer on top and shorts that have a liner, but I’m usually so tired that I fall asleep within minutes. And it’s comfortable enough to sleep through the night.

Sleeping in my running clothes has definitely made a difference. When I wake up to my alarm clock at 0-dark-thirty, not only can I get dressed faster, I’m more motivated to get up and going. When I sleep in regular pajamas, there could be the thought of “five more minutes” or “I’m so tired.” When I sleep in my running gear, I wake up thinking, “Time to get up.” Not running is not an option. I’m keenly aware of this shift in my perspective and it’s very cool.

The comments on Reddit evened out after the first set of responders were all negative, and several of them agreed that sleeping in running gear is more about motivation than saving time. Conversely, I had an overwhelming positive response when I posted this to my Facebook wall: “Yes, I sleep in my workout clothes when I’m planning to go jogging first thing in the morning. I know it’s weird, but it works.” These were some of the responses:

  • I have been doing the same thing for years now. One less step in the morning and motivation that I am technically ready to exercise and have no excuse.
  • One person’s weird is another person’s fucking brilliant.
  • That is just plain sexy.

Yeah, my friends are awesome.

Official Return to Racing – The Night Run 2014

It’s official – I’m back to racing.

After being sidelined for over a year with shin splints and plantar fasciitis, enduring painful ASTYM courtesy of Endurance Rehab, and learning a brand new running posture, I ran The Night Run 10K in Scottsdale over the weekend. I can say for certain that I’m back and I’m loving it.

I was so giddy and nervous to run again. Would I remember my new running posture? How will my pace compare to my last race? I love the energy of race expos – everyone’s friendly, helpful, and bubbling with anticipation for the race. I’d never done The Night Run before and didn’t know what to expect. I was definitely surprised by the number of people. A friend said he’d heard that there were 1800-1900 signed up for the race.

My Medal from The Night Run - It Glows in the Dark

My Medal from The Night Run – It Glows in the Dark

The race started after sunset at 7:30 p.m.  We got glow bracelets in our goody bags but that was more being seen than being able to see. I was grateful for the police cars that blocked traffic with their lights flashing and the volunteers who waved multicolored light saber-esque sticks to guide us along the route.

The Night Run was a 5K and a 10K – one loop through the course for the 5K, two loops for the 10K. The first lap was super crowded. I weaved through the herd of people, fighting for a position where I could maintain my pace.  The second lap was much more relaxed since there were only 705 people who opted to do the 10K.

My new running form felt great. I was more thoughtful about what my feet were doing when I started getting tired. That helped keep up my pace. I’ve been running 3-4 days a week for the last few months, but I’d only done one 6-mile run, and this was my first time really pushing myself for speed.

I love the playful competitiveness on the course. There were a handful of people around me and we went back and forth on who was the leader. I amused myself by staying right with a guy who was trying to pass me. I got the vibe that he didn’t want to be beaten by a girl. We switched places a few times during the race, and around Mile 4.5 he really seemed to want to get ahead of me. I kept up and egged him on by kicking up my speed so he’d have to run that much faster to hold his position.

Part of the race hand a strong head wind. It probably started around Mile 2/Mile 5. It was so windy it dried all the sweat on my face into a salty crust. My lips felt so chapped. And since this race was two loops, I got to experience this twice.

Somewhere around Mile 5.5, I almost started crying. I had the thought that my coach and mentor who died last year would have been really proud to see that I was back out running and happy after going through three months of physical therapy and the frustration of learning a new running form.

My goal was to finish the race in under an hour. I was ecstatic to see that I finished in 52:31.

  • Overall: 119/707
  • Gender: 33/422
  • Division: 7/81

I try not to care about where I place. Ultimately, running is about me competing against myself. I could to a personal best and finish last or have the worst race of my life and finish first. The real winning is with me – being prepared, running a solid race, pushing myself to leave everything I have on the course.

Somewhere along the race I asked myself if running was what I was supposed to be doing, and I think it is. There is something very satisfying about getting out and pounding pavement, and I genuinely enjoy the race experience.

So what’s next? I’m not exactly sure but the plan for now is to do the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in January 2015. Historically, they have a special on National Running Day in June so I’ll wait ‘til then to register. Training for the race will start in early September.  I might do another 10K or half marathon between now and then if I find the right opportunity, but we’ll see.

It just feels good to be back.

New Minimalism Project – Eliminate Paper Clutter

Part of the challenge/fun of being an aspiring minimalist isn’t just getting rid of stuff that doesn’t add value to my life but also not bringing new things into my home that are superfluous and create clutter. I’ve notice one of the things that creates a lot of clutter in my life is paper. I subscribe to the Phoenix Business Journal and sometimes it takes me a few weeks to find time to read it; I get business cards from new contacts at networking events; I get flyers and handouts of useful information. I get bills and financial statements that I hold onto for tax purposes; but, unfortunately, I suck at filing them so they will become a massive pile on my desk and every few months I’ll take an hour to sort it all out.

Collectible Cards by J Aaron Farr from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Collectible Cards by J Aaron Farr from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

This month I’m challenging myself to eliminate the paper clutter in my life. I want to get rid of the stacks of paper that are around the house. They’re not as bad as they used to be, but they’re still there. I also want to try to adopt a rule that every piece of paper that comes into the house has to be put away or recycled within 24 hours of crossing the threshold. This will be a big challenge when I get the latest issue of the Phoenix Business Journal or I get a massive stack of business cards from networking events. Last year I went through my stacks of business cards, updated my contact database, and threw them all out. I don’t want those stacks to come back because I’m never going to look at them again. If someone wants a recommendation, I’ll look it up.

When it comes to organizing my records, I’ve noticed that I prefer to use binders instead of file folders. It’s just easier to manage everything. I got a bunch of binders from a friend last year who was cleaning out their office and they’ve been sitting on a bookshelf. I want to take some of my paper file, three-hold punch the documents I need to keep, and organize them in binders so I can easily find what I’m looking for when I need it instead of having to potentially go through every page in the file. This will be especially handy for documents and receipts I have to keep for taxes.

There will be a few exceptions to the 24-hour rule. One is bills and bank statements. I have one day a week that is designated for dealing with bills and bank statements. It’s just more efficient to deal with them in one sitting. Those envelopes have a designated space on the kitchen counter and once a week I deal with them. This system is working so I’m not going to mess with it. The other exception is for grocery store ads. I save money by buying things when they’re in season and stocking up on staples when they’re on sale. When the ads arrive in my mailbox, I highlight the things I might want to get during my next grocery trip and I make my shopping list based on that. The ads sit on the counter until the following week’s arrive and that’s when the previous week’s get recycled.

So basically the rule for the month is all paper has to be put away or recycled within 24 hours of entering the house unless it’s more efficient to keep something on the counter for a specific purpose for up to a week.

This will be interesting to see how this challenge works out. I think it will be great for creating new habits that eliminate clutter, but I think it will be hard to get home late from an event and know that I can’t go to bed until I deal with the papers from the day.

Let’s Fix our State Bar – Vote in the BoG Election! Here’s Who Made My Short List.

Starting May 7th, Arizona lawyers in Maricopa County will get to vote for our representatives on the State Bar Board of Governors (BoG). Make sure you vote in this election – it matters!

Arizona State Capitol by Willem van Bergen from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Arizona State Capitol by Willem van Bergen from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The BoG “oversees the policy making and operation” of the State Bar of Arizona – including whether our bar dues go up. In Maricopa County, we will be voting for the nine people who will represent us on the BoG. In the last full BoG election, only 2,500 of the 12,000 eligible lawyers in Maricopa County voted and the difference between who was/wasn’t elected came down on handful of votes – so your individual vote makes a difference.

Here’s what I know about the dues increase that was just passed:

  • It passed by only 1 vote. (As my lawyer friend put it, “We are only one Board member away from rationality.”)
  • The financial committee met the day before the vote and determined that the proposed increase would result in a $3.7 million cash surplus by 2019. What does the State Bar need with $3.7M?! And this money is not earmarked so who knows how they’re going to spend it.
  • The BoG has an executive committee made up of five board members and wields significant influence. They all voted in favor of the dues increase. It appears they agreed to vote as a united front, which makes me question their integrity. There is one guaranteed opening on the executive committee with Whitney Cunningham moving out of the presidency. There are other executive committee members who are up for re-election (Lisa Loo in Maricopa County and Alex Vakula in Yavapai County). If these two aren’t re-elected, a majority of the executive committee will change which will have an enormous impact on what the Bar does moving forward.

Thirty-three people are running for the nine BoG openings in Maricopa County. I read their profiles and made my list of potential votes based on the following criteria.

  1. Every candidate who gets my vote must be an incumbent who voted against the dues increase or spoke about fiscal responsibility, transparency, and keeping dues down. Finances are such a hot topic in the Bar right now. If a candidate didn’t mention money, I feared they would be too afraid to take a stand when it mattered. I need a BoG who will speak for me. Bonus if they mentioned keeping up with changes in technology.
  2. I eliminated any candidate who’s had something in their profile that raised a red flag for me.
  3. I took the resulting list and sent it to my fellow lawyers whose judgment I trust and who have been in the legal profession significantly longer than I have. I asked them to tell me if any of them violated the “No Jerks” rule and if they had any specific endorsements.

Here’s my short list of Maricopa County BoG candidates who might get my vote:

  • Chad Belville
  • Stephen Brower
  • Ted Campagnolo
  • David Derickson
  • Nick Dranias
  • Richard Erickson
  • Greg Gnepper
  • Isaac Hernandez
  • Melissa Ho
  • Steven Keist
  • Michael Kielsky
  • Clarence Matherson
  • Bert Moll
  • Christopher Raddatz
  • Jennifer Rebholz
  • Sam Saks
  • Geoffrey Trachtenberg

If you practice in Yavapai County, the choice is easy. Vote for Andre Carman, who is running against an incumbent that voted for the dues increase (while serving as the BoG’s secretary-treasurer).

Voting for the BoG will be online from May 7th until 5 p.m. on May 21st. Look for an email from the Bar with instructions. Please make sure you take a few minutes to vote and encourage other eligible lawyers to vote too. We have an opportunity to vote for people who are motivated to make significant changes in our Bar. Let’s vote in some people who will work for what we want.

The Record Reporter published the vote on the bar dues increase, including the list of how each BoG member voted.

For more information about how important this election is, please visit Sam Sak’s site, Moving the Bar Forward and Mo Hernandez’s site Transform the Bar.

Will I Minimize my Star Trek Autograph Collection?

I’m reading (& loving!) Everything That Remains by The Minimalists. I’ve been trying to minimize my life since the beginning of last year. I did a big clean out last year and I’m doing another pass this year. As I read The Minimalists’ new book, I felt the urge to clean out my glove compartment, use up perfumes  that only have a few drops left in the bottle, and get rid of things I don’t actually use anymore.

I really enjoyed reading about Ryan Nicodemus’ experience embracing minimalism. He packed up his entire apartment as if he was moving and then for 21 days he only unpacked the things he needed. At the end of the 21 days, with few exceptions, he sold, donated, or threw away everything that was still in boxes.

I don’t think I would ever do something this extreme, but it made me more mindful of what I actually use on a day-to-day basis and what takes up space in my life and mainly collects dust. One of the things I started thinking about was my Star Trek autograph collection.

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection

Some of my Favorite Photos in my Star Trek Autograph Collection

I love Star Trek. I’ve been a Trekkie for over 20 years. I’ve collected 46 autographs from various Star Trek actors from conventions, eBay, and sending requests for autographs directly from the actors. When I was in college, I put them in cheap frames on my dorm room wall but now they’re in plastic sleeves in a binder on a shelf. Some of my favorite autographed photos are DeForest Kelley (died in 1999), George Takei, Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton, Whoopi Goldberg, James Cromwell, and Mark Allen Shepherd (Morn from Deep Space Nine). Reading The Minimalists’ book made wonder what value these autographs add to my life. They sit on the shelf and I rarely look at them.

Last year, I started minimizing my Star Trek collection. I’ll admit I still have most of my Trek items I want to get rid of because it hasn’t been a priority to make an appointment with my comic store to see what they’re interested in buying. It’s important to me that my Trek items find new homes with fans who will enjoy them rather than donating them to a thrift store. I wonder if I should bring my autograph collection with me to see if they’d be interested in some of those too.  Twenty-two of my autographs came with certificates of authenticity; I’m not sure how much the value drops without a certificate.

If I part with my collection, it wouldn’t be about the money. It would be about getting rid of things that add no value to my life. When the space around me is clean and uncluttered, I feel more relaxed and it’s easier to focus.

Ruth & Rosie – 2 Years and Counting

Rosie and I have officially been together for two years. In some ways it feels like longer and in some ways it feels like I just got her from the Arizona Basset Hound Rescue.

Rosie's First Thanksgiving - November 2013

Rosie’s First Thanksgiving – November 2013

My life is completely changed because of her. If you want to get to know your neighbors, get a dog and take a walk every day. Rosie and I have walked over 1,000 miles together and I know way more people in my neighborhood as a result. We only skip a day if she’s sick, the weather’s really bad, or she’s at the kennel. I think it’s so cute that some people only know me as “Rosie’s Mom.”

We had a lot of adventures this last year. One that wasn’t so fun was valley fever. I was tickled to learn that the doggy pharmacy delivers but not the human one. Thank goodness I figured out early on that she’ll eat anything off a spoon with peanut butter on it. Shoving those pills down her throat was not fun for either of us. We recently got the good news that her titer is staying low without outside intervention.

Rosie’s always gone to work with me, so when I decided to get an official office space, one of my requirements was that Rosie had to be able to come to work. Thankfully we found a great space that we share with a handful of other lawyers. They’re so cute when they pop by my office to say hi to me, when really they’re there to pet Rosie. I had to get a baby gate to make sure she stays contained which is hilarious given how un-maternal I am; and yet, now I own and can operate a baby gate. My clients love her.

Rosie Snoozin' at the Office - March 2014

Rosie Snoozin’ at the Office – March 2014

Rosie’s become quite the car traveler, complete with her own car harness and back seat cover. We went on a big road trip last year, but I don’t think that will become the norm for us. We try to hit the dog park at least once a week. It’s adorable watching her try to keep up with the big dogs. If they’re running in a circle, she’ll take the inside track. And man can she bark. I have one of the loudest dogs at the dog park.

Rosie Watching "Dog TV" - November 2013

Rosie Watching “Dog TV” – November 2013

Did I mention my dog is a ninja? She wears four tags on her collar so she typically jingles when she walks, but if there’s something she wants – like to get on the couch or to snag a bite of something at the edge of the table, she can jump up without making a sound. When you see the evidence of her wrongdoing and look at her accusingly, she gives you this look that says, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

I love my baby girl. At six, sometimes I think she’s starting to show her age, but that’s hard to tell given how mellow bassets are in general. She definitely lets me know she can still run and frolic with the best of them . . . when she feels like it.