The Undeniable Ruth Rotating Header Image

May, 2015:

Summer 2015 = 90 Days of Awesome

Selfie from May 30, 2015

Selfie from May 30, 2015

I’ve decided to call June-August 2015, “90 Days of Awesome.” (Yes, I know technically there are 92 days in those three months but “92 Days of Awesome” sounds weird, so just go with it.)

I am making a conscious decision to do awesome things this summer, but maybe not awesome in a way that you’re thinking. 2015 has been an amazing year so far for me – new job, Dad 2.0 Summit, The Undeniable Tour, and speaking at Ungagged in London are just some of the highlights – but I want to shift gears a bit for this summer. There are only two hard and fast rules for the 90 Days of Awesome:

  1. No airplanes.
  2. No dog kennels.

While everyone else is fleeing the desert for cooler temperatures, Rosie and I are staying home. I want to work my ass off, focus on my health, exercise more, see my friends, and tackle some projects that I’ve been putting off. At first glance, it may sound like I’m going to be kicking back this summer, but that’s not true. (I’m pretty sure I’m incapable of “kicking back.”) I will be busy as ever, but I want it to be a different kind of busy – a more purposeful busy, with more exchanges of ideas and connecting with more people.

I’ll also be laying the foundation for the fall and winter – especially in regards to speaking engagements. I have two speaking gigs already booked and at least four more in the works. I have a few other project ideas that I can’t start until the fall, but I can clarify my ideas and plans this summer.

Of course, I’ll keep you in the loop on what I’m doing and I may invite you to participate in some of the shenanigans of the 90 Days of Awesome.

Bad Minimalist – Too Much Paper Clutter Again

Grrr . . . . I feel like a bad minimalist.

One of the piles of paper on my desk right now

One of the piles of paper on my desk right now

Paper has taken over my life again. I have stacks of it in my office, the home office, and my kitchen – notes, receipts, documents to be filed for tax purposes, business cards, and probably a bunch of stuff I can recycle. It’s the one thing I don’t have control over in my life. I can stop buying stuff, but I can’t stop the paper traffic in my life. I can only minimize and manage it.

I’ve been traveling a lot this year and it started piling up before I left town for The Undeniable Tour. I was so busy for the weeks leading up to the trip that everything that didn’t have to get done before the Tour got put in a pile to be dealt with when I got back.

When I got back after being on the road for two weeks, I had piles of mail that arrived while I was away and everything I brought back from the road. Two weeks was a long time to be away from clients; I felt like I spent at least two weeks trying to catch up again. I somewhat got a grip on the day-to-day influx of paper (mail, business cards, receipts, bills) but I still had the piles from the previous weeks. And then I had to prep for my trip to speak at Ungagged in London so everything that I could put off until after I returned was put in a new pile.

Bah! Too much paper around me!
And don’t get me started on how bad my email inboxes are right now.

In my early days of embracing minimalism, I gave myself a 30-day challenge of processing paper through my life in 24 hours or less. It was a great experience that took diligence but it gave me a clean workspaces. Clearing of my desk and counter and creating a de-cluttered environment helped clear my mind. I felt less anxious and distracted. It helped me see that I only need to do one thing at a time and trying to multi-task makes me feel insane.

I need to be more disciplined about the paper in my life. It would be foolish to let it pile up all week, telling myself that I’ll take care of it over the weekend. That is total crap and I know it. Sometimes I’m so tired by the weekend that I don’t do anything but lay on the couch and watch movies between naps or I have events and activities that take up all my time. I think I need to think about paper like flossing my teeth – I don’t like doing it but it doesn’t take that long and the long-term effects are worth it. It’s definitely a suck-it-up-buttercup task.

So what’s the plan? I have a good system for staying organized and mostly clutter-free when I chose to use it. I’ll have to have a conscious effort to get rid of the excess paper in my life and keep it that way. Thankfully I promised Rosie and myself that I’m not traveling this summer so I’ll have time to tackle this project and work on making it a habit. In regards to my email, I’m turning my inbox clean-out into a post for Attorney at Work so hopefully that will motivate me to get it done and stay aware of what’s is/is not working in the process so I can pass those lessons along to my readers.

If you go through periods where your paper clutter gets away from you and you have to make it a big to-do to get un-cluttered, I’d love to hear what works for you. Likewise, if you’ve slayed this dragon, I’d love to hear any tips you an offer for how you stay paper clutter-free.

Josh Duggar Admits Molesting His Sisters – Thoughts about the Victims’ Needs

I’m still processing my feelings about Josh Duggar’s acknowledgment that he molested multiple people, including some of his sisters.

It makes me angry that he’s not going to face criminal repercussions for his actions because the statute of limitations has run out. (I believe every state should eliminate the statute of limitations for criminal charges in any sex crime and allowing any victim to bring civil charges against his or her attacker at any time.)

Image from Facebook

Image from Facebook

It baffles me that Josh told his now wife Anna and her family that he had molested children and she still married him.

I feel bad for Josh’s victims, especially his sisters. I suspect they were told that they had to forgive him and move on, act as if nothing happened. Some reports say the girls have had counseling, but I have serious doubts that they received proper treatment. Sexual abuse is devastating to a person and can have long lasting effects. Trust me I know – my sexual abuse ended over 20 years ago and I’m still in therapy.  I’m still learning that my feelings matter, that I’m worthy of love, and that it’s not my job to maintain the perfect family image.

The situation with the television show sickens me. Here is a family that is putting themselves out there as having strong morals, and yet they have these dark secrets that they’re hiding. And they have the audacity to criticize other people’s lives and say that gay couples are a threat to children all while they have a sexual predator in their family!

There are elements of this family’s (and their community’s) dynamics that I find unsettling. In general, I have no issue with people who have strong religious beliefs, believe in modesty, or have strong family ties. However, I remember watching an episode of 19 Kids and Counting (or however many kids they had at the time) where the girls were showing how they saved money by doing their perms at home. One of the girls said that they all have long hair because their dad likes long hair. What about what they want? Shouldn’t they get to decide how long their hair is? It really bothered me when I saw the episode about Josh and Anna’s wedding where Anna’s father blatantly said that his daughter was going from following what he said to following her husband. What about what she wants? These statements seemed perfectly normal to them when they said it and it makes me wonder if young women in this community understand that what they want matters and how they feel is valid and deserves acknowledgment.

I saw an article headline that said TLC is considering removing Josh from the show. They’ve removed the show from the channel’s lineup, but I think they need to cancel the show entirely. Josh said he “acted inexcusably” by molesting multiple minors; I’d say he acted criminally and with complete disregard of human respect when used these girls for his own satisfaction.

His parents’ official statement called his behavior “very bad mistakes.” Mistakes? Mistakes?? A fifteen year old who forgets his homework or breaks curfew makes mistakes. A fifteen year-old who sexually assaults multiple people has severe problems. Sending him away for four months and then creating a reality show where you expect your daughters, who were molested by him to maintain your wholesome perfectionistic family image and be ok with being around him in any setting is disgusting.

It seems like ethical thing for TLC to do would be to cancel the show to give members of this family time and space for the healing they deserve. I hope if any of his victims ever want to take the public stage to discuss their experience as sexual assault survivors, that they have the opportunity to do so in a loving accepting environment.

In the larger picture, this country needs to acknowledge that there’s a big problem related to childhood sexual abuse. One in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in the U.S. has an unwanted sexual experience before age 18 – and the problem isn’t going away. The perpetrator often isn’t a stranger hiding in the bushes; it’s someone the child knows and trusts. These children who have been betrayed and violated deserve empathy and care for what they’ve been endured. Ignoring the problem and explicitly or covertly telling them to stay quiet victimizes them more and perpetuates the problem.

Traveling without Tech

London from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral!

Hello from London!

I spent last weekend at an SEO conference in London called Ungagged. (Yes, poor me, I had to accept a trip to London to talk about social media law.) Initially, I thought the trip would give me another opportunity to practice minimalist packing, but it gave me a much richer experience of traveling without a cell phone.

Before I left for this trip, I contacted my wireless provider and added a small global package to my phone. Unbeknownst to the clerk or me, they gave me a plan that doesn’t work in the UK, so when I arrived I had a cell phone that was worthless as a phone. I could still connect to the hotel’s Wi-Fi, but otherwise, my phone was an oversized pocket watch that was set to Arizona time with a built-in camera.

Whenever I wasn’t in the hotel, I felt like I was back in the late 1990’s when I had to go back to the computer in my college dorm room to check my email. Actually, it was better than that because I had a pager in college so there was always a chance my hip would start vibrating. I bopped around London virtually tech-free. Many times I left the hotel without taking my phone with me and when I did take it, it was only to be able to take photos.

St. Paul's Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral

I loved walking along the Thames River, looking at the various shops. I navigated only with the recommendation from the concierge – not even a map or a guidebook to direct me. I figured if I got lost, I’d stop at a shop and ask directions. It was quite freeing to travel untethered to my phone – nothing to distract or direct me. I simply followed the streets and whatever whims moved me. As I walked along I thought, “This is what being a tourist used to be like.”

My hotel was located near St. Paul’s Cathedral which has a dome that towers above much of the surrounding skyline. When I wanted to return from whence I came, all I had to do was turn around and head in the opposite direction. If I moved in the general direction of cathedral, I knew I’d get back to my hotel eventually. I was never afraid of being “lost” in the city.

It was so wonderful and relaxing to leave my phone behind and enjoy London. I suspect I got to see and experience more of the city merely because I wasn’t distracted by notification chimes or tempted to bury my head in my phone. It’s definitely a practice I want to adopt more often.

Return to Costco

Photo by Leslie Easton (Creative Commons License)

Photo by Leslie Easton (Creative Commons License)

Last weekend I went to Costco with my white board sign to pick up a prescription for Rosie the basset hound. The staff was obviously alarmed by the fact that I was carrying my white board sign. (My behavior otherwise was completely innocuous, quiet, and polite.) The clerk escorted me out of the store after I had completed my transaction. Non-members of Costco are allowed to use their pharmacy and to purchase alcohol; however, the staff member told me that next time I needed to inform the clerk working the door of my non-member status so they could escort me in and out of the store.

That made sense. I can understand why Costco only wants people who have paid for memberships in the store, eating the samples, and making purchases.

Fast-forward to this weekend. Rosie needed a refill for one of her other prescriptions (it’s hard to predict when you’ll run out of doggy eye drops) so I returned to the same Costco as before – this time sans white board sign. I presented myself to the greeter and told her (with my best British accent) that I was not a Costco member and that I wished to use their pharmacy. Without hesitation, she pointed toward the pharmacy and let me proceed unaccompanied.

Photo by Mike Mozart (Creative Commons License)

Photo by Mike Mozart (Creative Commons License)

The pharmacist said it would take approximately 15 minutes to fill Rosie’s prescription and he handed me a larger Costco pager device that would ring, vibrate, and light up when it was ready. I was allowed to walk through the store to observe the other patrons and their carts piled high with large quantities of goods. The idea of buying such large quantities of one thing in a single transaction baffles me.

When the pager went off, I returned to the pharmacy, completed the transaction, and walked out without incident.

Costco Lessons to Date:

  • They don’t want you to be in the store with your whiteboard sign.
  • They will allow you to be in the store unaccompanied when you don’t carry a whiteboard sign.
  • They will allow you to be in the store unaccompanied if you use a fake British accent.

Hmm…do you think they’ll let me use the pharmacy if I walk into the store wearing fairy wings?

Kicked Out of Costco

Ignite Phoenix 17 Speaker's Bootcamp by  Brandon Larkin (Creative Commons License)

Ignite Phoenix 17 Speaker’s Bootcamp by Brandon Larkin (Creative Commons License)

My friend Alan made me a white board sign – it’s two small white boards screwed to a stick of wood. It’s basically a reusable protest-style sign. I love it. It’s a fun way to make a statement without saying a word.

(I’ve been saying for years that I need a shirt that creatively conveys the message “Stay away from me” for the days that I had hate everyone but have to leave the house but it’s so creative that people want to talk to me about my shirt. Now I have a customizable sign that I can use instead.)

Rosie needed a refill on her glaucoma eye drops and our doggie ophthalmologist said that Costco pharmacy had the cheapest price, so off I went with my sign to get her meds. I don’t need to buy anything by the vat or gross, so I’m not a member of Costco. It’s a warehouse of consumerism that I usually find overwhelming. (You can use their pharmacy even if you’re not a member.)

I walked in a 9:30am when they opened to drop off her prescription. The front of my sign said, “I bite. I really do.” My friends wrote that on my sign and I left it there – but it’s true. I do bite. The back said, “Be Awesome to Everyone.” It’s always fun to watch the reactions when you violate social norms. I walked in, dropped off Rosie’s prescription, and walked out without incident.

Fast-forward three hours when I returned to pick up Rosie’s meds. It was high noon at Costco – the peak of free sample time. By then I’d changed my sign to say, “Stupid should hurt” on one side (hat tip to Improv AZ’s Fake Protest Flash Mob) and “Stop doing things you hate” on the other (hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk). Based on the parking lot, I should have written “Cool kids return their carts.”

As I walked through the door, I think someone said, “Do you have a membership card?” to me, but I was completely oblivious to the staff. I was on a mission to get Rosie’s meds. One of them caught up with me at the pharmacy where I’d lowed my sign and was politely waiting for the tech. I think she thought I was “special needs.” She was very deliberate with her words and explaining that the store was private property and when non-members use the pharmacy, they need to be escorted, but that I couldn’t bring my sign in the store again. (She had no clue that I’m the lawyer who literally wrote the book on flash mobs and pranks.)

I finished my transaction and she escorted me out of the store. She even carried my sign for me. She seemed to soften a bit when I said I was there to get my dog’s glaucoma medication.

So now we know – when your awesome friend makes you an awesome white board sign, stores may not appreciate it as much as you, even if you’re quiet, polite, and legitimately there to make a purchase. And they might suspect you have a mental disorder.