Does the headline “How to Explain Bitcoin to Your Dad,” seem ridiculous to you? I hope so, because the headline “How to Explain Bitcoin to Your Mom,” somehow passed muster with the New York Times recently.
If that’s not crazy enough, the explaining to Mom was done via cartoon panels, rather than a traditional story. Obviously, there are lots of graphic novelists doing sophisticated work. But it’s hard not to see the message, in this case, as, “We have to make Bitcoin super-simple – like a cartoon! -- to make it accessible to our most unsophisticated readers. Like, you know, moms.”
Granted, Bitcoin, an electronic proto-currency, can take some explaining. But the supposition that those who haven’t had children are automatically more qualified to pontificate upon it than those who have is ageist to the core. Youth trumps a lot of things, but when you’re trying to explain a somewhat complicated technical matter, youth is of no import whatsoever. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there, a generation younger than I, who can explain Bitcoin perfectly well, to their parents or to anyone else. But their age has nothing to do with it.
I do not have it all. Texas congressional Representative Wendy Davis, despite the recent New York Times Magazine headline, “Can Wendy Davis Have it All?” is not about to have it all any time soon. Anne-Marie Slaughter said, in The Atlantic, that no woman, really, can have it all.
Even Sheryl Sandberg, self-appointed role model for moms who also have big jobs outside the home, does not have it all.
How do I know? Because no one ever has it all. The phrase “having it all,” which I gather used to represent some form of women’s empowerment, has been reduced to snarkery. To admit to having it all -- or wanting it all -- seems weirdly greedy. “Having it all” has come to invite judgment.
When The New York Times asked if Wendy Davis could have it all, they weren’t asking if she could have kids and a rocking career. She clearly does. They were asking if she could effectively campaign on her background as a single mom who once lived in a trailer park, even though her former partner handled the day-to-day childcare and paid Davis’ way through Harvard Law School.
The Times was asking, in essence, if Davis could have two seemingly mutually exclusive things, with the insinuation that it was okay for her to be a trailer park mom or a Harvard-trained lawyer, but not both. (As well-written as The New York Times story is, if you don’t think it reeks of misogynist claptrap, I beg you to read it again).
Happy New Year! We hope you had a fun and relaxing break with family and friends.
As always, the new year has us full of optimism, convinced that this time around, there really are 26 hours in the day and eight days in the week. To stay focused through all the hustle and craziness, we’ve got our annual list of New Year’s resolutions.
The only rule: When we’re tempted to adopt more than a few resolutions, we list them in rank order, cut the list in half, and throw out the second half. A few that we’re considering:
Do one thing this year that we didn't manage last year, and that we’re sort of bummed about. So what if this particular goal won’t advance our careers, improve the home decorating situation, or change the world? It’ll change our world – and that’s enough.
Ditch the frenemies. Life is too short to waste energy on people we think we’re supposed to like but actually dislike. It just makes sense to spend time with real friends and let everyone else go.
Go to the dentist. Twice. I am a certified dentist-phobe, so I make this resolution every year. I have to, or it won’t happen. Woody Guthrie had a similar resolution, back in 1942: Wash teeth, if any. Other “New Year’s Rulin’s” from Guthrie: Write a song a day. Read lots good books. Change socks. Don’t get lonesome. Stay glad. Make up your mind. Wake up and fight.
I love my kids. I really do. But when they left for college, leaving me with an empty nest, I didn't cry, mope or lament the silence in our house. I cheered.
It's not that I don't miss them, because I do -- sort of. I'm still in awe that I now walk into rooms that are exactly the way I left them. I'm happy they're starting another chapter in their lives, adventures I hope will be fun and fruitful. They know they can call on me to help them when needed, and I know I can track them down via text, email and/or video chat (yay technology!) when I need to reassure myself that all is well.
I see their departure as a new adventure for me and my husband, one in which we're readjusting to being a couple, with a whole lot less laundry to do. I probably should be worried that I'm not suffering even a twinge of empty nest syndrome, except that I'm too busy doing other stuff, like clearing out the junk drawer and working, finally, on my great American novel. But I know that not everyone feels the way I do. So I asked other moms and dads how they're dealing with their empty nests -- and if they're crying or cheering.
I’m as skeptical of self-help advice as anyone, which is one reason I’m a huge fan of Brené Brown. While some may call Brown’s books self-help, her work is grounded in 10 years of research. So when she says that vulnerability is our most accurate measure of courage, and that it’s the key to living wholeheartedly, I listen.
I got the chance to do that in person at Inc’s leadership conference in San Diego last week. Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, began by telling the audience about how, once her TEDx talk became suddenly popular, she started getting trolled online. I won’t repeat the terrible things written about her, but the experience drove her to eight straight hours of Downton Abbey, followed by some Googling about Theodore Roosevelt (she was wondering about the U.S. presidency during the Downton years). All of that led to a new way to look at criticism.
Here’s the Roosevelt quote that proved so influential:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly."
“That is who I want to be,” said Brown. “I want to be the courageous person. I want to be the person in the arena who is showing up.” She also realized that, “If you live your life in the arena, you are going to get your ass kicked. You can choose comfort or you can choose courage, but you cannot have both. Because courage and comfort do not co-exist.”