Friday, March 30, 2012

The day I made the news

So - I was at the gas station buying fizzy water.  And the news crew walked in.  And said that if I bought a lottery ticket, I could be on the news.  

So obviously I did.  

Skip to about 1:45 to see my television debut.
(I personally don't think it was a coincidence that they put my clip right after the Super Model clip - I often get confused for one.)

I told them that when I win, I'll buy them a cup of coffee.  You guys can hold me accountable.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

On remembering Spanish and sonatas

When I took my current job, I hadn't spoken Spanish consistently in almost four years.  A couple of months after starting, I went to the Dominican Republic to work. When I started trying to speak in Spanish again, my mind felt like a huge, rusty gear, and every word came out of the recesses slowly, jerkily, and painfully.

If I thought to hard about it, it was detrimental.  It was a bit of a frustrating process, because I knew that somewhere in my mind that I knew the word I was looking for, but the harder I thought, the further the word always seemed to slip.

But I found that if I could just forget to worry about it, and get immersed in whatever conversation was at hand, the gears would start to turn, and the words creep out of where they were hiding.  Sometimes I would go to say something, and the word would just be there, out of the blue - I had completely forgotten I ever had learned it.

The last two years have been a slow progression of relearning what I used to know, and then learning new words, conjugations, and comfort with speaking and understanding.  I am constantly amazed at how much my mind retains despite being in and out of Spanish throughout the year.  And I am also amazed that it is not really a conscious process for me - not something that I've been able to force, but something that comes as I relax and let it happen.
A week ago I bought a digital piano.  I grew up playing, but haven't played regularly... in over 10 years.  The first day that i sat down to try to play, it literally felt like my mind was a huge, rusty gear, and every word note came out of the recesses slowly, jerkily, and painfully.

If I thought to hard about it, it was almost detrimental.  It was a frustrating process, because I knew that somewhere in my mind that I knew the songs and chords I was looking for, but the harder I thought, the further the word always seemed to slip.

But strangely, if I can just forget to worry about it, and just sit and play, my fingers seem to be able to remember things that my mind can't... the notes just flow out of some deep recess.


I've been amazed so much with the processes of my brain in remembering Spanish and sonatas.
Our bodies and minds are truly phenomenal tools.  


As if I needed any more motivation for my hypothetical future children to be raised speaking at least two languages, it turns out that bilingual people are actually smarter!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Solar Youth Jam!

Last night, my friends and I went out to support Solar Youth at their annual fundraiser at the planetarium - The Solar Youth Jam.

We served(!) hors d'oeuvres (totally just looked up the spelling for that), looked at Venus, Jupiter and Mars through a huge telescope, danced like crazy under the planetarium, took all sorts of photo booth pictures, bid on silent auction items, WON the biggest prize from the live auction* (long weekend in a lake cabin in the Adirondacks anyone????? - We're going, you're invited!!!)  It was such a lovely night, for such a lovely cause.  Glad I am surrounded by people who are part of making this happen.

*PS- I never knew that bidding in a live auction was such a HUGE adrenaline rush!  We were sweating like crazy, nervous as all get out, and when we won the final bid - we jumped up and down like we had just won a million dollars, instead of getting to pay a lot of dollars.....its brilliant, I tell you.  See the four pics in the bottom right corner of the collage to see our reactions!

Care Package

This made my day yesterday.
Best. Mom. In the World.
Love you.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Sunday in New Haven was like a little bit of heaven.
Warm sun, buds starting to bloom... people were walking everywhere.  
Getting in a car or sitting inside would just have been insulting.

I walked downtown and joined this group of people on the New Haven Green.
I walked up while they were singing "this little light of mine."
A lady smiled and me and handed me a plastic bottle filled with birdseed to shake along to the song.  
While we sang and shook our birdseed bottles, a homeless guy lit up his cigarette and walked off his shakes.
There was a short message from a pastor in ripped jeans and a hooded sweatshirt.
Then we sang (and drummed to) "We Shall Overcome"
Said the Serenity Prayer
Chose a rock that had a word written on it (Love, Listening, Share a Meal, etc.) and offered that rock as a sign of what we would offer the world that week, along with any spare change if we had it.
We said the Lord's prayer in whatever language we knew.
Laughed a lot when one of the drummers accidentally yelled out a few things in the middle of the mini-sermon. He was laughing hardest.
New people joined us continually, many seeming to just notice us as they were walking by enjoying the weather, and then deciding to stay.
We sang a little bit more.
It was very off tune.  And beautiful. 
Shook hands and said peace.

Then tables were brought out with sandwiches for the hungry, homeless and anyone else who wanted to have lunch.
They do it every week.  Anyone is welcome.
What a beautiful, accepting vision of what a church is.
It made me hopeful.



Celebrating the equinox and the first day of Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

This is my job

Phone conversation I just had:

Me:: Can I please confirm my reservation for my hotel in Ho Chi Minh City?
Receptionist in Vietnam: Yes, who is this?
Me: Haley
Receptionist: Harry?
Me: Yes
Receptionist: Please spell your last name.
Me: F-L-E-T
Receptionist: F-L-E-C
Me: No, T
Receptionist: C
Me: No, T, like tea cup
Receptionist: C
Me. No, T, like Tanzania
(co-worker yells from other office - "Wrong continental reference!")
Receptionist: F-L-E-C
Me: T, T like TRAIN
Receptionist: T!
Me: Yes! Ok, F-L-E-T-C
Receptionist: F-L-E-C-C
Me: silence
Receptionist: Maybe better over email?
Me: Yes, I think you're right.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

warmth, beach, light

After a day of sitting in the office, staring longingly out the window at the grass and trees that are starting to glow a little with the green that's on the verge of bursting through, my two colleagues and I couldn't take it a minute longer, and drove to the beach.  
We walked along the boardwalk as the sun was setting, and celebrated that the sun has warmth to it again.
And the fact we live just minutes from the ocean. 
And the fact that though we lost an hour of sleep this week, it means that it is still light when we leave the office.
Which just seems to make life so much better, don't you think?


Kiva gives you the chance to make small loans -- as little as $25 -- to entrepreneurs working to start businesses and improve their lives around the world. 

I've been lending since 2009, when one of my wonderful friends (Pears), gave me the most lovely gift - $100 in 'Kiva credit'.  I got to take that money, and decide who to lend it to - I chose four different women entrepreneurs.  They all paid back their loans, and I re-loaned that money.  At this point, I've made 13 loans and counting, all with the original gift that Pears gave me.  Its incredible, and every time that the loans are paid back, I get so excited to see the updates about how the new businesses are doing, and to get to look up who to invest in next.  

So - here's the deal.  This guy named Reid Hoffman, who is a Kiva board member, the founder of LinkedIn & co-author of recently released The Startup of You, just donated a lot of money so that several thousand people could make loans for free.  Kiva is now giving away 'free trials' - they give you $25 to loan.  The idea is that if you believe in what they are doing, you can lend more later.  If not, no harm no foul.  

Check it out and join me - Click this link, sign up fast and take advantage of the opportunity to get involved with an incredible cause, for free:

Monday, March 12, 2012

First sign of spring!

Yesterday while we were walking to New Haven's Parade day, I saw this little beauty.  It makes my heart happy!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Parade Day!

New Haven St. Patrick's Parade Day :)
Celebrating with new and old friends at our favorite local Irish pub

Friday, March 9, 2012

People Are Talking: KONY 2012


I have been watching in amazement and fascination as this video has gone viral in the last couple of days.  I read today that since its release on March 5th, its already had over 40 MILLION views.  WOW.  I am amazed at the reach it has had - friends in countries all across the world, stay-at-home moms, students, parents... everyone seems to know about this.  They know about Kony, now.  And the vast majority are ready to do something about it.  Pretty incredible.

As with anything like there, there is more than one side to this story, and plenty to discuss and debate about the approach that Invisible Children is taking:

But for right now, I want to recognize that something big has happened.  These folks have figured out how to use our social networks to inform us about an issue.  People who have never heard about Invisible Children before, have heard about it now.  They've informed, they've inspired, they've given a call to action, and people across the planet are responding.  They've shown the power of our networks, the power of this information age.  And notably, they've got x million viewers on a video that is far longer than the 2 minute limit for most people's attention spans.  This video is crossing all sorts of borders.  How did you hear about it?  This blog?  Facebook? Twitter?  The nightly news?  A celebrity endorsement? From your officemate?  The walls have come down between social media and the media - personal relationships and virtual ones.

I am so excited about this and the potential it has demonstrated.  Decide what you wish about how we should be dealing with Kony.  It is an ugly and complex issue.  But remember this moment - the moment you suddenly had an intimate opinion about something happening in central Africa.  The moment you realized your mom just posted this video on facebook or talked or debated this issue with your students or colleagues.  Our citizenship is not just to our community or country, anymore.  We are at the point that our technology is truly allowing us to be citizens of the world, for better or worse.

If you haven't watched it yet, you should.  People are talking about it, its become part of our cultural consciousness.  But watch it with eyes that not only see the important issue it is advocating, but also the way that the information is being transmitted to you - the way the information found you, and how you share it.  Because if I were a betting person, I would bet you'll be seeing a lot more of this.

International Women's Day

Yesterday I celebrated International Women's Day with some of my favorite ladies.. connecting, celebrating our friendships, and drinking some VERY pink drinks in fancy glasses.

Proud to be a woman today. And every day, for that matter :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


About the Holstee Manifesto


Last night I walked over to vote in a neighborhood committee election.
Its only my second time voting 'at the polls' - every other election I have voted in has been by absentee ballot.  I'm digging the 'go to the polls' thing.

I have been thinking about voting a lot as I've been participating in an open innovation platform on making elections accessible.  One of the things that seems to almost inevitable at some point is moving voting to an online experience in one way or another.  I am so excited about this idea, and how it could increase voter participation, make voting accessible to all, etc. etc.  But I have to say, there is really something special about walking over to my neighborhood poll, having a cup of hot chocolate with other voters.. feeling part of the community of which I am a part.  Because of the nature of my work (aka I am in other countries more than 60% of the time), those chances are few and far between for me, and I have been SO energized and inspired to be a more active citizen by my two 'poll voting' experiences.

Also a bonus of voting - there is a fabulous middle eastern restaurant between my house and the poll.  So it is pretty much part of my civic responsibility to stop by, support small business, and eat a schwarma.
Best case scenario.

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