Leave a Message

Texting and social media have become the communication methods most people prefer. It’s a fact, especially for people who have grown up with cell phones and internet access. This is fine for personal communication, but what about communicating on the professional level?

I have been an administrative assistant since I was in high school. My main task was, and still is, answering the phone and returning messages. You would think that’s an easy job, but it’s actually a challenge if callers don’t leave enough information. Here are a few easy tips to get a response.

1. Leave your full name.
It’s important to give your first and last name if you want a response, especially if you have a common name like Jane or Bob. If your name is unique (like mine is), speak clearly and spell your name.

2. Leave your phone number.
Please speak slowly when you give your phone number. Believe it or not, it takes time to write down a message.

3. Explain why you’re calling.
Are you a new client/customer? Do you need an appointment? Do you need a drug refilled? You’re more likely to get a quick response if the message is specific.

4. Repeat your name and phone number.
It’s irritating to listen to a message multiple times just to get the name and phone number of the caller. If you leave a message with the contact info at the beginning and end, you’re doing yourself (and the person you’re calling) a favor.

In sum: Keep your phone messages clear, specific, and helpful. That’s it.

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Macarons and Coffee? Yes, Please!

In case you didn’t know, I’m a fat girl who loves to eat. To be specific, I love dessert. To be even more specific, I love macarons. And coffee. Dark, unsweetened coffee. When I found out about Amy Becker’s Facebook shop Sweet Beckery Confections, I knew I had to try the macarons. They were beyond delicious. Amy was kind enough to let me ask her about her passion for pastries.

1. How did you get into baking?
I’ve always loved being in the kitchen in any aspect. When I was little, holidays were very important in our home. My grandma would come over and she and my mom would bake all day long. It was a great memory, and my mom and I continue that tradition on still to this day.
I was introduced to macarons in Disneyland, and knew I had to work on reproducing them so I had a little Disney magic at home, too.

2. Who are some of your role model bakers?
My mom and grandma. My grandma made the best Scandinavian cookies that I just cannot recreate (yet!), and my mom makes the best chocolate chip cookies. I feel like if I can recreate either of their recipes perfectly, I’ll be a happy lady!

3. Macarons are a technical challenge. How long did it take you to master the art of piping?
I’ve been working at macarons for a bit over a year. There are so many things that could go wrong! Piping came fairly easy for me, but the macaronage is what took almost a year to perfect. That is the stage that will make or break a macaron.

4. What’s your favorite macaron flavor?
My favorite flavor has to be pistachio. I use real pistachios in both the shells and the filling, so I feel like it gets a really good sweet and salty balance.

5. Your Facebook page promises to bring new flavors for the Fall. Can you drop a few hints?
We recently visited my hometown in the Midwest, and so I really want to incorporate some flavors from there. One hint is one of my favorite things to do in Wisconsin is the Bayfield Applefest.

I don’t know what this Applefest is all about, but I can’t can’t wait to find out. In the meantime, I’ll keep ordering pistachio macarons and savoring them until the new flavors arrive!

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Paula Aboud: An Optimistic Voice of Reason

paula aboudI live in a very conservative state. It’s a fact. Despite living in a state full of households who hang Tea Party flags on their porch, I have hope. One of the reasons that I feel like Arizona isn’t a lost cause is because we have political representatives who defy the odds by speaking out in favor of women’s reproductive justice and equality for the queer community. Former State Senator Paula Aboud is a prime example of a rainbow-flag-flying feminist role model in the middle of a sea of red.

Paula Aboud was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. She attended Tucson High School and earned a BA in English from the University of Arizona. After graduating from UA, Aboud taught English and coached volleyball and tennis coach at Rincon High School. Paula’s devotion to education and sports eventually motivated her to get involved in local politics, and she served in the Arizona Senate for six years.

Senator Aboud explains that her involvement in politics was not a conscious choice. She left teaching at Rincon High School and moved to Maine. Soon after relocating, a high school student was beaten up by his peers and thrown over a bridge. He died just because he was gay. This ignited Paula’s motivation to get involved with the gay community in Maine. The gay community decided to form a community organization that was dedicated to passing laws to protect the civil rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Although she wasn’t teaching anymore, Paula was still coaching sports. She realized that coaching and teaching provided an opportunity to make a difference for young people, but that she could make an even bigger difference by getting involved in local politics. [Read more…]

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Hard Hats are Women’s Wear

MelindaTraynor056-214x300Melinda Traynor is the President and CEO of Ayuda, LLC. Her company provides hands-on, personalized operator qualification training for people in the oil and gas industry. AYUDA’s crew goes directly to construction and pipeline sites to ensure that contractors are following safety and environmental regulations. Melinda’s name hit the industry headlines when she secured a contract to train pipeline operators for Pemex, Mexico’s state-run oil company. Since then, Melinda has expanded her business around the US and has also started training government workers in Peru on pipeline safety standards for oil and gas extraction.

I have the privilege of working with Ms. Traynor. I’ve maintained her website and social media accounts since 2008. I have learned so much from her about the oil and gas industry; leadership; how to be a woman business owner; and how to mentor others. Melinda marked some time out from her very busy schedule to chat with me about what it “women’s work” means to her. [Read more…]

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Esperanza: Choreographing Body Love

beth-braunBeth Braun is a woman who knows how to move. Beth is the Director of Dance at Rincon and University High Schools in Tucson, as well as the Artistic Director for the Esperanza Dance Project. The Esperanza Dance Project seeks to eradicate the stigma, secrecy and shame associated with childhood sexual violence. They also work to raise awareness about childhood sexual violence and deliver a message of hope, strength, and empowerment. I caught up with Ms. Braun to talk to her about the inspiration for her activism and what dance means to her.

Beth grew up in Long Island, New York. She started dancing when she was five years old. Beth started out learning ballet, tap, and jazz-style dancing. Her first dance teacher wanted to share his love of dance. Beth says that the dance studio had a very positive environment. She knew that she wanted to grow up and be a professional dancer because she felt like she had a sense of weightlessness and freedom when she was dancing.

Beth auditioned when she was ten years old to attend a ballet school that had a very competitive atmosphere. It didn’t have the same supportive environment that her first dance school did, but she still wanted to be a ballerina. The instructors told her that she couldn’t be a professional dancer because she didn’t have the right body type. Beth started dieting when she was just ten years old because of the pressure she felt from her dance instructors.

Braun eventually gave up dancing because she didn’t love it anymore. Beth explains that she realized it was more important to be alive than it was to dance, so she started to focus on other creative outlets. Beth took up visual arts in high school. After graduation, Beth moved from the East Coast to California because she could be “anonymous” and just do things for herself. She started taking dance classes again. Beth says that the classes were fun and that she started to feel like herself again. [Read more…]

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What Does Family Mean?

It’s National LGBTQ Families Day, and I thought I would share my own experience of coming out and finding my “chosen-family” as part of that celebration. I am a dyke. I came out in the Fall of 1998. I had questioned my gender and sexuality throughout adolescence. The murder of Matthew Sheppard was the final nudge out of the closet. I transferred from Brigham Young University to Arizona State University in 1999, shaved my head and started wearing khakis. I registered for my first Women’s Studies class, stopped shaving my legs, discovered Ani DiFranco, and explored defining my identity as a lesbian. I became very estranged from my birth family and started to forge strong relationships with my friends. I met my soulmate and helped him navigate the pathways out of the closet. One of my professors and her partner became my chosen moms. People from the college debate community were like cousins/siblings. We helped each other deal with emotional and financial challenges. We served as role models and confidants to each other. I realized that biology doesn’t dictate who we are or who we can become in this life – everything is open for interpretation(s). I learned that love is not limited to a single definition. I learned that even damaged relationships can be repaired. After nearly two decades of deconstruction and reconstruction, I still embrace the militant dyke label. I’ve also come to realize that it’s OK to embrace traditional ideas of what family means as long as we remain open to alternative definitions.

To me, family is about love and support. It is about embracing our flaws and celebrating out strengths. It’s about finding joy in the little things, like listening to a two-year-old nephew sing cartoon theme songs, or brushing a four-year-old niece’s hair. It’s watching your partner’s eyes light up when he’s around his fairy godchild, or hearing him roar like a lion with his nephew. It’s watching football with your chosen moms, and playing Magic with your lezbros. It’s about taking someone to chemo, or scrubbing a friend’s toilet when they’re unable. Family can be genetic, but family is also about choice. I choose the people I want to share my love with, and I focus my intentions on building positive relationships. Love manifests itself in many ways, and I am grateful for all of the love in my life.

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Is Fracking a Feminist Issue?

still-gaslandThere has been a lot of debate over the past decade about whether or not it is safe to drill for oil and natural gas. One of the most controversial methods of oil and gas extraction is called “fraction drilling” (more popularly referred to as “fracking”).

Fraction drilling doesn’t just dig a straight hole into the ground so that a pipeline can be inserted to export gas to the surface. Fracking involves hydraulically fracturing the ground that surrounds shale deposits of natural gas so that gas can be released and captured from a variety of angles. There are environmental issues to be considered, as well as health care issues for the communities that are near drilling sites. That being said, President Obama gave fracking a thumbs up in 2013 when he gave a speech about climate change at Georgetown University, emphasizing the economic and security benefits of natural gas.

“For the first time in 18 years, America is poised to produce more of our own oil than we buy from other nations. And today, we produce more natural gas than anybody else. So we’re producing energy. And these advances have grown our economy, they’ve created new jobs, they can’t be shipped overseas — and, by the way, they’ve also helped drive our carbon pollution to its lowest levels in nearly 20 years. Since 2006, no country on Earth has reduced its total carbon pollution by as much as the United States of America.” –President Obama (emphasis mine)

Fracking foes have used a laundry list of arguments to oppose shale extraction. One notable anti-fracker is Sandra Steingraber, who compares fracking to rape. (I will address the rape analogy in a future article. For now, let’s focus on dollars and cents.) Steingraber argues that fracking is a feminist issue because women are underrepresented in the energy industry. She also states that:

“The jobs for women are ‘hotel maid’ and ‘prostitute’ . . . So when fracking comes into a community, what we see is that women take a big hit, especially single women who have children who depend on rental housing.” (via The Washington Times, 4/6/2015)

That same statement has been mimicked by community members in other states in a very demeaning manner. This is an extremely disrespectful statement that comes from someone who clearly has the luxury of disposable income.  [Read more…]

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Women as Healers: An Interview with Michele Smith

Michele Smith incorporates her fun sense of humor to the acupuncture table.

Michele brings her fun sense of humor to the acupuncture table.

Michele Smith is a licensed acupuncture therapist who practices in Tucson, Arizona. Michele’s clinic is called The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture. Her bright personality and interest in her patients helps set a peaceful tone for a healing environment at the clinic. Many people are afraid to get poked, but Michele’s positive energy helps ease that worry.

Michele has been my acupuncturist since 2011. In addition to seeing Michele for acupuncture myself, I volunteer at The Gathering Point Community Acupuncture one day a week. I enjoy working with her, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading about her work.

1. What motivated you to become an acupuncture therapist?

I was motivated to become an acupuncturist because my previous career in the music industry was becoming obsolete and I wanted my next career to be in something that would help people, both physically and mentally. While music is also healing, the corporate world that the music industry had become was not, and is not, healing. My last job in the music industry was at a music venue which was at a great locally owned venue owned and operated by a really nice man, but not the kind of work I could see myself doing ten or so years down the line as I got older. My first thought was to study homeopathy, but it is illegal in the state of Georgia, where I am from, so I decided to study acupuncture with the thought that down the line I could always add homeopathy if I still desired.

[Read more…]

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I’m Ready for Hillary

hillary-clinton-2016I launched this blog last week and announced my intention of spotlighting women’s work. Neither word has a stable definition. I have spent my entire life trying to figure out what my definition of “woman” means. I look to women I know on a personal level, as well as well-known public figures and I realize that gender is a performance and we all interpret our gender roles differently. Some of the strongest women I know are stay-at-home mothers. I admire them just as much as I admire women who work in predominantly “masculine” fields. Take politics for instance.

When I was in elementary school, I used to tell people that I was going either going to be a quarterback for the 49’ers or president of the United States when I grew up. I saw female astronauts on TV. Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Mary (my namesake) was the Mother of Jesus . . . It never even dawned on me that women couldn’t aspire to be anything they wanted to be.

I endorse Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. I want to tie my endorsement of Hillary to the discussion of “women’s work.” In Spring of 2007, I heard Gloria Steinem give a speech about why feminism is still relevant. An audience member asked Ms. Steinem if she supported Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Steinem didn’t even hesitate with her response. She asked the audience members to think about the shoes of the women who supported Hillary Clinton. “These are working women’s shoes. Women who work as nurses, teachers, waitresses, customer service providers . . .” Steinem said that Hillary Clinton was interested in women having financial independence so that they could take care of themselves and their families. I agreed with Gloria Steinem’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton, and I still do. [Read more…]

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Feminist Conversations: An Interview With Lesbian Icon Ann Bannon

Ann Bannon, in my opinion, is the queen of lesbian pulp fiction. Her books in the Beebo Brinker series served as a roadmap for many lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s. I was introduced to Bannon’s work in a Women’s Studies class at ASU. Bannon’s novels helped me navigate my own coming out process. Needless to say, I was ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to interview her.

1. What was your initial inspiration for writing the Beebo Brinker novels?
I began by falling in “fascination” with the first original lesbian pulp novel, Spring Fire, by Vin Packer. It’s a story of two young women who meet in their college sorority house and fall in love—not a terribly original premise these days, but a dangerous and thrilling one then. The consequences of being outed in the 1950s were appalling, and I had been close enough to a similar disaster in my own sorority to empathize with the girls in Packer’s novel. I knew I wanted to write, and it turned out that this little pulp paperback I had found on a newsstand shelf was the creative trigger. [Read more…]

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