Someone on the Internet was Wrong!

Normally I ignore and archive the news-related emails from LinkedIn, but last week an article caught my eye since it was about the sharing economy in China. I was surprised that type of business would thrive in China – a country that isn’t known for its appreciation for capitalism or economic freedom – so I clicked on it.

I was immediately disappointed. Near the beginning of the article, I ran into this gem of a quote:

“After all these years, China is finally embracing its communist roots,” said Andy Tian, an entrepreneur and co-founder of Asia Innovations Group in Beijing. “That’s the essence of communism: communal sharing.”

Being a lover of economics, I’m used to people not understanding the subject very well and posting articles full of fallacies on the internet for all to read, but confusing communism and capitalism is impressively bad. It’s also baffling to me that “entrepreneur” and “communism” were used in the same sentence in that way.

The sharing economy is capitalism. The business owners own their resources – whether it be basketballs or umbrellas or bicycles – and charge users to rent them. If they don’t charge enough to cover expenses or if there isn’t enough demand, they will go out of business. If there’s a demand, they meet the needs of consumers and are rewarded with profit. The author even later explains the companies as such:

In its latest iteration, the sharing economy in China has evolved into something like an internet-enabled rental business. Unlike Airbnb and Uber, which provide a platform that connects users to existing resources, the latest sharing companies in China own the product and rent it out to users.

Communism would be if the government owned the businesses and their resources and shared (rather than rented) the basketballs, umbrellas, etc with the citizens…which would mean that there would be no more umbrellas at the kiosks within a few days.

but you stand in line so long for milk that it’s sour by the time you get it, if there’s any left

In fact, the “sharing” economy is actually an inaccurate and confusing name since renting and sharing are completely different. You don’t talk about how a coffee shop shared their coffee with you, and you in turn shared your money with the coffee shop (as my boss joked after I shared this article with him), so we also shouldn’t use the word share when we really mean rent or purchase. “Share” does not have the moral high ground, and there’s nothing exploitative about entrepreneurs trying to solve a unique problem in exchange for money.

Nomenclature aside, it’s still not an excuse to confuse capitalism for communism.




Reading Makes Me Dramatic

I read All the Light We Cannot See this weekend. It’s been a long time since I read a fiction book, and it reminded me how much I love reading.

I spent much of my childhood reading. I was all about Accelerated Reader points in elementary school, and my sister and I took part in our local library’s summer reading program. I grew up with Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield of the Sweet Valley High series, the Animorphs, and of course Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Reading before bed was my nightly routine, I’m sure well past my bedtime on occasion. Family road trips included a “book box” in the back of the van because we could never fit as many as we wanted in our backpacks (this was before kindles and smartphones and tablets). I was surprised how many memories came back the first night I laid in bed, unable to put my book down.

When I read a lot, I tend to get dramatic. I’m pretty sure everyone narrates their life in their head as they go about their day, but my narrator gets far more interesting when I’ve been reading. I imagine my life as a story and wonder what intricacies I can create to make the story more interesting. It’s certainly not that I do anything out of the ordinary, but I feel like part of my imagination that has been dormant comes to life.

The material I’m reading either increases or tempers the narrator. I don’t feel any change when I read nonfiction. I enjoy finding ways to relate what I’m reading to my life or personal development, but there’s not an emotional response like there is with fiction, and I supposed heavy fiction intensifies the emotion.

All the Light We Cannot See is a great book that I would recommend, but it is not a light read. It’s historical World War II fiction, and if living during the 1940s wasn’t bad enough, there’s the horrific addition of the war.

[light spoilers & heaviness below]

I tread carefully through the book waiting for the inevitable rape scene I had heard was coming. Page after page, and I didn’t see any scenario where it would happen. Monday evening as I neared the finish of the book, I started to feel hopeful that what I had heard was mistaken – maybe about another book. Then there it was. A few brief paragraphs, thankfully not graphic, but still awful.

They don’t teach you in school that armies would go into cities and rape the women and girls. Upon Googling it (which I don’t recommend), apparently it was very common on both sides of the war. It reminded me of the time I learned that David cut off Goliath’s head after knocking him out with his sling shot. They don’t tell you that part in Sunday School.

[you can come back now]

I think it’s ok to spend some time ruminating what makes you uncomfortable if for no other reason than to make you thankful for your current life. How privileged am I to use my imagination to create dramatic plot lines when I live in the age of the internet and general abundance and [mostly] peace?


“Is it right,” Jutta says, “to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”

PSA: Don’t Honk at Runners

There are many uncomfortable things that can happen while you’re out running – needing to use the bathroom, chafing, the weather being miserable, etc. not to mention the outside influences like getting honked or yelled at. I consider honking to among the worst.

The definition of running is that both feet leave the ground during your stride. This is the differentiation between walking and running. Meet officials at race walking events are constantly scrutinizing the stride of the competitors to make sure they always have one foot on the ground. So – while you’re running – there is a moment where your entire body is suspended in the air for each stride. Unless you’re purposefully bounding, you probably don’t even notice this.

You immediately notice when you get honked at, though. Imagine going from a casual stride to a jolted painful one. That’s what getting startled in mid-air does to your form. I’m not expecting to be honked at. All of the other drivers have managed to drive past without honking, so I expect that pattern of behavior to hold.

When someone honks at me, it feels like every muscle in my body contracts simultaneously for a split second. It’s impossible for me to continue running smoothly once I land for my next stride, and the jolt of adrenaline speeds up my heart rate and makes me more out of breath than I already am. Multiple honks are even worse. Even though the shock/jolt lessens with each one, it’s still like being zapped over and over.

To know when it’s acceptable to honk at a runner, I made this helpful chart.












30 Days of Blogging

Today marks my 30th post. I only missed 1 day in the last 30, and I double posted 2 days later to make up for it. The perfectionist in me is disappointed, but I’ll survive.

I definitely enjoyed some posts more than others. There were days that I knew what I wanted to write about, didn’t struggle to get the words out, and eagerly waited to see if I would get any engagement from sharing the link within the Praxis community. These posts held more of my personality and sense of humor, and I reflect on them with the smirk of satisfaction you get from thinking you’ve been clever.

Then there were days where I literally typed “writing prompts” into Google. Two to be exact and that doesn’t count the days I pestered Josh for topics. I allowed myself to give into any distraction and put off writing. Even when I did get something down, I was bored with it and convinced no one cared what I was writing about that day. The funny thing is, looking back at my posts, I can’t pinpoint those days. Maybe one, but I’m not sure.

I certainly could have made this easier on myself. The Praxis participants are a great resource for writing tips since they have the challenge to blog every day for 30 days during month 2 of the program. Most of them post a reflection similar to this at the end of the 30 days, and I read quite a few of them. They had great advice such as setting aside a specific time to write every day and not waiting until the evening. I don’t think I had a single post finished before 8pm! Like I said, I could have made it easier on myself.

Now that the 30 days are over, I plan to continue blogging but without the pressure to do so every day. I look forward to more days of excitedly typing away at my keyboard and maybe even a few days of grinding out a post I don’t necessarily love during the process.

Hermione is the Best of the Harry Potter Trio

There was a Harry Potter movie marathon on Freeform (previously ABC Family) this weekend. It brought back great memories since there’s always a marathon around finals time in college, and my roommates and I would spend many study breaks re-watching the movies (even though we had all of the DVDs). Seeing pieces of them again this weekend was a reminder of how great a character Hermione is, and honestly how terrible Rob and Harry are.

I related to Hermione growing up since we were similar. A book-smart girl (at times a know it all) who doesn’t know how to control her hair? Check.

Halloween 2014

Do you know how many times Harry would have died if it wasn’t for Hermione? He wouldn’t have made it through the first book! Her logic and quick thinking get the trio out of countless binds, and she handles the teen angst far better than the boys. The closest Hermione gets to being dramatic is when Ron dates Lavender Brown (for literally no reason), and she doesn’t feel like being around their constant snogging.

Compare this to Ron – who pouts when Hermione goes to the Yule Ball with Vikor Krum and does his best to ruin her evening out of spite. Ron also can’t handle the thoughts played out in his mind regarding Harry and Hermione, and it drives him to completely abandon the quest to destroy Horcruxes. Boy can’t hang.

Harry gets a bit more leeway since he’s had a rough life and was forced into limelight and danger since he was 11, but the amount of angst he deals out in The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince is almost unreadable/unwatchable.

Hermione doesn’t let her feelings get in the way of her greater mission. When Ron peaces out, Hermione stays the course of searching for Horcruxes and keeping Harry from the Death Eaters. Not to mention she gave up her entire family to do so – wiping their memories, so they wouldn’t ever remember their life with her in it.

Finally, Hermione is the only person besides Dumbledore to figure out that Harry is the 7th Horcrux. Even if Snape hadn’t been able to give Harry his memories before he died, Hermione had the ability to pass along the message. Besides Harry, Hermione is the most essential character to the series. The difference is that Harry is central because of his circumstances and Hermione is because of her abilities.

Becka’s Birthday Blog Post

My sister turned 30 this week. The milestone birthday plus the overall impressiveness that embodies who she is warrants an entire post dedicated to some of my favorite memories.

Growing up, I always wanted to be just like Becka. I mirrored my interests after hers from loving to read to wanting to take music lessons to sports. We had active imaginations and spent countless hours creating lives for our Barbies and other toys. I learned later in life that Becka played Barbies much later than the “expected age” and probably past her interest simply because I wanted to, and I’m thankful for that.

When I played rec league basketball, Becka taught me how to post up and drop step to the basket. (Side note: I used to be tall and play down low. This is now laughable as I haven’t grown since middle school.)

Becka and I would jam out to the Moulin Rouge soundtrack while driving to church on Wednesday nights, attempting to harmonize and hit the high notes.

Sometime in late middle school or early high school, Becka and I started a Thanksgiving tradition where we run through the neighborhood in Christmas clothes and decorations. I think we have only missed 2 years in the last 13.

Becka introduced me to Ender’s Game which is still one of my favorite books today.

When I was a senior in high school, Becka took me on a road trip to see one of her friends who lived in Canada. She had the 7th Harry Potter book with her (neither of us had read it yet) and whoever was the passenger had the task of reading out loud to the driver.

Becka is my best cheerleader. She’s made me smile during painful races with her shouts of, “Be the cheetah!” and “That’s my sister!”

Becka is the best person to visit or accompany a trip. She spent the summer in Ecuador a couple of years ago, and I got to experience so much of the country thanks to her planning. She is a bus navigation expert and will find the best hikes or adventurous excursions in the area.

She is a great dance partner, especially when your husband is less than fond of weddings. And dancing.

Just a few months ago when I got sick on a family trip near Christmas, Becka literally picked me up off of the bathroom floor and let my feverish head lay in her lap on the plane ride home.

She’s a beast! Becka’s goal was to do 5 pull ups in a row (actual pull ups – not chin ups and not only going down to when your elbows are 90 degree angles – all the way down), and I was able to witness her meeting this goal for the first time a couple of months ago.

Those are just a few memories of many. I am very blessed, and Becka being my sister is certainly one reason why.

April is Almost Over

April is almost over. The month I spent most of March fretting over. The month where we bought a new house, embarked on the adventure of making repairs and improvements, moved, and sold our old house. When it was still March, I kept thinking ahead to April and planning everything that had to happen, usually ending up overwhelmed. I felt like April would never get here, and now it’s almost over.

I certainly had some moments of feeling stressed where time seemed to move slowly (the day I was sure the painters were behind on the job). Now as I look back on April, it’s like a blur. All of the repairs (that require professionals at least) are done, moving was far easier than I imagined, and we no longer own two houses.

Time moves forward whether you’re ready for it (or stressed about it) or not. We are only 2 days from being 1/3 of the way through 2017! I hope to spend the rest of the year using my time better than worrying about the coming weeks.

Customer Service is Important

We’ve all heard the adage, “Be kind. You never know what someone is going through.” The profession that likely deals with this the most is customer service. The best CS reps (God bless them) internalize the adage and treat each customer with patience and care to help them with their problem. I encountered one such woman today.

I had a prescription for pickup at the pharmacy and decided to go get it after lunch today. I was already meeting a friend for lunch near the CVS, so it worked out nicely. There was terrible traffic to get to the pharmacy. I eventually pulled into a parking lot and walked the rest of the way there. I’m not sure if I would have even made it to the next traffic light by the time I was walking in the door. There was a long line, as there tends to be at any typical errands-type stop during the lunch hour. When it was finally my turn, I gave the woman my information, and she got my bag ready to give to the pharmacist. It’s a face cream that has to be mixed at the time of pickup, so it’s your usual grab and go situation.

“Oh – are you aware of the price? It’s [muffled] 46 dollars.”

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked her, slightly panicking because I thought I heard her say it was $346.

“It’s $246. Let me see if it’s running through your insurance.” She clicked a few buttons and then came back. “Yeah – it is. That’s the price with your insurance. Do you still want it?”

I could feel my heart rate rising. I really wanted my face cream, but not for $246. I’m used to the $20 copay I had with my old insurance.

“Umm…I don’t know. I might come back for it,” I stumbled through telling her this before briskly walking toward the door.

As I was walking, I could feel my throat tightening and my eyes watering. I just wanted to get to my car and call Josh and ask why his insurance was so expensive for prescriptions. When I got into the parking lot, I realized that I needed to walk a couple of blocks back to my car, and another wave of “I might lose it” hit me.

Disclaimer: I cry easily. None of this was a big deal, and I knew it. Sometimes I just react with tears. It’s definitely not my favorite thing about myself, but if I can catch it and control it before I actually cry, it’s not so bad.

I settled on texting Josh since that allowed me to continue calming myself down. He told me what I already knew – that I needed to call the insurance company.

I settled into my car, found my insurance card, took a few deep breaths and dialed the number. After going through a few prompts, I got to talk to a real person, and she was great at her job.

It turns out the policy is set up to use a mail order pharmacy instead of a retail store. We pay full price at a retail store but typical copay amounts if we use the mail order. She looked up the prices of both of my prescriptions and offered to walk me through requesting them online if I was at a computer. I told her I was sitting in my car, so she did everything for me on the phone. She sent the request to my doctor to have the prescription filled via mail order. She updated my address since we recently moved. She set up my credit card to be on file for future orders, and she gave me the call in number for the doctor in case I wanted to follow up with him about where to call in the refills from now on.

In addition to all of that, she answered my questions thoroughly. Not just the short snippets of what I needed to know and not condescendingly by overexplaining like I was an idiot. She had a perfect balance of full information and a kind tone that had me completely calm by the end of our call. I thanked her and told her how helpful she was before hanging up.

She had no idea I was having a mini-freak out just moments prior to calling her, but I have no doubt she knows she helped me. She just doesn’t realize it was in more than one way. It’s true that everyone is going through something you likely don’t know about. Be kind and be helpful. You might just be the one who turns around a low moment for them.

Which Came First: Being a Morning Person or Being a Light Sleeper?

I’m a morning person. It doesn’t mean I’m chipper and want to have a full conversation with you the moment I get out of bed, but it does mean that I get up when my alarm goes off. You have more control over your day when you get started early. I start my morning with a run because that’s the surest way I can guarantee fitting it into my day. I suppose night owls can make a similar argument – you just stay up as late as it takes to get everything done for the day – but I find it less stressful to start early. Making my run the first priority of my day means that I don’t have to plan my meals or meetings around a running break, and there’s no danger of an unexpected project or emergency to pop up when I want to go run. Those don’t tend to happen at 6am Eastern. 😉

I’ve also always been a light sleeper. For years I used my watch as an alarm because the soft beeping was enough to wake me up. I also still have a clock radio, and the slight noise it makes right before it goes off usually wakes me up before the radio does. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve hit the snooze button. An extra 9 minutes has never been enough for me to fall asleep again, and I seriously don’t understand the concept of setting 4-5 alarms starting an hour before you actually need to get up. That is my definition of sleep torture.

College roommates and marriage increased my tolerance for noise and ability to sleep through it. I’m still a morning person, and Josh and I manage his love for multiple alarms by me always getting up earlier than him.