Plaid Tidings, Finding My Voice, Braiding Sweetgrass, and a Lenten Special 

Please consider giving to these organizations providing humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

Save the Children

International Rescue Committee

International Committee of the Red Cross

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! I hope you have plans later to drink a Guinness and listen to Irish music. If you need a dirty limerick or two to complete your celebration, watch this scene from the episode of the Crown when Princess Margaret goes on a mission to smooth out relations with the U.S. Much to the dismay of the queen, she gets into a drinking contest followed by a dirty limerick contest with Lyndon B. Johnson. It’s delightfully crass!

A Perfectly Plaid Cape for Saint Patrick’s Day and Beyond

I wore this outfit to give a presentation on an article I had the great privilege of writing last year. It’s a story I came across randomly on my company’s social networking platform. A colleague had posted about his great uncle, a fallen soldier at Pearl Harbor, whose remains were finally identified last year using our DNA sequencing technology. As soon as I read his post, I knew I had to write about it. It started as an article and a few social posts and grew from there. It was eventually featured in our company-wide newsletter and is now being considered for other campaigns. During my presentation to colleagues, I talked about my experience researching, writing, and promoting the story internally and externally. It’s a project I’m extremely proud of, and it still makes me emotional when I think about it. I prepared for my presentation so I could stay composed, but I think my cape gave me that little extra boost of confidence!

Finding My Voice Through Toastmasters

Although it’s fun to imagine my fabulous cape was the source of my composure during that presentation, the real reason for my newfound poise is Toastmasters, an educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills. I joined in August and have been faithfully attending every week since. During our meetings, we practice both planned speeches and impromptu speaking. We measure our ability to keep time and avoid filler words throughout. For planned speeches, we practice giving and receiving feedback.

I’m certainly learning a lot about what I can do to improve my public speaking skills. But the true value crystallized for me last Tuesday, on International Women’s Day no less. I was leading the impromptu speaking portion of our Toastmasters meeting on the importance of empowering women. I spoke about how, as a woman, I tend to get quiet and not speak up in certain situations and explained how Toastmasters is helping me find my voice and the confidence to speak up and do it effectively. Clarity can be serendipitous!

Braiding Sweetgrass, a Reflection on Our Relationship with Nature   

I recently read Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. In the book, Kimmerer discusses our broken relationship with the natural world and what we can learn from it and give back to make it right. Her poetic style of writing is beautiful, although it can be repetitive at times. I enjoyed her teachings about plants and indigenous culture and her blending of science and tradition.

Some of her critiques of Western culture do a better job of connecting the dots than others. But I agree that in our everyday, modern lives, we’ve become disconnected from nature — the very thing that sustains us. I think we can all benefit from paying closer attention to how our actions affect the planet and be better caretakers of it for future generations. I’ll be thinking about the overarching themes of reciprocity and generosity for a while.

A Newer Pittsburgh Restaurant and Their Lenten Special  

We finally went to Moonlit Burgers, a new burger place in Dormont. The first time we tried it was on Ash Wednesday, so we had the Lenten Salmon Burger, a salmon patty with jalapeno cilantro slaw, garlic dijonnaise, and pickles on a potato roll. It was delightful! I tried to recreate it this week with a few Trader Joe’s staples. It wasn’t bad, but I’ll definitely be going back to Moonlit Burgers before Lent is over.

I hope you have a fabulous rest of your week and a great weekend!

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