Sunday, July 12, 2015

Crayons to Perfume

How do you thank someone who has taken you from Crayons to Perfume?

It isn't easy, but I'll try ;)

I met my best friend, Sarah, when we were 5 years old. 

From the second we met, soul-mates. 
Our mutual friend, Lauren, made the introduction and I still remember that fateful day like it was yesterday. We were playing "school" and like any good teacher, Lauren tried to control her class. Sarah and I were a force to be reckoned with. We busted up laughing every time we looked at each other. The more we tried not to laugh, the harder we'd laugh.

The only thing that separated us that day was a call from my mom asking me to come home. I was sad because I wasn't sure I'd ever see Sarah again.

As "luck" would have it, one year later Sarah and her family moved in NEXT DOOR.

In case you ever doubted, the Universe IS good.

We raised each other
I was an only child and to say I was a brat is an understatement. I threw temper tantrums. I was clumsy and I broke everything (including Sarah's Barbie dolls). I even broke Sarah's door one day after slamming it so hard in one of my infamous tantrums. And yet, Sarah still loved me. She still invited me over everyday to play.

Sarah created worlds for us - circuses, plays, dance routines, musicals, a full-on confidence course in her garage. Out of all the neighborhood kids, she was definitely the coolest. She listened to the best music and wore the hippest clothes. She had a Doughboy swimming pool, a gigantic trampoline, and a backyard that looked like a jungle. I wanted to be just like her. And even though it took me a LONG time to mellow out, it was Sarah's friendship that I wanted more than I wanted to have my way. She taught me how to put my juvenile needs aside and to start considering others. She taught me at a very early age how to love selflessly.

We had season Passes to Great America . The theme park was our perfect bridge between childhood and adulthood. It was June, summer of 5th grade, and we had just spent a full day at G.A. We came home and I went directly to the bathroom.

I started crying. I knew what it was, I just didn't think it would come so soon. Sarah and our other friend Michelle came rushing in "what's wrong?!"

Me: I started my period

Michelle: Oh, it's Hell! Helllllll! Cramps, those bulky pads, and you won't be able to go on roller coasters for a week!

Sarah: Oh Heather! This is so beautiful! You are a woman now! Now, you're a woman!

A month later, Sarah, her beautiful Aunt Shawn and cousin Audrey gave me my very own menses celebration ceremony on the beach. The White Wolf Ceremony we called it. We lit candles, threw trinkets in the ocean, and talked about how fortunate we were to be wild women. All this to celebrate the women we were, the women we'd become.

Love and Los Angeles
In my early 20's I met the love of my life and moved far far away from friends and family to be with him. Our relationship was deeply loving and yet, due to a variety of circumstances, it was also very challenging for me. I dove head first into our love and made the mistake of losing myself in the process. Two years into our relationship, I fell apart.

I called Sarah one day (as I often did) and told her about the dark state I was in. I'll never forget the tone in her voice, the seriousness. "I'm flying out to get you, we'll drive back to L.A. and you'll stay with me until you feel better." She knew the difference between a call and a cry for help. And she saved my life.

She did fly out and we did drive my car 3,000 miles back to L.A. I had $500 to my name which was just enough to pay for cross-country gas. Sarah didn't know what she was signing up for at the time, but what she got was a roomie for 2 years. That beautiful woman opened her home to me for two years.

We lived in her tiny Bachelor apartment, complete with a hotplate and not much else. We put up sheets to divide the room so we'd both have privacy. The sheets were hung by adhesive-backed plastic hooks we bought at CVS. The hooks would frequently lose their stick and all of our "walls" would come down.

Still, we felt like queens because we each only had to pay $400 for our rent and we had each other. We started a band together (the FIRST rendition of the Happy Hollows). We did avant garde performances around Los Angeles, wearing costumes and pirate patches on our eyes (a story for another post). Sarah was FAR MORE committed to our band than I was. She was ready to make it big and she had the talent and the discipline to back it up. I backed out of our band and Sarah brought on new members, Charlie and Chris and then eventually Dan and Matt too. The rest is history. Sarah will continue to make history...anyone can see.

Coffee Talks 
Sarah taught herself guitar. And then, in 2013, when she was asked to fill in for bassist Nikki Monninger on the SilverSun Pickups tour, Sarah taught herself to play bass. In one month. And here she is, on stage, touring the world with SSPUs.

That's Sarah. She never shies away from greatness. She never shies away from hard work. She ALWAYS shows up for greatness. And if you've ever met Sarah, you know that she not only radiates greatness, but she also reflects back YOUR greatness. It's her gift and her service to humanity.

But back to coffee...While on tour, Sarah would go on the road for 3+ weeks at a time. It was hard not seeing her for those 3 weeks. But I always knew at the end of the tour, we'd have coffee. And for us, "coffee" means hours and hours and hours at Urth Cafe, sipping lattes and storytelling.

And Sarah can tell a story -- let me tell you! No one tells a story like Sarah. She brings her life experience to life through her re-telling of it. I can listen to her for hours. Her ability to tell stories ushers in an even stronger sense of kinship with her because you really feel like you are experiencing what she experienced. I'll be the first to admit it -- I often live vicariously through her wild stories ;)

The time we spend together is so precious to me. I am always amazed that we can go weeks (or months sometimes!) apart and come together over one coffee talk and I can walk away from that talk feeling like not a day has passed. This, to me, is evidence that an invisible bond exists between us, and that no distance, no time, and no external circumstance can ever part two true best friends.

Sisters to eternity
Sarah is half Persian/half Irish. She has beautiful thick dark hair, olive skin, and oblong facial features. I am mostly Irish and can claim a tiny bit of Italian. I have wispy hair, glowing white skin (in the winter!) and very round facial features. We look nothing alike, okay?

And yet! I cannot tell you how many times we get asked the question "Ooooh! Are you sisters?"

It's weird! It's puzzling! And it's wonderful. I think those weirdos are seeing what we've seen all along... We are most definitely soul sisters.

Sarah, you are the best sister I could ever have and I love you to eternity. Thank you for being the most wonderful human being alive.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My Parents, A Love Story.

My parents, Bryan and Toni Pollock, have been happily married for 37 years.

After a little bit of prodding, they finally agreed to let me interview them.

Here, in this sweet interview, they share their wisdom on dating, marriage, love and building trust. May it serve as a reminder that true, forever-kind-of-love is possible (and perhaps in some cases, inevitable).

To a lifetime of Love...


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Matzo Ball Soup For the Entrepreneurial Soul

It has arrived ladies and gentleman..your life-changing guide to finding personal fulfillment, the career of your dreams, your soul-mate of many-lifetimes, great financial wealth, the fountain of youth, boundless energy, lifelong health, and the path to achieving all of your childhood dreams overnight.                                                                                                                                       .....Or alternately, it's just my list of things that I am finding particularly inspiring right now. ;)


1) Pando Monthly Fireside Chats: These are 2-hour long talks with some of the top CEOs and thought-leaders in the Tech world. All hosted by the hilarious and wildly entertaining Sarah Lacy. Here are 3 of my favs so far:


2) The James Altucher show: James Altucher is one of my all-time favorite interviewers because his curiosity is so authentic. He has some great guests - ranging from Seth Goden to Tony Robbins, to Twisted Sister and Scott Adams. Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
  • AJ Jacobs - A.J. is a journalist, lecturer, human guinea pig and author of four New York Times bestsellers.
  • Maria Popova a Bulgarian writer, blogger, and critic living in Brooklyn, New York. She is known for her blog, which features her writing on culture, books, and eclectic subjects off and on the Internet.
  • Biz Markie Biz is bet known for the one-hit wonder "Just a Friend" and in this episode, James Altucher reflects on his worst interview of all time. It's hilarious!
And here is an inspiring talk by the man himself. He has had quite a ride throughout his life, but he's managed to use his experience to help and inspire a huge number of people -- myself (clearly!) included. I love him!


3) Stanford's Entrepreuneurial Thought Leaders Podcast: Weekly lectures given by thought-leaders to Stanford students. I've just recently started to get into these but I find them incredibly inspiring so far. I love the fact that uber successful leaders still take the time out to share their wisdom, their hard-earned lessons learned and their time with young people. The fact that the public has access to these gems is just mind-boggling.
  • Shah Selbe -a National Geographic Explorer, spacecraft propulsion engineer, ocean conservation technologist and the Southern California region representative of Engineers Without Borders. He's doing some radical things in the area of protecting our waters from over-fishing using drone technology and other amazing things you or I will probably never do in our lifetime ;) 
  • Ron Gutman - CEO and Founder of the Interactive Health company HealthTap. I love his talk because he really emphasizes the importance of establishing organizational values and making sure that those values stay vital over time within an organization. He's also just a gentle and lovely soul!


4) I could list more podcasts, but I know not everyone is so keen on long-form interviews and lectures, so I'll list a few other big sources of inspiration.
  • Quora  -A question-and-answer site where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by it's community of users. What differentiates Quora from other (crappy) sites like Yahoo!Answers, etc is it's quality users. The community is home to some brilliant people (including well-known public figures) and the answers tend to be creative, well-thought out, and fact-driven. The content is top-notch and you can really dive deep to find some cool information. I lose hours on this site and always walk away feeling better (and smarter!) for it.
  • SkillFeed - There are lots of online learning courses and I think the most well-known sites (Khan Academy, Coursera, Lynda) are all fabulous. We are so fortunate to have access to free (or very low- cost) education right at our fingertips - and available anywhere in the world. I just came across SkillFeed recently and I like its focus on technical courses. It's only $19 a month for unlimited access to their 77,000 courses. 
  • General Assembly - If I had money to be an Angel Investor, I would throw some serious cash at GA. From what I can see, they are definitely on their way to being the next big thing. They've essentially created a modern-day, hip approach to vocational training for the tech generation. They offer both online and offline classes and they are centered in some of the major tech-city hubs (SF LA, NY, Austin, Hong Kong, London etc). My local GA is super active in the community - offering workshops, fire-side chats, panels, happy hour events, and more. They also just created an App (GA Hub) which alerts you of all local happenings.
  • Inc Magazine  - a little old-school, but I get the paper subscription because I have a very specific Inc. reading practice. I like to dog-ear all of the articles I find inspiring and write down things or people I want to reach out to or research  further. Sometimes the greatest inspiration comes from a small ad or a little fact blip on one of the pages. However you read it, there is sure to be interesting profiles of people doing revolutionary things in tech and in business. I love learning about the frontiers that are being explored and the brave figures behind them.
AND YOU? What's your recipe for inspiration? Do share!

Friday, February 13, 2015

MBA circa 2021

Bookmark this page!

That is, if you have decided to go back to Community College.

Haha! No. That's crazy, you're 35. Why would you do that?

With the support of some incredible mentors, I have decided to go back to school to get my MBA.

I dropped out as an undergraduate, so that means I have to start where I am at -in lower division classes at a Community College. It's humbling, scary and a bit embarrassing. I'm trying not to make too big a deal out of it and yet even my body has a visceral reaction to the smallest of Enrollment processes.

This morning, I went online to pay for classes and my mind had a field day. If you were able to tune in to the radio show in my head, you would have heard this:

"Whoa Girl, are you sure you want to do that? There goes 400 buckaroos for ONE class. And this is only the beginning, you'll have to fork out this kind of dough every quarter now. Just imagine the costs of a real college! What are you thinking? What the hell are you doing? You're never going to finish anyway. You'll probably just get derailed by the next shiny thing in front of you. How embarrassing."

Lucky for me, there is an "off button" to Radio PooPooHead - my support team. I went back to the emails I received yesterday in reply to my news. I read their supportive "Hoorays" , "Go Heathers" and "MBA! MBA! MBA!s" and I felt fortified.

I said a little prayer, went to that damn Santa Monica College website and purchased my course.

Bus1: Intro to Business Management

Just like that, I am a student again. 

P.S. I can't wait to meet my new instructor, Mr. Oliveri!
Joe Oliveri

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Throwing in the Tinder Towel

Where have all the cowboys gone?

5 reasons why I am throwing in the Tinder towel for good. 

And not just Tinder, all of them - Hinge, JDate, eHarmony, Match, they all gotta go. 

Here's why:

1) My prince, if he's out there, will come to me on a white horse. 

I have no intention of suiting up in steel armor and scaling castle walls to win the heart of my sleeping prince. 

I own a well-read copy of The Rules. Some poo poo it, but I think there's a lot of wisdom in the book. It's not a long list of ways for women to play games or to trick men into liking them. Quite the opposite. The book teaches women how to create enough space for a man and a woman to get to know each other in a savory way despite our endless options for immediate-gratification-dating. It encourages women to love and value themselves and to not waste their time chasing, impressing, or trying to save a man from doing the hard work of being vulnerable and chivalrous. 

The authors took it up a notch when writing The Rules for Online Dating  which celebrates online dating. Where I stand now, I don't. I think online dating itself breaks one of the most fundamental rules - allow the man to pursue you.

The simple act of creating a dating profile says to the world "I am looking for my Prince. I am putting myself out there. I am trying." 

No. I am not trying. Not any more.

Me, I am asleep in a high tower. I don't envy my prince. I am sure there are dragons to slay, walls to scale and motes to cross. But I trust he'll figure out. And until then, I'll enjoy my beauty rest. 

2) Speaking of beauty...You Can't Judge a Date by It's Picture.

I don't need to list the myriad ways that men and women take liberties with their profiles to make themselves more appealing in the online marketplace. Anyone who's ever dated online has had a least one experience of meeting a date for the first time and being like "what the fuck?!". Mine was with a man who claimed to be 35 and who was...50!!! His hot pictures were from like 1989. "Dude, I was 9 back then, Bro.This date is done."

I don't really blame anyone for stretching the truth. In fact, sometimes I worried that my profile pictures actually look nothing like me in the flesh. My eyes are deep set. My face is a bit crooked. My weight fluctuates a few pounds on any given month. My teeth must be yellower then my spiffed up Instagram filter would lead on to. 

This is all just to say, I want to be in 3D when I meet someone. Right there, in real time, we can decide if we are hot or not.

3) When Supply is , Attention-Span is .

I've read a few profiles that said something to the effect "Ladies, I know you think you are a snowflake and should be adored for your every move, but that's not what I am all about."

Let's get clear. We're all snowflakes. 

A real man acknowledges that all individuals - men and women alike - are unique and have value. A real man looks for reasons to adore. A real man looks for ways to be all about that. 

But again, who can blame a man (or woman) for thinking that a woman is a dime a dozen? Online we are. If I don't IM in a timely matter or follow sexual ques immediately, there are a million other women on the site who might. AND they probably have a better bikini body than I do! Who am I to expect a man's sustained attention online? 

Attention is one of our most precious commodities as human beings. Paying attention is a powerful display of the ability to love. It is an act of love. If a man is too distracted by all the glittery profiles to focus in on one special being, he loses the opportunity to practice the art of attention. A man not practiced in this art will never be a good lover. 

So then I ask myself, why would I draw from a pool of men who are distracted by a million other bikinis? 

Nah, I'll just kick it, thanks.

4) Selfies Make Me Sad. 

5) I Don't Really Need Any More Screen Time. 
Updates, message, alerts. My phone is blowing up. My inbox is full of "See who's checking you out, Heather" emails. I need to create an auto filter. Gmail, please move all of these eHarmony emails into "probably won't work out anyway."

Oh man. That's pretty pessimistic. If I put that sh** on my profile, I'd be single forever!

But it is true that there are lots of alerts and lots of administrative tasks associated with dating. At the end of my workday, the last thing I want to do is spend some more time in front of my computer replying to potential lovers. The more time after work I spend "swiping right or left" the less time I have out in the real world enjoying the real things I enjoy with the people I love.

I'll be the first to admit it, it's fun to "keep playing the game" and numbing my brain with simple decision-making exercises (to the left for "No Way" to the right for "Hottie"). So much easier than making more complex decisions in my life. But I do think it comes at a cost. My soul kind of hurts after the game. And unlike other games (like Cards Against Humanity for instance!) that are played with other people, there is no laughter involved. No shared moments. No "Remember when you ______ when we were playing Cards Against Humanity? That was hilarious!"

At the end of the day, it's just not satisfying. Not joyous. A satisfied, joyous lover makes a better lover than a lover who is bored, just wasting time.

I'd like to be a good lover. So, for now - and probably forever - this chick is going offline.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

What Do You Fancy In 2015?

Every New Year I create a collage of things I hope to bring into the New Year. 

This is the spirit of what I'd like to bring in to 2015.

Let's have a closer look shall we?     


TOP LEFT...People and Places!

Parents, Besties, Cosmo Jones & Fam, Camping. I want to spend more time with the people I love. I want to do more lovely things with these lovely people I love. 

TOP RIGHT...Career! 

I want to blog a lot more this year. Also on the dream list - I want to start my own podcast and I want to interview people I find fascinating. Here I've included pictures of my podcasting heros: Ira Glass (This American Life), James Altucher (The James Altucher Show), Roman Mars (Radiotopia) and Krista Tippet (On Being) for inspiration. Maybe one day I'll interview them too!

BOTTOM LEFT...Looooove!
 Let's just say, I've done more than my fair share of online dating. 

BOTTOM RIGHT...Sexiness!

Who's afraid of a little more sexy? Not me!  


I want to continue to keep up the yoga practice, to sleep well and to eat like a champion. Maybe my 2019 New Year's Collage will have a picture of me standing on one hand!

And now, it's your turn, what elements would you include in your New Year's collage?!?!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My 20's in 20/20

I feel like I'm twenty again.

Only now I don't recover as quickly from hangovers (or french fries). 

It's the first day of the New Year and while I do my best not to buy into the anxiety of new year resolutions and the limited window of NYE opportunity, I can't help but feel I should have at least figured out what I want to do for the rest of my life before the ball dropped last night.

That sensation - the gnawing feeling that I should know what I want to do with my life - was the hallmark feeling of my 20's. I resolved every year to get my act together and to figure out what the hell I wanted to do with my life. I tried college (multiple times) and failed. I tried Army life (Lieutenant Prospect Pollock is still M.I.A). I spent a year as a stay-at-home girlfriend. I tried my hand at being a famous singer. 

The only thing I knew for sure in my 20's was that I didn't want an office job. I assumed the only way someone like me (a person with no degree and no real work experience) could avoid an office job long term was to be a waitress. And so I waitressed, and waitressed and waitressed. While my peers were graduating, getting promotions, and buying boats, I was... that's right...still waitressing. 

Finally well into my 30's, I decided it was time to throw in the proverbial towel and get a "real job".

And a real job I got (see how here).

At first I was hired to organize their stock room. 3 months later, I was hired full time with a 3-part title: Executive Assistant, Office Manager, and Project Manager.

When I read the New Hire Organization Announcement, I ran to the bathroom to cry.  They must have made a mistake. There was no way this College-Dropout-Forever-Waitressing-F*ck up could be lucky enough to be trusted with so much responsibility. I felt like a liability.

I spent my first year and a half at the company trying to prove I was worth keeping. I was the first to get to the office and the last to leave. I spent my weekends in fear, feeling that I didn't accomplish enough during the work-week. To fix the anxiety, I started to work weekends too. When that wasn't enough, I worked in the shower, when I was with friends, and while I worked out. I was absolutely consumed and my brain was crowded with a to-do list so long that I couldn't see straight.

I bet you can guess what happened. 

That's right...burnout. 

I ended up quitting my job and going on tour for a month as a Merch Girl  (see more here). The travel and time away proved to be enough to replenish my creative resources and I was able to go back to the company - this time as an Independent Contractor. I also started to take on side projects and consulting for other companies. 

I've been working in this capacity as an Independent Contractor for over a year. I report to 3 different bosses at 3 different companies. I do an assortment of things and on any given day I can be a Recruiter, an HR Developer, a Project Manager, an Accountant, a Productivity Specialist, a Supply Chain Project Manager. 

I am grateful. In my life after waitressing, I have been thrown into the deep end and given opportunities to do things I was totally unqualified to do. I have virtually earned an MBA through all I have learned. I no longer feel like a loser because I didn't finish college. I now know the value I can bring to a company and I have a much better sense of what my strengths are and where my talents really lie. As a 34 year old woman, I finally know I am not a liability. 

AND YET, I want more.

Now, I want mastery in a subject and industry of my choosing

The people I admire the most have dedicated themselves to one thing and have become masters of their respective subjects. I find them to be the most generous givers of all because they share their expertise in a highly concentrated form. My heroes - Krista Tippet (Master of spacious conversations), Jean Vanier (Master of compassion), Marva Collins (Master Teacher), James Altucher (Master of ideation), Wendell Berry (Master poet) have all worked in their respective fields for decades.

And this brings me back my 20's where I had to ask the questions: What do I want to be when I grow up? What field do I want explore? What industry do I want to enter? I'm right back there.

I don't have the answer today. Only some clues. But I guess I needed to remind myself on this New Year's Day: I may be back in the questions of my twenties, but at least now (with the great support I have in my life) I can look at these questions with 20/20 vision. The 34 year old me has mentors, extremely wise friends and family members, and the light of experience to help see me through.

I resolve to keep experimenting, to keep searching, and to keep asking for help.

Happy New Year's all!