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Some people love shoes. Some love bags. I happen to love Fitbits.

5 Jan

“It will help with your steps,” my 7 year old daughter said to me after asking for a glass of water only after I had already tucked her into bed.

I didn’t notice that my obsession with Fitbit was absorbed by my child.  But I knew my mother caught it when I gave her my Flex in September.  If she doesn’t reach her goal by the end of the night, she is known to pace in the house or go around the block before midnight when the counter starts over.

My love of Fitbit started a few years ago when my good friend told me she was wearing one.  I started with an Ultra – it was a great product right out of the gate – the customized messages, the display, battery life and clip.  After 18 months, I lost it.  I tried to wait it out, it had to turn up somewhere, but it never did.  I then started hearing about the Flex (wristband) and I put my name on a waiting list and waited.  I got it two days before a trip to Italy – which was great because I could track our steps during the trip.  I still haven’t beat the record day where we reached 18,000 steps walking through Venice.

But unlinke the Ultra, the Flex didn’t give me the immediate gratification or messaging – everything that I used to be able to see on the Ultra was only accessible on the FitBit app or site.  But I longed to see it right in front of me on my wrist.  And foolishly I thought it could double as a watch like the Nike Fuel Band, but the Flex was design just showing progress lights.  So I needed to wear both a watch and a FitBit.  I did love Flex’s addition of the silent alarm and sleep tracker, which the Ultra didn’t nail.

In September I gave the Flex to my mom and I bought the One.  All of a sudden the investment I stressed over was not an issue, I no longer ‘wanted it’ I needed it.  The One is really good, but the part that was missing was the personal connection with people (and effective sleep tracker.)  There is a small connection that is made when you see others wearing a Fitbit.  You don’t even have to talk about it, but you just have a something in common. You can’t get that when you wear a Fitbit on your waist under your clothes.

When I heard that Force, was coming out I put it on my Christmas list, knowing that my obsession is bordering ridiculous.  Then as fate would allow, when I was packing for my holiday vacation, I found the Ultra that I had lost so long ago in my suitcase.

My husband did end up getting me the Force for Christmas and it is the BEST one yet.  I now have the One, the found Ultra and my Force gift.  So I will pass on my obsession by finding good homes for the One and the Ultra.

The Force is a wristband and acts as a watch, it celebrates with lights and vibration when you get to your goal, there is a silent alarm, you wear it on your wrist, it tracks steps, stairs, miles and activity level and the battery life is incredible.

I’m looking forward to CES to see where the wearable technology category is going.

Dear Fitbit,
My wishes for the next Fitbit product include:
a pink band
slightly slimmer
ability to customize the display messages
a way to count the effort from a Power Yoga class.
You know I’ll buy it.



My most embarrassing vacation moment

30 Aug

Despite TSA’s best efforts to protect this country by randomly selecting a mother of three with children under six years old sans another adult companion, we managed to make it to Myrtle Beach.

The ticket agent neglected to give my husband his boarding pass. When he gave us the stack of tickets he put them an envelope so we didn’t notice until we got to the lead TSA agent wouldn’t let him pass (righftully so), and it put me in a challenging position. We had two car seats and three backpacks and three kids. Dan left with his backpack to go get his boarding pass, I proceeded to go through security with the gang. We made it through the metal detectors, but the bag didn’t – it was selected for a random screening. At the same time the car seats were being manually searched. The kids were running around the area of the inspection. Another TSA agent took the car seats and the stroller attachment to do a manual screen. One tested postitive for something, so they needed to take the stroller piece off of both to put through the x-ray machine.

Because the stroller had a positive match the TSA agent who had completed my bag and started to give it back to me, grabbed it from me again and took everything out – again. At the same time I saw Dan go through security, but didn’t see him show up at the inspection desk – he didn’t see us so he assumed we went to the gate (because a lot of time had passed.) I peeked around the inspection desk and saw him far down the corridor – I screamed “DAN!” three times and until he heard me. It wasn’t my most embarrassing moment.

He came back, but now the TSA agent needed do a total pat down on me. I can see why there are so many complaints – it was invasive, I guess they do it for real when you are a suspect. Dan took the kids and left me with the two seats, stroller attachments and my giant back pack.

When he arrived at the gate they told him they were shutting the door so he had to get on right away. He explained that I was trapped at security. At security I was dealing with the TSA agent jamming the picnic lunch back in my bag and the other agent who couldn’t attach the stroller correctly. I finally screamed “I am going to miss my flight – give me my things now.”

I ran as quickly as I could with all of my parafanalia. This was not my most embarrassing moment.

When I reached the gate we were all told to get on the plane quickly. I had one of the car seats, Dan had the other with the kids in between us. I was told the car seat would not make it down the aisle on the stroller contraption and that I needed to take it off before proceeding. With great difficulty I was able to get the two apart and had them in either hand, with my backpack on my back and three kids trailing behind me – I went down the aisle saying, “Sorry, pardon me, excuse me, sorry, watch your leg, pardon me, so sorry….” This was not my most embarrasing moment.

As I was going down the aisle I heard, “there is Kyra’s Dad.” I look over and there is Eric Wolin, I said “hello Eric, sorry I can’t talk now.” Still not the most embarrassing moment.

I got to row 19. I put my seat in the middle seat, then the flight attendant came and said it couldn’t go there because it was blocking in another passenger. I had to get the kids to move out of their seats so I could move the seat to the other side. As I fastened it into the seat, I heard the flight attendant announce, “I need the wife back up front.” This was the most embarrassing moment. I had to walk back up the aisle to the front to see why they needed me.

Dan was standing there with the car seat and stroller still attached with the gate attendant yelling at him. He was telling us we were going to have to leave the car seat in Boston because there was no way to get it apart and get it under the plane before we took off. We refused. Then the very nice flight attendant asked the pilot if we could put it in the cockpit, he said “of course. no problem.” We ran to our seats and buckeled up.

The seat and stroller wouldn’t come apart because the TSA agent put it together wrong. He essentially broke it. Luckliy we met my dad in Myrtle Beach who can fix anything.

Every ounce of patience was milked from every person involved – especially the gate attendant.



Milking Life Lessons from SXSW 2012

13 Mar

This was my first year at SXSW Interactive.  I was unprepared.  I am a planner to my core.  SXSW is different, you simply can’t prepare in the normal sense of planning what sessions you will attend, making dinner reservations, getting the right invitations to the after hour parties, scheduling business meetings with potential partners, etc.

The way to prepare for SXSW is to take classes in mediation and to embrace the theory of going with the flow. Truly – let go!

This post is for my future self and what I will do differently for next year; and it is for my present self – lessons to apply to my everyday life.

#1 Future:
Don’t check the twitter stream when you are in a session that you are enjoying; no matter how good Seth McFarlane is, you will find yourself clenching your fist when you read that Jimmy Fallon is tearing it up at the Nike tent across the street.

Stay present in the moment you are in.  Don’t check your wall or stream or Instagram, you will find things that may be more interesting that you could be doing – but now you’re not only NOT doing that but you are NOT enjoying what you are actually doing. This concept was actually a topic for a session where the question was asked Is Social killing Social? Good question for the next dinner party – try it especially in mixed generations.

#2 Future:
It’s ok to indulge in the persistent use of devices with screens.  It’s ok to not look up at all during a session even though there is a live person on stage.  It’s ok to check in.  It’s ok to tweet.  All the time. Even if you opt out of being able to tell people back home what Austin topography is like.

Save that behavior for Austin.

#3 Future:
Don’t go to panels.
But be willing to change your steadfast rule, as you may stumble across an energizing panel on How to Hire the Right People like my colleague did.  He is a technologist (aka geek) and was more energized from that one session than most anything else he saw at SXSW.

Be open. You may be surprised.

#4 Future:
Stay in town. Book as soon as the dates are announced (even if you pay a cancellation fee if you choose not to go.)

Don’t put off what you can do today until tomorrow.  Make plans, you can always adjust.  Plans, like education, give you options.

#5 Future:
Don’t amble, lead the group. You’ll know when you’ve gone too far.  It’s always better to have colleagues/friends to attend sessions with, but at the end of the day you have to do what interests you and you can’t wait to see what everyone else is doing and if they will get there.  Most times I did change my mind minutes before a session because someone would suggest something that sounded better than what I originally picked. That’s how I saw Seth McFarland with Mark Wahlberg talking about Ted Movie and Jeffrey Tambor’s Acting Workshop.

See #3 AND once a decision is made go for it with gusto.

#6 Future:
Pack an umbrella and two raincoats (light and heavy), then do a rain dance.
If it hadn’t rained Thursday, Friday, Saturday and the morning of Sunday, I would have had a very hard time staying indoors absorbing all the great discussions, presentations and conversation.  On Sunday I went outside the Convention Center for a quick bite to eat at a food truck; it was very hard to go back inside.  The weather had turned from a rainy/windy 45 degrees to a sunny 75 in a matter of hours.
There is always a bright side, it just may take you longer to find it.

#7 Future:
Call Wilson.  Our cab driver.

Surround yourself with people who will answer the call.

The last thing is just a note of something very valuable for parents to remember and keep learning – let children fail.  It was dimensionalized for me during two sessions about the principles of Gamification.  This builds resiliency and drive to overcome obstacles.  Don’t jump in to stop the error, don’t say “trust me because I have the experience” – unless it is dangerous.  Let them learn and apply.

Week One of Vacation and Only One Broken Bone

25 Dec

Tonight is Christmas Eve and my immediate family and I are in SC visiting my parents with my sister and her boyfriend.  I came with my three children a week in advance to have some quality family time (which basically entails chasing three kids around without work to distract me.)

On the last day prior to my husband joining us here, I tripped over my son and twisted my foot in an attempt not to squish him.  The good news is that I didn’t fall on him.  The not so good news is that I somehow twisted my toes inside my shoe and now have a broken toe (self diagnosed).  It’s not an important toe – but my second toe is longer than the big toe which according to Wikipedia I am more susceptible to metatarsal fractures.  I  am more susceptible because I am clumsy and always have been.

After two days of walking around on it like it didn’t hurt, I am finally milking the situation by putting my feet up with ice while the family cleans up after the Christmas Eve  dinner.

Tubes Are the New Norm

19 Oct

We were at MGH at o’dark thirty this morning with our 1.5 year old son Sam.  He has had 10 ear infections in his life and partial hearing loss.  As any mother would be, I was a little worked up over the notion of a young person being put under.  But was calm knowing that it was a minor routine procedure.  Everything went well and we were home by 10am with a relatively back to normal toddler.

The part I found very interesting was that we were with four other families during the pre-op and post-op.  One of the father’s little girl was three and born at 32 weeks with Downs.  This was their fourth time at MGH to get tubes.  He was telling us that she doesn’t speak and ‘they’ say she can’t hear.  But he said, ‘she hears me.  she comes when I say her name from across the room.’  He went onto explain that she wears glasses but he thinks she sees everything.  And if music plays she is a dancing fool!  He said, “she’s normal to me.”

Most times when I hear a story like this I scold myself for too much self pity, but this time I didn’t do that.  I was just happy to hear his perspective.  He seemed to be a great dad working two jobs to support his normal family.  I was grateful for it all.

On a side note, one of the father’s in our group wouldn’t engage with the aforementioned father because he was wearing a NY Yankees shirt. But later he broke down.  It was a good bonding moment for all of us to poke fun and to find out why he wore such a shirt.  He explained he was from Dominican and lived in NYC for a long time.  If he hadn’t added that he liked the Lakers and Jets, all would have been forgiven.  We milked the unimportant chatter while we waited anxiously to comfort our children.

Going to bed

1 Jun

Written in the last 13 minutes of May 2011

Sometimes going to bed is too much trouble.  Wouldn’t it be great if on days when you needed to just keep going you could skip the whole night part – just swoop right into the next day feeling refreshed and energized without missing a beat?  I have been trying to catch up this evening and got carried away on all things digital.  It’s now 11:47 and I am trying to shut my brain off, except I can’t.  I also have a 4 1/2 year old in my bed because she fell out of hers.  It is only the second or third time she has done that in two years, so we are thankful.  But she was really startled this evening so we shuffled her into our bed about 30 minutes ago. I’m not anxious to compete for a piece of the king size bed…she is tiny but takes up so much space.  I am milking this quiet time in between the night and morning.

It always rains on me in Puerto Rico

14 May

It always rains on me in Puerto Rico and that’s ok. I am on a girls’ weekend in Ocean Park. We stay at the Número Uno Guest House. My two friends have been coming to this same place for eight years. My first trip here was their second year. It poured. And poured. We spent a lot of our time huddled on the wrought iron couches listening to the rain on the tin roof while deeply immersed in our books. My second trip here was their fourth year. It poured and was windy, but we did have a couple nice beach days. And now on my third trip here, I find all five (every year there is a different cast of characters who join the original two) of us huddled together in the courtyard talking about going to lunch; however there isn’t any power so we will just have to make due with the hunk of Manchego.

It’s ok that it rains because we are still relaxing. We still don’t have to check email. We don’t have to figure out how to entrain children in the downpour. We don’t have to do anything except be thankful that we can take this time out to recharge. We are milking our time in the rain, together but alone in our books and our thoughts (and drinks.)

I spent a lot of time worrying about leaving my family for four days. But my wonderful husband reminded me in his way that if I didn’t enjoy myself this time would be wasted. So therefore it goes to support the great advice – if you are going to do something do it well.

Milk the Happy and Healthy moments

8 May

Mother’s Day is more special to me every year – especially as my family has grown against the odds.  I now have three beautiful thriving children.  I also have family and friends and a great nanny who support us.  We are fortunate enough to afford a nice life with clothing, shelter, food and fun.  I count my blessings everyday day, sometimes more often.

Digitas, my second home, has been working on promoting Cradles to Crayons these last few months.  The team produced a wonderful video to get out the word about the organization who takes care of the more than 305,000 children in MA who need assistance.  Here is the link to a 3 minute video, it’s well worth the time. You can also friend them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.  We are currently working on a collection of goods drive, so if you want me to bring anything in get it to my house by Monday night.  You can also drive the stuff to their collection facility in Brighton.

I am also thinking about military families.  I grew up an Air Force brat, my mom had me when she was 21 and moved to Texas two months after I was born.  She didn’t have a support system or very much money – but my parents had a lot of love.  I am thankful she was too young to know the difference and living in a time where that was enough.

However today’s military families are working hard to make ends meet and to raise their children when the moms and dads are gone for long assignments in the Middle East.   My thoughts are with them.

My Mother’s Day thoughts are also consumed with four strong women who are elderly, ill and grappling with the last stages of life.  The struggle is that we know we all die, but it’s how that happens and when that is hard to watch and hard to do gracefully.

So Happy Mother’s Day to everyone who is happy or struggling or healthy or ill.  We need to milk the Happy and Healthy moments for those who can’t do it themselves.

Milk the principles of exercise to help manage keeping up at work

2 Mar

If you follow this blog you know that I am challenged with finding time where I feel like working out.  So in addition to the stairs (I managed to do 30 flights today), I am also starting to do the add one sit up and one push up everyday.  I started this with my friend Donna at work.  We don’t do this at work, but we make sure we are both sticking to the plan.  We’re on day four, so we’re doing very well so far – four sit ups and four push ups – who can’t do that?!

I am applying a similar approach to keeping up with all the news in my industry.  You can’t possibly keep up with everything, but you can get yourself organized in such a way that you can add things in on a gradual basis and before you know it you are reading  new blogs (MarketingProfs), watching another TED video (Sheryl Sandberg) and following new people on Twitter (@jowyang).

Walking stairs brings up issues

25 Feb

It’s hard to walk the stairs…

..while texting, emailing, surfing or talking on the phone

…with a winter coat, mittens, scarf, starbucks, umbrella, big ole boots, a purse and a computer bag (I am still carrying the laptop and iPad, I have to figure out how to stop this)

…and what I discovered today…skinny jeans.  The good news is that I fit into my version of skinny jeans, the bad news is that it adds a new challenge to walking up the nine flights of stairs.

…Oh yeah, that was another new revelation today – no office building labels the 13th floor – so going from 8 to 18 is not ten flights, but rather nine flights.  This “ah ha” was the most disturbing of all.

I will continue to milk the brief alone time and power up the nine flights while only using my iPhone for music.