Science on the rocks: A Happy Hour at the Discovery Place

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The comment that would best describe the Science on the Rocks event, hosted at the Discovery Place in Uptown Charlotte, was made by a mom from Huntersville. She said something along the lines of “I am used to bringing my kids here, but coming without them is so much fun… I’ve already had two beers and all I can say is they should do it more often”. The Discovery Place is known as this cool science oriented museum especially designed for kids, an interactive place where you can learn more about biology, physics and astronomy. Science on the Rocks was an adult event accepting only people over 21, with bars spread around the museum. It was sort of an educative and interactive happy hour, with friends getting together to learn while playing.

On the first floor, there was a fish and sea animals exhibition, with water tanks for you to touch some of them. Ants and bugs were also exposed on a different room. One of my favorite parts was the section with musical instruments, and other cool toys. My husband preferred the catapult beer pong they installed by the cafe and bar, though.

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The main floor was even cooler. A mini lifting machine with four different seats were build to made people feel the different amount of force they needed to use to lift themselves to the top, teaching about the physical concepts of force, energy and weight. Near it, there were tables were you could design your own stop motion short film with different toys. Not to mention the Frog exhibition and the Alien Worlds and Androids, the last one displaying life sizes replicas of Star Wars’s  C3PO and Iron Man. In the same section, there was a room displaying footage of how NASA uses tones to analyze planets, their chemical components and the possibility of having aliens living there.

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The main complain was the 45 minutes line to get to the bars. There was 4, 2 in each floor of the museum, but they weren’t enough to handle the amount of people attending the event. Overall, a very fun entertaining and educative night. They definitely need to do it more often.

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Lean In: How to be a powerful and influential woman in the workplace

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Since I moved to Charlotte, 3 months ago, I have been attending different networking events to get to know more people in the area. I want to know people like me, who are very passionate about empowering women, having a positive impact in the community and creating media content that stimulates people to think critically. Other ex-pats who have multiple backgrounds and know how to use their diversity into their advantage when it comes to the workplace.

Last thursday was my first time joining the Lean In discussion group. The title of the meeting was Power, Influence and Violence, and we had two discussion topics:

1. Power and influence in the office: ​How body language, speech and actions can affect your authority and approachability.

2. Power, influence and violence in our lives: Constructing valuable dialogs​

Our discussion started with how you position yourself during meetings to best achieve your goal and be heard by your peers in different industries and how you alternate authority and approachability roles according to the circumstances. That itself was such a life lesson, I left the meeting thinking and reenacting all the professional encounters I had where I felt that I could have been more emphatic about my point of view, but I didn’t force the issue because I didn’t want to be perceived as another bitchy woman.  I came to the conclusion that most of the times I hold my tongue to maintain the idea that I am a pleasant person, open to dialogue and willing to give in to sustain a peaceful working atmosphere. But, at the same time, behaving like that might have prevented me from showing others how confident I am in myself and my ability to do a good job. I might have, unintentionally, played low for too long. And just by having the notion that this was something I need to work on is so important for my professional development.

The conversation took us on to so many other topics that relates to how women are viewed by others in society, how the media portrays us and what we can do as women to help others succeed, starting for instance on how you educate your kids. In a way, things I am more familiar with discussing.

Overall, an awesome night with awesome powerful, educated, influential women whose ultimate goal is the same: succeed in their careers. I left wanting to know more about Lean In – Women, work and the will to lead, a book written by Sheryl Sanberg which is the main reason this meeting exists, and the Levo League, an international community to empower professional women that recently open up a Local office in Charlotte.

Love, naturally

There is a Brazilian popular song called “Deixa Acontecer [let it happen]”, by Revelação, that tells the story of a couple who is in different syncronies: the girl is madly in love with the guy, but he doesn’t feel the same way, so he asks her to let love happen naturally, to have patience and he promises he will overcome his fears of falling in love again with her help.

 

It may seem odd to write about a song who is not known by its poetic lyrics or by the music quality or innovation. It’s just a popular entertaining song, a huge success amongst Brazilians. Even if a Brazilian is not a fan of pagode or Revelação, there is a fair chance he or she can sing along the chorus without issues. It is catchy, oh so catchy!

Why write about it, then?

First of all, it has been on my mind since yesterday. It is stuck deep in there, so maybe it will help me forget it for a little bit. Again, catchy.

Another thing is: pedantic intellectuals would never, ever confess that sort of thing. Some people judge things exclusively according to their taste and to me this is just a waste of time, a narrow view that only reinforces what they know and like. I am not a fan of the band, or the genre for that matter, but why not give credit when its due? This song has a  very clear and contemporary message: let love happen naturally. And this is what draws me to it.

Scrolling down my facebook timeline the other day, I found a post from a very popular page called Humans of New York where a woman states that “If I feel like there’s a chance of losing someone, I’ll always try to be the one that backs out first”. If you are familiar with the page, you know they always post a picture of the person interviewed and a quote of their conversation.

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That quote stuck with me for a few days, then the song, and I felt like they had the same underlying topic: fear of relationships. It is something universal. Not to be cliche, but I am sure yesterday night at a bar somewhere two friends sat down between beers (or cosmopolitans, or caipirinhas, or martinis, or pisco sour, or merlot) and had a conversation about relationships. Maybe the guy was complaining the girl expected more than he could give, because he didn’t feel the same way. Maybe the girl was interpreting his distance as a sign that he would dump her, and she decided to break things up before getting so deep emotionally involved that she would surely get hurt. Maybe it was the other way around.

When did we become so afraid of love that we feel the need not to feel it? Or, at least, to believe that we don’t feel it. How many times after breaking up because she was too demanding or he was too sticky we come to realize that maybe we loved them all along?

When did we start putting up barriers to avoid being hurt and setting ourselves boundaries to contain our emotions?  When did we start thinking about relations strategically? Oh, if I send a text at 3 a.m saying I miss her she will misinterpret as a booty call and she will lose interest. Oh, its saturday afternoon and if I call him now to make plans for tonight I might seem too desperate. How much of life and love are we missing by taking the safer route?

Sometimes, I think we are getting it all wrong. We are letting our brain take control of things that are not measurable, touchable or reasonable. And, in the process, we lose our minds with all the variables, possibilities and interpretations we are drawn to consider before making any relationship decision. Why not let things flow more naturally? Why not follow our hearts? They are pure muscle, you know? Work it and they will only become stronger.In this sense, the song sets a good example. Yes, the guy says he is scared of falling in love, but he also asks her for help to love again and he implies that because of her help their love may grow and be eternal. Their love, not their relationship I must say. But he is willing to try, and that is all it takes. Lets it happen naturally.

My life as a Bildungsroman

Going back to work with journalism and public relations has been a self discovery journey. One that has taken me back to my roots in a way that I honestly wouldn’t think it would. It took me back to high school and pre-college school, while I was still choosing my profession. It took me back to the very root of my career, that one moment when I decided, against odds and advises, that I wanted to be a journalist. Why did I spend four years at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo, again? [side note: it may call itself a catholic school, but it certainly doesn’t fit the stereotype of a pristine, uptight, conservative school, quite the opposite actually]

It all started with my passion for writing, for literature, and my desire to know things first hand. During school, differently than most of my colleagues, I got more engaged with my scientific initiation study in applied linguistics. They were going after social movements, sociology, philosophy, geography. The thing we had in common was the desire to make the world a better place, each one following one path.

Personally, I think it is ironic that I would start working for a non-profit here in the US, coming from a third world country. But, as soon as I started working at IANTM, I got that deep magic feeling that maybe everything I did in my career was meant to bring me to the following conclusions:

  • journalism was never a passion per say or a career, but an education to get me somewhere further, to open my mind to new ideas;
  • writing is definitely a passion and maybe I needed to work for a publishing house to value all my linguistic knowledge and improve my writing skills to boost my confidence in my own life choices;
  • finally, I needed to work in other areas to experience stuff first hand and reassure myself that I had made the right decision back in the day when I was still an 18 year old student.

I just realized I am portraying myself like the main character in a Bildungsroman, that kind of novel that follows the personal growth of somebody, their paths toward self discovery and their seek for answers about life’s questions. A very empiric approach to life, I must say, because it relies on the fact that experience is the key. And I don’t mean anything by it, except for the fact that maybe I am an empiric person that needs to get her life lessons from experience, not books or blogs or lectures. Something that goes against what I always defended: literature may be the key to understand yourself, life, the cosmos, the universe, well, everything.

That was my friday morning, 7am epiphany. It ended there, and it’s ok. Coffee, black, please.