Functional Coziness at Casa Bella Sera

Casa Bella Sera

Casa Bella Sera

My greeting at Casa Bella Sera

My greeting at Casa Bella Sera

I had the pleasure of staying at Casa Bella Sera in Temecula a few days ago. It’s a home stay which means it’s like a bed and breakfast, but you’re responsible for your own breakfast. They have a Keurig and they put out fruit and breads, but it’s up to you to make your own meal. John and Valerie started renting out their rooms on Airbnb but then took it to the next level.

The house is in a delightfully quiet and lush neighborhood filled with little parks. As I arrived at the front door, I was greeted by Coco, a little fluff off a dog that keeps her bangs tied out of out her eyes with a bow. She’s so sweet.

My room at Casa Bella Sera and Coco

My room at Casa Bella Sera and Coco

John and Valerie rent out two bedrooms in their home, each with a private bathroom. My room came with a queen bed, a TV, and had French doors that led to a little table and chairs in the backyard – perfect for morning writing. My room also had a little fold down desk which made my aspiring minimalist heart melt. My room had charming decorations – I loved the architectural prints in the room. Everything in the home was so warm and inviting, cozy without being cluttered.

My bed was super comfortable – probably one of the bed night’s sleep I will have on The Undeniable Tour. The blanket was as velvet soft as my basset’s ears and the bed had 4 pillows – each with a different level of thickness to accommodate all sleepers. I usually have trouble falling asleep in new places but I was out like a light. Here’s what I looked like after a night at Casa Bella Sera:

My inner nerd loved the front door key they gave me for my stay. It doesn’t look like a traditional key – it’s more like car keys that you don’t have to put in the ignition. All I had to do was put the key in my pocket and tap the door knob to lock or unlock it. It’s a brilliant idea – keeps guests from making a copy.

Many times I feel like I’m a bad house guest. I often feel like I’m intruding, but I never felt that way at Casa Bella Sera. The guest rooms are in their own wing so I felt like I had space to work and write as I wanted. John and Valerie are the perfect hosts – you’re welcome to chat with them and get recommendations about the area, or not. They seemed happy to have company and left guests to their own devices.

I feel lucky that I got to spend a night at Casa Bella Sera. If you’re looking for a place to stay in the Temecula area, I highly recommend staying with them.

The Undeniable Tour wouldn’t be possible without my awesome sponsors.

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For full disclosure, I got to spend the night at Casa Bella Sera in exchange for writing this post. (Always happy to sing for my supper.)

The Undeniable Tour Day 3 – 1 Blue String

1 Blue StringWhen I realized I was going to be in the vicinity of 1in6, I knew I had to meet with them while I was in southern California. I was so happy to meet with Martha Marin in Pasadena today.

1in6 is an organization dedicated to bringing awareness and providing resources for male survivors of sexual abuse. Many people don’t know that 1 in 6 men have an unwanted sexual experience before age 18. There is a tremendous amount of shame and questions related to masculinity and sexual orientation for these men.

I got to sit down with Martha today and hear more about 1in6. The organization was started over 10 years ago, but they’ve become more well-known through social media in the last year. They definitely serve an under-served population. I was shocked when Martha told me that most men wait 40 years from when they were victimized to when they make their first disclosure. That’s crazy! And for many men, there aren’t services available to them. I’m pleased that 1in6 is validating these men’s experiences, raising awareness, and working with schools, the military, and other organizations to provide much needed training and resources.

1in6 has a campaign called 1 Blue String that I absolutely love. They are raising awareness about the prevalence male childhood sexual abuse by asking musicians to put a blue guitar string on their guitars. It’s an absolutely brilliant idea. When I met with Martha, she gave me my own blue guitar string and some 1 Blue String guitar picks. It made me want to learn how to play guitar in part so I could join the movement (plus it would be awesome to know how to play). If you’re a musician, please join the movement.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month so it’s a great time to follow 1in6 and other organizations that provide awareness and support for sexual assault survivors. I was very impressed by 1in6 because of their dedication to providing competent support and clinically sound information. I’m pleased that I had a chance to get to know this organization better as part of my trip.

The Undeniable Tour wouldn’t be possible without my awesome sponsors!

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The Undeniable Tour Day 2 – Making You Work for You

University of La Verne Law School

University of La Verne Law School

Today was my first speaking gig of The Undeniable Tour at University of La Verne Law School. I had a full room of students who were engaged and it was awesome to see that so many of them were interested in starting their own firm.

Speaking to these students reminded me of my bizarre professional journey – I didn’t have a traditional path to follow. I just kept doing what made sense at the time and so far it’s working out. It’s was great to talk with them about how there’s more than one way to be a lawyer and I also told them about the Rule of Two Feet.

One thing I’ve learned in my professional career is that the biggest limits I have are the ones I put on myself. It’s a lot of hard to work to work outside the traditional framework of what it means to be a lawyer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be involved in blogs, vlogs, podcasts, writing, speaking, or creating a special niche for yourself. A lot of times it’s a matter of deciding what you want to do, learning how to do it, and committing to making it happen.

There have been many times this trip already that I’ve found myself repeating Tim Gunn’s trademark line “Make it work.”

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without my awesome sponsors!

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The Undeniable Tour Day 1: The Importance of Happiness

Visiting the Law Offices of Jacob Sapochnick

Visiting the Law Offices of Jacob Sapochnick

Day 1 of The Undeniable Tour is in the books. I flew in to San Diego, got my rental car which I’m loving calling the Maven Mobile after my Concierge Sponsor Web3Mavens, and drove to Temecula for the night. I had to visit two incredible people before I headed north: Katy Goshtasbi and Jacob Sapochnick.

Selfie with Katy Goshtasbi

Selfie with Katy Goshtasbi

Katy is a former lawyer who is now a personal branding coach, consultant, and speaker. Her book, Personal Branding in One Hour for Lawyers, is an American Bar Association best-seller. I met Katy when she gave a talk at ASU Law School when I was a 3L. She offered a free consult to the first three students to approach her when she was done and I climbed over the tables to get to her.

Katy and I met for lunch and we talked about how we’ve both discovered how important it is to have work that is fulfilling and makes us happy.  There are so many miserable, stressed, overworked lawyers in the business and it’s sad to see that they don’t know that there are other ways to practice law. It will always be challenging, but that doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy in the process. If you’re unhappy, your potential clients are going to see that and they won’t want to hire you.

Me and Jacob Sapochnick

Me and Jacob Sapochnick

Before I headed to Temecula, I stopped by the Law Offices of Jacob Sapochnick. Jacob is the creator and host of the Enchanting Lawyer podcast, which is also a sponsor of the tour. I had the pleasure of being a guest on the show last year and I’m so glad I finally got to meet him in person. Jacob has a very strong practice, without needing to be there all the time. He’s found a way to train and empower his staff in such a way that they want to work their asses off to take care of clients and he’s able to take a 2-month vacation every year and the firm will keep running in his absence. It seems like he has a remarkable team.

One of the things I love about Jacob is that he embodies the idea that every company needs to be a media company. (Hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk.) He practices immigration law but a lot of the content he puts out isn’t related to immigration. It’s related to building a community. He puts out quality material and leverages his podcast to meet people he couldn’t otherwise have a conversation with that he’s put himself into a position where he will be top of mind when people need his services.

In reflecting on my discussions with Katy and Jacob, the running theme in both conversations is the importance of creating a lifestyle that incorporates your career and your other priorities. If you are miserable in your career, you’re doing something wrong. There are other ways to be successful in the legal industry.

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without my awesome sponsors!

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Less Than a Week ‘Til The Undeniable Tour Starts!

Footprints by marcelometal from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Footprints by marcelometal from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

It’s hard to believe that The Undeniable Tour, a project I’ve been working on for over 6 months, is almost here. I’m excited to see all the planning come to fruition.

My life feels exceptionally hectic right now because I’m trying to tie up as many loose ends as I can before this trip begins and also trying to get as many things set in my schedule during my trip. There are so many things I hope to see an experience and people I hope to meet with during The Undeniable Tour.

I will be blogging and tweeting throughout the trip and also shooting video along the way. My friend recently reminded me to make sure I get plenty of “B roll” footage and he suggested I keep a notebook where I write down what all the footage is because by the end of two weeks I  may not remember what certain clips are.

On the logistical front, things have been busy. Things with my house sitter didn’t work out so I will have to put Rosie in the kennel while I’m away – which is probably a good thing given the number of medication she is on right now for glaucoma. I’ve also been thinking about what I need to take with me, because as an aspiring minimalist, I only want to take things that I will need it, use, and will add value to the experience.

Web3Mavens Logo

I am excited to announce my final to sponsors for The Undeniable Tour: Web3Mavens and the Enchanting Lawyer podcast. Web3Mavens is a software developer and technical consultant that provides services to many members of the legal community. Enchanting Lawyer is a podcast hosted by Jacob Sapochnick that helps lawyers get clients, build a profitable practice, and have work/life balance. I had the pleasure of being a guest on the show last year.

Enchanting Lawyer Podcast logo

Right now my life feels very busy as I’m trying to get ready for this trip and I suspect that my stress level will go down significantly once I get on the road because I won’t be planning the trip anymore, I will just to be on the trip, and able to be more “in the moment.” Here are all of the places I will be speaking during The Undeniable Tour: University of La Verne, Santa Clara University, Bar Association of San Francisco, Lewis and Clark, and the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association. Between each of the stops, I will be trying to meet with as many movers and shakers in the legal and social media communities on the west coast as I can. If you are or know someone I should meet along the way, please let me know!

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without Web3Mavens, Enchanting Lawyer, and my other sponsors.

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The Undeniable Tour Update – So Much To Do, So Little Time!

I can't wait to see the sea lions at Fisherman's Wharf! Give him some lovin' by Prayitno from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I can’t wait to see the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf! Give him some lovin’ by Prayitno from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Holy crap! The Undeniable Tour is less than two weeks away! I feel like all the big pieces of this trip have been taken care of (speaking gigs, airline tickets, rental car, lodging, dog sitter, etc.) and now I feel like I am a little overwhelmed with all the little details that go into planning such a big trip. I want to make the most of this adventure both for my audience and for myself (professionally and personally), so I am trying to figure out how many people and what awesome things I can see and do between my speaking engagements.

I will admit I am a bit neurotic and I generally thrive when my life has structure, so now I am trying to plan out what I will be doing each day and determine how many friends I will be able to see during my down time. My prediction is I will have a full itinerary of meetings and fun.

I am also trying to make sure that everything is shipshape on the home front before I leave town. I found an amazing pair of Canadian snowbirds to be my house and dog sitters, and because I am an over-prepared dork, I am creating a manual for them information about taking care of my home, caring for my dog, and fun things to do in my city. One of the benefits of staying with locals is you get to learn about all the awesome things in a city that a typical tourist would not know about. I am treating my house sitters like they are my guests and I want to make the most of their experience.

Even though I am a minimalist, I decided I wanted a memento from The Undeniable Tour, so I bought a wooden arrow at the craft store, painted it metallic green, and I am going to ask many of the people I meet with during this trip to sign it. One of the take away messages of The Undeniable Tour is, “Keep moving forward.” This arrow will be a physical embodiment of that message and the people I will asked to sign it are movers and shakers in the legal and social media worlds who exemplify it in their work.

On top of all this, I am trying to get through as much open client work as I can before I leave town so that there is not much that I have to do for them while I am on the road. I will be checking my emails and messages, and I can always find a coffee shop or co-working space if I need to work on a project for a client, but I prefer to “clear the decks” as much as possible when I am going to be out of the office for more than a few days.

If you are interested in connecting with me while I am traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

The Undeniable Tour would not be possible without my awesome sponsors!

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The Undeniable Tour Update – First Sponsors Announced

Redwood Dawn by Rob Shenk from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I can’t wait to see these trees! Redwood Dawn by Rob Shenk from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I have been working on The Undeniable Tour since July 2014, shortly after I finished reading Jason Zook’s book Creativity for Sale. It’s hard to believe that it’s happening in only a few weeks!

Total Networks LogoI’m happy to announce two of my “Fan” Level Sponsors for the Tour: Total Networks and Attorney at Work. I’ve known both of these companies for a long time and I’m so excited that they were among the first to jump on AAW Logoboard to support the tour. Total Networks provides IT services to businesses (including many Arizona law firms) and they are the “only business in Arizona to have achieved the CompTIA Security Trustmark, a respected industry accreditation certifying that the business meets or exceeds the best practices in critical areas such as data protection, personnel security, and access management.” Attorney at Work is a law practice management website that releases new content every weekday by leaders in the legal industry and they have awesome downloadable bonus material. I write a monthly column for them where they encourage me to rant way too much.

In other tour news, I’m building out my travel schedule. I booked all my lodging except for one night – there aren’t any hostels at the California/Oregon border and there aren’t that many people on couchsurfing.com so I may actually have to by a hotel room for one night of this adventure. I finally booked my rental car and I was shocked that the fees were twice as much as the rental itself. Why did they do that? I hope some of the fees are for optional bells and whistles that I can decline. There are quite a few legal and social media movers and shakers on the west coast that I want to see so I’m trying to get as many of them on my calendar as I can and fill the remaining time with random fun adventures and seeing my friends. It’s going to be a busy trip. (I’m working on a post for The Undeniable Ruth comparing what it’s like to stay in a hostel versus a hotel – at least in my limited experience.)

I need to make a correction from last week’s blog post where I talked about the tour stop I will be doing via webinar for the Washington State Bar Association. We had a miscommunication about the date of my talk so I will not be doing it until the end of May. That got me thinking – I can only bring The Undeniable Tour talk to places in-person if somebody is footing the bill, but I can do a webinar from any place with and internet connection. So if you are interested in having The Undeniable Tour talk presented to your bar association or legal group via webinar once I’m back from my speaking tour, let me know. I won’t charge you as long as you don’t charge your members to attend.

If you’re interested in connecting with me while I’m traveling please follow me on Twitter. If you have any questions or comments about The Undeniable Tour, please shoot me an email.

Using Google Image Search to Detect Copyright Infringement

Google Image SearchI heard you can input a picture into the Google Images search engine to see if someone has stolen or used one of your pictures without your consent. I decided to try to figure it out to see if it works.

I’m happy to report it’s super easy. Here’s how you do it.

  1. Go to the Google Images search page.
  2. Click on the camera icon on the far right of the search bar. This will bring up the “search by image” box.
  3. Paste the URL for the image you want to search for or upload it and hit “Search.”
  4. The results will show you every instance where someone has used that photo.
My paintball wound - Photo by Merlz Tamondong

My paintball wound – Photo by Merlz Tamondong

I started looking for images I’ve used on The Undeniable Ruth and I found an instance where someone pulled an image off my site without my permission. It’s a picture of me from Ladies’ Paintball Night. Someone put it on a paintball forum without asking me first. Even though this is a picture of me, I don’t own the copyright in it so there’s nothing I can do to get it removed, and to be honest, I don’t really care.

This search engine is one tool you can use to search for copyright infringement, but it won’t catch every copy of your photos, just the copies of the photos from your site. I know this picture of my dog Rosie is on my site and I shared it with Attorney at Work for a post I wrote for them. I didn’t give them a copy of the image off my site, so when I searched for this picture of Rosie, it only showed images from my site, not theirs.

My sweet Rosie dog

My sweet Rosie dog

If you’re worried about people stealing your work from your site, keep an eye on your analytics. A lot of people think it’s ok to use an image off your site as long as they give an attribution and a link to the source. All they may have done is committed copyright infringement and told you about it. I’ve discovered two instances of copyright infringement of my work this way.

If you create any type of content and you’re concerned about copyright infringement, please consult a copyright attorney in your community who can help you create and implement a strategy to protect your work.

For more information about copyright, please check out my book The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed.
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