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Can We Retire the Handshake?

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What do Donald Trump and I have in common? Obviously not our tresses. Nor our real estate.

We both dread shaking hands, avoiding the custom if at all possible.

"I think that the only thing better than a good handshake is no handshake at all," affirms The Donald. And I couldn't agree more.

With flu and cold season right around the corner, can't we retire this archaic Western world habit? Hands are dirty - they're literally a cornucopia of nasty germs, picked up from door handles, computer keyboards, covering our mouth when we cough or our nose when we sneeze, rubbing our eyes or whatever. Plus those who should know better put aside common sense in favor of the outstretched hand.

Visit a doctor who sees sick patients throughout the day and the initial greeting is almost guaranteed to be a handshake. And look at how many times a day we handle money - cab fares, cash stations, fast food, parking meters...all of which are breeding grounds for germs.

In business, a handshake is SOP - standard operating procedure. To avoid an outstretched hand in corporate America is so not politically correct. Yet research shows that a good percentage of men (supposedly one in three in Chicago) don't wash their hands after a visit to the men's room urinal. They shake themselves, then shake us. I don't want to!

But I also know I have to and there's no plausible excuse. Weak ones - and I've used them all - include "I just put hand cream on." "I'm getting over a cold." "Just caught a fly with my hand." "Nail polish is still drying." One subtle attempt to avoid a shake usually does work, but only in our offices - water glass in one hand, pen/paper in the other.

Bottom line: I'm not some germaphobic, but there's probably a reason I haven't had a cold within the last five years.

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Sherren Leigh Morphs Into a Blogger!

Why is time-challenged me taking on another responsibility - this time creating a weekly blog?

For starters, Chris Ruys is one persuasive woman. She blogs for TCW and somehow talked me into it last week.

I'm going to write about whatever's on my mind, but, at times, not really what I'm thinking since I do have an image to uphold.

"Sher the Founder's Blog" says nothing and says it all. Sometimes it'll be irreverent; other times funny or hopefully thought-provoking.

If it disappears one day, you'll know blogging wasn't fun for me anymore. I'll welcome your comments and expect them to be as brutally honest as many know I can be.

Your Summer Beach Reading List

After what feels like a forever of waiting, summer, in all of its sun-soaked, sweaty glory, is here. In Chicago, there's only one place to head when the heat index just won't stop rising: the beach. And next to your beach blanket, SPF and sunglasses, there's one thing without which any lake-bound tote would be incomplete. I'm speaking, of course, of the summer beach read.

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Sex and the City and the Body Snarking

Sex and the city 2 press conference in Japan

I'll admit I've had fun, over the last few weeks, reading the rake-it-over-the-coals reviews of Sex and the City 2. I certainly haven't suffered for lack of options. The critics, once they universally decided that the movie was worthy of their derision, embarked on a contest of one-upmanship for who could come with the cleverest insult puns. Sure, they were entertaining. And as someone who loved the series, hated the first movie and is a little sickened by the idea of the second film, I enjoyed reading them. But as I read, I discovered a pattern. Critiquing a film for its flaws is one thing. But when did the reviews get so....personal? 

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Apparently not all mini vans are created equal

You can see how much your life has changed based on the type of car you are driving.

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Is Mika Brzezinski's "All Things At Once" a progressive look at work/family balance...or upholding the status quo?

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Recently, I interviewed Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC anchor and co-anchor of "Morning Joe," for TCW's May issue. Given that the title of her memoir we were discussing was All Things at Once, a ode to the challenges and rewards of pursing both a demanding career and motherhood--and learning to be okay with the reality that, sometimes, children would take a momentary backseat to work--I was expecting a rather progressive discussion. And while it was, at times, for most of the interview Mika seemed reluctant to fully embrace her thesis.
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CARE National Conference: Hitting the Hill

"If I could go to the poorest country on earth and ask only one question to see if they have a chance, it would be this: 'How do you treat your women?'" 

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Reporting Live from the CARE National Conference: Part 2

 

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Hillary Clinton speaks to the CARE audience

It's the end of Day 1 of my adventure covering and attending the CARE National Conference. If you've been following my Tweets, you know it's been a whirlwind day. I've learned a lot about maternal mortality, childhood marriage, food stability and other issues surrounding global poverty (and have the two notebooks worth of notes to prove it), so for now, I wanted to share a few glimpses of the day:

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Reporting Live from the CARE National Conference!

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles as she speaks at a news conference during the informal NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Tallinn
Later today, I'll be leaving on a jet plane for Washington, DC to attend the CARE National Conference.* If you've read this, this or this, you know I'm a big fan of CARE and the work they do to empower women and eliminate poverty around the world. I'm looking forward to having my mind and eyes opened at the conference, and invite you to follow along with me.

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The "Moral Challenge of the Century": Sheryl WuDunn Talks About "Half the Sky"

''Half The Sky'' Book Party Sponsored by Reader's Digest and C.A.R.E.
I've written here before about the excellent book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by wife-and-husband duo Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof. If you haven't read the book, I'll just say: read it. Now. I promise it will be one of the most eye-opening books you will ever read.

As a huge fan of the book, I jumped at the opportunity to speak with Sheryl when she spoke last month at Loyola University Chicago's Lakeshore campus. The fact that I interviewed her in the building adjacent to my freshman year college dorm--where I first decided to study political science and women's studies alongside journalism--was just a coincidence, but a wonderful "full circle" moment nonetheless. 
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Why Yes, We Did Get a Makeover (AKA, Why Am I Not Receiving My TCW RSS Feeds?)

Monster Makeover

Loyal readers of our Today's Chicago Woman blogs here on ChicagoNow may have noticed things are looking a little different. And, as more than a few have pointed out to me, we're not coming into your inbox as often as we used to. That's because, though only a few months old, our blog team has been expanding rapidly, and we decided it was time for a little facelift. 
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Words of Wisdom from Mellody Hobson

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Mellody Hobson


I just got back from the annual Young Women's Leadership Charter School's Girl Power luncheon and find myself, as per usual whenever I interact with this school, feeling so uplifted. Part of that was from the amazing public speaking skills of the young students at the school; part of it was from their incredible success rate (100% of the class of 2010 will graduate, and 89% are headed to college); and part of it was from a fantastic speech delivered by Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson. Mellody's speech centered around quotes that have inspired her throughout her career, and I found them so insightful that I couldn't resist sharing them. 


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Twice As Nice: Two New Bloggers Join TCW!


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Not one, but two!

It's a double-whammy, folks: Today we're welcoming bloggers Susan Carr-Templeton and Erin Carpenter to the Today's Chicago Woman team. And I'm pleased as punch to have them! 

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CARE President Dr. Helene Gayle Updates TCW on Women in Haiti

Helene Gayle meets a girl selling groceries at the spontaneous IDP camp at Place St. Pierre, Petionville.

Back in January, I wrote about the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, and the importance of helping women and children in such crisis situations. In early March, I had the chance to speak with Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE, an international poverty-fighting organization that has been working in Haiti for decades and was among the first on the scene after the earthquake. Dr. Gayle was on the ground in Haiti at the time of our scheduled interview, a fact that, while informing our conversation, presented a logistical difficulty: cell phone reception is spotty at best there, and so it took a few hours, and emails and phone calls between a combo of people here and in Haiti, for us to even make contact. Once we did, though, I found her insight both sobering and hopeful.

Click through to read my Q&A with Dr. Gayle about the continuing situation in Haiti, as well as view a slideshow of CARE's work post-earthquake (all photos and captions courtesy CARE).

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