Heartache

Is love enough to sustain a relationship? Once upon a time in my naivety I would have said yes- but now, in the midst of love, lust, disappointment, and reality, I am unsure of where to go.

I am frozen in time with reality staring me in the face and a crossroads before me, I dare not choose the path, for what if I choose wrong? In whichever direction I choose, the unknown looms with promises of fairytale beginnings,  nightmarish endings, and the gamit of what lies in between. My fear anchors me to the ground, and without figuring out how to remove that anchor, I will barely be able to remain standing. Stuck in my yesterdays and forever looking forward.

I know not what to do. And I am so terrified I dare not even think of a choice. It seems the familiar has suddenly been revealed to be the unknown and I am drowing in selfish pity and a helpless notion that I broke what was fine, and now I am left with how to move forward pieces in hand.

I’m letting go of holding on too tightly. I’m letting go of the one thing I have desired all my life. I am letting go.

Take that Opportunity – It Will Change Your Life

Opportunities are like shooting stars – you need to pay attention to them when they cross your path because you never know when the next time one will come your way.

This week I had the opportunity to be the guest of Cox Business and Martin Jones at Social Media Marketing World. I have met with a variety of Social Media Experts and had have had great discussions about how I can better leverage my skills in this amazing space that is just beginning to ramp up.

Give yourself freedom to accept opportunities as they come your way – as Randi Zuckerberg said, “what’s the worst that could happen?” She took full advantage of the opportunity to work at Facebook (a small start-up at the time) amidst well-meaning neigh-sayers within her circle of trusted people.

The thing I am finally making the correlation between is opportunity – taking advantage of it and inspiration. Inspiration is a fleeting  commodity. To a writer, being truly inspired is the equivalent of finding the gold at the end of the rainbow. And without it we feel like a ghost town.

When we are weighed down by the business of this world, the constant hustle and bustle, moments of inspiration and the ability to act upon them are often as mysterious to us (writers) as is the Unicorn. Rainbows, pots of gold, unicorns – you must be thinking, “what in the world has she gotten into?” Trust me, I am always this way. Nothing new here. But a word of advice – take the opportunities (trusting your gut) because they will often change your life.

Jason Womack Book Your Best Just Got Better Work Smarter Think Bigger Make MoreOne of the best pieces of advice I have received this week came from my new friend Jason Womack. In his book Your Best Just Got Better – Work Smarter Think Bigger Make More got me thinking about the first step in creating purposeful change that will allow you to take full advantage of opportunities as they come – “You have to slow down to speed up”. We are all too often consumed by what we have to do that we often overwhelm our system and that makes us less productive. By slowing down we can reset our pace (he is a fan of running analogies) and strive toward the finish line without hitting a wall (just a quick plug for Jason – pick up his book – it will change your life. And if you ever see him – meet his eyes and say hello, it will be worth it)!

When inspiration strikes, within the context of opportunity seized, don’t be afraid to stop and indulge in the passion that arises from being inspired. I haven’t written in a long time because of the busyness of life. But I realize that it’s what I live on – it is what feeds the fire within me and propels me to the next opportunity and inspiration.

So, ask yourself, “what opportunities have crossed my path?” Take them – it will be an amazing journey!

Ovarian Cysts

The news rang through my ears and into my brain like a clanging cymbal.
“Ovarian Cyst”
I hardly heard anything else the doctor was saying, all the while trying to keep my composure. The last thing I wanted to do was start crying on the phone and be inaudible to a doctor who was only concerned with the fact that my kidney’s were fine.
I had gone in because a few weeks earlier I had become violently ill from what I believed to be food poisoning. I spent the better part of a night hunched over a toilet, holding my hair and watching my dinner pool at the bottom of the basin. The following morning I discovered my urine was the color of tea. This is not normal. I knew that.
It was also not normal to put on 30+ pounds in a year and no amount of exercise was helping. At the encouragement of my parents I decided to get checked out by a urologist. I was prepared for a kidney disease diagnosis. I was okay with that, after all, if it could explain and eventually solve the issues I had been having, I was on board.
The last thing I expected was an ovarian cyst. So many questions swirled in my mind. And then of course, the biggest pain of all was thinking that this was my punishment for the sin of my past. It was a long time argument that I have with myself. That God tries to tell me both in prayer and in his word- I am forgiven. He has forgiven me.
All the what if’s sprang to mind – what if I have an ovarian cyst. What if I lose that ovary. What if it is difficult to have children- if at all. One working ovary is enough to get pregnant, but with other issues will compound the problem. Not to mention, I am not getting any younger and my ability to have a successful, healthy pregnancy is dwindling.
I find myself even now smiling bright, hiding the hurt and pain within my heart and mind. Something I never anticipated being an issue is now called into question. You simply don’t realize what it means, how much you want it until it may no longer be a possibility.
As with any difficult medical determination, I sought a second opinion. My fears were soothed by an understanding gynecologist. She assured me that the cyst was nothing to be alarmed about. That, in fact, is was called a follicular cyst – apparently something common. While I still am apprehensive, her ease and knowledge and time she took to answer my questions and calm my fears has overwhelmingly put my mind to rest. And although we will do more tests and watch it to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary – for now I seem to be moving in a positive direction.

Innocence, Lost

Photo from MSN, AP photographer Kevin Clifford

Photo from MSN, AP photographer Kevin Clifford

“The unthinkable has happened again,” said the mother of Newtown victim. When will enough be enough? How many children (and adults) have to die before we are outraged to say, “Enough!”

Beyond asking and addressing the obvious questions of how did he get a gun and why did he do it, we should be going deeper and addressing the societal norms that have produced these kinds of circumstances. Although school shootings are not uncommon ((Click here to see a list of school shootings) twenty years ago, we never could have fathomed that something like this was possible; that anyone would turn their hatred and anger upon children. And yet, it seems the children are crying out in anger and hatred at a younger and younger age.

What has gone awry that the solution that comes to the mind of child, let alone an adult, is violence and murder? When will we address the family dysfunctions, lack of or inappropriate use of discipline and even further, absentee fathers who offer no structure or model for which young children learn.

When will we say no to violent video games and yes to family dinners.When will engage with our family and our children instead of the internet or the TV?  When will America finally look itself in the mirror and say that we need to change? And not turn to a government to decide for us by what ethical guidelines and restrictions or freedoms we need. When will right be right because it is right and not because it’s right for me right now? When will wrong be called out for what it is and not coddled and made excuses for?

Not until we, as individuals, decide that enough is enough and make right decisions for the sake of it being right, and choosing the future and hope and love for our children, rather than the hedonistic, self-focused individualism that has allowed a child to choose to pick up a gun, take it to school, and point it at another human being and cause immeasurable pain suffering and the end of another.

We are slowly digging our own graves and nailing the lid on our coffins when we refuse to teach our children right from wrong, tell them no, and follow through. When we are absent from their lives because we are too busy- whether it’s for selfish reasons or because we have been left to raise a child on our own.

When we remove the rose colored glasses of selfishness, individualism, and anything goes and take a long, deep look at the American Soul, we will be ashamed of what we see. We will be angered by what we see and not recognize the nation that we have become. Our inability to manage ourselves and the choice that “what ever I feel, I should do” has lead us to this place where our children are murdering other children. This is the American we have become. And telling the government that we need them to pass more laws and dictate our life is not the answer.

The answer lies in self reflection, in seeing what we have become for what it truly is and choosing life, love, and a hope for a better future. Choosing discipline and saying no. To having our children view us as “mean” parents rather than giving in to every whim and indulgence children may have. They will respect us for it and thank us for it.

Whatever the aftermath of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Newtown and the countless others, it is time we looked at ourselves to blame as a society. We may need to consider that we area ll to blame and are all responsible for picking up the pieces and choosing how we put them back together. We can continue to foster such behavior or we can make a choice to do something different. As for me? I don’t have kids yet, but to the children I do know – I will show them love, forgiveness, and boundaries. And when I do have children I will teach them love, respect, and kindness. Violence will not be tolerated and discipline will be used to teach and not to hurt. I can only do so much, but think what we could do as a society if we practiced such behaviors?!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

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Orchestrating Beauty

blue and lavender orchids

The Beauty God Orchestrates

In times of despair instead of asking God why we ought to lean in and say God I believe. He hears every prayer, every desperate plea for help; sees every tear and feels all of our heartache. He knows the fear and desperation, the loss of control and yet, when we press in and decide that trusting him is worth all costs he will truly orchestrate a symphony of beauty, peace, hope and future that we never could have imagined or planned ourselves. He loves us, he loves us, oh how he loves us!

The Journey of a Job Hunt

Hire me signIt has been a period of waiting. Waiting to sell my house. Waiting to hear if I got into graduate school. Waiting to start. Waiting to graduate. And waiting to land a job. And not just any job, but the one that would be the first step in my new career and down a new path.

When this journey started I never thought it would take seven long months to receive an offer letter for employment. Nor did I think I would have applied to more than 200 jobs, work with half a dozen recruiters, and only take a dozen or less interviews. Only 4 of which were really serious interviews.

After tears of disappointment, stress beyond belief, less money than I have ever had to support myself on and most importantly, not caving to take any job to wait for the job, I am pleased to say that it has all paid off. Next Monday to begin my new career with a company I am excited to be connected to. And as a bonus, I also got nearly everything I wanted.

What lessons did I learn in my journey? Here are just a few:

7 Lessons of Job Hunting

  1. Know exactly what you want – this will help you figure out your end goal and when you share you plans with others it will give them an idea of what you are looking for and may be able to provide better help. Also, it will help you narrow down your focus in the hunt. You can always broaden your search later, but be more specific in the beginning.
  2. Create a plan – it is imperative to plan your attack. First step is to have your resume in order, create a cover letter and then customize based on the job.  Keep a list of the companies you have applied to, the link to their job description, and the date you applied. I even color coded them based on where I was at in the process: black= sent in resume, blue= received a response, green= interview scheduled, and light grey= proceeded with other candidates.
  3. Don’t give up –  Remember that there are a ton of qualified candidates out there, so competition is tough. You will go on more interviews than you expect and be turned down for many more with no other reason than we went with more qualified candidates. By knowing what you want and relentlessly chasing it, in the end that perseverance will pay off. It really is just a matter of time.
  4. Say yes – go to every interview! Even if it isn’t quite what you had in mind. Practice makes perfect and the better you interview the better your chances (here are some tips to interview successfully). Besides, while a company may seem not like the right fit, after you get in there, it may be better than you anticipated. And the opposite is true too – your ideal company may turn out to be not what you expected.
  5. Know your boundaries  – make sure you make a list of what your priorities are. For example, is insurance coverage a necessity or are covered under another plan? Is a certain amount of PTO important? What about flexible work environment – work at the office vs. work from home? What is the lowest pay that you are willing to accept – it may be lower than you think? Is travel a consideration? Make a list of everything you want in a new position and company, and then mark which of those are make or break.
  6. Prepare, prepare, prepare – No matter how much you know, the more you prepare for the interview, research the company, stay up-to-date on job search trends and useful tools, the better off you will be. Most importantly, if you can speak knowledgeably about the company both in your cover letter and in the interview, you will make a good impression on the interviewer. Which, sometimes weighs more than actual experience.
  7. Confidence is key – be able to speak confidently and knowledgeably about the what you can do (communicating clearly is key). Don’t assure them that you are able to do something you can’t. Be prepared to show a portfolio or examples of what you are capable of. They are interviewing as much with you as you are with them.

All in all, know what you want and don’t settle. However, you must be mindful of your abilities and experience. Sometimes what you want is a few steps up the ladder. Be willing to take a job that can lead to your dream, but don’t settle for something just because you need it. Between leaving a job I had been monetarily comfortable with and skilled at, taking out loans, and eventually having to apply for unemployment – I did not lose sight of what I wanted despite the bleak circumstances. Now I have everything I set out to achieve.

The Art of Social Media Engagement, 10 Tips For A Tailored Strategy!

Katy Kelly:

Social Media Marketing and cultivating an effective strategy is not a simple process. It requires time and effort. This article discusses the art of engagement. And it really is an art!

Originally posted on KnoGimmicks.com™:

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The Problem

You have been blogging for six months professionally, your website has been fully optimized and you have established a social media presence with several hundred connections, but you are still not getting the engagement. You have been on Linkedin and other social media sites on the job hunt, your Linkedin profile is complete, you have join as many groups as possible, but the hiring managers are not biting. Your business is not making the social media conversions or ROI that it expects, you are Dead In The Water as far as your social media engagement is concerned and your social media analysis is just not adding up. If you are in either one of these situations, then I have the solution for you. It is simple and obvious, but very few of us actually perform the necessary action to find success.

The Solution

The solution is…

View original 822 more words

5 Things to do Before Receiving a Service

french-manicure-nail-salonWhat do you do when you have a service done and you don’t get what you requested?

(Take the poll located at the bottom of this page)

If you’re like me, you ask a question or two, hoping they get the message, but don’t really rock the boat because you don’t want to upset the person giving the service. Now, I’m sure you are saying to yourself I got what I deserved because I didn’t speak up. And to some extent I agree with you. But the question remains how do you say something without offending the provider.

I’m sure many of you have seen or heard of someone who did speak up and was recipient of some horrific retaliation. The last thing I want to do is make a scene or offend anyone.

This morning I decided to pop over to a local nail salon to have my nails done. They received good reviews on Yelp so I felt comfortable going to a place I had not been to before. When I mentioned that I wanted pink and white gel and then asked for the price – I was quoted an amount. I said okay and sat down with the lady and upon inspection she said, “these aren’t acrylic.”

I proceeded to tell her that they were pink and white gel and that is what I wanted, the ones that come in the little pot and you put on in layers with a brush, not the polish. After a little more discussion between her and the other tech’s I began to wonder if they knew what I wanted, so I asked if she was familiar with what I wanted. She said, oh yes, we do them all the time, I just needed to know the price.

20130701-145838.jpg

By the time all was said and done she had done a gel base and the gel polish white tip and top coat. As I was watching her do it I knew I wasn’t going to get what I asked for. But at the point, when she had already done 3/4 of the job, what was I to do? At the end, I asked her about the polish vs. the white gel. She described what I had been talking about and said that they don’t do that there. WHAT?! Why wasn’t that told to me in the first place?

 
While my nails look alright (you can see the line from the previous set and the new; and the white looks like polish and isn’t crisp and she left a hang nail she created) the bottom line is I didn’t get what I wanted and I know in a few days this gel polish will chip.

 

In the future, I need to be very specific about what I want and ask to see the product before I start.

5 things to do before receiving a service:

  1. Be specific – make sure your definition of what you are requesting and what they offer are the same.
  2. Ask questions – the only way to make sure you and the other party are on the same page is to ask questions
  3. Request a sample – ask to see a sample of their work. Many times they are happy to show you what they are capable of.
  4. Ask for a quote up front – if you have done your research, then you should have an idea of what you are asking for should cost. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
  5. Don’t be afraid to walk away – if you aren’t sure that what they offer is what you are looking for, it’s okay to say no thank you and leave. However, if you have agreed to what they are offering and they have provided the service, you are obligated to follow through. If you aren’t clear or don’t ask questions, you can’t expect them to read your mind.

 

Experiencing Death

Mis Me PoemThis past week has been a difficult week. Several friends have endured pain, suffering, heartbreak, and tragedy. My best friend lost her mother this week and I have no words for her. I do not know what to say to comfort her, to help her mourn and heal. Telling her that it’s going to be okay seems less than sufficient. “I love you” and “I’m here for you,” is all I can bear to mutter. Being more than 400 miles away makes a hug impossible and  I cry for her because, despite hoping for a recovery and preparing for her passing, her mom is gone – and we all need our moms.

And then selfishly, I consider my own mother. How I would miss her. How much I imagine my friend misses her mom and all the things she won’t be able to experience with her daughter. And again, words leave me and I have no words of comfort for my friend.

The death of a loved one is always sad, not because they have died – for they are in a better place, but because we will miss them. Our hearts have a whole just their size and we will miss them immensely. Our lives have faded a little bit now that they have left and we are here, left to move forward. mom and daughter

Some people more easily detach and move forward with an almost apathetic view on death. Others stay in the mourning stage the rest of their lives, never quite able to move beyond the sadness. For me and most people we are somewhere in between. We mourn, and then in the weeks after begin to cry a little less, find ourselves smiling and then try to cover it up because it seems inappropriate, and eventually, life has moved on with only our memories that keep them alive. However we mourn, it is imperative for us to remember them, but to pursue happiness, love, and hope once more.

Death is so final. And yet, freedom for so many. Experiencing loss is more difficult for those that remain behind than it is for the one that leaves. It is a reminder of our own mortality and what the culmination of our life will lead to. It is true what they say: “The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.”

What can we do for those like my best friend? Be there.  Words aren’t always necessary and sometimes too much. A hug, a meal, helping to go through the possessions of loved ones. They may say they are okay, that they don’t need anything. That’s not true – they need you.

Gossip: Recognizing & Repairing Relationships

Gossip is a nasty business. It is certainly not for the faint of heart and is even difficult for those who are strong. Gossip has existed forever – people can’t help but talk about people. And while the initial reaction of gossip is fun, seemingly innocent and even exhilarating for some,  it’s consequences are detrimental in the long run.

The minimal effects are merely distrust among friends/ co-workers, or family. The worst case is loss of friendship, being fired, or a family destroyed, and then some. Gossip, even if unintentional has victims and benefits no one.Gossip Graphic

“Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks…”

So by this we know that, in general, a persons true character will be revealed. But what about when you speak with innocent intentions and it becomes construed into something it was not intended? How is this resolved? Will addressing the issue make it worse? Will ignoring it?

Repairing the Damaged Relationship:

The best advice to resolve the issue requires humility – something that is a learned action and rarely is inherent. You must go to the person hurt and ask for forgiveness, tell them what was said was not meant to be hurtful or even as gossip, and commit to speaking more carefully in the future.

Without a direct conversation with the person you hurt, this issue will go unresolved. If repairing the relationship and your reputation is important this is the only course of action. If a direct conversation is impossible (the person has passed away or has moved on and cannot be found) then going to those you gossiped with and asking their forgiveness for your actions and speech is necessary. This step should be followed regardless.

Beyond both of those steps, committing to paying better attention to what you say in the future will be key to avoiding this situation.

How to decide what to say:

HumilityQuotes

The best advice, however, is to heed the advice of saying only what is showing love, sharing joy, promoting peace, extending patience and forgiveness, speaking kindness and goodness, being faithful to relationships, being gentle in confrontation and showing self-control with my words and facial expressions. In other words, if I do not have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

3 Reasons to be on Social Media

Social Media Meme courtesy of seomoz.org

Social Media Meme courtesy of seomoz.org

Social media marketing is more than playing on Facebook and pinning to Pinterest. It requires thought, strategy, hard work and commitment. But, before you can develop a strategy, you have to be present on social media.  Whether you are already a believer or not, social media marketing is the future. It will be essential for conducting business.

Social media marketing is an important part of your marketing, customer service, and community presence. It is more than having one or several social media accounts. Participation within those sites is key to making it successful. It takes commitment and work in order to develop your brand on line.

So getting on board early, rather than later, will give you an advantage over your competition, establish your company as an industry leader, and prepare you for the evolving technologies, tools, and best practices.

Here are 3 reasons for you to jump on social media & develop a strategy:
  • Competitive Advantage – we all want it. We all need it. Social media marketing provides an innovative way to introduce your brand and what you offer to a geographically limitless community. Anyone who is interested in what you offer can seek you out. But, you have to be able to be found and the only way to do that is to be part of the social media world. Simply having a Facebook page, a website, a Twitter account or Pinterest page isn’t enough. Being present is a good start but in order to have the advantage, participation is key. Think of it as a cocktail party. Showing up is the first step, but you have to mingle, start a few conversations, listen, respond and be willing to collaborate. It is a delicate balance and one that has no secret formula. But, the more you do it, the better you get. If you want to have an advantage over your competition, and who doesn’t, then having a social media marketing strategy is key.

“Think of [social media] as a cocktail party.”

  • Leadership -it is imperative. When your current or potential customers are seeking you out they want the answer to one question: why should I choose you? If you have established yourself as a leader, an innovator, understanding not only your product, but what your customers/ community wants in your product then you will be able to cater to them on a personal level. Being on social media in the places your customers already are and participating in the conversations that are already happening around your product, brand, industry will help to establish your leadership in the industry. The willingness to be present in the online social world is just the first step. Providing relative content, listening and not just lurking in the social world, and providing opportunities for your community to get involved with your company will enforce your leadership role.
  • Technology – some love it, some abhor it. Despite your feelings toward technology and social media tools, if you aren’t active and up to date on the trends and tools, you will be left behind. It is clear that the social media world is not a fad. It is not going away. It is increasingly becoming an integral role in successful businesses. Without this medium for marketing, listening, and responding to your customers/ community, you will eventually be so far behind the curve you will become obsolete and the potential to harness this avenue for customer/community interaction will likely be unavailable or unattainable.

Here is an infographic by Mediabistro.com about social media statistics:

This infographic is courtesy of mediabistro.com

This infographic is courtesy of mediabistro.com

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