Archive | June, 2016

Goal-Ready Friends Need Only Apply

10 Jun

I wrote for an essay contest.  Do people still do these things?

I have to give it up to the, this is one of the easiest ways to farm out the grunt work of finding the creative and nuanced ways to rethink careers, advice, and another Top 10 List.  Why do it yourself if you have millions of followers?

Hello?  Hive mind, tell me my fortune. They’re not wrong.  Let me have your expertise.  I can try it on for size, implement, and revise.

I love theMuse and other searing websites, like GetBullish because they remind me that we all have a lot to learn from one another and that my attitude issues, are just a symptom poor perspective.  If you haven’t notice, I’m devouring the heartland at a scorching rate.  

I’m building an empire of side projects, like essays for fun.


Career advising is a part of my job description these days, not because I was expertly trained in workforce development or because I can nail anyone’s leadership style in less than five seconds, but because my hobby kept finding its way into conversations on the job. And not just water cooler chatter, real, genuine conversation about choice, passions, and the pains of personal discernment.

I left one of largest cities, flooded with young blood and brimming with the energy for change, from one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S. where political and pop culture icons regularly graced our halls, and diverged from a litany of friendships…for a position in rural Iowa.  For the chance to build my side project into effective change.

It seems crazy to walk away from the allure of what may have been my success. Ten years ago, I would have told you this was all that I wanted. And it was. I had dreamed up this idea of my life and created it—the American dream in true Millennial form.

I’m not sure there is any way to learn this fully without the experience. What I would share with my younger self may not have made a difference.  It may not have even made it across my threshold of awareness for such a stubborn, determined girl.  But I would hope she could see these headlines.Good job


Unemployment is the gift of agency.

The anxiety of unemployment can set anyone up to jump at the first good thing. Some folks are lucky enough to be able to pass up a mediocre position or two (that’s called privilege) before settling in for something really engaging. I struggled with waiting to hear back from employers, and my fierce survival instinct kept me hunting for jobs late into the night. It was hard to keep my emotions tempered and not let the mounting feelings of desperation pour out during phone interviews.

It was months into a new position before I had a moment to reflect. Unemployment had been one of the healthiest breaks in my life. For perhaps the first time, I set my own agenda, made my own food, and kept a regular weekly schedule.  I wish, in that moment, I had understood the power of my own agency.

Only recently have I returned to such a pattern, this time with paid work as shared priority with my personal health. I would want to know that my time, the way I spend it, is a valuable asset in my success.


You don’t owe anyone, anything.

I had already accepted a position in another state and was midway into packing up my life when a second, more lucrative job was offered, which didn’t include moving and came with way more prestige. I had an ethical dilemma on my hands, so I called up a friend in the New Jersey Department of Employment to discuss my next steps. Her advice would be the single moment of clarity in this decision. She said, “This is America. You don’t owe anyone, anything.”

Perhaps not the good employee behavior I’d been taught or the type of loyalty I’d like to portray, but she was right. Why tie my entrepreneurial spirit down to a dead end job?  My younger self should know being bold will have its consequences.  They are worth it. Say no, don’t shy away from difficult choices, be your own trailblazer.


Give Gratitude.

I never expected gratitude to be my blind spot. Today, it’s part of my foundation in building positive work culture and relationships among staff. But I wouldn’t understand the necessity of gratitude until I needed it the most.  Brene Brown recently said,

If we really want more authenticity and vulnerability, and we know that it leads to more creativity and innovation, then why do we continue to create organization and family cultures that punish people for showing up as their whole selves?”

Don’t wait to give gratitude, it’s part of acknowledging who you are and being able to share that with your colleagues.  Gratitude is part of building a better more creative environment, personally and professionally.

While there may be many things I would hope to teach myself, I’m glad I’ve learned from my community as they helped shape me as a leader, employee, and friend.  I have such gratitude for my initial mentors, my first supervisor, and my students, who never cease to challenge me.

I am most surprised to find I’m braver than I’d imagined. Pushing myself beyond my areas of comfort, uprooting my life to better become the person I’ve dreamed about.  More so than ever, I’m better at taking my own advice.

Speak Louder Than Words

3 Jun

For years I burned CDs and made mixes for the people I cared about.  Today, some folks still make annual compilations of the year, I’m always a fan of the new Girl Talk. I hear tape decks are back in style. 

The last mix I made was over six years ago for Drew, and long time musician and my then boyfriend.  The mix making was really his wheel house and one of the ways he showed his love for me.  A small, intensly thoughtful gift.

The last year and half have posed some of my most difficult challenges, most obviously my struggle with depression, continued negative patterns in relationships, and understanding the role of positive communities (personally and professionally) in my overall health.

I made this mix for all the folks who played a part in the last few months.  Designed from start to finish in chronological order from January 2015- May 2016.  I know it certainly hasn’t been easy and I honor each of you in your own way. Love shouldn’t be scarce. So, I love you and wanted to make a small, thoughtful gift to share.