Career, Health, Life, Uncategorized

A Type A Control Freak’s Path to Serenity

Before I begin, there are a few things you should probably know about me:

  1. I organize my underwear drawer. After removing my clothes from the dryer, each pair is carefully folded before being placed in the appropriate pile based on style, fabric, and color.  Yes. My underwear is organized by color.
  2. My bathroom trash can is for aesthetic purposes only. Should you choose to use it for actual garbage, it will be emptied almost immediately.
  3. I have five email addresses, each containing a minimum of 50 labels into which I organize the multitude of messages I receive throughout the day (for those of you who don’t use Gmail, think of labels as folders).

The reason I share these points is to attempt to illustrate the plethora of systems I have built in an effort to organize my everyday existence, systems that should be regarded as observable manifestations of my larger obsession with stability. Yes, it might sound a bit neurotic (because it is), but I have been operating this way since I was six years old and searching for the perfect way to display my stuffed animals.

Recently, I made the decision to venture out on my own – a choice that is riddled with instability. Bi-weekly paychecks? Health insurance? A 401k? With this one decision, they instantly became things of the past. Hours became varied and unpredictable (likely to fluctuate in tandem with my emotional state), and it’s no longer possible to define myself by my job title or salary range.

You would think that my Type A personality would be vehemently protesting, that every atom of my being would be screaming for me to create order out of the chaos – but it’s not. Yes, my aforementioned systems are still in place, but for the first time in a long time, I feel genuinely at peace. I’m enjoying the quiet that comes to my neighborhood after 9:30am. I’m reveling in the freedom to choose my own projects, to partner with innovative minds from other industries. In a strange twist, these seemingly inconsequential options have overrode my need for control – enough, at least, that I know how important it is for me to explore it further.

So here I am. I am bound to encounter a multitude of threats to this newfound independence, but I have made the decision to prioritize my own happiness, and through any means necessary, I will preserve this state of serenity.

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Career, Life

Affirmations of an Entrepreneurial Spirit

Today marks the start of a new leg of my journey,
Today, I acknowledge that which makes me happy and move away from that which does not,
Today, I stop making excuses… for things I have not yet accomplished, for chances I have not yet taken,
Today, I embrace my fears and channel them into enthusiasm,
Today, I laugh frequently and always from my core,
Today, I love fully and without hesitation,
Today, I listen – to myself, to my friends and to those who surround me,
And tomorrow?
Tomorrow, I read this statement as if for the first time.
Tomorrow, I remind myself that I am living for today.

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Friends, Nonprofit

16 Hours Tomorrow

In her 40s, Pauline Crowther scaled the Brooklyn Bridge… not once, but several times.

In her 30s, she held down a full-time job while raising three kids on her own, and she made sure they never missed a rehearsal, practice, or playdate.

She loved art, music, culture… and most importantly, she brought light and life to everyone she knew.

In 2008, at age 51, Paulette Crowther was diagnosed with Anal Cancer. This isn’t as attractive a topic to read about – I know – but that’s all the more reason why we should. In spite of her illness, and possibly partly because of it, Paulette went back to school for her master’s in landscape design at Columbia University. She traveled the world with her three children, and she greeted me with a smile and sincere interest in my life every day when she came in to work. We lost Pauline in April of 2010, but she lived on in everyone who knew her, and in July 2010, her three children started The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation in her honor.

Over the next 48 hours, we have an opportunity to raise up to $100k in support of Pauline and others like her. Jonathan Feldman will swim 2.5 miles, bike 112 miles and run 26.2 miles (a full marathon) tomorrow in the the Ironman triathlon in Zurich, Switzerland to support the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation. A generous donor will match every donated dollar, up to $50,000, and the money raised will go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation for research on prevention methods and therapeutic treatments.

Every dollar you contribute will make all the difference.

If you’re unable to contribute at this time, all we ask is that join us in sharing this message with your friends and family members… for Pauline, for Jonathan’s friend, for their families, and for the 30,000 people who will be diagnosed with cancers caused by HPV this year.

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Friends, Nonprofit

On Changing the World: How Does One Person Make a Difference?

For several years, I have grappled with how to make each day of my life count, how to give back to the world, and how to ensure that I am proud of the person I am… I volunteer, donate, educate myself, and strive to be a positive force in the lives of others. But, it is when I come across someone like Shanley Knox, a recent college graduate working to help a village become self-sustaining, that I am truly reminded of how much each of us can do to make a difference in the lives of others.


Shanley Knox on Founding Nakate Project
:

“In 2010, we met a 7-year-old named Cossy Nakate. Suffering from AIDS, orphaned and living in a small African village called Kakooge, Cossy impacted us in a way we couldn’t stop thinking about. We shared our lunch with her. We started paying for her food every month. But it wasn’t enough. We knew we had to change not only her life, but the lives of the women in her village – and the lives of their daughters after them.

7-Year Old Cossy Nakate; Photo credit: Nakate Project

So, we brought home a sack of necklaces, and we started the Nakate Project. That was our piece of Africa, our way of beginning to carry Nakate with us into our every day lives – so we wouldn’t forget her, or the way we had pledged to make a change.
Here at Nakate, we’re looking to put a little bit of Africa – a little bit of Cossy Nakate – into every woman’s life that we meet. That way, when they take a little piece of Africa with them, they can help pass it along, until we all are aware, and we all are working to prevent stories like her’s. Whether you’re someone who wants to buy a necklace, or you’re a designer, a photographer, a woman with a dinner group, a book group, a blog or a fashion show, we’re asking – where will you take Africa with you today?”

Since its founding in late 2010, Nakate Project has grown to support over 20 women in Uganda. Each month, Shanley wires money to the women of Kakooge in payment for paper jewelry that they make by hand and ship to her. She receives no financial compensation. She’s just doing her part to better the world….. I find it (and her) to be pretty incredible.

So how can you make a difference?

Donate to raise funds for Shanley’s next trip to Uganda.
Take home a piece of Africa, available here.
Tweet about @NakateProject.
Blog
about Nakate Project.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” -Anne Frank

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Family

The Many Ways to Say Goodbye and Other Lessons to Learn

Yesterday morning, I attended my uncle’s funeral.

Walter D. Long was only 66 years old upon his death, but no one would argue the fact that the years he did live were full of life. A graduate of Pingry School and Wesleyan University, he was intelligent and driven. He served as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1966-73; and as the owner of a travel agency, he had the opportunity to see the world early on in his life. He was an incredibly devoted husband who, together with his wife, raised two loving, kind-hearted, and intelligent sons, sons who went on to give him five beautiful grandchildren with two wonderful daughters-in-law. And perhaps what he is most well-known for, he dedicated eight years to serving as mayor of Summit, New Jersey, a period during which he rebuilt downtown Summit and secured a reputation as an unbelievable leader of the community.


I didn’t really know my Uncle Walt, although I had always wanted to. Family drama, the nature of which I never really understood, caused him to keep his family life separate from ours; and because I had always dreamed of the quintessential loving extended family, I resented him as a teenager for not wanting to be a part of my life. As I grew older, I moved on, choosing to place my focus on those who were present, and we never did get the chance to know one another as adults.

In attending his funeral yesterday and listening to his family and friends describe their loved one, I feel I finally got the opportunity to know him a little, to learn from him, and to see the beauty of his accomplishments, both personal and professional. I have a great deal of respect for the person he was to the people and things he cared about most and I loved hearing their stories… About his handwritten personal letters that he never stopped writing, even after his illness took away the use of his right hand and he had to learn to write with his left… About his close friend subsequently teasing him by calling him “lefty,” a nickname that was especially amusing since my uncle was a Conservative Republican.

My Uncle Walt advised a great many people during the course of his time here on Earth, and yesterday, I heard a few of his choice sayings. It’s obvious that many people will carry his energy with them for the rest of their lives…

“People don’t care how much you know unless, and until, they know how much you care.”

“If you think you can, you will; and if you think you can’t, you’re right.”

“Confidence is the Electricity of Life.”

“Perception is reality.”

And my personal favorite:

“It’s not how high you fly; instead, it’s how high you bounce.”

Walt,
You couldn’t have known, but I still carry my childhood memories of you. I always have, and I always will love you. And I look forward to the chance to see you again one day. ‘Til we meet again…   Rest in peace.

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Career, Friends, Health, Love

Life Choices: The Positive Rewards of Taking a Chance

The weekend after giving notice at my old job, my boyfriend, Ron, and I were enjoying a relaxing Sunday brunch with Ron’s old roommate and his roomate’s girlfriend. After finishing our Eggs Benedict, Bloody Marys, and a lively discussion about social media, both of them were kind enough to offer to pass my resume along to their employers…  I had grown accustomed to unanswered inquiries, companies not hiring, and the other usual job market evils that most of us have encountered in this economy. So, when I sent them my resume, I definitely did not expect to hear back; in fact, I didn’t even give it a second thought. Crazy enough, the following morning, there was an email in my inbox asking when I might be available to speak to Human Resources…

Fast forward one week (and throw in a few interviews with this amazing social media agency)? Hired!

It was unbelievable. I had quit my job, fully expecting to go back to school. I figured I would see where life took me, and I could waitress and pick up the odd job here-and-there in order to pay the bills. Instead, I had (almost overnight) landed my dream job.

Serendipity? Fate? Luck?

When you’re trying to decide whether to leave a job, people are very quick to tell you to stick it out, that it’s easier to find a job when you have a job, you shouldn’t be impulsive, keep your benefits, etc. etc. Now, I don’t discount the validity of any of this; in fact, I think it’s true. But, something changed for me when I resigned from my job: my energy for life. You see, I had fallen into a rut. I wasn’t feeling motivated and I was carrying a weight around with me. When I chose to follow my heart (and accept the inevitable financial consequences), I essentially freed myself of this weight and I truly think the subsequent positive energy helped me to land this job. The universe (and the social media agency) saw that I was EXCITED about life, EXCITED about social media, and EXCITED about what I could be doing.

What has been even more amazing is how many other people have told me of similar serendipitous events in their own lives following a decision to put their emotional needs first… I don’t think Americans are encouraged to do this enough; and for me, it has served as proof that sometimes the answer really is following your heart, believing in yourself, and allowing the chips to fall as they may.

As I prepare to start my new job by reading up on viral marketing, social media, and customer relationship management, I am also trying to prepare myself emotionally. It is essential that I carry this newfound positivity and confidence into the office on Monday, and ultimately, into every subsequent phase of my life.

6 Things I have found to be important for this:

Sleep

I definitely require at least 7 hours a night. Serious emphasis on the “at least.”

Friends

My friends are inspiring, supportive, and intelligent. I can count on them for anything and everything, but most of all, a ton of laughs and a listening ear.


Animals
My dog, Stella, is the love of my life. I can’t even describe my love and gratitude for her… If you have a pet who you feel that way about, you know what I mean. There are also other animals in my life who are pretty important; but for today, I just want to  focus on her: sheer perfection.



Nutrition
I’m bad at this one. I love bread, pasta, chocolate, and anything that is made with spices, butter, or cheese. However, I know that I feel better as a whole when vegetables, fruit, and protein are incorporated… Working on it.

Yoga
Exercise and I have had an on-again-off-again relationship for some time now… I would really like to make it work. We all have to start somewhere, so I’ve committed to Saturday mornings.

Downtime
Whether it’s eating at my favorite restaurants, escaping for the weekend, reading a book, shopping, blogging, or watching tv, this includes anything that is purely for my own enjoyment.

I’m interested in finding out what other people find to be helpful… What’s important to you in maintaining your positive energy and outlook?

P.S. Feel free to leave social media tips and/or info as well!

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