Archive | April, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

29 Apr

One of my best friend’s birthday was on Wednesday and I completely forgot to tell her “happy birthday”.  Needless to say, I felt like a giant a-hole.  Under any normal circumstance I would have felt terrible for forgetting a friend’s special day, but because it was her I felt even worse.  She’s the one that listens to me rant when I’ve exhausted everyone else’s ears, the one that talks me out of doing irrational things to Mr. Kelley when all I can say is “I’m going to kill him”, and she’s the one who isn’t afraid to tell me what I don’t want to hear like, “Kelley, you’re being a psycho.”   So, even though she understands how I got my days mixed up, I’m still left with a feeling of guilt, a feeling that will only be subsided by buying her dinner tonight to show my appreciation for all of our long conversations and countless rides to the airport.

Appreciation is a pretty easy concept. It’s the act of showing gratitude for something or someone, but how often do we exercise this act? I’ll admit that sometimes I’ll absent mindedly take for granted things people do or say.  I sometimes get wrapped up in my own busy schedule and forget that others are just as busy,  if not busier,  than I am yet they’ve taken time out of their limited 24 hours to be kind to me and I brush it off.  It’s an accident, but not excusable.  It’s important show appreciation for compassionate things people do and the kind words people share because what they’re doing isn’t necessary.  They don’t have to help you when you ask, answer the phone when you call, or be there when you need them to be.  They do all of these things for you because you matter to them, reciprocate by showing them the same.

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What’s your cause?

27 Apr

I’m going to be completing a marketing internship this summer at Planned Parenthood and I’m pretty excited about it.  I’ve interned there before and learned a lot. What I learned had a lot to do with marketing, but more about what people are willing to do for the things they care for. I know that the organization isn’t seen in the same light as other non-profit organizations, it’s a polarized topic, but that’s what makes it so rewarding.  Everyday I’m surrounded by people who give a damn about something and that’s a good feeling.  It’s good to know that people are willing to stand by their convictions regardless of the criticisms and it’s refreshing to see women make their voices heard for what they know is right. The women I worked with (I’m sure men work at other offices, but there aren’t any at mine) devote hours upon hours to their cause, and this made me wonder: do we all have a cause we’d fight for? 

I think it’s important to identify what matters to us.  We need to know what we stand for and actually stand up for it.  While words are useful for so many things (i.e.: talking your way out of a speeding ticket), they matter the most when they’re advocating a cause, when they’re used in an effort to better what’s around us.   Not everyone stands up for what’s right or what they believe to be right, so I commend those that do.  Even if I have a difficult time agreeing or flat-out disagree with what you’re supporting at least you’re doing your part for what you believe in and that’s worth something.  So, what do you stand for or not stand for?  What cause do you believe in?

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Room for Four

26 Apr

As mentioned in a previous post, I’m going to be moving into another condo in a couple months with three other people.  Three! That’s three more people squeezed into a single condo than what I currently have to deal with.  In case my writing is too confusing, I currently live alone.  In the beginning it was great.  I could wash or not wash the dishes, watch whatever channel I wanted, and use my blender between 12 am-7am with no problem, but then I got lonely.  I realized that being with others is way more fun than being alone and I wanted company.

Human interaction forces us to become a better version of ourselves.  When there is no one around it doesn’t matter how often I clean or what I choose to eat for breakfast (ice cream) because there was no one there to judge.  I’m isolated from everyone and although I firmly believe I’m my harshest critic this really only applies to tangible results of my hard work.  After living alone for almost 10 months I’ve realized that social interaction is imperative and it’s needed for a healthy mental and emotional state.  Whether it’s dinner with friends or a trip to the grocery store with someone else it’s important to make time to physically be present with others.  In almost a year, I’ve become awkwardly comfortable with having no genuine communication with others (aside from classmates) and I can tell that it’s taking a toll on me.   The lesson here isn’t constantly surrounding yourself with people.  The lesson is make time for people.  Make time to have genuine conversations, real human interaction and authentic exchanges. 

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When do we start talking to strangers?

23 Apr

I made a new friend and his name is Tyler. He’s four and a half as he emphatically added because that “half”, as all kids know, is very important. I was at the gym and had just finished running on the treadmill when I noticed Tyler sitting on the floor with an iPod, near the weights, staring at me (his mother was on the elliptical so no, he wasn’t a random child left in a gym). Under normal circumstances I would have continued my run in the opposite direction given my fear of children, but I decided to put on my big girl pants, turn up my music (for fear of him talking to me) and walk toward my mini, lady weights. However, this doesn’t deter him and I see his little mouth open to something. I take out my earphones and ask, “What did you say?” (as mentioned above, not the smoothest when it comes to children). I hear him repeat, “Whose mom are you?” After awkwardly explaining to him that I am in fact nobody’s mother (he seemed a little disappointed) we ended up having a not all bad conversation about our matching iPods, his ability to recite Dr. Seuss (a very good choice), and how much he loves his mom. When I left, the little man wrapped his little arms around my knees and gave me a hug.

My encounter with Tyler got me thinking: when do we start talking to strangers ? As kids we always hear, “Don’t talk to strangers!” However, as adults if we refuse to talk to strangers we’re deemed as anti-social or socially awkward.I consider myself a social person. I can pretty much start a conversation with anyone (even a tree as someone so kindly pointed out to me), but even I’m thrown when perfect strangers try to communicate with me even if they are normal, everyday, “how’s your day going?” conversations. I’m not sure if “Don’t talk to strangers!” is still ingrained in my head or if it’s a pretty normal reaction, but as an adult it should be okay for us to start conversations with people we don’t know without thinking of it as weird or creepy, yet somehow I find that most of us don’t. Most of us do get shifty-eyed when unfamiliar people start talking to us or somewhat uncomfortable when a random person offers a random “hi”. Is this called paranoia or normal?

Perhaps this is a conversation I need to have with my new friend Tyler.

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Craigslist can have my items anytime

21 Apr

In the next couple of months I’m going to be moving (not the BIG move, just into another condo) and needed to get rid of a couple items: sofa couch, futon, dining table, etc.  When I had moved previously I simply donated all of my things I didn’t have room for and was planning on doing the same thing this time.  However I decided to give Craigslist a try because I know people who often purchase sofas and tables from there.  After posting my stuff, I have come to the conclusion that selling items on Craigslist (items, not services as I have no experience in this area) is a fantastic idea.  Within hours of posting I had sold everything and after speaking with the purchaser (Yes, singular.  One person decided to buy all of my stuff) she even wanted to buy things of mine that I didn’t bother posting: wall sconces, end tables, my clothes (yes that was a little peculiar).  She even tried to buy my platform bed, which was NOT for sale. To think, I was going to trash or give away my stuff when there’s an easy way to make a few bucks that doesn’t involve a pawn shop or garage sale.

This is yet another reason why technology is so amazing.  Before the internet I would have had to sell my things via yard sale and I don’t have a yard.  I barely have a patio.  Through Craigslist I was able to connect to people who wanted to buy my used items.  This saves me so much time and energy of having to find a truck to lug my heavy futon to Goodwill or finding space for my dining table.  In addition to the ease of getting rid of my crap, the internet provides me with a way to easily search for jobs.   Whether it is on Craigslist or, without the web I wouldn’t know of a clear way of job hunting other than looking for “Help Wanted” signs.  The internet hasn’t made me lazy; it’s made me more efficient.

So again, I say, “Yes technology has made things easier and no it’s not a bad thing.”

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Sell Yourself

19 Apr

I  tweeted this article today PSST..We’re All In Sales from Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Blog and this got me thinking how true this really is.  I can definitely see how having a sales background is beneficial for anyone.  Sales taught me to not fear rejection because it’s going to happen whether we like it or not and the power of persuasion, if you can find a real reason why people need it, people will buy it.

As mentioned in another post, I’m going to be looking for another job when I graduate and I’ve always considered interviews, resumes, and cover letters very similar to sales: you’re selling yourself (the product) and what you can contribute (the service).   Simply pointing out accomplishments aren’t enough and highlighting skills and qualifications are expected.  So, how do you set yourself apart?  How do you make people want you over everyone else?  I think it all boils down to how you present it.  Of course, you should have something to present (ie: the right skills and accomplishment congruent to what the company is looking for), but so many people are qualified, maybe even over qualified, that it takes a lot to stand out.

That’s when I take advantage of the cover letter.  So often, people use this opportunity to simply restate what is already on the resume as opposed to using it to really explain what you’re capable of.  Cover letters aren’t cut and dry “here’s what I can do”, it’s your chance to really explain to the company what makes you an asset and what you’ve done in the past to make you qualified. It’s not difficult, what is difficult is making it interesting and compelling.  Don’t simply state what you can do.  Explain what makes you so great at what you do. No one knows why you’re better than any other candidate more than you, so use your cover letter to really sell yourself and stand out.  So many cover letters are read, but not many of them are remembered. Make yours the exception.

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Since when did girls stop wanting to be heroes?

13 Apr

I saw these word clouds on yesterday.  Can you tell a distinct difference between the left and right sides?  Each side represents the most commonly used words toy advertisers use when targeting girls and boys.  The boys’ toys that were looked at were Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Kung Zhu, Nerf, Transformers, Beyblades, and Bakugan. There were 658 words from 27 commercials. The girls’ toys were Zhu Zhu Pets, Zhu Zhu Babies, Bratz Dolls, Barbie, Moxie Girls, Easy Bake Ovens, Monster High Dolls, My Little Pony, Littlest Pet Shop, Polly Pocket, and FURREAL Friends with 432 words from 32 commercials

The stark contrast in the clouds isn’t surprising at all.  Although I am interested in why “power” and “hero” didn’t make it on the girls’ cloud and why “love” and “friendship” didn’t make it on the boys’ cloud.    I feel that those words are and should be pretty gender neutral.  The fact that “power” isn’t anywhere on the girls’ list is slightly infuriating.  With the times changing and everything slowly becoming more equal shouldn’t advertisers take that into consideration when appealing to both genders?  I’m sure little girls would love to be heroes, so why isn’t that word seen in both clouds?  It’s so important to teach kids the meaning of equality and the obvious difference in the verbiage used in advertising is clearly not working in our favor.  Gender roles are established at such a young age when girls are playing with Easy Bake Ovens and boys are playing with their fire trucks that the longer these stereotypes are perpetuated the harder they are to break.  I’m not saying children don’t eventually grow out of the strictly pink and blue world, but it would be beneficial for everyone if the differences never started.

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