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Springtime revives me… and my plants!

18 Mar

Spring has sprung! Well, officially not yet, but my tulips, garlic, catnip (that somehow lasted all winter), and daffodils have sprung! I, too, am feeling a sense of refreshed motivation to take on the world and inspire my students!
I am fully aware this may be from my new organic espresso or my spinach protein shake, however, I attribute it in part to the sun, and the lovely green I am beginning to see in my garden!

The thought of the sun actually existing in the sky (in Upstate NY) really motivates me to tackle so much, including re-vamping this old blog! Of course, it will continue to be coffee-fueled, minus the Thesis updates! Although, I have a lot of research ideas (and multiple have-started articles) so there might be some new musings about that in this revived blog, too. Although I’m not sure which direction I will take this blog in 2016, I just know I love to write, so we’ll see how the blog transforms in the next few months. Enjoy the journey with me!

Back to my garden… I have just started, in between grading midterms, plotting how I will organize my plants and expand my garden this season. I do this annually using colored pencils, which makes the planning so much more exciting. You can say it’s my version of the coloring for adults fad going on right now, which is great, don’t get me wrong, just very pricy considering the costs of children’s coloring books are less than half. It’s a good fad to pick up, as it truly can help limit stress and keep areas of the brain that may have become dormant, more active.

I’ve been using colored pencils, pens, and crayons since my major sTBI back in ’07 to help me organize and to keep my amygdala in check (stress-reduction). I find that planning your garden with color is more cognitively stimulating than simply coloring in the lines of a pre-created image. You activate much more of your cerebral cortex by creating your own canvas (garden), organizing by length and width (to account for each plants’ necessity), and finally, in drawing the “full-in-bloom” version of your Spring 2016 Dream Garden.

Now, I’m no Neurologist, but I feel like I know a thing or two about stress and anxiety. (Just read any posting while I was completing grad school and my Masters Thesis and you’ll see! 😛 ) When I brought up the idea last year to my neurologist of plotting my garden like this, making time each day to work in it, and update the drawings, he was impressed with my rationale for doing this as an alternative to staying on meds to reduce stress. Plus, the extra o^2 from the plants can’t hurt! He might have just been humoring me, but hey, I’m definitely less stressed a year later. And, thanks to my indoor plant/planning during the winter, still no daily rx… I might be onto something! 🙂 Continue reading

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Just a steady beating heart, a wish, and a prayer!

11 Jan

… Yup, it’s thesis time again.

I’m back at it after what seemed like a roller coaster of 2 years of ineffective writing, organization, and unrealistic goals. My emotions were too deeply involved in this paper after my grandfather passed away in 2012, who always would tell me “Get all the education you can, no one can ever take that away from you, Chyna!” Now, this paper shouldn’t take more than 2 months to complete (theoretically anyway) since I’ve written one that had been deemed ‘graduate level work’ in undergrad. But here I am. Thesis not complete – STILL!

Instead of beating myself up like I have been in the past, I’m taking a more active approach, looking for inspirations, and just getting this thing done!! I am finished dealing with the emotional roller coaster I let thesis become from 2012 – 2013. No more deep insights followed by moments of ecstasy, which initiated moments of despair that led to apathy. Pretty crazy stuff it was. Once I was able to look at this from an outsiders perspective I realized this toxic cycle was enough for me. December 2013 brought this on, not sure why, I just thank God! Now, I have a clear plan, a realistic timeline, and a great support system of family, friends, advisors, and a great motivational music compilation to keep me going – and plans to prevent this cycle from repeating again. Lil Wayne’s Tie My Hands was inspiration while I wrote my UG thesis – and so again, I revert to it to keep me going! Blog posts will follow more regularly again regarding the usual – thesis, football, life, kittens, insightful lists of random things, you know, a few of my favorite things!

I end this quote-post with the promise, and hope of good things to come beginning this month! Also, for the record, I’m betting on the Saints (underdogs come through when it’s down to the wire like this!), the Luck-y Colts, the 9ers, and the Broncos for this weekend’s Playoff wins. Some of these are more hopeful than realistic, but I’ve been 2/3 so far – and I think my odds are due to improve!

What has this month/new year made anyone else realize or inspire to accomplish?!

 

“Yes I know, the process is so much stress, but it’s the progress that feels the best!” -Lil Wayne, Tie My Hands from Tha Carder III

My Career – TBD

26 May

As I see my confirmation sponsoree (I don’t think there is a word for this, if there is enlighten me by all means) gets ready to graduate from high school, I am beginning to create her gift – a mini scrapbook of her path through life thus far. As I leave the last few pages blank for her to fill in as she finishes college, I find myself reflecting on the path I took to get where I am today. While creating this gift, I realize there is so much I wish I had known at 17 when I was preparing to enter college… But since my time machine is still on the fritz, I’ll just share some good advice here – maybe a few graduates will read it and be enlightened themselves!

  • Take every piece of advice you receive now with a grain of salt
    Just because something is right for another person – and they assure you that is will be for you too – it really doesn’t mean it is. Majoring in what your parent majored in doesn’t necessarily mean you will live the same life they did, especially in this economy. If that is where your heart tells you to go, then by all means follow in mom or dad’s footsteps! But if you are doing it just because it’s easier than figuring it out for yourself, think twice. This is true for other things too, not just for your college major. For me, I listened to what individuals told me to avoid in college, what path to follow from freshman year to sophomore year, etc. and didn’t realize until probably a bit later than I would have liked, that these people didn’t even go to college. Their word was just opinion. Bad opinion. Not relevant at all for me. Granted, I wish I had taken some advice that I ignored (such as, get to the gym and limit the dining hall visits your freshman year), but that I had to learn on my own. Over all, simply keep in the back of your mind the concept that words from someone else are meant to be reconstructed for better application to your own life… so don’t take them as gold.
  • Salt will dehydrate you
    This is for the freshmen too. Limit your use of salt, especially when you first experience ‘life on your own’ and the party-scene of college. I became dehydrated at least 3 times through my undergraduate degree, two of which required me to go to the ER. I wasn’t drinking enough water, eating/drinking eat-out or ‘on-the-go’ snacks high in sodium, taking too many exercise classes, and not taking care of my body. When I was hungry, I ate what was cheapest and easiest to locate. Not only was this bad for my health, but it was also not smart for my finances. I wish I had packed a lunch more often in my first two years of school… even just having a snack packed for long days is a great idea! Try any of these high protein, low cal snacks!
    So, besides limiting the salt intake (check the sodium content of things, especially packaged foods and drinks), listen to your body, drink more water, and eat a semi-balanced diet. This will be one sure way to avoid a claustrophobic, germ-infested trip to the ER! 🙂
  • Don’t do what you were told to do in high school
    As far as doing your homework – okay, then do what your high school teachers told you, but when doing your homework, keep an open mind. Explore topics related or not to what you are interested in. Don’t be afraid to learn something new (if time allows and you are not cramming for a “forgotten assignment”). My freshman year, I was so worried about keeping my GPA as high as possible that I missed a lot of opportunities to learn about topics relating to my major. Hindsight is 20-20, but I still think if I had more of an open mind and had investigated more subjects that were of interest, I wouldn’t have changed my major as much and might have been more able to focus on what would make me happy once I entered the workforce. 🙂

Well, again, take all of this with a grain of salt, but overall, enjoy college, step out of your comfort-zone every so often, ask MANY questions, and have fun! 🙂

 

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Inspiration Wednesday #ThesisRevivalMission

3 Apr

Excited for August!

Since my #thesisrevivalmission has been delayed (not to my surprise…) I have a new REALISTIC goal…

Complete my thesis by the 95th 2013 PGA Championship at the Oak Hill Country Club… or I can’t attend 😦

After having been offered an interview with the PGA, and having turned it down because another job came up first that I committed to, I figured attending the Championship game in Rochacha (Rochester, NY) can be my reward for “getting thesis done, defended and submitted to 2 conferences (NCA? and ICA)“.

In the meantime, I might even take golf lessons so I can do more than volunteer as the “shot girl” at the J.P. Tracy Golf Tourney this summer 😉 Oh, I should write about that too!

So much to write about, so little time!

My 2013 Spectrum Experience with STC Rochester

26 Mar

What a weekend I had at STC Rochester’s 2013 Summit! Not only was I, as always, greatly inspired by my phenomenal mentor, Ben Woelk, but also, I was inspired by other great professionals in Tech Comm who opened up my mind to new ways of thinking about all things writing. The conference was so inspiring, I can’t keep all of the inspiration and life-direction advice to myself… so I’m sharing it here. Enjoy!

…Inspiration comes from insightful, and passion-driven experiences…
 
  1. Working in the non-profit world is perfect for some individuals but there are definitely high burn-out rates (see Justin Ewer’s article in the US News). I love it, but do experience burn-out easily, so I have taken steps into looking into jobs in different directions, including going back to the world of Higher Ed. after some great advice from the conference attendee’s who know first hand what I was experiencing!

    What I learned from the conference is to be conscientious and careful of the possibly downward spiral associated with high-stress positions trying to “help people”. They are great in theory, but if you don’t have the right fit you most likely will damage your strong-will and desire to change the status quo and could potentially experience the feeling of dissatisfaction after realizing you have not solved any societal problems… so pick your organization wisely!

    How? Simple primary research! Go on informational interviews, connect with people who used to work there, and find out if the office environment is one in which you can make a difference. Nonprofit it still where I see myself working long-term but I am taking this advice to heart based on the experience’s of successful professionals who have been there! Thanks, especially to Ben, Anna, and Bernard!

  2. Experience is a MUST! This one may seem obvious, but the type of experience you get makes a world of difference. Take for instance, volunteer work – it can be so beneficial to an organization and your brand… if the work you produce is tangible, quantitative, and effective. If you are just filling in for others who are not doing their job, the organization is the only entity benefiting. Great for them, especially if they are a nonprofit, but not good for the one putting in endless hours of extra work that take away from producing tangible, useful portfolio work.

    In order to make your volunteer, or non-paid, work beneficial to you and the organization, some steps to take include a simple one – mapping out where you start when you begin the position, and showing where you plan to end. In this way, you can track your progress in fulfilling the organization’s mission and improving on some aspect of their outreach, communication, technical progress, etc.

    Also, be sure to track everything you do. Before you do anything, ask yourself, how will this be of benefit to the organization and how can I best utilize all that I know to make a quantifiable lasting impression? (or something of that nature to give your work all you can, and to measure your success for future positions… and for the organization).

  3. This one comes straight from the fantastic presentation by Lori MeyerThe Change Agent in You! Without giving away all the great tips from this presentation, I will focus on a major point she made that really hit home with me. Lori suggested that we always be sure to “take inventory of skills you possess” which can serve  as a beneficial tool during interviews and also as a “roadmap” to match yourself up with the job you want to get.

    I took that personally as great advice to validate my present position in my working life, and also my direction in life. While I was volunteering for many great causes and working on my masters thesis, it hit me that I was not utilizing my skills to their fullest extent in either of these areas as I was stretching my time too thin. After reflection on Lori’s presentation, I realized that to reach the point in my life/work life that I hoped to in 5 years, I currently had to withdraw some of my time out of volunteer positions and focus them better. After just a week and a half, I have noticed I am more successful in my everyday endeavors and go to sleep at night feeling more successful!

    Try it – take an inventory of your current and future desired skills… then thank Lori for the great tips!

  4. The dynamic duo at the conference, STC Director (and my mentor) Ben Woelk and Marilyn Woelk , Rochester STC President 2012, were the source of much inspiration in their speeches, from interpersonal advice, and their mere presence at the conference and in my life!

    Ben, in his lightning talk, offered some fantastic tips on information security. While dodging the “distraction balls”, he pointed out the threat of posting on Facebook, and other Social Networking sites, that you are out-of-town to a broad audience of people. Knowing you are gone, and for how long, any burgular could easily break into your house, knowing the time-frame they could have before your return. Scary! But true… be careful!

    I used to be an avid user of Foursquare, which considering I am his mentee, seems counterintuitive… But, I am proud to say that I have now limited my use of Foursquare to only posting to my limited “friends” on Foursquare, and not to my private Facebook, and public Twitter accounts. Progress! 🙂

    Marilyn gave a fantastic talk about Getting, Keeping, and Excelling at a Job. Not only is this very relevant for me, a soon-to-be recent graduate, but in today’s economy, her speech is beneficial to everyone! She touched on topics of personal branding – ensure you establish your personal brand as an individual that is not easily replaced – interviewing tips – from the initial hand-shake to the follow-up email – and so much more! Catch her during her next presentation… I don’t want to give all her insightful tips away on here… then you miss out on her fantastic speaking presence! Thanks Marilyn!

    Although I missed Ben and Hannah Morgan‘s raved-about presentation, I look forward to Summit 2013 in Atlanta where I will attend Empowering the Introvert Within: Becoming an Outstanding Leader! Other’s who attended their previous presentations wrote about it, like New Balancing Act, Jamie. You could always check out the Bulletproofing your career online’s website, too for ideas about their fantastic presentation style that I know can only come through better, if that’s even possible, in this presentation! 

    (Hey, Ben, did I plug your links enough? Brownie points, yes! *kidding*)

  5. TOOLS! Boy did I get tips on some fancy tech-tools that I had not yet utilized… and think you should definitely try them!

    David Caruso  suggested a fantastic metrics tool from the government, go.usa.gov. If you are into metrics, especially on Twitter, check this one out. It’s a great way to track the traffic you are creating for an organization, or yourself!

    Bernard Aschwanden, Adobe representative exhibited the Adobe Technical Communications Suite 4.0 on how to “improve the User Experience through Hybrid Docs” during his live demo.

    Doc to help is a neat tool that my dear friend Nivi won in a raffle. I plan to soon ask to try it out myself on her computer! It is a tool that helps making sharing, or publishing, information on a variety of outlets (desktops, web, mobile, & print) so easy!

In essence, I got so much out of Spectrum 13 that I could continue on for hours, but will leave it to this simple 5-point post for now. I cannot wait until next year, and hope to be even more involved in the conference – and urge you, if you are in the area, or not, to check it out in 2014!

Thank you to the mentioned inspirers including Lori Meyer, Ben WoelkMarilyn WoelkHannah MorganDavid Caruso, Bernard Aschwanden.

A special thank you, as well, to the not specifically mentioned, but those that inspired some of the great thoughts and insights I’ve either written about or utilized since then… Thank you Anna Parker-Richards, Wendy Ross, Alan Houser (Keynote), and all of the lovely STC Rochester 2013 Spectrum presenters, attendees, sponsors, friends, and volunteer’s for all of your help, inspiration, and guidance!

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ThesisRevivalMission Day 3

20 Mar

Well, day 2 was quite unsuccessful. I see a pattern here and it’s making me nervous!

Today, my Library reminder tells me my Rq’s and H’s need to be finalized… working on it! Will post when complete.

Besides this I plan to print out my business cards for a conference beginning tomorrow night, apply for  few jobs my lovely mentee told me about today from the career fair, and write a post about mentorship – a topic that keeps coming up in my life this week.

I plan to have all of this done by 10pm… and gym too if I’m feeling better! 🙂

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Me and my super successful mentee! Love her! 🙂

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Thesis Revival Mission – Day 2

19 Mar

Results of day 1- 1. Completed the understanding expectations outline and sent to advisor. 2. Revised the timeline and sent to advisor. 3. Rewrote abstract! 4. Learned 2 new words that I love! (personal accomplishment haha) 5. Went to bed early!

Okay, not the most accomplished day I’ve ever had but I’m off to a promising start!

Day 2 has been complicated to say the least. There is a career fair tomorrow so most of today has been spent preparing for that. Ill let it go this time but hopefully Day 3 will allow more time to be spent on thesis.

The success ratio has completely inversed because of this whole “prepare for life after school” game! :p

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… Cat-nap time!

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