Sunday, March 3, 2013

Rockout Sessions

When I moved to Chicago almost 5 years ago, I came to the city without a car.  I knew it would be an adjustment but thankfully college had started training me to not rely on my car as my main form of transportation.   In college, I walked almost everywhere and only drove my car when I had errands to run or was going to a friends house or on a trip.   College really grew my love for walking and having the alone time with my thoughts and music as I would go to and from classes listening to music.  It was my favorite "me" time and was when I spent my time reflecting.

High School was a different story.  When you turn 16 and you have a car, you want to drive as much as humanly possible.  I remember getting in my car sometimes and having no destination in mind, all I wanted to do was to drive around and listen to music.  The freedom of being able to drive was a thrill and I have so many memories of me driving with friends or by myself during my teenage years listening to music and rocking out or even crying out my feelings (you know when I am talking about- crying about heartbreaks, etc).

So now being an urbanite without a car, whenever I have the chance to drive a friends car or my boyfriends car by myself, I take full advantage of the alone time and I have some serious rock-out sessions.  I listen to songs that are fitting to what I am feeling and I just belt the words out like nobody is watching or listening.   I even add some dance moves in my seat depending on the song that is playing on the radio or my itunes.  Embarrassing as I may say, I will even go as far as using the steering wheel as my drum set or bust out an air guitar from time to time.

For me, driving a car is rare because I ride the Chicago public transportation everyday to and from work, and of course I can't bust out singing on a bus that is packed with more people than a can of sardines.  If I did do that, people would look at my like I am looney or yell at me for being loud.  Also CTA has a rule saying no one is allowed to play music loud enough to distract other passengers (yes it is a rule).   The other times I am listening to music is either while I am at work at my desk, working out, or getting ready.   Even then, I don't feel like I can sing as loudly and as obnoxiously as I would if I was in a car by myself.   If I  am home alone and my neighbors aren't home either, then you can bet your bottom dollar I am having an awesome rock-out session by myself.  Everyone deserves to let loose and have them from time to time.

Since I embrace my rock-out sessions, I believe other people should as well.  When I am in a car, bus, or a taxi and I happen to pull up alongside a car that has a group of people or an individual singing their heart out at the wheel, instead of judging or laughing at them, I say to myself "good for you!"  They may be feeling the same freedom I feel whenever I get the chance to drive a car by myself and I say more power to you!  Embrace that time to sing your heart out to whatever songs you want and feel free to do some seating dancing as well.  

Music enriches our lives and we need to enjoy music, embrace it and rock-out whenever the moment allows us to do so.   Music was made to move us and touch our hearts and souls.  Dancing and rock-out sessions are the best ways to seize them fully and I say more power to you!

When and where do you have rockout sessions?  Any songs you particularly enjoy rocking out to the most?

Monday, January 28, 2013

What Encourages You???

As most of you know, I recently became the manager of my company's Employee Volunteer Program, which is a year-round volunteer program, that empowers our employees to donate their time and skills to make an impact in the communities we serve.  Over the course of a year and a half, I have built the program from the ground up and it is now an official program.  But this is only the beginning.  I am excited for what this program and our employees will do in the coming year.  My hope for this program is to motivate, inspire, and empower employees to make a positive change in their community and/or in the lives of others.  Our employees have so much to offer and the sky is the limit for what we can all do to give back.

I came across this video and within minutes of watching it, I was inspired.  I was inspired by the words this little boy was saying and it made me ask myself, what encourages me?  What encourages me the amazing company I work for and the amazingly-talented employees we have there.  Our employees have big hearts, time, and talents that are going to change the world.  We work to change local commerce, and we live to change the world. 

I am also encouraged by the new people I meet.  I recently met some truly inspiring individuals from The Impact Engine at Demo Day.  (Founders of Azadi and the Founder of Collaborative Group).   These are individuals who are working hard to change the lives of young girls and artisans, and they are just a few people who are changing the world and lives.   I love meeting people that are inspiring, innovative and energized.  I think it is important to expose yourself to people like this, because if we didn't, we would stay static and complacent.  I don't ever want to be complacent or uninspired. 

It's time to DO something.  So my question to you readers.  What encourages you?  What will you create to make the world awesome?  This is our time and we can make everyday better together. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Today, I Am Thankful

Today I am thankful.  I am thankful for all the wonderful people in my life amongst many other things.    Everyday I wake up and am thankful to have another day.  Another day to spend with people I love, doing activities I love, and doing a job that I love.   Sometimes it is easy to forget how truly lucky you are when the daily tasks can cloud our hearts and mind, but today, today I am thankful.   Thankful for all the wonderful things God has given me and continues to give me with each passing day. 

Today I am spending my Thanksgiving with my family and eating food that is meaningful to us.   Holidays are a time where we get to remember loved ones that have enriched our lives, create new memories with loved ones and help carry on family traditions.  One of my favorite family tradition is our big family euchre tournament.  Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents participate and our tournaments are known to go into the late hours.   

No matter what comes our way, life is all about the people we love most in this world and cherishing the time we have with them.    My life would not be complete if it wasn't for my family, friends and my boyfriend.  They make me a better person and fill my life with joy.  

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy this special day with loved ones.

What are you thankful for today?   What are some of your families traditions? 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Eye Opening Documentary- Half the Sky

In the past year, I have become a documentary and TedTalks nerd-aholic (if there is such a word).  As I continue to explore, learn and watch thought provoking documentaries (thanks to my Netflix account).

I recently watched this amazing documentary called Half the Sky when it was aired for the first time on PBS.  The documentary showcases what life is like for women across the world and how women are overcoming oppression.

The film is based off the widely acclaimed book by two renowned journalists who also happen to be husband and wife, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.   Through these stories within the book and film, Kristof and WuDunn help you see that the key to economic progress and change lies in the unleashing of every women's potential.   This film highlights how many people have helped do just that, even to the extent of risking their own lives, and conveying how we can each do our own part in helping women across the world be released from oppression.

I will admit that some scenes of this documentary were almost too hard for me to watch and I felt every emotion.  There were moments when I felt angry, sad, horror, fear, and completely disgusted.  Then there were moments when I felt motivated, empowered, and excitement for the progress women are making around the world against issues that are having an impact on their wellbeing.

One of the key takeaways I took from this film was how fortunate I am for the life I am living.  Sometimes it is easy for us to want to turn and look the other way or want to "ignore" what is really happening in the world we live in.  This film opened my eyes and has made me grow as not only as an individual but as a woman.

Learn about how you can help the Half the Sky Movement by visiting  You can volunteer or donate to any of the wonderful nonprofit organizations that are helping women overcome oppression.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stop Being a People-Pleaser

Today I received this article from a colleague in a gchat.  At first I was caught off guard as I was in deep thought in an email I was currently writing but I was also surprised by the title. "Stop Being a People-Pleaser."   When I finally read the gchat message from the colleague, which said "this is SO you," I was immediately curious to read this article and figure out why this particular article made them think this was SO me.

After reading it, I realized, this is me.  100 and 10%.  The advise in this article is exactly what I needed.   I have been battling with myself on time management, quality of work, and always being accessible to others, regardless of what priorities are on my plate at the current time.

This part of the article, struck a chord with me the most.  (I am guilty of this, more than I even realized, so thank you Elizabeth Saunders for giving me this wake up call)

"The "Yes!" Man or Woman Scenario:  
If you're an energetic, service-oriented person, your tendency is to always respond to any request by saying, "Sure, I can do that." Or when you're sitting in a meeting and someone asks for volunteers to help, you always raise your hand. Or even when no one asks for help — but you know they need it — you offer to assist. In and of itself, a strong desire to take action isn't bad. But if this attitude means that you're completely overloaded with work and unfocused on your top priorities, you are failing to keep the commitments that truly should fall under your ownership.  In many instances, there are other people who can step up. If you can't resist the urge to jump in, disconnect yourself when you're off hours so that you're not even aware of every crisis.  Even if it seems like a can't-miss opportunity, remember that there will always be other chances. There will always be more events, more conferences, more articles, even more crises to solve — more of everything. If you don't make time for what's an enduring priority for you, such as sleep, rest, or time with important people, you'll miss out on what truly matters."

Yup. That is me.  To the T.  Now all I need to do is take Elizabeth's advise to heart and to use. ASAP.

My role at work requires individuals to be contacting me via email, gchat or by the phone throughout the day, everyday.  Sometimes I have 15 gchat conversations going on at work with folks who need answers from me or have a question, while emails pile up in my inbox and my phone may have a few voicemails.  At meetings when people ask for volunteers or help, I always offer to participate.  When someone refers to me as being someone that would "know" or be good to help (I almost always say yes, without fully considering my band with first)

May be this is how a people-pleaser thinks.  Try to answer everyone and anyone's immediate needs as fast and graciously as you can and trying to fulfill every request thrown my way.  Even with my emails, I answer emails for people I know need my answers/responses the fastest, but I also don't like writing terse emails, because the last thing I want to do is come off wrong or that I am "too busy"to care.  However, spending too much time on an email is not proper use of time so can you see how this can be a little overwhelming for a "people-pleaser?"

According to this article, I need to start slotting time on my calendar where I am "not" available so I can do top priority work undisturbed.  I need to learn when to say "I am sorry I cannot help at this time" and how to protect my time and energy.  This sounds like a much better plan than me doing work after normal work hours for high priority tasks.  These tasks should be done during normal work hours.  Right?

I don't know about you, but my weekends and evenings typically consist of me working for some amount of time with my laptop on my lap, some nights more than others, because let's face it, it is my quiet time and undisturbed focus time.   Weekends are usually my time to catch up on work and unanswered emails.  I should be able to find this sort of time during regular work hours, but for the past few months, that has been almost impossible.  Now I know why.  I've been a Yes Woman for way too many requests lately and it's finally caught up and bite me in the butt.

I also recently read this article by Fast Company called "What Successful Night Owls Get Done Before Bed" and this article made me realize that may be I am just wired to be a late night worker.   My mind is focused at night and I get a second wind usually around 8/9pm and it lasts until 11:00pm/Midnight (hence why this blog post was posted so late in the evening).   Is this normal? (sure).  Is it healthy? (may be, may be not).   Does this schedule have a negative impact on the people in my life and my job? (a little).   So what do I do about it?  I can't be an "all-the-time" worker because that is definitely not healthy, but I need to make some changes so I can be a great manager and worker.

All in all, I want to have as much of a balanced workload and life as I possibly can.  I do not want email overload or work anxiety.  I want to leave work at the end of each day feeling like I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish instead of feeling like I am chasing after a car that is rolling down a hill with no hope of me ever catching up to it.

Hopefully these two articles can help me find my balance and new best practices so I can achieve my goals and surpass them.  If I can make even a few small changes, then I know I will be on the right path to continue taking myself and my career forward.

Have you ever struggled finding ways to balance your workload all the while be a people-pleaser at work?

Can you relate to either one of these articles? If so how?

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Daily Reminder

I received an email from a past community partner the other day.  I did a campaign with the Arthritis Foundation in Pittsburgh to raise money for heat therapy bears for children with juvenile arthritis.   The campaign was intended to raise awareness that children are being diagnosed with arthritis and that isn't just an "old person" disease.   In the email I received from my community partner, was a link to a blog post from a mother whose child recently received one of the SAK packages. 

The email from the community partner and the blog post are a great reminder for why my job is important.   Sometimes it can be hard to have a tangible connection to the campaign projects I am running, but this blog post is a great reminder to why me and my team continue to do what we do and that we are helping organizations receive funding for items, projects, and initiatives that don't really have a way to otherwise.  Our platform enables organizations to offer individuals a chance to make a meaningful and tangible contribution to them. 

This Mom's story is a daily reminder that I am making an impact and in the lives of others; even if it is as small as providing a heat therapy teddy bear to a little boy. 

How do you remind yourself that you are making a difference?  What keeps you motivated to keep working hard?