Sunday, August 28, 2011

Time Management: Are You Squeezing Your Priorities?

A student came up to me last week and said she was really stressed out and overwhelmed because of everything that was going on in her life – school, job, clubs, family, etc. – and that this semester she was going to have to work really hard to try to “squeeze in” her homework.

A red flag went up in my head and it sparked an epiphany. I told her immediately – “in college homework is not something to be ‘squeezed in;’ if you’re investing your time in college you must set aside a sacred block of time for homework. Homework is never something that should be done in a rushed manic fashion.”

Easier said than done, right?

The most popular topic I’m asked about is time management and how to overcome feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

Too often when life becomes overwhelming it seems students’ grades or health suffer most. And it’s no wonder as today’s college student – especially community college students I think – often have to work to pay for tuition and sometimes even to support their own families.

You’re trying to balance school, work, family, college involvement, internships, and trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life.

Yes, it is often said college can be the most leisurely time in your life, but I think for many college students, especially in these economic times, this isn’t as true as it used to be.

The truth is you do have a lot going on. And it breaks my heart when a student comes to me with a GPA that doesn’t reflect their intelligence, but instead reflects their discombobulated priorities and their struggle to meet all of the demands on their life and their time.

Time management is all about priorities. And as you get older your life will most likely only become more overwhelming and overflowing with tasks, goals, deadlines, and responsibilities.

So the earlier you develop the skills needed to manage time (i.e. your priorities) the more balanced and content your life will be.

You might actually enjoy it.

Prioritizing is about so much more than organizing your to-do list. It is about placing your values and your goals in the correct order so that when (not if) life gets overwhelming and something has to go, you aren’t “squeezing” in the wrong things.

Because “squeezing” something in means it’s at the bottom of your list. And when life gets crazy (and it will) the things on the bottom will suffer.

You can’t always do it all, and sometimes something just has to go in order for your life and priorities to remain in tact.

Because no matter what something will go (e.g. your health, your grades, your relationships) but the difference is when you learn time management you control what goes and what stays.

And if you do it right, what you let go of will give you freedom instead of grief.

While you may think “grades” should be at the top of every college student’s priority list, that is not necessarily the case. Every list is different, because it must be based on your individual values and goals.

What do you want out of life? What is really important to you? Why are you doing what you’re doing? What do you care about?

But before you think about that, start by making what I call a “time list” based solely upon what you spend the most time on to the least. Be honest with yourself because that is the only way this will help you (start with general terms like work, grades, health, happiness, leisure, friends, family, faith, money, etc.)


Now imagine your list is a giant tower on the coast and a tidal wave comes and floods the last 3 things on your list (e.g. the bottom floors). How would you feel? Would your life still be going in the direction you want it to be going? Would you be fulfilled? Would your tower still be able to stand strong and accomplish its goals?

Those waves of busyness and chaos will come into your life often and the only way to make it through is if your list is in the proper order.

Otherwise, when those waves come the important things in our lives suffer and we don’t understand why.

It’s the workaholic going through an unexpected divorce. It’s the student who spends so much time busing tables to pay his tuition that he ends up failing out of college. It’s the lovable life-of-the-party kid who’s struggling to get a job because he didn’t take classes seriously. It’s the straight-A student who falls ill because she’s not eating or sleeping well.

So what do we often do to try to keep those important things at the bottom from being washed away? We try to “squeeze” them into the top of our list at the last minute – do some quick rearranging so that everything will be okay.

But in the end those things get squished mercilessly by the unimportant that we’ve allowed to steal our time, our goals, our dreams, and our values.

Now make a list of what you really want your priorities to be. If you lost all but one, what would you want that one thing to be? That should be at the top.

What are the things that  -- if you lost them (e.g. health) -- would make the other things important to you almost impossible to achieve? What are the things that you truly value and want above all else?

There are no right or wrong answers here. They just have to be right for you. 

And you have to actually let them guide your choices.

And what goes at the bottom? It can still be things that are important to you, but they have to be things you could live without when the tidal wave comes.

Because too often in life people lose what matters to them and it is such a great tragedy when they could have prevented it.

Too often bright and talented students whose gifts we need in the world aren’t able to rise above because the demands of life keep washing them away.

Are you squeezing anything truly important in your life? Rearrange now and don’t ever try to squeeze because it doesn’t work.

 And when you feel like you just don’t have enough time to do it all – you probably don’t.

So don’t wait for the tidal waves to erode your life. Take control, put everything important at the top, and don’t be afraid to wash some things away yourself.  

Time management is a constant process as your life ebbs and flows.  And it is so much more than to-do lists, planners, and calendars. 

It is about investing your time and energy in what really matters -- in what will really yield you the results you want for your life and in what will sustain you to do and be what is truly important to you.

Because in the end, it’s not really about managing time. It’s about managing our lives to be what we want them to be, and guarding against the constant climb of the unimportant.

You can have it all. You just can’t do it all. The key - is defining your “all.”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weekend 4Cast: Special Edition

Okay so "special edition" is code for "I completely forgot to write the Weekend 4Cast" (I usually write it Wed night) because I was so jazzed about the amazing day at work I had watching community college students put on an incredible club recruitment event.

So today I leave you with the reminder that community college students are INCREDIBLE people and our world needs them to succeed and persist to graduation because we need their talents, their skills, their life experiences, and their passion.

Don't let anything stand in your way of getting your degree. The world needs you.

And for those of you who haven't seen it yet, check out my article on USA TODAY College and please "like" and share :) :  "Professional means 'dressy'....right?"

Have a GREAT Weekend.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Jump In: The Impact of Your First Week

For many college students today marks the first week of classes. And for some, it’s time to dust off the backpack and the brain and begin a new year.

It’s easy to start by just dipping your toes in – not getting enough sleep the night before, zoning out as the professor reviews the syllabus, and kind of just skimming by that first week as a slow acclimation.

But the truth is – the way you start your first week of class will determine your grade at the end of the semester.

Have you ever swam in an ice cold spring or river? One time I went white-water rafting in Tennessee and the 50-degree water felt like daggers. Slowly wading from the shallow water to the deep to climb into the raft was painful. And getting splashed by annoying teenage boys was pure torture.

Jumping in the river from a rope swing, however, was really fun. I didn’t have as much time to dwell on the icy shock. Once I jumped in I began to have a great time.

College is very much like that river. Getting back into the routine of class, studying, and exams can be daunting. But it is not something to ease into, to expect to just happen.

You have to jump right in.  Do a swan dive, a cannon ball, a belly flop, or whatever you want, just go full force and don’t wait for the slow descent into stress or the shocking splash of an exam.

So how do you jump in?

You remember that this first week will determine your grade. You go in with vigor, with enthusiasm, and with the belief that you are successful and that you are going to get straight A’s.

You read the syllabus thoroughly. You mark in your planner when assignments and tests are going to be due. You set phone/calendar alarms (my fav is google calendar) to remind you of important due dates. You sit in the front of the class. You make friends in the first week.

You organize study groups. You scan the entire textbook. You get ahead on the first assignment.

You get to know the professor. You organize your binders, folders, backpack and make sure you have everything you need. You go to a club meeting, SGA, and/or a campus event. You wear nice outfits (e.g. not pajamas).

You go to the library.

Jump in.

College is a lot of work. But it is work that will pay off. And like jumping into that river – it can actually be a lot of fun. But what isn’t fun is being stressed and overwhelmed, being lonely, or feeling like you’re just not smart enough to get the grades you want.

The truth is you are smart enough. You control your grades.  And the way you approach this first week can prevent all of the stressors that often overwhelm college students as the semester progresses.

No matter what barriers you may face in pursuing your education, know and feel confident that you control your attitude and the effort you put forth.

And the perseverance and confidence you derive from jumping in will stay with you long after you receive your diploma.

In many ways I wish I was you right now. There was nothing I loved more than the first days of classes. Embrace them. Appreciate them. And remember that they can help you reach the goals you have for your life.

Success does not come to those who timidly, fearfully, or apathetically wade in the shallow waters. It comes to those who jump in with everything they've got. And if you’re the kind of person who reads a blog like this to the end, then I know you’re a jumper.

Thank you for reading and have an amazing first week :)

To read more about Isa's personal story how you can build relationships to: make positive friends, be more successful in academics and work, find the right people to connect with, and access the hidden job market, grab a FREE e-copy of the first chapter of Community College Success: How to Finish with Friends, Scholarships, Internships, and the Career of Your Dreams! Claim your free copy on the Facebook page!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Weekend 4Cast: do you want to find a job that helps people?

*Weekend 4Cast*
The 4 things I'm dying to tell you that can't wait until Monday

1 – Inspiring Person: Erica – 
Erica was the President of the SGA that I advised when I first started working as a Student Life Coordinator and I will never forget her because she will always be the first President I ever advised. She is about to graduate and is working a part-time job at the college and we stopped to talk for a moment when I was walking up the stairs to my office. And all of a sudden I realized wow, I’m not talking to one of “my students” (as I endearingly like to call them) I’m practically talking to a peer. 
I thought of that girl I met over a year ago and the woman that I talked to yesterday. Erica is the kind of student who takes EVERY piece of advice and implements it and has grown up and matured so much in only 1 year. So what can you learn from Erica? Be the president of something. Listen to your advisers/mentors and take their advice – not only will you grow but they will love you for it and will sing your praises any time you need a recommendation letter or a job reference. Erica inspires me to remember we can always grow and improve - if we want to. 

2 – Money: Working in College – 
So many students come to my office struggling with their grades because they are so busy working. Meanwhile scholarships are going unclaimed. If you truly dedicate yourself you can get paid to go to college and actually enjoy the experience. Read all about how in my free gift in the top right hand corner of this blog. It’s going to be changing soon so if you haven’t gotten it yet don’t miss out :)  

3 – Books: “I want to help people” 
I have had dozens of students come into my office and say “I don’t know what I want to do for my career, I just know I want to help people.” I think something admirable about many in this generation is that they do really want their careers to matter – to them and to others. But with so many choices and a world that seems to make you choose between making lots of money in business or making very little in non-profit or education it can feel daunting. Work On Purpose by Lara Galinsky profiles college students just like you in their journey towards mapping out their path to help people in their jobs. I can’t put it down.

4 –Fashion: Mixing Patterns – 
So I slept in one morning and was rushing to get dressed. I put on one of my favorite butterfly-patterned whimsical silk tops and grabbed the first sweater I could find  - a conservative black and white cardigan. I checked real quick in the mirror and thought I was going to look like a mis-matched mess but it ended up looking kinda cool. 

Yes I was so excited by the pattern mix I took a picture 2 share on Weekend 4Cast ;)
To offset the different patterns/styles I didn’t wear any jewelry and put on a pair of tan pumps. As silly as that seems it inspired me that day. And the next few days I started mixing  up patterns and colors and felt like I had a brand new wardrobe. Try it and you’ll see. The key is stick to two mixed patterns/colors and keep everything else neutral.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Do You Wear a Backpack?

I was a commuter student all 4 years of college and - especially when I transferred to a university – I was known as the girl with the really big bag. 

Why did I carry such a huge Marry-Poppins type quilted cloth bag?

A) It was cute.
B) I had to bring multiple books and materials every day since in between classes I often did HW for other classes.
C) I also packed my lunch every day and needed space for that
D)   I needed room for my laptop

When you don’t have a dorm you’re not exactly rolling out of bed, grabbing the book you need for the next class and then heading off to class with a book and a folder, you need stuff – lots of stuff. 

My biggest secret to getting straight A’s in college as a commuter student was scheduling my classes far apart so I would spend extra time in the library getting my homework done (room/apartment = sleep and fun. Not a good place for HW). But in order to do that I needed materials for all of my classes on me at all times.

I wish I would have known what I am about to tell you now. Because while my cloth bag was big and cute and held everything I needed, it:
A)   Made me stick out like a crazy bag lady
B)   Made my shoulders hurt constantly
C)   Made it really difficult to find stuff because it was all floating around in one big bag
D)   Wasn’t upright and so it often crumpled papers/folders

This may seem incredibly crazy and stupid, but for some reason I stopped wearing backpacks after middle school. In high school I started using totes and messenger backs and so for some reason in college getting a backpack never occurred to me.

So recently Samsonite sent me one of their new tectonic backpacks to try out and review on the blog (and first of all, yes, that is so cool!  I’m officially a blog celebrity getting SWAG. The only problem is now I have a huge head and walk around telling my husband to watch out because I may start traveling the world going to red-carpet events now that I’m so legit ;). If you know anyone who works for Banana Republic, Oreos, or Hawaiian Airlines please let them know I’d be happy to accept their products and tell everyone on my blog how amazing they are).

And at first I was like - this is awesome I can't believe I'm getting a free backpack, and then I was like...hmmm....I never really wear back packs. And then it arrived on my doorstep in the mail and when I opened it up I immediately thought:


Seriously. You have no idea.

I would never share anything on this blog that I didn’t 100% believe in, and this backpack literally rocked my socks off. To put it in perspective, when I heard I was getting a free backpack I thought well I’ll try it out and then give it away because I’m not really a backpack person.

But all it took is me gliding the smooth zipper that felt like it would last 100 years and looking into all the compartments and feeling inside the solid laptop case that’s in the back pocket and thinking about how much the designer messenger bag I bought for my laptop kills my shoulders to have me 100% COMPLETLEY IN LOVE with this backpack.

In order to try it out I decided to start doing my Masters homework during my lunch break at work. So I stuffed the backpack with my books, folders, papers, water bottle, lunch, pens, laptop, laptop charger, and headphones and headed out the door for a few days.

It was magic.

The back of the backpack is padded so it is so comfortable. And the zippers are literally a dream to open and close. I can’t quite explain this  but it was the first thing I noticed and I seriously love opening and closing this backpack.

It has so many compartments so all of my little things stayed in place and it was so easy for me to quickly retrieve something I needed.

And even carrying a heavy laptop and books did not feel like a burden in this thing. The laptop sleeve inside is so secure that I feel like I could throw the backpack across the room and my laptop would be fine.

Being organized in school is more important than you think. When you can easily find your stuff, have what you need to bring everything you need, and know where everything is at any given time, it can increase your confidence and make you feel more prepared. 

Think about your first days of school when you were younger. I can so clearly remember putting my new box of freshly sharpened colored pencils in my Lion King backpack.Why should that feeling change in college?

Find a backpack you LOVE and that will LAST all 4 years. Hint: THIS IS THE ONE!

You can buy this backpack online in a few different colors for 50% off right now (It’s regularly $120…which is still totally worth it for this kind of backpack if you use it all 4 years). It probably won't be $53.99 for long so buy it now if you can :)

I’m a pretty girly person but I have to tell you I am in love with the backpack look. It comes in a few different colors so you can get one that has a bit more flare to it, (I like the blue one) but I have to say I really do love the black one. It goes with everything and has the classic and trusted Samsonite logo in this great orangey/coral color that I really like.

And when I wear it I kind of feel like “ya, I’m cute and girly and I wear a backpack because I’m cool and rugged too.”

Okay so this obviously wasn’t me in college but I wish it had been!

So now I’ll be using this incredible backpack any chance I get. It’s come in handy a lot at work with all of the travel and supplies we use. And I know it’s going to change my life next time I travel and won’t have to kill my shoulder with my laptop bag.

I highly recommend this backpack. It will change your life and be your best friend and help you stay organized even if you’re not an organized person and keep your back from hurting and hug you all the time and help you get better grades and keep your electronics safe and make you look cool.

And if you ever meet up with me for anything, I’ll be the girl with the awesome no-nonsense magical Samsonite Tectonic backpack.

Samsonite has officially converted me into a backpack lover, and I will never go back ;)

To read more about Isa's personal story how you can build relationships to: make positive friends, be more successful in academics and work, find the right people to connect with, and access the hidden job market, grab a FREE e-copy of the first chapter of Community College Success: How to Finish with Friends, Scholarships, Internships, and the Career of Your Dreams! Claim your free copy on the Facebook page!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Will Your Choices in College Define the Rest of Your Life?

Will your choices in college define the rest of your life?


And no.

I've been out of college a little over 2 years now and am coming upon the last 10 months of my M.Ed, and am wondering what the future holds. There are a billion things I want to do and try; and sometimes I feel scared that I'm going to take a wrong step, that somehow I may already have and don't even know it yet. Constant questioning. Fear. Wondering. How will this define me?

I find I have a lot in common with students I see every day who express similar anxieties. Specifically those surrounding The Dreaded College Major Choice. The choice that we're told defines our career options, our salary options, our future. 

And in many ways, yes, it does. If you get a degree in nursing it will be hard to get a job as an engineer if your interests suddenly change. But does that mean if you get a degree in nursing and realize you want to be an engineer that it's impossible?


We're so concerned with finding the quickest path, the easiest journey, that it's so easy forget the importance of today - of the journey itself. The trials are what make people interesting. And it seems almost every person I've ever met or read about who has been successful had to go through a lot of pain, confusion, failure, and anxiety along the way. In hindsight it sometimes seems others' paths were laid out for them all along. But in reality, it takes a lot of work, risk, and faith. 

And sometimes you're jumping blindly. Sometimes you may not be 100% sure that this is the major for you. And yes, if you change your mind that may mean going back to school or taking a big risk. But is that the worst thing in the world?

If you figure it out later in life isn't that better than never figuring it out at all? 

Does it mean that all that time before was just a "waste?"

My favorite bakery is run by a former electrical engineer. She loves her bakery but doesn't see her years in electrical engineering as a waste of time. She embraces everything she's done in her life and appreciates the experiences.

It's easy to feel like we are an English major or we are a pre-med student. I used always say "I am [insert current job here]" and have now tried to catch myself and say instead "I work as [insert current job here]." When you start to feel like the major you choose or the job you're in is who you are it can subtly start to make you feel like you're stuck and that what you've chosen is now who you are and there is no way out. 

Never were these doubts more present in my life than when I tried to find a job after college. I felt like that first job I chose would define me for the rest of my life. And I felt like if I didn't get a job that I wanted to define my life I would be perceived as a failure. 

And then one day I stumbled across a quote from Walt Disney - "Live the adventure."

And all of a sudden, my paradigm shifted. All of a sudden, the destination, the "career path," didn't seem that important. I realized that careers are ever-changing, ever-growing, a product of a rapidly transforming society and economy, and thus how I fit into that says nothing about who I am. I may major in this, try that, explore this, fail at that, succeed at this, and as long as I'm enjoying the adventure and constantly moving forward, even if I can't see where I'm going next, I'm going to be okay.

I think if we put too much stock in particular majors and career ladders we lose the child-like curiosity of exploring the world like a great adventure. Sometimes there's sinking sand and wild beasts lurking in a corner, but when we've defeated them we typically learn something, and grow closer. 

So don't get me wrong, career centers are one of the best resources on your college campus so run there on your first week and try to figure what the best major for you is and what kinds of jobs you think you'll like. But do it like an explorer, like an adventurer, excitedly moving forward while enjoying the day, the class, the friends, the experiences. 

Because I think the most important choice you will make in college is your attitude. Anxiety, frustration, apathy, cynicism, resentment, or that desire just to "get through it" won't get you where you want to go. Choose to be fully present in your college experience. Enjoy each class. Enjoy the people you meet. Remember in the grand scheme of our inequitable world that education is privilege. And while of course it won't always be fun and certainly won't always be easy, it is the struggles that often teach us the most.

And remember that you can always change your mind. Because you will change. And that is not only okay, it's kind of wonderful.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Weekend 4Cast: Videos!

So apparently all that travel has given my system a huge kick in the butt and I am down for the count sick. Ugh! But I can't leave you with nothing - so today's Weekend 4Cast features 4 videos that I love for a variety of reasons. Choose your favorite or watch all 4 =)

* Weekend 4Cast *
The 4 things I'm dying to share with you that can't wait until Monday

1- Newest Taylor Swift Video-
Taylor Swift just released her new video Sparks Fly, which features live scenes from her recent tour (i.e. the concert I wrote about in What a 9th Grade Couple Taught me at a Taylor Swift Concert). I find I rarely watch music videos now but when I do they always make me feel happy. 

2- The Story- is an incredible website created by two young and dedicated social entrepreneurs who left high paying jobs to create this service just for you. What are you waiting for? I've recently mentored two college students on the site and it has been amazing. Check out the video that shares their story and sign up to be a mentor or mentee.

3- Cinderella Stories - 
You know those cinderella stories I was talking about in Monday's post? They are even better coming from the source themselves. Hear some of their incredible stories. 

4- Inspring Person-Chandeerah Davis
For this video of the talented slam poet Chandeerah courageously sharing her story from gunshots to "this stage"  at the recent JKC talent show head straight to the Community College Success Facebook page

Enjoy and I'll see you on Monday. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

A Cinderella Story

I just returned from the annual Jack Kent Cooke Foundation conference (the Foundation that awarded me $110,000 to complete my B.A and M.Ed) and am feeling – as I often do – renewed.

Have you ever had a conversation where you felt so good, so connected, so invigorated that you stayed up all night talking, and in the morning you felt ready to conquer the world?

 That is what the Jack Kent Cooke conference is like.
Me, Tatiana, and Daniel (3 of 6 JKC Scholars from the same community college) :)
On the bus ride back from this incredible weekend to the airport I found myself thinking about Cinderella.

There is something truly engaging and inspiring about the “Cinderella story” – I’ll never forget the first time I heard the phrase that I thought was reserved for glass slippers on ESPN. There is something thrilling about seeing an underdog overcome the odds. Become more than societal expectation.

That is what the Jack Kent Cooke Scholars are like.

What is inspiring about being in the presence of these people is that there is something inherently interesting about Cinderellas who believed their lives would be spent cleaning floors only to learn there was much more in store. And these kinds of Cinderellas don’t live high on a tower enjoying their good fortune and success.

They return to their former lives, their former communities, and help others trade aprons for glass slippers.

Community colleges are filled with Cinderella stories; those who see community college for the infinite open door that it is – and not a sign of failure -  and rise above unbelievable hardships and circumstances to make more of their dreams.

There are common themes among these stories – lessons and insights that shape me every time I meet again with this group of Jack Kent Cookerellas.  And I want to share them with you. Because the biggest secret of all is:  you don’t need a huge scholarship or a fairy godmother to rise above.

Ask any Jack Kent Cooke scholar and they’ll tell you while (of course) the amount of money was truly life changing, the biggest impact the Foundation has had on their lives is the empowerment we all felt the moment someone told us we were a Jack Kent Cooke scholar.

It was the moment someone told us that they believed our lives and our dreams were worthwhile.

The moment we felt we could go farther than we (or anyone else) ever thought possible.

The moment a large weight of self-doubt most of us didn’t even know we carried was lifted from our shoulders and suddenly we were standing up straighter. 

The moment we felt like we mattered.

So I’m here to tell you today that you matter. I wish I could give you the $110,000 to prove it. But it’s not all about the money. Money alone will never get us there. It is the passion. The investment of money into someone who knows who they are and what they want to achieve. If you become that person, the resources you need will come. I promise.

To get started, below are the 3 key elements you need to move towards your goals that I have learned over the years from staying up way too late talking to Jack Kent Cooke Scholars:

1.Believe in your whole story
In order to truly believe in yourself I think you have to believe and value your entire story. Something powerful happens when you dig deep into your past, present, and honestly decide how that impacts your future. 

Own the pain, the heartache, the trials, and remind yourself that is what makes a Cinderella story so interesting. You have a story to tell, and what you’ve overcome should be worn as a badge of honor that drives you forward. And once you proudly own your story – tell it often. Because in our world people are too quiet about their pain, which often causes so many to feel like they are completely alone.

Question 2 ask: What are the defining moments in your life that make you who you are today?

2.Discover your passion(s)
Often when you truly think about your story passions will emerge from your experiences. Hold tight to all of your passions and interests and don’t let the world taint them or let that voice in your head tell you that your interests are not worthwhile. You will achieve so much more if you go in a direction that invigorates you than if you force yourself down any other path that is not your own. 

Action 2 take: write down everything you’re interested in/passionate about  without thinking. Just write without judgment, and see what you come up with.  (and if you’re just not sure what you’re passionate about yet, start discovering by reading, trying out new classes, volunteering, joining clubs, and keep your mind open to what heightens your senses, your creativity, and your energy).

3.Match your story & your passion with your top skills
What do people compliment you on? What classes have you always naturally excelled at? What kinds of tasks do you love to do? If you don’t know, go to your career center ASAP and take all of their career and skills tests. Analyze yourself in clubs and jobs and try to figure out what you’re really good at.

Really think about what people compliment you on. Where do you receive the best feedback?

Once you figure that out, the key is matching those skills with your passions and your story/confidence. Once you do that, your life will make a difference in the world beyond your wildest imagination.

Think Big. Dream Big. Jack Kent Cooke. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Weekend 4Cast: Who inspires me, why not to skip breakfast, why blazers are magic, and what book I couldn't put down in Hawaii

* Weekend 4Cast *
The 4 things I'm dying to share with you that can't wait until Monday.

1 -  Inspiring Person: Kristin Harmel - 
I realized today how often other people inspire me. The core of the book I am writing was inspired by how much I learned and succeeded based on learning and meeting other successful people. Think about who you surround yourself with. Do they inspire you? Challenge you?

Today' inspiring person of the week is Kristin Harmel, talented writer and author. I know I mentioned her in a previous post a few months ago, but being in Hawaii these past 2 weeks ignited my yearning and dream to eventually be a full time writer and speaker. It seems so lofty and so often out of reach, but Kristin Harmel is someone who is making it as a full time writer and just knowing her helps me believe it is possible. 

She writes wonderful fiction novels and travels to places like France for a month to research a book. Both the reality of her day to day and the attitude, passion, and vigor with which she approaches her work inspires me whenever I feel doubtful. 

2 - Health: Are you a Breakfast Skipper? - 
So I'm no expert but the more I've learned about food and how connected it is to so much of our health the more I try to do my best to try to eat healthy. So much of it is just about knowledge, and sadly so much of it seems connected to wealth (have you seen the price of organic cereal?!). 

However, I think investing in your day to day function and long term health is vital, yet so often forgotten. How many times do you stay up all night for a test on energy drinks and candy bars? How often do you feel sick that day or a few days later? Not good.

And in addition to skipping sleep, something else I see most college students skip - breakfast. No matter how many times we were told "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" when we were young it doesn't seem to ever sink in. I too sunk into the "I'm not hungry in the morning" routine in early high school. However as soon as I changed the habit I saw a huge difference. 

My favorite healthy morning energy booster and full nutritional blast? Spiru-tein. Just get one of those 1 serving blenders from Target and buy a can of Spiru-tein for $16 online and at 17 servings a can you're having an awesome, quick, easy, delicious, nutritional breakfast for less than $1/day + cost of milk (I'm slightly lactose intolerant so my fav is almond milk). 

3 - Fashion: Blazers -
I first fell in love when I found a blazer that fit me off the rack from Gap right before my first job. My second affair was with a cotton navy blazer from Banana Republic (pictured right). Neither were cheap but I wear them almost every other day and they have become staple pieces to my wardrobe. 

Blazers are magic because you can even put them over a T-shirt and still create a professional look. Invest in one asap (it can take a while to find one that fits) and you'll feel like a rockstar at your next classroom presentation, job interview, or night out. 

My favorite stores where I found blazers, from least expensive to investment pieces, are H&M, Kohl's, Express, Gap, and Banana Republic. (Guys I've linked to the ladies' blazers only because guys' blazers are so much easier to find than women's - but you should def. get one too if you haven't already). 

4 - Books: Douglas Kennedy - 
Did you ever see the movie Pursuit of Happiness? It was based on a book by one of my new favorite authors, Douglas Kennedy. I picked up his fiction book Leaving the World randomly while perusing the library and have since read almost all his books as I've fallen in love with his introspective characters, the tragedies they find themselves in, and how they make sense of their lives and the world through their trials. 

I always walk away with a new insight into the world and a new phrase that I savor like fresh strawberries: "It's all random. Just as space is blue. And birds fly through it."

I realize I go through stages in what kinds of books I like to read and this past year I've been obsessed with books with sprinkles of words that I need a dictionary for, quick insights into the nuances of our society and its enigmas, and first person narrators who are self aware, and unassumingly poetic while navigating the muddy waters of adulthood. 

If you're in a reading stage like me than you'll love almost everything by Douglas Kennedy.  When I finished 2 of his books in Hawaii I literally couldn't read anything for the next 3 days because nothing was as good as what I had just put down. (and if you have any  book recommendations for me PLEASE send them my way :)

Have a great weekend and I'll see you on Monday with lots of inspiration from Hawaii and the Jack Kent Cooke Conference this weekend :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How to Start Your Own Blog (special article I wrote for

I'm back from Kauai and blog will be back starting with Weekend 4Cast this Thurs :)

I want to quickly share with you the article I wrote for (the official blog of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars) that posted while I was away. Check it out if you're thinking about starting your own. The benefits may surprise you. They still surprise me every day. 

*And be on the lookout sometime in late August/early September I will have another article up on USA Today College: "Professional means 'dressy'....right?" about how to avoid the worst mistakes interns/new employees make when it comes to professional dress.