Category Archives: Current Events

Upskilling Season

I’ve mentioned in other posts that I’m currently working on my co-active coaching credential. Phase one was attending five three-day in person classes. Now during certification, I meet weekly for 90 minutes with my pod for 25 weeks straight. There’s homework, I’m actively coaching no less than five clients and have individual supervision. It’s amazingly powerful and some days overwhelming. Yet, I know it’s 100% what I’m designed to do.

I’ve been calling certification upskilling season because I will finish and this season will be over. I struggle at times to see the big picture and have to remind myself that sacrifices now will be worth it tenfold later. When you’re in the middle of the marathon, it can be hard to see the finish line.

During this season, I’ve been careful about what to say yes to personally and professionally as I only have so much capacity. So when my friend invited me to the Women in Non-profit Leadership Conference, I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure how the content would be applicable and wondered if it was worth six hours of my time, a precious commodity.

After some debate, my curiosity beat out my uncertainty and spending time with a friend wouldn’t suck either. I showed up as my authentic self, all in, ready to learn and boy did I. Here are a few of the highlights that I would have missed if I didn’t consciously choose to embrace upskilling season.

  • The first keynote, Sue Fulton shared that there’s no excuse for not planning for success; it’s typically harder to manage in non-profits that failure
  • During the fundraising strategies panel, the resounding message was the brand of a company/campaign must align to its mission.
  • The most impact session for me was the breakout about building a diverse board, led by Sulaiman Rahman. So much so that I have to share two takeaways (among many): 1) What ideas are being passed down that need to be challenged? 2) You can disagree with an idea but that doesn’t mean you disagree with the person. The picture above was also shared in the session…still thinking about it.
  • The Building Coalitions and Partnerships panel over lunch featured Diane Cornman-Levy from Women’s Way, who highlighted that when you invest in women, you then invest in the community. Can I get an amen for that?!
  • We ended the day with Deesha Dyer, who I definitely have a girl crush one! She was so relatable and shared tons of great nuggets. She talked about her experience of working for the Obamas and how they expected more from her than she thought she was capable of. It struck me that we all need mentors like that and should mentor that way too.

I’m definitely in upskilling season right now, where I’m trying to absorb as much as possible to become a more well rounded coach, professional and person. This season is more intense and requires more focus than being naturally curious and wanting to learn. My experience at WINPL shows that saying yes to the right upskilling will always serve me (and you) well.

Guiding Intentions for 2019

Since we’re mid-way[!] through the first month of 2019, it’s time to put my intentions for the year out into the universe. As I shared last year, I prefer intentions over resolutions as the new year begins.

Last year, my words were ease, kindness and ownership. I feel like I did a relatively good job living by these words. I definitely learned to flow more with the universe, down to the mundane daily tasks that sometimes shift. Kindness when annoyed or stressed is for sure harder. I’m learning to focus on the positive and embed more random acts of kindness, like holding the door, into each day. Ownership was likely the hardest; I still react when triggered but I’m better at articulating what I’m feeling and why I was triggered.

Now for my words of 2019:

  • Connection: I’m all about building relationships and connecting people so at the surface, this seems fairly simple. I am challenging myself to meaningfully connect with people who are different from me or who I have a strained relationship with. It’s harder to be present with someone who challenges you.
  • Conviction: This might look similar to ownership, which was all about owning up to my big emotions. Conviction is about values and purpose – knowing who I am, what I stand for and holding true to that even when challenged. There’s that word again…challenged.
  • Calmness: I’m noticing more and more that I need crave quiet reflection time. Stillness brings peace and a settled feeling. I plan to embed calmness and silence into my nightly routine and blocked time on my calendar each Sunday for reflection time.

There’s something empowering about sharing my intentions with the world. Even writing them in your journal can help. My super talented friend Lizzy Russinko creates beautiful prints with people’s words of the year. While you can no longer submit words to her, perhaps yours is included in this year’s print. If not, I encourage you to share your intention for 2019. It can be words, a phrase or even a specific color. Having something to guide your year gives you momentum.

Please fill up the comments with your 2019 intentions too!

F.E.A.R

Face Everything And Run

OR

Face Everything And Rise

I let out a long exhale before I sat down to write this post. This topic is one I’ve been wanting to write about for some time and yet, I’ve been apprehensive, worried about people’s reactions. Well, I guess it’s time to face that fear 😉

Fear can be paralyzing, causing time to almost stand still as you watch your life pass before your eyes. It can also lead to unnecessary arguments, violence and acting without thinking. I’ve experienced how suffocating fear can be. For me, I’ve always been fearful of events I can’t control and situations I’ve seen other people in.

Money is a perpetual fear of mine – not having enough, losing my source of income, the list continues. Why? Because I’ve watched people lose it all and because it was so devastating, they can’t recover and are crippled by the aftershocks. On days when it becomes particularly difficult, I remember that I’m not those people. I’m an entirely different person, with different circumstances and different goals. It’s doesn’t mean I go charge up my credit cards but it does mean I can enjoy the benefits of working hard.

Fear of the unknown is also a challenge for me. Something as little as not knowing travel plans can cause an anxiety spike. Despite being an extrovert, social situations can cause tension. When I start a new relationship, whether it be at work or personally, I’m always fearful of not knowing how people will reaction or respond. It’s debilitating and I spend hours convincing myself of alternatives.

And yet, I forge on. Why? How? Well, for starters, being full of fear is no way to live. Unless you’re in inherit danger, there’s no need for it. It’s downright bad for your health. Life is so much more enjoyable when you let go and go for it versus standing on the sidelines. Sometimes, you will get feedback on how to change an approach or your tone. That’s okay! It’s the only way you’ll learn how to do it better next time.

fearSome of the most profound relationships in my life are with people who look, sound and think differently than I do. Yes, I was fearful when these relationships were starting out because I didn’t know. There are still days when I’ll rewrite a text message because I’m anxious about how it will land. Well guess what?! These people are now my friends, they’ll tell me if it doesn’t land and we’ll move on. We all assume positive intent and know it’s okay to disagree.

Could we all commit to operate with less fear and more understanding? Less judgement and more kindness? A lot of issues I see in the world today are because of fear. Fear of not knowing. I challenge you to override your fear of the unknown and be curious about that someone who operates differently. You won’t know unless you try.

40 Days of Kindness

I’m typing this as I sit in Newark airport waiting for a friend. An elderly woman with several shopping bags sat next to me and plugged her phone in. She then laid out a blanket and I had a choice: to assume positive intent or expect the worst. And then she took out her Bible and began to pray. I see you, universe.

The world we live in is one where you have to be on guard. I took the train into the airport and walked right into the baggage area. No security. I’ve literally been thinking about this since it happened last week.

choose kindSo how do you do both? How do you stay vigilant, but kind? How do you not rush to judgements but also know when to trust your gut. I don’t know. And it’s the people who are the most threatening that need the most kindness. Look at the mass shootings over the last few years. These shooters are the ones we as a society missed. They fell through the cracks. The majority had some type of documented mental illness or behavioral issue. I’m not saying just be nice to someone and their illness magically goes away. But listening, caring and even a simple smile can change the trajectory of someone’s day.

What if they don’t want your kindness?! I smile at people on the subway and they look at me like I’m crazy likely because no one has ever done that to them before. Behavior is learned. If you never experienced kindness, or love, or encouragement or empathy before, how are you supposed to react? We as the human population have to get better at talking to people who are different from us. Different does not only mean look different, but have different experiences, beliefs and values.

Given it’s Lent and like the good Catholic girl I am, I’ve really been thinking about what should I do more of for the next 40 days. I’m not a fan of giving something up, but rather would want to take action.  So, I am committing to being more kind, to show more understanding, especially to those closest to me. It’s interesting that I can smile at strangers and strike up conversations, but I don’t do that with those in my inner circle. Something to ponder for the next 40 days.

I’m really interested on people’s perspective here. There’s such a fine line given the world we live in today. Please share your thoughts respectfully in the comments section.

everyone is fighting a battle

 

Speak Your Truth…Even If Your Voice Shakes

What’s your truth? That’s a big question that could be answered in so many ways. No matter what, it’s personal, whether it includes your values, experiences or mission. And when someone speaks their real, authentic truth, it’s undeniable.

Golden Globes tweetWhile watching the Golden Globes a few weeks ago, I tweeted part of Oprah’s acceptance speech (see photo to the left). Somehow, a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer found my tweet and wanted to interview me. She asked me a few questions that got me thinking: How do you verify someone’s truth?

You listen, like put the phone down, look someone in the eye listening.

We live in a world where anyone can jump on any bandwagon. Agree with a tweet from a celebrity? Just retweet it. Anyone can hide behind a hashtag. We also move a million miles an hour, multitasking whenever possible as to cram an extra six things into our day. We sacrifice relationships, eating, sleeping – the basic human necessities, but what happens when you stop and listen?

You learn fact from fiction. When you stop and have a conversation with someone, you build trust. Over time, that trust allows the other person to share the most imitate details of their life. Their truth. Of course, this type of relationship building takes time. But, I promise, it will happen.

Look at the U.S. Women’s Gymnastic team, as an example. If you watched their testimonies, you could see the vulnerability and the rawness of their emotions. Over 140 women banded together and as one shared, more shared. That’s the power in telling your story, in sharing your truth, even when your voice shakes.

Stop. Listen. Take every conversation and interaction in. And share your truth – your unapologetic, emotional truth. Have an opinion, think for yourself and if you would defend it in court, by all means, retweet it.

When we slow down and really hear people’s stories, we help to create a culture where people feel comfortable sharing. A culture of inclusiveness, where all stories are valued, where little girls see how powerful they can become when they step into their truth. Create THAT culture and I’m confident we’ll have less women waiting 20 years to report their harassment or abuse.

As women, sometimes, our voices aren’t always heard. I challenge you to make your presence known: Share an opposing perspective (respectfully), challenge the normal way of doing things, ask for what you need and want. Also, remember, there are men out there who support us. Just because some men harass and abuse does not mean all men harass and abuse.

Speak your truth, even if you voice shakes. Over time, you’ll become steady.

Speak your truth

 

Standing in the Sun

Happy International Day of the Girl! This post felt right to share today.

Last week, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. I got to be in the same room as female icons like Shonda Rhimes, Carla Harris, Brene Brown and Michelle Obama, to name a few. I can’t really put into words what it was like to listen to these women. I left feeling inspired, motivated and humbled.

Shonda

Yes, that’s Shonda signing my book

Every single speaker (male or female) at the conference mentioned self-care, self-confidence and celebration of self! Carla Harris and Brene Brown really drove home these points (Google them right now). Carla’s opening keynote set the tone for the day: “Do not dim your light for someone else’s convenience, celebrate your successes, don’t hide them.” Later in the afternoon, Brene Brown reminded us that we’ll never belong if we don’t believe we deserve to. She highlighted qualities like bravery, authenticity and vulnerability as ones that will help women have a seat at the table. Sidenote: If you haven’t seen Brene’s TedTalk on vulnerability, stop reading and watch it now. This woman is the best therapist I’ve ever had and we’ve never met!

I felt the conference and my head was spinning. So many thoughts. But there was one word that kept coming up for me: WHY?! Why do we need powerful women shouting messages about owning your power and finding your authentic voice? Why do we as women undermine our intelligence, shrink into the background and forget that we have this utterly brilliant power inside of us. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?!

I don’t know exactly why. But I do know more women fit the bill for the above then not. Michelle Obama talked about how important it is to give girls a voice from a young age, to let them be heard and to respect them. Both parents need to do this, not just moms. So, if I use myself as an example, I had parents who did this AND a mom who taught me the words to ‘You Don’t Own Me’ by age 7. So what gives?

The female brains are wired differently or at least that’s my hypothesis. We have to rewire our brain and the younger we start, the better we’ll be. So how? Stand in the sun. Standing in the sun is a phrase I’m borrowing from the Shonda Rhimes’ show Scandal. In short, Olivia Pope is going to live on an island with the super handsome Jake Ballard. She’s going to stand in the sun without a care in the world.

I’d like to offer that we women need to stand in the sun every single day. Alone. In our power all along power. You stand in that sun, you feel the rays hit your face and feel how empowering it is. Obviously, not every day will be sunny. You will have moments of darkness. But bring yourself back. Keep reminders of moments when you felt your own greatness. When you nailed a presentation. Or when you tried a new class at the gym. Whatever, wherever, whenever. Post pictures of these moments. Write ‘Own it rockstar’ on your bathroom mirror. Find a way to keep it top of mind.

You will get feedback, that’s part of life. It’s necessary for growth, especially in a professional setting. Take it, action on it and move on. Feedback doesn’t mean you’re broken, see it as an opportunity to increase your power. You are capable, strong, fierce and wonderful, exactly how you are right this moment.

My birthday was last month and every September, I think about how I want the next year to look. Lots of introspection and journaling occur usually while listening to my Girl Power playlist. I am taking this year to stand in the sun, to say yes to joy and no to guilt, overthinking and anxiety. Stand in the sun with me, my sisters.

And remind me when I forget it.

 

 

#WhyIMarch

My head has been spinning for months now trying to articulate how I feel to the Internet. I’ve been afraid to share my true feelings with the world. I’m not sure what changed but I’m ready now..and I won’t apologize for how I feel. 

Thankfully, we all are allowed to feel however we want. The range of emotions in this country (and around the world) right now is powerful. From love to hate, from proud to petty, from afraid to awakened. The list is long. I beg all of you to keep feeling, no matter what. And express those feelings respectfully. 

On Friday, I watched our 45th president get sworn into office. I watched. I listened. I learned. It is history. On Saturday, I marched. Before you assume, please let me clear it up for you: I did not march because of the president. I marched so that all of our elected officials and people (not just men) around the world know that women’s right as just as important as anything else. More specifically: I marched for my beautiful, strong baby img_3281sister, who I pray never loses her sense of self and stays as confident as she is today (at almost fourteen). I marched for the strong woman who raised me, who sacrificed so I could have. And for my father who has never once disrespected me or asked me to silence my voice. I marched for my grandparents who started lives here and built them as best they could for us. I marched for the women and men who have encouraged me to think deeper, go further, to want more. I marched for every woman who came home and was met with a fist. For those whose dignity was taken from them. For those who never had a choice. That’s why I marched. The beauty of such a movement is that we all marched for different reasons. It was and always will be personal. 

For me, Saturday’s march was not about right or wrong. Republican or Democrat. It was about using my voice for good. To stand up for something bigger than myself. To make it known to the every sexist man on this God green earth that women matter. That no means no. That my gender should not determine my pay or my rights. 

Let me also say I know good men. Many marched beside me. Even those who didn’t, you are still good men who empower women and are fighting the good fight next to us. I am NOT saying all men are wrong or bad or sexist. But some are. I hope those some were watching. 

To the women who didn’t march or say it was a waste of time, I respect your choice. However, please don’t put other women down. That does nothing for us. And no matter how you feel, we are an us. Empowered women empower women. 

I don’t feel oppressed. But the fact is I make less than my male counterpart. And even though I don’t feel oppressed doesn’t not mean I can’t stand up for the oppressed. That’s called empathy, this world needs more of it. 

I have never been more proud to be an American. A woman. A sister, daughter and friend. I will remain proud and will continue to make my voice heard. 

group-shot-march

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