Tag Archives: Reflection

My Protective Nerve

It was 11 days after my third birthday when my parents brought my brother home from the hospital. I don’t remember much but I know I wasn’t too fond of him at first. My parents got divorced when he was two and I was five. I assumed the role as more protective big sister immediately. Whether we knew it or not, we navigated the newness of our lives together. We fought often; to many, we probably didn’t look like we cared about each other at all. Yet, I knew early on my job was to protect him, despite him being bigger than me for the last 15 years. I can mess with my brother, but no one else can.

Fast forward a decade plus, our babies showed up to change our worlds forever. D.J. assumed the role as big brother naturally and I felt the pang of my protective nerve growing tenfold. They’re spoiled and they know it. There’s nothing in the world I wouldn’t do for all three of them. Have I crossed a line? Probably! Do I care? A little and now that everyone’s older, I’m able to communicate that to them. They get it, they’re grateful and truth is, we all protect each other. 

As you can see, I am fiercely protective of the people I care for. It started with D.J., heightened with Samantha and Antonio and now as a manager, it’s exploded a little. 

I see part of my role as manager to protect my team from unnecessary stress, to filter only relevant information to them and to play defense for them. I invade personal space sometimes to make sure everyone’s taking care of themselves. I wear this protective nerve of mine like a cape, proudly on display. If you come within a mile of me, you know this is how I roll. 

Time and time again though, it’s become a challenge to manage because…

  1. I get so obsessed with protecting someone from themselves that I essentially forget to take care of myself in the process. While I’ve made great progress here, there are still times that I end up so emotionally depleted that I can’t help anyone. 
  2. At work, I dodge bullets for my team. Sometimes that’s necessary. Other times it prevents team members from stepping up and experiencing a challenge themselves. Also, I’m not an actual superhero, no one gets through it alone. I’m learning when and what to delegate to others.

I’ve noticed this protective nerve more and more lately. Maybe it’s because I’m managing more people or maybe I’m just more conscious of it. Either way, it’s good awareness to have. When something hits my protective nerve, I’ve started to: 

  1. Hit the pause button and think about why I’m reacting this way. Why did this specific situation hit the protective nerve? What about this is the same or different from other situations I’ve worked through in the past? Pausing before reacting is usually the smartest move for me AND I’ve learned that I need to communicate this pause to everyone involved so they know what’s going on.
  2. Then, I articulate why I reacted a certain way. Depending on the situation, I call it out immediately, almost like “Tag, you’re it!” In other instances, I’ll wait until the situation is defused to explain. Regardless of if it happens in a personal or professional context, I always ask myself and others, how could I have handled the situation differently and/or more effectively.

Being protective comes natural to me. Often, it proves to be helpful and people respect me for it. As with anything else, awareness is key. When in doubt, I blame my parents for making me the oldest 😉 I’m kidding! I’m exactly who I need to be.

Twenty Nine, So Fine

September is my favorite time of the year: Football is back, the weather is not too hot, not too cold and it’s my birthday month. Like my mother raised me to do, I celebrate all month! Dinners, champagne, cake, presents, I love it all AND I adore having all of my people sitting around the same table.

I like to reflect each year around my birthday – to think about how much I’ve grown and challenged myself in the last year and to wonder about all that’s to come in the upcoming year. This year, I’d also like to celebrate.

Me, in my element, celebrating my promotion day 😉

Twenty-eight was great in almost every way possible. So many highs, incredible moments imprinted forever in my mind. Those moments did not come without struggle. I’m proud of how I’ve grown this year and stretched myself, both literally and figuratively, in ways I didn’t know were possible. There are two specific things I’ll share that I’m celebrating this year.

  • Being brave: I never considered myself brave or someone who takes risks. I’ve rewritten the definition of brave for myself so that it emcompasses thinks like being authentic regardless of the situation, having the confidence to respectfully disagree with leadership at work, saying yes to something I know nothing about and the list continues. I can almost see myself shifting my own mindset about bravery as certain words come (or don’t come) out of my mouth. It’s kind of an outer body experience, one that I’m learning to observe carefully so that I remember what being brave feels like. I’m building my being brave muscle memory so that when I get scared (because I will), I’ll remember how good being brave felt.
  • Knowing what I need and not being afraid (or anxious) to ask for it: When I was fussy as a baby, my mother would take me outside to calm me down. She called it “bye bye, outside.” Twenty something years later and it still works. When I’m stressed, anxious or fustrated, I take myself outside to breathe fully and stare at the clouds. When I’m emotionally drained, I know my safe places to fall so I can recharge without any judgement. It takes practice and patience to listen to your inner voice and discern what you need. Every situation is different but staying true to what you know and clearly articulating it will serve you well.

While I’m excited for my final year in my twenties, it’s all filled with much anticipation. For me, my twenties were a decade with lots of evolution and some painful realities that come with growing up. While I’m thankful for all of them, I also don’t mind wishing them well and seeing them go. Given that, my intention for twenty-nine (or twenty-fine) is to slow down, experience every moment, good or bad and have the confidence to know I’ll come out stronger on the other side.

The Rise (and Fall) of the GirlBoss

If you scroll through Twitter or Instagram (or any social media site really), you’ll see lots of posts with #girlboss attached. If you Google #girlboss, there are over 1 million hits, including an entire website dedicated to providing inspiration for ambitious women. I’m down with that!

I’m happy to see women stepping into their power, striving for more and supporting one another during the process. And yet, when Aarti Sequeira shared her frustration about this phrase on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, I had a visceral reaction.

It seems these days that everyone and their mother (literally) has a side hustle. Sales director by day, wedding planner by night. Kindergarten teacher by day, cake decorator by night. I can’t judge…I’m currently doing the same thing 😉 Social media becomes a hamster wheel until you run yourself into the comparison ground.

So, here we are, running so fast to keep up with our fellow #girlbosses that we’re exhausted, depleted and serving absolutely no one. If you’re find yourself feeling this way, here are three questions to realign your priorities.

  1. Where are your expectations coming from? Who says you have to do all the things all of the time and share them all with your social media followers? You are allowed to take a break or have an off day. For me, someone who is an extrovert, having off days is especially hard because people notice and think I need fixing. In reality, I need wine, Grey’s Anatomy or sleep (other options possible too).
  2. For each project or area of your life, ask yourself, how is this serving you? Not how it’s serving your brand or your business but how it is serving you the person? Start by visualizing what lights you up during the day and really feel it in your body. What do you dread? What can you eliminate or delegate? Set specific intentions for each project and reevaluate them as often as you need to.
  3. Get granular on your timeline. How long will you dedicate to each project? Are certain projects a means to an end, meaning do you need to upskill for your new job so you’re ahead of the curve? This is YOUR timeline that you create on YOUR terms. It’s not meant to be a check the box exercise or to self inflict pressure. It’s to help you move forward on your goals.

I’m here for the #girlboss as long as there’s intention behind wearing the label. Carry on my side hustlers, influencers, rockstars, moms trying to get through the day, superwomen, #girlbosses and don’t lose sight of your why.

A Letter to my Younger Self

The song that inspired this post that I saw live back in October

Recently, I’ve had conversations with people around my age about regret. Maybe it wasn’t labeled as regret per say, but that what if feeling that if something or someone were different, life would be easier/more complete/pick your positive adjective.

For a long time, I wished the same, that things had been done differently. I wished for situations and people to change. After careful reflection, I’ve found that all those shoulda, coulda, wouldas got me here, where I’m destined to me. Every mile mattered.

Writing a letter to my younger self was cathartic. I let go of who she was and am proud of who she’s becoming. Note: Becoming is a continuous process, things I learned from Michelle Obama. So if you’re stuck or unclear or wishing the past was different, write that teenager a letter and remember, you have no idea if things would change. I still talk to that little girl/teenager often and remind her it will all be okay. More on that below…

Hey there girlfriend,

I wish you could have read these words long ago. They probably would have saved you a dairy or two. I’d like you to have read this around 14 or 15 when you thought your life was defined by other people. I’m here to tell you it’s not. It’s all yours. True you have a few more years under the parenting trios’ reign, but they’re not so bad.

Sweet girl, this world is yours. There’s soooo much out there for you to explore. Don’t let your insecurities about your body or your brain stop you. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that is ok. There is a tribe of exceptional women of all ages waiting for you. They’ll hold space for you, they’ll cheer you on, they’ll commiserate and drink wine with you. Don’t hesitate for a second on finding them.

You are worthy of all this love. You are wise beyond your years. Don’t let that stop you from having some fun now and again. It’s a balance my love and if it doesn’t make you light up inside, move on.

Boundaries will be important during the next decade. Don’t ever forget where and who you came from. They love you more than life itself. Cherish those small moments filled with dance parties and Saturday ice cream dates. Those will get you through the drama and pain that all families have.

You can be both beautiful and strong, independent and in love. You chose the how to define yourself. Every scar, every sad AIM away message, every step in this journey, they each matter and you my dear girl matter so much. I’m surrounding you with all of the hopes and dreams in the world.

Love you always lil mama,
Older you

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!

Year of Intention

I wrote this post on top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with OneRepublic’s “I Lived” playing. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? It’s pretty much is and allowed me to pause and reflect.

My writing spot for the day

My writing spot for the day

It’s been a long summer, one where I repeated the phrase: “It could be worse,” nearly 100 times. Everyone moved, work was crazy busy and I found myself moving along without any clear direction. That’s not normal for me – I’ve always had a plan, a goal, a schedule so this way of life didn’t feel right.

If you’re not moving forward, then you’re going backwards right? I’m not sure. But what I learned this year is that over orchestrating my life puts too much pressure on me and probably those around me. Every day should be its own adventure.

I paused over the weekend and reflected on what I want the next year to look like. Normally, I would create a list of things I want to accomplish in the next year and highlight the best moments of the past one. But that’s easy for me. 25 feels like a milestone so it should be more challenging. This year is going to be the year of intention: setting intentions, putting more positive ones out to the universe and being more intentional with my words and my time. To start, my intention for this new year is to believe in the change. My journey in the last year has been shaped by changes that life handed to me not ones I consciously put into motion. I know I can do better when faced with new challenges and unexpected changes. Whatever is meant to happen will shape my path for the better…or at least make for an interesting story!

Will I totally give up my planning nature? Definitely not. Who I am at its core isn’t going to change nor do I want it to. But in the spirit of continuous improvement, I want to fageocus on getting better from here!

I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday over the next few days and making 25 the best year yet! I invite you to join me in my year of intention and to share your thoughts below!

The Lost Art of Storytelling

Think back to when you were a child. What was your favorite bedtime story, one you could hear over and over again? Now looking back, what was it about that story that intrigued you? The characters, a particular moral, a happy ending? Either way, it’s clear that stories, whether real or fictional, have the power to influence.

storytellingA few weeks ago, I listened to a presentation by Lani Peterson, an award-winning storyteller, author and public speaker. In her 60 minute talk, she spoke about how powerful personal stories can be if constructed correctly. Her main points are summarized below:

  • Stories need to be personal, emotional and connected to your values. If a story isn’t authentic, it loses its power. Having a powerful story positively contributes to your presence and identity.
  • As you’re telling your story to others, take time to step back and evaluate. Check in with yourself and others within your organization to ensure the story you’re telling is aligned to what others know or hear about you.
  • There is also immense power in listening, especially when you are new to a company and need to better understand their story and the motivations behind it. By listening, you can find common values between you and your colleagues or your company at large.

After listening to Lani, I reflected on what she said and really thought about my own story. I’d venture to say your personal and professional narratives are one in the same. You might need to tailor it to your audience. I asked myself the following questions to strengthen my story:

  • What do I want to be known for?
  • How did I get here/what did the journey look like?
  • If I wasn’t in the room and someone asked about Alex, what would I want that response to look like?

Your story is essentially your personal brand. It’s a tool you should use to build your credibility andbranding establish strong relationships with others. What I find challenging when developing your story is aligning it to your company’s values while also stay true to its meaning. Like Lani said, a story must be authentic to be powerful. But, it’s also important to message it correctly so it resonates with others within your organization.

As I move forward in my career journey, I plan to take Lani’s tips with me. I’ll also continue to evolve my story as I experience new things or challenges. How have you created a career narrative? Has it changed over time?

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