Having it ALL

Last week, I had the opportunity to go to NYC for work. As much as I’ve traveled, it was actually my first time in the city, so I played tourist and went to all the hot spots. It was a quick, but fun trip that reaffirmed I am not a city girl.

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While I was there, I met up with an old friend and frolicked around Chelsea checking out sites such as Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment from Sex & the City, the Friends apartment, and Diane Von Furstenberg’s place (I also got to meet her while I was there!).

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After cupcakes and coffee and a major catch up session (haven’t seen her in 10 years!), she made the comment that I needed to share my secrets with her because I seemed to have it all. This was mostly based on what she has seen me post on Facebook and Instagram over the years, and we all know that we only post our best on social media.

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I am also guilty of comparing my not-so-good days to what I see others posting on social media. Sometimes it makes me wish I didn’t have a full time job. Sometimes it makes me wish I could just hop on a plane and go to some far away place to explore. Often it makes me wish that I was the one who found puppies on the side of the road (where are these roads?? I have NEVER found a box of puppies!). But seriously, most of the time when we’re comparing ourselves to others, we’re not in our best spots. WE ARE ALL IN DIFFERENT PLACES. I am not in the same place as my cousin who is almost the same age as me. I’m not in the same place as my college roommate. I’m not in the same place as my best friend. I am not in the same place as the people I follow on Instagram. But sometimes we lose that…. especially when we see people doing things that we want to do or having things that we want or even see people achieving life milestones that we haven’t yet.

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I told this friend that we all feel that way at some point. There were times where I felt like everyone else had it together and I was kind of wading through. I got disheartened after being passed up for jobs. I got even more disheartened when I made it to the next level and then all of the jobs I wanted were in Boston. But each time, something came up and it happened to be just at the right time (but not exactly the time I wanted it to happen). Aside from jobs, I went through the whole wanting to be engaged/married thing, too. My husband and I lived together after four months. We shared a home, dogs, grocery bills… heck, we even rode to work together! It felt like we already WERE doing the married thing, but also, there’s so much freaking social pressure (can we stop that?). I felt like we SHOULD be in that place because people asked me/us all the time, we were of a certain age, all of our friends were doing it, and every weekend I’d see a new batch of rings in my newsfeed. And when he proposed, it was the right time. We are all on our own journey and it’s the right one. I think as long as you’re happy, living the life you want to and headed in the general direction of where you want to be, then you’re in the right place.

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I also made sure to tell my friend that I am fortunate and I know it. I would not be where I am without the support of amazing family and friends, meeting some of the best people I possibly could have early on in my career and retaining a few of them as mentors/sponsors, having the opportunity to go to grad school and while I know I’ve worked really hard at my job, to have my home, to be able to travel, I still attribute a lot of it to being in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. Also, I’m a planner, so I always have my next goal in mind. I’m always saving for the next trip. I have an answer to that pesky interview question of “where do you see yourself in five years?” Wherever that might be for you personally, keep at it. Being persistent, making connections, staying positive and moving forward are the best things you can do. You have to put yourself out there whether it is for relationships or jobs, and while they don’t always turn out the way you hoped, once in a while they do – and you’ll know when that happens. I don’t have it all, but I have all that I need.

(PS – Friend, I am rooting for you. You are so successful in the eyes of many and I know even bigger and better things are coming. KEEP trying. KEEP doing what you’re doing.)

30 Before 30

It hit me this past weekend that I’m almost 30. For so long, 30 seemed old. Now it’s kind of the new 20 (but you go to bed earlier and can’t drink as much). It’s funny that at 18, I thought I would have been married for at least 5 years by now, and have a couple of kids, living in Raleigh, NC, and have a house-full of dogs, too. Even at 22, I thought I’d have kids by now.

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But we don’t. Instead, we have our two furbabies that I treat like kids (we celebrated Tucker’s 8th birthday this weekend with a trip to Petsmart for new toys that he picked out, a big belly rub and cuddle-sesh mid-morning, a long walk with the whole family and then cupcakes after dinner).

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At almost 30, I think we’ll definitely have a kid by the time 32 rolls around for me (35 for my husband), maybe even two – but we’re not in a hurry. First we want to travel more, starting with our European vacation this summer and South Africa next spring. Knocking a few more things off the list before we change up our lives completely.

birthday1I have always LOVED celebrating birthdays (or any other random holiday, or reason I can find to celebrate). Some of my favorite birthdays have been spent having large gatherings with friends, or visiting beaches with my husband (this year we did Key West). I was inspired by a few lists/challenges I’ve seen others doing to knock things off of a somewhat “bucket list” before they turn 30.

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Emily Thomas, author of Em For Marvelous is doing a 60 before 30 list. Some girls I went to college with are trying to rack up 30 race medals before they turn 30. I think I’ll stick with being my random self and doing just 30 different things before I turn 30.

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30 before 30

  1. Do 3 more 10k runs (equaling 30k) — 2nd goal? Get my sister-in-law to run one with me.
  2. Volunteer for 30 hours with a charity (or multiple charities)
  3. Do 30 hours of yoga
  4. Visit Paris
  5. Visit London
  6. Visit Ireland
  7. Foster (3) dogs (if I said 30, I might be getting divorced before I turn 30, so we’ll stick with 3)
  8. Go to Charleston
  9. Go to Savannah
  10. Read 30 books
  11. Write 30 blog posts
  12. Go on a tropical vacation (I’m thinking Costa Rica, Belize, Turks & Caicos, San Juan…)
  13. Take a cooking class
  14. Help 5 more items be crossed off the Pretty in Pink bucket lists
  15. Celebrate our two year wedding anniversary (and 6 year dating anniversary)
  16. Visit Tonya in Colorado
  17. Go zip-lining
  18. Have an album with our wedding/anniversary pictures created
  19. Run another half marathon | Hokie Half | Jekyll Island Half | Savannah Half
  20. Pay off another student loan
  21. Re-organize our master closet
  22. Get a porch swing (or my grandfather’s glider)
  23. Learn how to use my SLR in manual
  24. Learn how to do calligraphy (I have the class paid for, all the materials…. time?)
  25. See Florence + the Machine in concert
  26. Spend a weekend with my BFF Sarah
  27. Meet my BFF Brittney’s new son, Holden
  28. Go whitewater rafting
  29. Eat more tomatoes from our garden than the squirrels do this year
  30. Get my thesis published

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I know some of these items are technically already planned, and that’s okay. I need to follow thru with them. I’m excited to tackle these things in the next 10 months, and to continue working on saying ‘yes’ when people ask us to do things (instead of eating in our neighborhood and binge watching House of Cards), being more patient with people, trying to be more timely / not 5 minutes late to everything in life, and crushing it at work.

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The last one is tough for me because I’ve gotten in a groove and I feel pretty good at my job, I’m recognized for doing a good job and I’m in a good place. There have been some opportunities lately that I’ve looked into but they’ve all asked that I move to Boston if offered the job and I just don’t want to move to Boston. I LOVE Charlotte. I love our life here. I love our friends here. I love our house here. I love how close we are to both of our families. And I know that if I move there, I won’t have the chance to move back here and stay with the same company (most likely – things change!). NC feels like home to us. For the right opportunity, we might consider moving, but right now I’m in a good spot, and I’m okay. I don’t need a career change. So… yeah. Onto tackling my 30 before 30 list. I will update as items are able to be marked off.

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I’m still trying to raise money to help cancer champions mark items off of their bucket lists, you can read more and donate here. I heard about another lady in NC trying to do a similar thing (on a larger scale) and I am going to try to combine forces with her. Stay tuned!

Love what you do

Finding happiness in your work may not always be possible, but it is definitely what we all want in our careers. From a young age, we desire success. We plan to be doctors, teachers, lawyers… or a veterinarian in my case. We talk about families, travel and our jobs, even as children. I remember playing “house” as a kid and pretending I had a job that I was coming home from. Most people work because they have to, but it’s nice if you can find a job that you love if you’re going to have to do it anyway. 

unnamed-3I watched the movie “Bounce” when I was younger. Yes, back when Ben Affleck was still a respectable movie star (before Gigli). I decided then that I wanted to be in Advertising when I grew up. I focused my undergrad on Advertising and my grad school on Communications. Luckily, I’ve been successful in my career and in finding jobs that align with my degrees. But it didn’t come without work. Growing up we weren’t rich, we weren’t poor either, but we certainly weren’t considered “well off.” I think that created a drive in me (and in my brother) that has helped our careers, shaped our personalities and made us who we are today. Having not been handed everything in life, I understand the value of hard work. I respect the power of networking and make every attempt to make valuable connections. Being ambitious (or aggressive in my career, as some have said), I am not afraid to ask to join meetings, groups, events, or set up time to chat about what a department or person does. It may seem bold, but it has only benefited me to this point in my career. I also believe in taking every opportunity I can to develop myself personally and professionally (i.e.: grad school, CCMP, trainings, reading influential books, etc.). 
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While I was in grad school, I was in a communication role and doing work that I wanted to do. However, I also fell in love with the power of social media and wanted to pursue that passion. Along with falling in love, I also fell into a position as a social media consultant. Having been in that role, I learned a lot about social media, how businesses use social media, how little some people know about social media and a lot about myself. I grew a lot from that experience and realized I needed to become more of a teacher than a do-er. I never wanted to manage social media for anyone but myself, but I do want people to understand the value of certain platforms and how it can help their company. I was incredibly busy at the point in my life, with grad school, planning a wedding, a full time job and consulting – but I was happy. I was doing what I loved. 

I’m always a proponent of doing what you love. I constantly send friends job posting that I think align with their career goals or skills. I review and edit resumes and cover letters for friends and family regularly. I try to help people make connections, do mock interviews or seek out opportunities to become qualified for their dream job. We all deserve to be happy. Being comfortable in a job can make it hard to leave. Being unsure of the future or fearful of a pay decrease can, too. I think happiness wins. Happiness trumps money. 

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It’s really easy for us to settle in life and stop making attempts to move forward. I’m sure I’ll get to that point in my career but I’m not there yet. Right now, I’m enjoying a corporate role in communications and my side gig of being a social media consultant within the community. Today, I urge you to look at what you’re doing and ask yourself if it’s what you love. If it’s not, take an hour this evening to search for your “dream job” and see what the qualifications are – and if you are missing more than 40% of them, set goals to get qualified. If you meet them and you have just been scared to jump, I say DO IT. It can’t hurt to update your resume, interview and see what’s out there. If you’re happier at work, you’ll be happier when you get home. It’s a win-win. Go out and aim for happiness!