Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bloggers Can Be Friends Too

I have written a lot about my friends, how awesome they are, and how I don't know what I'd do without them. I've always believed that quality is much more important than quantity when it comes to friendship. There is no question in my mind that I would always choose a small group of close friends over a large group of people who I'm not as close with. My best friends are from across the country, and we met at different places and stages in our lives. Elementary school, middle school, high school, college, summer camp, summer program, internship. We have been roommates, suitemates, hallmates, and bunkmates. We have partied, laughed, cried, celebrated, consoled, traveled, danced, learned, and shopped together. I have countless wonderful memories with my friends, and I am so grateful to have them in my life.

Since I started blogging, tweeting, and networking across the Web 2.0 world, the concept of friendship has crossed my mind often. One common criticism of sites like Facebook and Myspace has been that they cause a disconnect between people, and prevent them from learning how to have real relationships with one another. This argument could definitely be made for teenagers, but as for us 20-somethings, I don't think it applies. Blogging has allowed me to connect to some wonderful people who I may never have met otherwise.

I don't consider myself "friends" with every person who reads my blog, but I love learning about people and finding out how much we have in common. I realize that forming an actual friendship takes more effort and requires one-on-one conversation, and I've been lucky enough to find that with a few special people. For example, without the digital world, I would never have known that a really awesome girl named Grace out in Colorado shares my love of reading, among other things, and we would have never started our online book club, Blogging Bookworms. And, I wouldn't have gotten to know cool people from across the country (Chicago, Nashville, California) and across the world (Canada, Indonesia).

So, take advantage of the great big digital world that you're lucky enough to be a part of. Make the extra effort to get to know some of your fellow bloggers. You never know, it just might blossom into a wonderful friendship!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Do, do, do ya have it, GUTS?!

Sorry, but I couldn't resist that 90's throwback. It worked out well because "guts" is another word for the topic of this post: Confidence. Some people have it, some people don't. Okay, that's not entirely accurate, as there are varying degrees, but it's one of those things that is most common in extremes. There are the people whose egos are so inflated that they would probably pop with just one prick of a pin. Then there are those who are the exact opposite, who just can't do anything right and never seem to live up to their own high standards and expectations.

Where does confidence come from? Who and what gives us more of it, and takes it away? There are many different answers to these questions. It's different for everyone, and for some people it just comes easier. But, what about those who have a harder time being their own cheerleader, who are always second guessing themselves? What if they want to be more confident, but just don't know how?

That last group is the one I relate to the most. I like myself, I do. I know I'm a talented writer, good friend, great listener, but confidence has never come easy to me. I like a compliment as much as anyone, but I help people, work hard, and give back because I want to, not for any sort of recognition, so I've never been one to toot my own horn, so to speak. I believe in myself and my abilities, though not as much as I should. But, the thing is, I'm not sure what I can do to change. I want to change because I think if I trusted myself more, and gave myself a little more credit, it would probably pay off.

I know there are a lot of other people who are worse off in the confidence department, and I feel for them. But, I wonder sometimes if the terrible economy wasn't the only reason it took me so long to get a job. Maybe I just totally sucked at selling myself. I'm so grateful to have a job now, and I think my confidence deficit has formed a dangerous combination with first job jitters and crappy economy-generated worry.

So, I want to hear from you. Do you consider yourself a confident person? What has contributed to your confidence? How do you keep believing in yourself? What do you suggest for those like me who are stuck in the middle?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Is Blood Really Thicker Than Water?

We are forever connected to our family through our blood, our shared history, our similar traits and features. If not for our parents, we wouldn't be here, if not for our grandparents, our parents would never have been born...the chain goes on and on. Some people have very close-knit families, and some do not. There are so many factors that affect our family relationships: age, distance, common interests, tradition, the precedent set by previous generations. Friends may come and go, relationships may change, but no matter what, our family will always be our family.

My family has always been very important to me. I'm fortunate enough to have close relationships with both of my parents, and though I never lived near my extended family, my grandparents and aunts and uncles did the best they could to make me feel loved. As the only girl on either side of the family, connecting with my five first cousins was often tough. That said, I am very grateful for my cousin Adam. As only children and rabbis kids, we have always had a lot in common and we remain close to this day.

As with all relationships, things change over time. We grow up and our lives take different paths, sometimes we become closer, sometimes farther apart. The family tree loses branches and grows new ones in different places, but the roots are still there.

So, why am I writing this post? Family relationships are complicated, and no two stories are completely alike. Recently, I have witnessed a dramatic change in the relationships between several members of my family. One has decided that he is going to do things for himself, regardless of how it affects others. This new philosophy has caused a rift between him and others, as he has become so consumed in it that he is no longer the same person he once was. He has always been a generous person, very giving, and so I commend his efforts to pay more attention to himself. However, he was also a funny, kind person who valued and cared about his family, and that part of him is gone.

I wasn't quite sure how to write about these things, and I'm not sure that this was the best I could have done. But, watching this change has been so difficult for me that I had to express it somehow. Unfortunately, I don't think there's anything I can do to make it better. Regardless, for me, blood is thicker than water. I love my family, and I always will. No matter how much life changes, no matter how much our paths diverge, no matter what conflicts may arise, they are my family, and that is a tie that can never be broken.

Friday, April 10, 2009

You Don't Always Have to Turn Your Frown Upside Down

You often hear well-meaning moms and preschool teachers trying to convince a crying toddler to "turn their frown upside down." There's also the argument that frowning requires more muscles than smiling, or that it will cause wrinkles to form deep in your skin and never, ever go away. But, I'm going to go against convention and say that you don't always have to turn your frown upside down.

Sometimes, it's okay to frown, it's okay to be sad. In fact, if you force yourself to be happy, you're just suppressing your true feelings, and they'll only come back bigger and stronger later on. It's okay to cry, even for guys. You're not showing a sign of weakness, you're showing a sign of strength. So, if something's got you down, go ahead and sit in a dark room by yourself and think about it for a little while, cry as much as you need to, it's okay. But then, keep going. Get back to your life and keep on living. Don't forget about the sad things, but don't let them take over the rest of your life. From the beautifully moving "End of October" by Pat McGee: You've got so many reasons to smile.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Are Faith and Religion Important to Gen Y?

Gen Y bloggers write on a wide variety of subjects, but one that I haven't really seen too much about is religion. I realize this is a touchy subject, and it can spark long, heated debates, but it's a topic that really interests me and means a lot to me personally. Many of us are recent college grads, still in school, back in school, or starting out in our first job. We are constantly on the go, so much to do, and not enough hours in the day. So, how do we make time for faith and religion in our lives? Is it still important to us, or is it something we've put on the back burner until we're a little older?

Here's my story:

I am, and always have been, very proud to be Jewish. My dad is a rabbi, so I pretty much grew up at the temple. Many of our congregants literally knew me since I was born. I loved the sense of community, and the welcome feeling I got whenever I went there. I had great friends at temple too. We had some pretty fun times together. I excelled at Hebrew, and later went on to tutor kids preparing for their Bar/Bat Mitzvah. At a pretty young age, I decided that I would not eat pork or shellfish, and that is something I plan to continue for the rest of my life. For seven years, I attended a Jewish overnight camp, and worked there for three more. Camp was where I really found my Jewish identity and truly connected to the prayers. I was involved in youth group, and traveled to Europe and Israel with my Jewish peers. Visiting places with so much Jewish history was incredibly moving. I can recite most of the prayer book (including English) by heart. I wear a ring with my Hebrew name.

Credit must be given to my parents. Despite the fact that I'm a rabbi's kid (and another rabbi's niece) Judaism was never forced on me. I went to temple because I wanted to. I made the decision to keep kosher. I decided to tutor Hebrew because I knew I could help. Throughout my life, I have made my own choices when it comes to faith and religion, and that is a large part of why I feel so positively about it. Instead of resenting the fact that I was often the most Jewish among my classmates or friends, I have always enjoyed teaching people about my holidays and traditions. From kindergarten through college, I have taught many a non-Jew to play dreidl and love latkes. I know that hatred often grows out of ignorance, so I take every opportunity to educate people.

A number of my friends had religion forced on them as kids and now have no interest in making it a part of their lives. Parents are supposed to pass the teachings of their faith onto their children, so their children can pass it on to their children, and so on. But, by not giving them any choice in how they learn and become involved in their faith, the result is children who are disenchanted and bitter. What many people don't realize is that there are many ways to live your faith. It's not just about going to temple or church, but about learning and teaching, tradition and culture, giving back to the community, exploring different communities, and so much more.

In writing this, I realized that this issue is so complex, and I haven't even scratched the surface. I guess what I'm trying to say is don't give up on your faith. Even if you have bad memories from when you were a kid, you're a grown up now, so take the opportunity for a fresh start. Give it another chance. If you think you don't have time for religion, you're wrong. You can make time. Remember that there is more to religion than the Bible. Culture, community, and traditions can be so meaningful. With everything that's going on in the world, we all need something to keep us grounded.

So, what do you think? Are faith and religion important to you? Are they important to Gen Y? (I welcome your comments, but please no negative or hateful words. They will be deleted)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Six Easy Ways to Show Your Friends Some Love

I don't know where I would be without my friends. As I've written before, I have friends from a variety of different stages and places in my life: camp, first hometown, second hometown, temple, summer programs, semester programs, etc. Some live farther away than others, some I've lost touch with and reconnected again, I talk to some more often than others, but all of them are very important to me.

A true friendship is one where both people care enough about each other to put in the effort, and it withstands the tests of time and distance. I try my best to show my friends how much they mean to me whenever I can. Small things like sending cards for birthdays and holidays can make a big difference. I just started subscribing to Glamour Magazine, and there was a great article in the April issue called, "Six Little Ways to Be a Better Friend." (You can read the full article on MSN.) Here is a list of the six things and my thoughts on them:

1) Put her on your to-do list
According to the article, friends are often one of the first things we neglect when life gets busy. I definitely agree. Over the past year of craziness in my life, I definitely haven't made enough time for my friends. But, remember: in this age of technology, a quick text message or e-mail to check in is a great solution until you can find the time to call or meet up. Also, try actually putting your friend's name on your to-do list. It's so crazy, it just might work!

2) Be there in bad times, too
This one really speaks to me. "When her life sucks, you may not know what to say, but you don't need all the right words. Just show up." As someone who has gone through some pretty sucky stuff recently, I can't tell you how important this is. There is a common misconception that when something's wrong you always have to say something about it, but the truth is that not saying anything might be even better. Go out to dinner, watch a funny movie, shop, talk about gossip...just be there. You don't have to say anything, just be there to support your friend, and if she wants to talk about whatever's going on, she will. But, a couple words of advice: when someone's going through a tough time, don't say you'll there for them if you won't follow through. And, just because they don't ask for help or support, doesn't mean they don't need it, in fact, in probably means they need it even more.

3) Don't over-advise
Be careful when sharing your opinion on something. There are times when friends just want you to listen, so don't be too quick to give your advice. If they ask you straight out what you think, then give your honest opinion, but keep their feelings in mind.

4) Accept her weaknesses
We're not perfect, and neither are our friends. Recognize that certain people are better at certain things, and deal with them accordingly. It's okay to have certain friends who you don't share everything with, especially if they're not so good with serious situations. Look for their strengths and the things you have in common that made you friends in the first place instead of dwelling on the negative.

5) Be cash-conscious
The economy sucks, and it's important to realize that some of your friends may be more greatly affected than you are. So, keep that in mind when you make plans. Maybe try having a girls night in instead of a girls night out, or go out earlier so you can take advantage of drink deals. When you're giving gifts, try and find something useful and relevant, but don't focus too much on the price tag.

6) Look out for her--even when she's not looking
Sites like Facebook and MySpace make this one particularly relevant today. One of the examples they give in the article is "tag only flattering pictures of her." Most of us probably don't think twice when we post our weekend pics, but maybe we should. Something may look funny to us, but if we were the one in the picture, would we want it posted for the world to see? And, stand up for your friends. If you hear something bashing them, don't just stand by and say nothing. Wouldn't you want them to do the same for you?

"The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on the porch and swing with, never say a word, and walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had."

Friendships are relationships. They grow and change with time. If you stop putting in the effort, chances are your friend will too. It's so important to appreciate your friends. Blog about them, give them a Twitter shout out, send them a goofy e-card to make them smile. Thank them for being there for you, and tell them how important they are to you. If not now, when? You never know what tomorrow will bring. Just remember that the little things go a long way.

Friday, April 3, 2009

From Swirling Thoughts to Blogging Words

This is my third attempt at writing a post today. I really wanted to write, but my exhausted brain has too much swirling around in it to come up with anything insightful. I always try and make sure that my blog isn't too diary-like, because I don't think this is really the place for it. But, after some encouragement from my blogging buddy, Grace, I'm going to attempt to put the swirling thoughts into words.

If you've been reading, you know that I'm moving to Brooklyn. Sunday is the day when the boyfriend and I will move the rest of our stuff into our apartment and officially begin living together. I've mostly been focusing on how excited I am to finally live with him, and I'm definitely still feeling that way, but there are some other emotions that I've been feeling that have kind of gotten lost in the shuffle.

I'm sad. As crazy as things have been at home, and as much as there have been times when I've wanted nothing more than to have my own life, I've gotten used to spending lots of time with my parents. I'm one of those lucky people who is very close with both of my parents. I have very different relationships with each of them, and certain things I always do with one or the other, and I'm really going to miss seeing them all the time. Fortunately, I won't be too far away.

I'm also happy to be moving somewhere that is actually close to some of my friends. The past year or so of living at home has been pretty lonely, since my best friend is at grad school in Binghamton, and I don't really have anyone else. Living near NYC means actually getting to see friends, and finally having a post-college social life.

Mostly, these days, the overwhelming emotion has been stress. Moving is a lot of work, especially when the place you're moving to isn't exactly next door. Granted, it's only about an hour from either of our houses, but working full-time means dedicating weekends to the moving process (as a result, I have almost forgotten what a relaxing/fun weekend is like). Then there's the endless task of buying things. No matter how much stuff you think you have from college or previous dwellings, you're still going to spend a lot of money. I wish they had a frequent shopper card at Target, because I have been there more times than I can count in the past month.

This week's major source of stress has been the packing of clothes, accessories, and toiletries. I won't lie, I love clothes (and shoes), and I have a lot of them. Figuring out what to bring, and what will fit, is driving me nuts. Although, again, I'm not moving that far away, I don't know when the next time will be that a car transports things to my apartment, so I keep worrying that I'm going to forget something. I probably have about five different lists going, and I lie in bed at night thinking about them. Are you feeling the brain swirling yet?

As with any new beginning or major life change, I am obviously filled with mixed emotions. Fellow blogger, littlelolita, commented on one of my posts commending me for being such a strong person. I was very grateful to receive such a compliment, but as this post shows, I am not always so strong, and that's perfectly okay. All too often, people apologize (on their blogs or in person) when they feel like they haven't lived up to people's expectations or appeared too vulnerable. Remember that we all make mistakes, freak out, get emotional, overreact, misinterpret, and choose the wrong path...and that's what makes us human.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Do Success and Happiness Go Hand In Hand?

Success and happiness are two concepts that are very hard to define. They are totally subjective, and can mean very different things to different people. As a starting point, here are some dictionary definitions (courtesy of dictionary.com):

success: (n.)

  1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted: attributed their success in business to hard work.
  2. a) The gaining of fame or prosperity: an artist spoiled by success. b) The extent of such gain.
happiness (n.)
  1. The quality or state of being happy.
  2. Good fortune; pleasure; contentment; joy.
Okay, thanks dictionary, but now I want to know what these things mean to real people. Among others, the question that's been on my mind is the title of this post: Do success and happiness go hand in hand?

A simple example for myself: this blog. I consider this blog a success. I am achieving the goals I set for myself when I started writing here. Just yesterday, my counter reached 1000 views, and my posts have been recognized by some awesome fellow bloggers in the form of contest wins and guest posts. The other day, after reading my post about "The Quiet Girl in the Corner," one of my co-workers told me that my writing really makes people think. That's one of the greatest compliments she could have given me because that's exactly why I write. When someone comments on one of my posts and tells me how much they enjoyed reading it, that they've had a similar experience, or that they'd never considered some of the points I brought up and my post really touched them, I am happy. In this case, success leads to happiness for me.

There a lot of times when succeeding at something makes me happy, but that doesn't mean that I need to be successful in order to be happy. The people in my life make me happy, picturing the beach brings happy, peaceful thoughts to my head, and I am happy and proud of the person I have become. Sometimes, other people's success leads to my happiness, like a victory for one of my sports teams or hearing good news about a friend or family member. I have also experienced plenty of unhappy things that had nothing to do with my success or lack there of, and I know that there are many people who appear successful to the outside world, but are actually unhappy.

So, how do you define success and happiness? Do they go hand in hand? How can people be successful and unhappy, or unsuccessful and happy for that matter? Are we, as a society, too consumed with success? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Being Grown Up Isn't Half As Fun As Growing Up

Props to the Ataris for this insightful song lyric, which is definitely spot on. I'll take it a little further and say that I think growing up is overrated, and I have a lot of questions about the concept. Do we ever really completely grow up? If so, how do we know when it happens? Is there a set age or a stage in life where we become a grownup and there's no turning back? Is it within our power to refuse to grow up?

I am 23 years old. I've graduated from college, and I have a full-time job. I get a paycheck, and my own health benefits. I'm about to move in with my boyfriend of almost 4 years. I join the hoards of commuters each day as I make my way to and from work. A frat party no longer has any appeal for me. So, am I grown up or am I still growing up? I choose the latter. I'm only 23, this is only my first job, I'm just starting out on my own, and I still have a lot to learn and experience.

I don't think we have to grow up completely if we don't want to, and it might be better for us to keep our inner child alive. I just listed a number of reasons why I could be considered a grown up, but there are plenty more that prove the contrary. I'm not ashamed to say that I still sleep with stuffed animals. Sometimes when I need to de-stress, I color. I'm very easily amused and I love toys (my desk currently holds a swirly M&M dispenser, a mini blow-up Bozo punching bag, and a Minnie Mouse whose skirt spins and lights up). I still depend on my mom and dad for support (of many kinds), I love when they take care of me when I'm sick, and find fulfillment in making them proud. I like to be goofy and use my imagination. Playing on playgrounds still makes me smile.

So grown up or not grown up, that is the question. And for me, the answer is neither. I think the best thing to do is find a balance. Be a grown up when and where you need to be, but let yourself have fun, let loose, and release your inner child. Growing up is an ongoing process of learning and experiencing new things. It can be challenging, but it can also be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Quiet Girl in the Corner

You know the girl I'm talking about, the quiet one in the corner. She may not actually be "in the corner," but she's in the background, behind the scenes, never the center of attention, never in the spotlight. She's not friends with everybody, and she doesn't try to be. Instead she spends her time with a small group of close friends. You may look at her and wonder why she's not more outgoing, thinking it's not that hard to speak up.

But, don't be too quick to judge the quiet girl in the corner. She may be quiet, but she is not timid. Just because she prefers to stay in the background doesn't make her a wallflower, it just means she likes to observe what's going on around her. Staying out of the spotlight doesn't mean she's not fun-loving. The quiet girl still likes to go out and have a great time, but she's also the one who takes care of her friends when they have a little too much fun. She doesn't try to be friends with everybody because she believes in the value of a genuine friendship, but this does not mean she's not friendly and doesn't like meeting new people.

The quiet girl might be better with the written word than the spoken word. If you took some time to read her words, you might understand her better. Underneath her seemingly shy exterior may be a woman of great strength. You don't know what she has going on or what she's been through in her life. There may be a deeper reason for her quietness. The best way to find out what a quiet girl has to say is to ask her. Don't write her off without giving her a chance. She might end up being a pretty cool chick.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The People Who Inspire Me

Inspiration can be found in many places, but for me, it’s not about what inspires me, but who inspires me. Certain kinds of people inspire me, those who embody particular values, ideals, or characteristics. I often find that those who inspire me are those I admire and aspire to be like, and it’s no coincidence that those words all share the same root.

To read more about who inspires me, check out my guest post on the wonderful blog of Grace Boyle: Small Hands, Big Ideas.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Social Media Overload: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Over the past few years, the number of social media sites has increased tremendously. As part of my job as Marketing Assistant at CPX Interactive, I maintain our profiles on a number of sites. (How many is "a number?" Check out this page). In order to find the best sites for the company, I've been doing a lot of exploring myself. That's actually how I got started blogging. I was doing it for my company when I realized it would be a great way for me to be able to write and connect with people.

Between all of the profiles for work, and all of the sites I'm on personally, it can get pretty overwhelming. There are some sites that have totally eclipsed others, and I'm not sure if I'm missing out on something great. So, here are some that I'm unsure about/have been neglecting. Please share your experiences too, and help me avoid social media overload!

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Definitely let me know if there are other sites I'm missing out on, and if anyone else has questions about sites, feel free to comment about them. Thanks!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Moving Away and Moving On

When I was 16, my family and I moved from Hingham, MA to Stony Brook, NY. I left everything I'd ever known and started over. We moved for my dad's job. He wasn't happy where he was, and wanted to find somewhere new. He's a rabbi, and that's one of the few jobs where you don't really have many other options if you're looking for a change. Fortunately, my dad and I have always been close, and I know he's great at what he does, so I supported him. However, this just means that I didn't go kicking and screaming, I didn't say I would hate him forever, and I didn't rebel to get back at him. It doesn't mean that I was happy about moving. I'm sure there are a lot of people who have moved countless times, but this one time was major for me. It taught me a lot about myself, about friendship, and about making the most of new opportunities.

As a teenager, I was never really part of a set group. I had a good number of friends, and I just kind of floated between groups and tried to spend time with everyone. Over the years, I had a few really close friends, and we had some pretty amazing times together. Right before I moved, I had a going away party. All of my friends were there and everyone took part in making me a scrapbook to bring with me to my new home. We all promised to stay in touch and I intended to follow through on this promise. The thing that I didn't realize then is that teenagers are unreliable. Try as they might, there's just too much going on in those formative years.

For the first few months, I was pretty miserable. I had gone from a four grade high school with 800 kids, to a three grade high school with 1600 kids. Everyone at my new school had known each other forever, and I was the token new kid. I'd love to say that it was the stress of adjusting to this new place that caused me to break my promise, but really, I sucked at keeping in touch. I tried for a while, and got frustrated when my efforts weren't reciprocated. My best friend was the only one who really made the effort. Despite a couple of bumps in the road during college, due to stupid miscommunication and an overreaction on my part, she and I are still great friends, and I am so grateful to have her in my life. As for pretty much everyone else, Facebook friendship is as far as it goes at this point.

At the beginning, I was pretty hurt. Why didn't my friends want to make the effort to keep in touch with me? Out of sight, out of mind? I was all alone in a new place with very few friends, and all I wanted was to know that the people I had grown up with still cared about me. In retrospect, just because we fell out of touch doesn't mean they didn't care. We were juniors in high school, with crushes, college applications, extracurriculars and countless other things to worry about, and keeping in touch takes a lot of time and energy.

Looking back now, I know the experience taught me a lot. I am stronger than I give myself credit for. A new situation is a perfect opportunity to become a better version of yourself. It's not worth dwelling on things you have no control over. When you're thrown into a new situation, take the opportunity to meet new people, be more outgoing, try new things. Be grateful for the friends you have, the ones who truly care about you. It really is quality over quantity.

Sometimes, I look through Facebook photos of people I used to know and wish that things had turned out differently. Part of me wishes that we had never moved, but then I would never have met some of the people who are important to me now. I have amazing friends, most of whom I've met since moving. Some of them even live far away and still keep in touch. You never know, somewhere down the road I could reconnect with my old friends. I still miss them sometimes and I proabably always will. I guess what I'm trying to say in this post is that new situations don't have to be all scary and negative. Like most things, it's what you make of it, and chances are that you'll look back and find that you're a stronger person as a result.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blogging Is Like Therapy, Without The Couch

Blogging is like therapy. No really, think about it. Don't see the similarities? Read on...

Every time your page views go up, someone new starts following your blog, or another blogger links to one of your posts, you feel validated, like it's all worth it. We link from our blogs to Twitter and other networking sites to connect with as many people as possible. In a way, our blog popularity is a way of saying, "Hey bullies and former cool kids, I am not a nobody, people care what I have to say."

Still not convinced with my comparison? Maybe blogging is more like group therapy. We write about the things that are going on in our lives, and fellow bloggers respond, often sharing their own experiences and offering advice. How great does it feel to write a post about something that's been bothering you? It's like a release. Isn't it comforting to read a post by someone else about something you've experienced? You know you're not alone.

I'm not saying that this similarity is good or bad, but we definitely have to be careful not to blur the line too much. I feel that there's a difference between a blog and a diary. There have been times when I've shared some pretty personal things on my blog, but there are also some things that I have never posted about and probably never will. A hot topic in the blogosphere recently has been authenticity, and some would say that I'm not representing myself authentically if there are things I don't include in my posts. But, I don't see it that way. When I share something personal, it's because I want to, and because I feel that my experience could help someone else who is in a similar situation. I only write these posts when I'm ready to share that part of my life. I don't ever want to post something that I later regret sharing with the world.

Blogging is like therapy, and it can serve as a great outlet to connect with people who understand us and what we're going through. Everyone makes their own decisions as far as what they will and won't write about on their blog. For some, there is a clear dividing line between the digital world and the real world. We may only be comfortable sharing certain things with the people who know us well, and that's okay. There are certain things that are too personal to share with the blogosphere. So, keep telling your stories, in as much detail as you want, but don't ditch the couch just yet.

Disclaimer: I am in no way encouraging people to stop going to therapy. Blogging may be like therapy, but it's definitely not the same.

The Intersection of Work, Love, and Life

Jamie Varon is one of the coolest bloggers around. Not only is she a great writer who's not afraid to speak her mind, but she's also a go-getter. (See this site which promotes her efforts to get a job at Twitter). So, when I saw that Jamie is hosting her very first contest on her blog, I was intrigued. I've decided to enter, not for the prize or the competition, but because the topic really speaks to the state of my life right now. So, here it goes:

“That place where work, love, and life all meet and you wonder, “where the hell do I go from here?”

I am currently standing at the intersection of work, love, and life, and traffic doesn't look like it's slowing down anytime soon. If you've been reading my blog, you know that I've had a lot going on over the past year. (If you haven't been reading, now you know!) I've been approaching this intersection for a while, and now I'm definitely there.

Soon I will complete my third month of working at my first real job. Though I was a journalism major in school, I am working as a Marketing Assistant at an online ad network. With no advertising or marketing background, it's been a bit of a challenge, but it's a great place and I've been learning a lot (WORK). Until now, I've been commuting from home (LIFE), but in a couple of weeks, I'm moving to Brooklyn with my boyfriend (LOVE). We're moving because we want to live together after almost 4 years of mostly long distance (LOVE), and because my company is opening an office in Manhattan (WORK). Both of our mothers are freaking out about us moving out, and trying to get everything done before we officially move into our new place has been super stressful (LIFE).

Despite all of this, I am happy to say that I know exactly "where the hell I go from here." As crazy as things have been at this intersection, I know that this is the beginning of my adult life, and I couldn't be more excited. The "a lot going on" I referred to earlier has included some pretty tough stuff, so the opportunity for a fresh start is worth any amount of stress.

My advice to anyone who is stuck at this intersection and doesn't know where to go: take a minute to evaluate your life. Are you happy? Do you have great people around you? Have you accomplished your goals? If you answered no to any of these questions, then you've just figured out where to go from here. And if you answered yes to all three, then stop worrying about where to go next, and just sit back and enjoy the ride!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Does Your Blog Portray the True You?

The interesting thing about the blogosphere is that most of us only know each other through the Web. Though we may eventually meet some of our "digital friends" at one point or another, most of what we know about them is from profiles, tweets and blog entries.

One of my favorite bloggers recently wrote a post about the relationship between personal branding and authenticity, and how we define ourselves on the Web. She says that we see other bloggers how they want us to see them, from how they portray themselves through their blog posts. We're not necessarily seeing the real deal. The question is, does your blog portray the true you?

Some of us are probably content with the amount of information we share with our readers, and how much we know about the authors of the blogs we read. But, do you ever wonder, who is this person whose blog I read everyday? I wonder what else we have in common besides blogging.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted 25 Things About Me, and got some great comments. So, if you want your readers to know that there's more to you than the topics you post about, share a little bit. If you can't think of 25 things about yourself like I did, I've done the work for you. Delete my answers from the questions below and post your own answers on your blog:

Are you on Twitter, Facebook, 20 Something Bloggers, Brazen Careerist, or other networking sites?
Yes, all of the above!

What do you do? Are you a student, do you work, or both?
I am the Marketing Assistant at CPX Interactive, an online ad network. My job is to find new and innovative ways to get our company's name out there using the Internet.

How many different states have you lived in, and which ones?
Including school, four: Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Virginia.

iPhone, Crackberry, or good old cell phone?
Crackberry!

What do you do in your spare time besides blogging and social networking?
I don't have too much spare time right now since I'm in the process of moving, but I like to read, watch sports (especially football), shop, be outdoors, and spend time with friends and family.

What is your favorite post that you have written?
That's a tough one. Probably the post about my grandma, and why I support the Alzheimer's Association. It was really tough to write, but I'm so glad that I did.

What is your favorite guilty pleasure TV show?
The Hills on MTV. I don't want to like it, but I just can't help it.

Explain the title of your blog and why you gave it that name.
Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates: a tribute to the wisdom of Forest Gump, and something that I really feel is true. You never know what life will send your way, so the best you can do is enjoy the good stuff and learn from the bad stuff.

Feel free to re-post this content, and add more questions if you like, just please link back here. You'll be surprised how much you can learn about others when you share a little bit of yourself.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Fresh Start For Spring

Today is the first day of spring, and Mother Nature has a terrible sense of humor. As I was driving to work this morning, I watched in amazement as little white snowflakes began to fall from the sky. I could just picture Mother N. laughing manically. But, despite the ridiculously ironic start to this new season, I'm still really looking forward to it.

I think that spring is my favorite season. It's warm, not freezing cold, or sweltering hot. Nature comes back to life and everything is green and beautiful again. Toes are free in open-toed shoes. It's time for sundresses and skirts, without stockings. It's easier and more pleasant to spend time outdoors. Heavy jackets, hats, and gloves go back into storage.

This year, spring means more to me than just these simple pleasures. It means starting my own grown up life, finally living with my wonderful boyfriend after almost four years of long distance, being more independent, remembering how to have a social life (and having one), spending time with friends, new experiences and adventures...and so much more.

The past year has not been the best, much like a runaway roller coaster at times. But, I knew that things would get better eventually, and now that they have, I plan to make the most of this new season. The term "spring cleaning" can apply to more than floors and windows. Take the opportunity to reevaluate and re-prioritize. Doesn't everyone deserve a fresh start?

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Challenge: Do Something Nice For Your Digital Friends

Last night was one of those times when a bunch of little annoying things happen at once and you wind up super frustrated. So, I thought a nice way to ensure today was a better day would be to do something nice for my digital friends and encourage others to do the same. Here are some ideas:

  • Read and comment on a blog you've never read or commented on before.
  • Write an e-mail to your favorite networking site and tell them what they've done right.
  • Follow someone who is new to Twitter. It might just be the encouragement they need.
  • Look through your blog comments and check out the commenters' blogs.
  • Find a blog you read frequently that has the followers feature and become a follower.
  • Tweet all of your tweeps and thank them for following you (feel free to RT @sameve).
  • Post a comment on this entry and give a shout out to a great blog that's not getting enough attention.

So, accept the challenge! Do just one of these things and make someone smile. Chances are that someone else will do something nice for you in return. Even if they don't, it's still worth it. Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On My Bookshelf: The Books I Couldn't Put Down


I love to read. Some recent college grads still associate books with academia, and refuse to read for pleasure, but not me. Reading is an escape. A good book is one you can get lost in, totally absorbed, invested in the story. The best books are the ones you can't put down, but you never want to finish because you don't want the story to end. My favorite kinds of books are the ones that make you think. I'm not a fan of pure fluff, I just get bored, but a little bit of a love story never hurts. I'm always looking for something new to read, but it's sometimes difficult to find books that are worthwhile. So, I thought I'd share some of my favorites with the blogosphere, and maybe get some recommendations in return.


Keeping the House
by Ellen Baker

At more than 500 pages in hardcover, this book looked a little daunting. It took me a while, but it was totally worth it. Baker tells the compelling story of a small town housewife longing to be anyone else, anywhere else. Smartly written, the reader experiences the roller coaster of the main character's life along with her, and even after more than 500 pages, doesn't want the story to end.


The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak

This story is narrated by Death. Seriously. And, Death is a remarkably good story teller. It's World War II in Germany, and Death is very busy. Somehow though, Death still finds the time to tell about the life of a young girl and the very different, but equally important, roles that books play in her life.


The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls

This best-selling memoir is a chilling account of growing up in poverty, constantly on the move. With every page, you will find yourself shaking your head in disbelief, wondering if these things really happened. The unique life outlook of Walls' parents is truly captivating. You will remember this book for a long time after you finish reading.


The Kommandant's Girl and The Diplomat's Wife
By Pam Jenoff

These books provide a different perspective on the Holocaust with harrowing tales of survival. Jenoff takes the reader on an endless adventure, with such vivid detail that you feel like you're watching the story unfold. Though the Diplomat's Wife is not exactly a sequel, I recommend reading The Kommandant's Girl first. The stories are fittingly sad, but well worth reading.


The Queen's Fool
By Philippa Gregory

I've recently become a fan of historical fiction, and though I have read several of Gregory's books, this one was by far my favorite. The well-known author of The Other Boleyn Girl, Gregory details the tumultuous times of the Inquisition through the eyes of an unlikely member of the Royal Court. This story provides a look into the drama and controversy of the Tudor Court, and shows just how powerful religion can be.


If you want more info on these books, just let me know. And, please feel free to share your favorites.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How Has Our Worsening Economy Been Affecting Gen Y?

It seems like our economy just keeps getting worse and worse. Every time you turn on the news, or go to a news site online, the majority of the stories are about the various ways our economy is continuing its downward spiral. You can find plenty about Obama's economic stimulus plan, foreclosures and the abysmal state of the housing market, the rise in unemployment, Bernie Madoff's victims, and more...but, what I want to know is something the media hasn't been covering: How has our bad economy been affecting Generation Y?

Personally, there are two major ways that I have felt the economy's effects. Along with thousands of others, I was blessed to be a 2008 college grad, and thrown into one of the worst job markets in years. I applied to over 80 jobs before I was lucky enough to get this one. Difficult though that was, I do certainly count myself among the fortunate, as a growing number of people I know are losing their jobs. Also, our house is on the market, and though we had a decent amount of interest towards the beginning, visits have decreased drastically of late.

Though I could certainly go on and guess about the many ways the economy has affected Gen Yers, I'd rather hear from you.

How has the economy affected you and/or your friends or family? Are you jobless, or did it take you forever to find your current job? Have you had to make major sacrifices because of the state of our economy? Does Gen Y have a story to share that the news outlets are overlooking?

UPDATE: Read Matt Cheuvront's recession job searching story on his blog Life Without Pants.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Remembering Gawa: Why I Support the Alzheimer's Association

I decided that I would designate today as "Philanthropy Friday," and write about a cause that is very important to me. If you read my post about the economy's effect on charities, you know that I'm a supporter of the Alzheimer's Association. In that post, I gave a brief description of why that cause means so much to me, but today I'm going to share the whole story.

My grandma ("Gawa" as I called her) was an amazing lady. She was funny, smart, and strong-willed, and her family meant a lot to her. We were always close, even though she and my grandpa lived in Ohio and I lived in Massachusetts and then New York. She and I would talk on the phone often, and she was always interested in what was going on in my life. I think I might have gotten my love for sending cards from her, because she sent cards for every holiday and occasion. When I was at camp during the summer, she made sure I got plenty of care packages. Even though I was the only grandchild who didn't live in Cleveland, my grandparents made sure that I didn't feel any less loved. I looked forward to visiting them there, and in Florida, and taking cruises with the whole family. Gawa loved beading, the ocean, and spending time with her friends, and she was an avid General Hospital fan.

Several years ago, it seemed like Gawa was forgetting things a lot. For a while, we all figured it was just a result of aging, but after she started having some strange physical symptoms too, she finally went to the doctor. He told her that she had dementia and it was pretty far along. She started taking medication, and at the beginning it seemed like she was pretty much the same. But then, every time I saw her, she had gotten worse. It was a slow, gradual process, but I remember thinking how bad things were each time, and then wishing they could go back to that way the next time.

There are different stages of the disease when certain symptoms are more prominent. I remember one night when my mom and I were visiting my grandparents at their house in Cleveland. We were lying in bed trying to fall asleep, while my grandpa was in the other room trying to get my grandma to take her pills. She started yelling at him, convinced that he was trying to poison her, saying she didn't trust him, and she knew he was just trying to get rid of her. During another visit, we took her to lunch at one of her favorite restaurants and she didn't remember it. She was so quiet that day, she barely spoke and responded to our questions only in disjointed sentences.

After a while, my grandpa hired an aide. But, Gawa hated her, and I mean hated her. She also wasn't trained to deal with people with Alzheimer's or dementia. Fortunately, my mom found a program at a local community center that was affiliated with the Alzheimer's Association. At least there, she was with people who were like her and who understood her condition better.

Although he had put it off as long as possible, things finally got to a point in the fall of 2007 when my grandpa couldn't take care of my grandma on his own anymore. So, she moved into Menorah Park, a campus-sized nursing home and assisted living facility in Cleveland. It was so hard to visit her there. On the one hand, there were so many people who were worse off than she was, at least at the beginning, but on the other hand, she looked so helpless sitting there in a wheelchair that beeped if she tried to get up.

Things continued as they had before. Every visit, she was a little bit worse, but she still seemed happy to see us and knew who we were. Last Spring, she really started to decline. At that point, my mom was visiting once a month, and I was visiting every few months. I think it was in June that we visited for what would be the last time, and fittingly, it was the hardest. For the first time, Gawa didn't know who we were. She stared into the eyes of her only daughter and granddaughter, and as hard as she thought, she just couldn't remember. Throughout the day, she kept looking at us, trying so hard to figure out who these people were who had come to see her, but she never did. In July, her body finally gave into her mind and gave up. In a way, I was happy that she didn't have to suffer anymore, and I hoped with all my heart that she had no idea what was happening to her.

So, if you've made it this far in the post, you understand why the Alzheimer's cause is important to me. I believe that they will one day find a cure, and I plan on doing whatever I can to help so that this terrible disease doesn't cause as much pain for other families as it did for mine. One of the hardest things for me through all of this was feeling so helpless, so in the Fall of 2007, my boyfriend Rob and I participated in the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, we decided pretty late, and didn't have much time to fundraise. So, last year, we were much better prepared, and as a result, we were each able to raise over $500 before participating in the walk in NYC. I am so proud of this contribution! This year, I plan on topping it.

As I said in the post about helping charities in this economy, no amount is too small. The Alzheimer's Association even has a campaign right now for $5 donations. People are often hesitant to donate to causes they don't have a connection to, but please don't let that be an excuse. You've read this post, so now you're connected. Please give, if not to this cause, to another one. We have the power to make a difference.



Rob and Me at Memory Walk 2007 in D.C.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Brake Lights and Back Pain: A Commuter's Rant


Let me first say that I love my job, and it is totally worth commuting to get here. However, that doesn't mean that I love the commuting. In fact, I hate it, and I thought I would take this opportunity to rant, just a little.

Stop. Go. Brake. Accelerate. Speed up. Slow down. Red brake lights ahead for miles, and horns blaring all around. Delays ahead.

This is my commute on the glorious Northern State Parkway of Long Island. The radio stations seem to coordinate their commercials, and I have to laugh when I switch from one to the other and the same song is playing. I like my car, I really do, but I'm not so fond of spending 2-3 hours confined in it every day. I have back pain that I should not be experiencing at 23 years old. It's funny how all of the *expletive deleted* drivers seem to be on the road when I am, amazing that people can be in such a hurry to get where they're going that driving recklessly is worth it.

Pass. Get passed. Switch lanes to avoid the long line of merging cars. Red light. Green light. Slower, faster, slower again.

There are thousands of people who drive to work every day, and many of them have been doing so for years. I've been commuting since November. For two months, I drove an hour plus from my house to Mattituck for a temp job. Every day, I passed wineries and farm stands, and a giant fake cauliflower. My friends and family would joke about how they didn't think it was possible to drive an hour East on Long Island and not end up in the water. Since January, I've been driving an hour plus from my house to Westbury. The opposite direction, with traffic, instead of against it. No giant fake cauliflowers out here.

Some day, when I have a family, I'll probably move back to the suburbs, and I might have to join the ranks of commuters once again. But, for now I'm counting down the days until I move to Brooklyn at the beginning of April, and the train conductors can handle the driving.

Do you commute to work? Take this opportunity to vent! Believe me, it feels good :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Happiest States in the U.S.A.

Disney World may be "The Happiest Place on Earth," but its home state of Florida was beat out as happiest state by some unlikely locales. According to a recently released Gallup survey, Utah, Hawaii and Wyoming are the happiest states in the U.S., and West Virginia is the least happy.

What makes a state "happy" you ask? Through more than 350,000 interviews with inhabitants of various states, Gallup attempted to determine the well-being of the residents, based on things like feelings of safety in their community, eating habits, satisfaction with their job and work environment, and whether they smile or laugh a lot. Each survey was scored based on the answers given and an average score was calculated to determine the rankings. Results are also given by congressional district. (Check out the full list to find out how your state ranks.)

I was a little surprised by the top three. Okay, two of the top three...I can totally understand why people in Hawaii are happy! The other two are not exactly the places where people dream of moving, but maybe that's part of why the people there are so happy. When I think of serenity and relaxation, I think of somewhere calm and quiet, without stress. For me, the ideal place is on a beach somewhere warm, but it's quite possible that the same things can be found in unexpected places. As exciting as it is to live in New York, it can get pretty intense. No, I'm not planning on picking up and moving to Wyoming anytime soon, but this survey definitely got me thinking about happiness.

So, what do you think of this survey? Are you surprised by the top three states? I'd love to hear other people's opinions.

  • How do you judge your level of happiness?
  • What is it that makes you truly happy?
  • Is there anything we can do to make our states happier?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oh Hot Damn, These Are My Jams

If you couldn't tell from the snappy title, courtesy of Flo Rida, this post is about music. As I was driving home yesterday, (in the worst Long Island traffic I've been stuck in since I started commuting), I was thinking about my eclectic music collection. My tastes are pretty varied, but most of the things I listen to are symbolic of something. Some songs remind me of certain people, keep me awake or put me to sleep, calm me down or hype me up, or summarize how I feel better than I can at any given moment. So, I thought I'd go a little deeper into why I listen to certain music. Don't worry, it's not my whole iTunes library, just some examples:

Genres:

Hip-Hop/Dance:
This is what I listen to in the car on my way to and from work. I like the beats and it keeps me awake and alert. This is also what I listen to when I'm getting ready to go out...pump, pump, pump it up etc.

Oldies:
I'm a fan of many older groups, although as a baby of the 80s, that's my favorite decade. My parents listen to Oldies and I like to share this with them.

Acoustic:
By far, my favorite genre. I am endlessly impressed with crazy guitar and piano skills, and I'll listen to acoustic stuff anytime. It's calming and it's easy to sing to.

Artist Shout Outs:

Josh Kelley:
My favorite artist! Props to my good friend Andrea for introducing me to JK's music. He has an amazing voice and is very musically talented. You might know him from the popular "Amazing" from a couple years back, but I prefer songs like "Almost Honest," "Tidal Wave," and "Just To Be Me." P.S. He's also married to Katherine Heigl from Grey's Anatomy.

Pat McGee:
I went to a JK concert in Fall 07 in Virginia and Pat McGee Band was the other headliner. I was instantly hooked and I've been a big fan ever since. They can really rock out. The thing I like most about PMG is that he captures emotions so well. A number of the bands' recent songs reflect their feelings after the death of their drummer, Chris Williams. "Come Back Home" and "End of October" were extremely meaningful to me last summer.

Journey:
Who doesn't love Journey? Come on, you'd be lying if you said you've never belted out "Don't Stop Believin'" and loved it! (Shout out to Lindsey and McFadden's for this one :))

A few songs worth mentioning:

  • "More Than a Feeling" by Boston (Go Red Sox!)
  • "That's What Friends Are For" by Dion Warwick (Bar/Bat Mitzvah party fave)
  • "Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls (Middle School memories)
  • "Cupid Shuffle" by Cupid (Cousin bonding)

As you can see, pretty much everything I listen to has a meaning for me. Most things either make me feel a certain way or are tied to a memory. Music can be so powerful, so meaningful, so moving.

Look through your playlist, and think about why you love those songs. I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face.

Oh hot damn, what are your jams? I would love to hear about them!

Monday, March 9, 2009

No One Really Cares About Your Three Greatest Strengths

If you've ever attended a career services session, read a job search guide, or skimmed the articles on job search engine sites, you've seen them: the list of standard interview questions. Some of my favorites:

  1. What are your three greatest strengths?
  2. What is your greatest weakness? (NOTE: Find a way to make this into a strength)
  3. Describe how you overcame a difficult situation?
  4. Where do you see yourself in five years?
  5. What can you contribute to this company?

All of these sound like reasonable interview questions, and as much as I mock them, some incarnation of these questions is almost always asked at an interview. However, a word of advice: practicing your answers to the stock questions over and over is not a good way to prepare for an interview. But Sam, you just said that most interviewers ask these questions, didn't you? Yes, I did, but the key words are "some incarnation of these questions." Therefore, if you prepare your answers too much, you'll probably wind up stuck.

I'm a bit of a "Nervous Nellie." I do a great job of over thinking and making my stomach do somersaults in high pressure situations. (I should say, I did, as I've gotten much better). Interviews were one such situation. I went to numerous career center sessions, memorized lists of potential questions and went over and over the answers I would give to each one. Unfortunately, this didn't always work so well. If an interviewer asked me a question I hadn't prepared for, or took a different approach to asking one I had worked on, I was immediately flustered. I applied to over 80 jobs and had about half a dozen interviews, but never got the job.

Here's what I learned:
  • No one really cares about your three greatest strengths. They don't really want a list of one, two, three.
  • The best way to prepare is by knowing yourself and being confident in your abilities. Think back to experiences you've had and what you learned from them. Ask yourself, what am I good at, and what could I improve upon? Examples are key.
  • Don't worry about having the exact answer to every question, in fact, it's best if you don't.
  • If you're bringing a notepad, write down some key words that you could look at to jog your memory if need be, but don't write out full answers to questions.
  • Learn as much as you can about the organization and the person interviewing you. LinkedIn can be a great tool.
  • If an interview doesn't go well, don't beat yourself up about it, tempting though it may be. It's probably not the right place for you anyway.

When I interviewed at CPX Interactive last December, the experience was unlike any of the other interviews I'd had. As soon as I walked in the room, I felt a positive vibe. The interviewer (who is now my boss) and I had a great conversation. I didn't feel like I was being interrogated, which is thanks to his interviewing style, but I also didn't allow myself to over think my answers. They came from my heart.

When you go on college tours, you're always searching for the one place that feels like it could be home for the next four years. You can't force the feeling, it just comes to you when you're at the right place. Finding the place you're meant to work can be much the same. If you sit down in the interview room and your nerves instantly calm, you feel a connection with the interviewer, and your answers to questions are fueled by the excitement and passion you're feeling for the job you want, that's probably the place for you.

To sum all of this up: Be yourself. Be confident. Don't over think or over memorize. Show your greatest strengths through the work you've done. Don't give up, things will work out eventually.

For another great post on being yourself, check out Jamie Varon's Blog intersected.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Life Is Precious

Yesterday I learned of the death of a member of the Eisner Camp family, Jonah Dreskin. Jonah, a 19-year old freshman at the University of Buffalo, was found in critical condition lying on a campus road Sunday night, and died on the way to the hospital. Police are still investigating the cause of his death. I didn't really know Jonah, but I knew of him. He was a fellow rabbi's kid, and spent many years at camp like I did. Though I didn't really know him, I wish I had. I've been reading people's memories of him on the wall of a Facebook group that was created in his memory, and he sounds like an amazing person. If there was ever a Web 2.0 tribute, the group's 900+ members is certainly one of the best I've seen. Jonah clearly touched many lives and will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, and may his memory be a blessing.

If you've been reading my blog since the beginning, you know that last summer I lost my friend Max. He was only 21, and he had just started to turn his life around. Max meant a lot to me and I can't remember the last time I told him how proud of him I was, or how much I valued his friendship. I miss him every day. The truth is, life isn't fair, bad things happen to good people, and people die too young. The best we can do is live our lives to the fullest, and make sure that we don't take anything or anyone for granted.

When I was about 9 years old, my dad had a heart attack. It was without question the scariest night of my life, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I think that was the first time that I truly realized that life is precious. It made me think about how much I value the people in my life.

I've always been the kind of person who likes to make people feel special. If you read my 25 things post yesterday, you saw that #11 is I like to send cards for birthdays and other occasions. I've sent cards for Rosh Hashanah, Halloween, Christmas/Hanukkah, and Valentine's Day, though not all of them every year, and I try to send birthday cards to my close friends as much as I can. I hardly ever get any back, but that's okay because that's not why I do it. I just think about my friends getting the cards in the mail and the smile on their faces when they open it, and that's all I need. It's sounds really cheesy, but it's true.

So, remember that life is precious. I challenge everyone who is reading this to appreciate someone today. Thank someone for doing a good job or helping you out, tell a friend that you're glad to have them in your life, send an e-mail to a relative you haven't spoken to in a long time. Don't worry about sounding too sappy or lame. Tell someone that they are important to you, that you love them, that you miss them...because the truth is that you never know what tomorrow will bring. How are you going to make the most of today?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

25 Things About Me

I'm not too big on the Facebook Notes, so I passed on this one when it was "all the rage" a couple of weeks ago, but I thought I'd give it a shot here:

1. I'm an only child, but I'm lucky to have an amazing cousin who is like a brother to me.

2. I am the only girl among all the first cousins on either side of my family.

3. Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood does actually exist, and I've been there.

4. I love ice cream.

5. I think growing up is overrated, and I'm still a fan of Elmo.

6. I drink Swiss Miss Fat Free Marshmallow Lovers Hot Chocolate every morning. Yum!

7. I've been a Patriots fan my whole life, and I remember vividly (and painfully) when they lost to Green Bay in the Super Bowl.

8. I hate bandwagon sports fans.

9. Until the past couple of years, we have never lived near our extended family.

10. I don't eat pork or shellfish, but I do eat cheeseburgers.

11. I love to send cards for birthdays and other occasions.

12. I am very easily amused.

13. Some of my best friends are very far away, and I miss them (Alaska, Egypt, Cali)

14. I moved to New York with my parents when I was 16, but I will never consider myself a New Yorker.

15. My idea of paradise is a beach in the Caribbean, and I'm lucky enough to have experienced it a number of times (though not recently)

16. I love to travel. I've been to Israel twice, and went to Prague, Krakow, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Marseilles, Madrid, Granada, Rome, and Venice (I think that's all of them) with NFTY Europe

17. I got a parasite in Spain and was confined to my hotel room in Paris while on that trip. It sucked.

18. One of the most powerful experiences of my life was visiting Auschwitz while in Poland, and I think it's something that everyone should do in their lifetime.

19. I love Eisner Camp. I spent 7 years there as a camper and 3 on staff. It's where I really formed my Jewish identity, and formed lifelong friendships.

20. I almost didn't go back after my first year at Eisner because some mean girl called me a "b with an itch."

21. My secret dream is to have a show where I could be the Fashion Police. I have a little voice in my head that provides constant fashion commentary.

22. I love shoes.

23. I made countless 5 hour long drives to and from Ithaca because I love my boyfriend.

24. Next month, he and I are moving to Brooklyn and I couldn't be more excited.

25. I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, share yours!

So, there you have it. I hope you learned something new. Feel free to leave some comments or share some things about you. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Beauty of Nature




Photos taken in Siesta Key, FL and Cape Neddick, ME

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

If You Forgive, But Don't Forget, Can You Ever Move On?

We've all heard this mantra before, "forgive, but don't forget." It's often seen as a compromise between continued animosity and getting over the issue completely. But, there are a number of flaws in this rationale. Even if you are willing to forgive, the simple fact that you will never forget how someone has wronged you means that your relationship with that person could be forever changed. That wrongdoing will always be in the back of your mind.

Am I saying that we should only forgive someone if we really mean it? If we're sure that we can work to get the relatinoship back to where it was before? Not necessarily. Forgiveness is a tough thing. How many of us have been able to say I forgive you, and mean it 100%? Some people are easy to forgive, some find the strength to forgive and move on in the most difficult situations.

If you've turned on a TV, gone online, or opened a magazine in the past month, you know about the incident between Rihanna and Chris Brown. Well, the most recent turn of events in that storyline fits right in with the topic of forgiveness. Rumors are swirling that Rihanna and Brown have reconciled and are allegedly back together. My intial gut reaction is how could she forgive someone who, despite his love for her, beat her up and left her to suffer less than a month ago? Has she decided to forgive, but not forget? If so, can their relationship ever be the same? Would she be better off cutting ties with him completely?

The deeper question is, when someone does something so hurtful that we feel it in every bone of our body, can we ever truly forgive? Can we maintain a healthy relationship with someone even if we promise ourselves we will never forget?

forgiveness
noun

1. compassionate feelings that support a willingness to forgive
2. the act of excusing a mistake or offense
(Dictionary.com)


What's your definition?

Monday, March 2, 2009

So, what's the point of all of those social networking sites anyway?

If you're someone who spends a lot of time writing on your blog, checking Facebook, updating Twitter, connecting on Brazen Careerist etc., you've probably been asked this question at least once. So, what do you say to the naysayers out there? You could refer them to countless articles and blog posts about the value of social networking sites to businesses, or mention the wide variety of people and organizations that can be followed on Twitter. Well, here are a few pointers for explaining your love of the Web 2.0 world to those who aren't a part of it:

  1. Emphasize what you've gotten out of these sites, all of the connections you've made, and how each site serves a different purpose. The more you can back up your positive opinions, the better.
  2. Show the doubtful one the sites instead of just talking about them. This way, they can have a picture in their mind to go along with the name.
  3. If all else fails, suggest that they try it out for themselves before passing judgement. After all, pretty much all of these sites are free and it's what you put into it that determines what you get out of it.

I have always been a bit of a technology geek. I love electronics and gadgets, and I'm always looking for new websites to explore. But, a lot of the people in my life aren't so technologically advanced, or just don't have much of an interest in it. So, I was very happy when CPX added a new page to our website that provides links to everything I've been working on since I started in January. Now, when someone asks me what it is I actually do at work, I can show them.

So, what's the point of all of those social networking sites anyway? For me, it's a way to connect to people in my industry, keep up with the latest news, share my thoughts on things that are going on in my life and in the world, meet new people and reconnect with old friends, promote my company in fun and innovative ways, learn from others...and so much more.

How would you answer this question? What's the point of all of those social networking sites FOR YOU? Is Twitter overrated? Has Facebook gotten out of touch? Are blogs just a soapbox for people to vent about their lives? Or is online social networking the best thing since sliced bread?

Update: For more on this topic, check out this post on Intersected, an awesome blog!

Friday, February 27, 2009

When It's a Good Idea to Tell Your Boss About Your Personal Life

Let's face it, as much as we may love our job and truly enjoy coming to the office every day, we do have lives beyond our cubicles. (At least I hope we do!). We try our hardest to keep our personal lives separate from work, but what do we do when we're dealing with something tough in our personal lives? Is it okay to tell our boss what's going on? How do we do this without crossing a line? And how do we make sure it doesn't effect our working relationship?

There are certain things that happen that make us sad, like breaking up with a significant other or fighting with a friend or family member. Horrible though they may seem at the time, the hurt and anger will pass. Sometimes though, we're dealing with tougher issues like sickness, death, or divorce...what do we do then? Of course, it depends on the environment of your office and the way people relate to each other, as well as the relationships that you have with your co-workers and superiors. But, here's a general rule of thumb: if whatever you're dealing with may at some point interfere with your work or affect your mood in a way that people would notice, tell your boss.

It doesn't have the be the higher ups of the company, in fact it probably shouldn't be, but make a point of taking your direct supervisor aside. Tell them that you just wanted to make them aware of something that's going on in your life and then tell them only the basics. It might be an awkward conversation, but believe me, it'll make you feel better afterwards.

I've done this twice, and both times were totally worth it. Because when you're emotionally drained, it shows, and then you might end up trying to explain on the spot, and it probably won't go the way you want it to. If you've read my earlier blog entries, you know that my grandma suffered from dementia. While I was interning in D.C., we found out that she also had ovarian cancer. At the time, we didn't know how bad it was or how quickly it would affect her, so I was worried all the time. I took my supervisor aside and told her what was going on, and later, when I thought I might have to take an emergency trip to Ohio to see my grandma, my boss was totally supportive.

Obviously, what you share with your boss is your choice, but don't just assume that you have to keep it all inside. Here's another piece of advice: work can be a great distraction from the tough stuff. Although it's nice to stop thinking about sad things for a while, make sure you still make time for yourself to be sad. Otherwise, it'll keep building up inside you and eventually fall down like an avalanche without warning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is There Anything That Isn't Sponsored These Days?

Now that I'm working in the advertising/marketing industry, I understand more than ever how important it is for companies to get their name out there as much as possible. In fact, a big part of my job is to use Web 2.0 sites to promote my company (CPX Interactive!) and make connections. But, that said, I think sponsorships have gotten a little crazy.

I started thinking about this yesterday as I was stuck in traffic on the Northern State Parkway, one of Long Island's finest roadways. As the traffic report came on, it was introduced as "Insert Company Name Here Traffic," but when the traffic person started the report, they said that today's traffic was sponsored by "Insert Other Company Name." Then, as I flipped between stations throughout my ride, I found that this was the case on several of the stations I listen to, AND the overall traffic sponsor (the first Insert Name Here) is the same on all of these stations. Isn't that like some sort of weird monopoly?

So, this led me to think about other strange sponsorships I've seen in recent years. Sporting events are the source of pretty much all of these occurrences. For example, the nets on the goalposts at college football games, and a different sponsor for pre-game, halftime, post-game, random stats report mid-game, timeouts, replays, and players of the game. And we can't forget that pretty much every sporting arena in the country has a corporate sponsor and name, and some companies sponsor teams, or the CEO of the company is also the owner of a team. A little ridiculous, no?

Yes, I understand that companies need to advertise, and they try to think of innovative ways to do so. But, every time I see something like this, it makes me think about just how far it could go. Will companies one day compete to put their logo on sweat towels, yard lines, and basketball nets? Will they want to sponsor Wednesday's weather report or every rap song that a radio station plays? I know, some of these are a bit of a stretch, but you really never know.

I'm curious, what's the weirdest thing you've seen sponsored? Any creative ideas for how far it could go in the future? Feel free to leave comments!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hard Economic Times Hurt Charities Too, We Can Help!

The effects of our struggling economy reach far beyond lost jobs, government bailouts, house foreclosures, and Wall Street chaos. Unfortunately, non-profits and charities are also suffering as our economy worsens. People are losing money, or are afraid of losing money, so they cut back on everything, even charitable donations. But, just because we can't afford to contribute as much as we're used to, doesn't mean we should stop contributing entirely.

Some of us may have lost our jobs, lost money in the stock market, or been forced out of our house because we couldn't pay our mortgage...but, at least we don't have to be afraid of malaria, or have a genocide going on in our country. Regardless of the state of our economy, people still suffer from horrible diseases like cancer and Alzheimer's. So, don't stop donating! No amount is too small.

This is what I told my friends and family as I raised money for the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk last fall. I had a number of donations that were under $20, and the largest amount I received from one person was $100, but all of those together totaled almost $600, and I was so proud to be able to donate so much to such a worthy cause. Alzheimer's disease is a cause that is close to my heart. My grandmother, who passed away last summer, suffered from dementia for several years, and it was horrible to watch her deteriorate. I plan on participating in the walk as many years as I can and continuing to raise as much money as possible because I believe that one day there will be a cure, and people won't have to suffer like my grandma and my family did.

So, pick a cause that's important to you, or one that you find worthwhile. Donate $5 every month, or every other month, or whenever you can. Skip going out to lunch one day, and you'll make up for the money just like that. Don't think that small an amount will make a difference? It will. Check out Nothing But Nets. A $10 donation covers the entire cost of one bed net to protect people in Africa from malaria. Just ten dollars can save a life. Some Americans have it pretty bad right now, but it could always be worse. So, don't stop giving!

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Value of an Internship (even if it's not in your field!)

I think internships are awesome. Over the course of my college career, I had three very different internships, and I learned a lot from all of them. With the economy the way it is, and jobs becoming harder and harder to find, it seems that many college grads are turning to paid internships as a way to make money and hopefully gain knowledge. But, many have had to settle for internships that are not in their field or area of interest. When you can't find a job and your college loans are staring over your shoulder, the choice becomes an internship you may not like or a part time job. So, does taking such an internship make the internship less valuable?

When I started school, I knew I wanted to major in print journalism because I loved to write. But, I didn't know what kind of career I wanted to pursue. Initially, I assumed I would write for a paper or magazine, but my internships showed me just how many other options there are.

My first internship was with the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. I worked in the Communications office, and spent most of my time implementing the skills I had learned in a Writing for the Web course to overhaul a section of the website. I learned about working for a non-profit and how I could use my skills in that kind of setting.

Next, I spent a summer interning for Sesame Workshop. That experience was the prime example of why it's worth it to intern in an area that may not be your favorite. I worked in the Digital Media department. My biggest project at Sesame was creating test scripts for two new websites, and assisting with the testing itself. My Information Systems Management minor was really put to work, and I enjoyed what I was doing, but I missed writing. So, I sought out other people in my department who worked with written content and I offered to help. Whenever I had downtime from my usual work, I would touch base with those people again, and as I result, I got to do some writing and editing. I learned the importance of taking the initiative and being flexible.

My last internship was with the NFL Players Association, with the communications department of the marketing arm of the union known as NFL PLAYERS. It would take me forever to name all the different things I got to do there, but I loved it all. Whether I was researching awards, collecting clips, copying DVDs or interviewing players, everything taught me something different. I love football, which helped me to be passionate about my work, even if it was something less desirable like putting a mailing together, I was still motivated to do a great job. The most rewarding thing was to be able to interview players and write about them for the website. I worked hard on my first article, and was entrusted with a whole series of articles as a result.

Notice that at no point did I intern at a "traditional media outlet," far from it. But, interning at these places opened my eyes to the options I had, which was a great help when I started applying for jobs. The diversity of my internships boosted my resume, and the varied experience I accumulated has since proven invaluable on a number of levels. So my advice is to intern, whether you're an undergrad or post-grad, even if you can't possibly see the worth in it. You may not realize it, but every experience you have at an internship, good or bad, seemingly insignificant or not, teaches you something about yourself. Don't scoff at an internship opportunity just because it's not a "real job," or because it's not something you'd ever want to do. You might be surprised. And make sure you're learning something while you're there, if not, take the initiative, because otherwise why are you there?