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    When Passion and Career Collide

    Growing up, I have always enjoyed writing. In the fifth grade, we were given an assignment for “kite day” where we had to write a short story about our kite. Naturally, my kite went wherever the wind blew it and the kite traveled the world – Italy, Hawaii and places I can’t remember.

    As I stood up and finished reading my story in front of the class, I received the loudest applause. In that moment, I knew writing was something that would stick with me forever. And although I am my biggest critic and my own worst enemy, I enjoy it.

    Writing has led me to many opportunities: resurrecting my high school newspaper as editor-in-chief, journalism school, freelance gigs, a career in public relations and more.

    While studying at the Mayborn School of Journalism at UNT, I joined a sorority that opened my eyes to the world of vision impairment and blindness. In college, I volunteered numerous hours for our philanthropy and ensured I plugged it in nearly every conversation I had.

    Today, I volunteer each week for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. You may have read a couple of blog articles I’ve written about my experience or maybe even scrolled past my many tweets about technology affecting vision loss. In a true journalistic fashion, I read and ask questions related to blindness/vision impairment.

    But a theme in my questions has surfaced.

    Day-to-day, I work on strategies for clients in a wide-range of industries.

    • What’s the story?
    • What should people know about client XYZ?
    • How do we relay the story?

    I try to keep up with the trends: how people are getting their news, how people make decisions for their business, etc. The one topic that always comes up in the advertising/PR industry is diversity.

    The focus has shifted in companies everywhere on how to hire more minorities, get more women into c-suites, ensure each group is represented in commercials and billboards — all very good, thoughtful things for the world. The one area I wish I had more answers was marketing to the blind/visually impaired.

    Vision affects everyone. Blindness is not racist, it’s not elitist. It doesn’t care about where you are from, what religion you practice, or who you choose to love. But it affects everything.

    Think of a commercial that’s currently running. Is it the sad ASPCA commercial? What makes it sad? Well, the song is indeed depressing, but what else? Perhaps it’s the shivering, beat up dog looking at the camera with its big ‘ole puppy eyes (kills me every time).

    Now close your eyes and listen. Does it still have the same effect or does it just make you want to tell Sarah Mclachlan to sing a different song?

    This is where my mind goes. This is my sign.

    After being exposed to volunteering and working in the industry, I am now on a mission to learn how we can better market to the blind/visually impaired community. Marketing/Ad/PR can be so fun and it is so influential, but there is much work that needs to be done as far as inclusivity.

    I’ve recently accepted my offer to start my master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) at Emerson College this spring. It’s only step one of my mission, but definitely a leap for me and my career. I hope to do research on inclusivity – particularly with the blind/visually impaired and I’d like to invite you to join the ride. I’ve been lucky to gain the support of my agency and colleagues, because if I am successful and armed with the knowledge and experience, it will set us apart from other agencies.

    It’s happening.

    Mastering The Buckets of Balance

    I have to be busy.

    Maybe it started in high school. I spent my time well into the dark hours working on a newspaper deadline or at theater rehearsals. In college, my time was consumed with my sorority, part-time job and other organizations. Now, I’ve continued my involvement in the community, freelance writing, the sorority and work.

    I recently sent out a Snapchat photo of my calendar.

    Outlining my work schedule, social life and the different organizations I’m involved in, the image was quite terrifying (and colorful). The questions started pouring in.

    “Do you ever get tired?” Yes.

    “Do you get good sleep?” Sometimes.

    Until recently, I tried juggling it all; sacrificing my weeknights and weekends for everything I could fit in. Then I hit a wall.

    “There are buckets to life, you know,” my sorority sisters said during our monthly boarding meeting. “You have to figure out which buckets are important to you and try not to overflow.”

    They were right. They saw it in my face – the wall that was screaming for help. I loved all of my projects, but I stopped having a social life and practicing self-care. I began to resent my projects and my mental health took a turn. I was no longer happy. So I made some changes.

    I Rearranged My Schedule

    I switched a weekend volunteer shift in order to free up my Saturday, and it has helped tremendously. Now I have one day out of the week where I don’t feel to be somewhere at a given time and maybe can sleep in a little. I also created a set routine for the week: Mondays are my writing nights; Tuesdays are for the gym; Wednesdays are for Dean; Thursdays are my social nights; and Fridays are my “me” nights. While it’s subject to change, I at least know what’s in store every week.

    I Quit

    It sounds harsh, but I had to rethink some of my memberships and my involvement. While it’s unfortunate as I loved spending my time in the community, I had to weigh which organizations/projects were most important to me. I was fortunate enough to have their understanding and have the opportunity to give and support in other ways.

    I Have Dedicated “Me” Time

    As I mentioned earlier, my Friday nights are for unwinding. Usually people are out and about being social, but I like getting home at a reasonable hour to make dinner and unwind on the couch. By Friday, I’m usually exhausted from the week’s adventures. These couple of hours I spend on my couch or curled up in my bed set me up for a great weekend.

    I’m Practicing Self-Care

    Self-care means something different for everyone. For me, it’s my faith. I grew up in the church and in a very faithful home, so reconnecting with God has helped me feel lighter and better. I also have been making the effort to stop feeling guilty for saying “no” to people or feeling like a failure for not being able to do it all. Alas, I am human and I cannot do it all. Without the guilt, it’s been so much easier to do the things I enjoy and want to do, even if it is just spending a night in watching a movie.

    While I haven’t 100 percent mastered the art of balance, I’ve gotten to a great start! How do you balance the buckets of life? Any tips?

    On Discovering Your Own Version of ‘Glam’

    Earlier this summer, I was prepping for one of my first new business meetings at my agency. In these meetings, we meet with potential clients and try to sell them on our work.

    Every business has a different business development strategy.

    Some spend hours sifting through public and highly-competitive RFPs,RFIs, CFPs.. you name it. Some rely solely on relationships they have cultivated over time and others do a mix of both. The process can be very rigid or fluid, and I’ve seen it done both ways.

    After a solid week of research, analyzing their current strategy and re-reading our written proposal, it was the day before our meeting. My boss (who successfully started the agency prior to our combination and is probably the best boss I’ve had) came up to me at the end of the day saying, “No need to look fancy, but wear whatever you’re comfortable in for our meeting tomorrow.

    In college, we were required to wear business attire every time we had to give a presentation to the class. When I got my first job, my mom took me shopping for work attire (similar to back-to-school shopping). It has always been stressed to us that we need to look our absolute best to feel our best and make a good impression. So, for my boss — the successful business man that he is — to say no need to look fancy for a meeting that could win the company money was really interesting.

    Our car ride together sparked the conversation of attire in our industry, how to dress and personal style.

    You see, my boss wears shorts. Even in the dead of New England winter. He loves his t-shirts, too. For some of the important meetings, he will wear a button-down and jeans. Why? Because that is what makes him feel his best and most confident. “If someone doesn’t like the way I dress or the way I behave, then they aren’t for me. That’s okay – I’m not everyone’s cup of tea,” he said… well along those lines. And it made so much sense. He was right.

    We have put so much emphasis on the way we dress, style our hair and makeup, that we have become so superficial and hold people to a sometimes unattainable standard.

    Last weekend, I spent some time with one of my roommate’s friends. Having just met her, she tried to dress me and mold me into an image similar to hers. Our styles are vastly different and naturally, she didn’t know that. By trying to keep up and sort of take her advice, I took a look in the mirror and felt very uncomfortable. It wasn’t me. I changed back into my comfortable flats and colorful wrap/shawl and felt much better.

    What works for her didn’t work for me. What works for CEO of XYZ doesn’t work for my boss. Makeup doesn’t work for Alicia Keys, while others don’t leave the house without it. We are all different humans, bodies, faces and minds. It’s important to stay true to yourself and create your own personal version of “Glam“.

    For me, my glam (or “Slam”) is flats, cropped pants, a blouse with a statement necklace.

    For others, it’s a dress with heels or an outfit you wear to yoga.

    As I’ve grown as an individual, I’ve learned to stop giving myself so much grief on my style, my clothes, the way I look, etc. Life is too short to spend your time crying over trying to keep up with the Joneses. You look your best when you feel your best.

    What’s your version of Glam?