Archives for the month of: November, 2013

Mary Kate:

It is probably cliché to write about thankfulness during the week of Thanksgiving, but I just couldn’t help myself! When I think about this past year and everything I have experienced in my personal life and my career transition, I can’t believe how generous others have been to me. Without the help of my family, friends, and mentors, I would not be where I am today and I mean that sincerely. I count myself lucky to have such caring and selfless people in my life.

I wrote in a post a few weeks ago about some help I received from a neighbor—he gave me his (employed) nieces’ email addresses and said they would be happy to speak to me about how to effectively job search. These two educated, successful women have careers similar to what I was looking for at the time and they happily answered my questions and gave me advice. Thinking about that now, I am struck by how readily my neighbor helped me and how open and friendly his nieces were. I am more thankful than I can say that they took the time out of their days to speak to me.

As always, I am thankful for Karen, who has been and continues to be an incredible mentor. She offered suggestions and encouragement when I was at my lowest point. Job transitioning is incredibly stressful for any one and Karen understood and empathized with my situation, probably more than most people. She always looked for freelance writing projects, blog posts, or other work for me to do so I could hone my writing and editing skills while I searched for a career. She was endlessly patient with me, even when I thought that there was nothing out there for me and I just wanted to give up. She introduced me to Heidi, my fellow lovely blogger at Unveil Your Brilliance, and we get along and work so well together. I am amazed by Heidi’s energy and flow of ideas and I am always impressed with her positive outlook. Heidi inspires me to search for more to do and explore outside the confines of my career because she is always looking for more to enrich her life and her experiences.  I am truly grateful for the influence of both wonderful women.

I could go on and on about each of my past employers/mentors for paragraphs and paragraphs, but I’m sure no one would have any idea what I’m talking about. I could not claim to have the skills I have today without my previous employers and their constant encouragement and unfailing kindness. I have been lucky in my (short) experience of past jobs in that I have always had a thoughtful, successful boss who distinguished him or herself as a leader. I was able to learn from that example and I thank those people for mentoring me.

Finally, I have to thank my family, especially my parents. They were so happy when I finally transitioned into a full-time career, probably because they were sick and tired of hearing me complain (haha)! But honestly, without their support and positivity I would be nowhere right now.

I wanted to write this post to remind everyone to remain thankful for what they have because so many people are not so lucky. And make sure those closest to you know how much they mean to you; let them know how grateful you are for their help, support, and love. This time of year makes me think about what it really means to be thankful for who and what you have in your life, and I am indebted to my support system.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!Image

Photo by woodleywonderwork on Flickr

 

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Heidi: 

I tweeted about a Bruno Mars song on Sunday night.

Heidi's tweet.

In my last blog, I said that upcoming blogs would focus on my practice of vulnerability.  Criticizing Bruno Mars’ lyrics over social media is not exactly what one would call ‘practicing vulnerability’.  In fact, I would say that it is quite the opposite.  I criticized behind a computer screen with no evidence to back up my critique.

As I was going to bed that night, I whipped out my phone and opened the notes section as I normally do.  Recently, I’ve been practicing a grateful journal in order to teach myself to stay in the moment during busy days.  I began writing one and then a pang of guilt hit me right in the stomach.  The tweet from earlier that day swept my thoughts.

If I am supposed to be grateful, noting my friends’ generosity or Downton Abbey’s great writing that lead me to new revelations, then how can I not think about the nasty comment I made on twitter earlier?

When I first tweeted the comment, I had just read the lyrics and thought they were both vulgar and misogynistic.  I immediately reached for my phone and wrote the tweet.  Click.

I thought about that “click” later and wondered whether twitter was to blame for my snide comment.  Twitter only allows 140 characters.  How was I supposed to back up my comment when there was hardly any space?  I couldn’t include the lyrics that I thought were most poignant to my thoughts on the matter or any further explanation to support my argument.

But my initial thoughts were wrong:

I was to blame, not twitter.

There is a paraphrased quote that comes to mind when thinking about how to live and speak (and post on social media):

At the end of the day, at the end of the week, at the end of my life, I want to contribute more than I criticize.

I’m not saying not to question and critique things, because that’s healthy and necessary for growth.  But I am saying that it’s important to consider what kind of energy you are bringing to the micro-moments in your life. Everything counts.  Our lives are made up of those small moments, like when you choose to smile at someone that you’re walking past, when you choose to hold the door for someone, or when you post a quick thought on social media.  In the future, I need to consider how much I am contributing before I criticize.

Mary Kate:

Last week, Heidi wrote a great post about how important it is to remain humble, vulnerable, and honest in your daily dealings, whether you’re at work or with friends and family. I wanted to write something about that and relate it to my job and how I can embody these characteristics at work every day.

My weekly schedule is very full at work and, though I know there will be some “easy” weeks, it feels as though the work will never end. I don’t meant to say that I don’t enjoy what I do, because I do, it can just be overwhelming sometimes (and, really, who isn’t at least a little overwhelmed at work?). This constant go go go schedule also has me concerned about doing my job right the first time so I don’t get behind, despite the fact that I am still learning things every day. In a situation like this, I think it is so important to remind myself to stay humble and, like Heidi said, vulnerable. I can’t be afraid to go to my supervisor “hat in hand” and ask a question…or 10. I am in no position to think that I have all the answers or that I can fix issues that I come across without some help (not yet, anyway). I’ve only been in my position for a little over a month and I know it will be far worse if I try to fix something or solve a problem on my own if I’m not sure what I’m dealing with.

I can’t be afraid to approach the people in charge–the people who have trained me and whose job it is to supervise and help me with my work–and ask questions. I think it is human nature to want to solve a problem on their own the first time and appear not to need help but I’ve learned, slowly and painstakingly, that that’s not the way to handle things in a career or in life. With an attitude like that, you will end up frazzled and with more problems on your plate than you had before.

I want to be the person that asks 1,000 questions for the first few months or even year on the job, so that after that time I can feel more confident and in control because I got the answers I needed right away.

Image
Photo Credit

The quote in this photo might sound a little cheesy but it’s true–how much courage does it take to walk up to your boss and admit that you don’t have all the answers? How do you ask for help on the job or in life?

Indiana Jones fedora hat

Heidi:

I started typing a blog yesterday to post today that was about all of the events I attended since my last blog.  And then I made a phone call.

***

I’ve had to do a lot of things this year with my hat in my hands.  This idiom describes one of the most valuable lessons I am learning at the moment.   I say “learning at the moment” and not “learned thus far” because as long as I am still on this messy road called life, I am still learning.  I won’t except that I am done learning life’s lessons.  There is always room for new knowledge and growth.

For me, the phrase “with hat in hand” evokes an image of humility.  I see a person who recognizes their limitations and goes to talk to another person, taking away anything that can mask their true self and true emotion (i.e. the hat).  Of course, with humility comes vulnerability and for most of my life I believed that was weakness.  Then I saw Brené Brown’s TEDx Houston talk and it changed my mind.

Brené calls vulnerability the key to living a wholehearted life.  A wholehearted life is about having the courage to show up and be seen, no matter how messy and imperfect, while simultaneously believing that you are worthy of love and belonging.  I aspire to live a whole hearted life.  This year (and this morning, for that matter) felt like a step in the right direction.

This morning I made a phone call that I didn’t want to make.  I was scared.  I knew that my hat was off and plainly in my shaking hands.  There was no shade to cover my imperfections, only the light of my honesty to shine on my nervous face.  I asked for some of the responsibility I am holding in a position to be put on hold for a few weeks while I try to get my head on straight.  It was difficult to ask for but the other half of the conversation ended up understanding and appreciating my honesty.  I couldn’t be more grateful.  Even if the conversation had turned sour, I still would have been able to take heart in the fact that I was completely honest and forthcoming.   It would have been worth it either way.   I recommend showing up and being seen to anyone.

An upcoming blog will follow up on this idea of vulnerability via Brené’s book Daring Greatly and examples of me trying out a wholehearted life like this morning, but for now, see this link to Brené brown’s TEDx talk—you won’t regret it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4Qm9cGRub0

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