Taking Off:

Guest Post SERIES1

nickThe third post in my guest post series is someone I’ve known all his life: my brother Nick. We didn’t always get along as well as we do now. He didn’t really like it so much that our older brother and I teased him relentlessly. I’d like to take some credit for his success in life. I’m confident that the fact that after he developed a little stutter when he was younger (after me always interrupting him or finishing his stories for him) and my yelling, “HURRY UP AND FINISH YOUR SENTENCE” helped him persevere in difficulty and made him a heartier person. He really doesn’t stutter anymore.

Twice in the past three years, as the wheels left the tarmac, the plane took off and so did I.

To a new city, to a new job, a new place, friends, struggles, and adventures–that’s where I was going. The first time, I packed a bag and the day after college graduation, flew out to a new life on the west coast. In the young hours of the morning as my classmates were stumbling back home from celebrating our accomplishments as students, I was waiting for my flight. A quiet, empty departure terminal early in the morning is a place ripe for second guessing and the decision to take a job on the other side of the country was either an accomplishment I should be celebrating too, or a mistake of a severity I hadn’t yet discovered.

The second time was an out-of-the blue offer to take a job at a tech startup in New York City. I had been out west for a year and was just settling in but it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. As over the PA, “Flight 132 to Newark International, Final Boarding Call” echoed through the empty terminal, I pulled myself out of the cold and uncomfortable seat to find my place on a one-way flight to a scary new city. Again.

You hear it in different ways. “He’s never been the same since his dad took off.” Or, “Her career really took off when she cracked into the local business development community.” Part of taking off means leaving something behind and if not done right can be really hurtful. But in a lot of ways, to start something new you have to leave things behind. You have to end relationships, sell off belongings that you value, and walk away from the impression you’ve left on people (which you use to identify your personality). But that process creates an experience which will strongly define you.

Sometimes to really take off, you need to take off.

It doesn’t need to be as drastic as packing your life in to a bag and moving to NYC, but many things in our life we hold on to because we’re afraid of taking off and leaving those comforts behind. It’s a combination of our habits, our friends, our homes–the environment we find ourselves in every minute of our life–that are the factors which either help our lives take off and soar or hold us back from what we want to become.

Piece by piece, we are choosing the shape of our lives. We often settle at “good” because the steps to “great” aren’t easy. Being in constant search of great things means walking away from good things. To take off from something doesn’t mean running away and leaving people hurt. And wanting things to take off is not selfish. When set with the right morals, taking off means that you can bring people with you and have a higher platform for which you can help build people up.

There is some risk involved with taking off. You risk leaving behind something great. You risk friendships that you may not find again. You can be risking your reputation and setting yourself up for failure. But in my case, I’ve found that those fears are mostly unfounded. When you go on a new adventure, your family will still be there to support you. Your friends will change over time, but so will you, and it’s more than likely that you’ll both have changed for the better and can still find a place in each other’s lives. As my plane approached Newark Airport, the New York City was reflecting gold in the sun. It was beautiful and daunting. More than anything, fear pulsed through me. I was afraid of what I would become if I couldn’t make it in the Big City. I was scared that if I couldn’t make it here, people’s perception of me would be different and even worse, my perception of myself would fall. That’s the risk but the rewards are even better.

You’ll be fine taking off and more than likely, your life will take off because of what you chose to leave behind in seeking something greater.

How to Turn Your Birthday Party Into an Art Show

Guest Post SERIES1

bethafThe second post in my guest post series is by Beth Fisher. Beth and I used to be coworkers, though only really in organization name and never practically (unfortunately). Once we were roommates at a work conference and I was too scared to even say hi to her. You’ll see why soon, basically she’s just really cool. We only really became friends since we stopped working together and that has been entirely online. One day, I hold on to hope that we can be friends In Real Life. Beth blogs at Not With Ink. You can connect with her on twitter as @bethaf. Want to submit a post of your own? Click here for details.

Early in 2010, I left my job (career) for the unknown. One of the factors in this decision was my acknowledgment that the arts are deeply meaningful to me, and that creating is more than just a hobby. I had no clue what to do with it, but I was finally ready to admit: I am an artist. Fast-forward six months, and I am working as a nanny to two lively boys. It takes a different type of energy than my last job, and there is plenty of brain space for thinking and dreaming…

1. Have an idea. Listen to it.
I’m not sure where it came from, but one day there was an idea in my mind. Poetography. Photography + Poetry. An art show of things I have written and captured. Instead of telling myself that this was crazy-talk, I let it sit in my heart and spin around in my thoughts. Instead of saying, “I can’t do that!” I asked, “What would make this possible?” Which led me to…

2. Research & plan.
Find out the facts. It’s easy to make decisions based on assumptions rather than fact. At least it is for me. But research showed that I actually had nearly 40 poems I was willing to show to others. And at least the same number of photographs. My costs would be around $400, and the perfect time for it would be my upcoming birthday (hint: if you want to run some sort of event and need a space larger than your living room, independent cafes are a great option to look into). Voila, I had my budget and the framework of a plan.

 3. Involve your community.
As my plans came together, and I started telling people what I was hoping to do, something crazy happened; they got really excited and wanted to help out. I enlisted friends to read through & edit my poetry. I asked others for input on the photos. I had a couple friends willing to provide tasty treats…Everyone shared their enthusiasm for the idea. It’s easy to believe that you are living life alone, and at the end of the day, my choices are ultimately up to me, but I don’t do life in a vacuum.

Once your plan is in motion, if you’re anything like me, the rest will go like this:

4. Freak out. Some of these poems are about people who will be IN THE ROOM.
5. Do it anyway. It’s too late to back out now. 75 people have RSVP’d.
6. Have a great time, but make an embarrassing speech. “Thanks for coming tonight to see parts of myself that I don’t usually put on display…”
7. Go to karaoke. Karaoke makes everything better.
8. Be open to the next opportunity. You did the art show. You can do this, too.
9. Remember that change is gradual. I’m not a full-time artist. This didn’t change my exterior life that drastically. But it was one of the most courageous things I’ve done, and I am proud of myself for it. I’m learning to say YES more often than I say I CAN’T. And that is taking me places I can’t wait to go.

26 Secrets Invite 2 Small

The Sweet Feeling of Accomplishment: From Barista To Manager

Guest Post SERIES1

MarvinThe first post in this series is by my good friend Amanda Marvin. I first met Amanda in our first year Philosophy course. We got to know each other better over the course of that first year and have been great friends ever since. We both moved to Montreal the same month via two completely different paths. I really appreciated having her around when I was making the transition to the Big New City. Amanda blogs here and tweets as @amandamarvin. If you’re interested in submitting your own guest post about accomplishing difficult things or striking something off your bucket list, click here for details.

I never pictured myself managing a retail store in Belleville, Ontario, but I see now how hard work in former jobs built determination and a strive for excellence in the business world.

My work ethic was challenged when I moved to Montreal, Quebec for a couple of years and started working at a Second Cup. For one, I never thought I would be working at a coffee shop coming right out of University. I mean, I had a great education but it didn’t appear to get me far. However, maybe it did in hindsight in developing in me a work ethic that would take me to a career I never dreamed possible.

Being a Barista was anything but easy or glamorous despite the romanticized idea of it. I worked late nights, did all the dirty work and got yelled at by my managers a lot for not being able to speak French or for raising concerns they didn’t think were valid. I worked like this for a good 5 months. That’s five months of me coming home, crying and talking myself back into going to work. I dreaded it, but knew that my options were limited so I kept on going.

My managers started asked my colleagues how I worked in their absence and many of them responded that I was “hard working” and would often have to tell me I was ok to leave work and go home.

As turnover rates increased, I was entrusted with keys and opening the café. It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but within a month or less I was opening the café on my own and running it until my manager came in at 7am. I felt such a sense of accomplishment being able to run a business on my own for a short period of time. It was actually somewhat rewarding coming in, putting on some nice background music, placing the pastries all nicely and making sure everything was stocked, neat and tidy for the morning rush.

I also worked hard on perfecting the little bit of French I knew and developing an accent (I would practice while opening the café in talking to myself or try and speak French as much as I could while in public). I wanted to be able to engage in a small conversation with customers while making their lattes. Though I had one case where I asked the customer what size drink they wanted (Quelle format?) and she snapped at me saying I used the improper word for size and I should have said “Quelle grandeur?” or “Quelle taille?” and started talking about Bill 101, thankfully my manager stepped in to defend me.

In spite of the language barrier, I continued working at Second Cup. Early mornings, jazz music, coffee stained hands and spilled milk were the little things marking my life at the time.

When I gave my resignation, the managers were saddened (which is not an emotion they showed often) and took me out for a nice meal in Old Montreal. I felt my hard work was appreciated for once. It made me feel really good.

Coming back home I thought was going to be hard. I had this idea that I was going to have to spend a year or more working at the bottom to get to the top again, but that wasn’t the case. With the work ethic I developed in Montreal (taking shifts when people called in sick, doing the dirty work) climbing the corporate ladder was easy. Within 2 months of being hired on I was promoted to a key holder and within another month Assistant Manager.

Since then I have switched companies and have enjoyed learning management skills along the way. From marketing strategies, to conducting interviews, to window displays, my hard work over these past 4 years has proven to me that I can do many things I never thought possible.

It gives me hope that if I can accomplish these two grand things, I can achieve anything I put hard work and determination to. Whether it be paying off my student loans, furthering my education, buying a home or saving for retirement, I know I can do these things if I work hard at developing a plan and stick to it.


My First Guest Post Series

Guest Post SERIES1One of the main reasons I started this blog was to show how if this lazy girl can get things done and accomplish her goals, than anyone can. Already I’m a bit surprised by some of the feedback I’m getting where people sound like they’re elevating me for some of the things I’ve been able to accomplish like writing a novel in a month or starting to get up at 6:45 every morning (which I have gotten back in the habit of since this post!). This is totally crazy. If I can do these things, so can you.

Which is why I want to do a series of guest posts featuring how YOU and other regular people (ie: not Leo Babauta) have gone about accomplishing difficult or seemingly wild things may it be running your first 5 or 10K, doing a photography/poetry exhibit for your 26th birthday (ahem, youknowwhoyouare), taking a trip somewhere that cost you something other than just money, starting your own business, getting out of debt. I’m basically just making things up here (except that one) to give you ideas.

What is an example in your life that required determination and hard work to accomplish? (or)
What is something that you are so glad you took risks to do?
What did you learn from it?
How are you a better person now?

How to submit a guest post

Send me an email with the subject “Guest Post” (email link is on the side). Answer these questions, attach or link to a picture you’d like me to post with your article. Share your blog address/twitter handle or whatever way you are OK with people contacting you. I reserve the right to edit the post, but I will run that by you first if necessary. Please keep it to around 500 words. I can’t guarantee every submission will be published.

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