PLOT TWIST!

Sometimes you just have to yell “PLOT TWIST!” and move on.

I hate it when the plans in my head don’t happen in real life. It’s depressing and I spend too much time dwelling on it.

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I had a plot twist moment last month that made me finally realize I can’t manipulate my future into what I think it should be like. I’m exactly where I need to be and I need to make the best of it.

So here are a few things I’m working on to do that…

Get A Vision For My Future Self

I’m not talking about the question, “where do you see yourself in five years.”  I more like the question, “what type of person do you want to be in five years.”  YESSSS!  That’s a question I can answer 🙂

What kind of person do you want to be?  What are the small steps you can take today to make that a reality?   For me, I want to be a well respected public relations professional.  I can learn new skills and brush up on the old ones (SEO, social media advertising, website development, etc.).  I’m going to make a list of what I want to accomplish and then check them off one at a time.

I also made it my goal this week to complete the Career Contessa worksheet focused on career vision  I’ll let you know how that goes…

Slow The &%$# Down!

Obviously this is a skill that I’m really, really, really bad at.  I’m committing myself to slow down and enjoy the season I’m in.  I’ve been so focused on getting to the next goal that I’m not slowing down and seeing the great things happening right now.

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Here’s how I’m doing that…

  • Stop mindlessly scrolling through my phone at night.  What else could I be doing that makes me better?  I’m getting better at putting my phone down and designing.  That makes me happier than wasting my time scrolling social media.  It’s also more productive for my Esty shop 🙂
  • Stop and look at my surroundings.  I look at our beautiful house I thought we would never have and appreciate the great family we’ve created.
  • Take a good look at my husband and children.  They’re growing up so fast.  I want them to know I love them and I’m always here.  That means slowing down and investing in my husband and children.

Thank you God for giving me a big reality check.  Your ways are better than my ways.  I just wish I knew exactly what they were.  In the meantime, I’m going to yell “PLOT TWIST!” and settle down to enjoy this season of my life 🙂

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xo,

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A Simple Way To Engage New Employees

Congratulations!  It’s the first day of your new job.  You’re given an employee handbook from Human Resources with information about policies, benefits, injuries on the job, sexual harassment, and other legal information.  Then you begin to wonder…Did I park in the right place?  Are there special events during the year I need to be aware of?  What is the history of the department? Who are all these people and what exactly do they do?

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The first day can be overwhelming.  The faster an employee feels like part of the team the better.  They will be filled with a sense of purpose and ready to engage with their new organization.

An easy way to create employee engagement on the very first day is to welcome them with a packet of information not covered in the handbook.

Helpful information for a new hire could include… 

Brief overview of the organization.

Mission and vision
Brief history
Plans for the future
Organizational chart (also a sentence or two describing each department)
Annual events
Map of office building

Tips For Making Your First Day Successful

Where to park
Frequently called numbers
Where to find coffee! (Do you bring your own or is there a coffee fund?)
Dress code expectations

Other Important Information

Employee programs specific to the department
Lunch times, arrangements, and other expectations

Does it take time and resources to create this type of information packet?  Yes.  Will it help build a symbiotic relationship with the employee from the very beginning ?  YES!  The packet does not need to be a novel of never ending information.  A few pages in a thin folder works great.

Employee engagement is crucial to the culture of a workplace.  Employees can be your greatest recruiter or your worst critic.  The best way to create an engaged employee is to make them feel like family the very first day.
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What other information would be beneficial on the first day of the job?  Let me know in the comments!

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4 Ways To Nail Your Next Job Interview

I sat it on a few interviews this week and was reminded of four important aspects of a successful interview.  It is important to make a good first impression when interviewing for a job.  A well polished, professional resume will get you past the first round but the real test is when you come face to face with your potential supervisor.  


Research the Organization

This is a very important step to show you did your homework.  Research the organization’s website and find a way to incorporate that into your interview.  For instance, explain how the company’s mission or vision relates to you. This is an easy way to show you care enough about the job to become familiar with what’s important to the organization.

Try this at your next interview…
“Your organization’s mission to spread the power of optimism relates to my personal goal of always looking at the bright side of life.”

This simple sentence shows you know the organization’s goal and your goals are the same.  A great trait for a successful employee.


Show Enthusiasm

If you’re not excited about applying for the job then I’m not excited to hear what you have to say.  You don’t want to appear over the top but having a twinkle in your eye and a smile goes a long way to show me you really want the position.  

Try this at your next interview…
Make eye contact and smile when you’re listening to the question being asked and when you answer.  “I’m really excited about this opportunity! I would be a great addition to this organization based on my skill set and the company’s goals.”

Dress Your Best

This point should be common sense but it bears repeating. Make sure you complete the basics before your interview…brush your hair, brush your teeth, make sure your bra straps are not showing, etc.

Try this at your next interview…
Take your outfit up a notch.  Dress a step higher than you normally would.  Add a new accessory to your outfit or pick up a light weight blazer to wear over your sleeveless dress.  You can get one for under $20 on Amazon.

It’s always better to overdress than to risk looking unprofessional and not meaning to.
 

Confidence

Confidence is key.  It will get you ahead every single time.  Too nervous? Fake it! I notice that when asked about their goals in life, the applicants would say “it sounds dumb but, “don’t laugh,” and “I know it’s silly.”  Don’t do this! You should never apologize for your aspirations in life. Who am I to tell you that you’re wrong or that it’s a stupid idea!? Be confident in your goals.  So what if they change later on? All of our goals do! It’s your life…be proud of it 🙂

Try this at your next interview…
When asked – What are some of your goals in life? – You say “I’m really excited about the possibility of going back to school.  I may be older but I’m holding onto the statement that it’s never too late to learn something new.  

Practicing these easy steps can help you stand out among the crowd of applicants and land that job.

Good luck!

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Creating A Fantastic Email Signature

I love to show my personal style in every aspect of my life.  Personal branding has become a goal of mine the past few years in an effort to learn more about myself.  Work has a big impact on how I style myself.  I’m getting further in my career and want to stand out as a professional in my field.

There are many ways to brand yourself but I want to share one simple thing that will make you stand out at work…a stylish, professional email signature.  Here is the one I use…

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I added my work information underneath this image in the fun, yet professional, font Glacial Indifference (free download here) in black.

I have received so many compliments about the signature on my email and questions about how to create their own.  I’m always thrilled to tell them creating the image is free and easy!

Watch the video to see how you can create your very own unique email signature.

 

 

How We Survived the Georgia Aquarium With Three Kids

Justin and I realized that we have not taken a family outing in a while and looked for family friendly destinations in Georgia.  Having three children can certainly get expensive so we wanted something that was an easy drive for our three-year-old but still entertaining to our preteens.

We looked to Atlanta since it is around two hours away and has many entertainment options.  We settled on taking them to the Georgia Aquarium.  Ryder, our three-year-old has never been and our other two have been a few times before.

The Georgia Aquarium is a non-profit, accredited aquarium that houses over 10 million gallons of water and focuses on aquatic research and conservation.  You can learn more about their efforts on their website.

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Justin and I have been to the aquarium by ourselves before but this was the first time taking all three children.  We learned quite a bit from our little adventure.

Money
If you’re like me the first thing you want to know is how much you’re looking at spending on this whole thing.  Prepare to spend A LOT.  My heart hurt when I figured out so much we spent on the entire trip.  I’ll explain my opinion about it later in the post.

Tickets and Day of the Week
Buy your tickets online.  The ticket kiosk and booths are insane when we arrived.  Granted, it was a Saturday so you would expect it to be crowded but wow.  I was so happy I purchased the tickets ahead of time on their website.  We could move right through the line and straight into security without waiting in another line to buy tickets.  This was a lifesaver with a three-year-old that does not wait in lines very well.

You have a few choices on their website as far as ticket pricing goes.  You can purchase the “Early Bird” which saves you a few dollars if you go before 11 a.m., the “General Admission” which is regular price and allows you flexibility to enter between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., and then they have the “Imagination Night” for those coming after 4 p.m. which are the cheapest tickets they offer.

I didn’t want to get up at the crack of dawn to get ready so we went with the flexible option.  I purchased two adult and three kid tickets.  Ryder is considered old enough for a child ticket.

The website also gives you the option to purchase your pass ($15) to park in the “official” aquarium parking deck.  I wanted to be efficient so I went ahead and purchased it.

Ticket Total:  $189.00 (stings just a little)

The car ride to the aquarium was very uneventful (read: thankful).  We managed to get through without any traffic jams until we got into downtown Atlanta.  There was construction happening right in front of the aquarium’s main entrance.  The atmosphere was friendly as people cut off other people trying to figure out where in the heck they were going.  Siri was her usual accurate self and navigated us all the way around the block to the parking deck when all we had to do is turn right about three miles back.  It was glorious.

We entered the parking deck and began having serious doubts that the top of our truck was not going to clear the extremely low ceiling.  I said a quick prayer every time we passed a beam overhead because I knew we were not going to make it.  We eventually did and parked five stories up.  The elevator down to the entrance of the aquarium was as long as a Disney World line so we opted to take the stairs.

We were corralled like cows through the lines of those who had and those who had not (read: tickets or need to get tickets).  Luckily, we were the good cows with tickets and were escorted through the security line and then they scanned our tickets.

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The actual aquarium is impressive when you walk in.  The sections are joined by a main lobby area and labeled with big signage.  We went straight into the area with the huge fish tanks and enjoyed how much the kids loved to watch the animals.  Each section was beautiful.  You can tell how much they love animals and their passion for conservation and education.

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The massive wall where you can view the most aquatic life is breathtaking.  There is a huge variety of animals swimming around in the tank.  In case you didn’t know…this is where baby shark and grandpa shark live (according to Ryder).

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Lunch
Here is where the amazing feeling ended…lunch was crazy expensive!  Our bill came out to $68.51 for two cheeseburgers, chicken tenders, a jumbo hotdog, and drinks.  Ryder was too excited to eat so he grazed on our plates.  I can tell you the food was definitely not worth $68.  All of it was cold and the portions were not very big.  I understand it’s a tourist attraction but wow.

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But wait!  There’s good news about our lunch!  They do keep in mind the parents with the restless children!  They serve a small selection of beer and wine.  Granted…you’re going to pay for the luxury but it is what it is.  My lovely husband informed me there was gin and tonic AFTER I had passed the drink stand and was explaining to Ryder why we had to actually stop and eat lunch and not go straight to the penguins.  I had to calmly explain that the penguins were eating their lunch too and we couldn’t go see them yet.  Apparently, I’m a horrible liar and he didn’t believe that for one second.  Justin’s 16oz IPA was a whopping $7.  Parental sanity comes at a high price these days.

Total:  $68.61 (ouchhhhhhh)

The penguins FINALLY finished lunch and off we went.  Justin was tasked with crawling through the itty bitty tunnel with the children to have an up close and personal (as personal as you can get with several feet of plexiglass) with the penguins.  I gave him the Hunger Games salute as Ryder began freaking out towards the middle of the tunnel and wanted to get out.  I was the supportive wife on the outside looking in by telling him to push him through to the end.  He’ll love it once he gets there.  Bless my husband’s heart.  Turns out he did and it was worth the experience.  Ryder still talks about seeing the penguins in their “living room.”

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Since the children were extremely well behaved during the trip we allowed them to pick one time from the gift shop with a spending limit.  The two big kids picked out stuffed animals that will get lost into the abyss known as their rooms and the little one picked out a sea life play set.  I have not seen the poor stuffed animals but the play set creatures have a permanent home in my bathtub.  So magical.

Souvenir Total:  $66.00 (Hey, aquarium people…you need to check your heart)

TRIP TOTAL:  $323.61

Was it worth it?
The facility is absolutely amazing and seeing animals you never would otherwise was a great experience for our kids.  I would recommend going on a Sunday for lower crowd sizes.  Our three-year-old liked all the exhibits but was ready to move onto the next one after a few minutes.  I think our older ones had a good time but we had to tell them no to a few other things that cost extra money (virtual reality ride was a big one).  In my opinion, it will be a while before we visit again.  I think other attractions would be worth the money we spent on the aquarium.

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Overall, it was great to get out with our kids and we made some great memories.

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How I Built My Professional Wardrobe Through Amazon

Image is a big part of how you are perceived at work.  You dress for the job you want not the job you have.  I’ve embraced that saying over the past few years.  I want to look the part even though I have not yet reached my professional goals.

Building a stylish, professional wardrobe is expensive.  Work suits and dresses that give you the coveted “executive presence” can range around $100 or more depending on the store you shop at.

I discovered Amazon has a wide selection of professional clothing that is budget friendly and made with quality materials.

I receive so many compliments on many of the items I purchased through Amazon.  All of the pieces are $30 and under.

 

You can find the dress on the left here.
The outfit on the right is a combination of this skirt and blazer.

Here are a few more of my favorite pieces that came from Amazon…

belted skirt

black dot dress

black pencil dress

blazer

shoes

skirt

sleevless dress

 

Tips for Purchasing Clothes On Amazon

1.  Use search terms such as “women office dresses,” “women office attire,” and “women business dresses.”

2.  Filter by “Avg. Customer Review” and choose the three stars & up option.  This will greatly increase the quality of the item options.

3.  Look at the Size Chart and Customer Reviews to determine the best size to order.  I look at the Customer Reviews first because they will tell you if the Size Chart is accurate or if you need to adjust your size option.  This technique has always worked for me when ordering clothes online.  You can also see pictures of how the clothing looks on different body types.

4.  Zoom in on the pictures of the clothing.  You can tell a lot by how the item is made and what the fabric looks like.

5.  Amazon Prime comes in really handy.  I shop on Amazon for a variety of items.  The free, two day shipping is convenient and fast.

Let me know if you find any great professional clothing deals on Amazon!

Happy Shopping!

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Looking Forward to Lunch

I have a love/hate relationship with my lunch breaks during the week.  I love it because I get the time to get away from my desk and be free to do what I want for an hour.  I hate it because I don’t have the luxury of having many people to eat lunch with very often.

I’m fortunate to live close to my workplace so I have the option of going home during my break.  This past year I took advantage of going home during my hour of solitude and getting a few things done while grabbing something out of my refrigerator.  

The past few months, however, I’ve grown tired of it.  I enjoy the opportunity to go home but I found that I would sit at my dining room table, eat the same thing every day, and have my head bent over my phone until it was time to go back to work.

This year I’ve made a commitment to myself to look at my lunch break in a new way.  I want that hour to be a time of taking care of myself mentally.

Visit A New Restaurant

I hate eating by myself.  I don’t judge others who do it but I always feel judged in my head if I go into a restaurant and sit at a table by myself.  During my year of being fearless I decided that I would tackle this self-initiated fear.  A new coffee bar opened up last year right in historic downtown Perry called Bodega Brew.  It’s a small bistro that offer small plates for lunch and a variety of coffee and pastries.  It looked cozy so I went one day for lunch all by myself.

It was fantastic.  I sat at a high top table near the front window and ordered the most delicious ham and swiss sandwich.  Even though I did spend a few minutes scrolling on my phone I made myself look around at the decor and people watch through the window.  I didn’t experienced the fear of being judged for being alone. In fact, there were two other women there by themselves working on their laptops.  I felt right at home. I bought a chocolate latte (so yummy!) after I finished my lunch and walked back to my car.  I realized how relaxed I felt. It was a great feeling just taking the time to be by myself and try something new.  And now I found a favorite new spot to grab lunch or a coffee!

Learn a New Skill

Learning a new skill during your lunch break is easy.  I found a new app a few years ago called Skillshareh. It has online classes for anything you can imagine.  You can watch demonstrations on anything from leadership to flower arranging. They even have classes that are specifically designed to last a “lunch hour.”  You can view many classes for free or pay a small monthly fee to view some of the more intense classes. I’ve watched classes on photography, graphic design, and personal branding.  Learning a new skill with these creative workshops is definitely more fun than scrolling through Facebook for an hour.

YouTube is also a great source to learn something new!  Everything I know how to do in Photoshop, Illustrator, and video editing I learned through YouTube tutorials!  Best of all…they’re free 🙂


Go Outside – Like For Real

I often see the articles that say you should step outside at least once during your workday to get fresh air and clear your mind.  Yeah, I don’t do that. I either feel guilty about leaving my desk or get caught up in a project where I don’t want to leave my workspace until I get to a stopping point.  Your lunch break is a perfect time to do this. I have a colleague that has her own personal table and chair and eats outside when the weather is nice. We have picnic tables outside at work but her setup is the cutest and definitely inviting.  If I do go home for lunch I try to take it outside on my back porch when the weather permits. Fresh air is a great stress reliever and the sounds of chirping birds can be a mood booster.

Brainstorm and Write it Down

This is one of my favorite things to do.  I bought a unicorn notebook that I carry around in my purse for the random thoughts that come into my head during the day.  If you’re like me you have a ton going on in your mind at once. It helps me to write my ideas in my special notebook to clear them out of my head.  I jot down anything that inspires me. Blog post ideas, quotes that have meaning to me, gratitude lists, and anything else that I feel is important. It’s not a calendar.  I have a separate planner for things I have to get done. This notebook is specifically for my creative ideas and things I want to do someday. It’s nice to have this space to empty my mind out so I can make room for the things I need to be focused on during the day.  

Explore Your City

I did this during a recent outing in historic downtown Perry which is only a few streets over from my workplace.  I love it there. I was feeling especially down one day and a slow stroll through Carroll Street was a great way to refocus my mind and enjoy my surroundings.  Is there a specific place you’ve always heard about nearby your work? Maybe it’s a park or a visitor center that you’ve always drove past and never stopped at.  Experiencing the town your work or live in as a tourist can give you a new perspective and appreciation for a place you grind day after day.

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