Category Archives: Life

Lifecycle Film

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Pay It Forward

If there is one thing I think every young adult needs, it’s a mentor.  Someone to influence, guide and support you. Someone to be your cheerleader during the times you need it most. I am lucky enough to say I’ve had a few mentors thus far on this crazy journey of mine. All of them unique and wonderful in their own way.

Most of these mentors have been people helping me on my professional path, but they’ve all become really good friends of mine. They are people I trust and people I can really talk to. They’re people that care about me. Truly care. Each and every one of them has my best interest at heart. That’s pretty awesome, actually.

There were so many times during my year of unemployment where I felt completely hopeless. Whenever I was getting to the point of wanting to give up all together, there was one person in particular who just seemed to sense it and would reach out to give me that extra bit of confidence. His enthusiasm and belief in me was exactly what I needed. In the end, it was actually what helped me land the job I have now.

When I need advice, when I need a sounding board or when I just need to vent, I have a handful of people I can call on at a moment’s notice. That’s a really incredible thing to be able to say, and I am so appreciative and grateful of their kindness.

As important as it is to have a mentor, it’s just as important to make the effort to be a mentor. I watch so many people who have worked their way up the corporate latter and at the risk of sounding cliché, have completely forgotten where they came from. When does that happen? At what point do you start to forget?

I will always make the time for the college student who wants to sit down for an informational interview. I will make the time to grab coffee with the new associate or coordinator. I will make the effort to help give some kid just out of school encouragement and assurance because I’ll remember that time in your life is scary. Extremely scary.

I’m going to be a nice person. I’m going to show the fresh, bright-eyed, eager young adult that you can be smart and successful and great at what you do, but still be a decent, kind human being. I AM NOT GOING TO FORGET WHAT IT WAS LIKE.

Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Make the extra effort. Build the relationships. Keep paying it all forward.

“A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because
someone else thought they could.”  – Unknown

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my chicago girls

Last weekend I spent in Chicago with friends. It was the first time I had been back since I moved home almost a year and a half ago.  In some ways that seems like forever, but once I was back there it felt like I had never left. In a strange way, I think that city will always be a part of who I am; it feels more like “me” than California does. I think I’m really just a Midwesterner at heart.

I love that with true friends distance changes nothing. You pick up right where you left off and it feels like no time has passed since you were last together. That’s how it was on this trip. It felt so good to see the girls and catch up on life. I LOVED every minute of it.

There’s nothing quite like your college friends. You shared a unique and special time together that no one else quite understands and that can never be repeated. You share stories, memories and a time in your life that I consider to be one of the very best. Essentially, you grown up together. The 18 year-olds you met as are not the same people who were handed diplomas a few years later. If you’re like me, and moved far away from home, these friends become your family. They’re who you spend your free-time with, who you rely on, who you grab to get a beer with, who you study with, who you cry to when you have a 15 page paper due the next day that you haven’t started and who you call when you need serious retail therapy.

There is nothing quite like the relationships you develop with these people. And if you’re lucky enough, those relationships will last a lifetime.

Make good friends and be a good friend. I think life happens and people forget to make the effort or to stay in touch. Don’t let that happen. Make the time for your friends. Be patient and forgiving because yes, life does happen, but don’t ever let too much time pass. Remember how much you enjoy each other and be sure to check-in every once in awhile. Make the reunions happen and return phone calls. When life happens, these are the people who make it all easier.

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Steve Jobs:1955 – 2011

The world lost an incredible human being today. It just goes to show how quick and fragile life is. Take a minute and be grateful that you are alive and have your health.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”

“My job is to not be easy on people. My job is to make them better.”

 “Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

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true to your heart

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what growing up really means. I think one of the most important parts of growing up is making your own decisions. Not just making them, but living with the consequences of them. There is no one to fall back on anymore. No one to soften the fall. No one to take the blame. No one to experience the repercussions other than you. Not so fun really, but it’s inevitable. It’s responsibility. It’s being an adult. (It sucks).

What I’m learning is that you have to trust your decisions. Go with your intuition and trust your heart. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t always easy. There are so many outside influences who will always be giving their opinions on what path you should be taking, and you should listen to a certain extent and bend where you absolutely can. Digest what is being said and take from it what you will, but ultimately this is your journey. Above all else, you must always be true to yourself.

Not everyone will always agree with you, even the people you love. But in the end, those people want what’s best for you. As someone very wise recently told me, Ultimately, when you make yourself happy, you make the people that love you happy as well.”

When making any difficult decision, you have to believe that no one knows you better than you. Take your time, think things through, weigh your choices, consider the effects of your actions and do what you know will make you a better you. This is your story to write. Take advantage of this opportunity you’ve been given. Be confident in yourself. Be confident in your decisions. Life is too short to do otherwise.

Gawd, I need to learn to take my own advice…

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The Shoe That Fit

An idea I always had for this blog was to every once in a while ask someone to write about their post-college experience. My reason being I think it’s important for us to share our stories and let people our age know we’re not the only ones having these thoughts, emotions, fears, experiences, etc.

I am so excited to have Stephanie Marchese be my first guest blogger! She found Va Bene and reached out to me (which I am so grateful for!), making me realize she’d be a perfect person to write about her journey after graduation.

I hope you get as much from her story as I do. Here’s a little background info on Stephanie before you get started:

Stephanie Marchese of Totowa, New Jersey received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Massachusetts in Amherst on May 15, 2010. Stephanie graduated with academic distinction from the school of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a degree in Political Science and Italian. She considers herself a political junkie, a frequent flyer, a die-hard Patriots fan, a wine connoisseur and a Disney aficionado. When she was five she wanted to be a NYC Rockette. She is most proud of her time spent abroad in Italy, her contributions to the UMass Dance Team, volunteering on Obama’s campaign and her master’s degree in Italian literature. Stephanie is a legislative policy analyst for the New Jersey Hospital Association which is a not-for-profit trade organization committed to helping NJ hospitals and health systems provide quality, accessible and affordable care to their communities.

And now, her story:

To me, the very thought of life after graduation was inconceivable. My life in Amherst morphed into a repetitious cycle of homework, exams, dance team practices and being a normal twenty-something-year-old kid trying to figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. As May approached I began to feel uneasy about solidifying an answer. Wanna know the truth? I didn’t know. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a plan. This was life after graduation.

The unknown can be exciting for some, but for an obsessive compulsive control freak like myself, it was as horrifying as losing my daily planner. One evening in May, I sat quiet on my parents’ deck with my college photo album in hand. I perused each page much like a yearbook, remembering the last four years of my life. I loved college because there was always an end goal in sight. I knew where I was headed and I got there. The faces in the pictures reminded me of a time not too long ago. A time when waking up at noon and eating dessert before dinner were completely acceptable. As I sat there in the shadows of the sunset, I wondered what would be next. Graduation seemed like forever ago and the job search was not looking promising. I looked to the horizon and thought, “here we go.”

And so started my life post-graduation. My friends dispersed all over the country. Some remained on the east coast while others moved west calling San Francisco and Denver home. I started feeling lonely and sad, even empty. This was an entirely new concept I had to grapple with. I was a planner! In the months that followed I drove myself crazy trying to find a job. I sent out dozens upon dozens of resumes. I even tried my hand at odd jobs to pass the time. I like to describe that period of my life as the time I traded in jobs as frequently as I changed my shoes. I was crazed in finding the perfect job, the perfect ending. So much so, that I was forcing the shoe to fit. This Cinderella just had to wait her turn.

And so I waited. I calmed down. I stopped worrying. I eventually realized that breaking myself down wasn’t worth it. Letting life come to me would be the better option. So I traded in my daycare team t-shirt for a pair of shades and a UMass tee and got to living my life. That summer I sat longer in the sun, read a couple of books, ate well, learned how to cook and spent time with my friends, family and boyfriend. Before I knew it, the summer I had been dreading turned into the summer I wished wouldn’t end.

Skipping ahead, that fall I found myself at Rutgers University pursuing a master’s degree in Italian. As part of my new “living for Stephanie” plan I decided to study a subject I was most passionate about. I began to get busy—the  kind of busy that keeps you on your toes. I was happy again. Little did I know this was just the beginning.

 On a cool October night, my boyfriend sent me a job post from the internet. He urged me to apply, but I wasn’t convinced. The post was a month old and I didn’t even have a cover letter written. He pressed me until I sent my resume. I didn’t have any expectations. In fact, I didn’t even think they would call, but they did. Monday I was asked to interview, Friday I was offered the job. The shoe finally fit!

I like to think if I could go back in time I would have some great advice for my newly graduated self. I like to think I’d tell that young girl to follow the roads of life. I’d tell her that no one person has it all figured out. I would explain the importance of living a life completely unabridged, stressing how truly liberating it felt to NOT have all the answers.

So young people on the heels of your college graduation I offer you this…

Graduating college? Well, you can expect to go through a variety of changes and emotions over the next few months. Don’t worry though. Part of learning in your 20s is done through making mistakes. Trust you’ll make plenty of ‘em. Now is your time to learn, to find yourself, to figure out what you are all about. Don’t waste time worrying about the “what-ifs.” What and if are two simple words, but putting them together can drive a person crazy. Live freely, openly, spiritually, happily. Love unconditionally and remember to laugh at your misfortunes. Trust me, the best years of your life don’t end after graduation, they are just beginning.

Stephanie, I can’t thank you enough for this post!

If anyone else would like to share their story, please shoot me an email. Would love to hear about the path you’ve taken!

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the “something” that was missing…

I started my Path Finder course today on http://www.chookooloonks.com/ and I had no idea how much I was needing something like this. I had been craving creativity and I didn’t even know it.

Today I was just in a foul mood. Unfortunately, my boyfriend was on the receiving end of this. To be quite honest, I was acting like an ass. My excuses were that I was tired, overwhelmed, stressed, pissed that the long weekend was over, anxious, etc. The usual. But really, I was on vacation last weekend and was just coming off a three-day weekend; why was I so out of control? When I finally took the time to sit down and start Path Finder I realized that I had been missing something.

My bad mood and emotional state was more about me not making time for the things I love to do. I haven’t been writing, I haven’t read a book in forever, I haven’t photographed anything lately, I haven’t drawn in ages, hell—I haven’t even done any scrapbooking on http://www.shutterfly.com/. I am starving for creativity. I haven’t been making any time to do the things that make me me.

The first exercise of the course required journaling. You had to do it with a pen and paper though.  It sounds so silly, but it felt so good! I loved the imperfectness of it. I loved the spelling mistakes, the incorrect grammar, the messy handwriting. I couldn’t go back and make everything perfect like I can in a Word document. Sometimes the perfection of it all is just so exhausting. Being able to write in a stream of consciousness was wonderful.

I see good things coming from my new class. I’m hoping for it to bring me back to creativity, and in doing so, make me a better girlfriend, friend, sister, daughter and all-around person. I’m thinking this may give me the positive energy I’ve been yearning for.

I know this much for sure: creativity brings me joy. And I am going to do everything I can to look for those things that inspire me to be creative, original, authentic, imaginative—happy.

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