I hope this parting letter finds each of you well. I am infinitely proud of you. My heart and hope is that you have allowed your time in higher education to stretch and grow you as a leader, and have postured yourself to learn as much from engaging with your fellow classmate as you have from reading your assigned textbook.
As a final letter, I wanted to share with each of you a few of the greatest lessons that I have learned (am continue to learn) thus far throughout my collegiate and professional career (these are listed in no particular order). I hope these tips will be helpful to you in navigating your own unique journey!
1. NEVER STOP LEARNING:
Be intentional about dedicating time to continue reading and researching new things. Share the new knowledge you learn with others, you never know what a simple tip could unlock in someone else's journey.
2. CONTINUE BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
Though the time sitting among your fellow classmates has come to an end, I encourage you to continue connecting with others who are willing to share their experiences and lessons with you. Learn from them, and use this knew knowledge to help you make more informed decisions in your own life. You don’t always have to make the mistakes yourself in order to learn from them.
3. LISTEN TO THE LORD'S WHISPERS
He is always speaking to us, comforting us, encouraging us when we need it most (and especially when we don’t think we need it at all). Find time to listen. Become sensitive to the guiding of the Holy Spirit in your self-reflection time, personal relationships and professional careers.
"I challenge you to spend the rest of your life finding ways to serve others with the gifts that you have so graciously been given..."
4. TRY. FAIL. LEARN.
Have a new idea you want to try? A new book you want to write? A new product you want to launch? A new job you want to take? Go ahead - try it! But first, take time to prayerfully consider it. You can also invite trusted friends and mentors into the process of accomplishing that goal (because who wants to go it alone anyway). This life is short. Never let the fear of failure stop you from creating something new!
5. LET EVERYTHING YOU DO POINT BACK TO GOD
This is right up there with the best advice that I can possibly give to each of you. Let everything you say, do, and become point graciously back to the One who gave it all for you - for us. The one who did so willingly and without remorse. Cling to His promises, and regularly reflect on if the things you are creating, the success you are pursuing are motivations for doing so are in line with this His mission and His will for us.
This life is short. Never let the fear of failure stop you from creating something new!
6. USE YOUR EDUCATION WISELY
You have been given the wonderful gift of a formal education. Never take that for granted. There are people around the world who spend their whole lives fighting (literally) for an education, and there are many are never given the opportunity. You HAVE been given this opportunity! I challenge you to spend the rest of your life finding ways to serve others with the gift that you have so graciously been given, and in whatever capacity the Lord has appointed you to do so.
I always have a difficult time with good-bye’s, so I’ll stick with a genuine “see you around.”
Please know that I am always here for you! I throughly enjoy staying in touch with my readers and providing them with guidance that will help them launch their into their dreams!
Grace & Peace,
First published on www.QARA.org
Written by: Anastasia Jones
Ever feel like you need a vacation after your vacation? I know it might sound crazy, but you’re not alone.
Recently I returned home on a Sunday evening after a wonderful 5-day vacation. Almost as soon as the plane touched down, waves of anxiety began to wash over me. Monday was only hours away, and I felt completely unprepared.
Thoughts of the enormous workload awaiting my return, both at work and at home, consumed me. I felt frazzled, and completely ill-equipped for the work week ahead.
I was driving home, trying in vain to categorize each of my anxious thoughts when Philippians’s 4:6-7 came to mind: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
After meditating on these verses, and taking several deep and prayerful breaths, I almost immediately felt the soft waves of God’s peace wash over me. I resolved that I was not going to grant this anxiety power over me, and potentially undo the peaceful rest that I had worked so hard to create over the last five days on vacation.
I chose to respond to my anxiety by creating a new strategy, and so can you.
I made a list of 5 things I could do that evening to help me take on the coming Monday.
These practices didn’t take me long, radically reduce my anxiety levels and had me feeling encouraged and empowered to take on the week ahead
1. CLEAN OUT THE CAR
Take a moment to toss the junk mail, empty your half-full water bottles, wipe the crumbs off the seat and organize the miscellaneous items lying on the floor. Perhaps you could even swing by the gas station to top off your gas tank, and buy a quick car wash. Come Monday morning, you’ll feel less stressed while in route to the office, and if you get stuck in traffic you won’t be nervously glancing at your gas meter.
2. TIDY UP THE KITCHEN
Does your sink have a couple of days’ worth of glasses, plates and coffee mugs in it? Take twenty minutes to clean it out, wipe down the counters and load up the dishwasher. It may seem like a small effort, but when you prepare your coffee/breakfast tomorrow morning you’ll thank yourself for doing it!
3. REVIEW YOUR CALENDAR
Briefly look at your work calendar and make a short list of action items and priorities that you want to accomplish. Remember to set yourself up for success by creating realistic work expectations. You’ve just been out of the office for quite a while and it could take a day or two to catch up on your work.
4. GET ACTIVE
Go for a 30-minute walk, jog or run. It is proven that exercising releases stress, relieves anxiety, improves our overall health and makes us feel good! I recently picked up the hobby of rollerblading around my neighborhood. Not only does the act of physical exercise calm me, but it allows me to meet and greet neighbors and friends that I normally would not see as frequently.
5. PLAN YOUR OUTFIT
Monday’s are the perfect day to dress for success. Looking good and feeling good can kick-start your week off right, and give you that extra boost of confidence you need to take on those back to back meetings like a pro.
In all, completing numbers 1 through 5 took me just under 2 hours, and was worth every minute. I went to sleep swiftly, feeling confident in my ability to take on the morning to come. I recommend you make a checklist, and a few days before you travel attempt to get ahead of them. For instance, you could clean your car out prior to heading to the airport. You could plan your outfit based upon what clothes you don’t pack, that way you know the items will be clean whenever you return.
Ideally, we could all try to incorporate more time between the end of our vacations, and the beginning of a work week; however, when a vacation after a vacation isn’t possible, I recommend doing these 5 things to help you reset and recharge before the work week arrives.
Taking steps that set you up for maximum effectiveness and success is almost always worth it.
Fun Fact: 246 million people in the U.S. and Canada went to the cinema at least once last year? Yes, MILLION - with 6 zeros. That’s nearly 71% of the entire U.S./Canada population in 2016!
According to the Motion Picture Association of America, in 2016 the movie industry reached 11.4 billion dollars in sales, experiencing a 2% growth from the year before.
So what is it that draws all of these people to the cinema each year?
Perhaps it's a combination of curiosity and empathy.
I have always enjoyed watching movies. I am fascinated by being invited into these characters’ realities, following their journeys, and allowing myself to learn with them along the way.
Being able to visualize and identify with characters as they work through challenges, discover and embrace their positive and negative characteristics, and watch as they navigate through difficult situations can inspire us to become more aware of these aspects in our own lives. Bringing us a level of heightened personal awareness and self-reflection that can be a powerful and transformative tool!
I am excited (and a bit nervous) to share a couple of my favorite movies with you!
Each of these movies feature great female leads or female supporting roles and are listed in no particular order. I have learned from each these characters experiences and adventures, and I sincerely believe I am better because of them.
Just to name a few! Those 10 are without a doubt some of my favorites, but there are more where those came from.
Are there any movies with leads, both female and male, that you personally connect with, or have learned something from? Share it with us in the comment box below so we can all check it out!
It was a Tuesday afternoon.
You were visiting the local coffee shop
Sipping on your cold brew
And like magic...
You and an IDEA totally connected.
You didn’t see that coming.
Barely anyone noticed.
But the chemistry was undeniable.
Now, I bet you’re wondering...
I know I would be!
My advice -
Date your idea.
Give it a chance.
Spend some time with it.
Get to know it a little better.
Be open to the possibility that this could really be something.
Date your idea.
It’s okay to write down how you really feel about it.
Fill your diary with little hearts and doodles.
No judgement (we all do it)
That’s part of the fun!
Date your idea.
Have you noticed any good signs?
Any red flags?
Go ahead - write those down too.
Both are very important to consider.
Date your idea.
Now, I know you two have been spending a lot of time together…
I mean, you haven’t been apart for more than an hour.
Try not to get so attached that it clouds your better judgement.
Talk about it with trusted friends & mentors.
Date your idea.
Listen - I really hope it works out!
I mean that.
But there is also a chance that it won’t.
And that’s okay too.
I promise another one will come along
Right when you least expect it.
And when it does, you should date that one too!
We can’t predict the future. We never know what our ideas will become. So let's keep dating them, and remaining open to the possibility that with lots of time, effort and attention, they could really turn into something special!
(Date Your Idea written by Stasia Rose)
When did we learn that blending in and fitting the mold was of paramount importance?
Well, I really believe that these lessons began influencing our actions at a very young age.
Early on in our educational careers, we were introduced to interactive games that encouraged rigid compliance and “knowing our roles”. Games like House, Red Light, Green Light, Follow the Leader, and Simon Says were just a few of these shining examples.
These games (both consciously and subconsciously) taught us to comply, and fit the mold. They even rewarded us with approval, acceptance and applause if we could successfully do both while others were watching.
Whether we realize it or not, continuing to pour our valuable (and limited) time and energy into fitting in can directly hold us back from fully discovering and stepping into our unique callings.
Times are changing, and we must work together to unlearn the mis-educations from our past.
Starting today, try refocusing the lens through which you see the world. Write down your own definition(s) of success. Begin asking the hard questions, doing your own research and coming to your own conclusions. Starting today, begin building your own unique brand. One that sets you a part and shows others just how unique and special you truly are.
You’re Simon now.
What do YOU say?
What are some other successful traits of productive people?
I don't need a cape or supernatural powers to be a superhero - and neither do you!
All you need is this one simple trait shared by superhero's and successful businessmen & women alike, which is:
The ability to anticipate or expect problems and trends, and then collaborate to create innovative solutions.
Over the years, I have had the honor of working alongside some phenomenal individuals and it's true, the ability to anticipate trends, expect problems and collaborate with others in order to create innovative solutions is a superpower that both hero's and successful young professionals share.
The good news about this superpower is that it's free, and you can begin practicing it today. Your boss, spouse, family, friends and coworkers will thank you for it! Sure, it may take some time to get the hang of it, but I know that you can do it!
Keep at it and don't give up! Believe in yourself, and watch as you make a positive impact on this world.
What are other superpowers that you believe young professionals should learn?
We've all been there. Fresh out of the formal education system and asking ourselves one not-so-simple question..."what's next?"
I spent 6 consecutive (and very formative) years pursuing my undergraduate and master's degree before I entered the corporate world full-time, and you know what? I still find myself asking the same not-so-simple question from all those years before..."what's next?" High school and college don't last forever (even though it may feel like it at times).
Truth is, no matter how much information I learned in the classroom (and trust me, I learned a lot), I still believe that all of the textbooks in the world couldn't have prepared me for what it was REALLY like to launch into my career and work that 9:00 - 5:00 grind. I managed to do it pretty well (with minimal personal casualties). I've learned a lot. Hell...I'm STILL learning.
I've never been more convinced that our careers, our lives even, consist largely of a series of choices - setbacks and successes that we cannot anticipate. But take heart, we’re not as helpless as we may think. Choice is a powerful thing, and the solution to successfully navigating life is simple - choose to do what's in front of you, and learn to do it well. If your bosses, coworkers, and friends are in front of you, treat them well. If a new job or project is in front of you, complete it well. If your loved ones are in front of you, love them well. Choose to be kind to yourself. Choose to take things one day at a time.
I've never been more convinced that our careers, our lives even, consist largely of a series of choices - setbacks and successes that we cannot anticipate.
So here it is. A digital space. A sanctuary of sorts that will serve as your dose of encouragement. Your very own guidance counselor. Your go-to for real world young professional advice that I hope will help you to succeed early on in your career.
I invite you to learn and laugh along with me! These blog posts are all things I have either 1. personally experienced, 2. read about 3. would like to do or 4. have actually done. You may not know which category these posts fall under, but even if you do - try not to judge me too harshly for it ;)
In This Together,
If you're having a hard time figuring out how to move forward with a problem or project - the solution is simple!
Find something to love!
Love changes everything!
If you're in business and having a hard time moving your project forward, then find a new way to love your customers. Reconnect with them. Learn more about their wants and needs. Doing this can help you craft a creative product or innovative solution that will deeply resonate with the end-user.
If you're a writer, and having a difficult time crafting your story, begin again by falling in love with your audience. Meditate on the positive impact your words will make in their lives. Own the topic, and take joy in communicating it effectively and in a new and compelling way!
Finding something to love will grant you a new lens through which to view and solve the initial challenge or idea. So go ahead - find something to love today!
Summer in Florida is back again, and the t-shirts, crop tops and flip flops have slowly begun awakening from their short lived hibernation.
Just days ago I was able to finally unfold one of my favorite T's, and was once again reminded of the undeniable impact that my favorite non-profit continues to make on the surrounding community!
Top Buttons is a 501 (c)(3) in Lakeland, FL that is passionate about build self-esteem in young women through fashion. Top Buttons provides full wardrobe makeovers, and hosts/facilitates educational events and seminars for young women who may have come from difficult backgrounds, inspiring them to see their true beauty and worth undefined by their past hurts & difficult experiences.
TB has been warmly received by this charming little city-town called Lakeland, and thousands upon thousands of individuals and organizations continue to rally around this cause through hosting fundraising events and purchasing clothing at TB's newest upscale clothing boutique location downtown.
Some of my readers have asked me how I became involved in Top Buttons, so I thought I would write a little blog post about my experience for all to see!
Let me take you back to a particularly warm day in March 2012....
...actually, let's go back to 2007 first :)
I have always been particularly ambitious. During my freshman year of college I registered on my universities career portal looking for employers interested in hiring young talent.
Fast forward 3 years, and it's my junior year of college. My university was hosting a leadership forum, there were an estimated 700 people in attendance and I believe George W. Bush and his wife were slated to speak at this particular event. In order to pull off a massive undertaking like this, a large number of volunteers were needed and willingly jumped into the fray (myself included)!
On the first or second day of the forum, a woman approached me asking for a hair tie. The A/C in the room was covered by a couple of massive screens, and the temperature inside the room was rising fast. This woman had a glorious head full of curls, which looked to be contributing to her rising body temperature. She was also about 7 months pregnant at the time with her precious son Graham,
I promptly set off to find a hair tie, and returned with a rubber band which she willingly and gratefully accepted without skipping a beat! I asked her name, it was Sarah. She asked me mine, and we got to chatting, eventually deciding to add each other on Facebook.
Fast foward 2 years...
I received a phone call from a local number that I did not recognize. I answered a bit hesitantly, and heard "Hi Anastasia. This is Sarah Powers. Do you remember me by chance?" and in fact, I did! Sarah had found my number via my universities online portal, and after typing in her search criteria, recognized my name on the resume I had posted almost 5 years before! It's simply wild and absolutely no coincidence!
We got to talking, and she told me all about her heart for young women, and her desire to launch a movement that will empower them to recognize and embrace their true worth and beauty!
Sarah had it all planned out, and would use fashion as a medium to accomplish this goal!
I wasn't particularly into the latest fashion trends, BUT I had quite a large network of well-educated and inspiring college students that I knew would LOVE to be a part of something so new and exciting!
And the rest is history! Our small team started meeting at Starbucks once or twice a week well after the sun had set and meet for 2-3 hours at a time. It was only the beautiful beginning!
Back to present day...
Top Buttons is thriving! I have never been more convinced of the positive impact and the overwhelming need that it has continued to meet in this city.
Currently I serve on the Board of Top Buttons, and it has been such a joy playing a small role in this inspiring and life changing organization.
For all my young professionals out there, one of the best things that you can do early on in your career is to donate your time toward a cause that's greater than yourself. I believe there is something positive that happens in our hearts and minds when we are able to see a need and meet it! We gain a new perspective, and a more developed world view. We are also able to network along the way (and networking can always lead to better and brighter opportunities).
We have a responsibility to help make this world a better place! Let's have fun and do it together! Subscribe below to have the latest updates delivered to your inbox!
You can Join the TB movement by visiting their website and donating here!
(2 minute read)
I have only a few memories left of my father.
Most of them are small moments. Moments in time I didn’t realize I would cherish so deeply and unknowingly choose to bring with me into adulthood. Even now, 18 years after his passing, I continue to re-discover new moments with him that teach me more about life. More about people. More about family and faith. More about myself.
In this particular memory I was young, no more than 7 or 8 years old, and riding in the back seat of the car with my brother and step-siblings. I honestly don’t remember where we were going, but I had my brother and my father with me and I was happy.
I was a quiet, inquisitive and introspective child, which is probably why I loved sitting in the window seat during car rides. I used to (and still do) look out the window, and contently consider everything – the trees, the sky, the birds, the people, and on occasion the road kill.
On this particular car ride with my father, my eyes drifted to a strange series of ridges that appeared to be grafted into the pavement beside the car. We must have been on a highway because were driving fast, but no matter how fast we drove these dark ridges seemed to be keeping pace with us.
My small voice spoke up as I asked “Dad, what are these bumps on the side of the road?” His response to this question is what remains branded in my mind over 20 years later.
My father heard me, and without skipping a beat, slowly steered the car toward the right – getting closer and closer to the strange ridges until one or two tires ran over them completely.
The vibration of the rubber tires meeting the mysterious bumps in the road literally shook me - filling my ears with sound and my body with adrenaline. It took me completely by surprise. My father then explained to me that those bumps on the roadside were meant to warn drivers if/when they start to drive off the road. They were there to encourage drivers to return to their lanes.
A simple lesson but he showed me, THEN told me - and I never forgot.
Whenever you have the chance – show them, then tell. You never know what kind of lasting impression it could leave on someone whose watching.
Thank you Dad. I really mean that. I was so young, and I don’t believe that I said it enough, but I can say it again now.
(1 minute read)
Florida, the queen state of the coastlines. It might just be the only state where you can drive east, west or south and have a 100% guarantee of reaching ocean.
I often ask myself how I got here. How did this New England girl venture so far from her childhood home? From lakes and mountains and one-red-light towns, to oceans and beaches and highways full of tourists.
The simple answer? Through hard work, favor and a series of wild opportunities.
Opportunity is as vast as the ocean for receiver, seeker or a creator alike.
And like the oceans waves, the repetitive (and sometimes painful) crashing is inevitable – but so are the treasures that you will discover through exploring the deep.
So jump in, make mistakes and learn from the crashing tides. Choose to treasure the beauty of the life you will be working hard to cultivate along the way.
Each day, the ocean sky experiences an equal chance of sun and storm, and so do we. In a moment, calm seas can become volatile. High winds and rain can seem to threaten your equilibrium and hard work – but take heart. Every setback is a setup for a comeback.
And with time, the sun will break through the stormy clouds and shine on you again!
Sweet Potatoes - I definitely should have added them to the list of things that will bring about world peace.
Who doesn't love the sweet deliciousness of a beautifully roasted sweet potato? (That's a rhetorical question for all you anti-sweet potato people).
I'm not going to say we saved the best recipe for last - but I will say that you have earned every single bite of this scrumptious meal after making your way through the entire 5 day Healthy Recipe series!
A Healthy THANK YOU to Victoria Sgro, the lovely mastermind behind each and every one of these delicious recipes! You are truly a lovely soul, and it has been the most simple pleasure cooking along with you over the last 5 days.
If you want to read even more delicious recipes, don't forget to check out www.ahintofgarlic.com and subscribe to get first dibs on even more tasty recipes!
Until next time <3
Kale, Sun Dried Tomato, Goat Cheese & Bacon