A.M. Routine: Drink Your Citrus

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What I’m celebrating today: Happy just about February! This amount of happiness knowing January is about over is pretty much making my heart smile. Spring is that much closer. Ahh…and it’s Friday. Loveliness.

Lately, as you know, I’ve been a bit down and out. Winter has been especially horrid this year for me, but I can’t say I haven’t been a little more pro-active about it. (Although I might have indulged in serious heart-wrentching country music from the 90s lately- that shit isn’t for the faint of heart.) Why is that when we’re down we usually want to jam to songs that are just as sad? Allison Krauss, I’m looking at you. You know, I actually need an answer for that one.

 Anyhow, I used to run pretty avidly, however the past few years have definitely seen a big decline. So, in November before all the NYR’s started rolling out at the gym, I decided to start trekking back to where I used to be. Goal: Run past 15 mins. without looking like a zombie afterwards. Last week I finally(yyy) felt wonderful and happy about having to run. Pro-active score: one check for Laura. Continue reading “A.M. Routine: Drink Your Citrus”

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Spreading The Love: Advice On Finding A Meaningful Career

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{The following is an interview I did with the help of the lovely team over at Vitamin Angels via 20Something that I wanted to share with you guys xo- please feel free to find my writing over there and share in 20Something’s journey!}

A couple weeks ago I was thinking about what a ‘career’ truly means.  We’re prompted pretty much from the time we can take our first steps to then begin our search for ‘what we want to be.’  I suppose I have probably sounded off close to twenty-three absurdly different paths of what I want to make of my life since I was seven years old.  And then, when you finally get to your 20s- some, big, overwhelming truth hits you for the first time.  It’s like that one day everything becomes somewhat silent and a little…dim.  I think it’s the Universe who decides at some random given moment, “Hey, today I’m going to let that kid know the truth about what it means to truly have that career they’ve been going on about”, a somewhat evil laughter brimming, “And they’ll never be the same.”

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You know what I’m talking about, the sudden day you realize that amazing ‘career path’ you have chosen– has simply become a rut, with no real destination- or journey for that matter.  So, what’s next?  I think for a while we run from it, getting odd jobs here and there, maybe even recklessly touring the country in a mini van and surviving off of food trucks planted about.  After the initial shock that hits, many of us realize the only way to truly get ahead is realizing it’s okay to say everything isn’t absolutely perfect.  Perfection isn’t what life is about.  You then begin looking for answers, and advice, and both eventually finds us along our way.  I suppose that’s exactly what I was looking for when I decided to get in touch with Vitamin Angels.  I wanted an answer.  An answer that could apparently only come from an amazing Non-Governmental Organization, that helps women and children around the world, and the very definition of being ameaningful career. Our generation is looking ahead to a lot of pressing issues- which got me to thinking- isn’t our real job to begin helping out through our careers?

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Recent Vitamin Angels trip to Haiti, 1 in 4 Haitian children under 5 are Vitamin A deficient 

 That’s when I was put in touch with Megan MacKay (i.e. the defining women of what is stated above), the Event Manager of the NGO, Vitamin Angels.  In a nutshell Megan is a beautiful, strong-willed, 30something, women, rockin’ out a seriously wonderful career- and having a great time balancing it all with her husband, five horses, two dogs, and her beloved cat.  I was told she was one of the most inspirational people found within their offices, and was hopelessly in love with her job.  All I could think was, can this please be me one day?  It was pretty evident when I began speaking with her that her co-workers were, indeed, very right.  She adored her job and knew she had found a career that held meaning- and a purpose.  When I first contacted her, she asked if she could get in touch with me after her (life-changing) trip to Malawi.  Do I even need to add you could also tell she had fulfilled the, ‘What I Want To Be When I Grow Up Award’– by far.  And who can blame her?  Vitamin Angels is one of the biggest NGOs helping the child mortality rate go down worldwide through providing simple vitamins and nutrients that saves lives- everyday.  I asked her a few questions about our generation according to her, what she thinks our generation is doing better, how she found her dream job, and what it’s like knowing you’re helping create a brighter future through your career:

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Megan MacKay on her recent trip to Malawi with Vitamin Angels

Q:  What do you honestly think of the future of Generation Y? Joel Stein of Time magazine just did a pretty nasty article on us this year, “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation”, where we were called things like ‘lazy’, ‘narcissistic’, and ‘money hungry’. Nice, right?  For me, I’ve always wanted to think we were hard-working, knew our self-worth, and more worried about the greater good than some extra cash. What do you think?

A: I think it really depends on the individual. I know a lot of people in my generation that act like the “Me, Me, Me” type, but I also know plenty that really do care and even if they don’t have the funds to contribute to charities they recycle, compost, conserve, and more to try and make a difference (donating time, etc). I do feel that more people from my generation care about the environment, social issues, and trying to find ways to make a bigger impact on the world. I also believe that our generation has a stronger outcry for more organic and sustainable items than that of older generations.

Q: Okay, so for a little inspiration; What’s something that has changed your life, so far, with working at Vitamin Angels– and what is something that keeps ‘positive vibes’ flowing throughout your day?

A: I just got back from a life-altering trip to Malawi with our team that you’ll hear about, which was an incredible experience. That’s definitely changed my life greatly.  And I like to think of balance;  I strive to try and be the best person that I think I can be in life, love, and work. I have so many dreams it could only take a book to write them all down, but I am hopeful that I will be remembered for trying to make a difference and leading by example.

Q:  I think the book idea sounds brilliant. We’re all for it!  So, let’s be honest, in our 20s there is a lot of freaking out involved when it comes to our career choices.  I have to ask you this; Before you began working for VAs, did you ever feel “trapped” in a job that felt like it wasn’t going in the direction you thought it would? Even if you were making good money? If so, what gave?

A: I think just about everyone starting out in their 20’s after college has that feeling of being trapped in a completely meaningless job. As you attempt to work your way up the ladder, you think to yourself, it might get better. I certainly had that feeling of wanting something bigger, better, and doing something that actually had meaning behind it. I think my breaking point was just last year; I was making great money, working my tail off, but not really happy with myself- or who I was becoming.  I knew I had to make a change in my life so I started looking for something different.

Q: So, in that case, how did you find that change? Did you find Vitamin Angels– or did they find you?

A: I actually found the Vitamin Angel’s opening on Craigslist, when I read the ad I honestly thought, “Is this for real? Because if it is, I am the perfect fit!” Ironic how it all works out.

Q: So obviously you were right- it was the perfect fit. Was it always a dream of your’s to work for an NGO, or was it the ‘light of Craigslist’ that sparked that, “Aha!”, lightbulb? I think being in our 20s we feel this pressure to ‘have it all figured out’, so it’s nice to hear feedback from someone who has been there…

A: I have worked for some very large Fortune 500 corporations in my earlier career stages, which have provided so much to me in earnings, learning, and having some pretty amazing mentors. After graduating college, I have to be honest, my dream was to be an extremely successful Marketing Director (or something to that level), and I certainly wasn’t thinking about working for an NGO at that point of my life. After 10 years in the corporate world my ‘aha’ moment was actually at an Event Planner conference where an NGO called “Clean the World” did a presentation. There was a moment in a video from Haiti where they were giving the children soap, and the tears just started welling up in my eyes– all that crossed my mind was, “I wish I could do MORE, I wish I was doing something that made a difference.” A couple of months later I saw the Vitamin Angels ad in Craigslist for the Event Manager position and I just knew that it was the perfect fit for me. I could do something I love, and do it for an organization I truly believe in.

Q: Ah, I love it! I’m such a sap for ‘full-circle’ life happenings.  Tells us more about being Vitamin Angel’s Event Manager– I feel like it’s one of those jobs ‘that keeps rolling’, so to say. You get to have a great time, making sure everyone has a great time, having a great time creating the difference you guys make around the world.  Whew, that’s a pretty awesome job description if you ask me.  What’s a typical day in your shoes?

A: Vitamin Angels has several large events throughout the year. Mainly for fundraising, donor recognition, and to increase awareness– a day in the life with me is all about multitasking. I manage extensive budgets, track expenses, work closely with management on all levels, both at VA, with our board members, and with our partners to make sure the event is a success. I am constantly thinking about event design and marketing to make the events memorable and unique. I develop strategies to make sure our goals are being met, reach out to partners to help secure registrations and sponsorships, answer attendee and sponsor questions/concerns, develop reports to track progress, site research and then work with the vendors regarding the event logistics (food, promotional items, activities, etc.)

The best part of my day, though, is definitely the amazing friendships made and the camaraderie in the office. From the awesome VA rap that was done at our Christmas party this year (kudos to my creative co-workers!), to the amazing birthday celebrations (and as the office staff grows, so do the parties, wink wink), and our fun brainstorming atmosphere (we have had some pretty wild ideas) each day- there is just this joyful aura around here- and it’s such an honor to be a part of such a cohesive team of individuals.

Q: Seems like a pretty wonderful place to create, inspire, and have an open space of exchange. That’s lovely. I must ask this because of the area of work you guys deal with everyday; We walk around places all the time and see loads of vitamins swarming the aisles and don’t actively think much of it- from grocery stores, health stores, pharmacies, etc.  What is it like now, seeing this, when you know so many women and children die everyday from such a simple deficiencies? Has it changed you at all?

A: I am so proud of everything that we are doing with Vitamin Angels– and have seen firsthand the affect that it is having globally– that I honestly haven’t focused on the negativity (death) that much. I suppose I find myself more engaged and thoughtful on how can we reach more people- ‘How do we get the word out so that everyone has heard of Vitamin Angels?’- those sort of thoughts cross my mind a lot nowadays. It is also amazing to me that .25 cents can save one child’s life. Vitamin Angels has changed me by actually being proud of what I do and who I work for. I know that at the end of the day creating memorable events, equals out to creating mass awareness about our cause.

Q: Obviously we’re on the same page; Creating a meaningful and positive impact on others in our lives is one of the only true ways to live life to the fullest. You certainly do this in your line of work– do you feel like your job is a sort of ‘complete success’ in a way? Especially when so many of us know we get caught up in merely working to support a lifestyle we want?

A: I absolutely feel that my job is a gift. I am so grateful for being able to work with such great people that truly believe in what we are doing, in an industry that is truly proud to work with us, and is so supportive. If you feel you want a job that is more meaningful, simple and actively seek it out– eventually you will find your calling. It may not fall out of the sky immediately, but you’ll get there.

Q: So how has your life changed knowing you are working for a greater good? 

A: My life has certainly changed for the better. What has truly inspired me while working at VA are the certainly the incredibly dedicated and intelligent people I work with, but also having the opportunity to see the Vitamin A distribution in Malawi, Africa. The impact was profound and is currently driving me to find ways to bring the feeling from the trip to those that might not be able to go to a remote distribution, but will find a way to come to our events and make a difference.

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Photograph of Malawi mother and son, as she builds her own home, brick-by-brick

 Q: Was there one particular moment while distributing Vitamin A, in Malawi, that touched you/inspired you– being a women and playing such a key-role in a huge NGO?

A: While in Malawi, the last village we visited, there was a young mother, 23 years old with two children and she was building her own home…brick by brick (literally – she was making the bricks one by one in the mud). Her love for her children and her need to provide for them, although she has nothing, was so overwhelming. Standing in a pile of mud (that she was using to create each brick) she takes her son, rinses off his legs and hands, gives him a big hug and sends him over to play with the other children. A mother’s love for her child reaches across the globe and all that crossed my mind after seeing this was how can I help VA more? What can I do to bring these stories to life for those that aren’t able to be in Malawi with me? It has inspired me to push myself even harder with life and work but it also reminded me to take time to enjoy being with those that I love.

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Q: So, my last question is pretty loaded; If you could say something to generations before you on behalf of Generation Y, what do you think you would say about us?

A: It’s as simple as, watch and learn…

If you would like to learn more, get involved, or donate to Vitamin Angels, please visit their website, donations may be taken here!

A special thanks from 20Something to Vitamin Angels and Megan MacKay for our interview! You guys Rock!

{all images in the interview are courtesy of Vitamin Angel’s}

Smell The Roses; and other Life Lessons.

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Through a child’s eyes the world has little faults. To be simply living and breathing and laughing can make up for a kaleidoscope of troubles and hardships. I always reflect on this when life gets a little overwhelming for me. And believe me, I reflect a lot these days. We often somehow drift very far from our beginning, those roots that once kept us grounded in the pastel-lit summer breeze of our childhood- eventually sways away and we begin trying to fit jagged puzzle pieces together, a mold and creation of what we hope ends up looking like our ‘self’. It’s funny really if you sit and think about it, hell, you probably become too involved in your own mind and drive yourself crazy (much like someone I know, guilty.)- but I’ve been trying to make this ‘puzzle’ a swift trial-and-error kinda’ ordeal, rearranging what’s ‘important’ and what ‘I need to be doing’. Hence, my absence for the past bit on my lovely blog-o-space. I’ve been writing lists and marching around the internet trying to ‘get things done’, and half the time I end up realizing I’m not even completely sure what I’ve actually gotten done. Or, even better, what I’m doing. I’m also a list kinda’ girl, and if you are like me, it’s like random tiny notebooks take an Aladdin-type aura and swarm around me at all hours of the day, some filed with tiny to-do’s, other’s with, like, hilarious ten-step plans for me to be able to sip some sort of iced tea in a decent sized backyard that has flowing assortments of lemon, orange, and avocado trees, and I’m in some marvelous, flowing, white attire practicing ‘enlightenment’ and meditation. Also, I’ve helped the world in some decent, awesome, way and I have no worries because I am able to give back to the world and I get to write all the time about people’s awesome lives as a real big girl job- so everything is peaceful and lovely. It’s like, can that just happen? Ah, my life. Someday.

Anyhow, that’s where I’ve been loves. Fishing for my dreams. Oh, being 23… I’m hoping I’m not the only craze in this gen’?  It felt appropriate to write today about this, especially in light of ‘throwback thursday’, and my already (somewhat) jaded self above (haha).

I’m slowly trying not to be a human cartoon, with all the running and feeling like I’ve past the same scenery…23 times. I think if we all admit it- it’s a part of the whole ‘molding self’ ordeal. Like a right of passage or some way the Universe gets a laugh when it gets bored being so old and such. So I’ll hand it to him, half the time my life does slightly feel like a comedy, but perhaps we just have to take it as a good thing, and laugh with it. Fitting puzzle pieces together swiftly isn’t really working for me, so I figure I’ll just keep writing about the trail and error and lovely things, and somehow everything will simply be okay.

So I’m smelling the roses and keeping up just doing what I love to do, and with that you can’t go wrong. I was actually thinking about this very statement last week when I was visiting my grandmother’s home at the beach- and I figured I would share. She passed away about a year ago, but she was one of those people that always made you feel like life, indeed, wasn’t falling apart. She was born in 1920, so I always figured her advice was hierarchy to all the rest, wouldn’t you? Especially when I first had my ‘beginning-life-crisis’ in the very beginning of my twenties. She was always a big believer in things working out, and keeping light on ‘the little things’. So, a couple weeks ago I posted this from a picture I took while walking around one day. The quote I thought of just kinda’ stuck, and ever since I’ve been trying to really pay attention to everything around me because I think we are given little signs everyday, to show us we really do have a purpose, and someone is always there. Anyhow, it’s always hard going to South Carolina knowing she won’t be there to cheer me up or give me wonderful life advice, but I was sitting in the sun one day- stressing and worrying particularly at that very moment-and suddenly noticed her favorite roses were blooming in one particular spot. Right about that time, a red cardinal flew in right beneath them…I scrambled around quietly like a spazz for a chance to get a picture- and I got it just before he flew off. It didn’t end up being the clearest shot, but I caught it, and that was enough. Needless to say, even in its somewhat blurriness, it will have a lovely place on a wall somewhere in my home sometime in the very near future. I figured with something so ironic and beautiful (story and all), it has to have a more permanent space in my life.

So, maybe you’re in my boat, or something like it- so it’s a nice reminder to share with you, loves; we’re always apart of something bigger, than ourselves, than our worries, than the things that maybe bring us down sometimes. So, I suppose this post is kind of a kickoff to summer posts, and thoughts, and fashion, and food, and faith? (who knows, anything goes), and ponders, and all sorts of loveliness. From me…then, and now.

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