Rachel Discovers Happiness

my life and road to happiness

Archive for the tag “change”

An Elegant Affair

This past weekend I finally got to go down to Southern California to visit my  big sister and stay at her pinspired apartment. Not only that, but I also had the honor of attending her best friend‘s wedding.

mehndi

The wedding was beautiful and Ayesha and E were absolutely stunning. I had never seen anything quite like this event and the only word that comes to mind is “wow.” They both wore traditional Bengali wedding outfits (I apologize for not knowing the correct words to describe the traditions, outfits, etc. but I will do my best) and most of the women in attendance wore beautiful saris. Ayesha’s hands were stained with mehndi – better known as henna in the US – and she wore the most stunning red sari and gold jewelry*.

the stunning bride

Throughout the night I got the opportunity to talk to E at dinner (he is one of the most intelligent people on this earth and just graduated with his masters, he is now looking for a job), dance to Bengali and American music (how those ladies of all ages were dancing so well in their saris I will never know, but I admire them), and generally admire the love that Ayesha and E have for each other and their new families. I won’t go in to all the details about the wedding because you should really read Ayesha and Caitlin’s posts about the event which I’m sure will be a lot more detailed than I can put into words; I will tell you, however, that I seriously felt so loved and blessed that Ayesha thought to invite me to her Bengali wedding.

To Ayesha, thank you so much for inviting me to attend such a magical night. You really did look absolutely beautiful and E looked wonderful in his elegant outfit as well. Seeing him dance with his brother was one of the highlights of my  night – it was so amazing to see how much fun they were having. I hope you enjoyed the night as much as I did. Can’t wait to read/hear about your thoughts now that the weddings are over and you officially get to start your new life. I already told Caitlin that you two (and Dev if she wants a break from med school!) need to find a weekend to come up and visit me in San Francisco so we can do a girls’ weekend together. I can’t wait ❤

Caitlin and Devery

*I tried to take pictures at the wedding but the lighting was very weird and I couldn’t figure out how to get the right color balance. Also, I gave up after a short period of time because I wanted to enjoy the wedding and take everything in without looking through the lens of my camera. I have it on good authority, however, that the photographer they hired is very talented and I’m sure she took some wonderful photos.

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Tomorrow

A year ago tomorrow – June 11 – I graduated from college with my degree in journalism, concentration in public relations and minor in Spanish.

I wish I’d known then that, in exactly 366 days – gotta remember Leap Year! – I would be starting a real job at a real public relations agency with real coworkers and real clients and all that cool big-kid-real-life stuff I’ve been prepping for my entire life.

That’s right, you read me correctly, I got hired on a week ago at a PR agency called Horn. Starting tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. I will be at Horn’s San Francisco office for my first day as an Assistant Account Executive. I can’t wait to meet all my coworkers, find out about the clients I will be working with and get into the type of PR I’ve been longing for since starting my education in the industry.

I’m so excited!

This is one of the biggest steps of my entire life. It’s kind of the equivalent of moving away to college and starting out on my own – only with benefits and a 401(k) plan. Eek!

I found out that I got the position a week and a half ago, but I didn’t want to share my big news before signing the contract and all that good stuff.

Wish me luck!!

A little bit about Horn (from the company website):

HORN is a digital communications agency that combines PR, social media and interactive services to help companies build their brand and move their business forward. 

Named “2011 Technology Agency of the Year,” HORN works with Fortune 500 global brands and hot emerging growth companies in technology, media and consumer markets. Established in 1991, the agency is independent, with offices in San Francisco and New York, and is co-founder of the Oriella International Network.

On Taking Risks and Making Your Own Luck

I have recently been practicing the act of spontaneity. I have been doing things that  scare me, things that I’ve never seen myself doing. I’ve been taking chances and making decisions all in an effort to make myself happier.

This guy saw me taking a picture and said "hey, take a picture of me!" so i did, begrudgingly. Turned out pretty awesome, actually. (contest photo)

I kind of like being spontaneous. It allows for me to step into somebody else’s shoes, or to be the person I could be if I didn’t have so much damn anxiety.

There’s something to be said for bravery and taking risks, embracing chances. You never know what will happen when you do something on a whim.

My photo of the Austin Sky (contest photo)

That’s how I won tickets to SXSWi. I signed up for a sweepstakes on Twitter and somehow won. I chalked it up to a fluke; I’m not a lucky person. I don’t win things. This kind of experience doesn’t happen to me.

Until it did.

Free lunch with Katie, one of my photo companions. (contest photo)

While at SXSW I decided to do a bunch of things that scared me. Simply being there was anxiety enough, but navigating Austin by myself? Well that was downright terrifying.

But I did it.

Katie's photo of me crowd surfing with Skype (contest photo)

I went to panels , listened to speakers, participated in workshops, ate free food and simply did whatever I decided to do. I didn’t really have an agenda or anywhere I had to be because anywhere I went would have been amazing.

One workshop I went to was PhotoCamp. It was all about taking quality photos with your iPhone. I met some pretty cool people in that workshop, some of which I’m still in contact with.

Photo by Katie - artists painting on canvas. She won one of their original pieces! (contest photo)

One of the great things about that session was that we took a chance and entered a contest as a group. There were four of us and the perimeters were simply that we had to use a specific app (RingReef) and collaborate on a photo project about SXSW. Our photos had to be cohesive and reflect how we viewed the event. There could only be 20 photos.

One of the most provocative marketing campaigns at SXSW (contest photo)

We were able to whittle down our submissions, although it was super difficult since we had so many good pictures, and somehow we won.

Frankie's photo - part of the Let's Get Naked campaign (contest photo)

Some of the photos included in this post are ones we won the contest with. What we won with those photos is pretty awesome – we each get a special phone cover that is magnetic and has different lenses, some other iPhone photo stuff, and last but not least, the new iPad.

Crazy, huh?

These kinds things don’t happen to me.

Ike's photo of a DJ at a party (contest photo)

I also entered a scavenger hunt contest with a company called FoundIt! which was based on Twitter. I won that too. I don’t know what the prise is, but it should arrive next week.

When I told Madeline at work the story about winning the ticket, the photo contest and the scavenger hunt and said that these kinds of things don’t happen to me, she laughed at me and said, “I don’t think you’re allowed to say that anymore.”

Another one of Ike's photos - I like the perspective. (contest photo)

And in that moment, when I said they don’t happen to me, I realized something: these kinds of things don’t happen to me because I never let them. I never enter contests because I don’t think I’ll win. I never put myself out there and take risks. I never make spontaneous decisions.

But look at what happens when I do! Maybe some people are naturally lucky. I think that, more likely, these are the people that make their own luck. They are the ones who show up and go for it, whatever “it” may be.

The Skype party

The bacon truck we rented for a client

TED Talk with Nikol, Robert and Phil - cross it off the bucket list!

a photo I took in our photo workshop

You know the Wayne Gretzkey saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” ? Well, as cheesy as it is, I now know what he meant.

I think I’ll start taking more risks and making more of my own luck. Apparently that’s the best way to do it.

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 11

Happy day after Saint Patrick’s Day!

Yesterday was a long day of craziness.

But this post isn’t about that.

Nor is this post about SXSW which I still haven’t had a chance to write about.

This post is just another boring photo-a-day post. But I hope you enjoy it anyway 🙂

March 10 - flying Southwest to SXSW. Remember when you were a little kid and you used to be able to go visit the pilot AND he gave you the little metal wings? Man, times have changed.

March 11 - so true!

March 12 - taken in my SXSW photo camp 🙂

March 13 - Austin, Texas

March 14 - red velvet cupcakes at work to celebrate birthdays

March 15

March 16 - who says going to work can't be beautiful?

March 17 - the only way to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day... Jameson!

How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun to celebrate the holiday?

Check out the post I wrote about SXSW for my company’s blog “Slice: Snackable PR” 🙂

Slice

By @rockegan

Every March for the past 20 years, movie buffs, music connoisseurs and tech nerds have taken over Austin, Texas. To some, the 20,000 extra people swarming the streets would be overwhelming. If you look past the lines, crowds and lack of sleep, however, you begin to realize that you are in a world where being called a “geek” or “nerd” is cool and everybody surrounding speaks the same language as you, and that language is Tech. What you experience for that week is nothing that you have ever experienced before or will ever experience again.

South By Southwest (SXSW) is focused on developing and expanding on innovative ideas for new products and services and because the main focus is technology, no two years are the same. With the rapidity at which the tech world advances, the things that were important this year may be considered archaic by next…

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Nerd-fest 2012: The Waiting Game

AKA South by Southwest Interactive 2012 or Southby or SXSWi from hereon out.

In case you are lame and didn’t read my previous post about this, I recently won a ticket to SXSWi on Twitter. Those tickets go for over $900, are completely sold out, and are the gateway to a wonderful week of networking, start-ups, technology, and mingling with nerds. Nerds just like me!

Looking at me you wouldn’t think I was a nerd – I like to think of myself as a closet nerd and this upcoming SXSWi experience as my Nerd Coming Out Party. (Is that a politically appropriate analogy?)

Anyway, I struggled a lot with whether to go to SXSWi or not. I was nervous for a lot of reasons – money, going out of my comfort zone, being alone, not fitting in, not being nerdy enough (weird fear, right? but totally valid!), etc. but I decided, after 99.9% support from friends, family and strangers, that I would attend. I fretted over the cost of the plane ticket, but thank goodness for Southwest airlines (fitting, isn’t it?) and its low fare calendar, because of that I was able to get tickets to Austin for a fraction of the cost from other airlines. Whew.

I talked to my mom about it a lot – she brought up the cliché “do one thing each day that scares you.” She then told me that, if I went to SXSWi like she thought I should, I would rack up about a month’s worth of “things that scare me” and hopefully get over some of my anxiety and debilitating fears (there are so many that I’m staring down right now that I’m not even going to get into all of them). But okay Mom, you’re right, I should go. I even got an e-mail from her this morning saying:

South by Southwest has been getting HUGE press in the SF Chron business pages – articles yesterday AND today.  You can google that if you are interested and/or have time before you leave today.  It should be an amazing experience.  I am so proud of you for grabbing this opportunity!

Thanks Mom. I really appreciate the support. Really. Now can you pay for the flight? Kidding. Kinda…

I have spent a lot of time this past week talking to just about everybody about what SXSWi is going to be like, what I should do while I’m there, etc. I have been actively posting on Twitter, Facebook, other people’s blogs and just about every other social media site I could think of in order to prepare myself.

I have come to the conclusion that no amount of blog posts, Twitter hash tag chats/follows or conversations about how amazing it’s going to be can prepare me for what I will experience over the next four days.

Although I don’t think all of my research can adequately prepare me for this (what I believe to be) life-changing event, here are the conclusions I’ve come to out of all of my anxious energy/excitement:

  • In going to SXSWi I am reaching so ridiculously far out of my comfort zone it isn’t even funny. I only won one ticket to the conference, which means I will be attending things, gasp!, alone! On the plus side, according to every single person I’ve talked to who has been, that’s the best way to do it! It forces you to get to know people and network. Apparently, going out of your comfort zone is what SXSWi is unofficially all about – who woulda thought!
  • I had no idea what to wear – does it matter? I’m such an over-packer and this event is definitely no exception. Also, I’ve never been to Austin, or even Texas, so I don’t know what the culture is like. If I brought my cowboy boots would people think I was a crazy poser? Since I had no idea what to wear and from convos with a good friend of mine, I just decided to pack everything I could think of. Maybe I’m stupid, but Swouthwest allows you to check one bag free of charge, so I’m golden.*
  • I have no idea what panels/presentations/events to go to because all of this happened so fast and I haven’t had time to research everything. But you know what, that is just part of the experience!
  • I’m not nerdy enough for this event. One of my major fears. Which is complete BS because I am a super nerd and technology and startups and electronics and design and HTML and CSS do interest and excite me. Maybe I’m not an expert like a lot of other people will be, but so what!
  • I never do anything spontaneous which means that this better be good. It could probably make or break my spontaneous side. Kidding (and this time I really am). I’m really excited that I’m being so spontaneous! It is a quality that I always see in other people and really admire, so I guess this is my turn to develop that same quality in myself and hopefully I’ll inspire somebody else who is scared of spontaneity and not having a plan.
  • WHERE WILL I STAY?! Okay well lucky for me, my friend Nikol over at Who’s Austin moved to Austin a few months ago (hence the blog title) and has a floor (or couch?) I can sleep on while I’m there. This means that a) I don’t have to pay for a hotel room (much less find a hotel room since they are all sold out) and b) I get to spend some quality time at presentations, networking events and parties with an old friend (Nikol and I lived on the same floor freshman year of college)
  • Similar to the previous thought, when will I sleep? I’m pretty sure those who go to SXSW don’t get very much sleep. At all. Like, maybe 3 hours a night. I barely survive when I only get 6 hours of sleep a night, so I’m basically planning on being exhausted and getting sick for 2.5 weeks after this event. But hey, that’s all part of the adventure, right? Right?!

My motto over the past few months has been “Be Brave” and that’s exactly what I’m going to be over the next few days (and beyond!)

I know I sound ridiculous, but I’m nervous! So cut me some slack.

Now, as per the title of this post, the waiting game starts. I am currently sitting in those uncomfortable airport chairs at the San Francisco airport waiting for my flight to Austin via Las Vegas (yay slot machines!) We were supposed to leave around now, but the flight was delayed. So i’m just sitting here. Hanging out. Researching SXSWi.

Life could be worse.

P.S. Thanks to Brad King (The Bradpocolypse or @TheBradKing) and everybody else who has written articles/blog posts about how to survive SXSWi – you have been the main instruments responsible for maintaining my sanity over the past 48 hours.

P.P.S. Thank you to everybody who commented on my previous post, everybody on Twitter, all my friends and everybody at work for encouraging me to go – and not really leaving me a choice 🙂

P.P.P.S. If you are going to be at SXSW, let’s meet up! Comment on here or find me on Twitter (@rockegan). Let me know what your favorite part of SXSWi has been and share any advice you have! Looking forward to meeting you 🙂

*I read in a few blogs about what I should and shouln’t pack – t-shirts were on the “no pack” list because apparently there are free t-shirts just about everywhere. I didn’t listen to this. I shamefully packed two t-shirts into my suitcase. Two t-shirts that are probably taking up space from all the other t-shirts I will receive while I’m there. Oops.

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 8

Normally I don’t post twice in one day, but earlier today I said that I would do my Picture-A-Day post that I neglected last week. I wasn’t about to go back on that commitment.

February 18 - our first home made meal at the apartment (of course it was spaghetti)

That is something I’m trying to work on – sticking to things that I say I’m going to do. Now, I’m not a complete flake, in my professional life I’m very good at getting things done by a deadline. I’m dedicated to my work, and I come by that naturally (both of my parents are very dedicated to their jobs – it’s genetics). But in my personal life, sometimes I say I’m going to do something and then end up getting too tired, or I forget, or whatever, but I’m trying to work on that. It’s something that bothers me about other people, so I feel as though I should change it in myself as well.

February 19 - my receipt.. I've never seen my name spelled like that... ever.

Here’s another confession, as if I haven’t revealed enough of my shortcomings today, I didn’t take a picture one day last week – February 20 to be exact. I could come up with some sort of excuse about being ridiculously busy and having a bunch of other stuff to finish (like finally getting my apartment completely set up and worked out), but the fact is, I simply forgot.

So sue me.

There’s no reason to beat myself up for missing the photo opp. In order to make up for it, though, I tried to take more pictures throughout the rest of the week. I’m disappointed in myself that I broke my new year’s resolution, but it was just one day and the point of the exercise isn’t necessarily to take a picture every single day – it’s more to use a camera more, whether it be my Canon Rebel or my iPhone.

February 21 - a rip in my tights 😦 and I love those tights! oh well

February 22 - I decided to walk to work and took pictures along the way

February 22 - China Town

February 22

February 23 - the staircase in my building

February 23 - one of my favorite buildings in San Francisco

February 23 - view of Alcatraz from Union St

February 24 - my new friend on my desk at work

February 25 - "breakfast" at Ikea (before we went shopping to finish decorating our apartment)

February 26 - meet Teddy, I've had him since I was 25 days old 🙂

February 27 - "because the best monsters are actually good on the inside" (makes me think of Monster's Inc.)

And a bonus one from my wanderings around San Francisco.. just because I like this one 🙂

How was your weekend? Did you do anything special?

I hope your Monday went well!

A Change

I’ve decided to make a change to my blogging strategy.

If you are a normal reader and have followed me since I started this blog (only about 2 months ago), you know that I had all these grand blogging goals set up for myself coming into 2012. You also know that I haven’t been doing a very good job at accomplishing those goals. I’m trying to do everything at once, but I think I just put too much on my plate.

Sometimes I feel like this (stock image)

One of the main things I’m struggling with is the fact that I have two blogs running at the same time. I have one for my personal life (this one) and one for my professional thoughts (RachelHelen). I didn’t want to have a combination blog because I wanted to cater to everybody’s interests, speak to my demographic, all that good stuff.

That just didn’t work for me. I didn’t even get my Photo-A-Day post out last week! (It will come soon… hopefully tonight…)

I have tried scheduling certain days to write in one vs the other, I have tried duplicating posts, I have tried just about everything. One of the main reasons this doesn’t work is because I am no longer working from home – I have a real job, in a real office that I go to every morning at a specific time and come home at a specific time (generally exhausted from that day’s work and not wanting to look at the computer anymore). Because of this, I have decided that I will no longer have two blogs.

Instead, I will be keeping this blog and discontinuing the other one. This means, I’m sorry to say, that even if you are not interested in public relations/social media/the internet world, I will be blogging a bit about that here. I don’t want to lose any of my readers, but I also want to be able to update on a regular basis and updating TWO blogs instead of one just seems so daunting. Right now, instead of keeping up with one or two, I’m keeping up with none.

This is just not okay in my overly-dedicated, perfectionist and multitasking-driven mind.

I would absolutely love any input you can give me on my writing, what you would like to hear more about, and what you could do without.

This blog isn’t just for me, it is for you, and for all the other readers out there who haven’t yet discovered my awesomeness (kidding… kinda. But share with your friends! The more the merrier also works in the blogging world.)

Anyway, so those are my thoughts on this subject matter. I will be trying to combine the two blogs (AKA import my posts from my other blog to this blog…) and write more frequently.

I hope to see more of you as I continue to write here.

Have a wonderful Monday!!!

Photo-A-Day 2012: Week 6

I’m way too exhausted to write anything else besides posting my Friday photos… on Saturday. Oh well, It’s been a crazy week. Got the keys to my apartment. Started work (yay). Emptied out the storage unit in SLO and got all our stuff home (double yay). And tomorrow we officially move in.

Here are the pictures from this week. Then it’s bed time. Triple yay.

February 4 - Darling... I don't know how to tell you this, but... there's a Chinese family in our bathroom...

February 5

February 6 - Is Lucky's really considered the "smile zone?"

February 7

February 8

February 9 - got to work early on my second day so I sat outside, drank a latte, and read. The weather was beautiful in San Francisco!

February 10 - sunrise on the way to work

January 11 - moving from SLO to San Francisco

And on that note, good night, I’ve got a big day tomorrow.

Effects of Empathy

Empathy is a wonderful quality. It allows you to really connect with others. It allows you to feel their emotions, understand where they are coming from, and really take relationships to the next step.

Of the qualities I value in myself, empathy is at the top of the list. I think I’m a good friend. I listen to people and genuinely understand where they are coming from. I am able to comfort people because I can honestly say that I know how they feel.

On the other hand, empathy is an awful emotion. It allows you to feel other people’s emotions.

Although I value my ability to empathize with others, sometimes it makes my life really difficult. Especially with negative emotions. When somebody is happy, it makes me happy too, but only to a certain extent. When somebody is sad, however, I feel those emotions much more intensely. If somebody is crying or upset about something, it physically makes my heart tighten. I feel like my chest is closing in, and often times I am able to hold myself together just as long as it takes for me to get out of their proximity before I break down in tears myself.

Yup, that’s right, I feel other people’s emotions so extremely that their tears bring me to tears.

The reason I am writing about this right now is because today, a family friend of mine passed away. I got an email from my step mom earlier in the day telling me that his mother found his body this morning. Although I have heard his name, I didn’t know him personally. He went to church with my step mom and my step sisters and he graduated from high school with my older sister. My step mom has nothing but nice things to say about his family. When she told me about his passing, I instantly replied, telling her that she had a huge hug waiting for her when she got home.

When she walked in the door at 7:45, that’s exactly what she got. A huge hug. My step mom is a big hugger so I’m used to her comforting arms, but this was a different hug. This time, I was the one supporting her. It felt like she was holding on to me and didn’t want to let go. She had tears streaming down her face. She was sobbing. And through the sobs she gasped “his mom found him with the needle still in her arm.”

My stomach dropped. My heart constricted. I didn’t know what to say.

I gave her one more squeeze and when she went over to my dad, I went to my room and broke down. I sat on the floor up against my bed, with tears streaming down my face, and cried. I cried for the lost life of somebody so young, for his family and friends, and for my step mom who I rarely see that upset.

She doesn’t know I cried. Most people don’t. (And shhhh, don’t tell her. Although being empathetic is difficult at times, like I said, it’s one of my favorite qualities in myself.)

As I was sitting there with tears streaming down my face, although my mind never went off of the young man and his family, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I am that my family doesn’t struggle with things like hard drug addiction, drunk driving, or teen pregnancy (knock on wood… Pookie still has 8 months until she is officially out of the teen years).

Although we do have our struggles, we are pretty tight knit and support each other. We take care of each other, and make sure that we stay on the right track. This young man’s family did everything that mine would do in their situation, everything they could think of to try to help him through his addiction – rehab, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, praying, etc.

Through all of this, my mind has jumped from person to person who has passed away since my high school years. All of the young people I know who have died have been from one sort of substance abuse or another. I had a friend named Andy who died at 17 from drinking and driving. A boy a year or two older than me OD’d on oxycotton. A young man I graduated with was shot in a dispute over drugs. This makes me extremely sad.

What will it take for people to realize that doing those things doesn’t make you cool?  Calling your parents for a ride home won’t make them as mad at you as drinking, driving and killing somebody would. Shooting heroin won’t make people like you more – and if they do, you probably don’t really want to be hanging out with them in the first place. Selling drugs may be a good source of income, but it’s dangerous and you are contributing to issues in so many other people’s lives.

My step mom, kind of regretfully, told me that she kind of went off on her students today. She was crying and lectured them to never try drugs. Never get into those types things because they are dangerous. She told them that she didn’t want to go another funeral – that it was so painful to watch young people pass away when they had so much more life to live. That not only would they be hurting themselves when they tried things like drugs or drinking and driving, but they hurt their families and friends too. She was kind of sad that she lectured them like that – I think it is extremely important that she did. If even one kid chooses to say “no” because of that lecture, she has made a positive difference (as she does every day in the lives of her students).

Although empathy sometimes makes things difficult for me, I wouldn’t trade it for any other qualities (except, maybe, confidence…) My breakdown after that hug was painful, but it allowed me to look at my family and realized how blessed (or lucky, depending on your religious views) I am and how amazing my family and friends are.

My heart goes out to those who are affected by drugs and alcohol. What my step mom said to her students today is spot on – don’t even start with things like cocaine, heroin, etc. You aren’t just hurting yourself, you are hurting all those whose lives you have touched, and a bunch of people you didn’t even know you had an effect on.

As my step mom just said to me (literally, 3 seconds ago):

It really puts it into perspective that we get ourselves all worked up and nervous about things that really aren’t important.

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