Sunday, September 19, 2010

Redhead Pride

"Scotland has the highest percentage of natural redheads, with 13 percent. Ireland is a close second, with 10 percent. Only about 2 percent of people in the United States have naturally red hair."
I talk a lot about being a red head. It's probably annoying but it is part of my identity and frankly if you aren't a red head you just wouldn't understand. Being a red head or "ginger" as some call it is a package deal. You get the hair, the freckles, the sunburns, and the distinction of being the token red head pretty much anywhere you go. The other night I was at a party and two other red heads were there.  It was an incredible scene and made me realize how rare it is to see a red head, an actual red head. No, people with brown hair that turns slightly red in the summer do not count. I hate when people say that almost as much as I hate people that  can't merge correctly on 66. But I digress...

Being a red head wasn't something I was always proud of. As a kid I was called "Carrot Top" or "Red" and was really sensitive about it. Like any other young kid I wanted to fit in. I wanted to have brown hair and brown eyes like everyone else. Now it's different.  Would I like to to be able to go for a run without wearing SPF 80? Sure. By the way, I think the whole SPF think is BS. As long as you're wearing SPF 25 or higher and reapply a few times it doesn't matter what you buy. It's like buying a diet Coke with a quarter pound cheeseburger and fries. Same result, different name.

Being a red head means only getting a "tan" when your freckles come together after a long day in the sun or in a dark bar. It means wearing sun block when it's raining. It means being "the red head" anywhere you go. But you need to embrace it. I always joke that red heads are their own race, but in a way we are our own people.  I can go a whole week without seeing a Ginger.  By the way I don't think red heads should be allowed to go bald. Why give us the hair if we are just going to lose it? Genetics suck sometimes.

People need to embrace what makes them different. Everyone has something that separates themselves from someone else. Whether it be personality, interests, talents, looks, etc. embrace your uniqueness because being average just leaves you as another number.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Live life by your own rules

Anytime someone asks me how I'm doing I usually say, "Living the dream." Most people think it's a joke, and in a way it is. My life's pretty average when it comes down to it. But at the end of the day I have the freedom to do what I want, so in that respect I am living the dream, or at least my dream at this stage in my life.

I feel like people are in a rush to do everything.  People feel the need to be married by this age, kids by this age. They need a certain job, car, house or they won't be successful. Whatever happened to appreciating the little moments?  People get so caught up in getting all the big things done they forget to appreciate what comes along the way.

You have your whole life to start a family, but how much time do you have to do whatever you want with no responsibilites?   Not very long when you think about it. Also, why do you only have a certain amount of time to do things? I feel like if the norm wasn't to get married and have kids by a certain age people wouldn't do it. Not that there is anything wrong with either of those. In fact, I would like both someday. It just needs to be for the right reasons.

It's almost like these societal milestones are a chore sometimes. I better live it up in my 20's cause in my 30's I have to settle down.  Why? Why not just let it happen when it happens? Go out and meet new people, join an Alumni softball team, go to a network event for work. Get out of your comfort zone and stop worrying about what you're supposed to do.  Realize what you're ready for at this stage in your life. If you're ready to settle down then do it. If not, then don't. That's the beauty of America, you can do what you want. I think sometimes we forget that.  Life's too short to just resign yourself to a certain fate. Get out there and make your own dream.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We all love music

Have you ever met someone that doesn't like music? I didn't think so.  Whether it be rock, rap, country, bluegrass or even that screaming stuff I think they call Emo, we all love it.  Music serves a number of functions.  It can help us smile during our worst days or make us laugh or cry with one verse or tune. Anytime I've had a bad day I put on some 2pac, Phil Collins, or Rod Stewart and everything goes away.  The power of music truly is unbelievable.

Music takes us back to moments in life and places we've been. It reminds us of former boyfriends and girlfriends. Anyone who has been in a relationship has 1 or 2 songs they will always associate with that person. It takes us back to seemingly meaningless moments in time that are made meaningful by one song.  In truth, it hits the soul.  Music can also bring people together like few other things in life can.  It can pump us up for a big game, or mellow us out after a day at work.  We laugh, we cry, we sing along.

I still remember listening to "Learning to Fly" on my way to college graduation. I still remember the songs I listened to during the best and worst times of former relationships. Whenever I hear oldies I think back to the days playing Parcheesee with my dad when I was a kid.  I still remember the first time I heard 2pac and where I was.  In short, music makes us remember, and in the end that is what life is all about.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thankful to be an American

As I sat along the banks of the Potomac River today listening to Tom Petty and drinking a couple cold Sam Adams beers, I thought about how thankful I am to be an American. The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holiday's.  Barbecues, fireworks, a day off work. It's quite simply an outstanding day. But it's also a time to reflect on how lucky we are to be from this great country.

Freedom is often taken for granted.  Many in the world don't have this privledge and come to America seeking what we were born into. Our forefathers fought for our freedom and our soldiers continue to fight bravely to protect it.  As Americans we can make our own futures.  Sure, some have more opportunity than others to succeed, but the basic premise holds true; Everyone has the chance to be successful.

Life sucks sometimes. We grumble about work, family, friends, money.  Sometimes it's hard to remember how lucky we all are.  It's easy to forget all the choices we have. We can get an education, travel the world, get married to who we want. We can sit by the river and drink beers, or watch football on the couch on Sunday's.  We can listen to the music we want, watch the movies we want, work as much or as little as we want.  We can create our own future whatever that may be.  Let's all make sure to take a moment today and thank our lucky stars that we are Americans.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fresh Perspective

Think about your usual morning routine before work.  You wake up, eat breakfast, shower, brush your teeth, etc. Afterwards, you hop in your car or walk to the metro and before long you are starting your day. But some people don’t have it so easy. Just getting to work is half the battle. This is the case for many of the graduates of the Training Futures Program and something many of us take for granted.

The Training Futures program helps unemployed and underemployed individuals develop skills needed to help in an office environment. Upon graduating from the program participants will earn up to 17 college credits through a partnership with Northern Virginia Community College. For three out of the 25 weeks trainees have the opportunity to intern with different companies. A member of the program interned with our company for 3 weeks and did a great job.

A couple months ago a couple coworkers and I attended the graduation ceremony for 30 Training Futures graduates. The ceremony was a deeply moving experience. These graduates beat enormous odds to achieve what they did. Many took buses an hour and a half each day to attend classes for the program. Another graduate walked her three kids to three different child care centers and then took a bus to work. Keep in mind this is all to get to a program to help them get a job.  It makes it seem foolish to complain about having to work late on a Friday doesn’t it?

The two Training Future graduates speakers told incredible stories of their lives before and after being enrolled in the program. The first was a Chinese citizen who immigrated to America to provide a better life for his family. He was struggling to make ends meet and provide for his wife and two children. One day he got a call from his wife saying their power had been shut off. They did not have enough money to pay and feared they might have to live on the street. It was at that moment that he knew he had to do something. Thankfully he was able to join this program and has just completed his internship at Booz Allen.

The second speaker's story was just as powerful. She had come out of a domestic violence situation and her confidence was down. Her experience in the Training Futures program instilled in her the confidence to believe in herself and that she could achieve whatever she wanted to. She has been on several interviews thus far and is waiting to hear back from the employers. We certainly wish her the best and know she would be a valuable asset to any organization.

This is truly an outstanding program and one that has improved hundreds of lives. We all could learn something from the graduates of this program. The dedicated staff needs to be recognized as well. Without their diligence and support none of this would be possible.

The Training Futures program lives up to its title. It gives our future workforce the tools they need to succeed. The program goes beyond just teaching skills in the classroom by teaching individuals they can do anything they want and that there are no glass ceilings. Like the keynote speaker said, “Never let anyone tell you you can’t do something”. I would really recommend everyone attend at least one of these events at some point. It may give you a new perspective on life.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cheer up singles!

There is no holiday more controversial than Valentines Day. Some people love it, some people absolutely despise it.  The haters claim it's a commercialized Hallmark holiday that is more about making the single people of the world feel bad, than promoting love.  The people that love it see it as a chance to be closer with their signifigant other and celebrate their love for one another.  Most view it differently depending on their relationship status.

I say celebrate Valentines Day no matter what your  status is.  Why is it that suddenly everyone who isn't in a relationship is worse off? Look, relationships can be great and being in love is one of the best feelings a person can have. However, there is nothing wrong with being single. If you're single, why not celebrate the freedom you have and your independence? Sometimes being unattached is the best thing you can do for yourself to gain perspective.

Instead of moping around or throwing I hate Valentines Day status messages on your Facebook wall, go out with friends or chill out and watch a funny movie. Appreciate the fact that you can do whatever you want whenever you want.  Keep a positive outlook. Everyone is going to find someone eventually, it just happens at different times.

People are in such a rush to get everything done these days. There seems to be a timetable that we as a society feel we need to follow.  Relax, it will happen when it is supposed to. Until then enjoy the ride that is life. Remember your Valentine will come when you least expect it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

You Could be Right

A wise woman once told me the best way to handle an argument was to say, " You could be right."  I just wish I had taken that advice 20 years ago. I've always been an opinionated person, though I've gotten better as I've gotten older. Look, it's hard to be open minded, it really is.  We are constantly being influenced by everyone around us. Often times our families raise us to have certain beliefs, and if we don't step out of that comfort zone we believe that is what the whole world is like. Or rather should be like.  The fact is we don't like change. We like what we are used to and what we are brought up to believe. One of the hardest things to do is step out of that box and look at the other side.

Wouldn't it be great if we could all just get along? Look, I'm not saying everyone should agree on everything, because that is no fun.  But at least look at both sides of the story(that is a Phil Collins song by the way). To avoid any hot button topics I will take my view in music as an example. For all of high school I only listened to Tupac Shakur. I literally would rotate his CD's every week and truly believed it was normal to be like that. When anyone tried to argue that another rapper was better, like Biggie for example, I would get angry at them. Not a fake angry, it would truly really bother me.  I never stopped to think that you know what, I don't agree with that person but they could be right.

While I still think 2pac is the best music artist of all time, I at least listen to other arguments now. I've been able to step out of my comfort zone, and developed quite an eclectic, albeit old fashioned taste in music.  For that my life is better. What if we all could do that? What if Democrats and Republicans could stop bitching at each other and just agree that one another thinks differently and maybe there is no right answer.  What if different religions could understand each other's personal beliefs and accept one another.  What if Celtics fans didn't always automatically think negatively of  Lakers fans. Okay, maybe that is going a little too far.

The point is that the world would be a lot better if we all realized that everyone has their own opinions, and that in the end no one is really right or wrong. Remember that saying a person could be right also means a person could be wrong.  Hell, even if you know something for a fact is right, what is the use of going after someone and arguing for an hour about it? Is it really going to change that person's beliefs? I'll tell you this much, you could tell me till your blue in the face that 2pac isn't the greatest rapper ever and I'd never change my mind.

I really think people have good intentions. I know I never realize when I'm being narrow minded or judgemental until after the fact.  At the end of the day does it really matter? Does it really matter if you were right or wrong? Are you going to get some kind of trophy for winning an argument? Everyone should just chill and learn to accept one another's beliefs.  I will let you know when I start taking my own advice.

Been a long time since I wrote one of these. Thanks for reading everyone!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What NOT to do at an Office Party

This past holiday season many of you probably attended at least one office party. While these events are supposed to be fun filled occasions and a chance to build office camaraderie, they also are a prime opportunity to make a bad impression. The way people act away from the office is often very different than how they act in the office. On the positive side, it gives the employee a chance to feel more of a personal connection with their co-workers. On the other hand you can find out things about your co-workers you never really wanted to know.

First off, make sure to recognize that while this is indeed a party, it’s not a party like you would throw at your friend’s house. Treat it more like a meeting than a party. If you do this the following points below won’t matter and you can have a good time and keep your job.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is to drink too much. Look, even if your boss seems cool with it and is drinking themselves, it doesn’t mean you should take this as an opportunity to relive your college days. Even if most of the people at the party are friends of yours, and people you hang out with outside of the office frequently, it only takes rubbing one person the wrong way to create a bad reputation around the office.

In addition, watch what you wear, and when in doubt, play it safe. Obviously you can dress a little less conservatively than you would at work, but keep it simple. You want to be remembered for what you say and what you do, not what you look like. In short, stay classy.

Also, don’t only talk about work. Being at an office party, work will inevitably come up in conversation. However, try discussing holiday or vacation plans rather than the report due next week. It’s important for people to know that you are a well rounded person and have a life outside of work too. At the same time, don’t bring up any hot button issues, like religion, politics, Tiger Woods, etc. People are all going to have differing opinions and only bad things can happen. If this ever does come up just simply say “You could be right.”

Lastly, when in doubt just talk about the weather. This is the universal conversation starter and especially comes in handy when it is cold. Everyone seems to like talking about how much they hate cold weather, and it’s amazing how much time people can spend talking about it.

In conclusion, have fun at your office parties. But remember that you have to see these same people everyday and some of them sign your pay sheets. It’s important to have fun, but more important to stay professional. Thanks for reading everyone!