“When my wife and I moved to Florida for her career, I wasn’t sure how this older congregation would receive my spiky hair and outside-the-box personality, but they embraced me and encouraged my vision for the church and reaching out to young persons.”
I serve as the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Reddick, Fla. As the only staff of this small, rural church, I am responsible for preaching, worship, teaching, visionary leadership, pastoral care, evangelism and coordinating volunteers to help with our ministries. A regular week includes 30-60 hours of work. I spend most of that time researching and preparing for the Sunday morning worship service (including my sermon), attending to pastoral care needs and attending church events—such as committee meetings, fellowship gatherings and Bible studies. I spend the remainder of my time completing district and conference paperwork, preparing for weddings and funerals, managing conflict, preparing ordination paperwork and brainstorming/preparing for future events. I am blessed with great volunteers who I trust to prepare the youth and family activities and take care of the financial responsibilities, building management and marketing/evangelism needs. Even though I do not have a staff, these volunteers make my job much easier. Part of my job is to oversee their work, educate them on how to improve and continually celebrate the work they have done for the church.
How did you get there?
My senior year of high school, I delivered my first sermon at the youth Sunday service. This time (and every time I delivered a sermon after that), I received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the congregation. I knew that preaching was my gift, so I majored in Christian Education at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth to prepare to be a minister. I served as a youth minister at three different churches before becoming an associate pastor while I finished seminary at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. In The United Methodist Church, there is an ordination process to qualify each minister for a lifetime of service, and I am pursuing ordination as an elder in The United Methodist Church.
When my wife and I moved to Florida for her career, I wasn’t sure how this older congregation would receive my spiky hair and outside-the-box personality, but they embraced me and encouraged my vision for the church and reaching out to young persons. I have served in Reddick for 2 1/2 years now. In this time, the church has transformed from having an average of 15 during worship to 115. The church started with 5 youth and we now have more than 25. Before, the church was unable to pay bills without constant fundraisers and now we are self-sufficient and able to meet 100% of our conference apportionment payments. Now, funds raised help families in tough situations and help support the family, youth, and children’s ministries. We recently had 26 new members join the church in one Sunday. This is a testament to the excitement in our church, the motivation of the leadership and the joy that new, younger families bring to our congregation.
Why do you like it?
Tommy, Julya, and Luke Sims started attending our church when I first started my appointment in Reddick. I saw them every Sunday in worship, so I was surprised to learn that they were not attending church as a family at all before.
Tommy and Julya enjoyed my passionate and genuine sermons, and Tommy appreciated the fact that he could wear shorts to church. When Tommy’s lung cancer progressed, they asked me to pray for his upcoming operation. They informed me then that my sermons, leadership and attention to youth saved their family, their marriage and their faith.
Tommy died in September 2011 at the age of 42. At his funeral, I was touched to see he was wearing a wristband that says, “God is Big enough,” which I gave all of our church members during a sermon series I did on dealing with suffering. Julya told me he never took the wristband off. She said, “Russell, Tommy didn’t say much, but he definitely believed God is big enough.” There were more than 300 people at Tommy’s funeral, and we have many new church members today because the witness at Tommy’s memorial service touched them.
We had a mission trip in June 2012 where we helped local families with projects such as wheelchair ramps, yard work and home repairs. Julya and Luke both attended the mission trip to serve these families and do the hard, sweaty work in the middle of the hot Florida summer. Julya told me at the end of the week that this mission trip was the most transformative experience of her life and she felt that she could move on with her life after Tommy’s death. Twelve-year-old Luke broke down in tears one evening on the trip. He told me he knows he is going to be okay because his dad still lives within him.
I don’t just like my job; I love my job. To see the transformation of the Sims family in spite of tragedy is just one example of why I love what I do. There are countless stories of families and individuals who remind me of the eternal smile that a new life in Jesus Christ can bring. I continually have more confidence and passion to be a pastor in The United Methodist Church because of the inspirational transformations I am blessed to witness day after day.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grow up?
As a kid, I did not have much confidence. I felt like I was just mediocre at everything. I played “left out” on every sports team I was a part of, I didn’t excel in band and I wasn’t the brightest student. The only place where I felt special was in church. My youth group included my closest friends and nothing excited me more than to hear about how God can affect our lives. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I considered becoming a veterinarian or joining the military or working with computers, but I wanted a job that meant something to me.
After I delivered my first sermon, this was the first time I felt like someone special. This was the first time I felt like I could excel at something. I found the confidence to be someone through my church and my calling to be a pastor. I was the shyest, nerdiest kid growing up, but now every Sunday I stand up in front of my church and I know God gave me a gift. God made me to be awesome! I am humbled and blessed by the opportunity I have to serve as the senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Reddick, Fla.I believe God made everyone to be awesome! My ministry is to empower people to do the ministry they are called to do.
Russell would love to answer any questions you have about his life or your own on his profile. Read more about his story and ask him questions on his Sokanu Profile
I’m a scuba diving instructor affiliated with two international agencies; individual and group adventure planner and leader; underwater photographer and videographer. I teach through private lessons, dive shops and local colleges, and have the qualifications to teach the sport anywhere in the world I am welcome.
How did you get there?
For the first 30 years of my professional life, I worked in the trenches of retail jewelry sales and management. Became a watch repairman —even put myself through the Gemological Institute of America to broaden my technical skills and make myself more marketable within the more specialized areas of the industry.
Most folks would think of this as a dream career, and it was up until the final few years, when things got a bit tough in retailing and Corporate didn’t seem to realize that our customers couldn’t simply opt out of the recession just because they decreed it. Going in to work was less and less of an anticipation and became more and more of a burden to be endured.
Realizing I had reached a crossroads after examining where I projected things heading, I resigned my last position on 24 December 2007 and have not looked back since.
There was no way around it; it was time for a frank evaluation of where I was in life, what additional skills I had, and what I could do to make certain that I never had to grade or sell another diamond again just to make ends meet.
So I followed the well-worn path others have before me and started listing the things I had done, could be doing and most of all—interested me in doing. I was looking for something outside the ordinary and mainstream that allowed me to take advantage of skills I already could identify and develop.
I hit on the unlikely thought of becoming a professional in the scuba industry. Since I was already a certified diver, I started enrolling in classes that brought me greater knowledge and training, and so began to move up the ladder.
I also lucked into a position with a maker of Dive Computers that helped me hone my technical knowledge even further, as well as my people skills dealing with Domestic and International clientele. (Thank you Cochran Undersea.)
Why do you like it?
Even as unfocused as I was in those early days of escape from the Company grind, I had started building the foundation that today affords me the joy of showing others the wonders of a world that most on Earth never experience—the 2/3rds of our planet hidden underwater. Life is enriching and exciting again, full of challenges to be met and overcome. I go to work in swim trunks and sandals, get plenty of fresh air and sunshine plus meet a variety of enthusiastic people who come to my classes from all walks of life.
As time has gone by, I found additional ways to take that initial scuba interest to new heights as a professional in the industry and to satisfy my desire to travel to far-away places and document in photos and videos the things seen and experienced by adding another title—Adventure Leader—booking and taking divers (and non-divers as well!) on journeys to places that will give them the same thrills that I have over the years from Australia to the Caribbean and beyond.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Someone people could look up to. I think I finally made it!
John Lewis is a scuba instructor holding active membership with two international training organizations, teaching through dive shops and his local community college. An Adventure Travel Planner and Leader, you can engage his travel services through the website www.aqualifeadventures.com and get to know him personally through his website www.johnlewisscuba.com or LinkedIn . His next major Adventure will be leading a group of divers to the Republic of Fiji in November 2013.
I have come to believe that high stress, constant anxiety over tasks and work and life, social anxiety … is all a part of the modern way of life.
Most people just don’t feel a sense of peace, of calm, of serenity, throughout their day.
I have to admit that I’m the same way some of the time, but I have learned a few things that have helped me create a feeling of calmness much more of the time than ever before.
It’s a series of habits that have developed over the last few years. I’m not perfect at them, but I do practice them, and they are always helpful.
These are habits, not a one-time change in my surroundings or work pattern. Changing your environment is great, but you can’t control the things that happen to you much of the time, and you certainly can’t control how other people act. The only thing you can control is your response — and this response matters. You can respond to the same event with anxiety or anger, or you can respond with peace and calmness.
Let’s figure out how.
The Habits of Calmness
These are the habits to develop that will help you develop calmness (based on my experience):
A calm morning ritual. Many people rush through their mornings, starting the day out in a stressful rush. I wake up a little earlier (5 a.m. these days, though that changes), and start with a little meditation, then a few yoga poses. I then start writing, before I let the noise in. Exercise is another component of my morning routine. You don’t need to do the same things, but find the quiet of the morning and make the most of it.
Learn to watch your response. When something stressful happens, what is your response? Some people jump into action — though if the stressful situation is another person, sometimes action can be harmful. Others get angry, or overwhelmed. Still others start to feel sorry for themselves, and wish things were different. Why can’t other people behave better? Watch this response — it’s an important habit.
Don’t take things personally. Many times the response (that you noticed in Habit 2) is to take things personally. If someone does something we don’t like, often we tend to interpret this as a personal affront. Our kids don’t clean their rooms? They are defying us! Our spouse doesn’t show affection today? He/she must not care as much as he/she should! Someone acts rudely at work? How could they treat us this way?! Some people even think the universe is personally against them. But the truth is, it’s not personal — it’s the other person’s issue that they’re dealing with. They are doing the best they can. You can learn not to interpret events as a personal affront, and instead see it as some non-personal external event (like a leaf falling, a bird flying by) that you can either respond to without a stressful mindset, or not need to respond to at all.
Be grateful. Sure, lots of people talk about gratitude … but how often do we apply it to the events of our day? Things are crashing down at work, or our boss is angry, or our co-workers are rude, or our kids are misbehaving, or someone doesn’t love us as we’d like … do these cause anger/anxiety/unhappiness, or can we be grateful? Drop the complaints, and find a way to be grateful, no matter what. And then smile. This unbending habit can change your life.
Create stress coping habits. Many times, when we are faced with stress, we have unhealthy responses — anger, feeling overwhelmed and withdrawing, eating junk food, drinking alcohol or taking drugs, shopping or otherwise buying stuff, going to time-wasting sites, procrastinating, and so on. Instead, we need healthy ways to cope with stress, which will come inevitably. When you notice stress, watch how you cope with it, and then replace any unhealthy coping habits with healthier ones. Healthy stress coping habits include: drinking tea, exercise, yoga, meditation, massaging your own neck & shoulders, taking a walk, drinking some water, talking with someone you care about.
Single-task. I’ve written numerous times in the past about single-tasking vs. multitasking, but I think people multitask now more than ever. People text while on the train, while walking, while driving. They tweet and post to Facebook and Instagram, they email and read blogs and news, they watch videos while getting things done, they watch TV while eating, they plan their day while doing chores. This is a great way to cause a level of anxiety that runs through everything you do, because you’re always worried you should be doing more, doing something else. What if, instead, you just did one thing, and learned to trust that you shouldn’t be doing anything else? It takes practice: just eat. Just wash your bowl. Just walk. Just talk to someone. Just read one article or book, without switching. Just write. Just do your email, one at a time, until your inbox is empty. You’ll learn that there is peace in just doing one thing, and letting go of everything else.
Reduce noise. Our lives are filled with all kinds of noise — visual clutter, notifications, social media, news, all the things we need to read. And truthfully, none of it is necessary. Reduce all these things and more, and create some space, some quiet, in your life.
Visit Zen Habits for more amazing and inspirational posts from Leo
Love and Success: How Supporting your Partner Can Help your Career
By Jeremy Newcombe
Working Together For Success
Almost a year ago, I left a job that I found was making me unhappy. It wasn’t a bad job per se, but I found it unsatisfactory, exhausting, and requiring a disproportionate amount of my energy compared to how it made me feel and what I earned. I decided to go back to school to learn the skills I would need to do something I actually enjoyed and had passion for.
Now, my situation is possibly a little bit different than most. Many people would love to be able to step out of their job and learn to go do what they love, but there are unfortunately many roadblocks along the way. I can tell you, I don’t think I would have been able to do this without the help and support of my wonderful wife. We were married last October, but for the years we’ve been together she has always been extremely compassionate and helpful in helping me find what I want to do in life. This post is about how our support and care for each other makes it possible to do what we enjoy.
What We Do
My wife works a nine-to-five in for a good company in a field she truly enjoys. Seeing her get satisfaction out of going to work is something I’ve always admired about her—she knows what she wants to do, she’s taken the necessary steps and worked hard to get there. On top of that, she’s very good at what she does, which makes her work all the more appealing to her. Personally, I find it very encouraging to see someone who works so hard be rewarded in this way, and watching someone work at a job that they enjoy is incredibly uplifting.
Of course, like any job, hers has its challenges. So does my schooling, for that matter, no matter how much I enjoy and learn from it. There are always hard days at the office, or exams to prepare for, and sometimes even doing what you love can make you feel beat. But this is where it fits together so well—our support for each other makes it possible for us to pursue our goals. My wife helps me in ways I can’t begin to describe, and I do whatever I can to make her life even just a bit easier.
How We Do It
For instance, I go to school at night. That gives me the day to prepare our meals, so that when she gets home (albeit always after I’ve had to leave for class) she has food ready for her. Conversely, while I have the time to do the cooking, I have a significantly hampered income while I’m back at school, so she ends up paying most of our grocery bills. This takes monetary stress off of me and allows her to ease up on her already busy work schedule. This kind of symbiotic relationship is incredibly helpful, and allows us to both live a little better (and eat better, for that matter. I have a feeling that without working together we’d both be living on a diet of Kraft Dinner and frozen perogies).
Of course, she isn’t just a sugar momma. I really don’t want to give that impression! Her love and support is not tied to her (or my) financial situation. The point to be taken from that example is how our strengths can compliment the strengths of the other. We work together very well, which is, after all, the reason I fell in love and married her.
I know I’m very lucky. I’ve been very fortunate to have such a fantastic support network—of whom my wife is a key member—that have let me go back to school to study and leave a job I wasn’t happy in. Through the support we give each other we’ve been able to spur each other on to live better and happier lives. I hope that anyone reading this can find the same in their friends and loved ones.
I am a freelance editor and literary consultant with a background as a book author and scholar of history and publishing studies. Through my business, HelpingYouGetPublished.com, I assist emerging and mid-career authors with the development and publication of their books. My work for clients includes manuscript evaluation, editing, proofreading, book market research, proposal and query preparation, book trailer production, writing press releases, and creating other material for author media kits and websites. I am also writing a book that I believe will be a definitive guide to getting published and distinguish itself from the competition in this genre.
How did you get there?
I have long believed that even when you feel that you are on the wrong career path, the best strategy is to keep moving forward, because one thing leads to another in unpredictable and productive ways. My own career is an example.
I knew that I wanted to go to university and did indeed enrol immediately following high school. But I was about halfway through a degree in education, when I realized that this was not the best career direction for me. The problem was that I did not know what else to do and, in the end, decided that the wrong degree was better than no degree. A brief stint as a high school teacher later confirmed my belief that teaching English was not the right career for me.
In fact, I had always harboured secret ambitions to have a literary or academic career and now, because I had earned one degree, the opportunity was there. I returned to university and, after a few years, earned an MA and PhD. My time in graduate school pointed me in new directions and, while I studied, I found opportunities to write and publish articles and book reviews, and to gain experience editing both books and scholarly articles. Though I occasionally taught writing and publishing in university and adult education programs, I now set my sights mainly on a literary career. I researched the book market carefully, learned how to prepare and submit a manuscript in a professional way, managed to interest a New York agent, and got three books published by major houses in England, the US, and Canada. Through it all, I also did occasional contract book editing.
Meanwhile, the book trade was undergoing major changes, brought on in part by competition from other media, the popularization of the Internet, and the advent of print-on-demand book publishing. I decided that there was a niche for me and that I could help authors understand the business and marketing side, as well as the creative and stylistic aspects, of book writing. I went online with HelpingYouGetPublished.com in 1999 and never looked back. A lot has changed since then, and there are constant challenges in sustaining an online freelance career. I keep moving forward, however, and continue to see the Internet as an open frontier for pursuing innovative business and literary directions. One thing leads to another …
Why do you like it?
I enjoy freelance editing and consulting because of the variety of projects I can undertake, the range of interesting clients that I meet, the freedom to work on my own schedule, and the luxury of working at home instead of wasting time and energy commuting. Above all, I like editorial freelancing because it allows me to help get far more stories, ideas, and information out into the world than I could ever do on my own. As one who is an author and scholar, as well as an editor, I find this to be most gratifying.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was always a bookworm and, at about the age of nine, figured that I should be a novelist. I wrote a couple of chapters of a bad mystery novel, which I illustrated using pencil crayons and water colour paints. The characters had such improbable names as Algernon and Leticia, and luckily for both me and the profession of fiction writing, I soon abandoned both them and the novel. A couple of years later, for reasons that I cannot recall, I decided that it would be a good idea to get a PhD, even though I was vague about what this was and how to acquire it. Sometime in my teen years, I thought of becoming a book editor, because I had the notion that this would get me invited to some glamorous cocktail parties attended by handsome and wealthy men, possibly with names like Algernon.
Not surprisingly, my real career did not exactly follow the course I had mapped out in my childhood and adolescent fantasies. On the other hand, one thing did lead to another.
Everywhere people are grunting and hacking; gripping their chests and throats, glassey-eyed, slothing around town. And everyone else is trying to stay away. Is this the zombie apocalypse?
No, it’s flu season.
So far the sickness has taken down half of the team at Sokanu, including myself. Slowly, we are all recovering. And while there always seems to be an endless amount of emails, meetings, and work, when you are sick, there is only one thing on your list: go home.
1. Nobody Wants What You’ve Got
Let’s face it. You sound terrible. You look awful, and everyone can see it. You’re touching everything and germing up the place. It won’t do anyone any good to get sick from you. I’m sure you are awesome when you’re healthy. So head home, and go get awesome.
2. You’re Brain Wants a Break
Your body is shutting down and your brain is going down with it. When you feel sick, there are constant interruptions in your mind.
"My throat feels awful"….cough….sneeze…..cough….."have to blow my nose"…this hurts…."ok, focus"…COUGH. Your body needs time to heal, and with that, comes the third reason you need to go home:
3. You Know You Want That Nap
It just feels so good. If only for the sweet relief of your magma-burned throat and leaky nose, a nap is a quiet escape from the pain of your sickness. It gives your body the time it needs to fight the raging war in your body. And really, don’t we all really love sneaking in a nap during the day?
4. Your Job Wants You To
Pushing yourself to suffer through your sickness while working will only cause a kind of resentment that you don’t want associated with your job. A friend of mine told me, “Don’t be a hero. When you are sick, go home. That’s the best thing you can do for your job.” Come back when you are feeling alive again and do your work with energy and passion.
The great thing about a career in librarianship is the range of options for specialization. The major spheres of practice are public, special (corporate, law, medicine), school (K-12) and academic (post-secondary). For the bulk of my career I’ve worked in academic libraries. Within a college or university setting you can further specialize by function and discipline. Some academic librarians work at an information desk or do instruction, support the computer system, and others are involved with content management and yet others focus on rare books or archives. Many have subject expertise.
I’ve worked in many different academic library positions including reference librarian, instruction specialist and library director. My specialty was business research, and I worked at the University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School Library. I’m currently the Associate University Librarian for Research and Instruction at Temple University. As an academic administrator my work involves planning, policy making, developing new services, collaborating with other groups, and providing leadership for our public service operations. I still work a shift at the reference desk and do some instruction; those are skills I like to maintain and it brings me into contact with our students and faculty.
One of the great things about librarianship is that it’s being part of a professional community. There are many professional development opportunities. I’m active in the Association for College & Research Libraries; I currently serve as our president. Like many other academic librarians I’ve published in scholarly and trade journals. I’ve blogged for many years, and I write regular columns for one of our professional publications. You can get deeply involved in your work or you can keep it nine-to-five if that’s your preference.
Librarianship is a helping profession and it’s all about doing work that makes a difference in people’s lives, whether it’s giving them research guidance, helping them become literate, giving them access to the Internet and information, exposing them to great literature or their first storybook, enabling them to explore the past or discover the future. That’s what gives satisfaction to the people who enter this profession.
How did you get here?
Many librarians share a similar theme or story when it comes to answering this question. I’d categorize them as follows:
Love to read/Love books
Love being in libraries
Had relative who was a librarian
Loved my school/public librarian
Didn’t know what else to do with my [advanced] degree
Many librarians enter the profession as a second-career, often coming from fields such as K-12 education, nursing and book store sales. There is clearly something desirable about being around books, reading, serving people or the library environment that is attractive. None of these quite describes how I got here, which I did quite early – right out of undergraduate studies. Many librarians start after having pursued additional degrees or working other jobs. I did not grow up wanting to be a librarian. I knew I didn’t want to do what my father did (auto mechanic). Like many of my peers in the seventies I went to college with no specific plans. I drifted. In my junior year I chose a major that fit my talents – researching and writing and I thrived. When it came time to decide what to do after college, I focused on a graduate program that would prepare me for work in a museum or archive. Then I found out about the Drexel University library program in my own city. Once I looked in to the program, it was a revelation of sorts. You mean I could get paid to do research or help others with their research? I was sold. It was a great time to enter the profession, it being the dawn of electronic research. I’ve seen enormous change in my 35 years in the profession. Librarianship is not a career for those who fear or resist change. It’s the change, the new technologies, the need to adapt to new user expectations that creates the exciting challenges of our work. Librarianship is plagued by career stereotypes: all we do is read books all day – or put them back on shelves; we stamp cards with due dates; we answer simple questions such as “where are the books on psychology”; spinsters with their hair in a bun with a pencil through it, shushing people all day. You see these stereotypes played out in the media all the time. The truth is most laypeople have no idea about the complexity of our work – until they need help with a difficult research question or navigating the world of junk food information in seek of something they value.
Now I see a new generation of young people being attracted to the challenges of librarianship, and their desire to help people and make a difference for them. They like working with technology, and using it to create solutions to information problems. Most of all they are intellectually curious, and they want to keep this profession relevant, timely and useful to their community members. That’s why I’m here – and here to stay. Getting that first professional position can be a challenge though. It takes effort, but that’s true in many professions. I’m constantly amazed that I’ve been able to sustain a career, never being without a job in thirty-five years, being able to achieve vertical mobility by working in a variety of interesting settings and never having to leave a city I enjoy. Librarianship is the kind of profession where that can happen.
Why do you like it?
I’ve thought about that in the past, and I even wrote an article several years ago in which I tried lay out the primary reasons for my passion for academic librarianship. For me it is a combination of doing the type of work I really enjoy and find challenging, and being able to apply my skills to helping other people through education or direct application of my skill set. I really like the juxtaposition of working with cutting edge technologies and exploring bookshelves for new discoveries. I really like applying the latest learning technologies to educating students to be wise consumers of information. I really like knowing that what I do, the library systems I help build and sustain, help people achieve success. I can imagine that many non-librarians must think our jobs are really boring – what with all that sitting around reading books all day – but I can honestly say I go to work every day looking forward to it, and rarely ever find myself being bored just staring at the clock waiting for the day to end. I just can’t even imagine being in that situation.
It helps that I also enjoy working in the college and university environment. I refer to myself as being a student of higher education, and I earned my doctorate in higher education several years ago because of my passion for being around students and faculty. Thanks to my career in higher education, I’ve been able to take many courses, earn my doctorate (thanks to tuition remission), send my two children to college (thanks to tuition assistance), and been motivated by being around many interesting people and all the social, cultural and intellectual stimulation that accompanies being on a college campus. It also provides other benefits, such as access to a great workout facility and fitness classes.
I also enjoy having the opportunity to be professionally active. As I grew in my career I became less satisfied with the standard nine-to-five existence, and I committed to getting engaged in my profession by being active in associations, writing for publication and challenging myself to become a good presenter (I’ve now delivered over twenty keynote speeches for a variety of library organizations). These are the kinds of opportunities that librarianship offers, and you just need to be willing to take advantage of them – and take some risks in sharing your voice. It’s not a requirement for most librarians, perhaps excepting those who will find themselves on the tenure track at certain academic institutions. But for me it has always generated much greater enthusiasm for my work and for engaging with my colleagues. Librarianship is not for everyone, but it’s been a great career for me. I always encourage students who demonstrate a passion for research to look into the possibilities that it could be a great career for them as well.
Steven Bell is the Associate University Librarian at Temple University. You can find more information about him or his projects at http://stevenbell.info Growing up he really didn’t know what he wanted to be. But it turned out alright anyway.
After graduating from University, I moved back in with my parents, while looking for a full-time job in marketing and advertising, and teaching Pilates on the side. I had always excelled in school and whatever I chose to do, but the move from student to career person was a tough and challenging transition that left me depressed, confused, and lost. During this time, I ended up having an opportunity to travel to Egypt with a friend that worked in the Airline industry. On this trip, he advised me to apply for a job as a flight attendant. Even though I had grown up in a family with an aviation background; dad’s a corporate pilot, brother flies for a cargo company, and I had soloed a private plane when I was 16, I had always thought that I would HATE being a flight attendant. I wanted to do something different, make my own way.
Well, I took my friend’s advice, and applied to all of the airlines that I found to be hiring at the time. I really had no idea what I was getting into, and although I was nervous for my interview, I felt like I had nothing to lose, so I displayed the bubble and outgoingness that is a signature of my personality. And I got the job! I was lucky enough to be based in Southern California, close enough to family, but far enough to be independent. I’ve had the privilege of developing deep friendships with my colleagues, have a schedule that allows me to see many new places and meet incredible people all over the world, and been able to share that through a website that I started, chronicling the tales of a life as a flight attendant.
Why do you like it?
There are so many reasons that I love my job. I love working as a flight attendant because the schedule is always different. I have time to pursue interests outside of work, one being that I am IN LOVE with travel. I like that I am not at a desk, and that I get to meet new people every day. I even like the customer service part of flying, and the job has developed more patience, assertiveness, and communication skills within myself. I have matured as a person, and although I feel that working as a flight attendant is not my life long dream career, as I hope to pursue more in the area of volunteer work writing, and learning languages, I believe that somehow, the universe landed me right where I needed to be, now, and that’s when I didn’t even know that I would like to fly! Because, becoming a flight attendant has been the answer to my lostness, sometimes I promote it as the answer to everyone’s life direction solution, but it’s not for all. It was, and is, my answer to opening a life that is better than I once ever dreamed, and if anyone asks me, I still bubble in delight that I love my job and gush that “I just spent twenty days in Vietnam and Thailand.”
This job has made me dream on an entirely different scope, and I’ve been forever changed. Traveling to Haiti, Costa Rica, Istanbul, Slovenia, Portugal, Guatemala, Czech Republic, and the list could go on for paragraphs and paragraphs, in the time span of less than four years, will do that to you.
I have never been big on New Year’s Resolutions. As Renee mentioned in her recent post, resolutions are monthly, weekly, or even daily occurrences – I make them when I feel that I need to.
For the last five years, I have been a student, so twice a year I would find myself making a truckload of resolutions: January and September. My first year of university was a shock for me. I was still applying the work ethic I had in high school – that is, pretty much no work ethic at all – and when grades from my first semester rolled in, they were not up to my standards. I quickly set resolutions for the following semester. I would go to every 8AM class! I would do all of my readings before discussion! I would meet with my professors in office hours! Similar to many New Years Resolutions, my behaviour changed for a week before I went back to my old habits. Another set of grades came in April, and again I was unhappy.
I repeated this pattern for two years before deciding to take a year off to figure some things out. Looking back on it, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. I knew something wasn’t working, I knew I was unhappy, but still I found myself unable to make the necessary changes to fix it. I took my time off to ask myself a lot of questions. Was university the right choice for me?
Three months into my gap year, I had the answer: yes, it was, and I had been taking it for granted for two years. I found myself missing school constantly. I missed learning. I missed surrounding myself with smart people who disagreed with me. And instead of setting relatively superficial goals about my behaviour, I tried to get to the root of my problem and change my perspective. Why was I in school? What did I want to get from the experience?
When I went back to school after my year off, I began to approach my classes from a truly groundbreaking perspective: I was in school to learn! For two years, I had perceived school as the means to an end: a degree. Suddenly, school became the end in itself. I started seeing my readings as learning opportunities, instead of words to study and memorize. As soon as I started caring about the material, I started actually learning the material. I thought about it outside of class, I talked about it with my friends, I started connecting it with all of my other subjects. I didn’t need to set an arbitrary goal of speaking to my professors during office hours; I was so engaged with the material that it became a natural thing to do.
This ties in with the Triad of Change: that to fix a problem in your life, you need to make a change to your behavior, your perspective, or your structure. In changing one, the others should more easily follow. Semester after semester, I found myself unable to change my behavior. When I reflected on this, I realized this applied to almost every area of my life: my health, my relationships, my education. The only thing that has worked for me is to change my perspective on each of these areas, and my behavior and life structure followed quickly. I have friends who can snap their fingers and change their behavior: for them, it may be better for them to start by setting behavioral goals, such as creating a study schedule or meeting regularly with professors. Structural changes may include changing your school schedule entirely: taking fewer classes, or starting class later in the day. A lot of change comes from trial and error: but goals are meaningless if you abandon them, so start by making the changes you know are within your capacity.
These are the two attitudes that come up like clockwork every time a new year is celebrated. To me, there seems to be two camps of people that verbalize how they feel about the annual word “resolution.” Those who feel that the time has come back around when we can reflect on choices we’ve made and decide upon a new goal to reach, and those that feel that first of January is as significant a day to make a goal as April 13th, November 25th, or any pick of the 365 days we get in a year.
I recently read an article from zenhabits called "The New Rules of Fitness for 2013." We live most of our lives online; which means that much of the day is spent moving from app, to website, to text, to email. It’s fast, it’s now, and rarely a lengthy process.
Personally, I know that gearing up for a jog is not a habit that will stick with me in the long run (pun delightfully unintended). If you can exercise in a way that works in bursts, just like the way your day moves, that’s a more sustainable way to fit exercise into your life.
Let’s apply this way of goal setting to the everyday. It’s usually expected that New Years resolutions will be dropped.
Not surprisingly, the spikes in the google trends for “resolution” always peak in January.
For some people, it may be a habit to create a beautifully optimistic goal in the New Year only to be dropped by the time Valentine’s chocolates hit the shelves.
Make a goal right now. Just for the day. Hell, maybe even for the next minute. If you create a day full of goal-making, your habits will eventually begin to take over and you won’t know how to stop making goals.
Here are some ideas:
Strike up a conversation with a stranger Organize that junk drawer Floss Call that friend Make a To-Do List
Drink 2 glasses of water Make someone laugh Walk around somewhere new Complete this blog post you’ve started
Sprint to the bus/car Take the stairs over the elevator Help that person with all the bags Jump as high as you can to reach that thing hanging just out of your reach
(As you can see these are all spur-of-the-moment and completely situational)
Make you own lists. Surround your life in post-its (I love ‘em) and make every day the first day of your New Year.
Passion Profile: Holistic Health Practitioner & Aesthetician
What do you do?
I am am award-winning board certified holistic health practitioner and wellness educator. I work with clients individually and in groups in the Philadelphia area, and nationwide via telephone or video conferencing. I am also a holistic aesthetician and I make all-natural skincare products. I teach natural skin care classes in the Philadelphia area, hold free monthly webinars on various health and wellness topics, and write the popular blog www.holisticallyhaute.com. I also write for a well respected aesthetics trade journal, as well as other online publications, and speak at national aesthetics and health-related conferences.
How did you get there?
It’s been a long and winding road—I began my college education as a design major and ultimately graduated from Philadelphia University with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies with a minor in Humanities. I liked architecture, but I realized that my interest was more in the history and theory behind it rather than the actual design work. I had a sales background from working years of retail jobs through high school and college which helped me land my first job after graduation as an advertising sales rep for a healthcare publishing company.
I moved from sales into marketing and copywriting, and from then I moved more into editorial writing and editing. I continued my writing and editing work on a freelance basis for several years (and still continue) for one of the best known medical publishers in the world. I became a mom in 2004 and again in 2007 and continued to freelance while staying home with my kids. Skincare and makeup were always strong interests of mine (much of the retail sales I did was in the beauty industry), so I decided to go back to school for aesthetics. I realized I needed to set myself apart in the job market to try to find the perfect part-time job, so I used my writing and editorial skills and began writing www.holisticallyhaute.com. My focus within the realm of aesthetics leaned more towards the holistic and more natural approach.
Personally and professionally, I began to see the connection between a healthy diet and having great skin. I decided to go back to school again for nutrition, to enhance my education in this area and open more doors for my career. I started taking health coaching clients and quickly realized that the importance really lies more with overall health and wellness rather than just having healthy skin—but great skin is a bonus you get from taking care of yourself on the inside. I had no idea I’d be doing the work I do now because of it.
Why do you like it?
I love my work for SO many reasons. I help people improve their overall level of health which greatly improves their overall happiness and quality of life. I help people feel great about themselves. I empower people to take control of their own health and their own lives and become educated consumers. I spread the message about the importance of making healthier diet and lifestyle choices as well as choosing skincare products with safe ingredients. My work is incredibly rewarding and I feel that I make a difference in the lives of individual people, and help to broaden the minds of larger audiences with my writing and public speaking.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A model or a performing artist on a Broadway stage…maybe in my next life :)
Going into the new year, it might seem appropriate to talk about the old clichés—your resolutions, new fitness plans, giving up smoking or some similarly bad habit—but that seemed a little, well, cliché. Resolutions can be all well and good, if you go about them realistically, but in all likelihood you’ve probably already been resolutioned close to death by this point. Instead, I thought I’d do some pondering on life transitions, and how to make changes in your life successfully (which is a similar train of thought, but different).
Now, just because a brand new year is just around the corner does not mean your life has to go through some great upheaval. That’s one of the classic pitfalls of resolutions, after all; starting a new calendar page doesn’t necessarily indicate that anything will be any different. That being said, many of us want things to be different, and we often use the New Year as a launching point for our planned life alterations. Maybe you’d like to make changes in your lifestyle, work on some problems you’ve been having, change your outlook on life, or maybe find your dream job (that is why you’re here after all, isn’t it?). Of course, I would encourage you to pursue these things year-round and not just in January, but if you are planning on making some modifications to your life, here are a few useful things I’ve learned about lifestyle transitions.
How to Transition
William Bridges is a transitional guru. Google him, you’ll see. One of the most important things I picked up from his writing was the difference between (how he defines) change and transition. Now, I’m not stuck on semantics, but as he puts it, change is fast and transition is slow. Change is situational, whereas transition is something that runs much deeper. Again, sticking with his definition, I’d feel that most of us would be looking to make meaningful transitions rather than quick-fix changes. I could promise myself to spend 30 minutes a day on a treadmill and change my lifestyle starting tomorrow, but to actually transition into a healthy lifestyle (which would be my ultimate goal) I’d have to see that change take effect over a long period of time and implement other changes in my life to complement it. Slowly, my body would adapt. Eventually I’d stop craving sugar as much I do, start stocking my fridge with healthier options, have more energy (which would make running on the treadmill easier), and generally live better. Of course that makes it sound easy. Anyone who’s tried to transition into a healthy lifestyle knows it isn’t.
Bridges describes first of the three stages of transition as “Ending” (loosing, letting go), wherein, as you’d imagine, you have to let go of what you’ve been hanging on to. This is difficult, unpleasant, and often painful. You then enter the “Neutral Zone,” which he describes as a period of confusion and distress (which, going back to my analogy, is exactly how I feel whenever I do physical exercise). The advice that follows during this period is to paradoxically go against your natural instincts. He says to go with the flow and stop fighting the change. Let it come to fruition. Ride out the discomfort. The rewards are sure to follow. That doesn’t mean to stop caring about what’s going on, but rather that at times we can be our own worst enemies, fighting against progress.
I think this is pertinent advice to anyone undergoing transition in their own life, be it now or any time of year. Relax. Embrace the transitions you want to happen. Don’t make things harder than they need to be. Don’t just look for quick changes either, but allow things to happen slowly. Be patient with yourself.
Whatever you find yourself doing in the days and months to come, I wish you the best of luck and a very happy new year.