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Image Credits: Rhythm Agency

Hey guys! Happy New Years Eve! It’s about that time of year again where I look back at the past year and reflect on some of the greatest moments of the year. I came into 2016 pretty broken. I was in the midst of dealing with a difficult breakup, I was stuck in a job that I could no longer stand, and I was about as miserable as could be.

2016 was by no means a perfect year. I’ve been battling a terrible illness for the past couple of months and was recently diagnosed with bronchitis. My beloved cat and friend, Gizmo also passed away at the ripe old approximate age of 21.

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Rest in Peace…Gizmo

But overall, despite how many people claim that 2016 was their “worst year ever”, 2016 ended up being pretty good for me. Here 6 of my best moments from 2016.

  1. FINALLY going to NYC…(Twice, actually).

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I have been obsessed with NYC ever since I was a little kid. I swear, I must have been born a city slicker. However, up until 2016 I’ve never actually been to NYC, my loved was based solely on what I read about it o seen on TV or in movies.

I had plans in the past to go. I was supposed to go to see the Statue of Liberty for a field trip in 7th grade, but when the terrorists attacked the twin towers on 9/11/2001 when I was in 6th grade, so naturally that field trip was cancelled.

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I was also going to go on September 11, 2013 for a job interview I had with the Christian Post. However, at the time I wasn’t exactly in the same place as I am today with my faith. I was on the fence about the job and unsure about it being in NYC which was pretty far from where I lived. I received another job offer to work at a local SEO agency the day before my scheduled interview, so I decided to accept that job offer instead.

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Fast forward to 2.5 years later and my magical job suddenly wasn’t so magical. I was unhappy and more than ready to move on.

I applied to more than 100 jobs, some of which were in NYC. When I got a call back to interview for an Assistant Digital Producer job at Scholastic I was stoked. Working for Scholastic seemed like a dream to me. I grew up reading every scholastic book imaginable and was obsessed with the book fairs. This love and obsession carried on to me even in my adult life.

The interview was pretty much a disaster. The recruiter was super nice and that preliminary screening went well, but when I met with the person who I guess would’ve been my boss it all went down hill. I thought a digital producer was basically the same thing as a content coordinator but I quickly found out I was completely wrong.

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I still don’t know what an Assistant Digital Producer does at Scholastic, but I know it’s definitely not blogging, social media, or content marketing…

But I had a great time in NYC anyway. Just being able to see the office was amazing and NYC was everything I thought it would be. I definitely still want to move there.

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I loved my first trip to NYC so much that I decided to come back there to celebrate my 26th birthday. I went to eat lunch at Black Tap NYC. This restaurant was all the rage at the time thanks to their famous milkshakes. The restaurant was actually really disappointing and the staff was horrible, but the rest of the trip was great. I was really just in complete awe of the city. I enjoyed going to the M&M Factory and Bubba Gump and exploring Times Square. I can’t wait to get back there again.

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2. Seeing Good Charlotte…Twice.

For those of you who don’t know, Good Charlotte is by  far my favorite band. I saw them perform for the first time in 100+ degree weather outside on Father’s Day at Festival Pier in Penn’s Landing back in 2010. Since then I’ve seen them Cherry Hill, at the TLA multiple times, and most recently at the Fillmore. I’ve seen them a total of 5 or 6 times, two of which were in 2016.

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Seeing them in 2016 was especially special for me because it was the first time I could REALLY hear them. They sounded just as amazing as I remembered. I liked that I could hear everything they said when they were just talking, too. Before receiving my cochlear implants in 2014 and 2015 I would miss out a lot on their talks to the crowd and teasing each other. The Madden twins have such a great sense of humor that really comes out when they play shows together. It was great to finally get to hear it in these shows.

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Both of the shows were amazing. The TLA will probably always be my favorite venue, but the Fillmore was pretty awesome, too. I like the atmosphere of the TLA better and have a lot of great memories at the TLA, but I think the sound quality at the Fillmore was better. While both shows were incredible I’ll have to say the one I saw in November at the Fillmore was probably their best show ever. It was the perfect blend of old and new songs and so very nostalgic. It was like my childhood come to life in musical form.

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I can’t wait to see them again. For those of you who really, really, really love me they will be performing/traveling with this amazing warped tour/emo/punk cruise ship package thing in October. If you buy it for me I promise to love you for forever…just saying…

3. Working at Becker’s School Supplies

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Image Credits: Becker’s School Supplies on Facebook

This one probably comes as a surprise for most of you guys.. My job at Becker’s didn’t really work out. I actually didn’t get this job originally. It’s kind of a funny story. I found the open SEO Marketer position accidentally on Monster.com, a website I rarely ever used during my job search (I was pretty loyal/exclusive to LinkedIn). I applied and got an interview pretty quickly and thought I had nailed it. I couldn’t have asked for a better interview. I got along with everyone  so well. Being obsessed with school supplies and wearing paperclip earrings to my interview also helped a lot haha.

Imagine my devastation when I received a phone call while at work on April Fool’s Day of all days. I couldn’t believe it.

But the story didn’t end there. I got another call from them about a week later. Apparently things didn’t work out with the first person they hired, so I was next in line. Eager to get our of the miserable job I was currently stuck in, I quickly accepted.

Becker’s wasn’t a bad job at all. It was actually almost anything you could ask for in a job. It was pretty much the complete opposite from my current job which was a plus. It was a family owned business that benefitted the education system in a positive way. I was honestly just excited to get out of the agency life. I also liked that it was a small family-owned business that was around for many years. But my favorite parts? Everyone was sooooooooo nice and professional and there was none of the typical office drama or politics.

I got along great with everyone and was well-liked. It was refreshing to see and work with various members of the Becker family each day. They owned the company and were at the top of the tier, but they never made you feel like you were below them. Everyone was all part of the same team. They valued and respected all of their employees. I’ll never forget how the first thing Kurt Becker, the company’s treasurer, asked me was what I thought about the website and what I’d fix. I was an employee at that time for less than a week and he still valued my opinion and expertise enough to want to know my ideas for change.

As great as Becker’s was though, it wasn’t right for me. I spent years working in SEO in the past, but it was much different. I learned that when it comes to SEO, I’m all about creating content such as blogs and other website content that is optimized for SEO. I’m not much for Google Analytics (although I’m learning!) or any of the data/analytical side of things which this position dealt a lot with. Also, while I loved school supplies my love for school supplies didn’t quite match up with the products the company sold. I thought this was a company that sold a bunch of notebooks and pens, but it was really all early childhood education supplies like furniture for childcare centers.

I used to love product meetings where vendors will show us their stuff and try to persuade us to purchase it, mainly because I’m a child and I love to play with fake sand and dinosaurs and legos and read picture books, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around early education. I never went to pre-school, let alone daycare as a kid. It was a whole new field for me.

When I accepted the job with Becker’s I still had a lot of other job applications out and was negotiating with Penn Medicine. I wasn’t sure what would happen with that opportunity. It sounded good, but I have also been negotiating for several months and nothing was happening and I really needed a new job. I was also looking into grad school and applying for the TEP program. My future was so unclear. Everything was a risk.

I have absolutely no regrets about Becker’s. I learned so much about my career interests, job preferences, and how to turn down a job that isn’t working for you. I left them with the best gift I had to give: I referred them to a former co-worker who I saw as an expert in SEO that I knew was interested in the position. She could do for them everything they needed and wanted in terms of SEO that I didn’t know how to do. They hired her almost immediately. The rest is history.

4.Working at Penn Medicine

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Image Credits: Henrietta Hudson 

While it was quite the long process, I did end up getting hired by Penn Medicine in 2016. I initially turned down the position to work at Becker’s, but they begged me to reconsider. Isn’t it funny how things work out? I applied in January and was finally hired in June.

I honestly wasn’t sure about Penn when I first applied. I previously did an internship with Slack Medical journals and really, really, really hated it. It was so boring and technical and confusing. I was afraid Penn would be the same, yet for some reason this felt really different. I almost backed out of this interview several times because of other interviews I had (first with Scholastic and then with Bernie Robbins jewelers). I am so glad that my mom and some of my friends and former colleagues pushed me to go and keep pursuing this opportunity, even when it seemed hopeless.

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Working at Penn has been a blessing to me in so, so, so many ways. First off, I really love the location. Like I stated previously, I’m a city slicker. We’re located right in University City. It’s a safe part of Philly and there’s so much stuff going on! We’re within walking distance of many restaurants which makes lunch time fun, especially if we have a new member to our team. I recently tried an Indian buffet with my co-workers and in the summer we’d frequently meet up for green smoothies from the fruit lady’s food truck or frozen yogurt from Kiwi yogurt.

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The content team at the #LoveFest Pep Rally

Secondly, I love my job itself. I get to do my two favorite things: write a lot and work on social media. I also get to teach my co-workers what I learn, specifically with our new social media content management system, Sprinklr. I’m never bored. I learn constantly and am always challenged. I didn’t know much about medical conditions initially, but have since learned so many incredible things. I’m in awe by Dr. Carl June’s work with immunotherapy and cancer. All of the neurological conditions constantly blow my mind (did you know there’s a procedure where they turn off and test different parts of the brain to see what if anything will be lost if they cut away part of it?). It’s fascinating stuff!

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My co-workers are also the best. They are so talented, kind, and hard-working. It’s also a very professional atmosphere free of office drama and politics. While everyone is always working really hard, we also have fun together with team building exercises such as monthly full staff meetings, our pep rally, and our Christmas bowling party. We are also starting a professional development book club which should be fun.

5. Becoming an Adjunct Professor AND a Grad School Student at Rowan University

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Image Credits: Rowan

Of all of the possible things that could’ve happened this year, I never imagined I’d become a college professor, but that is exactly what happened.

I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school to earn my MA in Writing for years. I didn’t want to get my MA originally. I was tired and burnt out after earning to BA’s and I didn’t think an MA was all that important to be honest. But after receiving bilateral cochlear implants I wrote a book and now I want so additional help to finish writing/revising it and publish it.

Still, I wasn’t sure how this would work. I didn’t know at the time that Penn has an amazing benefits package that would cover the cost of my tuition. I just knew that financial aid wasn’t an option with grad school, so I was on my own and grad school doesn’t come cheap.

When Professor Block emailed me about grad school and mentioned the TEP program which allows students to teach while earning their MA and pays for at least part of their tuition costs, I saw it as a sign that I was meant to go to grad school and apply.

I wasn’t totally sure what to expect. I knew I like teaching, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I ultimately did. I didn’t expect to get so attached to my students. I think teaching is one of the best things to ever happen to me, honestly. I love it so much. I love feeling like I’m making a difference and seeing my students improve as writers.

Grad school’s not bad, either. Some of the writing projects for Core were fun. It’s not the most interesting year for me though. I feel like I have a lot of pre-reqs which can be a little dry to take now to get to the good stuff like writing the memoir and non-fiction writing. But still I’ve really loved just being back in school again. I love the challenge of it all. I love learning.

It hasn’t been easy. Juggling a full time job in the city, teaching three times a week, and taking 2 graduate level courses a semester is no joke. But I love the thrill of the challenge and being constantly under pressure. I feel like I am constantly working towards a goal and I feel I’ve been fairly successful so far.

6. Going to Washington DC

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DC is another place I had plans to go to multiple times, but never actually went to until this year. I was first going to go on a field trip in 7th grade, but alas the terrorist attack on the Pentagon on 9/11/2001 when I was in 6th grade caused the trip to get cancelled. Then in 2014 or whenever it was I was going to meet Casey there and get back together with him, but in a really bizarre turn of events he cancelled our plans and ran off and got engaged and married to some other girl…but that’s another story…

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Every year Rowan picks a book to have the University read together as a whole. This year the book was Americanah! by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I don’t know what the book was about because I didn’t actually read it lol. Anyway though, the book inspired the University to take a free trip to DC that was open to all students and faculty and since I’ve always wanted to go to DC anyway, I jumped at the opportunity to go.

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I was nervous about the trip at first since I didn’t know anyone who was going. Who would I hang out with so I wouldn’t get lost? Should I go as a student or a faculty member since I was actually both? I hung out with faculty originally until I met a faculty member’s son who was a current senior at Rowan and closest in age to me. We hung out for the rest of the trip and became fast friends and had a blast.

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We went to the museum of African history, an African art museum, and one of the Smithsonians, though we didn’t have much time at the Smithsonian. It was a really cool trip. I’m a museum and art nerd so I love looking at and learning about this stuff. The only down side was that the main African history museum was realllllllllllllly crowded and you could hardly move.

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We also ate at a soul food restaurant. I don’t eat soul food much, if ever, so it was a different experience for me. I had these oysters cooked in some kind of a hot sauce that were really good.

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It was a really nice trip especially since it helped me to get out of my comfort zone. I am glad that I did end up befriending someone despite not knowing anyone and that I took the risk to go to a new place with no one I knew. I’d definitely do something like this again in the future and I hope that in 2017 Rowan provides me with more opportunities to do so!

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7. Going to Kentucky.

My trip to Kentucky was incredible and perhaps the highlight of 2016.

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My mom and I went with Gloucester County Community Church (GCCC). I’ve been following the making of the Ark from day 1 a few years back and when I heard it opened in the summer I couldn’t wait to go. We previously looked into driving down for my mom’s birthday in August, but it was too expensive. However, going with the church would save us money and we’d take a bus with everyone so transportation wouldn’t be an issue.

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Our trip lasted 3 days and consisted with a few hours at the Creation Museum followed by almost a full day at the Ark.

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The Creation Museum was okay. Not quite as good as I was expecting, but still pretty cool. I really loved the dinosaurs. I always liked dinosaurs ever since I was a kid. About a year ago I realized that the bible never mentions the word “dinosaur” so I started to ponder why. I turned to Answers in Genesis and they explained how dinosaurs did exist and were referred to using different words. To see and learn more about this at the museum was neat. Most of the dinosaurs weren’t as big as made out to be and the dinosaurs used to only eat plants as did all animals which the bible clearly states, but few people realize. It was very informative.

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Noah’s Ark was amazing. You don’t realize how big it is until you see if for yourself. It was also incredible biblically accurate. They had all of the animals that they had back then and the cages and everything so well done. I enjoyed learning about Noah and his family and the work that they did on the Ark as well. It made me thirsty to learn more.

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Overall, 2016 was an incredible year. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for me!

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Image Credits: Happy Thanksgiving Day Images

Hey guys, Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m not really feeling the holiday spirit this year – at all. My family and I considered scaling back or even postponing Thanksgiving this year and I am already sick to death of Christmas.

I’ve had a rough week. I went on a trip to Kentucky to see the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. It was a fantastic trip and I learned so much about the book of Genesis, God’s creation, and Noah’s Ark. You wouldn’t believe how big the ark really is – you need to see it for yourself. Kenn Hamm should be very proud of his creation on the Ark Encounter because it was extremely accurate and stunning!

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However, I went on the trip a little bit sick and came back extremely sick. My mom was also sick and diagnosed with bronchitis and sinusitis or something. Dad got the flu. Our poor cat, Gizmo also got very sick and sadly could not fight off the infection. He died on Sunday morning.

Losing Giz has been extremely hard on everyone. He was so much more than just a cat to us – he was family. He was more loyal, loving, kind, and compassionate than most people we know including our blood family. He would always greet you at the door, eat dinner with you, and comfort you when you were upset. He was my dad’s best friend and my dad would talk to Giz and spend all of his time caring for Giz when Mom and I were at work or school. My dad has been completely heartbroken and devastated by the lost of his best friend.

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I know that it was Gizmo’s time to go. He was 21 years old and we could tell he wasn’t feeling well and on Saturday night, was really suffering. We chose to have him buried in a pet cemetery where he will get his own headstone and everything. I know it sounds crazy, but he deserves it. His burial will take place on Saturday. I don’t think my family and I will ever be ready to let go of him though.

So, with all of this we’re not exactly in the mood for Thanksgiving or any of the holidays this year. It’s sad and not the same. It’s hard because we think of the times we’ve spent with my grandparents. How my grandfather would accidentally insult my mom’s cooking and it was so funny you couldn’t be mad at it. We remember the crazy Thanksgiving song my Mom’s mom invented and how mad it made her husband, my mom’s dad. We remember making special dinners for Giz and how we’d torment him with the turkey before we cooked it. We remember years ago when my sister was a part of the family and the holiday. We remember how these people are no longer a part of our lives, and we miss them and the way things used to be. This makes the holidays hard. Plus, while we’re feeling better than we have, none of us are 100% yet, which just makes it harder.

I know a lot of people would criticize me and say that this isn’t very “Christian” of me. I’m a Christian, but I’m not perfect. I need God in my life to give me a source of hope when I feel hopeless. When I’m too far invested in the world (like I have been lately) and not invested enough in God, I have trouble feeling hope. That’s why I want to spend a large portion of my time today invested in reading scripture, so I can feel that sense of hope again.

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Image Credits: Bible Verse Images 

There is always something in life to be thankful for, even if you don’t always feel or see it though. Here is what I’m thankful for this year.

1. My Amazing Family.

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My family is small – just my parents and I – but it’s been amazing. My parents are my biggest fans and supporters. They want nothing more than to see me succeed and reach for the moon. They yell at me when they think I’m not reaching high enough or when I’m “settling” for something less than the best. They always drive me everywhere I need to go since I don’t have a driver’s license and they do it without complaint. My dad has over the years even driven me all the way through State College for a job interview that went horrifically bad and my mom has taken me to NYC on the subway she knew nothing about for another job interview gone bad. My parents are the best and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

2. My Job at Penn Medicine.

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This was an incredibly hard job to get. My interview process started in January and I didn’t actually get hired until June. I am thankful that Penn has worked with me and did everything they could to offer me a job, even when I took a different job instead initially. I know I have a strange schedule due to school, so I am incredibly thankful for Penn for working around my schedule by offering me reduced hours and the ability to work from home. I am thankful for my amazing co-workers who teach me everything and exert extreme patience, kindness, and understanding towards me. Penn has been such a great company to work for and I am so blessed to have the opportunity to work for them.

3. Rowan University.

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Image Credits: AliveCampus.com 

As a student, I don’t always agree with some of the changes or decisions the school makes, but I still really love this school and am so thankful for all of the doors it has opened to me. I am thankful to have the opportunity to earn my MA in Writing and to hopefully become one step closer to finishing and publishing my book, God Granted Me Hearing. I am thankful to have the opportunity to teach freshman college students through the Teaching Experience (TEP) program, something I never imagined I’d have the opportunity to do. I am incredibly thankful for Dr. Courtney and the current and former TEP instructors for all of the help, assistance, lesson-plan sharing, ideas, and advice they have given me. I’d be lost without all of you guys – you’re the best. I’m thankful for my students who while they drive me crazy at times, also know how to make me smile and show me why teaching is so awesome.

4. My Amazing Church Family. 

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Image Credits: Washington Baptist Church

I saw a picture posted on Facebook the other day that said “Church isn’t just a place, it’s a family”. As someone who’s been church-hopping for many years, I can truly say it’s hard to find a church that feels like a family. I found that with Washington Baptist Church. Pastor Lex and all of the members of the congregation are absolutely amazing people. They really take the time to get to know one another, to lift them up, and to pray for each other. You’re never just a nameless face at WBC.

Even when I left WBC for a few months to try out another church, as soon as I came back I was welcomed with open arms. Even when I went each week to another church I couldn’t forget about WBC – I missed them because they were my family. I never felt that kind of connection at any other church before. This church has taught me SO much and helped to bring me closer in my walk with God.

5. My Cochlear Implants.

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This is the first time in 2 years that I’m not recovering from surgery around the holidays. I just celebrated 2 years with my first cochlear implant on my left ear and on Wednesday I will be at 1 year on my right ear. It still never ceases to amaze me how well I can hear. Even though my right one hasn’t been working right the last few days (I’m probably going to have to send it out to AB for repairs), I can still hear so well, better than most people I know now. I’m always in awe when I can watch YouTube videos (or my latest obsession – TED talks) without caption. Certain sounds are still new to me – hearing trains go by still scare me because I forget what it is that I’m hearing. Every time I’m feeling down and depressed and having an “I hate my life, why me?” kind of moment I remember how much God has blessed me with this incredible gift. I’m so thankful for Dr. Willcox and the amazing team at Jefferson for helping to make this miracle happen for me.

 

What are you guys thankful for this year?


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Image Credits: Pretty-Random-Things.com

Hey guys! Since I finished the 30-Day Writing Challenge yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to write this follow up post detailing 5 key things I learned from doing the challenge. This was my first writing challenge (unless you count NaNoWriMo) and I learned A LOT. Overall, it was a positive experience, with a few drawbacks mixed in. Here are 5 things I learned.

1. Writing takes time. This seems like a give in, but I really learned just how much time writing takes after doing the 30 day writing challenge. If I got done a post in a half hour or less it was extremely rare. Most posts took me over an hour to write…some took more than a couple hours to write. When I got to day 2 which was to “Write about your first love or your first kiss, if separate, do both” I ended up writing 2 separate posts on 2 different days. Each of those posts took me a couple of hours to write, especially the one about my first love where I detailed my dysfunctional, unhealthy long-distance relationship.

2. It’s OK to break the rules. The 30 day writing challenge was supposed to end in May, but I didn’t finish it until July. I think it was more than okay to break the rules because I was still really committed to writing as much as I could. Some times I took off of the challenge so I could write about other topics like the Social Media Philadelphia Day or book reviews. Other topics got spread upon multiple days as mentioned above. One day, day 23, I completely refused to write about the topic because I didn’t like it. As long as you write and are consistent, does it matter if you follow the rules?

3. Writing is therapeutic. Some of these topics were very difficult and uncomfortable for me to write about, especially day 26 when I had to write what I’d say to my ex. I ended my longest relationship ever less than a year ago and the wounds still are a bit fresh. When we broke up, I hung up on him and that was it.We haven’t talked since then, so there was definitely many words left unsaid and not much, if any, closure. While I really dreaded writing on day 26, I was so glad I did it at the end of it. This post took me days to write and I really poured my heart out in the post. I probably said a bit more than I should have in that post, but I really needed it. It was my way to get all of those emotions and feelings out that have been bundled up inside of me for many months. Writing that all out was so therapeutic to me. I’m glad I did it.

4. 30-day writing challenges are great for generating content…I blogged so much over the last 2 months. Once I had the topics, the content just flowed through me. I began to think of how my own personal stories and experiences could work into characters for stories.The 30 day writing challenge was awesome for coming up with ideas and for churning out content for my blog.

5. But they are terrible when you already have a novel in the editing stage. The biggest drawback of doing the 30 day writing challenge was that it involved so much of my time that it took away from the project I was already working on – my novel – which was much more important. I was almost finished editing my 2nd draft before taking on this challenge. Now it’s been nearly 2 months and I haven’t touched it and I’m not entirely sure where I was when I left off. Next time I’ll have to make sure to do a writing challenge when I don’t already have a lot going on in my life.

Have any of you guys ever participated in a 30-day writing challenge? What was your experience like?


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Image Credits: Slice Communications 

Hey guys! Happy Independence Day weekend! For those of you who are not from the US, well, happy weekend. :).

Today I am going to take a short break from the 30 day writing challenge to write about Social Media Day Philadelphia. I attended this convention held at the Franklin Institute on Thursday, June 30th with 3 of my co-workers from Penn Medicine. All of them work as web content coordinators while I work as as a Web./Social Media Monitoring Specialist. Together, we work on creating engaging and informative content for the Penn Medicine website, newsletters, social media pages, and more.

This is actually the first social media convention I’ve ever been to, so it’s safe to say I was pretty pumped about having the opportunity to attend. I made a few rookie mistakes including being one of the most over-dressed people there (at least I was dressed to impress, right?), not bringing my laptop (it wouldn’t have helped much as it needs a new battery though), and not having an extra power bank or means of charging my phone on-hand (I live tweeted a majority of the convention, so it didn’t take long for my battery to shoot down to 0%. Despite these rookie mistakes, I still had a really good time and learned a lot. I think my first social media convention was definitely a success.

Here’s a breakdown of my day:

9:00am: Slice Communications gave a welcoming speech. This was a great way to kick things off. I always loved Slice Communications ever since my former coworker and friend introduced me to them about a year ago. They are doing so many great things in the world of digital marketing. They were great hosts for the event. Cassandra Bailey, President and CEO, has so much energy and is so well organized for the event. I really love her bright yellow dress, too. I don’t even like the color yellow, but it fits her bright personality and shows that she is from Slice (Slice’s logo is yellow) which I think is great.

9:10am: Erin Dress, Brand Marketing Specialist and CPG at Twitter delivers opening keynote. I was so excited to hear Erin Dress speak, mainly because she is from Twitter. I definitely agreed with her points on how Twitter is where people go to gain information and that it’s one of the most trustworthy social networks (I think LinkedIn is more so though, but Twitter is broader).The facts about Twitter’s advertising vs. Facebook’s intrigued me. I never realized that Facebook targets users based on demographics while Twitter targets more specific interests. In general, Twitter’s advertising options are more focused. Perhaps this is why the CPC is generally much higher for Twitter ads than they are for Facebook ads. I also agreed that your brand’s message needs to be personalized. The example of using emojis and how Dove created one with curly hair was amazing. I always liked emojis,but I realize they can be tricky to incorporate into marketing. The idea of creating a whole new emoji strictly for your brand is brilliant.

10:00am: Break. During this first break I spotted Nick Walz! Nick and I worked together for a few years at WebiMax. He left in March of 2015 while I left in April of 2016. We talk to each other on a semi-frequent basis, but we haven’t actually seen each other since his last day at WebiMax. It was so nice to see him and catch up on everything. Nick is pretty awesome and a bit of a social media guru. He taught me pretty much everything I know about social media. I really enjoyed working with him in the past and being mentored by him and I’m sure he’s doing great things as a media strategist for Harmelin Media now. Remember his name, Philly.

10:10am: My co-workers and I decided to attend the Healthcare Digital Darwinism panel since we all work in Healthcare (obvious choice). This panel made me feel really good about myself and the business I represent because I felt we were doing many things right. Many of the speakers stressed the importance of responding to messages on Facebook and other platforms, especially if they were negative, within 20 minutes or less and to have a social media emergency response plan in effect. We do have an emergency response ready to go when needed and always answer ASAP. I liked how some of the speakers mentioned using Facebook messenger to talk directly with users/patients. I know a lot of brands shy away from that direct interaction, but I think in the healthcare industry, it’s really important. I enjoyed this panel overall. My only criticisms are that a lot of the points made were things I already knew and not all of the speakers worked much with social media, which considering it’s social media day, was weird to me.

10:50AM: Break. My co-workers knew some of the speakers and wanted to catch up with them after the panel.I think it was Daniel Moise, Social Media Strategist at Virtua Health, that we spoke to. He seemed very smart and friendly.

10:55am: CMO Roundtable. Choosing to attend this panel was not an easy decision. We were torn between this and the other option, Social is the New Digital Currency, but in the end my coworkers and I decided to go with the CMO Roundtable since we don’t have a CMO (it became a little bit of an inside joke for us). Plus, we were already in the room that this chat was being held at and after spending our whole break talking with the speakers from the healthcare panel, we were cutting it close on time. The CMO Roundtable was actually pretty good. The CMOs expressed the importance of using Facebook to show a fun side of their brand and the importance of being authentic on social media. I loved how they said that if something isn’t working in your social strategy, you need to change it quickly. I spent nearly 3 years working for an agency and sometimes this could be a tough decision to make when trying something new. Do you keep waiting it out, or do you change it before it’s too late? Hearing their advice to change it before it’s too late was a bit of a game changer for me and will certainly affect how I view future campaign when experimenting with new strategies. Of all of the CMO’s speaking for this panel, Carolina Lobo was by far my favorite. She was very polished and professional, but completely real and hilarious when you least expected her to be so. “Authenticity” was one of the words of the day for Social Media Day Philadelphia 2016, 2nd only to “influencer”, but Carolina was one of the few who not only spoke about the importance of being authentic, but she actually WAS authentic. Quote Of The Day: “No one gives a crap about the awards the CMOs win.” – Carolina Lobo. CMO’s, take note.

11:35am: Break. My coworkers knew the speaker Drew Diskin, CMO of WizeHive, so they wanted to speak with him for a few minutes. I never met Drew, let alone worked with him in the past, but I was vaguely familiar with WizeHive so I was curious to see what he had to say. Drew is a very bold and confident man. He didn’t talk much about how work with WizeHive, but gave us a little bit of leadership advice from the perspective of a CMO.

11:40am: Building a Data-Driven Company: Lessons From The Front Line. My coworkers and I chose to attend this talk over hearing the guy from Comcast talk about his work because we wanted to hear things that could benefit or effect us, not just hear others success stories. This talk was given by Robert J. Moore from RJ Metrics. I have been following them online for awhile and was familiar with the brand. I knew that the people behind the brand were very smart and always produced great content. The downside? I work as a content creator. I’m more for the writing and creative side of things. Data and numbers and statistics make my head spin. I didn’t really process or understand anything Robert said during the first half of his presentation. However, during part 2 I was extremely engaged. In part 2 he explained the great RJ Metrics logo fail story. I love how he saw this as an opportunity to further explore his own company, his audience, and do what RJ Metrics does best: use data to analyze and pull it all together. They did a great job of honing up to their mistake and more than that, they took pride in it. They wrote blog posts and talked with the media about their logo fail. They never once tried to run away or hide from it. They embraced it. They became masters at turning a negative into a positive. The results? RJ Metrics gained trust and authenticity within their audience. I think everyone in some shape or form can kind of relate to this honest mistake. It is a funny story that made RJ Metrics more memorable. In the end, this mistake worked wonders for them.

12:20pm: (The Most Philadelphian) Lunch Time! The organizers of the event were nice enough to provide lunch for everyone. It was a grab and go boxed lunch with plenty of varieties of sandwiches for everyone to choose from. I grabbed a turkey one and my coworkers and I headed to the cafeteria to eat. When we opened our boxes we were surprised by how much food they gave us. We all had a hoagie/sandwich/or wrap, a bag of Herr’s (Philadelphia company) chips, a small container of fruit salad, a Tastykake (another Philadelphia company), and a soft pretzel (Philadelphian snack). We joked that it felt like being back in elementary school. Once we were all finished eating we headed to the giant heart and the brain exhibits to get a few pictures for the Heart and Vascular and Neuroscience service lines and to just kind of play around with some things.

1:30 Flash Talk With Cecily Kellogg of Double Good Media. The flash talk with Cecily Kellogg of Double Good Media was probably my most favorite talk of the day. Cecily may not have been a keynote speaker and she may have only had 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes were powerful. Even though she is a hardcore liberal and I’m a hardcore conservative and personally, we probably don’t have all that much in common, I still felt deeply connected to her and could relate. She talked about the mistakes she made in the past as a mommy blogger and her regrets over sharing her every thought and how she branded herself in all of the wrong ways. This had some very dire consequences on herself, her family, and her reputation. In the end, Cecily decided her best option was to quit being a mommy blogger and start over from scratch. Cecily is the pure definition of what it means to be authentic. She is more careful about how she presents herself online now, but she still has the same attitude and personality. When she speaks, you know she’s the real deal. I’ve always been pretty open online and had an “everything goes” mindset like Cecily. Her talk inspired me to be a little more careful about what I post online and to think before posting.

1:45pm: Flash  Talk With Jen Leary of Red Paw Emergency Relief Team. The flash talk with Jen Leary from the Red Paw Emergency Relief Team was another one of my favorite talks. Jen isn’t known as being a social media guru and she doesn’t claim to be one — she is a firefighter to the core and I really appreciated her honesty. There are many people that will brag about being a social media guru especially at these kinds of events, so it’s refreshing to hear stories like this coming from people who flat out admit “I had no idea what I was doing and I’m still working to figure things out.” Jen seems to be doing a great job figuring it all out! It was inspiring to hear about how much money she and her team were able to raise through Facebook. I’m looking into doing some fundraising on my own in the near future to support Aid the Silent, so this gave me a lot of hope. I also totally agree with her points on the power of a good image and working a little to play on people’s sympathy especially when it comes time to ask for donations. Images can and often are more effective than text alone.

2:00pm:Flash Talk With Teresa Lopez from Seer Interactive: My phone was completely dead by this point so I couldn’t live tweet and that made me inherently sad because there was SO MUCH good information here. I have become OBSESSED with Pinterest marketing over the last 6 months because I know that it holds many SEO benefits and I love the advertising options. I was excited about this one too because I have heard so much about Seer Interactive and know quite a few very talented individuals who have or currently do work for Seer and do an amazing job. I already knew about the importance of performing keyword research and adding keywords into Pinterest board titles and descriptions. I didn’t realize how little weight the actual pins have on SEO though. I’ll definitely spend less time on the individual pins and more time on the boards and the actual account optimizations moving forward.

2:15pm: Flash Talk With Susan Poulton from The Franklin Institute. Susan Poulton has a bit of sass that comes with her, which representing the Franklin Institute, was a little unexpected. In her words, she’s “definitely shaking things up at The Franklin Institute”, and with her language and word choice, it’s easy to see why. I liked her though. I liked hearing about how her mission goes beyond just getting people to buy tickets to the museum. One thing that really stood out as being interesting to me was how she is working with her team to market The Franklin Institute globally. I always saw it as being a “Philadelphia” thing and if I were in her position I would probably market it locally, but now that I’m thinking about it, her strategy makes perfect sense. There are many tourists that visit Philadelphia and The Franklin Institute from all over the country that she needs to target and reach, not to mention the general science nerds interested in the science content. Susan made me realize the importance of marketing in a way that can reach everyone, not just those local to your business.

2:45pm: Feature Talk with Pam Didner: How to Maximize The Synergy of Your Social Media & Content Marketing Efforts. My coworkers and I chose this talk with Pam Didner over the one given by/about Curalate, because once again, we wanted to hear about general social media topics, not people’s personal success stories or what they do at their jobs. I had a bit of trouble hearing Pam due to her accent, but when I did hear her, I enjoyed her presentation. She doesn’t look like it at first glance, but she is actually really funny which made her talk even better. I especially enjoyed the templates she provided on how to identify your audience vs. your target user persona and what the difference is. Your audience is general but the persona is more specific, and while the audience may help you to spread your message, the persona is really the one who will follow your brand, use your services, or buy your products. This is why it’s so important not only to identify your audience, but the persona you want to target as well.

3:30pm: What’s Next in Social Media Panel. I got nothing from this panel. It went off topic a lot and was really hard to follow. The moderator asked a question at one point about ROI and someone’s answer was “What’s the ROI of your mom?” My jaw almost hit the floor. I know the tone of the convention was all lighthearted and funny, but that seemed like a little much to me. Judging by the rest of the audience’s reactions, no one else was feeling this panel too much, either. I found an electrical outlet in the floor I was using to charge my phone with, so I began to play around with that and look at all of the other #SMDayPHL tweets. No one was really tweeting much about this panel. Everyone else was just on their phones and laptops and looked like they were waiting for this panel to end.

After that last panel, my co-workers and I decided to call it a day. We still had to travel back home and preferred to do it before it got dark and before it got too late/crowded. Many other attendees followed suit. I do have a few small regrets for skipping the closing keynote given by Kristina Neher though. I read the highlights of it and saw the live tweets come in and it sounds like it was a great presentation on the power of visuals in marketing. I was surprised to hear from the highlights how much higher Instagram engagement is than Facebook. I feel like Facebook is the most powerful social platform that can work for pretty much any business whereas Instagram requires more work and I feel like Instagram is for a younger audience and geared more towards personal use. It looks like it’s time for me to change my attitude towards Instagram! I was also surprised to learn than emails with the word “video” in the subject have a 19% higher open rate…that is definitely something I’m looking to experiment more with in the near future. I liked the idea of using your audience and having them do your marketing for you. If someone from your audience takes a picture of your product for instance, sharing that image can be more powerful and credible than posting your own professional image. I wish this talk would’ve been the opening keynote…it sounds like they really did save the best for last and I’m sorry I missed out on it. :-/

Overall, my first social media convention was a success. I had a really great time and I learned a lot. I look forward to attending it again next year. Who knows, maybe one of these years I’ll even have the opportunity to speak!

Did you attend Social Media Day Philadelphia? If so, what was your favorite part?


 

So…I’m still working on the 30-day writing challenge for May because I suck. I’m on day 14 so I’m still not even halfway through it. But I had to put today’s challenge off for a bit so I could figure some things out and talk with my boss, so naturally I didn’t want to say anything quite yet. Long story short: I’m making some career changes, which I’ll be getting into a little bit with this post. Today’s challenge is to write about how I see my life in 7 years.

Where to even begin? My life changed so much in the past 7 years I can only imagine where I’ll be in another 7.

Next Monday, June 13th, will be my first day working as a Website and Social Media Monitoring Specialist at Penn Medicine. It’s such an amazing opportunity and I believe this will be the start of a really bright future and long-lasting career for me. I definitely anticipate that I’ll still be working for Penn Medicine in the next 7 years.

I should definitely be finished with my Master’s in Writing Arts program within 7 years, too. The program shouldn’t take me longer than 3 years to complete. Maybe I’ll even decide to continue my education and go on to get a Doctorate degree after that or a MFA. Rowan doesn’t offer doctorate degrees in English or MFA’s. Of course, that could change over the next 7 years, but somehow I doubt that. I could get an MFA in Creative Writing (which from the sounds of it gets blended into their English program as well) from Rutgers Camden or another nearby school though.

I’m going to be teaching First Year Writing 3 times a week at Rowan for the first time ever this September as well. Since I have no prior teaching experience, I really don’t know what to expect. But if I end up really loving it, perhaps I’ll continue to teach over the next 7 years as well. Maybe I’ll even teach multiple classes and teach more advanced writing or English courses, too.

I really really really hope I finish writing God Granted Me Hearing over the next 7 years. Hopefully, if it’s God’s will, it will be published by then, too.

I want to get more involved with my church and missionary work or something, too. I found an amazing organization called Aid the Silent that works to bring the gospel to the deaf since 98% of all deaf individuals do not know Jesus. As a deaf Christian, this is a cause that is really important to me. I’d love to somehow get involved with them over the next 7 years. I actually just submitted a request for more information as I was typing this. Maybe I can join them on a missionary/missions trip or sponsor a child or something. Anything would be great.

I’ll be 33 in 7  years. I’m 26 now and about as single as one can be. I really hope that by the time I’m 33, that changes. I hope I find a wonderful man of God with shared interests and that we will bring out the best in each other. Maybe we will get married and have kids and a wonderful life together, but only if that is within God’s will. I trust God and his timing (although I often get extremely impatient). It would be nice to have that within the next 7 years, though.

Having my own home (doesn’t even have to be a huge house…just a home) would be nice. I swear 30 is my cutoff age. I love my parents dearly and appreciate all that they do for me, but I can’t imagine being a 30 year old woman still living at home. Nope.

I should probably get my license before then, though. I hope to have that within the next year. DEFINITELY before the next 7 years are up haha.

These are some of my biggest goals, hopes, and dreams over the next 7 years. Who knows what will actually happen though? I leave it all in God’s hands. Just as Job 14: 5 states, “A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” God knows every day of our lives. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for me over the next7 years. These past 7 years I’ve been beyond blessed and I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done and continues to do for me.


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Image Credits: Amazon

Evan Bailyn’s Outsmarting Google is one of those books that have been on my “To Be Read” list for forever (which isn’t at all surprising if you look at that mile long list…). I actually got this book from a former co-worker when I worked for a digital marketing agency 2 or 3 years ago. After accepting an offer to work as an SEO Marketing Strategist for Becker’s School Supplies, I knew it was time to pick up the book and take it out of the “To Be Read” pile and move it along to the “Currently reading” pile.

I expected that much of this book would be things I already knew, and I was right. I worked for a digital marketing agency for nearly 3 years. I started as an inbound marketer working my way up to a social media marketer, assistant project manager, and later a digital marketing manager with an emphasis in social media. Since my main focus has always been social media, I’ve always just had working knowledge rather than expert level seo knowledge, but have always kept informed by reading blogs, news, and in the case of Outsmarting Google, books. I’d say I do have a lot of experience with SEO, but not as much as I do with writing or social media and I’m not sure I’d refer to myself as a “expert”, which is why I need more help from books like Bailyn’s.

I already knew that Title Tags and Meta Tags were important along with linkbuilding, so some of these chapter simply repeated what I already knew. There are some parts of the book I questioned and wasn’t sure how much of it I agreed with though. I felt like Bailyn’s really discredited the importance of having strong content on your website. He seems to operate more on the idea that on-site content doesn’t really matter at all for SEO. He does emphasize the importance of having a well-designed website which I agree with — but I don’t think that’s enough. If your website is beautiful but has little to no content or poorly written or outdated content, why would anyone want to go to it? Maybe you’ll see obtain website traffic and great rankings in Google, but your conversions may suffer and your bounce rate may be high, neither of which will do your website or business any justice.

In contrast, I feel like Bailyn over-emphasizes the importance of linkbuilding. Yes, it is important. I know that this is one of the most important ranking factors for Google. However, I question Bailyn’s methods. I wonder how strong his linkbuilding is and whether or not much of it is just spam. I also really don’t agree with the way he thinks and advises readers to simply ask webmasters, bloggers, etc. for a link. He makes it sound like the easiest thing in the world to do. Go ahead and try it, I guarantee you’ll receive one of these responses:

  1. Who are you and why should I link to you?
  2. That will be (insert price here, often more than $100)
  3. Google considers that spam and will issue my website a penalty if I do that, so no.
  4. No.

Or simply no response at all. Approaching bloggers and other quality website owners/media members for a link is definitely a much more difficult and more thought out process than simply shooting a completely transparent email asking for it. I learned that the hard way from my agency days, trust me.

Also, some of the links just didn’t seem that good. Bailyn seems to think if a website is anywhere somewhat (but not really) close to being in your industry, a link on that site is good enough. He also recommends linking all of your websites together. So, say you have a website about pizza, a website about leather, and a third website about pets. Bailyn thinks you could link them all together. I suppose it could work. Maybe you want to write on your pizza website an article on leather pizza fashions or a pizza shirt or a piece of pizza your pet is wearing/eating. It’s hard, but not impossible. But I don’t think this is always going to work and I’m not sure I would push for it as much as Bailyn seems to.

Another thing that bothers me with this book is the way the author, Evan Bailyn is constantly bragging about his success and referencing his business, First Page Sage, and yet when you try to look it up and even Google it, there’s nothing too spectacular about it. For example, on page 28 of this book, Bailyn uses First Page Sage as an example to show how his website is ranking #1 on Google for the term “expert Google optimization”. I just typed that in to Google and he’s not on page 1. He’s actually all the way on page 5…the very bottom of page 5, almost page 6.

first page sage page 5

 

Looking at Bailyn’s website, it’s not hard to see why he isn’t ranking better. Some pages such as the homepage and the “About Us” page are great. But other pages, well it’s obvious Bailyn is putting into practice his belief that on-site content isn’t important. The pages for “Our Culture”, “Careers”, “Blog” and “Contact” pages are all without meta descriptions. The blog also isn’t updated as much as you’d expect. On average, it only gets updated around once a month. Maybe this is what’s hurting his rankings?

Of course, it might not have anything to do with Bailyn’s on site content. This book was published in 2011, maybe he just changed his keywords, or even his whole focus of his business, which seems to be exactly what he did. I did some keyword research and analzyzed his website and it looks like “thought leadership” and “thought leadership marketing” is more of what he’s focusing on now, so I googled that as well. He’s number 8 for “thought leadership”:

thought leadership #8

And he’s #2 for “thought leadership marketing”:

thought leadership marketing #2.PNG

I’m not sure how I feel about this information. “Thought leadership” is a whole different concept and completely different keyword to target. Why the sudden change? Is it because he failed at SEO marketing so he decided to become a thought leader instead? #2 for thought leadership marketing is more reassuring, but it’s still not #1 and it’s for a whole new concept. I’m just not sure how much I trust his word as an “SEO expert”.

Bailyn’s social media presence was also disappointing to me. He has over 100,000 followers on Facebook, but he hasn’t updated his page since January — that I know is not good practice. He only has 243 followers on LinkedIn and I believe no posts. His Twitter also hasn’t been updated in over 2 months. It just make it hard to trust this guy and any of the advice he gives on digital marketing…

There are still some points that Bailyn made that I liked and learned from though. I especially enjoyed the sections on PPC and Google Adwords. I don’t have much hands-on experience with PPC advertising at all, so I’m always trying to learn more about it. I like how he explained what makes it different from SEO and the advantages/disadvantages of both. The information on display URL, negative match, and negative  keywords were all things I didn’t know about previously. Having this knowledge now I think will be very beneficial for me if I work with PPC advertising in the future.

The highlight of Bailyn’s book for me was the last part where he wrote about his predictions for Google in the future. This book was published back in 2011…5 years ago, but he was on the right track for most of these predictions. I thought it was interesting how much of a threat he thought Facebook was to Google. I have to say I do agree with this ideology. He’s right in saying that Facebook is much more of a threat than say Bing or Yahoo. The social search was an interesting concept because of how unexpected that prediction was for me. I don’t think it will ever actually happen though because I think that would make it like Facebook 2.0. It seems pointless. Facebook and Google may want to compete, but they should still exist as separate properties with their own unique features, not mere copies of each other.

Bailyn also predicted that Google would launch a social network and that it wouldn’t be well received. Spot on. Google tried with Google+, but it definitely isn’t a huge threat to Facebook by any means and many have predicted over the years that Google will kill it off. Bailyn’s book was published in March of 2011. Google+ was launched in June.

I think that he’s also right with how much he stressed how important localized search will become. Google has been releasing more and more options and features for local  businesses to help them with their SEO especially lately. There’s never been a better time to be a local business interested in SEO marketing. I think he’s also right on Google trying to encourage people to use their phone’s more and releasing features that lets people know where they are or when they visit a certain place. It sounds slightly creepy to read about it in Bailyn’s book, but we’re already pretty much there with apps like FourSquare and the ability to check in places on Facebook and Instagram. Will this really be any different from that? I can see that being a success. However, the reviews probably won’t be as big of a deal as Bailyn thinks. Let’s face it: people are lazy. Most people don’t want to take the time to leave a review unless their service is really bad and they need to vent. Overall,  think that Google reviews will pretty much stay the same over the next few years.

Evan Bailyn’s Outsmarting Google wasn’t a terrible book; I still learned a few things from it. However, it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be; it was just okay. It’s worth just 3 our of 5 stars from me.


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Image Credits: Paul Downey Serving Seniors

Hey guys! So I’ve been procrastinating doing day 9 of the 30-Day Writing Challenge. I did have a little bit (not much) of free time. I’m starting to get more used to this new work schedule — I’m wide awake by 4 and I crash before 10 like an old lady now (even on weekends!). However, I’m not loving the theme for day 9, so I’ve been dreading writing about.

The theme? Write about your feelings on ageism.

Now this sounds like a really easy topic to write on at first. AGEISM SUCKS, DUH! However, when you really critically think about it and sit down to write about, you realize it’s not as easy as you think.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am guilty of committing acts of ageism.

And more than likely, so are you.

I actually looked up the definition of ageism on Dictionary.com. The first definition I totally agree with and is pretty straight forward:

Discrimination against persons of a certain age group.

The second definition, however, I’m not so sure of:

tendency to regard older persons as debilitated, unworthy of attention, or unsuitable for employment.

I agree that is PART of the definition — but what about ALL AGES? Honestly, I think I see ageism is younger people more than older people these days.

Ageism is a huge problem in the work force, especially for the younger generations…the “millennials”. If I see another article on how lazy and unmotivated and undisciplined millennials are, I might scream. Based on my age I fall into the category of being a “millennial”. So basically all of these articles are telling me I’m lazy and unmotivated. Yes because going into work at 7:10 or 7:15 every day when I don’t have to be there until 7:30 (and I live over 45 minutes away…) and leaving around 4:30 (when I can leave at 4) makes me lazy and unmotivated. Oh, and I just got accepted into grad school which I’ll be attending as I continue to work full time. Not to mention all of the other things I plan on doing…so by saying “all millennials are lazy, terrible workers”, these people who are writing these articles, or even thinking these thoughts, are committing ageism.

And yes, older people face it in the workplace, too. This is especially true for certain positions. How old is the average social media manager? They are the millennials! Many people think it looks weird or is wrong to hire someone over the age of 30 to manage social media, because it is a “kid” thing or a “millennial” thing. Older people won’t understand how it works. If you agree with this way of thinking, you too, are guilty of committing ageism.

Ageism exists in the way we view and judge relationships, too. I only want to date people older than me. I think they are the only ones I can relate to. Younger men are too immature and not on my level. This is ageism. Have I met and dated every younger man in the world? No, I have not.

I have, however, dated two different men on separate occasions that were more than a decade older than me. One of them broke my heart, but was the first (and maybe only) man I ever truly, whole-heartedly loved. The other was a good relationship. Nothing “wrong” really happened, we just lacked chemistry.But people judged me so much on these relationships. These relationships were perfectly legal — I was 22 and 23 and they were 32 and 34. This is what I wanted. This feeling was mutual at the time. There were times before we broke up that we were happy. Yet people didn’t think we belonged together because of our age gap. Who were they to judge us or to tell us what was or wasn’t right. If we were happy, isn’t that all that really mattered?

But even though I know how bad it felt to be judged based on my age and the age difference in my relationships when despite the difference, I was happy, I still am guilty of judging people and participating in ageism for the same exact thing!

One of my ex’s that I just described is actually dating a girl who is significantly younger than I am right now. Actually, it’s more than just dating. They are engaged. More than that, they are expecting their first child together. She just turned 18. He just turned 36. When I first found out they were dating, one of my first thoughts weren’t “aw I’m happy for them” (even though they are both my friends). It was What the heck? Is that even legal? (For the record, it was. The age of consent is 16…she was 17 when they started dating).

And I was surprised when I found out they were expecting a baby, naturally. She’s so young and he’s so much older than her. He was so much older than me and she is like what, 7 years younger than me? And I felt sad for her because I felt like she was being robbed of part of her life that he’s already gone and experienced.

And then when I went to write this post and really evaluate my feelings on ageism…I reconsidered my thoughts. It’s not my business. This couple is facing so much crap now because of their situation and their age gap. And it’s messed up. Yes, their is a big age gap. Yes, it’s considered “taboo”. Yes, she’s going to be a teen mom and this wasn’t planned and I know she’s probably terrified.

But do you know what else I know? I, and everyone else, has no right to judge them. I know they are happy. They love each other. I can see it in a way that others cannot because I dated him first. He broke up with me because he didn’t love me and knew he never would. He sees her in ways that he could never see me and I see it in the way he talks to her, about her, all he does for her. It is obvious. And although I never met her in person and don’t know her as well, I believe she feels the same way about him, too. I mean, she moved like a thousand miles (or several hundred at least) when she was only 17 to live with him, before ever even meeting him in real life. It is insane, but it reminds me of what I would’ve done back when I was with Casey, so in that sense, I understand exactly what she’s doing. The difference is, her fiance really loves her. At the time with Casey, he didn’t love me like I loved him.

They love each other. They’re happy. They want to be together. Nobody has any right to take that away from them and any negative thought anyone has about them being together, is, or may be, an act of ageism.

Ageism is a horrible thing and something that we as individuals need to stop doing so much. However, as I hope I have demonstrated, it’s not always that easy. Ageism is one of the easiest acts of prejudice a person can commit, because it comes so naturally and we often times don’t even realize that our thought and actions can  be labeled as ageism.

Instead of casting judgements on people because of how old they are, let’s instead judge them based on their character. Character is what defines us. Our age? That’s just a number.



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