VOTE! (The Primary)

Politics can honestly be extremely overwhelming these days. But, there has been a lot of talk around issues that I care a lot about, so I’ve been doing what I can to follow the next election. I can’t say that I am happy about the social climate that we are living in, so I want to do what I can to make a change. I ‘Marched for our Lives’ in D.C. on March 24th for gun control, I’ve signed petitions to support DACA and related issues, and today, I VOTED.

I think that our country’s bipartisan system is outdated, and whole electoral vs. popular vote thing is super wack. When I was first 18, it made me feel like my vote didn’t actually count at all. I felt small and I didn’t think I could be heard. After I got a little older, there were too many issues that made me passionate and I wanted to be involved. And, I learned that my voice can be heard as long as it’s loud enough.

It truly doesn’t take much to do some quick research into candidates. I subscribe to emails from rockthevote.org and ballotpedia.org to get updates on things like candidates in my party, voting events, and more. Both sites are unbiased, and just reading a couple emails here and there helped me find candidates that support the same issues that I care about. If you are lucky, your city or county might help you out also – so open your mail! I received a handout via snail mail from my district that had a list of running candidates, and a check mark or an X next to different voting issues to indicate which they supported or opposed.

Information is everywhere, so go find it! Then – go vote!

The same sites that I get my information from provide a resource to help me find my polling place. Most voting locations are open 7AM – 8PM, so there is still time to go in the evening even if you can’t make it during the day. Knowing when and where to vote in the Primaries will make things even easier for you to vote in the Midterms in November – and every election day thereafter.

VOTE

Part of my motivation to vote in the primaries comes from being a millennial. Millennials are the largest population of voters, but we have one of the lowest turnouts – especially in the primaries. Current social issues and recent events have made our generation more passionate about the social climate, but nothing will change unless we act on it.

So, did you vote today?

Thanks for reading.

Pay Equity Laws

Pay Equity has been a trending business topic as we move to close pay gaps and promote equality. As a feminist who works in Human Resources, I am a huge fan of this movement. Massachusetts has already passed amendments to make changes, and the amended law will go into affect this July 2018! My hope is that other states quickly follow suit.

These changes can be broken down into three key areas: Salary History Bans, Pay Equity Standards, and Compensation Transparency.

Salary History Bans: The new Pay Equity Laws prohibit employers from asking about an applicant’s salary history before making a job offer. Some employers will calculate their offers based on what a candidate previously got paid, rather than what the position is worth. This can become problematic and is often unfair to employees. With this ban, the position will be worth a static range, and employers will have to move forward with an offer without knowing their previous salary. Employees are free to disclose any information at their own discretion, but employers may not ask until after an initial compensation offer has been made.

Pay Equity Standards: The gender pay gap is something that I have always heard of and been aware of, but this is the first time that I’ve really seen anything being done about it. There are new reporting laws surrounding pay equity that ensure that businesses are doing their social responsibility to address this issue. Companies must engage tools and resources to understand what pay gaps exist in their organization, and they are obligated to take action. Some pay gaps are valid and explainable, and things like tenure, experience, or education will be taken into consideration. Outside of those explainable circumstances, business will legally have to prove that there is an effort being done to close these gaps.

Compensation Transparency: This protects employees to have the freedom to disclose and discuss compensation information with coworkers. It’s crazy to me that employers can discipline employees for discussing their pay with each other – how is this legal?? In my previous position, my company was bringing in new hires at a higher rate than their tenured associates in HR. When I pressed my boss about this, her response was, “technically, you aren’t even supposed to know about that.” Well, that will now be illegal. Employees will now be protected, and if any unfairness is exposed, the company will have to address it. By creating transparency, this ensures consistency across the organization.

In my opinion, if a company sees these changes and has anxiety, that should question the integrity of that organization. These laws are being put into affect to protect employees, and organizations who are already conscious of their employee experience should feel at ease.

Employees should feel protected.

Thanks for reading!

pay-gaps-illustration-800x574_c

Info verified from Mass.gov

Ross Mathews called me FASCINATING

A little while ago, I put out an idea into the universe that I wanted to make it onto Ross Mathews’ podcast, Straight Talk With Ross. I was binge listening to all of the episodes and I would call in randomly to leave voicemails. My realistic hope was that one of my voicemails or something would be featured on the show.

Last week, I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race, on which Ross Mathews is a judge. I am loving this season so I decided to call into Straight Talk and leave a voicemail of my current thoughts. I dialed the number and was waiting to hear the voicemail recording.

Instead I heard, “Hello?”

I freaked out. Someone had answered. “Oh my god, hi!” I could hear the cast talking in the background, recording the show. “Am I on the air?”

“No, but hang on a second..” It was a male voice, and I was trying to figure out who he was. I could hear him go talk to Ross and Mark regarding a caller, but after waiting a while, he got back on the line and let me know that they were not going to have time for callers today.

“That’s no problem – are you JRod?” I asked.

“Uhh, no.” He answered. Whoops. I also asked if his name was Willie (the two cast members who would normally be answering the phone) and he also said no, so I stopped guessing. He told me to try calling in again next week at the same time.

Oh, you got it.

A week went by and I decided I had to try again. I had called in at 7PM my time the week before, which means they probably started recording at 6PM, which would be 3PM in LA where they record.

I made my first call at 6:10, and it went to voicemail. I called again at 6:30 and it went to voicemail again. At this point I figured it was a long shot that someone would answer, so I tried once more at 6:45. Someone picked up and quickly hung up. THEY’RE THERE. I called again.

“Hello?”

This time, JRod answered the phone! I told him I was a huge fan of the show and we had a laugh about my previous call the week before. He said he wasn’t even sure how my call had gotten through, because he didn’t think they had the phones turned on! He then told me to hang on while he went to see if there was time for me on the show.

Oh. My. God.

I listened to Mark talk about getting his vasectomy surgery for a few minutes, and then they went to break. My heart was pounding the entire time in anticipation that I might even just TALK to Ross Mathews, let alone be on the show. After a couple more minutes, JRod came back on the line and let me know that he would push me through to Ross for the next segment.

I DID IT. I MADE IT ON THE SHOW.

Ross Mathews is amazing! He is so nice and welcoming, even to a crazy fan like me! Ross and the other cast members were asking me about my life, we talked about Drag Race and my love for Halsey, and I even got to sing! Truly amazing.

I felt so accomplished that I had put this thought out into the universe and actually made it happen. I’ve said before that I am a big believer in that you get the energy back that you put out into the world. It’s true what they say – if you put your mind to something, you can make it happen!

Ross gave me a couple cute little nicknames and told me that I could call back into the show whenever I wanted to! He said he was interested in my life and wanted to check in with me. (Get your (va)Gina checked!) HE SAID HE FOUND ME FASCINATING! It was honestly a funny and cute little segment, lasted about five minutes, and made me ridiculously happy.

straight talk      ross podSTWR

Find Straight Talk With Ross wherever you listen to podcasts, and go to the episode released on April 26th. It’s Episode 226 – Pooh Bear Fomo. I come in around 52:45. Or for the direct link, you can CLICK HERE .

Thanks for reading!

Dickey Amendment

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably know how I feel about gun control.

Without going too deep into the topic as a whole, the lack of research done on gun violence is alarming.

It’s a fact that the U.S. has a much higher rate of gun deaths than the rest of the developed world*. However, there is almost no federal research available on gun violence in America. Many are blaming this on the Dickey Amendment, which was put in place over a decade ago.

The Dickey Amendment prevented the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) from using a spending bill to “advocate or promote gun control.” As a result, the CDC has avoided researching gun violence, aside from some basic data collection.

The National Rifle Association, of course, had pushed for the amendment. This is not surprising: public-health researchers had published studies suggesting that having a gun in the house increased risk of homicide and suicide*, among other things. The NRA argued that this information was politically motivated, even though these were simply published facts – not advocacy.

The Dickey Amendment is part of the reason that there are massive gaps in what we know about gun violence.*

Last month, Congress gave CDC the “okay” to research gun violence, however, almost no movement has been made. It is likely that the CDC will not begin this research until the amendment is repealed.

GunControl-702a2

CLICK HERE to sign the petition to end the Dickey Amendment. 

Thanks for reading.

Story and inspiration from BuzzFeed News.

The NRA had pushed for the amendment after  
published studies suggested increased risk,
according to The Atlantic.

Take a Chance

People are often too nervous to make a big change in their life, hung up on the idea of things happening when the timing is right.

Reality: the timing will never be right. Do it now.

I’m a big believer in the idea of “everything happens for a reason”. I believe in fate. I believe that things have a way of working themselves out the way that they are supposed to.

These ideas have allowed me to throw the idea of “timing” out the window, and just go for it.

When I first graduated college, I moved back home – which was not my intended plan. I had been looking forward to getting my own place. I was used to the freedoms of college, and going back home was an adjustment. I spent the summer looking for a job to start my career, searching for something where I could commute from home. I went to countless interviews and had many maybes… but nothing followed through. After 3 months, I was beginning to get discouraged. My friend told me of a job opening at her dad’s company, which was located close to my college – a little over an hour away from home. I got the job, and immediately started looking for apartments.

The first month was a rough transition, where I was living out of my car and trying to figure out where to live. I felt like an inconvenience, rotating between sleeping on my friend’s couch and staying with my boyfriend at the time. I knew we were going to break up any day, and I wanted a space to start fresh. Next thing I knew, I was signing a lease for my apartment in Allentown, saying goodbye to the boyfriend, and saying hello to a little puppy named Ducky.

When all the dust had settled, I realized that everything played out exactly the way it was supposed to.

Over the next six months, my job started taking over all my time. I had to be in the office by 6:30 to catch folks leaving on the 3rd shift, and I was expected to stay past 5 to greet the folks on 2nd shift. With the half hour commute, I would get home by 6, and be asleep half an hour later. There were many other frustrations at work, and I was beginning to dread going back every day. My whole life was work and sleep, and I absolutely hated it. When people at work stopped being nice to me and started to ignore me, I knew I had to get out of there. I started applying to other jobs, went on an interview, and was offered a new position.

Truthfully, I was scared to take it. I didn’t know what was the right thing to do, and I was nervous to pull the trigger. Yes, I hated my job, but I had put in a lot of effort with this company – I even moved to a new city. I thought about it, I talked about it with my friends and family, and I decided that taking the job was the right decision.

It was a Thursday morning, I was at my job, and I was getting ready to quit. I walked outside to make a call to accept the new job, but all the managers were in a meeting, so someone took a message for me. I went back inside into a meeting with my boss, only to find out that I was being let go. I was getting all my PTO paid out, I wouldn’t have to work the two weeks of notice like I had planned, and I’d never have to see my horrible boss ever again. Great, byeeeeee! I packed up my desk and left. As I got into my car, the new company called me back, and my offer was officially accepted.

Talk about timing.

The next year and a half was a blast. I had an active social life, I was killing it at work, and I was having a ton of fun. During that time I also met my boyfriend Ryan, which had its own way of showing me that things work out they way they should. Regardless, I truly loved my job, and I had goals of moving up in the company.

But, all good things must come to an end. The company was making arbitrary decisions, and was making promises to people and then not following through. I had an unstable coworker inappropriately scream at me, and the situation was not handled properly. To top it all off, the company could no longer afford to give me my bonus nor my increase that had been promised to me months and months ago. I really loved my boss, but I looked at her and said, “You’re joking, right?”

I knew this company was never going to give me what I deserved, even though I was a large asset to my department. I took a half day, and spent the afternoon applying to other jobs. Cut to a phone interview the next day, and a face to face interview the next week. Less than 24 hours later, I had a job offer that was going to pay me more than double what I was currently making. It was an awesome position, a great company, and an amazing opportunity.

I wasn’t afraid to take it.

There were reasons not to. I had a ton of friends at work, I had a chance at a promotion, and I had made a great name for myself. However, there were a lot of glaring reasons to say yes and go for it. And I knew that it was the right thing to do. I had worked hard and I put that energy out into the universe. So even if my company wasn’t going to reward me, the universe did.

After I had put in my two weeks, my friend at work asked me if I was scared to leave. I answered, “Nope.”

My new job is amazing, and the transition was an easy one. The job is much more geared towards what I studied in college, and I’ve gotten positive feedback so far about my work. And of course, the money helps.

taking changes

This narrative is about my career, but I am a big believer in all aspects of my life that fate will work everything out. I believe that the energy you put out into the world is the energy that you get back. Things might not always be great, and there will always be challenges. But if you are positive and keep moving forward, life will reward you with an opportunity.

And if a great opportunity lands at your feet, don’t be afraid to take it.

What are you waiting for? Take the chance.

Thanks for reading.

The Dreamers

DACA-Polictial-Cartoon

Are we really the home of the free?

America has been called a “Nation of Immigrants”. We were founded on the principle that people come here in search of a better life. However, our current leadership has decided that it is now time for America to throw out its values and become exclusive.

I understand that immigrants need to be registered and go through the legal process. I understand that everyone living here needs to pay taxes and follow the law. I understand that immigration needs to be regulated.

That being said, the current policies are evoking a fear across the nation that has striped America of its core values.

We are supposed to be a nation of dreamers. 

“Dreamers” is now the title given to individuals who came into America, illegally, as children. President Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which has prevented over 800,000 immigrants from being deported. As a result, the Dreamers were able to get an education, start a career, and live the American dream they’d always hoped for.*

I believe in DACA. I believe that immigrant parents come to America dacapurely to give their children a chance at a better life that they may not have had. I believe DACA protects children who do not even know their “home country”, but instead have always known America as their home.

Now, their future is in doubt. Trump has said during his campaigns that he would not threaten the Dreamers, but he has gone back on this word. The crackdown on immigration has not only ripped families apart, but is also installing fear across America.

DACA+article

It’s just disheartening. I don’t feel proud to be a part of a country that feels so superior to the rest of the world. I don’t feel good about families being torn apart and exclusivity being promoted.

Our founding fathers broke away from their home country to build a new nation and provide a better live for those who followed them. This idea seems basic, and yet it feels like something that is lost.

It feels like America has become a high-class Country Club, and not everyone gets a membership.

Yes, it’s wonderful to live in a country where I am free to write all this and express my opinions as I please. However, it’s also hard to be patriotic when I see so much that I want to change. I pray that one day, America will return to its “melting pot” values, and immigrants will not have to dream in fear.

I stand behind the Dreamers.

Thanks for reading.

*Time Magazine:
We Are Americans - Just Not Legally;
We Are Americans, Revisited - The Dreamers Five Years Later;
Ripped Apart - The Cost of America's Immigration Crackdown

Millennials

Millennials get a bad rep, and I’m ready to call bullshit.

Let’s start by defining the term “Millennial”. We are Generation Y, born between 1981 and 1997*, and today are between 21 and 38 years of age. Also known as “The 9/11 Generation”, we do not know a world without computers, academic pressure, and the constant fear of school shootings. We were raised by Baby Boomers and Generation X. Our parents were nurturing, omnipresent, and have told us over and over again that we are special. We feel like a generation, and we have great expectations for ourselves.*

So, why are millennials given a negative connotation? Why are we isolated and criticized? Why do I constantly feel the need to defend my generation?

Millennials are severely misunderstood. We are criticized for the environment we grew up in and we are blamed to the point where our own members don’t want to be associated with our name. We are classified as “the worst”. We are stupid, unmanageable, unconventional, and of course, entitled narcissists. Apparently, we suck.

Fact: The Baby Boomers are the first “Me Generation”* and all the generations after have simply followed suit. Millennials are also the “Green Generation” because we care more about the environment. We are invested in our health and the wellness of others. We have lower crime rates. We volunteer. We donate. We care about social issues. Millennials have been called “alpha-influencers”. We have been taught that we can and we will make a difference. “Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation and this year we will be the largest voting block.” This was tweeted by Rock the Vote in February of this year.

Yes, we like technology. The digital era is what we are used to. Older generations see this as laziness, because we have found shortcuts and alternatives to the long processes that they have become comfortable with. We see this as innovation and creativity. When someone asks, “Why?”, we ask, “Why not?”. Millennials are resourceful and inventive.

Fact: The Baby Boomers were the first generation who grew up with a television in their homes. This drastically reshaped the media and how news was delivered. Generation X grew up during the computer revolution, and Millennials had the smart phone. All of these advances of technology resulted in a change in how people can connect to the outside world. The world evolves, and so do we.

We grew up in a time of rapid change. We were taught at a very young age that the world is unsafe. Millennials were roughly between the ages of 4 and 20 on September 11th, 2001, and many of us do not know a world without terrorism. We were students who witnessed Virginia Tech, Columbine, and Sandy Hook on the news and had to walk our own school hallways the very next day. We are exposed and aware.

And maybe we aren’t as different as you think.

Fact: Millennials have been nicknamed “Echo Boomers” because of the likeness to their parent demographic. Baby Boomers were taught to cut coupons from their parents who witnessed the Great Depression, and Millennials care less about name brands and more about being thrifty. Both Baby Boomers and Millennials are known as being team-oriented. Baby Boomers embraced the ‘American Dream’ and Millennials have the highest number of entrepreneurs. Baby Boomers were the “rock and roll” generation and introduced Millennials to “save-the-world” type revolutions that are still happening today. There were more Baby Boomer mothers in the workplace than previous generations, leading Millennials to promote feminism, equal pay, and the women’s movement. Baby Boomers started the “free love” movement and Millennials promote tolerance, openness, and acceptance.*

There is so much that we can learn from each other.

We need to remember that older generations are the ones that created the new generations. We are all products of what we have have been exposed to and what we have learned. At the end of the day, we are all just trying to navigate our way though an ever-changing world.

So, let’s set the record straight.

Millennials are adventurous and ambitious. We are educated, motivated, and independent. We are diverse. We are confident and collaborative. We are conscious, aware, and open-minded. We are idealistic, innovative, and passionate.*

We are the future. And we are no better nor worse than anyone else.

Thanks for reading.

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*Millennials: Born 1981-1997 (Sometimes listed as 1980-2000; 
the range of birth years for millennials may be updated as 
further demography studies about this generation are conducted, 
according to Pew Research). - CNN, 2017

*Defining Millennials and other generations,
- The 6 Living Generations In America, 
marketingteacher.com

*The Boomers are the first “Me Generation” and every 
generation after is also the “Me Generation",
according to medium.com

*Millennials are "alpha-infulencers", 
according to forbes.com

*Rock the Vote tweet,
https://twitter.com/RockTheVote/
status/959564406085554181

*Baby Boomer comparisons,
inspired by Pew Research Center

*16 Positive Qualities of Millennials, 
according to The Oddyssey Online