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 It is likely that the CDC will not begin this research until the amendment is repealed.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.

blog-generational_giving-image1

*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

Yoga Block

I bought a yoga block. I still need some time to expose myself to new exercises to include the yoga block, but so far I’ve found it can be great to help or further challenge your practice.

1pc-EVA-Yoga-Block-Foam-Block-Brick-Stability-and-Balance-Support-Bricks-Exercises-Roller-for-Pilates.jpg_640x640Laying flat on my back, I place my feet flat on the floor so that my knees are pointed upwards. Then I place the yoga block on its smallest height under the small of my back so that it sits directly under my tailbone. This provides a very small stretch, and a good position to take several deep breaths. After a minute, I move the block beneath me onto it’s side, making it’s height slightly higher. You can either have your arms at your side, or raised above your head on the ground. More deep breaths as the stretch settles in across my back. Then finally, I flip the block to it’s tallest height, putting me into a small back bend. This is a reverse table-top position, and it feels amazing. I have also challenged myself to then remove the block, and hold my body lifted in place.

seated-forward-bend-with-blockThe yoga block has also helped with stretching. If you are not super flexible, the block can help to bridge gaps that would normally be strenuous. For example, when you reach towards the ground in forward fold, you can place the block between your hands and the floor, allowing you to feel the stretch at your own pace without pushing your limits. In my case, I am already relatively flexible, but the block helps me to stretch further. One example is when I am sitting down on the mat with my legs straight and leaning forward. I do not have trouble reaching my toes, and can actually pull my feet off of the ground a bit to challenge the backs of my legs. By putting the yoga block to sit at the bottom of my feet, I can reach past my toes to grab the block and further my stretch. This can really help to improve flexibility, because you are able to control the amount you are stretching your body, so you challenge yourself at the pace that feels good.

After doing some quick online research for stretches and exercises, I have ordered a second yoga block so that I can continue to explore different practices.

Looking forward to more challenges in the future! Thanks for reading.

 

Yoga (On My Own)

I grew up as a dancer, so for a long time, I thought of yoga more like ‘relaxed stretching.’ It felt great for my body, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the addition of the mind. I’ve been going to a great yoga class every Wednesday called Urban Yoga, and so far I’ve had an amazing experience and have learned a lot. I’ve been trying to use more of the yoga language and get further into the balanced mindset. I’m no expert, but I found myself with some free time the other day and decided to do some on my own.

savasana_ink

I will admit that I’m not great at meditation. It’s hard for me to sit still and silence my thoughts completely. Even still, I started out my yoga practice by trying to meditate. I opened up my yoga mat, put a pillow down for under my head, and laid down in savasana (this is just a fancy way to say that I laid on my back with my palms up – see right). I closed my eyes and thought one word: RELAX. I breathed in, breathed out, and told myself to relax.

I had heard a concept from Rosie O’Donnell regarding strengthening your meditation that I tried to follow here. As you meditate, you attempt to remove all thoughts from your brain. Experienced meditaters can accomplish this easily, but for the rest of us, we may clear our brain for a moment, and then something will pop back in: Oh, I need to finish the laundry tonight… Rosie says to recognize that as a thought. You imagine pulling that thought from your brain the same way you would pull a leaf from a tree. You pull your thought, and then you imagine letting that leaf travel into a flowing river. It flows down the river and floats away. And then your mind is clear. And then you get another thought: What am I having for dinner tonight… and you recognize the thought, pull it, release it, and let it float away. The goal is to stay present in the moment.

After about 5 minutes, I sat up and did some light stretching. By beginning with a meditation, I felt like I had warmed up my brain. So next I began to warm up my body. I folded forward to grab my toes and stretch my legs and lower back. I rolled my shoulders and twisted my neck. I rolled my ankles and wrists, and pulled my arms from side to side. Once warmed up, I moved to a tabletop position.

cat-cowFrom there I did several rounds of cat-cow, which is great for your back. You start in tabletop (aka on your hands and knees with a flat back) and make sure that your hips and shoulders are stacked over your knees and hands. Begin to drop your navel, arch your back, and look up. Cat. Then you drop your gaze, push into your hands, and slowly invert the spine one vertebrae at a time. Cow. Then you repeat cat-cow-cat-cow, inhaling as your chest opens and exhaling as you contract. pointI continued with the cat-cow pointer series, where you reach your arm forward and lift your opposite leg. I held each side for 30 seconds, stretching higher for the last 10. Next, I turned this into a small exercise, and drew the lifted arm and leg into my chest to contact, and then extended my limbs back out again. 10 times each side, then I collapsed into child’s poseestiramientos-de-cadenas-musculares

Woman-Yoga-Pose-Silhouette

Next was tree pose, one of my favorites. As a Libra, I love balance. I positioned my foot on my thigh and held my palms together at my chest. I first held each side for 30 seconds, but I realized that this was not challenging enough, so I did a second round of a minute each. I felt very grounded and stable, and was proud at the ease of holding this pose for a full minute. There were moments of shaking, but I was able to feel adequate in this pose, which felt good for both my body and my mind.

Finally, sun-salutations. One of the reasons I like this exercise is that it’s basically choreography for a small little yoga routine. The sun-salutation is a series of poses performed in a sequence to create a flow of movement.* You start in mountain pose, and lift your arms above your head, then collapse into forward fold. A quick half lift, then palms are pressed firmly on the ground and feet step back into plank. Release and lift the chest, tilting the head back into cobra. After holding for a moment, I first fold into child’s pose, but you could also lift right into downward dog and hold for a moment again. Walk the feet to the hands to forward fold, and lift back up into mountain pose, and pulling the palms together into the chest. I did two sets on each side, reminding myself to breathe and feel each movement. origin-of-suryanamaskar-500x356.jpg

All of the above took me about 20 minutes total, and I ended this self-session by getting back into savasana for another quick meditation. I again focused on relaxation as well as cooling down. When I decided that enough time had gone by, I pulled my palms together to my chest one last time. I put the throw pillow back on the couch, rolled up my mat, and stored it back in the corner.

It’s nice to have enough experience at this point to have created a small routine for myself. This was roughly 20-25 minutes long and is filled with the poses and exercises that make me feel good and energized. When I attend Urban Yoga on Wednesdays with an awesome instructor, I am able to engage my mind and spirit as well as the body. This is something that I will have to work on more as I practice on my own time (meditation as well), but I am proud of the level I am at today.

Namaste. Thanks for reading.

The Sun Salutation, or Surya Namaskara, is a series of poses 
performed in a sequence to create a flow of movement,
according to yogaoutlet.com

Women in the Workplace

shutterstock_183577280% of the people I have reported to in the workplace have been women. This includes every position I have had, from my high school jobs to my college internships to my career. Most of my bosses have been women.

I come from a hardworking family with two parents who worked full-time. My mom took her maternity leave to have my sister and I, and then got right back to her job, working as one of the 11% of civil engineers that are women.* And yet, she still managed to have a life AND be involved with the PTA. The women there would give her patronizing remarks when she was unable to make meetings in the middle of the day because of having a career.  “Oh… you have to work?” Really? Not to judge these women, but my mom is a project engineer managing teams across a multinational company with a masters degree from Penn State who also is able to balance being an active mom, so who are they to speak?

All that being said, it’s no surprise that I take pride in the fact that I have mainly reported to women. I have had the opportunity to work for some amazing, powerful women, (and one awful one) and I am very thankful.

My first job, however, I worked for a man. In high school, I worked at a pizza place called Bella Roma, which was/still is owned by a man named Ray. To put it frankly, he was a sexist pig. Only girls were allowed to work behind the counter and wait tables, and only boys were hired to be delivery drivers. He made inappropriate remarks about women who came into his shop. You could see it and hear it in the way he treated and talked to people. Luckily for me, he was only in the restaurant during one of my shifts each week so I didn’t have to deal with anything first hand, but the stories were passed around. He was a douche.

I worked there for a year and then I started my long line of working for women. My hometown job included working for my friends’ mom, and my college campus job had me reporting to one of the female graduate students. It wasn’t until I started my internships that I noticed the amount of women in the workforce around me.

Maybe it’s my industry. I was a Communications major with minors in PR and Professional Writing, and my experience has been in HR, PR and Marketing. I had four internships while I was in college, all of which I reported directly to women. Three of these internships were within small businesses, and, this next part is noteworthy, ALL THREE OF THOSE BUSINESSES WERE OWNED BY WOMEN. These women were boss ladies, bad bitches, and I wanted to be like them. They were rough around the edges, intimidating, hardworking, and determined with something to prove. I was given mentors at these internships as well, also women. I was inspired by the attitude they had and the image of themselves they they projected into the world. Say what you want, but women get shit done, and done well. Today, almost 40% of all businesses are owned and operated by women.*

My first job out of college, I worked for an awful woman named Heather, who was the HR Director for a small manufacturing firm. When I first started, I heard rumors that she wasn’t well liked, but she was so nice to me in the beginning that I figured they were just saying those things because she was a dominant female. As I got to know her more, I realized that she didn’t make a whole lot of sense most of the time. She wasn’t great at managing people. She was no where to be found for 90% of the time, and the other 10% she would micromanage so much that it was hard to do our jobs. One time, she told me that instead of teaching me the new way she wanted things done, she had been giving me a look periodically to see if I could figure out this own my own. Sorry I didn’t pick up on  your telepathic signals, Heather. I could continue on about the strange things she used to do, but my point here is that I didn’t see her as a good boss. She was off-putting and manic and hypocritical and backwards. She didn’t know how to handle people, but then again, neither did most of this organization. I worked there for less than a year before I was begging another company to take me.

After that, I did a complete 180 and started working for a wonderful individual named Cheryl. You can put Cheryl on the top of the boss lady list. Professionally, she helped build a branch from scratch and was running the HR department for her home office and several other offices in the region. Meanwhile, she was dealing with a mother battling cancer, a husband having multiple surgeries on his airwaves, and a daughter in and out of the ER with asthma issues. As if all that wasn’t enough, she also fought against the daily prejudice of having an interracial family (a beautiful one) and fought against stereotypes of women in leadership. I was continuously inspired by her strength and prosperity, and the fact that she was a baller breadwinner for her family. Over 40% of moms today are the sole or primary source of income in U.S. households.* Cheryl also was a phenomenal manager. She cared about us on both a personal and a professional level, cared about our growth, and cared about us overall being happy. The year she was my boss, she won HR Manager of the year across a national company, and soon after I left the company, she was promoted to Regional Manager. To put it simply, she dominates.

When I interviewed to leave that company, it was with a man named Glenn. Upon accepting the offer, I learned that Glenn is who I would be reporting to. Truly, my immediate thought was, Wow, this is the first time I’ll be reporting to a man since Ray. I wondered if the differences would be noticeable or noteworthy between working for a man versus a woman. I was unsure of how my experience had shaped me or catered to me in my career. I wouldn’t say I was nervous, but certainly curious.

However, it was obvious from my interview experience that working for Glenn was going to be a much better situation than the man I worked for when I was 17. True to my expectations, Glenn has been a great leader who is extremely knowledgeable and a great teacher. He’s also managing a team of over 40 individuals while juggling a daughter at home with health issues. I’ve clearly been fortunate to work for several admirable leaders. Lucky for Glenn, we are now adding leadership to our department, and his team of 40+ will be broken up into four teams with four separate leaders. As we make this switch, I will no longer be on Glenn’s team, but will now be reporting to a woman named Michelle.

What I’ve learned about great leaders and managers, is that they are also great people. They are professional and experienced, yet level-headed and caring. They are advisors, mentors and confidants. They multi-task, they prioritize, and they execute. They are the kind of people that you want to surround yourself with. And in my case, they have mostly been women. This should be celebrated! But we have a long way to go.

Almost 52% of professional-level jobs are owned by women*, and yet only 15% of executive officers are female.* Not to mention the prevailing wage-gap issue – despite the spotlight that has been put on it, women still make about 78 cents to the man’s dollar.* I won’t even get into the workplace harassment issues that the media has highlighted, but let’s just recognize the amount of mountains that women have to climb.

So I say, keep climbing! Inspire and empower the women around you. Celebrate their successes, and learn from them to create your own. Collaborate. Nominate. Share knowledge and information. Acknowledge accomplishments and milestones. Break boundaries and tear down stereotypes.

I want to thank the women who have inspired me. From my mom, to my previous bosses, to my mentors, to my friends – you all dominate everyday. As leading women in your industries, you are constantly knocking down walls and paving a greater way for the women who come after us. I hope to pass along the gifts that I have been given from you to other strong women with powerful potential.

Who run the world.*

Thanks for reading.

 

*11% of civil engineers are women, according to bls.gov.

 *30% of all businesses are owned and operated by women, 
over 40% of moms today are the sole or primary source of 
income in U.S. households, and the pay gap across all 
occupations is 77.5%,  according to resourcefulmanager.com

*Almost 52% of professional-level jobs are owned by women and 
15% of executive officers are female, according to americanprogess.com

*Who run the world? Girls. According to Beyoncé.