Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One Magazine, Many Things Learned

I love having something to look forward to. It always seems to make the dragging days/months (although since I've started working I can't recall many days that have dragged!) breeze on by. People look forward to a variety of things - weddings, concerts, vacations, movie premiers, etc. I look forward to all of those fun things too, but sometimes I just look forward to reading a good book or one of my favorite magazines at the end of a brain-numbing day.

As the end of each month approaches, either or LDub or I make a point to stop by one of our local Panera Bread bakery-cafes and pick up a copy of Strut Magazine. Now of course I would be a fool to not monitor this woman-empowering pub every month for client purposes. But on a more selfish and self-indulging note, I read it for my own personal pleasure...AND because I always seem to learn something new and inspiring after I read it. The writing and article topics are just so darn creative and witty! So I thought I'd share the wealth and write about some of my favorite parts of August's "Moving On" issue.

First off, I'm a quote fanatic. Back in the day, I had time to log my teenage thoughts in a journal and search hours on end for quotes and poems that moved me. I may not do that now, but I always make sure to take note of quotes that catch my eye. Here are a few favs from Strut's August issue:

"Never regret. If it's good, it's wonderful. If it's bad, it's experience."
Victoria Holt

"Pick the day, enjoy it - to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come. The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present - and I don't want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future."
Audrey Hepburn

"If you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesterdays are buried deep - leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back, and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead."
Beryl Markham

While I basically read Strut cover to cover, I'd have to say that the article I most align myself with is six surefire secrets to stand out from the crowd from a local PR pro (duh, it's advice from a female PR pro - of course it's my favorite!) When people ask me what my advice is about landing a job in PR straight out of college, I always say the same exact thing: Stand out from the crowd. Looks like I'm not the only one! Here are Sharlan Douglas' ways for job hunters to make themselves shine among the fierce competition:
  • It's not about you. Research the company you're applying at online, the name of the person who would hire you and be able to explain why and how you would make this person's life easier.
  • Know your competition. Vocalize your unique selling proposition and articulate those differences in a way that positions you against the competition.
  • Think strategically. Consider trade-offs to reach your long-term goals, i.e. does the employer offer generous education benefits, or will you have time to participate in a professional association?
  • Network. Tell people you know that you're job hunting. People with experience in our field love to share their knowledge.
  • Make cold calls. You'll probably have to do this at some point during the job search, just like you'll DEFINITELY have to do this at some point if you work in the PR industry.
  • Motivate yourself. Job hunting is a job, so if you don't put your all into it, who will?
FINAL THOUGHT (OK sorry that's very Jerry Springer-ish): Sometimes I wish I could get paid for reading books/magazines/blogs and sharing words of wisdom with anyone who cares about my opinion. Another notch added to the "Things I'd Like to Accomplish One Day" post :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

My First Jewish Wedding

This past weekend was wedding number three out of five that MAL and I have committed ourselves to in 2008. I'm a sucker for weddings and all, but five is a bit much in a short span of four months! However, I have to say that our wedding experience this weekend was rather enlightening. Not only did it take place on beautiful Torch Lake, but it was the first time either one of us had attended a Jewish wedding. I wasn't skeptical by any means because a union of two people in love carries the same meaning across a variety of religions. But being the born-and-raised Catholic that I am, I was interested to experience the differences in wedding rituals.

Let me just say, I was moved...almost to the point of converting! OK, so maybe that's a bit extreme, but I was deeply touched by the intimacy of the ceremony and how much emphasis was placed on the two individuals committing their lives to one another. I am Catholic (and God knows I put in my time at Mass while I was attending Catholic grade school!), therefore I feel I can harp a bit on the Catholic religion. Most Catholics will admit -- it's a bit formal and ritualistic. We stand, we sit, we recite prayers in unison, we kneel, we stand again, we come forward to take the Body and Blood of Christ, etc. The Jewish ceremony was nothing like that. Sure there were rituals, like the couple sharing a cup of wine with each other then each other's parents, standing under the chuppa (canopy) and the reading of the ketubah (marriage contract). Maybe it was the way the rabbi spoke so sincerely about the couple, or maybe it was the fact that although there were rituals, they didn't seem particularly rigid. All I know is that my attention was focused the entire time at the ceremony and I have a newly-discovered appreciation for weddings that aren't strictly Catholic.

My two favorite parts were when the rabbi read letters that the couple had written to each other. They, along with those in attendance, were hearing the confessions of a "forever commitment to one another" for the very first time. Yes, I choked up. I also really liked the Seven Blessings, where different members of the wedding party stood up and read seven separate blessings that were bestowed upon the newly married couple.

All in all, the Jewish ceremony could be summed up in three words: short, sweet, sincere. It really opened my eyes to the way different religions celebrate the matrimony of two people in love.

Mazal Tov!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What's the Rush and Where's the Fire?

I have a full time job and maintain a relatively active social schedule, but sometimes I feel like I could make a full time job out of keeping in touch with friends and family. It shouldn't be a chore to call your best friend or your cousin who lives out of state, but I tend to feel that way on occasion. Maybe it's because I hate losing touch with people. Maybe it's because so many of my friends and family either live out of state or in a different part of the state. But keeping in touch with those nearest and dearest to my heart makes me happy. I just had dinner with four amazing and incredible women, who like myself, work (or have worked) in the communications industry. They are inspiring, effervescent and so totally unique that I find my thoughts lingering on our evening together days after it takes place. It makes me so happy that even in our crazy, hectic and chaotic lives, we find time to come together every other month or so and share life stories and lessons. OK, so maybe we just talk about men and our social lives for a good portion of the night, but whatever -- we are women after all :)

I am sure there are many people out there, old and young, who feel my same woes -- that nothing in this world makes them happier than to spend time with friends and family. Yet, they don't find enough time to arrange for those reunions on a regular basis. My lovely married gal L-Dub (she no longer can be referred to as L-Pan, how sad!) found this great blog post through a Google alert for Panera Bread. The author sat in Panera and took some time to observe and reflect on his surroundings. And what did he notice but none other than people from all walks of life rushing around, except for a few "older folk" who actually seemed to grasp the concept of relishing in relaxation.

I ask myself this question frequently -- what is the point in rushing through life? Does it really matter if I leave work for the gym at 6 or 6:15? Does it really matter if I finish three projects today or only two? Does it really matter if I rush to call five friends after work, or should I call two and have longer conversations?

I am learning that I am a much happier person (and I have much less anxiety and spare my sanity!) when I savor moments rather than blow right through them in hopes of accomplishing another task for the day. So I'll keep reminding myself that there's no need to hurry so much -- maybe one day I'll finally learn for good :)

Monday, July 7, 2008

D-town Gets Some Poem Love from Jack White

I think it's great how many famous people are from the Detroit area - Aretha Franklin, Eminem, Kid Rock, Jeff Daniels, to name a few. Another one of those celebs is Jack White of the White Stripes and Raconteurs (check out this site, very cool!) Now, I will not even pretend to be a quasi-fan of Jack, his music or his band. I've heard he's quite a talented artist, but I've also heard that he's snubbed his so-called beloved hometown on quite a few occasions (joining Madonna in the not-so-proud-I'm-from-D-town category). However, contrary to the way Jack's feelings toward Detroit have been portrayed recently, he holds a great deal of admiration for the city. And he's proved it to Detroit, the music industry and all those who've ever doubted his hometown pride by offering the Detroit Free Press a poem about how strong he believes the city is, titled "Courageous Dream's Concern." You can check out Brian McCollum's article here.

So I'm not a Jack White/White Stripes/Raconteurs fan, so why the heck do I care about this? I care because I think his poem is creative, and the fact that he took the time to write a poem about Detroit rather than doing a boring interview or writing lyrics to a song is enough to make me care to read the darn thing. Yes a song may have gotten the point across, but a poem is classic. It's timeless....it's meaningful...it's straight from that big red organ pumping life into your body. He writes/sings songs for a living...so it's much more intriguing that he wrote a prose-like poem. Some people look at this as a stunt to gain some publicity and think Jack White needs to get over himself (check out the comments on the Freep story). But I look at it as a guy who stepped back, realized his words were misinterpreted and found a unique and interesting way to set the story straight. And then again...maybe his publicist got a bit creative and thought "Hmm, you should write a poem and give exclusive rights to the Free Press. That will get people's attention!" Regardless, it was a creative and bold move...and it DID get attention, so it worked!

"The following poem is the Detroit from my mind. The Detroit that is in my heart. The home that encapsulates and envelops those who are truly blessed with the experience of living within its boundaries."

'Courageous Dream's Concern,' by Jack White

I have driven slow,
three miles an hour or so,
through Highland Park, Heidelberg, and the
Cass Corridor.

I've hopped on the Michigan,
and transferred to the Woodward,
and heard the good word blaring from an
a.m. radio.

I love the worn-through tracks of trolley
trains breaking through their
concrete vaults,
As I ride the Fort Street or the Baker,
just making my way home.

I sneak through an iron gate, and fish
rock bass out of the strait,
watching the mail boat with
its tugboat gait,
hauling words I'll never know.

The water letter carrier,
bringing prose to lonely sailors,
treading the big lakes with their trailers,
floats in blue green chopping waters,
above long-lost sunken failures,
awaiting exhumation iron whalers,
holding gold we'll never know.

I've slid on Belle Isle,
and rowed inside of it for miles.
Seeing white deer running alongside
While I glide, in a canoe.

I've walked down Caniff holding a glass
Atlas root beer bottle in my hands
And I've entered closets of coney islands
early in the morning too.

I've taken malt from Stroh's and Sanders,
felt the black powder of abandoned
And smelled the sawdust from wood cut
to rehabilitate the fallen edifice.

I've walked to the rhythm of mariachis,
down junctions and back alleys,
Breathing fresh-baked fumes of culture
nurtured of the Latin and the
Middle East.

I've fallen down on public ice,
and skated in my own delight,
and slid again on metal crutches
into trafficked avenues.

Three motors moved us forward,
Leaving smaller engines to wither,
the aluminum, and torpedo,
Monuments to unclaimed dreaming.

Foundry's piston tempest captured,
Forward pushing workers raptured,
Frescoed families strife fractured,
Encased by factory's glass ceiling.

Detroit, you hold what one's been seeking,
Holding off the coward-armies weakling,
Always rising from the ashes
not returning to the earth.

I so love your heart that burns
That in your people's body yearns

To perpetuate,
and permeate, the lonely dream that does encapsulate,
Your spirit, that God insulates,

With courageous dream's concern.