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Archive for March, 2009

The camel’s back broke today. The last straw was finally placed on top of the heaping pile, and it all fell apart.

Anyone who works in the media field understands the pressure of deadlines. It’s a never ending cycle. I’ve lived the lifestyle for years and transition fine from one stressful situation to the next. Usually it gives me this sick pleasure to have the finish line in sight with mountains between me and the end. For those who have been in my shoes, you can relate to the feeling of accomplishment when the day (or hour, or minute) finally arrives and you some how, in some twisted way, finished everything you need and hit “send.” Mission accomplished.

But right now….it’s not going that smooth. It’s the rough period. I’m simultaneously facing about 10 deadlines that all unfortunately land on the same day: April 1. I’m really doing my best to balance it all, but today I hit my breaking point.

I’m not going to bore you with all the things I have on my plate because we are all busy people. I’ll just put it like this. I am always busy. Always bite off more than I can chew. I never stop, and the phrase “free time” is not in my vocabulary. All things considered, that Sophia is at about double capacity and ready to explode. However, to everyone I come in contact with (except my husband) I appear to be very calm, collective and same as usual.

So what was my breaking point? I realized in order to function I had to hit the gym to work off some of this stress. I tried to make it up there Sun, Mon, Tues and this morning to no avail. Life happens. After work I walked over to the Power Shop. I greeted the woman at the front desk. Waved at a friend using free weights. Walked into the locker room and knew two more people. I entered a stall and changed into my shorts and tank top. I decided I was thirsty and opened my red Gatorade. Half a second later my blue shorts were purple. I sat down on the toilet seat and wanted to cry. I felt like it took all the effort I had to get to the gym, now I ruined my outfit, and I didn’t want to look like a doofus to all the people I just greeted.

I went into problem solving mode. I put back on my dress and faked a call to my iphone. I answered loud enough for everyone in the locker room to hear “oh no! Are you serious? It’s okay. I’m on my way now.” I made no eye contact as I faked this panicked look on my face all the way back to the Beetle. I felt like a complete idiot. Now there was no way I would go back there tonight.

I drove home, and that’s when I broke. The strong, masculine, “tough” qualities gave out and I did what all women when they’re an emotional basket-case. I cried to my husband. His answer, “So are you upset because you spilled Gatorade on your shorts? I don’t understand why you can’t change your clothes and go back.”

Once I got over my pity party I said “Brandon, I have a to-do list that could keep me up all night. But I am mentally worn out. What should I do?” His suggestion was I still needed my workout so if I can’t go to the gym, go bike riding. Brilliant!

I changed clothes and took off to the one place I go for refuge. My secret garden. If you don’t have a quiet time place, I highly suggest you seek yours out. I found my garden three years ago and it’s the place I go when the world needs a pause button.

Plant City is a very special place to live, and unique in so many ways. There are these elderly sisters a few miles down the rode who live next door and have been gardening together for 50 years. Their backyard takes my breath away. They always leave the gate unlocked and tell people you can come anytime. Don’t call ahead. It blesses them to have others enjoy their garden.

It’s about a 10 minute bike ride to the garden. The yard backs into the property of the local Catholic church and I arrived just as the bell stuck three times; it was 7:15.

I spent about 45 minutes in meditation. I walked around and admired nature’s beauty. I listened to the crickets. I watched the sun fade. I listened to the water flow from the creek into the pond. I watched the goldfish eat their dinner. Then, I thought about life. Thought about how trivial the things were I was killing myself over. Realized how little my tiny problems matter in the scheme of it all. The world is so much bigger than me, but too often I forget it doesn’t revolve around me. I let my heart, mind and soul rest.

Just before the sun faded into night I got back on my bicycle and peddled home.

In the end, I was very thankful I spilled Gatorade all over my clothes and made such an idiot of myself that I couldn’t go back to the gym. I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. It was meant for me to hit my breaking point, so I would force myself to rest and recuperate.

Just so you can appreciate the beauty of my favorite place in the world, I am attaching some engagement pictures (raw and unedited) that I took this weekend there. I want you to be able to visualize the peacefulness.

The entrance of my secret garden

The entrance of my secret garden

The bridge across the creek

The bridge across the creek

Okay, so this one doesn't showcase the garden, but it was my fav of the day

Okay, so this one doesn't showcase the garden, but it was my fav of the day

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Nouns are dead

It finally clicked for me.

A dear friend of mine who loves to stir up controversy, debate and discussion decided to share a passage from The Shack, the novel he is currently reading. I’ve not yet read this one, but apparently God is portrayed as a large black woman, the holy spirit as a woman, and I can’t remember who Jesus is.

Anyway, the few portions he read were mostly spoken from the holy spirit’s character. She was trying to explain to the protagonist that one should not think in nouns, but rather verbs. Nouns are dead, but verbs are living. It’s about a four page explanation, but I want to share with you what I learned from the concept.

As long as things remain a verb, they are actively occurring. Once you place a noun on something, it ends.

Although I’ve often been told I’m a great writer, my professors constantly critique me for writing in passive not active voice. Think about it….passive voice kills it, active keeps it alive. Passive: the action has occurred. Active: the action is occurring.

Think of relationships you are in, whether with friends or partners. The relationships that succeed are the ones that have an expectancy. One expects (a verb) the other will always be there for them, support them, love them, care about them, etc. Relationships fail when one individual focuses on an expectation (noun). Expectations are set without clearly being communicated and the person living with expectations is constantly let down. I can see so many examples of this in my life and others’ around me.

Now, remember, this concept is coming from “the holy spirit.” She goes on to talk about law and abolishing law, which also related to nouns and verbs. I’m not sure how well-versed you are in biblical lingo, but the pre-Jesus days for the Jews were filled with endless laws and rules. Of course, everyone has heard of the ten commandments, which are certainly rules. In this passage my friend read, she completely discounts them. Get this concept…it left me in awe.

She said rules serve no purpose but for humans to abuse them and use them as a way to judge other people. All rules are written with dead nouns. She claims the law ended with Jesus, and he teaches to live in verbs, through our actions.

This is not meant to be a religious post. Break down this concept and see if you can apply it to your life. Think of as many verbs as you can in how we interact with others. How does it apply when we use the word as a noun, versus a verb?

Another example. Love is an action. To constantly show someone love is an ongoing process. However, feelings are hurt when love is limited and given a definition. Everyone shows love in different ways, but when made a noun it can kill a relationship. If love is gifts, or love is kisses, or love is a word, or love is time, then feelings are hurt when the “thing” is not being given. However, when you love (verb) someone, it becomes a more complex word and can’t be narrowed into a definition.

I started using this concept to evaluate how I communicate with others. If I communicate with verbs then I am constantly moving forward. But when I communicate in nouns, I am limiting myself.

Just as a heads up, this concept consumed a two hour conversation between eight people and the evening ended with some people in awe, and others still having no clue what we talked about. Leave feedback as to what you think. Some people completely disagreed with the thought, and others, like me, embraced it. What do you think? Are you living passively or actively?

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dsc_0038wYesterday, my husband and I spent most of the day in Ybor City to finish up the filming for my thesis/documentary/ethnographic study, as well as doing a photoshoot for my website I’m creating. The original plan was to shoot for the entire afternoon, and then after sunset have dinner at one of Ybor’s many killer restaurants (i.e. Spaghetti Warehouse, Tampa Brewing Co, Columbia). However, the day was full of unplanned circumstances, many of which brought humor to the day.

When we arrived, we saw people walking around in extravagent pirate outfits and decorative green costumes. In Ybor…you never know. Then we saw signs restricting parking in certain areas after 3pm “due to parade” . I asked two of the pirates what was going on, and turns out there was a St Patrick’s Day parade at 8 p.m. Needless to say, we encountered many drunk personalities in green attire throughout the day.

The filming/photography went great. But considering the crowds of people filling the streets, we had no desire to stay in Ybor for dinner. After brainstorming restaurants we decided on Maggiano‘s. After parking in the only available spot at the end of the row in Westshore Mall, we found out there was a 2 hour wait. P.F. Changs next door sounded great as well, also a two hour wait. I commented “If the economy is doing so poorly, shouldn’t there be some awesome restaurant in Tampa dying to have guests?” I really didn’t want to wait that long, considering it was already after 7:00.

Plan F was to go to Cheesecake Factory. The one hour wait seemed good enough to settle for. While waiting, we strolled through International Plaza. We stumbled on this little Sushi and Sake bar. Before making a reservation I wanted to glance at the menu; I know sushi places can get very high on the price tag sometimes.

When I walked in, the girl greeted me and said “You’re Sophia! Aren’t you?” Ummm…wow…considering I wasn’t wearing a nametag and had never seen this girl before, I was a little caught off guard. “I know you from Facebook.” And she proceded to list all these things she knew about me, as in where I went to middle school, high school, and college. As well as where I go to church, mutual friends we have, and that I was an editor on yearbook staff. Still a little in shock mode, I confirmed that indeed she was correct in her description of me.

As it turns out, she was in sixth grade when I was in 8th. I was yearbook editor-in-chief, and then I ran for President of the student body in 8th grade and won. So there were plenty of people who knew me, whom I may not have known. It happens pretty easily when you plaster posters with your picture and name everywhere trying to win people’s votes. I went on to be in the IB program at King High School, where her brother apparently went. Since she remembered me from middle school, she recognized my name in the newsletters and such. Post graduation, she found me on Facebook and had still been following me because of the things we had in common, which is how she knew so much information about me, and what I look like several years later.

It completely caught me off guard how someone could tell me so much about myself, and I didn’t even know her name. Now I consider myself to have made a new friend because she was such a sweetheart, and an awesome waitress. I love social media, as well as meeting new people. But it’s spooky to think that people can be learning so much about you, when in reality you’re strangers. I love learning from others, so the more people I know the better. But there’s this hesitant part of me that questions how good it is that I so greatly expose my personal life on the internet. What are your thoughts?

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. There was a reason we chose to do my shoot in Tampa. There was a reason we could not have dinner at Tampa Brewing Co, Spaghetti Warehouse, Columbia, PF Changs, Maggianos, or Cheesecake factory. (For those in Tampa…you know that’s a killer list of dining experiences!) We were meant to end up at Plan G, where by the way, there was no wait.

P.S. They have awesome sushi. And, my husband and I tried Sake for the first time. AWESOME! Very strong. Brandon said he didn’t know how people could take shots of this stuff…but don’t worry…I showed him it can be done. 😉

P.P.S. Here are a couple of the pics from yesterday’s shoot.

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As a student finishing up my degree is mass communication, I question if people truly understand that every decision you make communicates something about you. Though everyone recognizes the shallowness of society, it’s common knowledge that most people judge you by the first impression, much of which is decided before you open your mouth. How you dress and how you carry yourself are half of the keys to success in life.

As true as this rings for the individual, it applies to businesses and organizations as well. During any given month, I am working with around 80 clients who advertise in our magazine. Most of them are small businesses in Plant City and surrounding areas. My role is to be the liaison between the client and the publication, often communicating to our graphic artists how the clients want their ads designed. The job never gets dull because I am constantly meeting exciting people and helping them figure out how to spread their message.

However, every now and then I get a client who wants to hear no opinion of mine because they know exactly what they want. I listen carefully as they instruct me to fill their ad with loads and loads of information, not to mention the tacky borders and multiple starbursts. Our March issue went to press today, and I had one particular ad from a client that when I proofed the book and gave my signature of approval for it to run, I had to release a sad sigh. The ad was designed to the T how they described. They were so delighted when I showed them their proof because it was exactly what they wanted. In one full page ad there was at least 400 words broken into 8 bodies of text, at least a dozen different colors used, three picture, eight graphics, one shiny border, two headlines, and let’s not forget the FOUR starbursts.

When I sit down with a client to help them build their ad, my first question is “what do you want to communicate to the readers?” When businesses tell me “I have no idea what I want, here is my information do whatever you want,” they often end up with a clean, simple classy ad that clearly spreads their message. I tell my clients, “Someone needs to be able to recognize in half a second what you are advertising. That’s how long you have to grab their attention.” For the ones who listen, my favorite calls are “Thank you so much for your help! I got so much business off this ad! How much is it to upgrade?”

And then there are my starburst, colorful border, cluttered mess friends. Although I love the people and their businesses, their ads communication a message of “Hi…I’m a cluttered business who really can’t figure out which direction I want to go, can you guess what I sell?”

How do you teach other people how to communicate? I want to see my clients find success, but you can only give so much advice before you just have to listen, suck it up and give someone what they want. Any advice on how to help others help themselves?

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The Beginning

I blogged in high school, and it truly impacted my life, but as my responsibilities grew enormously in college, I slowly lost the habit. In fact, we rarely share this story because people think it’s strange, but I met my best friend, my kindred spirit, via blogging. We grew such a strong bond, that we were actually in each others’ weddings. During those moments when I feel there is no one who can understand what I am going through, or no one who would reserve judgment, she is my call. We’ve often called each other bawling as we try and battle life’s challenges together at 2:00 in the morning. I believe that blogging has to power to connect people who share common interests because it changed my life dramatically. Meryl Angelicola Pikett in Greensboro, N.C. is pretty much my twin sister from another mother, and thanks to social media we were united.

But as my college career comes to an end, I feel it’s time to re-enter the social media blogging sphere to pursue my love of commications and connect with others who share my passions. I will soon update with a formal post. I look forward to merging back into the blogging world…and I cannot really explain why I ever even left.

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