Travel Reflections

The below post originally appeared on my Instagram on October 29, 2017.

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“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” ✈️

As I return from traveling roughly seven out of the last nine weeks, I took (several) moments to reflect while sitting at the airport. Seeing new cities, states and counties gives me an energy you can’t find elsewhere.

I received many questions about why I chose to travel to South Korea for vacation, both from friends and family in the states and from strangers abroad. The obvious answer is because I had family to visit in part of the country but the other reason is because, why not?

In today’s society (especially in America) it’s ever more important to see the rest of the world, to learn how things are done in other cultures, to step outside of your comfort zone, to gain perspective, and to challenge yourself. Traveling develops character and open-mindedness, and traveling alone, you’ll better know yourself.

I’m thankful to have the means to travel, because I’ve committed myself to working hard and prioritizing it. I’m thankful for having family that inspires and encourages me to see the world. Even though I know my mom was a little worried about my traveling so close to North Korea alone, I’m grateful for the experience of exploring alone in Seoul. I remember growing up people were always sorry my extended family wasn’t all together for holidays. Alternatively, I see it as a blessing. I have relatives on both sides of my family living and moving around the globe, providing a map of new places to visit and built-in tour guides. I’m also thankful for my boyfriend, friends and colleagues who continue to love, stay friends with, and work with me even when I have a crazy schedule!

I don’t know how many miles I’ve traveled this year (thought I’ve flown 30,000+ since I’m now a silver medallion on Delta!), but I have at least four trips left before year end. After that, time to restock the piggy bank. Here’s to seeing the world and my next adventure!

Current count:
📍4 continents
🌍 14 countries
🇺🇸 28 states

My Goals…Halfway Through 2017

Oftentimes people set well-intended resolutions at the beginning of each year and forget about them within weeks. At my company’s annual retreat back in January we did something similar, setting goals for the year ahead at work. In addition to setting professional goals, we set personal goals, all of which corresponded to the company’s five values. Having structure provided a great twist on resolutions – and what better time to check in than halfway though the year? Here’s what I’m striving for in 2017.

Be a Knowledge Sponge

Professional goal: Receive a certification, such as Google Analytics or a university accredited continuing studies course.

Personal goal: Learn a new hobby, such as taking a photography course to better understand my DSLR camera.

Status: Incomplete. Time for me to get on this.

Share Your Talents

Professional goal: Lead a new program at my company, similar to when I headed-up our volunteering initiatives and helped with intern orientation.

Personal goal: Seek out new speaking engagements through my Public Relations Society of America involvement and Michigan State alumni network. And blog more!

Status: I’ve basically stayed stagnant with involvement in different organizations this year. Keeping in mind my other goals, it’s time to mix up my involvement to grow personally and advance the organizations I’m involved in.

Keep Promises

Professional goal: Try out new time management / to-do list tracking to manage my time, workload and expectations.

Personal goal: Respond to friends and ‘extracurriculars’ within 24 hours, even if I can’t complete a task for a few days. Keep self accountable for personal deadlines.

Status: While the workload in agency life is ever changing I think I’ve improved responsiveness in my personal life, but continuing to learn to manage my own expectations.

Embrace a Passion for Places

Professional goal: Seek out opportunities to visit client destinations more often, in a way that is beneficial to the client.

Personal goal: Stick to saving so I’m able to travel more and (one day) go on a trip alone.

Status: Still could save a bit more…but happy to say I’ve booked several trips this year and will be doing some sightseeing on my own! Stay tuned for recaps on my 2017 travel to Texas, Chicago, California, Louisiana, Boston, the Netherlands, Germany, and South Korea.

Pursue Happiness

Professional goal: Take breaks and remember that PR / marketing isn’t “life or death.”

Personal goal: Learn to say no. Be intentional in saying yes.

Status: I’ve worked hard at this and it’s beginning to pay off. Balance is key.

How are your 2017 goals going? It’s not too late to get where you want to be this year. Keep yourself accountable and get after those goals!

Group Fitness in Beer City

If you aren’t familiar with Michigan, you are probably wondering: What’s Beer City? It’s a nickname of Grand Rapids, voted Beer City USA in national polls. Western Michigan is also where I grew up. Every time I go home for the holidays, I’m on the hunt for a good workout. Spoiled by New York City studios, there isn’t as much to pick from in Michigan, but I have to say more and more options are popping up in the area and I’m no longer stuck working out in the family room or running through the snow. Read on for my reviews of four Grand Rapids-area group workouts!

FZIQUE

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credit: Fzique

Disclaimer: FZIQUE is in the process of moving studios and this review is from their original location. FZIQUE popped up in Grand Rapids a few years ago and I learned of it through a friend. Cycling-obsessed, I signed right up and was impressed that the class was professional, using clip-in shoes (it makes such a difference). Overall, the workout was great, considering there’s NO spin class competitors in the area (the YMCA, etc., doesn’t count). I’ve taken several classes at FZIQUE and appreciate how they take advantage of all positions on the bike and incorporate weights, though the style and quality seemed to vary a bit by instructor. The bikes are pretty good, though in the actual studio I wish they had a mirror on the wall. I’ve never been to an indoor cycling studio in NYC without one, and it really makes a difference mentally on pushing yourself, and checking form during class (maybe there will be a mirror at the new location). As cycling is my favorite type of workout, I really wish there were a spin competitor in the Grand Rapids area to compare FZIQUE to, but for now it definitely works! First class $10.

Pure Barre

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credit: pure barre

I’ll be honest, Pure Barre is good, but not my favorite, at least in NYC. It’s a workout that I do periodically if it fits in my schedule, usually when I don’t have time to sweat as much as in a spin class. Regardless, I am very pleased that because it is a franchise it has been expanding rapidly; I went to the Grand Rapids location and a Grandville studio is set to open soon (yay!). Thankfully, the class was nearly identical to the ones I take in NYC. It’s apparent that the training and quality of Pure Barre across locations remains the same. My favorite part of the particular class I took was the mix-up of music, they played a lot of throwbacks from five years ago that pumped me right up. And after class, it’s convenient to hit up Starbucks next door. First class is BOGO.

Beer City Barre

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Credit: Beer city barre

The name alone of Beer City Barre made me want to try it immediately – such a fun play on words! And as someone who enjoys the balance between the bar and barre, this place fits in the lifestyle. Beer City Barre is a new studio in Grand Rapids that teaches the Barre22 method and the owner, Cori, taught the class that I took with my friend Amanda. She was so welcoming and it immediately felt good to be supporting a local business; I wish I could come more often. The class went through the usual barre segments of arms, abs, legs and seatwork, and they all kicked my butt. I did enjoy that Cori’s class included ample stretching, which is crucial with the high repetitions. First class is free.

FLEXcity Fitness

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Credit: FLEXcity Fitness

I love a good HIIT class; it’s definitely one of my favorite workouts. Who wouldn’t want to maximize calorie burn? With barre, TRX, running, cycling, and body-weight exercises all in one studio, FLEXcity Fitness will keep you moving for an hour. I love a workout that will keep you dripping in sweat the entire class, and FLEXcity delivered. Having large windows that let in a lot of natural light during class is definitely different than the dimly lit studios in NYC, but it’s not necessarily a negative. Overall, the class seemed like a great option to mix up your workouts. I especially like how you can get in a little running while it’s cold outside, but not so much that you’ll get bored on the treadmill. If you’re on the other side of the state, FLEXcity also has locations in Lansing and Bloomfield Hills. First class is free.

Where do you workout in Grand Rapids? Total Body Bootcamp is still on my list and I need others to try (hopefully including new ones to open soon). The above studios definitely help me to stay in shape on vacation now. If you’re a studio-owner in the GR-area, I would recommend offering a “Home for the Holidays” package in the future so that out-of-towners can get their workout on for a discounted week unlimited, it definitely beats Planet Fitness for me!

All the Strong, Independent Ladies

It should come as no surprise that women are taking control of their own destiny more than ever before: from having greater career ambitions to marrying later in life to traveling farther. I recently read All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister and share my favorite quotes from the book, below.

If we want to account for the growing numbers of unmarried people in the professional world, we must begin also to account for the fact that it is not just brides, grooms, and new parents who require the chance to catch their breath, to flourish, and to live full lives. (141)

I truly believe that women should be financially independent from their men. – Beyonce (153)

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It is too rarely acknowledged that there are millions of ways that women leave marks on the world, and that having children is but one of them. (276)

I didn’t pursue people I wasn’t crazy about because I was busy doing other things that I enjoyed more than I enjoyed being with men I wasn’t crazy about…I wound up happily married because I lived in an era in which I could be happily single. (263)

We have to rebuild not just our internalized assumptions about individual freedoms and life paths; we also must revise our social and economic structures to account for, acknowledge, and support women in the same way in which we have supported men for centuries. (298)

atslFinal note: All the Single Ladies is by no means a book only for women that intend to never marry. It also provides a glimpse into why women are marrying later in life, after they’ve achieved what success is to them, on their own. While not a ground breaking book with new information, the book does provide a nice compilation of many sources you’ve probably read on singleness and feminism — it is “a nuanced investigation into the sexual, economic, and emotional lives of women in America.”

Work Life 2015

Last year was filled will many professional milestones, achievements, learning opportunities, and more. It was my first full calendar year of working full time and living in the same apartment. From traveling to a promotion, it was successful to say the least. Here are the highlights:

She Wolf of Wall Street

In July, I got to accompany Texas Governor Greg Abbott and delegation from the state to the New York Stock Exchange. After planning and implementing the visit, we got to watch the ringing of the Opening Bell and a live CNBC interview from the NYSE floor. Since walking down Wall Street every morning on my commute, I finally got to see what was behind the large pillars and security.

Triathlon Champion

Early August, I participated in my second DCI-sponsored race, this time the Central Park Triathlon. I placed first in my age group, winning a nice plastic trophy for my desk. The race consisted of a 400m pool swim, 12mi bike around the park and 3mi run mostly uphill — I clocked in at 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Dutch Dream

Taking a project on the road (or should I say: overseas), I escorted my first press trip — to the Netherlands, nonetheless! We hosted six American medtech journalists on a whirlwind four-day tour of the country. After, I went sightseeing for three days in Amsterdam, with stops including the Rijksmuseum, the Heineken Brewery and Amsterdam ArenA, where I attended the Amsterdam Music Festival (my first EDM event) with the world’s top DJs.

Power Presenter

After a fulfilling year on the PRSA New Professionals Section Executive Committee, I took my first trip to Atlanta to attend PRSA’s International Conference. I spoke on a panel about cross-training in your career, while also managing to attend a large number of sessions, catch up with old PR friends and explore the city.

An New Type of Executive

I can’t think of any better way 2015 could’ve wrapped up than my promotion at DCI to Account Executive. Adios to the ‘assistant’ on my business cards. Here’s to another great year with fulfilling client work and amazing colleagues.

Top Spots to Tap it Back in NYC

More than eight months into my ClassPass membership I’m finally writing the post I’ve been thinking about in my head after every spin and cycling class – a definitive guide to the best places to “Tap it Back” in NYC. This is a genuinely difficult topic to assess. With so many studios, they don’t all show up in Google searches, and when they do, each website seems to offer different information. There are pros and cons to the slew of studios across the city, so rather than list in order of preference, I’ve organized alphabetically to give my take on the best and mediocre parts of each ride and studio.


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AQUA Studio

Not your traditional cycling class, AQUA brings bikes underwater. What started as a European trend is now accessible in this NYC-only studio. While I would never replace my normal cycling with aquacycling full time, AQUA is a great way to mix up your workout a few times a month. The classes are small and you can get personal attention; that being said, this is definitely a low-impact workout where you get out what you put in. The studio is very boutique-y with high level clientele in Tribeca. Great locker room and amenities if you’re getting ready before work.

BFX

BFX Studio

BFX is one of few studios that uses the original Spinning method, while still getting a dedicated following of riders. While you can take the traditional Ride Republic class, BFX offers several other variations that let you ride for 30 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of TRX, HIIT, barre, and more — my favorite. BFX also has some of the best amenities around — plenty of showers and counter space to get ready.

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Cyc Fitness

Cyc Fitness is one of my of favorite studios and always one of the sweatier workouts. What sets Cyc apart is its heavy use of weights, throughout half of the ride, rather than just a few minutes. The weighted portions incorporate movements from other sports, creating an incredible full-body workout.  The lights and music never fail to disappoint, especially for someone like me, who loves to feel like they’re at an exclusive party and not the gym.

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FlowCycle

I find it crazy that FlowCycle is the only studio in Manhattan with RealRyder bikes, but it’s true! These bikes tilt 20 degrees to each side, giving you an experience most similar to riding outside, not to mention the screen that takes you on trails and roads across the country each ride. One thing to note is that since FlowCycle is in an office building, it’s a bit smaller and doesn’t offer showers.

Flywheel

Flywheel’s welcoming atmosphere and variety of instructors, from personality to playlists, is what I like most about this studio with several locations. They use ‘torq’ for resistance, tallying points of your total output and projecting them on an (optional) scoreboard — great for the competitive type. Flywheel also has their amenities down, with showers and beauty bars at every location.

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Monster Cycle + Studio

While the Monster Cycle may have an edgy vibe, it’s always a fun ride. The only studio with two huge projectors, you get to watch your favorite hip-hop videos while sweating it out. If seeing in-shape dancers isn’t motivation to ride harder, I don’t know what is.

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Peloton

Peloton is unique in that it utilizes a lot of technology to live-stream classes to riders at home — using the same bikes you use in the studio! Each ride is filmed and also includes a leaderboard for the competitive-types. It’s like many other indoor cycling classes, though the average age of clientele is slightly higher than other places.

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Revolve

I’ve found that Revolve, more than other studios, really focuses on indoor cycling as a benefit to true cyclists, whether you’re hitting the road for fun or training for a triathlon. The location is right in Union Square, and though the locker room is small, it has everything you need.

SoulCycle

SoulCycle is what made indoor cycling a “cult,” but I love it. How can you not be motivated when the mantra on the wall calls you an athlete, legend, warrior, renegade, and rockstar? — all while basically dancing on your bike. You’ll feel physically and emotionally refreshed after every ride. (*note: SoulCycle is the only studio on this list that is not included on ClassPass.)

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Studio 360

My favorite part of Studio 360 is that after your first ride, they’ll take note of your bike settings, and set it up before your next class! Talk about customer service. Try out the Signature Series class for a solid 45 minutes of cycling followed by 20 minutes of yoga for your cool-down stretch.

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Swerve

Swerve’s team atmosphere takes the technology and competition of tracking your ride, while splitting the class into three colors, that you work with for the highest score. One great thing about Swerve is the emphasis they put on riding to the beat, which not every studio does. Full amenities make me a regular here.


I’m looking to venture a little further this fall and try out Crank Cycling Studio, BYKLYN, T2 Multisport, Revolutions 55 and Torque Cycling & Fitness.

What are your favorite cycling studios in the Big Apple and across the country? Let me know and I’ll see you on a bike!

Who run the world?

Girls.

In the public relations industry women make up nearly 85 percent of the workforce. The New York Magazine article “Why Do We Treat PR Like a Pink Ghetto” examines the work thousands of young women are doing, that many others label as ‘fluff.’

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Publicists are often made fun of for a lack of intelligence, when actually the complete opposite is more accurate. Public relations is a need for any organization, individual or industry, therefore PR pros know a little bit about a lot – and what they don’t know, they’re quick to research. An invisible trade, PR is noticed when it goes bad, but little regard is taken to the hard work when a coveted placement is earned or event pulled off.

Back to the first point, there aren’t many men in public relations. Do they not see the role as tough-enough? Are there gender stereotypes in the profession? Do women in PR have a barrier to overcome seeing as the industry is not gender-diverse?

I would say yes to all.

Labeled as ‘fluff’ here are some of the accomplishments PR girls (and guys) accomplish daily:

  • Top-tier (that means Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, NBC, ABC and more) placements for clients
  • An understanding of news – beyond just theSkimm, we know headlines relevant to the world
  • Juggling hundreds of emails regarding numerous clients

If you’re looking for a good read, don’t forget this article. While you’re at it, read more about women juggling careers here and the future of public relations here.

Explaining My Job in EconDev

In high school I barely knew what public relations was; last summer I didn’t understand economic development. If you asked me what career path I wanted to take when growing up, it ranged from a fashion designer to an actuarial scientist. Needless to say, my studies changed direction a few times, and after several internships I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in Advertising and Public Relations. Working at a “place marketing” agency for three months now, my clients include economic development organizations of all sizes, from international countries, to states, cities and regions in the U.S.

Working in such a nice area of PR, I often get questions about what it is I do, exactly.

Business Dictionary defines economic development as progress in an economy, or the qualitative measure of this. Economic development usually refers to the adoption of new technologies, transition from agriculture-based to industry-based economy, and general improvement in living standards.

Taken with a grain-of-salt, Wikipedia also adds that economic development can be referred to as the quantitative and qualitative changes in the economy.

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Generally, I explain my job as promoting business where my clients are located. Economic development to me means bettering the quality of life for a group of people through creation of jobs. This happens when companies expand or relocate, or when new companies start. Often, large companies can have significant impact on communities through the related jobs. Having a strong source of talent through local higher-education institutions, workforce development programs and quality of infrastructure are many factors corporations consider when deciding where to locate.

As a simple example, let’s say that a brand new-amusement park is opening in Kansas. The park will need employees, creating more than 1,000 jobs. The entertainment company will invest $3 million for property, while the community will add an additional $2 million in incentives to attract them to their region. As a side effect, more hotels and restaurants will open in the area, to accommodate the anticipated tourists. More employees will be needed to staff these establishments and an increase in tourist activity will bring more money into the local economy.

While that is a very top-line example, economic development happens across all industries from manufacturing to aviation, pharmaceuticals and research to logistics and supply chain, financial establishments and information technology.

I’ve been writing daily for economic development clients through pitches, press releases, articles, social media and more. Working for an agency, it’s my team’s job to get favorable stories about clients’ communities into top-tier and trade publications. We also work on projects to strategically market and promote places, through branding, events and more. And that is why I enjoy working in economic development: I feel that it is an area of public relations in which I can make a noticeable difference in the world and make a name for myself in the profession.

My top reads for industry news? Bloomberg Businessweek, The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Atlantic CityLabs and Area Development. Are you in economic development? How do you explain it? I’d love to hear your favorite parts about the job and how you got into the field.

Distinguishing Discipline

0dee07f500571f0f80433da936e1ae51Last month my dad gave me an article that about self-control. Something we learn at a young age and practice everyday, self-control is not something we often think about consciously.  Summarizing the article and adding my own thoughts, this can be a solid reflection on how you’re living life.

Self-control is the quality that distinguishes the fittest to survive. – George Bernard Shaw

Whether it’s physical or mental control, being aware of your surroundings and actions will ensure consistency and balance – at work, at home, with family/friends and more.

To be aware of self-control think about the following aspects of your life and take time to make the changes needed to climb a ladder of success:

  • Work Ethic: Are you working the best you can? Are you working hard or working smart? Are you outworking your competition?
  • Fitness: Is physical exercise part of your daily regimen? Is your endurance at it’s peak? Do you eat balanced meals?
  • Character: Are you a leader or a follower? Do you stand up for what you believe in? Do you have a passion? Do you too frequently fall into peer pressure?
  • Appearance: Do you make an impression? Do you allow yourself ample time for rest? How do you carry yourself? Do you put yourself together regularly? Are you confident?
  • Demeanor: Can you hold a conversation with a stranger? Are you a team player? Are you respectful? Do you consider your actions effects on others?

The easy part of self-control is finding natural talents, be it a sport or form of art. What gets hard is discipline. Whatever you do in life will follow you; your story is written in stone, not pencil. If you aren’t striving to achieve more there will be no meeting of goals. So get out there, and realize your dreams!

Click on the photo to buy this wall decal.

Click on the photo to buy this wall decal.

Recognizing Life’s Pace

T I M E /tīm/ noun
the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.

It just hit me that time has been a common theme this summer. First, it’s been a long time since I blogged (more details on why, to come).  Second, time has flown by as it’s already the “end” of summer, with August right around the corner. Third, now that I’m in my first full-time job, time is of the essence, whether it’s remembering to do your time sheets or analyzing work-life balance.

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Honestly more as a reflection post, I’ve realized that I miss blogging and have been struggling to figure out when to fit in time to write (and read) more, for leisure.  Whatever your passions are and you enjoy doing, you need to make a priority. I love writing: I’m fortunate to write most days at work and continue to learn a lot. With that, many days I become either: burnt out and need a break of writing when I get home, so my personal projects get cut; or simply busy with plans to meet friends, head to the gym or climb into bed.

One of the most common questions that come up when strangers engage in conversation is, “What are your hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?” While this should be a simple question, it is often broad and hard to respond – yet the answer can uncover similarities between two friends and help anyone get to know each other. I don’t know how many times I’ve answered something along the lines of being so busy that I don’t have “down” time and that when I do, I’m trying to make time for friends.  Reality check: something’s got to give and I need to make time for me, doing things I enjoy – regularly. It’s not healthy to not have a hobby or something you enjoy doing.

Public Relations is a career that almost always requires a lot of hours of work and for less pay than those working similar hours on Wall Street. Other careers aren’t the same.  Whatever your field, I’ve realized that if you enjoy what you’re doing you cannot compare hours, workload or anything office related with others. Whether it’s you or your roommate who work the 9-5 job, and the other whose hours are always changing, it’s a waste of time to play the “my day was so long” card at home. No matter how many hours you work, someone will always say they had a rough day when you think yours was so much worse. When it comes to talking hours, I’d advise keeping quiet, just as is frequently the case with religion and politics.

Time moves quickly. Don’t let it pass you by. Make the most of every moment starting now; after all, your life is the indefinite progress of existence.