Each year, thousands of organizations across the country reach out to their supporters for an end-of-year donation. I wrote and designed this letter for a non-profit that specializes in educational programs for emerging business leaders.
Recently, I had the chance to showcase my copywriting and design skills for HousingScout.com. Each year, this Texas based company helps thousands of college students find a place to rest their head. But, they're so much more than your average real estate company. Their hip, modern finds ensure that the college experience is far beyond ordinary! (Where was this when I was in college?)
All that and a bag of chips!
These days, businesses and organizations need the whole package. From website content to printed brochures, having a complete marketing kit is no longer a nicety.
No matter what your business needs to succeed, we can help make that happen. Whether your online content needs updating, or you'd like to impress with a full-color print magazines, I can help take your business to the next level!
Let your customers know what's happening with a regular newsletter. This piece was written for a dance studio that wanted to keep in touch with its patrons throughout the spring.
When I was asked to create some fun pieces for a rustic, country wedding, I jumped at the chance! These pieces not only fit the setting, but became keepsakes after the big day was over.
Capturing the fine arts on camera has always been a passion of mine. Mix pointe shoes with a bit of sunshine, and that's my idea of photography heaven. The photos below are all from recent outdoor photoshoots.
While there are many options on the market today, some professionals enjoy have that unique "one-of-a-kind" card. These cards were created for an up-and-coming photographer who wanted to give her business a polished look.
In addition to creating these darling shirts, I had the chance to make the banner ads for them as well!
Do you want to share your organization's success with others? A glossy magazine not only looks great, it speaks volumes about your accomplishments! We photographed, wrote and provided the layout for this 32-page piece. Let's touch base to see how we can do the same for your business!
Leadership Southern Maryland provides a variety of programs for teens and executive leaders who are eager to make a difference in their community. Recently, they added a new program for emerging business leaders. This flyer is aimed at corporations who have employees interested in participating.
What do you do when an old friend asks for a new logo? You get the "root" of the issue and make her something memorable! For this project, we gave her three different options to work with. Can you guess which one she picked?
We’ve all been in a job situation that’s less than stellar. But, at what point do you tip the scales from being a happy, willing employee to one who cannot give one more hour of your time.
Whether your organization has become one you couldn’t support, or the environment has become toxic, it’s time to take a hard look at your options.
BOTTOM LINE: YOU’RE BORED
If you’re working on autopilot, the doldrums have probably set in. You punch the clock and do the same tasks day in and day out. There’s nothing new or unfamiliar, and your brain hasn’t been challenged since, well…you don’t actually remember being challenged to begin with. Every day, you watch the clock until it’s an acceptable hour to leave. Then, you make a mad dash to meet your friends where you moan and groan about your job. Your weekends slip by impossibly fast and before you know it, it’s Monday all over again.
TO QUIT OR NOT? It might sound like an obvious reason to quit, but hold your horses for just a moment. Have you approached your boss about taking on a new challenge? What about transferring to a different department or learning a new skill? If the company is a good one, you’ll benefit from staying on and checking out what else they have to offer.
However, if you feel like you’ve done everything you can to learn from your role and your company, then it may be time to look elsewhere.
STRESS AND ANXIETY TO THE MAX
It’s Sunday afternoon. While most of your friends and family and enjoying what’s left of the weekend, you’re anything but relaxed. The thought of heading into the office is overwhelming you. In fact, even thinking about what happens at work fills you with dread and you come home angry or crying at least one day each week.
TO QUIT OR NOT? If you can’t remember the last time you were happy at work, it’s time to start looking for something else. If your stress is a simple “I work too hard” or I don’t like my commute,” than hang in there for a bit longer and address those specifics with your supervisor. (Delegation and teleworking, anyone?) This is especially important if you have no other source of finances.
However, if you’re dealing with harassment or inappropriate behavior, it’s time to break up. Remember that work every work relationship comes to an end at some point. And keep in mind that you deserve basic consideration and respect. If you’re being treated unfairly – or things are getting downright rude – it’s time for a change. Make sure you’re connecting with your human resources department. Fill them in on what’s going on and make sure you document every incident.
YOU CHOOSE THE WRONG JOB
Whoops. You had two job offers to pick from and you chose wrong. (Hindsight is 20/20, right?) Not only do you think your line or work isn’t for you, but you’re envious of your friends who are have different careers. You feel like your skills aren’t being used and it’s just not what you had in mind when you accepted the offer. Whatever the issue is, you’re ready for something different.
TO QUIT OR NOT? Don’t quit yet. You made the leap without really thinking it through the first time, so let’s not make that mistake again. Do you already have a plan in place?
One sure-fire way to test it out is to make your dream career a side-hustle. Would you rather be designing websites? Offer to put together a simple site for a friend’s company. This way, you’ll see firsthand if you expectations match the reality BEFORE you make the leap. If you foresee your new venture paying the bills, then get your plan together and follow your dreams.
THE AWFUL BOSS
No matter what you’ve tried, you just can’t see eye-to-eye with your boss. Maybe he or she is a controlling micromanager when you’re perfectly capable of doing your job well. Or, maybe they’re happy to point out a mistake despite the fact that your performance is normally stellar. And, have you ever met an ego that was THAT BIG?
TO QUIT OR NOT? Jobs are like houses. The more you’ve experienced, the more you learn about what you like. Maybe you discovered that you love having an open floor plan or that you never want to deal with a laundry room on the first floor again. The next time you’re in the market for a house you know what to look for – and what to avoid. The same goes for your boss. Though the nice ones are great, we often learn the most from the miserable ones.
Some bosses think that turning up the heat motivates their employees. And while it does exactly that for some, it may do nothing but drive you away. If you’ve talked with your supervisor about what works well for you and nothing has changed, it may be time to revamp your resume.
Some final thoughts...
Remember how I said that every job comes to an end? When you’ve decided that it’s time to move on, do just that. Instead of holding on to it and potentially overstaying your welcome, you need to exit gracefully. Don’t forget to hold your head up high as you move on to the next amazing career adventure. Remember you ARE valuable and when you find the right position for you, both you and your employer will feel valued to have one another.
Is Your Job Stressing You Out?
If you have a rotten boss or irritating co-workers, beware. It may not be just your job that's on the line! A toxic work environment that includes back stabbing and insults can quickly take your morale and throw it out the window. But, what is it actually doing to your health?
The percentage of Americans who are stressed at work is already high, and it’s only getting worse. Studies at the CDC’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health have found the number of Americans who are “extremely stressed at work” range between 29 to 40 percent. That means that nearly half of us are feeling overwhelmed!
How many times have you watched someone get a promotion and your hard work goes unnoticed. Or, maybe you've tried to offer insight to management, but it falls on deaf ears. Working in that kind of environment can make you sick - really sick. While we often think of stress as something that's more mental, our body actually sends us warning signals when an environment becomes too much to handle.
Stress affects everyone differently. Some ways that chronic or long-term stress affects us include:
Sound familiar? If you're suffering from workplace stress, here are some good ideas that may help you feel calmer.
Start Your Day on a Relaxed (and Nutritious) Note
After scrambling to get your kids off to school, dealing with the inevitable traffic (not to mention a dose of road rage) and gulping down coffee instead of something healthy, many of us are stressed before we even hit the office. In fact, you may be even more reactive at work if you've already had a stressful morning! If you start off the day with good nutrition and some proper planning, you might find the stress of the workplace rolling off your back more easily.
Solve the morning dilemma by getting up 15 minutes earlier than you normally do. If you have school-aged kids, pack the non-refrigerated items the night before. Make sure the whole gang rounds up their homework, school books, field-trip forms, and lunch money so that they are "grab-n'-go" ready the next day. (Bonus points if your kids even find their shoes - both of them - the night before!)
Then, remember to treat yourself in the morning. Don't just grab a granola bar for the road. Make sure your first meal of the day contains a protein boost to get your brain ready for what lies ahead.
A Drama-Free Zone
Do you have a co-worker who loves to share the latest office gossip? Maybe you've inadvertently become the subject of the gossip yourself. Workplace conflict can take a toll on your physical and emotional health. You may feel tired or downright sick about heading into work when you know that something's brewing. Because conflict among co-workers is so difficult to escape, it’s a good idea to avoid it as much as possible.
While it can be tricky, it boils down to steering clear of "colorful" office humor and keeping your opinions on religion and politics to yourself. Don't advertise anything too personal on social media - especially if you're connected with your co-workers. (The photos of your "amazing night out with friends" may be easily misconstrued by those who are looking to stir the pot.)
Walk at Lunch
Do you find yourself sitting for hours behind a computer screen? Desk jockeys often deal with an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle. One way to combat that and manage your work stress is to get some exercise during your breaks. Even taking a short walk around your office building can help put the day into perspective. Not only will exercise help blow off steam, but you may feel better physically after changing your environment.
But what if you don't have a good space to enjoy the outdoors? Why not bring your favorite book to work and force yourself to step away from your desk for 30 minutes each day. Find a quiet spot to read and simply focus on something beyond your computer screen.
Fix Your Work Environment
One surprising work stressor is physical discomfort. Is your office chair the worst one in the building? If you live in that chair when you’re at work, you can have a sore back and be more reactive to stress because of it. What about your keyboard? Does it drive you crazy with keys that are missing or simply don't work? Let your supervisor know that you could do with some new equipment. Or, do I what I did, and simply purchase your own! (Make sure you take it with you if you decide to leave your employer.)
A Difficult Boss
Do you have a boss who makes unreasonable requests? Many supervisors aren't very well tuned in when it comes to understanding what's happening beyond their office door.
Keep the line of communication open with your boss. Don't let a closed door stop you from making an appointment to see him or her. When you're able to meet, tell your boss how many projects you have on your plate. Next, express your opinion without emotion. For example, you might say, "I love working on these projects, but I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I want to make sure I'm doing a good job, but I'm not sure that it's possible for me to work faster to get it all done. Right now, I'm concerned that I won't meet your deadline."
This does two things. First, it tells your boss that you're overloaded. It also says that you care about your work - and getting it done properly. Unless he or she is an ogre, they'll realize that this a good moment to re-evaluate your workload.
Do you have a suggestion on how it might be managed? Provide your professional opinion without adding any drama. You might say something along the lines of, "I'd be happy to tackle ABC, and Co-worker Joe might be a good fit to assist with XYZ since he's done it in the past." Your boss may be able to extend the deadline or assign it to another employee. (DON'T say, "I had to take the project from Co-worker Joe because he didn't do it right last time.")
Finally, leave the conversation on a positive note. Show appreciation for the support you get from your boss. He or she will be glad to stay in the loop and may even be more cognizant of what's happening with your workload in the future.
We saved the best for last. There's nothing more frustrating than working alongside someone who makes it clear that you're on their hit list. The fact of the matter is that you probably won't click with everyone in your office. There are always people who are disgruntled with their work - or their personal lives. They bottle up all of their negativity and spew it on those who cross their paths.
"If you don't have a natural rapport with someone, you've got to create it," says Karen Leland, president of Sterling Consulting Group and author of Watercooler Wisdom: How Smart People Prosper in the Face of Conflict, Pressure, and Change. Learn to understand and evaluate a co-worker's style," she says. Once you do that, you can be "in step" with just about everyone you work with.
We've all known individuals who create "workplace cancer" - a poisonous atmosphere for those around them. If you find yourself working side-by-side with that personality type, keep it professional. Alert your human resources department if he or she is intentionally unfair or nasty toward you. You don't deserve to be in an unhealthy environment, and your employer should become involved if things go sour.
Sometimes, you may need to walk away from a job to save your health. If your stress level is building and you discover that there's no good solution to be had, it's time to start looking at your options. Check out your alternatives and begin putting feelers into the marketplace. If you have a trusted friend, seek them out and ask for advice. It never hurts to dust off your resume and update your profile on LinkedIn. Let others know that you are open to new opportunities and see what's available. Best of all, you may land yourself a new job that allows you to feel more relaxed and free!
Last night, I saw a group of teens huddled at a table in a restaurant that was hopping with great music and food. Instead of downing milkshakes and causing a riot, these kids were completely focused on their phones. No one was talking, giggling or even making eye contact. Yet, their fingers moved at lightning speed across their screens. Had I just witnessed new-age communication at its finest – or worst?
A recent study says that there are now more than 3.1 billion social media users in the world.¹ With just over 7 billion people populating the earth, nearly half of the planet is now using social media to share their latest escapades, family photos, or simply what they had for breakfast. But, was this the true intention of social media when it was created?
At its best, social media allows us to share memories and highlights with others who can’t be physically with us. However, a study that was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that men and women ages 19 to 32 with high social media usage felt more socially isolated than those who were not online as frequently.² So, why does something that was created to connect us actually end up doing just the opposite?
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses,” you understand that many of us care a whole lot about what other people think, how they look, or what they own. Social media encourages us to compare ourselves and flaunt our social status to anyone who will listen. And, let’s face it, people tend to feel bad when comparing themselves to others. Worse yet, social media has become an addiction for many. In fact, neuroscientists have shown that recognition by our peers activates a release of dopamine in our brain.³ That means, we’re chemically rewarding ourselves each time someone responds positively to our posts. Although it’s not as intense as a cocaine hit, that wonderful feeling leaves us wanting more.
Have you ever used a photo filter? Most of us have enjoyed making a blemish disappear or a wrinkle fade into oblivion. It’s fun to see our younger, prettier side emerge, and it’s even more exciting to see the reactions from friends who feel obligated to shower us with compliments. While it may be harmless to post your latest vacation photos or make the zit of the century a little less obvious, the truth is that we create a reel of life’s highlights. My guess is that you’ve never shared a photo of the mess your dog left on your new rug or the failing grade you got even after pulling an all-night study session. Those moments are so real, and yet, we have no desire to pollute our personal pages with negativity. When others see only our shining moments, they begin to wonder why their lives aren’t as beautiful and fun filled.
While social media certainly has its benefits, it seems to me that it’s left our youth unable to socialize. We keep our phones in hand just in case we’re needed – or the perfect photo opportunity arises. And while it’s easy for us to say “don’t believe everything you see,” it’s difficult to do that when scrolling through hundreds of photos that showcase a perfect existence. Unless people begin embracing themselves once more and accepting the good, bad and ugly that life can bring, social media will continue to torment our society. The next time you decide to check your Instagram or Facebook page, ask yourself first, “Is this really worth my time?”
Everyone loves an icy glass of lemonade, a sweet scoop of lemon meringue, or even decorating with a bowl full of these delicious tarts. But did you know that there are a ton of uses for lemons outside your kitchen?
It turns out that your skin and hair love lemons, too! Lemons have a wide range of beauty benefits, so check out our top ten list!
1. Skin Lightener (Your Knees and Elbows will Thank You!)
Lemons are rich with vitamin C, a natural brightening agent. If the skin on your elbows and knees appears to be darker than you'd like, simply rub them with half of a lemon and watch the magic happen! (You can even remove a fake tan!) Don't forget to apply your favorite SPF since lemon juice (and other citrus fruits) can make your skin extra sensitive to UV rays.
2. Refreshing Face Wipes
After a long day, your skin is need of a pick-me-up! Try mixing a couple drops of lemon and tea tree essential oil in six ounces of water. (Distilled water is recommended for the best results.) Then, dip a clean cloth or cotton pad in the mix and gently dab on your skin to feel refreshed!
3. Zesty Smile Brightener
If you've ever whitened your teeth with an over-the-counter product, chances are your teeth have felt ultra sensitive afterwards. Why not try something natural instead? Mix baking soda and lemon juice together, and apply it to your teeth with a clean Q-tip. Want a more tropical experience? Mix 1 part coconut oil to 1 part baking soda. Then, add a drop of lemon and brush away! Finally, rinse and check out your brilliant new grin!
4. Pimple-Zapping Moisturizer
Lemons have wonderful antibacterial properties, which makes them perfect for nixing breakout-causing bacteria. Mix an equal amount of coconut water and lemon juice in a small container. The coconut will hydrate your skin, and the lemon will leave your skin feeling clean and bright! If your skin is sensitive, consider testing a small area first.
5. Go Away, Blackheads!
Let's go beyond pimples to dealing with those pesky blackheads! Did you know that lemons contains citric acid, which is a natural form of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). (Who knew lemons were our superhero?) After washing your face, rub a fresh slice of lemon over your T-zone and let the AHAs work their pore-clearing magic.
6. So Long, Shiny Skin
While we all love a good glow, sometimes our skin has other ideas! The citric acid inside lemon juice works as a natural toner. If you're prone to a more oily complexion, begin by cleansing your face first. Then, soak a cloth or cotton pad in few drops of lemon juice and gently wipe it over face. Boom! Shine is stopped in its tracks!
7. Strong As Nails
Are you prone to weak or breaking nails? We've got the fix! Mix olive oil with lemon juice and soak your nails for 10 minutes. Not only will this strengthen dry and brittle nails, but it's also a great way to whiten any yellowed tips!
8. Kiss Winter Lips Goodbye
If colder weather has left your lips a little lackluster, mix a few drops of lemon juice with some brown sugar to create your own lip scrub! The AHA in lemon juice will work to loosen dead skin cells while the sugar will help to slough off any dead skin. Of course, if your lips are severely chapped, this isn't a good idea! Visit your dermatologist for the best options on restoring your skin.
9. Summer Highlights
If your hair is already on the lighter side, you can add natural DIY highlights with a few drops of lemon juice. Simply pour lemon juice in a spray bottle and gently mist on your hair before hitting the beach. Score trendy ombré locks by just focusing the lemon juice on the tips of your hair instead!
10. Dandruff Flake Fix
While it won't cure the problem, this awesome fruit will help you take control over dandruff flakes! To get a handle on the issue, massage lemon juice into your scalp and leave it on for ten minutes. Afterwards, shampoo and condition as usual.