Tag Archives: life lessons

Confessions of a middle school idiot

It’s confession time. Confession #1: I love Bethenny Frankel. I admit I faithfully watched all the Real Housewives of New York and continue to watch every other show she is featured on the Bravo Network. So, when I found out she was speaking at a women’s expo in my town, I didn’t hesitate to purchase tickets. I love her frank nature and tell-it-like-it-is personality. After seeing her speak in person, I have even more respect for her than before. She spoke mostly from the point of view of her recent book “A Place of Yes.” In her talk, she mentioned how as women we hear the word “No” many times in business and in life. She talked about the recent sale of her alcohol line and how she heard “No” multiples times just getting the business started. Bethenny said women who want to be in business can’t take no for an answer and must keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.

This brings me to my second confession: I was in a remedial English class in middle school. I was the only girl in a class full of  rowdy boys and thought I was an idiot because I wasn’t in a “normal” course with the rest of my friends. Fast forward many years later, I now have a degree in communications and even minored in journalism. I love writing and consider it one of my strong suits. Had I let other people tell me I couldn’t write or wasn’t good at writing, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Studying communications and media opened my interest in design and lead me to now studying graphic design.

After listening to Bethenny speak, I thought about all the times I’ve let the word no slip in my brain and let it effect my course of action. There have been times when I refused to let no direct my path, but there have also been times when the self-doubt heard “No” and I went running in the opposite direction. So, like Bethenny, from here I will be coming from a place of yes. Who would have thought one could learn life lessons from a reality television star?

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The things you learn from 30+ sleepless hours

Thank you notes from Dalewood students on display. Credit: UTC Department of Art, CreateAthonCHA 2011

CreateAthon onCampus was one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve been through in quite a while. The creative output was intended for Dalewood Middle School, but I think I might have gotten as much as Dalewood out of the whole experience…maybe more. After ruminating on the weekend for a day or two (and getting back on a regular sleep schedule) I’ve come to some fabulous realizations from the event:

Our city is full of extremely talented professionals
CreateAthon had over 40 mentors involved and many of them stayed the entire 24 hours. They were as committed to the cause as the students were. They gave sound advice, insight into the working world, leadership, and encouraging words to everyone. Meeting these mentors makes me even more excited to get out into the working world because I know Chattanooga has a great camp of professionals to work with.

The place you want to be isn’t always the place you need to be.
I was assigned to the documentation team, and I will admit, it wasn’t my first choice. I thought it would be sort of a bummer that I wouldn’t actually be designing anything (at least in the literal sense). I don’t have much film or video experience and wasn’t really sure what I could contribute to the team. But as the 24 hours unfolded, I began to realize the unique position of the documentation team: we had the fortunate position to see all the other teams to create and interact. It was fascinating to see the groups evolve over the 24 hours! I also had the great fortune of conducting some one-on-one interviews. All I can say is wow! I had goosebumps multiple times and I think an “Amen” or “Hallelujah” might have slipped in there once or twice. The nuggets of goodness they were offering and listening to how these people had been touched by the whole event was inspiring and heartwarming. I felt I was in the right place at the right time in my position on the doc team.

Being apart of the doc team also sparked a desire to learn more about film and cultivate my love of photography. I never thought I would be as interested as I am now about video production and editing, but the day after CreateAthon, I was online searching for editing software and new a camera to purchase. So while it might not have been my first choice, my position on the doc team was exactly where I needed to be.

Others successes can be as fulfilling as your own
There were so many proud “big sister” moments for me during CreateAthon. Watching a few classmates embrace and flourish in their leadership roles, seeing others display focus and drive to finish projects, and watching them learn new skills and interact like true professionals instead of merely students made me feel so proud to be in their company. Watching my classmates grow professionally and as individuals might be my favorite part of the whole event.

3:00 A.M. is when you really know a person
I had the pleasure of working with some teammates who I didn’t know as well, especially the seniors in my group. Getting to know them through this project was a crash course in classmate bonding. When you are on hour Number 19 without sleep, the conversations can get crazy good. When all is said and done and we can laugh about toothpaste conversations and throwing things at each other…well, that’s bonding. Every one of my teammates has a special place in my heart after CreateAthon, even if their dancing skills may not. (I kid, I kid)

Making change starts with a small step
There were a few naysayers we came in contact with, mostly questioning what can we really do in just 24 hours. Change has to start somewhere and why not start with a powerhouse 24-hour marathon? When you add the amount of people involved in CreateAthon times 24 hours each, that’s a lot of brainpower working for one cause. There is some sort of magic that happens when you’re working on no sleep and pure adrenaline.

I love Chattanooga more now than ever
When I moved from Indiana to Chattanooga about two and a half years ago, I immediately fell in love with the city. The beauty of the environment, the bustling and promising downtown, the people, the energy and the potential all make Chattanooga a great place to live. All of these elements were highlighted this weekend by the overwhelmingly positive response to the unique opportunity CreateAthon provided for our area. The people of this city have made Chattanooga what it is today and that makes it an even greater place to be.

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Things I have learned in {this semester} so far

drift wood made beautiful by the elements

Things I’ve have learned in my life this far…a few reflections on the past semester.

Be quiet

I can be quite the talker and I am always more than willing to contribute to any classroom conversation. Yet, this semester I realized that my egarness to share may be inhibiting those who are less inclined to speak up in class. My disdain for awkward pauses will always come with a constant inner struggle for me to remain silent and let others speak. I don’t like dead air and feel like someone has to get the conversation started, but I’m working on letting others be that person. This, I feel, will always be an active process for me.

Ask questions (and find the answers)

I don’t know everything and would be hard pressed to meet someone who does. So asking questions is imperative. Yet, sometimes the best answer can be found by myself. Having the ability to find answers is much more important than having all the answers. I’ve found I learn and retain more information by finding the answer myself.

Relationships are important

This semester, I had class with the same people for six hours straight twice a week. And we were all together in another class on the opposite two days of the week. So, to say we’ve become like a family is an understatement. In a fairly competitive program, it would be my first assumption to think we would all become super competitive with each other. Yet quite the opposite has happened. My classmates constantly strive to make their own work stand out and it creates a positiveness throughout and pushes me to be better. We encourage each other, we laugh with each other, sometimes we air our frustrations, but all in all I truly enjoy spending time with my class.

Prepare for the worst

Murphy’s Law says everything that can go wrong will. Every major project I had due first thing Monday morning this semester came with major printing issues. Power outages, technical glitches, tornados; you name it, we encountered it. Finding ways to make projects happen after a tornado whipped through town will certainly make me a designer who can weather the storm…no pun intended.

Face your fears

Web media has been a semester long exercise in facing my fear of all things web design. I always looked at writing markup as some crazy mathematical language that I knew nothing about. But as I worked my way through the semester, I actually found myself enjoying it. And more importantly, understanding it.

While this was one of the more stressful semesters of my career, it was in so many ways one of the best. I know each semester will just continue to exceed my expectations in more ways than I can imagine. At this holiday season, I am beyond thankful for teachers who inspire, classmates who encourage, and being blessed to study something that brings me joy.

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