Friends can be good for you too

Since friendship is a frequent topic for my blog these facts from Glamour resonated with me.

They make you live longer. Strong friendships boost your chances of a longer life by 50 percent, research has found. But low social interaction packed the same bad-health punch as smoking 15 cigarettes a day!

They keep you well. Studies show women with supportive friends sleep and manage stress better and bounce back faster from diseases.

They make life’s hurdles bearable. Researchers from the University of Virginia took students wearing heavy backpacks to the base of a hill and asked them to estimate how steep it was. Guess what? Students who stood next to a friend said the hill looked less intimidating than those who were alone. Says study coauthor Dennis R. Proffitt, Ph.D.: “Being with—or even thinking about—our friends lightens the load.”

Have you picked up the phone today? Send a note to let your friends know how grateful you are to have them in your life.

Bring the Happy


A year ago I wrote about the difficulties of Alzheimer’s and how my family was dealing with my great aunt Stephanie’s failing memory. I find myself writing again about my stand-in grandma following the news of her passing this week.

Being away from home brought the realization I could not be with my family and say goodbye to Auntie Steph. As such, I was in need of a pick-me-up.

I attended a screening for the documentary Happy. This film details the definition across the globe seeking input from all kinds of people – from psychologists and neurologists in the U.S. to 100+ year olds in Okinawa, Japan. The documentary discusses how happy people tend to be more resilient and face challenges more effectively. A quote highlighted in the film sticks with me. Benjamin Franklin said, “The U.S. constitution does not guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it. You have to catch up with it yourself.”

How can you bring the happy to yourself and others every day?
•    Write letters. Auntie Stephie and I were pen pals throughout college. I looked forward to holding the cards she took the time to send me and to this day, I constantly find them in journals and boxes – lovely reminders of an amazing woman.
•    Perform random acts of kindness. Why not surprise a fellow coffee drinker by picking up their order? Strive to pay it forward in your every day.
•    Tell stories. Auntie Steph was quite the storyteller. She always had a lot to say, especially about her Italian pictured above (but she may have used another, less PC, term to describe the love of her life).
•    Write down 5 good things you have going each week. My pal Andi started a blog series where contributors share little doses of joy. Reflecting on the latest and greatest in your life will keep your spirits high and help you overcome the tough situations.

To celebrate how Auntie Steph lived each day to its fullest, the obituary requests that bright colors are worn to the wake and funeral. Just as she filled our lives with color, we’ll do her proud with a goodbye that is nothing less.

[Theater Thursdays]: Always at Home with Theater

Activities like theater can truly mold a person. The bonds made hold strong for a lifetime and an auditorium becomes a second home. We learned these lessons, among many more, growing up with theater at Mother McAuley. It’s a great feeling to know you can always go home again. (Turns out the laughter of friends makes being 800+ miles away from home feel like I’m only a town away.) 

And a round of applause for the fabulous actors: PH, Coll, Karen, Lindsay, Laura, Jackie, Cassidy and the cast of 42nd Street.

A Rite of Passage


Well friends, it was bound to happen. Roughly four minutes in and I knew something was up. Four minutes later and the news was confirmed. I was quasi-lost on the subway. I give myself the benefit of the doubt at this point because I had no idea how deep I would get myself.

An estimated 16 minute ride turned into a two hour (not-so-scenic view) of the New York subway system. I did get some fresh air in Greenwich Village as I searched for my first slice of New York pizza. I stumbled upon Joe’s Pizza. Turns out this place is an institution in Greenwich Village with celebrity photos adorning the wall. If this slice was good enough for John Stamos, it was certainly good enough for me. Important Question: Forget convenience, do you think NY-ers fold their pizza because they simply want it to be Chicago deep dish? Mull that one over.

But back to the subway… even once I realized I was lost I didn’t panic. I accepted the situation as a right of passage.

I kept checking the map thinking I was getting back in the right direction. I did what any smart Chicago girl would do – I pretended I knew what I was doing. Because when you look confused / out of place in Chicago that’s when someone’s going to start chatting with you.

Last night was a great example of technology being helpful, but being a waste until common sense kicks in. Sure the super savvy iPhone will tell you the correct train is arriving, but it takes the genius holding the phone to realize she needs to start all over and reverse directions. Downtown (woo!) vs. uptown (waa waa) = a BIG difference.

Note taken and onto the next adventure!

Sending a big thank you

Dear Jenny,

I started this letter while you were well under way with the first installment of Make Sh*t Happen. Because a lot of my life was “in progress,” I’ve had to hold back on my excitement. Finally, I can share all. Here goes…

I couldn’t be more proud of you, Jenny. Most importantly, I have been busting at the seams wanting to thank you publicly for all the guidance, high fives and inner motivation you have given me.

Guess what? Because of you I made sh*it happen. And you weren’t even trying. We connected more than a year ago via Twitter and you were gracious enough to give up time for regular calls with me. During our first call you asked me about my big, hairy, scary goal. I can remember telling you, “I can’t say it out loud” and you pushing me that much harder. With complete nerves, I explained that I wanted to do public relations in New York City.

And here I am. Making my dream a reality. This month, I move to a new city and will start a dream job – at Edelman in New York!! I look back at the girl who told you her dream and I can see the doubt she exuded even when voicing her dream. She knew she wanted this, but was 97% sure it was impossible. Over time, you changed that doubter into a believer.

You went through the motions of Make Sh*t Happen with me. And you said the scarier the goal, the bigger the opportunity. When it comes to PR (and my current life leap), I don’t know how much bigger I can get.

Because of your willingness to help, I strive to do the same with students interested in the PR industry. Students who are passionate, but need that little push to know they can do it – that they can take on any goal. 

And somehow you found an even tradeoff with my doing a little PR on your behalf. Again, you helped me without even trying. Turns out when you tell people you’re in talks with the TODAY Show thanks to your side hustle, they listen. When I discussed helping you on top of my regular workload and that whole job search, people asked where I found time for sleep. I explained how PR for you didn’t feel like added work. I believe in your book and I believe in the story you have to share. Oh, and I believe we’ll all be watching you on the TODAY Show in the near future.

As I continue the series of highlighting how I got my new gig… from networking to resume QR codes to the interview prep, my thoughts will always start with what got me to this point. Turns out all you need is a little confidence and someone rooting for you along the way.

Always grateful,

To enjoy Jenny Blake in all her awesome-ness, check her out on Twitter as @jenny_blake, dive into her site, pick up a copy of the “Life After College” book or consider Making Sh*t Happen for yourself and participate in the next round of the course!

New year, new city, new job… new me?

Christmas came early friends – I’m packing my bags and heading to NEW YORK CITY!!! I am very excited to join the Edelman team where I will have the opportunity to contribute to great consumer accounts. 

To reach this point there are countless people I need to thank – for their advice, introductions and support throughout this entire process. Because I’ve been so fortunate in my pursuits I strive to pay it forward whenever I can. A series is in the works where I will share insights into the job hunt, from interview tips to taking on the challenge out-of-state. If you have specific questions please share those in the comments. 

First admission: The farthest I’ve been away from home is two hours south of Chicago for college. Learning a new city and coping with being away from my family and friends will be a challenge, but one I feel prepared to handle. 

Second admission: I’m the type of person who has become overwhelmed in the past due to change. However, a mentor once told me when a change is the right one for you there will be no doubts in your decision. I can say with full confidence, I left my doubts behind when I started proclaiming my dream to those close to me. That mentor’s explanation has been a guiding force throughout this process and it has confirmed that I’m finding the right path. 

Although there will be a lot of new in my life, I will still be the same girl – that “student always” who is forever in it to learn. You will still find me dancing, mentoring students and telling exceedingly long stories (some might call this my third admission). 

Overall, I’m on to a new adventure. I hope you’ll come along for the ride. 

4 Ways PR is Like a Break-In

I woke up to my parents’ frantic voices, breaking glass and the sound of an intruder’s footsteps coming from downstairs. It was 3:00 a.m. on a Monday morning and the absolute last way I thought I would begin my week.

Even as I heard my dad yell, “Get out!” and my mom warned, “Don’t you dare go downstairs,” it was still hard to comprehend what was happening in my home. I finally put it together when my mom said the land line didn’t work and we needed to call 911. As a millennial who sleeps with her phone in hand, that I could understand and take action.

My hands shook as I dialed ‘9’ and just one ‘1’ before ‘Emergency Call’ came across my phone’s screen. Within minutes, the police were in my driveway.

As the officers canvassed our area and a technician dusted for fingerprints in my dining room, my heartbeat returned to a normal pace and my thoughts led me to the positives of the situation. Broken windows can be fixed. A stolen laptop is always replaceable. As I tried to comprehend what had just happened, I easily connected to the knowledge I gain in my day-to-day experience with public relations. Believe it or not, ‘PR is like a break-in.’

Immediate response: Within minutes, there were squad cars and unmarked police cars on our street. They moved through our house and surrounding area to ensure it was safe. Penn State taught us waiting is not the answer. If you have potentially harmful information, share it. When action should be taken (especially quickly), do so.

Be thorough: When the police technician arrived at my house, I could tell the officer was all business. He inspected each piece of broken glass and all areas of potential forced entry. Unfortunately, the burglar must have worn gloves because no print was found. In public relations, from the planning stage through media outreach and until the program recap is finalized, our mission is to remain organized and produce quality work. We follow editors’ coverage and in order to focus on relevant pitches on behalf of our clients. We research vendors for campaign needs and editors for media events, selecting the most appropriate outlets.

Open your eyes: My poor, 15 year-old dog, Tequila, was snoozing away. Due to his age and waning senses, we think the pup was dreaming through the burglary. Teqs eventually made his way upstairs, but his reaction begs the question, what have you let happen directly in front of you? Was it going along with a PR plan you did not morally agree with? Or have you participated in a conversation demeaning to an individual or group of people?

Assess the positives: The only item missing is a replaceable laptop. No one was hurt. The bedrooms are located on the second floor. No one bumped into the intruder. And as with this burglary, it’s important to see through the negativity that follows public relations. Not every campaign is going to be a homerun. What key learnings did you secure from the program and how can you utilize those in the future? Critics will always question what we do. Demonstrate key results of the campaign and the good it created. 

Have you experienced a similar situation? How did you work through the nightmare?

This post originally appeared on PRBreakfastClub.

Fallin’ in love… with this season


Meet my counterpart…. in tree form. Mama and Papa Flo planted each Kid Flo a tree when they joined the world. In case you were interested to see a 25 year old Flowering Dogwood, here she is.

Raking leaves when you live across the street from a forest preserve really couldn’t be easier. Just cart those leaves across the street. What does everyone else do? ; )

And that hill? That’s Devil’s Hill. I promise you during the childhood sledding incident of 1999 it was much steeper. Don’t let the inviting meadow at the bottom fool you.

Why fall in love with the season? Don’t worry about the weather getting cooler. Enjoy the colors instead.

When my sister lived in Irvine, CA she would drive down one nearby street for the sole reason of seeing the leaves change. It’s the little things we don’t notice how important they are… until they’re no longer right in front of us.

the3six5 from an editor’s perspective


365 days – 365 points of view – 365 stories

As an editor for the3six5, I was tasked with managing 30 days of authors – ensuring they were on deck, reviewing their contributions and posting every day for the month of September.

During the first week I thought, ‘How have the past editors dealt with all the crazy???’ Time zones across the world and travel schedules played a part in a hectic start, but fortunately, the rest of the month flew by with ease. I can’t believe how quickly it went. By the end of September I had connected with authors in Melbourne, Sydney, Venezuela / London (my friend is quite the jet setter), Ghana, Nova Scotia and all over the U.S., including my best friend in sweet home Chicago who stepped in during Labor Day weekend.

I made connections with complete strangers. I learned from them by reading their stories and providing them with a platform to share their day. I helped to see the project through its 600th consecutive post and I’m excited to join as a repeat editor for this coming year.

Crowdsourcing truly is a remarkable concept. It brings together people who will likely never meet in person to accomplish a single goal. You can be a part of one of the largest crowdsourced projects – learn more here. And for my Chicago friends there are upcoming openings for the3six5 chicago.