Jumping In

Reverb is a 31 day writing exercise where daily prompts allow people to reflect on closing the year. (So, it was harder to stay on top of this than I anticipated. Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version!)

[1000 Words: There’s the old saying that a photo is worth 1,000 words.  Give us a photo with that impact that sums up some significant event of your 2012.]

2012 was filled with lots of jumping into the unknown


[Surprise:  The most surprising thing that happened this year was…]

how unafraid I was. As someone who would get homesick living two hours away from my parents’ house I thought moving to New York City would be one long cry after another. Fortunately for me (and my roommate), I’ve found my place in this city and without any doubts to hold me back, I know what it feels like to truly live in the moment. 

[Choice:  Being an adult means making your own choices. What choices were the hardest to make this year?]

What I’m realizing about becoming an adult (because I don’t believe I’m one quite yet), is how choices are made. Growing up I relied on friends’ input – almost to a fault. I made decisions based on collective input rather than my own thoughts. I feel like I’m currently a part of an in-between phase where others’ input matters less to me. Sure, I take advice and appreciate what family and friends have to say, but I’m more focused on making the choices for me. While this will mean the fault for bad decisions will be on me at least I’ll be able to learn from the experiences and choose more wisely in the future. 

[Look: Sometimes you are left standing on the outside looking in.  As you stood there, on the other side of the glass, were you thankful for the boundary?  Or do you wish you could’ve been on the action-side?]

One perfect example of this happened on Father’s Day. I was in New York and unable to attend Father’s Day brunch. I was bummed, but knew Skype would offer me a window into the family meal. They set up the laptop so that I was on the opposite end of the table from my dad. (It felt strange to not be in my usual seat, but I’d take anything just to tune in.) At first my family was asking me all the questions and I reminded them I was just there to be a part of Dad’s celebration. 

Being on the outside felt a bit like Tiny Tim… as my family enjoyed a beautiful brunch spread while I snacked on Special K. I could have done without the boundary and actually sat myself down at the table; however, Skyping into the meal was the next best thing.

[Song:  What has been your theme song this year?  Have there been several?  Make us a mix tape and tell us the meaning behind it.]

Good Feeling by Flo Rida has been the theme song of 2012 for me. It became popular around the time of my move to New York and it continued to pop up at the best times, like when I arrived at my new apartment for the first time and it was blaring over the lobby speakers. I had a good feeling about 2012 from the start and this song was a constant reminder for me.

[All grown up: What did you want to be when you grew up?  Are you that thing?  If not, are you working to become it, or have you chosen a completely different path?]

In kindergarten I wanted to be a waitress. In 5th grade I wanted to be the first female president. 

While I have not held either of those positions (yet) I can see the connections to my current job. Public relations is a service industry and just as a waitress caters to her customers we must recognize what our clients need and how to best fulfill their requests. The world of politics relies on the people who make up their teams and how their messages are expressed. PR helps politicians connect with their constituents and maintain an overall positive image when it comes to making decisions while in office and running for it. 

I’m not sure that I still see myself as the president, but I do see myself working for her one day. 

[Clean Slate: Tomorrow begins a new year.  What will you do with your new beginning?]

In 2013 I’m going to be more careful with how I give my time and my trust. I trusted a lot this year – in friendships, in relationships, in exploring a new city – and I saw how the effort I put forth wasn’t always the best use of my time. 

I’m an eternal optimist believing people will match me when it comes to time and trust. Unfortunately that’s not the case. To look on the positive side of this I’m grateful it took me until 26 to realize this. I’ve been lucky up until this point to have surrounded myself with terrific people who were my matches. In the coming year I will strive to focus on the matches in my life and understand it’s the quality of matches, not the quantity, that matter. 

[Undone: Bucket lists, To Do Lists, Always crossing things off.  2012 is almost over — what is still left standing?]

On January 13, 2012 I wrote down three goals for the year. 1. Say Yes. 2. Grow as a professional. 3. Improve my personal brand. I succeeded in saying yes to new opportunities and growing within my career, but still have a long way to go when it comes to the personal brand. I’ll be adding that one to the 2013 list.  


Reverb is a 31 day writing exercise where daily prompts allow people to reflect on closing the year. 

[Friendship:  What was it like for you to be a friend to others this year?  Did you rekindle an old friendship?  Strengthen a current friendship?  Make friends with someone you didn’t think was “your type?”]

As I considered these questions all I could think about were the thank yous. I’ve experienced a lot of change over the last year and the friendships in my life have been my rock.  

To the friends I’ve made in New York City: Thank you for helping me to create a second home – where I’m still trying to find myself, but I know you’re along for the ride. I will take away from my first year here the dance parties, struts, brunches and all the laughter.  

To the friends back home: Thank you for filling me in while I’m away and for picking up things like I never left while I’m home. I can remember my first trip home and getting ready to meet you – I had to remind myself I no longer lived in Chicago, because it felt so natural. Each visit has followed suit.  

To the friends I’ve met through social media: Thank you for the daily reminder we are never alone. Regardless of location, job or any sort of status we connect through our passion for meeting people. We don’t check in every day, but the network is there – open for conversation, advice and collective motivation. 

To the family I consider my best friends: Thank you for letting me take this leap and supporting me the entire way down. Maybe because we spend less time together, but I find myself paying attention to the little things – each joke, each hug and each smile that seems to last just a bit longer.

Which friends are you thanking today? 








Anchors & Intention

Reverb is a 31 day writing exercise where daily prompts allow people to reflect on closing the year and planning the one to come. 

[Place: What places anchored you this year? Or were you in search of new places and spaces to call your own and call home? Describe the place you love and why it means so much to you.]

A recent post from the3six5 summed up how I currently feel anchored. The author explained, Whatever it is, the thought of being lost among the unfamiliar is the most comforting thing in life.” I read this post the day I returned to NYC after being home in Chicago for Thanksgiving. As my cab crossed the bridge into Manhattan and I looked at the skyline I couldn’t help but smile with excitement. Excitement over being back in this city where I still got lost, where I have only scraped the surface of and where adventures I can’t even imagine yet await me

I’m approaching one year in NYC and I don’t think I’ve hit the point where I call myself a New Yorker. People say something will happen and you’ll just know. I felt a shift in energy coming back and it wasn’t until I read this post that I fully understood where the feeling originated. The challenge and unknown of NYC keeps me anchored. 

[Intention: What were some of your mantras from 2012 and how did you come by them?]

Every day is a good day. 

I’m always asked how it is living in New York. In most cases I answer with, “Every day is a good day.” 

I love my job. I love my neighborhood and apartment. I love all the people I’m meeting. I feel so fortunate that I’ve had it pretty good up to this point. 

There have been some down points as well. But in the same week my wallet and phone were stolen I also high fived my company’s CEO. I realized how you handle bad situations is all in your perspective. The missing SuperPhone and wallet were a setback, but did teach me to be more aware of my belongings and my surroundings. 

The high five could not have been better timed. During my first month at my new job, I learned my new gig will be as great as I make it. I also realized that people will make time for you – all you have to do is ask (or go in for the high five).



The Start of 2012

Reverb is a 31 day writing exercise where daily prompts allow people to reflect on closing the year and planning the one to come. I participated in the project in 2010, looking forward to seeing it’s changed and how I’ve changed. Here goes. 

[Where it began: Review and reflect – how did 2012 begin for you? Tell us how the year kicked off; start your renewal by beginning again.]

2012 kicked off with a move across the country. I had never lived outside the state of Illinois and something inside me was ready to make a major move. I also left my first job for a new one in this new city of mine. 

The start of this year feels almost a lifetime away – I’ve moved to a new city, started a new job, made new friends and had completely new experiences in the process. And yet, I cannot believe how quickly 2013 snuck up on me. Amidst all the new I’ve tried to remain the same girl and I’m looking forward to reflecting throughout the month to come. 

How did 2012 start for you?



A letter to my former self

It was harder to keep up with the daily #reverb10 posts than I had thought and I fell behind. Participating in the project reminds me that I need to set aside time every day to write. If that means taking more than one day to draft a blog post, that’s fine. If this daily ritual includes writing emails to family or friends across the country that counts as well. Whatever the form of writing I want to challenge myself to remain active.


One of the prompts covered a topic I am consistently working to improve upon. It came from Jenny Blake and asks if you were to write a note to yourself 10 years ago, what would you tell your younger self? Well, here it is: a letter to my 14 year old self, just before entering high school.


Dear Stephanie,

I’m not going to sugar coat this. The next transition will not be an easy one. Because it will be different and because you’re not used to change. You’re leaving a small, close-knit environment for the exciting new arena of high school. After that you’ll be moving onto college and then into the real world, although that sounds like a lifetime away at this point. Good news though, you are going to adore everything coming up.  


Here’s your task: embrace the change. There will be countless changes in your life and the quicker you can transition the sooner you can truly enjoy all the experiences. Trust me, they will be great. And you’ll love all the new people you meet. The trouble you find yourself in (it’s inevitable, isn’t it?) will help you to grow. Learning how to adapt is all a part of the process… so do it quickly girlfriend! Let go of your reservations. Forget what others will think or what they are expecting of you. Face your challenges head on and reap all the benefits.


And most of all – enjoy the ride.

In 2011, it’s you and me blog. Game on. #reverb10

What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

Plenty of things got in the way of improving my blog. Being worried, unsure and busy all definitely played a part. I want to take advantage of StephanieFlorence.com – aside from a domain name being practical, put simply – it rocks. I love being able to brand myself online. I’ve got a long way to go from my college homepage. I have the ideas, I just need to put them into action. I don’t know a lot about web publishing, but I’m eager to learn. It’ll be challenging and a time commitment, but I’m done with letting anything get in the way. Bring it on, blog.

Lesson Learned, Appreciation, Make & What I Don’t Need in 2011


After being quick the slacker with #reverb10 I am back with a bunch of posts, enjoy!

Make: What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)


Full disclosure: my dad made this for me.


It’s just so great I had to share. One rainy morning as I was eating my Cheerios and trying to devise a plan to walk across my puddle of a driveway to make it to my car, I saw my dad head into the garage and then outside with what looked to be bricks. I soon realized that he was creating a path of bricks for me to cross my driveway, dry feet and all. What struck me about this creation was that my dad literally laid a stepping stone for me. He’s always been the first to offer encouragement growing up, but the path he made me is something I’ll always remember.  


Lesson Learned: What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)


This year I learned that I can be a mentor. I’ve connected with students studying PR, considering PR or completely unsure. I’ve met individuals through my blogs, tweets and speaking engagements. In these discussions I always explain that I may only be a few steps ahead of them, but I’ve learned so much in that small amount of time and I would love to share my knowledge.


During a difficult day at work I received an email from our agency’s intern. In it she explained how she has looked up to me throughout her time at the agency and considered me a mentor. Reading this was more important than she’ll ever know. I try to make myself available to anyone looking for direction.


Moving forward I will continue to connect with up and come PR pros offering insight into getting ahead. But put simply, I will listen. I will listen to their concerns and their ideas. I will help to put them on the right track and most importantly, I’d like to keep in touch and remain a contact they can always look to throughout their career.


Appreciate: What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)


I so appreciate the reactions I’ve received to my blog posts. It’s difficult to put myself out there when discussing topics related to my family and work life, but the feedback I’ve received has been completely worth it. In addition to comments and tweets, I’ve seen this in the form of unexpected emails and messages. To know that people are connecting with my posts is very rewarding and gives me motivation to keep writing and reflecting. So, thanks to you : )


11 Things: What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)


       Swearing: It is simply unbecoming of a lady.

       The constant plan: My sister always tries to pull me out of my strict plan for everything in life. When are leaving? Who are meeting? What time is this or that? I need structure in my life, not sure if there’s a way to get around that completely. However, in 2011, I’ll be maintaining a structure, but am open to spontaneity.

       Lack of sleep: Working on my day-to-day to incorporate a little more each day.

       Gossip: Nothing good can really come of it.

       Excessive caffeine: I’m realistic in that I know I need some to get through the day, but I can definitely cut back.

       Tears: I tend to let the stress pile up until breaking points. If I can address the situations on a regular basis there’s no reason for the mini meltdowns.

       Excuses: I find excuses for why I couldn’t blog or make it to dance class/workout. Enough of the excuses, it’s just happening in 2011.

       Migraines: I’ve had enough of these hell raisers. In 2011, I will make a conscious effort to watch what I eat and review my routine to see what are the triggers. I’ve got too much to do to let a migraine step in the way.

       Poor financial planning: Now that I’m living on my own, I need to constantly address my financial situation and where my money is going.

       Nervous habits: My nails have seen enough damage from the stressful days.

       Just talking: I can spend months or even years talking about what I want. To see it actually happen, it’s time to start doing.


Try, 5 Minutes, Beautifully Different, Party, Friendship


Back on track with #reverb10…  : )

Party: What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)


One of the best parties I attended was how I brought in 2010 (and is putting a lot of pressure on how I ring in 2011). I went to a girl talk concert with my best friends, which included the following:


       Pink converse sneakers

       Dancing as if it were going out of style

       Large sunglasses

       So many chances to showcase the running man

       Outrageous outfits

       Good people

Try: What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)


 At the top of my personal life to do list has been to improve my personal brand. Most specifically, I’d like to do this through my website. I’ve never been the savviest person online, but I’m no longer holding onto that excuse. Whether through discovering how to do it all online or by reaching out to someone in my network I will tackle this. As I continue to improve my site I would like to maintain a regular blog schedule. I love writing and have learned a great deal about myself and others through the posts. And I won’t just be trying this in 2011, I’ll be doing.


5 Minutes: Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)


2010 was a year of change for me.


I moved out of my parent’s house and into my first apartment following college. I bought my first (and new!) car.  I saved enough money to do all of this. I celebrated my first full year in the public relations industry. I learned I do not need to be in a relationship to define who I am. I am the one who makes that definition. I realized I miss my sister more than I have in the last few years that she’s lived in other states. I’ve always said I can’t wait for her to be back in Chicago, but I really mean it now more than ever. I experienced what it means to see your world unravel when I found out my dad had a stroke. On the most positive of sides, I see what it means to stand up to a challenge as my daddy continues his recovery. I understand at much deeper level what true love is. This I learned from my parents. Their relationship and their dedication to our family makes me appreciate all the times we spend together. My favorite realization is that I can take change and run with it rather than avoid it at all costs.


Friendship: How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)


I have one best friend in Cincinnati and another in Park City. What these friendships have taught me is that location has no effect on a friendship. Staying in touch via phone and email makes all the difference. I believe a true friend is one that you can pick up with, regardless of the time that has passed since your last meeting.


Beautifully Different: Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)


I am an enthusiastic person.


I’m passionate about my industry and feel that I show that in my day-to-day. I’ve been told my enthusiasm is contagious. A stellar compliment. However, I’ve also been told that my enthusiasm shows my age, which I hadn’t realized can be considered a bad thing. I understand the need to be professional in a work setting, but if I can relate experiences to college or being new, what’s the harm? I guess this is my mindset as a young professional. I’m sure with more experience will come more understanding and growth. In this situation I feel different because I’m learning how to take the constructive criticism with the compliment.



My Sense of Wonder #reverb10

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

When I first saw today’s prompt I will admit it had me stumped. I turned to the trusty thesaurus to see if that sparked any ideas. Did it ever. The three synonyms for wonder that caught my attention were doubt, question and be unsure.


This past fall I moved out of my parents’ house and into my first apartment, amid some reservations. Had I saved enough while living at home? Will I be able to keep up with all the expenses? Did my parents, specifically my Dad, need me? I realized I can’t question all the big decisions. Sometimes I just need to take the jump and make my transition on the way down.


A past colleague of mine who served as my mentor during my internship shared advice that I will never forget. She worked in public relations for a few years, but has since gone back to grad school to pursue a career as a guidance counselor. To leave a full-time position and make a career move is no small task. She explained to me that when you make the change that is right for you, you have no doubts.


I can tell you I haven’t second guessed my decision. And that’s just the wonder I’ve been looking for this year.

Here’s my moment #reverb10

December 3 – Moment.
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

My moment takes me to chopping 12 inches of hair and making a video all about the experience. As you can see in the video below, I can’t do a lot for children who have lost their hair, but I can still do something. I’m honored to have helped Locks of Love with 3 hair donations. What made this a defining moment was the response I received. Within a minute of sending a picture text I had a dozen responses from family and friends. To see that my video has been viewed on YouTube more than 2,000 times is remarkable to me as I had not anticipated views being anywhere near that total. And the private messages I’ve received from friends about their “somethings” has been touching. I’m grateful to have this outlet to share my experiences and I look forward to using it much more in the future.

So I ask you, what’s your “something”?