Leave No Trace :: Leave Happier.

Holy smokes it’s March! How did February escape so quickly? The only evidence I have that February even existed was my 22nd birthday celebration, a few commendable concerts and one epic adventure in the Ozark National Forest. Without these events, I would be skeptical that February even existed at all; however, that one glorious trip in the backwoods would lead other adventuresome hikers to believe otherwise.

This past weekend I joined my fellow backpackers and outdoor adventure employees for a very gratifying escapade in the wilderness. Our hiking class of twelve, both experienced and inexperienced outdoors(wo)men, spent the weekend in the backwoods with beautiful weather, howling coyotes and strangers that I now consider friends. We backpacked for two days, hiking about 3-4 miles each day. We spend two very chilly nights in tents, sleeping next to people that were before this weekend, only considered aquaintences. We cooked. We camped. We bonded. For me, this was a learning experience not only because I can count my adventures in camping on one hand but also because we learned about the correct ways in which to camp, i.e. Leave No Trace.

The Leave No Trace priniciple is unfamiliar to most people. Basically, you want to leave the wilderness just as, if not better than you found it. This includes planning and preparing, using durable surfaces (marked trails), minimizing campfire impact, leaving what you find, packing in and packing out, respecting wildlife and being considerate of others. I had no idea these ethics in outdoor activities were so important or serious for that matter but our fantastically exhuberant leaders at OSU Outdoor Adventures proved otherwise. Everything we packed it, we packed out. We even swept the ground after leaving each campsite so that no one knew we were even there. Luckily, there was already a fire pit and man-made furniture at one of our campgrounds.. if there hadn’t been, we would have not had a glowing fire to warm our shivering bodies at night under the glowing full moon, which was a sight I will never forget. Yeah, sure you can see the moon anytime, given that you wait for it to fill itself, but witnessing such a sight in the mountains, next to a fire, enthralled in a game of 20 questions and the green glass door with new found friends is a very gratifying memory. It’s funny how strangers become less strange when the wilderness provides the setting. The bonding experience was terrific – I learned a lot about others and even learned a lot about myself.. another funny aspect. Anyhow, throughout this experience, I was able to minimize my impact on the environment not just for the greater good of the earth but also for the sanctity of others.

While reflecting on my weekend undertaking, I realized not only can I take these newly acquired skills with me in other outdoor outings but also in life. Not that I don’t want to leave an impact on anyone but that I want to leave an everlasting impact for the better. I want to leave things in life, people included, in a better state then before. I don’t want to take anything from anyone; I’d rather give back whether that is flashing a smile to a passerby, volunteering in my community or in literal terms, returning something I borrowed. Life should be enjoyed and I think it’s important to make like enjoyable for others, not just for yourself. Mother Teresa sums it up quite nicely – “Spread love wherever you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

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In the Swing of Things…

Well folks, after a few months of my mother’s nagging, I have officially began the dreadful job search. Luckily, I’m involved with a few organizations that have some excellent networking opportunities so you best believe I’m taking advantage of them. Google is treating me pretty well, too, although I must say that somedays I feel I’m going in circles.

Upon graduating, I can see that finding a legit job can be frustrating but for some reason, I’m not too worried. I’ve been hearing over and over “in the real world,” “once you’re on your own,” “just wait untill you start paying your own bills” and things of the like and to be honest, I’m quite sick of it. Yeah, yeah it is great motivation to get the search going but is the real world really that bad? Maybe I’ve got one big reality check headed my way but as long as I find a gratifying job in a cool city with a nice salary, I should be good to go.

The question is where can I find a job that meets my expectations? As an entry-level employee, I see that beggars can’t be choosers, espcially given the current status of the economy. Hell, maybe I’ll just move to France. Hah, I might as well keep on dreaming about that one. Dreams are worth achieving though. And goals can be reached. The sky is the limit and the view is clear. Thanks to a wonderful public relation’s education, I’ve learned the value of research.. it sucks but it must be done (strategically) in order for me to find the job of my dreams. Of course, I’ll have to hike a few trails to get to the top of that mountain.

Just like my job search at times, circles are found in life as well. As I’m finishing my time here at OSU, my upperclassmen status will be born again leaving nothing but room to grow. I will graduate. I will find a job. I will take another stab at reinventing life… and I couldn’t be more excited.

Low Down on My Goin’ Downs

I feel like a stranger in a strange land, in the world of wordpress that is. It’s been a while since I last blogged but only because it’s a new year. For me, that means a new semester (and my last one at that!) new music, new hobbies and new attempts to test my will power – aka my new year’s resolutions.

I’m a busy-bee most of the time.. this semester proves no different. For the most part, I’m still engaged with OSU through my final semester as both a student and employee. When I’m not working or schoolin’ it, which isn’t very often, you can probably find me playing zookeeper or fashioning various projects at wee hours of the morning. I have quite the spread of animals but just so you know, I consider my rambunctious roomates animals as well.. I think they would concur.

Anyhow, I’m pretty excited about the new fun I’ve been conjuring. Like jewelry! I’ve always made jewelry but jewels that are none too special; however, now that I know how to make hemp jewelry I beg to differ. Hemp is some really cool stuff and quite a ball to play with by the way. Another pleasant past-time I’ve taken up is the wonderful art of dreamcathing. I’ve always admired the dreamcatcher and it wasn’t until recently I heard if you don’t make it yourself, then it doesn’t work. It’s not like I was having bad dreams.. just wanted to learn the trick of the trade. Now I can make all kinds of pretties to give to my people near and dear. In my opinion, these cherished people are exceptions to the whole dreamcatching concept.

Sadly, the crafting had to take a back seat when school began. Aside from my final PR class, I’m taking French II, backpacking & hiking and Asian philosophy… tough but worthy. I couldn’t be more excited to learn these new skills. Speaking of learning, within the next few months I will be trying my hand with needles. I’m going to learn how to knit and crochet!

Aaaah, I could be a student forever. In fact, I will be.. my semester may be ending but I will continue to grasp and grow in this whirlwind of life. So for the next few months, I will be placing myself in a multitude of things but alas.. I’ll be sure to blog about it. After all, that is one of my new year resolutions.

Google: Zeitgeist 2009

As I’m sure most would agree, 2009 is going as quickly as it came. With only a few weeks left, numerous “best of 2009” lists are surfacing. From albums to gadgets you can bet there is a best and/or worst list to be found.

Throughout my daily web wanderings, I came across an article featuring the latest Google Chrome for Mac and Linux. If you’re like me and don’t know much about it, follow this link to learn more from its creator, Mike Pinkerton: http://ow.ly/KHjg. As if Google hasn’t done enough lately, it also released its annual Zeitgeist, which outlines the most popular searches throughout the year.

In addition to the most popular queries in the news, Google: Zeitgeist 2009 also captures the most popular queries in entertainment, sports and not the mention the oh so, ahem, interesting lives of celebrities. While looking at Google.com’s most popular searches, I was not at all surprised to find that Twitter is among the fasting rising queries with Facebook and Hulu not far behind. Just another affirmation that social media contunies to thrive.

Social Media Gender Gap

We’ve come a long way since the beginning of the Women’s Movement. Aside from equal paying jobs, women and men for the most part share equal rights and opportunities. When it comes to employment, men and women are well on their way to overcoming the gendered norm; however, when it comes to communication, social norms remain the same.

As a society, we generally portray women as being more sociable and interpersonal. After reading this article, which you can find here, http://ow.ly/KHlA, it is no surprise that women are ahead in the social media world. The article talks about the underlying motivation of men and women hence the social sites they choose to join. Of course, age comes in to play but it’s likely that more women are connected with facebook, twitter and myspace because with these sites, they have the option to customize and update profiles in addition to receiving the benefits of networking . Obviously men join these sites as well but as far staying connected and building relationships, women prevail.

Regardless of men and women’s motives to join and perpetuate networks, I think it’s safe to say social media will continue to thrive. Like social media and its growing possibilites, women, too,  are growing in terms of climing up the corporate ladder. With more women prominent in social media, I would hope more jobs will become available within the networks. It is evident gender gaps exist and usually men come out on top but the social media gender gap proves different.. women are actually ahead this time.

Social Media: A Presence is Always Present

I’ve never considered myself to be on the up and up when it comes to technology. With all the new gadgets out there, I find it hard to stay up-to-date. Once I finally get the hang of things something new comes around and I fall behind, yet again. Technological mishaps are pretty common in my house so I have to admit that a lot of the time, I’m not too fond of technology; however, after getting the iphone my view changed.

The iphone is a magnificent creation. Applications for pretty much anything you can think of, copy/pasting, instant updates of e-mail, facebook, twitter, blogs, etc. are only a few of its uses. Surprisingly, I have had little trouble with the iphone… until someone stole it. I was pretty upset after I learned my phone was a gonner. I mean, who wouldn’t be? My whole world was in that phone. More than 700 pictures, videos from far away concerts and phone numbers from distant friends were all lost among other things. Of course, these kind of things can be built up again but the elements I had accumulated over quite some time were gone.  Amidst my feeling of doom, I unexpectedly became humbled.

What a great invention the iphone is but it is just that.. a phone. I shouldn’t have been so wrapped up in a phone. I had fun making it my own (I’m not too sure that anyone else has butterfly icons) but I spent way too much time on that thing. Just because a phone goes bye-bye does not mean your world should follow suit. Throughout this whole process, the benefits of social media re-entered my mind.

Social media is about interacting with one another. Presence in the social media world is important not only because you can share and discover current events and happenings but also because you can discover and contact people. I may have lost a phone but I was ever so present in the virtual world. Although  I did get a new phone, I think to myself  “do I really need it?”

Let us ALL give thanks this Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, people near and far are reminding themselves what they are thankful for. As no one person is the same, it is evident that their ‘thanks’ aren’t either. Of course families, friends, life and good health may be things that most people are thankful for but what about the things that set us apart from one another? We all dwell here on earth and we also all have individual peculiarities. Why shouldn’t we be able to express them? The media might be to blame, when it comes to PETA that is.

Ok, so I know PETA can be a bit excessive but please check out their new ad: http://ow.ly/KHms  While PETA is known for using extreme methods to make a point (nude women, bloody fur, etc.) in this particular message, there are no inappropriate measures; only the truth. All this family wants to do is share a nice Thanksgiving meal with the ones they love… nothing wrong with that. The little girl gives ‘thanks’ for the factory farms in which our beloved turkeys are raised. She’s only speaking the truth but no one wants to hear that. They just want to eat the damn thing not caring where it comes from or what it went through to get there.

Granted, people are going to eat meat and there’s not too much that can be done about it.. especially around the holidays when meat is a staple. What can be done, however, is educating others about where meat comes from.. the good, the bad and even the ugly. Who knows, maybe people already know about what goes on behind the scenes. Perhaps this is why NBC refused to air the commercial; people don’t need to be reminded of turkey tortures before they chow down. If this is the case, why should meat eaters be spared and not meat free-ers? Where does the media get off delegating what people should or shouldn’t see. Don’t we all deserve to know the truth?

I know my stance but I would like to know yours.. so vote!  As always, comments welcome.

Social Graces of Social Media

Since I was a little girl, my mother always told me to say please and thank you, chew with my mouth closed, sit pretty and be polite. While these manners are important for raising well-behaved little boys and girls, they differ from culture to culture. In other words, manners and etiquette are socially contructed through traditions and social norms. When it comes to social media, however, you can’t always look to your parents to demonstrate appropriate behavior.

With social media now a global phenomenon, who can you look to for media manners? Here’s a few good tips for various social sites: http://ow.ly/KHpJ.  The author, Tamar Weinberg, puts it well when she says “social media mimics real relationships.” Just because someone can’t see your face or can’t hear your voice doesn’t mean they can’t receive your message. Of course, gestures and facial expressions add personality but for the most part, people get a sense of your personality through whatever message you choose to relay. Don’t get me wrong… it’s great to catch a glimpse of the person clicking the keyboard but how much is too much?

By now, I’m sure we’ve all heard don’t tweet what you eat or don’t be too abstract (which I may be guilty of) but altogether, social media is just a big network of real people in the real world. You wouldn’t forgo a thank you if someone complimented, congratulated or gave props to you for a job well done would you? Reciprocate nice gestures and be mindful of language, pictures, etc. I don’t mean to be lame here but I have to say it… for all of you in the twittersphere, tweet others as you would like to be tweeted.

Blog Action Day 2009

Hello there! It’s been a while since I last blogged so I thought what better a time to proceed than with Blog Action Day 2009. For those of you who are unaware, Blog Action Day is an annual event that focuses on an important issue. The goal is to create awareness about a particular topic so that bloggers worldwide talk about the same issue on the same day. Stemming from last year’s environment theme is this year’s climate change theme, which you can browse here. http://www.blogactionday.org

In addition to blogging to make a difference, blogging can also be an effective tool in the social media world. Blog Action Day 2009 illustrates this brilliantly… throughout 150 countries are 9, 523 blogs with 12, 907, 847 readers and it’s only 2 o’clock! Just think of all the activism that could spring from such a simple, yet widespread event. That’s the beauty with blogging, or any social medium for that matter. It doesn’t take much to create or provoke ideas but the channel, however, takes strategic planning and creativity to get the right message to the right people. With blogging now a global phenomenon, organizations and companies are jumping on the bandwagon.

Blogging is definitely on the rise but the number of news-related blogs may not be. From a public relations perspective, creating material that is simple, informative and audience appropriate is a great way to gain awareness. Posting material that is credible and news-worthy is even better.

displaying a divine appreciation for free music.

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