Signs, signs, everywhere are signs…

I believe the Universe gives us signs and guides us in the direction we are supposed to go.  However, sometimes we come across signs that shouldn’t be hung and don’t give us any direction, at all.  Enjoy! Happy Wednesday!

Thanks Twitter, for telling me what to do in case of a fire! I do understand why there is a sign for this…

To think that these people reproduce…

Okay, so eenie meenie miney moe?

Is this supposed to make me want to actually eat here?

I am outraged but I bet it is for a different reason. Apparently she wasn’t paying attention either…

I don’t think they understand the meaning of open 24 hours…

Oh, Ronald. You are what you eat.

This is what gives America a bad name. How many mistakes can you find here?

(photo credit: here, here, here, here, here, here, here)

The following are all photos that I took in Chicago:

Best.Sign.Ever.

Is that supposed to entice me to order it? Because it has MAYO? Talk about bad advertising.

Okay, so I get the water-saving aspect to the handle. That is great. What I don’t get is the green handle that says, “coated to protect against germs.” How does that work? Seriously? It is just a handle and it too will get contaminated. False advertising.

And lastly – a montage of signs– set to the music of Five Man Electrical Band

P.S. Don’t forget to enter my giveaway if you haven’t already done so!  I’m giving away a signed copy of Life After College by Jenny Blake ! You don’t want to miss this!

Life After College by Jenny Blake {My 1st Giveaway!}

Hi readers! I am really excited to announce my first ever blog giveaway!! That’s right! My first giveaway is dedicated to the beautiful, inspiring, and extremely motivational Jenny Blake. She is the author of Jenny Blake’s Life After College: The Complete Guide to Getting What You Want. One lucky reader will win a signed copy of her book and a bookmark too!

The book is geared toward recent college graduates with quotes, two cents from Twitter, tips, advice, and coaching exercises designed to help prioritize and guide the reader to find direction in their life. It gives practical advice and helps you see the big picture. She doesn’t preach or lecture, she genuinely wants to help her reader find clarity.   Chapter categories include life (values, goals), work, money, organization, home, friends & family, dating & relationships, health, fun & relaxation, and personal growth. The best part? It’s a workbook — yes, you are supposed to write in it!  Put your love into it! Highlight and mark it up! Get all that you can out of it! You might just even recognize some of your friends in the advice and Twitter section! This book is more than just good advice. It is a guidebook to help all recent grads find their way through their twenties and the real world. Jenny’s mission “is to provide simple, practical tips that help you focus on the BIG picture of your life…not just the details!” I think this book should be a mandatory read for students about to graduate.  It is that good!

Ok, so I actually met Jenny Blake at BiSC back in May. She was one of my Internet idols and when I introduced myself to her in Vegas, my heart was racing. I probably fumbled over my words and looked like a bumbling idiot. I already owned her book, so to meet her in person was almost like meeting a celebrity. Truth be told, I had already purchased two copies; one for me, and one as a graduation gift for a friend. (What a perfect gift!)

When I heard she was going to be giving the Sunday morning Keynote at the 20SB summit this past weekend, I forced myself to wake up in time to hear her speak. I knew that Jenny’s keynote was going to be interesting and informative, but I really didn’t know just how inspirational and impactful it would be, not only for me but everyone else in the room, as well.  Not only did she smile the entire time (that alone was impressive!) she had made the entire room confident that we could make that leap we’ve been too scared to face all within 5 minutes.  I thoroughly enjoyed Jenny’s keynote and walked away with a renewed sense of hope, optimism and confidence.

Just imagine what her book can do! After feeling so empowered from Jenny’s keynote, I wanted to host a giveaway on my blog so that I could  take what I learned, help spread her advice and to make a difference in someone else’s life. I promptly bought my 3rd copy so I could share it with you! She signed it just for YOU!

  •  You can purchase your own copy on Amazon here. Buy it, I have now bought three! It’s worth it. Wait, don’t buy it quite yet! Enter my giveaway for a free signed copy! 🙂
  • Connect with Jenny on her blog or by following her on Twitter.
  • Learn more about the book: http: www.lacbook.com

You have 5 chances of winning – each option below gives you one chance but be sure to comment one time per entry. I will announce the winner at the end of the giveaway period and ship you the book. 

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Let me know in the comment section at the bottom of this post indicating that you’d like to win.
  2. Follow me on Twitter. Even if you already follow me, (Thanks!) leave a comment here letting me know you’ve done that.  Follow me on Twitter
  3. Re-tweet this post by clicking the tweet button below or by creating your own Tweet and leave another comment saying you’ve ‘tweeted’ it.
  4. Sign up for the blogs RSS feed/Subscribe to A Day in the Life. If you do already, fantastic, you rock!  Either way, if you are a new or old subscriber, please leave a comment indicating that you are a subscriber.
And for a BONUS ENTRY: Please leave a comment on this blog post answering the following question: What is your best piece of advice for people graduating college, or your biggest lesson learned since entering the real world? (1-3 sentences)
So that’s actually 5 (FIVE!) really easy ways to enter! The contest is open until September 4, 2011 at midnight CST. Please share this with others who may be interested! If you already do any of the above, you don’t have to do anything EXCEPT leave a comment saying you already do. For example, if you already follow me on twitter, just leave a comment here saying you do.

Good luck!!! 

Disclaimer: The winner will be chosen randomly at http://www.random.org and contacted via email.  This contest is open to all U.S. and Canadian residents only.  I will email all winners with in three days of the end of the giveaway. If the chosen winner does not respond with in two days of the winning email being sent I will choose an alternate winner.  If you submit all five entries as one single comment, that will count only as one entry.   You get one entry for every comment. To be clear: Simply following on Twitter, without leaving a comment on the blog indicating that you do so, will disqualify that entry.  LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS HERE, ON THE POST ONLY for all entries!
 
 ********************************************************************

UPDATE:

 THE WINNER IS: Jennbizzle!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! I’ll email you shortly to arrange delivery. Enjoy this fabulous book!

Jennbizzle 
August 26, 2011 at 2:29 pm   I love you and Jenny! This is fantastic. I’d love to win the autographed copy!
 
 
 
*I used Random.org to generate the winner.  Due to technical difficulties, I could not get the widget to work properly so I cannot show you the proof of selected winner here on the website.  I sincerely appologize for the inconvenience. However, if you would like to see the proof, please do not hesitate to email me and I’ll gladly send you a screen shot of the True Random Number Generator. *
 
 

What I learned from #20SBSummit

If you follow me on twitter (thank you!), you probably could tell I was at the inaugural #20sbsummit this weekend.  You deserve a big giant thank you for not un-following me after the massive influx of tweets.  For those of you who don’t follow me or don’t know what I’m talking about – the 20sb Summit is, in boring, simple terms, a conference for bloggers in their 20’s held this past weekend in Chicago.  However, nothing was boring about this conference.  People came from all over the world to learn from fellow peers in the 20sb community. It truly was a summit ‘created for you by you’ as the registration page says. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect  when I signed up as this was my first blog conference with speakers. I walked away rejuvenated, inspired, optimistic, enlightened and giddy with a newfound courage.

I feel as though a light bulb went off! I have a new direction, feel creative and limitless, and as if suddenly I am decades wiser. We all were there with a common bond – we blog. That was enough for friendships to begin, trust to be established, inspiration to be imparted and learning to be fostered. For two straight days, we were surrounded by our peers who get what and why we do what we do, who are inspirational, creative, and brilliant.

Really, the weekend was nothing short of awesome. I keep writing and deleting this post because I’m finding OMG, it was AWESOME and inspiring, and ah! Then a bunch of gibberish giddiness is all I can get out, but I’ll keep trying!

I have been to other events with people my age, but this wasn’t just any event. I brought a notebook with me while others brought their laptops. Usually, when you are on your phone or computer while someone is speaking, it is straight rude. But not here. People were taking notes and tweeting throughout the panels, but it was evident people were still fully present as we were a top Twitter trend on Saturday with over 1000 tweets. There was no judging here. Everyone was welcoming and creative. It was a safe place.  We were all there because we have blogs, but there was no competition. No one was trying to out do another, because everyone was there with the same purpose – to learn from each other. It was honestly beautiful.  As Boehmcke said in his recap, “There are millions of bloggers that can exist in this same space and not compete.” We all volunteered to be here to further our knowledge and to be inspired. The thought of competition never crossed my mind.  Seriously, there is no other community out there where I feel more encouraged, applauded and included. Blogging is for lovers.

The contents of my purse after the summit

I can write pages and pages upon pages for a recap. There are a lot of other points, and I am sure I am going to forget some, but I am going to share some of the points that I learned the most from.

Keynote speaker #1: Scott Belsky on Making Things Happen

  1. “If you don’t tell anyone about your idea, no one will hold you accountable.” Share your ideas and let your community hold you accountable. Sharing outweighs potential stealing.
  2. “Era of Reactionary Workflow” – We are constantly distracted by endless stream of incoming emails, texts, tweets, voicemails, IM, DM etc. The car used to be where people went to get their moment of solitude and recollect their thoughts, but now it has technology access overflow in the dashboard.  The only sacred space in the shower. It is important to make that time for yourself and disengage with technology.
  3. Is organization the competitive edge on ideas? For example, Apple didn’t invent the tablet, cell phone or mp3, but the did master the organization and productivity market.  His formula to explain the importance of organization: Creativity x Organization = Impact. Or think about it this way: 5 x 0 = 0; 5 x 2 = 10; 50 x 2 = 100.
  4. If 99% of people think you’re crazy, you’re either crazy, or on to something. Trust that.
  5. Email etiquette: Emails less than 3 sentences have 60% faster reply rate. Keep it short, focus on the actionable stuff. Take disagreements offline. Call to sort it out and then reply with positive recap. Start emails with actions needed, number your questions, use an edgy email subject line.
  6. Don’t go unnoticed. Overcome the stigma of self-marketing. He gave the example of the Joshua Bell social experiment. He is a world-famous violinist who played for President and then the very next night dressed down and played in the subway of DC. If he had a sign that said who he was, he would have had a crowd, instead no one noticed him.
  7. “Nothing extraordinary ever happens through ordinary means”
It was early Saturday morning, and I am so glad I forced myself to make it to hear him speak. What a fantastic way to kick off the summit!

Keynote speaker #2: Jenny Blake Life After College. Live Big and Take Leaps.

  1. You’re capable of so much more than you realize. We have ceilings on our self-perception. Ignore them.
  2. There are three pillars of being a 20SB blogger. Vulnerability, courage and community.
  3. You can’t cross the Grand Canyon in two small leaps – Jenny’s fathers’ words of wisdom.
  4. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Embrace uncertainty.
  5. How would you feel if 1 year from now you hadn’t made any changes to your life? Jenny’s mentorMichael Ellsberg. This really struck a cord with me…
  6. Find confidence from unexpected places. Don’t try to make every single person in your life happy.
  7. How to find courage: notice who’s talking…social self vs essential self. Social self: the one you show people, reacts to others, wants to please others.Essential self: deep within you…your body and intuition.
  8. It takes courage to blog. She had us close our eyes while she read us the Parable of The Trapeze. What a brilliant metaphor for conquering big change in your life. She encouraged us to let go of the bar and allow ourselves to launch forward towards the next.  Spend time “hanging out” between the trapeze bars of your life. Let go of one, so you can grab the new one.  You cannot move forward until you let go of the trapeze bar and allow yourself to take the risk of falling.
  9. Practice writing “Truth” posts. Dig deeper, find the truth at the roots.
  10. Just put it out there. Let the response be your judge , not your inner critic voice. Do the opposite of the inner voice.
  11. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Do that over and over and over.

I thoroughly enjoyed Jenny’s keynote and walked away with a renewed sense of hope, optimism and confidence.  In the next few days, I will be doing my first EVER giveaway – I will be giving away a signed copy of her book Life After College and a signed bookmark. Stay tuned, more on that later!

Breakout Sessions and other random bits I learned:

On Guest Posting: Open calls to twitter followers, Facebook friends, offline friends and family is a great way to find guest writers.  Anyone, parents, experts, non-bloggers can make for excellent interviews. Communication is the key to a smooth exchange. Evernote is a great app to help take notes or record ideas for future blogs.

On getting the most out of WordPress: I backup my computer, but never thought of backing up my blog before! Just because it is on the Internet – doesn’t mean it won’t crash. Recommended hosting domains: Bluehost, Dreamgator and Lunarpages. I learned a plethora of different widgets and plug-ins that help the flow of my blog. Do not upload your photos straight from your camera! Resize images down to 72ppi  it using a photoshop or Pixlr because that is what it is displayed on the web. (I tried this and they were TINY, so I need to play around with this more…) But be sure to do that before uploading to WordPress. Cart 66 ($) is a great plug-in if you need to add a shopping cart to your website, however it does not design for you.  When picking a theme – look for responsiveness. If it is from 2005 with 500 download, odds are it is out of date and not recommended.  If it is from today and has 2500 downloads, that should be a better bet.

On putting our lives on the internet: It takes courage to blog and we need to take risks. We need to be willing to put ourselves out there, to take those risks. We need to engage and network within the community more. I don’t remember who said it, so I apologize if I misquote.” If you have the same followers as you did from when you started your blog, you are doing it wrong.” There is more to blogging than just having your own blog and hoping people read it.

On community: Having a blog is networking, letting creative writing juices flow, impacting peers, making friends, and being a member of a community of support that only wants the best for its members, at least within the 20sb.net community. If you jump, someone will be there to catch you.  Despite our family and friends offline thinking that “Our internet friends are imaginary friends,” we know the truth.

On your blog being your brand: I realized I must do what makes me happy. I must stay true to myself and to my blog and the rest will follow. It is important to be authentic, be present and most importantly be true to myself. It your blog, and your life. Your blog is your brand. Create it as you see fit.

Saying I learned a lot this weekend, is an understatement. I feel like a new person. As Jenny Blake said in her keynote – I feel like I was given oxygen!  I walked away inspired, engaged, enthusiastic, enlightened, and extremely optimistic. I have new blog ideas,  I networked for future opportunities and made a ton of new friends.

I even got to to meet internet idols and the founders of websites such as Texts From Last Night, GenPink, Talk Nerdy to Me, Lover and 20sb.net!

Jen Friel, of Talk Nerdy to Me Lover encouraged us to “own your awesome” and “do what you love and the money will follow.” She is a very bubbly, outgoing nerdy hippie with epic stories. You instantly want to be friends with her. She went on 100+ dates on OkCupid in 9 months, lived in her car on purpose, got sponsors to support her for everything, was on the Red Carpet, and her website  is now being turned into a TV pilot.

On Sunday, when the conference was over, and Derek finished his closing remarks, he concluded with, “And that’s a wrap.”  However no one moved. No one spoke. No one wanted to leave. We wanted to hold on for just a little longer. We didn’t want to go home yet. We weren’t done learning from our peers. It was a very honest moment and really could not have been rehearsed if we tried.

Walking around on Sunday, after I said my goodbyes, I felt surprisingly alone walking on the street. You’re thinking, alone? You just spent a weekend with fellow bloggers and just raved about it for pages? But there I stood, watching people, non-bloggers, going about their everyday life. I wish I could walk up to them and share all the inspiration and enlightenment that I just experienced and attempted to share with you.  Here I was with this rush of excitement, this creative urge, the feeling that anything is possible, but these people around me all looked like zombies, just going through the motions. I felt sad for these strangers who didn’t get to experience the summit, that don’t know there are infinite possibilities and limitless opportunities at our fingertips. There was a love in that conference room that is truly special and cannot be truly nor fully explained. Despite feeling this way on the street, I came home feeling as if I could touch the sky. I was giddy and feeling more creative than I have in a long time.  I am glad I got to experience the summit, and hope I can take what I learned this weekend and leave a positive mark on some of those zombies. I hope to make a difference in the community.  I cannot wait until next year!

Also, a special thank you to our Sponsors who helped make this incredibly special weekend possible. Thanks for everything!

Gap 1969 – Pico de Gap @picodegapchi – If you are in Chicago, follow this food truck for delicious Mexican tacos!

Murphy-Goode Wines

Brand About Town

Vera Bradley

Vapur – eco-friendly, reusable anti-bottle

Lenovo 

Lenovo tech room

Life in New York: Observations of a Newbie

This post is brought to you by the 20SB Blog-Swap.  June and I swapped blogs today. You can find her over on The VayaBlog.  My own post on Explorer Perspective: Tips and Personal Experience about Studying Abroad in Florence, Italy is featured on her site today.  Please read June’s post and say hello!

******

TwentyTwenty

 

So I’m spending the humid, mucky month of August launching my startup here in New York City. So far, in four days, I’ve been running around the city producing a video, having meetings up the wazoo, going to parties, prepping for a press release, and attempting to catch up with friends. And in those days I’ve turned into one of those stereotypical New York people – always running to meetings, getting very little sleep, and pushing through people to get through. The only people who seem to actually be late to meetings and social obligations are people who are not originally from New York. And that person is usually me.

There’s something about the energy of a place that makes you take on the characteristics of other people who live there. You’re always trying a little harder to make it – the next train, the next green light, in life. During bottomless mimosa brunch on a rainy Sunday morning, my friend said that “everyone in this city is skinny because you walk everywhere and can’t afford to eat that much. Plus there are models everywhere – skinny women that make you feel like a cow when all they have for lunch is a tiny cup of soup.”

I’m kind of intrigued by what it’s like to live here full-time, if only it weren’t so damned humid. I miss the San Francisco weather – fog, wind, briskness, and all. Even though New York City is one of the most diverse in the world, it is incredibly insular as well. There are so many ethnic neighborhoods that are packed with people from the same place – Polish, Eastern European Jews, Dominican, Puerto Rican, Chinese, West African, and so forth. I guess most cities are kind of like this, but it’s especially pronounced here.

Those hatches on the sidewalk are fucking scary. Every time I walk past one, I look at the ominous steep stairwells that just go straight down and shudder. Sometimes there’s a little bar that attempts to prevent you from falling into it, but most of the time it’s just left open. It baffles me; this must be a safety code violation of some sort – maybe one that Giuliani missed when he was cleaning up the city. I don’t want to imagine what it’s like to fall into one of those things. The massive amounts of steam coming out of manholes also freaks me out.

Also, there are so many beautiful, tall, well-dressed people, that it must suck to be the ugly here. There also aren’t as many people here as I previously remembered, and it’s actually a pretty quiet place. In general, the places I’ve been in Brooklyn are also nicer and cleaner than in downtown Manhattan, unless you’re in the West Village or something. The thing I love most about NYC, though, is that people actually get things done and there’s tons of pressure to perform. Love that.

I’m on a boat! You sure this isn’t just a floating city?

Some people have been asking, “Where is your post about your vacation?” I honestly debated because the goal of this blog isn’t to be a diary. However, due to popular demand, I have decided to share a bit about the week that I spent at sea with Mr. Fiancé’s family.

There were four pools, two on each side separated by the Central Park in the center, 8 floors down!

 

I love traveling and cruising is a great way to do it. While different vacations require different things, sometimes, cruising can be a perfect vacation – you have sun, entertainment, travel, professional photos, lodging, casinos, and 24/7 food, all-inclusive, in one spot! People cook for you and clean up after you. I love laying out and relaxing on the pool deck,  a strawberry daiquiri in hand, listening to Caribbean music like Bob Marley or UB40.  (Tell me you hear Red, Red Wine and don’t think of the Caribbean?) This t

Mr. Fiancé has the sweetest, most loving little Nanny any grandchild could ask for.  Her goal in life is for her family to be happy so it was her pleasure to take both her children and their respective families on a Royal Caribbean cruise for a week. All 11 of us ate dinner together every night, served by one of the best waiters I have had on a cruise, bar none.  Even though I will not officially be part of the family for another year, I am lucky to have been included on this family trip as if I were already family.

My own family loves to cruise and I am lucky enough to have been on all the major cruise lines and to the Caribbean before. So, where we went this time was not important. I was just absolutely thrilled to be included. We were scheduled to go to Nassau, Bahamas; St. Thomas; and St. Maartin. The Oasis, was a bit on the big side, to put it mildly. Afterall, it is the largest ship on the seas, today. It is bigger than some towns! There were 5,000+ passengers and 2,000 crew.  Our first port was Nassau, where we explored the Atlantis for a bit. Apparently without purchasing an expensive day pass, you can’t really see much. Womp! When we got back on board, Mr. Fiancé’s brother told us we were changing course due to a hurricane! That little jokester, I thought he was kidding. But sure enough, there was a note in our stateroom that said we were changing course due to a tropical storm that was 100% likely to become a hurricane.  100%? Yeah, that sounds like a guarantee to me. GET ME OUTTA HERE! So the Captain made the executive decision to avoid that and head west to Mexico. I heard some passengers complaining, and I really can’t understand why. Would you really rather travel straight into a hurricane? Really people?  You are on a vacation, on a boat, floating in the sea. Be thankful there is radar technology to detect this. Stop complaining and enjoy your vacation. We thought it might affect us when we were returning to Florida, but it dissipated near Haiti. Thank goodness!  The seas were like glass and we had the most perfect weather you could ask for. I even saw dolphins chasing the side of the boat!  Dolphins! In the wild!  Every cruise I go on, I always look over the edge but never see this. I was like a little girl in Disney World for the first time!

Instead, we sailed to Costa Maya and Cozumel.  In Costa Maya, we went to a beach with an open bar. At the port, there was a pool in the middle of the shopping area.  We swam for a bit, until his cousin puked in the pool. GROSS! Even if I saw a shark, I don’t think I could have gotten out any faster! I bolted.

Costa Mayan port pool. In the distance you can see The One and Only Huge Boat.
I think they forgot they were writing in English.

In Cozumel- I saw a jewelry factory and ate Mexican food! You would think Mexico would have the best Mexican food, but sadly, I make better guacamole.  But the water in Cozumel is GORGEOUS!  Crystal clear sea green, turquoise blue and deep blue, all together. Four of the grandchildren and I went on a snorkeling catamaran. There were a lot of people on this excursion, but to my surprise, the fish around the reef still came near the swimmers anyways.  It completely astonishes me that under the water’s surface is an entirely different world.  Sharks, whales, dolphins, sting rays, octopus, fish, and all kinds of sea creatures, all have their own life that you cannot see when you are floating atop the water. But when you snorkel or scuba you get a small glimpse into their world.

Does it getting any prettier than this?
Would you buy anything from this store?

Back on the boat, I realized it surprisingly didn’t feel big at all, despite its 16 floors, 7 ‘neighborhoods’ and endless entertainment opportunities.  In fact, I wondered if I explored all there was to see on the ship because it was just so easy to find your way around. It was the most brilliantly designed ship I have ever been on. I am not kidding, you could fit an entire other cruise ship inside it and not know the difference!  One comedian even joked the Norwegian Sky passengers were relaxing in port  on their top deck tanning until The Oasis pulled up next to it (hear: Star Wars Imperial March song) and suddenly the sun was gone!

The back of the boats are lined up. Look how HUGE The Oasis is!

The boat has beautiful tree-lined Central Park neighborhood in the middle of the boat. That’s right, trees on a boat!  Necessary? No.  Brilliant? Yes. Listening to a guitarist play classical music, under the stars, sitting in a park, while floating at sea was extremely relaxing and pure perfection! There was a full-sized carousel, a zip line, two rock-climbing walls, a basketball court, putt-putt course, and a simulated surfing wave pool in the back of the boat.  I wanted to try the zip line and FloRider, but didn’t have the chance. There was just so much to do and so much sun to soak up.

Central Park. Yes, this is on a Boat.
Park benches

Most boats have the running track on the same level as the pool causing joggers to trip over people laying out. Not this behemoth.  It had a state-of-art gym and a designated open-air private running track equipped with motivational signs to keep you going. Genius. We saw the Broadway hit Hairspray and a water acrobatic diving show during the sea days.  The boat even had a floating bar that vertically moved from floor to floor, but this was anti-climatic and actually quite problematic if you had to use the bathroom.

Despite the hurricane detour, this was one of the most delightful cruises I have been on. I came back from vacation feeling rejuvenated, refreshing and relaxed.  Isn’t that what a vacation is supposed be like?!

I had 1 1/2 of these puppies. Look at that portion size!
Carousel in the Boardwalk neighborhood

 

Look what Nanny did on a 2 cent machine!! I can’t even get one row!
Alice in Wonderland chair

How do you like to travel?  Have you cruised before? What is your favorite cruise line? What is your perfect vacation?