Next Step Ready!

This program is designed to help you choose a career path that is best suited to your personality, interests, career values, and skills. With your unique personal attributes and experiences in mind, you will have a better understanding of what you have to offer employers and the world of work. You will also have a better understanding of what you need in a job to feel most fulfilled. Armed with this knowledge, Next Step Ready! will help you to set long and short-term goals to best prepare you for your future.  Read more!

Job Search Ready!

This program has been designed to give you the edge you need for a successful job search in today's market. Job Search Ready! will help you to understand the complexities of the job search process while providing you with tips and strategies to stand out from other applicants. Not only will you learn how to craft winning job search correspondence, you will also start establishing your personal brand so that potential employers will notice and remember you for all the right reasons.   Read more!

And There It Was.

Happy Little Family

My friend, there is a fire inside of you.”  These were the first words that I wrote on ChasingYourFire.com nearly two years ago. I hand picked them because I felt a burning truth in the pit of my stomach, an indescribable knowing that there was more to life than what I was currently living. I didn’t yet know how to fully make sense of it, but I knew without question that there had to be others who felt the same way as I did – those also desiring to become the most extraordinary versions of themselves. And so, Chasing Your Fire was born – partly for others, but in truth, mostly for myself.

What is your deepest desire for your life?” I asked sincerely. ”If money, prestige, power, and personal circumstances were of no concern to you, what would you want to be doing right now?“  I thought I knew.  As a modern day career woman, I thought the dissonance I felt growing inside of me was intended to push me towards achieving important, larger-than-life things out there in the working world. So I powered forward.

I was well on my way to those things when life (or perhaps more of a Divine Hand) threw me a curve ball. Suddenly I discovered that I was pregnant, and it scared the bejesus out of me. I was afraid that being a mom would mean that I would lose focus on my career and that I would ultimately never do the big things I set out to do (as it often happens for working moms). I was also worried that I wouldn’t have anything to write about on Chasing Your Fire because being a mom, I thought, was rather ordinary.  Read the rest of this entry

Chasing Your Fire 2.0

And then there were three...It’s unbelievable to think that I’m literally at the brink of everything (and I mean life as I know it) changing. As I type this post, I’m 38 1/2 weeks pregnant with our firstborn – a son, who will be named Grayson. You would think that 9 months is enough to prepare for such a huge life event, but… not so much. As exciting and completely wonderful as my pregnancy journey has been, I feel as if I’m standing on a ledge about to jump with no earthly idea what the landing will look like. More than anything, I’m praying that I won’t fall flat on my face to be perfectly honest.

You see, I’m a planner. And up and till this point in my life I have been 100% committed to my professional future, pushing myself to go beyond my own limits to pursue an extraordinary life. Thing is, as my posts here have gotten fewer and farther between, I’ve realized that I’ve been so focused on chasing my professional fire, that I’ve felt torn and confused about my desire to also chase my fire as a soon-to-be mother. Those two things have seemed incompatible at best, and even though women like Sheryl Sandberg coach us to “lean in” at home and work, there’s no script for any of this. And it is completely unnerving.

This week, I had to ask my boss for flexibility in my work schedule to allow a before-5pm pick-up at Grayson’s daycare. I felt so incredibly guilty, and kept thinking that he must think I am not at all committed to my job now that I’m about to be a mom. And then there’s this whole maternity leave thing that is about to happen. “Hey, thanks for hiring me, and oh, by the way, I’ll need to be gone for 6-8 weeks (at least) while our office faces its busiest time of the year. Much obliged.” Urgh. I still cringe at the thought of it. Lucky for me, my boss finds it quite amusing that I’m trying so hard to hang on to my professional self. He must know something I don’t about this whole work-life-balance thing, as he shakes his head at my complete embarrassment and gently reminds me that “family comes first” before mumbling, “you’ll see,” under his breath. Read the rest of this entry

Embracing Grief

imageLife has this really unfortunate way of ripping the rug right from under you sometimes. For my friend Kim, it was the sudden death of her beloved furry companion, Grace, that rocked her to her very core. For my friend Mary, it was learning that her 10 week old fetus no longer had a heart beat. And for me, it was hearing that my mother is losing her 5-year battle with lymphoma and that her passage from this world is inevitable. (This while I’m carrying her first grandson a continent away.)

There’s really no good way to deal with the kind of news that means that nothing will ever be the same again. Often, your spiraling thoughts and uncontrollable emotions swallow you whole for a few days (weeks? months?) as you try to make sense of your increasingly complex reality. Songs on the radio take on new meaning (even the “cup song” made me cry!), comedies lose their appeal, and your world slows down to a painful crawl.

And then there are those days when you are just pissed off at the world – and mostly yourself. You ask how this could possibly have happened. You wonder why you didn’t do this or the other (“How could I have been so stupid?”) because surely you could have stopped this madness if you had just tried a little harder.

Mostly, you just feel completely and utterly powerless.

Read the rest of this entry

Why Social Media Isn’t All About You

Daddy's little girl

Last month, on June 16th, my Facebook newsfeed was flooded with pictures of daddies and their daughters in honor of Father’s Day. Given that most of my friends are now married, many posts commemorated special wedding day moments shared between father and daughter.  Following trend, I chose the picture above, which was the moment when my sweet, teary-eyed Daddy gave his little girl away to my now-husband. “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy!” I wrote happily. “Though I am all grown up now with a little one of my own on the way, I will forever be your little girl. I love you!!”

And I didn’t give it another thought.

That is, until the next day when one of my high school friends wrote on her newsfeed, “It was so beautiful to see all the pictures of my friends with their fathers on their wedding day. It was painful, too, as I wasn’t as lucky to share that moment with mine.” Pow! Right in the gut. Read the rest of this entry

Get Your Craft On! DIY Burp Cloths

BurpCloth4I am a huge advocate for creativity in work and in life, as I believe that it is food for the soul in many ways and a critical part of liberating your inner awesome. Realizing that it’s been about a year since the last post I shared about creativity on ChasingYourFire, I thought it high time that I get your creative juices flowing once again.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been doing tons of DIY projects to prepare for the arrival of our little boy, Grayson, who should be joining us in early October. (Yay!!) This weekend’s project involved making the most darling burp cloths ever. I am so excited about them – mostly because my vomit-aversive self hopes that the cuteness will help distract me from the copious amounts of spit-up that I will be wiping up with them. (I know, who am I kidding?) No need for burp cloths yourself? They will make the BEST and most inexpensive baby shower gifts for mamas-to-be!

I drew inspiration from this post on Cards And More, though I adapted it slightly. Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 standard bath towel for every 9 burp cloths – Wal-Mart brand is fine and costs only about $4!
  • 10 inches each of the fabric of your choice (each one will make 2 burp cloths) – about $1 a piece at Joanne’s when you hit a sale!
  • Coordinating thread Read the rest of this entry

Why “Follow Your Passion” Is The Only Advice

Flowers growing in rocks.Over the past year, there has been quite a bit of buzz in the media surrounding the concept of  ”passion” in life and work. Unfortunately, not all has been positive. One CNN article, titled simply “Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ is Bad Advice,” for instance, showcased author Cal Newport’s argument against what he deemed an inherently “flawed suggestion.” The article peaked my interest immediately, especially given that the “passion” message is one that I’ve been sharing quite freely and confidently, though it has taken me some time to formulate a response.

If you’ve been following my writing, you’ll know that I often use words like “passion,” “purpose,” and  ”best self.” I don’t use these words lightly. To me, they are a call to action for each of us to seek a life that goes beyond the ordinary “everyday” – words to remind us to always push ourselves to become better – not only for ourselves, but also for others. It is about living richer, fuller lives, and not settling for anything less than the life that we’ve dared to imagine for ourselves.

It is a powerful notion, and one that I know resonates with many. In my practice as a college Career Counselor, students often come to me defeated by life’s existential questions while trying to decide on a career path. The interesting thing is that once we dig deep enough, we often uncover the clear existence of “that one thing” that they wish they were brave enough to do. Maybe they secretly want to pursue music, but they’ve been made to believe this is not a viable option. Maybe they secretly want to start their own business, but worry that they may not have the skills or financial backing necessary to be successful. Or maybe they secretly want to travel the world before life gets too complicated, but they are scared of the big unknown. Read the rest of this entry

Beware of Your Bark

Lucy & Vera - by  Blair McElroy PhotographyMy dog Lucy doesn’t play well with others. Having lived her previous life as a stray, she tends to look at any other furry creature as unwanted competition or food – whichever comes first. I was reminded of this again today as the pups and I sat under our favorite tree, located just behind our new home – a remodeled farmhouse. Life is usually pretty perfect in that spot, surrounded by nothing but the peace of rolling farmlands and crisp, blue skies. That was until today, when Lucy spotted three deer on the hill.

I watched in slow motion as the hair on her back raised up (never a good sign) and as she darted in their direction, ready for the kill. We’ve learned over the years that it is best to have Lucy on a chain, staked firmly in the ground, because when she turns into the Incredible Hulk she’s sure to rip off the well-meaning limb that holds her leash. Thank God that the stake held in place reliably, as she didn’t get very far despite her ferocity. Her bark scared the bejesus out of me, as it did the deer – who darted away to safety pretty quickly. They knew what I did: Lucy wasn’t playing.

It’s actually pretty scary to watch her primal instincts kick in. On any other occasion she is a really sweet girl who is afraid of everything – including trash bags, paper, loud noises, and silver water bowls. But not when unwanted furry company arrives. Oh no, then she is a fearless attack dog ready for the kill. And there’s no calming her down. She’s seen something “other” in her territory, and that’s just not okay. Read the rest of this entry

Rediscover Your Everyday

Paint texture by ba1969

The other day I found myself about 50 people deep into one of the world’s most inefficient airport security lines. It was 5:05 in the morning, which I knew only because I kept checking my watch, irritated beyond belief. Suddenly, a bright-eyed twenty-something behind me tapped my shoulder. “Excuse me,” she said anxiously. “My plane boards in thirty minutes! Do you think I will make it?” Her voice was panicky, and her hand was shaking as she shoved her boarding pass in my direction.

“Well I sure hope so, since my flight is leaving at the same time,” I said irritated. As I turned back around, I noticed her nervously waiving at a group of people just beyond the security barricades. Cameras flashed incessantly, accompanied by cheers and bright encouraging smiles. It suddenly dawned on me that she might not have ever done this before.

I turned back around (this time a little friendlier), asking whether she flies often. Her eyes lit up as she shared with me that she, a first generation college student from Tennessee, had just landed an internship of a lifetime in California working with a professional sports team. Her family was so proud. She grabbed a thick folder from her carry-on to show me that she had done tons of research prior to the flight to understand more about how this airport business all worked. Still, she was so confused. Poor kid. She was scared out of her mind. Read the rest of this entry

Time to Clean House!

Source: fbcdn-sphotos-d-a.akamaihd.net via Vera V. on Pinterest

There’s something therapeutic in ridding ourselves of things we no longer need. Never is this more obvious than as you pack up your belongings in preparation of a move. If you have had a moving experience anything like ours, you most likely found yourself standing in the middle of a room of “must-haves” of years past asking yourself, “Where did all this junk come from, and why in the world do I still have it?!”

It is incredible just how much we can accumulate. Nine years ago I arrived in America with a single suitcase and a box of bedroom essentials. I was beginning a new life and I didn’t need much other than hopeful ambition. Boy, what an eye-opening experience to be hit with the realization that I have since then somehow acquired a 3 bedroom house filled to the brim! (The word “pack rat” was uttered more than just a few times by my sweet, frustrated husband as we tried in vain to pack it all in a 8x8x16 foot POD.)

Yesterday as I was visiting with a friend, her adorable 3 year-old son caught my eye. I watched him as he walked around the yard picking up seemingly meaningless things, carefully placing them in his pocket while exclaiming his delight. “I found a treasure!” he would squeel in the most adorable way. As his pockets got heavier and heavier, his smile grew bigger and bigger. He was such a happy little collector, proud of his belongings.

I couldn’t help but look at the many “treasures” in front of me and realize that I had done the same thing over the past 9 years. Unfortunately, my pockets had reached their limits and the writing was on the wall: it was time to clean house.

Read the rest of this entry

Be Someone’s Pooh

 

There’s little in this world more powerful than friendship, isn’t there? Elbert Hubbard believed that “a friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” Though it is incredibly liberating to lay your soul bare to someone and to find that they love you anyway, I have learned that friendship doesn’t require such depth to still have profound impact. I’m sure you’ve experienced, as I have, that the kindness of new acquaintances can warm the heart equally.

Just as I started to write this post, my phone rang – a thoughtful coworker inviting me to have dinner with her family this evening. Though we’ve only known each other for about a month, she knew that being without my partner at the moment meant that weekends tend to get very long. But did she have to open her home to me? Absolutely not. So in this and other selfless invitations, she has shown herself to be the kind of friend that I aspire to be.

I’ve been lucky to know many friends whose selflessness and generosity have simply blown me away – mostly because if I’m honest with myself, I’m not certain that I have done the same for them as I should have. I admit ashamedly that once I met my partner, David, it became much more comfortable  for me to stay at home with him instead of making time to visit with friends or do things for others. Never was this more obvious to me than during our recent move. I had several friends who went out of their way to help me pack boxes and visit before our departure.

Who in the world wants to pack boxes when they don’t have to? No-one, that’s who. But that’s exactly the point, isn’t it? REAL friends do the things that they really don’t have to or want to do. Read the rest of this entry

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