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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

See You Next Year


So far this week I have thought that every day was Friday. Can you tell that I am excited about the upcoming 3-day weekend?
 
I hope that as this year draws to a close, that you are happy with your accomplishments. Have you recognized even your smallest victories? I know that there is always more that you may want to accomplish, but please do take some time to smell the roses.
 
Although we should do it every day, this time of year is great for showing gratitude. So hug a family member, or friend and tell them that you love them. Encourage someone. Smile more. Believe in yourself.
 
I will be back in the New Year with blog posts to continue to assist, and with any luck, inspire you on your journey to being who you were always meant to be.
 
If you feel so inclined, please let me know in the comment section what you have enjoyed about the blog this year, as well as what you would like to see in the New Year.
 
Until next time-- Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Are you a healer?


Earlier this week I received a weekly newsletter from Yvonne Bynoe, a business coach who helps women excel in business. The post "Who Are You Meant to Heal With Your Business" has stayed with me over the past few days.

This is the time of year when most people take stock of the progress they have made, and  try to figure out what successes they would like to have in the new year. What goals are you looking to accomplish in 2012? What new subject or skill will you learn? Who will you help?

If you are looking to start a business or improve upon the business you already have Bynoe's post may help to guide you in the right direction.

In the post Bynoe explains that we are all healers in a sense. She writes:

As an entrepreneur your “healing” comes with helping your clients to solve a problem and to have a better quality life .  You don’t have to be in an esoteric field to “heal” your clients.  An accountant through forecasting and clear records can “heal”clients’ fears about their financial security.  A hairdresser, stylist or make-up artist by creating a fabulous new look for a client, can “heal” her damaged self-esteem.  A personal chef whose delivering nutritious meals can “heal” the guilt that busy mothers may feel about not cooking for their families.

How can your business, skill, or talents help to heal the needs of someone else?

To help you gain more clarity about your purpose, and the needs your business will serve, you may continue reading Bynoe's post here .

Friday, December 9, 2011

WWII Vet Graduates


At the age of 90 Michael Zone, a World War II veteran, has graduated from high school. Even after all of his years of life experience he still saw the importance of an education.

According to a Huffington Post article Zone attended Desert Rose Adult High School. The school's motto, "It's never too late to graduate" has never been more true.

Friends of this blog know how much I adore stories like this one. I love to see adults who can truly say that it is never too late to be who they might have been. I know a lot of 20, 30, and 40 year olds who use their age as an excuse not to start something new, or go after a dream. Zone shows through his accomplishment that it can be done.

Zone values education saying, "Without an education you're lost." He also says that life is a lot more interesting when you have an education. I must say that I completely agree.

Check out this man's story  and if you have been putting something off because you think you are too old, think again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Life Links



Sunday, December 4, 2011

Appreciating Your Accomplishments


What have you accomplished this year? How about in the past 5 years? Some  may say that they have not accomplished much. If you take a closer look, however, you may find that you have accomplished many new things.

 I find that when I accomplish something new I have a tendency to behave as if it is no big deal. I think to myself, "Oh anyone could have done that."

A good friend of mine pointed out  that I need to take a moment and enjoy my successes. I may not be where I want to be yet, but I am better than I used to be. If I do not appreciate what I have accomplished now, I won't appreciate it when I get to the future "there" either.



 I want to encourage you to take an assessment of where you are in your life. What great things have you accomplished? Did you learn something new? Did you create something? Did you help someone? Were you more courageous in a certain situation? Did you go back to school? Volunteer?

I'm positive if you look closely enough, you will find that you have accomplished a lot. Try making a list of 5 new things you did this year. You will be surprised by the results.

Share what new things you have accomplished this year in the comments section, so that we may all celebrate with you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Man learns to read at 96


Friends of this blog know how much I love a story of someone achieving a dream at any age. I have an especially  big place in my heart for those who learn to read later in life. The joy and gratitude new readers show after learning to read, shows what a gift reading really is.

Jim Henry was 96 years old when he moved into a senior living community in Connecticut. Once there he admitted that he could not read or write.  He was, however, determined to learn.

Two years later, Henry is the author of his very own book, "In A Fisherman's Language". The book tells the story of Henry's life and his work as a fisherman.

Watch Jim Henry as he happily signs his autograph into his book here.

Henry is just another example in a long list of people who have achieved great things later life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Excuses


Making a change, especially one as big as going after a dream that seems impossible, requires courage. Sometimes the fear of failing causes us to have many false starts. We often perpetually procrastinate and make excuses for ourselves. What excuses have you given for not doing the very things that will lead you to the life you really want? Do they sound like this?
  • I'm too tired.
  • I don't have enough time.
  • My job, spouse, or children take up all of my energy.
  • I'm not smart enough.
  • I'm too old now, so why even try.
  • I've tried it before and it hasn't worked.
  • I don't know where to begin.
  • I am a failure.
This list could go on and on. I'm sure that you could add many other excuses to this list as well.

I came across this picture while on Twitter. (Follow me @kprizzy). As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Really excuses are just that, excuses. I love the look of sheer joy on this child's face as he runs towards the finish line. It must feel so good to overcome all limitations, doubts, and fears as he runs towards his goal.
I believe we all have that same courage inside of us.

Here's to letting go of fears and excuses, and going forward in the direction of your dreams. No matter how many times you've tried it before, or how long you've waited to start, it's never too late.

Cheers.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Begin Again


There are a lot of things that I regret not doing in my life. Things didn't neccesarily turn out the way I planned. Are you able to relate to this? Lately I have been doing a lot of soul searching. Trying to figure out how I can make those dreams that have long been hidden deep inside of my heart come true. I have told myself again, and again... It is never too late.

Recently I came across this post, Setting the Tone New Beginnings from a series on new beginnings by Ian Lawton.  The post was everything that I needed to hear. In the post Lawton teaches readers how to set the right tone and intention for a new beginning. He also helps readers to believe that second chances are possible. He writes:

Second, third and seven hundredth chances are built into the nature of life. When you truly believe that, you can set about living on purpose and without regrets. You are not alive at this time in history with your unique blend of experience and skill by accident. You are not reading this article at this time in your life by accident. There are things that you still need to express and manifest in the world, and your next thoughts, words and actions will set the tone for the rest of your life and help to create the future for all.

Continue reading more of this great post here. Hopefully, you will be well on your way to a new beginning in your own life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Big Give


Tomorrow 11-10-11 begins a 24-hour period of philanthropy known as "The Big Give".  From November 10th at 11:00am to November 11th at 11:00am you can give to a non-profit organization that you care about and have that donation matched by The Columbus Foundation.

Givers are able to choose between 600 different non-profit organizations to support. Any money given by you will be matched. Now is the time to make a  great  difference in your community. So give, give, give!

Find out how you can support your local non-profits here:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Admissions Essay Word Limit



As an adult student you may feel like you have a lot of life to try and fit into an admissions essay for college. How do you show the admissions representatives who you really are while staying below a word limit?

The college admissions essay is a part of the application process that often gives students the most anxiety. In the essay, applicants work hard to really let the admissions counselors get to know them beyond their test scores and grades. After writing what they feel is a nearly perfect essay the student finds out that their 800-word essay is longer than the 500-word maximum allowed.

Continue reading my latest article, "500 Words, No Problem: 5 Tips for Staying Within the Admissions Essay Word Limit".




Sunday, October 30, 2011

Single Parent Scholarships

Going to college can be both rewarding and challenging. Adult or non-traditional students have additional responsibilities that the average college age student does not. When I worked to complete my bachelor's degree I had a full-time job, and a household to maintain. I did not, however, have children. An adult student who is also a single parent, may face even more stress while working to provide a home for themselves and their children. They must not only handle bills, but must also take care of their family.

While visiting Fastweb I noticed this article which details several college scholarships that were designed with single parents in mind.

If you have returned to college recently or are thinking about returning, look into these scholarships. They may be just the financial help you need.

On Fastweb be sure to complete a profile which will help the site find scholarships that you qualify for.

I know I've said this before, but there are so many scholarships that are never awarded because no one applies for them. It is so much better to get a scholarship, rather than a loan. A scholarship does not need to be repaid,where as a loan does.

Read my article, "What to Know Before You Borrow" to see why borrowing should be done wisely and sparingly.

Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Steps to a Do-it-Yourself No Flaw Makeover

Guest Post
 
 

Many of life’s events require special attention to being appropriately dressed.  Without realizing it our personal apparel is a reflection of our current life moment (ie: new job,  motherhood etc.).  If we find that routine slumped or in need of reviving there is no shortage of resources at our disposal. 
 I spent the early part of my fashion career sitting through countless episodes of "What Not to Wear" while completing my Bachelor's degree in Fashion. No need to hire Stacy and Clinton, I have gleaned the show for real life usage and created five ways you can put your makeover in your own hands.
 
Step 1-- There is always time in life for inspiration.  Yes, inspiration from current popular magazines or online fashion resources.  Allow yourself to be reduced to your 2nd grade imagination and make a collage of clothing and accessories you like or want to learn to wear.  *Note: if this makeover was staged by family/ friends then this exercise is for them.
Step 2--Assess what you currently own, yes everything.  This will require pulling out non-seasonal or stowed clothes.  You will be forced to realize what it is you buy (which is not necessarily what you wear).
Step 3-- Use your tear sheets or collage for guidance to gather gently used (and clean) items that do not align with your desired new look.  Donate things of value and discard the rest.
Step 4-- Go shopping within your personal budget.  A clearance rack will be your best friend in stocking up on some items (even if it’s for next season).  If money is not an object, take this time to explore the best vintage stores in your area.  You will develop an eye for quality here and gain better insight into key pieces to balance your wardrobe.
Step 5-- Try your new and improved look out immediately!  Your new way of dressing will only become a way of life if it becomes a habit (which on average takes 3-4 weeks).  When putting your pieces together don’t be afraid to refer to your collage.  It should be a guideline; allowing for easy substitutions where appropriate.
 
Other Tips:
 
--Try voluminous hair.
--Experiment with berry/ red lipstains and lipsticks.
--Invest in a good blazer if you spend money on any key piece.
 --Pick up one item of either : faux, cheetah, fur or python.
--A wedge shoe is your best shoe choice.
 

Guest Post Intro

When you are going after a dream later in life, such as changing careers, starting a business, traveling to a foriegn country, or even volunteering more, you want to look your best while you do it. As the old saying goes, when you look better, you feel better... also people respond better to you.

I admit, I am no expert on fashion or beauty, but I  do know when I am in dire need of a makeover.
Enter this week's guest post from Rose who blogs about all things fashion and beauty related at "RoseLovesFashion".

Check out her bio, and then her post, " 5 Steps to a Do- it- Yourself No Flaw Makeover ".



Rose Jeffries is an all-around fashion and beauty enthusiast, and is known in the fashion industry as RoseLovesFashion .  She is a full time fashionpreneur; balancing her time between blogging, attending fashion related events and creating apparel business opportunities.  Within six months of blogging she was interviewed by SpunLive, while in attendance at Nolcha Fashion Week SS’ 12 in NY.  She has a love for independent labels, eco brands/ natural products and encouraging women's initiatives.  Inspiration for her blog posts come from her real life experiences, researching trends and finding fashionable solutions for every budget and figure.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coping with Stress



We all face stress in life. One of the most stressful times is when you are working to improve your life. As adult students we often not only have to deal with the nomal stresses that traditional students face, but also adult responsibilities like handling a full-time job, bills, and  raising a family.

It is important that we know how to properly cope with stress.  In my latest article written for Fastweb, I let you know why stress is bad for your health, and give you some inexpensive techniques for handling stress in a positive way.

Here is an excerpt from my article, "Coping with College Stress."

Let’s face it, college can be very stressful. Between carrying a full-time course load, work-study or a part-time job, internships, exams, papers due, finding time for friends, and keeping in touch with your family, it can all be too much. Some stress may be healthy, but too much of it will make you very sick.

Continue reading the full article HERE.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Praise and Thanks


After a week that was filled with a lot of self-doubt and 3, yes 3 rejection letters it was so uplifting to log into my email and to find that I have been nominated for a Liebster award.

My teacher and mentor Deesha Philyaw who blogs over at Mamalicious nominated me for this wonderful award.  So I want to send her a huge THANKS! 

According to the rules of this award I must now:

1. Show thanks to the blogger who gave you the Award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment at their blog.
3. Post the Award on your blog.
4. Enjoy the love of some of the most supportive people on the Internet!

My 5 Liebster nominees are:

LadyBuddha Speaks http://ndcollier.wordpress.com/

Community Cucina http://communitycucina.com/

The Style Sanctuary http://roselovesfashion.onsugar.com/

Co-Parenting 101 http://coparenting101.org/

Musings From The Slush Pile http://blog.juliealindsey.com/

I hope you will visit each of these blogs and discover something that helps you along in your journey!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Free

I came across this picture while visiting a friend's Facebook page. It inspired me so much that I cried. To me this picture represents all that I am working to accomplish.

The sculpture, Freedom Sculpture, by Zenos Frudakis is located at 16th and Vine street in Philidelphia, Pennsylvania.

In the first frame of the sculpture the woman is trapped in what I identify as unhappiness, defeat, failure, etc. She uses her faith and her will to begin to break out of her circumstances. In the third frame she appears to fight her way out of her current position with every ounce of strength she has.  Which leads to the fourth frame, which is a stance of freedom. She never gave up.

Click here, to read about the artist's motivation in creating this piece, and to see more of his inspiring work.

What mold do you need to break out of? What are you fighting for? I hope that this picture inspires you while you are on your journey towards freedom, as it has me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Links for the Journey

As someone who is working to create a more fulfilling and balanced life, I am always on the look out for any new information that will help me along on my journey. Here are some interesting links I found around the web. Maybe one of them will inspire, motivate, entertain, challenge or change you in some way.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Angel List

 

Have you considered starting your own business, but don't know where to get help with your start up costs?  Perhaps you even tried to apply for a business loan, but were denied.  What do you do when you believe in the potential success of your business, but do not know where to find the capital? Trusted investors are often hard to come by, but without them most people do not have the money necessary to fund a new business.

 

Enter AngelList , a social networking site which connects new business owners with investors. A new business owner simply goes on to the site and sets up a profile. They then select which investors can see their profile. Investors decide which businesses to fund.

 

In the Huffingtonpost article "Naval Ravikant, AngelList: A Social Network That Connects Startups With Investors"  the founder of AngelList  discusses why he started this new website and how it benefits start up companies. 

 

If you are seriously thinking of starting your own company, check out the article and find out how you can make your goal of finding an investor for your business a reality.




Thursday, September 22, 2011

X Factor Grants Second Chance


Simon Cowell's new reality competition The X Factor premiered on Fox on Wednesday. While the show highlighted a lot of outstanding talent, it was the competitors who were going after their second chances who stole the show.

Stacy Francis, a 40-year-old single mother of two, auditioned after many years of doubting herself. She dated a man who told her that she was too old to go after her dreams, and she believed him. Finally, she stopped holding herself back, and when she opened her mouth to sing...she proved the old boyfriend-- and any other person who ever doubted her-- wrong.

See Stacy singing Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman" Here.

Chris Rene recently got out of rehab after years of drug and alcohol abuse. He decided to not only stay clean this time, but to  go after his lifelong dreams. With 70 days sober, Chris sang an original song that he hoped would one day inspire his son.

Check his audition out here.

What chances have you been keeping yourself from taking?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

7 Mistakes Job Seekers Make

Whether you are looking for your very first job, or seeking a career change after returning to college, you want to be sure that you are making the best impression possible. Many job seekers make mistakes that could easily be avoided. Below is an article I wrote for Fastweb and College Monster:

The day you graduate from college may be one of the happiest days of your life. The sense of accomplishment, the acknowledgement of a job well done, the pat on the back from your family and peers elates you. The future looks so bright, until you begin to search for a new job and are met with rejection after rejection. Then you begin to wonder if all of your years of hard work pursuing a college degree were worth it, if you can not find a job.

Some first time job seekers may be making mistakes that they are not even aware of. If you have found yourself committing any of the below offenses, stop, and change course immediately.

Contine reading "7 Mistakes First Time Job Seekers Make: And How to Avoid Them" to find out if you are making careless mistakes in your job search.

Friday, September 9, 2011

From Around the Web



Here are a few links from around the web, that are interesting, inspiring, and helpful for anyone who is experiencing change or going after their Second Chance.

USNews writer Mariam Salpeter shows readers, How to Find a Job in a "Jobless Economy". Learn the new methods for gaining employment.

Motivational speaker Les Brown shares his story of conquering cancer, and learning to be fearless. His Monday Motivation video is here.

Going through a divorce? Find out how to break the news to your children over on Co-Parenting 101 .

"20 Surprising Higher Education Facts" from USNews.

Learn how to build your brand with, "3 Keys to a Brand That Stands Out".  And check out the rest of their 6-part series on branding while you're there.

Love to read? Check out these places to read free E-books.

And if you haven't done so already, find out why adult learners need internships too in my article for Fastweb.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Adult Learners Need Internships Too



When I first graduated from college I thought, “Ok, great I have my B.A. in English-- bring on my writing/editing jobs.”  As I researched the jobs I really wanted, I saw that I was lacking one very vital thing, experience.
All of my experience had been in the banking and business world. In spite of it having always been my dream, I didn't have any recent or tangible experience in the writing, publishing, public relations, or any other field where writers are heavily used. This could have been avoided if I would have done one simple thing… completed an internship.

Read more of my article over on Fastweb or MonsterCollege. Find out why adult learners need internships too. Also, check out the best places to find and apply for internship opportunities.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Online vs. Classroom




In the past few years online education has begun to dominate higher education. Still a lot of people have never tried an online class. Every student learns differently, so it's important to know which mode of learning will help you to successfully complete your degree.

Check out my latest article, "Online vs. Classroom: Which is Right for You?"  over on Fastweb.com to learn about the pros and cons of both classroom instruction, and online learning.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Scholarships




Since my article, "What to Know Before You Borrow" went up on Fastweb I've had a lot of readers ask me about scholarships.

 Fastweb is a website where you can search for scholarship opportunities.There are scholarships for just about anything you can imagine. Scholarships based on your age, interest groups you belong to, race, religion, sports you may have played etc. You simply create a profile and Fastweb sends you emails about new scholarships that you may qualify for. There are so many scholarships available if you do your research. Some scholarships never get awarded because students don't apply for them.

I thought this would be a good time to revisit some of my past posts about scholarship opportunities and compile them. Some have deadlines that are approaching soon.

-- Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship

--Love Your Body Contest

--Foundation for Global Scholars

--The Pedro Zamora Public Policy Fellowship

Check out Fastweb today for your own personalized scholarship search.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Before You Borrow

Student loans can often be confusing to college students. For adult learners student loans may be even harder to resist. You need money to pay for college tuition, yet because you work a full-time job you may not qualify for need based grants. So what do you do? Check out my article, "What to Know Before You Borrow" over on Fastweb.com that gives you a heads up on student loans.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Library

The other day I took my nearly two-year-old niece to the library for the first time. A lover of books it seems from the time she was an infant, nothing made her happier than being read a book. (Even if it was the same one over and over again.) As we made our way into the Columbus Metropolitan Library the look in her eyes can only be described as shock and awe. There were books everywhere she seemed to be thinking as she snatched her hand from mine and raced towards the shelf nearest us.

"Mine." She said as she grabbed down a book with colorful bears on the front cover. "My book!" She yelled as she snatched down yet another. We settled ourselves onto a couch and I read her book after book. As soon as we were finished with one she would jump down to pick another. I too have always been a lover of books, so I understood her elation. I began to think, however, about all of the children who don't have a plethora of books available to them.

In Zambia, Professor Mwizenge S. Tembo saw the need for a library in his village, so he started one. In his article, " A Professor Helps Raise a Library in His Native Town in Zambia"  Ryan Brown tells the story of Tembo who grew up without books himself, seeing his nephew  up late one night reading with a night light. He writes, "Curious, Mr. Tembo, who is a professor of sociology at Virginia's Bridgewater College, asked the boy the next morning what had kept him up so late. "Reading," he said. But when Mr. Tembo asked what book, his nephew shook his head. He didn't have any books, he explained. His reading material was the stack of notes he had taken that day in school."  Tembo decided right then that the children and his village needed a library.  Together Tembo, community leaders, and students in the small town of  Bridgewater, Virginia got together, raised money and collected books for the new library.  Of the new library  Tembo says, "The idea was not to build a monument, but something the community will use."

Even in the United States a lot of libraries are in trouble due to budget cuts, some have closed completely. Let's not take for granted something other people would readily pay to have. Support your local library by researching volunteer opportunities and ways to donate.  And return your checked out materials on time! :-)


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Be Your Own Boss



Just about every person I encounter wants to start his or her own business. Who wants to work for someone else when you can be your own boss? The idea of making your own hours, coming and going as you please, sleeping in, or taking vacations whenever you want is appetizing. There is, however, a lot more that goes into starting and running a successful small business.

In his article, "Are You Ready to Start a Business" Jeremy Reis writes about what it takes to really run your own business. He asks a series of questions to help readers really assess if being their own boss is realistic. 

In the article he says that business owners need to make decisions quickly, be able to deal with difficult personalities, and have the physical and emotional stamina to run the business.

If after reading the article you are positive that  you have what it takes to be your own boss, visit learnthat.com, a site run by Reis that allows users to learn about a variety of subjects for free, and begin to work on creating your success story.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

An Army of One

Let's face it, everyone is not on team positivity. When you decide to go after a lifelong dream or a more recently conceived goal, not everyone will be wishing you the best. Maybe you have decided to go back to school, change jobs, start your own small business, etc. Unfortunately, when you excitedly share these hopes with your friends or family they may not always see your vision the way you do. They may voice opinions that leave you feeling inadequate. This is when you have to become an army of one.


In his article, "5 Ways Your Negative Friends Can Drag You Down" Robert Pagliarini helps readers to recognize when people are trying to sabotage their goals, and offers a way to overcome the criticisms.

In the end, Pagliarini tells us that we must not allow the negativity of others to keep us from our dreams. Whether they say that we aren't good enough for what we want, that our plans won't work, or that they think our ideas are plain old dumb, we must push forward. If that doesn't work we could also do as Pagliarini says in his article, "When You Should Breakup With Your Mother" and breakup with negative friends.

Growing up I used to hear a saying often that said, "Not everyone can go where you are going." That is never more true than when you attempt to improve your life.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Love Your Body Contest



If you speak with almost any woman she will tell you that there is some part of her  body that she doesn't like. Many people blame the media for their portrayal of women as inadequate because of their body size, skin color, or hair type. The pictures on the fronts of magazines are often unrealistic and unattainable for the average woman which leaves her feeling like she is not enough just as she is.

The National Organization for Women Foundation is looking to break this cycle by holding the 2012 Love Your Body Campaign and Poster Contest. For the contest you must create a poster that is graphically appealing that opposes the current idea of beauty plastered on every magazine on the newsstand. The winner will receive $200 and will have his or her poster featured on the web, at Love Your Body events, and displayed in schools, and other public places.

For all of the artist out there, now is the time to use your talents to make a difference in the lives of girls and women everywhere.

Visit the Love Your Body site for more information on the contest today!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jesi Lea Ryan -Interview

Yesterday I posted my review of Jesi Lea Ryan's new novel "Four Thousand Miles". Today I have the pleasure of bringing you my interview with Jesi. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


KP: Have you always wanted to be a writer? Was there ever a time when that writing dream was deferred?

Jesi:  I remember wanting to be a writer as a child.  In fact, I published a children's book when I was eight years old called Grump: The Skump Who Ate Liver.  (Don't worry; no one else has heard of it either.)  But as I grew older, I didn't think a career in writing was practical.  I grew up in a poor family, and I thought that limited my options.  I sort of thought the only people who could be writers were those with families who could help support them until they made their way.  I majored in Creative Writing and Literature in college, because I was interested in it, not because I thought it would lead to a career.  After college, I entered the insurance industry and gave up writing for about a decade.  In 2009, my insurance position was downsized, and I suddenly found myself at a crossroads.  After plenty of discussion with my husband, I decided to give writing a shot.

KP: On your website you share that you lost your job in 2009, how did you find the courage to use that seemingly bad situation as a catalyst for your writing career.

Jesi: I think in general, I am a positive person.  Of course I felt bad about losing my job, because I loved it, but rather than dwelling on what I couldn't have, I decided to look ahead to new opportunities.  I treated myself to a one day pity-party.  I took one day off work to cry and throw things and curse the unfairness of it all.  Then, I picked myself up, dusted myself off and made the decision to move on.  I always wanted to try to write a novel, so that is what I set myself on course to do.

KP:  How did the idea for "Four Thousand Miles" come to you? What do you hope readers take away from the book?

Jesi:  Shortly before losing my job, my husband and I went on vacation to England.  I completely fell in love with the place!  Anyway, we were staying at Elvey Farm, a bed & breakfast in Kent (http://elveyfarm.co.uk/), and I began to day dream about how wonderful it would be to abandon my life in the States and stay there permanently.  Again, I'm too practical to actually do that, but I could create a fictional character to runaway to England for me. 

Most readers would see Four Thousand Miles as an escapist read, and it is, but if I were to attach a higher moral lesson to it that I want readers to take away from the book, I'd say that life is not a straight line.  Sometimes it gets off track and sends you into new directions.  Rather than getting depressed and scared about it, look at it as a new opportunity.

KP: What lessons have you learned about life through the writing and publishing of this book? What lessons have you learned about yourself?

Jesi: If someone wants to be a writer, they need to view writing as a reward in itself.  You can't count on getting rich or famous or on the bestseller list, and you have to be okay with that.  What have I learned about myself?  I really like being able to wear pajamas all day.  :)

KP: Why do you think so many people wait so long to change the direction of their lives, even when their current circumstances aren't working?

Jesi: I think most people are scared of change.  They don't have enough self-confidence to take chances.  I guess I understand that, but I can't relate at all.  I've just never been that way.  I see life as a journey.  It's too short to waste in an unhappy marriage, a dead-end job or stuck in your hometown. 

KP:  Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start over, or go after their second chance?

Jesi: Change can be scary and uncomfortable, but really, what is the worst that can happen?  I know that no matter what, I will not starve.  I will not lose the love of the people who matter most to me.  If all else fails, my mother has a room in her basement for me, my husband and my two kitties, so I will never be homeless.  If people just focus on the positive advantages to change rather then all of the "what if's," some really great things might happen.
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You can follow Jesi on twitter @Jesilea.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Four Thousand Miles

Four Thousand Miles
Jesi Lea Ryan
DCL Publications, LLC 2010. 431pp. $2.95


 "Four Thousand Miles" the debut novel by Jesi Lea Ryan begins with Natalie Spencer facing the worst day of her life. Without any notice she loses her job and  finds out that her marriage has been based on a lie. Without any where else to turn, Natalie decides to run away from it all . Using her severance pay she escapes to England. There she meets a kind stranger, Gavin Ashby, who shows Natalie that  her life is not over, but instead it is just beginning.

At over 400 pages this novel gives readers a sweeping view of England, and Ireland. Ryan manages to weave in some of everything from history to music into this modern day fairytale. This book is perfect for anyone who loves a wholesome romance that takes its time to develop. The reader is allowed to savor every moment, and see the world through Natalie's experiences.

I would have preferred the book have  a few more plot twists, but overall this is a strong debut from Jesi Lea Ryan.

If you have ever dreamed of running away and starting your life over then this is the book for you.

*The author provided a copy of  "Four Thousand Miles" for me to review.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Question of the Week

In his article, "A College Education for All, Free and Online"  Kevin Carey discusses a new university called University of the People  which offers online, tuition-free degrees. Created by Shai Reshef a successful educational entrepreneur, the school charges only minimal fees and provides people from all around the world with an opportunity to learn.

The school was founded in 2009 and since then has garnered a lot of attention. Schools such as NYU now accept transfer students from University of the People and the school even has a former top administrator from Columbia as its Provost, David Harris Cohen. Currently the school is seeking accreditation in America.

Would you ever attend a college that was free? Do you believe your degree would have the same value as one from a college that costs $40,000 + per year? Do you think more colleges will begin to offer free classes, and degrees?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Foundation for Global Scholars

Studying abroad is often the most exciting part of a student's college career. Getting to live, and learn in countries such as Malaysia, New Zealand, and Thailand while earning academic credit seems almost too good to be true. Yet every year thousands of American students spend at least a full semester abroad.


Foundation for Global Scholars has created several scholarship opportunities that will make it that much easier for students of any age to see the world. Each scholarship requires students to be enrolled in a North American college or university where transfer credit from a program abroad will be accepted. The awards range from $500-$2,000 dollars.

Check out the website to see the various scholarships offered, and how to apply here.  Traveling abroad does not have to remain only a dream. Apply today.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Volunteer

We have all seen the calls to volunteer on shows like Oprah. Millions of lives have been changed thanks to the hearts and hard work of people who simply want to make a difference.

Have you ever thought of volunteering but didn’t know where to begin? Perhaps your passion is teaching adults to read, feeding sick children, making blankets for foster children, re-building houses in disaster areas, or raising money for clean water in third world countries. Whatever your goal you can find a volunteer opportunity that is right for you.

VolunteerMatch is a place where you can go to find hundreds of volunteer opportunities around the country and abroad. The website matches your skills and goals with volunteer projects.

Darlene Grieger is an 80-year-old woman who as a birthday present to herself spent 12 weeks in Costa Rica working in an orphanage. She says it was one of the best things she has ever done in her life. You can read about her experience here.

Go over to VolunteerMatch and see where your help is needed. It's never too late to make a difference.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Question of the Week


Immigration has long been a hot button issue in the United States. Recently the state of Arizona passed a law that allows police officers to demand identification from anyone they suspect may be an illegal immigrant. Many people showed outrage over that new law and saw it as racist.

Whatever side of the immigration debate you find yourself on, there still remains the issue of education. What happens to illegal immigrants when it comes to higher education?

In his article, Academic Purgatory Ilan Stavans  writes about a student who he calls "Jorge" to protect the subjects identity. Jorge after three attempts escaped his birth country of Mexico when he was young. Fleeing from poverty, violence, and attacks he came to the United States in search of an education. He excelled in everything academically and after much dedication and sacrifice has now earned his Ph.D. .

In the article Stavan asks the question, An illegal immigrant earns a Ph.D. Now what? "Jorge" still can not get a job, live a normal life or bask in his accomplishments. He is still an illegal immigrant and at any moment can be found out and deported.

Read Stavan's article here and then let me know what you think.

Should illegal immigrants who have fled to this country for whatever reason be allowed to obtain higher education? What should happen after they graduate? If you could create a law concerning illegal immigration and higher education what solution would you come up with?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Want a Career Change? Get an M.B.A.

A person having several different careers  over the course of their lifetime is not unusual. Gone are the days where we get a job at 18 and keep it until retirement. So what should you do if you are looking to change the direction of your career?  There are many different ways to go about making a successful career change. 

Shadow someone who is already doing the job you want to get a sense of if it is right for you.
Volunteer for an organization and work in a position similar to the one you want to add experience to your resume.
Intern for a business and learn valuable industry related skills.
Update your resume highlighting any experience or skills you have that directly relate to the new career you are seeking.
Network with like-minded people. If you are looking to move into a certain field, find out where the people who work in that field are and go there. Join organizations and clubs that cater to that industry.
Go back to school.

According to USNews, "If you're looking for the fast track to gain the skills and network to launch your career in a new direction, a popular way to do so is through an M.B.A. program."

M.B.A. programs make it possible for a person who is changing careers to gain new knowledge, complete internships, create a network, build a resume, and gain employment. Seems like a win/win situation.

Stacy Blackman offers advice to those who are serious about pursuing an M.B.A. in her article. Also read my post on free practice tests because you will need to pass the GMAT exam in order to be accepted into most M.B.A. programs.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship

Xerox has created a scholarship program for minority students who are enrolled in technical degree programs at the 4-year degree level or above.

The scholarship, which can range from $1,000-$10,000, is designed to help qualified students pursue their college goals.  To apply, simply go to the scholarship website and download the application.

The application must be mailed in with a resume and cover letter by September 30, 2011.

Did you know that many scholarships that are available often go to waste because no one applies for them?



Don't miss out on this great opportunity.  If you or someone you know is pursuing a technical degree, apply today.

Read the FAQs  page to ensure you meet all eligibility requirements. Also, while visiting the website, take a look at the list of last year's Xerox scholarship winners. Maybe your name will be on this year's list.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

99-Year-Old Graduate

Some people think the 4 years it takes to earn a bachelor's degree is too long. Can you imagine waiting almost 80 years to complete your college degree? That is just what an Oregon man had to do. The Great Depression forced Leo Plass to walk away from his dream of being a teacher, and instead take work as a logger because it paid better.

Now in 2011, Plass has completed his last semester and graduated with his associate's degree.


90-year-old Laura Thresher Johnston received her master's degree in history from Sam Houston State University in 2005, making her the oldest person to ever receive a master's degree from the university. At the time of her graduation she said that she wanted to go on and attain her Ph.D.

Helen Small was 87- years- old when she earned her bachelor's degree, and at 90 she received her master's degree in psychology. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas after dropping out of school over 70 years ago. Of her accomplishments Small says," It's just mind over matter. If you want to do something badly enough you do it."

Over the years I have heard many stories like these. I have personally known and been inspired by men and women, well into their senior years, who had the courage to pursue their dreams.  As an adult literacy instructor I once had an 89-year-old student --who had just buried his wife of 60 years-- learn to read for the first time in his life.

What excuses have you been giving for not achieving your goals?  No excuses, No regrets.

If you want to do something badly enough you do it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Question of the Week


Many adults return to college after being out of school for years. During that hiatus they have often worked jobs, raised a family, and done volunteer work in the community, amongst other things. Returning students often feel that all of their life experiences should count for something. They see their learning outside of the classroom as being just as important as what is learned inside of a classroom.

Some colleges agree, and grant academic credit for life experience. According to the  City University of New YorkDuring the course of their career, adults often develop skills and knowledge that are equivalent to college coursework.

What do YOU think? Should adults who have been out of school for years be given credit for "life experience" in lieu of having to take all of the courses traditional students must take to obtain a degree?

Why or why not?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Voice

The Voice is a reality competition airing on NBC. On the show contestants were given the chance to sing for the show's four coaches, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton. During the audition the coaches' backs were turned so that each singer could be judged strictly for his or her voice. Age, height, weight, appearance, all went out of the window and only the talent remained.

The show has turned out to be quite the launching pad for second chances. Many contestants have had other false starts in the music industry and see being selected for this show as their new beginning.

Frenchie Davis first gained fame when she was a standout contestant on the second season of American Idol. She was an early fan favorite until she was suddenly disqualified because of some photos she had taken earlier in her career that violated Idol's rules. Many people saw the elimination as unfair, but this did not stop Frenchie. She went on to perform on Broadway in the long running Rock Opera "RENT", and toured in the revival of "Ain't Misbehavin."  After her audition on The Voice she was immediately selected by coach Christina Aguilera and is again a fan favorite.

Jared Blake, a father of six from Arkansas, auditioned for The Voice and saw it as his last chance. Blake has always loved music, but spent many years addicted to alcohol.  He got sober because he wanted to be a good example for his children. Now that he is clean he is going after his dream. After his audition he was selected by coach Blake Shelton. Jared is also a fan favorite and the show’s resident rocker. 


These two singers and so many others show what can happen if you don’t give up on a dream. The Voice airs Tuesday's at 9pm EST.



 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Late Bloomer

Over on Theo Pauline Nestor's blog "Writing Is My Drink" she talks about her evening job at the University of Washington where she teaches a  Memoir writing class for UW’s Extension Program.

In the program she has adult students of all ages, including a 90-year-old woman. They all take her class and courageously write their life stories, no matter how painful. At the end of the program each student gives a reading of their work before an audience.

One particular student, Star Roberts, wrote a piece entitled "Late Bloomer" (page down to see the essay) in which she talks about doing everything in life later than the norm. Now at the age of 55 she has embarked on a writing career. It is something she has always wanted to do from the time she was a child, but as is usually the case, life distracted her.

Take a moment and read this inspiring essay by a woman who understands that "It is never too late to be who you might have been."
Star Roberts Reading her work.
 (Photo:Sandy Barnes)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ryan and Jamie Smith Essay Contest

This is short notice, but it is still worth posting.  The Ryan and Jamie Smith Essay Contest  gives a prize of $5,000 to the student who writes the best essay of 1,000 words or less on the subject of ending  extreme poverty.

The deadline for this contest is June 15, 2011. Don't waste another moment, enter today.

Scholarships are an amazing way to pay for college and avoid ending up in debt from taking out too many student loans.

If you know anyone beginning college in the near future please pass this scholarship opportunity along.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Failure

THERE IS NO FAILURE; ONLY A DELAY IN RESULTS.-Helen Hadsell
 
A few years ago I purchased the book Write it Down, Make It Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser. The premise of the book is to use writing as a tool to  help you, "know what you want and get it." After working through a few chapters, and a few failed attempts at getting what I wanted, I stopped reading the book. I thought there must be something wrong with me, my goals, my faith, etc. because nothing I was writing down came true.

Recently I picked up Write It Down, Make It Happen again and realized I should have read further. 

In Chapter 20 entitled "Handling Breakdown" Klauser discusses what to do when you seem to be failing at making your goals come true. She shares several stories from people who thought that they were failures. After a closer look, however, they saw that their goals were achieved, just in a different way than they expected.

From this I learned not to get too attached to the specifics of a goal, because it can be accomplished in many different ways and still give me the same outcome.

Klauser also shares a story from Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich  about a man who owned a gold mine during the gold rush. He sold the mine to a man for a few hundred dollars after he thought it was all dried up. The man who bought it dug only three feet past where the original owner had stopped digging and found gold worth millions of dollars.

Don't stop three feet from the gold.
Go back and dig some more. -Napoleon Hill

 
I am often nagged by the idea that I am failing. This book has helped me to see things differently. It has reminded me to keep going, and to look for evidence of my success everywhere.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Zero to Breakthrough

Today on The View author Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour was interviewed about her new book, Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter.

In the book Vernice details how she went from being a beat cop, to being America’s first African-American female combat pilot. In the book she uses her own life experiences to show how anyone's life can change for the better by using her 7-step program.
On The View she mentioned that many people want to accomplish goals, but when they feel like they do not know how it will happen, they often give up.  Vernice’s advice: Don’t worry about the how. Pick what you want and the resources will show up.
Have you been feeling stuck? Have you been holding yourself back? Do you know what you want, but struggle when going after it?  Perhaps Zero to Breakthrough is just the book for you.