17 December 2013

Passport Photo Induced Depression

I'm coining a new psychological term: passport photo induced depression.

No one, and I mean no one, should be subjected to seeing two incredibly close head shots of themselves, that are taken 10 years apart.

I was having a good hair day, had on a cute scarf, I was ready!  Passport photo day, let's do this!  Then I saw the results from the doorway in the fluorescently lit CVS…I have under-eye bags, the beginnings of what I can only explain as eyelid wrinkles, and an increasingly asymmetrical forehead.

Ten years ago I was the picture of youth!  Not a wrinkle, or bag, or non-horizontal eyebrow to be seen!  I was an 18 year old leaving her country for the first time!  I was the picture of fresh faced, and now I'm the picture of embattled.

Cue the violins!  Bring out the tissues!  Bring on the big wine glass and the secret chocolates from the fridge vegetable drawer!

I was having a case of passport photo induced depression.  (Feel free to spread that around, I'm making it a thing).

But then a friend said something seemingly insignificant, 'uh yeah you look different you were a baby then.'  

He's right.  I was a baby.  So what if through some stress and uncertainty and accidents and awesomeness and genetics I look different than I did before.  I've always looked different, because I'm me.  Besides my two sisters, I don't resemble anyone else's mixed bag of DNA.  

It got me thinking about two baby girls I know who were born with conditions that formed their skulls differently than others.  I think about the world that I want them to grow up in. 

A world where they will be seen just as I want any other young girl, or old girl for that matter, to be seen: for her intelligence, passion, strength, imagination, ingenuity and zest for life! 

So that brings me to this point…Today I didn't understand what was publicized on our Human Resource's update about one of my coworker's finalizing an adoption of three children.  The picture accompanying the story seemed to be from the early 1990s, but the adoption was this year.  So I did what anyone in my position would do, and asked someone and just created one of my own conspiracy theories.  

Why couldn't she post a recent picture, I asked myself.  Myself logically answered that they were in the witness protection program, so she wasn't allowed to share current photos.  But, then why were they in the witness protection program?  Obviously, their father was a mafia boss and he and the mother were taken out by a professional hit.  Then to protect the children they were given new identities and sent to foster care where my sweet coworker adopted all three of them and agreed to never share anymore recent photos.  

Well, after telling this completely rational story to one of my other coworker's who is good friends with the mother of the witness protection children she told me through fits of laughter that I must tell the mother.  The mother howled with laughter at my completely believable story and said, "You have such a grand imagination!"  Then after the conversation, she emailed me a more recent picture to prove they're legit members of society.  Therefore now I'm pretty sure federal marshals are going to burst through my door at any minute, so I tidied my living room up just in case.  Anyway, then I retold the whole story to my boss later and she said, "I'm so lucky to have someone with such a colorful imagination working here."

So that's what I want you to remember from this post today: not that Sarah has an asymmetrical forehead, but that Sarah has a pretty crazy, yet entertaining, imagination.  :)

05 December 2013

How do you solve a problem like…Carrie Underwood's horrible acting?

The Sound of Music is a classic.  As a child I would wear the kitchen curtain on my head, and unlike most young girls who would pretend to be a bride, I pretended to be a nun - specifically Maria.  I would swing any bag with a handle around singing at the top of my lungs pretending it was a guitar case and my WV backyard was the streets of Austria, wherever that was.

I distinctly remember singing The Lonely Goatherd for a spring musical in grade school.  I also remember St. Michael Grade School's performance of The Sound of Music where I dreamily stared at my newfound crush, Captain von Trapp, also known as my soon to be freshman year Sadie Hawkins date, Alex.

In my house my mother has three movies that are the holy grail: Gone with the Wind, White Christmas, and The Sound of Music.  Needless to say my quoting of "I don't know nothing about birthing no babies," and "Mutual, I'm sureeeeeeeeee" added to my 3rd grade cool kid status.

Anyway, point being it's a classic, and not to be trifled with.  And trifled with, they did.  I get the whole - they're doing the stage version, not the movie version - idea.  I mean I am still a bit disappointed that a lot of the songs are out of order, but at least they are in there.  What bothers me is Carrie Underwood's horrible acting.  The girl's got pipes, but her constant staring directly at the camera when she is supposed to be speaking to another character, and anticipation of another character's movement before it happens is distracting, and downright, annoying.

There is no character development whatsoever.  If you had not seen the original movie, you'd have no clue why after what appears to be two days of being the children's nanny, she abruptly leaves after one dance with their father who miraculously now sings nonstop when two days prior he was whistling like an A-hole.

Now this may be me acting as a bit of a bully, but the kids weren't as adorable or endearing either.  Gretel was forgettable, Brigitta wasn't nearly sassy enough, and Kurt was not "incorrigible." (Remember his introduction Sound of Music purists?)

Then they basically ignored the entire NAZI plot line until the very last minute when it was unavoidable.  The saving grace was Carrie's voice, and surprisingly Frau Elsa Schrader's performance.  She looked very familiar, then I realized she was Benson's partner's ex-wife on Law and Order SVU. Who knew she could sing?  She also completed a stunning recovery after an extra stepped on her dress.

Not only was the word NAZI never even mentioned once in the entire live performance, the actual NAZIs seemed to be cast the day before the show and forgot all their lines.

Oh yeah, and Maria and Captain Von Trapp?  ZERO, ZIP, NADA chemistry.  She looked as awkward and unnatural as a sorority girl flirting with her 65 year old pot bellied professor to get a higher grade.

In conclusion, I would like to see how the sales of The Sound of Music, Julia Andrews version, will inevitably spike tomorrow.  Carrie, you beautiful, Godly gifted singer, leave the "acting" to only your music videos where I will gladly support you.

Disclaimer: I have no technical expertise in any of this, unless you consider being star of the 6th grade Christmas pageant as expertise.  I rocked that elf costume.

06 November 2013

Why I am “obsessed” with Facebook, and why I’m okay with that

Multiple men in my life, my friends, and my immediate and my extended family have all said the same thing to me about my “obsession” with Facebook: it’s unhealthy, not right, weird, a waste of time, and stupid.

The same exact comments could be said about someone who is obsessed with internet porn.  Yet, we’re talking about Facebook.  Why does this reflect poorly on me as a human being?  Why is being active on social media a character flaw?

I don’t get all my worldly updates from Facebook.  I read USAToday, Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News on a nearly daily basis. 

I’m not selling jewelry, fitness advice, or nail polish. 

I’m not asking people to agree with me. I’ve already been defriended by a few people for my support of gay marriage.

I’m not hiding behind social media to not participate in my real life.  Yeah, I kind of/sort of have a pretty awesome one.

I’m not crafting my image, trying to find dates, or looking for followers. 

Then why not write this blog in my journal?  Why not just exclusively call or text my friends, instead of Facebooking?

The only reason I’ve got; the only reason I can wrack my brain to come up with is, because I like learning.  I like learning about women’s issues, race issues, unemployment issues, healthcare issues, and yes even issues of how to fix my hair in 5 minutes on a hurried Monday and how the Hills stars can describe the situation in Syria.

I like learning about how one friend gave up how his worldly possessions, packed up his family, and became bible translators in Africa because they felt called.  I like learning how someone in 2013 can think global warming doesn’t exist.  I like learning about GMOs and how one friend, who is a scientist, thinks they’re good, and another who is a full time mom thinks they’re ruining our food and our planet.   I like learning about Kony and Karzai and union strikes and rape allegations from not only the news, but from the people it affects, from the people I call my friends.

I can read about Kony in Uganda on CNN, and I can see pictures of my friend in Uganda working with women and their children who were sex slaves and child soldiers of Kony’s.  I can read about a preacher being stopped from burning the Koran on USAToday, and I can sigh with relief to see one of my friends complaining about how bored he is in Afghanistan and surviving just another day without incident.  I can read about the feminists revolt of Pinterest on Huffington Post, and watch my friend as she tries to raise her son without gender specific parenting roles so he’ll respect women.  I can hear all about Obamacare and the horrible wrath it is raining down on all of us on FoxNews, and I can see pictures of my friend’s mother recovering from a cancer her private insurance wouldn’t pay to fight.  I can read of another unemployed veteran searching for work, and I can support the organizations who are trying to do something about it.

I feel connected to a world where people like me, and not like me, are suffering, supporting, blaming, bolstering, lifting up, tearing down, having fun, getting fit, losing, loving, and living.

So I may be wasting my time, ridiculous, self absorbed, addicted, obsessed and annoying. 

Well, at least I’m not watching internet porn.

30 October 2013

Blogworthy Living

I haven’t written in a while, but rather than bore you with the details of my life, I want to highlight some blogworthy living I’ve seen.

Giving with your whole heart.

My friend Kat is a high school teacher who had this to say earlier this week on Facebook:

In class today...
Me - "Hey guys, don't forget our canned food drive, remember all proceeds go to the city mission"
Kid - "How long are we doing this for?"
Me - "Til November 8th"
Kid - "Oh good, we don't get our food stamps til the 7th, but I'll try to bring something in on the 8th"
.....I mean really, love his heart, sometimes I focus too much on the discipline issues and forget what good kids we really have

I can remember food drives in grade school and high school, and I was canvasing my neighborhood selfishly wanting my class to win a dress down day.  Or, I was scouring my parent’s cupboard for the disgusting cans I could alleviate myself from being forced to try 3 bites of .  Here you go homeless: have some beets, peas, and sauerkraut.  Enjoy! 

I was just astonished by a story the other day of a girl with a $1,000 prom dress, and apparently this is not a jaw-dropping, might as well set your money on fire, kind of situation.  This can be a pretty normal amount one spends on a dress for a dance with a guy who for the rest of your life you’ll probably speak to a grand total amount of no longer than the prom dance actually lasted.

Anyway, the point is this high school student didn't have much, but of what he had, he wanted to give.  It’s inspiring; it’s heart warming, and frankly it just restores your faith in humanity a little bit.

That brings me to Blogworthy Living Story #2

Running with your whole body.

Since June 2012, my friend Robyn has lost 140 pounds!  She has always been an absolutely beautiful person from her soul right down to her toes.  Now she is a high-energy, super healthy, rockstar athlete person too! 

Robyn lost a lot of the weight running.  But she wasn’t just running with her feet and some bad ass determination, she was running with her heart too. 

See Robyn uses the Charity Miles app where for every mile you run the non-profit organization finds a corporate sponsor to donate money to one of the charities of your choice. (For full awesome story of Robyn click here.)
Robyn is front and center in the green

Robyn chose Wounded Warrior Project (that OTHER military non-profit, who also does some pretty great work to support our troops).  She says that at 5:45 a.m. when that alarm goes off, 

I think about the sacrifice of our veterans and their families and how some of them are struggling or can no longer run and it motives me to get up and go. Being able to give to them makes me smile and puts an incredible purpose to my morning run. 

So I leave you with these closing thoughts:

People are awesome.

Don’t miss the opportunities to see the good in others.

And check back next week, maybe I’ll highlight some others!

23 September 2013

Introducing Katie Hinerman, guest blogger

I have been so blessed in this life to have true, sincere, faithful, hilarious friends.
Highschool, oh the braces!

Katie Hinerman, or as she will always be known to me - Hinerman, is one of those friends.  Even though she was one of "those" cheerleaders, and I was one of "those" (completely inept, warm the bench type) soccer players, we hit it off.  Our mutual love of sarcasm, liberal politics, mango flavored icey treats and horrible mismanagement of men creatures bonded us for life.

We both studied Public Relations.  I went to Marshall University, and Hinerman went to that other school a little more north.  While virtually ALL of our other friends were in the medical fields discussing herniated plasmastic ACL displacements or something like that, we were discussing whether the serial comma was necessary and comparing Fox and CNN's coverage of the Sago Mine disaster.  After completing college and a brief stint as a live-in nanny, Hinerman and I hatched a plan to live together across from our favorite bar in Wheeling and get jobs being kick ass young PR professionals.

Well it didn't exactly work out that way, but we lived together for about 6 months and both live to tell the tale (although it was touch-and-go with Hinerman wanting a pretty Christmas mantle with live pine and lit candles causing our whole apartment to almost go up in flames kind of way).

Now 5 years later we both have jobs we love in the public relations arena and still enjoy late night talks of how far AP style has come (website now doesn't have to be capitalized), and how far we haven't come (in that we'll still be single forever at this rate).

As Hinerman is bettering herself and being amazing at graduate school, she was tasked with interviewing a PR professional about his or her career.  As I was home that weekend for a family wedding, I  became the defunct PR professional on hand.  Over a few drinks and lots of laughs the interview was conducted, and the following is Hinerman's resulting report on me.

God, I love this girl.

Interview of a Marketing/PR Professional
By Katie Hinerman

Growing up as a ‘90s kid, Sarah Kemp wanted to be a marine biologist.  Who doesn’t love Shamu?!  And in elementary school, her favorite school supplies featured the brightly colored dolphin designs from the Lisa Frank collection.  Clearly, she was destined to work in marine biology.

However, Kemp never did learn how to swim.  And she didn’t remember to feed her pet fish.  Sadly, Rufus only survived a few weeks at home before he moved on to a better place and joined his brothers in the sea.  (Actually, he joined his brothers in the city sewage pipes.  Even so, it was still probably a better place for him, compared to being owned by Sarah.)  Kemp loved learning about ocean life, and loved the accessories that went along with it. But without basic skills in the field, she wasn’t going to make it far.  Fortunately, she also had a passion for writing, and she had the natural talent and abilities to match that passion.

An aspiring writer, Kemp headed to college at Marshall University.  She realized she didn’t want to major in English because of the limited number of jobs available to English majors, outside of teaching.  Instead, Kemp chose to study journalism.

“After shopping around the journalism school, I realized I didn’t enjoy objective writing; I preferred subjective writing,” Kemp said.  “So I ruled out a major in print or broadcast [journalism], and I chose public relations.”

Her first job in the public relations field was a marketing internship for Ernst & Young.  She quickly realized that she didn’t enjoy working in a position where she lacked a deep connection and passion for the company.

Next, she took a job as a college recruiter for her alma mater, Marshall University.  During that time, she said her commitment to succeed was fostered by a love for her school.  Nonetheless, after a couple of years working in that position, she became anxious for a new challenge.

In 2010, Kemp began her career at the USO, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support our troops.  She worked as a duty manager at the USO Center in Kandahar, Afghanistan.  At that time, she was the only staff member at the center with a marketing or public relations background.  As such, she became the unofficial social media manager.  She handled the USO Kandahar Facebook page, wrote blog posts, and worked with the USO headquarters to secure interviews with CBS News and Newsweek Magazine.  Thriving in these roles, she discovered her niche.  Unlike poor Rufus, the troops in the Middle East received great support and care from Kemp and her co-workers.

“I found my passion working to support our troops.  Serving a population that makes the greatest sacrifices and asks for the smallest rewards incites in me a passion to help them.”

Kemp continued helping our troops, even extending her contract working in Afghanistan.  When she finally returned home, she said a dismal job market awaited her.  She wanted to work in a public relations position with a military non-profit organization.  With such specific criteria, employment opportunities were especially limited.  Nonetheless, Kemp was prepared for the job hunt.  She had been utilizing her networks to reach out to contacts that could provide assistance, and she had kept her online resume updated with her published works and her personal blog.  She then invested a great deal of her time and energy in searching and applying for relevant jobs.  In one instance, she had even gone through 5 rounds of interviews before the employers made their hiring decisions; unfortunately, Kemp was not offered a position.  After 8 months of job searching with no success, she adjusted her strategy. 

“Eventually I took a temporary position just to get my foot in the door.  It took a lot of swallowing my pride to accept an entry-level temp position while possessing a degree and 5 years of experience,” said Kemp.  “Ultimately, that temporary position led to my current position which I love.”

Sarah Kemp now works as Manager of Volunteer Operations for the USO.   In her current position, she especially enjoys applying her expertise to help solve a problem or to find a way to more efficiently serve our troops.  Any time she can ease a small burden for USO staff members, they can in turn focus on providing support for the troops; and that is most important to her.

Her most rewarding days are when she is able to help multiple USO centers in multiple locations around the world.  “When I help solve a problem for a center in Germany, in Japan, in Afghanistan, and in the U.S. all in one day, I feel empowered, excited, and exhausted,” Kemp said.

While assisting multiple USO centers is one of the most rewarding aspects of Kemp’s job, it can also present some of her greatest challenges.  “With more than 160 locations in 18 time zones, and a volunteer operations department consisting of only my boss and me, it is easy to ‘fall down a rabbit hole,’” Kemp said.

In her position, she sometimes finds it difficult to complete large projects.  She often puts her work on hold multiple times a day in order to assist with questions or issues from USO centers throughout the world.  Indeed, Kemp’s greatest challenge is managing her time in the most efficient and effective way she can.

Sarah Kemp’s career is inspirational to me.  She is continuously bettering herself, and to that end, she is not afraid to make a change or to take a calculated risk.  I highly respect her both personally and professionally, and I feel motivated and excited to apply some of the lessons she learned and the advice she gave to my own career and life.

05 August 2013

A speech for my sister on the day she weds the love of her life

My best friend in the whole world found the love of her life.  When she decided when and how she wanted to put a ring on it, (August 3rd at her fiance's family's farm, Zephaniah Vineyards) she bestowed upon me the honor of being her Maid of Honor.

I wrote a speech, but due to the apocalyptic-like conditions it was hard for most to hear me through the rain downpour and me trying to keep my s*&t together while my voice quivered and tears streamed down my face.

While Pinterest beckons me to modge podge my speech onto a hand cut wooden masterpiece with a transfer picture of Gretchen and Tremain, I can barely hang a frame, yet make one.  So, instead I just published my speech here so she can see it.

Here goes...

Gretchen sent me a journal for my 26th birthday, and on the cover is an inscription from Confucious, it says, “words are the voice of the heart.”  Well, I hope tonight my words illuminate the crazy amount of love and admiration that I have for my sister and BROTHER.

On the inside cover of this journal Gretchen had written me a note and she had ended it with some wisdom that I would like to share with you…

She said, “Love the moment, learn the lesson.  We are all explorers on this great journey and you have found a wonderful path.”

Well copyright infringement be damned, I’m stealing your wisdom and repackaging it to you.

To you, Gretchen, I say love this moment.  It will fly by so quickly.  Tonight you are surrounded with those who consider it a privilege to know you and Tremain, who feel loved by having you utter their name.

People have come as far as our cousins up in Canada and their friends to the South the Seattle Kemps, the Floridian Kemps, Crazy cousins from Pittsburgh, South Carolina and the Wheel!!!!

And a HUGE thanks to all the Hatchs who worked so diligently and amazingly to have your wedding celebration at their home, we can't thank them enough for being our gracious hosts.

I know you’ve been crazy busy with wedding planning since the moment you were engaged all those years…I mean months...I mean days ago!  But take time to bask in the glory of this moment of knowing that this moment right now is exactly where God intended you to be.  Which leads me to the next wisdom you left me: learn the lesson.

I say you’ve learned the lesson, my God have you learned the lesson.  With every misstep, with every regret, with every failed attempt, it has led to you to your one true love. 

While you were broken out in hives in a third world country you learned the lesson that cashew shells are poisonous.  Or when you dyed your hair with peroxide you learned fun is temporary, but bleach’s embarrassment takes FOREVER to grow out.  Or when you left your curse word laden angsty female rock cassette tape in the Ford Escort when dad needed to borrow the car…that lesson was a particularly amusing one to me.

The fantastic thing about ALL these lessons that YOU have learned, is that I didn’t have to!  You made the mistakes for me! You blazed a trail for me, either by teaching me these things, or by wearing out our poor parents so much that they were just too exhausted to care by the time I came around.

I have learned so much from watching you grow.  I only wish I could somehow go back and help you through the awkward phases, heartbreaks, and dilemmas that you helped me through.  You not only inspired me, but continue to inspire me every day.

I am also inspired by the beautiful example of love I’ve been blessed to see every day in our parents. They set this amazingly high standard for what a good relationship looks like that it took A LONG WHILE for Gretchen to find a relationship to live up to it.  But let’s face it, my parents are getting OLDER, so now I get to have a brand NEW example of what great selfless love looks like in Gretchen and Tremain. 

In closing, I say to you, my best friend: love the moment, you’ve learned the lesson. We are all explorers on this great journey and you my darling sister, have found a wonderful man to walk by your side.”  To the bride and groom!