Building Together – Finding Inspiration in Your Circle

Community is deeply important in regards to success, social support, and development. When I look at the community of family and friends that support and build me up, I can’t help but be inspired, hopeful, and deeply grateful. These are the people I love, I support, and care about. One of my intentions is to better express my gratitude toward them all.

The initial idea for this post came last Friday after I sat down with my badass mentor, Lisa Hadden, who does all kinds of great work related to Asset Based Community Development. To quote her, “The greatest diversity is the proliferation of gifts to your community. Our communities should allow space for people to become great.” This struck me in a way that resulted in a great deal of reflection over the weekend. Who was in my life doing amazing work? How could I support them? How can I share their stories?

I thought about mentors, friends, family members, and people that I’ve just stayed connected to in one way, shape, or form. The second inspiration came from catching up with my girlfriend. We talked about proactive strategies related to social issues related to education, politics, and enacting change. She’s a boss, challenges me to really be invested in ways I wouldn’t normally be, and she reminds me that there is good in the world.

The last note focuses on a friend and brother that has been in my life for nearly 10 years. Zo was on Snapchat discussing his journey toward joining the US Navy, having a beautiful baby girl, making long term plans for success, and where his life is headed. Seeing your friends succeed as well as find their niche creates a great sense of pride. He also dropped a few musical gems in between the positive notes.

I look at my circle and see tons of inspiration – My family is doing well (parents, brother, cousins, and so on). My best friend is moving to Georgia soon. My college best friends are in their careers and thriving around the country. Lastly, I LITERALLY (not in the ironic way) have friends on every continent, except Antarctica, that are fighting for good causes, building business, sharing their creativity with the world through music and art, and so much more.

Years ago I had the savior approach many passionate people have at some point or another. “I have to be the one to do it.” “This is my burden to bare” “It has to be me” mindset that can really cause you to do more harm than good. Great friends and mentors serve as a reminder that we, as a community, make the world better. “The world needs less ME and more WE.” Happy Monday, everybody.

A Year of Generosity, Experiences, and Building.

“Hemingway said we heal stronger at the broken places, but I’ve found that where the heart is concerned, we also heal more tenderly, more open to the miraculous.” Boyd Varty, author of Cathedral of the Wild, spoke about setting intentions for the year in the last chapter of his book, The Om in Motion.

Instead of creating rigid resolutions that I often seem to fail at, I’ve decided to set clear intentions for myself. What do I want to feel more of? What do I want to do more of? How can I express more gratitude? What can I give more, be it time or resources? Am I maintaining strong relationships rooted in mutual respect, dignity, and love?

The world was rocked pretty hard in 2016. A difficult year didn’t come about unintentionally. No matter how you look at it, there were many times of despair, shock, pain, and hardship caused by natural disasters and people. Many of those things hit me at my core, but on the other side of the coin was success, change, exploration, outpours of love and support, resilience, new friendships and relationships, and the maintenance of old friendships. For me, it was a full year that began with traveling abroad and ending with family at home. 2016 was a year of saying yes to myself. It was a year of healing, soul-searching, and personal growth. 2017 will be a year for balance.

My first intention for the year is to be more generous with my time and resources. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive scholarships for grad school, receive free housing and a stipend. This has allowed me flexibility with time and resources. I hope to support causes with time through volunteering and with resources be it monetary or otherwise. I also hope to be generous with my gratitude and to be more vocal in expressing thanks to others. I want give back to the communities that have given me so much.

My second intention is to continue to having valuable experiences that enhance my learning, bring me joy, and feed my soul. There is value in participation and reflection. In 2016, I traveled abroad and domestically quite a bit. It was enlivening and enriching. I hope to read more, discuss important topics, and simply find joy in daily experiences. I want to see beautiful places and meet beautiful people.

My last intention for the year is to maintain meaningful relationships and cultivate new relationships. The concept of Ubuntu, an African philosophy, has become widely known around the world and it means “I am because you are.” In essence, people exist to be part of communities. Without other people, there is little meaning for our lives. It is important to me build trusting, meaningful relationships that are rooted in dignity, mutual respect, and love.

As you can tell these are not resolutions as they are not rigid, explicitly defined, and time-bound. To me, intentions act like the winds that fill sails and propels ships forward; the must be revisited, adjusted, and reflected upon often. 2017 will be a year of building for me and my intentions will guide me. Best wishes to all celebrating a new year or any time of renewal in life.

Amigos de todo el mundo – El abogado de Argentina (Friends Around the World – The Attorney from Argentina)

As you can see in the title both the Spanish and English language are represented. My friend Flor, who is a lawyer in Buenos Aires, and I met in Florence, Italy in 2015. Since then, she’s traveled many amazing places and balances work, life, and traveling. You’ll find that the following blog will be in both Spanish and English as a representation of our friendship. Enjoy!

Como se puede ver en el título tanto el español como el inglés están representados. Mi amiga Flor, que es abogada en Buenos Aires, y me reuní en Florencia, Italia en 2015. Desde entonces, ella ha viajado por muchos lugares increíbles y equilibra el trabajo, la vida y los viajes. Usted encontrará que el siguiente blog será escrito en español e inglés como una representación de nuestra amistad. Disfruta!

Esta es la histora de Flor. This is Flor’s Story!

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¿De donde eres? ¿Qué ciudad y país?

 Me llamo Flor  y soy de Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 ¿Viaja con frecuencia?

 Me gradué de la universidad en diciembre del 2014. Hasta el momento que estuve muy enfocada en mis estudios y no tenía forma de solvente grandes viajes.Una vez ya graduado decidí ir a Europa un mes y medio a modo de “festejo”. Ese viaje resultó el Puntapié inicial para descubrir que viajar es una experiencia única que te conecta con un sin fin de emociones.En la actualidad trato de organización de viajes (cortos-largos) con la mayor frecuencia posible.

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Portobello Road Market – London, England

Que país ha sido favorito? ¿Qué te ha gustado?

 No puedo elegir uno solo. Mis dos favoritos son Inglaterra y Costa Rica.

Londres fue la primera ciudad europea que conocí y quedó fascinada con toda su estructura y perfección. Lo mejor de todo: Los parques.Mi preferido Holland Park y una hora del centro Houmpton Court.

 En Costa Rica existe una energía especial. Más allá de la belleza de sus playas creo que lo mejor es su gente. Utilizar la frase “PURA VIDA” como saludo. Son dos palabras que simbolizan su forma de vivir: alegría, armonía y paz.

Mi playa favorita: Santa Teresa. Sus atardeceres son de película.

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Santa Theresa – Costa Rica

 ¿Tiene algún otro viaje planeado para el próximo año?

 Si, México en abril del 2017.

¿Qué es lo que más te gusta de viajar?

 En una palabra: La libertad.

Si pudieras decirle a la gente algo que inspirar a viajar, ¿qué dirías?

¡La vida es una sola, you live one !!!

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Cliffs of Moher, Irlanda

English Translation:

Where are you from? What city and country?

 My name is Flor and I am from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 Do you travel frequently?

 I graduated from university in December of 2014. Until then I was very focused on my studies and had no way of planning great trips. Once I graduated I decided to go to Europe for a month and a half as a “celebration”. That trip was the starting point to discover that traveling is a unique experience that connects you with an endless number of emotions. Currently, I try to organize trips (short and long) as often as possible.

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Portobello Road Market – London, England

What country has been your favorite? What did you like?

I cannot choose one. My two favorites are England and Costa Rica.

London was the first European city I visited and I was fascinated with all its structure and perfection. Best of all: The Parks. My favorite was Holland Park and 1 hour from downtown Hampton Court.

In Costa Rica, there is a special energy. Beyond the beauty of its beaches, I think the best is its people. They use the phrase “PURA VIDA” as a greeting. These are two words that symbolize their way of living: joy, harmony and peace. My favorite beach: Santa Teresa. Their sunsets are like the movies.

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Santa Theresa – Costa Rica

Do you have any other trips planned for next year?

Yes, Mexico in April 2017.

What do you like most about traveling?

In a word: Freedom.

If you could tell people something to inspire them to travel, what would you say?

You live once!!!!

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Cliffs of Moher – Ireland

When Tuesday Feels Like Monday?

Ever felt like the week was dragging on? Find yourself feeling that first wave of burnout starting to hit? Don’t worry! You aren’t alone in that feeling. If you are in the US, you are probably falling victim to the “busy” culture. Busy culture is when we constantly tell ourselves and others that we are busy, that we have a lot going on, or that we do not have time for anything.

Here are five tips to get over the hump and practice resilience in the face of burnout.

Number 1: Take time to do something you actually enjoy doing. “Whoa Vince! You are saying that I have to stop being busy for a few seconds to do something I enjoy? I don’t have time for that.” Take 10 minutes out of your day to do something you enjoy. Scroll through Instagram. Go for a walk. Read that article you have been meaning to read. Get on a call with a loved one. Start with ten minutes and work your way up to a half hour.

Number 2: Stop saying that you are busy. The more you say it, the more your body feels it. You will get to the end of some days and feel infinitely more exhausted than others because of four words. “I am so busy.” Even writing that sentence felt draining. Find other ways to tell people that the last few weeks have been stressful. Also, talk about what successes you’ve had during this stressful time. Interject some positive outcomes into your conversations to let people know that your hard work is paying off.

Number 3: Stop Procrastinating during busy times. If you have deadlines to meet, projects to complete, and a variety of other tasks to finish, work on them. Set aside specific times to actually complete tasks. It will reduce stress and boost morale. Checking items off the To-Do List is one of the most satisfying feeling in the world – BTW.

Number 4: Set your intentions. I was gifted a notepad that is called the Daily Intention Tracker. My day is more productive if I fill out the notepad when I first arrive at the office. Writing intentions allows me to clearly articulate what I want to achieve each day. Putting my intentions on paper really helps me focus my energy on what I need to do. This practices keeps me from living passively and letting the day pass me by.

Number 5: Eat, Sleep, Shower, Repeat (Exercise too. – if that’s your thing). These activities are necessities and need to be prioritized into your daily schedule if you are feeling stressed. Eat an uninterrupted meal, which means no work, no texting, and no rushing. SLOW DOWN and taste your food. Sleep as much as you can. Shower – you’ll feel better and everyone will like you more. Do it all over again. Exercise can also help you destress and refocus on your priorities.

When I get to a point of being “busy” whether real or perceived, I get stressed. My eating habits go to shit. The quality of my work dips. Finding balance and taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to pump some energy back into your bones. Practice these tips and you’ll be well on your way to being back at your best. Happy Tuesday!

What Dreams Are Made Of – Review: The Dreamer Coffee Shop

Cafes and coffeeshops are among my favorite places in the world. You can find them in almost all cities, towns, and communities. Even if you can’t find a good coffeeshop, you can find a place with its qualities – warm, creative, simple, and just what you need to slow things down. That’s what dreams are made of. In the busyness of life, coffeeshops are the place I come to be still for a while.

As of late, my favorite place has been The Dreamer Coffee Shop; affectionally known as Dreamer to regulars. Dreamer has a simple, warm environment that is welcoming for individuals looking for a creative space to relax or groups looking to study (really procrastinate). The open concept, bright walls, large bay windows and warm lighting make this the perfect coffeeshop to start a quiet weekend or spend your Wednesday evening to get over the midweek hump.

The coffee is great, the people become friends, and the space is perfect. Some of my favorites are the Maple Latte, Apple Chaider, and just their plan Cafe Latte.

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The Dreamer Coffee Shop is located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

Follow them on Instagram: @dreamercoffeeshop

Follow me on Instagram: @vince_thurman1

 

Style Revisited – Something New

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about style, being unfamiliar with fashion, and finally taking risks. I’ve decided to revisit the topic to share what I’ve learned about myself and style in the past few months. Here are six lessons I’ve learned:

  1. My confidence has grown tremendously. Taking risks and seeing them pay off is a great way to boost confidence. I’m not talking blind risk. I’m talking thoughtful, calculated risk. Making smart decisions after going through some trial and error. Some outfits were great and others were… Well let’s just say I won’t be wearing a few of them again. This has benefited me in my personal and professional life. Decisive. Bold. Flexible. Creativity. These are the words that come to mind.1
  2. Less is more… I paired down my wardrobe down to the essentials and a few extra luxuries. I have 7 pairs of paints including jeans/denim, 3 pairs of shorts, closes to exercise in, 8 dress shirts, approximately, and 10 t-shirts varying for seasons. Based on that count I’d say I’d have approximately 40-50 total items of clothing, excluding shoes. That can be saved for a different blog. I have less stress about deciding what to wear because I now have less an 100 items to choose from. It feels great. You can always buy what you need to fill in gaps.2
  3. Understand the occasion. Thinking back to a few years ago, I would dress how I wanted to dress. It wasn’t bad, but sometimes I wasn’t dressed appropriately for the occasion. There were times when I was overdressed and others when I was woefully underdressed. If you aren’t sure about what’s appropriate, ask. It’s okay to ask questions. Better ask and find out, than show up and be out of place. 3
  4. Be comfortable. Look Good. Feel Good applies here. First and foremost, you have to be comfortable. If you aren’t, people will notice, which doesn’t matter a ton, but you’ll probably hate every second of it. Constantly readjusting is a sign that you might not be comfortable. Make sure the fit is right on whatever you’re wearing. When the fit is right, the entire outfit looks better.Style 1
  5. Own your style and try new things. If you’re creative, find a way to pull an outfit together that you didn’t see before. If you’re unsure about that haircut or hairstyle, try it. If you don’t like it, change it. If you like to dress up, get out of bed a half hour earlier and get ready for the day. If it’s Saturday and you aren’t going anywhere, rock the joggers or sweatpants. 4
  6. Don’t let people dictate what is right for you. Style is about a swagger or an expression of your personality. Don’t force it and play around with the ideas you have. You might find that you like something you were afraid to try.

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Also a special guest quote from my friend Julie Fredrick: “SHOES ALWAYS MATCH THE BAND OF THE WATCH.”

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Photos taken by: @SarahFiorillo (Instagram)

 

Out of Office Spotlight – Dan Ekonen

Dan Ekonen – the man, the myth, the Squatch. Dan spends time outside of the office playing with Betty White, listening to the Lumineers, high-fiving Porkchop, and buying endless amounts of champagne. While enjoying craft beer, he mocks hipsters by wearing homemade, capri, cut-off sweatpants, not fitting in phone booths, and hosting baked potato themed tailgates with Jesi Ekonen, his domestic partner.

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Office Spotlight – Hannah Long

From her love of plants to veggie burgers (irony…am I right?), Hannah is a character in the best way! She adds a lightheartedness to the office that keeps us on our toes. Hannah and I had the pleasure of working together during her last undergraduate semester with the Ignite Leadership Program (Miranda Joynt was her co-coordinator).

Last year we shared weekly meetings and now we share the Grave (Grad Cave) w/FeFe. Though we’ll only get one year as grad students together, we’ll definitely have many memories to share. One of those memories is when my mom decided to give her a plant, which happened this week.

If you know Hannah, you know that fun, bulldogs, and bird doubles are not to be missed. That’s the energy she brings to our team. She keeps us fun as well as productive. She stepped into the graduate assistant role right away took off running (not literally). She’s been a great friend and team member in the Leadership Institute and we’re lucky to have her.

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Hannah Long is a graduate assistant in CMU’s Leadership Institute completing her first year of graduate school in the Master’s of Arts in Higher Education Administration.

 

Office Spotlight – Jeremy Heinlein

Superman is better… for the record, but we both can appreciate The Flash, Star Wars, conversations about community, culture, positive change, and just about anything (including Batman I guess). We also share a passion for Mexican food, sushi, and chicken and waffles. (Not all at the same time – that would be a bit excessive).

Have you heard of Kip Dangerfield (Jeremy’s LAS Competition Day Alter-Ego)? Well I didn’t either until I returned to CMU for grad school. Jeremy is a creative, passionate individual who adds positive energy to any room. If you’ve seen Parks and Rec, Jeremy is a blend of Chris Traeger and Tom Haverford; positive, excited and up for just about anything. In many exchanges over the last year, Jeremy and I have come up with ideas for a Roman-like communication forum to discuss and debate ideas, potato theme restaurants (copyright pending), and intricate future endeavors.

If you know Jeremy, you know you can always count on a positive environment with lots of laughs, movie trailers, and a willingness to help out whenever. Jeremy’s come in the clutch many of times when putting together programs for the Leadership Institute and Special Olympics. Lastly, I admire Jeremy’s admiration for Noelle, his fiancée, and how he treats her. You’re a stand up guy, my friend. So here’s to you, Jeremy and the many adventures to come.

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Jeremy is Executive Assistant in CMU’s Leadership Institute and is completing a Master’s of Art in Communication. He is a young professional seeking to make a positive impact on the world.

Quiet Sunday Mornings

The start of a new week begins as one closes. Quiet Sunday mornings are for gratitude, tea, reflection, and simplicity.

Here are a few things from last week for which I am deeply grateful:

  1. Train rides
  2. Passionate people.
  3. Loved Ones
  4. Great Company
  5. Art Museums
  6. Dancing
  7. Good Music
  8. Delicious Food
  9. Tea
  10. Sleep
  11. Displays and celebrations of love
  12. Family and Friends

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