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I made my first etsy order this past week. I was surfing through flikr and found some great artwork! I wanted to find out more about the artist and low and behold she had an etsy site! So I promptly headed over and perused the selections : ) Allison Strine has a lovely assortment of quirky and sassy prints, greeting cards, magnets, and glass pendants. I was so impressed I made four purchases!

Allison emailed me personally to thank me for my purchases and asked how I found her.  She was extremely personable and friendly.  She even sent me a tweet!  She has a blog too if you’d like to check it out.

My treasures arrived today. A very rapid turnaround. They are just as wonderful in person as they were online. Here they are!

ladybird 002

I got a print (8×10), 2 greeting cards, and a magnet.  They were wrapped with care and creativity and she even sent me a small magnet and a candy bracelet!  (It’s the small things that make me happy :-p)

All things said, Allison’s creative work speaks for itself but her customer service was just the icing on the cake! Kudos to Allison and those like her keeping interactions personal!

New Beginnings

For those who don’t like to hear about personal things, I just need to write this out but please feel free to stop back another day 🙂

A few new beginnings in my life recently.  I FINALLY moved out of my old apartment with my roomies who wanted to boil me alive and have me clean up after them.  Not bad people, just bad roomies. I’ve found a new apartment with a new roomie and all seems to be better on that front.  As I’m unpacking, I’m coming across lots of memories.  Some good, some bad.  Some parts of my life I would just as soon leave behind, but others I truly miss.

Also a new beginning on the relationship front.  BF and I broke up.  The distance and different communication styles finally killed us.  I am sad but I will be ok.  I just hope I haven’t lost my dear friend through all this.  It is always hard to say goodbye to people you love.  It seems so much harder when the goodbye can’t be in person.  We had tons of fun together and made lots of memories, many of which I am uncovering in my unpacking.  Makes moving into my new apartment bittersweet.

Another new beginning in the fall, PA school.  Looking forward the challenges and the new people I know it will bring.  It’s sad to know I will be on my own until then but hopefully new friends await me there.  New beginnings are always uncertain but always hold such promise.  This time has been very different for me as I am truly on my own for the first time.  I have lots of amazing friends who are always there for me to talk whenever I need it and even when I don’t.  However, it has been an experience to learn how to cope alone.  I’ve always had other people around to help distract me and keep me busy.  This time it’s just me and yes, it’s hard but at the same time, it’s an opportunity to get to know myself and to grow.

I have been telling myself I need to learn to be happy on my own and just be my own person for years.  This year, I’ve done more of that than I ever have before.  I was in a relationship but we never saw one another & I was on my own a lot.  I have roomies but I rarely see them and we live very separate lives.  I speak to my family frequently but I see them twice a year.  I am so grateful for the connections I have and I realize many more people are much more on their own than I am, but these changes are big for me.  I am hoping I can make the difficulties I’ve had this year work for me and use the lessons I’ve learned in the future.  After all, isn’t that what new beginnings are for?

twitter-bird-22I realize that there are TONS of twitter resources blogs out there!  However, I’ve had multiple friends who are (relatively) new to twitter ask me if I had any advice or resources for them to use.  I figured I might as well put together my own top twitter resources list in one place for the next time someone asks me! Now obviously, the resources you find useful will depend on what you hope to achieve through twitter.  These are geared mostly towards those who want to find interesting people to follow who may share their interests.

  • TweetDeck – TweetDeck is my all time favorite!  It is an Adobe Air download that allows you to create columns for different groups of people and search terms.  It has recently been updated to integrate with Facebook as well.  It is great for filtering some of the noise that comes with Twitter.
  • Mr. Tweet – Mr. Tweet is a service you can sign up for and follow on Twitter that will analyze your network and suggest people for you to follow.  It is great for people trying to find new people to follow.  It also allows you to see stats and recent tweets for each user it suggests.
  • Follow Cost – Follow Cost is a website that is useful for deciding whether or not to follow someone new.  It tells you how many times a day they tweet (on average) and what percentage of their tweets are about politics or are @ replies.  It also has a handy bookmarklet!
  • Mailana – Mailana shows you a web of who you talk to most and how your followers are connected to one another.  It also has a suggestion tool for people you should follow based on the people you currently follow.  It also suggests people based on geographic location and has a keyword search function.
  • Twitter Search – Twitter Search is great for searching for topics to see what is what is being said or to find new people to follow based on a specific keyword.  I frequently search things on Twitter before I try Google and I often get the results I am looking for much more quickly.  It is a great resource!  You can also get rss feeds for your queries if you want to keep an eye on a specific term or brand name.
  • TwiTip – TwiTip is a great blog devoted to Twitter tips.  It has a variety of tips for all levels of users and can help keep you up to date on all the latest tools.

Please look me up on twitter (@kfred85) and say hi! Hope these tips will help you enjoy Twitter and get more out of the sometimes overwhelming amount of information.

My Elevator Pitch

I’m participating in Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge. I spaced that I would have daily prompts in my email for the next 31 days. Guess my earlier post today about having nothing to write about is now null and void!

Darren’s first task for us was to write and elevator pitch. You can read more about that and his challenge on his site, ProBlogger.com. Now I’ve been informally blogging for months now but I still don’t feel like my blog has a defined focus.  I realize this can be a problem.  I blog about so many things!  I blog about life, the future, social media, my job, anything that pops into my head really.  This assignment was tough for me.

In his post, Darren talks about how an elevator pitch might be incorporated into an About page.  Now since I already have one of those, I decided to start there.  My About page says my blog is about “life and learning.”  My blog touches on many things.  At this point in time, I think the elevator pitch for my blog may only need some minor tweaking since I don’t have one defined focus.

My tagline for KFred’s Musings is that it’s a blog about exploring life and social media.  Expanding on that, I write about my own experiences with social media, learning, and AmeriCorps.  I’ve learned a lot writing this blog and I really hope that by the end of this challenge I will have a more concrete direction for it.

What would your elevator pitch be?

It’s been 2 weeks!!

blank-journalI find myself once again having not blogged in weeks and with nothing to say.  A blank mind. I suppose I can talk about the fun things coming up for me in the next few weeks.

I am heading to the CiTE conference next week in Denver with my coworkers.  I am excited to visit Denver as I have never been.  I will be presenting with a coworker of mine.  I am both excited and nervous.  I have never presented at a conference before!  I am really bummed out though because it sounds like there won’t be wifi access available.  I was hoping to live tweet and pull some social media into my presentation as interactive pieces.  That will be difficult to do without wifi for the audience.  I will be in serious withdrawal!  I’ll come back to my hotel room and devour the online news I have missed during the day.

The weekend after, the friend I visited in Hawaii will be back on the mainland!  I am looking forward to seeing him.  I always enjoy his conversation and company.  I don’t get to enjoy either of them very often anymore.

I’m contemplating extending my AmeriCorps*VISTA term of service another month. It will give me another month of guaranteed income and will let me keep my apartment until my PA classes start.  My supervisor will be leaving at the beginning of July for maternity leave.  This will help allow me to help ease the transition of my duties to the new person while my supervisor is gone.  I’m curious to see how it will be working without her.  It will be even stranger leaving.  I am truly blessed with my coworkers and my job.  We have a close group and we work very well together.  Everyone is very supportive of one another.  I will miss the family feeling when I leave.  Luckily I will be close enough to keep in touch!

Well this turned rather introspective and may be boring you so I’ll finish this up now :-p  I promise to come up with something useful in the next few weeks!  Hopefully the conference will inspire me, hehehe.

Photo credit: retro traveler

Hawaii!!

I just got back from Hawaii a week ago today.  Doesn’t seem possible!  I went with my boyfriend to visit some friends of mine who live in Hawaii.  They were kind enough to welcome us into their home for a week.  We stayed just outside of Honolulu.  It was the longest I’d gotten to see my bf since May.  It was so nice to spend so much time with him while getting to see my friends and all in an exotic locale!  The perfect vacation 🙂

at-dukes-in-hawaiiWe arrived late Saturday evening.  Gary and Karen met us at the airport with leis.  It was already dark when we got there so we couldn’t see most of the island.  They took us for a little drive through the Waikiki hotel district so we could see the beach and all the tiki torches lit.  We went for dinner and drinks at Duke’s.  It’s a restaurant located in a hotel with a patio right on the beach with live music! It was a fitting beginning for our Hawaiian vacation.  We got our tropical drinks and delicious food while enjoying the local music and looking at the waves.

The next day, we drove up the east cost of O’ahu and stopped to see the sights!  We stopped and explored the rocks at Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach as we made our way to the North Shore.  My bf went exploring in the one of the little caves and ended up getting nailed by a huge wave as it came crashing in!  He was a little wet for the rest of the day but he dealt with it, hehehe. We stopped at a little place for lunch across from another beach.  Yummy seafood and Hawaiian Kona beer!  It started raining on our way home but we still managed to see so much of what the island had to offer in terms of scenery. Continue Reading »

* I will be out of town until the 15th.  Look for a post with Hawaii pictures after that!!

In the comments for my last post, Paddy Shaughnessy asked me some very pointed questions.  He asked me:

“I’m interested in your decisions leading up to become a VISTA, it must have been such a huge crossroads in your life. How did you learn about it, was there any hesitation about becoming one and what sacrifices have you had to endure because of your participation?

In other words… how do you go from regular college kid to a servant to social issues given the sacrifices you’d have to make to do it?”

I didn’t feel as though I could answer his questions in the comments so I’m hoping this post can serve as a response.  I’ve talked a bit before about what being a VISTA entails and what it means to me but this will hopefully be a bit more in depth. Let me set the stage…

It was early early in the morning on my birthday at the end of 2007.  I was entering my senior year of college with no clear career goals in mind.  My boyfriend of almost 6 years and I had just broken up.  Quite honestly, my life was a bit of a mess.  A friend of mine had been looking into Teach for America and AmeriCorps and I was inspired.  I had no plans and was starting to freak out about my future.  I decided I had nothing to lose.  I went ahead and applied for AmeriCorps*VISTA and the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  I didn’t really think much of it.  I never thought I would end up where I am today.

When I started getting calls from sites interested in having me as their VISTA I was flattered.  Who wouldn’t be right?  The more I talked with people about VISTA the more I realized it might not be such a bad idea.  It would give me the chance to get a year of experience without having to pay my loans and a chance to see parts of the country I had never seen before.  Part of the reason I ultimately decided to do VISTA was to create a new beginning for myself.  I had just gotten out of the longest relationship I had ever had.  I wanted to redefine myself.  Becoming a VISTA was something I never would have done while in that relationship.  It was a leap of faith, something out of character.  The idea of a fresh start in a new place with new people appealed to me.

I ended up in Nebraska, a long way from home for an East Coast girl.  It’s been an interesting year so far.  I’ve had a lot of amazing experiences that I never would have had otherwise.  I’ve gotten to see most of the state of Nebraska, visited a uranium mine, a horse ranch, 2 Husker games, and multitudes of other fun things.  I’ve also met so many amazing people.  I’ve made life long friends here in a short amount of time.  It hasn’t been without it’s challenges.

Living at poverty level hasn’t been easy.  It’s difficult to make the money work and even more difficult trying to survive on public transportation and charity rides to get around.  I look forward to having a car again.  The hardest part for me has been leaving the people I love.  Family and friends mean so much to me and it’s been hard to be away for such long periods of time.  I am lucky to get home twice a year.  It’s hard to make friends when you only really go to work and home again due to lack of rides.  That has been a difficult adjustment as well but I’m dealing with it.  Thankfully I have amazing coworkers to help make up for it.

The switch from college life to AmeriCorps was a big one for me.  However I’m not sure if it would have been any different if I entered the working world instead.  I have no real basis for comparison.  Our training helped get me in the mindset I needed to empathize with people experiencing poverty.  As long, and sometimes boring (hehe), as it sometimes was, it was worth it.

All in all the experience has been worth it.  It’s had its rough patches but I’ve tried to learn from them the best that I can.  I’ve been lucky enough to be accepted into a Physician Assistant Master’s program for the fall and I am sure my experiences here helped me get there.  I hope I can continue to take these lessons with me and grow.  Well this turned out to be much “sappier”, for lack of a better word, than I anticipated!  Thanks for reading everyone and let me know if you have any more questions!