Changing Your Life

I was perusing some of my favorite blogs the other day and while I was on She’s a Fit Chick, I read this post about an article that questions where you are in life and where you want to be. Like Jennifer, I decided to answer the questions. This gets a bit long, but hopefully you enjoy it anyway.

1. Where do you want to be in life right now and in the future?

I’m in a really good place in my life, so there isn’t much that I would change. I’m in my senior year at an amazing college, where I’ve met so many fantastic people and learned more than I imagined. I’ve been involved in various organizations that I’m passionate about, started a club that will hopefully continue to grow and help other students who are interested in the magazine industry, and had a fantastic job at the fitness centers where I’ve discovered passions I never knew I had. Not to mention I’ve been lucky enough to live in New York City twice in a year and work at a magazine I absolutely love and 100 percent support.

But that’s only the work and education side. I’m also in a very loving relationship with my boyfriend of practically two years (13 days away) and I’ve never felt more sure of myself than I do when I’m with him. He listens to my worries, basks in my successes and encourages me to keep pushing even though I doubt myself at times and want to give up. He makes me laugh, I never (ok, maybe sometimes) get sick of him and he’s not too shabby on the eyes, either. What else could you ask for in a boyfriend?

I also have fantastic friends that I’ve kept in touch with throughout life and I can’t wait to see these friendships grow. My roommates in Oswego, Kayleigh and Meghan, are phenomenal; I love my good friends from back home and I can’t wait to be reunited with my ASME friends from NYC! I’m so blessed to know this many amazing people.

So yeah, I’m pretty content right now.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop moving forward. My college career is ending in four months, which means a new part of my life is beginning. The adult part. The no-relying-on-anyone-else part. The make-it-or-break-it part. I’m moving to NYC with two of my ASME friends, Libby and Victoria, and I couldn’t be more excited. Or scared. I’m nervous about getting a job in the magazine industry. You never know if the timing will play out and in magazine world you can’t start looking for a job until two months before graduation (So if I’m a stress ball the last few months of college, you’ll know why). However, I’ll be positive and hope for the best! This time next year, I want to be living in NYC and working at a magazine I love. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it without living on Spaghetti O’s, too!

2. Is there something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t?

I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise. Since I was little, I’ve dreamed of traveling on a huge ship to some exotic and warm location with my friends. I don’t care if it’s with my family, a girls’ getaway, a mix of guys and gals, or a vacation with Dustin — as long as I’m with people who are ready to relax and have fun in the sun! This year, I’m determined to go on a cruise, possibly to the Bahamas, to celebrate my graduation!

3. What’s something you would regret never having done in life?

Applying for the ASME summer internship, hands down. I remember looking at the application, talking with my professor about it and wondering whether or not I should apply because all of the students who were accepted last year were from big-name schools. I mean, I went to a SUNY school — did I really have a shot of getting in? Turns out I did. I had no idea how ASME determined who got in, but I later found out it’s based completely on what you’ve done to get ahead. Nobody cared that I went to a state school. If I had let my fears get the best of me, I never would have gone to NYC and worked at FITNESS, met great people from all over the country and had the best summer of my life.

4. What are you doing to make yourself available to new opportunities?

Networking like a mad woman. I try to meet someone new every day and learn about who they are and what they do in life. I’ve learned not to be shy around new people and just say hi. I’ve been meeting with a lot of different magazine editors as well, just to learn about how they got to where they are. The mag industry is very much about paying it forward, so making that initial contact, and then preserving it, opens a whole new world of opportunity every time.

5. What do you like/dislike about your life?

  • I love my friends, family and boyfriend.
  • I like that I’m graduating in four months.
  • I like that I’m living with two fantastic people in NYC in a few months.
  • I like that I’m studying to become a nationally certified personal trainer.
  • I dislike that I’m going to be six hours away from my family and best friend.
  • I dislike that my college friends and I are going separate ways (except for Tom!)
  • I dislike that one of my closest friends and I no longer talk because of what he thinks are irreconcilable differences.

6. What are you doing in your life right now to make it better?

I’m working in my desired career field at a magazine I love, growing a networking organization at Oswego State to help future journalism students, launching an online magazine, meeting amazing people through blogging, and training to run my first half-marathon and complete my first triathlon!

7. Are you comfortable with yourself?

More and more every day. There are things I don’t like about myself, but movements like Operation Beautiful are teaching me that I’m an amazing person despite my flaws.

8. What’s holding you back from what you want in life?

A fear of failing. Which I guess segues into confidence. I’ve been successful at a lot of things because I push myself to the limit and because I’m afraid of what it will be like if I fail at something. I need to learn to forget fear and just go for it. I know life is lived to the fullest when fear isn’t a part of the equation.

What suggestions do you have for fighting fear? I encourage you to answer these questions about yourself and if you blog about it, send it my way!

Back at My Dream Job

I’m nestled into a seat on Megabus, staring out the window as the bus leaves New York City and heads to Albany. I’m on my way home for Christmas and I absolutely can’t wait to see my family, yet I’m always a little sad when I watch the skyline disappear behind me.

I’ve been back in N.Y.C. for a little over a week now and I’ve fallen in love all over again. I’m living in a different area now — this summer I was in the Village, right by Union Square, and now I’m subletting a room from a Columbia student on the Upper West Side — but I’ve found just as many quirks as I did before. There are cute diners, boutiques and a Starbucks on every corner. Since we’re mentioning Starbucks, let me just say I’ve realized how lucky I am that I don’t like coffee — I save so much money!

Anyway, the living arrangements aren’t that bad. Yeah, it’s a little pricey, but everything is pricey in the city. You just have to learn to suck it up and take it as part of the package. I don’t have Internet at my house, which is why the blogs have been few and far between. When I get home from work, I usually head to the gym and then it’s time to go to sleep so I can wake up early for work again. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave me with much time to walk over to Starbucks to snag some free Wi-Fi. I’m sure I’ll do it though!

Just like before, I love everything about working at FITNESS. I received such a warm welcoming, and our editor-in-chief even said it was like I had never left. It makes me happy that I left everyone with such a positive impression, and it drives me to work as hard as I possibly can to maintain that reputation.

I can’t give too many details of what I’ve been doing right now because I can’t let the competition in on our secrets! But I will say that I’ve been doing a lot of researching and writing, so keep your eyes peeled for my byline! Last week was really awesome too because I went to a photo shoot with a celeb personal trainer! Which one? You’ll have to wait and see! I love that I get to meet such awesome people and incorporate so much fitness into my job. You know you’ve found your dream job when it combines two of your passions. Not to mention every day goes by so fast. Even if I happen to be making a lot of photocopies, the day zooms past and I never find it dragging.

Also, make sure you run out and grab the January issue that’s on newsstands now! My picture is in there — can you spot me?

What kind of things do you want in your dream job?

Home is Where the Heart Is

I just got back from Thanksgiving break, and as cliche as it sounds, I must say that I wish break hadn’t flown by so fast. I’ve loved being at school and taking more steps to get me closer to the career I want, but sometimes I just really miss my family. I haven’t been home for more than three weeks all year, so I was grateful that I was able to spend time with a lot of family members over break.

However, I didn’t head straight home for break. Instead, I traveled through Boston, all the way up to Manchester, N.H. My mother’s entire side of the family, all of whom I’m really close with, live around Manchester and I always make a point to visit at least once a year. Thanksgiving break was my time to visit this year. I stayed at my Aunt Sue and Uncle Dave’s house throughout the week, but was lucky enough to see every family member.

Tuesday was just a day of traveling, so I didn’t do much more than hang out around the house. My friend, Kait, was awesome enough to offer me a ride from Oswego to Worcester, which is right outside of Boston. Then her parents became even more amazing and offered to drive me the whole way to Manchester so that I wouldn’t have to take a bus.

Wednesday became the special day between my Aunt Sue and I. Nicknamed her “special girl,” we hit the mall for some shopping, grabbed lunch and margaritas at Shorty’s, one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, and went to the movies to see Love and Other Drugs. In case you were wondering, it’s a must-see movie.

I also had breakfast with my Grammy and caught up with my old friend, Nick, after the movie at Applebee’s. I’ve known him since we were little kids, but we often only see each other once a year and talk the rest of the time via Facebook or text messaging, so it was nice to catch up in person again.

Thursday was Thanksgiving! My uncles, aunts, baby cousin Devyn, Grammy and I went to Hart’s Turkey Farm, a restaurant famous for their turkey dinners. It was delicious! I followed my Surviving Thanksgiving Dinner guidelines too and ate rather healthy. Unfortunately, my family then surprised me with a birthday cake (apparently my birthday is a week-long celebration), which totally de-railed any healthy eating habits I had going. Not to mention I wasn’t expecting it at all, so my face turned about 10 shades of red.

I spent Friday with my cousin Joclyn, who shares a special bond with me because she’s exactly 10 years younger than me (Well, her birthday is the day before mine, but it’s close enough). I bought her a “Fight Like A Girl” T-shirt that Colleges Against Cancer was selling this year to benefit the American Cancer Society, and we both had black boots, so she loved the fact that we could dress up as twins for a day.

I headed over to my Aunt Carol’s on Saturday, where I got to have a second round of Thanksgiving dinner with her, her boyfriend Jim, my mom, step-dad, and my little brother, Scott. Once again, I followed my Survive Thanksgiving Dinner tips and ate a delicious yet healthy meal!

We also had family game night, and the girls kicked butt in Catchphrase for three rounds. I also won a round of Apples to Apples, but my Aunt Carol and Jim were able to claim a round, too. Scott put up a valiant effort each time, but was unable to clinch a title like he usually does.

I spent all of  Sunday traveling on a bus, which wasn’t fun because my phone decided to call it quits about two minutes after I boarded. Fortunately, I had my boyfriend’s phone number memorized and was able to get to a pay phone so he could pick me up safe and sound. And when I got back to Oswego, the view was definitely worth it.

How was your Thanksgiving break? Did you experience any memorable moments?

Four Years, Millions of Memories

I’m finally settling back into the groove of things in Oswego, and it’s starting to hit me that I’m a senior. What?! Yes, a senior! After four long, yet unbelievably fast years, there are only seven months left until graduation. Therefore, this is a blog of reminiscence. And if you know me well, you understand that I often live my life with a camera close by. Here are the most important lessons I learned at college, and the pictures to express them.

1. The friends you make here will give you the memories you’ll never forget.

I’ve come to know so many people, but there are a few that I know will be with me forever. These people take classes with you, go to lunch with you, hit parties with you, and eat absurd amounts of food with you (Subshop, Zonies, Enzo’s, Azteca’s, Rudy’s etc).

From top left, clockwise: Jeff, Dylan, Me, Kyle, Meghan!

2. Get involved in organizations — you’ll learn much more than in just the classroom.

After working at The Oswegonian for three years, I’m confident that I’ve developed the skills I need to enter into the journalism field after graduation.

The 'Gonian before we switched to broadsheet in 2009!

3. Find something you’re passionate about.

I joined Colleges Against Cancer my freshman year, even though it had just launched. This organization has people with so much heart, and I love working in Relay for Life each year to help work toward a day when cancer can be cured.

My 2009 RFL team!

Now I’ve launched Ed2010 at Oswego State, an organization that helps students break into the magazine industry. I want Oswego State students to understand that just because we go to a small school doesn’t mean you can’t make big dreams a reality! So if you’re interested in working in magazines, join our Facebook group here!

4. If you have a good roommate, stick with them.

People often dread figuring out who their roommate is going to be each year. Will they like me? Will I hate them? Are we going to have conflicting schedules? How do we set ground rules? Fortunately, I found a great roomie. Meghan Stewart and I have been living together for three years now and we currently share a house off-campus with another fantastic friend, Kayleigh Kimberly. Which brings me to my sub-point: be nice to your R.A’s! They could end up being one of your closest friends. Kayleigh was my R.A. and we’ve been inseparable ever since.

Meghan, Kayleigh and I

5. Get a job.

Believe me, it’s so much nicer when you have a continuous flow of money coming into your bank account. And you can’t rely on Mom and Dad forever (nor should you), so you might as well start weaning yourself now.  I’ve worked at the campus fitness centers for three years and my co-workers are like a family. Some of them even took me to Canada for my 19th birthday!

My gym family in Canada for my 19th!

6. Don’t force relationships…

Too many people go into college trying to sustain high school relationships. If that’s what’s really meant to be, then good for you. But don’t hang onto something that you shouldn’t! College is about growing and getting to know yourself. I was single for two and a half years and it was one of the best decisions of my life.

7. But if you find someone great, don’t be afraid to commit.

Notice I said number six was one of the best decision of my life. Knowing when to take a chance on love was another great decision. I met Dustin during my sophomore year and we started dating during spring semester (We’ve been together nearly two years now). We were just friends first and he’s become one of my best friends. So my advice is find someone you can talk to, that you love being around, that you can trust. Someone you can laugh with (and at), who listens to your biggest fears and encourages your wildest dreams. That’s when you know it’s worth pursuing.

Dustin and I in N.Y.C. for New Year's Eve

These are the most valuable life lessons that come to me immediately. What are some of the things you’ve learned in college?

Magazines, the Power of Print

During my first day of classes, one of my professors made it blatantly clear that she doesn’t believe journalists have any shot at getting a job upon graduation; that journalists are essentially signing up to be poor for the next 10 years. While this professor was semi-accurate about the pay (if you are pursuing journalism thinking you’re going to be a millionaire, I encourage you to change fields now), she was not right about the fact that journalists can’t get a job after graduation.

Unfortunately, it seems as though she has bought into the fallacy that print is dying because the Internet is overtaking all other forms of media. This notion, however, is inaccurate. It’s simply not how media works. People don’t abandon one form of media for another, but rather make room in their lives for the new media outlet while hanging on to the style they already love. So, in the hopes that professors follow this blog, I’m posting these two videos that show proven facts about media and the rising sales of print magazines.

Magazines, the Power of Print

The 20 Tweetable Truths About Magazines

Magazine Publishers of America are also running their “Magazines, the Power of Print” ad campaigns within the print editions of more than 100 titles. These ads are so powerful and they use multiple magazine titles to prove that magazines are thriving rather than disappearing. Yes, some magazines have folded in recent years (R.I.P. Gourmet), but numerous titles have launched and proven themselves successful (Yay, Food Network Magazine!)

I understand that newspapers have taken a slight turn for the worse, but please don’t keep telling students that print is going to be dead soon. It’s simply not true. And I plan on proving this professor wrong by landing a job in the magazine industry soon after I graduate.

What NYC Doesn’t Have

As much as I love NYC, I still missed my country roots. So, to balance out the overwhelming amount of love you’ve seen me express for the concrete jungle, I’ll show you some country lovin’. These are a few of the things NYC doesn’t have (a.k.a. 10 awesome things I had to live without for three months). Enjoy!

Things New York City Doesn’t Have

What little things do you love about home?

NYC, the Perfect Boyfriend

My best friend recently went through a gruesome breakup. Our idea of consolation doesn’t involve crying and holding each other, but rather laughter, insults and good drinks in hand. While consoling her, she once again wondered why she hadn’t found her dream guy.

Smiling coyly over my glass, I looked at her and said, “I found the perfect boyfriend.” Rolling her eyes, she assumed I was talking about my actual boyfriend, Dustin. Oh, how she was mistaken.

“No silly, it’s NYC,” I said. “Think about it. He has everything you could ever want in a boyfriend.”

1. He’s interesting. There’s always something new to discover.

The Frying Pan = delicious dive bar in the Village.

2. He’s smart. There’s an array of museums, libraries and galleries to explore.

Andy Warhol @ MoMa

3. He’s funny. First, you have the comedy clubs such as Dangerfield’s or the Laugh Lounge. Plus, there are always a few interesting characters roaming around that are sure to provoke a chuckle or two.

4. He’s a perfect 10. Maybe you don’t judge looks on a number scale, but sometimes my friends and I cave to this belittling concept. And NYC, ooohh, he makes me swoon. There are so many beautiful sights; it’d be easy for me to sit and stare all day.

5. He’s cultured. You can meet someone from any culture or race here. Not to mention the glorious fact that you can try nearly any type of food!

6. You can go home and relax with him. After a long, grueling day at work, nothing is quite as good as feeling the stress melt away with a relaxing yoga session.

Strala Yoga with Tara Stiles

7. He’s passionate. People come here from all over the world to make their dreams a reality.

8. He’s fun. There’s always something to do to satisfy any craving.

9. You can’t be mad at him. He can have other girlfriends without upsetting you because those girls just make the ride so much more enjoyable.

I could’ve given you a tenth quality, but my lucky number is nine, so it just feels right to stop here. My advice? Go to New York City and fall in love with the perfect boyfriend, too. I promise to share : )

Getting Flexible with Tara Stiles

I don’t know about everyone else, but I take the term “group exercise class” very seriously. As in, I don’t go unless I have a friend tagging along. Call me crazy but I need to have that moral support when I’m exercising in front of a group of strangers and the instructor can zero in on me at any second. I know from working at a gym that most instructors don’t judge (unless you show up to spinning class in cutoff jeans and hiking sneakers), but you never know about the other participants.

That’s why I dragged my best friend, Liz Shaftic, to a new yoga class when she came to visit here in NYC. After taking a six hour bus ride to arrive at 42nd Street at 12:30a.m. on a Friday night, you’d think I’d let her snag some extra shut-eye the next day, right? Wrong. We were up bright and early to head to Tara Stiles’ Strala Yoga in NoHo.

Due to some unexpected subway construction that seriously derailed our arrival, Liz and I kicked things off to a good start by showing up nearly a half hour late. However, we were still able to grab a yoga mat and jump into downward dog with one of the most prominent yoga instructors in the nation (Not to mention her husband, Michael Taylor, who’s studied and practiced Eastern movement and healing techniques for more than two decades, joined us for class).

Now, before you start thinking I’m a huge yoga guru because I work at FITNESS and really love participating in fitness-related activities, let me explain something: yoga has never been on the top of my priority list. I usually forget to stretch before and after my workouts (I’ve gotten better, though!), so contorting my body into various positions and holding them peacefully is not something I’m usually good at. But being the adventure-seeker that I am, I figured I’d give it a shot.

Although the “Strong” class I took is normally an hour and 15 minutes long, I was only there for 45 minutes and I still got a sweat-inducing, muscle-blasting workout. Tara took us through a variety of poses that didn’t just stretch the muscles. We did core, leg and butt exercises that really strengthen the muscles as well. By the end, my tank top was drenched with sweat and I realized I shouldn’t have bothered to shower before class. Don’t forget I was only there for 45 minutes — I can only imagine what I would have looked like if I was there for the full class.

Tara was also extremely nice and helpful with each class participant. She corrected my form when necessary, as a good instructor should, but she didn’t point it out to the rest of the class. In the middle of a pose, she quietly walked over and adjusted my body. And to make things less embarrassing, she cracked a joke and always had a bright smile. I noticed she was like this with all the participants rather than just with me because she knows I work at FITNESS.

Although all these things are great, I haven’t even gotten to the best part: the price. Yoga classes in NYC are typically $20 per class and can be close to $300 a month if you’re a regular goer. But Strala Yoga offers a unique, affordable opportunity: $10 a class.

“I want to make yoga affordable for everyone so that it can be something that’s easily integrated into everyday life,” Stiles told me after class. “We make the classes enjoyable and affordable, so we always have people coming back for more.”

This really could be the best deal around. So if you’re in NYC, pick up your yoga mat (or rent one there for $2) and head over to Strala Yoga. I promise, you won’t regret it. And look for me while you’re there — I’ll probably be the girl near the back trying to twist in various directions.

Fitness Required at FITNESS?

Ever since I started my internship, I’ve had one question asked of me over and over again.

“Do you have to be in really good shape to work at FITNESS?

I’m actually surprised by how often I’ve heard this, and some of my fellow ASME interns have even said, “Sam, I’m so glad you were placed at FITNESS instead of me. I’m not fit enough to work there!”

Well everyone, I’m here to let you know that it is not a requirement that you be fit to be considered for employment at FITNESS (I’m pretty sure if this were true, the magazine would be in a lot of trouble with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission). You don’t have to be an exercise enthusiast, nutrition expert or health guru.

However, it definitely doesn’t hurt if you are fitness savvy. The people I work with are not only knowledgeable about their field, they enjoy it. Casual conversation is often about the latest yoga DVD  that someone used or the class they’re going to test.

The office itself doesn’t hurt either. I can’t help but feel motivated when en route to the kitchen I pass a rack of bikinis, sports bras and workout clothes. Or on my way to the copy room I pass the shoe closet, which is filled with more sneakers than I’ve ever seen at one time. When I leave for lunch, I pass the fitness closet that is brimming with a wide array of workout equipment — yoga mats, medicine balls, bicycling helmets, etc — you name it; it’s probably in there.

Working at FITNESS has also inspired me to keep up with my own workout regime. I used to spend my summers somewhere close to home. In an old post, I made it clear that Oppenheim does not have a whole ton of civilization (I wasn’t kidding about the more cows than people quota). Well, minimal fitness opportunities go hand-in-hand with minimal civilization. The closest gym to my house is 20 minutes and it’s in serious need of an equipment upgrade. As a result, I didn’t work out as much. I’d sweat it out biking, hiking or running outside, sure, but it’s not the same as grunting out a fantastic strength training session at the gym where you can also escape the heat for a few glorious hours in AC.  (You didn’t think my house has AC, did you? Come on now!) Then top it off with all of mom’s fantastic home-cooked meals that you miss oh, so much while away during college and you’re on the fast road to out-of-shape city.

But being here has helped me stay in the fitness mindset I have while at school. This mindset can also be credited to my job at the Cooper/Glimmerglass Fitness Centers as a Student Manager and Personal Trainer. What always happens there happens at FITNESS, too. When you’re surrounded by people who love health and fitness, you can’t help but get sucked in. I’ve always been passionate about athletics and working out, but my love for it has grown exponentially the last two years. Working at this magazine motivates me to try the latest moves we’re telling our readers about or go to a yoga class that could inspire a story pitch. If I can combine my passions and succeed at my job while staying in shape, aren’t I getting the best of both worlds? I think so.

I’ve found my motivation to stay fit through my job at FITNESS, not because I have to be fit in order to work there. What’s your motivation? I’d love to hear about it here, or at The Pulse, my personal health and fitness blog. Hope to hear from you soon!