My Causerie

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table." ~ Ronald Reagan

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? February 19, 2015

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 11:06 pm
Guess who's coming to dinner?

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

This whole notion of “radical hospitality” seems to be something God wants me to hear because it has been brought to my attention in many ways over the past few weeks.
In the previous family sermon series, I heard about the importance of spending time around the family table and about the message that is communicated when you invite someone to sit in your living room.

Our small group just completed the Max Lucado study, “Outlive Your Life,” and this theme of radical hospitality seemed to still be pulling at me. Lucado reminded us of how in the beginning, the gospel was shared from home to home, and we were asked, “Is the gospel being shared from your home?” Lucado also gave us a lesson in Latin as he wrote: “Hospitality opens the door to uncommon community. It’s no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: ‘You matter to me and to God.’ You may think you are saying, ‘Come over for a visit.’ But what your guest hears is, ‘I’m worth the effort.’”

So, I decided I wanted to be more intentional about my hospitality. I used to do much better at this, but it seems life gets busy and I let that hospitality wane. I am sure part of that reason stems from my “Martha” syndrome…so much to prepare and get done…are the ceiling fans dusted? Is the tablecloth pressed? None-the-less, I was ready to try. Once a month, I would invite someone new from our church family over for dinner. Ok, I thought; I’m listening; I’m being obedient.

Ha! God can have such a sense of humor! I pick up the church newsletter and there staring back at me is Pastor’s Lenten challenge: eat one meal a week with someone new from our church family. Once a week – did I read that right? But…since I tend to have somewhat of a competitive nature, I responded, “Ok, game on!

Then last night I attended Ash Wednesday services, and Pastor said that each of us should decide for ourselves what we will relinquish this Lenten season. So I put it to prayer, and I still thinking about this notion of radical hospitality and how God is really laying this upon my heart. I talked it over with my husband this morning, and we agreed: for the next 40 days, we are giving up going out: no going to the theater, no dinner out with friends.

???????????????????????????????Instead, we will begin our practice of radical hospitality. We will invite people into our home for IMG00665-20110802-2159food and fellowship. Maybe I will use the “good” dishes; maybe we’ll roast hotdogs around a fire. Who knows! I remember reading once about how someone would even enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich…if someone else made it for them!

I’m not exactly sure what the next 40 days will bring, but I am going to do my best at practicing radical hospitality.

I am looking forward to the conversations around the dinner table. I am looking forward to making new friends, and I am looking forward to letting our guests hear through our actions, “You are worth the effort.”

So, do you want to join us for dinner? Pull up a chair and let’s talk!

 

Make blogging a new habit February 9, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am
Photo Credit: M.Ryan Photography via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: M.Ryan Photography via Compfight cc

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. Have you heard that before? Maybe this is true for some, but for most of us, it just doesn’t work that fast. The thing is, we shouldn’t even focus on the number of days it takes to form the new habit, but just start with day 1. We can’t get to day 21, 51 or 101 without starting with day 1.

One habit public relations students need to develop is writing and writing often. Blogging can serve as a fun and engaging channel for doing just that. However, the biggest argument made by many college students is, “I don’t have time to write.”

Well, I’ve done my part to help students meet this challenge; I have made blogging a class assignment! Just think, in approximately 120 days, you may well have established a new writing habit! You can thank me later.

To help you succeed in this new habit-forming endeavor, check out the seven tips in this article by Mike Fishbein, “How to find time to create great content.

Tip #1 on the list is to write about something you are enthusiastic about; this makes the writing process easier and more fun. If you enjoy the process, you are more likely to continue past day 1!

Tip #2 suggests you do other tasks in between your writing sessions. It’s common for writers to hit road blocks, but I also think most of us can recognize what time of day is our most productive for certain tasks. Uncover your productivity peaks and take advantage of them.

Tip #3 is all about time management. We live a 24/7 life. Trying to complete tasks today can be a challenge because we have “distractions” at our fingertips, which can make it tough to get through any “to-do” list. You need to find an organizational system that works for you.

Tip #4: Just say no! Ha ha…so much easier said than done, but it is possible; give it a try.

Tips 5 – 7 are about setting goals: intermediate goals, ambitious goals and measurable goals, and Fishbein gives some great advice for each of these. I like how he breaks them into separate entities; I think it speaks to the importance of each.

If you’ve been struggling trying to develop a writing habit with your new blogging assignment, take the time to read through Fishbein’s seven tips. I think his advice could very well put your blogging on the path to becoming a great writing habit!

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.

 

Don’t Stop…Thinking About Tomorrow! January 30, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 9:00 am

With a little help from Fleetwood Mac and a young PR professional by the name of Olivia Adams, I am here to remind students to “don’t stop thinking about tomorrow!”

Adams may be young, but she shares wisdom beyond her years in her post “8 Things They Don’t Tell You About Breaking into PR After College.” I’ve paraphrased her list here, but be sure to read her full post at Olivia Adams. She’s a great role model and offers sound advice for young professionals just beginning their careers.

1. Don’t stop networking. So, you’ve landed an amazing job; congratulations! Just remember whether it’s your first position or midway through your career, you need to continue to network. The “it’s who you know” adage doesn’t lose value as you progress through your career.

2. Don’t stop gaining experience. Adams mentions the possibility of taking a post-graduation internship. If you don’t land a job right after graduating, consider the value an internship can offer. It will allow you to continue learning and gaining experience, which will strengthen your resume. Although some internships may still be unpaid, there are some firms that offer paid internships for graduates.

3. Don’t stop building your brand. Basically, Adams reminds us that we cannot rest on our laurels, which can be an easy trap to fall into if everything is going along just “peachy.” My favorite part of her advice: “don’t forget about your PR peeps and your blog!”

4. Don’t stop discovering. This is especially good advice for current students because it reinforces the value in seeking diverse internships. Getting experience in different sectors of the industry gives you a chance to see what you like and what you don’t.

5. Don’t stop learning. Adams stresses the importance of understanding measurement when it comes to social media. So if you want to tout “social media expertise” on your resume, you have to understand how to measure those strategies.

6. Don’t stop collaborating. Public relations, advertising and marketing are increasingly more integrated. Content marketing plays a role in this collaborative effort. Understanding this role will make you a more competitive job candidate/employee.

7. Don’t stop side hustling. I have to admit, I had never heard the term “side hustle,” but I like the sound of it. We lead busy lives, and our jobs are often a big chunk of that busyness. So whether you call it a side hustle, work-life balance, giving back or just plain and simple, “me time,” I agree with Adams…it’s a beautiful thing!

8. Don’t stop writing. Ahhh, now I have to admit, I was excited to see this on the list! Being a solid writer is just so important to public relations professionals, and like any skill, the more you practice, the better you get at it. That’s why I like to see students blogging. Writing about something you are passionate about helps make the writing practice more fun, and hopefully, it will encourage students to continue writing.

What an awesome list, and remember, this advice is coming from someone who just graduated last year and is well on her way to a successful career – that’s encouragement right there! So don’t stop thinking about tomorrow because it will indeed soon be here! In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk.

 

90 seconds to Success January 19, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 7:00 am
Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds via Compfight cc

Nicolas Boothman created a list of 20 things you can do in 90 seconds. It’s an interesting list, and I have to admit, #14 caught my attention! I’m going to try that the next time I mix up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough.

I also liked this list that was in today’s Bellville News Democrat. For students searching for summer internships or that first post-graduation job, the list shares tips about what could be the most important 90 seconds in your job search (click on the image to see the full list).

You should pay attention to all the points, but there are a few I would like to draw your attention to because they may surprise you. As noted in the article, the statistics come from a survey of 2,000 bosses. Now take a look at what may influence your potential boss:

1. Talk about first impressions! For many bosses, the way you dress, act and walk through the door tells them a lot about you. (55%)

2. Relating to the way you dress, you might want to hold back on the latest fashion trends. Most bosses seem to still go for the conservative look. (70%)

3. Staying with this fashion faux pas theme, consider how important your clothing choices are when bosses say clothes can be the deciding factor between two similar candidates. (65%)

4. You not only have to walk the walk, but talk the talk. The other interesting statistic is that the quality of your voice, grammar and overall confidence has a far greater impact than what you actually say. (38% vs. 7%)

I highlight these four points, but you certainly don’t want to avoid the other tips either. For example, when you do talk, be sure you know what you are talking about, which includes knowing about the company you are interviewing with. Having little or no knowledge about the company was noted as one of the most common mistakes made by job seekers.

And remember that chapter on nonverbal communication during your interpersonal communication class? If not, now is the time to refresh your memory. Nonverbal communication has a tremendous impact on your interviewing success.

So, what can you do in 90 seconds? Pull up a chair and let’s chat.

How Interviewers Know When to Hire You in 90 Seconds

 

Keep Calm and Smile On January 11, 2015

Filed under: ACS 213,ACS 313 — mycauserie @ 10:34 pm
Photo Credit: RobotSkirts via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: RobotSkirts via Compfight cc

“People assume you can’t be shy and be on television. They’re wrong.” – Diane Sawyer.
I think the same is true for those in the public relations industry, and it is something the quiet, more introverted aspiring public relations professionals need to know.

I would classify myself as a quiet, shy introvert…friends, colleagues, former employers and professors would all agree. In fact, in a glowing recommendation letter written by one of my former professors, she stated, “The phrase, ‘still waters run deep’ certainly describes Stacey Howard.” She also said I was her highest achieving student! From my military career to my role in academia, my quiet personality has never hindered my achievements – much to the surprise of some of my more extroverted colleagues.

Case in point: I was a sergeant in the United States Army. During my last tour of duty, I was assigned to an Army Reserve Command headquarters. Each year the headquarters staff would present at a conference in Kansas City. While at the conference, we were not obligated to attend the presentations of the other staff members. However, when it came time for me to present, I noticed my colleagues standing in the back of the room. After I completed my presentation, all their accolades and compliments told me that my colleagues were not expecting such a “performance.” In fact, they told me so!

Such success stemmed from my confidence in the skills I knew I had and what I could bring to the table for my employer. That’s why I like this blog post from PRowl staff member Emily Charles. She doesn’t just dismiss us quiet introverts, but rather shares some great tips on how to build the confidence that will lead to a successful career as a public relations professional.

So if you were thinking of turning around and running in a different career direction just because you didn’t score high enough on the latest “PR personality” quiz, stop right there. Just keep on reading; keep on asking questions; keep on smiling. Just keep on.

In the meantime, pull up a chair and let’s talk…one introvert to another!Smiley-06-june

 

 

2015: Family Matters January 4, 2015

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 10:10 pm
Youth Club at First Christian Church in Haysville, Kansas.

Youth Club at First Christian Church in Haysville, Kansas.

What a Sunday. The new sermon series to start 2015 is “Family Matters” – complete with a cozy fireplace, followed by a wonderful church potluck that continued with the family matters theme.

We had a great discussion at our “family” table, and one of the topics of discussion: LOGOS! What wonderful memories I have of our daughters growing up in the Youth Club/LOGOS program. From the fun around the family dinner table, which was led by some of the best “dinner deans” ever, to the kids practicing their worship skills to participate in an upcoming service, this program allowed our girls to form relationships with just about every  member of our church family – young and old alike. Case in point: I just received an email from a dear friend from our former church family who said to tell Jordan, our youngest daughter, thank you for the Christmas card she sent…that it feels good to be remembered by the “youngsters!”

This new sermon series also made me think about the bible study our small group is currently doing. It is a Max Lucado study titled, “Out Live Your Life.” In the first week of the study, Lucado reminded us that there are no personal pronouns in Acts 2:42-47. “It’s not about us as individuals; it’s about the body of Christ working together.” We are called to share – to build fellowship with others such as in sharing a meal together. Pastor Bev reminded us today of how that simple invitation turns strangers into friends. This article, “Meals matter to the mission” emphasizes the same. The author reminds us that “Jesus did evangelism and discipleship around a table with some fish, bread and wine.” There is just something about sharing food that makes us feel more connected with those we are sharing it with, and we need to remember a simple peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a five-course meal produces the same results.

“It’s no accident that hospitality and hospital come from the same Latin word, for they both lead to the same result: healing. When you open your door to someone, you are sending this message: ‘You matter to me and to God.’ You may think you are saying, ‘Come over for a visit.’ But what your guest hears is, ‘I’m worth the effort.'” – Max Lucado

The table is set for our Small Group dinner!

The table is set for our Small Group dinner!

This was one of my favorite take-away points from the last lesson, and it reminded me that we tend to think we are all too busy in this world today to take the time for such invitations. I’m blessed to be a part of a small group at church that takes the time to fellowship with each other, pray for each other, laugh with each other and just build relationships with each other.

Another point this study has prompted us to think about is what are we passionate about and how can we make a difference. Two things came to mind for me: Alzheimer’s and children – interesting, how there is an inter-generational theme continuing here! The Alzheimer’s mission is obviously relatively new for me and stems from my own personal journey with my dad, but it is certainly something I am passionate about. As for children, from being a mom, Sunday School teacher, LOGOS volunteer, teacher – yes, even though my students are college age – to now being a grandma, my heart has always been drawn to service to children and making a difference in their lives.

I know the role grandparents played in our daughters’ lives, and I KNOW I count my blessings that we live close – next-door-neighbor close to our grandchildren. We get to play with them, share meals with them, worship with them, and I know we are important to them just as they are important to us. When I came across the article, Children Need Grandparents,it too spoke to my heart and my passion.

Then today, in addition to the new “Family Matters” sermon series and the family potluck discussion, we were also given a copy of “Wesley’s Covenant Prayer.” This prayer invites God to put me where He needs me, with whom He needs me to be with.

You might be asking, “Stacey, what’s your point?” Well, my point is that I’m not sure what God has in store for me for 2015, but I think it is clear that I need to make sure I am listening and ready to have God “put me to doing.”

I am excited…and a bit nervous…as to what God will call me to do in 2015, and I am excited to see what God will call my church family as a whole to do in the coming year.

Family matters, so pull up a chair and let’s talk!

 

 

I teach; therefore, I learn. December 4, 2014

Filed under: My Causerie — mycauserie @ 12:27 pm
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk via Compfight cc

Another semester is coming to a close, which means an end to grading blogs for a little while! Although grading 90+ blogs every semester is daunting, this is honestly one of my favorite assignments to grade.

I do not assign topics for students, so they can blog about whatever they want, which is a win-win. It makes the writing more fun for students, which hopefully results in them enjoying the weekly writing practice more. It also makes grading the blogs more enjoyable for me. Nobody would want to read 90+ blogs on the same topic!

However, I often tell students that the blogging assignment is a double-edged sword for me. I always end up learning something from them, but it can take me several hours to grade all the blogs! Because the students write on a variety of topics, I tend to get pulled into many of the stories. I follow the links they often share and before I know it several hours have passed, and I am not even remotely close to having all the grading completed!

Over the years I have learned a lot from reading my students’ blogs: different perspectives on current events; newest trends whether in technology or fashion; some great new recipes; fun places to visit; and some great health and fitness tips too!

Sometimes their blogs also serve as a source of encouragement. They can express wisdom beyond their years, inspiration that surpasses their age, and the compassion of a child. These are the posts that when I am finally finished grading, whether at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m., I walk away from my laptop feeling like I just learned another valuable life lesson – or maybe a refresher when I needed it most!

First card of the season from one of my students!

First card of the season from one of my students!

Sometimes I can get discouraged; I wonder if I am making a difference at all, but then I will get a thank you, a handshake, a hug – even a Christmas card from a student thanking me for my efforts throughout the semester. These little acts of kindness make my long days and short nights seem worthwhile.

My teaching profession is certainly not rewarded monetarily, but yet I walk away from each semester feeling a little richer because of the students that have sat in my classrooms and the amazing lessons they have taught me.

Blessed.

 

 
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