Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Margaret + Beau

And...I'm back with a love story! I'm SO HAPPY that this is my first story back because it's a great friend celebrating a sweet engagement. Margaret and I grew up together in a small town and went to rival high schools. Then, she headed south to the University of Alabama. This die hard Alabama fan never imagined she'd be marrying a UT Vol! Their long distance love story is one that will send you chills and leave you believing in the power of love! I'm so excited for Margaret and Beau, and I think you'll love their story as much as I do! :) 

Beau was raised in Franklin, TN and graduated from Fred J. Page High School. I was raised in Chapel Hill, TN and graduated from Forrest High School. What’s funny about this is that we grew up 15 minutes from each other, but we didn’t meet until we were both in college – about 6 hours apart! I attended The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and Beau attended The University of Tennessee – Knoxville. We were both home on Christmas break when a few of our mutual friends decided we should meet each other. We went on a “group date” with some of our friends, and after the date, one of our mutual friends gave Beau my phone number. I remembered getting a text message from him a few days later that read “Hey, this is Beau.” I responded with “Beau who?” I know…not my best moment! The next text read “Anna’s friend Beau.” Then I made the connection! Ha! We instantly hit it off and for the next two years, Beau and I talked on the phone almost every day. We rarely hung out because we lived so far apart and we were never at home at the same time. However, in that time we formed a special bond and friendship.

After we both graduated from college, we knew that it was our chance. If we were ever going to date each other, now was the time! So, we started dating in May of 2013. Beau lived in Nashville at the time and I lived in Birmingham, so we were doing the long-distance thing for over a year. In July of 2014, Beau moved to Birmingham and after almost 4 years of being apart, we were finally in the same city!

After dating for over two years, we both knew we wanted to get married. I knew Beau was the perfect man for me. He is sweet, compassionate, fun, friendly and most importantly, he truly cares about me and loves me. He puts my feelings first and that is something that makes me feel so special.

We got engaged on June 8, 2015, in Birmingham, Alabama. It was your normal Monday night. I had worked all day and had on shorts, a tank top and a 3-day-old ponytail (ladies, you know what I’m talking about) and Beau and I had just finished dinner at Sumo. Nothing out of the ordinary for us! On our drive home, Beau said “Why don’t we go check out that park?” A new park and walking trail had opened about a mile from our house on the Cahaba River. We had been wanting to go there and take our dog/fur child Dave Woodis to check out the trails. So, we drove to the park and started walking the trail. A few minutes later, we came upon these gorgeous stone steps that led down to the river. Beau walked me down the steps and then asked me to sit on a large rock at the bottom. I was still clueless until this point. I knew when he asked me to randomly sit down what would happen next!

Beau is a very laid-back, sweet guy, and I can assure you that our engagement was 100% Beau style: very laid back and sweet! There were no cameras, no candles, no Pinterest-inspired decorations. It was just Beau, me, a beautiful Alabama sunset, and lots of love. It was absolutely perfect!

Our wedding will take place on April 30, 2016, almost 3 years after we started dating and after more than 5 years of friendship. I can’t wait for our big day because I truly feel that I am getting to marry my best friend!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Traditional vs. Millennial

Should I say anymore? Well, I am. We, the Millennials, have a bad reputation; I'm fully aware that my job hopping doesn't help my case. As I've been bouncing around in the workforce, I've noticed that the divide between the "new" workday and traditional workday are perceived very differently. The "new" way seems to have left quite a bad taste in the Traditionalists' mouths. I was interviewed a few weeks ago that triggered this post.

I have used all of my editing tricks to fill in any and all gaps that may appear on my resume. Just by reviewing it, you don't even see a gap. For whatever reason, I  have cracked in all of my most recent interviews and just spilled the beans on what was happening at whatever job I was trying to leave. I did it to myself. Some interviewers understood and applauded me not settling (millennials looking to hire millennials); however, this particular interview didn't go that way. 

The CEO's part in the interview was very brief, but he had just enough time to say this, "What's with your generation? You think you can jump from job to job. What are your expectations when you take a job? Jobs require work wherever you go. I guess Millennials would be okay with hiring someone who's been job hopping." Now, this wasn't exact wording, but this is pretty close.

I was not offended or bothered by his statement, and I was still super interested in the position within his company. Not only because that job would've been great, but also so I could show him that Millennials do work hard. We want to work hard for the right organization, with great people, all while fulfilling our passion. 

The Times cover didn't do us justice by using such negative terms like lazy and narcissistic, but they did get it right by saying we may be able to make a change in the world.  While some of the Millennials have truly lived up to the laziness and narcissism unfairly used to describe a large mass of people, there's a group of us that are working our asses off. In fact, there are studies that say that this generation is willing to accept lower compensation if the job gives back and is fulfilling a greater purpose than to hit quotas. Ask me. I took a $10k pay cut to work for two small companies. That statistic is true. Is it a challenge to be paid less? Sure. But being a happy, productive human being is worth the difference. 

Now, for you Traditionalists reading, I completely value a serious work ethic. My parents and grandparents are the ones who instilled that in me. While you were/are a shining example of hard work and did/do more than your share to provide for your family, we also see how unhappy you were/are. You spend 40+ hours each week at a job you hate with people you consider obnoxious for well over half of your lifetime...all to come home each day with no energy, no motivation, and a bad attitude while spending evenings with your family? It doesn't add up, and I can sincerely say that our generation wishes you had been able to do life differently. We wish you could've enjoyed/enjoy your work so you could enjoy everything else that comes with it. There are traditionalists that love their jobs, but according to Forbes "...the majority of Americans - 52.3%- are unhappy at work..."

This is all to say that hiring a Millennial may seem risky, and that's because it is; but, it could be very rewarding. We may have different ways, perceptions, and challenge the average workday, but that doesn't mean we don't value and demonstrate hard work. We excel at working hard for a good purpose. Together, this generation can make a difference and live happier, more fulfilling lives while also promoting positive change. This world needs more happy people. 

Read up! If you are ANY business owner, please do yourself and your company a favor by reading Dale Partridge's "People Over Profit." 

Please support these local Millennials making a difference! 

Sevenly (L.A. based) 
Love Your Melon (Minnesota based) 
Warby Parker (NYC based)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

I'm Calling a DO OVER...and a 10K Pay Cut.

Love Struck?...more like life struck.

Call it a quarter life crisis, but I refuse to think of this as a crisis. What is "this" you may ask? Well, it's been me job hopping for the past 8 months. I'm going to be transparent and tell you that 2015 has kicked my ass: personally and professionally. Here I am; the girl dubbed "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school spending almost an entire year living pay-check-to-pay-check adding gaps in her resume? Yes. I'm your girl!

My last post was just the beginning. I thought it was a new permanent beginning; however, that beginning ended after three eye-opening months. Another few months went by, and I landed what I thought was THE golden career opportunity. Well, it wasn't. Both companies are amazing and successful, and I'm so grateful for having those experiences and opportunities; however, they left me feeling stressed, stuck, panicked...and bored.

Panicked? Yep. If you know me, then you know planning is in my blood. I live for a five year plan. Right now, as I type this, I have no plan. I don't know what my purpose is. I don't know what I want to do as a career. My time at both of those jobs made me realize that I have no clue what I want to do with my life. All I knew at the time was that it wasn't working.

Neither jobs were unbearable, and I could have stuck them out and ruined relationships in their wake. But, as soon as a job starts causing unwanted stress and negatively effects relationships, then it's time to move on. I used to think this was such a cliche', but it's true that you can't put a price tag on happiness. And that, my friends, is why I took over a $10,000 pay cut.

A few doors have been shut, but I'm about to crawl through a few windows that have been cracked open. I'm going to make margaritas with the lemons I've been given. (The margaritas will contain the cheap tequila due to my new employment status).

At this point, some of you may be praying for me. Don't worry; I'm like a cat. Every time I fall I land on my pretty little paws and try to climb the next tree.

I'm lucky to have amazing friends, family, and mentors to lean on during times like these. Times of transition, unpredictability, and uncertainty. When I'm doubting myself, I have the constant love and support of others encouraging me.

Not only do I have THE BEST support system, but I have my hustle, killer work ethic, desire to learn and grown, and determination to create something good. I may be a little nervous and overwhelmed, but I'm far from fearful.

I'm going back to basics and focusing on the things I have versus the things I think I want. Things are only good to fill voids. Memories, laughing, smiling, building a sense of community, and enjoying what you do every single day with people you love is what creates a happy, meaningful life. It's also super free to invest in all of those things.

I'll get back to spreading the love with Love Struck as soon as I get my groove back. Until then, I should probably change the title of this blog to, "Ashley's Quarter Life Diary."

I must thank sir Jon Acuff for writing the book, Do Over. It has helped me redefine and refine my Career Savings Account and given me the encouragement to punch fear in the face.

(Note written by Jon Acuff as found on his Pinterest)