Embrace your Aha Moment

Have you had an “Aha” moment? Oprah talks about them all the time. A moment in time – or an experience – when insight or realization hits. It might be about a career or a relationship, but if you are really lucky it’s a moment of self-realization.

Learning something about yourself that changes your path may take strength of character. Often these moments of clarity lead to change – and people fear change. I have friends who have had aha moments about religion, sexual identity, gender identity, adoption – even keeping a vegan lifestyle. And a true AHA moment will give you the courage to maintain that sense of self even in the face of adversity.

I enjoy stories and shows with coming-of-age aha moments, when youngsters or tweenagers realize what they stand for and why. There’s a show at the “Straz Center” in Tampa, Florida, this week that I have been waiting to see called “Fun Home.” It the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist – Alison Bechdel.

fun home straz tampa florida

Alison Bechdel is a real person. She is a cartoonist who had popular graphic novels and comics in the mid-80s and early 90s. In 2006, she published a graphic memoir of her life called “Fun Home”, which was subsequently adapted as a musical and won a Tony Award for Best Musical (among others) in 2015.

I first learned of Alison Bechdel when some college friends were talking about the Bechdel-Wallace Test. This tongue-in-cheek “test” analyzes portrayal of females in film and other popular media. A movie passes the Bechdel test if it has at least two female characters in it who both have names and who carry on a conversation about something other than a man.

I have been following the musical about her life, “Fun Home,” since its inception and I am thrilled that since its Broadway run has ended it will now be right next door to me in Tampa. I know too much already about the show and music, and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it deals with a lot of sensitive family situations – some of which will make me cry a lot from my seat in the audience – and which have also been a part of my family’s recent narrative.

I’m curious to see how the show will be readapted for the Straz Center’s gorgeous stage, because it was performed in the round in NYC. I’m also excited to see the 3 Alisons – three different actresses portray Alison Bechdel at different ages during the show.

If you want a bit of a spoiler, here is an Alison Aha Moment; Small Alison performing Ring of Keys at the 2015 Tony Awards.

For you teenage thespian geeks, check out the “Teens Take Broadway” feature on Thurs., Nov. 30 and receive a deeply discounted ticket plus a free pre-show event with live entertainment, games, raffles, refreshments and a free post-show talk-back with the cast.

Fun Home runs at the Straz Nov 28 – Dec 3, 2017Regular seats start at $31. I hope you go and your sense of self grows, or your sense of the world grows. I hope it helps you sift through your own clutter and find clarity. And I hope tomorrow night when I see it, I do the same.

I was asked to post about Fun Home in exchange for 2 free tickets due to my relationship with the Tampa Bay Bloggers.

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Send your student to College with a Resume

WHY THEY NEED A RESUME:

If your student will be job hunting while in college, they’ll want to have a resume on file. Even if they have no work experience – they need to professionally present themselves somehow. They can always write about high school activities and babysitting if they have to. Even if your student will not be working during school, eventually they’ll want an internship or they will need to attend career fairs on campus. So, being prepared with a resume on hand is very helpful.

My daughter started college during summer semester. Towards the end of summer she applied for a job that would start in the fall. She got the job, and knew when she returned for fall semester it would be waiting for her. My point being, she took the time to find the school’s online job board in advance. She beat the rush!

FORMATTING THE RESUME + Research:

I polled many of my professional friends about resumes. Everyone agreed that no matter what the field, you still want a basic resume formatted simply. Not only will this make the resume easy for the interviewer to skim, but it also allows HR to scan your resume into a database using software specially designed to look for resume key fields.

Many word processing software programs have built-in resume templates to use. We decided to save hers on Google Drive so we both had access to editing or sharing it. She also left for college with a dozen printed copies in a folder on nice paper.

Next, do a little research about a specific job or the company you may work for if you have one in mind. Remember to put the most valuable information first on the resume in case someone only glances at it for 7 seconds. If you have no work experience, this might be your personal statement at the top, paraphrasing exactly what this specific job entails so you sound perfect for the corporate culture. It might be your high school GPA and if you were President of the Honors Club or something like that. But if you have related work experience – then it’s certainly your related work experience! In fact, if you have enough experience working or interning in your desired field, you can probably leave high school off your resume all together (the thought!)

My daughter’s boyfriend is a finance major. Before he applied for an internship, we looked at his boring resume together. He had one job in high school – the same one every summer. On paper, he didn’t seem very marketable, but he had found his dream internship and really wanted to put his best foot forward. We Googled resumes for his field, and actually found a university that had sample resumes online that had worked for their finance-major students. What a great find! His 2 little paragraphs were fleshed out quite easily after that! He added a personal statement, related coursework, the fact that he had a leadership role in the business college… and he has an endearing personality, so he interviews well.

My daughter also learned from a big name company while at a college career fair, that many interviewers want to see a college GPA on a resume.

TEST-DRIVE:

DD1 went to her first career fair as a Freshman, even though she knew companies were mainly looking for juniors and seniors. She wanted to get a feel for the room and how people were dressed before it mattered. It was like a test-drive with no pressure at all. If a table seemed slow, she could ask questions, but otherwise she kind of hovered and soaked it in. Afterwards, she called me and said she wanted to add her GPA to her resume and get a blue suit after sophomore year. Apparently career fairs at her school are “business formal” attire. After her test-drive, she didn’t even think black slacks and a blouse were dressy enough.

KEEP IT UPDATED:

My daughter updates her resume with new job, internship and club information while it happens. Little by little, the minor jobs she had in high school (birthday party princess, camp counselor…) have come off her resume and her resume now makes her sound both professional and involved on campus.

PROFESSIONAL HELP:

Many colleges offer a shorter, perhaps 1-credit course on putting together a resume and getting through the interview process. Your student might need to brush up on making eye contact, how to talk about their own strengths and weaknesses, hand shaking, etc. I took a class like this in college, and we even gave each other mock interviews on video so we could learn from watching ourselves on screen.

TEACH PROPER FOLLOW UP:

OK, here it comes – the THANK YOU NOTE! Students should follow up an interview with an honest-to-goodness, hand-written thank you note on real paper – the same day as the interview. I helped my daughter’s friend get an internship interview in high school, and as we left I told him this in the car. He looked very skeptical, and asked if it could be an email. I said, “You can send an email, but you STILL need to send a hand-written thank you note, and if you don’t believe me, ask your dad.” This is proper interview etiquette, I’m not alone in this. An email is great for someone you had a nice conversation with at a career fair, however. That’s why you hold on to business cards. When my daughter was in high school she emailed reps she liked after college fairs and tours as well.

I’m not an expert on this stuff. You can probably Google advice from Forbes. But we’re living through it, and this is the advice I have to share. Good luck!

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Ultimate College Packing List

packinglistfeaturedAfter scouring the internet (mostly Pinterest) and getting advice from college freshmen boys and girls as well as a recent college GRAD, I present my Ultimate College Packing List!

Please keep in mind, tastes on food certainly differ, and boys and girls don’t need all of the same items (e.g. tampons!), but this is a robust list that will help you get ‘er done!

Parents, maybe shopping can take your mind off the whole LEAVING part…

[Printable Version-PDF]

Bed

  • Bed Sheets (usually Twin XL for dorm beds)
  • Blankets/Comforter
  • Mattress Pad
  • Pillows (at least one extra for when people crash at your pad)
  • Pillowcases
  • Sleeping Bag
  • legraisersUnder Bed Storage – check these out: bed leg raisers with USB and outlet chargers built right in! Helps make more room for storage while letting you charge your gear on or under your bed. Target has them too.

Desk

  • Agenda/Calendar – at the very least a digital one, but writing helps to remember!
  • Desk Lamp
  • Paper Clips
  • Pens & Pencils
  • Post-It Notes
  • Postage Stamps and Envelopes
  • Rubber Bands
  • Ruler
  • A small safe or lockbox (for meds, money, laptop, video games, ipod…)
  • Scissors
  • Staple Remover
  • Stapler & Staples
  • Three-hole punch
  • Wastebasket
  • White-out
  • A package of simple, professional Thank You notes

Tech Related

  • Cell Phone & Charger
  • Computer with software, iPad
  • Cables, Chargers, Power Strip, Extension Cords, etc.
  • DVDs
  • CLIPFANFan (clip on?)
  • Flash Drive
  • Flashlight, batteries
  • Google Drive Account
  • Headphones
  • Keyboard
  • Light Bulbs (rarely)
  • Mouse
  • MP3 Player
  • Printer with ink and paper
  • Surge Protector
  • Speakers
  • TV
  • Video Game console
  • Some students take a small lock box or a locking cable for their tech. If your roommate fails to lock the room, or someone breaks in, or you make new friends who are a little sketchy – you can lock up valuables while keeping them in your room.

Room

  • Alarm Clock (be careful if you rely on your phone, because you may be up late and the battery will die!)
  • Command Hooks
  • Duct Tape
  • Games
  • Earplugs, Eyemask
  • Instrument & accessories, if you play one
  • Posters / Photos
  • Safety Pins
  • Safety Whistle
  • Sewing Kit
  • Sleep Mask
  • Sports Equip.
  • Sunglasses
  • Umbrella

Classroom

  • Backpack
  • Calculator / Graphing Calculator
  • Dividers
  • Erasers
  • Row of color office foldersFolders, Binders
  • Highlighters
  • Index cards
  • Notebooks, Notepaper, Graph paper
  • Textbooks
  • Large schools may require you to buy a clicker for students to answer questions and take attendance in large lecture halls

Clothing

  • Belts
  • Dress Clothes
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Jackets (coats, rain jacket, fleece)
  • Jeans
  • Jewelry
  • pjsPajamas
  • Pants
  • Purses
  • Scarves
  • Shoes, Boots, Flip Flops
  • Socks, stockings, tights
  • Shorts
  • Skirts
  • Sweaters, Sweatshirts
  • Swimsuit
  • Underwear, bras
  • Watch
  • Workout Clothes

Laundry

  • App (some school have an app to download to track when your laundry is ready for the dryer. If your school doesn’t have one, set an alarm on your phone for :45 minutes.)
love these for better smells!

love these for better smells!

  • Detergent + yummy scented beads
  • Collapsable drying rack or this great IKEA tool
  • Fabric Softener, if you use it
  • Hamper
  • Hangers
  • Iron & Pad (Ha! Yah right)
  • Quarters, if the machines need them
  • Stain Remover
  • My daughter has a separate, zip-up lingerie bag so favorite bras or bikini-top strings don’t get caught on the washer drum.

Food

Of course everyone has their own favorites, but here are some staples for many college students:

  • Bagels, Bread
  • Cereal
  • Chocolate Chips
  • Coffee, Tea
  • Condiments
  • Crackers
  • Fruit
  • Granola bars
  • Ketchup
  • Mints
  • cookiebnutterNut Butter & Jelly
  • Pasta
  • Pepper
  • Popcorn
  • Salt
  • Soup
  • Veggies

Kitchen Supplies

  • Bowls
  • Can/Bottle Opener
  • Chip Clips
  • Coffee Maker
  • Cups
  • Microwave
  • Microwavable mug/plate
  • Minifridge
  • Paper Towels
  • scizzaPizza Cutter
  • Plates
  • Plastic food containers
  • Sponges
  • Sports Bottles
  • Towels
  • Utensils
  • Ziplock bags

Bathroom

  • towelsBath Towels & Mat
  • Bathrobe
  • Bobby Pins
  • Contact Lens gear
  • Cosmetics
  • Cotton Balls, Q-Tips, Tissues
  • Deodorant
  • Eye Glasses
  • Face wash
  • Feminine Care
  • Hairbrush / comb
  • Hairspray / products
  • Hair Appliances: Hair Dryer, Curling Iron, Flat Iron, etc.
  • Hand Lotion
  • Lip Balm with SPF (boys too!)
  • Mirror
  • Nail Clippers, file, nail polish, remover
  • Razor, shave gel
  • Shampoo / Conditioner
  • Shower Caddy
  • Shower flip flops
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Toiletry Kit
  • Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Mouthwash, Floss
  • Tweezers
  • Washcloths
  • My daughter’s suite had a shower that had a plastic liner already hung for them, but they added a pretty shower curtain. The school provided toilet paper.

Medicinal

  • Acne wash, cream
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Band-Aids
  • Birth Control, Condoms
  • Bug Repellent
  • Cough Drops
  • Decongestant
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hot / Cold Packs
  • Pain Reliever
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Thermometer (digital)

Important Docs

  • Bank Info, Checks, Cash Card (You might want to see which bank has an ATM on campus before opening your account)
  • Car Registration (if driving on campus)
  • Drivers License
  • Financial Aid Forms
  • Medical Insurance Card
  • Renters Insurance – I called my insurance and they made it sound like a chore to search my policy about dorm rooms specifically, but once they did we found out exactly what was covered for a student on my plan in a dorm room! Very helpful.
  • Resumes – printed on nice paper & saved digitally. [Learn more here.]
  • Social Security Card
  • Student ID, holder
  • Do you get extra time for test taking? Bring a copy of the paperwork supporting your need.

For athletes

  • sm_grid_foam_matrix1Compression socks
  • Foam Roller
  • GPS watch/tool & charger
  • Gym Bag
  • Nuun and a few sports bottles to stay hydrated
  • Specialty Equipment
  • Yoga Mat and carrier

[Printable Version-PDF]

If you have something to add to my list, please leave a comment and let me know! I’ll keep this updated.

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