Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What Happens When You Get Your Golden Ticket

I feel like I'm in Willy Wonka. 


What's that, you say???

I'm about the reveal to you one of my best-kept secrets...The Maker's Mark Ambassador Program. 

For all of my fellow bourbon lovers, this program is THE. JAM. 
✅You get your name on a barrel (YES). 
✅You get a CHRISTMAS PRESENT ever year (YES)
✅You get a chance to BUY bottles from your barrel when it's time (YES). 
✅The best part?? IT'S FREE TO SIGN UP (HECK YES!) 

After about 7 years, my barrel was finally ready to be consumed. 

As part of my month-long 30th birthday celebrations, I invited my family to come along for this momentous occasion as we took the long  trip to Loretto, Kentucky. 

You arrive to this beautiful, country-side location with your golden ticket in tow, and the booze-friendly Makers Mark folks roll out the red carpet for you. 

Upon arrival you receive: 

1. One free ticket to the behind-the-scenes tour. This includes dipping your hand (sanitary, I know) into the vat of mash... part of the distilling process. (Editor's note: tastes like grits).

2. Part of your tour also includes TASTING. You will taste the "WHITE DOG" or as we call it in the South, White Lightning. AKA Moonshine, Maker's, Maker's 46, Makers Cask Strenght and the Private Select. Mmmm Good. 

3. You get to purchase bottles from your barrel. WITH YOUR NAME ON IT.
4. You get to DIP SAID BOTTLES in the famed Maker's Mark red wax. Don't worry. They give you protective gear (don't drop your phone in the wax).


In short. Sign up. Duh. And I'll be happy to make the trek with you to pick up your bottles in 7 years! 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sorry NOT Sorry... But Really.

Photo Cred: Vevo
I'd like you to pause reading this, and go and do a quick search in your inbox.

I want you to search your “MAIL / SPAM / TRASH / SENT” folders.

Then type in the search bar: SORRY.

Click Search.

I’m going to take a guess that is going to take a few seconds to load all of the emails with the word “sorry.”

Ignore those few pieces of junk mail scattered into your list of mail – and I’m going to guess, that like me, the results were shocking… and almost embarrassing.

In my personal search, I found 99 out of the 100 emails that fit on my screen that contained the word “Sorry” were from WOMEN.

I found that most of these emails, had the phrases “Sorry for the delay”, or “I’m sorry to miss your message” or “Sorry – I was out of the office.”

Let that sink in.

Why are you sorry that you took your well-earned vacation time? Why are you sorry that you were in a scheduled meeting and missed a phone call? Why are we SORRY for things that we really shouldn’t be apologizing for?

And WHY are women the ones that feel the need to say sorry?

I feel that this video really hits home.

So, Shonda Rhymes – famed TV creator – had the Year of Yes - where she was intentional about saying YES to things. 

I challenge you to make this the Year (or Month or Week!) of NOT BEING SORRY. 

Be apologetic if you step on someone’s foot. Say excuse me if you run into someone on the train. But STOP SAYING SORRY for things that are part of life. 

What were your findings? Do you catch yourself saying SORRY throughout the day?

Monday, May 15, 2017

An Open Letter to 2017 College Graduates

Dear 2017 College Graduates- 

Congrats. You did it. 

You celebrated all of your successes with your loved ones. You took many-a-photo. You laughed. You cried. You said goodbye. You drowned your sorrows in one last kegger. 

Then... Oooph. You're DONE. 

I remember the Monday after graduating from college like it was yesterday (Newsflash: It wasn't). 

I woke up in my childhood bed. In my parents house. Jobless. Alone. Slightly depressed.

Me. On Graduation Day. Sad. 

But I had that diploma (or a fake piece of paper rolled up until the actual one came in the mail).

That first day in reality is a tough one. I feel you.

And as clique as it may be, one quote from a Brad Paisley song has always stuck out to me about this very time: 

Have no fear, these are nowhere near the best years of your life.

You may feel like the best years are gone.  Believe me. I get it. You went from being surrounded by your best friends. Going to class. Hanging out all day. Drinking without fear of hangovers (ahhh, the good ol’ days). Living in a bubble of people that are just like you.

Oh, 22-year-old self. 
So… to make your entree into the “real world” a bit easier, I’ve put together a few things that I wish I knew once I left that glorious land of Day-Drinking Football Games Frat Parties Academia: 

1.     TRAVEL. NOW. There is absolutely no better time to travel then right now. You don’t own a home. You aren’t married. You probably don’t have a dog yet. Go out there and do something crazy. Because guess what. Once you are locked into that 9-5, you’ll might have money to spend on a trip but no time to take it. So bootstrap and go see the world for a week or 12.

2.    THANK THE PEOPLE THAT GOT YOUR THROUGH (and / or PAID for) COLLEGE. Now that you are “done” with college, it’s your time to step back and think about everyone that helped you along the way. Did your parents help pay for college? Write them a letter and take them to dinner. Did an academic advisor really help steer you in the right direction and help you graduate on time? Send him/her a thank you note. Did your friend stay up all night helping you study for a Spelling and Grammar test that took you 7 times to pass? Send them a cookie cake! You couldn’t have done this by yourself. So don’t be a jerk.  Thank those people!

3.     SAVE YOUR MONEY. Ok this may be a counter point to No. 1 – but it’s not. Once you start making money in your “real job” it’s easy to spend that money. Quickly. Go ahead and put a plan in place to have a certain percentage of your paycheck AUTOMATICALLY go to your savings. That way you don’t. even. miss. it. Also,  you are 22. Retirement? That’s for old people. WRONG. Start saving for retirement NOW. The earlier you start, the better you will be. I’m no financial expert – and I know bottle service and designer jeans sound like a better way to spend that money now, but you’ll thank me when you’re older. Promise. (I literally sound like my mother). 

4.     DON’T QUIT LEARNING! Just because you graduated, it doesn’t mean that your learning is over. Take another language class. Take a hand-lettering class (HEY YO SKILL POP!) Watch webinars each month. There is always room to continue to learn and grow - personally and professionally. 

5.     GO BACK (and GIVE BACK) AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. Don't be a stranger now that you graduated. Be sure to plan trips to get back to campus throughout the year, if possible. Keep in touch with those professors that really impacted you - because you never know what can come of it. I was invited back to speak to one of my professor's classes, and ended up hiring one of the students for a job after meeting him at the class. Also - most alumni associations have "young alum" prices - meaning for a small donation (aka we know you are not rich yet), you can take part in a lot of alumni benefits. DO IT. 

6.     DON’T FEEL PRESSURE TO FIND YOU DREAM CAREER RIGHT NOW. That is in ALL CAPS because I'm jumping up and down and screaming at you right now. I'm going to let you in on a little secret. No one REALLY knows what they are doing. Some are just better at faking it than others. Don't feel that immense pressure to "get your dream job" right out of college. If you did, congrats. But I'm going to guess in a few years, your dream is going to change, and that is ok too. I wanted to work in sports so badly I took a job that paid $100 / week (!!!!) while working insane hours. Although it didn't turn out to be my dream job, it did help me build a lot of skills and a network of awesome people. Don't turn down an opportunity just because it isn't "what you expected."

7.     PLUG IN WITH YOUR ALUMNI NETWORK RIGHT AWAY. As noted above, there is something special about connecting with people that went to your alma mater. I'd work twice as hard to help a UNC grad than anyone else (Go Heels). But really -- that is a natural network that you have at your disposal. See when the next meet-up is in your city and GO. If you're an introvert -- try emailing an alum first to introduce yourself. 

8.     BUILD A COMMITTEE OF STRONG PEOPLE AROUND YOU. It's easy to feel "lost" in the real world. Everyone seems to have it all together. Accept a) that's a lie and b) there is some work involved. Figure out the type of people you want around you and start to seek them out. Do you want a mentor? (see #7). Do you want people that enjoy running? Seek out a run club. It's harder to make friends when you aren't living on the same floor of the dorm, yes, but there are so many other opportunities waiting for you! 

9.   BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PUT ON SOCIAL MEDIA. I hate that this is even a thing. Parents couldn't even get a Facebook account when I was graduating. Just remember that everything that you put online can and will come back to haunt you. Go ahead and do a Google Search of yourself. Be warned. 

10. INVEST IN PROFESSIONAL CLOTHES. Gone are the days that you could stumble out of bed in Nike shorts and an oversized sorority tank. It's time to start putting some effort into your look. Ladies. A few pieces of advice: I don't care how "casual" your office is: Please cover yourselves. No cleavage. No flip flops. No short skirts. NO. Men: Invest in an iron / steamer / go to the dry cleaner. You may still be stumbling out of bed, but at least TRY.  

11. ACCEPT THE FACT YOU DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING. This will make your life easier in and out of the office. No one likes a know-it-all -- personally or professionally. Be humble, LISTEN and observe more than you speak and seek out the advice of people that have experience. "Millennial" is the new four letter word, so prove yourself as someone who works hard, has great ideas and doesn't wine about not having a ping-pong table in their office (I'm sure you'll survive). 



Now, class of 2017. We are counting on you! Go out into that great big world, thank your mom and dad, don't be jerks -- and change the world. 

Or at least change your outfit. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Hump Day Happenings: 6.8.16

Happy things around the web to get you through that middle day of the week!

Ain't Yo' Mama's Campfire:  This looks like something I'm doing this weekend. Tonight. 

Give it Some Thought: Why exercise is a higher priority than my career. 

Can't Help Myself. I'm a sucker for a good party shot

Election 2016. Well, I know who I'm voting for. 

Snacks on Snacks on Snacks. My current snack obsession. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Very Charlotte Weekend

I travel for a living. 

I trek all across this great country throughout the year racking up frequent flier miles, seeing the sites, tasting the food and snapping instagram pics along the way. And mostly on weekends. 

So, when I get to be home for a weekend, I relish in it. 

This weekend, while everyone was at the beach, or partaking in some fabulous vacation, I chose (slash had to work) to stay here in the great city of Charlotte. 

So, what did I do? 

I took advantage of the lack of folks / bounty of OpenTable reservations and tried out some hotspots. 

Comida: The land of small tacos and Margarita Snocones. Yes, please. 

Kindred. Ok, not QUITE Charlotte (Davidson), but close enough. This is a definite MUST TRY. Small plates, great craft cocktails and a cheese tray to die for. 

CO. This has become one of my new go-to's since it's right in my neighborhood. Located at Park Road Shopping Center, this Pan-Asian restaurant combines DELICIOUS pho with reasonable prices. And they are SUPER accommodating to gluten allergies. Pho ga & summer rolls are my favorite. 

Foxcroft Wine Co. Combine a great patio with string lights, super knowledgable staff and bounties of wine, and you get the new(ish) location of Foxcroft Wine Co., off East Blvd. Harley was in search of a wine from Burgundy (aren't we bougie) and the staff came armed with some great recs. 

I invested in some learning time. 
Skillpop: I took a Skillpop class to learn about the basics of podcasting (hint: stay tuned!). If you haven't taken a Skillpop class, it's a must. Haley and team put together AFFORDABLE classes to help you learn how to do anything from Handlettering to public speaking. 

Forest Hill Church. I love this church. I've been going here since I moved to Charlotte in 2009, and am consistently blown away by the generosity, realness and truth that is in this church. Led by David Chadwick (former UNC basketball player. Whoop), it's truly a special community to be part of! 

                                                         Photo Cred: Forest Hill Church

I got outside. 
Spent some quality time in my little garden. 

Freedom Park. Headed to the park for a jaunt around the pond. There was literally 10 people in the park. 

Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. Went to the Farmers Market to get $10 bouquets of flowers (it's a STEAL) and some fresh, local produce. 

The Dog Photog. Yes, yes. I am that person who does not have children yet, but gets photos taken of her dog. This weekend, the Dog Photog had a special session that they took photos of your dog at Atherton Market with peanut butter on their nose. Let's just say the ol' Tedster was less than thrilled. But cute photos nonetheless! 

And yes, I went to Charlotte Motor Speedway. 
But no, I didn't funnel any Bud Heavy

Granted, I work in NASCAR, it's one of the biggest weekends of the year for NASCAR in Charlotte. If you have never been to a race, you should definitely check it out when the series comes back in October (and the race is shorter). 

How did you spend your holiday weekend?