Friday, December 30, 2011

how do you measure a year?

2011 was a year of lots of big moments.  I pushed myself and stuck to my instincts when things became trying.  I served on my sorority's executive council as the Vice President of New Member Education (aka: Pledge Mom) and worked with two fabulous pledge classes.  I spent spring break on a cruise with my family and closest friends.  I saw the Hokies beat Duke in basketball and lose to Clemson in football...twice.  I spent the summer working with incoming Hokies and learned to love my school more than I thought possible.  I turned 21, received my class ring, watched my brother graduate high school and then welcomed him to Blacksburg.  I decided to change my career path from business marketing to apply to grad schools for higher education & student affairs.  At the end of the day, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is my year at a glimpse with lyrics from "Seasons of Love" from RENT.  Happy New Years' to you & yours.  Time to ring in my graduation year...
525,600 minutes--how do you measure a year in the life?
New Years' 2011 in Baltimore

Party in the City Where the Heat is On: Orange Bowl

Spring Break Hokie Cruise with Sigma Kappa
Pledge Mom with my new pledge class
in daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee?
in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?
Gatlinburg, TN Sisterhood Retreat
how do you measure the life of a woman or a man?
Front row at College Gameday with Dad..WE BEAT DUKE

Spent the best summer of my life with these beautiful people

The best addition to 2011 for me?  This lady right here.
it's time now to sing out, though the story never ends
The New River

I have the BEST coworkers/bosses a girl could ask for

Like mother, like daughter
Turning 21 was never this good

The Big Event: Tech's largest community service event
My Junior Ring Dance.  Since my date wasn't a gentleman, the Hokie Bird filled in!
Ring Banquet
let's celebrate, remember a year in the life of friends
Tyler graduated!
Catching up with old friends
remember the love
Visiting my other half in Radford

Fathers' Day with Dad
Last Year as a Hokie Camp Counselor
you know that life is a gift from up above
With Frank Beamer at the Hokie Hi Picnic

Took the family hiking at the Cascades
share love, give love, spread love
SK raised nearly $8000 for Alzheimers Disease Research

Blacksburg sky after beating Miami

My dates to Senior Crush Party
Hiking McAffee's Knob
measure your life in love
Sigma Kappa Semis

Thanksgiving in Northern VA

Celebrating beating UVA..again

Winter's Eve on South Main with the best friends in the world
seasons of love
In Charlotte for the ACC Championship game

Despite the loss, still smiling
Ending the semester as Pledge Mom with the wonderful Fall '11 Pledge Class
Merry Christmas!
measure your life in love

Thursday, December 22, 2011

home for the holidays

I am very much enjoying being home for winter break.  It is refreshing to spend some much needed downtime at home with the family.  While it is an adjustment being home after the craziness of the semester, it is exactly what I needed to recuperate.  Besides the fall time, the few weeks before Christmas & New Years' are my favorite of the year.  Here's why:

at home


home is where the heart is

"one day"

I have continued my serial reading spree throughout my first week of winter break.  One Day by David Nicholls was not the lovey-dovey cliche that I thought it would be, for which I was actually very grateful.  It was a gripping and frustrating novel about a romance between two best friends from college.  There were so many times where I just wanted to shake the main characters and make them spit out their undying love for the other.  While this was not at all what I expected from the book, I very much enjoyed the saga of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew.  Below are a few quotes from various parts of the book:

"That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me.  But, it is the same with any life.  Imagine one selected day struck out of it and think how different its course would have been.  Pause, you who read this, and think for a long moment of the long chain iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on that memorable day.  Charles Dickens, Great Expectations"

"Sometimes you are aware when your great moments are happening, and sometimes they rise from the past.  Perhaps it's the same with people.  James Salter, Burning the Days"

" 'Live each day as if it's your last,' that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that?  What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy?  It just wasn't practical.  Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference.  Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you.  Go out there with your passion...and work hard at...something.  Change lives through art maybe.  Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well.  Experience new things.  Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

to the editor..

 I promise myself constantly that I will not dwell on negative energy or things outside of my control.  I have debated on whether to respond to The Daily Press after a very immature (best descriptor I can think to use..) writer published an article referring to Virginia Tech as a "snake bitten" campus among other insults in the wake of our recent loss.  Ultimately, I did not want to contribute to the frenzy of angry e-mails and hate mail the newspaper received.  There's not a thing that any of us can do to retract the sting of Tamara Dietrich's words.  But after attending the memorial service for Officer Deriek Crouse yesterday with some of my closest friends on campus, I feel compelled to help his family in any way possible.  Individually, there's only so much we can each do.  Together, we've raised nearly $85,000 for our fallen hero and the beautiful family he left behind.  In less than a week, I might add.

So, I decided to direct a message to those "in charge" at The Daily Press that was more constructive rather than destructive.  If the media cared half as much about the positive acts of humanity as they do of the tortuous violent crimes that pollute the earth, what do you think our world would look like?  I sent the following message to as many people associated with The Daily Press as I could find contact information.  I hope that these individuals have the heart to respond.  Maybe they can make right their wrongdoing and mend the cuts that their words tore in our mourning hearts.  If anyone has additional contacts that I could write, please let me know: 

To Whom It May Concern at The Daily Press:

I have lived my entire life in Smithfield, VA with my family, and the Daily Press has been a constant in our household for as long as I can remember.  Another tradition that has seen me grow into adulthood is that of Virginia Tech and being a "Hokie".  I'm sure that you have heard many responses from hurt and offended Hokies following the article published last week regarding Thursday's tragedy.  I hope that you will read this e-mail in entirety, as my words are not of anger but of hope and forgiveness.

I truly appreciate the sense of security and knowledge that journalism brings us, and I think it is an integral branch of our society.  I know that unfortunately (a drastic understatement) my university will be forever associated with the tragic events of April 16, 2007, and any other act of crime on campus will make instant headlines.  It saddens me to the core that so many can recognize these acts of violence and give a sensationalist memorial to the troubled souls who caused such destruction.  What I wish I could share with the public involves something much more powerful than anger, hatred, violence, negativity, and despair.  Virginia Tech does so much for the community, and the world, and for that I am truly proud.  To name a few:
  • Largest collegiate Relay for Life in the world.  Raised over $1,000,000 for the American Cancer society for the past few years
  • Second largest Big Event in the nation.  This is a day of free community service to the area surrounding our campus, merely to say "Thank you" (imagine if we had something like that in Newport News or Portsmouth!).
  • Nationally recognized Panhellenic Greek Council
  • Internationally recognized architects on their creation of Lumenhaus (a house that generates energy through solar power)
  • A damn good football team and even better fans
  • SO many other things that I can't even name off the top of my head
Basically, I want you and your team to understand how the words printed by your establishment deeply hurt the feelings of these people who are doing such wonderful things in the world.  Those words, no matter how they were intended to sound, will stick with the hurting hearts of our community.  No one deserves a tragedy, and no one deserves the bitter remarks incurred by Tamara Dietrich.

One line that stuck with me from Officer Deriek Crouse's memorial service yesterday went along the lines of: "Our university's motto Ut Prosim, means 'that I may serve.'  Deriek truly knew what it meant to serve—to give a part of himself."  That is precisely what this university is based upon, and to prove my point far more than words could ever convey, I would like you to look at the memorial fund site that was created BY STUDENTS in the hours after Crouse's murder.  We have raised almost $100,000 in less than a week for his family, a beautiful wife and five sons, whom I saw hurting and grieving so very much yesterday at the service.  Here is the link:

The reason I am writing is because I, as well as the rest of Hokie Nation, would greatly appreciate if you would cover this topic in your writing.  Please help us spread the word to areas besides Blacksburg, VA to help with a wonderful cause.  I personally believe it fit for the Daily Press to make a donation to our efforts to amend the comments degrading our "snake-bitten" campus.  We all make mistakes, misjudge how our words affect others, and ultimately hurt peoples' feelings.  To rescind the article is one thing, a politically correct gesture.  To apologize and make the situation right is ultimately divine.

Thank you for your time.  I hope to hear from you.


Carly Edwards
Virginia Tech Class of 2012
Marketing Management Major
Leadership and Social Change Minor

P.S.  Tomorrow, a blog post that I wrote on Thursday will be featured on the Suffolk Newsherald website.  The post depicts my emotions as a Tech student who was very personally shaken by the events in 2007, and my perspective on the recent occurrences.  If you would like to read my post, here is the link: I am a firm believer in the art of writing and the power we gain by further understanding other people.

That is all that I can think to say on this matter.  I hope that this helps put things into perspective for all of us.  The past week has been integral in confirming many beliefs I hold on the world and the people in it.  I wish only for us all to come together and help each other.  Overcome the violence with hearts filled with hope, love, and resilience.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

words worth reading

With the end of the semester and exam week upon us, I have relieved stress by giving myself extra time doing something I love--read.  Over the past week I've finished a couple of books (The Hunger Games was amazing).  One of my new favorite books and "go-to feel good" books is The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  It's a memoir about a year that she dedicated to setting goals to improve, tracking progress of, and consciously striving for happiness.  

"There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy." -Robert Louis Stevenson

I have wrestled with the meaning of true happiness over the past year, as I have dealt with significant life changes and decisions.  I have recently come to realize that there is no such thing as a projected, perfect life.  There aren't blueprints that I'm supposed to follow in my walk of life.  So often I think that our society emphasizes that success is defined by obtaining a good education, landing a well-paying job, marrying your soulmate, starting a family, etc.  While these are all wonderful pursuits, all of which I intend on obtaining, I think that there needs to be more of an emphasis on personal happiness in the world, especially for young adults.  We are faced with so many pressures, and there is an increasing frequency of depression in young adults.  In order to completely heal from such a disease, one must reprogram the way one interprets information and views external circumstances.  That has been a big focus in my life lately.  This book reaffirmed many of my existing beliefs, and it encouraged me to continue to pursue the things I love most.

In her writing, Rubin identifies a set of "commandments" and "secrets to adulthood" to help keep her on track.  Some of the most powerful mantras include "act the way I want to feel," "identify the problem," "what you do every day matters more that what you do once in a while," "if you're not failing, you're not trying hard enough," and "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."  These small, simple reminders help to reframe your thoughts in the ongoing stress of everyday life.  Multiple reviews of this memoir note that after reading about Rubin's experiences, you'll want to start your own happiness project.  Indeed, I did.  I am not as eloquent or well versed as Rubin, but I've attempted to compile a few heuristic phrases to refocus my thoughts:

  • Be cheerful
  • Trust the process
  • Live what you love
  • Be kind
  • Enjoy the ride
  • Give love
  • Live in the moment
  • Be the change
  • To be continued....

These are just a few of my guiding rules to happiness.  With the new year approaching, I fully intend on developing a plan of measurable resolutions so that I can conscientiously track my thoughts and actions.

Rubin's book is full of inspirational anecdotes and quotes, and I've shared some of my favorites below:

To be happy, I need to think about feeling good, feeling bad and feeling right..."Feeling right..." was the feeling that I'm living the life I'm supposed to lead...It's about living the life that's right for you--in occupation, location, marital status, and so on.  It's also about virtue: doing your duty, living up to the expectations you set for yourself.

"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth.  We are happy when we are growing." -William Butler Yeats

The challenge, therefore, is to take pleasure in the "atmosphere of growth," in the gradual progress made toward a goal, in the present...Enjoy now.  If I can enjoy the present, I don't need to count on the happiness that is (or isn't) waiting for me in the future.

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy.  One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.

Make footprints: "I was here."  Choose not to take things personally.  Be loving and love will find you.  Soak it in.  What would I do if I weren't scared?  If you can't get out of it, get into it.  Give without limits, give without expectations.  React to the situation.  If you're not now here, you're nowhere.

Gratitude brings freedom from envy.

"The least strained and most natural ways of the soul are the most beautiful; the best occupations are the least forced." -Michel de Montaigne  (yes! abandon agency jobs in a business/marketing/advertising firm to pursue the undying desire to help others.  go to school for higher education and student affairs.  that is where you belong!)

The things that go wrong often make the best memories.

Happiness doesn't always make you feel happy.  Activities that contribute to long-term happiness don't always make me feel good in the short term; in fact they're sometimes downright unpleasant. (taking standardized tests, teaching yourself to like exercise/running, forgiveness of wrongdoing...all are difficult and sometimes burdensome but contribute to overall happiness long-term)

"Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness." -Tolstoy

"The days are long, but the years are short," reminded me to stay in the moment, to appreciate the seasons, and to revel in this time of life.

This book will always be on my bookshelf to reference whenever I need a reminder of the important way to think of things.  Next to finish reading: Gladwell's The Tipping Point and Godin's Linchpin.  Happy reading!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

the love of a family

I have struggled all day with how to articulate how I feel in light of the events that occurred on the Virginia Tech campus early this afternoon.  I have spent the day with my roommate and close friends; offering support to each other at such an unsure time.

I recognize that terrible things happen in the world, and we will never be able to escape them.  It is especially painful for our university to be the victim of such senseless violence after the devastation in 2007.  I am saddened by the fact that so many are quick to judge the circumstances because of the past.  I am disappointed that people make assumptions without grounds to base their judgement.  These rash conclusions deepen the hurt in our hearts from years ago.  When it comes down to it, there is violence everywhere.  But there is also love.  At the end of today, a brave man lost his life, and that should be the thing on everyone's minds.
A VTPD Officer lost his life today while on the job.  This is the community that he represented, and to say anything less of it is not only disrespectful but also ignorant.  No one ever deserves hate or violence or strife.  We are not a campus of violence.  We are NOT a community of criminals.  We are 27,000 members of one of the most tight-knit families in the nation.  My heart breaks from the events of today, and my prayers go to the officer's family.  Senseless acts happen in the world, but to overcome them we must stand together.  This university has made me the person I am today, and I will defend it the rest of my life.  I stand here firm in my belief that being a Hokie is the greatest privilege in the world.

I am so grateful for the security system we now have in place here.  I am glad that I felt informed throughout the day.  I am eternally thankful for the brave men and women who give their time and their lives to protect us.  The police force on campus and in the surrounding area was truly a blessing, and it warms my heart to see people coming together out of love and support.  To me, that is the Hokie community.  That is Virginia Tech.  Terrible events can happen anywhere.  Never before have I seen such dedication to protecting and defending a community.  Some people will continue to pass callous judgement about the school and question my own decision to reside in Blacksburg.  Some will try to deter others from attending or visiting the university.  I am so sad for these individuals because they will not ever know the love, support, pride, duty, community, and brotherhood that this school truly represents and instills in its members.

Let us not forget those affected by the tragedy of 2007.  I send my deepest sympathies.  I cannot imagine how these news reports and phone calls and comments make you feel.  I think of you always and carry you in my heart.

In remembrance of the Hokies lost, both today and in the years past; we continue in your honor.

"find a healing for the pain.  see the sun beyond the rain.  we've got the strength to endure until we feel more secure.  in a world full of hate, we've got to become something great.  oh, god send your mercy this way.  we're all hokies today."  we're all hokies today by season

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

invent the future

Last night, one of my favorite professors, John Boyer, hosted a Skype session with Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi in his 3,000 student World Regions class. I was lucky enough to take this class as a second-semester freshman in 2009. While Boyer's compelling antics remain unchanged, it has been wonderful to see his innovative approach to teaching develop over the years.

World Regions was one of my favorite classes at Virginia Tech because it allowed me to really, truly learn the information. The curriculum involved mini quizzes throughout the semester and two exams while also providing an opportunity for class credit through attending foreign movie screenings. The classes were so engaging that hardly anyone ever skips. I felt so knowledgeable about current events when I was in this class--something that is hard to obtain when you live in the bubble that is Blacksburg, Virginia for 9 months out of the year. Boyer approached the course creatively and enthusiastically. The amount of effort he dedicated to creating valuable resources made the class that much more meaningful. The Plaid Avenger, Boyer's online comic book persona, brings life and a sense of fun to learning about world issues.

Last year, I had the opportunity to study Boyer's Plaid Avenger franchise in my Integrated Marketing Communications class. For a group project, I helped develop a marketing plan for expanding his personal brands to other schools and ultimately other countries. At the end of the semester, a friend and I went to lunch with Boyer and his Plaid Avenger team (graphic designer, web designer, assistant) to discuss revamping his website with some of our ideas from the project. It was truly an awesome learning experience to be able to see behind-the-scenes of such an innovative educational powerhouse on our campus.

Recently, Boyer has used social media networks as a way to connect with influential leaders and artists. Last semester, he sent a YouTube video to entrepreneur and wine enthusiast, Gary Vaynerchuk. Vaynerchuk came to Burruss Hall here on campus and gave an awesome speech relating to his book The Thank You Economy. One of the premises of the book is taking the time to get to know people and personalize your interactions with them. You'll go far with this mindset in both the professional and personal world.

After sending a YouTube video to Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez this fall, Boyer was able to secure a visit from the father-son duo to campus. They visited to show a screening of their new movie The Way and provide a brief question-answer period.

I think that the Skype session last night further reinforces the movement towards a new phase of education. The technology we have today allows for faster communication with more people all over the world. Boyer has been doing this for quite some time now with his online Podcasts--free mini lectures on current events. Now he is expanding this method of teaching by including other perspectives from all over the world. I am so excited to see where this goes from here. Maybe I will have to sit in on some of his classes during my last semester in college in the spring.

Check out the video of the Skype session from last night. This is also a great article about the night.

One of my favorite parts of the discussion with the Burmese democracy leader? Her response when asked by a student "How do you stay so focused and motivated to achieve your goals?":

"I was brought up to think that duty was one of the most important things in life. Perhaps this is out of fashion now…perhaps people do not think any longer that duty is important and that really the most important thing is to enjoy yourselves….Throughout the years when I have had to face many difficulties, I was upheld by this conviction that nothing was more important in my life than commitment to duty…You could try, try thinking of duty as the most important thing in your life. I think you will find that it opens up a lot of vistas for you that you never realized before existed. It’s not a narrowing process, it’s in fact an opening up process."

-Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese democracy leader and Nobel Peace Prize Winner