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Hi, it’s Christina again!  Just to remind you, I’m a grad student in the CUNY School of Professional Studies Online Business Management Program and I’m grateful that with this education I will have the background, knowledge, and skills I need to pursue my life’s passions.

What’s yours?

Very interesting…go for it!

Now in my last article “No New Business:  Doing You” I wrote about focusing on yourself first.  My hope is that you received that message in the spirit that it was given.

Giving back (#givingtuesday) is one of the most meaningful things you can do with your life. There’s nothing like it.  And time and time again, it has been proven that regardless of one’s level of success, wealth, or fame, most people just don’t feel complete and satisfied until they participate in giving back.

But again…how do you get there?  To the place where you are giving AND you feel full?  To the place where you are so filled with love, joy, and happiness, that you can’t do anything but share?

Well, I’m no Buddha, but I want to remind you all to PERSIST, PUSH, and PERSEVERE.

A lot of us are working really hard for jobs, pushing important family, health, finances, and dreams to the side.  I’m here to say “push back!”  I learned the hard way, in my career, that unless you are running your own company, you are quite DISpensable.  Which I say to remind you to put your career in perspective when you compare it against all the other reasons why you were put here on this earth.  Respect and honor the job that allows you to provide—but make sure you are providing for something other than just getting to work the next day.  Get it?

I charge you to take the same tenacity or fever you put towards school and work and turn it upon yourself, your families, your health, your finances, and your dreams.  Live outside the 9 to 5.  Live a fulfilled life, not a settled for one.

In fact, there are some great productivity tools that can really help you piece together the many elements of your life.  Try a tool like Trello for organizing your life and getting things done.  And don’t forget, keeping a calendar can make a huge difference, too!!

Christina is passionate about teaching and helping others, social justice, and business ownership. She has a BA in English from George Washington University and a MA in Education from Howard University. She is currently completing a MS in Business Management and Leadership at CUNY SPS. After 10 years of teaching in public and private schools, she’s chosen to focus on helping women and minority owned small businesses succeed and give back so that her families, friends, and communities can thrive. 

Ever felt like you were on a never-ending roller-coaster ride and THAT was your life?

There’s something about being on a ‘coaster that makes you feel like you are not in control. You are just experiencing the ride, but should it take a sharp turn left or right, you are just going to have to grin and bear it, or scream your head off, because you are not in control.

Or so you think. Who told you to get on that ride anyway? Oh….I see.

And life feels like that sometimes.

But it’s important to remember that there’s choices you can make to prevent or even mitigate the crazy freefall you think is approaching.

I remember living day-to-day with that crazy anxious feeling in my chest. Like, how am I going to get through today? I know I’m strong, but damn, this is killing me. I feel like a rubbed out eraser.

Things changed for me when I began to see my inner turmoil reflected in my external world. There’s nothing like seeing the ceiling collapsing all around you to realize that what you thought you were holding up….had been falling down all along. Do you understand?

Over the past year or so I’ve devoted myself to the new motto “no new business,” and what it means is that I have the power to say “no,” to set my own limits, to focus on my own goals, to slow down, to stop, to make changes, to remove or stay away from people and situations that hurt me, and so on.

“No new business” means I’ve got enough on my plate and I’m just trying to deal with what I’ve got on my plate right now. I love you, but, I can’t help you right now. I have to help myself right now. But as soon as I’m okay, I’ll do what I can. I can’t help you from a hospital bed, right?

“No new business” means saying to yourself, I work full-time, I’m in school, I’m a parent, I’m trying to improve my health, maybe work on a personal hobby or passion, and that’s about all I can handle at this moment. And THAT’S OKAY. I’m not a superhero, I’m just human.

And as we enter into the fall and get supercharged up to do this and do that and do this and do that—I say, slow down. You don’t have to ride every roller-coaster in the park. Just pick one or two. And maybe it doesn’t have to have that loop-di-loop either.  Just chill, do what you can do, and be happy with that. And allow others in your life, who want this and that, to also be happy that you are taking care of you.

“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” —Edna Ferber

Christina is passionate about teaching and helping others, social justice, and business ownership. She has a BA in English from George Washington University and a MA in Education from Howard University. She is currently completing a MS in Business Management and Leadership at CUNY SPS. After 10 years of teaching in public and private schools, she’s chosen to focus on helping women and minority owned small businesses succeed and give back so that her families, friends, and communities can thrive.

#FindYourReason

#FindYourReason

Congratulations to the newly elected SPS Governing Council for the 2013-2014 academic year. The winners are:

Mary Casey, Online Master’s in Business Management and LeadershipStudent Representative: Mary Casey, Online Master’s in Business Management and Leadership. “CUNY provides an outstanding education at a reasonable price. I could have enrolled in an adult masters program at my university that would have been tuition-free, but none of its programs match the SPS MS in Business Leadership and Management Program.” Read Mary’s full statement.

Paul Tuohy, Online Master’s in Business Management and LeadershipStudent Representative: Paul Tuohy, Online Master’s in Business Management and Leadership. “My classes at SPS have been a guide to me in several recent business situations. Furthermore, my classes relate directly both to what I am doing at work now, and to what I wish I could do in the future. The online curriculum, particularly the convenience, has made attending school a possibility.” Read Paul’s full statement.

Cheri Martinez, Online Master’s in Business Management and LeadershipAlternate Student Representative: Cheri Martinez, Online Master’s in Business Management and Leadership. “…I take pride in figuring out a way to balance my life for the benefit of others and myself.  I have always been passionate about education, and my relentless drive to complete goals that I have set for myself.  This year, my goals are to be more involved and supportive of those missions I feel strongly about.” Read Cheri’s full statement.

The Governing Council of the CUNY School of Professional Studies provides oversight and approves new courses, certificates and degree programs that the school offers as well as advising the Dean of SPS on the administration, coordination, and development and termination of all of its programs and curricula.

I know I could graduate two or more semesters early if only I would take summer classes. But I won’t. Two courses a semester on top of working full-time and trying to have a life (and have some fun!) is too stressful and I need the three-month break from formal education, tests, papers, discussion boards, wikis and required reading. I admire and applaud those that go to school year round and know that we all have different goals, restrictions and time frames.

I spent most of this summer on my self-help project. I realized that I needed to let go of some things, move on with others, change some behaviors, and learn why I keep making some of the same mistakes and how to make better choices. I also needed to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

I did a LOT of reading—blogs, articles, and books. Not all information is good information. In fact, some of it is garbage. However, a little discernment and fact checking can do wonders. A beauty magazine suggested a biotin supplement to improve my soft, splitting nails. Dr. Oz said it was OK. I have been taking it for several months and my nails have improved. Speaking of Dr. Oz, I work in the same complex and happened to be in the elevator with him one morning. He must have been experiencing a bad day, because he was not the same persona as on TV. Excuuuuuse me.

I read all kinds of relationship advice, ranging from carving my initials into the leather seats of someone’s car to reciting the following mantra over and over again: “I’m sorry; please forgive me; I love you; thank you.” Forgiveness of a behavior does not mean acceptance, and it allows the forgiver to find peace and move on. Acknowledging my part in a failed venture and seeking forgiveness for my failures is an important ingredient in recovery. Grudges and holding onto hurts destroy the soul.

I read some excellent books, including one with simple yet creative ideas on how to handle money, a beautifully written but disturbing book about the spiritual, physical, and bureaucratic struggles of inhabitants of a Mumbai slum and a poorly written but “different” trilogy about alternate lifestyles. OK—it was the Fifty Shades of Grey books. The first one was riveting and thought provoking, but the experience became less interesting through book two and turned into a boring, eye-rolling page-turner by the third installment. Part of the problem may have been that I read all three books over a several day marathon. Even though I was number 1,000 something on the New York Public Library e-book list for each book, they happened to become available at the same time and I did not want to have to re-request them and become number 1,000 something again.

I tried some new recipes and made food I enjoy but usually buy prepared or in a restaurant. Hummus did not turn out as good as Sabra’s, but my gazpacho is very tasty (but not as good as Billy’s, the brother of a friend) and my sesame noodles are not bad. Since I had so much leftover fresh ginger from the sesame noodles, I chopped it and added it to boiling water for a few minutes. I ended up with ginger water that tastes great in a tall glass of ice or mixed with tea.

Besides cooking, I took time to enjoy crafts again. I made a few pieces of jewelry, picked up a needlepoint that I hadn’t touched in many years, and will finish (I will finish!) the sweater I started about 10 years ago and left more than half done.

One of the best suggestions I learned on the self-help journey is to expand my social group. Be open to new people, different types of people, other experiences and settings. Meetup.com has a meetup group for any and every interest. Joining a group is free and I now belong to several. I have been on walking tours of lower Manhattan, visited Coney Island and City Island, went out to dinner and brunch, explored my ancestry and did other really interesting things with people I did not know a few months ago. I have old and dear friends, but we don’t have the same interests in everything, the time or the resources. I have made some new friends and I am taking a trip with one of them through our travel meetup group.

I have learned so much through my informal education this summer. I am grateful for everything that has brought me to this point in my life (the good and the bad, because nothing is a mistake if you learn from it) and the sense of accomplishment and empowerment that comes with the ongoing and never ending self-discovery process. The journey is as important, if not more important, than the destination.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary created and maintained a community/political blog from 2002 to 2004.

Back in the 60’s, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions were exciting and we all watched Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley report all the details from launch to splash down. Beginning with Alan Shepard’s 15 minute sub-orbital flight in 1961 and culminating with the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, the space program was fascinating.

The public thrill did not last long, and except for crises, disasters and firsts (ride, Sally Ride), we stopped paying too much attention. Launches rated little more than a few seconds on the evening news. However, so much science was going on! Besides the high profile space shuttle and space station programs, NASA has conducted hundreds of manned and unmanned missions and has many more proposed. I was astonished by the number and descriptions of each program and you can link to each one at http://www.nasa.gov/.

President Kennedy inaugurated the US space program with landing men on the moon as its goal. For over 40 years since that accomplishment, humans have been confined to earth orbit. In 2004, President George W. Bush announced a plan to return Americans to the moon by 2020 and ultimately, to reach Mars. He stated, “the desire to explore and understand is part of our character“. Two robotic rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, successfully landed on Mars in 2004. Spirit stopped communicating last year and Opportunity continues to function beyond all expectations. President Obama reiterated the commitment to Mars but pushed the target date back to 2030, and robotic rover Curiosity was launched on November 26 on its 8 month journey to explore the planet.

According to NASA, this is the beginning of a new era in space exploration where the International Space Station will be used as a stepping stone. In addition, NASA plans to foster a commercial industry for projects within Earth’s orbit so energy and resources can be focused on sending astronauts to an asteroid and eventually to Mars. I hope they have read Packing for Mars by Mary Roach and can figure out all the complications by 2030. “The road ahead is challenging but this approach and space exploration architecture puts us in a position to go where no human has gone before.

Space exploration has provided countless benefits and NASA’s website has a list at http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html. Of course, the benefits come with a high costs  and it is prudent to ask if the benefits are worth the expense, especially in these difficult economic times. Does the quest for knowledge and need to explore have a price tag?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” So states the First Amendment. What has happened to the right to peaceful protest? Has the Occupy Wall Street movement terrified the powers in charge so much that they will do anything to prevent opposition?

Police in riot gear, swinging batons and using teargas, have arrested noisy but generally peaceful protesters. Even in Berkeley, of places! Encampments across the country have been bulldozed. After a two-month occupation, over 1,000 police descended on Zuccotti Park in NY in the early morning hours of 11/15 to clear out the protesters. Granted, Zuccotti Park is private property, but was a surprise and overly aggressive raid at 1am by so many cops warranted? Should personal property have been confiscated or destroyed? Within hours after the eviction, OWS protesters got a court order allowing them to return and to re-erect tents. As of this writing, that decision was overturned and protesters cannot set up camp.

What has happened to freedom of the press? Journalists covering the OWS events across the country including writer/activist Naomi Wolf have been arrested for doing their jobs, even though they were wearing press badges at the time. Arrests have occurred at New York City, Chapel Hill, NC, Atlanta, Nashville, Milwaukee and Richmond, VA. The Society of Professional Journalists and the New York Press Club have condemned the arrests and issued formal protests.

Besides arrests, reporters have been prevented by police from getting “too close” and filming evidence of abuse of power. Police brass are preventing the witnessing of massive shows of force and violence against the protesters. Isn’t this what is done in third world countries and dictatorships? The New York Police Commissioner is a Special Forces wannabe who has secretly built an incredible operation since 9/11.

In addition to journalists, noted educators and politicians have been arrested including Professor Cornel West of Princeton and Ydanis Rodriguez, a New York City Council Member. Mr. Rodriguez was hit in the head during the 11/14 raid and claimed that he was held without access to legal counsel.

The same pundits who call the Tea Party protesters patriots, emulators of the Founding Fathers and true Americans consider the OWS protesters to be rabble, Socialists, leftist losers and much worse. Most of these pundits are members of the 1% and they have convinced a majority of their viewers and readers that the main ideals of OWS (end corporatism, tax the wealthiest of Americans on a fairer basis, create jobs) are somehow not in their best interests. Real Americans should be afraid of those lazy, dirty Commies. It’s their own fault they don’t have jobs.

The Occupy Wall Street movement includes drum banging idealists and opportunistic troublemakers. However, the majority is comprised of the 99% of us – average people who are struggling with earning enough to pay the bills, those who have lost jobs and homes, and others who have never had enough. Even capitalist tool The Economist recognizes the lopsided inequity between the top 1% and everyone else and the danger of it. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/10/income-inequality-america)

To go back to the beginning, what has happened to the right to peaceful protest and freedom of the press? The First Amendment Center documents the free speech issues and marked increase in journalist arrests during the Occupy Wall Street movement. Free speech is hard and sometimes painful. It must be protected and witnessed.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

I just don’t understand the fascination with Teen Moms, Hoarders, the Housewives, Jersey Shore and the myriad other sleazy reality shows on TV. The supreme franchise, however, has got to be those Kardashians. Are you kidding me?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy reality shows where people have talent or have to accomplish something. I never miss the Amazing Race and I record Project Runway rerun marathons. They have the right combination of Shakespearean tragicomedy to teach lessons as well as be entertaining and fun to watch. But, train wrecks stop to watch the Kardashians.

While many early television shows were unscripted and showed people in real situations (Smile, you’re on Candid Camera), the first “reality show” that I remember is An American Family. It aired in 1973 and it documented the life of a typical American family. Unexpected situations such as the separation and divorce of the parents and the coming out of the eldest son created much controversy. Some critics complained that the family members played to the camera while the family said they sometimes didn’t even realize the camera was recording. In any event, An American Family was something never before seen on TV, and it was sociological, educational and tastefully raw.

The Real World, Big Brother, Survivor, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Deadliest Catch and other programs showing real people or ex-stars doing something different and/ interesting have large audiences. This is understandable. Although some of the shows have started to decline or get a little too self-indulgent, they still have a point and engage us for many reasons. However, what is the deal with the embarrassing low quality ones? Why is watching someone climb over the piles of garbage and newspapers in her filthy home entertaining?

I suppose Paris Hilton began the new type of reality TV showcasing famous for being famous people. At that time it was probably funny to watch rich “celebrities” doing average things. It was a real life situation comedy. Even the Osbournes in an “I hate to admit it” way was mesmerizing. That was the guy who bit off a bat’s head and whose albums were thrown out by many of my friends’ parents? The Osbournes showed a weird, profane, sometimes (most of the time) stoned family who nevertheless loved each other.

However, the latest crop of reality shows has crossed the line. For the most part, they depict bottom feeders with psychological problems who would do anything for money. It is easy to understand why a 16-year-old pregnant high school drop out would allow herself and her unfortunate child to be used, or why lowlifes from New Jersey would jump on the money train, but the Kardashians are a different story.

The Kardashians are a family of television personalities and publicity hounds. Dad was most notably OJ Simpson’s lawyer and mom (married for over 20 years to Bruce Jenner) is an outstanding businesswoman and the manager of the empire. Besides their reality shows, they have clothing lines, boutiques, perfume, sex tapes and numerous other credits. Their reality shows have been huge hits and the money has allowed them to pursue their various business ventures and celebrity lifestyles. Kim’s wedding (a match made it heaven) cost millions but made millions. Her quickie marriage and divorce have outraged many fans, shocked, I say shocked, by her greed and hypocrisy.

I just don’t understand the fascination or entertainment value. Is television programming giving us what we want to watch or is it creating the audience? If this is what people want, what does that say about us?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

Whenever I’m in Chelsea, I feel compelled to casually walk by the Alexander McQueen store and glance in the window. There’s always something in the window that catches my eye. It’s usually a fantastic design, bold colors, and unusual silhouette, or an extreme use of ruffles, rosettes or ruching.

And I’ve gotta have it. Just gotta have it.

Something about the designer’s work attracts me. It draws me to it, and every time I walk by that store, I feel drawn inside. My wallet however, usually drags me back out as quickly.

I know why I’m drawn towards this designer. But for a lot of other things that attract my attention, I usually don’t know why. Sometimes it’s the colors, sometimes it’s the display. Sometimes it’s the product itself. It’s the branding that attracted me like a lonely moth towards a street lamp.

I just gotta have it.

Not too long ago, I woke up with a crazy thought that just popped into my head. I finally figured out the best asset I had to work with. It was staring right back at me from the mirror. Myself.

I don’t know why I’ve never thought about it before. I know myself inside and out. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. It’s other people that don’t. If I am my best asset, why don’t I brand myself that way?

I am a brand.

Whoa.

I am a brand.

With unemployment at uncomfortable levels, people occupying Wall Street, Oakland, San Francisco and everywhere else, people are unfortunately all starting to look the same. People are starting to blend together like running ink from a wet newspaper. We’re all old news, fading away and moving quickly towards the drain.

There is nothing to attract employers to you, unless you do it yourself. You have to make yourself a brand that the company just has to have. What sets you apart from your peers? Your competitors? What makes you an individual? What makes you the brand that you are? Why do they need you rather than someone else? No one else can build that value of yourself or that sense of urgency that you are a once in a lifetime opportunity. You don’t want to miss out on this exclusive limited time offer that is ME!

As I pondered this thought, I tried to think of a way to describe myself. What would make me seem different?

I started with: “They are standard, and I am deluxe.” Yeah, like that would work. I’d come with pickles and onions with a side of fries.

“They are vanilla, but I am rocky road.” I’ve never even had rocky road, so I’m not sure where that one came from.

I finally hit on it.

“These people are one dimensional, while I am prismatic.”

I am colorful, unusual, sparkly, and multi-faceted. Why didn’t I think of this before?

I am prismatic.

How will you brand yourself? What word or phrase best describes you?
Ebonye Gussine is a recent graduate in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  She loves writing, reading, and is an avid fan of John Steinbeck’s works. In her spare time she sings off-key and travels to new places.