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Life can knock you off your feet! I take care of everything and everyone…this is what I do and a large part of who I am! One day while at work I had this intense squeezing in my chest, everything started to spin, I was nauseous and dizzy. I thought I was having a heart attack. After being checked out in the ER, thankfully my ticker is in fine condition but what I experienced was a panic attack.

Last semester was very difficult: working 50+ hours a week, dealing with the news of my brother being diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, caring for him during treatment, all while working towards finishing my degree, and the pressure was taking its toll. This panic attack was an eye opening experience.

I was not taking care of myself at all and it was evident. It was time to make some healthy changes. The hardest one was acknowledging that it wasn’t selfish to take time for self-care. I worked on trying to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, took some walks (even short 15 minute ones helped) and—this is a big one—turning off all electronics (YES, no Facebook!!!) at least an hour before going to sleep. However, the most important form of self-care for me has been the practice of active listening and affirmation towards myself.

Active listening is when we listen to someone, acknowledge their feelings and restate it so they feel understood and validated. It might sound, and feel, weird doing this, but give it a try. I would say things to myself like, “working so many hours and caring for Anthony (my brother) is really exhausting,” or “it’s ok to be scared and sad to see Anthony so sick.”

So many people suffer with anxiety, many in silence. I was ashamed to admit that at one point, but not anymore. This makes me human. If you find yourself in a similar situation, practice some self-care. Be kind and love yourself. Allow the truth of your emotions to have a safe space with no judgment. Give yourself time to feel, grow, and heal on this journey of life.

Life can knock us off our feet, but it’s okay because sometimes we need to lay down and rest.

Be kind to YOU today!

Dianne Galasso is a Brooklyn native since birth! In 1991, she received her AAS in Journalism from Kingsborough Community College. She studied at St. John’s University from 1993-1999. Dianne has had photographic and written work published, as well as has edited for other published authors. Since 1991, Dianne has worked at a medical center in Brooklyn in various job functions, currently as a Manager in the Nursing Education Department. She has coached girls’ softball, volunteered in the women’s and children’s ministry in her local church and is an active resource in the lives of children. After a 15 year hiatus from school, Dianne is currently a student at CUNY SPS where she is pursuing her BA in Psychology.

The Academy Awards are this Sunday. Here are some picks and notes for the festivities.

Best Picture

SHOULD WIN: Spotlight

WILL WIN: The Revenant

  • CAROL not being nominated is a travesty. THE REVENANT has abundant momentum. Not a film I enjoyed all that much, but the Oscars often get it wrong.

Best Actor

SHOULD WIN: Whatever (Really, whatever)

WILL WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

  • By far the weakest of the major categories. DiCaprio wins by default in a year with no competition, and for a performance that was lacking (I blame the script more than him).

Best Actress

SHOULD WIN: Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

WILL WIN: Brie Larson (Room)

Best Supporting Actor

SHOULD WIN: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

WILL WIN: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Supporting Actress

SHOULD WIN: Rooney Mara (Carol)

WILL WIN: Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

  • This category is a major wild card. Perhaps the strongest all around category, this is a pure guess, at best. Kate Winslet is a terrific actress and always a threat, but I’ll stick with these predictions.

Best Director

SHOULD WIN: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

WILL WIN: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)

  • I’d be disappointed by another Inarritu victory, but with recent victories at the BAFTAs and DGA, it seems likely. Really pulling for Miller or Tom McCarthy.

Best Original Screenplay

SHOULD WIN: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer (Spotlight)

WILL WIN: Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer (Spotlight)

Best Adapted Screenplay

SHOULD WIN: Phyllis Nagy (Carol)

WILL WIN: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short)

  • In the interest of full disclosure, I have not read any of the books these adaptations are nominated for, so I’m not to be trusted with my “should win” pick. I pick Nagy because I loved Carol, but it’s clear McKay and Randolph are the front-runners.

Best Cinematography

SHOULD WIN: Roger Deakins (Sicario)

WILL WIN: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)

  • I’d love to be wrong here. One of the great cinematographers of this or any era, Deakins has been nominated 13 times for an Oscar, and has come up empty each time. I could make an argument for each of the other nominees: Ed Lachman for Carol, Robert Richardson for The Hateful Eight, John Seale for Mad Max: Fury Road, or Lubezki. Lubezki does brilliant work, but has won 2 years in a row (Gravity, Birdman). Would like to see a spread of the wealth. Wildly competitive category, and a great year for one of the most vital and powerful parts of the medium.

Best Foreign Language Film

SHOULD WIN: Son of Saul

WILL WIN: Son of Saul

  • Mustang is terrific as well, but this should be a slam dunk.

Best Documentary Feature

SHOULD WIN: The Look of Silence

WILL WIN: Amy

  • This is a shame. Amy has racked up almost every award this season, and while it’s fine (I feel like this doc could be made about thousands of people, making it less unique), it in no way compares to Joshua Oppenheimer’s devastating companion to 2012’s The Act of Killing.

That’s all I got. If you’re into it, enjoy the show. Brace yourselves for the inevitable boredom that will strike somewhere in the second hour (maybe first depending on how well Chris Rock is doing as host), and don’t take it too seriously. A lot of your (my) favorite movies this year weren’t nominated.

****One additional note: World of Tomorrow is nominated for Best Animated Short. It is incredible and at only 17 minutes, well worth your time. I LOVED THIS. It’s streaming on Netflix.

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

The Leftovers, HBO’s drama based on the novel of the same name written by Tom Perrotta, returned this Sunday for its second season. Season 1 focused primarily on the people of Mapleton, a fictional town about an hour drive north of Manhattan, and their dealing with the mysterious disappearance of 2% of the world’s population. In season 2 the story shifts to Jarden, Texas, appropriately nicknamed Miracle National Park, as not one person was taken from them in the Sudden Departure.

There is a bleak nature to The Leftovers, unlike anything else on TV at the moment (perhaps the only thing close in the “dark” department is, oddly enough, Review, which is great, but a comedy) that sucked me in entirely midway through last year’s first season. It’s grim. It’s depressing. Add that to a level of despair that will undoubtedly turn people off. It’s a divisive show, with a view of the world most people wouldn’t dare tackle nor one they want to be a part of.

Damon Lindelof, co-creator/writer, is no stranger to polarizing television. When LOST ended it’s 6 season run in 2010, many were unhappy, feeling they were left with more questions than answers. I was not one of those people, but I can’t argue with those who thought the show should’ve gone in a different direction. I didn’t agree with all the decisions made regarding the final couple of seasons, but I believe no less in Lindelof, who helped create something wholly original and unique, unlike anything else on TV then and with its failed copycats in the years since.

Alan Sepinwall, excellent TV critic for Hitfix.com, posted a wonderfully candid interview with Lindelof that gives great insight into the process of creating such a show, and the pitfalls of controlling something the magnitude of LOST.

The Leftovers is a show about grief, but it’s also a show about hope. A hope that these people can move on with their lives. Maybe not to rebuild the lives they once had, but to expand on lives they never thought possible. The departed are not coming back. We, the viewer, have been told by the creators that we won’t ever find out what happened to them. That focuses us entirely on what’s happening on-screen, right in front of us. There’s a supernatural aspect of the show that’s exciting in a non-alien way. No matter what your religious allegiances, it’s a show that tests your faith.

Mapleton has burned, figuratively, and to a point, literally. The Garveys, along with Nora (Carrie Coon’s performance as Nora Durst is transcendent and one of the great new TV finds in recent memory) are leaving that behind to start anew. I can’t wait to join them.

Here’s a beautiful piece of music from season 1’s Soundtrack. Part of a deep, emotional, and often contemplative score:

Twitter: @BobbyJDaniels

Robert is a current student here at CUNY SPS, pursuing a degree in Communication and Media. He is interested in platforms of media, especially those related to digital media; and a fan of serious film as well as this current golden age of television.

Hello All,

I have no idea what I am doing and this is a test as I try to keep up with the 21st century by starting a blog. This is from a woman who does not indulge in social media. I don’t tweet or Facebook, but I decided to join the Community Blog to discuss being an older (47), single, and fabulous college student. I also plan to write about the ups and downs of trying to hold down a full-time job, attend college half time, and the perils of being single and dating in this technologically inclined world we live. Today marks my first blog post so wish me luck.  LOL!

A little more about me: this is my first semester as an undergraduate student at SPS, and I am majoring in Health Information Management. I currently work full-time as an Administrative assistant in the Radiology Dept at NYU Medical Centers.

I decided to start writing for the blog because there has to be other students trying to walk through the murky waters as an employed, busy, single, older (but should I say fabulous), college student. Other students who also happen to be looking for love, while trying to gain and maintain at least a 3.5 GPA, of course. Not to mention the whole social media thing is enough to drive one into early menopause. It’s all so exhausting. So here I am joining the millions of bloggers in the hopes of venting my stress away while updating my skills as a computer savvy, multimedia goddess.  LOL!

Feel free to stop by and say hi and wish me well on my new adventure.

Xan Bullock is student in the HIM program. She is 40+, loving life and surprisingly school too!

25 Apps You’ll Need to Survive College

Mashable’s Sarah Ang annotated a list of 25 apps designed to support academic success. My personal favorite is SelfControl. The app allows users to block websites for a designated period of time, making it impossible, for example, to scroll through your Facebook feed during study hours. Self control via censorship? It works. Do you use any of the apps Sarah suggested? Let us know if there’s a must have not listed.

With the start of the Fall 2012 semester this week, those of us who took the summer off are quickly reminded of the juggling we will need to do in order to maintain our family responsibilities and jobs. Schedules need to be re-arranged, social outings declined or cancelled, and sometimes we have to ask others for help. I’ve already had to ask my brother to spend time with Athena, my daughter’s Chihuahua, because we are both keeping long days with work and school, and in my case, training for the marathon too.

Asking for help has become a new talent of mine. It is how I have been able to raise over $2,500 for the American Cancer Society and how reaching the goal of $3,500 is attainable. Since the CUNY School of Professional Studies has an opportunity to fundraise for Komen’s Race for the Cure, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my fundraising secrets that have made “asking for help” a lot easier than it sounds.

Social media has been my number one source for donations. Using Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+, LinkedIn and blogging, I make the opportunity available to many potential donors. I engage my audience of friends, family and colleagues by making meaningful posts about my progress, set-backs, victories and challenges. I invite others to comment, share, and get involved. I offer opportunities to support me with either financial support, moral support—or both.

One of the most engaging tools I’ve used is MapMyRun. While running, it tracks me and my friends can watch me live on the app. (Feel free to add me if you use MapMyRun, user name: xahndra.) One of the coolest features with MapMyRun is that when my run is complete, it posts a map and a custom message with my mapped run. I set the program so that it will automatically post to Facebook and Twitter after my run with a link to my fundraising page. My online community sees that I am doing the work and that their funds mean something to me. (It also socially holds me responsible to stick with my program and training days… Win Win!)

I try to think of gimmicks and mini-goals. For example, the hashtag on Twitter, #FF stands for FollowFriday. Many Twitter users actually search for that hashtag to see what fun people to follow on Fridays. Also, people pay attention to the #FF in their Twitter feed. So, I made #FF stand for something else. FUNDRAISING FRIDAY!

Fundraising Friday works best when you have some sort of mini-goal associated with it. For example, a few Frundraising Friday’s ago, I was very close to the 50% mark. I needed just a hundred dollars or so. By the time #FF Fundraising Friday was almost over, I needed just $19.25 to hit 50%. I sent out a tweet and status update requesting that amount and instead I received two more $25 donations pushing me well over 50% of my goal. It’s fun because now some of my teammates are using #FF Fundraising Friday and having success as well. Try using #FF this Friday as a member of the CUNY SPS team for Komen’s Race for the Cure. Let me know if it worked for you too!

In all my tweets and updates through social media, I try to engage others. If I can get a well known handle to retweet me or donate their status update for me, it’s a good day for my awareness. I always tag organizations on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve actually been retweeted by authors, sporting good stores, and the American Cancer Society. When this happens, it’s a great day for my awareness campaign! I’ve even asked for a status updates and tweet donations from my friends and followers. It’s really helped me reach the friends of my friends. In the last 3 months, I’ve actually doubled my number of Twitter followers. This will really help me for the next time around.

Outside of social media, I write bi-monthly email updates to all my contributors, family, friends and colleagues. This keeps them engaged and aware of the huge impact they’ve made in my life and reminds them of the good cause they have contributed to. I write updates to the blog on my fundraising page regularly, reporting my progress and milestones. I’ve held two happy hour fundraisers with friends and colleagues and I plan on doing a bake sale in the office. There really are so many little things that a #CharityRunner could do to raise big money without costing too much time.

So, here’s my personal challenge to the CUNY SPS community. As a team, let’s try to raise some serious cash for the Susan G. Komen #RaceForTheCure! So far we have 17 team members. If each of us raised $100, we would be making a huge impact with $1,700 raised as a team. That’s almost half of what I am raising on my own for the American Cancer Society. Can we do it? I think we can! To join our team and efforts, please visit http://bit.ly/CUNYSPS.

Alexandra Hertel is an Ohioan living in Brooklyn, New York. She attends CUNY’s School of Professional Studies and works full-time in the events industry.

When you want information on something, it’s likely that one of the first ways you go about seeking it out is through a quick Google search.  It’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s comprehensive.  But have you ever googled yourself?  Because if you’re not, and consequently you’re not doing whatever you can to manage those search results, you’re putting yourself at a severe disadvantage.

Taking control of your search results is a key part of managing your personal brand online.  It allows you to control (to a certain extent) what people see when they search for you.  This is something that can be very important if you’re looking for a new job.  And even if you’re happy with your current employment situation, it’s never a bad idea to try and manage what people see when your name comes up.

The first time I googled myself, I found out I was  on the FBI’s most wanted list, that I thought my University was doing a great job of bring events to campus thanks to a quote in the student news paper, and that I was a hip hop artist.  Only one of those actually pertained to me (my ranking FBI most wanted list, naturally), so I went to work figuring out how to make the search results actually reflect me and my online presence.  It’s not an overnight process, and you’re competing with a lot of other people with the same name, but it’s an important process nonetheless.

Now there’s my website, my social networking profiles, a blog I wrote when I was living in China, and then, below all of that, some results for other Shawn Abrahams.  I did my best to make sure that my content was the first thing you’d see when you search my name, and people seeking information about me can see the information that I want them to see right at the top.

Naturally, the more common name you have, the more difficult it is to guarantee that you show up on top.  Here are three quick tips to keep in mind if you want to take control of your digital destiny.

1. In case you haven’t heard it from me enough, social networking is kind of a big deal.  Google and other major search engines have a tendency of floating Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to the top.  So make sure you register a vanity address for your account wherever possible.

2. If you haven’t done it yet, if someone ELSE hasn’t done it yet, register http://www.yourname.com.  Even if you don’t know what to do with it, you’ll find a use for it eventually.

3. Time to start that blog about cross stitching vintage 80’s pop art that you’ve always been talking about.  Blogs are a great way to up your relevance in searches.  Your name comes up a lot, and it helps define you as an expert in something.  This can be a key component of your personal brand, especially if that brand is 80’s Pop Art Cross Stitching Expert.

The idea of developing your brand online will be central to this column moving forward.  Now that the semester is in full swing, we’ll be going bi-weekly, but the next installment will pay closer attention to the idea and importance of starting your own blog.

Shawn Abraham is SPS’ Virtual Campus Manager, which means he gets to have a lot of fun building an online community for the school.  He also has a lot of fun reading books about zombies.  These two things rarely intersect.

Aside from the expected non-stop wave of stops and applause, there was one line from the State of the Union address delivered last night by President Obama that stuck with me.

“None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do – what America does better than anyone – is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn’t just change our lives. It’s how we make a living.”

– President Barack Obama, The State of the Union, 1/25/11

The technological revolution we are going through is being spoken of in the same context as Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers.  It is just further proof that the advances in online interactivity are something profoundly significant.  That the President choose to highlight these corporate powerhouses, both still in their relative infancy, as the new vanguards of the American economy and American ingenuity is worthy of a moment of discussion.

If our chief export is to be defined as innovation and ingenuity, it is impossible to avoid certain concerns.  We’re not talking about easily quantifiable products that will boost company revenues because we’re shipping more units and earning more money.  But the success stories of Facebook and Google are to be lauded because they are highlighting a new sort of social export that proves that America still has a lot to offer to the world, and will remain relevant and powerful on a global level thanks to sites that quite frankly, many people cannot live without.

We all love their products and can clearly point to a point in our lives before and after we began using them.  I’d wager that most folks would say that their lives have been improved (either subtly or significantly) thanks to either Facebook or Google.  But the truth is that one of the key selling points to both Google and Facebook is that they are both free.  Would you use either if they started charging?  Before you answer, seriously think about it.  Of course it’s easy to have a knee-jerk reaction of mock disgust and dismay.  Pay?  For Facebook?  For Google?  Absurd.

But is it, really?  Think of the ease of information afforded to you by Google, and the convenience of contact that Facebook cultivates.  How much is that worth to you?  Something tells me it’s more than the whopping zero dollars we’re all paying right now.

I’m going to shift gears away from these hypotheticals, because luckily for us all, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing either site behind a pay wall in our lifetime.  If ever.  In fact, there have been so many nonsensical “news” stories claiming that Facebook will start charging, that the site recently changed their login page to reflect them:

Notice the pledge on the right hand side above the sign up fields that the site will always be free.  They needed to put that out there right in front to supersede all the bogus claims of turning into a paysite.  But those claims are based in the reality that, Facebook is probably indispensable to a large enough percentage of their user base that people would find themselves willing to pay.

But we won’t have to, and that’s a good thing.  The American economy is on its way to righting itself, and the future is looking bright.  We have companies innovating on a scale so massive that it is changing the way the world interacts and learns more than anything since the telephone.  State of the Unions are always a time for Presidents to put a positive spin on things, even if the situation is particularly dire.  But for once, I’m inclined to agree.  Things are changing for the better, and thanks to innovations by Facebook, Google, Apple, and companies we haven’t even heard of yet, they’re changing at a rapid rate that all but guarantees an exciting and unpredictable future.

Shawn Abraham is SPS’ Virtual Campus Manager, which means he gets to have a lot of fun building an online community for the school.  He also has a lot of fun reading books about zombies.  These two things rarely intersect.

I’ll venture a guess and say that most of you have heard of Mark Zuckerberg.  I’ll venture another guess and say that most of you have not heard of Reid Hoffman or Jack Dorsey.  Hoffman and Dorsey are at a decided disadvantage here as Zuckerberg is the centerpiece character in the Oscar nominated movie The Social Network. No big screen for Hoffman or Dorsey.  But I’m thinking that’s just fine with Hoffman as his company will soon go public.  That said, Hoffman is the founder of LinkedIn, and Dorsey is the founder of Twitter.

Left to right: Zuckerberg, Hoffman, Dorsey

In full disclosure, I really never understood the fascination with Twitter – or, at times, with Facebook.  Pardon my learning curve but status updates like getting ready to vacuum just do not strike me as the depth of information that needs to be posted for public consumption.  But far be it from I to make the perfect the enemy of the good.  As social network platforms, there is no denying their power and significance in today’s interconnected world.   Connections matter.  Get on board or get left behind.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses that John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Andrew Carnegie, along with a number of other capitalists of that era, were all born between 1830 in 1837.  It was the dawn of a new era saliently marked by extraordinarily robust growth in the oil and railroad industries.  These men prominently stood at the epicenter of such industries, in the right place, at the right time.  We saw a similar occurrence during the computer revolution. Had Bill Gates and Steve Jobs been born in an earlier time, Microsoft and Apple might not exist today.  To their credit, all of these men comprehensively harnessed the technologies and infrastructure advancements that were available to them at the time, and ran with it, while the rest of the world remained pedestrian.  They were risk takers and unyielding in there myopic focus in seeing what others could not, or would not, envision.  But it was the combination of internal forces and external facilitators (most of all, timing) that ultimately brought their embryonic visions to fully matured fruition.

In a sense, Zuckerberg, Hoffman, and Dorsey are today’s Rockefeller, Morgan, and Carnegie.  They are visionaries, entrepreneurs, business luminaries, and billionaires.  Like their predecessors in their respective sectors, these contemporaries figure prominently at the forefront of the newly created social networking space.  J.P. Morgan dressed in a three-piece suit and top hat as he walked through Central Park while Mark Zuckerberg goes to work in a Gap sweatshirt and flip-flops.  Yet, both have had an astounding impact on the world.  They all deserve celebration and should be lauded (unlike many “celebrities” who have accomplished remarkably little and often contribute nothing of value to our society – read: Kardashians) for their respective, significant creations that we all may opt-into as participants.  They are corporate titans of the highest magnitude, even in flip-flops.

John Brigantino is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.  He enjoys writing, non-fiction books, traveling and the many cultural and leisure experiences Manhattan has to offer.

We’ve all felt it at one point or another.  We’re scrolling through our Facebook news feed, wondering why we’re not doing something else a bit more productive, but unable to look away.  And then it sets in.  How many posts about sheep and virtual farming do I need to let run past my eyes before I need to throw up my arms and close the browser.  Or better yet, step away from the computer.

Social Networking is undeniably a valuable communication and networking tool, but sometimes Facebook makes it hard to see how.  The trick answer is that Facebook is far from the be all and end all of Social Networking, and if that’s where your experience begins and ends, you may be missing out on some extremely valuable tools for professional outreach and development.

Exhibit A: LinkedIn.  Billed as the “professional” social network, this site has established itself as a true networking powerhouse.  The crudest way to describe it is imagining it as your online resume.  Your profile should mimic a lot of what your “analog” resume looks like.  But as with most web based platforms, it offers many more robust features.  From publicly posted recommendations from colleagues, supervisors, and clients, to status updates that allow you to discuss projects you’re working on and articles you find professionally stimulating.

LinkedIn provides many other robust tools for managing your professional network.  They have dynamic group pages where you can connect with others in similar fields, people with common interests or hobbies, or classmates and fellow alumni.  (You’d better believe we have an SPS Group waiting for you!)  LinkedIn has proven itself as the ideal way to stay in touch with old colleagues, and find potential new leads as you move along in your professional development.

But don’t just listen to me.  This pitch video hits on many of the key features of LinkedIn and why it is a truly indispensable tool for all professionals.

That doesn’t mean LinkedIn is the end all for all your professional networking.  Just because Facebook is dominated by Farmville and other games doesn’t mean it isn’t a remarkably useful tool.  Just because Twitter uses a bunch of strange words doesn’t mean it can’t help to solidify your personal brand and get you a job.  We will touch on all of this and more as the column progresses.

But as we move forward, I urge all of you to explore LinkedIn, set up a profile, and join the SPS Group.  I am happy to work with all of you on this, and if anyone has questions, please post them in the comments.  Chances are you’re not alone in wondering about all the oddities that go hand in hand with joining a new social network.  As students in a school of PROFESSIONAL studies, you are at a severe disadvantage these days if you don’t take advantage of all the tools available to you.  And LinkedIn is a very powerful tool.

Shawn Abraham is SPS’ Virtual Campus Manager, which means he gets to have a lot of fun building an online community for the school.  He also has a lot of fun reading books about zombies.  These two things rarely intersect.