Celebrating Sydney

Every single detail of that day is crystal clear. And for someone with a brain game app that I can’t remember to play often enough to see results, that’s huge.

Visiting Lake Mills with family and friends on September 18th, 2015
Visiting Lake Mills with family and friends on September 18th, 2015

The story of losing Sydney Tabakin on September 18th, 2010 will continue to be told, and will continue to reach more hearts with every reverberation of sorrow and laughter. It’s muscle memory- ingrained in our minds, tattooed in our hearts (and sometimes elsewhere), and rolling off our tongues with the same authenticity and emotion it created 5 years ago.

We have also proven the stories of Sydney’s life will live on, each one unique to the storyteller and their relationship with Sydney.

For the last five years, we have focused on the love and the loss; but the story we need even more than that, is this-

“We are so lucky,” I told myself just after a usual bout of clumsiness interrupted my zen thoughts about the 11825824_10153343871535668_1028002565700626142_nweekend to come and left me clutching a stubbed toe. It’s a phrase I repeat often. “Thank your body for each and every moment of this practice, we are so so lucky,” I tell my yoga students as they awake from savasana. In every situation it seems to apply. And on the eve of the 18th, my excitement for seeing the luckiest people I know- those who knew Sydney- overpowered any distractions or setbacks.

Just as I expected, my weekend was filled with the best friends I could imagine, laughing until I couldn’t speak, all purple ereything, and more long island ice teas than I knew possible {aka 11 gallons}. I had referred to this weekend as a reunion, and that’s exactly what it was. A celebration of life and the friends that make every encounter unforgettable.

Just as we all had different experiences and relationships with Sydney, each person who could and could not be there this weekend is a part of a whole. While the empty space created by a loss like Sydney can never be filled, this weekend brought back a sense of vitality so many of us had been missing. We didn’t all choose to be a part of the tragedy that occurred 5 years ago, but we chose to celebrate life this weekend, and we continue to choose each other. 

We choose who we catch up with, what grudges we hold, and what this special weekend will look like in 30 years. We decide how many times a day we can be inspired to say, “I am so lucky.”

Sydney's parking spot, September 2010
Sydney’s parking spot, September 2010

The people we surround ourselves with and what we make time for reflects what we value, and this weekend was no different.

At the time of the car accident, our friend group was beginning senior year. Decisions about our future demanded our attention and pressure continued to set in. At the same time, we chose to be present; to engage with each person around us and make the most of our last year in the same place. We knew how to balance and prioritize what mattered most.

Now with many of us as nearing or starting out in a new chapter, it can be easy to lose sight of what we’ve accomplished, who we have inspired, and what we know.

The stories of Sydney are nowhere near done, the only difference is the next story of how she impacted your life isn’t is the past tense, it starts today.

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5 Ways to Revamp the Workday

IMG_3282As Labor Day wraps up, there are backpacks being zipped up, PB&J’s getting sliced into squares, and butterflies circulating as many wonder what a new chapter will bring. This marks my first fall without classes, schedules, and bus schedules occupying my mind.

Rather than partaking in sorority recruitment, I was supporting a few chapters from afar. I swapped back to school shopping for a weekend outdoors filled with celebration and family. I entered the famous “first day” knowing what it would bring. Until I remembered I was in complete control of what I would bring to it.

Change is as constant as we make it. Here’s how I’m keeping things fresh for fall-

1. Know your stuff: In college when I had mostly major-focused courses and found myself often surrounded by Ad/PR peers, it was easy to live and breathe strategic communications. Being up to speed with agency news and marketing campaigns boosted my confidence in classes and my abilities.

However, working for a business consulting company has shifted my lens to HR and organizational development, an area I would otherwise know little about. As a result, that confidence I found when voicing my opinions about brands or ads doesn’t make as many appearances. So I have to work to uncover it again by reading Harvard Business review, LinkedIn pulse articles, and staying tuned into conversations even when I don’t understand the context. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but rather rediscovering what you know is already there.

2. Get your Z’s: I need to sleep. It’s not negotiable, no matter how many times I tried to argue it was, with all-night study sessions as my proof. That was then, this is now, End of story.

3. Be an expert:  I am in a unique and fortunate situation- I am the only one in my position, team, and department- I am Work Effects marketing. While I get to lead projects, vision cast, and make decisions, I lose the brainstorming and collaboration that comes from another perspective.

Like any millennial, I assumed the internet would have the answer to my hopes and dreams, and IMG_1835have made bloggers and writers worldwide my coworkers. By researching the best ways to produce webinars, tricks for hmtl coding, and staying updated with marketing news, I can present and execute ideas with the same confidence as I would after bouncing and rebuilding my idea off my cube-neighbor.

4. Take productive breaks: Skyway walks, creative writing bursts, and taking the time to have lunch away from my desk energizes me to stay focused the rest of the day. Not giving my body time to move or my brain time to run wild, I end up taking a break via Instagram, which has proven to have no positive impacts on my work.

Sometimes, I feel guilty for being “off task,” but if getting a burst of social interaction will make it easier for me to find spelling errors before I email hundred of consultants, then everyone wins. Furthermore, I almost always return with better ideas, solutions, and approaches. We need a little white space sometimes in order to see what’s in front of us.

5. Let passion lead: This one’s simple- go where there is energy, and bring your energy to where there isn’t. As a 1-person department, if I can get the dept to rally around something I am really excited about (lolz like that is hard) and I can get the key decision makers excited about it, soon enough it comes onto my plate. Direct towards passion and energy, and you direct towards quality.

Sometimes my projects get logistical and tedious, but bringing positivity to the task and taking productive breaks (ahem ^^) I can get them done faster and with more attention to detail- meaning rework’s time to shine has passed.

It won’t work perfectly everyday, but I’ve learned to stop waiting for perfection. I’d rather practice trying new things, fall down a few times, and find progress than wait for the perfect day, project, opportunity, job, or people to fall into my lap before I make moves. Let’s do it, September.