Dear Amazing Creative Ones,
I am writing this letter to you because I would love to showcase your art on my blog with a short bio. I believe the world needs artistic collaboration and exposure to creativity. If you are interested in being showcased on my blog with an article all about you and your artwork, please fill out the form below! All artists who fill out the form will have a chance to have an article written about them.
After filling out the form you will be entered into a raffle to win a $25 Amazon gift card (you must be an artist and serious about showcasing your work.) Raffle entries end Tuesday May 30th.
In one week, I'll be 30 years old. By 30 many of us hope that we have our lives sorted out somewhat but in Silicon Valley that can seem impossible in face of the brutal competitive job frontier that formed over the last 20 years.
I even did it “right.” I attended a 4 year university straight out of high school and obtained a Bachelor’s Degree. Most of the good paying jobs out there require this as a minimum aside from their laundry list of high tech skills and pound on the years of impossible experience they require and, well, you feel like an utter failure by 30.
In Silicon Valley, if you haven’t had your own start-up, if you don’t sit on a Board of Directors, and if you don’t have multiple degrees (preferably a B.S. degree, no pun intended) then you pretty much have nothing…or do you?
Let me start by saying: I am a normal girl. I wasn’t born into a wealthy family and like many alumni out there, I struggle to pay off the load of debt I owe for the higher education I was required to get to even consider having a nice salary. I grew up in East Side San Jose and my parents were hard workers who earned every cent they received. They grew up in an era when purchasing a home in Silicon Valley was common and achievable. I am not special. I don’t have a startup company in my name and I do not have an engineering degree. So how did I figure out a way to move up in my career and increase my salary? I promise you it is possible and it isn’t magic. You are never stuck in a career situation. It takes hard work, patience, failures, and diligence but it can happen.
In April 2016 I was teaching at a private school. It is no secret that teaching is one of the most underpaid professions out there although it’s the most necessary profession next to doctors and nurses. Once my daughter was born it was impossible for me to survive off a teaching salary. Unfortunately there was no way to move up quickly in that environment and raises were a joke. So I found a new job.
When you find a new job there should always be a salary increase. If there isn’t then you should keep looking. My salary went up a modest amount. This new job was a temporary position so there was no commitment needed on either side. I worked there and began looking for a permanent position when the contract was approaching its end.
In August 2016 I started a permanent position and my salary went up again. Are you noticing a pattern? Now, sure this can be risky and plenty of people stay at a job for 10 years and wait patiently for their pay raise but that is not the way to quickly increase your salary. My aunt has always told me: “You never owe an employer anything. They are not committed to you and you never have to be committed to them.”
Shortly after landing this full-time permanent role, someone reached out to me about a new position that I considered my ultimate “dream job.” I took it and guess what…my salary went up again. Needless to say the dream job didn’t work out because it was an environment immersed with manipulation and bullying. I was the victim of bullying and had to quit on the spot to ensure my mental health was safe. A link to the full story on my bullying experience is at the end of this post.
Fortunately with all my work experience and skills I landed a new job right away. Throughout this experience my salary went up 35K in just 9 months. The simple answer: switch jobs frequently but just know that employers will ask you why you had short time periods at each job so be prepared to give them legitimate reasons.
I did and it worked!
Read about my bullying experience at the YMCA:
Written by Sterp
What if you quit your day job to pursue your passion, one that truly feeds your soul with Life?
Most of us settle on a traditional job that ensures a large amount of stability. Most of us strive to control our lives in every aspect and when something unexpected happens we scramble to make sense of it and get it back under control. Traditional jobs make us feel like we have our Life under control.
There are some people though, who choose to embrace the impermanence that Life offers and who laugh in the face of tradition and structure to accomplish what the rest of us are afraid of: making your passion into your career.
I had the pleasure of working with Michael "MytyMyke" Nguyen when he was still in a traditional work environment. I remember him mentioning his DJing gigs at work and like most people I thought it was just a hobby of his. I remember thinking how difficult it would be to pursue such a hobby as a career.
I found a new job elsewhere and fell out of touch with Mike. Then something interesting started to happen. I began seeing Mike's DJ name "MytyMyke" everywhere. He was playing all over the Bay Area. He quit traditional work and began DJing full-time.
He was living his dream. He did it.
Here is MytyMyke's inspirational story on how he made his passion into a career:
1. Did you always want to DJ? When did you develop this dream?
I've always wanted to DJ ever since I first heard DJs scratching on the radio and on CDs. I was first introduced to the culture in middle school.
2. Did any event in your life influence your decision to pursue DJing as a career?
I've always wanted to pursue DJing as a career. However - I never really thought of when I'd like to take that plunge. When I was laid-off from my day job, I decided the time was now.
3. Was there anyone in particular who supported your dream? A mentor?
My friend Cruz supported my dream. He would be someone I would talk about music with in between editing my promo videos. He too wanted to pursue music so we shared a common vision.
4. Describe the events leading up to you leaving your normal 9 to 5 job to pursue your dream.
I was working for a tech company in Sunnyvale up to December 2015. I really wanted to join the marketing team because that's what I believed I excelled in. I was called in one day and said they wouldn't be needing my services anymore. I packed up and the rest is history.
5. What are some challenges you have faced?
Some challenges I've faced is keeping busy with the bookings. Now that I'm full-time I want to maximize my time as much as possible.
6. How do you overcome those challenges?
I try and work on overcoming these challenges everyday but looking at other avenues where I can provide music. Nightclubs and bars aren't the only places where I can get paid to play music.
7. Did you get any criticism when quitting your traditional job to begin your career in DJing?
Yes, I definitely got criticism when they found out I was pursuing DJing full-time. Some people would say to get a real "job". What they do mean is to get a traditional one. However, who wants to work a job that they have no passion for; to build someone else's dream instead of yours? I chose to do something that makes me happy.
8. How did you come up with your DJ name?
Actually my 8th grade teacher who also was a DJ helped come up with my DJ name. We were just hanging out after school one day talking shop about DJing and music when he suddenly bursted out "you should be Mighty Mike". After that, the name just stuck.
9. Describe an unforgettable experience you have had as a DJ.
One unforgettable experience would be when I won the Electric Bounce House DJ Contest in 2014. It allowed me to open up at the SAP center in downtown San Jose for some of the biggest DJs in the world. I'll never forget the time I got to play on such a big sound system.
10. What keeps you motivated each day?
My love for the music and upcoming events keep me motivated each day. There's always so much good music out that I want to play it out. I also watch a lot of highly skilled DJs on youtube and Facebook for inspiration.
11. What's your advice to others who have big dreams but are afraid to make the leap?
No risk no reward. Go out while you're young and pursue that thing that makes you happy. Fears can be overcome. Do it now or regret it later.
12. How many spots have you DJed?
I honestly don't know how many spots I've DJed at. Hundreds of events throughout my 10+ years of DJing has brought me out as far as Playa del Carmen in Mexico.
13. What are some of your favorite venues to DJ?
One of my favorite venues to DJ at in the south bay would be Los Gatos Bar and Grill. The crowd always brings it with the energy. As for San Francisco, Temple Nightclub definitely was an unforgettable experience. I had the pleasure of playing the main room twice.
MytyMyke said it best: No risk no reward. Go out while you're young and pursue that thing that makes you happy.
Like all relationships, my Mother-In-Law and I cannot say that ours has always been perfect. I have learned over the years that all relationships take commitment and compromise in order to be called successful. I have also learned that any type of relationship can become successful if it means something dear to you.
The Mother-in-Law Daughter-in-Law relationship has always been a point of discussion and sometimes can be quite a challenge. I am fortunate enough to have a mother-in-law who adores me as I do her. Have we butted heads over things? Of course but I have realized at the end of it all it is all because of one thing: we are both extremely passionate about our families and our love is so strong that sometimes in can get overwhelming.
My mother-in-law is one of the few people who has really helped me in learning to understand others’ perspectives and to have compassion even if I would rather be stubborn. A “perfect” relationship with her would have never taught me some of the core values I stand by today. This might sound cliche, but our relationship is stronger than ever after 7 years of mostly positive and a few challenging situations. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
To those of you who have mother-in-laws and are having a challenging time, here are some ways to transform your situation into a more positive one:
1. Always Remember, It’s All Out of Love
I cannot stress this enough. The few hurdles my mother-in-law and I had, I needed to step back and remind myself how much she loves our family and me. Again, I am fortunate enough to know she truly does love me and I do her so this reassurance can be extremely helpful in sensitive situations. Once you remind yourself of this, then her perspective begins to make sense and you can move to Tip 2: Be Compassionate.
2. Put Yourself in Her Shoes (Be Compassionate)
Sometimes it is totally okay to stand your ground on an issue however there are more than plenty of times when compassion and compromise can go a long way. Most conflicts are not going to be the end of the world and God Forbid you make a compromise! Stepping back, removing your ego, and being compassionate, will allow you to feel and do things you never thought possible. Put yourself in her shoes and think about how she feels in the situation. For example, in my case, my mother-in-law has a total of 3 children. My husband is the only one at the moment who has given her grandchildren so we are the only ones who have created a solid family structure for now. This is what she absolutely lives for and I am learning this about grandparents. It is okay to compromise for grandparents because they give their entire being to their grandchildren.
3. Have a Face-to-Face Discussion
Rather than hashing it out over text or the phone, meet and discuss your challenges in person. This is the best thing you can do and do it alone with just the two of you. There’s not much more to elaborate on with this one. Just step it up and be brave.
4. An Act of Kindness
Put your ego aside and take her to dinner or buy her flowers. Might sound petty but it isn’t. This will make her feel better and it will even make you feel good. Why would you want some long drawn out battle when this is your family? I know conflicts can get ugly and contain lots of tiny details but this isn't the point. It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. An act of kindness can really mend a relationship and can become the beginning of a successful one.
Relationships are very complex and the history of one can be sensitive. I don’t know everyone’s situation. I do know some people have truly bad relationships with in-laws that come from a place of hate but I promise you these 4 tips can even help with those. I am grateful that the 7 years with my mother-in-law has be 90% great and 10% challenge. Think about all your relationships with people who you truly love…have you ever had a conflict with them? I am laughing out loud just asking that question. I have had conflicts with every person in my life that I love and it’s because at the end of the day we have a deep affection for each other and sometimes we just get too passionate. Be thankful for the imperfections because they will teach you values that would otherwise not exist.
Written by Sterp
I have always dated Gamers so it's no surprise that I married a man that I truly believe is the "Ultimate Gamer." How is he an "Ultimate Gamer" and one might ask why is he still gaming at age 34? My husband beats games all the way through before moving on to the next. If a game is part of a series he will start with the first game and proceed in order to the last. When he isn't taking our son to Cub Scout meetings, attending family celebrations, or on a family outing, he spends the rest of his free time playing games. Why does he play games?
Before explaining, I would like to pose some questions:
Why might you be part of a sports league?
Why might you spend your free time reading? Or baking? Or riding a motorcycle with a group of friends who also ride?
You probably see where I'm going with this. My husband, my son, and I play video games because it's one of our hobbies however not everyone recognizes gaming as a legitimate hobby. I am here to tell you that it is! There are too many times I have heard things like:
"You need to get out of the house more," "It's just a game," "Video games are a waste of time, you can do so many other better things."
Imagine for one moment someone telling you: "Playing on a basketball team is such a waste of time," or "Practicing baking a dozen cupcakes for no reason makes no sense. You need to go out more rather than staying in the kitchen to bake." You may have heard such things about your hobby and in my opinion gamers get it the worst.
For those of you who have never really played video games, you may not know all the variety of games and what they have to offer. With today's technologies, video games are as social and pleasing as playing baseball with your friends and they are definitely more productive than going to the club every weekend.
1. Staying in Touch with Old Friends
Everyone knows the feeling of losing touch with great friends. Most of my best friends live 6+ hours away. Even if friends live in the same city, it can be tough to meet up with family and work taking up most of your time. One of my husband's best friends is also a gamer (shout out to Pat!) They both do not like to go to clubs and bars much and who is to say that that should be the best way to hang with your friends? My husband and his bestie spend time together playing the same game where they can voice chat via the computer, type via the computer, and most importantly strategize on how to beat challenging situations together and enjoy the thrill of achievement when reaching success. Gaming is not only a hobby, it is a hobby you can share with friends and a way to stay in touch.
2. Gaming as Family Time (Yes, I said it!)
How is going to a movie with family or playing a game of mini-golf any better than playing a video game together? Most games have a multi-player option so you are playing together in real time. My husband and I have learned to accept our son and his interests, this includes video gaming. Do we only play video games with him? Absolutely not but all three of us spend time playing the same game together all in the same room so it really is no different than staring at a television together. I would argue television can be worse in some ways. Have you ever played board games with your family? We do but we also have fun playing games in a digital environment.
3. Gaming Inspires Creativity
The Greeks have always seen the value in artistic expression and the arts are considered a legitimate hobby. If you are not familiar with video games and gamers then you might not know that there are entire conventions each year dedicated to the hobby of gaming. These conventions bring in tens of thousands of people from around the globe to all celebrate their hobby of gaming. How is this different than attending a concert? It really is not and tons of these gamers spend up to a year or more creating costumes by hand to wear at these conventions. Games inspire people to be creative and to share their joy in this creativity. Sounds extremely social to me!
These are just a few points about how gaming is a valued hobby. I would argue that gamers are forward thinking people, people who see the value of technology and will always be able to embrace our changing world.
So the next time you hear someone judge or you judge a gamer who turns down an invitation to go out because they have a scheduled raid (a raid is a scheduled fight with up to 40 people globally and can last up to 4 hours), remember that this raid is equivalent to the time and concentration spent on basketball games and guitar playing.
I am accepting of all hobbies, even those that I am not interested in. Over the years it seems that gamers get the most criticism and judgements but I know from experience that there is so much more to it than just sitting in your house all alone wasting your life away. I hope this sheds some light on the subject because our future is moving towards a future of gamification. Open your hearts to the gamers as you have to concerts, sports, painting, and all the other amazing list of hobbies!
Check out this TED Talk on gaming:
My blog post on the classic Chores and Spouse challenge:
What is your view on gaming as a hobby?
Written by Sterp
Did you know that the bouquets, chocolates, and gifts you purchase every year during Valentine's Day is in the name of a martyr and has its roots in a Pagan festival tradition of animal sacrifice?
According to Catholic Church traditions, there are a few saints named Valentine. One story paints a picture of a priest who secretly performed marriages for lovers after the Roman Emperor, Claudius II, forbade them, convinced that only single men made the best soldiers. Claudius II ordered Valentine be put to death.
Other tales of Valentine suggest that he helped save Christians who were victim to the harsh torture of Roman prisons. According to one legend, Valentine sent the first "valentine" greeting to his lover while imprisoned and signed it "From your Valentine."
Like many legends, the facts if any, always seem to be immersed within a colorful and glorified story that transcends truth and time periods. Whoever this Valentine was, his story continued into the Middle Ages and he would become the most popular of English and French saints.
Valentine's Day began as a Pagan festival called Lupercalia, celebrating fertility and dedicated to Roman gods. The festival consisted of goat sacrifices, the stripping of the goat hide, and after dipping the hide in blood, gently slapping women and crop fields with the bloody hide.
Lupercalia was later outlawed at the end of the 5th century and Pope Gelasius declared Valentine's Day to be February 14th. Only much later would Valentine's Day come to represent a day of love.
After finding out about the history of Valentine's Day, do you feel any different about it? What are some of your Valentine's Day traditions?
Written by Stephanie Briggs
I recently experienced one of the worst situations of my life, almost equivalent to the disappointment of my parents’ divorce many years ago. I am 29 years old and up to this point I have been grateful to have worked in positive environments with bosses who demonstrated the values of strong leadership: values of honesty, integrity, hard-work, and humbleness. I guess I was a late bloomer because recently I landed what seemed to be one of the best opportunities of my life until in turned into a nightmare.
Like many of my peers, I have worked extremely hard right out of college, had diverse jobs, worked with different types of people, and have been in some challenging work environments. Each challenge has been an opportunity to practice my problem solving skills and has been tolerable. I am here to tell each of you: there are some instances of harassment that no one should ever tolerate. These situations exist and their complexity can lead you to believe that you are going crazy and not capable of doing your job even though your work history proves otherwise.
Here are the signs that you might have a bully boss or that your boss is engaging in non-physical harassment. This could happen anywhere. It happened to me at the YMCA of Silicon Valley, a place that nurtures and empowers the strengthening of community bonds.
When I got the call to interview for my dream job at the YMCA as a Marketing Manager, my family and I were more than thrilled. This was finally my big break. The person I would be directly reporting to was the Director of Digital Marketing. She seemed overly enthusiastic and wanted to help me in any way possible to land this position.
Sign 1: Too Helpful, If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
The Director continuously called me over the weekend “prepping” me for the second interview. She seemed to really want to help me land this position and took me under her wing with her positive language and initiative to explain what would be expected in my second interview with the VP.
Once I got the offer, my world would change forever. The entire package was the best I have ever seen: great compensation, wonderful benefits, a pension plan, and free YMCA membership for the family. Seems that it would take a lot for someone to leave those luxuries. I landed the job and quickly realized my two directors were playing extreme mind games, manipulating everything, and sabotaging each project I worked on. Their personalities were extremely different than their helpful supportive disposition during the interview process.
Sign 2: Your Boss Spends More Than Half Their Time Gossiping to You and Warning You of Politics, Huge Red Flag
Usually the first few days of a new job consists of training and learning about the resources you will need to complete your projects successfully. My first few days and everyday after that consisted of my directors explaining to me how to watch my back due to the politics of everything. As a new employee and a dedicated hard-worker, I reacted in a polite manner and did not partake in any gossip sessions. I just wanted to learn about my role and successfully deliver on my projects. This, however, was not an acceptable route to them and they shunned me for not partaking in their toxic behavior.
Sign 3: Your Boss Gives You Feedback and Later Says Something Different
Every past employer of mine could tell you that I do great with constructive criticism and use the feedback to improve my skills. The first few pieces of feedback I received at the YMCA seemed logical so I applied that feedback to my future projects. My directors would flip flop and confuse me making instructions and expectations unclear. When I say my directors flip flopped I am not talking about day-to-day decisions changing due to business needs. I have worked in very innovative environments like Apple and NASA where you have to be prepared for things to instantly change but the type of flip flop behavior I experienced at the Y was not due to the needs of the business.
Joe, when you write Facebook content, include a link in almost every post so the customer can learn more, like a link to a PDF flyer with more information.
This is basic feedback that can easily be fixed but what if later your director disapproves of a post that includes a PDF link and says something like: if a customer is using their mobile device and they try to open a PDF, it just doesn’t work well. This statement is ridiculous and this exact example happened to me. My director said this in front of an executive during my 30-day review even though the prior week she told me to include PDF links. This is only one example of many over the course of a month.
Sign 4: Not Getting Any Credit for Projects You Completed
My bosses intentionally sabotaged multiple projects I completed and never gave me credit for those projects. Do not mistake this for getting a pat on the back for a job well done. I completed multiple projects that my director failed to mention during my 30-day review. Instead she mentioned a couple of projects that she claimed I did not deliver on and were poor quality. I actually completed things she asked me to complete. I was asked to create a flyer that would later be posted to Facebook. She and my other director edited the flyer and even gave their feedback along the way only to tell me the next day that they were not going to use it because it did not add value to the company. In retrospect, this flyer totally could have been posted. I know it would have added value to the YMCA brand.
Sign 5: Getting Assigned Projects and Often They Are Not Used
Again, I am not referring to situations where an event causes a change to happen. I am referring to a horrible pattern where you are asked to work on projects and once completed they are thrown out the window. This is a red flag that you are being set up for failure because while you are investing your time working on these things, later when they are thrown out, your bully boss can say you did not deliver on other projects which were never clearly given to you.
Sign 6: Go With Your Instinct, Especially If You Feel Physically Ill Each Day
Lastly, go with your instinct. Although it is not written in stone that your colleagues have to speak to you, if you are a boss or manager you have a responsibility to communicate with your employees. These directors would give me the middle school cold shoulder and not say a peep to me on certain days even though they giggled happily with everyone else around me.
There is a certain degree of professional challenges that we have to endure but no one should ever have to deal with extreme bullying and non-physical harassment in a professional setting. Unfortunately, everyone I have told this story to, tells me they have experienced it at some point in their life and yet everyone is quiet about it. When the culture of a company drives out top talent, the company’s future is at risk.
After a month at the YMCA of Silicon Valley, I quit on the spot, something I have never done at any job in my entire career. I wrote and sent a letter to the CEO about my experience. She read it and I was able to provide details to their executives but that’s where it ended. We must speak up about these experiences and keep them documented because it’s the only way to stand up to bullies in the workplace.
What experiences have you had with bullies in the workplace and how did you stand up for yourself?
Written by Stephanie Briggs
Looking for some fun things to do with your family this holiday season? My gift to you: a bay area holiday guide to build new family memories this year!
1. Great America’s Winterfest
If you grew up in the bay then you probably have an interesting relationship with Paramount’s Great America. This was the first place my parent’s ever dropped me off with my friends and one of the first places where my friends and I met up with boys from our school. Winterfest will be packed with activities like ornament decorating, ice skating, reindeer petting and Great America will be providing holiday-themed shows.
For more information:
2. Winchester Mystery House
Spend an evening touring the famous Winchester mansion and see 20 decadent Christmas trees, listen to carols and hear the tales of a Christmas from long ago.
For more information:
3. San Jose's Downtown Ice
San Jose’s Downtown Ice has been providing family fun for 21 years. Centered in the heart of downtown San Jose, you can’t go wrong with a night on the ice. This year, Downtown Ice has partnered with Hawaiian Airlines and is offering 5% off roundtrip tickets to Hawaii.
For more information on Hawaiian Airlines promo:
For more information on Downtown Ice:
4. Christmas in the Park
If you are enjoying an evening at Downtown Ice then you can take the festivities across the street to Christmas in the Park where delicious warm hot chocolate beckons bay area families each year. Check out the beautiful lights in the evening or bring your children to free holiday arts and crafts every Saturday from 11am - 2pm.
For more information:
5. Fantasy of Lights - Vasona Lake County Park
Drive through an epic display of animated lights and holiday fun in Los Gatos. Families have been experiencing this holiday wonderland since 1998 and the tradition has become environmentally friendly with the use of LED lighting. Tickets must be purchased in advance to attend.
For more information:
6. The Polar Express Train Ride - Santa Cruz
Aboard the Polar Express in your pajamas and watch dancing chefs, singing elves, and meet Santa himself on this train ride departing from the Santa Cruz boardwalk!
For more information:
7. The Nutcracker
San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
The Ballet Stars of Moscow Company features ballet star Oksana Bondareva in The Nutcracker. Indulge in an evening of culture and art in downtown San Jose.
For more information:
8. Great Russian Nutcracker
Flint Center for the Performing Arts at De Anza College
Direct from Russia to Cupertino, you can experience the exceptional dancing of 40 classically trained dancers in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker.
For more information:
9. A Christmas Carol - Olinder Theatre San Jose
Experience Charles Dickens’ classic story come to life at the Olinder Theatre in San Jose. Tickets are only $22 for adults, $17 for children 17 and under, and $17 for seniors.
For more information:
10. Noon Year's Eve across Time Zones Ball Drop
Children's Discovery Museum
On December 31st from 10am - 4pm, the Children’s Discovery Museum will host a children’s New Year's Eve celebration with a countdown and ball drop.
For more information:
What do you have planned this holiday season? What are some of your fun family holiday
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My Mantra: Strive to be the best me and improve a little every day. Be compassionate, especially to those who may not practice it. Continue to learn and love. Take a moment multiple times each day to breathe. Forgive myself and forgive others. Read books. Live what I preach. Accept others. And above all, laugh every single day. (P.S. I have an infatuation for horror and disturbing and dark true stories.)