Bo: The Man with No Home

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Most people around the country see homeless people every day. You may be sympathetic to them or you may be the type to tell them to “get a job.” I don’t understand the plight of the homeless.  It something I’ve never dealt with personally.  I have helped them in small ways but never really took time to talk to them.  I was walking home from a Sunday Funday this past week and I saw a homeless man. We had a small conversation.

His name was Bo. His name was the first thing I asked him. Forgive me, but I forgot where he was from originally.  Then, I asked the question I’d never thought I’d ask a person who didn’t have any place to call home.  I asked him, “how did you get to be homeless?”  He said he was laid off of his job about 6 months ago.  He used to work in construction.  When he lost his job, he struggled to get work.  He and his wife also were having issues at that time.  He was even currently, going through a divorce.  He said his wife was saying another man’s name while they were in bed together and cheating on him.  He had enough and left her.  He had been homeless for 4 months.

I told him I was sorry and continued chatting with him.  I asked him if he needed anything.  I didn’t have anything at the time but I could get him a pair of clean socks ect. He said he was fine and didn’t need anything.  He posted himself a bit off 6th and Brazos.  He never went to the shelter downtown because of all the addicts are down there.  He finds a safe place to sleep every night and that’s that.  His only possessions were two medium size backpacks.  It’s insane to me that all some people have is a bag or two.  I also had to know another personal thing…how did he get use to the begging and foraging for food in Austin?  He told me that it was just a survival thing.  You just have to do it.

For his terrible situation, he didn’t seem as down and out as I thought he would be before I started chatting with him.  In fact, he said there was an opportunity for work in his near future.  He just had to go the office and fill out the paper work.  He said he was going to go Monday or Tuesday.  I even said, “promise me you’ll go…please?” Will he go to that office for work? Who knows really.  He said he would and I hope he does for his own sake.  He was a nice man and deserves some form of small success.

I’ve always believed can you give something to a person who is homeless even if it’s not money or food.  You can give a smile or even a friendly hello.  They are often ignored and forgotten.  People forget they once had a life that wasn’t on the street.  You don’t have to be their best friend; just treat them like another human being.  You may meet a very nice person who just wants to talk for a moment because they are lonely.

 

The Reasons Why Start Up Companies Are the Place to be Employed

Tomorrow, I am going the SpareFoot ACE open house, as an employee.  It’s bizarre to think that only a few months ago, I was on the other end of the spectrum.  I can remember going to this event in January as a mere job hopeful.  I was so excited when I made the cut to get into the open house.  This was my chance to shine.  I’m not going to lie though, I was terrified. I had to battle it out with 80 other hopefuls who were wanting just as much as I did.

The nerves were high that night as I stepped into the room.  The upstairs loft in DT Austin was filled with people.  They all were working hard to land an interview with this company.  It was exciting, over whelming, scary, motivating, and so damn hot ( no, seriously, it was steamy up there!!!) Before I knew it, the open house was over and my fate was in the hands of the ACE team.  Fast forward a month or so…and here I am.  I am officially employed by this company that I worked so hard to get and wanted so badly.  Everyone wanted a chance to be in this great company and I was one of the lucky few.  I couldn’t be more grateful, happy, and proud of myself!  The world of start up companies seems to be something that excites the millenials of today, myself included. Many people want to be much like Ariel, ” a part of their world.”

But why is this so? Why is SpareFoot and other startups so en vogue these days?  I’ll tell you why…

1- The Non- Corporate Culture:

These are not the Dells and IMB’s of the world. The atmosphere is incredible! The office looks, feels, and is fun. It will never be cubical city.  It’s open.  It’s fresh! There are actually two bigfoot statues on one of the main work tables.  They wear hats.  it’s very silly, but they make me laugh every time I see them.  Need a break? Play some ping pong upstairs, foosball, or bust out a game of shuffleboard.  There is even an amazing rule that you can bring your pup to work as long as you consult the calendar to ensure no other dogs are going to be visiting that day.  These quirky personal touches are something that I really love.  The office’s personality really shines!

2- The People Employed Here:

These people who work at start ups really have it all.  They are smart, passionate, driven, and FUN individuals.  They can also party like rockstars when they’ve kicked ass at the office all day. ( It’s also great when you actually like to see your co-workers after work. ) The start ups really want you to be yourself and encourage you to not be a just Employee # 230 at the office.  Also, people who work at start ups are mostly young people. But if they’re not young, they are young at heart! The energy of everyone together is electric. Even the owners of most starts ups are young.  It’s inspiring to work at a company with such a great vision from people who are all about our age, if not younger. It makes you want to work hard and push farther into your professional career.

3- The CEO’s and Higher Ups of the Company are Accessible to All Employees:

You see these people everyday.  They say hi to you in the hallway.  The know your boyfriend’s name, your dog’s name, and they especially know YOU.  They care about everyone who is employed in their company.  The CEO of many startups will be available to all employees.  You have an issue?  You can discuss that with them.  This wouldn’t happen if you worked at Macy’s or any other big corporation. Good luck even getting an email back from them! It’s nice to know that they know who you are and how you contribute to their brand. Any given day at lunch, you could be sitting with a customer service rep, CEO, development team member, and the CFO.  This is possible when you work at a start up. It’s pretty cool.

4-You Contribute to the Growth of the Company ( In a Big Way.) :

Apple is already huge and successful. Comcast is already a conglomerate.  Start ups are filled with people who dream big and work hard to make the company so it can be the best.  They have to prove to the world that they are a force to compete with in the big business sector.  Because they have a lot to prove, the employees at the company want to work hard to make the company the best it can possibly be everyday.  When a goal is reached, they are part of the reason for the next golden step up toward success( whatever the company defines that as!)  People here at SpareFoot love to be at the office and will ryde or die to keep this one of the best places to work in Central TX. Even if it means working on a day off, they are willing to do it for the company because they want the company to succeed as much as the owners do.

5-Versatility in your Work-

I may play a major role on the Customer Service team but I have other opportunities to do more than what I was hired for in February.  Doing more than one role is highly encouraged here! I’d never get an opportunity to do more than what I was hired for in a Fortune 500 job. On top of my role, I can pick different areas to work if I so choose.  If I wanted to work in the client relations department, I could get involved in that.  If I really love training, I could ask if I could learn to be trainer for new hires.  If recruiting was interesting to me, I could get involved with that as well.  The options almost endless ( you just can’t have the CEO’s job.)  Adding to your list of responsibilities helps you grow as a person and helps you grow the company.  You may even find something you are incredibly passionate about because you expanded your job roles! It’s wonderful you can contribute so much to the place you work. It can open doors inside the organization for you. You are gaining great experience in the work world! It makes you a more well rounded and knowledgeable employee. I think that really exciting.

As I conclude this article, I am so grateful for my opportunity to work at that amazing company.  This may be something like my dream job.  I get a fun atmosphere filled with great co-workers & rewarding work while getting paid.  If you told me 6 months ago that I would be working for this company, living this life, I’d laugh in your face.  I couldn’t even imagine it.  Despite my struggles adjusting to Austin, it has been completely worth the stress, tears, and fears ( ha-get the joke?! ) I cannot wait to work hard ( and play harder) for SpareFoot. I’m finally really starting to make my footprint visable in this wonderful city of Austin, Texas.

Buffalo, NY…I am never coming back to you.  It’s amazing here.  Plus, you’re too cold.

I <3 DIY Projects & So Should You

I can’t help but toot my horn so here I go…toot toot.

I’m very creative.  I probably get it from my Grandma O’Donnell (She had art work hanging up in a local art gallery when I was younger, ya know.) I suppose I can attribute all the wacky art and thinking outside the box ideas from her. This skill has been very handy in most of my apt decoration ideas.  There was always a DIY element to it that saved me money & added beauty to the room.

Now I know what you are thinking, “Morgan, I’m not creative. I could never make something beautiful from a piece at the goodwill or garbage wayside.”  I’m here to tell you can and it’s always very simple and easy to do.  You just have to know what to look for, and you will find that gem that will adorn your walls and shelves!

Say you are taking a trip to the Goodwill.  Don’t laugh at it…I mean it.  GO TO THE GOODWILL.  You’d be surprised what’s in the store. I found a DVF skirt at the Goodwill once.  I still have it.  It’s vintage!  Go in and take a look around.  I’m not saying you have to buy a clothing item here,  but they do have great home décor stuff that you can gussy up and make it your own ( Didn’t some American Idol judge always say that phrase?)

Here are some ideas…

If you see a really ugly frame but a great picture in the frame, buy it and throw out the frame.  Get another frame of your liking for the picture. Any craft store should have a framing department to help you find the perfect frame. If you like everything about the picture but feel the frame needs a touch of color, paint the frame to freshen up the image. Lastly, if you like the frame but hate the picture, just switch out the image! Everything is customizable and good for your budget! Here are some things I did in my place….

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See! A little fixing up and they look brand new ( and nice on your wall.)

The next simple and fun thing you can create all by drinking a beer or two…or three…

All you need are empty beer bottles and craft paint of any color.  Make sure to boil off the labels before you start the project! When you complete the label removal process and let the bottle dry, paint the bottles over with any color of your liking!    AND WITH THAT…TA DAAAAA….You have new flower vases!!!  I personally think they give a funky edge to the standard vase.

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The final project on this post has been my favorite so far!  I love my handmade wall art sculpture!!! All I used was popsicle sticks from the dollar tree ( they come in packs of about 100.)  I also used thin cut out wooden shapes, painters tape, craft paint, wood glue, colored string, and my imagination!

To start, I took all the wooden shapes and started to apply the painters tape on each one.  I made different patterns and shapes.  I just had fun with it. Let your imagination run wild.  Now one by one, I painted each shape different colors.  I made sure not to use too much of one color so it wouldn’t be over-saturated with one particular shade.  As I allowed them to dry, I got started with the shape of my wall art.

Using the popsicle sticks and one of the flat wooden shapes as a base,  I started forming the basic shape.  I would be building around and layering on top on the design.  I attached the pieces together with wood glue.  Once the skeleton of the structure was dry, I took off the tape of the flat painted wood shapes an began attaching them in a way I thought it flowed.

Don’t worry if you don’t see something they way another does…it’s your piece.  Do what you want with it. Tell them to be quiet and concentrate on their own work 🙂

All in all, the projects was easy, it just took time.  I think craft/art projects are very therapeutic, creative,  and also a very THIFTY way to make your house personalized.

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There are so many other fun ideas…I found a lot on this great Youtube channel!

CHECK IT OUT AND GET CRAFTY!…. http://www.youtube.com/user/hgtvhandmade?feature=watch

The Transition to Austin…5 Months Later…

It’s been a long 5 months.  It’s been a stressful 5 months.  It’s been a great 5 months.  This has been one of the best things I have done for myself in a long time.  I needed this change so much.

Initially, I thought I’d get squared away in Austin like bees finding a honey comb.  It would be easy peasy…NOPE.

WORK LIFE:

Work was not as easy to find as I originally thought before I got to the State of Texas’ Capital city.  It was plentiful but very competitive.  Like the other 158 people who move to Austin, TX every day, we all want work.  We want it now ( and we want a good job too.) Of course, there are bad jobs in this city.  I had to kick myself in the rear when I fell prey to a Ponzi scheme. The Austin Focus was the worst job I have ever done to date. DONT EVER WORK THERE!  I was happy I was around during the holiday season so Macy’s could assist me with me with my money situation.  The Austin Focus and I were not going to work out.

I know now, that even if it wasn’t as easy as I imagined, I had so much more opportunity than I ever had in The Queen City.  I even interviewed at Dell ( TWICE! )   I did not get the positions but they really helped build my confidence during the grueling interview process at other companies! People responded to my resume ( and it just wasn’t temporary agencies.) They were good jobs!

A lot of my confidence in this new land can also be attributed to the good group of people I’ve surrounded myself with ever since I moved here.  Despite my lows, they always kept my head up and moving forward. They really were a major motivation to me.  In my eyes, they were all doing so well in their careers and I wanted to follow suit so I could afford all the fun stuff Austin has to offer! They are all so ambitious and I couldn’t be more grateful to them.  They kept me shooting for those Texas Stars!  When confidence lacked, I heard , ” Oh stop worrying and be confident.  You’ll do great!”

I finally got the job situation covered, and I can attribute that to myself and the other motivating people that gave me confidence. I was hard to stay positive sometimes but I got through it.   I’m out of the brush and walking on a clear path now.  It took longer than expected, but I got a position all on my own ( that i’m SO excited about )and I’m DAMN proud of it.  When you work your tail off for something, you don’t expect to lose.  I was NOT going to those that opportunity.

MAKING NEW FRIENDS:

 Making and forming new friendships is never as easy as anyone likes to think.  It’s actually terrifying.  As sad as I was to not have my core group anymore, I had to press on and make new friends in my new city.   I do want to give a shout out to my group back in Buffalo. I will always have them in my life! Their “good eggs” ( sometimes wild eggs!) and we really had the best last summer I could ever imagine.  I miss them every day. I can’t wait to show them Austin.

But back to the point of making new friends, I really needed to expand beyond my Buffalo Ex-Pats group that I already knew.  I met most of the new people through my current friends but they’re all really great. Initial meetings of these people is now becoming more frequent. We’re Facebook friends at this point! I’m even invited to birthday parties now! This is a big deal!   I’m really happy these new people are accepting me into their lives.

WEATHER:

This actually was never a stressor at all. I love being warmer! I was freezing. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I completely avoided the polar vortex.  It looks like it is completely terrible and miserable.  I’m sorry everyone is dealing with it up north but like Joey Gladstone once said,  I had to “CUT IT OUT!” Northerners, I still have my futon available if anyone needs a place to rest during your artic freeze.

LIVING CONDITIONS:

I honestly don’t know how individuals couch surf all the time. I wish I could have gotten a place of my own months before January 10th. There was a lack of money involved at the time so it took much longer than I wanted.  By month 4, I needed my own spot.  Oh thank you one bedroom wonder for saving me! I love my own personal space. I’m sure I saved some of my friends sanity as well.  Ron got his music room back and Kasia got her clutter free home again.  I love my space and it was worth it to live alone.  The apartment also solidifies that I’m going to stay in Austin. I’m going to prosper. I’m going to be successful in this town.  That feels amazing.

SO FIVE MONTHS LATER ( AND DESPITE THE STRUGGLES,) I’M DOING GREAT! I still remember the people who thought I was crazy, to move half way across the country ( and in TEXAS no less.) I did it…and I love it here.

STOP Saying This Phrase…It Will Get You Nowhere!

DUCT-TAPE-MOUTH

It was fall of 2012 and I was off to cash a check at the bank.  It was a big check.  This check was going to really help my savings account so I could move out of Buffalo.  The idea scared me than anything.  I thought of backing out multiple times because it seemed hard.  Regardless of the fear and anxiety of leaving my hometown for a city almost half way across the country, I continued into the bank.

I met with a representative.  She was really nice and we got to talking.  She asked me why I was saving the money. I replied, “I’m moving to Austin, TX next year.” What she said next made me feel sorry for her (and motivated me even more then she’ll ever know.) She replied with this…

“I wanted to move to North Carolina at one time but, IT’S TOO LATE FOR ME NOW.”

When I heard this, I was speechless. I wanted to just shake her! She was around my age, could get another banking job in heartbeat, and seemed like an individual who could take care of herself financially and socially. She also complained about Buffalo.  She said she was sick of her hometown. She wanted change! She would be a perfect candidate to move away from where she grew up and start over somewhere else. Why again was it too late to make her dream come true? WHY WAS IT “TOO LATE” FOR HER TO CHANGE HER LIFE?

If you couldn’t figure it out, she was afraid.  She was afraid to move, afraid to change, and afraid to take the risk.  Excuses ranged from “my family is here” to “I worked so hard to gain this position in the bank.”  This woman worked in one of those clear cubicles at Bank of America BTW! What a terrible excuse! I’m sure she could have found a lateral move somehow if she chose to do so!

Those words from her mouth were one of the many motivating factors pushing me towards Austin. Despite her unhappiness in her current state, she wasn’t going to do damn thing about it. In 5 years, you were not going to find me sitting at a bar stool somewhere around Buffalo in 2018 wondering, “what if I went to Austin? What would have happened to my life? Oh, I wish I moved!” If I didn’t like something about my current situation, I was going to change it, not complain about it until it was “too late.”

Regardless if it’s a move to another city, changing a job, or even just trying new activity you are afraid to do, it’s NEVER “too late” so stop saying that!  YOU control your destiny and future, NOT fear.  Fear will keep in you same place you were the day before and the day before that day.  Moreover, going outside your comfort zone is good for you! You will learn so much about yourself when you try something new. Take the plunge into the unknown one of these days.  It doesn’t matter what you choose. Sure it’s terrifying, but it will be worth it.  You will never wonder “what if” ever again.

Finally settling into Austin…IT’S MOVE IN DAY!

This past Friday was move in day! I moved on January 10th!

I know Kasia and Ron were glad to get me out of their house and into a place of my own but I have a feeling there are going to miss me (maybe not a lot. Only a little bit.)  I’d be happy to have some personal space back after another person has been taking up space up for three months too!

I definitely will miss those pups. I got a bit too attached to Boss and Daisy.  I MAY be tempted to adopt a wiener dog myself one day.  I told Ron and Kasia I was packing the Boss with me to my new place.  They weren’t having it.  I’ll keep trying to sneak him out.  He will be mine!!! Look at how cute those guys are !!! { How could I not want to steal them! 🙂  }IMG_3036

Per Usual, move in day felt like a long day of manual labor…which it is.  At least there was a light at the end of the other side of apartment #1004, my own place to rest my head.  Moving the big pieces like the bed, mattress, coffee table, and TV were a bit nerve racking.  Most of it was strapped on a truck.  I had visions ( or nightmares) or my few things I actually own at this point flying off the back of the truck and on to the interstate. Oh the scene on the 35 would be horrendous…cars damaged…my stuff damaged…OYE!

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THANKFULLY, that didn’t happen.

Walking into my place despite the piles of stuff just hanging out on top of my mattress and box spring over the living room was such a good feeling.  This space was mine.  It’s my sanctuary.  My stuff.  My place to lay my head.  Now I just had to organize it all.  It took all day and at night but by 7PM I was done with the basic set up.  I even got immature and named my wifi link canttouchthis…Is that weird?

I’m excited for the new start in Austin! Bring it on…I’m not couch surfing and now I can relax in my own space…now all I need is My Dale here with me 🙂

Just leaving it decorated like that! Boxes of appliances IMG_4055 poolside courtyard Relaxin' ... all  done! Welcome home! IMG_4065 My Living Room

Happy 2014!

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

 

It’s been an incredible year.  I can’t believe the changes between this January and last January.  I’m in Austin for my fresh start.  My apartment lease is signed and I am no longer a couch surfer! I move in January 10th!!! Bring it on 2014!  Here’s my 2014 bucketlist ( NOT resolutions!) I’m pretty sure things will be added as the year goes on but it will be exciting to see what I’ve accomplished a year from today.

Here goes the list…

  • Get my FT job with benefits that allows me to support myself independently
  • Get back into my work out routine
  • Read at least 1 book every 2 months
  • Get all my Dr’s in TX
  • Fix my Wisdom Teeth
  • Re-furbish my shelves
  • See more live music! ( Lorde, Arcade Fire, Young the Giant…ect)
  • Get my tattoo
  • See Sheena and Jesse and San Diego
  • Go to Las Vegas
  • See Marie in San Francisco
  • Eat Better
  • Raise my credit score
  • Save more money! $$$$
  • Buy Cowboy Boots
  • Buy a Bike
  • Learn Spanish
  • Get Dale and visit Buffalo
  • Hike the Greenbelt
  • See all the art museams in Austin
  • Visit San Antonio
  • Volunteer more
  • Get involved in the Pi Phi Alum group
  • Join a kick ball team
  • Do one nice thing per day …big or small
  • Stop negative talk to myself
  • Explore and discover new things about my new city once a week
  • Join an art class
  • Finally, Visit Mexico
  • See Bills vs Texans next fall!
  • See the WVU vs UT game next fall!

As I said, I know things will be added…ANYONE WANT TO JOIN ME ON ANY OF THESE ADVENTURES OR ADD NEW ONES TO MY LIST!?

 

The Meaning of Christmas…To me…

Merry Christmas!!!!

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.  It’s filled with family, friends, love, spending time with one another, and giving to others. Even if it’s just a hello, Happy Holidays, or a smile, you are giving to another person.  It may totally cheer up their day.  That is what this season is all about…being good to one another. 

(On a side note – This should be taken into consideration when people go shopping around this time of year. You’d think the customers are the ones having the worst day ever . They seem to forget the sales associate spends half their day being the doormat for every other person in line…go figure.  Life is tough for the holiday consumer.)

But back to the point of the meaning of Christmas…  My holiday season isn’t what who’s who and what’s what of holiday gifts.  It’s about spreading love and spending time with your family & friends.  You need to embody the spirit of Christmas.  There is one particular person I can think of that possesses this trait .  His name is Kenneth and he is a volunteer for the Salvation Army. He rings his bells and sings his whole shift.  When little children walk up to him, he lets them play his bell while he sings.  He really makes everyone that crosses his path so happy.  I cannot think of anyone I’ve come across this season that has brought everyone so much happiness.  It’s really beautiful how one person can really touch so many lives in the cheapest and simplest way possible.  There was no credit card needed for the gift he gave us all through the holiday.  He always said “the smiles are what kept him going everyday.”  I can honestly tell you that he’s perked my days up when  I needed a little pick me up.

See him in action…He’s amazing!!

Although most of my family and friends are far away this year, I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! This Christmas is going to be a bit difficult and VERY different this season.  Instead of my blood family, I have an Austin family to spend time with on December 25th.   I miss all of you very much and cannot wait to see you in 2014. I miss everyone so much and hope you have a fantastic holiday filled with love and laughs.  I will see you soon! 

CHEERS TO ANOTHER CHRISTMAS ! I HOPE EVERYONE HAS A BEAUTIFUL DAY! MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!!!