Mission 101: Satisfy As Many Passions As You Can …

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Happiness, Maria, Personal Mission, Side Hustle, Uncategorized


~ by Maria Katrien Heslin

As a career coach and teacher of two career-related courses at Indiana University, I spend a lot of time helping people explore some of life’s biggies:

What matters most to you in life?
What do you do well that you really enjoy doing?
How can your strengths translate into meaningful work?
What big issue do you ache to solve?
If money were no object, how would you spend your time?
What’s your mission?

And many more …

The goal of this self-exploration is to help people identify (and then attain) the type of work that will make them feel like leaping out of bed with enthusiasm every morning, or at least most mornings!

For some, this professional bliss is just a dream, a luxury. But for many of us, it’s a delightful reality. And naturally, helping people achieve this success is incredibly satisfying work!

What’s even better is that when we feel content and fulfilled by work, we often find that our minds and energy are free to pursue even more interests either as hobbies, side hustles or purely for pleasure. Doing so can allow us to add a bit of lagniappe to our personal mission.

For me, this includes serving as a volunteer State Council member for the Humane Society of The United States (I love animals); contributing to publications such as Governing magazine, HuffPost and my team blog, Thrivers (I enjoy writing); and co-lauching a new organic T-shirt line called Quite The Tees (this one encompasses oodles of my interests!).

At first blush, a T-shirt line might sound like a pretty straightforward pursuit. But with Quite The Tees, my mother/artist/cofounder and I infuse a little humor, sass and smarts, while celebrating empowerment, education and the environment. Let me explain.

First, each tee features a specially chosen word or phrase intended to prompt curiosity and discourse, and each is accompanied by a compelling, short, short story that tells the tale of a woman who embodies the word on the tee.

For example, one of our words is “bibliophile,” with its accompanying story:

So Many Shelves To Fill …

No one recalled when, but it began the first time a librarian discovered a $20 bill in a copy of An Honest Thief. Sporadically, many more $20 bills would appear on the bookshelves. As time went on it was noticed that various books were missing; a lot of them.

Across town an elegant woman is putting the finishing touch on her table for a dinner party — fine china, ivory damask linens, silver gleaming in the candlelight. She surveyed the lovely room, taking particular pleasure in the hundreds of books on floor to ceiling shelves surrounding her.

bibliophile … one who collects or loves books

Next, we didn’t want our words to grace just any old boxy, stiff tee. We looked long and hard to find T-shirts that felt soft and cool, had a flattering shape and collar, and were good for the environment. Ours are made from an all-natural blend of 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton.

Bamboo is one of those amazing kind of plants because it produces a 100% biodegradable fiber and it’s one of the fastest growing plants on earth. It also can be grown without pesticides and harvested sustainably. Bamboo requires less energy and water to grow; it absorbs moisture; provides added protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays; and it contains a naturally occurring anti-bacterial agent.

Bamboo also feels incredible on the skin. It’s an especially soft and breathable fabric — cool in hot weather and a great insulating layer in the cold — so it works year-round. What’s not to like about that? The cherry on the cake is that the shirts are Made in the USA, which holds several earthy benefits, too.

The fine art of conversation is languishing as all too often we reduce it to 140 characters or we flagrantly choose the company of our smart phones over the person right before us. This T-shirt line is designed for discerning women who appreciate colloquy. We feature little known or underused words in English and other languages because we’re one world, and sometimes things are best said in French. Or Portuguese. Or Swahili.

Wear a shirt that says “limerent,” and people will talk! You’ll look smart, you’ll inspire curiosity, and perhaps some actual communication and connection will spark.

A portion of profits from the sales of our Tees will go toward supporting the missions of organizations that benefit three of our favorite Es: empowerment, education and the environment. If you are part of such a group and would like to explore a partnership, we’d love to connect with you.

Quite The Tees is a fun and meaningful pursuit that allows me — when I’m not coaching, teaching, advocating or writing — to indulge in a little creativity; share my fondness of fashion, comfort, communication and language; and support some causes I care about deeply.

Mission accomplished.


by Maria Katrien Heslin | website | email | Twitter | LinkedIn










Think Anonymous

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

~ by Olivia Humphreys

Think Anonymous: How Using an Anonymous Social Media App
Can Help You Reach Teens and Young Adults

In order to be successful in PR, you have to go where your target audience is. Lately, my target market has led me to publicize on a place I never expected: an anonymous social media app called Jodel.

Marketing to teens and young adults is hard. They’re the trendsetters and move from one social media platform to another in the blink of an eye.

Add to that the fact that I’m talking about HIV and substance abuse, and they’re as interested in my Facebook and Instagram accounts as they are at looking in a phone book for a phone number.

Overcoming the stigma associated with HIV and substance use disorders adds yet another barrier. It’s even more challenging when you realize Indiana has an abstinence-only sex education policy and that the information schools disseminate for sex education may not have to be medically accurate or culturally appropriate. So, not only do a lot of teens not know about sex and STDs, they really don’t know how to talk about these things openly.

But, it does not mean they aren’t talking about sex. They’re just doing it anonymously.

Cue Jodel, the most successful social media platform my organization uses. It’s also one most people have never heard of.

In a society that often shames us for talking about sex openly, Jodel provides the perfect anonymous sphere to have these important conversations.

For those of you who don’t know what Jodel is, it’s basically an anonymous Twitter based on your location. In Bloomington, Yik Yak was the anonymous king for several years until this past summer, when it forced users to lose their anonymity. Since Yik Yak turned itself into Twitter, everyone turned to Jodel to continue posting anonymously.*

In an effort to reach more people, I started monitoring Jodel, answering any questions people had and dispelling myths surrounding drugs, alcohol, mental health or sex. I studied the platform, the way people spoke, what got upvoted and downvoted and the best ways to interact with people.

And then I started publicizing. It started with a simple post saying my organization was offering free HIV testing on the Indiana University campus.

To my surprise, it worked! In two days, a whole third of the people who came for testing – 5 out of 15 – came because of the Jodel post.

My favorite success story was the guy who posted that he needed some condoms before the weekend. I replied and told him I had free ones and that he should to come get a free HIV test as well. He asked if he could just get the condoms, and I said sure. When he showed up for his condoms, he decided to go ahead and do the test as well.

I am fairly confident I could not have had an interaction like that on any other platform and yielded the same result. Not because of my abilities as a marketer, but because people don’t normally post about needing condoms on Twitter or Instagram.

In the six months I’ve been on Jodel, I’ve had countless interactions with people regarding sex, drugs, alcohol, HIV, mental health, sexual assault and the stigma associated with each of these. And I know for a fact they are all in my geographic target audience.

While I love Jodel because the engagement and insight gained by using it is second to none for the purposes of my job, there are some pros and cons to be aware of.

Pro: You’re talking to people in your designated geographic location. For me, that is Bloomington, Ind. You can also set your location to any place you want.

Con: For those of you who have to have numbers to quantify your success, there is no way to measure who exactly you’re reaching or how many people you have reached. The only thing you can track is upvotes and comments.

One thing you can track is which Jodels are the “loudest” or have the most upvotes. This post had the second most upvotes the week it was posted.

Pro: You can easily have discussions with people about a number of topics and gain great insight into what the people in your area care about and are concerned with.

Con: Since it is anonymous, it’s home to trolls.

Pro: Since it is anonymous, you can actually address the trolls. I’ve had a decent number of people try to troll me regarding HIV, and have actually put someone so far in their place they deleted their comment. The trick is to not be mean, but instead present them with reliable information and help them realize the error of their ways.

Con: Jodel actually prohibits you from advertising a product on its app for sales purposes.

Pro: If you’re trying to give away free things as a promotional tactic or gather insight on a topic, you can definitely do that.

The moral of my story is this: sometimes to get ahead you need think outside the box and try something crazy (like posting on an anonymous social media app). In the land of social media, don’t be afraid to utilize and test platforms outside of the traditional Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Especially if they’re free and easy to use.

While Jodel may not be the exact social media app that suits you, there are literally hundreds of other apps and online forums out there that may cater directly to the audience you’re looking for. All you have to do is find them.

*Yik Yak has since returned to its original format, but the usage, at least in Bloomington, is substantially less than it was.

by Olivia Humphreys | email | LinkedIn | Twitter









Cheers To The Side Hustle!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Business, Career, Happiness, Stephanie, Success, Uncategorized

~ by Stephanie Harbison ~

I can’t believe it’s already mid-February, and more so that it is 2017! I had a nice reminder that my 15-year high school reunion is coming up this summer, which makes me think back to the days when I was singing along to N’Sync as I cruised around town in my little red Nissan Maxima. Those were the days!

Actually, it really makes me think of how different my life is than it was 15 years ago, or even 5 years ago! And that’s not a bad thing. I actually get really excited for the New Year to roll in so I can have that feeling of a fresh start and start drafting an ideal plan of what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months.

This year I decided to start on a new adventure in a side business, aka “side hustle” with Stella & Dot. If you’ve never heard of it, just think super cute, trendy, versatile jewelry and accessories. I never saw myself entering the world of direct sales, but then again, I have to eat my words pretty frequently.

But really, I realized I could make it about so much more than selling something or even about jewelry. I could use this as an opportunity to connect with other women and offer them something that makes us all feel beautiful! I was a little nervous as I started because it was a new industry for me, and I didn’t know how my professional skills would translate into this kind of business.

However, there are several main skills that have crossed over perfectly from the work I have done as a financial rep and as a recruiter! And I believe they transfer from any industry really.

The first one is prospecting. Any time you have a product to sell or a service to offer, prospecting for potential customers is going to be one of the most important things you do. Just as I work to identify my ideal candidate to recruit in my role at Northwestern Mutual, in my work with Stella & Dot I identify my ideal customer, then aim to locate as many of them as possible. This might be through personal connections I already have, friends of friends, or people in the community I want to meet.

Prospecting, a key transferable skill …

A great way to start prospecting is to list all the different networks you have (work, school, church, sports teams, family, your volunteer network, etc.) then start writing down as many names as possible. You will be surprised you know many more people than you thought!

Networking: fun and crucial to success

So how do you get introduced to people who you want to meet, or potential customers you don’t know yet? That is where networking comes in. The Business Dictionary defines networking as “Creating a group of acquaintances and associates and keeping it active through regular communication for mutual benefit. Networking is based on the question ‘How can I help?’ and not with ‘What can I get?’”

In other words, this is something that takes time and is going to be based upon building mutually beneficial relationships. However, it also can be as simple as being willing to introduce one of your personal connections to someone who is able to do the same for you.

You’ve heard the phrase, “It’s all about who you know,” right? Well the more people you know, the more resources you have to help you, especially when you are willing to do the same.

The next part of building a direct sales business, that I have learned so far, is to make contact with all of the people on that big list you developed. That really can be the hardest part. We all start thinking of the objections we are going to hear, so we might make excuses for why we shouldn’t reach out. I am so guilty of this!

The fact is, you are going to hear “NO” in sales … A LOT. But for every “no” you hear, you are one call (or text, or email, etc.) closer to a “yes.” It is the same way working in the financial industry, recruiting or trying to schedule a jewelry party. Objections are a part of selling a product or service, but you’ll never hear “yes” unless you muster up the courage to make that call!

For anyone who ever has thought about entering the world of direct sales, you may be surprised to find out you are joining 20 million other Americans as well. You can see why! It allows people to work from home, on their own schedules, and experience a virtually unlimited income.

However, it also doesn’t come without its challenges. While it’s been a great way for me to transfer my skills from other industries and experiences, it’s also hard work. But I’m super excited for the challenge, I love meeting and connecting with new people. Plus, I have so much fun every time I get to share Stella & Dot’s amazing style with someone new. Cheers to the side hustle!

by stephanie harbison | email | linkedin








A Crack In Everything …

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Health, Mary, Uncategorized, Wellness

by Mary Yoke ~

I’ve decided to write about something this time that is rather personal: the physical challenges I’ve faced in my life and my struggles to overcome them. I don’t know if anyone reading this has endured similar difficulties. If so, perhaps my words will help.

I consider myself to be a thriver, even though I’ve had a great number of physical issues. It always has seemed to me I’ve had an unfair amount of suffering and pain. In fact, I spent a large portion of my life feeling sorry for myself as it always seemed no one else has had to endure as much pain and disfigurement as I have. Of course, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that everyone has to go through some pain in life. It just seems as if, for some, those trials don’t show up until much later.

My pain started at age 2, when my parents discovered I had a genetic defect. Odd reddish blots began appearing on my right leg, which eventually were diagnosed as a cavernous hemangioma, or blood tumor. I had my first surgery at age 2, followed by another at age 4, then age 6, and then three more surgeries before I was 21.

At first, my doctors weren’t sure whether the tumor was a malignant cancer, so apparently, for the surgery at age 4, I was prepped for an amputation of my leg. My mother has told me how overjoyed she was when the surgeon appeared in the waiting room after the operation and said they hadn’t had to amputate my leg. However, my leg remained in a full old-fashioned cast for several weeks, and I remained in the hospital.

Sadly, the hospital climate in the 1950s was not what it is today. Parents and visitors were allowed only 30 minutes per day to see their children. That meant I was alone for 23½ hours per day — for several weeks at a time over the course of each of my six surgeries.

Later, in my 40s, I was diagnosed with medical Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as I tried to come to grips with the pain and suffering and feelings of abandonment in my life. Many physicians, nurses and other medical personnel in the 1950s and ‘60s often were cruel, unsympathetic and impatient with the cries and demands of small children.

I had a number of traumatic experiences that involved medical personnel yelling at me, cutting me and telling me I was a baby and should not be crying.

Speaking of being a baby, a different type of scarring occurred in elementary school since I was forced to wear “baby shoes.” In those days, baby shoes were white, lace-up, ankle-high affairs — worn only by babies. I had to wear these shoes all the way through 4th grade. Plus, I had a limp.

I know we’ve all heard about the cruelty of children to each other, and I was a recipient of that meanness all through elementary school. No one wanted to be my friend; I was not invited to any parties. I was cruelly ostracized at recess; after all, I couldn’t play kickball (the most popular game) or any other physical activity enjoyed by my peers. I literally had NO childhood friends.

Luckily for me though, in 7th grade my small country school had to reorganize and become part of a larger school system, so I was bused 15 miles away to a new middle school with all new peers. By this time my limp had more-or-less disappeared, and I was no longer wearing baby shoes, so I was accepted and actually invited to some parties — and a modest social life amazingly evolved!

As I went through adolescence and young adulthood I still had some negative experiences related to my leg: I was never permitted to take gym class, and people pointed and stared at me on the street.

Once, when I had had it with the insensitivity of strangers, a woman in a clothing boutique saw me from across the room and very loudly exclaimed, “OMG, what happened to you?” causing everyone in the store to stare. I gathered the courage to reply loudly, “I was born with a birth defect, okay?”

As an adult I’ve learned to dress in such a way that my leg is always covered (pants, high boots, long skirts, etc.). But naturally, since my leg is seriously disfigured, it always has been a source of embarrassment at the beach and when starting a romantic relationship, and I have to say this aspect still persists today.

Every single day of my life I had woken up in pain (which usually went away after I got up and moving) until recently. Five years ago I had two pulmonary embolisms (potentially fatal blood clots in the lungs) that were determined to have come from my leg. I found a new doctor, who immediately put me on Coumadin, a blood thinner, which dissolved the clots. I now will be on Coumadin for the rest of my life. The good news is that my leg pain is, for the first time in my life, almost entirely gone.

Unfortunately, I have had many other physical challenges aside from my leg. I was in a car accident when I was 21 where my face smashed into the steering wheel (this was before seat belts had shoulder straps). One of my cheekbones and the bone under one eye were broken, so I had to have plastic surgery on my face.

I had a tonsillectomy and then a separate adenoidectomy at ages 27 and 28; these were attempts to help solve the problem of my vocal hoarseness (as I was then a successful young opera singer).

Then I had a number of surgeries around reproductive issues: a C-section at age 38, followed by an ectopic pregnancy at age 40, four miscarriages, and a laparoscopy on my fallopian tubes that did not turn out well (my physician accidentally nicked an artery). This was a very painful time, both psychologically and physically, as I was unable to have the two biological children I wanted.

And, as if that weren’t enough …

In 2005 I was attacked by two dogs, who punctured one of my lungs and took a large bit of flesh out of one side of my torso. In 2007, I had a near-fatal ski accident on the top of a mountain in New York. I crashed into a steel snow-blowing gun and ruptured my spleen. That resulted in a prolonged emergency surgery and a week in intensive care followed by another week in a regular hospital room. Suffice it to say I have many, many scars of all types!

So, what have I learned? Well, this lengthy history and my attempts to deal with it all caused me to seek therapy. Fortunately, I found a wonderful woman in New York who was immensely helpful for more than 10 years. I will be forever grateful to her.

I also found yoga and meditation, and these practices have pulled me through many dark times and helped me have some compassion for myself. In essence, that is the journey: to move from self-hate (I aggressively hated my leg) to self-compassion.

Although I’ve had many major physical issues, on a day-to-day basis I’ve always been robustly healthy — almost never sick in any way. I tell myself I’m never going to have surgery again, but obviously there are unknowns.

Being in my 60s now, I am aware of joint pain and bottom-of-the-foot pain (in both feet) that seem to be rather normal for people my age. However, as a former exercise physiologist and current health behavior academic, I am determined to stay fit for the long run.
My leg has taught me to be resilient. Suffering and pain are transient; there is always a strengthening of the pain, and then a lessening. It almost always passes, and we must let it go.

And it’s important to let go of how you think the world should be. In my case I needed to let go of the idea that life was unfair, that I somehow had gotten a bad deal, and that my body and childhood experiences were not as good as everyone else’s. This caused me to be flooded with self-pity and to feel like a victim for many years.

Is there value in suffering? Well, I think the long view is that it’s important to be compassionate, and my own challenges have helped me be more understanding of the difficulties of others. When we have pain, we have two choices: we can either bemoan our condition (this is where I was stuck), or we can accept it and use it as a vehicle for transformation and personal growth.

I have long loved the following poem by Leonard Cohen:

Ring the bells that still can ring.

Forget your perfect offering.

There is a crack in everything.

That’s how the light gets in.

What a radical idea — perhaps accepting the brokenness and imperfections of our physical condition, the brokenness of our past experiences — perhaps that is how we can be filled with light and move forward and upward to full thriving.

by Mary Yoke | email | facebook | linkedin





Don’t Let The Big Dogs Scare You

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Communications, Interview, Olivia, Public Relations, Skills, Uncategorized

by Olivia Humphreys ~

A Tale about Communication, Adoption and The NFL

My boyfriend and I recently adopted the world’s sweetest dog, Flora, from the Clay County Humane Society. According to the shelter, she is a lab/terrier mix, almost two years old, and was brought in as a stray by the police.

She’s actually as sweet as she looks!
She’s actually as sweet as she looks!

Now that we’ve had Flora for a few months, we know what she likes and what she doesn’t like.

What she likes: snuggling, terrorizing the cat, chewing on bones and sticks, Puggles (her best friend at the dog park is a Puggle named Roxy), and playing chase and wrestling with small dogs.

You don’t even have to be sitting down for her to want to snuggle.
You don’t even have to be sitting down for her to want to snuggle.

What she doesn’t like: being left at home, retrieving balls, being introduced to new people, when new people try to pet her, and big dogs.

For the most part, she gets along just fine with bigger dogs. But about once a month, typically when she’s chasing a Puggle, a few big dogs will start to join in the fun and Flora’s reaction is to become incredibly submissive, roll over and cower.

When this happens, the other dogs will pick up on her energy, begin nipping at her and refuse to let her run away. There’s typically a lot of barking, yelping, teeth baring, and people trying to corral their dogs when this happens.

So far, she’s come out of each attack unscathed physically. Mentally, she’s set back a few weeks and it takes a lot of coaxing and interactions with nice big dogs to get her comfortable with them again.

So at this point, you’re probably like, this is a nice story, but what does this have to do with me?

If you’re a person who can go through life completely confident in every social situation you’re ever in, then absolutely nothing. You can stop reading now because you probably won’t learn anything else.

But if you’re like the rest of the world, chances are there are situations that make you wish you could cower and run away to your happy place.

For a lot of people, this situation occurs when you do something Flora doesn’t like to do either: meet new people for the first time.

Going up and talking to someone is incredibly terrifying. Trust me, I know. But if you’re a person working in the communication industry, you have to learn how to overcome it in order to start networking.

There’s one experience that helped me overcome my fear of talking to people, and it didn’t happen in college. It happened at Super Bowl Media Day in 2012, when I was a senior in high school.

Me with the other contest winners.
Me with the other contest winners.

I won a competition for high school sports journalists that enabled me to go to Super Bowl Media Day. I assumed it would be set up like a regular press conference and I would sit there and watch all of these professional journalists interview Tom Brady and Eli Manning and a few of the other players and coaches.

Man, was I wrong.

Basically, the event takes place on the entire field. There are booths set up for the star players to sit in and everyone else on the team wanders around the field with all of the journalists.

Andre Brown from the NY Giants
Andre Brown from the NY Giants.

So, picture this in your head. I’m an 18-year-old tiny girl surrounded by these giant football players, a lot of them stars, and I can just walk right up to any of them and start talking to them.


Brian Waters from the NE Patriots in one of the special booths
Brian Waters from the NE Patriots in one of the special booths.

Much like Flora is now, I was a terrier in a pen full of German Shepherds, Great Danes and Rottweilers.

It was positively terrifying.

Until I realized one extremely important detail: they were people, just like me.

They were all just as excited to be there as I was and were so happy to talk to me. You can see how excited and friendly they were in the video I made for my internship at D3TV at DePauw University.*

Danny Woodhead may have been the only player on the field who was my size
Danny Woodhead may have been the only player on the field who was my size.

Although I made a fool of myself by asking absurd questions the lesson learned that day is the one that has been the most valuable to me in my career as a public relations professional. I understand that not everyone can go to Super Bowl Media Day and interview football players to get over their fear of talking to people. But for anyone in the communications industry, it is so incredibly vital to be able to talk to anyone about anything at anytime.

And when you start to see people as actual people and not their titles, it makes it substantially easier to do that.

Yes, I still get butterflies in my stomach sometimes when I talk to “important” people, but it doesn’t ever stop me from actually talking to them. It definitely takes a while to get comfortable just walking up to people and talking to them, but don’t be like Flora and let bad experiences discourage you or set you back.

So you have a choice, continue to be the terrier that cowers and only ever plays with Puggles, or be the terrier that learns to run with all of the dogs at the dog park.

*You can also read about my experience at Super Bowl Media Day here.




by Olivia Humphreys | email | LinkedIn | Twitter








My Third Act

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Career Change, Education, Mary, Uncategorized, Wellness

by Mary Yoke ~

It’s hard not to ponder the strange path my life has taken. Both personally and professionally, I’ve had so many unexpected twists and turns. Career-wise, I’ve definitely had what can be divided into at least three acts — something I would have never imagined in my 20s, 40s or even in my 50s. And who knows? Maybe there are more acts to come. Life, for me, has been so unpredictable.

In my 20s, I thought I had it all mapped out. I was certain I was destined to be a famous opera singer. Every indication led directly to that conclusion.

I earned a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in voice performance, won every vocal contest I entered, and won two large cash prizes at the culmination of the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program in 1978.

Me singing Mimi in La Boheme at an outside performance in San Francisco, 1978.
Singing Mimi in La Boheme at an outside performance in San Francisco, 1978.

Famous impressarios, conductors, voice teachers and opera coaches all were convinced I had a magnificent career ahead of me. I lived — diva-like — for music and art. This was Act One, and, like any act in a theatrical play, it came to an end — and an unfortunate end at that.

Suddenly, in my late 20s, I was beset with unexplained hoarseness. I tried everything: a month of complete vocal silence; 100 shots in my back to see if I had allergies; and a tonsillectomy, which was followed a year later with an adenoidectomy. I changed voice teachers and voice coaches; I moved to different climates. I studied the Alexander Technique. When experts said it must be psychosomatic, I entered therapy. All to no avail.

During the subsequent and devastating entr’acte, I unhappily supported myself with a number of different jobs: waitress, bartender, line cook, pastry chef, legal aide, bookkeeper, receptionist in a large car dealership, salesperson in music and clothing stores, and as a church organist.

Eventually, I chanced into the world of fitness. And so the Second Act began.

Luckily, after teaching group exercise for a couple of years (back then, we called it aerobics), I met an influential person who recommended I return to school for a Master’s degree in exercise physiology, which I achieved in 1988.

Fitness has been good to me. Not only were jobs available, but I was able fairly easily to juggle the demands of new motherhood and maintain a flexible and accommodating work schedule. Plus, a great side benefit of a career in fitness is that staying in shape is actually part of the job.

I worked first in cardiac rehab and as a physical therapist assistant, then in corporate fitness, and then in commercial fitness, all the while teaching one academic class per semester as an adjunct professor.

In 1986 I became involved with a major international fitness certifying organization, and for 30 years this company has provided me with amazing opportunities for teaching, writing, and traveling around the world to present a wide variety of fitness workshops and certifications.

I’ve also presented at hundreds of conferences and have made several online videos on a Hollywood sound stage. I’ve been so very fortunate and I’m tremendously grateful to all those who’ve helped me and inspired me. The fitness world is full of people who motivate others for a living — they’re an enthusiastic and passionate bunch!

The bizarre thing is, I never could have predicted this entire career back in my 20s. Who’d have thought I’d become a fitness presenter, educator and writer? This was SO not on my radar during Act One!

Teaching at Indiana University.
Teaching at Indiana University.

And now, surprise!, I’m in Act Three. My fitness credentials helped me land a Visiting Lecturer position in kinesiology at Indiana University. I entered academia full-time and found that I loved it.

After decades of cobbling together a full-time income from multiple fitness jobs, I’ve now decided it’s good to stay more-or-less in one place and have some job security. I’ve found that I love developing longer-term relationships with students over the course of several semesters. I am inspired by my students, other faculty, and partners within the community. I love the vitality of a college town, the vibrant action on campus, the idealism and questing of students, and the golden bubble of learning, which is the academic world.

I have a strong sense that this is where I now belong. When the Visiting Lecturer position ended, I found I was finally at a point in my life where a PhD could become a reality, and so I’ve moved into health behavior research and will receive my doctorate by the end of 2016.

I hope to stay in academia, do research, inspire students, collaborate with inspiring colleagues, and continue with my writing and presenting. I am filled with purpose and feel as if I’m on fire!

Seriously, every single day is exciting and amazing for me. I’m being challenged in new ways I couldn’t have imagined ten years ago. Even though I’m at the age where some of my friends are already retiring, I feel as if I’m just getting started on a new and amazing path.

Retirement for me? No way! I have zero interest in retirement — I feel as if I’m good to go for another 20 or even 30 years. There’s so much I want to learn and accomplish.

I guess the reason I felt compelled to write this post is that I am continually surprised at my own career path (and don’t get me started on all the personal life changes I’ve experienced) and I’d like to put forward the idea that this is possible for others.

I’ve come to believe that, in fact, we can have multiple careers within one lifetime. Perhaps this can be an important way to stay vital, energetic, curious and productive. If you’re floundering in uncertainty or in a dead-end job, take heart that life can hold something better for you that may be beyond imagining.

In my own case, I can assure you that my unorthodox and unexpected journey has nevertheless caused me to thrive in ways I could have never foreseen. Who knows what lies ahead?

by Mary Yoke | email | facebook | linkedin

Mary's photo






Surrounding Ourselves With Thrivers

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Happiness, Uncategorized

by Maria Katrien Heslin ~

We clearly live in troubling, volatile times, where stress, depression and anger are ubiquitous; personal safety is precarious; incivility is commonplace; bitterness is booming; and uncertainty and unhappiness are rampant.

For many, it’s easy to get caught up in this whirlwind of negativity. We see it all over social media, in the news, and we may hear it and feel it from our friends, family and coworkers. Some of the feelings may be easy to understand and justifiable, others less so.

One of the dangers of getting stuck in the misery swirl is that too often we allow one adverse reality to impact how we perceive other aspects of life, such as our work, health, relationships or humanity in general.

It almost seems like negativity is catching. Actually, might this naysaying vortex be socially contagious? If a condition such as obesity is, then it’s likely a social trait such as negativity is too!

In fact, studies show that when one person became obese, their friends were 57% more likely than the average person to become obese; friends of friends were 20% more likely to become obese, and their friends were 10% more likely to become obese. Other behaviors such as smoking, happiness, creativity and drinking saw similar results.

Nick Cooney, in his book Change of Heart, What Psychology Can Teach Us About Spreading Social Change, shares that researchers suggest that such behaviors spread in part through subconscious social signals about what is normal. If the person sitting next to you is eating more, chances are you will, too. If several of your friends are Debbie Downers, you’ll begin to see that as a socially acceptable condition, and you’ll take on that behavior yourself.

The good news is, that hanging out with positive, hard working, fun, spunky and ambitious people can rub off on you too! The Jim Rohn adage that we are the average of the people with whom we most surround ourselves, is far more than lore.

And that’s such a huge part of why I’ve launched this blog “Thrivers.” Yeah, like the world needs another blog! Well, actually in these turbulent times, I think the world does need a vibrant voice of optimism, energy, hard work, positivity, fun, passion and accomplishment.

For Thrivers, I’ve handpicked a handful of writers of various ages and professions, who approach life with optimism, curiosity, energy, humor and a quest to learn, always. What’s not to like about that?!

These are individuals who love what they do professionally, or who are in the active pursuit of that work-centric joy, and who, to the best of my knowledge, don’t wallow, worry or whine excessively while they find their way.

Now this doesn’t mean they necessarily thrive 100% of the time in all parts of their lives or that they always have thrived — but they get what thriving is all about and are on a quest to grow, be happy and inspire others to do the same. On top of that, they’re all people who can write well and produce compelling articles that inform, entertain and engage the reader.

People of this ilk are true thrivers, and they are rare. I’m so fortunate to know them and to have their work gracing our blog waves. Yes, I am surrounding myself with fellow thrivers, which helps me keep thriving, and you can too. Here is a little bit about each of our contributing writers:

Hannah Goodwin graduated from Indiana University in May and this week started a full-time job in the office of Indiana’s Lieutenant Governor. I met Hannah a couple years of ago when she took my class Public Relations for Nonprofits. I liked Hannah right away. She’s sweet, incredibly sarcastic, self-deprecating, bright, inventive and determined. In her last semester, Hannah took my PR Career Success Preparation class, and she may not admit it, but given the plum job she’s just landed, apparently she learned a lot. 😉 Her first piece with Thrivers is called “It’s A Numbers Game,” which clearly demonstrates the qualities I’ve just ascribed her.

After 30+ years in fitness, Mary Yoke is pursuing her Ph.D. She is warm, lively, fit, pretty, interested and downright sparkly. She knows more than almost anyone about fitness and is writing her dissertation on people’s attitudes toward physical activity. Mary’s also a fantastic yoga teacher, who loves music and plays the piano daily while overlooking a large, lush lake. Enjoy Mary’s articles A Doctoral Candidate’s Meeting and The Motivation to Move.

Kate Halliwell is an excellent writer who just enjoyed a most enviable internship in LA at IndieWire, an online entertainment publication. She didn’t exactly sit around, filing or going on coffee runs there; she garnered more than 65 bylines! Kate also is lively and witty, and she has just started her senior year at Indiana University. Kate’s prolific on Thrivers too! Check out her articles:

I’m also thrilled to have the lovely Kelly Bush on our team. Kelly is a 30-something enjoying a new, fabulous career in the New York art world after taking a less fitting path. I met Kelly years ago, when she worked as a Teaching Assistant for my father Tom Heslin, who was an IU Kelley School of Business professor. Kelly is brainy, clever, wise, sharp, tenacious and cultured. Enjoy her first Thrivers piece.

For the moment, our sole male contributing writer is Tibet Spencer. Like the others, he is incredibly likable, funny, focused, astute and positive. He is outdoorsy and athletic, and has a natural charm about him. Tibet graduated from IU in May and has just converted his summer internship into a full-time job with an advertising firm in Indianapolis. His two Thrivers posts have been particularly popular:

Next up is Olivia Humphreys, who was chosen by her classmates to be the one they’d most like to hire, given the opportunity. She’s awesome. Like Hannah, Olivia took both my PR for Nonprofits class and the Career class, and she’s such a positive force. She characterizes herself as a relaxed Type A personality and is really bright, creative, organized and well prepared. Olivia graduated in May and almost immediately began working for a nonprofit called Centerstone. She absolutely loves her job, and in The Better of Two Goods, you can see why. Also enjoy her writing about The Importance of Craft Time at Work and Embracing My Ruby Slipper Syndrome.


stephanie copy
Brand new to the Thrivers team is Stephanie Harbison; her first post comes out next week. Stephanie is impossible not to like, despite the fact she’s so smart, sweet, funny and pretty! 🙂 She is also a great writer, who is passionate about her day job and her volunteer work. She and I met a few years ago and served as leaders of a local group, the Women’s Success Network. Watch for her upcoming piece and many more.


I round out the Thrivers team, and I’m a Mindful Career Coach, who helps people reach their professional mountaintop. I also teach at IU and love laughing, writing, traveling, animals and yoga. I’ll cover topics ranging from hot resume trends to mindful leadership, career success and workplace ins and outs.

So far, Thrivers is off to a flourishing start, with more than 1500 visitors in its first two weeks. We hope you’ll check it out, be inspired, learn from our experiences and share your own. Most of all, we hope you’ll catch the bug and thrive with us!









Goodbye, LA!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Entertainment, Happiness, Internship, Kate, Success, Uncategorized

After two months of writing, reporting, and ceaseless movie and TV discussions, I’m officially done with my IndieWire internship. I’m incredibly sad to leave the friends I made there behind, but hopefully I’ll find myself back there at some point in my career (sooner versus later, please!).

I ended up with 65 published bylines on the site, with a few more pieces scheduled for publication as the year goes on. I covered and/or attended seven or eight premieres, screenings, or other events for the site, as well as some just for fun.

The cast of “BoJack Horseman” at their Season 3 premiere panel.
The cast of “BoJack Horseman” at their Season 3 premiere panel.

My final week was pretty busy with events and goodbye parties, but my favorite was a premiere screening for “BoJack Horseman” Season 3. For those who don’t know it, it’s an animated comedy on Netflix that satirizes Hollywood and celebrity culture. The premiere had a panel with the show’s stars, including Will Arnett, Alison Brie, Aaron Paul, and Paul F. Tompkins. I got the chance to meet most of them at the after party, which was super fun.


The IndieWire television team all set for Emmy nominations to begin.
The IndieWire television team all set for Emmy nominations to begin.

We were also overrun with Emmys coverage during my last few weeks, since nominations were announced a few weeks ago. We gathered in one of the conference rooms early in the morning on that Thursday with our PMC provided “Emmy NomNomNominations” breakfast and got to work! It was sort of a chaotic morning at the office, but thanks to some great organization and extensive prep, it all went smoothly.

The Last Bookstore is half museum, half bookstore, all awesome.
The Last Bookstore is half museum, half bookstore, all awesome.

I also got the chance to do a bit more sightseeing during my last week at work. I tried out the Metro bus system and ventured downtown, visiting The Last Bookstore and other famous spots. I probably could have spent the entire day just at the bookstore, but I forced myself out the door after just an hour or two.

I liked my time in LA due to my awesome job and great coworkers, but I wouldn’t put it at the top of my favorite cities. The lack of a decent public transit system is baffling to me, and I just couldn’t get used to spending hours and hours in traffic every day. I also hated the parking situation — paying to park everywhere from Target to the public library? Come on! That said, I would be happy to live in LA upon graduation if it meant I could return to IndieWire, or even somewhere like it. As long as I get to do this type of work, I’ll be happy!


Don’t make me go!
Don’t make me go!

All in all, I’m so glad I chose IndieWire over my other summer internship choices. I really felt like I was a useful contributor to the site, rather than just another intern used for fact checking and research.

The list of things I learned this summer goes on and on, but I think the most valuable lesson is that confidence and personality go a long way. I’m a pretty good writer, but I think it was my personality that really endeared me to the IndieWire staff. I made some really good friends in the two months that I was there, which has really upped my chances of being rehired in the spring. Sure, being good at my job will also help my chances, but endearing myself to the team has given me an edge over unknown candidates.

And that isn’t to say that I went in with the goal of making friends — I just found my people there. Anyone who knows me will attest that I’m far from an extrovert, but I really hit it off with some of my coworkers and found it easy to go from colleagues to friends. Obviously my work will go under the microscope if I ever get the chance to be rehired there, but I feel comfortable that I have at least two or three people in the LA office who will fight for me!

It feels really strange to have spent a summer working as a professional, doing my dream job … and now going back to school for one more year! Hopefully my last year at IU will prepare me even further for a job in entertainment journalism, thanks to my work at the IDS and my full schedule of film and journalism classes.

Thanks for keeping up with my Hollywood adventure! Here’s to many more.

by Kate Halliwell | email | twitter






Halliwell In Hollywood: Greetings From The Green Carpet

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Career, Entertainment, Internship, Kate, Uncategorized

Hello from Los Angeles!

It’s the end of my third week here, so the halfway point is quickly approaching — way too quickly, if you ask me. Work at IndieWire is great, and the days are flying by!

Mid June in Hollywood is Emmys campaign season, and there are FYC billboards everywhere you look. FYC stands for “for your consideration,” which is a fancy way of saying, “Hey Emmys voters, please watch and vote for our show!!”

This particular FYC billboard features a quote from Ben’s IndieWire review of “The Leftovers,” which is an amazing show that you should all start watching immediately.
This particular FYC billboard features a quote from Ben’s IndieWire review of “The Leftovers,” which is an amazing show that you should all start watching immediately.

Along with the billboards, we’ve been inundated with free food, shirts, pencils, and pretty much anything networks think will make us write about why people should vote for their shows and actors. I’m not complaining, but the idea that a cup of ramen or a pencil is all it would take to sway us is pretty funny. I’m never one to turn down free stuff, though.

I don’t watch “Ash vs. the Evil Dead,” but their Emmys campaign for lead actor Bruce Campbell has been pretty fun so far. New favorite pajamas shirt!
I don’t watch “Ash vs. the Evil Dead,” but their Emmys campaign for lead actor Bruce Campbell has been pretty fun so far. New favorite pajamas shirt!

My personal favorite part of Emmys campaign season has been being able to attend some of the premieres and panels that are held all over LA. I’ve only attended two so far, but there seem to be more every week, so hopefully as my bosses see that I can handle covering them by myself I’ll be able to go to more.

The event began with a tour of the exhibit, where costume designer Terry Dresbach showed us all of her amazing creations.
The event began with a tour of the exhibit, where costume designer Terry Dresbach showed us all of her amazing creations.

The first event I attended was the “Artistry of Outlander” exhibit, panel, and red carpet at the Paley Center for Media. The event was held to honor the costume and set designers of “Outlander,” which is a romantic period drama on Starz. I’ve been an “Outlander” fan since before the show even aired (I read the first book), so I was thrilled to be able to interview the main players involved in bringing the show to life.

This was my favorite dress from the show, and it was one of Terry Dresbach’s favorites too. All of the designs and flowers were either embroidered by hand or handpainted.
This was my favorite dress from the show, and it was one of Terry Dresbach’s favorites too. All of the designs and flowers were either embroidered by hand or handpainted.

I could talk about the gorgeous costumes and sets forever, but I already did that in my write up for the event, which I’ll link at the end of this post.

It looks like I’m earnestly listening to Caitriona Balfe in this picture, but I’m really just admiring how perfect her skin is.
It looks like I’m earnestly listening to Caitriona Balfe in this picture, but I’m really just admiring how perfect her skin is.

The best part of the evening was the red carpet! Technically the carpet was green, but as I learned from my fellow reporters, any sort of carpet event like this that includes short interviews, photographers, and a press line is called a red carpet. Since it was a fairly low key event, I got about 5 minutes with each person, including the executive producers, the creatives, and the lead actors! Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan are amazing in the show, especially Caitriona, and they couldn’t have been nicer. (They were both taller than me, which was amazing and unexpected, considering I’m about 6’ in heels.)

Sam Heughan’s Scottish accent briefly made me weak in the knees, but I think I pulled off a professional façade pretty well.
Sam Heughan’s Scottish accent briefly made me weak in the knees, but I think I pulled off a professional façade pretty well.

The “Outlander” event has been my favorite so far, but I also just attended another Paley Center Emmys event last night.

Since “Aquarius” isn’t one of NBC’s better known shows (and honestly, it isn’t very good), it was far from a packed house. Mostly press in the front and a few scattered fans.
Since “Aquarius” isn’t one of NBC’s better known shows (and honestly, it isn’t very good), it was far from a packed house. Mostly press in the front and a few scattered fans.

Ben Travers, the IndieWire TV Critic, had a plus one for the NBC “Aquarius” premiere and panel last night, so I tagged along for the night. We were supposed to interview David Duchovny before the panel, but he had just flown in from New York and apparently arrived too late to do interviews. I’m not really an X-Files fan, so I wasn’t disappointed, but I would’ve liked the chance to make my sister super jealous. 🙂

Gethin Anthony, who played Renly Baratheon in “Game of Thrones,” plays Charles Manson in the show. He was rockin’ the DOUBLE man bun, which is honestly reason enough why he was never worthy of ruling Westeros. He and David Duchovny accidentally dressed like twins.
Gethin Anthony, who played Renly Baratheon in “Game of Thrones,” plays Charles Manson in the show. He was rockin’ the DOUBLE man bun, which is honestly reason enough why he was never worthy of ruling Westeros. He and David Duchovny accidentally dressed like twins.

The “Aquarius” event was pretty lame, to be honest, but it was all worth it in the end because I ran into someone I used to work with in Lafayette! Taylor Gates and I worked at a candy store together in high school, and we ran into each other covering this panel for our respective entertainment news sites in Beverly Hills. Small world!

I’ve never even run into Taylor in Indiana. What are the odds?
I’ve never even run into Taylor in Indiana. What are the odds?

Overall, I’ve been loving writing up these events and can’t wait to go to more! I was supposed to cover an “American Horror Story” panel earlier this week, but it got canceled, rightfully so, because Lady Gaga wanted to go speak at a vigil for Orlando victims instead.

By the way, if you’re curious about the “Outlander” event and what Caitriona, Sam and I were actually talking about, you can read the article here on IndieWire!

Until next week!

by Kate Halliwell | @kate__halliwell | khalliwe@umail.iu.edu