United State of Women

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Almost three weeks later and I still cannot believe that I had the utmost privilege of attending the United State of Women Summit. There are truly no words to describe the incredible energy I felt as I entered the convention center to be greeted by hundreds and thousand of remarkable women, leaders, change makers, and activists. I am still processing all of the wisdom that was shared throughout that unforgettable day. From Vice President Biden, to Gloria Steinem, to Shonda Rhimes, the President, and the First Lady it was truly a star studded lineup of speakers and panelists.

Some of my favorite moments included listening to the Vice President stand up unapologetically for the safety of women. Not only did he reaffirm that “every single woman has fundamental right to be free from violence” but he also reminded us that we have more PicCollage.pngwork to do to prevent rape. He put out an action call to everyone in the room noting that “it is not just about changing our laws, it is about changing our culture. ” This was followed later in the day by President Obama proudly announcing, “this is what a feminist looks like.”
As I think back to that incredible day a chill goes through my spine. Something is changing in this country and I could not be more excited to be a part of this movement to stand up and fight for women and girls in every room, on every playing field, in every corner of the earth.

To catch a glimpse of the magic that was the United State of Women check out their website here and be sure to watch the video below!

Listen to your heart

Seems like these days life is going a thousand miles a minute — summer is here, work is busier than normal, and there is always an endless list of things to do. This is why I’ve found it more important than ever to take a step back and really checkin with myself.

When it feels like you can’t catch a break it is normal to get caught up in the smallest things. Each item on the list is seemingly more important than the next and it becomes almost impossible to see how it all fits into the bigger picture. Its times like these when I find myself wishing away the days, counting down the hours till I can go home and just flop on the couch.

Now normally I pride myself on living in the moment, because I know that life is short and no single moment should be taken for granted. However, it is in those moments when deep down I know something is wrong and I haven’t been listening to my heart, that I get the most caught up in the small details of life. Why you ask – well I like to be in control and when everything around me seems to be spinning I know that I can at least control those smaller details, like making my bed and packing a lunch.

After the tragedy in Orlando this past week, I was shocked into remembering just how short life really is and it reminded me that in order to live a life worth living I needed to grapple with the scary questions that were coming my way.

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In short – I made a huge life decision a few months back that will affect my future in a big way. Over time I had started to question this decision, but rather than let myself listen to my concerns, I pushed them down thinking that I had already made the decision and I needed to go forward with it. But in this last week after struggling to understand the tragedy in Orlando, I realized that life is too short to settle. So, I let all my fears and questions come rushing forward full speed ahead.

Rather than focusing on the small details of the day I took a step back and really thought about the whole picture. My biggest fear in life is not being the best me I can be, a pretty tall order I know! But, isn’t this something we should all be thinking about each day? Life is far too short, as shown this past week, to be anything but our best, and I believe my best is to be someone who affects change in her community for the better, to call out hate where I see it, and to speak up for those whose voices cannot be heard.

I had the honor of attending the United State of Women Summit this past week (post coming soon) and it really opened my eyes to all the incredibly strong women around me that I hope to emulate. So all of this is to say that this week I learned a lot of invaluable lessons: there is so much life to live, don’t let the fear of change stand in your way ,and strive to keep the bigger picture in mind each and every day.

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I would like to add that my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of those lost this past week. But thoughts and prayers are not enough! It is time to do more to protect this country against gun violence, I urge everyone to stand up against hate when you see it and call your representatives and demand they vote for stronger gun control legislation. Together we can make a difference. 

12 Signs You’re Doing Way Better Than You Give Yourself Credit For

As someone who is constantly trying to better herself and be one step ahead of the pack, I found this article incredibly comforting. Lately I’ve been second guessing a lot of my decisions out of fear that I am going to be moving backwards professionally rather than jumping forward as is always my goal.

If you are anything like me and tend to focus on what you haven’t accomplished rather than what you have, this article is for you!

Check it out here!

 

Choosing {Kayla} Joy

New experiences call for a new tagline. So welcome to the new and improved blog!

Well maybe not so improved just yet, but at the very least a work in progress. Check back frequently if you are interested in finding  chronicles of my last few months in DC before I head off to Israel.

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Pictured about: That’s ME outside the West Wing!! Maybe one day I’ll actually be invited inside, just you watch world!

 

#LifeOfAFellow

Been in DC for almost two months now. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

This morning I was looking at myself in one of the fifteen thousand mirrors in my apartment when all of a sudden I had this realization. I’m HERE! I am a real, full-time, grown up, professional. And not only that I live in DC and on top of that I’m doing the job of my dreams with my all time favorite organization. How did that happen? On my 22nd birthday a few weeks ago some asked how I was feeling in hope of getting me to break out in T-Swift feelin’ 22, but instead I said, “I feel 17!” She was thoroughly disappointed and I was thoroughly concerned.

Here I am a 22 year old college graduate in a brand new city in the job of my dreams and I’m feelin’ 17. But 17 was 5 years ago. Since I was 17 A LOT has happened. I graduated high school, I stopped dancing, I became “queen” of Texas Hillel, I made and lost friends, I had my heart broken, I traveled to 3 countries, I laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed, I found myself and so much more. So many moments experienced and moments made since I was 17 and yet when someone asks how old I am it takes me a minute to remember that I have been on this earth for 22 whole years.

So anyways, I was concerened because my life, the only one I will ever have is flashing before my eyes at the speed of light and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Through all the good, the bad, the ugly, and wonderful I don’t want to forget a moment. I just read this amazing book “Fully Charged” by Tom Rath. In it he says, “If you fail to do meaningful work that makes a difference today the day is gone forever.” For some reason that really stuck with me and I’ve been struggling with it ever since. Finding JOY in the Journey is about doing more than working towards some far off goal and rather creating meaning in every day because before I know it I’m going to be 27 feeling 22!

7 Months Till My Future Begins

Last week I flew to DC to attend a three day conference held by the Jewish Federations of North America. During the conference I was able to reunite with friends and mentors, hear from some  incredible speakers on topics concerning the Jewish community, and last but not least be reignited and inspired in my goals and dreams to move to DC and work in a Jewish organization.

Here are some of the best thoughts, ideas, and quotes I gained during the conference.

  1. It is easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your way into a new way of acting (A.J. Jacobs).
  2. As a leader you have to be really good at repeating yourself. After sharing your message a thousand times it still needs to sound as exciting and inspiring as it was the first time (Eric Fingerhut).
  3. Challenge all assumptions (Scott Brown).
  4. Designing better futures starts with designing better conversations (Lisa Kay Solomon).
  5. Making a difference starts with making a connection (Chris Westfall).
  6. The best conversation is about what your listener is thinking. How could your organization help or affect them? (Chris Westfall)
  7. Ego is a real hindrance in development work, its never about you (Richard Bennet).
  8. Update your thinking to represent the changes around you.

My own realizations:

  1. At conferences the real learning happens in the hallways, person to person.
  2. Never be afraid to ask for help, people love to share their story.
  3. A portable phone charger is a must!
  4. Listen more than you talk.
  5. Show up to meetings prepared.
  6. This is exactly where I am supposed to be. I feel an unmistakeable, irreplaceable, unfaltering connection to the Jewish people and over time my passion for this community continues to grow.

Stepping back from real life and completely immersing myself in DC, was exactly what I needed at a time in my life when the future seemed so uncertain. It is incredibly surreal to me that in just a few short months I will be graduating from college and finally entering the real world. The future that I have been working so hard for all this time is right around the corner and I plan to enjoy every moment of the ride as I continue on this JOYous journey!