5 Reasons Why Not To Compare Yourself to Others

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The mantra in our household is pretty simple: do your best. Just do your personal best.

My husband and I believe that doing your best — your very best — is the most important thing you can do, whether that pertains to grades, sports, work, personal goals, or just being a good person in general.

People tend to become unhappy when they compare themselves to others—and, often it happens when someone else yields success, whether it was something you wanted or not. Jealously is a powerful thing, and the less we compare ourselves to others, the better off we will be. The only person you should be comparing yourself to is…you. Were you better today than you were yesterday? Did you do something kind for someone that you didn’t do before? Did you set a personal goal and achieve it?

Here are 5 reasons why Steph’s Scribe thinks you should stop comparing yourself to others immediately:

Comparison is the thief of joy. ~ Teddy Roosevelt

  1. It can make you very unhappy. Comparisons are tough. No matter what, we can be left feeling like we didn’t get the proper end of the stick. I may want to have a movie-star figure, but the truth is, I’m not a movie star. Comparing myself to someone who is on camera or film all day long as their job is probably not fair to someone who is a professor, wife, mother, and writer. While I would love someone to do my hair and makeup every day and tailor a wardrobe to fit my figure perfectly, it’s not going to happen (unless you’re not employing your fairy godmother; if that’s the case, please send her my way). No matter what you want or who you compare yourself to or with, you will end up feeling miserable.
  2. It’s just not a fair thing to do to yourself. We are all different; we have different features, different body types, different minds, and different skills and talents. Comparing yourself to someone else will only make you feel that you are not achieving, when in fact, you very well may be. Stop being unfair to yourself; look in the mirror and tell yourself how great you are today.
  3. You lose focus. If you begin comparing yourself to others, you will focus more on outcome rather than process and change and growth. You have your own goals you want to achieve. Set those for yourself and watch yourself bloom. Your goals are not your best friend’s goals, your boss’s goals, or your family’s goals.
  4. You fail to give yourself a pat on the back for your achievements. So, I’ve lost some weight this summer by sticking to a plan and exercising 5-6 days a week. I can’t compare myself to people who have great metabolisms whereby weight falls off their bodies when they make a conscious lifestyle change. My weight loss is slow and methodical, but I treated myself today to a new dress. It was my goal, not someone else’s that I hit, and I gave myself a good old pat on the back and brought home a present for my closet.
  5. It can kill your creativity. If all you do is compare yourself to others, you may very well lose your creative impulses and drive. When I began writing my second novel, Baseball Girl, and I was trying to figure out the tone and plot line of it, my mother offered advice I’ll never forget. She said, and I quote her, “Don’t forget to put some of your funny stories in there, too. Don’t lose that side of your writing; stay true to your voice.” If I compare myself to others in my field, and if I allow that comparison take hold, I might never write another word again for fear of failure. All I can do is be true to my own voice, my own writing talents, and my own storytelling. But if I think I’m going to write like Tolstoy or Dickens or Anne Tyler, I might as well just quit now. The only thing I can do is hunker down and write and let my creativity flow in my own way. That’s what I owe myself. And that is what you owe yourself, too, no matter what endeavors you pursue.

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

Feel free to connect on Instagram @stephverni or on Twitter @stephverni.

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Vintage 1965: Today’s Annual Snarky Birthday Blog Post

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Vintage 1965.

It can be a little daunting watching celebrities who are born in your birth year or a year or two ahead of you grow old along with you but show no signs of wrinkles and aging. Their endless use of Botox, plastic surgeries, and hours in the gym cause you to compare yourself to them and wonder why you haven’t considered going under the knife or injection needle yourself (working out is quite possible if you set your mind to it). As much as I want to look as if I’m in my thirties, that isn’t quite realistic any more. It’s time to come to grips with aging and simply embrace it. I’ve got to face reality.

Screw that.*

Nice thought, but to hell with it.*

I hate aging. It totally sucks.*

Celebrities born in my year? Sarah Jessica Parker, Viola Davis, Kristin Davis, Paulina, Elizabeth Hurley, Julia Ormond… And they all still look fabulous and fashionable.

But let’s get real for a moment. Anyone who relishes aging is just really full of crap.* I mean, who the hell likes growing older? It isn’t for the faint at heart. Nevertheless, it is part of life, and I suppose there are things we can do, such as the following seven that top my list to make ourselves feel better about the whole damn process:

  1. Remain true to your sense of style—stay fashionable and fabulous. It makes you feel better. I love clothes and fashion. I cleaned my closet and organized my shoes the other day. Feet don’t typically change size, so shoes will always make you feel good, unlike the waistline of your pants.
  2. Stay young at heart. Laugh a lot. Enjoy life. Allow those “beautiful” laugh lines go to good use.
  3. Refrain from saying the words “remember when…” that totally date you.
  4. Keep up with current events and trends. It helps me in the classroom, and I get a laugh from students when I ask them to guess what’s on my play list and they find out I’ve got some hardcore rap among the music. I really do.
  5. Stop crying when you see photographs of yourself. Remember, those who are Vintage 1965 do the same exact frigging thing when they see a bad shot of themselves.
  6. Get excited when you get a zit! You are still like an adolescent!
  7. Stay the hell out of the sun or use mega sunscreen to keep age spots and wrinkles at bay. I like a little sun on my face just like the rest of you, but this is a big no-no for long-time good skin care and health.

Yeah. Happy freaking birthday.

I used to get excited about it, but not any longer. It just means more aging, more grey hairs, more anxiety, more dental work, and more of a need to watch that cholesterol.

I think I’ll go sit amongst my shoes to make myself feel better.

Have a great day, everyone. I’ll go away now, take two aspirin, and call you in the morning.

**(My apologies for the crasser-than-normal language. Sort of. I’m typically G-Rated; just not today.)

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Squeezing In One More Summer Read

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What I’m currently reading: In Defense of the Princess by Jerammy Fine.

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With only a couple of weeks remaining before the return to school and classes, do you have time to squeeze in one more book this summer?

I’m currently reading In Defense of the Princess, a nonfiction account of one woman’s affinity and respect for the princess culture. As a fan as well, I wanted to read something that wasn’t fiction since that’s my typical go-to type of book. I wanted to go out of my normal genre. So far, I’m really enjoying it.

But my favorite quote about summer reading is the following:

“Summer is a great time to expand our horizons as readers and to try something new, either a new genre, or a new author, or a new topic, or a new place to read.” -Pam Allyn

So, if you haven’t picked up something different this summer, why not do it before it ends?

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My two books, both contemporary romances, available on BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com.

 

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

Wednesday Wisdom From Last Night’s Paul McCartney Concert

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PART ONE: The Wednesday Wisdom Advice

“Don’t wait—if you have something to say to somebody, say it now.”

The words above were uttered by Sir Paul McCartney last night at his concert at Verizon Center in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. He was making reference to his friend, John Lennon, and regrets he had about not saying words he wanted to say to him before John’s untimely death. Regret is a tough thing to live with, for sure, and Sir Paul was sharing his own very personal account and wishing things had turned out differently.

But it’s not too late for us if we heed the advice. We hear this type of advice a lot from people, even from huge celebrities. Maybe it’s time to actually do it.

Before it’s too late.

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PART TWO: The Concert

Last night was the second time my husband and I saw Paul McCartney, and both times we caught his concert at Verizon Center. While his voice may have been a little raspier at his young age of 74, it still was exceptional. He played a lot of Beatles numbers, along with some Wings tunes, songs from some of his newer records, and even a tune that was pre-Beatles. To sit and watch a legend at work still is amazing to me. His songwriting, singing, and instrumental abilities are beyond comprehension, and he played for almost two hours and forty-five minutes.

What’s ever-charming about McCartney is his humility; he is humble and kind. He brought two women with signs up on the stage at the end of the night, and both of them had him autograph their bodies. The first woman had him sign her shoulder; the second younger girl, asked him to complete her tattoo on the side of her rib cage. Apologizing to his wife who was in the audience, he did so, in very good humor. He also teasingly asked a gentleman who was holding up a sign that read “108 shows” if he knew his behavior was “a little obsessive.” The crowd got a charge out of that.

 

At the concert.

Another aspect I loved about the concert was that McCartney made no political references or took any stances—even in Washington, D.C., which is typically a pulpit for acts and celebs to spew their political beliefs. I loved that McCartney did not get embroiled in any of that last night. He kept political comments out of his show, which was entirely refreshing.

But overall, the amazing thing about McCartney is that he gives it his all, and he tells us stories from his past along the way; his passion is not difficult to see. From his interactions with the fans, the band, and the music, McCartney’s talent is one we want shared until he can bear it no longer. He still has so much to give, and we appreciate all of it.

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

 

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Sharing Something Sweet: A Reward That Comes From Teaching

Yesterday, I popped onto my Instagram feed to take a peek at what was going on when I came across this:

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The Instagram post was written by a former student who was also one of the co-presidents of our public relations club that I advise and someone I mentored during her college years. During that time and afterwards, we became friends.

I am always so touched when someone takes the time to write something heartwarming like this. It’s the best reward one can get from being a teacher.

I am full of gratitude, and it brought a tear to my eye. It means the world to me.

Thank you so much, Rachel, for your very kind words, and for allowing me to share this on my blog. And I’m so proud of the journey you’ve taken into the world of higher education where you are now making a big difference in the lives of students, too.

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

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Don’t Put Limitations on Yourself: Inspiration to Achieve the Goals You Set for Yourself

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Writer and director James Cameron (Titantic, Avatar, and the Terminator) says it best at the end of his Ted Talk on Ted.com:

Don’t put limitations on yourself; other people will do that for you.

I typically show this Ted Talk to my university feature writing students each fall after they read a piece about the iconic director. We discuss the profile article, the writing style, the use of feature techniques, and then we talk about James Cameron—as he is portrayed in the article.

You see, when you read an article about someone, it’s from that one person’s perspective. And sometimes, he or she doesn’t get all the details, facts, and nuances correct from that interview process. Nevertheless, we walk away with a portrait of James Cameron that seems rather different from the Cameron we see in the Ted Talk. (Hence, the reason why I tend to show it in class—to see two perspectives.)

But what Cameron says at the end, that we shouldn’t put limitations on ourselves because other people do that for us, is so very true. The world is competitive, and sometimes all we need to do is focus on our goals and make plans to achieve them. As soon as we begin to doubt ourselves or decide that we cannot do something, we’ve limited ourselves.

For example, this strategy doesn’t just apply to professional goals. It can apply to personal goals…little goals that you set for yourself such as improving your exercise routine, bettering your eating habits, or losing weight altogether are fully within your own control. For me it was all three. For a while now, I’ve battled weight issues as I’ve watched it go up and down, and finally, I decided to do something about it. The bottom line is this: prior to this summer, I didn’t take the time to make it a priority in my life. I put others first. I put work first. I put writing first. I compromised my own health because I didn’t think it was important enough and I thought it couldn’t be done.

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If I can do it, you can too.

As of this writing, I have lost 20 pounds this summer, and I continue to work at it. When the semester begins, I won’t stop the practices I’ve put into place that are working because it’s important to me now and I’m reaching goals. I still have more to go, and the drive to succeed has now exceeded the limitations I put on myself.

The same is true for any goal you want to accomplish. Another example I can share with you is writing my third novel, a passion I have had since I was a teenager. I wanted to complete the writing of it this summer, and the draft is done. I have moved on to the editing phase and hope to publish this contemporary romance/women’s fiction novel in the fall.

I’m sharing all of this because I know you can do it, too.

Don’t put limitations on yourself.

You owe it to yourself to set goals and achieve exactly what you want to achieve.

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Editing my novel…outside in the sun.

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

A Little Fairy Magic … and Imagination

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Mystical fairies looking after us, guiding us, keeping watch over us—it’s not a bad idea, really. We could all use a fairy godmother or godfather every once in a while. Think about how many of us wish Harry was real and there was a place called Hogwarts; why not want to cling to the idea of fantasy? Sometimes the fantastical life is far more interesting and engaging than real life. At least, I think so sometimes, which is why I make up characters and stories and plot lines and write fiction. It’s just so much more fun to believe, I think. My husband and father think the idea of ghosts are just ridiculous, but I say…why not believe in them? And if you refuse to believe in them in real life, at least humor them in fiction.

The little fairy garden my daughter and I created a few months back is thriving. We put plants in the container, and they have taken off. I had to clip them back today because they were growing all over the space. And in this minute, magical, mystical, marvelous, mysterious fairy garden, you never know what happens when we turn our backs, or why the frog leaped off the lily pad. Who knows what they get up to in the middle of the night in there?

That, my friends, is called having an imagination. It’s called being creative. Do you think J.K. Rowling could have invented that amazing Harry Potter series had she not had one? Do you think Steve Jobs would have built the empire he built without utilizing his imagination and creativity? What would Einstein have done without his unique ability to think creatively in any situation? Would any author write if he or she were lacking in imagination? Would songwriters succeed if they didn’t listen to the music that came to them as they created it?

I encourage my daughter to have an imagination, whether it comes in the form of this little fairy garden we grow or in the articles and stories and music I encourage her to write.

Using your imagination…inside and outside the garden…is an important key to life.

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

Reconnecting with My Passion for Fashion

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Getting a little crazy with color as I try to withdraw from so much black in my wardrobe. This dress is from Boden.

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Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved fashion. About 10 years ago now, I loved it so much, I decided to become a certified fashion consultant. At the time, I taught one communication course at Stevenson University as an adjunct professor. My children were small, and it was something that got me out of the house one morning on the weekend.

I enrolled in a weekend-long intensive course in Virginia and became a local version of “Stacy London” of What Not to Wear fame. I would help women, mostly young moms who were returning to work, rebuild their professional wardrobes. I went in people’s closets and dissected their clothes, and then built a shopping list for them. And then, we would shop together.

It was fun for a while, but when it became work, I began to dislike it. My passion wasn’t fun anymore. Fortunately, a full-time position opened at Stevenson for a communication faculty member, and I was lucky enough to get the job. I put my fashion consulting days behind me after a couple of years. However, the tips I learned about dressing my own body type, along with other body types, helps me as I select clothes that best work for my curvy, petite stature.

While I may have burned out a little, I’m back to rebuilding my closet bit by bit, as I have mentioned in some earlier posts. It’s been fun to rekindle my love for clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry.

While I may be a professor and a writer, I will readily admit to being a bit obsessed with staying fashionable and trendy. I may have another big birthday looming, but I’m more determined than ever to start the school year out on a super-stylish note.

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I may not be Forever 21, but this dress is.

 

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Date night dress: Nordstrom
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Dress: Boden
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Skirt and Blouse: Loft

How ‘Call The Midwife’ Helps Us Better Understand Female Friendships

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PBS offers a lot of great programming, and I’ve been delighted with several shows that have become my favorites, from Downton Abbey to Mr. Selfridge to Grantchester; the writing, sets, plot lines, and characters keep me coming back. One show that is a must-see for women is Call the Midwife, now in its 5th season, that focuses on the nuns and midwives of Poplar, East London, and their struggles and triumphs. The show is based on the memoir by Jennifer Worth.

I’ve said it from the beginning: the thing I like best about the show is it focuses on  women’s friendships, the sincerity of them, and what makes and sustains them. The relationships highlight the support and love the women offer each other; the pure acceptance of each other and their mistakes, failures, and successes; and the notion that women are not afraid to go out on a limb and let the other know that love means acceptance of who you are as a person.

Friendships between women sometimes come easily. At other times, friendships are tested. This show proves that the underlying success of friendships is the withholding of judgment. Tender, honest, loving relationships between women are constantly evolving; and whether that evolution proves to strengthen a friendship or nullify one, the lessons we learn from Call the Midwife help us understand that it’s often a misjudgment that can kill a friendship.

Unless you have actually walked in your friend’s shoes or know the full scope and complete background of someone’s life, you honestly have no idea what her situation is—for better or for worse. That’s my takeaway from the show. More love, less judgment. It seems to work in fiction. If we examine the friendships portrayed on the show carefully, maybe those lessons have a chance to resonate in real life.

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

 

What It Feels Like to Finish Writing a Novel

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Well, friends, I’m coming down the home stretch. By next week, my novel will be written, if it does not happen sooner than that. People have asked me this question: what does it feel like to finish a novel?

As this will be the third one I have published, it feels a little like saying goodbye.

What I mean by that is you live and breathe the characters and their situations for so long, that when you’re done writing their story, their story is over, and you have to say farewell.

The creative process of actually building and telling the story is my absolute favorite part of novel writing. Rewriting, reworking, and all the marketing are certainly not my favorite aspects. As you develop your work of fiction, you are permitted to live vicariously through your characters and the plot; you imagine their paths, conversations, and hardships, and you allow them to develop and change for your reader. There is never a point in my writing when I don’t think about the reader. The reader is always at the forefront of my mind with regard to this craft. I never want to disappoint, and if I do, I promise you, it is not intentional.

As I begin to write the final two chapters of this book, knowing full well how it will proceed and how it will end, a sense of melancholy comes along with it.

I’m still on track for a September delivery, and I intend to keep my promise.

And so, in the end, when people ask me what it feels like to finish a novel, I can only respond this way: it feels as if another part of you is set free, which is wonderful, but it also feels a great deal like saying goodbye to something you love.

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signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

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Summer is Great, But Autumn is My Favorite

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I’ve already begun to look at the fall fashion trends, and two days ago I bought two new pairs of boots at the outlets in Queenstown, Maryland. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not wishing summer away or anything, but Fall has always been my favorite season.

As someone who is not a huge fan of humidity, I look forward to the autumn air that’s cool and crisp in the mornings. I love watching the leaves change colors. And, I love the look of fall clothing. Boots are my absolute favorite. I pretty much wear them from October 1 all the way through April (especially last year when April, and even May, were stunningly cool).

Elle magazine has posted its take on the Fall 2016 trends, which I’ve linked to here. Simply click to see what that publication is predicting. Some of it looks pretty fantastic—and romantic.

Some of my favorite fashion inspiration photos are below, and my singular goal again this year is to diversify my bland fall and winter wardrobe and add more color to it. Care to join me?

Photo credit: blog.boden.com
Photo credit: blog.boden.com

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Photo credit: Bodenusa.com
Photo credit: Bodenusa.com
Photo credit: Anthropologie.com
Photo credit: Anthropologie.com

Back at Camden Yards, Pangs of Nostalgia and Thankfulness

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This morning I took a ride to Camden Yards. It was surreal—like going back in time to the commute I did for many years from 1992 through 1998 when I was a full-time employee of the ballclub. (Prior to that, beginning in 1985, I commuted to old Memorial Stadium). I had to pick up something from our friend Mark at the Orioles offices for my son’s birthday. On my drive in, as I am often capable of doing, I became nostalgic remembering old times. I also got to thinking about how that job of working for the Orioles completely transformed my life. And I don’t write that lightly. It seriously did transform my life as I’ve written about several times before here on the blog.

What it also did was to inform my current job—that of professor of business communication at Stevenson University. Being able to talk about my experiences working in several different departments, including public relations, community relations, publishing, and Orioles productions gave me such a foundation of knowledge, that today, when I am in the classroom, I still use work experiences to illustrate points we learn in the textbooks we read. That added working knowledge I bring to the table helps me be a better teacher. Additionally, since I love to tell stories, it also gives me a lot of fodder; and trust me, I don’t hold back. Sharing the good experiences along with the bad helps my students understand concepts and theories they are studying. And finally, that job working in baseball also helped inform my writing of Baseball Girl, the fictional novel I published last year about life working in professional baseball, which of course, was loosely based on my own life and experiences working in the sport.

My year working for The Baltimore Sun was not an easy one, but I certainly learned a lot from it. The two years following that when I owned and operated my own consulting business taught me even more about responsibility and ownership and making the client happy. And many of those clients I worked with because I had connections to them from my days at the Orioles.

I don’t know if it’s because there’s been a lot of turmoil in the world and country lately or because I see a lot of vitriolic hate and vehement opinions on world and political events on Facebook (of which I will take no part in; you will never see me talk politics either here on the blog or on my Facebook page, because, truthfully, no one wants my opinion, and likewise, I don’t care to hear anyone else’s either), but I woke up feeling nothing but thankful this morning. I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I’ve worked hard to make a difference in each career in which I’ve had the opportunity to engage. My work experiences have helped inform my teaching, and I’ll forever be grateful for those teachable moments that help me provide my own teachable moments to our wonderful students.

And that’s today’s bit of Monday Morning Nostalgia, brought to you by a sentimental, sappy fool.🙂

xx |

signatureStephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.

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