Another life update…

Several things have changed at Woodson – just in the time since I have graduated from high school (which wasn’t thattt long ago)…

  • Updated flooring
  • A big, heavy mat that the football guys use to practice rolls and tackling
  • Security cameras and fobs to unlock the outside doors
  • An intercom system
  • A second portable building for pre-K/K
  • New bell sounds (including funky dance music played when school dismisses)
  • Tutorial periods built into every morning and afternoon
  • New teachers, staff members and students (many in different rooms, too)

…but so many things are the same…

  • People still proudly wear black and gold.
  • The building still looks much like it always has on the outside, since being built in 1928.
  • We still call the our gyms the Old Gym and New Gym (though this is the New Gym’s 20th anniversary!).
  • There are dogs that everyone knows and loves, and we give them treats but also have to chase them off the football field during games at times.
  • You can turn to anyone for anything, and they will help you (Thanks to Mrs. Briles for teaching advice, Mrs. Matthiews for candy and Mrs. Lester for markers!).
  • We’re still a little family – just with a few different members – that works super hard, whether we are serving chili at Homecoming, driving bus routes after school, taking money at sporting events, decorating for school functions, counselling kids about love and life, spending our weekends and evenings at extracurricular functions, grading homework, making copies and lesson plans or researching new ways to present the correct information to students.

I ❤ Woodson ISD

I have been around education my entire life. My dad started out as a math teacher and head football and basketball coach then worked his way up to being principal and, eventually, superintendent. My mom has taught sixth grade, as well as family and consumer sciences, health and physical education classes. Almost all of this has been done at Woodson ISD, my second home. I started kindergarten there in 1997, as the “new” gym was being built on campus (right behind my house, since my family still lives in the school-owned, two-story house they moved into in 1991). I remember crying in Mrs. Bellah’s fourth grade classroom when my favorite childhood cat died. When 9/11 happened, my fifth grade teacher, Mr. Bundy, tried to explain to us what was going on. I graduated from WHS in 2009, after years of basketball, academic events, breakups and makeups and being taught everything from literature and exponents to lessons on how to be the best I can be and to bloom where I was planted.

Hook ‘Em

The University of Texas at Austin was my next stop for learning; as an 18 year old, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do, so I started out in business, to be generic, realized that was not for me, began writing for The Daily Texan (one of the oldest and winningest college newspapers) and transferred into the school of communication, to study magazine journalism.

Adulthood

After graduating a semester early, I wasn’t in a school setting – but I was still learning! From 2012 to 2015, I had some amazing moments (started my own freelance marketing/writing business, attended New York Fashion Week, interviewed celebrities like Ryan Gosling and made many fun memories with friends and family) and some growing moments (like a quarter-life crisis, where I didn’t get a dream job – even with a degree from UT – so had to work six jobs and live paycheck to paycheck).

Back To Woodson

I heard that journalism was a dying art, but I was determined to make a living writing…but in the meantime, as a backup, I decided to get a teaching certificate. It seemed neat to pass my passion for writing and reading on to others, especially since I wasn’t finding that full-time magazine job I wanted. When I completed my training, there happened to be an English opening at a high school near me in Austin, so I applied and made it to the second round. When I didn’t get that, though, I heard that Woodson had an opening. I joked that I should apply…and then I did. I interviewed with the principal and teachers and was presented in front of the board and got the job! My at-the-time boyfriend, Tommy, and I picked up, left our friends and beloved ATX and moved to a small town so I could teach in an even smaller town.

My Thoughts On Teaching

Pros:

  • You do get to pass your passions on to others.
  • Your work schedule is nice, with long holiday and summer breaks (You still have to plan lessons and attend trainings – but it’s better than a 9-5 every.single.day.ever.).
  • I got to help with basketball.
  • I was surrounded by other creative and caring individuals.

Cons:

  • Not everyone loves writing and reading, but some people seem to love complaining about not loving it, which makes trying to get them to learn nearly impossible.
  • Even if you’re super organized like me, the preparation never ends, since there are state standards to adhere to and essays to grade and full lessons to plan…and some kids rush through assignments and some days bring substitute teachers, so you need back-up lessons…and some schools, such as the small WHS, need one teacher covering many areas, meaning planning for four different English levels + journalism + high school theater + junior high theater.

As said, I’ve always been around education, so I heard my parents’ stories of students and classes and TAAS/TAKS/STAAR and extracurriculars and inservice. I never thought I’d end up teaching, but I was SO excited to give back to Woodson, to share my knowledge and to use my experience/creativity/organization in the classroom and beyond.

However, here are some things people don’t realize…

  • People can be lazy and rude. Yes, different personalities and interests and people are what make our diverse world so neat. In a school setting, though, a certain level of effort and respect is expected. I know perfection is impossible – from anyone, in anything – but I was surprised at how many students seemed to not care about failing grades or bad attitudes. I know school can be challenging, and balancing activities + homework + life can be a lot; I was in this exact classroom not that long ago, though, and while several people failed tests and got d-hall (myself included, at times!), there was that level of effort/respect. We knew that we came to school to learn and work and study, so there was no point in complaining – just get it done! We joined the extracurricular activities we were interested in, and we showed up to practices and games, ready to work there, too, resulting in state championship football games and competitions/trips at Galveston and gold medals, blue ribbons and pride. This year’s volleyball team made it to the playoffs, and that’s the first time that any of these high school students have done that in anything; there are many factors that could play into this (tougher competition, changes in coaching staff, fewer players, etc.), but I have to wonder about the effort + success correlation.
  • Teaching is a lot of work. I don’t think many people realize the amount of behind-the-scenes details that go into this job – even someone like me, who saw Mom grade papers after the bell rang and had to wait on Dad to get home from practice/games/board meetings. The lovely STAAR test alone leads to certain things having to be taught to certain grades at certain times, all to try and pass this one test that keeps changing and getting harder. On top of that, there are normal concepts that each subject brings – such as making sure students understand fractions, commas, cells and the history of our country – and you have to find the textbook and worksheets and accompanying texts/papers and quizzes that go along with all of that. Finally, we are also responsible for instilling these young people with deeper lessons; there isn’t a state-issued list somewhere that says this, but a. students are sometimes with teachers more than their parents and b. at Woodson ISD specifically, we’re all taught character traits – like determination, honesty, punctuality and respect – and to “be the best we can be” (our school motto:).
  • Last but not least, Woodson’s population is only 296. There are less than 50 students in high school, and these students share a building with every grade, down to pre-K. Many of these kids are also bussed in from Graham and Breckenridge, as parents like having their children in more one-on-one settings and able to participate in more than one activity. As mentioned, with a smaller school and staff, your English teacher is also your UIL and OAP director and assistant basketball coach, and your principal and superintendent teach classes and coach teams, on top of all of their other responsibilities. This is how it’s always been, and for many years, Woodson had the same staff members, who were familiar with their jobs/roles and became family. Over the years, retirement and graduating children have brought in new, younger teachers – teachers who like starting out in smaller settings. Changes are going to happen in any school, and people move for numerous reasons. It can be said that Woodson is at a disadvantage, since we’re small and in the middle of nowhere and don’t have baseball. But we do have…
    • Exciting six-man football (State runners-up in 2008. State semi-finalists in 1980 & 2001. Quarterfinal champions & state runners-up in 1978 & 2007. Regional champions in 2006 & 2009. Bi- district champions in 1993, 1994, 1995 & 2000. District champions in 1957, 1960, 1967, 1973 & 1996. The boys’ teams saw success under Coach Gordon Thomas from 1992-2002, and under Coach Reece Walker from 2002-2008.)
    • A staff that hustles and cares (Do you know these people? You probably do, ha. They’re amazing.)
    • History (such as the town being named after J.O. Wood and his son, an impactful tornado, a railroad and a Japanese balloon bomb)
    • Awesome community members (and many are graduates of Woodson AND started booming businesses here – like Jones Trailer, BJB Transport and the Woodson Inn – where other current and ex-students work)
    • A high reputation (Woodson ISD was started by passionate people who hired other upstanding faculty members…members who helped make all the positive things mentioned in this very long piece possible…winning games and building a new gym and earning awards/praises from the state/surrounding schools and sending kiddos off to state competitions/top universities/high-paying jobs…and then possibly having them come back to spread some of that goodness around (i.e. Ashlee Sullivan, Kim Miller, Nanci Baxley, Melissa Vickers and Richard Sullivan).

Life Now

I don’t owe an explanation of why I came here, how I feel about it or what I will be doing now; but, as a writer, I wanted/needed to get all of this out. My now-husband, Tommy, is working to get job back in Austin – since we miss it terribly! – and my last day as a teacher at WHS was May 23. He actually fell in love with teaching when we were here, passed his content test with flying colors, spent the last year teaching at Olney and would love to be passing on his smarts to an ATX school. Since I started my own biz in 2012, I’ve kept that going on the side, and now it’s grown so much that I can write and tweet and blog and pitch publications all day, every day.

I loved being back at Woodson, and I look forward to continuing to give back to this amazing community, no matter where I end up or what I am doing. Thank YOU for helping to make Woodson so amazing, thank YOU for making the past two years so eventful, and thank YOU for taking even a tiny bit of inspiration from this and realizing that life is short, so we must bloom where we are planted and be the best we can be!

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just 10 things

  1. WOODSON, TEXAS: I’m from this town of 296, where my dad is the superintendent of the one school, which my brother and I started going to in kindergarten; we both graduated from WHS – and I only had seven people in my class. My mom was my sixth grade teacher and still teaches there – and I teach there now, too. No, we didn’t ride horses to school (I don’t even own a pair of boots.), but yes, I love this safe and comfortable home.
  2. WRITING: I remember asking my parents to buy me a tablet to write stories in when I was so young that some of my peers couldn’t even write complete sentences yet. English was always my favorite class in school, and I created my school’s newspaper and started contributing to my county’s weekly paper. I went on to major in journalism and write for publications like Austin Home, New York Resident and Us Weekly and cover events such as SXSW and New York Fashion Week. See where I’m currently writing via my online portfolio!
  3. AUSTIN, TEXAS: I attended the University of Texas at Austin and can still hardly believe I graduated from such an esteemed school. Though I’m away from ATX right now, I’ll be back, because I love it all: Alamo Drafthouse, Cathedral of Junk, Spiderhouse, Greenbelt, The Domain, Kerby Lane, Toy Joy, SoCo, the Veloway – See a complete list of my faves here😉
  4. MOVIES: I’ve always said my favorites are “A Walk to Remember the Titans”, combining two that I love. My family and I loveee going to the theater (mainly for popcorn and previews, amiright?), and if a movie can freak me out (in a scary or mind-blowing way (like “Predestination”…WaTcH!), I love it even more.
  5. FASHION: I always joked that when I die, I want to be cremated and spread around a mall, because I can’t get enough of new trends, window displays, glossy magazines, fashion blogs, “Project Runway”, fashion boards on Pinterest and buying new accessories/outfits!
  6. TRAVEL: I am used to making 28-hour drives to different states and have visited over half of them – and maybe a third of the baseball parks in the U.S. The only places I’ve visited internationally are Cologne, Germany, and Playa del Carmen, Mexico (loved both…can’t wait to see morrre).
  7. CATS: I’ve probably owned about 75 cats, but right now, my husband and I are happily raising Catalina Crookshanks. I’ve also adopted a polar bear, and penguins = mine and Tommy’s spirit animals. Fourth fave animal = unicorn;)
  8. GLITTER: Everything is better with glitter (just look at this blog title and/or ask Ke$ha;)
  9. LOVE: I really really really do try to show love to all – why wouldn’t you? We’re all stuck on this rock together, so be nice/spread peace! Thankfully, it’s super easy to love my loved, because gawww, they’re amazing…like tooooo good to me.
  10. LIFE: Speaking of being on this rock together, remember that it’s all about balance and perspective and blooming where you’re planted and being the best you can be and breathing and finding your passion/sharing it with others and being you and laughing until you cry!
    • Balance: You will have amazing moments of triumph and happiness, as well as horrible moments of stress and sadness. Through it all, you can eat chocolate when you’re sad and happy and dream about the future while still making the most of the present. Everything in moderation, with your head on straight.
    • Perspective: When those sad moments occur, try try try to find the silver lining. Know that everyone deals with loss. And when you’re overjoyed, know that there’s a time for everything, and even good things must come to an end. ALSO, I say these mantras over and over, but I just decided to change this one to “bird’s-eye view”, so that they all start with “B”!
    • Bloom Where You’re Planted: How many times have I blogged about this? My high school English teacher drilled this into my brain, and now, I have it hung in my house and sneak it into my English lessons. You are where you are. Will you always be there? Probably not – since we’re always in a state of motion, with moves and career changes and marriage and etc. So wherever you are and wherever you end up, do your best in that very place.
      • ALSO, I’ve written a good deal about this state of motion: I used to say that life was all about waiting – We wait in lines and drive-thrus. We wait for our alarms to go off, our coffee to brew…for work to start and then be over…then wait until it’s time for dinner, bed and it all to start again.
      • Recently, however, I’ve been thinking that it’s all about change, too; my bff and I feel like we’re always…well…waiting for the next big thing! As we wait and move forward, we encounter these big life events, such as graduating college, finding a full-time gig, getting married, buying a house and having kids. I guess it isss exciting that there’s always something to look forward to…It just seems like the in-between (the “upside-down” I – and other “Stranger Things” fans – may call it) time is just…there – and this time of limbo just flies by!
      • So enjoy those little moments that do make you laugh until you cry, which can be filled with things as simple as going for a walk, stretching as you get out of bed, cuddling with your cat and this.
    • Be The  Best You Can Be: The Woodson ISD motto is a good one, and it’s simple (So why do we complicate things?): Be the best human you can be. Do your very best at every single thing you do. Period. Yay.

P.S. – Happy six-year dating anniversary to my husband, Thomas Wayne Baze. ❤

70+ English Resources!

I have only been teaching for a year and a half, but over that time, I researched numerous sites, attended several workshops and built up a huge list of resources; I teach English I-IV, journalism and theater arts…and if you do, too, here’s some assistance!

Below, you will find over 70 links to websites full of assignments, projects, worksheets and more!

I also sell lesson plans on Teachers Pay Teachers and have a Pinterest board dedicated to all this creative/hard work we put in! Follow me! Tell me what awesome links I left out! We’re all in this together…(cue High School Musical dance;)!

ENGLISH

General Lesson Plans (with some linked directly to my fave page on the site!)

http://www.varsitytutors.com/englishteacher

Grammar

Writing
Reading
Vocab
Worksheets/Quizzes
STAAR (resources, practice, details, info)
ACT
JOURNALISM
THEATER ARTS

blahblahhblahhh.

ICYMI, my brain is always going and going and going – even when it shouldn’t be. I just re-read my last blog post, and as I combined those thoughts with some conversations I recently had with students, I came to the following conclusions:

Life is short; I think we can all agree on that.

Therefore, if we want to spend our time on this rock adopting cats, attempting to write multiple best-selling novels and watching Real Housewives while eating desserts…that is totally fine.

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To take all these thoughts further, though, I realize I should constantly be striving to be a better version of me…right? We’re under pressure – whether that be from the media or people around us we feel judged by or from ourselves – to be attractive and kind and brilliant and fun and funny…but not too hot or overly nice or nerdy or too outgoing or obnoxiously hilarious.

This year, I feel like I’ve been in a sort of limbo, and I have been thinking a lot about who I am and what that means and if how I come across is correct or acceptable or even okayish. Furthermore, since I’m now a teacher and a wife (weird), I feel like I have to be even more on my toes…yet I still need to be myself…so I should keep living my life in ways I enjoy…but I also need to always be inspiring and educating and pushing these other people…then theyyy can live life in great ways…and thennn motivate others to do the same.

ALSOOO…

Since I wrote the first part of this blog post, I’ve had numerous other similar conversations, such as…

a. Did you know that 20 percent of people in their 20s and early 30s are currently living with their parents and that 60 percent of all young adults receive financial support from parents? Is this bad…or does this say something about today’s educational system (Hello, never-ending student loan debt) and workforce (Entry-level requirements = 10 years in a similar position – But how??)?

b. Did you know that moving back to your hometown – whether you live with your parents or not – can feel super strange, especially if you’re surrounded by people who used to be in your life, then weren’t but now kinda are…? (It’s bittersweet – Just ask me, my bff who’s in a similar situation and this BuzzFeed writer)

c. Did you know that our generation is okay with spending the majority of free time using Instagram and Netflix? Yes, it’s good to have hobbies and get outside and take tech breaks, and doing such things is easier if you live in a city or are surrounded by fun people or don’t mind getting out of your introvert comfort bubble. I am a homebody, and I admit to liking my cat more than most people – but I also travel and read and go play basketball and grab frequent drinks with people. Therefore, I think there needs to be a balance, because it’s become “cool” to be this person who never leaves home and is disgusted by everyone…but when that starts transcending into real life…and leading to unmotivated students, grouchy employees, rude people and to boring/uninspirational people in general…that’s a problem.

Okay, crazy thoughts over! What do YOU think we should focus on while here? How do YOU cope with a million thoughts/pressure/life? What do YOU think about the whole “I hate people” syndrome? When do YOU want to come watch Housewives with me? 😉

I’ll Tell You What I Want…

I hope

that I get to be creative every day for the rest of my life.

that my boyfriend and I are still cool bffs 70 years from now.

polar bears don’t go extinct.

more truly scary movies come out.

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I dream

of publishing at least one book.

of being famous…or at least rubbing shoulders with even more famous people (since 148 = not enough).

that my teeth fall out.

of traveling the world with my loved ones.

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I aspire to be

better than I am.

a happy and healthy mother (to possibly many children, all fabulously dressed).

excited to wake up 87 percent of the time, ready to conquer the day, in some way/shape/form.

someone people enjoy being around and writing letters to.

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I wish I could

get my points across better.

live multiple lives.

pay off student loans faster.

adopt/save every cat out there.

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I am a teacher.

Halfway through my first year of teaching, in the midst of preparing for the STAAR test and directing a one-act play and planning a wedding, I did a little research, to make myself feel a little better, and to learn from others who have been/are in my shoes…

 

Juice Boxes & Crayolas – a cute teaching blog – points out the following facts…

Support system = needed item (and thankfully I have great people I can vent to/lean on!)

Outlet = a creative, de-stressing way to leave the day behind you (and when I have time to blog or read or watch Bravo, it’s a great de-stressor!)

Boundaries = things that must be set, in all areas of your life, especially as a teacher, when it comes to how you interact with kids and when you leave work each day (these have been interesting/different, since I’m teaching in a town of 296…at a K-12 school with 150 kids…from which I graduated…meaning I teach people I went to school with and have known since they were conceived…and teach with some of my old teachers…and my parents)

All those little creatures = precious babies (even if they’re not pure angels all the time…love ’em all anyway!)

Celebrate the small stuff – and the big stuff!

A First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide taught me that…

Nothing is perfect (so know that not every lesson, test, day, activity will be 100 percent amazing)

No is a word that should be in your vocab (even though it’s hard at a small school, when we’re expected to chip in everywhere)

Not everyone learns the same way (so make sure you’re not centering lessons towards one type of learner, one type of student or one human being)

Raid the supply closet (especially since bratty little teens will raid your closets, leaving you with zero pens come Spring Break)

Track memories (because it will all fly by, and you’ll want to look back and remember who gave you that cute little “I Heart My Teacher” sign)

Fake it (until you make it or until you look like you’re making it enough to get through eight periods, six weeks and/or August through May)

Vent (often. to trusted people. and then suck it up and get on with life again.)

Connect with your kiddos (so that they’ll want to learn more often and so that you can learn about/from them)

Love, Teach – a blog I think I’m now obsessed with – got really real…

…stating facts on how many students this teacher has, what type of students they are, how early this teacher gets to work, how his school deals with discipline and how “even though I love my job and work harder at it than I’ve ever worked for anything, the loudest voice in my head is the one that is constantly saying you’re not doing enough. I hear it all the time.”

 

It has NOT sunk in that I live in Graham, Texas, not Austin, and teach at my old high school – that I teach at all! I majored in journalism and dreamed of being a writer, so I’m glad I still get to write at times (even if it is just sappy, weird blogging). I thought education would be a good back-up career, and I thought that, someday, it would be nice to raise a family in Small Town, America. Now, I’m here, though, and I love the joys of teaching: when I have a kid tell me he gets it, watching students work hard in class so they can work even harder in multiple extra-curricular activities, seeing them take something they know/love and combine it with an assignment, showing that they truly understand and enlightening us all! The cons are…difficult…and I know the first year is the toughest, working in a small school means I’m not just an English teacher but 80 other things, and some kids just do not want to learn or listen, and when punishments nor failing scares them…what can you do?

I, personally, can…

  1. learn from my mistakes
  2. keep being the best I can be (our school motto!)
  3. bloom where I am (what my high school English teacher still tells me to this day)
  4. get creative in finding new ways to get sh!t done
  5. and remember that I’m young, life is short, possibilities are endless, and anything is possible.

 

 

 

 

 

Falling in love with a new career

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What this first-year English teacher has learned/observed by returning to her hometown to teach our leaders of tomorrow:

  • Classroom management is key (probably the thing I keep hearing most from other teachers and something I have definitely kept in mind, for structured learning)
  • iteachTEXAS (the alternative program through which I’m getting my teaching cert) doesn’t end when you secure a job
  • People respond well to pretty classrooms (and I’m already planning how to decorate next year’s!)
  • Copy and coffee machines are equally and very-much-so important (and usually have long lines)
  • A good mix of technological and traditional teaching methods are important (and I love both!)
  • Many students think it’s okay to use texting language on tests and in essays (it’s not)
  • Never talk down to/about others (especially in a small town or as a teacher, since we’re under magnifying glasses and held to higher standards)
  • There are not enough STAAR resources out there (what are your faves?)
  • Teachers start orientations, decorating, planning and organizing in June (and don’t stop just because it’s 3:30 or the weekend or Christmas break or May)
  • Though it’s mandatory to teach the TEKS (which are tested via the STAAR test, which used to be TAKS and TAAS), implement fun & creative innovation into your lessons
  • I’m not an out-of-the-box, extroverted theater-lover (but my drama students and I have enjoyed class together)
  • Find a teacher who really knows what he/she is doing, and latch on to his/her every word (yay, mentor(s)!)
  • You’ll instantly fall in love with many of your students (just so cute and funny and wonderful and brilliant:)
  • There’s no place I’d rather teach than Woodson, Texas (and I thank the community and school and faculty/staff for welcoming me back with open/loving arms)

HAPPY FALL, Y’ALL!

Bonus: Enjoy my outfits from my first week of school;)

black lbd//crisp look w/ gold accessories//getting in gladiators before summer ends//hippiiie//and a skirt that I may or may not have word to my eighth grade graduation at Woodson!

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transition into a deeper level of adulthood – and a smaller town

Sooo…a move happened…

…and I’ll jump right in with the hard facts, then trail on for a bit, using lots of commas, like I tend to do, explaining the logistics, which I hope you read, to understand it all…:)

I will be teaching at Woodson ISD. Tommy (my bf) is training. We live in Graham.

After graduating from UT and not landing a dream writing career, I enrolled in iteachTEXAS, an alternative program with classwork and a test (I took/passed the ELAR 8-12 test, meaning I’ll be the high school English teacher:).

I’ve had a couple of other interviews over the past couple of years, but this one worked out the best; a great rental house came open, a nearby gym has been looking for trainers (more details on this later), my teaching cert expires this year, and the familiarity with the school helps!

As I explained in my application and throughout my interview process, teaching in Woodson will be a dream come true; sharing knowledge with tomorrow’s leaders is a hard, inspiring, amazing thing, and to do that in the same building where I earned an education – the one that was my second home and prepared me for being a Longhorn, interning in NYC, covering Fashion Week & interviewing Ryan Gosling – wow.

I’m honored to take the position, and Tommy is excited to share his education/skills (His certs include CSCS, TRX & NCCPT, so you should hit him up if you want to lose weight or gain muscle or stay healthy or boost your mood:). And although we’re super sad to leave Austin, it will always be a home to us, and we’ll be back all the time.

Okay, if you made it this far…Congrats! I felt I needed to explain such a big life change – a big, exciting, crazy, awesome life change.

…but now the fun stuff…

I meant to post some of this last month, but now – lucky you – you get a recap of the past few weeks, such as:

-our going-away party, which included a July Fourth full of watering holes, BBQ and giant/outdoor/alternative pong

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-Tommy’s new biz, which allows him to travel to clients’ homes and gyms (in surrounding/great/little Texas towns), offering personal training through one-on-one and group sessions (Go like his Facebook page – He’s way too talented and passionate with this stuff!)

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-and our new house, in Graham, Texas, which we’re loving

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We both grew up in small towns and sort of knew we may move back to one in the future – and now, I guess, the future is here! I’m thrilled to start teaching (so much left to do in the next couple of weeks!), excited to be in my old stomping ground (missed some people/places!) and blessed to have a BFF that picked up and moved four hours away with me (so I’m also definitely looking forward to TB Str3ngth lifting off, too!).

Thanks for reading/Bye ’til next time, -bt

How to do SXSW

South by Southwest was first held in March 1987, with an expected 150 attendees. Over 700 came, though, and nearly three decades later, the event has grown into a music-business-film haven, with over 70,000 people attending each year.

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What’s so great about it, you ask?

First off, there are celebrities:

Fred Armisen began his comic career with the short film Fred Armisen’s Guide to Music and SXSW, released in 1998.

James Blunt was discovered here while playing a small show at the 2004 SXSW Music festival.

And celebs such as Lady Gaga, Mike Tyson, Grumpy Cat, Selena Gomez and Andy Cohen flock here during March.

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There are also connections:

Hundreds of vendors and companies and CEOs are involved in the festival these days, meaning you can witness the launch of big-name brands (like [maybe] Twitter in 2007 and Foursquare in 2009), meet up with dream employers (like Nina Garcia) and hear from some of the smartest people in your industry.

Furthermore…

It’s a convergence of so many creative ideas, combined with fun marketing stunts (often involving yummy food or free swag), live music, an increase in our amazing city’s economy ($218M impact in 2013) and a great deal of knowledge (because even if you don’t buy a badge, you’ll learn something – more on that later).

So, if you’re interested in going, here’s what you need to know.

#1: Get a hotel. Downtown. Early. These babies fill up quickly, so book a room months in advance, and opt for one close to the Convention Center. Austin really isn’t that big (compared to our neighbors, Houston and Dallas), so it’ll be easy to navigate around downtown, to on- and off-site events – IF you have a hotel down there.

Even if you’re an Austinite, you should still cough up the extra cash for a room, as parking is a nightmare. Yay to slumberparties with close friends and not-as-close colleagues!

#2: Use Uber, pedicabs and your feet. Now, if you do have to meet someone at a restaurant further north or want to explore SoCo (South Congress = funky shops, bats and a great view of the Capitol), which is further south, try out one of our fun alternatives to cabs.

This is a fit city, and if you’re wearing comfy shoes, walking is definitely my top suggestion!

#3: Bring the necessities. You’ll be out and about allll day, so bring your phone charger, a water bottle, some snacks/bars to hold you over and your business cards. That’s really all you need; there are charging stations/water fountains everywhere, and you should hand your cards out to literally everyone you meet – After sending out follow-up emails a few weeks later, you never know who could turn into a client/partner/friend.

#4: Dress accordingly. ATX is amazing in the spring, and since you’ll be walking/surrounded by people, you should dress for warm weather. Since it IS a festival and a hippie town, you can get away with some Coachella-inspired pieces, but it IS also a networking event, so we don’t need flip-flops or bra straps.

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(This fur-over-dress lookskirt with festival-inspired twists and dressed-up fringe are a few examples from my closet.)

#5: Don’t buy a badge. This final piece of advice may surprise you, but I’m sticking with it. Badges are expensive, and unless you’re actually working towards being the next Zuckerberg, realllly into unknown films or a total music person, then I wouldn’t get one. There are SO many free things to attend, and just walking around downtown will lead you to spot celebs, stumble upon surprise concerts, hear some inspirational talks, soak up the culture and get a load of free goodies.

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If you have some spare time to explore the city (you won’t – but still), check out my list of top local attractions!

Grow Your Brand

Every day, millions of tweets, messages and posts go out, updating friends and fans on everything from how a personal workout went to what’s going on in politics overseas.

For businesses and brands, social media is a great way to keep customers up to date and become a thought leader in a certain industry.

However, one wrong move (or tweet or blog) and your reputation could be hurt.

How can you truly know what to say on social sites? And which ones are best for your company?

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…Think of your brand’s social presence as a garden:

There are some plants (platforms) that need to be tended to more than others.

Some need attention every day, while others can go a couple of days untouched.

And while everything shares the same general home and purpose, each one can be used in its own special way, for different results.

…So, to answer our previous questions, we suggest a trial and error approach to social media: Just like you must test water and sunlight levels to find the best fit for a new plant, so, too, must you gauge your audience.

Are you seeing more engagement on Facebook than on Twitter? If so, maybe you should post to Facebook daily and only tweet twice a week.

Does your business receive many comments on blogs and videos covering technological topics? Well, now you know where to put your focus!

…Mistakes will happen, and there will be days when a tweet nor a Facebook status goes out; never fear, though – The world will go on, and – if your brand has a reputation for being fair, honest, hard-working and excellent – your customers will stay loyal.

For more advice on how to manage your social accounts, feel free to review my work and contact details HERE; I’d love to help you grow your business!

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