Quotes from #PoPBook

 

popbook

Knowing of Pencils of Promise, but with little knowledge on their history I attended a book signing by Adam Braun of his new book, The Promise of a Pencil at the Union Square Barnes and Noble one evening. I immediately bought the book before he started after I learned that he was donating all of the proceeds toward building more schools through his organization. As I often try to sort out my jumbled thoughts and ideas, I found both his talk and reading the book afterward a helpful guide to visualize a path where big dreams can become a reality. I wanted to note the quotes throughout the book that resonated most with me in this blog so I could always have them close at hand to reference as I walk forward into my own future.

First, even Braun’s chapter names were not just that, but mantras:

1. Why be normal

2. Get out of your comfort zone

3. Know that you have a purpose

4. Every pencil holds a promise

5. Do the small things that make others feel big

6. Tourists see, travelers seek

7. Asking for permission is asking for denial

8. Embrace the lightning moments

9. Big dreams start with small, unreasonable acts

10. Practice humility over hubris

11. Speak the language of the person you want to become

12. Walk with a purpose

13. Happiness is found in celebrating others

14. Find the impossible ones

15. Focus on one person in every room

16. Read the signs along the path

17. Create separation to build connection

18. Never take no from someone who can’t say yes

19. Stay guided by your values, not your necessities

20. You cannot fake authenticity

21. There is only one chance at a first impression

22. Fess up to your failures

23. Learn to close the loop

24. Change your words to change your worth

25. A goal realized is a goal define

26. Surround yourself with those who make you better

27. Vulnerability is vital

28. Listen to your echoes

29. If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough

30. Make your life a story worth telling

A lengthy list, but I could barely pick out my favorites. They all are such important reminders. However, here are the favorite parts of his advice throughout the book that I DID pick up:

“Where you start in life should not dictate where you finish.”

“The biggest difference between the person who lives his or her dreams and the person who aspires is the decision to convert that first spark of motivation into immediate action…Chase the footprints you aspire to leave behind.”

“Your twenties are the time to both accept and fight your way into the person you’re destined to become.”

“The purest joys are available to all of us, and they’re unrelated to status, recognition, or material desires…Spend more time asking questions that trying to provide answers. Listening intensely is a far more valuable skill than speaking immensely.”

“Even big waves start with small ripples.”

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

“People think big ideas suddenly appear on their own, but they’re actually the product of many small, intersecting moments and realizations that move us toward a breakthrough.”

“The more we speak in the voice of our most aspirational self, the closer we pull our future into our present.”

“For one day a week, it’s important to allow yourself to be a human being, rather than a human doing.”

“The single most wasted resource on earth is human intention.”

“Errors force you to pause, evaluate, and iterate. As much as we dread them, they are veiled blessings that turn mirrors of reflection into windows of insight…the biggest opportunities for growth are not found in the midst of success, but in the methods through which we address failure.”

“Make the little decisions with your head and the big ones with your heart. Do that, and you’ll be just fine.”

nonprofit = for-purpose

“You may be safe, but I am free.” In the situation of being attached to material things vs. living life.

“Think about how the world will change in the next ten years, and how you and your resources and networks will change within it. Use that as a compass to determine how you can affect as many people as possible.”

“Expectations are the daunting shadows that trail behind accomplishments.”

“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”

“True motivation is not found within reaching a goal, but rather getting to a place where you can confidently and audaciously move the finish line far off into the distance once again. It’s in the space between the known and the unknown, where you can craft a vision for the future that you hope to create and then chase it with relentless fervor.”

“Your life should be a story you are excited to tell.”

“But you can’t keep saying, ‘I’ll get started tomorrow.’ The world has far too many problems, and you are way too smart and capable to not help tackle them. Your time is now.”

Adam Braun (right) is interviewed by Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton at Barnes and Noble in Union Square

Adam Braun (right) is interviewed by Humans of New York creator Brandon Stanton at Barnes and Noble in Union Square

Although Adam’s Braun’s story contained factors the average person can’t quite obtain, like a brother who represents Justin Beiber, or friends who somehow raise $20k+ at our birthday parties, the details of the book helped me a lot. By sharing the smallest details on how he started the organization and chose to run it, I could see some of my ideas living. Rather than feeling paralyzed by how to take the step from thought to action, it was helpful to have a vague map of where to possibly look next.

 

What Did I Do in 2012?

With 2012 flying by so fast, I wanted to document some of its highlights. For me it was a big year with a lot of growing and changing to work toward the person I’m trying to be. I’m often good at being too hard on myself trying to figure the world out immediately, that I forget that it takes time to learn and to realize what I’ve already accomplished.

I rang in 2013 with some of my favorite New Yorkers including Sarabeth, Elle, Brad, and of course my boyfriend Jon. We started off the evening at McSorleys before heading into Williamsburg to feel classy at a jazz bar. Even with living in NYC, I will never have any desire to go anywhere near Time Square.

NYE

Jon and I at McSorleys

February brought my 4th Jack’s Mannequin concert. I’ve seen him in Cleveland twice, Columbus once, and now NYC. Sadly, he announced that the band was ending in November of this year.

JM

Andrew McMahon at Irving Plaza

In honor of Valentine’s Day, and as a part of Young Professionals of Amnesty International, we put on our “Make A Date with YPAI” event. At Lolita in downtown Manhattan we held the event to take action for LGBT rights including issues such as DOMA and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. We had speakers who were professors, heads of organizations including In The Life Media, and ended the night with 2 transgender comedians and spoken word artist Athens Boys Choir.

LGBT

Myself speaking at our YPAI event at Lolita

LGBT 2

Athens Boys Choir performing at our YPAI event

In March, I was fortunate enough to attend two of my favorite opportunities that I had the entire year. First was the Amnesty International Secret Policeman Ball. A night of comedy and music to bring attention to the organization and some of the current urgent human rights abuses that were going on at that time. Radio City filled up with the help of a wide range of celebrities such as Jon Stewart, Sarah Silverman, Coldplay, Mumford and Sons, just to name a few.

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Alex and I front row for Amnesty’s Secret Policeman Ball

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Cold Play performing

Police 3

Me, Steph, Emily, and Alex outside the event

A week later I was in Lincoln Center for three of the most inspiring days of my life as I covered the Women In The World Summit for Girls Who Rock. Jam packed with individuals who have been through the unimaginable and accomplished the incredible, I learned so much and never felt so motivated to keep working toward creating change. The summit ended with a speech by one of my favorite people, Hillary Clinton.

Tina Brown, Merryl Streep, Hillary Clinton

Tina Brown, Merryl Streep, Hillary Clinton

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Girls Who Rock Team

I ended March seeing Nick Kristof speak, which unfortunately I have no photos of, but you can read more here. April was filled with visitors. Both Jon’s family and mine made trips into the city along with college friends and a couple of guys from Germany. I began May with a trip to Ohio to spend my birthday in Athens, my favorite place in the world, and for our friends Mike and Mariah’s wedding. As I came back, my sister made a big move from NYC to Florida. Finally, it was time for the Girls Who Rock concert. As a digital engagement officer (the Twitter account was named most influential by Internet Week NY) for Girls Who Rock I had been helping plan and promote this event which would raise money for She’s The First to send girls to school at Shanti Bhavan in India.

GWR2

The performers and Girls Who Rock team after the concert at Gramercy

In June I found out I was accepted to take on a huge life goal of mine and travel to Ghana with The Humanity Exchange to work summer camps at multiple schools in the Western Region. The next month was filled with organizing paperwork and getting shots in preparation. The experience was as life changing and amazing as anyone could expect. If i begin talking about it I will never stop, so if you want to hear more you can see what I wrote during my time with these amazing kids.

Ghana1Ghana2Ghana3

The rest of summer included playing kickball with She’s The First, holding a rooftop happy hour for Young Professionals of Amnesty International where we took action on the Arms Trade Treaty, speaking at the Amnesty office about conflict minerals in the Congo and other solutions to Kony 2012, and moving. After 2 subleases and squeezing 4 people into a 3 bedroom in Williamsburg, Jon and I finally signed a lease for the first apartment that was actually ours in Astoria, Queens. We also celebrated our 3 year anniversary on July 1st. As fall came around, we joined the Ohio University alums for a cruise on the Hudson River. I went on my first ever business trip for work to Greensboro, NC to represent Blue Outdoor at the Tanger Outlets Conference. Finally, I was made of honor in my best friend Rachel’s wedding.

Rach

The bridal party

After spending the summer reading Half The Sky by Nick Kristof, the documentary was finally airing on PBS. I anxiously went to a few screenings ahead of time of course, one which included Nick, Sheryl WuDunn, and Olivia Wilde as speakers. I also spent a Saturday volunteering at the Global Citizens Festival, a massive concert in Central Park put on by the Global Poverty Project to raise money for some of the poorest areas of the world.

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Central Park Global Citizens Festival

At the end of October we made it through Hurricane Sandy only losing cable and internet, extremely fortunate compared to others in the NYC area. We walked outside to find our neighborhood damaged, but overall everyone in Astoria seemed to stay safe.

Sandy

Day after Hurricane Sandy in Astoria, Queens

I accepted a volunteer position as a Researcher for She’s The First for their schools in Uganda and South Sudan which I cannot wait to get started on! After much excitement and drama over the past year, we watched anxiously until 2 a.m. for Obama to win the election. Well, some of us made it the whole time anyways.

Election

Jon, Jacquie, and Chris on election night

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents coming to our apartment in the city. We held our final event of the year as the Young Professionals of Amnesty International on Guantanamo and stopping NDAA (which Obama recently passed unfortunately). The holiday season brought a delicious work dinner and bowling party, Lion King on Broadway for a night of fun with a few coworkers, and a trip to Ohio to celebrate Christmas, Jon’s birthday, and the New Year with friends and family.

xmas

Eric, Erin, Jon, me, Rachel, Josh

This year brought so much inspiration, love, accomplishments, and learning. It flew by faster than I could ever imagine. So what will 2013 bring for me? So far I have resolutions including eating healthier and joining a gym (pretty normal). I’m also hoping to write more, maybe take the GRE and consider grad school more closely, narrow down a focus of what issues in the world I’d like to focus most on changing, get started with my role in She’s The First, try new things, and find some me time to relax. As most people are, I’m often hard on myself for not doing enough. But thanks to this blog, for me, I was able to see all of the things I did accomplish this year, and they were pretty awesome. Here’s to a positive and even more fun filled 2013!