Coming Home

Vacation is officially over, I was back on the road again and how depressing it was. I didn’t want to leave, man oh man I didn’t want to leave, but as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end, one way or another.

Hotel Livin'
Hotel Livin’
Hanging out in our big bed not wanting to leave
Hanging out in our big bed not wanting to leave
She's a person, I swear
She’s a person, I swear

So we packed up our belongings, sadly crammed them into the car, fed the puppies and let them wander around one last time in the patch of grass behind the hotel. We got our complementary breakfast one last time, omelets from the omelet man, and headed off to tackle the 11 hour drive we had ahead of us.

I took a few last gasps of Colorado mountain air and snapped a few desperate photos of the mountains, merely to symbolize our last morning with the mountains on our side.

A very sad morning indeed, not just because the trip was over, but because I would no longer be able to wake up next to my husband and share a cup coffee with breakfast including him. Since the day we met our schedules have been opposite, so the few times in our relationship where we can start and finish the day together are important.

I’m not sure why I thought this drive was only 9 hours, maybe because that’s how long it took to get to Florida from Virginia, but this trip was definitely almost 11 hours, my poor puppies and numb rump.

The first 5 hours of the trip were easy, we passed the time with two favorite car games, one being The Animal game – my personal favorite and the other, The Alphabet game – Matt’s personal favorite.

The Animal Game is easy, and can be played in line at theme parks or 11 hour car drives. You start with ‘A’ and name as many animals starting with the letter ‘A’ and you continue throughout the alphabet all the way to ‘Z.’ When somebody is out of animals (usually if only two people are playing) the other person has to name one more animal with that letter to win the letter, the loser has to start off the next letter. If you have more people in the group, the harder it is and instead of having to win the round the loser is out, until a winner is left.

The Alphabet Game is eerily best played with two people. One person starts at the beginning of the Alphabet and the other at the end. Using each letter to find a word, outside of the car beginning with their letter, whoever gets to the other end first wins, and as beginners luck has it, I won.

We finally hit Texas a bit after our games ended, and I was surprised to find myself excited to see this flat dry and dead hunk of lump state. A little more than 5 hours to go until home, hallelujah.

Hello, Texas ...
Hello, Texas …
They're so cute sometimes :] but obviously, over the trip
They’re so cute sometimes :] but obviously, over the trip

As we got closer, about 10 minutes from the house, we encountered the insufferable road blockage due to construction,. This lead us on a detour in the opposite direction we were trying to head towards and cut us through the little town of Krum, adding an extra 15 minutes to our arrival, woof.

Coming home is always a nice breathe of fresh air, especially when the house is already clean. Home safe and sound and already planning our next adventure. Until next time, stay weird Texas.

Cliff Dwellings of Manitou Springs

Sigh-our last full day in Colorado Springs, a bit more than bittersweet, we didn’t want to leave at all. If it were possible to move all our belongings in a blink of an eye, I think we would have.

In the beginning of a trip, that first wake up means the whole adventure is in front of you, so when it ends, it feels like it came and went to quickly. As soon as you book a trip, it takes forever to get there, but when you’re on vacation, it flies by faster than the speed of light.

I’m just grateful I got to spend it with my guy and our two puppies.

After breakfast we headed into Manitou Springs to visit the cliff dwellings. These dwellings were homes to the Anasazi ( The Ancient Ones or The Ancestral Puebloans). The people of this culture lived from 1100 A.D. to 1300 A.D. in the four corners area ( Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico).

These apartment homes were carved into the side of the huge red rocks to protect themselves from invasions by intruders, so their backs were always covered, no sneak attacks from behind.

Cliff Dwellings at Manitou Springs 2015
Cliff Dwellings at Manitou Springs 2015
At the entrance of a home inside the Cliffs
At the entrance of a home inside the Cliffs

The tiny narrow hallways and low ceilings gave you the feel of what it might have been like to live in one of these homes. The stairs were just as narrow and with the sun behind us, it was very dark.

A view from the inside. It was cool on the inside and felt damp.
A view from the inside. It was cool on the inside and felt damp.
They are so cute, my three ruffs.
They are so cute, my three ruffs.
A better angle of what we were looking at and how each home connects
A better angle of what we were looking at and how each home connects

There was also a museum housed inside a Pueblo. A structure made from clay and hay, because of the cold winters Colorado has, the snow melts the clay and has to be replenished yearly. I hate mowing the grass, how spoiled are we, can you imagine?

We were also in for an unexpected treat that day, there were wolves walking around, real life BIG ones. The Hubs and I got to pet and feed them, totally insane!

I was walking up to the female when the male, Ghost, came galloping up to me, nuzzling me with this long thick snout. I’m not going to lie, for a quick second I thought this was it. “Here lies Shannon, eaten alive by a wolf.”

The handler explained people adopt these animals and try to mix them with dogs, because they think it’s “cool,” and when they become an adult, they’re too much to handle and get left in shelters, or in the present females case, tied up to a tree.

Because they end up in shelters, nobody wants to adopt them and they end up being put down, a sad fate for a wild animal. So, he takes them in and cares for them.

The wolves eat between 6 to 9 lbs of raw meat a day. So the handler brings them out to help raise money to feed and house them. They can’t be domesticated, meaning you can’t house train them. They live in a huge back yard with man-made dens, another female wolf is the pack leader. You Go Girl.

Just giving Ghost a treat, from my bare hand!
Just giving Ghost a treat, from my bare hand!
The hubby got to too!
The hubby got to too!

After the dwellings, we dropped the dogs off and went to downtown Colorado Springs and historic Colorado City. Downtown was nice, a small city with clean streets. The homes were Victorian style, where the floors probably creaked and the banisters were hand crafted wood.

Historic Colorado City is like any historic area, small trinket stores, hand dipped chocolate goodies and a grassy area for guests to sun bathe on. It’s cute, nice for tourists and people who eat lunch outside.

It was built by a few guys who had enough money to spend, pretty much the same song and dance for any town in those days.

We got back to the hotel early in the afternoon and were wiped out. All the hiking and exploring caught up with us and we were done-zo. I crawled under the sheets and dozed off for an hour, woke up to The Hunger Games on HBO and a very hungry husband.

The Hubs found a restaurant that was inside an old Boeing KC-97, him being an avid aviation junkie, especially during the WWII era, so we had to go. It didn’t dissapoint.

The building surrounding the plane offered additional seating and plenty of eye candy hanging on every inch of the walls. The menus were newspapers you could take home as souvenirs and the waiters were dressed in airline attendant fashion.

Matt checking out the cockpit
Matt checking out the cockpit
Me reading the local news, I mean looking over the menu
Me reading the local news, I mean looking over the menu
The view from outside
The view from outside

Let the record show, I Shannon, was in a plane willingly without any mild heart palpitations or panic attacks. Plus, the food was pretty good. I got an avocado burger, the Hubs got salmon pasta something or other and we split a brownie sundae.

A great way to end the day and trip, because in the morning, we had an 11 hour trek back home ahead of us.

Pike’s Peak – Day Two

After yesterdays breakfast, I knew todays was going to be just as good. I almost couldn’t wait to get out of bed, almost.

Knowing we had to tire the dogs out before leaving them at the hotel, the Hubs found a disc golf coarse (golf with a frisbee) 25 minutes away. Every time we go somewhere new, we check out their disc golf courses. We were’t disappointed, the puppies were pooped.

There was a foot trail that circled the park and I decided to tire the pups out a little bit more. A quick run never hurt anybody, right? Wrong, we got lost, it didn’t circle the park and the Hubs had to come pick us up, miles into the country, oops.

I just love how much fresh water is running through Colorado. This was taken while we were getting lost (but didn't know that yet).
I just love how much fresh water is running through Colorado. This was taken while we were getting lost (but didn’t know that yet).
Bella enjoying some that fresh water.
Bella enjoying some that fresh water.

After we got back to the hotel, we checked out The Cog Railway Train Adventure and were disappointed to find you were required to schedule the ride 24 hours in advance. Matt really wanted to go on top of a mountain.

Plan B! We can drive up to Pikes Peak, even better! So we drove the 20 miles to get to the base of the mountain to begin our trek up, and man was that a long way down.

The views from the side of the mountain were anything but ordinary. Breathing in that fresh mountain air was rejuvenating, even with the altitude trying to take your breathe away.

We stopped to hike up some rocks before getting to the tops and this is where the picture below was taken.

Matt taking in that mountain air. It really is hard to take a bad photo when everything is so beautiful. This picture is one of my favorites though.
Matt taking in that mountain air. It really is hard to take a bad photo when everything is so beautiful. This picture is one of my favorites though.
I dared myself to get out of the car and near the edge. This picture is proof and so is my face. Mommy!
I dared myself to get out of the car and near the edge. This picture is proof and so is my face. Mommy!

I wouldn’t say I have a fear of heights, but rather a fear of falling. I’m pretty proud of myself for standing on the edge. My knees didn’t give out, hallelujah.

To the top of the summit is 14,115 feet above sea level. Fun Fact: The view from the summit inspired Katherine Lee Bates to write “America the Beautiful” in 1883.

Before you get to the summit, you travel up roads that are a little to close to the edge for my taste, guardrails only on the sharp turns. Due to ice and snow we couldn’t make it all the way to the top, but we got pretty close.

We made it to Boulder Park, 13,380 feet above sea level. We got out, trampled through feet of snow ( with improper clothing, I was wearing capri work out pants, yikes!) and hiked to the top of the boulders, trying to get as high in the clouds as possible.

I'm surprised I didn't trip, my kind of luck is funny like that.
I’m surprised I didn’t trip, my kind of luck is funny like that.
It is a long way down to the bottom, but the view is unbeatable.
It is a long way down to the bottom, but the view is unbeatable.
I think Matt was done with my obsessive picture taking, or he really is embracing #TheBeardLife.
I think Matt was done with my obsessive picture taking, or he really is embracing #TheBeardLife.
My, "I can't believe I'm climbing this, already up to high" face.
My, “I can’t believe I’m climbing this, already up to high” face.

As we drove back down the mountain, we stopped at the Crystal Reservoir and took the self-guided nature trail. The reservoir was frozen over and we got to read about the Big Foot sightings.

Yes, you read that right. Big Foot was spotted by a guest in Pikes Peak back in 2001. A sign was added to commemorate the sighting. You can read here about more tales of Big Foot and the Sea Monster in Mystic River.

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That's a big, foot!
That’s a big, foot!

We got back to the hotel, ate dinner and passed out before 10 p.m. and if you know me, that’s a feat all in itself. Goodnight!

Day One – Colorado Springs

The first wake up always feels so good, you have your whole trip ahead of you. The hotel bed feels amazing, you couldn’t get anymore comfortable and you don’t have to clean anything. Plus, free continental breakfast and if my husband was writing this he would tell you, it’s not a real free breakfast without a waffle iron. (For the record, ours did.)

When you walk into the lobby, a business center with way to many plush couches are set up around a faux fire. To the right of that, the indoor swimming pool is front and center, and the restaurant (where our breakfast was served) is up and to the left, additional seating on the ground level.

There were tables upon tables of good breakfast food, buffet style. They also had a ‘omelette guy’ who made to order omelets right in front of you. Let me tell you, this is the best breakfast I’ve ever had to not clean up after.

After we finished out breakfasts, we gathered up the pups and went to check out Garden of the Gods. It’s rated as one of the best parks in the country and as an added bonus, it’s free! On the drive down we noticed the abundance of dogs being walked, all over the place! Colorado Springs is shaping up to be just as good as I expected.

As we pulled up to the parking lot for the park, the Hubs and I were both awed by not only the size and shapes of these boulder rocks, but the color of them on the backdrop of the mountains behind them. This place is awesome AND beautiful.

The entrance gate to Garden of the Gods, pictures don't do it justice.
The entrance gate to Garden of the Gods, pictures don’t do it justice.
Again, how could you not be awed?
Again, how could you not be awed?

We briskly walked all over the park, making sure to check out each designated spot on the map. We saw climbers on the tops of the rocks and birds flying out of holes at the tippy top of those same boulders. These rocks were huge, I loved it!

The park also had a number of trails that varied in length, feeling frisky we went for the big one, in total it would be a little over 8 miles, but it promised a big rock balancing on a smaller one, who wouldn’t want to see that?

The Hubs and Da Puppies in front of the 'balancing rock.'
The Hubs and Da Puppies in front of the ‘balancing rock.’

As we hiked around the mountain, I was surprised how hard it was to breathe, that altitude is no joke! My heart didn’t race this much while I ran a 5k or did the StairMill at the gym for 30 minutes, as expected, the views were worth the gasps of air.

The view from the top.
The view from the top.
That coloring, it's gorgeous.
That coloring, it’s gorgeous.
"Through the Looking Glass"
“Through the Looking Glass”
I can't believe I climbed up to this thing, it was worth the knee shakes!
I can’t believe I climbed up to this thing, it was worth the knee shakes!

By the time we got back to the hotel, puppies and parents were pooped. Everybody took a nap, except me … I began my blog writing, took a bath and read some more of my book, relaxation at its finest.

Around 4:30 we perked up again, and decided to check out the downtown historic area of Manitou Springs, about a 15 minute drive from our hotel. The buildings were old, the floors creaked in each boutique and as it should be, there was a penny arcade. Hubs and I won 62 tickets, he got a Butterfingers and a popper.

As we ate dinner our eyelids grew heavier and we were all in bed by 10 p.m. I hadn’t been that tired in a long time, but I had a sneaky suspicion we would be, if not more, because we had three more fun-filled days before the drive back to Texas, whoop-ee.

Bella (right) Bailey (left) My two babies.
Bella (right) Bailey (left) My two babies.

Road Trippin’ The Weekend Away

Ahh–vacation, it’s finally here! Today me and the Hubs are driving up to Colorado Springs for a long weekend, it lieu of our Spring Breaks. The beach did have its appeals, but the mountains won out. Plus, it’s a dog friendly city/state and there’s plenty to do with your pups, a win-win for us.

While we trekked into new territory, it still looked pretty similar to home. Texas is ginormous, but it generally has the same feel. A lot of farm land, old rusty cars rotting away into the dirt piles and way too many cows. Did you know that there are more cows in Texas than people? “Let’s hope they don’t figure that out,” as my husband would say.

As we drove north west, nothing but open road, we rocked out to oldies but goodies. We rapped Lil’ Wayne, Eminem, and a mix of old southern rappers, Crime Mob anybody?

After knuckin’ and buckin’ we turned the music down, randomly told stories, and posed questions to stir up more random conversation, the kind you only have when you’re stuck in a car with nowhere else to go. Then, we enjoyed the silence and scenery.

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Still in Texas, only two hours into the trip, not desperately wanting out of the car, yet.
One of my two, Hurricane Bailey, or just Bailey.
One of my two, Hurricane Bailey, or just Bailey.

I think it’s more telling when you can sit in silence with your significant other, not having to entertain each other, or feel like there needs to be a conversation in order for us to be an awesome couple. I think when you find someone you can enjoy the silence with, that speaks louder than words.

We made our way through Wichita Falls, Amarillo and other small farm towns before we hit New Mexico. I was shocked by how quiet these small towns were. Not many people on the road, except the few cars that were driving through, and the one flashing yellow light on Main Street. Not official ghost towns, but close enough.

A quaint building in small town, Texline.
A quaint building in small town, Texline.

As we entered New Mexico, the scenery hadn’t changed much. When you enter a new state the scenery should immediately change, especially for people who have been in a car for 5 hours already. Though, it was starting to get hillier, the clouds were getting lower and that dirt mountain rock began to appear, we were inching closer and closer.

Finally out of Texas. Two more states to go!
Finally out of Texas. Two more states to go!
"Rocky Mountain Dirt Stuff"
“Rocky Mountain Dirt Stuff”

About 25 minutes upon entering New Mexico, the Jeep overheated and we couldn’t go above 40 mph. There was a loud grinding noise and we had to pull over. What kind of car overheats in 60 degree weather? Thank Zeus for Google. The Hubs got onto a message board, found the trick, and after a mini freak out from me, we were on our way again.

(Apparently, other Jeep owners had this overheating problem also when they drove 75-80 mph for a long period of time. If you find yourself in this problem, put the car in neutral, wait for the transmission light to go off, and wah-la, you’ll be on your way.)

As we entered Colorado, FINALLY, The Rocky Mountains, with their thin blue mist, were to the west driving with us the last 3 hours of the trip. The change in scenery helped, a little, but we were all ready to be done. That last leg of the ride always takes the longest.

The Hubs with the Rockies in the back.
The Hubs with the Rockies in the back.

While we wound up and down and around the mountains, we noticed a few historical signs talking about some memorial, we decided to Google, nothing like a little history on a long trip.

Ruins of Ludlow - Wiki
Ruins of Ludlow – Wiki

The Ludlow Massacre was an attack on the miners and families of Ludlow Colorado, by Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. At the start of the fighting, any where between 19-26 people were burned to death in a single tent, women and children alike.

The strikes lasted from September 1913 to December 1914. It was dubbed one of the worst and deadliest incidents in southern Colorado history. The strikes were led by the United Mine Workers of America, and were fighting for better working conditions.

Interestingly enough, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was the chief owner of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company. The results from this massacre, led to 8 hour work days and chill labor laws.

Historian Howard Zinn described the Ludlow Massacre as “the culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history”.

In total, around 200 miners and their families lost their lives. The remains of the burnt town can still be seen in the completely abandoned city of Ludlow Colorado in the southern part of the state.

As we pulled into our hotel parking lot, It took everything I had to not run underneath the bed covers and fall asleep. It was dark by the time we pulled in to Colorado Springs, so I could only see shadows of mountain tops, but it was nice to know they were there.

In the morning, it was going to be a beautiful sight and I can’t wait to get the party started, vacation never felt so good.

My First Agency Tour

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Photo Cred: Awo Eni

Today PRSSA and myself got the unique chance to tour the Weber Shandwick office in downtown Dallas, inside the Comerica Bank Tower. The PR firm represents over 3,000 companies and have multiple offices in 80 countries, including the United States, London and Middle East. In regards to the work they do, they are a little more corporate and little more traditional.

After climbing to the 16th floor, we entered a lobby that had double glass doors on opposite sides, upon entering the bunch of us were shuffled into a magnificent conference room with a gorgeous view of downtown Dallas.

We got a run down of the afternoons schedule from Senior Vice President Tracy Donalson and then dove into specifics about the firm and its daily routines from Neil Nowlin, executive vice president and general manager of Weber and Shandwick. Lesson one, it’s never routine in their offices.

While listening to Mr. Nowlin talk, these are a few of the things we all took away from his speech:

  1. Take the initiative in all aspects of the job.
  2. Alway bring a positive attitude into work, a bad attitude is just as contagious as a good one.
  3. Be willing to do anything, don’t be that guy who walks in to an interview with stipulations and a chip on your shoulder. If they want you in a hotdog suit, waving at potential consumers, JUST DO IT.
  4. If you haven’t had a lot of experience thus far, think about what you can do. For example, can you take on a leader ship role in a club at school? Have you volunteered in your community or tried to work for a nonprofit? Is there a political campaign you can volunteer with?
  5. Practice your writing skills! The PR world needs strong writers, have you mastered the art of writing persuasively?
  6. NO RÉSUMÉ ERRORS!!!
  7. When submitting résumés make yours stand out, one guy sent his on top of a cake!

Then, we got to hear from staff who worked in the technology department, graphic design and videography department and most importantly, from the people who manage the interns they have quarterly each year, about six to seven in each batch. So if you are looking for something in the agency life, check out the opportunities here.

I also hear Senior Art Director Matthew Weir is always looking for a graphic design intern, and he hears The University of North Texas has one of the best programs around, so tell your friends.

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Gazing at the social media hub Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
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The Weber Shandwick break room. What a view! Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
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Another great view from their office windows. Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

Why Not Me?

About two weeks ago I got word I could be graduating early, YAY! The only stipulation was I needed to find another internship for the summer months. If I was unable to obtain one by registration in April, then I would have to ask the Dean for a special permission project – kind of like a graduate class, where you pick what you want to research and set up deadlines with a professor.

In a matter of five minutes, my entire world as I knew it, changed. I went from nonchalantly making my way through college, to having a fire light beneath me putting my butt in high gear, kind of like a dog chasing its tail. “OH MY GOD, I AM GOING TO FINALLY GRADUATE!” I screamed it to myself, to my husband and to my friends and family.

After the excitement settled, a wave of anxiety washed over me. “Wait, now I have to find a real job? How in the flip am I going to do that?” Almost immediately I thought I could puke on the spot. It was a feeling I wanted for so long, but I had’t thought far enough head, the moments after the light in the tunnel, I just saw the light and was happy with getting closer to that. So now what?!

The day after I realized I could graduate early, I signed up for PRSSA – Public Relations Student Society of America and started to attend the meetings that invites professionals to guest speaker. Real people in the real world. Rubbing elbows and putting myself out there, was something I hadn’t wanted to do in the year and half I was enrolled at the University of North Texas, because ever since I moved here I buried myself into a cocoon and it was nice and cozy in there.

In the meetings I would walk up to the professionals, shake their hand and introduce myself, a scary irrational fear I had, what if they laugh or blow me off? I went on agency tours with PRSSA to organizations and did the same thing. In those moments I was brave, even if I didn’t think I could be. Stepping out made me realize something.

I could do this, why not me?

A chant I have been telling myself the past month. A similar mantra the 12-man chanted in the stands while watching their beloved Seattle Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl, twice. Why not me.

I have an interview this Friday with an organization I hope to be a part of, The American Red Cross of the North Texas Region. I would be tasked with writing blogs and other content for them, as well as engaging with the social media giant it houses. I couldn’t be any more excited for this opportunity.

I also signed up for a student media tour in Frisco, near the end of the month. An all day event lasting from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. I can’t wait to put on my Sunday best and hand out my resumes. I will be meeting with professionals from i Heart Radio, The Dallas Stars ( hockey team), the Rough Riders ( minor league baseball team) and many more. An opportunity I can’t pass up on because of my own personal fears, it’s illogical.

That little voice of doubt and fear I have carried with me for most of my life is finally being quieted. I can do this, I want a job and I will get one. I won’t settle for anything less. Why not me?

I have always been a driven, motivated and hardworking being, in everything I have tried to accomplish. I just lost sight of who I actually was, I needed a reminder.

There are so many things I want to do in this life and I finally have grown the right mindset to achieve them. I will not allow myself to hold back, it is no longer an option, I will be graduating in May and I will get a job doing what I enjoy, I won’t settle for anything less, and neither should you.

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Deaf Coffee Chat

It’s called a comfort zone for a reason, it’s nice and cozy and familiar. There are hardly any expectations or anything out of the ordinary. You don’t get your feet wet in anything new, and there isn’t a reason to fret about going there, it’s like home.

In Texas, colleges require students to take a language. After having to take Spanish for four years, I couldn’t redo the first two years, again. The University of North Texas offers American Sign Language, and I chose to take that instead.

Every third Saturday of the month, a group of people get together at a coffee shop, Zera’s. It’s a local hang out in Denton that makes a pretty good cup of joe, without the hefty price tag. It has couches, mismatched chairs and tables, with odds and ends hung up on the walls.

It is a dimly lit coffee-house, but an interesting one none the less. It felt like I as hanging out in a friends basement. The kind where all the old furniture gets thrown in to and forgotten. The walls are dark but it feels cozy. I guess you would say this place was ‘hipster central.’

Anyways, my ASL professor offers extra credit to any student who shows up, one point for every hour. Doesn’t seem worth it, but after missing a few key points last test, a couple extra points sounds pretty good, plus, who doesn’t like coffee?

As Saturday approached, I began to name everything under the sun as why I shouldn’t go, or why a couple extra points wasn’t really worth three to four hours of my time. It was nearing the time I would have to leave when my hubby bribed me into going. Promising me a surprise for going and that I needed to provide proof. The stipulation was that I had to stay at least for one hour.

I’ve grown to be so socially awkward my own husband has to bribe me into doing social things, woof.

As I pulled into the parking lot, the nasty knot in my stomach began to tighten and the want to drive home was greater than the want for extra credit. I circled the lot twice, not able to find a parking space. It must be the parking Gods telling me, “go home.” Before I could even finish the thought, the red truck I had passed twice was pulling out, dammit.

As I walked through its doors and checked out my surroundings, I had never wanted to run so badly. There were over 30-something people signing to each other, the only noises being those coming from the baristas making coffee.

I was definitely out of my element, I was in a place that I have never visited, and everybody was conversing in another language, somewhat foreign to me. It had been the first time I’d seen ASL outside of the classroom. The conversations were much quicker and weren’t repeated twice, the courtesy my ASL professor gives us.

After I ordered my coffee I wandered over to a corner filled with handmade goods. Something most local businesses do in Denton, and I pretended to look through the stuff that I probably never buy, to pass time. I had no idea what I was going to do after browsing.

Thankfully, I noticed a few girls from my morning class and went in their direction to see if they recognized me. Gratefully, they did. After we signed in to gain extra credit, we huddled near a fake wall Zera’s had put up, for a wedding reception. We listened to the wedding party speeches instead of mingling with other students, and other deaf people.

An hour was going to be painstakingly achieved at this rate. I felt like a creep watching other groups sign to each other, like I was eavesdropping on their conversations without hiding it. I was that creeper staring!

I was terrified to start any conversations with anyone who was deaf and wanted to ask me anything else besides, what is your name? My professor, Dori Reeves, probably sensed this because she came over asking us ‘what up.’ All I could do was shake my head. In a matter of an hour, I had forgotten everything I had learned in almost a year, insane.

She started to sign to me, I imagine to make me feel comfortable with my signing. Then, she tried to introduce me to a couple of guys, she asked them what the sign for ‘Mormon’ was and told me to introduce myself to them. I nervously shaped my fingers into letters to form my name and said ‘bye’ almost immediately after.

Before I knew it, a few other people, both deaf, started a conversation with me. I almost ran.

Two hours later I made a few friends I’d be happy to see next month. It was awesome. I came home telling the Hubs all about it. I did mention I messed up a few signs, when signing ‘it was nice to meet you,’ I accidentally signed ‘it was nice to date you.” Everybody had a good laugh and I did too.

I had a great time, stayed for over thee hours and can’t wait to go again. It’s nice to go out on a limb every once in a while. It was nice to use something I learned in real-time. We should all remember to step put of our boxes every once in a while.

If you’re reading from North Texas tonight, stay warm and safe. You guys can’t drive in snow or ice! ;]

My Morning Wearing Red

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Photo Cred: Google

This morning a few PRSSA members and me visited the offices of The American Red Cross North Texas Region in Dallas. Our host Regional Marketing Manager, Amy Yen and Communications Associate, Lisa Morgan, showed us around the impressive and irreplaceable organization. We were also rewarded with a shortened version of the regional communications programs.

Its mission is to, “Empower online social communities to execute our mission.” A lot of its disaster response is done through social media, and on any given day the organization is mentioned around 4,000 times each day, according to Yen.

During Super Storm Sandy, there were an estimated 2.5 million conversations occurring on social media between users, The Red Cross tagged 4,500 tweets to follow up on. Workers and volunteers tracked tweets by keywords, such as: lightening, tornado, ice, and storm. How were they able to do this?

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Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

The DigiDot is a humungous operating system sponsored by Dell and ran on Radian6. “A Hootsuite on steroids,” explained Yen.

The monstrous network is located on the second floor. Upon entering the room, you immediately notice the large projectors hung front and center. To the left there are four plasma screens, each monitor various media aspects around the country. There are only two DigiDots currently operating, one being in Dallas, the other in Washington D.C.

There are two reasons why The American Red Cross North Texas Region acquired the DigiDot, the first being DFW had a huge presence on social media, the second being North Texas is the most disaster prone area in the country, you name it we got it, now even earthquakes!

Though all the technology and high tech equipment is impressive, it’s the people behind the computer screens who are the real life changers. A majority of the workers at The Red Cross are volunteers, 97 percent, actually.

Volunteers are the bread and butter of this organization and The Red Cross is ever so thankful for those people. There are 75 volunteer positions offered and they are always searching to hire a few rad interns throughout the year. If you are interested in becoming a part of this nonprofit organization, check out their website here. You’ll be grateful you did. I could only hope I score its summer internship.

As we toured the rest of the building, we were able to see their emergency storage areas. The first being a medium sized room with black containers, each labeled with its materials. Items like snacks, flip-flops, t-shirts, stuffed animals for children, and their new pet comfort bags – thanks to their new partnership with Don’t Forget to Feed Me.

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Photo Cred: Awo

Up to six or seven times a day, police and firehouses call The Red Cross to notify them about families or people, who are in need of aid, circumstances ranging from house fires or flooding.

The next storage area was in a large warehouse. Where supplies were stored on pallets and carried in bulk sizes.

To conclude my experience, I leave you with a fun fact: President Obama sent his first official tweet from The Red Cross Twitter handle page, as he too was once a volunteer with The Red Cross. What a catch phrase, right?

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I’ve got the ‘Ities & the Itch

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The art of writing is a sacred being, its appeal is charming and the idea easy, the latter is never true. Writing isn’t easy and it never will be. If you write long enough you acquire a passion for words and new ways to express them, but it’s never an easy journey, though nothing worth while hardly ever is.

Any soul who enjoys the magic of writing remembers when they first got the itch to put pen to paper and create something creative. Any “great” remembers the craving to prefect a skill became apparent. A jolt of weightless energy that hits you hard, causing the lightbulb to brighten above your head. That’s what I want to do!

Personally, I was little, maybe six or seven, too little to actually be thinking about future plans, but I knew I enjoyed reading what I wrote and creating short stories were my fav.

I acquired an eccentric style of writing while in grammar school, and my mom thought it was adorable. I had a funny tendency to only write on the left-hand edges of my paper, the rest of the paper seemed tainted. I remember thinking, look how many pages I can write! Well, when you only use half the page …

My signature trademark was soon corrected by the first or second grade, whenever the teachers start to send you home with real homework. I’m sure it’s Pre-K now, the books are heavier and the snow they have to walk to school in is deeper.

Anyways, my itch started with writing fan fiction, I didn’t know that’s what it was called, but regardless, anybody remember the T.V. series Arthur? Yes, yes I did. I wrote my own stories for Arthur and his family and friends to wander through. I wrote some stories that were funny, others were sad. Mostly, I liked to write ones that had a good moral buried in it. Typical Shannon, I was seven going on 30. 

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My mom used to keep them in her dresser, the bottom right hand drawer. By the time I was in my teens the drawer resembled how stuffed and worn it was, papers were being pushed from the sides, the handle was hanging on by one screw and the drawer had long been knocked off its frame. It was the perfect setting for where my mom crammed us kids’ works of art.

The prized possessions were all slightly brown and had obviously seen better days. Every once in a while I wonder if my mom still has them shoved in that drawer, but the memory vanishes by the time one of us calls each other.

It took years of denying any worth to my writing before I told myself to shut the -efff up. I started my higher education with the thought I’d never leave education, I’d just become a teacher. I did my classroom visits and almost ran out the door, though working with kids was rewarding.

I think that when something sinks its teeth into you, it’s hard to deny the sting it leaves. Writing got its dirty paws around me long ago, and the sooner I realized it, the quicker I believed I did have a purpose. College really does seem to suck the life out of you sometimes. 

When did your passions sink their teeth into you? Was it a furry, ( what was Arthur? An Aardvark?) cartoon friend that sparked your enthusiasm!?

-Ramble Out