Moments of our Lives, Glimpses of the Past

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Photo by Jiyeon Park on Unsplash
Lately, I’ve been finding it so odd and yet almost refreshing how we can have such vivid moments in our lives… Then, roll forward 3, 5, 10, 25, 50, 60 years and have other vivid moments and present-times, but if we think back to the past we often are left with only just short glimpses of those old realities we thought so highly of and were living with so much emotion in the past.
Everything in the present is so lively and of immense focus. Yet our past is often short memories that may seem to fade with time. Though it does seem we can allow some parts of our past to remain vivid if we choose to replay those times over and over in our head. I’m sure there’s plenty of debate if that’s good to do or not!
It’s shocking and interesting to me how the mind and memory work over the years. Life progresses despite our past no matter whether our past is good or bad.
Been reading a lot lately on how we can shape and transform our memories. Maybe that’s why I’ve been noticing this lately? Funny how what we read can allow us to create meaning and contemplate life.

3 Tips for Grant Managers

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Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Over the years of my grant management career, I have found the following to be most useful to do my job the best possible. Hope these prove to be 3 tips you can take back to your office and/or share with those you know involved in Grants Management.
1. Anything and Everything you need to do or others need to do for effective grants management…Put it on a calendar.

 

In grants management, there are multiple deadlines. Those deadlines which are externally created AND those of which you should create yourself in order to keep yourself and others focused and on-task for completing the many duties you and others have to effectively manage grants.
If you do NOT have a calendar of some sort, you more than likely will be disorganized, miss deadlines, be rushing and in turn create stress for yourself and others, make errors, and you might stand a chance of ruining your reputation as a reliable grants manager.
I personally recommend Google Calendar as opposed to paper calendars or other types of electronic calendars. You can easily share the calendar(s) you create with others and if you use Gmail, of course, it integrates EVERY well with it to make your life as a grants manager so much easier and cleaner.
Look at your calendar every day and use it as a strategic planning tool for understanding what it is you should be focusing on due to many time-constraints. You want to be in the know of upcoming deadlines and plan your work accordingly.
Multiple articles could be written about strategic planning for grant management professionals, so I’ll leave it at this for now… Look at your calendar and plan accordingly.

 

2. Create structure and deadlines for all involved in effective grants management.

 

In grants management, you will often have to work with many stakeholders to achieve multiple objectives. DO NOT just sit back and think everyone knows what they should be doing, what they need to do, or when they need to do it. Of course, that statement depends on a lot of factors, but ultimately as the grants manager, things fall onto YOU to manage grants.
Thus, you want to be CLEAR AND CONCISE about what everyone should be doing and by when. This might include verbal communication as necessary, but one thing I’ve found over the years is that people forget if you stick only to verbal communication for grants management.
Therefore, write an email noting a list of things for each person to do (if there are more than one) and when they need to be done by. Give specific deadlines. If they miss a deadline or are nearing a deadline but you haven’t heard anything from them, FOLLOW-UP.
All of this creates structure and clear communication for all stakeholders involved in the grant management process.
3. When someone asks a question about grant policy and guidelines, PLEASE DO YOUR HOMEWORK AND RESEARCH. It’s also helpful to send a follow-up email with a link and/or picture of the direct source of where you found the information.
Grant managers WILL get many questions from multiple people regarding grant policies and guidelines. It’s important to always do a double-check of the answer before providing it to others. This is because in the grants management world…. things can change. You may THINK you know the exact policy and guidelines word for word and you’re a top grant manager in your field so why look, but don’t make this mistake. RESEARCH.
FIND the exact policy and guideline and send this to the person who asked you a policy and/or guideline question. You show that you know what you’re doing, you aren’t just making things up all on your own, and it can be used as a great means to teach others.
It’s important in grant management to always stay on top of the newest policies and guidelines and it’s important as well to ensure that others know that you do your job by the books. Grants Management is a very policy and guideline-driven career.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know everything without doing your homework first.

Discovering Dance – A Student’s Discovery of the Beautiful Art

Originally written on 12/06/2007 for an Experiencing Dance class at Western Michigan University

Personal Aesthetic Statement – 

I believe what I like about dance is it can be about anything and doesn’t always have to make sense to everyone. It can be something very personal.

I think a person can look at the movements of a dancer and see their emotions. These emotions might be that portrayed by the dancer, but also could be their own emotions because everyone can interpret something different about a dance.
I like Dance as a whole because I believe every part of a dance (the dancer, the music, the choreography, etc.) has something to do with what the whole idea of the dance is.
The thoughts on the dance of that of Martha Graham closely match my ideas of dance because it was her idea that dance begins with your idea and the movement makes you feel the emotion. She made dances about inner movements and what you did.
I feel like emotions can have certain movements to them that can be quickly realized.
Also, I feel that my personal aesthetic of dance has changed throughout the course because I was unaware of how in depth you can interpret dance and how dance can be sought of so differently by each individual.
I guess I never paid that much attention that one dance can spark many different thoughts. I remember at the beginning of class I said I liked dances with a lot going on. I have a better understanding of why I like dances such as this; it is because when I see a dance filled with a lot of variety I can think of many different emotions and thoughts of the dance.
I like dances that can have a lot to discuss or compare. I like to analyze things in my life. I have known this for a long time about myself, but I never really thought that would be why I like certain kinds of dance as well. I’m a very analytical person, and I like to find the key factors of why some things happened or happen. It is said as well that Accountants are very analytical, and like to find things like a detective. My major is Accounting.

I feel like I might interpret dance like a detective in a very analytical way; I always wonder what the key source or emotion of the dance is about.

 

More on Martha Graham: https://www.biography.com/people/martha-graham-9317723

Please note: Martha Graham is a true artist and not to be limited by the short, novice description noted in this piece of writing from a previous student’s perspective. I share the above link so that you can learn more about this artist’s great work.

Below is a choreography by Martha Graham – 

Audio Clip I recorded 10 Years Ago on My College Leadership Experiences, Goals, and Life Lessons from Humble Beginnings

Dear Readers,

I found this audio clip from years ago (probably recorded around 10 years ago) where I recorded about my college leadership experiences, career goals, and shared some of my life-story and lessons learned. I thought this might be inspirational for some even though not a typical post. I hope you enjoy.

Sincerely,
Aleesa

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Focus and You Shall Succeed… Summer I Shall Return.

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Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash
I’ve been trying to do too much lately. It’s tough to start a blog, put it on social media and other public outlets, and think of myself as worthy enough to continue this hobby in the public light that I’ve been doing lately. I wanted this to be easy and simply me sharing my heart and creativity, but in all honesty, it hasn’t been that easy for me ever since I started my blog website and have been posting my articles to social media, etc.
Don’t get me wrong, I love writing and creating! What’s hard is starting my blog’s Facebook page and only having 14 people (Thank you so much to my 14 followers!!) like my page. 14 likes, and I have over 175 Facebook friends… I personally invited every one of my friends but 14 is what I get so far! I guess I shouldn’t feel bad about this, but I do. Asking my social media friends and family, who I like to think are some of my biggest fans in life, only to get 14 people after personally inviting seems like a smooth kick in the behind! It really does. Makes me wonder who is honestly caring? Or perhaps it’s because I have the word “beautiful” in my blog title and hence that keeps some people away because maybe it’s too flouncy and bouncy!?!? Boy, the mind can surely go everywhere, can’t it? 🙂
And that’s just it… my mind literally has gone everywhere. 🙂 It’s time to focus. Right now, I have a personal goal that I’m working on that is a mountain of a goal (I’m sorry, I cannot share what that goal is.). I need focus. I need clarity. And I need the discipline to reach this goal.
I’ve given a lot of thought, and what I would like to do for the time being while I work on my goal is to let my blog have a break. I already have as I haven’t posted since the new year, but I wanted to officially share my plans. I will be back with more articles this Summer. I may write on my own, non-publically during my hiatus, and then share these pieces with you in the Summer. We will see!
Thank you for all of your support again. Good luck to all of you in your goals as well. Focus and you shall succeed.
Sincerely,
Aleesa

A year ago?… beauty and acceptance

Someone asked me the question recently, “Think back to last year at this time, and tell me what you see?”

A year ago was the end of 2016, and I was one semester away from graduating with my Masters of Business Administration (MBA). I was so excited to be done and ready to begin a new chapter of my life. I felt proud, excited, and relieved to be done with school soon. However, at the same time, my mind was filled with worry. What was this new chapter of my life without formal classes going to be like and what would I do? At that time, I really wanted change… I felt ready to move on and anxious.

Beyond school, at the end of 2016, I was dating the first man after my last long-term relationship who I thought I had great potential with. I was excited and felt so happy. I was very hopeful. A few months forward and it ended, but I am still thankful to have shared those few months of my life with him.

Of course, there is much more I could say… so many emotions and thoughts at this time last year. I’m smiling as I reminisce for a few minutes back to this time.

I don’t want to further analyze, dwell, or live here though for this is the past. I would rather look back and just simply see the beauty. Accept what was in my past without further analyzing.

Life is now, it is not the past. Though, it is beautiful for a few minutes to look back on, isn’t it?

Photo by Tom Ezzatkhah on Unsplash

Paint Your Mona Lisa Dream

(Photo by Eric TERRADE on Unsplash)
It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” – Leonardo da Vinci
 
Paint a vivid picture and implant yourself in your Dream. What does it look like? 
What’s your Mona Lisa Dream? 

 

One of the first steps to dreams is to go beyond simply saying you will do something or be something at the surface level. It needs to run deep and truly be something you can visualize yourself doing and being. You want to paint a picture in your mind that’s as detailed as you can possibly imagine. Make your dreams a reality in your mind. Envision yourself living your dream. Imagine everything about yourself and also note who and what you are around. What’s different than your current life and what’s the same? Dream this as well. You want the Mona Lisa painting of your dream! What will this dream of mine look like in the most detail I can ever imagine? Paint a vivid picture (your Mona Lisa Dream) and implant yourself in it. Now look around, imagine, and create in the most intricate detail you can.
Some people do this by writing, talking, creative outlets such as vision boards, or a combination of these three or countless others. The key is to do whatever you need to do in order to paint the picture of your dream in your mind. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Everyone is different and that’s what makes us unique and in turn our dreams unique.
Now, when you paint your dream… please do not implant in your dream people who are criticizing you in your dream including yourself! This limits the detail and beauty you can create the first thing and you may not even get past the dream stage. Remove these barriers. Paint your dream (your Mona Lisa Dream) in detail without negativity.
Many people always say that you can get ahead of yourself with thinking too much. I certainly do not think this is the case in the beginning. There’s a fine line later on, but in the beginning… think with all your might, paint the Mona Lisa version of your dream and implant yourself in it. It’s later on that thinking will get the best of you. Start by creating your Mona Lisa Dream in vivid detail.
 
Create Lasting Inspiration, Confidence, and Enthusiasm while Sparking Creativity
 
Painting your Mona Lisa dream does a wonder on creating lasting inspiration, confidence, and enthusiasm. If you don’t do this level of dreaming or cannot do so, you stand a chance of easily moving onto the next dream instead of making anything a reality, giving into poor criticism that just isn’t true or negativity by those around you or yourself, and you simply have nowhere to turn back to once you hit a wall or a hard spot with your dreams. This painting will also spark creativity. It does so by allowing your mind to not be bound by the present (where your life lives without making your dreams a reality) or by negativity. It allows you to think with a fresh sheet of paper for your mind. You’ve created this and it is truly beautiful. The sheet of paper was blank before you dreamed and now it’s so lush of reality and beauty. So much so that you are confident and passionate about your dream entirely more than ever before this.
You have it in you to create…Remember this, always.
Paint your Mona Lisa Dream.
Hold your Dream in the Corner of your Mind left Untouched and Put Away but Easily Accessible
 
Now that you have painted your dream (your Mona Lisa Dream) and implanted yourself in it, you need to hold that dream in the corner of your mind left untouched and put away but easily accessible! This is the point where if you continue to think and think and think about your dream, you will hurt yourself. You still must pull your picture out, but it has to have a time and a place. Pull your painted dream out of the corner of your mind when you need to. You should regularly pull it out, but not so much that it overwhelms your ability to take action and make progress. Every person and even dream might differ in how much they can go back to their painting and dream stage. The key here is that you want to be able to make your dream a reality by creating action yet you still want that painting to fall back to in order to remind yourself of your dream and to keep you mentally fresh and creative.
Act and Plan and Be Open to Change
 
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Now, you’re in the action phase. Start by making a plan, however, if you haven’t yet. Even if your plan is not all entirely fool-proof, you act. Then, perfect your plans, if needed. Be open to change. Take that picture you created (Your Mona Lisa Dream), and make it real, step by step.
Progress towards your dream.
 
There’s a reason the word act is before plan in the above. You must be open to change. Change involves taking action by tweaking your painting as you make your dreams become a reality. Please never lose sight of or throw away your original Mona Lisa. You pull it out when needed.
You enhance it, perfect it, and let its beauty shine through even more. Continue to work on your Mona Lisa Dream.
You can do it!
(Photo by Jared Erondu on Unsplash)

Old Treasures can Spark Memories of our Inner Passions and Help us with our Future

Today, I was sitting at a local coffee shop flipping through an old folder on my computer full of pieces of writing I started years ago. I found a book I started drafting about my life that I started writing about 9 years ago (when I was only 20 or 21 years old!) but I never finished. 
Even if you don’t read all of the old scribbles that I share below, my intent with this post is to share a simple, positive message…We’ve had it in us all along to create and follow our passions even if we don’t necessarily think we have. Our past can reveal a lot about ourselves and our inner passions, and in turn, can even help us with our future. 

Right before I ran across this writing draft today, I read an article about something similar. (Ironic, huh?) If you have the time, I highly recommend this article titled, “To Find Your Next Act, Look Back To Your Childhood”. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2017/10/29/to-find-your-next-act-look-back-to-your-childhood/#10c251365376

Below I share the few pages of unedited writing I started around 9 years ago for a book called, “Life of Aleesa”. 

What should you do when you have faced many battles to get to your future? This is a question that is reoccurring in my mind each day. When I came from the ground bottom, and I have fought hard to make to where I am now, I feel as though I should spread my experience to others in a community serving – life-touching way. My story is a challenge that I hope to enlighten others to forgo so they will see what life will bring them. Go the distances and do everything you can to make your goals and dreams in life a reality.

I grew up in a single parent, poverty-challenged lifestyle. It wasn’t evident to me until I noticed in the lunch lines in elementary school my lunches were registered differently than other students. Why was I unable to get the ali-carte lunch menu? I noticed something was different about me. Every weekend my mom and went to the local panty to receive our box full of the necessities we needed to make it through. For many years at Christmas time, remembering faintly, I remember walking into a small corner room connected to a downtown business building. Inside it was like the North Pole before Santa made his deliveries, in my mind that is. Why did I go to an unfamiliar building for Christmas presents and not my apartment? It was hitting me that I was different.

I was told at young age in a settle way that college was important. My grandmother made me a unicorn bank when I was born which was placed on a tall shelf in my bedroom throughout early childhood. My mother would put a few pennies in the bank and say leave this here and keep adding to it throughout your school years and maybe just maybe you’ll have enough money saved to go to college.

It was always there inside me after the realization that I was different than others that I had to be different than most children. I would detain from my friends and talk to grown ups as though I was all grown up. I wanted to change the way things were. I told my mom I would find a job so we could get a house when I was only nine. I was unaware that no one would hire me. I know now what she must have felt. I learned the greatness of charity and donation at a young age. The nearby Christian Summer Camp named Kimble Camp always seemed interesting to me, but my mom would always say it was too much money. One year the camp offered students to come to the camp for fundraising efforts. Walking door to door around the community and standing just inside by the doorway at a local gas station named Eddie’s I raised all $700.00 to attend camp that summer. I felt great! I knew hard work meant you can receive something that’s great. I continued fundraising to attend for five years after. School was important to me growing up. I was told again and again by mother I could do anything and be anything. I was going to make it happen.

I was the nerd that everyone wanted their homework answers from. I was the unfashionable queen who sat with the “Dirty Ball Crowd” and wore those ugly nylon, stretch around the foot spandex. I was the band geek. I was the National Honor Society member. I was person who respected everyone. I was the news nerd that watched c-span and news reports because that’s the only channels that would come in without cable. I was the one who wore elf ears to help with Santa’s Workshop. I was the shy girl scout. I was the young volunteer who stood outside Walmart in zero degree temperatures ringing the Salvation Army bell. I was the girl who’s family bought food at Save-A-Lot.

Embracing our Moments in Life

This week I had a work-related conference to attend to Baltimore, Maryland. Even though the conference was on Thursday and Friday this week, I came into Baltimore early on Wednesday and plan to leave late Sunday afternoon. I really want to take the time to enjoy the experience of being away from home and in a unique city.
Today I was reminded of just how much this embracing of the work-travel experience is different than some do. My colleagues all left Baltimore immediately after the conference. They had no particular reason to get home immediately. It seemed as if they merely only cared about the conference and that was it. In a rush to get back to their lives back home, it seemed.
Embracing the time we are given away from our natural surroundings can give us a different perspective on life. Embrace an experience beyond that required, and give yourself ample time to just enjoy the new experience. Feel the energy difference, people watch, enjoy good food, walk around the new city without a plan, and let life unfold, unbound by self-imposed time-constraints or expectations. I certainly feel that my colleagues are missing out, but I will not let this bother me. I share to show different perspectives on work-travel.
I met a 20-year old man on the light-rail into Baltimore this week. All this started by asking him if this was the right way to get into downtown Baltimore from the airport. A mere second of choosing to ask for help and kindly giving others a chance to interact with you can lead to a totally different outcome. We started talking from then on about Baltimore and simple information about ourselves. We found so much in common, and it was quite ironic. Somehow I wonder if we were meant to meet? Life is full of wonders, huh? Hmm…
He did clinical trial human subject participation as a living and made a huge amount of money doing so. Very unique and interesting work. It so happens that I administer grants and know about clinical trial work as well. We had such a great time talking. Our stop off the light-rail was at the same place too. We got off the light rail and decided to walk around Baltimore together. It was quite great! Normally, I might revert to my turtle, groundhog traits (haha!) and never, ever do something like this. However, again, I found that embracing the moment can lead to such different outcomes than had I stayed in my shell or put a time-constraint on my experience.
Have you embraced the moment like this before and the outcome came out totally different than expected? Life, I think, can be changed by our ability to allow these small moments to not be bound by time, expectations, and other limitations we set for ourselves.
I wonder… how would my time be here in Baltimore had I not taken 2 seconds to ask a stranger for help and what if I left immediately after the conference like my colleagues did?…
I stand positive that embracing the moment here led to an experience in my life that was much more interesting and will leave a memory for years to come. So, I think in life if we embrace the moment and not give ourselves such restricted time-constraints or expectations, we can alter the state of our experiences and life-memories for the better.
Inner Harbor – Baltimore, Maryland

The Christmas I will Never Forget – A True Life Learning Experience

Since this is a published article on Medium.com with The Composite, I will simply provide the link to this article I wrote back on 12/10/2016.

xmas
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