Saturday, September 15, 2012


Stories to come, but for now, PICTURES... which are most definitely worth a thousand words. Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One Girl Remembering 9/11 "Family" Style

In my attempt to do everything today (work and attend over six hours of meetings), I sat in the closest cubicle next to the conference room for the bi-weekly staff meeting so I could strum on my keyboard and listen. 

Here in DC, we’re an interesting office—I describe us often as a family.  We live an open office lifestyle: we hear each other’s phone conversations (and follow-up with an email when we hear our name being said), and we celebrate every birthday, new arrival and sad departure.  But the biggest reason why we’re a family is that we care about each other, deeply.  A day doesn't go by where regardless of how busy our family is we sincerely care about how each other are doing.  

The staff/family meeting started traditionally enough, with a moment to talk with your neighbor about summer activities and what one did over the weekend, but on this not-so-random Tuesday in September, we took a moment to reflect on Sept. 11, 2001.

The executive director said a few words and implied that we should take a moment, right there, in silence.  What happened next, though, is the moment of silence turned into sharing, out loud… I stopped strumming.

We all know Sept. 11, 2001; it’s the day when 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four planes and attacked the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and United Flight 93 that crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania when the passengers attempted to take over control.

What I heard next from my family moved me:  Sept. 11 was a Tuesday, just like today.  Sept. 11 was a clear and cool, crisp morning with a welcoming big-blue sky, just like today.  People remembered where they were – walking to work, working at different organizations and with different co-workers, or taking their kids to school – and I remembered where I was, just a youngster in the eighth grade who walked out of English class and into the chaos of chatter in my Science class… and then, my teacher turned the TV on.

Eleven years later, myself, and the family that I continued to listen to, had not forgotten the moments of fear and overall uncertainty of 9/11. Eleven years later, one co-worker reflected on how he would tell his kids about where he was on that day. Eleven years later, another co-worker shared that she knew two people who died in the WTC, they were college roommates from Hawaii.

But 11-years later, we all also reflected on hope.  Go and experience the memorials in DC and New York , the ceremonies and the flags, and cherish the moments of sharing where you were and why it’s important to remember—for our nation and for ourselves.

We are working professionals. But we are also a diverse family and during those few moments as I listened, almost like an outsider to my own family, I was reminded that as a nation, our greatest strength is remembering that moving onward and upward together is what we can do for the fallen—today and every day that passes—and to let the blue skies and cool air heal us all with time.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One Girl In: "29 Days of Twitter"

29 Days of Twitter
The tale of going from “hating” to only “semi-hating” the crazed-about social media tool
by Megan Blevins

Hate. I know that it’s a strong word and one that my mom tells me to not use, but my emotion toward Twitter over the years has been just that—hate. I’ve had no issue becoming obsessed with Facebook, Yammer, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, etc, etc… BUT Twitter has been a battle that I haven’t won…Till now.

I decided the morning of February 1, 2012, that I needed to recommit to Twitter. I had an account since March 2011, and hadn’t done much with it; and that’s where it began: the 29 days of February became, “The 29 Days of Twitter.”

Day 1: My Re-Re-Commitment to Twitter... For the next 29 days, I'm diving into Twitter HARDCORE. Follow me! @MeggyBlev

Off the bat, I went to my safe haven of Facebook and used it as my platform to keep track of my 29 days. I was shocked about how many people I know on Facebook actually have Twitter. Within the first few hours, I had over 20 new followers from the social media crossover alone.

Twitter day 4... People actually tweet on the weekend???? Lol.

My main problems with Twitter at the beginning: 1) I see Twitter as additional work. 2) I don’t know what to do with the “information overload that is Twitter? And 3) Most importantly—I hate Twitter.

Twitter, day 7: I'm lazy... why can't I get into Twitter??

Seven days in, and I still wasn’t with it. I retweeted, I read through all the tweets, and tried to respond back to folks on stuff that I liked, but my apathy toward the social media tool was standing in my way.

So what changed?

Twitter, day 9: I got some great advice yesterday on how to tackle the "information overload" that is Twitter. Thanks, Michael Dougherty! Now to saddle up and go!

It seems almost too cliché to say that there was the “light-bulb, epiphany moment,” but that’s exactly how it happened. A simple lunch with Michael Dougherty and some simple advice changed everything, and smashed my two main problems into the ground:

Problem #1: How to make Twitter work for Me? Answer: Make it more than a conversation, make it a connection. I began asking myself simple questions: Who did I want to connect with and why? From day 9 to day 13, I went from 250 followers to 370, with 80 of them being in the first three days. I learned that I didn’t have to respond to every update. I repeat: It’s okay to not respond to every piece of information.

As for Problem #2, seeing Twitter as work, that was easily resolved once I realized how to make Twitter work for me. I was told to think of Twitter as a networking event—if I were to walk into a room full of people, who would I want to talk to the most? Maybe fellow writers or health gurus? Who in that room would I make the best connection with? It’s the same with Twitter—who can I make a connection with (and then a conversation with), and will make my net worth stronger?

From then on out, my daily updates were well, a little more cheery:

Twitter, day 14: I'm really feeling "the love" today... feels good! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Twitter, day 15: I'm ONE follower short of 400... who's it gonna be?!?!?! :) ... I know you want to, lol.

Twitter, day 19... I've actually been tweeting this wknd and it hasn't been that painful... Dare I say it's been "fun?" Lol :)

(This is a response to my cousin via Facebook):

“19 days ago, I was in the same boat with my feelings on Twitter. What's changed? I've learned how to use it to make connections with folks-- either work related who work across the country or with other writers. So it's been pretty good, but it is still "information overload" unless you know what you want out of it.”

From then on out, I wouldn’t say it was “smooth sailing,” but I’ve really opened up my mind to Twitter and to the people who already know so much about it. I’ve received advice along the way (such as use as many @ (at) and #s (hash tags) as possible to optimize views), and I’ve also learned that a simple “Hello” to a new follower really makes a difference.

Twitter, day 29: #likeaboss.

Twenty-nine days later, I have a new-found respect for the social media tool. I started with 200 followers and now have 460. I’ve made some GREAT connections on topics such as gardening, health and fitness, and wildlife, and even more—I’ve made some great connections with AMAZING people. It’s also helped me connect with so many members of the NWF family in the field and around the country.

I plan on continuing what I’ve started—my goal is to have 1000 followers by the end of 2012 (a goal I would have once believed wasn’t obtainable). Am I an expert? Ha, nowhere close. But I can officially say that I don’t hate Twitter anymore J

Thanks to everyone who has helped me along this journey! Feel free to share with others who “hate Twitter,” and don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions (