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Reflect

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Question: What does Florida Atlantic University alumna Markella Haynes ’14 have in common with the television character Jack Bauer?

Answer: Markella and Jack have both demonstrated the ability to accomplish more than a few things in “24” hours.

On Monday, Kyle and I signed our lease for our first apartment together and the butterflies have yet to cease. I chose the responsible path in college, saving myself some pennies by staying home, living in my parent’s house as I finished up my education. And finally, finally we feel like we are in a reasonable financial place to make a place our own. Break out the champagne! I’m a renter!

Now it may not be the most gorgeous or the most updated, but every penny going into it is all ours and I couldn’t be more proud of us. We had to get renter’s insurance and put electric and cable in our names and it feels so right. We already started buying furniture and dipping into those savings we worked hard to maintain.

Along with this, it’s been a month since I started my full-time job at the station. I haven’t started training for the associate producer side of things, but I am getting used to being an assignment editor while it lasts. I know being an AP and an AE is not where I want to stop. I’m not in my dream job just yet, but I am on the road to learning necessary skills that will lead me to a succScreen Shot 2014-07-16 at 1.36.35 PMessful future.

On top of all this, I was reminded just how grand my university was to me. A couple weeks ago I was offered to tell my story and how I got into my current position, and now it’s the homepage success story! My big, tired face is plastered on the FAU.edu homepage as soon as you press ENTER. My story goes through my day-to-day activities as a studio camera operator, while being a full-time student and navigating clubs and honor societies. I wish you could truly put how hard I worked into words, but I think this comes pretty close to it!

If you told me to wipe this smile off my face, I would say it can’t be done! Everything is falling into place so gently and I can’t believe how things have worked out. It hasn’t all been cake and I know it won’t be in the future, but so far things have been so smooth. In my new job I’m learning more about myself and my skills than I ever knew before. My new home will be such a sigh of relief to finally make things my own. And being able to this all with the support of my healthy, loving family is more than I could ever ask for.

 

What I Learned from the #100HappyDay Challenge

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Can you be happy for 100 days in a row?

That was the goal of the #100happyday challenge.

On February 23 2014, I wrote an article for WPTV on the #100HappyDay Challenge explaining a new social media phenomenon where users are supposed to document one thing that makes them happy everyday for 100 days. According to 100happydays.com, the purpose of the movement is this: “We live in times when super-busy schedules have become something to boast about. While the speed of life increases, there is less and less time to enjoy the moment that you are in. The ability to appreciate the moment, the environment and yourself in it, is the base for the bridge towards long-term happiness of any human being.”  

By noticing what makes us happy and documenting it, it claims that finishers will:

” – Be in a better mood every day;
– Start receiving more compliments from other people;
– Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
- Become more optimistic;
– Fall in love during the challenge.”

(You can read my entire WPTV article here: http://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/water-cooler/100happydays-challenge-encourages-users-to-record-what-makes-them-happy-for-100-days)

As of two days ago, I successfully documented 100 days of my happiness. On the 101st, I was a little confused about what to do with myself. I was so used to sharing the joys of my everyday life with my friends and family, I felt like the last one had to mean something. But as I mentioned in my last posting, my life is super calm and I find such serenity and bliss in everyday life. I laugh throughout the entire workday, even if I have to wake up at 2:30am to get there. I unnoticeably stare into my boyfriend’s eyes and wonder how I became so lucky. I smile and call my mom without hesitation every time I get into the car. These things I do everyday. MarkellaHaynesThe first day without the #100happydays was a strange day. I continued to take pictures of little things that made me happy, like the coziness of the blanket in my room, my boyfriend snuggling in to kiss our cat on the head, a giant salad my family made for dinner.

And it made me realize something.

The #100happyday challenge didn’t make me happy, but made me want to share my happiness with others. I don’t claim to ever be the type of person who never has a speck of disappointment or failure because believe me, I do get annoyed and irritated and down. But the #100happyday challenge helped me to realize the small daily things that make me happy. The little things that build up the castle that protect me against the deafening punches life throws at me. It’s all about seeing the good in everyday. I didn’t post the photos to be boastful, but to express my gratitude for the things in my life that keep me positive.

Being able to recognize the things that made me happy made me want others to be happy with me. I wanted them to feel my excitement of getting a new job, or be able to watch the sunrise every morning or my cat’s sleeping face. I wanted them to see that being happy in your current situation and in your daily life was possible.

Some of the more memorable #100happydays were days like #day86 when Kyle and I were able to sit at an outside bar and enjoy the sunlight together over drinks and turkey sandwiches. Or #day60 when I handed in one of my last college finals of my life. And #day35 when my two good friends and I had wine and pizza night and chatted and I got no sleep before work the next morning. Life has been fantastically magical.

If you could place check-marks next to those benefits of completing the challenge, I would definitely have most of them tallied off. I didn’t even have to “find the time” to document these things, but it became a natural occurrence to notice the beauty of the day, whatever it may be.

MarkellaHaynes

Calm Life

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Image It’s not that I don’t want to move mountains or feast on the riches that the world has to offer. It’s not that I’m scared to leave or be alone. It’s not even the money because that could all be arranged. But the more and more I meandered through college, the more I realized that I didn’t have big dreams like my classmates. They would talk about heading to the big apple after graduation, or backpacking across Europe as a graduation present. Their eyes would light up as they spoke about moving to L.A. to pursue Hollywood. And there was me, trying to think of a dream that seemed big enough to live up to their standards of living.

As I grew more confident in myself and who I was, really was, I figured out it’s ok to want a calm life. I want to have an exhilarating job, that I go to everyday and people say “just ask Markella! She knows everything!” I want to plant some roots in a city where I can point out where my first kiss was, where my brothers and I went to the park and flew kites with friends, the house where my Nana would take us the pool in the summer. I want to be married and have children and fall into our lives. I wouldn’t quite say that mediocrity and routine is what I’m looking for, but comfort and calmness. I want to come home on Friday nights and kick off my shoes, call my mom to come over for a chat over a glass of wine. I want my dad to be nearby when I have a nervous breakdown and need his constant and continual sense of “you’ll make this work” despite the situation. I want to watch my brothers grow, start their own families and lives. I want to be close to my family, who I grew up with just a stone throw away from my house. I don’t want to have to go to someone’s funeral someday and say “wow. I hadn’t even seen my grandma in seven years.”  I want to be close and familiar.

I want to see more Grecian sunsets, but maybe on my honeymoon or on a family vacation. I would love to visit New York someday and look up at the pretty buildings and imagine working in one of those windows. But not as my life, just part of it.

It’s ok to be happy with a calm life because that’s who I am. I am calm and I crave calm. I love to be challenged, but I love the still of the morning when I can hear those annoying birds chirp on the lake or the early 3am hours when my house is sleeping and I’m tiptoeing around getting ready for work.

It took me a while to get used to wanting this kind of life. It’s hard to listen to friends talk about dreams of moving and having careers that take over their lives, but that’s just not me. I love being comfortable in my town. I like seeking adventure in that comfort and making the best of little situations.

I applaud those who move far away to pursue their dreams, but I am finally settled in the fact that I am who I am and that’s ok.

Nostalgia

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Nostalgia,  noun \nä-ˈstal-jə, nə- also nȯ-, nō-; nə-ˈstäl-\ Meaning: pleasure and sadness that is caused by remembering something from the past and wishing that you could experience it again.

I have some fantastic and life changing news that I haven’t officially revealed to the world yet (and by that I simply mean I have only told family and some friends, but haven’t revealed it on social media thus far ((which is basically everything nowadays))).  On Friday May 16, I was offered and accepted my first full-time job at WPTV NewsChannel 5 as an Associate Producer/Assignment Editor. My duties will include assisting in the writing of the nightly news, creating graphics, running the front news desk, deciphering breaking news and story ideas, organizing the newsroom story assignments, listening to police scanners and watching social media like a hawk for news. 

I could not be more excited or proud to be only a couple weeks out of college and have landed this job at a top-rated station in South Florida, where I grew up and spent my life and hope to stay. I can’t wait to tell everyone when I officially sign the acceptance papers, hopefully this week! 

It couldn’t have been better timing that my brother tells me he has a surprise for me and plops down a blue folder with that familiar handwriting with “Markella Haynes” written at the top. He found some old T.V. Production papers in my old studio/classroom from high school. Papers with essays describing how magically frightful I was about my future as a journalist and working with the media. How job shadowing at the Palm Beach Post and my first internship with Clear Channel made me giddy for my career. In four or five short years, I went from being a starry-eyed high-schooler ready to take on college and hopefully land incredible internships to a full-time employee at WPTV. 

What a rush to think back to making goofy music videos from local bands, to winning video contests about fair housing and making serious mini-documentaries about my ill brother… that was all the beginning. Spending hours in the edit bays, getting Bs in my other classes to focus on TV Production, sticking with TV despite my unapologetic, discouraging control-freak of an instructor; It all lead to where I am. It was all in the divine plan. 

My life has only just begun but I now know that hard work does pay off. If you keep your head held high, feet planted firmly on your ground and humbleness in your heart, you can achieve anything. As I wrote previously, this world is so amazing. No matter what obstacles life throws at you, anyone can achieve greatness. My parents taught us that it’s only up to ourselves to make things happen, and I think this signifies that I’m on my way. 

Why You Should Appreciate Your Local News Stations

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Next month it will be a year that I’ve worked at a top-rated NBC local TV news station. Since my job is a very basic, backseat sort of job, I’ve had a lot of time to listen and learn about the things going on around me. The people, yes, people working in live TV news are some of the most dedicated, people-oritented creatures we should know and love. But through the past year, I’ve seen several anchors painfully distraught over the harmful and degrading letters from viewers picking on their every “flaw” from not liking what they’re wearing, to criticizing how they say words, to blaming them for technical glitches. The more experienced talent, editors and producers definetly have grown a shield to sworn off angry viewers. I even saw a complaint letter tacked on the wall at the station explaining how this viewer is not watching us anymore because we had lousy commercials.

A news station never closes. There are producers and assignment editors and video editors and talent at the station all hours of everyday. They work tirelessly trying to get the news out to you, being the diggers and discoverers of our world. Unfortunately, with the popularization of social media, this allows viewers to attack news stations 24-7 on multiple outlets. I wish people would take a second to recognize how hard news stations work for the people. Journalism is known to have low pay, but these people are waking up at midnight to head into work so you can catch up on the news while you sleepily wake up in your warm bed every morning. They sacrifice family time, weekends, sleep, and their better judgement to get the right stories out. There are slip-ups; it’s live. If life was perfect, so would live newscasts. But the amount of harsh and unnecessary criticism I’ve seen in the past year is a little sickening. Plus- people blame camera operators for not switching the camera that’s on air, the teleprompter for when the anchors can’t pronounce a word. But they have no idea what’s going on or who messed up or what computer glitches are happening. A monitor basically caught on fire one time at work and viewers start freaking out about why the right video wasn’t playing. You don’t know.

It may come down to more of a worldly dilemma, if people have a chance to bring someone else down, they will. But for some reason people expect local news stations to be perfect. The people behind the cameras, actually writing and telling the news; they aren’t perfect so why do you expect the show to be? There are no rehearsals. There is no practice time. These people are here for you. And only for you. Obviously there are the fantastic viewers, who are so supportive of the entire team. And if you’re that type of person — thanks for making the world a happier place!

Take the time to write on your local stations social media accounts and tell them how much you appreciate their hard work. It could go to say that everyone in every profession needs to hear that they are doing a good job, but for the people who work for the viewers everyday, just give them a quick shout out.

Make the world a little bit brighter everyday.

The Most Important Class I Took in College

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Graduation was just a week ago today and since I’m only working part-time for the time being, I’ve had time to reflect on my college experience.

Besides my major-based classes like broadcast journalism and multimedia journalism, I took a class the summer of my sophomore year that changed everything for me. It was called “Writing for Management” and during a accelerated six week course, it taught me business techniques that I had been longing to learn. In that class I learned the ins-and-outs of writing a compelling resume, including but not limited to what work descriptions to include, what order skills should go in, why you should change your resume up to fit a job, etc.

My teacher, whose name escapes me at the moment, was strict and taught us as if we were really in the middle of getting critiqued at a job. She taught us how to write a cover letter, how to search for internships/jobs, how to write thank you cards and memos. She drilled us with interview questions and expected us to know how to dress for a job interview, complete with how to verbally communicate that you were strong, dedicated and eligible for the job.

These types of classes should be necessary in American education. How many times have we heard young 20-somethings, including myself, complain because we know nothing about taxes, how to take out a loan, how to have a successful job interview, where to buy checks. I could not tell you one thing I learned in 10th grade American History or even in Mass Communication Theory in college, but I could recite to you all that I learned in my six week Writing for Management class sophomore year of college. It wasn’t even a class I was mandated to take, but it was one of the most useful ways I spent my summer.

I encourage everyone to take a class like this, even if it’s only at your local YMCA. It taught me everything I know as a 22-year-old hopeful business leader.

Happiness

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“Well I’m what I am and I’m what I’m not
I’m sure happy with what I’ve got
I live to love and laugh a lot
And thats all I need.”

 

Listening to music on my way home from work this morning, this lyrical memorandum stuck with me.

And I thought:

I just want to love and laugh a lot for my entire life too. 

I am only as much as my body and mind will take me. I can’t change that. So why not just appreciate it? 

If I remember that love and laughter is all I need maybe it will make the next 60 years of my life that much more golden.  

Tattooed on my chest, all that I’m after is a life full of laughter. 

My New Year’s Resolution

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I didn’t have a self-proclaimed New Year’s resolution this year. Not that I ever do, but it’s the thought around the first of the year like, “I have to make this year better!” In all honesty, I worked so hard in 2013 that I didn’t feel like I needed to change much for myself. I wanted to keep on the same track, working hard, loving each day and looking towards God to guide me in the right direction. 

So if I couldn’t change something for myself, I was going to help make a difference in someone else’s life. For the past two months, I’ve been making a point to compliment someone once a day via social media. I’ve heard so many people complain about how “social media isn’t your diary!” or “we don’t care” about the posts via Facebook. And to some degree, I understand those statements. Some things you just need to keep to yourself and may be a little too personal to let everyone know. But obviously those who are posting these cries for attention actually need some genuine attention. When someone posts that they just ran their first mile in five years, I make sure to tell them that someone is proud of them. Even if I barely talk to them, I let them know someone out there is reading and someone cares. 

Sometimes rants on social media are just soul’s trying to reach out. Maybe they feel that they have no one else to turn to. Maybe they just need someone to notice what they’ve been going through. Maybe they just want someone to be proud of them. All I know is that if one of my Facebook friends that I barely knew gave me a nice compliment out of the blue, it would make my day. I hope to make their day too. 

Why My Mom Gives the Best Advice By Not Giving Advice

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Throughout my life, I’ve always told my mom everything. She is the first person I call as soon as I have a free second, who I’m texting throughout the entire day, who I complain to and tell really pointless stories to. No matter what – she listens and responds with great enthusiasm. I always knew I was lucky to be so incredibly close to her and felt so comfortable sharing my life with her.

ImageLately, I’ve come to realize why I am able to do that. Not only is she a very judgement-free, lighthearted and loving person, but because she doesn’t give me advice. My mom has always treated me like a person. Keeping quiet when she knew I was about to make a silly mistake, letting me talk myself through things. We rarely end a conversation with her trying to convince me to do something different, or change my mindset. When I talk to her, I feel like I’m talking to an older sister. She’s always been on my side, understanding and listening to me, rather than trying to project her opinions and personal experiences on me.

I’m not going to lie, I was/am a pretty responsible kid. I absolutely hate getting in trouble and love accomplishments. I don’t recall really ever going through a phase where I hated my parents and locked myself in my room/dungeon for any reason besides I was trying to do homework. But my mom has always approached my aimless babble with a kind heart and open ears.

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Sometimes I do need her. But I am not afraid to ask for it. “What do you think I should do?” Unless I’m in danger or am about to drain my savings account on a new Michael Kors bag, she supports me and what I say.

My mom gives the best advice by not giving advice at all. She listens to me, instead of having a predetermined view of how a situation in my life is going to go based on her own. By her doing so, she has stitched love, affection, understanding and empathy into the seams of my life.

Smart Decisions

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Flashback to December 2009. I was sitting in my sweatpants and oversized Class of 2010 t-shirt, filling out college applications and praying for my SAT scores to magically inflate overnight. I was mad at myself – I didn’t try hard enough. I spent most of my high school days working four or five days a week at Rotelli, focusing on my TV production classes and ignoring all my core classes. I didn’t join enough clubs, or get accepted into enough honor societies and now I was kicking myself for spending so much time learning to serve tables and a lengthy dinner menu.

But there I was, scouring the Florida Atlantic University website, trying to decipher if I applied there or not. But then I saw it – I was accepted and was offered a $3,000/yr grant for four years. My world slowly melted away. I sat up a little straighter and my eyes widened so much I’m sure I looked like I just saw a ghost. My feet suddenly took control and I ran into my mom’s room as she was hanging up laundry.

“I’m going to Florida Atlantic University!”

It was hard in high school. People were getting into prestigious colleges, completing with GPAs well over a 4.0. And there I was, wearing my black work uniform to the only after school event I could make because I had to go to work. People rubbed it in my face that I was only going to a local university and I definitely lost “friends” because I suddenly was not important. I was the girl that was staying home and ignoring the college experience because she didn’t have a pre-paid college fund.

Throughout my college career, I also received a Bright Futures Scholarship and the Angelos Langadas Scholarship. But I did it all on my own. My parents didn’t hold my hand and click the mouse around for me. My parents didn’t even have to say, “Now Markella, you’re going to have to pay for college on your own.” I just knew I had to. There was no money to pay for all my schooling.

I think because of this, I became much more independent, even living under my parents roof. I landed a real-life, big girl job in the real world, with a work ladder ready for me to climb as soon as I graduate in May. I’ve been working since I was 16, which definitely taught me the value of a hard earned dollar and humbled me. I was home to be with my family as my grandma went through terribly hard times in and out of the hospital and to see my brothers grow up into men and my parents in love.

After my brother was diagnosed with epilepsy, I never wanted to burden my parents. I knew they had a lot on their plate and I didn’t want to add another whopping scoop of mash potatoes. I knew it was up to me.

After four years at FAU, I am more proud of myself than I have ever been. It has been a hard four years, but I did it myself. My university didn’t just give it to me. I worked for it. It’s not part of the curriculum to do what I’m doing, which makes it that much sweeter to walk into the studio every morning and smell hazelnut coffee coming from the newsroom. I made it here myself.

The only loan I had to take out was for the summer, when grants or scholarships didn’t apply. And today I paid that loan off with the educational assistance money WPTV gave me for furthering my education.

After I paid my bill over the phone, the representative said to me, “Congratulations on finishing college without any loans!”

And in that moment I knew I made a smart decision.