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I remember the last couple days of 2013 – Kyle and I were driving in his car talking about how much happy, new adventures 2014 was going to bring. And it sure did deliver!

There’s a trending hashtag on Twitter at the moment “#2014in5Words” and I decided to give it a spin.

1. New

2014 brought so many new experiences to my life, it’s uncanny. In 2014, I graduated college, moved out of my parents house, and landed two full-time jobs. I bought a new car and bought enough to furnish an entire apartment with the two pennies I could rub together. This year had so much newness that I truly feel like another person than I did just a year ago. I feel more like an adult, obviously not very seasoned, but trying my best to survive and doing a pretty good job at it!

2. Accomplished 

This year was full of big, but also very little accomplishments that have made me extremely happy. First of all, I graduated with my BA from FAU and by the skin of my teeth I achieved a 3.5 and graduated Cum Laude – despite my almost full time work schedule, and being president of clubs and an active member in honor societies. I felt like it nearly killed me, but my persistence paid off and my achievement is printed smack tab in the middle of my degree.

3. Changes

This word is the biggie. Let alone what I’ve mentioned in the last two ‘words’, but this year I completely jumped ship from pursing a job in news and landed an exciting new job in advertising. Since I was in 5th grade, news just seemed like where I was going to end up. I was an anchor on our elementary school morning announcements and took TV production classes all 4 years of high school, so my degree in journalism just seemed obvious to use in news. After working as a camera operator at WPTV and loving it, I knew where my heart was. But after I got my full-time job in the newsroom, I realized it was not for me. As soon as I realized the popularity and being able to say “I work for the news!” didn’t pay my bills or make me feel like the positive person I was, it was time for a change. I now work for an advertising agency and I am so much happier. It’s what I envisioned myself feeling while at work. It’s obviously not my last stop in my career path, but it’s an amazing first step.

4. Love

Really, this word is a part of every year, but I included it anyway. This year has yet again proved to me who truly loves me and is here for me. I’ve always been very busy, very wrapped up in my own life to have too many friends that drag me down. This year Kyle and I moved in together and suddenly the flood gates of love came pouring out — not only from my boyfriend, but also from my family. My family spent an entire day moving boxes, putting together furniture, helping us unpack and grocery shop for us to feel comfortable in our cozy new apartment. They have given us countless encouragements and have never once openly doubted that we’re not going to make it on our own. But Kyle has also been a big love bug. He surprises me with little things all the time and it makes me so happy. I get to fall asleep next to him every night, even if he doesn’t get home from work until 2am and I have to be up at 7am. We make it work and he has just been the sweetest. He grocery shops for all my favorite foods, leaves me gifts and little notes around the house and hugs me every time I come home.

5. Grow

This year was all about growth. Growing into my own person with my own goals and dreams. I started to become stronger and more grounded with who I am and what I want. I realized so many things about myself and love the way I feel when I’m driving to work just before 9am, listening to the radio, drinking my tea and thinking that I get to go to work at such an incredible agency. Going to work and learning new things everyday has kept my attention span and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve learned to juggle rent, a car payment, insurance, water, electric and credit cards. It’s been a whirlwind of new, accomplishing, changing, loving, and growing experiences, but it has all pointed me to be sitting here on a Sunday morning, waiting for my boyfriend to wake up so we can go buy Christmas presents for our loved ones with the money we earned.

So happy.

Follow Your Arrow

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And I’m on to my next adventure!

In the past three months, I’ve completely changed career paths and I am so happy I did so. Spending more time in the newsroom, I started to realize that I wanted to be happier. Not that there was anything wrong with my workplace, but I knew something wasn’t right.

The sad truth is this: News is depressing and I am not.

So I changed it. I saw an opportunity, did a cross-my-heart-hope-to-die-stick-a-needle-in-my-eye kind of dance and tried something new. I am now a social media coordinator at an amazing advertising agency and once again feel my goofy, light-hearted mood coming back.

I also moved in with my best friend and boyfriend of six and a half years. I’ve never been so confident that this is the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. He surprises me with cute sticky notes, stocks the pantry full of my favorite foods, does the dishes every morning and lets me hog the bed a little too much. The warmness I feel in my heart when he comes home from work and asks about my day is a feeling I want to have with me forever. No arguments yet — just a lot of laughter, talking and watching him eat his bologna sandwich with sleepy eyes because I’ve been up since 7am and he didn’t get off work until midnight. It’s so comforting coming home to my own space and not feeling overrun by everything around me.

Casey Musgraves once said, “Say what you think. Love who you love. Cause you just get so many trips around the run. You only live once. So follow your arrow wherever it points.”

I feel that I’m doing just that. The more I learn to go with the flow and trust how I feel, the more I feel at home in my own skin and in my life.

New World

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Shoe references just seem to fit my current situation so well.

Up until this morning, I felt like a little girl wearing her mom’s big grown up shoes. I was walking around the world stumbling and trying to find my place and force others to believe that I was the owner of these beautiful, black wedges and I knew what I was doing. After every trip and wrong turn, I felt compelled to prove to others I wasn’t the little girl I appeared to be, but an adult.

I heard it so many times. “You’re SO young! You’re such a baby! Were you even born then?!” 

Being the youngest at work was usually one of my little joys. I was at the same level as all these well established men and women, but they saw right through me to who I still was. A little girl.

Every morning I slipped on a pair of heels, feeling awkward and out of place, and walked out the door trying to make others see who I felt like inside. I wasn’t the 22-year-old newbie, but a smart and ambitious young woman with goals to accomplish.

It never worked. I always got the same comments: “You were born WHEN!?” That little joy of mine started to fade and I became self-conscious and bummed out.

I was the baby. 

But today, in some odd, magical way, the shoes finally fit. 

I wasn’t tripping or dragging those heels around anymore. I wasn’t stuffing socks in the toe to make others believe I was an adult and I fit my new role. Suddenly, I just was one.

Cleaning my own apartment, cooking lunch and spying that beautiful new car in the parking lot, I finally felt settled in my new world. 

I look around and feel proud that all the finishing touches to this apartment, including the walls, water, electricity, cable, Internet (excluding this awesome couch housewarming present from my parents! Love you guys!) was all because of my hard work.

My new world is finally feeling like my own. 

And let me tell you, I am rockin’ these big girl shoes. 


Leaving Home

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I’m currently standing at a crossroads between what I’ve ever known to be reality and the rest of my life.

I’m wearing one bright white sneaker with pink flowers with frilly white socks folded over, ready to run out to the caterpillar jungle gym at Manatee Elementary and one black business high heel ready to take the career world by storm.

Not going away to college gave me some of the best years — being able to understand my parents at the level of an adult and spend four more years learning and growing with my family. While many of my peers chose to jump into the deep end with their floaty wings on, I chose to stay in the shallow end and learn to tread water myself.

Now here I am. 22-years-old. Awesome job in advertising making more than many of my friends. Steady, committed relationship of nearly 7 years. Ready to start making my way from the 4-feet kiddy pond to the big people 10-feet deep end.

Tonight is my last night in my childhood home with my family. I have lived on Providence Road since I was 5-years-old. And as much as I have taught myself to hold in my sadness and look for the positives, I can’t help but well up every time I hear that my parents will miss me. It’s quickly gulped down and met with laughter and a sly joke, but the feelings are there.

With great excitement and mystery comes great fear. But I’m ready to feel the fear. I’m ready to test out my strength and get moving on what Markella’s life will be like. Unfortunately that means leaving the thing I’ve ever known to be home behind, but I think I’m ok with that. It’s just unsettling knowing I won’t be coming back here.

And to look on the bright side, I know my family and I will be closer because of this change. We won’t be at each other’s throats with annoyance. We’ll have our space. It will be better. My brothers will come over to borrow movies. My mom will come over and tell me how dusty my apartment is and drink wine and laugh with me. My dad will rescue me when I’m drowning in my own life and need someone to debate things with.

I’m sure my mom is a big ball of emotions as she’s reading this. She’s checking my grammar because she’s my personal editor on this blog, whether I asked for it or not. But I just want you to know I am just 5 minutes away. 5 minutes more to get to my house after work. 5 minutes to stop by whenever you want. Anytime.

Another major positive is that I get to move in with the love my life. Since even before we were officially together, we would sit on the phone late at night, day dreaming about living together, waking up together, cooking dinner after a long day, getting mad when the other leaves the toothpaste uncapped. When one chapter finishes, another one begins. It’s just hard to turn the page when I loved this chapter so much.

I know I’m not dipping my feet into murky water, uncharted territory. I have Kyle there to help me through. And the undeniable support from my family at home.

This will be a good thing.



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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.


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.


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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.