Decision to Try

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So many days I spent in here. I used to always pick a seat in the corner and hope that my constant clammering on the keyboard wouldn’t disrupt any of the other students. It’s not that I didn’t have my own computer or that I necessarily liked the computer lab on the second floor, but something about sitting with the other students who were also learning, growing and working inspired me.

And here I am again, 5 years later sitting in the same computer lab at FAU, my old stomping grounds. I’m at orientation with my younger brother, the next Haynes to make that gigantic leap from a class of 700, to a school with almost 30,000 students. As you can guess, nostalgia and reminiscing have been abundant the last two days!

Listening to the current students talk about their college life and getting involved makes me miss the days I spent driving from club event, to honor society meeting, to work, to class. It was hectic and overwhelming, but it gave me purpose.

And purpose has been a word that the FAU orientation leaders have thrown around a lot the last couple days. You’ll find your purpose in college. Perhaps not in the classroom, but what you choose to do when no one is forcing you. What you want to do when you’re not doing it for your resume – that’s where you’ll find your purpose in college.

It’s not like it’s easy! After all, you don’t just walk into your first club meeting and BINGO! It takes time, exploration and dedication to find what your life will be consumed with. For me, that was finding mentorship opportunities and learning to become a leader in the community. I wanted to be that person who everyone said “just as her!”

My rambling may not make any sense, but I’m hear to explain to the timid freshmen that I know it’s tough. I had to work up the courage to join clubs and groups that I didn’t necessarily want to go to. At the time, I’d much rather be at home on the couch watching Netflix until my eyes turned red or with my high school friends talking about how much I missed them. But putting yourself out there, just a little bit, just a simple “Hi, I’d like to learn more” will get you on your way.

Sitting in this computer lab 4 or 5 years ago, I didn’t know who I was supposed to be. It took all that time to be true to myself. It took me time to stop listening to the logical voice in my head, and listen to my soul and my heart. I’m still developing that purpose and that drive to give back to the community and find the right organizational fit. But I couldn’t have done it with out a little “umph” and the decision to try.


Are you born a leader?

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I didn’t realize I was interested in enhancing my leadership skills until my last year of college. I quickly became enthralled with learning about leadership and ways to be a successful person who others looked up to. I immediately joined leadership honor societies, became president of a mentorship club, got my leadership certification and read a trillion articles every night about how to do leadership the justice it deserved. I wish I had realized this potential earlier in my college career.

I guess when you really think about it, I’ve been interested in being a leader since I was young. When I was little I would drag my brothers in my room, set up school desks and cheerfully help them do work that I selected from my 2nd grade workbook. Ok, it was less cheerful and more forceful, but that’s what happens when you’re the oldest of three and the only girl. You want to teach and guide and show them the way. I started developing my leadership skills from that very day, when I realized that force, yelling and frustration was not the way to being a good boss.

So I’ve been thinking: Are you born a leader or is it something to be taught? Is leadership something that is molded from that little spark you’ve always had inside? When you’re younger, you just assume that anyone who is a boss or a manager knows what they’re doing, but what if they don’t and are completely winging it? Maybe they weren’t born with that spark.

A leader is not someone who blames or boasts. A leader is someone who holds their hand out to say “I know it’s tough, but I’ll help”. A leader is someone who knows you don’t know what you’re doing, but has full intentions of you achieving your final goal. Whether that be to check off a line on your to-do list or conquer the world, a leader is someone who is willing to show you the way.

I do believe that anyone can enhance their leadership skills and it’s possible that others have just been inconspicuously learning how to be a good leader since they could walk, talk, think.

Maybe it’s where I fell in my family, how I was raised or just that little voice inside me that wants to do good for others. Whatever the case may be, I am confident I was born to be a leader. I may not leave footprints on the moon or own a seat in the Oval Office, but I do know that I am meant to help others reach their ultimate potential. I was born to be of assistance to others through my goodwill and with a kind heart. And not in anyway by being weak, but being strong and leading others to greatness.

Growing Up Responsible

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“You don’t act 23.”

That statement rolls off of someones tongue at least once a day. I’ve never been the type to want to show my age. I’d rather everyone think I am way beyond my years and have it all together. But lately I’ve been questioning myself – Why am I in such a rush to get older?

Everything has always been laid out for me like someone had showed me my deck of tarot cards and I was on a mission to follow them. Graduate high school, go to college for the one thing I knew I wanted to do, get my degree, get a good job, move out, etc. etc. etc. Now that all those childhood long-term goals have been completed, I’m starting to see all the things that I missed along the way, so many chances to be stupid and carefree. I’ve never been carefree and willing to let myself make silly, immature mistakes. But what if we really are supposed to make them? What if I was so focused on growing up, I forgot to actually be a teenager, and a 20-year-old and a 21,22,23-year-old?

It’s never a bad thing to be the responsible one. The one with a good head on their shoulders. But it is always a bad idea to skip out on the fun for the sake of being good, being bright, being mature.

I told myself while in college “Study now, party later”. I knew that when I graduated college, partying would be so much better because I would have the money, the apartment and the means to have fun. But now that I’m here, I need to start living for the “good in life” and not just the “what’s right in life”. I need to start letting my guard and ambitions down just a touch, so I can start seeing the beauty of the world, and not just the bills.

If you asked me if I could go back to college and party more, I would say you’re out of your mind. But I do wish I let myself live a little more. I wish I let myself go out a little more, and blow things off a little more. I’m still so young, so now I’m ready to feel it!

Why Ellen Degeneres is my Role Model

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Ellen is not like most people. She is not boastful nor proud, but kind, positive and loving. Her talk show focuses on a mixture of achievements, tough times, and regular people just doing the right thing and aims to point of the positivity in everyday life. Not only does she point of the kids who have memorized presidential facts, wives going through a rough patch while their husbands are deployed or regular people who take the time to help a “troubled” delivery driver pick up fallen goods, but she does it all with extreme generosity and sincerity that leads you to believe she is really that kind of person.

Instead of making an app of herself to make more money like Kim Kardashian or transforming her personality to be more like the others like Taylor Swift, she’s stood up for herself, the little people and what she believes in. She is true to herself and doesn’t falter just because times are changing.

In a mature, 23-year-old way, I was always of fan of Taylor Swift for the same way she treated regular people like their lives matter too. But lately, Taylor has seemed to changed course and has hopped on the fame train with all the other musicians and celebrities. She doesn’t seem real anymore.

I’ve read Ellen’s book “Seriously… I’m Kidding” at least 4 times. The way she ties in serious subjects with humor and light-hearted fun convinces me that being that kind of person is a capability. No matter what I do in life, I want to spread joy and possibility wherever I go. I want people to look at me and know what being true to yourself and your morals is possible. You don’t have to blend in to the harshness of the world to be liked. You don’t have to join in on the gossip to feel like you fit in. But you can be like Ellen, and always put others first, leaving every day saying “Be kind the one another”.


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“A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events and outcomes. It is a catalyst and it sparks extraordinary results.”

Life throws you a ton of curveballs. Tuesday could be the best day of your life – you’re just bopping along, making money, driving to work, texting with friends, eating french fries on your living room couch and then BAM. Wednesday comes and your world becomes a dart board and hurtful and negative words are aimed straight for your core. To eradicate the things in life I cannot control, I realized and put into motion two simple plans.

Step 1: It’s hard to see through the hard times and search for what is still good. It can be difficult to stay true to your positive, happy soul when others try to tear you down to build themselves up. Lately, I started reading positive quotes in the mornings before I get up. I scroll through Pinterest, looking for the perfect quote that will get me through my morning and out the door. I usually try to tweet them out to share a little #morningmotivation with my followers (@MarkellaHaynes). Such a wonder what a few mindful, optimistic sayings can do for your integrity! Unfortunately, you can’t help what others say, do, or express, but you can change how you’re going to start each day. Reminding yourself that things will get better and you’re not the only one truly helps me put my feet on the floor and start my day.

Step 2: Do what you love. The old saying goings “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”, but let’s face it – love doesn’t pay bills. No one’s going to pay me try new ice-cream flavors at Ben & Jerry’s (but if someone is offering, I can send you my resume!)  It’s important to have a job that you love, but coming home to sit on the couch doesn’t really make my heart beat any faster.  I’ve realized, after straying from being a “college student” and growing into an adult, I love volunteering. I love community service and helping others through tough times. I applied to a women empowerment and community service organization to start doing my part in my community and feeding my heart strings.

Wash away the negative experiences from yesterday and train yourself to be better. Even if you end the day disappointed and upset, start the next day with a clean heart and an open mind. Do the things that make you happy, even if some hours of the week you just have to buckle down and get work done. Be free, positive and strong and suddenly, the hard things won’t seem so bad.

Being the Oldest

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We’ve all seen that classic chart. The diagram that points out your obvious qualities and traits based on where in the birth order you fell. For me, it always looks a little something like this:

Source: http://akajiaten.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html

..along with loud, controlling, eager to please. As the oldest, you’re forced to set an example, whether you like it or not. Your siblings look to you to be their first best friends, their first peer mentors.

As my younger brothers grow more into their own, I’m compelled to look into these type of theories and charts to see what they may be struggling with simply based on how they were born into our family. Today it hit me, while I was texting them asking if they wanted to go to the mall with me later. We joked around and texted back and forth poking fun at one another. It hit me just how much I loved my brothers and how much I love being the oldest for them. It’s never been easy having to figure out things on my own. Learning to drive first, moving out first, going to college first; it’s hard doing it by yourself. But I wouldn’t change it for a second if it meant that I wasn’t able to be a leader to my brothers.

They are so cool. And I mean it. They have their own personality quirks that I don’t always agree with, but I do feel like they look up to me. And I take that responsibility seriously.

The other day my brother asked me where was a good place to bring a girl for a date. What is this? A lifetime movie? Is this the Disney Channel? I had to pinch myself to make sure I was reading the words correctly. He was asking me for advice on a sensitive topic and it made me die with happiness.

Being the oldest is such a blessing to me. Being able to help shape them as young men is a big responsibility, but being given the chance to do so is such an amazing, wonderful part of my life.


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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.