#IslandVibes Part 1: All About Hilton Head Island | #storytime

This is the first post in a mini-series entitled #IslandVibes, which is about my adventures on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina (HHI).  (Click here to check out the second blog!)  In the summer of 2016, I packed up my car and moved down to HHI for a two months to intern with Marriott Vacations Worldwide. I honestly started writing this piece as one blog, but it was getting pretty long and I was still in the middle of talking about the island itself, not even the company or the internship, so I’ve decided to break it up a little more.  So without further ado, may I present All About HHI!

Beach. Food. Golf. Repeat.

I have a love-hate relationship with HHI.  First, I was able to walk to the beach from the complex I was living in, which was the most amazing feeling.  It was about a 10-minute walk through the complex building and down the private walkway to the beach.  Also, the island is beautiful and there are some great places to eat.  However, on the other hand, there isn’t much more to do other than go to the beach, eat and drink, and golf (which is not my shtick). After all, HHI is an actual island, so there is only so much you can fit on the approximately 12 by 5 mile space. On top of that, a majority of the island is consumed by plantations and timeshares since HHI is considered a “resort island.”  Because it is a “resort island,” everything is also decently expensive (of course this is all in comparison to where you traveled from).  So despite living by the beach in a tropical climate, you have to consider the time it take you to get on and off island if you need to go other places or have more things to do and retail options.

#IslandVibes Experience Photos

Traveling Around The Island

Another unique feature about the island is that is completely accessibly by bikes.  However, that does mean that all the street signage is lowered, which takes some adjusting to.  The island also looks very green and tropical, which is aesthetically pleasing, but not great for people that are directionally-challenged like me, or first-time visitors, which I was…  Sometimes it’s hard to navigate because the signage can be slightly hidden by the foliage. Speaking of getting around, there’s one main road that goes through the entire island with many, many traffic circles that are scattered across the island. So if you travel from a place where roundabouts are nonexistent, like me, be prepared to potentially get stuck in one and have to go around more than once to actually get off at the right place!

Turtle Talk

One of the lesser known facts about HHI is that it is a destination for loggerhead sea turtles.  Because of this, the island has a curfew of 10 PM along the coast from May to November, their nesting and hatching season. This is to ensure that the hatching sea turtles go toward the moonlight and the ocean and not toward lit houses and companies instead.  To read more about the turtles and this unique island rule, check out this article by the Town of Hilton Head, SC. I should also note that turtles aren’t the only wildlife you’ll encounter. While the island is populated by many different species, I specifically wanted to mentioned that seeing alligators is very common.  In fact, there was a small pond/lagoon on the complex property where I stayed, which was home to an alligator!  You had to walk past him to get to the beach! As long as you leave them alone and just stay aware of their presence, they won’t affect your time in HHI at all.

ExploreHiltonHead.com

Hilton Head Map by Explore Hilton Head

For more information on the island, I recommend checking out ExploreHiltonHead.com, which is where this great graphic of the island came from! Another fun fact about the island is that it is shaped like a shoe. Since the shape it pretty distinct, people commonly refer to their location in shoe-terms, ie: the heel, toe, or ankle.  For instance, I worked in Port Royal, in the heel.

The Gullah Culture

The Gullah culture is an integral and traditional part of Hilton Head Island as well as several other southern states. Gullah is a culture as well as a language that was brought to America by enslaved African Americans in xxx that highlights specific components of West African culture. Seen most prominently are their artistic expressions, such as basketry, quilting, and storytelling.  To read more about their traditions and culture, check out this section of HiltonHeadIsland.org.

The Ohio Strategy

The running joke is that HHI is essentially an extension of Ohio because there are SO MANY Ohioans that stay on the Island. I can truly vouch for that sentiment now because there were countless cars with Ohio license plates that were parked all over the island while I was there. Well, why is that you may ask? What I’ve heard and what I’ve learned from the internet is that HHI previously ran a targeted marketing campaign in the 1950s to engage people from Ohio, and surrounding areas, to travel to Hilton Head.  From Cleveland to HHI, it’s about a 12-hour drive straight down I-77, making it an extremely easy trip. So between geo-targeting and and specific demographic targeting based on the data of who was already visiting paired with the travel route, the Ohio Strategy essentially was the “perfect day trip” campaign since travelers could make it to the Island in one day.  So don’t be confused when you see a ton of Ohio State paraphernalia scattered around the Island. [Read more about the Ohio Strategy here!]

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to explaining Hilton head Island. Of course, I only spent a couple months on the Island so there are so many aspects I didn’t have time to experience. Let me know if you have any other great travel and tourism tips for HHI and whether or not you’ve ever been before!

All my best,

AlexandraMottershead.com

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All About Contemplation Cards

I actually have an abridged version of this post as a highlight on my Instagram page, but I wanted to talk about my contemplation cards deck and explain what they are, how I interpret their purpose, and how they can improve your life.  I post about these cards on my Instagram daily, so I wanted to take some time to explain them further and hopefully inspire others to think about their purpose.

(1) What are contemplation cards?

They are a deck of 60 cards that have single, though-provoking words on each card.  The creator of this particular deck states that these cards are a “tool for introspection and positive intention.”  I use these cards for reflection also.

Contemplation Cards FAQ - Card Deck

(2) How do these cards work and what do you do with them?

There is no right or wrong way to use these cards.  For me, I choose one card from the deck each day.  It’s as simple as that.  For others, they may choose a card for the week, for the month, for special occasions, and so on.

(3) What do you mean by affirmations, intention, and reflection?

We are surrounded by constant stimulation and are constantly on the move, so sometimes we need some help to focus our minds and reflect on our lives.  I use these cards to choose a word that I will then think about in reference to what has been going on in my life and what I want my life to include in the future.  For example, if I picked the word love, I could reflect on the opportunities within in this day that I got to spend with my family and friends and be grateful for the support they provide.  Another option is to set an intention or create an affirmation based on the word.

Let’s break down the difference between those two, since it is a hotly contest topic as to which is better, before I continue on with my example…

Affirmations are declarations that something is true.  These are written and stated in a positive and present tense.  Think “I am.”

Intentions are commitments to carrying out an action in the future.  These are written and stated in a future-thinking tense and are also positive in nature.  Think “I will.”

As I was saying, if I were to set an affirmation regarding the word love, I could say “I am loved.”  If I was creating an intention, I could say “I am striving to surround myself with love and to send love out into the world.”

These types of thoughts are extremely powerful and are helpful tools for getting your mind into a positive and grateful place.  It is easy to take for granted the little things in life and it is easy to get bogged down my negative people and energies, so it is important to have little daily reminders of all the good you are surrounded by.

(4) Where did you get your deck?  Who made it?

I bought my deck at one of my favorite stores in Philly: Open House!  Next time you’re in the city make sure to check them out.  (They’re right across from McGillin’s!)  You can also check out Chronicle Books, the creator, and buy the same deck online right here.

(5) What inspired you to buy them?

My first inspiration to buy cards likes these was Broadway actress Sierra Boggess.  She has an Angel Card deck, which is also a deck of words used for contemplation, that she chooses words from and posts on her website log and on her InstaStory/Feed.  If you’re interested, join her mailing list so you can get each month’s keyword that unlocks her “I Am Enough” section of her website where she writes about the Angel Card she pulled for that month.

My second inspiration to buy cards like these was my yoga studio, the Prancing Peacock!  There is a portion of the yoga class I take that is dedicated to meditation.  During that time, John, my usual instructor, will ask us to set an intention for our practice, or for our day.  Hearing about that in class made me think about setting intentions and thusly inspired me to buy my contemplation cards deck.

(6) How can these cards actually improve your life?

As I talked about in my answer to question #3, these cards can be used a tool to help you focus in on various, positive aspects of your life.  The deck contains words such as celebration, communication, creativity, renewal, detoxify, hope, acceptance, responsibility, and more!  An easy way to become a more introspective person is to take a few minutes out of each day to focus on a single word and how it relates to your life or how you want it to relate to your life in the future.  This is a very simple form of personal care, self-assessment, and positive thinking.  Everyone could use a little more of those things in their lives, so an easy way to start down that path is to pick one card a day and watch how your life changes one little step at a time!

Contemplation Cards FAQ - Instagram Stories

I hope this post has inspired you to buy your own deck, or at least start setting a little time aside each day to think more consciously about your life!  You can check out what my word of the day is in my InstaStories and by checkout out the hashtag #contemplationcards on Instagram as well!  Happy intention setting!

All my best,

AlexandraMottershead.com

 

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VBC Education Series: Diversity & Inclusion | #WILW

For those that haven’t checked out my first blog, Meet Alex!, yet, I am the Event Specialist for Visit Bucks County.  One of my major projects within this position is managing and organizing the Visit Bucks County Education Series that we launched this year for our tourism and hospitality partners.  With that said, I wanted to highlight a few items from our last program of this fiscal year held last Wednesday, June 6, 2018:

Diversity & Inclusion: Providing Service for Today’s Visitors

This program was generously hosted by Ron Davis (Director of Diversity & Community Outreach) and his team at Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA and the panel of expert speakers included Greg DeShields (Executive Director, PHLDiversity), Dr. Debra Blair (Associate Professor & Director Assessment, Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism & Hospitality Management), and Tami Sortman (Founder and Vice President, Philadelphia Gay Tourism Caucus).  So first, I would like to thank all of the above and everyone else that made this event possible.

D&I speakers 2018

Despite living in 2018, the term “diversity and inclusion” (D&I) is still a slightly dirty word.  At one point in time people didn’t want to talk about it because no one ever talked about those topics.  Now people don’t want to talk about it because there seems to be an air of desensitivty since so many people are throwing that term, and similar terms around, without understand the vast spectrum and the constant changes that are part of diversity and inclusion training.  Now, with that said, there are many focus areas within this realm, but this particular training focused on the business case of D&I, culture, and LGBTQIA+.

Instead of getting on my soap box and preaching at you on the topic, I wanted to give you some small, more digestible highlights from the program!

  1. When thinking about “diversity,” a great way to conceptualize the term, as mentioned by Greg DeShields, is to think of diversity as a grouping of varying perspectives brought together at one table.
  2. From a business perspective, it is insane that organizations are ignoring the buying power of various segments of diverse markets.  Provided by PHLDiveristy, the African American community has a buying power of $1.3 trillion, the Hispanic Latino community has a buying power of $1.5 trillion, and the Asian American community has a buying power of $1 trillion.
  3. Did you know that Asian Americans, on average, take 3.3 trips per year, in comparison to African Americas whose average is 1 and Hispanic Latinos whose average is 1.7.  Are they visiting your destination?
  4. The Center for Cultural Intelligence and Project Implicit by Harvard University are great resources to learn more about cultural intelligence and implicit and unconscious bias.
  5. What does LGBTQIA stand for? Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual.  A great resource to look at for the definitions of these words and more is provided by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.
  6. To put it simply, understanding gender pronouns is not cut and dry.  In fact, the English language has no gender neutral pronouns.  The easiest and best way to find out what pronouns someone prefers is to just ask.  People will be open to disusing how they want to be identified so don’t just assume.
  7. Diversity and inclusion efforts are not about quick fixes.  D&I is about long-term efforts and strategy, and a true commitment to increase the consumer/visitor/guest experience for all.  D&I is also about being proactive, not reactive.
  8. Two books that were suggested by the speakers are the “Cosmopolitan Canopy” by Elijah Andersen and “Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands” by Terri Morrison and Wayne A. Conaway.

There is so much that our speakers were unable to cover in this program and there is so much that they talked about during the program that I did not cover here, because D&I is so expansive, as I mentioned earlier.  I encourage everyone to check out a similar program by them to learn more about the people in their communities and in communities around the world.  You never know what incredible ideas can be brought to the table and created by- and and in-collaboration with people from all walks of life!

All my best and Happy Pride Month!

AlexandraMottershead.com

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Introducing: What I’ve Learned Wednesdays | #WILW

I’ve decided to started a new blog category that gets the designation of…

#WILW

“What I’ve Learned Wednesday”

Despite having already graduated, I am still dedicated to my own educational advancement; and this journey is something I’ve decided to share with all of you!  Thus, I’ve created this new series that will obviously come out from time to time on Wednesdays and will highlight facts that I’ve learned from courses, programs, and through my own research pursuits.

I’d love to hear what topics you’re learning about yourself and what topics you think I could look into to further my professional growth.  I’d love for these posts to become places where people can share information and find new passions to follow.

So stay tuned for my adventures to come!

All my best,

AlexandraMottershead.com

 

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My Path To Theatre & Choreography | #storytime

Once upon a time my parents decided to take me to a community theatre audition for Guys & Dolls, Jr. with Chalfont Youth Musical Players (through Philadelphia Parks and Recreation).  Now, my Meyers-Briggs type is ISTJ, so I am instinctively a more reserved person.  On top of that, in 2003, at the age of 9, I had no understanding of who I was and who I had the potential to become in the future, so everything was a bit gray and terrifying for shy, little Alex.  But somehow, to my parents disbelief, I mustered up the courage to stand on stage in front of people and audition for my first show with “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” by Elvis Presley.  (I am willing to bet that I am the only person to EVER sing that song for an audition at Chalfont!)  I don’t know if anyone actually heard a word I was singing or if they just kept on smiling and nodding their heads, but I made it through- until the director looked up at me and asked me if I knew who wrote the song I was singing.  I didn’t have a clue.  That was the cherry on top of that excruciatingly nerve-wracking experience.  Fast-forward through the casting process to the point that I received my first musical theatre part ever: a Hot Box Girl.

From 2003 to 2008, I continued to stay involved in musical theatre with Chalfont, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.  In 2008, I graduated from middle school, which meant that my role as Mrs. Bucket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the last I would have with that theatre group.  Then I started high school and was able to stay involved with Chalfont by assisting with set painting, but it wasn’t the same.

Then, in the Fall of 2009, everything changed. Chalfont’s director, Ed Flores, Jr. approached me about a new theatre mentorship program he wanted to try and offered me the position of Assistant Choreographer under Natalie (Monari) Graveley (check out her blog here!).  Now for some background, I was, and still to this day, not a trained dancer in any respect.  I have taken several recreational dance and master classes over the years, but never truly studied technique and form.  I can say that I do have rhythm when it comes to dance, however nothing formal to back it up.  With that said, Ed decided to take a chance on me and I cannot thank him enough for that opportunity and for showing me an entirely new realm of the theatre world.  It was in that moment that I was introduced to musical theatre choreography, which has grown to be one of my greatest artistic passions.  The chance I took advantage of as a high school sophomore has opened doors to some of my favorite experiences in my life thus far.

My Path To Theatre & Choreography - Photos

Since then- for nearly a decade- I have worked with several community theatre groups as a choreographer for auditions, showcases, and full-length productions including Center Stage Productions and Brick Door Productions in Philadelphia, PA.  I would personally like to thank Ed Flores, Jr. and all the other influential theatrical professionals I have worked with and for over the years.  Thank you for being part of my story and for helping me to create this narrative.

All my best,

AlexandraMottershead.com

Credits:

  • Header photo | Photo by Brooke Cannon
  • In-copy collage | Left photo by Tony Durso Photography (2015), middle and right photos by Lisa Mottershead

Meet Alex!

I guess introductions are in order: I’m Alex!

This post will be a mix of who I am in a personal and professional sense, because those two sides of my life and my personality are very much connected.  (However, this post will not cover the story of how I became involved with theatre.  If you’re interested in reading more about that, click here!)

I grew up in Bucks County, PA, just outside of Philadelphia, so I am on Team Wawa, I say “wooder” ice, and cheesesteaks and soft pretzels have always been go-to foods for me!  (Edit: I’m a vegetarian now so cheesesteaks probably shouldn’t be on that list anymore…)

I have two wonderful parents who somehow managed to raise me and my three other siblings without going completely insane, and I am very thankful to be surrounded and supported by all of them (and my extended family as well).  Bailey, the family dog, is boxer-hound mix and pretty much runs the house.  The day we adopted her she gave us each and actual HUG, with her paws around our necks, and we were sold right then and there.  I am also incredibly fortunate to have friends around the world who love me unconditionally and keep me grounded as well.  Lastly, to my professional network, thank you for your guidance and for providing me with keys to open doors to the adventures I’ve already gone and and those I have yet to start.  I would be remiss not to mention the foundational role all these people (and animals) have played in my life.  To all of you, I am eternally grateful and thankful.

The Blog: About Alex! - Family, Friends, Network

As I grew up, the Arts were a big part of my life.  We played art school around the living room table when I was young, I joined local community theatre groups and choreographed for others as I got older, I played mallets until I graduated high school, and have dabbled in writing, doodling, and various Pinteresting pursuits over the years.  I’ve learned a lot about who I am and have been fortunate enough to be able to extract and hone various transferable skills from these endeavors.

As for my education, I went to Temple University in Philadelphia, PA and received a Bachelor of Science in Tourism and Hospitality Management in May 2017 from the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM).  I graduated with honors, Magna Cum Laude; with a minor in General Business; as a member of the University Honors Program; and as an inducted member of the International Hospitality Management Society, Eta Sigma Delta. (P.S. I had the honor of being the keynote speaker for the 2018 induction ceremony!)  My next educational pursuit is the Event Leadership Institute’s online Technical Meeting & Event Production Certificate course so stayed tuned to hear how that works out!

The Blog: About Alex! - Graduation 2017

Through my education and my career thus far, I’ve had the opportunity to intern and work for a variety of companies on the East Coast.  As this blog progresses, I am hoping to pull out some stories from those experiences and share them with everyone.  But, the last piece of information I wanted to share in this first blog is the my professional brand statement.  Over the last several years, I have been editing and reworking this statement to highlight things that I want my career to reflect.  As of right now, I boiled it down to two beliefs and two promises:

I believe…

…in encouraging people to visualize success, work hard, and exceed their own expectations of themselves; to rise above the constraints they’ve created.

…that all industry experience is relevant experience, and that a diversified experience portfolio is the key to success and innovative thought.

I promise…

…to take the intangible ideas and concepts of others and transform them into experiences that exceed expectations and leave a lasting, positive, and memorable impact on others and the industry as a whole.

…to create spaces where acceptance is not a stranger, and creativity and artistry are free to grow and inspire.

Well, thanks for stopping by and following my adventures in hospitality, entertainment, and events!  I would love for this to be an interactive site, so please send me a message or leave a comment on what you think, stories of your adventures, and even something as simple as your favorite quote.  Let’s stay in touch!

All my best,

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Edited: 02-21-19