Never Miss a Beat!

Thanks for coming over here to this blog and checking out the happenings. However, said happenings are now going on over at Never Miss a Beat!

I was inspired by the changes I’m experiencing in life to change up my online domain as well. Never Miss a Beat was inspired by a) a Tweet I wrote in regards to staying on my toes in terms of learning (especially now that school is over) and b) remembering my parents (both who died of heart attacks) and the lessons they’ve taught me. Live passionately and do it right.

I have a lot of blogs on here that is near to me so I’ll probably link back to it here and there. But I’m not letting this domain go. Hopefully no other Samantha Nephew’s out there mind! 😉



Warning: I’m feeling mighty nostalgic and a little weepy and it might reflect in this post. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

Today is my dad’s 60th birthday.

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For a lot of people, it’s a milestone. For a lot of people, 60 is either welcomed with open arms or something to be feared.

For me? Knowing that my dad would be 60 today is so abstract and hard to fathom. He’s still 55 and some 10 weeks old to me. I knew he didn’t look so hot when he left the house that morning. But that was him, all 55 years of him.

Five years ago, we spent our last full birthday month with Dad. And it was the best one I could have asked for. I spent the whole summer working at Wilson Farms at the time. I had one expense, my phone bill, and saved a ton of money. I wanted to spend it the best way I knew how. Watching hockey with my Dad.

So I had my mother help me research flights, hotels, and the best tickets for sale to the Sabres vs. Blackhawks game in Chicago. And three days later, I got the tickets delivered to me. I made my mom drive me to get a little faux birthday cake (because I couldn’t wait for his birthday and we wound up gifting this a week and a half early) and we wrote “Surprise Birthday” on his cake. Naturally, he was confused when we got home and showed him.

And then I gave him an envelope and said I got him hockey tickets for his birthday. HE ALMOST PUT THEM ASIDE AND LEFT IT AT “Thanks.” I think he was a little startled when I said, “NO! You have to open them nooooww…”

I don’t think I ever seen him big-eyed and rereading something that wasn’t a bill.

And as it turned out, I put him in an awkward position at work, but he managed to get that weekend in January off for the game. And he saved money. Our first father/daughter hockey trip!

And it never happened.

The gifting part was all I got out of it.

And after my mom told me he was gone, the first real full sentence I could muster was “He was so excited for Chicago.”

Five years later, the thought of this still stings. Five years later, I’m reflecting on all of the things that I’ve managed to do since. Wondering if he’d be proud of what I’ve accomplished or worried about the things I do wrong. Would he have liked Mark? Would he be disappointed that I got married so young? What would his face look like right now if we talked about me getting my master’s degree, the thing he desperately wanted at the end?

Ha, how would he feel about the Sabres’ abysmal performance the last year or so?

When things get rough and I begin to feel overwhelmed, I try to remember that day. New Years Eve 2008. And 1/22/10 as well.

Because nothing compares to the overwhelming feeling I got those two days. Nothing.

Problems aren’t that bad. Solutions can be found.

I’ve been through worse. I survived.

Happy 60th birthday to the best father I could have ever asked for. I haven’t seen him in almost five years but I never would have been able to do these last five years without him. ❤

A Sunday Morning Musing: Almost a Master

Hey guys!

I’m super M.I.A and it’s all for good reason. I’m less than a month from defending my IMC campaign and shortly after that, becoming a master! I’m already shopping around for a custom degree frame and I’ve designated a spot for it at home… right next to my Dad’s bachelor’s degree.

I look forward to becoming a human being and joining the world in pursuing my interests and having time for hobbies. I’ll also get my flare back for writing and I plan to rebrand my entire digital self, including this blog. So wait for it… my blog look will change yet again! I’ve also been following an incredible blogger who I love and has given me so many ideas for daily writing… I. cannot. wait.

I also plan to put myself out there for some freelance work. So I’m here! Social media, content curation, public relations, and I’ve written for a myriad of industries. I’ve written about LEED technology, International Ice Hockey competitions, public relations, speeches, et cetera. I love writing. Can’t you tell?

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So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been gradschooling (new word), wondering what I look like made up, dreaming of a day off, and remembering that in a few short weeks, it’ll all have been worth it. And if I so choose, my academic life is done. But learning isn’t, don’t get it twisted. My bookshelves are bursting at the seams with books I’ve put on my “to-read” list. It’s hard to be sure what’s first but I did recently receive my copy of The New Jim Crow in the mail and I’ve been dying to get at it.

But first, budgeting and ROI.

There’s more I could write about. Like about how times are tough around here. I don’t know when in our relationship when our financial situation has been comfortable. But I’m glad I’ve married someone who is willing to work with me on fixing that and with little argument. I’ve been working with Mark to get him some photography gigs but we’re still having trouble getting him a job in education. Not even just schools but something that mirrors his experience at Buffalo Youth Media Institute over the summer.

Which by the way, his students wanted to take more documentary classes with him and the West Side Stories films by his students were considered some of the best in Squeaky Wheel history. I was thrilled to hear how much his students loved LEARNING from him. This man is an amazing teacher… but it’s hard to find people who see the value in an arts education.

But we’re real partners in this. We’re working together to figure things out. And it’s not like we haven’t seen hard times/been smacked by reality in the past. I love being married to him 🙂

And on our one month wedding anniversary, we met with the wonderful Rich and Alyssa of Nickel City Studios for some portraits. When we were planning that October 2014 wedding, we had already signed them up. When we decided that was nuts, they offered to refund us most of our deposit and just have a portrait session. They’re hands down my favorite Buffalo photographers and are all around great people. I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Here’s some of the shots 🙂






I doubt I’ll get to write again until after my defense is done. Hopefully I can greet you next as a master of Integrated Marketing Communication!

See you on the other side!

A New Shade of Miss America

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Last night, the Miss America Organization named Nina Davuluri Miss America 2014. She’s what you’d expect out of a Miss America, she’s fit, has that mega-watt smile, and is well-cultured and incredibly intelligent.

She’s also the daughter of an Indian immigrant.

And this incensed people that despite the fact that she is what one would expect out of a beauty queen… she was also of Indian descent (even though she’s a full-blown American).

I’m not really about beauty pageants, but this issue clearly caught my eye. The Miss America Organization caught some real backlash on Twitter after crowning Ms. Davuluri. People were outraged that a “Muslim terrorist” could win Miss America (what?!), some said “I swear I’m not racist, but this is America,” eluding that an Indian-American is not an American. Numerous people said that Theresa Vail (or Miss Kansas, and people’s choice winner) was what a real American looks like (blonde hair, fair skin).

As I said, I’m not really about pageantry, but I tip my hat to the Miss America Organization. Davuluri is not only a great candidate and now major role model for people who, ahem… look more like her, but she brought something new to the talent portion of the pageant. Her fusion Bollywood dance was definitely unlike anything I’ve ever seen on these kinds of stages. And I think that kind of diversity is something that should be featured in the national spotlight.

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It even made me think that “Hey, maybe someday there will be a Native American winner who can highlight some traditional dance someday?” The level of proud to see a Native woman smoke dance on that kind of stage would be through the roof. And there are definitely Native women who are beautiful enough to be on that kind of stage. If you don’t know who she is, go Google Ashley Callingbull. (Granted, Callingbull is Canadian, but still…)

My sincerest congratulations goes out to Nina. I commend the work she’ll be doing in the future as Miss America 2014. I just wish that I didn’t have to read about people who considered this as a sham…


Controversial or Offensive PR Stunts – Is it ever a good strategy?

Credit: Huffington Post

Credit: Huffington Post

A Texas sign company, hoping to get some extra attention for its business, has created a truck decal featuring a woman bound and tied. – Amanda Turkel, Huffington Post

This marketing stunt out of a Texas decal company made for some shock and awe, and some extra business. The owner of Hornet Signs, Brad Kobl, told local news stations “I was expecting the reactions that we got, nor was it really anything we certainly condone or anything else. But it was just something…we had to put out there to see who notices it.”

This particular PR stunt is a classic shock stunt. It’s made to gain attention no matter what. It sort of employs the idea of “It’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission.” A PR stunt like this takes me back to the question poised of me two posts ago, “Is all publicity good publicity?”

This takes me back to a sort of mentor of mine and former intern supervisor at Eric Mower and Associates, Steve Bell. He recently wrote on his blog about the psychology of attention, as it relates to publicity. Here’s a quote from that post:

So is any publicity good publicity?

Well, not quite. We’ve all heard that there is no such thing as bad press. But that’s not exactly right. My colleagues and I also looked at how New York Times book reviews affected book sales and found a more nuanced relationship.

Sure enough, positive reviews increased sales. But the effect of negative reviews was more complex. For well-known authors (e.g., Stephen King or John Grisham), negative reviews decreased sales, but for unknown authors, or people releasing their first book, negative reviews actually increased sales. By a whopping 45%.

Our research found that whether negative publicity (or word of mouth) helps or hurts sales is driven by the psychology of attention. Purchase depends not only on whether people like something, but also whether they are triggered to think about it. Consider the last time you picked a restaurant or chose a movie to watch on Saturday night. If something doesn’t come to mind, there’s no way you’re going to pick it.

So it makes sense from this that this decal companies sales would go up after this stunt.

And here is the question poised of me this week: Is there a time/situation when being controversial or even offensive to some is a good PR strategy in your mind? Explain your answer and give a specific example of an organization or brand to support your point.

I think it’s okay to be controversial (when done correctly), I don’t think it’s okay to be offensive. Sadly, I don’t think this is ever 100% feasible.

What do I mean?

Take Starbucks for example. The CEO of the company has done two things in recent memory that has actually made me okay with stepping foot in a Starbucks every now and then (I tend to support local establishments first). Obamacare is incredibly controversial at the moment. However, unlike most big corporations, Starbucks has said that they aren’t cutting jobs and they aren’t cutting hours to make up for the money they’ll put out for insurance. To a lot of people opposed to Obamacare, this seems like an obedience to the government that isn’t warranted.

The CEO of Starbucks was also very vocal about being in favor of legalizing gay marriage. This is controversial for obvious reasons, and to some could be considered incredibly offensive (depending on their stance – hence why you can’t always disassociate controversial and offensive).

Call me liberal (italicized for those who consider this a dirty word), if you will. But if that means I think everyone deserves health coverage, living wages, and the right to marry whomever they want… so be it. And it reflects in my ethical foresight in PR strategy.

Offensive publicity on the other hand has no right being part of a PR strategy. Shock tactics are most certainly looked at with disdain by this PR professional.

What do I define as offensive?

  • Aggressively or passive aggressively attacking an opposing or competing view.
  • Lessening or demeaning an opposing or competing view.

In other words, I think you should market your company as positive to your audience. Not by attacking or lessening those who don’t fit your audience’s script. For example, doesn’t offend me. They market their website and services according to those who would use it. Now if they went out of their way to call non-Christians “heathens” or what have you, then yes, they’ve crossed the line to offensive publicity.

In the case of the decal pictured above? It is highly offensive.

It is a depiction of an aggressive affront to a woman. Manhandling another human being is highly offensive.

The psychology of attention may be a thing but I consider myself a more creative PR professional and I would have crafted a more creative campaign to garner attention. The Texas decal company’s shock tactic was unethical and just plain lazy.

3,000 confirmed Indian residential school deaths

Thought provoking!

lara trace hentz

Residential School classColin Perkel, Canadian Press, Feb 2013

At least 3,000 children, including four under the age of 10 found huddled together in frozen embrace, are now known to have died during attendance at Canada’s Indian residential schools, according to new unpublished research. While deaths have long been documented as part of the disgraced residential school system, the findings are the result of the first systematic search of government, school and other records.
“These are actual confirmed numbers,” Alex Maass, research manager with the Missing Children Project, told The Canadian Press from Vancouver. “All of them have primary documentation that indicates that there’s been a death, when it occurred, what the circumstances were.”
The number could rise further as more documents — especially from government archives — come to light. The largest single killer, by far, was disease. For decades starting in about 1910, tuberculosis was a consistent killer — in…

View original post 583 more words

Mother’s Day – & I miss you, Mom.

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Here it is, yet another year where I watch all others celebrate their mothers on Mother’s Day.

I try to turn the situation into yet another find the silver lining situation or celebrate what you had situation, rather than to just look at what I don’t have.

And boy, the last two Mother’s Day without my mother still hasn’t prepared me to live through another one without shedding a tear.

But before I start to come off as a “woe is me” character, I wanted to reflect on something that I’ve mulled over a lot today.

Yes. I’ve lost my mother at a young age. Yes. I had to get through a lot of hard times before I was even 21, including the long-term effects my mother’s death had on my loved ones.

No. I am not unique in this. No. I am not alone.

This Mother’s Day is my soon-to-be Mother-in-Law’s first Mother’s Day without her mom in 50-something years. And where I’m sad that my time with my mom was cut short, only living through 19 Mother’s Days with her, I can’t imagine going through 58 Mother’s Days and then suddenly having to quit. Suddenly, that yearly routine is disrupted.

My heart aches for that and her situation. And it’s all a matter of looking at other people’s situations and seeing things from their perspective that keeps me from feeling too badly for myself. It could have always hurt more. It could have hurt the same, but differently.

My mother died when we were on great terms. I confided in her, trusted her, and respected her and her opinions. There are people who cannot say the same thing, whether their mom’s are dead or alive.

When my mom died, my elementary school named a scholarship after her. I was sent notes from so many not-for-profit organizations who commended her life and her efforts to make Buffalo a better place. My mom had a lot of aspirations despite her illness, despite the pain and the uncertainty it left her with. I had one hell of a role model. And I know that this isn’t the case for every one. I try to remember this and just be happy about what I had. And to continue having her in memory.

Whether you’ve had your mom for 10 years, 25 years, or 70 years, it’ll be hard when she’s gone, whether you had a great relationship or a bad relationship. But you should know you’re not alone. There are always lessons you can learn from your mom, whether it’s who you wish to become like, or who you don’t wish to become like.

I miss my mother, every single day. And as I get closer to graduation, wedding planning, and considering life-changing things like children, the grief intensifies beyond words.

But she was a good one. For all her faults, all her most special qualities, they all combined to make her the best mother I could have hoped for.

Because of her, I am a proud Native woman. I consider my propensity for wanting to help others part of what I learned from her. And I consider myself a very strong, independent person; a strength I credit to learning from her.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mother’s out there.

And a hug from me to you if you can’t actually say that to yours.

23-years young and feminist

Sometimes I feel like maybe I’m being too brash. Too forthcoming. Too bitchy in my words on social media, no matter how much I mean those very words.

Sometimes I think of my “brand image” an an employable 23-year old, as a woman, as an ambitious soon-to-be graduate student, and wonder if I’m ruining chances at greatness.

I’m 23-years old and my life, in some instances have been peaches and cream; in others, not so much. How could anyone learn from me?

Then I get those private messages. The messages I wouldn’t dare to make private. They are so special to me I couldn’t.

I remember being a young tot and one of my wishes in life was to be a source of inspiration. A source of making other people realize their potential. NO LIE. This was a young Sam’s wish. It has evolved from doing this as a novelist, to a marine biologist, to an actress, and now to a marketer; but the idea remains the same, I want to inspire people.

Just today I became ever so slightly unnerved by an “unfriend” on Facebook from someone I respect and it made me a little upset. Not even an “unsubscribe” but a straight up “unfriend.”

But then I get those messages online.

I’m not 100% sure I know what I’m doing that would cause someone else to take action, but I’m proud I’m doing it. And I’m not doing it for acknowledgement, I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do. There is a more equitable way to share this world and I want to aid in finding that equilibrium.

In my short life I’ve said that my one wish is to “inspire others.” I’ve done that a few times over and now I don’t want to stop. I want to continue to inspire women to succeed. The Western ideology of women and men is SO different to the indigenous understanding of women and men. Learning different ways that people live is crucial to a well-rounded life and I hope to keep making that understood.

I grew up in a household of feminists, even if I didn’t know they were feminists when they were on this planet with me.

I grew up in a household where my mother was the final word because that’s just how it worked. No judgements. Always an “Ask your father,” statement after I went to Mom. But it was known that Mother knows best and was treated as such. Because it’s true. Women are the real power holders and how it’s gotten to this point in mainstream American culture is beyond me.

Dare to be great.

Hold them, hold them dearly

“I can’t go a day without thinking about (insert persons name here). ”

This was something I think most people hear when they’re in high school. The naive girl/boy talking about the other naive girl/boy that they think is the “bag of potato chips” if you will… forgive my analogy – I’m quite tired.

But it’s true. Eventually in life, there are people you can’t go a single day without thinking of them.

I thought that was a facetious statement of the naive and vulnerable teenager who was recently broken up with. No – it’s a real thing. But it doesn’t necessarily have to a naive feeling.

Occasionally, I think of this statement and it hits me. I have not, for one single day in the last 3-4 years, gone a day without thinking of my parents. And for all intents and purposes, I mean people you don’t see everyday. Of course I think of Mark every day, I see him every day (almost – unless I’m traveling, but even then… facetime like a mother!). 

There are still knee-jerk reactions when things happen to me and my first reaction is to want to call/text my mother and father. Oooof – that hurts when you can’t. Let’s just say, I am looking forward to graduation day… but I am NOT looking forward to graduation day.

Hold on to your loved ones. Hold them dearly.

And in the interest in full disclosure… when I say I’d give anything to have my Mom and Dad back with me I’m not so secretly thinking this: you’d all be goners.

That’s supposed to be a funny-ha-ha. 😉

Ok, my brain is fried but it’s kind of still going from the caffeine. Time to find a way to rectify this before I burn out.

Good night – and I mean it, hold them dearly.


“Be still my heart… life goes on”

Be still my heart. This has been a whirlwind of a week, I’ll grant you that.

Nothing ever goes as planned and it’s a tenant of life that I should well equipped to deal with by now. But when things take a turn, and surprise, shock, sadness, and anger take hold… man, it can knock the wind out of you.

Mark’s grandmother, Ginny C., passed away this week at the ripe age of 92. Apparently, she would have been 93 this weekend.

This is an incredible feat by my own, and apparently some others, standards. My view is skewed considering the ages at which my parents died (55 & 45), so 92 seems quite literally like an entirely other lifetime. I imagine the things she’s been through. She’s been there right along with history. She was born before the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924. There was a point in her life when I wouldn’t have been considered an American citizen. Crazy.

And because of my experiences with death, I thought I would be able to deal with this one so much easier.

WRONG. In fact, my biggest take away from this last week is that I now realize just how different every situation is. I can never be ready for death, others or my own, because every one of them will be different. Different relationships, different meaning, different circumstances, and different times. Oh, the naivety. Is it weird that at 23, I can pinpoint my young, naive shortcomings?

This was the first death that’s close to me since my Mom. And what’s worse is that its had a heartbreaking effect on the one person who I see as my rock. He’s my emotional pillar of strength. I’ve never met someone who loved his grandparent as much as he does his parents. My heart was breaking for him as it was recalling not-so-distant memories. It crumbled more when I heard his mom talk about her final moments with her mom. In an instant, my throat closed, eyes swelled, and water works galore.

Oof, that is absolutely the worst pain in the world. The kind of pain that starts on the inside, and it has no way of healing except to let time run its course. Even then, it never truly heals.

Needless to say, this has been a rough week.

To you, if you’ve lost a loved one and know exactly what I mean. hugs.

To you, if you’ve never lost a loved one… you will. And you won’t be alone. You’re never alone on this one.

My parents left me with one of the most practical, necessary, and cherished pieces of wisdom that I could have asked for. It transcends all other lessons on the sheer fact that it is a truth that can’t be denied. It is a truth that we all will experience, it’s not limited to myself and whoever else my parents touched in their lives. 

“We won’t be here forever. We are going to die. But you have to remember one thing…

 Life goes on…”