Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sorry Summer

In May I moved in with my love (and his roommate) downtown. My credit card was under control. We made a list of all the things we wanted to take advantage of in our fair city. Then I got fired. I went home to Indiana for a week. We did some things here and there. I cleaned a lot. I made the decision to go to cosmetology school. I started July 26th. One week in, I got a high fever that lasted for 12 days. Turns out I probably have mono. One more week of rest and I'll be tiredly making my way back to school. But having that one week of my own things outside the house, and then having it 'taken away' for another 3 weeks put me over the edge. 

After crying and yelling for the last 3 months about how life isn't fair and how I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me and how living with 2 dudes is less than stellar, he finally told me that he wouldn't complain with me. That I've complained about the same things all summer, but he wouldn't join me in my pity party. I didn't even realize I was throwing one.

I've apologized a lot this summer. All my frustrations have been taken out on the person who loves me no matter what, which is what happens when you live in close quarters. And after I yell and cry, I apologize for being a basket case. But it never occurred to me that my usually sunny disposition has had a dark cloud over it since the beginning of June. 

So how did I spend my summer, really? Did I have fun? Sure. But did I spend the majority of it feeling like a total loser who didn't deserve any fun? You bet. Did you know you can like where you live, and then after 3 months of being cooped up, absolutely hate it? I mean, what did our apartment ever do to me, except give me a roof over my head? I even sunk so low as to start blaming other people for my lack of having a life.

I'm a firm believer in being in charge of your own life - you can make the best of any situation. This summer, I didn't. I tried. I put on a smile. But underneath I just angrier and angrier. And then getting sick, to the point of not even being able to do anything, was the icing on the cake. 

Now that I realize how crabby I've been at home, I think it's time for an attitude adjustment. I think it's time to be ok with splurging on a yoga class or a facial, or new shoes. Not every week, but treating myself to things I enjoy is ok. I'm always encouraging others to treat themselves well and to take care of themselves. The bottom line is that I haven't taken care of me the way I need to be taken care of. How bad does that suck when you realize it's you, and not the world making you miserable? 

Unfortunately I wasted a summer being angry and sad (with a recurring dream about my old job, that couldn't have helped). But it's time to seek out the things I've wanted to take advantage of in this city that make me happy. No one else can do that for me. 

And I'm tired of apologizing. So perhaps instead of letting all my stress out on the person who truly makes me happy every day, maybe I'll take my stress out in a yoga class or jog session throughout the week. I know relationships have their ups and downs, and we'll have more. But I need to remember to take care of myself the way I love to take care of the other person. 

We're going to Boston this weekend to see my college friends get married. We're staying at a b&b near the Mayflower in Plymouth. We're looking forward to relaxing, the ocean, good food, and good friends. And lobster. :) 

Here's to end of summer smiles and less sorries.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Beginnings

After much deliberation, questioning, phone calls to friends and family, and countless soul-searching conversations, I'm getting my bag together for school tomorrow. 

My love of the fashion industry has seen a few different jobs and where they could potentially lead me. The clothing aspect is exciting, and the thing I find most-fascinating as I don't sew, but it just didn't do it for me. Anytime I've written or worked on the beauty-side, whether it was talking about the latest products, makeup/hair styles, or working in a salon, I couldn't get enough. For 10 years I've thought a cosmetology license would be fun to pursue: and pursue it I will! 

I start my Aveda training in Chicago tomorrow. I'm nervous. I'm excited. I'm praying I remember my checkbook to give them my first day's deposit. I'm antsy about what I'm going to wear. I had orientation earlier this month, but am looking forward to getting to know my classmates. Mostly, I'm excited to jump into something completely different and come out of it next year with brand new skills from a company that is near and dear to my heart. 

I couldn't have asked for more support as I start this new adventure. To go from corporate sales to doing hair is a huge change, and a scary one at that. But last month when I lost my job, I decided that was a sign to take the leap. Having looked into the Institute before losing my job, it sparked my interest, and I couldn't help but wonder if this was the right time for me.

Okay, Universe: I listened and I'm finally moving forward. Let's do it!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What Relaxation feels like...I think.

I'm helping my parents out this week while they are out of town on business/vacation. Normally when I'm at my parents house, I'm tensely waiting to go back home for whatever work is waiting for me. But this time, I think I'm doing what most would call "relaxing." Here's how I know: 

*I'm not annoyed whatsoever by the dog waking me up by 7:30am. When he wants to hang out in the yard for awhile, I'm happy to hang out with him. And any time he comes to me, I immediately tend to his needs. All of this sounds normal, but before now I was always in a hurry with him and always made him wait for me to finish whatever I was doing. 

*My girlfriends came over yesterday. We sat outside all afternoon with the dog. I had no concept of what time it was, and I was perfectly happy to just go with the flow. When we were hungry, we ate. I had crab legs for the first time (YUM). We went for a drink last night to one of my favorite college bars and were happy to call it a night by midnight. Again, I didn't even bother worrying what time it was, or what time the dog woke me up this morning.

*I'm taking care of things around my parents house that I typically would roll my eyes at or do only because they wanted me to. Perhaps it's because as an adult, you lose the 'tude with the parents. But I think it also has to do with the fact that I currently don't feel like people are asking the world of me during the week, so doing things around my parents house doesn't phase me. And it gives me breaks between readings and Gilmore Girls episodes. 

*I think I just now realized how much work my parents have done with their yard. By walking the yard with the dog, I see they've done a ton of landscaping, put in a beautiful patio, and have potted plants everywhere that make it feel like an outdoor sanctuary. Mind you, I've been to parents house in the last couple of months when all of this was completed. Obviously my brain was distracted. 

*Lastly, I don't feel bad taking my time to get things done. Cleaning, cooking, visiting, walking the dog, reading outside: no time constraints. I don't feel bad for not checking the time every so often because right now it doesn't matter. It's kind of like vacation, except for me I currently don't have a job to go back home to, which makes me relax for real. Honestly, I'm not so heartbroken about it. 

I was a little afraid that being alone for so many days with the dog would drive me a little crazy. Not that I don't check in with the BF each day, or text with people, but just the idea of being alone in my parents house with no cable was kind of nerve-wracking. Now that I'm here (and have activities planned each day anyway) I'm using my quiet time to listen to what I really want in my next venture. And I think getting away from my Now Home to my Then Home is a great way to check-in with myself and get away from the craziness of the city we live in. I never thought I'd appreciate the quietness, the woods, and the fresh air at Mom & Dad's the way I do right now. Funny how that works...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Leaps of Faith

We were watching an old episode of How I Met Your Mother. At the end, I turned to Mr. L and said, "I think this was really good that I watched this when I did." He just nodded, as he does when he's not really sure what I'm getting at, but wants to proceed with caution given my emotional roller coasters over the last couple of weeks.

This particular episode features the main character's friends telling him that even though he thinks he should be pursuing one career, maybe he's running into roadblocks for a reason. We're taught from a young age that walls are built to break through. What we're not taught is what to do when there's a wall and also a small window of opportunity open right next to it. Do we keep breaking through these walls and ignore the windows? If we're told we're good at something, or 'should' do something, we think that's our option. I have to become the best "insert occupation here" I can no matter what - even if everything and everyone is saying no. I know we all run into bumps in the road. But do we continue down the same path even when there are arrows pointing us in a different direction? A direction we hadn't considered before, maybe out of fear of the unknown? 

The moral of this story is that life isn't planned. As much as I like to plan ahead, there comes a point when you say 'fine. Life, you tell me where to go from here.' We shouldn't stop being proactive in our lives, but we should start listening to the world when it tries to help us along. Instead of fighting it, maybe we should just take the leap and look forward to a new adventure we didn't think we could pursue in the first place. 

Enjoy the clip - for some reason the writing at the end is backwards, but it doesn't take away from anything.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Blast from the Past

 I was poking through another blog I've contributed to in the past - some of you may remember "Just a little thing called life." Me and two of my best ladies started it one day with the idea that maybe we'd turn it into a book one day for other 20-somethings to learn from our thoughts/mistakes/successes/etc. Well, you'll see that the last post was January 2010 - one of us is blogging up a storm on her own, I've been taking my own path through life that left writing on the back-burner, and the other one had a baby last year. But sometimes it's nice to go back and see what your thoughts were years ago - which is how I stumbled upon this entry I posted right before I moved back to the Midwest almost 2 years ago. While some things in my life have changed, my overall thought process has not. And I think this is a great reminder for myself and others that happiness is the ultimate goal and we shouldn't be afraid of it. 

From July 13, 2009:

What happens when you realize you thought you had it figured out, but actually have no clue?

My goal after graduation was to work for a non-profit because you learn how to do everything. You have to work really hard to get results and typically others in the non-profit world also work really hard.

I've found all of these things to be true. But it's not enough. So, where do I go from here?

As 20-somethings, we are goal-oriented from the day we are born. All we are told is that we should finish school and work toward a great career that will provide security and insurance. Hopefully, you love what you do, but the biggest thing is to make sure you're taken care of. I have all these things, and my job is fine, but I'm getting to the point where my job is simply paying my bills. As a non-profit employee, I think it's important to want to give 110% every day to ensure the success of your programs. Not even a year in and I'm already tired of giving my 110%. To be honest, I care a little less every day about my job. I still work hard, but it's because I'm supposed to, not because I want to. Is this what I spent my whole life working toward?

And what happens now that I realize this? Do I just simply quit? Do I look for another job, even though I haven't even been there a year? Or, do I pursue what really makes me happy at the expense of losing some of my current security? Would that really be a bad thing?

My fellow 20-somethings, I hope we are all brave enough to take a chance on our lives and strive for happiness, even if it goes against the status quo.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Untying the Knots

Yesterday was my massage day. I haven't had a massage in years, but Mr. L treated me for my birthday and I couldn't think of a better time to use it.

My job was pretty stressful most of the time - always number-crunching, always finding new leads, always have to be on top of your game. I basically didn't sleep on Sunday nights in anticipation of the upcoming week (and probably dreading 7am meetings every Monday). So when the massage therapist asked if there was anything in particular I wanted her to work on, I told her that I was sure I was carrying a lot of stress in my back. And boy was I right.

Did you know that in between your shoulder blades you can acquire the biggest knots ever? I didn't. It was painful, but the kind of pain you have to get through to get some relief.

As I walked home, feeling noodle-like and completely relaxed, I couldn't help but think that the tension she worked out of my back has probably been building for months. I know I haven't been taking care of my body like I should, especially in the last 8-9 weeks. Mr. L and I were good about workouts after the first of the year, but once March hit, things shifted and I became more focused on my stressful job. That means no yoga, no jogging, basically nothing except the occasional walk in the last couple of months.

I'm not here to blame my job for my knotted back. But I think I've realized that if a job, relationship, commute, overall schedule is a constant stressful situation, is it really worth it? Obviously you have to make time for yourself, whether it's a quiet moment in the morning while you drink your coffee, or hitting the gym for a yoga class a few days a week. But when other factors in your life don't let up for months at a time and end up distracting you from taking care of yourself, sometimes those other factors have to change so you can lead the life you want. My newly-acquired time off is the reminder I needed to realize that I'm in charge of the amount of stress I have in my life. And taking time for myself isn't a crime - in fact, doing things I enjoy should be a daily requirement.

Monday, June 13, 2011

awake is the new sleep, so Wake Up.

I'm newly unemployed. 6 days in. 

I won't go into details here, mostly because it's not a great feeling to talk about and I don't like to air my dirty laundry on the internet (unless someone REALLY deserves it...well, no, I still wouldn't put it on the internet). 

I will tell you that I've been on a search for the next thing - whether it's a new job or education I've yet to determine. Now that I don't have a job tying up my days, when I'm not feeling sorry for myself (usually the morning, when everyone else is getting ready to serve a purpose for society that day) I'm allowing myself to take some time to figure out what's important to me. 

After college, we hear a lot about a "5 year plan". Some go as far to create a 10-year plan, but for most the 5-year looks a little something like: get job - maybe get married - stay with company to get promoted - buy house with new promotion money - have kids (if applicable). You get the picture. Everyone's is different, but very similar in the career department. 

So what happens when you bounce around careers and nothing happens? Maybe not nothing, but you feel like you're not making any headway? I'm 3 years in to my 5 year plan and I've yet to come close to any type of promotion, let alone save enough to get a house in the next couple of years. What happens when you realize that the path you've been on (or paths) has you led you to....nowhere?

I have some things in the works, but nothing definite. In fact, this is the first time since college I feel like I don't have a plan. And I'm relieved. Is it stressful being unemployed? The short answer is Yes. But here is my to-do list for the next couple of weeks: 
Get a massage. 
Get hair done. 
A couple of meetings for potential job leads. 
Write when I want. 
Indiana for a few days. 
Walk the city to learn the neighborhoods. 
And of course, apply for jobs. 

I have rent money in the bank for next month, and I'm working on some babysitting gigs to hold me over for a little while. But I think focusing on the things that make me happy is also important. Don't get me wrong, my confidence is at an all-time low any given day. The recovery process will take some time, but sometimes we just need to allow ourselves to dive in and rediscover who we really are. I'm seizing this wake-up call as the opportunity I needed to find me again. 

This post's title is a Ben Lee song called "Whatever it Is."

Sunday, April 24, 2011

One month.

My birthday is coming up in one month from today. As I turn 25, I can't help but recall that last year I made a goal to pay off my credit card debt and keep my shopping habits in check. Well I'm here to tell you that by May 24th, 2011, my credit card debt should be a thing of the past! 

After 12 long months, my credit card bill is finally under control. In one month, I will have the entire thing paid off. This is a big deal for me as I can't remember the last time I did not have a credit card payment. Once I started my new job, shopping became rare as I felt like I had less time and less interest in spending money on things I didn't necessarily need. I've made due with all the work clothes I have in my closet. The most I've purchased was a few basic 'going-out' pieces and a few work jackets from Nordstrom Rack - yep, I bargain-shopped, and lived to tell the tale. Best of all, my Nordstrom bill was $41, which will be paid in full when it comes. This may seem to be a small feat for some, but for this shopping snob, this was a huge step for me. I even turned down a $35 designer shirt because it cost more than everything else combined that I'd picked. I'll pat myself on the back for that one, thank you! 

One thing that made a huge impact for me was saving up for a move. I saved every penny I could over the last 6 weeks or so, and put my credit card on the back burner. I wanted to make sure I had enough money for a deposit and any other moving expenses, as well as any other expenses that might come up this summer. Last week I realized that my living expenses will not change much initially, so the money I'd saved wasn't necessary anymore. Had I not had my credit card to pay off, I would have just kept saving. Instead, I chose to take the huge chunk I'd saved and put it towards my credit card. This credit card payment was the biggest I've ever paid. The biggest lesson I learned over the last 6 weeks is that I am in control of my finances - if I want to save for something, I can do it. If I want to pay off my credit card, I can do it. And, I finally feel like I can start saving for big things (once the credit card is done). Paying off that huge chunk of my card was scary, don't get me wrong. But knowing that by June I can restart my nest egg made it worth it. Instead of feeling like it would take me all summer to pay off my credit card, I now look forward to paying for a vacation in August in cash AND having money set aside for whatever else might come along. That's a great feeling. 

I'm happy that I feel like my finances are stabilizing. I thought I'd be at a certain place in my life by the time I turned 25 (which I think I mentioned for my birthday last year). I'm happy to say that I think that place has been found. I feel in control of my finances, and therefore my life. What an awesome feeling. :)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

School's Out Never

Remember when every few months your whole life changed? Ok, maybe not your whole life, but your day-to-day schedule changed. Whether you were in elementary school or college, each quarter/semester brought the promise of exciting new experiences. There was a distinct beginning and end. And there was also summer vacation to look forward to. 

In May it will be 3 years since I graduated from Purdue. I still miss the semester changes every few months. Even though I went to school year-round almost every year I was there, you could still look forward to a nice break in between changing up your class schedule. You got new books, new syllabi, new teachers, and in some instances, a new chance to something even better than last semester. I remember my first semester of senior year being the busiest semester I ever had - and my class schedule was really light for my entire last year at Purdue. But I was in charge of recruiting participants for a fundraiser, writing for a brand new publication, helping do the PR for said publication, and working up to 20 hours a week. With school. All on top of having as much fun as possible with friends on weekends (let's be honest, we had plenty of fun during the week, too). 

My job is great. I love the company and the work that I do - for the most part. It's different every day and I wouldn't have it any other way. I can see myself working with this company and moving up into whatever department I choose. But as I told Mr. L the other day, I feel like I'm getting a 6-month itch. A restlessness that feels school-related in that nothing major has changed in my day-to-day life. It's become routine, and when you're in school, as soon as something becomes routine it changes again. I told him that it doesn't mean I want to leave my job, whereas in the past that's what I felt I needed to do. But I feel like I need to mix things up a bit. Is this why people take time off - to relive the anticipation of summer break? Of course, the difference is now we look forward to having an extra day on the weekends versus 3 months of laying by the pool every day. 

In January and February I volunteered with J.A. again, which was great. I was happy when it was over because things at work were getting more hectic. Now that I feel like I'm getting back in the swing of things, I feel like I need that extra distraction. Something to detach from work completely a few hours a week, and running outside can only do so much. When I worked at J.A., I wrote on the side. It was like homework, but not every week. And I loved it - I was able to pursue other interests outside of work and I was commited to it. Maybe because I feel like my life is consisting of work, exercise, and sleep during the week, I also feel like I need more than that. Don't get me wrong, I have fun on the weekends and enjoy all my time with Mr. L. I get together with friends when I want to and go shopping to unwind, but it's usually money I don't necessarily want to spend. I think I miss being culturally involved with the city I live in, and writing about local happenings helped me stay in tune in other places I've lived. 

I'll be moving downtown in May (yay!), which is something I've always wanted to do since I was a kid. I'm so thankful that I'm in a place in my life where I can achieve the things I've always wanted. Mr. L and I are looking forward to a fun-filled summer together, which will help me feel a part of the bigger picture on a regular basis. So maybe pursuing a freelance writing gig will keep my creative juices flowing, while also keeping me busy the way I want to be. If I could handle writing papers, studying, writing articles, working, fundraising, and a social life in college, there's no reason I can't handle it now. I guess the busier I am, the happier I am.