Blog Archives

Indiana: A story of what could be?

The road to Indiana.

Howdy! I had every intention of posting yesterday, but life took over – okay, more like work took over, and I was up until the wee hours this morning finishing things, and packing for my trip to Indiana tomorrow.

I planned this trip months ago, so I could participate in my second “Take Steps for Crohn’s”, which I am still looking forward to, but the trip has also transformed into something else.

It may come as no surprise that I have some pretty strong feelings for a guy in Indiana. It’s not someone new, in fact, he’s been a part of my life for years – but we’ve really been on a roller coaster.

Without going too much into it, I will say that we’ve managed to be there for each other through some very tough times, especially as of late. I’ve had a tiny crush on him since I was 15, and have been fairly honest about my feelings over the years – him, too, even though he hasn’t always felt the same way.

Recently, he quietly admitted he had feelings, too – something I never, ever thought I’d hear him say. And that’s just it: it’s the first time I’ve liked someone so much, I’d accept it if he didn’t like me. I’d rather have his friendship than nothing, and I want him to be happy, even if it’s not with me.

Strong words, I know.

And that’s the other part of this entire thing: I’m in uncharted territory. I’ve never liked someone who was quite so nice to me; never been able to actually talk to someone on the phone (especially about nerdy stuff, like politics and food); never had any sort of relationship that didn’t involve around sex, talking about sex, or planning for sex. It’s refreshing.

But, it’s also scary AF. What exactly is going on here? I can’t answer that right now. And I don’t know if I’ll be able to answer it after this trip, either.

Because if you’ve been here before, you and I both know how this ends (read this, this, this, this, and this, and this, for examples). I’ve done this. Of course, this is someone different – biologically, and in many different ways. But it has ended poorly for me before. I’m bracing myself to get on that plane next week with a broken heart, and no need for a phone.

A long time ago, I concluded I like Indiana boys because they are familiar, and because, well, I live 19 hours away and don’t really have to subject myself to the intimacy that would happen in a real, face-to-face relationship.

But what if the distance was eliminated? I always say I have stayed in the South to benefit my career. I’ve banked on the story I’ve told myself that I will always be single. But what if I put something, or someone, else first this time? What would my life be like?

There is a huge part of me that already knows the answer. My life would probably be filled with a lot more love, and a little less stress. I might actually get the thing I’ve always wanted: love. A partner.

All of that just scares me. I don’t know if I’m ready, but on the other hand, how can I NOT be ready?

I don’t want to bank everything on this trip, but I am hoping it will show me a little taste of what my story could have been; what it could be, if I choose that path, instead of the one I’m on now.

We’ll see!

PS. The blog will be sparse next week as I’ll be vacationing and mind-questing 🙂 Promise I’ll be back.

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Life after vacation.

Le sigh.

Hey yo! I’m starting this week off with an apology – I know I only blogged twice last week, which was not planned. Vacation kicked my ass!

I got back to Austin Monday night around 9:30, and by the time I got home, showered, got myself ready for bed, and watched “Southern Charm”, it was after midnight. When I arrived at work on Tuesday, there was all sorts of unnecessary drama that I did not need.

By the time things were starting to feel back to usual around the office – I even got things organized there, and started catching up on all of my podcasts again – the power went out and completely jacked up our internet, leaving us to work from home for a day and a half. Ugh!

It took me much longer to get back to my “normal” life than I thought. And I wondered… is this vacation after 30? I’ve always heard people complain about jet lag and adjusting back to regular life after vacation, but never really experienced it. Whew, not until now!

But, I did take a few dance classes last week, and then used my weekend to help get myself back in order.

After all of the junk (but very delicious) food and drink I had on vacation, I was excited to clean out my fridge and hit the grocery with a list of fresh produce. I am happy to report that my fridge is now full of Naked Juices, fruit, raw veggies, boiled eggs, and soda water. I’ll be living off that until I feel skinny again.

I spent a majority of my Saturday volunteering for the Austin Film Festival – an event that’s become very special to me. There was an opportunity to earn some hours by passing out fliers for their kids’ Summer Camp… I ended up walking 12,000 steps going door-to-door, and even ran from a couple of roosters on my route! It did nothing for my vacation fatigue, but it was an interesting way to spend a Saturday.

I also finished reading a book – so look for that review right here, on Friday for Blanche’s Book Club.

I did a few chores around the house, and have, at the very least, prepped my laundry for a trip to the laundromat tomorrow. And finally, I got word that my Blog Class at UT was confirmed for this semester, and it starts on Wednesday night! I’m so excited to be back teaching, and am looking forward to meeting a new group of students. Teaching is such a thrill for me and I’m excited to share my love of blogging to a new set of students.

So, I’m hitting the ground running this week – I’m back at work, back to dancing, blogging, teaching, and eating healthy (I even made veggie “sushi”) for awhile – at least until my next vacation, which is planned for the end of June. Summer is here, y’all, and I love me some summer adventures!

Isn’t it true, that when you take a vacation, you just want to keep taking them? I feel like whenever I go on vacation, I try to think of ways I can adjust my current life so that I can take more vacations and/or travel to more places. Then I just simply WISH that my life was a vacation, but I suppose it wouldn’t be as special if that were the case… or would it? I’m willing to be the guinea pig.

And so, I’m back – and I’m finally feeling refreshed. I’ve got some fun stuff planned for the blog this week (“Southern Charm” recap, a John Mayer review, Blanche’s Book Club, etc.), so I hope you’ll stick around. It’s good to be BACK!

Attitude is everything.

One of my favorite quotes.

Very rarely in my life have I been praised for my attitude. Since I can remember, I was told I have an attitude problem. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about attitude, and how it affects the makings of my days.

When I got my first job post-college, I was one of the youngest people there, and I was coming in with fresh ideas and I was really excited to implement them. But, I was up against a really old and traditional way of doing things, and many of my coworkers weren’t interested in change. I pushed back as much as I could – I got side-eyes, and stern conversations, until I was eventually fired after seven years.

After that, I got a dose of reality, and worked like I’ve never worked before. Over the course of the past few years, I feel like I’ve tried to have a better attitude; a more positive outlook on things, because sometimes that’s all I have.

When I started my current job, I met someone – a coworker – with possibly the worst attitude I’ve ever seen. I mean she HATES everything, including but not limited to, In-N-Out, California, the Midwest, shepherd’s pie, Trump, everyone who voted for Trump, reality TV, Fox News, Megyn Kelly, protestors, anti-choicers, slow internet, border patrol, blue states, going to work, planning ahead, big trucks, flying, traveling, being tired, traffic, and the layout of Austin.

I’ve only been at this job for a few months, so I’m sure I’ll learn more about her least favorite things, but you see my point. Eventually, I understood that we weren’t going to have much in common, which is okay.

But what’s not okay is how she treats me. On several occasions, she’s ignored me when I’ve said hello or tried to speak to her. She’s slammed the door into my desk, tossed the company credit card at me, and said racist comments about white women in front of me.

So, I started trying to limit my interactions with her. I wasn’t sure how to maintain my professionalism while still talking to her. But even then, she went to our boss and told her I didn’t talk to her. My boss asked me what was going on between us, but before I could answer she said, “I know she’s really rude and racist toward white people.”

Uhhhh, ok? What more did I need to say? How is this okay?

About two weeks later, the problem hadn’t been addressed, and instead of directly addressing it, my boss simply told our entire team that whatever was happening needed to stop and we were not required to be friends at the office.

Uh, what?

Sure, I agree, we don’t have to be friends. But isn’t there a standard for the way we treat each other, as humans? I’ve never worked at a place where it’s totally acceptable to be blatantly rude to your coworkers.

My boss said if we have problems with each other, we need to address them directly. Ah, so there’s the catch: the ole it’s all on ME game.

Basically this takes the pressure off the leader, and puts the responsibility on the employee. If you have a problem, you figure out how to resolve it. If you don’t resolve it, then you must be okay with it.

So, what’s the best way to approach someone and say, hi, it hurts my feelings when you ignore me?

In all honesty, this entire ordeal has really made me look at myself and reevaluate. Am I someone who needs friends at work? No, but I do like to be friendly to those around me. Am I too scared to speak up when someone is disrespecting me? No, but I probably need to figure out a professional way to handle it.

No matter what, though, I’ve realized just how much it sucks to show up to work in a decent mood, only to discover that even just one employee has a bad attitude. It can bring down the entire team, for the whole day – and for what?

But I know it’s up to me to try and maintain a positive attitude. And just when I thought that wasn’t possible, I met up with one of my blogging students for a tutoring session. As we parted ways, he told me how much he appreciated my patience and my help with his blog.

He’s a retired professor, looking to write for leisure now that he has the time, and I was able to help, and without realizing it, I’d made a difference. At least I know things aren’t all bad.

And so today, Monday, I’m going to try to keep things positive. It may mean lots of coffee and podcasts in my ears, but I’ll be smiling.

Finding pride in the soles of shoes.

Nice collection, girl.

**The following is a piece of original writing I entered into an essay contest. It didn’t win, but I like it, and I thought you might, too. Happy Humpday, y’all!**

Each employee was to schedule a meeting with our new manager to discuss our job roles, challenges, and goals. My meeting was set for a Thursday afternoon, and I’d taken a few notes on my iPad before heading downstairs to her office.

But when I entered her mahogany kingdom, I was met with an employee from Human Resources. My new manager and I weren’t going to be discussing my job, but rather, the fact that my “services” were no longer needed.

For nearly seven years leading up to that day, I’d served as the Web Editor for a large, state university. I’d written stories for the website, reorganized departmental sites, led national advertising campaigns, and created social media strategies for the brand. I’d just received the largest raise in the office due to my hard work over the years.

That day, my previous work, all of my experience – it meant nothing.

“Any questions?” my boss asked.

There were papers to sign in front of me, and I was given strict instructions to pack up my office (do not touch your computer or any other university property, they said), and would be escorted out of the building and was never to return to campus.

“Yes,” I said, working to move my jaw. “Why is this happening?”

I was told that it was an “at-will” termination, which meant that according to state law, I could be terminated for any reason, at any time, without warning, and without being told of the reason.

So, I went to my office where there were empty boxes waiting to be filled. I was watched as I packed, and escorted to my car, walking past the offices of my former fellow employees.

I’d built my life around my job, which had become my career. I’d stayed in the city, 15 hours from where I grew up, for this job, and had little intent to leave. I lived in a coveted loft, a place I would soon come to resent given the high rent and my lack of funds.

The next day, I started applying for jobs. I applied for jobs like my life depended on it – because, in a way, it did. I applied all over the country, for all sorts of positions that sounded remotely interesting. When weeks passed without so much as a phone call, I started looking for short-term work as well.

The holidays were approaching, so I applied for retail positions that would at least get me out of the apartment and I could earn a paycheck.

Around Thanksgiving, I accepted a position as a part-time associate at a shore store near my apartment. My first shift was scheduled for five hours, but a few hours in, I was asked if I could stay until the store closed, making it a 14-hour shift. I said yes.

It was hard work; I was on my feet, and I only got a 30-minute break. The store was constantly busy, and I quickly learned shoe style numbers, sizing, and how to reasonably make a sale. The pay was only $8 an hour, so I’d packed a peanut butter sandwich in order to avoid the food court.

That night, I cried on my short drive home. I was fairly certain my feet had never hurt quite so bad, and I wondered how long this was going to be my life. My next shift at the store was scheduled to start in just eight hours.

I quickly missed the comfort of my desk, my office, and the luxury of simply knowing how to do my job. But I kept on, working as many shifts as I was allowed and picking up extras for fellow employees when they needed time off. I wasn’t going home for the holidays that year, so I could just keep working.

As the days passed, I sometimes saw friends or old coworkers in the store. It was awkward having to explain my situation. Even a few family members turned on me, making condescending comments about how I was “just a shoe salesman at the mall” now.

For a moment, I hung my head in shame. But, my friend who worked in Human Resources for an ad agency and often served as my workout partner, offered some wisdom.

“Head up,” he said. “Everyone has a job to do.”

He was right. There are all sorts of jobs that are less-then-glamorous, and they are held by employees doing what they need to do to get by in this life. It doesn’t really matter if it’s part of their passion or their intended journey, it was a job that needed to be filled in order for the ways of the world to keep going.

No, I didn’t go to college to work at a shoe store, but I was making an honest living, and I was applying for other jobs during my time off. I also accepted two additional retail jobs, and got a promotion at the shoe store, making my work week at least 60-hours.

I learned how to operate three different cash register systems, memorized the opening and closing procedures for each job, and started to find joy in the little things – greeting and helping customers, getting to know my coworkers (despite our 10-year age difference), and going to bed each night knowing I’d done everything I could that day.

That year, I spent Christmas alone. In fact, Christmas Day was my only day off in weeks, since it was the only day all of the stores were closed. I found comfort on my couch, with my heating pad, and my decorated tree that I’d reluctantly pulled from my closet in November.

It took me eight months to find a job that fit my career path and offered a salary with benefits. The job was in another state, and I worked my retail jobs until the day I moved.

There’s no doubt that it was the most difficult eight months of my life – there were very few days off, no health insurance, and a very tight budget I had to follow. But, I’d somehow made it work. I kept my loft until moving day, never missed a bill, and I learned how to juggle the schedules of three jobs.

I also learned a lot about pride and hard work. At most job interviews, they ask how you’d describe yourself. I’d said I was a hard worker before, but now I’ve truly lived it. I’ve worked when I thought I couldn’t even stand, I’ve done jobs that some people wouldn’t even consider, and I’ve smiled when people from my career-life would whisper, “What are you doing here?

There are days when even my current salaried gig isn’t all I dreamt of during my long shifts in the retail stores. But no matter what job I have, at any point in my life, I know I’m going to do it with my head held high.

Take pride in the ability to get up each day, and do whatever it is you have to do to keep going. Find joy in the walk to the office, the people you see each shift, or the discovery of all the new things you’ve learned.

Almost two years after unexpectedly losing my job, I still carry fears that it will happen again, but then I remember that I made it work. Sure, it wasn’t easy, but I did it, and I found some good in that chapter of my journey.

Looking back, my job at the university had its perks, and it looked really good on my resume. But it wasn’t challenging, and there was no room for growth, meaning I would have had to leave eventually. How it happened wasn’t any sort of dream scenario, but it forced me out of my comfort zone, and into the reality of another person’s shoes.

‘The Search for Everything’.

Okay, John Mayer fans! Tomorrow is the day we get to hear some new stuff, finally! While I don’t really have the inside scoop (as much as I wish I did), we can discuss what we know so far.

1. The title of the album is called “The Search for Everything”, which John said in a Facebook Live feed that the title basically explains his life.

2. The album will obviously feature the single we’ve heard, “Love on the Weekend”, which I love – but John said, also on Facebook Live, that the song does not represent the entire album. Guess we’ll see.

3. The album was among some greats on The Rolling Stone’s list of the 63 most-anticipated albums of 2017. However, the release date isn’t mentioned there, because…

4. John Mayer is releasing his album in 4-song increments, monthly. WHICH IS THE WORST IDEA EVER.

Let’s just discuss this a little more.

Now, I know artists have released their music in increments before. Kanye West did it with his G.O.O.D. Fridays, where fans were rewarded with a free download as long as they kept visiting his new website, and Justin Bieber did it with his “Journals” album, releasing one song each Monday in a “Music Monday” campaign.

When Kanye did it, it was genius because no one had ever done it before; when Justin did it, it was pretty fun.

But, seriously John Mayer? The first reason this sucks is because the initial 4-song drop we get includes the single we’ve already purchased, “Love on the Weekend“, so we’re actually only getting three new songs this month. Here are the tracks we’ll see tomorrow:

  1. Moving On And Getting Over
  2. Changing
  3. Love On The Weekend
  4. You’re Gonna Live Forever In Me

The second reason this sucks is because am I honestly supposed to listen to a 4-song loop for a month and then download another 4 songs? Let me make this clear: I love me some John Mayer, but I’m not going to be putting it in my calendar every month to “Download the next 4 John Mayer songs!!”

Here’s my other question: how many songs are there in total? According to Mayer’s Instagram account, “The album will be released four songs at a time. Every month. There were too many songs to ever get out the door at once.”

There’s several issues with this statement. I hate to be that person, but it’s the digital age, right? So what does it even mean that there’s “too many songs”? Like is it 25? 40? Because anything 20 and under is a pretty standard album length.

This just makes me wonder, what’s the real story? Like are the songs not done? Because if they’re not, don’t tell us there’s an album coming. If they ARE done, well hand ’em over, ’cause frankly, John Mayer, you’ve put the fans through too much! Just hand us the SONGS!

Am I the only person pissed about this? Le sign… I know there are bigger problems. I’m just greedy and want all the songs – besides, I’ll be in the car road-tripping for a minimum of 10 hours this weekend and I could really use some new tunes (more than four, BTW).

At the very least, I have a feeling these are going to be some GOOD songs… I mean, what we’ve heard so far is fantastic. Here’s to “The Search for Everything”!

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Yeah, Nike has it right.

New motto.

New motto.

Good morning! You’ve heard me talk about a big change that’s happening in my life these days – I’m starting a new job. And guess what? Today is my first day!

As with any change in my life, of course I’ve been thinking about the past. Many of you were reading when I announced my first day of my last job – the one I left on Friday.

When I got that job, I’d been freelancing and working retail for about nine months, and had applied to easily 200 jobs. I had so many interviews at different places, and when I finally got the job offer, it was as if the stars were aligned.

I’d nailed a job in a pretty cool city, it offered enough pay to cover my bills and there was paid time off and benefits. It was also a bit of shift in my career – I was going from content development and social media strategy to strictly search engine optimization. And it was an agency. All things would be new to me, not to mention a new city, new apartment, the works.

When I started the job, I was living out of an extended stay hotel for two weeks because my apartment wasn’t ready. I had no money, lived off frozen meals, and would you believe the shower didn’t even have a curtain? I was roughing it a little, but I wanted to kick ass at this job. I didn’t want them to regret taking a chance on me.

In order to learn SEO properly, I went through a 90-day bootcamp at the agency, which was polished off by me giving a presentation to the CEO that basically decided if I could stay or go.

I got to stay, and was actually told I would go far – I’d worked my ass off. And in all honesty, things were looking great. My coworkers were so cool! We worked near downtown! Our agency valued learning! There was free beer in the fridge!

But as the months rolled by, things became a little clearer. This #AgencyLife that colleagues had warned me about for years was coming true – it was a culture of late nights, early mornings, and lots of spreadsheets.

And the benefits? Well they’re not really beneficial if you don’t use them. It’s like a car salesman selling you on the optional third seat when you have no kids. Turns out, I don’t give two shits about free beer if the free beer means you have to skip happy hour and work late to drink it.

I came to see that many tech startups have these same perks – offering free food and drinks instead of a bigger paycheck; housing pool tables and bean bags so you’ll stay later. It’s appealing if you’re interested in working in a frat house long after it’s socially acceptable.

It wasn’t long before people started quitting; one-by-one. When coworkers left, the clients stayed – meaning more work spread between less employees. With every employee that left, agency management was 100% sure it was not any fault of the company’s. Put that in your spreadsheet.

Over these months, I grew tired and stressed. I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. There were many conversations between me and management – they wanted to know if I was job hunting.

The truth is, I wasn’t. I didn’t know what I wanted and I didn’t want to quit. I am a fixer and I wanted it to work. I’d done too damn much to just leave.

But one Thursday night in early December, I made the decision to skip the company Christmas party. I’d worked until 1am nearly every night that week and was dead tired. I wanted to work a few hours and then crash.

Choose your destiny!

Choose your destiny!

Giant mistake. The next morning, my boss and the CEO laid it out for me, that since I didn’t attend the party, it must mean I didn’t like my coworkers, and if I wanted to leave, that was okay.

“Everything that happens to you here is because you let it,” they said. “You choose your destiny.”

To them, I’d chosen to work and sleep over going to the party, and apparently, that was a giant mistake.

But they were right – I do choose my destiny. And I knew my destiny was going to have to change.

Just a few days later, I saw a job posting for a digital marketing position with a woman’s healthcare provider that specialized in abortion aftercare, and also served as an advocate for woman’s reproductive rights.

I applied, and had two interviews. The conversations I got to have with the employees were eye-opening. These were women helping others who needed it, while fighting for the healthcare rights of all of us.

As some of you may know, I had an abortion when I was 23. It was not a pleasant experience, and I spent years being ashamed of the choice I made. I am still working through some of these issues, but to be able to share my story in an interview and be able to think that I can help women that may find themselves in a situation similar to what I was in, was refreshing.

I was offered the job about two weeks from when I applied for it. Honestly, I only had the two quick interviews, didn’t really do much research on it, but I took a night to think it over, and took it.

It was the perfect storm. All of these bad things kept happening at work, and nothing was being done to fix them. I probably wasn’t as passionate about the work itself as the agency needed me to be – and that’s something I can’t change. And to top it off, some of upper management had accused me of lying over a task I’d been stressed about.

You can call me lazy, weak, and disconnected, but one thing I am not, is a liar. And just an FYI, I graduated from high school almost 15 years ago. I’m so done with the Mean Girls’ schtick.

In 2017, I vowed to just “go for it”, and that’s what I’m doing today. It’s a job that utilizes my writing and digital strategy skills to help women across the country. It’s also a small way I can make a stand in my political views, and try to help make a change in the world around us.

In all honesty, I thought I was going to stay at my old job forever. I don’t want to be a job-hopper; I want to stay and grow with a company and climb the ladder appropriately.

But I also don’t want to be the person that hits snooze a million times because I dread the day ahead; I don’t want to just wish for Friday on a Monday. After the 15 months I’ve had, I know that I can get through just about anything. And at the end of the day, no matter what happens, I’m working for a cause that is very personal to me.

About two days after I’d put in my two weeks’ notice, I was listening to “SandyLand” with host Sandra Bernhart and she was talking to her guest (of course I don’t remember who), but she said something along the lines of, “No paycheck is worth having to stifle who you are.”

PREACH! I feel like that’s all I’ve done for the last nine years, and finally, just finally, I may have found a job that is willing to utilize my snap-back wit, my passion for equal rights, and my brain full of digital goodies.

And yes, I was very sad to leave my coworkers – some of them were so sweet in their goodbyes it nearly brought me to tears. But good people want the best for other good people, and I appreciate their support. I wish the best for any of them, and I hope they stay in touch.

I’m not going to be that person to sit here, and tell you to run out and quit your job. I know it’s not an easy task. Hell, I was so nervous to turn in my two weeks, and almost thought about not doing it just so I wouldn’t shake the waters.

But I am going to say that my old job had something right: you choose your destiny. You’re going to hear this a lot from me this year (my friends and family are probably already sick of hearing it), but it stops you from playing the victim in any situation.

Hate your drive to work? Find an alternative route, clean out your car, invest in Sirius radio or find some great podcasts to listen to. Change what you can.

Sick of always cleaning your house? Get rid of unnecessary things. Find a spot for all the good stuff. Implement daily habits that will make weekend cleaning easier.

I’m saying all of this to say one thing: take control of your life. Decide what’s important and make it happen. It’s like President Obama said in his farewell address, “If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing.  If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  Show up.  Dive in.  Persevere.  Sometimes you’ll win.  Sometimes you’ll lose.  Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you.  But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire.”

So, here’s to just going for it!

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What did you do for fun… in 5th grade?

What can we learn from our 10-year-old selves?

What can we learn from our 10-year-old selves?

I was listening to an episode of “Happier” with Gretchen Rubin a few weeks ago, and she was talking about an interesting study. The study said that whatever you/we were doing for fun at 10 years old, is what you should be doing for your entire life.

Hmm!

Naturally, I got to thinking about what exactly I was doing when I was 10. It was 1995, and it was the summer between 5th and 6th grade.

During those times, I wore a lot of funky clothes, and I painted my nails all sorts of different colors at least once a week. I loved Gwen Stefani, reading, drawing, a making magazines using printing paper, crayons, and a stapler.

So, perhaps my dream of working at a magazine wasn’t so far fetched after all.

I did a little digging to see what else I could find about this theory. I stumbled across an article from Mark Manson, “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose“. Question no. 2 in the article is “What is true about you today that would make your 8-year-old self cry?”

Here is Mark’s answer:

When I was a child, I used to write stories. I used to sit in my room for hours by myself, writing away, about aliens, about superheroes, about great warriors, about my friends and family. Not because I wanted anyone to read it. Not because I wanted to impress my parents or teachers. But for the sheer joy of it.

And then, for some reason, I stopped. And I don’t remember why.

We all have a tendency to lose touch with what we loved as a child. Something about the social pressures of adolescence and professional pressures of young adulthood squeezes the passion out of us. We’re taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s that I rediscovered how much I loved writing. And it wasn’t until I started my business that I remembered how much I enjoyed building websites — something I did in my early teens, just for fun.

The funny thing though, is that if my 8-year-old self had asked my 20-year-old self, “Why don’t you write anymore?” and I replied, “Because I’m not good at it,” or “Because nobody would read what I write,” or “Because you can’t make money doing that,” not only would I have been completely wrong, but that 8-year-old boy version of myself would have probably started crying.

Even though he’s talking about his 8-year-old-self instead of his 10-year-old self… I’m totally buying into this concept. It makes total sense!

Of course, sure, we all have to accept the fact that perhaps our dreams aren’t going to be the things that pay the bills or make things happen the way we really hoped. But if what we did at 10 truly defines what we should do for the rest of our lives, then at least we’ve already discovered our life’s purpose, and can now work to fulfill it in some way.

So, what were you doing when you were 10? It might be worth exploring a little more if you’re not already.

Living your dreams… with a day job?

Truth bomb!

Truth bomb!

At the beginning of the month, I got an email with the subject line that read: Does a day job mean giving up on my dreams?

It was an email newsletter from Marie Forleo, an entrepreneur and motivational speaker (named as the thought leader of our generation by Oprah) whom I’ve been following for the last two years.

The body of the email talked about the problem of a specific person, who had been trying to make a business work, but wasn’t quite making enough money to pay the bills. But if she took a regular job, would that mean tossing out her dreams?

There was a video attached, because if you follow Marie, you know she truly excels in front of the camera. What followed was an hour-long (free) training called “How to Get Anything You Want”.

I listened immediately.

Before I go any further, I’ll explain that I’ve toyed with this idea of “Dream vs. Career” for pretty much the last 10 years of my life. I have always either worked two jobs, or had a job and freelance on the side, or had a job and wrote this blog on the side… all because there was something my day job wasn’t fulfilling in me, whether it was enough money or the social environment or creative freedom, something was missing.

And things are finally getting to the point where I’m not sure how much longer I can go just imagining my dreams. It’s time I got off my ass and actually made them a reality.

So, Marie’s training came to me at a great time. She started off by talking about how everyone has dreams, but not many people actually attempt to go after them because they’re so afraid of failure (totally me).

Realizing your dreams; even just writing them down on a piece of paper in a hidden drawer, makes them real, and puts yourself out there. So, the first step is gathering that courage to define your dreams.

As silly as it sounds, this may be the most difficult part for me. Why? Because I have SO many dreams. I don’t want to let any of them go, even though I know I can’t live them all. I want to live in Los Angeles AND New York and not at the same time; I want to go to London; I want to take an Alaskan cruise; I want to write for Vulture or The Cut; I want to write a made-for-TV screenplay; sometimes, I just want to choreograph dances for the local high school pom squad and other days I want to have a guest spot with the Laker Girls. I kind of want to go to culinary school, or maybe just write a TV series, all until John Mayer finally swoops me up and I can just live Montana cabin life and write his blog for him.

I know, I sound like a crazy person. So, I’m still working through step one (I’m using my holiday weekend to get some of my thoughts organized). Overall, though, I know I want to empower and motivate others, and I know I want to do that through my writing and through teaching others how to write and publish their own blogs, to get the fulfillment that I have gotten.

Marie talked next about a woman who really wanted to write a book and have it be published. But as soon as she wrote this goal down and committed her life to making it happen, life got in the way BIG TIME for her. She had family problems, and major financial problems… basically all signs pointing to “no!” But, she kept on and wrote her book. And once it was finished, she sent it to publishers. And they, too, told her NO. Even the publisher that eventually told her yes, told her to keep her day job because she wouldn’t see enough money from the book.

That woman, of course, was J.K. Rowling, and the book was the first installment of Harry Potter. And look how that turned out!

Now I know, we can’t all turn out like Ms. Rowling, but I have always loved that story. Anyone can make their dreams come true, and Marie was using that story to say that once you absolutely commit to something, it can happen.

That’s why you have to make your goal as specific and concrete as possible (again, not easy). Because once you fully commit to this goal, other goals have to take a backseat (heart = broken).

So, if you’re feeling me and doing this exercise, you get a clean piece of paper and write down your dream. “What I really want is…”

And it doesn’t have to be something career-related. It could be a project at home; losing weight; running a marathon; learning a skill; traveling to an exotic place; saving money, etc. Whatever you truly want!

Once you define what you want, write the WHY. And while I know I’m still defining my wants, I know the why. I need creative freedom and fulfillment, and I don’t want to necessary be strapped by the daily office grind.

Next, make a list of all the excuses you’re going to tell yourself as to why you can’t achieve your goal – such as, “I can’t afford it”, “There’s not enough time”, or “I live in the wrong city”.

Next, debunk all of those excuses with a solution. According to Marie, time and money are the top two excuses we use on ourselves, and they can be solved if we just try. The time one is definitely one I’ve heard a lot from other people over the years – when I had a second job or wrote books or maintained this blog, my coworkers would say they didn’t understand how I had the time.

But time is the great equalizer; we all have 24 hours in a day. And yes, I know Beyonce and Oprah have full staffs to keep their empires going, but you control how you spend YOUR 24 hours. Do you spend it researching, reading, at the gym, etc. doing what you have to do to reach your goals, or do you spend it sleeping?

If you can’t find ways to solve your potential excuses, there’s a chance you just don’t want it bad enough. And that’s okay, time to seek the next dream! Because if you want it, you will make the time. Use this as a way to become more self-aware; see how many times you tell yourself you can’t, and then look at your list of solutions to keep things moving.

And finally, you’ve got to keep the faith. Be your biggest cheerleader, and be ready to pick yourself up when the course changes, because it will.

So, all of that to say, that this has what’s been on my mind for the last few weeks. I’m 100% certain you’ll be hearing more about it, because I’ve got to put my dreams into the universe if I think they’re ever going to become real.

I’d love to know about your dreams. Maybe you’re living them already, and how did you get there? How do you keep yourself going? I’m ready to jump into a supportive community right away!

But first, turkey (amirite?).

What does it mean to be a professional?

Professional writer... from bed.

Professional writer… from bed.

I mentioned last week that I was a wee bit obsessed with the podcast “Millennial”, hosted by Megan Tan. “Millennial” is a podcast that discusses what most people don’t – how to maneuver your twenties.

Listeners follow Tan as she graduates from college, searches for jobs, waits tables in the meantime, buys a car, moves in with her boyfriend, all the while recording the podcast. During her first year at her day job, she discovers just how much she loves creating the podcast, putting her in a situation I know all too well: the double hustle.

She’s putting in a lot during the 9-5 job, but also putting a lot into her podcast after work. But if you had the ability to choose? Which one would you pick?

In episode #16 (during season two), “Double Life”, Tan explores the structures we often follow within society. We follow the traditional flow, go to school, go to college, graduate, and then we get jobs, day jobs that have regular deadlines and paychecks and all the feels of community.

But the side project just gives us that feeling (inside my bones, it goes electric-wavy when I turn it on…) that is sometimes not part of a 9-5 gig. Is it the typical “millennial” thing to do to consider quitting your safe, salaried job to jump into something just because you’re passionate about it?

The entire episode is dedicated to Tan weighing the pros and cons of quitting her job to pursue the podcast full-time. I won’t spoil it for you, because if you’re anything like me, this battle hit true to home.

And really, what does it mean to be a professional?

The ‘ole dictionary says a true professional is someone qualified in a professional, or someone engaged in a profession for which they are paid, and not a pastime.

Some say a you become a professional when you start getting paid for whatever it is you do. Or maybe it’s measured by hours: whatever you spend most of your time doing, that’s what your profession is. Hmph.

I know it took me a long time to start calling myself a writer. It was well after I’d been paid for doing it. I think, for me, it was more about what I had pictured in my head as a professional writer. I pictured tall buildings, lipstick, and communal coffee pots.

But today’s professional writer looks many different ways. Sure, there are scenes like the one I’ve invisioned. But many writers do so from their beds, sans makeup. There are writers who work in cubicles, from planes and trains, and those who probably spend a majority of their time waiting tables or tending bar, but hunched over in a coffee shop corner between shifts, typing.

I’ve written for money, for free, for fun stories and not-so-fun ones, and I’ve written from my bed, from planes, trains, coffee shops, offices, my car, poolside – oh the places you’ll go!

I’m not sure what clicked; what made me start calling myself a writer – perhaps the sheer fact that I’ve had nearly 1,000 stories printed with my byline; written nearly 1,500 blog entries, published four books, and simply remain curious about the craft of writing.

Truthfully, when I think of “professional” or “professionalism”, it comes across to me as an attitude; a way of being. You can do whatever you want as your career, your day job, your passion project, but it’s how you carry yourself through all of it that makes you a professional.

Thoughts?

‘Divorce’ & ‘Insecure’ – Episodes 3.

'Divorce', episode 3.

‘Divorce’, episode 3.

Fact: the weekend went by way too fast. I looked around for cars, fell in love with one, but am still tying up a few loose ends on it. Making adult decisions is really exhausting. I also finished reading a book, started another one, did my laundry, hit up a sale at Ulta, and got groceries – I’m making a few delicious meals this week.

But it’s Monday, and that means I spent most of yesterday plopped in front of my TV while eating brisket pho takeout. Whoops!

Last night was episode three of “Divorce” on HBO. The episode opens with Francis interviewing someone for work – he’s older and says he’s switching career paths just to “see what’s out there”. Francis obviously takes this into her own situation and asks him, “What if there’s nothing out there?”

And this is probably why she’s so willing to give her husband another chance, yes?

Robert meets Francis at a counselor’s office, and he’s annoyingly awkward with the secretary. I definitely think this show is going to have to give us reasons to like Robert and Francis, or else we’re not going to pull for them to be happy – whether or not they end up together.

During the counseling session, Robert brings up the affair and makes a big deal about her lover being French, which naturally turns into an argument because the guy isn’t French. Robert wants to know how many times they slept together, which also does not end well.

Meanwhile, it appears Francis went through with her gallery space, so she’s got that going for her. Robert has taken to pretty much living within one room in the house, and leaves his dirty dishes outside the door for Francis to pickup.

Back at counseling, Robert talks about a pretty deep friendship he had with someone of the opposite sex. He admits they did have feelings for each other, but he still remained faithful in the marriage. They start talking about the difference (if any) between a physical affair, or an emotional affair.

This is another conversation that does not end well.

Robert heads to the hospital to visit his friend, Nick, who’s been in a coma. He’s telling him all about the counseling, and miraculously, Nick wakes from the coma to tell Robert to “shut the fuck up”.

Once again at counseling, Francis tells Robert about the art gallery space. He doesn’t agree that’s how she should be spending her time, and Francis says counseling is obviously a waste of their time. So, they leave.

He tells her he’s going to stay somewhere else, and they have a somber goodbye. We’ll see how this goes… next week!

HBO's "Insecure", episode 3.

HBO’s “Insecure”, episode 3.

…And then there was also a new episode of “Insecure”. I am seriously LOVING this show.

Issa is back home with her boyfriend, and it’s awkward AF. However, he’s trying to prove himself and is out looking for jobs.

After her presentation flub in last week’s episode, she is still having some issues at her job. But, she’s determined to prove her coworkers wrong and make her next project awesome. Her project, “Beach Day”, turns out to be rocky at first, but the kids end up loving it, and her coworkers take notice – we even get to see another one of Issa’s raps. It’s pretty amazing.

Her boyfriend keeps going on interviews, but takes the advice of his recruiter and gets a small job to start getting paychecks aside from unemployment ones. So, he gets a job at Best Buy and cooks Issa dinner. She tells him she’s proud of him, and things seem to be looking up.

Meanwhile, Molly (Issa’s friend), goes on a few dates with another guy she met online. She seems to really like him, until he tells her friends that he actually did not go to college, and he has no regrets about it. This really bothers Molly, and she tells him she’s “not looking for a relationship right now”. Hmm!

What’s burnout & do I have it?

Burn out or just straight drop dead?

Burnout or just straight drop dead?

Despite my recent attempts to make Mondays better, I still find that I’ve become that person. You know, the one that is constantly counting down the hours until the end of the day, and absolutely counting down the days and hours until Friday.

I hate being that person.

So, how did this happen? I’ve been at my job for 10 months now; is it possible I’m already reached the breaking point? That can’t be… can it?

I’ve been hearing a lot about burnout lately – as in, “Don’t get burnout”, “Churn and burn”, in reference to typical agency life, which makes me feel like this is how it’s supposed to be.

I can say the past few months have been crazy at the office – we’re short on people and high on clients. It’s a tough balance to juggle, especially during the summer months when we all want a vacation.

My friends have asked me if I’m going to start looking for a new job. No, I say, what’s the point? I’ll end up at another office, doing the same thing, and still barely able to drag my ass to the coffee pot each morning. Is this something everyone goes through or am I just someone who really just hates work? Am I Peter Gibbons right now?

Regardless, I could totally go for some shrimp poppers right now, and there’s definitely no “Chotchkie’s” or other TGIFriday’s equivalent nearby.

So, what the hell is burnout – and is that what I’m feeling? I did some Googling to find out how to spot burnout and possibly…how to fix it.

The Mayo Clinic defines burnout as, “a special type of job stress — a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.” They also offer a survey to determine if you’re suffering from burnout:

  • Have you become cynical or critical at work?
  • Do you drag yourself to work and have trouble getting started once you arrive?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with co-workers, customers or clients?
  • Do you lack the energy to be consistently productive?
  • Do you lack satisfaction from your achievements?
  • Do you feel disillusioned about your job?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or to simply not feel?
  • Have your sleep habits or appetite changed?
  • Are you troubled by unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints?

The Mayo Clinic says if you answered “yes” to one of those, there’s a chance you’re suffering from burnout. I answered yes to seven. Whoops.

Okay, so I may be suffering from burnout… How do I get over it? Forbes magazine offers some advice:

  • Take Relaxation Seriously  Whether you take up meditation, listening to music, reading a book, taking a walk or visiting with friends and family, truly think about what you’ll do to relax, and designate time for it.
  • Cultivate a Rich Non-Work Life Find something outside of work that you are passionate about that’s challenging, engaging and really gets you going—whether a hobby, sports or fitness activities or volunteering in the community.
  • Unplug  While communication technology can promote productivity, it can also allow work stressors seep into family time, vacation and social activities. Set boundaries by turning off cell phones at dinner and delegating certain times to check email.
  • Get Enough Sleep  Research suggests that having fewer than six hours of sleep per night is a major risk factor for burnout, not least because poor sleep can have negative effects on your job performance and productivity. It can lead to fatigue, decrease your motivation, make you more sensitive to stressful events, impair your mental function, leave you more susceptible to errors and make it harder to juggle competing demands.
  • Get Organized  Often, when people are burnt out, they spend a lot of time worrying that they’ll forget to do something or that something important is going to slip through the cracks. Get organized, clear your head, put together a to-do list (or an electronic task list) then prioritize. That way, you don’t have to keep thinking about those things because you’ll have systems in place to remind you.
  • Stay Attuned  It’s important to tune into the precursors of those conditions, physical signs that you might be under too much stress: more headaches, tight shoulders, a stiff neck or more frequent stomach upset. In terms of mental health, burnout affects depression, and if you’re depressed, that can also affect your level of burnout—it goes both ways. So, if the issues you’re struggling with are really serious and getting worse, you may need to seek professional help.
  • Know When It’s You, and When It’s Them  Burnout is sometimes motivated by internal factors and sometimes it really is a symptom of external ones. In the first case, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Where is this coming from?” so you can figure out what’s stressing you out, and how to maintain your internal resources to keep yourself motivated, doing your best work and functioning well. Some burnout really is the fault of work. To find out whether it’s time to move on, figure out whether your position is a “mismatch between your needs and what you’re getting working for that particular organization.”

I really like the first suggestion on this list about taking relaxation seriously. About two months ago, I vowed to not take work home, whether after hours during the week or on the weekends (provided I was not on any type of deadline with a client).

It was time I take weekends seriously, and get back to doing the things I love, like reading while laying out at the pool, cooking, sleeping in, and binging on tacky TV. And, pestering Blanche, of course.

And since then, I’ve kept true to my word. Honestly, it makes the weekends way better. I still get really sad on Sunday nights, but at least I feel like I’ve got a few days of freedom to do what I want and not worry about things at the office.

The second suggestion, I’ve always been pretty good about getting involved in things that are non-work related. But, recently my motivation has been drained on that front. I still go to dance classes after work, but I never have that stay-up-late drive like I once had.

And I don’t mean stay up to work; I mean stay up to read a great book or to paint my nails, or write fiction stories that no one will ever see… and that’s the thing that’s worrying me the most. Did I lose my hunger?

I’m starting to wonder if any “day job” out there is the one for me, or if I’m just not cut out for it. I’ve tried the freelance thing, and the stress of the constant hustle, sans-insurance, is not my thing either. But is it possible I could get the job I dreamed of – one where I do have steady work, but it’s at home, or in an office that has way less bullshit?

There’s a few projects I’ve been wanting to start regarding this blog, and just writing in general, and I sit in front of the TV every night and thing, “Damn, wish I had the energy to get THAT done…” Well, it’s time to stop thinking and start actually doing – because right now, the only way I’m going to find a lick of happiness in my life is to make small moves, outside the hours of 9-5, like this guy:

It’s a tough juggle, I know. But I don’t know how else I’ll find my way – and get to do what I have always dreamed of doing. So, if you see a bunch of new stuff around these parts, I hope you’ll participate – all we’ve got is each other, and one life to get everything we’ve dreamed of, done.

Monday motivation: ‘Charlie Mike’ & glittery farts.

I'm freeeeeee!

I’m freeeeeee!

“I feel like a majority of my life is me just pretending like I don’t hate everything.” Sad, but true, I told my friend about a month ago.

I’m in a constant search of happiness, and I’ll be searching until I find it. As I mentioned before, I’m still obsessed with listening to podcasts and many of the ones I like are motivational; whether that be blatant or underlying.

I was catching up on The Jillian Michaels’ Show a few weeks ago during a road trip and she was talking about how she’s a control freak, and if something goes wrong that’s out of her control, she’s still going to feel like people are blaming her. She also has issues moving on (sounds familiar…).

She said she started working with a former Navy Seal, and he gets through these types of challenges by “Charlie Mike”. Huh? Charlie Mike. Complete the Mission. Do the best you can do with what you have in order to complete the mission.

You can listen to the entire episode here, but I think that phrase alone is pretty motivational.

It’s sort of weird to talk about motivation, but it’s really the only way for me to get through each day. Some days I feel incredibly READY to just tackle whatever comes. I get this jolt of energy, whether it’s used to go to work and knock out a bunch of tasks, or staying up late to clean my house; those days feel good.

But I’ll tell you this: every Sunday from about 2pm on, I dread the upcoming work week. Like really bad. Then I stay up really late on Sunday to avoid Monday as much as possible. Then on Monday, I’m a slug, and I’ll admit; I sometimes put off starting big tasks because I just don’t feel like it.

I start the countdown to Friday on Monday. Every Thursday night, I think MAN, I’m soooo glad tomorrow is Friday! And Friday at 5:30, I bust out of that office like it’s on fire. And why? Over the weekend, I got to thinking about why I love the weekend so much.

After all, I’m an adult, I can do what I want during the week; it’s not like I’ve got my parents telling me I’ve got to go to bed early. But, I get it, the work day really takes it out of me, and I usually go to dance until at least 8pm, so the weekdays are pretty much planned for me.

As soon as Friday night hits, I can do WHATEVER I want for an entire two days. That could be a cool dinner, a shopping trip, or like this weekend, I did lots of gardening (planted tomatoes and basil), went to a hockey game, and saw a movie. It was fantastic! If I want to, I can do nothing, I can lay in bed and watch homemade Daria marathons and roll around in my sweatpants. Its freedom.

Which brings me to another podcast I listened to last week, “Monocycle” by Leandra Medine at Manrepeller. The episode, “Saturday is a State of Mind“, and she talks a lot about the construct of time. She speaks the truth in that, on Thursdays, we’re so fueled by the IDEA of Saturday approaching, that we power through, and by Friday, “You’re so happy that you’re literally farting glitter.”

Is it the anticipation that we’re craving? Is there a way we can bottle that Saturday feeling and drink it when we’re feeling like shit on a Monday afternoon? Leandra talks about things we can do to help ease the woes of the week, including making Sunday fun instead of moping around, drinking extra delicious coffee on Monday or tackling the big things so the rest of the week is easy.

I don’t know if these things will necessarily work for me, but I’m down to take ideas. I currently take a pretty fun dance class on Monday nights, so that’s a start. But perhaps I should buy special coffee just for Mondays, or plan to always wear a bright color to kick off the week, or take myself to lunch.

One thing that’s inspired me for years is this video that came with a digital John Mayer album I bought many years ago. It was a short, acoustic album, and it featured this video of the making of the son, “In Repair” (which I love). The gist? He goes into the studio in the morning with no song; comes out that night having written the lyrics, song, and even recorded it. This motivates me like I cannot even understand:

I definitely don’t want to live my life just looking forward to two days a week. I want to look forward to every day; even if it’s anticipating something small, like a special dinner or a movie during the week. What about you? Do you do something special to make the weekdays a little more like a Saturday? I’d love to hear it; I need some cool ideas to make my entire week a fun one!

So, can we have it all?

Is it possible to have it all?

Is it possible to have it all?

I feel like I’m constantly going through, what John Mayer would call a “Quarter-life crisis”, when it comes to the state of my life. A few weeks ago, I talked to you guys about settling when it comes to our careers – what’s realistic and what’s… just the sad truth.

“Having it all” is not something I’ve ever thought of as an option; truthfully, it’s not something I think about often. But, remember that season of the “Real Housewives of New York” before Bethenny met Jason, and she was questioning whether or not having it all was actually possible.

Her argument was that, perhaps since she had such a successful career, she would never be able to fulfill the other parts of her dream: a husband and a child. Aaaaand then she met Jason and got pregnant, and they got married, and had this amazing (baller) New York apartment…

All of this had me convinced that YES, we can have it all!

…Until their marriage went down the shitter in flames; and is probably recorded as the longest, worst divorce in history. I was truly devastated when they broke up.

Of course, I’m not basing my life off the one situation I speak of; I don’t even know if there was a time that I’ve wanted it all. Sure, there’s been times I really wanted to get married. But, those were times I was not focusing on my career.

Yes, I have thought about having children; but only when I have a man in my life; and none of those men have ever been eligible fathers. I don’t know if I would have a child on my own; simply because of how difficult it would be. I am, however, contemplating freezing my eggs.

I’d say for most of my life, I’ve thought about my career the most. In my mind, I’ve wanted to be many different things or go down different paths, but I’ve always wanted to be successful.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but I just don’t think it’s possible to have it ALL. And please don’t give me the Beyonce example – yes, she’s got the career, but I am 100% sure that her marriage is a sham. So, there.

Instead of trying to have it all in all categories though; what about having it all in ONE category.

It’s pretty obvious that I haven’t figured out how to have it all in a relationship. Is it possible to have it all…in dating? I’ve never really met someone that could offer it all – it’s either one thing or the other; the personality or the looks; the success or the kindness, etc.

So, can I have it all in a career? This is currently what I’m struggling with, MAJOR. I can cope with the fact that I may never meet someone; may never get married, and probably will not have children.

Whew, let’s mourn on that for a moment.

Okay, so, the career thing. Over the years, my career has taken an interesting turn. I started as a web editor at a pretty big university, and worked there for about 7 years. My interest in digital marketing and strategy grew, and after being let go from the university, I was job hunting and doing freelance for most of 2015.

While doing full-time freelance was cool in that I could work from my bed; it was unstable. I was constantly worried whether or not the bills would be paid; and I was always working – often taking low-paying gigs just to get SOMEthing in the bank. It was a wreck.

For the last 7 months, I’ve worked as an SEO Analyst full-time at a search engine marketing agency.

Let me tell you this: the work we do is legit. I never expected to do this much data pulling and research surrounding a general online marketing campaign. I have learned a CRAZY amount of information this year. And, in general, the people that run the company are really smart and awesome, and there’s lots of perks you’ll generally see with start-ups: unlimited PTO, free food and beer, flex scheduling, and yoga pants.

But with all that said; I still struggle to wake up every day feeling happy. And I don’t really know why that is. Part of it is that my job is a real challenge; like so challenging each day that it’s beyond being excited; it’s terrifying and stressful.

I worry that maybe I’m not the person I thought I was. I resented my last salaried job for being too safe; too boring. I jumped with excitement when I heard my current job was challenging; fast-paced; never-stagnant. But there are days I feel I don’t have time to breathe; let alone relax after work. Work, for many, is 24-hours. Am I the lazy one?

“There has to be a balance,” one of my girlfriends told me over the phone last week. She’s right; balance is good; but where do we find it, outside of that happy medium between the air conditioner and the ceiling fan on a spring night in Texas?

I feel like I’m good at a lot of things that don’t make money: I’m good at blogging about my thoughts and TV shows; cooking delicious meals on a budget; live-Tweeting; wine-tasting; and pretty much making an adventure out of anything.

But where does that leave me? Will I ever be able to have a job/career that makes me excited to wake up everyday; excited to check my email; to have that feeling that I’m actually not “working”, I just get paid to do this fun stuff; whatever that may be.

In truth, I feel pretty guilty for having these emotions. I know I should be thankful for my job and I am – I’d be homeless without it. But my main struggle is this: is it my field, my job, the people, or… is it me? Something about it isn’t jiving.

I also know we’re not supposed to compare; but how can I not notice that I’ve been working for almost 8 years now, and I’m essentially entry-level? I feel like I’m always going to be in the slow reading group.

You know in “Office Space”, when Peter and Michael are talking about the “Million Dollar Question” – if you had a million dollars, what would you do? And whatever you say, that’s what job you should have. The guys determine that it’s total bullshit, because no one would clean up shit for a million dollars, and there’d be no janitors.

If I had a million dollars, then I’d just do this blog. And sure, perhaps I could monetize it to make money, but there’s a chance it would change the dynamic of the content, and I could lose readers because of it; or attract the wrong ones.

I’m not saying I’m giving up on the idea, but you know what I mean. And I know this is a battle I’m probably going to be dealing with for a minute (or for a year); so this won’t be the last you’ll hear about it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on it – do you have it all or know someone who does? Does your job offer it all? Your relationship? I’m dying to know!

Don’t quit your daydream.

Daydreaming... one of my favorite things to do.

Daydreaming… one of my favorite things to do.

A few weeks ago, I was riding in the car with a coworker on the way to a work event. We started at the company around the same time and were talking about our goals in terms of where we want to be down the road in our careers.

She mentioned the fact that we’ve been out of college for 9 years (yeeessh), and currently, we’re in entry-level positions after making career changes.

“I don’t want to guess anymore,” she said.

I understood her point… but I can’t say I feel the same way.

I’ve always, always been a dreamer. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I think something bigger is still out there for me. And maybe that’s because I do have a wild imagination, or I’m nuts, or I just like to pretend, but I’m not ready to give up on those dreams.

I still picture my name in print under a headline at The New York Times. I wish that one day, I’ll see one of my books on an actual shelf, in a real bookstore. I want to start a podcast. I also want to hire an intern. I have recently become obsessed with screenwriting and maybe one day I can write a movie or a TV series.

I have always pictured myself going to some kind of awards show; and a really big secret? I’ve totally practiced my acceptance speech. I’ve also pictured myself getting married; particularly on a vineyard, wearing a champagne colored gown. In my daydreams? I’m just a few steps away from actually meeting John Mayer and us falling in love and living in a giant cabin in Montana. Blanche totally approves.

I want to live near the beach and be able to take sunset strolls in the sand. Maybe I’ll have a summer home. Maybe I’ll move to New York and write for my favorite blog, Manrepeller.

It sounds nuts, I know. And I also know that is the struggle that many creatives face – we have so many passions, but we cannot weigh which ones are more important than the others, or how to fit in to the boxes society tells us we should in order to successfully get by.

But I think now, more than ever, the innovators are blazing a trail for all of us. We don’t necessarily have to do the things our parents did in order to live the American dream.

So, are my daydreams setting me up for disappointment or do they have anything good going for them? I found several articles that listed the benefits of daydreaming, including one from Life Hack. According to the article, some of the benefits include:

  • Further developing your creativity
  • Improved memory
  • Improved performance and productivity
  • Lower stress levels
  • Build hope and anticipation

Sounds like a win-win, if you ask me. But I’m curious: what are you dreaming of? Are there dreams you know you really could accomplish within the next month, year, or five years? Are there dreams that seem impossible?

I even have a dream of having a working herb garden on my patio…totally doable, but I just have to DO it. I know dreams can seem silly, but I’m not going to give up on them. After all, they’re so beautiful and fun. Instead, perhaps I’ll dream up the plans to make them a reality. What about you?

“If I ever get around to livin’, it’s gonna be just like I dreamed.” -John Mayer

Land a job from LinkedIn.

Yes, you can get a job on LinkedIn!

Yes, you can get a job on LinkedIn!

It’s a new year, a new you… could a new job be in store? Or, perhaps you’re considering an entire career change. If you’re new to The Bitter Lemon (Welcome!), let me fill you in: I unexpectedly lost my job at the end of 2014, spent most of 2015 hunting down my dream job, before finding it, moving 7 hours west, and am now living the LIFE.

First day on the job. Password: FINALLY

First day on the job. Password: FINALLY

And yes, they keep beer in the fridge for employees at my job (no, I’m dead serious) and there’s unlimited vacation.

Someone pinch me.

How did this happen to me? I got my job from LinkedIn. Again, I’m dead serious.

The better question here is, how can YOU do this?

Because here, at TBL, I’m all about spreading joy and happiness, and most importantly, figuring out ways to make every situation yours for the taking.

So, I’ve got 6 tips for improving your LinkedIn profile and landing that job you’ve been fantasizing about:

Let people know you’re looking

  • Whether you post on LinkedIn that you’re currently exploring career opportunities or you cleverly update your resume to reflect your job status, put it out there that you’re serious about a job search. Many hiring officers won’t take you seriously if you aren’t either – they think it’s a waste of time.

Actually fill out your profile

  • One of the BEST things about using LinkedIn to find a job is that many companies will let you apply for the job using your profile, which takes about two clicks. Trust me, it’s waaayyy better than having to upload and parse your resume, and then rewrite the whole thing again via answering a million questions. So, put everything on your profile you’d want a potential employer to know.
  • Recently, LinkedIn added a ton of new sections you can fill out and add to your profile. I’m not saying you’ve got to go nuts on these, but if you’ve got things to add, do it – if they’re going to make you look better, anyway.
  • When you fill out your profile, don’t be shy. You don’t have to worry about fitting all the information on one page, so go ape shit. Fill out all of the things you’ve accomplished in your previous jobs, highlight special courses or trainings you’ve attended, and don’t forget about areas you’ve excelled in. Sure, it’ll take time, but you only have to do it once.

Use a professional (looking) profile picture

  • I know not everyone has a professional headshot, but at least try to use a decent-looking photo. Do not use a selfie or any photo that features you, intoxicated, or looking sloppy. Come on! If you don’t have a photo, rig your iPhone to a steady area, sit in front of a plain wall with some natural lighting, set the timer, and smile like you mean it!
  • No matter what, don’t leave the photo empty. That just looks sad.

Network!

  • I’m not a big fan of networking, but networking on LinkedIn is pretty easy since you can do it while laying on your couch wearing sweats. So, find people you know, and connect with them – I’ve heard hiring officers only look at profiles with at least 100 connections. Find me (Holly A. Phillips) and let’s link up; 99 more to go!
  • Follow thought leaders in your field, or in the field you’re hoping to get into. Also, look for groups that talk about your passions, and join them.

Search for the right job

  • One thing is certain: LinkedIn is a GIANT search engine. But, in order for that to work in your favor, you’ve got to use the right words to find the jobs you’re looking for. This may take some brain storming. Think about the job you want, or the career field you’re interested in. Make a list of words and/or phrases that could describe it, and use these to narrow (or widen) your search.
  • For example, I knew I wanted a job that had something to do with Web/Internet and also writing and/or editing. I searched for all of those things, but also, web marketing, search engine marketing, social media strategy, online marketing, etc. I was able to find hundreds of jobs to apply to!

Don’t forget (or abandon) traditional job hunting skills

  • Yes, I work in the tech industry and I applied through LinkedIn, but societal norms still apply when it comes to job hunting. You still need to craft a well-written email/message/cover letter, and reply within a timely manner if you get a message or a call. The interview is still just like any other interview, and after every interview I had, even phone interviews, I mailed hand-written thank you cards.

So, there you have it! Got any other tips that have worked for you? Feel free to share them in the comments. Best of luck in your job search, and I hope to see you on LinkedIn!