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Standing up… to HR, to karma.

I’ve become a pro at writing appropriate work emails to higher-ups.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some issues I was having at my day job. In particular, it seemed that my infamous “Catitude” had struck again, possibly ruining a work opportunity for me.

That opportunity was a promotion – the Director of Marketing position. My boss encouraged me to apply for it, so I did. And as far as I know, there were murmurings about my attitude, “How does she expect to be able to manage people?”

But, a few days passed, the whispers stopped, and I was scheduled for a 30-minute phone screening from human resources. Where I work, this call is simply to weed out candidates who are heavily unqualified.

My phone screen went well, and I even shared some ideas I had for future marketing, including areas where we are weak and how we could fix them.

Around this same time, my boss gave her 30-day notice after working at the company for seven years. As a small company, she worked on so many different aspects of what we do – and all of us felt the same – sad for us, but happy for her.

Her notice put things into complete panic, including the hiring process for this director position. It also flagged our CEO that our team needed a check up… which quickly led to each of us getting emails saying she was coming to town and wanted 1:1 meetings with each of us.

But my email was a little different, as it flippantly mentioned I wasn’t be considered for the Director of Marketing. Shortly after, I got the automatic rejection letter, and an email to staff introducing us to our new Director of Marketing.

I was crushed.

It wasn’t about not getting the promotion. It was about not being taken seriously, and not even considered. I didn’t even know how to (or if I should) respond. I didn’t even get out of bed the following day – a Friday.

I spent the weekend thinking things over, and trying to figure out how to reply to that email.

After days of thinking and hearing advice from my friends and family, I went back to work on Monday well-rested, and with a plan. I replied to the email simply saying, “I’ll see you when you get in town.” And my plan was to continue to do my work, and start looking for a new job.

Over the following few weeks – things were complete chaos. I felt emotionally drained; some days were okay, other days there were rumors we were all losing our jobs. I went home every night completely exhausted.

As my boss’ days at the office were numbered, she spoke on my behalf in a meeting with upper management, and explained to them that they handled my application for the Director of Marketing completely wrong.

As a result, I got an email from our HR department, apologizing, but for all of the wrong things. I took a few days to think it over, and decided to put my feelings out there. I was going to tell her everything I felt, with the assumption that she would show the CEO my email.

I won’t post the exact email I sent, but here are a few highlights:

It is my belief and experience that job interviews are a two-way street. They are an opportunity for a candidate to find out more about a company and/or the job they applied for, and it also serves as a way for the company to show who they are.

Being an internal candidate, I absolutely expected to have the opportunity to be interviewed face-to-face, even if only virtually, and even if only as a professional courtesy. Although I am not an HR professional, it has always been my understanding that if someone is applying for an internal promotion, they are seeking new challenges, a monetary raise, the opportunity to learn and grow, or perhaps even practice to brush up on interview skills.

I was encouraged to apply for this promotion, and I am also seeking all of the aforementioned. None of those were addressed during this process, which leaves me to wonder how the company considers me as an employee as I approach my two-year anniversary.

It’s honestly not about the promotion, nor is it about the reasons why I may not be qualified to fulfill the needs of the Director of Marketing position. Likely, I could tell you many reasons why I wasn’t given the opportunity, and I’m excited to work with the new hire, as I hear she has many years of fantastic experience.

It’s more about the fact that my needs and goals were not addressed in any fashion. In order to grow as a professional, I need opportunities – whether it be working as a team to see what growth for my position looks like, considering an intern for me to manage, or taking a class to grow my skills – none of that was taken seriously.

It really made me question all of the work I’ve put into the company. The work on weekends, showing up to work 24 hours after my dad passed away, creating weekly, monthly, and annual strategies for all of our social channels, attending the Hackathon weekend to create a free chat bot so our patients have a new way of speaking with our staff, and taking on many additional duties to assist our nonprofit at no additional pay, among other things.

I am honored to be working for a cause I care about, but I am also a professional approaching my 12th year of work as an Editor and Digital Strategist. Growth is extremely important to me, and I hope that I can do that with the support of a company who cares about their employees.

I felt good about my response, and she replied saying that my work is valued, that this situation was handled poorly, and that I was rightly frustrated.

The following day was my meeting with the CEO. And as soon as she stepped into my office, she gave me a very sincere apology. She also told me she needed that feedback. It was really, really unexpected and we had a really candid conversation about work, marketing, and goals for the future.

That same day, they flew in our new Director to meet with us and see our Austin offices. She met with our team individually over the course of a few days, and it was the weirdest dose of unprofessional behavior I think I’ve ever seen. Upon meeting me, she told me she:

  • Wasn’t going to complete her assigned training/orientation plan
  • Hated the company name and slogan
  • Hated meetings and wasn’t planning on continuing our weekly one
  • Didn’t believe in personality tests
  • Wasn’t sure how long she’d last at the company
  • Would go against company culture to make her ideas happen

…Um, what?

I wondered if this was the universe’s weird way of showing me what it’s like to meet someone with a truly poor attitude. And while I’m not all-smiles, I do think there’s something to be said about professionalism and making a good first impression.

But walking into a job BEFORE your first day and telling your subordinates that you’re not even sure how long you’ll last? That’s messed up.

Not to mention – this was the person they chose over me, and over many, many other candidates.

I won’t go into details, but some of the things she told us were even worse – and included unethical marketing practices and blatant statements that go against our company values.

Today is my boss’ last day, and my teammates and I don’t even know if our new boss is going to show up to work on Monday.

Things sure do have a weird way of happening, don’t they? I’m sad to admit that I’ve spent so much of my energy on all of this that I didn’t make it to a single workout class this week (I do have one tonight, at least). I couldn’t even bring myself to write this blog last night – instead, I took a bath and was in bed around 9.

I’d love to know if you’ve ever had a similar experience, or an experience that really made you question your job. How did you handle it? What did you do?

At the very least, it’s Friday, and the Hallmark Channel has already started their Countdown to Christmas (meaning, 24 hours of Christmas movies)! Happy Friday, everyone!

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Embracing the ‘YOLO’ Attitude.

Make every moment count.

I’ve written a little bit (or maybe a lot) about living your dreams, reaching for your goals, and in general, living life to its fullest. I have always felt a sense of urgency in my life and, although I’m not entirely sure the reasoning for it, I have felt it even more since my dad’s passing at the beginning of this year.

When I got the news that my dad needed surgery, of course there was a chance he wouldn’t make it. I immediately started questioning if he lived the life he dreamed he would. In the six months since his death, I’m learning more about my dad’s life, the adventures he took, and the obstacles he conquered.

I’m still not ready to get into details about my dad, but I know today that we all have a life to live and a story to create. And it’s up to us to make things happen.

Last summer, I was visiting some high school friends near my hometown of Columbus, Indiana. Since I was a kid, I wanted to escape Indiana – I’ve always felt there was something bigger in the world for me.

While I will likely never move back to Indiana, I’ve come to appreciate it for what is it, and I can see why so many of my classmates have stayed. Truthfully, I don’t think it matters so much where you live, but what you do there. It’s what you make of it.

Anyway, on this visit last summer, I was having lunch with a guy who was low-key trying to school me on why I needed to come back to Indiana. It became apparent very quickly that he was never planning to leave Indiana, and actually wouldn’t be open to moving anywhere else for any reason. Since I’ve known him, he hasn’t even traveled outside of the Midwest for a vacation.

I get it, traveling isn’t everyone’s thing. But there’s a whole WORLD out there waiting to be discovered! There’s so many different cultures and lifestyles – even moving from Baton Rouge to Austin, I’ve learned so much about the way people live and how cities flow. It’s fascinating to me.

I’ve never had a full-fledged Bucket List – I knew I wanted to fly to a city I’ve never been and see a concert (which I did earlier this year, and you can read about it here). Other than that, I just hear about things or places and think, “Oh, that’d be cool…”

But lately, I have been taking action on these types of things with such force that I almost feel reckless. I’m such an OCD planner (so much so that it often gets on my nerves), that booking flights and trips without much thought is against my grain. Buuuut I’m doing it – I’ve booked a trip to New York City later this year (I’ve never been!) and have also booked a flight to London for Spring 2019 (my first time overseas).

I told my best friend about my London flight just minutes after I booked it, and she booked a similar flight that same day to meet me there. THAT IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! It was then I realized that you don’t often meet people who are DOING things; who are willing to throw themselves into a life that’s dedicated to actually living, instead of just waiting around.

I know so many people who say, “Oh, I’d love to do that” or, “I’ve always wanted to go there,” but what are they doing to actually make it happen? Likely nothing.

While I am still learning and growing, here’s a few tips I’ve been living by to help me live every day to its fullest:

  • Be proactive

I believe in fate and destiny, but I also know that we have to take opportunities when they’re presented to us. And perhaps those “presentations” won’t be glaring or on a silver platter – you still have to go after them.

  • Create your own opportunities

After I graduated college, I struggled with understanding what my 9-5 life would look like. I got really stuck in what’s “normal” and I definitely was not creating opportunities for myself. But I quickly saw what that looks like: wasting away at a desk job. I vowed that I would never succumb to it and I haven’t. Yes, I do have a desk job, but I have 6 (currently) gigs on the side + my blogging class… plus this blog and my Etsy shop. I’ve always got things going on!

  • Set goals… and take action

You know I’m really big on setting goals – I’ve found it’s the best way to visualize and communicate what you want, and then make a fitting plan for action. What will it take to accomplish that goal?

  • Always keep learning

This is HUGE. No matter if we’re talking about your career, a hobby, or just life lessons – complacency should NOT be an option. If you don’t keep learning, things will never change.

  • Try new things

This goes hand-in-hand with “always keep learning” – try new things! It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, maybe it’s just a new menu item at your favorite restaurant. But if you don’t try new things, how will you know what you like and don’t like?

  • Never settle

Don’t make it about what you think you should be doing, who you think you should be dating, etc. – you do what’s best for you and keep raising the bar.

  • Live in the moment/be present

I know the future sometimes bogs me down, or even thinking about the past, I am practicing more and more to be present and focus on what’s happening now. It makes things a little less hectic, and it stops me from getting in my own way (I am my own worst enemy sometimes).

When I talk about embracing the YOLO lifestyle and attitude, I’m not just talking about travel or wild adventures. It could just be trying a new restaurant down the road or taking a class you’ve always wanted to take. Here’s a few other examples:

A colleague of mine lives in Brooklyn and was featured in a popular home style publication for all of the cool art and eclectic pieces she had in her home. She told all of these stories about how she spent years searching for these pieces, sometimes schlepping them across the city! She reminded me that even if you live in an apartment or a temporary home, don’t wait to fill it with things (or memories) you love! Especially if the journey leaves you with great stories.

A friend of mine who is a mom makes a big deal about her sons’ birthdays – she throws Pinterest-worthy parties and saves the custom cake-topper from each year for her boys to remember. She even gets festive over smaller events, like Shark Week! I love how she makes every day special; she has been one to remind me that every day we live is a holiday.

Several years ago, my best friend and I met in Las Vegas for the first time. We both admitted we were strapped on cash, and, in a place that’s rather costly, we learned how to have fun on a DIME. We found the cheapest (and most filling) buffets for meals and at night, we bought Four Lokos (RIP sweet nectar) and sipped on them while walking the strip and going into all of the casinos (even dipping our toes into some of the fancy pools). We went back to Vegas last year with a little more money, and while we had fun, our first trip remains to be one of my best memories. We had fun, we got to see the city, and it opened up so many opportunities because we learned that we could go anywhere, no matter what kind of money we had.

A fashion/lifestyle blogger I follow just moved to San Fransisco, and from her Instagram Stories, it looks like her and her husband are on a mission to explore the city every weekend – I love it! They go to farmer’s markets, rent scooters, and try new restaurants. It’s simple, but it’s a great reminder that fun gems can be right around the corner!

I have made it a goal to try a new restaurant each week (I’ve been documenting them on my Instagram @Orangejulius7) and have also been taking new yoga classes as part of my YOLO adventures.

I know every day may not be wild and crazy, but it’s the small things that count, too, right? I’d love to know what things you do to make every day special – YOLO!

On life, time & the woman of grace.

Life is short, and time moves so fast.

Life is short, and time moves so fast.

It has been said that time is the true teller of things (and people) that really matter. After all, things or moments or people that withstand the test of time – those are the keepers.

A few weeks ago, I realized I’ve done something in my life for the first time: I lost track of time. I don’t mean I let a lazy Sunday go by after floating on a self-made raft of mimosas and pancakes. I mean I stopped counting all of the years, months, weeks, and days it had been since monumental things happened in my life.

In general, we’re obsessed with numbers. We keep track of everything – not just the time on a clock or the days of the week; we have holidays, anniversaries, countdowns, and remembrances. We count calories, calculate bank accounts, and even track the steps we take.

And until recently, I kept track (mentally) of everything. How long it had been since I talked to him, or how long it’s been since I kissed someone; how long has it been since I’ve had a drink; when was the last time I ate red meat…blah, blah, blah.

But what about, when was the last time I just lived my life? Had a blissful moment? Took a second to relax? Told someone I loved them?

Keeping track of the moments or things that don’t really matter, is exhausting. Perhaps, enough time has put a distance between the moment and my memory, so much so, that I’ve all but forgotten the dates and reminders of the things that essentially broke my spirit. And I’m happy to let that go.

This weekend, news from my hometown served me a different reminder of just how precious time is. A woman who attended school with many of my friends lived her last moments in a tragic accident.

She, Jackie, was the type of woman we all wished we could be. Although my conversations with her were limited, I can say with complete confidence that she was sweet, selfless, intelligent, and bright. She was beautiful inside and out, and I know she had an overwhelming love for animals, and for her husband, Michael.

The moments leading up to the sad news seemed like forever. I stayed awake, on the phone with friends, as we hoped and prayed that this would end with Jackie at home, safe. I know we all wanted answers, but now, I’m certain the world could use more time, more days filled with her bright light.

When I suffer a loss, I immediately feel this sense of time and how little we have of it, and the pressure is on to rearrange my priorities in order to fill my time with moments I can look back on with pride and happiness.

Sadly, I’ve felt this pressure twice in just a few weeks – instead of prioritizing, I’ve spend lots of time in tears, moments asking why, and doing anything I can from afar to comfort those in pain.

I don’t know the moments that may have awaited Jackie; her hopes and dreams, but I do know she used her time wisely. She loved purely; she smiled a lot, and she spent hours upon hours caring for animals in need. In these last few days, her close friends and family have posted so many pictures of her with bunnies, dogs, friends, family, and her husband.

She was here for a short time, but her kindness made this world a beautiful place. For those that knew her, I truly think we’re better for it; she has a spirit that will withstand time, and may very well inspire us to use our time here a little differently.

I know I get caught up in the day-to-day madness, and when that happens, I lose sight of the bigger picture. There’s a reason we’re all here; a reason why things happen; and a reason why some of us have slower clocks than others.

For those who knew Jackie, I know the days ahead aren’t going to be easy. I’m wishing you strength and peace. Because of the nature of Jackie’s story, there were questions and speculation. In all honesty, there are some answers we may never get.

But what I do know is that we can honor our lost loves by loving even more; by giving more; by sharing kindness; and possibly by simply showing up – making time for those we care about. I know that’s something I need to get better at.

None of us know how much time we have left, which is why it’s important to make every moment count. But I’m not down with all the counting and numbers, so here’s to simply living with purpose, and doing so beautifully.

If I ever get around to living, it’s gonna be just like I dreamed. I’m gonna take the love I’m given, and set it free. 

If I ever get around to living, I’ll take the end of every day and tie it up to every morning, and sail away.

-John Mayer, If I Ever Get Around to Living 

If you’d like to make a donation in Jackie’s honor, IndyClaw Rescue is where she helped so many fur babies. May her sweet legacy live forever. 

Tackle your passion!

PASSION in 2017!

PASSION in 2017!

I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’m so excited about this being a new year, I feel so fresh and rejuvenated, and overall I’m just ready to really tackle my life and my dreams in a way I haven’t felt before.

When I got my first day job, I remember my coworkers were always so shocked at how much I had going on in my life outside of my job – at times I was bartending at night, I was always maintaining my boxing regimen, I wrote and published books, kept up with this blog, taught my blog classes, and did freelance editing work.

There were times I hated being so busy, but the truth is, when things are slow, I really don’t know what to do with myself. I may ALWAYS have a life like this, and that’s how I like it (within reason, of course).

In reality, I’ve sought activities and side jobs outside of my 9-5 job because there was always something my day job was missing. And I think no matter what job you have, it won’t be perfect. Even if I was being paid enough by simply keeping up with this blog, I would still be at the dance studio every night, I’d still be attempting to learn how to write a screen play, and I’d still be doing freelance.

My struggle is really staying focused on my passion, which is writing. Period. I always want to be writing and want to be perfecting my craft. And in order to be a great writer, I have to be a great reader. So, aside from finding quality time to write, I’ve got to find time to read! It’s the great balancing act.

Now, I’m not sure if any of you are working on tackling a passion project this year, and there are many methods out there that can help you get things done, but I came across one way that sounded interesting: the 90-90-1 rule.

The 90-90-1 rule is this: for the next 90 days, spend 90 minutes first thing in the morning, on your 1 passion project. Sounds cool, right?

I would consider myself a morning-ish person. I always get up earlier than necessary so I can have extra time to get ready or to write, or whatever I need to get done. So the 90-minute thing would probably work for me each morning. But maybe you’re an afternoon person, or a night owl – I say do it whenever you feel your mind is going to be the best for whatever your passion project is.

Several weeks ago, John Mayer (swwooooon) was on Facebook Live doing a Q&A session before releasing his first single off an upcoming record. He was answering a fan’s question, about what I don’t remember, but he told the person something along the lines of, “Go too far with it…go crazy…those are the people that succeed.”

Preach! It takes a lot of time, and work, and guts to succeed, and that’s why some of the most successful people (whomever you consider that to be) are probably a little weird – because they are SO passionate about what they do.

I have this daily struggle of being super regimented in order to “succeed” at my day job – go to bed early, get a good night’s sleep, work through lunch, work late, etc. But then the weekend rolls around and I’m dead tired, and I have to cram all of my leisure reading and blog writing into two days, and it hardly works.

I have always wanted to live a life that’s full of variety – where every day feels a little bit different. Maybe it means, going to a coffee shop before work instead of just drinking from my little coffee maker, or maybe it means checking out a new place to eat lunch, or even just staying up late on my couch on a Monday night to finish reading a good book, at the risk of being groggy at work the next day.

The latter sounds more fun, right? If you’re tackling your passion this year, I’d love to know what method you’re using, or how you’re planning to go about it. Let’s support each other as we work to live our dreams!

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’s holding us back?

Live the life you've dreamed of.

Live the life you’ve dreamed of.

It’s my birthday-eve, and I admittedly get reflective around this time each year (as if I’m not reflective every day of my life). Before writing this, I took a look back at the last few years of birthday posts – and most of them are similar in fashion; I’m really just trying to forget the fact that another year has passed without me really reaching any of my life goals, while somehow simultaneously trying to get my life in some sort of order.

Truth be told, I’ve had such a shitty few weeks that it’s not really worth me worrying over the baskets of unfinished laundry or seemingly never-ending stack of bills that’s attacking my small income.

What I really want to know is, where is this all going? And please, spare me the Jesus talk. I’ve heard it plenty of times, and it’s not my thing, and let’s just leave it at that.

I started thinking about this a few weeks ago while listening to Chris Gethard’s podcast, “Beautiful Stories by Anonymous People”.

It’s episode 15, “The Hardest Part is That You Love Me”, and it’s a 25-year-old woman from California, and she claims she’s experiencing her quarter-life crisist. Preach, girl!

She is questioning where her career is going, and she’s convinced that instead of picking something she wants to do, she needs to let the universe gather information and guide her to where she needs to go (she’s admittedly a California hippie).

Eventually, he asked the caller what was keeping her from living her dreams… and whoa; that really got me thinking. I think about my hopes and dreams a lot; but never in those terms.

And the thing is, I think most of the time, we’re keeping ourselves from living our dreams over fear of failure. Right? Sure, there are other little excuses that could live in the way – money, location, people, etc. But when you REALLY think about it – what is it, what’s that thing that’s holding you back?

I found an old article in “Forbes” magazine, “The Lies We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” that talks about this exact subject.

“Always the easiest move is to do nothing. The path of least resistance is well worn. It’s when we decide to do something that things get trickier. It’s difficult to determine when we’re being cautious or being fearful. After all, we’re masters at rationalizing our fear into prudence.

Fear exists for a reason — protection. That same fight-or-flight response that prevented us from being eaten by tigers also warns us when our mental selves are in danger. Fear feels bad, and we want it alleviated.”

All very true. Sure, we’re afraid of failure, but what about when failure becomes the comfort zone? I think about this a lot in terms of dating. I know failure very well in relationships; I know it so well I’d venture to say that heartbreak is my homebase.

I know how to mend my heart when it’s hurting – it’s almost sad how sad of a science it’s become. I have certain go-to movies; comfort foods and positive phrases. I pack the memories in boxes and toss them in dumpsters; I ritually delete things from my phone and inbox. And with each time, the failure gets easier to get over, almost scary in a way, like the relationship was just a means to an end.

…Which explains why I’m terrified of something actually working. What does that even look like? What is that like, when a man introduces a woman to his family with no other intention but to include her in his life? Or when he does something for you with the hopes of nothing in return but your happiness?

But what about other hopes and dreams? Maybe it’s taking a trip, writing a book, running a marathon, recording a song, winning a contest – would it kill us to fail at something like that?

Many of my dreams involve living certain places or getting published… and I’ve failed plenty of times at that. But perhaps my fear is just never being successful at it; then I’d be crushed. Or would I? I’ll never know until I try, right?

In the podcast episode, Gethard tells the California girl a similar sentiment; that before he became a comedian, he was afraid of discovering the sting that he just wasn’t good at it. But, eventually he got his first big gig (right before he was about to run out of rent money).

But he packs a lot of truth in saying that there’s one reason you SHOULD try to go after your dreams: happiness. That one reason outweighs the 100 reasons you shouldn’t do it.

And yeah, I can get behind something like that. So, this weekend, I’m old AF, and I don’t care. I’m getting drunk, I’m eating all the foods I never let myself eat, and I’m sleeping in. Maybe I’ll make a dreamboard; maybe I’ll start writing the script I’ve got in my head. There’s another year ahead, in the adventures of me.

So, if you really want to wish me a happy birthday, I’d love to know what your dreams are. Maybe you’ve reached them, and how? Or how do you plan to reach them? Or what’s stopping you from going after what you want?

Let’s dream it, and let’s do it. This year.

Follow Holly on social media @OrangeJulius7 to catch up on her weekend antics (really just cat pics). We’ll see you right back here on Tuesday!

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.

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!

#Goals in 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Whoop — first blog of 2016! I thought it would feel more weird writing that number, but I feel like I’ve had my eye on 2016 for awhile now. Perhaps it’s just because a majority of my 2015 totally sucked.

But it’s a fresh year, and although I feel like I make New Years goals/resolutions and never pay attention to them again, here I am setting a few things up for myself.

For starters, I’m really working to figure out how to manage my time better. I got a new planner for Christmas and I’m getting in the habit of writing everything down that I need to do, and the places I need to be.

I feel like, by the time I get home from work, it’s already time to get to ready for the next day, and start winding down for bed. And that makes me feel like all I do is work. That can’t happen. So, I’m going to manage my time better to have more time for myself. Even if I’m watching TV, I’m usually on the computer or searching for things online with my phone. I rarely just relax.

My biggest goal this year is to clean up my finances. I’ve still got some credit card debt that I’m working to pay off; it’s something that’s been holding me back for years, and I’m ready to finish it off and close a few of my high interest cards. If you’ve got any budget tips (aside from Dave Ramsey – I’ve got books on books on books), let me know!

And, speaking of books, I really didn’t read at all last year, which is really unlike me. So, I bought a few new books recently, and I’m pretty amped to crack them open.

As for my love life, it should come as no surprise that I’m getting tired of being single. I know that I’m supposed to be waiting for this possibly imaginary guy to come my way, but I at least need to get out there and go on a date. So, that’s my goal this year. I want to meet some people in Austin, maybe they’ll just end up friends, but I think I need to make a real effort to get back out there. It’s been way too long.

So, what are your goals/hopes/dreams/resolutions for 2016? I’d love to hear them!

Pic of the Week.

I need more sleep.

I need more sleep.

I’ve discussed a little about the trouble I’ve had with sleeping over the years. From what I remember, the trouble started during a bad breakup I had several years ago. He was cheating on me and I had these terrible nightmares of him having sex with other women. They were vivid and would wake me up during all hours of the night.

I dated someone after that, someone who could not have been worse for me. Our hours were very different, and he would say things — abusive things — to me before bed. Sometimes, the sex was scarily abusive as well. I went to sleep crying many nights when we were together. When we broke up, I felt this immense sense of freedom — I could finally sleep! And that first night, I jumped into bed early and fell into a quiet, solid sleep.

That is, until I woke up to a banging on my door. He was trying to get in. Luckily, I had already changed the locks and I was safe inside — although I was terrified.

That was almost two years ago, and since then, I’ve done a lot to try and help myself sleep better. I treated myself to an entirely new bed — frame, headboard, mattress, even new (and engraved) bedding. I’ve invested in lavender-scented everything. For Christmas, I got a diffuser for my essential oils and about an hour before bed, I turn it on to fill my bedroom with a relaxing mix.

Then, a few weeks ago, I purchased an all-natural sleeping pill from Melaleuca. I’ve been taking it at least five nights a week, and for the most part, I wakeup feeling refreshed — a feeling I’ve rarely experienced. I let a friend try the pill and he told me it gave him “weird” dreams. I hadn’t noticed that side effect.

In fact, I noticed the opposite. While I’ve been suffering from nightmares (terrifying ones that wake me up in the middle of the night), my dreams on the sleeping aid are pleasant. I had a dream a few weeks ago that I got married — granted, it was to someone I went to high school with that I never talk to, but it still beats night terrors.

Over the weekend, I had a very weird dream, though not entirely unpleasant. It started off as a date, a date with this guy who goes to my gym. We’ve never talked and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know my name. Nonetheless, he’s attractive.

We go on this date, which was at a BBQ place I think, and he was on his phone texting most of the date. When I called him out on it, he said I was the one who put myself in “lonely situations every day.” We left, and when I went to my car, my dad pulled up.

Now, my dad is a subject I’ve avoided on this blog, and I’m still not quite ready to venture there just yet. But, I haven’t seen my dad in a long time, nor have I talked to him. When he got out of his car, in my dream, it sure did look just like him, and he told me he was worried about me.

He hugged me, and I cried tears of joy. The hug felt so real. It was a feeling I’ve never experienced. I woke up mid-hug, and although I wasn’t crying, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I really felt like my dad and I just hugged — have you ever experienced a dream that felt real?

The more open I am about my sleeping troubles, the more I learn that a lot of people have trouble sleeping. While it doesn’t work every time, I do try and “wind down” at the end of the night — turning off some lights, watching light TV with the volume on low, and refraining from drinking. Reading, or drinking a relaxing tea also helps me.

Of course, maintaining a healthy diet and partaking in regular exercise also helps with a good sleeping pattern. What are your tips for sleeping soundly?

Saying Goodbye to my Clooney Dreams.

I'd love to be a wall in that pool...

I’d love to be a wall in that pool…

Today,

I say goodbye to my visions/Of marrying/George Clooney

Okay, so maybe/I wasn’t picking out a white gown/But rather/White sheets/And/Tiny/Under-wires

But still/Drooling over/Your buttoned up/Look/Even though/I’ll take/Buttoned down,/Unbuttoned/… Fuck the buttons

Ah, Clooney/Compared to a classic/Chanel suit/That’ll never go out of style

I remember you in ER/Dr. Ross/And that’s a given/Because everyone wants/A doctor… Ross

But I fell in love/During/One Fine Day/Wanted to take flight/With you/Up in the Air/Hunting chickens/With you,/The Fantastic/Mr. Fox

I envisioned us lasting forever/Well, forever in a sense/That I’ve got Google/And a pair of binoculars/And comfort comes/When I know it’s/Nighttime/In Hollywood/And you know,/Baton Rouge is like/Hollywood/Of the south

I don’t quite know/If I believe in marriage, Clooney/But I do believe in/Forever/And that’s why I believed in/You/Because George Clooney/Does not/Get/Married

Okay, so you’ve done it/Once/But we’re not counting it/George Clooney/Get’s Golden Globes/Dates chicks/Who’ve got/Golden Globes

Clooney/Dates/Divas/Household names

Clooney gets/Quoted in magazines/Saying/“I will never marry again”

Clooney/Is a wax statue/A photo-op/A running joke/A common wish

Clooney looks/Good in a suit/Looks good by the pool/On a private jet/Looks good with gray hair

Clooney/Wears a bowtie/When he goes/Back on his word.

Ah, Clooney/You’re a motorcycle ride/To the sunset/A sip of champagne/I can’t quite afford

A vow/That I just can’t get/Right