Year End Rituals

Year End Rituals

November and December always throw me for a loop. When November hits I get extremely motivated and also very distracted. I get this mix of ideas, inspiration, and energy, but with that energy comes a lot of brain hopping. I’m over here, I’m over there, I’m thinking about this, I’m looking into that. Boing boing boing. I do things and forget about them, do webinars and trainings, and write down about 64 random lists and thoughts as they come into my head. I’m excited and sort of overwhelmed all at once.

By December I’m ready to let my brain marinate in all of the creative juices November has blessed me with. Plus, I’m exhausted. I feel like I’ve been training for a marathon I had no business signing up for in the first place. My main desire by the middle of December is to curl up with 14 blankets and take a nice long nap.

I’m really into fresh starts and December is the perfect time to start priming the pump for the new year. I have a 10 day break from work every year in December and it’s the ideal time to spend getting ready for whatever I decide the next year will be about. I cozy up at home, work on a vision board, and get clear on what I want to focus on in the year ahead. I watch movies while I work, listen to music, drink lots of tea, and write. I make plans, write lists, and pick a direction to go in. It’s INFJ heaven at my house from Christmas to the New Year.

The routine I’ve gotten into over the past three years has served me well and I’m really looking forward to keeping the momentum going this year. Here’s to 2019 and all of the amazing things it may bring!

The Shift

The Shift

Life feels abundantly full lately. Things have shifted for me and it’s been such a relief.

For one, I’ve stopped trying to figure out a side hustle to bring in extra income. Yes, it was nice getting a check every month when I was writing on the side but y’all, I missed my free time. Yes, it would be nice to earn passive income, but my heart just isn’t in cooking up an idea and executing it. Not right now. I’m still writing my newsletter once a week, and working on my podcast has given me a great outlet for my creativity.

I also stopped and took a hard look at how I’m treating this body I live in. I’m often the first to fall prey to a plate of chocolate chip cookies or a bowl of ice cream but my perspective has shifted. I’ve finally stopped connecting my diet to my appearance, weight, and size, and have moved toward, “Will this help me do cartwheels when I’m 80?” I’ve been inching toward cutting the crap that has no value added, but in reading Better Than Before, I realized some things that were holding me back from totally making the switch. It’s easier to resist that warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie when I keep the future in mind. The best part is that I don’t feel deprived- I feel like I’m in control. I never thought I’d see the day when I could live without cheese, but here I am, doing just fine without meat, dairy, sugar, and alcohol. My health comes first these days. Learning I had PCOS was definitely a wake up call for me.

In the same vein, I joined a gym. It hurt to say goodbye to that money but I’m not dreading working out like I was before. Why? The shift. Away from, “How fast is my 5k and did I lose any weight?” to, “What is this body capable of?” Not holding myself to any expectations really helps too. I do what I feel like doing. It all counts. There’s no agenda here. No goal six months away. No time to beat. Just me.

I talked about this before, but when I went off of social media in June it was  life changing. I didn’t want to go back. When I log into Facebook or Instagram now, I’m bored. I’ll scroll a bit, but I fail to see the point. When I think about all of the things I used to post, feeling obligated to say something, share my thoughts, and be present, I feel exhausted. Does anyone care about half of the stuff I post about? Nah –  and they shouldn’t. It’s unnatural to cherry pick my best thoughts and constantly share them with others. Why force everything into an Instagram caption or Facebook post? It’s been fun keeping things to myself, sharing them with my husband or a friend in person, or writing them down and letting them marinate in my brain.

I’m fully back into gratitude and working my way toward regular meditation. Both of these things make me feel good and they’re simple. Meditation can feel complicated, but the idea is simple. Sit with your thoughts. Accept them. Move on. Repeat. And gratitude? Easy peasy. I regularly take a minute to stop and appreciate the things I’m grateful for. Like yesterday, when I stopped to savor just how much I love beans. BEANS, of all things. It’s the little stuff.

I’ve been getting out into the sun. Most days during the week on my lunch hour you can find me out on my beach blanket in the grass, reading (or cat napping if I’m being real) in the sun. It’s a delectable way to spend your lunch hour. I recently added in ocean sounds and it’s as close to the beach as I can get on a work day.

I went on vacation. A glorious nine day trip away from my regularly scheduled life. Never in my independent adult life have I taken a proper vacation with no other agenda and I’m pretty sold on the premise. “Welcome to the party.” –Everyone else.

Other than all of that, I’ve been trying to work on how I show up. Instead of being short, impatient, and snippy, I’m hoping I can start to move toward a more compassionate way of being. I do well with this at work but I’m not always great at doing it in the rest of my life. Yep. Owning that. Working on it.

I’m so stinking grateful for this life. When I think about my life two or three years ago, I’m floored with how much things have changed. I’m trying to savor moments with people, places, and things I love and it’s making a huge difference.

A Month Without Social Media

A Month Without Social Media

Do you ever feel like social media is weighing you down?

Back in May I started to get The Feeling. The seeping, creeping feeling only social media can provide.

Checking my Instagram feed constantly. Absent-mindedly scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed. Documenting my life on Instagram’s Stories. Refreshing Twitter, trying to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Feeling pressure to post, use hashtags, and build my platform. Seeing others’ posts – friends, family, and acquaintances – and wondering if I matter to them.

Oof. I was sailing through life on autopilot and I didn’t realize it until that last thought popped into my head. Do I matter to these people?

Just thinking that thought twisted my stomach into knots. Do I matter to them?

When I couldn’t come up with an answer, the words came into my brain faster than I could say net neutrality: I’m going off of social media in the month of June.

So of course I Tweeted about it.

The idea of a detox was both exciting and terrifying. I clearly needed a break from it: it was causing me a fair amount of emotional distress. But on the flip side, I’m trying to build a brand. I just launched a podcast. I’m planning on writing a book in the next couple of years. Would taking a month away from my feed hurt my presence?

I decided I didn’t really care. If this was someone else, I’d be encouraging them to throw all of those ‘what ifs’ to the wind. Sometimes, you have to do you.

On May 31 I downloaded an app on my phone that would prevent me from opening any apps or websites I designated, and got the same extension for my browser.

What happened

The adjustment was tough

The first morning, I went to open Instagram at least five times before 8:30. FIVE TIMES. By day eleven the urge to open any social media app was gone, because I’d replaced it with a different distraction: games and the news. Solitaire, Freecell, Spider Solitaire, Rummy 500, Scrabble…An improvement over the pressure I was putting on myself about social media, but not exactly the unplugged existence I was picturing. Over the course of the month my preoccupation with games wore off, thankfully.

Time seemed to slow down

Instead of feeling like time was constantly slipping away, I felt like it was in abundance. Without all of the scrolling, posting, and planning, I’d apparently freed up a lot of time.

I started to wonder about the people I enjoy following on social media

Some were actual friends, some were long distance internet friends, and some were people I followed quietly from a distance. What were they up to? What was going on with them? It was a good reminder to get my head out of the phone and into the real world: to spend actual time with my people.

I’m more in the moment

I don’t mean living a carefree spontaneous life, but when something happens I’m fully invested in the moment. Whether it’s my dog doing something EXCESSIVELY cute or a car running a stop sign and trying to kill me, the outside world has my full attention. I’m not distracted and I don’t reach for my phone and start recording or take a photo just for the gram. Nine times out of 10, I forget I even have my phone and the option to document a moment. When I do reach for my phone to take a photo, I find that I end up with pictures I actually want to look back at instead of dozens of pictures I took for the sake of sharing. I jokingly asked my husband, “If you take a picture but you don’t share it with anyone, doesn’t it even really exist?”

I’m more in tune with my thoughts

Less time looking at my phone for big chunks of time has inevitably meant more time spent inside my own head. I’m already a really introspective, inquisitive person, and more quiet contemplation has let me get a better handle on what I’m feeling, thinking, and why. I’m still a complicated human being, but I feel more level headed. It’s been helpful for navigating the gut churning, “Do I matter?” question.

Where I am now

Two thirds of the way into my social media detox I started to wonder if I even wanted to go back. With all of the good stuff I gained in the first three weeks, I was feeling loath to revert back to my old ways. Then my thoughts went to my “platform.” What about your book? Your podcast? Your writing? The people you want to help? Can you get a book deal if you’re not a social media superstar influencer with 798k followers and 17 posts a week? No, not really. But my podcast and my writing don’t depend on my platform. I control those entirely. If I want to say it or write it, I can post it. I don’t need anyone’s approval or endorsement. And hey, if people like it and find it useful? That’s what I need more than anything else.

If nothing else, my month away reminded me of what I’m on this planet to do: write and help people.

Announcing Overcoming Underemployment: A Podcast Designed to Help the Underemployed Find Their Way

Announcing Overcoming Underemployment: A Podcast Designed to Help the Underemployed Find Their Way

A ton of people have told me the subject of underemployment would make a great podcast and earlier this year I started to see the light. After weeks of researching, planning, recording, editing, and fretting I launched my podcast, Overcoming Underemployment.

I started the podcast because it’s exactly what I needed when I was underemployed and my hope is that my listeners leave each episode a little bit better than they started. The podcast will feature stories of underemployment, validation of the experience, and advice on how to navigate this temporary and admittedly awful time. Whether you’re dealing with your job search, managing your finances, navigating relationships, wrestling with your mental health, and/or struggling with self care, this podcast is for you. Head on over to OvercomingUnderemployment.com to check it out!

Why Some Millennials Are Opting To Keep Their Finances Separate

Why Some Millennials Are Opting To Keep Their Finances Separate

One of my closest friends at my last job was consequently old enough to be my mother. One day we were talking about finances and I told her that my husband and I keep our finances separate. She had to pause and think about that- she hadn’t considered it before. The Bank of America 2018 Better Money Habits Millennial Report confirmed what we discovered that day- millennials are more likely than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers to keep their finances separate: 28% of millennial couples keep their finances separate, compared to 11% of Gen Xers and 13% of Baby Boomers. Continue reading “Why Some Millennials Are Opting To Keep Their Finances Separate”

How I Got My Dream Job After Five Years Of Searching

How I Got My Dream Job After Five Years Of Searching

Last year, I knew I needed to find a new job but I was tired of settling. The two positions I’d taken after graduate school had been stepping-stone career moves: My first position was in retail (where I learned a lot more than I thought I would) and my second job was much more closely aligned with my degree but left me wanting more. Continue reading “How I Got My Dream Job After Five Years Of Searching”

I Plan On Saving My Entire Tax Refund In 2018: Here’s Why

I Plan On Saving My Entire Tax Refund In 2018: Here’s Why

I’m in the Facebook group for a small indie women’s magazine and they post prompts in the group almost daily. The group has members of all ages and stages in life and is surprisingly active for a group of over 850 members. A few months ago, this was their prompt:”You have an unexpected $500 that you CAN’T spend on bills. What do you spend it on?” There were 36 comments on the post, and I was the only person to say, “I’d save it.” Call me old fashioned, call me stingy, call me smart, but if I got the average tax return of $2,782 in April, I’d put that money right into my savings account. Here’s why. Continue reading “I Plan On Saving My Entire Tax Refund In 2018: Here’s Why”

Salary Question Ban Benefits Women And Millennials

Salary Question Ban Benefits Women And Millennials

Amazon recently joined a growing list of employers, cities and states that have banned the dreaded salary question: What did you make at your previous job? If you’ve applied for a job in Oregon, California, Massachusetts, New York City, or Delaware recently, chances are you were decidedly not asked about your previous salary, thanks to new legislation banning the practice. And it isn’t just a question of legality; some employers are banning the practice themselves, including Facebook and Google. Continue reading “Salary Question Ban Benefits Women And Millennials”

The Science Of Success: How To Become A Firestarter

The Science Of Success: How To Become A Firestarter

Would you like to feel motivated, inspired, and capable of great things? Better yet, would you like a book full of helpful advice backed up by science and qualitative research to help you achieve those feelings? I thought you might. Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators, and Initiators Can Inspire You to Ignite Your Own Life by Raoul Davis Jr., Kathy Palokoff and Paul Eder delivers exactly what it promises. Continue reading “The Science Of Success: How To Become A Firestarter”

I have some exciting news!

I have some exciting news!

As many of you know, I graduated with my master’s degree in July of 2013 and have been chasing that advisor title ever since. After almost five years and many tears, moments of doubt, and quarter life crises, I’m glad I didn’t let the nagging little voice in my head telling me to give up win.

I’m extremely excited to announce that I’ve accepted the position of Advisor in the office of Student Support Services at Pitt! I start on February 6th and I’ll be working with first generation college students.

A special thank you to everyone who’s stuck with me through my very trying job search- your support has meant so much to me, especially in my more bleak moments.

I’m grateful for all of the experience I’ve gained over the past five years and the awesome people I’ve worked with in my travels. I look forward to growing, learning, and advising in this new position!

Here’s hoping 2018 is my (and your!) best year yet.