Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Something Beautiful

Something beautiful happened to me a couple of weeks ago and I felt the need to share it with all of you. If you didn’t know me growing up (and even if you did), I’m going to outline some of things I had to deal with while I was younger. From the time I was a kindergartner, I was bullied by someone. Let's clarify that I was not a perfect angel growing up, but I experienced a lot of people being not so nice to me for no reason at all. My first bully was named Amanda – she was in the 6th grade and used to love making me cry (as a 5 year old). I rode on a bus to school and it got so contentious, that my mom got on the bus and told her to leave me be. She often would make me sit without my friends and talk about how stupid I was.

The next bully I had was pretty consistent, from the time I first encountered her in the 4th grade all the way through high school – though once I hit 9th grade, it didn’t bug me as much and since we weren’t really EVER in the same classes, she had less of an opportunity (but she was sure to try as hard as she could). She turned many a girl and guy against me in middle school, to the point that my mom had to be at the school all the time BEGGING for people to keep her away from me or to do something. It turned me angry and acidic towards others and definitely broke my trustfulness nature in others. I became guarded. I also thought that my friends and others were deliberately trying to hurt me anytime I felt hurt, which wasn’t the case. I acted out in school as I was so frustrated with the situation and the injustice of it all. Many of my teachers in middle school either didn’t do anything about this situation or made me the problem because this girl’s mom was well known and respected in the community. It was tough for me until high school. My mom kept me involved in things outside of school so that my friend base wasn’t just in school and I had something to look forward to every day. I think that made me grow less guarded, more trusting and made me more of the positive person I am and see myself as today. By the way, this girl was deliberately mean to me at our 10 year high school reunion, so not much has changed.

With that background in mind, one of the girls that had not been so nice to me in school (not one of the aforementioned bullies) added me on Facebook. My first thought was NO WAY. She’s trying to stalk my profile and pick apart my life, just like she did when we were 13. My second thought was, maybe she is just trying to make a friend. With some trepidation, I accepted her request. Nothing happened for a long time after I added her. It seemed like she was happy, had a nice family and that things were going mostly well for her. Recently, she started posting about how her son was being bullied in middle school. While I don’t wish that on ANY child, I got rather angry. Why, would this person not see that they had caused me harm in vivid memories and then go on and on about how they can’t get any help from the school? My mom had to FIGHT tooth and nail for any justice or help for me without the aid of social media BECAUSE of things this girl did to me or participated in to make me feel badly. In my frustration, I posted a Facebook status echoing these thoughts. What happened on that status warms my heart to this day. That post got 42 comments, some outlining past issues, some talking about that maybe this person didn’t see the parallels in their own behaviors and the entire thread was about people sharing past experiences and trying to move on from them. Then I got a private message from the girl herself asking if was referring to her at all.

I was, to a degree. It wasn’t directed solely at her, many other people who had not been very nice to me were posting those things, but she was in that group of individuals. She apologized and we got to talking and I thought that it was the end of it. THEN she did an even more amazing thing – she posted a comment on my status saying that she was guilty of being nasty to me and that she was sorry (purple in the picture). She also posted a status about me – all positive things. 

Now, when I posted that frustrated status, I NEVER thought this would happen. I also NEVER thought that we would become long-distance friends when I added her as a friend on Facebook. BUT I’m SO GLAD that that is what happened! It’s hard to move on from those transgressions that you had in school that really changed and affected you, however small they might seem. People do grow up and change (not all the time, but a lot of the time). I’ve made it a philosophy in my life to try and offer forgiveness as often as I can (again, not all the time, as I’m not a saint). This instance was an example of a beautiful person doing a beautiful thing. What’s your something beautiful this month? I’d challenge you to display the level of humility, kindness and thoughtfulness MY FRIEND did to right a very old wrong that really meant more to me than she probably ever will realize. It also impacted my overall attitude and the way I've been approaching frustrating situations for the past several weeks. It was a beautiful thing and I was glad to be a part of it! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

What's your Challenge?

So I know most of my blog posts tend to be about personal discovery, how to deal with issues and things I learn the along the way. This one is a bit different, but still has the same theme. As many of you know, I’ve been on a journey to embrace a healthier lifestyle. I was brought up as the fast food queen and didn’t have to work at being thin. I did do a lot of physical activity, but it just was for fun (i.e. dance, basketball, track, cheerleading, etc.)  I never saw it as work or helping my body.

Once I got to grad school, I started to feel and see the effects of my not-so-great choices. I was never and have never really struggled with weight (I wasn’t happy with it, but it wasn’t a true struggle), but I did struggle with fatigue, strength and not being able to do physical things. I struggled to walk up stairs, struggled to breathe in dance classes, struggled to be able to balance working a waitressing job, an internship and grad school from a purely physical standpoint. I had trouble getting out of bed and had trouble not wanting several naps throughout the day.

While a goal of being a professional dancer/cheerleader fueled the fire, I decided to make the change to get in shape and be healthier. I can tell you, it was TOUGH to navigate what exercises to do and when, what things were good to eat and how often and when to eat them. I learned that while there are overall trends, you really have to do what is good for your body. You’ll FEEL it. Sometimes that means indulging in some high calorie foods. Sometimes that means taking a break and sleeping in. Those aren’t necessarily sound like they are a part of the lifestyle I’m trying to achieve and maintain, but they definitely are.

The ONE big thing I’ve discovered about myself is that, like in school or work, I like to work on deadlines. I like to procrastinate. I get a rush in getting things done efficiently and meeting a hard deadline. That translates into my workout schedule. If I don’t set small goals for myself (work out 3-4 days a week, for example), I won’t do it. I’ll make excuses for myself or just generally say I’m too tired or don’t have time, neither of which are the case MOST of the time.

One big change that I’ve made and am continuing to work on to help me stay on track is to NEVER miss a Monday workout. It doesn’t matter if I do it before work, during lunch or after work. It doesn’t matter what the workout consists of – sometimes it is weightlifting, sometimes the elliptical, sometimes a quick ab workout and sometimes a dance class. BUT I never miss it. It starts my wee
k off on a positive note. I feel like I’ve accomplished something after a hard Monday, being able to say, I sucked it up and did what I had to do. That sets the tone for the entire week. I’m more likely to work out more throughout the week and stay motivated. It also keeps me from feeling as tired or worn out.

While I think you need to do what is right for you, I would say try out as many little things to stay motivated! It’s hard to do so, especially this time of year, where there are fun holidays, food and cold weather. I like to curl up, read a book and drink yummy drinks, but just making small changes and doing small things can help to keep me on track through the season. I have read that the average American puts on 8 pounds throughout the holiday season, and I definitely see the truth in that for myself. By ensuring I keep up with my workouts and only indulge once or twice a week in comfort good, I don’t have an uphill battle come January! Don’t create that for yourself! My biggest challenge is to not skip a Monday workout throughout this season. Make one for yourself and stick to it! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Picking Yourself Up

I’ve been super bad about blogging lately, but I’ve made a promise to myself to not blog while angry EVER and I’ve been mighty angry as of late. There are a lot of things that haven’t been going so well, work related stressors, family issues, etc. and that contributes to being generally in a foul mood. While people might not see that externally, my internal mood tends to spill out when I’m writing. I made the promise to myself to not spew my negativity on the internet, so I apologize for my self-imposed hiatus.

BUT! I’m back and I want to use one of my latest experiences as a discussion starter or even just a thought starter J I recently went through a huge betrayal-type situation. I had a close friend who I very much valued her opinion and friendship basically try to hurt me, humiliate me, take away an opportunity that I LOVED to have and then justify it by lying about me to mutual friends and complete strangers. I didn’t really think this could happen after middle school, but alas, it does. It isn’t an easy thing to get through. Not only did I have to mourn the loss of opportunity and friendship, I had NO idea what triggered such a negative reaction. I also lost many friends in the crossfire as they didn’t know who or what to believe. That definitely affected me. It wasn’t fun or easy to work through. BELIEVE me; it took a ton of time to work through it.

I was angry, sad and mortified. My trust was completely broken and I started to question my own judgment. I wracked my brain to understand what I did to deserve such a transgression. And then I had it! I didn’t do anything. I wasn’t wrong. I didn’t deserve it. I had something horrible happen to me at the hand of someone I trusted and cared about and I have to live with it, but I wasn’t the issue. Oftentimes, people (me included) think they do good things to get good outcomes and bad things to get bad outcomes. When something horrible out of the blue happens, I tend to blame myself and try and find reason as to why that happened. Sometimes, people are just terrible – it isn’t my or your fault. Now, I’m not saying to NEVER accept blame for a bad outcome, but sometimes, it really isn’t YOU. It’s THEM.
After the fact, I tried to find the silver linings. I was able to devote more time to my boyfriend, friendships, work, etc. I was able to come to terms with my entire lifestyle change to be healthy and fit and that I was, in fact, doing that for me! I wasn’t doing it to appease said friend or anyone else. I was able to THINK. I had been running myself ragged with these people, FOR these people, who clearly didn’t care for me. It’s nice to be able to devote my time, effort and energy to things that matter and to people that cared.

After coming to that realization, I realized that I needed a re-charge, reset, refresh. I needed to come up with new goals to get that opportunity back that was taken from me. I needed to think outside the box. I needed to come up with a plan to reach those goals and stick with it. FOR ME. No one else. Picking yourself up after something horrible isn’t easy. And my life hasn’t gotten any less difficult; I still have the issues above – BUT being able to work through them, come up with positive ways to cope and positive ways to move forward has been my saving grace. I also can say that I didn’t do it alone. By reaching out when I knew I needed some help and having people reach out to me to give support, I was able to work through things much more quickly. I’ll be honest – I felt very alone, but having people just say, “hey, what happened to you sucked and I hope you are doing ok” really made the difference for me! Having a support system really helps and I’m glad to have built lasting relationships with people who are there to help pick me up. Yes, I picked myself up, but I had help to continue standing. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I'm Tired

I’m tired
I’m tired of work, “fun”, friends and life
I’m tired of not sleeping, of sleeping, of fast food and of cooking
I’m tired of bills, bank accounts, loans and STUDENT loans
I’m tired of being a good worker and it not mattering due to other factors such as dress, perceived work ethic and the fact that I’m a girl with boobs
I’m tired of being around fake people, where I am just a means to an end to them
I’m tired of men wanting to sleep with me and only seeing me as an object
I’m tired of not being treated as if I’m a person
I’m tired of being put into small cute packages of categorization to make it easier to identify me
I’m tired of being judged for ridiculous things
I’m tired of being judged for non-ridiculous things
I’m tired of having to live for other people
I’m tired of figuring out others’ perceptions of me
I’m tired of being told I’m the problem when I’m clearly not
I’m tired of people blaming social norms for bad behavior
I’m tired of people being mean
I’m tired of people being rude
I’m tired of malicious intent
I’m tired of being underpaid and undervalued
I’m tired of slaving at two jobs because I can’t get a competitive wage at my main one
I’m tired of having to explain WHY I deserve fair pay
I’m tired of men in my same job benefitting from my battles
I’m tired of laziness
I’m tired of doing others’ jobs for them
I’m tired at the lack of resourcefulness that people have
I’m tired of getting in trouble for caring too much
I’m tired of being told I care too much
I’m tired of caring
I’m just tired.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Blues

Isn’t it the worst to hear that one of your favorite coworkers is leaving an organization? Regardless of the reasons, it’s always like you’re losing a friend (even though you aren’t).  You see these people every day, you work to solve problems, implement solutions and see each other in triumph and defeat. You understand the office, organization, other coworkers, etc. It’s easy to talk about work, but it’s easier to see where each other is coming from since you are in the same pressure-cooker environment day in and day out. Imagine this happening to you over and over again in a short period of time. Doesn’t create a good environment, does it? 

Yes, there is a line or a difference between personal and professional relationships, but working together creates a bond. Even if you LOATHE the person and are happy to see them leave (I mean, I don’t get along with everyone!), there is a bond created. When someone you don’t loathe leaves, there is a missing piece feeling. Oh, she would have been GREAT on this project! This client would have LOVED her! He could have helped you with that….

Each departure is different and almost always, they are going on to bigger and brighter things, but it still makes me feel blue. Yeah its work and I can suck it up and keep doing what I’m doing, but to discount the bonds created and relationships isn’t right. Creating connections is what we do. Changing those connections can be difficult, but maintaining them is essential. You might not be in charge of the departures, your organizational culture and environment, but you ARE in charge of how you choose to maintain and cultivate relationships. And that’s something that I think is important. You make time for people who matter, who you relate to and who you care about.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Maintain Your Happiness! Identify Bad Apples.

I’ve been reflecting again and it took some really deep, sometimes not so pleasant conversations to get to this point. I’m sure from my previous posts, it’s pretty evident that I’m dealing with people doing some pretty horrible things to me and my close friends. Horrible in that they were once close to us, created a relationship with us that we thought would last and then dumped us off once we were deemed not helpful to them anymore. In addition to that, these people have been spreading horrible stories about me and my group that are just plain untrue. That’s on top of the fact that we’ve gone out on a limb to help them and develop them. It’s been bugging me to have been semi-blind sighted, but this is never a fun situation to be in. And it does get you down. 

Because of this, I’ve noticed that I’ve become less trusting, more guarded and easily frustrated. That just isn’t me. I had several friends and my sister approach me asking what’s going on, because I wasn’t being myself and it was so subtle they couldn’t tell if something was really wrong. I didn’t think anything was wrong to be honest. But after talking with them and dissecting some of what was going on with me, there definitely was. 

I was focusing too much on the people who are awful to me. I was trying to show them that I knew what they were doing, that they can’t get away with it and that they aren’t as smart or manipulative as they thought they were. WHY? Why was I expending so much time and energy on them? I was just making myself more upset (even though I didn’t know it) and focused on more negative things. This made me come off to people as negative, irritable and just not myself. 

I’m so glad that I have friends and my sister who felt comfortable enough to say something to me and have that really tough conversation. It wasn’t something I really felt I needed to work through, but I did. I needed to decide to quit letting them pull me down, to quit letting their actions govern my actions and to quit letting them make me feel badly. 

I needed to focus on the MANY individuals in my life who are amazing people. They are the type of people I want to be! I have so much supportive relationships, positive role models and strong friendships that I needed to STOP focusing on what someone was posting on Facebook to passively aggressively get me down and START focusing on praising my friends triumphs, meeting up with friends that have been busy the past few months and relish in the fact that I’m achieving my dreams, slowly but surely. 

As I always offer advice, here is mine for today. Take a step back and see if you’re letting someone affect you adversely. And take steps to identify and resolve or eliminate that bad apple so to speak. It could be as easy as hiding them from your newsfeed and it could be as difficult as talking it out with them and hashing out your issues. Whatever the solution, know that it is necessary to do it. Not letting others drag you down is easier said than done. Focus on those people who are awesome. Do fun things with them. Be sure to maintain your happiness!

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Brand New Life Around the Bend!

So I’m sure many of you that are my Facebook friends know that Who’s the Boss is pretty much my favorite show of all time. I used to watch it when I was younger and I still get excited when I hear the theme song. I’ve always been a little weird with my tastes, haha! Yes, I know the plots are pretty predictable and Tony Danza is over the top, but I think it’s just a funny, cute show. Well, if you don’t know, it comes on at 1am currently and sometimes I stay up to watch it, especially if I’m working late. It just puts me in a good mood. 

The other day, I was working both jobs late and had a nice day, but it was definitely tiring. Who’s the Boss comes on and I just decide I have to watch it, even though I’m pretty sleepy at this point. The intro starts playing and I haven’t really listened to the lyrics in a while:

There's a time for love and a time for living.
You take a chance and face the wind.
An open road and a road that's hidden
A brand new life around the bend.
There were times when I lost a dream or two.
Found the trail, and at the end was you.
There's a path you take and a path untaken
The choice is up to you my friend.
Nights are long but you're on your way
To a brand new life,
Brand new life,
Brand new life around the bend.

I was kind of in shock. This has been my life for the past few years. And I think it’s probably applicable to most of us. I’ve lost things that I thought for sure would have lasted my entire life, mostly relationships, some dreams and goals due to external factors and some people have changed for the worse around me in ways that I could have never predicted. I also am in a place right now that I could have never predicted with great jobs, professionally dancing, healthy lifestyle and developing and cultivating some of the best relationships with the most spectacular people I have ever met. Some of these people you just don’t think exist! 

The lyric that resonated with me the most was the path you take and the path untaken, the choice is up to you, my friend. Wow, so true, in so many ways. I could be in a completely different state of mind, lifestyle, etc. if I would have chosen a path in college that seemed to be the easiest and the one most of my friends were choosing. That just wasn’t a good fit for me; it’s definitely worked out for most of them! I often think about the paths I didn’t take and where I would be if I would have taken them. I wouldn’t say dwell on it, but reflecting (as I always say) is always good. One of the paths I didn’t take was dance for a very long time. I was told over and over that I needed to go to school, focus on academics, etc. I did that, created a career and now I want to dance too. It seems like my paths for those two things have collided and I’m able to take both. That isn’t always the case, but if you have a path untaken, I’d explore ways to take it. You never know, a brand new life could be around the bend! It was for me!