Falling into Place

As you know there has been a lot going on around here. This week has been all about planning. Planning showers and parties and packing and travel, it’s been a little intense. Throughout the week, I have had several little, not even panic attacks, but bouts of stress. I will see something that I have not yet planned within an inch of its life, and I will become so anxious because of this tiny little detail I have not yet fully solved. Then I deal with that tiny little detail and realize that I probably could have waited a week on that one.

Over time, I have learned that things always work out. Not always the way you plan, but for the most part, it all works out. Sometimes, you need hindsight to really see the truth in this, but it seems to be true thus far. Once you come out the other side, you realize, that was how it needed to happen.

Here I am, at a major turning point in, not just my life, but a lot of lives around me. People are getting married, people are moving, people are having children. Things are changing. Some of these changes were planned, some were happy accidents. There are things in life you can plan for. And if there is planning that can be done, I will do it. Seriously, I have spreadsheets for everything. There is also a lot of life that cannot be planned. That doesn’t make it worse. That doesn’t really even make it more stressful. Sometimes the over planning is where the stress really stems from.

I am moving to Los Angeles. A city that juxtaposes itself. On one hand, it is one of the largest and most populated cities in the country. Best known for its traffic, celebrity residents, and fish tacos. On the other hand, the natural landscape is amazing. It sits right on the ocean and is surrounded by mountains, which brings surfers, yogis, and holistic trendsetters. It gets easy to get caught up in the stress of life, making plans to make plans. I think we all just forget to breathe sometimes.

I was in a yoga class last week and having a hard time with some pose I do not normally struggle with. Then I realized I hadn’t taken a breathe in close to 45 seconds. I was working so hard that I forgot to breathe. If you have ever taken a yoga class, you know that breathing is like 75 percent of it. If you are not breathing, you cannot accomplish anything. I think this is true in life on a greater scale as well.

So when life starts to overwhelm you, try to remind yourself, things will fall into place. And don’t forget to breathe.

Did You Miss Me?

It has been about three months since I last posted anything. My instinct is to make excuses: tell you how busy I have been, blame all of the things that have happened in my life that might somehow justify my absence, go on about how I really need to take more time to do things for myself. But here is what really happened, I have not made this blog a priority. Other things in my life have taken precedence and that is ok. Rather than give you reasons why I have not been posting, I am just going to update you on what has been going on in my life since you last heard from me and let you know what you can expect now that I am back.

First and foremost, my sister is getting married. She got engaged a little over a month ago and has been planning like crazy as she will be getting married in less than six months! As this is always at the front of my mind and a major topic of conversation within my family, you can probably expect to get some posts about wedding festivities, with her permission.

The second major event that is coming very soon is that I am moving from Saint Louis to Los Angeles in just one month. I have wanted to move there my entire life and I cannot express enough how I excited I am that this is finally happening. Expect to hear not only about the changes, but about life in Los Angeles and what all that will bring. I have lived in the Midwest for a vast majority of my life with a brief stint in the South, so I am anticipating a bit of a culture shock in the realm of I cannot believe I get to live here (sorry, Midwest, but you knew what this was…).

The third is more of a consequence of the second than a separate life event, but I will be embarking on a major road trip in a month and seeing parts of the country I have never seen before. So you will certainly read my experiences on this epic road trip and all that comes out of that.

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I am very excited about all that is to come, hopefully you will be excited to read about it.

Sick Day

Taking sick days is something I am not accustom to doing. Even as a kid, I rarely missed school due to illness. I never asked if I could miss school, never tried to trick my parents into believing I was sick. If I missed school because I was sick, I was likely sick enough that the school would not allow me to come in.

When you are younger, getting sick usually means that another kid in your class was sick and it was your turn. As you get older, I find that getting sick is usually a sign that you need to slow down. Whatever you are doing is not working. Stress, lack of sleep, a general sense of not slowing down. These are the circumstances in which I usually find myself getting sick.

There is no great solution to this issue. I can work less, but then money becomes an issue increasing my stress levels. I can work more, but there are just not enough hours in the week. In the world in which we live, not the world, the society in which we live, people seem to run themselves into the ground until their bodies start literally and physically rejecting their lifestyle. A few days later, we recuperate and start right back where we left off. How long can we sustain this? When is there a break coming? At what point will there be time to just take a breath and let our bodies rest?

I have no answer for this. I don’t know if in this country anyone has a great answer for this. I am starting to wonder if this is the American Dream. It may be time for a new one.

Yes, I’m ready.

*May contain vague spoilers regarding the Parks and Recreation series finale that aired last night.*

Leslie Knope

Last night, the series finale of Parks and Recreation aired. A rarity in television finales, we got to see what the long-term future holds for our beloved characters, which was a treat to say the least. The episode featured flashes into the futures of each character (future being relative as this season was already set in 2017) and back to the “present”. After seeing all of the wonderful thing that will come, the episode ended with Leslie and Ben prepared to leave. Ben says, “You ready, babe?” Leslie replies, “Yes. I’m ready.” I feel my life is in a similar state as the show ended. One season is ending and a whole other is beginning. Big changes, big moves, but it feels like things are finally falling into place.

Leslie Knope is a woman with big dreams. A woman I can relate to. She has always known she wanted to work in politics. Since the beginning she has had her sights on the White House. We found out last night that she wrote that she wanted to be the Governor of Indiana in her Kindergarten dream journal. When the series began, the possibility of Leslie making it out of Pawnee seemed slim. It seemed like the entire world was fighting against her. By the end of the series, I imagine every fan of the series believe that she can accomplish anything and everything she sets her mind to.

I do not have the luxury to see into my own future. I do not know if I will accomplish the major goals I have in my life. I know I am going to try. I know that soon, I will be moving on to the next phase and become closer to my dreams than I ever have been before.

Yesterday, I was asked if I was scared. I did not know quite how to respond. Anxious? Yes. Excited? Absolutely. Scared? I don’t really do scared. I don’t make a habit of putting myself in scary situations. Leaving, moving on, going “confidently in the direction of [my] dreams,” these things do not scare me. What would be scary would be not going, not trying, not fighting for the only thing I have ever really wanted in my entire life.

So, am I ready?

“Yes. I’m ready.”

Work Work Work

For the last few weeks, I have been working more than normal. As making and saving money is my number one prerogative at the moment, this probably comes as no big surprise. The issue, besides being exhausted, stressed, and having no time to anything else, is that I lack the drive to do any creative projects in my free time. When I get home all I can do is sleep and watch television. Not even television that requires any kind of major thought, mostly just episodes of shows I have already seen multiple times. Overwork is the death of creativity.

It is no secret that Americans are overworked. The statistics are astounding and the lack of government regulations in this country are pretty dismal especially when compared to those in other countries. Maximum hours worked per week, vacation time, paid holidays; these are not things we are finding in this country. Even Americans who have earned vacation time do not always take it. And since the economy tanked, things have only gotten progressively worse.

As a general rule, Americans value money above all else. The American dream is full of big houses, new cars, nice clothes, huge TVs, and any new-fangled technology that has come onto the market. They are spending above their means and very few seem to have any issue living off credit with an outrageous house payment, car payments and this is still the generation that is not completely inundated with student loans. The overwhelming desire for money has left us with a society full of people who are horribly in debt with no free time to enjoy either what they have been spending their money on or their lives in general.

Throughout the course of my life I have worked on various ends of the spectrum. I have gone through periods of time where I have spent roughly 60 hours of my week working and I have gone through periods of time where I have been totally and completely unemployed. Neither has been, for me anyway, much of a life. I, like many living in this country, have a handful of part time jobs rather that one full time job. Employers find part time employees a better situation because they are not required to pay benefits. Meaning, I have no job benefits. I pay for my own health insurance, I get no paid time off nor am I guaranteed time off. In fact, getting multiple employers to agree to the same few days to head out of town is quite a feat. When that does happen, I lose out on a decent amount of income. Periods of unemployment not only mean no income, which is difficult enough, but it means that I end up incredibly bored.

There is a balance. A good balance of work to life. I don’t believe it is the same for everyone, but everyone needs to find that balance. For me, working 60 hours a week does not work. Which I will be addressing with my employers here soon. I need time to myself, I need time to maintain myself, but I also need time to be creative. I need time to write. As an artist type, this is a fundamental part of my life. Without time to do these things, I cannot function as a person. Luckily, I will be designing again soon, which will pull double duty as both creativity and work. Unfortunately, the 60ish hours a week I am working right now are do not provide much in the way of creative outlets.

All this to say, sorry if the posting has been and continues to be a bit spotty for a while.

When A Star Dies Their Light Remains

In the last 48 hours, we lost some major Hollywood juggernauts. Throughout the course of my life many celebrities have died, but as I get older the faces on the screen seem to get progressively more familiar. Some have felt like great personal losses, more and more often, this seems to be the case. When talking about the death of Robin Williams with my father, he did not seem to understand why headlines stated that the “entire nation was mourning the loss.” It got me thinking about why the death of certain Hollywood star has such an affect on me personally, but also the country as a whole.

I am going to talk briefly about science. Now, if you know me you are probably aware that science is in fact the subject I know the absolute least about; however, here is what I understand about stars. When a star dies, they continue to produce light. The heat does not dissipate right away and therefore there is still light being produced. Also, from Earth, we continue to see the light that no longer exists because it takes time for the light to travel from the star to the Earth. This is not dissimilar to the stars of our world. When a star dies, the effect they have had on many of us remains. Future generations may still be affected by a star whose light is still being seen despite the fact that they are no longer living here with us.

My father may be a little too old, or his tastes in film and television lean toward whatever it is that he thinks qualifies as film and ESPN, to have fully appreciated all that Robin Williams has meant to so many people. As a child of the 90s I was profoundly impacted by so much of his work, but the film Hook in a way that people who were grown-up by that point cannot fully grasp, and children who grew up in the land of technology (subtext: lack imagination due to overexposure to instant gratification) will never fully understand. It is a film about a man, who has become so obsessed with work and the struggles of adulthood that he has lost all sense of childlike wonder. He has totally and completely forgotten that he was Peter Pan, the boy who wouldn’t grow up. The film stresses the importance of imagination and fun. An idea that I still cling to as I continue to resist adulthood. I can continue to list films and the impact they have had on me, but I don’t feel like anyone needs me to do that. My point is, not everyone understands why these people, this man who I have never met, could have affected me so much that I would mourn the loss of a complete stranger.

Think of how many hours you have spent with some of these people. I have spent more time with certain actors via the television than members of my own family. As someone who has wanted to work in the film industry for her entire life, the impact some actors, screen writers, directors, etc. have had on me has certainly been greater than many people I have met in real life. A vast majority of the people who have had major influences on my life are people that I have never actually met. The thing that I find most upsetting is that I have often dreamed of a day when I may finally meet them and talk to them, (in a perfect world work with them), but at the very least thank them. Thank them for teaching me the importance of an imagination in a world that seems hell-bent on taking away the need for one. Thank them for teaching me to go for what I want in life despite the fact the world will try everything in its power to keep me from it. Thank him for teaching me that laughter is the most important thing in the entire world and it does not have to come from a mean or spiteful place. That opportunity is now gone. And I mourn the loss.

In the last 48 hours, many of us have lost a hero. For anyone who does not feel the great and profound loss of this, I honestly feel sorry for you. I am sorry that you have missed out on all that this man has given us over the last several decades. I am sorry that you have missed out on the countless hours of laughter, but also on the amazing life lessons found in all of his work. I am sorry that you grew up and left behind all of your childlike wonder. But, as I have learned, it is never to late to find it once again. This star may have died, but his light remains.

Oh Captain! My Captain!

Stuff Happens

This post is strictly a notice to those of you who regularly read my blog or who have stumbled upon it and are wondering why there are some issues.

First off, to my regulars, sorry I did not post on Wednesday. This is one of those cases of life came up and writing Wednesday’s piece became a lesser priority.

In other news, I accidentally deleted a bunch of my images from previous posts. Some of them I still have and some of them I will need to find/recreate. So, it will take me some time to get many of those back online. Sorry. Super lame. Life.

I do have something ready for tomorrow. Probably will go up later in the day though. Hopefully by early next week I will be all caught up and back on a regular schedule with all of the images restored. If not, well, what can you do?

Thanks for the Memories: Part II

Ok, here is the report on my 10 Year High School Reunion. It was fantastic. There were people there that I really loved spending every day with while we were in school, some of which I have not seen since the All-Knighter (our school’s post-graduation lock-in). Most of the students from my graduating class, did in fact go to college together. I went away and lost touch with a lot of these people. It was really great to see how people have grown up over the last ten years and how they have not.

Expectations vs. Reality: I am not going to pretend there was not still a bit of cattiness that ten years did nothing to heal. My high school nemesis and I are still nemeses, though, I am not sure I would actually want that to change. I have had other rivals over the years, but she was my first and that is special. There was a clear winner at this year’s reunion. I am sure everyone who was there would agree on who that is. This person blew everyone else out of the water and they knew it. We all knew who it would be going in, we are all aware of it now. And it could not have happened to a better person. I am not sure I would say there was a clear loser. There were a lot of people who are still struggling in one area of their lives or another. Lame jobs, no jobs, living in a crummy city, living with their parents, things like that. Ten years is not really enough time to get it all together. We are all still trying to figure it out.

It was great to reconnect with some of these people. There are a few old friends that I reconnected with that I may, really and truly, stay in touch with this time around. There are a few people that I reconnected with that I will not speak to until the 20 year reunion, if then. Which, makes me a little sad. There were a few people there that I really miss having in my life, but there is not really a place for them. There are a few people that I may do a better job of keeping up with, but we will never have the kind of relationship we once did. There are also a few people that it does not matter one bit. We may see each other only once a decade from here on out, but it will be as though no time has passed at all.

A lot has changed in the last 10 years, but a lot hasn’t. And I like it that way. Being surrounded by a group of people who are exactly your age, who were raised in the same community as you can be a really helpful gauge. Seeing these people made me realize that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I am not falling behind my peers with concern to my life goals. I didn’t show up as the only person who was still working on becoming a real life adult. I was on par with everyone else.

Going into this reunion, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. There were people there I did not expect to see, which was awesome. There were people who did not show up that I really wish would have been there. Maybe next time. For those of you who are on the fence about going to your reunion, I highly recommend it. Time sometimes will leave us with only the bad memories or certain periods of life. I think that spending a few hours with people from your past may help remind you of all the good times that were had. Granted, if you really hated every second of high school, you may want to skip it. The Queen Bee is still the Queen Bee with her worker bees trailing behind her. The football players are still the football players making dirty jokes and high-fiving one another. The smart kids are still smarter than you, many of which will be huddled in a corner calling each other doctor for the whole of the evening giggling. And me, in the middle of it all, being perfectly happy where I am.

Thanks for the Memories: Part I

10 Years

July has been quite a trip down memory lane. I have been traveling quite a bit and on these trips I have seen a lot of friends from past lives. Last weekend, one of my very best friends from high school got married and our little group of four was all together for the first time in several years. And, to cap it all off, my 10 year high school reunion is Saturday. This post is to serve as kind of a before and after for our reunion. I honestly have no idea what to expect. I do not know who will be showing up and who will pass on the event. I have not really kept up with most of my graduating class save for a handful of friends who have kept in touch and random run-ins over the past 10 years. I am not on Facebook, so that adds an element of surprise that most people will not experience.

Here is what I remember from high school. I don’t really feel like our class was particularly “clique-y”. I know there are surely people who disagree, but I never felt particularly persecuted. I was not what anyone would call popular and, honestly, I am not sure how well liked I was. I was a drama kid, choir kid, honors student. My number one goal was getting into college out of state, but not enough to waste all of my time studying. I was an A-student for the most part, but got a few B’s here and there in classes that required more attention than I was willing to give.

What you need to know going into this week with me is that I LOVED high school. I went to every football game with my face decked out in gold glitter. I was in every school play. I got to school every morning about an hour before classes started and stayed hours after everyday for extracurricular activities. My senior year, I was the president of the Drama Club, a member of two choirs, French Club, National Honors Society, Volunteer Knights. Yes, I was one of those kids.

I loved high school, and then I left my hometown as soon as I possibly could and never looked back. Come Saturday, we shall see how I feel about high school now. An evening of reminiscing with people that I wish I had kept up with, with people I forgot about, with people I didn’t know I missed, and with people that I hoped I would never have to see again. I truly have no idea what to expect. I am nervous and excited.

I do know that no matter what happens, the person who was by my side every second of every day during high school (and middle school and elementary school), will be by my side once again on Saturday. So whatever we have to face, we will face together. Best Friends Forever.

30 Is the New Black

I am still twenty-something, but I am closer to thirty now than I ever have been. And to be clear, that is very close. When I starting researching the topic of turning 30, I came across a TEDTalk that has sparked a great deal of conversation. It is called “Why 30 Is Not the New 20” given by the Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Twenty-Somethings, Dr. Meg Jay. In the talk, she wants to convey to twenty-somethings that this decade of you life totally counts. It is not a time for waiting for your life to begin, it is a major developmental period. I read a number of follow up articles all talking about the twenty-somethings of today (considered a part of the Millennial Generation, ugh.) and how we are selfish and lazy and have nothing to show for our lives.

Do you want to know what a person approaching 30 really needs to hear? That they have nothing to show for themselves. As though this was not a difficult enough time.

Reading all of these articles about twenty-somethings and turning thirty made me much angrier than I expected. First off, I am totally pissed that I am considered a part of the Millennial Generation. I refuse to accept this as I hate those kids as much as everyone else does. I am aware that I am not quite a GenXer, but I am not a Millennial either. This is a whole other topic that I will address in a future post as I am a little to heated to write about it now.

I am also irritated about how flippant people seem to be about us twenty-somethings. Yes, many of us are currently living back at home with our parents. Let’s not pretend for a second that this is an awesome set up and I am loving it. I am not Will Farrell’s character in Wedding Crashers. I hate it, but it is the rational responsible choice for me right now. I am trying to save up money, pay off my debt and keep a decent amount in savings. I, like many in my generation, am drowning in student loans; because, none of us were prepared for this amount of debt the day we graduated from college and entered the real world. Especially when it all went a little like this:

“Congratulations, here’s you diploma, better go get a job. Oh yeah, and here is the bill for the tens of thousands of dollars you owe us, don’t worry, you can pay this back over the next thirty years. One more thing, turns out we destroyed the economy while you were away at school, so… best of luck. P.S. We are also cleaning out Social Security, so there will be nothing left when you retire.”

Screw you, Baby Boomers. Screw you.

I am in my late twenties. I have by no means “made it” and I will not have everything I want out of life by the time I am thirty. I will not have much that I want out of life by the time I am thirty. I will have an education, which I spent exactly half of my twenties working on. I will have the beginnings of a career in a field I am deeply passionate about, which is what I spent (most of) the other half on. I will also have gone through some serious rough patches that momentarily derailed me. I will have known what it means to not be able to pay my rent, to have bills piling up and no money to pay them. I will know how to find odd jobs quickly to scrounge the money I need to make through a month. And how to ask for help (yes, from my wonderful parents) when I really need it. I will have known what it takes to pull myself out of serious financial debt. I will have known what it means to be clinically depressed and what it takes to come out on the other side. I will have had a series of relationships great and small and have a better idea of what I am actually looking for in a permanent partner. I will be on my way to having a career that I will love, not a job that I hate. Though I will certainly know what it is to have a job(s) that I hate.

If you are looking at my tax returns, it probably looks like I am one of those twenty-something slacker kids who can’t seem to get her life together. I do not have much to show for my twenties, but that is because what I have accomplished in my twenties is not necessarily quantifiable. You call us the slacker generation. Just wait. I may be sitting here in my bedroom in my parent’s house, working multiple jobs, none of which are in my field, but I am coming. I am not lazy, I am plotting my next move. I haven’t gone after what I want because I have seen people try and fail and I will not make those same mistakes (lack of preparation and financing being the primary issues). I know exactly what I want and I know exactly how to get it.

Turning thirty sounded scary before I started researching for this piece. I, too, felt I had nothing to show for my twenties. What I have learned is that I do not need to prove myself to the previous generations. I don’t want to accomplish what they have accomplished because what the hell have they accomplished? If you have everything you ever wanted by the time you are thirty, 1. What are you going to do for the remaining 2/3 of your lives? and 2. You can’t have wanted all that much out of life if you were able to get it all in ONE DECADE. Do you want to know what the previous generations have accomplished? They have destroyed our economy. They have destroyed our environment. And now they are trying to make us look like the bad guys? No worries, you all feel free to retire, soak up the rest of Social Security, and we will clean up the mess you left for us.

I may have nothing to show for the past ten years of my life (other than my multiple degrees), but check back in ten years. Thirty is not scary because that is when the hard work will start to pay off. That is when people will finally see what we are capable of. That is when the previous generations will see what we have been up to for the last ten years.

To see the TEDTalk:

To read some more on the topic:

NPR: TED Radio Hour: The Next Greatest Generation Hosted by Guy Raz

New York Times: What Is It About 20-Somethings? by By Robin Marantz Henig

Toronto Star: Why 30 Is the New 20 by Sarah Barmak

Huffington Post: I’m 30… Now What? by Andrew Cristi

AskMen: Turning 30 by Peter Hoare