Friday, May 31, 2013

A note from the good side

Well friends, today everything changed. I mean, maybe yesterday everything changed. But come on. Three days ago (was it three?) I was an anxious, nervous, full-of-failure, scared-to-death, angry, defeated, upset, wrecked case of a human being. And with the help of a few key people and - get this - my own strength, I pulled out of it and feel better than ever. I have new energy, new determination, new ideas and new dedication to get myself out of the pickle I am in and into a new where I am living in the place I want to live, with the man I want to be with, spending time with the people who matter, and doing the job I want that I know I'll be amazing at someday.

This girl, the one I was tonight, the confident, fun-loving, positive, vibrant, happy girl who just chop-sticked a whole heap of fiery Chinese food into her mouth because it was amazing and nothing to be afraid of in moderation...that's the girl I want to be. I want to be her everyday.

I know that life is full of ups and downs, but what I know is that there are going to be BIG ups and BIG downs, and if I'm not equipped to handle the little ones with grace and serenity, then how will I be able to take on life's big challenges with any semblance of adult presence of mind? It's a good question, and one that I have been asking myself for the past couple of years as I have dealt more intimately with this anxiety on a more regular basis.

Life's really big changes - like having a kid - can't happen until I am firmly in a place where I can handle myself each and every single day without fail. I am not doubting that I will still have bad days and better days and great days, but the bad days can not be as debilitating as they are now. What matters though is that I am happy today.

I feel like through all that's been going on, all the anxiety I've been feeling, all of the extra work I've put in and things I've had to try to figure out, it's all brought me to today. And today is a good day. Thanks goodness for that.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

When You Take a Risk

Four years ago today, I started my job at a new company in Philadelphia. I had just moved to the area from my parents' house in Queensbury and was on my own for the first time since college, living in a new place, knowing barely anyone, with no clear idea what I was going to be doing or even how to survive successfully in the real world. I was barely 25, eager to employ my skills from college but I wasn't altogether sure what those were. I knew I was smart, but I didn't know just how to apply myself. I took a chance coming here, starting this new job, venturing out into the world. I took a chance, but it turned out to be a good one.

The company, back then, was called FD kinesis. We were a small marketing firm that had been acquired by a larger parent company, but the spirit of Kinesis Marketing still held strong. The five founders, all with unique personalities and charm, all had their specialties and had hired people to manage accounts and run different facets of the business. It was interesting to me to learn everyone's style and skills. I loved the days when we would all gather for a meeting or a party in New Jersey or Philadelphia, and I'd get to mingle with my colleagues from Morristown and New York. I felt so cosmopolitan, walking down to Old City for happy hours where mussels were served. I had never even had a mussel before I set foot in Philly. My eyes were being opened up to new parts of the world.

My job came with challenges. I had work and lots of it. And instead of answering to a boss, or several layers of bosses when work was piling up, I was answering directly to clients. These were very demanding clients, many of them, who all wanted things the next day or the same day, all at once, none of them knowing about the others. At my previous job, I had learned to manage my time in chunks, going methodically, quickly and accurately through monotonous work. But now, I was trying to get a grasp on new work, learn how to do it, communicate and build relationships with dozens of clients, attend meetings, as well as turn things around quickly and accurately. It was a lot to handle. I once reached out to my coworker across the room over IM, asking "What do you do when everyone wants things from you at once?" He suggested saying no. I hadn't even considered it.

Over time, I learned to temper my feelings of stress and manage my time and the clients. I found I enjoyed balancing all the different moving parts. I got good at it. I may have gotten too good at it. Because somewhere down the line, I got bored. My boss had changed a few times since I had come to the company, first FD kinesis, then FD, now FTI Consulting. And the latest boss suggested I take a look around me at what others were doing. Look into new avenues at the company. Talk to the people around me and find something I could be interested in pursuing as well or instead as a next career move.

I looked into information architecture, HTML, social media and then...I found writing. The creative team at FTI is pretty robust, but full of mostly designers. There are two writers, one of them a managing director, who when I expressed interest - excitement, delight, ecstatic joy - welcomed me with open arms. It had been almost three and a half years since I began my journey at FTI, but I finally felt like I found the reason I'm here. I had spent the past years building my skills, my confidence and my finesse with clients and colleagues and now was my chance to shine.

It's been over six months since I was welcomed by the creative team. I still do the job I was hired to do four years ago. But I am taking steps in a new direction. I'm writing each and every day, honing my editing skills, my eye for detail and my ear my voice and tone. I feel like I've learned so much even in the short time I've been doing this. It makes me wonder what I could learn in a year. Or three years.

My time in Philadelphia and at FTI has only been a small part of my life so far, and I've got a long way to go. But what I've learned since I began here four years ago has amounted to the great things that can be achieved when you take risks and work hard. Don't ever be afraid of the unknown. It's where your future is waiting.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Believe in Boston

The bombings in Boston that happened yesterday made me ache for all of the people affected and all of the people in Boston who were scared for their lives and their city. It made me wish they were safe and long for a time when the scariest thing to happen on Boylston Street was a thong slipping down in the gay pride parade.

It was incredible to see all of the love and support on my facebook feed from all of the friends who live near or around Boston and were checking in and confirming that they or their family members were safe, or ones that lived no where near Boston and were just saying that they were standing with the people of Boston. It was truly wonderful to see everyone come together. I posted a picture that Josie had shared of Mr. Rogers, with a caption that said something like, "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

And in Boston yesterday, there were good people going to help. The medical tents that were set up for the runners now were helping explosion victims. The police were clearing spectators away, and keeping everyone calm. Runners themselves were rushing to nearby hospitals to donate blood for the victims that had suffered massive injuries. It truly showed that people come together in an emergency and can do the right thing.

But to have to get to that, it's just painful and sickening that it did. I hope that the media attention and press that this attack is getting is not enough to make some other lunatic want to top this atrocity with his or her own massacre. One of my facebook friends posted yesterday about how we need to drastically increase the mental health facilities and care in this country instead of enacting laws to prevent violence. I am for preventing violence through gun control, but I thought she was absolutely right about the mental health services. People aren't getting the care they need and are already off the deep end, sinking lower and lower into psychosis, to a place where they feel they need to reach out by killing or blowing up public places.

It's depressing that it comes to that for some individuals, but it's a fact of life, so it's something we as a country need to handle. We can't ignore that aspect of the problem any longer. These people aren't committing these heinous crimes because they have evil inside of them. They are unstable and unwell. And they need help. If we can get people like them help before something terrible happens, then we may be able to prevent the next Sandy Hook or Boston Marathon.

I just wish that I could somehow invoke all of my good memories of Marathon Monday in Boston, all of everyone's good memories of the day, from the years and years it's been going on, the cheering, the laughter, the sunshine, the good fellowship that existed all around the city that day...I wish I could harness all of those good feelings and project them back on yesterday and just erase what happened.

I think instead, I will look to keep Boston safe in my heart. Preserve my memories as sacred things that I can treasure for my lifetime, that will remain unmarred in my past. And hopefully, by the time, we get to next year, Boston will come back bigger and better than ever, ready to take on the world and ready to say, "We aren't going anywhere."

Sunday, April 7, 2013

How I Want to Love

I want to love with my whole heart. Not the pieces that are easily accessible or guarded or dispensable. I want to love with a completeness that comes from all of me.

I want to love, not change. I want to grow in love, not bend it to my will. I want it to shape me as much as I shape it.

I do not want to bring my prejudices into love. I want to love with acceptance. I want to love in a way that brings peace and security, not questions and self doubt.

I want to love brightly and with energy. I want to love actively, forever curious, forever reaching out my hand for more. To help more, to comfort more, to be kind, to hold another hand in mine. I want to love in the time I am awake, so I can take my love to dream.

I want to love softly and gently. I want to love with a calm voice. I want to love sweetly, but never with saccharin or sarcasm. Because my love is genuine and I want its true light to shine through.

I want to love with deep passion. I want to share beliefs about the world and hold them to be true with each step I take. I want to love all creatures equally and never know what it is like to harm another.

I want to love my family, my friends, my peers. I want to love myself. I want to love all of the things we are together and all of the things we can be on our own.

I want to love you as you want to be loved. No more, or no less, with just the right brushstrokes, using just the rights colors, to paint a picture of the love we've shared through many years. So we can look back someday and remember that every day, in love, we were blessed.

That is how I want to love.

Monday, April 1, 2013

On Restructuring

With change, always comes a little pain. Even with change for the better, there are always questions and uncertainty and upsets within the system. Recently at work, we've been going through what has been called a time of restructuring. I've had many interesting conversations with people in different parts of the company to get their take on what this means, and really, from all angles, I get a resounding answer of "we don't know yet." This "yet" tacked on gives it a sense of temporary being, that we don't know what exactly the future will be, but we'll get there together, and once we're there, we'll know!

It's tough to be at a company for a long period of time and be completely content. Especially a company that has gone through as many changes as mine has. It was acquired back in 2008 when it was a small marketing firm, and has since grown and changed and evolved into the creative arm of a very large, very robust consulting company that seems to want it to do one thing, when it clearly wants to do quite another. Some people seem on board with the changes, but these people appear to be already doing the work that aligns with what the new structure needs most.

I hesitate to say which side of the fence I'm on because of a few things. I have a job. I have a secure job, serving two clients, in two different capacities. One of these is a writing job, which I'm very happy with, and my job isn't going anywhere anytime soon. I am lucky and grateful to have my job. The second thing is that I have the opportunity for growth. I don't know how or when the next bout of growth will happen, but it's happened already in the past year by leaps and bounds, and I can only see myself continuing to grow and develop here as time goes on. Lastly, I work with some of the best people I know. And I have no doubt that I will be taken care of no matter what happens.

So, let's restructure. Let's see where it takes us. To infinity and beyond. I'm ready to ride this thing out for the next year and see where we all end up.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March Fitness Update

March was an interesting month for me. It was full of travel - both for pleasure and for business. One thing I did differently was try to measure my workouts in minutes spent working out, not in times gone to the gym, because I was getting caught up in how many workouts I'd accomplished for the week and trying to get in multiple workouts a day. Longer, more rigorous workouts weren't counting for more, they were counting the same as a 20 minute stint on the elliptical. So I changed my way of thinking.

I haven't crunched the numbers yet, but I think with all of my travel, all of our plans every weekend, getting sick on my way back from San Francisco, and staying sick for over two weeks, I didn't get as many minutes (or workouts) in as I wanted to. I'm not ashamed or upset at myself for this, because I stayed on track with my weight for March, no gains, no losses, just maintaining at 197. I think if you're eating amazing food and not killing yourself at the gym, that should be the ultimate goal, right? To stay right where you are?

I did a pretty good job about not talking about my weight or size this past month, but you'll have to ask Dylan for specifics. Toward the end of the month, I started planning for a weight loss challenge with yelp. Check it out! I'm excited for the challenge, but it means really getting down to business for the next six weeks. Hopefully, by the time my April update rolls around, I'll have some real news to report in terms of weight loss! My goal for the six weeks is 12 pounds, which would mean I'd be down to 187. I don't know if that could actually happen, but I'm gunning for it.

For April, I want to lose the first five pounds (hey, the same five I wanted to lose last month!) of my challenge goal and get down to 192. I want to make my goal again to get 150 minutes of exercise a week. And I want to continue to find new and different ways to eat healthily- right now that means a giant tub of fresh strawberries and a tall glass of water for my after work snack. And hopefully, a run later on tonight!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Day in New York

Just a disclaimer to this post. I have been traveling a lot this month, and keep confusing things that have happened here, with things that have happened elsewhere. It's been a lot of fun, and a whirlwind journey, but as I say at the bottom, I'm ready to settle in for a while and have some home time. Read on for our adventure yesterday.

Holy moly, what a day yesterday. We ran our errands around 10 (got gas, picked up my birth control prescription, went to Dylan's bank, hit up Bruegger's for breakfast, picked up my coat from the cleaner's) and then hit the road. We drove pretty steadily for about an hour and a half and then hit crazy traffic heading into Jersey City. It was a bunch of lane of traffic all merging into one lane, which was tough and took a lot of time. When we got to Anya and Jeff's they said the traffic was probably from the Holland Tunnel, but we didn't even experience that, it was just the crazy merging from the construction!

We drove into Jersey City, which was bigger than we expected, and found parking right away. We headed up to their apartment which was in one of those big old converted warehouses, and the apartment was beautiful!!! They had high ceilings and gorgeous, open space and lots of cool Ikea furniture and cute decor. Even their bedroom was well laid out and spacious. Their kitchen had spices and baking supplies all laid out in containers with labels and I started getting all sorts of ideas for our house someday!

We spent some time chatting with Anya, Jeff, Mark and Jenny and getting to know the place and their dog, Catherine Zeta Jones, the corgie! (Dylan got along with her marvelously!) And then, we all decided to go down the street for some brunch! We headed to a place called Skinner's Loft and Cove where there was a little wait and not much place to wait in, but we ended up sitting down sooner than expected and getting a nice table in the back. Since Dylan and I had already eaten that morning, we only ordered one meal to split, the cornflake crusted French toast, that was stuffed with a berry cream cheese filling, and just to die for! I also got a yummy apple beer that tasted great and was really refreshing. It'd be a great summer beer, drank on a patio in the sweltering heat!

We sat and talked and ate for over an hour and then got on our way to meet Megan in the city. So, we made our way to the Path train just a few blocks over in Jersey City and got a Metro Pass, with about twenty dollars on it for the train and subway and waited for the train. Something about Jersey City makes it so windy and of course, being March it was still freezing cold out, somehow underground too! We hopped on the train, and I was surprised that it only took us two stops to get to the World Trade Center in New York! We walked a bit to the subway, and then got on going toward Grand Central Station to meet Megan getting off of her train.

We had a big, group-hug-filled and photo-tastic reunion and all talked for a few minutes, then made our way to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in the East Village. I got Dylan a Monday Sundae cone, which was chocolate-nutella-caramel-salt-twist ice cream, just what he'd wanted, and I got a key lime ice cream sundae, which was right up my alley. We made a couple of pit stops along the way for Mark to pick up some coffee, since he is an aficionado, and then we kept on to our next destination, a trendy little speakeasy called Death & Co. Inside it was dim, lit only with candles and small lights. The cocktails, all of the ones at the table I tried of course, were incredible, and Dylan and I each got a craft beer. Most of the fun of hanging out in the city with my friends is not the trying new places or getting to experience the great food and drainks (though that is a great bonus), but it is the time we spend together and the laughs we have. Not to mention the plans we make for the future, like visiting Megan for her 30th birthday this year, hanging out at Andi's graduation party and getting together in Chicago for Jenny's 30th!

We hung out for a bit longer and then realized we only had a bit longer before Jeff had to get back to Zeta to let her out and Dylan and I had to get back to the car to get on the road. So we headed over to Zab Elee, a cute little Northern Thai restaurant, with an entire menu of things I had never heard of. I got fried beef with chili sauce and some crispy pork with Thai eggplant in curry with sticky rice. I wasn't sure about any of it, 100%, but it was all edible, and I definitely enjoyed my last meal with my friends that day.

Dylan and Jeff and I bid the others folks a fond farewell and headed back to Jersey City, where Jeff sent us on our way and we drove back to Philly. A couple hours later (with no traffic!), we were pulling into my driveway, exhausted, but happy after our 14 hour day of fun going to and from the city to see our friends. It's always an adventure these days, but I think I'm ready to spend some time at home and get my house clean and work out, and eat healthy food and stop spending so much money. Not that I would trade these adventures for anything in the world, but it's about damn time I settled down for a bit. And that's just what I'm about ready to do today.