Last Thursday, I came home to find the front door open – and our house ransacked.
It was not a good feeling, and over the last few days I’ve come to realize a number of things from this experience.
Things are just that: things. They can be replaced. It may be a pain in the ass to replace a laptop and external hard drive with 6 years worth of music, photos, writing, web design and more – but the laptop and external hard drives can be replaced.
What can’t be replaced: our cats, and our sense of safety.
Bits went missing for about an hour which was terrifying, and basically my worst nightmare come true. Thankfully she was just hiding somewhere in the house really well, and Travis, me, Peanut and Bits are all safe.
This weekend we adopted a super sweet Pit Bull who we have named Pickles. She is incredibly adorable, loving and the perfect addition to our family.
I am hoping to come back and blog more frequently, but I’m not so sure – so, we’ll see.
Over the course of the last two years, I’ve struggled a bit. I felt stuck in some parts of my life, and frankly, I didn’t know exactly how to fix it. Everyone has challenges and difficulties. For some time, I allowed the things that were difficult to push me down, make me angry, and sad, and begin to turn me into a person I neither recognized, nor liked. This is not to say I was always angry or sad, but there were things in my life that made me unhappy and, so, I set out to change them.
I have long been a believer in the idea that there are very few things you do not have the power to change. If you do not like where you live, move. If you do not like your job, find a new one. This doesn’t mean those things are easy, or will happen the moment one decides to change. That was, perhaps one of my challenges. Realizing, and understanding, and accepting that change can take time. More time than you’d like, and more time than you think you’re willing to give.
This week is my last at my current job. In February, Travis and I bought a house, and on April 1st, my mom will undergo surgery to remove a tumor from her soft palate. I would say, wholeheartedly, after the last few months, I can agree with the expression “when it rains, it pours.”
The good news, is all of these things are forward momentum, they are things that can and will continue to move ahead and change and grow. I will be going home next week to be with my mom as she undergoes her surgery, and then I start a new job I am immensely excited about. It’s been kind of a long time since I was as excited about something work related, so I will take all of this – the good, the bad, in my stride and keep aiming my arrow where I want it to go – onward.
Travis bought a house and we moved in on March 1st. We were both miserably sick, and it was pouring down rain, but we got it done. I was out of work for a full week with an Upper Respiratory Infection that has now settled itself into a lovely and unwelcome sinus infection.
And, I accepted a new job. I’ll stay within the organization, but I’ll be at a different location with a brand new job involving fundraising, communications and corporate and community outreach. This job kind of fell into my lap and I am thrilled and excited by the opportunity and challenge. I don’t officially begin until April 7th but I’m pretty happy.
So, lots and lots of changes. Because I’ve been so sick for so long (going on day 12 now) I haven’t been able to workout, or dance, or do much of anything but snuggle with the cats, try to read, and watch TV on my laptop.
One of the things I’m really looking forward to in the next few weeks is putting a focus back on my work/life balance, and reassessing my goals to:
1) Finish my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work
2) Dance more
3) Read and write more
4) Generally be happier and more engaged in life
I truly believe I’ve found a great environment to help work on those things, and am excited about all the new challenges and opportunities coming my way.
It is bittersweet though, because I will absolutely miss my coworkers, the families I work with, and the programs I’ve spent so long building. One thing that really stuck out at me last year when I met with our big boss, was I can’t allow my fear of failure to control my life choices. I need to trust my gut, and take a leap and keep growing and learning. I’ve gotten very comfortable where I am, and not always particularly healthy or happy, and I think all of these big things happening are a sign that I’m on the right path.
Change is good.
I’m beginning to think I need to re-name this blog, because lately there has been neither jigging, nor jogging. Truthfully, even though I work in a gym, getting myself to actually work out has been rough. I’m signed up for a half marathon with two co-workers in April, and I have accomplished no more than 3 miles. So. You know, not feeling so prepared.
So, what have I been doing?
Working. Reading. Sleeping. Snuggling with my cats. Thinking about writing. Starting to write, then stopping. Thinking some more about writing. More reading, and sleeping.
The truth is, last year was kind of rough. Travis was traveling for work a lot, as in, he was gone about 6 months of the year. My work life was fraught with disappointment, and struggle, and felt for a long time, like it was probably going to either kill me or I would be fired.
Having come through it, not completely unscathed, I can look back on a good part of the year and feel like I have at least learned a few things.
1. Failure isn’t always what it appears.
- This is probably the biggest, and it’s something I’ve learned over and over again in life, but this time in a professional capacity.
Sometimes, failure is simply a way for the universe to say “HEY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! DO YOU EVEN LIKE THIS, ARE YOU EVEN HAPPY?!” – and for you to take a step back and say “oh. Hey, Univers, actually, I’m kinda miserable…what am I gonna do about it?”
2. It’s alright to ask for help.
- Second biggest, for sure if for no other reason than I need to constantly remind myself that I don’t need to be a hero, and asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of maturity. I can not always do everything all the time, and that’s ok. I am a person who says YES to pretty much everything, all the time. I need to be better at asking all those people I say yes to, for help when I need it.
-This also goes for dealing with depression. I am only human, and asking for help from my doctor does not mean I am weak or a failure of a human being. It means the chemicals in my brain are fucked up sometimes and need some nudging.
3. It’s ok to say NO.
-This is something I still struggle with because I legitimately enjoy helping people, and want to be helpful all the time. Turns out, never saying no only makes me super tired and burned out. This is also big in understanding when I need to tell my bosses, “hey, so, working multiple 12+ hour days per week, and working all weekend isn’t going to work for me. I need time to recharge.”
What have you learned over the last year?
2013 was supposed to be my grand return to running. I signed up again with Team in Training with the plan of conquering the Nike Women’s Marathon (while not gimpy) and helping to find a cure for blood cancers.
My IT band had other plans. Namely, that it is still being a pain in my ass/knee. So, while I didn’t complete a full marathon this year,I did walk the half course of Nike.
My greatest moment this year was while I was running/walking Nike, I saw the coach who helped me get through the full marathon two years before. I got to stop and thank her, in person for not only ensuring I crossed that first full marathon finish line, but also for inspiring me to join Team in Training.
So, sadly, very little actual running and/or fitness for me this year. I should have gotten in the pool more. I should have done more of my strength training.
No use crying over spilled milk, right?
I set myself a goal, on GoodReads.com to read 75 books this year. This year especially, I’ve read a ton of YA Lit. However, I’ve also managed to squeeze in some literary fiction, aka, non-YA Lit. Below is a list of the books I read that did not fall into the YA Lit category. I wrote reviews of Silver Linings Playbook and Where’d You Go Bernadette, but haven’t actually reviewed any of the others. However, I would definitely recommend some of my favorites, Life After Life, The Book Thief, and Reconstructing Amelia.
Orange is the New Black – Piper Kerman
We Are Water – Wally Lamb
Life After Life – Kate Atkinson
Things We Set On Fire – Deborah Reed
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
The Book Thief- Markus Zusak
Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight
Orphan Train – Christina Baker Kline
The Sisterhood – Helen Bryan
Defending Jacob – William Landay
The Light Between Oceans – M.L. Stedman
Where’d You Go Bernadette? – Maria Semple
Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
Raising Financially Fit Kids – Joline Godfrey
The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
What did you read this year, and what were your favorite books?
As the year comes to a close, I find myself looking back in order to look forward. I’d like to spend more time at the end of this year really thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in the next year, three years, five years. In order to do this, I also would like to take stock of what I’ve accomplished (or not) this year. Hence, my 2013 In Review Series.
I’ll be focusing on a number of areas in my life in each entry in the hopes that by the time I get to the end of December I’ll have a game plan for 2014 and beyond.
This week I attended a staff retreat where I took part in a workshop titled, “My Plate’s Already Full!” I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, although the description talked a bit about finding a work/life balance which appealed to me. One of the biggest things I took away from this workshop was that we can live our lives by a compass, or allow the clock to control us. This means, I can choose how to use my time, so that it doesn’t control me.
So often, what happens is I feel like I simply don’t have enough time to accomplish everything I’d like to accomplish. One of the quotes in the presentation was:
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
― H. Jackson Brown Jr.
When I first read this, I felt kind of flippant about it. Of course I have the same amount of time each day as those people, but they were extraordinary. The truth is, while they all accomplished extraordinary things, and certainly lead inspiring lives, everyone gets 24 hours each day. We each get to choose how we spend those hours.
While I’m being honest with myself, I waste a lot of time every day. Some of it is wasted sleeping in, some of it is wasted surfing the internet, some of it is wasted watching television, or reading. I’m not saying all of those things are completely without value, and doing things I enjoy like sleeping in, or watching television, isn’t ALWAYS a waste of time. But, when I find myself whining (usually internally) that I simply don’t have the time or energy to run, or workout, or write every day, or be more social, I need to remind myself that all of life is a balance of choices.
Yes, I could sleep in, or I could go to bed an hour earlier, and wake up an hour earlier and get in a workout. I know I’ll actually end up feeling better about it once it’s done, but peeling myself out of bed feels insurmountable. I could watch an hour of television, or I could read more and possibly reach my goal of reading 75 books this year. Currently, I’m six books behind schedule. I could spend hours surfing the internet, or I could spend some of that time sitting down and writing.
One of my goals for next year is going to be planning and spending my time more productively. I will spend some solid time thinking about my big time goals (passing the last section of the TCRG exam, actually participating in NaNoWrimo, reading 100 books, taking the English section of the CLEP test so I’ll have junior standing at school) and of course other things yet to be determined. Then, I’ll spend some time thinking about the ways I can budget my time to ensure I’m always working toward those goals. Another take away from the workshop was that – asking yourself the question when you feel like you haven’t got enough time, “is what I’m doing in line with helping me reach my goals?” Obviously, not everything I do will be a forward momentum event, but when I find myself feeling overwhelmed, or crunched for time, revisiting that question can help keep me focused on the big picture.
What are you thinking about as we get closer to the new year?
This is what I’m currently listening to when I run
Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams) – Daft Punk
Next to Me – Emeli Sande
Mirrors – Justin Timberlake
Get the Girl Back – Hanson
Closer – Tegan and Sara
Love on Top – Beyonce
Not Over You – Gavin DeGraw
Shake it Out – Florence + The Machine
40 Day Dream – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes
Caught Up In You – .38 Special
We Used to Wait – Arcade Fire
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Brave – Sara Bareilles
Soldier – Gavin DeGraw
Kiss With a Fist- Florence + The Machine
You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall and Oates
Running on Empty – Jackson Browne
The Underdog – Spoon
Without You – David Guetta
Every Word I Say – Hanson
Anna Molly – Incubus
Try – P!nk
Strawberry Swing – Coldplay
Ours- The Bravery
Fader – The Temper Trap
Do Wah Doo- Kate Nash
Fired Up – Hanson
Already Home- Hanson
Lost Without You – Hanson
Right Now- Van Halen
Heat of the Moment- Asia
Your Love – The Outfield
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
Single Ladies – Beyonce
Galvanize- Chemical Brothers
Lovers in Japan/ Reign Of Love – Coldplay
Read My Mind – The Killers
Untouched – The Veronicas
Bulletproof- La Roux
Wolf Like Me – TV on the Radio
Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough – Michael Jackson
Canned Heat – Jamiroquai
Four Minutes – Madonna (feat. Justin Timberlake)
Novia Scotia Set – Riverdance
Tenderness – General Public
Lost Without Each Other – Hanson
Dog Days are Over – Florence + The Machine
One Thing – One Direction
Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
Live While We’re Young – One Direction
Kiss You – One Direction
I Want to Break Free- Queen
Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
Hemmorage – Fuel
Bad Day- Fuel
Shimmer – Fuel
Heartbreaker (Rolling Stones Cover) – Fuel
Paint i Black – The Rolling Stones
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – The Rolling Stones
Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
Shoot to Thrill – AC/DC