The Adult Card

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Dear Life, I need a break. Adulting is a 24/7/365 type of job. There are no breaks or reprieves. When you’ve been adulting as long as I have, eventually you hit a breaking point. Mine was about two hours ago. Not one thing I needed to go right has in the last week. And most of it is out of my control. As an adult, I know that I can’t change it. But honestly I’d really like to bury my head in my pillow and not get up for two weeks.

Unfortunately, that’s not an option. I don’t have the luxury of taking breaks. I don’t necessarily feel overwhelmed by what’s on my plate. I like most of the stuff on my plate. It’s just the way it’s being served. There’s not enough time for everything to get the attention it needs. There’s not enough money to really make life easier.

Instead there is just the churn of life. The routine of doing all the things you need to do every day to keep your official adult card. Go to work. Pay bills. Buy groceries. Deal with intolerable people. This is what being an adult is. Of course, some of us do it better than others.

Errors have been made that have impacted me negatively in the last week. I’d gladly blame myself, but I’m not the culprit. Lucky for me, those responsible aren’t accountable. So it’s up to me to show up, flash my adult card and turn on my I’m not taking any shit voice. This voice is usually reserved for AT&T, United Healthcare, the HOA, numerous other organizations that I am forced to do business with and occasionally my husband.

I imagine that he can see it in my eyes when I’m about to lose it. Yet, he never does. You know when you get so mad and frustrated that you are literally steaming. Yeah, that’s me right now just waiting for him to get home so I can spew. I’ll reiterate he’s done nothing wrong; my fire breathing is not directed at him. But he’s my person that gets to hear all of it. He signed up for this. I never hid that I was holding on by a thread.

The thread may have broken. It does every so often. Then I have to work real hard at returning to human form and rethreading the needle of my sanity. If any of this sounds shocking then good for you and your commitment to being sunshiny. I just can’t do it. If you asked me right now, “How are you?” I think it would be physically impossible for me to say, “well” or “fine” or any other normal response.

So what do I do when I’m under water and cannot adult any more. I write in the hope that it will make me feel better or at least just get it out of my head. Sometimes just writing words can dampen the fire. Even though I’d like to resign from adulting, that’s not really how life works. I have to get up every day and work and learn and grow. I have babies that depend on me, and people that care if I show up for life. So I’ll keep showing up, and I’ll keep writing.

And I will hold on to what’s to come, including a girl’s weekend and a trip to two places I’ve wanted to see my entire life.

I feel as though I’ve been an adult my entire life. So why hand in this card I’ve worked so hard for? After all, if life was all uphill, what fun would that be? I’m quite sure I’ll never have to find out.

How I Landed My Dream Career

How I Landed My Dream Career

 

First, I just want to say this isn’t an article about how everything happens for a reason, and if you just focus on success, it’ll happen. This is a story about not settling. This is a story about how a job and a career are different things.

A year ago, I felt like my career was going nowhere. I left a job I loved because I just couldn’t keep going on a path that was all dead ends. So I took a job that I thought would move me into the right lane, and the pay was great. I soon learned that the job wasn’t what I expected. So I moved on after a few months to a position that paid more but still wasn’t what I wanted to do. But it gave me the time I needed to focus on where I wanted my career to go.

However, this was just a job, and I was a contractor not an employee. As a contractor, it was hard to feel like I was a part of something, which made feel disconnected to the work. I worked with some very smart and competent people. But no one seemed to have a plan for my role. It was like they went on a hiring spree, I showed up, and they weren’t sure what to do with me. I was used to just being thrown in, but when you work for a large company, it’s basically impossible to create work. But I tried. And really the clichés about large companies are mostly true: lots of red tape, corporate speak is rampant, and most of the time, new ideas aren’t appreciated. These were not bad experiences. I did learn things. I learned a lot about what I didn’t want for my career and that having at least some leeway to be creative is essential. And that I really like working and collaborating with others. The in person meeting is hard to come by in global companies. Technology allows for alternatives, but in my opinion, there’s no substitute for looking someone in the eye and giving them your attention.

I also learned that in a large company, your role is just one small cog and that was hard for me to swallow as my experience has been one where I’ve had to wear a lot of hats. I was able to connect what I was doing to the bigger picture; I just had little opportunity to influence the strategy. It became easier to just do what I was told. And that’s not me. I need to be challenged and engaged. Otherwise, I just feel like I’m simply showing up.

But during the year of contacting, I enjoyed flexibility that allowed me to find exactly what I wanted and focus on continuing to improve my skills and connections. This time allowed me to connect with some amazing folks and do some really cool things. So even if my day job was blah; I had work that was creative and challenging. I also took this time to learn new skills. I can now create landing pages without the help of a developer! Life doesn’t really hand out opportunities just for showing up. Attitude about your situation is what you can have control over, not much else.

So while I could worry less about financials, I had plenty of time to find the right fit. I had a lot of bad interviews. Not that the people were bad; it’s just I kind of immediately knew it wasn’t for me. I never turn down interviews even if I was already on the fence. You never know who you might meet or what it might teach you. I, at one point, thought I had found a great opportunity but because of situations beyond my control, the company made the choice not to fill the position. I did meet a great guy who 100 percent believed in me. We were completely on the same page so it turned into an opportunity, just a different kind.

The worst interview had to be the one that made me literally sick. It was so hot in the room, and I was in there for over an hour with no water. I’m not saying it was a literal toxic environment, but I decided my body was trying to tell me something.

So it was months of bad interviews or jobs that seemed like a good fit but were under my salary requirements. I could have just gotten comfortable in my day job routine. But I knew I wasn’t fulfilled so I kept putting myself out there.

Then something amazing happened. I applied for a job on LinkedIn and had a phone interview with my now boss. I immediately knew I wanted to work for him. Then in my in person interview it got even better. I knew I had found my people and my place.

I’m just finishing my first week, and thus far it’s as advertised. The people are fun and friendly. I’ve already received so much praise and recognition for my work and ideas. That’s pretty amazing! And I’m thankful everyday that I get paid well to do what I love, write and marketing!

My advice to anyone unhappy in their career is that only you can change it. Your boss isn’t suddenly going to start appreciating you. The work won’t become interesting and challenging if you wish hard enough. But don’t settle. You deserve to be treated well and paid fairly. I bring up pay because it’s important to ask for what you need and not back down. I know what I’m worth, and in the end so did they.

If the offers don’t come then keep learning and growing. Top talent is a bit of a unicorn these days. If you know how great you are, make sure employers do, too. Tell your story because we all have one. I’m feeling really blessed right now, and right now, I feel that my career story has just launched into an exciting new chapter.

Today, a poem

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I’m busy working on thoughts and ideas. Sometimes you have to walk away from what you are writing and come back to it. So today, a poem. I wrote this many years ago. It’s still one of my favorites. Never think that words aren’t powerful. They absolutely are. And don’t ever think that you can’t come back from something. You may just realize you have wings that work when you take that jump or leap.

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I have this picture
You in that old olive recliner
Me poised on the arm.
We’re mirrored
From the green Izod shirts
To the blonde strands of hair.
It sits in a frame.
It hangs in my heart.
I remember you young & tan
Before too many things
Sank into your skin.
When I had pigtails
And called you mommy.
Maybe time fades pictures, curls their edges.
I’ve taken a million steps away
From that moment
It’s still clear, it’s still happening
Whenever I close my eyes.

 

The Secret of Shame

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Shame is a terrible feeling, like the worst case of heartburn coupled with a swift quick in the gut. But what is shame really? And more importantly, why do we give it so much power?

Shame is defined as, “the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable or improper done by oneself.” Shame is a nutshell is about self-inflicted pain. Shame doesn’t just stick around in the immediate aftermath. We think we need to carry it around, hold onto it, keep it alive.

Is shame useful? Well, sure we’ve all done things we needed to feel shame over. However, most of us in the world don’t go around doing really horrible things. Yet we still want to keep our shame! That’s not okay. Shame is a secret self-hate that we polish with additional feelings of disgust and inferiority. Shame means we don’t deserve forgiveness or the right to move on.

Shame is something we are taught to feel as a child, as in “shame, shame I know your name.” In a way, it teaches us right from wrong. Then we grow up. As adults, we mess up a lot. But there’s shame to greet us and remind us we’re terrible human beings. We welcome it. We let it cloud our minds, making us completely irrational. Shame doesn’t allow us to let go of what happened. It sticks out its tentacles and lashes on. We’re stuck in shame.

I am not immune to shame. I’ve been my biggest disappointment many times. I’m sure I will be again. Shame doesn’t have a hold on me anymore.

I’ve felt episodes of shame many times in life; the biggest being due to the many bad decisions I’ve made in relationships. I’ve hurt people. I’ve hurt myself. Probably the biggest shame I allowed to invade my life was the shame of divorce. Nobody wants to say, “I’m divorced.” I didn’t grow up dreaming of my divorce, but I certainly knew what it was since I was so young when my parents divorced. Divorce is very common in our culture; some people do it a lot! I don’t think, though, that most people go into marriage thinking about divorce.

My shame about divorce was really about the fact that my ex-husband was not a bad guy. We had problems, but it was never ugly between us. He loved me very much and was good to me most of the time. I hurt him badly. There’s nothing I can do that will ever change that. I’m sure he has healed from it and moved on with his life, hopefully to find love. But the fact is I married someone I didn’t love, and three and half years later, I finally had the guts to say so.

So I became the bad guy. I was the bad guy. He didn’t really see me this way because that’s not the kind of person he was. But others did. So I let the shame roll over me. It was intoxicating. I deserved it all. I messed up both of our lives for a little bit. I never meant to hurt him or myself. Sometimes, we do the best we can.

In the immediacy of the break-up, it was not something I wanted to reveal to anyone. There have probably been many people I’ve known between then and now who didn’t know. And occasionally when I was honest about it, I would get interrogated as to why! Sure, it’s personal, not really something that comes out naturally. But I was a bit shocked that even the doctor’s office wanted to know. That’s right, on the form there was a checkbox for single, married or divorced. Why is this information their business? Does being divorced mean the doctor gives me a sad face? So I knew logically this was ridiculous, but I still checked single. That was shame winning. I was too ashamed to check the right box. Even though, I don’t believe this is information they should be privy; I still felt too ashamed to check the damn box.

So how can we shed shame? It starts with forgiveness. You can hope that you’ll be forgiven by others, but don’t count on it. Instead, forgive yourself. What’s done is done. You can’t change it. You can be accountable and remorseful. You can try to be a better person.

No one is perfect. We are a breed of imperfect creatures. Life is hard enough without the added deluge of shame. If you can shed that shame today, just think of how much more room you’ll have for joy and acceptance.

My Love Song to Sara Bareilles

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Dear Sara,

I finished your book a few weeks ago. I bought it when it first came out, but I was saving it like a long hidden Reese’s cup. I knew there would be a time I needed it, and that time arrived. I would probably prefer to read words by you every day, but then we’d need to be friends in real life (there’s still hope for that; I’m available!).

I have great admiration for you and your talent. Your beautiful words and songs have meant a lot to me over the years. After I bought Little Voice, I listened to it over and over. It was my refuge from a bad marriage. I’d put my earphones on at night, listen to your album and cry, tears of hurt, fear and hope. I didn’t know how to get out. I was in an emotional meltdown because for so many years there had been a ban on feelings (as in feelings will not pass go and be sent straight to jail). I had been solely in survival mode. I was in trouble. Your music made a difference in my life. They aren’t just songs; they are mantras, they are inspiration, they are as you might say, “satellites.”

I thank you so much for sharing your talent and for allowing us a glimpse behind the music in your book. As women, we often face more challenges than men, especially relating to our appearance and self worth. Your candid and refreshing stories cemented what I already heard in your music: you are someone who cares, you like all of us are human and flawed.

Your next album Kaleidoscope Heart helped me through heartbreak. It fed my courage. It made me believe that I would come out the other side. It helped me understand that love is a lot different than the notions we have in our heads. Thanks for keeping me steady.

I listen to at least one of your songs most every day. They are a friend and a comfort to me. Because some days are good, some are okay and some are really horrible. Something will happen almost every day that breaks your heart a little. It’s what we do with all those little cracks that matters. My heart has a lot of cracks, tributaries of fissures from one side to the next. But it’s still beating; it’s still strong. Maybe stronger than it would have been untouched.

Thank you for being a part of the fabric holding all those cracks in place and for reminding me to hold my own heart.

This, Sara, is my love song to you.

22 Things You Didn’t Know About Me

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As a professional introvert, it takes time to get to know me. However, if you read my blog then you’re on the express path since I’m more apt to share my stories here than at a party or social outing. Lucky for you I’ve got lots more to share! I was just thinking the other day about random things that are important to me and what makes up someone’s character. So here’s a quick list of some possibly insightful, possibly funny tidbits. You’ll leave with something, maybe even some giggles.

1.      I’ve been to the Olympics. I was in Sydney during the 2000 games. I went to the women’s soccer gold medal match; the U.S. lost. I also met a German man who had just won a silver medal in weightlifting. He let us all try it on.

2.      I am not scared of spiders. I will often transplant them back outside if possible. They are good to have around, mainly because they eat mosquitoes.

3.      I take care of my skin. I’ve been getting facials and treatments for about 15 years. More importantly, I stay out of the sun; after all, I am transparent. I always wear sunscreen and haven’t had a burn in over a decade. Please take care of your skin; not just for vanity. It’s the largest and often most abused organ.

4.      I rarely wear lipstick. People ask me a lot about what kind of lip product I use. It’s chapstick. I am no makeup expert so I usually don’t wear lipstick or lip gloss unless I have a professional doing it.

5.      I will never hate or look down on someone because they are different than me; rather that be because of race, gender, religion, sexuality, education or socio-economic differences. I choose to live my life embracing the differences of everyone and believing everyone is human and deserves to be treated as such.

6.      My mom had lots of nicknames for me. She called me Buffy mostly, which many of my friends who I’ve known my whole life still call me. She also used to call me Trixie. I’ve never really had a nickname as an adult. It’s just Beth. But on that note, I have never gone by Elizabeth. If someone called me that, I usually don’t respond because I don’t think they are talking to me.

7.      I do judge people by their movie choices. Don’t tell me a movie from 20 years ago is a classic. I will stop talking to you forever.

8.      If I could have lunch with three people, I’d choose my mom, Sara Bareilles and Jennifer Weiner.

9.      I have horrible motion sickness. I’ve gotten sick on every type of transpiration available: car, plane, boat and train.

10. My favorite place is Paris. If I had the option, I’d live there.

11. I love learning. I’d be a professional student if that were possible. I’d love to go to law school and get a Ph.D. in marketing.

12. The first real concert I went to (because I refuse to count NKOTB) was Pink Floyd. Since then I’ve seen basically every group I love, including the Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead (before Jerry died), Fleetwood Mac (multiple times), Aerosmith, the Eagles (multiple times), The Killers, The Who, U2, Dave Matthews Band (about 30 times), Heart, Def Leopard, One Republic, O.A.R., Sara Bareilles (multiple times) and many more big and small artists. My only regret is not seeing Prince before he passed. Music has informed a lot of my life. I have always found it very healing and a catalyst for creativity. I am, however, not musically inclined myself. My brief foray into piano lasted not very long. But almost every guy I’ve ever dated or been in a relationship with has been a musician or had musical talents.

13. My belly button is crooked. It wasn’t always but after three surgeries it’s kind of lopsided. It use to bother me; not so much anymore.

14. I use to love scary movies. Now, not so much. I like the idea of them and watching the trailer. But now I’m a big wuss. I still have nightmares about the scariest movie I ever saw, which will remain nameless so I don’t start thinking about it (too late, I’m SCARED!).

15. I am not a good bike rider. It’s been a while. I’m not so sure it’s like “getting back on a bike” easy. I should really address this. I’m missing out. It’s totally embarrassing.

16. I’ve never broken a bone, which is amazing, because I fall a lot. I wouldn’t say I’m a klutz. I have just taken many tumbles in my day, so many which often included stairs. These bones must be like Wolverine grade.

17. My most prized possessions are:

·         Postcards my mom sent me when she was in Europe

·         The Pink Lady figurine that was my Granny Helen’s

·         Some amazing shoes I bought in Paris

·         A pink painted plate that was my Granny Faye’s

·         A bracelet Justin gave me

18.  I am a Pisces. I am no Astrology expert nor do I read my horoscope. I will say that almost every other Pisces I’ve ever met, I’ve gotten along with wonderfully. We immediately hit it off and had lots in common before finding out of our shared sign.

19. This makes the most upset: People who don’t spay and neuter their animals. Or those that chain dogs up and call that a life. Also, please adopt don’t shop.

20. My favorite sounds in the world are the sweet moan that Honey makes just for me and Justin’s voice – it’s so calming.

21. My first crush was J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman). I cried for an hour when he died. Dallas was my favorite TV show ever. I remember watching it with my mom. I was probably too young, but I’m glad she let me watch it. I’m going to the real Southfork this fall when we go to Dallas.

22.  I’ve kept every journal I’ve ever had since I was very young. There’s some interesting stuff in there. I’d tell my younger self to lighten up a bit, and enjoy the moment.

I Don’t Have a Five Year Plan

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I’ve always had a plan. I am a planner. Not to say I’m not up for spontaneity, but you won’t find me waiting for a table on a Saturday night because I’d have a reservation.

I’ve always wanted to be in control of my future. Planning seemed the logical path. However, most of my plans have required revision and rerouting. It’s important to be flexible. Not everything can be planned for in life.

I was an ambitious planner in my teens and 20s. I had a vision. I knew what I wanted. I did everything I could to get there. I had lots I needed to check off my list. My young self never got tired (even migraines rarely slowed me). I was emphatic about what and who I was going to be: happy, successful, something.

I finished my second novel at 25. And was busy planning for more. I was submitting poetry and fiction to journals weekly. I was writing pitch letters to agents, researching everything I needed to do to get noticed and basically doing everything to say I’m a writer!

This was early 2000s. Online journals were fairly new. Pitch letters were mailed. Social media hadn’t really become a thing. Back then self publishing was not what you did as a serious writer. So for years, I was planning and working every day. I stayed convinced I could be something. I paid little attention to my own world; wrapped up instead in the worlds I had created.

Perseverance would get me noticed I thought. But it didn’t. There were small victories: short stories and poems were published. A few agents actually wrote me back. So I kept pushing until I had to walk away. Had to find a new plan and tame that dream.

By this time writing was my job. I realized that in marketing I could get paid for writing; it just wasn’t going to be my story to tell. So I rechanneled my energy. I could be a success in marketing. So I went to grad school. Worked all day and went to class at night. Those were long days, but it kept me busy. I needed to be busy. And needed to believe this plan would work. I would shape brands and make the money I deserved. Ambition suited me well; always has.

After grad school, I got a new job with unlimited possibilities. I threw myself into building this brand and increasing business. Work became all I was. My personal life was in shambles so I needed the diversion. Most weeks I worked 60 hours. There was no boundary between life and work. I answered emails late at night and calls on Saturday mornings. Because in my plan if I just worked harder and longer then I’d get where I needed to go. WRONG.

Life’s not fair. Rewards rarely come for the ones always there doing what they say they’re going to do. People will use you, manipulate you and disappoint you. I was burning out when another offer came my way. This opportunity had more structure and a chance to build a marketing team. It seemed like a win. I still had so much drive; so much I wanted to offer.

I did a lot in my time there. But there were still long hours and lots of miles traveled. What was worse was the wall of frustration. I couldn’t get excited about a project because I knew like the 100 before, it would go nowhere. When you don’t allow people to succeed and shine, you dim their passion. When passion is extinguished there’s no resuscitating it. So I had to go leading me to where I am now.

Which is me not really having a plan. I mean I do have a broad picture in mind. And I still keep lots of running lists of what I need to do to further myself. I’m not always motivated. I’m not always my own cheerleader. I could do more.

My plan looks different now. It’s not about money or status or titles. Success looks a little different now. I want to be excited every day about what I’m doing. It’s about loving writing again and not looking at it as a chore.

What will I do without that five year plan that every guru tells me I need? I’m just going to be a rebel. Look, I had plans. They didn’t work out. I waited patiently for that big break, for someone to tell me I was talented. I’m still waiting. Waiting for that one post to go viral or for one publisher to think I’ve got what it takes.

Yet I still feel like a failure 93% of the time. I still worry every day I haven’t lived up to my potential. I’m still haunted by things I should have done differently. I think these things, but there’s nothing I can do to change the past. Maybe I wasn’t ready for success earlier. Maybe my voice has to get stronger.

So what do I do? Keep writing. Keep posting. Keep believing that if it’s good stuff people will read it. I once heard that dreams can’t become more than that while you’re still sleeping. I’m awake now. Wide awake.