The happy girl can be the sad one, too

Before: I wouldn’t write a personal post like this for fear of potential employers, current employers or past employers seeing it. What would they think? Would it change their impression of me? Would it ruin my chances at the next great opportunity? What if, what if, what if…

Now: I am sad and I have SAD.

SAD stands for seasonal affective disorder.

I never really experienced this while living in the Midwest, coincidentally enough, but my first winter in Northern California has proved to be quite challenging.

For my friends in the Midwest, let me explain:

Winter in Northern California equals grey + a TON of rain. Doesn’t sound too bad, but for me it is. In Chicago while it may be in the negatives with snow on the ground, the sun was still shining. It’s easier to want to go outside when your brain THINKS there’s a chance the sun equals warmth. But, when it’s grey and raining… inspiration gone.

I have gained weight because I’ve made snacking my new hobby. I have become addicted to sugar because it is my “treat of the week”… on an almost daily basis. I need 2-3 cups of caffeine to get me through the day. I get less than 6.5 hours of sleep on a regular basis. I’m easily offended and irritated by others. All in all, I’m a mess.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in a cold room in a conference center in Portland watching this video that my perspective shifted…

Human beings put a man on the moon. Think about that for a second. But it wouldn’t be possible for you to record an album, or start an interior design company. Explain that to me. The fear of the unknown is debilitating. We’re all scared to fail. We’re scared to mess with the status quo, even when we’re not content with how things are. We’ll ride it out. Because unhappiness appears better than uncertainty. This in itself is a tragedy…

‘Human beings are the only life form that will do less than they possibly can. There’s never been a tree that didn’t grow as tall as it possibly could. They’re hard-wired to do that.’

Now, I’m not saying that I can just fix my symptoms of SAD by watching inspirational videos. What I’m saying is, that by owning ourself — all of our positives and negatives that make us, us — and sharing that ownership with others… it creates empowerment. It creates conversation. It creates community. It creates change.

I am a happy, loud, friendly, outspoken, and opinionated person that you know…most of the time. What you don’t know is that I tend to hide my insecurities, my struggles, my sadness and my hurts all inside. Why? Because I don’t want to be seen as negative. I don’t want to sound whiny. I want to be a good friend to you. But by allowing the sadness, the hurt, the anger to build, I’ve started to lose the better parts of me a bit at a time.

Instead of being worried of scaring people away, I have decided to live without apologizes. Carrie Fisher didn’t apologize for who she was.Why would I? We admire and remember the ones who dare to be their crazy selves.

The point of writing all of this is to acknowledge my struggles, throw away the stigma I placed upon myself, and encourage others to acknowledge their complexities, because ignoring them won’t make them go away.

Plus, you are beautiful & you are enough.

 

Why ‘Homesick’ candles are a big disappointment

Would I recommend these Instagram/Facebook candles to a friend or an even dare say, an enemy?

As many of my friends know: I’m candle obsessed. Or rather, I’m scent obsessed. (I’m looking at you incense & flameless wax!)

When I worked at that one store, I became the “candle guru” – I could tell you the burn time of every scent, why some had a stronger throw than others, and of course you just NEEDED to have it in your life.

So, when I saw homesick candles pop up on my Instagram and Facebook for about a month, I figured I would check them out. I tried to do some research on how others felt about the scents, but couldn’t mind much of anything. (Clue #1) When I checked out their Facebook page hoping to find even ridiculous, passive aggressive reviews I found none – they had disabled that featured on that page. (Clue #2) All of the media findings online seemed to be positive, so I decided to bite.

I picked Illinois and Minnesota.

The IL candle is described as “grain fields, violets (the state flower), and lake breeze.”
The MN candle is described as “winter air and Minnesota apple strudel.”

NOPE!

Illinois smells like if you took all the flower & fresh scented cleaning supplies in the store and dumped them into a giant bucket, then submerged your head in said bucket. It burns your eyes, nose, and maybe even killed a few of my brain cells because I got an INSTANT headache. While I do get the occasional headache when I’m home in IL, it’s typically due to traffic, or family members let’s be honest.
Minnesota smells like you took the seasonal limited edition versions of the cleaning supplies in the store and repeated the same task that you did with the Illinois candle. Only this time, you second guessed it for a moment before then regretting your choice.
For $29.95 + tax + shipping, these candles need to be higher quality. The scents smell like something that could be found in a Michael’s or a Walmart – cheap and artificial.
In all honesty, it’s a great idea but NOT worth the risk in trying. Why? Not only am I out the $10 I paid in shipping to receive the candles, I now have to pay to have them shipped back. So, I’ve lost $15+, plus damaged my smelling capabilities and a few brain cells.
P.S. Good thing I didn’t buy the Iowa one, too. “Smells like the State Fair.” Seriously? That could be ANY number of things: poop, cheese, beer, corn, B.O., puke, carnies, farm animals, etc.

homesick_candles_nope.png

The top eco-friendly companies to give all your holiday money to

Let me tell you why you should reconsider who you give your money to this holiday season.

It’s the holiday season and despite how hard we try to remember the “true spirit of the season,” we’re going to be materialistic and buy gifts for ourselves and others.

Recently, I watched Leo DiCaprio’s collab with National Geographic called, Before the Flood. It is hard to ignore the harsh realities presented in this truly moving documentary. What is even harder for me to ignore is Leo’s call to action: invest your money and your vote into individuals and companies that are like-minded and aligned with the fact that we ALL need to do better for our planet and its people.

I already strive to be health, eco and animal conscious in my beauty, skincare, food, and home good products. Those areas are easy not only because of their marketing and open reputations, but also because there are apps available for consumers to check on those products and companies.

An area I haven’t been as vigilant in has been apparel and home decor. After some research, I’ve found some great companies that I not only highly recommend to friends and family but also will be purchasing gifts from these amazing companies this holiday season!

PACT: Change you can wear | website
This wonderful company sells organic cotton, fair trade certified, sweatshop free every day basics perfect for the athlete, stay at home mom, and college student in your life.

Personal favorite: Stretch-fit flare pants
Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 1.40.57 PM.png

New Belgium Brewery | website
If you’re going to or hosting a holiday party this year, I highly suggest you give your money to New Belgium Brewery. Not only are they one of the most eco-friendly companies out there, but they also are very transparent about their environmental impact…plus, they also carry options for your GF friends, too!

Personal favorite: Tartastic lemon ginger sour aletartastic_l

Sierra Club | website
For the animal lover, nature adventurer, or kids in your life the Sierra Club offers a variety of stuffed animals included in your donation to their greatly important organization.

Personal favorite: Black bear stuffie w/ John Muir inspired backpack
532f8d995f68e625a45c081cd3d1e71d

 

Ethics Supply Co. | website
Perfect gift for that special friend, partner, or family member you’ve gone on an adventure with. The scents on these candles are completely spot on, and will bring back great memories each time they are lit. The name shows that this company cares about its products, its impact on the environment, and its customers from start to finish. Made in the USA, you won’t regret splurging on these. Pssst! You can buy these on Anthropologie’s website, so stock up when they’re running a sale! 

Personal favorite: Yosemite’s Firefall
firefall_front_1024x1024-2

Lush cosmetics | website
This eco and animal friendly company takes out the complication of picking gifts by offering multiple themed sets at a variety of budget levels. You really can’t go wrong getting a bath bomb + soap gift set for your sister-in-law, girls you used to babysit, or your college roommate!

Personal favorite: The Night Before Christmas gift set
Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.34.36 PM.png

 

Honorable mentions
The companies and products listed below don’t have much on how eco-friendly they are, but do give back to great causes, regardless.

Bombas: One pair purchased = one pair donated | website
You may have seen these guys on Shark Tank, and it’s been nothing but up since then! This great company sells high quality sports performance, dress, and every day socks and with each purchase donates a pair to a homeless shelter since that is one of the items most needed. The price point seems higher, but the quality is there, PLUS remember that you are actually buying double the amount, you’re just donating half to people in need!

Personal favorite: Women’s brights 4-packScreen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.07.21 PM.png

EcoFlower | website
Another Shark Tank gem, this company creates beautiful faux flowers masterpieces made from resources such as book pages, wood, and more! Instead of bringing a hostess a bottle of wine or real flowers, why not give her something to remember you by? *Note: Since these are hand made, it takes up to 2 weeks to create your order with the free shipping option. You can upgrade for $5 to have your order be put “in the front of the line.”

Personal favorite: Louisiana bloom tin can
Screen Shot 2016-11-27 at 2.39.38 PM.png

Why everyone should work retail during the holidays

Working in retail during the holiday season takes the happy into horror.

I have worked at least 7 holidays in retail. First one was at 16 as a sale associate while my last was as management. Regardless of the position I was in, it sucks. Capital S-U-C-K-S! Why? Let me provide you a simple numbered list as to the major reasons why being in the retail industry during the holiday season is one of the WORST times of the year:

  1. You work until it’s illegal for you to work any more that week. But sometimes you get sucked into working extra hours or even a split shift because a new temp decides to bail on her first shift & the team needs you!
  2. The big guys & gals say they appreciate you, but instead of showing it through a raise they order Domino’s pizza + discount Walgreens candy.
  3. Customers tend to personify the Grinch over Cindy Lou Who, but still expect you to treat them like Cindy Lou Who even after they’ve spit in your face.
  4. Last minute shoppers still expect you to have exactly what they want even though it’s 10 minutes before you close on Christmas Eve.
  5. Don’t you DARE say “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” unless you expect to be corrected and perceived as offensive.
  6. You are allowed one day off – either day before a holiday or day after a holiday. So, if your tradition is to go out of town to see family, forget about it! Unless, you’re okay with hoping a redeye + heading straight to work from the airport.
  7. Everyone wants gift wrapping. If you are not a pro at gift wrapping, ask to be front zone or fitting room the entire holiday season or you will be crucified.

As many know, I do NOT like to tolerate any of the following: bullish*t, rude comments, a sense of entitlement, whining, temper tantrums, threats, or vanity. Understandably so, working the holidays completely drained me of the enthusiasm I have for the season. I’ve been in charge of making everyone else’s holiday a memorable one, but what about my own?

Now, this is a crazy (read: brilliant!) idea, but maybe if everyone aged 16 & up was required to work at least one holiday season in retail (November 1 through January 1), then maybe we wouldn’t be such asshole consumers?

Not only would requiring all individuals to work in retail allow them to feel the same emotions of despair, NOT joy, during the holiday season but it would provide them a reality check of maybe we’ve gotten to be a little bit too materialistic and lost the meaning of season.

But as long as holiday movies keep getting made, my genius idea will never grow into fruition. ::Sigh::

But I do wonder if my retail experienced readers find yourself getting back into the holiday mayhem as a shopper, or do you still hold on to the empathy you have for the store workers who brave this crazy storm?

For those of you working holiday this year, here’s another numbered list with some points of advice:

  1. Even if you’re hired as seasonal, you are expected to work. If you think you can request days off, think again. Not only will management hate you, but your new co-workers will hate you.
  2. When in doubt, smile it out. I got through some of the most ridiculous customer situations by just smiling softly as the customer ranted and raved. Typically, when a customer is cranky during the season, it has nothing to do with you and letting him or her let it all out will help him or her to realize they’re being a dick. This isn’t always the case, but I’ve found just listening to be the best response to cray.
  3. If you feel overwhelmed on Black Friday or Boxing Day, don’t hold it in. Communication to your manager on duty is key. If you need a second set of eyes, don’t be afraid to ask. If you need a break off the floor to gather your thoughts, ask. If you aren’t sure of an answer to a question, be honest with the customer about your limitations and then ask someone else.
  4. Technology will fail you. Often at the worst times. Remember, it is out of your control.
  5. Get to work 10 minutes early so you can walk the sales floor and have an idea of your surroundings. Nothing worse than running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
  6. Be a team player. You all are in this together. Don’t take out your negative emotions onto your peers. If you do, it’ll be all down hill from there.

Good luck, holiday workers! I’ll be rooting for you from the comfort of my computer screen!

 

Why this election didn’t surprise me

Yelling about candidates isn’t going to change them, ever. And it isn’t going to change you.

We did it guys, we made it through the 2016 presidential election sponsored by Bravo! and E!

While many spent the past 18 months fuming, afraid and at a loss for words, I remained chill.

I didn’t bother debating with candidates supporters. I didn’t bother pretending to be shocked at the release of more offensive Trump commentary late in the election. I didn’t bother to be wary of another investigation into Clinton’s e-mails right before voting day. I didn’t bother feeling betrayed by the DNC when it showed that they weren’t ever with him, but always with her. Why? Because I know better.

I know the government is a dark, twisted, violent institution that has been allowing bad behavior to happen for decades. Yes, House of Cards is fiction, but do you really think that show ISN’T based off of true events, people & secrets?

The difference between this election and the ones before it, is that private information is not being written out by hand, sealed into a file and locked away behind 5 different combinations. Nope. It is being store in electronic files in electronic lockers that seem to be safe. Until they’re hacked. Then the dirty laundry is all out on the lawn for all the neighborhood to see.

This election was ugly. Not just from a physical standpoint, but also because the popular majority finally saw how their disinterest & inaction had provided them lackluster options. And instead of taking accountability for that, society tends to place the blame on the party. Haven’t you realized, society, that pointing your fingers at the party members doesn’t cause them to act? Do you know what causes them to act? Money, which you don’t have enough of to influence them to behave in your interest!

So, what’s next for us normal folk? Well, maybe y’all can read the media instead of blaming it, and I mean MULTIPLE media outlets, not just one. And maybe you can elect party members in your local and state elections that are worthy of your vote & can be developed into better governmental options for the future. And maybe you can stop using the internet in finding memes to complain about so and so candidate, and actually use it to research important issues about your communities.

Pshhh, what am I thinking? Americans talk first, think second. It would be too much of me to ask my fellow voters to actually advocate for themselves for once, wouldn’t it?

Developing gratitude

We tend to wait until November to think about why we are thankful. But even then, our thoughts are clouded by the gift-giving season. Why wait to develop gratitude?

I have been really struggling with this blog. What voice I want it to have, what audience I want to impact the most, what topics to cover, what subject I should portray myself as the expert of. I spent so much time worrying and judging myself that I didn’t write.

I let ideas come and go. I gave myself excuses as to what was causing me to “not have enough time” to write. I thought, maybe it’s better for me to stop writing until I have “figured the blog’s platform out.”

But, that’s just an excuse. When has anyone really started a creative adventure and had everything figured out? Creative adventures change, detour, fall, fail, and eventually evolve.

Yes, I would love to be a professional writer, aka paid enough to live happily ever after. But, in a way, I only have so much control over that. If I spend most of my time trying to categorize myself, and doubting all the ideas that randomly pop into my brain, then I gain nothing positive.

If I just push myself to word vomit at least once or twice a week, then I’m still growing and nurturing my abilities. It may result in dolla dolla bills y’all. Or, it may result in just another online diary. Regardless, I am thankful for the opportunity.

Thankful that I even have a platform to write to the masses.
Thankful that I have the ability to receive positive or constructive feedback from the audience.
Thankful that I can continue to try to improve, to create and to inspire.
Thankful that I live in a country that doesn’t oppress free speech.
Thankful that I was able to continue my education into my 20s, allowing me to learn even more than if I had been forced to stop while still a young teen.
Thankful that there is potential to profit from this platform.

We tend to wait until November to think about why we are thankful. But even then, our thoughts are clouded by the gift-giving season. Why wait to develop gratitude?

I recently decided towards the end of October to designate a space near my bed where I will write down one thing every day that I am thankful for. It is a practice that my mom started with me when I was in high school & struggling to see the positive. By challenging me (or in my mind at the time, forcing me) to do this, my outlook went from glass half empty to glass half full. It is a challenging practice to maintain, but I swear it works.

It turns out that my idea to promote more positivity & gratitude into my life was on track with others. Recently, I discovered from a colleague of mine that she was participating in the Thanksliving Workbook. This idea is the brainchild of she works His way, an organization that encourages wisdom for women to pursue Christ, serve their families well & use their gifts to bless others. While there are people who have had negative experiences with religion & Christianity, I encourage you to still check out this wonderful workbook. It does not judge, condemn, or pressure. It builds you up, loves you, and strengthens you.

Personally, I was raised Christian. I went to a variety of Christian churches, but spent the most time in the Lutheran congregations. I was also very lucky in that I went to a high school that had us study world religions, morality and ethics. I have friends of different faiths. My spiritual relationship is my own & still a work in progress.

Regardless of my questioning, I still find inspiration in religious services, traditions, texts and individuals. I believe that exposing oneself to a variety of experiences will only make you a better member of humanity. Therefore, I believe the Thanksliving Workbook can be used by everyone & shaped to their own experiences. If you’re interested in using the Thanksliving Workbook, and would also to be a part of a virtual community while participating, leave a comment below and I will get you set up with the private Facebook group that I am a member of!

If you’ve reached the end of this longer than usual post, thank you. It’s your readership that keeps me accountable. Until the next post… I challenge you to write down 5 things you are thankful for at the end of today & share them with your friends & family online! End 2016 on a note of positivity & start 2017 with a new mindset!

 

Why I can’t get enough of the Disney Kool-Aid

Being born in California, it was only natural that there was some Disney mixed into my mind, body and soul. And what luck that I also happened to be born on the same day as Walt himself! (It’s still a “fun fact” I like to throw out there every so often.)

Now, as I’m in my second half of my 20s, the admiration and loyalty I felt as a child to my favorite Disney characters is back with even more passion. It’s shocked some of my co-workers, and even my family to see me giddy over the thought of going to Disney.

So, why does a grown woman have such a love for ‘the happiest place on earth’ when she should be concentrating on adulting? 

If you are a reader of Disney travel blogs then you’ll know that the best time to visit a Disney park is as a childless adult. You get to be a kid again without the temper tantrums (hopefully), plus Disney does adults right…drinking around the world at EPCOT, anyone?

While there really is magic for everyone at Disney who is open to it, I think the reason for my Disney fever is due to my desire to remain child-like in a world full of chaos.

Kids are quite aware of the world around them. More than we give them credit for. Life to a child is full of possibilities, wonders, newness, surprises, adventures…why do we lose that mentality as adults? Because we feel that we have to sacrifice that mentality to survive? But tell me, wouldn’t it better to live than to survive? Are children living while the adults are just surviving?

This post isn’t about me trying to convince you to take a Disney vacation with your savings. This post isn’t about me trying to force the magic on you. This post is about showing the surviving adults to find the place in the world that makes you feel alive! And not just once every few years. A place that can inspire you on a daily basis. A place that can make you feel like a kid again. And for me, that’s Disney. Because how can you not smile when you’ve got Mickey & the gang on your side?

enhanced-buzz-20355-1383167504-1

 

How can I care about personal goals?

It’s the Friday of Labor Day weekend, and I am writing an overdue blog post.

Overdue because my goal is to write at least one post a week, but lately, my timing has been awful.

For some reason I am unable to keep my own personal goals to the same standards as my professional ones. From a strategic standpoint I know this post isn’t going to get many “hits.” The timing is almost a horrible as if I was publishing this on Christmas. But you know what, if I don’t write this now then it’ll be another week with no blog post.

I’m a control freak. Therefore, I hate flying. I love telling my boyfriend when he’s wrong. I love knowing about a news story before my mom or dad. I love, love, LOVE control. Maybe that’s why when it comes to my own personal goals and aspirations, I dilly and I dally. Instead of taking the bull by the horns and writing every day like I should be, I just THINK about writing every day. I keep the ideas inside my head and hope that they’ll still be there when I FEEL like writing them out.

I’m a planner. I’ve always had multiple planners for my various areas of life – personal, professional, and educational. Two out of the three are covered in check marks & crossed off lists, plus a neon rainbow of Post-Its. The other has cute little plans, but no actions. The other looks pristine next to the well worn & (sometimes aggressively) handled two.

Am I just now realizing that I’m a fraud? I go through the motions, make the plans, but the follow through is no where to be found…and why? Because it’s easier to say, “well I tried and the timing wasn’t right” versus ACTUALLY challenging myself and trying with my whole heart and soul and still failing, or even perhaps not be good enough?

Or, have I just not found something that’s good enough for me? Do I hold myself to such high standards that I will only pursue an avenue that I believe 100% in, so much so that it eats me alive?

This isn’t a question I can yet answer today, because it’s a long weekend and I gotta go do a whole lot of nothing versus a whole lot of something.

 

Why I’m Losing ‘Hope’ in Women’s Soccer

I wrote this blog last year about Hope Solo. For those of you who know me, I have been an “anti-fan” of Solo’s for years…actually over a decade now. This blog post explains where it stems from, but I do want to add, that I am so incredibly disappointed with how our society has continued to ignore the red flags and warning signs this woman has displayed time and time again, all in the name to either move the cause of women’s sports further, or help the team “win.” Teams win games, not individuals. This isn’t golf. This isn’t tennis. This is soccer, a team sport. So, seriously, US Soccer, WNT, why have you let Hope behave so badly these past 15+ years? Was it because there weren’t policies in place to handle the offenses she was committing? Was it because she was friends with the higher ups? Was it because you felt sorry for her? Was it because you couldn’t see that there are THOUSANDS of girls across the country that are training every day to earn a spot like hers one day, and hell, there are probably at least 20 that could take it from her not only by their skill but also by their character. No, Hope. I don’t need to hear your rebuttals or your comments. What I want to hear, as a former soccer player, a former goalkeeper, a former female athlete, and a current fan, WHY this got to play out so long?

The Bite Me Chronicles

I started in competitive soccer when I was 6 years old and played until I was about 17, “retiring” after having two knee surgeries and countless broken bones.

I’ve been a loyal US soccer fan since I started kicking the ball, wearing a Mia Hamm number nine jersey when the ’99 team won against China. Attending dozens of Chicago Fire soccer games at Soldier Field, North Central College stadium during the construction of their new stadium, and finally, at Toyota Field. I was lucky enough to attend the 2003 Women’s World Cup in California, watching some of the greats play their last matches.

After the 2003 World Cup, a new set of legs hit the pitch in 2007. I was sad to see that eras were ending, especially some of my favorite players, but excited to get to know these new ladies.

Abby Wambach made herself known to the world, scoring…

View original post 521 more words

Sometimes you’ve got to give in to win

 

I must confess the truth.

Leaving Chicago has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I tried. I really did try to make it work. I gave myself completely to the demands of the city. I worked overnights, double shifts, all for minimum wage. Tried to mold myself to fit in to the different social groups – the comic, the newsmaker, the socialite, the designer, the athlete. I couldn’t find my niche, my people. I was never good enough to be first rank, always second at best.

I have never felt lower about myself and my worth than when I lived in Chicago. I worked for some pretty talentless, rude, and idiotic people. It still amazes me how some of the people I answered to were in their positions of power.

I told myself the struggle was normal, that it would pass. But you know what? That’s bullshit. Young professionals should NOT be killing themselves over their jobs. It is not fair, nor okay, for their bosses to say that their over-the-top sacrifices are necessary for the good of the company or the good of the team. Never should a person feel so low as I have felt and be okay with that. It is NOT okay. It is NOT okay to work for a company, a boss, or a department that allows you to feel empty, alone, exhausted, frustrated, un-appreciated, under paid, and damaging your personal life.

Young professionals are NOT brats, selfish, or lazy for standing up for what is right & deserved: good mental health, a challenging yet balanced work environment, and respect from their peers & bosses.

I left Chicago because it was a do or die situation. I made excuses for my misery. Luckily for me, I was challenged by someone I love to either do or die. I chose do. And while it’s been challenging on my pocket book, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am finally standing up for what I deserve. I am finally doing what I’m passionate about, even if it means cutting my livelihood in half. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy life when you aren’t dreading about doing something uninspired for 8+ hours of your day.

If anyone ever needs to talk to someone about hating their job, hating their path, being depressed, lost, confused, alone, frustrated. I’m your girl. Even though I’m free from my big city demons, I’m still challenged each day to continue discovering who I am and what path I’m on. So, I’m not completely put together & all knowing. But, I can empathize. I can listen. I can try to help others feel that they do have options, albeit different than what they may be comfortable with at first, but worthwhile in the longterm.

And hey, maybe one day I’ll lay out all my grievances about particular individuals & employers, because wouldn’t that be juicy & funny? But for now, I’m going to keep giving in to my wants and desires and ya know, just keep on winning.

Post inspiration brought to you by the song “Sunshine” by Atmosphere: