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.

 

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!

 

How I hid my financial insecurity in my shopping basket

I like nice things. I like decorating, putting things together that might otherwise have been separate. I like to design. I like to fengshui. I like to style. I LOVE organizing. I still get excited when I see office supplies & back to school displays in Target. I typically have to be led away.

It took $8,000+ in moving costs, having to re-buy, reshape, and redesign my new place for me to realize that I have a problem.

I wouldn’t say I’m a shopaholic. But, I would say I love to online window shop…and sometimes follow through with “checking out.” 5 out of 10 times. Maybe 6. Who’s counting? But the act of checking my favorite websites to see what’s new, what deals are going on, and if it fits our mid-century modern theme? OMG, so therapeutic. Enthralling, even! Okay, maybe I’m a borderline shopaholic.

I gave myself the excuse that we gave so much away in Chicago that I could buy, buy, buy in California. The sales tax is less, kind of, right? I completely ignored that my bank account already taken a significant hit with financing the move and just kept charging. I can always return it. No problem!

With each item added to my online shopping cart, I would further ignore my feelings of being scared, nervous, anxious, and doubt. If I don’t have these items, then I’m not really an adult! I haven’t made it on my own without at least ONE room being complete! I need to make it seem that I’ve got it figured out.

Then, there was a moment. Not a panic, not a scream, just an uneasy calm that settled over me. I needed to stop. I needed to figure this money shit out. I was setting myself up for future fights with Marty by continuing this game. I was setting myself up for future disappointment. I was creating a monster of instant gratification that would never be satisfied.

How can I live a life of true beauty, enjoying the earth around me when I am so enthralled with filling my apartment with things? How can I save up for my retirement, my future family, my future house if I keep getting distracted by deals, deals, deals? How can I reach the financial goals that I have in the most responsible and practical manner?

I have friends who don’t go shopping during Lent. Well, it’s not the Lenten season, but I’m going to make a goal: I will not buy ONE unnecessary item the entire month of August. That means no clothing, no home goods, no treats, NOTHING. If it doesn’t mean life or death, I ain’t buying it. If it doesn’t mean health or sickness, nope. If it doesn’t help me to get my work done, then see ya! Time to buck up! Time to educate myself on creating good money habits! Time to set some goals, save some money up, and think of that big picture!

Disneyland Annual Pass, here I come! 🙂

Just kidding. Kind of. Not really?

To future old person Caitlin: you’ll have money to live on, I promise!

 

Allowing myself to wallow

Each week I experience, at least once, what many call “the blues.”

Yes, I live in the “greatest country on earth.” Yes, I experience white privilege on a daily basis. No, I’m not carrying around tens of thousands of student loan debt. I am healthy. I am loved. I am free.

But, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel sadness. Disappointment. Frustration. There’s always more, isn’t there?

Depression, alcoholism, and bipolar disorder have been diagnosed on both sides of my family tree. Knowing this causes me to be more aware of how I express and deal with my feelings. Some days, the stigma of mental illness creeps in and I worry that “something is wrong with me,” and that I am “feeling too much.” I used to get frustrated with myself for feeling this way, I felt that I was in the wrong. But, that only made me more unstable. I would bottle the disappointments, frustrations and sadness away, until they popped open, usually unexpectedly, and made a mess everywhere.

“Just keep swimming” is motivational for me 85% of the time. It pumps me up! Keep me going! Gives me that drive to take on the day! I could look on the bright side of things. I could keep getting knocked down and get up again, cuz’ you’re never going to keep me down. Most of the time.

It is important to allow that one day to wallow a week. Why? Because it helps me to maintain a healthy, and mostly happy, relationship with myself and with others around me. 

No, I don’t hold in all of my sadness, disappointments, or frustrations until this ONE day. The day of wallow is when those emotions overcome the happy, the joyful, the excitement of the day. I acknowledge them. I acknowledge that I want more out of life. I acknowledge that there is more to life. I throw a last minute pity party for myself. I blame others for my shortcomings. I cry that I don’t have a better “plan.” I question my path, my passions. I wonder if I’ll ever be good enough. Simply said: I feel all the feels.

So, why am I sharing this? Because, I want readers to know that it is okay to wallow. It is okay to be sad, disappointed, frustrated. It is okay to feel. Find a healthy way, that works for you, to express yourself. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to cope with what’s happening inside. You gotta do you.

So, if you need a Wallow Wednesday each week, take it! But then, when it’s over, wake up and make it a Tremendous Thursday!

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat

If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

So Long, Midwest…Hello, Sunburn!

Welp, it’s finally done!

After mailing 9 boxes at a 24-hour FedEx in Lakeview, playing the ultimate game of Tetris with my RX 330 + driving across Illinois-Iowa-Nebraska-Wyoming-Utah-Nevada in 3 days, we arrived to Cali-four-nie-yay!

How Solano County compares to Cook County, thus far:

  • There’s unexpected traffic in Solano County, but you’re surrounded by vineyards, mountains + blue skies…sitting in your car ain’t so bad with that.
  • You’re surrounded by some incredible counties: Sonoma for culinary , enthusiasts Napa for wine lovers, Marin for natural beauty, and Alameda for its diversity.
  • People are friendly, incredibly helpful, and love to connect you with friends of their second cousin’s wife’s sister’s husband’s brother if that means it’ll land you a career move, or a new couch.
  • While I will miss my Chicago pizza, dearly, Californians know how to make a MEAN burger…veggie for me, of course. 😉
  • Apparently, there have been so many lawsuits about cancerous chemicals, being, you know, everywhere, that these little beauties are constantly reminding me that I’m probably going to die of cancer. K5802
  • Despite growing up in the Midwest, I never was told to consider how I would react if a cow, sheep, or horse ended up in my path on the highway, but in the happy cow state, you gotta be on top of that shit.
  • Even in a drought, a pool is a must to survive June-September. You just don’t really clean it, or refill it unless it’s down to wadding temperatures.

Sorry, Chicago + Midwest… I’m never coming back, only as a born-again tourist.

 

What would ‘Big Fishy’ do?

Lake City, Minnesota sunset.
Lake City, Minnesota sunset on July 15, 2015.

Planes, trains and automobiles. The universe was against me as I made plans to be by the side of one of my absolute favorite people – my dying grandpa.

“Big Fishy” is what I called him, and I was his “Little Fishy.” Honestly, I can’t remember exactly what moment caused these nicknames to be created, but I can tell you that it’s all I’ve ever known between my grandpa and I. That man sure knew how to pucker up his lips into our signature pout each time he saw me.

My grandpa was diagnosed with two types of cancer about 16 months ago. He was newly 91. He didn’t want to know specifics…he had lived one hell of a life. Fell in love twice, raised three kids, he was a trainer for the Minneapolis Lakers, he helped lead multiple hospitals around Minnesota and South Dakota as an administrator…really, he lived to help others.

He personified Christ in his daily life, and I do not say that lightly. No matter your opinion of organized religion, or your own spirituality, that man sure knew how to make you feel special.

I was the youngest in my family, that is until the cousins started popping out babies of their own, and my mom was the youngest child. So, I was often times looked down upon by the rest of my family. But not Big Fishy. He treated me with the same respect he would expect for himself. I was always good enough to him. I was never “too young,” “too small,” or “too stupid.” He saw the light in everyone. He was able to forgive. Hell, you’d rarely cross him – he put the fear of disappointing him in ya.

He was ready to be reunited with his Creator, family members, and friends and there were many instances over the past 16 months where he thought he was going to go. But, he held on. He held on for one more Christmas. He held on for one more birthday. He held on to say goodbye to his loyal pup, Beau. But then, he was ready. Really ready this time.

He was an honest man. And since he was an honest man, he knew when to tell my mom he would be leaving this world. Thank God for that quality. It’s the one that allowed me to drop everything and be by his side as he took his last breath. It’s the one that allowed me to hold his hand as he transitioned into the next world. It’s the one that allowed me to dry my mother’s tears, and hold her sobbing body as she mourned the loss of her last surviving parent.

I miss him every damn day. There are so many things I’ll miss about him. But what I’ll miss the most is just sitting next to him and feeling his love for me, his community, his dog, golfing, just everything…that love just radiated off his being. You could NEVER not feel joyful around Bob Polk.

My heart is broken, and may always be broken.

I see him golfing in the clouds. I hear him bowling in Heaven with his father during rain storms. I hear him signing to me on the oldies station. I feel him in the wind as I race my bike through Chicago’s streets, his arms protecting me. I remember him by the pain in my chest as I wake up each morning realizing I’m still living in a world without him.

But, I am so eternally grateful for this man for one specific reason – he gave me my mom, my other favorite person. Without him, there would be no her and no me.

When I thanked him for giving me my life and he asked me why, I said that without his love for my mom, I wouldn’t be a fighter or a writer. I wouldn’t be an animal lover or a volunteer. I wouldn’t be a child of God or an American. I wouldn’t be.

So, I want to publicly thank him again for his love, for waiting to pass on until I got there, for always believing me, and for always being with me.

Until we meet again… What Would Big Fishy Do?

If you feel so inspired you may donate to my grandpa’s memorial fund set up at his parish, First Lutheran in Lake City. The fund will gift a scholarship money to a college student looking to study medicine, to help lessen their financial burdens.

 

More Hats

20 and even 30-somethings are beginning to create their own jobs. Saying “screw you” to those refusing to hire them until “they pay their dues.”

At only 24 years old, I have worn quite a few different hats in my life so far – soccer player, student, journalist, historian, manager, advisor.

And at only 24 years old, I still have so many hat possibilities! But…what if I’m trying on too many too soon?

I’ve found quite a few “happys” along the way as I’ve tried on those different hats. How long that happy lasts varies of course. I mean come on, I am a twenty-something. My attention span is pretty short lived and I’m in constant need for instant gratification.

It’s that feeling of being content that I have yet to discover. Seriously. Not even a glimmer. I have NO idea what being content with my life feels like. I’m in a constant state of unrest, with “what if I did this” thoughts flooding my stream of consciousness on a daily basis.

I’ve thought that traveling would quell that unrest, but then reality hits: I need money to travel. I need to keep improving my skills & abilities so when I am ready to “settle down” I am employable. I need to focus on one area so I have a better chance at getting a good job. I need to think of life after my 20s.

Is it really reality that is stopping me from doing the unthinkable – not choosing a path, not choosing to invest in a career, choosing to not choose? Or, is it the old expectations of generations past?

“I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They’re both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.” – Bob Dylan

I have incredibly supportive parents. They show their support the best by (mostly) keeping their career advice and opinions to themselves. My mom understands that a one-career life is no longer a realistic expectation of a person. Rather, multiple careers is almost the new expectation to survive not only the economy, but also to quell that unrest within ourselves.

The difference between the millennial generation and any other, is that we refuse to be miserable. We strive to find our happy. We strive to ruin expectations. We strive towards a greater understanding. Barriers are being broken. Lines are being crossed. Newness is being born every day.

So, is it possible to be content AND happy? Or, is happiness no longer a long-term plan, but rather a daily victory? Is being content unattainable until you “settle down?”

I’ve had co-workers of all ages. The ones closer to my parents age, really haven’t had to struggle as much to get their job. Obviously, things were different when they graduated from school. The ones closer to my age and up to 10 years older than I, have had to work the worst shifts, holidays, weekends, forgo personal events, etc. for YEARS before finally getting that job they deserve.

But now, 20 and even 30-somethings are beginning to create their own jobs. Saying “screw you” to those refusing to hire them until “they pay their dues.”

SO, LISTEN UP UNEMPLOYED 20-SOMETHINGS: Creation is the way to go. Create your own hat, because all the ones you’ve worn in the past, or are wearing right now, well, they’re going out of style.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

Over 6 Months Late…

…my bad? 

I could write many reasons and excuses for why I’ve forgotten about this blog, but it wouldn’t make up for the 6 + months of no posts. So, let’s try this again.

Spring is supposed to come with March, but since I live near Chicago that means more snow is on its way! Still, Spring cleaning can be done and as I start to throw out the old and integrate the new, I’m thinking some rebranding is in order.

In the last 6 + months I’ve been promoted from news intern at WGN Radio 720 AM to fill-in morning drive news producer, then to fill-in talk show producer, then to talk show producer for Dean Richards Sunday Morning. This may will be a year since I started at WGN and a lot has happened not only to myself but to the station as well! The new FM station 87.7 FM The Game had its debut and there’s talk of more changes as the year progresses…who knows where I’ll be in another 6 + months!?

But…I’m still not satisfied. It might be because I am my own worst enemy and critic, but I never feel like I’m doing ENOUGH in putting myself out there and letting the media community and well, the world community know who Caitlin Fry is: what talents I have, why you want me on your team, and why you should be fighting to have me on your side!

So, any suggestions that the WordPress world has about tweaking this site to be more unique, eye-appealing, and kick ass – please feel free to leave your brilliant ideas in the comments section.

As for now, I’ll do my best to not let another 6+ months go by without a post, and hopefully have some witty, funny, and entertaining things to say in the near future.

Thanks for sticking with me! (I’m assuming your still reading, but I forgive you if you’ve started trolling on Pinterest or Instagram…that shit is addicting!)

Here’s an adorably cute penguin video as a reward for getting to the end:

“You must constantly ask yourself these questions…”

“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay?”

— Jim Rohn, courtesy of Elisabeth Taverine of CHAARG