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?

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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.

 

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:

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.

Why I succeed at failing

I have been letting myself down a lot this past year. I’ve been making excuses for why I’m treading water. I’ve been blaming the universe for giving me difficult circumstances, that prevent me from moving forward. I then decide that the solution to get away from all this negative juju invading my headspace is to well, move. Queue positive vibes & blissful living!

Nope. Maybe it was blissful living for the first two weeks, but then the frustration with life came roaring back.

You see, ever since I graduated from college almost 4 years ago, I haven’t felt fulfilled. Or, if I did feel fulfilled it was fleeting. My dreams were cut down by reality, so I adapted. But for me, adapting isn’t good enough. I tried the whole full-time job thing. Fine at first, and then life hit me again and again with dilemmas.

Caitlin, your family needs you.

But Caitlin, you have rent to pay.

Caitlin, live each day like it’s yours and their last.

Caitlin, how are you going to excel in your career, adulthood if you keep going off to follow your heart? 

I am a rational person. I would like to think I’m smart, even. Maybe even overly cautious sometimes when it comes to taking a risk. A square.

But when it comes to a career, I fly by the seat of my pants. My heart bleeds down my sleeve as I continue to search for that soulmate,  that fulfillment. I can’t force to do the easy thing and “just find a full time job until you figure it out.” That seems so wrong for me. Soul-sucking. Uninspired.

So, in the eyes of many, I continue to succeed at failing. Failing to conform to what generations before me did because “they had to,” but really did they? Failing to be comfortable with a steady income at a job that is just a job. Failing to do something “useful” and “productive” with my $50K+ college education, therefore disappointing my parents. Failing to be normal.

I always had said growing up that I would HATE working in an office if it wasn’t work I loved doing. “I’ll never take a job just for the money.” Well, I’ve done that in the past…slightly unavoidable Younger and Unknowing Caitlin.

But now, I’ve decided to embrace my failures. Things didn’t work out for a reason, because if they had would I really be my best self? My happiest? My most fulfilled? Maybe my failures are leading me up to a road of successes that just so happen to occur later in life, because I’ll handle it better then and not become a drug addict or fame whore.

I want to keep failing. If I keep failing then I’ll keep growing. If I keep growing then I’ll become a more evolved individual. If I become a more evolved individual then I will be fulfilled.

Simple enough, right?

Why Moving to California Is Everyone’s Business

Why sharing life news is the worst idea you could possibly have, ever.

So, I recently announced via Facebook, of course, that my boyfriend and I will be moving to West to Northern California. As a lot of people know, I was born there. My family relocated to the Chicago area for my dad’s job, but we always made an effort to go back to California at least twice a year. As a lot of my friends know, I’ve always wanted to go back.

And yet, what a “surprise” it was when our announcement was made. Some frequently asked questions have included:

  • What’s wrong with Chicago? You don’t like it here? Is this a rhetorical question or should I pull out my reporter’s notebook full of explanations + stats?
  • Are you moving because you got a new job? No, I’m moving because my CURRENT job allows me to live wherever the fuck I want. So, why wouldn’t I move to the place I’ve wanted to go back to the last 20 years?
  • Isn’t it incredibly expensive to live there? How will you survive just freelancing? First of all, I’ve survived living in Chicago working 75+ hour weeks at TWO jobs paying me minimum wage. Second of all, it’s like every other place in the world: there are some areas that are crazy mucho doll-hairs, while there are more affordable areas. Third of all, read this article and make your own judgments on what freelancing means for the “typical” work industry.
  • Where are you going to get your water? I’m moving to Northern California w/ trees & greenery vs. Southern California w/ desert & hot hot sun. Of course, the North is beating the South in the war of precipitation.
  • They have medical marijuana there…can you get me weed?! No. Clearly, you haven’t visited a dispensary in Colorado or other pot friendly state…or county jail.
  • Are you and your boyfriend going to get married since you’re moving across the country!? No. N-O! What in the hell does moving have to do with marriage? THERE IS NO DIRECT CONNECTION. We’ve already been living together for 2 years, have had a beloved pet die, family member die, & shared ONE BATHROOM IN A STUDIO APARTMENT. Moving across the country will not turn on the marriage lightbulb in our heads. It’s still burnt out.

I may update this list as more ridiculous questions occur. But hopefully this post prevents any further stupidity from happening. Thanks, Friends!

Content with No Control

One day, something clicked. I felt a weight leave my shoulders, my soul. And now, I can honestly say that I am fully content with having absolutely no control in this crazy chaos of life.

This year has been a fast one.

I don’t remember what I did in January.

I don’t remember what I did in May.

I don’t remember what I did August 31st.

But, I do remember moments. I remember trying times. I remember wanting to give up. I remember wanting to quit. I remember wanting to walk out. I remember wanting to shut myself away from the world.

It’s the end of September now. There’s less than 100 days until Christmas. And soon, 2016 will be here.

But for me, my “new year” has already begun before the drop of that oversized disco ball in Times Square.

One day, something clicked. I felt a weight leave my shoulders, my soul. And now, I can honestly say that I am fully content with having absolutely no control in this crazy chaos of life.

I realized that I have spent too many days this year trying to control other people, blaming outside forces for my unhappiness, distracted from the reality that I choose my outlook on life, how I’m going to view each day.

Finally realizing that released so much anger, so much frustration that I was letting cloud my true self. I am no longer beating myself up for “not using my college degrees.” I am no longer feeling trapped to provide for 3 other lives in addition to my own. I’m taking control, not giving others the control. I am making the best of how my life has turned out.

I declared September to be a month of gratitude. October will be a month of giving my undivided self to the people and relationships that matter most.

November and December are probably the most hectic times of year for people, even more so if you work in retail (like me), but I am determined to make those months ones filled with positive intent, quiet moments, and full of laughter and smiles.

A quote I have always told myself in stressful times, is to “let go and let God.” And I think I am finally doing just that… it just be a little bit more of “let go and let Grandpa.”

One small positive though in the morning, can change the entire outcome of your day!
One small positive though in the morning, can change the entire outcome of your day!

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

One Line a Day

After leaving my career aspirations behind to try another path, is 2015 going to continue on a path of wellness and happiness or a new round of struggles and questions?

Last Valentine’s Day, Marty got me a book titled, One Line a Day. He thought it would be perfect for me since I’m so horrible at committing to blogging every day, let alone once a month! (I’m working on it…)

The point is to write one line about your day, per day. It has five spaces on each page for you to write your one line for the next five years. It’s genius, really. So, now that it has been one year since I received this gift, I can start to look back at my lines from 2014.

2015 is already starting MUCH better than 2014, I must say. I’m in a better place emotionally, financially, mentally…but something is still missing.

I have this hole that’s slowly growing inside of myself ever since I stopped regularly frequenting those radio station halls. I go back ever so often to fill in, but it’s not the same. I still have that gnawing in the back of my head that’s telling me if I don’t step up my game soon, I will lose my chance to ever break it into the radio industry.

I could be bitter and blame money as the reason for my departure from radio, but honestly it’s a bit more complicated than that.

Still…that drive, that passion to tell stories, to tell the stories of those unheard, bypassed, ignored…it isn’t being fulfilled. I no longer spend time trying to understand why I wasn’t picked to do this or that, or why I am not being called upon to help on this or that, because it’s useless.  It doesn’t build me. It doesn’t strengthen me. It just gives me an excuse to give up and to stop trying.

You grind in your 20s, that’s what “people” say. You grind in your twenties so you can build in your thirties and you can enjoy your forties. But what if I want to grind, build and enjoy before I’m 40? Is that possible any more? Or is paying your dues now extended by 5 years since the economy went to shit and companies are raking the rewards of cheap labor from college graduates, who are desperate to make it on their own, no matter the physical, mental or emotional cost?

So, how am I going to stand out? How am I going to grind, build and enjoy? How am I going to tell those untold stories? How am I going to fill my one line a day?