Sunday, April 8, 2018

I Did Barre For 30 Days & I'm The Same!... But Better!

Did I ever tell you that I was a cheerleader for a day?

Maybe it was longer than a day. Maybe it was a week. The only thing I can say for sure is that it clearly did not last very long. My best friend was a cheerleader, and I'd spend many Sundays watching her cheer at football games. I figured that since I was a dancer, I could also be a cheerleader. But... well, it didn't work out for me. Sports just were not my thing.

So it's pretty hilarious to me that I've recently started working in (and loving) the fitness and sports industry. Sports still aren't my thing. In fact, if you were to ask me what my favorite part of a Patriots game was, I'd say "buffalo chicken dip."

Anyways, here I am... in the sports industry... going through a manager training program. And part of that manager training program was taking on a 30-day FITNESS challenge.

My first reaction was “Ugh, no thanks.” Despite not loving sports, I've gotten into fitness over the past few years. Mostly that means doing yoga in my bedroom or going for walks around lakes and through the woods. I had no interest in taking up Crossfit, or going to bootcamp or joining a GYM.  I convinced myself that those things just “weren’t my scene” and that was OK.

Initially, I thought that I’d write it off since I already did a 30-day yoga challenge in January. But... that wasn't the point of the challenge. And really, that wasn’t much of a challenge at all. It was at-home yoga on my bedroom floor. Sometimes it involved lying on a blanket in the end. And sometimes I did it while also watching Parks and Recreation.

This challenge had to entail changing my mindset about a fitness activity that I had reservations about. Something I always wanted to try but was too scared. For me, that’s pretty much any group class… especially when by myself. But the one class I’ve always wanted to try but was WAY TOO SCARED was barre class.

I had this vision of super fit girls with high ponytails laughing with each other in their yoga pants that matched their sports bras. I didn’t fit in with those girls. My yoga mat is from Target and has my dirty footprints all over it. Those girls would all laugh at me when I couldn’t do the moves!

I had this hang-up about group classes, especially “trendy” ones, being some sort of exclusive club that I wasn’t allowed to enter. The only way I’d ever go to a class was if I got really good at it and then went to class and BLEW EVERYONE ELSE AWAY.

But that’s not the point of fitness classes. How does one get good at something they never practice? Do we expect to all be born NATURALS?

The actual challenge was to choose a fitness activity and do it for 30 days. It didn’t mean we had to go to class every day, but we had to practice in some way every day for 30 days. I chose Barre and Soul in Melrose because I always wanted to go there (I love the name) and they had an introductory membership cost of $79 which is pretty cheap. I made the goal of going to class four times a week for four weeks. In between classes, I’d do my usual at-home yoga practice to recover and stretch but also to keep using the muscles and doing some sort of activity.

Going to that first class was TERRIFYING. I was really nervous. In fact, I couldn’t even go to barre at first because I was still so scared, so I chose a vinyasa yoga class because at least I was familiar with it and could scope out the studio situation.

When I walked in, I was literally shaking but I just followed what everyone else was doing. I got a yoga mat, I got blocks, I got a blanket... I had no idea what all the props were for, but I got them because I wasn't going to be the ONLY DUMMY WITHOUT PROPS.

Thankfully, I was able to do the whole class easily keeping up with others in the class, and then some - blowing away my theory that everyone would be better than me and make fun of me. Nobody was paying ANY attention to each other at all. And, since we’re adults, nobody laughed out loud or said, “I can’t believe that girl can't do a standing split without a block!!!"

So I had a great workout and I really enjoyed the class. As soon as I left, I signed up for a barre class the next day. And sure, it was fucking scary. And I hesitated to go. And I wished I hadn’t scheduled it for after work because I had ALL day to think about it and pull out of it… but I WENT. And it was fine. It was a little scary, and REALLY FUCKING HARD and my thighs felt like they were going to fall off… but I did it.

And I went back. Again and again. And not only did I get more confident every single time (even though it was still hard), but I actually really started to LOVE it. So much so that I had a class scheduled and when I found out there was going to be a snowstorm, I canceled it and booked it for a day earlier so I wouldn’t miss the workout.

The goal of the challenge was to change our mindset and get more comfortable with growth. In order to grow, we need to step outside of our comfort zone. We need to hear what we need to work on, we need to try new ways of doing things, we need to take risks, we need to be more collaborative, we need to experience something new in order to stretch ourselves as human beings.

My mindset towards barre was warped and completely fabricated based on my own fear and insecurity. I’m so afraid of what people think that I’m holding myself back from great opportunities. I’m afraid of changing things, or trying something new, not because I’m afraid I’ll fail… but because I’m afraid of LOOKING STUPID. And that’s completely ridiculous.

Going to barre almost every day for the past month has been, I'm so sorry to use this word, but life-changing. It has made me physically stronger and given me a new party trick (holding a bouncing ball between my thighs with ease) (as you can probably tell, I don’t go to many parties). But it’s also made me embrace the notion of starting somewhere. We’re not supposed to be automatically good at anything. We’re just supposed to try our best, start somewhere and deal with the fact that we all look like idiots together with the hopes of eventually looking less like idiots.

I extended my barre membership for another three months and I plan to keep going 4-5 times a week. And honestly, I feel like a god damn BARRE WARRIOR for stepping out of my comfort zone and loving it.


So now, about 20 years later, I think I'm FINALLY ready to march down to the local baseball field-turned-football field during football season and become a cheerleader for Everett's pop warner football league!!!! See you soon, D team girls!!!! 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

This Is Your Brain On Drugs

For a very long time, for no particular reason, I was anti-drugs. But now I’m PRO-DRUGS! GO DRUGS!

I'm kidding. Except… you know what, another time.

I’ve been put on several drugs for anxiety and depression over the years. The first one was prescribed to me by my primary care physician who somehow couldn’t figure out that the constant pain in my upper back after eating food was related to gallstones (despite being a very common symptom), but she jumped at the chance to prescribe me medication as soon as I mentioned that I was feeling depressed.

I resented the fact that medication was the FIRST answer. I didn’t think my situation was bad enough and I thought it was a scary road to go down. I didn’t want to be on drugs forever. I wanted to find a more natural, long-lasting solution. But, I decided to give it a try regardless.

I also found a psychiatrist who took me off the first drug and prescribed me a new one within 20 minutes of meeting me. Again, I was annoyed, but I gave it a shot. Then I gained almost twenty 20 pounds in a little over a month. So, yeah, went off that one right away.

I was feeling pretty frustrated and my psychiatrist sucked, so I stopped seeking out treatment altogether. I started exercising more (HAD TO TAKE OFF THAT DEPRESSION MEDICATION WEIGHT) and trying to find “natural” solutions. It worked a little bit, but endorphins and self-care weren’t enough to tackle the Bowzer-sized disease that is depression. (Yes, that's a reference to Bowzer from Mario Brothers.) At least not until you can get it under control.

I eventually found a therapist I loved seeing. Oh, my God, I loved her. She wore maxi dresses and no shoes and had big, blue eyes and looked just like one of my friends. She was so hippie California and I loved it. I took notes after every single session. I cried a ton. She laughed at me, and that made me laugh too. I felt validated and silly all at the same time, which is really all I can ask for anyone to make me feel. I saw her every single week, then started feeling great within a month. I saw her every week up until I left Los Angeles.

And then depression hit me harder than it ever had in my whole life, and I realized that it was time to grab Yoshi or Toad (the obvious best players in Mario Kart), take the wheel and beat that Bowzer bitch in the level of Patty vs. Depression. (Wow.)

I talked to my new doctor and decided to give it another go. Since I had tried a few other times, I told her exactly why I was so hesitant, what I didn’t want the medication to do and what I ultimately wanted to achieve.

After a VERY rocky start that included the inability to get out of bed and not eating for five straight days, I was shocked to find success with this medication. I know it’s not for everyone, and I’m not sure how long it is for me, but all I can say is that I’m in a really good place right now and I’m thoroughly enjoying this time in my life.

I’m not sure if it’s the medication or general changes in my life, but my attitude has shifted and my mood has risen to ridiculous levels. Sometimes I’m so fucking positive that I can’t stand myself. So don’t worry… there’s still plenty of room for hate in there! I definitely don’t have that concern that it’s going to make me feel dead inside or change my personality. I’m still me. For better or worse!

I feel hopeful, energetic, CREATIVE, grateful, content, excited… all of those things. I used to be so anxious that arriving late AND showing up early literally made me sick to my stomach. Since I’ve been on medication, I rarely sweat the small stuff like that. I’m more confident. I’m more sure of myself. I’m just… better.

The reason I share so much about my battle with depression is that I come from a family where communication and expressing our feelings is not common. We’re true Irish Catholics who repress our emotions and let resentment build. We also tend to focus more on other people than ourselves. So, when I decided to start handling this situation, I constantly felt guilty.

It doesn’t help that when I was a child and asked to get help, my parents didn’t want me to because they thought they’d get blamed for my issues. (They still let me, they were just “joking.”) They’re not exactly wrong for thinking that because naturally that still comes up all the time. But I don’t entirely blame them for my problems. That’d be waaaaay too easy!

My (good) therapist was the first person to tell me that by focusing on myself, it would open me up to help others more. She also helped me realize that I wasn’t a lost cause. I truly thought that I was. I had almost completely given up on myself.

I know a lot of people who give up on themselves. Some of the closest people in my life have given up on themselves. They think they’re not worth it, they think they’re too old, they think it’s too late, they think the process takes too much time, and more often than not, they think they are unfixable. And that breaks my heart.

I’m not suggesting everyone start taking drugs, obviously. What I’m hoping to convey is that NOBODY IS A LOST CAUSE. It took me years and years to find a solution. I constantly gave up when it got too hard and I focused on short-term solutions instead. It was narcissistic for me to think that my problems were SO COMPLEX that modern medicine and an industry that has existed for thousands of years wouldn’t work on me. Or, that my problems were not good enough to fix with anything more than a brisk walk around the corner. I was so fucking complicit in being unhappy because I didn’t know any other way.

We’re all worthy of feeling happy and hopeful and full of creative energy. I literally never thought that I would. The medicine was just a push up the hill, not a solution, and it helped me focus on what needed to get done to make this last. It’s not easy, but I make it a point to focus on being the strongest person I can be, mentally and physically, every single day. And that makes me a better friend, family member, co-worker, coach, leader, etc.

This is all so gross, I know. I’m sorry. But it’s important to me. I never, ever thought I’d feel this content in adulthood. I know it’ll ebb and flow, but I hope I keep fighting the good fight. And that I can encourage the people in my life they’re worth the good fight too.

And that one should always choose Yoshi or Toad in that good fight. And no, that is not a euphemism for drugs. Well, Toad is. Toad DEFINITELY is.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

In Defense of Disney Princesses

I have noticed that it has become a thing these days for people to hate on Disney princesses.  It's typically a parental thing, where they're wanting their children to idolize people who are more worthy of idolization. I get it. Being a princess, for a girl, has a negative connotation. There’s a certain stereotype that goes along with it.  

For instance, when you’re a princess, you only receive your title by being born into or marrying into a royal family.  A family that provides you with everything you’ve ever needed to be provided for you. In royal families, women typically don’t have any power, or a need to work, or any significance whatsoever.  Typically speaking, of course.  So I do understand why parents wouldn’t want this to be the idol they present to their young children.

I also understand how it's a societal issue that girls are trained to like princesses and boys are trained to like superheroes and G.I. Joes and shit. I understand. But my sister, born in 1981, was obsessed with Sleeping Beauty and also had tons of Nerf guns and a bowl cut. And my favorite movies were both Speed AND Hercules. I think there could be a balance. We don't have to train young girls to act like boys and like boy stuff, or vice versa. It should be a nice balance of everything and less of a stigma if a child chooses one over the other. I digress.

ANYWAYS. I grew up with Disney princesses as my “people”... and look at me! I’m just fine!  The anti-depressant I’m on has nothing to do with the fact that Prince Charming hasn’t come to save me, and that I have to work for my own money… and… wait.  That’s 100% the reason.  Nevermind.  Post over.

Kidding.

I just don’t think Disney princesses are negative influences for young children at all.  I think they’re actually empowering! Yes, there is usually a man involved… but that’s just the formula that works. And over time, they have modernized and broken from the formula here and there.  But let’s face it… it works.  It’s the reason why the Hallmark channel is so popular from late October thru January 1st.

Let’s look at Cinderella.  She lost her mother when she was very young and had a great childhood with her father.  They weren’t poor, but they weren’t rich.  Then… he died.  And her stepmother moved into her house with her two daughters.  And they were terrible to her.  Not only were they terrible, but they LITERALLY ABUSED HER.  They changed her goddamn name to Cinderella because she was dirty.  And all she wanted was the life she imagined for herself when she was a child.  When she was free to make her own choices and wasn’t A SLAVE TO HER STEP-FAMILY.  So she happened upon a fairy godmother, and she went to the ball, and she met a handsome man… and she lost a shoe that literally would have killed her… actually - let’s talk about that for a second.  The glass slippers are actually the most problematic thing about Cinderella.  Nobody would ever be able to wear those!  

Anyways, so the prince found the shoe… and went to every house in town (where no two people had the same shoe size) and eventually found, and saved Cinderella.  Yes.  All true.  But, are we supposed to expect her to find her own way out of that situation? Was she supposed to sing some sort of, “And I Am Telling You….” before walking out on her family with zero consequences? She had a dream, that someday her life would be a little better.  And the moral of the story is this: No matter how your heart is dreaming if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.

Her wish was to be free.  And she found freedom.  So, kids, keep believing in the craziest of dreams.  Nothing is impossible.

Jasmine wanted more from her life and had a small request to not be forced into marriage by her father, and she got exactly what she wanted.  The Sultan even came around and changed the law so that women wouldn’t be forced to marry someone they weren’t in love with.  That’s one of the most modern tales we could ask for!

Belle had much bigger dreams than her small-town expectations.  Also, the most handsome guy in town (who eats dozens of eggs every day as if that’s a good thing) was into her, and she wanted nothing to do with him.  She was odd, she stayed true to herself… and she even saved her father’s life!  Yes, she gets with Beast Jesus at the end, but it had nothing to do with the point of the story.  Stay true to who you are, make sacrifices for the ones you love, and always make sure your teacup is an actual teacup, and not a cute little boy, before drinking out of it.

The examples could go on for days! Think of Meg from Hercules (who sold her soul to Hades in order to save someone’s life), Pocahontas (who showed John Smith that she was no ignorant savage… which is a MUCH BETTER version of the real story), Ariel (who had big dreams to accomplish more in life and leave her small town and grow human legs) and Moana... who was in line to be CHIEF OF HER PEOPLE, but was like, "Nah... I wanna swim!"

All I’m saying is that Disney princesses were a huge part of my childhood.  I loved them.  I owned every single Barbie version that I could get my hands on and made her have sex with the Prince doll from a different story. (Jasmine and Prince Charming from Sleeping Beauty were a hot item… also, my sister and I called him Todd.)  But I didn’t love these women because they were princesses.  Or beautiful.  Or rich.  

I loved them because they were bad ass bitches.  They were strong-willed, they knew exactly what they wanted, they dreamed hard and didn’t accept the life that was given to them just because that was expected of them.  They rose above every challenge.  They took risks, they put their lives in danger, they fought hard for what they believed in.  

Please don’t deprive young children, or girls in particular, of the magic of Disney princesses.  They taught me a lot about what women can accomplish if they follow their dreams, make sacrifices for the people they love and believe in the impossible.  All while being super strong warriors, and having a super adorable animal sidekick.

Friday, December 29, 2017

My Yearly Blog Post


The year 2017, for a lot of people, was a flaming hot pile of garbage.

Literally, everything has fallen apart. Most noticeably, the United States. What the F is going on? I started watching the news every morning and I'm realizing that I should just switch back to Hallmark Christmas movies and call it a day. I can't take the ridiculousness.

But, for some very strange and out-of-character reason, I’m closing out the year on a high note. On a Mariah Carey circa 1995 note. But, it was a long road to get here. A very long road. Like, months and months of endless road that seemed inevitably heading towards a cliff that I was going to fall off. And it was all my own god damn fault. I had a good thing going and I said, “You know what? Let’s trash this shit!” and threw my life headfirst into a downward spiral.

In January, six months after deciding not to move to New York from Los Angeles, I decided that I was completely unhappy. My anxiety and depression were at an all-time high (or so I thought!) and I wasn’t where I wanted to be career-wise, or for the long run. So, with a heavy heart, I resigned from the agency I was working at and set a date to move back to Boston to get my life together.

January went by in a blur as I wrapped everything up at work and hung out with Copper (the dog) (also my best friend in Los Angeles) as much as I could. I was so embarrassed about leaving that I hardly told anyone. I mean, there are some people I still haven’t told and I keep getting invited to events. So, for those people, I’m sorry to say I won’t make it to your holiday parties.

February was spent in a constant state of panic. Was I making the right decision? Was it too late to un-quit my job and back out? Was going to Boston in the dead of winter A FOOL’S MOVE? I was constantly sad. My last day at work was one of the most depressing days ever because I didn’t want to admit it was over. I left quietly and drank myself stupid and took the SADDEST, accidental Uber pool back to my apartment.

And then, like that, I was leaving. My apartment was empty. I sat on the empty floor of the apartment that I lived in for three years and hysterically cried. My sister suggested we go next door and get a drink (a flaming margarita, to be exact), and I continued crying. Then, we returned to the apartment, and I cried some more. Everything in me felt like I was doing the wrong thing. The mere fact that I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was leaving was a good indication that this was a mistake. I felt like a complete failure, but the worst part was that I didn’t even know what I was failing at. My dreams? My career? My friends? I couldn’t tell if I cared more about actually failing, or if I cared more about the way it looked to other people.

March and April were spent desperately looking for a job (and finding out that I may need my gallbladder out). I turned down one job and then received basically zero interviews after that. I was too cocky. I thought that because I worked at one of the top advertising agencies in Los Angeles, that I’d be a shoe-in for EVERY JOB IN TOWN. But… most people either hadn’t heard of the company or thought it was a fake name because it was also a weather description (72andSunny). Those in the advertising/marketing world had heard of it, but they didn’t care much. Also, at first I was trying not to go down the HR path… but eventually, I realized it’s all I could really do because I had spent so long in that realm.

So, there I was. Miserable because I was living with my parents in Everett, Massachusetts and not in my own apartment in Los Angeles… and having to deal with the fact that I’d have to be an HR Manager for the rest of my life. (When you’re down and out, you tend to think you’re going to be down and out forever.)

Finally, I got a job! I didn’t want it, but I got something. It was two steps back in my career, but it was something. It was in an industry I had no interest in being in, but… it was something. I told people about it, and everyone’s response was, “Oh! Huh… really?” So, yeah. It wasn’t the right fit. (I was advised to wear a suit to the interview. I didn’t. But I was advised to.)

And then, in a stroke of luck, I emailed my friend/mentor/former boss and told her I got a job that I wasn’t super stoked for. She somehow got me an interview at a reputable marketing agency in town and within a week (with only two days until my start date at the other job), I was offered the position. I finally felt relieved, for the first time in months.  

May was spent rebuilding once I started my new job. And once the feeling of relief faded away… a lot of other feelings took its place. I didn’t realize how hard it was to start over. Learning the ropes at a new place and befriending new co-workers when I missed my old place and coworkers SO MUCH was really, really hard. The company was great, the job wasn’t bad, but… I still couldn’t shake the feeling that I had made a huge mistake in moving home.

June was a pretty depressing month (probably the most depressed I was this year!!!! TAKE THAT JANUARY DEPRESSION!) while I desperately tried to settle into my new life and failed completely. A lot of things hit me at once. I missed my friends in L.A. and I felt that the friends I had in Boston had either moved or weren’t my close friends anymore. I left, and I changed. They stayed, and they changed too. Or, they stayed and didn’t change and we didn’t have anything in common anymore. I was so removed from their situations (that hadn’t changed in four years) and I had nothing to add any more. Therefore, I had fewer people to hang out with. Fewer things to do. And everything just kept pointing to the fact that I made a huge mistake.

By July and August, I was tired of it. I was so tired of being miserable all the time. I started traveling to get out of my rut. I went to Vermont twice, Los Angeles, Chicago, Provincetown and New York. I made it a point to do something different every single weekend so I didn’t feel stuck and sad and full of regret.

In September, something started to click. I was feeling more settled, less anxious and even, dare I say it, happy. I began a new antidepressant in the beginning of October that KNOCKED ME ON MY ASS at first, but once it started kicking in I really leveled out. All it took was a couple of days of eating absolutely nothing and being so exhausted that I couldn't get out of bed! No big deal.

I then went to Vegas and L.A. again and really started to feel like I found “my place” at my new company. I was doing yoga all the time and taking care of myself. I finally starting feeling like myself again.

Then, in November, I got recruited by a really cool company for an amazing job opportunity. I never thought I’d get it, but the conversations kept going really well. I was excited and flattered they even reached out but felt okay if I didn’t get it because I was happy where I was. Then I got it. And I couldn’t turn it down. And I’m starting in January. And I’m traveling to GERMANY!  And looking back on this past year, I just keep thinking - as corny as it sounds - everything happens for a reason.

I’ve been incredibly lucky in my life. The careers that I’ve been able to pursue and be successful in have been tremendous. I sort of can’t believe it. I’m sad to be leaving my job, but so happy that I was able to work there during such a scary time of transition. The role, the people, the place was exactly what I needed. And they’re SO supportive of my next role (which is a hybrid of my HR and improv background, believe it or not.)

I’ll always come back to the quote, “If you work hard, and you’re kind… amazing things will happen.”

They have. And they will continue to happen. And for that, I am super grateful.

So now I'm going to enjoy my last few days of vacation, reflect on the tumultuous and lovely year that is thankfully behind me... and learn more words in German because right now all I know how to say is, "Hallo. Ich mag Bier und Kartoffeln. Tschüss!"

(Hello. I like beer and potatoes. Bye!)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Do Scary Shit.

Last year, I lost a cousin to suicide. And it was awful, for obvious reasons. As someone who has dealt with depression for a majority of my life and had to navigate high school, college and embarking on a career… it really really hit home for me. Because I was there. I’m always there. There were days in my past (and if I’m being honest, there are still plenty of days) where I didn’t think I could go on.

It affected me pretty badly. All I could think about was how much life she had left to live, and how many good things are on the other side of manic episodes. But, I also understood too clearly what was going on in her mind. It sucked. So I wrote about it.

I had spoken about depression and anxiety before, and it’s not a super top-secret fact about my life. But I also think I confuse people because I have a pretty positive personality (most of the time) and laugh a lot and make jokes and talk to dogs like they’re humans and I seem happy. I wanted to share the truth and let people know that not only is that not always the case, but also that it’s something I live with every day. I limp through life because of it. Sometimes I’m happy, but I’m always depressed. If that makes any sense.  I just wanted to be open about it, wear my depression on my sleeve and let people know they’re not alone in it.

I was SO scared to hit publish. I immediately signed out of every social media app on my phone because I didn’t want to receive any notifications. I just wanted to get in the covers and hide. But, I also wanted to post selfies… so…. eventually I decided to get back on the horse. And when I signed in, I couldn’t believe the response. So many people were not only supportive, but were sharing their own experiences. I had more messages and comments than I knew that to do with (I would be a very bad professional social media person) and it literally made me burst into tears constantly because I was so moved.

Then, at work, people started asking me to talk. They’d ask me to go on walks and tell me that they’re going through the same thing, or they knew someone in their life going through something similar, and either wanted advice or just to chat about it. I had SO many meaningful, tear-filled conversations with people I knew well, and some who I didn’t know at all. I know it’s small, but it was one of the coolest moments of my life. It impressed me that something as small as sharing a personal story could impact and connect others so well. I never would have experienced any of it without allowing myself to be vulnerable and do something that scared me immensely.

There have been so many times in my life when I was afraid and then backed out. I was once interviewed for a job that was BIG and SCARY and I turned the job down because I was scared I wasn’t good enough. I didn’t apply to Emerson because I was afraid to have to audition, or submit writing samples. I was scared to end a relationship because I didn’t want to have a tough conversation, and because I was a little bit afraid of being alone and thought I might be alone for the rest of my life. And that’s just a smattering (what a great word) of examples.

This year, after leaving Los Angeles (primarily because I was afraid of the unknown), I just got so tired of fear running my life. All the best things that have happened in my life have blossomed from vulnerability. I can’t be opposed to change and want my life to move forward as well. So, therefore, this year has been all about saying yes to things that scare me. I’ve gone on dates, I’ve interviewed for jobs that I have no business having, I’ve socialized way more than I’d typically like, I’ve hiked alone in the forest, I’ve traveled a ton, I’ve taken on new hobbies and I’ve tried new things.

Not everything has been AWESOME.  In fact, one trip I went on was so difficult for me that I spent the night crying on my yoga mat in my hotel room… then I ate a bunch of candy and I don’t even LIKE candy. But, there’s not a single thing I regret doing. I don’t regret that one terrible date who thought paying for my dinner meant I should have sex with him, I don’t regret driving alone to Vermont listening to a Harry Potter audiobook, I don't regret reaching out to my old boss for help finding a job and I definitely don’t regret that expensive, last minute trip to Los Angeles just to see my favorite dog and eat dinner alone at my favorite burger place. (Eating alone in public is a very new thing for me.)

I pushed myself a whole lot this year. And it’s been incredibly rewarding. I still don’t have a clear vision for what’s next… but I feel a lot closer to it. And I feel a hell of a lot lighter. So, go out and do the things that scare you. NOW!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Time I Thought I Could Just Casually Buy A Car

Being on top of every single thing as an adult is nearly impossible. Every year, we are inundated with new adult things to do like "file taxes" and "have health insurance" and "take our dogs outside for walks." Every new job, we have to fill out W-4 forms and decide how much to contribute to our 401(k). If we're smart, we put money into a flexible spending account, or a commuter account, so we can save tax money on health costs and parking. But I'm not that kind of responsible adult. I choose the easiest routes, live paycheck to paycheck and figure it out as I go along. 

Which is why I'm going to share with you a cautionary tale about the time I attempted to turn in and/or purchase my leased vehicle having done ZERO research on turning in and/or purchasing a leased vehicle. 

Back story: In July 2014, I leased my FIRST (new) car from Honda of Hollywood on the lovely Santa Monica Boulevard. I signed the lease for 36 months and even though that seemed like FOREVER and scared me a little bit, I still drove it off the lot, blasting my music and feeling like a million bucks. Well, it's a Honda... so I felt like a cool couple thousand.

Rhonda (that's her name) has treated me good. In California, she brought me to Vegas (3x 2many), Palm Springs, Malibu... and work every single day. I lived about 10 miles away from my office and it took me 45-50 minutes each way to get to and from there. So, we spent a lot of time together on the back roads of Los Angeles... and the 405. In Massachusetts, she's taken me to Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Cape Cod and basically all over Massachusetts on my various excursions to escape reality. 

I knew my lease was coming to an end in August. When I first moved back, I thought "Well I'll just turn it in when the lease is up and then lease a new car when I need one." 

Then, as the impending doom of not having a car or a way to take the aforementioned various excursions to escape reality, I thought, "I'll just buy the car and finance it once the lease is up." That seemed like a good idea to me! I liked the car, it was fairly knew, had low mileage still and what did I need a brand new car for?  So, I called Honda Financial and they were like, "Great! Just head to the dealership and they'll work out the paperwork." 

"Easy peasy." I thought out loud in a crowded Target.

Then the end of July popped up on me like a mole from the once popular carnival game, Whack-a-Mole. I realized that I was going to be in Chicago for 3 days and then immediately upon my arrival, my friends were borrowing my car to drive to the Cape until I joined them on Sunday. I had one rainy Monday to head to the dealership and get it all worked out. 

I arrived at the dealership, eager to drive what would soon be 100% my car off the lot. I approached the guy at the front desk, flashed my brightest smile and said, "I'm here to purchase my leased vehicle!" 

He asked when my lease was up, I told him it expired that upcoming weekend. He stared back at me for a few seconds too long and then said, "I'll be right back." 

Except he lied. He didn't come right back. Another man came out to greet the crazy woman who didn't understand how things work. This man was the finance manager, or something along those lines. 

"OK, so you want to buy your leased vehicle? Why's that?" 

"Well, I've only had it for three years and I like it and I've only used 2 out of 3 years mileage wise, so I'd like to finance it and buy the car." 

"Why wouldn't you want to get a new one, or lease a new one?" 

"Because I like my car. It's still in good shape." 

"OK, well... we'd have to do an inspection. Which takes a while to set up. And then once we did the inspection we'd basically have to re-sell the car to you, based on the condition the vehicle is in. So, it's going to cost your more than the pay off amount..." 

And he said other things, but I stopped listening. Ultimately it can best be summarized as "Hahahahahahahahaha, no." 

Apparently there's a process that should start SIX MONTHS in advance of the end of your lease. You should schedule an inspection at least two months before. You should research other cars you might want. You should do anything and everything but show up to a dealer thinking it's EASY. But, just as I was about to freak out (which, let's face it, I still did) he told me that I could extend my lease. 

I went home in my still-leased vehicle and cried and got angry at myself. I even did a yoga video for "letting things go" so I was really in quite a state. Honda Financial was closed, so there was no way that I could figure everything out that night. So, instead, I spent the entire night feeling bad for myself and eating MSG-laden food. 

The next day, as early as I could, I called Honda Financial and asked them what I had to do to extend my lease. I had a pen and paper - and every document I might need - ready to go, assuming it'd be a LONG, ARDUOUS process. 

"OK, how long?" she said. 

"Um, what do you mean?" 

"How long do you want to extend? You can extend up to a year, but you could do less. Some people do 3-6 months. You could also pick 6 months now and extend later if you want, up to 1 year." 

"OK... how about 6 months?" 

"OK great. Done. You'll pay the same amount, the same way, every month. Same mileage. Same everything. Our conversation is done." 

Areyoufuckingkiddingme? 

So, basically, I'm an idiot. And I was really upset with myself for being so ignorant, not doing my research and then for getting so upset when it got difficult. There are going to be much, much harder days in my future than that. I was embarrassed. But, you know what? That's how we learn our lessons. Now I know *everything* that needs to be done not only when you near the end of your lease, but I know everything about registering an out-of-state vehicle as well. 

I know that research and planning ahead is your friend, that way you don't need to make any desperate decisions. I know that getting all your ducks in a row gives you peace of mind. And I know that breathing through the hard stuff is going to help me deal with it, not MSG fingers dipped in delicious ginger sauce.

Being an adult is hands down the worst experience I've ever encountered. But damn, does it feel good when you finally master it. Kind of. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thankful Little Letters


Last week, I was hanging out with a friend who I hadn't seen in a few months. As we got through the small talk - jobs, life, etc. - he told me that I never seem happy. That I'm always on the fence about everything and never satisfied. Immediately, I felt terrible because I don't want to be like that! I want to be happy! I want my forward-facing attitude (at the very least) to be hopeful and resilient, not beaten down.

Oh God, I'm Debbie Downer.

I've decided, for my own well-being, to start taking stock of the things that I'm grateful for even when I'm up-in-the-air about life. I might not be the happiest person these days, but I can be grateful for the little things that make my days so much better and my life worth living.

Oh God, I sound like I'm going to kill myself. I'm not!!!

--

Dear Boston in the summertime, there are times when you’re hot, but not humid, and there’s not a single dark cloud in the sky. When I walk around your cobblestone streets with my horrible ankles, find a seat on the waterfront, get too much sun and just zone out. Those days are the days I feel lucky to call this place my home, no matter where I live in my life.

Dear Yoga with Adriene, thanks for making me make time for myself and let me escape my brain for just 30-60 minutes every day. And thanks for making me STRONG AF.

Dear Ruthie, thanks for being excited to see me every day when I come home. Even though I know you'd eat me if I died.

Dear the song “Too Close” by Next, thanks for being the best song about public boners.

Dear blonde hair, thanks for being the best choice I’ve ever made.

Dear Hallmark Channel’s Christmas in July, thanks for existing. I know your movies are completely horrible, but your tried-and-true formula of a lady protagonist in constant search of the true meaning of Christmas really makes me happy. They also really make me feel like a great writer based on how bad the writing of those movies are.

Dear nail salon, thanks for reminding me that I can get a gel nail color change and not pay the full price of a manicure every two weeks. You’ve made me feel less guilty about my constant need for fresh nails. And thanks for always asking me if I'm "going out tonight" on weeknights. You think I have a much cooler life than I do.

Dear work travel, thanks for pushing me out of my comfort zone and allowing me to visit places that I love and experience them for the first time on my own. So many #dinnersforone.

Dear candles that smell like tobacco, you’re weird but I like you.

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