Too soon

I’ve avoided writing because writing makes it real, but more than that, writing is such a small act that will never properly explain the person you are and the difference you have made in my life and the lives of those around you. But, as you knew all too well, writing is what I do.

Too soon. Those are the words that come to mind when I think about the dad-shaped hole in my heart and life. You were taken too soon.

When someone is taken from you suddenly and unexpectedly, you think about the last time you talked and the last time you saw the person. For me, it was a phone call the day before you died and it was to tell you Happy Birthday and I love you. I mailed a card to you the same day, a card you will never open and a card I haven’t had the heart to open myself.

My silent hope is that with every time that we talked and spent time together you also heard the words that were there but not necessarily spoken – thank you for shaping and molding me into the person I am today, I am so proud of you, you have always been my hero, I will never outgrow the need for your advice, support, and tea recipe when I am sick, and I’ll love you forever.

For now, those are the words I have.

Love,

Your little girl

Why I was scared to take the plunge and why I’m glad I did

Whew. I’ve been in my new position for about a month and am happy to share that it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my career. I reread my post I wrote in early January (you can read it here) about the career change and it’s almost comical to me how nervous I was.

To recap, I left my position as a newspaper reporter – something I’ve been for the past three years – to accept a position in communications for a non-profit organization.

I won’t sugar coat it – I was scared. But I was scared for the wrong reasons. I was scared I would be unhappy; I was scared I would not be good at the new job and I was scared I would regret my decision.

After I thought about it, that scared feeling or uncertainty was for all the wrong reasons. I realized that I was scared I would be unhappy because I was comfortable in my job and familiar with what I was doing. I was scared I wouldn’t be good at the new job because I was good at my job as a reporter. I was scared I would regret the decision because staying in a situation is easier than making a change.

The reasons weren’t enough to stay and I am so glad that I took a chance on a new career. My new experience has been overwhelmingly positive and I thought I would share – in the event someone else is going through a similar situation – what can happen when you do take the plunge.

  1. You are treated as an equal
    I was never treated like a new employee. Yes, I had training, but my colleagues immediately treated me like an equal. They never once treated me like the new person who doesn’t know anything.
  2. Your ideas are valued
    On my second day, there was a large editing project. I expected to go into the conference room and see the process and then go back to my office to finish some training. They asked me to stay and help edit the proofs and give my feedback about what could be done to make it better. I gave some ideas and didn’t know if anything would come from it. They ended up making every change I suggested.
  3. You can have work-life balance
    This is something that I haven’t had for the past three years. Once I accepted the new job I realized that I was working each night until 7 or 8 p.m. and each Saturday until noon. I get to leave my job at the end of the day and actually leave work at work. I do not work or check emails on the weekend. This is new to me and I see now just how drastically important it is to have this balance.
  4. You will be challenged to be better
    In my position, I am very much part of a team. We constantly bounce ideas of each other and ask for opinions to make each project that we do that much more successful. The projects that I’ve done so far have been successful because of the help of the team. They have challenged me to do my best and be creative.

As you can see, it has been a positive experience for me so far. I am sure that there will be challenging days, but I already know after a month that I made the right decision. What about you? Have you made a similar decision or are you thinking about doing so? What was your experience?

What happens when you quit a job you like

I haven’t written about this yet because I wanted to give myself time to feel feelings and get some perspective on the topic, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this is going to be as good as it gets for the time being when it comes to perspective.

I recently accepted a job in another industry. I won’t go in to too much detail about the decision to leave my job, but what I will say is that the new position offers a little more opportunity for professional growth.

What made the decision even harder is that I really do like my job. I get to interview people and write articles for publication every day. In fact, it’s all I have known for the past four years. Since graduation, I have written for three different newspapers in two different states.

On Monday, I will start my job as a communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization. I will still get to write and interview people, but it will definitely be a new pace.

Although I am excited for the new opportunity, I definitely will miss being a reporter. I thought I would share some of the things that can happen when you give two weeks notice.

1) You will feel guilty

I understand that each situation is different and some people will not experience this, but in my case, I definitely experienced this one. Actual thoughts I had before quitting included: “this is awful,” “I could vomit,” “what if they hate me,” and “I’m going to let everyone down.”

I had to have a little pep talk with myself and remind myself that, it’s not personal. If you work hard, give proper notice, let them know you appreciate everything, then there is no reason to feel guilty.

2) It will be awkward

Everyone talks about giving two weeks notice and beginning the new opportunity. No one seems to talk about the two weeks you’re left working a job that you are about to leave. You have to be around co-workers who know you’re leaving and even if they are nice and encouraging, it can be an awkward situation.

I was talking with a friend and she reminded me that I was probably acting awkward myself, which was only feeding an already awkward situation. The next day I came in with a new attitude and it was way less awkward.

3) It’s normal to question yourself

Quitting a job, especially one you like, for a new opportunity can be intimidating. It comes down to a comfort thing. A job you know and like is comfortable and it can be hard to leave that.

I questioned whether I was making the right decision at least 12 times, but when I looked a the big picture and what I thought would be best for my career, I knew I was making the right decision.

4) Remember,  mother knows best

When you are feeling unsure about the subject, ask for advice. I did just that. My mother gave me some great advice when she reminded me that I’m not married to my job. Changing careers is normal and I won’t be the last to leave the company. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but it is a natural part of business.

I have one more week of work before I start the new job. I am sure I will continue to add to this list and write more about the new job in the future.

What about you? Have you experienced something similar or did you have a different experience?

I told myself I wasn’t going to write a year-in-review post…

…but then I did. It’s that time of the year when everyone has a chance to look back at where they’ve been this past year and look ahead to where they would like to be in the next year. Some people have very strong feelings about resolutions and keeping goals and even writing year-in-review posts, but as a rule of thumb my thoughts on the subject are that you should do whatever the hell you want to do.

So in a round about way I decided that I myself would take a look back at 2015. My resolutions for the year included writing more outside of work (check), running more (I did this for a solid five months before I stopped, that kind of counts, right?) and being smarter with spending aka making a budget and sticking to it (for the most part I did a pretty good job of this).

I also wanted to take a moment and look at where the last year took me. I spent a lot of miles on the road for work – 20,000 to be exact.

I took a lot of day trips by myself – including hiking in state parks, walking through museums, and exploring the canal and cultural trail.

I spent a lot of time with friends from beer and wine festivals to concerts and trips to the lake.

I spent a lot of time with my family including a week-long vacation to North Carolina. This trip was one of my favorite parts of the year and included a 13-hour road trip together in a mini-van, old school family vacation style.

I celebrated my 26th birthday with good friends by exploring the city and enjoying good beer.

I adopted a cat named Hank and he has quickly become part of my family. He has made himself right at home in my apartment.

I reunited with my college roommates for our college’s homecoming. It was a beautiful time reminiscing and making new memories and was the first time in two years we had all been back at the same time.

These are just some of the things that I saw this year and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am so very happy and grateful for my health and the people in my life. I am surrounded by wonderful, supportive people and although I could write about 20 more posts on this very subject I will instead simply say I feel truly blessed.

As 2016 quickly approaches I will again make resolutions. I do want to be healthier including just generally eating better and continuing to work out but besides that I’ve made some other goals for myself.

I would like to read more. In December I read three books in three weeks and was reminded how much I love reading and don’t make the time for it. This year I’d like to at the very least read a book a month and hopefully more.

I would like to travel more this year – and that doesn’t have to be a huge trip out of the country, it could mean a short trip to a different state or even a day trip somewhere.

This year, I want to get involved in a new group or volunteer. That could include joining a similar interest group and I plan to also volunteer throughout the year.

I would also like to become more acquainted to my city. Although I’ve done a pretty good job of this, there are several other things I could explore and do this year.

There are a few others I have, but I have a theme when it comes to resolutions this year. I want them all to be truly attainable – not some huge goal that is unrealistic. I feel that everything I’ve set for myself truly is possible and they all have something in common: they all involve continuing to push myself out of my comfort zone.

So here’s to 2016 being a year filled with hope, happiness and perseverance when things get tough. I wish you all a very happy new year.

What about you? What are you looking forward to and what resolutions (if any) do you have for yourself?

Work-life balance and learning to adult

Sometimes work consumes my life. I wake up at 6:30 a.m., travel for work, interview sources and take photographs and then travel home to write for a few hours. I repeat this throughout the week and sometimes even continue this Saturday morning to meet a deadline.

It really hit me that this was becoming a routine when I caught up with a friend over coffee. We each talked about what was new and as I was talking I realized everything I had to report was about work.

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I don’t usually realize that this is happening until I go to write the title and date on an article and it’s almost a new month. Time is flying by and it’s because I am letting my life revolve so heavily around work.

I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to have more of a work-life balance and because I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I thought I would write about it here.

Extra hours don’t always mean better work

Trust me I understand working at home after work. I do it more often than I should, but I’ve found that my work isn’t necessarily any better. In fact, I usually have to edit it or add something else the next morning. I took an honest look at the work I was doing and once I realized the extra hours weren’t really doing me any favors, I decided to put more effort in getting things done during the day.

Break the iPhone habit

Are you constantly checking your phone for calls or emails from work? I know I sometimes am. I hate the feeling when I am checking my work email for the 10th time and don’t even mean to be. If you can, pick a time in the evening where you won’t check on work. I personally try to avoid looking at my email after 6 p.m.

Make your schedule work for you

I find that I am more productive in the morning. I can’t back this up with stats or scientific facts, but I can tell you I feel more focused in the morning. I try to do everything I can in that time period and leave some smaller assignments for the afternoon. By doing this, I feel more productive and find myself procrastinating less by looking at a cat video or a clip from last nights Dancing With the Stars episode.

Find out what you can do to leave work at work

Do yoga. Hang out with friends. Play with your pet. Do something that you like. I was seriously concerned when all I had to talk about was work. I took a look at my past month and realized I hadn’t been hiking or to yoga class, which are two things that I enjoy that help me clear my mind.

Organize. Organize. Organize. 

I spent an hour the other day organizing my desk and my work bag. Again, I don’t have scientific facts to back this up, but it made my work week better. By taking some extra time to organize instead of throwing it all in a pile on top of my desk, I was able to focus my time on what needed to be done, not searching for that one paper that should be in that one folder.

While I’m all for women kicking ass in the work world, I know that I personally don’t want my career to be all that defines me. When people ask me what I’ve been up to, I would like to have something more interesting to say than “oh, I’ve been working a lot.” And while these might not apply to everyone in their careers, I hope that it helps.

Now when people ask me what I’ve been up to, I can tell them about some of the other things I’ve been doing besides work.

What about you? Do these apply to you? Do you have anything to add? Teach me your ways.

Girl about town: revisited

It’s been more than one year since I shared some things I have learned since I moved from my hometown to a big city. I wish I could say that I’m an expert by now, but I am still learning.

Here’s a look at some of the other things I’ve learned along the way.

1)    It’s okay to do things alone

In the past two weeks I hiked at a state forest, visited a farmer’s market and went to the movies by myself. I’ve quickly learned that sometimes if you wait for someone to join, you might be waiting for a while especially with busy schedules. There is nothing, I repeat NOTHING, wrong with doing something alone. I used to feel strange going to the movies alone; I was convinced that people were wondering why I was alone and then I realized I don’t care and neither does anyone else.

2)    Dating is not for the faint-hearted

After several less-than stellar first dates I have to ask, are these guys for real? Like, is there a hidden camera somewhere with a host about to jump out and say “Gotcha” because I’m not impressed. Did I ever tell you the one where the guy walks in with a  “shut up and make me a f*cking sandwich” T-shirt? Or how about the one where the guy shows up high and proceeds to eat a plate full of cheese fries? These are all things that have me screaming, no thanks.

3)    AAA is worth every penny

I have to drive around the state each month and in the last two months I have had to replace three tires. One of my tires blew out while I was driving and I had to pull over to a random side road and tell the operator that I was 15 miles outside the nearest town on such and such highway past some county road in an area surrounded by trees. I was genuinely surprised when they found me only 30 minutes later after that description.

4)    Adulting can be boring

I used to imagine post grad life as this glamorous and exciting thing that would be filled with non-stop activities, novel-writing and parties. And it can be. But a majority of the time is spent doing the small everyday activities like grabbing a cup of coffee, working, reading a new book, exercising and making dinner.

5)    Making friends after college is hard

No really. College is good atmosphere to make friends because you’re surrounded by people who have similar interests. After college you have to go out of your way to meet new people. Sometimes work is that place, but since a majority of my coworkers work out-of-state I quickly learned that I wouldn’t be grabbing happy hour drinks after work. I have learned that if I want to make quality friends I have to seek them out and participate in activities that I’m interested in, like a small group or volunteer effort.

Field-Trip Tuesday: Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

Who says adults can’t go on field trips? Because most of my time is spent traveling in a car for work, I try to make the most of that time. When I drive through towns that have a tourist attraction, local restaurant or museum, I try to make at least one stop.

Recently I visited the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis. And there was something magical about it. Works from the late writer and Indianapolis native were on display, but more than that the library is a cultural and educational resource that helps fight censorship and support language arts.

Those able to visit should do so as the curator gives complimentary tours. For those unable to see it in person, I’ll share some photos I took.

When walking in to the library, I was greeted by the typewriter Vonnegut actually used in the 1970s and the phrase “we are dancing animals.”

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Several of the author’s drawings are also on display around the library.

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After walking around listening to videos about the author and reading some of the rejection letters Vonnegut received, I reached my favorite part of the library.

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Visitors can sit over and type on the same model of typewriter that the author used next to the same style of lamp he used. I sunk down into the chair, typed my own message and sat there for a moment. It’s easy to see why many people enjoy visiting this library, especially this room.

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After that I walked around a little longer, I purchased a collection of his graduation speeches titled “If this isn’t nice, what is,” and then went back to work (so it goes). I highly suggest people visit it if they are able.

You have cat to be kitten me right meow

Several things have happened since I last blogged, but probably the biggest thing is that I have a new addition to my family. Yep, it’s true, I adopted a cat. A two-month tabby kitten to be exact.

And he is the best.

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I was expecting a playful kitten who would also like cuddling. I wasn’t expecting the caring and protective feeling I got once I brought him home. When people say they are fur parents, they aren’t kidding. I understand it’s different than having a child, but I also feel like I’m a fur mom.

I had pets growing up, but this is my first time adopting an animal on my own. After months of stalking the humane society’s webpage, I finally decided to visit the shelter and see if I found the right fit. I was convinced I wanted a female kitten, but after holding 6 cats – all of which were female except one – I fell in love with a male kitten named Baloo. It really was love at first sight. I renamed him Hank and two hours later he was home with me.

He has now been with me almost two months and I couldn’t be happier. He is already growing and by the looks of his ears and paws, he is going to be a big cat. If anyone is thinking about adopting but doesn’t know if it’s a good idea, I can personally say that it was a great decision and I can’t imagine not having Hank.

We watch TV together (while he leans against my head).

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We take selfies.
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We play a lot, which usually results in a nap on his part.

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Basically, I could go on and on about how great adopting a pet is. He has a big personality for such a small animal. He likes hair ties, playing fetch with small toys and attempting to drink water out of sink. He dislikes when my neighbor plays Shania Twain loudly, tinsel and spiders (like fur mother, like kitten).

I’m sure I’ll post more about Hank later, but for right meow that is it.

Until next time,

#catpunsforthewin

Hiatus interrupted

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It has been several months since I logged in to my blog and my last post was almost a year ago. I realized that I needed to take a little bit of a break. I almost deleted my blog, but something kept me from doing that. I played around with the idea of starting a different blog and tested it out, but that lasted about week. Instead of starting completely over, I realized I just needed to add more of what I want to add to this existing blog.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written a few posts about being a journalist and how sometimes it is challenging for me to write all day for work and then come home and write for fun.

I forgot the key word in that sentence is fun. I like writing. It’s something I’m passionate about and have been for over a decade. No really, I can remember writing short stories as a young child on wide-lined paper used to teach children how to write alphabet letters.

I like being able to write down my thoughts, even if I’m the only one to see it. In fact, as I write this I have another story to write for work, but I wanted to write a post on here first.  I just needed to be reminded that yes, writing is something I do for work, but it’s also something I enjoy.

So, in the spirit of getting back in the writing game, I am going to attempt to write a post each week from here on out. I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

I suppose I’ll get back to that story for work now.

Until next time.