The thing no one wants to talk about

I walked into the grief counselor’s office and sat down awkwardly on the couch across from her. I stared at her for what felt like five minutes, before she asked me what brought me in. I told her about the loss of my father. She waited for me to say more before she asked me to tell her about my dad. I didn’t get more than a sentence or two out before I started crying. “I didn’t think I was going to cry,” I said as I accepted the Kleenex box from her. I told her about my father’s work ethic and how he taught me to work hard and be nice. I told her about the daily phone calls I’d get from him, about how they were always less than five minutes and about how he just wanted to check in and say he loved me. I told her about summers in the pool, family vacations to the beach, and the endless athletic events he took me to. The more I talked the more I cried.

When I stopped talking she let me collect myself. She smiled softly at me and said, “you’re sad.”

I don’t know why this made me feel better, but it did. Because you know what, I am sad. Sometimes we get so busy with daily commitments and responsibilities, that we don’t allow ourselves to feel what we’re feeling. I am no expert on the topic, but I think it would be helpful if we all talked openly and honestly about how we are doing and didn’t just say “fine” when someone asked. It’s okay to be sad and it’s okay to not be okay.

In an effort to “practice what I preach,” I wrote this blog post. I started typing this and erased it about 12 times before I let myself finish it. It is hard to talk about loss and it is even harder to talk about addressing it. But you know what? This is real. This isn’t a Instagram portrayal of life, where you see only the highlights. This is messy and honest.

As I got up to leave the appointment, the grief counselor asked me what I wanted to accomplish. She explained that sometimes people come in knowing what they want to accomplish. I told her that I wasn’t sure and I just felt like talking about my dad and what I was feeling. That is how I am approaching this post. I wanted to talk about my experience with grief and how I think we should be more open about it. I am not writing to give advice on what you should do in a similar situation (because let’s be honest, I don’t know what I am doing anymore than anyone else), but if by chance you are going through something similar, I hope  this made you feel a little less alone.

xoxo,

CC

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?

Make your work week better

Image

Yes we all love the weekend; a time to do anything we want, even if what we want is to not do anything. But weeks can drag on and become dull if you’re constantly looking at Friday as the light at the end of the tunnel.

So take a breath, relax and try to view the week in a positive light (not as a soul-sucking time gap before the weekend.)

1.) Make plans
Making plans during the week can help make your work week more exciting. Grab dinner with a friend or visit a community event after work.

2.) Exercise
Although it’s hard to want to go to the gym after working all day, it really is a good stress reliever. It’s easy to dread and talk yourself out of it, but it will make you feel better after.

3.) Avoid daily naps

I love naps and sometimes they are necessary after a long day or a night of little sleep.  But it’s easy to get in a routine during the week of waking up, working, and napping before going back to sleep . Try not to let the days blur in to one another.

4.) Go outside

No really, go outside right now. We sleep inside, work inside (most of us) and usually it’s dark when we get home. Getting outside for a little bit can be an easy way to unwind. Take a walk, read a book or do something less cliche-sounding.

5.) Call family, friends

Give family members and friends a ring when you aren’t able to visit them on a weekday. It makes the ordinary day better; so vent, catch up and talk to others. Who else will listen to you complain about an annoying coworker?  You’ll catch yourself smiling through the phone.

Image

Soul revived

I have been MIA for several days, but I have a good excuse – promise. I spent the past week soaking up the sun while laying on the beach, wandering around Tampa Bay, Fla. and snapping photographs with my cousin.

We celebrated her 26th birthday by visiting Anna Maria Island, Treasure Island, a fun winery featuring several different types of fruit-based wine, Kate Spade outlet (I found love in a purse), participated in a pub crawl and how could I forget the food. I had some of the best food I’ve ever had through Datz, Dough, Bella’s, Holy Hog and Colonnade while overlooking Bayshore Drive.

Not to mention this was my first paid vacation from work. I knew I was going to have a great time visiting with family but the experience was relaxing, fun and quite literally soul-reviving.

Here’s a look at some of the photographs. I hope to add more as I continue to travel in 2013.

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

What we talk about when we talk about being single

end

1.) Normalcy

We all know being a single twenty-something is perfectly okay, but there will always be people who don’t understand. I.e. the first two things I am asked when I visit my hometown are 1.) What are you doing now? (career wise) and 2.) Are you seeing someone special (Actually, no. I’m going on dates with a bunch of non-special people. Thanks, for asking).

We live in a society where going to high school, having a boyfriend/girlfriend, graduating high school, going to college, meeting someone, breaking up with high school boyfriend/girlfriend to have some fun with college said someone, graduating college, getting a job, marrying said someone, having kids, changing jobs, raising kids and later retiring is the norm.

Oh really? That’s the norm? So, allowing someone to gyrate against you to dance music in a bar or thinking the conversation with a stranger over coffee was way hotter than the intoxicated stranger telling you, you have pretty eyes, isn’t the norm?

2.) Time

You graduated college and you’re single? You have time. You haven’t met someone at work? It’s okay, you have time. You are about to turn 25 and you’re still single? You have time.

These comments are usually said with a fake smile and sympathetic tone suggesting they really don’t think there is time. They then mouth a quick thank you to the heavens becasue they aren’t single.

3.) Occasion

According to any beer commercial all we need to do is have a raging barbecue and an attractive, single, person will appear in a sundress or pleated dress pants paired with a polo. If this isn’t happening to you, you are doing something wrong. Guess I need to have a soiree with beer and meat to meet someone.

4.) Opportunity

I know you’re working 40+ hours a week, trying to stay in contact with friends and too tired Friday and Saturday nights to have a beer in the local bar or see a movie because you think you might fall asleep, but you’ll find someone. Hello? We’re busy living and trying to stay afloat here, let alone meet someone.

5.) Comfort

Wear heels, makeup, perfume and curl your hair. Don’t forget to shave. Brush your teeth or wear a flattering dress even if it means you can’t breathe. Smile. Flirt. Did I say smile? Bat your eye lashes. Wear deodorant, cologne and don’t talk about your ex-girlfriend/boyfriend. Every makeup product or axe commercial says this.

Nothing is worse than being uncomfortable.  Be nice and be yourself. And if it makes you feel sexier to work out and dress up? Do it. If you would rather stick with jeans; do it. If you would be more comfortable loudly slurping soup and being mean to the waiter, I’m going to step out on a limb and say don’t do it.

6.) Happiness

I’ll be happy when the guy I’m dating does ____. I’ll be happy when I meet a girl. I’d be happy if I met someone who likes Smallville and Superman as much as I do.

Whether you’re in a relationship wishing you were single, single wishing you were in a relationship, married, or happy with where you are; know it’s not me it’s you.*

*Kidding, friends, kidding. xoxo.

Motivational Monday

I was listening to a radio station recently and the announcer said a study has shown people don’t smile before noon on Mondays. Given, I don’t know where the study originated or if it has any truth to it, but what is it about the beginning of the week that causes people to have the Monday blues, be grouchy, etc.

Friday and the weekend are five days away so we might as well make the best of it instead of wishing time would speed up. It goes fast enough already.

Image

Dive deeper

Image

Seek new horizons

Image

Be your own compass

Image

Get a new perspective

Image

Take the time to read

Image

Unplug

Image

and don’t take yourself too seriously

Be nice, always: Advice from a fifth grader

Image

Today at work I was asked to retype letters from grade schoolers who won a county-wide essay contest. The winning essays are being published in our newspaper. The prompt asked children in kindergarten through sixth grade “What does giving your heart to the community mean to you?” Most of them talked about picking up trash and I was annoyed (Don’t get me wrong, picking up trash is a great thing to do, but after typing seven letters it. is. tedious.)

However, about nine letters in, I got to a letter written by a 11-year-old girl who had some advice to share and let me tell you, it was refreshing. She didn’t discuss picking up trash or planting a tree like some of the other papers did. She had some simple, very intelligent things to say. Some of them I’ll share below:

“Be nice to people and help people if they need help.”

“Make your town a great place to live in.”

“It is special to me that we do special things for people”

“Remember to always say nice things”

“Try to make today a better day than yesterday. You should think about that everyday… it’s also a good way of making friends.”

Whoever this girl is, thank you for being wise, even as a fifth grader. Being nice is important. Again, I know how important it is to volunteer and plant trees in the community etc. but it’s also important to be nice. To show kindness to others and help those in need. I’m going to follow this girls advice and try to make each day better than the last.

Ten moments in life that should come with a big, flashing billboard sign

photo

10 moments in life that should come with a big, flashing billboard sign.

10.) Santa Clause doesn’t exist. Okay, so I didn’t have a scaring Santa story. When I asked my mom one year if Santa was real she just told me the truth. However, some children don’t find out so easily…or as soon as they should.

9.) You’re favorite pet Tiger won’t live forever. If you have owned a pet or seen/read Marley & me you know how heart breaking the death of a pet is.

8.) You will have a lot of awkward, embarrassing first dates. They can be painful at times, but every so often someone can bring the color in your cheeks down from a bright red to a dull pink.

7.) You’re black focus isn’t invisible when going 10 mph over the speed limit.

6.) The thrill of living will not be gone after High School. John Cougar Mellencamp is misleading- even with his catchy tunes.

5.) Concert tickets are worth the splurge. Memories made with friends at a weekend of Dave Matthews is worth it.

6.) Meals are not worth the splurge. Okay, yeah it’s awesome to try the trendy new place where you can dress like a hipster and watch people cook your food, but at the end of the night you just ate/drank $50 of sushi/dessert/wine that could be in your gas tank.

5.) The 1 a.m. text to “watch” the new pensive Bradley Cooper movie “Words” really is a booty call. You might be trying to convince yourself he really is interested to hear your take on the flick. It’s a lie.

4.) You’ll lose friends. You’ll graduate, move and change. There will be some friends you don’t mind losing contact with and some you will mind. That friend who used to know everything about you will now be someone you simply have nice memories with.

3.)  You’ll find out your parents and brother are right. My parents are wise –sometimes I let them know that, sometimes I don’t. I find I seek advice from them a lot more than I did when I was younger and nothing can turn a bad day around faster than a reality check from my brother.

2.) Post-graduation is extremely difficult. You’ll find you have to make an extreme effort to visit the friends who used to live in the same city. You’ll find yourself spending Thursday watching Parks and Recreation instead of drinking $3 beverages at the local bar. Enjoy it, be irresponsible and after you graduate visit the campus as much as your wallet and schedule allow.

1.) You’re doing fine. Okay so this isn’t a specific moment – and fine, you’re not working for Vogue or married to David Beckham with 6 soccer-playing babies – but you’re doing a damn good job living. As creatures of habit, we’re constantly critical of ourselves. Breathe. Your friends and family will do anything for you. They will make you laugh until you cry, curse at the jackass who stood you up, they’ll be honest and together you will grow up.