Archives for February 2014

Thursday Ten: Where Reality TV Kind of Invades My Brain edition (Oh. And New Job.)

1. Things I’ve thought while watching reality television this week: Why did Adam Levine do that to his hair? He looks like he’s trying to sell me a car. Has Keith Urban always looked like Bryan Adams? Or is that Jon Bon Jovi? Who is it that Keith Urban looks like right now (besides Keith Urban)? How does Abby Lee have any clients when she’s such a meanie? I wonder how much those moms pay for all those dance lessons. (I blame The Princess for “Dance Moms” – it’s her addiction, not mine.)

2. I started a new job on Monday. So far, so good. I’m struggling with being the new person who doesn’t know everything yet. I’m told that this will pass.

3. Negative windchills are just unnecessary. This winter is unnecessary.

4. I wish I had some Dots right now. Except the pink ones. Nobody wants those.
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5. This new full time schedule means I’m on the hunt for some slow cooker recipes. I have NOT liked coming home and being crushed for time to hurry up and get food prepared. I want to relax when I get home, hang out with my kids. Not bust my butt over some subpar meal. So, if you have a crock pot dish you recommend, go ahead and tell me about it. MY KIDS ARE TIRED OF SANDWICHES.

6. After sending my beloved 24-70 lens off for repair (finally) it returned home this week. Sharp and lovely and fast again. I was only without it for a couple of weeks and the repair cost was less than I anticipated. I’m pleased. (Also, if you have ever packaged up a very expensive lens to ship via FedEx, you may know my panic. Is there even such a thing as too much bubble wrap?)

7. Is it the weekend yet? It has been so long since I’ve worked a traditional level, I’ve forgotten how to long for Friday at 5, but wait, I think I remember how now. IS IT FRIDAY YET?

8. Learning new things, nine hours a day for days on end? Tiring. Not enough coffee or green tea. Zzzzzz….

9. Sometimes when I click through to read an article that ends up being particularly stupid, I wish I could have a take-back and get back my time and take my page view back from their stats.

10. What has been the best part of your week? I’m asking a) because I care and b) because I’m too tired to come up with a tenth thing because OY THIS WEEK. Anyway, tell me about you. How’s your week?

And so a new chapter is set to begin.

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I haven’t been sleeping well – a fact that boggles my mind because I thought that now that I had eliminated a bit of the fear, my brain could quiet – if only temporarily – and my body could just blissfully rest and recoup from the past several months of uncertainty.

Turns out, that’s not how my brain works.

And I’m not really sure what it is keeping me up these days – aside from massive gusts of wind slamming into my house – perhaps I’m going to be operating from this place until I have the first day (week, month?) under my belt and I am in a groove and not in a place of the unknown.

I have no idea.

What I know is that a year ago, I was told my job would be cut to part time. It was then I really started looking for new work.

Last July, my hours were cut to 24 hours a week.

Just a few short weeks ago, I was told my job would be eliminated altogether.

And even as little as a week ago I had no idea just how long I could possibly be without a paycheck.

It’s been hard the past several months.

Chris told me yesterday how well I had done keeping my head up and remaining positive – and part of me (a big part) was incredulous because I don’t feel I did well with that at all. I felt like I was constantly on the verge of completely falling apart. To interview and interview and interview and have nothing happen. To want to work and do good work and have your job eliminated in a budget meeting. It has been HARD.

That it came down to having two offers presented to me on one day is absolutely mind boggling and I can’t even begin to describe the feeling that washed over me just getting that first phone call letting me know that an offer would be forthcoming. I knew then, no matter what happened at that next interview – I still had a reasonable solution. And when the second offer rolled in, I was absolutely gobsmacked.

I still am.

I know I know my stuff. I know I have value and worth. But a year of job hunting does some not so nice things to one’s psyche. You can start to feel unhireable. Worthless. Like a fraud. It’s awful.

And to be battling those negative feelings of worthlessness on top of wondering just how you are going to support two kids when you DO NOT HAVE A JOB…well, that kind of sleeplessness makes sense. Why am I not sleeping now?

I chose a job. I start Monday.

I am still amazed when I think about it – that everything that’s been hanging over my head will soon be shaken free. I will have a very nearly clean slate. It’s both a huge relief and it’s tremendously shocking at the same time. During a time when I’ve struggled so much for so long, I now get to let some of that go. It was feeling like I would never be able to.

I don’t even know what to do with myself.

Brene Brown has this concept she talks about, foreboding joy.

“Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience,” Brown says. “And if you cannot tolerate joy, what you do is you start dress rehearsing tragedy.”

Dress rehearsing tragedy, she explains, is imagining something bad is going to happen when in reality, nothing is wrong.

I caught myself doing just that today.

And because I now have a job and I have no immediate need to worry about all of the things I was worrying about, instead, my brain leapt to some virtually impossible catastrophic scenario, not unlike some crappy save-the-world action movie starring Bruce Willis. I mean, what is that even about?!

I have been on high-alert for so long that I’m not really sure what to do with myself now that the immediate worry is gone. It’s my hope that I will adjust to what is a new normal, and I’ll be able to get myself on track, enjoy my clean slate and stop waiting for the other shoe to drop…but it turns out that it may just take me a bit of time.

On Monday morning, less than two weeks after walking out of one office for the very last time as an employee, I’ll walk into a new office and I’ll begin. Hopefully as I adjust, I’ll be able to sleep again. I am hopeful that my new normal is one of getting by, and maybe even doing better than just getting by.

I’ll stop being afraid and start enjoying the moment I’m in.

I can’t wait.

Thursday Ten: Turning Tides edition

1. This deserves its own blog post but it’s Thursday and I am not yet ready to string all my words together but…yesterday, I received two job offers. Two different companies. Different pros and cons to each opportunity but ultimately, I was able to make a decision and accept one of the offers and I will begin on Monday and I…sigh…. I feel so tremendously relieved.

2. After the first offer, I went to the mall with a 40% off coupon and bought myself a super soft long sleeve tee from Banana Republic. Then? To Costco where I bought two gigantic jars of peanut butter and a bouquet of tulips. I’ve been in deprivation mode for awhile, not wanting to splurge or buy myself things. To shake that out of my head for a bit was a treat.
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3. Bingeing on Frosted Flakes may seem like a good idea in the moment but eventually, you’ll just have a stomach ache and your teeth will have a weird pseudo-sugary film on them.

4. Is there no quiz people won’t take? I now know what country star you’d be, what decade you should have lived in, where you should live, how many children you should have, what dog breed you are, and what washed-out 80s hair band rocker you are. Just…enough. Sometimes I think I should create a website that just had stupid quizzes and sit back and rake in the money.

5. I wonder what the divorce rate is for the couples on HGTV’s Love it or List It. It’s gotta be high.

6. Happiness is trying a new taco place and finding out that it’s pretty damn good. And reasonably priced. And has salsa that is OUT OF THIS WORLD. What I’m saying is, WHOOHOO I HAVE A NEW TACO PLACE.

7. Sometimes I’m a jerk. Caption on acquaintance’s Facebook photo: “You are the air I breathe.” Thought that runs through my head: “That’s lame. You are the air I breathe? Know what air I breathe? AIR. AIR IS THE AIR I BREATHE. Dummy.”

8. I’ve been spending more time on the treadmill trying to get back into running. It would probably translate into my pants fitting me better if it wasn’t for those stupid Frosted Flakes.

9. I have been filling my days with an obscene amount of things to do while I’ve been without work because I was afraid to sit still. Now? I wish I had been lazier.

10. In the interest of being lazy, can someone else fold my laundry for me? All of it? There’s like four baskets full and I don’t want to deal with it. Sigh. Ugh.

I may not have any money but at least my butt will look better in jeans.

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It’s been at least a week since I’ve had to resist cookie temptation at an office birthday party. Nearly a week since I’ve been held captive at a desk, chained to my chair all day. A week tomorrow, actually. A week since it was too cold to go outside during lunch so I stayed in AGAIN at my desk or reading in a chair tucked away in a corner.

I hate hate hate not having a job, not having a paycheck.

But y’all? I’m so busy.

Granted, I haven’t relaxed hardly at all this week. I haven’t truly relaxed since Chris and I went out of town for a few days and there was wine (see that picture?) and Game of Thrones and all of the napping (who knew I was so tired?).

But even though I’m hanging around the house, I find my days full.

Perhaps they are so full because idle time scares me a bit – I don’t want to think about things. And so to avoid stress I make these lists of things for myself to do.

Laundry, menu planning, grocery shopping, shovel snow, touch up paint on a mirror.

Chris mentioned running a 10K this spring and so the past few days, I’ve started to incorporate some running on the treadmill into my routine. I forgot how much running makes my muscles sing. It makes me absolutely miserable while I’m doing it, for sure, but I feel the fatigue in my legs – nearly every muscle, I feel it in my abs. I’d forgotten. And with these hours stretching long each day, I have time to spend a bit more quality time with my treadmill than I might have before.

It feels…good.

The past few months, and this past month in particular, have been brutal for me, stress wise. And it’s manifesting itself in weird stupid ways, one of them being my inability to resist an office birthday party cookie and my decreased likelihood of getting my ass out of my cubicle for 8.5 hours a day and so…

This movement, this productivity, feels like something even if that something isn’t going to keep a roof over my head.

I was able to run an extra tenth of a mile in my allotted time today – just a tiny bit more than Saturday but still, it’s progress.

The exertion feels good. The muscle ache feels good.

I hope that this period of unemployment is short lived. Interviews are lined up and I keep applying for work (OY DO I KEEP APPLYING FOR WORK). I hope that something comes of all of this soon.

And I hope when it does, I remember how good it feels to move like this, to challenge myself.

I hope I get to the point where I can actually run 10K.

Silver linings. How do they work? But that’s what I’m calling this, these fabulously sore muscles. A silver lining. Because otherwise, I dunno, I’d have to focus on that whole not having a job thing.

Thursday Ten: And It’s Time to Turn the Page edition

1. It hasn’t really hit me yet, I suppose, because if it had I am sure I’d be a sobbing mess of goo unable to function but: I am now an unemployed person. I jokingly referred to myself as a “lady of leisure” when talking to my mom after I left the office for the last time on Tuesday afternoon, but there has been no leisure thus far, mostly because I feel like if I stop moving, I’ll lose any possible momentum I might have.

2. But I have to believe there is something better waiting for me – if for no other reason than because Chris keeps saying so. What I know is this – now that I’m done, I have a blank slate and who’s to say what is ahead of me. I do feel a bit lighter. Still fearful but instead of anticipatory dread, I can deal with what I know, this moment I’m in. And I hope Chris is right. I am hoping to find an amazing job opportunity. Soon.
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3. So, Valentines Day is tomorrow. Love it or hate it, you can at least know this: Candy will be half off on Saturday and that’s good news, right?

4. Took the pup in for a long overdue grooming and now that I can see his eyes again, he looks perpetually sad. Somewhere between close cropped and Muppet is where I like him best. With 20 pounds of fur gone, he’s lost that playful puppy look. Now he looks so serious.

5. I admit it, even though I know the south is ill equipped to deal with this weather and I don’t wish for them to struggle, there is a part of me that thinks, “At least it’s not us this time.” I’m so over snow. Sorry, Georgia. Have fun.

6. Love the original. Love the JillAndKate cover.

7. I have to get a new job. I just don’t have the patience to drive through the elementary school drop off line every day because WHY DOES IT TAKE YOUR SECOND GRADER FIVE MINUTES TO GET OUT OF THE CAR?

8. The nephew had some jaundice last week and a weirdly timed doctor’s appointment that made our attempt to do portraits a minor fiasco. Today is a do-over! Can’t wait!

9. I’m…not really watching the Olympics. I caught a few minutes of pairs skating while in a bar on Saturday but that was pretty much it and I can totally live with that.

10. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a moment to catch my breath. I feel so busy for this whole “not having a job” thing. I’m scared to sit still. Gotta. Keep. Moving.

And now from the land of limbo

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It has been a chaotic and emotional ride these last few weeks and now that I’m in the home stretch, I feel a bit of relief mixed in with a great deal of WTF-ness.

It’s strange.

I drove in to the office for the last time today and I sit at my desk flipping through tabs on my internet browsers, hoping something will catch my eye. A note to potential future employers – usually I’m very much a “get things done” kinda person. But I did. I got things done and now there’s nothing left and so I wait for my exit interview this afternoon, after which I can walk out the door and figure out what the next phase in my life might bring.

I really have no clue.

What I know is this:

I have gotten through 100% of everything life has thrown my way thus far. None of it has killed me. All of it, I’ve made it through. This won’t be any different.

I keep reminding myself of this because right now it doesn’t feel that way at all. I feel hopeless and terrified and oh the uncertainty keeps me awake at night, and really that’s just an awful way to live. But I will. Live, that is.

I am bigger than all of this.

There will be new opportunities.

I am going to find a place where my awesome matches their need for awesome.

The other night, my daughter spelled out “Be Okay” in soup noodles on the counter, a nod to one of our favorite Ingrid Michaelson songs. It was a reminder, and a bit of hope, and a cheer from my kid on the sidelines letting me know that I would be. Maybe not today. Today, I sit at my desk eating delicious flaky pan au chocolat that a co-worker brought in to the office, I have shuffled paper around and I am clock watching. Today, what I want is to get home, put on my workout clothes and mock Jillian Michaels while doing the Shred (and thus fooling myself into believing I’ve worked off this pastry), “Why do we work small muscles with the big ones? Because they don’t burn enough calories on their own.” (Raise your hand if you’ve got all Jillian’s Shred banter memorized.)

I chose to make today my last day because the longer I sit here, the longer I remain in limbo. I’m ready for the next phase. I’d like the next phase to start now, please.

This economy is such that my case isn’t an oddity. This kind of stuff happens to people all the time. I wish it didn’t because it sucks. But here I sit.

Watching the clock.

Waiting for my new beginning.

Thursday Ten: #DieGroundhogDie Edition

1. Mother Nature is not winning any points with me this winter. I am fed up with her nonsense and I have been saying that for a few months now but THISTIME I REALLY MEAN IT.

2. February is usually the month where I’m so fed up with Michigan that I’m ready to bolt for warmer climes, but I’ve been feeling that way for over a month now,so who knows what February will bring.

3. It is good to know, when times are tough, that you have people cheering you on and wishing you well. Conversely, it’s disheartening when times are tough thatthere are those who still can’t seem to behave like human people. What I’ve found over the past few weeks that compassion is both in great supply, yet it is extremely rare.

4, That thing where you’re waiting for an important email and instead you keep getting emails from Victoria’s Secret and the Gap. Ugh.

5. So, I watched parts of the SuperBowl last weekend even though it’s not really my thing and you know I learned a few things: a) I don’t go all gaga over Bruno Mars like nearly every other person I know; b) I don’t rage about commercials, even dumb ones.

6. The Top Chef finale – did anyone else watch? What did you think?

7. Today? Newborn portraits for the nephew! I need some fun work after a gruesome week.

8. This week has TRULY been gruesome. Training people to do your job after you go? Man. It’s a bitter pill to swallow and I’m struggling with it. I have some very low moments sometimes and it’s tough because I cannot do anything about it. It just IS so I have to let go…if only letting go were easier.

9. Having a chance to spend some time with Chris this weekend will help. Our plans include not really having plans (yet making and eating amazing food). I’m looking forward to a bit of unstructured time to just relax and decompress together, to
10. New music from Ingrid? Yes please.

Oh no! We’ve got to go through it.

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I am coming up to my last days in the office and I am getting through as best I can – digging deep to find what I need to get through it all. A little patience, a little hope, a little something.

These are the times when I want to give up, tell them they’re on their own, turn my back. Ride out the days, not help them along, not train my coworkers to do my jobs after I go.

I want to leave them hanging but I can’t.

I don’t have to like this, and I don’t, however, I’m trying to rise above and maintain grace.

It means that I came home and sat in the dark for awhile. It means that sometimes I want to cry or break stuff. It means that I dropped the f-bomb in the office today at random times more than I have over the past few years.

But I will do what needs to be done.

I will leave with my head held high.

I was sent a chain letter email thing from a friend this evening and while I usually ignore them, I stuck to it this time because its point was to send the next person on the list an uplifting quote or poem. After some thought, I sent a line from the children’s book, “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”

We can’t get over it,
We can’t get under it,
Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!

So that’s what I’m doing.

Just trying to get through it.

One step in front of the other and work my way through until it’s over. I’m ready for this to be over.

We Ushered in the Year of the Horse AND a Baby

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Part of me wonders if my nephew had this sense while kicking back in his warm amniotic fluid bath that his Aunt Sarah was blogging about how it seems like HE WILL NEVER GET HERE and then he got here right quick.

My sister’s pregnancies have a way of putting my life on hold, something I don’t totally mind — I loved being there when my niece was born, and couldn’t fathom not being there to welcome her baby brother. I skipped trips. I kept myself to one glass of wine in case I needed to unexpectedly drive to the hospital. And the sleep. I… stopped sleeping. I was so afraid that the phone would ring in the middle of the night and I’d be in such a deep sleep that I’d miss the call, miss the birth, miss everything. That would be awful.

So I was pleased when my sister’s doctor said they were going to schedule an induction — an actual time to plan around? Awesome.

Except the hospital said, “Nope. Nuh uh. We’re too busy. You can have your baby neeeeeext week.”


My sis was already looking kinda big, they all speculated that she’d be having a big baby. She went to the hospital Thursday morning and the nurses sent her home saying she just had an infection, no baby, not now.

She was, understandably, devastated. So when I talked to her Thursday night (“The roads are bad. They are like, REALLY REALLY BAD.”) she told me not to worry, saying that she was NOT going back to the hospital until her induction or unless the baby was falling out.

And less than six hours later we were en route to the hospital.

There’s something about being on the road at 11 o’clock at night – the roads had thankfully cleared and were mostly empty. I arrived at the hospital, camera bag slung over my shoulder, excitement coursing through my body. Security directed me to her room – she was already dilated to an eight. Yes. This was it.

Someone had posted on Facebook about the Chinese New Year – how the New Year signified the end of the Year of the Rat, beginning of the Year of the Horse. I joked, “Oh, maybe he’s just waiting to be a Horse.”

It seems weird to tell the story of someone else’s labor so I won’t – only that my nephew was born shortly after 1 a.m. with a hearty cry and weighing in just over ten pounds. They immediately placed him on my sister’s chest, and I got to watch as my sister and brother-in-law met their son for the first time.

There’s an intimacy to the whole experience – the primal nature of birth, the first times a parent wrap his or her arms around their newborn, the faces they make, the coos and the way you get to witness unabashed love. The exhaustion and the pain fall away and all that’s left is this moment now, a new baby in arms.

baby love

He’s a beautiful baby boy.

And I have known him from his very first breath.

He is named, in part, for my grandpa and that in itself is bittersweet. My grandpa will never know this baby. Won’t get to hold him. Won’t be there to give him Tootsie Rolls when he comes over. None of that hit me in that moment – in that moment, it was all about capturing this beautiful boy, and his parents, and seeing this love, this amazing love.

It was on the drive home it hit me, but I didn’t cry.

I love that there’s this connection and this honor. I know how pleased my grandpa would be. He always said I should name my daughters after him. He was joking, but there’s a part of me that wishes I had found a way.

I cannot wait to see what he becomes.

I will wait to see what he becomes.

It’s exciting, isn’t it? A new life? A new person. Someone to get to know. My breath catches when I think of the honor of getting to  be there, getting to be among the first to welcome my niece and now my nephew to the world, to our lives.

I knew at the close of 2013 that 2014 couldn’t be all bad, because we had a baby to meet. I was right.