29tolife

Just another WordPress.com site

Archive for the tag “finding yourself”

Switching Gears, Careers in Your 30s

There are certain moments when you realize you’re getting older.

Finding a grey hair or two or three.

Realizing the value and importance of a great bra.

Understanding that one more drink means you will need the ENTIRE next day to recover.

Feeling exhausted and replaying back in your mind how much you ran around like a crazy person in college from classes, to parties to internships only needing about two hours of sleep and not understanding why you still can’t do that now working full time and going to grad school. I haven’t changed that much, have I???

Having a greater interest in beauty goops, some of which “improve elasticity” and eliminate bags or “fine lines.”

Being able to purge your closet and pass on “certain types” of clothes to someone younger.

Speaking of clothes, more Ann Taylor, no more Forever 21. But not Talbot’s or Creekwater something or other… Let’s get that straight.

I fell out when I saw the Amy Schumer’s “Last Fuckable Day” featuring some of our most celebrated funny women like Tina Fey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Patricia Arquette. But there was something about the truth in that skit that made me look at my being 33 and how the world starts looking at you differently, even in your 30s. I look to gorgeous women who are 40 and above and I have lots of hope, but there are times where I do feel like in subtle ways you do start to become invisible.

I’m not sure what people want to do with women in their 30s. I guess most people think we’ve disappeared into the mom and wife world or we’re buried under loads of work at the jobs we are too obsessed with, clearly the cause of our single and childless status.

What also triggered these feelings in me was reading a recent article in Essence magazine. It was about shifting gears in your career and not being afraid to go in a direction you may have not expected.

I was happy to read the stories about these women, because I’m going through some changes as I transition from a journalist, editor, consultant to public health professional and I was looking for inspiration. It was so on time, as I keep finding that some of the jobs I’d really love, would pay me significantly less than my current job, that I fought so hard to negotiate a great salary for.

But instead of inspiration, I felt slighted and a little uncomfortable.

All of the women featured in the article were under 30.

One of the women, 29, was the oldest.

I immediately thought about myself, and my friends. And said, “Well damn. What about us?”

First, I’d like to say, those 20-somethings were pretty darn impressive, but it was interesting that the writer (who I presume to probably be in that age group) mentioned something like, “You shouldn’t expect to want to keep doing what you thought you wanted to do at 19 or 20.” Oh, I had a good hearty laugh.

I thought of my girlfriends who took some serious leaps in their 30s and how making those decisions to change careers have different meanings and implications at 30 and older.

I’m in full agreement with 20-somethings making changes and figuring out sooner than later what’s going to make them happy and make them money and make moves because they are more likely to have the freedom to do so because they are more likely not to have children, or own a home, or have a husband to consider when making job/financial changes. My dad gave me that advice several years ago. I don’t know what made him say it, but his voice was in my head when I finally took the leap to go to grad school. “You don’t have a husband, you don’t have kids. If you want to go back to school, do it. Do all you can.” And it was probably the best advice I had gotten in a while.

But I’d really like Essence to revisit the topic with older women, because the older you get, the more frightened you are to make career changes because you are thinking about fiscal responsibilities, and what that means for your family and the time you have to start from scratch putting in the time and hours required to establish yourself in a new field, taking a pay cut, working your way up all over again, despite being a seasoned professional in another field.

And while that’s scary, other women, especially older women should share how in such a risk, there’s a great reward. Sometimes age and wisdom helps women who change their careers navigate and define the early steps of their new career much differently than when they were a 20-something. We know who we are, we know what we don’t want and can better express that and set boundaries when we go into new situations. We have gained a command and confidence that took the last 10 years to really develop.

Sometimes these career changes for women in their 30’s and older are about quality of life, and not so much about money or moving up the ladder. Sometimes these career changes are more about working on passions and purpose.

I know these kinds of women are out there, because I’m one of them. I would have loved to see at least one 30-something or 40-something woman share their thoughts on career changes, especially if they were really established for a long time with one particular career path. So I guess that’s why I’m writing this blog post.

I don’t have to look any further than Facebook to see lovely women I’ve entered the journalism world with, to see them move on to other professions, or become self-employed and thrive. They are not only doing things they enjoy and feel passionate about, they are finding balance in their personal lives, giving back to the community and look as good, if not better than the 20-somethings. They are finally traveling to places they dreamed about when working all of those crazy hours because they’ve negotiated four-week vacations instead of just accepting two weeks automatically as they did in their 20s.

There’s some wisdom in talking to the 30+ set on switching gears, because that’s the time where you realize time and your sanity are far too precious to be stuck anyplace you don’t want to be, and you have enough experience to know about the ebb and flow of difficult and awesome times and life is a journey of highs and lows.

But what never gets old, even if we do, is the joy in the surprise of us doing something we didn’t think we could do and trying something new.

Advertisements

Funks, Shopping and Dream Intrepretation for Dummies

So after work, I treated myself to a nice sushi dinner (man, I miss my sushi half-priced happy hour place), and decided on a whim to go to the mall and treat myself some more.

I was feeling really funky and needed a lift. So, I found an amazing, flattering dress from Loft, a cute pair of shorts for the summer from H&M an awesome pair of pants that look like I tend to hang out at Bazaars in Marrakesh also from H&M, and the Jimmy Choo fragrance rollerball (when you want to be somebody else, sometimes just smell different) and my favorite French face mist from Sephora. Oh, and a lemonade.

It was a splurge. I can admit. But it was nice. When I got home, I took a long shower and burned incense and put on fresh sheets.

I tried to do all of the simple things I know make me feel good.

When I went to sleep last night, I had three dreams. But I remember two of them. In the second dream, I appeared to be on a college Real World-type show. I wasn’t really getting along with any of my roommates who all had two or three pets, which drove me nuts. I kept explaining over and over that I didn’t have a problem with animals, but they were too big and too many.

It seemed like I was the nerd of the group and the other girls claimed I didn’t have a big butt. I know those simple chicks were lying. But I did manage to connect with a very cool male roommate, who happened to be familiar with the area and he and I would sneak off and just visit the town and look at the old buildings. Something tells me we were in Louisiana or Savannah. The vibe was hot and humid and sexy and warm. There were gardens and old buildings, the pace was slow. He explained to me history we laughed and walked arm-in-arm. He made me feel not like the unlikable nerd of the house, but quite beautiful. I felt this energy rushing through me. He was calm and cool and he didn’t have to say it, but I knew he liked me too. I knew he wanted to protect me and show me a world greater than the one I was clumsily trying to navigate, frustrated and unsure of myself.

That’s all I remember.

The second dream, I was in Greece. That’s for sure. Me and a Howard classmate, who I currently admire professionally were racing through the streets in a tiny, yet powerful red sports car. I was leaning on his arm as he drove and we darted in and out of these massive columns and long-standing monuments of Greece. I hate when men drive too fast, darting in and out of traffic. But for some reason, I enjoyed this. In Greece, it was awesome. Again, I felt flirty and sexy and completely alive. I felt like I could feel every atom, every bit of water and oxygen and blood flowing through my body. Oddly enough, I knew the person I was having this moment with had to be a metaphor, because I don’t really see myself with this person in real life, but being with him in that moment, felt completely correct.

I woke up to one of my best friends texting me. Then I realized it was 8 a.m. I leave my house for work at 8 a.m. I overslept, I was late. Three days of rain. Three days of dismalness.

I found myself rushing around the house and managed to get myself together in a span of ten minutes.

The whole way to work (about an hour of driving) I kept thinking about those dreams.

In both of those dreams, I was totally in love. In both of those dreams, I felt safe with the person I was with. I was able to let go and let them show me new worlds and I was happy. There was something familiar about each guy, even though they were both different, but the feeling was the same. There was joy. There was an appreciation for the moment as it was happening. Nothing else mattered. I wasn’t thinking about the future, I damn sure wasn’t thinking about the past. I forgot about all of the things I tend to find wrong with myself and I let myself be the woman who those men saw.

But then I panicked while on my way to work.

What did those dreams really mean? What was going on in my subconscious? Was it telling me the kind of man I really wanted and needed? The kind I’m truly yearning for?

The other piece of the puzzle was how easy it felt when I was with those dream guys. Love was coming out of my pores.

I wasn’t questioning anything. It was just happening.

Anything they would have asked me to do, I’m quite certain I would have done it.

I had already had a tiny anxiety attack at work yesterday in which I had to get up from my desk and take a walk in the rain to calm myself. I couldn’t put myself through that again.

I nearly want to cry right now, because I was reminded, if not but for a moment how that felt. I miss that feeling.

I keep on tricking myself into wanting a mature, stable, practical love. A love that is safe.

But love isn’t really safe. Not all the time anyway.

Love is a fucking risk.

As we get older, we get less reckless. We are super aware of our limitations, and history and failures and success tend to dictate how we proceed. We take fewer risks.

We do that with love too. We train ourselves to believe all sorts of stuff to be with who we think we should, and to talk us out of being with people who we think we shouldn’t be with. We get lost.

Our pain, our pain, it messes with us the most. Fear of pain drives us to be horribly safe, and even with in the confines of the safety prison we’ve built for ourselves. We’ve managed to be just as miserable. We have no cuts, no bruises, no stories. Yet, we suffocate.

I am suffocating. Right now. I am. It’s hard to fall asleep at night. It’s hard to stay awake during the day. I ache to be free. I want to go away for six months, travel, write, make bad art, drink wine, make love. Sing in a band and do the bass player, then write a song about what a ho he is. Wear sunglasses and sundresses with no panties. Wear long braids that I can feel on my back when I get out of the shower and swing them around. Just live. I don’t want to worry about bills, or love or falling in love or getting hurt or being alone, or being confused and neurotic, or being lonely, or choosing the right path, or being better.

I want to be someplace else. I want to be somebody else, but still me. Sometimes I want to be the spunky little kid I was. Sometimes, I want to be the fierce teenager who did everything. She sang, she played sports, she served the community, she was a nerd. Sometimes, I want to be a college student testing out my independence, partying, staying up all night long with my new friends talking about ridiculous things, then serious things, then studying and achieving.

I’m at a crossroads. There’s who I was, who I am and who I’m going to be. It’s getting so hard to see sometimes who I’m going to be especially based on who I was and who I am right now. I used to be able to see it so clearly.

The Choking Kind. Joss Stone

Trouble Sleeping

I can’t sleep. I’m writing this post all riled up. I guess my bout of insomnia is a mixture of things. I was off today for Columbus Day and I basically stayed in my house since Friday evening.

I’ve managed to at least feel like I did something constructive, by getting some car repairs done and applying to two more awesome jobs. One of the jobs is with an organization I’ve applied to about four times now. Geez.

The anxiety of job-hunting is maddening. As the days go by, I find myself getting more and more antsy. More and more dissatisfied. My faith is wavering. I’m trying to pray more. My heart beats faster as I try to sleep. I’ve been sleeping with low classical music in the background to calm my psyche.

Something has to give soon.

Anyway, with so much time to myself, it’s horribly easy to get into a funk, ask yourself questions about what you’ve done wrong in life and watch “Dirty Dancing” then almost killing an entire regular can of Pringles over the course of two days.

I’ve been thinking over a bunch of things.

My career/path.

My romantic life. Ironically, one dude who I turned down last year has popped up to ask me how I’m doing. Another sweetheart of a guy, but I just didn’t feel that chemistry on my end.

Was it a reminder that I’m shallow and ridiculous and destined to be alone I am because I keep relying on that feeling I get (the same feeling I knew I felt but still wound up hurt in the end).

It made me revisit and text the guy who makes my blood boil, yet toes curl. He was still up for a little fun and the exchange of dirty messages.

But as I edge closer to a year of no physical lovin, I want it to be right. I don’t want it to suck. I don’t want to get emotionally reckless with the handsome, intelligent, toe-curler, who sends me mixed messages.

One of my good male friends sat in my living room last night, determined to help me at least get out of the house and see a movie and told me, my expectations for awesome sex after my hiatus is a horrible idea.

He’s probably right. I’m also glad that he brought a bottle of champagne. His champagne and conversation did help make me feel better. I returned the favor by making ribs and chicken.

I also thought to myself, I have a couple of close male friends I love dearly and I’m super comfortable with them. I can say anything and they are accepting, they see me as a lady still (I can be raunchy) and they always laugh at my jokes. They get me.

If only the men I’m attracted to were like my close male friends.

Back to the other stuff.

I feel like everything is changing around me so quickly, but the optimism I had as a young 20-something who can take on the world, has certainly subsided.

You couldn’t tell me no. I saved rejection letters from publications I dreamed of writing for.

Because I knew I’d show them all.

And there are some accomplishments I’ve had that totally certified and validated me and I’m so thankful for them. What a ride.

But what’s in me right now? What is inside of me?

I keep trying to push, but it’s been tough. I feel worn out. I don’t know if it is me getting older and jaded, or if that thing in me that motivated people to say yes, is gone.

How did I get people to say yes?

Do I have to start lowering my salary requirements?

I shouldn’t have to. I’ve worked so hard for years. I deserve what I’m asking for.

Can I find a balance between money, career, the business I want to nurture and grow?

Who are my allies? How do I build new ones?

Who and what inspires me? How do I ramp up the inspiration?

I was a little girl who told people I’d be president and I’d be in the White House one day. I did it as a reporter while an intern in college and then later on with another news organization.

I’ve got to find that person again. No is never an option. I say I’m going to do something I will.

In my high school yearbook, my footnote for my senior photo said, the world was going to read my words. They have.

Something has to happen. While I’m disillusioned with mainstream journalism, I have to believe my job that blends writing and health advocacy is just around the corner and that one of these several jobs in that area will choose me. It has to happen.

That’s been the pattern of my life.

About six years ago, shortly after wanting to step into four lanes of traffic because I wanted a few days in the hospital and not wanting to go into a job I hated, an opportunity presented itself. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted a break. I watched the cars whiz by, and I was so tempted to just step in. Folks think I’m so strong.

And when I tell that story, they are shocked.

But that’s just it. We all get tired. We all feel like our problems, our inadequacies, they are all too much. And even though fighting through it is the “right” thing to do, and what we’re supposed to do, sometimes the effort it takes to just stand, keep our eyes open and even ball our fists takes everything you have.

Sometimes the most absurd thing like stepping into the street and getting a few days in the hospital sounds like peace.

We all think these thoughts in some kind of way. It may not be as far as self harm or suicide. It may be staying in bed with the covers over your head and not going to work. It could be ignoring your crying kids, or eating fast food in your car alone. Sometimes, we just get tired. We don’t want to be responsible, we want to be selfish, because fighting through is too tiring. It’s too tiring.

When another job seemed to be too much but paid too little, and I paid for my gas with couch change and I went to sleep hungry because I had to use my entire paycheck for rent, an opportunity presented itself.

I’m not in as dire a situation as the ones I’ve mentioned, and I certainly don’t want things to get that bad, but each and every time, just before I was at the very end of my mental and emotional rope, a window was cracked and I got out to the other side.

I’m hoping that the way I feel right now. This weariness, this tiredness means I’m toward the end of the battle and that the change I’m looking for, the bright side I’m aching for is just within reach.

Keep Calm and Stay Busy

A humorous take on the popular “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan. Photo courtesy of youwerespring.tumblr.com

I see all sorts of signs and shirts and bookmarks that have a variation of that slogan, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Interestingly enough, it’s a British slogan from propaganda posters during the beginning of World War II. According to Wikipedia (I cringe at using them as a source, being a journalist, it’s a no-no) the phrase was thrust back into the lexicon and suddenly made a resurgence into popular culture after some woman unearthed some of the old posters from her father’s belongings and was featured on Antique Roadshow.

History lesson aside, it’s been everywhere and people have even made up their own funny versions too (there’s a tumblr page devoted to this).  It seems like this slogan is the recycled, classier version from our British cousins of “Keep on Truckin” a popular U. S. phrase from the 70s.

I’d like to add one to the list. Someone else probably already thought of it, because, it’s really simple.

“Keep Calm and Stay Busy.”

I have a friend who is a master at this. She volunteers, she likes to travel and visit her family and friends. The girl hardly sits still. She’s active in civic organizations; she’s just a busy little bee. She finds things to do, she finds me things to do and she lives hundreds of miles away!

I have noticed, that even when I pack my schedule, or I have a specific place to be at a specific time, I’m happier.

I’m happier because I feel like I’ve done something, that I didn’t waste time or brain cells.

I move more quickly and with purpose, I don’t hit the snooze button (as much). I’ve already thought of what I’m going to wear, and I’ll have it ready.

I’m more organized. Because, if you have a lot to do and places to be, you have to be more organized in order to do it all.

It’s perfectly fine to have lazy days to decompress from all the action. But it’s more fulfilling to fill your time with things that are important to you, your health, your spirit and your fun. By the time you take care of all of these areas, you will have a full schedule and a happier heart, indeed.

Your health: Having a scheduled workout at the same time, even twice a week makes a difference. I know people who schedule their daily workouts and they say they are at the point they feel like crap when they don’t work out. Their body notices it. I think I’m on week seven now of zumba twice a week for one hour. I may even start going to three classes, because I really like how I feel and today, I’m wearing a pair of pants that used to cut off my circulation. Those pants may still leave an indentation around my waist, but I can breathe, thank you.

Your spirit: If you are religious, having that set time you go to church to practice your faith can contribute to keeping your spirit busy.  Outside of worshiping with others, it’s good to sit down alone and meditate or pray privately. In addition to that, doing community work, or helping others also feeds your spirit if religion is not your thing. As I’ve found and my super active friend often tells me, once you volunteer to do things and you organize and do it well, somehow more people find you and ask you to help them too.

I’ve decided that I’m going to join the National Alliance on Mental Illness, volunteer from time to time and be an advocate for my mom and families who want to support the people they love. The outpouring of support from yesterday’s blog post, especially from fellow blogger, suestopford of The Happily Single Chick, really gave me the push I needed to do make this decision.

Also aiding in the efforts to stay busy for my spirit is the tee-shirt line I plan to launch at the end of this year or early next year. I’m planning an amazing photo shoot and I can’t wait to start working on content for the website. The whole vision is extremely exciting and I think it will really empower women, which really sends my spirit into a happy frenzy.

I’m going to an all day conference on leadership Saturday at Columbia University. It wasn’t so much about my job or my business, but it was about me getting more tools, and meeting new people even if that means getting on a bus early in the morning to go to NY from the DC area. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone and go the extra mile to do things you know are good for you and will help you grow. I could possibly meet an investor or a potential client who can take me to the next level or even just make a new friend at this event. I can’t take that for granted.

Your fun: All three of these things are crucial and I think all three can overlap, honestly when you come from a place of sincerity in all that you are doing. You gotta have fun. You gotta do things that you enjoy. Thanks to living social, goldstar, and meetup, I’m just trying things. I’m going to new restaurants and seeing shows and checking out concerts. Taking a class, whatever, opportunities are all over the place. I’ve even convinced my friends to go to a fancy high tea one day soon (never done it and there’s a historical mansion literally down the street from me that does one monthly!).

These things make me really happy and you have to make time and the investment to do them. I love spending time with my family and friends and it just makes me feel really good.

With that, despite my challenges and emotional things I deal with from time to time, I’ve got to take a page from my uber busy friend’s book and “Keep Calm and Stay Busy.”

Preparation, Opportunity and A Reintroduction to Me

I want something badly.

This came as a surprise to me because I didn’t realize how badly I wanted this particular thing until I realized how close I am to getting it.

They say success is where preparation and opportunity meet.

Opportunity, check.

Preparation, I’m all over it and it means so much more to me than ever before.

I’ve noticed something about myself just this week. Rewind to about six to eight months ago. I found myself saying to friends and loved ones that I wasn’t me anymore.

I was no longer that driven, over-achieving, kick down a door, make it happen,  just one more no away from a yes, girl.

It made me horribly sad, because I thought I lost that girl forever. I thought I was resigned to a life of accepting the bare minimum from myself because I felt I just didn’t have much more to give. At the time, I didn’t.

I can’t go into details about what I’m obsessing over right now but trust, when it goes down, a triumphant blog is to come. (If it doesn’t work out, an introspective one will probably appear.) And the thing for which I am so passionately gunning isn’t really the point of this blog, but the feeling that I’ve derived from this desire.

Being able to even feel what I’m feeling right now is almost as exciting as the prospect of attaining my goal.

But I will say this, upon recent events, my confidence in myself has been renewed and I’m feeling good about the future and the possible new directions it may take me in. Something was finally clicking in the universe, which in turn, propelled me to snap back into some of my old (positive) ways I assumed I lost forever.

Me going to the lengths I am going in preparation for the thing I want right now, would have been impossible months ago. I wouldn’t have had the strength mentally or physically. No way. Fear would have kept me in my bed with the covers over my head, I wouldn’t have dared to attempt this. I would have had a million reasons why it would never work and why it would be impossible.

Today, I see the possibilities. Even a few things associated with this dream that could be an inconvenience, I can see myself managing and eventually eliminating if I chose.

I’m paying greater attention to details, I’m refining. I’m even debating pulling an old school all-nighter fueled by Mountain Dew Code Red (getting conflicting information as to whether or not it is still sold or available) to study even more details of importance that can help me reach my goal.

All of this extra effort may or may not even be necessary, but I don’t want to look back and say I should have done more when I could have done more.

I’m a firm believer that when you are given an opportunity, you owe it to whomever gave it to you– God or human or both, to meet them half way by putting in the effort of honest, earnest preparation.

I’m not sure if I will get what it is that I want. I really hope so, but the fact I have regained the ability to feel this passionately about wanting something and to recognize this feeling and know this part of me hasn’t left for good, I’m relieved. I am emboldened.

It feels good. It feels right. It feels like me again.

Post Navigation