MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

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The (Supposedly) Neverending Tile Saga

If I ever had a doubt, the past few years have truly shown me who my real friends are. Have you ever had those friends so connected with you that they could read your mind? I do.

Throughout this whole renovation process, my friend Lee Ann has been a perfect Partner in Crime. Although I share her affinity for HGTV, she definitely has more knowledge, experience and vocabulary in her arsenal. (Yes, this actually IS my first rodeo.) If I attempted a DIY project of this magnitude, it would look more like a Pinterest Fail.

When I first chose the shower tile for the guest bathroom, we had no idea that it would be:
a. so delicate and
b. so difficult to find.

 

 

Previously, we’d ordered half of the tiles from one store and half from another, each time having the store check the boxes on hand for broken tiles and set aside the good ones. We thought everything was taken care of until 40 tiles simply disappeared. The contractor went to pick them up and no one could locate them. (I’m not sure how one minute 40 tiles have been counted out & set aside and the next, they’re nowhere to be found, but that’s neither here nor there… literally)

This week I decided that if we could find enough of the same tile, I’d like to re-do the remaining shower in the same pattern. At last check, the store in Goldsboro (which is about an hour away) had the most in their inventory, so Lee Ann decided that it would be a good idea to take a road trip and grab it so that my contractors would have it available right away if they needed it.

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Actual photo taken in Lee Ann’s driveway prior to leaving for Goldsboro

When we arrived, the staff member I spoke to hadn’t had a chance to go through the boxes on hand. Lee Ann and I made quick work of it. By the end, we had 39 intact tiles and 29 that were broken, but large enough to be salvaged. We ended up getting the broken tiles for 10 cents apiece! (Did I fail to mention that Lee Ann is a Genius?) And to top it all off, when she found out there were more intact tiles in Rocky Mount and her Dad would be going there the next day, she got him in on our little coup. Now I have 20 more tiles that were carefully delivered by Lee Ann’s awesome Dad!

I know, I know… This is way too much trouble, right? Why didn’t I just choose another?

The tile selection was absolutely pitiful at this particular Home Improvement store, but when I saw THAT style, something just clicked. It stood out from the others. I had to have it.

Had I known the EPIC STRUGGLE that would ensue just to obtain intact pieces, I probably would have given up right on the spot. But with my biggest cheerleader in my corner, anything seemed possible.

And it always will be. ❤

Officer Squirrel-Killer

Who’s ready for a good laugh?

I’m the newest member of the Citizen’s Police Academy!

Yes, I realize I’m not what you’d typically imagine when you picture a class of students in a “police academy” setting, but when I saw the write-up, something told me I needed to go ahead and do it. WHY NOT?

I’ve spent so many years letting the squirrels win.
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I made myself so unnecessarily busy doing all the wrong things for so long that I had almost forgotten what the right things were. This made me say NO a lot. Now, I’m saying a lot more YES, but my NOs have much more power and meaning.

I remember a time not so long ago when I worked for a modeling school. I’d been laid off from WorldCom (now Verizon Business) and it was the first viable job option that opened up for me. My parents wanted me to “hold out” for another job in the tech industry, but I knew my severance package wouldn’t last forever and felt guilty collecting unemployment. Even though I enjoyed the work, the environment was stressful. The owners knew all about business, but little about the industry. As soon as the “stage parents” learned I was there, I’d spend entire Saturdays sequestered in my office with a line of parents out the door.

When I started the position, I was engaged. Both my fiance and my parents encouraged me to quit straightaway and look for something else. They thought the job was beneath me. Even with the constant backlash, I stayed my course and threw myself into my work. My relationship dissolved. It became too difficult to come home every night to someone who didn’t believe in you.

One of the last events I attended for the modeling school was the Southern Women’s Show. This event happens every year and fills the convention center with women of all ages. It was my job (along with the new receptionist Joey) to gather leads for new students. Joey was flamboyantly gay and a LOT of fun, so between times of “doing our job” we would sample the food, participate in every demo that seemed fun (or ridiculous), and just walk around everywhere being silly and looking fabulous.

That particular year there was a hypnotist on the main stage giving a demonstration. Since Joey and I stuck out like two of the sorest thumbs ever, the hypnotist selected us to come onstage (along with 20 others). I listened to every word… or at least I thought I was listening. But the squirrels were way too strong to silence. I just couldn’t relax, not even for 10 minutes. I remember being so disappointed in myself as I left the stage.

The hypnotist said, “It’s okay. Some people just can’t be hypnotized.” I would have liked to believe that was true, but I knew deep down it probably wasn’t. It took that defining moment to make me take a step back and see exactly how bad it had gotten. The squirrels had taken over. I was panicked and nervous. I felt at times like the walls were closing in. It was hard to breathe. I couldn’t relax.

That Monday when I returned to the office, I did something I never thought I’d do. I quit my job without a backup plan, giving 2 weeks notice.

Later that same day, my friend Renee called and offered me a position managing the Smirnoff promotion at the amphitheater. She told me I’d need to hire on a few more girls for the Summer concerts, but if I wanted it, the job was mine.

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So I did.

Limitless (and the Pitfalls of Private School)

It’s natural to have doubts. We don’t start out that way. In fact, we start out trusting everyone. We talk to strangers, reach for the hot burner, don’t look both ways before crossing the street, attempt to stick our fingers in the light socket… (okay well perhaps not all of us, but we get the warnings regardless) We are born fearless and without prejudice. We know no strangers. We have no issues of weight or body image. We don’t doubt ourselves. Why should we? The world is a great big mystery to be solved and it’s all out there for us! And then… we’re thrust out into the real world.

I remember my first bitter taste of reality. My parents sent me off to Junior Kindergarten at a private school that required all students to wear uniforms. We couldn’t even wear our winter coats on the playground at recess because our school emblems needed to be visible at all times. That first day Mom also sent me off with a few toy cars in my pocket. As soon as I pulled them out at recess, they were quickly stolen by a girl named Mary Alice Askew. I asked for them back, she refused. I asked again to no avail. Recess ended and we were ushered back inside.

Class started, but I was still distraught over the injustice that had just occurred. I whispered to Mary Alice while the teacher’s back was turned, “Give me back my cars!” She snickered. Overhearing this, the teacher called me to the front of the class and asked what was going on. “Mary Alice stole my cars!” I said. The teacher then promptly collected the cars from Mary Alice, put them in her desk drawer and gave me a spanking in front of the entire class! I returned to my seat, car-less and mortified. This was the exact moment I learned that life was not fair.

I spent 10 years at that odd little school with its strange rules and stringent dress code. My Mother was under the impression that if I attended a private school, I would meet people of a higher social standing than those in public schools. What she didn’t realize was that many of the students at this school were sent there because they were kicked out of everywhere else. She also didn’t realize how badly I was being treated by my peers. I was never taught to stick up for myself, so I was bullied and talked down to probably more often than I even noticed.

Mom used to arrange after-school play-dates with girls in my grade who she assumed I was friends with. I wasn’t, and I was usually surprised when they told me they were supposed to come home with me. They were nice to me one-on-one, but when we got back to school nothing changed. Mom kept arranging these hangouts and I kept wanting real friends. I may have been young, but at least I knew the difference.

My teen years were painfully awkward. I was too ugly, too skinny, I’d never kissed a boy and I didn’t know what all the sex slang terms meant. If I wanted a guy to pay attention to me, I had to grab the new transfer student before he started hanging out with the cool kids and making fun of me as well. I wasn’t cool by any stretch of the imagination, so I just did my best to get through.

I found an escape through the world of musical theater and collected a handful of quirky theater nerd friends along the way. There was a great theater camp during the summer and I had started getting a few lead roles here and there. (All the while, my parents were hoping I’d switch gears and tell them I secretly wanted to become a Doctor or Rocket Scientist) One year, right before school started, I landed the role of Baby Louise in Gypsy, which required me to dye my hair a deep, dark brown color. The bullies at school didn’t miss a beat on that one. The prank calls about my hair looking like “excrement” started a few weeks before the show opened. Luckily that was about the extent of it.

But all of that never broke me. Sure, I had plenty of teenage “sequester yourself in your room-listen to loud music and cry” moments, but doesn’t everyone? And I finally found my voice. It took me a long time to learn how I needed to stick up for myself, but I finally have. My friend JD used to say that I had a habit of going from zero to bitch in 60 seconds. This was because I wouldn’t say anything until I was past my breaking point. I put up with all sorts of things that I should have nixed from the start. This comes from a history of self-doubt. When you experience so much unpleasantness, you start to question yourself and wonder if you’ve done something to deserve it. Then in later life, it takes a while to realize that it was never you at all. It takes a skilled eye to see through people.

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So I’ll leave you with this…

be-kind

They Walk Among Us

Have you ever had a friend you thought was so terrific you often wondered why they were still single? Or perhaps YOU are that friend. Evidently, I am that friend. I both relish and fear this thought for a few good reasons:
Sure, it’s very flattering to be thought of as such a hot commodity. HOWEVER, I always fear that things will not go well and I will forever be known as “that bitch who broke my friend.”

Flash forward to last night…

Recently, a friend has taken an interest in making sure that neither Lee Ann nor myself don’t remain single on her watch. Although, both attempts failed and each rendered its share of awkwardness, mine may have won the prize.

It started out innocently enough. A post-work drink at a bar near my house. The location was strategic in case I needed to make a quick getaway, but I didn’t think it would be necessary. What I didn’t know was that he was 3 beers in when I arrived. It’s possible that everyone on the premises knew but me.

He made a point to let me know that he liked my looks… A LOT and then went on to tell me how much he worked out, how great he was at sex (because evidently I needed to know right away?), how much he liked my swimsuit photos on Facebook, how much he loves golf and has a trip to Myrtle Beach planned for which he’s set a countdown timer on his phone (which he needed to show me of course), how he used to work for Microsoft (and after that could get his pick of jobs like he was some sort of wunderkind), and how he now works for Lenovo. Then he told me about how he travels all the time since he’s divorced and his kid is 18. He also made a point of giving me the exact figure he paid his wife in the divorce and probably expected me to flinch more, but I was too busy processing all of the nonstop braggadocio.

I almost did a spit take when he asked, “and can I talk about myself for a minute?” It made me wonder what it was we were doing before. Was I talking about myself? Nope. I told one story about one person we knew in common. Other than that, I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. He told me his work was sending him to Germany on Saturday. Then he asked me if I was seeing anyone else. Before I could even answer him he told me he was seeing a few different women. A FEW? Then he expressed a huge amount of disdain quite loudly that they all wanted him to take care of them. That was what he thought all the girls he dated had in common. Not that they were all pretty… or all blondes… or all tall… NO. He thought they all wanted him to look after them. This is probably news to those women.

After this loud declaration (which was probably the middle of beer 7ish?), he took my hand and told me he was taking me to Germany with him. He went on to say that I was buying my own plane ticket, but that we’d have steak every night and even though we’d be staying in the same hotel room I didn’t have to do anything with him. Good Lord, he didn’t even bother to ask if I was vegan! (which I’m not, but still… I don’t think it would matter much) And then he told me that he would need to work during the day, but I could go shopping. Gee… Like I need more stuff in my life. And to be held captive by this loon in a foreign country eating steak and wandering around by myself while he worked? Sounds like the premise for a horror movie.

When he excused himself and went to the bathroom, the two women seated beside me at the bar, the bartender, and the promotions guy from a Brewery in Fuquay who had watched him pre-game while he waited for me to arrive decided that they had heard enough. ALL OF THEM told me to run just as fast as I could to get away from this loser. They couldn’t believe the crap that was coming out of his mouth. They were appalled that he put a price tag on his marriage and told me he would probably put one on me as well. His repeated insistence even after my repeated refusal about the Germany trip, which was only 3 days away they found odd and pushy. They figured that he saw women as possessions, just as he saw everything else. He was big and important and owned everything. He saw no reason he couldn’t own me as well.

As soon as he returned, I glanced at my watch and remarked about how late it had suddenly become. I started putting on my jacket, an act which he tried to dissuade. I got up and started for the door. The 2 ladies beside me nodded and told me not to worry about the tab, they had my back. To be honest, I was really happy to see how women I didn’t even know would look out for me.

He was hammered. I let him walk me to my car, then watched him stumble away. I figured he probably walked back to the bar (which was the only reason I didn’t pop my head back in to thank the women and pay my tab myself). My friend informed me later that he called an Uber. She also informed me that he wouldn’t have been able to start his car because he had an ignition interlock device installed in his car. This would have been useful information to have known going in. Ugh, the Achilles Heel of all that bravado. Ridiculous.

Not Today Satan

Today is the day I find out if my house is slowly sinking into the abyss. I have an appointment with someone who is going to crawl under my house to inspect my foundation and supporting beams. A few years ago someone noticed an indention near the guest tub where the floor had caved in. A few years before that, the tell-tale cracks above a few entrance-ways began to form. Since all of my home repair knowledge came from my father, I believed him when he told me, “It’s just the foundation settling. It happens. I just need to put a jack under the house and jack it up.” To this day, that hasn’t happened. And due to my recent DIY and organization streak, the moment of reckoning is upon me.

I bought my house a year after my graduation from college to avoid “throwing money away on rent.” Because I was young and cared more about socializing, buying cute clothes and learning the newest makeup techniques… that’s where the majority of my time, effort and disposable income were spent. To be honest, I had no business becoming a homeowner. Then again, I’m grateful that I purchased my little pillbox house when I did because it’s about a 15-minute drive to just about anything I need. I’m literally in the middle of everything. Nowadays, people pay a small fortune for a luxury like that.

Some people go through life with a checklist. Car, College, Marriage, Dog, House, Kid(s)… My mother told me that I’d meet my husband in college. That never happened. After I graduated, I looked back, thinking I must have done something wrong. I hadn’t.

My parents had a few very rigid ideas about how I was to go about the business of my life. When I was younger, they never allowed me to have any pets except for the occasional hermit crab, fish or gerbil. I was allergic to cats, but dogs were out of the question. Although I was doing musical theater since age 7, art, writing poetry and music… my parents insisted that I get a degree in “business” so that I would have “marketable skills.” They didn’t want me to be a “starving artist” living under a bridge in a cardboard box, which was how they saw anyone who sought a career in art of any kind.

I’m on my second dog now. The first was a gorgeous Pekingese puppy I picked up at a pet store with an old boyfriend. I told him, “When we tell my parents, you gave me this puppy as a gift, right?” My parents eventually warmed up to the little fur ball. They even shed a few tears when he passed away after 16 years of being their precious GrandDog. Now I have a big fuzzy Australian Shepherd rescue. I think rescue dogs appreciate you more because they’ve been through stuff. Adopting that little fur face was the best thing I’d done in a long time. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be loved unconditionally. This little guy taught me how to love and be loved all over again.

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And as far as that “starving artist” stuff goes… I’ve been doing my best to make Mom & Dad eat those words. I still have my “responsible steady day job” that pays the bills, but I’ve been enjoying growing my side hustle. I signed up for this monthly box designed for female entrepreneurs and found out today that the curator lives in the Charlotte/Rock Hill area… only a stone’s throw away! I’ve been messaging with her since I’d been stumbling upon motivational content of my own. She just started her box business in December and it’s already one of the most sought-after on Cratejoy.

Nowadays people are finding (and fueling) their passions in so many unconventional ways. It’s possible to make a living doing things that the generations before us would scoff at. You just have to get out there and find out what really sets your heart ablaze. And be you, no matter what anyone else tells you, even Mom & Dad.

And Love Yourself.

Love Yourself

New Year’s Resolution #5839 – Stop putting other people first.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been the mantra recited in my head daily. I think it’s because I’ve been a people-pleaser since birth. But when you take a step back and think about it, it’s stupid to sacrifice your own feelings only to spare those of someone else. Most people can see through you when you aren’t being authentic… at least that’s the basic assumption.

All of this finally sunk in at the end of last year. I put it into practice. I was miserable, so I got out of my miserable relationship. I said NO to IT and YES to ME. I was scared to death of hurting him, but I finally convinced myself that my happiness was simply more important… not more important than him or his happiness. That’s not it at all. It’s just that for the duration of the relationship, I had been so concerned about him that I never really thought about myself. And for a change, I needed to think about what would make me happy.

I took a day and thought and cried and kept to myself. Before I knew it, I had an answer. I needed to get out of the relationship. So I put on my big girl panties and did it.

“Deciding is freedom. Indecision is torture”
– Jen Sincero
You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

I felt awkward and weird for a little while. Some days I even wondered if I’d made a mistake. Then one day the happy set in. I realized that I could do whatever I wanted again. I didn’t have anyone making demands on my time or watching every move I made via social media. The tightness in my chest released. My smile came back. I started making plans with friends I hadn’t spent quality time with in what seemed like ages. The smile became bigger. I started setting goals, creating budgets, making to-do lists, researching things I’d only dreamed of doing.

“It’s all happening.”
Penny Lane
Almost Famous

Now every morning I get up and look forward to my days. Even though most of them have been packed with the sort of homeowner minutia that makes most people groan with disdain. I’ve been kicking ass at work. (I even got an email from a recruiter about a job I would have given my eyeteeth to do a few years ago and even today considered shooting him a resume just for fun) I have a great side hustle and get to meet famous people constantly. The workmen destroyed my mailbox post? Meh, I got another. And the company was super-sweet in their correspondence with me, which made the entire process feel less daunting. Even the bad stuff seems good now.

This weekend I’m going to visit my friend Allison. We’re celebrating our friend Renee’s birthday with our friend Tracy. These are 3 of the strongest, bravest, most awesome women I know and I’m grateful to have them in my circle. Renee’s celebration also happened to fall the day before the K. Flay concert at my favorite venue in the same city. When I saw the concert announced, I’d lamented first because it was on a Monday and second because it was at my favorite intimate venue. It seemed impossible for me to be able to make that happen.

Then one day Allison sent me a text asking if I would come celebrate Renee the night before the concert. I immediately told her about K. Flay and asked if we could figure the concert into our plans. Before I knew it, I was asking for time off and purchasing concert tickets.

You only get one life. Live it the way YOU want.