New Year, New Me... or Same Me, but Better

Buenos Diaz! Sooooo, it's 2015. New year, new me!!!! (That was for you, CAG). That phrase always makes me laugh. I will however be totally cliché and tell you that I am indeed so flippin' excited for this year (yes, excited). Know why? I will tell you. Then I'll throw in some caveats.

There technically isn't anything magical that happens at midnight on December 31st. At the stroke of twelve just a few nights ago, I didn't lose twenty pounds or inherit a million dollars. A tall, green-eyed, full-lipped drink o'water holding a stack of books and the keys to a private jet didn't suddenly materialize to whisk me away, nor did a publishing entity ring my phone at 12:01AM to tell me they'd like to forward me a book advance and publish my first work. I didn't lose all of my insecurities, my heart wasn't suddenly free from any and all hang-ups and I still had worries and fears just like everybody else. My sore throat didn't even go away! Those things *could* happen though. Could. That little sliver of possibility is thrilling. It's sinfully delicious.

We all know it by no but I'll say it again: I quit my mother effing job! I still can't believe I've done this. I'll be around until March but then shit is getting real, so I'm officially on the job hunt for something that will help pay the bills but be more in line with my passion while I pursue my writer dreams. This is a giant deal for me. I've worked for the same company since I was an intern in college which was almost 10 years ago. Ten years! Holy hell. I'm seriously insane for doing this but nothing has ever felt so right. I don't know what the future holds but I'm excited to find out. This change is welcome and supported by the most amazing group of family and friends. I'm lucky to be able to shake things up like this, which I recognize and celebrate every chance I get. Which brings me to...

This week I was reminded of what an absolute blessing a solid network of friends is. I started the week on a high, then it got a little low in the middle when I got inside my own head a little too much and allowed myself to feel some type of way about sharks, bats and girlish things. That little low feeling didn't last though, because I am surrounded by so much love and laughter that I have no choice but to remain hopeful, positive and appreciative. I have beautiful handwritten letters to read, photos to peruse and laugh over, memories to wrap myself in and smile about. Lucky me. Lucky, lucky, lucky me.

Pero... on the flip side...

While starting a new year feels like a great thing to get excited about, let me make something clear. Yes, I am excited. I expect this will be a year of personal growth and new beginnings. However, the things I'm looking forward to aren't blessings I expect to receive passively as they fall from the sky just because the "4" at the end of the date I've written for the last 365 days is now a "5." Like I said earlier, I was the exact same person on 12:01 AM on January 1st as I was at 11:59 PM the night before. So were you!

There is a lot of promise and opportunity for fresh starts with the passing of a new year, but this restart button everyone can't wait to slam so emphatically is symbolic and not literal. If you're taking this opportunity as a jump start to better yourself, to better the world or just try a new hairstyle: awesome! I salute you. If you're expecting miracles from a fairy godmother to just start happening for you with no active effort on your part- you es crazy. Bad things do happen and sometimes its hard to shake them off. I get that. Really, I do. I've been a resident of Hang Up City. In fact, I still visit from time to time. In the last few years though, I mustered up the strength and will to finally pack up and leave that sad little hamlet. I have good days, I have bad days. I know I've grown as a person though when even on the bad days, I can look around and recognize the pack of blessings light upon my back. You can do the same, I'm willing to bet. Try to remember that and look on the bright side- for most of us, it really will all be ok.

One last piece of wisdom I will attempt to impart will be this: just like you shouldn't expect magic and miracles on New Year's Day, you also shouldn't beat yourself up with so many goals and resolutions to the point that you forget to live. This involves treading a fine line, one that I'm not always so adept at traversing. One the one hand, success and results come to those who hustle and stay on that grind. On the other hand, it's altogether too possible to set so many goals for yourself and make so many to-do lists that you lose track of time, space and the beauty of real-time experience. You forgot to look around and smell the proverbial roses because you're so wrapped up in your plans. You forget to be here because you're so focused on trying to get there.

So. I vow here and now to view the new year as a symbol but not as a crutch or as a panacea. I am pledging to get my daily exercise and eat well; but if I want to cheese or wine or chocolate with friends, I'm going to have it. I want this new career and I will strive tooth and nail to get it, but I'll be ok with rejection when I face it with the help of my support network and will not lose sight of the value that is my entire journey. I will be open and ready for love and work on being more approachable, but will still just let it happen to me when and where it needs to and not view the world through a desperate or time-sensitive lens. I will sip slowly, savor every bite, laugh harder, feel deeply and perhaps even use my eyes, ears, nose and skin instead of my iPhone to capture more memories. I vow to enjoy my life more now than perhaps I ever have just by being more present. I hope that in 2015 you will do the same- not because you have to, but just because you want to.

Gaaaah I ended a sentence with a preposition. Sometimes you need to do that.

So, about this NYE celebration and these friends of mine..... that tale will have to wait until Wednesday.

Thanks for following, for reading, for supporting my little pipe dream. Here's to 2015!


Word Vomit, and Lots of It.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that today's blog entry may find you choking down the vomit induced from what you might initially perceive to be a contrived and banal attempt at introspect on my part. I kindly ask that if you've gone so far as to click on the link to get here, that you keep on reading. I mean you're already here. Stay awhile.

Today is July 18th, 2013. It's been a day like any other. I woke up, I went to work. I worked at work. Came home from work. I checked Facebook, checked Instagram. Opened my mail, ate some cheese and crackers. I started a new book, I looked up from the book. And then it happened. I started to think.

About what? Life (swallow the vomit!). This happens to me from time to time. Well, a lot of the time, if I'm being honest- which is what I said I would do with this humble little blog of mine. I'm in my head a lot, as the people who really know me will tell you. Today it started when I put on my "Pensive" playlist. Yes, that's what its called- any of my Spotify peeps can attest to that. So I've got stuff like this blaring in my ears:

- Temper Trap, "Love Lost"
- Coldplay, "Trouble"
- Macklemore, "Same Love"
- Florence + the Machine, "Never Let Me Go" (unplugged)
- Bloc Party, "Day Four"
- Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, "Stars"
- Carter Burwel, "A Nova Vida"
- John Mayer, "Belief"
- The Weeknd, "Wicked Games"
- Duffy, "Stepping Stone"
- Adele, "Hometown Glory"
- Bon Iver, "Roslyn"
- Lauryn Hill, "X Factor"
- Foo Fighters, "Everlong" (acoustic)

The list goes on, and there's no one topic or theme- it's not a sad, mopey playlist per se and it's not a list of heartbreak tracks (for that, you'll want to see to my "Ache" playlist). It's just music that makes me think, music that would play in the movie of my life in a scene where I'm staring out of a window while its raining and I have a glass of wine in my hand and am wearing a torn sweatshirt that falls loosely over one shoulder.

As for what I've been thinking about... like I said, about life. Specifically my life, and the people in it. It's the change all around me. A few people in my close-knit work family are leaving our team soon. One close friend just finished grad school, and one of my best friends is leaving for law school; 85% of my acquaintances and Facebook feed are either getting engaged, married or popping out their first born children. Everywhere I look, I see forks in roads and setting suns; revolving doors, new life chapters. Beginnings, endings. Choices, risks. Love, fear. Excitement, anticipation. Life.

So I look at mine. And I see... confusion. Not sadness, mind you. Let me be very clear in my assertion that this life I lead is rife with good fortune- family, friends, health, food, and a few bucks to spend on travel. But I'm not 100% sure that the pace, the inertia of my life is ... enough. When I get in these moods, I get restless and all I can do to assuage it is to write it all down. I decided that this time, instead of writing it in a journal, I'd put my thoughts in a more public place. It's a tad risky to put the contents of my overly actove brain where the world can see and scrutinize it, which is why I've been hesitant to write such a personal entry in the past. I fear being perceived as too self-indulgent, and you know, annoying. But I'm putting stock in the concept that there is catharsis in truly honest writing and that people respond well to genuine self-expression. So... here it is. Sheer and utter word vomit.

When I was younger, I was an obnoxious over-achiever. I had my hands in a little bit of everything because I knew there were places I wanted to be and being good at stuff was going to help me get there. I stayed up too late and studied too hard so I could set the curve and take home a college acceptance-worthy report card. If it was extra-curricular and looked good on a resume, I was there with bells on and likely got there 15 minutes early. I retook the SATs because my first score, which many envied, was not going to cut it in my mind. I took one more year of every subject in school than I needed to, which meant summer courses every year on top of my part-time job, and I practically lived in one of those AP testing booths my junior and senior years in high school. It all paid off when I landed a scholarship to my dream school, the University of Southern California. Everyone was so proud and so impressed with me, which I admit I loved. Everyone asked what my major would be and what I wanted to do with that, so I answered confidently.

Here's the thing, and I'm literally only being honest with myself about this at age 28- it was all a crock of absolute bullshit.

I wasn't lying- I meant it all the time. I really did want to be a physical therapist when I graduated high school; I'd volunteered for hundreds of hours at a local hospital and found the concept of improving and rehabilitating a life a heady one. I wanted to be a hero, wanted to make a difference like every sappy heroine you've even been annoyed with in a nauseating after-school special or Lifetime movie. Then I started taking those college courses and realized something: I was sooo hosed. I didn't really like science, it turns out. I'd apparently neglected to really think about the 24 letters of the alphabet between A and Z, the steps you take between getting accepted into college and teaching paraplegics how to walk again when no one thought they would. I freaked out, I talked to school counselors, and they all agreed I was in the wrong major. So what next?

I chose business school. It seemed like the next logical step. I could do whatever I wanted with business, right? When word got out that I'd changed my major, the "what are you going to be when you grow up?" questions resumed. Again, I had confident answers: I was going to open up my own restaurant, or possibly a dance studio. I might try to be a buyer for a major retailer or possibly go into the music business. Whatever I did, I was going to RUN THIS SH*T. And everyone seemed to agree.

But... I didn't. Not because I tried and failed- but because I didn't quite try to realize any of those pipe dreams at all. I claimed to have all these passions but couldn't seem to muster up quite enough passion to put all my eggs in one basket and give it hell. Instead I put just a few little eggs in the closest basket at hand took on a summer internship that led to a full time job in sales, which I was good at because I tend to find a way to be good at things on mere principle. I was promoted once, twice, and a few more times, changed departments a few times, got another pay bump here and there... and at the end of the day, I have nothing bad to say about any of that. I made some of my lifelong friends along the path I chose to pursue, created some amazing memories; I spent my early twenties gallavanting around the City of Angels, that giant ball of craziness everyone loves to hate but that stole a giant piece of my heart that it refuses to give back. I was happy to have a job that paid the bills and came with benefits and a 401K match. That I could also squeeze in weekend wine-tasting trips, nights at The Room and Zanzibar, USC football and the Getty made me more than content.

BUT. Where the hell did my passion go? I swear, I had it here somewhere. But wait, wait- more importantly- what the hell IS my passion? A few years ago I thought I was onto something when I made the bold move of leaving LA and moving back to my hometown in the name of all that "fresh start" stuff. I had one plan, then another, but again and again I found myself changing my mind. I've detected this pattern wherein I pick a goal, an activity, a path to pursue that I think sounds really cool, sounds impressive, sounds impactful and noble and worthwhile. But the passion, again, is lacking. Therein, my friends, lies the rub.

I've spent way too much time analyzing this "passion" shenanigans in the last several years, in particular because I've made a habit of surrounding myself with go-getters who are making moves, kicking ass and taking names at an alarming rate lately. In what I refer to (in my head) as my Fab Five of best friends, one is the executive director of a senior living residence in the greater Boston area, and she and her Harvard-graduate husband just scored themselves an apartment in my beloved Beacon Hill; one is off to law school next month after crushing the LSAT; one recently got her Masters in education and is teaching at a private school in Calabasas; one is really hitting her stride in the commercial real estate business and the last but not least of them is a counter manager and makeup artist for Chanel. Let me be clear- I feel no jealousy, only pride and appreciation of their formidable accomplishments. I am my friends' greatest champion, probably more so than some of them are comfortable with (yeah I'm looking at you, Batman). But all this movement inherently causes me to take a look at my own life's direction. I think after a lot of walks in the park and glasses of wine, I've honed in on what I think is my problem: I do not for the life of me know how to stop guessing, how to stop giving so much consideration to the concept of what I should want to do or accomplish, or what would be nice to say I achieved on paper. It only makes matters worse that I happen to work somewhere where I love the team I work with, where I have fun and have tons to keep me busy- it makes it so easy to stay where I am and keep doing what I'm doing. There is nothing wrong with where I am- it's just all very ordinary. For a kid who everyone expected to see sitting pretty as a CEO someday, this is a sobering fact.

Except for the fact that it isn't. Here's another big "aha" moment I stumbled upon in the last couple of years- I have zero desire for power or prestige. None. Itried to be that kind of person, and I pretended to be motivated by those factors for a long time. But the fact is, I don't want to be the one in charge and I don't care if I ever top (or even make it onto) the Forbes list. I just don't. Do you know how exhausting it is to fight that sensation? To constantly wonder where the abberation in your deoxyribonucleic acid is that makes you NOT want to be THAT chick? I do. But I'm done with all that. I've come to terms with the fact that my measure of success is not the same as yours, just as yours differs from the guy or girl sitting next to you. And what's more, there is nothing wrong with that. There really just isn't. I repeat that mantra daily, and it sinks in a little bit futher each day.

The other epiphany that I'm fairly certain NO one is surprised at but me is that I FREAKING LOVE BOOKS. 100%. I love to read, I love to write, I love to write about the things I love to read and love when people read (and enjoy?) the things that I write. The only thing surprising about that is that I've failed to explore these concepts further or really let the idea of them floursh in the light. I sit in bookstores constantly, and I have to touch the books. I find the smell of an old book comforting. I have the grand opening of the new library in downtown San Diego in my calendar with a pop-up reminder for the day before (you now, so I can pick out an outfit to be seen reading in). I carry my Kindle and iPad mini with me everywhere, because they're good for reading in different light and I'd die if I didn't have both within arms reach. I write in a journal that I also carry with me at all times- and yeah, my purse weighs about a thousand pounds. I light up when people want to talk about books. And this is not a new thing- I've explored my bibliophilia in this very blog. I've been this way since I was a child.

This is why I'm so annoyed at myself. I've spent all this time telling other people and myself that I've just never truly known what I was passionate about or what drove me, but deep down I kind of hate myself for knowing that it just ain't true. In so far as big life decisions, I've been afraid to take risks (well, in my career, anyway. In stuff like love and relationships, I go in hard and reckless!) I hate saying that out loud, because who wants to say they're a safe, boring person? But I really have been scared to admit that I want to write. I do write, actually. I just don't share it very often even though I tell myself all the time that *today* is the day I sit down and make progress towards becoming a published author. I'm not entirely sure why this is such a daunting subject for me, why the heck I find my passion a source of potential embarrasment or humiliation. Don't most people shout this type of stuff from the rooftops? Am I just wired wrong? Is it too late to rewire? I sure as heck hope not.

How appropriate: my "Pensive" list just played itself out so I hit the shuffle button on my "Hodepodge" mix. First song to come on? Beyonce's "Girls." Yeah. You can't make this stuff up.

That's all for now. Good night, world.