Well, This Is Awkward...

Um...hey?

 

I haven’t written in over a year. Fine, over a year. Why? Because half of the time, I didn’t want to, and the other half of the time, I didn’t think I needed to. Not on here anyway.

 

Who the hell was I kidding? Writing is how I reflect. Some people talk it out; I typically write it out. I’m better at forming my thoughts in written sentences than spoken ones. I just can’t communicate that way. Not great, at least. I’ll do it, but shit, good luck, D. You blubbering mess.

 

It’s a lot of pressure to verbally communicate my thoughts and emotions to myself or someone else on the spot, then figure out what they mean and what I should do with them. So me not writing is how I bottle everything up. And then, my poor family and friends have to pick me up when I crash and burn. Granted, I did write a few paragraphs here and there (both typed and hand-written, thanks much), but there’s zero chance I’d share those here.

 

There was so much I wanted to express that I simply didn’t because ???. Now, a year and a half later, I don’t even know where to start, so I’ll start with what today is. It’s what compelled me to start typing anyway…and no, I don’t know where this will end up because I write to think, remember? So buckle up.

 

Today (now yesterday since I'm publishing this on the 26th) marks the one year anniversary of my yia yia passing away. My mom and I were her primary, full-time caretakers for the last two years of her life. I’ve written about the lows of that…adventure...for sure, but not so much about the highs; how strong it made me, how optimistic it made me, how empathetic it made me. It was the hardest two years I’ve ever experienced, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and hell, I’d do it all over again for someone I love. (Just please, not yet.)

 

Because that’s what love is. Sticking it out when it gets really, really hard. Putting someone else’s needs before yours. Doing things for them that will make you break just so they can feel comfort. Saying “no” to your friends so you can stay home on the weekends and be with them and take care of them. Because even though you might want to be somewhere else doing something else, you also don’t want to be anywhere else doing anything else. They’re your top priority.

 

Love is not, by any means, easy. It’s not something that just crawls into your lap and all you have to do is pet it to make both of your hearts feel warm and fuzzy. No. It’s not a damn dog. (Although, please gimme.) It’s an emotion, a relentless one, and it’ll exhaust you. It’ll turn you inside out. It might very well ruin you if you’re not careful. Be it family love, friendship love, romantic love, whatever love...love, itself, as a whole, is hard. But it’s as hard as it is beautiful.

 

If we didn’t have people to love, who would we be? Would living even really be worth it? And yeah, sometimes love can run you dry and make you numb, and you might lose yourself (or your cool) along the way. It might stress you out, and sure, you might spend some nights face-first in a wet pillow, but there’s no love that isn’t worth it. Every love gives you room to grow. All the challenges and hardships it throws at you are there because that’s what love does. It exists to challenge you. To push you to new heights. To make you see and understand parts of yourself you never knew existed, be them good or bad, ready or not. It’s not always going to be comfortable and safe. Love only ruins the people who aren’t willing to be challenged. For the rest of us, we become better people.

 

Time for a story for some full-circle perspective…

 

There were plenty of sleepless nights with yia yia when she’d call out in the middle of the night, and I selfishly wanted to pretend I didn’t hear her because I knew she would either a) ask me for water I knew she would make a dramatic fuss over because she stopped liking the taste of it, so I’d run up and down the stairs to fetch her every other liquid under the sun, all variations, with and without ice, until we’d ultimately end with water...and she’d react fine, b) ask to go to the bathroom, only to say she was too dizzy to go when I’d pick her up, then she’d say nevermind, so I’d lay her back down, then she’d call out 5 minutes later when I’d start to doze back to sleep to go to the bathroom again, but no, she’s too dizzy, rinse and repeat for the next two hours until I finally would make her face her dizziness and go (this was pre-bedridden-ness), or c) ask me a totally off-the-wall question that I was too tired and annoyed and frustrated to play along with. These nights drove me up a damn wall. I so dearly missed having a full-night’s sleep, ones with no interruptions, no defeating and maddening drama. I’d cry or punch my pillow in anger because it was draining and took a toll and I was fed up....but I never pretended I didn’t hear her. I always answered her calls. And no matter how delusional she was, no matter if she really needed anything or not, no matter how fussy she was, she always told me she loved me when I’d tuck her back in. Hearing her tell me that and having the chance to say it back was why I was always there when she called. Love.

 

Love never intends to bring out the worst in you or make you snap; it just makes you face reality and take a hard look in the mirror. So you can grow. Love never intends to make you feel small or defeated; it just makes you feel vulnerable. So you can grow. And love never intends to be cruel or maddening; it just can get ugly sometimes. So you can grow. All of that messiness is okay, because survival of the fittest, right? Only the strong are really cut out for the battlefield. It’s not for everyone.

 

Love has taught me all of this.

 

And for you, yia yia, your lessons never stop, even without you here...

Adjust to Readjust

I’ve been going through a lot of changes lately. Not sure if it’s just me being over analytic about being 25 for a month today, but I was an English major so finding the symbolism in everything is what I do. My next step is putting it into perspective, which I typically do here, so welcome to my head. It’s a busy place in there, so bear with me…

 

I haven’t written in a while from my last post (big shocker there), and a lot has changed since then. These changes have forced me to readjust, which is really the root of what I’m getting at in this post. Adjusting, readjusting, and then adjusting some more. Because the only thing consistent is change, so it’s something we’re constantly forced to do.

 

Adjustment periods can be rough, especially when we don’t even see them coming. They can be exciting, yet they can also be challenging and incredibly difficult. They’re also totally necessary for growth in the grand scheme of things. Let me try to explain what I mean without sounding like a babbling whack job…even though I probably already do.

 

Example: When Casey and I were in Thailand, we always told each other we just have to adjust, readjust, then adjust some more. Between the culture clashes, the language barrier, the school, being a minority, the diet change, the living conditions, the motorbike riding; everything required us to adapt to cope with what was in front of us. It was challenging and it was uncomfortable, but it was do or die, and quite literally in terms of figuring out how to ride a motorbike in highway traffic right when I bought the thing. (Disclaimer: Do NOT try at home.) It was all sink or swim. And since we refused to sink, we did what we had to. We adjusted, dove in head first with an open mind, and came out growing and learning so friggin’ much. This idea of adjusting applies to anyone whenever you find yourself going full speed around a life change or curveball.

 

Fast forward to now: In my last post, I talked about doing your thing without letting what people say or think stop you. I was at a point where I was self-conscious and insecure about where I was, even though I was doing everything I wanted to do. Soon after that, I went out west for a week and visited Portland, saw Dave Matthews Band for two nights at The Gorge (a dream that’s been planted in my head since I was 12), and also visited Seattle. While I was in Seattle, I was walking out of the EMP Museum when I got a text from a friend saying they had a full time job for me if I wanted it. I immediately said yes, came home for the interview, and started the next week. Just like that. I went on vacation and came back with a job. With benefits. Funny how things just fall into place, right?

 

Since I started working full time, I’ve felt like I’ve been finally coming into my own. I’m copywriting and doing web production for an awesome company, and everything about the job is right up my alley; it’s the ideal stepping stone. It’s been an adjustment getting into a more stable work routine than what I used to with freelancing, but I love it and I’m proud of where I’m at and where it might take me.

 

I also got the news from my good friend Monika that I’ll be editing her second book throughout the next couple of months. For those that remember the first one, This Year Will Be Different, get ready for a “part two” continuation! She’s launching the Kickstarter campaign for that publication in January, so everything has been really exciting on my work end. Which, I’ll be honest, is extremely reassuring.

 

However, with all the positive adjustments, some more personally upsetting adjustments had to give. That, I won’t talk about, but it’s been a difficult and emotional adjustment I’ve been wrestling with. Necessary and realistic, but hard nonetheless.

 

I’ve been realizing more and more, home and abroad, that nothing lasts forever and change is necessary for growth. Even before when I was so worried about what I was doing with my career path, that has completely changed in just one month and I’m reaching a new level of confidence. Meanwhile, new chapters begin as others get a plot twist.

 

Good things come to an end sometimes, and you just have to keep moving. Keep adjusting to adapt to what’s in front of you. Because it’s always sink or swim. It’s sometimes hard to juggle everything at once and you’re naturally going to have slumps, but tell yourself to get up, show up, and make moves to do what you need to do, aka ADJUST, and everything will be gravy in the bigger picture. You become stronger, you become more appreciative, and you realize that you’re capable of overcoming and handling more than what you thought you could.

 

Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. What you might need to do to reach that happiness or peace of mind may not be easy, but it will be worth it. (That said, don’t regret anything either.) For me, I feel like I’m getting my groove back (quite literally, thank you, Lotus therapy) and I’m falling back into being myself. I’m adjusting to focus on my future and I have my friends, my family, my job, my side projects, and I *always* have an upcoming concert ticket and a book to read. Amidst the adjustments, find your escape and your release. It’s absolutely crucial.  

 

Do what you have to do to take care of you and keep adjusting to make yourself swim.

 

I really hope that made sense…

Brace Yourself - This One's Dicey

WHY AM I SUCH A TERRIBLE PERSON? I hate that this blog sometimes gets away from me, but it just does.

I also hate that I tend to write a new blog post whenever I need to make myself feel better. It’s like I only feel really pressed to write publicly when I need to self-reflect and pick myself up. However, it’s necessary because I think what I have to share today will help pick other people up too who need it. Writing is my therapy, but if I can put myself out there while helping someone else, then that makes it even more worth it to write when I’m blue.

A dear friend of mine (who happens to live 4,000 miles away) gives me some of the best advice, so this post is actually dedicated to you, Monika. Thanks for taking the time to ask how I’m doing, to encourage me, and to tell me what to do to feel better about myself. Europeans just GET IT. AmIright?

Anyway, it’s times like these that you need to sit down and really think about all that you’ve done. The last time I spoke with Monika, she told me whenever she feels stuck or down on herself, she gets out a piece of paper and pen and writes down everything she’s accomplished. It’ll give you perspective on how far you’ve come from where you’ve started, and all the hurdles you’ve achieved will make you feel proud about where you are in the now, even if your situation isn’t ideal. Make yourself proud of yourself. You deserve to because no one else is going to give you that praise.

It turns out, my list is long. I’ve done way more than I thought I have, and it feels awesome to see it directly in front of my face. I highly suggest you make yours. You'll feel better right away.

And here’s another thing.... (Warning: This is where it gets dicey.)

People are going to be mean. They’re going to judge. Unfortunately, it’s just how life works. If people see you as an easy target, they’ll jump on the opportunity to bash whatever it is they can find to bring you down. To harsh your mellow, if you will.

I know I’m an easy target. I’ve never been outspoken or strong-willed. I’m known to be a push-over. I also live with my parents and I’m not doing as well as I should financially, although I don’t really see it that way. Success doesn’t happen overnight. Success also doesn’t mean dollar signs. I’m taking the steps I need to take and I’m excited for where I’m going, even if it’s taking me longer than most. People have a lot they can make fun of me for. Fine.

With all that being said, I’m also quite vulnerable at this awkward stage in my life. I take care of my ailing, 91-year-old yia yia who has completely lost her mind as her body slowly shuts down simultaneously from renal failure. This might not seem like something deemed as “difficult,” but that’s because some people are so selfish and self-centered that they don’t understand the first thing about taking absolute care of someone who has completely lost their independence. It’s a shit ton of work, and it really takes a toll on you. You wouldn’t understand unless you’ve been through it.

I’ve talked before about how uncomfortable your mid-twenties are, or at least, they have been for me, and how I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I’m in the right place at the right time. Still, we're all human, and I have my slumps when I feel inferior, vulnerable, inadequate, and essentially, like a loser, especially when I hear about people judging me…

“Her life seems so easy.”

“I wish I could go to all those concerts.”

“It must be sooo hard having fun all the time.”

“I feel like you’re always going somewhere, must be nice. *eye roll*”

To all these Debbie Downers and Critical Carls, let me tell you something. I’m twenty-freakin-four. It’s 2015 in America, and Social Security will be nonexistent by the time we’re old. I’m going to be working until I’m dead, so here’s my defense:

  1. I find it ridiculous I have to defend what I do in MY life to anyone to begin with.

  2. I’m making sure that whatever “work” I do won’t feel like “work” because it’s what I enjoy doing. I refuse to settle for a j-o-b that isn’t rewarding to me. I work for a start-up media company, and it’s challenging, but I absolutely love it because it’s EXACTLY what I want to turn into my career.

  3. I’ll do whatever I want to do because I can. I'm a fan of the idea of (responsible) reverse retirement: doing fun things now while you’re young and able before establishing a full time career, having a family, settling down, and, as mentioned before, working until we’re dead. It’s why I went to Thailand, it’s why I’m exploring the US, and it’s why I go to shows. (Live music is my escape for any and all stress factors in life, so that’s why it’s frequent. Some smoke, some drink, I jam. K?!) What I do is NONE of your business. I'm paying my taxes, aren't I?

  4. I do fun things responsibly. I plan ahead. Everything you “see” me do on Facebook is no surprise to me. I plan that ish out, work hard in the meantime, and then grant myself those breaks. Work hard to play hard. I'm a Libra; I NEED balance. I live three hours away from my boyfriend and all my friends, so yeah, I’m going to go see them when I can, and I’m going to make the time I have with them worth it before I come back into full-time-dementia-and-startup-land. Ever consider that? Probably not. When I come back, you're damn right I'm busting my butt. You just don't see that part.

SO LAY. OFF. Social media is so misleading because people, including myself, only post the good stuff. You don’t see what goes on behind closed doors. No one knows what my life, or anyone else's, is like off the Internet. So worry about yourself because you really know nothing.

Still, I get hurt hearing things people say about me behind my back and to my face. That’s okay. It happens, and as hard as it is for me to do personally, you have to let it roll. Silence the haters because honestly, they’re jealous, and misery lurrvvvs company. Don’t stoop to that. Rise above, keep your head held high, and keep doing whatever you want to do. It’s YOUR life; don’t let someone make you self-conscious for living it.

I kind of just word-vomited a lot here, so overall, walk away with these:

  • Take time to remind yourself of how great and accomplished you are. Make a tangible list, read it, and pat yourself on the back. Then, treat yo’self.

  • DON’T YOU DARE feel guilty about wanting to go play every now and then. I think people forget about the concept of recess. It makes all the difference. It's why it's in the curriculum. There's power in play.

  • People are going to talk and it’s going to hurt. Plain and simple.

  • No matter what, don’t let that negativity bring you down. You can be sensitive for a little bit, I’ll allow that, but then let it go.

  • Keep doing you. You get this one life, so do what you will with it because it’s YOURS.

 

Mic drop.

What's Been Going On? Good Question.

                                    

                                    

Whoaaa nelly, I forgot I had one of these things! I've taken quite the blogging hiatus, but I just figured I'd wait until...now? I guess? At 2:00 am. Because, writers, right?

I think I might've blacked out for the last several months; I seriously don't know what's been going down I've been in such a fog. I'm not even kidding, like, when did July even happen? I've obviously still been in constant Yia Yia land, which currently consists of updated hospital records (cue the precursory late night fun times), new doctors and medications, and at-home nurses and physical therapists in and out of our house. I'm just thankful my mom and I finally have the extra help and resources now because force feeding her and staying up all night long was getting really old. In addition to all the dementia/kidney failure drama, I recently dropped off my car for an oil change (and whatever that noise was) and walked away with...not a car. SWEET. And now, with this pocket magazine I have in my hand that has in printed letters "Staff Writer: Diana Joiner" and three articles written by yours truly, I don't know whether to laugh, cry, pull my hair out, or all of the above.

It's been a little overwhelming lately, to say the least. Lots of ups and lots of downs. I've been told to have patience in the process, goosfraba and all, but I have to admit, remaining calm and patient has been the hardest part of everything. Might I also admit that I was not expecting my mid-20's to be so...uncomfortable. I don't care what anyone says, I'm uncomfy. But maybe I do it to myself because I'm being too self-critical that it makes me insecure? (Example of being too hard on myself: I already took a highlighter to the magazine cover-to-cover to catch all the pesky mistakes that are going to give me anxiety and drive me up a wall, so I couldn't even grant myself a night to celebrate without pointing out what's wrong with it, even though for a first issue, it's still darn good.) Regardless, I'm not complaining that boo hoo, life is so hard. It's not. It's wonderful actually. Hallucinations until 7 am, a busted engine, published work and all, everything is good.

Working for what I want while handling the hardest personal obstacle I've had yet to encounter in life has been the best thing to happen to me. (Besides that time I went to Thailand; that was cool, too. And TYWBD.) I'm grateful for everything I've been achieving, no matter how small a feat, even though there is a part of me that's secretly freaking the eff out. It's not a bad life right now, even given the "bad".

I could get real deep and take it there to explain the depths and roots of my inner turmoil, but that's not for you. All I want to convey is that the harsh voice in your head, be it your own or someone else's (yes, even if it's a make-believe voice), or obstacle, or person, or circumstance, or whatever, should never stop you. If it's that bad that you can't ignore it, shut it up by making it your fuel to keep going so you can (spitefully) prove it wrong. Show those bad vibes where the sun don't shine. Never make yourself a victim. Embrace the challenge; it'll make you feel that much AWESOMER when you accomplish something. Keep heading in the direction you want and things will kind of just fall into place on its own. Actually, let me rephrase that; things fall into place as you hustle. Life has a funny way of working out, but it does take time.

To someone who "doesn't get it," they might look at me and think, "Uh, what's the big deal?" And to each his own. Judge away if you like. But to me, holding this magazine in my hand with my name in it, gearing up for future issues and projects, and knowing that this could really be a viable career path for me is something I'm allowing myself to have a victory moment over. Just let me have my moment!! And having a second chance to take care of my Yia Yia, Depends and other new accessories included, has been a blessing. At the hospital (amidst the magazine deadlines, mind you), doctors were preparing us to say our goodbyes, yet here we are with her back at home and I'm happy to have more time with her. Even if she still forgets who I am.

So, moral of the story. Even though my world is a little bit of what you might call a cluster----, I'm getting there. Slowly but surely, I'm getting there. Doubters gonna doubt, haters gonna hate, but I'll make it so that when I'm sitting pretty, they'll be the first ones to ask me how I did it. I might not have a ton of money, I might not have a car, I might still be living at home, but I'm right where I need to be. And thankfully, I live at the beach...that always helps.

 

What Really Matters

She lives!

I know it's been over a month since I wrote last; I was a little lost and overwhelmed for a minute there (or about 40,000), but I'm back.

Life doesn't always work out as planned. Plans rarely ever work, at least for me, and that's why I hate making them. What if something changes at the last minute? What if you're thrown a curveball and have to bail? Then you look like an asshole. Just like I was planning to become a teacher, but that didn't happen. Just like I was planning on having a stable writing or editing job by now, but that hasn't happened either...yet. I got close a few times, then was let down, so rejection hasn't been the best for my confidence. Regardless of my effort and struggle, I look like a loser to someone who doesn't know my situation. But anyway, planning in general is stupid because it adds unnecessary pressure, so it's not for me. And I definitely didn't plan this (which I'll get to), but it's for the better...

What I want to talk about is what's really important in life. We get so caught up in what we're doing, where we're going, and how other people perceive us that we forget what really matters. We need to take a step back and understand it's not all about us

Honestly, I was being so whiny about me, me, and me that I didn't see the bigger picture. Realistically, if I had a full-time job, I wouldn't be able to take the weight off my mom and help take care of my Yia Yia. She, now more than ever, needs me, and I absolutely owe her that. The role has totally been reversed and never in my life did I think it would ever be this way, but it is. So, I'm here. She's counting on me, and I'm here. That's my priority right now: my Yia Yia.

Being a primary, full-time caretaker for someone suffering from dementia is NOT easy. Especially when you're a confused 24-year-old. No one truly understands what it's like until they experience it for themselves. For someone who doesn't get it, I tell them it's like having a baby that instead of learning and growing each day, they regress and unlearn each day. Benjamin Button status up in here, only she actually is old, not a baby. Because that'd be weird.

But what you go through runs deeper than just getting her out of bed every morning or constantly repeating yourself or fighting her to please eat her meals you make her throughout the day or reminding her of my name or pretending the ridiculous comments she says make absolute and perfect sense. That's nothing. It goes deep, like not recognizing someone you love, watching them deteriorate more and more each day from the vivacious person they used to be, and knowing that no matter what you do, your efforts won't make it stop. It's her not enjoying anything anymore, it's her confusion over the most simple concept or task, it's her brain not registering or reasoning with any stimuli. It flat out sucks. It's heartbreaking. And that's my environment every day, but no matter how hard it is, it's better that I'm having such a hard time getting a job because then I'd regret not being here for my Yia Yia. I'm able to play my part and be the granddaughter I need to be. And no, my family will not put her in a home in case you were wondering...you think a 90-year-old Greek woman would let that fly, anyway? You know nothing, Jon Snow.

My time to shine will come, it's just not right now. I haven't stopped trying because I do have my own life to live, too, but I'm happy I won't regret anything down the road when she's gone. It's been a big challenge living with someone with dementia and trying to keep my sanity on top of figuring out my career, but she is what matters most. I have the rest of my life to work; I don't have the rest of my life to spend this time with my Yia Yia. No matter how depressing it gets, this is what's important, and given my circumstances, I think a job can wait until things fall into place. I won't stop trying, but I'm in the right place at the right time, even if I'll be haunted by TCM and Family Feud until the end of my days...at this point, I feel elderly and demented by association.

So yeah, that's why I haven't written in a while.

We all face challenges that try their best to break us. Don't let them: they happen for a reason.

 

Everyday I'm hustlin' (the good kind)

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
— Abraham Lincoln

They didn't dub him "Honest Abe" for nothing: once again, homeboy has a point. You can wait all you want for things to come your way, but the people who hustle are getting all the goods. And as they damn well rightfully should. It's the people who are trying, doing their best, failing, and getting back up again to keep going who deserve high-fives. It's the people who have it together, but still make moves that are respectable.

Freelancing is definitely a slow and painful process, but it's your progress that counts. Do something each day to take steps in the right direction, whether it's an application a day or an email a day. Eventually, something's going to stick. For me, a few little somethings did.

Even now that I've been hired by two, long-term clients, I'm still taking steps forward. I'm not throwing my hands up saying, "Oh good, I have some people to work for. I'm going to stop here." No, no, no. Having these clients is a great learning experience and it's only week #2 with them. However, I'm not going to lie, I've already seen an extremely unattractive side to freelancing in terms of partnership. Something happened where I was extremely offended and felt disrespected, so even your dream job is going to have its downfalls. Still, I didn't let it stop me. I'm still grinding for them while grinding for myself, too. (It also was a push for me to work on this thing where I toughen up and grow a thicker skin so I can tell people to sit down when they need a reality check. A must-have in this industry apparently, as I'm learning.)

So hustle.

There isn't any glory in being lazy. There's no prize for being passive. There isn't anything commendable about playing a victim, whining "why not me?". I know how hard it can be when you're giving it your best and still being discouraged, but the fact you're trying at all matters. Try and don't give up when it gets tough. Don't stop hustling even when you think you can. Hustle with some muscle and take what is rightfully yours from the lazy folk who are waiting for it to fall into their laps. Knowing you worked hard for something, that's something you can always be proud of.

So hustle.

I'M BROKE AND I'M PROUD!!

I'm a hypocrite and I know it.

In my last post, I talked about embracing the lulls and being patient with your process, as hard as that can be sometimes. Three weeks later, everything I said is out the window and I'm over here panicking.

One minute, you feel empowered and free, and the next, you're miserable and anxious. For me, I went on that California road trip and didn't have a care in the world...besides money. I spent what I could and spared what I couldn't. Granted, we got free round-trip airfare and stuck with AirBnB instead of hotels (thee way to go if you don't already know, beeteedubs), so we saved mad money and still balled out. We were able to make the absolute most of our two-week trip in what's probably the most expensive state in the US and we made out like bandits. It was a badass trip and I don't regret a minute of it or a dollar spent, although you couldn't pay me to step foot in LA again. Apologies if I offend.

But as awesome as traveling is, it sucks. You're on such a high the whole time, and then you come home and reality sets it. I'm broke now. I'm broke and I'm sad about it. I'm not nearly as broke as I was when I got back from Thailand, but I'm broke enough to put myself in timeout from recess. I'm out of toothpaste and I'm going to resort to using baking soda. Shampoo? I never liked it anyway. Really though, I'm that financially concerned. Freelancing is depressing when you don't have anything to work on at the moment. It's scary, not knowing.

Yesterday was a bad day where I was really down about it, yet I still took steps forward. That's the key. Don't just sit around and mope: get up, put your big kid pants on, and do something to make your situation better. Manifest your own life and happiness and do something each day to go further. That being said, don't be so hard on yourself either.

I was venting to one of my best friends being all like, "Wah, wah, I'm so poor, I'm a dud, wah, wah, wah," and then she dropped it on me. She said without the super high highs, there won't be any low lows, and it's hard to see how much ass I've kicked over the past two and a half months since I took my first step, but I've blown her away. She's proud of me.

I don't know about anyone else, but for me, there are only a select few people in my life that when they say they're proud of me, it makes me cry. She's one of them. And she's right, because I'm actually proud of me too.

We all need to stop being so hard on ourselves. It's a bad habit we all can kick. Everyone is trying to get by, and sometimes, we're going to hit some rough spots. It's inevitable and it's okay because that's how this whole thing called Life works. Up and down then up again.

The problem is that we're used to instant gratification, so if we don't see results right away, we kirk out, but I'm telling you, and myself, to relax. It'll be okay so long as you keep taking action. Now, I can sit here right now and say I'm proud of myself. I'm poor and I'm still proud of myself. I'M POOR AND I'M PROUD, EVERYBODY!

So the rough spots, yeah, they'll keep coming, but what's important is how you handle them. Don't make yourself the victim. There are no victims, only volunteers. (I stole that from my childhood. Thanks, mom.) And it's true. You can choose to be a victim, or you can choose to be better. In simpler terms, don't be a baby. You know you're capable and you know you're smart, so pick yourself up, dust your shoulders off (for real, ya got a little something there) and if you want a change, make it. Don't mope and wait for something to happen. Be proud of how far you've come and what you've done. Everything will be okay as long as you keep moving forward and keep trying. As far as stupid, stupid money goes, I'll make do. It's not the end of the world, and it could be a lot worse, so I'm grateful it's not. *In a Matthew McConaughey voice* It's allll good, baby.

I'll end with a quote that I have hanging above my desk, and still, I sometimes stray away from it, but it keeps coming back and it gets more and more true each day:

Don’t allow to compare yourself to anyone but the previous versions of yourself.
— Rob Symington

Love the Lulls

A lesson I've been coming to appreciate the past few weeks is one I think people can benefit from learning too. It goes across the board, so I'm not just talking about career-wise, but life-wise as well...

Have patience, i.e. slow ya damn roll.

Patience is one thing our society majorly lacks. Our internet isn't fast enough. The traffic light is taking forever to change. Our server is taking too long with our food. The car in front of us is driving too slow. Can it just please be summer now?

The art of relaxing is a beautiful thing, so it's a shame no one knows how to do it anymore. Everyone is in such a hurry all the time that they don't realize that that's no way to live life: rushed. We're so caught up in getting to where we want to go that we forget where we are in the present. And then people wonder why they're miserable once they finally get what they want after they've missed out on so much. Smh.

As a budding freelancer, I'm aware of the fact that it may take a while to get to where I want to be. I'm in the process of trying to build a portfolio, but since my last job ended, there's been a lag between my next one. I've had potential clients reach out to me, and we've been negotiating rates and all that noise, but it's still a lot of talking and not much doing yet. That's okay. At least there are opportunities available to me and that's what matters, so I'm content with doing "nothing" in the meantime. As long as the future looks promising, homegirl's happy.

With the downtime, I'm able to appreciate the process, something that's taken for granted when people are constantly in a hurry. I designed myself some business cards. I'm able to write in my blog. I'm reading a lot. I'm going to freakin' California this week! I wouldn't have time or the will for all that if I was scrambling around, frantic and worried as to why my "big break" hasn't happened yet.

Nothing miraculous happens overnight, especially success. It's an ongoing journey that we tend to overlook because we're so consumed by the idea of "making it." Enjoy the lulls and take advantage of them.

Let's face it, our generation is never going to be able to retire, so don't take any break you have along the way for granted. Go somewhere. See old friends. Pick up a damn book. Do whatever you want to do because you can! And don't feel guilty about it either. There's a reason why we were read "The Tortoise and the Hare" growing up. Now we just need to put it into practice.

So stop asking where your food is and enjoy the company of the person you're dining with. You wouldn't want the chef to rush you out a shitty meal, would you? Let him have his time to make you something he knows you'll enjoy. Stop begging for summer in the winter. Savor your hot chocolate in front of the fireplace while wearing a hoodie and sweatpants. Stop whining that the red light is too long and turn up the radio. Learn to be calm, to be patient, and to embrace the lulls. What's the rush, anyway?

Always listen to your mother. (Fun fact: My mom left this note for me on my sink as I was preparing to leave for Thailand and I've kept it ever since. Also, "koukla" is Greek for "babydoll." You can stop aweing now.)

Always listen to your mother.

(Fun fact: My mom left this note for me on my sink as I was preparing to leave for Thailand and I've kept it ever since. Also, "koukla" is Greek for "babydoll." You can stop aweing now.)


What you might call a "reflection"

Let me tell you a story, and I'll try to be quick about it.

I was losing my mind. Really, for a while before all "this" happened, I was actually losing my mind. I was questioning everything I did and didn't do: "What am I doing? Why do I not know what I'm doing? Why do I keep working at a job I hate? What am I waiting for? When will this stop?"

So, I went ahead and stopped it. I quit my job. After Thanksgiving weekend, I'd be a free bird. Sure, I was nervous about being unemployed, (I, too, have a concerned father), but I had money saved that would get me by for the time being. And it wasn't like I wasn't already doing my part. I had been applying to editing jobs like crazy, but no one even bothered sending me a courtesy email to say I was rejected because my resume had a teaching focus. (It's too bad no one reads cover letters anymore.) I'd be okay, at least for now. It was a risk, but it was a risk I needed to take desperately. I was stuck, and the only way you can get unstuck is if you make some damn moves. I had to do it to focus and dedicate myself to what I really wanted.

Uncertain about what the hell I was going to do, I went on a road trip around the northeast for a few days. Let me rephrase: I knew what I was going to do, I just didn't know where to start. And it wasn't exactly a "road trip"; it was a tour I went on with my boyfriend's band for a few shows. A girl can go breathe for a few days, ya know, it's a free country.

I came back refreshed and ready to face the music. But how? I started from square one and signed into my neglected Elance account. I've only gotten one freelance editing job on the site before, and it was only because my boyfriend sent me a real estate article to edit for him so he could leave a review on my profile as a starting advantage. He's a keeper, I know.

I was sitting on the couch browsing through postings the night I got home when I found one for a book that was to be called This Year Will Be Different. It immediately jumped out at me and after I read the description, I knew I had to read it, like, right then and there. A book about 23 women all over the world and how they turned their hobbies into their careers. Jackpot. This year will be different. Where do I sign?

I applied for the job before I went to bed so I knew I'd be able to sleep comfortably. I woke up with a message from the client, Monika, and the rest was history. That's seriously how it all started, just like that. Overnight. (The game-changer happened overnight that is, in no way my financial stability. Just want to make that point clear.)

Monika and I met on Skype for the first time a few days later, about a week before Christmas by this point, and I knew I was on the right track. Finally. And it just took a little bit of motion. As I read through the book, I was learning about the steps I needed to take to make my career in editing work. Make a website. Network with people. Invite people in. Know your rates. Be vocal. Be transparent. Be confident. Be yourself. I took the words I was reading and editing and put them into practice, so it wasn't just the monetary gain that kept my interest.

It couldn't have happened at a more perfect time, and that's why I'm still in disbelief. I went from having no clue at all to having almost every clue in the book. It's been a little over a month since I got hired by Monika and I'm already talking to other clients about editing their books and websites. I'm on Twitter and LinkedIn more than I'm on Facebook. I have business cards coming in the mail as we speak for crying out loud! Me! Business cards!

Know that I'm still a freelance noobie, and I still have much more to learn and experience, like hiring an accountant at some point, I think? I'll get to that hurdle when it comes.

If you're stuck, get unstuck. Make your move. The rest will follow, but you need to commit. {Enter crude phrase here.} It's just taking that first step that makes the difference.

Cheers,

D

P.S. Here's where I'm about to get super lame and leave you with this, but how my boys say it is a bit more pleasing to the ears than my babbling.



I'm that "new girl"

.I feel like I'm in the second grade again, entering Mr. Rike's class as the "new girl," only I wasn't the new girl that every boy saw and immediately called dibs on. Oh, no. I had goofy glasses my older brother graciously picked out for me (thanks, bro), frizzy hair, and teeth of a jack-hammer. I would humor you with a picture, but I wouldn't be humoring myself...so, pass.

That's kind of how I feel entering this new realm of freelance work. I'm comparing myself to other freelancers like I'm the last kid to get picked for a game of kickball. But, everyone has to start somewhere, and as long as I'm moving forward, that's good enough progress for me. I was a late-bloomer anyway.

So, I'm excited, I'm anxious, and I'm a bit vulnerable, which as I've learned from previous experience, those feelings are the perfect cocktail for great things to come. Just like my quirky, second grade-self, I know I'll grow into freelancing. If I can grow into my Greek eyebrows, I'm confident I can grow into this.

Cheers to making your own opportunities and surprising yourself before your very eyes.

Love,

Diana