Remembering my motivation

fortune cookie

In high school, the goal was to get into college and get scholarships. In college, the goal was to get on the newspaper, get internships, and get a job after I graduated. Once I moved to DC, I needed to find a place to live (a few times), find a new job (a couple of times), pay rent, let relationships go, and make friends and connections.

And for all of these things, I was motivated to do them because, essentially, I had to. You work to eat to live, and you find ways to make it all work.

In the year I’ve spent in California, I’ve been really lucky. I don’t have any obligations other than to pay a couple of bills. I still don’t even have a car. I don’t have to pay rent, and I’m still making money as a consultant. I’ve had the freedom — the privilege — to take my time and explore what I want to do with my life, and how I will get there.

But there’s a funny little thing about motivation: sometimes, when you don’t have to do something, it’s easier not to do anything.

That doesn’t mean I’ve been lazy. As I said, I’ve been working with multiple clients for a year, I’ve been working on my health and fitness (10 lbs. and counting down to prove it), and reconnecting with people from my past to feed my emotional growth.

What about THE thing, though? The whole “figuring out what I want to do with my life” part? That’s where it’s been easier, many days, to think and stew and be afraid, rather than to act. I’ve journaled, I’ve whiteboarded, I’ve talked things to death with family and friends, but the getting shit done part has been the challenge. Recently, I got the reminder (again) that there is no better time in my life than now to try to make my life what I want it to be — this is the big chance I get — the chance that many people never get. That ripe age of 29 going on 30 with no kids, no mortgage, no debts, no health problems, nothing.

What do I have? I have a lot of opportunity, and I have a lot of support. I have things I care about, but caring only goes so far. It’s time for action, and it’s time to act like I have to do these things — like there’s no other choice.

It may not work out, and then I’ll have to try something else, but like before, I figured it out. And what’s worse than trying and failing? Not trying and then never knowing and being stuck in a continual cycle of what ifs and self-doubt. That’s my motivation.

To all my motivators out there — thank you for reminding me why I’ve made these choices, and what I’m capable of.

Soaking it in, letting it go, and holding on

All in
All in

In the nearly seven months since I moved across the country, I’ve changed my perspective on many things and had a few come-to-Jesus moments about the things that matter to me and why. When you no longer have a full time job and you don’t have a car, and don’t know anyone around you, you have a lot of time to think and evaluate the pieces of your life — and I’ve certainly had some revelations, some more than once.

The one thing that I keep hearing from my parents, friends, and mentors is to “embrace this time” and “let things go,” and other tidbits of wisdom that you tell someone in their late 20s looking to change their life. They’re all right, of course, although as I’ve said in previous posts, sometimes easier said than done. I’m not ashamed to say that some days I’ve wondered if I’ll ever have real-life friends again, not just ones I used to see. Or that I yearn for the days when everything was routine and stable, but then five seconds later I remember that it was too routine, and too much of the same, so much so that I needed to get out of it all. I get annoyed when I don’t hear from people I expected to, and I’m overjoyed when I hear from someone I least expected to contact me. I’m bored and I’m content; I’m lonely yet okay with the extended break from the single woman’s life.

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29 years of caring for my soul


I blinked and now it’s my 29th birthday. It may be one of the most low key I’ve had in my 29 years – a lovely day with my parents and dogs, a way I haven’t been able to spend my birthday in several years.

So, 29. It’s technically kicking off my 30th year, and society tells me I’m supposed to be freaking out about all kinds of stuff — I’m single, I’m unemployed, I live with my parents, etc, etc. Maybe I am freaking out a little bit. Mostly because I suppose a year ago I didn’t expect this to be my life, and I’m still not quite sure where it’s headed in the next few months. But instead of worrying about that too much, I’d rather be thankful for what these 29 years have given me, and what the next year can bring. If there’s anything I’ve learned in this last year, it’s that plans change, and sometimes it’s okay not to have a plan. I’ve realized that although I was driven to leave DC for a change of pace and to to forge a new path, that none of it compares to the time I’ve spent with my parents, really getting to know them, not just as parents, but as people, and letting them help me take what’s essentially “me” and craft my life around that.

When we celebrate birthdays, we’re showing appreciation for being alive, and it’s a day where others express their joy at our existence. It can be self-indulgent, and I’m the first to admit that I love birthdays, and I love being showered with love on that day (or even throughout the week). But I also want to show appreciation for the moments in my 29 years that have stuck with me, no matter how I’ve changed. The memories that move us and the experiences that nourish our souls are what bring us fulfillment, and keep us grounded and whole. Good and bad, physical and emotional, these moments make us who we are. This isn’t meant to be a collection of greatest hits, but more of the everyday experiences that resonate with us through life. Here are some of mine:

  • Watching my grandmother and her sister sew one of their many quilts in the “green room.” My cousin and I would sit under the quilt rack and pick up pins from the carpet.
  • The taste of my first snowball of the summer in Louisiana. Usually spearmint.
  • Making macaroni & cheese with Velveeta in the kitchen with Dad. We’d use almost a whole block, Mom shaking her head in the background.
  • Every night before bed, listening to a story on tape my other grandmother made for me about a guardian angel taking me to a beautiful castle.
  • A reporter from The Cincinnati Enquirer visiting my class in fourth grade. I got my first reporter’s notebook and it solidified my dream of being a writer.
  • Running down the hallway and jumping into my Jimmy’s (my neighbor) arms, Dirty Dancing style.
  • Endless games of double solitaire with Mom and weekend trips to the grocery store.
  • Walking around campus at Miami University in the fall in my hoodie (still wear it today).
  • A trip to Chicago with Dad. We went to two games at Wrigley Field.
  • A now infamous meal at the Red Planet Diner in Sedona where we ate way too much food, yet still got two desserts. Mom and I ran a lap around the parking lot, cracking up the whole way, Dad taking pictures.
  • Late nights eating boiled seafood with the family and telling stories.
  • Friday night trips to Barnes & Noble after dinner.
  • White cake with lemon filling for my birthday.

Coffee Time Musings

I’ve been drinking out of this coffee cup for years now when staying with my parents. Of course I’ve read the words, but until now, I’m not sure I’ve stopped to figure out if I’m living them. So why not now?

Risk more than others think is safe: I’d say the last few months fulfills this one. Quitting a great job, leaving a great city, and not having a real plan in mind? Yeah, that was risky, and some people didn’t think it was safe or smart, either. I think the rewards will be worth the risk in the end, though.

Care more than others think is wise: Probably one of my most prominent behaviors. It’s both a strength and a weakness. When I care about something or someone – a job, an idea, friends/family/lovers, I’m all in. I’m invested, I’m emotional, and I’m absolutely vulnerable.

Dream more than others think is practical: I’m probably not dreaming enough right now. That was a big reason I moved to California to take this break, and my dad reminded me just the other day to think bigger and farther — and to remove the word “if” from my vocabulary. Dreams are the first step to making something reality.

Expect more than others think is possible: I have high expectations, for myself and for others, and sometimes it means I get hurt. I can be a perfectionist at work because I aim to impress and please, and for my own pride. And I often expect more from my relationships with people than they realize, or that they can or want to give. But I’m a firm believer that setting a high bar for yourself and for the people you care about and who care about you is ultimately a good thing.

What about you? Do you live these words (from a cadet maxim) often enough? Do you even believe they’re worth following?