Writing is hard when you’re unemployed, apparently…

You think after being unemployed for five weeks, I would be cranking out all sorts of writings during this time. In actuality it’s been a lot harder than it sounds. I just don’t feel I have anything of importance to share or I just can’t get all my ideas or thoughts out of my head onto something in document form. This just sucks, no other way to describe it. I bore myself. Blah blah. This just sucks.

I guess I could give an overview on how I have been spending my unemployment:

Week 1:
The most important thing I wanted to establish was a daily routine. I would wake up with my husband when his alarm went off at 7-7:30 ish and let our dog Nikki out while having my coffee with him. His work schedule was not regular this week so it was nice to have our coffee hour before he went to work between 8:30 and 9. After he would leave, I would go to the Y and work out for an hour. My Y membership was only going to last two weeks after my last day of work so I wanted to use it while I still could. After my workout I would shower, get dressed, and did hair and makeup things. Even without a job, I wanted to treat my unemployment like it was my job so I would never just lie around in the clothes I slept in all day. After my getting dressed and made up time I would make a fruit smoothie and have a salad for brunch (I’ve found myself only eating two times a day during this period). Throughout the day I would be job searching or researching ways to make money by freelance writing. I still could use some help with this if any one reading this blog knows how I can freelance writing articles or columns for sites or other publications. There was always house work like cleaning, cookies or other wifely duties to occupy my time. I would try and have a meal ready for both me and Tyler whenever he finally could leave work for the night. I’m the Treasurer on the Board of Directors for our local community theater so I was writing checks and ordering equipment needed for our Christmas show as well as attend our monthly Board Meeting.

It’s important to network, socialize and spend time with family and friends during an unemployment. My first week I had a dinner meeting with a fellow local blogger who gave me great insight and advice on the many things you can do with a blog. That Thursday night I attended a meeting for another local organization I’ve involved in so it was good to still be involved with something I was before I became jobless. I rounded out the week by spending time with my sister and her daughter as well as a big birthday party for all my nieces and nephews on my husband’s side of the family. Being around the little ones keep me in good spirit.

Week 2:

The second week followed the same kind of routine but with hubby having hours shifted again, I started working out at the Y in the late afternoon or early evening. This would be the last week I could use my membership. More job applications were sent out, more errands were ran for the community theater, more cleaning at home, groceries, cooking. This week I went on a two day shopping trip with some girls from work. This trip was planned way before I resigned and figured since the hotel only cost each of us $19.00 for the night, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. It was a challenge but I managed to not do a lot of shopping on this girls’ shopping trip. Just using store coupons that I get each year for my birthday. I didn’t mind, having an overnight up in the Twin Cities with girl friends was all I could ask for.

I slowly began to realize I kind of developed some rules and guidelines for myself during this time:

-I don’t watch TV or turn it on during the day. Unless I’m working out using routines I found on Youtube.

-Get out of bed before 9 AM

-Shower, get dressed and put on makeup/ do hair. Look like you have somewhere to be

-Try not to spend money (Only buy things you need so don’t go out for drinks. You can’t afford that until you have a job again)

-I shouldn’t sit or lounge in the living room until the evening. There is always work that needs to be done or something to keep me busy.

 

Week 3:

My workout time started to happen at home now. I interviewed at a local coffee place but didn’t hear back. More of the same with job searching and sending out applications. I was able to meet a friend later that week that I haven’t hung out with for awhile so it was nice to meet her for a short girls night. I had two date nights with my husband on the Friday and Saturday of this week, we were long overdue for them.

Week 4:

At the start of the week I was beginning to feel very frustrated and a little depressed. However we had a nice day weather wise that week so I took Nikki for a 2 hour walk and it helped take care of those feelings. This week was also Thanksgiving so we had two family meals to go that that week. Luckily not on the same day; one Thursday and the other on Saturday. My birthday was that Friday and it was SUCH a nice day weather wise. I don’t think I remember the weather ever being that nice. So me and Nikki took another walk. My birthday night wasn’t so great but I won’t get into that. I did however raise $85. on Facebook for the Humane Society of North Iowa so that’s another good thing that happened.

Week 5:

After I had my annual eye exam and another interview in town, I decided to reach out to a co worker who still worked for a company I used to. Even though I was getting interviews, they weren’t a guarantee and more time was passing. I needed to make money as soon as I could. I asked if they had any openings where I used to work. Everything kind of happened fast after that: I was called in for an interview, I met with the new supervisor, I was offered a job and had to take the pee test for pre employment drug screening. Didn’t realize I would find employment after 5 weeks but I see this as only temporary and am still following up on other applications and interviews. I’m lucky that I will have a source of income again.

When I resigned my job in October, stating my last day was the 27th, my goal was to have something in line by November 6th. I didn’t meet that goal but I knew that I wouldn’t be unemployed for over three months like I was six years ago when I went through a lay off. Ill take five weeks over three months.

These past five weeks have flown and I can’t believe tomorrow I start back at somewhere I worked for two and half years. It won’t be bad and I will work hard for however long I’m here. Like I said I hope it’s only temporary because I have goals I would like to pursue.

Hopefully there will be more soon.

Nowhere but forward…

It’s been noticeable that it has been quite some time that I’ve last written or posted anything; this is for good reason. Something’s been on going in my life relating to the post I wrote back in June about work and depression. I haven’t been able to really write anything because everything was so up in the air as I’ve tried to figure out how to change the situation I have been living in. Now I can finally write because even though I still don’t know for sure what I’m going to do at least I just know for a fact it’s nowhere but forward from here:

After months of dealing with my employer and a toxic, unorganized work environment, I decided after failed attempts of trying to transfer out of my department, I resigned from my job and put in my two weeks. At the time of my resignation, I had one interview in the town where I live done but nothing else lined up. During my final two weeks, I had another interview at somewhere 20 miles away but came in 2nd as another candidate got the job over me. So here I am, officially unemployed with nothing officially in place. Yes I am a little scared and worried but I know I’m capable of finding something.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make and when I explain to those who know me the best, they’ve seen what I’ve been going through over the past year and understand as they’ve seen my ups, downs and frustrations as my mental health deteriorated. I was originally going to make this decision in June but I just kept pushing through no matter how miserable I was because I knew as an adult I couldn’t just leave a full time job with benefits without having something else lined up. I planned to keep going but after one day when I had to deal with a lose lose situation my superior tried to put me in, I then decided enough was enough and I took this as my opportunity to leave on my terms. I couldn’t write and complain about my employer and still don’t want to do it even after I left but now at least I can write about how I plan on making a come back some how.

This week I’ve been taking care of my mental health by going to the Y every day, while I still have a Y membership that is, and start to write again as well as put my feelers out for jobs. I’m a part of the North Iowa Bloggers and I hope I can at least do something with my writing. At this time even focusin on writing is such a challenge. What makes me unique? I’m just another white girl who likes to travel but I don’t want to be another Samantha Brown, she sucks. At least I have my own personality and feel that women who host travel shows deserve to do what male travel show hosts do. I hope I can find a way to make my voice be heard for how different I am from all that want to do what I do for a living.

Right now I don’t know what I am going to do, all I know is I have to take one day at a time. I have hope and determination I will find something and have a job again no matter what I end up doing.

An Ode to the ‘Secret Hot Girls Club’…

Another random post while I’m riding along with my online grad course. The inspiration for this post came from one night being home alone with no TV to watch so I ended up binge watching some of my all time favorite shows, Sex and the City. (Hey it’s my thing, let it go). Watching some of the episodes reminded me of the past year and it also put me in the mood to get some of my gal pals together, actually dress up and go out for a great meal.

This past year in November I got three other ladies who also work at the same place as I do together for a weekend: we took Friday off then drove up to the cities spent the day shopping at the Premium Outlets in Eagen, then spent the night at the Hyatt Place in Downtown Minneapolis with a night out watching the Drag Shows and dancing at Gay 90s, and spent all day Saturday at the Mall of America before coming back home that night. Six months later we did another shopping trip but just spent all day up there and came back that same night. I have so much fun and hope we keep doing this or if someone can’t come at least have someone else in the mix to keep the magical group number of 4 ladies having fun! I called it our Waldorf Ladies Shopping Group but fellow member Samantha, suggested we call it the Secret Hot Girls Club! (Both of us also like watching That 70s Show and thought that name from one of the episodes was very fitting!)

I’m reminded that over the years, some of my best friends have relocated to outside of our local area and I found that these three other ladies have been through the same thing. But now two of our group members will no longer bu around the area come November if we decide to keep up with our bi annual Hot Girls shopping trip. Like I said all four of us have been separated from great friends but I see that I was lucky to befriend you all as a group for the time we had. You all are great biotches and I still think so even when I have to find replacements for you! Haha i kid! Maybe you all will be able to hang out with ‘old’ friends that you haven’t hung out with in forever or make new ones. At least as an adult I’ve gotten much better at making acquaintances and friends than I did even in college and I’m glad I’m doing this at this point in my life when everyone my age is having babies or has kids already.

If you ladies are reading, let’s get sexied up, have a nice meal and get silly. I have a new dress that is yet to be worn and tall black pumps that are just calling to go out for another night. Having gal pals is a great thing, it’s been awhile since I’ve had one of these nights so let’s do it! If any other ladies reading have that group of girls they love going out with, I hope you have a night out soon as well!

 

Gym Etiquette

I know I’m not the only one who wonders about how to interact with people when at the gym. Usually I put in my headphones and get in the zone. If I see someone I know, depending on who they are, I’ll give a nod and acknowledgement but not take them away from their workout or my own. I figure it’s polite that we are nice but also not making each other stop what we are doing.

Yesterday while doing the ab portion of my workout, a man next to me on a stationary bike seemed to be talking to me while I had my head phones in. At first I thought maybe he was talking to someone near us but it became apparent he was trying to speak to me. I took out my headphones and he asked while pointing at the tv, “Do you go to Waldorf? Did you see that?!?” There was a news story about how Waldorf now has a snapchat filter with Warrick, our mascot. I replied to him that I’m not a student but work there and yes I saw that today. He continued to rave about it with ‘Wow’s’ and other such words. Man he was really excited about that Snapchat filter.

Now I don’t get annoyed when I still get mistaken for a student, I’m 30 so it’s nice to know I could still pass off for someone in their early 20s but come on! I can’t look that young, could I?!?I agree it’s a good problem to have but are people like him for real?!? I was just more annoyed he interrupted my ab time to talk about something that isn’t a big deal to me. Please tell me I’m not alone that I feel you don’t stop a stranger with headphones in during a workout.

Please don’t be the filter guy….

 

Be a lion, or dragon, or Wonder Woman. Whatever you need to be!

(Image not mine, found on Google)

Last week I finally was able to go see Wonder Woman with my hubby on a weeknight date night. After hearing good reviews and also reports that Gal Gadot did all her reshoots for the movie at five months pregnant (so badass!), I was even more excited for its awesomeness! I was not disappointed or let down by this film to say the least!! Wonder Woman was portrayed how she was meant to be: strong, fearless, determined, and even the costume choices and story line showed that. It was refreshing to see her like that as opposed to the very corny Wonder Woman from the 70s tv show.

I got a little depressed when Diana arrived in London in the 1940s after being on Paradise Island with the rest of the Amazon women for the whole of her life. Being on the island inhabited only by women, women did everything that men could do: hunt, fight, train, ride horses, etc. Living in that environment, Diana knew no limits on what she could do or was capable of. Anything that needed to be done, she could make it happen. From the moment she arrived in London, it was clear that women had to look a certain way, behave a certain way and there were certain places that she just couldn’t be. Diana persisted with insisting she needed to be on the front line fighting with Steve and it was just heartbreaking when he told her the hard truth of them not being able to help everyone.

I have to admit that I teared up while watching the scene where she first appears in her Wonder Woman armor on the battlefield walking into the field of gunfire. I did my best to hide the tears so my husband wouldn’t see and judge me even though I’m sure the two small shot bottles of rum I put in my fountain pop cup had something to do with them. Tyler doesn’t judge me harshly, I say that with humor because he knows sometimes I’m a giant nerd filled with corny. Ha ha. Anyway back to the battle scene where Diana reveals herself as Wonder Woman on earth for the first time: even though she was discouraged and told ‘No’ she still walked into war, fearless, strong, and untouchable as the bullets just ricocheted off her. She ignored how women were defined and told to act and behave; she faced danger because she knew what she was capable of even when no one would believe it. It was just an amazing moment to experience.

I needed to see this movie after what I’ve been through the past couple of months. Even though today isn’t like the London Diana came to in the 1940s, I’ve still have experienced being treated differently for being a woman on a professional level. I’ve felt that there’s nothing I can do about it: if I try and stand up for myself and fight then I’m too demanding but if I sit back and let it happen, I’m weak. For the whole of my summer, laying in bed in the morning after my husband leaves for work, I kept feeling there is no point to leave this bed other than to take care of our puppy. If I were to go to work, I’m just invisible and what I do doesn’t matter because what a man does it more important than anything I’m doing. How can I be successful if I can’t trust or respect those above me? Everything has just seemed hopeless. It just breaks my heart that even in 2017 this is still a thing.

I’m lucky to have a mentor through work that shared with me, “When everyone else is a sheep or wolf disguised as a sheep, be a lion.” Very good words I needed to hear, I just knew I was nowhere near lion material in my current state of depression and self defeat. Watching this movie was the encouragement I needed to begin the step out of my mental condition. It was also in this past week that while watching Game of Thrones (my favorite show of all time!) that a scene coincidentally spoke to me the same way. Olenna Tyrell gave Daenerys Targaryen some sound advice that is now being shared all over the internet as encouragement to women: “I’ve know a great many cleaver men. I’ve outlived them all. Do you know how? I ignored them. The lords of Westeros are sheep. Are you a sheep? No. You’re a dragon. Be a dragon.”

Be any or all of these things: a lion, dragon or Wonder Woman; whatever you have to be in order to survive! If not one of these then whoever the F you want to be! For the past few months I haven’t been surviving or even barely living. I can’t go on living like a emotionless zombie, I have to survive to be a survivor. I need to come out on the other side of this period of my life as my own Mother of Dragons or Queen of the Amazons. Even though I don’t know how to get there, I know I can and it’s possible!

Women are capable of doing anything and we can’t let hearing ‘no’ or any preconceived notions of how we are supposed to be or act stop us from walking into a battle that we know we are capable of fighting in. And dammit we also know we look good while doing it!

 

My Biggest Critic

 
(Images not mine, found on Google)

These gifs were from an episode I saw of Maron, a show about self proclaimed asshole and pod cast host Marc Maron. This exchange made me laugh when I saw it, so you can see there’s a little bit of ‘dark’ humor. I enjoyed this bit mostly because it’s exactly how I’ve felt at times throughout my life.

I’ve dealt with insecurity, doubt, anxiety, depression, throughout my life but with each encounter being different. In middle school and high school I experienced many high and lows as I navigated through my adolescence: puberty, hormones, pre teen girls being mean to each other, teenagers being general assholes to each other, BOYS, (because what else do teen girls obsess over?!? its the hormones…) and not feeling like I fit in at home or at school. Just a loner in life.

Depression came in the form of being very emotional and feeling that life was so hard when in reality it wasn’t. The emotions ranged from the sadness of why do I have to be different to self loathing. They tried teaching us in middle school to “Just be yourself” but that logic seemed impossible. I just didn’t know how to be myself when I felt attacked for doing just so. Insecurity would tell me “You are weird and no one will like you” or “you are pathetic because you don’t have friends!” A couple of times in middle school I would hide in the girls bathroom at lunch because I had no one to sit with after a group of so called ‘friends’ began to bully me with notes, destroying my locker or shoving me into it. I eventually moved into adulthood and out of my teenage angst and the extension of teenage angst you get in college and after graduation. When wondering if you just wasted four years and will end up working a minimal paying job for the rest of your life. I was lucky and got an entry level job a year after graduating so life seemed to be go in the right direction.

Three months before I turned 25, while working at said entry level job (my first) I became one of five employees whom were laid off due to budget cuts that year. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to live through, like the rug just got pulled out from underneath me. The two months that followed as I job searched, I felt my mental health slowly began to deteriorate. I didn’t feel as emotional as I did as a teenager but some feelings of sadness were present as I mostly felt worthless. When you have no job to get up for in morning you begin to wonder what your purpose in life is? Why am I here if I’m not doing anything? The insecurity kicks in and you think, “I am not enough”. After three months of not working, I finally was able to get hired for a part time job at the local Pizza Hut (when it was still open). I was still considered ‘unemployed’ as I worked there and continued to find something full time. I had less than a year before I turned 26 and would be kicked off my Mom’s health insurance. Working at Pizza Hut, though it was a job, you got to see the true attitudes of people, including the ones still at the organization who laid you off. I felt very looked down upon, like I was nothing. Whenever I had to serve people from my old job, I had to smile and be polite even when they treated me like like I was below them. It was so hard not to tell them, “You could be me right now!”. That year of being unemployed and going through part time jobs before I finally found a full time position one year after the layoff was one my low points in life. I felt worthless and just dead weight as I worked to bring in money to support myself in my apartment. The insecurity went hand in hand with the doubt and uncertainty if I was going to be good enough to work full time again.

Fast forward five years later to me in present day. I have learned that depression can come in a new form I haven’t ever experienced before: with no emotions at all. I have been at my job for over two years, I was very happy to get hired when I did and things were going great. No job is perfect and I’ve had my bad days but they always ended and I carried on by just coming to work and doing my work. When my boss was placed on military leave coming up on two years ago, it hasn’t been the same since. We were appointed an interim director a year ago and thing have been going downhill since then. He truly is the worst I have ever had. It wasn’t until early this year when I realized I could be mentally depressed. I have flash backs to the year I went through a layoff and my anxiety is flaring up as I fear for the worst even when it may not come.

In our culture when we meet someone, one of the first questions asked is, “So what do you do for a living?” What we do defines who we are essentially. Or our worth is tied to what we do for a living. With the changes our new boss is making, the daily works and tasks are being shifted and when I come into work now I feel like there is no point to me being here. Each day gets harder to get out of bed when I feel worthless and no point to me doing what I do. Insecurity pops its head in and I begin to think “I’m not enough” or “I’m not smart or talented enough to do anything worthwhile”. The most frustrating aspect of all of this is I don’t want to leave my organization where I work: I love it and feel like I belong. I want to retire from here someday like everyone I see recognized at our annual employee dinner. I want to be one of those that have done 30-35 years here. It’s a struggle because I feel like I could just not show up to work and it wouldn’t really matter because after the organizational changes, there is no point to me being here anymore. I feel numb and emotionless throughout my work week and it continues to increase with every passing day as there’s no hope of any other openings in another department. My insecurity and lack of confidence will jeopardize my changes of passing an interview. It’s really hard to care about your job or work when the person in charge above you doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything. I really do feel like I’m stuck with no way out and in the last month after a co worker left, it’s become more clear that I am mentally depressed even when I have so much going for me now. I had to realize that even when I don’t think of death or suicide, the zombie like state isn’t any healthier. I am so scared and sad about those feelings of worthlessness take over my life. I don’t want to end up unemployed in this area like I was five years ago. It really was a struggle to get where I am today and I don’t want to go through that again where I have the rug pulled out from me and I have to start from rock bottom.

This post isn’t to get sympathy or to hear people say, “I’m so sorry” but more of a notice that depression can come and strike in ways you didn’t know it could. You see many sad cases of famous people who struggle with depression or mental illness even with fame, money and success. I hope this post can help connect with others who are in my shoes and are experiencing depression in their adulthood. I also have hope that I’ll figure something else out to feel like my existence has a purpose again. Until then, I know I can’t go on with the feelings I’ve had everyday for a month: “I hate myself”, “I’m not good enough”, “I’m worthless”, etc

Today I was very close to not coming in and just snuggle with my dog Nikki on the sofa. Puppy therapy is very life saving!!

 

When you’re, the only way to put it, STUCK!!!!

One of the most inspirational things I’ve heard someone say to me within the last year came from a drag queen named Violet Femme. Myself and three gal pals from work went up to Minneapolis last November for a two day shopping event with an overnight in downtown so we could go to a show at Gay 90s. That Friday night was just a couple of days after the 2016 election so the mood was a little grim and it seemed everyone around us was just trying to forget what had happened and have fun. Violet Femme, the MC for the evening, started to speak after the opening dance number and stated, ” I just want all ya to know, this is the most fulfilling thing I’ve ever done! I really mean that, I was once in a rock band called Faggidy Ann! Anyways I just want all of you to know if there’s something that you want to do, any dreams you have, just go on and do it!!” I can’t say enough how much I loved those words and how much they meant to me that night.

I have been lucky to work with two very amazing women who have inspired me so much and will continue on to do so. One of them is the picture of what happens when you work hard: your dreams really can come true. The other is just starting to live her dreams by spending a summer in Europe before attending law school in the fall.

I met up with someone in Vegas who was a part of my Girls Love Travel community on facebook, a local who has done work with her own marketing firm but now is pursuing a makeup and skin company she is passionate about. Living in a huge area like Vegas, it’s easier to be an entrepreneur and make a living that way than it is here in North Iowa where I live. Not impossible to do but a little more difficult. I hope that with more younger people populating the area, much needed change and growth can happen in our region. When I see new businesses and attractions pop up, it excites me and gives me hope for the future.

It’s a love and hate relationship with the area I reside: I love living here in the summer but not so much in the winter. I HATE THE COLD AND SNOW!! It’s an affordable area with two bigger cities a couple hours away with airports that can get me to anywhere in the world. I feel fortunate to have a job, it’s really hard to find employment especially in the town I live in. Its nice to have benefits and access to education, a discounted Y membership and vacation time. As a person who is passionate about anything travel, I love that vacation time.

I still have to work on my dream, I don’t know exactly what it is yet. Well maybe I do, I just don’t believe in saying I’m going to do this or dream of this, I just want to work hard and ‘just go do it!’ I have many more places to travel to, food to eat, even more writing to do. Maybe someday I can have the Carrie Bradshaw life, but more realistically. No one in real life who is a weekly column writer lives in that big of an apartment in NYC and has 40 pairs of Manolo Blahniks that run $500.00 +. Maybe I can travel to places and make a living writing about it and sharing it with everyone. If not make a living, I can just save like I usually do. The extravagant plan I had for this fall will not pan out as plan but maybe I can still plan a smaller trip anyway!

I feel like I’m stuck between what I’m doing and what I could be doing. I don’t want to (can’t either) quit my job but when it’s just not going well, how do you know when it is time to move on? Until then hopefully I can hop on a plane one more time across an ocean before the year is over.

A solid piece of advice….

Don’t be afraid to do thing on your own, especially travel. If you wait on others, you may not ever get to go where you want to.

Recently I flew out to Las Vegas solo, I did meet up with a couple of ladies while out there but mostly by myself, and it was the most relaxing and fun vacations I’ve ever had. At times it did feel a little weird and boring to be walking around by myself in the middle of meeting up with my friend from college who lives there as well as a fellow member of an online travel community I am apart of, also a local of Vegas. I also made some ‘friends’ before the shows I attended.

Had I not gone I would have missed out on:

Seeing Britney Spears before she finishes out her residency this year

The Beatles LOVE

Bodies the Exhibit

a gondola ride at the Venetian

the dolphin exhibit at the Mirage

I’m so happy to be a part of an online community where I can meet ladies like myself who know you can have fun traveling alone. I hope to meet more ladies from this group on my future travels. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. I can’t count how many people back home would say, “You are going out by YOURSELF?!?” If a woman does anything on her own, it’s still looked down on and thought about as weird. Especially since I’m from Iowa where majority of the population is from here originally and seldom leaves the state or even country. Well that’s my family anyway. Like I said, I got to see a friend from college before she leaves the mainland for Hawaii where her husband will be reassigned.
I am married myself and even though I am a part of a unit with my husband, I am still my own individual person. It is essential both him and I operate as individual ‘ones’ because that is what we are. We are two people in a one unit, not half of one person in one unit. If I waited for him to come back to Vegas we me, I’d be waiting a long time because it doesn’t excite him as much.

 

On an unrelated note: I don’t want to stop blogging but lately I feel like there’s no point to me doing it. Like who I am to be an expert at anything? I hope to find more ways to improve so this can be something I enjoy doing again. Working on your Masters where you have to write in large amounts can make anyone forget that writing can be enjoyable or fun. I hope to find my purpose in life again when right now it feels like I’m just floating around.

When your favorite store decides to go Bankrupt…

When my sister just had to share the post on my Facebook wall that Vanity, my favorite clothing store of all time, was going bankrupt and closing all their stores, it crushed me. Not only because at that moment I noticed every piece of my outfit that day was from that store but because I have been shopping there since I entered middle school. Literally over half of my lifetime!! Majority of my closet contains clothing from Vanity, how will I survive?!?! It really is the end of an era.

Besides planning out when I need to get to my nearest store and buy all the layering tunic tanks, leggings and other essentials I could get my hands on, I remembered the early days of when I started shopping there….
When I had entered middle school in 6th grade, I was this very awkward, nerdy, insecure, chubby, girl who had no idea how to fit in or how to even be myself. What clothes I did wear were hand me downs or things I had to have my mom buy me from discount places or sales racks. I wore what I was told or what I thought would look good, not what I actually liked. I know all middle school kids are just basically that: kids. Kids aren’t supposed to have good fashion tastes but really I was so clueless with no sense what how to dress myself what so ever.

It was 7th grade that I tried to start basic in developing my wardrobe: luckily casual and layering t-shirts were a thing so one of the brands of shirts I paired with my jeans from Vanity was Sugar. Trendy at that time. While I struggled with my chunkiness overall body image, I was happy that one article of clothing was comfortable and i felt I looked good in:

  Those awkward middle school years….

I remember getting a $10.00 off card in the mall for my birthday every year and I would always use them to buy a pair of Silver Jeans, since my Mom said would not spend $50.00 on a pair of jeans for me. Going over the Vanity Store in Southbridge Mall in Mason City, IA, nothing could get me more excited.

8th grade is when I really started to get my own sense of fashion and what would look good on me. At that time, black pleather pants were so in as well as rock style shirts and tanks. I had so many shirts, jeans, and THOSE pants in my closets. I also had my first part time job washing dishes so I was able to buy more of my own clothes and I didn’t have a spending limit on my jeans! Going through my old pictures made me a little sad I grew up in the time before smart phones and selfies and had to rely on disposable cameras and film developing for pictures. So many fun clothes I had but no photographic evidence. The ones I do have, who can remember this look (I didn’t only wear red! Black shirts were my jam since they were thinning):

 I was big into the whole rock start girl look.

 I bought my own flared Silver Jeans and remember when Doc Boots were worn with every outfit?!?!?

 I’m sad this is the only picture I have of my favorite middle school shirt: a red tanks that tied up on the sides!!! The word ‘ROCK’ was on the from with studs. That was soo cool to me then. Not a good quality but like I said the days of disposable cameras….

High school I had started to thin out and loved wearing the comfy lounge look that was in:

 Did you notice my shirt says ‘Ex Cheerleader’?

 Love this matching flame long sleeve under a short sleeve combo

The older I got the less awkward and more comfortable I became with who I was, what I liked and how I dressed. Confidence must come with age. Looking back on all the pictures after high school, it’s so amazing seeing how clothes from my favorite store were apart of so many memories:

-My 21st birthday
-After going through a much needed breakup before my senior year of college and buying a ‘I’m going out and looking hot because I’m now single’
-My senior year of college when my green plaid zip up hoodie was EVERYTHING
-Going to a concert with friends
-Going to Vegas
-Going to Europe
-When Tyler proposed to me
-Getting a new job- all the basic layering tees and tanks became my wardrobe staple.

For me, clothes are more than just fabric you place on your back. They are art like and more of an expression or exclamation of THIS IS ME!! LOOK AT ME!! I LOVE HOW I LOOK!! I’m FUCKING FABULOUS!!!! It’s amazing how as I grown woman of 30 I still shopped in the same store that I did at age 12 and not feel like ‘I’m too old for this’.

Vanity was there as I was growing up and started to discover who I am when that concept was impossible for me to grasp. I’m so sad that it will be gone soon but on March 5th, 2017, I drove to Southbridge Mall to shop at Vanity one last time. I did it right and didn’t care about how much things were: I loaded up, tried them on and checked out. After $215.00 worth of clothes, I left satisfied but nostalgic for the past and wishing I had more of these trips to make.

I know Vanity is just a store and nothing is made to last but I’m fortunate to have had this store and how it helped growing up for me become a little more enjoyable.

RIP Vanity.

 

 

My how my Fridays nights have changed….

One month ago, (the month of January), I had the freedom to get off work do whatever I wanted: come home, cook, maybe go to the Y and work out, maybe head out for a couple of drinks at any given night of the week, clean while blasting “I’ll Be Your Shelter” by Taylor Dayne on Youtube (it’s how I listen to random music at home). I was preparing to dance in our community Dancing With The Stars fundraiser (here’s a photo op for you curious ones)

and getting ready to go back down to Cancun with my husband the morning immediately after I performed in said fundraiser. (Same resort we stayed last year, Excellence Playa Mujeres!)
 
(I had a moment and upgraded us to First Class at last minute, something neither of us had ever experienced. Why not? YOLO bitches! So worth $198.00 per person! Building up those Delta SkyMiles…)

Lots of free time, ability to sleep in every weekend, basically I could leave my house after work and not come back until I felt like it.

Fast forward to last Friday night, February 17th: I am am home as I have been for the past four weekends. I have been taken hostage by a furry creature with razor sharp teeth:

I can’t leave this thing alone and she has thrown up three times in one hour!
Tyler and I have become fur parents! Meet Nikki, our beagle mix puppy! She came home on Saturday January 28th, the day after we came back from Mexico, and our lives have not been the same since then.

Last month in January, Tyler and I were in the beginning stages of considering adopting a dog, something we’d been talking about since we started living together over 4 years ago. Both of us had grown up with dogs and missed having one around and figured we didn’t have a reason why not. I had started looking up shelters around the area online and started the basic steps in the adoption process figuring it was a longer process and could take some time.

Friday January 13th exactly one week before Dancing With The Stars and leaving for our Cancun trip, I stumbled across Petfinder.com and did a search within 100 miles. I saw Nikki’s post and it seemed like everything kind of just happened from there: I called the number listed and talked to the lady who ran Pet Projects in Minnesota (where Nikki came from), I showed the picture to Tyler and asked what he thought, I set up a meeting time to see Nikki the next day in Fairbault, MN, we drove up the next day to meet her and wrote a check for the adoption fees, we drove up to Northfield, MN two weeks later and officially adopted/ brought her home. We didn’t expect to become fur parents this soon but even so we are super happy we finally are!

Like I said both of us had dogs in the past and knew what to expect with: feeding, taking her out when she has to go, cleaning up accidents on the floor, chewing, puppy biting, jumping up, etc but the reality of it is something entirely different and Nikki isn’t supposed to or going to be like any of our dogs we had growing up. It has been life changing for both of us.

I never realized how lucky I was to sleep in or get up and not worry about our house being destroyed while getting ready for work.

Don’t let this innocent face fool you, she has sharp teeth and can rip up anything! Things I didn’t think she’d do or be into, she is. Nikki was only a little over three months old when we brought her home so Tyler and I being on separate work shifts has been good for her as she adjusts to her forever home and growing out of the puppy stage. Good for Nikki but tough for Tyler and I as it’s hard to go to the bathroom without her glued to our sides wanting to come with. Her bathroom schedule now takes priority over our own bathroom or sleeping schedules. (It will get better the older she gets). It would be nice to eat and not have her put her paws on the table looking to see what we are eating. Just let me eat in peace!!! Each of us feels like a single parent when the other is at work.
How did this happen?!? I sometimes wonder… one month ago I was going out on Fridays nights, now I’m stuck at home cleaning up dog puke. Three different piles of dog puke!

I get by knowing Nikki is slowly but surely growing up and the more time we work with her, the better dog she will be. She has been lucky to have two people around constantly around her throughout the day, something not all dogs are lucky to have. I get excited when we go another week without her having an accident (Almost three weeks!!) and being able to be outside by herself without freaking out that we aren’t there but knowing we are inside.

The thing I have struggled with most was leaving her alone at home in her crate during the first week and beyond. I knew she would be fine in the crate for one or two hours if I had to run to the Y or to a meeting but I hated (still do) putting her in there and hearing her while/cry/bark. Even when I knew this was natural for dogs and Nikki would have to get used to it, the fact didn’t stop I would still hear Sarah McLaughlin singing in my head!!!

Even during it’s hardships, being a fur Mama is great! I have a companion to go with me on my walks, we have a source of entertainment when at home and I have her to snuggle with me while I watch the entire series of Gilmore Girls:

Seriously, my heart melts every time this happens!

I have learned to have patience, so has Tyler, but him and I also realize that neither of us have much of it at all. Even though dogs and children are not the same and you can’t really compare the two, we know that by adopting Nikki both of us are set on the decision that we don’t want children. We have given up a little bit of our freedom but are unwilling to lose it completely and that’s OK. At least we know what we want and agree on it. Unlike a kid, we can still travel whenever we want. Sure it will cost us money to have her boarded but we still have the option to take vacations when we want to.
I have learned how to time manage and prioritize more than I ever have. I have learned how to work with her even after she makes me so angry by not listening after saying “NO!” or “GET DOWN!” 50 times in a row.

Honestly, how can you stay mad at that face?!?!

I am seriously excited for the rest of the year as Nikki turns from a puppy into a full grown dog even though her mind might still be puppy for years afterward. I can’t wait to build a fence in our backyard so she can run around it. I can’t wait to take her on more walks. I can’t wait to bring her along in the car for the trips that we can. I can’t wait until we can leave her at home without putting her in the crate, or at least in one room without being completely contained. Nikki just gets better every day. I am so crazy stupid happy but at times I wonder if just my sleep deprivation kicking in…

End Note: During this whole process I can’t say enough how happy I am that we adopted instead of shopped. It warms my heart knowing we gave her a good home.