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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Loud Lady :: On Letting Go and Moving on from 2014 (A Guest Post by Fenn of The Honest Badger)

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I LOVE New Year's. It is my favorite time of year. I really get into making New Year's Resolutions and talking to EVERYONE about theirs. (Which usually doesn't go well because so many people are far cooler than resolutions, apparently.) I usually start reviewing my year around Thanksgiving and planning my resolutions at the beginning of December and then really solidifying them into a tangible list by the end of the year. But this year, I haven't felt it at all.

If you read my blog, you might have read about my job woes and my relationship woes and the rough year I've had. But if you're not a reader of my blog, let me recap :

I started the year by quitting a job in retail that I had hoped would lead to management and a career. The management was just AWFUL and all of the management team has since left that store. I followed that up with a day of telemarketing (no). Then I found event marketing which was high paying and suited my personality. The first company had a change in management and so I left after 3.5 months. The second company seemed like a great fit until I learned that my manager thought I didn't fit into her standards despite my crushing the numbers and goals. There was a lot of gossiping and backstabbing. I left at the end of the season, which was 5 months later. I had secured another position with an event marketing company who promptly lied to me and still hasn't paid me for my training. I found another job in retail, very low man on the totem pole. I also found another job in event marketing that lasted for three days. If you're counting, that's seven jobs in one year.

I started the year in a relationship that I was fully devoted to even though my friends were already telling me to jump ship. In January, we had been together for three months and were starting to see nothing but problems that would continue until the demise of the relationship in July and cutting off all contact in September. During that time, I was manipulated and emotionally abused while my ex received all of my money as I paid for all of his rent and utilities and groceries and weed and going out...which left me with nothing. Event marketing was high paying and I saw the end of that relationship and my financial freedom so I splurged and opened a credit card and bought a new laptop and a new iPad for my mom. (Yes, ours were old and broken.) I also had car issues and had to open a line of credit to pay for the repairs or would have no car. But I left event marketing before receiving a couple of large paychecks I had budgeted for and am now working for just above minimum wage, scrambling to make $100 a week and am broke as fuck.

I ran a marathon in January which was the culmination of two years of training. After the marathon, I fell into a depression and didn't run for the next eight months. I gained back all the weight I had lost in training and started to feel badly about my body for the first time in over a decade.

So when I started looking toward next year, I just couldn't. I was just so totally done. All I could feel was failure. So much failure, like a fucking mountain on my shoulders. When Stephanie asked me to contribute a guest post to inspire ladies to live loudly in 2015, I felt like I was probably the least qualified person to do so. If I couldn't get inspired about my own life, then how could I ever inspire anyone else? So I started by writing a post on my own blog and came to a really heavy and awesome realization.

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YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY MOVE ON WITHOUT LETTING SHIT GO.

If you want to move on and live loudly and all you can see is everything you didn't accomplish and everything that didn't live up to your standards, YOU WILL NEVER GET ANYWHERE. You will carry the baggage of your past and it will weight you down and shove your face into the ground and all you will be able to see and taste is dirt and you will not be able to look at your future.

Maybe your year hasn't been so shitty as mine. Maybe you've only had a few setbacks. But sometimes, even small setbacks can feel bigger than they are. It's easy to look at everything that sucks and much, much harder to realize this is an obstacle you can overcome. Maybe it's a speed bump or maybe it's fucking Everest, but you can climb that fucking mountain and accomplish your goals.

I had to realize this in order to move on. So when I was feeling really shitty, I hopped online and reapplied for community college. I decided that if life was super happy to fuck with me, I was going to escape to the fantasy land of college. Even better, community college, which is cheap and lets in EVERYONE. And while I was doing that, I'd think of whatever my next step is. Which is when I had another realization.

EVEN THE SMALLEST SHIT CAN CHANGE YOUR VIEWPOINT.

After I applied for community college, I realized : I ran a fucking marathon and I'm in training to run another one. I am in a relationship with an amazing man and it is so loving and supportive that it actually feels too good to be true. I have a job with a better management team and future possibilities, so there is still hope that I will work up into that management job I want. And if that doesn't happen, then I'll stay in college and become a teacher...which is something I've wanted to do since I was a child, but one discouraging voice told me I wouldn't fit and I fucking listened. Why did I do that? Which leads me to my last point:

LISTEN TO YOURSELF AND NO ONE ELSE.

People in this world are really good at shitting all over my parade. They are really good at pointing out all my flaws, or everything they don't like about me that they think I should change. People are super great at getting offended or being flaky or just not being the best fitting piece in my puzzle. And not one of those people knows me like I do. I go to sleep with myself every night and I wake up with myself every morning and everything else and everyone else can change but I will always have myself. So why am I listening to anyone who doesn't want to do anything but totally support me and tell me I can do absolutely everything that I want to do?

Seriously.

So I'm not doing it anymore. I'm listening to me and I'm letting go and I'm moving on and looking forward to a brighter year with more possibility. Because at the end of the day, I am resilient and resourceful and if something doesn't work out, I can always do something else.

And you know what?

So can you.

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Fenna Blue is a NEOhio native. She's an avid geocacher and photographer. Her favorite pastimes are snuggling with her fluffy kitties and cussing like a sailor! She writes for her personal blog, The Honest Badger, and TV review blog, Gotta Watch It. This post is in support of my new program for 2015, Loud Ladies.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Loud Lady :: 4 Things I Was Taught in 2014 (A Guest Post by Natasha of Sweet Mama M)

When talking with Steph about what I've learnt this year, my immediate reaction was "What haven't I learnt?". All the reading in the world doesn't prepare you for the exponential learning curve that is the first year of parenthood. When I cast my thoughts wider, however, I realised that the lessons that life has taught me this year run far deeper.

Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves

Yikes, there's nothing like practically halving your income to make you realise how frivolous your spending can be. While I'm glad that I was able to stay home for the first year of our son's life, I won't deny that it's been tighter than what I expected. It has made my husband and I sit down and really look at what our goals are and what we value. When times are good, you can often take your situation for granted. Don't let 2015 start without working out exactly where you want to be - whether that's buying a house or a glorious tropical getaway- and how you are going to get there.

Ask for what you want

I feel like I am continuously learning this lesson... Maybe some day it will stick! Whether it is a collaboration for a blog post or just needing some time off from being mummy, how is anyone expected to know my needs and desires if I don't verbalize them? It is so easy to fall into the trap of "woe is me" when we haven't actually asked for what we want. Don't presume that you'll be denied; people can be nicer than you think. Be loud!

It's not me, it's you

Yes, you read that right. One thing I have learnt this year? Sometimes, people suck. Sometimes circumstances change and friendships end and that is alright. While I think that my little guy is wonderful, some friends have slowly slipped away as I have less time to make most of the effort. I could choose to wreck myself doing the running after them. I could choose to be sad about it. Or I can choose to close the chapter on it, appreciate the good times and move on with my life.

Even Superman needs to sleep

I was the mum of my group of friends long before I was actually a mum. Maybe it was a hang over from being a camp counsellor but I was always the one checking on the welfare of my friends, doling out pain killers, hugs and tissues as needed. I was the one making frozen meals for friends or doing loads of washing after new babies were born. I'm still that person but I'm getting better at letting people do things for me. The last couple of months have been particularly rough at times for us and I've dropped the strong persona and let others know how challenging we've found it. And they want to help, bless them. Sometimes you need to let someone else take the wheel and look after you.

I feel like I'm in a much more genuine place moving forward to 2015. We're not looking to keep up with the Joneses - who even says that they are going in the same direction that we are? The relationships I have are much more honest and open, our words are loud and our family is moving forward with honesty and intention to achieve our goals and dreams.

Natasha is the voice behind SweetMamaM.com, a lifestyle blog about parenting, food and exploring the great big world around us. She lives with her husband and son in rural New Zealand. This post is in support of my new program for 2015, Loud Ladies.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Loud Lady :: The New To-do List (A Guest Post by Christina of Happy or Else)

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At the end of a normal day, I often determined whether it was a good one or not based on how much of my to-do list got done. Before I had a baby, I'd been known to be up all night finishing tasks whether for work or fun. The day would end when the work was done and I was happy.

THEN life changed. A little person needed a lot of my attention and I got a lot less sleep. There were days where I got "NOTHING" done and went to sleep feeling like a failure.

SO, I had to make a shift in my definition of "a good day."

I started measuring the success of each day in how I reacted to challenges and all the things I did with pure, loving intention. I was grateful for handling 14 baby outfit blowout changes with a smile or letting my hard-working husband take a nap even though I was tired myself. My identity and self-confidence stems from being authentic and loving.

As for the to-do list...

At the start of each day (or the night before) determine ONE thing that you want to get done and ONE thing you NEED to get done. I now like to go to bed knowing I got my micro-mini to-do list done. Anything on top of those two things is icing on the cake. I also feel like I've "lived" by doing something fun even if it was "journeying to Target" for a matte pink lipstick I saw someone wearing on Instagram or baking "packaged" brownies for a friend.

Christina is a former Naval Officer, acupuncturist and now mom. She lives in Orange County, California taking lots of photos and few things seriously. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Bloglovin, and at her blog Happy or Else. This post is in support of my new program for 2015, Loud Ladies.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Loud Lady :: Why You Should Follow Your Curiosity (A Guest Post by Shannon of Awash With Wonder)

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"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."
- Albert Einstein

I graduated from college in May 2013. I don’t know if that’s when the “Follow Your Passion” advice was reaching it’s fever pitch, but it sure felt like it. Everywhere I looked, there was a new successful entrepreneur, blogger, or artist telling everyone to forget about pursuing a conventional career and going wholeheartedly after their passion.

This wasn’t exactly bad advice. It definitely sounded more interesting than whiling away my hours at some nondescript office, doing a job that sucked the life out of me.

The only problem is that I didn’t have a passion. Or, I did, but I wasn’t particularly interested in pursuing reading books/walking in the mountains/writing sometimes as a career. None of those things felt like something I needed to shape my life around, and then I started to feel bad that I didn’t know my life’s calling at twenty-two.

The thing about passion is that it burns out. It has to. Maintaining that kind of intensity of emotion is unsustainable; you’re going to ride that feeling all the way to the top, discover that reality can’t meet your expectations, and have a dizzying ride down.

But you know what doesn’t burn out? What catches fire the more you pursue it?

Curiosity.

One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, encourages everyone to follow their curiosity instead of focusing on their passion.

The neat thing about curiosity is that all it asks of you is that you be open minded and willing to explore. Whenever something captures your attention, you simply have to follow it…and maybe it’ll lead you to your life’s purpose or maybe it’ll just lead to some new part of yourself you didn’t know existed.

Here’s the secret: when something makes us curious, it’s normally because pursuing it will answer a question about ourselves we didn’t even know we were asking.

I’m much more interested in a life of self-discovery than I am of one where I’m pouring myself into a box I’m likely to grow out of.

Following your curiosity allows you to grow. It allows your interests to evolve as you do, and ultimately it makes you a more interesting person with more to offer.

In 2015, my goal is to explore a new topic every month. I’m dedicating a whole year to the pursuit of curiosity, and I know that it will be one of the most revolutionary years of my life. I’m giving myself the freedom to explore the world and find glimmers of myself in unexpected places.

What would happen if you did the same? If everyday, you dedicated yourself to an hour of learning about something new? And not just something that will look good on a resume but something that will enrich your life. What if you approached each new day at work or home with an insatiable need to learn?

Who knows where your curiosity will ultimately lead you.

I know this for sure: not everything your passionate about needs to make money. Not everything your passionate about needs to define you. Sometimes, it’s nice to create a safe space around your passions, so that engaging in them is truly an escape from the rest of the world.

So, switch your focus to curiosity instead. Have fun! Let 2015 be a year of curiosity for you. When the year is over, you’ll be more knowledgeable, more skilled, more interesting…and, hopefully, a little more alive.

*Photo found here.

Shannon is a romantic who isn’t interested in happily ever afters. She writes about intentional living at Awash with Wonder and everything interesting at The Year of Curiosity. This post is in support of my new program for 2015, Loud Ladies.
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