Mean people suck, but nice people are so nice

I didn’t pull into my garage because I was on a conference call, and my garage tends to make me drop calls.

I didn’t grab my laptop bag out of my car because I was still on the conference call when I parked my car and ran in the house to change into running clothes.

I participated in the end of the call while changing into running clothes so I could immediately get out the door when the call ended.  I had 4.5 miles planned and I could just get them in before it got dark.

I rocked the miles out (woo!), to come home to find my car – parked in my driveway, which is behind my house, out of street view – had a smashed passenger window and no more laptop bag.

whomp, whomp.


 

I do what you do.  Call police. Go back outside to start cleaning up so much glass.

My neighbors came home shortly after I started cleaning up glass.  They immediately got flood lights and their shop vac and started to help.  Then they invited me in and gave me a glass of wine…and sent me home with the bottle.

I started cancelling all the cards.  I needed to call security at work to report the laptop stolen.  I didn’t have IT or work security phone numbers.  My friends responded with all the numbers within moments.

Ex Hubs gave me the little bit of sympathy I kind of wanted.

When Casual Dating Guy (CDG) found out what happened and when I admitted I was kind of freaked and icked out by the idea that someone had been so close to my house, peering in my car (are people creeping in the windows of my house?  Also, there is no way to see my car from the street, so someone is lurking in my backyard?  Did they realize I left to run? Iccccckkkkkk.) he drove here without hesitation in the middle of the night so I wouldn’t be alone in the house.  And then ran through the checklist of all the things I needed to do that morning and made sure I had all the things to accomplish them (plastic for my window?  a way to get cash from the bank to pay for new window? etc).

When I told Jenn I needed to cancel our regularly scheduled Downton Abbey watching plans because I didn’t sleep well the night before, had been at the DMV for 2 hours, and the packing tape that was not at all keeping the plastic on my window was flapping at a decibel that I didn’t think possible and that was making me incredibly grumpy…instead she offered to change plans to bring me lunch and take me to Lowe’s to get duct tape and timers for some lamps in the house.

The guy at Safelite auto repair was genuinely sorry he couldn’t get my car in sooner than Monday.  When I did get there this morning, it was some of the best customer service I’ve ever received.

It is inconvenient to take care of all the fall out from this.  But all I will remember from this is how fortunate I am to have such wonderful people in my life, how grateful I am that they also disrupted parts of their weekends to be there for me.  I am grateful.

January Wrap Up, Bridget Jones Style

 

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I’m giving myself a solid B- for January.  Most points deducted for being less budget diligent the last week and a half. It wasn’t that it was terrible – I didn’t buy a new couch or go out every night.  I got away from tracking, and picked up more things that were not planned.  That’s not to say there weren’t significant wins in that area.  I cancelled ALL the things.  If it was a random, monthly subscription, it is now gone.  From gyms, to all kinds of Amazon products (Audible, Kindle Unlimited, 2 magazine subscriptions), to cable – gone. I went out to lunch ONE TIME in January.  My office is a very go out to lunch kind of place.  ONE TIME.  That’s amazing.  (This also allowed me to eat better, which was another part of the goal here.)

Four corners of the 2016 objectives:

Gain traction and prominence in Change Management field here in Ohio.  I was invited to speak at a Training Association meeting as a CM subject matter expert in Cincy in February.  I was asked to participate in a strategy session for another local professional organization two weeks ago.  And my local CM chapter had a 6 hour planning meeting yesterday.  Good progress!

Budget.  Listed in the above paragraph.  So much improvement was made, I really am proud.

Do something creative.  At the beginning of the month I thought the NOH8 photo shoot would fill this goal.  I didn’t end up going to Chicago.  That was the same day as the other local group’s strategy session, I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t have been able to leave Ohio until after 1pm, to get to Chicago that late, just to have to be back in my car less than 24 hours later, drive another 5 hours to come home… when I weighed the return on investment, it didn’t seem wise.  (Also, the budget part of me kicked in – that was 2 tanks of gas, the hotel, dinner there, etc!  Was it the best use of my $$?)  INSTEAD, I did something today that fulfilled the creative initiative.  I’ll share more details on what it was in a week or so.  (Sorry for the suspense.)

Also on the creative front was my trip to Disney and Universal.  It’s not that I’m more creative there, but I am really relaxed there.  And it is so nice to be relaxed.  It’s amazing what kinds of things I come up with when I’m not a little stressed out.

Look good, feel good.  8 pounds down in January.  Potentially could have been another couple, if not for the Mickey ice cream bars in Orlando.  Limiting my after work activities means I come home and go straight to the work out room to change (all the workout clothes are in that room – no stopping in my bedroom even.  There are distractions of cozy sweatpants, a book, etc there).  I’ve even been enjoying running again.  I didn’t see this coming at the beginning of the month.  I’m almost scared to write it down here.  I haven’t wanted to run in almost 2 years.  Maybe I just needed that break from it.  I also cut out most of the foods my W30 people tell me to.  It’s not that I’m doing that super strict protocol right now, but if I can keep it that way about 90% of the time, I do okay.  Yay!  The little rewards are enough to keep momentum going here – a pair of pants that is clearly too big now, looking in the mirror and only seeing one chin, and just feeling overall better.

Contributing to “look good, feel good” is also way less social media: I, like many I imagine, have a love/hate relationship with social media.  It’s all fun and games until it feels like it’s running your day.  I did a few things – turned off allllll notifications.  That little red circle with a number in it used to compel me to check it.  Not any longer.  That small change alone made a huge difference.  I don’t have the trigger to check it.  It’s very freeing.

 

Madam “President” (& W30D4)

(That title could be misleading… this is not  a post about Hilary Clinton. Or actual politics in any way.)

In the last month, our little non-profit group made a lot of progress.  There were many updates to share and more plans to make for our first event on 12/3.  I can’t believe we’re here**.

(**Here, just for clarification, is nearly affiliated with the global organization we’re starting a local chapter of.  There’s much work to be done before they recognize you, and it’s not like starting a franchise, like I hoped it would be.  The global org didn’t hand us a template for by laws, incorporation, creating the board, deciding on officers, etc, that was all on us.  There’s no funding from global org until a quarter after you’re official.  The work we’ve been doing since May will all pay off Jan 1, our *hopeful* affiliation date.  On my “start a non-profit checklist” we’re at the phase where we need to make sure we have enough people interested in becoming members.  We all think we do, but I need the rubber to meet the road now.  Lots of verbal interest in this industry, this group – now they just need to show up.  That’s the 12/3 event.  Our “meet the Board, get to know us and ACMP Ohio, join us won’t you” event.)

I’ve mentioned I’m an all or nothing kind of gal.  Go big or go home.  If I was part of something in high school or college, I was president of it.  Drama club, National Honor Society, Hotel, Restaurant Student Association, Disney Alumni Association… I even made sure I was the jury spokesperson the one time I was on a jury so I could be the one to answer the judge when he asked if we had reached a verdict.  It crossed my mind that I’d like to be president of this organization that I’ve driven, but I also have enough humility and wisdom (these days) to know that the colleagues I found in this process could have also stepped in that role.  I was honored about a month ago when they informed me I’d unanimously been decided as President.

There have been a few moments in this process that have felt a little surreal.  One happened last week when the decisions had to be made about officers.  We have 4 offices, 2 Chair positions and of the five remaining founding members, a couple of them each wanted the same position.  The ruling was: it was up to me.  They each sent me the position most interested in, one they wouldn’t take at all and I decided.  I spoke with each of them individually early this week explaining my decisions and everyone accepted the position offered.  It felt like the first official “presidential” thing I’ve done.  Today, a couple of them mentioned they had to sell their companies on sending them to the Global conference again this year.  They explained to their bosses that this year was especially important to go with the standing up of this local chapter.  I started to speak up, kind of stopped, stuttered and then asked if it would be useful if I wrote a letter of commendation to each of their bosses.  Something they could have in a file from the “president” of the organization stating how much time they’ve volunteered for this, how significant the chapter and global organization are, etc.  They all nodded.  It feels silly that a letter from me can do anything.

In case you’re worried, this isn’t going to my head, I promise.  It’s actually all very humbling.  I’m so grateful I was able to pull together this group, for this goal, and it’s all coming together.  I’m already anticipating the high that will be 12/3.  I’m excited to share this success with this group – a group I collected from scratch.  I’m humble and proud of us.


The W30 timeline tells me that this is a hard day.

Days 4-5: Kill ALL the things!

Day 4 dawns and you tentatively step out of bed, expecting to feel like you took a strike from Thor’s hammer in the temple. Instead, your head is surprisingly clear. Your limbs all feel functional. This could be a good day! You walk into the kitchen and as you’re greeted by the smiling face of your significant other you are suddenly overcome…with the desire to punch them in the face for smiling this early in the morning. Congratulations! You’ve made it to day 4.

Now, I have no clue why this phase happens, or why it happens here (and not on, say, day 14).* I just know that it happens. Often. Even experienced Whole30ers (myself included) go through this phase. Every nerve is lit, temperance is non-existent and the only solution to the problem seems to be to Kill All of the Things.

This phase, too, will pass. Beg your spouse, children, parents, co-workers, for patience and forgiveness – as nicely as you can (and no, “shut up and leave me alone!” does not count as nice). Take a deep breath and eat some sweet potatoes. I promise, you’ll feel better soon.

*It’s probably because your brain is never very happy when you tell it that it CAN’T have something, and take it out of it’s habitual and accustomed comfort zone. An unhappy brain is a stressed brain, an anxious brain, a fearful brain. No to mention your hormones are desperately trying to keep up with your new food choices, your gut is trying to heal, you’ve had a headache for the last three days, and you REALLY MISS YOUR DIET COKE. So yeah, maybe we do know why this is happening now…

Umm, I didn’t want to kill anyone today, so that’s good.  I felt edgy and kind of jerky last night – I assumed that was due to the Cards tragic loss and the existential author crisis of last evening. I did get a little tough love on the non-profit crew today.  I pulled out the Missouri Show Me State and told them it was all well and good that a lot of people were telling us how happy they were to have a local chapter, but until I saw them joining our LinkedIn Group or requesting updates through the website the people were not real.  My VP took the challenge to the group with a number goal.  They have 21 days to get 31 more people either in the Linked In group OR registered on the website.  I love my VP.  She is the perfect balance to my drive.  Anyway, I don’t think that was related to the super boring salad I had for lunch.

I bought some cookies for the group, they sat on a tray in front of me the whole meeting.

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I had no cookie.  There were a couple left over, I made our Chair of Events take them.  I have no idea where this willpower is coming from, but the wish I made on a star tonight is that it sticks around.

Now I will go make some hot tea and read more of my new book, The Clasp.

And then one day…

Last month a dear friend from my Louisiana days posted a note on Facebook about a sermon she recalled from years ago.   The pastor had spoken about what happens when that “and then one day” moment happens…  You know the kind, you’re going along, happy as a clam and then one day you get news that shakes up your life.   It might be news that is amazing and remarkable.  It might be news that wrecks you, tests your faith, and seems insurmountable.  How do we react to these “and then one days”?

That dear friend was struggling with a bad news kind of one day and I’ve been thinking about her ever since.   This week I’ve had two  friends who have been dealing with their own “and then one day” moment, also both of the bad news variety.   Last month I got a “and then one day” moment with the phone call telling me the new job was mine.   Clearly, a good news situation.  But I can’t help think of how soon things can change.  How abruptly your life can change.  How we never know when the biggest days of our life are going to happen.

It made me think about some of the “and then one day” moments of my past, days that one piece of news changed things…

  • I was just having breakfast in the dorms…and then one day a friend’s roommate joined us and told me about the Disney Internship program
  • I was just running errands with mom…and then I heard dad had 6 months to live
  • I was just reading the paper in my underwear… and then one day Ex Hubs proposed
  • I was just walking in the door after work… and then one day Ex Hubs told me he wanted to move to Louisiana
  • I was just binge watching Grey’s Anatomy…and then day an old colleague emailed me about a job opening at the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission
  • I was just trying to keep my head down and do a job…and then one day I accepted a new co-worker’s offer of getting lunch
  • I was just finishing training New Hire Orientation and on my way to a follow up meeting…and then one day I stopped in my boss’s office on and got fired
  • I was just packaging chocolate at Kakao… and then day I got a call from BGSU about grad school
  • I was just bombing some project manager interviews…and then one day I finally got 10 minutes with the hiring manager and got the dream gig in Columbus

I didn’t wake up any of those mornings expecting the news I got that day.  And it’s nice to think about the amazing surprises that are headed our way, but with the recent bad news surprises my friends have been dealt it’s that side of the spectrum I’m thinking of.  A couple years ago I read Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project book and she talked about the time to prepare for the unexpected was when things were normal.  You can’t start saving after you lose the job.  You don’t want to try and find the paperwork when there’s an emergency.  I’m motivated to try and be more prepared where I can.  Get organized.  Take better care of me in so many respects.  Finally make that list of accounts and passwords that I keep meaning to make just in case “and then one day” strikes.  I’m probably not about to become a doomsday prepper or anything.  I’m just saying, I could probably do more to be able to enjoy the good days and be prepared for the scary “one days.”

Onward, upward

A while ago I applied for a Senior Consulting position at work.  Then I learned 28 other people applied for it.  That’s a lot.  I did the first interview right before I went to Philadelphia.  I got a call two weeks ago from the hiring manager.  I thought it would be to schedule the second interview.  Turns out it was just to offer me the job.  No second interview necessary.  I was surprised, speechless, and very, very happy.

Before I even interviewed for it, I decided I needed some new corporate headshots taken.  It was time to update the work profiles and such.  Also – The Secret -right?!  Act like you already have the thing you want.  So, I got the shots taken.  Then I got the job.

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I officially start in a week.  I’ll get to do change management work at more of the enterprise level than from the IT organization where I’ve been.

It’s all working out, friends.

Feel fine vs. being fine

A few weeks ago, my wise pal Claire says the following:

I worry that you keep trying to convince yourself it is okay rather than working on getting to okay.

My elegant reply was:

Huh?

I said, aren’t those one in the same?  Isn’t convincing myself I’m okay how one gets to okay?

No, she says.

I’ve been letting that marinate for days.  Slowly, it started to become clearer to me – what Claire was telling me.  I wasn’t doing things that helped me get to okay.  I wasn’t being interesting, or learning, or enjoying my days.  I was just going through motions telling myself I was fine and then completely losing my stuff every now and then.

So, I decide to start watching a Ted Talk every morning.  It’s a way to think about a new idea, listen to people with passion and wake up with questions and ideas about the world.  It’s going really well.  I like this new routine.  It helps me have interesting things to talk about, guides me to look up more about an idea, encourages me to listen to music or get more sleep or avoid monogamy – whatever the speaker might be advocating.

Then, I took a drive through West Virginia.  Most of the time I think I don’t like nature, and then something will happen and I will realize I am wrong.  The weather was perfect, the trees were a mosaic of fall colors all the way up the mountains and I was enjoying every moment of it.  And the drive became a way to leave some bad feelings behind me.  I feel like I found some peace on the drive.

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Today I read this article, by my new guy, Mark Manson.  He writes the following:

Our culture reinforces this subtle form of selfishness, this constant identification with feelings and wanting to feel better. But feeling better is not necessarily being better. This fallacy is present in our advertisements, in our political speeches, in our films and literature, in our self-help industry. If you feel bad then it is bad. If you feel good then it is good. “Go with your intuition.” “Listen to your gut.” “Follow your heart.” “Live for today.”

Clearly, Claire could become a rock star essayist.  This is the idea she was trying to get me to understand a couple weeks ago.

The rest of the article is worth a read.  It’s about fear of simple things – and how we perceive our actions to be so much harder.  For example, How could I possibly tell my parents I want to quit medical school when they really wanted me to go?  Easy answer: You tell them you’re quitting medical school.  Mr. Manson gives a few examples of these things that we’re making so much harder, when from the outside they are so simple.  How do I ask that guy out?  Well, you go up to him and ask him out.

I’ve been in this introspective tailspin for what seems like ages now. I’m starting to think it’s been worth it.  I’m starting to see how some things come together.  And when I’m really on the other side of this, I’m going to be so much stronger because of all the work I’m doing right now.  It doesn’t always feel good, but it’s the right thing to do for me.

 

I like helping.

Yesterday was a bad day.  Nothing happened to make it a bad day.  Nothing except creepy old demons popping up in full force.  I’m soooo over the demons.  Being a “silver lining” kind of gal, there was one moment that was really positive.  I had a good idea.  (Insert Sports Night joke here…)

I’ve read a lot about habits and patterns and trying to change them.  The one big take away I had from that line of study is that habits exist in three phases: trigger, behavior, reward.  One of the worst habits I’ve picked up lately is delaying getting out of bed.  But I don’t hit the snooze and get a few more minutes of sleep, I grab my phone, pull up Netflix and turn on an old rerun of some show and lay in bed, slowly waking up while listening to something I’ve certainly seen before.  Yesterday, in a moment of clarity, I thought – fine, keep the behavior, but start your day with something better than old 30 Rock reruns.  Grab the phone and pull up a Ted Talk.  Start your day with a new idea, someone talking passionately about their life or how to make the world better.  Trigger: waking up, behavior: watching something while consciousness seeps in, reward: staying in bed the extra few minutes.

Keep the Ted Talk thing in mind while I tell the next part of the story.

(But first, a note.  Because I’m about to talk about still being all blue and broken from the last relationship.  What I have done a bad job at, and maybe because I didn’t even know how to verbalize it myself until recently, is explaining exactly what is wigging me out so completely.  I don’t want the ex back.  I broke up with him for reasons and those reasons solidified and multiplied with his behavior since the break up.  I’m wigged out because I am shocked at his behavior towards me.  The other disservice I’ve done to myself is letting myself near any electronic device after a couple of drinks.  Because what I tend to email or text to the ex is the end of a thought or conversation I’ve had in my head – and without the logic that got to that conclusion – he assumes I want him back.  The thing that wigs me out so much is that I became the villain in this story.  I wanted to get married.  I was willing to make sacrifices and compromises and live a life very different than the one I had imagined for myself because I loved him that much.  He wasn’t in love with me.  He wasn’t ready to talk about that kind of future.  I could tell.  I could tell in his pulling away.  I could tell in his avoiding certain discussions.  But he wouldn’t man up and break up with me so I did with him.  I couldn’t love him as much as I did and have to find enough to love me as well.  It was honest and brave – to break up with a man I still had soo many feelings for, soo many plans for… What wigs me out is that he couldn’t be as honest and brave back.    He had to turn me into the villain and himself into the victim so he could avoid taking responsibility for any part of this.  We could have parted amicably.  He could have said, “Sarah – this is so hard.  You are so great and it’s been amazing to get to know you better.  I understand that we are both trying to be active and present in our lives and our current long distance situation does not facilitate that. ”  Or something like that.  Instead, for the last five months I’ve been carrying around the broken love and broken plans and broken pictures of us in the future AND all the blame, when his actions are what led to the break up.  He was relieved I did it and he didn’t have to.  Why can’t we just tell the truth about this?  I’m wigged out by him not being at all the man I had hoped he was.  That he said he was.)

I busted out my trusty copy of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert a few nights ago.  There are a few passages that have become like a best friend’s advice for moving on and dealing with my stuff, especially when it comes to men.  One of her most famous passages by now is the conversation between her and Richard from Texas about soulmates.  Recently, Gilbert was with Oprah on some kind of speaking tour and I ran across this snippet, where they talk about that passage:

She says in the clip (if you didn’t watch it – which you should – it’s 2 minutes) “Whatever they fired up in you, you might have needed fired up, and then they need to go.”

If I look at the last relationship through that lens, it helps.  I loved D so much that I looked like crazy to get a job in Ohio.  I wanted to be closer to him.  It was going to take something that massive to drive me from the pretty comfy life I had in St. Louis.  To leave my family, to leave my perfect apartment, to leave my park and Farmer’s Market and Claire and Ex Hubs and my routine… I landed in Ohio just fine.  Maybe his job was just to bring me here, where professionally I’ve had more opportunities than I could have imagined in St. Louis.  I’m better connected to the work, to things that challenge me.

So – now you have the habit/Ted Talk part of the story, and the Elizabeth Gilbert fan girl part of the story.  This morning, after my rough mental health day, I woke up, grabbed my phone and pulled up her latest Ted Talk.  She just did this one a few months ago.

I just love her.  Watch the video – it’s about 8 minutes long.  Recently I wrote about the purpose article and how it struck me, and I think she has some of the same lessons.  What are the yearnings, what makes you forget to eat, what kind of crap can you put up with because putting up with that crap is better than not doing what you love.  “I loved writing more than I loved failing at writing.”

She goes on to say that after the success of Eat, Pray, Love she was struggling with creativity and felt a lot in common with her unpublished diner waitress self.  This bit spoke to how I felt yesterday.  For some reason, by last night, I was back in the worst place about this silly break up.  I knew it had to be more than about not having the guy anymore.  First, he was a nice man, but he’s not for me for the long haul.  Logically, I know that.  Second, I’ve been through break ups before.  Why was I back in the worst emotional place?

It’s because I feel empty.

For about a year surrounding my divorce I felt I was in a place where all I did was take.  I took energy from the universe, kindness from friends, all the pity I could get and I gave nothing back.  I tried to right that the next few years.  I thought of the first half marathon I ran as part of that atonement.  I was raising money for the disease my cousin died from.  I ran 13.1 miles because I didn’t love it.  Because I knew I needed to do something outside of me.  It’s hard to explain, but I feel I had gotten to a great balanced place.  I was giving a little more than I was taking and I was happy.

Then I moved to Ohio.  And I gave a lot.  I gave all this love and energy and attention to someone who I thought was deserving.  I put a lot of my own wants aside to be what I thought he needed.  And I would have kept doing it if I hadn’t bought a house that needed someone to stay and work on it over the weekends.  I would have continued to go up there most weekends, plan and pay for trips, make special dinners and special plans, compromise some of my key values because they were very different from how he lived, get Cleveland Browns t-shirts… the list goes on.  And some of that is okay – some of that is relationship stuff.  But I failed to get what I needed back.  I continued to show up and ask “how can I be nice to him today, how can I make him feel special and loved and important?”  I never got that back.  So, sure, I had this coming, right?  I saw what was happening and I let it happen.  I could have broken up with him for any of those reasons too, but I didn’t because I loved him.  And I was making choices.

And now I feel empty.

There’s an emotional bank, right?  Have you heard this metaphor?  There are going to be days that are emotionally hard hitting.  Days I hurt someones feelings.  If I’ve made deposits in that person’s emotional bank, then hopefully the withdrawals can be weathered.  By making me the villain in this story, by not acknowledging and validating all the efforts I made, there were no deposits made in the ole emotional bank.  But I kept spending.

And now I’m empty.

Back to the Liz Gilbert Ted Talk.  What do you love more than you love yourself?

I like helping.  (You were wondering where that title was coming from, yes?  No?  Moving on…)

After my semester in Disney, I realized I wanted to go into hospitality because I loved answering the tourist questions.  I loved being the person with answers.  Even in what should have been a dark time after getting let go from the casino in 2011, I had these part time jobs that let me help people AND talk about food all day!  I loved helping them pick out chocolate and master the mandolin (cooking one, not the instrument one).  I got a master’s degree because I wanted to help organizations be what they were supposed to be.  I love when strangers stop me on the street and ask for directions, and if I don’t know, I stand there and google it for them!  I offer to take pictures of families in front of land marks so they can all be in the picture.  I like helping.  This is the thing at the core of me.

I feel empty and it’s hard for me to help anyone right now.  I gave a lot this year.  But at least I feel like I’ve finally figured out what the demon is that I’m trying to slay.  I need to find a way back to helping.

From my pal Liz Gilbert (because I really do feel we are pals) and her Facebook page:

Maybe this is just a year that asks questions.

Maybe this is just a year that asks questions.

Quinn and I will just have to figure out the answers.

Quinn and I will just have to figure out the answers.