Friday Favorites

Bringing it back, y'all!

Favorite Find:
Making your own phone case on Casetify? Yes please!

Favorite Show:
I finally caught up on the three most recent episodes of The Last Ship. McSteamy as Captain McSavetheWorld oh. my. goodness.

Favorite I can not get enough of this:
I don't have a favorite food. That's too limiting. And I eat way too much. But guys, I cannot stop with the PowerCrunch bars! I am all about the Peanut Butter Fudge, but really, they're all so good.

Favorite Sweat Sesh:
More on this later, but Pure Barre! Holy. Crap. It is so doable, and simultaneously, so hard. I highly recommend trying Pure Barre in South Burlington (I have a free guest pass each month if you wanna join!) But, if that's not your style, barre classes are popping up everywhere. It's a low-impact, high-reward workout that I would honestly recommend to anyone.

Favorite Author:
Alright, we'll say this is at the moment because I truly can't pick just one. But! I cannot stop reading JoJo Moyes. I've read Me Before You twice now. And this month I finished One Plus One and started The Ship of Brides. Truly all spectacular reads.

The Dream Job Jungle Gym

I have had a pretty clear idea of the kind of career truly I want for a few years now. Far more refined than my original thoughts of I just want to be happy or when I grow up, I wanna beee....

That being said, especially in the last two years, the route to get there has been very foggy. I have a good understanding of all the steps, I know what I need to do. But I don't live where it is easy to do those things, and heaven help me, I'm not in a position to accept an unpaid internship just to gain that experience and get that other foot in the door.

But, despite my reoccurring discouragement, I really am getting through that fog. I have been lucky enough to be working in a position that is one of the single best stepping stones towards my dream job. I started at The Hotel almost 16 months ago, and it has absolutely been the beginning of everything I needed.

Tears in Shaws when I saw precious paper florals 
Still though, it is not what I envisioned, it's not the goal. I struggle to remember that being here doesn't mean I have sworn off the dream job. I am not stuck. This is not all that I will do.  I struggle to remember, I am 23 - that really, this is truly the beginning of the journey to that dream job. I continuously find myself referring to the wonderful, really unbelievable, Marina Keegan's The Opposite of Loneliness*

"We're so young. We're so young. We're twenty-two years old. We have so much time...What we have to remember is we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over...The notion that it's too late to do anything is comical. It's hilarious...We're so young. We can't, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it's all we have."

And as I have desperately clung to the notion of I am so young through the summer, I have come to the rather simple realization that this career, this foggy path to Dream Jobland, is only another jungle gym to explore. There is no straight shot, there is no one size fits all, there is no cut and dry formula here. It's not easy, but like any other set of monkey bars, it is so possible. There are obstacles, there are challenges, but really, once you're in there, and you just keeping completing each part, it suddenly seems so doable.

I know I am not where I want to end up. But I also am finally seeing, I am where I need to be. That doesn't mean I don't get restless, of course I still wish that job would land in my lap. But it does mean I'm a little bit closer to accepting it will just take time to get through the jungle gym.

Little heart sparks flying for my dream job at By Emily B.

*Frankly, I've read this no less than five times since picking it up last summer, and really I implore you to check out.

Post-Grad Check-Up

May has come and gone, but that was the one year anniversary of my graduation.

(Mostly) one year since leaving New London behind.

One year of working my tail off, and looking for that dream job, and trying to make some really big things happen.

One year of not worrying about that dreary town, or some dreadful people, or being woefully alone.

And here I am, more than one year later, and I'll be honest, I'm not even kind of where I thought I would be.

I don't have my dream job.

 I have a great job, a job that is forcing me to grow, and truly is a step in the right direction.

I don't live in the South.

I live in South Burlington though, which is actually crazier considering a year ago I would have laughed at you if you had asked me to move here.

I don't have any unnecessary people in my life.

I have wonderful friends, I see my family all the time, I work with incredibly dedicated people - I'm surrounded by people who aren't assholes, who aren't lying to me, who aren't making me constantly feel less than.

All in all, it looks successful. Maybe a different shade of successful than I had anticipated, but success none the less.

I can't say that even six months ago that I would have felt the same. (Totally just counted back six months to verify that it was in fact February-ish.) I wasn't in a bad place - far improved from fall of last year really. But I wasn't there. And I wasn't seeing that I am getting there.

Granted, I was working two jobs, seemingly constantly. I was solo in Montpelier, living with my family...and need I remind you that this past winter was a doozy? I don't blame myself for not seeing how good it was. And really, I don't think I would be appreciating it so much now, if it wasn't for all the months I spent worrying if this is it.

It's hard to look at who I was in May of 2014, and who I am now. It's hard knowing how seriously I was going to hurt through that summer and fall. It is hard to look at that girl, and know that she had to go through those months, to be this girl.

But what's really exciting? Knowing that what I am doing now, the things I am creating, the career I am building, is going to add up to something even better a year from now. That is so wonderful. That is something I wish I could have told the girl who was so alone and so sad last August.

Girl, it gets so much better.

Keep Coming Back

I think this is the fifth, or maybe sixth, time I've come back.

It is certainly the longest I've gone, the longest I've left this lingering in the background of my mind. The longest I've left long ideas and drafts sitting in my notes, waiting for a little more dedication, a little more this is time.

I could not really tell you why now is good, just that now is good.

A lot has changed - bless all that is good in this world, so much has changed.

Most days I can still see the changes as being for the best. Most days, I feel hashtag blessed to be right smack in the middle of my own life. Which, truthfully, is amazing.

The spark notes, since September 2014:

  • In October, I auditioned to be a Disney Princess 
  • In January, I gave up my title as Miss Auburn
  • In February, I interviewed for an internship at an event design company in Orlando
  • A week later, I assisted in my first wedding at The Hotel 
  • In March, I signed a lease
  • In May, I moved to South Burlington 
  • In June, I got my first super gushy wonderful thank-you from a bride
  • In July, I took the lead on my first wedding weekend
So I'll never promise that I'll never leave this behind again, but I'm here, and I'm whole again, and I think this is going to be a good run. 

How Bullies Gave Me My Most Successful Year

This month marks one year since the beginning of my last year at Colby-Sawyer.

Unsurprisingly,  I have seen a lot of posts, tweets, and so on with nostalgic musings. Also unsurprisingly, I didn't feel a lick of sentiment.  It is no secret that I didn't love my time at CSC - for a lot of reasons. But these waves of public nostalgia got me thinking, about the last year, about those two final semesters. It occurred to me, pretty quickly, that this has been my most successful year - in a long time, but maybe ever.

Here's the crazy part, it was also the hardest year of my life, hands down.

Backing up a little bit here... I have never been one to say I was bullied. Chiefly, because I had never really thought I had been. Yeah, at one point I was the chubby new girl from private school. But I never felt isolated because of who I was, or targeted simply because I was, or was not something.

But then by this time last year, I had to amend that thought.

In fact I spent the entirety of my last  year of college being talked about, treated like absolute trash, disrespected, and laughed at. And I wish I was kidding. And I wish I was being dramatic. And sometimes I wish this wasn't part of my story.

Because I was desperately unhappy. Devastated, can't eat, don't talk, wish-this-wasn't-my-life, unhappy.

But here's the thing, when I found myself surrounded by people who were cruel, disrespectful, selfish, and so focused on being negative and critical towards everyone around them, I saw how dismal a life that was. I saw how extremely unhappy they made themselves. I saw how they treated their siblings, their significant others, and their best friends, like they were inherently flawed, like they always must be seeking approval.

And I decided there was no way they were going to influence my life in a way that I would lose happiness, or opportunities, or anything because of them.

So I focused on school, and my internship, and reading good books. I competed in Miss Auburn, and then, Miss New Hampshire. I tried - and loved - new recipes. I dedicated myself to a workout regimen, and healthier diet. I fostered great friendships and relationships. And I found myself constantly recognizing how much I valued the truly kind, caring, funny, smart people that I had in my life.

I was more successful (guys, I graduated college, I got my dream internship, I placed 2nd Runner Up at Miss New Hampshire, I hit my goal weight, I eat broccoli regularly - c'mon) - I was more successful this year, while living in the most oppressive and destructive environment I have ever been in, than I have been in probably the 21 years that preceded it.

If I had to do it all over again, I don't know that I would.

It's hard to think that I would willingly put myself in a situation where people intentionally act maliciously towards me. But at the same time, I don't know if I would still have the amazing friendships that I have gained this year, or the experiences that have forced me to grow as a person, or even the appreciation for the good things that did happen this year.

I can't say I'm thankful for them. I'm not. I won't ever be thankful for them forcing me into a corner, emotionally, mentally, (and physically, if you consider how damn small those singles are.) I won't be thankful for the position they put me in, with my parents, and with my professors, and with my friends.

But I'm thankful for what it made me be. I know I wouldn't be the same person if I hadn't seen how negative, and cruel, and self-conscious, and horrible people can be. I'm thankful for the people that did care, and did remind me of the good things, and did support all of my crazy new endeavors. Because without those people, I surely wouldn't be able to sit here and say, that yeah, this last year, has been my most successful one...yet.


Friday Favorites

Sometimes I just need to sit down and remind myself of the good stuff, so here we go:

This week was the first time I have been paid since I started working in June. And as shallow as it seems, sometimes it really takes a solid paycheck to make you feel like all that hard work you've been doing is actually worth something.

Annd I got to working on my August PowerSheets this week... you know, that's not been easy in the last few months, as I'm often left feeling like I'm not accomplishing things, and my life is dragging in a way I never expected for myself. But there was something about sitting down this week and refocusing myself, and my daily life, towards grace and patience. That was good.

I also took to organizing all of my pictures in iPhoto into separate albums (which, if you know me well enough, is enough to be a good thing in a long week,) and when I finally got to putting photos into "CSC Senior Year" I actually felt a wave of nostalgia. Honestly, I don't know if there was ever a time in my four years there that I would have said, "Yeah, I'll miss this." But there it was, missing, and it was nice. It helps ease that how-the-hell-did-I-waste-four-years-there feeling. Plus, I found these gems:

Truthfully, there is really nothing like a sunrise over Mercer...

Beaudry wasn't so bad second semester... 

...and I'm not sure what I would've done with myself without that tiny shop on Lovering Lane. 

See, that's why we have Friday Favorites, for fond memories, and good reminders. 

The Weight (Again)

Most people that I know these days have known me a long time. Long enough that they remember what I used to look like in grade school, middle school, high school, even my first year of college. I looked very different than I do now.

I wasn't fat, but I wasn't healthy, and I certainly didn't look my best.

From my senior year of high school, to the end of my sophomore year of college, I lost about 30 pounds. Since that time, I have gone down about another 20. (To be honest, I don't own a scale. But I use the one at the gym, and go the doctor's enough that I've gotten pretty good at guesstimating.)

So, loosely, that's 50 pounds in five years.

A lot of that progress was motivated by a swimsuit competition. I have competed in swimsuit four times in the last three years (five, if you count walking the Miss NH stage in my swimsuit twice, which I like to, because dude, that is still not easy.)

Frankly, not much else could have motivated me to run, and to eat exponentially more vegetables and less bagels.

However, as much as I do truly enjoy running, and strength training, and eating more than Cheetos and pizza, it's become very clear to me (particularly in the last two months) that the weight that I was the week of Miss New Hampshire, is simply unsustainable. 

For one, knowing that you are at your lowest weight - that you are at a weight that you would compete in - is very daunting. It's a focus that I don't want for myself. I don't like the idea of constantly thinking about not eating certain foods, or for that matter, how long I have to run to negate the calories I consume. That's not enjoyable. And it's far too time-consuming.

I don't look that different from what I looked like when I walked that stage. I look like me. I look normal. I look completely average for a 22 year old, 5' 4" female. But I don't look pageant ready.

That takes some getting used to, and it takes a lot of understanding. Reassuring myself of what I know to be true - that I am healthy, that being skinnier won't make you happy, that enjoying food is important - even if pizza makes you bloated.

It's unrealistic to live like you are always two days away from competing in swimsuit. It's unrealistic for me, personally, to not enjoy food, and to spend five nights a week on the treadmill.

It feels really good to be at your lowest weight, to confidently strut across a stage in less than two feet of fabric, to know that you are at your most fit. I'd be lying if I said all of that doesn't feel amazing.

In the end though, it's not real life. Being constantly concerned with your body, your weight, how you might look to...anyone, it's not normal. And it's not healthy.

It takes a lot of patience to be okay with returning to pre-pageant weight. Do I plan on gaining back 50 pounds? Hell no. But, sliding back to my "non-pageant normal" is definitely taking some getting used to.

And you know what? That's really okay. Because as okay as it is to be thrilled with your unrealistically sustainable competition body, it's just as okay to be less than thrilled that you are losing it. After all, I worked damn hard for it.

What's nice about "normal" is that I can reach for the Oreos now and not feel bad about it. I can skip one workout and not feel like I have to also skip dessert, or carbs at dinner. It's not always easy, but honestly, it's so much better than living unrealistically.