Much To My Delight

Much To My Delight

Career Advice From a Bunch of Smart Ladies…my friends.

 

Growing up, I often fantasized about being a “career lady”. When I thought about my future, I could picture it a million different ways, but it almost always included me living in a big city and working in a job that made me feel good about myself. I’m pretty happy to say that after many setbacks, multiple returns to school, plenty of very low-paying jobs and several years of utter confusion, I have finally achieved both. Plus, I don’t even have to wear heels or pantyhose to work, which is doubly exciting.

I’ve been a therapist since 2009, which makes me a career-changer. Prior to this latest incarnation I also spent time as a beauty writer and editor, a nanny, a cocktail waitress, a private tutor, an elementary school teacher and a freelance copyeditor. The path to my career was definitely not straight– it was very wriggly, and occasionally rocky– but the struggles and setbacks have been strangely worth it, and ultimately very, very helpful.

So when comprehensive career resource The Ladders asked me to dole out career advice to recent graduates, I jumped at the chance. In fact, I’d had the idea to ask my friends for their career advice months ago in hopes of writing something like that already. In my therapy practice, I always have at least six or seven 20-somethings on my roster that are either current college or high school students or recent graduates, anxious about starting their professional life. These tend to be some of my favorite clients to work with, not only because I can remember and relate to that experience, but also because of their energy, optimism and hopefulness for the future.

So whether you’re just starting out, or at a place in your life where you’re looking to make a change, these are the words of wisdom from some of my most trusted sources–my friends. A few of my thoughts are sprinkled in too:).

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<My niece Allison, future career lady>

Jenn (me), Clinical social worker/ Psychotherapist

Bridget, Learning and Development Supervising Associate for a major corporation

Aimee, Stay-at-home-mom, Former HR professional

Michelle, Interior Redesign and Staging Specialist, Feng Shui Consultant and Owner of Inspired by Design, LLC

Rachel, Plastic surgery nurse/ Rock musician

 

What do you wish you had known when you were younger and just starting out?

“I was very lucky early on in my career to find a mentor. It is extremely beneficial to have someone to bounce ideas off of, to provide guidance on next steps, to be a sounding board.  Don’t be intimidated, strike up a conversation with someone further along in their career. Nine times out of ten, they’ll be happy to talk and help.” - Bridget

“Don’t try to take on a job that you’re not ready for.  Don’t try to impress people so they like you.”- Michelle

“It’s really okay if you don’t know what you want to do. Most of the time there’s no thunderbolt, a-ha moment where we magically figure it all out. A lot of stuff happens simply by process of elimination. Prepare to hit a few bumps and plan for an exit strategy. Start backward; what do you definitely not want to do? This might help narrow things down a bit.”- Jennifer

“I wish I’d known that everyone felt the same as me–lost. I was too shy to speak up.  I wish I’d known that it’s okay to ask for help.”- Rachel

 

What’s the biggest mistake or setback you’ve made professionally? How did you get through it?

“I don’t believe in mistakes. Everything is just a learning experience. I think the only mistake would be to view something as such. Again, things will go well, things will go badly. When things go badly, look at what happened, learn a lesson, and move on. No need to dwell, no need for a pity party.” - Bridget

“Success comes from confidence and knowledge gained by learning from mistakes.”- Rachel

“I make mistakes daily at work. I forget things people told me. I have said things that weren’t helpful. I always take ownership of my mistakes at work and am very quick to tell people when I’ve done something wrong, don’t have an answer for them, or feel like someone else would be a better fit for them as a therapist. To err is human, and taking responsibility for mistakes is important. Plus, if we did everything perfectly the first time out, we’d never learn or grow personally or professionally.”- Jennifer

 

To what do you attribute your success?

“I think my success is not professional but personal — I believe I am successful at being a mom because I am so proud of the way my daughter is developing. I guess I attribute my success at motherhood to listening to my instincts.”- Aimee

“Not giving up. There will be amazing months and years where everything seems to fall into place. There will be terrible months and years where you will question everything. It’s all part of the ride. None of it is permanent. So don’t get too cocky when things are good, and don’t get too down when things are bad. Just keep going, always.”- Bridget

“Having strong communication skills and a positive attitude. You can be the most well-qualified, impressively educated job candidate, but if you are unpleasant to be around or have a poor attitude, you’re going to hit a really big wall professionally. Don’t discount the importance of honing your interpersonal skills.”- Jennifer

Finally just admitting it was time for a change, doing what I love, and making my own rules. I love being my own boss and am proud that I’m able to do something I love and get paid for it.”- Michelle

 

What’s the most important thing to remember when it comes to your personal life?

“I think it’s important to find a hobby or volunteer work that can be scheduled into your calendar so that it becomes as much a priority as your work. Doing something that you truly enjoy is important for the soul and will keep you well-rounded.” -Aimee

“You are no good to yourself or your employer if you are burned out. If you don’t have time for balance, you need to discuss your workload with your employer. If they expect you to give over your life to the job, it may be time to find a new one!” - Bridget

“Try to leave work at work, whenever possible. Don’t internalize your job.  At the end of the day, it will be more important for your headstone to read “She was a loving mother/sister/daughter” than anything else. - Michelle

“It’s probably an unpopular opinion, but I don’t think everyone needs to be in search of their “dream career” in order to be happy. Plenty of people find jobs that may not stoke their creative fires, but pay the bills and allow the flexibility and financial ability to pursue other interests, hobbies and passions outside of their work.”- Jennifer

 

What’s the boldest choice you have made in your life? What have been the payoffs and drawbacks?

“Quitting my corporate job to to be a stay-at-home mom. The payoff is that I get to be the one to raise my daughter exactly the way I see fit. I get to witness every achievement, milestone and nuance in her days. I am proud to be the one to guide and shape her life. The drawback is that my work skills are getting rusty. I don’t know when or if I’ll return to the corporate world, but if I do, it’s going to be a huge adjustment.” - Aimee

“After being laid off of multiple jobs in one industry, I decided to start my own business in another one that I had always felt passionate about. Starting a business is very hard. Getting new clients is hard. Building a reputation is hard. But doing and enjoying the work makes it all worth it. The fulfillment I have when a job is done and a client is happy is the best feeling. Feeding my spirit and soul through creative work that helps people is one of the best feelings in the world.”- Michelle

“The decision to live my life for myself, not others.  To not worry about the opinions of others.  It might not seem very bold, but it was a very difficult shift to make in my head, and it’s something I have to remind myself of often.  People are going to question your choices, people are going to think you are wrong.  But people don’t have to live your life for you.  Listen to that voice in your head telling you what you truly want, follow it, and block out the voices of haters.”- Bridget

 

What is your best career advice for women?

“I would suggest looking toward careers that could offer flexibility, which would be helpful upon returning to work if she decides to stay home with her children for a few/many years. Careers where she could have her own practice, such as accounting, real estate, education, or therapy would be suitable for part-time work or flexibility.” - Aimee

“Be honest, upfront, respectful and never get overly emotional on the job.”- Rachel

“People aren’t mind readers; you need to let your expectations and desires be known.  If you want a promotion, your bosses need to know that. If you’re not satisfied with your compensation, they need to know that too. And if nothing is done about it, you need to look elsewhere. It’s  imperative to open your mouth and not be afraid to ask. And don’t languish someplace that is not filling needs for you. You have to be getting something out of your job. If you aren’t, you’re not building a career.”- Bridget

“Don’t avoid doing something you really want to do (like graduate or medical school) because it will take 2, 3, 4 years to complete it. Money is a different story, but the time will pass regardless. Make the most of it. Don’t say “it’s too late to do that”. It probably isn’t.”- Jennifer

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My husband is out of town, and I’m REALLY tempted to cheat.

 

I am really not feeling like myself this week. I feel edgy and irritable, and like I’m about to jump out of my skin. Vinny has been in L.A. since last Thursday and while I’ve never cheated before, I fear I am growing dangerously close. The temptation is killing me, and I’m dying to take this edge off.

Seriously, this Whole 30 crap is getting on my last nerve, and I really want to throw in the towel.

What did you think I was talking about?

So, I already knew this about myself, but extremes are not for me. I am pretty good at moderating myself, and I’m not enjoying the hard fast rules of the whole 30 program. I’ve noticed a real spike in moodiness, crankiness and even mild depression over this past week, and it’s not physiological. The psychological effects of being told everyday that I can’t do something I want to do are very real for me. Sometimes I want just a little piece of chocolate after dinner. I can eat tons of avocados, but I have nothing crunchy to scoop them up with, which just feels like a crime against Tex-Mex. And of course, I am longing for a cup of coffee with cream and light sugar in the morning. To be honest, I don’t wake up as enthusiastically or easily as I usually do because I don’t have coffee to look forward to. Is that pathetic?

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Last night, while waiting for the “historic” blizzard to actually touch base in New York City (spoiler alert- it never did), I made a pot of pulled pork and butternut squash chili, and it was bangin’. BUT I couldn’t stick any Fritos in it or grate my own snowstorm of sharp cheddar over the top, and it truly felt like less of a comfort. Afterward I whined to my mother on the phone, “THIS IS NO WAY TO LIVE!”

So why am I still doing this to myself? If I’m just gonna bitch and whine about it, why finish?

There are two key reasons why I won’t quit. The first one is the promise I made to Vinny, who actually has it much harder than me this week, as he’s out of town and hanging out with a friend he enjoys sharing large boxes of donuts with. If you’re going to travel anywhere on this diet, I imagine L.A. is probably a really good one, but I know it’s still really, really tough to eat this way away from home, so if he’s going to stick to it, so am I.

The second reason is to prove to myself that I actually can do it. It’s quite rare that I set a deadline for myself and make it, so having a bit of determination and sticking to a goal I set for myself is important to me. Plus, I mean, sheesh. If avoiding sugar and dairy and carbs for a few weeks is my biggest hurdle in life, I’ve got it pretty effing good. Plus we’re so close! A week from today, we’ll be totally done.

So today, because I already called all my clients and cancelled their appointments in anticipation of an EPIC and HISTORIC blizzard, I will stay home and indulge myself in things I love to do. I will play records and write. I’ll take a long stroll through the snowy neighborhood. I’ll probably eat another bowl of chili and softly weep because I cannot pair it with cornbread.

And I’m going to bake some cookies.

Because that’s what the human brain tells you to do to feel cozy on a snow day. You bake. So I will.

I won’t eat them, of course. I’ll roll the dough into a ball and pop it into my freezer so Vin and I can share hot, fresh, sweet, delicious cookies at the end of Day 30.

Sometimes we celebrate with food.

So shoot me.

I told you I was edgy this week.

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Another Whole30 Update: How I Feel About Food

So, you know how everyone’s always complaining that time is moving too fast and their life is just passing them by? Well, I did it. I cracked the code. I have solved this existential crisis.

All you have to do is go on an eating plan that eliminates two dozen of your very favorite things in life.  TIME WILL CRAWL. I guarantee it.

I’m writing this on Day 17, and I swear the last two weeks have been the slowest in my life. People say December flies by because of all the frenzied holiday shopping, socializing and traveling. I say it’s the cookies. Cookies are fun, and time flies when you’re having fun.

And that’s my complaint  about the Whole30 Challenge. It’s not fun. Sure, I get a few jollies cranking out zucchini ribbons with my spiralizer, and it’s a bit of a tickle creating something new with somewhat limited ingredients, but overall, it’s made the art of eating completely perfunctory. Eating this way is exactly is what it’s supposed to be– it’s eating for fuel, for energy, for sustenance.

 kaleDude…cauliflower can be made into pasta sauce!

breakfast

But I love eating for joy. I love cooking with joy. I love sitting around on my couch, drinking coffee with milk and sugar in it while reading cookbooks, dreaming of recipes I will create with joy.

So, that’s why eating “clean” 100% of the time is tough for me. It’s turned something that I often feel creative and inspired about into something that sometimes feels like drudgery (ie: endless food prepping) and occasionally makes me feel like I’m missing out on life’s best experiences. Sharing meals with others is wonderful, and right now I’m a pain in the ass to eat with.

This weekend, my friend Bridget and I went to the Bronx, simply because neither of us has spent a lot of time in the Bronx. We made our way over to Tremont Avenue, the Little Italy section of the borough. It was cold, so stopping into a cafe for hot drinks and pastries was a given. I sat there and had a plain black tea, and that’s it. I was proud of my ability to resist, but now I was that annoying person who sits across from someone enjoying their pastry while drinking black tea.  I almost jumped a waitress who floated by with a tray of cappuccinos, and when the kitchen door opened and the smells of fresh cream and sugar blew into the cafe I have never inhaled so deeply. I’m surprised I didn’t pass out.

In better news, Vin and I discovered Hu Kitchen, one of the only restaurants around here that is completely paleo. It felt like a hip, healthy adult cafeteria but instead of greasy pizza and milk cartons, everyone had organic chicken and a head of broccoli on their tray. We even saw a post-yoga Olsen twin walk in as we were heading out. I have no idea which one it was, but I was under the impression that they both survived on cigarettes and Starbuck’s, so I was surprised to see her there.

Anyway, for all my complaining, I’ll also say that my stomach and my skin look better than they did two weeks ago. I’m writing this while wearing a pair of jeans that haven’t fit comfortably in about a year, so there’s that too.

Truth be told, I’d rather be drinking coffee with milk and sugar in my slightly bigger pants.

But I’m sticking this thing out, no matter what. I’ll check back in again next week. Off to unsubscribe from the 25 instagram accounts that keep torturing me with pictures of doughnuts…

 

 

 

 

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Live Blogging the Bachelor. Yes, I watch it.

So, I’m not proud of it or anything but uh….I watch The Bachelor. For any of you who thought I was somehow too intelligent or thoughtful to get sucked into reality garbage, I am sorry to disappoint you. Hell, I even did a quick stint in reality dating myself (Elimidate, 2003!). But for those of you who also watch this hypnotically turdy television show, Welcome!

This year’s bachelor is a farmer from Iowa named Chris. He’s big and blonde, and the producers love to film him washing his gloriously hairless chest in his conveniently placed outdoor shower. Farmer Chris–that’s Prince Farming, to you and me– lives in a town with only 450 people in it, so finding a proper woman to tend his hearth and harvest has proven really challenging. The good news is that going on The Bachelor should totally increase his chances of finding a nice girl to bring home to meet his mother and his potatoes. Because that’s just what every budding makeup artist or dance instructor in head-to-toe sequins and fake eyelashes who goes on a reality show aspires to do — move to a farm in Iowa.

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photo from abc.com

This was the second episode, so he’s already knocked the group down from 30 to like 20 or 25, or 15 or 7. Honestly, all these girls start looking alike to me, and I can’t keep track of them, and I really can’t believe he actually knows all their names. I continue to imagine an embarrassed PA hiding in the bushes, holding up cue cards with names, ages and professions on them. By the way, did you know that “Sports Fishing Enthusiast” is a job now?

Tonight’s the first group date, so Farmer Chris takes six ladies to race tractors in downtown LA because… he’s a farmer! This is totally what life is like back home in Iowa! Oh! And by the way, the women have to walk through the city streets in bikinis and high heels on the way to mount their tractors. I don’t know much about Iowa or tractors or farm life,  but if this is the official audition for becoming a farmer’s wife I just got insulted on six womens’ behalf. I wouldn’t walk down a city street in a bathing suit for a yearly membership to his CSA.

After the tractor race, he chooses to spend some one-on-one time with a gal named Mackenzie. She looks about 12, but she wears overalls and named her son after a vegetable, so she might actually be the best match for a farmer.

Far be it from me to judge, but the girl named her son Kale, for chrissakes.  I mean, she’s only 21, so I get that she wanted to go with a trendy vegetable, but I just feel like she’s going to regret that choice down the line. She should have gone with something really classic and masculine like Chive or Fennel. Rutabaga has a nice ring to it.

Anyway, they’re drinking beers in a bar and she tells him she only dates guys with big noses. He’s a little offended that she just told him he has a big shnozz, then she really tries to woo him by talking about aliens.  Clearly she’s forgotten some of the basics of adult conversation since having a kid. She gets really fidgety and nervous because she’s going to reveal to Chris that she has a baby, but dagnabbit, he handled it like a gentleman and didn’t flinch or burst out laughing when she told him her kid’s name was Kale. Which is more than I can say for myself.

For the second group date, another group of women join Farmer Chris on a nighttime zombie hunt. When you’re on a voyage to find your life mate, this is the kind of event that really separates the wheat from the chaff.  Once all the zombies were dead, the group of 12 popped some champagne while leaning on bales of artfully placed hay. He compliments his eleven girlfriends and says “You guys really killed it today.” That Chris. So punny. And so little body hair.

The losers back home who didn’t get picked for the group dates get drunk and twerk on the bathroom wall while wearing clay masks. One gets completely blitzed and does a monologue mocking all the hair on a fellow contestant’s butt. Now that’s just tacky.

This leads me to wonder: What happens after THE FINAL ROSE in these womens’ professional and personal lives? Won’t every potential suitor think they’re a little warped for going on The Bachelor, and won’t every potential employer youtube the shit out of their episodes before calling them in for an interview? Can they ever be taken seriously again?

fields of glory

photo by abc.com

But tonight, no one cares about all that. Tonight is all about lip gloss and winged hairdos and low-cut evening gowns. And roses–a very finite amount of roses. A girl with Kim Kardashian’s face who’s dressed like she arrived at the mansion via genie bottle or magic carpet just admitted to Mackenzie (Kale’s mother) that she’s a 26-year-old virgin. The jig is clearly up on that front for the young mother, and she admits to being extremely jealous that the cards are now ever in the virgin’s favor because Chris seems like the type of guy who would really prefer his produce organic, so to speak. The next clip shows the virgin making out with Prince Farming with such intensity I’m pretty sure we all just witnessed the nation’s first live tonsillectomy.

Final roses distributed. One girl trips on the carpet. Furious laughter. Now the cut girls are making their exits one by one. Egregious crying. Why do people sign up for this?

My heart is full of emotion. I feel sad for the girls who got sent  home, the ones who must now explain their behavior to their bosses and families. I feel concern for the girl from Brooklyn, who I’m fairly certain was floridly psychotic on national TV and is grossly being kept around for entertainment value. And I too find myself jealous of the virgin.

I could never get my ponytail that shiny.

 

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Whole 30, Week One

As all good post-holiday cliches go, Vin and I decided to do the Whole30 at the turn of the year. We waited until the Monday after New Year’s, and let me tell you, I hit the cheese spreads hard in the days leading up to our descent into clean eating. Sometimes I can still hear the goat cheese crying.

If you haven’t heard of the Whole30, here’s a quick summary: It’s not a diet or a cleanse, it’s considered a “nutritional reset” where you eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet for 30 days, then reintroduce them slowly to see what might be problematic for you. You basically eat whole foods only — organic sources of protein like beef, eggs, chicken and fish, all vegetables, avocados, nuts, and fruits. On the no-can-do list are all processed foods, any type of sugar or sweetener, alcohol, all grains, all dairy, all soy, all unrefined oils. It takes a lot of planning, mindfulness and determination. We’ve done them before– Vin has actually completed two without me– and it was time for another. Here’s why.

DSC_2569Hey! Look at me all dressed up for Christmas dinner at Dad’s house. I swear we weren’t super-imposed.

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Somewhere in Central Texas…

We spent nine days in Texas over the holidays, basically eating ourselves silly as we drove from town to town. Something happens to me when I go back to Texas; it’s almost like I forget what a vegetable is or that there’s virtue and purpose in eating one. Allow me to reminisce and give you some samples of the meals we ate there. You’ll notice one recurring color. That color is brown.

catfish and okra

burrito

 

pie

bbq

We did go bike riding one evening in Austin, but even that was part of a food tour. And the bikes were electric so if you were too full from tacos and mini-donuts all you had to do was push a little button and the bike would yank you on up the hill.

Now do you see why we’re doing this?

At this writing, it’s day six and if I saw you walking down the street with a cup of coffee with cream and sugar I’d probably yank it right out of your hand and never look back. Vin would wrestle a bear to to the ground if the reward was a box of donuts. We dream about sugar the way some people aspire for fame or large amounts of money. I would also really like to jump inside a bag of sour cream and onion chips and eat my way out of it. But other than that–we’re doing great!

Here’s a breakdown of what the past few days have been like:

 

Results so far: Noticeably flatter stomach, reduced sugar spikes and crashes, great energy during workouts, reduced bloating, solid sleep

Complaints: Pretty nasty withdrawal headache on day two, cravings, difficulty managing social activities (I find eating out to be less pleasurable eating this way), constantly planning and prepping for the next meal

Favorite Meals:

soup

Ginger-garlic broth with shredded chicken and spiralized zucchini noodles

typical lunch

A typical Whole30 lunch for us: organic chicken breast cooked in coconut oil, roasted sweet potatoes or butternut squash, 1/2 avocado and a quick sauce of cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper

 

I’ll check in with a weekly update until we complete this sucker. I was a Whole30 dropout the only other time I did it, and only last 20 days. This time I intend to complete all 30. I love all those posts people write with their results at the end and I would like to be one of those people.

Have you ever done a Whole 30? What were your results like? Did you change any of your eating habits as a result?

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Tin Cups and Tea Saucers

Vin and I recently spent 24 hours with my grandparents in Texas–just the four of us–and I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. I really cherish time with them, and it breaks my heart that we don’t live closer. I think I annoyed them by asking a million questions about their lives–financial advice, health tips, thoughts on long-lasting marriage. I think if your grandparents are alive and you don’t ask them lots of questions you’re missing a golden opportunity to learn some of life’s most important lessons. My grandparents are content, in good health, financially stable, independent, and have had a strong marriage for 67 years. If I’m gonna get advice about life from anyone, they’re the ones I trust most to dispense it.

My grandmother worked as a teacher for over 20 years. She taught several grades, but the job she held the longest was teaching high school math. This has always impressed me, not only because I can’t do algebra to save my life, but also because it was uncommon for a woman of her generation to leave the home to work. Girls of this generation are still being told subliminally by toys that math is hard, but my grandmother taught it at the high school level 50 years ago. So knock that off, Barbie.

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Grandmother’s senior photo

I asked my grandmother if a lot of her female classmates had joined the workforce the way she had.

“Not many. A few did. There was this one gal Joan, who worked and cared for her mother, and then her sister for many years. She always worked and never married. Her mother said to her, “You don’t have to get married! You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do!”

Grandma lost touch with Joan over the years, but like all people of this day and age, reconnected with her over the internet. They began corresponding again, and Joan made a plea to her fellow female classmates. She said she’d heard enough stories about the husbands and fathers who were frontier settlers in West Texas. She wanted to hear the stories of the mothers and grandmothers from the previous generations, the sturdy Texas women who worked hard raising children, were active in their community and sometimes worked outside of the home.

My grandmother Susan (the retired high school math teacher) and her sister, my much-adored Great Aunt Harriet (one of the first women in the state of Texas to be licensed as a CPA) wrote the story of their mother Kathryn, a trailblazer who didn’t marry until she was near 30, then raised five children. When her husband passed away, several of her kids were under 18 and still living at home, but my great-grandmother managed to put herself through college and become an English professor at the local university.

If this sounds like I’m bragging, I am. I am unbelievably proud to come from this strain of strong, independent, smart women. Their stories have influenced and motivated me all my life, and they’re too humble to share them, so I will.

Anyway, Grandma’s friend Joan took all the stories that her girlfriends submitted and turned them into a book. It was called “Tin Cups and Tea Saucers”, which ventures so close to Steel Magnolias territory it makes me lose my mind.

Here’s where you come in.

I want to hear your stories.

I want to know about the women who have influenced you–your mothers and grandmothers, aunts and sisters.

What they were like, what they read, what they wore, the stories they told you, the songs they sang.

Please send a paragraph or two by next Monday, January 12 to muchtomydelight@gmail.com. I’ll write a post publishing snippets of everyone’s submission later in the week.

And cheers to you– the strong, smart, interesting women of this generation.

 

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Thank YOU.

As we start 2015 (have you ordered your flying vehicle yet?), I wanted to press pause and take a minute to thank you for following this little blog of mine. I’m a sporadic blogger with no actual schedule, occasionally inconsistent content material, and a small-ish readership. Size may matter in some departments (closet space comes to mind), but in this instance, I’d rather take quality over quantity. Which I have.

I have very cool readers and several regular commenters that really boost my motivation to keep blogging. As anyone who blogs and works a full-time job knows, it’s challenging to balance both, and there are definitely days when you want to back away from the keyboard and stay away forever. But just when I get close to shutting this bad boy down, I’ll receive a comment that encourages me to keep writing. You have no idea how much this feedback means to me, and how appreciated it is. One of the best things about writing for a blog (as opposed to other publications) is the immediate feedback you receive. For me, personally it’s a huge motivator to continue writing.

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Thank you so much for reading what I write. It means A LOT to me.

Hope you all have a wonderful start to this new year, and I hope to have many more stories to share with you.

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My First NYC New Year’s Eve

My first New Year’s Eve in New York City was a special one. We were ringing in the year 2000, and everyone was expecting the world to explode at the stroke of midnight.

I went out to a bar anyway, because if you’re gonna go, might as well go wearing sequins and holding a vodka martini. Not that I was cool enough to drink vodka martinis at 22. It was probably a daiquiri or flat coke.

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My boyfriend had broken up with me the week before– on December 26th actually–while driving me home after spending Christmas with his family. He gave me the whole “It’s not you, it’s me” schpiel, and it only took me about three minutes to realize he was absolutely right. It was my first holiday season away from my family, and I didn’t have the energy to feel sad about this too.

So on New Year’s Eve, I called one of my new city girlfriends and dragged her out to a bar. It was a $50 cover, which sounds reasonable 15 years later, but at the time, blew my mind. Time. Perspective. Inflation.

Oddly enough, my ex-boyfriend’s sister was at the same bar that New Year’s Eve. We chatted for a little while, then went our separate ways so I could kiss a pole at midnight and not feel too embarrassed. But, really there was nothing for me to be embarrassed about.

I was young, single, and had just found my first real job at a magazine in New York City. My entire adult future was still ahead of me. Nothing was set in stone, and everything was up for grabs. I had more energy than I knew what to do with, and was so starry-eyed and idealistic it’s almost comical in hindsight. I was hopeful. I was free. I was 22.

The world didn’t end that night. It had just begun.

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New Things I Tried in 2014

 

I’m a big, big fan of trying new things. As a human person, I think it’s important to keep doing stuff that falls outside of one’s comfort zone, so you can keep growing and evolving and stuff. As the year draws to a close, I’m reflecting on the things I tried for the very first time this year. Take a walk back with me, won’t you?

Spin Classes: Vin and I bought a groupon for spinning classes on a whim this summer. It sparked something tangible in Vinny, who ended up buying his own racing bicycle by the end of it. He even bought tight cycling pants. I wasn’t as moved by the experience. I spent the entire class trying to ignore the ad for nutella milkshakes on the shop window across the street, and it was the closest I’ve ever come to barfing while exercising.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza: Huh. Interesting. Not terrible. But let’s all stop kidding ourselves. This is not pizza.

Driving Again: I hadn’t driven a car in 10 years. Crazy, right? But then I went back to my hometown and zipped around for four days feeling free as the wind. And then I haven’t driven since. Whoops.

The Opera: I saw my first opera this year! It was so good I almost peed my pants. I even liked it better than the Pirates of Penzance.

Supervising Interns: So smart, so eager, so enthusiastic. I’ve loved the experience and will do it again.

Betting on the Horses: I went to a real racetrack this year. We were in the nice covered section where you drink mimosas and eat bottomless brunch, which made the experience feel classy and old-school. But then we went down to the legit betting areas where the weekly betters hang, a world of wood-paneled walls, five thousand cigarettes and broken dreams.

Attended a Motley Crue Concert:  I’ve never really been into hair metal, but combine middle-aged Long Islanders with die-hard Crue fans and you have the greatest people-watching event of all time. I was in hog heaven.

Roasting a Thanksgiving Turkey: I was always very intimidated by the idea of making a turkey. Once I started looking at it like a bloated chicken, it became much easier.

Eyebrow Threading: I am a wimp, and winced the whole time. My hairstylist Susie got annoyed with me, and scolded: “You’re a therapist. Be tough.” and later, a simple: “Be quiet.”

 

Things I’d like to try in 2015:

-taking a continuing education course for therapy

-buying a house

-remodeling a house

-furnishing a house

-making enough money to buy, furnish and remodel a house

 

What are you hoping to try for the first time in 2015?

 

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I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. Here is my holiday greeting to you.

I love this time of year, when my mailbox is flooded with more than cell phone bills, junk mail and Oriental Trading catalogs (warning: never order from there. You’ll get seven catalogs a month for the rest of your life). I’ve gotten quite a few Christmas cards this season, and let me tell you — your kids keep getting cuter and cuter. But you, on the other hand, may have noticed that your stack of cards looks thinner this year.

It’s not you, it’s me. I’m not sending cards this year. I’m simply not on the ball. I only started shopping a few days ago. I guess I was still hoping that Santa is real and would let me off the hook.

Did I just ruin Christmas for anyone?

My grandmother has been sending out one of those “year in review” Christmas letters for years, and they are always one of the highlights of the season for me. Over the years, our family has been updated on the status of her garden, granddad’s golf tournaments, and physical ailments ranging from sciatica to hip replacements. This year they got a Vitamix, which is actually pretty awesome. She usually encloses a recipe she thinks I’ll like from her local paper. Since marrying Vinny, she also sends me any article that mentions Croatia. She’s as sweet as she sounds.

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As a non-practicing Half-Jew/Half-Christian hybrid, I feel like I should probably call this my holiday letter, rather than assign it a specific denomination.  It’s a pretty cheap substitute for Tiny Prints, but I’m saving a ton on stamps and contributing to the welfare of our planet. Anyway, here’s my year in a nutshell:

To tell you the truth, this year has been a bit of a blur. It went really fast, and without anything major to report. We work, we take the subway home, we eat ourselves some dinner, and we have a few giggles with our friends on the weekends. Life is simple, but good. Very good. Few complaints, many blessings. God bless us, everyone.

We still live in our rented apartment, and are faithfully socking money away for a potential home purchase.  This is basically the focus of our lives and energy right now. It is taking longer than anticipated because we continue to torture ourselves by staying where the majority of our friends and family are, which unfortunately happens to be in one of the most ridiculously expensive places in the country.

2014 was our official “year of saving”, which makes it one of the least interesting years ever to report. Turns out, the money you spend is often equivalent to the amount of fun you have. I added some longer hours to my schedule and spent $60 on thermoses so we could take hot lunches to work with us everyday. We already lost one, so if any of you are looking for any last-minute gift ideas, that’d be pretty high on the list.

The highlight of our year was the birth of our twin nephews, who are so cute I want to cover them in gravy and sop them up with a biscuit. I hope this doesn’t creep out their parents. I think they’ll take it as a compliment. So basically, the most exciting thing about our year happened to someone else. That’s okay; we still get to sleep through the night.

Hope you guys are having a wonderful holiday week and your boss lets you out early. We’re currently road-tripping through Central Texas, visiting every relative possible along the way. And for all you would-be-robbers who now know about our empty apartment, save yourself the hassle of heading to our place. Vin packed his entire closet and half of mine for this trip, so all the good stuff’s already been cleared out. Go next door– they have a karaoke machine I’d love for you to take off their hands.

Have a great holiday, everyone! And save the neck for me, Clark!

 

 

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About Jenn.


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Kindly ignore the "food/friends/fun" part on the top of this page. It no longer describes this blog; I just don't know how to change it. Pretend it says something more accurate like "Stories of my Life", or "For a good time, read Jenn". About Me: I'm a 30-something Texan who moved to New York, became a therapist, and married a guy named Vinny from Queens. I delight in observing the world around me, and write about it here.

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