October 2016: In a Nutshell.

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The Many Looks of Halloween 2016

The Many Looks of Halloween 2016

Good Morning and Happy Halloween, boils and ghouls (I’m going to miss typing that until next October!) I can’t believe my favorite month is coming to a close and the holiday season is upon us. I’ve been anxiously waiting for Halloween to get here for a while now, watching horror movies and dressing up in costumes- which isn’t really all that different than how I spend any other month out of the year, but still- in order to prepare for taking my niece Trick-Or-Treating when I get out of work and tonight’s last spooky hurrah with friends shortly after that.

In just a couple of weeks I’ll be getting ready for Thanksgiving, and then- Yikes– Christmas and New Years. Where does the time go?

While October is almost always a pretty busy month for me, anyway- these past few weeks have been nothing short of crazy. For starters, I hit the ground running- kicking off things in Vegas and then San Diego for a few days before I headed back home and immediately dove head-first into work and preparing for/budgeting a potential move to the West Coast in early-to-mid-2017. Also around that time, I began putting things into place for my annual Halloween giveaway while simultaneously adding the finishing touches on a series of Halloween costumes for multiple parties I’d been invited to near the end of this month.

DeLarge Family Reunion! Malcolm McDowell and I at Rock & Shock 2016.

DeLarge Family Reunion! Malcolm McDowell and I at Rock & Shock 2016.

Then, there was the Rock & Shock Horror Convention in my hometown a couple of weeks ago, getting things in order for the last Comic-Con I’ll be attending for 2017 in Rhode Island in early November, recovering from the psychological torture and despair from the recent season premiere of “The Walking Dead”- and fighting off both food poisoning and a relentless cold I’d picked up during a layover in Chicago on my way home from San Diego within mere days of each other.

And then, of course- there was my car. My 2010 Kia- which has been experiencing a multitude of issues for the better part of two years now due to the shoddy work and negligence of a local mechanic I won’t name publicly- finally died for good early last week- prompting me to take some time off in order to find a new vehicle in order to go about my daily routine and get me where I need to be at any given point. I finally decided on a 2016 Elantra which I’m scheduled to pick up either later on today or tomorrow. It’s my first brand new car that I’ve purchased entirely on my own- which was both a stressful and kind of terrifying experience- but I’m really excited to get it on the road and to have something I can drive where I WON’T feel like I’m constantly risking my life by simply starting the engine.

My new ride! I named it Glenn.

My new ride! I named it Glenn.

Such an unexpected and abrupt change definitely delayed things for me a bit. While I focused on finalizing details with the dealership, my agency, my insurance company, and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (a daunting task if there ever was one)– I fell behind on my blogging. My “Horrors of Netflix” series was short and bitterly sweet this year- which left me feeling rather disappointed in myself since I love writing those posts so much- and recipes/reviews/eerie photography trips I had every intention to take and make were postponed if not cancelled outright due to my schedule being jam packed while I had to travel to sign papers and make calls to push things along.

I’m hoping that now that the dust has settled and everything is sorted out for the time being- I can catch up on posts and be more prepared for next October- where I have every intention of going above and beyond with my blogging and horror movie reviews to make up for this year’s unplanned lapse in activity!

For November, prior to the usual holiday craziness- I’m hoping I can take a moment to just relax and catch my breath. I’d like to get caught up with everything: from something as small as personal e-mails all the way to the more important stuff like my workload at the office. I want to get organized and ready before things start getting a little more festive around here. I have plenty of posts planned that I’m looking forward to sharing and more than enough food I look forward to eating once Thanksgiving rolls around.

Thanks to everyone who regularly reads this blog for your patience while I dealt with a LOT this past month! It’s truly appreciated! Here’s hoping the last leg of 2016 is a bit more calm and forgiving for all of us!

Have a Spooky (2SPOOPY) Halloween!

xx

September 2016: In a Nutshell.

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Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Peppermill, LV. 9/29/16

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas. Peppermill, LV. 9/29/16

Good Morning from Fabulous Las Vegas! The sun hasn’t even started to rise yet, but I’m wide awake in my penthouse suite at The Palms (helllooo, unexpected upgrade!) while my body tries to rest from a day of travel, check-ins, temperature changes and a few celebratory drinks with friends now that I’m here and ready to start my vacation.

Tonight I’ll be heading down to Sam’s Town Casino to catch a gig by some of my favorite Las Vegas-ians, The Killers- and getting ready to dive head-first into my favorite month of them all- but I wanted to talk about September, first. Although much of this month felt like it was the lead-up to where I am now with all my packing and preparing- other important things happened that shaped the beginning of Autumn, as well.

I think one of the biggest things that went down, and that I did for myself in September 2016 was finally open up about everything that was going on in my love-life and with my now-ex. It wasn’t an easy thing to do- especially since some of those wounds were still pretty fresh at the time- but afterwards it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and that I was free of all the stress that had been building up in me by not talking about it openly and so candidly.

Following my post on the subject, I had so many messages/Tweets/e-mails waiting for me showing love and support. More than one person had contacted me to reveal they, too- had gone through something similar- which also helped with the healing process. It’s easier to move forward into uncertainty when you find out you’re not the only one who has done it and come out on the other side unharmed. I spent hours writing back to those who reached out- both offering and receiving advice- and I’ve never been more ready and excited to see what lays ahead for me in the world of dating and romance.

After I take some much-needed “me” time, of course- which is part of the reason why I’m here on the West Coast for a while.

I continued to grow and thrive within my career in September- which will hopefully open more doors and opportunities for me to broaden my horizons while building my resume/portfolio and generating more income by year’s end. I have so many things I want to do and accomplish- and I’ve been working so hard to ensure that I’m able to do so. It feels like it’s finally starting to pay off in a big way.

Football came back (and how about them Patriots, huh?) this past month, politics were both hard and terrifying to watch as my country creeps closer and closer to Election Day- and back home the leaves are starting to change and fall with Halloween swiftly approaching- which is the only consistent thing this season, really. I can always count on the leaves turning colors and breaking off the trees even though so much else in my life has changed this past month and year.

People sometimes say that Spring is the season of re-birth or rejuvenation- but for me, that feeling has always been represented by Fall. I’m essentially shedding old things and old ways in my life to make room fo newer and fresher experiences and changes (even if that means they come/happen during the dreaded Winter!)

For October, I’m really looking forward to participating in more Fall-activities with my friends, wrapping up the 2016 Comic-Con circuit as it begins to die down over the course of next month and through November- and preparing for Halloween and the subsequent holiday season (and yikes, I can’t believe I’m writing that. How are we this close to the end of 2016?)

I’m also half-excited to start up my much beloved/dreaded “Horrors of Netflix” series again throughout the course of the month, as well as put together my Halloween-themed giveaway. I had wanted more than anything to have a special giveaway during the Summer- but my break-up put a hold on a lot of things in my life while I dealt with it as best as I could. I fully intend to channel that effort and ambition into picking out some really great, 2spoopy4u items to include in this upcoming collection.

And now, the sun is starting to rise here in the desert- and I feel a big breakfast and a long, hot bath calling my name.

Thanks for being eye-opening, empowering and kind to me, September. Here’s to October being just as wonderful.

xx

I Just Got Out of a Toxic Relationship.

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Since the end of May/beginning of June, those of you who have consistently followed this blog may have noticed that I briefly mentioned or skirted around some issues I was dealing with in my personal life- in particular- my love life. While the details were scarce and the specifics may have been flat-out omitted at times, it was probably obvious I was processing some stuff with undeniable difficulty.

I’ve been on the fence about writing this post for a while. I wanted to give myself enough time to reflect and heal so my thoughts and words would be clear and concise. I wanted the take away to be something positive- not negative or (ugh..) full of self-pity. More importantly, I wanted to make sure I approached such a personal and sensitive subject with the respect it deserved. A few weeks ago, there were only two ways to do so on my mind:

1. Not discuss the subject at all- and go about my merry way without so much as acknowledging that I spent a good chunk of my Summer being heartbroken, and then not-so-heartbroken as I pulled myself together (and up)– and moved forward. I could have continued posting recipes, and writing about makeup and movies and all the things I love about Fall- and not once mentioned what I had been through.

But I realized that wasn’t being honest- both to myself or the readers of this blog- and honesty is something I value, respect and encourage. The truth of the matter is this: as happy and as grateful as I am for the good people, things, opportunities and adventures in my life- everything is not always sunshine, rainbows, unicorns and kittens all day, every day. It isn’t for anyone.

2. The other approach- nearly decided in my state of anger at the time- was to be petty and not hold back at all. I was so tempted to share it all: full names, times, places, phone numbers, screenshots- everything. I wanted this post to be the first thing anyone saw when they Googled the man who had hurt me and wasted years of my life. I wanted to forward the link on my blog to his family, friends, co-workers. Everyone. It was the karma I thought he deserved.

But, just like option one- I had a realization (after I’d calmed down and took that aforementioned reflection time.) I am not a spiteful or vengeful person. I don’t want anyone to hurt or suffer permanently because I was temporarily upset. It isn’t worth it- and it certainly isn’t worth losing myself in hatred or payback.

Instead, in my moments of clarity- I discovered the previously unknown third option- this option:

I wanted to share what had happened to me this Summer and what I’d learned- both for the catharsis of writing it down and to look back on if I ever started feeling sad and needed a reminder of my own strength- but also to help any other individual out there who finds him or herself in the same position I was in and who may stumble on this post someday when they’re looking for help or some perspective on the matter.

This blog is a window into my life, after all- good AND bad aspects of it. I had opened up following my father’s death and the resulting anxiety/depression I was experiencing after the fact- and now I’m opening up again.

So, let me start by saying it plain and simple: A man I loved and trusted- a longtime friend and lover for years- changed to the point where he was unrecognizable. And the cost was a multi-years-long relationship.

To understand the present and what little I know of the future, you must first understand our past.

The Beginning…

I met my ex (who, to protect his privacy, will now simply be referred to as my “ex” in all things: ex-friend, ex-lover, ex-business associate- just “ex”) while we were in high school. He was two years older than me- a junior when I was a freshman and a senior when I was a sophomore. We belonged to a couple of the same clubs/extra-curricular activities. His father was a teacher at our school and I was a student of his for a brief period of time.

I thought my ex was cute when I first met him- albeit a bit eccentric and maybe even dorky to some degree (and this is coming from someone who had glasses, braces, and dressed like Hot Topic and a thrift store threw up on me every day- so that’s saying something) but there was a mutual attraction. He was funny, flirty, and had accomplished a great deal academically at such a young age. He was the valedictorian of his graduating class and had obtained a full-scholarship to an impressive university in Western Massachusetts. He was somewhat arrogant, too- which I thought was actually a bit deserved given that his drive and determination had worked out in his favor- even though he had difficulty spelling basic English words correctly- a trait that followed him all the way up through our very last correspondence this year (I swear to God that is my first and final cheap shot. I promise.)

We had only gone out a few times during our two years at school together before he’d graduated and moved away and I focused on finishing up my own high school career and finding myself.

We didn’t see or speak to each other again for another four years. At that point, he had graduated college and I was 22 and out of high school- having took off running the second I was handed my diploma. I had briefly foregone college to instead travel, meet new people and try new things while simultaneously figuring out what it was I wanted to do for a career. While he continued to try and hone his craft, create art and find reliable income (and residence)– I had turned into somewhat of a party girl- jet-setting to England, hanging around festivals in California, or staying up all night in New York City.

MySpace (I feel like a fossil even typing that) is what brought my ex and I back together. I cannot for the life of me remember who sent the first message- but I vividly remember us making plans to meet up. I remember getting ready for our first date in years- and I remember feeling like no time had passed at all when we sat down for dinner (I also remember we hated the movie we saw that night- “The Eye” starring Jessica Alba.) We had both done and experienced a lot in the four years we’d lost touch- but there was common interest, mutual respect- and that same spark of attraction.

We made plans a couple days later- then again a couple days after that- and more a few days after that.

It didn’t take long for the relationship- whatever you want to call it or however you choose to define it- to become physical.

We carried on like that for just over four years- between him traveling to different cities or even countries for work or me taking off to visit friends across the country or go to a festival/show. We sent each other postcards, brought each other trinkets and knick-knacks. Sometimes if our schedule allowed- we’d take a day trip together. Other times (if we were lucky)– a weekend. He met my friends- who weren’t particularly big fans of his due to that aforementioned eccentricity and still prominent arrogance- but I ignored their criticisms. I met some of his friends. We spent a few holidays together- and if we couldn’t see each other during the actual holiday- we always caught a movie or grabbed coffee after our allotted time with our families was done. His father, whenever I’d come over- always treated me with such kindness. I never felt out of place or like I wasn’t welcome.

I look back with a sentimental smile. I was so happy then. I adored my ex. He was one of my best friends. I trusted him implicitly. I loved him and felt he loved me, too.

The Beginning of the End…

Things began to turn after my father died- and not just for the obvious reasons of losing a parent- but because it was the first time my ex had ever flat-out abandoned me when I needed him the most. I had phoned him in the early morning hours after my father had passed and I had, in a daze, come home from the hospital. I sobbed into the phone. I told him I needed him.

… And he told me his father would help me through my grief. I did not see him or hear from him again for eight months. Two seasons passed. The Boston Marathon had been attacked by domestic terrorists- and in the sunny afternoon hours of the day following the younger Tsarnaev brother’s capture and arrest- my ex reached out to me through my friend to talk- treading lightly and cautiously for obvious reasons.

Now, I’m aware that anyone in their right state of mind would tell someone who pulled such a stunt after a friend/lover they presumably cared a great deal about suffered such a loss- to go play in traffic- but at the time I really wasn’t in my right state of mind. I was still in mourning. I was coping with guilt and anxiety- and I was lonely. It was very easy for me to forgive and slip back into the comforts of the familiar embrace of someone who at one point had made me so happy and who I had trusted.

Again, it was like no time had passed and it didn’t take long for us to fall back into old habits. He was sensitive to the topic of my father and admitted he too, had felt the pain of my loss. He went as far as to tell me he carried my father’s obituary with him in a book (until the book was stolen some time prior to our meeting back up.)

He was going through financial hardships at the time- and I began to pay for things to ease the burden on his shoulders. I continued to pay for things for months. So much, in fact, that he began to jokingly refer to me as his “sugar mama”. At the time, I didn’t see anything wrong with it- but looking back- I believe it began to change his perception of me and my role in our relationship. I was starting to become less of a person in his eyes, and more of a commodity.

We almost moved in together until work took him out of state for nearly a year to New York in late 2014- and that’s where our friendship/relationship began to fall apart beyond repair.

Prior to my ex skipping out on me, the apartment we planned to share, and Massachusetts- we had become physical again- and while he was away- the physical aspect seemed to be the only thing on his mind. We exchanged risque texts, photos, and made plans for him to come back to Massachusetts or myself to come to New York for a weekend/visit that never seemed to come to fruition. He always told me he was too busy with work- although I only recently found out he had started dating a girl in New York whom he didn’t want me to know about or for her to know about how he was carrying on with me through what one may consider inappropriate photos or texts.

When his apartment was robbed in New York and he had to break his lease early due to his feeling unsafe on the premises, he turned to the law firm I worked for at the time for legal counsel. I personally handled every aspect of it- even getting him a full refund of his security deposit and a partial payment to cover his stolen belongings. For Christmas that year- I gave him the money to replace his stolen laptop since he needed it for his job. I mention it not as a slight against him for falling on hard times or to congratulate myself for being fortunate enough to spend money on someone- but because I really want to stress how I would have done anything for him because I simply wanted him to be happy and successful.

That was the last holiday season we’d spend together.

Upon his return to Massachusetts the following Summer (2015) after the expiration of his contract with the company he had worked for in New York, my ex came back a completely different man. Gone were the days of tender moments and spending time together solely just to see one another or enjoy each other’s company- replaced instead by sexual demands and no tolerance or patience for my emotional needs.

I was confused but complicit- feeling responsible for his change in some way and driven by guilt to make it up to him somehow. I was made to feel I had done something wrong. I loved him, and I missed my friend- the one I trusted and who I felt safe with. I wanted to get him back. I didn’t care what it took.

I truly believe by then my ex knew this- and used it to his advantage to get whatever he could out of me.

Throughout the remainder of 2015 and into 2016- our relationship became a mostly sexual one, unless my ex needed money or my legal expertise to further his career or business endeavors- although I wasn’t sure I was comfortable with it. The fog of sentimental memories had started to lift and I realized I was being treated like a toy or a personal ATM. He began lying to me- poorly and very obviously- about his whereabouts and what he was doing- using work as an excuse for never being around when I needed him, for being cold and for being distant. When I questioned it- I was treated like a burden. When I mustered up the courage to leave him and our past behind- he knew exactly what to say or what to do to give me a glimmer of hope that he still loved me and was just overwhelmed with his responsibilities. I was promised- multiple times- that things were going to get better and get better soon for us.

And once I had given in- he’d waste no time in sexualizing me and our relationship as soon as he could and the cycle would start all over again. My body and my money was all he cared about- a sad fact I only recently came to terms with over these past few weeks. At the time- my self-esteem was shot to Hell- and I fully admit I was too weak to turn my back on him.

By the end of Spring, I found out he was sleeping around with other women- a bitter pill to swallow when he barely had the time to treat me like an actual person who had done nothing but love and support him and his work for years- and when I told him I couldn’t continue on with him anymore: he assured me he had been safe each and every time (also a lie- and probably the most infuriating one of the many) and stressed how important I was to him. He told me he didn’t want to lose me- how he couldn’t bear it.

I had told my ex, more than once since his return from New York when things were indisputably different between us, that if either one of us had found someone new- someone we were serious about and someone we wanted to try and build a future with- then whatever we were doing had to stop. I never wanted to be “the other woman” if he was involved with someone else. I never wanted to be cheapened like that and I never wanted to play a part in deceiving another woman. I had boundaries- even in the weird, gray area I’d found myself pushed into by him.

I thought he understood, but just like so many other things- I had been wrong.

The Breaking Point…

And now, after all of that explanation- we find ourselves up to this past Summer- where a woman my ex had been dating since last November (right around the time I parted my ways with my former employer and he’d expressed faux-concern for me) contacted me after going through my ex’s phone, finding my social media- and this blog- and had put the pieces together. He was building a life with her while carrying on with me behind her back. I was forwarded hundreds of screenshots of things he had said, proof of things he had done- lies he had told each of us to our faces and via text.

We gave each other as much information as we could to get the facts in order and then confronted him immediately- and when blaming both her and I for his actions, then attempting to turn her and I against each other to lessen his accountability, and finally trying to make things right with each of us (only to continue to lie and attempt to seduce us both one at a time literally HOURS after giving each of us an individual face-to-face explanation and apology)– he finally caved.

And by “caved”, I mean he found some other unsuspecting woman to prey upon after blocking both myself and the other woman he had duped and used from his social media- presumably so we couldn’t warn his new girlfriend of what she was getting herself into.

Since June and up until the end of August, he has insulted me and my intelligence, tried to devalue me, discredited the 15 years we’ve known each other (and the 7 we spent as lovers) and get me to question myself and my self-worth. I have been degraded, manipulated, lied to repetitively- and then I’ve been sweet-talked, charmed, given sob stories, heard every pity party excuse imaginable- and have had empty promise after empty promise made to me. The other woman involved in this has experienced the same treatment from my ex- who wants to have his cake and eat it, too- by having us both while never being questioned or forced to answer for his behavior or his actions.

He also apparently didn’t realize this had since turned into a “sisters before misters” situation and both her and I had been sharing EVERYTHING with one another to keep the other from being manipulated or deceived.

At the very end of August, with more lies he’d told in the previous weeks being exposed- I had that “A-ha!” moment that many people in toxic relationships have before they get out for good once and for all. I remember sitting in my car, staring at my phone, and asking myself- out loud- “Ashley, is this really worth it? Is the stress, the pain, the turmoil and the tears REALLY worth the effort you’re putting into this guy who isn’t even the same person he was all those years ago? Is fighting to preserve your fond memories of the past and of someone who is long gone worth destroying your present or your future?”

And just as soon as I asked myself the question- I responded, again out loud- “absolutely not.”

The End…

The truth was finally apparent: I had allowed myself to be treated like a doormat for the better part of two years simply because I had a history with my ex. A history I thought I had to fight to preserve when it was clearly obvious- to everyone except me at the time- that I was the only one actively trying to keep it, and the relationship, intact. I was the only one who wanted things to be okay between us. I cared about him more than he cared about me. I was a distraction for him- something convenient to have around when he was bored or in need of comfort and/or support.

If my ex didn’t value me enough to be honest with me, to treat me with respect and compassion, to not use me solely for personal gain or sexual gratification- or care about me and my health enough where he would use protection while sleeping with other people after everything we’d gone through together and after everything I’d done for him- then he’d never value me or care about me enough to accept/admit accountability for his actions or change his behavior to be a better person and a better friend.

And that’s the type of selfish, irresponsible, immature, toxic and borderline-abusive person I can’t have around me. I couldn’t allow him to keep pulling me under with him as he drowned in a sea of his lies and deception. I had to break the surface and swim my way to safety, self-love and self-respect.

I texted my ex that day- one last time- to let him know he was not welcome in my life anymore. I asked him not to contact me again. He had replied, to insult me and try to once again pin the blame on me for our falling out- but I barely read the message before I’d deleted it and blocked his number.

I have returned any and all things he had gifted me over the course of seven years. Postcards, books, trinkets, clothing, and photos of us throughout our time together. I did not want mementos of him in my home or my personal space. I’ve erased all of our pictures from social media- a lengthy process if there ever was one- but it was remarkably refreshing to not have to be reminded of him and how happy we used to be or the type of person he had gradually turned into every time I signed onto any of my networking sites.

The Silver Lining…

I fully admit it has been a difficult Summer and walking away from someone I once loved with every fiber of my being for YEARS was not easy. I cried- a lot, and there were a few days where I couldn’t eat anything- but those tears have become less and less frequent and have been replaced with a newfound sense of strength (and also I’m back to eating everything in front of me- thank God.) I don’t stress out as much as I used to. When my phone beeps- I don’t immediately cringe worrying about what lie of my ex’s will be exposed next or what excuse he’s concocted to skirt responsibility he’ll throw my way. I have more time to focus on my work, my friends and my family- all of whom have shown me a tremendous outpouring of support and approval for my decision to do what was right for me and not what I thought was right for him.

More importantly: I’m able to focus on myself. In the days and weeks following the very final conversation with my ex- I realized how much of myself I’d lost leading up to and throughout this ordeal and what I’d given up for someone who couldn’t even meet me halfway. It made me sick. It was a wake up call and it’s been nice spending time alone and doing things on my own that make me happy.

It feels, like the first time in a long time, that I’ve finally stood up for myself. Granted, it was long overdue- but I did it and I’m proud of myself for not simply rolling over and tolerating being treated like an object or an afterthought anymore. In the 2006 movie ‘The Holiday’ (a cheesy romantic comedy and one of my absolute favorite guilty pleasures)– the late and great Eli Wallach tells Iris (a character I relate to in so many ways and who is played by the Goddess Kate Winslet)– who has just confided in him about the man she loves who has left her for another woman but keeps giving her false hope and leading her on:

“He let you go. This is not a hard one to figure out. Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.”

I’ve been thinking about that quote on and off since all this began to unfold this past Summer- and it resonates with me now more than ever. I’m a leading lady- and it’s about time I started being treated like one. Just like Iris, I put my foot down and told the man who was hurting me for years I was finished with him- and it felt amazing.

Let me reiterate: realizing you are worth it and you are deserving of happiness and love feels AMAZING.

Surprisingly, one of the better things to come out of this is the friendship I’ve developed with the other woman who was hurt in all of this, too (I’m still not revealing names for privacy reasons- but I would like to state that calling her “the other woman” makes me feel really bad since that’s not what she is at all. I just don’t know how else to refer to her without posting her name!)  It’s unfortunate but fairly common to see women turn against each other in scenarios like these- leaving the actual at-fault party free of blame while they’re too busy bickering or going out of their way to tear down the other- but this time the women actually teamed up to hold the person REALLY responsible accountable.

Since her and I have met in person (and she’s truly lovely)– we’ve hung out a couple of times. She’s bright, funny, and someone I have a lot in common with apart from our questionable taste in guys. I may have said goodbye to a 15 year friendship- but I gained a new one- and it’s based on honesty and support. I don’t regret that one bit.

handleit

In Addition…

Despite the occasional aggressive or angry undertones scattered throughout this post- I don’t want to vilify my ex. That was not and never will be my intention. He hurt me- badly, and his behavior was downright deplorable and reckless at times- but I don’t wish anything bad on him or for him. Our entire friendship and relationship wasn’t ALL bad. We did have good times- and I will always cherish those memories and in some way, I will always cherish him for being a part of them.

I just can’t have him in my life or anywhere near me anymore.

I admit I am not a perfect person- and I’m sure in many ways I was not the ideal friend/girlfriend/lover/whatever- but I tried my hardest to be and I fought as valiantly as I could to keep things together. I accept my share of blame and I take responsibility for those less-than-perfect things I did/said throughout the years. I own up to my mistakes and I have learned from them. Just like I’m learning from this now.

I hope my ex gets the help he needs. He has some deep-rooted honesty and commitment issues that I truly think he needs a professional to help him work through. He is surrounded by “yes!” people- meaning that the people in his life enable him and allow him to continue to act the way he has leading up to this point and they refuse to hold him accountable for any wrongdoings- and it has taken a toll on him and the relationships he has with those who care about him and who can’t sit back and not keep him in check from time to time.

I truly do wish him the best in all things. I wish him love, happiness and success in whatever path he chooses. I hope he has a long, healthy and fulfilling life. I really and honestly do- but I also hope this whole situation has taught him a valuable lesson- similar to the lessons I learned for myself. It would be a damned shame to walk away from this without at least gaining some perspective.

This post was to give everyone an in-depth and unfiltered look into what has been going on in my life this past Summer, and in some ways- the last couple of years. My detailing the history of the relationship was not an attempt to tell any sort of sordid or salacious tidbits- but rather to help those following along better understand why I was so reluctant to walk away from this relationship at first and the emotional, mental, and at times physical toll this had taken on me. I loved him, and I was heartbroken- and I tend to disappear when I am sad so that I can work through things without burdening those closest to me with my tears or overall lethargy.

I want people who find themselves in the same situation that I was in to take a long and hard look at it and ask themselves the same question I did: is it worth it?

Knowing someone for a long time isn’t a free pass for them treat you however they want. Sleeping with someone doesn’t mean that sex is all you’re good for. If someone you’re dating/friends with can’t respect you enough to show you common courtesy and treat you like a human being they value and appreciate- then you need to respect, value and appreciate yourself enough to know when to move on to people who DO. It’s perfectly acceptable to put yourself, your needs, and your emotional well-being first once in a while.

I did what was right for me- as painful and as difficult as it was- and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

And you have to do what’s right for you, too.

You owe yourself the chance to be happy. Believe that.

xx

August 2016: In a Nutshell.

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BostonSummer201601

BostonSummer201602

So long, Summer…

I can’t believe that this is it and that Summer 2016 is officially over (I’m aware the actual first day of Fall isn’t until September 22nd, but still!) It feels like it was just yesterday I was still wearing my Winter jacket and trying to gear myself up for Spring- and now here I am making room in my closet for my sweaters and leggings again.

For anyone who has followed this blog in recent years, you’ll know that Fall is my favorite season. The weather? The fashion? The food and the foliage? Halloween? The return of my “Horrors of Netflix” blogging series? I mean- what’s not to love, right? But Summer is a close second in terms of my favorite season- and I’m sad to see this one go- even if I spent a good amount of it dealing with and subsequently moving on from a former relationship (these types of things just can’t happen in the Winter when everyone is miserable by default, can they? They always have to happen during what’s supposed to be the more fun and laid back times of the year and mess up everything.)

I digress- out of the Summer season- August was probably my favorite month. Not only because the motivation, inspiration and rejuvenation (a lot of “nations” in there) I had started to experience near the end of July had carried over into this month and didn’t show signs of stopping- but also because there was great news and celebrations everywhere- and not just for me, either! One of my best friends got married. Another got promoted at her job- and there were plenty of birthdays and anniversaries to go around. Tonight I have dinner plans with an old friend of mine from high school who just came back to Massachusetts for the first time in years since relocating for their job.

I also found out earlier this month that I’ll be in Las Vegas and San Diego for a week-long vacation/possible apartment hunting adventure during the end of September and beginning of October. I might even catch a show or two while I’m around that way and I’m SO excited to see my friends out West and enjoy a few days of rest, relaxation- and probably some gambling and cocktails, too. While my original plan for a vacation was to finally visit New Orleans to complete one of my New Years resolutions- the recent flooding in and around Louisiana made traveling that way a bit more difficult. The last thing I want to do is sight-see and be a tourist when I know people nearby are struggling to rebuild their homes and lives. It just didn’t feel right.

I’ll be re-scheduling my NOLA trip for early 2017, for sure!

Between hopping from party to party, celebration to celebration, planning for September while soaking up the last of the Summer sun and preparing some long overdue blog posts and updates- I’ve also been putting in some overtime at work to set aside a little extra money for future endeavors and efforts- often coming by my office on my scheduled days off for a few hours at a time. Needless to say, I’ve been keeping busy- but I enjoy it. I like being productive and it’s a nice distraction from certain things.

So here’s to the end of Summer. I hope it was kind to everyone and you all made wonderful memories amidst the heat waves, backyard BBQs and pool parties.

Here’s hoping Fall is lovely!

xx

Love and Marriage

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SamsWedding2016

The Dynamic Duo!

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you probably know by now that my longtime best girl-friend, Sam, got married over the weekend in an absolutely beautiful ceremony (and followed up by a kickass reception) at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, Massachusetts. I’m still so overjoyed for her and her husband, Vern- and I’m sending them my love as they embark on their honeymoon in Barcelona this week.

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that from 2004-2012, Sam and I were pretty much attached at the hip. We went everywhere and did everything together after a chance first meeting at a $2 Killers show (seriously) in Boston a couple of months after I’d finished high school. We knew- even back then- that we had a unique and special bond. Since that night (where our friends who had accompanied us to the concert patiently waited outside while Sam and I talked for HOURS after the show), we’ve been through a lot together: love, loss, career changes, moving to new places, breakups, drunken debauchery- and Sam’s heroic recovery after battling and beating cancer. She’s a warrior woman who never lost her sense of humor- even in the most trying of times- and I have always admired the hell out of that.

She was, and is, my “partner in crime”- even though our careers, families, respective relationships, distance and overall craziness of life as we get older has made it a bit more difficult to see each other as often as we used to. The wedding this past Saturday was actually the first time I’ve seen Sam and her family in close to a couple of years- but it was like no time had passed at all. We picked up right where we left off and it was an absolute thrill to get to catch up with her, her parents, siblings and friends- and I’m so honored I got to be a part of such a lovely and special occasion.

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Despite the unfortunate circumstances of my recent breakup- I’m thankfully not completely jaded when it comes to love and relationships just yet. Being swept up in Sam’s wedding got me thinking of how I’d like my own to go someday (if I ever get married, of course)– and I’m pretty sure I’m still set on a quickie, stress-free Vegas wedding (with Elvis included in some way, shape or form.) Weddings are all about the person you’re marrying and yourself, of course- so the least amount of work I’d have to do and the less pressure on everyone for everything to be completely and 100% perfect all day- the better. Just me, whoever I’m marrying- maybe some friends and family who could make the trip- and Elvis.

Oddly enough, I’m supposed to be in Vegas at the end of next month for a few days- so you never know… (Hi, mom- if you’re reading this!)

With just a couple more weeks left in Summer 2016 (I know- as much as I love Fall- I’m going to miss this season so much!), I’m preparing my plans for Autumn and- ugh– impending Winter, but not before I squeeze in a few more Summertime activities, first!

I’ve got a couple more posts planned for August before we launch into September. They’ll be up shortly!

xx

July 2016: In a Nutshell.

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"This is Lucille- and she. is. awesome." Me as Negan for 'Walker Stalker: Boston'! 7/30/16

“This is Lucille- and she. is. awesome.” Me as Negan for ‘Walker Stalker: Boston’! 7/30/16

Oh, July- you had me worried for a second there. I was really, REALLY concerned that despite my best efforts- you were going to turn into “June 2016: Part II” and be something I looked back on at some point in the future with sadness and maybe a little anger. I was worried you were going to carry on my baggage from my breakup last month and just toss it everywhere- maybe even into the month of August, too.

… But you surprised me in the most pleasant of ways and ended up being a wonderful, fun, and most important of all- empowering– month for me. I can’t thank the stars and the cosmos enough for showing me some mercy and giving me the strength and clarity I so desperately needed (with the help of good friends, good music, and new and unexpected opportunities!) to get me through my rough patch and give me a renewed sense of purpose and optimism.

Not that long ago, I’d written about my mini-epiphany following a lovely couple of days spent in Connecticut where I caught up with beloved friends and watched The Killers put on one hell of a show- an experience that recharged me after I’d been running on empty for what felt like so long.

Well, in the days that followed- while I was still on cloud nine- I was contacted about new and potential prospects for me on the opposite coast (specifically Las Vegas and San Diego.) I’m currently looking into each of them, doing my usual weighing of the pros and cons before I take any kind of step forward in either direction. I don’t want to get ahead of myself- but I’m undeniably excited. I’d put off the idea of moving anywhere near the West Coast anytime soon since I felt tethered here in Massachusetts- but now that I’m feeling liberated (and have the unyielding support of my friends and family who only want to see me happy and successful)– it’s nice to know that it could actually happen, after all.

Legally Brunette?

Legally Brunette?

I also pulled an unexpected move in recent days to celebrate the changes in my life and went back to brunette- dying my hair a lovely chocolate color. I don’t know how many of you have seen the first “Sex and the City” movie (I LOVE IT) where Carrie, post-being left jilted at the altar- dyes her trademark blonde hair considerably darker- but I can assure you that’s what I felt like when I was leaving the salon. I kept doing double-takes at my reflection. I didn’t recognize myself at first!

I don’t know what the new hair color is going to do for the “Legally Redhead” name (I mean, there are still some red highlights in there, so, technically…?) but I’m not going to stress about it too much right now. I like the way it looks and that’s all that matters to me.

To finish giving July a much-deserved sweet send-off- I’ll be heading over to the House of Blues tonight to check out a gig by The Last Shadow Puppets. This comes right after I spent yesterday at The Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel for the annual “Fan Fest/Walker Stalker” convention where I finally got the chance to show off my completed Negan costume. Although I was looking, I didn’t see any other women dressed as the character (but if any ladies were there and dressed as Negan- I want to see how great you looked!) but I did see quite a few men and boys swinging their Lucilles around. It was fun- whenever any of us would run into each other- we’d tap our bats together. It sort of became an unofficial handshake or high-five throughout the day.

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WSCBoston201602

The definitive highlight of my afternoon was finally meeting David Morrissey. I’ve been a big fan of his prior to ‘The Walking Dead’ but he’d never attended a convention anywhere around here before. He was an absolute sweetheart (and very tall!) and it was an honor to get to pose with him and speak with him about his extensive and impressive body of work.

And we all know how much I love Josh McDermitt. It’s always a party whenever that guy is around. I was going to take a photo of me using my Lucille prop with him- but he sort of turned the tables on that one- as evidenced above.

Speaking of photos- I was completely STUNNED at the amount of people who stopped me to request a photo with me (specifically me looking like I was about to bash their heads in with my bat.) It was seriously so much fun and I hope that everyone enjoyed their pictures as much as I enjoyed posing for them! I’m really looking forward to bringing the costume back for August’s Boston Comic-Con. It’s definitely one of my favorites I’ve put together over the years!

Apart from BCC- what else do I have planned for August? Well, it’s the last full month of the Summer before we slip into the Fall (and I reach maximum power since it’s my favorite season)– so I’d like to try and spend as much time as possible outdoors- in the sun and on the beach. I have a few more Summer-esque recipes to share, a giveaway to commemorate the wind-down of the season, and a couple of day trips/weekends out of state scheduled that should be fun to document and share with everyone.

Cheers to an incredible and much-needed month that was, and to even better and brighter days in August!

xx

“Smile Like You Mean It…”

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TheKillersJuly201601

Thanks for letting me crash your lighting pit, Steven! ❤

The past week has been a journey for me- one of self-discovery (or maybe rediscovering myself would be more accurate?), carefree fun, and being surrounded by good friends- old and new- who made me feel alive and like myself again.

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the more personal happenings in my life that I’ve been occasionally mentioning here since everything initially went down back in May, here’s a breakdown I shared a few days ago on social media:

For the past (almost) 2 months, I have more or less been completely exhausted and numb to everything and everyone. A 7-year on/off relationship (and even longer friendship) I was involved in crumbled around me when I found out my now ex-whatever-he-was had been deceitful and dishonest with me for nearly a year.

After multiple confrontations, arguments, and even unsuccessful attempts to find resolution and salvage what we could in the mess of things- I was blamed and shamed for our downfall and manipulated into taking responsibility for HIS actions. I was insulted- both about my feelings on the matter and even about trivial things like my body (first I was looking too curvy, and now I’m “disgustingly skinny.”)

Here’s the thing: when someone you loved and trusted tells you these things over and over- especially during times of uncertainty and crisis and confusion- you start to believe them. For the past two months I have felt like I was a horrible person who deserved the bad things that were happening to me. I wasn’t sexy enough to hold a man’s full attention. I wasn’t smart enough to keep them interested. I was irrational and too emotional. Basically- I was being told I was the worst.

I have since cut my ex out of my life- in all aspects and capacities. I knew what he was doing/saying was bullshit and not true- but it didn’t make me feel anymore enthusiastic about re-joining the world around me.

I had been throwing myself into work these past couple of months. I had been avoiding spending long periods of time with people for fear they, too, would think I was the worst and undeserving of basic common decency.

But I got invited by multiple people to come to Connecticut these past couple of nights- both to see a show by one of my favorite bands (The Killers!) and catch up with longtime friends on their touring crew. It took some coercing, even some bribing- but I eventually agreed.

When people you care about and respect- some whom you’ve seen recently and others you haven’t seen in years- act like they are genuinely happy to see you and are thrilled to be in your presence- when they PICK YOU UP TO BEAR HUG YOU IN THEIR EXCITEMENT– it changes you. When those people treat you with a level of kindness and compassion you’d gone so long without experiencing from the one person who SHOULD have been treating you that way to begin with- you start to feel things again.

I needed those last 48 hours. I needed the hugs, the jokes, the understanding as I explained what was happening to me in my life- and yes, the drinks (always the drinks!) I needed to watch one of my favorite bands play songs that still resonate deeply with me from the best seat in the house beside one of my best friends.

I needed that in order to reaffirm with myself and anyone around me within earshot that I’m not going to waste another 7 years of my life. I put things on hold in my twenties for a relationship that went nowhere and ended in flames. I essentially wasted what should have been the fun, wild and carefree years of my life accommodating a dishonest and selfish asshole.

I refuse to do that again now that I’ve entered my 30’s. Not when I’ve been reminded that I matter and that there are good people out there who see my value and appreciate every part of me (even if I’m supposedly “disgustingly skinny.”)

I’m going to do the things I’ve been putting off for YEARS. I’m not going to become complicit with being “comfortable” or settle on playing it safe. I’ve done that for far too long already.

Thank you to my boys- you all know who you are- and also to The Killers, who provided the backdrop and soundtrack to these amazing connections I’ve made over the years.

I love and appreciate all of you. I truly do.

That was written in the late hours of Thursday night/Friday morning, just a short while after I’d watched The Killers play a good chunk of their hits (and some B-sides!) at Mohegan Sun. It’s been a few days, but I’m still buzzing with energy- both from the music and from seeing some of my absolute favorite people for the first time in what felt like ages. I haven’t been that happy or energized in a long time. It was a like a pure shot/jolt of lightning and adrenaline straight into my heart, my mind, and my spirit. A shot/jolt I desperately needed to wake me up and get me out of the perpetual state of depressed fogginess I’d found myself in.

I know I still have some stuff to process and work through, but I feel so much more prepared to do it now, and even more motivated and excited to move forward while simultaneously getting my life back together as I start towards the future- MY future- much stronger and reassured with myself and my value than I had been previously. Just because one person- one guy- didn’t appreciate or respect me doesn’t mean that nobody else does, or that I shouldn’t be appreciated or respected in the first place. It just means it’s his loss- not mine.

I just feel so free, and so excited again- and I also feel so unbelievably grateful to be experiencing emotions that aren’t just awful anymore.

I can’t wait to see what’s next.

TheKillersJuly201602

xx

June 2016: In a Nutshell.

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Summertime in the city. June 2016.

Summertime in the city. June 2016.

Hello, June 2016- can you come here for a second?

Closer…

…. Closer ….

That’s close enough.

What the F*CK was your problem?!

Not since the month my father died (and the couple of months that immediately followed afterwards) back in 2012 can I remember a solid few weeks of my life that were as emotionally exhausting, maddening, and just plain weird as this past June turned out to be. By the time today rolled around I was practically tapping out on the floor and begging July to hurry up and take over- and I’m someone who is almost ALWAYS saying how time flies by much too quickly for my liking- so you know this month was seriously rough for me.

In my ‘In a Nutshell’ post from May- I had briefly talked about a longtime friendship/dating situation I was involved in reaching a turning point. In that post, I had expressed optimism that myself and the guy involved were on the same page and moving forward with newfound respect and understanding for one another. Literally hours after I published that cheerful outlook on life and love- things completely fell apart. Come to find out, said guy had a large closet filled with multiple skeletons and secrets- and they all came tumbling out to surprise me and open my eyes to a whole convoluted mess of a situation I hadn’t had a clue about for months.

The weeks that followed, even up until now- have been a mess of anger, heartache, confusion, more anger and heartache- and finally some much-needed clarity and a sense of self-awareness and empowerment that came from my realizing I was involved in an abusive situation- I was being mistreated, used and psychologically/emotionally manipulated- and finally ending it (friendship-wise and every other potential aspect) once and for all. It wasn’t easy by any means, especially given that me and this guy have known each other for well over a decade- but people change. Some for better. Some for worse, and the ones who have changed for the worse- who refuse to accept responsibility for their actions, who think only of themselves, and who show no remorse for their behavior or willingness to change it- need to be removed from your life as quickly as possible as if they were a cancer.

Not all was lost, however. I found an unlikely ally in another woman who was also being deceived and used by this individual (and who had alerted me to his deplorable behavior in the first place- approaching me from a place of mutual respect, understanding, concern and kindness.) Over the course of this month we’ve gotten to know more about each other and we’ve realized we have a lot of stuff in common apart from our terrible taste in some men. We have been supportive and honest with one another throughout this ordeal- refusing to turn on each other the way it sadly and so often plays out in triangle situations like these where the actual at-fault person is rarely held accountable- and even finally met face to face the other night where I personally had an awesomely fun time. She’s wonderful, and if making a potential new friend is the silver lining to what was an otherwise stressful situation for the better part of a month- then I’m content with that outcome and it would have all been worth it. Sisters before misters, y’all!

In between sorting out that part of my life and starting the healing process/moving on- June kept the punches coming. Health scare? Vandalized car? Fender bender? Broken lock on my car? (June was ALL about car problems) Awful-ness coming out of Florida every other day and Britain losing their minds? Oh yeah. You bet this month had it all. Is it any wonder I just wanted to fall asleep in front of my air conditioner until it was over?

I digress- there were some lighter, fun moments in June. They were far and few between- but they were there.

Fortunately, I’ve made sure to keep myself busy and distracted in July- and my friends are sticking by me to keep me company and my mind occupied, too. I’ve got some day trips planned (including a couple for this coming weekend!) and a few shows lined up that I’m excited to catch. The Comic-Con circuit finally reaches the Boston area this coming month, too- and I’m really excited to share my Negan-ette costume I’ve been putting together when I’ve had the time between work and… Well, all that other stuff I was dealing with this past month.

Here’s to better days ahead and a better Summer, overall. Please, July- be good to me.

More of this in July, please. Swimsuit and hat by Primark.

More of this in July, please. Swimsuit and hat by Primark.

xx

Advice for the Professional Twenty-Somethings

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AdviceForTwentySomethings

My very first grown-up, “look at me adulting”, professional job came when I was in my early twenties and landed a coveted position as a legal secretary-turned-paralegal at a criminal and personal injury law firm. Prior to that, I had worked countless jobs in varying professions over the years: I was a cashier, a sales clerk at a department store, a manager at a popular shoe boutique, a makeup artist/skin care consultant, a tech at a comedy club and then a waitress/hostess.

While I learned new things and acquired different skills at each job- none of them really required me to set limitations on myself (like not staying out all night with my friends) or gave me a structured schedule. My days off always varied. My hours/shifts were always inconsistent. I never really planned excursions in advance and I was almost always inaccessible around major holidays where many of my former employers stayed open while the rest of the world closed up shop. I lived my life day-by-day- paycheck-to-paycheck.

Going from that to a regular 9-5, Monday-Friday took some adjustment, to say the least.

Now that I’m 30, and am currently engrossed in and embarking on my second professional career- I’m a little more prepared and experienced. I’m by no means an expert- but I have learned a lot of things along the way.

The good folks over at Casper– a startup company that makes mattresses that come in a box, which have grown to become popular to young adults in their twenties and on the move, got me thinking: what tips or advice do I have for young professionals?

I took a few days to look back on my career(s) and selected a few choice kernels of wisdom/knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years which I thought would be beneficial to those just starting their own paths in new or unfamiliar professions- and that I wished I had known a little sooner.

1. Adjust your evening and morning routines so you’re not just punctual and prepared- you’re downright early and fully ready to go. Every day.

In my early twenties, staying out all night on a Wednesday or Thursday went without consequence. I typically went to work in the afternoons- so crawling into bed at 4 a.m. and getting a few hours of sleep before it was time to show up for my shift (and get ready to go out again after work) became a regular thing. Of course, it was quite a shock to my system when I started working “normal” business/office hours and had to set a curfew for myself during weeknights- and even more of a shock to have to get used to a morning routine that included an actual commute- but I wanted to make a good impression and be taken seriously by my boss and my peers.

Here’s the thing, nobody likes BARELY making it anywhere on time. It causes unnecessary stress. You can forget important things while you’re racing out the door- and you never know what unpredictable factors can get in your way (traffic, inclement weather, etc.) and make you tardy- so I always made it a point to go to bed at a reasonable time to ensure I got plenty of rest and woke up a little earlier than most people would have liked in order to shower, get dressed, eat a decent meal, grab a coffee- and still make it to my office in time to get myself ready for the day’s workload- even if I encountered traffic or bad New England weather on the way.

DVR that show that’s on a little too late at night. Lay out your outfit and pack up your bag/briefcase with the next day’s essentials the night before. Charge your phone/iPad/tablet/etc. while you sleep. Shower in the evenings if you absolutely need some additional time in the morning to get a few more minutes of rest. Keep your keys in a designated location so that you can just grab them when it’s time to head out the door. Order and pay for your morning latte from your phone so you can just pick it up and go– there’s plenty of ways to save yourself time at night and in the mornings to ensure you are not just skating into work and clocking in on the dot each and every day- but that you are rested, energized, early- and ready to put your best foot forward.

Trust me- employers notice this.

SocialMediaPhotos

Me & Social Media – Then and Now.

2. Get your social media under control.

I’ve been on various forms of social media since my late teens/early twenties- and I wish there were a way to create a flipbook detailing the way my photos/posts have evolved over those years. Drunken party or vacation photos have gradually morphed into less embarrassing photos of me and my dog, or pictures of things I’ve cooked/baked.  It’s not just because I’ve gotten older and a little more serious and aware of my surroundings (I absolutely still drink at parties and while on vacation, after all)– but because employers, both prospective and current- tend to check up on those associated with their companies/brands to make sure they are conducting themselves appropriately.

I know- it’s impossible NOT to be on some form of social media these days, and sometimes having to censor yourself can be downright exhausting- but I implore you to take full advantage of each site’s privacy settings if you absolutely and positively do not want your boss, co-workers or clients to see the results of your Saturday night out barhopping with friends, your thoughts on politics, or anything your crazy aunt/cousin/friend from high school who always says problematic and offensive stuff (we all have one) posts on your wall/tags you in.

Think before you post- “will this affect my job or my career if anyone sees it?” If not- go for it. If there’s a chance it might- it’s probably not a good idea to share it. If you still want to, just make sure yo put as much distance between yourself and your company/employer as possible so that any resulting issues cannot negatively impact or compromise your position, your job or brand. I never specifically name who my employer is anywhere at all- not even in any of my short bios on any sites I’m active on for that very reason.

3. Avoid office gossip at all costs. Worry about your own business and no one else’s.

At my last job at the firm, I briefly worked with a woman who spent all day every day gossiping about pretty much everyone she had ever come in contact with: former employers, people that worked in other businesses within our building, even my boss and his family. It made me extremely uncomfortable and I avoided her as much as I could without it creating tension in the office or negatively impacting my work- which was ultimately the best decision I ever made- since I found out shortly after I’d left my position in November that she’d started talking about me, too- speculating as to why I left and even going as far as to insinuate I’d had an inappropriate relationship with my boss.

So Cathy in accounting has the juiciest story about Mike in H.R. and that one girl who sits a couple of desks away from you keeps alluding to the fact that she has some dirt on one of your supervisors from a company Christmas party two years ago. As tempting as it can/could be to get the scoop (we live in a world that closely scrutinizes the words and actions of reality TV stars, after all)– I implore you- just avoid any and all office gossip. That is a slippery slope to go down, and it benefits no one. Worst of all? Apart from participating in and being a witness to the damaging of someone’s reputation/character- employers aren’t too fond of gossips, either- so you could also be damaging your own career and progress by associating with people who are too busy talking about others to do their actual jobs.

And let my own experience at my last job be proof to the popular saying- if someone is willing to talk about other people, then they’ll be willing to talk about you, too. Just avoid them and that unnecessary bad karma that comes with them.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask for more responsibilities/a raise/a vacation- but just make sure your timing is right, first.

One of the most nerve-racking moments for me during my first professional career was standing in front of my boss’ desk and asking if I could take a few days off the following month in order to head out to California for a friend’s baby shower and to catch a surfing competition. I had only been at the firm for a few months when the invitation came- but I had never been late, had finished every assignment on time, and really wanted to go. I waited until the end of the day on a Friday afternoon- when everyone was in a good mood by default- before asking my boss for a moment of his time and timidly mentioning receiving the invite and my desire to take a couple of days off. He was more than accommodating and kind about it, which was a relief- and made eventually asking for a raise a LOT easier when the time came.

I know not all employers are so friendly, and some might not even give you the time of day to chat, let alone ask for a favor- but you have to develop the courage to ask for the things that will benefit you personally and professionally- and you have to hone in on perfecting your timing to better increase your chances of getting those things. Monday mornings are typically a bad time to ask for a raise/time off, as are the minutes following a stressful meeting- but when the timing is right (and you’ll know when it is. You’ll sense it)– go for it. Don’t be afraid!

5. Punch through that glass ceiling and don’t stop climbing.

One of the things I really like about my current employer is that it’s such a large, diverse company that there are literally a thousand and one different directions I can go. There are hundreds upon hundreds of positions I can fill and try my hand at- and they will adequately train me and make sure I’m a good fit for the job before they either let me do my thing in peace or find a different role for me that I might be better suited for. The possibilities are endless- which keeps me optimistic about my future in the company.

I understand that sometimes, particularly after a rough day or week- it can get downright discouraging if you feel that you’ve reached your full potential within your career and there’s nowhere else to go- but I assure you: there is always, ALWAYS room to grow and advance. You can never learn too much. You can never try too many things. Continue working hard and continue acquiring new responsibilities and skills. Keep an open mind and actively seek out new opportunities and positions within your company that interest you and which you believe you will find fulfilling.

Treat every day at your job like it’s your first day- and go that extra mile. Your employer will notice your enthusiasm and it will not go unrewarded. There is no glass ceiling if you shatter through it and keep on soaring.

I know that every workplace and environment is different- and those embarking on their careers will undoubtedly learn their own lessons along the way (I’m still learning new things in my current position!)– but I think the five tips I’ve listed above sort of transcend limitations and can be applied across the board to any professional job. They’ve helped shape who I am in my career- and I hope they can help shape others, too.

Thanks again to Casper for asking me such a complex and thought-provoking question. They’re a great company and are definitely worth checking out if you’re looking to update your mattress, sheets, and/or pillows anytime soon (young and seasoned professionals alike need a good night’s sleep, too!)

If anyone would like to share their own tips/advice for twenty-somethings entering any professional fields- feel free to share!

xx

Day Off Date!

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It’s kinda’ funny how we, as human beings, can forget to take care of or treat ourselves in little, simple ways- especially with how hectic, stressful or distracting life can be at times. We get so wrapped up in the bigger picture and agonizing over all the details that go into making that very same picture that we can often (and unintentionally) deprive ourselves from smaller things that make us happy along the way- enjoying our favorite meal, singing along to our favorite songs, savoring a quiet evening walk after a tough day at work- or even something as frivolous as getting a long overdue manicure and pedicure.

All of those things are activities that bring me a bit of joy but have been subsequently put on the back burner as of late while I’ve been working overtime at my full-time job and actively trying to repair not only myself- but my longtime friendship/connection with someone very near and dear to me, too. At the end of May, I briefly talked about moving forward with love and forgiveness in regards to the recent crossroads I had arrived at with someone in my life, and while it has been challenging at times to stay upbeat and optimistic through the transition towards whatever lies ahead- especially given some recent circumstances and previously unknown information about the past coming to light- I’m doing my best and I’m trying.

However, It feels nice knowing that I’m not trying by myself. It helps ease the uncertainty and makes the future look a little bit brighter to know I’m not the only one fighting to make things better.

While pouring myself into work and patching up my personal life- I also took some time to have a couple of suspect freckles checked out for signs of skin cancer as part of my company’s recent “Global Health Week” activities and also for my own peace of mind. For those of you who didn’t follow my old, long-since-purged blog- I got a really, really bad sunburn a few years ago. The sunscreen my friends had brought for a day at the beach had expired without any of us knowing- making our multiple re-applications useless. I fell asleep on my towel- and was rendered bed-ridden with a serious case of sun poisoning and heat stroke for a week afterwards as a result. My skin was fried, split, and I couldn’t move for days.

Since then, I’ve had a few small freckles appear in a couple of the areas were I was badly burned. For the most part, they appear relatively normal (and I check them often to stay on top of things) but I wanted to be sure and have a professional take a look at them, as well. Given the toll cancer has taken on my family- I was a nervous wreck throughout preparing for my biopsy, the actual biopsy itself, and waiting for the results after the fact.

Thankfully- my results were good- and I’m still catching my breath over it. I can’t stress it enough though: replace your sunscreen and replace it often.

Finally, right before taking this past Tuesday off for some long overdue self-love and pampering- some rapscallions or whippersnappers (side note: I actually have my own suspicions of who did it) messed with/vandalized my car while it was parked and unattended in Western Massachusetts. The damage was minimal and easily fixed- but even still- it was an unnecessary headache on top of an already omnipresent migraine.

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That’s why on my day off this past week, I said enough is enough and devoted my day to enjoying the little things to center myself and get my state of mind back where it needs to be and where it’s strayed from for the past couple of weeks: indulging in my favorite food, blasting my favorite songs while I drove through picturesque Massachusetts, and stopping just long enough to get my first manicure in months and my first pedicure of the season in bright, Summery colors- and I gotta’ say- it made me feel so much better. It’s wild how something as simple as enjoying an iced chai latte in the sun, listening to The Killers at maximum volume, or a fresh coat of polish and a floral design on your toes can just brighten your day and relax you almost instantly.

PRO-TIP: Make the time to enjoy the little things and treat yourself. You deserve it. We all do.

Now that I’m feeling rejuvenated, refreshed, and much more de-stressed- I’m ready to tackle some plans I’ve got in the next couple of weeks with a clearer mind and much more focus.

But first- I’ve got work and some dinner plans tonight.

‘Til next time!

xx