November 30, 2016

Inked & Awesome

If you're looking for me here today you won't find me. 

I'm visiting Danielle at Underland to Wonderland.

Hop into the rabbit hole and come talk with me about all things inked & awesome!

November 23, 2016

Be Thankful for Your Choices

A few months ago Alyssa posted about the choices she once thought were what she wanted. Of course, that prompted me to do the same. There’s no denying my life could or would have been in a million different places if I had made the other choice at the time.



Considering joining the Navy: This wasn't something that I was "full on" serious about, but it was on my radar. So much so that I met with a recruiter, had him come to the house and talk to my mom, and even went over the program options for what I'd like to do. Looking back, I know this would have been a major accomplishment in life, but I'm glad I didn't go. There are some things I would have missed that I'd have never forgiven myself for. 

Senior year and considering college: I was never a “serious” student. I got decent grades. By decent I mean I was never held back and only failed once class, ever. But when it came time for applications I sold myself short. I only applied to the community college. The plan was to go for 2 years and then transfer to BU. Solid plan but why didn’t I apply anywhere else?! I probably could have got into a 4-year state school without a problem.

Choosing a major my freshman year of college: I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when we had to declare our major but I selected Spanish. Perhaps it was because it was my best subject in high school. Perhaps I really wanted to go to Pamplona to run with the bills (side note: still do!) What I can tell you though, is that a semester of college level Spanish with an Argentinian professor was enough to make me change my mind muy rapido.

Choosing my next major: I used a little more thought here and this is something I still wish I had perused. When I decided Spanish wasn’t for me, I went to my real interest – psychology. I fell in love with my general psych class in high school and I wish this had been my first choice… and that I had followed through with it.

Picking up and moving to NJ after 1 weekend: To date this is the most impulsive, unplanned, spontaneous thing I’ve ever done – and I still don’t regret it.

Working in law: I completely fell into this career path. I didn't seek it out and I never would have actively considered it for myself. And yet, I've been going strong since 2005. Who knows where I'd be if I didn't take that chance.

Leaving that relationship: When it comes to abusive relationships, I always vowed never to be that girl. "Not me", I'd say. And to a degree it's true. But 'abuse' is a vague term. Being with someone who tries to monopolize your time and needs to know where you are, etc. at all times - that's also abuse. 

Going HAM: If you asked me to relive my 26th year of life now, I'm not certain I could. I was working full-time 9-5, going to school full-time, and working part-time, all while going out every single weekend. It was one of the best years of my life so far. 

Saying no: My best friend has been trying to date me since day 1. And since Day 1, I always said no. I won't go into the reason but one of them was because I wasn't willing to risk our friendship should things not work out. In hindsight, there would have been nothing to worry about. We probably would be married today. I'm still happy with the choice I made. 

Being alone: From 2010-2011 I had some of the most fun in my life. I was single, I lived alone, and I was truly happy. If there's one thing it taught me, it's that every woman should live alone at least once in her life. I can't wait to get back to this soon!

My point is, I'm THANKFUL for all of these choices I had. I know that there can be a right and wrong choice to make, but is there really? If choice A makes you miserable, but you learn valuable lessons, was it wrong? If choice B makes you happy but others don't approve, is it wrong? This life we get is an amazing thing. You have to celebrate the good times, and find the silver lining in unfortunate situations.








November 21, 2016

Plannerific

What a weekend!!!

I'm not one to recap my weekend because, ugh, but this weekend was fabulous. 

For starters, I met a girlfriend for dinner Friday night at The Cheesecake Factory. It had been quite some time since I was last there (for brunch) and I remember being disappointed. This time was redeeming because dinner was delicious!

Saturday my planner bestie and I went to our first ever planner event. The NYC Planner Addicts and Sugary Gal Shop hosted a planner meetup in Brooklyn with special guest Amanda Zampelli from MAMBI. My phone died halfway through but here's a look at the photos I did manage to get.




Photo with my favorite sticker shop ever: Jamison Reid Designs


Table 5's Planner Stack!




Swag bag contents!

It was such an awesome event and I can't wait to go to the holiday dinner next month. The only downfall is that all the events always take place in the city, but it's a good time and I don't mind making the drive every now and then.

After getting home I played with my planners and then about an hour later, passed out. It was a very long, very fun day.

Sunday I had plans to look at a few apartments. I have been very mum on this but for those of you that know me IRL (or care) K and I split up back in May. We've been doing the civil cohabitation thing since then (we have the luxury of separate living/sleeping space) but it's time to move forward.

The first apartment I went to was in the same complex I saw in the early summer and although it wasn't bad, I didn't love it. Fortunately (unfortunately?) I wasn't able to get into contact with the super to view this unit so I moved on the the second place.

I was kind of worried that I'd fall in love with this place. Mainly because it was showing my commute would increase by 30 minutes. I was right, I loved the model. Parking, cats would be okay, they'd waive the pet deposit, the neighborhood was pretty... the only downfall is that it's far from everything I know. None of my friends live in the area and I'd basically have to find all knew everything - nail salon, dry cleaner, bars, etc. Plus, it's more than my price limit. It would be doable, but it's more than I want to spend on rent. There is a unit that's in my desired budget that is available mid-February (which works perfectly) but I'd need to get my deposit in relatively soon if I'm going to make that choice.

I have a few units I'm seeing tonight, one of which I'm super excited about seeing. Truth be told, I'm hoping I love this one because it's close to where I am currently, it has parking, extra space, the cats would be good, and there's a backyard that I have full access to. Fingers crossed for me!

It's been a busy few days but things are soo good. Now to count down until Wednesday when I head home to stuff my face!


November 16, 2016

Come in Peace

I mention this time and time again in this space. Spirituality is my jam. 2 years ago I decided to reconnect with myself in a big way. Since then I’ve had so many humbling, joyful moments. Some people seek out inner peace, and although I think we all do, I also don’t think it’s something we ever fully obtain. Peace comes and goes like the tide. That’s life – ebb and flow. But those moments of peace? Those are all that matter.



  • Feeling the warm rays of the sun on my skin
  • Smelling the salty air as I listen to the waves crash
  • Feeling the cool water lap at my feet as I stand on the blue horizon
  • Speeding through the air, above the clouds
  • Seeing my niece smile and hearing her laugh. Further, listening to her put full conversations together without skipping a beat (her 4 year old intelligence leaves me in awe sometimes)
  • Completing the workout you almost bailed on
  • Pushing through that hard set when really, all you want to do is tap out. 
  • Speeding down the tarmac as we're about to take off
  • Visiting new places
  • Seeing a rainbow after a rain shower
  • Jumping into a pool or the ocean on a hot summer day
  • Taking that first bite out of a delicious slice of pizza
  • My cats interrupting me because they want to be pet
  • Trying on clothes and having them fit perfectly
  • Being told you did a "good job"
  • Making someone else smile
  • Helping someone, for no reason other than wanting to
  • The first blanket of snow when it's still clean and white and it muffles all the sound


November 14, 2016

Working Girl

A few weeks ago I was talking to someone about work and it led me to thinking about the various jobs I’ve had. Not just my professional ones, but all of them. Of course this led to blog fodder and here we are. Let’s walk through my work history.

All throughout high school I never worked (unless you count the 2 weeks when I delivered papers at 5am for my neighbor). This wasn’t because I didn’t have  to work, or because I didn’t want to work – I used to fantasize about where I’d work and how awesome it would be. No, it was because my “job” was to babysit my younger siblings every day. We’ll skip over the resentment, anger, and general asshatery of this time. The only things I got from this job were spite and a deep seeded desire to not have kids.

I obtained my first real job the summer before college. I worked as a cashier at a supply store. You guys, I was beyond ecstatic to work here. For one, I didn’t have to be home. That in itself was like a paycheck. Two, someone was giving me money to do things. Three, it was actually kind of fun. I would walk the Carhardt aisle sniffing that farm scent and wondering if it would be lame if I bought a women’s one for myself, you know, because they’re warm AF.


Once I was in college it stopped working out. Not because I didn’t have the time, but because my manager kept scheduling me on days I told him I couldn’t work. Example: On some day that ends in Y I told him I was unable to work on another day that ends in Y because that night was a final exam for class. When I ran home during a 2 hour break my mom questioned me on why they had been calling asking where I was. Umm, school?  Turns out, my manager had still scheduled me even though I told him I couldn’t work that day. I went in the following week to pick up my paycheck, checked the schedule for the next week, saw I wasn’t on it, and went about my business. I never called them, they never called me. 

From there it was on to the wonderful world of waiting tables. I don’t even remember how I got the job. I had never held a tray in my life. This job intimidated the shit out of me. Add to that I started maybe 2-3 weeks before Lent and I was scared. Turns out, I’m a natural server. I’m quick, efficient, and I thrive in the face-paced environment. Plus, my boss was amazing. Any man that will quote First Wive’s Club to me is okay in my book. On the flip side, coming home smelling like fish and grease wasn’t fun. The restaurant owners closed and sold so I moved onto a another restaurant owned by a family friend. Ironically enough, my dad had worked there years prior. I loathed working here. Like, absolutely hated it. The coworkers were fun. The dishwasher was creepy as he would hit on me every chance he got, but my boss, she was on a power trip of epic proportions.


I finally had enough and went to work at the call center in town. Hi, I’m now that annoying person that calls you at dinner hour to politely ask you to come current on your MCI phone bill, thanks. Truth is, for as lame and boring as this job was, it was an absolute blast. See, this was basically the highest paying job in town for college students. I think minimum wage was $5.15 then… they were paying $8/hr. Then factor in that I worked with about 8 of my friends and it was always a good time. AND they gave OT. Like, as much OT as you wanted. 



You guys, this is soooo accurate

In hindsight, I was a dumb, dumb girl. I settled in with the wrong crowd of friends while working here and every night became a party. Go to class, go to work, go home, party, repeat. It was all well and good until one day I decided I just wasn’t into it anymore and I quit. I didn’t have anything new lined up and for whatever reason, I also wasn’t concerned about it. Eventually I entered the world of retail, which I also thrive in.

It was the Aladdin to my Jasmine (a whole new world in case you’re not following). I didn’t worry about spilling food, I didn’t come home smelling like grease, I could essentially window shop all day. I was working in the mall (this made me feel very “grown up and cool”) And the discount?! I think it was here that I truly became a bargain shopper.



Enter some guy who is now no longer part of my life and I did the single most brazen, scary, fearless thing I have ever done: I went to NJ for a weekend to visit, came home with a new job, and gave notice. 

what?!

In hind sight, I think I’d do it all over again. I mean, I was 20, why the hell not. But that reads correct. I went to NJ to visit a guy and came home with a new job. Obviously I moved two weeks later and entered the cult of designer shoes. It was by far the most ‘I don’t fit in here’ job I’ve ever had. I felt like I was playing dress up every day. I realized very quickly that commission based sales were not for me. I hated it and asked to be moved to a cashier position. They were a bit unsure but the things was, I was good. So good that my department let go of two of the four cashiers it had and I replaced them. The thing about retail? It’s soul sucking. You lose all concept of time, days, and worst of all – your weekend. It was time to say good bye. 



I stepped in it when I took my next job. I started working at a legal secretary for someone I knew. I don’t even have words for this job. It’s what has started my professional career. It’s what spurred me into finally going back – and finishing – school. Yet it also caused me years of financial headaches. I’ve blogged about it a long time ago so I’m not going to get into it again but the short of it is, I appreciate my time here, but dear God I’m glad I moved on.

It was at this point that every childhood fascination came true. Not because I was doing all the things I dreamed of, but one single desire was manifested in its own way – I was working in New York City. I always envisioned living in the city in some fabulous loft apartment with some pseudo-important job. Hey, ½ the dream isn’t bad – I’ll take it!



NYC was my playground for 3 fast years. I’m not sure where the time went but I started to feel stuck and felt it was time to go home (NJ) and take away some of the stress I dealt with daily (I’m looking at you NJT). I went back to NJ for a spell but ultimately went back to the city. I love the closeness of boutique firms, but let’s be honest, the NYC firms make it rain.

And here we are. Still working in NYC. Still be irritated by NJT and tourists. I have a myriad of job experience under my belt, and even more life experience beyond that.


November 11, 2016

The F Word

This is a post I drafted sometimes in July. And I've been sitting on it ever since. Now, more than ever it needs to be published.

It’s one of those words that’s been around for a long time. It’s the one people have trouble defining because it means different things to different people. It’s one I really didn’t have any use for… until I started using it.

When I was in high school, circa partying like it was 1999 (cuz it was), I occasionally would hear the F word get thrown around. No one liked it. No one wanted to hear it. It was often met with attitude or a rolling of the eyes. Going with the flow and not really understanding I too dismissed the word. Not in my vocabulary, F word!

And in recent years, especially now, it’s become a big deal again. I hear it on the street, I read it in magazines, I hear it conversations with friends. And it is very much in my vocabulary.

For the longest time it was synonymous with man-bashing or man-hate. Women who wanted to “be” the man. It was perceived with an ‘I can do it myself’ attitude. Feminism had a bad rap.


Did you read that definition? Read it again… and again. “advocating...rights of women equal to those of men”.

As I’ve increased my age, and knowledge, it’s become a word that not only do I understand, truly understand, it’s also one I will fight for. You want to call me a feminist? Please do!

Feminism isn’t being one of the boys. It’s being the SAME as the boys. It means our pay is the same. It means the laws are the same. It means that for once in this country, one is not better, or more valued, or more important, or more worthy, than the other.



To quote one badass woman's opinion on this subject...

"Feminism... I think the simplest explanation, and one that captures the idea, is a song that Marlo Thomas sang, 'Free to be You and Me.' Free to be, if you were a girl—doctor, lawyer, Indian chief. Anything you want to be. And if you’re a boy, and you like teaching, you like nursing, you would like to have a doll, that’s OK too. That notion that we should each be free to develop our own talents, whatever they may be, and not be held back by artificial barriers—man-made barriers, certainly not heaven sent." - RBG 
So, yes. I consider myself a feminist. And although some may roll their eyes, or refuse to listen, I will wear this badge of honor proudly because not only do I deserve it, but future generations deserve it as well.



November 09, 2016

Loss

I sit here with a million thoughts running through my head. 

I woke up at 4 AM, checked my phone, read a few articles, and then started to cry. I then took to Twitter and my tears turned to an ugly cry. 

I realize that perhaps today, while fully in my feelings, is not the best time to write, it's the only way I can process this. Writing has always been my go to. I'm not going to sit here and say that America failed me, though, in my opinion, it did. I'm not going to pretend this wasn't a reality, because it was. And I'm certainly not going to pretend I'm not scared. For myself, my friends, and perfect strangers. 

America has problems. We all know/knew this. I guess I just gave us the benefit of the doubt. And that was my error. We are a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic country and I'm terrified for the future. 

I'm terrified at the thought of Rove v. Wade (1977) being overturned.

I'm terrified about someone with such a narcissistic personality is now the face of this country.

I'm terrified someone who verbally, emotionally, and physically assaults others is now in charge of this nation.

I'm terrified that someone who can be riled up by a 140-character message and responds with hate is who this country thought was a better choice. 

I'm terrified someone who makes money by exploiting small businesses is in charge of foreign policy.



I truly feel numb. And yet it's something akin to loss. True, heart-breaking, world-flipping loss. Watching the results come in last night gave me nothing other than a sickening feeling. This was happening. For the record, it wasn't about Hilary for me. There are no words for how proud I am that a woman was even on the ballot, but if it had been Mickey Mouse running against Trump, I would have voted for the Mouse. 

What's more is that when I was seen sitting at my laptop just now and was asked why I'm crying about him being president. That right there? That makes me cry harder. It doesn't make me feel less because I am NOT less. It just,,, hurts. 

For me, this means it's time to buckle down. It's time to pay attention to the news and politics more than ever before. We need to stand and band together to be stronger than our oppressors. 








November 08, 2016

What I Read Vol. 3

Over the last few years I've realized that reading burnout is a very real thing. I've also realized that it happens to me at least twice a year. In the last month I finally got some reading time in and feel pretty accomplished. I went to my go-to when I'm in a lull - audiobooks - and then started listening to everything! The only physical book I read was S.E.C.R.E.T. It matters not though because I was able to listen to a lot of books that have been on my radar. Here's what I've been "reading":


S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared (Secret, #2)S.E.C.R.E.T. Shared by L. Marie Adeline
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read the first book in the 3-part series a few months ago and really enjoyed it. This book was no different and didn't disappoint. 







Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own PersonYear of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I first started this I was a bit unsure but I kept on. I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed this, and I always like when it's the author reading the script. This book was less memoir and more 'live your life' to me. After her sister mutters "you never say yes to anything" Shonda challenges herself to start saying yes to experiences and opportunities that she ordinarily would say no to without a thought. I think this book is a reminder that you HAVE to say yes to life. The alternative isn't any fun. 




Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had been eyeing this since it came out but refused to buy it. Hello... library. I don't follow her blog although I can appreciate some of the stories.

This book actually had me laughing out loud. It was read in a way that you would relay a a story to a friend when you were having off the wall thoughts about taxidermied raccoons riding bareback on a cat while your husband comes out yelling wondering what the hell you're doing at 2am and you casually sit there asking what he's talking about while you try to hide the camera showing the evidence of the glorious time you're having. In short, it's funny. Read it.



Let's Pretend This Never HappenedLet's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I tried reading this back when it first came out and just couldn't get through it. Right book, wrong time?

This time, I listened to the audio version and I found it quite funny. It's made better by the fact that the author herself is reading the book.



Dad Is FatDad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There were parts of this book that made me laugh out loud and other parts I kind of glazed over at. In a nutshell, Gaffigan is making light of parenting. Most likely in an effort to keep from crying.

Really though, I may not be a parent but I will concede that parenting isn't an easy gig. That's not to say I think it's difficult either. Still, it was amusing to listen to the parent/kid stories in this book.



Modern RomanceModern Romance by Aziz Ansari
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really thought this book was going to be more comedic memoir about his dating escapades. Instead I was met with a sort of research project about dating, romance, and breakups in the modern age.

Although it wasn't bad, it wasn't at all what I was expecting.



Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Books are bad. The knowledge people can learn and pull from books is scary and terrifying. Burn them all! The concept is amazing.

Perhaps the audio version didn't allow me to truly sink into this book, but I wasn't "blown away" by it. I know it's one of the absolute classics, but I wasn't enamored with it.



A Knights Bridge Christmas (Swift River Valley, #5)A Knights Bridge Christmas by Carla Neggers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was acute romantic Christmas story. It's perfect as an in-between read and since that's exactly what it was - something to pass the time - I don't have much to say on it.





Here's to UsHere's to Us by Elin Hilderbrand
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As always, Elin Hilderbrand does not disappoint.

This story is about a world renowned chef who seems to be on a downward spiral. When Deacon unexpectedly passes away his two ex-wives, widow, best friend, and three children are left to figure out themselves, and in doing so, the true meaning of their connection.

Currently reading:

Party of One by Dave Holmes








November 07, 2016

The 411: October

October was a complete and utter whirlwind. There was something going on every single weekend. Let's get to it!



At the very beginning of the month I went home for the annual Halloween party. We did it super early this year because the past few have been so cold that we couldn't do any of the outside games.  



Mom went as a crazy cat lady and won 2nd place. K went as an identity thief. I went as a queen (not much of a costume...) and won sexiest.

The following weekend I was home again for a benefit for my dad. I didn't talk about this here but it should probably be said... In August my dad passed away from cancer. The benefit this weekend was put on by the MC he was a prospect in. He was fully patched in the day he died and is now a member of Chapter 31, for fallen members. There aren't enough words for how amazing both the Punishers and Guardian Belles have been. There were a little over 300 people in attendance and it was such a great day. 





Bath & Body Works finally got to me. They were having a BOGO candle sale and I ran it by Alyssa who reminded me I was on a no-spend but then gave me the green light when I told her I didn't have any fall/winter candles (which was true). I ended up with the edible Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, Black Cherry Merlot, Warm Apple Pie, and Powdered Cinnamon Doughnut. You guys, this doughnut candle is insane. I feel like I'm eating one every time I smell it. I also picked up a new hand soap since I had just ran out - Coconut Pumpkin Latte. Holy hell it's delicious. 


This technically happened in mid-September, but... Mom got a cat. See, she rescued a cat from a shitty family. Sadly, she was kind of traumatized from relocating so she was very slowly making her way to the edge of the dining room but would run and hide if you looked at her. The same weekend I was home for the Halloween party she jumped out the screen door. This cat is all black, her name is Midnight, and she's terrified. We were all very saddened at the loss of our friend.

Fast forward a weekend and mom has a new cat. A gray ball of fluff who is a cuddle bug of epic proportions.


On the plus side, it's like she has 2 cats now because Midnight has been spotted several times and my mom leaves food out for her. We're slowly moving the food closer to the house in the hopes of catching her.

The next weekend Alyssa, David, and I met up to go to Warwick Winery. I've mentioned this winery a time or two because it's an absolute favorite of mine. The food, wine, and atmosphere are all amazing. 



Of course by now the month is almost over, yet the events just keep coming. The 22nd I drove to Philly with a friend to attend the Abraham Hicks workshop. 

And because the month wouldn't be complete without a second Halloween party, I went to BWBs house for a party. 



In short, October was awesome!