Baby Steps

I keep telling myself that all I can do is take baby steps and all is does is frustrate me. I mean, I’ve never been a very patient person. Cautious – yes. Patient – no. My mother would tell you that in a heartbeat, no hesitation.

I’m taking a baby step this winter; in January I will officially be starting classes at Ivy Tech.

To some people that’s a huge step forward, but I think of it as a kind of small step. I’m aiming for a technical certificate in Entrepreneurship and an Associates in Visual communication (the artistic side of marketing).

My goal is to enhance my current skills in art and writing and eventually either make it into a marketing department (preferably with my current employer, but I’ll move if I have to), or i would like to start my own business and freelance as both a writer and a graphic designer/artist.

Part of this skill enhancement means that I need to practice more regularly, especially with my art, and my writing is going to need to be made bit of a priority more than it already is as well. The good news is that I’m slowly getting onto a schedule. I have Lacey Lou to thank for that. She’s been awesome in getting me onto a routine of sorts so far and if I’m going to be taking classes – even if they’re online – I’m going to have to work homework and study time into that schedule.

If you’ve been watching this website for a while now you’ll also notice that I’m making some changes here as well. I’m trying to orient this site more towards my professional side and I’m pushing more to start freelancing now. Why wait until I’m done with classes? I have skills now so why not try them out and stretch myself a bit.

I have a myriad of other goals going on as well, from losing the extra weight, to paying off debt from Ball State and whatever I’m going to be paying for Ivy Tech when that starts. There are places I want to go, things I want to learn, and experiences I want to have. A bit of a bucket list, if you will. I’m takking baby steps to accomplish these goals.

The first few are revamping this site for business purposes, adding onto my degree, and getting into a routine with my dog that involves working on projects and practicing my art and writing.

For the first time in a while now the future seems like something I actually want to see and experience, not just observe from my window like some recluse.

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Career Update/Vent

It’s funny how having a little bit of time off makes you wish you had more time off. You never seem to be as productive as you intend to be. After all, it’s your “vacation” – time away from the office and the stress of everyday life.

Right now I have two days left of a four day weekend that is using up the last of my vacation time for 2019. Albeit, I work at a financial institution so I get those wonderful little banking holidays and Thanksgiving and Christmas off still this year, and my one weekend a month. I think that’s the one thing I don’t like about my job… Sundays and 1 Saturday a month are all I get off regularly. It’s definitely more stressful for me to have such long periods between rest times and days when I can catch up on my sleep a little bit.

Recently I’ve sent out my resume several places, and applied to a couple of internal postings at work. One of them, i interviewed for even though it wasn’t my career goal and while the manager liked me, she went with someone else. the second was a marketing position, which was my ultimate goal when I got hired at this institution. I didn’t even get an interview, just an email saying that they were going to pursue other candidates that were better qualified and if they ever ah anything that fit my skill set they would contact me.

I won’t lie – that hurt. I’m still very much nursing that wound. I made sure my resume was tailored perfectly for a marketing job, showcasing every skill and experience I have that would help me in that sort of position. And I wasn’t good enough for that entry level position for them to even interview me or call me in person, a 4 digit extension away. That hurts… a lot.

None of the external places I’ve applied to have called or emailed or asked for interviews. The only people that reach out from the blue on LinkedIn, Monster, and Indeed, are people from companies and places that want me for sales jobs. Frankly, I don’t ever want to work that kind of job again if I can help it, and commission based for a big faceless company is just not what I see myself doing.

I have that baby-boomer/Gen-X mindset that i should just take whatever job I can get and make the best of it, I mean, be grateful I even have a job, right? They say there was a time when people just took the job and that’s what they did. I have enough younger millennial and Gen-Z in me that it just feels wrong.

As a child I was told that I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up, as long as I was happy – as a Christian I know my happiness isn’t going to come from any career, but it sure would be easier if I wasn’t emotionally exhausted as well as physically exhausted all the time. At least, I tell myself that.

Thing is, I have depression and I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know when the last time I was truly happy was, it was so long ago. The closest I get anymore is when I’m playing with the dogs or when one of my chinchillas decides to crawl on my lap to explore.

In the interview I did get the manager asked me a question that I hate, and it really started me thinking… “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

It’s not an uncommon question. It’s not a question that I should have freaked out at, but I kind of did. I don’t know where I see myself in 5 years, I’m not even where I saw myself being today 5 years ago.

Five years ago, I was getting ready to go away to college for the first time, in fact, that’s almost to the day. I did not see myself working at a credit union, or living with my parents. I did not predict the chinchillas, or even Lacey Lou. I pictured I would have one, if not two books published or self published and that I would be writing full time, either as an author or freelancing, and I’d be living on my own with some sort of giant malamute thing… just – not this. I thought I’d have a schedule down, be in less debt, and have a handle on my faith and a real and meaningful relationship with Christ.

Instead, here I am: living at my parents, in more debt than I care to talk about, momma to two chinchillas and a tiny rescue dog, applying for jobs I don’t even really want because I just want to be a little closer to my field than I am right now. I have worse depression and anxiety than ever and need to talk to my doctor again… and they make me too fickle to really be any success as any kind of storyteller, and too fickle of a Christian for me to be healthy in my faith.

So I’m working on a 5 year plan. Something that I never did. I mean, I had dreams, but never a real goal.

Must Dos

  1. Daily Devotions – These aren’t an option. I was happiest and my most creative when I was talking to God and making Him a priority in my life. It’s a habit I haven’t kept up with, but it’s probably the most important thing I will ever do in my life
  2. Keep a gratitude Journal – I’ve noticed that my journals tend to be me complaining about the world, about something that’s bothering me, and this negativity is killing me. I can’t keep it up and I need to be grateful for what God has given me in life.
  3. Health – Mentally, spiritually, and physically, it’s no big secret that I don’t take care of myself. I’m not so open about it online, but if you look at me, it’s true. I’ve been thinking about seeing a therapist, exercising more – Lacey Lou needs that anyway, it’ll be good for me too.

Career Goals

  • In one year I’m aiming to be able to either drop down to a part-time day job or switch to creating full time.
  • I want to publish something – anything. An article, book review, short story, poem, ANYTHING traditionally, just one thing. The rest can be self published for all I care, but I would love to have one thing put out there like that for people to see. It would be thrilling to know that there was an editor out there who liked something I did enough to want to share it with everyone they could.
  • I want to incorporate my artwork and my writing together to help make my storytelling that much stronger and more me. I need to find my voice, and it’s going to be with both, I can feel it.
  • In five years I want to be able to fully support myself as a writer and artist, I want to be freelancing, writing, creating art… I want to be a storyteller and I want to be able to move out on my own.
  • I want to get involved with my community as a storyteller

The thing about all of these “goals” that I have listed is that none of them are guaranteed. Even the “Must Dos” are things that I will need to choose daily and make myself do.

It’s a strange place I’m in in my life right now. I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be and I’m even further from where I want to be. Really, I don’t even know if these goals are what I really want. But, I do know that i want something different. I feel stagnant and life my career is just sitting still. I’m exhausted and I can’t seem to get out of it. From now on, the goal is to use what time I have to rest and to work on becoming the artist I want to be. To work towards becoming a storyteller, because even if I end up wanting something else, something I can’t predict – at least I’m working towards something and taking care of myself – making myself into the person I want to be.

A New Addition

This last month has been crazy and wonderful. I added a new addition to my little family, Lacey Lou.

Lacey is a terrier/lab/mutt mix. She’s about 8ish years old. (I know, really specific right?) Honestly, she’s the perfect dog for me at my current stage and place in life. Her energy levels are just right for what I’m capable of handling. She likes to lay at my feet while I work and she loves to play with her dinosaur that she picked out herself. We often play tug o war and keep away with said dinosaur.

Lacey Lou pictured with Lamb Chop whom she has since beheaded.

Lacey Lou is missing some fur, and at the moment is under weight. She’s technically a senior dog and does have some joint issues, but she loves life.

Lacey was found by the side of the road in Scottsburg, Indiana. When her microchip came up unregistered and no one came forward to claim her I asked to take her in, even though I live on the other side of the state in Mishawaka, Indiana. That was the best choice I have made in a long time and I’m more than happy to say she now has her forever home with me, wherever I go in life, this girl is going with me and will never be abandoned again.

We’re working on getting her healthy and let me tell you that has been amazing for my writing. For one thing, the vet bills mean that I had to cancel Netflix again… even though it’s only been a few days without it I haven’t been able to watch as much as I was because I was playing with Lacey. When I’m not playing with Lacey I feel this need to create, to write, and to draw. I want the best life for her and that means that I need to get my life where I want it too.

Having Lacey has helped me motivate myself towards becoming a full time writer these last few weeks. I mean, it’s going to take some time, I don’t earn anything from it right now, but the fact that I’m actually writing and creating again is a step in the right direction. I keep saying this over and over that I’m doing this again… that I’m going to keep at it this time. With Lacey in my life I think it might actually happen. Between the need to keep her happy and on a schedule, and my own need to create I don’t see anything I can do but try and keep trying.

I started working on a children’s book based on my mother’s pit/lab mix and now that I have Lacey Lou I see her getting into the stories too. Every dog needs a friend after all. 😉

There’s just something about a dog that makes life feel better, more vibrant and alive, it makes it that much easier to be a creative. I love it, and I love my little Lacey Lou.

Burnout…

A topic most people, especially artists and writers, don’t want to think about. Let me tell you, I’m one of them.

I can feel it right now, in my eyes and in my brain. I haven’t thought about it before, not until the other day. My mom noticed and commented that I go in cycles where I get this project driven mindset and I cram a whole lot into it and then I go through this cycle where I have no motivation to do anything… the changes are sudden and fairly unpredictable in how long the cycles last, but the no motivation takes far longer to leave than the extreme motivation phase, that one is usually pretty quick. The fun part is that even while I have no motivation my brain is in overdrive and I just want it to stop…

First, if you have this problem, I do recommend seeking help, I am planning to talk to my doctor soon because bipolar/manic-depressive run in the family and I know about my depression and anxiety and those can mean I might have a whole cocktail of mental issues I don’t know about. If you don’t want to see your doctor or a therapist, I suggest a pastor/spiritual leader or a close friend or family member for support… You are not alone.

Second, this is what, for me, is called a burnout cycle. You create and create and create, but then you just kind of stop, you are exhausted in mind and body. It sucks.

If left untreated or unnoticed, I’m speaking from current burnout, it can go on for a long time. Personally, I have been experiencing this since college. I think I forced myself too hard with my course load and the amount of writing I took on all at once without allowing myself to have fun and relax.

Part of burnout is when you run out of fuel, sometimes physically, and sometimes mentally… but either way you are exhausted.

I think I’ve been burnt out since college to be honest… and I have no idea how to get out. I guess I’ll keep you posted because I don’t even know what I’m doing…

Frustrations

I’ve been experiencing a wide range of emotions lately and it’s left me in this awkward and frustrated state of being. My friends from my past, because very few of them still talk to me and we all seem to hold little interest for each other anymore, are all getting married, having babies, getting new jobs and moving forward with the world.

It’s hard to remember that there isn’t really a set timeline for success and the way your life is supposed to unfold when everyone else is progressing and here you are, moved back in with your parents, working a job that has almost nothing to do with your field of study, and you have no social life to speak of. Let alone the potential for a future family. I sit here and watch all of these societal norms pass me by, and I ask myself why they’re even the norm while I still feel my heart sink because there must be something wrong with me.

I keep trying to remind myself that Abraham and Sarah were REALLY OLD when they had Isaac. Noah wasn’t exactly a spring chicken when God asked him to build the arc either. Moses had a stutter, David wasn’t the largest or most handsome of his brothers… and he ended up being both an adulterer and a murderer. Ruth wasn’t even a Jew. Rahab was a prostitute. Jacob lied to get his brother’s inheritance. Peter, arguably the best friend of Jesus when he was on this earth had a temper and could be one of the least faithful of all of the disciples. Paul persecuted Christians before becoming one of the most prolific writers and teachers of the gospel in all of history… and Lazarus was DEAD.

God doesn’t care about timelines or resumes.

He doesn’t care that I’m not the artist I could be. He doesn’t care that I’m not the writer I should be. He doesn’t care that I’m not married or having kids right now; He doesn’t even care that I’m living with my parents.

That’s not to say that God doesn’t care about anything. I mean, He knows even the smallest of sparrows, its every fear and need.

He sees the big picture and from my smaller piece of the picture it’s kind of hard to remember that.

Part of me feels like I’m some kind of failure living with my parents at 23. That part also feels like I’m broken because I have no desire for marriage, kids, or even a partner. I mean, everyone else is doing it, why don’t I want to? It feels like everyone I know is moving on to bigger and better jobs and places and adventures while I’m sitting here still afraid of my own shadow some days. Wondering if I’ll ever be good enough and afraid of putting my pen or my pencil down on the blank paper because I don’t think I can do it justice, but knowing that I’ll never improve if I don’t do it, that I’ll never get that awesome job related to my field if I don’t apply.

It’s terrifying and frustrating all at once because while I’m happy for and proud of my people for doing these things and moving on with their lives, I feel stagnant and stuck, but I’m also terrified to leave what is relative safety. I don’t hate my job and there is no real motivation to leave for me other than that stagnation, like my life is meant for more.

All I can do is pray about it and weigh my options, but other than that, I’m helpless and that frustrates me to no end.