Sunday, June 25, 2017

Bittersweet Goodbye

This past week marks exactly three months since I pulled the ripcord on my old life, and parachuted completely into my fresh new start.

90 days and so much has changed. The first 90 days are what make or break you in a new career, or so I’ve read. You have 90 days to set expectations, leave impressions, let people know your work ethic and how you perform as an employee. Am I working longer hours? Sometimes. Am I experiencing new challenges, learning more, but still having fun? Absolutely.

It’s been a hell of a 90 days for me. The first five weeks in my new career path were spent commuting an hour and a half each way. I essentially walked out the door at 6 am to walk back in around 7 pm, eat dinner, sleep, and restart the next day. I had no social life to speak of, but I at least got to become familiar in the job I was taking over. I’m so grateful for my parents who helped me with Homer and had dinner waiting for me while I worked this insane schedule temporarily still living under their roof.

I knew an ending was in sight as I signed an apartment lease closer to work soon after taking the position. With the help of a moving crew and my family I packed up what I needed from my storage unit and moved into my own place. It’s small, but it's perfect because it's mine. There’s a lovely fenced dog park for Homer to run around in (not to mention friendly neighbors with friendly dogs) and plenty of sidewalks for us to take long walks. 

This is the first time I've been living on my own, and I love it. I went from college to engaged to married; so this is truly my first time living alone. I still deal with some of the neurosis from my ex which rear their ugly heads from time to time. I'm not always sure if I really want to clean something or it's a compulsion from my living with him. I will be the first to tell you I wasn't perfect in my marriage, but I wasn't the one who kept us in every Saturday cleaning and doing laundry. 

It's really the silly, simple pleasures I'm still finding and learning to enjoy. I went from having such a regimented daily and weekly schedule to the freedom of whatever I want to do with my time. Being able to come and go as I please. I can walk around with no clothes. I do laundry when I feel like any day or night of the week. I clean when I want. I'll cook dinner if I want, or pickup takeout on my way home. The only schedule routine I have is walking Homer and letting him run at the dog park. Even he seems more relaxed. I've rediscovered my love of music and have been to three concerts so far this year, with a fourth coming up in September. I've even started golf lessons this month which I've been talking about doing for years. My goal? Get comfortable enough to join the group at work that I'm on the email list for that goes once a week to play a round at the end of the day. 

Two weeks ago I went to the PIA convention to say good bye/pass the gavel officially for the Vice President to move up to President. It was bittersweet. It didn't hit me until I sat down to write the Thank Yous to my board a few days before heading down. I started to cry, and when I text a friend he said of course it's a lot, you're closing a chapter of your life. Truer words haven't been spoken. I miss all these people; they've been my extended family and colleagues for the better part of almost a decade. They awarded me with a lovely plaque for my service as well as a gorgeous collage that I can't wait to hang above my desk in my room. Leaving there on Sunday night was hard; it felt like a final good-bye. It's amazing to see how only three months into my new routine and I already felt so out of place being around my old one. 

For the past 9 years I've known exactly what that PIA weekend holds in store for me. This time that weekend was the first time I had no stress, minor deadlines, and for the first time I felt almost disconnected. I don’t miss what I was doing. Granted, I’m still learning so much, and everything is so new, and I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge again that it's thanks to what I learned at the agency I landed where I am. I've been told our busy season starts at the end of the summer with renewals, so I know that there will be bad and frustrating days to come. But even in knowing that I still believe this move was for the best, and has improved my relationship with my family, or at least I feel as though it did. From what I’m told via other sources I’m leaving quite the impression with everyone I work with, and they are happy to have me on the team. 

I'm slowly getting into my own routine at home of early morning gym, work, dog mama balance, and fun. Work is starting to feel familiar on some fronts which is slightly frightening. I'm still saying yes to so many new adventures and continuing to get out of my own comfort zone, because that's where the fun happens! 

I still have my down days. I won’t pretend that everything is rainbows and butterflies and incredible times. I’ve cried myself to sleep and messed up things at work. But I dry my tears the next morning, readily admit when I've made a mistake, but the good still heavily outweighs the bad life I was living. If anything the biggest takeaway from my experiences this past year and a half is that life is too short to be anything but happy.  

The word brave gets thrown around a lot for what I did, and the remark that it took so much courage. In some part I can see that, not everyone would be wiling to completely uproot their life and make the drastic changes I did. In some ways I see it as just that, drastic and irresponsible. But how I know it was right is that I feel absolutely no guilt. Knowing that I gave my all, I have a clear conscious of my actions, and my gut tells me as much. I'm happy, have no anxiety, and seeing past photos of me, reading my past journal entires both public and private, I know I was a shell of myself. 

I refuse to ever lose myself again like that, because life is entirely too short. So I'll keep saying yes to new adventures, keep making seemingly terrible life decisions, keep having fun and enjoying every day doing what I want when I want. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Big News

It's funny how life works sometimes. To quote Florence + the Machine "Regrets collect like old friends" and to employ what she sings next, tonight I'm going to cut it out and then restart.

I'm a whole range of emotions right now.
Excited. Nervous. Super happy. Can't stop crying.

Today was my last day of work at my family's agency as I accepted a position that's outside the industry while still working with the knowledge I aquired. It was a difficult decision, and is definitely a bittersweet day as I'm leaving so many friends, contacts, and familiarity behind. For those of you reading who have worked for family, you know there's never a right time to leave.

Flashback Friday to dad being PIA President.
And me being awkwardly skinny. Those were the days. 
It cannot go without saying that I landed this new position thanks to everything I've mastered over these past 9 years at our agency. Had I not had the hands on learning thanks to my dad teaching me, there's no way I would have the qualifications for this role. Granted, I'm going to have an incredible amount more to learn, but I'm confident in my ability to adapt and thrive. For never having taken a business class in my life (what up fellow comm majors!) my experiences and on the job learning taught me more than any textbook ever could. They said as much in my interview.

To say I've been to hell and back over these past 14 months would be putting it lightly. I am grateful for everything the agency has provided me with both personally and professionally these past 9 years. But a complete life reset is what I need for me right now. Getting out of my usual routines, challenging myself on my own, and especially getting out of this small town to expand my social network.

What really hits home for me is I got this job thanks to the help of my network of women. In case you're wondering just how incredible we women can be, it's that these women, some without even knowing me personally all helped me get this position. One of these women will actually now be my new boss.

In case you missed it, this article recently came out about Alpha Women. I was enraged when I read it. I hadn't even thought of it since until today as I was reflecting on all that occurred in the past few weeks.

My desk never looked so clear!
Now in reading it I think it's important for me to thank these women. These other alphas, all succeeding in their industries and some in their personal relationships did more to help me land a new job than either of the two male head hunters I had. Now don't get me wrong, the head hunters may have not succeed had they been women either, but it's fitting to my point. I had one of them flat out tell me he was having a hard time marketing my resume because I didn't "have enough experience for me to go to a large brokerage or company."

Which was completely satisfying for me to inform him to stop distributing my said "unmarketable resume" as I landed a position with an $8 Billion (yes, with a B) global company based out of Philadelphia. But I suppose that was just sheer luck, right?

Please don't get me wrong, this is not meant to be a male bashing post. I'm fortunate enough that through my entire life, none of the males in it have ever said that I couldn't do something because I'm a woman. Not my dad, grandfather, brother, uncles, hell even my ex never held that against me. But I'm a proud Alpha Woman, and I'm not going to stop being me just to appease men who are uncomfortable with my confidence, leadership, and drive.

So I'm about to embark in what is likely the biggest adventure in my life. A new job, moving to a new apartment in a new area, and starting from scratch. I cannot wait to see what comes next.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

21st Century Dating

In the Online Dating system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the single women who are trying to meet nice men, and the men who are actually the worst. These are their stories. *DUN DUN*

The top two questions I currently get are:
1. Are your eyes really that color blue? (yes, I grew them myself, thanks)
2. Are you dating anyone? No? How is someone like you still single? (That's probably technically 4 questions total. Whatever, it's my blog I do what I want. I don't know how to answer that. I mean I think I'm pretty incredible but apparently I ask for too much. You know, no games, trustfulness, respect. So needy.)

Followed by the comment:  You should get online to meet men. You'll be married within the next year.

So I caved, not that I'm looking to get married again any time soon. I went on Bumble a few times (gave up on that completely for reasons to follow) and am only on Match as I paid for my membership with a coupon because guess who has two thumbs and loves a bargain? Plus on Match if I keep within the parameters and don't meet anyone in the first 6 months I get the next 6 months free. So it's a win-win in my opinion.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of doing online dating, here's a few things for you to keep in mind while reading. I'd like to start by saying my profile photos are not scandalous. I am fully clothed, no provocative poses, and no duck-kissy faces because you all know how ridiculous you look when you do that, right? My profile is sarcastic because I am sarcastic. And every "date" I go on I offer to split the bill because it's 2017 and I make my own money thank you very much.

Also please note that the examples below are just the men I've felt safe enough to actually meet in person. I've had multiple men contact me and within a few lines of chatting want to turn the conversation to sex. Now, I'm not prude but it's insane the way this era of messaging behind screens seems to make it acceptable. If we were sitting in a public bar would you still ask to play "naughty 20 questions" had I just met you 5 minutes earlier? How has this become such a mainstream practice?

These points being understood, how's it going so far? Let's recap:
- My first date leaves me having to pay for the entirety of dinner because he forgot his wallet after we had gotten carded when we walked in the door and he clearly had it then (said wallet fell behind him when he tried to replace it in his back pocket and he didn't think to look around his chair).
- A guy who said he was an empath and wanted to meditate with me because when he meditates it's when he can be most engulfed in people's energies. He wanted to be completely enveloped in my positive and genuine energy.
- A guy showed me a picture of his dick on his phone unprompted, not relevant to the conversation we were having other than he pointed out some older woman in the bar who is married that was allegedly trying to hook up with him. Apparently this is supposed to woo me.
- Another wanted to go hiking in the woods in the morning, alone before work, as we just started talking and hadn't met yet. The innuendo being that when we met up later at night we could get a hotel room and have sex since I'd know him better by then {sidebar, I did not meet up with this guy}
Bumble convo with blow off date
that has since found me on Match.
- A guy I genuinely liked, was getting along with splendidly, and seemed to be developing into something until his girlfriend of two years text me to ask me to stop whatever was going on between us.

I wish I was joking.

This next one is a strong contributor for my latest deletion of Bumble. At the last minute I decided to meet up with a guy as it worked for both of our schedules. He kept pushing back the time we were meeting at the bar even knowing I had a half hour ride to get there (himself too as he was out). By 10 minutes before I was supposed to be there (I was running behind at that point after trying to run errands to fill the pushback times) he messaged me that he still hadn't left. So I would have been sitting alone at the bar for a half hour until he arrived and I had enough. I messaged him since it was last minute attempt anyway why don't we just try for another day?  I proceeded to go see Rogue One by myself which was EPIC. He continued to message me for days after that which I didn't respond. Soon after, I delete the dating app and am now only on Match. He somehow finds me on Match this week and has since messaged me...TWICE...asking why I stopped responding on Bumble.

The attorney in our building at work recently asked me why we woman "ghost" and don't just tell men that we're not interested. That's a no-brainer: because it's easier than having to be harassed and belittled for rejecting him thus hurting his frail male ego. Don't believe me? Read the online dating article here (note, it's definitely considered a #longread). It's why I started following ByeFelipe on Instagram, which publish screen shots of the responses women have gotten when they've rejected men. It's disgusting, deplorable, and 100% accurate with what we women deal with daily in trying to online date.

Homer, the best snuggler
Okay Natalie, so Bumble obviously didn't work out for you. What about Match? You said you paid for a membership, that has to be going pretty well, right?! These are the actual ages of the last ten men who expressed interest in me on Match.com in no particular order (for those of you who don't know me, I'm just 31 years young): 54, 40, 39, 48, 36 (but he's in Monroe NY which google tells me is 4 hours away so like ya know, super close), 42, 45, 44, 62, 46. Of the men closer to my age and interest that I've reached out to on the site no one has messaged back. I have not met up with anyone from Match.

To say I'm disheartened with this whole scene is an understatement. Not that I'm looking to jump into anything crazy, let's be real I'm still working through issues from my divorce. But come. the fuck. on.  Grow up, get some manners, and treat a lady right. Chivalry, I am convinced, is utterly dead.

So if anyone needs me I'll be doing the required minimum to get my 6 months free on Match, but otherwise currently have more important things to focus on in my life than finding someone. Yes, everyone, I'm comfortable being alone even if you aren't.


- Dick Wolf did not produce this blog post but he probably should have since these events seem so outlandish they must be made up, but I can attest are all actual events. And if you didn't get that reference by my opening line then who are you and why are you even reading this?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Correction

I have been getting a lot of flack for the past 5 (!!!) years since I posted this blog entry which basically stated that my brother didn't have any chores when we were younger because he is the favorite child.

Before the JMT (John Michael Truthers as he so lovingly informed me of earlier this week) try to delve deeper and find more of the lies I have allegedly told about him, I want to make a correction to above said blog post.

Dead sexy 
My younger brother definitely did chores around the house when we lived at home. He would without complaint empty the trashcans. And with two older sisters who have long curly hair you can imagine what a treat that was. He'd mow the lawn. He was the overall gopher for dad - going to help him fix anything at my grandparents, or my grandma's, or at the office, or around our own house. He helped build infamous tiki bar in the backyard of the house we grew up in.

Most notoriously though were the windows that broke, whether with him kicking soccer balls over the house and attempting the same with baseballs, and the laughs we now have about his shenanigans.

But the fact is (and as guilt would have it) he came through in a big way today and helped me score pre-sale Lady Gaga tickets for her second show when she comes to Philly in September. A simple gesture, absolutely. But I couldn't be more grateful that he immediately thought of me when he got the email that the pre-sale went live. This will be my first concert since college and as silly as it sounds I could not be more excited than I am at this current moment. It's the simple things really that I'm starting to enjoy more and more as I create this new path ahead of me.

Plus mom said if we don't stop bickering we'd be sent to our rooms without dinner. And I'm hungry.

Monday, January 9, 2017

2017 - Hakuna Matata

Well if 2016 taught me anything it's that I certainly have finally figured out my type of man...and that's liars. The first step to getting help though is admitting you have a problem, right?

Last Friday was a huge milestone for me, which if you follow me on Instagram you'll know I posted about. It was one year ago that day I made the decision (with help) to change the course of my life. So much changed in that year that I'm still marveling in the fact a full 365 days have gone by. 

Now is when I get the fun questions. Are you dating anyone? No. When will you start dating? Working on it.
I actually had an individual tell me that I should get online soon and "you'll be married in a year". Which is funny to me because who says I want to be married again in a year? Can't I be okay alone, forging my own path, enjoying the successes I'm able to achieve?

That last Friday morning I woke up, proceeded my morning routine of walking Homer in subzero temperatures, and then headed out to the gym before work (#humbleresolutionsbrag). As I drove my car the iPod I keep permanently plugged in finally warmed up from the cold temperatures and started playing on random. The first song that comes on is "Hakuna Matata" from the Lion King. "It means no worries,"  I sang along to the music blaring out of the speakers "for the rest of your days!"

And you know what, I realized mid-song that phrase is not a terrible philosophy for me to have in 2017. I don't need to have my life fully sorted yet. I don't need a "plan". I survived everything 2016 threw at me with my decision, and made it out the other side not only alive, but flourishing. My life is playing out exactly the way it should, one day and one decision at a time. 

That night I went home and celebrated my 31st birthday with extended family who were in the area for a wedding. The date, January 6th, was completely unplanned by any of us; one year and 4 days since my disastrous 30th birthday party, exactly one year from leaving my husband. It was the best, unplanned, thrown together, laughter filled evening and late birthday celebration I've had in years. If that's not a sign of the amazing things to come, I don't know what is.




Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I'm Back

They say there are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth. This experience has been deeply personal and difficult. I wasn't sure if I wanted it out there. There are so many rambling drafts of this blog post sitting in a word document on my computer as this has been a struggle for me to coherently compose. What to do I write? How do I summarize? Can something like this even be summarized?

I don't write this for sympathy because in all honestly this is the best thing I have done for myself in a very long time. I don't write this for judgement either because before you do please look very closely at yourself in the mirror. But I've been privately messaged and questioned so the best way to deal with this before the rumor mill really starts to kick in is to just address this myself.

Yes, I left my husband. Yes, I filed for and am now divorced. Yes, I moved in with my parents when I left to get back on my feet, and the home my ex and I owned together sold a few weeks ago.

Leaving my marriage was not what I planned. A family friend saw through the bullshit I was feeding everyone and he alone staged an intervention for me. My life changed when I walked out of my marriage on Wednesday, January 6th. I will never, ever, if I lived a million years be able to repay the man who took me to lunch at a Mexican restaurant that day. He literally saved my life as I was teetering dangerously close to the edge of a nervous breakdown. He helped me realize that I could get out, and helped me take everything of mine we could fit between our two vehicles.

I will forever be the one who walked away from our marriage. I have absolutely no regrets, because I deserve better. I suppose in a way my ex is right. I did abandon our marriage. I took all that I had, specifically my clothes and dogs, and left with no warning on that Wednesday afternoon, leaving only a note explaining why I was gone. I abandoned a toxic and troubled individual who brought me almost to the point of a nervous breakdown with his OCD. Our marriage wasn't a partnership; it was a dictatorship, ruled by his Obsessive Compulsive Behavior. Obsessive cleaning, obsessive spending, obsessive manipulating, obsessive lying.

I abandoned a relationship in which my needs, wants, desires, and concerns were being vocalized yet falling on deaf ears and disregarded. I abandoned a man who didn't have enough respect for me to be honest with me, and felt that lying and false promises literally since the day of our marriage (and before, I'm now assuming), is an acceptable trait for a partner. His exact words to me when confronted with the continuous cleaning, spending, and lying was repeatedly "at least I didn't cheat on you" or "at least I never hit you". Once again, as if the emotional and mental stressors from manipulating and lying to me is an acceptable trait and a lesser evil to deal with daily.

It's especially validating when all my doubts and questioning as to whether I had indeed made the right decision to leave and not try to work on the relationship were substantiated by our divorce discovery process. I had undeniably been continuously lied to; the bank account and credit card statements proved it. But I'm the bad guy for having no more to give to the relationship; hiding the truth of the prison of repetitive daily and weekly cleaning routines I was living at home from my family and friends; putting on a facade of perfection and a happy, healthy, loving marriage when it was anything but. He has however played the victim so well in this entire process (please, break out the popcorn and some wine, you can read his newly started blog after I left here if you'd like an idea of his warped reality). And I won't even get into all the things he conveniently leaves out of his posts.

"But you could have worked on it, gotten through it together, gone to therapy, stayed together".
You're right, I could have. I could have wasted more time of my life trying to fix an ultimately un-fixable situation, since he manipulated me time and time again into believing he would eventually get help for his OCD, among other issues. You know what my therapist said after revealing the full story? That I was lucky; I got out and have a solid support system.  I gave my all these past 6 years, since he held the ultimate trump card, he moved down here for me. How can I beat that in an argument? How many times was that thrown in my face to make me feel guilty over the years, for thinking or threatening leaving?

To quote Lady Gaga/Beyonce in their video "Telephone" (hang with me) "Trust is like a mirror. You can fix it if it's broke. But you can still see the crack in that mother fucker's reflection". Was I perfect? No. Am I perfect? Not even close. But the failure of him to take responsibility, to lie to me continuously, to keep placing the blame on me as if I was the only one to put us into this predicament, it hurts.

I have my days; some are good, some are bad, some are in-between. It's been...a process. And it still is a process. I waited to write this because I wanted to be totally done with my ex. Unlike him who decided to write almost daily about what a terrible individual I am, I was afraid speaking my truth would come back to bite me with him. I wanted to give him no extra leverage for my life than I already had. We have no further ties. Our divorce was finalized in September and our home sold the end of October. Luckily we have have no children. I can't imagine how difficult it is for those of you who have them and have gone through this nightmare.

It's not pretty, this entire process that they call divorce. Even though I'm the one who wanted it, it doesn't make it easier.  I know people have been through worse. I know people have survived worse. But we're all together in this insane thing called life, and we all get by with a little help from our friends.

I should amend an earlier statement to say I do have regrets, mostly that I didn't ask for help, or reach out to my family or friends sooner. The amount of people and outpouring of love and support since I left has been humbling and overwhelming. I'm so grateful to everyone, from my family, to my friends, to work associates and contacts who got over the shock quickly and opened their arms/homes/ears/selves to me with no questions asked, sharing their understanding or similar situations. I don't believe I'll ever be able to thank or repay you enough for making me feel so accepted, heard, and loved.

Everyone says I look great...I'm more of my old self, I'm smiling more. That's all true. I've lost 20 pounds, I'm much happier now than I have been for years now that the truth is out there. But I'm still hurting, and I know that raw wound is going to take some time to heal. It's the best worst decision I've ever had to make. So I'm moving on. Starting from scratch is terrifying. But I'm excited. I'm keeping busy with adventures and trying so many new things that I wouldn't have before. It's exhilarating. I'm not looking back, so don't expect any bashing entries from me, just the ridiculousness that's to come in my life in 2016 and beyond.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

How to tell if you're suffering from exhaustion

100% certain my brain has just stopped working entirely.

1. After talking with a repeat client  (as in he comes in the same time every month to pay his bill) for 40 minutes in my office, my thoughts drift to making mental notes of where he likes to go to ensure I'll never run into him in a public setting so I won't be trapped like I am currently in my office.

2. And then realizing you have an inordinate amount of creepy clients who specifically only want to deal with me when they come in, so I should probably make a list for Nick to give to the police (after they've ruled him out as a suspect because they always check out the spouse first, thank you Law and Order) should I ever mysteriously disappear.

3. But this post is also putting in writing the acknowledgement of clients who worry me so YOU'RE WELCOME FUTURE POLICE working on my disappearance.

4. If I ever did a comedy tour it would be titled "Plight of the Pretty People". And no this isn't a "oh I'm so gorgeous it's so hard to be beautiful and complemented constantly". I consider myself "average" pretty and by no means a prude because the books on my kindle would make you blush, but some of the comments made to me in a professional business setting are well over borderline inappropriate.
Actual Conversation with above mentioned repeat client (I'll keep it light):
Client: Have a happy new year and don't drink too much....but you probably won't
(side note #jokes, does this guy even know me? Obviously NOT)
Me: I will have all the drinks.
C: You have plans?
Me: Just home drinking on the couch in sweatpants.
C: Well someone has to come keep you company.
M: My husband and dogs will be there too.
C:  But your dogs can't drink.

My dogs however are 100% sleep experts. Except at 3 am
for bathroom breaks.
Yes sir please do ignore the husband comment and come keep me company as whatever shall I do drinking by myself?!

5. News headlines are talking about affluenza and I didn't get my flu shot so am I susceptible? Or do they have to look at your bank account to qualify because JK LOL

6. (While listening to Pandora via headphones at work) Advertisement for Trojan Bear Skin condoms. Which is weird because I didn't know they made Bearskin Condoms. And I am super grateful to be wearing headphones because awkward. I mean I knew of lambskin, but bearskin just seems wrong... and this ad is saying they're studded? With what like a Bedazzler? That seems excessive and possibly painful. OH ...BARE skin. That makes more sense. But the studs are still weird.

I need a break.