Lessons > Tricks

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There’s this saying that people don’t change… you know, the whole “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” thing. And this post isn’t meant to dispute that.

Hell, I don’t think I could even if I wanted to.

But while people can’t change fundamentally, I truly believe that people can change their approach to situations based on their experiences.

Let me explain: life is really great at throwing curve balls at us and if we, as humans, aren’t meant to adapt, learn, and grow then we’d constantly make the same mistakes and end up where we’ve always been.

Sure, this happens when people refuse to give into and embrace new emotions but, in my experience, it’s rare that people stay stuck in situations they’re unhappy with. Typically they’ve gone through heartbreak and/or made mistakes, they learn from it and if given a similar opportunity in the future, they’ll take from the past and approach it differently.

To me, this directly connects to something I’ve always believed in – Fate /life/whatever gives us what we need exactly when we need it.

 

When I moved to Nashville, I moved bright-eyed and honestly without any sort of survival mechanism inside of me. Sure, I moved to GVSU and met friends, figured out how to feed myself, and so on. But it wasn’t the same as moving to a completely new state without a job, without a close group of friends, and without a plan. In Nashville, I learned to enjoy the moment – I didn’t worry about a savings account or anything “adult-like” until it was too late.

After I had to move home, with $40 in my bank account and with a tear-stained face, I learned the importance of having an emergency fund. I decided then that I was going to prepare to be prepared and I’d always have a plan… and that plan would have a backup plan.

That situation taught me that I need to have a savings account, to think 2-3 steps ahead in case of an emergency (totally different than creating a roadmap), and to be smart in the adult sense of things.

But, I leaned too far in that direction. I took my lesson and I let it consume me, refusing to feel anything or let anything else in. Rather than taking from my surroundings and allowing myself to learn new lessons, I kept my head down and I barreled towards these milestones I had laid out.

Then, I realized that wasn’t the right approach to life either. I stopped, thought about where I am and where I want to be, and I learned that to find happiness, I need to find a balance of those two things.

To me, it’s important to have the spontaneity of a naive girl looking to explore the unknown but the level-head of a strong, stable woman to make it work.

Now, at the very bare bones of it all, it’s easy to compare my move to St. Pete Beach to the time I moved to Nashville. Of course, I’m approaching it much much differently but when you break it down on paper… well, I feel the urge to leave and I’m going to. I don’t have a strong plan and I don’t have it figured out – I just feel this pull inside of me, tugging me out of my comfort zone, and I’m going to follow it.

I need to allow myself to be open to new experiences, feelings, and tugs in certain directions while also maintaining a level head. And I’m pretty sure this will be easier said than done buuuuut… it’s my goal 😉

And I do think it’s worth noting that while I have this unique opportunity ahead of me to get out of my comfort zone and find my happiness, you also have the same opportunity.

You may not be able to up and move due to obligations but you can follow your passions – sign up for ______ classes at your local community college, go to a restaurant alone just to sit at the bar and talk to 3 strangers, do whatever it is that gets you out of your comfort zone and helps you grow.

Do what you can with what you have… remember this: a lot of small steps will get you to the top of that mountain you’re climbing. 

The outpouring of supportive direct messages, text messages, and phone calls have been unbelievable. I truly can’t explain how wonderful it feels to hear someone say, “I get it. I’ve been there and I’ve felt that way and I want you to know that I’m so proud of you.” Opening up online isn’t easy – it’s scary because it’s so easy to be judged (or worse for a blogger, no one will read) but I want you to understand one thing – I won’t take advantage of this opportunity.

The unknown is scary. Not mapping out a plan to the very minute is scary. Life is scary. But, what does that matter? Being afraid won’t change the outcome. Sometimes you have to jump in with both feet, ammiright?

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you soon.

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Flashback to about 3 weeks ago: it was one of those rare mornings when I woke up about 25 minutes before I had to get out of bed and start my day.

Instead of grabbing for my phone, like I usually do first thing, I stared up at the ceiling for what felt like hours and I forced myself to face what I was feeling. It was a feeling I’ve been pretty familiar with in the past and it had resurfaced the past 6-8 months. And, while it started as a dull tinge, it was becoming stronger and stronger as the days passed.

If I’m being honest, I’d say that since the epic shakeup, I haven’t quite felt settled. I haven’t felt sad or depressed or anything like that, no… just… antsy.

And I’m not unfamiliar with this feeling. I knew exactly what my heart was trying to tell me but I’ve felt this way before these past few years and just pushed it down to try to focus on living that responsible life I had been chasing (you know, that whole roadmap thing).

But, that morning, awake and staring at the ceiling, I couldn’t deny that urge anymore – I needed to make a big move.

No, not metaphorically but literally.

I mean, let’s rewind and think about this: I grew up in Metro Detroit, moved to Grand Rapids, moved to Nashville, moved back to Metro Detroit, moved back to Grand Rapids, and I’ve been back in Metro Detroit again for the past few years for work.

So, it’s time.
It’s time to really rid myself of the roadmap I so desperately followed. 

I had the idea, I did the research, I contacted some real estate agents and I signed the paperwork… and in a month, I’m going to be moving to St. Pete Beach, Florida

Now, this isn’t a long-term thing… in fact, I made sure it wasn’t. As I’m ridding myself of this roadmap, I wouldn’t dare begin to map out the next 12 months of my life. Instead, I’ve decided to rent a vacation home (they call it a “bungalow”… come on, that’s adorable) that’s smack dab in between the Gulf of Mexico and 25+ tiki bars and surf shops for the next 6 months.

After those 6 months? Who knows… maybe I’ll rent another home on the beach, maybe I’ll move back, or maybe I’ll try out a new city. That’s not for me to figure out right now.

Sometime in the last few years, I lost the person I used to love being: I was spontaneous, I lived my life as carefree as possible, I adopted a cat on a whim, I wrote a book for the hell of it, I went out of my way to meet new people, and so on.

That person was hidden away by someone who tried to find a “decent enough” home on Zillow.com, who carefully put every man she met under a microscope to see if they were marriage material, and who focused on the wrong things.

And those things are fine for some people but not for me. Every day passed me by and I wasn’t living in the moment – I was living for a Kate who might be happy 3-4 years down the road, IF she found a guy and IF she found a home and IF a gazillion other things fell into place.

So, I’m following my heart rather than my spreadsheets and I’m taking the days back. I’m going to shake up my routine, spend my free time with my toes in the sand, and sip cold beers while watching the sun set over the ocean.

To me, this isn’t an escape from responsibility. It’s a lesson in finding happiness in the little things and understanding that life isn’t made up by trying to hit milestones. It’s learning to relax and unwind. It’s about being spontaneous. It’s about a lot of things but most of all, it’s about finding my free spirit again.

Nashville taught me a lot about just going for the unknown, Michigan taught me a lot about responsibility, and Florida… well, we’ll just have to see 😉

Ridding Myself of the Roadmap

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When I was younger I used to pride myself on being carefree, well… at least within reason. I was never one to turn down a dare, I went away to college without thinking twice, and hell, after that I up and moved to Tennessee without knowing anything more than where I had to take the U-Haul.

However, when the universe stepped in forced Nashville to abruptly kick me out, I felt like that was my wake up call to start acting and living more like an “adult.”

Since the move back to Michigan about 5 years ago, I can honestly say that I’ve tried to live in a way that I felt an adult should live. I landed and slaved away at what I believed was my dream job, I’ve had *cough cough* numerous memberships to numerous gyms, and I’ve saved an amount of money that I am proud of. No longer do I have to put $7 in my gas tank to last me until the next payday nor do I have to just buy the on-sale canned goods.

I even went as far as trying to build the life that I felt I should have that 30 – finding someone to settle down with and buying a home. And you know what, I’m proud of these things and I’m not ashamed for wanting to be fit, happy, healthy, in love and financially secure but… the more I focused on these milestones, the more I felt as though I was losing me.

For the last 5 years, I was following a plan that I couldn’t dare let myself stray from, even when my heart tried to tell me to quit. I felt as though I had it all figured out. It didn’t matter that I was unhappy deep down or that maybe this life roadmap wasn’t my map. 

But these last six months have given me the most important shakeup of my life.

Life succeeded to shake me up to the point where I didn’t care about my bank account, finding a realtor, or forcing relationships that were never meant to be.

I had to be smacked in the face (not literally – whew) before I found that life doesn’t really care about whatever plan you tried to map out years ago. To me, this shakeup has taught me that no matter what rules, or life plans, I try to live by, I can’t escape this idea that life didn’t want me to keep my head down, following some plan that I didn’t truly believe in or really want deep down. 

What it did do was go to the extremes to take me back to the basics of what it truly means to be alive – to put health before fear, to be an emotional support for those who need it most, to build relationships with positive/happy/supportive people, to strive to be better in my career for both professional and personal growth, and to live.

Really, truly live.

I had to learn the hard way that I wasn’t meant to follow this plan I decided I wanted and honestly, I’m not entirely sure any of us are. Because when you focus on milestones in your life you want to hit without enjoying every day that life gives you, are you really living at all?

Are you working at something that you truly enjoy? Are you building relationships with those people who make you a better person? Are you focusing on your own personal growth? Chances are, if you’re focusing on the fact that you should be married by 30, own a home by 32, and have a family by 34, you’re not. You’re always looking ahead rather than taking advantage of the very things that life has put in front of you.

As much as I’ve tried to resist admitting this, I found that this adult roadmap I’ve made up isn’t for me. And at age 30, I finally feel confident in who I am and what I believe in to accept that maybe deep down inside I’m always meant to be a little bit of a free spirit.

I would rather focus on being the version of myself I can be, to look for the silver linings in heart breaking situations, and to be the best friend, daughter, cousin, and marketer that I can be.

And not that I need to leave you with any advice but I will because I know it’s easier to take advice when someone else says it –

Pick your head up and look around you. Stop staring down at this imaginary roadmap, focused only on milestones or the idea that you to have your life figured out. 

Take a deep breath, call your mom, send a friend some snail mail, and read an industry-focused blog. Focus on what makes you happy and do it. Just do it.

I promise that you can’t go wrong if you wake up in the morning and just work towards being the best and happiest version of yourself. That may bring you to a promotion or to finding love, or it may not right away. All I know is that following happiness is much more achievable than settling down in 2 years when you’re not even in a relationship yet.

If you follow these words of advice, you won’t be let down by things that are beyond your control or by a roadmap that you were never meant to follow. Just live a life that makes you happy. 

Adoption: The Gift That Keeps Giving

As a self-proclaimed (and friend-agreed) crazy cat lady, I honestly didn’t think I’d adopt an animal until I was in the “adult” stage of life – aka. I’d own a home, be married and maybe have a kid or two.

Basically, I figured I needed to have my life in order and settled before I even thought about bringing in another living thing. I took the old cliche “You can’t love somebody else until you learn to love yourself” to heart. How could I provide the love and attention an animal needed when I couldn’t even figure out what I needed in life?

But if I’m being honest (and for better or for worse, I always am on Live Inspired) then I must admit that things didn’t work out that way – four years ago today, I adopted an abandoned cat named Twiggy through a rescue website.

When I adopted her, I was living and working in the tiniest little one-bedroom apartment, eating ramen noodles and working a job that I enjoyed but didn’t afford me many luxuries. I was happy but I wasn’t “settled” in any way, shape or form. In fact, I was lonely most of the time and I wasn’t sure where I’d end up a year or two down the road.

That’s why when I was performing my nightly post-work ritual of perusing adoption websites, I was only partially serious about finding a furever buddy. Well, I was only partially serious until I saw Twiggy’s page.

I’m still unsure as to why I inquired about her instead of the other hundreds of cats I looked at over the past 6-12 months but I did. I knew that I needed to have this “talkative” black cat in my life.

After three phone interviews, a visit to her foster home, a few panic attacks and some ugly-cries later, I fell in love with that little furball.

Being a kitty mom wasn’t easy, especially as I was scraping by on my bills. She has special dietary needs and her food cost about $40-70 per bag. She meowed so loud every night and she woke me up almost every morning. She kicks her litter everywhere and she throws up hairballs more often than I’d like.

But those little “negatives” don’t matter at all when I think about the joy she brings myself, my family and my friends. She always seems to find my lap when I’m stressed out or crying. She’s been by my side through breakups, lay offs and cross-state moves. She poses for numerous (… hundreds?) of photos and even looks cute as Snapchat Disney princesses.

Simply said – I’m not sure who saved who.

Adopting an animal in need has changed my life in the most incredible of ways. If you’re considering adding a pet to your life or to your household, please please pleaaaaaase consider adoption.

According to ASPCA:

  • Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  • Each year, approximately 2.7 million animals are euthanized (1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats).
  • Approximately 2.7 million shelter animals are adopted each year (1.4 million dogs and 1.3 million cats).
  • Of the dogs entering shelters, approximately 35% are adopted, 31% are euthanized and 26% of dogs who came in as strays are returned to their owner.
  • Of the cats entering shelters, approximately 37% are adopted, 41% are euthanized, and less than 5% of cats who came in as strays are returned to their owners.
    If you can emotionally and financially afford to give a home to an animal in need, please do. There are so many animals in desperate need of love and if you can provide a caring home, they’ll change your life.
      For Twiggy’s 5th birthday, do us both a favor and start your research here:

The Humane Society
ASPCA

 

2016 – The Year of Choices

Fact: I’ve never been one to identify and/or keep new year resolutions.

It’s not that I think they’re a bad idea. Not at all.
Honestly, I’ve tried numerous times to figure out the right resolution but it just doesn’t work out for me.

See, the thing is that, after 29 years of being on this Earth, I know myself and I know that I’m going to feel too much pressure to identify the ‘right’ goal, I’m going to stress about sticking to it and it’s going to consume my every thought.

That’s why this year, I didn’t really even go down the path of setting a resolution for myself; however, I found myself setting one. Yep, you read that correctly.

On my way into work about 3 weeks ago, I was letting my mind wander and I realized that this year, I wanted to accomplish a lot – I wanted to be happier, I wanted to be healthier, I wanted to rekindle the love I have for writing.

After figuring out those broad goals for the year, my brain naturally wanted to put numbers behind these goals – volunteer once a week, lose 20 lbs, write twice a week.

But minutes after identifying these numerical ways of tracking my “success or failure,” I stopped myself.

In those few moments, I realized that this idea of “success and failure” is what has stopped me from making (or keeping) resolutions in the past.

For the sake of this blog post, let’s discuss the typical “lose 20 lbs” goal – If I told myself that I wanted to lose 20 lbs then I’d let that idea dictate my every move. If I was craving a burger and fries, I’d pass on going out to lunch with coworkers because of the temptation. If I was out for date night with my boyfriend and he suggested dessert, I’d think to myself, “That’s going to add unnecessary calories.”

In my eyes, these little setbacks would be considered failures. but that’s not what new years resolutions are about.

I don’t want to feel bad about sharing a slice of cake with my boyfriend or pass on lunch because I feel like a burger instead of a salad.

That’s not how I want to spend my days. 

Aren’t resolutions about making conscious efforts to improve your life? If that’s the case (and I do believe it is) then I wasn’t going to let myself fail in these ways. I refuse to punish myself and get down on myself if I have a slice of cake, if I have a busy week and I can’t volunteer, or if I just have writers block.

I was setting myself up to fail before I really gave myself a chance to lose weight, be happier, whatever.

That’s why this year, I decided my resolution is simply to “make better choices.”

If I’m out at the bar but had a big lunch, I’ll have water (orrrrrr vodka with soda water) or if I’ve lost touch with a friend, I’ll make the choice to reach out. I won’t let what I do or don’t do reflect upon my overall goal of improving my way of life.

I’m going to focus on little acts every day to better myself in the long haul and not get down on myself or give up on the resolution if I slip up.

For me, it’s all about using little actions, every day, to better myself as a person and with this mentality, I can’t fail.

If you haven’t yet set a resolution, if you’re looking to add something new to your list, or if you find that the numeric goal isn’t working for you, don’t give up. Shift your way of thinking and try this yourself.

I’ve been actively making better decisions for the last 3 weeks and I’ve already noticed a difference ❤

Permission – Not Needed.

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One of the biggest realizations I’ve had during my adult life is recognizing that if I want to do something… I can do it.

Of course, there are certain things that one cannot do based on laws, morals, and whatnot; however, I’m going to go ahead and assume that most of us are standup citizens therefore the things we want to accomplish don’t have these restrictions 😉

But I digress.

If you follow my Facebook page, you may have noticed that I recently made the announcement to expand my blog to cover various lifestyle topics. If you don’t follow my Facebook page… rude… but just look above and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I really debated on this expansion for quite a while and you know why? It’s silly when I type it out but I debated merely because I didn’t have experience in writing about fashion, book reviews, whatever.

I told you it was silly – I debated on following a passion of mine simply because I didn’t have experience in it.

It reminds me of when I tried to find work as a server at a restaurant about 10 years ago and they told me they wouldn’t hire someone without restaurant experience.

How in the world did they expect you to get experience if every single place wanted experience before they hired you?

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was tossing and turning over the idea of this expansion and I thought and I thought and I thought until the realization hit me like a ton of bricks – The realization that if I wanted to do it, I could just do it. 

It was as simple as that.

Nobody needed to give me permission to do something that I have the drive and passion to do. Nobody said I needed to have extensive experience in writing on certain topics before I could even think about blogging about them.

Nobody said that I couldn’t do something simply because that’s not the way it was done in the past.

It reminds me of this quote that’s used a lot in business, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is ‘we’ve always done it this way,” and how insanely true.

If we all lived our lives believing that new ideas are to be avoided and perhaps even feared, we would never have the pleasure of seeing anything innovative, breathtaking, or exciting happen.

Some of the best things in life were made by those who believed they could… and then they did it. They didn’t wait for someone else to make history. They didn’t ask permission or others what they thought of their kooky (yet brilliant) ideas. They just did it.

And that’s the crazy thing – You can too.

We don’t need to just read about these visionaries in biographies and documentaries. These visionaries can be us –  We just need to allow ourselves to break outside of the box and just go for it.

Stop waiting for someone else to come up with big ideas.
You don’t need to change the world, you just need to change your life.

I’m about to hit you with another cliche (cue the eye roll) but you’re the one who is in charge of your future.

Nobody else.

Take risks and make the changes that will make you happy.

If you want to start a blog, do it.
If you want to go to culinary school, do it.
If you want to write a book, do it.
If you want to do something (within reason, obvi) then do it.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, needs to give you permission.
Follow your heart and your happiness will follow.

Don’t Quiet That Little Voice

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Sooo… Remember about 6 months ago when I published my most popular post, “What Do You Do When Your Dream Job Doesn’t Turn Out to Be Your Dream?

You know the one – My entire life, I dreamed about being an Advertising Rockstar but once it happened, I realized it wasn’t for me. I felt lost, confused, stressed, and as if I was someone I didn’t like anymore. It was dumb. Okay, it was more than dumb. It was horrible.

Approximately 3 days after I published that post, I accepted a job at another advertising agency.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Once I left my old job, I took about a week off to decompress and then I began doing the unemployment dance. 7 applications to the left, shuffle, ball change, and 3 grad school applications to the right.

One, just one, of these applications was for an ad agency (my current place of employment) while all of the other applications were in different fields. I’m not sure why I applied but perhaps it was because advertising is what I know, it’s what i’m good at, and it’s how I’ve spent most of my adulthood. Regardless, I interviewed and ultimately, I accepted it.

To be totally honest with you, I was unsure of whether or not I should take it, considering I just made a big show of getting out of the industry. I thought about what others would think about my choices and my credibility.

I went back and forth with my decision until I decided to go for it. I can’t explain why other than the fact that it felt like something I wanted to explore further. This position was different than my previous one in the industry, it gave me more creative freedom, and it was intriguing. Plus, I knew that no decision is ever final.

Despite everything I felt merely days earlier, I followed this deep little feeling inside that said, “Try it” so you know what? I did.

And this decision turned out to be a powerful one.

It has been 6 months in this position now and I haven’t looked back.

That little voice inside of me, the very same one that many of us hush up, lead me to accept a job that has taught me so much. Because of that voice, I’ve met coworkers who have become wonderful friends and I’ve stretched my mind and my boundaries far beyond places they’ve been before.

I get such a thrill helping clients utilize “unimportant” social platforms in a way that shows them how these same platforms assist them in reaching their business objectives. I get to show them how to bring a social personality to their messages. How to find their strengths and showcase them in a way that their target audience understands. And that’s just the beginning.
(Don’t worry, I’m going to save you from more digital marketing jargon)

I followed a feeling that I had, despite all of the logic that I had grounded myself in, and I showed myself that the past doesn’t have to repeat itself. 

What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t shut up that little voice and it has made all the difference.

Through this experience, I’ve learned that sometimes, denying yourself opportunities based off of assumptions isn’t what’s best for you. Sometimes you need to go all in, just once more, to see what happens.

To my surprise, my happiness wasn’t found on a completely different path, like I thought it would’ve been. I followed my heart and I found that I just had to veer a bit from the path I was on.

Life isn’t always easy and sometimes things don’t go the way you expect but you have to rely on your instincts. If there’s one little piece of you that’s telling you to try, then you owe it to yourself to try. It doesn’t matter what others think, what you think could happen, etc.

If you want to try, then try. 

Fortune favors the brave so stop playing it safe, stop denying yourself opportunities because of what could happen, stop hushing that voice inside of your head that’s telling you to try once more.