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.

Now Isn’t That a Loaded Question?

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Who am I? – Now, isn’t that a loaded question?

Well, first thing in the morning… I’m a lackluster, zombie-like shell of a human being.

I sleep in far too late (excuse me while I hit the snooze button approximately 4 more times) and I refuse to schedule meetings before 11am because of this.

Once I finally drag my groggy, tired ass out of bed and down the stairs, I’m a caffeine seeking missile.

Forget opening my laptop to begin work for the day and forget feeding my fat feline (sorry Twigs), I beeline towards my overworked coffee maker.

I patiently wait for the hissing and chugging of the machine to infiltrate my ear drums before I’m satisfied enough to let it out of my sight – convinced the dripping of brown, liquid goodness will soon follow.

Sitting at my desk, I become a social media rockstar (my words, not my company’s) and if we’re being honest, I’m also a bit of a perfectionist who insists on making, “just a few edits” to most copy.

Caffeinated brown liquid in hand, I’m ready to “like,” “tweet,” and “direct message” like it’s my job… Mainly because it is.

After work, I’m a nearly domesticated woman who tries desperately to finagle a healthy, hearty meal out of refrigerator scraps.

A pinch of salt here, a block of ramen there… It’ll be edible. I’m sure of it and Hell, if not… well then, I have the local pizza parlor on speeddial. No fuzz off my Goodwill sweater-ed shoulder.

Full of $.10 noodles, I transform into a boozy best friend, a shoulder to cry on, and/or a television-watching girlfriend… Depends on the night.

At the end of the night, when I’m lying in bed and wrestling with the covers,I’m a 26-year old girl who is just trying to figure it all out. Anoveranalyzing worrier yet big-dream seeking girl with a heart that’s currently yearning for travel.

This is who I am today, right in the moment; however, tomorrow my answer might be different.

** Photography by t.bell photography **

#Kate5k

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I’ve never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions but this year, I decided to give it a go.

I didn’t decide to “lose 10 pounds” or “cook more,” but instead, I resolved to get outside of my comfort zone. I’m going to say “yes” when I want to say, “Ehhh maybe not” and I’m going to push myself to try new things.

One of these new things was signing up for my first 5k.
Running a 5k is something that I’ve always wanted to try (you could say it’s a Bucket List task) but I’ve just never committed.

Truth bomb: I hate running. I hate it so much.

Well, a dear friend of mine encouraged me to sign up for a race in March and because of my resolution, I said I’d do it.

Now, I’ve been training for a 5k these past few weeks and honestly, I’m a bit discouraged with my progress. I’m not a runner at all… not even a little bit. Not even close.

My race is next week and while I’m excited to check “Run a 5k” off of my bucket list, I can only run a little over a mile straight and last I checked, a 5k is 3.1 miles.

Because of this, I tried to think of a way to run this 5k in a way that works for ME. Sure, I should concentrate on just running but that’s not how I do things. I like to go all out 😉

I decided that I’m going to Live Tweet this race. Yep, I’m crazy.

I want to tweet out thoughts, selfies at each mile marker, etc. while I’m running my first 5k because it’s a way for me to make this experience my own. I want to encourage people to follow their dreams, cross things off of their own bucket list, and make life/experiences their own rather than following the crowd.

I want to be able to look back at those tweets and say, “Ugh, I wanted to pass out at mile 2 but look, I pushed through and I finished the race!”

I want to be able to have fun with whatever I do because life doesn’t have to be boring and you don’t have to follow what everyone else is doing.

Please join me on Twitter on March 1st to follow my race. I’ll be tweeting with #Kate5k so that you can follow the conversation and even tweet words of encouragement at me (@KateFodera).

Fair warning: The inspiration may come mixed in with curse words, my strong distaste for running, and photos of me curled up on the side of the road 😉

Do You Know What Makes You Happy?

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For me, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the day and by the time I have a moment to breathe, I need to get to sleep so I can wake up and do it all over again. Now, I know I blog about taking time to enjoy the journey but that’s not where I’m going with this one.

A few days ago, something pretty big hit me (and no, it wasn’t that I use commas more than I should. Can’t stop, won’t stop). It hit me – When we’re constantly running from moment to moment, when do we have time to think about the things that are most important?

Hobbies come and go.
Feelings come and go.
Even friends come and go.

But the one thing that stays the same, regardless of outside circumstances and fleeting feelings, is who you are inside. Your specific passions, your dreams, your goals. Many people can run through the motions, perform certain jobs, and ________; however, nobody else feels, experiences, and lives quite like you do.

So… do you know who you are?

Many people (myself included) would say, “Heck no! You’re silly” but I think the important thing here is to always keep trying to figure that person out. Sometimes you need to take a step back and take inventory of who you are and where you want to be.

Sometimes these things hit you hardest when life comes at you with unexpected twists, turns, and changes. It’s in these moments you need to shut out all outside stressors and get back to basics.

As I mentioned above, this moment came about a week ago. Life threw me a curveball and it shook me up a bit. I wasn’t sure how to feel, where to go, or what to do; therefore, I decided to then take inventory of where I wanted to be and what would truly make me happy. I asked myself a few questions –

“Am I happy right now?”
“What would make me happiest in the next month or two?”
“Will I feel better about myself (physically, emotionally, or professionally) if I ______?”
“Is it important that the next move benefit me in the long run or am I looking for a short term response to this crazy curveball?”
“What is my top priority right now?”

Just asking myself what I wanted to get out of life and where I wanted to be personally helped me figure out what to do. Once I answered these questions, I felt as though I had my priorities straight and I knew that my next move had to be one that helped me grow as a person.

I’ll say it again – It’s easy to get caught up in the motions. It’s easy to forget to truly think about whether these motions are benefitting you and aligning with your personal hopes/goals.

Simply said… you have to live for you. You have to continue to make the decisions that you truly want to make, rather than making them because you should, it seems right, etc. You have to do what pleases your heart and betters you in some way, shape, or form. You only get one go at this life and there are no do-overs. Don’t live for others or make choices based on outside circumstances that could change. Make choices that further your own personal path to becoming who you want to be.