The Slump

The deadline for the annual fee to maintain my blog is coming up — yes, that’s right, I pay to chronicle my adulting misadventures — and I realized that today marks 3 (!) months since I’ve written a new post.

I’m in a slump.

It’s been a great summer and looks to be a promising fall. Luke and I are loving the new apartment we’re in (seriously: everything happens for a reason. Peace OUT, MPM!) and things are generally going pretty darn well. In my life, anyway. The world? Shit show.

I never try to force myself into writing anything, but now that 3 months have passed, I feel like I’m overdue. I need to write something! I’m even considering resurrecting Alyssa’s Diaries — that’s how uninspired I am. OK, no, I can be more inspired than that.

A couple weeks ago, a friend suggested I blog about smug parenting. There are for sure some smug parents out there, but not being a parent myself, I don’t know how I feel about making any judgments on that topic.

I don’t want to talk about Trump. I don’t want to talk about Charlottesville. (Sorry if this makes me an “enabler” or whatever terms people are slinging at each other these days. I care deeply without feeling that I have something valuable to contribute to the discussion at this time. And that’s the truth.)

It reminds me of the SATC episode where Carrie is in a writing slump.

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At least this isn’t my job. I’d be out on the street for sure!

…Maybe I’ve just mastered adulting!

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OK… you didn’t have to laugh that hard. Sigh.

I’m gonna come clean here and say I really was hoping a topic would come to me while I was rambling on like this. But alas, it still hasn’t.

So HELP ME! Suggest a topic. Tell me something that’s bugging you about the adult world or people like me who are still on the waiting list. Pretty please? Maybe I’ll give you some cheese.

Uninspired,

Alyssa

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Bathing suits and big-girl problems

UGH, bathing suit shopping, amirite?! ‘Tis the season…  Every year I tell myself the last thing I need is a new bathing suit. I think last year I actually managed to make it the whole summer without buying one. But this year, as I embarked on my first pool day last Sunday, I came to two realizations:

  1. A fair amount of the bathing suits I own need to be tossed out. I may never wear them again. IF I get down to a future weight where what I own is too big, I can reward myself with … shopping!
  2. My retro high-waisted bikini that has saved my life for the past two-plus summers is starting to wear out in the lining. I’m thinking it may not make it past this season. When I went on Amazon to try to reorder the exact same thing, it was no longer available.

Here’s where the fun begins!

Ideally, I’d love to be able to wear something like this:

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But let’s be serious! I haven’t been able to wear anything like that since high school/early college, and I didn’t even think I was thin then. (Ha! HA! What I wouldn’t give to have my 19-year-old lifeguard body back OMG….)

But alas, the above is generally what you see when you peruse the aisles of Target over your lunch break, for example. I’m literally laughing out loud as I sift through the racks, holding up an “extra large” bikini bottom that more closely resembles a fucking headband.

This would probably be tight around my head, actually.

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I mean, what’s with the cutting of the material on the sides?! Like there was too much there to begin with?!

What about one pieces? Well, the thing is, they’ve never really been my thing. Just like rompers. When I go to the bathroom, I’m not keen on having to get completely naked, OK? Not my jam.

Also, yes, they sell “skirts” and “shorts” as bottoms, too, and I’ve tried that. They’re OK. But what if I just want some basic COVERAGE of my rump and belly area akin to how I suck it in all day wearing a silkier, nicer version of basically granny panties, but in bathing suit form?! Is that really too much to ask?!

So with that in mind… the comeback of this style is the best thing ever.

This is actually the bathing suit I ordered in 2015.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you, fashion gods, for giving me this gift. I love this suit. But like any normal girl … I get bored. That, plus the lining problem, and I’m shopping again, and I don’t want to just buy another polka-dot retro suit.

Enter phase 2: Finding things you love, but then not being able to customize the top and bottom.

Me likey a lot … but a larger top ain’t gonna work.

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What’s up with that?! Are most people really that proportional that they’re like, oh, yep, medium bottom, medium top, I’m done! For YEARS, clothing or otherwise, my tops tend to be smaller than my bottoms. Even when I was thin, I’ve always had a booty and pretty generous thighs, but my boobs are a larger B/smaller C at best, and until more recently, I was pretty petite around my torso and arms.

Ugh. Anyway, I actually made that mistake when I ordered the blue polka dot suit in a larger size. The top was way too big, and after a couple incidents of flashing everyone, I bought a completely different blue polka dot top that kinda sorta matches.

Do you see how exhausting this is?!

Now, today, I did stumble across some cute stuff on Mod Cloth, which does separate the tops and bottoms. But it’s pricier, and if you’ve been reading my blog at all, you know I’m not all about that. I just didn’t find anything that totally worked.

So I went back to Amazon, and just ordered some retro-style (read: full coverage) bottoms in various colors to try to mix and match with some tops I have. I also did order one one-piece, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m telling you though…. trying to hike that thing back up after you go to the bathroom and it’s wet… I’m already thinking of returning it.

Best of luck this bathing suit season, ladies! Xoxo.

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Another year older… and wiser?

A couple weeks ago, I went to mark my calendar for a friend and fellow Gemini’s upcoming birthday dinner, and for the first time it dawned on me that my own birthday was only a couple weeks away.

It really crept up on me this year! Bathing suit season always does (amirite?!), but I’m usually pretty aware of my own birthday. I had the foresight to schedule a baseball outing for it in advance, but other than that, I hadn’t really thought about it at all recently.

So, today I am 34…. whooo. hoooo. It’s off to a rockin start:

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It’s a pretty unremarkable age. At the same time, I feel really good about life right now. The past year has probably been one of the best of my life, in terms of personal growth. I was just looking at this post the other day that I wrote at the end of 2015 in which I refused to make official New Years resolutions, but I acquiesced to making some “resolutions in progress,”  as I called them.

In this post, I decided to do a little check-in with myself on these goals. The italics are from my post in December 2015.

  1. Stop comparing myself to others.

Envy is a deadly sin for a reason. It’s so unhealthy, and more than that, it’s pointless. It really is. First of all, you never really know what’s going on in someone else’s life. More than that, though, so what if someone gets something you desire or don’t have? We’re all winners and losers on any given day of the week. That’s life. I’m wasting way too much time and energy on this instead of just appreciating all the things my own life has to offer. I want to be genuinely happy for others’ successes and support them in their struggles, and get that in return. When I find myself putting that into practice, it actually works.

UPDATE: I’m pretty much nailing this one. I was approaching some of my relationships with a toxic envy filter a couple of years ago, and I’m grateful I got a hold on it before I lost them. I think it has to do largely with being really secure in myself and my own life. I also feel in the past I was constantly looking for validation from other people on my life and my decisions, and now it’s more about, is it working for me? Is it making me happy? Then fuck ’em.

2. Stop trying so hard.

Part 1: Now, I’m not saying don’t stop trying. But sometimes I try way too hard to appease people. And here’s the thing — sometimes I’m not even right. I’m off base in what I think someone wants to hear or expects from me, so I just wasted my time doing something I didn’t even want to do. How stupid is that?!

UPDATE: I’m doing well on this front also. If I don’t feel like doing something, I don’t do it. If I don’t know this song or that band or have tickets to that event — oh well. Good for you if you do. I have what I have.

Part 2: There’s also something to be said for “it is what it is,” and while efforts make inroads, sometimes it doesn’t matter. People are going to think and feel how they feel no matter what, so you might as well stay true to yourself in your own comfort zone (assuming it’s a healthy place for you).

UPDATE: Yes, sometimes people want to try to mold you into what they think you should be. RESIST. Resist unless it’s something you really want. Yes, it may cause friction with people who don’t agree with you, but either they will come to accept you as you are, or they won’t, and you’ll either have to move on from the relationship, agree to disagree, or politely ignore the demands they keep trying to put on you because in reality, they are unhappy and nothing you do is going to change that. It’s very liberating to get to this point. Freeing.

3. Love Myself.

Ickkkkkk, right?! It just sounds lame. But it’s actually something I really struggle with. I’m very self-critical. I try to make it humorous a lot of the time, but it’s pretty clear I don’t trust myself, and sometimes, I don’t even like myself. But part of that relates to #2- I’m way too concerned about where I stand in others’ eyes. This is my life.

UPDATE: It’s going. I have made strides in not feeling ashamed for not having certain things, like a house or children or a more healthy bank statement and waistline. But this one is more day by day, as I’m sure you know. There are good days and there are bad days. I would say the good days outweigh the bad.

4. Be a better partner.

Always a good thing to strive for, in my book. {Luke} is an inherently good and genuine person in a way that I find very unique and special, and that inspires me. He really motivates me to make positive change, and he’s one of my biggest cheerleaders. You can work toward this in your friendships and family relationships, too, but don’t forget it’s a give-and-take — you need to know when to keep fighting, and when to walk away.

UPDATE: Hmm, you’ll have to ask Luke, haha. I’d like to think I am doing very well on this one. Sometimes he probably feels like I’m nagging him about various things, but as I tell him, I’m just trying to help push him to his best limits. He’s so laid back, and I’m so not (well, I’m better than I used to be), so we balance each other out well. If he would just look at that damn calendar…

5. Separate work and play.

This goes BOTH ways. I’m guilty of taking care of personal things at work, but I’m just as guilty of checking my work email and fretting about things when I’m at home. Both need to stop. If I discipline myself to be more productive at work, I can relax more in my spare time. Conversely, if I shut work out during my spare time and enjoy myself, I can feel more refreshed when I return to the office. It’s actually not rocket science!

UPDATE: I would say I’ve made bigger strides in saying “eff off” to work on my own time than I have in not thinking about personal stuff at the office, haha. I do think I’ve gotten more productive.

6. Give it time.

This is huge. I’m so reactionary. A lot of times, things will resolve themselves if you just give it a minute. This trickles down to the most basic things, like making social plans. Being with {Luke} has opened my eyes to a whole world of “chillin.” That man gets riled up about very little, and very rarely makes any kind of advance plan. While this drives me nuts at times, there’s something to be learned from it. For one thing, without a plan, you can’t exactly freak out when the plan changes. Now, clearly, there is a happy medium here. There are some things I can’t not plan for, but I can take a pretty big step back from the level of planning I’m currently at, and probably be a lot happier. I’ve tried it here and there, with mixed results, but I think the majority of the time, it makes things better, not worse.

UPDATE: This one has its good days and bad days, too. I feel like I’ve made tremendous strides in at least trying to go with the flow when things go wrong. Like when you sit in traffic on the way to Miller Park for a Brewers game only to find it’s cash only for parking and you have to leave and find an ATM. This may or may not have happened on Sunday. It was not my original plan.

In summary, perfection is not attainable, and that’s something I’ve had to grasp as well. Just because I’m not doing it right all the time doesn’t mean I’m not doing well. Everyone fucks up here and there. But I’d like to think I move on from these fails more quickly than I used to, and I try to learn for next time. I try not to let the pitfalls and setbacks completely derail me from the path.

So, with that, covfefe! Ole! Let’s celebrate!

‘Til death — or disillusionment — do us part?

Yesterday I stumbled upon an article that I absolutely love.

The title, “I Didn’t Quit My Marriage. I Survived It.” caught my eye right away. While at first it seemed either a tad dramatic or possibly about domestic abuse, as I began to read it, I found it was neither. Rather, it reflected almost exactly how I feel about my own previous marriage, minus all the stuff about children, as I do not have any. The best part about it, though, was that it very accurately conveyed a lot of how I feel, and even though the author does have children, she was able to make a lot of points that still work even though I don’t.

You can read it by clicking the link above, but I am also going to paste it here with my own commentary.

With the exception of my photo caption*, italic text is from the article and regular text is mine.

I recently read a post by the talented Elizabeth Gilbert of “Eat, Pray, Love” fame. She was offering support to a friend who was struggling through a divorce while at the same time publishing a book about marriage.

Her post was filled with such warmth and understanding and had a strong message of encouragement for women going through a divorce.

 

The support offered called to mind all of the people who reached out to me when they realized that I was getting a divorce. I was private about my divorce during the process. I quietly removed my relationship status on Facebook and did not offer a replacement or post publicly about it.

I relocated my children and never mentioned my now-ex again.

When the situation became apparent, I received an outpouring of love and support, which I will forever be grateful to have received.

However, I often hear talk of how people “just give up” on their marriages. While there are those who treat marriage and divorce casually, I would say that most of us went into our marriages filled with hope and ideas of forever.

Every woman I know who is now divorced fought like hell to save her marriage—before finally deciding to save herself instead.

Absolutely. I do not take marriage lightly. I do not think many people say yes to a proposal, plan a wedding and take vows, thinking “eh… maybe, maybe not!” Certainly not me. I even wrote my own vows, so I took them very seriously. As things with my marriage began to unravel, I often referred back to those vows — mine and his — which I had saved, often even carrying them around with me as a source of inspiration and strength to keep pressing on, believing we could get through this and come out on the other side, together.

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*Trust me — this is not the face of someone who thinks they’ll be filing for divorce in 4 short years.

It takes two, though. Oftentimes, I felt like I was the only one fighting for the marriage. Or at least, the only one trying to meet halfway. This came down to some major personality clashes: extrovert  (me) versus introvert (him); emotional (me) versus practical (him); romantic (me) versus… I don’t even know.

We both had problems, things to work on (who doesn’t?!), but I felt I was the only one who was willing to at least admit my faults to be addressed. Everything was about me and what I was doing wrong and needed to change. It was exhausting. One person cannot possibly do ALL of the work to make a relationship work. It was like talking to a wall. In the end, it became extremely unhealthy, in which I almost felt like the child to a parent, constantly disappointing, constantly being lectured. And in turn, I began to act somewhat like a child rebelling against an overbearing parent — becoming increasingly resentful, pulling away and even sometimes doing things I wouldn’t normally even do because of the constant pressure.

At a certain point, we realize that the ship is sinking, and so many of us have children who need rescuing. So, yes, we get off the damn ship and start looking for a lifeboat—a whole new life.

We didn’t give up.

We saved ourselves, saved our children.

We didn’t quit our marriages; we survived them.

When we realize that we can’t single-handedly make a relationship with another person work, we have to choose ourselves. We begin to hear our hearts screaming for us to get out. We begin to honor our intuition, which tells us that this situation isn’t healthy for us, that we must do whatever it takes to make our lives better. We figure out that we cannot save our partner, that they are no longer our partners when they choose not to fight for the relationship.

We realize the relationship is over already, and we begin to take the steps to make that final.

The thing is, I didn’t even pull the trigger on ending the relationship. As I will reference a bit later**, a big life event in part kept me from even considering walking out at the time. It seemed to me like that would be abandonment, giving up. Heartless.

But even though I didn’t make the call, as I stated above, I began to pull away. As my ex became increasingly introverted and depressed, sometimes not leaving the house or putting on real clothes other than PJs (he worked from home) for days at a time, I started going out with my friends solo more and more often. It was like we started leading separate lives… and his life was largely on the internet. He was a gamer.

The depression I did understand and tried to address. I encouraged him to get counseling. I did help him to find a support group, and I read books on how to help loved ones cope with loss.** Looking back, sure, maybe I didn’t quite grasp the extent of his sorrow, his heartache. Maybe I could of been more supportive. But I know for damn sure that I tried. I wanted our life to continue together, not come to a halt. I wanted us to be happy, but I couldn’t take away the pain and fix it.

So, to explain further without going into details, a few years into our marriage we had what I like to refer to as a **”Traumatic Life Event” — in our case, a major death in his family, after which you are never the same. When these things happen, it shakes people to their core, and when it comes to couples, especially “newer” ones, it seems you either grow together and weather the storm, or you drift apart. And you can see where it’s going in our case.

So like I said, I continued to be social, and he began to go deeper and deeper into his online world. He had online “friends” that he talked to every day. Sometimes he had meetings about various games, meetings that would take priority over things that were going on in what I considered the “real world.” We were completely losing touch with each other, and it seemed as the days passed we had less and less in common. I began to wonder what I had ever seen in him as a potential life partner. Clearly, we were completely different people. I wasn’t sure that I even liked him anymore.

It was an awful feeling. And of course, I felt guilty. I wondered if I had changed in my feelings and this was my fault — maybe he’d been like this the whole time and I was just blind to it, focusing on the wrong things. I can say that I know I did change a bit from our years in Madison. I met people and learned about things and discovered things and began to realize more about who I really was and what my priorities were — and they increasingly were not in line with his. So it certainly was my fault, too, that we grew apart.

Still, I wasn’t just going to give up and walk away. Like I said, we took vows. I didn’t enter into this like any other past relationship. This was a marriage. I meant what I said. I was just hoping against hope, it would get better.

But it only got worse, culminating in him finally pulling the plug himself, telling me he wanted to go to California, and eventually moving there. The day it happened, I felt so many emotions — shock, first and foremost, but also anger, shame, regret, sadness and yes, relief. I was relieved on some level. I had fallen out of love with him, and now I could finally admit that to myself and start the healing process and move on. But I was indignant and hurt of course, feeling like I was the only one who tried. Feeling betrayed that despite all my misgivings, I’d stuck around, trying, and now he was just going to walk away. But one of us had to, and as someone who didn’t take all that many leaps that I knew of, I give him some credit for taking that one. It was the right thing to do for both of us.

We take the steps toward divorce, no matter our circumstances, no matter how difficult it will be to live without this relationship or the financial support of being coupled. We leave no matter how counterintuitive it is to walk away from something in which we’ve invested so much of our lives. We leave, all the while grieving what our children will have to experience as the children of divorced parents.

This isn’t a matter of giving up or quitting. This is a matter of accepting things as they are and choosing to live the best life that we can.

Exactly. We just weren’t right for each other, at least not anymore. We’d grown apart. Why stick it out until the bitter end when you could be so, so much happier, be yourself, with someone else? I know there are people who would argue against that. I know no relationship is easy, that there are ups and downs. But I can say with absolute certainty that he and I do not belong together. We were the wrong fit. We deserve to be happy, and in our case, we were happier calling it quits.

I’ve found that many of us come out of these trials only to be painted as the villains. We become the bad guys in another’s story, because that is so much easier. And when we go through a divorce, we often lose the support of people we had long considered family as they choose to believe this story.

Divorce isn’t easy, no matter how it may seem from the outside. It changes us in so many ways, and it often makes it more difficult to trust others. It’s important to support one another through these difficult times.

The support we need is often just a listening ear.

We don’t need unsolicited advice or the secret to how your marriage has worked. We don’t need judgment or commentary about how easily people leave their marriages these days. We don’t even need encouragement about our future relationship prospects at this point. We need our support system to stand strong with us through the process.

In my case, I wasn’t the “villain” to the bulk of people because I didn’t call it. Particularly my friends and family who knew I’d been unhappy but unwilling to give up were, like me, angry when he decided to get out. But that was only temporary for most, as it was what was best for everyone. There are some people who choose to hold on to anger over it, and I always encourage them not to. I’m much happier now. He did the right thing for us, even if he did it in somewhat of a nutty manner. It was a means to an end that needed to come.

I was deeply private about my divorce when I went through it. No one can completely understand a relationship from the outside, and I’ve been mindful of respecting the relationship between my ex and our children. I share the story of my journey through—and coming out the other side—in hopes of helping others hold on the difficult days that seem impossible to manage.

If I can offer a lifeline to someone who feels like they’re going down with the ship, then I’ve turned my struggle into something strong and beautiful.

Divorce has been transformative for me. It’s been the catalyst for many new life choices. I’ve been able to dream again and create the kind of life with my children that I’ve always wanted. It’s allowed me to be strong, and perhaps more authentic than I’ve ever been. Sure, I lost my ability to tolerate any level of bullsh*t, but in losing that particular filter, I’ve been able to be real and raw about my struggles, which has allowed me to build closer relationships with the people I love.

I processed all of the old stories I’ve always relied on to define me, and began to create a new life story for myself.

I’ve started unpacking my baggage and traveling a hell of a lot lighter, endlessly manifesting joy and turning my pain into beauty.

We can allow our struggles to define us or transform us, and in the difficult process of simply bearing up under them, it’s essential that we feel love and support around us. In the end, we did whatever it took to save ourselves when we could no longer save our relationship.

When I see another man or woman struggling through that process, I often offer a kind word and a listening ear, knowing that they would certainly rather have the happy marriage with the promise of forever than the divorce court and legal fees and heartache of a dissolving union.

We’re not giving up; we’re choosing to live the best lives we can under challenging circumstances.

We’re not quitting; we’re choosing to survive, to thrive and to create joyful lives.

Yes. I can say that if it weren’t for this relationship, it’s not that likely I would have ended up in Madison. It’s true that I never really planned to stay in DC long-term — it’s way too expensive for a journalist — but I’m not sure where I would be today. I certainly don’t think I would have ever met Luke, and now that I know Luke, I can’t imagine life without him. I feel he is my person. It’s somewhat of a messy storyline to be married and then divorced in order to meet your person, but it’s my storyline, and it has a happy ending.

3 chicks and a baby

For the first time in YEARS, I baby-sat last weekend. Two girlfriends and I baby-sat for my friends Kat and Stefan’s 5-month-old, Teddy, so they could go out and have a nice dinner with friends.

Yes, that’s right, THREE of us joined forces to watch ONE not-yet-mobile infant. And let me just say, I felt like we were all absolutely necessary.

I’m not very comfortable with babies. I think they’re “precious,” but I’m rarely chomping at the bit to hold one, mostly because I don’t feel like I know how to do it properly. I don’t feel like a natural. I baby-sat a lot in my middle and high school days, but rarely did I actually take care of an infant.

But we wanted to do this for our friends and figured especially with 3 of us, we’d figure it out. It also would be nice for Teddy to get to know me, and not burst into tears at my laughter (keep reading).

You’d think it’d be the easier thing, caring for a baby that isn’t really on the move yet and mostly just eats, poops and sleeps. But here’s the thing: You can’t communicate with them very well. You don’t know what they want. They communicate either by smiling, cooing or SCREAMING BLOODY MURDER.

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Here’s a face I’d like to avoid.

My friends Karyn and Emily seem to be better with babies than I am — though on the way home we realized that we all had no idea what we were doing and thought the others knew better, so that was funny. We’re all sensible, professional 30-somethings, so you know, 3 heads has to equal at least half of one. In theory.

Before Teddy’s parents even left, he had an outburst in response to my cackling hyena laugh. I guess he didn’t care for it- who knew?

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AKA, not a cackle-laugh. Got it.

So we weren’t exactly bonding from the get-go. I gave him some space and then tried again with a toy a few minutes later. He instantly began crying.

He hates me! I thought, panicked. I have FAILED.

Thankfully, that was only temporary. In fact, as the evening wore on, he would randomly get fussy no matter who was holding him. 1. Because he’s a baby, duh, but 2. I think he realized he had some choices here, and when there are 3 chicks, why just settle for one the whole time when you can change it up?

But I digress. It warmed my heart that he seemed to really take to the “baby shower” mix I’d made for Kat and Stefan’s shower last summer. Since Stefan is a musician himself, they play music a lot, so it makes sense he would find that soothing. I’m glad I had it saved on my phone.

That only lasted so long though. As one of us was holding him, another would be trying to get our dinner together that we’d brought or search for a new bib or spit up rag since he was going through them pretty quickly. Props to parents, especially single ones, because I honestly felt like it was very hectic even with 3 of us! We ate in shifts and he was fed, but only took about 3/4 of the bottle.

At one point, Karyn offered to give me money for the pizza I’d brought, which I parlayed into her having to change the diaper. Genius, right?!

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Mwahahaha.

Then Teddy got reallllllly fussy. Like the baby in the first photo above, Teddy’s lip would begin trembling in a very dramatic fashion, and you knew the tears were coming. We were able to stave them off a couple times, but eventually, he just let loose. It was his bedtime, so we figured he was tired, but he was wailing. Nothing that previously had worked was working — the music, my stupid “Wisconsin milk” song with his toy cow, “flying” in the air, the rocking chair, nada. I feared he had realized his parents had abandoned him with these 3 inept imposter women — one with a god-awful cackling laugh — and he was over it.

Then I remembered the bottle he hadn’t finished. Thank goodness he took it and conked out almost immediately. Then he slept, and the rest of the night was a breeze. When they got home, the 3 of us were playing cards, chill as can be.

Easy, right?!

They say you just do it, you figure it out. But judging that I was that panicked with two sidekicks… I’m not so sure about myself. Again, props to y’all with the little ones.

I can’t even control my cat.

However, if this tale has somehow SOLD you that I’m a fantastic sitter (can you read?), I am available! For the nominal fee of wine — Kat set that bar pretty high.

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Why I March

Something pretty amazing happened last Saturday.

Hundreds of thousands of women came together all over the country — and the world — to peacefully march and make our voices heard.

This march was a lot of different things to a lot of different people — and we really need to keep that in mind.

There was not a one-size-fits-all purpose for these marches. Each individual who participated — male or female — had his or her own reasons for being there. But the one common thread I felt at my own city’s march in Madison, Wisconsin, was love, respect and a sense of solidarity. And most importantly, hope.

We are not alone. We will not go quietly into the night.

It’s frustrating to see the negative backlash from some over something so unifying and positive. Of course, none of these nay-sayers actually participated in a march, as far as I can tell. As is all too common in our society today, they sit safely behind a screen, passing judgment, making assumptions, missing the point.

I can only speak for my own reasons for being a part of what happened on January 21, 2017, a day I’ll never forget.

So here are my reasons for being a part of this historic day.

Note: With one exception, all of these photos are from the Women’s March in Madison, Wisconsin. #womensmarchmadison

Why I March:

– I March Because I Am Able

I am able to march both physically and logistically — my city had an organized march in which to participate. I know many who had to work or couldn’t be there for one reason or another, and I marched for them.

I so wanted to be with some of my best friends in DC for this march, too, and marching in Madison was my way of linking with them across the miles. I was proud of my city for having its own march, and I wanted to be a part of my own community. Turns out, we had the second-highest attendance percentage to population for our march!

– I March Because I Am Forever Grateful to Those Who Marched Before Me

The backlash I’ve seen only further proves to me that this so important right now. There is a LOT of ignorance, entitlement, judgment and more circulating. I’m frustrated by anyone who fails to appreciate all the blood, sweat and tears that went into granting them the rights they are clearly taking for granted. Rights that very much can and WILL be taken away without action. Some of this is already in motion, if you’re paying attention at all. If you weren’t there, you don’t know what it felt like, the sense of community, the LOVE.

I march for women like these, who have marched for me.

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– I March Because I Believe In My Country

It can be hard some days. I’ve blogged on a day I felt despair more than anything — we all have those days. But I believe in our process, in our rights and ability TO march, to gather together in solidarity. Don’t take it for granted. For me, personally, this wasn’t a protest as much as it was a reminder that we are here and we will fight for our rights. We’re watching.

– I March Because I Believe in My Right to Choose

Yes, that’s right, I’m pro-choice. A helpful reminder:

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That’s it. Period.

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– I March in Solidarity Because It Gives Me — and Others — Hope

It’s been a looooong, scary, uncertain election cycle, has it not? I felt better on Saturday than I’ve felt in months because I was surrounded by people who had the same fears, hopes and desires as I did.

I’ve been scrolling through the #womensmarchmadison on Twitter and came across this tweet:

filled me up with so much hope and confidence, and reminded me of the power we all hold when we speak up & work together”

Exactly!

And, finally,

– I March Because This is Bigger Than Women’s Rights

This is about human rights. If you think you’re exempt from worry and threat of your rights under this administration, you’re not paying attention. Or perhaps if you have very light skin, a penis, are a legal U.S. citizen and make a certain level of income, maybe you’re not worried. Good for you — but far too many of the people I’ve seen throwing shade at this peaceful coming-together across our nation and world, do not exactly fit that persona. Not even close. We marched for YOU, too, whether you want to acknowledge that or not.

I used to wish I could have been around in the 1960s/70s — the music, the fashion, civil rights, women’s rights. I felt like I missed so many huge things that have shaped our country and society, and I think “Oh, to be a part of those times!” But we have our own movement in 2017. If anything, this election cycle has been a HUGE wakeup call to myself and many others that our rights simply cannot be taken for granted. Not even for one hour of one day. We have to keep fighting to maintain the rights that came about from hard-fought efforts in the past. I can be a part of all of the things that fascinate me about the 60s and 70s now. We can make a difference now to be looked back on by the people in 2070. And so last Saturday, I cranked up some music as I finished up my signs, donned some retro stripes and marched for my — for our — future.

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Ending note: The work doesn’t stop here. It’s barely begun. Tweet at me @AdultishAlyssa with photos from your city’s march, what inspires you and what you are doing to make a difference!

Wait… I’m in charge?!

One of my biggest ongoing challenges with adulting is acting consistently professional at my job. There are obvious things you need to do: get your work done on time, take direction, wear professional clothing, be on time, etc.

Where it gets more complicated, at least for me, is how my personality, quirks, strengths and weaknesses fit into the workplace. When I think back about some of the things I have said and done throughout my career, I cringe. I don’t even have to think that far back for a few of them. While I’m relatively successful in my career and doing a job I love more days than not, there are still many times I stop and ask myself, how did I get here? I’m in charge?

It’s getting a little easier to accept now that I’m in my 30s. When I first started at my current job 8 years ago, I definitely felt like I had to grow into my appointed role as Senior Editor — and office manager — a little bit. For one thing, while I was the manager of our editorial office of three writers, I was the youngest at the company. That’s changed since I started, but it was a little weird at first. My experience and the success of my interview and clean editing test landed me the position, despite my age. Not to say I was “too young” for the job, but Senior Editor seemed like a lofty position at 25. And coming from past positions as intern, copy editor on a desk of 6, copy editor in a firm of 100s… this was new territory for sure.

I remember my editor saying to me a year or so after I’d been at this job that things were going well, but in the beginning, it seemed like I was crying a lot. Yikes. Crying at work?! The horror. The truth is, I don’t really know how to hide or properly channel my emotions. At least I didn’t, but thanks to EFT Tapping, a wonderful life coach, amazing friends and some nifty meds, it has definitely become easier to deal with things in a productive way and move on.

I’m also one of those people that cries at every emotion. Whether I’m extremely angry, telling an exciting story, giddy, sad or feeling love, the tears are coming. It gets even worse if I’ve had a drink or two, and I worry people wonder what the heck is wrong with me. Sometimes I blame allergies.

But there’s no crying in baseball, and there’s no crying in the office, either. And this isn’t just for the workplace. Lately, I’ve really been trying to deal with life in a way I never did before. Frankly, I can be a real baby/spoiled brat a lot of the time. It’s like I just never learned real adult coping skills, and there’s no good reason for it. I have to say my Mimi — god rest her beautiful soul — never really learned, so it comes from somewhere. But this past year, even I got fed up with myself.

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The thing is, no matter how much you prepare, are a good person, etc., life is going to throw shit at you. That’s inevitable. What’s not inevitable is how you react and choose to handle it, and that’s something I’m trying to do a much better job on than I have in the past.

Bringing it back to work, though, I have typically let my stress over things completely take over, and it has a trickle-down effect on the writers. I came across this , and it seemed fitting:

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Now, this isn’t exactly what I mean. I’m more focusing on this trickle-down effect of shit. Our company certainly isn’t set up to where there’s one person at the top lording themselves over others and doing none of the work. But I do think the stress can come down in a similar pattern. As a manager, it’s up to me to try to keep a positive attitude and keep things on course.

About a year ago, I got a little talking-to from my bosses about this, and it really freaked me out. I thought my system was working. I might vent, be stressed and fuss about things, but they always get done. And the work is GOOD. So there’s a method to my madness, right?

But the madness isn’t acceptable, and now that I’ve really been working on it, I see it wasn’t really productive, either. The thing is, in this position, I really have to set an example. If I come in late a few times, the staff will do that. If I whine about an assignment, they will. It’s hard to put on a brave face all the time, but it’s really sinking in now that HELLO, that’s what they hired me for.

At times, it can be hard to wrap my mind around. After the talking-to, I was talking with my mom and she said “Yeah Alyssa, I mean, you’re the equivalent of an upper level executive position, just at a really small company, and they expect you to act as such.”

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Why is it so hard for me to accept a real adult level of responsibility and behave as such? I’m still floored at times looking around at my friends and realizing they’re teachers, lawyers, doctors… how did this happen?! WE’RE IN CHARGE?

It’s scary sometimes, but it’s also an opportunity. It’s not as though I want to perpetually be in my 20s and not experience personal growth. Really.

I have to cut myself some slack at the same time. I’ve had no formal management training. Management is very hard. Sometimes you have to be the bad guy. You really do have to set an example. I like to view my colleagues as peers and I hate micro-managing, but sometimes you have to be tough, and really, you should try to keep your weaknesses and personal stuff under wraps. Maybe this is really obvious to some of you, but it took awhile for me to fully grasp. I’m a pretty open-book gal. If you know me at all, you know that and you likely know something about me you didn’t need to know!

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Last week, I had my annual performance review and it couldn’t have been more different from last year’s. I actually got a promotion to Managing Editor — my first in my 8 years with the company — and I feel like I’m actually at that level! I think back to those weeks following last year’s review, feeling lost and completely “wrong” and just frustrated beyond belief, but I took those feelings and the feedback and I actually learned something. I actually did something and worked toward positive change. It feels AWESOME.

The past few months in particular have been life-changing. It’s all starting to come together. And things didn’t magically just get easier — I’m still living paycheck to paycheck, my pants are still too tight, I’m still taking things very personally. But I’m dealing (most days… hey, I’m still human!) in a way I’ve never been able to deal before. And now I’m even advising people. WHO AM I?

Not to say I’m not still growing and figuring things out, of course. Aren’t we always? We ought to be.

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