Softball + Life

My least favorite question in social situations is “So what do you do?”

I internally cringe when answering. I also, since I’ve had practice over the last five years on crafting my story, usually read from my mental script. If I have a prepared speech, it is easy to speed through the details and not give the asker an inch to maneuver and make me feel ashamed or embarrassed. And there have been good stretches of time since we started moving around where I have answered that question with confidence. But, usually, I offer up my answer much like I used to pitch in softball. I let go of the ball (in this story the ball = my answer) and then I turn my back and duck. Preferring that, if I’m going to get hit, I get hit in the back of the head rather than my face.  I answer their (your) innocent, well-meaning question, then I internally hover and turn around, hoping the line of questioning is finished.

Let’s go on a trip down memory lane. I played softball until 8th grade. In my small town we were primarily in a slow-pitch league, but the last couple years I played we also were our town’s first ever fast-pitch team. In that league we played against mostly bigger towns 90 min. away, but our t-shirt uniforms were teal, our team name was the Marlins, and we were sponsored by the local hardware store.

Before we were the Marlins and playing fast-pitch (which, as a “pitcher” I’m not sure anything about my pitches were “fast” except that I swung my arm around crazily vs. just lobbing the ball in the air), we were purple and had sleeveless uniforms – trailblazers! My mom, Brenda, coached with her best friend, Brenda. We were good. We played towns in similar size or even smaller. Sometimes our fields were an oasis along gravel roads. We could have very well literally played on some gravel because that dirt was NOT very nice to your upper thigh when you slid into home.

Rural areas are blessed with few options, making my some of my food memories very vivid. The only “fast food” that was usually on the way home from our games was either Subway, Taco Johns, or Dairy Queen. Hot Eats, Cool Treats. Potato Oles. Footlong Pizza Subs. All God’s greatest gifts.

During one summer softball season, there was also this trend where friends and I wore around boxer shorts like they were today’s lulu yoga pants. We were tired of wearing black mesh shorts for every GD activity and I guess this was our way of expressing ourselves? The boxers HAD to be the ones with the small button to close that… you know…opening. And if they were too big you rolled the waste-band. The flannel ones were the best. I swear there was a time I wore the boxers IN a game, but maybe we never wore the boxers for an actual game, just practice? Thinking on it more, seeing my mom was the coach there is no way I wore BOXERS in an ACTUAL game. Right? No way.

And the footwear…Almost all of us who played softball played soccer. This meant you already had soccer cleats, so why would you get special cleats for softball? That would be silly.

All of my wardrobe and pitching shenanigans aside, in the slow-pitch league we were gooooood. And when we switched to fast-pitch, even though we were a much smaller town, we were competitive and able to hold our own in a league with bigger teams with things like tryouts! As much as I despised pitching, I liked playing the infield and I could, to quote my mom, “Hit the snot off the ball.” One time in a tournament I hit so many home runs (remember a home run doesn’t have to go over the fence) that the other team accused me of being too old for the league. Ha! Keep in mind we played the same set of teams over and over, summer after summer, so you know who to expect. And I was not too old, I was just better than them.  I mean Ken Griffey Jr. was my icon at the time, what did they expect?!

Eventually, when I moved to Iowa, I quit softball because it was in the same season as soccer. And as baller as I was at softball, I was actually better at soccer. (My ego is feeling gooooood today, can you tell?)

Dang, I just hit an in-the-park home run.  I win.

Softball nostalgia aside, when people pitch me those questions I don’t like to answer I’m trying not to turn and duck. I try to answer confidently, sometimes defensively, preemptively rationalizing my position to them as I go because I feel my answer will be judged and not met with a ohhhhs and ahhhhs. Hit the ball at my face, at the back of my head, at my knees, wherever. Life is good and I’m doing ok.

Galentine’s – Ladies celebrating ladies

Friends from college are coming! It has been 10 (gasp!) years since we graduated. Our class reunion is coming up this spring, but we already knew not all of us could make that event. So, we took matters into our own hands.

I have seen the five of these beautiful women all individually or in smaller groups a handful of times over the past few years. Moving around the country to places where friends already live sure helps with that! But, I was thinking about the last time all six of us were in the same place at the same time, and it was nearly five years ago at one of our weddings. I was married more recently than this wedding, but at the time of my wedding one of our friends lived in Amsterdam. Then, two years ago we got together at a friend’s family lake house in Texas, but by this time another friend had moved abroad to London, so we were still at 5. We decided on meeting in NYC this year because two of us this here, one lives in Philadelphia, one in Minneapolis, one in San Francisco, and one across the pond in London. For the two farthest away, NYC is in the middle. When we started planning this weekend, there were numerous emails exchanged and even some spreadsheets involved. It basically came down to this weekend or July if we were going to all get together. The last time we got together, weather caused some rough insanely terrible travel situations for a few people, so we were hesitant to have people book flights in February to New York City. And here we are in the biggest snow we’ve had this year, waiting for friends to arrive tomorrow. (As I write this, I’m home because there is no school…anywhere on the eastern sea board. Winter storm Nico, you will not hold us down!)

A couple weeks ago I looked at the calendar and then saw something online that reminded me about Parks and Recreation  and their notion/proposed national holiday of Galentine’s Day. Straight from the show:

I immediately sent my friends a Buzzfeed link to 25 million things you should know about Galentine’s Day. (Side note: that post is from 2015. In today’s current socio-political climate, I’m sure Leslie Knope would have some major new zingers and I imagine her celebration truly would be a recognized national holiday.) Because we are meeting so close to Valentine’s Day and we are ladies celebrating ladies, I’ve decided to have a little fun with things. Tomorrow all my friends are coming over for a dinner and then we’re having a good old-fashioned slumber party. It was the perfect excuse to craft and make goodie bags. So, here are my creations, I even busted out the glitter.

 

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If you don’t get the description and animal reference, then you didn’t read up on Galentine’s Day. 😉
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Goodie bags filled with snacks and love.

Have a great weekend! Ladies celebrating ladies, persistently. Channel your inner-Leslie Knope and spread the love!

 

 

 

Subscribed.

Are you a podcast person? I am. I think?

What qualifies someone as a “podcast person”? Paying to go to live-recordings of a podcast? Planning a weekend getaway around a live-podcast taping?

Not that we’ve done either of those things slash, we’ve done them both.

For me, it all started with This American Life. (Really, you too? You don’t say…) I still love Ira and co., but the podcast universe has vastly expanded beyond replays of NPR shows. There is a podcast for everything. They make me laugh. They make me cry. They make me feel smart. They make me feel dumb. They make me feel nerdy. They make me feel cool. All. the. feels.

I recently decided to add a few more podcasts to my usual rotation, some on the suggestions of friends, some on the suggestions of strangers in the iTunes store. One of the first new ones I listened to was an episode of Hidden Brain. I walked around Manhattan nodding my head in agreement and wanting to tell strangers on the sidewalk, “THIS IS IT! THIS IS HOW I’VE FELT ABOUT WORK/JOBS/CAREERS.”

I started writing in this space as a way to flesh out my life as it related to my working-self. It is hard to articulate those feelings. It is hard to felt understood when surrounded by wildly career-successful friends and family. I felt stuck.

So, if you want any indication as to what I’ve been feeling, trying to say, or want to thinking about your own identity, listen to this. I hope you get to nod your head half as much as I did.

Hidden Brain: How Silicon Valley Can Help You Get Unstuck

 

 

 

Yes. Sure, why not?

Last night The H and I went on a spontaneous date of sorts to a pop-up shop in Manhattan that was having a sample sale. We’re on the mailing list from a previous purchase, and I had originally thought when I forwarded the email to Andrew we would go this weekend. Saturday we would go a bit out of our way en route to an event in Brooklyn. Sunday we would make an afternoon of going to the shop and stopping by a coffee shop that makes one of our favorite coffee drinks. But then he responded, “Want to go tonight?”

Yes. Sure, why not?

We went. It was fun. We got some great deals on unique items and on the walk home from the subway we tried out a local taco place that I learned about through my volunteer program. All before 8 p.m. The worst part was the added walking on my mysteriously sore calves. (Well not actually mysterious, just more like the “That was a rougher workout than I thought” sore.)

My point is, I said yes to a random trip into Manhattan on a Wednesday night in January after a long day at school. For some people, this is no big deal. Their social life and activity calendar are without boundaries. Since college, I have not been operating this way, which also means it is uncomfortable for me to be open to activities that might keep me out late on a “school night.” I have shows. I plan out our meals for the week. It is a bold move if I went to get groceries and was home after 6:00 p.m. I go to bed at the same time every night. Call it a by-product of living alone in smaller communities, but weeknights are for routine. Maybe it is also PTSD from being in a gazillion activities in high school where walking out the door with Schwan’s chicken patties in-hand was the best we could do some nights? Still, let me repeat, weeknights are for routine. Friday and Saturday are for plans outside the house, eating out, and merriment.

Moving around the country has caught up with this way of life and mindset. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE a good night at home with nothing going on. Even more, I LOVE multiple nights in a week where this is the case. Homebody? Sure. As I look back, I can see shifts. In Chicago it was a Craft Club I did with some girlfriends and a volleyball league I randomly joined. In the Bay Area it was working a second job and driving 45 min. one way in traffic to have free dinner with my husband. Currently, in New York it is friends who have life schedules I cannot compete with and realizing that the only way you will be able to get together with them is by going to Brooklyn on a Tuesday. People do things all the time! Social activities aren’t exclusively for Friday and Saturday nights. (Let’s not deny that Fri./Sat. still remain the most popular nights to go out and about for a reason, but still…) 

So, I’ve been trying to say yes, even if it is a conscious, forceful yes.  Many times I still want to say no. But, I truly have no good reason besides my old habits. My old habits are comfortable, yet they prevent me from experiencing my life in a refreshing way. Even after I say yes to things, I often have the “ugh, I don’t want to go” feeling shortly before going. But, I go because it is good for me. And, I almost always am happy I went. I love the people I’m with. I appreciate the experiences I’m having. I’m entertained by how this city always has its switch on “on” mode.  When posed with a social opportunity I need to remember their are 7 nights a week, not just 2. It’s about a growth-mindset, people.

Often we hear or read about how people need to up their stock in their ability to say no. So if you need to work on saying no, say no! I have found this way of thinking helpful over the years in specific settings. Some people probably do have too much going on on their social calendar. But, not me. Moving is helpful to your social scene (maybe harmful?) in the fact that you are rebooting old friendships, hoping for new friendships, and just aren’t as connected to your community to have tons of social offers floating around.

Saying yes has a component of fear, but saying yes also helps be feel more connected.  I’m going to work on saying yes and thank my stars for on-demand, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO GO. (I can’t quit on Grey’s yet, I’ve come this far!)

Yes, I know the kick-ass Shonda Rhymes has a book literally titled Year of Yes. It is in my cart. Looking forward to all the yesses! 

What’s next? Dinner at The H’s work with a friend tonight, with a gift for the friend I’ve been carrying around since mid-Dec. because even when you are up for hanging out on all nights of the week, it is still hard to cross paths. Also, I’m working on being the invitER not the invitee, bonus points!

 

 

 

 

Considering fear.

I am afraid.

After last week’s breaking point, or blogging point, I have been asking myself a lot, “What are you afraid of?”

I tend to ask myself this most often when I am nervous/stressed about an upcoming event/thing/meeting/interview/job. (I realize “thing” is the vaguest of vague, but there are things and then there are things. I’m referring to the things.) I am fearful I will fail. I am fearful I will be disappointed. I am fearful I will be a disappointment.  I’m fearful people won’t like me. I’m fearful that starting or going to whatever it is I’m nervous about will send me into a sleepless spiral of worry, self-doubt, and a chaotic life there I won’t be able to find peace of mind.

Fear comes from confidence…or lack thereof, IMHO  (In my humble opinion). (Or the H is for honest, but I go for humble.)

Since I have not been feeling confident, naturally I am feeling fearful.

So, when I get to that point, to try to get over the fear-hump, I have been trying to ask myself, “What are you afraid of?” And all those things listed above, flicker through my mind – changing scenes depending on the day.

But what will happen if any of those things happen? Maybe nothing. Maybe I will adapt. Maybe I will have a shitty day or week, but I get into a new routine. Maybe I will accept the embarrassment or failure and grow from it.

And, what will happen if I am paralyzed by fear? Again, maybe nothing. But more likely, I won’t adapt. I will flounder. I will be anxious. And I will sure as hell not be feeling confident.

In the ten years since I’ve graduated college, I have done quite a bit and sometimes I sell myself short on that. I’ve been employed, even if not always a “dream job” or the ever-pride-cringing line of, “But I’m not using my degree” has had to be muttered as I shy away from eye-contact. I got an advanced degree in a profession that, while exhausting, was fulfilling and challenging. I got married. I’ve moved three times to vastly different geographic areas, all far (or far-ish) from family and friends. I’ve made new friends and stayed connected to many old friends. I’ve supported my husband in a career-change and pursuing a career opportunity 4 years ago we would’ve LOLed about to your face. I’ve really learned what I like about certain work environments. I’ve learned new skills in areas that I never thought I’d enjoy or be successful in  and how to adapt your skills from one job to the next. Which, P.S., I think is a hallmark of what actually defines your “career”. (Read Amy Pohler’s chapter on this in her book Yes, Please. It is good stuff.) I write all this to show me that the last decade has not been void of confidence, opportunity, risk-taking, growth, or courage.

I have had one specific anecdote related to fear, lack of confidence, etc. that has surfaced many times over the last couple years when I ask myself the question of the hour. When I was 21 and 22 I had a leadership role in a huge student trip for 2 years. This required planning and organization that I was surely ill-equipped for, but yet I did it. I jumped in with out my fear-floatings weighting me down. In a way, I was naïve. Naïve to what it felt like to be living out of fear. Naïve to the way of thinking that, at 10 years older and “wiser”, can freeze my confidence in an instant. That role I held in college was a lot of work, stress, effort, and worry, but I did it. I did it. I miss that type of naïveté. Where your inner-demons haven’t taken as much hold and fear is maybe on your radar, but you don’t let it alter your course.

I do not wish to be myself 10 years ago, that version of me needed a lot of work too. I just admire that version of me who wasn’t operating out of fear. If I have a heavy hand in successfully bussing hundreds of college-aged co-eds to New Orleans over Spring Break, provide hundreds of hours of service in communities, feed them, have a night on Bourbon St., spend an afternoon in Memphis, and get everyone back to class on Monday with all fingers and toes, I can do just about anything, right?

Make some connections, feel comfortable, be confident and remember what you could do at 22.

Confidently.

The last post I wrote, was after a good 10 minute sob sesh on our new couch we purchased this summer from an online retailer, Article. Love the couch! Hate that I cried on it. Not literally ON it, but you get the idea. While tears fueled that post and all the feels were bubbling at the top, I have put the tissue box back on the toilet tank for now.

One of the last things I wrote in my prior post was about confidence. Many people I know struggle with all things confidence-related. Having confidence. Gaining confidence. Keeping confidence. It is a great, empowering feeling to have, but, for me at least, it flickers in and out like loading a video on the good ol’ dial-up modem.

There are many benefits of having a spouse who works for a large company. With our moving “package” from IL to CA we were offered many “add-ons” that would come from what is essentially a moving slush fund. One thing I tried out last year was some career coaching.** Over the course of last year I had several phone calls and emails with a wonderful woman who really led me to explore myself, my interests, my passions. After every conversation we’d have, I would hang up riding a wave of confidence. I could do anything! 

At times it felt more like therapy than a “let’s find you a job” program. Which, I suppose, is good. At least it was good for me. I think career counseling can take on all sorts of forms and purposes. I’m sure some people have very clear goals and have had career experiences that are highly specific and specialized. The approach for them might be different. I’ll be honest and say all the career-related psychotherapy stuff (the surveys, inventories, personality tests) was not new to me because of some of my graduate degree coursework, but they were worth revisiting. INFJ, with slight E tendencies for life!

I wish I could tap into that confidence I felt last year, right now. Moving is haaaaaaaard on one’s confidence.

For some, confidence is a constant. They just don’t operate out of fear (like I think I do)? They have an inflated view of the value they can contribute and don’t get flustered by failure? They really are just kick-ass and amazing?

For me confidence and comfort are correlated. It is extremely difficult for me to be confident in an arena, situation, area where I am not comfortable. I don’t think I am alone in this. So since moving takes your comfort level and puts it into a blender with nuts, bolts, shells, and rocks, it is no wonder my confidence level is a little chunky right now.

Comfort also comes faster if you’re connected. I’m not really connected. I don’t have a regular job where I work with the same people. The H is gone at work a lot (which isn’t bad and I’m not trying to complain…it is just he has work peeps and friends, I do not). I volunteer once a week with a mentor program, but people are always coming and going from their own busy lives and when we’re there it is about the kids. We have friends. Good, solid friends. The old friends, I’m reconnecting with. And the newer friends…they are awesome, but they are newer friends. Ya hear me?

Connected, comfort, confidence.

** The career counselor I worked with was amazing, but was actually the second person I worked with in the program. The first made me feel terrible about myself and challenged me, but not in a good way. So if you are able to or seek out some sort of program, speak up if you do not connect with the person. They are there to challenge you, but also empower you! 

Currently

In the nearly two years since I’ve taken any action on this platform, we’ve moved around the country…twice. I’ve had three different jobs, of which the current one I wouldn’t really call a “job” more of a sometimes-I-work thing.

Currently, I’m substitute teaching. It is flexible. Awesome! There is no take-home work or stress. Great! I’m in small schools with small class sizes. Sweet! I can walk to school within 12 minutes. Fabulous!

I didn’t even look up the last time I posted something to this, but like I said I think it was about 2 years ago. Within that time my husband landed the career opportunity of a lifetime and we YOLOed to California. There, we spent exactly 365 glorious days in the moderate temps with abundant fruit trees, hikes, compost bins, and self-driving cars. I spent the year as a special education assistant at a middle school and, honestly, it was awesome. The district paid really well for the position and I got lucky with a really good co-teacher and group of kids. Plus, the whole outdoor campus thing really got me. Spending 5minutes walking to the office in 70 degree sunshine? Yes, please!

Late last spring, my husband’s work provided us with yet another opportunity. To join the growing office in Manhattan. This is one place I had always said, “I’ll never live there.” But, for some reason, I convinced myself that we should YOLO again. We were both on board and we hurried to do as many California things as possible before we headed to the other coast.

Arriving in the summer and having been out of my “career” for a few years, I was faced, yet again, with a starting-over point job wise. I had some great career-counseling during the course of last year and I had felt empowered to find something that was within my wheel-house once we moved. I had some interviews, nothing panned out. So I decided, for now, I would get my subbing license and get a feel for the area.

So, that’s what I’m doing. Feeling it out. Some days that feels good. Other days, it feels crappy. Regardless, that’s where I’m at. It has been a rough week emotionally coming off the after-Holiday high, and I think that is why I am turning back to this platform. I don’t intend for anyone to ever read this. I just needed to get some stuff down.  In the coming days I hope to write more. As an outlet to the sad and self-defeating thoughts I’m having. As a way to gain perspective and direction as to where I want to go next. And to hopefully regain some confidence and assuredness that I am enough.