14 Day Challenge

27 Oct

Well during my last blog post I was so excited at the possibility of my so-called “Sabbatical”.  Well it’s been about a month and I haven’t done anything.  Literally.  I started out strong.  Full of energy at the possibility of learning and doing everything.   Doing freelance marketing projects for a client, well for reasons beyond my control, that work is at somewhat of a stand-still.  And since coming back from my trip to Michigan and the death of my young friend, I’ve had a hard time lighting that spark again these past few weeks.   I’ve determined that I might be a little depressed and I’m trying to find a way to pull myself out of it.

I subscribe to a few different pages on Facebook and one is MindBodyGreen.  It has a host of guest writers that write on everything from how to be more green and sustainable, to yoga and meditation, to practicing mindfulness and practical tips to enrich your life emotionally.  I read an article the other day called, “How to change your life in 14 days“.  The title is loaded with promise but they come up with some practical tips to kind of pull yourself out of a rut.  I decided to try it.  I typed out a pseudo plan you can read by clicking 14 day challenge  I’ve printed it out, along with my daily affirmations page that I have taped on my bathroom mirror, and plan to review it daily and in two weeks I want to tweak it to kind of be my short-term goals.  Hopefully over these two weeks I can light a fire back under my butt and narrow down what it is that I’m trying to accomplish with my little sabbatical.

I encourage you to type out your thoughts when reading either the article or my plan.  It will help you a) put a tangible visual to your thoughts and b) it will help you organize your thoughts and help you see it a little bit clearer.  If you want access to an editable version of my plan, just leave me a comment with your email and I’d be happy to share it with you!

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Sabbatical

27 Sep

So, I’ve decided to take a sabbatical.  I know, I know… one might say, “but you’re not a teacher” or “but you don’t work for Google”.  Who on Earth takes a sabbatical from real life???  Well, this girl.

sabbatical

noun

: a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.

 

Something unexpected and unearthing happened to me this week.  I’ve been striving for a plan on and off for the past three years to accomplish a goal and when I was ready to put pen to paper, I hesitated.  The well trained business loan officer was prodding me about my business venture and I had an epiphany in his office;  I realized that this business venture might possibly be something I don’t really want to do.  And now, my world is turned upside down.  I don’t actually know what to do next.  Which for me, is rare.  I feel like this is the first actual crossroads that I have faced in my adult life that could dramatically affect the trajectory on which my life is headed.  If I go down one path over the other, I can foresee regret.  Which is a big no-no for me.

Starting a business has been my driving force for the past year and a half.  I moved out to Williston with a certain business idea in my back pocket but was never more sure about being my own boss until I had experienced the “corporate machine” with the first company I worked for in North Dakota. So I quit and decided to try and figure out a way to work for myself.  But what inevitably follows with any decision I make is second guessing.  Did I do the right thing?  Can I really do it?  What am I doing with my life?  Maybe I should go back and “get a real job”.  Which after negative self-talking myself into a frenzy, I decided to do.

It was almost at this point last year that the final nail was sealed in my corporate coffin when I went to work for another oil and gas company as an office manager.  Within two weeks I had started experiencing some of the same human resource issues as before!  Not on quite the same scale, but it was appalling to me how little a corporation cares about it’s people.  I started to hear statements like, “well the employee doesn’t need to know that” and “make sure you pick up the phone, emails can be subpoenaed”.    It was at this point, that I firmly resolved to never work for any other person other than myself, ever again.

But what could that look like?  That is when I started on the path to starting a specific business venture I had researched before moving to the west.  For the past year I have taken action steps to accomplish some pretty amazing feats;

First I had to put a rude awakening in my personal life as the relationship I was in, I decided, wasn’t working for me.  We reconciled shortly after this, but this was the first time I was able to set boundaries in my life.  By taking a step back and hitting the “re-set” button, I was able to let him know what I can and cannot live with and I was able to figure out that I needed to depend less on his ability to make me happy and rely more on my own ability to reach self-love and happiness.  It was hard, but we’re able to thrive as a couple today.  Not that there still aren’t challenges but this was my first real lesson in boundaries.  Which was a hard pill to swallow.

Then I decided I needed to finish my Master’s degree before tackling a new business so I spent four long months on my capstone project, which was a huge emotional undertaking and a major stress in my life.  But you know what?  I did it. And I graduated this summer with my MSA.

Finally, I was told “no” by several people in regards to financially helping me with my business plan, including my banker.  He told me, come up with $10,000 in collateral and then maybe we’ll talk.  I had $3,000.  So then I was looking for ways for someone else to help me come up with the money.  I was going to sell the second car that I was holding onto as an investment worth about $2,000 and I was going to go into a partnership with someone for the remaining $5,000.

But on a plane ride home from Michigan in July something amazing happened, as it always does when you open up to strangers around you out in the world,  I met a man my age and we had an in-depth, life-changing conversation in the hour long flight from Grand Rapids to Minneapolis.  He suggested that I save the money myself.  That I would be surprised how fast it added up if I budgeted and buckled down and stuck to it.  He finally hit it home with the fact that it would be so much more rewarding if it was something I earned myself and I would be the only person attached to the business.  Bless this man, he was right.

So for the two months after that I saved every single extra penny I had.  I  picked up an extra shift at my second job, added a third job and picked up shifts at the restaurant I used to work at, sold stuff I wasn’t using online and threw that money in there too.  Within two short months I saved the $7,000 I needed.  That’s without selling the car.  I didn’t really realize it until now, but who my age has that kind of money in their savings account?  Who has the earning potential to make that much money in such a short time?  Not a lot of people, regardless at age.

I’m not really saying these things to toot my own horn or to rub it in anyone’s face.  But I went to a woman’s seminar today and one of the things I took away from it was, take time to celebrate your accomplishments.  And I NEVER do that.  I downplay it, blow right by it, check off of my to-do list, and start planning to take down my next goal.  Well guess what?  I no longer have a “next goal”.  I’m stuck at a crossroads.

So I have decided to take a sabbatical.  From my life.  I am going to take the next three months and I’m going to work on things in my life that I’ve been wanting to do.  I have resigned from bar tending.  This job was great money working two nights a week but believe it or not, it was a major stresser in my life and those 16 hours sucked a lot of life from my week.  I’m going to finish my copywriting course, a grant writing course, I’m going to research marketing and advertising, and current trends in the industry, I’m going to volunteer, and I’ve even went as far as to enlist the help of a mentor/life coach.

She is proposing a 90 day program to coincide with the new year.  This is going to be the framework for my sabbatical.  I’m challenging myself these next three months to take a step back, to stop stressing so much about what should be, and just learn.  Learn about myself, learn more about the business idea I’m struggling to accept, learn about other ideas that might make me happy.  But I don’t want to just give up on this idea, or resign to taking another 9-5 job just because I’m not sure what to do with my life.

I’m going to take this opportunity to learn about me.  I’m going to learn about putting myself first, also something I rarely do.  I want to find out what my passions are, what truly drives me, and I’m going to try to find a way to make a living at it.  I’m in a very blessed position in that I’ve found employment that pays the bills only working 4 nights a week.  I will never have all this essentially funded free time in my life again.  I’m going to take advantage of it.  I want to figure out the answer to this question…

10393766_698339000240978_821138280714778973_nImage from GASAN Facebook page

I’m going to try to post updates and journals about how it’s going in my 90 day life planning program.  Hopefully they will not bore you but even more I hope to share some tools you might be able to use in your own life about decision making, the life-work balance, business and personal development, and maybe even leadership too.  As always, your words of encouragement and accountability are appreciated.  Life is short, we need to seize the day while we can and it’s much easier with you guys by my side.  

 

May Simply Hers Article

12 May

Of course I’m slacking on the blog… again. But luckily I have kept up with my column for Simply Hers, a woman’s magazine servicing the greater southern Michigan area. I’m so honored and blessed that people read my words, it’s what keeps me going.  Hopefully one day I can pursue a career in writing, but until then it’s off to the daily grind.

Cheers!

If you’d like to read a copy of the article click here, page 32.

 

 

 

Chapstick Junkie

10 Jan

In November I participated in a writing workshop here in Williston (I know, right?  …There are actually things to do in Williston besides work and drink).   Two published authors who had grown up in North Dakota teamed up with the North Dakota Humanities Council to bring some humanities activities to the state.  There were about 20 of us in participation, I think I was the youngest.   They migrated from other places to work and save money and were all different in a lot of ways, but we all came together for two nights in the month of November to share our work, talent, and dreams.  It was an amazing experience.

The attendees have decided to come together once a month and form a writing group to help each other develop our skills, brainstorm ideas, and give constructive critiques.  One of the women from the group has also organized a women’s only snow shoe/writing retreat at Fort Union this weekend.  We’re going to hike through a national landmark and then get together and write about our experience.  I’m so excited!  I’ve never done anything like this and it feels good to be doing some productive activities.

For the last session of the workshop we were supposed to submit a writing assignment on anything we chose fitting and in any form.  I chose to do a poem of sorts on my horrible addiction to chapstick.  Of course I would take this assignment and try to write something so ridiculous that it’s funny.  Just like me!  But I’d like to share it with you all   =)

Chapstick Junkie

Crackled, dry and scaly lips are proof that I need you.

I reach for you at any hour of the day, and when I can’t find you my mind is consumed.

The more I use you the more I need you.

You haunt me at checkout lanes, gas stations, and malls.

You’re stashed away in drawers, cupboards, the car, work, the bathroom, even in the kitchen.

You wreak havoc on my laundry, melt in the sun and explode in the winter.

Countless dollars have been spent since you’ve been in my life.

Raping, pillaging and plundering are all necessary means to an end to get my fix.

On desperate occasions I’ve stooped to using olive oil, lotion and the wax behind my ears.

And yet, nothing compares to the sweet release and comfort I feel when I use.

Smooth, pink, plush, smackable, kissable lips.

Euphoria. Sheer heaven. Ecstasy.

But soon, the edge wears off and I reach for you again.

The cycle continues.

Home

30 Dec

Home. What does it mean to you? The longer I’m away, the trickier that question becomes. My hometown has become a place I visit only twice a year. It’s where I spent the first two thirds of my life, where my entire family lives, and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I also consider Traverse City my home and I also miss the people and land immensely. But now, Williston is home.

My last trip to southern Michigan for the holiday was great. I love and miss my family so much. Several of my family members and friends asked when I’d be coming “home” for good. I didn’t have the heart to tell them that southern Michigan isn’t my home anymore. It’s transitioned from “home” to the place I grew up and the place where my family lives. A place where my past lives. A place I will be visiting and most likely, a place I will never live again.

Life is unpredictable and like one of my past bosses Tim Hinkley said to me when I asked him what the best piece of career advice he could give me was, “always check the ‘Willing to relocate’ box”. He urged us to open ourselves up to new opportunities and not to limit ourselves geographically. I’ve made the decision to never limit myself by geography. I will not live safely in my comfort zone and take the easy way out. I want an extraordinary life. I want to keep mixing it up and challenging myself. To live my life not by fear of the unknown and to follow the path of opportunity wherever it may lead me.

Even though I know I won’t be here forever, Williston is my home for now. This town is allowing me to pursue the opportunities I’ve always wanted in life. It’s allowed me to find love, to push the boundaries of myself, and it’s constantly showing me the stuff I am made of.  I can make a living here and set myself up for an amazing future. I fully intend to take advantage of all that this place has to offer me in the next few years but who knows where I will call home next.  Because I think it’s true what they say, home really is where the heart is and where the pieces of my heart have been left behind.

Long time, no speak

15 Nov

It’s been a while.  It’s sad to me how much I’ve let Williston get the better of me as it has these past six months.  I’ve been too depressed, stressed out, and ashamed to write anything.  I’ve been on a path that resembles a downward spiral.  I was in a relationship that I relied on for generating 100% of my happiness, I went back to an office job – which I hated, and I was not quite homeless but never had a stable place to live and broke for most of the past six months.  It starts to weigh on you.   

Last weekend I had a “come to Jesus” moment with myself.  I decided I needed to get out of the relationship I was in or change it drastically.  So I moved out.  It was unhealthy for me in a lot of ways.  I let being with him consume my every thought.  I stopped planning to start my own business.  I almost moved back to Michigan several times.  I lost myself in it and as a result I lost my way and purpose for coming to North Dakota in the first place.  We had a lot of issues, some his fault, some mine.  But I had to step back from this relationship because unfortunately love isn’t always enough to make it work.  I have to get a better handle on me and keep it!   If we’re ever going to rebuild and make it in the future, it was necessary to take a step back.  I love him, more than I’ve ever loved anyone aside from my family.  He is my family.  But there are some things that need to happen before we can make that leap.  Although it’s only been less than a week and I miss him so much it hurts, I know it’s the right thing for me. For us.  We have some growing up to do and we both need to get ourselves together before we can make “us’ work together.  

I also quit my office job last week.  I had only been there two weeks and I just knew that I couldn’t do it.  I felt like I was dying in that box staring at a screen all day.  Every minute I spend working for someone else, I’m not working on my own business.  After this weekend, I just said enough is enough.  I take the Hofstee Manifesto to heart.  “If you don’t like your job, then quit”.  I was wasting energy on something that was not going to fulfill me but do the opposite.  Suck my energy dry.  This week I reopened my business plan for the first time since March.  And it feels amazing! 

I’ve felt lost before. It doesn’t help that Williston throws a lot of huge roadblocks at you.  I’ve been on a roller coaster ride since July;  Homeless – we moved three times in one month, multiple job changes, fighting with my significant other all of the time. I let these things bring me down.  It seems that I continually forget that I’m going to have to work hard each and everyday for the life that I want.  It’s never going to get easy but I have to stay positive and just keep moving forward.   I have to admit this has been the hardest year of my life.  But with these experiences always comes learning.  I’m still determined to take control of my life and to live each day as I want it.  To make my life a true and authentic one.  I don’t want to have any regrets.

I am on the mend.  I’ve moved in with a couple that I respect immensely, both professionally and personally.  It’s a stable environment and they are very positive and uplifting people.  I’m still trying to see if I can make this relationship work but instead of it consuming my life and trying so hard to make it work, I am not going to over think it. It is what it is.  Regardless of what happens, we’ll still love each other very much. But I alone am responsible for my own happiness.  I cannot blame other people or my circumstances.  There are always reasons, but never excuses.  I am back to write about whatever, anything and everything.  I’m not going to hold back.  I’m not going to censor myself anymore.  I really hope you enjoy the blogs but if not, oh well.  I’m doing this for me now. Just as I should have been always doing, I suppose. But I’m going to leave you with this, the Hofstee Manifesto. It’s times like these that I read and re-read this document several times.  Life is simple, people.  We only get one shot.  We can do this!  Image

The Sun Will Rise Tomorrow

29 May

The sun will rise tomorrow
into a cloudless sky
The wind will blow a lofty breeze
The fields let forth a sigh
And I’ll pay no mind
to all the hurt I feel
Because the sun will rise tomorrow
As if to say
The pain it cannot be real

– Pen Name

I’m not 100% sure if this is an original or something memorized but it was written on the pad of paper that I use to take drink orders with at the bar.  When I asked him what it was he said that this sums up his life in North Dakota.  Like most living here he is from somewhere else, actually he’s from Cheboygan, Michigan, and like most of the rest, he doesn’t really want to be here.  It’s just a means to an end for him.  A sacrifice for a better life.   Unlike the others however, it’s odd to see that amount of sensitivity from a man working in the oil patch.  It’s a good reminder that people are not always what they seem and to judge not lest ye be judged (or something like that).

I just thought it was beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful all at the same time and wanted to share.  Especially as the phrase “The sun will rise tomorrow” is a phrase I’ve been leaning on for hope and optimism since my high school volleyball coach said it to me ten years ago.  I have it in random areas of my life such as the security phrase for the password on my student loans (WARNING: those who wish to steal my identity please see the section of this blog “The D Word”, I’m probably not the best target…), the greeting that used to pop up when I would turn on my cell phone, etc.  It’s a constant memento that no matter how bad your day is or you think your day is, the sun is still going to rise tomorrow.  You’ve got a second chance, a clean slate to start anew and to try again and in most cases it’s hard to imagine that just yesterday you thought your world was shattered.  So just make it through the day, take a deep breath, and tell yourself, “the sun will rise tomorrow”.  With the right attitude and gratitude, happiness is not only possible but probable.