Today would have been your 24th birthday. The last birthday of yours that you were here for, you turned 16. I wonder if there will ever be a birthday of yours that comes along that I won’t wonder what you would have been like if you had lived. I don’t think there ever will be and I’m finally okay with that. Not okay that you aren’t here but okay that you won’t ever not be on my mind on this day and every other. Happy birthday Willie. I love you and always will.

We spend so much time in life thinking about stressors
and things that suck in our lives. 
I decided today to make a list of things that make me happy. 

Coming out of a summer where I lost a long term romantic relationship AND a job,
I have felt lost and ungrounded.
So many of the things that made me happy are no longer in my life,
I have struggled to see or know what does bring me joy
(not the Marie Kondo type…although you should see my underwear drawer now!) 

A funny thing happened though.
As I sat down to try to think of 10 things to list
(which I thought was going to be hard),
I got going and realized that there are way more than 10 things. 
It helped me to rediscover those things that I had become distanced from,
things that I had pushed away from acknowledging
because it hurts to think about them without crying
(see #’s 5,16 & 19),
things that I worry might be gone forever and to voice
that I want them because they make me
happy means I might be UNhappy without them.
Doing this also showed me that I have hit a point of
being unapologetic for what I love.

Things I love and want do not mean I am needy,
they mean I know what makes me happy - and that’s a good thing.

Things I love that are cheesy and stupid
(see #’s 2(d), 4, 17 & 21) I will proclaim without shame ;). 

So my Top Ten list will be as long as it needs to be,
and ever to be added to. It’s my list 🙂

What puts a smile on your face?

Top Ten(ish) Things That Make Me Happy
(in no particular order of importance but yes, coffee is number 1)

1. Hot coffee in the morning. Preferably with a cigarette and outside.
2. Travel.
a. waking up someplace that is not home. 
b. getting lost walking around a city that you don’t know
c. airports (yes, I do love them now) - the anticipation of where you are headed lives in them.
d. shot glasses with cheesy touristy pictures on them (yes, I collect them)
3. Roadtrips.
a. loud music in the car a thousand miles from home.
b. roadside rest stops; that feeling when you get out of the car and finally stretch your legs.
c. changing routes on a whim because you want to try a new direction for a while.
4. Stupid B movies that I have watched a dozen times.
a. Planet of The Apes
b. Anything Star Wars (original three) related.
c. Bad 50’s black and white cult classics.
d. Zombie/Post Apocalypse movies.
5. Love. All kinds.
6. Graffiti.
7. Decrepit and abandoned buildings and things.
8. A clean kitchen.
9. The smell outside when it rains.
10. Bike rides at sunrise. The silence is perfect.
11. Camping.
a. conversations about nothing for hours around the campfire.
b that feeling when your sleeping bag finally feels warm after you slip into it.
c. swimming in a lake so cold that you can’t feel your feet when you get out.
12. That feeling when you are lost in a good book.
13. Loud music while cleaning the house.
14. Dancing alone in my apartment.
15. That feeling when you are done your run.
16. The scent of the person I am in love with.
17. Ridiculously time wasting Youtube videos
a. special nod to the “Irish People try…” series
18. Scary movies (even though I am a wimp at watching them and will swear that I hate them).
19. Falling asleep in the arms of my partner.
20. Breakfast. Hot breakfast. On the weekend. 
21. Troll dolls.
22. Hikes with my kidlets and realizing they have,
in fact inherited my sarcasm and dry wit genes.
23. Cheese. All. Cheese.
24. Butches. Everything about them.
25. The ocean waves. Quiet or harsh, they cleanse and whisper of power.
26. Words.
27. The feel of a freshly shaved head.
28. Boots. 
29. Leather.
a. the smell
b. the feel
30. Femmes. Everything about them.
31. Dogs.
32. Spreadsheets.
33. Kayaking and paddleboarding. 
34. Beer with labels that make me laugh.
35. Boobs (yes, you read that right, it’s not a repeat of #26). 
a. Side boob. Trust me, it needs its own entry.
36. Sea glass.
37. A pen that writes exactly how you want it to.
38. Moonlight.
39. Sex.
40. Apple crisp.
41. A hot bath with my laptop on the towel chest so I can watch a movie while I soak.
42. Making dinner for friends and spending the evening laughing.
43. Frozen yogurt with gummy worms at the movie theatre.

Trying to decide what I want is a tough think. So in the interest of making some headway in this process, I remember a phrase I heard somewhere many years ago (may have been Alanis Morissette and during my post teen angst years…) Paraphrasing here: find out what you don’t want and then you’ll know what you do want. May have been more about who you are than what you want but you get the idea.

Job searching has been a struggle to say the least. Partly because the job market in my town is horrendous if you are wanting more than a minimum wage job but also because searching when you literally have zero idea what you are looking for is like trying to smell the colour nine. 

I contemplated moving back to being self employed. It would allow me the flexibility that I adore. The ability to have a schedule that I set myself. Time to travel when I want and not be tied to a Monday to Friday 9-5 schedule. I put some serious time into this option. I could consult. Business operations and structure are my skill set and something I could transfer into a company of my own. I’ve done it, for free, for associates and business contacts for the last couple of years and I’ve been told more than once that I’m crazy for giving it away. So I mused on that. Heavily mused. 

Then I remembered how it was to be self employed in reality. I was self employed for almost 20 years and I loved it. It also stressed me out and fed my workaholic issues in a bad way. Anyone who has ever run their own business will tell you that the reality is that you work far more for yourself than you ever will for someone else. That’s true. You also will most likely never really have the financial security of knowing how much you’ll have coming in every month.  The benefits are not to be ignored though. Freedom, being your own boss, setting your own schedule, the list goes on and on. So do the issues of starting up, capital costs, time and energy, marketing, and the month to month financial concerns before you actually start making money (and that can take a lot longer than anyone thinks it will). I spent 6 years getting my first business up and running as a side hustle before I took the leap and quit my full time job back in the late 1990’s (goddess that makes me feel old!). I know the self employed game and it’s not easy. 

So I took a job last month that had a wage that was acceptable for my needs even though I had some serious reservations about it. Honestly, I knew going in that it was not a good fit and that it would be a job that would make me less than happy to be going to everyday. But fear of no income won out and I argued with myself that I was being picky, that I was being unreasonable to think that I could find a job that was better. So I accepted the offer and started last week.

Yes, from day one, I knew it was not the right fit. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t a healthy environment for me. Trust me, it was much better in many ways than what I had left in August but it had some pretty serious issues as far as a workplace for me. Eight hour days, solo, customer facing, with no other staff (and hence, no ability to take breaks, including a lunch break) was just not going to work out for me long term. Add in that I was also hired as the manager meant trying to manage and overhaul a business operation that was a mess after a year of no management. So basically, business consulting work, front desk duties (solo) and did I mention that I was also needing to post, interview and hire a new person for the one day a week that I would not work (Saturdays) with no ability to leave the desk? Impossible.

But… I argued with myself, imagine the difference you can make here. It is essentially a blank slate as far as organization is concerned. There is so much potential. You  LOVE business organization and the minutiae of “fixing” it all. There are so many things you can bring to the table to make this better. But. But. But. In all of this, the voice that whispered in my head that I was lucky to have a job at all. Shut up and just keep going. Who are you to want better? 

Then another voice, the one that made me still job search every morning before work, still sending resumes and cover letters even though I had a job now: it said… remember what you want? Sit up and give your head a shake! You did not go through the stress and hell of the last few months to settle. To accept “ok” and “good enough”. You are worth more, you deserve more, than something you aren’t happy with. Granted, no place will be perfect but YOU ONLY GET ONE LIFE. 40 hours a week is a lot of hours to spend not content. 

But, but, but. 

So I interviewed for another position with another company. For a touch less money but with such an amazing work atmosphere and in an environment that hits my skill set and will allow me growth and potential with a future that was not only hinted at but talked openly about in that first interview. A workplace that values work life balance and puts it first and foremost by pointing out that all breaks (including lunch) are paid because “We believe you should be paid for the time during the day when you are recharging yourself.” What a fucking concept. 

I did what scared the hell out of me. I quit the job I had taken last week. With no notice (they still had the other person before they hired me so I did not leave them in the lurch, I’m not a complete douchebag). I put myself first. I start my new job next week. 

I may not be a hundred percent sure or clear on what I want in a career yet. After a week in a job that I certainly did settle for, I do know what I don’t want and that’s a start.

That feels good. 

(written as I have tabs open on a new website for my side hustle 😉  a girl has to have dreams, right?)

 i dance along the lines

the sheen of the web
a lie
that speaks of a slippery slope

the truth
is that it
grips 

holds

binds

captures

i am teetering
holding tenuously
to my balance

each movement
i make holds
an uncertain outcome

each step 
propels me 
in a different direction

i try to look
forward
beyond

the glare
off the strands
is blinding

tears sting 
my eyes
the edge is all i see

i hold 
my breath
and step