Use Your Voice (vlogging like a boss)

Well, I did it! I did my very first video vlog. I really wanted to take on this challenge because I like to think of this blog as a personal wine or coffee date with friends. I wanted to share my voice and for you to see more of the  “real life” me.

Like I imagined, it was terribly awkward talking to myself on my webcam and I sound VERY serious. I managed to only have one mind blank, so laugh your way through that one. YouTube will always get the last laugh and pick the worst screenshot possible to use. But, I did it, and it really wasn’t as bad as it seemed after I started talking.

I decided to vlog about the power of using our own personal voices. If you don’t show respect and confidence in yourself and your own thoughts, why would should anyone else? Check it out and then enter to win an inspirational bracelet below!

I wear my “Be The Change” bangle from The Shine Project: Threads to remind me that I am in control of my own story, that I hold the power to make the changes I want to see in my world. I love Threads (they help at risk youths attain their goals of going to college and establishing careers and being who they want to be!) so much that I decided to giveaway one of their “Be The Change” bangles to one of you!

Threads giveaway

Enter below and remember to tell me what YOU want to change in your personal life in your comment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

xoxo Katie

Stop Apologizing

icecream

How often this week have you found yourself apologizing for your behavior? How many times have you said the words “I’m sorry“? (and I”m not referring to when it was in response to bumping into someone, making a mistake at work or at home, or after a fight with a partner or friend).

I can count at least 16 times.

I apologized for not doing my hair. I apologized for not taking down my Christmas decorations yet. I apologized for wanting to get a fattening appetizer AND an entrée at dinner. I apologized for wanting to talk about something that I’m excited about for longer than 4 minutes. I apologized for wanting to go to bed super early. I apologized for wearing leggings. I apologized for needing to work on some writing on Sunday. I apologized for not being able to hang out with a friend because I had errands to run, laundry to do, and a house to clean. I apologized for having a green smoothie for dinner last night. And many more.

Why am I apologizing for actions that do not harm other people? Why am I apologizing for actions that I enjoy and that make me a happier and healthier woman?

By doing so I’m selling myself short. I’m downplaying my self-worth.

I’m telling the world to not take me seriously.

I’m telling the world that I’m not good enough.

We women live in a judgemental world. Believe me, I can be as judgemental as the rest. The reason for our female to female judgements is an entirely different blog post. But, I think we have a hard time validating our life choices and behaviours because we ourselves are so quick to judge others and in turn we believe others are judging us just as quickly and meanly.

I know I’m afraid of being un liked. But to what degree? To the point that I’m not being my true self? To the point that people will never have the chance to know me? To the point that I’m not giving my self and my life a fighting chance to succeed?

By saying, “I’m sorry, I know you’re tired of hearing about it, but I want to talk about how much I just want to start trying to have a baby again. Just a few minutes okay?” I’m telling my friend that yes, she shouldn’t care about my feelings. That I should be embarrassed to feel like this.

By saying, “Ugh, I know I look a mess today, I just didn’t feel like putting on anything other than leggings and Uggs” I’m telling other women that we should be expected to dress up and look fashionable every single day. That we cannot look beautiful otherwise.

By saying, “I’m sorry, but I have to leave a little early. I would like to write and read a little before going to bed” I’m telling my friends and family that my goals and needs aren’t that important.

When a coworker says, “You look nice today! I really like that dress on you!” and I reply, “Oh, this is what I wear when I’m bloated, it’s just really comfortable” I’m telling them that I don’t deserve a compliment.

I may not always be using the words, “I’m sorry” but I am apologizing for who I am.

It’s time to stop apologizing, to stop being afraid to express who we really are, to stand up for ourselves. 2014 is the year I vowed to respect myself. We deserve to respect ourselves enough, to know that we are enough.

I was inspired to write this blog post after reading this article,written by Brianna Wiest, that has been floating around social media last week. Wiest list 18 things women shouldn’t have to justify.

Below are my favorite 6 things from the article:

Putting themselves first. When Barbara Walters asked Michelle Obama if it were selfish that she openly makes herself her first priority she responded: “No, no, it’s practical…. a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.”

How little or much they’re eating, especially if it’s “unhealthy.” You can eat a big lunch without having to say “I haven’t eaten anything all day” or have some delicious ass nachos without saying “I totally deserve this, I was so good this week, I’ll start the diet again tomorrow.” More importantly, you shouldn’t have to always be interrogated with “that’s all you’re having?” or “you’re going to eat all that?!”

 Not having baby fever. You aren’t more or less of a woman– or person– if having a child isn’t for you now or ever. You shouldn’t have to back it up with the reasons you’re not maternally inclined but will maybe consider it down the road because “who really knows– maybe someday!” when you do really know that you don’t want kids but don’t want to be glared at like a heartless monster.

Enjoying what would otherwise be called guilty pleasures because they’re “girly” things. They don’t have to be “guilty” pleasures, they can just be pleasures. You can enjoy getting your nails painted and wearing a skirt and re-watching 13 Going On 30 a thousand times without floundering in stereotypes.

Amount of makeup worn on any given day. If you want to rock it au naturale, you do that, you beautiful little thing, and if you want to work it like you’re in a drag show, you can do that too. Your face. Your rules.

Being upset about something that warrants an emotional response. You don’t have to apologize for feeling something or acting out on it if it’s real to you. The people who judge you for being a human being, and not being ultimately demure and emotionless and in your place, are the ones who need to apologize.

 It’s time to stop apologizing for who you are.

So what if I like wearing leggings as pants (Blair Waldorf isn’t going to come and chastise me and ban me from NYC). So what if I could watch teen dramas all day every day, they make me feel all the feelings and that makes me happy. So what if some days I eat super clean while the next I want to eat a giant plate of nachos and that’s it? It’s my body and I’ll face the consequences.

It’s time to own up to your actions and stand confidently in front of your choices and the things that make you happy. Don’t put off your happiness because you are afraid.

Respect your choices and they will respect you in return. Happiness and freedom will follow.

Will you join me?

xoxo Katie

 

 

 

 

Love Story Part Two: Rewriting My Story

katie rewriting my story

Read Part One Here

I started telling Ryan and I’s love story last week. The story began at the beginning of my journey to finding love with Ryan. It is not your typical love story – as it starts in heartbreak years before I even met Ryan.

But, this is the story that brought me to Ryan and this is my story to tell.

It was October 2009 and my week’s vacation at the beach had come to an end. I tearfully said goodbye to my mother and brother and hopped on a plane back to Chicago to face my future. I was so hurt on the inside but I masked it with a fiery rage. Zero part of me wanted to have a conversation with him. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs and run away. I could barely walk with out shaking as I collected my bags at baggage claim and made my way out to his waiting car. My heart felt like it was going to explode when I made eye contact with him for the fist time. He looked guilty. He looked sad. But, to me all I saw was a loss. Something I didn’t even recognize anymore. I spent five years of my life with him but I did not know him anymore.

I would be lying if I didn’t say I tried to make things work. Giving up felt like quitting and I’m not a quitter. But as October turned into November it became easier to see that the life we built together was over. But, it’s hard to say goodbye to something that you’ve held so close for so long. It was a decision that was stalled and ignored. I laid in bed and tried to sleep it off. At the beginning of November, we jointly made the decision that I return to my childhood home in PA for the duration of the holidays.

So four years ago, on this week in November, my father flew out to Chicago and helped me pack up my tiny two door coupe with just enough clothes and belongings to get me through New Years Eve.  The following day, he, my dog Maggie, and I started the 12 hour drive to Lancaster, PA. I left with a horrible sinking feeling, like how you sometimes feel when you are leaving for a trip and feel like you left something crucial behind like your ID or your camera. But along with that sinking feeling, I was overcome with a sense of freedom of letting go. Yet, I still held hope that the heart I knew hadn’t completely been buried in tarnished memories. I still held hope for not only my future but our future.

The usual happy tidings and excitement of Thanksgiving and Christmas weighed down on me like a bag of bricks. I couldn’t make it through most Christmas songs without breaking down in tears and I suffered countless panic attacks. I felt both comforted and claustrophobic in my childhood bedroom – recently remodeled away from my girlhood pink carpet and twin size bed. I felt so lost. I settled into the comfort at home, but part of me still didn’t feel like I belonged.

winter 2009

It wasn’t just the loss of love that made me feel so out-of-place, it was the fact that my identity was so wrapped up in that love, in that life. But the love and support that I felt from my family and girl friends pulled me though.

Sometime before Christmas, it was clear to me that although I had never experienced this much pain or this much confusion, I was better off here than there. I was better off with out him. With out that life. It was time to call off the wedding. I felt like a failure. Like a disappointment. I was 26 years old and had no idea where my life was headed. Thank goodness my mom handled all of the dirty work. It was just all so embarrassing.

But, I was ready to rewrite my story. I decided to go back to school – and took some classes at the local art college to get certified in web design and graphic design. I accepted a new job using these skills and gained back some confidence. I ignored all of the phone calls with him, pleading for me to take him back. Crying out that he had changed his mind, that he had made a mistake, that there was nothing else he needed but me. I ignored it all and kept reinventing myself.

Eric's wedding 2010

I travelled almost every weekend to be with friends. Yes, I probably drank too much, dated too many losers, and slept too little, but I had fun. I also created bonds with girlfriends during this time that are everlasting. I found my soul mate in a college best friend – a bond stronger than any I had with him. I’m forever grateful for this time and the bonds it help me create with girlfriends. Life wasn’t perfect, but I was surviving.

Jeanette and I

katie jeanette and laura

My defense mechanism was a giant wall of coyness and coolness. I let no one in other than my family and girlfriends. I dated boys that were not dating material. I tried on all different types. I treated some badly, just because I wanted to feel what it was like. But, I was still wounded.

I was the girl who would sometimes cry at the bar. I was the girl who would never reveal anything personal about herself. I was the girl who didn’t let any man in, but then got hurt when I didn’t receive anything in return. I craved validation. I was the girl who had no idea where her future was headed.

Five months after I moved back into my parent’s home, my Dad and I flew back out to Chicago to pack up the rest of my belongings and mark my furniture for professional movers to bring back. Walking into my old home was a strange experience. It felt haunted, I didn’t recognize the ghost of myself that I caught glimpses of. I was ready to officially say goodbye. I wasn’t that girl anymore. Yet, I still didn’t know the girl who had replaced my former self.

For the next year, I was an explorer. In many ways, the world felt like a fresh new place. I was rewriting my story. I learned that only I could control my destiny and I was going make sure my new life was just what I wanted. I was searching for myself again. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find – was she going to be better than the person I was with him? Was she going to be better than the person she was before him? Was I going to have to force myself to love her? Will she love me?

I was searching for love, but the most important kind, self-love.

Once I finally started to feel comfortable with myself again and could see a future, I decided I wanted to share her and it with someone. In the beginning of summer 2011, I decided to try a free online dating site.

What did I have to lose?

Stay tuned next week for Part 3: Second Chance

xoxo katie

 

Hi, I’m Katie, and I’m a Recovering People Pleaser

Katie, I am enough

Disclaimer: This post was a little awkward for me to write, and I’m nervous for you to read it.

You see, I’m a people pleaser. I’m always concerned about making other people happy.  I’m alway worrying about doing the right thing. I’m always comparing myself to others, making sure expectations are met. I’m always worried that if I say no to someone, I’ll be a disappointment. I do whatever I can do to avoid conflict and to make sure everyone around me is happy.

I’ve stayed in failed relationships way too long. I’ve taken on extra responsibilities at work even though my plate was already too full. I’ve made social commitments when I was emotionally drained. Saying “yes” has become a habit. I’m looked at as the nice one, the sweet one, the one who will do anything for us. But, where do I fit into this picture? It usually ends up with me being unheard and taken advantage of. Often, people never even know my needs, because I never make them matter enough to be heard or valued.

I was scared to write this, because I don’t want to be conceived as whiny or negative. I was always like this. I remember writing a diary as a young girl (one of those really cool ones with a lock and a key!) and thinking “oh, I shouldn’t write that, what would my mom think when she reads this if I die?” That seems very morbid and narcissistic for a young girl doesn’t? In my early twenties, I’d get so stressed that I made myself sick and or wouldn’t eat. My high stress job and relationship were ruining me. Even after a gall bladder surgery, I was still suffering from chronic heartburn, stomach pains, and anxiety. It’s gotten better over the years, but I still have my sick moments a couple of times a month.

Lately, I’ve been trying to break this habit – to recover from my people pleasing ways. What caused me to start writing this rambling blog post? In addition to my position at a consulting company, I’m a freelancer for non-profits. I honestly love working for non-profits because I like to do work that is bringing change, which means something. However, the money is never there. Last week, I received a call that my biggest client can no longer afford to pay my salary. I was crushed. I had invested a lot into this organization – not just my time and work, but emotionally. Yes, I was getting paid, but I also did a lot of work for free. Whenever anything was asked of me I’d say yes. Even if it stressed me out to the point that I had chronic heartburn and stomach pains and I’d be up past 1 am working, I did it because I cared and because I was “such a nice person”.

I didn’t want to let this company down. I wanted to impress them too. And now, they wanted me to continue “helping” them, but strictly volunteer. I’d lost about 30% of my net income. It was a big loss. Ryan’s in law school – money is tight. I would need to find another source of income. And yet, I considered saying I’d do the work for free. Or, I’d be on call if they’d need me in a bind.

I knew how this would turn out; I’d basically be doing all the same work but getting no income. When I mentioned this, I was reminded that everyone else in the organization was not getting paid. That they simply cared about the cause. That hurt so much. I would love to have the luxury to volunteer my time for organizations I care about. I want my work to mean something.  But right now, my time is my money. And I feel like they know that. They’re all in a different, ahem, tax bracket than myself. But I know when I’m being swindled. They know I always say yes and they’re taking advantage. It hurts and I’m going to put my foot down. For the first time, I need to put myself first. (Even simply writing that sentence makes me feel SO selfish.)

I am enough. There, I said it. My thoughts, my values, my life choices are enough. I’m not going to bend myself to please others than those that please me in return. I am enough. I need to focus on what makes me happy. This blog has been wonderful; it’s been a great tool for me to re-connect with who I am. It’s been a way for me to break free of the professional persona I’ve had to put on and show my true self.

I’m going to listen to my heart and my bones and do what is healthy for myself. I’ve started this week with my desire to de-clutter my home and simplify my life. I’ve been going to bed earlier, reading more each night, and staying off my phone. I’ve noticed changes. In the past I have worried that my other job is not “enough”. I compare myself to others with fast moving careers and think I am a disappointment to myself. Fact is, I love the consulting company I work for. Like any other job, it has its up and downs, but I’m fascinated by the creative work that we do and the people we meet. It’s low stress and healthy for me. It is enough. I love that I’m not so stressed out at the end of the day that I have zero energy left for any other projects (like some other work mentioned above). I have energy to do the things I love, work out, read, write, support Ryan and make our home a nice place – these are all things that make me happy. I am choosing to love my life. I am enough.

xoxo katie