Midlife Malaise

Due to an unfortunate decision in my choice of major in my college years, I have been an administrative assistant my entire adult working life. I’ve been in my current position for nearly 13 years with the same company and my job has changed very little in that time. I don’t really foresee it changing very much in the next 13 years either.

The work is not challenging, my coworkers are not my friends (I am the only woman among 8 men), and culture of my company has changed from  we’ve-got-your-back to it’s-all-about-the-dollars in the last 5 years. Within the next year, my office will be moving inside an industrial plant where I will be forced to dress like a construction worker (goodbye cute summer sandals!) and share a space with my blue collar coworkers (they are good guys but there’s not a lot of talk about arts and culture if you know what I mean). Those are the cons of my current job.

Here are the pros: the pay is decent, the benefits are excellent, I have a mere 17 minute commute, I can pretty well come and go as I please, and I have 4 weeks of paid vacation plus 8 paid sick days per year, plus 10 paid holidays.  My boss is a good boss – my only complaint is that he’s an over-thinker to the nth degree and sometimes that can be exasperating, but overall I enjoy working with him. My job causes me very little stress and I don’t have to work evenings or weekends, or be on call.  Also, and this is a big PRO – I don’t have to work with the general public. On paper, the pros definitely outweigh the cons, especially in today’s job market.

I feel like I outgrew this position a long time ago, but it was a good fit for my family and see also the pros above – it’s hard to walk away from all that, especially since my husband is self-employed and doesn’t bring in any health insurance or a regular bi-weekly paycheck. I feel that I have more to offer than simply being able to do my job quickly and efficiently, but do I really? When I look for other jobs, I see gaping holes in my resume that hold me back from applying for those positions. I haven’t developed any marketable skills over my time here that would be useful elsewhere. And there’s a lot of fear of the unknown too – fear of starting over at another company, fear of rejection when going for interviews, fear of getting into a worse situation…lots of fear all around it.

I hear all of the talk about following your dreams! and dream big! Do what your heart wants you to do!! Honestly, that all sounds exhausting. Hustling sounds like a lot of work when I feel like I should be slowing down and settling in at my age.

I think what is really happening is that I have hit midlife and don’t have a career I can be proud of. I sort of hate that my kids say “my mom is a secretary” when I’d originally had such lofty goals for myself in college. My best friend’s title is Senior Director of Development at a major university…she gets to travel and go to fun events and talk to different people every day. I come to work and sit behind a desk and listen to podcasts so that I can distract myself while I do the same work I’ve been doing for 13 years. I’m not jealous of my friend – she has worked damn hard for her career and deserves every accolade that comes her way – she’s very, very good at what she does and I am so proud of her. I simply wish that I had a career that I could talk about with some sense of accomplishment and pride as well. I feel almost embarrassed to say “I’m an administrative assistant” when I have a French degree under my belt (also embarrassing: I remember very little French now, seems like a waste of tuition).

I heard a term the other day in a Ted Talk I watched on YouTube – “Midlife Malaise”. I think that perfectly describes how I’m feeling. I’m not having a midlife crisis as much as I’m just sort of bored, really. And I’m actually not bored with my whole life – my marriage is solid, my kids are good and healthy… it just seems to be my career or lack thereof that has me feeling inadequate.

This feeling cycles around every so often. A lot of times I can squash it down and ignore it, but it always comes around again eventually. Not sure what to do about it – do I simply need to learn to appreciate what I have or do I need to put myself out there and risk it all for something that may or may not be better? Should I develop one of my hobbies into a side gig and look for fulfillment there? Should I volunteer somewhere and hope I feel useful? Should I just go buy a lottery ticket and pin my hopes on a mega-millions win??

If only I could get paid to read books and drink tea all day…my life would be complete.

photo of teacup on top of books
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

 

 

Stress eating my way to a nervous breakdown

Wow, that title is a little dramatic, isn’t it? I’m not anywhere near a nervous breakdown, but I have been stress-eating like a lunatic lately, so that statement isn’t completely false.

From the middle of March until now it seems like it has been one thing after another around here – my daughter’s graduation, a last-minute Senior Tea I helped throw together, my other daughter’s cheer commitments (and mine, say hello to the new Cheer Booster Club treasurer!), then a couple of weeks ago, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. Luckily, the doctors think his cancer (lymphoma) is very treatable and his prognosis is good, but for those 2 weeks things were pretty dicey. I really and truly thought my dad would not live to see the end of this month.

Things with work have been dicey too. At the end of last year, some big changes were made to my company and it went from feeling like a close-knit friends & family community to a cut-throat BUSINESS. Several very good employees were let go and just this morning they let one of our best go. She had been with the company for years (maybe 20?) and she was a wealth of information – she knew the processes and ins and outs of almost everything in my department. She was my go-to when I didn’t know how to do something – actually she was the go-to for a lot of people – she was super dependable and could be counted on to get things done. And instead of utilizing her brains and talent in another position, they restructured her right out of a job. I am so sad and mad and frustrated. It just makes no sense to me.

And she’s not the only bright star they let go. Which leads me to think that if they are willing to let these really good employees leave, what’s stopping them from letting me go? Do I jump ship now or do I wait until they decide I’m not valuable anymore and let them offer me a severence? I really don’t know.

So, guess how I’ve been dealing with all of this? ICE CREAM. As much ice cream as I can get! I’ve had ice cream nearly every day for the last 3 weeks, and not just a small lady-like dainty scoop of ice cream, nuh-uh! I’m talking six inch high soft serve twist cones from the local walk-up. I’m talking those Snickers ice cream bars (and if you think I stop after having one of those, you would be wrong). Ice cream in big bowls at home drizzled with Hershey’s syrup. And you wanna know how I feel after all that ice cream?

Awful.

It didn’t help one iota. Okay maybe while I was eating, it felt good, but after the last crunch of the cone, my worries were still there, nagging me to think about them some more.

It hasn’t been totally terrible – I did steal away for a day with my BFF for a trip to a museum, but guess what we did after? ICE CREAM.

Ice cream hasn’t been the only player, but it’s been the main character in my play of overindulgence. I feel like I want to pull back and get into a regular routine of eating well again, but dammit it’s so hard to resist something that is so quick and efficient at easing my stress, even it only lasts a few moments. I’m ready for life to settle down again but it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen anytime soon.

What do you do for stress? And if you say “I work out and eat lettuce” I will glare at you through my screen. Tell me the real deal – how do you REALLY deal with stress?

 

Rock Your Worth

In my post last week about intentions, I hinted at a fun pretty way to remind yourself of your intentions all year long, and now I can tell you what that is!

Rock Your Worth bracelets

rywbanner

My friend Emily Roberts is a psychotherapist who works with groups of girls to help them increase their confidence and self-worth (Emily works with all kinds of people actually, she’s amazing at what she does) and in her groups they used to put a mark of some kind (using a marker or a sticker or some other visible reminder) on their wrists to help remind them of the intentions they had set. She noticed that this visible reminder actually worked and so she decided to combine her jewelry making hobby with her love of crystals and gems to create Rock Your Worth bracelets.

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The idea is that you set an intention and then choose a bracelet made of gems or crystals that correspond to that idea. Then every time you look at your bracelet, you’ll be reminded of your intention!

For example, my main intention this year is to get on top of my finances, so I chose  the  green moss agate

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So pretty!! 

which according to the website represents:

 

NEW BEGINNINGS  EMOTIONAL BALANCE  PROSPERITY

Green Moss Agate balances emotions and encourages an abundant mindset. When combined with Onyx, it allows you to feel a strong sense of self-worth and control over your mood. A powerful stone for letting go of negative emotions, Green Moss Agate allows you to release the thoughts that are holding you back.

Green Moss Agate is a stone of wealth, attracting high-level thoughts and encourages behaviors to help you reach your goals. When combined with grounding and protecting Onyx, you will feel rooted in your truth and know you are worthy of attracting everything you desire.

Intention: “I am worthy of abundance and let go of limiting beliefs.” Every time you see your bracelet, remember this intention or create your own and rock your worth!

 

I chose this because it’s green and green is the color of money and it reminds me that I am capable of turning my finances around and making my money work for me.

I also have these cute bangle bracelets (or are these considered cuffs?) that remind me that I have the right to express my opinions and that I am worthy of any and every good thing that comes my way.

Right now Rock Your Worth is running a Valentine’s Day special – buy 2 bracelets for $50 and choose the gift option and they will wrap it up and put a sweet message in it from you for whoever you decide to send it to. Send one to a friend or loved one OR show yourself some love and buy yourself this super cute stack just because :

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AND if that isn’t enough to make you want to purchase one, Rock Your Worth will donate a percentage of each purchase to Girls Empowerment Network. Your purchase will help young girls realize their worth. Girls who realize their worth grow up to be the powerhouses this world needs!

Go to the website and look around, then come back here and tell me which ones you love the most. I’m smitten with the rose quartz and the sodalite bracelets – so pretty!!

P.S. Even if you don’t believe in the power of crystals (I’m a bit of skeptic myself) you can believe in how pretty these bracelets are and be proud of the fact that you are doing something to help young girls around the world. 

All photos (except for the one of my wrist with the green agate bracelet) are from the website https://theguidancegirl.com/ryw/. 

Also, I am not an affiliate and this post is not sponsored – I am not making any money off of this post. I bought my bracelets myself with my own money and will probably buy more because I am way into cute stacks of bracelets right now. 

Got my zen back

Okay…I think I’m done playing around with the theme and layout of my blog. I really like how this looks now.

I’m curious though – how do you read my blog:

  • a desktop or laptop
  • a tablet
  • a phone

Not that your answer will change my layout (it’s supposed to automatically resize depending on what kind of device you are reading on) but I’m just curious how most people read blogs these days. I still typically read on a desktop at work (during lunch) but sometimes I’ll read on my phone. Just depends on where I am.

Okay…NOW I can back to posting. I have several posts in mind but I just really wanted to get this layout going first.

 

 

 

Happy New Year

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Well I totally meant to write a meaningful end-of-year post, but December got a little crazy and I just didn’t get around to it. I’ll do a quick wrap up right now before I move on to my goals for this year.

What I did well last year:

  • tracked all of my expenses for the year so I could see where all of my money went
  • stayed consistent with my book club – we met almost every month…we just couldn’t find time to get everyone together in November and December.
  • got much better at being mindful and listening to what my body tells me
  • finally called my doctor to help me with my weight

Those are just a few things off the top of my head. I’m sure I did other things well last year, I just can’t think of anymore specific examples.

This year I want to work on:

  • Making my money work for me – since last year was all about tracking, now I can see where I can cut back and maybe add in some extra so I can pay down some debt
  • doing more fun things with my book club – I’ve got a couple of movie nights planned for us and maybe some field trips in addition to our monthly meetings
  • getting better with my hand-lettering – I’d like to take some online classes for fun to see if I can really improve
  • making exercise and meditation a regular part of my routine – I know all the benefits of moving regularly and meditating, now I just want to do them often enough to really reap the rewards (better sleep, less stress, & clearer thinking)!
  • conquering the demons that have control of my hair – this may be the year I chop it all off. I’m so over it.

What did you do well last year? What do you want to work on this year?

 

Banking it up

In my last post, I talked about self-care in relation to caring for others. You really can’t pour from an empty cup – you have to fill yourself up so that you don’t feel resentful or frustrated when others need something from you. On the flip side of that, we all need to fill ourselves up so that we can be ready to show up for ourselves when things fall apart. 

Eating right and exercising isn’t just a means to a firm, toned end, it’s really so much more than that. It’s about feeling GOOD – feeling good in your body and your mind. And it’s about being ready to handle whatever the future wants to throw at you. 

Stress, like death and taxes, is inevitable. It’s going to come at some point and it’s not going to be particularly convenient, but if you start doing things now that are known stress relievers, you will be so much more able to handle that stress better. 

For instance, if you have a habit of running 3 miles (or doing yoga, or lifting weights, or [insert favorite exercise here]) every day , not only will the everyday stress be more manageable, but when those big stressors hit (a job loss, divorce, a death or illness of a family member, etc) you will have already banked up the skills and tools you’ll need to face them head-on. Think of it as depositing stress relief into your health account so that when you need to make a big withdrawal, it’s there waiting for you. Every time you take a walk, every time you eat your vegetables, every time you write in your gratitude journal or do a 5-minute meditation, you are banking it up and getting ready for the heavy hitters in life. 

If you are already in the habit of doing some of these things, great – you are ahead of the game, but if you are like me and forget this lesson more than you remember it, then take note of the things going on in the lives of your friends and family and let it be a reminder for you. Set a reminder in your phone once a week to ask if you’ve made a health deposit lately. Have someone you can be accountable to and keep each other on track. I tend to think I can put off exercise or vegetables until later, but really I need some form of movement and nourishment every single day, even if it’s only in small amounts.  Do whatever it takes to grow your account so that you’ll be able to handle it better when life gets dicey. 

What do you do regularly and consistently to keep stress at bay? Or alternatively, what do you wish you could do, and what’s keeping you from doing it? 

 Really good book about finding your exercise groove! (Click on the picture to see it at Amazon.com) 

 

Also an excellent read for an overall healthy approach to nutrition. (Click on the pic to see it at Amazon.com)

 

Amazon links are affiliate links. 

To the Frustrated and Resentful: I see you.

To the woman who swears that this week she will stay out of the break room at work (and all of the snacks it beholds)…I see you.

To the woman who spent the weekend on the couch, avoiding all the things she “should have been doing” and now she feels like a big unproductive failure…I see you.

To the woman who pushed herself all weekend long to play catch up at home, even though she was exhausted, because her week was so busy and she couldn’t get all the chores done…

To the woman who puts in an extra half hour on the treadmill because she had wine and pasta at her anniversary dinner Saturday night and she just really can’t afford those calories…

To the woman who refuses help because she “should be able” to do it herself…

To the woman who feels like there will never be enough (time, money, etc)…

To the woman who feels frustrated and overwhelmed and resentful at what her life has become…

I see you. I know how you feel because I used to be you: resentful, overwhelmed, frustrated, insecure, scared.

I get it, I really do. It feels like if you could just try a little harder, you might be able to accomplish all those things that you think you should be doing. So you vow to do better – you will be stricter with food, you will work out every day – no exceptions, you will make a chore chart, a menu, and a budget plan and you will stick to it no matter what! You just need to fight harder and things will work out…

…until something unexpected comes up and your grand plan falls completely apart.

I did this over and over for years. I ended up 75 pounds overweight, cranky, and just generally unhappy and wondering why me? Why and how did I let myself get this way?

Here’s what I eventually learned: the harder you fight, the more you dig in your heels and rage against the machine, the deeper your rut gets. And because I had been on this same path over and over again it was well worn, I thought that I could bully myself into submission and that if I talked terrible enough to myself, I’d eventually get it right and magically become someone I wasn’t meant to be.

Living that way is exhausting. In fact, it’s not really even living, it’s just existing, at least it was for me.

So…how do you start living again? Grace, forgiveness, kindness. 

Give yourself some of that. Give yourself a whole lot of that. Stop believing what society says you “should” be and start believing in who you ARE. You are strong, you are capable, and you are VALID just as you are today, right now. Take back your energy, your boldness, your belief in yourself. Forgive yourself for not measuring up to society’s standards and set your own standards. Set the bar where ever you want – because guess what? There actually is no bar!! Put your effort and your energy into adding more fun, more comfort, more relaxation in your days. And if that sounds like too much, then just start with telling yourself “I forgive myself for everything. I’m going to get curious. I’m going to experiement with what feels good in my life and what needs to go.” Just start there.

And then say it to yourself everyday from now on. 

The rest will come. It will. 

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/imperfect/2016/07/14-inspirational-quotes-from-brene-brown/