thank you!

Yesterday I vowed to combat my Blackberry obsession (it’s really more like a neurotic tic) for the next few days, at least. It’s the perfect week to be less connected since half the world is on vacation, plus I’m headed to Vegas tomorrow for my cousin’s wedding! I can’t be medically dependent on my phone when I’m trying to win jackpots, you guys. Get real.

So when I checked Twitter last night before bed, my jaw dropped to discover that The Frisky had posted my article yesterday afternoon! I had no idea it went up.

And I was even more surprised to find a bunch of really thoughtful, positive comments. So thank you for reading, commenting and for your emails, tweets and Facebook messages. I’m truly, truly humbled by all the generous and warm responses.

The truth is, it’s a little intimidating to post such a personal story on the Internet. I’m not a particularly private person because I don’t see any need to keep secrets. But telling a story like this in all its scandalous glory on such a widely read site still involves some letting go on my part.

More than anything though, I am reminded that I have nothing to hide. In short, I went through an incredibly difficult time in my early twenties that felt like a death as it was happening. Sure, there are some embarrassing details associated with the whole mess, but I can’t be ashamed of any of it. It happened. And it’s a story I’m compelled to tell.

If readers can relate, are moved, or if it helps them with something in their own life, I’m honored.

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all grown up

Well, I just sent my article to The Frisky editor. Met the deadline, but went over the word limit by 300ish. It couldn’t be helped! I’m proud of the piece though, if not a little nervous that it’s out of my control now. Mostly, I’m so glad it’s done.

I’m seeing my best friend from college tonight for the first time in long while. He still lives in New York, but we’ve drfted apart over the years. It’s funny timing to be catching up with him because so much of the article I just finished obsessing over for two days deals with the past and a time during which he and I were very close. So it’s all very fresh in my mind.

I realized this morning that this month marks 12 years since I moved to New York as a teenager. Yes, I came for college, but college in New York is a whole different animal than a dorm-room style experience in a non-urban environment. Certainly not better or worse, but very different.

The friend I’m seeing tonight is someone I met on my second or third day in town. We connected because he was also from the Midwest – from a Chicago suburb no less. And we clung to each other for those first few months, becoming best friends and partners in food crime and other nonsense. He’s also the friend whose eventual weight loss inspired me to get serious about my own. In short, we were tumultuous besties for years before we ultimately drifted apart.

I’m excited to see him, to reminisce about how we used to stay up late in our dingy railroad apartment and talk about “when we’re 30.” Here we are.

When I moved to this city at age 17, I was such a naive idiot. I really was. I guess most 17-year-olds are. I could not have known at the time, of course, what a ridiculous, trying and colorful course my twenties would take. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realize I’m standing on the otherside of that insanity.

what’s to come

After a successful first month as a writer for Gather.com, I was so excited when they recently told me they’re happy with my work and asked me to help pilot a new Home & Garden program on their site! Yay!

Right now, I write Food/Seasonal stories, and I also write Women’s Lifestyle stuff. I haven’t ever written a ton about home decor, design, or outdoor stuff – there are many more capable home designers out there than I am – but when Gather asked me to help pilot the program, I knew I could certainly give it a whirl. The “keywords” relating to Home & Garden articles hit on a variety of topics, from “apartment design ideas” to “dinner party menu ideas” to “vegetable gardening for beginners,” and all imaginable topics in between. So I’m really excited (and honored) to have the opportunity to learn more about that stuff, try out some ideas myself, and write articles about all of it.

The experience, overall, of writing for Gather these last few months has been a good one. (And no, I am in no way compensated for saying any of this, it’s just my personal opinion and experience.) I am so lucky to have found this gig, because my bank account really needed the extra supplementary income. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but my creative brain really needed the new energy. I have been a writer since I was a kid – something I’ve talked about many times on this blog – and it’s no surprise that I turned to writing this blog to help boost myself up and out of my Corporate Job Rut a year and a half ago. I’m someone who processes things through writing about them.

So having the chance to write for a living is something I’ve always dreamed I’d get to do, something I’ve often (wrongly) doubted I’d ever have a chance to do, and something I’m very grateful to have found. It’s also provided me some mental space and clarity with Fanny & Jane, and an opportunity to let the bakery grow and change at its own pace – which feels more comfortable to me than forcing it to fit into whatever mold or direction I hope it will.

I’m feeling very content lately, but also very antsy. It reminds me of being a little kid – when you want to fast forward your life to find who you will be and how things will look when you’re an adult. I am dreaming of business trips around the country, weeks spent on location shooting something, traveling for research. I’m dreaming of vacations to interesting places – all the photos I’ll take and cuisines I’ll try.

(Speaking of different cuisines, my dear friend Marina just got back from a business trip to South Korea, of all places. She’s literally a celebrity there now, if you can believe it. She starred in a feature film a while back that just opened a film festival over there last month. She had to buy a fancy gown, was flown in to attend press conferences, walk the red carpet, and schmooze with the fans. She took it all in stride and came back with amazing stories to tell. I’m so proud of her – just had to share that.)

The point is, I’m dreaming of what is possible and what’s to come.

In that vein, you’re probably going to see some changes coming soon to follow my bliss. My personal experience will still be the central thread of this site. After all, sharing my story is why I started this blog to begin with, why it’s grown, and it will be a key piece of how it continues. But there’re a lot of other things I’d love to write about and explore too.

I’m not sure exactly what that will mean or how things will end up, but I’ve been having some meetings about where to take this site and where my creative impulses lie, and I’m so excited about what’s possible. That’s all I’ll say for now, so let’s just see what happens!

It’s a gloomy, cloudy, windy Mother’s Day here in NYC. I slept for 13 hours last night, after two days of lotsa work with Harvard Sailing Team (which was, as always, fun, exciting and exhausting), but now I’m feeling sluggish and a little under the weather. So I’m going to take this day to relax, rest, and snuggle in with the cats. And maybe I’ll make some notes and do some daydreaming about what’s to come!

The photos in this post, by the way, are a handful of older, random photos I’ve taken in the last couple years.

(p.s. One more thing – speaking of what’s to come, my web friend Kathleen, has recently made over her blog and I love her new site! Check it out. Yay, Kath!)

i got into a fight at the grocery store

Because I am my grandfather’s granddaughter, I got in a fight with a guy at the grocery store this morning. He looked “normal,” whatever that means. (And I realize it means nothing at all.) But he was saying some really inappropriate stuff about the cashier and the people who own the store. He actually called the checkout woman “trash.” And I couldn’t believe it.

I rarely, if ever, respond to the weirdos, the asses, the jerks. It’s just not worth it. When I first moved here and was young and stupid, and much feistier, I would talk back whenever I felt like I should. But that never works out and you always feel worse afterward.

This morning, however, I lost myself. I just could not believe this man, in his expensive jacket, his cart full of groceries by his side. I could not believe he walks around in a world where calling someone “trash” and saying that she should go back to her “homeland” is a reasonable thing to do. And I guess that’s the thing. The guy was obviously not reasonable.

But I couldn’t help myself. Oof. The adrenaline surged through my body and after a few dirty looks, I finally said, “Shut up, dude.” Naturally, he didn’t like that. So he turned to whomever was within earshot and muttered “You shut up. Bit@h told me to shut up.”

And then I stepped out of my body and the following flew out of my mouth, loudly, in front of a lot of people in line at the store. “YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT. BIT@H TOLD YOU TO SHUT UP. SO SHUT THE F*!K UP.”

Whoa. I was shaking. I do not advocate this behavior. And I will not be telling Kevin this incident occurred (he can find it out here on the blog…) because he doesn’t like when I do stuff like that. Something about not wanting me to be killed or whatever drama. 😉

So I’m posting photos of today’s beautiful spring morning. To wash away the vitriol.

I’m still adjusting to this new schedule I’ve created for myself – part-time bakery work, part-time writing for Gather.com and Examiner.com. There are moments when I want to cry from joy, because if I can make these two gigs work out for myself financially, I will have achieved the loose goal I had when I quit my job: make money doing stuff I love, hopefully baking and writing.

Three cheers! That feels good.

We are in store for a beautiful week of lovely temps, if the weather reports can be believed. I am so looking forward to it. I need outdoor exercise in a major way.

Have a great weekend, everyone. If you’re celebrating Easter, Happy Easter!

this is my desk

I was thinking today, as I was writing at my desk, about the idea that you can tell a lot about a person based on how they keep their desk or work bench.

I guess you can tell a lot about a person based on how they handle almost anything.

Back to desks. Mine’s a little messy. My mom can attest, for much of my childhood my room was the messiest around. Sure, sometimes I tidy up my desk, organize and reorganize everything. And that always feels nice, like any tidying tends to. But it generally looks like this.

I have been sitting at this desk – and around a bunch of other places in the living room that hurt my back such as the couch, and the other couch – for several days in a row now, writing, writing, writing. It’s been a lot of fun because I love to write. My hips hurt, but I’ve been doing some yoga to make up for it. Luckily, it’s been rainy, so I haven’t felt badly about cooping myself up. I don’t think I left the house today.

This a picture Otto, now 5, drew for me while were on the bus a few weeks ago, a few weeks before he turned 5. It’s an orange cat. Underneath, it says “Manrd,” which is supposed to be “Maynard.” Pretty damn good. Maynard was, I believe, a cat his grandma used to have or maybe still has. This hangs on the wall above my desk by a piece of tape.  I told Otto, “One of our cats is orange, my cat Chawser is orange.” He pointed out, “He doesn’t have a green face, though.” True.

This is a cat calendar my mom gave me for Christmas. I love it. I turn the page over every week and find the cat or cats in a new cartoon doing hilarious things. Here is this week’s.

And this is a wacky corner of my desk that currently contains an early Easter card from Grandma, two pairs of sunglasses (one pair is Kevin’s), an empty bottle of expensive vanilla extract that I just had to keep because it cost FIFTY DOLLARS, a frame my friend Sara made for me which holds a picture of my late cat Floyd who died a year ago, and a cat figurine that my mom gave me for Christmas.

Conclusion: I AM A CAT LADY.

Yikes.

the brooklyn bakery examiner

I did not take this adorable photo, nor did I make this adorable cookie. This is the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie from One Girl Cookies, a Brooklyn bakery. And the photo was taken by Kathy YL Chan, and posted on her site, Serious Eats NY, The Dessert Files. (Yum.)

So, speaking of One Girl Cookies, I want to share with you guys my first published article as the Brooklyn Bakery Examiner (!!) over at Examiner.com. My short piece is called “The Story of One Girl Cookies – a Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Bakery.” Click here to read it.

I am so excited to continue to write this column. As you’re all well aware, I love all things sweets. I also love many things Brooklyn. So this is a match. I already have a bazillion ideas in mind for places to write about and explore. I’ll probably even have to revisit some of my favorites from daily dessert. Do you remember the trip I took to Baked in Red Hook, Brooklyn? That was one of the best days of my life.

(July. Coming soon to a city near you.)

Yeaaah, so this isn’t gonna be too bad at all, this new gig. In fact, I can’t think of many other things I’d rather be doing.

p.s. I’ve heard rumors that it’s going to be almost 80 degrees in NYC this weekend. We’re going to the beach, right? (I’m kidding…Am I?)

daily dessert + an overdue update

This melty mess of a cupcake was, without question, the best thing I’ve eaten in the last week. It’s a chocolate peanut butter omg you would die cupcake. My best friend, Daniel, who is also my former roommate from before I moved in with Kevin, went home to Tampa last week to see his family. And he brought back with him what he knows perfectly well is one of my greatest weaknesses, a dessert item from Wright’s in Tampa.

Wright’s is the best sandwich shop ever. Period. And they also make the most amazing cake I’ve ever had in my life. Ever. Period. They just recently started making cupcakes. HOLY COW. This was incredible. And I am forever indebted to Daniel for carrying it all the way back to NYC with him on the plane. He got one for me, one for himself, and one for his current roommate, who didn’t happen to be home when we broke them out to eat them. So Daniel ate his, I ate mine. And then. Like two fat kids hiding in the basement eating twinkies WE ATE THE OTHER ONE. Awful. Awful, awful. I said, “What are you going to tell your roommate?” He said, “I’ll just go get him something from the store.” Ugh. It was worth it, though. Also, we didn’t have a choice. The cupcakes were stronger than we were.

Speaking of cupcakes…

You all remember my dear friend, Elizabeth Blue, don’t you? Well, the above photo was taken by Blue herself. But more importantly, the above cupcakes were MADE by Blue herself. Aren’t they awesome?

Blue is a very captivating young woman with dozens of interests and strengths, including enviable cupcake-making skills. I’m excited to see what she has up her sleeve for this year of her life. She quit her waiting tables job last year, just a couple months before I quit my job. Her gut-decision actually inspired me to get the heck on with my own quit-my-job plan instead of just talking about it. She’s been through a lot of transition in the last few months, but transition is always exciting because out of transition grows your next chapter!

All cupcakes aside, it’s been a busy few days around here. We had a hectic weekend, complete with a friend’s (lovely) wedding and several meetings, a fundraiser show, and lots of odds and ends.

And last week was no different. Here’s one unbelievable thing that happened. My good friend Billy called me up and asked me if I wanted to go with him the very next morning to one of the leading advertising agencies in the country, and – more or less – help them brainstorm for a few hours for one of their current projects. What?! And! They were going to be paying us a significant sum of money for the short time we were asked to lend our brainstorming services. WHAT?!

Of course, so grateful to Billy, I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been collecting any and all odd ways to make money lately – from babysitting, to a couple new writing gigs I’ve got (more on that in a moment), to coaching improv teams – anything that can help make ends meet. So I would have been foolish to have turned this down. Not only because of the money, but also because of the fascinating experience it promised to be. I’ve never been part of a real-life advertising brainstorm session before. It’s a subculture of the world I was very intrigued to learn more about.

So why did they want three comedians, Billy, me, and another comedian friend of ours, to come help them with their campaign? Good question. I asked myself the same question a dozen times that morning. Ultimately, it turns out that the guy who was sort of running the session was a very open-minded person. He clearly spent his time thinking mostly outside the box, and evidently it works for him, because he’s got a big, important job, doing big, important things, making big, important money. And he was wearing a t-shirt. So he probably gets to do what he pleases. Not bad.

Once we arrived, we learned that the gentleman in charge had also asked musicians, graphic designers, sound people, even a famous anthropologist (!) – professionals from all aspects of creating an advertisement, to be part of the brainstorming process. Traditionally, it doesn’t work that way. Traditionally, the actors, musicians, etc. show up after the fact and simply implement the plan that the ad agency has come up with. But this guy wanted everyone to be part of the process from the beginning. Pretty smart, I think. Seems like a solid way to figure out the best possible ad campaign.

It was a fun, weird, wacky morning of my life, but one I will never forget. And my bank account is also eternally grateful.

The only other thing I’m excited to share with you is that I’ve been writing over at Gather.com. Here is my profile. Basically, I’ve been hired as one of their “socialwriters,” which are people who write short articles on the hot topics of the day. I can actually write about anything that interests me, but because we get paid based on how many people view a certain article, so far I’ve only stuck to the stuff that’s popular right now. I definitely plan to branch out and write about more of my personal interests and less about what’s in the news right now, but since I only started writing for them this past Friday, I’m still getting my feet wet. I’ve written articles on everything from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, to Passover Recipes, to the story of Palm Sunday – I’ve even covered some celebrity news stories like Bethenny Frankel’s wedding. So far, I’m having a blast. I’m perfecting my quick writing and editing skills with every article. And I’m making some spending money!

Besides Gather, I was also asked last week to be a writer for a website called the Examiner.com. They’ve asked me to become their “Brooklyn Bakery Examiner,” which is obviously perfect and obviously right up my alley. I haven’t written anything for them yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as my first Brooklyn Bakery article comes out. So exciting!

Perfect timing for both of these gigs, for sure. I am absolutely adoring that I can write and earn money. That’s always been a dream.

Fanny & Jane is chugging along too. We had a fantastic meeting over the weekend with some very trusted friends and advisers and we devised a plan for the next few months of the business. I’m so excited about what’s possible with this little bakery, and I’m so happy with how far we’ve come. It’s a labor of love, for sure, but I wouldn’t change it.

So, that’s the update! Thanks for bearing with me while I try to carve out time in each day to write for Gather and the Examiner, and also to write the stuff I love writing the most which is for y’all on this blog, and also while I still (still) try to balance growing and expanding the bakery with all the rest of it. I hope my posts here won’t be too intermittent, but if they become so for a few days, you’ll know why!

Oh yes, and one more thing. The magnolia tree next door to our house has started to blossom.

Progress! Hope! Spring!

one year

It was surprisingly warm out for December and I felt so incredibly alive as I ran. I thought about my desk job and why I don’t like it, why I feel trapped there, why I undergo such a spiritual shift every Monday morning between 9 and 10 am. As I ran I thought, I don’t care what else I do. I just can’t sit at that desk anymore.

from the first entry of follow my bliss – 1-5-09

Today is my blog’s one-year anniversary! Happy anniversary, blog.

Writing follow my bliss over the last twelve months has been a truly wonderful and life-affirming experience. I love to write and having an outlet to do so, having an opportunity to write something almost every day, has been a blessing.

I have also made great friendships that I would not have made without this blog. My friend Elizabeth Blue comes to mind because she was one of the first people ever to reach out to me about follow my bliss, to tell me that she was inspired by my story and that she was undergoing similar shifts in her own life. She started a blog of her own, we’ve become dear friends, and I am so proud of her for the lovely place she’s at in her life right now.

Writing this blog has allowed me to talk to people around the world who share my experience, who do not feel fulfilled by their jobs. Hundreds of thousands of people google the phrase “I want to quit my job” each day. I’m sure it’s nothing new in the world that people have jobs they don’t like and want jobs they don’t have but, still, we are lucky to be able to reach out to each other to affirm that we aren’t alone.

It’s very easy to walk around a job you hate like a zombie, telling yourself that you have to stay there, that your circumstances are different, that you don’t have a choice. And maybe you don’t. Only you really know that.

But I believe that everyone has some kind of a choice – about their whole lives really. And I say, if you don’t like your job don’t stay there. Make a plan and execute that plan. Start a new career, do something you’ve always dreamed of doing, go back to school, make a change. It’s up to you.

Life is too short.

the first month

Jen 1457

Yesterday, I happened upon an old post of mine, entitled “do what makes you happy (?)“, which I wrote back in May when I was still very much at the desk job. I knew I desperately wanted to leave but I didn’t see when or how I’d be able to make it happen any time in the immediate future. I’d been writing follow my bliss for almost six months.

I remember that particular day quite well, in fact. It was a beautiful day, one of the first very warm and summery ones of the season and I was absolutely beside myself at having to be inside sitting at a desk. Not being able to enjoy amazing-weather days was one of the reasons I had decided, back at the beginning of that year, that I couldn’t work in an office any more. I wanted to be able to enjoy the world and not let my youth pass me by. Maybe it sounded frivolous and childish to some, but yes, I wanted to be out in the sunshine.

I was so frustrated that morning. I’d been good about being positive and hopeful and working toward my goals. I’d felt proud of how I’d stayed focused on making progress and not wallowing in the discontent of my present circumstances, but I woke up that morning just feeling overwhelmed by everything. I wanted to gripe and moan.

I wrote:

It’s rewarding to be working toward the small business venture and other personal goals. But I’m feeling down today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I want to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant. I want to have left this job, be baking and selling sweets, be freelance writing, be taking yoga class every single day. I want an instant lifestyle makeover. I know that’s a lot to ask for.

I had to stop and reread that paragraph two or three times yesterday. I know that I set out to leave my job and do things that made me happier, which is why I’m where I am today. And I know that I started a bakery with a friend so that I could bake and sell sweet treats. But it was still strange – and thrilling – to read what I’d wanted out of my life six months ago, what I’d daydreamed about and felt like I might never achieve.

AND HERE I AM! AHHH!

I have to tell you that it was a personally awesome moment for me when I read that paragraph, took a look around and found myself having finally made my wish into reality. How amazing.

It was akin to remembering the middle of my journey to lose 115 pounds. There were times when it was easy, when the pounds melted off. But there were also times when it was hard as hell. When I wanted french fries, nachos, eleven slices of pizza and every cookie in the box. And I just wished and hoped and prayed that losing all the weight would one day become real. And then, one day, it did. Making progress is so fulfilling.

Another thing that struck me about that particular paragraph was that I’d said I wanted to bake and sell sweets. And I also said that I wanted to be taking yoga class every day. And that I wanted to be writing.

Now, I know those things about myself – that I love to write and take yoga class. But it’s very easy to make excuses for not doing things that I love to do, even now. I’m too busy, the bakery needs my attention, I’m too tired, I have nothing to write about, I don’t need to do yoga every day, I don’t need to do yoga every other day, I’m still finding out who I am and what I want. Going to yoga class costs money, it’s not going to earn me any money. Sitting down to write takes time, it’s not my focus right now.

All those things might be true. But it’s also true that there was a time when my vision for my perfect life included a few simple things. And sure, that vision will always be morphing and changing, but those are such easy things to add into my life! There was a time when I wanted more yoga and more writing, and I still want more of those things. And there’s no reason I can’t have them today. In that sense, it was enlightening to check back in with who I was when this reality was just a dream. And I owe it to the girl who sat at that desk every day for years and years to make sure I’m now really doing the things I set out to do. I am reminded of how much I craved this time back them. I am reminded of how desperately I wanted and needed to have a different lifestyle, and how elated I would have been if I’d actually been able to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant.

I’m still as pleased as ever with my decision to leave my job. It was, I maintain, one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It almost makes me want to cry sometimes to realize how grateful I am that I’ve done this.

But life is life. Good, bad, hard, fun, boring, thrilling, tiring, rewarding and all the rest of it in between. And it can be easy to grow accustomed to the day to day. And there are good days and harder days.

There are days when I’m content and relaxed. When I just want to scoop the whole world up and hug it because I’m so happy and feel so lucky to be alive, to be 29 years old (which remains, one week into it, to be an excellent age, by the way), to be standing at the beginning of the best years of my life, with my fantastic boyfriend, who happens to be my best friend, by my side, living in the best city in the world, building my life to be exactly what I want it to be.

And then there are days when I feel grouchy, moody, frustrated, worried, stressed and when I feel small and incapable. Sometimes I feel like I won’t succeed. Like I will be back in a paycheck job in six months. There are days when I feel completely blah. Human. Normal. Days when I feel nothing. Because you can’t have joy without pain and you can’t have excitement without boredom.

And that’s okay with me. Being blissfully happy all the time was not the goal. The goal was living my life how I wanted to live it. The honeymoon is ending and I’m coming into the phase of this journey where it’s my normal. I left my job almost exactly one month ago. And I can sometimes hardly remember what it was like to go to that office every day. (On second though, if I try for a second I could probably remember it exactly.)

This is my life now – the good, the bad, the indifferent.

I also wrote in that post about the fear that was sometimes crippling to me:

…fear of being broke, fear of leaving a “good” job that allows the people who care about me (myself included) to sleep at night, fear of ending up exactly where I dream of going and discovering that it’s not what I wanted at all, fear of having what I want and learning how hard it really is, fear of missing my desk job, fear of choosing a road less traveled, fear of making the wrong choice, the right choice, the impulsive choice, the overly-planned choice, fear that I’m running away from something or toward the unknown, fear of not having built any kind of real career for myself by now, fear of being judged, fear of being laughed at, fear of being lonely…

And the truth is? All those fears are still here. But they’ve quieted substantially. Because the quickest and easiest way to quiet fear is to do what you’re afraid of. Done and done. If you think there’s a ghost in the closet, open the closet and find out. (That’s a real life example.)

I will still worry and have anxieties about whether or not I will succeed. But the very act of getting up every day and actively living my new lifestyle gives those fears no true voice. And that’s something I want to share with anyone who’s still at the beginning of their journey to follow their bliss:  the fears we have will never go away, but they are completely meaningless. Holding onto the fear and making decisions based on the fear does nothing to bring us closer to our goals and dreams, it only provides something for our tired brains to chew on when we’ve got nothing else to obsess about. And it also gives the fear all the power. If anyone’s holding the power, it should be YOU. You are not your anxieties and worries.

The last paragraph of that old post said:

The beautiful and painful bottom line of the whole self-created saga I’ve laid out here is that I and I alone am the only person who can make these choices and take these actions and nothing anyone says – not my boyfriend or my mother or my boss or my grandfather – is going to create what’s true for me. What’s true for me is what I decide to make true for me.

So I made it true. Here I am. I still don’t have a solid understanding of what will happen, what my life will look like, say, a year from now – when I turn 30, for instance. But if the last month is any indication, it’s going to look pretty great. I’m happy, healthy, active, LIVING MY DREAM, and creating more dreams to work toward. And it’s The Best.

change: good or bad?

Picture 11237

I woke up this morning (late – which is becoming a trend as my body starts to catch wind of the fact that we won’t have to do this for much longer) and even though I only had ten minutes to get ready and get out the door, I remained under the covers while fluffy little Kaia snuggled up against me, demanding her morning cuddles. I stared up at the ceiling and said out loud, “Nine more days.”

YES. I’m glad.

And.

I’m scared.

Now, I spend a lot of time here talking about how excited I am, what a great opportunity this is, what a gift I’ve given myself, how eager I am to make good use of the time afforded to me once I’m no longer working. And I really do feel that way. So please don’t misunderstand. Being scared is only part of what I’m going through. I’m also thrilled. But as the days tick down and the moment grows nearer, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being a bit nervous. Change is always accompanied by uncertainty.

I have stayed at this job as long as I have due largely in part to my health insurance. I wanted to stay on until early October, October 2 to be exact, so that I could keep my insurance until the end of the month. (My boss didn’t feel that staying on until early October was fair. She said that if I wanted the insurance until the end of October, I needed to stay on until at least mid-October. Otherwise she’d be paying for my health insurance without the benefit of having me work here. From her perspective, I get that. I also won’t go into how ridiculous I think it is. I digress…) So, I’m grateful to have my insurance until the end of the month and I’ve been using it for things like annual checkups and any prescriptions I might need. And it dawned on me that I might be able to squeeze in a few sessions with my old therapist too.

So I got in touch with her, checked out the insurance situation, and it turns out that my particular carrier and plan is the only insurance she takes. It seemed destined that I should make an appointment, so I did just that. I’m a bit anxious about it, because I haven’t been in therapy for several years, but only good can come out of chatting with her. I’m going to see her this Wednesday and will hopefully check back in with her a couple times before my insurance is gone at the end of the month. I think it will be great to revisit her for a few sessions as I enter into this major life transition. She knew me “when” and she knows me well. It’s going to be like seeing a long lost friend or a family member you haven’t talked to in years. Except it’s a family member whose personal life you know nothing about, you don’t even know if she has kids, a dog or if she’s allergic to pizza. Even so, I’m looking forward to it. This was a good decision on my part because it will help calm my nerves about this experience.

Another way I’ve allayed my anxiety recently is this: I had a long list of things I wanted to accomplish before my last day at this job. Look into this, call so and so about that, brainstorm about this, write that. It was overwhelming the hell out of me. I’d sit at this receptionist desk everyday completely unable to tackle any of the big ticket items on my list, those things that I originally thought would be great ways to prime myself for my upcoming freedom. But I recently realized that those things I want to look into, write, brainstorm and meet with people about are the things I’ll want to be doing once I leave my job, not while I’m still here. Those are the things I’ll fill my days with, the ways I’ll keep active and sharp, until something more concrete presents itself. So I took them off my list to be revisited later and I can breathe a bit easier now that there’s not much remaining on the list of things to do before my last day besides, “Go to dentist.” Which I probably won’t do anyway. Because I HATE THE EFFING DENTIST. I’d rather drink a milkshake made from glass.

My fears remain, though. And they’re coming from a few places. For one thing, looking around at the state of the world right now makes me wonder if this was the right time to make this move. I stand firm that it was the right time for me personally. And I believe more in that kind of timing than I do in timing based on the global economy, for instance. But when I read things like a blog entry recently posted by my friend Marina about her painstaking search for a part-time job, I get a little nervous. Granted, Marina and I are at different places in our lives, looking for different things, and to compare my situation to hers is not a good use of my mental energy. But it’s hard to read about her woes and not anticipate some of my own as I feel empathy for her.

Another place my fear comes from is my recent understanding of how impulsive and ultimately half-invested I can often be. I will dream up a new project, aggressively tackle it for X period of time, and then become bored, lose interest and neglect it. This is a trait I share with my good friend Blue, who often talks and writes about how difficult it can be for her to really commit to a project and see it through to the end without bouncing around to other things first. From the outside, a trait like this might seem like laziness or immaturity but I can tell you from standing inside it that it most certainly has nothing to do with that.

The inability to commit, or perhaps, conversely, the ability to dip your toes into several different streams, and to maybe even swim a few strokes down those streams before realizing that this might not be the ideal stream, has so much more to do with craving something that’s a great fit for your personality than it does with being lazy. It has more to do with the desire to find something that’s truly exciting to you, to spend your time in a way that’s truly fulfilling to you, and not to let yourself off the hook about seeking out the lifestyle you dream of having. So I suppose I can choose to view my bouncing around as a positive trait, one that will aid me and has aided me on this journey. I definitely want to impart to other people that there’s nothing wrong with trying dozens of lifestyles on for size until you find one that fits. How are you supposed to know what’s right for you without trying it on first? And anyone who judges you for changing your mind can go climb a tree.

But it can be a little embarrassing and humbling to put it all out there like I’m doing with this blog. I try not to shout from the rooftops about any of my new big “plans” unless and until they’re a bit more realized, but the bottom line is that I’m going to start projects that I don’t finish. I’m going to come up with career changes that I don’t end up implementing. And I’m going to share it with all of you. When I began writing about this process, it was never meant to be pretty or neat or tied up with a bow. Finding out who you are and what you want to be when you grow up comes easily to some people, but there isn’t such a simple answer for others. There’s nothing wrong with trying on different hats along the way. And I’m glad I’ve been able to bravely share with you all the different aspects, as messy as they sometimes are, of choosing to find your bliss. I’ll wear the messiness as a badge of courage, I suppose.

Still, when every other day is met with my new “brilliant” plan or a new big idea, I grow a little fearful that I’m going to be this way forever – that I will never decide on a path and invest fully in its realization, that I will be 50 years old and still trying on different hats. Maybe that’s okay, who’s to say. But I worry about it.

Again, that is fear. And I need to follow that fear and see where I come out. And I need to quiet that fear and trust that I am a capable human being. And I need to remind myself that I’m so young and have so many years to figure this all out. And I need to stop worrying what other people think of the process, or comparing my process to theirs.

Do I want to write full-time? Do I want to write a book? Could I sell a book? Do I want to write a website? Do I really want to be a baker? Do I want to work with others, or alone? Do I like exercise and nutrition enough to make a career out of it? Is my yoga practice just a phase? What other projects are just my passing fancy? Should I be working to make my performance stuff more than just a hobby? Do I care enough? What do I have to offer the world? Isn’t somebody, or a hundred somebodies, already offering the world anything and everything I could possibly offer? Have I made a bunch of terrible mistakes that I can never undo? Shouldn’t I be trying to help people, above all else?

And.

Will I be happy once I’m no longer working at this office? What if this office hasn’t been a source of my unhappiness, but just a convenient place to put the blame? What if I’m more confused, conflicted and unhappy when I’m not working here? What if I don’t find fulfillment in cooking, exercising and spending time with my friends? What if I can’t even get a meal on the table? What if I never write another intelligent thing? What if I’m bored as hell? What if my relationship crumbles? What if I go broke? What if I end up depressed and unmotivated and camped out on my couch watching Cold Case Files and eating luke warm soup all day long?

Fear. It’s so much easier (and less courageous) to dwell in the scary unknown than it is to believe the beautiful possibilities.

And I haven’t got a neat bow with which to tie this all up, either.

Yikes.