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When I originally conceived of this post I thought about these people. It’s an article that was done by Atlantic magazine nearly three years ago in which they share letters from the unemployed. Their words are heartbreaking, raw, and honest.

I remember reading it the first time around, and feeling so helpless in the wake of so much hurt. It wasn’t that long after I’d spent nearly a year struggling to find work. And I’ve dipped in and out of that place over the years.

That’s how I know that the impact from the economic fallout is still lasting in so many ways. Back then the pain was still novel. Now, it has become such a common refrain of our society that we take it as fact.

And one of  the issues that strike me the most, is that the economic fallout left so many people who feel as if they are not living up to their potential due to lack of opportunity, or a fear that what they have is the best they can get.  Dreams have been frozen in place, careers stunted. People are somewhat stuck, but not quite sure what to do to move on.

So, what do you do?

What do you do when it’s years later and you still feel that you’re not “back on track?” What do you do when you’re still clinging on to that job that NEVER served you, but you’ve been too afraid to let it go? I have three ideas/thoughts. I share these because I hate the idea of clamoring to gain footing in a situation in which you don’t have much control. We can’t control the economy, or the types of employment opportunities out there. But you can control what you do with some of your time, and how you can use it to develop something new for yourself.

*drum roll*

Make A (Mind) Shift

I believe one of the hardest things facing our generation is the disconnect between who we thought (and who we were taught) we would be, and the reality that the old formula of checking off steps on a pre-destined list to success (get good grades, get good job) is no longer  fail-proof. We’re a generation that is caught between seeing remnants of the past, and glimpses of an uncertain future. It’s scary, but it has the potential to be exciting. Ask yourself, how can your dream be accomplished in a different way? Does it mean that you look for companies outside of the ones you originally wanted to target? Do you create your own venture? Do you get some experience in a totally different field to supplement your idea for where you want your career to eventually go? Freeing yourself of the idea that your story should follow some imaginary path will allow you to start to see beyond your immediate pain and discomfort. I know it’s hard because the opportunity to compare yourself to everyone else’s curated life is always looming, but try focusing on you.

Next, Be Okay With Baby Steps

When you’re stuck in a job that you hate, or stuck looking to have a job that you would delight in hating, it can be really hard to see yourself beyond where you are right now. The day-to-day fight for survival is frustrating, and energy draining. But, even though I’m sure you wish you could snap your fingers and make this situation miraculously disappear, the truth is, sometimes it takes awhile to make a change, and a lot of baby steps in the right direction. The exciting thing is that those baby steps are up to you, and there are so many avenues to experiment and question that didn’t exist even 10 years ago. You can reach out to anyone you find interesting, do volunteer work for places in person and virtually, and literally learn about anything that you can think of. If you can spare the energy to try new things, and experiment with trying out your passions in different ways, go for it. You never know where it can lead.

Shake Some Shit Up

If you’ve ever wanted to start your own *insert your awesome idea here* now is the time. The opportunities we have today are damn near unreal. Entire industries are crumbling and being built up again to look totally different, because technology has shifted the power to create and share into the hands of the people. If you’re feeling entrepreneurial, research your idea, see what else is out there like it. Figure out the steps to bring it to life. Start and end your day with your ideas, and keep some kind of reminder on you, that where you are now is temporary place because you have somewhere else to be! If you aren’t entrepreneurial, but enjoy the idea of shaking some shit up anyways, look for opportunities to get involved with new ideas, new ventures, and people who want to be disruptive in some way. Notice I say “opportunites to get involved” not “jobs”. Big difference. I know that finding a new gig isn’t that easy right now, but find an opportunity to dip your toe in the waters of something new is.

Talk To Me

Are there any ideas you would add to the list? If you’ve ever been in a job/career situation that didn’t give you life, what did you do to keep your spirits up? Let me know below!

 

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Did you catch this commercial during the Sochi Olympics?

 

It’s an ad for the new electric Cadillac, and it’s worth watching if only because it managed to squeeze in every materialistic norm we are brainwashed to believe we should strive for into a mere 72 seconds.

Suburban Mc Mansion? Check
Gorgeous spouse with some cute kids? Check
Fab pool in the backyard? Check
The xenophobic “America is the best!” attitude? Check

Now, I’m no stranger to the magic of advertising fuckery. As a former magazine editor, it kind of paid my bills for years, but this commercial struck me on a deeper level.

The Caddy commercial reminded me of what a battle it is to define your life and your choices on your own terms because everywhere we turn there is the sweet seduction to just slip on an identity that is conveniently handed to us.

I’m in my late, late twenties now, and more settled into my college life, and I recognize that I am at the definitive fork in the road.

The inevitable question has a refrain that has become louder, and impossible for me to ignore : “Do you fall in line and become another link in the chain of society, or do you deviate, identify yourself as a rule breaker, and go your own way?”

At what point do people just accept that “this is the way things are?”

My fear throughout my twenties has been of that moment where it becomes easier to slip into jadeness and just chalk it up to “growing up” and “being responsible” instead of using terms like “settling” and “selling out” that were a heck of a lot easier to toss around in at an earlier time in my life.

In the nearly four years that I’ve been writing this blog, it was only recently that is struck me that my overarching theme is bravery. I write about the bravery it takes to set out on a path of defining happiness and success on your own terms.

Bravery.

Because it does take a certain amount of bravery to decide to go left when everyone else is going right. Or to do what so many people don’t do, and make a change because the deeper battle to define life on your own terms really does come from within.

Tell me, have you hit your fork in the road? Do you find it harder to pursue creating your definition of happiness and success as you age?

 

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Today is the first day of the last year of my twenties.

I woke up with this feeling that I can really only describe as “grown woman sexy gangsta.

So, in honor of my birthday, allow me to indulge in dispensing a little “29 year-old” wisdom that I woke up with this morning.

I expound in depth on a few of these gems of wisdom, and others I just give you the main point. But I promise I was only drinking peppermint tea when I wrote this.

*Coughs*

That said, let’s dig in:

Eat Cupcakes And Be Merry

Last night, in honor of my bday, my roomie baked strawberry cupcakes with champagne buttercream icing. I grabbed one when I came home, and these things are amazing! And when I texted him this morning to tell him how good they are, he told me “It’s your birthday, eat as many as you want!”

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The breakfast of champions.

Now, this time last year, I was damn near starving. I wanted to look good in my birthday dress, and with my random stomach issues, the risk of bloating was real. So I ate super light, worked it out in that dress, and damn near fainted from hunger at the end of the night.

Not this year. This year, when my mind said, “Eat the cake, Amber J!” I complied.

Several times.

So yes, I might end up with a little gut in my dress tonight, but fuck it. Life is short, live in the present moment. Eat the cake and be merry.

Fuck The Lists.

The 29th year has caused many a breakdown. With 30 looming in the (near) distance, there is this pressure to start reflecting on life. And those reflections usually end up being broken down bullet point style into a listicle in your mind.

Eh, eff all that.

Are there some things I’ve accomplished that I’m proud of? Yep. Are there some things I wish I had done differently? Of course. But I think being a grown wo(man) means choosing not to DWELL on those things. Linger too long on the accomplishments and you lose sight of the future. Linger too long on the regrets, and you forget the present. Only one of the three states is truly a gift. Go with that one.

Stop Being “Nice” When You Don’t Want To Be

This one in particular is for all of my ladies who have been groomed to be “nice girls” and live under some type of strict “nice girl” laws that could rival those found in the most oppressing of countries.

You don’t have to be nice a.k.a. accommodating to everyone and everything. You don’t have to pretend that certain situations make you feel some kind of way. You can acknowledge your emotions, and ride the middle road between “nice girl” and “ defensive bitch”. It’s a struggle, but honor who you are, and how you feel in those moments that test your gangsta.

Wear Your Special Panties (Often)

Guys, I don’t know if you have a special pair of boxers that makes you feel all that, but ladies we all know that we have a few pair of “special” undies that we have on reserve for a special occasion. But why? Pop those tags girls, and rock your best every day.

Cherish Those Who Cherish You

Don’t waste your time chasing down people, who can’t be bothered to stop for you, or go out of their way for you. This applies to significant others (who don’t make you feel significant), and so-called friends. At some point you have to realize that energy is an exchange. It may ebb and flow, but it should always get reflected back to you. If you put out the energy, and you aren’t getting anything back, then let it go.

Enjoy What You Have

I’m not so sure about the rest of the world, but in New York, it seems we are always striving to have more, more, more, options of everything. But it is rare to see people getting comfortable and cozy with what they have. Instead of trying to make new friends, dive deeper with the ones you have. Instead of trying to add more people to your network, build the relationships with the people you already know. Your network will grow organically, trust me. It’s lovely to meet new people, and make new connections, but don’t do so at the expense of deepening the relationships you already have.

 Do Shit You Love

There will always be things you “need” “should” and “could” do. Always. But stop to do the things that really get you going. And make no apologies for it.

 

And that’s where I’ll stop too. I’m off to paint my nails and watch Downton Abbey.

Peace!

 

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Now that Valentine’s Day has passed, and I’ve recovered from my self-induced chocolate hangover, I feel free to share this idea.

Because who wants to hear my (amazing!) organization idea that was inspired by my breakup on a day that’s supposed to be all about love?

Okay, I would have posted it anyway, but in the last two years, I’ve felt like a total V-Day downer. There was always this dude lingering in the background, threatening to either make or break my day, and although I managed to wax poetic about it here and here, I wasn’t really in the mood to write the typical, “Hey, I’m a happy single woman!” post this year.

Instead, I wanted to share an idea for keeping all of your fabulous ideas in one spot. Free from the millions of notebooks that you probably have with ideas scrawled all over the place, that you will never see again.

That is, if you are anything like me *cough*.

Me and the fellow tried, it didn’t work out, and I was left holding a bag of art materials for a surprise gift I planned on making him.

The plan was to make him a memory box of sorts. I got little colored sheets of paper from the Dollar Store, a glass, frosted jar, and a pack of those multi-colored sticker stars that they give out in kindergarten for a job “well done!” to seal the notes closed.

The plan was to write down all of good memories on these little colored sheets. So, that whenever he had one of those moments when he was fixating on the bad, he could instead remember the good.

I thought it was a dope ass idea.

I only got a chance to write down two memories, before he confirmed that my romantic overtures would have to be saved for a future amor. I put the jar away for a use, that I saw as being way, way, down the line. The memories are still tucked in my heart, no stickers needed, as it seems they are permanently a part of my being.

Well, Ya’ll, The Jar is Back!

Not for another boo (still working on that!) but for myself. A mini celebration of the things that make me smile when I need it. Positive affirmations, people, positive affirmations!

But I found that by adding some manila folders to the mix, I had a nifty organization trick on my hands that is perfect for people who claim they like to organize things, but still find stuff to be kinda all over the place.

I’m using the colored sheets of paper to capture all of those stray business and blog ideas I have when I’m inspired by something, but don’t want to take the chance on losing them in my mountains of notebooks.

I labeled three folders: “My Biz Ideas” “Blog Post Ideas” and “Ideas to Hang On To”

I write down an idea on a colored sheet of paper, and I label it on the back according to what biz venture it’s for, date it, and toss it into the corresponding folder.

No more lost ideas!

No more overwhelming thoughts!

Instant freedom!

And my brain is instantly free to think about something else…like what to eat, what to wear, ya know, those ever important things.

Inspired to try this out?

Here’s what you need:

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Pad of multi-colored single sheets, manila folders, and sharpies. No significant other needed.

Super cheap, easy, and fun.

Want To Up The Ante?

Color code your ideas, paperclip some together to make categories, write the initials in big lettering on the back to remember which of the categories they go into. Get funky with it.

And if you feel inspired to make your boo a memory jar, go for that too :)

Have I just revolutionized your thought process? I’d love to hear about it below!

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It’s the last day of the year, and my Facebook timeline is filled with the typical “New Year’s Eve” esq posts about goal setting, gratitude, and well wishes.

I’m going to propose something radical for you to do while you are setting your goals for 2014…ask yourself: “What made me jealous this year?”

We’ve all felt jealous of someone or something at some point, but most of the chatter we see around jealously is about helping people figure out how to bury their jealous feelings, and feel appreciative for all that they have.

I’m a total believer in the practice of being in touch with all of the good in your life, but I also think we should shift our perspective on jealousy. Instead of looking at it as a feeling that should be ignored, or glossed over, why don’t we try getting under the hood of what makes us feel that way?

What would happen if you embraced the moments when you have those jealous feelings,  examine it, and figure out exactly what is is in particular that is bothering you so much?

Instead of running from jealousy, and trying to pretend that it never happens to us, revel in it.
(more…)

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