Friday, December 30, 2016

When It Feels Like The World Is Out To Get You

"They" say that God doesn't throw things at you that you can't handle.  A) I don't know who "they" are, but they are off their rocker.  B) why the hell would God (or whomever) wants to push you to your tipping point?  Their sick game of a joke?  Probably.  C) More times than not, when beat so far down that the only way to go is up, it feels like it is too difficult and hopeless as once you are back up, the world is going to push you back down again.

And to that, I say fuck off world.

It is quite hard to go through a day, a week, a lifetime, where it always feels like the world is against you.  Or trying to stop you from doing things.  In the book "The Dance of Fear", Harriet Lerner poses that the universe sends countermoves, saying "you are making a bold and courageous change and here is my countermove, you need to prove your commitment to making this change" (page 88).  Again, I say fuck you universe.  Why do I need to prove my commitment?   I remember when I was moving to Washington DC for my masters.  I was so excited - I was finally doing something that I wanted with my schooling, I was getting out of Calgary, I was doing something fun and exciting and adventurous with my life.  Well the day I was supposed to be moving out of my Calgary home, my grandma passed away (whom I had lived with while going to college).  So trying to get my movers organized and travel preparations ready to head to the funeral, I felt sad.  I didn't attribute it to my moving. Yet.  And thankfully I had time before flying out to Washington so I didn't have to change those flights.  Yet.   Then shortly after my grandma passed away, my aunt (whom I had lived with while going to college) passed away.  And I had to move my flights around to stick around for that funeral.  It was when I was on my flight to Washington that I felt like I was being punished for leaving, for doing something with my life.  In a way, a very selfish thought but I just felt that the world was getting their revenge for me finally being happy.

When I got my concussion (for those who don't know, I have a concussion - they suck, don't ever get one), I wanted to give up on a daily basis.  I was battling my brain from exploding, or bleeding out, or jamming something in my head to give it a tangible pain.  And, oh, the emotions, the emotions that come with it - crying and irritability.  For about 2 weeks, at the end of the day, I would lay on my bed and cry, which wouldn't help the head at all.  I just felt so lost and beaten and broken and wasted.  And empty - like nothing else was left inside of me.  I had no energy to attempt to have a functioning life.  I wanted the world to just stop.  And it was so difficult to get through each day with the physical pain in my head and the mental and emotional pain I was going through.   I was trying to figure out what I had done in a past life that made the world hate me as much as it did.  And the pain I felt inside of me, everywhere inside of me, was not fun.  Every day I would wake up and wish I didn't wake up.  I felt nothing except hurt and pain.  And I kept thinking that there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel, but I have yet to find it.

I am a romantic person.  I will admit it.  I have thoughts of meeting my true love in Chapters or at the Zoo or at a coffee place.  I do believe in Happily Ever After and those hallmark moments that make other people want to vomit.  I believe in the love that my brother has and I have seen it, so I know it exists.  Maybe just not for me.  I know I have issues.  I know that I am not the prettiest person, the skinniest person.  But I am me.  I have a fantastic personality and my experiences and adventures are a wonderful thing to have.  But no guy.  I have tried, don't get me wrong.  And this is another place the world decides to screw with me.  I will meet a guy.  We will have a fantastic time together.  And then nothing.  I know there are douches and assholes out there, but I seem to have a magnet for them. Especially when things look to be going so well and we have the same interests and humor and whatnot.  And then he falls off the face of the earth.  And I end up feeling insanely crappy and depressed about myself.  Why would the world allow me to meet that person if they weren't going to stick around?  I just don't get it.  Again, I say Fuck You World.

So what is there to do?  Bow the head and give up? Live each day, wondering what is going to happen the next day?  It is a crappy way to live.  So maybe this is also a goal for 2017 - to not let the world win.  To give it the finger, to crank up the music and do a dance, to escape to the Zoo, the mountains, to the bookstore when the world is crashing down around me.  And think that as long as I am breathing, tomorrow is a fresh day.  And keep hoping that maybe one day, just one day, it will be better.

Moral of this blog:  F*#k it and don't let the world win.  Do whatever it takes to overpower the crapiness and go to bed, thinking the next day is a brand new day that hasn't been shitted on yet.  

(Lerner, Harriet. The Dance of Fear. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2004)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

When Sadness Scares People

I am a sad person.  I will admit it. I have more sad days than good and usually when I am happy, I have an underlying feeling of melancholy because I am usually waiting for that sadness to creep up.  I don't know if it is because I have accepted (and possibly embraced) my sadness or if it is because I realize it is one of our primary emotions and thus it is not a bad thing.  I don't know.  I am not one of those overly optimistic people - I tend to expect and think the worst.  My glass isn't usually half empty or half full, it is shattered with liquid leaking out.  Do I like being sad? Not particularly.  Do I choose to be sad? Not all the time.  Would life be better if I was happier?  Probably.  But I think sadness actually helps people and can be a positive thing.  Crazy sounding, right?! 

Whatever happens in our life, our emotions are there.  Unless you are apathetic.  And that would be a crappy way of living.  Shit happens and we have feelings about it.  Sometimes happy things happen.  Sometimes sad things happen.  Sometimes frustrating things happen.  And I have learned through my many years, that it is best to feel those feelings when it happens and not suppress them.   One has to acknowledge those feelings and work through them. Suppressing them sucks.  For a long time, I thought it was better to not show any sort of emotion other than happy.  If I was feeling sad, I had to portray happiness.  If I was feeling angry, I had to portray happiness.  If I was anxious, I had to portray happiness.  Sometimes, I still feel like I have to do that as people just don't want to see anything but happiness.  They don't want to hear anything except happiness.  And always, constantly, having to be an emotion you are not is taxing.  It wears a person down, physically and mentally and emotionally.  It makes it tiring to live life.  And nobody should have to go through life like that. 

Sadness is on a spectrum.  You have those sad moments when your tea place is out of your favorite tea.  Or you have those sad moments when you go into hysterical laughter.  Or you have those sad moments when you want to crawl into bed and never, ever, get out.  I have experienced all those moments.  And more.  But, as Timothy Q. Mouse has said "the very things that hold you down are going to lift you up".  Maybe when my tea place is out of my favorite tea, it makes me choose a different one and that one will be fantastic.  Or maybe the hysterical sadness-laughter will make other people smile a little in your craziness in their time of sadness.  I believe that sadness allows us to see the happiness that is out there.  It is the old adage in that you can't know one thing without knowing its opposite. And if that isn't an old adage, then maybe it should be a new adage.  I don't even know if that is an adage.  

However, people panic at sadness.  Also when people don't expect it.  But we are human.  Emotions are a part of us.  It *should* be hard for most people to distance themselves from their emotions in any given situation.  Why is it okay for a person to cry at a funeral because they are sad but not at work when they are going through that sadness?  Why is it okay for a person to feel frustrated at friends but not feel frustrated with co-workers?  It seems like society and/or people have put limitations on when and where people can feel emotions.  If that emotion is out of the boundary of what is acceptable, people panic.  

For example, I just went to a funeral.  It was heartbreaking.  Now, I can normally handle myself during funerals.  Shed some tears.  Keep some decorum.  Maintain composure.  But this funeral, I had difficulty doing that.  Some people apparently thought that I had a complete breakdown.  They panicked at my portrayal of sadness.  But my sadness was just different than their sadness.  And when it comes to death, and grieving and sadness, everyone is different.  Some people cope a hell of a lot better than others.  Nobody knows what is going on with that person or what is making them feel what they are feeling.  And I don't think it is in anybody's place to judge how a person grieves. Or how their sadness is portrayed.  

I know some people who almost refuse to be sad.  They look for the happiness, the silver lining in everything.  Everything.  It gets exhausting sometimes because when I want to, or need to, acknowledge some unhappiness, they basically turn away from it and try to say why I shouldn't be unhappy.  BE UNHAPPY PEOPLE!!!!!!  It is completely fine.  Just don't let it turn maladaptive or harmful to yourself.  There is a fine line and most people, most, know where that line is.  Me, not sure if I know that line.  But others, way more competent people, they know that line.  And you need to take the unhappiness with the happiness.  You need to know what pains feels like to appreciate the pleasure.  Sadness/unhappiness - it strengths a person.  I would hope.  It is usually when you are at the bottom of your life that you realize what you have above you and what you appreciate.  

Moral of this blog:  F*#k it and let yourself feel sad.  Let others be sad.  Don't judge.  Don't be afraid of sadness.  Embrace and be in awe of the people who are strong enough to feel sadness and express it because they are amazing people who don't fear emotions.   

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

We Live In A Society Where You Have To Fake It Till You Make It

This posting is going to be going off in all different directions but will have a common theme - fake it till you make you.  Because that is what we have to do to survive in this world.  

I went back to DC for a conference for work, which was amazing.  Cause a) it was in DC and b) because I got to learn more about what I am actually supposed to be doing.  But this blog isn't about that.  It got prompted when I was flying back.  For some reason, and I am not complaining, I got seated in the "plus" seats (which is like the first class section).  I never get those seats as usually you have to pay more for them.  Which I didn't.  I thought at first it was a mix-up and when I got my actual boarding pass, it would have a different seat, but it didn't.  So when I boarded the plane, and I got to do that first as I was classified as an important person, I sat down. And waited.  I waited for one of the flight attendants to come up to me and say 'ma'am, there was an error in the system and you don't belong in this seat'.  But they didn't.  And so the whole flight, I was trying to make it look like I belonged there.  Like I wasn't shocked/happy/elated that I got to eat actual food on the flight. Or I could order beer without having to pay for it.  Or get snacks.  Whatever.  I didn't abuse the situation (I got my food, ordered a beer but didn't get anything else) and maybe that could have tipped them off that I didn't belong there.  I don't know.  But I made it the whole flight without someone telling me I didn't belong.  I faked it till I made it there.  

Most jobs, from the start, you have to fake it.  You have to pretend like you know exactly what you are doing and learn as you go.  In the jail, that is what happened.  Our first day, we got PREA training and hostage training and then the second day, our supervisor gave us our caseload and told us to go do therapy.  The first client I saw, the first session, I was nervous as fuck.  But I couldn't show that, especially in a jail.  I walked in like I knew exactly what I was doing, like I was exactly where I was supposed to be and it all worked out.  Every time I went and saw a client, most times than not, I was shooting from the hip.  And nobody died.  That is my usual threshold.  If nobody died, then you did a fantastic job.  Eventually I didn't have to fake it anymore.  When I walked into a housing unit, I knew exactly what I should do or how to act.  When I was meeting with a client, I knew how to interact or what to say to help out.  But it took some weeks, perhaps even some months, to get to that point.  And a lot of anxiety in fear that my cover would be blown.  

Working in Nebraska, whew, a lot of faking it there.  My first day I went and talked with a new admission and had no clue what I was supposed to say or do or how to act.  What if I said something that would cause this person to flip out?  Or ask the wrong question?  Or portray my employer in a bad light?  And the first time I held the supervisor phone.  Or was administrator on call.  Or did therapy.  Whatever.  It was a lot of shooting from the hip.  And eventually, I told myself to fuck it, and do or say whatever I think will work at the time.  At the end of my day/shift, if nobody died or supervision wasn't lapsed, then it was a successful day.  And that soon became my mantra - if nobody dies, you did a good job.  Kind of pathetic when that is the measuring point, right?! 

At my current job, I still feel like I have to fake it.  I have never done intellectual property so I am learning everything as I go.  Some people look at me like I should know everything and again, I shoot from the hip, or tell them that I will figure it out and then go hunting for procedures and process on how to do things.  And when I actually get something right, or know something that I shouldn't really know, I am excited/elated/astonished at myself, but nobody else is because they already think that I know that.  It kind of takes the funness out of proving to yourself that you are smarter than you think when people already think you are smarter than you are.   

Volleyball does this as well.  Normally, when you start a new team, or play the first game to see if you are a fit, your game has to be spot on for them to like you and want to keep you.  And being a setter, that is a lot of pressure on a person.  Faking it at volleyball is quite difficult - either you can set or you can't.  You can hit or you suck.  Whatever.  But you gotta fake the confidence that you can play with that team and play at that level.  Some nights, I will tell myself that I will have the best setting night and when I have a bad set, or some bad plays, it takes every ounce of my being to not let it get to me because then I will have no confidence.  

No matter what though, confidence makes it seem like you know exactly what you are doing.  Even when your insides are all jumbled and topsy-turvy and you feel like you are going to puke, as long as you show confidence and that you know what you are doing, people will believe you.  Nobody wants to know what is happening on the inside - it is all about how you are portraying things.  Pathetic, isn't it? 

Meeting people can also require faking it.  In more ways than one.  There is a saying 'you can hide the crazy'.  Fake the sanity (if you are in that boat).  I am a hermit.  I am shy.  I am crazy introverted.  I have a people limit for the week.  And when I am talking with someone, I need to fake it, fake being a sociable human.  In the past, when trying to meet a guy, and they ask me what I do for hobbies, when all my hobbies are single-person geared, it may raise some flags.  One guy actually said "why don't you have more friends?" That is a very difficult question to answer as my truthful answer would be "people make me tired and grumpy.  For the most part, I dislike people".  Not the best answer when trying to find a relationship.  Most people don't want to be with a person who doesn't like people.  

Also, when a person, such as myself, has mental issues, you need to fake that as well.  Which can then in turn cause more problems later on.  The more you have to fake being happy, the more you have to fake being around people, the more it takes a toll on a person.  It becomes mentally exhausting.  But that is the world we live in.  If we are around people, you need to have a smile on your face because that is what people expect.  God forbid you look unhappy - that can't happen.  Fake happiness no matter what is happening.  Whether you are in a relationship, or with family or friends or at work.  You must portray happiness at all times.  But people don't understand the ramifications that can have on a person.  But this will come up in a different posting (stay tuned).  

But there is a point in time where you have to draw the line.  When faking it becomes so disgusting you just can't do it anymore.  And you know what - it is a liberating feeling.  However, you have to have people who understand the person behind the fakeness.  And I am lucky that I do.  I have friends who understand when I am peopled out.  I have family members who understand that being in a big group for a long time mentally and physically exhausts me.  I don't feel the need to fake as many things anymore.  But it look a long time getting here.  It took many, many times telling myself to fuck it and not care what people think of me. Because guess what - they may not be in my life forever.  So why bother impressing people who are transient in the grand scheme of things?  If you show your authentic you to the people that matter, then you are living a wonderful life.  I now tell people when I don't know something.  I don't feel the need to dress up in clothes that aren't me.  I will go into meetings and look confused or ask questions instead of sitting there, acting like I know *exactly* what is going on.  The older I get, the more authentic of a life I want to lead.  And it feels wonderful.  

Moral of this blog:  f*#k it and stop being fake.  Be you.  Be unprofessional.  Be stupid.  Be crazy.  Be sad.  Have a bad day.  Let the world see you for you.  Be everything except not you.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

It's Not That I Am Afraid of Commitment, It is More Like I Am More Concerned For My Happiness

I have heard from a couple of people that I have commitment issues.  And I wouldn't necessarily disagree with them.  But the way I see it, 

Now granted I haven't done extensive travelling around the world or anything like that.  Not like my sister.  But I keep having this uneasy feeling that I haven't settled where I should just yet and am waiting for the next opportunity to pack up and head elsewhere.  I am pretty sure, hopefully, that once I do find that stopping point, it will feel right to make some roots.  But at the moment, I am far from that feeling.  I mean, I still have most of my stuff in boxes; I refuse to unpack just in case I move away somewhere.  

A couple weeks/months ago, we had our service awards at work (as previously mentioned in a past post).  And it got me to thinking about what speech my lawyer would give to me as the trend is to speak of the journey that employee went on to get to where they are now.  So, *clears throat* this is how I envision my speech to go:

Ashley started in law a long time ago, back in 2002, when she couldn't decide what she wanted to do and decided on law because of Ally McBeal.  Her first of many wrong decisions she would make in her life.  Originally, her and her boyfriend were to move to Calgary and she got her practicum placement at Law Firm 1 (I am not going to mention all the names of the firms since I have left most of them due to them being really crappy places to work), but, like most things she does in her life, Ashley decided at the last moment that moving to Calgary wasn't in the best interests and quickly, hurridly and panickly, found a placement in Red Deer.  She went to work and sooner than she realized, she hated it.  However, she got hired on and felt proud as maybe she finally found her career.  But that was a very short lived feeling.  After a couple of months of being hired on, she was let go as work was slow.  After that, she had some career crises which lead her to applying at Red Deer College in their kinesiology program, which she got accepted into, but decided that she was going to keep pursuing her legal assistant career, for some, strange, stupid reason.  Following that, she found a job in Sylvan Lake as a receptionist as she decided that being a legal assistant wasn't for her.  After some time being a receptionist, a legal assistant position opened up with a lawyer she had respect for, so she took it.  Being his legal assistant was wonderful as she was actually doing work on the file.  However, the law firm itself was full of politics and corruption so she decided to leave.  She quickly found another job in Red Deer and within a couple of months at that job, she found a job at a different law firm in Red Deer. After a couple of months at that law firm, her and her boyfriend decided to move to Calgary.  Once she arrived in Calgary, she found a job at a law firm and started working there.  And realized, once again, how much she hated being a legal assistant.  So, after quitting that job, she became a temporary assistant with a placement agency and this seemed to appease her.  After a short while, she decided she wanted something more permanent and found a job at a law firm.  Again, she found something she enjoyed doing but she didn't see eye-to-eye with management and subsequently quit.  It was at this time she decided that she was going to go back to school for psychology.  When she returned to Calgary after finishing her two years at a college for university transfer, she found a law firm job to work at during the summers and holidays and stuck around after she had graduated from University of Calgary with her psychology degree.  However, she soon decided that she wanted to move on to get her masters and quit her job.  Without thinking.  As she realized that getting into a masters program would take time, she found another law firm job to bide her time getting into a masters program.  Once she was accepted into a masters program, she quit her job and moved away.  She lived in the United States off and on for the past three years until the country deported her, and now she is back with us.  And we are happy she is with us.  And the pool is up to $1,000 to see how long she lasts this time"
Now maybe it won't be word for word, but you get the gist.  

Is that a lot of moving around? Yes.  Does it look good on a resume? Absolutely not.  Did I learn something from each place I worked at? Hell yes.  From the first law firm, I learned I didn't like working in law firms.  From the second law firm, I learned I didn't like working in places that politics runs the show.  Etc etc.  Each place, each time I moved on, I took a lesson from that place and figured out how to apply it in my life.  I don't regret all my choices in moving and changing jobs.  Because if I stuck it out in places I dislike because I need to "commit", I would have never experienced everything I have done.  If I listened to family and friends when they said "this is what you choose, you have to make the most of it" I would never gone to get my masters and worked in a jail and found something I was passionate about.   I believe that I will not fear commitment once I find that *thing* that will keep me grounded.  As that groundedness will lead to happiness.  Which is what I am constantly seeking.  

And that *thing* could be anything.  It could be a job.  A place.  A person.  A hobby.  Who knows.  I don't look at just one thing in my life, I look at everything.  I was with my ex for 6 years.  Now that is commitment.  Especially being unhappy for, oh, lets say, 4 of those years.  Seriously, if that isn't commitment, what is?  Well, actually, that is stupidity.  But, back then, I told myself that since that is the path I choose, I had to make the most of it. And the day I left him, that was the hardest day of my life.  I thought my life was over.  Do I regret leaving him?  I won't lie - some days I do as I think that I will never find another guy like him who put up with my moods and craziness.  But then I give my head a shake because I wasn't happy, regardless of what he put up with.  And I deserve that happiness.  

However, I went in the completely opposite direction.  The idea of settling down with a person, living in a house, cooking, being "domesticated" frightens me.  I need to find a middle point somewhere, a happy balance.  And maybe that is why I am apprehensive of getting into a relationship again, because I don't want to a) leave on a whim because I see a squirrel or b) stay in it because I don't want people to label me a commitmentphobe.  I honestly do believe that one day I may meet a guy who will be a game changer, who will cause those feelings of settling down and making roots something that is appealing to me and doesn't make me want to curl up in the fetal position and cry.  I keep my mind open to that chance.  And I think it is when you find that person, that situation, that job, that makes you want to feel committed to whatever it is, it won't feel like a chore or a job or a punishment to do same.  

But lets look at some positive things in my life that has stuck - I am committed to playing volleyball, even when I have a bum hip or weak ankles or any pain in my body.  I am committed to cross stitching even when I think I picked the worst pattern ever and it will take me years, YEARS, to finish what I started.  I am committed to watching really bad movies or tv shows because I have started it.  I am committed to my craziness.  I am committed to finding a pair of shoes that don't kill my feet.  I do have aspects in my life that I am committed to and those aspects are the ones that make me happy.  So then, I ask you, why would I be committed to something that makes me unhappy?

We only get one life.  One.  Try to experience everything you can in that one life.  Don't weigh yourself down to something, someone, who will make you miserable and unhappy for that life just because you want to appear "committed" to something.  That is such a horrible word.  I think it should be stricken from the english language.  It makes people panic and do things they may not ordinarly do.  Like stay in an unhappy relationship.  Or stay in a miserable job.    

Moral of this blog:  F*#k it and don't let commitment weigh you down in life.  Be committed to your happiness as that is all that matters in this one life we live.  

Thursday, March 3, 2016

When Change Can Induce Anxiety and Heartattacks

As I have mentioned before, I dislike change.  But I also dislike monotony. 

This sums it up fairly well for me.  

However, in the span of life, you have to roll with the punches, climb the mountains, jump the hurdles and stop and smell the roses.  The world will throw curveballs your way and you have to decide if you are going to get hit by the ball, bunt it, flyball it or hit a freaking home run.  (Those were two amazingly awesome idioms by the way).  Will you become a prisoner to monotony or will you punch it in the face?  

I know my line as to when to accept change and when to leave things alone.  It is a fine line.  Some days I am pretty sure it is invisible but other days I know that line and when I have to accept change or when I can stand up and tell it to bugger off.  I will admit that I can be OCD about lots of things.  And I recognize this.  If I am not at least 15-20 minutes early for volleyball, I think I am late and panic.  If I am not at least 30 minutes early for work, I automatically think the day is going to hell and I will be flustered all day.   If I take the same route to and from where ever I am going and there is a detour, I feel lost.  And when it comes to work, oh boy, I need to tamper that OCD big time.  If another lawyer helps out with a reporting letter but does it differently, I am like 'what the fuck' in my head as in my head, they did it completely wrong and I will have to spend more time fixing the formatting and making it like the way we do our letters.  Or how documents are saved.  I internally (and probably outwardly) cringe when I see something different on my files when other people help.  Change in this sense is very difficult for me to accept.  

I recently cut off about 10 inches of my hair and got it coloured purple and blue and magenta.  HUGE change for me and for everyone around me.  It shocked almost everyone.  And it was a drastic change.  But it wasn't as drastic as making a sex tape or quitting my job and becoming a stripper.  Which I would totally do if I had the body for it. But that is beside this point.   And when people ask me 'what prompted you to do that?' I tell them "I needed a change".  And trust me people, this change is the least drastic change compared to the other changes I have done in my life, such as a) breaking up with my boyfriend of 6 years kind of out of the blue; b) moving to the States.  Twice.; c) quitting my job and going to school; d) quitting my job and going to a different job.  This change is tame compared to those changes.  And this change was amazing as I have had people compliment on the train, riding the elevators, at volleyball, almost everywhere I go someone tells me how great my hair looks.  And that is pretty fucking awesome.  It lets me feel more like the exuberant, kooky person that I am that I feel like I need to hide.  Which I don't.  Because the world should be able to see it.  

Change will sometimes slap you in the face though but don't let this deter you from doing something different.  I used to not like stepping out of my boundary when it came to food.  I would order what I knew because then I wouldn't a) go hungry b) feel bad for not eating something that I don't like or c) feel anxiety about trying to figure out what to order.  Lately, I will order things that I used to not.  Or try different foods that I never gave a chance before.  Sometimes it isn't exactly what I like or want but now I know.  Prime example is working as a legal assistant.  There are some people who would have stuck out being a legal assistant because it is what they were doing and they didn't want to venture out and try something else.  The fear of the unknown.  But I decided to punch change in the face and make it my bitch.  And the moment I did that, I felt more like myself.  And that is the ultimate goal (for me at least).  

The change can be something simple to something life altering.  For me, it tends to be life altering (if you are going to do something, go balls to the walls).  And for the most part, I don't regret any change that I did.  And this is another lesson to be learned when it comes to change - don't ever regret it because a) you did it for a reason and b) you got something out of it that you wouldn't have if you didn't do the change in the first place.  The catalyst of change for me was when I lost my virginity (Ma, I apologize now for this).  It changed my life.  It changed me, my outlook on life, my outlook on myself.  And like most people have unique losing-their-virginity-stories, so do I and I wouldn't change it at all because it has made me the person I am today and I wouldn't want to be anybody but me.  I don't regret that decision whatsoever.  And regret is something hard for people to not give credence to.  Society frowns on change.  It wants stability.  Conformity.  And people can get into that mentality so when they step foot out of that normality/conformity, they may feel regret instantly.  Well, like change, punch that regret in the face.  Make it your bitch.  Don't get in to it. Because it will only bring you down.  Make you feel crappy.  Be proud that you did something different.  Be proud that you make a change.  Be proud that you decided to take a step in a direction for you and for you alone.  

Moral of this blog:  F*#k it and don't be a prisoner of monotomy.  Make a change.  Surprise people.  Induce heartattacks.  Hold no regrets over anything.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Another Birthday, Another Year, Another Chance to Kick Ass

As you all know, or now you will all know, I dislike birthdays.  For many different reasons.  But bottom line - I dislike birthdays.  Not all birthdays.  Just my birthday.  I would rather celebrate unbirthdays.  

Let me list the reasons why I dislike birthdays:

  1. I am not comfortable being the center of attention (maybe also why I have no inclination to ever getting married)
  2. When I was 12, my mom asked me what I wanted for my birthday.  I told her I wanted a watch but she was trying to persuade me to get these magic sticks of some sort but me being stubborn, I wanted a watch.  So we went to Lloyd and I picked out the watch I wanted, got it and I was happy.  But then that night, I heard Mom and Dad having a huge fight and in my mind, I attributed it to the fact that I got the watch and not the magic sticks.  
  3. The more I get older, the more I realize I haven't done what I want to do, what I think I *should* be doing or happy with the life I have lived.  

 But over the years the above has changed.  Let me list why things have changed:

  1. I still don't like being the center of attention.  That won't change.  But being around friends, people who know you and will not have you the center of attention, that makes it more bearable.  Friends who won't tell restaurants it is your birthday, make you sit at the head of the table, those types of things.  
  2. I realize that I did not single handedly break up my parents because I choose a watch for my birthday.  I have had my psych training and am in a position to counsel people who feel the same way I do regarding divorced parents.  But when I was 12, I didn't have that training.  I wasn't able to see beyond what was happening.  However, it took me a long time to be able to process and understand what was really happening and not blame myself for the dissolution of their marriage.  A long time it took.  I won't lie - some days I still look back and think I was a contributor but not the main reason. 
  3. Who cares what I haven't done, or that I am not doing what I *should* be doing (as in the eyes of society) and I should be damn proud and happy about the life I have lived.  I shouldn't be comparing my life to anyone else's as it is my life, not theirs.  

I especially have trouble with the third one.  I constantly compare myself with others and the lives they are leading compared to mine.  For example - most people I went to school with are in committed relationships, have families, own a house, have something stable in my life.  The stability I have - my insanity.  But the type of lifestyle I lead is one that takes me whenever, where ever.  If I got a call tomorrow from some place in the States, saying they would sponsor me for a greencard/work visa, I would move in a heartbeat.  If I looked online today and applied for a job in my psych field and they offered me a job, I would take it in a heartbeat.  I would move to Iqualuit if there was a job up there for me.  Basically - I have no stability.  I have no foundations, no roots keeping me anywhere.  I don't have a guy holding me to one place, I don't own a home (in fact I try to find places that don't require leases).  My family is understanding of me moving where ever (at least in my mind I think they are understanding about it all).  But at 32, is that the way I should be living my life?  FUCK YEAH.  Why?  Cause it is my life.  Would I be happy and content living in one place, knowing that I will be there for a long time, being grounded (aka - stuck)?  Probably not.  As my cousin put it - I have commitment issues.  However, I have life commitment issues.  And because of that, I cannot and should not compare my life with others.  It is like comparing apples and fish.  

I am happy with the life I have lead and can only imagine what else is in store for me.  It could mean another move to the US.  It will hopefully mean getting back into the psych side of my life.  Maybe getting my doctorate.  Who knows?? The point is that I have a lot of life still to live and a plethora of experiences yet to experience.  I shouldn't look back and think of all the things I haven't done as that doesn't mean they still can't happen.  I shouldn't get hampered down by society, by people around me and my own thoughts.  I need to be happy with what I have and what I still aspire to have.  I have a roof over my head, a job, food in my fridge, good friends, my health and family that loves and supports me.  That is a pretty fucking awesome life if I can say so myself.  And I am only 32.  Seems old as fuck but I still have a lot of life ahead of me.  So I need to embrace that and not worry about anything else.  As Timon would say - hakuna matata.  

Moral of this Blog - F*#k it and embrace your age and your experiences and the fact that you have more years ahead of you to be happy and be yourself.  Don't compare yourself to others because you are you and you will live the life you want.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Spend Your Life Doing What You Love

We are at work moreso than any other aspect of our life.  Actually that is a lie.  I know #mathishard but if you account for not sleeping or anything, we aren't at work more than anything.  If there is 24 hours in a day (well not if because there is), that is 168 hours a week.  And I am at work for 40 of those hours.  Some weeks way more than that.  Which equals to 23% of my life per week at work.  But then take into account sleeping.  If you get 8 hours of sleep (who does that by the way??!!) you are now down to 112 hours a week you are awake.  So now you are at work 35% of the time. Seems like kind of a small number but if you hate what you do, that 35% feels like 135% of your time.  And then you will hate life.  And hating life is not a good way to life.  Trust me.  I have been there.  I hated it.  I hated life and I hated the fact that I hated life.  And when that hate got to the point of it actually becoming maladaptive to my life, I made a change.  Easy to type, not easy to do.  But I decided that if I was going to have to work for the rest of my life, it was going to be something that would actually make me want to get out of bed and do.

I completely turned my life 180, went back to school, got my masters and found something that I was passionate about.  But more on that below.  

I am not your typical office worker.  I listen to music.  Music with swear words.  I swear.  Quite often.  I have stuffed animals at my desk.  I lose any and all professionalism I have after 3pm.  I have questionably inappropriate conversations with people via email and telephone conversations.  I don't wait for someone to tell me what to do (people not doing what they need to do without people telling them to do it is quite common), even if I have no clue what I am doing (me not knowing what I am doing is also quite common).  However, I used to not be like this.  I used to be your prim and proper office worker.  And I hated it.  And it hated me and ate away at my personality and happiness.  So I decided to say fuck it and be me at the workplace.  And if I am not as professional as they want me to be, then that isn't a place for me.  

One of my interviews at a law firm, they asked me if I could describe myself using 3 adjectives.  I used the comfortable, nothing wrong with them answers of responsible, punctual and kooky.  One lawyer I used to work for, when asked to describe me, said 'fearless'.  And that has stuck ever since.  But again, not the word I would have used prior to this knowledge.  But it has been a part of me ever since.  However, I have learned that even though I feel like I have a fearless disposition, it doesn't come across as much as I would like it to/it should.  When I worked at the jail, my supervisor told me that after my interview, she was worried about hiring me as she didn't think I was cut out for working in the jail.  And I pleasantly surprised her in showing her that I could hack it.  But that showed me that I need to show my skills, personality and fearlessness right off the bat and go in guns a blazing.  No holds bar.  Make people aware of my mad skills right from the get go.  And that is what I did when I worked in Nebraska and I think it helped me make all the wonderful friendships and relationships that I did while I was there.  

I have learned that there are many places that aren't right for me.  Before I had kind of a life epiphany, work and I had a tumultuous relationship.  Tumultuous in the way that if I had a bad day,  my mind instantly went to the thought of quitting.  That was my go-to.  Especially in law firms.  But those are a different breed in and of itself.  I would rarely make my three months as I couldn't last that long.  Which means I have had many jobs in my life.  Many many.  Let me list them for you:

  • KFC worker
  • Caretaker at a college
  • Hallmark associate 
  • Dennys waitress 
  • Bartender
  • Legal assistant (9 law firms and 1 temp agency)
  • Worker in a golf pro shop 
  • Receptionist at a school 
  • Jack of all trades (plumbing/heating)
  • Therapist in a jail 
  • Therapist in a community based setting 
But as I grew up, I realized that as an adult, I would have bad days.  I would have those days where I really hated my job and had no energy to do the work.  But guess what - that is life.  You learn by overcoming those days.  You learn what helps you cope those days.  Me, I put on an upbeat song.  I take a walk and get coffee. I go talk with the gals in accounting or corporate and just get away from my desk and reset myself.  And tell myself that tomorrow is a new day.  I know I am not doing what I want to be doing but I am making the best out of what I am in at the moment, knowing that eventually I will be doing what I want to be doing and knowing that goal is in the future, makes the day easier to handle.  

By far, bartender and therapist have been my favorite.  Which makes sense as people say that bartenders are therapists.  And I completely agree.  But I would go back to jail in a heartbeat.  To be a therapist.  No other reason.  I loved it.  I found my niche, I found where my heart is passionate about.  I found what I was good at.  I have so many amazing memories from working in the jail.  Here is one of my favorite.  

It was during one of my anger management groups.  We were talking about how to prepare oneself if they are going to go into a situation where anger may be a result.  So for an example, I told them that when I need to go into meetings or discussions where I feel that I may become frustrated or angry, I bring in a cup of tea with me as that is a calming thing for me.  So then I asked them to think of something they could do to avoid anger getting the best of them.  There was a long pause and one guy said 'yo Miss Ashley, I got one.  Instead of bringing the gun into the club, I could just leave it in my car'.   In my head, I laughed.   I talked about tea, they talked about guns.  Lesson there for me - know your audience.  But I was very happy and proud that he was able to make that connection.  And he was proud.  And it was a glorious day for me.  

I wish someone was able to see me interact with the individuals at the jail.  To see me do something that I feel so passionate about.  I think when you see that in person, it resonates so much more deeply inside of you.  I was lucky enough to see my sister do the work she does, which was very helpful because when she first got into the industry she is in, I was so confused on what she actually did.  But then I got to see her in action and it was unlike anything I see on a daily basis.  She loves what she does.  And she didn't even like that aspect of her job that she was doing that day.  But when I was watching her, I could tell that this was a passion.  And then watching people take pictures of her work and go up to her and thank her for her contributions and talk to her about her job and roles, I was in awe.  Because she is doing what she loves.  She is doing what she has a passion for.  And it took her some time to get there.  Which I completely understand.  What most people don't understand, people who haven't ever made a 180 change in their life, is that you can't just quit one job for another.  It isn't that simple.  It takes time, planning, perseverance, and patient.  And you will find resistance from people.  But that is where the perseverance comes in.  I could have stayed a legal assistant the rest of my life.  I could have been unhappy the rest of my life.  I could have made my stable paycheque, kept my stable job.  But I would have been unhappy.  And that is the key here.  Happiness means more to me than having a "stable" job.  And I think my sister felt the same way when she did her change.  It wasn't about the notoriety of being in the position that we were in.  It wasn't about the paycheque we knew was coming in.  What we were doing was not making us happy so we decided to do something about it.  Again, very hard to do but it is possible.  

I am happy for all the experiences I have had in my working life.  I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable of.  And for that I am grateful for trying new things, seeing what I am capable of and letting myself flourish in atmospheres that foster that.  One day I will get back to being a therapist.  I know it.  I will make it happen. 

Moral of this blog:  F*#k it and do the thing that makes you happy.  Even if it means flipping your life 180 and doing something you never thought you could do.  Find your happiness. Be happy with what you do.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Be the Awesome, Amazing, Badass Person that You Are.

The very first line of the book Gone With the Wind is "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were". However, if you watched the movie, the actress they got to portray Scarlett is/was gorgeous.  So if that was how Margaret Mitchell portrayed Scarlett in the book, how come Hollywood didn't portray her as such in the film?  

Because society sucks when it comes to looks.  Plain and simple. 

I grew up with 2 older sisters who are gorgeous.  And skinny/fit.  And then there is me.  Who is none of the above.  And you know what, most days, I am okay with that.  Those days that I am not okay with it, well those are tough days.  Especially when we live in a superficial society.  If you don't belong to a gym/workout, you have a mark against you.  If you are in the double digits for clothing size, you have a mark against you.  If you like eating, you have a mark against you.  If you have no thigh gap, you have a mark against you.  (These are all things that have arised from living in Calgary - not saying the rest of the world is like this).  And I am highly skeptical of those guys out there who say they like curvy women because I have a feeling when push comes to shove, if there was a skinny woman and a curvy woman standing in front of them, they would pick the skinny woman.  Which is okay.  Just don't say you like curvy woman.  Sympathy is not going to do any good.  It almost feels like pity.  And I don't want or need pity for the way I look.  If you don't like the way I look that is fine because it means you don't get any of my awesomeness.  And I am pretty awesome.  

It is hard going through life not feeling attractive.  And when people tell you 'if you exude confidence/attractiveness, then you will feel it' but how can you exude it if you don't know what it feels like?  I will admit it - my self esteem/self confidence could use a make over, but it is getting better.  It is a lot better than what it used to be.  Why? Because I just don't give a fuck anymore.  Plain and simple.  Growing up, I was teased/bullied about my looks; I was called fat and ugly and worthless.  One person even told me that I shouldn't be alive because nobody would ever want me.  Guys would 1) comment on how pretty/attractive my sisters are and then 2) give me the side eye and either walk away or (and some guys actually had the balls to do this) ask me why I wasn't as pretty as they were.  Hearing that time and time again, it starts wearing you down.  And then you start questioning people who do think you are attractive.  Or you start finding it hard to take a compliment because they are so few and far between.  And you start looking at yourself in the mirror as what people have told you what you are.  Ugly.  Unattractive.  Fat.  Worthless.  
But no more.  Why?  Because I just don't care.  I don't want to be one of those girls who spends an hour getting ready in the morning.  I don't want to feel the need to have to wear makeup or make sure my hair is perfect in order to attract guys or leave the house in the morning.  I feel pretty when I don't wear makeup or when the hair is up in a messy bun or when the hair is in complete disarray of curls.  If I meet a guy and I am wearing makeup and whatnot, in the morning, when I wake up, I pull the coyote ugly look and that will never change.  He doesn't need that type of shock to the system that early in the morning.  The way I see it, if I find a guy who likes me for what I look like when I am just plain ol' me, I will knock his socks off when I actually do put effort into my looks.  But I really don't see why I need to do that from the getgo.  What would he be in love with then - me or the masked me?  Would he start loving me less if I wore make up less and less?  Seriously, what type of love is that?    

As I have gotten older, I have learned which people to surround myself with. Not the assholes, idiots, or stupidheads of the world.  Not the self obsessed, absorbed or superficial people of the world.  I know I could never land a Brad Pitt, a David Beckam or a Channing Tatum.  So why bother trying and letting myself feel like an unattractive failure in the meantime.  I surround myself with people who appreciate me for me.  I have met a couple of guys who have outwardly told me that I shouldn't lose any weight because what I am is perfect (in their eyes) and that makes me feel wonderful to hear.  When I have met some guys who have been with size 0's but choose to spend time with me instead, I feel like I am walking on a cloud.  There needs to be more people like that out there.  I am not a size zero.  I am not even a size 10.  I have hips.  I have boobs.  I have crazy hair that does what it wants and doesn't want to be controlled.  I don't wear makeup.  I get acne (still - *shakes fist at acne*).  It doesn't mean that I am fat.  It doesn't mean that I am unattractive.  It doesn't mean I am unhealthy.  It just means that there is a lot more of my awesomeness and I look like me and not somebody I am trying to be.    

So don't ever let anyone tell you that you are fat or unattractive or worthless.  Don't ever let anyone make you think you less than what you are.  It is a horrible feeling and nobody should have that power over you.  Be you. Be whatever you you are and be happy and proud of that.  

My suggestion - do either one of these every day: 

Moral of this blog:  F*#k It and love yourself, all of yourself, every aspect of yourself. Don't listen to the stupidheads out there who put you down because they are stupidheads.  Plain and simple.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

When life gets you down, you underwear dance!!!

Life gets hectic and stressful.  If you say it doesn't, you are a liar.  And everyone has their own way of dealing with the hecticness and stressfulness.  Some people drink.  Some people do drugs.  Some people run.  Some people workout.  

Me, I underwear dance.  

There is nothing more freeing than shedding some of your clothes, get into the comfy underwear and tank top and just dance to your heart's content.  No one is there to judge you for how you look or the music you are listening to or the fact that you are underwear dancing.  It is a total selfish and wonderful act.  And something that everybody should do.  

I think the nudists are onto something about shedding the clothes.  When I get home, the first thing I do is get out of my work clothes.  It is like shedding the day away and getting into something that is comfier, more me and just happier.  It is a simple act that makes me forget about work and allows me to focus on what I have to get done for that night.  And do it in comfy clothes.  However, I am not sure if dancing nude versus dancing in your underwear will be different.  To me, that is a huge difference.  You gotta go with your comfort level.  

You can underwear dance for many reasons.  The list is endless really but here are my reasons as to why I underwear dance:

  • crappy day at work
  • some boy doesn't text back 
  • feel like the world is crashing around me
  • life just sucks 
It doesn't really matter why.  Hell, you can even do it when you are in a good mood.  It doesn't much matter.  Why?  Cause this is for you.  And only you.  Unless you decide to share this moment with somebody, then it can be two fools dancing around in your underwear.  Cause I will warn you now, when you dance around in your underwear, feeling free and unhindered by life's troubles, you will dance however you want to.  And that could mean looking like a fool.  But a free fool.  Which is the best fool there is out there.  

I don't think there have been any empirical studies done on the effects of underwear dancing on one's mood but I can tell you from personal experience, it helps tremendously.  I always feel better after underwear dancing.  It just makes things happier.  

The music can make a difference as to what/why you are dancing.  Here is a list of some of my favorite songs to underwear dance to:
  • Hate My Life by Theory of a Deadman
  • She is Beautiful by Andrew W.K. 
  • Footloose by Kenny Loggins
  • Dog Days are Over by Glee Cast 
  • Try by Pink 
  • Papa was a Rolling Stone by the Temptations
  • Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks 
  • Animal by Neon Trees
  • I'm Only Joking by Kongos 
  • Stolen Dance by Milky Chance 
and many many more.  The list is endless.  It is whatever the music is speaking to you at that moment.  Or why you are underwear dancing.  Dancing (and singing at the top of your lungs to) Hate my Life by Theory of a Deadman is the best form of underwear dancing there is.  Just don't sing at the top of your lungs if you have upstairs neighbors or roommates.  They may not appreciate or understand what you are doing.  

Dancing is a wonderful form of therapy.  When I worked at the jail, on some of the days we got done the actual 'therapy' part of the music and art group, I would put on a song and we would just dance to is and the guys loved it.  It was a moment for them to forget they were in jail and just enjoy being in the moment.  And I loved it because they were happy.  And that is what dancing is - a form of happiness.  And legit happiness.  And doesn't cost that much.  Or require that much.  So everyone should do it.  Everyone.  

Moral of this blog:  F*#k It and underwear dance as much as you want.  It doesn't hurt anybody and it is a fuckload of fun.  And therapeutic.