Monday, December 29, 2014

Ask Yourself, Are You Ready?

"Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you any closer to where you want to be tomorrow."

I am a New Year's resolution girl. I don't necessarily stay up at midnight on New Year's Eve and right them down on a sticky note, and I don't tend to pick silly things that I will immediately break come the middle of the month in January. But I am a goal setter. I am a list maker and a reflector. I  spend the last couple weeks of December looking back at the year, from what goals I set for the current year, to where I was then compared to where I am now. And then I set some new, healthy, smart goals for the next year. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I do really well, but no matter what, I find a lot of comfort in the reflection and goal setting process.

At this time last year, I was about six months into writing this blog and had about ten regular readers. I was making an effort to find ways to get it out there, to share my posts on other sites, like Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus and Twitter. My audience has now grown immensely and I just hit 32,000 page views - 32 THOUSAND. One of my posts has been published - published for real, like, in a book. My blog has an average of 2,000 page views per month; that's over 50 times a day that someone is opening my blog! At this time last year, I was sitting in my office at Cascade Woods Apartments in Aloha, where the only part of my job I didn't hate was having dinner at the end of every day with Stacey and Blake. I hated it so much I was considering leaving the company (amazing how things work out and I was only a few weeks from another promotion that would progress my career and make me much happier than leaving would have) and was actively seeking employment.

2014 started with family drama (doesn't it always) when my cousin tried to get me fired for writing this very blog. Because he's crazy. The family drama has continued through the year, and will likely carry on for many more years, but what has come out of this year for me, is the realization that I can pick my battles. I spent hours making my family tree with my therapist and finding all of the ways in which my family is completely fucked up - and learned that all of those things are out of my control. I cannot control that my family fell apart, and I cannot make them piece it back together. The only thing I can control is the way I react and the way I respond. And for me, that has meant retreating, not attending family parties. What I have learned is that making a choice to create that physical boundary between myself and the people who have hurt me is the healthiest choice, one I needed to make for myself. So, despite that the drama continues, I have finally been able to move on from it and let it go. I can't change it, so there is not use in continuing to be upset about it.

My goal for 2015 where it involves my family is to continue to feel my feelings and speak my truth, and to continue to make guilt-free choices involving who I speak to, what I attend (and don't), and what relationships I maintain (and which ones I sever). But I would like to talk about it less. I talked about it a lot this year, both in therapy and in public on this blog forum, I am ready for it to take less of my time. I've healed enough to stop being stressed about it, and I've let it go enough to talk less about it. I have finally been validated in my feelings and my decisions, and that validation was all I ever needed, when it came down to it.

In 2014, I transferred properties three times, and I moved three times. I'd like to believe that moving as frequently as I do is the nature of my business, but I think mostly it's because I am out of my damn mind. I started the year working in Aloha, then transferred back to Vancouver in January; I just transferred buildings up here again in October. In January I was living alone in a two bedroom apartment near my job site, where I had signed a 13 month lease with no intention of moving. Unfortunately my upstairs neighbor flooded my apartment and I had to move in April; I moved to a one bedroom on site at the building I was working at. Then in August, I transferred on the same property into a two bedroom and got a roommate. The roommate was a big step for me in my need for control. But it's been going really well. I am saving a ton of money every month, which has eliminated a lot of my life stress, and she's never home so we're not too much in each other's way.

My goal for 2015, regarding work and moving, is to stay in one damn place through the summer. I know, it is most likely wishful thinking, but I did commit to 12 months at the building I am at now, which puts me into September - and as long as I work here, I should be able to continue living where I am living...and I don't believe my roommate intends to rush out any time soon, so fingers are crossed that I can just stay put for the next nine or ten months. At which point, I have set a big goal: I want to move out of Washington and go somewhere new. I just wrote about this last week, but I do believe that now is an ideal time for me to pack my things, take Juno, and hit the road for another state. My company has properties everywhere and my options are not limited, so why not? Now is as good a time as ever to take a leap! I want to plan to visit both Boise and Denver, which are both high on my list of possibilities, in the spring and really make a good decision for myself.

In 2014, I did much better at communicating my feelings, being open, being honest with myself and other people, and I was definitely rewarded for it. I developed stronger friendships, better relationships, and treated myself better. I was finally able to find validation of some past feelings, and I finally learned to say "this is what I want, so this is what I am going to do," and to keep my own best interest in the forefront. My goal for 2015, regarding speaking my truth, is really just to continue to do so. It takes practice and commitment to stand up for what you want, and it takes energy to stand firm in your choices. I need to keep practicing, to keep working, and to keep committing to the choices I make for myself.

In 2014, I started (and ended) a great relationship with someone I was friends with first. I don't normally do that, the friends thing. Usually my emotion (and sex drive) complicates a friendship from the beginning. I tried something new. It didn't work out, but I think we have a salvageable friendship at this point, and if nothing else, I learned a lot about what I want and what's important to me. Next year, I am challenging myself to take more risks, to think less and act more, and to remember that what I want is valid, no matter how crazy it may seem.

2015 is going to be a good year; I'm determined to make it that. It will be one of successes and failures, change and stability, growth and learning. I intend to push myself out of my comfort zone and tackle new challenges, because I'm bored with things the way they are. In 2015, I intend to put myself first and to never underestimate my own abilities.

Because after all, in 2014, I accomplished my lifelong dream: something I wrote was published, in a book. Which must mean I am ready to take on a new life dream.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Let My Bad Shit Take Care of Your Bad Shit

Sometimes, I think that the reasons bad things happen to us, is so that when something bad happens to someone we love and care about, we know how to be there for them. Because after our own bad shit, we can truly empathize with someone else; we can know how they feel, understand what they're going through, and help get them to the other side.

As many of you have read, I had an ex-boyfriend die in a car accident several years ago. It was tragic and devastating, and there are days that my heart still aches for him. I think about him all the time, I talk to his friends because they make me think of him, and I have learned to only look back on our happy moments, not the break up.

Being "the ex" to someone who dies is a whole other level of confusion, because sometimes, things end badly. You have bad feelings. You say bad things. You may even have had a horrible final conversation in which words were exchanged that you probably didn't really mean. But you never think that there will be a day you can't take those things back.

Until that day is today. Until you realize that the last conversation the two of you had was negative and mean, hurtful, and a little painful.

One of my girlfriends is now in my boat. Her ex boyfriend passed away this week. And I can honestly say, I understand her grief. I have shared a similar experience and can talk to her in an empathetic way that (I hope) she finds helpful and comforting. There's a reason bad shit happened to me, and she is that reason. Because now I can help her. She wrote this last night, and it is eerily similar to what I wrote when Zach died. I am so proud of her for writing it, for feeling her feelings, for expressing herself, and for letting her heart be vulnerable.

So proud, I had to share her words:

He used to always tell me that you never really know what never means, so don't say it.  I think about that any time I think I am about to say "never."
He and I did not end well and people know that about us.  We did briefly have our time of getting along and being friends after we broke up, but then over time we drifted... then we had a pretty public Facebook fight that I ended up deleting and then I ended up unfriending him.  I don't regret that decision, it was right for me at the time.  But I never (there's that word again) thought that would be my very last interaction with him EVER.
I am extremely close to his family.  His brother is my My Best Guy Friend.  Momma C and I talk regularly over Facebook.
The news was so strange to take in at first.  Momma C messaged me in the middle of the night this very vague message that instantly worried me.  I wrote her back when my son woke me up and then again first thing in the morning and then I didn't hear back from her.  I messaged My Best Guy Friend out of worry even though I wasn't sure how worried I should be.  He hadn't heard anything.  I spent the day with increasing worry as I didn't hear back and I just KNEW it was bad.  My Best Guy Friend finally wrote me, said he was with his parents but that he would call me later.  Turns out I was teaching a group at the time he was planning to call--a total blessing in disguise.  Then My Best Guy Friend had to work and couldn't call.  Momma C got to me before I heard from My Best Guy Friend.  She apologized about not responding and explained that it was important to talk to family first, which I completely understand.  Then she told me "He is gone."
I went through all sorts of feeling.  Initially it was shock.  Then I got mad.  Then after my husband asked me multiple times how I'm feeling because he couldn't figure me out I finally burst into tears.  Of course that's around the time My Best Guy Friend called me.  And instead of being a strong friend to him, he ended up consoling me and I just kept saying "i'm so sorry."
It is such an amazing coincidence that I had plans to meet my parents at the beach.  I posted some pictures with "beach therapy" as the title because that's truly what it was.  I cried a lot over the weekend, but over time I felt soothed and relaxed.  By the time I got back home the random spells of tears stopped coming.  It's interesting to feel the transition that happened.  I have worked so hard to get over the bad times with him that I realized that I have completely forgotten about the good times we had.  People have messaged me stories and pictures and some of those happy memories have reminded me that I really loved the guy once upon a time.
No one has ever made me as angry as he has made me.  But it's time to let go of the anger.

She makes such a valid point about the necessity of letting things go. What I learned in losing Zach, is that it is unhealthy to focus on the negatives. Of course there were negatives, that's why we broke up. And of course there were bad times, there are bad times in every relationship. But there were also a lot of good times, and you have to make a conscious decision to focus on those moving forward, so that you don't bog yourself down with guilt. 

Being "the ex" to someone who dies is hard. It's awkward. It's confusing. People are weird at the funeral, and you feel an array of extra emotions that no one else is feeling. But at the same time, being "the ex" to someone who dies is special. It's something you have, just you, that nobody else has. It is your chance to have and experience more feeling, more emotion. It's important and heartbreaking and gut wrenching. It's an opportunity to let go of your bad feelings, your frustration and anger, and any negativity you've been holding on to.

Sometimes, bad shit happens to us, and the best thing we can do is to turn around and help a friend get through the same bad shit later. We can be a shoulder, be a sounding board, be a support. We can listen, empathize, offer advice and love. When bad shit happens to our friends that we've been through too, we can really step up and help them focus on the good, instead of on the bad. 

Because in the end, all that really matters, is the good shit. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Aren't Vampires Suppose to Catch Fire in the Sun?

I ran into my aunts this weekend at a holiday craft bazaar.

In a normal family, that would be literally, no big deal. In a normal family, I would have walked up and said hi, made some conversation, and maybe even spent some time with them at the event.

In a normal family, I would not have to debate whether I pretend I didn't see them, or to hide, or to walk up and punch them in the face.

In a normal family, running into your aunts at a craft bazaar is in no way a blog-worthy event.

I think it has already been established that my family is not a normal one.

Yesterday, I looked up from a craft table where I was admiring some bracelets, to see my aunts walking my way, my grandma in between them. And since I saw them before they saw me, I had several choices. Since my gut reaction to seeing someone I hate (and who hates me in return) is to duck and cover, I chose to walk the other direction and pretend I had not seen them. I didn't want to see them, or talk to them. or even walk past them pretending to not even recognize them.

For the record, it has been long enough since we've spoken, that not recognizing them could be a plausible argument.

In any case, I chose to hide and pretend I hadn't seen them. But then a few minutes later, I was trapped in a hallway where I was going and they were coming, and there was only one door. Shit! I was going to have to walk past them. Eye contact might even be made! FUCK!

At this point, I had another several options: blow off my grandma and stoop to their level, walking right by as if I didn't know them, or stop and say hi, which was the right thing to do being that my grandma was there too. So, with my heart racing and no desire to do so, I walked right up to the three of them, gave my grandma a hug, and said hello - just to her. I introduced her to my friend and asked her what she was doing up here in Vancouver, and after what seemed like an eternity (time slows down when two insane bitches are staring at you awkwardly not saying hello), told her I would see her soon and walked away.

Running into my aunts was inevitable at some point. In a ten year span is it really possible to not see someone who is genetically related to you, no matter how hard you try? But it was a good reminder of the moments when taking the high road actually becomes much more gratifying than running away and stopping to someone else's level. I could have hid from them, and I certainly could have just completely ignored them. I wanted to. But I also did not want to stoop to their level when it involved my grandma (even though they've spent their share of time discussing all the ways I mistreat her); my grandma did not deserve to be ignored just because she was in shitty company.

I have spent far too many years being hurt, sad, and angry by the way this family has unraveled. Seeing them was really a very good reality check that I have no reason to be hurt, sad, or angry anymore: these two women may as well have been complete strangers. I don't know them. They don't know me. I don't know where they live or what they do in their free time or on holidays. I don't know anything about them. They don't know me. They don't know what tragedies I have faced in the past six years, or the strength I have acquired after each one. They don't know that I am successful and happy, or that I am proud of myself for living the life I do. We don't know each other. And we don't need to.

I will always approach my grandma to say hi if I see her in public, regardless of how awkward other people make it. So go ahead and read this (I know you do), print it out and read it to each other over dinner, and try to find a way of twisting it into how I'm the bad guy. The reality is, you're the bad guys. You have successfully taken my grandma, my family, my support, away from me and have made me redefine all of that. I have spent several years attempting to find connection and to heal, and have only recently been able to let go of my intense feelings of anger, hurt, and honestly, hate.

You did that to me.

It is important to live your life in the company of people who care about you; people who support you and lift you up. For me, this has meant redefining what family means, rethinking what family is, and even reevaluating who belongs to mine. And it's been an uphill battle. It's been a series of stressful family events, a string of missed holidays, and a lot of hurt feelings. Because people in my family have hurt me, I've turned around and hurt other people by not showing up to holidays or by saying hurtful things. It's been a hard cycle, but in the end, I think it was inevitable. And running into these two strangers yesterday - two strangers who are blood related to me, who used to love me, who used to support me and lift me up - was the reminder I needed that I am living my life right.

I might even show up for a holiday next year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

I Think I Hear Life Calling

I just got a new tattoo; technically, it's two tattoos, actually, but I got both in one sitting, and with the intention of them being seen as one piece. On my left forearm, I got the word free, in simple, pretty, wispy writing. On my right forearm, I got a hot air balloon, with a bird cage in place of the basket. The message with this tattoo, is a reminder that I need to always focus on being free, and not being caged or stuck in one place. I pride myself on my ability to make a decision and go with it, without having to consider what anyone else wants me to do. This is a new thing for me, and I have spent a significant amount of time working through my inability to choose for myself - the fact that I am now succeeding in following my own heart, is a big deal for me.

A few weeks ago, my therapist and I were talking about seasonal depression, the fact that I hate the rain, the fact that I have always lived in Oregon/SW Washington. She asked me, if in ten years I wake up and have never moved out of the state, would I regret that.

My immediate answer was, yes, of course.

If I never leave Oregon (or Vancouver), I will regret it. I don't want to live here my whole life. The more I think about it, the more excited I get about other places. The more it rains here, the more I complain about it, the more I wonder why I've never left before. Why I didn't to to college out of state, why I didn't move somewhere new when I was working for Old Chicago. I wonder what it is that holds me here. And the obvious answer is, my family. I have a huge, loving, fun, great family, and the majority of them live here in the Portland area. It would be hard for me to move away from my parents, my cousins, the toddlers. And yet, in my recent efforts to do what it takes to make myself the happiest, and to satisfy my own wants over anyone else's, is the physical proximity to my family enough reason to stay here?

Honestly? No.

When I took my most recent promotion, I committed to 12 months at the property; that will carry me to next fall. I am considering a move within my company, out of state, when this time commitment expires. I think it would be good for me to pack my stuff, buckle the cat into her crate, and hit the road to somewhere new. My homework in therapy this week is to Google 5 pros and 5 cons of living in my top choices: Phoenix, Boise, Denver, and Montana (I haven't narrowed down a city in Montana at all yet, nor have I looked up our properties there). So that's where I'm starting. Right now, it's an idea. A thought. Something I'm considering carefully. Something I'm listening to myself about.

If I never leave home, I will regret it. And I don't want to wake up in ten years and realize that I have those regrets. I am a free soul. I can go wherever I want, do whatever I want. I deserve to be happy and fulfilled, and I definitely deserve to choose my own adventures.

Whether it's moving out of a city, out of your state, out of the country, or whether it's something else entirely, I encourage you to think for yourself, and look for what satisfies your heart.

And then do it.

Monday, December 1, 2014

I'm #AngryTyping Right Now

I make it a point to, for the most part, keep my professional life out of my blog. I think it's important that I don't log in at the end of a long day and complain about my job. The reality is, for the most part, I do like my job. I'm good at it. The mix of paperwork and customer service, along with the little bit of allowance to be a hard-ass bitch when necessary, is a great fit for my personality. But if I were to blog every time I had a hard day in the office, this blog would be a daily rant about the perils of property management.

Which actually, could be pretty entertaining. #bookidea.

Anyways, so in general, I keep my work rants to myself (and bitch about them to my coworkers).

That said, I was floored today after an interaction with a resident. Floored! My jaw hit the ground, and I was actually at a loss for words. Not because it was out of the ordinary or anything - this shit happens on the regular in my office, but just because I finally had this moment where all I could think was, what in the holy fuck is wrong with people?!?!

Basically, this woman in her early to mid fifties comes into the office and asks my assistant manager why she has a balance of six dollars on her account from the prior month. He pulls her account up and reviews it, and essentially, last month she simply did her fucking math wrong and was short on her utility check six bucks. No big fucking deal, just add six dollars to your new check, right?


She proceeds to argue about how she keeps meticulous records and carries on about all the reasons it must be our fault that she wrote the wrong amount on her check, and how she can't wait to move out of this place when her lease is up because I suck at my job and so does everyone else, and how the grounds look like crap with the leaves blowing everywhere, and the way that maintenance does everything they can to fuck her life up, and oh whoa the fuck is me and my sorry bull shit. So my assistant manager prints her account ledger to review with her where the - very simple and six fucking dollar - mistake was made, and lets her know she can simply write her check for an additional six bucks. No big deal, right?


She then proceeds to yell - full on yell - about how much she hates us, and goes storming out the door, muttering four letter words about how my assistant manager and everyone else in our office are nothing but dirty slutbag whores. But not until she has turned on one heel and SLAMMED the door to the office on her way out. And I am talking the type of door slam that someone does when they walk in on their boyfriend fucking someone else. The type of door slam only a toddler having a psychotic episode would muster. It was insane! She slammed the door so fucking hard, something fell off the door.

Again, it was not the instance that got me thinking. This honestly plays out in my office about once a week, with someone swearing or yelling, or threatening, or slamming the door. I usually laugh as they walk out, send them a notice letting them know they violated a lease policy about acting aggressively in the office, and go about my day. But today I just really started thinking more about it. About who the FUCK thinks it is acceptable to behave like a tornado for no fucking reason. Since when are we such an entitled population of fucking ass holes, that we think it is acceptable to fly off the handle on an innocent bystander? We, as people in general, take no responsibility for our own actions and simply place all the blame on other people instead of on ourselves. We do not admit fault or guilt, but instead make excuses. And then, after we are complete and total dickheads, we turn around and slam fucking doors! Because goddammityouwillfuckinghearmewheniammad!!

Today was one of those days that I left work feeling not just defeated as a property manager, but as a human. Today made me sad for mankind in general. Today made me embarrassed to be a living, breathing person existing among other living breathing people who act in a way that anyone with a soul would find offensive.Today was a reminder that we are surrounded by arrogance, by people who believe they are right and everyone else is wrong. And it pissed me off.

I think I'll slam a door. Because, noise makes a point.