Vulnerable.

Real talk: I’m a fraud.

The title of my blog is “Embracing Paper Tigers.” This is meant to signify the acceptance, even welcoming, of fears because they’re only paper; they can’t hurt me.

Well, turns out that I’m full of shit.

After avoiding podcasts for years because I find them to be a giant snooze-fest, I listened to one of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday talks with Brené Brown. Not only did I stay awake, but I was downright terrified how much this woman was in my head. IN MY HEAD. I was legitimately wondering if I was hallucinating because it was like she had been listening to my therapy sessions over the past few months.

My life is run by my fear of being vulnerable, being imperfect. I haven’t been embracing anything. More like creating little tiny boxes of comfort zones and compartmentalizing my life to fit into them. I’ve been doing anything possible to avoid confronting my  perceived shortcomings or putting myself in a position to be hurt.

I once thought that my 30 before 30 list was a great way to encourage growth in myself, but  boy was I wrong about the type of growth I needed. Sure, I made some progress and had some amazing experiences due to it, but what I really need to work on is inside. My experiences and relationship with myself.

“When we lose our capacity for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding.” -Brené Brown

Holy. Crap. If this isn’t the story of my freaking life. I’m constantly fearful when thing start to go “too well.”

I’m in an amazingly happy and healthy relationship. What’s wrong with him? My job is going great! When is the other shoe going to drop?

The worst part is, we will never truly be able to revel in joy until we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Luckily, our fears can manifest themselves in our lives to force us. When we consistently resist being vulnerable and opening our true selves up, life WILL put something in our path that forces us to be vulnerable, be open.

So many things have happened over the course of the last year that have forced vulnerability onto me. And there are more currently standing in my path. It’s like the universe is screaming in my face, “You’ve played it safe long enough. You want to be really, truly happy? I’m about to rock your world, girlfriend.”

This is my opportunity. I need to embrace my paper tigers.

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A Therapeutic Return

After a two year hiatus, I’m giving this another try. Sharing can be extremely cathartic. So much has happened. So much is different.

I thought that my quarter-life crisis was a pivotal point in my life. If only I knew then how uncertain life could be. How much growing I had to do. I’m now in my “late” twenties (Ick!) and have no clue what my future holds. I’ve started over in so many senses.

The catalyst being the end of my five year relationship. It sounds exceptionally negative to refer to this time period as my life falling apart, especially when so many things have actually improved. Let’s call it my life falling together. That’s better. Always the optimist! The end was a long time coming. Likely should have happened far sooner, but isn’t that the way with most of our failed relationships? Staying just a smidgen past the expiration date? Twisting the cap off the milk and giving a tentative sniff until we’re sure it’s really spoiled this time.

Since posting about my 30 Before 30, I have made some pretty oustanding progress. I made it to Vegas and won a whopping $46. As insignificant as that sounds, it paid for two whole drinks! Oh, Vegas. Your cocktails are so expensive. I posted already about adding to my art collection. Since then I have inked two more beautiful pieces onto my body. I saw a show on Broadway. Aladdin! And got a massive raise/promotion. I found my inner yogi. Went to a music festival. Though it wasn’t as awesome as I had hoped. I have plans to travel alone in May to hike in the Rocky Mountains. Finally, I moved. While not in the way I had anticipated, that one can still be checked off my list.

Looking at my list now and seeing where I was at 25, there are several items I would now remove. But as the saying goes: hindsight is 20/20.

Moving forward with life has been wondrously eye-opening. It sounds nauseatingly cliche, but sometimes I feel like I’m seeing the beauty in the world for the first time. I have so much more freedom. Freedom to come home from work late and not cook dinner. Freedom to sleep until noon on the weekend. Freedom to get up at seven on the weekend. Freedom to do whatever the fuck I want to do whenever the fuck I want to do it. Who knew how liberating autonomy could be?

Everyone says your 20s are about finding yourself. I’m finding that to be exceedingly accurate as I continue to approach my 30s. While there is some comfort in the idea of truly knowing yourself, I hope to never stop growing the way I have over the last eight months. With any luck I will stick to it this time to document the journey.

30 Before 30: Final Installment of the Dirty Thirty Bucket List

There are so many things I want to accomplish in my life and sometimes it can be hard to keep track. I have been working on making a list of things I want to achieve before my 30th birthday to help me organize my plans. With any luck, this will help me check things off my list and prioritize my dreams.

If you’re just tuning in be sure to catch up by checking out the original 30 Before 30 with 1-10 and my second installment with 11-20.

21. Volunteer. I used to volunteer quite a bit in high school and college, but have not done much since transitioning to life as an adult. It always feels good to give back and know that you’ve made a difference.

22. Start a retirement fund. This seems like a mighty practical thing that should not be put off too long. I don’t really want to work until I die.

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23. Test drive (and possibly buy) a Camaro. This is my dream car. I sure love my Mini Cooper, but I really wanted a Camaro.

24. Celebrate New Year’s Eve somewhere awesome. Times Square sounds absolutely awful to me. Maybe some place like New Orleans where it will be warmer and still have a great party atmosphere.

25. Buy a pair of fabulous designer shoes. Louboutins? Brian Atwoods? Valentino? I have a slight obsession with the rock stud line by Valentino…

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26. Have a baby. I would love to start a family soon. I have a tiny sense of urgency due to my endometriosis.

27. Give back to my parents.  They have done so much to support me for my whole life; I would love to give them something special.

28. Fix up our house or move.  As homeowners, there is a never-ending list of to-dos: put up a fence, raise the garage, waterproof the basement, run electrical in the basement, etc. These things all cost money that would likely not give our home an increased value for resale, but we want them finished in order to be happy here.

29. Learn how to sew. My mom gave me her old sewing machine yet I haven’t used it. I would love to make things like curtains or pillow covers for my home and even make some of my own clothes.

30. Enjoy each and every day to the fullest. It is important to be mindful of each moment and see the beauty all around us. I made this list to plan for my future, but I also hope to stop and take in the present.

What are your goals for the next five years?

– C

30 Before 30: Second Installment of the Dirty Thirty Bucket List

Alright ladies and gents, after a six month hiatus and WordPress losing my post, I think it is time that I post the next ten things I want to do or achieve before I hit the big 3-0. Check out my update to see how I am doing on the first ten bucket list to-do items.

Let’s start right where I left off.

11. Learn a foreign language. I’m starting this round off big with a tremendous aspiration. In high school I took courses in both Spanish and French, but ultimately did not go far with either. The longest actual conversation I had in a language other than English was to tell the maid in a hotel that she didn’t need to finish cleaning our room because I needed to take a shower. Pretty sure I butchered my pronunciation. Has anyone had success with Rosetta Stone?

12. Pamper myself once a month. This will be an ongoing goal, of course, and I will try my best to stick to it. Ry so kindly bought me a spa day for my birthday and it was an amazing afternoon of indulgence. I don’t have to do an entire day each month. Heck, I can’t afford to do a whole day each month, but a little something would be nice. Especially since my massage therapist told me my neck and back are “all sorts of messed up” after my serious case of whiplash.

13. Watch the sunset on a beach. This was in my original post that, so sadly, was misplaced, but has since been achieved. Ry and I went on a glorious vacation to St. Thomas last week and had a prime view of the sunset from our beach side dinner one night. There isn’t anything more beautiful.

I mean, just look at that view.

14. Eat at a 5 Star restaurant. I can’t even express how much I love food. This would be the ultimate date (and probably break the bank).

15. See a show on Broadway. I have seen plenty of off-Broadway shows. I have been to NYC a ton of times. How have I not seen a show in the city by now?!

16. Find my inner yogi. I recently took a couple of hot yoga classes and, after getting past the early “I might pass out” feeling, couldn’t believe how refreshed and at peace I felt. I bought a new Manduka mat to get myself started.

17. Get a raise. I wish this one didn’t sound so impossible. I have taken on even more responsibility at work, but still with no compensation. I know I work for a non-profit, but I need to grow a pair of balls and demand that my work receive an appropriate value.

18. Pay off my credit cards and keep them paid off. The eternal battle. It seems I have carried a balance on one of my cards for the last five years. I would like to be more financially solid and paying off my debt is one of the first steps.

19. Go to an awesome festival. Ry and I went to Lollapalooza in Chicago almost three years ago and it was one of the coolest experiences ever. Another music fest like Coachella or SXSW or maybe a badass world-renowned beer fest would be so amazing.

20. Travel alone. Go somewhere all alone, turn off my phone, find myself. Not that I’m lost or need to do some soul searching, but I think people now-a-days, including myself, don’t know how to just be. Where should I go?

I’m developing a pretty lofty list here! Do you have a bucket list? Or suggestions to add to mine?

– C

30 Before 30: Dirty Thirty Bucket List Update

Before I get started, is anyone else having technical issues with WordPress? I already wrote my next ten bucket list items and scheduled to publish the post while I was on vacation last week, yet it’s as if it never existed. No post made, not in the drafts folder- just completely gone. I’m more than a little frustrated since I put a lot of time and thought into the next installment of my list.

Anyway…

Since posting my first 30 Before 30 posting a few months ago, I managed to tick another item off of my agenda!

5. Get a new tattoo.

In fact, I got two. After years of waiting, I finally put my favorite quote on my rib cage. You know, the one where my blog title comes from. 🙂 PS- don’t mind the tiny bit of blood on my fresh ink.

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“Fears are paper tigers.” – Amelia Earhart

I also added a beautiful skeleton key outline to my inner bicep. The bit is shaped like a puzzle piece as a reminder when working with my students with Autism to unlock their voices.

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If you are ever in Upstate New York and want a badass tattoo, the artists at Dead President’s Lounge will do an amazing job. Mine and Ryan’s were both done by Krystal in November and I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out (he got a sick half sleeve). I love my new art and was so excited to show it off while wearing my bikini on vacation last week!

Do you have any tattoos? What do they mean to you?

– C

Adventures in Speech Language Pathology Part II: Losing My Hair (Literally)

Attempt #2 here since WordPress only published half of my post earlier this week…

After a co-worker became pregnant this summer, I oh-so-kindly took on one of her more aggressive students. Now, if you are reading this from purely a “typical” school background, let me clarify. Aggressive in the world of working with students with ASD is not slamming doors or kicking desks. Some of our students engage in some pretty seriously violent behavior. Please let me stress, some. 

I digress. I began working with this student during our summer session and rarely had to deal with anything more than a tantrum that involved a few attempted punches. Still, he was not safe for Miss Preggo-Eggo. Once fall began, his behaviors greatly escalated and I learned some ninja-style blocking maneuvers pretty quickly to save my face. It became a regular occurrence to address no speech goals and only work on behavior management.

Fast forward three weeks into school and I’m having a speech session in this student’s classroom because I was warned he was having an off day and I probably don’t want to be alone with him. It’s going great! He’s listening to directions, he’s interacting appropriately with peers, he’s imitating target sounds… he’s jerking my head toward the ground by my hair.

“BANANA!!!!” Sounds like a weird thing to yell, I know, but this is our school’s code word for “Give me some freaking help NOW!”

Would really be great if all the staff were aware of this.

A somewhat new TA is only about 2 feet away, but it takes me shouting “banana” two more times and finally “help!” to get anyone’s attention. While my student’s vice grip on my hair is pried open by three adults, his expression remains disturbingly placid.

Finally, release. I retreat to my office to hide and take a moment to cry in peace. Then, I pulled myself together and returned to treatment sessions for the remainder of the day.

As the day progressed, the burning sensation faded and severe pain in my neck and back set in. An urgent care visit, X-rays, and orthopedic visit concluded that I had sprained my neck and had “one of worst cases of whiplash” the doctor had ever seen.

This would send most people running from their jobs and, truthfully, I wanted to for a time; however, I can’t do that to my kids. Some days are so overwhelming and intense that it would be much easier to quit and be an SLP somewhere else, but then there are days where I hear a five year old child speak for the first time and know that I had a small part in making that happen. Somehow, the tiny accomplishments every day make all of the pain worth it.

Can’t Get You Out of My Head…

I haven’t blogged in about six months. WordPress, you’ve been on my mind. This makes sense because today when I logged in, I was greeted with a “Happy Anniversary” notification. Wow, it has been a year since I started sharing my thoughts with the interwebz (and I was inactive for about half of that *cringe*).

I regularly receive email updates when some of the ladies and gents I love to read post and constantly remind myself to find some time to write. I worry about staying on one topic, making my post flow- just making something that people want to read. Today I’m feeling like I need to not let that stress me out. After all, this is supposed to be a form of release for me; an uncensored outlet for my mind. Right now my mind is overflowing and could really use a purge.

Hopefully over my next few posts I can really blow off some steam and not worry about the little nuances of writing. I would like to: finish my 30 Before 30 post; issue a new, not so funny, Adventure in Speech Language Pathology; update my fitness goals; and brag about my badass vacation coming up.

Stay Tuned.

– C

30 Before 30: First Installment of the Dirty Thirty Bucket List

A couple of months ago I posted about my quarter life crisis and came up with the idea to make a list of 30 things I want to do or achieve before I reach 30 years old.

To start the list off with a bang, I decided to become a redhead.

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So that was number 1- Go bold.

I hadn’t officially published any other goals then, but #2 on my imaginary list has since been achieved.  For now, let’s start off with 1 through 10.

  1. Ditch my lifeless brown locks and go for a bold color. See my quarter life crisis for a before and after photo.
  2. Get a promotion at work Title change to Speech Department Supervisor, but no raise. Oh, and I had to let someone go my second week as boss lady. Not as exciting as it sounds.
  3. Take a cooking class. You all know I love to cook and if you’ve read my recent posts you know I once dreamed of living in a patisserie in Paris and getting fat. I NEED to know how to make a croissant like the French.
  4. Go back to Europe. Speaking of croissants…So much culture. So much food.
  5. Get a new tattoo. I’ve had only one for 7 years and brainstormed ideas for many others, but just never seem to get it done. Time to be like Nike and Just Do It.
  6. Gamble in Vegas, baby! It just seems to be one of those places you have to visit before popping out any little munchkins.vegas-baby-vegas
  7. Marry the love of my life. We’ve been together three years and signed a 30 year mortgage together. Might as well get hitched, too!
  8. Swim with dolphins. Could be a honeymoon activity. Right, Ryan? *hint hint, nudge nudge*
  9. Decorate the office/den. It’s a pretty boring catch-all room right now. Doesn’t exactly give me loads of blogging inspiration.

    See? In serious need of some decorating!

    See? In serious need of some decorating!

  10. Have a stand at a craft fair. Fun fact: I make jewelry. I would love to sell my creations, but I usually end up keeping or giving away as gifts everything I make.
    Bracelets I made for all of the bridesmaids in my little sister's wedding.

    Bracelets I made for all of the bridesmaids in my little sister’s wedding.

     

Now that I’ve started the list I hope it helps motivate me to actually start checking things off! What’s on your bucket list?

– C

 

 

Back in the Saddle

So, it’s been almost two whole months since I posted about my quarter life crisis. It wasn’t a conscious decision to take a break, but for some reason I kept putting it off. I brainstormed randomly and had some ideas for posts; I just never got around to it.

Shortly after I went off the deep end and dyed my hair red, things got hectic at work and with life. Each weekend was booked with something- weddings, birthday parties, holidays, etc- and I left work exhausted every afternoon over an hour later than my salary allots (no, I don’t get overtime). This combination left me drained and more willing to vedge out rather than spill my guts on the internet. So, I did a whole lot of sitting on the couch and watching trash television.To sum up my hiatus, I’m feeling rejuvenated!

Some memorable moments from my time away:

I was blessed to be maid-of-honor and witness my little sister marrying her high school sweetheart a couple of weeks back. Their pure and all encompassing love for one another is truly beautiful and such an inspiration. Watching them grin at each other after exchanging rings was probably one of the sweetest moments I have ever witnessed. They are now happily nesting in their first apartment together about 90 miles from my parents.

A two-week vacation from work allowed me to get in touch with my green thumb and begin creating a garden at the new house. I also spent quite some time watching Netflix!

Last weekend, I made a quick trip to my hometown to see several amazing people. First, my good friend Cassie who is a gypsy at heart and has lived on both coasts. Now she is primarily in Cali, but happened to be home so I HAD to go see her and enjoy some good ol’ country line dancing while there. Then, I helped my sister “P” load her 16′ moving van to send her off to Cleveland. Now there is even more distance between us. Finally, my good friend Heather celebrated her quarter life birthday with a hibachi dinner and spilled sake bombs.

This weekend, a friend from high school is getting married and I can’t wait to be there for their special moment. I have trips planned to Rhode Island, NYC, and Washington DC still to come. It’s becoming a summer filled with love, friends, and family. How much more perfect could you get?

I promise to post again soon- maybe with my actual 30 before 30 list 🙂

– C

Quarter Life Crisis?

For the past few months, I have been having urges to make big changes in my life. I almost got impulsive tattoos a few times, seriously contemplated career changes, and tried several new things. After realizing that this is a trend I have been on, I dubbed this my year to have a quarter life crisis.

It’s incredibly common to experience mid life crises and do something drastic like buy a sports car. Hell, my dad did it last year; he randomly went and bought himself a BMW Z4. While the new whip is a fun drive, it affirms the notion that this is not unusual. Hitting that period in your life when you’re an “empty nester,” have worked hard for many years, and are suddenly seeing how short your future may be sounds absolutely terrifying. No wonder we make big changes in our lives at that point! Buying a car certainly is healthier and safer than doing something like going on a drug and alcohol bender to deal with your fears.

Now, I am not mid-life nor forseeing a short future for myself, but I am certainly at a pivotal moment in my life. I am a young professional who is mourning the loss of my early twenties when acting crazy and irresponsible was not only allowed, but expected. Here I am, wishing I had taken advantage of that brief period of my life and done something crazy.

Maybe I should have moved to Paris, lived in a patisserie, and gotten fat like I wanted to three years ago.

Maybe I shouldn’t have listened to my dad when he said “no” and gotten my nose pierced anyway.

Really and truly, I am happy with where I ended up in my life. I certainly did some ridiculous things in my early twenties and managed to keep up with my studies. In fact, looking back, it’s pretty spectacular that I survived the college years at all with some of the dumb decisions I made. Yet, I pulled it together and somehow made it here. A few months shy of 25, in a wonderful relationship, a homeowner, and mother to three fur-babies.

So, why am I still experiencing this urge to do something major?? Sadly, I don’t have an answer and will continue self-reflection until I find some peace with myself. I’ve decided to start a sort of bucket list, 30 Things Before 30, if you will. And I already started!

Here’s #1: Ditch my lifeless brown locks and go for a bold color.

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So now I’m a spicy redhead! Making changes feels good- maybe this quarter life crisis isn’t  such a bad thing…

– C