Monday, March 28, 2011

Practical vs. Passionate?

Considering all of the hurdles I've experienced in my professional life since I graduated from University (almost) 3 years ago, career and lifestyle is something that I think (and talk) about a lot. It hasn't been on my mind as much lately since I have been experiencing a tad more stability the past month. However, after talking with my old boss about a possible new permanent job opportunity coming up, and reading this blog post, and various discussions with friends and family has brought the issue to the forefront of my mind again.

I think the eternal struggle (I say eternal because I think it's something most of us struggle with at some point or another and there is no easy answer to it so it won't really ever be "solved") when it comes to career is whether or not to choose a "practical" path or a "passionate" path. Should I base my career goals around obtaining employment that is stable, secure and predictable? Or should I base my career goals around pursuing a passion, i.e. building a career around an activity that fulfills me?

I have struggled with this as well. I've had moments when I have experienced regrets over the path(s) I chose and wonder how my life would be different today if I had taken different directions. I have always loved writing, but in a way I feel like sort of a "late-bloomer" - I didn't really realize how fully I enjoyed it, or that I even had any kind of talent for it, until I was in my 20's. I don't think I even fully realized that I could write AS a career! I didn't know you could make a living from writing blogs and articles, and offering copywriting and editing services! I sometimes wonder, if I had this knowledge back then, maybe I would be doing all or some of these things full-time now. Maybe I wouldn't have had the career struggles I have experienced. Not to mention wondering whether or not I'd actually have "what it takes" to be a full-time writer, or something else artistic.

But then I remember some of the other lessons that I've learned in the past few years. I have learned how much of a struggle it can be to run your own business, to work for yourself, to even get started. I have learned the value of job security (of knowing where you paycheque is coming from and knowing that it will come like clockwork every two weeks and it will be the same amount), of health benefits, of vacation and sick time. I have learned that I am not a very self-discplined person, and because of that I need to be accountable to someone else (a manager or team members) in order to meet deadlines in a productive manner. I have learned I enjoy having somewhere to "go" every day and a team to contribute to/collaborate with. I enjoy having a separate work and home life - I value my personal time and freedom, time with family and friends, and time to just "goof off", relax or go on little adventures - and I like knowing when exactly I can fit these things in.

Is the 9-5 routine boring sometimes? Of course. Is it sometimes frustrating not having complete control over your projects and dealing with the complicated bureaucracy that you have no control over? Of course. But the fact is, there are complications, bureaucracy and frustrations to any job whether you are your own boss or not. Whether you work for yourself or someone else, it's still a job. You are still working. To put it metaphorically, sure you could move to an exotic, exciting, faraway place (Paris, anyone?), but in the end you still need to pay bills, go grocery shopping and pay taxes.

In any case, a 9-5 job doesn't have to be boring. I have been fulfilled in some way by all of the jobs I've had and I have had some really fun, interesting experiences, projects to work on, and I've met amazing people. Sure, there have been things I haven't enjoyed too, but when it comes right down to it a job is what you make of it, and (as I mention in the previous paragraph) generally you cannot avoid the "shitty" side of working.

And when I really think about it, would I want to do something that I see as  a "fun hobby" for my job 24-7? I'm not so sure I would. I think what I like most about my creative hobbies is that I can indulge in them as much or as little as I want, and that I don't depend on them for anything other than personal pleasure. I like that I can submit 10 articles a month to publications, produce 20 drawings or paintings, or I can do NONE. It's all up to me and what makes me feel good. I think if I made my hobbies my "job", it would start to feel like just that to me - a "job". It would feel like work, not fun.

Further to that (according to another thing I've learned about myself), I don't really feel that I am passionate ENOUGH about any ONE thing to make it my full-time career. I have many passions -  or more specifically I have a little bit of passion for a bunch of different things, so it would be really tough for me to pick one thing, or to organize the motley bunch of passions that I have into some semblance of a career wherein I can actually pay my bills. I would end up working 5 little jobs, and that would stress me out even more than working one large one!

I'm not naive - I certainly see the benefits to being your own boss and doing what you love every day. Despite my caution about that type of lifestyle, there is still part of me that hasn't completely written off working for myself someDAY, or that isn't jealous of the bloggers I follow and their super-successful businesses. But the fact is, you never see the whole story of someone's life, only the parts they choose to share, and for that reason you should never use others' success and passion as a meter stick for your own.

What works for one person may not work for you - and I'm slowly coming to the realization that, for me, that's OK. I don't have to turn my writing or my art into a full-time career in order to feel accomplished. 9-5 may  not be for everyone, but for me the benefits far outweigh the frustrations. It's not about being "superwoman" or being "like

Who knows what the future will bring (yet another lesson I have learned), so who knows if I'll feel this way forever, or have the luxury of a secure 9-5 forever (probably not). But this is what I want right now. I'm quite happy with my practical career choice, and leaving my hobbies to indulge in at home when I have time. The fact is, if you are living the life that you want right now and that works best for you right now, you ARE living your passion - whether you are doing it in a cubicle in an office tower, or on a computer in your home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This I Know For Sure

On this Friday, I felt I should share some of the important lessons I have learned in my few years on this earth (this isn't counting the years I was on my home planet, of course). Expect your mind to blown all over the entire room after reading these little nuggets of wisdom (don't say I didn't warn you).

A few things I know for sure (or that I'm at least pretty sure about):
* They don't make movies or music like they used to (at least not the ones that are mainstream)
* I honestly have no idea what I did before Internet (but I'm pretty sure I lived in a cave and rubbed sticks together to make fire)
* Cat love never fails to cheer me up (and I want to adopt another cat right now so bad I can taste it! Well, not taste the cat I mean. It's an expression. Can you imagine? Blech)
* Being short is actually kind of awesome - I never have to worry about leg or head room! WORD!
* Whoever invented dessert was an extremely smart person whom I love unconditionally (diddo for those that invented coffeemakers, rice cookers, shoe racks, coloured pencils, firefighter calendars, and BLOGGING!)
* Women make amazing bosses and mentors (I should know, I've only had female bosses, including my mom - though in reality she's not my boss, I just let her think she is)
* You get back what you put in (and that goes for EVERYTHING in life), no matter how bad things get there is ALWAYS someone who is worse off, and things always eventually work themselves out
* I am a very lucky person in many ways and should remember that more often
* I hate winter. And running. And running in winter.
* Politics is essentially playground mud-slinging transferred to adults in suits (with egos the size of Antarctica)
* I can watch the same Friends episodes about 5,467 times and still laugh out loud at the jokes
*I will never marry Kevin Spacey, except in my dreams (still holding out hope for Prince Harry though!!)
* Speaking of the Prince, Will and Kate are a very cute couple but if I hear one.more.effing.word. about their wedding I'm going to go over to England and bomb Westminster Abbey (I think this gem was the last straw for me)
* There are a lot of beautiful things happening in the world, we just have to look for them
* I think there is a significant hole in the ozone just from the Post-Its and pieces of note paper that I use on a daily basis
*I like washing dishes. There, I said it. And, yes, I know I'm weird but thanks for reminding me
* I can't wait to visit Ottawa and Montreal in May - wanderlust is killing me!

And last but not least...
*...I can't wait for the weekend!! I have my mom's car all weekend since she's out of town, which is awesome! Tonight I'll be having a relaxing supper with my sister than going out to a club with some friends and the boy, tomorrow brings laundry, hopefully a call with my bff in Alberta, hiking, dropping my sister at a dance, and having a movie night with the boy. Sunday probably brings more laundry and some other "housekeeping". Not super exciting, but not too shabby either!

What do YOU know for sure? What are you up to this WEEKEND? (it's ok if you have to gather the pieces of your blown brain and put them back in before you answer)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spread a Little Love

After watching this video on Rock n Roll Bride (which is an awesome blog that you should check out if you haven't already - even if you're not getting married anytime soon), I just had to share it:

n'tima & steven from madeulookphotography on Vimeo.

I'm not normally a romantic, sappy person but this video and this couple's story just melted my heart. You can just feel so much love between them and from everyone around them. You know when you just get that "vibe" from a couple, like they are so connected and have so much admiration and respect for one another?

Perhaps it's so heartwarming to see because it's so rare. Or is it around us all the time and we just don't see it? I'm not sure. One of those mysteries of life, I guess. Maybe it's because I'm a bit in love myself at the moment, but this video just made me think a lot about how much love there is in the world and how we should all embrace it. I don't think we notice it or embrace it enough in general. Probably a lot of people are like me and are almost afraid to embrace love too much in case it is taken away. I've had the love rug pulled out from under me enough times before that I have developed a cynical shell and also a fear of giving myself fully to loving others, I'm sorry to say. It's something I'm working on and I suppose a lot of us are, but I think perhaps many of us (me included) can do better.*

I'm not advocating we all go out and hug trees walk around in a "love bubble" where everything is rosy all the time (that's just not realistic, and lets be honest, weird) but it can't hurt to push ourselves a TINY bit outside of our comfort zones in terms of giving (and receiving) love. And I mean TINY: pay compliments when they are due, say thank-you, smile at people, give a loved one a hug just because you feel like it, pay for the order of someone behind you in a drive-thru (I did that the other day and it felt great!), make a donation, and tell the people you love that you love them. These are such small gestures, but for some reason they are sometimes extremely  hard to remember to do, or even if we remember to do it, the fear of saying the words keeps us mum.

(Think about it: If someone you love died tomorrow, would you be more depressed that you DID tell them how you felt, or that you DIDN'T. Kind of a no-brainer when you think of it that way, ain't it? Trust me, I have been in this situation and there is nothing worse than never having had closure with someone before they are gone).

It's been proven that the more love you give out, the more you get back (ok, I suppose this is slightly cliched, but cliches are such for a reason) so today (and tomorrow and the next day), give out a tiny bit more love than you normally do. Just try it and see what happens.

You never know! I figure even if it makes me feel half as good as I do watching this video, than the experiment will have been completely worth it.

*By the way, I Love you Blog. I don't say that enough. This video was also timely for me because I've been thinking about telling a certain person about my feelings but I've been too chicken-shit to do it yet. I think I might have convinced myself to just go ahead and do it - what's the worst that could happen?!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Life is Good. That is All.

Life is good right now. I don't mean to brag, and I also don't mean to sound like a hippy-dippy tree-hugger or something. I just feel good about my life right now.

Here are some of the reasons why:

* I've been a member of Weight Watchers for approx. 2.5 weeks now and I've lost a total of 4lbs. Now 4 lbs isn't a huge amount of weight, but it's great for only 2 weeks. Plus, the thing that I love the most about this program is how accountable it has made me. It has completely changed my mindset in terms of what I eat and when. Once I started recording my food, it's like someone propped my eyes open with toothpicks because I realized up until that point I was eating WAY more and of WAY worse stuff than I realized! It boggled my mind how much of a mindless eater I am, and how few nutrients I was actually getting on a daily basis. I have also realized that the IDEA of a healthy lifestyle is scarier than actually living a healthy lifestyle - I was so worried before I started that I'd be starving all the time, would never be able to eat out or treat myself, and that I would generally be miserable and want to naw my own arm off after 4 days. However it's the complete opposite! I CAN have that cookie or that piece of pizza; I CAN go out with friends. It's all about moderation and portions and planning. Anyway, I won't go on and on (because I could, trust me) but suffice to say I'm finding this new healthy eating plan really great for me and I'm already feeling better about how my body feels and looks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed to meet my 1st goal (5% of my weight, or approx. 9lbs) by the end of this month!

* I'm really enjoying my new job - I'm not sure if I have explained my recent career change on this blog, but basically I've been temping since September while I try to find a permanent position and it's been a tough slog. I won't go into all the details here, but suffice to say I worked an admin assistant position that I really didn't like (but unfortunately was my only/best choice at the time), that is I worked there until about mid-February when I was let go because they filled my position permanently. However, it worked out for the best because my temp agency (which is amazing by the way!!) found me another position at the University in a different department and doing work which is actually related to my degree and activities that I really enjoy. I'm still temping for now, but the job will be reposted in the next few months and I'll have the opportunity to apply. For now, I'm just trying my darndest to work really hard and prove myself because this is a really great opportunity I don't want to miss! So, I've been here now approx. 3 weeks and I can already see myself working here long-term. I'm currently assisting with planning a major Conference taking place the end of April so I'm quite busy with that (and slightly stressed!) but I'm learning SO much. I'm really excited to see where this opportunity takes me in the next few months...stay tuned!

* I have been spending more and more time with my lovely boy. I don't like to get too personal on here, but what I will say is that we have a lot of fun together and he is very sweet. We love to go on little adventures, like road trips and taking in events around town. He's great for my weight loss too because he really enjoys hiking as well so we've been going on hikes every weekend for at least 2 hours! Now that it's warming up here, we are able to stay out longer and go on more trails since they are not all snowed in. He has also turned me onto Geocaching, which I'm sort of becoming addicted to. If you have never heard of it or tried it, check out the website - it's a lot of fun and a great way to get outside for some fresh air and to explore the city/town/province/state where you live. We have found so many little hidden gems around Nova Scotia and Halifax that I had no idea existed (and I've lived here my whole life! Hello!). It's a HUGE pastime - I had no idea how many people were into it and that they are so serious about it. If you like to travel and explore and be outdoors, give it a try! If you do, add me as a friend (my username is shortfuuse).

* I've been generally trying to focus more on myself and my personal life lately - I gave up some extracurriculars in order to have more time, both to spend with myself and with others. I have been trying to spend more "me" time, either just relaxing, or doing activities I enjoy like painting and drawing (I've been trying to tap into my creative side more as it's been neglected a lot in recent years and I really miss it). I've also been making an effort to spend more time with my sister and keeping in touch with friends. This has been quite successful and I know it's made me feel more positive and fulfilled. This is still a work-in-progress, but my efforts so far have really made a difference.

So, that's what I've been up to. Like I said, life is good! I think it's important for all of us to re-evaluate our lives once in a while ; to ask ourselves what's working and what's not and try our best to weed out the things that aren't working and replace them with other things that would benefit more from our time and efforts. We are all guilty of spreading ourselves to thin at times, and over the wrong things. Having a million hobbies and obligations doesn't necessarily mean you're a more accomplished and happier person. Sometimes having less external "projects" on your plate is better because it allows you to focus on more important things (like relationships).

Thanks for sticking with me, y'all! I told you I'd be back didn't I? I never make a promise I can't keep! **

What is new in your life??

*Seriously, if you are trying to lose weight and can't find anything to work for you (and you haven't tried it already), TRY Weight Watchers! Know what the best part is? If you sign up for the Online option, you get a whole online profile that's similar to Facebook and a Blog! I'm blogging about my experience here (not sure if the link will work for non-members but give it a try and let me know). LOVE IT!!

**I have to say I've missed this little ol' blog of mine. I have been keeping up with others' posts and reading their blogs has made me nostalgic for mine. I miss having it as an outlet for my opinions and thoughts, and I miss connecting with other writers through my comments and discussions on places such as 20-Something-Bloggers. 
I guess I felt weird about coming back all of a sudden after being gone so long, but then I realized it's my blog and I can do what I want with it. Besides, that's one of the great things about blogging - you can do it as much or as little as you want! Since I've missed it and I've cleared out some of the mental clutter I discussed here, I decided it's a good time to get back into it. I'm just going to post when I feel like it and not put too much pressure on myself. This is kind of the way I'm living my whole life right now - I'm feeling very easygoing and positive - I've made a dent in some positive changes I've been meaning to tackle, and I'm feeling good about that and that good feeling is permeating throughout my life. I still have plans for this space that I may or may not tackle in the near future, but for now I'm just concerned with what makes me feel good, and no matter the format or agenda, it feels good to blog! So, that's what I'm gonna do!