I confess…

I couldn’t figure out what to write about today so I posed the question on Facebook to see if anyone had any ideas to inspire me.

Wait. That’s not entirely true. I had one idea but my pride told me not to go there. So naturally I listened.

But the idea that was given to me on Facebook was eerily connected to that pesky topic that’s been buzzing around my head all morning (that I really did not want to share with the public). But I guess I’ll take the risk.

So the idea was this: How does life speak to you? And are you listening? 

I woke up early Monday morning and planned to get some emailing and blogging done before work. When I tried to get on the internet however, I could not connect. Confused, I restarted the computer and tried again to no avail.

So I left for work and assumed that with the storm over the weekend maybe we were having connection issues (albeit delayed). That night Jake tried to get on and it still wasn’t working. He called Time Warner and was only able to get through to an automated system which didn’t help to get us connected. We were both confused and decided that he would call again in the morning to see what was up.

The next day, about mid-morning, I got a call from my hubby. He told me I was really lucky that he loved me. I didn’t understand what he was getting at so I replied yes, yes I am. He then asked if I had any idea what was wrong with the internet at home to which I said that I had no idea.

Turns out, I HAD NOT PAID THE BILL!

This still irks me in every part of my being. Granted, we did move and I assumed our automatic bill pay feature would move with us to the new address. Apparently not. But still, it’s not like me to just assume without double checking.

I am known as the organized, financially savvy one in the family. In fact, just last week at small group we went around the room and each couple said something they admired about one another. Jake said he loves how organized I am and how well I manage our finances.

So, what was my problem?!

I can be a bit ditzy at times but not like this. I am the girl with the excel spreadsheet detailing all of our bills, when they’re due and when I paid them on a monthly basis. I check our bank balance daily and think about money an abnormally frequent amount. This was so odd.

Going back to the original question though… it was a wake up call. As my mom used to tell me in high school, sometimes my head is in the clouds and I need things like this to ground me again.

With all of the potential changes and uncertainty in our lives right now, along with some more immediate personal decisions I am trying to make, my mind has been all over the place.

I believe that when a series of incidences like this occur they can be used to pull us out of whatever haze we are in and add a dose of clarity to our lives. The puzzle pieces of my life are painting a picture of a girl who’s overwhelmed. Not unhappy, not angry, not depressed… just frazzled. I don’t necessarily feel like it (not in the way I did last Saturday at least) but clearly I’m not quite as together as I usually am (or that I’d like to be). 

So, just like back in January when I went through a similar season (Slow Down and Listen), I am going to take some deep breaths, make a list, remember the 6 on, 1 off routine and re-focus.

Listen… what is life saying to you?

What are your core values?

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Our small group is currently going through an 8-week series where each week we discuss practical life application topics. Marriage and finances among other relevant topics will all be discussed in the coming weeks.

Currently, we are trying to determine our life vision and purpose. Knowing our core values is so important because if we don’t know what we stand for, we may be tempted to veer off in directions that ultimately leave us unfulfilled.

Our exercise yesterday was to write down two things:

1) What angers us.

2) What we love.

For example, if you get angry when people are not trustworthy, one of your core values is probably honesty and truth. If you are angered by flakiness, one of your core values is most likely responsibility.

Then consider what you love. Do you love not having to worry about paying the bills? You may value security. Do you put your family and friends above all else? You probably value relationships most.

I found this exercise incredibly enlightening and was able to narrow down my values to a few key areas:

1) Honesty/authenticity

2) Security

3) Relationships

Give it a try! What angers you most? What do you love? What core values do you stand for?

Day 21 – Famous last words…

Some final thoughts for Gen Yers!

Having trouble figuring out what you really want out of life? And even more important sometimes, what you don’t want?

  • Here’s an exercise for you: Want-Don’t Want Exercise
  • This will only take you 15 minutes to complete!
  • Spend 5 minutes writing “What I want…”
  • Spend 5 minutes writing “What I don’t want…”
  • Spend 5 minutes writing “What I want…” again
  • Write whatever comes to mind. Do not hold back! If you want to discuss your list with someone after feel free to Contact Me or another Life Coach/Therapist

Not sure what career you’re interested in?

  • Ask a friend (or family member but remember, family perspectives tend to be more biased) what they can picture you doing for a career
  • Make a list of everything you are interested in
  • Make a list of the skills you have developed throughout your life
  • Write down your dominant personality traits. Check out these posts on personality to find out if you’re an introvert or an extrovert etc. E or I?Additional Info.E/I Follow Up.

Thinking about taking some major steps in your life but having trouble actually moving forward?

  • Check out this template, created by Jenny Blake: 10 Questions to Help You Stop Thinking and Start Doing.
  • Jenny Blake’s website is called Life After College and it is an awesome resource!!! I highly encourage you to check it out. She has a bunch of templates which will allow you to do some life coaching on yourself. She also has a fabulous blog on all kinds of relevant topics (work, relationships etc.) and has even published a book geared specifically  for 20-somethings! Take a look and enjoy her site!

Recommended books for 20-somethings:

Each of the above authors also have great websites I would highly encourage you to check out, in addition to Stratejoy which I have referenced before.

Hope this series has been helpful and that you 20-Somethings feel less alone in your struggles. They are totally normal and conquerable!

Contact me if you have any questions or comment below!

Day 20 – Dear 20-something Angela…

 

First of all, you are fabulous just as you are! Don’t try to change for anyone else. It’s not worth it. The people that are worth knowing will stick around and love you for you… not because you’re who they want you to be.

You have a lot to offer the world. You are passionate, loving, loyal and you have developed skills throughout the years that you will use, even if in a different way than you imagine. Don’t take any moment for granted. Be grateful for where God has you today. Don’t wish away your single years. Sure, you want to get married but don’t rush into anything. Wait for the right guy. As they say, “It’s better to be single your whole life than marry the wrong guy.” Don’t settle for anything less than the one who is perfect for you. (Not perfect! But perfect for you)!

Don’t let fears about money hold you back. Yes, money is important and debt can trap you. But remember to have fun too. Don’t be so stressed out that you skip out on opportunities to make memories you’ll cherish forever!

Realize that change is okay. Don’t be afraid to let go of things that aren’t healthy and move on with your life. Don’t settle for comfort and security and avoid taking risks that could lead to bigger and better things. Be open.

Say no if you’re overextended. Protect yourself so you can be more effective in all areas of your life. Be the best you can be with a few friends and in a few situations rather than trying to be superwoman in all situations. Choose carefully. You only have one life to live so make it the best life, not simply a good life.

Allow yourself to let go. Don’t fear losing control. Trust others. Let them in.

Love God above all else. Treat yourself kindly. Approach life with passion and purpose.

Have fun!

Love,

30-something Angela :)

What kind of advice would you give your old self?

Day 19 – “Cockpit Parenting”

I came across this article in my research about parent/adult child dynamics and found it interesting. It is a good way to continue yesterday’s conversation about our family relationships and specifically addresses how a particular style of parenting (known as “cockpit parenting”) shapes us. Written by Christine Hassler (who also authored 20-Something, 20-Everything: A Quarter-life Woman’s Guide to Balance and Direction and 20 Something Manifesto: Quarter-Lifers Speak Out About Who They Are, What They Want, and How to Get It), this is a great article for parents to read but will also provide understanding for the Gen Yers into the adult they’ve become and possible reasons why. Here is the article:

Cockpit Parents: How They’re Flying 20-Somethings into the Ground

There are some other great resources out there to learn more about why you relate to your family the way you do and how to improve those relationships.

For parents:

Parenting From the Inside Out

Boundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children

Raising Great Kids Workbook for Parents of School-Age Children

Boundaries with Teens: When to Say Yes, How to Say No

 

For Gen Yers (or anyone else with parents!):

Unlocking Your Family Patterns: Finding Freedom From a Hurtful Past

The Mom Factor: Dealing With the Mother You Have, Didn’t Have, or Still Contend With

Adult Children Secrets of Dysfunctional Families: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families

An Adult Child’s Guide to What’s ‘Normal’

Day 18 – How to have an adult relationship with your parents

One of the hardest realities to face and deal with as a 20-something is the fact that family dynamics inevitably change. And although it’s actually quite healthy, it can be excruciatingly painful too.

When I was in my 20’s I faced the harsh fact that I was way too dependent on my parents. I struggled to make any decision for myself and when I did, just knowing that they may disagree ripped me apart inside. I’ll never forget when I started realizing that I wanted to leave my cushy job in the entertainment industry. My parents didn’t think I should and it took everything in me to try and convince them it was a good decision. I’ll never forget sitting at my computer one weekend and typing out a long letter trying to explain how I felt and going on and on about all the reasons that leaving would be a wise choice. I was never able to convince them and it really caused a rift in our relationship for a while.

What I now realize is that although I still, at age 32, love to make them proud (and especially love to make decisions they agree with), I still have to follow my own path. Not only is the world different than it was when they were my age, but I am also a totally different person with different goals, dreams and plans for the future. I will never be satisfied simply trying to please them 24/7. No one can be happy trying to live out someone else’s expectations!

There are so many ways we can deal with these kinds of disagreements and varying perspectives. We can totally cutoff our parents and move across the country (or world) vowing never to speak to them again! Or, we can remain close (physically and emotionally), consulting them as we take each step and ensuring that their agreement and support follow us wherever we go. Or a third option, and the hardest might I add, is to remain in close contact with our parents and yet continue to separate to the degree that we can confidently make our own choices in life. Like I said, this is much easier said than done.

We need to be able to recognize the value our parents add to our lives…

To begin with, you know the whole “with age comes wisdom” concept? Well, there’s some truth to that! Picture a big sheet of paper taped up to a wall. On the paper is a timeline drawn horizontally stretching from one end to the other. We all have the ability to see just a portion of the paper; up to our own age but not beyond that. Our parents have some years on us and therefore a broader perspective on life’s timeline. We can learn a lot from them.

They have a vested interest in our success and happiness. I don’t have children yet but I know many people who do. From what I can gather, the second you see your child you love them. They do nothing at first (besides, eat, sleep and poop). They have nothing to give or offer the world; it’s just take, take, take. And yet, they are deeply loved. Our parents have known and loved us since birth. Although they may disagree with us at times, they want to see us happy.

All that to say, as we change, our relationships evolve as well. We don’t have the same needs as we did when we were children. We have the capacity to give, share and contribute. If we can learn to adapt to these changes, we’ll develop a whole new kind of relationship with our parents… an adult relationship.

How do you adapt?

1) Speak your mind, from one adult to another. Don’t yell. Don’t stomp your feet (a personal favorite of mine as a kid). Don’t slam the door as you leave. Speak to your parents as you would any other adult in your life. Describe how you’re feeling and listen to their point-of-view.

2) Be patient. Your parents will always be our parents. They spent considerably more time giving you advice than not, so cut them some slack! They need to adjust too!

3) If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one! Don’t expect your parents to give you money or do your laundry for you. If they offer, that’s one thing; I think many parents enjoy helping their kids out. But don’t expect to be treated like an adult if you’re stilll acting like a teenager.

To read more about this new stage, check out USA Today article, “Adult Kids and Their Children: Handle With Care”. The author of the article interviews Jane Isay, who wrote the book Walking on Eggshells to help parents and adult children better understand each other. She offers some practical advice and explanations so that parents and adult children no longer feel so alone as they try to figure out what their relationship will look in this new stage.

** Quick Disclaimer: There are situations where it is actually healthier to separate from your family… at least for a period of time, if relational dynamics are having detrimental effects on your physical or emotional well-being. If you feel that might be the case for you, please contact me or another therapist/life coach to sort through what you’re experiencing.

Feel free to comment below!

Day 17 – How to Stop Living in the Past and Get on With your Life

The word nostalgia used to indicate a “sickness” or an unhealthy kind of yearning for the past. It comes from two Greek words which mean “returning home” and “pain” or “ache.” We now know that nostalgia is not all bad… remembering what has already taken place can stir up pleasant feelings and an appreciation for things past.

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The truly negative aspect of nostalgia is when you dwell… when you dwell to the point that you consistently feel depressed or lonely and these feelings ultimately keep you from experiencing life today. If you spend all your time reminiscing about college, high school, old friends, how great things used to be etc., you’re going to miss out on all the fun and adventure that’s to come in your future! And potentially experience even more emotional or physical problems related to stress.

The truth is… when you experience nostalgia, often what you remember is an idealistic view of what the past was like. Sure, there were good memories but when you find yourself stuck in that kind of mental time machine, be aware of the kind of lense you are looking through, as it may be more rose colored than clear.

How do you rid yourself of the desire to stay focused on the past?

1) Journal about your memories. Get them out of your head and onto the page.

2) Talk to friends or family about what you remember and ask them for feedback about whether you are remembering things accurately. Maybe they can remind you of the subtleties you’ve forgotten in order to paint a clearer picture of what actually happened. Bounce ideas off them and process why you’re having trouble letting go.

3) Mentally gear yourself up for the future. Think about the exciting times to come… new job opportunities, meeting new people, goals you’re trying to reach etc. It will be impossible  to move forward if you are stuck in the past. If, for some reason, you fear moving on with your life, I’d encourage you to see the counsel of a mentor, life coach or therapist. Life will become stagnant if you cannot find a way to move on. Work through your fears in order to experience freedom and hope for the future!

4) Put together a scrapbook or some kind of memory album so that your memories can be cherished and kept safe on the pages. One of the reasons we allow ourselves to continue in a state of nostalgia is because we are afraid we will forget the times and people that are important to us. Save these memories in a special way so that you can look back on them from time-to-time but no longer hold onto them inside.

The past may have some awesome highlights but the future will too. Allow yourself to embark on the next stage with an open mind.

Day 16 – Why it’s good to be Gen Y!

The young people of the new millennium are so much less predictable than the 20-somethings from back in the day. The days of getting married and having kids right out of college (or even high school) have passed and most people are embarking on careers they may or may not stick with, getting married and having kids later and most importantly, no longer waiting until mid-life to begin thinking about the deep issues of who they are and what they are truly passionate about. As I said at the beginning of the series… times have changed!

But for you, Gen Yers out there, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the confusion and inner turmoil you’re feeling and forget about the advantages you have that the previous generations did not. So let’s focus on the positive today and remember that even though this period is hard, you will pull out of it eventually as healthier and hopefully more fulfilled adults than some of those who have gone before us.

To begin with, I am pretty confident that the whole concept of a mid-life crisis is going to become obsolete. Think about it: one of the reasons people go through them is because they never asked the deeper, philosophical life questions at a younger age. We are asking them straight out of college which means that once we work through them, we can cross them off our life to-do list.

We have a lot more options than the older generations did. I mentioned this previously in the series but my mom said when she graduated from college she had three options of jobs to pursue… teacher, nurse or secretary. Now it’s like a whole world has opened up for young people and the options are endless! Higher education, work-from-home opportunities, technology jobs and more.

Speaking of all these opportunities, 20-somethings of today are more likely to end up loving their jobs (once they finally find the right one)! It is no longer taboo to change jobs from time-to-time (even laterally) in order to figure out the best fit.

We are far more advanced than earlier generations when it comes to technology and the ability to obtain new information. We are also able to multitask and maintain communication with tons of people using smart phones and social media.

Because of the breadth of knowledge available to us and the fact that higher education is more common, the younger generation is entering the work force with great confidence and passion.

Enjoy the stage you’re in because before you know it you will be settled down with a family and unable to be as “selfish” and independent. My husband and I are loving our “selfish period” because we can do what we want, pursue opportunities and just enjoy all that life has to offer. We look forward to starting a family one day but until then… we are loving the freedom of being young and full of energy! I hope you’ll do the same!

What else can you think of that we have in our favor as young peeps?

Day 15 – Not sure if you’re in the midst of a QLC?

Check out this list of 20 Signs You’re in a Quarterlife Crisis to find out if what you’re going through is in fact your average, everyday QLC! 

If you find that you are… check out Day 3 of this series for tips and resources.

 

Day 14 – Moving back home… good idea or wrong on every level?

The question of whether or not to move back in with your parents after college is one that many recent grads must face. In case you didn’t notice, the economy is not exactly booming right now. Not only is it taking longer to find jobs but even those that do find work often times aren’t making enough money to live on their own. It’s tough. You spend your entire childhood ramping up to this big moment of independence, when you graduate from college and can officially begin life on your own… but alas, you can’t afford to and have to move back home. You feel like you’re regressing. You’re afraid because moving back home could stir up all the old baggage you’ve been trying to move past the past four years.

So, what to do? What to do?

Well there is no easy answer here. If you accrued a ton of debt paying for college, moving home may be the only way to get on your feet. Or if you haven’t found a job yet. Or if you found one but can’t afford to get your own place. So what are your options?

Move Home

Share an apartment

Share a room within an apartment

Rent a room in someone’s home

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, we’re going to focus on option1… moving home. Let’s start with the pros… it’s certainly not all bad.

  • You’re comfortable there and can settled back into your old room.
  • Free washer/dryer access.
  • Free cable, electricity, internet etc.
  • Free food.

The cons…

  • Less independence.
  • Potentially falling back into old patterns of relating with the ‘rents.
  • Feeling like you’ve somehow failed because you’re back under your parent’s roof.

Yes, it can be hard but you’re not a failure just because you decided to move back home. In fact, you’re probably being wise. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be smooth sailing all the time. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Talk to your parents in advance about their expectations and let them know yours. If you move back in without making some decisions about how things are going to be, you will be more likely to fall back into old habits.
  2. Have a life outside of your family. You can continue grow in your independence if you pursue activities, work, relationships etc. outside your family.
  3. Set a goal date you would like to move out by. This will keep you on track with saving money and moving forward to the next stage in your life.

Even though moving home may not be your first choice, try to enjoy the time with your family while you have it. When you move out and eventually get married/start your own family, the relationship you have with your family of origin will change. So for now, try to appreciate each person and the unique relationship you have with them.

Additional thoughts? Leave them below!

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