He’s Not Losing Sleep Over You

You keep checking your phone.

It gets to the point you swear you felt it vibrate or you heard a sound, but it was in your head.

Finally…a text message.

Oh wait, it’s from your friend. She’s asking what your plans are for the night.

You’re excited to go out and hope a few drinks will clear your mind.

While you’re getting an outfit together and putting on your makeup, your eyes keep looking towards your phone.

*iPhone message tone*

You quickly grab your phone and check the messages. It’s your friend again letting you know she’s on her way to your place.

You start to get anxious.

*iPhone message tone*

Your heart races as you type in your password.

It’s still not HIM.

It’s another text from your friend telling you she’s about 10 minutes away.

You have a heavy feeling in your chest as you put the phone back down.

Thoughts start racing through your head.

“Is he busy?”

“Is he driving?”

“Maybe he’s taking a nap.”

“He’s still at work and can’t check his phone.”

You find yourself again digging a hole and filling it up with lame excuses.

Hate to break it you darling, he doesn’t care about you.

He probably saw your text and never bothered to reply back.

As you waste your time being anxious about getting a text back, he probably isn’t even thinking about you.

If this sounds familiar, you need to take a step back and evaluate your situation.

Why are you getting worked up about someone who hasn’t probably thought about you in the past few weeks?

Why are you relying on a text back to make you happy?

He doesn’t matter.

He’s a waste of time.

Stop wasting money on new outfits, new makeup, and getting your hair done.

He won’t notice because he doesn’t care.

Stop rearranging your schedule and going out of your way to make accommodations to see him.

He’s not doing the same for you.

Stop being nice to someone who doesn’t give you anything in return.

You’re just feeding their ego because you’re showing them that you want their attention.

Stop hooking up with that person in hopes that they’ll finally fall for you.

They’re using your body and being selfish.

They’re going to leave you laying in your bed questioning everything in life as they drive away from your place not thinking about you.

Stop letting him come over when you keep promising yourself you won’t talk to him anymore.

You’re hurting yourself.

You deserve to be taken out on a REAL date, given flowers, and told how beautiful you are.

Someone should be telling you how lucky they are to know you.

Someone should be holding you close and making you feel comforted.

Someone should be calling you to ask your about your day.

Someone should be bringing you up instead of making you feel down.

Someone shouldn’t hurt you or make you feel insecure.

That good person is out there but you’re too hung up on the wrong people.

Delete his number.

Block all his social media accounts.

Go find you someone that will treat you right.

I tried it…I paid for Tinder Plus and Bumble Boost.

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Bumble

I have a love/hate relationship for “dating” apps. I used to think they were a joke when they first came out when I was in college. Who needed to meet someone online when you were living on campus with 6,000 students in the Washington D.C. area? I met people easily being on a sports team, having friends in Greek life, and being super involved in college. Then I left that all behind including my college relationship and I was living in a brand new city two hours away.

My friends enabled me to download Tinder/OK Cupid/Coffee Meets Bagel/etc. They even swiped for me because I was so jaded about the whole idea of using those apps in the first place.

Fast forward to a year later.

Me: “I just bought Tinder Plus.”

Friend: “You’re joking right. You actually paid for Tinder”

You are probably thinking the exact same thing. Why would you pay for extra features on an app? The answer is simple…I was curious about the hype. One of my mottoes in life is “Don’t knock it until you try it.” I tried both Tinder Plus and Bumble Boost. Both have some fun features that come with the paid version.

Tinder Plus

Passport: This is the top reason why I decided to get Tinder Plus. You can set your location to anywhere in the world. I travel a lot for work for weeks at a time. Once I find out where I’m heading to next, I change my location and do a little recon. I first used this feature when I found out I was spending my summer in Augusta, Georgia. I didn’t know anyone there so it was a fun way to find some people to hang out with before I arrived.

Rewind: Ever see that cute guy or gal and you accidentally swiped left after swiping left for the last twenty people? You can rewind and go back to that person’s profile for a double take and swipe right.

Boost: You can make your profile go to the top of the queue. Your profile will get increased exposure and you’ll get a notification saying your profile is being seen by up to 10x the amount of people since your profile is showing up first. A boost lasts 30 minutes. You get one free boost a month.

Other features include hiding ads, extra “super likes”, unlimited swipes, hiding your age, and hiding your distance. I usually hide my distance when I change my location in Passport so I don’t confuse people.

Bumble Boost

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-The BeeLine: Between Tinder and Bumble’s paid features, this is my FAVORITE feature between both. I rarely swipe on Bumble anymore because the BeeLine shows you a list of people that already swiped right on you! Instant confidence boost right? The first time I used it, I had over 50 people who already swiped right on me and all I had to do was instantly match whoever I thought was interesting. Once you swipe that person back, it becomes an instant match.

Rematch: We’re all busy. Sometimes 24 hours in a day will go by in a blink of an eye. On Bumble, a match will expire in 24 hours if you don’t drop a line. Sometimes I’ll match with someone at night, and next thing you know it’s already 7:30PM the day. Now you can rematch all those expired matches.

Extend Time: Free users can only extend time for a match once a day. When you have Bumble Boost, you have unlimited times to extend a match. Feeling nervous about crafting the perfect opening line? Extend your match before it expires. I’ve never used this feature but some people have used it on me. It will send you a notification saying that the other person didn’t want to let you go! Again, confidence points am I right?

Have you tried Tinder Plus or Bumble Boost? Let me know what your experiences are!

 

Guest Post: The Hard Truths from a Reformed Roommate.

Chances are, if you attended a four-year institution and/or are a young professional establishing yourself in the real world, you have probably had a roommate. Either by happenstance, financial need, or mandatory placement, you were sharing a living space with a person less known than any third degree-separated friend; some even lucky enough to share a space with close friends. This was the ultimate test of friendship, and can either make or break relationships.

We can begin our review starting at the other night. I was sitting in bed, wide awake with the yammering, sorority girl laughs and chatter by my third roommate—my actual roommate’s girlfriend. With respect to details, this is his first time living on his own. I have been more than charitable in trying to help him live independently- how to properly clean, deal with the corporate lifestyle he got thrust into, write a check; even showing him how to cook – further, offering him some of my cooking to take with him to work or have for dinner (his cuisine is only microwavable meals and cereal—he’s 23).

I have even gone so far as to give him a slight discount on rent. Why? Because when I was transient and without a place to go, trying to figure things out, then later establishing myself, people helped me- and I was blessed to have a good group of friends that did so. (First piece of advice, folks- pay it forward).

Living with this man-child has been a true test of one’s forbearance:

  • Dish piles are left in the sink- not the dishwasher.
  • Spoiled food and unorganized clutter take up the fridge space.
  • No cleaning is done- not even offering to help me clean nor to contribute to buying cleaning supplies or necessities (paper products, toilet paper, Lysol, dish detergent etc).
  • I have become privy to his sexual escapades. Apparently this was the first time and to her “it was just natural” …I use quotes because they talk about this- on speaker phone, for all to hear, in GREAT detail- until all hours of the morning.
  • On weekends, I sometimes wake up to the entire kitchen trashed- including the use of my Waterford crystal glasses, given as a most generous gift- as if a ghostly fraternity had pledge weekend here.
  • Trash piles up and, despite valet trash service, he will text and ask when I am taking it out. Apparently, placing the bin outside for valet service to pick up at is a difficult- indeed, arduous- task. And the recycling? Despite having a recycling bin on the patio, it is left next to said trash bin- on the kitchen floor.

At the very least, he is paying his bills on time- which is all you can ask at minimum, I guess; the only tradeoff was coming home after working all day to playing Mom.

Now we have the third “roommate” who is just annoying as a he is- and is on the cusp of starting to use our laundry and basic utilities regularly. To clarify, if this is an emergency situation- I would have zero problem. Heck, when my Dad visits for a weekend during trips (an event given with a week’s notice), he does some laundry if need be.

So as I lay in bed, my ire drawing ever higher as it is now 2:30 am and I have to be up at 5 to get to the gym, have a solid breakfast and timely commute before rolling in to work at ten to 9, I reach over, grab my phone, and begin a text.

“I HAVE TO BE UP AT 5. KEEP IT THE HELL DOWN! “ is one thought that comes to mind, but that’s rude.

“Hey- can you please keep it down,” would suffice, but no emphasis on the blatant disregard for courtesy.

“I have to be up at 5 and am trying to sleep. If she could be please quiet down I would appreciate it.” Ah, there it is. Tact truly is a lost art.

Right before I hit send, I stop. I delete the whole thing.

You’re probably thinking “he just did all this bitching and finally gets to send the text message and doesn’t?! What a wimp!”

Her Fran Drescher laughs were drowned out as I lay gob smacked by the loud epiphany that opened the floodgates of memories and guilt – I was once that roommate.

Almost 4 years ago, I was living with two of my close friends, and one person that I had known from campus. I slacked off in my cleaning duties and left dishes piled up after cooking. Falling victim to the dangerous hookup culture, I would have wayward strangers over for relations that resulted in inconveniencing my roommates/friends at whatever hours of the night or morning. Our other roommate fumigated the lower level of the townhouse with marijuana, he even tried to sublet his room out, in blatant disregard of the lease. We had another roommate that would bring unnecessary drama and rude guests- of which I was guilty of also, at times- and would leave greasy, grimy food and materials out all over the counter.

At one point, I discovered that it is was quietly celebrated that I would be out of town; to be totally honest, I was not upset nor did I blame anyone other than me. In fact, I would have celebrated it too- because I do now when the manchild is away every other weekend.

It was no way to live, no way to treat friends, no way to act.

I have learned to forgive myself and atone by amending my life and ways. By the grace of God, I reconnected with one of the old roommates and closest of friends. With wounds healed and a bond resealed, we simply look back on this period- it could even be considered an era- and laugh.

Friends, until you’re really making bank and advancing yourself, you must accept the truth that the cost of independence sometimes comes with caveats at its inception. I can guarantee you, at some point, this newfound sense of freedom intersects with having a roommate. Recognize that two (or more) people occupy one living space. Be courteous, be kind, and be honest. Keep the drama outside; chances are, that person has something going on in their life and does not need your garbage flowing into their lot. Don’t feel bad sitting down and writing out a list of chores and dividing duties. Stay conscientious about utility usage and noise. Don’t feel bad about laying down the law with the lease either.

When in doubt, the Golden Rule is the sterling standard of human interaction action: treat others the way you want to be treated. We all fall short of this- what matters is how we rectify past actions, commit to ourselves to be better than we were, and exercise mercy abundantly- but also stand your ground (politely) if it becomes overbearing.

Communication, as DJ Khaled would advise, is a “major key” to enjoying your youthful independence and living peacefully with others.

-AMP

You’re Not a Choice.

That person that won’t text you back after you double/triple text and are left on “Read”

That person you keep sending Snapchats to but will only open and not reply…yet view your “stories”…

That person you keep asking to go on an actual date with but keeps bailing?

The person that keeps making date plans with you but never text you the day of.

That emotionally unavailable person yet claims they’re looking for relationship when you come across their Tinder/Bumble

That emotionally unavailable person that says they aren’t ready for a relationship but weeks later shows that they’re “in a relationship” on Facebook

That emotionally unavailable person that keeps you holding onto a piece of string hoping that your situation will turn into a relationship.

That person you keep trying to make plans with but they’re always “busy” but can post 100 second Snapchat stories with their friends and other possible love interests…

That person who is cheating on their girlfriend or boyfriend yet strings you along as a side piece.

That person who doesn’t know that you know they have a girlfriend/boyfriend but keeps lying to you and saying that they’re single.

That person that blames distance for your relationship falling apart.

That person that hates your friends or tries to keep you from seeing them.

That person that treats you like you’re just another one of his or her many choices.

That person that makes you feel bad for developing feelings for them.

That person that makes you feel crazy for being “too much” or “too emotional.”

That person that forces you to change your appearance by losing weight or your attire.

That person that makes you feel uncomfortable with your personal choices.

That person you do couple-y type activities with yet they leave you in the gray area.

That person that doesn’t show you respect.

That person that won’t give the same amount of effort you give.

That person who does not want to make you a priority.

STOP. LET. THEM. GO.

You owe it to yourself to treat yourself better. It’s called self-respect. You can’t control others but you can control how others make you feel. Don’t ever let someone think you are flawed for being a human being.

You’re beautiful. You’re intelligent. You are loved. You have a purpose in the world.

Stop finding validation in other people. You have to love yourself first. Your friends and family love you.

Be good to yourself. Treat yourself. Do what makes you happy.

-KC

Dear millennial, you are entitled to nothing

Dear Millennial,

You are entitled to nothing. Yes, I just said that. All I hear about is how millennials can’t afford homes, can’t buy cars, and can’t save any money. There are people out there making tens of thousands of dollars less than you that are married with a couple of kids, own a home, have two cars, and are paying their bills on time…and they even live in the SAME city or county as you.

I even have single friends who have bought homes, cars, pay off their student loans, have money to put away in their retirement, and still go on vacation.

Do you have to live in the most expensive zip code in your city where you are living paycheck to paycheck just to pay your rent because it’s where all the cool kids hang out at the cool bars?

OR

Could you live in a home with an affordable payment out in the suburbs, drive about 30 minutes to the metro, and add a little time to your commute in the morning?

Why are we constantly waiting on our bailout? You hated when the big banks got bailed out but you deserve one too because you’re behind on student loan payments?

“We want free school!”

“We deserve good jobs but don’t have the work experience…”

My favorite economics professor back in college said, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.”

Say it with me…there is no such thing as a free lunch!

If you want something, work for it. Take that job after college that may not be your dream job just to gain experience in something. Just because you didn’t get the job you wanted at your dream company or government agency doesn’t mean that you have to give up. Don’t be ashamed of taking two or three jobs! It means you are a responsible person and you want to live comfortably for yourself or your family.

Before you go off on me and tell me I’m hurting your feelings…let me give you some background information about my life.

Once upon a time, I was a “give me everything” millennial. I thought I deserved everything in the world because I had a college degree and a resume where I stretched out all my skills to fit the requirements on a job application. Newsflash! Debating in your international security class every Monday and writing 25 page papers on Benghazi does not count as work experience.

When I was a senior in college I applied to the CIA and I was deservingly denied. I thought everything I studied in my government and international classes and my conflict analysis and resolution classes went to waste…and I told myself I DESERVED that job. Nope…I didn’t. I’m sure some person with numerous years of actual work experience beat me out for every position I applied for. I thought job offers were going to be sent to my email everyday simply because I had a college degree. That is not reality…thus why the beauty of “recent graduate” jobs were created. They were created for you and me with minimal work experience so we could add real skills to our resumes later down the road. I picked a job that had nothing to do with my college degree and it has given me more than I could have dreamed of. I wish I could have told myself that it was going to be okay that I didn’t get what I wanted.

I am embarrassed to be associated with this group called “millennials.”

I took a job that pays less than the private sector because of its benefits, I pay my rent and bills, and I still have money for things I like to do. It’s all about give and take. You don’t need Starbucks everyday and you don’t need to go shopping every weekend. Understand what it’s like to live below your means even if you can afford it just to get a sense of how you spend your money.

I’m paying student loans off like most of you are. I don’t complain because I know that a college degree is needed to get a job these days. Do I cry when Sallie Mae comes knocking on my door? Nope. It’s all about what I have to sacrifice to be successful later on in life. I had the opportunity to go to college for free. When I was in high school I was offered a four-year Army ROTC scholarship that even included books and a monthly stipend. Too bad I was a snowflake during my freshman year in college and dropped it. I am definitely feeling the consequences of my actions, but instead of blaming the system, I blame myself. News flash #2: Society isn’t against you! Take some damn responsibility for your actions. If you want an affordable or free college education: go to community college for a few years, apply for scholarships, go to the college that offered you the most money (even if it wasn’t your first choice), do a work-study program, do really well at a sport or play an obscure sport (rowing!), and for the not so faint at heart…apply to a service academy, do ROTC, or enlist in the military for a few years and go to college later.

I don’t want my taxpayer money paying for your college because you majored in underwater basket weaving and can’t get a good job or because you want to blow your money on living in Clarendon instead of living out in the suburbs of Fairfax county where you could have afforded much more. I majored in what some might call a useless liberal arts degree because it wasn’t a STEM degree but I made it work. YOU CAN TOO. When I first started working I had a very average salary and I thought I couldn’t make it. Then I looked over at my coworkers making the exact same pay with house payments and four mouths to feed. Some of my coworkers were single parents or single income households with a family, and they made that paycheck work! It’s all about perspective.

All of you claim to be so “WOKE.” Well, while you hide in your “safe spaces” because your neighbor owns a gun…there are children in Syria hiding from BOMBS. Are you in fear of you life living in the free world? You probably aren’t. You’re living in middle to upper middle class suburbia complaining about your “first world problems” because the Whole Foods down the road ran out of organic quinoa and your obscure craft beer.

That’s such an insult to people living in the third world countries where their number one concern in life is finding shelter, food, and water…and where people can’t afford to go to school. Please spend time in a third world country and come back to me. You will realize that everything you take for granted and complain about is so menial compared to others. My modest middle class family is made up of immigrants who NEVER took a handout. I watched my parents work hard for everything we had. I will never shame them by reversing what they taught me about hard work and working my way up.

Take your safe spaces, free college rants, and “I deserve everything” attitudes away and grow up. You’re an adult now. Your younger siblings, cousins, and your [future] children are going to look at how we fucked our society for the sake of political correctness and participation trophies.

-KC

Best Foot Forward.

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The other day a friend texted me saying that she’s been staying off of Facebook because it has been making her feel bad about herself. I told her that it’s just a façade and it’s what people want you to see. Nobody wants to share their bad days.

We love to hate social media and hate to love it at the same time. As a mid twenty something, I scroll down my social media feeds to see endless engagements, weddings, and baby announcements.

After I finished undergrad, there were one or two engagements every few months. Throughout grad school I felt like those numbers quadrupled and everyone’s names started to change. Did I miss the train to the next stage of adulthood? I started to think something was wrong with me. At the same time, the long-term relationship I was in was falling apart. I felt AWFUL.

Then I looked at it from a different point of view. I, too, was celebrating my accomplishments: college and grad school graduations, a job announcement, moving to new places, and moving into my own apartment. While I felt insecure about my personal life, I found things that I was accomplishing for my professional life. Just because I wasn’t doing the same things that the majority of my friends were didn’t mean I was doing something wrong. My life is just on a different path. There is no right or wrong path.

Nobody wants to show the negative side of their lives, so you have to remember that we are all human. Nobody lives that perfect life. On the surface you’ll see my posts and photos of travelling, my job, my family, and it’s all smiles. What you don’t see is that I have days where I feel lonely, days where I question everything in life, and days where I feel like I didn’t accomplish anything.

Life is not a competition. The only person you should be competing with is the person you were yesterday. I have slowly…very slowly learned to not care about what other people think about me. That quality is something I try to work on everyday. I changed my competition mindset into a mindset where I congratulate everyone on their accomplishments. It has actually made me feel better being able to celebrate with others. Instead of feeling insecure or jealous, I try to see it from their point of view.

Nothing feels better than finally being able to celebrate something in your life. When I made a job announcement a few months before graduating grad school people congratulated me…and some people even went behind my back and told my friends I was bragging. What those people didn’t see was how I got to that point. For a whole year I applied to everything and anything that was applicable to my resume, I went to numerous job fairs, and I got deferred over and over. I stayed up all night worrying about not having a job lined up. I was afraid of seeming like a failure after sacrificing two more years of my life for a master’s degree.

Before you judge someone or start to feel insecure, remember that you don’t know that person’s whole story. That person who just got engaged probably went through a years of bad relationships before meeting that perfect person. That person who keeps sharing photos of their baby could have lost a baby before. That person who graduated with their master’s or PhD sacrificed a lot to finish school. That person who went on vacation could have saved for a year or two to finally take that trip.

Let’s start celebrating each other and more importantly start celebrating yourself. Your life is perfect as it is. Everything you want will eventually make it’s way into your life.

-KC

Guest Post: Why Modern Moms Shouldn’t Believe the Hype

If you’re looking for one of those “stay at home mom writers” with the perfect pictures of went-exactly-as-planned daily outings and non-GMO, organic, vegetables from her own garden, gluten free (deep breath!)…meals, you’re in the wrong place. You know, the blogger mom that somehow has endless hours to spend editing pictures, making homemade granola and stroll the aisles of Whole Foods? She swears she lets her kids be kids, yet their faces and clothes are clean in every picture. Not to mention how her whitest of whites pottery barn sofa is completely fucking stainless. And how does she get non-blurry, all of the kids are looking and smiling pictures, every damn time!? Is that Ralph Lauren China just out in the fucking open like that!!? Are her kids on Xanax?? Shit like that makes real moms, what I like to consider myself, wonder. And can also make fellow mothers feel inadequate and shitty about their own lives.
I’m the opposite. My house gets dirty, dishes pile up in the sink, clean dishes are used straight out of the dishwasher. Laundry gets left in the washing machine  for 2 days then has to be re-washed. And every single time it happens I can hear my grandmother saying “you must be rich to be able to waste water like that.” Sometimes diapers aren’t changed until they leak through. I yell at my kids when I think I’ve reached my breaking point, then feel guilty the rest of the day. There are days when they eat chicken nuggets for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Pooping in peace and quiet? HA! Most of us have 2 kids and a dog watching like we’re the newest release on Amazon prime.
You get it. Real stuff. Which is why I am saddened by how all of the bullshit pressures put on us women from society, mostly to sell things, have now trickled into fear mongering mothers or making them feel inadequate. just so some company can make a buck. Fuck this woman’s self-image, confidence in herself as a mother etc. etc. right? It has become so bad that instead of us mothers coming together to support each other, we’d rather compete over who can spend more money at hobby lobby to execute Pinterest pins better. Yet at the same time many of us are hiding issues as serious as post postpartum. All because we’re scared of being judged. Why do we even care?
Because we aren’t reading funny, uplifting stories on the social media sites we spend so much time on. Stories that let women know they’re not alone in wanting to get in the car and drive aimlessly as soon as their husband comes home, just to get out of the house. To let them know it’s ok to feel alone and crave companionship with other moms. Guess what? Sometimes I’m in my pajamas ALL day long too!
If more moms with a voice took a more realistic approach to their images, then the stigma wouldn’t be so bad. I get that some women are REALLY like that and more fucking power to them, seriously. By speaking out, I may only be a tiny dot in a large spectrum but a tiny dot is better than no dot. We all know the reality of the majority and it needs to be reflected more in the mainstream.
You’re probably thinking, If you know us Moms are short on free time then why is this piece so damn long? Sorry, I babble. Also, this is about to get real cheesy. Always know that as long as you do the best you can and your kids are happy and healthy…then you’re an awesome mom. From this moment on, stop comparing yourself and your life to what others portray themselves to be on Facebook. Matter of fact, take a break from social media. Most importantly, don’t forget to or ever feel bad about taking time for yourself. You cannot have a happy home if you are not happy. Now get off your phone, PC, whatever and go be the kick ass mom you are!

By: Natasha C.

 

Travel Required: Over 50%

I’m back on the road again, but this time it’s for work. The Marriott has become my second home and I laugh as I type that because I am staying in one right now. I shamelessly hit the top tier of Marriot Rewards and the top tier of IHG Rewards Club…in the same year. In 2016, I spent almost six months living in hotels in three different states.

Before I accepted my job I read the fine print that said “Travel Required: Over 50%” Hmm…what in the world does that mean? That statement was true considering the fact I spent most of my time assigned to Fort Lee travelling.

Looking back at where I was almost a year ago with my first work trip, I realized I’ve learned a lot about constantly being on the go.

Here are some tips I picked up:

-REWARDS: Sign up for the hotel, car rental, and airliner rewards. I try to use the same hotel brand every time I travel so I can rack up points for future vacations. My personal favorites are Marriott Rewards for hotels, Hertz Gold for car rentals, and United for airliners. These are my top choices from personal experience. Don’t be afraid to spend more for quality! When a friend and I stayed in a hotel in Manhattan, we were thoroughly impressed by how they treated us since I was the highest level in Marriott Rewards.

-RECON: When you find out what city you will be travelling to, find accommodations close to your workplace and find out where the safe areas are. Not every work trip is ideal and I’ve heard horror stories from friends. Check hotel ratings and research the crime in the area so you know what places to avoid. Trip Adviser has great hotel reviews.

-REST: If you are driving, plan all your gas/food/rest area stops ahead of time. When you get there make sure they are in well-lit places. This is crucial when you are travelling and it starts to get dark out. In the event you don’t feel safe, don’t stop and keep driving until you find a better location.

-PACKING: One of my favorite apps is called PackPoint. I am the type of person who needs lists for everything. In PackPoint, you set your location and it will make you a list according to the weather and what activities you chose. It will show you quantities and you can click on them as you pack them. I have not gone on a trip without using this app. I am also a fan of @AskTSA on Twitter. They will answer your questions about what you can and cannot carry on an airplane.

-FINANCE: Call your bank and let them know you will be out of town for a certain period of time. My bank has a very effective anti-theft system…that actually worked against me when I was out of town. They called me to verify that I spent “x” amount of dollars at “x.” If you travel out of the country, try to get a debit card that does not charge you any international fees or one that reimburses you after a certain period of time

-INSURANCE: This is a debated topic. Buy the travel insurance or not? I was stranded in Toronto one summer and the airliner did not refund my ticket even though it was weather related. Read up on your travel agreement, most airliners will not provide a hotel or pay you back if it is not mechanical failure. From that point on, I always bought the travel insurance. It will also insure your baggage if it is lost (another thing that happened to me recently too!)

-ARRIVAL: Drive to your workplace the day before you get there so you won’t be stressed about directions and how to get there the day of. If there is no exact address (especially if you work in my field of work), drop a pin in your location and your phone will give you directions. Another one of my favorite apps is ArriveNow. You set the address and it will give you a countdown to show you how much time you have to get ready to get to your destination on time. This is so helpful when you’re not sure about the directions. It also adjusts to weather and road conditions.

-LOCALS: You can go on Yelp all you want, but your best resources are the locals. Ask your co-workers or friends who have travelled or lived in the place you at about where to go. The locals always know where the best “mom and pop” shops are and all the hidden gems. This was one of my favorite things to do while travelling.

Last but not least, LOAD THAT EZ PASS! If you frequently travel in the Northeast…don’t forget to auto reload your EZ pass. Don’t be like me and pay an $11 ticket for a $1 toll I drove through because I thought my pass had money on it.

What are your travel tips? Let me know!

-KC

Why Expectations and Milestones Hinder Us

We’re bombarded with milestones at every stage of our lives. Society tells us there is a certain path and time for when we go to college, get a job, get married, and have children. Holidays are filled with conversations like “What do you want to do after graduating college?” and “Have you met anyone yet?” Personally, I dread holidays and family get-togethers because I feel like I am constantly defending all of my life choices.

I grew up in a very traditional household with strict parents who just wanted the best for me. Growing up I had two choices: go to college or join the Navy…or both. My siblings and cousins were constantly asked, “What do you want to study in school?” I was always the black sheep and said I wanted to be a lawyer, a pilot, or a teacher…a complete left field career choice in a family who went to the medical field, engineering, and business. Nonetheless, the fact I said I wanted to be a lawyer made all my family members proud. They kept telling me I was going to be so successful in all my future endeavors.

Throughout high school I kept telling myself: college and law school. There is no other path I could take or I would be a failure. I needed to be a lawyer by the time I was twenty-five and become a partner at a law firm. Part of my plan was derailed when I got denied from my dream college: Washington and Lee University. My seventeen-year-old self panicked and thought I would fail at everything else in my life. Denied from my dream college? END OF THE WORLD, RIGHT? I was down to my next choices: George Mason University or James Madison University. I chose GMU thanks to a very special teacher of mine who told me to go to George Mason because it would be perfect for me. Thank you Ms. Lingua-Wheeless!

The next four years of college went according to plan. I was studying government and living the dream working on political campaigns in between semesters. I kept telling myself…don’t forget about law school. By the time I was a senior in college, I was torn…do I go to law school or do I get a master’s degree? I opted for my master’s degree and put law school on hold for a few years. My family members kept asking, “When are you going to law school?” I didn’t have the heart to tell them it just was not my dream anymore. I felt like I was admitting to failure even though I got my actual dream job of working for the federal government.

Once I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to go to law school, I started focusing on my career. I let go of the expectations and said if law school was really for me, it will come back into the loop one day. I finally felt at peace knowing I had a job I really enjoyed and I was putting my college degrees to use.

The downside of letting go of your expectations is that society loves to reminds us we are on a timeline. Right as I started to feel like I found my place in the world, I was constantly questioned about my personal life. Family and friends kept telling me, “You need to start looking for someone or you’ll end up single and childless for the rest of your life.” That was the least of my worries. My worries consisted of deciding what master’s degree I wanted next, planning a work out schedule, and seeing my friends during the weekends. I am a fully functioning, tax paying, adult that contributes to society but apparently I have to be married with children at a certain age.

REALITY CHECK. That’s NOT what I want at 26. That life works for the majority of the population but it is not my cup of tea. More importantly, what if I NEVER want to settle down to society’s definition of “settling down.” What if I want to be able to date who ever I wanted in different places and have no children? We’re such an “accepting” society but something is only acceptable when it’s agreeable to someone. Milestones hinder us. I just got over thinking I wasn’t a failure for not going to law school and now I’m being told I’m doing my life wrong.

Being single and childless is the life for me right now. I have a job that requires me to travel and move so I’m always on the go. If I could get a promotion by moving to another state or another country, I want the ability to get up and move. I probably sound selfish, but that’s my priority in life. People keep telling me that my priorities will change when I decide to settle down. They always keep telling me “You’ll change your mind about having kids” and “You’re going to regret being so career focused when you’re 50.” I just channel this out and keep doing my own thing.

Forget the expectations and milestones. Live the life YOU want.

-KC

Stop Torturing Yourself

Get out of that toxic relationship. Leave that job that is not making you happy. Stop being a pushover.

On toxic relationships…

Sometimes we hold on to something past its expiration date because we’re afraid to let go. If you’ve been in this situation, I can highly empathize with you. I was in a relationship where the person I was dating told me “You don’t deserve love, you have to earn it.” I would do one thing “wrong” that day and they would ignore me for a week. For the longest time I thought everything was my fault. I didn’t “deserve” love because I wasn’t a perfect human being. There’s nothing worst that feeling alone when you’re in a relationship.

I held onto that relationship much longer than I should have. I couldn’t hang out with my friends without asking for “permission” like a child asking their parents if they can go play outside. I would make a comment about how my friends were happy in their relationships and I would get scolded and told, “Everyone has problems like us. They’re just pretending to be happy.” For a large chunk of college I was told I couldn’t go to parties, I couldn’t see my friends, and I couldn’t look nice. If I tried to dress nicely for class I got the response, “Who are you trying to look good for?”

It took some good friends giving me an outside perspective to help me realize I had Stockholm Syndrome. I was afraid to leave a toxic relationship. I was trapped. I was scared. I finally talked myself out of it once my friends told me they missed seeing me. Was it worth being cut off from my social life for someone who didn’t care about me? It wasn’t and I walked away and I grew into a stronger person. Don’t ever be afraid to leave a toxic relationship. You deserve the love you give to others.

On jobs that don’t make you happy anymore…

Nothing feels worse than feeling unappreciated. I truly love coaching rowing and it has been one of my favorite jobs I’ve had. In grad school I was working for a school that made coaching feel like a chore. I wasn’t happy with the staff or how the staff treated the rowers. I felt like my opinion was never taken into consideration, which confused me because the prior season my rowers got second in the state.

I came in excited for the new rowing season and my excitement quickly died. The coaching environment was not conducive to a successful rowing program. I thought about quitting during the winter training season before we started to row outside so it would be easier to transition a new coach, but I was too scared to leave. I made sure my rowers were ready to get on the water and quietly mentioned to the parent board that I was leaving. Thankfully I had friends at another high school that said they needed a rowing coach and I left at a time that didn’t hurt my other high school. I felt guilty when I left my old school but my new school made me so happy. The coaching staff was phenomenal, the rowers were hardworking and friendly, and the parents were the most supportive. It was really hard leaving this school when I graduated from grad school and moved for my job. Looking back at it, leaving was worth it. The other school didn’t suffer because they had extra coaches on hand and my guilt quickly went away. Nothing made me happier than coaching and being back in a positive setting boosted my spirits.

On being a pushover…

Are you afraid to say no? Stop being afraid and say no! I promise nobody’s feelings will get hurt. Stop letting other people’s opinions dictate how you feel. This is another rowing story…

I was the coxswain on the rowing team. Coxswains play a vital role in the boat because they are the only person who is facing forward as rowers sit backwards. I rowed my first semester of college until the spring when I was converted to a coxswain…being 5’3” doesn’t make you the best collegiate rower out there…The coxswain has a headset so the rowers can hear them call out commands in the boat. As a note, the rowers do nothing without the coxswain’s permission.

My first day I was so nervous and I didn’t say a word…my coach had to tell the rowers what to do. For a little while I was taken advantage of because I never spoke up and I let the rowers take over the boat, which is a big NO in the rowing world. One day I snapped because the rowers took the boat out of the boathouse without me saying they could. I yelled out, “Put the boat back. Did I tell you to take out the boat?” My coach’s eyes widened and he said, “You heard that. Put the boat back.”

It was probably 5am and I felt like I already drank three cups of coffee from the adrenaline rush. I actually stood up for myself and I felt good about it. I realized that in order to be a good coxswain, you had to be firm and not be afraid to tell people what to do. The rowers can hear changes in your voice through the speakers so I knew I had to be confident. I could not let my nerves get to me or they could hear it in my voice. I had to be loud and clear…and of course…not be a pushover.

-KC

 

Becoming a Minimalist

I was standing an airport in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania when I was waiting for my luggage to come out onto the conveyor belt. Half awake and jet lagged I stared at all the luggage pass by me without seeing my bright blue bag. I jokingly told my brother, “My bag is probably still in Ethiopia.” When the conveyor belt stopped, I slowly went into a panic mode. How was I going to survive without my clothes and shoes, my special shampoo for my dyed hair, and my makeup bag? For the record, I survived. My bag was put on the next flight from Ethiopia to Tanzania and it was dropped off at our hotel the following night.

The day I woke up and realized that I had no luggage, I let myself panic for a good five minutes and then told my parents that we needed to go find a mall to buy clothes for a few days. Without all my extra belongings, I realized I didn’t really need all that extra stuff to enjoy my vacation. It made me reflect on how much I didn’t need to be happy.

In grad school, I had no furniture or kitchen utensils of my own and all my belongings fit into a 10×10 bedroom. I borrowed a lot from my roommates and didn’t need to buy anything extra. When I moved to Richmond, my parents helped furnish my apartment and then I started to accumulate so…much…stuff… The following summer I moved out of my apartment in Richmond, put my belongings in storage, and spent the summer in Georgia. All I brought to Georgia were two luggage bags. It was freeing having nothing with me. I didn’t feel overwhelmed packing and I could actually see out of the back window of my SUV.

My excessiveness hit me again when it was time to move to New York. The moving company came to pack and pick up my belongings and asked me to sign the inventory sheet. The mover said, “Ma’am, you have forty two boxes. Please sign below to acknowledge that.” FORTY TWO BOXES?! These weren’t small boxes either. I was a little appalled at myself for having that much stuff in a one-bedroom apartment. Did I really need all of this stuff in my apartment? Thankfully the movers unpacked my belongings and put them in place. Once everything was put away, I made three piles of things.

-NEED

-THINK ABOUT IT

-DONATE

The “need” pile was composed of things I needed: furniture, basic household goods for my living room, bathroom, and kitchen, clothes, shoes, personal belongings with value.

The “think about it” pile was composed of clothing and shoes I haven’t worn in months…pretty much things I forgot about. If I didn’t take anything out of this pile, I would donate it.

Lastly, the “donate” pile was for belongings I was ready to part with. I somehow ended up with two of everything from my old apartment even though I lived there alone. I also donated all my cheap IKEA kitchenware, which I replaced with Williams Sonoma (quality over quantity!) I gathered numerous trash bags of things and dropped them off to the local Goodwill. I felt so relived knowing I got rid of so much stuff.

After emptying about 30% of my apartment, I felt relaxed. There was less clutter, the countertops were always cleaned, my closets were not packed, and everything had a place without overflowing.

I finally tested my minimalism after taking a four-day trip to NYC with friends. I packed everything into a carry on luggage because I knew I had to get on the train, arrive at Grand Central, take the subway, and get to the hotel carrying all of my stuff by myself. I had four days worth of clothes, shoes, two jackets, and even had space for a bottle of Grey Goose (NYC alcohol is overpriced!)

Have you tried to be a minimalist?

Don’t be afraid to let go!

-KC

2016 Life Lessons

Reflection is something I try to do every night. I like to write down something that was good, something that I want to improve on, and my rambling thoughts before I go to sleep. I had plenty of reflection today. Switching between sleeping and watching movies on a 16 hour flight with approximately 3 more hours before I land in Tanzania, I’ve thought about a lot about 2016. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs but I try to focus on the positive. Four of the biggest things I learned in 2016 were self-respect, forgiveness, independence, and empowerment.

Self-Respect

To use the word “dating” to describe what I attempted to do this year would be too generous of a word. On the bright side, I met a lot of great guys who I ended up being friends with through mutual friends, work, or through Bumble and Tinder. I figured we could stay friends because my work and life balance was not on my side with all the moving. Bad timing is the story of my life.

On the not so bright side, I ended up in a a handful of hurtful situations that I stayed in thinking I could change the other person. It hurt me more to get my hopes up and to think that I could possibly date this person despite the fact I KNEW they were NOT good for me. Some promised they wouldn’t hurt me but ended up hurting me. Dating this year left me very guarded and vulnerable, but I learned a life lesson about self-respect. I eventually walked away from those hurtful situations and started to respect myself and learn my worth. Don’t force someone to like you; the right person will openly give you their time and companionship.

Forgiveness

Forgiveness has never been an easy thing for me. I dislike holding grudges against people but sometimes it’s easier to cut people off than to fix a friendship. This year I learned that I felt better going out and extending an olive branch to people I may have hurt through my actions, through my friend’s actions, or misunderstanding. Never burn bridges because you never know when you will run into someone again. I repaired plenty of friendships this year and never been happier to have these people back into my life. If you try to make amends and the other person does not agree, move on but feel better that you were willing to make peace between the two of you.

Independence

This past year I felt like I truly learned about independence. Having to leave a familiar place and pick up again really taught me about how to be on my own. I’ve always had my friends and family within mere hours of where I lived. Living on my own, being comfortable in my own company, and having to improvise made me a stronger person. I realized that I did not have my two roommates from college helping me shovel out my car in the snow or help me bring my groceries up three flights of stairs. Before this year, I never drove more than six hours or find an apartment by myself. I had to learn how to be aware of my surroundings, make good judgment, and be safe everywhere I went. Being independent proved that I could make it on my own.

Empowerment

I could not have made it this year without the help of my friends and my family by my side. Every time I felt down from constant training for work, always being on the road, or just my constant string of bad dates…I always had a friend to talk to. Someone was always there to listen to me and remind me that I could do it. I think we need to learn how to empower each other. There is nothing more valuable than having a support group for you. It really helps knowing that no matter where I end up, there is always a group of people praying for me, cheering me on, and reminding me that everything is going to be okay.

No matter what happened this year, good or bad, remember that you are an amazing person with a lot to contribute to society, you are loved, and you have a purpose.

Best wishes for 2017.

-KC