“Risk something or forever sit with your dreams.” — Herb Brooks

You ever have a set path in your mind? Something you thought you were so sure of, that there were no doubts in your mind of what your future would be like, or even where you will be in 5 years? I was that person and Human Resources was that path. I’ve always played by the rules, stuck to the rule book. Of course I stumbled along the way, but I still did everything I was supposed to do. I graduated from high school. I went to college, then graduated from there. I landed a corporate job that offered great pay and benefits. I followed the path…and yet, I find myself more lost than ever. I’m ashamed to say, I’m even feeling dissatisfied. As I approach my 30th trip around the sun, I have NO idea what I want to do with my life. All I do know is the path that I am on now, is not for me anymore. It’s a terrifying thought. Almost 30 years old with mostly experience in solely HR, and I don’t want this career anymore. Or maybe it is just my current job that has left a bitter taste in my mouth. It’s hard to pinpoint.

10 months ago, I landed an amazing job. It offered growth, great pay, and most importantly, great benefits. Coming from a smaller company where I had to make a conscious decision not to get health insurance because it would cost me half of my paycheck, this opportunity felt like a blessing. And to some extent, it has been. I am grateful for that. It was everything I wanted and worked hard for…or so I thought. If you would have told me 10 months ago that I would end up so miserable, I probably would have reconsidered taking the job. So before I dive deep into the negatives, I would like to focus on the positives first. Let’s see…I got a big increase in pay (amen). I got affordable health insurance, which let’s be honest, was super needed this year. My knowledge in HR has grown at an accelerated rate. This position has taught me to be more confident and independent in decision making. And lastly, my skin has grown much thicker (it’s a cold world in Corporate America).

When I first started this job, I was super excited. It felt very uncomfortable but I was excited about the opportunity of growth in all aspects. It seemed like a casual work environment. Everyone seemed nice. My manager and director seemed thrilled to have me join the team. My manager, who would be leaving on maternity leave, had only 2 weeks to train me. I would take over her workload while she was out. I’ll admit, this made me very uneasy. I mean, 2 weeks is not a long time AT ALL to learn the ins and outs of a company, especially in Human Resources. Also, I took a chance by accepting this position because it was temp to hire. This puts a ridiculous amount of pressure for you to succeed because at any given point, you are dispensable. But in hindsight, that’s with any job, whether it’s permanent or temporary. Despite all of this, I stepped up to the plate and pushed myself to remain optimistic. My manager left on maternity leave in September. By October, I was drowning in work and stress. I began suffering from intense anxiety and was not sleeping, like at all. It became so extreme that I was even admitted to the hospital for sleep deprivation. Determining it was anxiety, I was placed on anti-anxiety medication and referred to a therapist…which I never went to because at the time I did not have insurance. The pressure to excel was overwhelming and it continued to affect my health. By December, I suffered a flu once and gotten a cold twice, all in a 2 month span lol. Not funny, but like come on, my luck was impeccable during those times. I really can’t help but laugh about it now. In December, I became permanent and it felt as if I ran and won a triathlon (I know, I’m dramatic. Consider it a part of my charm). After all, I finally had a secure job with actual benefits!

My manager returned from maternity leave in January and the director seemed ecstatic to have her back. Shit, I was too! Honestly, I was winging it along the way and was relieved to have extra help. Shortly after my manager returned, I noticed a change in attitude between her and the director. I was included in less meetings and updates. I was taken away certain responsibilities, which is normal to a certain extent because duties had to be split, but it was an alarming amount! I was micromanaged, something that was NEVER an issue before. They started to alienate me and I couldn’t understand why. Communication became strained. I was told one thing from my manager, and told to do another by my director. This all leaving me unsure as to what I should do regarding my duties. I started being blamed for errors that were caused by miscommunication. It became a “them vs. me” situation. Constantly walking on eggshells, anticipating the next warning I would be given for something I unintentionally did incorrect. In March, after my miscarriage situation, the treatment became worse. They were annoyed that I missed 2 weeks of work, which in my defense, I never miscarried naturally. I had to have surgery which required recovery time. Upon my return, they turned up the heat. Gave me more projects with impossible deadlines. Every other day, I’m approached with an issue about the quality of my work. When I do complete a project that is valuable and on time, I do not get any credit. If anything, they don’t even respond stating that it’s been received. Meanwhile, my manager gets a response and a pat on the back for every single thing, even something as small as filing. It feels as if I am constantly set up for failure, and with my experience in HR, I would not be surprised if they are trying to push me out the door. I have seen it happen many times. Yesterday, I was mentally preparing myself to get terminated. I injured myself last Thursday and had to take the next two days off due to a pinched nerve in my lower back that prevented me from moving around or walking. They claimed I made a few errors on the most recent project I submitted and told me that it would need to be discussed on the upcoming Tuesday. All Memorial Day weekend, I was anxious and afraid I would no longer have a job once I returned. Well, turns out there were no errors made on my part and I had proof. I presented this to them and all they could say is that we can discuss later in the week. I wasn’t given an apology. They didn’t address it after that. There goes my idea of a secure job. Harsh lesson learned; nothing is ever guaranteed.

So yeah, there goes the raw honest truth of what is going on in my life career wise. I did not write this for pity or reassurance. I know I will be fine. Eventually, I will find another job and this will be a nightmare of the past. But this experience has really caused me to look internally and ask myself, “what do I want out of life?” Human Resources is all I know, but I feel I am at a crossroad. I am torn because I want to stay true to what I want and deserve, but I also have to be responsible enough to make a rational and logical choice. All of these experiences I have encountered this year alone has really boggled my perspective. I’ve never felt so uncomfortable, yet awakened at the same time. It’s a very uneasy process, but I have to trust it. I have to trust that everything that is taking place in my life is pushing me closer and closer to my purpose. If anyone else can relate to this, just know that it is going to be okay. Nothing makes sense and that’s okay. Know that if it’s never to late to start over, or change your mind. Also know that it is perfectly okay to be scared, or unready to make a choice just yet. There are no rules. There is no time limit. It is all divine timing and what’s meant to be, will be. As I’m writing you this, I am also reminding myself. We got this. Eventually, we will find our way.

It’s Okay to Show Up for Yourself First!

“Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners.”
– William Shakespeare

I AM A PEOPLE PLEASER. Let’s first start there. I have a habit of putting more on my plate than I can possibly chew. It is nobody’s fault but my own. I have tried to remind myself that it is okay to set boundaries. It is okay to say ‘no.’ Yet time and time again, I convince myself that not only can I handle all that is piled on my plate, but I can do it so eloquently that you can’t help but wonder, “how does she do it?” Reality check, I do it, but at a HUGE cost. Always at the expense of myself. Behind the scenes, I am overwhelmed. Scrambling. Having mini mental breakdowns as I mask my stress with smiles and laughs. Why do I do this?! Because I don’t want to let anyone down. Because I enjoy making people happy. There’s no better high in my book. And in a selfish sense, it provides the validation of an achievement. Another task checked off the list. I know, I’m a goal oriented freak. Honestly, it’s part of my high functioning anxiety. But that is a topic for another day. This past weekend I was reminded how quickly I can overwhelm myself. Typical case of showing up for others and not showing up for myself.

In retrospect, this past weekend was amazing. Saturday I spent the day at Bok Towers, a beautifully preserved garden in Lake Wales, FL. After spending the day in Satan’s playground (it was about 90 degrees), I went grocery shopping and continued home to prepare for a girl’s night I was hosting at my place. Truthfully, I should’ve taken the opportunity to nap. Being in the sun and heat all day can take a major toll on your body. But I wanted to clean up the house and make sure everything was fully prepared for the night. So I completely ignored my exhaustion and continued with my tasks. Well, before I know it, it was 4 AM when I finally laid my head in my glorious bed that night…and I had to be up at 9:30 AM. Sunday I attended a women’s self love party for all of the boss babes in the Tampa Bay area. It was a beautiful event filled with emotional moments in between. The event started at 12 PM and ended roughly around 4 PM. After, I went out to eat with a friend. I had every intention of going home after that but another friend contacted me asking if I was coming over her house since my fiance was there with her boyfriend. I should’ve said no but I hadn’t seen her in a while and wanted to keep her company. So I didn’t go home and went straight to her house. By the time I got home, it was 7:30 PM. But my day was not over. We were having a little get together for the Game of Thrones finale (RIP) at 9 PM and the place was a wreck. Of course, I felt obligated to clean. It didn’t take much after that before I was crying in the shower lol exhausted beyond explanation and feeling defeated for being such a crybaby. This is the behind the scenes no one really gets to see. I wanted to hide under a rock for a week straight just so I can recharge. I’m not telling you all of this to complain or make it seem like I have it SO bad. Just a simple timeline that illustrates that I did not take the best care of myself this weekend, mentally and physically. It is okay to be there for others. It is NOT okay to neglect yourself in the process. Because how can you put forward the best version of yourself, if you forget the importance of self care?

So here’s a few tips and reminders for effective self care (for you AND I):

  1. SET BOUNDARIES. Not one person operates the same. It is okay if you cannot, or simply do not want to deal with chaos. It is okay if you feel overwhelmed by too much thrown at you. It is okay to voice at any given time that you do not want to do something. And most importantly, you have every right to say ‘no’ with no explanation whatsoever. Boundaries have to be clear because how else with others know? Those who truly value your well being will understand, PERIOD.
  2. REST UP. I cannot stress the importance of adequate rest. You cannot run like a full service, mean machine if you do not replenish your fuel. Don’t burn yourself out on the account of others. Don’t burn yourself out on the account of productivity. Trust me, it does not work out. You WILL crash and burn as I’ve learned many times!
  3. BE MINDFUL AND IN THE MOMENT. Sometimes, the best act of love you can show yourself is to slow down and be present in the moment. Feeling overwhelmed? Stop everything you’re doing and take a deep breath. Inhale then exhale. Light one of your favorite candles. Take a break. Go work out. Have some fun in the sun. Read. Meditate. Put on a face mask. Eat that chocolate cake!! Indulge and enjoy every moment of it. Be mindful and attentive to your own happiness. Honestly, everything else can wait.
  4. RELEASE THOSE EMOTIONS. I’m a big believer that venting and crying can be cleansing. Not everyone wants to hear you complain. However, I can almost guarantee there is at least one person who is willing to be that shoulder to lean on without judgement or annoyance. Take advantage of that! It is human nature to be heard and understood. Don’t bottle up your emotions. Just remember that although it is okay to vent, it is not okay to dwell. Release and move on. This is something I am working on myself.
  5. UNPLUG. Let’s face it. We all need a day of solitude at one point or another. A day to unplug from all of the outside noise and enjoy some silence. A wide empty space that offers the opportunity to become inspired and motivated. One on one time with yourself is so important. Cancel those plans you were not feeling int the first place. Turn off your phone. Have a day with no organized agenda. Just go with the flow. Utilize your solitude and don’t apologize for it!

Let’s all make a conscious choice to take better care of ourselves. Be more aware of your needs and tend to them. Self care is not selfish and indulgent, it is survival. Be kind to yourself. We all deserve it.

Love is a Choice. Part III.

We shape our self to fit this world and by the world are shaped again. -Anonymous

Our relationship has been my hardest task in life thus far. My greatest victory. The most rewarding fruits of my labor. It has challenged my views and perspectives. It has made me question my intentions at times, a harsh reality that pride should not be a factor. It has made me harder and softer, all at once. And yet, the work, the efforts, the responsibility of the choices we make to nurture the relationship, is never done. It’s not something you can say, “well my work here is complete.” No. It’s constantly evolving, propelling you to shift and bend in ways you never anticipated. Without this foundation of knowledge, a relationship is bound to crumble.

2017 was the most draining, discouraging year…I won’t say of my existence, because honestly 2019 is giving 2017 a run for its money, for different reasons. But 2017 was BY FAR the most difficult time in our relationship. It’s funny, because I look back and can’t honestly tell you why. It can’t be pinpointed. I suppose it was a combination of things. Life has this disheartening way of trying to destroy your relationship, especially when rough times are abound. It throws obstacles that you are not mentally prepared for, leaving you strained. A chain of reactions, of situations that led to us spiraling. Legal matters. Finances. Lack of attention. Lack of time…lack of connection. We both could not seem to find middle ground. He seemed to have checked out of the relationship, while I felt I carried the burdens of the world on my back. Honestly, I was drowning. Suffocating, gasping for air. And it felt as if he just watched from the surface, not offering a hand. Complete disinterest. THAT was enough to destroy the very core of my heart. I began to lose trust. He began to lose patience. The more we bumped heads, the further away he felt. And I began to resent him…I even began to resent myself. Constantly questioning if he was no longer interested in this relationship. Questioning myself if I was the one to blame. Then getting furious for him for making me feel inadequate. We were both reaching our limits. The arguments became heavier, more aggressive. More hurtful words exchanged between the both of us. Nights that ended up with him leaving, slamming doors in frustration as I stayed behind, crying and feeling defeated. Days that pushed me to run away. Days that I left the house with no warning leaving much to his imagination, unfavorably. Counseling was suggested but separation seemed inevitable. He felt I was not understanding of his circumstances, I was selfish and spoiled. I felt he was inattentive, constantly disregarding me, leaving me as last priority. It felt as if the arguments were erupting every single day. I could name a river after myself, made with my tears alone. As 2017 approached an end, we were both like wounded soldiers with PTSD. Ready for war at any given moment, constantly on the defense when feeling too vulnerable. Things we have said to each other that I wish we could take back. But at the end of it, somehow we both decided separation was not an option. It seemed too easy. Our story was not supposed to end just yet. This was merely a chapter. This time in our lives was temporary. We had the power to change our course. Once we realized that simple fact, we both began to forgive and heal by the grace of God.

“True love isn’t found. It’s built.”

I wish I could tell you how the relationship survived. Unfortunately, I don’t have a guidebook prepared for you all. What I can say is this, it will always come down to choices. The choice to look internally and put pride aside. The choice to listen more, talk less. The choice to pick your words; choose them wisely. The choice to say absolutely nothing at all, especially when emotions are high. The choice to remember that we are all human and incapable of being perfect. But most importantly, the choice to remember that you were not brought into this person’s life to change them. Ideally, you are to grow with them, but never change them. To become better versions of each other. And to love each other throughout the growing pains. It’s not easy. It was not designed to be easy. And when something is broken, you do not throw it away without the attempt of repair. You don’t throw it away when it’s worth it. Communication is always shaky. This will probably never change between us because we are such opposites. But respect, understanding, and compromise is always our groundwork. Love always surfaces.

Love is a Choice. PART II.

“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”
-Fawn Weaver

We’ve always seemed to be connected in some kind of way. In the same place, around the same times. Our paths having every opportunity to cross, but didn’t. Not until he moved to FL and I met him that one spontaneous night at Peabody’s. I truly believe in divine timing. The universe has this way of placing people in your life for reasons beyond comprehension, and without warning.

I remember the exact date. December 20, 2014. The Christmas party at Jackson’s Bistro. It was a Saturday. We were both running late and scrambling to get to our destination. We get there and he seems right at home. You see, he is not the type to shy away from people. He loves meeting new people and engaging with them. While I on the other hand, shy away and try to hide in the midst of big crowds. He has a gift of making people feel as if they have known him forever. I must admit, at times, I envy this of him. It’s so effortless. But it is also one of the main reasons why I fell in love with him. We had a 3 course meal. The server provided us with wine. I ordered Moscato and he ordered Cabernet. I thought to myself, “how fancy.” Turns out he had not idea how bitter Cabernet can be. Lol. He struggled with each sip. We immersed ourselves in conversation as we ate our steak dinner, and split our desserts- creme brulee and tiramisu. After dinner, we proceeded to the club section to dance. He impressed me by automatically pulling me to dance Bachata…not because he was good lmao but because he had the confidence to do that, and that was attractive to me. He was attentive and genuinely interested in what I had to say, and that was attractive to me. He was a complete gentleman. And yep, THAT was attractive to me. After that night, I saw him in a new light. I wanted to get to know him more. Nothing felt wrong about it. It ALL felt right. So I held my breath and took a leap, blindly, without hesitation.

He hates water parks by the way lol

Our relationship accelerated from there. What turned from daily text messages and nightly calls, quickly turned into spontaneous visits and weekends spend barricaded in my apartment sprinkled with impromptu date nights. It was beautiful. I felt safe and guarded. Like he was going to take the upmost care of my heart. I never felt that before. I was used to being in a constant state of alarm in previous relationships, always anticipating the next heartbreak. But no, this was different. On New Year’s Eve, he told me that he loved me. By mid- January, we were in a committed relationship. By July, we were moving in together. It was an exciting time in my life. Many people doubted us. Many people said we were moving way too fast. But I genuinely felt like this will be the man I marry. And of course, I still feel this way. I am currently engaged, after all. But remember what I said about the dust settling and your feet returning back to the ground? I think this happened right around the time we moved in together. If you ever want to get to know someone, like REALLY get to know someone, flaws and all, cohabitation is the way. This is when I realized that he was not perfect, and neither was I. It became a daily choice to maneuver through the differences. The trials and tribulations. Our relationship is not perfect, but the love will always remain. Sometimes you question if the relationship has changed. If it has morphed into something unrecognizable. It’s a scary thought. One of the roughest years we endured together was 2017. Both of us banging our heads against the wall, scrambling to save our relationship that seemed to unravel right before our eyes…

To Be Continued.

Love is a Choice. PART I.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” 
― Lao Tzu

They say your third love will always be the greatest and most purest. The one you end up with. Your soulmate. Now, I think this is accurate to a certain extent. I am blessed to be experiencing a love like this, one that challenges me daily and encourages me to be the best version of myself. But what I don’t like about this saying is the misconception of a fantasy. The reality is a love like this will sweep you off your feet. But as the dust settles, and you return back on the ground, you will quickly realize that it is a choice to keep nurturing this love. To keep working at it. To continue to put your best effort despite the annoyances and petty arguments. Love is a choice. A choice to accept a person, flaws and all, and continue to love that person even when you do not like them very much at a particular moment. That my friends, is the REAL prize in love, the most vulnerably beautiful part of it.

I never saw him coming. I was at a place in my life that I have given up on the concept of love. Being in a previous relationship for 7 years that seemed to destroy the core of me, mentally and emotionally, I didn’t think I was capable of finding real love. Maybe I wasn’t worthy enough because previous encounters and relationships confirmed these notions. Honestly, at first, I didn’t even give him the time of day.

I met him July 2014. I was working at The Hard Rock Casino. It was a Sunday night and my shift ended at 10:30 PM. I was excited to get off and relax, to begin my “weekend.” My roommate clearly had other plans. Originally, the plan was to go out and sing karaoke. She was dating a guy at the time and he was bringing a friend. I was not feeling the potential of a double date. But she assured me that a mutual friend of ours was tagging along, so that threw off the odds. I remember being so tired that I threw a t shirt and khakis on, wore minimal makeup, and went out just like that. All I wanted to do was throw back some drinks and unwind. The plans changed, karaoke no longer being the goal, and we ended up at a nearby bar called Peabody’s. He had just recently moved from New York and didn’t even have an ID…and we were at a bar…yeah. So most of the night we were bringing drinks outside for him since he couldn’t even step foot inside the bar. Lol. I realized very quickly what he brought to the table- amazing conversation and great vibes. He was a very likable person, very personable. And I STILL didn’t give him the time of day! I automatically placed him in the friend zone. Despite enjoying his company and having a wonderful night in his company. We went to a hookah lounge after and spent hours picking each other’s brains about music and future goals. The next morning he slid in the dm’s and gave me his phone number. I texted him back with my number, and that was that. Throughout the months, he kept in touch, coming out of the blue to check up on me. He seemed to give me just enough space, but popped up enough to remain relevant.

Christmas Party at Jackson’s Bistro
December 2014

It was December 2014. I was planning a Christmas party for the company I worked for. Everyone was allowed to bring a date. Call it pride, ego, whatever, but I couldn’t accept the possibility of going to a party that I had planned, without a date. I wasn’t involved with anyone. But for whatever reason, I immediately thought of him. He was always to cool to talk with. He could keep up with my type of conversation and never seemed to run out of words. He never made me feel uncomfortable and was always respectful. Even if he was just a friend, I thought it would be enjoyable to attend a Christmas party with him. And I was so right. That party we entered as friends, but left as something undefined. He definitely had my attention now. But still, I had NO idea what we were about to become.

To be Continued…