Something > Nothing

A funny thing happens when you broadcast your life-altering decisions to the world: some people actually listen. One of the coolest things about the past year of my life (other than the fact that I can finally make happy hour) is that I've somehow become a source of wisdom/inspiration for a few people. I'm flattered and humbled, but also at a loss for what to say when people ask how they can shift their lives in a positive direction. It forces me to retrace my steps and ask myself: How DID I get here?

The simple answer is that it can't be defined by a single moment. Quitting my job may have seemed like a very assertive, final action that put everything on track, but in actuality it was one action that was flanked on either side by other actions -- some big, some small -- that were just as important as the birthday card/resignation letter saga.
The before... I pursued new relationships; I moved to a new part of town; I gave my boss an ultimatum that if things didn't change, I was going to find something new.
The after... I traveled to new parts of the country; I sat in my kitchen and applied to new jobs; I went to awkward networking events and met more new people.

All of these steps played a key role in where I've landed today. And you might also notice that they include a key word: NEW. New things can be scary; they can also be really exciting. I was outside my realm of experience and outside my comfort zone, but I was also learning and discovering the people, places and experiences I liked... and those I didn't.

The problem with "new" is that the "familiar" is just so much easier. So often the challenge of figuring out how to make a change leads people to settle for what's comfortable, hoping life will conveniently decide to reward us for inaction and offer something better.

These situations lead to cliches like "When God closes a door he opens a window" or "Things will work out in the end." Then there's of course the old favorite: "Everything happens for a reason." What these tired, overused, non-helpful words of encouragement don't tell you is that sitting back and waiting for life to happen to you will not open that window or make it all work out. And the reason things don't happen may be because you didn't do anything at all.

We were born with free will and the ability to act. It's important to know the finish line you want to reach, but just as important to also know you won't reach that finish line unless you start with a single step. Hopefully, someday you'll be able to look back and realize how important all the seemingly unimportant steps actually were.

And when you finally reach that finish line, odds are you'll realize the end you sought is actually the starting point for another race you couldn't even see from what you *thought* was the start. You may want change now, but have the patience that even the small stuff matters -- and don't be afraid to capitalize on the big stuff, too.

I leave you with this: None of us actually has a clue what we're doing. So just do SOMETHING.

Go ahead and live the life where you geek out over a picture of an iguana eating a lime.
Find the simple pleasures, and soak 'em up.


Hello from the Other Side...

Well kids, I survived. For those of you who have more important things to do than track my employment status, I quit my job last fall with zero plans for next steps. I had lots of adjectives thrown at me during my three-month funemployment journey: brave, risky, exciting, irresponsible. It was all of those things, but more than anything... IT WAS WORTH IT.

Comin' atcha, life. 
My generation gets a bad rap for being lazy, self-entitled brats. Perhaps that's true of the well-coiffed hippie I saw selling "magical rocks" outside a bookstore in Portland, but in general I'd like to raise a hand on behalf of Millennials and say that we're dedicated, loyal, hard-working folks who just want to find our place in the world. We quite frankly don't have time to be wastes of space since we're expected to have three years of experience the day after graduation just to be eligible for an entry-level position. This means once we get a job, we're pretty serious about keeping it. I mean, we all own rescue dogs and they need to eat.

Yes, we are busy sending Biden/Obama memes to the group text, watching viral videos of pandas playing in the snow, drooling over Chrissy Tiegen's latest Snapchat recipe and stalking an ex's new flame on Instagram. But do you know the main reason some of us run into poles with our heads glued to screens? Because we're trying to figure out how email works in the latest iOS update, proofing the 29th revision of that document that just won't die and responding to our boss' 2am texts. I watch Mad Men today and despite the alcoholism, mental instability and sexism, find myself thinking: "Wow! Those were the days!" If Don Draper went to Hawaii, he was untouchable: no Internet, no email, no cell phones. Meanwhile, during my get-over-your-breakup-vacation I found myself pacing across a pool deck in Santorini trying to find a Wifi signal.

This is a problem that plagues all of working America. The difference for Millennials is that 24/7 accessibility is the only norm we've ever known. It hit me as I sat fielding emails in the ER with an IV shoved into my arm at 6am on a Wednesday: perhaps this isn't a good norm to accept. Perhaps it's time to try something different.

"Quitting" has a bad connotation in most circumstances. For a long time I thought quitting was the equivalent of failure. But ultimately I realized that sometimes quitting is the bravest and best thing you can do. I'm not right about everything, but I was right about that. The three months I spent in limbo were some of the most important moments of my life. Not because I did anything revolutionary, but because I re-discovered how to place value in the things that make me happy.

Here I am being happy because Michelangelo posed for a photo with me.
I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty of my personal experience and tell you about when I accidentally drowned my just-purchased MacBook and the emotional breakdown that followed, or about how many "thanks but no thanks" auto-response emails I got, or about the moments of fear and doubt when I wondered if I had made the right choice. No, I'm not going to tell you about all that. Because for every one of those moments, there were five better moments. Taking a deep breath on the side of a mountain in Colorado; looking at my phone and smiling because that dreamy southern guy wanted to take me out to dinner; posing next to an oversized tennis shoe; an Apple Genius telling me it "wasn't that bad" and resurrecting my Mac; getting the call that someone wanted to hire me. I became myself again, and it was great.

Who knew unconventional, oversized sculptures could bring so much joy?
Some people may live for work (and I like work a lot), but I live for those moments. And now, I get to do what I love at a place that understands how important those moments are, too. We get a lot of good, hard work done at my new company, but ultimately we are humans who have other people and other things to live for. Work/life balance -- it does exist, y'all!

I say all of this not to brag about how glorious my life is, but rather, as a means of encouragement for anyone who may have come to a similar crossroads. I've had almost a dozen friends make a transition in the past six months: job changes, cross-country moves, BABIES and other big-scary-life-decision-things. And I'm happy to report: 100% of my risk-taker friends have had a 100% success rate of finding fulfillment by chasing what makes them happy. Pretty good odds, eh?

So if you're reading this grappling with a life dilemma -- where to move, which career path to follow, if you should buy that puppy (NO BRAINER) -- then please heed this rule-following, type-A, control freak's advice:

Take the risk.

Even if it doesn't end up exactly how you envisioned (I, for example, am not writing sitcom scripts from my beachside bungalow in L.A. right now) ... it will be one heck of an adventure getting to whatever is next for you. Best of all, you'll never have to look back and wonder "what if." And let me tell you -- that is one heck of a feeling.


Breaking My Political Silence

Growing up, Election Day was like Christmas for my family. We'd gather around the TV with a blank map of the U.S. and color each state red or blue as the "politi-guys" (a term I still use as a grown adult) projected the winner of the Presidential election. The recount of 2000 -- oh man. Big times in our household.

Hanging chad, anyone?
But those were happier times. Times when I never would have dreamed up an election cycle like this one. I've watched the light go out that I once saw in my father's eyes at the prospect of selecting a new Commander in Chief. I've glazed over the politically charged posts and articles that have been cluttering every corner of the Internet with he said/she said. America is tired; so very tired.

I voted today, but with a different outlook than any other time I've fulfilled my civic right.

I filled in a circle on the first race listed on the ticket, and I'll admit I wasn't thrilled about it. But I also filled in 16 other circles; that's 16 other people who will have a say in the way our government operates. Social media, the news, and popular opinion tell me that just one of those races matters. But you know what? Our country wasn't built on the opinions of any one person, and that's still true today.

Now I know the Dallas County Sheriff isn't going to send our troops off to war. I know no one in the 195th District Court will be the face the world identifies with this nation. I know the Railroad Commissioner isn't going to play any sort of role in selecting the next Supreme Court Justice. In fact, if you asked me, "So Becky, what DOES the Railroad Commissioner do?" My answer would be, "You know... um... something with the railroad." It's a similar story for the rest of these people whose names I hadn't heard of prior to this morning. I may not know exactly HOW each of them will operate in conjunction with our government, but I know they are going to be a part of the future of our government and democracy -- even if it's on a small scale. So I took the time to care about the people they are and what they stand for.

Why yes I did buy new shoes specifically to wear on Election Day
This morning, I sat down at my computer and I got to know the other people who want to represent myself, my city, my state and my country. And when I went to the polls, I didn't randomly select people because I liked the sound of their name or because they had a "D" or an "R" (which was pretty much my strategy prior to today). I colored in those circles because I knew who I was voting for.

So to all of you running for an office other than President of the United States, thank you. I mean, I'll probably forget your name tomorrow and I probably won't keep tabs on what you do if you're elected. But I'm glad you exist, and I hope you do your job well. Because there ARE other people in this fight.

And thank goodness for that.


A Birthday Card and a Resignation Letter Walk into a CEO's Office...

Life is a series of decisions; hard decisions, easy decisions, good decisions, bad decisions. I have trouble deciding what toppings I want on my pizza, so making the big, life altering kinds of decisions is something I try to avoid. But sometimes, those decisions refuse to be ignored. Such was the case a few weeks ago when I turned my future into one big question mark.

It's 7:30am on a Wednesday in late August. I'm at my desk ready to dry heave, completely panicked, because... it's happening. I'm going to step down from my job without a clue what I'm going to do next. (Pause for "Are you crazy?!" mental shouting.)

Here's the deal. My job is amazing and so are the people that I work with. I've learned invaluable skills, traveled the country, and crafted messages for a massive brand. I've progressed further in my career than I could have ever dreamed in such a short amount of time, but that hasn't come without sacrifices. A lof of them. (And also some scars. Literally.) I know this big, scary decision will make me whole again, and I've been making excuses to put it off long enough.

Which brings us back to my mic drop moment.

I have a great amount of respect for my (now former) company's CEO, and I don't want to disappoint him. With my better judgment fogged by the weight of emotions I'm trying to wrangle, I walk into his office with what I deem to be a peace offering... in the form of a greeting card. My opening line:

"I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, I have your birthday card. The bad news is, I also have my letter of resignation." 


I'm More of an Indoors Girl

"What do you do for a living?"

This is a simple, normal question that every adult hears on a regular basis. I just don't have a simple, normal answer. My usual avoidance strategy is to play the vague card: "I work in advertising," and hope we can leave it at that. But we rarely do.

"Oh really? What does that entail?"

This is where things get hairy. Although I work in advertising, my responsibilities can't be summed up in "I'm like Don Draper without the drinking problem." Three years ago, I started down a logical path as a copywriter, but I've been all over the place since then. Today, my title says "Associate Creative Director," but it doesn't say that I'm also producer, director, casting director, make-up artist, shrink, chef, hair stylist and den mother. These are all responsibilities that fall under my umbrella as the creative director of several online video series that my agency creates for ... wait for it ... the NRA. Yes, that NRA.

The up side here is that my work stories are far more entertaining than anything my accountant friends have to share, and I can bewitch 95 percent of men by dissecting the pros and cons of a Glock vs. a Sig Sauer.


I'm Writing a Book. Really.

Hello, 2015. I hope you're a heck of a lot better than 2014.

This is the time of year when everyone is making resolutions to stop eating sweets, find a new job and compliment one stranger a day. I'm not very good at keeping my resolutions. For example: still haven't finished reading The Three Musketeers, which was my resolution back at the turn of 2013. Whoops.

I don't even remember the characters' names.
In 2015, I've resolved to finish my book. Not Alexandre Dumas' book; MY book.

Yep. I'm writing a book. It all started about three years ago. I had just finished recounting the saga of my latest failed dating attempt to my best friend, Becca. She laughed and shook her head as she always does, then made a request:

"For my birthday this year I want you to write all of these stories down."

What best friend wants, best friend gets. So I started to write. I used to be a meticulous journal keeper, which meant I was able to reach as far back as my first-ever-kind-of-dating-situation circa age 15. And on I forged down memory lane; from first kisses to first loves to first broken hearts. And where has that gotten me? 37 chapters spread across 157 single-spaced pages. And counting. Becca is still waiting for her 23rd birthday gift. (My bad, B.)

So as my gift to Becca and to you, my loyal blog readers, an excerpt from chapter 6: "Bunny Boy"


The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Meltdown of 2013

I like to think I've earned my place at Ackerman McQueen as a capable, intelligent member of the team. But for a time there, I was definitely known by 95 percent of the people I worked with as "the girl who lost it over cookies."

I've been known to lash out irrationally where baked goods are involved. Not just once, but multiple times. Some of my girlfriends still talk about one incident when I lost it while trying to dye icing orange. Then there was that time my best friend and I got into an argument over whether we should use a wooden or rubber spoon to mix a batch of brownies. We chased each other through the house wielding kitchen utensils.

Happier baking times.
What can I say? I have a flair for the dramatic. But nothing will ever compare to The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Meltdown of 2013.

The root of this meltdown isn't actually the cookies in question. It's really about a boy, of course. I don't recall exactly what leads to our argumentative state that night. I'm on the defensive because he seems to be critiquing everything I do, and he probably thinks I'm doing the same. The result: we're both in moods. You know, those moods where it doesn't take much to set you off. My tipping point? He says the batch of cookies I spent five hours baking the night before are mediocre at best. Aaaaaaand I'm crying.

I storm off to take a shower and cool off. When I surface, I hope to extend an olive branch and watch some House of Cards. Instead he informs me that he's typed out a note on his iPhone detailing everything I've been doing wrong during our 11-month relationship. Well that sounds FUN. I guess Frank and Clare Underwood will have to wait.

Sorry guys, BRB. Gonna cry it out.
He reads the painfully long tirade without even pausing to look up, and I fall apart. The only positive words I remember are "I love you." However, those words are immediately followed by the word "but," which pretty much eclipses that ounce of silver I-Love-You lining.

Full-on ugly girl cry status has been reached. Once he finally wraps it up, I mutter something like, "Ok...I'll try to stop doing those million things that I'm apparently doing wrong." I don't know what else to say, so I roll over and cry myself to sleep. Clearly our communication skills are top notch and we handle conflict really well.

The next morning, I show up late to work with four dozen cookies that are now 48 hours old, partially burned and symbolic of a still unresolved argument and my crumbling (pun intended) relationship. My puffy, crying eyes are hidden behind my glasses. My hair is lazily pulled into an I-don't-care-bun. I'm wearing a thin layer of waterproof mascara. Basically, I'm giving off that "don't screw with me" vibe. Unfortunately, Darren isn't catching on to said vibe.

Darren is the local forever bachelor in the office. He's hilarious, charming and an excellent story-teller. However, you would not pin him for a fantastic baker. If, for example, he challenged you to a bake-off, you would gladly accept and laugh him off as zero competition. You'd spend an entire month trash-talking and sending office-wide emails touting your impending victory. You wouldn't be even slightly concerned that your latest batch of cookies wasn't your best, because there's no way this guy can bake half as well as you -- even when you're at your worst. No way.

Except he can. He can bake better than you. Better than me. Better than all of us. By a lot. I walk into the conference room that morning and see Darren's perfect cookies, which were apparently just removed from the oven mere hours before. My cookies look wimpy. They have half the amount of chocolate. They're losing their fluff. They are, as I had already been told, mediocre at best. Help.