Powerful people empower people.

It sounds cliche, and I guess it is. But, the important part here is that it’s true. Don’t waste your time with silly little people that bring you down. What’s important is surrounding yourself with people who celebrate your successes, push you to be better and believe you’re always capable of more.

When people feel empowered, they believe more in themselves and their ability to control both their personal and their professional lives. Helping to empower others promotes optimism, self-sufficiency and can help immensely with ‘the battle’. As much as we like to act/pretend or believe that what others say and do doesn’t effect us, it does in a big way.

So if you’re feeling up for it, and want to empower those around you, here are some small suggestions of how to be a better support system, mentor and all around good fucking person.

  1. Always offer the words ‘thank you’. It sounds so simple but they seem to be the most undervalued words in the English language. The truth is, when you say thank you, you’re letting someone know you appreciate what they’ve done for you. And when it’s not always clear, that ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
  2. Give your time and attention without asking for anything in return.
  3. Give sincere compliments. Actually work at it if you have to. Why? Because you should never pass up the opportunity to make someone smile, and, make them feel better about their day.
  4. Go out of your way to help new people. Whether it’s a neighbour, a coworker or however they fit into your life, it’s an unnerving feeling being the new person. Make their transition a little easier by going out of your way to introduce yourself and provide help where you can.
  5. Share successes. When you find success, the people that matter will celebrate your success. The people that matter are people you’ll want to share your successes with. So, spread the wealth.
  6. Listen, listen, listen. Sometimes… actually, most of the time, what people really need is someone who will hear them. So, listen. The time will come when someone will return the favour, trust me.
  7. Exemplify the behaviour you wish for others to follow. When it really comes down to it, good people attract good people and assholes attract assholes. Who do you want in your life?
  8. Provide positive reinforcements. No, human beings don’t need compliments to be successful. But if you help someone in celebrating the small victories, each time you do it, it’ll boost their confidence more and more.
  9. Be honest, always. Honesty, even when awful, is far more valuable than any lie, no matter how comforting.
  10. Promote autonomy. Allow others to know you believe in them while giving them the leeway to do things for themselves.

At the end of the day, it’s like my grandpa always said… treat others the way you want to be treated. If you’re empowering others your benefitting others. And, if you’re empowering others, they’ll empower you. It’s a nice circle to be in. So please, consider it.

A (whiny) day in the life of an unemployed millennial.

It’s been a few weeks now since my mom was officially declared to be in remission. Here, here! I’m thankful for the incredible doctors, nurses, caretakers and specialists who looked after her for the past eight months. It’s all because of them that she’s now healthy.

Since she’s been in remission, I’ve been struggling to find my way. Truthfully, I don’t know how I fit into this family. When I was looking after my mom I had a purpose for being here. Now I just feel like a little bit of a dead-weight permanently attached to their ankles.

Every day is different, but most days involve the same themes to them.

8:30 am – Wake up, take dog outside, feed dog.

9:00 am – Eat breakfast, watch the Maury show. (I’m not sure if anyone else loves this show as much as I do but watching Maury makes me feel a lot better about my problems)

10:00 am – Crawl back into bed because… really, I don’t have anything to be awake for.

11:00 am – Wake up for a second time.

11:30 am – Go to meet my brother and sister-in-law for lunch. Tell my brother and sister-in-law how excited i am to be starting my new job next week, that I really needed this and that’s important to me to be making a pay-cheque again. Tell them all about the issues I’ve been having in the past six months trying to find work and how frustrating the process is and feel as though they genuinely understand and don’t just presume I’m lazy and unmotivated. It’s a nice change.

1:30 pm – Return home. Take the dog for a quick walk to get her out and give her some exercise.

2:00 pm – ‘To-be boss’ phones and leaves irky voicemail while I am in the shower asking me to call her back immediately.

2:20 pm – Call back my ‘to-be boss’ to be informed that the job I am supposed to start in three days I am no longer hired for. Is it technically considered as being fired if I never made it to my first day? Apparently corporate restructuring came down just three days before my start date, so my job offer has been rescinded. But, she said ‘You’re a smart kid, I know you’ll land on your feet’, so everything’s going to be okay. Right?

2:22 pm – Immediately start crying. Cannot control the crying. Text my mom and Knight to tell them what happened. Proceed to spend several hours feeling sorry for myself and mad at the world whilst trying to tell myself that this wasn’t meant to be, I’m meant for bigger things and that I’ve ‘dodged a bullet’.

6:30 pm – Ordered takeout

6:35 pm – Back to the drawing board. I opened my computer back up, searched jobs in this city and jobs in Calgary (where I’d like to be) and began editing and submitting my resume to each of these businesses.

I would just like to say, job hunting is an aggravating process. One of the applications I filled out asked “Can you speak Canada?” That doesn’t even make sense. I can definitely speak better English than that, so can I have the job of creating your job applications from now on?

8:30 pm – Take dog for a long walk. There’s a large hill with 100 stairs near my house. I like to take the dog there and I do the stairs and she runs the hill beside me a few times over to tire her out. Exercise is good for the soul, especially when you’re in a bad mood. I wholeheartedly believe that.

10:00 pm – Back to the drawing board, continuation from earlier. I’m browsing job postings. This night I am also submitting my resume to McDonald’s and Burger King. I may not like the outfits, but I think it’s time I start one of these jobs, at the least, to ensure I make some money this year.

I like to put Friends, The Big Bang Theory or Two Broke Girls on the tv in the background. The great thing about all three of these shows is that they’re pretty much on at all hours of the day if you look.

Job hunting isn’t the funnest process. At least, with these shows I can have a couple of laughs during the hunt.

1:00 am – Play Clash Royale until I’m ready to fall asleep.

I’m not really sure where I’m going next. I’m not really sure what I’m going to do. At some point I’m going to have to tell my friends and family that I was ‘unhired’ and had the rug pulled from beneath my feet. I presume that’ll come on Monday when they all ask me how work is going and I don’t have a response fo rthem.

Right now, I guess I just have to keep going until I find the path that’s right for me. I hate having so many unanswered questions. I hate having so much up in the air. For someone who moved out of the house when she was 16, it’s a really hard pill to swallow to be unemployed in my parents basement at 30.

I can truly say that I never saw this happening for my life. I can truly say that it’s a struggle, most days, to keep going. But I guess the important thing at this point is to keep going and stop feeling sorry for myself. I need to get out of this rut. Life isn’t always easy and I need to be better at dealing with that.

I know I’ll land on my feet eventually. I just wish I knew when that was. Because, quite frankly, not knowing is what makes this so hard.

I’m struggling tonight.

I’m lamenting over opportunities missed, opportunities passed and opportunities forgotten.

I’m having trouble just… existing right now. I feel bad. We all have our days, and I know this will pass, eventually. I just… wish I could avoid times like these. I wish that I was happier with where I’m at with my life.

Honest thoughts: all I want to do is crawl into my bed and cry.

I’m not even anxious. I’m just… doubting myself.

How do I make an employer see the talents that I possess could be of great benefit to them when several hundred people are applying for the same job? How do I make myself stand out? I know that in person I can stand out, but somehow, I seem to keep falling short.

I’m trying to not beat myself up. I really am. I’m just trying to figure out where I am lacking. Why do I keep making it to the final step and falling short?

Tips for coping with anxiety from a Psychiatrist

The frontal lobe is the part of the brain that is responsible for executive functions such as planning for the future, judgment, decision-making skills, attention span, and inhibition. It’s responsible your ‘normal’ mood.

For a regular person, the Amygdala (fight or flight) portion of the brain is switched on when one comes in contact with danger, or potential danger. The Amygdala takes over the frontal lobe to ensure you make/take steps to protect yourself. For example, when you’re walking a trail and you can see a bear in the path ahead of you – that is when the Amygdala comes into play.

For an anxious person, it can almost seem as though there is no clear line between what is perceived as safe and what is perceived as dangerous. Instead of their being a clear switch to turn on the Amygdala, it seems to consistently stay on. Almost like a light with a dimmer switch. The light can be bright, or it can be dim, but it always stays on, and that anxious feeling always stays there, in your mind.

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety before, you know that static can really take over your brain and make it hard to do or focus on anything. Everything seems to stress you out more, and everyone seems to agitate you with even the most simple of gestures. Once you’re in that state of mind, it’s hard to escape it.

I’ve recently started seeing a psychiatrist to see if it will help me cope with the massive amounts of anxiety that I’ve had in 2019. And, quite honestly, if it’s something that you can afford, I highly recommend it. But, I realize that it’s not a feasible option for everyone. It’s expensive. And, if you’re not in Canada, it gets even more expensive! The Psychiatrist that I’ve been seeing has given me a few points of suggestion to help me cope when I become anxious, and I wanted to share them. They might seem quite obvious, but sometimes it helps to see everything written down in one place to take things more seriously.

  1. Exercise daily. Just 30 minutes of exercise that elevates your heart rate is the equivalent of a mild dose of prozac to the body. Something as simple as going for a walk each night can greatly boost the serotonin production in your body.
  2. Think of a memory, one happy memory, and keep that memory at the top of your mind, always. When you think of happy memories, it produces serotonin in your body that can help boost your mood. If you keep one happy memory at top of mind, always, you can use that memory when you’re feeling triggered. Forcing that happy memory on your brain when you’re feeling anxious/stressed can help trick your brain. It’s not going to take away the things in your life causing you stress, but it will help you cope with the stress better.
  3. When you get anxious, write down your happy memory, much like a journal entry. Whether it be in your phone, on your computer, in a journal, on a napkin at a restaurant… just write it down. The brain is such an analytical object, seeing the written words, wherever it might be written, will help your brain to think of the happy memory when you become triggered. While it may not happen right away, after a while of writing down your happy memory time and time again, your brain will automatically associate the happy memory with your triggers in order to help you through the struggle.
  4. Sleep. Sleep is so integral to keep the brain functioning properly. If you’re feeling anxious, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to ensure you’re getting adequate sleep and sleeping during the normal period for which one should be sleeping. (IE. Don’t sleep from 10 am – 6 pm) Giving your brain the proper rest it needs is much like taking an off-day at the gym. Much like your arm muscles needing to recover during leg-day, your brain uses sleep as a period of recovery. Without it, your stress will remain high.
  5. Consider an anti-inflammation diet. Inflammation wreaks havoc on the body and if you’re in a state of mind that is wreaking havoc on your soul, having an inflamed body is only going to make your state of anxiousness seem worse. With as many alternatives to Dairy and Gluten as there are these days, it’s easier than ever to avoid foods that could potentially be wreaking havoc on your body.
  6. Always keep music near by. As the universal language of the human condition, music can help distract you from yourself when needed most. Even sad songs. The simple act of putting those headphones in your ears and focusing on the lyrics or the beat, rather than what is plaguing your mind can help to provide one a greater sense of peace and help to boost serotonin when it’s needed most.
  7. Keep some sort of small ‘knick knack’ with you at all times. Make sure it’s something simple, something that can fit in your pocket, or in your purse, or wherever it needs to go so that it’s with you. When you’re feeling triggered, take out the knick knack and study it. Tell yourself it’s colour, it’s shape, it’s dimension, it’s size. Be as descriptive as you can in your mind about what this knick knack is and what purpose it serves. While you might just look like you’re fidgeting to everyone else in the world, what you’re really doing is sending a message to your brain that these triggers and anxious thoughts do not control you. Putting your attention elsewhere in moments of anxiousness is much like avoiding your boyfriend when he’s being a jerk. You are strong, fierce and independent and no boyfriend nor negative thought is going to weigh you down.
  8. Consider keeping a journal. Use this journal to write out all the nasty, or mean or negative thoughts in your brain. Sometimes, just having these thoughts escape your brain, even if no one ever reads them, provides catharsis for the mind. And that’s the ultimate goal. So test the journal method and see if it helps at all.

There’s no quick fix to combating anxiety. It’s going to take weeks, months or even years to train your brain that the irrational fears aren’t as bad as you think they are and that the real fears can be faced, and conquered, if you’re willing to work at it. Everyone faces hardship, and that likely won’t ever go away. But, if you can stare that hardship down and put yourself back to a good place in life, you can lock those anxious feelings in a tiny little box in the back of your brain and tell them to stay there and shut up. (Bad analogy, I know)

I’ve committed myself to trying these tips, to making a conscious effort to retrain my brain and defeating the static. Fight or flight is not a bad portion of my brain… but it also need not be on 24/7.

If you are out there and you’re struggling, I see you. I hear you. I understand you. You are not alone in this. Anxiety, depression, whatever plethora of mental illness/struggle you might be dealing with, I am with you.

My psychologist said that, in her professional opinion, through her patients she often finds that the people who struggle most are those of higher intelligence. And this is because they see the world and the people around them in a way that the majority of the population cannot understand. Being hyper alert and aware, it’s a sign of high intelligence, and also, most often a symptom for highly anxious people.

So… glass half full? If you’re reading this and you are struggling – kudos to you for being smarter than everyone else.

A day in the life of an unemployed millennial.

I’ve been unemployed since December 31, 2018. I was fired, without cause (legally speaking). It’s actually a bit of a story that I, at one point, had posted on this blog but took down. Regardless of details, here goes:

8:15 am – Wake up.

8:20 am – Drink BCAAs and cook eggs for breaky.

8:45 – 9:45 am – Some time during this period I will drive my mom to the cancer clinic. The time she begins her treatment depends entirely on what the doctor has scheduled so it is different each morning.

~ Sit with mom at cancer clinic, through appointments with Doctor and Nurse Practioners.

12:00 pm – Return home from cancer clinic. Make Lunch for myself, my mom and my dad (if he’s off work that day)

1:00 pm – Do dishes. My mom usually goes to nap at this time, so I am left with some freedom to pick up around the house, or watch Gilmore Girls. Usually it’s a bit of both.

2:00 pm – My Mom’s awake and now in her ‘cancer won’t get me down’ kind of mood, determined to go out into the world and do something. So I will take her out to run her errands, or wander around the mall. Just something to get her out into the world that doesn’t take place at the hospital.

4:00 – 5:00 pm – This is my sacred hour. During this hour I’ll look at/update my blog or head out on my own and just wander, decompress and calm myself.

5:00 pm – Start cooking dinner. Eat Dinner. Clean up Dinner. Do dishes.

6:30 pm – Help my Mom with various things.

7:30 pm – My Mom usually crawls into bed. I’ll take the dog for a walk, or watch Jeopardy. Or both.

8:30 pm – Sit down at computer and start looking for jobs online. Send my resume off for positions that don’t sound sucky or shitty. A lot of times I’ll send my resume off for positions that do sound suck or shitty as well. I’ll also respond to emails at this time, browse wordpress a little more and, play Clash Royale, watch TV or do something mindless and easy.

12:30 am – Go to bed.

Of course, not every day is the same. But, it’s a lot of just helping my mom at this time. She needs all the help she can get, lately. And, luckily for her, she has a lot of support from myself, my brother and my father. Cancer will do that to a family, though. I admire anyone who’s been through cancer with someone in their family. It’s a lot of hard work both for the person suffering and for the person looking after them.

Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, she should have a status of being in remission in just a few short weeks. I’m looking forward to her being healthy again, because I know she wants to go back to enjoying life and not feeling so sick all of the time.

I also think that soon enough, when she’s healthy and starts enjoying life again, perhaps things will change for me, too. I’m looking forward to going back to work. I’m looking forward to not having to worry so much. I’m just looking forward to life calming down a little bit.

This became a lot longer than I wanted too. People say that I’m the ultimate cliche because I am an unemployed millennial. I think, though, that’s what happens when you judge a book by it’s cover. Or perhaps I am normal and this is normal. Either way, the most important thing to me at this point in time is that my mom gets healthy again.

That’s all.

I bought a plane ticket.

That’s right, I did it. After weeks of humming and hawing about it, trying to talk myself out of it, telling myself that I shouldn’t be spending the money right now, etc, etc… I pulled the trigger and I bought a ticket.

It’s definitely not an exotic locale, but what matters to me is that it is somewhere that will make me happy. And I really need something to smile about right now.

I’ve been afraid to tell people about it, because I don’t wan them to lecture me on spending my money in a frivolous manner when I don’t have a steady flow of income right now. I’m not sure how I’m going to break the news, but, I will do it.

Yesterday, as I sat in bed reading one of my favourite books of all time, I made it to the chapter that has stood out in my mind since I first read it as a teenager. The quote, as follows:

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.

If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.

Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild

And I thought ‘I’m not waiting any longer’. So I did it. I went online, I booked the tickets, and I’m going.

It’ll be a short trip. Nothing in life lasts forever, I know that. And, in spite of the fact that it might seem rather reckless to book a trip when you don’t have a steady stream of income coming in, I’m not stupid when it comes to money. I know how to save, where to spend, how to choose the cheaper options. I’m going to be smart about this, of course. But I’m also going to live my life.

Life should be adventure, and, when it really comes down to it, I’d rather be the person that says ‘I’ve been there and it was amazing’ than the person who says ‘I’ve always wanted to go’.

Not afraid of what’s to come.

Normally people talk about having ups and downs in life. From my perspective, the past eight weeks of my life have had a lot of downs. I won’t lie, there has been a few good moments. But, it’s seemed as though the bad has far outweighed the good. For me, bad things don’t come in three’s, bad things come in eleven’s or twelve’s.

Nevertheless, life goes on and we must learn to deal with what is put in front of us. For me, for the first time in eight weeks, I am feeling hopeful. At least I think this is what hope is.

Today was a really good day. Nothing overly special happened, it was just a calm quiet Sunday. I think that’s why I liked it so much though. Calm and quiet are good things to have right now.

This week I will be getting some blood tests done to test for autoimmune diseases. I’m not afraid of being diagnosed with something. At this point, I would actually really like to be given a diagnosis. At least with a diagnosis, I could have proof that my symptoms aren’t in my head. Also, with a diagnosis, I could say ‘okay, this is what it is, lets work towards minimizing my symptoms and the toll it takes on me’. Wish me luck!

In other news, something really cool is happening this year that I haven’t really talked, or thought much about the past eight weeks. My two younger brothers are identical twins. This year, they’re having babies… just two months apart from each other. They’re going to become dad’s for the first time, right around the same time. I’m excited to see what the future holds for them, I am excited to meet the newest little additions to my family and I have been really enjoying shopping for adorable baby clothes for them. The babies will be technically both cousins and half-siblings (DNA of identical twins being the same). How cool is that?

This week I am determined to make farther steps to getting a new job. I’m tired of being unemployed. I don’t need work to feel as though I have a purpose, but I want to work to feel as though I am contributing to something. Furthermore, I want to travel so I need to work to save money. All things said, I NEED A JOB. Vee does not want to tolerate being unemployed any longer. I am a badass, intelligent human being with a university degree and ten year’s experience working PR for a massive organization. I CAN DO THIS. I CAN. (That was a pep talk to myself, in case it wasn’t clear)

It’s 8:30 on a Sunday night and I’m already considering curling up and calling it a night. Is this what being a grandma is like?

Rest easy, world.