Quitting My Job and Hitting the Road

I gave my “I’m quitting” notice at my job in June. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled and certainly wasn’t having enough time to focus on my writing (which is the reason I moved to Los Angeles in the first place). My last day was July 14th. Since then, I’ve traveled to Montana, NYC, and now Iceland. I’ll be back home to Los Angeles in less than a week. I knew I’d be getting a new job once I returned (not sure what job, though!), so I wanted to take advantage of this time while I could.

Travel always clear my brain, and re-sets my mental system. Seeing how other people live helps me figure out what I might want to do with my life going forward. In NYC, I got some inspiration when I met a hospice care counselor at a brewery and talked to her for over an hour about her work. If I wasn’t aiming to be a working television and film writer, I’d be very interested in getting my social work degree.

Anyhow, I’ll share two of my favorite experiences in Iceland so far:

Dettifoss: The most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. It really is awe-inspiring. You feel the pounding of the water trembling under your feet. I imagine it’s like Niagara Falls, though I’ve never been.

IMG_3862.JPG

Solfataras: This is a sulphur geyser type place. It’s very, very SMELLY. Imagine bad eggs times a million. But it’s very cool, as there are a lot beautiful colors and vistas.

IMG_3842.JPG

Would You Use A Relationship Contract?

Last week, there was an column in the beloved Modern Love section of the NY Times in which the author Mandy Len Catron described the ‘relationship contract’ she has with her boyfriend. The name pretty much describes what it is, but basically, the idea is that you create a contract between you and your significant other that details terms of your romantic relationship.

Here’s a bit from the article:

The terms range from the familiar (“We will take care of each other when one of us is sick”) to the fanciful (“If we’re both sick, it’s all up to the dog”). In fact, Roscoe gets an entire section, detailing his walking schedules, vet visits and even how sweet we think he is.

We have a houseguest section (guests can stay for up to two weeks but must be mutually vetted) and an item that deals with Mark’s sweaty running clothes (“He agrees to hang these up in the spare room or on the back of the bathroom door but he wants Mandy to know that this may be a fairly common occurrence”).

We agree to split the bill when eating out with one exception: “Special meals (date night, celebrations, etc.) will not be split so one person can treat the other.”

Most couples would probably tackle these types of issues in their contracts:

  • Sex
  • Cleaning
  • Frequency of date nights
  • How often they see other friends alone

I love the idea of this! So much can go unsaid in a relationship, and these unexpressed feelings can eventually cause resentment and even worse – a breakup.

So. Would you create a relationship contract?

At this very moment, it seems a little too formal for me. It’s not even that I find it unromantic. It’s more that I tend to fluctuate in what I need from month to month. And I hate the idea that I don’t have fluidity in my relationships, especially one of the most important ones. But I realize I also have a problem in firmly sticking to plans; I like the idea that I can change my mind if the mood strikes (maybe that’s selfish, I don’t know?).

While the contract idea seems a little too rigid for my taste, I LOVE the idea of creating a couple mission statement. In the article, Len Catron writes:

Our contract addresses much of what must be negotiated in any relationship, especially when cohabitating. It begins with our reasons for being together: “We aspire to help each other be more ethically-minded and generous friends, community members and global citizens.” I know it sounds idealistic, but I’ve had relationships that left me feeling lonely and small. This time I wanted to be more intentional about looking outward as much as we look in.

This is beautiful. I often wonder what my boyfriend and I can do together to make the world a better place. As in, what benefits do we bring to the world when we are united?

In my relationship, my boyfriend pushes me to reach out to people more. In fact, just this afternoon, I was feeling lonely and depressed about my life in LA, and explaining to him how I don’t have the same connections I do in NY, and he reminded me that I’ve met a few women who I really liked and thought had close-friend potential. But I didn’t reach out enough to make that connection blossom. He encouraged me to reach out to them which is something I might be too timid to do on my own. Because of our relationship and his values that prioritize family and friends and loyalty, I’ve made a stronger effort to overcome social insecurity and connect more with people.

So, our mission statement would probably include helping each other foster connections and build a community in Los Angeles.

What are your thoughts on relationship contracts and mission statements?

 

freelance-contract-dos-and-donts

Are You One of the 9 to 11% of Americans Who…?

…would report feeling “daily worry and stress without a lot of happiness and enjoyment” in your life? Because according to the long-standing Gallup “U.S. Mood” Poll, 9 to 11 percent of Americans feel that way. Apparently and not surprisingly, the numbers were even higher immediately following the 2016 election, reaching a four-year high of 13.1%.

Personally, I fall into that depressing bucket now. But I’m also dealing with a lot of stress – fights with my boyfriend, anxiety about my career not moving forward fast enough (I’m 35), drinking too much to deal with the stress of uncertainty, and the general fear of Trump and losing access to Obamacare.

I used to be a lot more excited about life and my career in my twenties. The upside of the fact that I’m less happy now is that the happiness in my twenties made me somewhat dreamy and complacent, and so I wasn’t working as hard as I should have at my writing. Now, the fire is lit under my a** and I have been writing a ton more to deal with the anger at myself for not being further ahead.

While I don’t always experience daily stress and worries, because I do have amazing days where I feel recharged and refreshed, I do think I’d put myself in the 9 – 11% bucket of Americans who are struggling to find fulfillment.

So, what do you do if, like me, you realize that you would put yourself in that bucket?

Well, for me it’s all about testing variables to improve. Experimenting with your life. Making small changes and tweaks to see if you feel happier or more fulfilled from them.

Here are some things I’ve done and/or plan to do in the future:

  • Really analyzing my interactions with people to see if they uplift me
  • Trying natural anxiety relief supplements, like Omega 3 pills (heavy on the EPA and less on DHA)
  • Spending less time staring at my phone in public places
  • Writing EVERY DAY to push my career forward
  • Exercising at least once a week (wasn’t doing that before, d’oh!)

Would you put yourself in the 9-11% bucket, and if so, how do you plan to change it?

Women In Their 30s Now Having More Babies Than Women in Their 20s

For the first time in over three decades in the US, women in their 30s are having more babies than women in their 20s.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released data last Wednesday that the birth rate among women aged 30 to 34 last year was slightly higher than that of women aged 25 to 29. Also according to the data, women are having their first child at age 28 on average. Consider that in 2014, the average age for women having their first child was 26.3 according to the CDC. That seems like a pretty high jump in age to me, considering it’s been only 3 years since 2014!

Experts say that the change is partially due to a reduction in teen pregnancy rates. But that’s only part of the story. A lot of women, including myself, feel it’s okay to have children later. I’m 35, and I want children and haven’t had them yet. I don’t feel societal pressure to have children, only biological. And even that biological pressure is somewhat tempered by knowing many women who have had babies over 40, and the fertility options that new technology brings. I’ve definitely calmed down a bit more in the past year or so, because I know I’m just not ready yet and that it’s better to feel that I have the right partner and financial situation to raise a child than to ‘just do it.’

But, for my own peace of mind, I’ll be making an appointment for fertility diagnostic testing at USC.

Skin Discoloration In Your 30s

Have you noticed any skin discolorations since reaching your 30s? I have, namely brown spots and patches on my face (maybe only noticeable to me at the moment). I’ve started my own personal investigation into what’s going on (by that I mean obsessive Googling!).

Strangely, the first time I noticed it wasn’t while looking in a mirror. It was while doing FaceTime on my Mac. There was a little brown patch above my lip. When I looked in the mirror, I could barely make out this brown-ish area. I guess it was something with the light on the Mac.

Soon after noticing that first discoloration above my lips, I spotted a small brown spot on my cheek, and then…oh wow…what’s that? Small brown dots on my nose. Oy.

It kind looks something like these images below:

Looking at this spots jogged something in my memory – namely, a conversation I had with a friend a few months ago. She told me she has some discoloration on her skin, and said it was melasma. I figured that perhaps that could be what I had too. So I dived into some internet research, and sure enough (according to my own self-diagnosis, thanks Dr. Jane!), it seems like melasma to me.

What’s melasma, you ask? Well, according to medicinenet.com, melasma is:

A very common patchy brown, tan, or blue-gray facial skin discoloration, usually seen in women in the reproductive years. It typically appears on the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead, and chin of women 20-50 years of age

And what’s it caused by? Many times it’s hormones. This is why pregnant women and those women on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) have melasma. It can also be caused by sun exposure. Personally, I only started to notice these spots in the past two years, and since I moved from NYC to LA about three and a half years ago, maybe that’s been the cause of my own discoloration.

So what can you do about it? Well, you can get a prescription for hydroquinone cream or lotion – which works by blocking the natural chemical process in your skin responsible for creating melanin, which produces dark skin pigmentation. You can also get a chemical peel or microdermabrasion.

And of course, wearing sunscreen will definitely help delay melasma outbreaks. Holistic healers also say that trying meditation and yoga can be helpful, as they can help re-balance your hormones.

I’ve yet to try any of these remedies myself, but I’m planning on making a dermatologist appointment soon.

Fear of Loss in Relationships

When it comes to sustaining peaceful romantic relationships, I’m not the best. I try really hard, but I have bad anxiety, and that makes me fear the worst. My brain can get caught in a negative thought loop pretty quickly — “Will this last?” “Does he love me enough?” “What if he learns more about me and doesn’t want to be with me anymore?” Or worst, I place too much emphasis on the micro-moments of the relationship (like, what does it mean that he normally texts me around this time, but today he didn’t?) that I forget about to be present.  GAH! It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

So, basically, I’m terrified of losing, to the point where I may self-sabotage myself to subconsciously have the relationship end. Stupid, right?

I’m not sure how to get rid of this nagging feeling, other than the normal things, like going to therapy and obsessively googling self-help websites for fixes. I’ve read a lot of Buddhist teachings about how you need to recognize that you can’t be attached to anything forever. And by truly accepting that, you won’t suffer. But still, it’s hard to not feel deep attachment to someone you love.

I just know that I can’t act from that place of fear – from the fear of the relationship ending at any point. I have to remind myself that acting out of fear is destined to cause problems in any relationship I may have, because I’m not present.

One mind trick that helps me when I’m feeling anxious about my relationship is to think about the absolute worst case scenario. And when I think about how it’s not life or death, I know I will be okay.

root-of-suffering-is-attachment-570x377

Rebooting Old Friendships

As an only child, I’ve been fascinated by friendship since pre-school, when I had the opportunity to make my very first real friend.  Whose name I don’t remember…oops!

On my birthday two weeks ago, an old college friend who I haven’t spoken to in maybe 5 years reached out to me. There was never a falling-out between us. Rather, she mysteriously disappeared. She stopping returned emails, texts, calls and just vanished. A group of her friends from med school and I tried to figure out what was going on, but we couldn’t track her down. Because we knew she had disappeared on other people at an earlier stage in her life, and that there had been recent drama in her life, we didn’t think she was kidnapped or anything crazy like that. We knew she must have chosen to leave of her own volition. Also, one friend heard from her and passed along the information that she was safe but not looking to be contacted.

Back to my birthday. I got an email from this old friend who disappeared. It was a very simple message – she wished me a happy birthday and apologized for missing so much of my live/events in my life, etc. and asked if I’d be willing to open up a friendship again. She didn’t mention why she disappeared or what happened.

While some people might have been hurt to have been left by a friend, I was excited to hear from her. She was someone who I didn’t depend on completely for emotional support, and I something I loved about her was her independence and free spirited nature. While we never had that much in common, I always enjoyed spending time with her and loved her intellect and passion for life. She inspired me because she gave 100% to everything she did – becoming a neurosurgeon, going to residency, and then deciding to quit it all to write. She’s now got a book published. It’s pretty amazing. She’s already accomplished so many big deal things in her life.

We’ve been emailing back and forth a few times, but we haven’t gotten to meaty subjects yet, though I’m sure that is coming in time.

I read an article this week about how to deal with re-building these sorts of friendships – ones that disappear and then re-emerge: A Psychologist Explains How to Revive a Dead Friendship.

The most important take-away from the article for me was this: when re-building an old friendship, you need to be willing to see that person with a completely fresh set of eyes. Easier said than done, but I think it’s the only way to have an authentically honest new friendship.

It’s like if an artist were to paint another painting on top of an already used canvas. Like, when art historians discover than underneath a Picasso was an older Picasso painting he painted years prior.

I’m not sure what will happen with my new/old friend, especially because we don’t live in the same city, but I’m curious to find out.

%d bloggers like this: