Making it “Official”

Making it “Official”

In case you didn’t notice, we live in the times of the internet. We have a lot of information right at our fingertips and hardly even know what a day without instant access to all our social media sources is like.

News comes from posts and photos as people share the prominent or pretty parts of their lives with the rest of the “network”…because that’s just what we do. To avoid posting something requires almost a special request or reason to not include it online. Just like that, so much of our lives are shared and revealed to the masses.

I write and say random tidbits about my days, so I’m hardly any different. But I also try to think long and hard about what it is I’m saying and why. Do I share because I feel compelled to do so? Or because it would be useful to know? Or because I just had a really great hair day? So many thoughts and decisions on what’s best, especially in the past few months, have caused me to step back and withdraw from social media and even blogging for a bit. The problem is, eventually people think you’re hiding. And then you question what it is you’re hiding from and why? If you don’t share it online, are you embarrassed or overly secretive or just overthinking it?

This. This has been my constant cycle of thoughts recently as, quite frankly, we’ve found ourselves with some BIG news. News that can’t be summed up in one description or emoji. Unlike what our social media networks and text-based conversations would suggest, we can’t relate on the same level with people as we can face-to-face or in a one-on-one conversation. Simply giving something a heart or a star or a thumbs up doesn’t sit well with me anymore. I want to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Blasting a bit of news doesn’t allow me to do those things quite the way I’d like to.

But social media forces us share in abrupt snippets. Even if we don’t, eventually someone will leak the info online or a photo will surface, and we can’t “hide” from the news–be it good or bad. Let’s be honest, I don’t think most news is quite so simple as only good or bad. Sometimes there’s excitement and panic and confusion and pain and joy and whatever you had for lunch today mixed in all at once.

Our big news? We’re expecting. We’ve actually been expecting for several months now. Expecting to have a baby and become parents and find out just how much that completely changes our lives.

But you? I don’t know what’s going on with you or how you feel about that. Maybe you’re thrilled. Maybe that news hurts to hear. Maybe you wish it was you. Maybe you’re glad it’s not. Maybe you’re wondering why the heck it took so long for me to say something. Maybe you really don’t care. Whatever it is, I don’t get to experience what you’re experiencing on the other side of the screen here. Perhaps that’s for the best, but I feel I’d be remiss to ignore that my news causes something for you, too. To be honest, it causes more than one simple emotion for me as well.

We don’t know what we’re doing or where life will take us from here, but we’re expectant. Expecting that we’ll somehow figure it out together and also lean on trusted people around us. Expecting to be challenged in new ways and to learn a few things the hard way, no matter how much we try to best prepare. Expecting to walk alongside friends who are in the same stage of life as well as with those who aren’t. Expecting to make sacrifices and expecting to find new sources of joy and inspiration.

S+S on the steps-4952

 

 

 

This Little Thing Called Encouragement

Looking Up | Moving Peaces

Do you know just how far a bit of encouragement can go?

I’ve been heavily surrounded by artists, musicians, designers and writers for the better part of the last decade. So many of them are constantly going up against the grind as they better their craft and pursue their passions. Some try to make it pay the bills while others dedicate countless hours burning the midnight oil. Success in a world like this is fleeting and even sometimes impossible to fulfill. So few get their names in lights, but so many pour their hearts out.

Over time, sadly, many give up. They don’t realize the impact. It’s not just about making money in this sort of community, it’s about making something that matters.

But how will they know it matters unless we tell them?

Seriously. If you know someone who makes or does amazing things, they need to know. So, say so. It might be just enough to keep them going.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not interested in the world of “everyone gets a medal” or enabling a life of negligence to responsibilities.

No, empty praise is sometimes worse than no praise at all. Further, a loss of accountability for rock stars, local celebrities or “talented people” is downright heartbreaking. Just because someone is good at their craft, does not mean we should over-glorify that aspect of their life while ignoring real issues.

But real encouragement, the kind that sees through the struggle and the hardship and promises support, is invaluable. Sharing the impact you’ve experienced or felt means more than you know. It’s worth more than a paycheck and carries more weight than any metric.

This goes beyond art. It’s your colleague or your mom or even your friend who just had a baby. You see their struggle but also their strengths. If you benefit from their wisdom and their quiet leadership, say so.

Sometimes it feels silly to send that message or make the bold statement telling someone how their work, their art or their service has impacted you. Perhaps they’ll blush or shrug it off, but what you don’t see is the rest of their day–the surprised phone call they make to a friend or family member saying how flattered they were or the encouragement they turn around and give to their influencer or neighbor.

It pays in dividends that you’ll never see or know, but it’s what we all need.

News on the Job Front

News on the Job Front

New Job | Moving Peaces

Back in February, I had a few choices to make and offers to consider. It came through around the same time that I was realizing my strengths and possibilities and feel more at peace with where I was in life. I didn’t love being without a job for so long, but I finally found the flexibility it afforded me and uncovered some of the dreams that had long been ignored. Last June, I had so desperately wanted to hurry up the process and shake out the remedies, but that just wasn’t the way it went.

Instead, I got to pour into my blog, plan an awesome event, invest in relationships around me, submit my writing to a major publication, play my first gig, start doing voice overs and freelance work, ask what if and go on a big trip.

Do you know how full those nine months in between jobs were? Full of questions, doubt, tears, struggle and uncertainty, sure. But also full of time, opportunity, challenge and joy.

It was far from easy, and I will continue to be a voice and sounding board for those in the midst of a job search. It is some sort of terrible to face rejection after rejection and doubt everything you’ve ever known career-wise. But I also want to share the other side, the side where I found a job.

I wish I could explain all the ways I’ve seen good come out of all of this mess this past year. It was never a guarantee that things would end up the way they did, and I will surely face trials in the days and years to come. Life brings pain and hardship, because that’s how it goes sometimes. It’s what reminds us we aren’t invincible–that we need friends, family and God in it all.

There’s a lot to learn still about my new position and what all it will entail. Right now I know that I’ll get to write, communicate and think creatively. As far as logistics go, I have the option to work from home or in the office just 20 minutes away. I get to work with a team and help a company continue to grow. And on top of that, they want me to keep going after my hopes and goals in my spare time: to keep blogging, dreaming and being me.

So thanks for listening to me and offering encouragement. Thanks for putting up with the rants and enduring the in-between. I’m glad to be where I am now but also grateful for the journey, as tough as it was.

(There are a lot of links in there…mostly to other parts of the story. This wasn’t a short story, and I have a feeling the story isn’t over yet.)

UPDATE: Sadly, this job did not work out. Major bummer. I’ve edited out some of the specifics about the job and company but decided to keep the post. It was triumphant, not only about the new job but also a celebration of everything I had learned and how far I had come. I stand by that celebration of growth today, despite the disappointment of how things happened in this particular job.

 

 

 

Job Search Struggle

Job Search Struggle

Searching | Moving Peaces

Okay, many of you know that I’ve done my share of job searching in the past. For some of you, I’m sure that statement alone cues an eye roll as it’s old news. Here’s the thing, no one seems to openly talk about the struggle in a job search. We talk about the successes and the outcomes, but rarely the struggle as it shows weakness and vulnerability. Not to mention, if you share such things publicly, it can make for a weird second interview. The problem is, when no one hears about the struggle they assume their struggle is an isolated issue. Well, ladies and gentlemen, here I come to save the day…

Searching for jobs sucks. Oh, excuse my language. I meant to say, it’s really, REALLY hard.

So, if you’re out there wondering why that job you want hasn’t happened yet, let me just reassure you that you’re not alone. From time to time we all meet that oddball of a person who just seems to “happen” upon their job and effortlessly climb the career ladder. Either a company approaches them first or their initial application in the search just got scooped up from the pile and a generous offer simply falls in their lap. (If you are one of those oddballs: 1. Congrats, you lucky duck. 2. You will not relate to the rest of this post, so you might as well walk away now. 3. I know you feel like it was merely all your hard work paying off, which might be true…but some of the rest of us also work really hard but it hasn’t quite paid off in the same way yet.)

Job searches start hopeful: There’s another opportunity out there that will suit you and pay better and make all your dreams come true.

Over time, they rip you to shreds: Oh you applied to that? Well, it went straight to the trash and you’re not good at anything.

Okay, stop! You are good at things, so just quit believing that lie. Write down your list of strengths right now and tack them to your fridge or mirror or whatever you look at a lot. Now remind yourself this search takes time. It also takes a whole lot of perseverance and effort. But just because it takes time does not mean you’ve suddenly become worthless.

In the past year I applied to nearly 60 jobs. I’m talking a custom cover letter, revised resume and all 7 pages of the application form for every one of those jobs. People would ask me how the job search was going and all I could say was that it was “still on”. I’ve been rejected so many times by companies that don’t even have the decency to send an automatic email. Of those jobs, I interviewed for 17 positions (many of which included several rounds of interviews). I was a finalist 8 times and almost always under the impression that I got the job. Do you know how hard it is to be the runner-up in an interview process? You think the next time you hear from them it will be with an offer but instead find out you’re left with nothing but dashed hopes and a wrinkled suit.

How do I know the numbers? I have a master spreadsheet containing information on every job I applied for. I included the title and company of the position, the date I applied, the referral I used if I had one and record of any communication I had with the company, whether it was an automatic email or my handwritten thank you card after an interview. Two months of searching went by…three…six…eight…to the point where I wondered if I would ever be hired again.

So what’s my point in saying all this? To give you a taste of what a real job search struggle looks like. By no means am I trying to discourage you or scare you. In fact, just the opposite. I’m confirming all your frustrations that this might be a long and painful process. I’m also saying, it’s not just you.

Even though you have not heard the feedback you want, don’t lose hope. Sure, you might have to pivot and think of different angles and opportunities that fit your strengths, but don’t mistake that for being worthless or unwanted. You bring value to a team. You have strengths and skills that are desirable and important. But you can’t give up. You have to keep going.

Go to the networking events that slowly seem to suck the life out of you. Reach out to the person who might be able to give you a referral. Send your resume to the people closest to you and see where it can get circulated. Apply for the job that you might first think you are under- or overqualified for and see where it goes. Set a schedule and make a list of all the places you plan to regularly check for jobs. Ask someone you know who works in HR or editing/communications to look over your cover letter. Find someone in your field to critique your resume. Continue to invest in yourself and your skills.

Know that you aren’t alone and press forward.

 

Big

Big

 

31 Days of Finding Self | Moving Peaces In the bustle and flurry of all that is happening, sometimes it’s easy to drown out the big. The big truths, big values, big goals. To be honest, sometimes I’m glad for it. I don’t want to be stuck with quiet and big thoughts looming. Those big things can lead to huge life change or coping with hurts I don’t know how to handle.

While being too busy can overwhelm me, being without enough to do often scares me more.

So then I fill my plate back up again. I ignore the signs that tell me to slow down. To rest. To realize when I’m taking on more than I need to without good reason. Then I’m running (figuratively speaking…I hate actual running) nonstop so that by the time I crawl into bed at night I’m too exhausted to think. Instead of finding self, I’m practically avoiding it.

The world is not about me. My own life isn’t even totally about me. Finding self is not supposed to be a selfish endeavor. I’m not trying to encourage a “me, me, me” culture. But knowing who you are is a starting point. You need to know your downfalls as well as your strengths. It helps you to understand why you do the things you do and why you react to certain things and how to take care of yourself.

As much as I sometimes try to avoid it, wrestling with thoughts and struggles has a certain value to it. It’s how you learn and grow. It’s when you resolve the inner turmoil that’s building and spilling out into your everyday life. It’s then that you realize you can’t do it all. You need the community of people around you. And it’s most when I realize I need God to get me through this life.

Find the time to work through these questions and thoughts and truths. Because these big things matter.

 

 

Haven and Hospitality

When we got married we quickly established that our home was to be a welcoming and calm space. It’s so comforting to come home to a made bed and an inviting living room. Obviously, we live here, so it definitely has its messes from time to time and piles of laundry that will never fully be conquered. I might get stir-crazy on occasion but there’s a peace about this place that I cherish.

We also desired hospitality and generosity to come from this household. What that means may vary, but right now it means being open to couchsurfers. It gives us joy to host people for a few nights while stretching us beyond our comfort. In the moments of learning about others traveling through, I learn a little more about myself.

In my home, I am an introvert. I’ve questioned my designation between being an extrovert and an introvert for years, but at home I love the calm, quiet space alone. Having that space allows me to be an extrovert outside of the house. It’s my retreat and safe haven, my place to think and ponder. Without it, I might be more introverted after all.

Bringing someone else into that haven is a risk. It’s as if I have these two goals: having a peaceful, calm home and an open-to-anyone, hospitable space, but they may seem mutually exclusive. I can’t decide which goal should supersede the other, but I can’t give up either one. It’s another of life’s many contradictions hanging in the balance. That struggle between the two illuminates beauty and deeper understanding as we seek the proper balance.

Who are you?

But more importantly, who are you to me?

Sometimes, it feels this way. After you move and the dust starts to settle on your finally assembled dining room table and recently hung wall decor, what’s left? We moved. We found jobs. We found a place to live. We found the nearest Target. Stocked the fridge. Took a mini-vacay to the ocean. Hiked the mountains. Let everyone know we made it. We’re “living the life” – I guess.

Now comes the hardest part yet. Finding people.

Last night we went to an open mic and sadly realized we won’t be seeing any of our usual Des Moines music scene people. Not only that, but we won’t see any people we know or recognize. We have no “people” here. Frankly, that can be quite the hurdle to overcome. 

Proving yourself. But not talking yourself up. Being eager and friendly. Not creeping anyone out. Taking chances. Playing it safe. Being excited to be here. Being chill and easy going. Taking things seriously. Joking around. Joining the crowd. Standing out.

What!?

Who is it that you want me to be? I’m exhausted just trying to keep up. It’s hard to always be “on” with people. It’s a struggle to know what part of “me” to be around people. I want to be just me, but sometimes it seems that “me” is pretty worthless without a deeper meaning and/or connection to “them”. What can I offer? Who do I know? What do we have in common? Well, in answer to all of those questions – not much.

So this is that hard part we all saw coming. Can’t do much but ride it out.