so my thyroid is a bitch.

i don’t know if it’s the dawn of a new year, but there are ~8 things i want to write about so here i am.

i mentioned, when i told the saga of my dumb wrist, that one of the key events of the whole thing was how my bloodwork came back with very not good, underactive thyroid levels. in the past few months, i have heard things like “i have no idea how you’re walking around” and “your thyroid is trying to kill you.” cool.

what most people didn’t realize was that – i wasn’t surprised. i actually have suspected for years that my thyroid is a hot mess. though i’ve gotten things tested a few times, i was always told the results were normal. also, i have felt like a garbage fire* for about half the time for the past five years or so.

i blamed myself, somehow. i told myself i was weak, and that i was just somehow a sub-par human. i told myself everyone else was better than me, at basic living. i pushed through exhaustion more times than i can remember, to the point of occasional collapse and frequent tears. i tried to come to terms with my own inadequacy, my inability to do as much as anyone else, my need for rest, my tendency to gain weight despite no changes in eating habits or activity and my subsequent failure to shed that weight despite torturous diets, my headaches and occasional full body pain that left me bedridden and moaning. with how i couldn’t, basically, create the “wild and precious life” that we’re all supposed to be chasing after. (i hate that fucking quote.)

i feel really, really bad for the ways i hated myself, now. you’d think i am relieved, to have a diagnosis and a fairly easy regimen of meds to get on, and i am. but more than that, i mourn for that poor girl who felt like shit all the time and then felt like more shit for feeling like shit.

all this time, i think, there was a reason. there was a real reason.

there are many things i excel at. with almost all of them, i pull through the best when my choice is “do the thing” or “run into that five alarm blaze.” i am great at doing the things that MUST BE DONE when things are dire, when the rest of the world is crumbling. i am not great at being proactive, at doing anything, when it doesn’t feel all that necessary. taking care of myself has never felt all that necessary.

and then it became very necessary. because i couldn’t get my wrist surgery until i got my thyroid under control.

i’m on a synthetic hormone now that replaces what my body isn’t making. it hasn’t been perfect. i felt much better for a while, but it turned out my dosage was a little high and i swung to the other direction, having an overactive instead of underactive thyroid. i felt as shitty as i always used to for most of december. i lost what i’m estimating is about 1/5 of the hair on my head. my weight has fluctuated, along with my hunger. i have been unable to sleep at night and therefore exhausted all day, and i have been anxious and on edge. but through all of it, at least i know i am trying.

and at least i know there’s a reason.

i wrote this last week and things have improved since then, though i know it’s going to be a balancing act for the rest of my life. still, all things told, i’m very, very grateful.

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fireworks sometimes make me sad.

not as a concept, of course. i dig fireworks, especially the ones that glitter and sparkle in the sky for a while. i wish i could see them at times that aren’t the fourth of july or new year’s eve, and i like going to baseball games that have fireworks at the end.

for the duration of every fireworks show i have ever viewed, i’ve been a little bit anxious. because all i can think about, while this glorious, fire in the sky display is happening, is that it’s going to be over. it’s going to end and it will all be over and how will i remember, how will i hold on to something so pretty?

i’m terrible at endings. i mean, i don’t know anyone who claims a special talent for them, but – i am just so overtaken with anxiety at the idea of the clock running down. it is a very specific thing and ties right in with my difficulties making choices without seeing all of the options and my preoccupation with order and completion. but imminent endings, they are one of my undoings.

i got to see fireworks this year. i haven’t seen a solid display in several years, and i often remember my family heading down to jones beach to see the grucci show. i loved running around the sand dunes at sunset, and settling down on a blanket in the sand, and not knowing or caring about the horrible traffic jam we’d encounter on the way out, just getting lost in giant fire explosions over the ocean.

and as soon as they started, as always, i could only think of when they’d be over. how long would they last? how many would i get? would it be satisfying? would i feel cheated? how could i remember and hold onto every. last. one. and lord, it was so immediately exhausting.

so i said…how about not, this time? how about i just watch and enjoy what’s happening, put my phone away because i NEVER take a good fireworks photo, and just follow along. how about i just accept what is given me. how about i choose not to care when it ends.

and for the next fifteen minutes, that is exactly what i did. it was a beautiful show with good friends, just off the beach, and i felt so incredibly free to enjoy it fully.

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six months in

six months in

it’s a little over six months – almost seven, really, since my last day at work.

which is a funny thing to say because i assuredly still work. even if my boyfriend sees me still tucked into bed when he is venturing out into the cold in the morning (i’m sorry. i know that’s hard. forgive me.)

it’s hard from inside of self-employment, you guys. it is very hard. and that’s impossible to know before you head into it. you can read about it and you can be prepared for it but you cannot know it. and really, that’s alright. there is a part of dreaming where you should be dedicated to the good parts, the things that will sparkle and shine.

what it feels like from inside is this: am i doing enough for my clients? am i doing a good job, period? do i have too many clients? do i have enough clients? how do i decide what the right amount of clients is? i have other projects besides client work – when am i ever supposed to work on them? am i making enough money? what does enough money even mean? is there ever enough money? i’m not marketing myself. shit, i really should be marketing myself. i would love to do that training thing or go to that conference but its many thousands of dollars so lol. i finished a thing! i answered six emails! i get to pee and have lunch now! ugh, today is hard. am i allowed to go read a book now? i mean, that’s why i did this, right, so i’d be able to do whatever i wanted whenever i wanted? you mean that’s not how it works? i was lied to! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN, QUARTERLY TAXES?!? *gets email* oh, my client is thrilled with my work, i’m gonna go glow forever now.

so, that’s a lot. it is constant cacophony. i have no idea if it will be right for me forever – and i also imagine the shape of what i do is going to change over time – but i am enjoying the ride while i’m on it, right now.

here’s the good stuff. i was able to go see dear friends for two weeks, because i could take my work with me. i was able to go see a friend who has a six month old baby for a full day on a thursday. i do not really get up before 8 – yes i have seen all of the articles about the most productive people in the world getting up at ungodly times and i am just not interested. i have incredible freedom over my time and energy and i value that in a way that i don’t know how to describe in words.

the other good stuff is that business is really good and i am doing fine. i have not had to dig into my savings to support myself and keep up my share of my household monthly expenses. although the bouncer has been two hundred percent supportive and when we talked about all of this and potential financial instability, he offered to shore me up, i haven’t had to take advantage of that kindness and i am extraordinarily proud of that. (he did buy me a new computer, which was insanely generous). my inbox is totally full of work right now, which is sometimes intimidating but mostly amazing. i’ve been approached about big, exciting projects that scare the hell out of me, which makes me know that i should take them on.

the secret, the whole time, was that i didn’t quite believe that i could do this. i saved money as a backup plan, enough to support myself for a skint 9 months, and a solid part of me felt i would just run through it and then have to go get another job. and that might happen, someday, i know, but it hasn’t happened yet and i am mystified and thrilled and truly, for real proud of myself.

i’m also learning about a whole new world of self-care habits, and one of them is getting out of the house every day. i have what amounts to a two room apartment, with a huge bedroom and a living room/kitchen combo. the desk is in the bedroom (there is no room for it anywhere else), and your office being the same as your bedroom is not ideal, to say the least. fortunately, i live in Brooklyn where there’s no shortage of trendy coffeeshops to go and spend a few dollars on a chai and a pastry or sandwich and buckle down with some wifi.

i worked at home this morning and then, when i got hungry for lunch, i packed up and came out. I had a BLT with avocado on a croissant and when i looked around at my little table, at my three notebooks all filled with the work i have to do (and one just for my words, in case i couldn’t plug my computer in – the cover of it is the photo for this post), i was struck, as i am sometimes, with the idea that i am doing it. it is the middle of the afternoon and i’ve chosen where i want to be and what i want to be doing and i am doing this thing. i am really, actually, living this life and doing this thing and i’m grateful for every person and thing and experience that helped me get here and i am proud as hell.

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if you could see the disparate thoughts that run through me every day, the scattered drafts i have littered in evernote, the things i never know how to say, the times i’m afraid i’m repeating myself.

the internet is an echo chamber. it’s awash in perfectly lit food photos, girls’ hands in cable knit globes wrapped around a mug of tea (i wanna be that girl too, i won’t lie to you), vacations, weddings, babies, perfect scenes and stories, food reviews, beauty reviews, parent talk, a series of “look at my perfectly curated life but i’ll punctuate it with one post where i tell you my life is messy and here’s why, but just that one”. there’s just so MUCH. there is so much muchness. do you know what i mean?

i made this huge change so i could build a life i wanted, and i’m not doing a great job. i’ve got a bad, lifelong habit of believing in the magic answer, the one thing that will make all of the puzzle pieces rain from the sky in exactly the right position and assemble themselves flawlessly in front of me. no, this isn’t how it works. i know. so i’m trying. here i am with this window open and everything else shut down and it’s trying. i’ll get up and do a plank on the floor for 30 seconds, 40, 45, maybe a minute one day and that is also trying. and it’s funny, now that i reread those sentences, and what i meant to say is that it is my effort, but the structure and the language, it also means that it’s hard. and it is hard. i suppose i made a pun.

you couldn’t imagine how often i want to wear a banner, to scream to the world my apologies and my rage that when i try it feels so fucking SMALL. to say i’m sorry but to spit on you for making me feel like i have to.

i won’t end this with some proclamation that because i’ve gotten this out, i can move on to other things, because there’s a good chance that would be a lie. this isn’t the first version of this post that’s appeared here or anywhere else, it’s just a reformulation and others have spun it much more eloquently than i will. but it’s the truth. let’s just go for the truth.

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let go and let god.

despite the title, this post has zero to do with religion. swearsies.

i have a client for whom my main task is article curation and tweet writing. that’s what i do – i find articles and write tweets based on them, and then they go through two levels of approval.

the first 3 weeks i did this, less than half of my tweets were approved. my client left me notes, we had a feedback phone call. i checked in with other people doing the same work for advice on how to improve. i worked for many more hours than it was supposed to take, trying so, so hard to succeed. and it was right there, just out of my grasp. i could feel it, but i couldn’t just do it.

one batch had something like a 30% success rate, and when i checked in, i just lost it. i burst into tears right at my desk (at my full time job), and i could not help but feel like a complete, abject failure. i was trying my hardest and i could not do it right, i could not succeed. (it’s worth noting that i only get paid for accepted content. that just made everything a little harder).

i came home and talked to the bouncer about how long to keep trying before i gave up, but also how i was enjoying the work and even, despite my disappointment at not being perfect or even, um, good, enjoying the challenge of trying. i said i would at least give it a full month before i re-evaluated. i could barely even open the documents i worked in without welling up because i felt so incapable, but i kept going.

it’s also worth noting that the client was completely kind and encouraging during this whole process, and that she believed i’d catch on and understood that it was a learning process. that someone didn’t matter as much as my feeling of “i am the worst of all time and will never improve at anything ever. womp.”

somehow, out of nowhere, i seemed to hit the magic formula. a batch came back with almost 100% acceptance, and the next one too. fairly consistently since that point, i’ve been doing great. you want to know why i think it finally happened? i chilled out about it. i couldn’t take the emotional aspect of failure anymore so i detached, promising to do my best but to not freak out if i didn’t succeed (hey look, everyone, mental health!) i stopped trying to hit on every “rule” i was supposed to follow and instead went with my gut. i trusted myself, and i elevated myself to a place where whether or not the work got accepted, i was ok.

in the recovery community, which i’m not a part of but have been tangentially involved with in the past, they have a saying – “let go and let god.” i’m not a god person,  but the saying has stuck with me for years. it’s going to go how it goes. you’ll be fine either way. you’ll figure it out. there is actually nothing more you can do aside from your best, and you’ll get nowhere by freaking out after that point. so…stop. it’s a simple question of utility in the end.

life lessons all up in here, i swear it.

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on the precipice.

(note – this was written a few weeks ago. more updates to come. swearsies)

if i were not finished with my full time job in three short days, my head would be spinning right off and i’d probably be curled in the fetal position begging someone to make it all stop.

and this has nothing to do with my job being awful – on the whole, it’s pretty great. and a huge part of me is sad to be leaving, even though i do not have the brain space or power to even process those feelings in the moment. no, i’ve got a lot of work right now – and i suppose that’s a really incredible thing, entering my first month of self employment. i should be grateful, and i AM grateful. i’m sort of just waiting for the moment when i can do it, without worrying that i’m going to drop one of my very many spinning plates. i feel like i’m walking a highwire slicked with oil.

you know, if you were a person in my life and i told you about this, i would intimate that i haven’t worked very hard and am not working very hard. i’d tell you i had a very reasonable wind-down schedule for my job, and that my client work requires no more than 10-15 hours a week and i should be able to handle that. i would tell you about how i think i must be weak because i’m always so tired – about how i had my thyroid tested because i am always so. damn. tired. i would tell you it wasn’t really that hard, i just think it’s hard because i am me. you surely wouldn’t find it hard, but i do.

it’s total bullshit, if you haven’t figured that out by now. i’ve made an entire fucking career of telling myself, telling you, that i somehow haven’t done enough – but i have done enough, and it’s finally starting to show. i have worked and AM working my entire ass off. i’m juggling three clients, two of whom require near daily attention, on top of full time work. i am sitting down at the computer post-work or on the weekends the majority of the days of the week. i am hustling, i have BEEN hustling, and it is about time that i owned that.

saying out loud, understanding for the first time, that i’m working hard and that i’m allowed to say it…it’s a big thing, for me. in high school, i took every AP class i could – one in 10th grade, four in 11th, five in 12th. i have met no one else who has done that. i went to activities after school and i went to work after activities and i came home and ate dinner at my giant L desk, head buried in a textbook. i went to sleep and set my alarm for four am so i could get up and study. i could never do enough, unless i was doing more than anyone else, unless my eyes were burning from exhaustion. it was almost more important than my actual grades – the idea that i was trying harder, working harder than anyone. the only way to do enough was to give everything.

it’s the last time in my life i felt like i was actually working hard, until this past sunday. i have work due every monday for a client, so nearly every sunday for the past several months, i’ve sat down for a chunk of hours and just done it. and it kind of sucked because sunday nights are a little sacred for me, they’re about recuperating the last bits of my energy for the week ahead, but i sucked it up and i did it and i’ve gotten better and more efficient every week. and i finally just kind of realized, in the middle of this chunk of work, that i’m doing it. i’m doing this thing, and i deserve credit for it.

there’s a lot i’ve been doing. for a long time. i’ve worked really hard, and it feels so good to actually feel that, to let my pride swell.

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the thing i can finally talk about

the thing i can finally talk about

or, how i’ve learned to cope with saying “i’m leaving my full time job and focusing all of my time and energy on my business.”

MY. BUSINESS. those are actual words i say and they MEAN SOMETHING. whuuuuuuuuuut.

so, here’s a thing. i’m leaving my full time job, one that i’ve enjoyed a solid 90% of the time, and striking out on my own. i’m growing my own small business, starglass media, specializing in website builds, social media strategy and management, and email marketing for entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofits. yes. that is the thing i’m doing.

you wouldn’t think a sentence carries so much weight but whoa, you’re wrong. it’s so many things. let’s start with some history.

a year and a half ago, maybe longer, i got an itch. i thought that maybe it was time for a change. i looked around at other positions and some of them seemed awesome, but i couldn’t get excited about them. the thought of trudging into an office on someone else’s time for the rest of forever felt stifling, even for a job i might love doing.

and i remembered of all of the inspiring people i know who have made a self-employed life work for them, and i thought of how i had always felt leagues behind them, different from them, and i thought about why. was i really so different? (no) did my skills translate to freelance and consulting work? (yes) what was stopping me? (fear)

i was fortunate enough to begin these conversations with two amazing entrepreneurial friends, a married couple for whom I’d sign on to be a sister wife if we were all into that. they were my own incubator, my encouragers, my first clients, and my teachers and mentors. last year, i took on 5 clients and made an extra $5k, working on top of my full time job – one month, it was two separate projects and 25 hours, including a week’s vacation with no work. it was exhausting, and though i originally envisioned doing it for at least a year, i burnt out quickly. some will tell you you have to run yourself until midnight every day and all weekend and i’ll be totally real; i could not do that without completely mentally cracking. so i took a break, in the fall of 2013, with an intention to re-evaluate in the new year.

sure enough, early on in 2014, the itch came back and i decided it had to be time. i’d just gotten myself out of debt, i was in a great position to save, and i finally felt like I had to try. like the risk of going splat was worth jumping off the cliff. i put my feelers out for clients again, i started swimming in new opportunities (not all of which were a good fit. learning to have uncomfortable conversations, check!), i fired myself back up and got back in the game. i slowly told the people who mattered most and have always been trusted advisors to me. i drank up their encouragement, and it sustained me. i set a date. i took care of medical concerns while i still have health insurance. i socked away money like it was penicillin before the apocalypse.

and here i am, three-ish months after that decision (it feels longer). i’ve told my co-workers and turned in a resignation letter and set an end date (july 31st). i sat down with the HR department and tied up my loose ends.

this is happening, this is real. i waver every day between thinking i’m going to be living in a cardboard box by the end of the year and imagining my jetsetter, world traveler life, working in quaint coffee shops and by hotel pools. i know i’ll probably land somewhere in the middle of that. i’m happy that i can finally share this – it’s been the most inspiring thing, creatively, that i’ve encountered in a very long time. i hope with all of me that it stays that way, and that you stick around for the rest of the ride.

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