(Almost) Thirty, Flirty and Thriving

As of today, I just have 4 months left of my twenties.  Since about age 25, I had been dreading this countdown.  Would I have accomplished all that I wanted to by age 30?  Would I be able to check the box on on those socially imposed life landmarks?  Would I feel like an adult and did I want to?  A scary list of questions to a 25 year old.  A woman who felt completely lost and offtrack and definitely not half way done with her "To Do By Age 30" list.

But time doesn't slow down as you get older. If anything it speeds up.  So I have been taking stock of where I am and how I feel about it.  The truth is, I couldn't be happier.  The biggest reason being, that I stopped caring about where I am "supposed" to be at by now or what anyone else thinks of me.  I stopped caring about what my life looked like to other people and started caring much more about what my life looked like to me.  I stopped worrying about whether I would be happy with where I was at my age 30 and focused on if I was happy in the moment.

My twenties have been filled with a lot of highs and lows.  So many moments, that built character, strength and taught me to also be vulnerable.  My twenties forced me to prove to myself what I was made of.  They challenged me.  The decade built me up, tore me down and taught me how to find my stride again.  I learned to fail in my twenties.  I also learned how to recover from failure.

In the last 10 years, I have had 9 jobs and two internships, ranging from camp counselor, to retail associate, to PR girl, to event planner, to marketing manager. I have moved 10 times, with an 11th happening in the next month.  I have lived in 3 different states (granted one was just for a summer) and two countries.  I've fallen in love, had my heart broken, given up on love, then found someone who just might make it worth believing in again (which is a pretty recent development). I've graduated from college, gotten married and gotten divorced.  I've watched a parent develop severe Alzheimer.  I've gotten into and out of a decent amount of debt.  I've started a business.  I've cried more times than I can count, and laughed at least 10 times the amount of tears.  I've changed my career, my goals and my plans.  I've changed my priorities and opinions.

Most importantly,  I've learned how to be happy with who I am, where I am, and how I got here.

I have no idea what my 30's have in store for me, but I am ready to take them on... in 4 months, because I'm not in a rush.


When Life Gives You Lemons...

No one in school ever asks you how you want to feel when you grow up, they just ask what you want to be.  For years I thought I had to "be" something.  I had to fit into a mold designated by a title.

Account Executive.

Enrollment Councilor.

Fundraising Coordinator.

Online Communications Manager.

The problem was the titles never quite fit me.  So I became an entrepreneur.  Unfortunately, it takes time and money to grow a business.  With no one else to support me and no maternity leave for infant businesses while I nurture my little baby company, I had to keep working another job, a job that had lost it's appeal months thanks to being overworked and under valued.  To earn some extra money over the holidays I picked up a part time job at lululemon.  I thought I would save money, get some new workout clothes and be done with it by mid-january.  Then I got laid off from my full time job.

I was lost.  I wasn't interested in looking for jobs and thanks to a decent severance package and my part time job, there was no urgency to find one quickly.  I didn't want another title or the pressure to become worthy of that title.  I went on a few interviews, but after a couple weeks, I decided I was going to leave my career future up to fate, which is really unlike me since I typically like to have a plan at all times.  I figured, the best times in my life have been when I let life guide me instead of trying to force it into a new direction.

So I started to think about what I did want to do and how I wanted to feel:
I knew I wanted to make things look pretty.
I knew I wanted to make people happy.
I knew I wanted to give people knowledge.
I knew I enjoyed the feeling of success from a sale.
I knew I wanted to travel.

Unfortunately, unless you are a contestant on the bachelor, Pretty Maker, Joy Enthusiast, and Free Spirit Saleswoman are not real  job titles.  Lucky for me, I got to make things pretty as a wedding planner and designer.  I get to style photo shoots for my business and take pretty pictures for our website- that need was fulfilled.  Also lucky for me, I was already working part time for lululemon, where I got to celebrate people's accomplishments, educate them on our products and enjoy the success of hitting sales goals.

Only one problem,  I was only making about a third of the income I had before and my severance and insurance were about to run out.  So I did the math,  how long could I survive like this? How long could my savings last?  How long could I trust life to just work it's self out before I went into crisis mode or had to move into a box?  I decided it was time the universe and I had a chat.

Ashley: Okay Universe,  I am giving you until the end of February to figure this out. I'm putting my full trust and faith in your divine plan until that deadline.   At that point, I am going to take over again and find a job, even if I hate it.

Universe: (Cosmic version of) Pshh, I got this. 

So I focused on the good in each day.  I had fun at work.  I had fun working out.  I started eating really clean (I'm doing Whole30 and it's awesome and I will post about it soon).  Overall, I just practiced gratitude everyday, even when it wasn't easy.

Then one day, one of my fellow lemons sent me a job posting.  This particular coworker was my accountabilabuddy, my partner established at a staff meeting, to help each other reach our goals over the holiday season.  My goals were to lose 10 pounds and to find a new full time job. I took it as a sign from the universe that I should send in my resume.  A week passed and I heard nothing.  I had kind of forgotten about it until my acountabilabuddy asked me about it.  Upon her reminder, I emailed again.  A few days later I had an interview and within 36 hours a job offer.  But not just any job offer,  one I am really excited about.  One that will combine everything I want to be and feel when I grow up.  My favorite part, is that I don't even know what my title is and I don't care (but I am kind of hoping for Joy Enthusiast).

Over the last 4 months,  life has figuratively and literally given me lemons, lulu and otherwise.  And thank goodness it did.  Without meeting and building relationships with the amazing and quite frankly wonderful souls that work at and with lululemon, I would not have enjoyed the last few months so much.  It's guaranteed I wouldn't have gotten a new job that I am so excited about.  And I wouldn't have had the support to try a new eating plan or work out consistently.  lulu gave me a place to go, people to laugh with and things to do when I was lost.

Without getting laid off, I wouldn't have looked for a new job.  Instead, I would have continued to feel beaten down and tired and uninterested in the life I was creating. Plus, if I hadn't gotten laid off, I certainly wouldn't have gone into crisis saving mode.  Now, I can finally buy my first home.

If nothing else, this post is just to remind you that sometimes things suck and that's okay. Sometimes, you need to be uncomfortable (and maybe even a smidge carefree) and trust that life will work itself out.  When an opportunity comes your way, take it.  Approach every day from a place of love and gratitude because any day is better than no day at all.

When life gives you lemons,  pucker up!  We could all use a little tart in our lives every now and then!