What its like to transition into unemployment

I’ve now been unemployed since the end of October now, and I can tell you it has its ups and downs. I had become part of something much larger than the work I was going in my community. As i’ve said before, Alaska is large in size and small in community. We became so very connected to people around the state doing the same work as me in their own communities and those connections made my work not only more valuable, but easier. We contributed to one another and each other’s work even from hundreds and thousands of miles away from each other in our very own state.

Then, I lost my job. At first, there are the “we would love your help in transitioning out… we want you to continue to be involved…” etc, etc. But the reality is, you slowly become pushed away and disconnected. The hardest part?

A piece of me has been taken away. The program I brought to Fairbanks feels as if its been taken away. Every day I regret not taking the steps to bring the program here on my own, but instead I feel like the piece of me that is lost is this one program itself. Being involved and volunteering is something I plan to continue to do with the program, but being ultimately removed from a role that I created is heartbreaking and has been the most difficult part for me.

People are easily replaced in non-profit. Even though my role was removed from the agency, some of that work has to be picked up by someone. I went from being part of the large prevention network in our state to feeling as if I might not belong there anymore because I am not longer in that “role.”

Your co-workers are not your best friends. When we work 40 hours a week, we become connected to many people who we begin to care about and consider our friends. But the reality is, most of your co-workers will not remain your friends or even check on you when you’ve gotten the big news that you’re no longer needed there. This is a reality we often don’t realize until this time. Now, mind you, that doesn’t mean that you won’t make lifelong friends at work, but everyone isn’t going to be that for you.

Now, what are the great parts?

Fitness. I can go cross-country skiing and swimming and running and crossfitting in the middle of the day! That is something I will miss a little (lot) since I am now officially training for a triathlon.

Sleeeeeeeep. I can sleep. I mean, really, nothing more to say about that.

House projects. Remember all of those little projects (I’m sure you have a list) that you want to get done but never have the time? Now you do. If you don’t have a list, you soon will.

Dinner planning is possible. Enough said!

Purging. Sounds weird, but so true. It gives you the time to go through and do your “spring cleaning” and downsize your life a little. Speaking of cleaning, I finally cleaned my bathtub.

So now that I’ve got all of this down, it’s time to figure out how to transition back into the world of the employed. But I can say I’m not nearly about distraught about that.




A Journey to Self-Discovery: Part III

Another journey on my road to self-discovery: Self-Worth. 


I envisioned my time to Virginia to be completely relaxing, and to learn how to just – be. Literally to just be. But what I realized is I naturally keep myself busy. I cannot spend days doing nothing. Whether I fill my days helping others, working on wedding planning, or getting on a bike and spending my days outside – it is just not in my nature to spend all of my time (or most of my time) doing nothing. But to have the time in my life right now to really see that this is just who I am as a person, rather than being forced in my life to be busy, is really blissful.

But this is definitely a two-fold (three-fold, four-fold?) story. My trip, which again, I envisioned to be completely relaxing, was met with a lot of angst as well.

  • Am I a good enough social worker to find another job?
  • Am I choosing the right path for myself in my career?
  • Licensing? No licensing? Part time? Full time?
  • Will the money be enough to last until I find a job?  Money management. Don’t buy this. Save your money for that. What will happen at Christmas? Can we afford a trip at the holidays?
  • What happens when I no longer have health insurance?
  • worry…
  • worry….
  • worry…..

This list goes on and on… I had a constant internal struggle with feeling like I don’t have a purpose, yet also feeling OK with having this time to reflect. I do so much volunteer work in the community, how can I not feel fulfilled? While I was gone, I also joined our Fairbanks Cycling Club Board of Directors because there are visions I have for our cycling community. I am no stranger to giving back and loving my community wholeheartedly. So the time here to reflect goes on and on as you can see from my rambling. But what I didn’t anticipate was probably what hit the most…

The feeling that I am not good enough to those I love. The obvious looks that say more than words ever could: “why are you here when you are unemployed?” Feeling the cold shoulder, feeling the failure of losing my job – as if I have not met the expectations of what I should be.

Then there was this: the discovery of my SELF-WORTH. I have met and exceeded every expectation I ever set for myself. I have broken the cycle of poverty and violence that maternally preceeded me. I am not the statistic and I am no one else but me. I am not here to make anyone else happy. I am here to make me happy.

I moved to Alaska 4 years and 7 months ago. Four years and 1 month ago the love of my life, my soon-to-be husband, walked into my life. It was a moment that set into motion what would be become a future in Alaska, a forever life in Alaska. One I don’t regret and one I am not sorry for. Not to my friends, not to my family. I left home for adventure, and what I found was home. I found myself, I found my soul wandering around waiting for me, I found the love of my life, my best friend.

I recently read a post called 26 Ways to Take Your Life Back When You’re Broken and it is well worth the read. Every bit of it. There are a few that especially spoke to me in this regard (although they all very much spoke to me):

  • #3: Rewrite your story. The past is our story that we repeat to ourselves, and it is an opportunity for growth. We are not bound to these experiences and should not let them hold us back, but instead let them release us.
  • #5: Share your story. This one is especially important to me. Starting to acknowledge the feelings of my story, and who I am and what has molded me or has not molded me is important. It is truly liberating to begin to release instead of repress this.
  • #13: Strengthen relationships with the people who love you. There are people that love you because they have to, and people that love you because they want to. When life has chosen to give you tough moments to get through, its in those times that you will find the people you can lean on. So you lost your job? Who has called to check on you? 
  • #17: Establish a health source of validation. This one is tough, and there maybe a moment when you find that your source of validation is not what you thought it was, or should be. Find a new one. You do not need the approval, so seek those you want it from that can both help you in the tough times, help you discover your strengths and continue to grow personally and professionally. See #13 for help.
  • #25: Look at how far you’ve come. I can’t begin to describe who I once was, and this is how far I’ve come. Don’t forget that for you. For You.

Remember you are worth it. Do things that make you happy. Set goals and expectations for yourself and no one else. 



Healthy Living Advice: Letting go of your Past



My first thought here is for all of you females out there, learning to get along with your girlfriends. PLEASE learn to accept that it is OK, as women, to be in different places in our lives. We can still be friends. We do not all have to be single or all have to have kids. It does not have to be all or nothing; one or the other. Learning to accept and embrace one another. Learning not to judge. Learning not to hate. Learning not to be jealous. These are still things many of us need to work on, we need to teach our daughters, and we need to make a societal norm.

But alas, this is one of the many reasons that we lose friends. We lose significant others. We lose support. People cannot accept growth. They cannot accept change. Some never learn to offer the support you need and instead, turn away. Here is where you learn to accept that behavior – and move on. Maybe instead, you are reading this and discovering that you, instead, were the person on the unaccepting end of that. That’s OK, this is for you, too.

If I were to write an open letter to the people in my life have contributed to my struggle, many being females, what would I say? It would be written to those that have chosen not to stick around in the hard times, not to support me in my growth, not to support me in my healthy lifestyle changes and to essentially not accept me for who I am. It would be simple. It would say:

Simply live well. Find peace and love along the way while you let go of pain, loss, and unhappiness. Love yourself and take care of yourself. FIND YOURSELF. Do not go your entire life without truly finding who you are. Continue to let yourself change and grow. In all of that, you’ll learn how to love and be happy for others. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

This is what we should always want for others. We should not wish pain on them. We should not wish unhappiness on them. We should want others to learn how to forgive themselves and forgive those who have caused pain in their hearts. Sometimes people are part of your journey to add to your struggle; learn to accept that.


The struggle is part of who you are. The heartbreak is part of who you are. I recently read a post on HelloGiggles about an art project in which women were photographed in their ex-S.O.’s t-shirts that they had held onto. The emotions captured were amazing, but the story bleeds through to more than just t-shirts from ex’s. It proves true to how powerful our past is and how powerful our struggle is. How powerful relationships are with men, women, aunts, uncles, sisters, mothers, fathers, brothers, friends…essentially everyone who comes into and leaves our lives.

From that post I share this:

“Even if it’s painful we need to hold onto something. Proof that we did it. That we went through it. That we learned something. That our hearts were broken. That we were loved. That we weren’t loved enough. For someone I won’t be something that will be easily shed.”

Do not hold hatred for those who have “done you wrong.” Do not hold onto those who are letting you go. Do not allow “friends” to talk behind your back. It is simply unacceptable for anyone who is part of your life to do that. Sometimes forgiving others does not necessitate telling them they are forgiven, it’s a matter of conversation between yourself, your heart (and for some, God). Most importantly, do not set out to prove people wrong in the daily things you are doing or in the goals you are setting. Set out to improve the quality of your own life as you see fit and how it will make YOU happy.





Are you giving it ALL you’ve got?


Progress. It’s a slow thing. Sometimes it takes others to see it in you before you even notice. The first time I saw it is when my favorite skirt didn’t fit anymore (that’s ok, I found a new favorite skirt). Then I could do 5 push-ups instead of just 2. Then I finally met my goal of running 1.5 miles in under 15:12. When I started, I could barely run a mile in 14 minutes and I was out of breath doing that. Last week, I had my PR on a hilly 5k course at 27:49. #lifeisgood


It’s been 2 years and 2 months since I first laced up a pair of running shoes. That was 40 pounds ago. Now I’m training for a Triathlon, running races, eating right and feeling fantastic! Last night I did a dry run of the TRI (which let me just note had entirely too many hills for my taste) with much success. My only goal was to finish it when I started this thing – first jumping into the pool “looking like a fish out of water” as my friend put it. I was so far out of my element and I went from swimming half a lap and having to stop to doing 500 yards in 22 minutes to doing it in 13 minutes. Now I think that maybe I can give myself a time goal for this thing!

So my question to you all is, are you giving it all you’ve got? Are you taking the time to make little or big changes? Are you going to look back in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years and say “If I had taken 10 minutes a day to do that” or “I wish I would have taken that vacation or weekend away or done to this or that or signed up for that race..?” Don’t be that person. Don’t live with regret. Don’t put off until tomorrow. Life is now or never. Live it now.

Life doesn’t have a remote, you have to get UP and change it YOURSELF. #fearless2014


What are the keys to a successful life?


Find the TIME to be ACTIVE. It doesn’t matter how you do, but do it. This doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone. It doesn’t have to mean training for a marathon, hitting the weights, or even joining a gym. But find out what it means to you and do it: EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Change your eating lifestyle. There’s a lot I could say here, but simply:

Eat less CRAP:

  • C – carbonated drinks
  • R – refined sugar
  • A – artificial sweeteners &colors
  • P – processed foods

Eat more FOOD:

  • F – fruits & veggies
  • O – organic lean proteins
  • O – omega 3 fatty acids
  • D – drink water

Grow your own garden. I promise, it’s not that hard!

Find a partner who is just as concerned about your happiness as you are.

Love what you do. If you don’t, change what you do. We are never too old to go back to school for something new and to change careers. Tomorrow is not the day to change it, today is.

Take vacations – with your friends. I live far away from many of my closest friends (eh em – Alaska).  When I started planning vacations and road trips with them, I started making the most amazing memories.

Take vacations – with the one you love. This one is just as important. Whether it’s for a weekend or for a week. Heck, even if it’s just a day trip somewhere. Take time to get away and remember why you fell in love.

Turn the TV off and get outside … or stay inside Sometimes it’s entirely too cold to go outside in Alaska (-60 is really just, too cold). TVs can turn you into a zombie. Go buy a board game, a book, start crafting, or work on that list of projects you have around the house. It’s much more rewarding than the TV.

Be part of a TEAM. A team pushes you to when there’s nothing left in you to keep going.  To do things you never thought you could do. Then you take all that energy and you give it back. There’s nothing more rewarding and it pours over into all other parts of your life.

Pay it Forward.

Help others when no one is looking and there’s nothing in it for you.

Volunteer. At a race, on a committee, at the local shelter, at a food drive… take your pick.

Call your family, just to say hi.

Send snail mail to your friends and family. It says so much more than email or Facebook.

Count your blessings. Write them down, and when the going gets tough, go back and read them. Be reminded of all that you have been blessed with.

What would be on your list for a successful life?