Last week, I had a strange, yet kind encounter with a co-worker. It’s been rewinding over and over in my head since. I don’t want to go too much into his personal details, I’ve worked with him on a project here and there, but other than that, we don’t talk much.
I was at my desk, working on who remembers what, with my infamous giant white headphones on. He stopped over, and I smiled, genuinely happy to catch up with him, and removed my earphones, greeting him with an enthusiastic “Hi!”.
He looked at me and said, “That is the first time I have seen you smile in weeks. i just wanted to stop over and see if you were OK.”
I was stunned. His words bit me a little. I scrambled, trying to think of why I would look so unhappy. I’ve been pretty stressed, true, I was recovering from a kidney infection, and also, a little stale creatively.
I got a bit choked up. I told him about my sickness, we talked a little about work, and that was it. But I’ve thought about it ever since, how perceptive near strangers can be.
I have been down. I’ve been writing a bit, trying to get back into art, but nothing seems to flow as easily as it once did. Call it writer’s block, call it changing of the seasons… but it’s frustrating for someone who depends so much on creativity.
The past few years have been a roller coaster for me. I’ve described it to others as an enormous room with hundreds of lightbulbs, that little by little, blew out. Some of course, were by my own doing, but it didn’t change the impact it had on me. My heart has grown weary and tired, mostly, of being disappointed, disheartened.
After some soul searching, I couldn’t help but recall my old days over at Melissa’s 100. That was a time in my life, personally and professionally, I was truly enlightened. I broke out of a shell of normalcy, into a world of opportunity. It was the best I’ve ever been.
When Melissa’s 100 was coming to an end, I remember feeling really depressed. Perhaps I had just overdosed on the adventure, you know, the potential of that project, and I was finally breaking back into a normal routine. I’m not sure. I just really didn’t want to end it, and although I tried to keep it going, I knew that chapter was over. Done.
Which brings me to now.
I’m in a very different place in my life now, than I was when I started working on my 100 list. I’ve since started this blog, taken on freelance projects, moved from Philadelphia, etc. I’m not the same person, but I still have the same hunger, the same thirst for adventure and enlightenment.
It wasn’t all the exposure and glitz of it. I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t exciting, but honestly, my favorite part of it was feeling as if I was pursuing a dream. Really challenging myself. Opening myself up to the world.
So my thought is… maybe, just maybe, I need a little of the magic Melissa’s 100 had. I’m older, wiser, with much more ambition and if possible, confidence. Could I do it again? Could I do it better, and this time around, for me?
Of course I could. Last time, people thought I was absolutely insane, but I didn’t lose faith. I knew I was a little different, heck, even a little weird or overly idealistic, but I’ve long since gotten used to the idea that I, as an individual, do not enjoy the safety of routine. Being what some people consider as self-serving or hey, yeah, selfish, can be a bit lonely sometimes – my own mother does not understand it.
It all comes down to faith. I know, I just know, that the Universe, God, has a plan for me. I know this for sure. So as you can imagine, just the idea of resurrecting a form of Melissa’s 100 sends me into a girly fit of excitement.
I have a current project that I’m working on that I’m seriously considering implementing my 100 strategy into. I won’t say too much about it, just that it’s big and exciting, and kind of wonderful. I’ve been very fortunate to meet a lot of incredibly supportive friends here in Wilmington, who actually seem to love the idea. Very early stages, but still, exciting stages.
So, just hang tight, more news on that coming soon. In the meantime, if you’re feeling down, try to find your best self, even if you haven’t seen them in awhile. You might be surprised what comes out of it.
A few weeks ago, someone shared the Dove Real Beauty Sketch video with me. Most of you have probably seen it. If not, take a few minutes to watch.
If you don’t have a few minutes, here’s the TV Guide version. Dove brought women into seeing a sketch artist and asked to describe their looks. The man could not see their faces. He then in turn, produced a sketch.
As you can imagine, the photos were not flattering. The women described themselves as old, exaggerating their slight flaws, describing themselves in such a way that couldn’t possibly be seen as beautiful.
Here’s the twist- they also brought in people who met the women prior to the sketch. These individuals then described the women’s looks, then relayed it to the sketch artist. These pictures portrayed very different women, very different people. Gorgeous, confident, glowing women.
I recently observed a woman, probably 20 or 30 years my senior. I won’t say where. She was thin, beautiful, and graceful but she had this hollowness about her. I could see years of sadness on her face. But behind the frown lines, the lonely gaze, I saw an incredibly beautiful woman with a ton to offer.
It was incredible to see someone of such… stature… in such a vulnerable state. It made me sad, and of course, made me think about how I see myself.
Cute, I suppose, if I was being completely honest. My skin gets flushed and red easily. I desperately need my ends trimmed. One of my front teeth are chipped. I have a huge birthmark on my side that shows up when I wear a bikini.
Maybe those don’t seem like a lot to get hung up on, but if you had asked me years ago, my list would have been much, much longer. When it comes to women thinking that they’re beautiful, Dove throws out a statistic of 4%.
The number is unfortunate, but not surprising. When I think about the things my girlfriends have told me they dislike about themselves, things I’ve told myself, that number makes sense. But how do you fix it?
One thing I’ve been very self-conscious about is my pale skin. I have a fair complexion. Friends and family have teased, called me Casper, laughed at how “I glow” in a bikini.
Over the years, I’ve gone tanning. I’ve sat out in the sun, I’ve endured sunburns and dry skin – all in the effort of changing something natural about myself. Something that didn’t really bother me until it was pointed out to me.
A month or so back, my dermatologist removed five of my birthmarks. They were tested, and one came back with abnormal, near cancerous cells. I won’t lie, I was scared. I thought of the tanning beds, the days spent laying out in my bikini. I was ashamed for not protecting my skin better.
So how do we start changing how we think about our friends, family, and heck, ourselves?
We stop with the flaws. We focus on the good. Not just in ourselves, but in others. We stop from measuring ourselves in ways that diminish what we are, what’s truly great and important about who we are.
Sure, I’m pale, but hey, so was Audrey Hepburn. My skin gets flushed easily, but I don’t need to wear any makeup. I have a chip in my front tooth, but I never needed braces.
There’s a lot of things I like about myself, about how I look. But it’s not because I’m vain – it’s because when I look in the mirror, I see more than just my own face. I see the happiness in my face, the mischievous twinkle in my eyes. That sounds cheesy, but I’d rather focus on the best parts of myself. And you know, that includes the porcelain skin.
Before I proceed with today’s awesome post, I wanted to share some thoughts I had about my previous blog posts.
I’ve tried a few different approaches when it comes to writing content. I’ve been funny, I’ve been serious. I’ve focused on vintage goods, specifically, but I’ve found that my best posts are when I combine all of those aspects – and just tell stories about my life. So I’m gonna run with that.
I have the perfect post to start off…
When I was in 3rd or 4th grade, I discovered leather pants, 1950′s swag, and the T-Birds. Yes, I discovered Grease. For years, I watched and rewatched the movie, sang along to the sidetrack, memorized my favorite scenes.
The Grease fascination never went away. I held a torch for Danny Zuko for much longer than I’m willing to admit. I curled my hair to look like Olivia Newton-John and sometimes, when I was alone, I belted out favorites such as Hopelessly Devoted to You, Beauty School Dropout, and Summer Nights.
One of my favorite scenes of Grease, of course, was the scene where innocent, naive Sandy becomes “Sand-ay!”. The heels, the leather pants, and of course, the leather jacket – the cigarette she takes a drag from, right before she says the memorable line, “Tell me about it, stud!”
That scene has always been so meaningful to me, especially as a kid. I was extremely shy, at times, painfully shy, up through high school. It wasn’t until I reached college that I really came out of my shell. Once a Sandra Dee, I increasingly became more and more confident and outspoken.
Still, as I described in a past post about red turtlenecks, I still get a little nervous. I can be confident, almost to a fault, but like anyone else, I get self conscious. Lately, I’ve felt like all of my choices have been under a microscope, good and bad. It’s a lot of pressure, hence, the wavering confidence.
So after this past week, having a few moments of red turtleneck, I decided to do something about it. I walked into The Wonder Shop downtown, a little unsure of what to look for. I’d know it when I saw it.
The two extremely trendy employees, maybe out of boredom, curiousity or obligation, asked me what I was looking for. Without missing a beat, I replied, “You know that scene in Grease where Olivia Newton-John turns all badass? Something like that.”
They looked a bit perplexed, and answered, “Oh… um, let me Google that.”
Anyway, they pulled a few wild and crazy things, a few merely meh dresses, until one of them mentioned, “Oh, well we have this great leather jacket. It’s cute.”
I tried it on. As soon as I slipped my arms through those sleeves, I knew that this was what I was looking for. Tight, studded, and hot. That was it.
I wore it out last night, just to test the waters. The studded shoulders were a conversation starter for sure. I got a lot of great compliments about it, felt pretty hot, but still, something wasn’t sitting well with me.
I realized it earlier today, after grabbing brunch at The Basics with my old friend Heather. I was wearing the jacket again, and maybe some of the novelty was gone, or maybe because I was spending a lot of time talking about my future plans with her, it wasn’t the jacket making me feel cool or confident.
It was me.
That rush of self confidence, that return of my inner leather clad Olivia Newton-John, was the jump start I’ve desperately needed. The truth is, at least for me, when you push beyond your fears and hesitations, you always get a fantastic return. For lack of a better word, you get your swag back.
So while I’ll still rock the jacket, I also need to check in with myself now and then, scratch my own back a bit. I’m badass. I get shit done. I know what I want in life, and I actively pursue it. No matter how long it takes, or what it takes, I will have my own kick ass Carnival moment, well I truly feel like I’ve come into my own, personally and professionally.
Good thing I already have the jacket.
It’s no secret that I love to write letters. Anyone close to me has likely received one, whether it be for a birthday, graduation or heck, just because.
But perhaps what I haven’t shared is that I frequently write letters to myself.
Sometimes it’s to remind myself of how fortunate I am. Other times, I’m sad or distraught, and I’m looking to make peace with myself. Regardless of the reason, I’m so glad that I’ve done that in the past, and that I’ve continued to do so.
One letter sticks out, one that I wrote over five years ago, after a long talk with one of my best friends. I was in Rochester, where my parents live, driving back to their house from a girl’s night with my best friend, Melissa. We had been in deep conversation about my latest heartbreak, one that had been difficult for me to move on from.
I don’t recall how late it was, but the roads were empty, and my headlights were the only things illuminating the trees and fields out in the rural area where my parents live. My beloved Frank Sinatra CD was on, and as always, I was lost in the sound of his voice.
“Taller than the tallest tree is, that’s how it’s got to feel, deeper than the deep blue sea is, that’s how deep it goes if it’s real…”
His words captured me. In that moment, I felt free, self-fulfilled, and confident. The first thing I did when I got home was write a letter, this time, in my journal. I remember passionately writing the words as they came, a short, but direct letter that would likely remind me of the certainty I felt in that particular moment.
I was just 20 then, unaware of what the next five years of my life would bring. After college came love, chaos, and a lot of moving around. Now, I’m here, living in Wilmington, N.C., almost divorced, with my dog Russell.
If you had asked my 20 year old self if she would have predicted the path my life has taken, she’d probably say no. In fact, she’d probably be floored at how the past five years have went. While some things wouldn’t have been a surprise, (still friends with Melissa, still love the Phillies, still writing), some things, definitely, have been a shock.
Honestly, she probably wouldn’t even recognize me now, and maybe wouldn’t like some of the choices I’ve made. But if I know anything about that girl, I know that she was a big believer in the good that can come out of even the harshest of truths. As said, even if she didn’t like it, she would have respected making bold choices in the effort of being happy, as difficult as some of those choices have been.
Which brings me to today. Lately, I’ve felt a pull back towards a feeling I thought I had long since abandoned – that fear of the unknown, that uncertainty of the future. For those of you who know me well, know that I’m cocky- probably too cocky for my own good, which makes these particular feelings even more unsettling.
So after work, and a brief stop at Harris Teeter, I came home and for some reason, that drive under the stars came to mind. I remembered the clarity, the certainty I had in that moment, and it all came rushing back to me. I scrambled to my bookcase to fetch yes, that old journal. I flipped open the first few pages, and there it was – the letter I had written all those years ago.
Today you realized something very important. You need to respect yourself more. You need to follow your own rules. It is very important that you remember how you feel right now. You need to own up to who you are, choose to be happy, and do whatever it takes to accomplish those things. 5 Things You Learned Today:
1. You only want some things because you cannot have them.
2. People need to earn trust, respect and love.
3. Just because you want something does not make it that way.
4. Reality is all around you… don’t look away.
5. You continue to be scared of who you are – own up already!!”
I flipped through the next few pages to a variety of heartwarming things. A song my Aunt Me used to sing me at bedtime, lists of things I loved “good stuff” versus things I hated, “not so much”, people I admired, and finally, something that really choked me up, a quote I had scribbled down from one of my dearest friends, Lane.
After a heated discussion about love and relationships (this was sometime during college), I was talking about how things weren’t working with a guy I was dating. Without even thinking, I said exactly how I was feeling, something to the nature of- “I’ll have better luck in relationships when it’s for real.”
Lane almost bit my head off.
“Stop,” he said. “Don’t say, ‘when it’s for real’. This is real. Right now. This is your life.”
I wish I could pick up the phone and remind him of that quote, but he’s currently being awesome in Sweden. Doesn’t matter, I know that even if he couldn’t remember the quote, he would stand by his words. I know he would tell me, as he always has, that this is my life, my happiness, and my future.
Maybe five years from now, I’ll read this post, and feel the same way. I’ll repeat again to myself, “Melissa, it is very important to remember how you feel right now.”
I’ll come back to this moment. I’ll remember sitting on my living room floor, updating my blog with a personal post for the first time in months, trying to soak up as much clarity as possible, from words I wrote so confidently, just five years ago.
Maybe then, I won’t be so surprised at how enlightened those words have once again made me, because hopefully, in the next five years, I will have lived my life with those words in mind.
For now, I’ll continue to live “for real” and write in that old journal. And yes of course, I’ll crank up the Sinatra.
Some things never change.
Months and months ago, I asked my good friend Joe to write a guest post. Time passed. A few weeks ago, we spoke on the phone, and he reminded me of the post.
It was finished, he said. He apologized for making me wait. After reading it, I realized that his insights wouldn’t have been as meaningful as they are now, if he had written it immediately after I asked.
Life’s funny sometimes, huh?
Anyway, Joe and I have been friends for almost ten years. (Wow. That’s a long time.) He’s an incredible person and he’s always been in my corner. One of my favorite things about him is that he knows the worst parts of who I am, who I’ve been, and he’s still an extremely supportive friend.
He’s a bit Ghandi-esque…. full of forgiveness and positivity. I greatly admire him for it. I’m thrilled to share what he wrote with you, about his search for balance and purpose.
“I’ve been friends with Melissa for nine years now. I am constantly inspired by her and I hope her opinions in high regard. I was honored and thrilled (both are understatements) when she asked me if I would do a guest post for her blog. I quickly said yes and inquired what it should be about. Her request for something positive and/or about lessons learned seemed more than feasible, as I had already convinced myself I was well-experienced in such subjects.
I began brainstorming immediately – jotting down ideas, writing paragraphs and tidbits of information, etc. I was full of creative energy! Suddenly, second guessing swooped in. “What if Melissa doesn’t like what I wrote?” “What if her readers are thrown off because it doesn’t live up to the level of excellence they expect while reading her blog?” More ‘what if’ questions. Putting more pressure on myself. I’d usually write for my own benefit, but now I was focused on what others might think. I scratched out everything I wrote (don’t worry, it was pen and paper – no screens were harmed in the creation of this post) and sent a message to Melissa, asking if there was a deadline. Thankfully, there wasn’t.
The pressure and expectations were all self-imposed. Melissa would still be my friend. Her readers could easily scroll past my post. No harm done. I was being silly.
LESSON #137: I am my own worst critic.
(Even now as I write that, I’m debating whether it should be worded differently).
This is something I’ve realized on multiple occasions. Sure, there were actual expectations from parents, teachers, bosses, and friends. However, I often put pressure on myself to meet expectations that weren’t actually there. I like to think I’m not the only one who does this, but it’s alright if I am. I accept this trait.
Wait – Joe, did you say you came to this realization multiple times? Why yes, yes I did.
LESSON #42: Sometimes I’ll make the same mistake more than once and have to relearn a lesson.
And that’s ok! I can recall situations in which I said “wow, that was the last time I’ll ever make THAT mistake” and then later it happens again. I believe it’s important to reevaluate/reflect and ask “why did I make this mistake a second time? Is it any different than last time? What can I change so it doesn’t happen again? If it DOES occur again, what are some healthy ways I can react so I don’t beat myself up over it? What caused this?
LESSON #8: Finding the source of the mistake may help in moving forward.
I was told a story about my nephew, in which he accidently bumped his head on a table and cried out in pain, then purposely bumped his head again. He knew something hurt him and it was unpleasant, but it was as if he needed to go back to find out what caused this pain. Maybe now he avoids that table completely. Maybe he became more cautious. Maybe he hit his head again. I think we as adults (or young adults, teenagers, whoever is reading this) might need to revisit mistakes or painful experiences in order to move on. I’m not suggesting you/me/anyone should dive back into traumatic or dark places. I’m saying perhaps once in awhile we should reflect on what we’ve learned, how we learned it, and if we can still apply it to our lives today or continue to learn from it.
LESSON #0: Lessons are learned at various speeds or points in time, depending on the individual.
As you probably guessed by now, the numbers I wrote next to the lessons are random and meaningless. There isn’t a set order for life stages. Things I have experienced and wrote about here might not apply to you, and that’s fine. You most likely know things that I don’t. There’s a possibility I never will.
I continue to learn something new about myself, others, and the world around me every day. It’s overwhelming at times, but also beautiful. I enjoy the search for balance.”
Author’s Note: I haven’t posted in awhile. The blog has been down, life has been complicated, that’s really all that needs to be said. But here I am, back to my bread and butter, living, and writing about it.
I’ve always been a big fan of chick flicks. Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I love lists, I decided to celebrate my love for chick flicks…. with a list!
Romantic Movies for Valentine’s Day:
#1. City of Angels
Prepare for an endless list of movies with Meg Ryan. One of my favorite favorite movies ever is City of Angels, the curious story of Seth, an angel that falls in love with a human doctor, Maggie, after she tries to save the life of a patient. Seth, captivated by Maggie’s carefree, yet compassionate nature, allows himself to be “seen” by her- both physically and emotionally (tear!). Finally, Seth faces a choice- give up eternity to be with the woman he loves or (you guessed it) lose her to another man!
”I wait all day, just hoping for one more minute with you, and I don’t even know you.”
#2. When Harry Met Sally
Another Meg Ryan flick. Don’t hate, Meg Ryan is amazing and everybody knows it. The story of boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other, boy and girl meet again, again and again, decide to be best friends, then fall in love. Billy Crystal in the only role I’ve ever taken him seriously in (besides Mike from Monsters Inc, obviously), with an always superb Meg Ryan. Crystal plays a narcissist womanizer with Ryan as her bubbly, quirky self- both tragically unlucky in love.
“I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
#3. You’ve Got Mail
MEG RYAN! Books! Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks and Books!
Confession: I’m not a huge fan of Dirty Dancing. I know, take away my girl card.But I AM a fan of this foreign film Heartbreaker.Some skinny actor with a lot of hair plays a man who professionally breaks up bad relationships.He’s hired to break up Vanessa Paradis (amazing) and Rick from The Walking Dead– who are seemingly, the perfect couple. With some clever digging, Alex (that’s the hairy guy) finds out her likes, and a couple of fancy dance moves later (Dirty Dancing style), Paradis falls for him. But will she find out his secret? (She obviously does).
Forget quotes, watch this amazing clip of Alex dancing.
It’s probably the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.
#5. Top Gun
The perfect date movie. Why?
Combines three awesome things- planes, aviator sunglasses and a love story. (Also, there’s a great drinking game to go along with it)
Oh wait another thing-
MEG RYAN IS IN IT!
#6. Bridget Jones Diary (1&2)
I count these movies as one. Renee Zellweger plays the hilarious, yet clueless Bridget Jones torn between two men- Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.
Grant is the charming bad boy, Firth is the adorable underdog…
Besides Zelleweger’s charming antics, the Hugh Grant one liners can’t be missed.
#7. Love Actually
Love Actually is a very cliche addition to the list, but it’s the cutest movie ever. It’s the story of multiple relationships — old love, new love, unrequited.
A little of everything.
Sheriff Rick makes an appearance in this one too…. another YouTube clip, so grab your tissues! (Unrealistic, but sweet)
#8. Breakfast at Tiffany’s
A classic, and definitely one of my favorite movies. Holly Golightly, a New York socialite looking for a life of luxury who becomes close with her neighbor, writer Paul Varjak.
Golightly is looking for a rich suitor, while Varjak is having an affair with a married woman with horrible teeth. Audrey Hepburn is wonderful and delightful, as usual.
The best part of the movie is when she sings Moon River.
And, if you hate movies about love!
#9. PS. I Love You
I didn’t expect to love this movie, but it was soooo good. I’m not a huge Hilary Swank fan, but she really owned this role.
Holly is devastated after she loses the love of her life to a brain tumor, but on her 30th birthday, she starts to receive letters and gifts from her late husband, encouraging her to move on with her life.
Ireland. Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Karaoke. I’m sold.
#10. 500 Days of Summer
If you’re looking for a movie about devastating breakups, this is it. Aspiring architect Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls hard for Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who doesn’t believe in love. Really. After a whirlwind relationship, Summer suddenly (or so he thinks) breaks up with him with no explanation. He relives the moments of their relationship, desperately trying to figure out where he went wrong- only to discover that maybe, they just weren’t meant to be.
What’s your favorite romantic movie?
“Transparency for me is a reaction.”
I stopped reading there. I was browsing the web while getting ready for work, and had stumbled on Rand Fishkin’s newest blog post. I don’t always read Rand’s blog, but when I do, I’m always impressed.
This goes beyond being impressed. I was blown away. It was a rare moment when someone’s words reach you at exactly the right time.
For those of you not immersed in the SEO world, I’ll explain. If SEO was Game of Thrones, Rand Fishkin would be every single character (except Joffrey). Point is, he’s our Yoda, our Optimus Prime, our Bruce Lee.
You can read the post in its entirety here, but to quickly sum it up, Rand’s talking self-improvement. He’s talking about recognizing your flaws and correcting your behavior. Whether you’re too defensive, too lazy, or too shy, why are you like that— and when did it start?
The first thing I wanted to do was write him an email. I stopped myself. No, I can’t do that.
This is an incredibly intimidating person, who up until now, I didn’t have a lot in common with. Besides being a role model and a resource, all Rand ever was to me was entirely above me, above everything. He’s way too much, all at once, to ever read an email from me.
This is a person, who in the few times I’ve met him, I’ve failed to find words. Instead of finding something intelligent to say, I convinced myself before even approaching him that he was “too smart, too successful” to get anything valuable out of a conversation with little old me. Instead of sharing my ideas with him, I showed him my Han Solo phone case and said, “I like Star Wars, too!”
That was obviously before I read this post. At the very end, Rand challenged us:
“If you’re feeling especially transparent and are brave enough to share your discovery in a blog post, please leave it in the comments here, and I’d be thrilled to include it as a link in the post.”
Yikes. Do I dare write a blog post for Rand Fishkin to read? Do I risk allowing him to see my little blog– that actually, has very little to do with SEO? Will he think less of me for being an internet marketer that doesn’t ONLY care about internet marketing?
I don’t know. But I’m going to give it a shot and hope for the best. So here it is, my transparency, my deep dark secret… the girl in the red turtleneck.
Throughout my youth, I was painfully shy. Quiet. I wasn’t confident in High School, I wasn’t popular, and I definitely wasn’t cool.
I remember passing a note, from one desk to another, and seeing one sentence that read:
“Everyone in here is so cool! Except for the girl in the red turtleneck.”
One guess who that was. Awesome. That note haunted me until I graduated.
Then came college. I pushed myself to make friends, to branch out. I tried to redefine myself as someone “cool”, someone “worthy”, someone who other people would want to know.
That’s why until this day, I’m always a little surprised when someone does notice me. Every job interview, every relationship, every opportunity that comes my way, I feel lucky, blessed… and then I get the feeling. The fear of, “what if they find out?”
That I’m not cool, that is.
What if, instead of the thoughtful girl in Marketing, or the bucket list blogger, they see the girl in the red turtleneck? Instead of seeing a peer, they see that girl who never knew what to do with her hair, wore way too much makeup, and turned bright red whenever a boy even looked at her?
What if they find me out?
It crosses my mind sometimes. No matter how much successful I get, or how much I achieve, I wait for that girl to come back. I wait to pass the note, one person to another, that says- “Melissa is not cool. She sucks, and we should pass notes about her.”
The people who know me the best have never seen her. At least, they’ve never acted like it. I hear things like “you’re wonderful” or “you’re inspiring”, and I smile, thank them, nod yes, yes you’re right, I am… but then, I feel like I’m right back in that classroom.
I wonder how long it will be until the note is passed.
In some ways, the girl in the red turtleneck is a blessing. She makes me want to be more. She makes me push harder.
But in every way that she’s made me better, she’s also weakened me. She’s made me wary of the same people who’ve admired me. She makes me want to impress them, wow them, blow them away…. but also, terrified that it won’t be enough.
It’s a defense mechanism that’s caused me to put up walls. Personally, in my relationships. Professionally, in feeling safe in my career.
No matter what I do right, even when I’m congratulated, with every pat on the back…. I still feel scared. I try to be brilliant, kind and thoughtful, but still wonder what I can do better— you know, so the red turtleneck doesn’t come out.
When I thought about Rand’s post– about bettering myself– I immediately wondered, what happened to that red turtleneck? Is it at my parents, in storage, with the rest of my N’SYNC t-shirts and old Converse sneakers? Maybe it’s a hand me down, passed down from my younger sister, then to my younger cousins.
It doesn’t matter where it is really, because no matter where it is, I’m still wearing it. I feel it around my neck when I don’t know the right answer to a question. I feel the itchy tag whenever someone says nice things about me.
I‘m scared to try to ditch it, but Rand’s right. It’s a long, painful journey to better yourself. Unless I outgrow the hypothetical turtleneck, I’ll be stuck where I am.
Maybe someday, years from now, when I own a company, I’ll meet Rand again. Instead of talking about Star Wars, I’ll talk about how I’ve grown and what I’ve achieved. And I’ll thank him for his post, his honesty, and finally, for helping me ditch that ugly red turtleneck.
Have you ever seen Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist?
Yes, I agree- it’s a terrible movie. The only reason I liked it was for the title- infinite playlist?!
We’ve all got one of those lying around.
So here’s mine. Music is not one of my talents- I’m terrible at karaoke (which obviously makes me wonderful at it). However, despite my lack of musical talent, I do really love music.
At work, I’m known for my exceptionally large, white headphones. They shut out nearly all the noise around me. I really enjoy using music as a tool to shut out distractions, and with these babies, I can:
Anyway, here’s my “infinite” playlist. I hope you enjoy it!
1. “Echo” by Jason Walker
I found this song while browsing YouTube. I fell in love with the artist and listen to his songs religiously. This one in particular, really gets me:
I don’t wanna be an island, I just wanna feel alive…
2. “Daydreams” by Ryan Huston
I heard this song a few years ago through a friend. It’s incredibly…. I don’t know, hopeful?
“So give me the time, and I can be great…”
3. “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix
City of Angels is one of my all time favorite movies– especially the soundtrack. This was my first exposure to Jimi Hendrix:
“I have a bad bad feeling
that my baby don’t live here no more.”
4. “Feelin’ Love” by Paula Cole
I’m going to dip into some uncharted waters here… this song is probably the sexiest, steamiest song I’ve ever heard. This blog is rated PG, so I’ll leave it at that. It’s another song from City of Angels, and every time I hear it, I want to grab a Rolling Rock and soak in the tub.
Not going to post lyrics — you really need to hear the song to appreciate it.
5. “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” by Sophie B. Hawkins
This song reminds me of a very good friend of mine, Lane— only because he dared me to sing it during a karaoke outing. It was embarrassing. Anyway, it’s an oldie, but a goodie, and always makes me smile!
“I had a dream I was your hero…”
6. “Always” by Bon Jovi
If you want a good, classic rock song about love, this is it. A friend of mine requested “I’ll Be There For You” for me at a party, and instead, the DJ played this.
“It’s nothing but some feelings that this old dog kicked up…”
7. “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn
This song is just fantastic to dance to. It’s kind of empowering too- I think it’s the beat.
“Tell her that the only way her heart will mend, is when she learns to love again..”
I LOVE Robyn! She can really shake it!
8. “Red Shoes” by Elvis Costello
“Oh, I said “I’m so happy, I could die.”
She said “drop dead,” then left with another guy.
That part always makes me laugh.
9. “The Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine
This is just an all around, feel good song.
“She hid around corners and she hid under beds
She killed it with kisses and from it she fled
With every bubble she sank with her drink
And washed it away down the kitchen sink…”
10. “Closer” by Joshua Radin
This is one of the saddest, but at the same time, uplifting breakup songs ever written.
Just listen to it. Lyrics don’t do it justice.
11. “Honey and the Moon” by Joseph Arthur
I heard this song when I was a sophomore in high school…. before it was on the OC! I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.
“If you weren’t real I would make you up…”
12. “River of Dreams” by Billy Joel
My parents are huge Billy Joel fans, so I’ve heard this song over and over again since I was a kid. In college, I would crank it up and dance around my apartment when I was stressed out.
“In the middle of the night, I go walkin’ in my sleep…”
13. “Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie
This is such an amazing song. I can literally feel what the songwriter is feeling.
“The distance is quite simply much too far for me to row
It seems farther than ever before…”
14. “Dancing Away with my Heart” by Lady Antebellum
I’m a huge Lady A fan- the songs have SO much soul. I listened to these songs over and over again when I came back to North Carolina.
“I finally asked you to dance on the last slow song, beneath that moon that was really a disco ball.”
15. ”Blue Jeans” by Lana Del Rey
My old co-worker Claire turned me on to Lana Del Rey. Some people think she’s a poser, but I really enjoy her music. This song is my favorite.
“Blue jeans, white shirt, walked into the room, you know you made my eyes burn. You know it was like James Dean, for sure.”
16. ”Groovy Kind of Love” by Phil Collins
A sixteen song playlist is weird, but eh, don’t care. I never really thought of Phil Collins at all, until I heard this song in an amazing New Girl scene. Nick and Jess, along with Schmidt and Winston, start doing a slow version of the chicken dance to this song. It made me LOVE this song.
What’s on your infinite playlist?
I promised to try, in spite of my attempt last week, to have a great week. I got some interesting insights from this week, which actually, wasn’t so bad. Just busy.
Instead of a play by play, like my last post, here’s a list of wonderfully ironic and surprising things that happened to me this week.
1. I got some confidence back.
Last year, actually, the past two, have been a little up and down. By the end of it, I felt like my confidence had gone through a paper shredder.
Through little victories this week, I got some of my mojo back. It’s amazing how one little boost of confidence can change your mood- it’s like it ripples through every part of your life.
2. I met someone who, was quite possibly, God in disguise.
A curious stranger really restored my faith in the Universe. I had never met this individual before, and he just happened to catch me at the worst possible time. He was extremely patient and kind to me, for absolutely no reason. He took time out of his own night to make mine better. I don’t even know what his name was, but his words and wisdom really moved me. I guarantee his enthusiastic, “Oh sweetie, no, you don’t need that,” will echo in my mind the next time I’m conflicted about something.
3. I got tapped for House Hunters.
That’s pretty much it. A producer responded to my application for House Hunters. It probably won’t work out, but it’s still awesome to get a response.
4. I laughed. A lot.
5. I danced!!
Not in fire, but it was still fun.
6. I got inspired.
I went to an art show of one of my co-workers last night. The venue was this neat little place in Wilmington called Projekte- a fun little place with artwork, music, antiques and wine. I was talking to a co-worker about this incredible class I took in college- a figure drawing class. Talking about it made me really nostalgic, and being around all of that creativity sparked something in me.
7. I officially fell in love with Wilmington.
Wilmington is really a great place to live, but as a Philly girl, I had my doubts. When we first moved here, I recall walking downtown early one morning,
on the phone with my Mom. I was drinking an apricot iced tea from Port City Java and taking in the sights, chatting with her about my new town.
This overwhelming feeling of calm came over me, and I just knew that everything would be ok. I felt the same way this week. I spent more time downtown and felt really connected to the community.
8. I stopped freaking out over food.
I try to avoid junk food, but I let myself indulge this week. Nachos, cookies, wine…. ultimate noms.
9. I listened to really really cheesy music.
It was Celine Dion.
10. I stopped being so scared.
This goes hand in hand with confidence. Personally, when I’m not confident, I get scared. Of everything. I hesitate, I doubt, and that never leads anywhere good. This week, I just put it all out there. Time to stop being scared, unless, of course– it’s of a tornado. (Inside Joke: I’m terrified of tornadoes)
What do you think?
What did you learn this week?
I decided to do an overly cocky, self-promoting post today. I could have written something uplifting and positive for everyone to enjoy, but instead, I decided to write something just for me. If you’re not interested, just X out— I won’t blame you.
It’s so easy to look at someone else and see how wonderful they are. I see people that inspire me every day. I have wonderful friends that I’ve had for years.
My best friend Annastacia is kick ass. She’s one of the strongest people I know. She never judges me, yet, never lets me get away with anything.
My husband is loyal and kind. He folds my underwear—seriously (sorry for the overshare, but that’s pretty impressive). Every morning, he kisses my forehead and tells me how much he loves me– no exaggeration, every single morning.
My best friend Lane is adventurous and unstoppable. Childhood best friend and confidants Melissa and Nikki are sympathetic, yet honest and supportive. My baby sister is hilarious, beautiful and extremely intelligent.
Before I start on me, just one more. My brother Ricky is amazing. He’s one of the smartest, funniest, most incredible people I have ever had the privilege of knowing.
Which brings me to myself. Like I mentioned, it’s so easy to praise other people. It’s so difficult to look inward and see positive things about yourself…. but I’ll do my best without seeming too egotistical.
1. My hair looks nice curly.
2. I’m goofy.
3. I shake it like a polaroid pic-tah!
4. I get excited. Sometimes, for no reason.
5. I’m supportive.
6. Mindy is unpredictable and sometimes, mean, but hell… she’s fun.
7. I keep it tight.
8. I like to give people gifts… sometimes, for no reason.
9. I’m still a little gullible.
10. I’m a foodie.
What’s your favorite thing about yourself?