Self-Confidence Sunday #21–Big Girl Job, Big Girl Hair

So if you follow me on any social media platforms, you have probably just seen this picture due to my excitement. =) Finally, after a full year of putting it off (partly because I’m thrifty, partly because I’m lazy), I went and got this hair handled! One of the guys who used to coach with me also happens to be a cosmetologist and he is FABULOUS. Seriously. I don’t think my hair has ever looked this good, and I am so ecstatic about it. But as he said, “You got the big girl job, now it’s time to get the big girl hair!”

[Preemptive referral in case anyone is looking for a hairstylist: If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and want to get the hair hook-up for a fair but way-cheaper-than-the-salon price (he works at a very high-end salon, but when he does hair on the side obviously he doesn’t charge extra for all the unnecessary frills), let me know and I am more than happy to get you his number.]

Self-Confidence Sunday #20

I’m tired tonight so I almost didn’t write this. But these are things I’ll want to remember on a hard day, so here I am.

If you know much about me, you know that coaching brings me joy. I’ve always said that if I could spend every day of the rest of my life running around barefooted with these crazy kids, I would call it a life well lived.

More than anything, evidence that I have an impact on these kids–that I have in some way brought them confidence and helped them build self-esteem and competence–reminds me why I started coaching in the first place. It always seems like such a tiny thing at face value, maybe just an off-hand comment, but watching them grow and being told how much they’ve improved always makes my day.

Earlier this week, I was working out lesson schedules with a parent when she texted back, “You know my daughter well.” There are times when we coaches can feel so helpless as we watch a kid struggling with mental blocks, anxiety, or shame (in addition to “real-world” issues, which is always so hard), but it’s statements like that that reaffirm I’m doing a good job learning who my athletes are as people and what they need from me as we work together.

I have another athlete who struggles with ADHD (which I get, given that that’s had an enormous impact on every facet of my own life). Coaches, teachers, etc. get on her case a lot, and the poor kid tries so hard. She gets anxious about remembering things, and she is so upset with herself when she “messes up again.” She was so worried she was going to forget things or do the wrong thing that she was hindering her learning process from start to finish. I started doing private lessons with her, and I have just loved seeing the joy in her face as she realizes that she really CAN get all these skills–and even be the best at them the more she practices. I told her that one day, she could compete Level V or cheer in high school or even college too if she keeps working hard, and it was just like a lightbulb went on.

Her grandfather came to practice Friday and found me afterward to introduce himself. He told me that he wanted me to know how much of a change has been wrought in lil’ one, and that even if it doesn’t seem big to me, her lessons with me are a huge deal in their household and for his granddaughter. He said after hearing everything his wife especially had told him about our lessons, he just really wanted to meet me and shake my hand.

I may not have everything together 100% of the time, but if nothing else, I can count on the fact that I can make a difference for these girls. That’s a lot more important than, say, having a clean room (which I still fail at about…maybe 98% of my adult life), which is my current self-improvement project.

Money, New Year’s Resolutions, and Financial Freedom

I know a lot of people are making finance-related new year’s resolutions this week, so I thought I would share some of the savings/investment tools that have really made a difference for me in the past year. And if you’re reading this after the new year–well hey, it’s never too late to make moves toward financial freedom!
My newest favorite (as of April 2017) is Wealthsimple, which is where I hold my Roth IRA. They let you invest in socially responsible companies and they manage your first $5,000 free. In addition, if you sign up through someone else’s referral, you each get an additional $10,000 managed free for another year. My  link is here: Wealthsimple-Smart Investing.
Update: since Digit is going to start charging $2.99/month for their services starting in July, I’ve decided to stop using them by that time. That may be okay for some people…but I’m cheap enough that that was a deal-breaker for me. =) Just leaving this here for the sake of information.
I started using the (free) Digit savings app in the middle of 2016 (while making very little extra money at the time, by the way) and was able to save about an extra $1000 just through the app. Basically, it transfers very small amounts of money that you won’t miss from your checking account into a savings account. You can withdraw it whenever, but it’s a really great way to save for a large purchase or trip, to finance an emergency fund, pay down debt at a faster rate, etc.
I also started using Acorns, which is a lot like Digit but for investments. If you want to invest in a diversified portfolio but don’t have lots of extra money or extra time (or if you just aren’t a seasoned investor), this is a great way to go. It lets you invest amounts as small as $5 at a time and takes the “round-ups” from all of your purchases and turns them into investments. I’m super nerdy about it, but I check the app pretty much every day to see how much I’ve “made” as of that day/month/quarter/etc. I’m still always excited to see the dividends added to my account, even though it’s still a bit surreal to me that I can make money from investing such small amounts at a time.
For those of you who are interested, using my link starts you off with a free $10 in your account ($10 through April and on several other months; otherwise, it starts you with a free $5 instead). Acorns also recently became completely free for college students, so I highly recommend this to those of you still in school. For everyone else, it’s a dollar per month (unless you’ve invested like $50K in which case it’s more like 0.25% or so). My referral link: Acorns.
For people more interested in just cutting daily expenses, I also use Ibotta for grocery savings, which thus far is my favorite of all of the grocery apps I’ve used. I’m pretty frugal anyway, but I was still able to get a couple hundred dollars in grocery rebates back from Ibotta. If you’re interested in signing up, this link will start you with $10 after you claim your first rebate: Ibotta Grocery Coupons.
As someone who grew up stressing about where every penny went and devising ways to make money or cut costs as far back as I can remember, it has honestly been life-changing to have a healthy emergency fund, no credit card debt, and to have started saving for retirement already. I don’t think people really understand the difference unless they have personally been through legitimate financial hardship, but every aspect of life is so, so, so much easier when you are financially stable.

Maybe, Just Maybe…

It’s been a rough year. From a violent stalker to dating a sociopath to work and financial struggles to deaths in the family to health issues and more, 2015.5-2016.5 has been a doozy. But maybe everything is going to work out after all. I got the call less than an hour ago, haven’t even told my current boss(es) yet but…

…I got the job.

And I have no idea how I feel. I’m stunned. Excited, but it almost felt too good to be true. And now I have to give notice (to my contract job and also to the investment company, but I also have to change my coaching schedule), but I’m going to be paid like a real person. I can finally fix my parents’ plumbing with my first paycheck like I promised last year (because I spent months on the roof, under the sink, and dealing with hydrochloric acid, but that’s another story). And it’s a huge, intimidating, enormous opportunity. I’m probably going to suck at it for a little while (actually, probably for a long while: at my third in-person interview the CEO said he would fully expect it to take a year for me to get a true understanding of the company, what they’re looking for, etc.).

But Lord have mercy, this is what I have been waiting for for the last year. This opportunity feels like the right one, even if I’m going to be scared halfway out of my mind once the shock wears off. Or maybe I won’t be (side note: super excited to officially meet the tall/dark/handsome man who poked fun at my door-holding skills at one of my interviews). Who knows. Right now, I am just so, so thankful that I found a position I’m so excited about, and even more than that, I am beyond grateful for all of the people who stood by my side and encouraged me (and listened to me obsess) as I went through this process. I can’t wait to see what’s next. <3


Self-confidence Sunday #19

After Knee Surgery One-Legged SquatsTwo years ago, right after my first year in graduate school, I finally elected to have the two knee surgeries (one on each leg) that I had been needing for several years. The pain was waking me up at night, and especially in the Missouri cold, even walking was often a chore, to say nothing of lifting, running, and coaching. I took this photo merely two days out of surgery, and I remember being so exhilarated about being able to (carefully) work on one-legged squats so soon. This photo reminds me that I am a hard worker, I am tough, I am resilient in the face of hardship, and I have what it takes to overcome what can seem like impossible odds. I have survived what started out to be a pretty rotten year, and I am so excited to discover what is left to come. <3

Self-confidence Sunday #18

Hands Prep Stunt United Cheer Dallas#MightyMouseActivities

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.” I may be (very) tired right now, but I am strong and I am a hard worker. Things are coming together, and I hope ***fingers crossed*** that something big is about to happen for me in my career. And if not, I’ll just keep on lifting big people. =)

Self-confidence Sunday #17

Last month, I agreed to do a sample shoot for the catalog of a company in which my freelance employer invests. The product, a line of collegiate-branded women’s sleepwear, seemed right up my alley (seriously, who doesn’t love pajamas??), though it had been a while since I’d done a shoot. Although it was fun (my photographer, Tara Arseven, was just wonderful: personable, intelligent, and funny), the experience was a good reminder that I simply am not keen on attempting to use my appearance to make a living when I could (less stressfully, and with fewer creepers) use my talents to do the same. If nothing else, some of the attire was just skimpier than I am comfortable being photographed: about the least I’m okay with wearing tends to be a sports bra and spandex shorts for a sports-related shoot.

He (my freelance boss) wanted to do a re-shoot with another photographer as well, and had talked about me rebuilding my portfolio, but it felt good to be able to say with certainty that I would prefer to focus on my writing/editing/marketing and that I’m not interested in any sort of modeling right now.

There were some nice images, including the ones I’ve posted here…but what I really liked about the shoot was the glimmer of my genuine smile coming back (not counting the one with the straddle hold below: my face was showing the strain of holding the position, but cool athletic things >>> being attractive). For me, this was evidence of the fact that hard times don’t last forever: I was bound to be back to my old self again, just better, stronger, wiser, and hopefully kinder than ever before. Hurt doesn’t have to last forever. Photoshoot Tara Arseven Laughter Pillowfight Joy Auburn - Copy Photoshoot by Tara Arseven Straddle Hold Yoga GymnasticsSample Photoshoot Tara Arseven Auburn University

And just like that

You were gone,

Much like the wave of

Emotion your now-distant

Memory succinctly evokes.

Sometimes, it can be a blessing to have the “one that got away” only a text message away. He, who broke my heart several short years ago, was suddenly my lifeline when Seyi turned out to be a legitimately shitty person. Even now, we are in tune enough for that; still finishing each other’s sentences after all this time. I told him I’d never forgive him if he made me fall for him again…but perhaps I’ve finally (hopefully!!!) learned what Ms. Maya admonished long ago: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

I’m not sure if it’s from being sick, or perhaps the days I end up working 9:30-8:30, but I’ve just been really tired lately. And very frustrated tonight… I stayed for the remainder of open gym and I just couldn’t/wouldn’t (the issue is mental, not a physical inability) tumble except for throwing tucks on one specific mat. -__- I’m so, so fucking tired of dealing with mental blocks. Tired of not having my life where I want it in general, I guess. But that takes time. I know it will work out, so I’ve just got to keep chugging along.

I’m moving next month. I certainly have mixed feelings about that, since there’s so much more I wanted to be able to do for my parents before I moved, but with my sister moving back home it’s just a better idea for me to go. Plot twist: I’m moving in with the “other woman” (or one of them, anyway); hereafter, I’ll just refer to her as “F,” my roommate-to-be. As she and I have laughed about, Seyi may have been a shitty person but he sure did have good taste in women. 😉 We’d wanted to meet each other for a while, and it turns out we have a whole lot in common. I’m excited about this new chapter in my life even as I am already missed evenings with my parents and worrying about the financial aspects.

I hope things will feel better in the morning. It was just a rough day, but things will get better soon. Maybe I just need a hug, a long set of sprints, and a margarita.

Bad Luck with Nice Hotels in Strange Cities, Part 2

For Part 1 of this saga, introduced as evidence to support the assertion that my life is a joke, read here:

Bad Luck with Nice Hotels in Strange Cities, Part 1

(I started writing this post the Saturday (April 9th) I was still in Houston, hence the present tense passages!)

Being here is absolutely lovely. I am thankful for the opportunity to escape a bit for the weekend, and it has renewed my belief that I need to start taking mini-getaway trips (with Max the Cat, of course!) every once in a while. I just am fighting with my impulse to feel guilty for “letting” B. take me out for dinner(s) and drinks, to get a massage (editor’s note: we didn’t end up doing that), arrange my flights and put me up in this nice hotel (though I hope both of those were free of charge and from his points, since he frequently travels for work), buy me flowers…even though I didn’t ask for any of it and he offered multiple times before I accepted. But I also have to remind myself that it is not my fault that he is doing so, and that I owe nobody anything—not my time, emotions, body, affection, or attention—because they have done something nice for me. In the past, I have been very careful to pick up my share of the costs when men have offered to do something similar.

I just don’t think many men understand how disappointing it can be to realize that someone wants to date you when they at first gave the appearance that they were actually interested in you as a person without wanting anything from you. And when I say “wanting anything,” I’m not referring to sex, which people often assume when women say that. Especially in a professional setting, it really changes the dynamic and comfort level and it’s exhausting when it happens constantly. Just talk to me like a freaking person without having an ulterior motive; not that hard.

So as far as planning for today went, we left off last night with the decision that I would sleep until I woke (and then try to sleep some more) then let him know when I was ready to get pancakes/go get those massages he suggested we go get/go do anything else I decided I would like to do in the city.

I woke at 9:45 the first time (ick) because my body decided it would be obscene to sleep more than 6.5 hours. After some finagling, I was able to wrangle up another hour of sleep, but that was about the extent of it. I made coffee and leisurely got ready for the day, then messaged him at noon to mention another of the hotel quirks I’d discovered and ask if he minded if I got some writing done. He responded several minutes later and said, “No problem. I’ve got some errands to run…no rush at all. Plenty of quirks in all shapes and sizes haha”

But then things started to feel (even more) awkward…evidenced by our textual interactions during the day (spoiler, I did not see him again after our exchange Friday night!):

(me) 1:47 p.m. “True, haha! I’ll probably put writing and other to-do sorts of things on hold in another 30, I think.”

(B.) 3:02 p.m. “Ok cool! Should we get massages?”

(me.) 3:05 p.m. “If you’re still up for it, then so am I!”

As of 5:17 p.m., I have not gotten a response to that, so perhaps he’s offended that I was not chomping at the bit to hold his hand, go to his house to “help rearrange furniture,” etc. last night. -_-

Update: at 5:09 p.m. he forwarded me an email from someone who is looking for an assistant in the Houston area. The job would pay $50,000 a year. Which is cool and all…except I do not live in Houston and have no plans to move here. Especially given whatever is going on right now with this.

(5:40 p.m.) I have to admit, I am a little irritated right now. Yes, it was really nice of him to use his points to fly me down and put me up in this nice hotel. The flowers were nice, the food and drinks were nice. But to pretend that all that was because you were empathic about my horrible, heartbreaking experience and then use that as an opportunity to hit on me…? That’s not okay. At all.

And then, it was finally addressed:

FullSizeRender FullSizeRender_1 FullSizeRender_2 FullSizeRender_3 FullSizeRender_4 FullSizeRender_5 FullSizeRender_6Although he certainly didn’t come off as ungentlemanly during the conversation, it really irked me that he didn’t have any sort of understanding at how upsetting it was to go through that sort of bait-and-switch type of situation and have him knowingly hit on me (and he’s 13 years my senior and had never seen me in person before!!!) and then say that he “can’t control the timing on those things.” Seriously…? That’s all you have to say, after consciously ignoring everything I was going through and putting your wants (wants that were completely out of left field, mind you) before my needs? No thanks.

Needless to say, I hit the downstairs hotel happy hour that evening, where my night was filled with many whiskey sours and which ended with me lifting a “large Asian man” (as he called himself) who was impressed with my biceps and then drinking out of a very cute flower vase before hopping up to bed.Whiskey Sour Westin Hotel Houston Cafe…and yessss, there will be a Part 3! 😉