boundaries.

For the past four years, instead of New Year’s resolutions, I selected a word/theme for the year. A way to set the tone for my growth, and for my sanity. Past words have included fearless, grace, my own name as I needed to get back to me after my separation, and last year my word was intentional. I selected my word for 2018 pretty quickly at the end of 2017, but it’s taken me a while to write about it. I wasn’t sure what to say or not to say, but I’ve realized this is my life and I can say whatever the hell I want. Before we dive into 2018 and my word, let’s recap 2017 so you can understand why I selected my word.

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January 1, 2017 marked my first full year of being out on my own professionally. That previous year, my year of grace, saw ups and downs and so many lessons learned as I embarked on working for myself. Leading into my second year, I selected the word intentional. During my intentional year, I had some of the most incredible experiences. I traveled, was able to go to a conference I’d been wanting to go to for years, grew my business and my writing portfolio, made money, cultivated some amazing relationships, and realized my dreams of becoming a magazine editor. While my professional and parts of my personal life were intentional and amazing, other parts of my personal life were intentional, yet were far from amazing.

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In 2016, I connected with a friend at a birthday party and started to see him in a different light. Although there were red flags from the start, I grew to really care about him and ignored my gut because, on paper, we looked amazing. We would have great times, then we would have horrible times. We broke up and made up and lingered in a grey area for far too long. What had started with such promise in 2016 ended for the final time in the summer of 2017 with hurt and confusion for both of us. I started to heal. I started to move forward. It was when I was getting my sparkle back that I was rocked with the biggest hurt I’ve ever experienced… while I was healing, he briefly became involved with someone I once considered a friend. He knew her and knew that she was a friend. She knew him and knew that he and I had talked about moving in together. I even texted her after the breakup for advice as she had gone through a breakup a few months prior.

I wish I could say that was the last time he or she hurt me, but it wasn’t. I won’t go into too many details, I’ll save that for the book I’ll eventually write, but I will say that the two of them coupled with a few other “friends” who weren’t really friends made me question my world. I had survived a divorce, but I think the betrayals thrown at me during the course of 3-4 months as 2017 came to a close hit me harder than I ever imagined possible.

I’ll be honest… I thought of leaving Charlotte. I was ready to head to a new city as my city was now tainted.  As someone who used to go anywhere and do whatever she wanted in the city she loved, I turned into a bit of a hermit. I turned down certain invitations, avoided certain places, I even took steps back from writing for publications I loved. I was ready to call 2017 a wash, but there was a different plan for me.

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This plan started with my mom. She told me to write down all the amazing things that happened in 2017 on one sheet of paper, and to write all the bad things that happened in 2017 on another sheet. When finished, I had written over 20 amazing things and only about five things, mosty names, on the bad list. I realized who my true ride or die friends are (in Charlotte and beyond) and they reminded me that I have the power to decide who my main, supporting, and walk on characters who usually get killed in episode 9 of a Shonda Rhimes show are in my story/life. (Please note that I would never kill anyone, I’m the person who rescues baby squirrels, but I’m a writer and fan of dramatic flair.) Then a few days after my birthday, a dream of mine was realized and I became the editor of Carolina Bride magazine.

As January 1, 2018 rolled around, I was able to say that my 2017 was intentional and that it was incredible. I have this amazing life, but I needed to learn some valuable lessons. 2017 taught me to…
1. Listen to your gut.
2. Let people earn the title of “friend” before giving him/her that honor.
3. When someone shows you who they truly are, listen to them.
4. When you find your true friends, your people, you tell them everyday how much you love and value them.
5. Learn your lessons and move on and move forward.

Now that you know the back story, let’s finally get to my word for 2018. My word for 2018 is boundaries. I realized I didn’t have many before 2017. I have an open heart and I love unapologetically. I want to help everyone, but sometimes that has been a detriment to myself and I mean this personally and professionally. The boundaries I am creating are both professional and personal. I want to work with people, companies and publications that make my heart happy. I want to have amazing experiences with people I love and live the hell out of this life of mine. I can’t do all of this by saying yes to things and people who should be a no. As my dad said, “you can’t fly if you are carrying too much weight on your back.”

I still believe in magic, love and goodness, but my rose-colored glasses are off and that’s OK. It needed to happen… I just wish it hadn’t involved so much heartbreak. But then again, do we truly appreciate the good times without the bad times?!?

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With and without.

My intentional 2017 started off with a bang. I picked up some new clients, a new part-time job, and some new writing assignments. If I wanted to make this a successful year, I was off to a good start. But something wasn’t right. I just didn’t feel like me. All this good was happening, but I wasn’t fully able to enjoy it. With the election, a dinged up heart, and horrible sleeping patterns, I just was starting to feel down.

Those who know me well, know that I’m a ‘pick yourself up by the bootstraps’ type of gal. I don’t let myself stay down for long. My year of intentionality continued with me creating a challenge for myself to get my head right. In February I gave up drinking and social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

Giving up drinking was easy. Although I love a glass of wine or a brilliant cocktail (Gin, I’ve missed you), it’s not something I tend to crave. It also helps that there are some amazing nonalcoholic options out there, like kombucha. I’m addicted to Lenny Boy’s Lost Rose kombucha.

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Now social media… that was a little harder to give up. I realized how conditioned I had become to checking my phone and mindlessly scrolling through posts. People seemed more shocked by my giving up social media than anything else. Two of the most frequent questions I got was 1. do you feel out of the loop? and 2. how do you get your news and stay informed? I never felt out of the loop because friends would tell me about events, etc. As for the second question, I used this great invention called the Internet to seek out information, especially news and current events.

I learned some great lessons during my month of being ‘without’ and I had so much more time for work, fun, and for myself. I will definitely have to write something more in-depth about the lessons I learned.

Loving the idea of a challenge, I decided to keep challenging myself in different ways throughout the year. This brings me to March. March is less about going without something and more about adding things to my routine. For the month of March, I’m challenging myself to drink a shit ton more water than I do now, to listen to at least one record a day, and to workout 3-4 times a week.

I don’t drink nearly enough water during the day. When I get in my zone while working, I tend to not eat or drink until I’m starving or dying of thirst. Yeah, I know that’s not a good thing, but I’m working on it. I recently was gifted with my parents’ record player and their vinyl collection. I’ve been slowly adding my music to the collection, but I love the idea of getting to know my parents more through their taste in music. Yesterday I listened to Nancy Sinatra and today I took a tour of Motown and listened to The Supremes. During February, due to better sleep patterns, more time and energy, I started working out more. I lost 6 pounds and feel amazing. I want to keep up that momentum.

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This year is about being the best I can be in all areas of my life, but, most importantly, this year is to remember that I have a pretty amazing life.

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love.

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With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about love. The funny thing about my thought process is that recently I was a guest on the Charlotte Magazine podcast #DiscussCLT to talk about love and dating in Charlotte. Far from an expert on love and dating, I was invited on because of an article I wrote for the November issue.

Even before this month, or the podcast came up, it felt like I couldn’t escape the word or the topic of love. In the past few months, I have been asked numerous times about my feelings about love. Does it exist? Do I believe in it? Do I want to fall in love again? Out of all the questions I was asked, the one that got me was about whether or not I wanted love in my life.

Even after a divorce and some breakups since, I have never once thought that I didn’t have love in my life. I have an awesome family, incredible friends, a fluffy and lovable dog, and I have my faith. I won’t lie to you and tell you have I haven’t had moments where I’ve wondered what the hell I’m doing in the romantic relationships department. There have been many times when I’ve thrown up my hands and said “I’m done,” but those declarations only lasted for a dramatic southern moment.

While my track record with love has had some hits and misses I don’t blame love for any of my bumps in the road. Love doesn’t hurt us, it’s people, situations, timing, etc. that hurt us. Over the past few years I have learned that love is more than just love between spouses or partners. To me the greatest love is love of self. If you can’t love yourself, how will you ever be able to truly love someone else?

Reading a book, listening to a record, cuddling with my fluffy and lovable dog on my green couch, and just being OK by myself and with myself is sometimes enough. And even though I happen to like myself, that doesn’t mean there’s not room for one more on my green couch.

So for all of the questions I’ve been asked about love, the answer is always yes.

 

 

 

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Intentional.

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As the first month of 2017 comes to a close, I realize I haven’t declared my word or theme for the year. As I’ve said in previous years, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe in selecting a word or a theme to shape my year. A way to set intent for the year, which is ironic, because my word for this year is… Intentional.

In 2016, my word was Grace. That was the perfect word for my first year as a full-time writer and business owner. Grace got me through my personal and professional mistakes, successes, heartbreaks and triumphs. I learned I have a good head on my shoulders for business. I learned sometimes I have to say no to things no matter how much I want to say yes. I learned the importance of surrounding myself with amazing people. I learned that I am capable of loving someone even though I may get hurt. Through Grace, I allowed myself to grow.

Grace allowed me to grow, but my hope is being Intentional will allow me to succeed. I plan to be more intentional professionally, personally, physically, spiritually, mentally, and so on and so on. All of it. I want to be the best I can be for myself and for those in my life, including my dog, Smitty.

My Intentional 2017 has already started strong professionally, but not so much personally. This is why I’ve decided that I’m going to take the first intentional step for myself personally in February. During the month of February, I’m giving up alcohol and taking a break from social media. Time for a detox. Time to take intentional steps for me. I’ll still be on Instagram and I’m going to use the time to write more here. I realized I write so much for others, that I don’t write for myself much these days. Time for a change.

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paths.

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I believe we all have certain paths we are supposed to take in life. Some paths may lead people to become doctors, teachers, or world travelers. Some paths may lead people to become parents, animal rescuers, or crusaders of causes. And there may even be a path for a thirtysomething writer with a passion for all things related to the ocean.

I fought my path for a long time. I always knew I would be a writer and my own boss. The reasons I knew all of this was because a normal 9 to 5 job never fit my personality, I like doing things my way, and writing always made me deliriously happy. Even though I knew these facts about myself I never fully accepted them or my path. Time for some honesty… fear was a huge reason I avoided my path. Fear of the unknown. Fear of going against the grain and doing something different. Fear of admitting to myself that I had made wrong decisions in my life.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin

There was a time when instead of going down the long and winding road, I took the path of least resistance. I decided I could be happy where I was and I just needed to ignore the voices in my head telling me to be brave. Well, God had different plans for me. Whether you believe in God or not, I truly feel that if we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing, we will somehow be put back on our path. Usually, that process is a lot more painful than if we had stopped being fearful and stubborn in the first place (I’m totally talking about myself here).

We all will experience different paths in life. Some paths will involve careers, love, friendship, heartache, missteps, face plants, but everything will be worth it in the end. The path I am on now has broken and rebuilt my heart piece by piece, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe I’d change a few things, but I’m trying to follow my path with a sense of humor and an open heart.

 

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grace.

IMG_3383I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, so for the past three years I opted to select a word or a theme to shape my year. In 2014, my word was my name, Erin. I had gotten so far away from who I was that I needed to get back to the heart of me. It worked. I felt more like me than I had in years.

In 2015, my word was Fearless. I did things that both scared and challenged me. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and to pursue my dreams. Well, 2015 ended with me leaving my job as a marketing director and going out on my own as a writer and a business owner.

Although 2016 is half gone, I realized I haven’t written about my word yet. This year, the word I selected didn’t come easily. It didn’t roll off my tongue and I didn’t have a big “a-ha” moment. My word came to me one day while I was reading. I kept seeing the same word scattered throughout the pages of my book. By what was probably the tenth time that I saw the word, I paused and said it quietly to myself. A sense of peace came over me and I let a small smile spread across my face. I found it. My word for 2016 is Grace.

Life, love, writing, and everything in between.

This year I’m going to make brilliant decisions and I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to get hurt and I’m going to hurt others. I’m going to have adventures and I’m going to have missed opportunities. I’m going to laugh and I’m going to cry. I’m not perfect, and I like knowing that about myself. There is comfort in being imperfect.

I’m going to give myself the grace to learn from every decision I make, every person I let in my life, and I’m going to give that same courtesy to others. Grace is a gift that I plan to accept and to give.

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Music Monday: Nina Simone

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A gorgeous tree outside my building

Although this weekend was chilly in the Queen City, it was gorgeous outside and I tried to take advantage of the sunshine. Long walks with Smitty and a little hike on Sunday at McDowell Preserve was a great way to clear my head and enjoy the sunshine.

IMG_5281One of the views at McDowell Preserve 

This weekend, I also listened to a lot of different music and rediscovered some classics. I was really feeling Nina Simone and that carried over to today too. What better way to get through a gloomy Monday than by listening to one of the greats? If you haven’t, you should absolutely check out Nina’s work. She was one of a kind and left an incredible legacy.

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