How to be Self-Employed

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I’ve (almost) completed my first week of being in private practice, and I have to say – so far, so good! I was worried I’d lose my mind from too much freedom (like when I was unemployed a few years ago), but I’ve actually been somewhat busy, which is fantastic. There’s definitely been more downtime than what I’m used to, though.

Hopefully, I’ll soon have a full caseload of clients and my day will naturally be more active. But until that happens, here’s what a typical day has been looking like for me:

7:30 – Wake up and curse the morning’s arrival, just like every other day

7:30-8:29 – Put on make up, run a rake through my unruly hair, and get dressed

8:30 – Decide it’s time to leave my apartment to begin my 45-minute commute to the office

8:30 – Remind myself that I’m too anal about scheduling and time, because I always think that I need to leave super early in case there’s a car accident or earthquake or avalanche on the way,  and then there’s never any kind of disaster, so I arrive to my destination way too early, and end up feeling  bored as I wait for my first client to show, and then have remind myself for the millionth time that I could be a little more laid-back. I can leave in a few minutes.

8:30 – Leave for work.

10:00-10:50 – Intake session. As my client is leaving, she mentions she’s headed to a popular kolache joint down the street from the office

10:50-11:00 – Daydream about kolaches

11:00-12:00 – Finish completing paperwork and updating my calendars. Feel I deserve a kolache as a reward.

12:01 – Mentally congratulate myself for choosing not to get a kolache. I’m so healthy and grown-up.

12:01-12:45 – On the commute back home, have this argument in my head:

Rational Brain: “Okay, we’re not going to spend the afternoon watching TV. Think of something productive to do.”

Irrational Brain: “Netflix!”

Rational Brain: “NO! No. Let’s work on the book. You haven’t done that in awhile.”

Irrational Brain: “Or…. we could bake cookies.”

RB: (rolls eyes) “No. You got to bake yesterday.”

IB: (rolls eyes) “That was banana bread. This is cookies. They’re very different.”

RB: “Yes, I KNOW there’s a difference between —- Okay, you know what, we’re getting off-    topic. Why don’t we compromise? You can bake the cookies, and while they’re in the oven,        you can do something important, like –“

IB: “BAKE MORE COOKIES!”

RB: “For the love of God, STOP IT with the cookies!”

IB: (pouts)

RB: “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled. But you really need to get some things done.”

IB: (thinks for awhile) “I could…send an email to that one person about that one thing.”

RB: “Yes! That’s good! What else?”

IB: “I could…turn on Netflix and watch it while I dust the living room?”

RB: “Not the best, but I’ll take it.”

1:00-1:30 – Stop at the grocery store for a prescription and some lunchmeat. Leave with more Ferrero Rocher chocolates than any normal human being would require. Remember that I didn’t get a kolache earlier, and feel justified in my purchase.

1:30-1:45 – Make a to-do list for the afternoon. Spend inordinate amount of time making the wording look fancy.

1:45-2:00 – Call the licensing board to notify them about my change in address. Become so hypnotized listening to the “hold” music, that I temporarily forget why I’m calling and feel startled when someone finally answers. Spend fifteen minutes on hold, only to be told that change of addresses now have to be completed online. Consider setting fire to things.

2:00-3:00 – Accidentally lose a big chunk of time on meaningless activities. Not even sure what I did here.

3:00-4:00 – Watch Joe Biden be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Feel weepy and proud, as though I know him personally. Also feel a little jealous, as though maybe I should have won the medal myself. Cheese blogs save lives, too, you know.

4:00-6:00 – Watch a marathon of That 70s Show and remember for the millionth time that I don’t find the show very funny and in fact, almost find it irritating, and yet, I can’t seem to stop watching it. I’m stuck in an infinite loop of terrible characters and weak plots.

6:00-7:30 – Play Sudoku on my phone. Feel triumphant when I beat my previous scores. Take that, lesser self!

7:30 – Turn off TV and put away phone in an effort to ground myself. Lament about today’s youth being too connected to technology. Open new library book.

7:38-10:30 – Watch more of That 70s Show.

 10:30 – Go to bed suddenly feeling anxious that I didn’t get enough done during the day, and that maybe the whole world will fall apart unless I check my work email RIGHT NOW, so I check it and there’s nothing there, so I feel a little relief, but then the light from my phone sends a message to my brain that it’s time to be awake now, because that’s how brains work, so now I’m too alert and twitchy and I spend half an hour trying to relax, but I feel like I don’t deserve to be relaxed because I didn’t do much today. Resolve to be more productive tomorrow.

 

Diving into the Doom

Big things are on the horizon for Cheese Woman (that’s my new nickname, as of right now). As many of you know, I am a mental health therapist. As not many of you know, I’ve recently decided to leave the agency I currently work for, and am in the process of going into private practice.

This decision has come with a full rainbow of feelings. Guilt about leaving clients, especially ones I’ve been seeing a long time. Sadness about leaving my coworkers. Hopeful about relationships with new coworkers. Nervous about having to market for myself in the new practice.

Mostly though, I vacillate between these two feelings:

  1. Over-the-top, click-your-heels-together excitement

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  1. Massive, soul-encompassing fear

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At times, I am filled with hope and happiness about my new job. I can’t wait to have more control over the types of cases I see, and I’m optimistic that I can figure out marketing and get into a comfortable routine. Then, my fervor collides with naïveté and spirals into a whirling tornado of idealistic delusion. With a manic grin on my face, I picture myself becoming wildly successful in my practice. I’ll clearly make kajillions of dollars. It won’t matter whether I’m good at marketing, because people will travel hundreds of miles and ford treacherous rivers with their oxen in order to see me. Other agencies will beg me to give presentations. My former grad professors will look on me with pride.

I will be helpful. I will inspire CHANGE.

At other times, I descend into a neurotic pit of doom. I worry that I will have trouble finding clients. That I will not make enough money to support myself. That I will have to explain to friends and family why I’m struggling financially. That this situation will continue long enough that I will have to take on another job, or else be in danger of losing my savings. I am terrified at the thought of taking a big risk and getting nothing in return. I am sickened at the idea of admitting failure. Instead of picturing people traveling far and wide for my services, I picture public scorn. I envision myself being forced to rent my extra bedroom to a banjo-playing drifter who collects taxidermied raccoons. And who eats my leftover macaroni and cheese.

I am no picnic to be around when I’m in the pit of doom. I may or may not have vomited sheer anxiety all over certain loved ones victims.  And then gave them wide-eyed looks of terror as they were forced to reassure me that I will probably not die from this. Also, I may or may not have asked a friend if she’ll still like me if I have to become a prostitute.

Her answer was yes, if you were wondering.

It sort of feels as though I am a dichotomy* of emotion right now, bouncing back and forth from one extreme to another. But the truth is, as with most things in life, I typically fall somewhere in the middle on the spectrum of experience. Even when I’m deliriously excited, I still have a twinge of nervousness. And even when I’m spinning through the black hole of fear, there’s still a quiet whisper at the back of my brain that’s going, “Hey. You can do this.”

*Side note – Ever noticed how the word “dichotomy” sounds like a type of surgery?

 “Can’t make it to your party on Tuesday – I’m having another dichotomy.”

“Another?! That’s your fourth one this year!”

I don’t think the goal is to be completely without worry in this process. For one thing, that’s just not possible. It’s new, and new things are scary. But also, I think a small amount of anxiety keeps me realistic. I SHOULD be concerned about money. Not having money is bad. That’s a practical matter to be thinking about and preparing for. Rather than convincing myself not to be scared, I think the more appropriate goal is to try for an attitude of “Yes, and …”

“Yes, I’m scared about this… and I’m also excited about it. Yes, this could go badly for me … and I’m going to try it anyway.”

I’m actively attempting to lean in to my fears instead of fighting against them. Diving cleanly into the water will hurt a heck of a lot less than falling into it kicking and screaming.

I hate to admit it, but this deluge of cheesy encouragements is also somewhat helping…

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We’ll see if I’m still holding onto this attitude a few months from now. Or a few minutes from now.

What is scaring (or exciting) you guys right now?

 

How to Be Unemployed

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A couple of summers ago, after finishing grad school, I went through a three-month period of unemployment, where it felt like every day was a battle to maintain my sanity.

I soon found myself maintaining a particular routine, just to try to keep some structure in an otherwise long, purposeless day. If you ever find yourself unemployed, I highly recommend following a similar schedule. May the Job Force be with you

10:00–10:30 – Wake up and force self to get out of bed. Whine and moan a lot.

10:30–11:00 – Eat breakfast. Chew cereal angrily.

11:00–12:00 – Swim laps in the apartment pool for no other reason but to kill time. Pretend THIS guy is in the water with you to make things more interesting:

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12:00 – Try to convince yourself to shower, so that you can get the chlorine out of your hair. Decide that you don’t care if your hair turns green. You’re THAT hardcore.

12:05-12:30 – Shower.

12:30-1:00 – Get dressed, but not in real clothes. When you don’t have a job, you can wear any stupid thing you want and it doesn’t matter. You should take advantage of that!

1:00 – Sit down to the computer to start job-searching for the first time that day. Pray to the Gods of Employment to show a little mercy on you. Consider performing some sort of séance or animal sacrifice to please the gods and increase your luck.

1:05-2:30 – Apply for stupid bullshit jobs that you have no desire to do, but you’re running out of money and people keep asking you if you’ve found a job yet, and every time they do, a little part of you dies, and you can feel yourself losing your grip on sanity and you just want a fucking job, so you just keep searching, and you keep editing your resume until you hardly recognize it anymore, and you keep applying for shitty ass jobs you don’t want to do. Because that’s what grown-ups do.

2:30-3:00 – Weep all over your fancy-framed diplomas.

3:00-4:00 – Watch a little daytime TV on one of your three channels, because you can’t afford Netflix or cable. But you refuse to watch that Dr. Phil pseudo-psych bullshit, because he’s the worst. Even while unemployed, you still have your standards.

4:00-4:05 – Groan some more. Try groaning in different areas of your house to see how the acoustics change.

4:05-5:30 – Throw on the stained t-shirt that you’ve worn for three days in a row, and go out to run your daily errand. (Even if you have multiple errands to run, you can only allow yourself to go to ONE place. Gotta spread things out.) Go to Target and spend an hour staring at the pretty stationery, and then leave without buying anything but a single banana.

5:30-6:30 – Prepare ramen or instant mac & cheese.  Eat your Target banana for dessert.

6:30-6:35 – Take deep breaths as you check your email. Try to convince yourself that if you think positively, you can MAKE a response appear from a prospective employer. Perform another séance for luck.

6:35 – Discover that there are no new emails. Decide it is your computer’s fault that you’re unemployed. Punish the computer with your thoughts.

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6:37 – Receive a text from a family member or friend, asking if you’ve found a job yet. Consider murdering them.

6:45-7:00 – Lay on the carpet and cry some more. You’re going to miss having a place to live.

7:00-8:00 – Watch Grey’s Anatomy. Find yourself hoping that the entire hospital explodes into a huge fireball, and that everybody gets mangled. Especially Meredith.

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8:00-10:00 – Begin the second round of job-searching, because for some crock of shit reason, employers have started posting new jobs at night, and if you wait until the next day to apply for them, you’re probably coming behind some overachieving assholes who are even more anal than you are, so in order to keep up with everyone, you’re going to have to up your level of anal, and you never thought you’d say that phrase in your life, but you’ve lost perspective, and you don’t know what to believe anymore.

10:00-10:30 – Consider taking up a new fun hobby, like smoking crack.

10:30-12:00 – Come up with an idea for a children’s TV show about a clog-dancing gremlin named Elvis. Write and illustrate the first 15 pages of the script.

12:00 – Check your email again. Discover that an employer wants to set up an interview with you!!!!!!!

12:00-12:07 – Run around your apartment like a madwoman, waving your arms in the air and making pterodactyl noises.

12:07-1:00 – Try on different outfits to wear to the interview, because even though it’s after midnight, and the interview is still three days away, you need time to prepare, and you’re not sure whether that pencil skirt still fits, and you briefly wonder whether a pencil skirt is perhaps too fancy for an interview at a nonprofit agency, but you don’t exactly have a lot of choices, and it seems like a better option than the dress pants with the hole in the crotch.

1:00 – Feel thankful that you showered earlier. Green hair really wouldn’t go with this blouse.

1:00-1:30 – Research interview tips. You’re going to interview harder than anyone has ever interviewed in the history of interviews.

1:30 – Fall into a twitchy sleep.

For those who have endured periods of unemployment or (other difficult periods), what kind of routine did you develop? What other strategies helped you through?

 

Therapist Me vs. Real Me

For those of you who don’t know, I have a day job as a mental health professional. One of the interesting things about this career path is that it sometimes feels like there’s a difference between the version of you that acts as a therapist, and the version of you that is just…you.

In other words, while “Therapist Me” is an educated professional who spends a great deal of time encouraging self-care and guiding clients toward healthy coping skills, “Real Me” is a human being who is just as prone to flawed coping mechanisms as everyone else.

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Sometimes, Therapist Me gets into heated arguments with Real Me. Therapist Me is compassionate and understanding with clients, but she’s a bit judgey with Real Me.

On bedtime…

Therapist Me: “You need to go to bed at a decent hour. Sleeping is important for your mental and physical health.”

Real Me: “But I wanna watch another episode of Golden Girls!”

On healthy habits…

Therapist Me: “Go to your yoga class tonight. Sometimes you think you don’t want to, but you always feel better afterward.”

Real Me: “OR………I could just eat Chinese food in my yoga pants. It’s almost the same thing.”

Therapist Me: “No. Yoga will help relax you.”

Real Me: “So will Chinese food.”

Therapist Me: “Will the Chinese food make you feel more limber?”

Real Me: “MAYBE! YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE.”

On feeling frazzled…

Therapist Me: “You seem stressed. Why don’t you use your Calm app?”

Real Me: “Nah. Chocolate.”

Therapist Me: “Amanda…”

Real Me: “What’s that, chocolate? You’re lonely in that dark drawer all by yourself? I have just the solution….”

On navigating work relationships…

Therapist Me: “You encourage clients to advocate for themselves all the time. Go to your supervisor and ask for what you need.”

Real Me: *Makes unintelligible noise of discomfort*

Therapist Me: “Stop it. You are confident and assertive and you can do this!”

Real Me: *Makes panicked face. Slithers out of the chair and onto the ground.*

As much as I’d like to say that Therapist Me usually wins out, the truth is that Therapist Me and Real Me are probably about tied. But sometimes they compromise with each other: I’ll go to my yoga class, and then pick up Chinese food on the way home.

(Or maybe that’s not compromising so much as just canceling each other out.)

Does anyone else feel like the more grownup, rational part of your brain gets into quarrels with the whiny, poor-decision-making part? Which part usually wins out? What are your favorite healthy (or unhealthy) ways to cope with stress?

ALSO – on a side note, you should definitely check out the Calm app. It has lots of soothing scenes and sounds, like waves crashing on the beach, or a crackling fire place. It also has guided meditations – even ones as short as two minutes if you don’t have much time. This thing really does help me get grounded and calm when I’m stressed or anxious. AND IT’S FREE! (except for the fancier stuff, but who needs that).

14 Thoughts I Had While Presenting to a Room Full of Teenagers

Today, my coworker (and fellow cheese-appreciater) and I gave a career presentation to a couple of high school classes. We discussed the education and work experiences we underwent in order to became counselors, as well as what our jobs look like on a day-to-day basis.

It was pretty fun, actually. But there’s a reason I didn’t seek a career where public speaking is more common.

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I get nervous, and then distracted by my own nervousness, and then my brain sort of implodes.  Here are some of the things I was thinking about while speaking to the students:

  1. Literally every kid in here is wearing a t-shirt and comfy pants. I never thought I’d feel so overdressed in jeans. Should I take my pants off to fit in? No, pantslessness in front of minors is probably frowned upon.
  1. What – what is that girl eating? IS SHE EATING PANCAKES? With Nutella on them?!? What kind of magical-ass school is this?
  1. Can I go to school here?
  1. I think I’m using my arms and hands way too much. I’m like an over-caffeinated octopus over here.
  1. Alright, my hands are down now. Wait, no pockets! Where do I put my hands?
  1. I wonder if the students are thinking that my hair looks like a sea anemone today. They’re not wrong, but I still hope they’re not thinking about it.
  1. I just mispronounced a word. Should I correct myself, or keep going? Nah, just keep going, keep going – you’re doing great! Aw shit, you just did it again.
  1. Man, the English language is HARD. How do make sentence?
  1. Oh cool, my coworker and I are both nervously swaying at the same time, in the same direction. I’m sure that doesn’t look crazy at all.
  1. I wonder if other people find it this hard to act like a normal person. I think I’ve used up all my social skills for the day.
  1. Crap, my hands have crept their way into the conversation again. Sneaky hands.
  1. I hope someone asks about my hobbies, so that I have an excuse to tell them about my cheese blog.
  1. Okay, please don’t leave me standing here in awkward silence. Ask SOMETHING!
  1. Oh god, don’t ask THAT. Anything but that.

 

This was one of those experiences that I genuinely enjoyed, and yet am relieved is over. Does anybody else struggle a bit (or a lot) with public speaking? What strategies do you employ for making yourself more comfortable?

 

 

 

 

Which “Friend” Worked the Most? The Answer May Surprise You

It’s a long-running joke about the television show Friends that the six main characters spend more time drinking coffee at Central Perk than they do actually learning a living.

Personally, I think the lack of work is pretty understandable – the show is supposed to be about a group of close buddies and their struggles and triumphs together, and seeing them at their individual jobs doesn’t allow for those fun interactions to take place.

After all, if they worked all the time, when would they get to play football or poker together? Or crowd in on Chandler’s bathtime? When would they tease each other about having a third nipple, or breaking the porch swing? These are the things we want to see.

Although it makes sense to me that the Friends aren’t often shown working, I was still curious about which one works the most. In order to find the answer, I watched all 236 episodes of the show – episodes I have seen dozens and dozens of times before – and combed over each and every scene for any signs of the characters working.

I took meticulous notes. There was a spreadsheet involved.

It was totally worth the effort.

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So what counts as “work”? Obviously, I included any scene where the characters are shown doing their jobs at their actual work places – whether it’s Monica cooking something delicious at a restaurant, or Ross lecturing to a classroom of students. However, for the purposes of my super scientific study, I counted other types of situations as “work” as well:

  •  Odd jobs that are separate from more consistent employment – such as writing restaurant reviews, temping, spraying cologne on unsuspecting store customers, etc.
  • Discussing  the work day – applies when Friends exit the room, saying they’re “headed to work,” or return home and share a work story with the others
  • Work-seeking behaviors – job interviews, auditions, internships, etc
  • Appearances of work – wearing uniforms (such as Monica’s outfit at the 50s-style diner), or dressed professionally, PLUS carrying work-specific props (such as a briefcase or massage table)
  • Miscellaneous work-related events – includes charity functions, conferences, dinners at boss’ homes, formal work parties, etc – the Friends may not have been paid to be at these events, but were probably still expected to be there
  • Performances – seeing a Friend act on television, or perform in public places (where tip money could be made) totally counts. This one’s specific to Joey and Phoebe.

On the other hand, these more ambiguous references to employment did NOT count toward the tally:

  • Talking about work in general terms – “I don’t like my job” or “I have to work that weekend.”
  • Dressed professionally, but not discussing work in any way, nor carrying any props that might suggest they’re headed to (or coming from) work. We see that you’re wearing a nice outfit, but how do we know you were at work, and not some other dressy event?
  • Non-public performances – singing in other Friends’ apartments does not count

Now that we’ve gotten the boring criteria out of the way, it’s time to reveal our winner and hardest worker. Are you ready for this? Drumroll, please…

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Winner: Rachel
It probably comes as a shock that the character known for being a spoiled rich girl (at least in the beginning) is actually seen doing the most work throughout the ten seasons of Friends. There’s something so fitting about this, actually: the woman left a financially-secure lifestyle behind in order to make a stab at independence, and we get to see her gradually progress from waitress, to low-level employee in a fashion company, to merchandising manager at Ralph Lauren. You go, girl.

Admittedly, Rachel probably never won any Employee of the Month awards, as we often see her sitting on the big orange couch when she’s supposed to be waitressing. And then there’s that whole affair-with-her-subordinate thing. And the falsely-accusing-her-boss-of-trying-to-buy-her-baby thing.

Ironically enough though, Rachel is the only character who never really dealt with unemployment on the show – unless you count the day-long gap between getting fired from Ralph Lauren and hired at Louis Vuitton.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 137

Runner up: Joey
When trying to convince Chandler to hire him for a role in a commercial, Joey refers to himself as a “chameleon” – and he is, at least in terms of employment. Despite not working quite as much as Rachel, Joey held by far the most jobs: actor, model, sperm donor extraordinaire. The list goes on. Even his acting jobs ranged in prestige from playing Al Pacino’s butt to playing Dr. Drake Ramoray on Days of Our Lives.

Admirably, Joey carried out ALL of these roles with pride. (And with dishonesty, as he lied quite a bit on his resume.)
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 115

Ross
Despite having the most advanced degree of the group, and once enthusiastically proclaiming that he “can’t get enough dinosaurs,” Ross really isn’t seen working all that much. He technically comes in third place in this list, but his number is far behind that of Rachel and Joey’s. Perhaps all of those weddings and divorces got in the way of getting much work done.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 73

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Chandler
It was a surprise to see Miss Chanandler Bong work so little, considering it’s heavily implied throughout the show that he makes good money as a “transpondster,” and takes his WENUS very seriously. Shockingly enough though, he was the only Friend to go an entire season (the 6th, to be specific) without being seen working at all.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that he truly didn’t work, but we don’t see it taking place, and that’s what counts here. There are plenty of times that Chandler is shown wearing a suit, but with no work story or briefcase to provide supporting evidence, it couldn’t really be included.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 63

Phoebe
Ah, Pheebs. It’s really no shocker that the free spirit is next-to-last in this study. She held consistent jobs as a massage therapist and Central Perk performer, but a lot of the work we see are side jobs, like catering with Monica or temping as a secretary for Chandler. Of course, it can’t be forgotten that she also held a one-day stint as a life-saving telemarketer.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 56

Monica
It’s a bit cringe-worthy when the most competitive person in the group comes in dead last. However, although we don’t see Monica working as much, I’d hesitate to call the woman lazy – she cooks and cleans for everyone, gives the best bad massages, and is always the hostess. In a way, Monica was the stay-at-home mom to the other five. Especially when she made lunchmeat foreskins for Joey.
Total days worked in 10 seasons: 50

 

So, fellow Friends fans, what are your thoughts on this list? Could you BE any more surprised by the winner? Which character’s work record surprised you the least?

Letter to Future Me

I was nominated by Erin at http://bubblesandbeebots.com/ to write a letter to my future self – the February 2017 version of me, if you will. If you’re unfamiliar with Erin’s blog, I highly recommend visiting it, because she’s a great writer and has lots of stories about her adorable, food-loving little children.

My first reaction to this tag was excitement, which moved into slight panic as I couldn’t think of anything to say. Now I’m just feeling happy that I completed it 🙂

Here are the rules:

  1. Tag the letter under “dearfuturemetag”
  2. Write a letter to yourself to read again in a year’s time. You can answer then if you’d like.
  3. Nominate other bloggers. (My nominees are at the end of this post)

Dear Future Me,

First off, congratulations on still being alive! I guess all the quesos you’ve eaten haven’t yet given you a heart attack, so that’s good to know. How many quesos have you tested up until this point, anyway? I wonder if Sazón is still your favorite, or if some other place has taken that top spot.

Second, congratulations on finally being a fully-licensed professional counselor! You’re in the big leagues now, lady! Or, at least, I hope you are: three years of graduate school and two years under supervision were no easy picnic for your mind – or for your wallet. At least you’re no longer eating peanut butter crackers for every meal, simply because they were easy to eat in between clients, or while driving from one place to the next.

Speaking of food, I’m holding out hope that you’ve magically sprouted into a fully-functioning grown-up human woman by now. You do pretty good on a lot of adult tasks: you work full-time and you pay those bills like a frickin’ boss. You even do laundry on a semi-regular basis. Keep up the good work on those fronts!

The problem is, you often come home and have cereal for dinner. Or cubes of ham, straight out of the plastic packaging. Not because you’re out of food, or incapable of cooking something else, but because you just don’t want to.

Let’s try to do a little better at that, shall we?

While we’re wishing for things, I also really hope you’re still doing this blog. Sometimes, you fear that you’ll eventually run out of ideas (or that some sort of technological apocalypse will erase all the blogs from the internet), but you enjoy it so much. You’ve always loved writing, and the blog seems to encompass all the things you loved about being a yearbook editor – playing with fonts and designs, finding relevant pictures, etc. Plus, it’s fun to read all the other funny, amazing, and inspirational blogs out there.

Future me, you should continue to do things that make you feel happy and alive.

Another hope I cling to is that you’ll have finally figured out how to style your own hair. Right now, you only have about five options for hairstyles:

  1. Down and straightened
  2. Down and wavy
  3. Up
  4. Hmm…
  5. ????

…Oh, look at that – guess you only have three styles.

Let’s see, what else might be important to ask you?

Oh I know – do you still have your terrible laptop? The young and modern side of me is crossing my fingers that you’ve embraced new technology, but the nostalgic, easily-impressed side of me will be fascinated if you’re still using a computer that is now 11-years-old.

Enough about me! Let’s talk about you, future me.

If you’ve already forgotten, the February 2016 version of you is in a place where everything feels a bit uncertain. You might be working at a different job now, and maybe even living in a different city. That concept scares 2016 you. You like fresh starts as much as the next guy, but you hate the feeling of “flying by the seat of your pants,” and always have. You want to know where you’re going, and what’s happening, and who’ll be there. You crave the security.

I don’t know what you’re up to now, but wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, I’m sure you’re okay.

Maybe you’ve even mastered something incredible. Maybe now you know how to make a perfect soufflé, or you’ve completed a decathlon, or become mayor.

I know, more than likely, none of those things is true. A year from now seems so far away, and yet it doesn’t seem like a long enough amount of time for me to have enacted any major changes. But the point is, you should remember that the world is your oyster! You can have whatever you want if you work hard enough!

…Except for the decathlon thing. You love cheese and television too much for that to work out.

Sincerely,
Current, 2016, Work-in-Progress, Me

My nominees for this fun tag:
https://myleastfavoritechildtoday.wordpress.com/
http://momsranting.com/
http://wwww.rockandrollsupermom.wordpress.com/

lettertoself

Totally Legitimate Scientific Theory

In college, I took a course in neuropsychology and loved learning about different parts of the brain and their various functions. I learned neat phrases like, “dorsolateral prefrontal cortex” and “anterior cingulate gyrus.” I have only a thin grasp of what either of those things mean, but my ability to insert them in conversation makes me really fun at parties.

One thing I learned is that our good friend The Frontal Lobe, which I like to call “Fro Lo” (okay, this is the first time I’ve ever used that phrase) is responsible for planning, decision-making, memory, and behavior.

Fro Lo helps you put together plans for a Saturday picnic, remember where your house is located, and inhibit your impulse to laugh during funerals. When your friend suggests getting drunk and dancing topless on the roof of your own house, if you respond with, “Nah that’s okay, I’ll just stay in and watch Netflix,” you can thank Fro Lo for doing its job.

Here is my crude interpretation of what the frontal lobe and his lobe-y friends are up to in the brain:

 

brainnnn

Whenever I see diagrams of the brain, I can’t help but think that my brain seems to be divided up in a very different manner. For example, I like to think that I’m pretty well-behaved, and my mind never seems to stop thinking/obsessing, so it seems like my frontal lobe should be slightly larger than normal. To compensate for this change in size, my cerebellum is probably somewhat smaller; this theory checks out because I have little to no balance or coordination (and anyone who has seen me dance or  play sports would agree).

My brainstem is likely the correct size, though, because I feel about averagely talented at things like breathing and blinking.

This theory is totally scientific and completely accurate.

I think my brain would be more truthfully depicted in a pie chart. Let’s go back to my Fro Lo, for example. Ideally, it would contain a neat, organized arrangement of intelligent information, well-planned ideas, and pleasant memories.

Instead, my frontal lobe probably looks something like this:

brainpie

  •  Useless facts = Information that is in no way needed in my daily life, but once struck me as interesting, so it’s in my memory to stay – maybe forever. These facts might be useful for someone, but the point is, they serve no purpose in MY life. I can tell you that women blink more than men, that triskaidekaphobia is the fear of the number thirteen, and that only 5% of babies are born on their actual due date. Want to know the clinical term for Mad Cow Disease? It’s Spongiform Encephalopathy.     These useless facts do come in handy during games like Trivial Pursuit, though. I’ve also used the facts as some sort of bartering mechanism; when people help me do menial tasks that I should be able to handle on my own, I like to “thank” them by informing them that the capital of Uruguay is Montevideo.
  • Song Lyrics = The words to any song that I’ve ever memorized in my entire life. This includes everything from classical music learned throughout seven years of choir to the most excellent of 90s songs (I’m looking at you, Backstreet Boys). If you’re ever in a situation where you urgently need to know the words to Destiny’s Child “Say My Name” or Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” I’m your girl.
  • Quotes from Friends = Let’s just say, I’m a big fan, and leave it at that. Just kidding, I have plenty more to say about it! I own all ten seasons on DVD, and have seen each episode more than I can count, and probably more than is healthy. No matter what topic is being discussed, I can find a relevant quote or plot to rattle off. Remember the “fun fact” about triskaidekaphobia? Straight from Friends. I have never failed a single internet quiz about the show, and I’m fairly certain that’s something to brag about. And if you complain about your overbearing mother, I might just say, “Hahaha, yeah that reminds me of a Friends episode where Monica’s mom is super condescending to her and it makes Monica insane.” (Side note: that’s a scenario that happens in multiple episodes.)
  • Information relevant to my career = This is where knowledge about life span development, dynamics of domestic violence, and mental health diagnoses all reside. You may have noticed that all of the unimportant facts, memorized songs, and sitcom quotes are taking up much more room in my brain than information that is actually helpful and necessary.
  •  Phone numbers to elementary school friends = This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Back in elementary, cell phones barely existed and certainly weren’t given to 10-year-olds, but actual real-life address books weren’t exactly cool either, so everyone just memorized their friends’ numbers. And apparently, my brain has decided that these numbers are more important than other things. Things like conjugating irregular Spanish verbs, or knowing how to do stuff on Excel.

Fortunately, I don’t think I’m the only one whose Fro Lo is arranged a bit differently…

brainpiejt

Now it’s time to ask yourself one of life’s great philosophical questions: what would a pie chart of your frontal lobe look like?