ashleybeingabigkid

My less than graceful life after graduation


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Traveling, Outfits, and the Challenge Continues

I have made a challenge for myself, and although I’m only on day 9, I’ve already faltered a little bit. However, I spend a few moments every day thinking about what I can change for the next day, and I do my best every step of the way.

This week I am on travel for work, which I absolutely love. I love being able to travel, even if I do not get to see much of the city I am in. I get excited anytime I get to meet new people or see another way of life. Plus, there is always delicious foods! It does get in the way of keeping up with a routine, however, so I am trying to take everything as it comes and not stress too much over what I haven’t been able to do. Focusing on this current experience and what I can do is so much more rewarding.

This week, one of my personal challenges was to have an outfit for every day. I am horrible with packing, so I wait until the last minute and then just throw twenty-five different things into a suitcase and hope for the best. This sometimes leads to me having 8 pairs of bathing suit bottoms and no pants… not the best look. However, I was luckier this time. Plus, I was focusing enough to make sure I had pants – this time. I dressed for the first day of work before I got on the plane, but I have assembled the rest of the outfits from what I managed to pack. This left me a little frantic when thinking about what I would wear for the next few days. So I decided to throw everything on the bed, and plan all my outfits. Now, every morning, I already know that I have something dashing to wear. And let me be clear, I am not some fashion-obsessed gal. Sometimes, blue jeans and an old t-shirt are the best that’s going to happen in terms of fashionable. So, I really tried hard to make the pieces I have work with what I brought.

I don’t believe that clothing makes or breaks a person or their personality or their job performance. However, I am new to my position, and I am not clueless. In this society, people first judge you by your appearance, and sometimes it does not matter how you perform, that’s all someone might see. So when it comes to work, and especially when it comes to traveling for work and meeting potential partners or connections, I want to look my best. If I look clean and polished, then people are more likely to take me seriously than if I dressed as if I forgot what a mirror was. So I skim over Pinterest (and when I say skim, I really mean refresh and click through for an embarrassing amount of time) and get some inspiration. Then, I do my best to make an outfit that fits both my body type and what I am doing that day. For full disclosure, this posts serves 3 purposes.

1. to document for future reference cute outfits that I have put together so that I can recreate them in the future when I am less inspired.

2. to help me actually save time and plan my outfits for the next few days

and

3. to possibly serve as inspiration or a starting off point for anyone else who is feeling stuck or uninspired.

(Quick disclaimer: I am not a photographer in this life or the next, so I am still figuring out the best way to take pictures of my outfits. I do my best, hopefully they’ll get better with time. But, for now, this serves its purpose 🙂 )

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Gray pants – Target’s Skinny Career Pants ($27) Black Blazer – H&M Boyfriend Blazer ($10) Purple Top – Target’s Favorite T ($9) Floral Shoes – Charlotte Russe flats ($13) Michael Kors Watch – Michael Kors

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Polka Dot Dress – Target ($20) Red Cardigan – Target Favorite Cardigan ($15) Black Flats – Charlotte Russe ($10)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Blue Button Up – Kohl’s ($15) Gray Pants- Target’s Career Skinny Pants ($27) White Polka Dot Flats – Charlotte Russe ($15) Hot Air Balloon Necklace – Target ($5)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Striped Dress – Target Career Dress ($27) Black Blazer – The Limited Single Clasp Blazer ($30) Dove Necklace – American Eagle ($10) Black Flats – Charlotte Russe ($10)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can probably tell, I am a big fan of Charlotte Russe for shoes, Target, Kohl’s, and The Limited (when they have their 40% sale). If anyone has any favorite stores for affordable work outfits, I’d love to hear!

Happy Dressing! 

Ashley

 
 
 
 
 
 
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Inspiration for Day 1 (120 Days to Happiness)

 

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I came across this today, and it really resonated with me and my personal challenge towards happiness. Part of my mental struggle is that I sometimes overlook things that are beautiful and meaningful because I am too busy looking for something perfect. Being beautiful is a state of mind, and when that’s the state of mind you have, other people can see it and feel it. And I feel like smiling and being beautiful today. Feeling hopeful at the start of Day 1 🙂

While there is a lot of stressful things going on around me, I am trying to stay happy and positive. Luckily, everyone else is out of the office today, so I can relax to some tunes. This is my go-to playlist today Let’s Be Adventurers.

Hope everyone’s having a beautiful day! 

Ashley


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120 Days to Happiness Challenge

So my last post was little bit depressing, but sometimes all I need a bout with self-doubt and unhappiness to motivate me.

My last post really got my brain thinking about what stops me from doing so many things. And the truth is, nothing. Obviously, I cannot cram in 40 hours of activity into my 3-4 free hours a day, but I can take steps to make sure that my free time is spent doing things that will make me feel happy or fulfilled in some way. A thus, I decided to make a challenge for myself. The 120 Days to Happiness Challenge.

The point of this challenge is to help me focus more on the things that I enjoy, to take more control of my time, to rid myself (at least partially) of self-doubt and disappointment, and to try to make myself a happier version of me.

Here are the general guidelines:

1. Make a list of the things you wish you did everyday or more often. (My list included things like write for pleasure, read the news, wake up early enough to enjoy breakfast, play with my pups, have sex, made dinner for my friends and loved one, etc.) And next to each activity write an approximation of how long that activity would take.

Here I found that if I did every single thing on my list every day, I would need to have 9.3 hours of free time every day. Not the case. This helped me to put in perspective how unrealistic some of my expectations truly are. 

2. Make a list of things you wish you did LESS often. (Mine included criticizing myself, checking Facebook and social media, ordered food for delivery or takeout, ignored my pups, etc.) Next to each of these write how much time or money they take up from your daily life.

Here I found that I spend about 2-3 hours and $20 a day doing things that I really don’t even want to be doing. 

3. Make a time log and a time budget. Once mine is perfected, I’ll post it. For the first week, I am just keeping a time log. My time log is simply a few columns in an Excel spreadsheet with the headings: Day, Activity, Time Spent, and Category.

After a week, I will go through and organize it to see where I am spending the most time, and where I have time that I can free up. Then, I will make an actual “Time Budget” to help keep myself on track. 

4. Make a Weekly and Daily Plan. Each week, I have Three Minor Changes (week one’s changes are: read for 30 minutes, wake up early enough to enjoy breakfast, and work out or practice yoga for 20+ minutes). These changes are small things that I can realistically do every day, regardless of how hectic my schedule is. Under my weekly plan, I have the days broken up. Each day then has a basic agenda of what I have to do that day, no matter what, for instance go to work. Then I estimate for each day how much free time (after implementing my 3 weekly changes). Some days, I only have about an hour, but other days I might have 5 or 6 hours. After I know how much time I am working with, I add one or two activities that I enjoy that I can realistically accomplish in my free time, while not completely maxing out my free time.

My hope here is that when I can visualize how much time I have, I won’t feel as horrible if I don’t have time to accomplish every single thing that i FEEL as though I should have done. Plus, my Three Minor Changes give me a minimum of 3 things that I can feel good about doing every day even if I don’t do anything else.Every week, I plan on re-evaluating and making new changes. 

5. Take just a few minutes every day to notice something beautiful or exciting or new or fresh. And reflect on what you have accomplished. Spend time appreciating the things you were able to get done, the things that made you happy and smile during the day or a step closer to a goal you might be.

6. The final, absolute most important guideline: Don’t beat yourself up when you flounder.

As with everything else, I know there will be days that I won’t be able to even do my three minor changes. On those days, I have promised myself not be too hard on myself. And jump back to number five. 

Tomorrow, May 1st, will be my very first day of my challenge. I plan on posting everyday about my follies and victories.

Hakuna Matata

Ashley

 

 

 


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Free Failing

I’m failing. Or, at least, I feel like I’m failing. And I feel like I am failing all of the time.

What’s worse is that I am not sure why I feel this way. I have a job, a house, a car, two completely adorable dogs, a boyfriend, a savings account, a college degree, and a full tummy. But I feel like I am constantly ten steps behind everyone else. I know, I know, I know. I know shouldn’t compare myself to others, that everyone is different, everyone has their own strengths, everyone moves at their own pace, yadda yadda yadda. (Eye roll.) Even though I know these things, I can’t stop myself from comparing. I log into Facebook, and I see my friends who are getting engaged or married, some are having babies, some are moving along incredibly fast in their amazing jobs, some are in fantastic shape, others just have their entire life together. And then… there’s me.

The problem is that I have an imagined up expectations for myself – expectations that I believe other people have for me. I have these impossible standards and these false competitions that make me feel like a failure.

I imagine a perfect version of me everyday. As this person, I wake up early every morning, make myself a wholesome breakfast and leisurely drink my coffee. During which, I read the newspaper and a magazine, and I catch up on some pleasure reading. Then I will get in a nice morning workout. Afterwards, I expect that I will sit down and write something completely brilliant to publish. I will get ready for work, put on some dashing outfit and look like a million bucks. Then I will go to work, enjoy every waking moment of my job, impress my boss, get a raise, and have intelligent and meaningful conversations with everyone I encounter. I’ll leave work, grab another work out. Clean my house, wash-dry-fold-put away all my laundry, make a delicious dinner, take my dogs for a walk, spend quality time with my man-friend, go to bed at a decent hour and get plenty of sleep. Wake up. Repeat.

In reality:

I wake up after snoozing all 4 of my alarms, and I am in a total rush. I go to jump in the shower only to find that one of my pups managed to climb into the bathtub and poop. Yupp. After I clean up that, I grab a shower. A disgusting bug attacks me mid-shower, I jump out screaming. By this point in time, I’m running late. I get no coffee or breakfast. At work, I can’t seem to get anything done, or at least not done right. I eat some greasy, horrible-for-me food for lunch. I mentally plan on working out and cooking dinner after work, but by the time 5 o’clock hits, I’m tired, discouraged, and have no motivation. Instead, I just lay on the couch, watch TV reruns, eat a PB and J sandwich and don’t even touch my laundry or my books or my writing or hit any of my daily goals. I go to bed disappointed in myself because no matter what, I just can’t manage to be the perfect vision of me. Somehow every person I know can do it all, but I can barely do anything.

I try to remind myself that what people put on Facebook and social media is only one part of their lives. No one (other than me) is posting about not hitting their goals or waking up to realize that their dog ate the crotch out of their pants. I try to remind myself that no one, other than my own crazy head, is judging me or expecting me to be Wonder Woman and somehow cram 40 hours worth of activities into a 24 hour day. My life is 10000% less than glamorous, but I try to remind myself how lucky I am. I am lucky that I have my 2 jobs, my two pups, my one boyfriend, my friends, my house, my car, and that I am not failing. I am not floundering. I am still just trying to figure out who I want to be and what I need to do to get there. Its a painfully slow process for me, and I have to remember that it is okay to feel like I am failing because at least that means I have goals and hopes and dreams, something to strive for.

But some days, most days, all my happy thoughts and all the pep talks in the world still make me feel like I am not enough, that maybe I don’t do enough or have enough or try hard enough, most days I feel like I am a child’s first finger painting in a museum of Van Gogh’s and Monet’s.

Ashley

 


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The Complete Ridiculousness of Personal Finances – When You Come From A Poor Family

After months and months of searching, I was extremely lucky to get a big kid job!

To me, this seemed like nothing short of a miracle. I majored in English, which I absolutely loved, but turned out to be less than marketable and/or lucrative job-inducing major. Getting my new job as a Technology Coordinator at a brand new charter school was such a blessing. While, I thought it was the best thing in the world, I learned that with great accomplishments comes greater stress and responsibility.

I grew up in a poor family. I am the first in my family to graduate college and get a steady, reliable, 9-5 job. Everyone is so proud of me. But, when you come from a poor family, you learn a lot about how to pinch pennies and make 10 dollars turn into one to two weeks worth of food. But this frugality also comes with a strange amount of irony.

What you don’t learn when you grow up poor is a harsh, harsh reality of being a big kid.

1. WTF is a savings account?!

In my family, when there was a little extra money – we spent it. We didn’t put in savings for a rainy day. We bought new clothes or a nice TV that we didn’t need. Money literally burns a whole in your wallet. While I am the first for a lot of things in my family, impulse and therapy shopping is one thing that I still clutch to. When I happen to have a little extra money (or sometimes when I don’t), I shop. I shop for clothes that I don’t need and will probably hardly ever wear. I go out to dinner and drinks at pricey places. I spend a fortune on a hair cut I could get at half the cost. The extra money will consume my thoughts until its gone. Its take an inordinate amount of will power and self control to stop myself from blowing through my savings account on a daily basis.

2. Retirement Plans, Health Insurance, and other Salaried Luxuries.

Bless my boss because he truly is a patient man, and luckily he understands where I come from. One day, he hands me some paperwork that has information on prospective retirement plans and health insurance coverage that our school was considering using. He asks me to take a look and give my opinion. I can only imagine the terrified, confused, overwhelmed look in my big, eager white eyes when I said… “I don’t know what any of this means….” Neither of my parents have retirement plans, and I have never had health insurance. I also had never given a second thought to vision or dental insurance, and I definitely hadn’t thought about life insurance. These things were the goodies for people much wealthier than I, I was sure of it. And it wasn’t like I could call and ask my parents for their input. Thankfully, he was able to sit down and explain the basics of these foreign entities to a deer-in-headlights version of me.

3. When to buy the good stuff over the cheap stuff. 

When it came to buying, it was cheapest was best. The only splurges we made were on things that, at the end of the day, were not important. We would buy cheap shoes or appliances, but splurge on a TV or video game systems. I find myself willing to spend an excess amount of money when I see something flashy, but the practical items priced over $50 make me cringe. In reality, I should be spending more on quality business attire or home appliances because they won’t need to be replaced every two years and I will use them regularly for a long period of time. But no one comes over and “oohs” and “aahs” over my fabulous vacuum that I have to use everyday to clean up after my furball pets. They do, however, ooh and aah over my 50” smart TV (that I barely even know how to work).

 

4. If You Ignore Creditors, They Don’t Go Away.

I have very specific memories of my parents telling me to lie to the people who called everyday about whether or not my parents were home. When you are poor, good credit is hardly on the top of the priority list. Instead, my family was more concerned with keeping our electricity on or going to the grocery than paying off the nagging creditors. I grew up not understanding why good credit was important. Instead, I got a nice hard punch in the gut when I went to try and get a car loan. Having someone tell you over and over again that the best car loan you can get comes with a nice 19% interest rate because you have shit for credit is a tough blow. Suddenly, answering those phone calls or living in such a way that I didn’t get those phone calls from creditors seemed much more important.

5.  The Guilt and Embarrassment that comes with actually having money. 

The absolute most ridiculous thing about personal finances when you come from a poor family is the guilt and embarrassment. Not that I feel guilty or embarrassed for graduating school and getting a job and feeling successful. I’ve ended up in a strange limbo. I feel embarrassed and like an outsider among very successful people- people who think it is laughable for someone to not know what a diversified portfolio is or how a person comes to have one. They also do not believe that there are people out there who legitimately do not have health insurance or know where to go when they need a loan. I don’t belong with the super successful, but I don’t feel at home around my family and friends at home.

I feel guilty and embarrassed when I try to talk to my family about personal finances. At 24 (almost 25), I am meeting with a financial adviser to talk about Roth IRAs and a college 529 plan for graduate school.

I am building up my credit so that I can buy a nice house in the next year.

I will be basking in the comfort of knowing that if I get into a terrible accident, I won’t go bankrupt over medical bills. I won’t have to choose between going to the doctor when I’m sick or paying my gas bill because I have health insurance.

I’m giddy over the fact that I am building a savings account for emergencies or unexpected bills like vehicle repairs.

All of these things are fabulous. But I feel guilty and embarrassed because these are things my parents and my brother don’t have. I am “the baby” of the family, but I seem to have the most financial stability. Suddenly, there is barrier between myself and the rest of my family. I don’t want to share with them that I was able to enjoy a wonderful weekend vacation because I had carefully planned and saved. I don’t want to tell them about how much I am able to put away in a savings account for my first home. I feel an unreasonable and inexplicable amount of guilt over my success. It is a ludicrous thing that attempting success in my personal finances makes me feel like a guilty stranger with my own parents.

That, my friends, is ridiculousness.

Ashley

I would love to hear if anyone else out there has had a similar experience!


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DIY: Reusing Candle Holders and The Best Homemade Body Scrub

This is my two-part tutorial.

Part One: Reusing Candle Holder Jars.

Part Two: The Hands-Down-Single-Greatest-Homemade Body Scrub.

First, How to Reuse Candle Holder Jars!

I have a problem with holding onto things long after they have lost their original use. One of those things is basically completely burnt out candle holder jars. Until recently, I had no use for them. However, now that I know how to transform them from useless, dust collecting jars to shiny and new useful jars, my life and my jars have changed.

Lots of the tutorials I have found for getting the wax out of the jars and cleaning them seemed wayyyyyyy too time consuming and intricate. Here is the simple and easiest way I have found for getting those jars clean.

 
diy, candle jar, jar, upcycleStep One: Start with your burnt out candle jar

Step Two: Fill with hot water (my faucet doesn’t get very hot, so I fill it with warm water and microwave for about one minute) and let sit for about 5 minutes.

Step Three: Using a butter knife, scrape along the sides and through the middle. The wax should pop up and float across the top

Step Four: I just throw the content of the jar in the garbage, but if you are hoping to reuse the wax for another craft just dump into a colander. It will catch the wax and you can set it aside.

Step Five: Using warm water and dish soap, just wash the inside of the jar with a sponge until clean. It should be super easy since it’s just the remnants left.

Step Six: Dry and enjoy!

 

I have used my empty jars to hold make up and make up brushes and for holding my quarters for laundry.
I was doing this jar in particular to hold my super awesome body scrub! I needed a jar with a lid that would seal tightly, and this one was perfect.

Now for the body scrub!

I have used tons of different body scrubs from the store, and I have made a variety of different homemade scrubs. This is by far the best one out of all of them, and it only takes three ingredients that you probably already have at home. It gets rid of those annoying bumps that I get on the back of my arms and tops of my thighs, it exfoliates without being rough and scratchy, the coffee grounds help to hide cellulite, and it smells fantastic!!

All you need is:

  • 1 cup coffee grounds
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil

What is also great about making this at home, you can alter the amounts of each ingredient depending on your personal preference of consistency. I like mine to be thick and coarse enough for a deep exfoliation, but viscous enough to not be rough. Feel free to add more or less olive oil until you find the consistency you like the best.

Here is what mine looks like:

diy, body scrub, easy diy, cheap diy

 

And I put it in my new jar and sealed it tightly with the candle’s lid. This way I can keep it in my shower without it getting all watery and ruining the mixture.

Viola!

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That’s all for today! Happy crafting and scrubbing! Any other favorite uses for old candle jars?

Ashley


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Job Scams: A Harsh Reality

Today I had my very first big-girl job interview! I was very excited. The position was in the HR Department of a marketing firm in Indianapolis. I had spent portions of my night beforehand reviewing how to react and respond to those tricky interview questions that interviewers always seem to ask. I reviewed some of the website’s About Us and Mission Statements. Sleep was minimal as I was both nervous and eager.

Then I arrived at the office this morning. There were two other candidates there waiting to interview. When I went into the interview, it seemed like less of an interview and more of my interviewer selling me on the company. I wasn’t asked any of the questions I had prepped for. I think I may have answered two or three actual, open-ended questions – MAYBE. At the end of the interview, my interviewer informed me that she would call everyone she interviewed before the end of the day and arrange for second round interviews.

I got called back, and I was originally excited. However, there was a red-flag that went up for me. I was told that I would be riding around and spending the day shadowing someone. Being alone, in a car, with a stranger, the whole day… that bothered me.

When I got home, I looked a little more closely at the company’s website. The website itself was very nice and impressive. Digging deeper, I noticed that their company “News” section only dated back a few weeks. They also had links to the company’s Facebook and Twitter, both of which only dated back to the beginning of the month.

This was strange because it was not presented as a new company. Instead, it was an expansion out of their other offices from all over the country. If this was a national company, they should have been on social media way before the beginning of August. Upon further investigation, I found that the woman who interviewed me was apparently the company’s President. Since when do company presidents do first-round interviews? On her LinkedIn profile, it stated she had previously worked for CORE Communications, based out of Houston, TX. I then researched that company to find that it was only two years old. I googled “CORE Communications Scam,” and came back with a handful negative and incriminating results. And seeing as I couldn’t find this company on the BBB, FTC, or even in the Houston business pages, I decided to decline my second interview. Surely enough, this was another job scam.

My take-away from today and my advice to those on the job search:

1. According to this article on CNN, it is a 56-1 ratio of scams to legitimate jobs posted on the internet, especially for entry-level and work-at-home jobs. This happens ALL OF THE TIME and I need to be more cautious.

2. Research the company you are interviewing for very closely. If I had researched more carefully, I would have never even wasted my time on the first round of interviews.

3. If it seems too easy, it’s because it’s nonsense. Walk away.  I should have been more concerned by the first round interview process, but I am new to this, so I thought maybe it was always this simple.

4. If at any point in time, you feel uncomfortable or notice some red-flags, it is okay to leave. There is no shame in turning down a position or leaving a company if you feel that you might be part of a larger scam.

5. Don’t be discouraged. There are entire companies out there dedicated to researching and uncovering job scammers. However, there are plenty of legitimate jobs out there. Just like with everything else, sometimes you have to sift through the bullsh– to get to the good stuff.

On the bright side, I looked darn good in my suit 🙂

Happy Hunting!

Ashley

P.S. Anyone else hear of things like this? I would love to hear the stories.