Summary by Statistics: Moving Out of My Childhood Home

I went upstate Tuesday to pack up my belongings since we have to sell my childhood home. You can read a little bit about that here. In that post is a link to another post featuring pictures of me when I was younger…go take a gander!

Along with me were my fiancé (gah, still getting used to that!) Tom, his mom, and his aunt, so we had plenty of man and woman power. Instead of recapping every detail (seeing as so much happened within the span of two days), I figured I could just give you some of the highlights through numbers. Ahh, math.

So here we go with the stats from this trip:

42 total trip hours from the time we left Long Island until we returned

12.5 total hours spent in the truck (Tom’s aunt drove, and I think it’s an F-150 with an extended cab)

13 total hours spent packing, throwing stuff away, and taking things to donate

4 coffees consumed (I’m usually a once a day type gal)

0 meltdowns on my part (Although I did get impatient and/or frustrated at times, there weren’t tears or outbursts)

7 full truck-loads taken to Salvation Army and My Sister’s Closet for donation. These included:

  • 1 little red wagon
  • 4 boxes + 3 garbage bags full of clothes
  • 43ish Barbies
  • 4 garbage bags full of bedding and towels
  • 1 purple body suit and pair of purple tights (these were my mom’s back in the day. Check out the picture of me in them 2 years ago…when I first stumbled upon them)247732_10150192670801526_3595493_n

2 full boxes of food donated to a church pantry

3 overflowing boxes of paper/cardboard to recycle

25 total garbage bags full of garbage/unwanted/old stuff. These included:

  • 2 garbage bags full of old pillows
  • 20ish year old “artwork” from school – we’re talking moldy candies in the shape of an H
  • 10 bowling trophies
  • 2 boxes of Flutie Flakes
  • 1 box of Kelly Krunch

4 friends stopped by to say hi while I was in town (here is a picture of Tom, Courtney, and me at dinner on Tuesday)IMG_0436

1000+ stairs taken (up and down)

7 boxes + 1 large trunk full of stuff I brought back to Long Island

My mom came to the house on her scooter to go through her own stuff; she made a dent but still has plenty of work to do. But for what she got through, we ended up bringing two boxes full of her “keep” stuff to the nursing home.

It was great that she got to get out of the nursing home and see the house after 2+ years. Plus, she finally got to meet my future mother- and aunt-in-law! And eat pizza and donut holes! And see my ring in person!

Overall, this process has been much smoother than I ever expected or anticipated. I still have a few odds and ends that had to be left at my house because the truck was seriously packed to the brim. So another trip upstate is in the cards sometime within the next couple months. I am so thankful for all the well wishes from friends and family, as well as all of the help from Tom and his family.

Above all, I have been thanking God each and every day for all the blessings from the past 8 days (birthday, engagement, new job, and now the move); honestly, it’s all Him. I mean, I got to end the trip with a beautiful and coveted Geneseo sunset. What more could I have asked for?

Geneseo sunset

Well, maybe an escalator or elevator in my house. But I digress.

Saying Goodbye?

Mom's desk...still in the same spot today.I got some crushing news this weekend from my mom.

“I’m selling the house,” she told me.

Cue heart sinking, gut twisting, jaw dropping, eyes widening, so on and so forth.

I don’t want to write too much about it since I already wrote a post about my childhood home. We had a conversation about the house 3 weeks ago and it had been settled that she would keep it until I was certain that I had a place to go after graduating this December. But things change, government agencies suck, and here we are getting the proverbial rug ripped out from under us. I have been slowly preparing myself mentally and emotionally for this, but I still wasn’t and still am not 100% ready.

Although things are not set in stone as of right now (Mom’s speaking with a lawyer this week to see if there are any other options) I was hoping to get some ideas about having an estate sale, packing stuff, storing stuff, etc. Being over 300 miles from home, it will take a lot of prep work to organize an estate sale, so if anyone has any suggestions please share them. I’m not sure if getting some sort of estate sale service is worth it, but I’m open to learning more about them.

Also, since I currently live in a dorm room, ideas about storage spaces would be great appreciated. This will probably be happening within the next 4 weeks (before the fall semester starts), so I’m going to be scouring (read: frantically looking) for thoughts and ideas.

Be Positive? Challenge Accepted.

I’ve decided to make a promise to myself and the people around me. I want to be a more positive person. Now, hear me out because this is part enlightening commitment, part self-doubt-inflicted rant.

Thumbs Up

Get ready for a mathematical representation of my dilemma:

Picture a number line; you have zero in the middle, negative numbers to the left, and positive numbers to the right. Well, boys and girls, adding negative to anything positive brings you closer to zero. You will eventually get to zero (no, zero is not asymptotic in this analogy) and you only become more negative from there. At this point, I feel as though I’ve passed zero (and no, you don’t collect $200 when this happens) and am continuing down the line.Right or Left?

My problem (at the moment) stems from the fact that I’m really unsure of what I want to do in life after graduate school. I realize that I am only 23 so I don’t need to have my life planned out to a T. I mean, I wake up and have no idea what I want to wear most mornings, and it usually works out just fine. But, come on, this is my life we’re talking about. Meaning, like, until I die. It’s not a debate between an everyday T-shirt and a cute summer-y top.

While browsing jobs online, I find ones that sound intriguing. And, hey, look at that! I even meet the basic qualifications! But then I start asking myself questions that a potential employer might ask. “What sets you apart from other candidates?” “What one word best describes what you have to offer our company?” “Why do you think you would be better qualified for this position?”

Essentially, I start asking myself, “What makes you think you’re so special that you would be able to perform this job better than anyone else?

And it’s not in a polite tone, either. Go ahead, reread that previous statement in the meanest, most patronizing way. Got it? Yeah, I can get pretty rude to myself sometimes.

So, naturally, since I try to stay away from rude and condescending people, I decide to walk away from this uncomfortable situation.What's wrong with me?

Well, there goes another job opportunity that I didn’t even press the “Apply Now!” button for.

Now reflecting on these repetitive situations, there is a common denominator.

No, it’s not the type of job I applied (or almost applied) for.

Yes, on paper I meet the basic requirements for education.

And no, I didn’t miss the application deadline.

The common denominator, the greatest obstacle, the one thing that keeps me from searching and applying for jobs is ME. That scoundrel Holliday (that’s me Holliday. I’m referring to myself when I say Holliday) makes me feel like complete poo every single time I open my internet browser and start searching for potential jobs.

I usually start my searches with an open mind, freshly pumped up after a pep-talk (usually not from myself) about how smart and great I am. I look for jobs in math – both teaching and non-teaching – and might find a few that seem interesting at first. There are even some that I click just because I don’t know what the heck they entail. I might narrow it down to a couple that I would actually be interested in applying for, so I get my resume and cover letter ready to upload.

I'm ready!

And then I reread the qualifications:

Two years experience a must? How am I supposed to get said experience if everyone requires said experience?

Must be a good communicator? Shoot, my mom tells me I mumble a lot.

Leadership experience a plus? I mean, I was usually the first of my suite mates ready for dinner in college, and therefore the first of us in line.

Honors, awards, and certificates? I still have my diploma from kindergarten, does that count?

You know nothing.

Now, all joking aside, getting this far in life and being in graduate school for mathematics education should say something, right? But no matter how qualified I may be I always find faults in myself that start pushing me away from submitting my required documents and information.

No, I wasn’t the president, vice president, or even a back-up treasurer in any groups in high school or college. I worked from my senior year of high school through my four years of undergraduate, so I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get super involved in clubs and intramural sports. My mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when I was nine, so I did a lot of growing up before I was a teenager. Does that count as leadership?!Going mental.

And see, that’s not something you put on a resume. And I wouldn’t say anything like that during an interview. So, aside from my resume, my application would seem to be very sparse. So then what’s the point of applying since they’ll probably have fifty applicants who are much more qualified?!

And that’s how it ends. I exit out of my browser tabs of potential jobs and go on Facebook or YouTube, stewing for the rest of the day/night. I dwell on my employment inadequacies until another week passes without any progress on figuring out what I would like to do with my life and my Masters degree I will earn in December. And I gotta tell you, it’s annoying, exhausting, and ridiculous.Exhausted.

I realize how ridiculous it is. If someone else were going through this problem, I would assure and reassure them of their positive attributes and remind them of their experience and all that jazz. I would be more than happy to pump up my friends if it means they’ll apply to a job they want. But do this for myself? Unheard of!

Thankfully I have friends and family who constantly boost me up. I hear more positive stuff from them and yet I’m more willing to listen to all of the negative garbage from myself. I am the outlier. And in statistics, we don’t consider the outliers to be helpful in finding trends or making relevant conclusions. Boom. Math application.

So here’s a pact to myself. I will only say positive things about myself for the next week. If some negative comment or putdown comes to my mind or lips about myself, I will write it down and try to figure out two positive reasons that it is wrong. I will do my best to follow these rules when applying to jobs as well because I am sick of talking myself out of potentially awesome opportunities.

Positive words

And my goal is not to become arrogant or conceited, but positive and uplifting. I think that if my positivity starts with myself it will be so much easier to be positive for others. If you’d like to join me in this challenge, please feel free! Here’s to positive thoughts. Cheers.

Jealousy and FOMO (featuring GIFs)

I’ve been pretty jealous lately. And I know I shouldn’t be. But I have been. It could just be that I’m tired (that tends to do screwy stuff to my thoughts) or that I’m a female with emotions. I try my hardest to let things go that cause these feelings, but it’s not easy.

Plus, with the invention of Facebook and other social media, I think avoiding jealousy has become even more difficult. I can’t go a day checking my newsfeed (about 100 times) without seeing new pictures of proposals, engagement rings, weddings, baby bumps, and baby pictures. Then there are all the statuses to accompany new jobs, new homeowners, and mushy couples declaring their love for each other…just all around happy people enjoying happy things taking place in their happy lives. And I get jealous.

Well, now that I sound like a complete crank, let me just say that I am in no way complaining about my life. I understand that this is most definitely a first world problem and I have no reason to be jealous when there are starving people in China.

But let us, just for a second, put that aside and talk a little about FOMO. A couple months back, I wrote a post about FOMO, or the Fear Of Missing Out. Basically, in this day and age, we have so many issues involving commitment and “doing stuff” because we always feel like there might be something better going on. We don’t want to lose out on the possible experiences we could have; but if we’re already committed to going to pll gifthat lunch date or that party on Saturday, what could we be missing out on? If I take that full-time job, what if something great comes along but I want both?

Take it from me, I should be in FOMOA (FOMO Anonymous) because I constantly crave doing things. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a night here and there to just relax and watch 10 episodes of Pretty Little Liars or Revenge. But after that night, I’m over it. I need to be doing something. I feel useless and lazy without a task that needs to be completed. When I went home 2 weeks ago, I had almost every minute booked before I even bought my bus tickets.

Even before I came to New York City and was working multiple jobs at a time, I still felt as though I should be doing more. I wanted more time with friends. I wanted more hours at work. Now this may be due mostly to the fact that I was living in my house alone, so I was constantly going stir-crazy, but I digress.

And now I’m in NYC and feel as though I have not done nearly as much as I should have done in the first 5 months. Now granted, I have gone to a hockey game and a concert and a lot of my time has been devoted to school. I’ve eaten at a few restaurants and have found some good places to run. However, I have only gone to one museum, and it was for a class project. I avoid finding awesome places to eat because I don’t have money to blow on wonderful food, so instead I buy a loaf of bread and make PB and Nutella sandwiches all day, er’ryday.

Touristy stuff is expensive and shopping costs money. On top of that, I am already taking out huge loans for my Brand-name education. I do not have a consistent income and I feel completely lost as to what on earth my future holds – what do I want to do with my life? Will I even make it in teaching? Do I have what it takes?

And then I get on Facebook and see all of these posts and photos of friends and family who seem to have their lives together. They are happy and life is just working out for them. They are buying cars and houses and getting married and progressing in life.

I understand they too have encountered roadblocks, potholes, dead ends, and whatever other traffic paraphernalia that can be applied to life’s trials. But you don’t see that on Facebook. And why would you? Other than those annoying people who post their every negative emotion (sometimes accompanied by pictures of teary eyes in an aerial MySpace-esque picture…*unsubscribe*), pictures are generally happy.

We want to show off the awesome time we had at a bonfire with friends. We want people to envy our newly toned bodies, or the fact that we attended that off-the-wall party this past weekend, or that we got to travel to an exotic place. So, then, is the point of Facebook and other social media outlets to make each other jealous? Other than the grandparents and other relatives who just want to keep up with their growing and dispersed families, isn’t it all just a game to show how important and awesome we are?

We hesitate to unfriend people because then we will lower our “coolness stats”, and therefore seem less awesome. So then we wonder who would want to be our friend in real life? The fight between J.Biebs and Lady Gaga for most Twitter followers continues (btw, J.B. boasts 40,250,153, while Gaga only has 38,115,718). The list goes on and on with any social media site you are on.

So how do we overcome this pressure to look awesome, like our life is completely solid and we know what we’re doing? I guess one option is to disengage from all social media sites until you feel restored of your self-confidence. And I’m serious about this one. If it is honestly hurting your self-worth that much, take a break. Stop obsessing over everyone else’s life and go make your life awesome…and then come back and post that stuff on Facebook to make everyone super jealous!

I’ve recently been told the secret is to “fake it til you make it”. Everyone has heard this old adage and I guess you could make that work for you. But don’t you think that’s pretty much lying to everyone, including yourself? I mean, listen, if you have the confidence to just B.S. your way through things, great. Good for you. If it gets you where you want, cool. But I think it could create sticky situations because you’re basically creating a false-self. Maybe it’s a better self, and maybe that’s the boost you need. But not all of us are built for that.

I’m not a good liar. I suck at lying and deceiving people because I hate being lied to and deceived by people myself. It makes me uncomfortable. And since I blush pretty easily, being uncomfortable is super obvious with my pale skin. Instead, I do my best, I try to be as true to myself as possible, and hope it works out. I hope and pray that people might just like me for me, even for just a tiny reason.

But I think what people need (or maybe just what I need) are better ways to improve self-confidence without having to resort to shutting out the world or lying our way through. I want to be the best person I can possibly be (and believe it!) without constantly feeling the need to compare myself to all of those happy people I see on my computer screen. As jealous as I am of them, I am totally happy and it gives me hope that maybe I will be like that one day. But it bugs me that I can’t simply be happy for them, and that there has to be that dichotomy between joy and envy.

So anyways, what sorts of strategies do you use to pump yourself up? How do you control your jealousy and self-consciousness in order to be yourself? Friends? Family? Music? Talking yourself up in a mirror? In the mean time, get it girl (or guy).

Making Decisions Through Collaboration

I have recently realized how important and beneficial collaboration and discussion can be. I’ve read numerous studies and research papers that support the idea of student collaboration and working with others as valuable. I am in no way saying that I never asked for help or for opinions before; “How does this look?” and “What do you think?” were a frequent part of my vocabulary. However, these questions usually did not require much more than a yes or no answer.

Even in school, growing up, I was very content on doing assignments alone and making decisions by myself. And forget going to professors’ office hours during college; until my senior year of undergrad, I never met with classmates or teachers outside of class unless it was for a group project or a mandatory meeting. I love hanging out with people and talking, but when it comes to life decisions, I was always one to try and fare it alone.

This decision affects no one but me, so I need to be able to figure it out alone. I won’t always have close friends or family to help me through these situations, so I need to be able to talk myself through the pros and cons of every decision.

I always felt like no one understood my situation so they couldn’t possibly give me sound advice. On top of that, everyone else has their own problems and lives to deal with; why should I burden them with my problems and my life? So I simply kept my mental battles inside and didn’t reach out to others for help. I actually have documentation of this: I have about 7 journals filled with my internal battles; some that I still have not shared with anyone. I was even hesitant to ask my mom for advice many times because I didn’t want to be the one who needs her mommy to make all her decisions for her; it’s like having her cut up my food into bite-sized pieces.

Realizing that people do actually care and want to help was eye opening.

Through my friends and classmates in undergrad and grad school, I have realized how truly beneficial talking things out can be; doing this is helpful not only for school assignments but also for life decisions. It’s so easy to get stuck in one point of view (your own) and see no way other than that…unless you talk to others. Even saying your problem out loud can open your ears and eyes to a whole new perspective that you may not have realized otherwise.

And I’ve learned that discussing movies and books is a thing that takes place outside of clubs; like, you don’t simply watch a movie and deal with it internally or talk about how hot the actors/actress were or how cool the action scenes were. Actually discussing the plots and characters in-depth as if they were real is something that I never took part in. It has really allowed me to better understand and think about books, characters, television shows, etc. How has it taken me so long to do this?

And as much as we hate admitting it, our parents and other significant adults in our lives know a thing or two about life; they’ve been around a bit longer than we have and can teach us a lot. As long as we’re willing to listen…

So to all of you whom I have confided life-altering decision-making problems – thank you. Huge thanks to my mom for putting up with my moodiness because I didn’t want to tell her stuff but wanted to all at the same time. Without your help, I probably would not be where I am today. I am still working on being more open (within reason, obviously) and less prideful about my problems and internal struggles, so bear with me.

How do you go about making difficult decisions? Do you write it all out pro/con style? In a diary? Magic 8 Ball? Do you have a best friend that you share anything and everything with? Let me know, I would love to hear how you cope!

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” OR Happy Birthday to me!

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. –Ephesians 2:8-9

5

This past Saturday, April 27, was the five-year anniversary of my being saved. I found myself thinking a lot that day about how things change in five years; how much we grow (physically, emotionally, mentally), how many decisions we make (whether right or wrong), the people that come and go. I think it is important to reflect on our lives often, not just to reminisce, wish for the past, or dwell on regrets, but to realize how far we have come in our lives and all the events and people that God has placed in our paths along the way.

 April 26, 2008, I was in a car accident (ironically on my way to an event at church) that I came away with just some scrapes and bruises. I don’t know if I have any pictures of my car anymore – it was considered totaled after it flipped over, both of us upside down on the side of a country road. I rounded the curve too close to the outside, hit some gravel and overcorrected, then swerved violently before finally flipping over and landing upside down. My stomach still drops when cars make swerving motions, and I still feel anxious when I hear the sound of screeching tires. I called my mom sobbing because I didn’t know who else to call; she has Multiple Sclerosis, so there wasn’t much she could do for me other than making some more phone calls and worrying about me. Real smooth, Holliday. Real smooth.

The next 20 minutes were such a blur, but the people that I encountered are still pretty clear. A man drove by the scene shortly after and called 911 for me; I remember he had a verse of scripture on his shirt. I had been following my friends’ family so when they realized I was no longer behind them they came back for me; their hugs were so comforting at that moment. The police officer in the ambulance told me that God had a bigger plan for me that day. God certainly provided me with comforting people that day. How else could it be explained?

Later that day, my boyfriend at the time had asked me, “If things had turned out different [AKA if you had not made it out of this alive], do you know where you would be right now?” I had been attending church regularly for the past year. I volunteered for church events. Heck, I had been on my way to bond with a group of women from the church to make soup! I had never done drugs, I didn’t drink, I didn’t swear; I was a good person. But somehow I knew that these things weren’t enough.

 So the following day, Sunday, I walked into Pastor’s office and prayed to God to save me and take hold of my life. I was baptized a couple months later; my testimony verse is Romans 5: 3-5, which says

More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Over the past five years, I have stumbled. I have looked to God for selfish reasons. I have tried doing things my own way. I have been impatient. But just as well, despite all of these things, God has never ceased to bless me. No matter how many times I fall, God has never failed to pick me back up. He has thrown things in my path that, at times, seemed insurmountable. But He has also blessed me immeasurably.

Five years ago today, if you asked me where I would be in five years, I would have never guessed where my life is today. I never would have thought I would get accepted into SUNY Geneseo, get involved with InterVarsity, meet so many wonderful, amazing people, and receive my Bachelors degree. I would never have guessed I would meet and fall for a tall, red-haired guy named Tom at a church event. Who knew I would be accepted into Teachers College, Columbia University, and move to New York City?

There are so many things that I never would have imagined for my life. But God is funny in that way; we think we know what we want, we think we know what is best for us, but God knows so much more and has so much more planned for us. Like Isaiah 55:8-9 says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

 These past five years have shown my how much deeper my testimony is; in the beginning, it was because I was afraid of dying and going to Hell. I realize that I was saved even though my reasoning may have been pretty shallow – I mean, being saved is being saved, we shouldn’t feel the need to compare our testimony with others.  Tim Hawkins is a Christian comedian and he has a short skit that addresses this need to compare testimonies and the desire to have a “good” testimony (watch it here). I have grown to realize that my whole life is a testimony to God; He has gotten me through pretty crappy stuff, sometimes without my consciously realizing it.

Who knows where I’ll be in five years? I sure as heck don’t! And I don’t really feel like limiting myself to who/what/where I think I’ll be in five years. Whatever I think, God’s plan is so much better than I could even imagine. Cheers, God. Here’s to another five.