Breaking that Funky Vacation Brain Curse

It’s driving you crazy? It’s driving me crazy. We are all coo-coo for cocoa puffs. Just when we get back from one vacation, we are 100% ready for another one. It’s not that we weren’t grateful for the first. Trust me. We needed that time.

But we weren’t ready to come back. Sunday evening was a nightmare filled with dread of the Monday morning to follow. Then Monday morning came and we cried a little into our pillows when our loathsome alarm clocks rang, reminding us it was time to wake up and be an adult.

“Whyyyy?!!” we moaned. And after mumbling “I hate my life” a few times, we dragged ourselves out of bed, got ready, and got ourselves to work.

And then we were okay. Being back at work actually wasn’t nearly as bad as we made it out to be.

Then three weeks pass by…

Vacation brain funk returns with a vengeance. We watch the clock like it’s our job. But it’s not. This is a curse. And we hate it. Everyone who says “welcome to the real world” should get seriously vicious side-eye.

I mean, who can blame us?

After 20 or so years of being in school (and enjoying long summer breaks), having to adjust to this new lifestyle is a serious struggle.

I won’t say to you, “Welcome to the real world!” But I will say this: you’re not doing yourself any favors by staring at the clock and obsessing over how little PTO per year you’ll get for the next 40+ years.

If you don’t want to be a vacation brained, clock obsessing maniac for the rest of your life, you need to do this:

Make the most of your daily and weekly free time.

 If you have frequent, routine and non-routine things to look forward to, you’ll feel better about the present. Life won’t be so mundane anymore, and you won’t feel like you are living for the next vacation.

Having positive routines in your daily life means that no matter what, you’ve got something good going for you and something to fall back on if your other plans fall through. Some consistency is good.

Daily routines that make me happy:

  • Working out
  • Chatting with bae & friends
  • Blogging
  • Catching up on TV
  • Eating cookies
  • Reading at night before bed

Semi-routines:

  • Family & friend nights (movies, games, campfires and snacks)
  • Long distance book club meetings

The trick, especially with non-routine things, is to keep a calendar and write down the things you want to do, including times, prices, and addresses. You’re more likely to go if you have reminders and the necessary info at your fingertips.

Non-routines to shake things up:

  • BBQs and parties
  • Bike trips
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Camping
  • Visiting museums & attending cultural events
  • Road trips to visit faraway friends
  • Homemade brunch w/ friends
  • Using a pogo stick to smash beer cans with a younger sibling (because why not)

Whether you want to plan some fun for just yourself or with friends, the event section of your local newspaper (in print or online) is a great place to start looking for ideas. Businesses, organizations, and groups in your area submit to it, so you can bet it’s pretty thorough!

Seriously. Don’t let the daily grind get you down. If you find that you haven’t done something non-routine in a few weeks, stop what you are doing and start planning!

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Long Distance Relationships: Kiss of Death?

“5 Ways A Long-Distance Relationship Can Make Your Love Stronger” is an interesting article about Long Distance Relationships (LDRs) by Elite Daily. Seeing as I’m currently in one, I’d like respond to it in someway. I even printed the article out. 

“Is it absence makes the heart grow fonder, or out of sight, out of mind, that’s correct?”

“…most Millennials seem to think an LDR is a relationship’s kiss of death.”

Stay tuned for Staying Sane When Bae Is Away.

Curse of the Vacation Brain Funk

Article content & image from blog.buzzanza.com

Article content & image from blog.buzzanza.com

Vacation brain is when you are completely checked out from all the world’s realities. You are trying really, really hard to be an adult, but you just can’t and it puts you in a weird funk. All you want from life at the moment is to get out of town and enjoy a nice, long vacation.

And if you’re a post-grad, you think about how much you miss having whole summers off when you were still in school. And you are haunted by the thought: how can I do this for the next 40+ years?!!!

When I’m in a moderate vacation brain funk, I can still manage to do all the necessary adult things I need to do – go to work, pay the bills, manage my finances, write for my blog, etc. – but I lack inspiration and motivation to stay on my “A” game.

After a while, my brain gets tired of talking itself into doing every single adult thing it needs me to do. At this stage, reading a single email is a chore and a half.

My first summer out of school actually wasn’t bad. In fact, it was perfect. I had a part-time job at a retail store and six months before my student loans would go into repayment. I worked just enough to not get bored but had enough free-time to feel like I still had a summer.

But summer this year is different. I’ve had vacation brain funk real bad. And even after going on vacation for a week earlier this month, I still can’t quite shake it. But I am recovering. Albeit very slowly.

In only a matter of a year, my summer-time mental state has completely changed. So what’s different? A few things:

  1. Didn’t go back to school in the fall
  2. Now working a full-time job
  3. Have more adult responsibilities
    1. Student loans
    2. Car loan repayment, insurance, maintenance, gas, etc.
  4. Have been in a long distance relationship for over a year

While I’m in a good enough place now to get me through this week, and the next, and maybe the one after that, within two months, I know I’m going to get hard-core vacation brain again.

While my full-time job can be stressful, it’s not that stressful; I’m not currently worried about financials and adult life isn’t freaking me out too badly. So what’s the problem?

We all have our reasons; ultimately, it’s the weight of all our responsibilities. While that does affect me, too, the primary reason for my vacation brain funk is this:

Vacation time off = seeing bae.

I really don’t take time off for any other reason.

With only 15 days of PTO a year, I don’t have a lot of time to go see bae. Since graduating from college, we’ve gone from being 0-1 miles away to 800+. It’s been quite an adjustment (I actually haven’t adjusted).

We want to move in together, but it just isn’t in the cards yet. I think having bae around will break my curse of vacation brain funk. Or at least, it won’t hit me quite so quickly. Until then, my time-off is gold to me.

But whatever your reasons are for being in a vacation brain funk, there is hope for you yet!

Next Up: Breaking that Funky Vacation Brain Curse

Article originally on Buzzanza

Can I Put “Squirrel Herder” On My Resume?

Chasing Squirrels

Article & image orignially on blog.buzzanza.com

Work is usually predictable. Every day, I sit at my desk writing op-eds, creating media lists and pitching story ideas to journalists for clients. So lots of typing, staring at a computer screen and talking on the phone. I can pretty much expect this every day I go into the office.

One day, my boss goes out for a lunch meeting – nothing unusual there. He, his wife and I work from their office at home, so he every time he has a meeting, he has to leave about a half an hour early to get into town.

About an hour passes and I go downstairs to their kitchen to heat up my own lunch. I’ve got my little Banquet chicken pot pie in one hand and the fork I brought from home in the other. As I reach the bottom of the stairs and turn to make the left into their kitchen, I notice a white and orange cat laying on their dining room floor.

I pause. And look at the cat. It looks at me, totally looking like it belongs. Naturally, as a lover of all furry creatures, I consider going over to pet it. And innocently enough, I think, “Hmm. That’s funny. The boss didn’t tell me he got a cat.”

But I smile and brush it off. Probably just slipped his mind.

So I take a tentative step towards the cat – I didn’t want to scare it away. I also didn’t want to walk in on my boss’s wife, who sometimes works in the dining room. Oh hey, hi, sorry. I don’t normally wander through the rooms of your house. Just trying to pet the new cat. [Cue awkward, nervous laugh.]

Then a brown, bushy tailed creature zips by. And the cat gets up to chase after it.

My jaw drops.

At first, I am in denial about the whole thing. There is just no possible way in hell that I actually saw a squirrel run through my boss’s house. I must have been delirious and in dire need of a cup of coffee. But…

The cat saw it, too. I didn’t imagine that.

Armed with nothing but my chicken pot pie and fork, I tiptoe into the dining room. I don’t hear any animal noises, but I’m still afraid I’m gonna walk in on a vicious fight.

The cat is flicking its tail back n’ forth in a I’m-winding-up-my predatory-butt-to-come-eat-you kind of way.

And the squirrel is making scary come-at-me-bro noises. And I’m like…

WHY ARE THERE WOODLAND CREATURES IN MY BOSS’S HOUSE?!!

Backing away, a little bit in shock, I went to go find my boss’s wife and break the news to her.

Luckily, I found her pretty quickly out on the back patio. Her back was to me and she was typing away on her laptop. I opened the door and said her name timidly.

“Yes?” she replies, almost a little sternly. I’ve obviously interrupted her.

“Did you know there’s a cat and a squirrel in your house?”

She whips around. “WHAT?!!!”

“Yeah…They’re in the dining room.”

It’s not every day that you can say you chased a squirrel out of your boss’s house. And a cat. Yeah, the cat didn’t belong either. Both wandered in when the gardener left the basement door open.

With a little bit of team work and wicked cowgirl herding skills, my boss’s wife and I got both animals out of the house. Everyone, humans included, escaped the situation unscathed.

My boss was pretty amused to hear about it, too, when he got back from his lunch meeting. For a moment, I considered asking him, Can I put “Squirrel Herder” on my resume?

Article originally on Buzzanza.

Perks of Being a Pseudo-Adult

eating cookies for dinner

Article & feature image originally on blog.buzzanza.com

I don’t always act like a child, but when I do, it’s usually because I need a break from being an adult. And let’s be real. The transition into full-blown adulthood is just that – a transition. It doesn’t happen all at once.

Nor do I think it should – you’ll get whiplash if you try.

After graduating from college, the world seems to expect us to instantaneously become high-functioning, financially independent adults. But I’m telling you that going from young-adult to adult is more of a gradual process.

It’s true. We all have to grow-up sometime. And we start doing it in high school (hopefully) by getting our first jobs, self-motivating ourselves to participate in extracurriculars, earning decent grades, volunteering, preparing for college, etc. Then in college we take on more responsibility, push ourselves harder academically and work towards giving ourselves options after graduation.

But even with all this preparation, 20-something post-grads usually aren’t 100% ready to become full-fledged adults. Sure we should be able to start making smart life, career, and financial decisions, but we can’t be expected to get it right all the time. Or to achieve it all at once. But we’ll get there.

We’re just going to really enjoy the transition in the meantime.

That leads me to the #1 perk of being a pseudo-adult (it encompasses a lot of little perks):

The freedom to behave like a child.

Your parents probably got in the way for most of your kiddy pursuits of happiness. But no more!

Now, you might be thinking, “I can’t get away with the stuff I did as a kid.” Or “Dude, it’s time to grow-up. What are you talking about being a kid for?”

Ok. Yeah, yeah. But don’t you do some or all of these things?

  1. Go to bed whenever the hell you want. 8:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m., 12:00…5:00 a.m. Whoops.
  2. Stay out late. No curfew.
  3. Or never come home. Work night sleep-overs!
  4. Binge watch TV. If you don’t want to go outside, Mom can’t tell you to go outside. And who has time for outside when you are marathoning an entire TV show series?
  5. Eat cookies for dinner. Make dinner? Or eat cookies?
  6. Make airplane noises for no reason. Maybe you don’t do this. But I’m a little guilty of this one. And I don’t actually get away with it. To say I only use it as a surprise tactic on the rugby pitch…might be a lie.
  7. PJs all day. Or underwear. Or spontaneous nakedness.
  8. Have all the toys you want, Pt. 1. No one can tell you “no,” just your bank account.
  9. Have all the toys you want, Pt. 2. When you forget that you and your friends went through a it’s-uncool-to-have-stuffed-animals-and-play-with-various-other-“kiddy”-toys phase. Yeah…I was in the attic and did this one day. And since I don’t actually have a smart phone, I went on Photoshop afterwards to make this picture sorta look like a Snapchat.

Fossil Fuels

I also can’t leave out the time my brother and I spent an entire Sunday evening crushing beer cans with a Pogo stick. Note: we weren’t using it as a tool…it was the vehicle for our can-crushing destruction.

Ultimately being an adult is about taking on responsibility and being accountable for it. And despite what you might think, there is still some wiggle room for fun times and childish revelry.  But only as long as you don’t compromise or neglect said responsibilities and accountability.

As you get older, you might even find that there are just some things you don’t do, even though you can. I guess that’s the real test. Can you manage not eating cookies for dinner?

Article originally found on Buzzanza.

Cookies Before Bed

WIN_20150714_085235

Not my fav, but still good

When you give a Desiree a cookie, she eats at least ten more. Even before bed, if the urge calls for it, despite being admonished for it by Mom in the past.

You can take the adult out of childhood but you can’t take the child out of the adult. Ok, you can.

But when it comes to cookies (namely chunky chocolate Chips Ahoy!), I’m as impulsive as a child. All semblances of adult-like restraint fly out the window. I’ll eat them whenever, wherever. Because a Desiree without a cookie is a sad Desiree.

And if that means I can’t fall asleep, well…I guess that means I have time to eat more cookies then.

And waste time on Facebook.

And look at stuff like this…

Seize the Cookies

As heartfelt and deep and emotional as this is, the first thought that came to me was:

“More reason to eat cookies NOW!”

Carpe diem. Seize the day.

AND THE COOKIES.

When you are a recent post-grad transitioning into the scary realm of “adulthood,” there are certain indulgences from childhood and your teenage years that you hold onto for comfort – to ease into and, in some ways, “cope” with the transition, so to speak. I suppose eating cookies at inappropriate times of the day (or night) is my coping mechanism.

It’s a relatively harmless guilty pleasure. When coping with post-grad life, I’d definitely stick to those.

So if you were a menace as a child, who quite enjoyed stomping on ants outside for sport (no matter how pleasantly nostalgic it makes you feel), please harness your inner-adult and leave the poor creatures alone.

My enjoyment of cookies, as you will see, is sometimes stress-related. But not always. My brain seems to think that almost everything is a reason to eat a cookie:

Sunrise is too beautiful for words? Eat a cookie.

Worried about work? Definitely eat a cookie.

Can’t adult today? Eat a cookie…maybe two.

Just paid off your credit card bill? Eatz das cookies.

Sad because you are in a LDR and miss your significant other? Eat a box of cookies.

Latest Terminator movie just came out, you think it’ll be bad but want to see it anyways? Bring as many packages of cookies you think you can sneak into the theater.

It’s 11:00 at night, you’ve brushed your teeth and have a spontaneous craving for sugar? Eat ALL the cookies.

This is what a breakfast cookie looks like

This is what a breakfast cookie looks like.

There really is no stopping me. The child still left in me must be appeased with cookies. As biased as I most certainly am, I think us post-grads need a few childish indulgences to keep us going when reality hits.

But despite our inevitable full transition into adulthood (I’ll let you know what that’s like when I get there), I suspect there will always be a little bit of a childish spirit in me.

Inspiration is a Fickle Fiend

Big Red

When inspiration hits and you don’t have conventional paper

It’s a wonderful feeling, inspiration. Those little gifts from your brain that turn into brilliant ideas and creative works. The stuff that really gets your brain ink going. Whether you are working out a problem or writing, inspiration is the vehicle or lubricant that makes the process easier.

But inspiration is a fickle fiend. Once you’ve acquired a taste for it, it’s difficult to function without it. Like a drug you can’t quit. And a drug you can’t always get — it supplies you whenever it damn well pleases. Usually not on your own terms.

Despite what it might sound like, having a lack of inspiration isn’t writer’s block. The gears in your head still turn and you can put thoughts together. You just have to crank the handle manually and perspire a bit.

Writer’s block…is essentially when the thinking mechanism of your brain says “F-You,” packs a bag, and leaves you on the doorstep of desperation.

But for me, a lack of inspiration might as well be writer’s block, because I never get anything done without it. I suppose I’ve gotten addicted to the feel of it, and think that if I’m not feeling it, the time isn’t right for writing.

It’s a little more than not being motivated.

When I’m inspired, I can’t stop writing. Or I can’t stop talking. I know exactly what I want to say and how I’m going to say it. But most of all, I think my words matter. I believe they mean something. When I’m not inspired, I am quiet – on paper and otherwise. I’m not one to talk for the sake of talking. The words flow when I think I have something important to say.

I’ve heard that’s a lazy way of going about things – waiting for inspiration.  As a writer and as a thinker, you have to be disciplined, and you have to mentally sweat, practicing your craft daily.

I just don’t know about that. I write for me, because I enjoy it and think it’s fun. And if I have nothing to say, I have nothing to say. I’m not going to beat myself up over that. Or stare blankly at a computer screen, typing nonsense every once and a while.

I’d much rather spend that time riding my bike, going for a run or hanging out with friends.

Maybe I’m not taking my craft seriously enough. Maybe I’m doing it a grievous injustice by allowing myself to be so easily swayed by the fickle fiend of inspiration.

Or maybe…after a 4 year hiatus from creative writing, I just need to ease myself back into it. Blogging, I hope, will be the segue-way and will give me the courage to start cranking those gears on my own, without waiting for inspiration to do it for me.

And I honestly think I’ve begun to do that. Every week I rack my brains, trying to come up with a topic to write about. In the end, I always come up with something. How’s that discipline?

Discipline: You’re cute.

Me: I’m really trying!

Discipline: You’ll get there.

Writing is a journey. And I’ve only just gotten started.