Neighborhood stroll...

Neighborhood stroll…

Over the weekend as I was walking to the post office to send my mother a letter (yes, we do that sometimes lol) I found myself staring up at the buildings around me-not only in slight disbelief that I am living this life, but also in slight disgust. There’s a substantial part of my being who despises paying rent, utilities and other money-pits that are offering me zero return or incentives. Reluctantly, sometimes I include college tuition/loans in this category as well. And that’s when I got to thinking…
Americans have got the game messed up.
When you look at other cultures in the world, African, Middle Eastern and Asian included, many require their young adults to continue living with them well into their adult years. They desire their youngest contributing members of the community to work, earn decent livings and save their money for many of life’s milestones that have yet to come. These will include marriage, children, and the eventual responsibility of the family’s elderly.
In addition they also encourage their children to work hard and find a vocation. By the time many of these kids are enrolled in somebody’s college, if they ultimately wind up attending college, they have a great idea of what they need to get out of it so that minimal time is wasted.
Here in America, the culture tells you to enjoy high school, then immediately enroll in some form of overpriced higher education that is supposed to eventually support the rest of your life-long endeavors, hopes and dreams. There’s a great chance that you will enroll in a program that you probably haven’t given the most thought to because who’s able to make those sort of life-long decisions when you’re just a kid yourself? Upon graduation your parents are kicking you out of the door, cutting off your insurance and wishing you good luck.
But what if American culture coddled their young adults a bit more? Allowed them to take a break after high school to really consider what working life is like? Would they not make better choices when it came time to picking a school, major and other activities? What if the young adults could hold off paying rent a little longer? Were encouraged to pay a light or cable bill, keep gas in their cars and be given enough time to adequately figure out the employment and relationship thing out? Because ultimately, in another 40 years or so it’s going to be these same parents relying on those kids to make sure they’re comfortable in their old age.
I guess I’ll continue to stew over this later this evening as I’m leaving a job/career I didn’t go to college for and consequently don’t see myself at long-term and to an apartment who’s rent is more than the average mortgage payment in my hometown.

It’s the Little Things…

little things“Ashley honey, I’ve never known you to have issues with acne,” my mother told me while looking intently at my face during a recent trip home.  “So what’s been going on with you up there?  Have you been taking care of yourself?” she gently prodded.

I hung my head.  The truth is I had not been.  My normally smooth, nearly flawless complexion had been marked with several acne scars with a few surface bumps scattered throughout my cheeks for good measure.  My cheap(er) concealer did a decent job of covering the imperfections, but it obviously wasn’t enough.  While I’d been doing a pretty good job of hiding behind my makeup and busy schedule, my mother saw right through the smoke and mirrors that nobody else does.  I was embarrassed.

“Well,” I hesitated.  “It’s hard Mom.  I’ve just gotten so busy and haven’t been eating like I should…”

“It’s okay baby.  It’ll get better,” she said reassuringly, sensing that I had gotten uncomfortable.  Wanting to avoid any conflict, she gently steered the conversation to more pleasant things but of course her words stuck with me.  Once back in NYC I found myself forking over my hard-earned cash for the expensive skin care products that never fail.

But isn’t that the thing with parents?  They have a way of honing in on those little things that seem to go unnoticed by everyone.  The next thing you know, you’re making all of these changes sparked by one seemingly minor comment.

Since visiting home while, I’ve worked on clearing up my complexion issues I’ve really gone overboard when it comes to cooking, cleaning and organizing.  I’ve lightweight overhauled my life.  My mother’s home was in impeccable condition and I was embarrassed when I walked into my own apartment and realized she would not approve.  While I’ve never been a messy person, there was no denying that my overflowing laundry basket should have been washed at least a week or two earlier, that my trash needed to go out, that my floors could use a good mop,  that my fridge could use more green veggies and less condiments…the list can go on for days.

Overall sometimes we need those reality checks.  We get so caught up in being busy that we forget to take care of those little things that when combined affect major change.  Since doing those little things, overall I feel more settled, more organized and more at peace.  It’s easier to be productive, to focus and to stay on task.  And when you have a busy schedule, these are the things that will make or break you.  Some days you eat the bear and other days the bear eats you.  Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of bears.

Thanks Mom.

September!

september

Can you believe it’s September already?  It’s so cliché to remark on how quickly the year seems to be passing but seriously, is 2013 not flying by?  When I think of other years, such as 2012, then 2011…I realize that all of them seemed to pass fast.  It makes me question, did the years pass quickly or is it now that I’m older time overall seems to move faster?   I’m going to go with the latter.

Now that we have a new month upon us, it’s a great time for me to check in with myself.  I evaluate past goals, reassess, then create new ones.  I also make a mental note of things I’m looking forward to within that month.

Goals of mine for the month of September are…

  • Land a job I REALLY want-I need to assess what this looks like because I’m not sure that I even know.
  • Continue to cut back and spend less-the lone exception is this pair of shoes I’ve been watching on ShoeDazzle.com  I may have to make something shake because I really need them.
  • Finish all 30 days of the squat challenge-I generally find myself quitting halfway through because I’m satisfied with the muscle definition I see and I also don’t want my thighs to get too big (I sometimes have trouble fitting them into my bottoms already).
  • Read a different business-oriented/self-help book each week-my aunt shared with me that the average business book is written based on 15 years of experience.  If I read four of them, that’s 60 years in a single month.  I’m down for that!

Things that I’m looking forward to are…

  • Reuniting with most of my core group of girlfriends from undergrad-We are all getting together in about three weeks and I’m so excited.
  • Enjoying the last few memories that Summer 2013 has in store for me.
  • Continuing to draw closer to my family-the older I get, the more essential they become.  It’s now a major priority of mine to check in, in some way, with them semi-regularly.
  • Playing September by Earth, Wind & Fire on repeat-It’s my favorite song by them, probably because it always reminds me of my younger brother Ty.  His birthday is in September.
  • Ty’s 25th birthday-I have many siblings, but Ty is the one who just “gets” me.  When I was experiencing my quarter-life crisis, he was there along with me (so much so, that he even shared tears with me…and Ty doesn’t cry.  That’s love!).  I am ready to step in and be a support for him for whatever he may be feeling.  I just really want to be there for him as he was there for me.

While the month seems so expansive, it will be gone before I know it!  What about you?  Do you make goals for the month?  Are there things that September will be bringing that you’re anticipating?  Share below!

“Say do you remember, dancing in September?  Never was a cloudy day!” -Earth, Wind & Fire

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Right before I took my hiatus from this site, I mentioned that there were three things I needed to bring in order before I would be prepared to dedicate my time/energy to writing…

“I’m 1) looking for a solid apartment, 2) looking for a great job, 3) looking for a stable home for Montey.” -Oct 27, 2011

Update(s)!

  1. I am now a (cautious) resident of Bushwick, Brooklyn.  After being a random nomad of various Brooklyn neighborhoods (including, but not limited to Crown Heights, BedStuy and Parkslope) I have now found a place to comfortably lay my head at night.  Rent out here is pretty cheap ($1300 for a two-bedroom) and the neighborhood is patrolled actively enough by police officers.
  2. While I am still looking for a great job…I am nearing the final stages of interviews with an amazing company that I will (prayerfully)  land an amazing position with.  It’s in a completely new industry that will teach me new concepts while utilizing my current skillset.  It will challenge me just enough while also giving me the satisfaction of a great job well done at the end of the day.  In addition, earlier this week I landed a part-time position as a co-host of a new video web-series.  We will be discussing relationships/sex with public figures in the entertainment industry.  I’m pretty excited about it because it will serve as a more casual, creative outlet for me.  It will get those juices flowing!  No pun intended.  The first interview is next week.  After seeing how it all pans out, I may share more.
  3. Montey is at home in Ohio with his Grandma who is taking excellent care of him (with a little coaxing and guidance by his Grandfather) in his Mommy’s absence.  Montey’s Uncle Ty is also pitching in as necessary.   He’s doing well…NYC wasn’t very nice to him 😦

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten a few questions about my novel I wrote and my tshirts…

  1. The novel, Paradigm, has gone nowhere.  All extra/creative energy I’ve had has gone towards merely existing (and now maintaining) in this dog-eat-dog city.  It’s. No. Joke.  Indeed, a concrete jungle.  At this point I’m taking baby steps.  I have to tread carefully, adding little things on my plate slowly so that I am able to successfully manage it all.  First has been this blog.  Prayerfully in the coming weeks it will include editing (a.k.a. rewriting) Paradigm.
  2. My tshirts?  See above.  Lol, but for real…that thing called “creative energy” can be quite evasive up here.  Couple that with the fact that I feel some kind of way about pimping marketing myself has created quite a few roadblocks that I’m attempting to tear down.

Give me some time…I’m getting it together.

Until the Next Time…

Remember I moved up to NYC because I believed I was going through my quarter-life crisis?

Please, the real crisis hadn’t even started….

But now?  I’m in here, in the muck and mire…in the past several weeks, my life has gone from 0-60.  I can’t keep up.

I’m 1) looking for a solid apartment, 2) looking for a great job, 3) looking for a stable home for Montey.

So, until I have completed all three objectives in their entirety this blog will unfortunately be neglected.

Thank you so much for the kind words, thoughts, texts, messages, prayers, etcetera and please continue to keep them coming!

Besos.  XOXO.

P.S. If you need a little pick-me-up to put your own life in perspective, check out the image below…

I Talk To Much

Lol.  If you know me, then you know that already (so save your smart aleck comments that I’ve probably already heard a million times before).  I’m going with a different angle on this topic today…so pay attention!  🙂

Last night at work I almost got fired.  I didn’t do anything wrong per se, but did my manager see it that way?  Absolutely not!  See, what had happened was…

Basically there was a big miscommunication (I’ll spare you the details) in which I was made to look like a neglectful server.   When it was my time to speak up to give my manager some much needed insight, he didn’t give me my moment.  When I hurried after him amid a crowd of guests loudly questioning, “So are you going to stop to let me tell you my side?!  Right now you do NOT have all the facts!”  He abruptly turned on his heels to and went off on me.  “I don’t care what you have to say!  Your point of view means nothing to me!  I am the manager!  You are not!  If you do not like it, there is the door.  You can leave!”

I stood there silent…speechless…and fuming.

“Oh my gosh Ashley!  What did you do?!  What is happening?!  I can’t believe you just talked to him that way!” a couple co-workers whispered as they passed.  All I could do was shake my head as I made a mental note to begin job hunting this morning.

The longer the evening wore on, the more I tried to forget about it and just do my job, but it wasn’t working.  Every time I caught a glimpse of my manager my body would tense up…he had really hurt my pride.  “My opinion meant nothing to him?”  I found myself questioning my own integrity.  How am I supposed to work in an environment that I believe is clipping my wings and won’t allow me to fly?  I know it sounds kind of dramatic, but that’s just the way I feel.  I always compare stuff to my relationship with my father.  Would my daddy have talked to me like that?

Maybe lol.

But darn it, my daddy is the only one that can get away with that bullcrap!  This manager of mine is not my daddy!

So later that evening a friend of Kenny’s (my cousin) came in.  He works in the finance sector and was out with his team enjoying the night.  We struck up a conversation when somehow the subject began resting on the topic of the workplace dynamics between the big boss and his favorite employees.  Long story short, the friend made it very clear that I must wear the mask.

“You the only sista’ up in here, tryin to climb up and get your money.  It’s SO important that you tell these boys what they wanna hear.  You can be 100% right yet they are convinced you are 100% wrong.  You have to be able to say, ‘No problem sir,’ ‘I’ll get right on that,’ or EVEN ‘Yes, I apologize.  I know that was my mistake.’  I’m out here, chuckling at all their corny jokes making them feel like the best thing out here.”  He continued.  “I work with a few sista’s and we all play the role.  You can’t be outspoken and say what’s on your mind.  You will get nowhere.  They don’t like that.  You have to be fake.  Have too.  And when you see those extra dollars on your paycheck it will be worth it because these lonely old men will be in a dirty hotel room with some prostitutes.”

I laughed at his easy-going, practical advice and deep down I know that he is right.  The thing that gets me stuck however is the high price it’s going to cost me.  I pride myself on being a straight shooter, making sure people are aware of where they stand with me.  That fake mentality is everything I’m not about.

Can I do it?  I don’t know yet.

Is it smarter for me to do that?  Depends on what one views as being “smart.”

How important to me is it that I remain true to me?  My late grandfather, Papa, was known to say, “Integrity is everything.”

Sigh.

Thoughts?

The Biggest Change NYC Has Brought

Since the big move, I’ve found myself becoming completely overwhelmed with the daily grind that city life entails.  I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with the new culture and lifestyle I’ve been forced to quickly adapt to.  To say that I’ve felt like the naive, country girl who has come up to the fast-paced, big city is an understatement.

  • People will honk their horn at you for the smallest infractions….if the light turns green, hesitating for a mere second will get you honked at.  Driving slow gets you honked at.  Failing to drive around a vehicle attempting to make a left-hand turn gets you honked at.  Walking across the street looking good will get you honked at 😉
  • Right outside of your residence is an entire world going on 24/7, 365.  I can easily access locally grown fruit, $15 mani/pedi combo’s, laundry service (where they wash and fold your laundry for cheaper than if you inserted the quarters and did it yourself), drug stores and light shopping within a few short blocks of home.
  • When walking around the city taking care of your business, it’s important to walk fast, with urgency, and with intent.  To walk slow, look around and stop to smell the flowers immediately identifies you as a slow-moving, annoying tourist who is taking up valuable space.
  • There is such a GROSS disrespect towards the concept of time…I’m still not used to the idea that the daily task of arising, getting to work, working, and getting home can EASILY occupy 12+ hours of your day.  The number of tasks you can get done in a single day is minimal at most.  I despise that.
  • There is literally ALWAYS something going on and something to do.  I’ve recently tried to begin doing it all but there simply is not enough time (see above point).  I’ve found myself running ragged when I try to keep up appearances at all the clubs, restaurants, hookups and meetups that I’m invited to on a weekly schedule.
  • The daily commute is exhausting as well…I find myself walking fast, my head low and constantly observing my surroundings to make sure no one is about to try me or rob me.  The only person around who can watch my back is…me.

With all of that being said, I am JUST NOW finding myself adjusting to this daily grind.  I am just now waking up in the morning and not feeling exhausted.  My body’s aches and pains are easing to a halt.  I’m finding that my thoughts are coming in clearer, and not as a disorganized jungle of randomness that I’m desperately struggling to bring order too.  After this past weekend, the realization is finally hitting me of the bigger change that has occured while I was being distracted by the other points that I just made.

The biggest change that NYC has brought into my life is a healthier, more productive, more balanced Ashley Yancey.

My mind, body and spirit are more in unison today than they ever have been in my life.

Because time is such a valuable commodity, I am CONSTANTLY thinking and preparing my daily plan of action, along with a Plan B, followed by C.  I also have to keep close tabs on my week’s schedule-it’s not uncommon to be put on the spot in the middle of the work day and have to give someone a response right then as to what I can/cannot commit to.  As a result, my memory has improved.

The daily hustle and bustle of my job in a high-volume restaurant, coupled with my daily commute, has my body flexing muscles that it never knew existed.  My legs, arms and shoulders have never been this defined.  In addition, I have found myself eating about three times a day.  Heavy, greasy foods weigh me down so I focus on lighter, healthier options.  My body thanks me for it every day.

Lastly, during my daily commute on the train to and from work, my eReader and I have gotten pretty tight.  I am able to use that time reading devotionals and books.  Also, because of my healthier eating habits, I have more energy to wake earlier and spend a few extra moments in the morning engrossed in my Bible.

To make all of those changes has not been an easy task.  There have been MANY homesick days when I have been on the verge of tears, missing Ohio like no other.  I haven’t spoken much of these moments because they aren’t things that I like to dwell on.  Now that I am looking back I am recognizing that I am making it.  Deep in my core I feel progressive-I understand the changes I am making are building blocks to the destiny I see for myself.

What better foundation than one that is rooted in a healthy mind, body and spirit?