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.

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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