3 most important interview tips from a corporate recruiter

Last month marked 2 years that I have been in the Staffing/Recruiting industry – and in such a short amount of time I have learned A LOT. I’ve seen my fair share of interviews gone horribly wrong, and I’ve also witnessed the art of finessing an interview so well that the candidate received a job offer even though they weren’t the most qualified for the job. By popular demand, I’ve decided to share a few of the things that have stood out to me in my time as a recruiter that are guaranteed to help you stand out on your next interview.

Relax & Be Yourself

This may seem like a cliche – but it’s important to understand the bigger picture behind why this is important. Sometimes when candidates are on the job search, they can get carried away by a “dream” job title, company prestige, or desperation (we’ve all been there) and they can lose sight of something very important: company culture. I would argue that company culture makes up 50% of the reason anyone enjoys their job. For some people this percentage is even higher. For example, I interviewed for a magazine job right out of college that I hyped myself up SO much for. I was so confident that I was perfect for the job and perfect for the company. Looking back on the interview, the magazine was catered to older women who hosted tea parties, and the Editor’s personality honestly did not mesh well with mine. If I had kept the bigger picture of company culture fit in mind, I probably wouldn’t have been as upset as I was when I got the email that they were going in another direction. It didn’t mean I wasn’t qualified, it simply means I wasn’t the right fit for that particular position within the company. There are so many things that go into hiring that have nothing to do with your resume, experience or education. In reality, hiring someone to join an existing team of unique personalities is a delicate balancing act. Sometimes, even the most qualified candidates simply won’t mesh well with the team at hand – I’ve seen it happen – and that isn’t anything personal it’s just reality. This is why it’s so important to be yourself in the interviewing process. On the other hand, on some occasions, showing your personality (obviously while maintaining professionalism) can actually work in your favor and make up for any skills or experience you lack. If you’re a 10/10 culture fit, hiring managers may give you the benefit of the doubt and see you as a good long-term investment for the team, which makes putting in the effort to training you more appealing to them. On your next interview, try to lighten up when the opportunity presents itself and let some of your personality and humor shine through during conversation. It just might make all the difference – and if you aren’t a culture fit, you’re honestly saving yourself from 40 hours of misery per week. A win-win either way.

Prepare Answers to The Hard Questions

If you’ve ever been asked “What is your greatest weakness” in an interview and not been prepared to answer that question, you know the feeling of sheer panic that consumes your soul in that moment. It’s terrifying. Don’t let yourself get into that situation – let me help you prepare. I’ve had the pleasure of working with hiring managers of all different styles. You have the hard-asses, the chill interviewers, and then you have your average, pleasant interviewers. A quick google search will yield all of your typical interviewing questions: strengths/weaknesses, why do you want THIS job, tell me about a time you made a mistake, tell me about a time you learned something, etc. It is smart to spend a considerable amount of time sitting with these questions and really formulating answers that are true, which make them easy for you to remember and deliver, but also that give a really GOOD impression to the hiring manager. This takes more time than you’d think. I would advise definitely having the hard ones down – that way, the worst that could happen is that you feel over prepared. (This is actually the best thing that could happen). In an interview once, I was asked the strengths/weaknesses question among other hard hitting questions, and I felt pretty good about my answers. Then, he hit me with “tell me about a time when you did something you regretted”. DANG. Cue spotlight, crickets. The good news is that I honestly felt so relieved that I had already breezed through what I had considered the “hard” questions I had prepared so much for, that I had the confidence and composure to think on my feet and handle this curveball. If you are actively interviewing, you should have a solid and efficient answer to all of the “common interview questions” that you can easily and confidently deliver. This will also give you the confidence you need to let your personality shine through during the interview.

Research the Company & Ask Questions

This one is a no-brainer – if you’ve been invited to discuss employment with a company, the least amount of effort expected is that you are somewhat familiar with said company. This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert, but you should be in the ballpark of what they do, stand for, etc. One of the most impressive things you can do as a prospective employee is to mention something about the company that you researched and ask something about that topic. For example: If you interview with a manufacturing company, you could say that you saw some examples of their products on the website and you are curious who their top 3 customers are. Suddenly, the hiring managers eyebrows are raising and their gears are turning as they happily explain that to you and you have successfully demonstrated that you are interested and invested in what the company is doing. Another great way to show the hiring manager that you’ve put a lot of thought into the company and the opportunity is to ask them “Can you describe what a successful candidate for this role is like?” This shows that you are being thoughtful and truly considering yourself in the role, and it gives you a chance to hear the expectations the manager would have of you directly coming from them.

In a nutshell, interviewing is a complex process. Usually there are several different factors involved in a hiring managers’ decision and not getting a job offer should never be taken personally. If you have any stories you want to share with me or questions about interviewing – I’m here! Job hunting is not an easy thing for anyone and I want to be a resource where I can! Happy interviewing, job seekers ❤ be easy on yourselves.

Our Engagement | Proposal Story

Ben and I met on a warm night in May of 2018. I could have never imagined that the cute, shy guy I sat beside on the patio would be my future husband! But this blog isn’t about that first night, it’s about our engagement and how he popped the question. So here goes!

Leading up to the engagement…

I should begin by making it very clear that from the very first conversation we ever had about getting engaged, Ben’s main goal was to make sure that I was completely surprised. I should also mention that I don’t particularly like surprises. Lol. It got especially hard for me after he surprised me by taking me to Diamonds Direct one afternoon “just to browse”. He walked right up to an attendant and asked for Ashley. We were then lead to the counter where he told Ashley to let me try on the rings he had picked out…(?!) I was shocked! When did he have the time to come out here and do all of this?! That’s when I realized he is sneakier than I thought. He had me try them all on to see which ones I liked, and I was amazed by how beautiful they were. I had told him I wanted a unique band, and I think I showed him maybe one or two photos several months prior. The rings he chose were all so stunning I honestly liked them all! After that afternoon, I got really impatient lol. I was so excited I could hardly wait!

Several weeks went by, and he could tell I was getting impatient. I am kind of the worst – I would try to guess when he was going to propose, and I started asking for hints, etc. Like I said, I’m the worst. But to be fair, I was just so ready to be engaged to him and I didn’t feel like I needed a big surprise or to make a big event of it. We had talked enough about our future that I was SO ready for it!! Eventually, Ben got tired of me harassing him (lol) and he told me he was planning the engagement for the middle of January. My birthday is on January 13th and it was on a Monday. We both took off work that day so I knew we would have the long weekend together. It had to be then; I was over the moon excited.

My birthday weekend came and went, with no proposal! It was an amazing, relaxing and fun weekend. We went indoor rock climbing, ate at an amazing oyster bar, had brunch at the cutest cafe downtown, watched ducks at the park, strolled through the art museum, and had cake with my family. My heart was so full – but I was disappointed that he didn’t propose. I texted my friend Riley “I am the biggest brat ever – I swear I thought he was going to propose this weekend.” Ben had asked me what friends I wanted to be at the proposal, so I figured he had already told her the whole plan (he had). She told me to be patient – and to not think about it for a few weeks. I took her advice, and prepared myself for a February or March engagement.

The Day of the Proposal

Two weeks later, Riley told me she was planning to come to Birmingham for the weekend to see our friend Heather’s new house and tell her the big news that she was pregnant. We made plans for brunch on Saturday, and Riley said Heather wanted to go to the Botanical Gardens because she hadn’t been yet. I didn’t think much of it, I figured she was just trying to come up with things we could do together while Riley was in town. I met them inside at Ruby Sunshine and Riley broke the news. Heather and I had celebratory mimosas in baby Bennett’s honor (sorry Ri lol) and we had some of the best brunch food in Birmingham. It was a fun little girls morning out!

After brunch, we walked outside together and I thought to myself ugh it’s so cold I don’t really want to go to the gardens. Before I could bail, Riley said “ok, we’ll meet you there!” and they practically ran away to her car. lol.

At the gardens, we took our time walking around the gift shop, taking a bathroom break, etc. The sun came out as we walked back outside toward the gardens. We walked by a field full of dead rose bushes lol. “Hey let’s go to that green house over there” I suggested, as I started walking that way. Riley said, “Wait, look at that statue of Vulcan! Heather – go stand by him”. LOL. I was like uhhh ok…. I watched as Riley took photos of Heather doing the Vulcan pose. The next thing I know, someone comes up behind me and grabs my arm.

“Hey can I steal you for a second?” I turned around and it was Ben!!!!!? I was TOTALLY shocked. Like.. completely. “What are you doing here?!” I asked, laughing, confused. He held my hand and started leading me down the sidewalk. I started freaking out, thinking omg this is it…. 

He said “Do you remember when we came here together?” I said “yeah”, grinning stupid happy like an idiot. We had come to the gardens one sunny weekend back in October 2018, about a month after he asked me to be his girlfriend. We had walked this exact route. I remembered the trees lining both sides of the walkway and the water fountain at the end overlooking the courtyard. He said “I knew I wanted to marry you that day, when we were walking here”. He kept talking as we walked, (I blacked out a little lol) and when we were right in front of the water fountain he got on one knee. I started shaking and tears filled my eyes. I said “YES!” and reached for him – we hugged and kissed and he stood up, smiling, and said “ok let’s put it (the ring) on!” Oh, right! Lol

Riley and Heather were cheering behind us – and Anna jumped out of the bushes with my camera! No one else was around. I hugged them and hugged Ben again – it was literally the best, happiest, sweetest moment ever.

 

Here are photos from the day in October 2018 when we came here together:

 

 

RECAP – All of everything 2019

I’m pretty blessed to have a job that gives me a legit Adult Christmas Break – I’ve been relaxing and pouring all of this extra time into my blog and planning for the year ahead. Every year, the last two weeks of December are always a blur of shoveling food into my mouth, rarely leaving the house and reflecting on all that has happened in the past 12 months.

2019 was kind of a whirlwind for me. A lot of really fun, special moments were enjoyed and scattered around a lot slower, lonelier times and personal growth. January 2019 began with a surprise birthday party put on by my sweet boyfriend, Ben, and that in itself was a warm fuzzy moment that I will always cherish. Having so many of my people (new and old) in one place on my birthday was honestly the best gift I could’ve received. ❤

Everyone is Moving On 

In February, one of my friends moved to Atlanta to be closer to her fiancé (now husband!) and in March, another left for Jamaica to pursue her dream of joining the Peace Corps. Then in May, another of my best friends moved to Florida to start her first big-girl job. Another one bites the dust. Since moving back to my hometown after being away at college, it’s been really hard to make new friends, and this year that reality became even more glaring when my long-time friends moved away. Adult life can be hard to adjust to. On the flip side of that, I always strive to be the biggest cheerleaders for my friends and with them all moving on to pursue adventure, service, love, careers… it’s been really awesome to see ❤

I’ve also been able to develop newer friendships this year – a friend I made while I was in a friend’s wedding last year moved to Birmingham and got married which is a huge blessing to have them here! I’ve also stayed in touch with friends I’ve made through work and I’ve been able to grow those friendships this year.

Personal Endeavers

In April, I channeled all my creative energy into revamping my blog (yay!). I decided to create an instagram account specifically for my blog, and that has been so fun to develop and play around with these past several months. I also developed a deeper interest in photography, and invested in this tripod which I have used SO MUCH this year. Through April and May, I tagged along with Ben during the process of buying his first home (woo!). He closed on his house in early May, and I began the never ending task of helping him decorate. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that guys are very simple creatures. They don’t understand things like decorative pillows and trinkets for the mantel. I have volunteered my money and time to help educate him and help make his house a home. We’re still working on it.

Car Trouble / Bumps in the Road

In July, I took my car to get a routine oil change and they told me it needed over $2k worth of work immediately or it would be considered dangerous to drive. I didn’t have $2k, and I had had that car since high school, thanks to my parents, and I wasn’t prepared financially to start making payments on a new car with all of my other bills. My lease at my apartment was also up in July, so I had to make the tough decision to end my lease and move back in with mom and dad. The next week, I signed on a used 2015 red Toyota and packed up everything I own. 

Makin’ Career (Money) Moves

I think it was the fact that I was struggling financially and had to move out of my apartment that made me start looking for a different job. I had also sort of fallen into recruiting, read that story here, and I had just hit the year mark at that job and part of me wondered if there was something better out there for me. Recruiting certainly wasn’t what I planned for my career to be after college, but then again sometimes the best things happen that way. ANYWAY, shortly after moving out and buying my car, I interviewed for a Business Development position with a company that manufactures fluid systems components. The job paid well, was very stable and offered great benefits, company culture, a president that sees and talks to everyone, a really awesome boss that I could be bffs with – I could go on. The gig was a really good thing, but when I got the call with an offer, I froze. I don’t know how else to describe the way I felt other than unsure. I didn’t quite feel ready to leave recruiting, or the company I was at. My coworkers. My job. But I went against that feeling, and accepted the offer (a $10k+ pay raise). 

I very quickly realized that the job and the industry simply were not for me. Within weeks, I realized I missed my old job, my old coworkers, etc. It did not take long for me to understand that I had made a mistake. I think the stability and pay raise are what sealed the deal for me to accept the job, but it’s funny because I ended up missing the competitiveness and the excitement of my position in recruiting. Three months into the new job, I called my former boss in recruiting. I was SO thankful when she said I could come back to work for her. Everyone at the new job was extremely understanding and gracious to me, and I still get happy hour margs with my boss and coworkers there. Overall, I consider the experience a win. I learned a lot about myself and what I want out of a workplace and a career. And what better time to learn those things than in your 20’s!

Travel

Despite all the personal and financial changes, Ben and I got to travel a good bit together in 2019! We went to Nashville in May, New Orleans in June, took a trip to the beach with his family in July, a weekend trip to Memphis to visit his friends from college, several trips to northern AL for weddings and weekend visits with my friends, a trip to Atlanta and countless weekends at the lake. 

 

In Short –

All in all – 2019 has been an extension of 2018 in learning to navigate adult life, and has brought on a lot of personal discovery for me in regards to my career. It’s been a year of cheering from the sidelines, celebrating lifelong commitments to love, struggling and then thriving again, and lots of adjusting and readjusting. I’m also very thankful for the year i’ve been given with Ben, and I can’t imagine going through any of this without him! I am thankful for all that 2019 has thrown at me and I CANT WAIT to get 2020 started! 

 

The Woodhouse – A review of Birmingham’s new Day Spa

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You know those gifts that are a double whammy because you get to experience them with someone else? That’s what this wonderful day at Birmingham’s newest Day Spa was for me. My boyfriend really outdid himself this year in gifting us a 4+ hour couple’s spa treatment – complete with bottomless mimosas and CBD infused body oils (both optional). Located at the lower level of the Summit shopping center, The Woodhouse is a convenient drive for everyone in Birmingham and surrounding areas, and a great treat for anyone visiting the ‘ham.

Upon arriving, Ben and I were greeted right away and lead through the dimly lit hallway to the men and women’s locker rooms where we parted ways. Inside, the women’s room was beautifully decorated and fully stocked with dry shampoo, hair brushes, deodorant, and anything else you would need to freshen up after the treatment. There were two separate bathrooms and a huge shower. The row of lockers were easy to access and lock with a personal 4 digit code, and I had a customized sign with my name and a fresh white robe hanging for me.

Once I got changed and put my belongings in my locker, I met Ben down the hallway in the “quiet room” where you can relax in between each treatment. There was a cucumber water station, several comfy lounge areas, and a warm FIREPLACE. If we wanted a mimosa, champagne, or wine – all we had to do was ask! They made sure to refill before we saw the bottom of our glass as well.

The package we got included a facial, full body massage, and a pedicure. We started with the facial, which included neck, scalp and arm massages as well. Before you start the treatment, you fill out a questionnaire about your current medications, any skin sensitivities, your daily routine, and goals for your skin. They do a really good job of being attentive to your personal needs the whole time, and they make it very comfortable to ask questions or make requests. I had a slight sensitivity to one of the facial masks and the therapist was so nice about quickly removing it and applying something more soothing.

After the facial, we were taken back for the full body massage. I had never done one before, so I was unsure about what to expect. My masseuse was extremely nice and attentive to any questions I asked (and even the ones I didn’t know to ask!). You remain covered with a heavy blanket the entire massage, and she simply lifts the blanket up (as conservatively as possible) as needed. It wasn’t a big deal at all – and I wasn’t uncomfortable at any point. By the end of it, I was ready to slink into a deep, cozy, noodley sleep. More champagne was poured as we meandered back into the quiet room to await our pedicure and leg massage. We finished with noodley relaxed muscles, a stomach full of bubbles, and fun memories of this day that will last forever. I definitely recommend gifting someone special with a trip to The Woodhouse, or treating yourself! They offer individual as well as personalized treatment packages. Visit their website for full details on package options, treatment specifics, etc: here.

This blog post is not affiliated with The Woodhouse Day Spa in any way, and this is not an advertisement for their company. All opinions and content here are my own. 

In 2018 God said “No” to my career dreams, and I’m thankful

Somehow, here we are again, preparing our recipes for Thanksgiving dinner and ogling at Christmas lights being strung around trees and everything else (too early, bah humbug). This time of the year always has me wondering where the weeks went, where they’re heading and what I’ve learned. I’ve been a college graduate for about 11 months now, and my eventful first year of “adulting” is coming to an end soon. I moved into my first apartment, landed a (couple) job(s), and adopted a dog. I also met someone awesome and turned in my single-gal card after a long streak of guys who were emotionally unavailable and, you guessed it, not good for me. It’s been 11 months packed full of lessons and looking myself in the mirror and seeing Gods hands all over everything. I could take this in several directions, but I want to focus on the role God has played in my career since I’ve graduated.

I started interviewing for jobs in December 2017, a few weeks before graduation. The last three years of my college career I had decided that I would pursue a career in my lifelong passion: writing. Having landed an internship with a magazine a few summers before, continued developing my portfolio by freelancing for them, and having worked for the Alabama Press Association for a year and served as their journalism intern, I felt like I had good connections and a pretty OK resume. I interviewed for an entry level editorial position with a magazine (a dream first job for me) and was devastated when I got the email saying they would not be moving forward with my application.

This was God telling me no, I couldn’t have what I wanted. I didn’t like it.

I applied for countless other media positions without any feedback. The process was draining and disheartening. I changed my resume a thousand times, new formats, new descriptions, less descriptions… I began questioning everything: Should I have changed majors? Should I have done more in college? Did I ruin the interview? Should I go back to school? Somewhere in the middle of my frantic applying and worrying – I realized I hadn’t been praying or talking to God about anything I was doing. I started to pray for guidance, and peace of mind for whatever came my way.

Somewhere along the way, I applied for a position through a recruiting agency. A few days later, I got a call from a recruiter saying that I had an interview for a marketing assistant position with an insurance company. I was thrilled. The day after Christmas, my recruiter called to tell me they were offering me the position and they wanted me to start on January 4th. I felt like my prayers had been answered – this was my big opportunity.

The next 5 months were unfulfilling and trying. I found myself undertrained, underwhelmed, and unhappy with the work I was doing. My position was essentially a support role for two graphic designers and our workload was sparse – as needed. I wasn’t skilled in graphic design, so I could only assist with the very basic tasks, which included text input, creating some graphs in PowerPoint, spell checking, number checking, etc. I was starved creatively and productively. I felt trapped, because I wanted to do something else but I didn’t have a better option yet. In August, the decision was made for me. I received a call from my recruiter telling me that my assignment was ending the first week of June. There I was, beginning the job hunt all over again.

Right away, I began to pray: “God, please guide me, whatever path you lead me down, just place me somewhere where I can use my skills to make a difference.” I prayed this simple little prayer over and over again, until my heart opened up. I had to prepare for God to lead me. I had to accept wherever He placed me.

I interviewed for a staff writer position with a local newspaper. I felt really good about the interview, he seemed to like me, and he asked to read my samples and we talked about our mutual connections from the Alabama Press Association. I had become very familiar with newspapers during my time working there, and I was excited about the possibility of writing again. It seemed promising, but still, I kept my mind and heart open to all possibilities.

In an effort to explore all opportunities possible, I applied with another recruiting agency. Soon after, I was contacted by a different agency who found my resume and wanted to interview me for a Recruiter’s Assistant position. I was interested, but focused on other options.

I continued to pray. I had a new sense of calmness this time, and I was able to think more rationally and clearly. This time was different because I had decided to let God place me somewhere, instead of holding on so tightly to my dream of working in media. After working at the insurance company, I realized I would be happy in any position where I could reach people, and do something good. I would apply to as many opportunities as possible, open up my heart and mind, and let God decide where I should be.

After two weeks of waiting, I found out I didn’t get the newspaper job. I kept moving forward.

I went on about 3 different interviews from the second agency I applied with, and I didn’t feel like any of those were my “fit”. My recruiter called me after my third interview and asked how it went. “It went well,” I said, “but this wouldn’t be my first choice. I’m waiting to hear back from a few opportunities.” She asked what they were. “Oh! You’re interested in recruiting??,” she asked, after I told her about the assistant recruiter role. “Do you want to meet with me about recruiting for us?! We’re hiring.”

I met with her the next morning, and she offered me an Executive Recruiter position. I took it – and started the next week.

Since then, I have had the privilege of getting to know the other 8 women that recruit there, and they have welcomed me in graciously. I have grown professionally, as I am continuously building relationships with top-level Executives all over Alabama. I have met so many different kinds of people, and I have had the privilege of helping them in their career journeys. I would have never guessed I would get into recruiting, but God knew the impact this company and career would have on my life: professionally, socially, and personally. I am so glad He knows and sees far more than I ever could. This job has fulfilled me and made me a better person.

It is always hard when you work for something and dream for something and then you don’t get it. I spent almost my entire college career dreaming about working for a magazine. I wanted to move to Chicago, live in a tiny, dirty apartment in the city and write. I wanted to write to reach people, to entertain, to inspire, but more than that, I wanted to write because I love it. Writing has always been a me thing. And it makes perfect sense that God would tell me no and place me in a career where my job is to serve other people. I’ve been able to get people in front of employers who wouldn’t have looked twice at their resume, because I can say more than a piece of paper can about a person. I’ve served as a beacon of hope for people when they’ve gotten laid off after 15 years of loyalty and hard work and don’t know where to turn. I’ve served as a new perspective to employers who turn away candidates for one reason or another and then end up hiring that person. I’ve bridged gaps in communication when misunderstanding and human error gets in the way of opportunity. I’ve learned so much, and I’m excited to learn more. How incredibly humbling, that God said no to my dream, and placed me in a position to help other people find theirs.

I still love writing, obviously. I started my blog in hopes that it will serve as a platform that makes admitting “me too” comfortable and freeing. I would like to write more. I would like to reach people through my words and I will always need a creative outlet. But for now, I am thankful that God said no and planted me where He needed me, and where He knew I would grow.

Whether I stay in recruiting forever or find a career in media or elsewhere, I’ll leave that up to God. He seems to know better than I do, anyway.

Taylor Swift Made Me Boy Crazy & Other Lies We Tell Ourselves (A Response to “Here’s What You Need To Realize If Your Ex Moved On Quickly”)

For as long as I can remember I’ve always believed in the kind of love that I’ve seen in movies, that I’ve seen in my parents’ marriage, and that I’ve read about in the Bible. I believe in the whole nine yards: friendship, respect, passion, compatibility, trust, agreeing on pizza toppings, and turning the tv and fan off at bedtime (lol plz).

Recently one of my besties live Snap-chatted a reading of my junior high school journal. Almost every entry began with “I was dating *insert boy I barely remember* but now I’m dating *insert another boy I don’t remember*”. We were entertained for hours and her Snapchat friends probably hate her (and me). It was silly and frivolous and I don’t know why I was so boy crazy, but then again that was around the same time Taylor Swift’s debut album came out -and if we are all honest with ourselves- it had every 14 year old girl shook. 

My boy-crazed tendencies weren’t confined to the pages of my journal – I wrote poetry and short stories centering around relationships, I watched Disney princess movies over and over, and I had extensive check lists for whatever lucky guy would be my “happy ending” (think Zac Efron, High School Musical). From a young age I had unrealistic ideas about how this was going to go down, and I wanted something that I hadn’t even begun to understand yet. But more than anything else, the scribblings in my journal are special to me, because they are some of the only things I have left of the little girl I used to be. They remind me of how much I’ve learned, and how much I still don’t know.

Despite the suggested promiscuity in my journal entries, there have only been three relationships that matured enough to carry any weight in my dating life. All three ended with the guy pursuing another girl almost immediately (on two occasions, simultaneously). I don’t know if you’ve ever been cheated on, or if you’ve ever been broken up with and then replaced almost instantly – but the feelings are pretty similar. Sadness. Betrayal. Confusion. Hurt. Anger. It’s a lot to process at one time, and fellas this is why you might remember some of your exes being “crazy” lol. Emotions are really powerful!

I read an article recently about “What You Need To Realize If Your Ex Moved On Quickly” and I want to share a few of my thoughts. The bulk of the article focuses on how people usually jump into relationships for the wrong reasons right after a breakup anyway and how, as the dumpee in this situation, you shouldn’t feel “forgotten” just yet. They haven’t forgotten about you, they’re just coping with the breakup in their own way. As comforting as this idea may be to someone recovering from a break up, I would like to offer a different outlook.

I was dumped over a text message by the guy I thought I was going to marry. We had plane tickets to California, a trip to New Orleans on the calendar, and I was going to dinner with his family the next night. None of this stopped him from sending me a text that would end our relationship. Nothing about our past, our plans, or our experiences together was going to change his mind. None of it stopped him from taking someone new on a date, only a few weeks afterward.

I had never felt as betrayed and confused in my entire life, and the truth is, I had been betrayed. I was forgotten by the person who spent so many months convincing me that I would never feel that way. I would argue that allowing yourself to believe any other version of the truth in this situation is dangerous. It doesn’t matter if he was dating someone new to “cope” or if he had really found his true soul mate – what matters is that he chose to do something he told me he would never do. He left. And not only that, but he was able to move on to someone else so soon. If he was able to do that, I finally realized that I didn’t want to know what would have happened if we had stayed together. Realizing this and taking his actions at face value is what allowed me to move on.

Relationships are weird and hard and they can get messy. I’ve learned a lot from mine and I chose to share all of this because I know that it’s something a lot of people deal with. My advice to anyone going through a break up, reading into what they’re doing, what they’ve said or who they’re with – let yourself be sad, angry, confused. Talk it out with your friends until they can’t stand it anymore. Cry until you don’t want to cry anymore. And then let their actions paint a new picture of who they are to you now, because at this point, that’s the only truth that matters.

I have no hard feelings toward that guy, or the other two guys from the relationships I mentioned. If I’m being honest, those relationships were going to end whether it happened when it did or later down the road – we weren’t right for each other and God has better plans for all of us. And also, if I’m being honest, I was boy crazy long before Taylor’s album came out.

If you (yes, YOU) ever need someone to confide in, I’m your girl.

Xx Kayla

My 5 Favorite Self-Care Practices For When Life Gets Icky

As far as self-care goes, it’s been a rough month for me. My temporary job ended unexpectedly, without warning, two months before the agreed end date. So, at the beginning of June I frantically jumped back into the job hunting game and it’s been an emotional whirlwind, to say the least. I’ve gone from regretting my degree and ultimately, my whole career path, to sudden bursts of energy at the call for an interview, only to receive a “we really liked you, but chose someone with a little more experience. We will keep you in mind”. As thoughtful as the gesture may be, that response can be maddening.

 

To be honest I haven’t done the best job at taking care of myself during this moment of my life, and it’s been bad for more aspects of my life than one. But when I have taken the time to slow down and check in with myself, it’s made a world of difference for my mental and physical wellbeing and ultimately, for my situation and relationships. If you find yourself in similar mindsets or situations, try these 5 self-care practices below that always help me.

 

 

Clear Your Calendar

If you’re anything like me, you might overcommit sometimes to people and events without considering what you need, or thinking about your schedule. I had to learn to get comfortable with not telling people yes right away, and here’s what I’ve learned: they appreciate it more than a false yes, and it makes you feel better in the end. Instead of saying yes right away, or even maybe, just say that you aren’t sure what you have going on yet, and you’ll let them know. That way, the ball is in your court and they are already expecting that you might not come. On the same note, if you have already committed to something and need to sit this one out, please do that. You are in charge of your schedule, and you are the only person that can manage your wellbeing. No event or person is worth compromising that for.

 

 

Treat Yourself

I have found that certain treats or “extras” go a long way in boosting my mood and overall mental state. For me, this can be a good beer at the end of a long day or an ice cream cone from McDonalds. This can be something like getting your nails done, eating a snickers bar or buying flowers for your place. Basically, just a small pick-me-up that can remind you to take a moment to appreciate the little things you love.

 

 

Get Outside

I have always personally felt most peaceful when I’m outside, but studies have shown that nature provides significant improvements to mental health. This interesting article can tell you more sciencey things about it. Something about my bare feet in the grass, listening to the birds talking, and witnessing nature existing, totally uninfluenced – makes me feel like maybe I am okay, after all. Nature reminds me that I am connected to all of its wonder and beauty, and it reminds me that I belong. I recommend taking a short hike, or walking through a trail because I always feel best when I get moving, too.

 

 

Get On A Yoga Mat (I Know – Just Do It)

I just mentioned this, but moving is very important in order to feel good. It isn’t always easy to convince myself to go to the gym, so I usually settle for the air-conditioned space in my bedroom floor where my yoga mat goes. I usually use “Yoga By Adriene” vidoes on YouTube. She has hundreds of different practices recorded and they are very easy to follow and many of them are perfect for beginners. At the end of particularly hard or draining days (and sometimes just because) I love taking my “longer” bedtime routine. I’ll take a long hot shower, wash my face, moisturize, and settle into my sleepiness and then do Adriene’s bedtime yoga practice. It’s about 15 minutes and makes for some DADGUM GOOD sleep.

 

 

Watch A Good Movie

I always love a good movie, but I especially love them when I’m feeling overwhelmed with my own life and situation. That sounds depressing, but I usually finish the movie with a new perspective or a gained insight to my own situation that I hadn’t considered before. Other people’s stories often do that – they can inspire you! (Sometimes I get a good, long sob-cry in and that can help, too LOL) Some of my trusted, tried-and-true movie choices are Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Eat Pray Love, Wild, and The Devil Wears Prada.

 

 

There’s nothing wrong with making yourself a priority, and in fact, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to take care of anything else – that includes your relationships. Everything in our lives stems from our ability to sustain them, and that means we need to be in our best shape. We owe it to ourselves, and our loved ones, to be the best, happiest version of ourselves.

 

I want to know! — What do you do to take care of yourself?

How I Knew I’d Found My Person (As told by 6 of my best friends)

I’m not sure how or when it all happened, but most of my friends are either engaged or talking about getting engaged. Now, as a person who has been extremely single for months on months on months, I understand if you rolled your eyes at this title and didn’t read any further. But if you are single and have read this far, I’m assuming you’re just as curious as I am about people and their love stories. I love to read about love stories, talk about love stories and write about love stories. I love love, and I have ever since I was able to understand the concept. The concept being: two people meet as strangers and then somehow down the road, arrive at the decision that they want to do life together for the rest of their lives. Amazing. I have always been curious about how people know they’ve found “the one”, and in an attempt to get rid of the age old response of you just know, I decided to ask my friends for better answers.

Let me introduce my friends and their relationships:

(I’m changing names to protect my galpals)

Sarah + John: Sarah and John have been dating for about three years, and recently got engaged. They met in college and have seemed pretty smitten from the very beginning. When asked how she knew she wanted to marry John, Sarah said, “I was with him and his family and I saw how he was around kids and that honestly seemed the deal. We can talk for hours and have so much fun together all the time and we never fight. We may have disagreements but we are able to talk through them without really arguing.”

 

Rebecca + Oliver: Rebecca and Oliver started dating during their senior year of high school, and both went to the same college. Their relationship made it through four years of undergrad and is still going strong. They have been together for 5+ years. When I asked Rebecca how she knew Oliver was her person, she said, “I’d say that I knew he was someone I could see myself marrying because we have the same sense of humor. He always makes me laugh. It was further confirmed when we met each other’s families and I could see him fitting in with mine and see myself fitting in with his family a lot. Through the years we’ve set similar goals and expectations of how we want to live our lives and it seems to match up pretty well.”

 

Luke + Sophie: Luke and Sophie met in college, and first connected on a dating app. They have been together for about a year and a half. Their relationship has withstood months of long distance, and even a language barrier. They recently moved in together. When I asked Sophie how she knew he was the one, she said, “When he saw strength and life in me when I was weak and powerless. When he gave me hope and a future in a time when I thought I would not have either of those. When he stayed through the worst of me, while still loving me like I was the best of myself.” 

Jennifer + Brandon: Jennifer and Brandon started dating in High School, and ended up going to the same college. They spent 4 years of undergrad together, and recently got engaged. Overall, they have been together for 4+ years. Jennifer was very adamant about her answer that she “just knew” but I finally got her to expand on that and here’s what she said, “It’s a difficult question to answer and it’s not just one thing. It’s a compilation of our journey, our story. Us in general. I knew early on that we would end up together but how that would happen was unknown. I love him for so many different reasons and there wasn’t just one day when I knew. It’s a feeling. Something you can’t describe. You just know.”

 

Rachel + Joseph: Rachel and Joseph went on one date and then didn’t speak again until they ran into each other at a bar, two years later. The rest is history. Rachel says, “Everything with him is just different. Way better. I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to love anyone else.”

 

Sam + Kate: Sam and Kate met through mutual friends and their almost two year relationship has been long distance. Kate says, “The cliché but honest answer is that I just knew. My relationship with him was different than any relationship I have had before. Whenever I dated someone in the past I would always have my eye out for something that could be better and when we started getting serious I didn’t want to keep looking because I realized there wasn’t anyone better for me than him. He also checked all the boxes: easy to talk to, attractive, funny, outgoing, etc. God also gave me some signs that have led me to believe that it is His will that we are supposed to get married. I think that last part is what makes doing long distance bearable.”

 

So there you have it. Six people who have chosen their person, and their explanation of what made them do it. A couple recurring things I notice in my friends’ answers: one being the realization that the relationship they have with this person feels different than any previous relationship in a very significant way, and another being compatibility between families. As someone who loves words and details and wants to explain and talk about everything, it can be hard for me to accept an answer like “When you know, you just know”. But maybe it really is that simple. Maybe thats the point. What do you think? Do you really just know? Are some concrete factors non-negotiable when it comes to marriage? I’d love to hear your opinions and stories!

God Gave You The Sunrise This Morning, Now Paint The Rest: Thoughts On Finding Your Purpose

I was talking with a friend recently who told me he has known he wanted to be a coach since he was a kid. He graduated college and quickly jumped into a career coaching youth soccer, and he has impacted so many lives over the last several years. He felt that coaching was what he was called to do, and he chased after that at full speed.

He shared with me that he was given the opportunity to change career paths to something outside of coaching that would give him a more stable schedule and lifestyle, and he was debating whether or not he should take it. He seemed excited about the idea of a new challenge, and a more stable schedule was clearly something that he desired. Even so, I could tell that he was hesitating to make the decision. He was afraid of making a mistake that would take him off of the path  he was “supposed” to be on in his life. He was afraid of taking a wrong turn that wouldn’t lead him home.

I think people believe that they have more power over their life than they actually do. We can get so caught up in worry and stress about finding our life’s purpose or ruining our life’s purpose or not finding our life’s purpose – when maybe, our purpose isn’t anything we do but it’s in who we are. My friend has a passion for coaching, a passion for helping, and a heart of pure gold, and those are things that will carry over into anything that he does. Those are things that will show up in his purpose. No decision he makes is going to change that.

We all wonder if we are where we’re supposed to be. In life, in our careers, in our relationships. We all want to feel like God has painted a canvas with our names on it and that it looks like the life we’re living. We’re afraid that we’ll pick up the paintbrush and ruin the picture.

But I like to think that God paints the background and then hands us the brush. I like to think He’d say, Here, I gave you the sunrise this morning and a place to be – now it’s your turn. Use what I’ve given you.

 I believe that God wants us to fulfill the desires of our hearts. I believe that when there is a stirring within your heart to change, or to act, that’s God supporting you with a fist bump and a raised sign that reads YOU GOT THIS. I don’t think it matters so much what we do as long as we are using our God-given gifts to do it.

If we give all the power to a position, or a job title, to be our ultimate life’s purpose, then we are not taking ownership for what we have to offer. I think your life’s purpose lies within you, like a secret weapon you can use practically anywhere you go. It’s the intangible things about you that make you who you are. It’s in the way you choose to show up, and how you love people. At funerals, nobody sits around talking about how great of a businessman or nurse people were – they may say that – but what that really means is that they loved people well. They found a way to do their job in the best way, while honoring people and showing up.

If you are unhappy with any part of your life, please, please change it. Cut off that negative person, quit your job, move. When I realized that I can’t screw up or find my purpose in things here because it was already given to me by the One who created me, not my job title, situation or the city I live in, my life began to make a lot more sense. Maybe we just need to know who we are, and show up tomorrow. Have courage, and don’t be afraid to pick up the paintbrush.

Xx

-Kayla

How I Found Self-Love In Stretchy Pants and Vinyasa (Whatever The Heck That Is?!)

I used to think that yoga was something that only really cool, hipster girls did surrounded by plants. I imagined that this kind of girl was totally chill in every sense of the word, and she probably had a long single braid down her back. She drank her coffee, black, at the same time every morning with her record player going in the background. She definitely meditated, even though at the time I only half believed that meditation was something that someone could actually do. Needless to say, I just did not believe that I was “one of those kinds of people”. Yoga wasn’t something I thought I would get anything out of. It wasn’t my “lifestyle”.

14 months ago I went through a break up that flipped my entire world upside down. Blindsided and 110% more emotional than I even knew I was capable of being, I went through some of the loneliest and most confusing days of my entire life. Eventually I was tired of being sad and in an attempt to move forward, I just started doing things. I bought a guitar. I started hanging out with new people. I took my little cousins skating. I fostered a dog. I prayed. I prayed a lot. And one day, I found myself at a yoga studio with a new friend.

It was an hour long class, and it was an easier session with a focus on meditation and stilling the mind. I remember feeling silly and embarrassed as I looked around at everyone else and changed my pose 15 seconds late because I didn’t know what a “vinyasa” was. My body protested against every movement, and I rediscovered my extreme lack of balance that night. Toward the end of the session, we laid on our backs and the instructor talked us through a meditation. Still the mind. Whatever you brought with you tonight, whatever you’ve been carrying, release it now. I let out a deep breath. In that moment I felt like I could loosen my grip on what I had been carrying. Deep Inhale; Deep Exhale. In the stillness of my mind, I felt God show up there. In the quiet between my scattered thoughts, it was as if he said to me, “Here I am, where you always leave me. Come back sometime.”

I started going every week after that. I would go to the studio, to my friend Sarah’s apartment and then to sessions at the local breweries. Yoga wasn’t, and still isn’t, easy for me. I wasn’t flexible, I couldn’t do any crazy poses, and I didn’t know all the yoga words. In those first few months I was existing in a haze of numbness and dull heartbreak. I would show up with my mat and my cheap yoga pants and a deep need to focus on something else. When I got on the mat, when I had to fight against my body and pay attention to my breathing and still my mind – I was doing something that I hadn’t done in so long – I was finally focusing on me. Every single part of me. I was finally giving myself the attention that I deserved from myself. You see, yoga isn’t some hard or complicated exercise – it is simply your body, your breath, and your mind. It is you. Everyone can show up with their body and a pair of stretchy pants and a willingness to learn. A willingness to get to know yourself. That’s all you need.

I think people think that they have to be a certain amount of flexible or athletic or “mindful” to practice yoga. I know I thought that. But I would argue that the more “inexperienced” you are at yoga, the more you will get out of it. Because you will learn the most about your body during that time, and you’ll be forced to face the thoughts your mind generates in idle moments. I am still learning so much from my time on the mat. I am learning to be patient with myself. I am learning when to push and when to be gentle. I can now fully appreciate my body, and better control my mind. I use my time on the mat to talk to God, and to receive His love for me in moments of meditation. I can now proudly say that yoga is not just for hippie girls with plants, yoga is for anyone who wants to know and love themselves better. Thank you for letting me share my heart with you.

…Namaste; Xx,

K