Sunday, August 23, 2015

3 lessons I learned from my divorce

Divorce sucks!!! My divorce ripped away the very fabric of who I was and who I thought that would be. I lost friends, family, and money, but like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes after the storm has passed this is a great time for me to reflect on my life. Please watch my video to learn about the lessons that I learned from my divorce.

After watching please like, share, and comment about what lessons have you learned from hard times in your life. Let's use these lessons to become better and to make better decision in the future!

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Standing strong when you have to stand alone

“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself.” 
― Harvey Fierstein

If you have been following me for a while then you know that I am a vegan. Being a vegan is a very important part of who I am. It influences what I eat, where I shop, and what forms of entertainment that I follow. People always ask me what the hardest part of being a vegan is. Is it the food? Not being able to wear leather? Do you miss zoos? What most people are surprised to find out is that dealing with other people is the hardest part of being a vegan. Standing alone in a room full of meat eaters. Staying calm and confident while I sometimes had to defend myself and my beliefs against people who either I expected to support me or from complete strangers who feel that my ordering a veggie burger was somehow a personal attack against them.

If you every made the decision to go against the grain then you probably have some experience with this. You made a decision to do something, ANYTHING, different and to some people it’s as though you have renounced your religion. The thing is, that if you want to make a change in your life you are going to have to get comfortable with standing alone.

Right now people know you by who you always been. For the majority of my life I have been the “nice” one. The one who never put up a fight, the one who never spoke her mind, the one who was worried soooooo much about what other people thought that I kept quiet to make them feel better. That person was unhappy because she felt like no one really knew her. She felt like she was surrounded by people who didn’t really love her. And how could they? She never really let them know her. My first act of rebellion came when I became vegan. I final decided to completely overhaul my life choices to live in a way that was truly aligned with my beliefs. And you know what happened? I spent a lot of time standing alone. Sure I had some people support me, but in the end the decision to stop using animals was MY decision and I had to stand on my own two feet and take off the mask of the person who I was trying to be. Friends, family, and strangers made fun of me. They thought that my decision wouldn’t last. They criticized my choices. At times I tried to shove my decisions down their throat. At times I got so angry because I wanted them, no I needed them to support me. I needed their support to validate my choice.

I have been vegan for 6 years now and let’s just say I don’t need anyone’s support to know that I am living the best life for me. You want to know what’s interesting though? Because I stopped seeking out the approval of others I have much more support than I ever had. And because I have been through the firing squad of judgement, I am no longer afraid to speak up for myself.

So how does that happen? How do you stand strong even if you have to stand alone? Get comfortable with discomfort. Who you are at this moment is comfortable not only to you but to those around you. People expect you to act a certain way. Humans are creatures of habit and you have to understand that when you make the decision to do something different you are going to upset status quo. So sit with the discomfort. Don’t use the feeling of fear to run back to your safe space. One way to get comfortable with discomfort is to try something new. Go to the movies alone. Learn a new language or a new dance. Do something……ANYTHING new and you will realize that, “Oh my goodness what the fuck am I doing” feeling isn’t so bad and you won’t die from butterflies is your stomach and doing something new isn’t so bad.

You also have to understand that people’s critique of you is rarely about you and it’s mostly about them. Your choice to be different is probably highlighting the fact that they are not (look at my Psychology degree being put to good use) and its easier to lash outwards than it is to look inwards. It’s okay. If they love you and truly care about you, then they will come around. They will respect your courage to go after what you want and you never know, they could one day be asking you to help them make some positive changes in their life. 

Mahatma Ghandhi is quoted as saying, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Notice how the first 3 steps have you standing alone, but it is worth it for the last one. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Welcome to my YouTube channel: No Box Needed

If you wait until the perfect time, You will wait forever to begin.

I have had a couple of YouTube channels in my social media lifespan. I wanted to jump back in, but I wanted to wait until "the right time". When I had a better camera, when I had the perfect background, when I got more sleep, when my blog reached a certain number of followers, etc. You know what happens though when you wait until the perfect time? You wait FOREVER because time is never perfect. Sometimes you just have to prepare as much as possible, then just jump in adjusting the sails as you go.  

I hope that you enjoy my new YouTube. The same great topics of learning to live an authentic life, but in a different media. Like, subscribe, and share and lets find out what it means to live life outside the box together!!!

Friday, July 17, 2015

What I learned from 1 year of unemployment

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."

It was the year 2014. I had been divorced for a couple of years and I decided to leave my job for what I thought was a better opportunity. It was not and I ended up basically unemployed for a year. It was the lowest of the low for me. Not only was I a divorcee, but I now was unable to even get a job. I moved in with my mother who luckily did not charge me rent, but realistically was not the person with whom I had the best relationship with especially when we had to live under the same roof. I had a son who although lives with his father, I of course still had a financial responsibility for. I was also broke, in debt, and had no savings. I signed up with a temp. agency who luckily was able to assign me to short term gigs. I worked in office for a couple of hours and in some for a couple of days and even one for several months. Answering phones, making copies, keeping the seat warm for the person whose job I was filling for. Looking back I honestly I don’t know how I took care of myself those first few months.

Sometimes it is hard to see the lessons when you are in the mist of the storm. So hard to see clearly when your eyes are blinded by the tears of anger, frustration and hopeless. But like one of my favorite songs says, “I can see clearly not that the rain is gone.” Now that that storm is behind me I am able to see what the period in my life had taught me and maybe it in turn can help you during your gloomy time.

1. You really find out what you want out of life

You are already without a job so why not spend this time really trying to figure what you want to do with your life or at least what type of job that you want next? I applied to over 100 of jobs during my year and 90% of them were jobs where I had not passion or interest in. I felt like that really hindered my job hunt because employers are looking are your resume thinking and knowing that you are just looking for a “job”. And if you do happen to get an interview and they ask you that question, “Why do want to work here?” answering “Because you are hiring and I have bills” is not the best answer. It wasn’t until I got super clear about what type of the job that I wanted next that I got an interview a job offer for the exact job that I wanted. What I wanted in my ideal position:

§  Non-profit for an animal or environmental protection organization
§  Casual dress code
§  Supervisors who do not micro manage
§  Intelligent and fun co-workers
§  I wanted to work in downtown so that no matter were in the city I moved it would be easy for me to get to
§  I wanted to get paid more than I ever have
§  I wanted to utilize my executive assistant skills, but I wanted to assistant the executive team of the organization
§  A role were I had some say in how my responsibilities were performed.

I kid you not my current role has all (plus more) of these requirements. Get real clear on what you want in your next job, apartment, school, relationship. If you don’t know what you want how do you expect to get it? You this time to rebuild yourself. 

2. You really find out what you need to live

When you have an extreme cut in pay for a long time if you are smart you will reduce all your extra expenses. For one year I lived without internet. I utilized the internet at the offices were I worked, the bookstore, the library and the local coffee houses. The library literally became my best friend. Free books and movies!! Job hunting without the internet was not always fun or convenient, but when you are not sure when a steady flow of income is coming in, if you legally can get it for free somewhere then you shouldn’t be paying for it.

Another side benefit is that once you get back on your feet, you will really appreciate everything that you have more. After living with family for over two years, having my own apartment is freaking AWESOME!!!! I recently moved and all that I have in my own place is a bed and two chairs, but every time I walk into my apartment I smile because I know the work that I did to get it. Every time I write my rent check I don’t complain at the amount because I remember where I was a year ago.

3. You really find out how strong you are

Taking care of my child and myself for one year without a steady stream of income was a miracle, but like the saying goes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and stronger I am. I know that everything that I went through: the 100’s of applications, the interviews, the rejections, the exhaustion, the anger, the despair, the night of just walking in the door breaking down crying because I felt like I couldn’t deal with life, and the days where all I could do was just put one foot in front of another all showed me how strong a person I am. I have clawed myself out from the (hopefully) lowest part of my life and I am still standing. When I think to myself how far I have come from this time last year, I just think to myself, “Good fucking job Leolin!!!!Now you are ready for the next challenge in your life.”

Every challenge in life brings you lessons that although you wish you didn’t have to go through, you are glad that you did because it made you stronger, wisher, and tougher. Single or as a parent, feeling as though you are unable to provide for yourself and for your family is a very hard thing to deal it. It bangs up your self-esteem. For me it made me dig down into the soul of who I am and fight daily to just not give up. To put one foot in front of the other and hold on. Because sometimes holding on is all that you can do. So just hold on…….

Me at one of my temp jobs. You can't see it but there is a bruise on my forehead from banging my head against the desk out of boredom. 

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Today's Quote

"You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches."

― Dita Von Teese

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

From Mrs. to Ms: My name change

“If I am going to tell a real story, I am going to start with my name”-Kendrick Lamar

 Almost three years ago, I became divorced. Last month I changed my last name back to my maiden name. This was the last move in my transition away from my identity as a married woman and then as a woman who had been married. Now I am "just" a woman. My identity is no longer tied to my relationship status and I do not have to explain to people where my last name comes from. On a side note, I learned the phrase, "Mi nombre es de mi ex-meido" so I could reply in Spanish, “My name is from my ex-husband.” My ex-husband has moved on and so have I. We are a parenting unit to our son, but we are no longer a Mr. and Mrs. 

I do not know of one single woman who has gotten a divorce and has changed her name back to her maiden name. Whether or not they have a kid, every woman that I know who has went from a Mrs. to a Ms. has chosen to keep the name of her ex-husband. My mother, other family members, several friends, famous ex-wives, and associates. So why did I decide to not follow that path?

To be honest for two out of the past three years I was planning on keeping my last name. I wanted to have the same last name of my son and I had a fear that if we did not have the same last names, I would somehow lose my identity as his mother. I also told myself that I had built this life under my married name and I did not want to do all the work that I felt that I would have to do to change it. Also I has spent two years rebuilding myself physical, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally after my divorce, that my name was the last thing on my mind.

But about a year ago my maiden name had started to call me. Maybe I was getting tired of explaining my name. I had been divorced for 2 years and yet I still had to talk about my ex-husband almost weekly. I bet he did not have to explain that he had been married before every time he told someone his name.  Also the universe had started sending me signals. All of a sudden different people would ask me why I didn’t change my name back and I started to read about other woman who had gone back to their maiden names.

I had started to think that this would be the best time to do it. I am in grad school and having my maiden name on both my Bachelors and Masters degrees would be awesome. I have started to do more writing and anything that I am going to have published I would like to have my name on it. I also wanted to get a new passport and it would be such a pain to get one and then have to have it updated if I decided to change my last name later.

The one thing that constantly prevented me from moving forward was this fear of loss of my identity as a mother. I realized that that fear wasn’t really valid. If I went back to my maiden name, my son wouldn’t all of a sudden forget who I was. Also he is only 5 and he just started to realize that my name wasn’t really “Mommy”. I even stated to think about the single mothers who I knew who had never been married. Some of their children had their fathers last name and there was a never an issue. This fear was so big that I even consulted a lawyer. I asked, “Could you think of any negative consequences that could happened if I did not have the same last name of my children”. She answered, “No”.

Great! So I had made the decision to change my name. I told very few friends or family, I didn’t even tell my parents, so I could keep myself from hearing their opinions. My decision is my decision. I am not looking for validation or criticism from others. My last hurdle was thinking about the cost and time that it would take for me to change my name. I was truly wrong about this as well. In my divorce decree I was given the option to go back to my maiden name if I wanted too. I found out that even though my divorce happened 3 years ago, all I had to do was take my divorce decree to the Secretary of State and they would change it on my license. I could then take it and my new license to the Social Security office and change it there. With those 2 IDs I could update my name anywhere else. In an hour the last chapter on my old life was written.

This was the perfect time in my life to do this. During my divorce the pain was too raw. It would have been too hard to repeatedly tell strangers that I changed my last name because I had gotten divorced. They say that time heals all wounds and in this situation that is true. There has been enough distance, time, and self-work done so that I could get to a place where I am strong enough reclaim my own name.

This decision may not be for everyone and I am in no way judging women who decide to keep their husbands name. This is just what is best for me and maybe through my story women will know that there is another option.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Today's Quote

"I think the that reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except for yourself."

  -Rita Mae Brown

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