Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Irrational Fears

Fact: I'm scared of extremely stupid things.

This is a rather embarrassing fact about myself. Generally, I'm not scared of anything, and I mean anything. Trying gross foods? No problem. Creepy crawly/intimidating critters that fall into the "more scared of you than you are of them" category, like spiders, snakes, Grizzly bears or sharks? Bring it on. Even dangerous stunts, like skydiving or bungee jumping don't phase me.

But everyone has a few random strange fears. My boyfriend is convinced Bigfoot lives less than a mile from us, and a friend of his avoids sleeping over at our house because he thinks one of my cats is going to scratch his face off in the middle of the night. He'll pet them during the day, but for some reason as soon as the sun goes down he thinks they become rabid little beasts, like gremlins or something. As for myself, well, I admit I have a few unbelievably ridiculous things that terrify me. So here they are now:

My Top 3 Irrational Fears

3.) Being stranded in a car in 100 degree weather with no air conditioning or cracked windows. When I get into a car, I literally have to check to make sure there are no child locks so if there were a dramatic spike in temperature I'd still have a way out. I've had panic attacks over windows that have a slight delay before they roll down. I'm not kidding, folks. Heat + small space + no relief = instant crazy person.

2.) The old Burger King mascot. It's a guy in a king costume with a plastic face that hands out burgers. Come on people, it's one step away from a homicidal clown that hands out balloons and then follows you home and kills you in your sleep.

1.) People on television who seem to be speaking directly to me. For example, there's this new internet and cable company in Montana called Optimum. The main guy on all their commercials freaks me the hell out. He talks about how Optimum is here to serve me, then looks into my eyes and says, "In the coming weeks, I'll be back with more information." Except I hear, "In the coming weeks I'll slowly find my way to your house, and then one morning you'll walk out of your bedroom to find me sitting on your couch, wearing your high heels and holding a steak knife." I don't want him to be back. I want him to leave me alone and stop staring at me. If I ever actually see him in real life I'll genuinely think he's stalking me. I think he's stalking me right now, actually...creepy, creepy, Optimum commercial man...

So I'm sure there are a few more, but these are the basic ones. What are some of your irrational fears?

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Lesson 12: Fast Food Landmines Are Sneaky SOB's

Well today was the last 8 hour drive from just south of Denver, CO to Billings, MT, and with it came a very hard lesson of life: avoiding fast food on the road is near impossible.

If you've read my previous posts (Weight Loss from a Psych Point of View, Eating Healthy While Eating Out, etc) you'll know that I'm pretty savvy when it comes to the world of nutrition and weight loss decision making skills. My degrees in health and psychology have proved to be a useful combination.

But I'm also a hot-blooded woman, and when I'm stuck in a vehicle for 8 hours, I get hungry...for anything.

And therein lies the problem. For the most part, I can say no to the variety of fast food chains set before me. I can choose Subway over Burger King any day, but a road trip means I'm covering new territory, and I'm presented with new "exciting" food choices, like Long John Silvers.

See, we don't have a Long John Silvers in Montana, so it's as if the commercials that are constantly flashed in my face have been packed into my brain over the years, gradually creating an overload of whatever chemical it is that tells me I want deep fried shrimp, now. The sight of their billboard causes some kind of explosion in my mind that makes it difficult for me not to reach across and pull the steering wheel toward the exit ramp. There's no time to communicate my needs, and frankly, I don't think I'd be able to communicate them in a less than psychotic fashion anyway. So when my boyfriend inquired if I wanted to stop, he must have derived from the wide-eyed, nostril-flared drooling stare that the correct answer was to be parked out front of the seafood fast-food chain. To deny me at this point, would've been more than dangerous.

Now folks I haven't eaten fast-food in...wait for it...years. And why would I? I know exactly what I'm getting; a salty over processed, overpriced, synthetic-filled, parchment-lined basket of diabetes, high blood pressure and low self-esteem. And this is just within the first couple bites.

So why is it that I think I'm magically immune to all of these effects as soon as I find myself on an unfamiliar highway? Because I'm definitely not, and I know it. In fact, I think I'm even more susceptible to them. Nausea always seems to be accelerated when riding in a car 4 hours before the meal and 4 hours after is on the agenda.

Therefore, I ended up learning the hard way the lesson that I already knew. Fast-food is meant to draw you in, but the end result is always the same: you feel like crap. Mindless eating is the enemy of any healthy lifestyle. Ever eaten at a crappy restaurant that made you sick afterwards? Sure you have, we've all done it, but do you go back there on a regular basis? No, and you know why? Because they're not constantly trying to drag you in to give them a second chance. It's advertising, and I fall for it every time.

So I guess I'm saying I'm not perfect. I was fast-food sober for years, and blew it on a generic basket of oil-soaked shrimp-shaped regret. Now I'm cranky and am going to bed. Oh well, now I know better. Tomorrow is another chance to make the right choices, so I'll just have to look forward to that!

The Not-So-Secret Confessions of a First Time Mom

Friday, August 26, 2011

How To Choose The Right Career

I don't want the title of this post to throw you, I haven't found the secret to life or anything. But considering I had 8 hours of travel time on Sunday, then 13 on Wednesday (yes, we got a little lost) it's safe to say I've really had some time to really process everything that has happened in the last month or so. The sudden realization that I've been studying for a career I never intended on doing in the first place along with the embarrassing heart-pang of never even trying something I wanted to do made for some long (and I'm sure draining) conversations with my boyfriend.

But thankfully, they've been incredibly beneficial. He's not only supportive, but extremely intelligent. Plus his degree in Business gives him fantastic insight as to what it takes to make it in an industry, as most creative jobs are, where your ability to market yourself can mean sink or swim. So using my Master's in psychology, I did some homework and combined a few typical psychological exams with some basic discussion principles and came up with a quick way for you to figure out a job for yourself that would fit in with your daily life, you would be good at, and would also enjoy doing. Here's what was left:

1.) Have your closest friends and family members take the following survey. They have to know you extremely well, otherwise it's going to be all over the place. It's only four questions, and some of them may seem silly, so make sure they take it seriously. I've added some answers people said about me as possible examples.

1.) If you could choose 2 colors to describe me, what would they be and why? 

My Example: - Yellow and Orange, because I'm, "energetic, exciting, creative happy and bright".

2.) Of the following jobs, which would I be happiest in and which would I be the most miserable in. Why?

- Storm Chaser
- Lawyer
- Teacher/Coach
- Accountant
- Salesmen/Real Estate Agent
- Artist/Writer
- Sculptor/Mechanic/Carpenter
- Masseuse/Physical Therapist/Yoga Instructor
- Carpenter/Oil Driller/Fisherman

My Example: “Best would be Storm Chaser, because you like to do things that are a little dangerous, and you’re kinda crazy. Or a writer. You're good at telling stories. Worst would be salesman, I don’t think you would be good at pushing people to buy something they don’t need. You would feel bad.”

3.) List 3 things that would describe my perfect vacation day ever and 3 things that would describe my worst vacation day ever. Why these things?

My Example: “Best would be 1.) Going somewhere new that you’ve never seen before, 2.) Doing something that would give you an adrenaline rush, like bungee jumping or swimming with sharks or something, and 3.) Having someone there to share it with. Worst would be 1.) Having to stay in one place, like going somewhere but everyone wanted to just lay by the pool all day because you would probably want to explore. 2.) Having some kind of schedule or routine you had to stick to because you would probably get distracted or want to do something else, and 3.) Being somewhere super hot and having no way to cool down, because you’re weird like that.”

4.) List 3 of my strengths and 3 of my weaknesses, as they can be applied to anything.

My Example: “Three strengths would be 1.) You’re hardworking and kind of stubborn. Once you set your mind to something it gets done. 2.) You’re really good at telling stories or describing things, and 3.) You’re good at connecting with people. Three weaknesses would be 1.) You get bored really easily, 2.) You tend to follow your own agenda. You get frustrated if you think you can do a job better a different way. 3.) You have a lot of things running through your head and pulling you in different directions.” 

2.) Now list off what you wanted to be when you were little along with any job you would want to have now. Include anything you might consider a “pipe-dream”. And don’t worry if the list is long.

My Example: Writer, Actor, Journalist, Photographer, Marine Biologist, Zookeeper, Horse Trainer, Astronaut, Linguist, Musician, Film Composer, Chef, Food Critic, Artist (Painter), Sculptor, Animal Petter (hey I thought it was a real job), Storm Chaser, Cartoonist, Costume Designer, Veterinarian, Professional Athlete, Adventure Guide, Pilot, Florist, Cake Decorator, Scuba Dive Instructor, and there’s even more.

3.) Now list you’re current non-negotiable commitments, or things that you are absolutely not willing to change. These aren’t things that you can’t afford to do, or don’t know how to do, like your current job or location; you can change those things. These are more along the lines of, “I want to be close to my mother during her last days” or “I’m 55 and don’t want to jeopardize too much of my savings/retirement fund”.

My Example: I don’t want to move. I would like to travel, of course, but I still want my permanent home to be here in Billings. I’m also not willing to do anything that puts unnecessary strain on my relationship with my boyfriend (like housing 30 ferrets), or take on something that meant I couldn’t start a family in the next few years. In addition, I don't want to go back to school right now. I currently have three degrees and I need to put them to use before I get another one.

4.) Now cross off jobs on that list that would interfere with those commitments. This shouldn’t hurt too badly if you listed commitments you are honestly not willing to change. It might help to make a list of pros and cons, like this:                        

                      Job                                                Pros                                                 Cons
--Do something different everyday
--Get to be creative in generating new characters
--Not a lot of work in Billings, MT
--99.9% of Actors are unemployed
--Get to work with animals everyday
--Pays well
--Have to go through a lot of schooling
--Would have to euthanize
Professional Athlete
--Awesome Pay
--Play a game for a living
--Not talented enough
--Would have to move: MT has no professional teams
--Make jokes for a living
--Get to draw and color all day
--Can’t draw cartoons very well
--Doesn’t pay very well
Food Critic
---Get to taste food
---Get to write
--Would need to attend more school, not knowledgeable enough about how to use my palate
--Might have eat some disgusting stuff

What am I left with? 

Writer, Actor, Journalist, Photographer, Marine Biologist, Zookeeper, Horse Trainer, Astronaut, Linguist, Musician, Film Composer, Chef, Food Critic, Artist (Painter), Sculptor, Animal Petter (hey I thought it was a real job), Storm Chaser, Cartoonist, Costume Designer, Veterinarian, Professional Athlete, Adventure Guide, Pilot, Florist, Cake Decorator, Scuba Dive Instructor.
5.) Now let’s apply the results from the earlier survey to the jobs I have left.
Writer, Journalist, Photographer, Horse Trainer, Food Critic, Artist (Painter), Sculptor, Adventure Guide, Florist, Cake Decorator.

My Example: Fortunately, all of these jobs fit pretty well with my survey results. They all revolve around doing something creative and different every day. Plus they are all basically independent in nature. I doubt I’m going to find a job in the paper hiring for an artistic painter anytime soon.
6.) Now use common sense. Honestly, I have no experience as a Sculptor or Painter (even though I enjoy doing them) and there’s no way I could hold myself out as an Adventure Guide, I don’t have near the qualifications or the knowledge.
So what have I settled on pursuing? Primarily photography and writing (going back to my photojournalism roots). Yes, I understand that this is an expensive and difficult route (paid photographers make less than actors, on average) but it’s something I’ve been passionate about for years, as well as something I feel I would excel at. Having my own business (or working as a freelance writer) would allow me the freedom to make my own decisions, as well as the opportunity to be outside and travel.
7. So next comes the to-do list: 1. I need a new camera. Mine broke years ago and I’ve been scrounging with its remaining functions to just get average pictures. 2. I need experience, so last week I went door to door to every photographer in town asking if they needed an assistant. I explained that I would work for free, and after 2 days I found one willing to work with me. Check. 3. I need to come up with some kind of plan that breaks my goals into achieveable steps. 

8. The last step is the plan. Personally, since I need a camera and experience I plan on still working at the psych center while looking for writing jobs and saving up money for that damn camera. In order to be considered a full-time writer, I need to be able to make enough money, weekly, that is at least equivalent to a paycheck I receive at the psych center.
Okay folks, so this has definitely been one of the longest posts I’ve ever written. Let me know if you use this slimmed down method to evaluate your own career decisions!

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