Monday, August 19, 2013

Crisis Mode

This post is more for me than it is for you. I'm kind of having a breakdown today and starting to cry and freak out about leaving. I want to go to Florida so bad, and I really think I'll be happy there, but there is so much that I don't want to let go.
  • Family: eating dinner with them, going to the diner with them, spontaneous trips to Longwood Gardens and the shore, looking at Christmas lights with my dad, my mom's holiday decorations (especially the Halloween village), outdoor parties at Eric's grandparents' house... everything.
  • Friends: going crazy with my Mintie loves whenever we reunite, buddy shots and board games with Linds and that crew, my coworkers, even going to annoying Landmark with people. I better find cheap u-call-its in Florida to ease the pain of leaving these people...
  • Diego and Binx acting like lunatic cats.
  • Autumn: changing leaves, crisp air, that feeling where it's cool enough to snuggle up with s'mores and hot cider but not cold enough to hate my life.
  • Bakeries. Do they have bakeries in Florida? Like I'm talking about Aversa's and Liscio's, not the bakery in Publix. I want some damn homemade cannolis, cakes, and doughnuts...
  • Junk food. I know they have junk in Florida, but not the junk I like. I don't want Paula Deen's southern junk. I want cheesesteaks, Tastycakes, pretzels, GOOD pizza, diners, the Pop Shop, and Italian food that is not from Olive Garden.
  • The smell of the outside. Um no, I'm not referring to how everyone thinks Jersey "smells bad," because it doesn't. At least not until you're on the Turnpike in North Jersey... ANYWAY, I am referring to the smell of the woods when I'm walking the trails in Washington Lake Park, or even just sitting in my back yard. The trees and grass are different here. What do palm trees smell like? I don't know, but they don't smell like the forests of the northeast.
  • Cold weather at Christmas... "... Did she just complain about not having cold weather?" Yes, yes I did. But only ON CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS. Not the day before Christmas Eve, or after Christmas. I can easily solve this problem by coming up to NJ every Christmas (with a nice tan ;) ).
  • My childhood home. My room with all my snow globes and hundreds of books. But I'd be leaving that anyway in a year, I guess.
  • Being close to Philly, DC, Baltimore, and NYC.
  • The shore. I don't care how nice Florida is with its beaches and boats and tiki bars. Nothing can replace the boardwalk, the view of AC from 32nd street beach, the Longport smiley face water tower, walking to Maynard's, and Junior's corn dogs.
Okay, now here's what I have to look forward to:
  • THE SUN. WARMTH. ALL YEAR ROUND. I will never feel bitter cold to the bone. I will want to get out of bed every day. REMEMBER THIS, LAUREN, when you are freaking out about leaving NJ.
  • Clear, blue water. Tropical fish in that water. Dolphins in that water! And sharks. But that's cool. And the water washes up some awesome shells on the beach. I brought home shells in July when I visited, and my mom asked if I bought them. NOPE, just picked em up on the beach!
  • Boats. Taking the boats on trips. Taking the boats to sandbars with a cooler full of drinks and food. I was meant to be on boats.
  • Tiki bars. Like really, they have Seacrets-like places just chillin around town.
  • Delicious food. Sure, it's not the food that I'm used to, but it's good. Fresh seafood, lots of Mexican, Hispanic, and Carribbean-influenced food, Southern food. Yummy food. I bet I can get some GOOD key lime pie there!
  • Beautiful scenery: palm trees, mangroves, the blue ocean, the architecture there. It's like a tropical paradise, only it's still in the U.S. How convenient!
  • Cheap flights to the Carribbean... and a ferry to the Bahamas. Seriously.
  • New cities to explore! I'm within driving distance of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, even Tampa if I want to dedicate some time, and Orlando, which brings me to my next point...
  • DISNEY WORLD!!!!!!!! Any time I want!!!!!!!!! My god, I can not wait to go to Disney again. With Eric and Kristin and Ben! Last time I was there was senior trip. Kristin had already moved to Florida by then, and she came to see me and Danielle at Magic Kingdom. It was the first time I ever met Ben, too! Such good memories, and now I will be able to bring Eric with us and be in the HAPPIEST PLACE ON EFFING EARTH with the person who makes me the happiest! And we can go whenever we want. You better believe I'm investing in season passes if I live in Florida permanently.
  • Slower pace. For someone with serious anxiety, I think the slower pace of life is going to be good for me. Let's just sit on a boat in the middle of the ocean and chill with some drinks, man.
  • Cheaper cost of living, which will be seriously helpful for me and Eric.
Okay, I feel a lot better now after talking about all the things I will love about Florida. Eric has been calling me, and texting, but not very often. You know why? Because he's having the time of his effing life. He tells me every day how much he's been loving it there. He's excited about his new job, he's getting along well with Kristin and Ben, and he just loves the environment and culture. Now if HE loves it so much, despite the heat, I'm pretty sure I will be insanely happy as well. It's just going to take some getting used to. Man, I'll really miss cheesesteaks...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Breaking the News to the Girls

Tonight at work, I told the girls that I was done in three weeks. A lot of people can just give their job two weeks notice, slack off for their last few days, and tell their coworkers to keep in touch. In my field of work, things are much different when you need to leave. You aren't just leaving a company and coworkers. You are leaving clients, who may view you as an important part of their lives and mental stability. You need to make sure you give enough notice to them, so they can prepare for your departure, and give enough notice to your coworkers so they can prepare for the aftermath of your departure. You never know how clients are going to react.

I don't have clients, but I spend at least 40 hours a week with the girls that live in this psychiatric home. Some people might turn their nose up at my job and view it as not good enough for someone with a Masters degree, but I think it's been one of the best work experiences of my life in this field. Yeah, I could be making a shit ton more money. I'm not diagnosing people or anything, but I'm getting to know these girls, spending time with them in their day to day lives, and I really feel like it's given me a better understanding of where clients are coming from. I know them better than the clients I met with for only 45 minutes a week.

Anyway, one of the girls cried but said she was excited for me, and the other girl said she was going to cry and tackle me when I tried to leave on my last day... I believe it. The third girl, who I just met today, almost cried and said she was so upset because she had been looking forward to meeting me since she was admitted last week, and I seemed so nice and now I'm leaving.

This is why I do what I do. I obviously don't want them to be upset, but this kind of reaction lets me know that I actually made a difference. I am someone they trust and like being around, which these girls can't say very often about people in their lives. I always try to make these situations learning experiences. You know, people come and people go, relationships ending are a part of life, even good relationships end, etc. The girls were pretty good about it after they got done being upset. They asked me a lot of questions about why I'm going and where I'm moving to, and if I'll miss them and this job, and it got me thinking...

I really am going to miss this job. As shitty as the hours and scheduling are, and as disorganized as things may seem sometimes, I am really really going to miss working with these girls. And I'm going to miss my coworkers/friends. We started this place up together and made it happen. I hate that I'm leaving it right now, when it's still getting off the ground.

I'm going to have to turn moving to Florida into a therapeutic learning experience for myself, because as much as I want to go live in the sunshiney paradise with Eric (he's there RIGHT NOW!!!), I do NOT handle change well. I guarantee I will be crying my eyes out when I leave. But that's life, and you'll never get anywhere if you don't accept endings and turn them in to new beginnings.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Say Yes to the Dress!

Quick, important life update:

I found THE dress! My WEDDING dress!

It really is like what people say. When you know, you know. You have that reaction. I didn't expect to, especially since this was my first time ever going dress shopping, but I definitely did.

It was just my mom and I, which I was a little nervous about, but it was really great. I thought I would want more people's opinions, but the lady at the store said it's better to just have one or two people max.

I tried on about 5 dresses. One that I thought I would love, I didn't like at all on me. One that I thought I wouldn't be thrilled with was ALMOST the dress. My mom cried when she saw me in it, and I loved it. But the last one I tried on was IT. I loved it on the hanger when she pulled it out in the beginning, and I think she knew to save the best for last. She hadn't seen it on anyone yet, because it had just come in, so she was excited to see it on someone too.

Anyway, I put it on and cried as soon as I stepped out. So did my mom. I tried the other one on again, just to make sure I didn't want it. I loved it, but it just wasn't me. The one I ended up getting was very me. You'll all just have to wait a year to see what it looks like :)

One more task checked off the wedding checklist!

Sunshine Bound

I quit my job.


I have done a lot of things in life. I've traveled to Europe without my family. I've flown cross-country and nearly had my luggage sent to the wrong place on a connecting flight. I've run a half-marathon. I've made friends with homeless addicts in Baltimore during my quest to get my Masters degree (I survived the streets and graduated with my M.S. in Counseling Psychology, go me!). I've even walked a mile and a half in snow up to my waist in a state of emergency, just to get some good Chinese food.

Never have I quit my job and up and moved a thousand miles away from the dirty Jerz, not knowing what life has in store for me.

I'm a pretty cautious person. Spontaneous to a degree, but I think every major decision through. So I find it kind of strange that, after thinking THIS situation through, I decided that the best route for me to take is the route of not knowing.

This is how I got to this point in my life:

I met my fiancé, Eric, when I was 21 years old in my senior year at University of Delaware. After some ups and downs and surviving a long-distance relationship for two and a half years, I moved back to New Jersey from Baltimore, where I had moved to get my Masters degree. I had always planned to come back to New Jersey anyway, but it made our relationship that much stronger to actually be able to spend time with each other. Plus, I got a job in NJ as a part-time outpatient therapist for children, and this past April, I got a full-time job as a psychiatric community home counselor. It has been a great experience to live a day-to-day life with these teenage girls and REALLY get to know them well.

Blah blah blah, we were very happy together and he proposed this past June 14th, 2013, at my family's shore house in Longport. Just the two of us, sitting in the kitchen after a nice dinner out. It was perfect.

Shortly after that, we took a trip down to Florida to visit my best friend, Kristin, who Eric had never met in our 3+ years of dating. Kristin moved to Florida when we were 15. Not gonna lie, it pretty much sucked living away from one of your best friends for 10 years. We've visited each other several times since she moved, the last time being 3 years ago when she got married to Ben. I was a bridesmaid. It was fun :)

ANYWAY, Eric is quite a talented graphic designer and very smart with technology, but he hadn't been able to truly break into that field in terms of getting a steady job. Freelancing is cool and all, but what do you know, Kristin's husband Ben works at a growing web development company! They set Eric up with an interview while we were visiting. Lo and behold, Eric was offered a 3-month internship, where he will train as a front end developer and graphic designer. After the internship, if all goes smoothly, he will be offered a full-time position at the company.

Less than two months after getting engaged, here we are, quitting our stable jobs and moving to Florida! Luckily, both of our supervisors were very cool and supportive about the whole thing. You may be asking yourself, "What the hell are they thinking?" Well first of all, we're thinking that Eric would kick himself if he didn't go for this opportunity. He really, really, wants this. I'd move to Nebraska if it meant he was pursuing his dream job. This job just happens to be in Florida. But also, you have to understand that this is pretty much my dream come true, to live in a place NAMED AFTER THE SUN. Ah, the Sunshine State. How could anything ever go wrong there?....

Okay, I know there are bad things about Florida, just like there are anywhere. But there is NO SNOW. NO TRUE COLD. Do you know what that means? Less depression for me from November - March. Less anxiety. I'm a therapist, but I'm a person just like anyone else, and everyone has their own issues. Mine happen to be the weather having an extreme pull on my mental state. No clue why. Just the way I am.

Other pros of the Sunshine State: palm trees, boats, beaches, snorkeling, awesome seafood, living near one of my best friends after 10 years of separation, lots of opportunities for me to work in substance abuse rehabilitation centers.

But there are also so many things I will miss about my home state: family and friends obviously, people pumping my gas for me (hah), the change from summer into autumn, crisp air, changing leaves, the Jersey shore (even a Florida beach can't replace it), Philly sports, and most importantly, FOOD. Just kidding... sort of. I'm actually really nervous about how I'll handle the lack of good pizza and cheesesteaks. Maybe I'll start leading a healthier lifestyle? Let's try to be optimistic here...

You may have picked up on the part about Eric and I being engaged. Yes, we are still doing the wedding in Jersey. How are we going to plan a wedding from a thousand miles away? Good question. Eric leaves on Monday, I leave in a few weeks, and we are jam-packing our schedule NOW to interview wedding vendors before we both leave the area. We booked the venue and we're meeting with photographers this week. I'll probably check out a florist after he goes, and I'm going wedding dress shopping TODAY (I'll let you know how THAT goes...). The whole point of a wedding is to celebrate the joining of two people in love. We aren't traditional people. We don't need a perfect traditional wedding. I have faith that we will make the wedding "us", and it will be perfect to us, even if we plan it from Florida. All we really need is each other and all our family and friends to be there, and that will make it perfect *cue sappy music*.

Ugh, sorry, guys. I'm done. I won't always write this much. That's just how this crazy chapter in our lives has opened. I feel like everything is completely different from what I imagined life would be like at 25. But this is good for me. I need to learn to let go and just take life each day as it comes. I'm excited for the future, even though I have no clue what's coming next. That's kind of what makes this whole experience fun :)