A Different Tune

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This morning, I created a Linkin Park playlist on Spotify (but if you’re on my Facebook, you already know this.) Linkin Park got me through a lot of bad days in high school, and my early 20s. There was also a bit of Godsmack and KMFDM mixed in there, but Linkin Park was it.

If I had a bad day at school, I would listen to Linkin Park on the way home. If I was frustrated at work, I’d be blasting Linkin Park on my iPod during my break.

If things were bad at home…well, you get the picture.

I wanna run away
Never say goodbye
I wanna know the truth
Instead of wondering why
I wanna know the answers
No more lies
I wanna shut the door
And open up my mind

Back in those days, Linkin Park (and the other artists) calmed my nerves. The music hit home, every time, and made me feel like I wasn’t so alone.

Obviously, things have changed in my life since those days. I still have my bad days, and there are still mornings I wake up frustrated but it’s not on even remotely on the same level.

So why Linkin Park this morning?

Because the songs have a deeper meaning for me. They give me a different kind of motivation – not one filled with angst but promise.  The songs still hit home but not as close as they used to and they hold a special place in my heart.  The motivation that this familiar music brings me is one that keeps me moving forward. Strangely, I don’t listen to Linkin Park when I’m upset or feeling like I’m losing control anymore.

I will never know myself until I do this on my own
And I will never feel anything else, until my wounds are healed
I will never be anything till I break away from me
I will break away, I’ll find myself today

No, it’s a completely different tune for me now. One of familiarity, hope and a reminder that things have gotten better so it’s not pointless to move forward.

Guessing that it’s better I can’t keep myself together
Because all of this stress gave me something to write on
The pain gave me something I could set my sights on
Never forget the blood sweat and tears
The uphill struggle over years the fear

Are there any songs that used to mean different things to you in the past that bring out different feelings at this point in your life?

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Loss of Control

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That feeling. That crushing feeling swept over me the other day.

I can’t do this. I’LL JUST GET A REAL JOB.

I yelled that in my apartment. (Sorry Layla).

It was around this time last year that the unemployment was really starting to hit me and I was losing faith in myself. I pushed through then, and I pushed through this week but that feeling? It’s the worst.

My heart felt overwhelmed with doubt. My entire spirit was spinning out of control, because I’d given up control.

Once again, I let things that were out of my control get the best of me, making me retreat into my head. I felt like I had lost control of everything, including my motivation, creativity and most of all, life.

The reality is that things are good. I’m being challenged, and I won’t fool anyone by saying that this whole being a full-time freelancer deal is easy. It’s nerve-wrecking at times.

(Try planning a wedding at the same time you decide to flip your life upside down)

But I’ve been really good at staying on top of it, and not letting the crushing fear get me down. I worked my ass off to get to this point, and I know I can do this.

Well, I didn’t feel it the other day, because control was completely gone. Everything that overwhelmed me outside of my control suddenly took over my psyche. My heart. My life.

I began to shut down, slowly.

Good thing it was slowly, because I snapped out of it. The crushing feeling lasted about 24 hours, and I actively dug myself out from under it.

I let myself have a day. A day of being unmotivated. A day of saying “Eff this.” A day of retreat.

That day is gone. Retreat is over.

I’m back on the offense, feeling strong. Let’s crush it.

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Sleepover, A Runaway Dog & Spongebob

“Would you have thought this moment would happen 2 years ago?”

As we stood in my room at my parents’ new place Saturday night, my insightful fiance asked me that question.

The answer is “No.”

Because we were staying the night at my parents’ for Father’s Day weekend. If you’ve known me for even 6 months, you know what a big deal this is.  Hell, if you’ve had an overnight trip with your significant other for the first time with your/his/her parents, you know what a big deal this is.

So this was a big deal. (In case you missed it).

We drove up after Andrew got off work Saturday night & were up there around 11 pm. The surprise of the weekend wasn’t how awkward it was but how much Andrew fit in with my family. We sat around the table, teaching Andrew how to play Rummikub (Which is kind of a big deal in Turkey) and it was a  peaceful sight.

Andrew fit in with my family*. In his own goofy way.

When I went to bed that night (In my own room while Andrew slept in my brother’s room because whoa, one step at  a time people), I was at peace.

The next day, the dog ran away.

The little bugger figured out how to get out of her collar and ran away when she was supposed to be peeing. WHOOPS. If you’ve never seen a young Siberian Husky run, they run FAST.  My bro & Dad looked for her on foot, and after a couple of minutes, Andrew & I decided to look for her with the car. It was my dad that found her but whoo, that was quite an adventure.

What? I'm not planning anything.

Never a dull moment with my family!

Then I found my old Spongebob visor from middle/high school, which I had to wear in the pictures we took at the end of the day before Andrew & I headed back. Those were the only pictures we took all weekend, which a shame because the Godfather card Andrew gave my dad for Father’s Day was epic.

Just like this first weekend with my family.

Maybe next time Andrew & I can sleep in the same room when we visit my parents.

Not the same bed of course, until after we get married.


My boys.
With my boys. (And Spongebob)

How was your Father’s Day weekend?


Not the actual card but you get the idea.


*I did have a moment and thought about whether or not any of the men in my past would’ve fit in with my family like Andrew does. The answer is “No.”


Forgiveness to Passion – 5 Years

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years? (Author: Corbett Barr)

Today’s prompt is eerily timed because 5 years ago today was one of the worst days of my life.

Dear Berrak,

I know the anxiety you feel right now. The events that will unfold today will make this the worst day of your life (so far in your life). It will break you & it will tear apart your heart when you see the scene unfolding in front of you tonight. You’ll blame yourself for months (even years to come). Don’t. I can’t stop you from doing what you’re about to do. You feel lost, with no way out. While this won’t be your way out, and in fact, it will keep you trapped for months, you will be OK.

Every bad moment in your life has been a turning point. You’re strong enough to move past this and heal, even if at times, you feel the opposite. You have people who love you, no matter what. I can promise you that your life doesn’t get easier right away but the pieces fall into place. You grow up.

And Dad forgives you.

That’s the most important thing you have to remember. He forgives you. No matter how much guilt you feel in the upcoming days – weeks – months and even years, just remember that he forgives you.

It’s been 5 years to the day and the most important thing I can tell you is this: I forgive you.

Just keep breathing.



Dear Mrs. O’Brien,

First of all, I WANT TO SEE THE WEDDING PICTURES.  Did it turn out to be as much fun as I hoped? Where are you living these days? I hope all of our dreams came true, or I worked my ass off to make sure that I at least tried to make them come true. I just looked at our life in 2006, and I gotta tell you, if I’ve grown even half as much as I grew in the last 5 years, I bet I’m super happy.

I’m sure there’s still stress, that’s just life. I just hope that I kept the dream alive. I bet I’m loving being married. As much as I deny it, I’m such a housewife.

Wherever it is that life took you, I’m here to remind you of one thing: Stay passionate. Remember, that’s when you’re the happiest.




This post is part of the Emerson Trust Yourself 30 Day Challenge which is a celebration of Emerson, his influence, his message and a beautiful new edition of Self Reliance put out by The Domino Project.

The Trust Yourself Challenge is a 30 day online initiative that encourages you to not only trust yourself but to expand your vision of what you think of as yourself. 30 amazing thinkers and seekers have been invited to each create a writing prompt for all who sign up for this challenge. You’ll get one prompt per day emailed to you that will expand on the theme. You are encouraged to share your posts and writings and thoughts on twitter  by using the hashtag #trust30. Please sign up at ralphwaldoemerson.me and investigate the nature of Self Reliance.


Summer of Travel: NYC

I wanted to kick off my summer right but it wouldn’t be by the pool or BBQs. Oh no. I got my butt on the bus Saturday morning and headed to one of my favorite cities in the world: NYC. It would be a weekend full of relaxation, & bonding away from everything else (Including A, who worked all weekend. Poor baby.)

I was a little afraid though. When I went to NY last October, I fell in love. I was afraid the magic would be gone. That the comfort I felt back then was only because life was treating me awful and I wanted to get lost in the chaos of the city.

The second we crossed the Lincoln Tunnel, I knew that I was worried for no reason.

The same kind of relief I feel when the plane touches ground in Turkey washed over me.


In Times Square - October, 2010

I wanted to just relax on Saturday and was feeling a little blah after the bus ride (Which was full of a pee stink for 4 hours). Monica was headed to the beach and asked me “Are you sure you don’t want to come?”

No. I was not sure. To the beach we went!

It was my first time on the subway, and as we were waiting on the platform, I informed Monica of this.

“Get ready to run.”
“OK. Wait. It’ll be that full?”

“Well, it won’t stop. The doors will open but it just slows down & you have to jump in.”

For a good 30 seconds I believed her because her face was so straight.

“Oh. You suck.”

We headed out to Coney Island & even though it was windy, laid on the beach for a couple of hours before walking around. Nathan’s hotdogs & cheese fries? Ice cream? Sailors in their cute uniforms?

Oh yes. It was a gorgeous day.


You can find all the Coney Island pictures here. I also have a couple up for sale on Etsy if you like them.

The rest of the weekend was full of relaxation & laughter.  On Sunday, I left Monica resting in the apartment while I went to meet up with 3 people I’ve known for over 6 years & haven’t yet met.

These women (and that one guy) have known me since I was 19. They’ve seen me hit rock bottom & grow and have been there through it all.  (And yes, I met them blogging. Go figure.) I only got to see them for a half hour but it was so worth it.


All in all, it was an amazing weekend. Best part was that there was no partying. I was content just being in New York, walking around and taking in the city.

It was the best way to start my summer. The summer that’ll make up for the depression of last summer.

Next up: Chicago in July!

How was your Memorial Day weekend? What have you got planned for this summer?

Illusion of Comfort

When things get overwhelming, I retreat back into my comfort zone.

When you’re living life pushing the boundaries everyday, sometimes, you want to be back in a place where everything makes sense.

You come back ready to face the world: Refreshed. Clear headed. Focused.

I’ve been needing my comfort zone lately. Life has been overwhelming. Lots of changes – lots of stress.

One problem though.

I no longer have a comfort zone. It’s gone. So I’m just stuck in this whirlwind, unable to step back. Unable to re-focus.


“But wait. How does a comfort zone disappear?” you ask.

Good question.

Until recently, I couldn’t figure out what happened. I thought I was just too far gone to the point that even my comfort zone couldn’t help me.

Then I realized it. Everything that qualified as my ‘comfort zone’ in my life was gone.

Ever since I took the positive approach to my life, and got rid of the negativity, I’ve been without a safety net.

Because my comfort zone was self-destructive.

Whenever life got to be too much, I would go back to the familiar (comfort zone) which was full of self-destructive behavior (i.e. day drinking) and dysfunctional relationships that helped me escape, instead of recover.

Frustrated about work? Go have a cocktail. During the day.

Don’t want to think about anything? Go have meaningless sex (which I would later cry about over a cocktail)

Overwhelmed with school work? Drop the class. Deal with the consequences later.

Pissed about money? Go shopping.

Don’t want to deal with this downward spiral? Surround myself with those who validated it & enabled my behavior.


That was my illusion of comfort that swallowed up my life, and who I needed to become.

Yes, we all need to escape life once in a while but not in a way that brings even more destruction to fix.

So now that I’m aware of this loss, I need to find a new comfort zone.

I need to create it.

This is difficult because I have no chance to refresh, and deal with everything life is throwing at me without a retreat – which means I have no time to actually seek comfort & figure out what helps me clear my head.

So I take baby steps.

Whether it’s just stepping away from the internet for an hour or 5;

Or reading a book, even if it’s just for 10 minutes;

Or taking the bus home versus the metro…

I’m making my life make sense again. For me.

Because, let’s face it, as much as I love my fiance, I need a comfort zone that keeps him out at times. (I’d be lying if some of the stress lately hasn’t been because of our issues. Relationships are hard, yo)

So, that’s where I am right now.

It’s where I’ve been for the past couple of months.

I’m slowly finding my way back so I can continue to push the boundaries & live my life to the fullest – out of the comfort zone I am slowly re-creating.


Ferris Bueller Said It Best

Years ago, when Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it,” I knew I’d fully understand the meaning of that eventually.

My life has always been non-stop. It’s just the way it is. I used to resent how fast it moved in ways I wasn’t ready but I’ve come to terms with it.

In the last 5 years, I’ve really started to own my life.

It wasn’t until this past year, especially the last few months, that I understood the true meaning behind Bueller’s words. I’ve always juggled way too many balls at once but I’ve always felt like I was running in place.  As if life was moving forward all around me and I was just stuck on a treadmill and there was no way to get off without letting the balls fall.

Well, they fell. So did I. Violently.

Then I had to learn to start moving forward and I was  no longer running in place.

In the past few weeks, I’ve said “I don’t even recognize my life” on more than one occasion.

In the best way  possible.

There are moments when the changes are bad, but in the direction of a good ending.

One of the things I learned about myself this past year is that I cannot function without lists.  I’ve always been the type to write everything down but never a to-do list.  I’ve always kept a mental list of things I need to do, while juggling everything all at once.

This may be life’s way of getting me to slow down a bit  but I can no longer fully function without making physical notes of things I need to get done.

A ‘completed’ list full of check-marks is my favorite.

So I’m learning to organize.

  • I make grocery-lists.
  • My calendar is getting more and more organized. (Hell, the fact that I’m keeping a calendar alone is evolution.)
  • Even though everything is online, I make lists of my school work every week.
  • I am now writing blogs ahead of time & starting to keep a blog schedule.
  • I’m planning out my meals and printing out recipes.
  • I budget.
  • I clip coupons and write down which one expires when in a notebook to keep track.

I may be becoming a little OCD but I can’t let my ADD take over my life.  Last time I did, everything came crashing down.

I’m even penciling in ‘relaxation’ to my calendar because sometimes, I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy my life as it’s happening.

I guess this is part of growing up.  Realizing that I can’t do everything without help, and figuring out ways to manage.

Are you a list-a-holic?

What’s your way of staying organized?

Do you remember to slow down so you don’t miss your own life as it’s passing you by?

**Even on days I don’t blog, I still have something to say over on the FB page so go ahead & fan it.

***I’ve restarted my business/industry blog. Be sure to subscribe there for all the industry related blogs, including a weekly Jobs Digest.


Put Your Best (Online) Face Forward

Announcement: Ad spots are still available for April. Don’t forget that you’ll also be giving to charity at the same time! Full details here.

When a company looks into the ‘online you’, is what they will find appropriate?

Whether you’re currently on the job hunt, or you may be in the future, your presence across social media platforms & blogs will come under scrutiny.

Are you putting your best face forward or is your online presence hurting your chances of being hired?

You have a stellar resume, letters of recommendation & your interview outfit is sharp. One look at your Facebook profile and all of that can become irrelevant.

You will be representing your company and they want to make sure you represent them well. Here are a few tips for putting your best ‘online’ face forward:

Be consistent. You are your own brand. Make sure that your image is consistent across social networks. Your LinkedIn is inherently professional but if your Facebook is a complete 180 from that image, employers will take that into consideration.

Be aware of your online footprint. Everything you put online will remain there and it will be found. Always keep in mind that even pictures you delete from your Facebook can still be found. Think twice about putting up that picture of you at the frat party. Would you want your future boss to see it?

Keep the profanity to a minimum. (Or don’t curse at all if you can). There is nothing impressive about cursing and just like you wouldn’t just drop the ‘F-bomb’ in front of your boss at work, you shouldn’t be dropping it all over your social network. Especially your Twitter feed. Your 140-characters shouldn’t be ridden with profanity. You certainly don’t want to accidentally drop the ‘F-bomb’ on your company’s Twitter feed.

Be aware of how your friends contribute to your presence. If your friends are consistently writing about how awesome it was ‘getting trashed’ on your wall, you might want to tweak your wall settings on your Facebook. When cleaning up your profile, be sure to also clean up what your friends put on there, including tagged pictures. Don’t be hesitant to untag and ask your friends to take down pictures of you from their profile as well.

Mashable has some great tips on how to clean up your Facebook.

Don’t trash-talk your previous employees. In addition to being completely unnecessary, this is very unprofessional. You shouldn’t be doing this off-line or online because it actually shines a bad light on you. The person you may be talking to could refrain from even giving you a referral because of the way you talk about your previous employees. You also never know when you might run into a previous coworker again. The rule here is simple: Don’t.

Google yourself. In order to put your best face forward, you have to be completely aware of how others see you.

What will your boss or potential employer find out about you when they hit ‘Search’? So, are you putting your best ‘online’ face forward? What other tips do you have for those active across social media?