Honest Pictures

Honest Pictures – Week Four – Mental Health & Motherhood

We made it! Week four of honest photos. I wanted to close this challenge out with mental health and motherhood. Before we get there I want to reiterate what I’ve been trying to show you all with this challenge. Here is the takeaway: SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT REAL LIFE.

Let’s go back to the ‘girl Greek island’ I Googled after I asked myself to close my eyes and imagine my dream vacation. I just posted the first picture I found, but the truth is I could have chosen from thousands.

“Our depictions of travel on social media have become an area in which homogeneity has started to be seriously discussed. The problem is all pictures have become identical: iconic tourist destination in the background, woman with the back to the camera wearing a cute dress, clutching at a straw hat. When you travel to any picturesque spot in the world today you encounter lines of young women trying to recreate the same images”

Katherine Ormerod, Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life

There are entire blogs dedicated to where the best photo ops are at tourist locations and if you go to them you will see a LINE of people waiting to get that same exact shot. So I want to remind you again. Here are some images of the same place all those above pictures were taken.

The barriers in question

Really quickly I want to tell you a story of when I was in Vatican City. I was wandering around this pillar statue that was in the middle of the area with all of these stone barriers surrounding it to stop assholes from ramming their cars into it. These really stunning young Swedish women were sitting on two of the barriers with one empty between them. They had their fashionable boots up on the empty barrier touching in the middle and they asked me to take their picture. I took several because I know what it’s like to want OPTIONS before you post. I gave their phone back, they thanked me and I got back in line to get into the Basilica. I passed the area again twenty minutes later (the line to get in is very long), and the two women are still there. This time I watch them ask a guy to take their picture. Have they been there this entire time? He takes their picture, they examine it for a moment before asking ANOTHER PERSON to take their photo. You guys. Is this how we spend our travel time now? Sitting on a cold stone barrier all day asking people to take photos of us in the same positions until we get one we think is post worthy? This can’t be our lives….

So here’s where your mental health comes into play. Weeks ago I asked you all to close your eyes and imagine your dream vacation. I bet most of you thought of photos you’ve seen online from OTHER PEOPLE in locations all over the world living their best life. The truth is you don’t know what was going on in that person’s life when they took that photo and had a caption that just said #bestlife or something else equally absurd. We’ve all done it. We’ve all posted inaccurate representations of our lives. I hope that the last three posts I’ve done have shown you that. What I want to challenge you all to do is when you start to feel that fear of missing out, the anxiety of not living as ‘exciting’ a life as what you see other people doing online, take a step away from the photo that is making you feel that way and imagine the real story behind that photo. If you imagine the girl looking at the ocean with a small Greek village island surrounding her, imagine seventeen other girls standing behind her waiting to take that same photo. Is that how you want to spend your time? Waiting to take a photo of your back so you can put it online and make people feel envious? Is that how we want to spend our time, money and life energy? I’m going to go with no.

The feelings you might have when you see photos like this can be extremely detrimental to your mental health. It can lead you to feel like you aren’t enough. Impostor syndrome starts to reel it’s ugly head. I challenge you to unfollow anyone that makes you feel inadequate. I used to follow a ton of celebrities on Instagram. Now the only verified accounts I follow are the Obama’s (duh) and The Happy Pear, because those boys bring me JOY. I used to scroll feeds of beautiful celebrities feeling less than, wishing I could have the life they do. Without those posts in my minds eye every day I feel so much happier. I follow people I know in real life. My feed isn’t so overwhelming now and in turn I find myself engaging more with people I actually care about and know. I challenge you do to the same. It will do wonders for your self image and mental health.

NOW ONTO BABIES! is a phrase I never thought I’d type.

I want to preface this with the fact that I am not a Mom. I don’t plan to be either, but I suppose you never really know. However, I have a lot of lovely wonderful friends who are mothers and some who are even about to become mothers! It’s VERY exciting for me to witness. I am so impressed sometimes when I see people I grew up with or people whose hair I used to hold back while they puked who are now actually raising small infants and doing a damn good job at it too. I wanted to talk about motherhood though because Ormerod’s book has an entire chapter on it and I think it can really help some women out there who are struggling because even I know, as a non-parent, how fucking hard it is to raise children and god damn people on social media who talk about it like it’s fucking sunshine and rainbows all the time 24/7. Mostly because it can make mothers who aren’t experiencing that to feel like complete shit.

I think we all need to do a better job of being up front and honest about raising kids. It’s okay to show beautiful family photos like this one (the two following excerpts from Ormerod’s book):

“You may see a photo of someone baking vegan treats with their kids, pristine homes in the background, handsome husbands just out of eye shot…these can make a mom who hasn’t showered in three days and eats take out noodles feel incomplete.”


So you feel like shit when this happens because they make it look so easy! Why isn’t it easy for me! Well here’s another bit that I suggest thinking about when you see something like this and it makes you feel less than:

“You can take a perfect motherhood pic and then get right back to the sofa with your sweatpants with baby sick in your hair and no one would know. There is zero point in using those perfect images you see to judge yourself on what you’re doing. ”

The truth is, and I say this with the limited extent of my lens as a non-mom: Motherhood can be a very vulnerable time. As women, we could all do with telling each other our honest experiences, particularly when it comes to our bodies. Enough of the shame.

And don’t even get me going on ‘body bounce back’ shit. Okay, I’m gonna get going on it anyway. Women’s bodies are kind of fucking incredible. We literally GROW HUMAN CHILDREN in our bodies. FOR MONTHS. Our bodies change drastically in this time. Not to mention all the crazy shit that can happen to them after the actual act of giving birth. This disgusting pressure we put on mothers to have the exact same bodies as they had pre-birth is one of the worst things we do to a mother’s mental health. You have just been through something truly incredible and your body will need time to heal and repair itself. Sometimes it doesn’t always go back to what it was 100%.

Celebrities in particular have staff dedicated full time to get them back into shape within weeks of giving birth, with nutritionists, personal trainers, the luxury of not having to go back to work right away 9-5, not to mention NANNIES. I don’t know any mother in real life that has those kinds of resources at their disposal. Most of them just seem to be trying to support their new families as soon as possible after their baby comes into the world (via their vagina. Did I mention women’s bodies are kind of amazing and also insane).

Puke.
Fuck you Maria Kang. An average person’s ‘excuse’ could be a number of things. You make it seem like laziness is the only reason we shouldn’t all have six packs eight months after giving birth. Seriously, Google ‘diastutie recti’ you can’t even lift heavy objects for months after this shit happens to you never mind, 10 lb dumbbells. Come now.

Not every woman’s pregnancy is the same. Our experiences during and after this time are really going to be unique to our own bodies. We need to listen to our bodies and not let photos other people may take while on similar journeys make us feel bad about where we are at in our own journey.

Okay, whew. We made it and I’m only left feeling slightly angry after typing all that. Just one more ‘GO MOMS’ for all you amazing women out there procreating and shaping our next generation. If you want to do a good job, then you already are. If you’re worried about if you’re doing it right then you’re doing it right. Just like with schooling, careers, and every other facet of human lives NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING. We are all just doing the best we can. We are all this dog:

Remember this dog. Print this dog. Put it on your fridge. Put it at your desk. Put it on your child’s forehead. Life lessons.

Remember if photos of other people are making you feel like shit….unfollow them. They aren’t doing it on purpose (I hope!), but that doesn’t matter. You gotta do you first. Don’t let these images of a moment in someone else’s life, ruin YOUR life. Remember that that’s all it is: a moment! We don’t know what was actually going on before, during or after that photo was taken!

That wraps up honest photos month! I hope you all enjoyed it. Let me know what you thought in the comments or anywhere else online. I’m pretty much ‘hollishillis’ on every platform. If you have ideas of what I should do next let me know! I have February mapped out for my monthly challenge and it’s a doozy you guys. I’m actually having real anxiety of how I will manage it. Here’s a hint: news.

Push-up Update: I’m back at it! The first week I did knee push ups and fucked up my shoulder, then I was out two weeks, but I’m back and doing wall push-ups now. I’m trying not to feel weak and sad about this. My journey is not everyone else’s journey. I have to take care of my body and go slow and as much as I want to just get back down and do the knee ones again I’m going to do the wall ones for another week and then try to move to the knees ones again. I did 40 total this week and I was a little sore, but nothing was damaged so I’m feeling good. I still think I will be able to do 100 real push ups consecutively by the end of the year. Slow and steady wins the whatever. See you all for February’s challenge next week!

Honest Pictures

Honest Pictures – Week Three – Jobs and Careers

“Will you take a picture of me at my rock bottom?” I asked my Aunt in her kitchen in Spokane. She had just handed me a giant Costco box of Clif bars her kids wouldn’t eat and some leftover food for my journey back to Portland. I would end up eating those Clif bars for dinner every night for two weeks until they were gone.

Rock Bottom

We were visiting Spokane for the weekend, just a few weeks after I’d been fired for the job I moved to Portland for. We were there to get the rest of our stuff out of storage. I had just spent the last few hours lamenting my woes to her about what I assumed was my terrible decision to move away. I had $167 in my checking account, no savings, no job and two higher education degrees that at the time felt as worthless a receipt paper.

Like many other millennials, I was promised that if I went to college and got a degree I could graduate and go do anything I wanted. If I just worked hard, someone would pay me for my hard work. Unfortunately no one told us the economy was going to collapse in 2008 and thousands of graduates would be left scrambling for any part time job that would pay them so they could eat anything besides Clif bars for dinner.

“Many millennials began their working live after the financial meltdown of 2008, when the stock market lost half its value. If they followed their parents’ script, went to college, and took on debt, expecting their parents’ results. Instead they were greeted with an economy in free fall and fewer opportunities in the traditional job market.”

Vicki Robinson & Joe Dominguez, Your Money or Your Life
Book review here

We made our way back to Portland and our tiny room at my Aunt and Uncle’s home. Jesse continued to work, and I continued to job search and sleep as much as I could. I didn’t do much else and being awake became kind of exhausting. Eventually I managed to get a part time job that paid $10/hr at an upscale outdoor mall in a city just south of Portland. That income allowed us to apply for an apartment in another city south of Portland and we moved again into a really shitty apartment that we could only just barely afford.

I had a lot of fun at that job, but it was still customer service and it felt like a huge step back from the management position in customer service that I left in Spokane. Except now I was paying twice the amount of rent and didn’t have health insurance on top of no full time work. I was making friends though. They were fun and I dipped back into the drinking again. I would not say I had a problem with drinking I just spent too much of my time and money doing it. I was just coming out of my depression and my new friends helped with that a lot. They also liked to go out a lot and I just went along and had a good time. My Instagram posts from the time do not lie about this.

It was not an office. It was a customer service kiosk. Let’s be real folks.

I still felt really stupid for leaving a full time job that paid more to start a part time job that paid less. So I made sure to make my job seem extra fun and cool online. The thing is it was fun and cool. I was working for the property management company for the mall and they let me help out in the office a few days a week doing some marketing, which was the field I was trying to get into. My boss was crazy, but the people were nice and my coworkers were really wonderful. But still, I wanted everyone online to believe that it was paying me much more than it was and it was a full time real career job. That was just a damn lie.

Eventually I had to get a full time job. The part time work was not cutting it and I also really needed to figure out something that would boost me into marketing. So I took a job at FedEx Office, which was really another glorified customer service gig, but with the promise of learning Adobe Creative Suites on the side. A promise that was kept and allowed me to get my next and first career job. So it all worked out but I just have to say that that job was almost worse than any other customer service job I had previously. I don’t know what it is about a place that is literally just supposed to ship packages and print paper for you, but holy shit I’d never been so disrespected in my life. So I spent a lot of time really fucking mad. I’d go to work mad, come home mad, and spend my time off getting mad about having to go back to work. What a nightmare.

The cool part about FedEx though was that I worked with a lot of older people who were really helpful and encouraging to me to not work there forever. They really helped hone my Photoshop skills and we got in some damn good Photoshop wars.

Eventually I’d come home from work and apply for five jobs a day. I was getting interviews like crazy, but nothing was panning out. Then I got a call for a job I didn’t even remember applying to. They wanted to interview me. I spent the next day actually reading through my job application and figuring out what in the world the job was for. Honestly, I still didn’t get it. It was an architecture and engineering firm and they wanted a marketing coordinator to work on things called proposals and put them into layout so I had to know InDesign. Well, of all the creative suites, InDesign was not my strongest, but what the hell. I did the interview and more than the job or the company I really felt strongly toward the woman who interviewed me. She was really excited about my background and didn’t mind at all that I had no experience in the industry or doing anything remotely like this. I almost cried when she actually looked at my education and said my degrees were what helped her make the decision to call me for an interview. Every interview I’d been on before then hadn’t even asked me about them. She could tell from all the side work I had been doing that I was really serious about landing something full time that could benefit from my writing and computer skills. I accepted the job and my income doubled over night.

I did it! I was working full time, not living pay check to pay check and I had some amazing coworkers….for about three months. Then the restructuring came. The company wasn’t doing too well. They laid off my boss, who was really my support with the company, then my amazing co workers all started to take new jobs because they didn’t like the new management. Also, I hated the projects we were working on and without the support of my old boss I was left to do a job I wasn’t really prepared for or hired on to do. Still, my online presence was assuring anyone who was watching that I had MADE IT.

So I spent my days looking for a way out again. My group that started with six people went down to 100% turnover in a year. They hired one person to help me and I was suddenly the most senior marketer at the company with one year of experience. Luckily they hired someone really amazing who had been in the industry forever and realized her mistake in taking this job the moment she showed up. We both were trying to get out and she actually helped me get an interview at the company I work at now.

Now I could tell you that my new job of almost two years is perfect and wonderful and I have it made. It’s true my income shot up again with it, and I do have a great office location with amazing coworkers. I am lucky in that regard. but I am coming to realize that this industry is not for me. I like it well enough and it works for now, but I’m not raving all over social media about my perfect occupation or anything anymore. It just wouldn’t’ be the truth. The truth is it’s working for now and I’m happy enough.

Five years ago I would have looked at me now and thought YES WE FINALLY DID IT. WE HAVE ARRIVED. But the more I work and the more time I put into something I’m not super passionate about the less I think I really have ‘made it’. I’m starting to realize that there is nothing more valuable than my time. The moments I have left. How do I want to spend it?

So that’s the truth of my entire journey from Spokane to Portland. It’s been kind of crazy. The beginning had lots of downs, and I wasn’t always honest online about any of it really. The last three years though have been really lovely and I’m enjoying it a lot. We’ll see what happens next, but I promise I’ll be more honest about it as it comes up.

Push Ups: Still on a resting break as my wrist has been killing me this week, but I am 95% healed and will take up the task of getting back to it this next week. I don’t want to give up on this goal.


YouTube Throwbacks

Craigslist Jobs: Entry Level Opening

Behind the video: I felt like sharing one of the later videos with you all this time. Mostly because it relates a bit to what my post for this week will be for honest photos. This was posted in September of 2013 just a few days before I was going to be fired from the job I hated that I moved to Portland for. I was already job searching so I had a feeling the end was nigh I just didn’t realize how nigh. In the video I talk about a disturbing job posting on Craigslist and try to make light of my situation. In the realm of honesty I was not in a good place, not happy with my move and really upset at being so far from my significant other. Enjoy the throwback!

Minimalist Wardrobe

Minimalist Wardrobe – Week Three and Four

There is a book I used to pour over when I was kid. I’m not sure who got it for me or how it came to be in my possession, but I actually still own it. I found it again while doing my Marie Kondo method on all my books. Surprisingly it still sparked joy so I kept it. It’s called “Sally’s Room” by M.K Brown. My only guess is my Dad bought it for me as a joke as a child…or in the hopes it might bring inspiration. If it was the latter, it worked.

The books is about a girl named Sally who never cleaned her room. Her room hated it so much they finally decided to do something about it. They marched out of her room, down the street and straight into Sally’s school. Sally’s teacher asks who the room belongs to and defiantly Sally stands up and says it’s hers. And she likes it that way. Eventually she goes home to an empty room and realizes how much room there is in there without all her stuff. When the room barges back in, Sally realizes she has to finally face the facts and clean.

I used to take this book out every time I had to clean my room and follow Sally’s cleaning and organizing method. She puts all her games away, finds her favorite sweater, folds her clothes, makes her bed, etc. In the end she finds that it’s a room where anything can happen.

I pulled the book back out and felt like I’d been through Sally’s journey so many times in my life, but it finally feels like it’s going to stick.

I kind of always knew this about me, but I really love throwing things away. I love cleaning and organizing. Even with all this going for me I found it hard to give up a lot of items this month in my minimalist wardrobe challenge. I don’t miss them now though! I had bought so many clothes I never wore before. It seemed wasteful to throw them out. But did they spark joy? No, they just made me feel bad that they didn’t fit or didn’t turn out to be part of my style as much as I wanted them to be.

I ended up finishing “The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life is Worth more Than Anything You Can Buy” By Cait Flanders. I don’t think I’ll be going through her exact path of only buying consumables for the year, but I did like her idea of only buying something when an older version of it is broke and needs to be replaced. She also inspired me to clean up my consumer debt. I don’t have a lot compared to the average American, but I have accumulated some from my wedding in October (photographers are expensive!). I’ve made a plan to set aside large chunks of my income each month to wipe out the debt by the end of May and before my zero interest runs out in August.

“One thing debt and clutter have in common is that as soon as you start letting it pile up, it can be harder and harder to see your way around it.”

Cait Flanders, The Year of Less

She also had a great idea of unfollowing all the stores, newsletters, etc. on social media accounts and unsubscribing from all of consumer emails. I started doing this and instead of 25 new emails in morning I’m getting about three. It’s a good start and I love not having the feeling of missing out when I get an email about picture frames on sale from Pier One with free shipping. I don’t need any more picture frames! And if I suddenly do, the Good Will has plenty of great options for $5 or less.

I have a plan for my wardrobe to become more capsule oriented and once I do my research and purchase the two items I’m really feeling I need to supplement in, then I think it will be complete. I’m really pleased with this journey and if you’re feeling like you want to declutter, organize and make getting dressing in the morning simple AF, let me know if I can help in any way! I am NOT an expert, but I’m feeling confident about the process.

Stay tuned for what my January challenge will be! Hint: It’s time to get honest.

YouTube Throwbacks

How to Handle Rejection

Behind the video: I was so intentionally vague in this video about what I was actually rejected for. Here is the gist: I had two degrees at the time: one undergrad, one grad. I was making $9/hr and getting yelled at every day by customers. I was 21 and living at home in my childhood bedroom.

The interesting thing looking back on this video is that this was one of the most carefree and fun times of my life. Yes, I was getting yelled at by customers every day, but I was also working with my friends, going out every night and I had zero responsibility. Yes, I was only making $400 a month (if I was lucky), but with expenses only being my phone and putting gas in my car, I was living the good life. I was just stuck with this impression, like most millennials I think (thanks to our parents!), that you go to college and when you get out you magically get a job. I had two degrees and I had nothing.

So I did the only thing I knew how to do, which is try to go back to school – again. I applied for an online program at my alma mater. I was going to get an Master in Library Science and move to Washington D.C. to work for the library of congress. The school rejected me and I was back to square one though. It was a good thing though. I’d probably be archive Donald Trump’s tweets if I had gone that route.  I realize now as much as I love books I’d probably spend most of my days injecting Narcan into people and kicking out public masturbators. I mean…that’s been my experience with libraries anyway…

So the biggest take away looking back is that every rejection I’ve faced since then (there been a lot more than my 22 year old self in this video), has been FOR THE BETTER. Each rejection that I thought was the end of the world was actually the best thing for me. Without those rejections I wouldn’t have gotten other opportunities that popped up that suited me better.