How Following My Dreams Set Back My Life
My life goal was to join the Peace Corps. I spent ten years working to get enough experience. I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer, and gathered real work experience, in addition to college classes. Every major choice I made, was in service of getting enough experience for the Peace Corps.
One day, I realized I was in a good place financially, and could probably qualify for a mortgage loan. I wanted to settle in and be a real adult. Babies didn’t seem so… off-putting anymore. They were cute, even when they were crying. My ovaries did things when I saw them.
I also realized I had enough experience to finally meet the high standards of a Peace Corps volunteer, so I applied.
And I got in.
It was a magical two years and four months. Completely life changing. I left the United States scared and shy. I came back home feeling confident, and capable of finally advocating for myself.
My good credit that once could have gotten me a house, was destroyed.
I couldn’t find a job. Unemployed, I lived with my mother for a year.
Plus, I was sick. So, so, so sick.
A solid year passed by before I was able to get a handle on my health.
I had to move back to my former residence in order to find a job. Something I swore I wouldn’t do. It was literally like going back to square one. As grateful that I am for the opportunity to return, it just wasn’t what I wanted.
It took a while to figure it all out. To get my life back in order and to be the financially self-sufficient adult I was before I left for the Peace Corps. Even though I’m doing better now, 18 months after my return, my credit is still shot, and getting caught up is a struggle.
There are definitely some things I wish I would have done differently during my Peace Corps service. I hope, dear reader, if you take anything away from my experience let it be the following lessons.
Make sure you sign a power of attorney if you’ve left the country for more than 6 months. My mom could have handled so much of this random credit stuff for me. Almost everything listed below is something my mom could have helped me with, if she had power of attorney.
Get your bills in order before you leave. One of the things that destroyed my credit was my phone bill. I tried to cancel it and waive the ETF, but because of their hard sell, and my really high stress levels, I let them put it on hold for 3 months. Once those three months ended, I meant to cancel it then, but of course, I was in the middle of the desert in Africa by then. They charged me for an additional 3 months before canceling the account and sending it to collections.
What you can do: If someone had power of attorney, they could have continued this fight for me after I left. Many companies have (or had) a clause that states if you are breaking your contract early because you are leaving the country, they will waive the fee.
Lock your credit down. While I was away, a credit card was opened in my name. I didn’t find out about it until I got home. It is a difficult process to dispute claims with credit bureaus.
What you can do: You can apply to the major credit bureaus to put a lock on your SSN, which keeps companies from pulling your credit. There is a fee for this service, but it’s nominal to finding out you owe $1500 on a card you’ve never seen.
Have a rainy day fund. I didn’t have much in my personal savings when I left for the Peace Corps, assured that my stipend would be enough to live on. It mostly was, but I enjoyed having extra money for trips with my friends. But it would have been really nice to have an extra $5000 or so upon my return. Yes, the Peace Corps give you a readjustment allowance, but if you’ve been supporting yourself for 10 years before your service started (like I had), feeling forced to move back in with your parents is a hard blow to your ego.
What you can do: Start saving now. You’ll hear it a million times, but let me tell once more: start saving now. Take 10% and stash it the F away. (You can use an app like Digit.co, Acorns, or Stash to make it painless.)
Get your health care in order. While I was gone, the Affordable Care Act was fully integrated and I did not take full advantage of its services. Mostly, I was too sick to think straight, and even though I qualified for medicare upon my return, I didn’t sign up until I desperately needed a week long dose of antibiotics. I paid for that again in 2017 when filing my taxes and I received a penalty for the months I wasn’t covered by medicaid. But the most important part of that for me was, I have an undiagnosed health issue that based on my current lifestyle, I cannot get diagnosed without causing severe illness. If I had gotten my healthcare in order before I left, or upon my return, I could be saving myself thousands of dollars every year.
What you can do: Find out what you’re eligible for. And then sign up for it immediately. Don’t delay. There are volunteers who can help you guide through the process through 211.org.
It’s going to take me at least another year or two to repair my credit, and who knows if I’ll ever get my health issues diagnosed. But when I think back to those hot days in Botswana, I know I would do it again in a heartbeat.
Sure, starting over is hard. Picking up the pieces of your destroyed credit is hard. Even learning to take care of health in this new way is hard. But I have this experience of a lifetime in my memories.
I followed my dreams, and joined an elite group of Americans who sacrificed two years of their lives to spread peace and love across the world. Like, reality can always wait.read more
Top Ten Books for the Career Minded Woman
I love books. Books are my favorite. I will do all sorts of things of books, and I’m proud to say so. Recently, as I’m focusing more on my career, I’ve been searching for the book that is going to take my career to the next level. So of course, I decided to share my Top Ten books for the Career Minded Woman with all of you, in hopes that you’ll take what you need, and leave the rest.
I have read all of these books and have taken bits and pieces of their wisdom. That’s what we do with books right? Books with stars next to them are particular favorites. Books that I’ve gained a lot of wisdom from, read more than once, and use their lessons on a regular basis.
This list is important, because there is still so much push back about being a woman. We’re supposed to want more, do more, continue shattering ceilings… Sometimes I wonder if we are the ones who create these ceilings for ourselves. We’ve bought into these ideas about being homemakers and caregivers, and only strong when its for our family, but never just for ourselves. Because if we’re strong for ourselves, then we’re selfish, bossy, opinionated, unlovable, and frankly, a bitch. And no one likes a bitch.
These books create a space to remove those barriers, to help you find your inner strength and use it to conquer your fears, and create a life you love. Whether that life is centered around your career, being a wife and/or mother, or a world traveler.
One of my favorite ways to read books these days is to listen with Audible. I have a fairly long commute and this helps fill the void with learning time. I’ve digested so many books this way which is such a grace in my life because reading out of a irl book or kindle on the train makes me sick. Audible has a great deal going right now – get two books free when you sign up which you can do right here.
Lets get started with the Top Ten Books for the Career Minded Woman:
Lean In Cheryl Sandberg
In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg reignited the conversation around women in the workplace.
Sandberg is chief operating officer of Facebook and coauthor of Option B with Adam Grant. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TED talk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which has been viewed more than six million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.
Linchpin Seth Godin
This life-changing manifesto shows how you have the potential to make a huge difference wherever you are.
Few authors have had the kind of lasting impact and global reach that Seth Godin has had. In a series of now-classic books that have been translated into 36 languages and reached millions of readers around the world, he has taught generations of readers how to make remarkable products and spread powerful ideas. In Linchpin, he turns his attention to the individual, and explains how anyone can make a significant impact within their organization.
#Girlboss Sophia Amaruso
In the New York Times bestseller that the Washington Post called “Lean In for misfits,” Sophia Amoruso shares how she went from dumpster diving to founding one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world.
Feminist Fight Club Jessica Bennett
It was a fight club—but without the fighting and without the men. Every month, the women would huddle in a friend’s apartment to share sexist job frustrations and trade tips for how best to tackle them. Once upon a time, you might have called them a consciousness-raising group. But the problems of today’s working world are more subtle, less pronounced, harder to identify—and, if Ellen Pao is any indication, harder to prove—than those of their foremothers. These women weren’t just there to vent. They needed battle tactics. And so the fight club was born.
4 Hour Work Week Timothy Ferriss
The New York Times bestselling author of The 4-Hour Body shows readers how to live more and work less, now with more than 100 pages of new, cutting-edge content.
Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times. Whether your dream is escaping the rat race, experiencing high-end world travel, or earning a monthly five-figure income with zero management, The 4-Hour Workweek is the blueprint.
Unfinished Business: Ann-Marie Slaughter
When Anne-Marie Slaughter accepted her dream job as the first female director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department in 2009, she was confident she could juggle the demands of her position in Washington, D.C., with the responsibilities of her family life in suburban New Jersey. Her husband and two young sons encouraged her to pursue the job; she had a tremendously supportive boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and she had been moving up on a high-profile career track since law school. But then life intervened. Parenting needs caused her to make a decision to leave the State Department and return to an academic career that gave her more time for her family.
The Art of Asking Amanda Palmer
Rock star, crowdfunding pioneer, and TED speaker Amanda Palmer knows all about asking. Performing as a living statue in a wedding dress, she wordlessly asked thousands of passersby for their dollars. When she became a singer, songwriter, and musician, she was not afraid to ask her audience to support her as she surfed the crowd (and slept on their couches while touring). And when she left her record label to strike out on her own, she asked her fans to support her in making an album, leading to the world’s most successful music Kickstarter.
The Miracle Morning Hal Elrod
What Hal has done with his acronym SAVERS is taken the “best practices”—developed over centuries of human consciousness development—and condensed the “best of the best” into a daily morning ritual. A ritual that is now part of my day.
Grit: Angela Duckworth
In this instant New York Times bestseller, pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a special blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.”
Daring Greatly Brene Brown
Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable or to dare greatly. Based on twelve years of pioneering research, Dr. Brené Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is, in truth, our most accurate measure of courage.
What’s on your reading list of top ten books?
Tell me in the comments! To find out what I’m currently reading, click here.
The other day I was bored. Like, really bored. Like watching paint dry on a rainy day bored. I didn’t want to watch TV, or read a book, or go shopping. But I knew I wanted to do something. Usually when I get in a mood like this, I pull up Pinterest and see if there’s anything new in my feed.
And on this particular day, I saw a pin for this thing called Creative Live. It told me to learn a new skill, and I was like, well, yes! Of course! I want to learn something new!
Why learn a new skill this weekend?
Keep mind agile –
As humans, we should always be reaching for new skills and things to know. Our thirst for knowledge should insatiable. Sure, we spend hours every day ingesting media, clickbait articles, and other such hogwash. Does that endless stream of meme’s actually leave you a better person? Probably not. And even worse, many of the meme’s out there are created without citing sources which spreads false information and leads people to develop highly prejudiced thoughts that aren’t even based in reality.
Fun to learn something new –
I don’t know about you, but I love learning new skills. I love the challenge. When you can actually feel the neurons connecting and making new pathways in your brain to retain the new information, I get giddy.
Impress your friends or coworkers on Monday –
There have been so many weekends in my life when someone asks, “what did you do this weekend?” and the only interesting thing I have to say is, “I made out with my dog. Again.” Taking online classes taught by masters of their fields is such a nice change. It’s so much more interesting than saying, “nothing”.
Use it to make yourself more competitive in the workforce –
Plus, you never know when those new skills will come in handy. It could be that learning code, or portrait photography is exactly what you need to make yourself indispensable at your office.
Where to learn new skills –
There are literally hundreds of places to learn new skills. Interested in blogging? I have a whole course ready for you to sign up. Looking for some personal development courses that span several days? Check out my list here.
But if you’re looking for a highly skilled professional to teach you your new skill, you will find them on CreativeLive. Some of their instructors include Richard Branson, Tim Ferriss, Arianna Huffington, and Deanne Fitzmaurice.
Why Creative Live?
They have over 600 classes available, covering topics like beer making, to felt crafting. Money classes, art and photography classes, and so many more it would be hard to list. Go check them out.
Buy the class and own it forever –
The classes range in price depending on the topic and how in depth it gets. But once you buy it, it’s yours forever. You can refer to it as you need to to continue building your foundation blocks.
Did I mention the live aspect?
Yes, you get to keep your classes, but they also have classes that available “On Air”. This is a sort of Live Webinar Replay, and if you purchase it, you’ll have life time access. If you don’t, then you’ll only get to watch it the days it available.
For a limited Time only: Creative Live is letting you RSVP for FREE for some On Air classes. What does this mean? From July 9-15, if you RSVP your spot on eligible classes, you can watch the entire class for free.
If you’re interested in building a foundation for business, I recommend Josh Kaufman’s’ Personal MBA Foundations class. It has 14 modules, that cover important business foundation topics like:
- Value delivery
I’ve read Josh’s book, the Personal MBA and highly recommend it. if you’ve ever debated about going to college to get that BA or MBA, you have to read this book first. It provides so much information and guides you where to get the nitty gritty details that you would get in an MBA and how to put it into practice – at a fraction of the cost. My copy is actually the audiobook and I’ve listened to it several times, but I wish I had the
paperback kindle to read along with and write notes in the margins note section.
There’s also classes about drawing, crafting, and meditation. Check them out here:
Free On-Air Classes – Week of 9/10
Class Name: Website Planning and Wireframing
Text Link: Website Planning and Wireframing Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 09/10/2017
End Date: 09/11/2017
RSVP Date: 09/10/2017
Class Name: The Right-Brain Business Plan
Text Link: The Right-Brain Business Plan Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 09/10/2017
End Date: 09/11/2017
RSVP Date: 09/10/2017
Class Name: Podcasting 101
Text Link: Podcasting 101 Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 09/11/2017
End Date: 09/12/2017
RSVP Date: 09/11/2017
Class Name: Introduction to Letterpress Printing
Text Link: Introduction to Letterpress Printing Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 09/11/2017
End Date: 09/12/2017
RSVP Date: 09/11/2017
Class Name: Hire Your First Sales Rep
Text Link: Hire Your First Sales Rep Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 09/12/2017
End Date: 09/13/2017
RSVP Date: 09/12/2017
Class Name: From Images to Art: Storytelling in Wedding Photography
Text Link: From Images to Art: Storytelling in Wedding Photography Class at CreativeLive
Start Date: 09/14/2017
End Date: 09/15/2017
RSVP Date: 09/14/2017
Come back for brushing up
Once you own the class, it’s yours forever. You can go back and repeat it whenever you need to. Plus, you can download the videos, or stream them. And you can view them on your phone, computer or tablet.
They are having an amazing sale that is happening right now, and is only going on for a few more days. Check Out CreativeLive’s Free On-Air Classes and learn a new skill this weekend!
If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?
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Ten Rules for Going Gluten Free
First off, this post is not for those who think going gluten free is “healthier” or if they’re trying to lose weight. From someone who can no longer ingest gluten: if you can, please, do!
But, if you think you have a gluten sensitivity, then you might be wondering how to cut the gluten from your diet. It “sounds” easy enough, but the practice of it may actually be kind of daunting.
For me, it took several attempts to finally understand that I could only eat a gluten free diet and be healthy at the same time. Something clicked and now the smell of bread makes my stomach turn.
If you think you have a gluten intolerance, you’ll definitely want to connect with your healthcare professional to run some tests. It’s the right thing to do. When you’re ready, I would try going gluten free for 2 weeks or one month and see if you feel better.
What to look for when you cut the gluten:
Some symptom relief you could look out for are sleeping better, less anxiety, clearer skin, less stomach issues, more energy, clear mind/no brain fog, not as cold.
Have you always been clumsy? When I removed gluten from my diet, I stopped tripping over myself. In fact, if I fall these days, I can almost always trace it back to the last 48 where I was glutened.
Celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity have over 300 symptoms which is why it is so common these days for people to wonder if they have an issue with gluten. Basically, if you have a feeling, it could be gluten related. But the only way to know for sure is to visit your doctor, advocate for your health and start experimenting with your diet.
Before you jump into a 2-4 week experiment without gluten, I recommend trying to adopt a whole foods attitude about eating. If you just replace junk with junk, chances are, you’re still going to feel like junk.
If you need even more help easing into the idea of living without gluten, start by just removing one potential allergen a week, by eating what you have and not replacing it when you’re ready.
One more note about this post: you will find some incredibly helpful tips to adjust your mindset as you experience this new challenge, but I am not a food blogger. I might come up with some awesome recipe round up posts, but this post is really to focus on mindset. There are some of my favorite resources below for removing gluten from the diet, and the books come with some really great recipes.
List of resources to help ease into going gluten free:
Wanna swipe this list? Sign up for the Millennial Life Skills Vault – its inside!
1 – instead of focusing on what you can’t eat, focus on what you can
This is probably the most important step. When you’re making a lifestyle change, especially one centered around food it’s hard to remember why you’re making the change in the first place. Focusing on the positive aspects will help decrease cravings, guilt, and anxiety. When you’re removing gluten from your diet, a lot of your favorite processed foods go with it. But you open yourself up to a whole new world of cuisines, flavors, and experiences.
I used to hate fish. My favorite saying is “Fish are friends, not food.” but I’ve learned to adapt my taste buds, and the other day when I had gluten free crab cakes, I was pleasantly surprised and finally understood what the fuss was about.
2 – keep a food journal
Sometimes it’s not our diet causing us to be sick. But if you notice a correlation between eating and feeling poorly, keeping a food journal can be an incredibly empowering experience. I’m personally not a fan of tracking everything I eat all the time – if I binge, that list can be pretty depressing. But it is empowering to have actual proof to show when you speak with your doctor. If you’re noticing you have a meal, and for the next several hours your body aches, you should write that down. Be analytic and scientific in your tracking.
Before you eat, write down how hungry you felt.
After you eat, write down if you felt you ate enough to be full, or over full.
Two -4 hours after eating, write down any symptoms you might be experiencing.
Once you have a solid record of your feelings before during and after, you can start the discussion with your healthcare professional or whoever, to start making positive long term changes.
3 – Don’t beat yourself up -be gentle!
Changing a way of eating is hard, especially if you have emotional attachments to certain foods.
So often we use food to reward ourselves. Win a promotion? Go out for dinner. Have a hard day? Drink all the drinks. Break up with your boyfriend? Eat ice cream until you pass out.
Changing so many things at one time can be hard. But I would challenge you to be mindful of your feelings of anxiety and stress. Take five or ten minutes to meditate or do yoga. If you’re fighting a craving, ask yourself where it’s coming from and how you could provide that same level of comfort without food. Sometimes it comes in the form of a hot bath or shower. Other times it’s running, or playing with the dog.
If during your two-four week trial you do give into temptation, don’t call yourself a failure. Don’t talk poorly to yourself. Instead, in your journal track it. Write down why it happened and how you can prevent it in the future.
4 – Plan ahead
Work towards removing gluten items and replacing them with non gluten items. If you want to keep it as simple as possible, Amazon has an incredible section of gluten free pantry items. All the premix cookies, cakes, pie crusts you could ever want. Some of them are even good. ( I highly recommend the Goodie Girls Mint Slims. My absolute favorite cookie!) but when we’re talking about health, replacing old sugars with newer even more refined sugars probably shouldn’t be the crux of the conversation. Programs like Whole 30 and The Paleo Diet are both great ways to plan a head. They lay out all the steps and menus you need.
When I went gluten free, I only ate meat, rice, vegetables and fruit. Eventually I cut out the rice too. It doesn’t have to be boring or filled with complicated recipes. Just keep it simple.
Wanna swipe this list? Sign up for the Millennial Life Skills Vault – its inside!
5 – Reach out to your health care professional
If before, during or after you start to realize that gluten is affecting your health, you need to connect with your healthcare professional for further testing.
I’ve mentioned this several times. It’s so important to get your health care professional involved early in your experiments. If you discover you feel better on a gluten free diet, they may want to test you for Celiac disease which requires a certain level of antibodies and inflammation still occurring in your body in order to be quantified. If you’ve been gluten free for too long and then get tested, you’ll pop up a bunch of false negatives because your body has healed. People who have been off gluten for several months are asked to take a gluten challenge – you eat the amount of gluten in 4 slices of bread every day for up to two months.
If you’ve been gluten free for awhile, you know how awful that could be.
6 – Treat yourself!
Being gluten free shouldn’t be a punishment. Goodie Girl thin mints are freaking amazing. Easily found at walmart or Amazon. Some of my other favorite gluten free treats are Larabars, Beef Jerky, and fresh fruit.
7 – Connect with community
MLSG which is there for all things millennial life related, or other gluten free communities on Facebook. You might also be able to find meetups in your area.
8 – Read Labels
This probably should have been closer to the top, but at least it made the list. Gluten hides in everything. It hides as vitamins, it hides as emulsifiers, and it hides as modified food starches and “natural flavors”. Even worse, it still isn’t mandatory for companies to disclose gluten or potential cross contamination. Even things labeled as “Certified Gluten Free” can have up to 20 parts per million of gluten inside of it, and be made in a facility where glutenous food is produced. Reading labels helps, but there is still so much more the food industry as a whole can do, and we should expect from them; namely, keeping the gluten far and away from the gluten free products.
Wanna swipe this list? Sign up for the Millennial Life Skills Vault – its inside!
While you’re experimenting, sticking to strictly certified gluten free products shouldn’t be your highest concern. If however it looks like it should be gluten free, but you experience a reaction, make sure you note it in your food journal.
9 – Choose whole foods instead of gluten free replacements
I’ve talked a lot about this already, but the best way to minimize cross contamination is to stick to whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, seeds, fats. Keep it simple. Keep it fresh.
10 – Get your family on board
If you do find you have celiac disease, you need to keep your kitchen as gluten free as possible. When you’re not the only person in the house, this might seem impossible. The best way to protect your health though is getting the family on board. People who don’t experience issues with gluten will never really get just how debilitating it can be to be glutened. Through consistent conversations, testing, and trial and error, hopefully you’ll be able to create a meal plan that the family will love so much they won’t even notice gluten is off the menu. Getting family to adopt a gluten free way of eating can be hard, but it’s the best way to protect your health long term.
My favorite book about Celiac onset (so far) is In Memory of Bread by Paul Graham. Look out for my full review coming soon. In the meantime, one of the things that really struck home with me in this book is that the author’s wife decided to remove gluten from her diet, and didn’t cheat on it, in an effort to protect him. To hear him talk about it was very moving.
10 TED Talks to Motivate Millennials
There are three particularly well received TED Talks that you’ve probably already seen: Brene Brown’s talk on Vulnerability, Tim Ferriss’ talk on how to learn anything, and Amanda Palmer’s talk on How to Ask. If you haven’t watched these, do it now and then come back. They are for sure required watching.
Do you remember your first TED Talk?
I do. I had a bunch of downloads while I was serving in Botswana, and needed something new to watch. Suddenly sitcoms, romantic comedies, and action films weren’t enough. My brain needed to absorb something new.
I just picked one at random. Many of the titles didn’t have full names so I didn’t know what I was settling in for. Honestly, my only major requirement was that it be longer than 15 minutes.
And what I saw blew my damn mind. Dave Egger’s talk regarding his wish – once upon a school completely upended my entire career path. Literacy, while important but not the focus of my time in Botswana, suddenly became championed for the rest of my Peace Corps service. After watching this video, I collaborated with my local primary school to start an english club and build a library. Those were by far my biggest accomplishments during my service, and they are directly related to my viewing of this video.
Dave Egger’s is just one of 10 videos included in this list. The following TED Talks are ones I’ve found to be particularly motivating during my Peace Corps service, and after. Upon watching them, I wanted to create change in the world. I wanted to be a better person. These TED Talks made me want to connect with my peers on a deeper level and start kicking ass and taking names.
I hope these TED Talks motivate you to change your life like they motivated me.
Ten TED Talks to Motivate Millennials
Maya Penn – Entrepreneur, Cartoonist, Designer, Activist
Tim Ferriss, Why you should define your fears instead of your goals
Dave Eggers: My Wish: Once Upon a School
How to Design a Library that makes kids want to read
Am I not Human? A Call For Criminal Justice Reform
How Students of Color can Confront Impostor Syndrome
The Unexpected Benefit of Celebrating Failure
It’s Time for Women to Run for Office
The Danger of a Single Story
If a Story Moves You, Act on it