What I Learned From Beginning Again

I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I disembarked at JFK, a brand new transplant in NYC. I’d left behind the seedlings of a new life in L.A. a mere five years earlier, arriving fresh-faced from London. Those tiny kernels, planted in the omnipresent sunshine, had yet to sprout roots before the East Coast beckoned my name. 

My workplace was closing its California office and I found myself schlepping eastwards to the Head Office, dragging my reluctant long-term boyfriend from the clutches of his beloved Los Angeles. 

We navigated the rental market with trepidation, cognizant of horror stories of sociopathic brokers and rat infested hovels. We unpacked our belongings, slowly adjusting to the barbie-sized apartment with closets seemingly only able to contain barbie’s intimate apparel. 

We began to carve out a new life in this inimitable city. We planted new seeds. 

The fairytale didn't last long. 

My love affair with the city started to blossom, growing in intimacy as I uncovered it’s peculiar habits and it’s insidiously smelly parts. Yet my boyfriend’s experience began to resemble the aftermaths of a one-night stand. Regret and remorse eroded any remnants of his former desire for the city. 

I loved the feeling of freedom the subway provided; how it transported me through the arteries of the city to neighborhoods unknown with the swipe of my MetroCard. He missed his car. 

I loved the never-ending rotation of restaurants that could satisfy the most adventurous of palates at any hour. He missed his local bar.

I welcomed the extremities of the changing seasons, relishing my new winter wardrobe. He refused to leave the apartment when the mercury dropped below zero.

I embraced my new beginnings with abandon, attending writing courses and networking events seeking out like-minded people to befriend. He perused FaceBook and yearned for his West Coast buddies. 

Time passed. My seeds germinated, growing tiny roots but roots nonetheless. My boyfriend abandoned his and sank into a depressive state.

What started out as a dream slowly morphed into a nightmare. An ever-widening chasm opened between us, splitting us further apart until the only way we could communicate was by screaming at each other. Apparently the only joint trait we had emulated from NYC. 

After what felt like the 800th fight over “this fucking city” we broke for good. I chose NYC. He chose L.A. 

And in the blink of an eye, I got to experience yet another side of the city I’d never been exposed to. Single life.

It’s been six years since I stepped off that plane. Some dreams have materialized; others vanished into the thrumming sidewalk air. I’ve carved out a life for myself and the city has been with me every step of the way. It has forced me to my knees at times but it has also shown me how to get back up. 

My experience taught me that in life, nothing turns out the way we expect it to. That expectations are simply that, expectations. And the greater they are, the larger margin for disappointment to come creeping in. I’m not advocating that every risk taken in life won’t turn out the way it was planned, but it is of vital importance to remain unattached to the final outcome, however it manifests itself. 

For when we make our demands on life, how it should be, what it should look like, how long it will take, this is in essence control energy. We are trying to control the outcome instead of rolling with the outcome. 

And here’s the funny thing about final outcomes, whether we love them or hate them, they are always for our greatest good, even if we can’t see it at the time. They teach us something that we would never have learned if we simply got what we wanted. 

Had I been gifted the life of my dreams upon arriving in NYC I would have learned nothing about struggle and how the darkest times illustrated just exactly how much inner strength I was in possession of.

And most importantly I would have learned nothing about love; I would never have learned that despite all our best efforts, love is effusive and it is not always designed to last in certain relationships. Learning that relationships are one of our biggest teachers in life and sometimes it isn’t about making it work but simply having the courage to know when to walk away for good. 

Attempting anything new in life is scary because we are ultimately taking a risk. Sometimes things won’t turn out the way we dreamed they would, but they will always turn out the way that they were meant to. As Joseph Campbell once said “We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”


Victoria Cox currently resides in NYC. She has written for Amanda de Cadenet's "The Conversation", Tiny Buddha, Elephant Journal, LifeHack, The Lady Project, Dumb Little Man and The Numinous. You can connect with her on her website (www.thevictoriacox.com) or on Instagram (@vcox23).

Photo by Death To The Stock Photo

New Routine, New Beginning

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You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.
— John C. Maxwell

I admit it. I love routine. I like getting up every day at 6 am and going to the 6 pm Zumba class at my gym on Friday night and doing laundry on Wednesdays. This type of organized and structured lifestyle frees me from the chaos and stress of just “winging it.” Now, that’s not to say that I don’t think a break from routine is good every once in a while, in fact, I think it’s necessary to take a step back and re-evaluate.  

Like many of us, I usually step away from my routine around the holidays, and not always because I want to. Usually, things are so busy that I have no choice but to let my routines slide. I used to stress about not being on a routine during this time, but this past holiday season I gave myself permission to be routine-less. And, I have to admit, it was amazing. I slept in, skipped Zumba classes, and didn’t do laundry every week. During this time I did a lot of thinking and planning and goal setting. Not having my normal routines gave me the freedom and the mental and emotional space to think about some new routines that I want to introduce in my life.  

I recently saw a commercial for Special K that I thought had a really great message for the New Year. January should be about beginnings and about starting new things, not punishing ourselves for having fallen off the wagon during the holidays. I truly believe that having routines is the key to success and to reaching the goals that we set for ourselves.  
 

Your life today is essentially the sum of your habits. What you repeatedly do ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.
— James Clear

Not convinced yet that resetting with routines will work for you? I have a little story I’d like to share that has inspired me and I hope will inspire you as well. I have a friend and co-worker that started a new routine at the beginning of last year because she was struggling with some issues in her life. She was unhappy, unsure of herself, and in a constant negative cycle. She turned to a new routine to help reset herself.

She started getting up at 5:30am and would take her dog to Roger Williams Park for a 3-mile walk before work. She did this every day, no matter what. Even when it was hard, when she had work deadlines, school, or wasn’t feeling well, she still got up and went. And this routine reset the entire trajectory that she was on. Last week, she told me that the routine had become such an integral part of her life and of her own self-discovery that she decided to start a blog about it. I know I have seen the change in her first-hand. She is happier, more content and confident, and fulfilled. And all because she decided to reset and start a new routine.

So, happy new beginnings, my friends. All it takes is the courage to start and the discipline to keep going.

Do you have a new routine you’d like to start this year? How are you resetting after the holidays? I’d love to hear from you!

For more information about starting new routines, check out this great resource: https://jamesclear.com/three-steps-habit-change

Reset Your Mindset // Knowing When It Is Time To Change

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I am the master of knowing when I need to start over, especially in my career. I realize that this particular job does not meet my career needs, or I feel as though I am not being paid what I'm worth and I put my two weeks in and I bounce. On to the next job where inevitably the same cycle occurs. During my last ride on the merry go round, I dug deep and realized that I end up in the same situations because I am still in the same headspace. You are not going to see a change until you make a change within yourself. 

One must proactively decide that they are going to do things differently and set a plan in action. It will undoubtedly be difficult, as you are stepping out of your normal routine to embark on this journey to (insert goal to be crushed here). The epiphany started out just about my career but as the year slowly dwindled towards its completion I realized that the same sentiments applied to my health, mentally and physically, as well as some of my relationships. I was unhappy with the way things were going and for me. 2018 is all about making a change. I will become a Phoenix rising from the ashes of my old mindset ready to start a new with an open mind, a open heart and an optimistic first foot forward into the new year.

What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?

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It's funny how we can remember specific dates for various reasons. Ask someone what they had for dinner last night, and they couldn't tell you, ask them the year they were married, and it comes out effortlessly. 2017 is that year for me. 

No, it is not the year I became engaged or married for that matter, it was the year I chose to reset my life. But before I get to the end, let's go back a few steps.

March 2015. It was the only month in my life to date that I distinctly remember experiencing every emotion possible within a matter of hours. I was one month away from getting my fiance back from a six-month deployment with the United States Marine Corps. It was also the month the first step in my wedding planning took flight with our save the date cards. The exact day I received those in the mail is the exact day I was woken up at 3:30 am by my fiance to tell me he had received his next set of orders; they were to the Middle East for one year. Without me.

My entire life I have always been a solution-oriented person. I never live my life under the ideology that any problem you encounter in life cannot be solved; 'where there is a will, there is a way' may as well be my official slogan. Our solution came in the form of pushing up every plan we had, get married at a courthouse, file the necessary paperwork, and move us overseas.

Within a 12 week period, I became married, quit my job, said goodbye to as many friends and family as possible, put one foot in front of the other and did what needed to be done. We arrived in Bahrain on August 13, 2015, with four suitcases, one dog, one cat, and an overwhelming feeling of 'what just happened'.

Within the first two months of being in this new culture, this new country, this new way of life, I sat alone. Part of the added surprise once we arrived was being informed that my husband would be afforded the opportunity to travel frequently for his job. 

I cried almost every single day the first six months we were there.

If you were to ask anyone who was there during this time, they would tell you that I was okay, that I was taking it well, and how strong I was. The truth of it all was I was crumbling inside. When I look back at this period now, I can say, unequivocally that I was depressed. 

Time, as it often does moves on and eventually, I found employment as a contractor for the Federal Government. This would be a job that would accompany me back to the United States in the summer of 2017. It passed the time, but I still felt like something was missing.

What I have come to realize is that out of this period of my life where I struggled more than ever before, I learned so much about myself. I learned that I was living a lot of my life for my husband. I somehow had become entirely reliant on him for my happiness and fulfillment in life. If the 20-something version of me saw this, surely she would be upset. I could not disappoint myself in this way.

As we moved towards our move back to America I made a promise to myself; I would only live a life of happiness. This happiness had to be created by me; it could not come entirely from someone else. 

Within three months of being back in California the contracting job that I had been thrilled to get overseas (because any employment was considered good) made me wake every single day with dread at having to go to it. I was breaking the promise to myself and what was worse was that I knew it. I allowed this to continue for two weeks until I mustered up the courage to turn in my notice and quit.

I had no employment lined up on the back end. I had not reached out to anyone about employment or worked my network. I simply quit something that was not providing me a life filled with happiness. 

The day following my notice being accepted I spent the bulk of the morning thinking about when my happiest times have been during my professional career; helping people and writing. Since this time I spend everyday writing.

I mustered the courage to start my travel blog to enlighten people about the various cultures that exist around the world in the hopes it inspires others to get out of their comfort zone. I have gravitated towards writing pieces for organizations who have inspiration as a driving factor for their existence.

You see here's the thing, I found my unhappiness and flipped the switch, but there is a gut-check moment associated with this. There is a component of complete selfishness as you tell the world that you are putting yourself first; you are choosing you. At the end of the day, I have come to realize, that if we don't truly love ourselves, loving others and showing them love, becomes a daunting task.

Life is a wonderfully scary place sometimes. Often the fear of the unknown or failure cripples us. We wake up one day wondering what happened to our life. Don't allow yourself to be one of those people. I didn't, and you don't have to either. So I ask you, what would YOU do if you weren't afraid?

My name is Adriana, and I'm a military spouse with a passion for people, travel, and culture. I've lived overseas as well as in America, and I believe anything is possible with the right tribe, so I strive to bring as many on my adventure as possible. See what happens when you step out of your comfort zone!

Letter From The Editor // Reset

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The last two weeks of 2017 I spent planning and getting ready for the new year. I watched as many motivational videos on YouTube as possible. I did tarot card readings for 2018. I was ready. I had a fantastic New Year’s Eve with the people I love the most and danced until 4am. And then the next day I was hit with the flu. I spent the first week of 2018 stuck in my apartment recovering. Talk about the universe saying you need to chill out and get your body right. I know the first week of the new year can be pretty high pressure for some people when they’re trying their best to not ruin their new year’s resolutions. This past week gave me the time to sit back and reevaluate the way I, and others, approach the start of the new year.

1. No more resolutions

I swear nothing positive happens from making a resolution. They usually fall flat by February and that leaves people sad, unmotivated, and blaming themselves. Instead, I make two separate lists - one for goals I would like to accomplish and one for intentions I want to set for myself. The goals are actionable items I would like to get done by the end of 2018. Things like “travel to three different places that aren’t New York City” and “get published in five magazines”. While goals are the actionable steps I want to take, intentions are how I want to feel. You always hear people say they have the resolution to lose weight. Well, the weight loss industry is a 60 BILLION dollar a year business designed to make you fail, which lends right into people feeling discouraged when they can’t achieve their desired weight. How about set the intention to feel good in your body? Goals and intentions work hand in hand so set goals to make you feel good in your body. Set goals like "reduce your refined sugar intake," “do more yoga at home,” and “buy a new piece of lingerie every month.” I think that would make me feel a lot better than just saying that I want to lose weight.

2. Start again tomorrow

Say you decide to do Yoga With Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga starting on January 2nd and you got hit with the flu (yes, I am talking about myself right now). Now it’s a week after it started and you feel like what’s even the point of starting because you didn’t start when you wanted. Sometimes we hit roadblocks and we get completely sidelined. When we start doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that we did start at all. You made the goal to read 20 pages a day but then you got busy and missed a few days. It’s ok. Just start again tomorrow. It’s ok if you break the chain. Let’s take the pressure off ourselves. If we mess up, we’ll just pick up where we left off tomorrow. 

3. It’s ok to change your mind

My word of the year for 2017 was “start.” I said at a word of the year workshop that one of the things I was going to start working on was my book. During 2017 I realized writing a book wasn’t something that was important to me anymore. It didn’t resonate with me like it did before. Why would I waste time on something that was not going to bring me any fulfillment? So, I gave up on that idea. Letting go of a goal that no longer serves you doesn’t make you or that particular project a failure. You are now making space for the right projects to come into your life. 

I hope you all had a happy and safe New Years. This month on The Lady Project blog we will be pressing the Reset button. We’ll be sharing the ways we had to pull a do-over. How we needed to take a step back and start over. I hope you enjoy.

Warmly,
Brittanny Taylor
Editor-in-chief

Holiday Guide 2017 Feature // Feeling Sad? When To Seek Care For The Winter Blues

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As the days chill, the leaves turn bright reds and yellows, and everyone seems to refresh their closets with new sweaters. Yet, many people dread this time of year. If you are one of the many who suffers from winter blues or seasonal depression Stephanie Hartselle, MD is here to help you take care of yourself this winter. Read more in The Lady Project 2017 Holiday Gift Guide on page 12.

Holiday Guide 2017 Feature // Buttery Butterscotch Cookie Bars

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Looking for a delicious snack to munch on while you watch your favorite holiday classics? Check out The Lady Project 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for an easy + fun buttery butterscotch cookie bar recipe by Shayla O'Keeffe on Check it out in on page 20.

Holiday Guide 2017 Feature // 5 Self-Honoring Holiday Rituals For Busy Women

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From making gift lists to running in and out of stores, the holidays have a way of keeping us busy and on the go. Here are 5 self-honoring holiday rituals for busy women by Solange Lopes of The Corporate Sister to remind us to enjoy this time + celebrate ourselves in the process just click the link in our bio to read more. Check it out in The Lady Project 2017 Holiday Gift Guide on page 24.

Holiday Stress

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Like a lot of people, I have fond childhood memories of holidays. Bikes under the tree, making cookies, The Partridge Family Christmas album. (Maybe that last one is just me, or not. If you also loved this record, we need to talk!) Christmas seemed magical and fun. I say this because anytime I talk about the holidays being incredibly stressful and not all glitter and good cheer, people assume I must have had a miserable childhood that lacked Christmas magic, or that I hate Christmas. Neither is true, but as I’ve gotten older, that sense of magic has been replaced with trepidation.

But here’s the thing, I’ve learned that I am not alone in feeling stress and anxiety when I see those holiday decorations start to pop up earlier and earlier each year. I worked retail through 5 holiday seasons and when helping customers I often felt like a bartender listening to her regulars. Shoppers would unload all kinds of feelings about the holidays, feelings they felt more comfortable telling a total stranger.

If you are one of those people who can’t imagine anyone not loving the holidays, take a moment to think about these different scenarios. 

Spending can be stressful.

Money can be a huge source of stress any time of the year, but that stress can be easier to manage without feeling external holiday pressure. People may be putting gifts on credit cards because money is tight, or buying gifts for people they don’t really care about. (Office Secret Santas, I’m talking to you, you’re the worst offender.)

Gift giving can be stressful.

Lots of people hate shopping, and while they love giving someone something perfect, going out to find something perfect one evening can be painful. Then there are also the gifts people feel obligated to give, which can bring up feelings of resentment.

Families can be stressful.

No family is perfect, and a lot of families are downright anxiety-inducing and come with years of baggage. Stressing about whether this person will do that, or say this, or behave that way can be something people worry about for weeks before the actual day. It’s also very sad missing those family members who have passed away.  

Traveling can be stressful.

If you do not live near the people you celebrate with, it can be a big (and expensive) task just to get there. And this also means you never get to celebrate in your own home.

Relationships can be stressful.

Christmas ads often feature romantic scenes of couples ice skating and giving diamonds while a light snow falls under a full moon. There are plenty of couples not feeling the romance, and add to that some of the above life stress, and it can be a particularly painful.

Alcohol can be stressful.

Let’s face it, alcohol is usually a part of celebrating and if it’s not in your home, it is at least portrayed in advertising, shows, and movies. There are a lot of people trying to stay sober or struggling with alcohol. There are also a lot of families who have been affected by an alcoholic.

Traditions can be stressful.

I feel like this can be the hardest one to understand, as traditions can also be what makes the holidays so special. Some traditions endure, and that’s great, but some traditions feel forced or get permanently damaged over the years. What may have been a fun with a house of little kids, may not be fun with adult children. Going along with traditions that feel uncomfortable or outdated can cause impending dread, and also ruin the memories of when those traditions were fun.

For those who can’t fathom anyone being stressed this time of year, slow down, take a breath and try to be understanding to those who are. Fight the urge to call them Scrooge, the Grinch or make jokes about giving coal. Instead, see if you can offer help, or just an ear to listen.

For those who do feel stressed, you’re not alone. Remember, it’s ok to say no to parts of the holiday season you don’t enjoy any more. And saying no doesn’t mean you can’t say yes next year. Life is different year to year, and how you celebrate the holidays can be different too. Try to focus on what in particular is making the holidays stressful for you, and enjoy the parts of it that are still fun.

Holiday Guide 2017 Feature // 8 Ways To Be Mindful Of A Friend's Hidden Holiday Challenges

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While the holiday season is commercially represented as the most wonderful time of the year, for many people, that simply isn't the reality. Here are some ways from Maggie Jordan of Zencare to recognize when a loved one or community member may be struggling and concrete steps to make their holiday season a little bit brighter. Check it out in The Lady Project 2017 Holiday Gift Guide on page 16.