Thursday, November 19, 2009


So I realized I never really went into how I turned my entire career upside down and went into personal training. I don't even really know if I mentioned I was going to do it (might have mentioned it here). I just stopped posting and then I came back and was like, "Blah, blah, quit my job, yadda yadda, and at the gym... ." So here's the story...
I had been working with a trainer at my gym downtown, and I kept complaining about how tired I always was and how much I hated my job (my soul felt it was being sucked out by the industrial strength vacuums my company sold). Slowly that turned into me asking my trainer about his certifications and how everyone at the gym had gotten into training. Finally, he just said, "Why don't you just get certified?" and it just all became so clear. He suggested that I go through ISSA, which turned out to be genius, because it's accredited by the US Department of Education, meaning that my nice office job would pay for it since it counted as continuing education!
Anyway, I planned to get certified, save up a little more money, and then transition into the new job. Well, only problem was that I hated my job SO much that it was affecting the rest of my life. I was so apathetic that I had no motivation to do anything. Except study, that is. Because I knew that the sooner I could get certified, the sooner I could get OUT of a job I knew in my heart was all wrong for me. So I studied nonstop for two months -- on the train, after work, all weekend long. I was just finishing the program when I decided that the day had come to put in my two-weeks notice. So I did, and on my last day of work, I found out I had passed my exam and had become a certified personal trainer. Whew.
Then I took a month off to just enjoy a Chicago summer. I read, I wrote, I tanned (yeah, yeah, I KNOW), I slept. I loved it, but I was ready to get back to work because I was getting restless (my Dad has told me before that he always thought I had ADHD), and, oh right, I was running out of moo-lah. So I decided I needed to start applying to gyms, but I already knew where I wanted to work. I interviewed at a few places, but I had always intended to work at the gym where I had originally trained as a client. I walked in and asked for the fitness director, and as soon as he saw me, he said, "Well, look who it is!" He had me fill out and application and set up a practical interview on the spot. I knew I was going to like this job!
Fast forward to two months later, and I'm slowly building up a client base and loving this job so much more than anything I've ever done. The days are long, and right now the pay is crappy, but I have so much more energy, and I'm so much more positive than I've been in quite some time. It was a change to go from working in a sedate office environment with mostly females to a loud gym with almost all dudes who say plenty of things that the feminist in me says I should be reporting to HR. (Kidding. Sort of.) But I really love everything about it. Work doesn't always feel like work, and exercising and talking to people are part of my job description. And I adore my coworkers, because in this job, it's not weird to be friends with the people you see most of the day. OH, and did I mention I get to wear sweats and spandex and running shoes all day? Plus, believe it or not, I actually feel like I'm using my degree more than I did before. I've always wanted to use my English and Women's Studies majors to do something with women's health/fitness, focusing especially on body image. This job is like the perfect case study for that! And I get to help people get healthy and feel better about themselves. And liking my job this much has motivated me even more to work on the other half of my dream -- writing. So, as I mentioned before, everything in my life might not be perfect right now, but I feel like I'm finally on the right track.
Big or small, what's something you've changed in your life lately?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Now?

Despite the fact that I have next to zero money. Despite the fact that I just experienced the first mini-heartbreak of my adult life. Despite the fact that Michigan football sucks this year. Despite the fact that I’m at work more than I’m at home. Despite the fact that I am still not a size 4 again like I was senior year. Despite the fact that Chicago has officially gone into winter mode. Despite the fact that I’ve got a million works in progress, but not one actual published piece of writing. Despite the fact that I don’t have everything figured out just yet.

Despite all of this, I am happy. I am more OK with the way my life is going than I have been in a long time. My head is a bit clearer, and I know where I want to go. Part of the fun of the next few years is going to be figuring out how I’ll get there. I’m more ready for this challenge than I have been in quite some time. I’m not going to come right out and say that everything is going to be great this time around, because I’ve done that before, and I’ve been wrong. But I do feel that something is different this time. I took a risk by quitting my nice, safe office job to start over as a trainer and a writer, and it’s scary, but that fear has helped me discover that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was. I started dating again, and for the first time I got tiny little cracks both in my heart and in my pride, but I learned that I still have enough glue to patch myself back up and survive. I’m enjoying life more than I have in a few years, despite the insecurity and the uncertainty, because I’ve realized that I'm making conscious choices to change the direction in which I’m headed.

I’ve made the mistake in the past of assuming that because one thing improves in my life that the whole of it will. But not this time. This time, I realize that I have to decide to be happy. That even though I am still going to have days where I don’t want to get out of bed, that even though I will still feel sometimes that nothing is going my way, I will always have the choice to look on the bright side. That I can turn it all around just by willing myself to be the optimist I was born to be.

So that’s it. I’m going to be happy.

(Watch your back, Tony Robbins. I’m gunning for your job.)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

See, I'm All About Them Words

[Note: I have to say that even though this blog is called The Verbal Filter, I normally do hold back a teeny bit. There are things that I don't always want on the Internet. However, I've decided that if I want to be a true writer, I have to accept the vulnerability that comes with putting my thoughts and feelings and experiences down for anyone and everyone to read. I'm taking a cue from my favorite quote and running with it: "If we had to say what writing is, we would define it essentially as an act of courage." -Cynthia Ozick]

Do you know what hurts the most about a breakup (or even the end of an unofficial relationship)? It’s not losing that person or having an empty bed again or even wishing you hadn’t wasted X amount of time with him. It’s not having to go back to being lonely and dreading the whole dating process again and getting slightly bitter when you see a million happy couples everytime you leave the house. As much as all of these things sting, the worst part is knowing that you can never have back everything you told him. Unlike the basketball shorts he left at your place or the toothbrush you left at his, you can’t ask for your secrets back. You can’t demand that he forget all of your vulnerabilities and all of your little habits that one only sees when it’s just you and him. You can’t get those back, and that’s the scariest part.

Sure, you still possess your quirks and the little mysteries it took a while for him to solve, and maybe the next person will learn these too, but the fact that someone else still has them, well that makes you sick to your stomach. It’s not just that he knows about your affinity for really terrible pop music or that you were the world’s most awkward kid or that you can be slightly OCD. Those are the things that endear you to friends and family, and that you know someone somewhere down the line will love you for as well. Those are not the things that take an enormous amount of courage to lay out there for judgment.

These things – the terrifying things – are those that you might tell the next person, in a moment of trust, about a darker time in your life you really don’t like to revisit. Or those confessions about yourself that only come out after you take a deep breath, because you worry they could snap the relationship right in two. But the last guy, and the one before him, and maybe even the one before that has all of that information too. And it’s annoying and frustrating and downright agonizing because he’s not using it, but he has it, tucked away on a shelf. And you realize that maybe that confession to him was the thing that did break whatever you had. Yet he’s still keeping it, like the gift he got for Christmas that he never really wanted, but is too selfish to give away to someone who might really appreciate it.

Words are the worst to lose, because once you let them loose, you can never fully get them back. Because you can’t touch them, and you can’t see them, but more than any of the tangible things that come with a relationship, you can feel them. Right where it hurts the most.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone

That's how you all feel about me right? (right?!)

Anyway, I realize I have been gone for quite some time, but I WILL be back. I've just needed to take some time away from a lot of things in life to... reassess. Where I'm going, what I'm doing, who I've become, and who I want to be.

Anyway, I'm also taking a little time to make sure I sleep... which is why I need to get to bed right this instant. I'll be back soon though, with lots of interesting things to share!

If not, I'll just tell you about more randoms that started talking to me on public transportation.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Everytime We Touch

Tonight, right before she went to bed, I asked my roommate for a hug.
That sounded strange, didn't it? The thing is, I'm realizing more and more that one of the biggest things I miss about college and being 45 minutes away from family is the physical human contact. In high school and college, I was super affectionate with my friends and I took it completely for granted. I don't know if it's the fact that I've become a little hardened from living in the city or because I have this notion that adults just don't hug willy-nilly whoever, but now hugging and touching the people I love is not part of my daily life.
I realized that tonight as I (sheepishly) asked my roommate, who is also one of my best friends, for a hug and she said, "Of course! Are you OK?" While I appreciated the hug and her concern, it dawned on me that when needing a hug only indicates that someone is hurting, there's a problem.
The thing is, I come from a pretty touchy-feely family and adore human contact. But tonight, not only was I appalled that I felt silly for asking for a hug from one of my best friends, but I was shocked that I couldn't recall the last embrace I'd had. I ran into a friend on the street on my way to the gym downtown a while ago and when we parted ways, I gave her the biggest hug ever. And before then it may have been when I saw friends at a bar for St. Patty's. And before that it was when my sister visited in mid-February. Guys, I'm averaging less than one hug per week. Sad, isn't it?
Anyway, I think maybe I should try to change this. Maybe that's part of why I've really felt down and not quite myself in Chicago yet. Not only am I losing touch with who I am, but I'm losing touch in general in a very literal way. In fact, hugging has become such a rarity that I've occasionally come close to bursting into tears from a quick squeeze from a good friend. (crazy woman alert) I've never been excessively emotional, but this little act overwhelms me, like someone is throwing me a life preserver and reminding me of who I am and that people are pretty wonderful. You didn't know the topic of hugging could be so philosophical, did you?
As silly as it might seem, I may have to start requesting hugs from my friends. I have plenty of people that I know here, so that's not the issue. It's that I shy away and remain aloof when everyone is hugging in big groups. And on top of that, I forgot how integral it is to who I am as a person and to my satisfaction with life. Hugs should be natural, yes, but I think I'm out of practice, so I'll just have to ask. I read a study somewhere (correct me if I'm wrong) that humans need something like seven hugs per day to maintain a happy lifestyle. So maybe I should make that my number one goal for the month of April (or start now so I can stop being a Debbie Downer ASAP)-- get a hug everyday and work my way up from there.
What do you guys think? How important is physical contact and hugging to you and your happiness quotient?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Change Would Do You Good

You know what, guys? I am in a serious dry spell. With pretty much every aspect of my life. I'm in need of inspiration from... somewhere. My love life (or lack thereof) could use a little shake up, my workouts have been boring and repetitive, my job is seeming a bit more monotonous than usual (still WAY better than my last one, so don't think I'm not thankful to have a job in this economy), my motivation for well, anything, is almost nonexistent, and I feel like I do the same thing every single weekend, if I really do anything at all. In short, I'm in a rut in a big way.
I'm not trying to be a downer here because I'm not usually a wallower, and I know i wrote about this before, but I guess I just need some advice. I can't get rid of this feeling. How do you shake things up when you really can't make any drastic changes? As much as I would love to move to Italy on a whim and just write and live this amazingly charmed, romantic life, I can't right now. Plus, even if I could, sometimes I'm a little too practical for my own good. I've got all of these grand plans for myself, but I am paralyzed by logic (dammit), and I worry, worry, worry. I'm only 23 (almost 24, eek), so this should be the time when I should try to up and leave the country or do the job I really want to do (personal training while freelance writing... that would be living the dream!), right? That way if I fall on my face, I can easily pick myself back up without worrying that I broke a hip or blew my kid's college fund. I mean... right?
Anyway, back to the original point of this post... how do you shake things up when you have limited room for shaking? Once i tackle that then I can conquer the rest of my big dreams. But for now... ideas?
BTW, this is something new and different for me... I'm telling you to go and check out Kelly T's blog to enter her amazing giveaway! Plus she's freaking hilarious, so if nothing else, you'll be laughing, even if you don't like free, cute workout gear. Which would make you crazy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Only the Good Die Young

Being Catholic is a very funny thing. And by funny I mean both comical and odd. Out of all of the Christian denominations, we probably have the best sense of humor our ourselves. Which comes in handy as we are the butt of plenty of jokes --half of which we make ourselves.
But being Catholic is also funny -- less in the ha-ha way and more in the 'that's-strange' way -- because it can make very little sense to those who are outside looking in. While not an intimidating faith (of course, what do I know? I've always been a part of it), our many rules and rites (and loopholes and justifications) form a complicated web that's hard for non-Catholics to comprehend. Sometimes I'm convinced that Catholics themselves don't even understand the ins and outs and whys and whats of what we do all of the time. How, then, is anyone else supposed to get it?
The other funny thing about being Catholic is that although most of us claim that our faith never wavers, I'll admit that we don't always act like it. We may do some things that require major repenting, but we never say we've stopped being Catholic. This is, of course, where the comedic aspect comes back in, since Catholics are (in)famous for our heavy guilt that one sometimes keeps us from committing the 'fun' sins (I may be headed to hell now for calling any sin 'fun'). We're known for our drinking (hello, St. Patrick's Day), and as a product of 13 years of Catholic school, I've been able to observe that chastity is not the best practiced lesson in our faith.
The thing is, we know all of this. We know we aren't perfect and we laugh at ourselves. A LOT. My senior year --at my Catholic high school, mind you -- I played the gospel nun in a show called "Nunsense." I got lots of jokes after this, but whatev, I got to sing all soulful for once, and we wore hilarious habits, and... well, and that's not the point. The point is, the whole play was full of sexual innuendos and references to the hilarities of Catholic school, rulers and all. And we performed it at my Catholic high school and at half of the other Catholic schools in the area because the administration thought it was that damn funny. They actually thought that dirty jokes referencing St. Peter (without the pearly gates) and a crucifix whistle were knee slappers.
Anyway, you're probably wondering what prompted me to suddenly discuss my faith, since it's not something I normally do. Well, today was Ash Wednesday and I was reminded of it on every street downtown. Sometimes I forget how Catholic the city of Chicago is -- that is, until the beginning of Lent when I see black smudges on every other forehead and until St. Patrick's Day when all you hear about is the South Side parade and all of the crazy Irish Catholics running amok.
Today my roommate said that the line for getting ashes was around the block on her lunch break. I went after work and there wasn't much of one, but I thought it was semi-hilarious that we could just walk in, kneel down, get the ashes rubbed on our foreheads, and then proceed to the nearest exit sign. It was like drive-through Catholicism today. No mass or anything. Things like this are another reason I think a lot of people laugh at us. Certain rituals are ridiculously outdated (women not being allowed to be priests; priests not being allowed to marry, although there are exceptions to that), but then we also try to be really progressive and adaptable in other areas. My parish in college supported the LGBTQ community pretty openly and my Catholic high school didn't banish the four girls from my class who graduated pregnant. And then we also make sacraments and rituals fit into our daily lives, like today with the blessing on the go. Don't get me wrong, I love being Catholic, I really, truly, honestly do. But I have to chuckle at some of our ideas. And, really, I just couldn't help but think about all of that today and how Catholicism as a whole gets a bad name, when we're just the fun-loving rascals of the Christian family. We might mess up every now and then, but for the most part, we're not really going to hurt anyone. Either way, we probably make you look good -- and hey, at least we're entertaining, right?
BTW, while we're on the topic, for Lent I decided to give up chocolate and also to make it a point to pray everyday. It's a habit I got out of, and would like to start up again, because sadly, even though my faith is always there, sometimes I forget about it :-/. Is anyone else who celebrates Easter giving anything up/doing something for Lent?