Posted in life

2017…another year in the books

2017 has reminded me just how grateful I should be, how thankful I am for the amazing people in my life and how blessed I am to live this life I have!

I’m not going to lie, 2017 started out as a rough year. 40 days in, my life changed forever. Dealing with my mom’s passing was rough, and I really thought it was going to define the year. While I am sure I will always remember that as the most influential part of my 2017, I have been blessed with a multitude of other experiences to make this year enjoyable in the days since. Here are my top 17 highlights from 2017:

  1. Monroe got a new yoga studio – Blue Lotus Yoga, opened by a dear friend of mine who has entrusted me with help her with her social media and website, and all the while it has only made Elaina and me better friends.
  2. My friend Mary came to visit from down south just to keep me company and be with me for a tough weekend. While it was a short visit, it is one I will always remember as she but her own life on hold for the weekend to be there for me at the drop of a hat.
  3. I got my 3rd tattoo – it’s my mom’s handwriting and says “Love, Mom”, taken off the Christmas card she wrote me last year.
  4. Tom and I went to see Jake Owen in concert! (I have to get at least one country concert in each year.)
  5. Once I finally had a chance to leave home for a bit, I visited Jenna and saw Oregon and Washington for my first time! We went beer tasting around Portland (along with whiskey and wine tasting) and even had a flight across the gorge in Washington! I was also able to see Mulnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge before they were hit with a devastating wild fire. Also, while in Portland, Jenna took me to my very first professional soccer game – and I will admit that I loved it!
  6. I spent Mother’s Day weekend in DC with Emily – wine tasting around Virginia and taking in another Nationals game.
  7. I completed my 2nd Warrior Dash with some awesome ladies from my softball team.
  8. I got a dirt bike!!!
  9. Spent Labor Day up on Cape Cod with Tom, Jenna and her family to wish her farewell before her next chapter of life and adventures in Cambodia! And since it was me and Jenna, rum, gin and wine tasting were all on the menu! Along with a 20+ mile bike ride on the rail trail. And we even caught a sight of seals off the coast in Provincetown.
  10. Finally took in a Bridgeport Bluefish game at Harbor Yard before they left town for good.
  11. And even though Hurricane Irma rained out the Tampa 2017 installment of #ktomandlamargotimlbtour, we booked a last minute trip to Cleveland where we saw the Indians win 21 straight games (and then break their win streak two days later). Plus we saw the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and cruised on the Great Lake to see a different side of Cleveland.
  12. I finally made it to Canada thanks to a work trip to Montreal. And though I didn’t have time for sightseeing, there was time to pick up pure Canadian maple syrup to bring home! Work also sent me to Atlanta, so I finally stepped foot outside the airport. And was able to experience some southern BBQ while we dined. My final work trip sent me to Torino, Italy for a week. And included a 7 hour layover in Frankfurt, which gave me ample time to go walk around the city instead of just hanging out in the airport.
  13. After wanting to learn for a long time, I dove in and took a calligraphy class at Joyful Noise Paper and have been enjoying practicing my new hobby ever since.
  14. I spent November writing my 30 Days of Thanks and looking back on all of the blessings I have in my life.
  15. I was elected chair of Monroe Youth Commission.
  16. I survived 3 straight days of Christmas baking – making 100 raspberry thumprints + 121 chocolate chip cookies + 3 Irish soda breads + 81 meringues + 45 chocolate covered pretzels…all for the weekend before Christmas. And that doesn’t include anything I made for Christmas itself, which we hosted for the 1st time this year.
  17. The Gotimer family grew again as Lizzie and Brian got married!
Posted in 30 Days of Thanks

Day 14 – Time Off

I am thankful that I had three and a half months off last year between jobs. Don’t get me wrong, it was oh so stressful when it was happening and I didn’t know how we’d pay all our bills, but in hindsight I learned a lot of lessons during that time. It gave me time to relax, rest and focus on myself. I was able to realize that I am worth more than I give myself credit for. I learned the true value of friends and family. But most of all, I was able to clear my head and get back to being me. Now that I’m at a new job, I’ve got a work-life balance, and a separation of the two 😊

And while it isn’t realistic that you’ll always be able to take that type of time off, I’m quite looking forward to having 19 days off for the holidays this year!

Posted in Dear Mom

the house that built me

Dear Mom,

It’s only been a few months but I find myself wanting to call or text you nearly daily about simple things — like the sunrise on the way to work or how often we see cardinals. There was the one time I walked out of the front door at your house and saw a cardinal perched in the pine tree in front of my old bedroom, it was as if the bird was just watching Tom and I as we moved all of the items we were donating our front to be picked up. Was that you? Were you trying to tell me you were pleased that we were donating so much and threw so little out?

Then there was the time I wanted to tell you who is buying your house. You always loved to here about reconnecting with people and finding out about people from our childhood. Well here’s a good one, mom, one of my high school classmates is buying your house with her husband. You would have loved to know that.

And with that, I said goodbye to your house today; the house you raised me in. My childhood memories are rooted in that white ranch. I’ve been here often this year, more times since Thanksgiving than I have probably been here since I moved out almost four years ago. You always made sure to have time for me when I came to town to go to the dentist or to get an oil change, but I left today not only knowing that 70 Flat Rock is no longer somewhere I can go home to, but not even knowing when I may be back in this town.

I know this hasn’t been my home for a while but it will always be the home I think of when remembering my childhood. It felt like I had to say farewell to the final piece of you today. I promise I’ll still visit you and think of you often, just because I won’t be going home again doesn’t mean I’ll be thinking of you any less.

Love,
Lauren

Posted in TNGG

What are Your Guilty Plea$ure$

As originally posted here on TNGG…

Unfortunately, our party lifestyle, coupled with a bad economy, has given more than just the New York Times the idea that our generation has yet to “grow up.” One undisputed Gen Y talent is spending money; turns out a few of us actually have some! Even after rent and college loan payments, we still have a couple pennies to scrape together for ‘disposable income’ and we’re just dying to go out and spend it. So without further ado, I give you the coveted guilty pleasures Gen Y just can’t live without:

Booze — All of us are either still in college, or recent grads who aren’t quite ready to give up the college lifestyle. Whether you’re a wine snob or a beer geek, you spend your money on booze. When an old friend is in town on a business trip, we don’t offer to take them on a tour of our home city, we suggest drinks. It’s a work night? Who cares? There’s a happy hour special at the bar around the corner. You’ll be here for the weekend? Well then, obviously we’ll need to go hit up the best new club in town and then it’s off to the karaoke bar before we head home (or to breakfast!).

Coffee — Whether you’re a Dunkin Devotee, Starbucks Siren or Tim Hortons is your morning kickstart, we love our coffee and we need the caffeine to get us through the work day after we were out the night before — caffeine is our legal drug of choice. (Have you seen the answers to the “10 Questions for…” series on TNGG? Almost everyone lists coffee as something they can’t live without.) We rely on coffee. Our bosses better not ask us to start a project before our first latte (better make it a double!).

Drugs — Hello, have you met a Millennial lately? Our mantra is, “It’s my life; I can do what I want!” This holds true for the drugs that we do, and when we’re stressed out because that cup of coffee didn’t come soon enough, they help calm us down. Prescription drugs are readily accessible, we know this and we take advantage of it.

Technology — A force that has always been a part of our live. We have netbooks, laptops, iPods and e-readers in addition to our BBFL smartphones. We depend on technology to give us immediate answers to everything. We are addicted and we don’t even care. If they’re not in our hands, they are attached to our hips (literally!) or securely tucked in a back pocket. They accompany us every time we stand up from our desk because we can’t delay in replying to the latest person who tweeted at us. My biggest fear of losing my purse in the city is not my wallet (it’s not like we carry cash on us anymore — debit cards and my work ID are easily replaceable), it’s that I will lose so many things I don’t know how I could live without (iPod/iPhone). Like everyone else, I don’t have the patience to sit still for that long with nothing to do. And how could I possibly last a week without social media these days?

Vacations/Getaways — many of us still live at home and no one wants to be home in their house with their parents all the time. We went away to college and then our friends who used to live within walking distance dispersed all over the world. We value our leisure time and we’re traveling more than the older generations. We are still grasping at our dreams — when we were little, our parents told us when we got bigger, we’d have the whole world at our hands. Now that we’re all grown up, we want to travel the world. Maybe we can’t all go backpack through Europe because we’ve got those pesky student loans and rent payments on our shoulders every month, but one thing full-time jobs come with is paid vacation time and we take advantage of every single day available to us.

Spending money on our guilty pleasures helps keep us sane and appeases our addictions — because face it, that’s what most of our guilty pleasures are… or turn into. So long as we’re smart (hopefully?) there’s nothing wrong with indulging every now and again, right?

What about you? Any other guilty pleasures I left off the list?

Photo by BruceTurner
Posted in society

Type Softly & Carry a Big Stick

To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, “type softly and carry a big stick; what you type will go far”. Part of why Millennials are given a bad rep is because regardless of the fact that we are all legal adults at this point, some of us still act like immature, five-year-olds — many do so for the entire world to see on the stages laid out in front of us thanks to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media and networking outlets. Unfortunately, it is when we act irresponsibly and immaturely in public that older generations seem to take note. Older generations aren’t even the only ones who think we lack ethics online. Last week my fellow TNGG writer, Federico Pieracci, pointed out that when u write like dis, you look “like an absolute tool”. In today’s technologically driven, web-based world, we are what we type and post — both socially and professionally.

Facebook, LinkedIn & Twitter are all great tools — they are integral parts of many of our lives and all three should be used for their different purposes. Facebook is a great tool to stay in touch with people you (hopefully) know. It can be a great help when planning events, sharing pictures and keeping tabs on friends that live far away. LinkedIn is wonderful to help find jobs and stay connected with others in your industry; it’s also somewhere you might not want to update your status with every waking thought you have. Twitter is a bit more of a free-for-all; it is a place to share random thoughts, interesting articles, commenting on the live awards show and for stirring debates with virtual strangers. When scrolling through our various news feeds, people look for articles and comments that are going to interest them, not bored them to death — personally, I prefer posts that are going to make me think a little. (I’m not saying that you can never post to all at once, I’m obviously going to post a link to this article on all three of my profiles – but that’s because it works for all three audiences.)

Many are aware of the line that can be crossed by sharing TMI (too much information). While the line can be a thin one, and one that varies depending on the audience, some people have no problem ignoring the line and catapulting well beyond it. People do NOT want to read about what you and your significant other did in the privacy of your bedroom (nor do they care if you were able to find a new place to do it). While the TMI line is a widely known one, perhaps a more important line is the one drawn by what netiquette deems appropriate.

The golden rule of netiquette is to be smart. In the same way you need to filter some thoughts so they don’t come out of your mouth and offend others, make sure the same is done before you type something that you can’t take back. Recently Carrie James, of Harvard University, conducted a study which showed that young people lack online ethics. When you think about it, doesn’t it make sense? Why wouldn’t the same ethical norms in societies hold true online? The internet has given us a privilege, one that allows us access to more knowledge and resources then previous generations.

As with many privileges, this tends to become abused when people think they can have anything they want, with one click of the mouse, and of course it’s all expected to be free. It is not socially acceptable by most to walk into a store and steal a CD from the shelf, so why is it OK to download the music illegally online? Piracy of music and movies are not the only ways that things are stolen online. Ideas and work are becoming easier to plagiarize with such rampant googling skills that Millennials learn when trying to find information they are looking for — plagiarism can even be found in 140-characters or less on Twitter.

Netiquette extends beyond our actions to what we post online as well, especially when you forget who your audience is — everyone. Employers and schools are using social media sites to watch over what their employees and students, both current and future, have done and are doing. It is possible to get fired because of Facebook. Making a statement about hating your boss and job aren’t the only thing that can do it, you don’t want to call out sick and then post pictures of you at a party instead either.

Don’t forget, the Library of Congress is archiving all public tweets and there is no time limit on how long sites with your name on them will appear in Google search results (my high school track results from 10 years ago are still there). So, before you decide to tweet your next thought, ask yourself is this something that you’d be OK with if your grandma, boss and children 20 years from now see? Safe bet, if it passes that test, it won’t do you much damage.

**picture from World New Australia

Posted in society

Being Famous Isn’t Everything

I have been catching up on some of the blogs that I follow and one post that my friend Jason made on his blog made me think about this post that I am going to write. He wrote about the cost of fame. Jason said listed the possible benefits of fame as:

  1. a legacy/being remembered
  2. the ability to influence what others think (whether right or wrong!)
  3. financial stability

He also listed the possible disadvantages of fame as:

  1. being under the public spotlight
  2. determining who your friends are
  3. higher probability of stalkers/assassinations

Jason was weighing these against each other and decided that his anonymity was more important to him than the possible cons of fame. This got me thinking…you don’t need to be famous to have the pros that he listed. Not only do you not need to be famous to have those things, but I would hope that everyone wants all of those things whether they be famous or not. I know I want all of these things.

I don’t necessarily know that I want to leave a legacy persay, but I do want to be remembered when I die. There’s a saying that goes something like ‘when I’m gone, I want people to smile when they remember me’. I don’t need everyone in the world to remember me and I certainly don’t want some spectacle to erupt such as when Michael Jackson died. I want my friend and family to remember the good times and I hope I can make a big enough impact on some of them that they tell others about me.

This brings me to my next point. I hope that I can influence people and I hope I can be a positive influence on them (check out my bucket list, I want to inspire someone and make a difference in someone’s life). I mean, who doesn’t want to positively influence others. I want to be a good role model. I work with a youth group and my goal is to always be a positive influence for them. I want them to make the right choices in life and I want to help them get through the turmoil that is high school. When I’m a mother, I want my kids to follow in my footsteps. I want them to do good and to take my advice. Not only do I want to be able to influence their actions, but I am not opposed to influencing their thoughts. I want to be able to make others see that there is a reason to be kind to others. I want to be able to make others see that there is all the reason in the world to try and be a good person.

The third thing Jason listed was financial stability. Now on this one, who doesn’t want it? I don’t want to be wealthy, just financial secure. I want to own my own car and home. I don’t want to be in debt. I want to be able to provide for my family and send my kids to college. I’m not going to ask for a handout. I want to work hard to gain my financial stability. I like knowing the true value of a dollar and don’t want someone to be able to pull out my stability from under me.

Jason also said their were cons to being famous. I think that these things can also apply to others. Maybe we are not all subject to living in the public spotlight as much as famous people, but we all have some sort of public that is watching us. When you come from a small town like me, people know too much about everyone else. Gossip runs rampant through our society and we are all victims of it. And most of us, myself included, can’t complain and wish to be exempt from it, as we all partake in gossiping.

Everyone has to deal with figuring out who their friends are. I have been having this issue all my life, as so many others have as well. It’s not even just having to figure out who your friends are, but figuring out who your friends should be. Maybe some of our friends are really just a bad influence on us. If that’s the case, do you really want to stay friends with them? Maybe someone wants to be friends with you because you know someone or have something that will benefit from them. Perhaps this makes it even more dangerous for those of us who aren’t in the public spotlight all the time because we are not always aware that people may just be out there to use us, not be our true friends.

The third was that famous people have a higher probability of having stalkers and assassinations. I disagree. I don’t know what the statistics are, but there are definitely tons of people who aren’t famous and have stalkers. And maybe non-famous people aren’t being assassinated, but I’m pretty sure there are tons for murders than assassinations every year. The only difference is, the famous people are the ones in the spotlight, just because we don’t hear about all of them doesn’t mean that “normal” people don’t have to deal with it too.

So my point is simple, you don’t need to be famous to reap the rewards, nor do you need to be famous to deal with the cons of being famous. Everyone should want to have a positive influence on others, everyone should want to be remembered and everyone should want to be financially secure. If people didn’t aim for these things, then what would the point of society really be?

Posted in life

MIA

I know I’ve been missing for a while and I’m sorry about that. This is going to be short, but I promise I will soon be updating much more often.

Life in the real world can become overwhelming. In a day and age when you are expected to do everything, be everywhere and know everything, I am beginning to find that it not possible to be all and do all. I have a full-time job, and am most grateful for it, but thanks to the fact at least 62 1/2 hours of my week are consumed by work and my commute with no computer access to the internet, it seems I don’t have enough time for everything I would like to do. On top of work, I am still in PT for my shoulder and work with the youth group at my church. These two extra activities and sleep seem to keep me more than busy enough lately.

Even though life is more hectic and crazy at times than I thought it would be, I enjoy being a part of it. I really do like being involved and doing things. I am currently in the process of designing this Web site and I finally got something up, I have a bit more work to do on the content and I am working on a new layout, but I could use some feedback. So please hit up my site and let me know what you think. So I’m going to spend a good portion of my upcoming free time working on my site and I am spending the last week of July chaperoning the mission trip for my church. Once this month is over and I start to have some more time around a computer, I hope to update more often. Plus I’ve got it set up so that I can now update from my phone by e-mailing in blogs… And in the mean time, check out my travels blog to read about my vacation to Maine for the 4th of July.

Posted in life

a year later

Exactly one year ago I graduated from college. 100 days before that I blogged about what lay ahead…I didn’t know(it’s actually my first blog here). I had no idea where I was going to be and what I was going to be doing after college came to an end. Well graduation came and went, and I still didn’t know any of it. I stayed in Boston for a day or two and then moved back to Connecticut to try and figure it out. Today I am sitting here still trying to figure it out. I’m beginning to think that nothing is ever going to be as easy as it once was.

Life used to be simple, regardless of how I felt at the time. Years ago life was so simple that I didn’t even have to pick out my clothes. When I was little mom did everything for me. She put my hair in rollers every day for over a year because I wanted curly hair like her. My outfit was picked out for me every day. My play dates were set up for me. The biggest decision that faced me was what snack I wanted after school. As I grew up I started becoming more responsible for some of my own decisions. I picked out my own outfits. I decided what sports I wanted to play.

Regardless of the decisions I made, life was relatively simple. Everything was laid out and the next stage in life was going to come as soon as it was due. I went from “My” Nursery School to Veterans Park to East Ridge to Ridgefield High without thinking about anything. I received penance, my First Holy Communion and Confirmation when the nuns decided it was going to happens. I got my license 120 days after I turned 16 because that’s when I was allowed to get it. Even when it was time for me to make the first real decision in life I knew that I was still going to move onto the next stage. Just over five years ago I needed to decide where to go to college. It took me four months to decide, but I knew that no matter what I was going to college. I always kept taking the next step in the path of life.

When I was three-years-old, I decided I wanted to be like my dad and become a lawyer. When I was eight-years-old, I decided I wanted to be a sports lawyer. When I started looking at colleges, I looked at good business schools with Economics majors. Why did I want to be an Econ major? Because when I started looking at schools I learned that Econ majors tend to score highest on the LSATs. I took AP Econ in high school because that would help if I wanted to major in it. I never took a single Econ class in college. I was 19-years-old when I realized I was on a path I had set out for myself when I was three-years-old and that I never once questioned where I was headed. I changed my major a couple times, got some internships and just kept going.

The other day I realized that I don’t know where I’m headed. I’m not the path I picked when I was three-years-old. I was on that path for so long, I don’t know what all my other options are. I know I’m on a path and I’m headed somewhere but I have no idea where that somewhere is.

465 days ago I hoped to land on my feet after being thrown out into the great big world. I can’t say I stuck the landing, but at least I seem to be holding my own for now. Looking back, it’s weird to see how much I’ve changed since then, but how much I’m still the same person. The last 100 days of college was crazy; so much happened in a short period of time and it flew by. The last 365 days, my first year in the “real world” have been crazy; so much has happened and it’s flown by. I wasn’t ready for the real world then and I’m still not ready for all of it even now that I’m there. I miss the comfort of knowing what lies ahead but I thrive for the unknown. I may not know what lies ahead or where I’m headed but I have figured out some things.

  • I thought I had 100 days to grow up. I have know realized it’s not necessary to grow up and change. It’s important to stay true to being young and having fun, otherwise, how are you going to make it through all the tough stuff that the real world has in store for each of us?
  • I thought I needed to be prepared for the real world. I’ve learned that no matter what, you will never be prepared for everything. But that’s what makes it fun. Every day there’s a new challenge ahead and something new to learn.
  • I thought that the real world would just kinda flow along as everything else always has. I could never be more wrong. I need to work for everything. All the little things in life and everything I always took for granted now mean a lot to me and I value what is truly important in life: time spent with friends and family and doing things you believe in.

So here’s to tomorrow, to learning new things, to overcoming challenges, to staying young while growing older, and here’s to the rest; it’s going to come whether I’m ready or not.

Posted in life

and so, the final countdown begins…

So I’ve been thinking a lot that I need to start blogging again. It was something I did when I lived in Dublin and it helped me decompress while keeping friends at home in the know. As I sit here pregamming for senior pub night, I can’t help but think about when one of my best friends, Jenna, said to me earlier. She told me about her blog she wrote today and how in kindergarden she remembers celebrating the 100th day of school and tonight we are celebrating being 100 calendar days away from being college graduates, whether we like it or not. I too celebrated the 100th day of school when I was in kindergarden…at VP we did it every year ’til the 3rd grade I believe.