Seashell & Mermaid

Just wanted to pop in with a plug for my cute little etsy shop Seashell & Mermaid =)

Here’s a few of my fave designs – but I also do custom work! Think that sweet t-shirt you’ve always wished you could find, or sets for bachelorette and besties groups! Just drop me a line and we can talk about styles, colours and everything else to make your vision a reality.

Find all my designs here:

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/SeashellandMermaid

2020 Is a Year for Goals

This time of year you’ll see almost everyone talking about their resolutions. Some will advertise what their resolutions are while others will be intentionally vague about what their resolving to change in 2020. Even more so, you’ll see the advertising bonanza making good use of everyone’s good intentions.

Did you watch anything about New Years Eve in NYC? Planet Fitness literally sponsored it so a good portion of the broadcast was yellow and purple with Planet Fitness written all over it. You couldn’t even celebrate midnight without marketing from a gym.

From gyms and weight loss products to money management and career improvement programs to fashion changes, skin care and everything in between advertisers will be looking for your biggest insecurity and vowing that, in exchange for your hard earned cash, they’ll wipe all those insecurities away.

That’s why I find goal setting more practical. Goals aren’t a commercial venture. Goals don’t have to be about the things you don’t like about yourself or the things you want to change. They are more likely to be tied to new projects or about measuring progress and milestones without discrediting what you already accomplished in past years. And it’s a lot harder to sell to someone’s goals than it is a classic resolution. Goals are about our own commitments and actions, not about what products we buy.

Even the simple or common resolutions sound better translated from resolution language to goal language. Try weight loss, for one. Instead of “my resolution is to lose weight or get down to this certain number on the scale”, say “My goal is to cook at home 5 nights a week and be at the gym 3-4 times a week.”

We all know that if you’re eating at home, you’re likely eating healthier than if you ate out and if you are also going to the gym there’s a good chance you’ll be losing weight. If not losing, per se, you’re definitely getting on track to a genuinely healthy lifestyle. Health is a better pursuit than weight loss for the sake of weight loss, anyway.

It’s also easy to scale and personalize goals so that they make sense for you and where your current challenges are. If you’re really good at eating at home every night but you struggle with gym motivation then maybe you’d modify the above goal to read “My goal is to cook healthy meals 5 nights a week and go to the gym 2-3 times in the next 6 months and 3-5 times a week in the 2nd half of the year.”

And oh – that’s my favourite part.

Even though this time of year we talk about how fast 2019 went by, how the previous year seemed to go by before we could even process what was happening, how we don’t know where it all went and feel like we can’t even remember what we did…. it still feels like a year is a big, huge, impossible timeline for a goal.

Simultaneously we’re feeling that 2019 was fleeting and impossible to hold while 2020 is massive and the end of it, along with our goals or resolutions, is entirely too far away to think about.

Funny how time plays these tricks on us.

So break it up! Don’t focus on “the year” as an oncoming storm. Focus on the first 3 months, the first 6 months, first. Think about what a quarter of the way, or half way to your goal will look like and correlate those milestones to next month, to March and to June. This gives you the most important things of all, a place to start and a path to follow.

All this, really, to say that it’s a great idea to embrace the good intentions behind resolutions and reflect on what you want to do differently in 2020 but if you’re doing so it’s also time to figure out how those resolutions, goals and plans become reality.

Here’s to avoiding any further New Years Eve’s where we feel like all of a sudden a whole year escaped us.

2019 In Review

Last year around this time I took some time to reflect on my first year of blogging. Back then this blog was called Oh My Mermaid – it launched in early 2018 and it was great to see how the first year went. Those stats and that review told me a lot about the response I had gotten and motivated me to keep showing up and putting myself out here.

Of course reflecting should be a habit we do annually, at least, if not more. So here I am reviewing 2019.

Curious thing about 2019’s stats. They demonstrate that there’s still a growing audience for this blog – and oh my god I’m so grateful for that revelation I could cry. More on that in a bit. What 2019’s stats reveal more so than 2018’s did, though, is my life offline.

See, 2018 showed great growth from launch onward. 2019 shows a slower, more steady growth but fewer blog posts, fewer words. A symptom of a complicated and changing life offline.

I wrote about that in my last post, titled It’s Time for a New Chapter – have a read if you want more on that.

In those changes and the battles that were going on I lost a part of myself and the blog suffered because of it. Now I’m back. I feel more like myself than I have in a long time and just as losing myself took away from the blog, finding myself has started me writing again.

I want to take a moment now and really tell you – from the bottom of my heart – thank you for reading. Even when I was distant and posts were few and far between. Even when I seemed so far away and you may of thought I’d forgotten and abandoned this blog all together… I hadn’t. And this little corner of the internet has been a source of motivation to get to a good and healthy place in life. Writing for this blog – even bits and pieces I never published – has helped me sort and understand my own feelings. Messages I’ve received after posting have reminded me how much I’m part of a community and never alone. I am so grateful to my readers and well, ’tis the season to let ya’ll know you truly mean so much to me.

So without further ado, a few stats from the previous year and a promise to post a 2020 sneak peak, just as I posted a 2019 sneak peak this time last year.

While I made 72 posts in total for 2018 I only made 18 posts in 2019… actually seeing that stat today was kind of a shock. I knew I had lost myself in what was going on offline but I didn’t totally realize how much of myself I’d lost.

Still, despite the scattered posts I had more views and more visitors this year – that… that fills me with gratitude and hope. I had 6713 views from 3362 visitors. As I said last year – not half bad, but with room to grow!

I grew from 103 followers to 160 here on wordpress.

I switched my facebook page to a new Tea With Carmen one – leaving the old Oh My Mermaid page – please come join if you haven’t yet.

I grew from 163 followers on twitter to 200 even and counting with every tweet – it’s a weird habit to get back in to!

On instagram I held even – not to shabby given long absences.

I have some new social strategies I want to try going in to 2020 and I’m excited to be coming back to the online projects I started with such passion.

As promised, stay tuned for a 2020 sneak peak shortly after Christmas and some new comment in January! Drop a comment with any requests so I can get to work bringing you content you’ll love =)

It’s Time for a New Chapter

The sudden lack of posts and the sudden rebranding followed by more silence are symptoms of changes in my life offline. Over the last couple of months I have struggled each time I open a blank page to write a new post. There was one thing that I knew I wanted and needed to write about but the timing just hasn’t been right.

Until now.

Polyamory has been a wonderful adventure but it has brought us to an unexpected place. I suppose we all had decisions to make as we came to a sudden realization that our polyamorous relationship had run its course and really wasn’t functional anymore. There was nothing particularly easy or painless about the dawning of this realization and breaking up didn’t bring out the best in any of us.

Maybe the reality is that we all got married too young. I was 22 when I walked the aisle and looking back both Ben and I had a lot of growing left to do as people. We promised to grow together but who he grew to be didn’t have the same love for who I grew to be.

The youthful hope, the ambition, the certainty that we could love differently and take all of life’s challenges together all came to an end in June.

A part of my life ended. I packed up the pieces of my life that I would keep. I told Tom I couldn’t handle living under the roof with Maggie and Ben as our breakups unfolded but that I was absolutely not leaving him. And I climbed in to my mama’s car to spend some time at her house while it all got sorted out.

And I am pleased to be able to report that despite all the stress, the hurt and all the emotions that go with all that ending and a divorce at the ripe old age of 26… I’m happy.

I think under different circumstances I could have gone on being happy in “the pod” or even just with Ben had “the pod” not happened. Had things shifted a different direction, maybe. That being said, hindsight has shown that there were deep cracks in the foundations of those relationships. That being said, clearly there was more than one path to happiness for me. In the months since the separation I’ve gone blonde and am loving it, dropped 25 pounds, gotten my god damn license at last, acquired a car and landed full time employment.

In hindsight the relationships that ended were holding me back in life far more than they were supporting me or moving me foreword. There may have been a time when those relationships didn’t hold me back but this last year I made a lot of sacrifices that preserved the relationships and held me back. They do say that hindsight is 20/20 – I could never have imagined what such clarity would reveal.

From the beginning of the unravelling it was clear Ben and Maggie planned on staying together. As things unravelled Tom and I were presented with a choice. When our pod started it was initiated by Ben and Maggie and many people wondered if Tom and I had even had a choice about being together. As we processed our marriages ending we knew without any doubt that we did have a choice. Life was changing in dramatic ways one way or another… we had the opportunity to reflect and figure out if we wanted to change our relationship as well. We made our choice, and we chose each other.

Maybe things do happen for a reason and life pushes us where we need to be so that we meet the right people and take the right opportunities. My heart is so full of love and gratitude for the amazing man I’m with I have to wonder if everything else was just a convoluted way fate had for making sure we found each other.

So here we are. I still like writing about all the same stuff. Relationships, and fitness and beauty and any other musings that cross my mind. I guess I just get to add divorce to the list of relationship experiences I can speak to when I write.

I’m still here, still blogging, it’s just time for a new chapter.

Getting a “Real Job”

Let me start by saying I always resented that phrase – “real job” – as if the way I earned my money wasn’t actual work. People loved to ask if I was applying at “real jobs” or if I’d thought about giving up teaching for a “real job”. Working from home as a freelance English as a Second Language Teacher was nothing short of a real job. From the very basics of performing a task and getting paid to the more complex work of planning, preparing and continuously training, teaching was meaningful, challenging and real work.

Still, this kind of teaching lacks a certain stability. It’s hard to plan your life or build serious financial goals when your pay varies widely in the wake of world events, holidays and student availability.

Not to mention that you end up teaching during your own countries holidays and off on vacation during holidays from other parts of the world. It’s not the worst but still, it’s hard to explain why you taught on Christmas eve and then relaxed all through February (Chinese New Year).

The last few months have brought a lot of change to my life. While I do still love the work flow I had built I also wanted to try something new.

So I went out and did it – I got myself one of those “real jobs” people talk about. No more “real” in the actual doing of work, but substantially more stable and a better hourly wage.

I’m now happily working away full time in a call centre – I got lucky and found one that lines up super well with my existing skills and interests. There’s a sort of taboo around being okay with call centre work. It’s not supposed to be a “good enough” job to warrant anything nearing job satisfaction but so far it’s been a good experience. So good, in fact, that there’s already talk of me “levelling up” my training. Hello, raise!

Not to mention it brings me back to my favourite town. The place where my Grandfather lived, my dad grew up, and I went to school. It feels like coming home.

Don’t worry – I’m not abandoning all my at home hustle. The social media management business and Etsy shop continue to evolve and remain close to my heart. I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus while the dust settled on the new job and other life changes. That dust is settling, though. Soon all the changes will be official in blog posts and I’ll keep ya’ll posted with the changing realities of working from home and working from well, not home.

Change your Hair, Change your Life

Many of my readers will know I’m going through some massive life changes right now and what better way to celebrate all forms of change than to change my hair?

I’ve done a lot of colour changes from dark red to bright red, to purple, blue and even green. Of course putting all those colours in required bleaching my hair as they wouldn’t have shown nearly as well on my natural brown shade. Still, the last time I put blonde in my hair for any purpose other than making other colours show up was in high school. Back then I couldn’t handle the toning process – it irritated and burned my scalp. Therefore the toner came off too early and my blonde was always yellow. Yuck.

No wonder I decided blonde wasn’t for me and started only using bleach to support other colours, like purple.

Today however it seems the toning products are a bit gentler and I’m a bit tougher. I’m so happy these things are true because I’ve totally fallen in love with my blonde hair and plan to keep adding blonde and perfecting my shade.

Don’t worry, I still sneak a little pastel pink in to keep it fun.

The other change – and truly the more major change is the length. I had insanely long hair that people routinely thought was fake because they couldn’t imagine I’d actually grown it out.

It was proof of my patience. Like 8 years of patience. I cut it to a short bob before moving to University and I hadn’t cut it since. Until now.

I suppose I’ve less patience now for anything that holds me back.

And damn. It feels good.

Okay, y’all know I’m going to grow it right back out. That’s just what I do. But for so long I was seriously afraid to cut it. I cringed at the thought of a trim and flat out cried the day I actually cut it.

That poor hairdresser.

Still I am loving the freshness and having so much fun with it. Yes, it will grow long again but next time I won’t be so afraid of the change when it’s time for a cut.

Check out the before and after to see how big this change has been!

What’s been your biggest hair change? Did you love it? Hate it? I wanna hear all about it!

 

 

What Nobody Tells You About Working From Home

Working from home – or earning a living working from anywhere, therefore allowing you to travel while working – is definitely glorified in our culture. When I tell people about what I do they often say I’m lucky or that it must be nice. They’re not totally wrong but there’s a few things nobody tells you about working from home.

It’s Lonely

This is the best kept secret of the work from home crowd. Honestly, I talk to people from morning to night – literally I start teaching kiddos between 5 and 7am, and I finish teaching adults at 10 or 11pm. I talk, talk, talk all day long and when I finally shut the microphone off I still feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness.

That’s partly because even though I talk to people all day long I often have the same conversation over and over again – Hello what’s your name? My name is Carmen. Where do you live? I live in Canada. What do you do? Wow that sounds stressful…” and on it goes.

Even when I’m not teaching, I’m writing and blogging. This is a little different because I don’t write the same thing over and over but I also don’t get a lot of direct interaction with the people who are reading what I write.

Cabin Fever is an Occupational Hazard

Along with the loneliness get ready to have a love-hate relationship with your house. It’s my home. I picked this furniture. I put it where I wanted it. This is where my super comfy beds are. This is where my favorite pillows are. There’s a recliner and nice places to read a book or watch TV.

But oh my gooooosh get me OUT of here. I wake up, work, eat, exercise, entertain myself, work again and sleep here. I’ve gone for car rides to the gas station just to be somewhere that isn’t there. Working from home might be the dream but from personal experience our brains need a change of scenery. It’s a requirement. Sometimes the best thing I can do is go do some blogging or social media client work from Starbucks.

It’s real easy to gain a ton of weight

Seriously. All I do is sit at my desk. Unless I make the conscious decision to go down to the treadmill or out for a walk it’s easy to pass the whole day without moving a whole lot.

And your whole kitchen is, like, RIGHT THERE. So eating a lot is super easy.

It’s a recipe for weight gain (Trust me , I know. Keep an eye out for my posts about my weight loss journey.)

People Forget that you Work

Yeah, your family is included in this. You’re there when they leave to work and you’re there when they get home. They don’t work at home. Home is just about relaxation and hobbies and family time for them. They kind of forget that it’s like, also your office building.

This goes for friends, too. They imagine that since there isn’t like, a manger or a boss watching you work you could just leave at any time to go do fun things with them.

While it might be true that you set your own schedule you probably have some time requirements and can’t just leave on a whim. Even if you leave on a whim, the work you were gonna do during that time still has to get done so even if they don’t see it you’ll be putting those hours in – be it afternoon or after midnight.

There’s a Million More Distractions Than A Regular Office

In a regular office I feel like a sort of hive-mind kicks in. Even if you’re having trouble focusing everyone else is working that that kind of prompts you to re-focus and get with the program. When I worked in an office it felt way easier to find the next task and get it done because usually everyone else was working so I could feel the groupthink guiding me to work too. This was important, too, because if the whole office wasn’t working then the whole office wasn’t working. A distraction for one became a distraction for many and nothing got done so there was a true sense of value in that groupthink must-work atmosphere. At least if you were gonna go off task you needed to be discreet about it.

Have you ever heard of procasti-cleaning? This is where suddenly you feel the overwhelming urge to clean your whole house instead of doing work. The whole house needs a cleaning, anyway, right? So it’s not really procrastination because you’re still being productive, right? How about Netflix? So easy to access from home and no manager to catch you binge watching Riverdale instead of working.

As many of you know I’ve recently taken up as a demolition derby driver and the shop is right out back! I could be building a car instead of working!

So is it a Dream?

Working from home sounds awesome until you realize every part of your life that isn’t work is right there and it’s SO ridiculously hard to be productive.

Okay, so it’s still pretty awesome but before you make the jump consider that there are some serious risks and if you’re moving to freelance you might want to budget for membership to a co-work space or find another way to plan time out of the house doing something social!