Thanks for the memories, craigslist

I drove this exact make, model, year and color from 1999 to 2004, until it one day started smoking at 162K miles, and never started again. Loved this little tank and also the fact that I’m still driving a Volvo.

Little-known fact: there was a point in time where my mother, father, brother and I ALL drove these Swedish beasts.

I am highly tempted to buy this and store it, and make my children drive it one day.

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Surprise! How to Handle an Unexpected Job Offer

This post originally appeared on The Daily Muse and Forbes

Many people think that holding onto a good job in this economy is an accomplishment. So getting a job offer when you weren’t even looking? That’s a small miracle!

Well, it’s actually not—the further you progress in your career, the more people you meet and the more marketable you become to other companies. So, whether you get a call from a headhunter on LinkedIn or an offer from your old boss to work at her new company, it’s completely possible that a new job opportunity could fall in your lap unexpectedly.

A surprise offer means you need to do some serious thinking—and fast. And no matter how excited you are about the prospect or how little time you have to make a decision, the new offer shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you find yourself in this boat, here’s a run-down of what to consider before going any further.

How Long Have You Been at Your Current Job?

Even though the expectation of staying in a job for seven years is now completely passé (seriously—who came up with that rule?), tenure absolutely still matters. Depending on how long you’ve been in your current position, and how frequently you’ve moved around in your field, it might be wise to forego a new opportunity if you need to build more experience in your current role.

How Happy Are You?

Take some time to reflect on how you felt about your current job before the new offer came along. Are you generally happy? Are you challenged and learning new things? Or are you getting ready for a change in a few months anyway?

Also think about how the new job relates to your overall career plans. Is it really a good fit, or are you just tempted by the thought of something new? Think about how you’ll feel about the new opportunity a year from now—once the excitement wears off.

What Perks Will You Gain or Give Up?

Think about the perks of each gig—not just health insurance and vacation days, but the things that make your life a whole lot easier. For example, are you permitted to telecommute at your current job? Would the new office have features like day care or a cafeteria? These are the types of things we tend to forget about when we’re weighing possibilities—but they’re important factors in your overall happiness, and should be considered along with the salary and job description.

Will the New Job be Stable?

The job market is recovering, but it’s far from stable. Receiving a new job offer is an encouraging sign of a company’s performance, but look into resources like their annual report and recent press releases to get a better idea of how secure your new job would be. Also, remember that it takes time to build yourself up in a new position. If you’ve been in your current job for a while, it’s easy to look past the challenges you faced during your first months of making a name for yourself.

Is This Really the Right Time and Place?

While being pursued is nice, it’s not a reason to accept a job offer if it’s not the right one for you. Think things through as carefully as possible, and make sure you’re making a move because you want to—not because someone else wants you.

I’m also a big believer in trusting your instincts—if an opportunity feels right from all angles, it probably is. And while the new company may not give you a whole lot of time to make a decision, you will have opportunities to ask questions throughout the process. If you decide that the grass on the other side of the corporate ladder isn’t really greener, it’s completely fine to turn the offer down. After all, there might be another one just around the corner.

Which means—be prepared! Of course, you never know when a surprise offer might come your way, but there are some things you can do on a regular basis to set yourself up for success if you do want the job. Always keep your resume up-to-date, know who your references are, and have at least an idea of what types of positions you’d be open to next.

soul something or other

When I was 14, I was fairly certain that Leonardo DiCaprio was my soul mate. I had never met him, but as I watched Titanic time after time, I felt something really click between the two of us. When you’re in eight grade, the search for a soul mate can be fulfilled with a movie star obsession. Fortunately for me, since things with Leo weren’t really panning out, my definition of a soul mate evolved as I grew older.

I say evolved, because I’m still not sure I have a resolute definition of what this means. On a traditional level, I know that Jim is my soul mate. He is my best friend – the person I connect with more closely than any other.

But from a less traditional perspective, I feel like there needs to be another term for the people in your life, apart from your partner, that help make you who you are. The special connections that we form with people who play various roles in our lives – or no real role at all – but have a unique influence on our existence. Maybe not soul mates, but soul fillers? I’d like to think that each of these special connections is its own soul something or other.

My friend Ceiba described this idea beautifully tonight: Souls-mates aren’t just the people you marry. My parents are two of my soul mates. I believe that my soul is made up of a plethora of soul-mates. They complete my being. I wasn’t supposed to be adopted by anyone else. I was born to be with them…Here’s what I believed SOUL-MATES meant long before I even knew the word…When I laid my head on my mother’s heart as child, I could feel her love pouring through me like it was where I was born. That feeling must be what the word “soul-mate” meant. And since then I have come in contact with other people that wash over me and forever become a part of me for no reason at all. They just make me feel, well, home.

Newlywed Confessions

This post originally appeared on Betty Confidential and Yahoo Shine

After being married for about a year, it’s funny to reflect on what the experience has been like. It’s flown by, and the majority of the time, it’s been pretty fantastic. Although I’ll admit there have been a few moments when smoke actually came out of my ears in frustration. Nevertheless, through all the ups and downs, I’ve learned a lot about myself, my husband and about real love.

Real love is just that–real. It’s not what you seen in movies or read about in magazines, and it’s not achieved overnight. It’s something that you create and work for every single day. Because like anything else in life, when it comes to marriage, what you put into it is what you get out of it.

Even though my husband and I dated for years and even lived together before we tied the knot, there were some big surprises and challenges brought about by holy matrimony. Here’s a rundown of some of my biggest lessons and surprises as a newlywed:

Real life is not a romantic comedy

I don’t look like Reese Witherspoon, and I also don’t have as much romance in my life as she does in her films. The drama and romantic intensity we see in movies doesn’t translate to real life (nor do the salaries). When it comes to your own love life, romance is definitely important, but it doesn’t always need to be a grand gesture. I’m fairly confident I won’t wake up to breakfast in bed and a dozen roses tomorrow morning, but when my husband takes time to do things like making dinner, washing my car or giving me a card out of the blue, I know it’s our own version of a big screen romance.

Number crunching

Chances are you’ll start to combine finances after the wedding, to cover the important things in life, like food, water, electricity and NetFlix. When I got married, I was given a ton of advice on how to share and save money, but when it came down to it, my husband and I had to sit down and work together to figure out the best method for us. And it’s a constant work in progress. We might not always agree on how to spend (spa day verses big screen TV), but communicating and planning together eliminates the guesswork and makes a challenging process much easier.

For better or for worse

There’s a reason this phrase has been in wedding vows since the beginning of time. I’m not saying there aren’t perfect couples out there, but I’ve just never met them. As a newlywed, I learned that despite a loving and dedicated relationship, you undoubtedly will experience moments and days where you don’t feel in sync with your partner. Sometimes it’s after an argument, and other times it might be for no reason at all. For me, this was a hard thing to accept. I’m a perfectionist, so when things feel off, I want to fix them immediately. The truth is, sometimes it just takes time to slow down, reflect and reconnect.

Cleanliness is next to sanity

Remember when you were a kid, and your parents had a chore chart, where you got gold stars and an allowance for cleaning your room and walking the dog? Those were the days. As an adult, chores are required without pay, and can be challenging to split up. I know some couples that set aside time to clean together, some that share tasks equally and others that shell out money for a housekeeper. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer, but setting expectations can be the key to avoiding frustration. I’m perfectly happy vacuuming (it’s an ab exercise, right?) but despise taking out the trash. Based on our preferences and schedules, my husband and I have found ways to divide and conquer that leaves us both happy.

“So, are you thinking about kids?”

This is one of my favorite post–wedding experiences, for purely comical reasons. Not only is it an odd assumption that one must immediately reproduce after marriage, but it’s a totally personal question! I never expected that I would be asked this so incessantly in the months after our wedding, from all sides–family, friends, coworkers and even neighbors. My recommendation is to develop a snappy response for these scenarios, or, just ask an equally personal question right back.

You’ve probably noticed a common theme among all of these experiences that relates directly to communication. It’s cliché but true. Communication is a critical part of happy relationships. I don’t think this means having philosophical discussions about every little thing, but it’s certainly the key to expressing yourself and understanding your partner.

I’m not a marriage expert; I’m a beginner and I’m still learning to navigate the tough spots. I hope that in another year, I’ll be able to look back and reflect on more things I’ve learned and experienced all while living my own version of happily ever after.

writing recess

I get asked pretty frequently why I write. And if I think I’m any good at it. And if I’ve always liked it. I also get a lot of questions about whether I get paid to blog, and if I’m going to write a book one day. Those last two are my favorites, because they allow me fleeting lapses of a dream life where I would make millions of dollars just sitting on my couch in sweatpants, penning away my thoughts about something absurd. I always look like Salma Hayek in these daydreams.

Sometimes I answer these questions the appropriate way – the way a guest on the Oprah show would reply. Lots of flowery adjectives, emphatic head nodding and just the right amount of eye contact.

But – because I’m me – and not a guest of Ms. Winfrey, my response is more often an awkward pause, some mumbling about having a journalism degree and the stink-eye. In the interest of full disclosure – I have a VERY intense stink-eye I began mastering in fifth grade.

I guess these questions are kind of silly to me. And since I think in analogies 97-percent of the time, I will explain my answers by comparing writing to one of my dogs’ favorite activities.

I don’t presume my dogs chew bones because they are particularly good at it, and I seriously doubt they’re raking in any cash for gnawing on over-processed cowhide. Yet the very thought of the act, the hint that it is even a possibility, is enough to make them go apeshit with excitement. The prospect of doing something that they love so entirely is enough to make them wag their tails and run around in circles – forgetting anything bad that has ever happened to them. They can survive without it, but losing it would mean giving up on something that defines their existence.

That last part’s a little dramatic, I know, but at least you’re still reading. You’re almost to the end, hang on.

The point is, I write because I LOVE to. I love to express myself and share my thoughts with others. I love to process new ideas and explore feelings. And the best way for me to do all of these things is with pen and paper a keyboard. I think it’s the same release anyone feels when engaging in something that ignites a passion – whether it’s dancing, surfing or basket weaving, everyone has a thing. Mine just happens to have little-to-no appeal to the average person with free time.

I’m incredibly fortunate to work in a job that involves writing all the time. It helps me improve and challenges me in new ways all the time. But sometimes I don’t want to think about AP style or the proper placement of an apostrophe. Those are incredibly important things – that drive me absolutely crazy when neglected – but sometimes I don’t want it to be about that. I just want it to be fun. A cupcake not a souffle.

Hence, this blog. It’s my writing recess.

crayons?

Honestly, I have no idea how I ended up on the Crayola website tonight. All I know is that it was somewhere between @GSelevator on twitter and Shit Girls Say on Youtube. At any rate, crayons have apparently come a long way since I last used them in 1989.

I distinctly remember having color options limited to red, orange and burnt sienna. There was also always a white crayon, which was frustratingly pointless, because I never had any black construction paper.

Now, it seems to be a whole new world.

What exactly is cerise?

The Crayola Crayon Chronology shows how different points in history influenced crayon color changes. Take a looksee.


Ever wonder what happens to retired crayon colors? Well, they’re enshrined in the Crayola Hall of Fame, of course!


This is awesome – multi-cultural crayons:

A Yale University study found the scent of Crayola crayons is one of the most recognizable scents for adults, ranking at number 18, trailing coffee and peanut butter that were number one and two respectively, but beating out cheese and bleach, which placed at 19 and 20.