Doing the Things that Scare You

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We all know that life has its challenges at every stage. And while not all challenges are equal (the problem of having to evacuate your home due to war or natural disaster versus not being able to pay a credit card bill) they do make us who we are and can affect the way we look at the world.

Well, a lot of those challenges are scary. I, like most people, would rather not face them and just let things be…Don’t. Rock. The. Boat. However, our biggest test of integrity, character, and loyalty are never during calm waves.

So why shake things up? Whether you had enough at work or enough at home, or its come down to some ultimatum and you need to choose — sometimes you have to do the thing that scares you the most.

Overcome your worst enemy — You

Yes, you are. I know you read the self-help books about “loving yourself better”, but really when it comes to taking the big risks in life, sometimes we are our own worst enemy. We stay in denial (I’m still avoiding this month’s bank statement); we brood, procrastinate, and yes even put ourselves down. But honestly, how many people in your life have explicitly told you that you CAN’T do something? Now, take that very short list and order it by the one who is constantly saying it the most. I’m sure the number one spot is YOU.

Overcoming your enemy means having to face yourself and confront why you may be self-sabotaging. Simply put– you can’t move forward, if you’re holding  yourself back.

Life is too short to die with regrets

Why are you alive?

I don’t know why I’m alive today. I wish I could say that there is a higher calling for me, but a mix of luck and fate has brought me to today, May 29, 2016. I don’t know if it will extend tomorrow. I could have easily died in a car crash years ago or end up as one of those missing college co-eds…what I’m basically saying is that unless you live locked up in a padded room, you’ll never know when your ticket is up. There’s nothing you can do to prevent that. So, if you had 6 days left to live, could you look back and say that you lived life to the fullest and have no regrets?

If you hate your job, quit it. If you want to go somewhere, go. If you want to date/marry someone, ask him/her. If you want to break up, talk to him/her. If you need to talk, then talk. The time will never “be right”, but the time is now. I know it sounds too simple, but the truth is you already know what needs to be done, so stop waiting.

Your breakthrough will inspire others

Everyone has bullshit in their life that they can very well do without. Even that guy with the really green lawn that half the neighborhood is always talking about “crossing over to”. What they forget to mention is that although his grass is greener, the roof is caving in (and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have shitty lawn problems, than a leaky roof). However, not everyone deals with their problems in the same way.

Your breakthrough can inspire someone else to get out of their rut. It dares them to challenge themselves, “If Bob can do it, why can’t I?!” When I first started my blog, I was nervous about putting a very vulnerable part of me on the internet for people to critique or outright lambast. But nearly four years later, I can say it is the most rewarding thing I have chosen to do, and I didn’t even want to do it in the first place. Its even more rewarding when I can tell you how many other folks I know who also started blogging since I did, or even those curious in publishing too.

But heck, even if Joe doesn’t start to water his lawn like his neighbor, at least you have the triumph of defeating all the nay-sayers and haters who didn’t think you had the balls to do it: yourself.

So, let’s start small. If you can change something in your life, in the next 24 hours — what will (not could, but will) you do?

Tell me @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.

A Walk to Remember

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I have been settling into my eastern London neighborhood for about 3 weeks, with a new routine and determination. Since leaving my job in the financial sector, I now have more time devoted to my policy research and staying on track with my project. That being said, seeing how much reading and writing that I’ve accomplished in the last two weeks has given me a new determination to work on my studies–time flies very quickly after all — and there’s no time to procrastinate.

Thus while changing jobs, starting up a new apartment, and even receiving my summer wardrobe via post from my mom in New York (which was washed and dried in 3 separate loads, plus a separate load of drying only, and a record 9 hours of ironing) I can say that I am officially settled in London.

Oh, but my poor house plant is dying.

calla lily, tesco plant, S.C Rhyne, the reporter and the girl, green thumb, houseplant, dying plant

Anyway–can’t cry over spilled flowers– I have been experimenting with “living chic” by exploring wine and appetizer plates. Each night, I created various small plates of cheeses, stuffed olives, pâté, or meats, with a glass of wine but after lousily playing a game of softball on Thursday, I miserably realized that I need to stop drinking. This is very alarming considering that I only had been drinking consistently for about two weeks! Thus, at my trip to Tesco’s last night, I grudgingly bought two giant bottles of the store brand’s finest sugary lemonade.

I must say that life is much quieter for me now. No roommates up at all hours of the night watching TV or random people gossiping on the couch. I will miss some of that white background noise, but I did gain a lot of privacy. Whether its not having to remember pants when I go into the kitchen or being able to invite someone over without making sure its OK first.

In fact last Saturday evening, I invited a male acquaintance over for tea after we attended a BBQ together. He politely refused. Well heck, inviting is the first step to reintegrating a social life. Or I could just get a puppy and say “fuck you, society” — more on that to come in future posts.

However, in an effort to know London better, I walked from Oxford Circus (central London) to Stratford International station (east London) last week. The featured collage are pictures of an old home at Bloomsbury Square garden, hipster bars in Shoreditch, ducks walking along the Hertford Union canal of Victoria park, over and through the Olympic stadium, finally reaching civilization again at Westfield mall, and the view from my balcony as I look at the growing city ahead. The 7.5 mile walk took about 3 hours to complete, and I’m totally hooked on this concept. As long as the weather stays reasonable, I’m willing to repeat the walking trend north-south, central-west, and any other direction. Seeing the changes in neighborhoods along with friendly drunk Brits hanging outside various pubs was a nice vibrant atmosphere in London.

Just thinking about it makes me excited! I’m not sure why it took me this long to want to explore the city. I guess since I’m no longer consumed with looking for work, looking for housing, etc…my mind can wander a bit elsewhere. Also, another reason to be happy is softball season! Although I played lousy on Thursday and we lost 11-12, the winning team voted me as one of the MVPs. Hhhmmm…its likely that MVP stands for something different in the UK than it does in the States.

So my first summer in London promises to be an interesting one. Especially now that I can shed the bulky cashmere sweaters and dress in lighter layers and have a bit of a social calendar. Or, who says I should even stay in London at all?

My fellow Brits, with June around the corner what are your favorite places to hit in London? Or what weekend getaway would you recommend to areas outside of London? Send me your suggestions @ReporterandGirl or post them on Facebook.

Breakup Survival Kit: Finding Balance as You Cope and Grow

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It’s called a breakup for a reason. Not only did your relationship break apart, but it left your heart and life broken into a million pieces. Your every day, memories and dreams are shattered. Following such drastic change, your heart, mind and body are in survival mode, seeking every quick-fix solution to cope and help ease the pain.

Although facing the reality of the breakup and enduring the pain is all part of the healing process — yes, distractions do help you move on. Remember, this a time to reflect, learn and grow. So, seek positive distractions that align with your goals and propel you to thrive.

Also, use balance as your foundation. Throwing yourself into your career? Overworking can become unhealthy, mentally and physically. And if you dive headfirst into the dating game, you may be setting yourself up for emotional turmoil and another failed relationship by not take some time to grow alone after your breakup.

You’ve pulled yourself out from under the covers. Ready to take on the world? Check out this guide that incorporates balanced living for the woman who can conquer it all on her own.

Career Goals + Exercise

  • Focus on Your Career: More than ever now, you may feel motivated to take that next step in your career. This is a time to focus on you and set independent goals to help you grow into your best self — and this may mean within your profession. Take the plunge and earn an advanced degree or additional certification. Ask your boss for opportunities where you can extend yourself more or learn a new skill to elevate your position. Or this could be the motivation you need to leave behind an insufferable job. Looking for something more meaningful? Teaching and healthcare positions aren’t the only challenging, yet highly rewarding careers that make a positive impact on people’s lives. The world — and job marketplace — is your oyster!
  • Stay Active: Working overtime to prove your dedication can help with your growth game in the office (and maybe even in your bank account), but you don’t want to burn out. Break away from the computer, laptop, tablet and phone and get moving. Whether you jog outside or take a yoga class, exercising will improve your mood, while keeping you healthy. Exercise has direct stress-busting benefits (for those long work hours), and lowers symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety (for those moments you miss your ex), according to Mayo Clinic.

Friends, Family + Solitude

  • Use Your Support System: Even though it’s hard to believe right now, this breakup is a breakthrough. Rely on your friends and family to talk out your feelings during the recovery process. This may also be a great opportunity to reconnect with an old friend with whom you lost touch with during your relationship. If you need to build a brand-new social circle, check out, where you can meet new people who share similar interests. Down the road, these meet-ups may even lead you to a new romantic love interest without the pressure of a date or third-party setup.
  • Don’t Forget to Soul Search, Alone: Reserve time for yourself to let go, grieve, learn, heal and stay mindful. If you constantly distract yourself with happy hours or immediately sign up for the latest dating app, you won’t truly find peace. Since this is the time to focus on yourself, dig deep and get real. Ask yourself, “What are my non-negotiable values?”, “What do I want, over what do I need?” and “How can I feel empowered and confident, without the dependence of another person?”

So how do you move on from a break up? Do you still think about even though a significant amount of time has passed? Tell me about it @ReporterandGirl or post it on my wall on Facebook.

Growing Roots

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I’m marking the end of my third month in London by placing a holding deposit on a flat. This was a tough decision for me overall since the system is very different, and I had to not let the estate agent’s high pressure tactics, distract me from thinking through my options carefully.

For the last week I had two apartments in mind, in the same neighborhood with similar features except with a monthly difference of 25 GBP. I fell in love with the second flat since its layout was unique, and on the first impression was presented very well. (It is common to show an apartment or home in the U.K that hasn’t been cleaned. So imagine my surprise walking into a bathroom with a grayish bathtub inside). I placed offers on both places, and spent the week negotiating, the first one — the hungrier agent came back to me with a 10% markdown and asked for the deposit right away. The second one, the landlord (according to the agent) was a little wary about renting to someone without a history in the U.K and so the agent was spending a little more time negotiating with her.

I spent the last two or three days sending emails back and forth asking very specific questions about my deposit, when the cleaning will take place, and how it will be cleaned, my eligibility–since I have been in the U.K less than three months, etc…before I decided on Friday night to send my holding deposit and go through the referencing check. Heck, I was as open and forthcoming as possible — so if I fail referencing they will have to give my deposit back, right?

This wasn’t the apartment I “fell in love” with, but its still a great apartment! I have optimism about redecorating the space to make it my own.

The second agent came back with a positive acceptance on my dream home, but I will wait a couple days before telling her I will withdraw. Who knows what Monday or Tuesday will bring with these other guys?

So, you’d think that last night I went to bed all calm and peaceful with my decision, but I still had many scenarios running through my head. I haven’t seen the lease or tenancy agreement yet of course, but I kept wondering about what if certain key items are not stipulated?

The agency manages the flat, so what if they don’t make repairs in a timely manner? Is it legal in this country to go without heat and hot water for months, because the landlord “can’t afford to fix it”? This is what my landlady’s daughter said, although it sounds rubbish to me. It is a legitimate agency that’s based all over the U.K with a few overseas offices, so it makes me calm but yet suspicious that I will be treated like a number. What if the building burns down or becomes inhabitable for another reason — will the agency provide me with a place to stay temporarily and reimburse my deposit and the couple months that I put down in advance?

One always hopes for the best, but we need to be prepared for the worst case scenario; so I want to be sure that I have protection or recourse. But I have to admit, this worrying may stem from another place. Up until now, I still considered my situation here in the U.K temporary. It really seems like a long vacation, I think about my time in weeks and have a hard time picturing where or what I’ll be in a month or two. My room– in a quaint part of northern London was temporary, my job — collecting data for the finance sector in Central London was temporary and suppose to end next week, and I always joked that I’m just giving this “postgrad thing” a shot, but somewhere in the last week or two that has all changed.

My housing will not be temporary, as I asked for a 2 year lease. My HR person at work acted like I was crazy when I asked her to verify that my 8 weeks are up, “You have a temporary rolling contract, some of these employees have been here a year and only had two weeks off”. And I submitted my literature review which received positive feedback and am now networking with people who are working in the field that I want to be in, and are commending me for taking on this project.

Everything is taking place, in fact even in the beginning of this post I wrote “neighbourhood” automatically, but my American spellchecker caught it and I changed it quickly. It’s a strange panicky feeling in the pit of my gut as I think about how all this is routine now. Waking up, tea and porridge, read a little, shower, hop on the tube – not the subway, my slow computer at work,  grab a few things at Tesco or Sainsbury, come home type up some notes on the computer, check emails…, shower, another cup of tea, see what’s on the American news, text my friends on Facebook, and fall asleep before they can respond because many are on their way home from work.

And while I’m ranting, I could mention I’m almost through with a great novel called, Half of the Yellow Sun, that has been occupying my reading time this week, instead of dry academic writings for my project.

I’m not even looking forward to my Sunday softball game in a couple hours. My shoulder aches and I don’t understand how the temperature is reading higher than yesterday, but its cold and cloudy.

I’m growing roots, but I’m afraid I’ll be stuck again.


Taking a Leap Forward

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Wow, these last two weeks have been a whirlwind for sure! Besides starting a new job collecting intelligence for the finance industry; I have also been getting out and about more. Last weekend, I went to Cumberland Lodge, which is on the estate of Windsor Castle. It was nice to be outside of London briefly, we even saw the Queen on her way to church services (the way those vehicles were driving–they were not slowing down for anyone! Seriously, why does she still drive?!). I also spent most of yesterday afternoon playing softball with an amazing group and bonding with them over a pint (half-pint for me), while watching the Man City football game.

Now, comes for the most challenging part: housing. Tomorrow, I will pay my last month rent, of where I’m currently staying and will actively look for a flat. I have been looking on a few websites and saving my search results so that I can have a realistic idea of what it will cost me to live in a certain neighborhood. Unfortunately, I have been approached by two scam artists that wanted to me to deposit money into some “government-backed depository” and mail me the keys.

I found out that government-backed depositories are the real deal here, but obviously, I wouldn’t pay for something I haven’t seen yet. There’s a swindler at every corner!

Thus tomorrow, I’m going to go see an apartment that’s available near the Finsbury Park area. It looks nice from the pictures, but the downside is that bills are not included. So what seems like a good deal can end up costing an extra 200 bucks a month. Plus, it is not as close to work and school as I originally hoped, so add on commuting costs too. But its the first day, so I’m sure there are plenty options ahead! I think a landlord would want to have me as I am looking for something long term and stable– so no need to look for a tenant every 4 to 6 months– and a place that I can treat as my home.

The saga continues….

So as I will not be posting on this date for at least another four years; tell me about a “great leap” you plan on taking in the near future. I wish for you to land on your feet!

Tweet me @ReporterandGirl or post it on my wall on Facebook  or board on Pinterest!