Anniversaries

It’s been almost a year since Ben & I got married, and a few days after that will be a year since we moved to Dayton. What the what?!?????

Time is FLYING by, and I’m not sure if it’s because life has been generally good and we’ve been keeping busy, or if that’s just what it’s gonna be like as I get older. Either way, I still can’t believe it.

It’s been quite a year. We got married (duh), moved to Ohio, bought a house, have been slowly furnishing the house and making it ours, adopted two cats, I started a new job (almost a year ago there, too!), Ben started grad school, we’ve traveled, made new friends, found communities, and have explored this new area that now feels so familiar.

I feel like the only thing that could have made this year even crazier would be having babies, but don’t worry, that’s not happening for a few years. (Really Mom, I’m not pregnant, I promise!)

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about where I was (both physically and mentally) last year, how many aspects of my life have changed, and how Ben & I have grown together. It’s been a wild first year, but there’s no one I would rather have spent it with. Here’s to many more crazy years ahead of us!

 

So where did you go to college?

My alma mater, Wheaton College, is a tiny (~1600 students) liberal arts college in a small town in Massachusetts. When I was living on the East Coast, most people hadn’t heard of it, so I’d give them the whole spiel – and that’s what I knew to expect from people. Here in Ohio (which is technically the East Coast but feels hella Midwest to me) I tend to get a different response from people…

Person: So where did you go to college?

Me: I went to Wheaton College, it’s a small school that you might not have heard–

Person: Oh, I know people who went there! In Illinois, right?

Me: Uh, no, mine’s in Massachusetts. There are two Wheaton Colleges, but they’re pretty different…

Person: *silently judging me bc my school is super liberal and not the conservative, Christian school that they thought it was*

So this is new!!!

Women keep trying to sell me things & I have feelings about it

As I was scrolling through Facebook, I came across an article that REALLY spoke to me. As I quickly read it, I felt myself nodding along and actually saying “YES that’s it!” out loud.

And that’s because almost every time I scroll through Facebook, I see another sales pitch for a direct sales company, like LuLaRoe, Scentsy, Beachbody, etc etc etc. I have nothing against people (women, almost exclusively, and in my case, military wives) trying to make money for their families, and I’ve definitely bought from some of these companies, but it still just blows my mind how so many military spouses seem to get sucked into these multilevel marketing schemes. Can they really be making much off of it? Are the products worth their value, or even safe? Is it worth all of their time and effort? It sometimes seems like an “easy” way to make a few bucks and stay at home with the fam, but if you even start to scratch the surface of these companies, it can start to sound like they’re taking advantage of these women.

And to quote the article I came across, “To me, on the outside, it looked like overcompensation. It seemed like they were selling out and settling for a job that could potentially steal away time and money without much to show for it. I thought — perhaps narrow-mindedly — that they could do better than a kit and a sales pitch.” (yeah, get ready for me to quote entire paragraphs in place of my writing because the author just put my feelings into words SO PERFECTLY)

I can understand the feeling of wanting to settle for a job that’s not necessarily using all of my abilities, and wanting to get a paycheck with minimal effort. Especially as a military spouse, it can be hard to find a job right away after you move across the country, with few connections and a job market that might not be calling your name. Admittedly, I’ve considered taking up one of these direct sales gigs, as an “on the side thing” or until I found a “real” job, and because the discounts once you become a seller sound pretty appealing. But the more I thought about all of the time you put into social media and (sometimes aggressive) recruiting of your friends for sales and the money you have to sink into it, the less appealing it began to sound.

But the draw is very real for many military spouses. I don’t have kids yet, so I can’t speak to that aspect personally, but I think it’s wonderful to have the choice to stay at home with your children and be there for every bit of life. If you have the ability to be a stay-at-home-mom and it’s your choice, then go for it! At the same time, the fulfillment of a career and the ability to contribute to the family income can be extremely important, if not necessary, for many women. But there can be societal roadblocks upon roadblocks for civilian wives and military spouses alike. As the author wrote, “I’ve met wives who intended to become teachers, researchers, realtors, and nurses but ended up as housewives or stay-at-home moms due to military moves.” I’m worried about becoming one of them, but that’s another blog post.

Then in come the direct sales companies, with their alluring calls of “a sense of achievement, mentorship, community, or purpose,” and on top of all of that – $$$.

The article goes on to reveal that hey, there’s really not that much money in it for the people doing the selling and the women that sell for these companies are barely compensated for all of the work that they actually put in. Some companies even give retail credit instead of actual money! “The MLM industry can be a wake-up call to communities and companies. Women are so motivated to work that they’ll do it for next to nothing and will bring their friends, relatives, and neighbors into their businesses. Imagine how successful they’d be if they were given the adequate support, flexibility, and training to do it in your office.” I couldn’t agree more.

So with all of this in mind about the sliiiiightly shady aspects of these companies and how they miiiiight be taking advantage of some groups of women, why do I still click on their sales pitches and go their parties and browse through their catalogs? Why am I in Facebook groups made for these women, my almost-friends, to sell me products? Just like the author experienced, who is also a military spouse, after I did my first PCS to Ohio and was looking to connect with spouses and make friends and build relationships – and if listening to their sales pitches was a way to at least dip my toe into their circles, then I figured I should hear them out. It’s women helping women, right? “Psychologists would probably say that some of this impulse was due to my gender; women who want to protect relationships often avoid the disruption of saying no.” Will I come across as rude if I remove myself from this Facebook page, or say no to an event? Will people look at me differently if I write this blog post, or feel uneasy around me? Will I come across as a rude outsider who puts down their lifestyle? Will I lose friends? (and when I say friends, I mean acquaintances who might not consider me their actual friend, but who I can talk to at spouses events and whose posts I like on Facebook) I debated whether or not I should actually write this post, let alone share the article on its own.

To each their own, I guess? I’m glad that these direct sales companies allow women to get a sense of fulfillment from this type of work, that they can contribute to their household income and make connections with other women. Our society tends to make it hard for women to have families and work and keep their sanity all at the same time, so many women have found direct sales as their way around that obstacle. But it’s hard not to feel skeptical and wary, and even concerned that these women are not only selling themselves short, but losing money in the process. I’ve got a lot of feelings about this, and this article REALLY brought them out!!! And it expressed those feelings much more eloquently than I could. So go read it. Merp.

Mean-Girls-GIF-I-Wish-I-Could-Bake-A-Cake-Full-Of-Rainbows-and-Smiles

 

 

 

 

15 things I learned about myself in 2015

Another new year, another great moment to reflect on myself and how I’ve grown and where I can still improve. In no particular order, here are 15 thing I learned about myself in 2015!!

  1. I miss being in school a lot more than I expected (it’s a big change since I’ve been in a classroom since I was 3)
  2. I’m not so good at making new long-lasting friendships (maybe this will improve in 2016! I have hope!)
  3. I’m really not so great at keeping in touch with people – sorry, Mom! (and Claire and friends and everyone)
  4. I’m good at customer service and getting better at making coffee drinks (yay barista job!)
  5. I am capable of teaching a class full of young children and maintaining classroom management – but maybe it’s not my destined career path? (yep, typical post-grad confusion)
  6. A part of my soul will always be in Ireland (and I can’t wait to return)
  7. I’m good at baking, and getting better at cooking! (and I’m becoming obsessed with cookbooks)
  8. I have an addictive personality (I knew this before but it’s been hard to ignore in 2015)
  9. I am capable of working chaotic 8/10 hour shifts at the coffee bar (maybe because of the loads of free caffeine)
  10. I freaking love Gilmore Girls (how had I not seen this show before?)
  11. I need structure and the motivation of a class to be able to exercise often (yay Pure Barre boo expensive)
  12. I’m an okay driver! (licensed driver, baby)
  13. I’m loving married life and all that adult-ness (hi Ben!!)
  14. Blogging consistently is not my strong suit (so many ideas, so little time so bad at putting in the time that it needs)
  15. I’m not as good at dealing with change as I thought (granted, I’ve had a lot of huge life changes in 2015, but still, it’s helpful to know about myself)

I challenge you to come up with 15 things you’ve learned about yourself in 2015 – it sounds like an easy task, but might be harder than you’d think! It’s been a nice way to reflect on my personal growth, and lack thereof. I’m looking forward to discovering all that 2016 holds in store for me!

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

Scrolling for change

What is it about a Humans of New York photo and heart-wrenching story that makes us suddenly care? What is it about a tragic picture of a lifeless three-year-old’s body washed up on the beach that makes us all want to stand up and help? And why do these aching feelings seem to subside so quickly and disappear from the social consciousness?

Social media and the global immediacy of the news these days makes us simultaneously so aware of social justice issues, but the fact that it comes and goes from our news feeds, and minds, so quickly makes it so easy to move on and almost more difficult to really care or take purposeful action in the long term. I feel guilty just thinking that I scroll through past stories of struggle and hardship and loss around the world any time I am on my phone, sometimes stopping to look and investigate if it holds my interest long enough, or if it’s relatable. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a genuinely crappy person or if it’s because it’s too overwhelming to me to learn about all of this pain in the world and not be able to feel like I’m exacting any change on it.

Reading these stories and educating myself about what’s going on in the world is so important, and I think that you can’t do responsible social justice work without making yourself fully aware of the situation. But where I’m at in my life right now, what kind of social justice work can I even do? I’m not the kind of person who’ll share an article on Facebook about something and mentally check off a box thinking that I’ve spread enough awareness for the day. Now that I’m not in college, where I could feel like I was making a difference in my little social activist circles, and now that I’m in a place where I don’t feel like I’m a part of any particular community, what can I do? At the same time, doing social justice things for the sake of making yourself feel better isn’t a great reason for motivation.

While I work on figuring this out, I’ll just keep reading and scrolling and watching and talking and learning. I think that’s the best I can do.

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

A letter to my future self – Blogtober Day 8

Today’s prompt: A letter to yourself in 10 years



Dear future self,

You’re 31. I’ve always thought of that age as a time when people automatically have all of their shit together – how’s that going for you? I’m so curious to see what career path you end up in. Did you decide to really become a teacher? Are you working in a non-profit? A bookstore? Are you a stay-at-home mom? Whatever you ended up doing, I hope you’re enjoying it.

How’s married life? As I’m writing this, I’m engaged to Ben, and we’ve been dating for a little over 3 and a half years. Give future Ben a kiss for me! I have no doubts in my mind that ten years from now, you’ll be happily married to him, and you’ll probably have kids. I know you’ve dreamed about that for a while, so I hope it’s everything you wished for, and more.

Of course, nothing ever goes perfectly to plan, and there are always going to be ups and downs along the way. I’m hoping that you didn’t get stuck in any of the pits for too long. I know that’s something I’ve struggled with in college, and I’m hoping that being away from the stress of school will have helped with that. I hope you’re smiling and enjoying all of the beautiful things in life, like your family, the nature around you, an interesting book, and good coffee.

I don’t really know what to say in a letter to my future self, other than to ask questions. I’m so curious to see what my life will hold for me, and am so excited to embrace every joy and challenge out there that may come my way. Keep me updated.

Love,
Margaret
Age 21, sitting in my dorm room (Emerson 206!) post FAW meeting. I hope future Margaret is a kick ass feminist.

PS – How’s the blog going?

Helene in Between

Thanks for reading! Margaret

A meteorologist, a teacher, and a mother walk into a bar…

Did that get your attention?

As a way to challenge myself to write more (and to have topics to actually write about!) I have decided to participate in #Blogtober14, which is a challenge to write a blog post every day in October, complete with prompts!

I’ve never done anything like this before, and have never participated in any of those “link up” blog challenges that are apparently a thing people do. The challenge is hosted by two blogs that are more “lifestyle” than anything I’ve attempted before, and there are a bunch of beauty/fashion/etc prompts – again, that’s an area I’ve never wandered into on this blog before, so I’m a little nervous!

blogtober14 prompts

I’m a day behind, since it’s October 2nd, but technically I blogged yesterday – just without the prompt!

 

Today’s prompt is… Dream job when you were little/ what is it now?

But wait, there’s more!

Summer adventures, continued

Some noteworthy that have happened since my last blog post:

Day trip to Connemara and Galway with friends

This included a lot of sitting on a very bouncy bus, with stops at a peat bog, Kylemore Abbey (so beautiful it looks fake), an hour long cruise from Killary Harbor around Ireland’s only fjord, a tiny little town where I got a handmade leather wallet, and an hour in Galway city (where we could’ve spent a lot more time!). Overall, it was a good trip! (PS – I haven’t edited all any of the photos from my nice camera, so a lot of these are just quick phone snapshots!)

 

Spent time drinking delicious tea and reading

Some days after work, I spent some time sitting in Bewley’s Cafe or in the friendly, hip Accents Coffee & Tea Lounge, sipping on tea and reading. While I’ve been here, I finished Looking for Alaska by John Green. It was a quick read and was well written for a young adult novel (his debut novel as well!), but I had a hard time connecting with the characters. I didn’t really like any of them, and felt annoyed with the narrator (a 16/17 year old boy) most of the time. The ending of the book was the kind that gave me goosebumps because it closed out the story so well, and the story itself was pretty gripping, but I just didn’t come away from the book with a great overall feeling. John Green gets a lot of praise for being a great YA lit author (and a lot of hate/criticism, some of which I really agree with), but this book just didn’t live up to the hype for me. It’ll be interesting to see the movie version of it! I am now reading It’s Not Yet Dark by Simon Fitzmaurice. It’s already incredibly moving and powerful!

 

Went to Longitude Festival with my friend Sara

My boss was kind enough to let me take a half day on a Friday to go to the Longitude Festival out in Marlay Park! My friend Sara and I had looked at tickets for it earlier in the summer, since we both love Bastille and they were playing on the main stage, but had decided back then that the tickets were too pricey. One week before the festival, we impulsively decided to go! Bastille doesn’t tour around the US very often, so this was a great opportunity to see them. We left Dublin via coach bus around 2pm, and spent the day watching new (to us) bands perform and getting excited about Bastille. The set-up for the festival at the sprawling Marlay Park was awesome – there were different stages tucked in random wooded fields and there were tons of delicious food stands. It was forecasted to rain that day, but it was barely even cloudy – we lucked out! Bastille was excellent (aside from the tall annoying man standing in front of me) and they’re even better live than they are on their album. I also discovered Hudson Taylor, a brother duo from Dublin who perform folksy-indie original songs that make me very happy to listen to! It was a long day, and we got back to Dublin around 11:30pm after a lot of walking, but it was definitely time and money well spent!

 

But wait, there’s A LOT more!