October 26, 2023

Busy, Fast Work

So far, there are things I like about my part time job at the high school and being in a kitchen setting.  School nutrition, the protocols, regulations, schedules, basically how the entire kitchen system operates is pretty eye-opening.  I have to say, it’s a busy, non-stop and repetitive job but you’re finished by 1pm, everything is cleaned up, prepped, and ready to go for the next day.  The high school I am at does seem to have a pretty seamless process ,things are where they should be, everyone has their own specific task, and it this type of work definitely screams teamwork.  It’s literally from soup to nuts from I what I do between 9am and 1pm.  The day just flies, but I love that aspect of it.

There are cookies to be baked, prepped for next day, taken out of oven, bagged, stored for the students for purchase at .75 a cookie, window boxes to be made.  These boxes I believe are for popcorn chicken or fries, I could be wrong, but I know we can never have too many window boxes.  Dishes, cleaning, wiping, drying, and school breakfast prep for the next day, as well as  pre-made items for specific events occurring within the next week or so.   It can be loud, there’s music, but I like that.  I need music when I do any kind of busy work, doesn’t matter where I am, music helps.  And sometimes it can feel too chaotic, like there’s too many cooks in the kitchen- pun intended.  But it happens in that kind of environment. So far, I’ve learned a good tip, and that’s to focus on the task at hand and finish that task before moving onto the next task.  I struggle with this because I enjoy multi-tasking.  But sometimes that’s a bad thing because I’ll start one thing, and then notice something else that needs to get done, and I’ll shift my focus to that task instead, neglecting the first task I started.  No good.  One thing at a time.

Communication is also a big deal in this environment.  When the oven is being used, you must shout out , literally, that “the oven is HOT and open”, so that someone doesn’t get hurt walking in the direction of the oven coming from around the corner.  If you hear the oven, go off, it’s happening for a reason.  Someone is cooking something. Turn it off !  If you’re walking behind someone and they don’t see you, you must say “behind you”, just in case.  Better safe than sorry.  I have no issue being loud in front of new people, or strangers, however, I still feel a little weird shouting out that the oven is hot and it’s open, be careful!  I’m getting used to it though.  Asking questions is so important too.  If you don’t know something or are simply unsure, just ask.  Speak up- as hard as it can seem sometimes.  If you’re confused or didn’t understand an instruction, speak up.  It’ll only help you more.  I do that all the time, because I have no shame in saying that I don’t understand something.  I’m only there 2 weeks so far, but I do like it . Any kind of experience is an experience. So for now, let's see what this is about. 

October 21, 2023

Life Is What You Make It

Why, hello there.  It's been too long.  Where do I begin?  I honestly don't know how to begin. Story of my life.  Well, I think a good update is worth noting here, as well as a check-in or touching-base if you will, of my life a week away from turning 41. 

I'm currently pursuing a master's degree in applied nutrition, which for me, is very out of place since I never was, nor still am a studious/college "person,"  Everyone knows at least one person who is that type. I decided to do this thing called,  “ go back to school”  because for the last five years, I was searching for something to fulfill my life, other than finding love and becoming a mother.  Something was missing, and sometimes I think there might still be something missing.  Do we ever really find that "thing" that instantly perks us up in life? Maybe some do, although, we have to remember that the meaning of happiness is very subjective. However, this really has nothing to do with happiness, that is, the thing I have been "searching" for to "complete" me.  But at some point, during my day, I do feel happy with something.  It's usually the mundane, tiny things, yet, they are important to me.  Like having a kick-ass workout, hearing a song that reminds me of my mom or grandmom, my daughter saying something in her own unique way and I laugh so hard.  These small things are vital to a "happy" life, whatever that means, though it’s worth mentioning.

 That thing for me that I think was missing wasn’t nutrition, though that is something that I became increasingly interested in, more so since 2019, and started researching the topic, the jobs, the careers, different aspects of nutrition and reaching out to folks working in that field via LinkedIn.  And also, thank goodness for LinkedIn.  It’s been the only spot where I can message someone, connect and follow a company with the click of a mouse and all in under 60 seconds. But that thing that I was searching for, and still am, was trying to be a professional in something.  I always had “career” at the forefront of my mind.  But I didn’t have a career or specialized in anything.  I always worked dead-end jobs and wasted time. I have always felt completely useless, hopeless, unsuccessful, and yeah, a failure. I promise this isn’t me having a pity party.  I do not believe getting a master’s in nutrition will give me success-far from it.  But my opinions and tangents on the education system will have to be saved for another time. I decided that I was indeed passionate about health, food and fitness; it’s all I thought about for at least four years.  I loved watching people cook, sharing what they ate in a day, watching dietitian’s debunk really bad myths about nutrition and what influencers today keep posting about to the younger youth and it’s just bloody awful!

Anyway, I say all of that because at this point in my life, if I have found my passion, it would definitely be nutrition and health. I still don’t believe I was living my life the way I wanted it.  I initially thought that going back to school is at least something important to do and it would keep me busy.  I wanted to gain control of my life again, and school helped. For a while, I was an accidental stay at home mom when I got laid off from my dead-end corporate job back in 2017.  Since then, I have stayed busy with doing things that made me busy and so that I didn’t become a total depressed zombie.  I began a daily exercise routine, cleaned the house a lot, learned how to knit,  helped out at my kid’s school when I could, walked the dog a lot, blogged ( clearly not enough though), read a ton of books, ( mostly in 2020- I think I read 7 books that year-that’s a lot for me). In a typical year, I *might* read 2 books. But still, that thing was missing.  When I decided to study nutrition and pursue a master’s program, I felt incredible imposter syndrome take over. It still doesn’t seem right and I only have about ten months left to go.

I have learned a lot about the field so far in the past year, and I have also had a great part time job at a rehab hospital in the diet office, and I am currently working part time at a local high school working in the kitchen.  I would like to work within a school district and work in the field of school nutrition.  I am just trying to get any experience I can right now. If I am being totally honest, both jobs have been awesome learning experiences.  It’s honest, busy work and I am here for it.  I also plan on volunteering for a food bank next month doing cooking demos in schools.  My anxiety creeps in every day to remind me that I probably should have done the part time jobs and volunteer five years ago. This is called self-talk, if you weren’t aware, but not in a good way. Or one could call it, “telling myself a story.”  But, it’s partially true.  I could have more experience under my belt in these fields by now. The thing is, I didn’t know I wanted to get into nutrition back then.  Hindsight can be a real bitch. The past is the past, but pretty much every day I am forced to shut down those thoughts of “should haves” and “could haves,” and just live in the now.  Live today.  Live in the present.  What’s done is done.  Look forward to tomorrow and to the future. Ha!  It’s easier said than done, though.

I’m nervous for what’s to come after I am finished my degree.  I am nervous that I won’t find a full-time job shortly after. On the same token, I do have connections thanks to LinkedIn and from my jobs and hopefully from volunteering.  I job search everyday when I get a chance just to see what is out there.  Nutrition education is so important, especially for low-income individuals and for people who are in certain nutrition supplement programs or need help with cooking nutritious meals and understanding nutrition education materials.   MyPlate can help, which was developed by the UDSA in 2010, but that’s a small slice of it.  I want to help others understand nutrition and how they can utilize different foods to feel better mentally, physically and emotionally.  I am not sure if this will bring me that “thing” I’ve been searching for to feel a sense of satisfaction,  but what I do know is that I feel energized anytime I come across a post about nutrition, regardless of the topic.  I love discussing food, macro and micronutrients, different diseases and conditions, different diets, intolerance's, allergies, I could go on and on.  I think that’s something worth mentioning here because until now, I was not experiencing this feeling for a long, long time.  A feeling of something that I understand , I have knowledge about, and excites me when I hear or see it.  Could this possibly be a feeling of satisfaction?  I’m not sure yet, but each day I am still working on myself to be the best version of me that I can be, and I am learning so much in such a short amount of time.

When I bit the bullet and decided to go back to school, I felt compelled to do so.  I figured I had nothing to lose because there was nothing else going on in my life that was of importance or that filled many voids for me at the time.  I felt like I needed to do this for myself.  And I was initially scared to begin again with school because as previously mentioned, I am not studious or a fan of school/college.  What I like about it this time around , is that with a master’s degree, the courses, all of them, are catered to a specific field of interest.  That’s how it should be from the get go in school.  Please don’t get me started on undergraduate work.  English majors are still required to take three math courses and three science courses. I’m guesstimating here, but it’s similar to that. We have really just lost our minds. Waste of time, energy and money. But I’ll stop there. And so, this time around,  I have been enjoying at least one aspect of each course, as each of them relate to a concept involving the topic of nutrition.  I took a required Research Methods course, my least favorite so far, but I can still see why that was required.  Although, I’m still not at all partial to the bell curve.  Doing research, looking at the literature, citing references to support claims, that’s important to understand and it’s necessary, especially when it comes to the field of health care and science-based information.

And so, to sum up,  today I am living, thriving, busy, pre-occupied, still anxious, and happy.  I’m not happy all day, every day, but there are moments in my every day, when I feel happy.  I am not sure if I’ll ever feel 100% satisfied with my life, and this is simply because I feel we are always evolving.  We are not staying still, we can’t.  We are always on the move in some form. But also, do we ever really reach a point in our lives where we end up figuring it all out?  Do we actually feel 100% fulfilled every day?  I think we can get there, but I think that’ll happen if and when most of us eventually just let our guard down and stop being so hard on ourselves. It’ll take work and planning.  I know I am still so hard on myself, especially when it comes to finding my purpose and feeling satiated. I have gotten good at resting when I feel I need it, listening to my body, and not caring about what others think. And at almost 41 years of age, I can confidently say that I don’t care about others opinions.  I just don’t have the space in my brain to give any F’s about what Susan or Karen thinks.  I think I drew that line at age 37.   But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get upset sometimes when I am not being productive and think I should be.  Again, pressure. It’s always there. If you are a human being who wants to live some type of busy, fulfilled, fun, important and stressful life, then expect to plan.  Expect anxiety and pressure and routines and habits and exhaustion.  I can’t picture a life where this stuff isn’t present, but unless you want to sit on the couch all day with no one to worry about but yourself and not do anything of meaning, then this is your life.  All the things are there and you must accept them.   I  am finally good at managing myself and my time, and over the years, I have built healthy habits that help with my mental health, but I still have my moments.  Does anyone else talk to themselves every day?  Because I do.  I need to. I am either talking myself in or out of things constantly, and it can be draining, but again, this is who I am.  One thing at a time. One day at a time.  Life is not always pretty and we must manage it in ways that work for us.

As I soon reach another trip around the sun, 41 times to be exact, I can tell you that in this moment, right now, I am feeling physically tired and sore, but happy.  And grateful.  I feel loved and relaxed.  I have things to look forward to and where I know I can try my best in all the things I’ll  be doing starting on Monday which will bring another busy, stressful, fun, chaotic pressure-filled week.  But in this moment,  I am grateful to be alive and I am looking forward to the future.

I hope to see you real soon, friends.

Thanks for reading.


March 29, 2022

That Time I Saw A Therapist

 So I decided to seek therapy about a year ago for the first time ever. I wasn't in a good head space with a lot of different things, and around the Fall, about six months prior to seeing a therapist, I *think* I experienced a slight depressive state.  Thankfully it was short lived,  but that just proves that being a human is tough and feelings are real!   So i decided to choose someone locally, and luckily this therapist lived 7 minutes from me!

 With covid, I still wanted to see someone in the flesh vs virtually, but during my session I wore a mask even though I was vaccinated.  The first visit went okay, it was more of an introduction from the therapist, from me and a small tour of the place.  It was small and quaint old farmhouse that the woman rented out. The problem was, my first session was screwed up because she mixed up the times.  I text her and left her a voicemail a few days prior confirming our appointment and she still got our meeting time wrong.  Strike one for her! I had to see her the next day after we spoke on the phone discussing her error.

I was not amused.  Once I finally got there and knew we had the correct meeting time, I walked around the place for what felt like eternity in silence until I heard people talking upstairs, very muffled sounding though.  I felt like I was in a horror movie.  I could just see myself peeling back a cracked door and noticing a rocking chair by the window with no one in it.  In reality, this all lasted about ten minutes and I was able to get a feel for the place and grab some water.

I eventually met up with the therapist, we'll call her Sharon. She was older, late 60s I'd guess. She was finishing up her session with another patient. She was very nice but VERY calm in demeanor.  A bit too relaxed for me.  She's been doing this a long time so I will say her style was probably a bit out of touch date. Again, the first briefing was fine and okay.  We chuckled at her mistake about the time of our appointment then moved on to talking about any childhood trauma. I'm very lucky to not have had childhood trauma.  I had quite the opposite experience.  I truly had a wonderful childhood and great parents.  But nothing was in that department for me so we moved on.  Next we discussed my family, my life, what I wanted, what I'm doing, what I did. It was a wide range of various topics.  And I am assuming this occurs during a first therapy session.

I could be wrong, but it doesn't matter because I gave Sharon FIVE good ol' tries, $200 dollars later and nada. Very long story short, I just didn't feel any connection with her.  Her style of breathing techniques and listening to ocean sounds didn't appeal to me.  But hey, I tried.  FIVE times I tried. As I understand, in the world of therapists, it's just like dating,  You have to shop around a few times before you meet "the one".  After that, I was thankfully in a better place and head space.  I didn't feel like jumping into therapy quite that quickly. Skip to January of 2021 and I started experiencing my typical comparing issues ( my own life vs others, comparison is definitely the thief of joy, friends). And in reality, I was just in an overall funk.  Some could argue it was Winter and seasonal depression is a real thing but I don't really experience the different seasons in that sense.  I just felt not myself for about 6 weeks of Winter I'd say. It could be a seasonal thing too.  I don't have all the information about that though to give you an evidence-based answer.

I was and am currently still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and in this almost new decade of life when I turn 40 in October. Can you tell I'm only slightly freaked out by this?  eek! On the same token, I am trying to embrace my life as it is right now!  I'm trying to go with the flow, but I still feel like I need to make an important decision and soon!  Before I turn 40.  As I've talked about in my stories on my instagram account, I';m tired of applying to jobs that in reality, I do not want.  They aren't serving any purpose or make sense to try to get.  Income is never a bad thing, but I have to be picky.  I don't want to just pick anything.  I love talking about nutrition.  Nutrition has been the topic of discussion with me for the past three years- after I tried honing in on what I enjoy/what I am passionate about.  I'm still on this subject, and I am still trying to figure out what I should do and what I want for myself.

When it comes to trying therapy again, I'm not opposed to it, but I'm currently in  a better head space, but that ebbs and flows of course.  I think I want to discuss this exact topic with a professional.  But time will tell.  If you're thinking about giving therapy a shot, I say go for it.  It's an important step to take.  Never be ashamed. Pride is overrated. Do you.


Let's pretend we are all here right now. :)



March 28, 2022

The Accidental Stay At Home Mom

 Okay so, I want to start writing more.  I enjoy it, so why not begin again?  I wanted to create a new account on instagram dedicated to the true struggles of being a stay at home mom- accidentally. This means you were working, but then something stopped it all in its tracks, and now you are sort of screwed.  I wanted to write about and share my experience as an accidental stay at home mom.  If you follow me on Instagram, the handle is Dana_asahm. I posted a bunch of long-winded videos on my stories as a general intro, but below I wanted to expand on my thoughts.  Enjoy!

This wasn’t how I expected my life to turn out. Wait, that’s not what I mean. I wasn’t supposed to be a stay at home mom. Let me back up for a minute. I misspoke. I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom?  I didn’t plan to be a stay at home but it sort of happened.  Yeah, I guess that sounds the best.  I guess I should blame the status quo or society norms, OR the shitty system in America that is public education. They are definitely half to blame, but I still blame myself too.. There’s not just one single thing that makes my being a SAHM accidental, it’s a lot of little things. The most important one to me is that I thought I’d have a career by the age of 39. Isn’t that what we ALL assume?   I thought I would have discovered something I love, have it magically become my passion and that it would be as easy as pie to turn it into a wonderful career.  I have a ton of hobbies and other interests that I enjoy doing and that make me feel good, but I have yet to turn them into something.  I truly thought that’s what was supposed to happen. I thought everyone was chasing their dreams and that they would eventually catch them. I don’t know about you, but I was brought up and surrounded by folks who believed that life is supposed to have structure and go in a perfect straight line. Something about ducks and rows.. Weird.  But that’s not how my makeup works (biologically speaking) and that’s not reality.  My life had so many squiggly lines of confusing uncertainty until this point, that you would think it would resemble something out of a Jackson Pollack Painting.

 And so here we are.  I’m thirty-nine and have been an accidental stay at home mom since January of 2017, if you care for specifics. And of course with a few bullshit jobs sprinkled in between. This was the month and year that I got laid off from my job, my dog was attacked by a neighbor’s dog, and my mom was diagnosed with cancer.  Shit, where do I begin?

I guess I should begin with a bold statement and a belief I feel very strongly about: College isn’t for everyone. Agree or disagree, these are straight up facts my friends. My college story isn’t anything revolutionary; it’s actually quite the opposite.  It’s mundane yet millions of high school grads heading into a four-year university have experienced this, no matter what stage of the college process they’re in.  And if they had what appears to be a seamless four years and know exactly what they want to do once they  have graduated and say they are doing great and feel excited and seem to have all of the confidence in the world for being just 21 years old, I’m going to have to burst that bubble.  They’re lying to you.    They’re scared shitless for the real world. The education system in the United States does not set students up for the real world…like, AT ALL.  I think I would have enjoyed a class on basic survival skills for camping or hiking, or how about a class on changing a flat tire? Or even better, a class called, How to Deal with Assholes: A Real World Guidebook  to Life. Real. World. Shit. According to Medium.com, an online article entitled, “How American Schools Set Students Up To Fail”; written by Matthew Biggins.  He breaks the topic of education down into three parts, which I agree with 1000%:

What is the purpose of education?

1.       To get good grades?

2.       To get into the best universities?

3.       To get the best jobs?

And the answer would be none of those.  Biggins says, “The purpose of education is to inspire action to better the world and lead us to personal fulfillment. Yet you wouldn’t know it by looking at our education system today. ( Biggins, Medium.com)  Amen, Matthew.

After I graduated high school (because God forbid someone doesn’t earn their high school diploma since there are plenty of successful people in this world who never even graduated high school).  I went straight into community college because that’s where my bff and her sister were looking to go, and right out of the gate I’m appearing like a follower! Gah! But at age eighteen, yes, I was one.  I was young and naive, so sue me. I couldn’t tell you what my friends wanted to go to school for but at the time; Special Education was all the rage. So naturally, as a follower, I jumped on that bandwagon without knowing squat about the major or that field. In case you weren’t aware, Special Education is teaching kids who have special needs and/or are possibly disabled in some way.  It’s a more individualized teaching approach which I do think I would have enjoyed. But if you were to take a wild guess, that didn’t pan out. Also, after having a kid of my own, I can’t imagine being a teacher, in any grade or form.  Teachers are pure saints. Thank you Thank you Thank you.

So, why isn’t college for everyone?  I’m getting there.  Community College didn’t go as planned but I do know one thing; I wasn’t there to make friends this time. I went back to college later, around age twenty-four, to Rowan University, formerly Glassboro State College and finished my undergrad in the most generic major ever.  B.A. in Liberal Studies, minor in Marketing. I couldn’t tell you what liberal studies is nor do I care.  I can tell you that choosing that major didn’t require five or more math courses and no other bullshit courses that I didn’t need. I started out as an English major but turned that over real quick since there were like seventeen poetry and Shakespeare courses that were required. Also, my Shakespeare professor was pushing 100. I was having zero fun and so was he. It was a win-win to vacate thy class. With the liberal studies major, I recall taking one math course in probability which I actually sort of liked and I was able to choose tons of electives like Astronomy and lots of creative writing courses. Choosing liberal studies was a no brainer for me.  I worked really hard and studied my ass off but only because I had to. Which to my point, college isn’t for everyone. I’m not a studious student.  If I want to understand something, I need to take my time, practice and study really fucking hard. I’m a hands on learner; I need books I can flip actual pages with.  I like tangible things.  If I wanted to pass a test, I needed to study extra hard. There are students who don’t have to study one word and they pass their test and graduate college with flying colors. We call those people assholes or just studious students. College may have been for them, but can we all agree they are not street smart by any stretch of the imagination?  I needed to pass all of my courses because I just wanted that piece of paper, sorry, degree. [Insert eye roll]. I didn’t enjoy the college experience, and maybe I would have under different circumstances but I’ll never know. This was just my journey. It was just something I had to do.  Kind of like that time I just had to eat an entire pint of Ben n’ Jerry’s Phish Food.  The only difference was that I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.

So when I finally graduated college, I remember spending almost every single day job searching. I spent a good portion of the day on job websites, reaching out to temp agencies, messaging people on Linkedin and directly emailing companies on their website.  You know the drill. I was obsessed with finding a 9-5 which sounds sad now, but back then, it’s what I wanted. It may have taken me a whole damn year to find something, but I did it!  I got the temp job, for one year at an Engineering firm in Philadelphia. I remember meeting my husband for lunch one day in the city when I got the call from the temp agency.  I had gotten the job! The interview went well and I started crying ­because I worked so hard to find something and it finally felt like someone was taking a chance on me!  It felt really good. I worked there for one year as a temp and then came on full time with the company; working there for six more years. It was a decent paying job where, in a very tiny nutshell, I did data entry and tedious work for architects and engineers and collaborated with various subcontractors.  I enjoyed it for the first couple of years, that is until I got too comfy there and in hindsight, probably should have began job searching again.  The company merged with a bigger company and things went downhill fast. About three months before my department got laid off, I saw it coming. It made sense to let go of the document control department, which was our department. There were only four of us and if I’m being honest, the job was unnecessary.  Business is business as my husband loves to say. Companies need to save and make money at the same time. Who would have thought?  Engineers were let go first. Architects and some administrative staff as well were getting the boot. My department was next and I did nothing about it.  Shoulda-coulda-woulda .  I was working from home one day when I got the call that I was laid off.  I cried, I was mad at myself and also took it out on my husband, who knew it was inevitable. I somehow refused to get in touch with reality at the time. I still don’t believe that going back to college and getting that piece of paper was worth it, but did it help me get the job?  Maybe a little.

So if you despise college so much Dana, why did you still go?!  I had zero direction about my future and therefore it felt like I had no other option at the time. A degree was so important. Yeah well so is exercise, getting enough sleep and eating a vegetable once in a while.  If you’re anything like me, or don’t want to go my route ( which I don’t blame you but hey, this was my journey),  but still want to give college the ol’ try, I’d tell you to go for it! But I’d also tell you to really hone in on whatever you’re truly passionate about and make it work for you! Work your ass off if this is something you really want! College shouldn’t be a have to or supposed to. Do what works for YOU. And stop trying to match up with society norms because that won’t work and they suck.

Being laid off on the 3rd day of the New Year appeared to be a blessing in disguise.  So when I said “this wasn’t how I expected my life to turn out,” it wasn’t. Or put more simply, life is hard and 2017 can suck it. It was not my favorite year by any means. So on that day in January, I became an accidental stay at home mom who was trying to figure out, essentially, this new life I had.

 I'm still trying to figure some things out.