My Reaction To The SoCal Fire

fire, socal, anaheim hills, burn, cloud,dark,oc, orange county, talk, neighbor, spirit, orange, anaheim, tustin, freeway, 91 freeway, love,reaction, community, listen, cry, tears, sadness, heartI woke up this morning with a huge smile on my face. I mean, my boyfriend just presented a gorgeous engagement ring to me. Things are looking up for me. I finally got the job I have always dreamed of, I can’t complain.

I drove to work super excited about what this last full week at my current job would bring. I want to finish strong and never falter, I thought. Just as was getting lost in my many selfish thoughts, I drove through what seemed like an amber cloud, except this cloud had no end.

It was early in the morning but the sky was dark and haunting.

We had a fire recently so it looked like a bit of deja vu. I thought maybe there was a different explanation, maybe a residual effect of the recent eclipse? I mean, what else could it be?

I kept driving. I decided not to worry. It was much too early on a Monday to worry about anything.

I got to my first stop of the day and my phone started ringing. It was a coworker. He told me to be careful because there was a huge fire in the middle of my usual Monday route. I froze. Another fire? Seriously? When will all of this chaos end?

I went about my day as normal as possible doing my best to avoid the forbidden 91 East freeway. I thought of the most strategic way to get to where I needed to go. It was a success, I encountered very little traffic.

All was well until I got on the 91 West freeway. I couldn’t believe how fluid the freeway was around 3 pm on a holiday. Woohoo! But then I saw it. I saw a huge black cloud of smoke ahead of me. As I approached the cloud, I looked to my left and saw flames much taller than myself taking over the mountain I so often drive next to.

Suddenly traffic didn’t matter, suddenly I didn’t even matter.

I have to admit I admire nature but I am not a tree hugger. No matter what I am or what I am not, I stared straight into the eye of the fire and burst into tears. It was overwhelming. The fire was literally a few feet away from me.

I kept driving and the flames were endless. My tears shed because of all the people who might be affected by this. My tears shed because it hurt to see such beautiful land go up in flames.

I so often take this long strip of nature for granted. I drive next to it often yet think nothing of it. I just expect it to always be there. Today I realized it will not always be there, and even if it is, it was forever changed today.

I called as many loved ones as I could. I told them I loved them. I told them I was safe. I did what I should do every single day regardless of nature’s wrath. This fire reminds me that everything can literally change in a matter of seconds. People have lost all of their memories and sense of safety today.

To all those affected:

My heart breaks with yours. I am sorry you have had to endure such a loss and/or trauma. And while things might seem irreparable right now, remember that your spirit can never be broken. Remember that you are a part of a larger community and that you are and will never be alone. If you need to talk, reach out to me, I am always here to listen. If not me, reach out to your fellow neighbor.

And to the brave responders and volunteers: I am sending you all of my love and strength, thank you for all of your heart, bravery and hard work. You are changing the course of history as we speak.

Today was not the best of days for many, but let’s all make sure to make tomorrow better by letting all those around us know they matter and that we care.

Love Always and Forever,

Karen

The First Time Someone Called Me Old

Old, baby, call, first time, age, aging, babies, marriage, generation, growing up, excuses, wise, happy, positive, attitude, mistakes, life, advice, love, journey, fall, call, Snapchat, Instagram, google, 20 something, millennial

I was at a party the other day when someone told me I was old and should be married already. I was offended but then quickly smiled on the inside.

My little sister told me I don’t understand her generation and, once again, I was offended at first, but quickly realized I am grateful for where I am in life.

I’m in the middle. I’m in my late 20s trying to make sense of it all. Was my degree a complete waste of time? Is Snapchat the key to happiness? Should I be using cooler filters on Instagram? Should I be attending social networking parties? Should I be thinking about babies even though I’m clearly not ready?

All these questions and no answers. But you know what? I don’t feel too old. I don’t feel my path is better or worse than the next person. I don’t “get” Snapchat and fine, Instagram is finally growing on me…when it comes to babies, maybe I don’t even want them!

I know I’m not young enough to have excuses for everything. I am proud of how far I have come in life. I take full responsibility for my actions and I refuse to publicize my entire life. I like to maintain my privacy just in case someone Google’s me.

I have fallen. And I have fallen hard. I once thought I would be writing a bunch of books in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere. Ha. I have a cabin available but I also have a mortgage now, so there goes that idea.

I have made a lot of mistakes and the 16-year-old me would probably call me a sell-out. I abide by societal norms and try my best to always stay happy and positive at all times. Well, at least when people are watching.

I’m still a tortured writer at heart, I still feel my life is in complete disarray. But I have never been prouder of my state of mind.

I refuse to give up on my dreams. I refuse to be a clock-watching robot. I put in maximum effort in all that I do and I walk free and clear of self-doubt and regret.

Maybe I am old. Maybe I’m not getting married like the rest of the 20-somethings around me. Maybe my degree was just another hurdle to cross and that’s all it will ever be. 

None of my accomplishments or life events will ever define me. What defines me is who I am today. What defines me is my strong character, my dedication, my integrity, my positive attitude, my follow-through, my loyalty, my strong work ethic, my outlook on life in general. 

I am on a journey and it is nobody’s but mine. I would rather be me than anybody else and I would rather be my age than any other age. Please call me old, it is one of the greatest compliments.

Love Deeply and Forever, 

Karen

Why You Should Never Mix Business With Pleasure

clients, client, work, mistake, choose, wisely, business, pleasure, friends, not your friend, why“Come have drinks with us!” A client said to me when I started my first grown-up job. OMG, someone wants to hang out with little ‘ol me! How exciting, I thought. I was 22, extremely impressionable, and brand new to the “corporate” world.

I couldn’t believe all the attention I was attracting as a newbie. People were inviting me places left and right and were the nicest anyone had ever been to me. I thought I was golden. I thought it would never end.

My boss warned me time and time again that these people were not my friends. I thought he was sabotaging my happy moment. I even got crazy and thought he might have been jealous at one point. I mean, I was amazing through and through, right?

But just like so many other things in life, all good things must come to an end.

About nine months into my new gig, I realized these clients were never my friends. They were nice to me because they thought they could play me. They saw me as a sweet little 22-year-old that knew nothing about the business. They thought they could take advantage of my ignorance in order to get what they wanted.

Well, guess what? They thought wrong. I quickly caught on that everyone had a hidden agenda and that every word I spoke could later be used against me. I also realized that if I didn’t keep my guard up I could get squashed in two seconds.

The day I realized the truth, it hurt. It hurt a lot. I had to make a fatal mistake in order to realize that clients will never really be my friends. I let my guard down for just a moment and that moment would forever haunt me. I was not in control and everyone knew it.

I promised myself I would never lose control like this again.

After getting lost in the glamour of being the fresh face on the block, I decided to put my big girl shoes on. I would no longer be looked at as this girl who knew nothing, not even her limits.

I used to tell my clients every part of my life story. I though, F#*% it. What do I have to lose? Unfortunately, I had everything to lose. People could use such insider info to see what made me tick and what my mental capacity was at any given moment. They could gauge me and that is never good. Especially as a young female in a male dominant business.

So, from that moment on, I decided to only give clients a sliver of my life. I would only tell them the parts that were exciting and/or boisterous. I created a persona that was based on the real version of myself with some slight modifications. If I sounded like a snobby bitch to some, so be it. I would rather be seen as that than as an inexperienced, anxiety-ridden mess (which I was at the time).

I now know clients were never really my friends and that is fine. We all have agendas in life, and we all want others to further help us accomplish our own. Life is a series of exchanges and I get that now.

I’m sure some clients do become friends to some people, but it is not typical or necessarily convenient while conducting business. Lines are grayed and important decisions can be compromised. It can often become a huge conflict of interest. That being said, the choice is up to every individual. Choose your friends wisely.