Lessons I wish I’d Learned Sooner…

So, here I am on January 20, 2014 and I’m just now beginning to reflect on 2013. It was a crazy year for me filled with many good things (i.e., graduating with my master’s degree; getting a job; seeing Josh Groban), and some events that I wish I could erase.  I’m a planner and I pride myself on knowing what to do in these situations. Because things often didn’t go as I planned in 2013, I often found myself a little unprepared for how to handle new and challenging situations. As such, I wanted to share a few of the lessons I learned in the last year, so that you can be prepared in case you find yourself in a similar situation. These lessons aren’t things that you haven’t heard before; I don’t proclaim to be presenting you with rocket science. However, sometimes hearing these things from another person can help them seem more applicable to you. Enjoy 🙂

Lesson #1: Expect the Unexpected. 

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. – Randy Pausch

It’s not rocket science, folks. We all have preconceived notions about how our lives will play out. We get it into our heads that we are going to follow a linear path that will be smooth sailing with very few waves. We’re going to go to college, graduate, meet the love of our life, get married, have kids…and, well, you know how the story is supposed to end, right? Unfortunately, life rarely takes us in the exact direction that we had expected. Sadly, we’re so caught up in how we think our lives should play out that we’re often unprepared when things don’t go our way. In 2013, I was certain that I was going to get into a PhD program…so certain that I never took a second to think about what would happen if I didn’t. This leads us to the second lesson.

Lesson #2: Have a back-up plan.

You can always change your plan, but only if you have one. – Randy Pausch

Because we often have it set it in our minds that things will turn out as anticipated, we rarely bother to have a back-up plan. We don’t think about what will happen if things don’t go our way. This is what gets us into trouble. I know that some people might not want to have a back-up plan because they’re afraid to think about the possibility of having to use it. Or, people might not have a plan B because they’re superstitious and think it may jinx them. I get it. It makes you realize that there’s a possibility that you may deviate from your life’s course and that you may have no control over this. Although it’s hard to admit it, that’s life. Life is full of bumps in the road that throw us off our chosen path. As such, we need to be prepared. When I found out that I wasn’t going to be accepted into a PhD program, I was terrified. For someone who considers herself to be a planner, not having a back-up plan in place was awful. It was scary not knowing what I was going to do with my life, when I’d thought for so long that I’d be spending the next 5 years of my life in school. This is where accepting the next lesson becomes really important.

Lesson #3: Sometimes taking the path less traveled is OK. I promise.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- 

I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference. – Robert Frost

When things don’t go the way you had planned, it’s hard. Really, freaking hard. I would actually consider this an understatement. Because we’ve been following a certain path for so long and weren’t anticipating being thrown-off course, it’s really hard to accept anything other than what we’d always had in mind. We think that our life is going to follow a straight path and that we’re going to get to point A to point B with no problems. We have an idea of how things should be. Unfortunately, when we do face these bumps in the road, it’s often hard for us to accept that we won’t be following our chosen path. For me, I thought that I was going to go to college and straight into a PhD program. Obviously, that didn’t happen. When I graduated from my master’s program, the obvious next step was going for my PhD. Also didn’t happen. Learning to accept that (twice) is something that I still struggle with at times. Now, I’m currently working in a great job with wonderful people gaining invaluable experiences and learning more about what I want out of life. It certainly wasn’t expected and it isn’t what I had originally wanted. It’s not the smooth path that I would have originally chosen for myself, but being on this new path has opened my eyes to a world of possibilities that I never knew existed before.

Lesson #4: Don’t just focus on the short-term, focus on the long-term, too.

The future depends on what you do today. – Mahatma Gandhi

When we’re faced with making a decision that we didn’t think we’d have to make, it’s often easy to focus on how our decision will effect us in the present. Too often, we don’t take the time to think about how our decision will impact us in the long-run, when everything that we’re doing now will affect our future. If I had only been focusing on the short-term when I didn’t get into a PhD program, I would have moved back to my parents house in May after graduation and wallowed in self-pity for a couple weeks…or months. However, realizing that if I had a shot at getting into a PhD program in the future, I needed to make a decision that would help me reach my goal and get me back onto my original path. This is where the next lesson is important.

Lesson # 5: Weigh your options. 

“When you have to make a hard decision, flip a coin. 
Because when that coin is in the air, 
you suddenly know what you’re hoping for.” – Anonymous 

Despite not having a back-up plan, I had a wonderful support system to help me think through my options. What were my options? What did I want to do? What option would serve as the best stepping-stone to get me to where I wanted to be? I was fortunate enough to have a few job interviews and even more fortunate enough to have a few offers. Making a decision was challenging because it had to be done rather quickly. However, by weighing my options and looking at the pros and cons of everything, I was able to make the best decision for me. And if you’re still having problems determining what you should, just a flip a coin and you’ll have your answer.

Lesson #6: Learn to be OK doing things alone. 

If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone. – Maxwell Maltz 

Sometimes when we are thrown off-course, we’re often forced to do things and move places that we never imagined. A job may be available, but it may be in a city where you know very few people. Speaking from experience, this can be very difficult. When you’re used to spending all your spare time with friends who you can call on a whim to go out, it’s a stark contrast to being in a new city with few friends. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I think it’s important that you accept that it’s OK to do things alone. You might be lonely at times and it might be difficult, but it will give you an opportunity to learn more about yourself and focus on yourself and your interests.

Channeling John Lennon: Ralph Rich is a Musician You Ought to Know

It’s no secret that we Dames like music. Pop, rock, classical, hip hop, and even some rap. We’ve also had our personal experiences with music. Abbie personally knows Red Wanting Blue, Jeannette has touched Josh Groban’s hand, and I wish I had touched Josh Groban’s hand…

Much of my high school experience was spent surrounded by music. Particularly, during long hours of choir and theater rehearsal where for weeks on end we would try to get the harmonies just right — to the point that we were sick of the songs, sick of each other, and physically sick. So not only do I love music, but I’m pretty skilled at discerning good music.

One of my new favorite artists is someone who I’ve known for nearly my whole life — even longer than I’ve known Jeannette (and I’ve known her since I was six.)

My new favorite artist is Ralph Rich.

A Northeast Ohio native (from Hubbard, a suburb of Youngstown), Ralph Rich has been involved in the local music scene for about 4 years, performing both as a solo artist and as a member of various bands including Krave, The Fuzzy Dice, and Super Cheef. He has played at multiple venues big and small including The Lemon Grove, Cedar’s, O’Donold’s, and Barley’s Pub in the Youngstown area, The Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Red Hook, New York, and Sadie Rene’s in Canton.

Rich, 24, began playing drums at age 4 and has played guitar since high school. He cites his main influences as The Beatles, John Lennon, Dashboard Confessional, and The Killers. Rich’s sound, however, also evokes the spirit of artists like The Goo Goo Dolls and John Mayer.

Rich has been writing music since high school, using personal experiences as inspiration, and his hard work is paying off. Looking forward to an eventual move to Los Angeles, Rich has just released his first EP. Comprised of original songs written by Rich over the last several years, the EP features six acoustic tracks that capture all of Rich’s influences.

The self-titled EP highlights all of Rich’s talents and his promise as an artist. My favorite tracks off the EP are “For You,” “Gia,” and “Leaving You Behind.”

“For You”: (Sample)

“Gia”: (Sample)

“Leaving You Behind”: (Sample)

Equally as fantastic, are the EP’s remaining 3 tracks, “I Want to Know,” “Think Back-Remember Me,” and “Heartbreaker.”

“I Want to Know”: (Sample)

“Think Back-Remember Me”: (Sample)

“Heartbreaker”: (Sample)

The CD version of Ralph Rich’s self-titled EP is available now directly from the artist. It will be available for digital download on iTunes and Amazon.com on June 1, 2012. It will also be available on Spotify on the same date.

Make sure you check out his Facebook Page here: Ralph Rich on Facebook.

Rich’s new EP is truly excellent and a representative of the talent housed here in Northeast Ohio.

Abbie may have Red Wanting Blue, but I’m looking forward to the day when I can say: “You know Ralph Rich? I knew him in Kindergarten…”

DISCLAIMER: All images and audio included in this post are the property of Ralph Rich.

GAP: I’ll explain later

I met the man of my dreams last night…in my dream.

His name is Josh Groban and I am insanely obsessed with him (as is Joni).

I’ve been a fan of Josh Groban for quite a few years now. I think he’s a fantastic singer and is a very talented musician. (Did you know he can play the drums?!? I didn’t until I saw him in concert twice this summer (as did Joni) and it was AWESOME).

If you have any doubts of his musical ability, just listen to this:

He also has a great sense of humor. Sometimes when I’m feeling sad, I watch this video and it cheers me up:

As I previously mentioned, I saw him in concert twice this concert. I went to the first concert with my family at the beginning of the summer. We were in a massive arena and had pretty good floor seats. We didn’t know what to expect, but needless to say I was blown away enough by the first concert that I HAD to see him again (this time with Joni 🙂 During the concert, Josh was extremely interactive with the crowd. He was also super entertaining and kept the audience wanting more.

One of the coolest parts about the concert was that there was a smaller stage in the middle of the main floor which wasn’t too far from where my family was sitting. Although there was security, enough people were getting out of their seats to take close up pictures of him that I figured, what the hell? So, I sneakily scurried by the security guards to get closer to the smaller stage. I took fabulous pictures (which unfortunately are at my house) then headed back to my seat, but not before I heard someone yell my name. Now-don’t get carried away. It wasn’t Josh shouting for me, it was my mother. Slightly less exciting, but wonderful nevertheless because without her scream, I would have never gotten the chance to touch Josh Groban. Yes, I said it-I touched him. Okay, that sounds awkward. Let me explain.

As I was heading back towards my seat, I heard my mother shout my name. I turned to look at her and just at the right time as well because at that time, Josh was leaving his smaller stage for the main stage and was about to run right past me. Well…there were people in front of my, but there was no way I was missing this chance. So, like anyone would do (or so I like to tell myself), I managed to make to the front of the crowd and put my hand out just in time to give Josh a high five. You would have thought I had won the lottery I was so excited!

So, after Joni and I both seeing this concert with our families, we decided to see splurge and see him again. We had great seats (11th row I believe) and had a great view the whole time. In fact, he made eye contact with us and don’t think I’m crazy. At one point in the concert, he invites a couple up onstage who has been married for a long time. After the opening act, Joni had overheard the couple behind us discussing how long they had been married and informed me of this. We then made it our mission to get them onstage. So, being the loud, obnoxious girls that we sometimes are (no offense), when the point came to recruit this couple, Joni and I were ready. Pretty sure it would have been impossible for him not to have heard us, so he looked at us, saw the couple and voila, they were the couple onstage 🙂 Good work to us if I do say so myself.

So, you’re probably wondering what a GAP is, right? It stands for Grobanite Access Point. It stands for different points where fans may have access to Josh like on the steps to the stage or when he’s going from one stage to the other. Joni and I contemplated trying to get onstage, but to no avail. There’s always next time, though.

I also have an I Love Lucy experience related to this event, but I find it so entertaining that you’ll just to have to stay tuned for this story at a later time 🙂