Springing into Spring 2017

Spring is known for its characteristics of “rebirth” as we all storm Home Depot’s nursery and sow seeds into new soil. A little water and a little sunshine do more for us than just bring out the sprigs of our latest garden friends. The porch door hangs open and the breeze blows soft kisses on my face as I breathe in all the freshness that comes with late March. This spring I am excited to plant new seeds in my life to help the following years bloom into a beautiful and colorful adventure. Having just given my notice at City Wide Mechanical I am going to take a small break from the 9-5 to travel. First stop is Colorado for some much needed hiking and mountain air then I’m off to Budapest, Austria and Prague to explore a few new countries and gain a soon to be very grateful experience with my grandma. I feel so thankful for my experiences at City Wide and am really fortunate to have the ability to take a little break. When I return I am going to take my time to find the right next company to plant myself in. Having worked now in what I consider both extremes, the fast paced, balls to the wall, 70+ hour work weeks and the slow, tough to fill the day with tasks, 40 or less hour work weeks. Something I always believed but didn’t fully come to know was how important culture is in a company. It’s not so much what you do and where you do it as much as it is who you are working with. Culture is everything it’s what creates the buzz around you, the energy, laughs, high fives and positive environment that you spend more time at then you do at home. Of course, I want to enjoy my work but I more so want to enjoy the people I surround myself with. As someone who prides herself on getting along with everyone I never thought this would be an issue for me but then I came to realize you can get along with everyone but you still may not feel like you fit in that particular culture or company. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just knowledge that you may fit better in a different environment. We are all fueled and energized differently.  I strive to be diligent and thorough in my task of finding the right next fit. I want to find a balance between feeling utilized but not deflated. Between checking emails on the weekends and leaving work at work. I think the next couple months are going to be as rejuvenating as the smell of spring promises but also tough as I make hard decisions and begin to work through what I’ve learned to find that right next organization. I am excited though, and I know I can do this! Opportunities don’t often happen, we create them!

I’ll keep these in mind as I search and create.

“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.” – M. Scott Peck

“Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for it.” Katherine Whitehorn

 

-Sierra 16179297_10158081675020585_6251992831607954540_o

Conflicts suck, let’s make them easier!

Conflicts suck, they really do, but they help us grow into better, more understanding and well rounded human beings. These are some things I’ve learned through conflicts or others conflicts that have helped my approach and personal happiness in these difficult situations.

It is so important to be careful and mindful in how we respond to others in difficult situations. I understand that most of the time these difficult conversations and conflicts can come out of nowhere and we are left either like me speechless because I need to give myself time to process OR we respond emotionally too quickly and find ourselves regretful or remorseful later on. Luckily at a young age I learned to hold my tongue and allow myself time to process each situation. Sometimes it can take two days other times it takes a week. In the past, I’ve even found better responses months later after the situation had already passed. Those I believe we tuck into our pockets for future reference. In most cases, I have found that these three things are full proof in dealing with unfortunate situations, conflicts and confrontations.

First, understand that words are like airplanes. They can change course quickly and cause a lot of confusion, when we let our words spill from our mouths without intention our conversations can get lost and emotional very quickly.

Second, intention, the most important part is to lead with kindness always. I find I have never left a conversation or looked back regretful when I chose to speak  from a place of kindness. If your intentions are good then your outcome, at least on your end will be good too.

& Third, Equanimity: mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. I know when things get emotional it can be extremely difficult to remain calm, cool and collected. BUT, remember our reaction to things is not anyone’s fault but our own. We have the “choice” to feel how we feel. Someone did not make you feel bad, you chose to feel bad. Someone did not make you raise your voice, you chose to. When we lose our temper, words fly, the conversation changes drastically and we really lose out on the opportunity to make a relationship better and also ourselves as we grow in difficult times.  I know this can be a really hard reality to grasp at times but perceptions is everything. Remember to always hold your own inner understanding that you are the only one in control of your choices to feel, behave, and act each way. It’s okay to mess up and it’s okay to fail at this, I believe, like all things it takes practice and patience with ourselves. Remaining calm in the face of conflict, listen to the other person but don’t allow yourself to absorb their negativity. There is this old quote I learned in grade school, “Anger is like pee in your pants, everyone can see it, but only you can feel it.”

Those three things have never failed me. Throughout college and then my entrance into the “real world” I have always held strong to good intentions,  found peace in leading with kindness and power in remaining calm.

My Personal Conflicts and Their Results: I know in my life I have struggled with holding my tongue too much for fear of saying something that will hurt someone else or saying something I’ll regret. When a person says something to me that I react to negatively I often remain quiet because I am trying not to absorb their words, but this isn’t always easy, I often still feel hurt. When you are faced with this type of situation respond with, “Can you help me understand what you meant by that?” This is a great way to respond with kindness. Give them room to explain what they said and in turn maybe you’ll learn that what they said had no negative intentions or they’ll realize what they said wasn’t very kind. In turn, you (hopefully) will have taught them that speaking to you that way won’t result in anything positive. For me this lesson came when I was hanging out with some old friends and one of them told me out of the blue that I just need to (insert rude comment). My first thought honestly was (you can take the (insert rude comment) right out of my house) but that wasn’t going to end well so instead I remained calm and quiet. Still hurt but quiet I really struggled with how to respond. Shortly there after I had concocted in my mind some cockamini reason as to why she would’ve said that, that maybe my bf was unhappy and maybe he said something about it….(insert emotional roller coaster). My mistake I absorbed the comment and then allowed myself to further investigate it and feel bad about it.  She very quickly after realizing my change in attitude apologized for her words. However I still left feeling conflicted. That’s when I came up with the very simple,”can you help me understand what you meant by that?” concept and it’s helped me a lot. Full proof to open up the floor to talk about it in a non confrontational way. If you are ever faced with this try out that question and see where it takes you.  I have always found especially in the recent years of my life that as long as you lead with kindness no regret comes. In my 24 short years I haven’t had too many conflicts come up but of recent there were a couple. The first a very unfortunate one, with a lot of conflicting personalities. I responded with kindness and tried my best to explain a positive way to turn out the situation keeping perceptions of others in mind…. (This made me feel good ((which is really the most important thing)) but did not turn out the way I’d hoped in the end.) When that happens it is absolutely okay, we can’t change people we just may learn we aren’t compatible and we move on. Hard truth but true nonetheless. The second, was a conflict I had with my Dad’s wife while he was in the hospital, really difficult/emotional time for us and I ended up giving myself a week to breathe and process before responding and then we had a peaceful conversation about how we both felt and how we could handle the situation better in the future. Totally successful, at times Dr. Phil esque if you will but successful. We have to understand that everyone is allowed to feel how they feel, and be how they want to be. Don’t absorb another persons negativity watch it pass by like a moving car and understand that it is no ones fault but their own for feeling how they feel. Our perceptions lead us everywhere we go. Once we understand that, it is much easier to try to see things from another perspective and work together to solve the problem. Leading with kindness and finding inner peace in conflict with equanimity is full proof (at least for me).

I hope this helps in any way. The world especially lately has taken a sad tragic turn and each of us has the power to help and set a better example.

Below are two great articles that speak on the power and practice of both choosing kindness and equanimity.

Happy Holidays, remember these things if you get sucked into an unfortunate holiday political talk with family this year. Hopefully not!

-Sierra

The Next Step

 

Around this time a year ago I was jumping for joy at the celebration of obtaining a degree, jumping in the river and starting my first big girl job in 2 short weeks. Now on the other side I can’t believe how fast this past year went by. I started and finished a 15.8 million dollar research facility for UT with a fantastic company and it was the hardest year of my young life. So many lessons rolled into those short but long 365 days. The truth that I had never really worked as hard as I thought I had and that construction work was nothing to joke about was a reality that I came to know each day. There is nothing comparable to those first few months waking up at 5 and working from 7-6 only to get home and pass out on the couch almost immediately. Throughout the countless hours of work and traffic filled days, it was the most influential year of my life. I can’t begin to describe the change I went through this year, when you graduate and are given the responsibility to get things done for a company, your new team, and there are people involved in the decisions you make it’s a completely new sense of belonging….and stress. In college your grades and assignments only impact you and even then it isn’t that big of a deal. When you work each decision you make impacts the group and you are no longer just turing in a paper you are turning in something that will drive the company onward and you had a hand in that. A wrong pay application could mean a mishap in accounting, a company not receiving the money they billed for and a long line of problems there after. BUT every problem has a solution so after reading that sentence know that mistakes happen and there is always a way to fix it… always. I drove over 80 miles a day round trip on I-35 through countless traffic jams and managed to operate 14 hour days (including my drive) with 6 hours of sleep while working at least 5, 11 hour a days and 1, 8 hour day most weeks. Still not even close to what others accomplish each day and week I’m sure, but all new to me.  Through all of this I couldn’t let myself give up, I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving without seeing this building, my team & I’s baby through to the finish line. I now have so much more appreciation for a day off and most importantly a confidence that I only could’ve acquired through working and forcing myself to swim and not sink in my first job. Running meetings, leading a discussion in front of 40 + year old men, translating important building instructions, and scripting emails contingent upon contractual agreements and rules are now things I don’t get stomach aches about. That alone makes me smile, I hold myself now with more surety and grace as I know I can get through those tough discussions and tell someone way older than me that’s been working for decades longer that he didn’t do his job properly and needs to get me the documents I asked for. That among many other things made this whole year one of my favorite years with some of my favorite teachers. I can’t thank this company enough for helping me make the leap from graduate Sierra to professional ready for the world Sierra. I know I still have so much to learn and the growth has only just begun but now that I can see it I can’t wait to watch my business self grow and my new found professional Sierra develop further. Since finishing out the building and thanking all that were involved I have left that wonderful, family oriented and friendly company for a new one. (Very very hard decision) I will be moving to Dallas in just one short week to start at a new construction company. I loved living so close to San Marcos and getting to visit the river and check out Austin. I am definitely going to miss the hill country and especially I will miss this company.

Throughout this year I realized just how important family time is. I wanted so badly to make it home for family dinners, wine nights, and evenings drinking beer with my Dad on the patio but Dallas was just 2 hours too far for a casual drive up. I only saw my family in Dallas on Thanksgiving and Christmas and that alone was tough. It hit me that there will be time in my life hopefully farther  away than closer, where I wake up and my family isn’t around anymore. My Mom, Dad, Grandma, Aunts and Uncles won’t be just a quick drive up the road. With some new medical developments in the family too it really woke me up to the fact that years and years with family isn’t a guarantee. My little cousin is growing faster and faster and I feel like I am missing out on being the cousin he deserves. I made the decision to move to Dallas for family. I want to soak up this precious time while I can.

Graduating and moving 10 miles north was easy like a little baby step into moving on. Especially since living with 3-4 people was extremely easy for my bank account it allowed me to save and practice paying all my bills on my own a bit easier at first. So this feels like a much bigger move. I am nervous, nervous I will miss my little San Marcos town too much. This town taught me how to survive on my own and gave me the education that has lead me this far. It is a very hard town to leave, but fortunately it is not going anywhere and I tell myself I can always come back!

So here’s to the next step! In one week I will be moving into my first big girl apartment, buying my first pieces of furniture and paying rent all by my girl self instead of splitting it four ways like I have for the past 5 years…that alone is scary!

But I am ready.

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Seeker Sierra is moving to Dallas! Goodbye Austin..for now 🙂

Taking the next step,

-S

Life after

Let’s be honest and talk about the elephant in the room. This elephant that never goes away. The irrevocable truth that is, life as a twentysomething is both unexpected and really anticlimactic.

Life after graduation is this built up dream that the change you’ve been seeking… will be this enlightening, remarkable post college real life “episode of Friends” glory.

Continue reading “Life after”

This Too Shall Pass

Last Monday I received a call while at work that one of my friends had been hit by a drunk driver the Saturday before and was unresponsive on life support. Since then there has been a plethora of emotions swirling around in my brain. My sweet friend that I had grown close to during my freshman and sophomore year of college was now going to be taken off life support that night.

This is my first experience with grieving….it feels a lot like walking in a haunted house.

Continue reading “This Too Shall Pass”