A Year Can Change A Lot: Part 4

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on October 1, 2009

Last week, I left you with this cliffhanger:

After the wedding, the honeymoon, and the graduation, I thought that our life would actually return to normalcy.

Boy was I mistaken.

Little did I know that within just a couple weeks, we would be packing our bags and hitting the road for another huge life change.

And then I didn’t get around to posting Part 4 on the weekend like I said I would. Oops! ;) I finally got a chance to sit down and do some serious writing.

This is definitely one of the best posts I have ever written so…

Sit back, relax, get some popcorn, and enjoy the next installment…


Missed Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3?

After we got back from the Honeymoon, it was back to work.

I remember not even having time to unpack my suitcase for over a week. I was suffering from the post-grad school, post-wedding, and post-honeymoon blahs big time.

When I got back to work in late September 2008, I found that instead of easing back into everything, my work had piled up while I was away and things that were supposed to be taken care of were not. It was extremely stressful because I now had 3 weeks of work to catch up on and do the normal assignments that were being thrown on my desk.

On the home front, Eric and I had planned to sell our condo as soon as I was done school. The only reason why we decided to move to Toronto was because we wanted a place that was close to my school while I was doing my Masters.

With the approaching recession and forecasting of a condo market crash in our area, we knew we had to sell fast.

During the time that we lived in the condo, there must have been over 50 condo buildings go up in our area. We were reading all these stories about condos that were being built and had huge vacancy rates. This was absolutely unheard of only 2 years ago when we purchased it. Financial forecasters were predicting a condo market crash, with huge price drops in the average price of units. We knew we had to sell now or we could stand to lose a lot of money.

So we got to work. Every night after work for a week, we worked on staging our condo to make it look as appealing as possible. We finished painting, removed a ton of furniture and put it in storage, added plants, etc. We basically moved out 50% of our junk to make a very small space look much more spacious.

We met with our realtors and our condo went up on the market immediately. She warned us that our condo could take a while to sell because she was not having the quick sales in our area like she used to.

It was now clear- the recession was hitting and hitting hard. We knew we had to put it up on the market before the cold winter months hit.

We had a lot of activity the first 2 days and on the 3rd day we were presented with two offers. We accepted the second offer and just couldn’t believe our luck. Within a week, our lives had now undergone a huge change once again. The buyers wanted a quick closing date, so we had to start packing immediately and were out within the next month.

During this time, the stress at work started to get worse. As a way to escape, I started up Oh She Glows on October 31, 2008.

It was such a great release for me and I found myself coming alive whenever I wrote. Unexpectedly, it was also helping me with my struggles with disordered eating. I found that writing about my experiences was extremely therapeutic for me and actually helped me commit to a healthy lifestyle rather than letting the stress get the best of me.

I wrote, and wrote, and wrote my little heart out.

On the work front, I told my boss that we had sold our condo and were moving. My plan was to stay at the job until I found something else that was closer to home.

Where would our new home be?

Eric’s parents had their house on the market for almost 2 years with no bites. The recession combined with a less desirable area for commuters, made the house a tough sell. The house also needed a lot of repairs and renovations, which discouraged many home buyers.

Thankfully, his parents offered to let us live in the house until we found something else. We moved in in November 2008 and were very happy to have a place to stay. How humbling it was to be newly married and living with the in laws! ;)

Things were a bit crazy to say the least- our stuff was still in storage and I was now enduring 4 hours of commuting each day. I was absolutely miserable.

Of course, I couldn’t really talk about my situation much on the blog for privacy reasons, but November and December 2008 were two very, very low months in my life.

I was miserable every single day I woke up.

I often cried on long commutes home, getting home late and exhausted only to go to bed an hour later to start it all over again. The stress of the job kept getting worse as did my commutes during the brutal winter season.

During this time, Oh She Glows started to take off. I was receiving positive feedback and I was feeling inspired. I had so much encouragement from my readers and it gave me such hope for the future. Looking back, I now see that my blog got me through one of the hardest times of my life. After a crappy day at work, I could write out my thoughts and start to feel a bit better about things.

My blog also gave me confidence that I deserved to be happy with what I was doing. I never had that before. All I thought about was what I should be doing, what would give me the biggest paycheck, and what others would think.

I started to plan for success:

During the time at my research job, I was planning behind the scenes. I knew I had to be smart about my income, so I pinched my pennies for the entire time. I didn’t go out to eat, didn’t buy clothing, nothing. I opened a high-interest savings account and saved over 60% of my income. I knew I needed some sort of cushion should I need it.

It was the best thing I ever did.

After this post in particular after a bad day at work, the wheels in my head started to turn.

Below is one of my favourite posts I have ever written. It was purely from the heart. I have to share this post with you today so you understand a better grasp of where I was coming from. You may have noticed that I have chosen not to reveal too much detail about the job. I decided to do that to protect the privacy of the organization as well as the workers there. Maybe some day in a ‘tell all’ book perhaps. ;)

Here is the post I wrote back in December after a horrible, horrible day at work:

Good evening everyone!

I fully intended to start this post with Celebrity Beauty Secrets, but I had to listen to my heart and vent for a few lines (paragraphs) first. Please bear with me…

Boy, did I have one of those days at work. Everything was going wrong at work and I was in tears today it got so bad. I was pulled in a million directions at once and no matter what I did, no one was happy with me.

I feel like I am in an abusive relationship.

Something has gotta give…

It got me thinking a lot about my tendency (and many others I know in life) to sacrifice my own happiness for the sake of something else- like a steady income. I know so many people who stay in jobs where they are unhappy for years because they are afraid to leave something secure. It is really a horrible way to live.

Many people in my life know that I have passions outside of what I am currently doing (baking/cooking, health/fitness, etc), and I am trying to pursue this with my blog, but it is really tough when 12 hours of your day is devoted toward something that makes you in tears and mentally and emotionally drained at the end of the day.

Some days I come home and I have nothing left to give to the people who matter the most to me in life.

I have no energy to give to Eric, to pick up the phone and call a loved one, or to look forward to the next day. All I feel like doing after a day like today is lying down on the couch in a foul mood.

The big question is- why do I put up with something that makes me unhappy? Why do we as humans accept a crappy job and then dedicate half of our days to it?

I am able to appreciate the opportunities it has given me- like co-authoring a book chapter- however, symbols of success in my field (i.e., publications, conference presentations, etc) are merely fluff, much like the degrees and thesis that sit on my bookshelf.

These symbols of success represent the blood and sweat of what I do each day (research).

However, symbols of success are merely that- a status symbol of something you think will make you happy once it’s there, but they really don’t.

What matters is that you are happy with who you work with and what you are doing. That you have people who support you and are a positive influence on your career. This is the good stuff, and I think without it we will never be truly happy in our jobs.

We need to feel like what we are doing is consistent with our personal goals and aspirations and that our efforts are truly recognized and appreciated.

We’ve all heard the stories on Oprah about women who have a mid-life crisis and finally decide, at 50, to pursue their life long dream. They claim that they worked in the same miserable job for 30 years, and damnit, they are sick of putting everyone else before them. Women do it in their relationships too. I admire anyone who can do it, because it is scary as hell to think of leaving security in today’s uncertain world.

Many people in my life know that one of my dreams is to open a bakery.

Will it ever happen?

I wish I could say for certain that it will. There is so much uncertainty with the market and the recession right now, how could I ever leave a secure job where I am making good money? Sure, I’ve seen the stories of women who quit their job and went back to school or opened their own business to achieve the greatest success of their lives, but what about the ones who quit and then can’t find a job and have trouble making ends meet?

These are all the things that I think about.

I am not a pessimist by any means, although this post may come across that way. I am actually a realist. I think about all sides to something before I make a decision. I have never been an impulsive individual who throws caution to the wind and follows her heart, although I often wish I was.

So what has to give before someone stops accepting a negative influence in their life?

When is the breaking point determined?

How unhappy in a job (or situation) does one have to be before they say enough is enough?

Obviously it varies by the person. I often worry that if I left a secure job that others would look down upon me for being a quitter or shake their head and say to themselves, Many people can’t even find a job and you quit a good one. How could you?

Yes, the need to please is still something that is very much ingrained in me, and is something I hear slowly dies as we mature into wise and experienced women. I am looking forward to that.

Have you ever been in a job or situation that you were unhappy with but felt that you couldn’t get out? What prompted you to stay and what prompted you to finally change your situation?

Being someone who is so concerned about well-being and health it still eludes me why I would put up with anything that clearly contradicts these goals.


Had major chills reading this.

Stay tuned for Part 5…


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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

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Allie October 1, 2009 at 9:47 pm

I love your story! I went through a similiar thing when I was job searching after graduating from college. I finally decided to forget about what others think because what makes me happy is what’s most important. Can’t wait to hear the rest!


Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness) October 1, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Great post! And what perfect timing! I just resigned from my super stable job with the federal government yesterday. I realized that my daily happiness is much more important than government benefits. Sometimes you just have to take a chance and follow your heart. :) I think it’s so cool that you have a bakery now! Amazing what can change in such a short period of time.


Mary October 2, 2009 at 1:58 am

Wow, beautiful and Prophetic too!! That was really cool to read that OLD post!! I am on the edge of my seat and just got up to get a handful of crackers and settle in to read the start of OSG when…another cliffhanger! It’s a sign of what a good writer you are that you leave me hangin!! I posted yesterday that I am struggling at work too and am posting in a while about my little scheme in following my dreams. This is an inspiration. A year is really so short and just look!! SO much happens. Thanks!!


Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) October 2, 2009 at 2:31 am

Wow- that’s huge. Look how far you’ve come.

I am a dentist. I practiced for 6 yrs. I didn’t like the stress but felt trapped as I had spent all that time and money and energy on schooling…plus what would my classmates think? I was 90+ pounds overweight and miserable. Finally I chucked it. I decided to do dental hygiene instead. I lost 95 pounds and it was the right choice. My classmates all said to me “wow, I wish I could do that!” and I said “YOU CAN!!”


Shannon October 2, 2009 at 6:35 am

This is such an inspiring story. You have so much to be proud of…mostly for being true to yourself. I left my job this year as well to go back to school. I want to pursue a passion, not settle on the safest thing. It’s amazing the difference a year makes!


Emmanuelle October 2, 2009 at 6:58 am

Wow what a great post!
I have been feeling the exact same way for a while now (and I can see from the comments that I am not the only one). To be honest I don’t hate my job, but I don’t love it either and this is definitely NOT what I can see myself doing for the next 30 years (depressing thought actually!).
I am trying to figure out what I really want to do, I have many ideas and I would love to combine everything but I don’t how to, and my brain is on the verge of collapsing from too much thinking!
It’s time I started acting and stop thinking!

Your story is truly inspiring, as well as Caitlin’s and Jenna’s, I hope one day I can also say “I made it!”

Thanks again!


Hangry Pants October 2, 2009 at 7:31 am

Angela, This post means a lot to me. I’ve been there too. I am not sure if you know that before I became a teacher I was a lawyer. I was completely miserable at a time when I should have bee happy – young, “good job,” apartment in NY, etc. It takes a lot of courage to quit something like you or I did, and even more courage to do what you did (teaching is much more … stable thant opening a bakery). Thank you for sharing. I think it’s so important for others to know they do not have to be miserable. People should love what they do. Everyone has something they can do that will make them happy.


Kasey (Fit For Wellness) October 2, 2009 at 9:29 am

I can totally relate to this post… about three years ago, I was in an unhappy relationship with a guy I had been with for 8 years and commuting 2 hours a day for a job that I was overworked… This went on for about a year until eventually I had enough… I broke up with my boyfriend, moved out of his condo, found an awesome job, and bought my own condo (all within about a month)… It was the best decision of my life… now I’m engaged to marry the love of my life who makes me happy everyday!


[email protected] October 2, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Thanks for sharing this. Like many others, I have felt the same lately. I was nodding along about the part where you started a blog and what it did for you mentally. I have such a passion for fitness and nutrition, so I started my own blog as sort of a niche to fulfill that passion. My current career has nothing to do with my hobby and I admire so much the courage it took for you and others who have done the same, to take that chance and finally be happy. I am not sure what the future holds for me right now, but in the meantime blogging and being a part of this community is keeping me going.


Mo October 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Thank you for sharing all of your stories with us. This series has been so amazing and inspiring. I feel like I am reading the greatest self-help book ever written! You are so inspiring! By the way, I am patiently waiting for the US shipping to start as I cannot wait to order all of your delicious Glo Bars!


Carey November 24, 2009 at 11:14 pm

So, I’ve been a food blog stalker for a couple of months now, but I don’t have the patience to write one of my own, nor do I usually comment…but I just want to say I know EXACTLY how you felt when writing this. I moved across the country for a “dream job” that I knew was all wrong for me about a month into it… I stuck it out for a horrible, miserable year… I cried all the time, had the worst break out of my life (I’m 25) and my family pretty much stopped calling me because I never had anything good to say.

I reached my breaking point this summer… I think I just woke up one day and said “What the hell am I doing to myself? No one should be this unhappy!” I went through all the same feelings….”people have a hard time finding work, and I want to give up a GOOD job?” “what if I can’t find another job?” I liked what I was doing, just not where I was doing it… Anyway, long story short, I quit and moved back across the country. I’m now working as a waitress in LA, living at a relatives house in a tiny bedroom, and I’m soooooooo much happier. Life is still full of uncertainties, but at least I feel like I’m working towards something and not just settling, because “that’s what you’re supposed to do.” Never settle. Thanks for posting/inspiring so many people. Oh, and thanks for the recipes/food porn too, I’m pretty much drooling on my keyboard.:)


Madeleine October 1, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Being a new blogger myself, your story serves as an absolute inspiration! Thank you for being so honest and open about your experiences… I’m so excited to be joining this community of strong, smart, introspective women. Gotta go now- PART 5 awaits! :)


Sarah November 5, 2010 at 3:02 pm

I quit my job yesterday because I knew I could not handle working under a supervisor who treated me so disrespectfully for much longer. It was only a part time job, and she was refusing to let me take Christmas vacation to spend with my family. As I sat there in our meeting, asking questions to try to understand her rationale, she began repeating my words back to me in a mocking voice. Then she asked me, “so what’s it going to be? are you going to go on vacation or keep your job?” I said, “I’m going to put my two weeks notice in” and wrote a resignation letter that I turned in last night. I feel a jumble of emotions; I feel like I’m letting myself down by quitting something because I am a people pleaser and I have never quit anything before, but at the same time I feel empowered because I am saying, “I deserve better” and refusing to work any longer in a toxic environment. I am now re-reading your quitting story and it is making me feel SO much better about my decision…thanks for being so honest about everything that you went through at your job and your quitting process.


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