In a solo episode, Stephanie reflects on her 30s and how the Ick, that feeling of things not being right, presented in her life.

Reflections: my 30s and the Ick

I’ve been talking a lot about the Ick that people feel in their 30s or 40s and recently started reflecting on my 30s and how the Ick presented to me. I took a page out of my previous guest Melissa’s book and mapped out the decade’s highlights so I could see a clearer picture. Listen to Melissa Llarena’s episode here.

My own Ick mostly showed up in my romantic relationships and at work (isn’t that enough? 🤦🏻‍♀️). I kept investing in romantic relationships that weren’t working. And while my career looked like it was going well from the outside, I couldn’t find the job or company or environment that really suited me and allowed me to be successful. So I created it myself. 

Listen to this episode to hear about the Home for Wayward 30-Somethings and what blew my mind in my first visit with a psychic.


The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications

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Hello and welcome to the 40 Drinks Podcast. I'm Stephanie. Thanks for being here with me.

I mentioned in the first episode of this season that I wanted to try to do more solo episodes. So I'm really happy to be here today. And in my mind, I'm thinking of these solo episodes as sort of a bonus, like happy hour with you.

So to that end, I have a very fancy drink with me today. I have a Mango Limeade seltzer, and uh, I'm looking forward to, digging in with you.

I've been talking and thinking about what I keep calling the Ick quite a bit lately, and today as I laid on the acupuncture table and got my stabbies and jabbies, I started to reflect on my thirties and my own Ick. For me, I think the Ick showed up mostly in my romantic life and in my work life. Um, I had a string of, a string is probably even minimizing it a little bit.

I had a very long streak of bad boyfriends and a bunch of jobs that, while impressive by their job titles and sort of, you know, what they were and where they were, were not really good fits for me. So, as I put together my thoughts for this episode, I ended up taking a page out of Melissa Llarena's book.

I spoke with Melissa in episode nine, and she told me about this thing that she does at big milestone birthdays with Post-It notes to visualize big events in her life and to sort of put things in context. If you haven't listened to that episode yet, I will put the link in the show notes so you can grab it easily.

Um, I used a spreadsheet, but the exercise was the same. I sort of mapped out my thirties and then stood back to take a look at the picture.

I moved home when I was 30. I had lived in Boston almost 12 years, um, almost to the day actually. And home is about an hour north of Boston. And when my mom and I drove out of Boston on September 8th, 2001, it was a Saturday and there were people moving in at Northeastern University as we drove out of town, and if those were the freshmen, then it had been 12 years since I had moved into those dorms myself.

At the time I was living in Boston, but I was working in a seaside town about an hour northeast, and home was an hour sort of straight north. I was spending a lot of time with friends up in Manchester where I'm from because most of the friends who had stayed in Boston after college had finally grown up and gotten married and moved to the suburbs.

So a lot of my life had sort of moved outside of the city, and I was coming home many weekends to socialize. And so I started thinking that maybe it was time to move out of the city. I wasn't using the city quite as much as I had in the past, and while I still had, a couple of great friends in Boston, it just wasn't feeling like a fit for me anymore.

So, At the time, I, I didn't really know where to go. I didn't know if I was gonna move up to Portsmouth, where one of my brothers lived and some friends lived, or if I was gonna move home, or I didn't know what I was gonna do. So I, I just threw everything up in the air and said, I'm just gonna move home and see where the dust settles.

And when I say home, I actually mean moved home, as in back with my parents. This was supposed to be a short-term thing, just to see where the dust settled and where I actually decided I wanted to be. But three days after I moved home was 9/11, and I was glad to be outside of the big city at that time, but then that meant that this turned into a longer stop than I had initially anticipated, and I ended up living at home for five years.

In 2001 I was working for a small ad agency outside of Boston, and after 9/11,, by October they had cut our pay. By November they had cut our hours, and in December I got laid off. And as the owner of a small business, and having recently made it through the pandemic, I truly have a sense of what my boss went through at that point in time. Um, but after I got laid off, I was again glad to be home in New Hampshire. Not only not to be living in a big city post nine 11, but also not to be paying big city rent after getting laid off. And that led to a period of, uh, freelance work doing some PR and some project work where I could find it. And things I, I found through friends or relatives. One of the cool jobs I did during that period of time was doing PR for an offshore powerboat racing team. A friend of mine, one of his childhood friends, built engines for a team, and they were gonna be in Cape Cod. And so my friend said, Hey, let's go see this race.

And so we jumped on the car, drove a couple hours down to the Cape and went to meet his friend. And I just ended up chatting with the man who owned the team and said, you know, what do you do for pr? And he kind of went, what do you mean? And I talked to him about, you know, the kinds of things that I could see even just having been there for just an afternoon and, and he said, whoa, I like it.

I ended up for,six or seven months, traveling with them to a couple of different, race events and, and doing PR for them, which was really just one of the most fun things I've ever done. And at one of those events, I, met a guy who, ended up being my boyfriend. we met in, at an event in Ohio.

He was an Ohio guy and we started dating long distance. And you know, if I'm honest with myself, there were some red flags pretty early on that I ignored. within about a year of meeting him and starting dating, I got a job as the editor of the statewide business magazine and within about six months got promoted to associate publisher.

So this is one of those jobs that, was actually quite impressive and,a really big public, wonderful job. Um, I started meeting young professionals in my community. I started making some friends, on the professional side at home. And, within a couple of years, my parents' house became known as the Home for Wayward 30-Somethings.

And, we had a lot of fun. We would throw parties out on the front porch of my parents' big Victorian home. The house was walking distance from lots of things. I had a couple of friends who lived within a couple of blocks. We could walk to the downtown bars, we could walk to restaurants and events.

It was just, it was really a fun, fun time. That job lasted about two years. I left when I was, I think 33, and I left to do something adventurous and terrifying that ultimately didn't work out, and maybe I'll talk about at some point in the future. A few months after that, I was recruited by a friend from high school to a position at a local law firm that seems to be my dream job. I, by the description of the job and, and what it was going to entail, I, I thought I'd be there for like 15 years or more.

Instead, less than two years later, I left that job and not of my own choosing. I think I've talked about that before. I think I was 35 at the time, and please know that this was, really pretty early in the era where jumping from job to job was acceptable and not really thought of as a red flag.

Before, this time, it really was, not widely accepted that you could jump from job to job to job. If, if you, if you stayed anywhere, you know, less than about five years early on in your career you were,you were sort of seen as suspect. So after I left that job, there was a career coach I knew who sat me down one day. She said, it's time. We are going to work together and you are going to find the money and this is just what's gonna happen. Six months after that, I finally sent that boyfriend packing back to the Midwest. In fact, I actually just gave him a car and said, just go, go. Just leave. And shortly after that, I officially started my marketing business, which is 16 years old this year.

And which has been the best fit for me since my first job post-college when I worked for the mayor of Boston for five years, the much beloved and, dearly departed Tom Menino.

And then sometime in my mid thirties, I don't know, I was 33 or 34, 35. My friend and chiropractor and my personal angel Robin introduced me to her dear friend and psychic Bill Burns.

Now, she had been talking to me about things of a spiritual nature for years, and the first time I think I recall it, I was like 27. And pretty much every time she would bring something that I thought was kind of out there up to me, I would answer her by rolling my eyes. But one day, right in this period of time, she told me that it was time that I was going to see Bill, and that she was actually gonna sponsor the reading, so that I couldn't claim that it was too expensive.

And it's funny when I,was working in this spreadsheet and dissecting my life in, in this decade and putting things together, I realized that both Robin and Sheila told me it was time and demanded I do something different than I had done before. and in both cases, those required activities changed my life.

The meeting with Bill Burns was my first introduction to the spiritual world and really opened the door to my personal spiritual awakening and the path that I've been exploring ever since my first session with him.

Interestingly, I did two interviews recently for some upcoming episodes where people told me their turning point was opening up to their spiritual side as well, or, having a spiritual awakening.

One of these women was a professional engineer who felt like a shell of a person after pursuing the career her parents told her she should for 15 years, and then she was forced to do something different. So keep an eye out in the coming weeks for both, Tara and Carrie to hear more on this concept of spirituality and spiritual awakenings.

Through the years I knew him, Bill was,a friend. He was a personal and professional advisor. He was occasionally a client and certainly a confidant. And he was also drink number three of my 40 Drinks Project. Unfortunately, Bill died in 2018. Uh, but looking back at the blog post I wrote, ever after having the drink with him, this is what I wrote:

Five years ago, I was in a bad place. I hated my job. I was in a bad relationship that had gone on for too long. I wasn't happy with much of anything, and I had been having panic attacks every night before I fell asleep for more than six months. From the outside, it may have looked different.

It was a great professional job and a great step for my career. I had a longtime boyfriend who had moved from the Midwest to be with me and did truly adore me. I was deeply involved in the local business and nonprofit community, but man was I miserable and I had no idea how to get out of the place I was in.

I remember telling a massage therapist that each night when I climbed into bed, I would get short of breath. My heart would race, and I would feel creepy crawlies up and down my legs until I would want to thrash hard enough to get the sensation to stop. She was the one who had to tell me that these were panic attacks. I had no idea.

So I guess I was feeling pretty icky in my mid thirties. It's, um, it's nice to have that time capsule to reflect back on, and really sort of get a sense of, of what I was thinking back then.

I do remember feeling frustrated and if I'm being honest, probably a little ashamed at not being able to get things right.

My parents had been married for like 30 something years at the time. Both my younger brothers were married and having kids, and most people I knew were keeping jobs for more than two years at a time. I was working very hard to be normal and normal was just not working out for me. And so I needed to find another way.

And, Bill Burns came along at just the right time to knock down that door. A reading with Bill was one of life's more interesting experiences. When I first walked through the door that first time, I wasn't sure I believed in psychics or any of that stuff.

When you sat down with Bill though, he just started talking and what he said were things that were surprising, in that I never would've vocalized them. They either sounded too crazy or almost arrogant, or like things that you just don't say out loud, or maybe even things I wouldn't have been able to put to words. But they weren't surprising because when he said them, at some level, I already knew them because it's what was inside of me and, and actually always had been.

I went back and reread the transcription of our first session together and was reminded of some of the things he said to me that were so amazing and honestly life changing for me. This was part of the transcript. He said,

I. You're really a Victorian romantic and you're a little girl and you're fascinated and you're curious and very spontaneous and have trouble watching your tongue. And there is this little girl that believes in magic and that believes in miracles and who hasn't really grown up.

And those listeners who know me probably hear some of those things and think they make sense, but for me, at that time, it was as good as being struck by lightning. I'm not sure I ever knew that it was acceptable to even be those things after like the age of seven.

And now listen, things didn't just get easy all of a sudden in my late thirties. I had a couple more bad romantic relationships and sort of relationships, and another one that I pretty much fully fabricated in my brain. And starting a business is not easy. There's a lot of pressure and a lot of fear, despite any external or circumstantial evidence that it's going well.

And at the time I was still doing a lot of comparing to things outside myself and finding myself coming up short or thinking I was doing things wrong, especially with my business. There were a couple other people I knew in the business community who had marketing agencies that were several years older than mine Those agencies were, evolving differently than mine was. They were evolving faster and in different directions, and frankly, directions that didn't really interest me, but I found myself comparing my insides to their outsides, and it just didn't make any sense. Or was I comparing my outsides to their outsides? I don't know. It, it just didn't make any sense. But I still felt like I was doing something wrong. Like I was supposed to grow a marketing business the way they were doing it. And of course, that's not having any access to those people's insides and why they were doing what they were doing and how that was feeding them.

And if I think back, on those early years, there truly is not enough work to keep you going full-time. And yet I chained myself to my desk and I beat myself up and I made myself work really hard. And yeah, building a business is hard and there is hard work involved and there's, business development and all of those things, but.

Man, looking back, I really wish I was kinder to myself and had given myself some room to play during that downtime when there really wasn't much to do. But that's all right. And listen, by the time I got to 40, I was still making bad decisions about my romantic relationships, but that's when I finally realized I wasn't on the right track, and I acknowledged that I wanted to change that.

And it was during my 40 Drinks Project that I acknowledged that I deserved better than I was getting from the men that I had invited into my life. And frankly, I think it was the consistent interaction with people who knew and liked me and saw me in ways I didn't see myself that gave me the oomph to start making those changes. And it took a few more years for things to smooth out for me.

Even though I had met Patrick, it still took us some time to get to a place where we weren't both reacting to the ghosts of boyfriends and girlfriends past, and where we both found comfort and trust in the relationship, but we got there.

And the business. Oh my gosh. It is exactly what I want. I work with people I love. I have clients that I love, and I've managed to create a life that works for me. And let me give you just one small and silly example. I think I've said this before, but I am unapologetic about the fact that I am not a morning person. Never have been, not even as a toddler. Always a night owl.My mother couldn't get me to stay in bed at night. I always wanted to be up with the adults and involved in with whatever was going on at night.

Today I'm solidly an 11 to seven girl. Just don't look for me before 11:00 AM. You won't find me. Recently my brother called me at like 8:45 AM and I was still in bed and still kind of waking up and he got all sarcastic with me saying that he figured by 8 45 he was sure I'd be awake and, most days I am. But that day I had gotten a bad night's sleep and my fatigue was requiring a slower on-ramp to the day. And the way that I've built my life, my days allow for that. But on the other hand, I was at my desk until eight o'clock last night because I was working on something. That's just what suits me.

It's funny, as I think about my story and think about some of the conversations I've had for this podcast, I think, at least I didn't have to burn my life down to the ground and start over like some of the people I've talked to. But, in fact, almost everything in my life was different in my forties than it was in my thirties. Other than where I lived, pretty much everything was different and better. And much less icky.

All right, one last thing before I leave you today. I created a two page guide that can help you figure out whether you or someone you love is dealing with the Ick. The guide outlines the symptoms and red flags of the Ick, and you can get it on my website, 40 Spell out the word 40, so that's 40

Thanks so much for listening today. If anything I've shared today brings up anything for you, I'd be really interested to hear from you. Until next time, cheers.

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