It's been eight months since we've chatted. And sometimes, it feels like a lot longer, and other times, it feels like no time has passed at all. The truth is, I stopped writing to you not because I lost interest in my start up website, or company, but because I started working for another company, and had to focus on helping their business grow. You see, that's something that I've always been really good at. Helping other people. In every way, shape, and form. You name the capacity, I've helped someone in that situation. Friends, boyfriends, business owners, bosses, the stranger at the food store, the elderly lady crossing the road.
It's funny, because I've really been doing a lot of thinking the past few days and something dawned on me, that perhaps I never admitted to myself outloud (I usually don't have convos with myself outloud!), but it's something I've always known deep down in my core. It all started with this question...What is my purpose here? What am I meant to be doing in this lifetime? Well, as much as I adore dressing models and everyday women, I know that my truest calling is helping people in general, in every capacity. I have a knack for attracting anyone who warrants a little TLC. I truly feel that my purpose is to be the voice that so many people do not have. Now before you have all sorts of questions, here me out on this. I always seem to be put in situations where someone is unable to stick up for themselves, and that's where I jump in. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't in a fighting type way (most of the time lol), it's to help other people defend themselves when they can't find their voice. So as I sit here writing to you, I am still pondering my original question, what is my purpose? And while I realize that moving forward is the only option any of us have, I would be remiss to ignore the past that lead me...here.
Ever heard the term, “writer’s block?” Well that’s a real thing. And I’ve had it several times. In fact, I’ve had it for the past eight months. I wasn’t sure what to write about anymore. Everything seemed trivial in a time where there are SO many more important aspects of life than shoes, handbags, and mirror selfies. I took a break from social media, and my posts became fewer and far between. I honed in on what really matters to me. And when you strip away all the wonderful fashions, the glamour, and the oversized sunnies, what really matters to me is...enjoying the NOW. Being present. Being kind, always. Saying please and thank you, and letting someone go ahead of me in line. Putting my cart back where it belongs at the foodstore, instead of leaving it strewn along the parking lot for someone else to retrieve.
We live in a constant rat race. unless you’ve never left the tri-state area, you may not realize this, but, no one else seems to move at lightening speed the way we New Jersey, New York, and CT people do. Always in a hurry to get to the next thing. Always in need of the next Louie, Birkin, or Balenciaga. Constantly busy, because if you’re not always rushing from one thing to the other, you obviously aren’t productive, which means you’re lazy? Right? Couldn’t be more wrong! And if you didn’t take a pic somewhere, let alone post it on IG, you weren’t ever really there, were you? SMH
For lack of better words...I’ve become unimpressed with “stuff,” over it, onto the next chapter and stage in my life, where less is more (don’t get me wrong, my closets are still literally overflowing), but the need to constantly share every moment of my life has passed. Now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever felt that need. But the societal pressures put on social media these days, makes it hard to get away from the scrolling, liking, trolling, sharing, etc.
I never really sat with “it.” The happiness, the joy, the pain, the tears, the heartbreak, the change. I was always in the mindset of...you can’t stop now, you have to keep going.
I lived, breathed, and loved my job as the fashion editor and stylist for (201) Magazine for over 13 years. I literally grew up at North Jersey Media Group from the time I graduated college through my twenties and into my thirties. I thoroughly enjoyed growing in a company where colleagues felt like cherished friends, and some, like family. Photo shoots, pulling tons of merchandise from retailers all across Bergen County, monthly columns, covers, celebrity interviews, video shows, hosting gigs, attending lavish parties with The Who’s who etc. was second nature to me and my calling. I relished in it. All of it, while always staying true to myself. My job was not a job at all...it was my career, my life, my love, my passion, my identity.
After the Borg family sold the company, I knew nothing would ever be the same. My sense of normalcy shifted drastically as I watched my cherished friends/family (aka co-workers) get laid off like they meant nothing, when in fact, they meant everything to the (201) brand.
I literally felt like I was in an episode of The Twlight Zone as unfamiliar faces began replacing editors, writers, friends. The new company was telling us about Bergen County. I mean... Respectfully, I built my entire career in Bergen, not to mention lived my entire life (minus four years in college) in this county. It was surreal in the worst way possible...or so I thought.
Then d-day came. The day that would automatically plunge me forward into the next chapter of my life, with it without my approval, whether I was ready to say goodbye (or not), to over a decade of dedication, hard work, and one of my greatest loves. I received a phone call from one of our beloved editors, telling me that she was just laid off. As I tried to make sense of this information, something kept me from leaving my house to head into the office, where I would attempt “business as usual,” keep on a good face, be happy that I was one of the spared “lucky ones.” See, lay-offs had most certainly become the new normal, but it wasn’t until 15 minutes after that editor’s call, that I would realize just how familiar change would become.
My phone rang. It was a number that I didn’t recognize, but a pang inside my gut told me exactly who was waiting on the other end. And I was right. “Heather this is (name left unmentioned) here with (Human Resources)...” In a two minute phone call, my 13 year career at a place I cherished, was over. O V E R. THE END. And not in a happy fairy tale type of way. “We’re eliminating your position, but this has nothing to do with your work performance. You’re amazing...” Then something about severance, and the rest of the phone call was and still is a blur. “Do you have any questions?”
Yes...who the heck do you think are you and why have you pulled the plug on mine and my co workers lives?! (I didn’t say any of that by the way, but I’m sure the thoughts were running through my head at lightening speed).
All I remember saying was...”do you mind if I call you back about severance. I need a minute.”
The truth is, the moment the company was sold, that’s when my career ended. The “new normal” wasn’t normal at all. I longed for the days of yesterday’s past. I fought hard for my co workers (who have children and wives to support) to keep their jobs. Begged with my new “boss,” pleaded even. Life is funny like that. My co worker was spared, and to this day still employed. Isn’t ironic...don’t ya think?
Fast forward a month...when I found out the love of my life, Rocco, my 12 year old yorkie, was terminally ill with renal failure.
In that moment, I realized that being laid off was a gift. The greatest gift that allowed me to have irreplaceable time with my sick pup. Vet visits, round the clock care, worry, sadness, strength (for Roc), etc became my new normal. It became strictly a matter of Rocco’s life, (and ultimately, his death).
Meanwhile, I received countless calls offering me opportunities I never gave much thought to...some which sound like a dream. But it wasn’t the right time. And as I’ve realized more and more with age and life experiences, timing is everything.
But, something inside me said not to give up. While it may not be the right time to work for someone else, it was exactly the time to work for myself.
I knew I had to put my creativity and passion and all the hard work I possess into my next passion project. It was then (a month after being laid off), that the idea for The Bergen County Bible was born.
I taught myself how to build a website, created numerous stories, sought help from my old colleagues to be part of my passion project, and forged ahead. And just four short months later on February 22, 2018, The Bergen County Bible, when from an idea, to a reality.
It took me a while to allow myself the gift to grieve after Rocco passed away. And still, I hold in A LOT of emotions surrounding the months of his sickness, and death. I find myself welling up with tears, and immediately (as if it’s an instinctive reaction), fan my eyes with my hands and direct my attention to the next thing. Always the next thing...
Until one day, I just stopped. I stopped rushing. Stopped posting. Stopped writing. And started living...in the moment. Feeling...really allowing myself to feel, the sun on my skin, the breeze in my hair, the sheer amazement I feel when I look up at the dark night sky splattered with glistening stars. “There’s the Little Dipper,” you can always here me saying, or “did you see the sunset?” Or “how amazing did the moon look last night?” My phone is filled with more fascinating colorful sunsets and ocean pics these days than #ootd and #zwaining photos ready to hit my newsfeed.
The feeling I’m feeling is almost too indescribable to put into words, so that’s honestly most of the reason as to why I haven’t. Also, because I didn’t really feel a need to. I’ve just been, living. Just being me. Seeing what it feels like to slow down and to breathe life in. All of it. Even if that means to feel disconnected, in this world where technically is king and we are more connected than ever, yet if you really think about it, less engaged than ever before.
Now, I (out of habit) check my IG and FB periodically throughout the day, but I’m never quite sure what I’m on there for. So as quickly as I hit the icon on my phone, I shut it down. And occasionally, when the mood hits me, I throw on a pair of oversized sunnies, usually my favorite Tom Fords or my mirrored blue Quays, plant myself in front of my standing mirror, and click away.