Hey Lola and The No Good Terrible Very Bad Year

2014 was a great year!

Scratch that. 2014 was supposed to be a great year. I had been part of a dedicated group of community activists who had made great strides in making positive changes within their community, and we had great things to show for it.

I should have been celebrating. I should have been working towards more great things. I should have been happy and excited and proud.

Instead, I found myself sitting on a couch in my new therapist's office, clutching a wadded up tissue, tears streaming down my face, wondering what the hell went wrong.

Apparently, when you are a part of something great, you become a public figure. Some people might consider you a leader.

Leaders and public figures are targets.

It was never my intention to be a leader or a public figure. I just wanted to put something good out into the world. I wanted to work with other people who wanted to put something good out into the world. And I wanted to do it honestly and with integrity and with respect to those around me.

I really don't know how I'm supposed to act as a public figure. Apparently I'm not good at it.

Early in 2014, I had an interaction with a local business owner that gave me pause. This person had not treated me well and as a result, I did not feel that I could continue having a friendship with them. I told them as much. That we could still work together for the greater good of the community and that maybe someday we could repair our friendship, but at the moment, I did not appreciate the way I was being treated and was going to put some distance between us.

It seemed simple enough. Lots of friendships dissolve, people disagree and people move on. Don't they?

Except when they don't. What I thought was a simple dissolution of friendship was the start of a year long (and still going) attack on my reputation, my character and my business. At first, I laughed it off. How bad could it possibly get?

As it turns out, well respected business people with families and normal lives can actually engage in some pretty horrible behavior.

It seems strange for someone who watches "The Real Housewives" pretty regularly to say, but... I was genuinely surprised. I grew up around bad people - addicts, alcoholics, felons, criminals, etc. I KNEW what bad people looked like. Growing up, I looked to the people who wore nice clothes, drove nice cars, went to church, had 9-5 jobs and thought, "Those people must be good. They have their shit together. Those are the kind of people I want to be like."

Fast forward to 2014 and I feel like a complete idiot. I feel like I just found out that Santa Claus isn't real. "Upstanding citizens" can do terrible things. Wolves in sheep's clothing and all of the other cliches that you can come up with...



painting by Jessica McGhee



 It's been little over a year now and it is safe to say that if anyone in this little city that I live in gets in trouble with the city for anything at all, someone will point to me as the cause.

Get in trouble with the health department? I probably turned you in. Problems with the liquor commission? It must be something I said. Code enforcement come after you for anything? It was most definitely me that called. Is your business not zoned properly? You should definitely let everyone know that I turned you in.

That probably doesn't seem like such a big deal until you factor in that the city operates lots of different departments, those departments field lots of complaints, and as a result, lots of businesses are going to get notifications. So imagine that for 13 months, on a regular basis, you are hearing about someone new that got in trouble for something, and that they were told that it was you. Imagine that you address this as soon as you hear about it, and that most people REFUSE to talk to you about it. They just level the accusation to anyone who will listen, and run away...

...like cowards.


The thing is, rumors are funny (just kidding. so not funny.). Once a couple get out there (courtesy of my old friend), it's really easy to pile on more. Pretty soon, there are a lot of people who are sure you're terrible. That you're petty and jealous and trying to get businesses closed and get people shut down and stealing money and whatever else it is that terrible people do. Even if they've never met you. Even if they had met you, and you had really tried to help them succeed in the past. Even if you genuinely want everyone to succeed. They just know, because someone told someone who told them and also, assumptions and coincidences and she's difficult and bossy and a know it all and other things.

I couldn't defend myself. I hadn't done what I was being accused of, but it didn't matter. You can't prove a negative. I lost friends. I lost business. I lost weight. I had anxiety. I tried to stay true to who I was, but instead, I fell into a deep depression. My therapist and my doctor suggested Prozac, just to get me through this and back on my feet.

I suffered horrible side effects from the medication. I became even more anxious. Paranoid. I couldn't work. I couldn't leave my house. I spent the first few hours of every morning trying to come up with reasons NOT to kill myself.

painting by Jessica McGhee




If this wouldn't have happened to me, I would not believe it was true. I would not believe that respected members of a business community that I admired so much could so quickly and easily seek to destroy someone, just because they didn't agree. It felt - feels - like junior high. Like something you read about, but that doesn't really happen in real life - not with grown- ups. And it's ongoing. Every time I think it's over, something else comes up. A few weeks ago, some business owners got zoning violation notices ...they all let me know in one way or another that they either thought it was me that turned them in, or that someone had told them it was me. I now have a social media block list that's a mile long, just so I can avoid the cruel comments, the passive aggressive attacks on my business and/or character, and the speculation about all of the horrible things people are so convinced that I did.


Some friends have stood by me. Many have conveniently become "busy." More often than not, people don't want to get involved. Most people think I should just try and blow it off. But see....like everyone else in the world, I have a childhood, and our childhoods shape us in so many ways...


painting by Jessica McGhee


When I was about 8 years old, my mom and my stepdad rented a Friday the 13th movie. We were getting ready to move, so our house was mostly empty, save for some bedroom furniture. We all snuggled into their bed together and watched it. When it was over, my stepdad said he heard the cat meowing outside and told me to go let her in. I walked into our empty living room, stood there and stared at the large plate glass window, with only darkness on the other side...and was sure that Mrs. Voorhees was going to come through it at any second to kill me. I stood paralyzed, rooted to the ground and began crying. From the other room, my mother and stepfather made fun of me. For being weak. For being stupid. For not being brave. And they laughed so much. Because they had sent me out there on purpose. Because it's hilarious to terrify your 8 year old daughter, and then make fun of her for her fear.

There was a lot of awful in my house growing up, but I think that that event, probably more than any other, is the best example of how my childhood shaped the best and worst parts of me. My parents let me know at a very early age that I would never be good enough, so I have spent my entire life trying to be good enough. My parents let me know at a very early age that fear was something to be mocked, so I try very hard to hide my fear, until I can conquer it into non-existence. My parents let me know at a very early age what it felt like to feel alone in the midst of people, unloved, and to want to die, so I try very hard to love people and to let them know that they are not alone, and that the world needs them.

Up until recently, trying to be good enough, just meant trying to be the best person that I could. Facing my fears was terrifying, but do-able, and worth the effort. Loving people and seeing the best in them felt good.

And now it feels awful. I am terrified of people. I don't know what good looks like. I will never be good enough. I am not worth defending. There is no one who will stand beside me when the world turns ugly.

I am alone.

I am alone, and the world does not need me, and I don't want to be here anymore. I am 8 years old all over again.

This is my current battle. A fear of people that is so strong that when I am around them, I find myself clawing at my own skin, as though I might be able to rip open a seam and hide inside of myself, so that I can still do what I need to do, but no one will be able to see me.

I force myself to get out of bed every day. This is new. For two months, I would not get out of bed except to go to work. If I did go to work, I would leave after a couple of hours. People are terrifying.

I cry when people are kind to me, because I'm so grateful for it, but at the same time, I don't trust it.

I cry because I still want to love people, but I am so very, very afraid of what they can do.

I do not know who to trust. I do not know who is saying things about me. I don't know who hears what is being said. I do not know who believes it, or who will level the next accusation at me. I do not know how much more business we will lose because people believe that I am terrible. I do not know how much more business we will lose because I am so horribly awkward around people now, in a business that demands that I be social.

I am re-wiring myself. I have not lost the part of myself that will fight my fears. I will fight this. I will stay here. I will remind myself that I am indeed loved. I will find my tribe. I will find a way to love people again, and to find those I can trust and stand beside, and those who will stand beside me. But it's a battle, and everyday is different. I can write this today, because today is a good day. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I will face it when I get there.

painting by Jessica McGhee


Because of this experience, everything about my life is changing. And because everything about my life is changing, Hey Lola will change. It's hard to talk about how great it is to find a $5.00 jacket at the thrift store when you can't even find the courage to walk into the thrift store. And you no longer have the extra $5.00 to spend.

So this is my new journey...to let go of the person I was, and to try and find the person I will be. And if you want to come along, and you promise to be kind, I would be grateful for the company.






How To Make a Vision Board, Part II

Today's blog post is once again brought to you by my favorite magical intern, Mariah:


How To Make a Vision Board Part II: Mariah’s Vision Board


If you’re wondering why it took me so long to post part II of the vision board blog, I am a senior in college and my crazy, hectic school semester has finally calmed down and has officially wrapped up. All of my final exams, papers, and projects are turned in and complete. I am finally free! …for now.





My vision board was inspired by my mantra: “Health, Wealth, Love & Perfect Self Expression.” I have no idea where the mantra originated, but my favorite “follow” on Twitter, @ShanaBeaa tweets the mantra almost every morning and I’ve grown to love it and recognize that health, wealth, love & perfect self-expression are things I want in life.

I prefer reading strong phrases and statements to looking at pictures so my board is full of words. Words like strong, work, sexy, sweat, summer, self, are all words that kind of stand out to me as key words. I want to be strong and sexy for the summer time so I have to remember to work and SWEAT to reach those goals.




Health: My weight loss journey began June 2013 and I have lost 129 lbs since. I have definitely hit a plateau and have been stuck at the same weight for I don’t know how long. When I look at my board every morning, it will be a reminder to stay strong and remember that it took years to pack on the pounds so it will take time to shed them.




Wealth: $ave, $$ave, $$$ave!! What more can I say? Besides wanting to save money, I have to remind myself that I have to WORK to get the money. “Good things come to those who work.” I love the picture I found of the empire state building with the words “I finally earned enough miles to fly to NYC.” The picture is perfect for my board because for spring break 2015, I want to have enough money saved to take a trip to NY.




Love & Perfect Self Expression: Getting dressed and ready at the start of every day is a perfect way to express myself. Besides dressing to express myself, it is important to look presentable throughout the day everyday. Making you look and feel good is an act of love and appreciation for you. Sometimes, I let the fact that I am in college get in the way of me dressing well like I know how. The women on my board along with the words “Personal Style” are reminders to make the effort when getting dressed in the mornings. Besides expressing myself through dress, on my board I have the words “ladies night” and “anything could happen.” Those two phrases are reminders to just have fun! Have fun and put myself out there because I never know what could happen.

My vision board is placed where I can see it every morning to start my day and every night to remind me before bed. My board is hanging on the wall next to my bed.

If you have a vision board, share with me your boards, ladies! 

Europe for dummies...I mean for me.

Before I left for Europe, I made a list of the ten things that I thought might be important regarding my trip. Here's how that worked out for me:

1.) I called my cell phone carrier and made sure my phone would work in Europe, had them activate it for international calling, bought a 10 day package to make international calls, and learned how to shut off international data roaming.

This was a good idea. I only wish that the instructions for enabling the international calls had been a little more thorough. I couldn't make calls for the first 3 days, because I couldn't figure out how to, and I had no way of calling anyone to ask. I ended up using Skype whenever I had access to wi-fi to call my husband...and my dogs. 


This picture is here because it's cool. It doesn't have anything to do with this blog post, except I took it in Europe and there should be a picture here to break up all of these words and stuff.


2.) I exchanged my money here. Everyone told me to wait until I got to Europe, but here's the thing: I don't know what I'm getting into over there. I don't speak the language, I don't know where ATMs are, I don't want to spend valuable super-fun-Europe-time hunting down cash machines...I just want to get there and go. So I exchanged my money here. 

This was also a good idea. There were exchanges everywhere and I couldn't tell which ones were legit, and which ones weren't and nearly every one that I saw seemed to charge a pretty high percentage to exchange money.

3.) I put travel notices on all of my credit cards, so they wouldn't think my overseas purchases were fraudulent. 

This is a must, but I still ended up with a fraud alert and a freeze on my credit card when I used an ATM a few cities away from one of my planned destinations...when I was lost...in the Czech Republic...with no money (can't use Euros in the Czech Republic)...in a train station in the middle of nowhere...speaking English...in a city where no one understood anything I said...and my phrase book didn't cover Czech.  By the way, 2,000 Czech koruna is equal to around $9.00 US and it will cost you $10.00 to withdraw that amount, and then you can use that money to buy a weird boiled egg sandwich. In case you were wondering.

4.) I booked hostels in different cities for our entire vacation, based entirely on reviews, and no real knowledge of the cities we're visiting. Adventure, you guys!

The Meininger Hostel/Hotel in Brussels. It was beautiful.


Again, this worked out really, really well. Every hostel we stayed in was a winner. I do wish I would have done a little more research into the destinations. 

5.) I declined every offer of assistance getting around Europe. I appreciate that someone has an aunt in Brussels that would be willing to show me around, but I'm just not that keen on being on someone else's schedule. Like the whole ATM thing, I just want to get there and go, but at my own pace.

We ended up having a tour guide for one day in Prague, and it was pretty great. I still liked the days without a guide, but we lucked out in having someone show us around who was really personable and easy to get along with.


Thanksgiving in Prague, with our new friend Marketa! In Prague, Thanksgiving is known as...Thursday.



6.) I have a European phrasebook. I can't pronounce anything except "Ich Bien Ein Auslander" which means "I am a foreigner." I didn't learn this from my phrasebook. I learned this back in my days as a cage dancer in an industrial club...true story. It's a song and it's the only German I know, and I just keep saying it over and over again.

The European phrasebook was pretty useless. Mostly because it's really hard to memorize 4 languages in 10 days, and pointing at things works better than frantically trying to find how to say what you want in a book. However, I'd still take it again. Just in case.

7.) I printed out all of my emergency contact information for my husband and my traveling companions, clearly marked it "EMERGENCY CONTACTS" and put copies of it everywhere. If I fall into a canal, somebody will know who to call. Unless the paper gets wet. In which case, I hope the water isn't too deep. Or infested with sharks. And alligators.

I didn't die or get Taken or anything, so I don't know if this was a good idea. I assume it was. My husband wanted me to get Taken so that when the Taken-ers called him, he could tell them he had "a very particular set of skills" which is true - he does...except if I get taken I don't think being really good at restoring antique fans or photographing owls is going to save me. I mean...I don't think so. Maybe. Probably not.




8.) We're staying in hostels, so I brought an extra blanket and some toilet paper. I mean...I've never stayed in a hostel before, and I don't like to be cold and toilet paper...well...I'm probably going to pee at some point.

The blanket was a good call - one of our rooms was really cold. Everywhere we went had toilet paper, so that was unnecessary.

9.) I pre-posted scheduled facebook/twitter/blog posts for every business that I own and/or manage social media accounts for. Vacation should not mean disappearing. If all goes well, no one should even notice I'm gone. I mean...except for the fact that I just told you I'm not here. I mean, I'm here, I wrote this here, today, but when you see it, today will be yesterday and I'll be over there instead of here. Obviously.

This was also a good idea and ended up working perfectly. I was ahead while I was gone. Now that I'm back, I'm behind. Basically, I should plan like I'm going on vacation all of the time.

10.) I bailed out of everything I'm supposed to do the day I come back. I hope I don't have jet lag, but if I do, I want to be prepared. 

I have hardcore jet lag. I didn't even realize what jet lag was until I had it, and just so you know, it sucks. My sleep schedule is ten different kinds of screwed up, and I can't seem to get it back in order.

Oh, hey, look, it's 4 am and I'm wide awake but exhausted, again, because jet lag.




When I go to Europe again - because I'm absolutely going again - here's what I'm going to do differently:

1.) Pack less. You just don't need that much stuff and it's a giant pain in the ass to cart around a gigantic suitcase. No blowdryer, no extra shoes, no dresses, smaller blanket.

2.) Research the food. I wanted to try regional food, but I had no idea what I was ordering, ever, and a couple of times that really went bad for me.

I ordered goulash and dumplings, you guys! Guess what? I hate goulash and dumplings!

3.) Duolingo - Knowing even ten phrases would have been helpful

4.) More time in each city. We did a new city every other day, which meant that we were on trains quite a bit and were very tired and sore when we arrived to our next destination.

5.) Sign up for street art/urban garden tours. The street art was amazing and there are tons of options for alternative tours throughout Europe. I found a bunch on my own - I would have loved to have seen more.





6.) Dramamine. Turns out I get train sick.

7.) Stay longer. 10 days was great, but if I could ever work it out, I'd like to do 15 - 30 days.

8.) Go in warmer weather. I didn't mind the cold too much at first, but when everything you want to see is outside, it can be a little brutal after several hours.

No big deal. Just freezing in Berlin.


9.) Look into the history of the cities I'm visiting. The Charles Bridge was amazing...but I still don't know anything about it, other than the fact that it's beautiful.

The upside to being wide awake at 4 am, is that you get the Charles Bridge pretty much to yourself.

10.) Buy a weird German sweater. Seriously. I saw about 10 that I wanted. I don't know why I didn't get one. They were so weirdly amazing.

In the absence of a weird German sweater, I would totally take this skyscraper sloth sweatshirt. For Christmas. Do you need my address? I'm a medium.


Coming up next  - a city by city breakdown...the cost, the food, lodging, the best parts, the worst parts and the weird parts...

How to Create Your Own Vision Board: Part 1


Jessica is off on a European adventure, so today's post is brought to you by Hey Lola intern, Mariah!





So I bought a white board about a month (or so) ago with the purpose to create a vision board. Mind you, I have never made a vision board before but it seems to be a fun project, plus the purpose of a vision board is pretty legit. I even have my board theme already: a mantra, “Health, Wealth, Love, & Perfect Self Expression.” Cute, right? So why the heck is it taking me so long to make this freaking board!? Turns out I actually have no idea what I’m doing! So I did my research.



(image source here)

·         What is a vision board? A vision board is a poster board filled with pictures, quotes, anything really that will inspire you to do better. Most folks use a vision board as a visual map-out of their life goals. The point of the vision board is to ultimately achieve the goals you posted on your board.

·         STEP 1: PLAN

o   Write down your vision – in the words of Erykah Badu, “Write it down on real paper with a real pencil. And watch shit get real.”
o   Believe in your vision – sit down and honestly ask yourself what it is you want and what you CAN do to get there. With that being said,
o   Make specific, attainable goals – Use pictures to portray your specific goals. My goal is to limit my sugar intake. I’ll probably use a picture of a soda pop can with a red X through it on my board as a reminder to cut down my sugar intake by not drinking pop.


(image source unknown)


·         STEP 2: Get the Right Materials, for example:

o   A pile of magazines
o   Scissors
o   A stick of glue (or tape.. or rubber cement…. Something sticky)
o   Markers
o   Glitter, stickers, fabric - anything that will make your vision board attention grabbing 


(image source unknown)

·         STEP 3: Create your board, aka the fun part!

o   Use effective images – it’s easy to take a pretty picture. Choose pictures that speak to you. I chose Oprah because to me she represents a woman who came from nothing and turned nothing into everything.
o   Write out captions as reminders of what the pictures mean to you.

·         STEP 4: Place the board where you can see it everyday.

o   Because what’s the point of having a vision board that you can’t see…? (there’s a pun somewhere in there).


OK - So now I have a better idea of how to make my vision board. My goal now is to have my new (gold) board filled the next time you hear from me. This should be interesting. **cues cheering children**


In the meantime, check out popular YouTuber Tyler Oakley’s video where he explains his own vision board! 


Tyler Oakley's overall vision board theme is similar to the board I want to make.

Until I come back with a finished product, check out a couple of vision board inspiration sites that I found while doing my own research. Vision board site # 1 is here and vision board site #2 is here.





How to go to Europe: A list of stuff by someone who doesn't know anything about Europe


I'm going to Europe! This trip was really spur of the moment, I literally scraped pennies together pay for everything (seriously - I almost broke the change machine at the bank), I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm going to Europe! I've wanted to do this my entire life, but there's never been enough money, and I'm really busy, and I have obligations, and blah blah blah...

It dawned on me about 6 months ago that none of that is probably going to change very soon (if ever), so I can either keep talking about how I'm going to go to Europe someday, or I can eat Ramen for a while and go to Europe today.

So I'm going to Europe.

I made a list a mile long of what I need to do, with these ten items seeming to be the most important:

1.) I called my cell phone carrier and made sure my phone would work in Europe, had them activate it for international calling, bought a 10 day package to make international calls, and learned how to shut off international data roaming. Apparently data roaming in other countries can get expensive. I did the math on what it would cost me if I went over my allotted international limit, using the amount of data I normally use in America. $20,000. I'm not even kidding.

TWENTY GRAND. 

Do you have any idea how much cake you could buy with that?


Apparently this cake was twenty grand. Because Kim Kardashian.


2.) I exchanged my money here. Everyone told me to wait until I got to Europe, but here's the thing: I don't know what I'm getting into over there. I don't speak the language, I don't know where ATMs are, I don't want to spend valuable super-fun-Europe-time hunting down cash machines...I just want to get there and go. So I exchanged my money here. 

3.) I put travel notices on all of my credit cards, so they wouldn't think my overseas purchases were fraudulent. If I want lederhosen, no one is stopping me from getting lederhosen. Damnit.


I'm probably going to do this in Germany. With this guy. In this field. (picture via Pinterest)


4.) I booked hostels in different cities for our entire vacation, based entirely on reviews, and no real knowledge of the cities we're visiting. Adventure, you guys!

5.) I declined every offer of assistance getting around Europe. I appreciate that someone has an aunt in Brussels that would be willing to show me around, but I'm just not that keen on being on someone else's schedule. Like the whole ATM thing, I just want to get there and go, but at my own pace.


Being lost is part of the experience, right? Guys? GUYS?


6.) I have a European phrasebook. I can't pronounce anything except "Ich Bien Ein Auslander" which means "I am a foreigner." I didn't learn this from my phrasebook. I learned this back in my days as a cage dancer in an industrial club...true story. It's a song and it's the only German I know, and I just keep saying it over and over again.

7.) I printed out all of my emergency contact information for my husband and my traveling companions, clearly marked it "EMERGENCY CONTACTS" and put copies of it everywhere. If I fall into a canal, somebody will know who to call. Unless the paper gets wet. In which case, I hope the water isn't too deep. Or infested with sharks. And alligators.

8.) We're staying in hostels, so I brought an extra blanket and some toilet paper. I mean...I've never stayed in a hostel before, and I don't like to be cold and toilet paper...well...I'm probably going to pee at some point.

9.) I pre-posted scheduled facebook/twitter/blog posts for every business that I own and/or manage social media accounts for. Vacation should not mean disappearing. If all goes well, no one should even notice I'm gone. I mean...except for the fact that I just told you I'm not here. I mean, I'm here, I wrote this here, today, but when you see it, today will be yesterday and I'll be over there instead of here. Obviously.

10.) I bailed out of everything I'm supposed to do the day I come back. I hope I don't have jet lag, but if I do, I want to be prepared. 


image via Business Insider

I already drew eyeballs to stick under my own glasses when I return, so I'm prepared should I be called to do anything important while I'm sleeping. Because rest assured, no matter what anyone wants me to do when I get back, I'm going to choose sleeping.



I'm supposed to come back December 4th, unless I decide to pull some Eat, Pray, Love thing and just...eat, pray and love all over Europe for the rest of my life.

That's probably not going to happen.I'm probably coming back. I have to open my store back up for your holiday jewelry needs. And I have a husband. And dogs.

We'll see how what I thought about going to Europe before I left compares to what I know when I come back...see you then!