I Need Some Space

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I recognize that I must sound like a broken record at this point, but unsurprisingly I’ve been struggling with my personal to-do list lately. I’ve blamed stress, my new job, my old job, my impending move later this year, where the moon is in its cycle, etc.

As an adult, I’ve tried to remake myself into a doer as opposed to a dreamer. Hence my love of planners and schedules, New Year resolutions and sticker charts. I even adopted the mantra of the characters in the animated flick Storks: “Make a plan, stick to the plan, always deliver!”

I’m human and obviously make mistakes, but when given the choice between action and relaxation, I always seem to lean towards the side involving my couch and the television. Meanwhile, my personal goals have only grown in their number and intensity. I have plans galore, but they’re not sticking.

In my ever-present quest for finding a better way of doing things, I stumbled across the term “third space”. No, not the postcolonial sociolinguistic theory of identity and community. I’m referring to an additional place that isn’t work or home, where one can “go and essentially feel at ease,” according to Apartment Therapy.

My life in Los Angeles has essentially been lived between two spaces: work, and home. Work has always been the place where I spend most of my waking hours, avoiding personal tasks at all costs. Home has been the opposite: my haven, a place to drop down onto a couch or bed to refresh and relax.

The idea of having a third space speaks volumes to me. Work is not the place to be penning a short story, and home is not the place to be dreaming up business ventures. What I need is a neutral third space, somewhere in between that I can spend my time – undistracted – working on the myriad of projects I have swirling around in my head.

My goal this week is to find that third space (I’m thinking a library – it’s free and there are plenty of them on my route home) and put aside some time to work.

To read more about third spaces, check out Apartment Therapy’s article here.

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Full Steam Ahead

I, like many consumers, sometimes suffer from buyer’s remorse after making purchases. Maybe I didn’t really need that new shirt, and I certainly could have saved $4 on that afternoon iced coffee.

Similarly, I play the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve game when making decisions. It’s almost like a buyer’s remorse for life choices. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself busy worrying about bigger life decisions I’ve made, and what could have happened if I’d only picked something else. Did I attend the right college? Was moving to Los Angeles a smart move?

More recently, I’ve been close to worrying about another big decision: my new job change.

Yes, I finally made the leap and accepted a new position in commercial production. It’s not fancy or high-paying; in fact, it was generally a lateral move in regards to both salary and title. However, after thinking through the pros and cons, I decided this would be an excellent experience and could open many new future doors.

But to state the obvious, change is difficult. I left a job I loved with a company I loved, and knowing that it was time to move on didn’t ease the transition. As I traversed my new, 1-hour commute this past week, I found myself daydreaming about my other options. What if I had gone freelance? Would I have been good at it? What if I hadn’t left my old job? Would something better have come along, if only I’d just waited?

Then, like manna falling from the sky, I listened to an episode of the TED Radio Hour podcast about decision-making. In it, professor of philosophy Ruth Chang discussed how making choices can be difficult, but committing to a choice can ease that difficulty. As in, if you make a decision and wholeheartedly throw yourself behind it. You convince yourself this was right for you, and will work out in the long run – and you will feel better about it.

In my heart, I know that I am a sentimental fool who probably would still be working her first job (at a daycare center) if life hadn’t propelled her along to bigger and better things. In my head, I recognize that there were a myriad of reasons for choosing the career direction I did. My job now is to forge full steam ahead, to banish any shadow of a doubt about why I am where I am, and to brush aside those could’ve, would’ve, should’ves.

There’s a reason they call them “growing pains” (and I should know, I’m 5’11”). Change is daunting, especially when you feel like every move you make is weighted with expectation. Nonetheless, we must press onward, faking it until we really feel confident that our choices were right.

You can find a link to the TED Radio Hour podcast episode I listened to here.

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Sunday Funday

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day

Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way.

 

The Mamas & the Papas had it right when they sang about the blues that Mondays always seem to bring. It’s not Monday’s fault – it is inherently the end of the weekend, the end of the fun and relaxation. Mondays are inevitably somber affairs.

But I don’t want to talk about Mondays, I want to talk about the magic that is Sunday. I have a passionate love for Sundays. They may be the last day of weekend freedom, but they embody everything I enjoy about being a free twenty-something.

Maybe I should explain.

By now, if you have read any of my previous posts, you will know that I am a serial comeback kid. I believe in January resolution making (and take it very, very seriously), schedules, programs, sticker charts, you name it. I love the first of the month, sunrises, and the promise that a good night’s sleep will inevitably bring you peace and a fresh start in the morning.

Recently I had a friend roll her eyes at me and complain, “You’re always starting over!” And it’s true, I am. My place is at the drawing board, testing new ways of completing tasks and new schedules. If I think there’s a chance that I could be living life just a little more fully, I’m willing to pursue the change.

That’s not to say I give up easily. Last year at this time, I sat down everyday for a month and wrote the first draft of a novella. Rather, I am comfortable admitting when a particular schedule isn’t working for me, and taking the time to examine what would make it better. As I am not tied down with a family or a dog (yet!), I am free to make these changes as frequently as I please, affecting no one but myself.

For me, Sundays are the weekly day to begin anew. The mistakes and trials of the week before are magically undone – but not forgotten. So long as there are Sundays, there is the assurance that things can and will get better, or stay right where you want them.

p.s. Looking for inspiration on how to better reflect on your weekly goals? Instagram is full of amazing bloggers like iamlisajacobs, a self-described planner junkie who details beautiful spreads in her journals dedicated to self-improvement and breaking down bigger tasks into bite sized pieces.

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March Madness

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Hello world! It’s been ages since I lasted posted, but I promise for good reason – I spent the entire month of March finishing the draft of my first book!

Finishing this project is a huge deal for me. I started it in November 2014 (!) as a post-grad starter project, and promised myself I wouldn’t start anything else until I had finished this manuscript.


Fast forward two years, and I wasn’t very far on my draft. Every so often I’d work up the energy to take my computer to the library for an hour or so and jot some words down. After two years, though, I hadn’t made it past 80 pages. Yikes.

Then, I stumbled across a book recommendation for Book in a Month by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, and something clicked. I realized I was sick and tired of not making progress and just making excuses for not writing.

I purchased the book, and the rest is history!

Well…not quite. It was one of the most difficult tasks I’ve embarked on. I’d set a goal to write 3,000 words a day, which took me about an hour and a half. Doesn’t sound like much, but every day I struggled to stay motivated. The lure of relaxing after work in front of the TV was a constant, but in the end, I came through!

Here are some insights I gleaned while writing:

  1. You have to cater to your inner goddess. At first, I planned out that I would get up at 5:00 AM every day to get my writing out of the way. It took a week of oversleeping for me to finally cave in and admit that I’m not a 5 AM person. I also like being in comfortable clothing, having lots of water by my side, and using a legitimate keyboard, rather than a cheap travel one. Catering to these whims made the writing process so much more enjoyable.
  2. You have to rededicate yourself to your goal every. Single. Day. I wanted to give up every time I sat down to write, no lie. But I made it a priority to post sticky notes around my desk about why I wanted to achieve this goal in the first place. It was instrumental to helping me reenergize.
  3. You have to keep going no matter what. I realized my story had major plot holes / character holes / switching character names early on. There were also a handful of days where I had to either skip writing altogether or didn’t make my word count. There were many opportunities for me – the constant quitter – to stop the project altogether, but I persevered.
  4. You have to focus if you want to see this goal through. Normally, I’m trying to juggle fifteen thousand goals at once. New fitness routines, new recipes to try, new makeup techniques to perfect, etc. When March rolled around, though, I realized I could only put 100% into one thing, and I chose that thing to be writing. It made me sad to have to dial back on going out with friends and catching up on TV, but I kept reminding myself it was only for a month.
  5. At the end of the day, it comes down to your attitude. A book in a month – especially one guided by a book of the same title – sounded kind of silly when I started, and I was embarrassed to tell people. And every day I didn’t get to where I wanted was a total bummer. Nonetheless, I told myself repeatedly that I would get this done, no matter what. And I did!

There is still much, much work to be done, but I’m looking forward to it. If you’ve made it this far through this post, I hope you take away this single thought if nothing else: when you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything you want. Corny, but forgive me, I’m riding the high of following through with something for once in my life. Feels pretty good 🙂

 

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Fashion in a Capsule

The road to happiness is littered with old clothing.

The other day, I was nearly out the door to work when I stopped myself. Thanks to that LA winter heatwave (hello, 91 degrees), I was dressed in a sundress I’d bought in college from a Goodwill in Boston. Cute, but in the back of my mind it was stressing me out majorly. Is this too short for work? Does the top look a little faded? How well does this actually pair with this sweater?

I knew that if I went to work in that dress, I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything important. Rather than brainstorming projects for my interns or making strides on my paperwork, my headspace would be consumed with second thoughts about my choice of workwear. Plus, what does an old, slightly short sundress say about me to new freelancers coming by the office? Nothing good.

I have decided that it is time to give my wardrobe a complete makeover, a little bit at a time. It’s time to graduate to a slightly better level of dressing, one that 1) flatters me, 2) is comfortable, and 3) projects a positive image to others.

Since I’m a complete beginner when it comes to anything fashionable, I turned yet again to Pinterest to help me get started. That’s where I discovered a piece about capsule wardrobes by Caroline Rector on the site The Everygirl.

Capsule wardrobes are defined as “a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion…which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces” (source). Basically, it’s a miniature wardrobe (usually for a season) that is specifically designed to go together, taking the thinking out of getting dressed in the morning.

Caroline’s version of the capsule wardrobe consists of 37 pieces total – but there are many, many versions that exist. I decided that I liked Caroline’s method enough to follow along, and this past weekend I started my journey with a tour of my current collection of clothing.

First stop? Goodwill.

Caroline’s method says the first thing you should do is go through the clothing you have. You must literally take everything out of your closet and drawers; I dumped everything on my bed.

Next, you sort your clothes into four groups: love it and would wear it right now, maybe, no, and seasonal (as in, it’s winter now but you’ll definitely wear that maxi dress come summer).

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Goodbye forever!

I can be pretty decisive sometimes, so I skipped the maybe pile completely and went with what my gut was telling me. Things that I had hesitations on went straight into a garbage bag headed for donation.

For anyone not as impulsive as I am, Caroline recommends putting your no’s and maybe’s into storage for the time being. That way, if you miss anything, you have a chance to reclaim it.

My first thought after the cleanout was wow, I have so many hangers now. The entire process was cathartic and invigorating, and suddenly my room was filled only with clothes that I love to wear.

The next step for me is taking a hiatus from buying any new clothing for the next three months or so. This will allow me to learn more about my styling preferences and give me time to plan the additions I’ll need to complete my capsule.

Interested in planning your own? Check out Un-Fancy’s free wardrobe planner workbook.

Happy capsuling!

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Bite the Bullet

If you’ve been following along with this blog at all in the past, you’ll know I’m a sucker for organization. When I was searching for the perfect planner for 2016 in which to write all of my world domination plans, I was stumped. So many options! And the number one thing holding me back is my current daily journal.

I’ve had my Piccadilly Essential Notebook since January 2014, and it’s been my everything. Story ideas, shopping lists, habit trackers – they’ve all gone into my little black book for

two years. I know of many planner-addict bloggers who swear by their three-planner system, but I’m a one-and-done kind of gal. Having a planner and an everything else notebook was making me a little crazy.

Then, I stumbled upon Bullet Journaling via Pinterest.

To sum it up, it’s an analog system of organization that can be applied to any blank notebook. It has basic rules in place to help you better make use of your paper system.

Mind blowing and very, very simple.

Instead of buying a new planner, I’ve started using the bullet journal system in my Piccadilly, and it’s made all the difference.

Some of the basics of bullet journaling I’m not a fan of (like the month overview page; I hardly used the one I made for January), so I skip them. The beauty of the system is that you can customize it however you like.

In fact, there are pages dedicated to so-called bullet journal “hacks” (see one below) that people have come up with. Some of the coolest ideas can be found here. Just a few more ways to personalize the system to fit your individual needs.

Can you tell I’m obsessed?

Check out the video below that explains more about Bullet Journaling:


Happy planning!

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Bookmarked: 10 Books to Kick Off Your Week

Call me crazy, but I am obsessed with the public library. Whenever I have free time, I’m either reading or planning what I’m going to read next.

Are you looking to refresh your bookshelf & dive into something new? Below I’ve curated a list of ten titles you should ask your neighborhood librarian to pull off the shelves for you.

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  1. All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven. A love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die. Perfect for fans of John Green or YA titles in general.
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  2. Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life” by Glennon Doyle Melton. A laugh-out-loud read of Melton’s poignant reflections on our universal experiences, it’s the story of one woman trying to love herself and others.
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  3. Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng. The emotionally involving debut novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small town Ohio.
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  4. #Girlboss” by Sophia Amoruso. A manifesto for ambitious young women by the founder of Nasty Gal, a $100+ million e-tailer known for its leading edge fashion and provocative online persona.
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  5. The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi,the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West” by Michelle Goldberg. Traces the life of the incredibly woman who brought yoga to the West.
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  6. In the Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume. A moving story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are changed by unexpected events.
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  7. The Magicians” by Lev Grossman. A NYT bestselling novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world.
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  8. Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari. From one of our generation’s funniest comedic voices comes this hilarious in-depth exploration of the pleasures and pitfalls of modern romance.
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  9. Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, and My Midlife Quest to Dance the Nutcracker” by Lauren Kessler. Follow one woman’s journey to join a professional company to perform in The Nutcracker, proving you are not “supposed” to act any age.
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  10. Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. A novel set in a dystopian future that centers around Kirsten Raymonde, a woman traveling with a group dedicated to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive in this newly altered world.

    Happy reading!

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Organization Never Looked Hotter

It started innocently enough.

I wanted to buy a new planner for 2016. And I don’t mean a run-down-to-CVS-and-grab-whatever’s-on-the-shelf kind of planner. I wanted to invest in something pretty and high-functioning. Something that was going to help me get that much closer to achieving all of the goals I’d set for the new year.

A simple Google search led me to a website (much like this one) run by a woman who owns many different types of day planners for different aspects of her life – and reviews them! Suddenly I was staring at spiral bound Erin Condrens, Simplified Planners, Day Designers, Kikki K’s – the list was endless. Each planner more beautifully styled and more well organized than the next!

Stay with me. It gets better.

Finding the day planners meant finding blogs dedicated not only to the planners themselves, but their decoration.

As in, totally decked out daily, weekly, and monthly layouts, created by so-called “planner addicts”. It’s scrapbooking to a whole new level.

As a wannabe planner addict myself, I’ve now spent many, many hours drooling over these beautifully inspired layouts. It’s a beautiful marriage of creativity, DIY, stickers, and goal planning.

As any #bosslady #careerwoman knows, organization is a major key to success, both personally and professionally. I had no idea that it could be so beautiful.

Don’t believe me? Below I’ve included some of my favorite Instagram accounts from both planner addicts and individuals/companies that design the accoutrements.

Take a look, but be careful! You might fall in love ❤

p.s. Curious as to what I ended up with? Stay tuned for next time!

NEW Week! NEW Month! Let's start February off with a bang!💕 📷: @plannerhappiness

A post shared by Day Designer® (@thedaydesigner) on

My planners are now complete with @paperprincess beautiful tassels and paper clips!! 😍😍😍

A post shared by Wenda | 📒 Planner Addict (@wendafuldesigns) on

Last half of the week! 😍💙💜💚 • all shops are tagged •

A post shared by Jessica (@jkruuu_plans) on

 

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What day is it? ….Day 31

It has been a week since I returned home from Hawaii! It is time to pull it back from the relaxing, sun filled sky vacation mind set and get back into the flow of reality. I hope you all were not thinking of my absense as falling off the band wagon…again.

My island seista was not a result of months of planning and anxiety. It was merely the product, more like passion, of my partner. He has been itching to back to the islands where he has family. And month ago, I merely had to hit submit and our tickets were bought. This was a little out of character for me.  What was I thinking?! Jess doesn’t take vacations during the busiest part of her work year. To be honest, Jess doesn’t really like taking vacations. Period. Sad right?

I have been programed. I have been set to see taking time for myself as selfish and secondary to everything and every person in my life.

I share the same feelings as Aubrey from one of her recent posts. I am ready to move onto a new step in my career. I am ready to take it a next step with my partner. And ready to make BIG changes, but how could I put that all on pause for a 15 hrs journey to spend 10 days on a beach?

I had spent exactly one full week back at work. I knew this was all worth it when a colleague of mine shared his reaction to a phone call I had with a client. “That is how you come back and crush it.” He is my biggest cheerleader, but he made a great point. I did crush it. That was one of the best conversations I have had and the best part was: it was authentic.

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Take me back! 

This break has created a moment of pause. It allowed me to really take time amongst all of these aspirational changes to really think the all through. Sure, this pause allowed me to see volcanos and sea turtles. It more importantly made me realize why and how to make these changes. It has renergized my pursuit to be the most authentic version of myself. It has alowed me to finally be ok with taking time for myself. Because in the end, we all won. We all benefited from me watching the sunset while New England watched the snow.

Take a day off! Better yet, take 10!

XXOO Jess

Day 15, or ‘I’m So Over This’

Try to think back to an unpleasant day you had at work.

Maybe it’s not a difficult task. Maybe it is. Depends on how you would describe unpleasant.

I’ve had unpleasant days where co-workers have flat out yelled at me for minor discretions. I’ve had days where I’ve dropped IKEA furniture pieces on my feet. And then there are those days I’ve been called in to plunge the toilets in the men’s restroom.

Yet, nothing is coming quite near to the feeling I’ve had this past week, having returned from spending the holidays at home with my family.

I haven’t had one of those typically terrible days at work where all I’ve wanted to do is crawl home and lick my wounds. Instead, my days have become…mundane. I’ve come to the realization that I am ready to move on from my current job.

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Somebody needs to update her resume…

Immediately after concluding this I felt dread, anxiety, and guilt. I think in America we’re conditioned to firstly, work constantly, and secondly, have an undying gratitude to our employers. I remember as a kid going in to work with my mom on occasional Saturdays, just so she could make sure she was ahead of the game come the following week. She was incredibly passionate about being a dedicated and productive employee.

I feel guilty for wanting to trade up my position and for wanting new challenges. It’s almost like a betrayal to the company that has taken such good care of me for the last year. I don’t think these feelings will ever go away completely; I’m a people pleaser and I do very much adore my current workplace. However, I don’t want to be someone who stays where they are because they’re too afraid of hurting others or of new opportunities.

In times like these, I find it helpful to go straight to the worst-case scenario. If I found a new job this year, what would realistically happen?

What if my boss gets upset? Ultimately, she should not have final say over my life choices. She’ll have to deal.

What if the new place ends up being a terrible fit? Hopefully interviewing with the company will weed out any major warning signs, but in the end it’s a gamble. I know that I can handle whatever obstacles that are thrown at me, and if I need to move on then I will.

What if I can’t actually find a new job? Sometimes our imagined timelines don’t always pan out, but it’s important to never let the goal fade. I would keep searching in earnest, reimagining a new deadline or plan if the first couldn’t be reached.

I have learned so much in the year plus that I’ve spent in Los Angeles, and especially with my current employer. I plan on staying on a little longer in 2016, but I’ve got a lot of career ahead of me that I think I’m ready to take the next step on, despite how nerve wracking it already feels. In the mean time, I want to dedicate myself to learning as much as I can from my mentors, as well as developing relevant skills on the side (hello web design!).

Have a great weekend everyone 🙂

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