I Need Some Space

tumblr_o1u9g6oNv11tn8bf0o1_1280.jpg

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.

Signature

Advertisements

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.

Signature

Procrastinating

 

As of today, this post is 2 weeks and 2 days late…due to my old friend procrastination. A common reason for procrastination is simple: lack of routine. This lack of routine has had it’s share of excuses. ‘I am in school, I started a new job, I started traveling, I moved, I moved again, etc’ Most of these excuses come from changes that can be seen as “new beginnings”. One would think if you are starting something new you would have a routine in place for that something new to be successful. I find it ironic that my routines are put off by my new beginnings and my new beginnings are delayed due to my lack of routine..it all seems very cyclical.

Aubrey and I took a break from this blog to find our routines and to find our voices. We hoped that time away would clear our minds, refocus our thoughts, and find the voices that fit the story we are trying to tell . In addition, I personally hoped this break would allow for a little more time in my weekly schedule to gain control over my routine (or simply establish one). I can say this break brought upon many of our hopes and highlighted the barriers that forced us on this break in the first place.

So here I am- my first post back and I am admitting that my excuses and “new beginnings” where not the direct causes of my lack of routine. The cause was me. I was standing in my own way. I am getting caught up in life and excuses instead of focusing on making moves and moving forward. So it is with this revelation that I set aside whatever subliminal reasons for my productivity blockade and I make moves. I move forward. I post this post.

Cheers to moving forward!

 

-J

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.

Signature

 

Oh Say, Can You See?

“Your eyes look great,” my optometrist finished, much to my relief. For whatever reason, I always expect the worst walking into doctor’s appointments. Sore neck? Meningitis. Eye pain? Detached retina. Achy tooth? All of my teeth are about to fall out my face.

“You are wearing sunglasses, right?” the optometrist asked casually. “Light eyes need sun protection.” I hadn’t previously known that, but it made sense.

“I mean, sometimes I do? Kind of. Not recently,” I stammered back. Sunglasses…oh boy. Since high school, I hadn’t had a pair that had outlasted a few weeks at most. Usually they were lost on trips, or stepped on. Plus, most days you can catch me wearing my regular eyeglasses, which don’t usually fit well under a pair of sunnies.

Which means that nine times out of ten, you can catch me squinting in the bright sunlight of Los Angeles, trying to navigate highways and byways through an ever-present glare. To find a good, reliable pair of sunglasses – even, dare I say, prescription sunglasses – felt more of a luxury than necessity. I put a pin in it.

725600cc17a209678e597a7c88a6e38b

Amenities should never be underrated! 

Flash forward to me at work, later that week. Mid-afternoon, and the sunlight is pouring into the communal kitchen. I’m bopping around, cleaning up. The sun is directly in my eyes, but I’m powering through it, my mind on my day’s to-do list. We need to email our directors for their weekend availability, and check on the status of our wifi inventory.

The sun. Still annoying. Is my face burning?

Where did I put the number of that handyman?

My face is definitely burning.

And finally, at long last, I turn to those dumb windows and I pull the shades down.

With that tiny bit of effort, I am comfortable. No need to worry about a weird glasses tan line.

This gets me thinking. There are so many things in life that we – that I – tolerate, but with a little effort and adjustment, they can be fixed. Life doesn’t always have to be a long march of suffering. When the sunlight is pouring in and cooking you alive, you can always pull the shades down.

I don’t have to have another cold winter. I can save up and buy a heated blanket. My pajama pants don’t always have to be too short. I can donate them and buy a pair that actually fits. Small adjustments can feel like unnecessary luxuries, but they were invented for a reason: to make our existence that much more enjoyable.

My Warby Parker prescription sunglasses will be arriving any day now, and I’m positive I won’t be losing this pair anytime soon.

 

Signature

 

Shaking off the Boredom Blues

tumblr_nd5w4hhNq61r0gq4mo1_400.jpg

Source: euoria

Ever since college, the “B” word has been banned from my vocabulary. “B” as in bored. Nothing pushes you to use your time more wisely than being a waitress working afternoons in a slow restaurant. As you’re frequently reminded, they’re not paying you to stand in a corner on your phone.

Finding things to do has become my trademark at work – there’s never a time when I allow myself to twiddle my thumbs and not be proactive about finding ways to stay busy.

However, there comes a point when the motivation just isn’t there and the mundanity seems to set in.

That’s a good time to reassess what motivates you, what gives you meaning to your work and your play. There are internal motivations, such as when you’re focusing on being more physically active. It can do a brain and body good to remember why you’re trying to be healthier in the first place. Weight loss? Training for a marathon? If you’re trying to finish a project, think about why you want to finish this task. When I was working on my project draft last month, I actually wrote down my motivations on sticky notes above my desk, where I would see them everyday.

If that’s not quite doing it for you, then maybe it’s time to think about planning a little something that will break up the monotony of the month. Make plans to meet up with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Take a class in something you’ve never tried before (hello, acroyoga!). Treat yourself to a massage/manicure/hike in the woods. Give yourself something – no matter how small – to look forward to and brighten your week.

Me? I think I’ve got my eyes on a concert in San Francisco I’d like to go to this summer 🙂

 

Signature

 

No More Mediocrity

There are some truly atrocious pieces of work that are still acceptable to love. Guilty pleasures, if you will. On my list are shows from TLC, the book Lovers and Players (you never see that twist at the end!), countless terrible movies my friends can’t believe I love, etc. There’s a line, though, that we as consumers of media need to draw between guilty pleasures, and wanting to drop things we hate but feel obligated to continue with.

I personally have never walked out of a movie. If it’s terrible, I end up adding my own, under-breath commentary to it. Just ask my friends; they hate taking me out to theaters. Books, however, I feel have less immediate social pressure convincing you to stick with

large

Courtesy of we<3it

them.

 

There have been times when, curled up in bed, I’ve held a book in my hands that is uninteresting or just plain terrible, and I’ve actually felt guilty about putting it down! Sometimes, it’s because I don’t want to seem like a quitter. Other times, I feel like I owe the book one more chapter, maybe it’ll turn itself around…?

Time and time again, though, I’ve come to the end of a story and been deeply unsatisfied. To this I say, let’s make a pact to not continue with something if we truly dislike it. Recently, I even read that doing exercises you hate is even bad for you. Why suffer through another movie or novel or workout that takes a toll on your happiness? Unless, of course, your teacher is demanding you finish Catcher in the Rye (and for that, I’m truly sorry, but you’ve got to do it).

Guilt trip keeping you from stopping? Shut it down. Remember: your time and attention are valuable, and they should be spent enriching your life rather than disappointing you.

What’s on your to-read/to-watch list this week? For me, it’s The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin and FINALLY, I get to watch Memoirs of a Geisha, which remains one of my all-time favorite books!

Signature

March Madness

large.jpg

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 🙂

 

Signature

 

Looking at the {Wo}Man in the Mirror

6:30 AM. My alarm is shrieking on my nightstand. I can barely open my eyes, but I don’t have any time left to sleep – I was supposed to already be up, dressed, and working on my novella. I was supposed to have my gym bag packed and my tea brewing and be a functioning human being.

With all of this weighing on me, I moved to get out of bed. Just then, a little voice in my head yelled Stop! Wait! Hold on for a second. Are you happy with this arrangement?

I listened. I stopped. And I reflected.

Currently, I’m on a quest to instill some good habits into my life. I’ve lovingly named it the BLOB program (better life or bust!). BLOB basically has involved me trying to live healthier- I go to the gym more, eat better, and sleep more, and at the end of a certain period of time of doing well, I earn a “prize”. Cue images of sticker charts for children.

On the other hand, I’ve become more serious about finishing the first draft of my novella. The goal is to have the draft finished by the end of March. This has meant at least six written pages a day, plus research and outlining.

Unfortunately, these two little projects of mine have begun to clash.

Where BLOB states clearly that I should be in bed by 10 PM, my novella demands 3,000 words to be written after work. BLOB requires a stretch session before the day starts. The novella needs an outline before that night’s pages can be written. It goes on.FullSizeRender

It’s only been three (count ‘em – three) days of this back and forth, and I’m already exhausted and disappointed. Where I gain with one, I fail with the other. And it doesn’t help that my roommate has recently gotten me into Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

Reflecting this morning gave me the moment’s pause I needed to say something has to give. In college I remember seeing a Venn Diagram of three circles arranged in a triangle. One is sleep, one is your social life, and one is your grades. The caption underneath read “pick two”, meaning that something always has to give.

In life, we cannot be great at everything, always. I can’t be staying up until 1AM every night and expecting to run a full day on only four hours sleep for a month. And I can’t expect to finish my draft if I am spending more time working on other projects.

It’s ok to compromise and to adjust in order to prevent this kind of burn out. I’ve decided to lessen my BLOB duties for the remainder of draft writing, but in return I’m going to focus on achieving a more reasonable bedtime by prepping for my writing the night before. It’s not perfect, but I’m hoping it will be a major improvement.

May you also seek the answers to your problems with a little reflection in your life 🙂

Signature

 

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!

Signature