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

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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.

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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.

 

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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 🙂

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I Begged Them To Chop My Leg Off

“Pretty please?” I asked Nurse Nick, the studly and only male nurse tending to patients in the ER that night. “Then I can start training to become a Paraolympian runner!”

Nurse Nick laughed but refused and left me and my roomie S to our own devices. Our day had been consumed by a trip to urgent care, and then the ER, to diagnose what was happening to the thing I used to call my right leg.

Let me back up a bit.

Remember how I went on a chilly, but amazing, excursion to Europe? Well it turns out that before I left, I contracted poison oak on a hike. Over the course of the trip, the rash – which I had paid very little attention to – turned into full blown cellulitis. Think mega-rash/skin infection. Very unbecoming.

Thus I limped off a 10-hour flight and straight into the waiting arms of my amazing friend.The doctors bandaged me up, gave me my prescriptions, and sent me home for the weekend to recuperate.

Thursday I called out of work sick and took it easy. Friday I went back to work, but tried to stand/walk as little as possible. By Saturday I had deemed myself well enough to spend a friend’s birthday at a Rocky Picture Show viewing until 4 AM.

On Monday, the doctor checked up on everything and said the infection looked almost gone, so I worked my usual hours through to Thursday. By Thursday, however, things had taken a turn for the worse, and a subsequent visit to urgent care confirmed the infection was back, and I had to restart all of the medications that had been driving me crazy all week. Plus it meant my fifth and sixth shots to the glutes. Yikes.

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Waiting for Nurse Nick to wheel me in for an ultrasound of my leg

This weekend, I have dedicated myself to being a model patient. I’m embarrassed to think how much I brushed off truly taking the time necessary to heal on the first round. When you’re in your twenties, you think you’re invincible. My version of ‘taking it easy’ at work meant working like I do normally, but just sitting down when at my desk instead of standing.

I was careless, and I hope you use this as a cautionary tale the next time you fall ill. Please. Do yourself the favor. Treat yourself right, inside and out, and have the courage to tell people you need the time to do so. If you do not, you will get sicker, and you will miss more work and pay more money for medications and doctors visits (which means more glute shots).

You only get one body; treat it well.

Oh, and make sure you know what poison oak is before you hike.

 

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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 6

I drank my first black cup of coffee Sunday while on a frozen lake…alone. I needed this time more than I did in any other moment. Guarded by an amazing parka, fresh fallen snow, and crisp Maine air, I had the perfect setting for reflection. Even thinking back on it today, the first few days secluded in an icy tundra was the best way to ring in the New Year and reflect. What has 2015 taught me? What are my big resolutions and aspirations for 2016?

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The icy Maine tundra. 

One of my first feelings of the New Year can be closely defined by the imposter syndrome theory.  This theory states the in ability to internalize your accomplishments, in my case, what I accomplished and became in 2015. These accomplishments and experiences have shaped me into a person that I did not realize was different until this past weekend. From my political beliefs to my view on gender, I have gone through a positively challenging year.  I think the biggest area to be affected by this “new me” (sorry for the cliché) is my relationships to the people around me. I put a lot of value in the groups I surround myself with. All of these groups are filled with strong, beautiful, intelligent people hoping to change the world within their worlds.  However, this imposter feeling has caused a moment pause and reflection on how I interact in these social circles and if my space can be filled by this newer version of myself.

My resolution is to never stop questioning, to never stop challenging the past, present, or the future. It is also to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Feeling like an imposter shows that change is happening and that you have achieved something; which in turn pushes me to continue to grow.

Fitasmic

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It’s 5AM on a Tuesday, and the green band around my wrist buzzes energetically, coaxing me into consciousness. Time for the gym. I’m up, out the door, on my way. At the gym, I give the band a couple presses and it logs my activity for me. Later, at work, it buzzes to tell me I’ve been inactive for at least 30 minutes, shouldn’t I do a lap and get a few more steps in? Just before bed, I check out its corresponding app on my tablet to see how many steps I took, how long and how well I rested the night before, etc. Then it’s time to do it all over again.

This nifty device is my first ever fitness tracker, and it has simultaneously taken on the roles of my nurturing mentor and annoying personal trainer. The band itself is simple and sporty; I was the only photo 1 photo 2 photo

person who ordered it in a color other than black and navy. Now, though I can see why – by day two of wearing it, it was already showing signs of discoloration/dirt/who knows. You use a button on one end to input several simple commands, such as change status, time an activity, and take a power nap.

The app that this fitness band uses is called Up. Up takes all of the data synched from the band and turns it into useful information, counting your steps and counting your sleep. You can use it to set reminders, track goals, see health trends, and even form a ‘team’ with your friends. My coworkers and I joined one together, but that’s only served to make us each feel bad about our individual contributions.

If anything, wearing my band has opened my eyes to how much less healthy I actually am than I previously thought. Once upon a time, I could come home from a long day at work and reason that since I felt fatigued, I probably walked way more than the recommended 10,000 steps per day, and so of course I deserved this bowl of ice cream!

Wrong wrong wrong.

Instead, I barely hit 10,000 in an average day. Additionally, I’m not sleeping as soundly as I could be. Nor exercising as often. Suddenly, I have someone – or, rather, something – holding me accountable for my own well being. Sure, it’s a little annoying; I had to take a two day break from wearing it so I didn’t have to face my lack of movement. On the flip side, though, now I have this incredible little device that can actually help me take better care of myself, if I’m willing to work with it and be honest about where I’m at health wise. I guess it’s time to step it Up!

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Standing Standing Everywhere, and Not a Place to Sit

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There have always been – and most likely, will always be – health crazes and fads. From early tonics that promised instant cures, to the Shake Weight, there are new trends starting every day. This time around, I’ve decided to board the bandwagon on one.

At work lately, there have been a string of my coworkers who have begun to use standing desks. It started with one guy in the creative department, M, who claimed that he preferred standing to sitting when he drew. He propped up his laptop and accouterments on some cardboard boxes and voila! A standing desk was born.

M’s desk remained homemade until work hired a new executive, who had back problems and couldn’t sit for long periods of time. And as an executive, there was no way he was going to be greeting clients with his desktop sitting on a Goldfish box. Several standing desks were purchased, along with some mats to ease the pressure on their feet.

The craze was moving along at a solid pace when my coworker, B, and I finally thought we wanted to give it a try. I

My homemade standing desk, don't mind the mess!

My homemade standing desk, don’t mind the mess!

actually prefer to stand to work – it makes it easier to dash out the door when anything arises (and let me tell you, a lot arises).

Because we were only testing the waters, we took the homemade route; my keyboard is resting on a paper holder, while my mouse is on a plastic drawer set. B’s setup involves several boxes at key heights. Luckily, the company had ordered some extra mats for us to stand on.

After a week of no-sitting, B and I agreed on a few things:

  1. Our legs weirdly feel more toned. Though in my case, I emphasized they were a little more stiff.
  2. It does make it easier to walk in and out of our office to do tasks.
  3. We don’t feel as sluggish and bloated in the afternoons following lunch

Screen shot 2015-04-08 at 6.34.45 AMSo far so good. Then B texted me the link to an article one night about the real health benefits of standing desks, versus the hype. It spells out that standing desks aren’t the magic antithesis to sitting. In reality, too much of anything will kill you, and standing too much can be painful and cause heart problems and varicose veins. Yikes.

Standing desks can be apart of a solution, though, when placed into a life routine that additionally include
low-intensity physical activity. The key is to make sure you’re doing it correctly! After reading the article, B and I adjusted our setups to make sure our standing – and sitting – positions were correct.

As she and I begin week two, we’ve begun to allow ourselves to sit whenever we feel uncomfortable or tired. The key is balance, balance, balance.

Until tomorrow, when B brings in her new weighted hula hoop for us to try. 😉

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The Day I Forgot My Boulder Holder

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There’s a funny story in my family that recounts the time a friend’s daughter had to have her father bring her a pair of underwear at high school, because she’d forgotten to put them on that morning. Endless laughter was brought forth in re-imagining the scene of the father, red faced, having to discreetly bring his daughter her favorite thong between classes. What a hoot! Who could be so forgetful?

I may have just topped this anecdote.

Flash back to this past Thursday. I’ve just finished a really kickass workout at the gym – I’m dripping with sweat, ready to shower and get ready for work. Normally, I pack my gym bag the night before, making sure I’ve got my towel, clothes, and makeup. That way, I don’t have to pack it in the morning at 5AM when I’m sure to forget something important.

I root around the bag for my flip flops and towel, and that’s when I realize what I haven’t got: a bra. And of course, this is the day I wore my workout shirt with the built in padding. And of course, I don’t have a single alternative.

My heart is beating in my ears as I ponder my options in the shower. There’s no way I can run back to my apartment, the LA morning traffic would guarantee I’d be late. Maybe I could stop at a store on the way?. I’d probably have to wait until a few hours later, when the Target down the street from work would be open.

I dried myself off and dressed, trying to get used to the feeling of being…bare.

Here’s my lo-down on bras:

  • I, like most women my age, have been wearing bras since puberty, even though I told my mother at the onset that there was no way in hell I was ever going to grow breasts, because they were horrifying.
  • The boob gods heard my prayers, because I check in at barely a B cup
  • Just because I don’t have much going on chest-wise doesn’t mean that it isn’t absolutely obvious when I don’t wear a bra
  • I don’t wear them to bed, nor sometimes on early morning runs to the coffee shop

As I continued prepping for the day, I kept reminding myself that bras are not a necessity! Shirts and shoes, yes. Bras? Nope! There are no rules dictating when or how to wear them. Over hundreds of years they’ve come in and out of fashion, and many women put them on every day tumblr_nlvbso3h5Y1se6x8po1_500without much thought. For some, it’s for support; for others, it’s to create a different illusion of what a we as a society think a breast should look like. Seeing a woman’s nipples through her shirt isn’t the rage right now. Bralessness is instead thought of being something indie or hipster-ish.

“I’ll look just like Kate Moss,” I tittered to myself silently as I walked out of the gym, conscious of the way my girls were moving wildly around with every step.

At work, I was even more self-conscious, arching my shoulders so my shirt would hang away from my body. I was sure everyone would look and see and realize. I went back and forth between feeling liberated and part of my own “social experiment” – if my coworkers saw, would they think any less of me? Would someone pull me aside to talk about ‘appropriate work attire’? Why is this bothering me so much? – to feeling almost naked, exposed. I didn’t want anybody seeing this nonsensical, jiggling production that was my chest. I wanted everyone to be able to focus on what I was doing and saying, rather than my appearance.

Two nerve-crushing, unbearable hours later, my social experiment was done. I was stressed out, thinking about what I’d do if I had to go up or down another flight of stairs, and was having trouble focusing on work. My co-worker and friend, whom I’d confided in about the whole stupid thing, finally pulled me aside and handed me two pieces of gauze and medical tape. I thanked her profusely before booking it to the bathroom, where I was able to tape down the more noticeable aspects and stabilize the jiggle effect.

After this, my day did a complete 180, and I nearly forgot about the whole thing until I came home and changed into my PJs.

What can I take away from all of this?

I got a cold dose of American culture, that’s for sure. In forgetting my bra, I was confronted with how bodies are so hyper-sexualized that seeing my silhouette through my shirt felt incredibly wrong and unprofessional. We wear these things daily, even when someone like me (who doesn’t need the added support) has no good reason to.

The whole scenario has got me thinking about all of these invisible aspects that guide women’s lives and dress codes daily. For now, though, I’ll stick to my Aeries and my Victorias Secrets, and will be sure to check my gym bag twice.

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Well, I Tried: Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole

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Passion, thy name is cooking!

Seriously, though. If my kitchen didn’t heat up to 1,000,000 degrees every time I used the oven – and if groceries were a wee bit cheaper – I’d be in there every day whipping up a batch of this or that.

Cooking, as opposed to baking, has been relatively new to me. Sure, I helped make dinners at home growing up, but I lived in a residence hall all four years of college and depended heavily on the dining hall. Living on my own has thrust me into this new world of meal planning, shopping, and cooking, and I’m loving it so far. Nothing is more exciting than trying a new recipe and fervently hoping it A) doesn’t burn and B) tastes alright.

Additionally this year, I’ve embarked on a campaign to eat clean. This, to me, means less processed foods and more home cooking, using natural and healthy ingredients.

Thankfully, Pinterest exists, and has been more than obliging with providing dozens of new recipes to try. Some have been less than stellar, while others have become tried and true favorites.

Tonight, as apart of a series I’m going to call “Well, I tried”, I cooked up this week’s main dish: Mexican Sweet Potato Casserole from Olives’n’Wine. Here’s what I thought:

The Ingredients: Super simple grocery items, all of which I was able to buy at Target (I just so happened to be there shopping for other things). The only splurge was the quinoa, but luckily I had a box leftover from another recipe.

So...much...sweet...potato

So…much…sweet…potato

The Prep: Takes a bit of time. You’re supposed to grate the sweet potato into little pieces. Turns out, I don’t own a grater, so I used a potato peeler instead and turned them into little slices. It took about twenty to thirty minutes to grate down the giant potatoes I bought, AND I ended up having lots of leftovers, which I froze. Otherwise, you only have to chop the onion and the asparagus, and that’s fairly easy. The only other time consumer is cooking the quinoa (15 minutes-ish).

All tossed & ready to go

All tossed & ready to go

How’d It Come Out? Pretty good! Not a great idea for those who don’t like sweet potatoes, of course, considering that’s the main ingredient. I cooked it for 35 minutes, and that left everything softer, yet still with a slight crunch to it (just how I like it). It’s tasty, but not overtly flavorful. I started tasting it slowly, and then ended up going back for seconds and thirds.

Mmmm cheese!

Mmmm cheese!

The Verdict: Definitely a re-do recipe. PLUS it yielded tons of servings, so I won’t have to worry about running out mid-week.

Stay tuned for more recipe adventures!

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