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

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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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Workplace Warfare

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I love my job, but work isn’t always fun. Especially when things aren’t meshing well with your fellow co-workers. T is about my age, and has worked with us for many months now, and is hardworking and funny. Except when something bothers her. Which seems to be a lot of the time. Little things easily aggravate her, slow drivers make her see red, and watch out if it’s just a bad day – you become her verbal punching bag.

On top of this, it’s become difficult to see where my job ends and hers begins. Technically speaking, she’s the assistant to the assistant (me), but my boss has been taking to treating us as the same person. This is problematic because some days I catch her doing my job for me, and not necessarily doing it well.

I hemmed and hawed over what to do about this for a while. I asked my mom for advice, I complained in hushed whispers to other co-workers, and silently fumed, but this was getting me nowhere.

Getting my professional game face on!

Getting my professional game face on!

Finally, I did what I should have done all along: I asked my boss if she and I could have a sit down. To prepare, I made a list of everything that was not working well for our department, and some possible solutions. I tried not to focus on specific incidents that had happened, but larger, overall trends. This meeting wasn’t about my feelings, it was about how we could better our office and improve cohesion.

When we chatted, it was a private talk between just my boss and I. I broached every subject from an angle of ‘this is what I noticed, how can I help improve this?’. The meeting was incredibly productive, with my boss listening intently to my issues and promising to make changes on her end.

Of course, there were changes to be made on my side as well. She pointed out many factors I hadn’t even noticed before, little things that had helped get us to where we were now. I tried not to take it to heart, though. Again, this wasn’t personal, it was professional.

Know that like in your personal life, the relationships in your professional life can and will be complex at times. There will be friends made, and there will be enemies made. Unlike your personal life, though, your professional life has to remain just that – professional. Had I punched T in the face following her volley of rude remarks, I would have been fired.

Your job is never to suffer; if things are so bad in your office that you consistently hate going to work, you might want to dust off that resume and find something else. If you’re having trouble with only a couple people, remember that you’re there to enrich your professional life and to help your company succeed, not to make BFFs with everyone and the receptionist. If you can, keep your distance, but more importantly – keep your cool!
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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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When The Going Gets Tough

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We all have bad days. Bad weeks, even. Stress, loss, breakdowns, break ups, trauma, turmoil – sometimes, nothing goes right.

I just had one of those weeks.

My go-to for these situations is usually to dwell on everything that went wrong, and then worry about the future to the point where I have trouble sleeping or concentrating on work. My pain and anxiety become all consuming.

This time around, I did a little digging to see if there was a healthier way to deal with hard times such as these. Luckily, Tiny Buddha had some great advice to share:

#1 Assert Your Goals: When everything seems to be falling down around you, take heart in knowing you still have options. Then, assert it! I can still see exactly where my goals lie, and even though this last week has felt like a giant misstep, it will not deter me from the life I want to lead.

#2 Focus on Everything That’s Good & Working: “Negativity is not constructive…We don’t have to live in the shadow of what could have been if we shine a light on what’s working to allow it to grow.” I am healthy, active, surrounded by good friends and co-workers, and living in LA! It helps to be reminded that there are good things happening, if you open your eyes to them.

#3 Take Action: Use the time you have efficiently. This doesn’t mean having unrealistic expectations about how to get back on your feet. It means that you shouldn’t sit and let negativity consume you. Take as much time as you need to mourn, ponder, and reflect – and then get to work on solving the issues at hand.

#4 Create Balance: Life can’t be all about taking action. Take time to do things just for your own pleasure – going to a gallery, cooking, reading, stretching, spending time with friends. These activities help to not only lift your mood, but also to distract you from obsessing over what went wrong.

#5 Embrace Fear: Don’t allow fear to bog you down. Rather, let it be a “positive energy that moves you forward.” Sometimes change can be downright scary. It helps to think of fear as an accomplice, rather than an adversary.

#6 Release: It can help to seek out a friend or a loved one or a therapist to talk things out to. Sometimes our own thoughts can be burdensome if we keep them to ourselves. I tend to answer my own questions just by walking through the details with friends.

#7 Practice Gratitude: This hearkens back to #2, but it’s extra important to look back at your days and focus on at least five things that made it brighter. Amidst all the chaos and hurt of my week, I had a good friend come to stay with me, I pushed through some tough workouts, and I was able to get some solid rest in.

#8 Improve on Yesterday: “Re-affirm verbally, physically, mentally, creatively, and socially all that you have and energize it so that it continues to develop.” Tomorrow never has to be perfect, but if I can make it even one ounce better than today was, then I’m on the right track.

#9 Don’t Give Up: Tough times can feel like utter dead ends, but they’re not; they’re just stumbles. What’s important is that you keep on going no matter what.


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May I Blog More Frequently

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Phew! After a week and a half of a nasty cold, I finally feel like I’m better & nearly back to normal. During that period, I tried to be extra kind to my body. That meant more sleep, less gym; heartier foods, less time cooking. While it felt really, REALLY good to embrace my – dare I say – lazier side, it’s made me be all the more appreciative of how much exercise and clean eating boost my confidence and overall make me feel great.

To help get me back in the saddle, I’ve enlisted the aid of setting weekly intentions. Before now, I’d only ever heard the term used in the smattering of yoga classes I’ve taken. According to the blog Abundant Mama, intentions keep us focused on our goals and help us “behave the way we wish to behave”.

You can make weekly intentions, daily intentions, weekend intentions, yearly ones, etc. What you must do is ask yourself what it is that you need out of your set period of time. Abundant Mama reminds readers that while our intentions are meant to be taken seriously, stuff happens and in the end, they’re just intentions.

In order to keep my intentions fresh in my mind, I framed a sheet of paper that reads, “Only Good Lies Before Me”. In the center, I can use dry-erase marker to write out my different intentions as they change. I think the end product is so-so, and eventually I’ll probably switch it out for something cuter, but in the meantime it’ll do!unnamed-1

Mine for this week are:

  • May I not be stressed
  • May I be balanced
  • May I have lots of creative energy
  • May I be mindful
  • May I take care of my body

Where do you see your week headed?

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Lately, it seems like my brain is constantly and humming with activity. A lot of it is because work is absolutely nuts right now, and so I’m always finding myself thinking about what I need to prepare, who I need to email, etc. Otherwise, I’m dreaming up new blog posts, brainstorming for that next DIY project, planning future trips, and worrying about everything else.

I broke down the other night, convinced my brain was on steroids and that I’d never get any peace. I called my mom, because who better to cry to? She heard out my woes patiently and then offered – meditation!

I think I started to roll my eyes, but then caught myself. Meditation sounded like a nutty idea, something for people with more patience and self-control than I, but I remembered how in college I would attend guided meditation sessions offered during finals week. More often than not, I would fall asleep during them, spread full-eagle on a mat surrounded by strangers, but it was because I was so relaxed and comfortable.

For the last week or so, I’ve been re-visiting guided meditation as a means to shut my brain off before bed. Normally, I hate having computer screens in the bedroom, but I quickly searched for videos on YouTube before settling down with one from channel Psychetruth. I turned the brightness way way down, tossed it onto my nightstand, and settled back on my pillows.

This is how my thought process went during the fourteen minutes:

 

  • Am I comfy? Am I too comfy? Where should my arms be? What was I supposed to remember for tomorrorow?
  • Picture a boat, eh? Oh wow, I remember that one time we went on dad’s friend’s boat and jumped off!
  • Stop thinking about other things, focus on the damn boat!
  • Ok, I think I’m getting the hang of this. Breathe in, breathe out.
  • Zzzzzzzzzzz

I don’t even remember the end of the video, because at some point I fell into such a deep sleep that I almost was late to work the next morning. Since then, I’ve tested a few more videos, each with the same result. They make it easier to rope in those rogue thoughts that keep me up at night, instead helping me to focus my mind and breathing and to relax.

There are many, many different forms of meditation, and I’m looking forward to incorporating it more into my daily schedule.

Not convinced yet? Here are eight ways meditation benefits you in mind, body, and soul.

Here’s the video I tried on my first night by Psychetruth:

 

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Party of One

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Ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you – when it comes to staying in, I’m the queen. If someone shows the slightest hesitation at going out for the night, I jump all over it like bees on pollen. “Of course you should stay in! Get some rest, watch some Netflix. Who would want to go out after the hellish week you’ve had?!”

Trust me, though, I love a good adventure. Lately, though, it seems like I haven’t had many. The last time I went out with a friend was in early December – we met up to explore Chinatown and have pho. Before that… I don’t even know! My weekends are filled with sleep, working my second job, laundry, and writing (if I can get motivated enough). What I’m missing is passion and trying new things.

I spent a majority of this week wracking my brain to figure out why I’ve become a total homebody shut in, but it wasn’t until this morning that I got my first major clue. A couple girlfriends and I were planning on attending this very cool Hollywood costume exhibit today, and for the last few days had been going back and forth on times. At 10AM, my phone rang. It was my friend, profusely apologizing that she and the others wouldn’t be able to make it, that they had just wrapped on a four day-long set and she woke up feeling absolutely lethargic. Could we re-schedule?

Immediately I agreed – I’d had those weeks where at the end, it’s all you can do to get out of bed and throw some food into your stomach, before climbing back under the sheets. Sets are mentally and physically exhausting, and I wasn’t about to throw a fit and demand she meet me to look at Dorothy’s dress from The Wizard of Oz.

We hung up the phone, and I sat there in my pajamas, mildly wondering What now?

Aha! And there in lies my problem. I’ve been relying too much on friends to do the activities I want to do. About a hundred times a day, I think about the day trips and hikes I want to pursue, followed up quickly by a mental checklist of who’d want to do them with me. Many times, I draw up short, because I haven’t got a friend who adores long hikes like I do, or someone that rock climbs. At that point, I abandon the idea and promise to think about it later, when I’ve got someone to do it with.

Now, I’m seeing a little more clearly that it’s okay to go off and do some of these things by myself. Not having a partner in crime shouldn’t dictate that I’m stuck at home all day, uselessly purusing the Internet. I just relocated my dog-eared guide to Los Angeles and Southern California, and am thinking about scheduling in some places I’ve been dying to see.

Additionally, I’ve got to make a greater commitment to making plans with my friends doing things we all like. My roommate got me a fondue set for Christmas, and I’m eager to put it to use.

Wanted: {Inspiration}

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Well hello everyone, and welcome to 2015! If you’re anything like me, you’ve been struggling to get your head back into your typical routine. I had such a magical time on the East coast with my family that it’s been surreal being back at work trying to remember how to do my job (the key, really, is to make sure the executives have caffeine).

It wasn’t until I picked up my copy of Grace Helbig’s The Art of Pretending to be a Grown Up (a really funny, relatable read by YouTube personality Grace Helbig) that I realized that I was lacking inspiration! In her chapter on balancing work and play, one of Grace’s points is that in order tokeep motivated in any capacity, you should seek inspiration. Grace’s suggestion was to look up child prodigies on YouTube. In case that isn’t doing it for you, I have a few ideas of my own:

  1. Follow your idols on social media. I’m on Instagram everyday, and someone I’ve subscribed to is Reese Witherspoon. Her account is positive, bright, and chock full of inspiring quotes/photos (every Monday she posts a #MondayMuse). Seeing her accomplish her goals makes me want to do the same!
  2. Surround yourself with things that inspire you. When decorating your bedroom or cubicle at work, or even picking out a desktop for your computer background, think in terms of what is going to bring out the best in you. Maybe it’s photos of family and friends. Maybe it’s a vision board covered with photos of your goals. Or, it could simply be a quote that energizes you.
  3. Find someone who is better at something than you, and use it to motivate yourself. I went to college with a young woman who is a perpetual volunteer and defender of women’s rights. My volunteering record is sketchy at best. Learning about her exploits and reading her blog make me want to be on her level.
  4. Celebrate your accomplishments! Sometimes I look at my to-do list at the end of the day and am disappointed by all the things I didn’t get to. It’s then that I have to remind myself to be proud of everything I did do! Life is short, chores stink, and we’ll never get them all done. We might as well celebrate what we did manage to accomplish.
  5. Be your own best cheerleader. As adults, we don’t always have people patting us on the head and saying, “Good job!”, nor do we always have a personal trainer egging us on to do better. At the end of the day, you are the only one responsible for how you feel and how much you get done. I used to rag on myself whenever I didn’t get up early enough to go to the gym – it would ruin my entire day. Then, I decided to adopt a more forgiving attitude, one where I would cheer myself onward towards waking up during the wee hours of the morning. And if I decided to back to sleep? Not the end of the world.
  6. Immerse yourself in activities that make you excited to jump out of bed every day. Read Amy Poehler’s new book. Look at this article about celebrating women’s bodies. Listen to a song that makes you want to jump up and down. Try your hand at creating something. See a pretentious art film that makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time. The possibilities are endless, but what counts is that it makes you happy and re-energizes you to take on the world!

Also…don’t forget the cheesy Pinterest quotes!

At any given moment you have the power to say:  This is not how the story is going to end today.     #motivational - you have the ability to make a difference in your life.

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