Shaking off the Boredom Blues

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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 🙂

 

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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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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

Note to Self: A weekly reflection of everything I should have done

More often than not, I find myself making a mental checklist. Do the dishes, Call your mother, Take a Nap, Pay Car Bill. I think it is safe to say we all do this, but for my impermeable brain these mental notes go untouched.

It is not surprising to report that the most productive, meditative place is in the shower (or driving). It is here that I daydream about the newest DIY or where I dwell on a terrible day. Yesterday, I began to take an inventory of all of these mental notes. Call mom-check, take nap-check. However, there are some things I didn’t get to because they lacked a deadline or a tangible reason to do them.  And then it hit me-in that meditative shower-I decided that the best way to hold myself accountable for the millions of mental emails gone unanswered was to write them here!

Note to Self:

  1. Call your people
    1. Being a working professional*, my friends and I have gotten into a rhythm. We would go days, weeks without talking and be able to pick it up where we left off. (I think I stole this from an inspirational meme) Our professional lives has pulled a lot of us across the country. Despite being so great at falling back into our friend flow, I am constantly asking myself things like What Sam is doing for her wedding? or Is Rachel lost in the mountains?
  2. Wake up earlier
    1. Why did I leave two minutes later than I should have? Why did I hit snooze a million times? Why did I think Facebook was worth the 45 minutes of my life instead of showering? This is a daily struggle. I am perpetually on time/late. As all of my career counselors say,If you are on time, you are late. 
  3. Show yourself some love
    1. However we choose to show this love-we deserve it. It was clear this week that I have been putting off some self care. Getting sick while traveling was a clear sign that I need to focus more on doing some intentional lovin’.

Stay tuned for more!

Jess (2)

*aspiring professional

Half-Assing All the Way

Last week at work, I had a revelation of sorts. That afternoon, we had just wrapped up feeding forty or so people Indian food and were in the process of cleaning it all up. In a nutshell, it’s a super sloppy job to do. I kept bouncing back between wrapping up leftovers, wiping down the table, organizing the dishwasher, etc. Eventually I noticed how frustrated I was getting with my lack of progress. The place had remained messy, despite my efforts.

That’s when the eureka moment hit.

I have never before known Indian food to be a stand in for my life, but there it was. In cleaning as in life, I had been putting myself into too many tasks and not been seeing results. I had been half-assing everything from my DIY projects to my coupon cutting to my writing and fitness goals. The intentions were there, but my many and varied plans had fallen by the wayside.

My word for 2015 was ‘follow-through’, as I’ve been known to flit from idea to idea without ever finishing it. My closet at home is full of dead craft projects and unfinished story ideas; when the going got tough, I quit and started something new.

Thanks to my goal setting workbook that I completed last month, I have narrowed down my official goal “categories” to writing, getting in shape, being financially responsible, expanding my resume, and traveling. Having this list taped to the inside of my planner has been instrumental in keeping my ambitions focused, but now is the time to revisit them and re-plan for them afresh.

Words to live by!

Words to live by!

It can be overwhelming to take on such a task – especially if you are revisiting your goals only because you were getting overwhelmed by them in the first place. I recommend that you:

1) Take a deep breath, grab a refreshment (may I suggest a giant cup of caffeine) and find a quiet place to settle in for a while.

2) If you haven’t already, I recommend you figure out your top five goals like I did using this workbook. Once you have them, take the goals and break them into smaller chunks by category.

3) One by one, focus on each chunk and come up with a plan to see it actualize into something that’s achievable. Under my category of “getting in shape”, I wrote that I wanted to be able to run two miles without stopping. To achieve this, I’ve created a workout calendar that’s devoted solely to my exercise routines.

4) Implement those plans, but one at a time! Instead of trying to run two miles and learn how to dead squat, I’m going to focus on them one at a time, at least until I feel comfortable enough to move on or add more to my goal.

This slower pace can seem incredibly frustrating. After all, we live in a world where the McDonald’s drive thru can have a delicious McFlurry awaiting you in a second’s notice (I don’t recommend those if your goals include fitness…or living past 25). We – myself included – want things and we want them now!

But taking it one goal at a time can ensure a success that half-assing everything can never do for you. The wisdom you can find in Indian food!

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Work{Book} Your Life Away

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If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. Chances are it will be the worst thing you have to do all day. – Mark Twain

Today was not the first day I noticed my to-do list remained untouched.

In fact, I actually had to go find my to-do list, which was buried in a paper bag in my apartment. Also missing seems to be my motivation. Maybe it’s just that time of year – fresh faced graduates are posting their smiling faces in caps and gowns all over social media, proclaiming how excited they are about the bright futures that await them!

Their Instagrams and Facebook posts seem to fuel my current discontent, but they’re not the source. In many ways, I feel stuck. What was once new and exciting has become more routine, and my motivation is flagging, dragging, and burning. I’m sure you’ve noticed, what with my inconsistent blog posts.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one going through these post-graduate blues. My roommates are also experiencing some ruts. Now, I’m ready to take action on them.

In researching for this post, I’ve come across several different methods to making an achievable goals list. Some use money as an incentive, others stress the steps of picking a goal, then breaking it down into quantifiable pieces.

As I stare at my planner, I realize that I’ve been doing just fine in breaking things down, assigning little chunks to different days to ensure I would never feel overwhelmed. It’s the follow through that is nowhere to be found. The pieces are all there, I just have refused to take action on any of them.

Oy.

Skip ahead. I’ve found a goals workbook that promises to help guide you through revamping your to do lists, and helps you look ahead at the future. I sign up via the blog Living Well Spending Less, which automatically enrolls me to their video mailing list. In exchange, I am able to Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 3.43.30 PMdownload the workbook, and in little breaks at work I begin to fill out the pages.

I find my problem at step one. The workbook has you list what activities you think are most important, as well as the ones you think take up the most of your time; whatever overlaps especially takes priority. I had very little overlap between my items, from which I concluded that I’m hardly spending any time on what I think is actually important in my life (health and wellness, friends and family, serving my community, writing), and wasting time (I actually wrote ‘surfing the Internet’ as something that eats up my time – yikes!).

Obviously, I spend a good chunk of my life at work, which is a necessity rather than a favored activity. There will obviously be days where I have to do things I don’t want to do (I’ve been needing to switch my car insurance for a while, I’m not looking forward to that). Overall, though, my free time has been drizzled away wasting time when I could be chasing dreams and making things happen.

Additionally, the workbook has had me imagine my dream future in five years (hello adorable apartment in San Fran!), plan short term goals, and much much more. I feel re-energized and more focused having completed it.

Feeling like you’re in a rut? Find the workbook sign up page here: http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2015/01/05/effective-goal-setter/

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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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Well, I Tried: Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken

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Well folks, it’s the weekend, and you know what that means! After a long week of some very non-clean eating, it’s time for another installation of “Well, I tried”. This week’s recipe is for slow cooker honey garlic chicken, from the blog Just a Taste. Here’s what I thought:

The Ingredients: For the most part, very easy to find grocery items. Once again, I tried to get everything at Target, and was successful EXCEPT for soy sauce, if you can believe it. The only thing I blinked an eye at was the hoisin sauce, but I figured it’d be a worthwhile investment if I was sure to use it again.

The gang [minus onion] is all here!

The Prep: Not too bad, actually. You whisk the main ingredients together, pour them over the chicken breasts, and voila! It’s ready to cook. The only thing that took some time for me was dicing the onion, but that’s because I don’t know how to properly do so.

** Note: I took some liberties with the recipe. Firstly, I used boneless breasts, simply because Target didn’t have any with bones. Secondly, I used coconut oil instead of olive oil – it was convenient, because I already had it. Third, I stacked some pieces of chicken on top of each other, even the recipe says this is a no-no. I had to because my crock pot is tiny, and I wanted enough to last me. Next (yikes, I didn’t think I made this many changes), I cooked it for two hours on high, rather than four hours on low. This is because I don’t know proper time management skills and wanted to eat at a decent hour. Lastly, I skipped the toppings because I ran out of money at the store.

Simmering the sauce with the slurry.

How’d It Come Out? Wow. Hands down a really delicious, flavorful recipe that yielded more than I expected it to. The chicken came out moist and tender and had really absorbed the marinade without having sat in it for too long. I promptly devoured it with some rather unhealthy potatoes from a box but hey, this is a step in the right direction!

I took this photo and then promptly inhaled the food.

The Verdict: SO DELICIOUS! A huge recommend for everyone except my poor mother, who is allergic to chicken.

Stay tuned for more recipe adventures!

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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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