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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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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Day 13

Confession time: this week I’ve been a little…absent minded. Whether it’s been at work or home, I haven’t been 100% there and focused. Except for when I ate an entire bag of jelly beans the other night and finally hung our new lamp fixture in the dining room.
Have you ever reached a place where you find yourself slacking a bit? I used to be the queen of always finding things to do. Now, I’ve let a few things slide. Like laundry. And meal planning. And going above and beyond at work.

Today I sat in on an interview with a potential intern and I listened as my boss explained to the interviewee what kind of hard working individuals we hire. “We’re looking for people who are willing to improve at whatever it is they’re doing, at least 10% every day,” she concluded.

Where can 10% take you?

10%. I walked out of the interview fixated on that number, and it stuck with me for the rest of the day. 10%. As I was cleaning up our office, I suddenly thought what if I clean this, but 10% better than what I’d normally do? What would that look like? Before I knew it, I created a rain readiness bucket for our future battles with El Niño (think: lots of rain).
10%.

Such a small number, but even that much of a percentage had me thinking about how to do what I was currently doing, but better. It’s a small enough step to not be daunting, but encouraging enough to make me want to push for higher quality results.
May you push yourself for that 10% today in whatever you do!

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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

Write Right

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If there’s anything I’ve learned from, well, life, it’s that communication is key. Key to getting things done (and done correctly), key to learning and sharing ideas, and key to one’s well being. I’ve lived in southern Cali for almost a year now, and the one thing that eases homesickness is keeping in touch withphoto 1 my loved ones back east.

Luckily, today we have websites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. to keep us in the know how. I can text my mom and Skype my dad and Snapchat my cousins all from my phone. Technology has been key to keeping me and the loop, and alternatively reassuring my family that I am, indeed, surviving out here.

One of my absolute favorite ways to say hello, though, is through a good old fashioned letter. This dates back to my American Girl stationery days – in cleaning my room, I’ve come across dozens of half-finished letters to schoolmates and family members (hey, I never said I wasn’t a procrastinator!).

Even now, there’s something fun about writing a little diddy to someone, popping it in the mailbox, and waiting expectantly for them to receive it. Because who doesn’t like getting something besides spam in the mail? It’s a personalized, handwritten treat that I think has gotten the shaft with the advent of tech.

Lately, my letter writing has gone into a slump, so over the weekend I “created” my own stationery to write to my grandparents on. A quick life summary later and voila! A letter has been born.

photo 3If you’re not feeling that ambitious, regular old stores like Target carry a variety of blank notecard & envelope packs that range from adorable to chic. The Paper Source is another letter writing haven, packed with cards to stamps and everything in between.

Happy writing!

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Hostess with the Mostest


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Tonight, my apartment is a little too quiet. Maybe that’s because for the first time in about four weeks, it’s just my roommate and I again. We’ve – or rather, I’ve – had a constant stream of friends and family alike crashing anywhere they could find a spot and basking in the miracle that is Southern California weather.

Playing hostess can be a tough gig, especially if you find yourself doing it fairly frequently. That’s why I’ve compiled a quick guide of to opening your home (or teeny apartment) to others!

BEFORE THEY ARRIVE

  • Clear your guests’ stay with your housemates ahead of time if applicable, and be sure to ask, not tell them that you’re having someone over. It’s a courtesy that should always be extended, especially because this is their home too.
  • If your guests are vacationing with you, make sure you’ve taken the appropriate time off from work. Nothing will ruin a trip quicker than having to go in on your planned day off.
  • Determine whether you are picking them up from their chosen port of travel, or if your guests have alternative means of getting around.
  • Ready some clean sheets and towels ahead of time, or at least have your guests’ sleeping arrangements in order. Nobody likes to touch down after six hours of flying to be greeted by dirty linens, or worse – nowhere to crash.
  • Make sure you have an extra set of keys, just in case you need to split up at any time.
  • Throw a few snacks in the fridge. People often end up at your home hungry. You don’t need to go overboard, and don’t feel bad about asking them to pitch in for more groceries as the vacation goes on.

WHILE THEY’RE THERE

  • Establish house rules. Don’t be afraid to bring up topics like whether or not you like shoes left at the door, how you split dishes,

    Mom & I in Santa Monica on her recent visit!

    or whether drinking/smoking are OK in your home. Your guests will appreciate not having to guess and getting in trouble later.

  • Lay out your schedule, if your guests are just staying with you as opposed to vacationing with you. Talk about when you go to work, when you’ll be home, etc. That way, they know not to call you at 3AM for a ride home from the club.
  • Help your friends out by giving them a rough guide to your area. What public transit is available? Are there any local restaurants you like to eat at? What kinds of activities are there to do?
  • Don’t forget to enjoy some quality time together! Even if you can only do one meal, it’s better than nothing, and it pulls you out of your regular routine.

AFTER THEY’RE GONE

  • Be sure to thank your roommate for their support. I plan on treating mine with a gift basket full of his favorite goodies 🙂

 

Your apartment doesn’t need to be the Ritz for everyone to have a good time! For now, though, I’m going to enjoy having my room to myself again.

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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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Poppin’ some tags

Aubrey and I are frequent flyers when it comes to figuring out what to do next. Socially, professionally, health-wise, sanity-wise, we can’t get enough of figuring out the next best thing. I guess this blog is working, right? 

More often than not, I am looking to do something new and then I am immediately stopped by my looming pile of bills. The struggle is unnaturally real. So this week we decided to put one of our ideas to the test. The $20 challenge is our way of seeing how far we can stretch good ol’ Thomas Jefferson to help us experience something great. Specifically this week, our goal is create a “look” for only $20 only using re-purposed, recycled, or reclaimed items.

You can expect my look to be inspired by this:

Happy Hunting!

Jess (2)

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.

Climb to the top

Everyday, I am thinking about my next move. Whether it be my daily to-do lists or my lifetime goals. I am constantly thinking of what is next or what is to come. More recently, what is next in my career has been on the forefront. I think of what my next job prospect will be, but also how I will get such prospect. The hardest part about applying for the job is getting the employer to be able to see yourself in the position the way that you do.
On the way home from work, I listened to a very inspiring Ted Talk. Susan Colantuono spoke about three essential components that women need to climb up the leadership ladder. Yes, I am not in that place yet, but I believe this understanding should be built into all job searches and professional development opportunities regardless of what position or management level you are looking to enter.
 In a nutshell, she spoke about how we can harness our skills, ability to work with others and what she calls “ability to achieve and sustain extraordinary outcomes” to be able to land that next step in our careers. The main point of this talk was to highlight the ability to achieve these “outcomes” and how this piece of advice has been omitted from any of the advice given to us, especially women. Colantuono even emphasized how being able to showcase this understanding of outcomes will break the glass ceiling and increase the odds of us landing those positions.
 It is time to get to work. My resumes, cover letter, LinkedIn have all focused on 2 of the Colantuono  points I essentially need to rework my professional brand. I couldn’t tell you how long I slaved over my resume and cover letters only to hear nothing back. My biggest flaw is that missing component. I can talk about my skills and personality all day but I don’t talk at all about how I can be a positive beacon for  financial or business success for the company.
So before you hit send and relinquish control of your application, check to be sure you covered all of your bases. Make sure you can say ” Hey, I am amazing and I will be the best business and financial decision you will make all year.”
Check out Susan Colantuono’s TedTalk here.

Jess (2)