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

Thanks-giving

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Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. It is a holiday that is full of traditions, but also is the most dynamic. Every few years, my family decides to adapt a new tradition or make a few tweaks to some family classics. It can be anything from switching up the turkey recipe to sharing this special day with new friends. One true constant is always family.

My fondest memories all contain the people over the food. Though, the food is a close second! My earliest memories were set in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This is where Aubrey, myself and our siblings created our wonderful memories of capturing baby frogs and playing Jurassic Park in the fields. These memories are the base for how Thanksgiving should be. We are a crazy, eclectic bunch who can seamlessly come together and create memories that truly define each of us. From the name tags to Grandpa’s napkin bib, I am so thankful that this holiday exists.

Another reason, this holiday is so great is because it inspires reflection. Starting Nov. 1, social media was buzzing with posts, articles, and photos showcasing what the world is thankful for. Everyone, including the Negative Nancy’s of the world, took time to use #thankful in at least one post. Who better to spark my thanks-piration than one of my favorites: Kate Hudson.

This Instagram post a few weeks ago, inspired me to not only reflect but chronicle the things that I am grateful for. I realized that everyday I am thankful for something different than the day before. But before I started, I took to the web. I was in search for proof of what Kate said in her caption. Can practicing gratitude lead to improved health and a happier life?

These days there is research on everything! Luckily for me, the University of California Berklee has The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC). They have done some great research into the benefits, but also provide suggestions on how to maximize your practice of gratitude.

what strikes me is how keeping a gratitude journal—or perhaps the entire experience of gratitude—is really about forcing ourselves to pay attention to the good things in life we’d otherwise take for granted. (Marsh, 2011)

Even though Kate’s journal looks adorable, electronic journaling seems to be the best option for me. The GGSC developed an electronic gratitude journal that can measure the effectiveness of  gratitude on the happiness and health of the individual. It is called thanx4. It requires the participant to journal every 2 days for 14 days. The greatest part is they will remind you when to post! (great for us forgetful folks!) It will also give you the option to reflect on your day. (Ie. How were you feeling? Did anything exciting happen?) After 2 weeks, you will receive feedback on your progress-Easy as pie!

mmmmm pie.

I have started my journal today. I am excited to see how reflecting every few days will help me live a happier life. I am also challenging myself to give others the opportunity to feel thankful too! So in addition to reflecting, I will go out and do random acts of kindness and do something special for those I am the most thankful for!

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