I Need Some Space

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I recognize that I must sound like a broken record at this point, but unsurprisingly I’ve been struggling with my personal to-do list lately. I’ve blamed stress, my new job, my old job, my impending move later this year, where the moon is in its cycle, etc.

As an adult, I’ve tried to remake myself into a doer as opposed to a dreamer. Hence my love of planners and schedules, New Year resolutions and sticker charts. I even adopted the mantra of the characters in the animated flick Storks: “Make a plan, stick to the plan, always deliver!”

I’m human and obviously make mistakes, but when given the choice between action and relaxation, I always seem to lean towards the side involving my couch and the television. Meanwhile, my personal goals have only grown in their number and intensity. I have plans galore, but they’re not sticking.

In my ever-present quest for finding a better way of doing things, I stumbled across the term “third space”. No, not the postcolonial sociolinguistic theory of identity and community. I’m referring to an additional place that isn’t work or home, where one can “go and essentially feel at ease,” according to Apartment Therapy.

My life in Los Angeles has essentially been lived between two spaces: work, and home. Work has always been the place where I spend most of my waking hours, avoiding personal tasks at all costs. Home has been the opposite: my haven, a place to drop down onto a couch or bed to refresh and relax.

The idea of having a third space speaks volumes to me. Work is not the place to be penning a short story, and home is not the place to be dreaming up business ventures. What I need is a neutral third space, somewhere in between that I can spend my time – undistracted – working on the myriad of projects I have swirling around in my head.

My goal this week is to find that third space (I’m thinking a library – it’s free and there are plenty of them on my route home) and put aside some time to work.

To read more about third spaces, check out Apartment Therapy’s article here.

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Full Steam Ahead

I, like many consumers, sometimes suffer from buyer’s remorse after making purchases. Maybe I didn’t really need that new shirt, and I certainly could have saved $4 on that afternoon iced coffee.

Similarly, I play the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve game when making decisions. It’s almost like a buyer’s remorse for life choices. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself busy worrying about bigger life decisions I’ve made, and what could have happened if I’d only picked something else. Did I attend the right college? Was moving to Los Angeles a smart move?

More recently, I’ve been close to worrying about another big decision: my new job change.

Yes, I finally made the leap and accepted a new position in commercial production. It’s not fancy or high-paying; in fact, it was generally a lateral move in regards to both salary and title. However, after thinking through the pros and cons, I decided this would be an excellent experience and could open many new future doors.

But to state the obvious, change is difficult. I left a job I loved with a company I loved, and knowing that it was time to move on didn’t ease the transition. As I traversed my new, 1-hour commute this past week, I found myself daydreaming about my other options. What if I had gone freelance? Would I have been good at it? What if I hadn’t left my old job? Would something better have come along, if only I’d just waited?

Then, like manna falling from the sky, I listened to an episode of the TED Radio Hour podcast about decision-making. In it, professor of philosophy Ruth Chang discussed how making choices can be difficult, but committing to a choice can ease that difficulty. As in, if you make a decision and wholeheartedly throw yourself behind it. You convince yourself this was right for you, and will work out in the long run – and you will feel better about it.

In my heart, I know that I am a sentimental fool who probably would still be working her first job (at a daycare center) if life hadn’t propelled her along to bigger and better things. In my head, I recognize that there were a myriad of reasons for choosing the career direction I did. My job now is to forge full steam ahead, to banish any shadow of a doubt about why I am where I am, and to brush aside those could’ve, would’ve, should’ves.

There’s a reason they call them “growing pains” (and I should know, I’m 5’11”). Change is daunting, especially when you feel like every move you make is weighted with expectation. Nonetheless, we must press onward, faking it until we really feel confident that our choices were right.

You can find a link to the TED Radio Hour podcast episode I listened to here.

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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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Fashion in a Capsule

The road to happiness is littered with old clothing.

The other day, I was nearly out the door to work when I stopped myself. Thanks to that LA winter heatwave (hello, 91 degrees), I was dressed in a sundress I’d bought in college from a Goodwill in Boston. Cute, but in the back of my mind it was stressing me out majorly. Is this too short for work? Does the top look a little faded? How well does this actually pair with this sweater?

I knew that if I went to work in that dress, I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything important. Rather than brainstorming projects for my interns or making strides on my paperwork, my headspace would be consumed with second thoughts about my choice of workwear. Plus, what does an old, slightly short sundress say about me to new freelancers coming by the office? Nothing good.

I have decided that it is time to give my wardrobe a complete makeover, a little bit at a time. It’s time to graduate to a slightly better level of dressing, one that 1) flatters me, 2) is comfortable, and 3) projects a positive image to others.

Since I’m a complete beginner when it comes to anything fashionable, I turned yet again to Pinterest to help me get started. That’s where I discovered a piece about capsule wardrobes by Caroline Rector on the site The Everygirl.

Capsule wardrobes are defined as “a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion…which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces” (source). Basically, it’s a miniature wardrobe (usually for a season) that is specifically designed to go together, taking the thinking out of getting dressed in the morning.

Caroline’s version of the capsule wardrobe consists of 37 pieces total – but there are many, many versions that exist. I decided that I liked Caroline’s method enough to follow along, and this past weekend I started my journey with a tour of my current collection of clothing.

First stop? Goodwill.

Caroline’s method says the first thing you should do is go through the clothing you have. You must literally take everything out of your closet and drawers; I dumped everything on my bed.

Next, you sort your clothes into four groups: love it and would wear it right now, maybe, no, and seasonal (as in, it’s winter now but you’ll definitely wear that maxi dress come summer).

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Goodbye forever!

I can be pretty decisive sometimes, so I skipped the maybe pile completely and went with what my gut was telling me. Things that I had hesitations on went straight into a garbage bag headed for donation.

For anyone not as impulsive as I am, Caroline recommends putting your no’s and maybe’s into storage for the time being. That way, if you miss anything, you have a chance to reclaim it.

My first thought after the cleanout was wow, I have so many hangers now. The entire process was cathartic and invigorating, and suddenly my room was filled only with clothes that I love to wear.

The next step for me is taking a hiatus from buying any new clothing for the next three months or so. This will allow me to learn more about my styling preferences and give me time to plan the additions I’ll need to complete my capsule.

Interested in planning your own? Check out Un-Fancy’s free wardrobe planner workbook.

Happy capsuling!

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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 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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Day 7

You guys…this is it.

This is the moment. The moment where I realized that I have no excuses left. For anything.

Let me explain.

This morning, as I was opening the office with my co-worker, we starting chatting about our goals. And if you’ve read this blog with any sort of regularity, you’d know I’m a huge sucker for goals and anything goal-related.

My co-worker is a fresh faced lad who graduated college only last summer. He told me he was anxious to get going on his goals, which mainly revolved around getting back into doing standup comedy, practicing his swing dancing (he’s a classy guy), and figuring out where he wants to take his career.

I applauded his effort, but reminded him not to be too hard on himself. He did, after all, just graduate college.

And suddenly, I realized that I did not just graduate college. I graduated

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Me as a fresh faced grad! Alas, it’s time to get moving on my life’s to-do list.

college going on two years ago. Until this point, I had always let that be just one of my reasons to let my own goals slide.

I just graduated college, I have plennnnnnty of time to do [insert task].

I’m new to Los Angeles! I just need to get familiar with the city, that’s all.

Nobody ever gains success until they’re at least 25 anyways….

I’ll start [insert creative project] as soon as I’m settled into adulthood.

The list goes on.

I have been my own worst enemy from day one by not holding myself accountable. I based this on the reasoning that as a new grad, I needed to get some sort of “footing”, both mentally and physically in the city.

The truth is, time is ticking, and I have too much to do to let it slide by. If I want to turn my dreams into plans, I need to use every day to its fullest. No excuses.

Happy goal planning!

Back To Business

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There’s a photo on my inspiration board I made that simply reads, “It’s time to work a little harder.” Over the summer, my board sat tucked behind another piece of art in the corner of my room, amidst my unpacked boxes and bags from my August move.

Recently, I unearthed my board, and took a good look at that photo. This summer seems like a blur, but I’ve walked out of it not feeling like my best self. I’ve wanted to blame the heat, and work, and my move, but these things all boil down to excuses for not putting in the extra effort to achieve what I want.

For instance, I stopped writing for the blog because I was “too tired” or “didn’t feel in the mood”. Every day, I’d say tomorrow. The point of writing these posts was to motivate me to accomplish my dreams and pursue new interests alongside my cousin. It feels like when I stopped writing, I stopped thinking that I could do better.

In high school and college, I used to wonder what adults did in their free time. They didn’t have essays to write, practices to attend, plays to rehearse for, tests to study for. Now, as a graduate and semi-adult, I’ve forgotten what it was like to really give every day your all. I achieved so much with 24 hours, even while being a full time student with three part time jobs.

It’s still hotter than hell outside (fall doesn’t exist here), but I’m embracing the metaphorical season change with a new mindset. It’s alright to take a vacation and ease up on the throttle every now and then. What’s important is that you get back on the saddle and continue on your journey. The year isn’t quite over yet, and I want to spend the next few months refocusing my attention on my goals. It’s time to work a little harder, and I could not be more excited to do so!

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I Learned it From Ops

Often when I tell people my official title at work, they have a lot of follow up questions. Mainly: what do you do?

I am the Operations Assistant at a production company. I assist the Manager of Operations in, well, helping the building and everyone inside it function smoothly. I do everything from plunge toilets to ordering lunch to event planning to basic IT fixes and everything in between. The staff relies on my department for space scheduling, supply management, and to be fed every day.

Keeping it classy at work.

Keeping it classy at work.

Not surprisingly, there have been a lot of take-aways from having a job of this nature. I find that in my personal life, I’m more aware of what it takes to keep things running more smoothly.

Here are a few lessons learned from working in Operations:

1) It doesn’t do to be cluttered.
We are the dumping grounds for everyone’s broken everything. I can’t be wasting time rooting around for things, though. When duty calls and we’re in a pinch for time, I need to know where everything is. In the Ops office we keep things as neat as we can, and have a method to the madness.

2) Never be caught without.
I learned early on that it’s better to be overprepared than under. Every Monday, I take inventory of our entire office. That way, I always know how our supply levels are doing. And I always have at least one of something in reserve.

3) Prep ahead.
At any given moment, we have three pots of coffee brewed and ready to go in our staff kitchen. I always tell new interns that it behooves them to have everything ready to brew a new pot ahead of time – old coffee grinds should be immediately emptied, new ones should be ground, and the space should be cleaned. That way, if things get busy, they aren’t stuck trying to play catch up.

4) Know your schedule.
The office is constantly buzzing with people coming and going, and the demands for different spaces ebbs and flows on the hour. I start each work day by reviewing my own calendar, as well as the shared office calendar. I check with teams and confirm their plans, meetings, etc, and then do so again every few hours. It’s important to have an idea of what’s going on, so you’re never blindsided by a request.

5) Closing duties are just as important as opening ones.
Mornings find me filled with energy and a sense of purpose; I never have a problem checking my opening duties off my list. Evenings can be another story. With the end of the workday looming, I often want to cut corners and call it a day. The end of the night, though, is just as important as the morning, and it will only screw you over in the end if you decide to get lazy and not prepare for the next day.

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