Work-life balance and learning to adult

Sometimes work consumes my life. I wake up at 6:30 a.m., travel for work, interview sources and take photographs and then travel home to write for a few hours. I repeat this throughout the week and sometimes even continue this Saturday morning to meet a deadline.

It really hit me that this was becoming a routine when I caught up with a friend over coffee. We each talked about what was new and as I was talking I realized everything I had to report was about work.

FullSizeRender

I don’t usually realize that this is happening until I go to write the title and date on an article and it’s almost a new month. Time is flying by and it’s because I am letting my life revolve so heavily around work.

I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to have more of a work-life balance and because I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I thought I would write about it here.

Extra hours don’t always mean better work

Trust me I understand working at home after work. I do it more often than I should, but I’ve found that my work isn’t necessarily any better. In fact, I usually have to edit it or add something else the next morning. I took an honest look at the work I was doing and once I realized the extra hours weren’t really doing me any favors, I decided to put more effort in getting things done during the day.

Break the iPhone habit

Are you constantly checking your phone for calls or emails from work? I know I sometimes am. I hate the feeling when I am checking my work email for the 10th time and don’t even mean to be. If you can, pick a time in the evening where you won’t check on work. I personally try to avoid looking at my email after 6 p.m.

Make your schedule work for you

I find that I am more productive in the morning. I can’t back this up with stats or scientific facts, but I can tell you I feel more focused in the morning. I try to do everything I can in that time period and leave some smaller assignments for the afternoon. By doing this, I feel more productive and find myself procrastinating less by looking at a cat video or a clip from last nights Dancing With the Stars episode.

Find out what you can do to leave work at work

Do yoga. Hang out with friends. Play with your pet. Do something that you like. I was seriously concerned when all I had to talk about was work. I took a look at my past month and realized I hadn’t been hiking or to yoga class, which are two things that I enjoy that help me clear my mind.

Organize. Organize. Organize. 

I spent an hour the other day organizing my desk and my work bag. Again, I don’t have scientific facts to back this up, but it made my work week better. By taking some extra time to organize instead of throwing it all in a pile on top of my desk, I was able to focus my time on what needed to be done, not searching for that one paper that should be in that one folder.

While I’m all for women kicking ass in the work world, I know that I personally don’t want my career to be all that defines me. When people ask me what I’ve been up to, I would like to have something more interesting to say than “oh, I’ve been working a lot.” And while these might not apply to everyone in their careers, I hope that it helps.

Now when people ask me what I’ve been up to, I can tell them about some of the other things I’ve been doing besides work.

What about you? Do these apply to you? Do you have anything to add? Teach me your ways.

Advertisements

The gift that keeps giving: reflections on Mother’s Day

I’ve been blessed in my life with two parents with an abundance of wisdom, advice and patience. Sure I may not have appreciated it as much when I was younger (specifically a teenager), but I always understood how lucky I was.

In honor of Mother’s Day I wanted to share some of the advice I’ve received from my mother.

I should point out my mother is a science teacher as well as a superhero so advice is something she is used to giving. I mean she teaches junior high students daily and that’s a superhero in my book.

She taught me to work hard

My mom has been a shining example of working hard. She has shown me that whether it is school or sports or work in general that putting in time and effort will pay off.

She taught me how to laugh

My mother has an amazing sense of humor. She continues to help me laugh through situations and reminds me to not take myself too seriously.

She taught me to be optimistic

She is always there to point out the positive in every situation. She showed me that being positive is infectious and spreads to others.

She taught me how to treat others

I remember at a young age my mother would show me how to treat others – my friends, my friends’ parents, families, strangers, waiters and others. I specifically remember her reminding me when I was younger to thank the parents of my friends whenever I was invited anywhere. She taught me to treat others how I wanted to be treated.

She taught me it’s okay to say f**k it. 

I can be a worrier. I get that from her. But she also gave me the ability to  let a stressful situation go. In fact if she knew I told others she said that it’s okay to say f**k it she would probably say, “Gads.” Have I mentioned how great my mother is?

She taught me it’s okay not to be okay 

She taught me that it’s okay to cry. She taught me it’s okay to be upset about something. She taught me that it’s okay to fail and that it really is all about what you do after you fail.

She taught me not to take anything or anyone  for granted

My mother lost both of her parents when she was young. I know on days like today she misses her parents more than words could describe. She has reminded me not to take what I have for granted and because of that I fully understand and appreciate everything I have.

She teaches me every day to enjoy life

She showed me to appreciate what I have and who I have to share it with. She has taught me to take chances and not take myself too seriously. She has taught me to help others when I can and to ask for help when I need it. She showed me to work hard but to be humble. She showed me all I have to be grateful for and how to enjoy it.

I am what my mother made me and for that I am so thankful for my mom today and every single day. I think this quote from Abraham Lincoln is fitting:

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

I want to give a special shout out to all the mothers out there. You’re all superheroes in my book. What about you? Did your mother or someone else in your life teach you some kind of lesson you still remember today? What was it?

Thoughts on Tuesday

DSC00752 w words

I don’t have anything earth shattering to write tonight, but I thought I would share something I have to remind myself constantly: it’s okay to turn your brain off sometimes.

If you’re like me, you over think things. I do this thing where I replay something I did, an interaction I had or something someone else said. I replay and overanalyze all of these things in my head.

Did they know I was kidding? 

What did they mean when they said that?

Well, that was awkward.

Sometimes I have to give myself a time out to remind myself to turn off the instant replay. I think it’s the writer in me, but I can be hard on myself.

Don’t over think it, I say to myself.

Nothing is worse than getting worked up over something that someone else forgot three minutes after it happened. Unless you’re John Travolta. Then everyone is still thinking about you calling Idina Menzel Adele Dazeem. Sorry, Mr. Travolta. Turn the instant replay reel off. Relax. Breathe. Give yourself a break. Hell, give yourself a pat on the back (okay, well a mental pat on the back).

You’re going to have award moments. You’re going to say and do things you wish you didn’t.

Try not to let that overwhelm you.

The take away:

If it’s stress you’re holding on to. 

Take deadlines as they come. Limit the amount of procrastinating you do if that will help you meet deadlines. If it’s something coming in the future you’re worried about, remind yourself just that – it’s in the future. You can’t worry about something that hasn’t happened yet.

If it’s embarrassment you’re holding on to. 

I say and do embarrassing things all the time. I sometimes let it get to me, but then I remember everyone else does this too. No use getting upset over something that already happened. It happened. accept that and move on.

If it’s frustration you’re holding on to

 

If you’re upset an individual, talk to that person. No use stewing over it in secrecy, letting the anger build while the subject of your frustration has no idea you’re feeling that way.

 

 

Here are some parting words from Tina Fey:

“You can’t be that kid standing at the top of a water slide, over thinking it. You have to go down the chute.”

 

 

 

Let it go, friends. Go down the water slide.

xoxo

A conversation with a rapper

Hip hop and rap music gets a bad reputation. Most mainstream contemporary rap lyrics today have a reputation of having superficial lyrics about partying, drugs, money and love.

That is not what Clarence “T.A.G.” Garrett is about. In fact, “T.A.G.” – an acronym for “Totally Against the Grain” is exactly what Garrett is trying to be.

The Indiana rapper describes his lyrics as faith-based. His beliefs are a big part of his music.

“Faith is a part of my life,” Clarence said. “I’ve always gravitated toward positive and encouraging music.”

Some themes listeners will find in his music include life, struggles people face, relationships and even tough subject matter such as suicide.

Advice he has is to find a common ground. He dedicated his second album, “One Love,” to encourage others to bridge the gap between their differences.

“If we find some kind of common ground then maybe, just maybe, we can change the world.”

Additional advice he has is to keep with it and believe in yourself.

It hasn’t been easy for T.A.G. He has been rapping since 2000 but just recently  started recording music with the support of a friend who believed he could do it.

“I was ready to believe in myself as much as my friend believed in me,” he said.

His songs are upbeat jams with optimist lyrics. Although some of life’s struggles are mentioned on the tracks, the lyrics are friendly for all ages.

Song writing has come easy to him over the years.

“I gravitate toward the music where you stop listening and your life for that moment freezes,” he said. “I’m attracted to that kind of writing.”

T.A.G. pulls inspiration from all genres. Although he is a hip-hop writer, he pulls inspiration from pop, country, rock and others. His goal is not to be the best hip hop artist but to be a very good song writer.

Overall, some of the best  advice he has is to keep a balance.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to balance life, work, music and family,” he said.

A look at some of the questions

What has the response been to your faith-based rap music?
It’s interesting because whenever people first hear the music they tend to think, ‘oh, it’s hip hop’ and then they realize it’s different. I think it encourages people.

What is something you’ve come to realize about the business?

People complain about the rap music that is out there in the market, but continue to buy it. You have to support music like this if you want it out there.

What have you enjoyed the most about making music? 
Meeting people. I’ve been able to travel and meet a lot of new fans.

Want to know more about T.A.G.? Visit his website here for more information.

Read other conversations here.

A conversation with a dietetic intern

Image

Alex, a down-to-earth recent college graduate, is no stranger to working for what she wants. When she started college she was  in an athletic training program before she realized she was more interested in nutrition and using it as a way to  help others. 

Fast forward and the determined twenty something not only graduated with a BS in Applied Health Science from Indiana University but snagged a competitive internship through Andrews University.

Alex packed up her things, moved to a new state without knowing anyone and is working as a dietetic intern at Atrium Medical Center.

As if moving and starting an internship isn’t enough, Alex is also working on her Masters in public health and adopted a cat named Myrtle (pretty awesome, right?).

Here’s what an average day looks like for Alex.

During each day she sees patients, who may have nutritional deficits. She also does diet counseling if a patient needs to be on a specific diet when they go home.

On a normal day she will see and talk with 5-8 patients, document everything and work on projects or case studies.

The best part of her internship has been learning the ins and outs of being a registered dietician. She is completing the internship to be eligible for the registered dietitian board exam. Her ultimate goal is to become registered and become a dietitian. 

“There’s only so much you can learn in class, so it’s great to get some experience before actually having a job,” she said.

The internship has also helped confirm her interests in the field. She has found out she enjoys the clinical side of dietetics because it’s more hands-on.

How does she stay motivated? By knowing the internship is not only a great experience but also going to help with her career.

“I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m not going to be an unpaid intern forever, even though it feels like it sometimes…” she said.

Her proudest accomplishment is moving somewhere out of her comfort zone.

“I’m very much a creature of habit, so I was really nervous and anxious about moving to Ohio, but I’m so proud of myself for doing it,” she said.

Since college her schedule has changed. She said she finds she needs to study a lot more now, not just cram. She also goes to bed and wakes up earlier than she used to, even on weekends.

With the whirlwind of change adjustment, the twenty something has plenty of good advice for those experiencing something similar.

Something that keeps her going is knowing she made someone’s life better. Helping patients makes Alex feel like she is making a difference.

Advice she would give to others who want to get in to a similar field is to not freak out about internships. Although they’re competitive, decent grades, a genuine personal statement and some experiences raises someone’s chances of getting one.

Career advice she would give to twenty somethings is to “find something you like, and do that.”

“How can you do something you don’t like everyday for the next 40-50 years and still be a decent human being,” she said. “I don’t think that’s possible, at least for me. I’d end up being a hermit or troll that lives under the bridge.”

A look at some of the questions

How do you stick with it?

I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m not going to be an unpaid intern forever, even though it feels like it sometimes. Eventually, I will get paid. (Hopefully!)

Best advice you’ve ever received on your major or your area of interest?

This counts towards dietetics and also life in general, but my dad has told me countless times “The world doesn’t revolve around you, Aggie.” I get so caught up in working and learning and thinking about the menu I need to write later I forget people don’t go to the hospital because they were bored that day and thought they’d come visit. They’re there because of a severe illness, and they need help recovering. That kind of puts things in perspective. The first priority should be helping patients, and that’s something I have to remind myself often. (Sidenote: I don’t know why my dad calls my Aggie, but he’s called my that since I was born. It’s a weird nickname). 

What is your dream job?

As of right now, my dream job would be working with individuals struggling with eating disorders. I have a minor in psychology, and I really enjoyed those classes, so pairing psychology and nutrition would be a great asset when working with eating disorders.

Scariest thing you’ve ever done?

I accidentally walked into a tuberculosis patient’s room without a mask! (TB is contagious.) But probably moving to Ohio by myself. Before this year, I’d never lived anywhere where I didn’t know a single person, so that was a big deal for me. I’m only about three hours away from my family and friends, but I’m in a different state, so it definitely feels farther away.

Hardest part of your internship?

Getting up at the crack of dawn, and medications. I can never remember all the medications.

 What will you be doing after your internship?

After the internship, I’ll take a board exam to become registered, and hopefully find a job somewhere. I’d take a job anywhere at this point, as long as it pays me. 

Where do you see yourself in two years?

I should be an RD by then, if all goes according to plan, and hope to have a job in an area of dietetics I enjoy. I’ll also be finishing my master’s, which is exciting.


Read other conversations in the series here.

What you need to know about writing (as told by my former professor)

images-2

Although being a reporter on deadline can be stressful, sometimes newspaper reporters, photographers and editors get a break to be recognized for their hard work.

Saturday I attended the Hoosier State Press Association Foundation Better Newspaper Contest banquet. I didn’t personally snag an award this year but two of my coworkers did and our newspaper received third place for “Best Online Site/Webpage,” for a total of six awards.

Before the awards luncheon however, I was able to have a one-on-one coaching session with an editor as well as attend two workshops. One of the workshops was with a former professor and editor of mine.

I forgot how good she was as what she does. She commands attention, has humor and teaches something to everyone she speaks to.

Her workshop was called “5 things I learned about writing (After I thought I knew it all).” She makes the point that after college we all have that moment we think we know everything and then we find (usually abruptly) we don’t.

1.) It all starts with a great idea 

It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone and do something that comes easy to you. She noted that people will grow the most by “constantly do a story you believe is beyond you.”

She also noted when you finally do challenge yourself to do something bigger, the difficulties will frustrate you because you’re used to being the expert at what you do.

2.) Concrete words can transport reader into your story

Using concrete words will not only allow readers to easily follow the story, but it will also paint a picture. 

“Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific words or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent…” -George Orwell

Your not dumbing it down, your finding the right, short words, she said.

3.) “Direct quotes are seriously overrated” 

I struggle on this one. Sometimes I quote people too much. She reminded me that quoting isn’t great story telling and should be used to add to the story, not carry it.

4.) Nobody writes a great first draft 

She said writers have to lower their standards, get something on-screen and then they’ll have more time to polish it.

Many writers have said a different version of this. Hemingway is by far my fave saying, “The first draft of anything is shit.” 

5.) Your words have great impact 

Be accurate, fair, balanced and consider the impact of your words. You have an obligation to do the story justice.

She reminded us our words have an impact and before we publish something, we should think of that impact. If it passes that, it’s okay, she said.

Stephen King’s On Writing

Image

This weekend I started reading Stephen King’s memoir, “On Writing.” I’m only 50 some pages in and the book is already full of wisdom/good advice.

Three pieces of advice that stick out in my mind are (I’m sure I’ll be adding more as I continue to read the memoir):

1.) Write your own story

King recalls showing a story to his mother. He had copied most of it from something else and when his mother read it, she told him to write one of his own.

“I remember an immense feeling of possibility at the idea, as if I had been ushered into a vast building filled with closed doors and had been given leave to open any I liked,” he said. “There were more doors than one person could ever open in a lifetime, I thought (and still think.)”

2.) There is no Idea Dump, no Story Central no Island of the Buried Best Sellers

King notes that good story ideas seem to come from nowhere.

“Your job isn’t to find these ideas but to recognize them when they show up.”

3.) rejection letters are a sort of rite of passage

As King received rejection letters he put them all on a single nail in his room. When the nail wouldn’t support the weight of the rejection letters, he replace the nail with a spike and kept writing.

A story he wrote was rejected from a magazine and in red ink were the words “not fur us, but good. You have talent. Submit again.” Years later he found it and resubmitted it to the same magazine and it was purchased.

“One thing I’ve notice is that when you’ve had a little success, magazines are a lot less apt to use the phrase, ‘Not for us.”

Thanks for the life advice, Ashton

Image

I will admit I watched the last 45 minutes of the Teen Choice Awards tonight. I turned it on just in time to hear Ashton Kutcher give some advice when he accepted the ultimate choice award.

Kutcher, 35, joked that he had received the “old guy award,” but the crowd didn’t stop cheering as he said this.

He spoke longer than anyone else accepting awards and took the opportunity to give some advice to viewers.

He left those watching with three pieces of advice:

1.) Opportunity looks a lot like work

Kutcher stated that: “I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. Every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job before I had my next job.”

2.) Be sexy (read: Be smart. Be thoughtful and be generous.)

“The sexiest thing in the entire world is being really smart. And being thoughtful and being generous. Everything else is crap. I promise you. It’s just crap that people try to sell to you to make you feel like less. So don’t buy it. Be smart. Be thoughtful and be generous.”

3.)  Build your own life

He also mentioned Steve Jobs. Kutcher portrays the Apple co-founder in the upcoming film, “Jobs.”

“Steve Jobs said when you grow up you tend to get told that world is the way that it is.”

Kutcher then said: “Everything around us that we call life was made up of people who are no smarter than you. You can build your own life that other people can live in. Build your life, don’t live it, find your opportunities and always be sexy.”

I don’t care if you’re an Ashton Kutcher fan or not, that was some pretty great advice.

Advice from high schools seniors

Image

I spent the past two weeks traveling to local high schools. My assignment was to interview seniors who have overcome a hardship and are about to graduate. To be honest I wasn’t thrilled to be writing six variations of the same story, but I found the assignment to be a joy.

The 12 seniors I talked to had gone through a hardship ranging from the loss of a parent, a pregnancy and depression to learning time management and adjusting to a new school. The following items are five things I learned during this assignment.

1.) It’s never too late to get what you want 

Two students were on a fast track to not finish high school. During their junior year they decided to take credit recovery classes and change their attitudes. One of the students earned 18 credits his senior year to graduate. The other student is the first in her family to graduate high school. Both students changed their lives around late in their high school career.

2.) You’ll have to work for it 

Two students from another school were balancing high school classes, online college classes, community clubs, school clubs and athletics. They gave up the normal senior year experience. On the nights other seniors were hanging out with friends, eating at IHOP or watching a movie, they were studying and volunteering in clubs that resulted in both students getting in to their first choice college and receiving scholarships.

3.) Don’t be afraid to let your feelings out

After the loss of a family member, a student said he was tempted to keep his feelings to himself, but talking to others helped him heal and cope with what he was going through. His advice to others is to talk to someone.

4.) Don’t let stress consume you

During her junior year of high school a senior started to feel stressed. She was overwhelmed by her academics, high school involvement and felt like she wouldn’t be able to succeed. She described the time as a low point. After missing 14 days of school she had to make up all her schoolwork in a one week time period. She said she got through it by her mother and guidance counselor and changed her schedule around so she wouldn’t feel that consuming stress again.

5.) You have friends, family who care for you and will help you

When a student found out she was pregnant she was overwhelmed by support she received. After she gave birth, members of her church volunteered to watch her daughter during the day while she attended high school. Most nights she stays up late doing homework and sometimes goes to school after only 3 to 4 hours of sleep. Her advice to others is there are people who will help you get through anything.

Image

Make your work week better

Image

Yes we all love the weekend; a time to do anything we want, even if what we want is to not do anything. But weeks can drag on and become dull if you’re constantly looking at Friday as the light at the end of the tunnel.

So take a breath, relax and try to view the week in a positive light (not as a soul-sucking time gap before the weekend.)

1.) Make plans
Making plans during the week can help make your work week more exciting. Grab dinner with a friend or visit a community event after work.

2.) Exercise
Although it’s hard to want to go to the gym after working all day, it really is a good stress reliever. It’s easy to dread and talk yourself out of it, but it will make you feel better after.

3.) Avoid daily naps

I love naps and sometimes they are necessary after a long day or a night of little sleep.  But it’s easy to get in a routine during the week of waking up, working, and napping before going back to sleep . Try not to let the days blur in to one another.

4.) Go outside

No really, go outside right now. We sleep inside, work inside (most of us) and usually it’s dark when we get home. Getting outside for a little bit can be an easy way to unwind. Take a walk, read a book or do something less cliche-sounding.

5.) Call family, friends

Give family members and friends a ring when you aren’t able to visit them on a weekday. It makes the ordinary day better; so vent, catch up and talk to others. Who else will listen to you complain about an annoying coworker?  You’ll catch yourself smiling through the phone.

Image