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.

A conversation with two female veterans

When I first met Sara and Alicia, I got a sense of quiet strength and fierce confidence. The two thirty-something friends have both been through a lot in their lives, but refuse to let that stop them.

When I spoke to Sara and Alicia I was learning about a small, organic farm that they run together. It wasn’t until later that I learned the two young women are both veterans. It is that very humble and giving attitude that makes them both so special.

Sara, an air force veteran and military wife, lost her husband to cancer three years ago. It was during his sickness that Sara and her husband started looking in to a diet based in healthy foods- vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts and grains.

After her husband passed away, Sara purchased a farm, like the two of them had envisioned doing together. It was during this time that she began to realize the healing power of producing food. Working with her hands to grow food and take care of animals was beginning to help heal her physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Sara met Alicia during a conference for veterans learning how to farm. After the conference, Alicia packed her bags and moved states to work with Sara on the farm.

Both women have seen the struggles of veterans when returning from deployment. Alicia, a combat veteran, learned firsthand the transition to civilian life is tough. After losing military friends to suicide after deployment, she wanted to find a way to heal and eventually learned that agriculture was a way to do that, she said.

Today the operation is a small-scale sustainable farming business that has sheep, pastured chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs, beehives, apples, pears, strawberries, peaches, a garden full of vegetables and more.

Sara and Alicia have grown the operation to become a place of healing for others as well. They offer education and training opportunities to veterans who want to get involved.

“Seeing veterans connect with the land and build relationships with animals is magic,” Alicia said. “So much about being in the military involves destruction, but in agriculture you get to heal things.”

A look at some of the questions:

What is a challenge you have faced?

The industry can feel male-dominated. However, there is a growing trend of women farmland owners and we’re happy to be a part of that. It’s pretty special.

Advice you have to others:

Band together. A lot of times there is sexism in farming, or in any industry for that matter. It’s OK to have a voice.

Goals for the future:

Continue to work with the land and hope that other veterans will be able to reconnect with themselves through farming like we have.

Click here for more conversations.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I think this is something people think about (I know I do) well after they have “grown up” in the traditional sense.

By now I’m sure you all have seen the clip of Jim Carey giving a commencement speech at Maharishi University of Management. If by chance you haven’t, Carey tells a story of his father who could have been a comedian, but instead chose a conservative route and become an accountant. He then goes on to say that his father lost his job and the family fell on hard times.

Carey said he learned from his father that you can fail at what you don’t want to do so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.

So on this Thursday, I hope these words inspire you to keep in mind that yes, taking chances can be difficult/overwhelming/scary, but so is the thought of not being successful at something we don’t want to do. I know I needed the reminder.

xoxo,

A

Things are happening

Image

Taking a chance is all the rage. Wait, do people say “all the rage,” anymore? Almost everywhere you look you can find a quote, phrase or fortune cookie with words of motivation meant to inspire action.

You don’t have to look very hard to find twenty-something lists urging you to take advantage of life, to not think, but to act and just go for it.

There are the common phrases go a little something like In the end you only regret the chances you didn’t take and take a chance, life’s too short and take a chance, you never know what will happen. All of which are valid advice.

Well, I took a chance. I thought about it, but I didn’t really think about it. I mean I did, but I didn’t. Like, I did in theory, but I didn’t think what it would actually be like? Am I confusing you yet?

Part of the reason I have been lacking in blog posts lately is due to this said chance I took. About three weeks ago I was offered a field editor position at a new newspaper in a new city. Before I knew it, I gave notice at my job, found an apartment, packed all of my things and moved.

Four days after I found the apartment I wanted, I packed all of my things in to my vehicle and on the fifth day (my last day at work) I drove to the new city, picked up my keys and moved what I could before returning home. The next day, six days after I first viewed the apartment, I drove back to the new city with a caravan of family members who graciously helped me move and by that evening I was alone, unpacking in my new apartment.

Three days later I started my new job. To say things are happening is an UNDERSTATEMENT.

It is all so very new to me. I moved out of my parent’s house and in to my own place in a city.

I’m learning my about my new job, which is a writing position at an agricultural newspaper and a lot of that is researching the subject matter. I went from covering local news to specifically covering agriculture state-wide.

I’m learning how to live by myself. I know I’ve talked before about it being different to live in your home town and back with your family, but it’s also different to live by yourself in a new city.

I’m learning how to meet people. I forgot how easy it was to meet people in college, when you have 60 friends instantly because you live on a crowded dorm floor together. It’s not as easy post college.

Although I’m learning all of these things I am SO very excited. Don’t be fooled, I’m also terrified, but mostly excited and optimistic.

A specific quote by Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, comes to mind: “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.

I plan to hustle aka work my ass off to succeed at all of these and more. I’m sure I’ll have some posts about the hilarity of failures, successes, “firsts” and more.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride, friends. xoxo

Image

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

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.

Support follows tragedy

Image

I am blown away from the kindness that has been shown to my family after a death this week. Current friends, old friends, acquaintances and neighbors swarmed to offer sympathy.

One visitor, came over and asked a family member if she could mow her own lawn. Odd question, right?

She is an older lady and she explained that while she was growing up, when there was a loss people didn’t mow their lawn, work outside and tried to be as quiet as possible out of respect.

This was a tremendous show of respect from a neighbor.

There is so much sadness surrounding loss that it is incredible to see people come together, put aside differences and help put the broken pieces back together.

“Don’t pay no mind to the demons; They fill you with fear. The trouble it might drag you down. If you get lost, you can always be found. Just know you’re not alone; Cause I’m going to make this place your home. ”

5239062929_974844c790_z

On surviving your roommates

Image

Happy Saturday, everyone. I just wrote a guest blog post for a site called Teach me how to college, a place for future and current students to receive answers to all things college related. Posts range from avoiding the freshman 15 to deciding your major and where to live while in college.

My blog post includes advice you need to hear about surviving, living and getting along with your roommate(s). Read it right meow.

You just might find the secret to roommate happiness.

A conversation with a national service volunteer

Image

After selling her computer and car, Samantha packed everything she could fit in to an AmeriCorps-issued bag and boarded a flight to California.

Samantha is a 23-year-old who went to Indiana University and is now doing a program for a national service, AmeriCorps NCCC FEMA Corps. She is a project specialist.

While trying to narrow down a choice of major, she decided to join AmeriCorps and jumped in to the decision without hesitation. She had thought a lot about joining the Peace Corps when she was in high school, but AmeriCorps was an option that had a shorter commitment and seemed more lax.

“I couldn’t decide what I wanted out of life,” she said. “It was difficult for me to narrow down an area of interest for a major and I knew I didn’t want to work as a receptionist forever; service seemed like a viable option in the meantime, while I figured out what I wanted.”

Samantha said it has become clear what she wants and what she doesn’t want. Her goals are clear and she has decided on a major moving forward with her education.

Although she will be all over the United States for the next several months, Samantha is currently located in Queens, N.Y. She said a lot of what she is doing is paperwork.  She is doing paperwork to prepare the road system affected from hurricane Sandy. Even though it’s six months out from the disaster, there are a lot of things that need to be done.

“It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes, but this work still needs to be done,” she said.

Samantha said there have been mixed public views on what they are doing. She said a lot of people along the way to New York didn’t know how to take them.

“They would ask us what we’re doing and not really understand,” she said. “It’s been amazing because the second we got near the coast and mentioned we would be doing Sandy (hurricane) relief, people on street corners and Starbuck’s baristas would tell us thank you. They have been genuinely grateful.”

The best part of her job, she said, has been learning so much about herself. She said she didn’t expect it to be as hard as it has turned out to be.

“I’ve learned how I work with a team and how to define myself,” she said. “You’re in a situation when you’re in a uniform all day, everyday. You don’t define yourself by what you’re wearing or what you have.”

Along those lines, Samantha said the people she has met along the way have surprised her.

“You don’t have those defining characteristics, like an iPad or your Sperry’s, so you have to get to know people on a very basic level of being in the same program,” she said. “My best friend on my team was homeless for a period of time and I don’t think I would have been friends with him without this opportunity. The friendships I’ve made have been great.”

She described the hardest part has been being around the same group of people 24/7 saying, “The same four people share a room, beds, drive to work together, share a desk at work and do physical training together.”

She describes the scariest things she has ever done is volunteering for AmeriCorps.

“Volunteering for something and not really having any idea what it was going to be like was scary,” she said. “I had to leave all the comforts of home.  Even when I moved away from home before, I had a plan, freedom and my things. The not knowing of this program and jumping right in is scary.”

In her time off she has been writing, traveling. She said she has visited Central Park, the Museum of Natural History and more.

Best advice she has received while preparing AmeriCorps was from her father, who she described as her inspiration.

“Before I left, my dad told me ‘this is the time of your life. You’re going to make memories and meet friends you’ll keep the rest of your life,’” she said. “It’s true and I try to keep that in mind when I’m having a hard time.”

After Samantha finishes her time working for the service, she hopes to finish her degree and is thinking about focusing on pre-law, international studies or policy analysis. She said she started at Indiana University and would like to finish there, saying, ‘It has been fun to tell people I am from Indiana and went to IU, especially during basketball season.’

Advice Samantha has for those hesitant and scared to do something is not to overthink it.  She said it’s unnerving to take a leap of faith, but the feeling is liberating

“I went to somewhat of an extreme, gave up my job, apartment, relationships and sold my car, all to join a program I knew very little about,” she said. “I had hesitations and was scared but more than anything I felt relieved. Don’t overthink it, just jump.”

Advice she would give twenty somethings following their dreams is to go for it.

“What’s the worst that could happen? You could fail. Good. Fail. Fail hard, be miserable. Then get up, wipe your tears and do it again,” she said. “What’s the best that could happen? You could succeed and get everything you ever wanted. How will you know if you don’t do what you want to do and follow that dream? It’s worth it.”

Samantha also said people should be decisive and direct about what they want. She said making your own decisions and being as open and clear about things you want out of life will eliminate all the other clutter.

“How will anyone – a friend, your parents, your boyfriend, your coworkers, how will they know what you want if you don’t tell them?” she said. “People will recognize you know what you want and you go out and get it.”

A look in to a few of questions:
1.) Where do you get your inspiration? My dad. He’s always proud of me and works so hard. He is a great father who gives great advice. He is my mentor, friend and greatest inspiration.”

2.) Do you feel like a badass? (after laughing) I kind of do. A lot of what I’m actually doing is paperwork. It’s six months out of the disaster. These are a lot of the things that need to be done. I’m doing paperwork to repair the road system.

3.) What do you wish you had more time for?  It might be selfish, but I wish I had time to myself. I would like to have time to read a book, paint my nails, and take a little bit longer shower. I also hope to read a book I just ordered, “Frozen in Time,” a non-fiction book about WWII.

4.) What is your dream job or what are you interested in doing? I am very interested in law and policy analysis.

5.What is your proudest accomplishment? It will be finishing school. It’s something I’m passionate and thrilled I will be able to do. I’m dedicated, driven and looking forward to that moment. 

Check out other conversations in the series here.

Who says you can’t go home again?

I’m calling this chapter of my life Living With My Parents…Again.

No, this isn’t a written version of Matthew McConaughey’s Failure to Launch or Alexis Bledel’s Post Grad. There isn’t a witty narrator here glamorizing life as an aspiring writer and there isn’t a guy with Ryan Gosling’s face, David Beckham’s abs and Liam Neeson’s accent to sweep me off my feet.

I’m currently 23 and living in my old bedroom that is still painted a vibrant red and tropical orange, lit by a floor lamp with two out of five light bulbs working. My dog, Tess, is snoring and taking up 2/3 of my bed while I write on the remaining third.

When I accepted the job at the newspaper I was moving from a different state. I drove out of Pennsylvania on Saturday, got to my childhood home Sunday and started the new job  Monday. I put my things in my room and told myself it wouldn’t be long. Days turned in to weeks and weeks turned in to months, and I’m still living in my parent’s house.

I did everything I was supposed to. I excelled in high school; making sure I had the perfect balance of athletic and academic extracurricular activities. I went away to college and graduated with a journalism major and double minor in creative writing and english. I ended the summer of my senior year early and took an internship in a different state. I scavenged for writing jobs in New York and found it’s hard to get a foot in the door. I postponed New York and took a great newspaper job in my home state, which happened to be my local newspaper.

Why did I decide to go in to writing? Sometimes I know the answer and sometimes I don’t. Writing is hard. Writers are moody. Writers don’t make money. Yet there is something so powerful about finding the exact word, phrase for what you are trying to say.

As fate would have it my older brother, who has been living west for years, is back in our house, as well as he finishes the last stretch of his degree. It’s weird to be living in a house we grew up in when we are in our twenties. The dynamic is different, we no longer are teenagers who have curfew.

Although years have passed, we somehow are back under one roof. For better or worse I’m pretty much an optimist. I write a lot about experiences as a twenty something and this is one of them. No, my life isn’t completely together. I question my passion and profession at least once a week, but I keep coming back for more. The best thing about being a twenty something is knowing things don’t have to be perfect and my life doesn’t have to be together right now. I still have several more years in my twenties to work that out, right? Right.

Image

Ps. and I get to view sunsets like this in my background and see plays with my beautiful mother like I was able to do today.

Image