i got way too excited about this:

Check this out! This girl, Kelly, hated her desk job, so she left it to become a personal trainer! And she writes a blog about it. How about that?

I found out about her through one of my very favorite blogs, Kath Eats Real Food. Kath writes a great blog about eating “real food,” exercising, and living a healthy lifestyle. She and her husband are both amazing cooks, making so much of what they eat from scratch. She takes really lovely photos of every single solitary thing she puts into her mouth and blogs about each meal. She also writes about her daily exercise and her life as a full-time student, studying to be a dietitian. I love to read her, she’s an inspiration. AND her husband had a desk job that he didn’t like, but he did have a love for cooking and baking bread; so now he bakes in the bakery at their local Earth Fare store! Apparently he adores his new job.

I just love to hear stuff like that.

It’s people like Kelly, the personal trainer, and Kath and her husband by whom I am so encouraged on this journey. Because, sure, tons of people have desk jobs and tons of those people don’t care for their desk jobs. But to automatically assume that you’re just trapped in a particular lifestyle forever is so limiting. Regular people make big changes for themselves all the time. You don’t have to be a genius, you don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be lucky. If you don’t like your job, YOU DON’T HAVE TO KEEP DOING IT. You don’t!! You just don’t.

Now, I realize that our current economic climate makes this a somewhat controversial time to be complaining about one’s job. To have a job at all right now is certainly a blessing. I remind myself of that daily. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t dream and plan for something more. No one should be unhappy if they have the tools and opportunities to change their circumstances. Not everyone has those tools and opportunities, but I do. And it would be a huge mistake not to take advantage of them just because it seems like it might be hard.

That’s me, Kevin and Randy last night at dinner. Daniel took the photo.

The little dinner for Randy was a really fun time. I made chutney and cheddar stuffed chicken, with bacon onion tomato potatoes, and Kev made a yummy salad. The chicken and potatoes were supposed to be a relatively easy recipe, but I was pretty stressed out the whole time I was cooking. Ha. Kevin was incredibly helpful throughout the whole process, which was fantastic. He was one step ahead of me, in fact. The meal turned out fairly tasty, although I don’t know that I’d make it again. The potatoes were my favorite part.

Randy brought over a (gigantic) crusty loaf of good bread and Daniel brought over some wine. We had a nice time catching up on our weeks, chatting about old stuff, making fun of people, and imagining what Randy’s new life in Cali will be like.

These boys, Randy and Daniel, are people I’ve been friends with forever. I’ve lived with both of them, dated one of them, vacationed with them, spent New Year’s Eves and Fourth of Julys with them, met their families, been to their hometowns, seen them both at some of their happiest times and some of their most miserable times, seen them both sicker than sick, I’ve eaten hundreds of meals with them, seen hundreds of movies with them, had dozens of fights with them, and taken them for granted way too many times. They’re two of my very best friends. I was thinking last night after they left our apartment about how I sometimes wish I had more “old” friends – people from high school or even before that who I am still really close to. I don’t have many of those. But I realized that Randy and Daniel are those “old” friends to me. We met each other just months after we graduated high school, still wet behind the ears with our adolescence.

So Randy will move away tomorrow, after living in New York for over ten years. For those ten years he’s been someone I’ve spoken to almost every day, someone I’ve known is always a subway ride (and for years, a block or even a room) away. His girlfriend in is grad school on the west coast, his brother lives there, and he’s ready for a change. Off he goes!

I’m so excited for him because I know it’s going to impact him in positive ways. The weather alone is going to make him happier, I’m sure of it. I also think he’s it’s gonna be really good for him to have a whole different lifestyle and pace available to him. He’s gonna learn to surf. I think that’s so awesome. He doesn’t know precisely yet what kind of job he’ll take. And that, in and of itself, is scary but exciting.

I will certainly miss him. But I know we’re gonna be friends for our whole lives. I don’t say that in a cheesy, optimistic way. And frankly, I’m not someone who has many friendships-for-our-whole-lives, so I don’t even say it from experience. However, the simple fact remains that I’ve known him far too long and been through far too many ugly experiences with the asshole to do anything other than know him forever. We’ve seen each other grow up. It’s been quite a time. I wouldn’t change it for anything.

ANYWAY. Back to finding my bliss. I didn’t find my new calling as a chef last night while cooking chicken. But I did realize that three of the people who are some of the most important to me – Kevin the boyfriend, Daniel the best friend, and Randy the best friend – have all undergone dramatic professional and lifestyle transformations in the last 3 weeks. Crazy, right?

I’ve actually asked them to write a little guest blog post about it. So look for that in the coming days (or months – since two of the three of them are notorious procrastinators).

Kevin, Randy and Daniel last night. Daniel’s making his best face.

Desk job update: It’s Friday. Who cares.

in the kitchen

Since I moved in with Kevin and I now have a large kitchen at my disposal, I’ve been cooking and baking a lot more. It’s so nice. One of my secret goals for 2008 was to find more time and space to cook. I don’t know if I found more time, but I definitely found more space.

Kevin has recently returned to the 9-5 workforce, after freelancing for a year and a half, and now that he’s waking up at the same time I am in the mornings, we’re making breakfast every day! I love it. Sometimes he cooks, sometimes I do. It’s fun and I love being able to use fresh, natural ingredients.

When I make dinner, I just do really simple stuff. Mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing. My only speciality is Taco Night. I love Taco Night. It’s like Nacho Night. Almost exactly.

Around the holidays, I baked. Baked and baked cookies, brownies, and treats of all kinds. It was a blast, but it was also exhausting. I would spend what ended up being hours in the kitchen. I ended up with a lot of yummy treats that I gave away as gifts. Like, I made these three jars of treats for some co-workers:

I really enjoyed the whole process. There was something so simple and relaxing to me about each step, even if I was constantly covered in some kind of food.

Still, it surprised me to find “baker” on my list of daydream jobs. I’ve never considered myself someone who would ever dream of pursuing a paycheck in Food. But it makes perfect sense.

As a former fat girl, I know a LOT about food – all kinds: healthy AND incredibly unhealthy. And I know how good tastes. All of it. You don’t have to have been fat to know and love food, but it just so happens that I was. And it didn’t hurt my knowledge base, is all I’m sayin.

Along those lines, as someone who lost 115 pounds, I also know a lot about food from another perspective – how to prepare it so you’re not consuming as many calories, how much of each food group a person needs to eat to be healthy, and how to eat less of it so you can fit into your pants.

It’s something to keep in mind, for sure, my relationship with cooking and eating, as a way to journey further away from my desk job.

We’re having two close friends over tonight. It’s goodbye dinner since my good friend, Randy, is moving to California on Saturday! (Aack!) I’m making something out of a new cookbook. I’ll let you know how it goes.

today at the gym

At the gym on the ol’ lunch break. Those are some ratty lookin gym shoes, huh?

I realized today that I do a certain subconscious thing every time I walk into the gym. I take a big deep inhale and let out a nice relaxing exhale as I round the corner into the locker room.

Maybe it’s that the idea of being with the peace and quiet of my body for the next hour is relaxing to me, and a sense of calm washes over me habitually. OR maybe I’m purposefully trying to let go of my day, breathe out some toxins, and center myself before my workout. Either way, chicken or egg, I noticed that I do it for the first time today. And I’m glad I do it. I like it.

Lately, I watch all the fitness trainers at the gym, wondering if I would like to do their job, if they enjoy the work, if they set out to do this on purpose or just ended up here. One of the trainers approached me last week while I was doing some stuff in one of the mat sections. She was very sweet and she asked me if I wanted to receive a phone call from her later about a new dance class she’s putting together. I’m usually short and detached when approached at the gym, but I decided to be really nice to her, smile, and write my name on her list. Why not, I thought. I could be in her position someday. And maybe the class will be really fun or a good opportunity for meeting like-minded fitness people.

Anything to open the next door and the next one…

This is a cart across the street from my office. These guys are the best. They make mornings more tolerable. I don’t order something from them every day or even every week, but sometimes I’ll stop by and get “one egg, one piece of cheese, on whole wheat toast, please.” And it’s GOOD.

…I wonder how they feel about their jobs? If they’re happy or sad or if this is just an inbetween thing.

Don’t be surprised if you start seeing posts about how I’ve stopped people on the street to photograph them and interview them about their lives and their work. Ahem.

perspective

My good friend, Jess, and I exchanged a quick email a few minutes ago. I told her I’m just gonna start yoga teacher training. Just to get some momentum going. She wrote:

“I think you should definitely train to teach yoga — you sound happiest when talking about yoga and improv… imagine a life where that was your JOB. ”

It’s great to have friends who will reflect that stuff back to you. Because I don’t always pay attention to it, but she’s right. I am happiest doing that stuff. Hmm..

Friends rule.

(Thanks, Jess.)

yoga mornings

I try to do a little bit of yoga in the mornings before work a few times a week, and then a longer session on the weekends. I haven’t been practicing regularly for that long – maybe 6 months or so? But I love it. It’s one of my current addictions, along with Chipotle (ate there 4 times in 5 days last week – eep!), and the tv show, House. (I won’t tell you how often I watch it. It’s embarrassing.)

I took a 90 minute class on Sunday, which was fantastic, but hard. And I haven’t done any yoga since then. So this morning, I decided to find 20 minutes to practice to a podcast from Yoga Download dot com (I love this site). I felt much happier and lighter when it was over. And then I decided to do something I’ve been wanting to do for the last few days; I sent this note to my yogii friend, Jen:

Hiiiii Jeennnn,

Thanks again for that great yoga class on Sunday. I felt amazing all evening after that. I don’t do much Vinyasa so it was a welcome challenge and a treat.

Anyway, I think I mentioned to you – I’m on a quest to “find my bliss,” as it were, and turn it into a paycheck eventually. I have another year or so to finish out at my current desk job, but I have been thinking for quite some time now about training to teach yoga, even if the training takes me a long time because I have to do it nights/weekends.

I’m not sure what will come after getting certified to teach, how it will fit into my life in the future, but I’m not gonna worry about that part of it now – focus on the journey, you know.

So, I’m wondering if you might be available to get a drink or lunch or dinner sometime in the next month or two so I can pick your brain about it all – get any advice you might have, or recommendations on good places to train, what I should be looking for in a program, how realistic it is to do it while I’m still working full time, etc. Obviously, I have a ton of questions. But I also just want to speak to someone who’s done it about their experience.

Let me know if you have any time to chat with me. And don’t be scared. 😉

Thanks again for the class.

Love,
Jen

Eep! Scary and exciting. I’m not sure if I’m rushing into this, but I figure I might as well just keep taking steps forward, until there seems like a reason to stop. >grin<

My good friend Keith took this photo of me performing in an improv show in November. Keith is a brilliant photographer, a talented improviser, a great guy and a good friend.

He’s one of those people who already has the expertise to parlay his hobby into a daydream job. I’m insanely jealous that his skill and dedication have combined in such a way that he now has this amazing talent in his back pocket. When I first met him he was taking captivating little photos on a dinky pocket camera. Now his camera makes very expensive-sounding clickity noises. You know that means quality.

Anyway! I’m leaving work for the day in 10 minutes. Another desk job day down, and I’m off to improv practice with my team, The Baldwins. Thank god. I need to laugh and hang out with those weirdos.

It’s tough today. Mondays usually are, cliche or no. It feels so tedious to complain about the…tedium. But I want to scream it from the rooftops.

One of the difficult things about working at this particular desk job is that it’s at a law firm. I once worked at a university and that was a bit easier. There wasn’t the stress and the urgency that there is at a law firm. The university had its own pitfalls, of course, which I did not handle well: the slow pace, the dress code, the way the employees lived, breathed, ate, and shat their deep love for the school.

I am not above noticing that perhaps my complaints and struggles are not the fault of the desk job lifestyle itself, but a result of me simply being a Big Fat Complainer. Or at the very least, a result of me simply not being cut out for a desk job. I’ll go with the latter.

Since I can remember, I have not been good at being told what to do. I’m sure this fact will not come as a big surprise to those who know me well. Or those who know me barely.

I am autonomous to a fault. I was an only child. (Leave now if you want.) And my mom was 19 when I was born. She worked full time as a high school teacher when I was growing up (she’s now a high school guidance counselor) and she always encouraged me to do things on my own. I remember calling to make my own doctor’s appointments at age 12. I hated it beyond measure at the time, of course.

But it left me with a certain moxy. And that has gotten me through the most painful, difficult times in my life – like losing 115 pounds, returning to college to get my degree after dropping out in a fit of depressed misery, and climbing out of a painful blackhole in my early 20s that I would not wish on my worst enemy.

So here we are. My greatest strength might also be my greatest weakness. At least in the office workplace.

Tomorrow will be easier. Tuesdays always are. Today, I want to rip the hairs out of my arms.

(p.s. All the pics on the blog so far are from my blackberry, but I’m getting a new camera this week! Quality to come…)