Text message from Faryn over the weekend: p.s. I got an ICED coffee – sprrrrring has sprrrrrrrung!

You know it’s spring in New York City by a lot of different things – the blossoming flowers, the flowers the city shoves into the park soil to give the appearance of blossoming flowers, people in light jackets, dresses, shoes with no socks, dogs with no sweaters. And perhaps my most favorite marker that spring has arrived is the resurfacing of iced coffees. Maybe this is true of other cities too, but I find that New Yorkers drink iced coffee like it’s medicinally required for human survival. And why not? It’s delicious. My friend Adam’s mom calls it the perfect beverage and I agree completely, despite the odd looking photo above.

I’ve discovered that one aspect of starting a sweets business is taking gorgeous photos of your sweets. We don’t plan to open a store front any time soon. We will start small – selling our stuff at flea markets, festivals, online through etsy at first and eventually through our own website. If that goes well, we’ll try to get some wholesale orders with local cafes. So having lovely photos that will represent the sweet treats online is going to be a cornerstone of our business.

And lemme tell you. I don’t take great photos.

Now, to be fair, the photo above was taken with my blackberry, but even when I’m using my fancy new camera, I seem to miss the mark. I try different settings, I think about good pictures and what qualities they possess. And still I end up with something bearing an eerie resemblance to the 500 blind photos I took on a trip to Europe at age 13. My mother was infuriated when, upon our return home, she spent God knows how much money developing roll after roll of my film, half of which held a variety of photos of my adolescent thumb.

Faryn took a bunch of photos of a cutting board full of chopped chocolate on Sunday afternoon while we were baking. They’re really nice photos. “Good picture taking is all about composition, Jen.” Ugh.

For the time being, she’s probably going to have to be the one wielding the camera when it comes to capturing images that will best sell our wares. But I’ll learn! I will.

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a little bit of news

About two months ago, I had an idea. And then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I stayed up late the night it popped into my head, excitedly gabbing it to Kevin, who was supportive and helpful as always. When I woke up the next morning, I completely doubted the whole thing – my master plan suddenly seemed ridiculous. Since then, I’ve been visiting every place between those two extremes, but my solution is to simply move forward. And I’m excited.

So, my friend Faryn and I are starting a sweets company.

It makes me smile to see that written out.

We don’t exactly know what we’re doing. Neither of us have ever owned or operated a small business before, nor have we done a long list of other things that might relate to the task. But we’re doing it, even so.

Faryn and I have worked together two or three times a week for almost five years as members of our sketch comedy group, Harvard Sailing Team. She’s smart, funny, and pretends to be naive. She’s also organized to a fault, detail-oriented, and has a great creative style.

Despite our unbelievably different personalities and my tendency to tease her relentlessly, we make good partners.Β  We solve problems similarly and our strengths seem complimentary. Still, I don’t know how she puts up with me. On second thought, I don’t know how I put up with her. You can meet her at her new blog called Fear Of Missing Out.

So far, creating this biz is terrifically fun. We’ve been testing recipes and brainstorming taglines. It has consumed a good deal of our free time – full Sundays, some weeknights – but I haven’t minded it at all. The mental space at the desk job, since I now sit in the reception area and answer the phones all day, is a blessing. I’ve been able to spend some time each workday researching other small businesses like ours, learning things about baking that I didn’t know before, and communicating non-stop with Faryn about every single detail.

I am looking very much forward to documenting this process as we go. We’re obviously still in the very early stages and it seems like a good story to let unfold in real time.

I spent the day at jury duty for a federal court today. Yikes. I had to go in last Monday too.

There’s something really soothing about the change of pace that these two Mondays have been. I have rather enjoyed being collected in a room full of silent strangers – no phones, just quiet. By the end of a full day, strangers will talk to each other.

Also, the cafeteria makes a nice chicken sandwich.

I spent a good two hours of the day walking around outside the courthouse. They kept telling a group of us that they didn’t need us for another hour, so we could go do whatever we wanted. But I was in Central Islip, Long Island – two hours from my apartment. So I just walked around.

I got home much later than I expected to, but still early enough to have a night to myself. What heaven that is, an unexpected night off. I went for a jog, did some yoga, and got a slice of pizza for dinner. Things have been a new kind of busy lately.

abuzz

I’m in a really good mood today. The sun is shining in New York City and it’s warm and springy. I can’t exactly tell so from where I’m sitting at my windowless desk job, but I know it’s out there. I plan to go on a nice, relaxing jog in Central Park on my lunch break and then leave work at 7pm on the dot tonight so that I can enjoy the lovely evening with the rest of the townspeople. I’m beyond jealous of anyone who has the day off today. Soon, my friends, I will be able to walk outside whenever I want to. I’m not exactly sure when soon will arrive, but I hope it’s soon.

I have some fun news to share, but -aaack- it has to wait. I know, I know, it’s cruel for me to put it out there and take it back just like that, but if I don’t say something now, I’m going to burst. Basically, I’ve been working on a secret project for a few weeks and it’s been coming together a bit more concretely in the last few days; I want to starting sharing it with you guys as it unfolds. I’ll do so early next week. Eep!

I hope you can find some time to enjoy the sunshine today. πŸ™‚

an excerpt from…

CNN Commentary By Peter Bregman:

No Job? Create Your Own!

Companies aren’t hiring, they’re firing.

And when eventually they do emerge from this recession, those companies that are still solvent won’t rehire to previous levels. Over the years, companies have gotten leaner as employees have gotten more productive. And they won’t rehire as much when times improve because they’ll want to keep their profit margins high. It’s quite possible that the age of big business tending to thousands of workers is coming to a close.

Looking for a job might make you feel better, but it won’t pay your mortgage. Don’t waste your time looking for a job that isn’t there.

There is another way. It’s the great opportunity of our time. For many people, it’s the only one. And it might actually make you happier than you were at the old job.

Start a business.

Wait, hold on. Before you get all angry at how out of touch I am, hear me out.

In a New York Times article, “Weary of Looking for Work, Some Create Their Own,” Ryan Kuder who started a Web design company after unsuccessfully looking for work for months said, “It’s probably easier right now to find a problem, solve it and charge people than it is to find a job.”

Easier doesn’t mean easy or painless. Any way you cut it, these are terrifying times we live in. And starting a company is a risky proposition. But this is one time when looking for a job might be riskier.

photo by Jenna Park

I have fallen in love with Mark Sopchak and Jenna Park’s blog, Sweet Fine Day. They are a Brooklyn-based husband and wife team who owns and operates their own small business, which offers “a distinctive line of handmade sweets.” It’s called Whimsy & Spice.

They started the blog just over a year ago, in part, as a way to document the exciting and scary process of launching their business. So, as you can imagine, I’m captivated by each and every entry. After hopping around the site a little bit, I decided to start from the beginning and read the entire thing. I’m only halfway through the very first month, but I cannot wait to watch unfold what has become a successful sweets company in a little over a year.

see you later, flerd the nerd.

This dashing young man took his final breath on Sunday afternoon. We had him put to sleep.

After discussing our various options with the vet a few weeks ago, we decided that Floyd almost certainly had cancer – the massive tumor growing in his abdomen was too large to be anything but. And it was going to be too expensive and invasive for them to officially diagnose it. So we decided to let it run its course and take him home until it was time.

The doctor gave us some steroids to give to make him more comfortable – chewable tuna flavored tablets that he LOVED. He ate them twice a day and his condition actually improved at first. I didn’t have any big ideas that he would ultimately survive this whole mess, but it was nice to see him more active, lively and interested in food for a while.

He spent the next week or so snuggling with his brother, enjoying his meals and medicine snacks and lounging around. Whenever we had time, we were sure to let him wander around the front yard during supervised cat outings, which has always been one of his very favorite things in the world. He loved to feel the sun and the breeze and to watch the birds and plants.

After a week of happy improvement on the tuna ‘roids, he started to develop some kind of cold or sinus infection. Really funny multiple sneeze bouts ensued. Ten or fifteen sneezes in a row. Then his right eye started watering and never stopped. It got worse and worse. The vet said we should give him some antibiotics once a day, the steroids were probably weakening his immune system, she said. The antibiotics only cost a few bucks and she thought they’d make him more comfortable. So I figured, why not.

But two days later, he took a drastic turn for the worse. It was so sad. He was his normal self on Saturday morning. Luckily we’d gotten a chance to spend some of the morning outside in the front yard. It was a beautiful day and we let our other cat, Chawser come out too. Chawser’s a scaredy though, so he was very timid. Eventually Floyd coaxed him out of the house and they got to hang out outside, basking in the sunshine, which they’d never done together before. We took lots of photos, just because the light was so lovely, not realizing this was the last time Floyd would look healthy and alive.

When we got home Saturday night, he’d done a complete 180. He’d thrown up, quit eating and wouldn’t move from his spot on the bed for the next 18 hours. He couldn’t drink, wasn’t interested in food, didn’t use the cat box. I knew in an instant that this was the end. It was definitely a shock – he’d seemed so alive that very morning. But I wasn’t going to wait it out. No eating, no drinking, no moving = no good.

We went to the vet with a very sick cat in tow the next afternoon. He was more lethargic, sad and sickly looking than I’d ever seen him. It was very hard. I cried the whole car ride there. Kevin and I were both very sad.

We were with him in the room when they put him down. He looked so peaceful and sweet laying there as he took his last breath, my hand on his sweet little back. I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone. The vet was amazing – so nice and genuinely sad for us and for Floyd. There are moments when all the drama and the tears seem so silly, but you can’t stop them from coming. After he died and the vet left the room, telling us to take as long as we needed, I sobbed, hard. It truly sucked.

I felt a huge relief when we finally left the vet’s office. The stress I’d been feeling knowing he was so uncomfortable, even for 12 hours, had been exhausting, as had been the weeks knowing this moment was inevitable. In his final moments, I would have done anything I could have to make that cat feel better – seeing him so miserable was agonizing. I can’t even imagine the intensity of being a parent.

It’s been an odd few days around our house since Sunday. We’ve gone from 4 personalities to 3 and there’s a noticeable quiet. Chawser seems confused and a bit lonely. He’s been sleeping with us for the last few nights, which he never did when his brother was alive.

I will miss that little cat. He was only 5 years old and has been my dear friend since he was just a baby. He was honestly the weirdest cat I’ve ever known. He caused me more strife than I care to admit – breaking valuable posessions, making lots of noise, being very demanding and bullheaded. But he was also incredibly sweet and gentle when we wanted to be. He was playful, loved to be outside, loved to be smooched and snuggled – on his own terms of course. He played fetch like a dog and always greeted me at the door, even if he had to drag himself out of a dead sleep to be there in time. He slept with me every single night for most of his life. It is bizarre now to fall asleep without him laying on my right ankle. Watching him get sick was surreal and I’m truly glad it’s over, but I will miss him a lot. I love him.

Anyway, onward, yes? We’re going to get a new one of course. If I could talk the boyfriend into two more, or one cat and one dog, I would. But that’s not gonna happen. So we’ll get another cat, an older one who needs a home, who will be thrilled to have a (very energetic) brother. He won’t be Floyd, but I know I’ll come to love him just the same.

These damn pets…my mother made me into a cat lady.

eat, sleep, stand up straight

This internet search led someone to my blog today:

i want to live a healthy life style but have very low funds and i wake up each morning more tired than when i went to sleep even though i have slept for 8 hours

Oof. I hear ya. That is no fun. I don’t know you, of course. Nor do I know your situation, but I’ve gotten a few clues from your detailed search.

So I thought this might be a good opportunity for me to share my general views on this topic, not necessarily as a cure-all for the young man or woman who conducted that search (because again, I don’t know your situation, and also, you didn’t exactly ask for my advice!), but mostly as a way to introduce my perspective on healthy living.

I’m not a doctuh, so please don’t mistake any of this stuff for a professional medical opinion. The stuff I am about to share is just my opinion. Also, none of these opinions are new, never-heard-before concepts. They’re just things that have worked well for me over the years. It’s stuff most of you probably know and live already, but for anyone who feels like the person who searched about his or her health issues might feel, maybe some of these thoughts will be helpful.

I used to be really unhealthy, and subsequently very overweight. It was miserable. I remember feeling emotionally and physically drained and depleted each day. Long story short, I finally decided to make some essential changes about 7 years ago, I’ve learned a ton about healthy living along the way, and today I feel better than ever.

You do not have to spend a lot of money – in fact, I’d argue you don’t have to spend any more than you spend now – to maintain a healthier lifestyle. The key? Is baby steps. Let’s discuss:

Move a little: Take walks. The benefits your body experiences from one simple 30 minute walk are invaluable. Even if you’re not working up a sweat or you don’t feel like you’re exercising at all, your heart and lungs are loving the attention. Simple walking helps your metabolism, it helps to ensure optimal functioning of your body’s systems (like digestion!), and it will make you a little bit more sleepy when you climb into bed at night. Plus, it’s FREE.

If you’re someone who doesn’t feel like they’ve exercised unless they’ve run 5 miles and are panting like a dog at the end of it, get over it. If you’re like the person who conducted the search I referenced above, you probably wouldn’t feel unhealthy and tired if you were exercising regularly. So you’re probably not. So you’ve got to start somewhere. Start somewhere realistic that you can maintain.

If you can’t find 30 minutes, start with 10. Or 5. Walk briskly for 5 minutes, twice a day and you’ll begin to crave more and more. It sounds cliche, but consider asking a friend to walk with you. That’s helpful for lots of common sense reasons.

Beyond easy walking, stretch a little bit here and there. Yoga is fantastic for stretching and strengthening your muscles, but yoga can be a bit more than some people are willing to take on. If it’s not your thing, Pilates is also great. But in the interest of taking baby steps, some gentle stretches a few times a week will suffice. Stretching helps build strength and helps to keep your muscles and joints from sustaining injuries. Just make sure you’re not straining your neck while you stretch.

Stand up straight: Practice good posture, you guys! It is essential. Knees over ankles, hips over knees, shoulders over hips, head and neck floating above all that and tummy gently sucked in, abdominal muscles lightly engaged. If you don’t know what good posture looks like or how to achieve it, google it or ask someone who might know.

The benefits of good posture are under-appreciated by even some of the healthiest, most fit people I know. If you’re not standing up straight, if your body isn’t properly aligned, how do you expect your blood to flow through your body, for oxygen to reach every corner and crevice, or for your organs to function properly? It’s like expecting a machine to work well after you’ve turned off some of its necessary components and smooshed all its internal cogs together. If you’re not standing or sitting with good posture, you’re squishing everything, stressing your neck and spine, and probably pissing off your lower back and knees in a way that you cannot undo later in life. Ignoring this important element of a healthy lifestyle can cause weight gain and sleep issues, which in turn causes cravings for high sugar foods. It’s an ugly cycle. Get it together and stand up straight like your mama told you.

Sleep: Go to sleep around the same time every night. Create a soothing environment for yourself an hour or so before bedtime. Turn down the lights, put on PJs, discontinue any evening snacking, and just *be* for an hour. When you get into bed your body may be more prepared for a restful night’s sleep. Keep the room cool and dark. And if you can, try to wake up without an alarm. You might be surprised at your body’s ability to do that. Waking up without an alarm means you’ll probably wake up once you’ve had enough sleep, not just because a loud bleating sound is occurring inches from your head. The experience of waking up naturally when your body is ready, can be the difference between feeling terribly groggy all day and feeling well rested and alert.

Foodstuffs: So…whatcha eatin? It is my non-professional opinion that the answer to this question might give us some keys about why someone might be feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep, or why someone becomes groggy and lethargic at, say, 7pm. (I’m looking at you, David Morris.) I’m not gonna suggest a lot of changes with regard to this because people can be very prickly about their food. Understandable. I will cut you if you come near my pizza/nachos/mexican food of any kind/brownies/western omlettes – you get the idea.

Also, when talking to someone who wants to make some lifestyle improvements, getting on their case about what they’re eating and what they should be eating is a certain way to make them run in the other direction.

Here’s what I say – eat what you want. BUT. Have an awareness of it. If your awareness of your food intake today is a 4 on a 10 scale, try to broaden it a bit tomorrow. Just a bit. This will require first being honest with yourself about how aware you really are, today. Have a realistic conversation with yourself or with a friend about that topic, then make a choice to become just a little bit more aware tomorrow than you were today. This can be tough for someone who’s eating a lot of “unhealthy” foods – nobody likes to be honest with themselves about their undesirable habits, but just give it a whirl. Pay attention to when you’re eating, why you’re eating and notice how much you’re eating. No need to make any drastic changes, just notice it.

If you’re someone who doesn’t feel like they’re making healthy changes unless they cut back to 1000 calories a day and only eat fruit, cottage cheese and chicken, get over it. That’s not gonna work. You might be able to maintain that way of eating for X period of time, but at some point, you’re going to feel homicidal. Eat. EAT. Ugh, just eat.

Practice just noticing your habits for a little while. If that’s as far as you can go in terms of making changes to your food-life, so be it. Awareness is half the battle. If you find yourself willing to make another few baby-step-style diet changes, here are a few to consider:

  • Eat breakfast every morning. I’m begging you.
  • Cut back on soda. If you’re drinking 3 cans a day, cut back to 2. Eventually try to get that number close to 0. You can lose 10-20 pounds in a year just by cutting out sugary drinks. Replace it with another beverage that you enjoy like iced coffee, flavored seltzer, or even natural fruit juice. I don’t know this for certain, but I think soda could probably kill a person with its bare hands. Diet soda? will maim you, THEN kill you. You might as well just drink poison rocks.
  • Have a banana each morning. Why not, right? If you don’t like bananas, have some other piece of fruit. My mom doesn’t like really ripe bananas, or plain water for that matter, but she consumes both as “medicine,” she says. Not quite as fun as eating something that you like, but sometimes you just have to bite the bullet…or the banana.
  • Go easy on the red meat. Maybe choose it only once or twice a week. You like chicken too. I don’t know if you like fish or not but if you do, eat that sometimes too. And if you’re a vegetarian? For god sake, eat some beans.
  • Go easy on the cheese. Eat it, enjoy it, but don’t make it a three-times-a-day experience.
  • Maybe have some vegetables? Whatever, I don’t wanna fight about it.
  • If you love sweets, like I do (like, it’s a problem, like, are we having cookies for breakfast?) be more judicious about the kind of sweets you’re eating. Forget that low-fat, low-cal crap. That stuff is awful-tasting and awful for you. Eat the real thing, period. But eating the real thing means no “enriched flour,” no crazy ingredients you can’t pronounce, no dyes or weird powders. Just look at the ingredients listed on the back and be sure you recognize each of them. Try to choose all-natural, organic (when possible) sweet treats. Then select one satisfying serving’s worth – an amount that’s pleasing to your eyes and your stomach. Make eating it a special occasion – pour yourself a glass of 1% milk or a cup of hot coffee, eliminate distractions (like annoying friends who want a bite), and eat the hell out of that amazing brownie or cookie. Savor every single bite. And when it’s over, thank yourself for the indulgence and agree to wait until tomorrow to have another. Namaste.

You know how to eat properly, we all do. Plus, there are lots of different roads to Rome in terms of eating properly. And we’ve all got some info about at least one of those roads. We might not all know what an omega 3 fatty acid is, or how much fiber an average woman needs in her diet, but we know that a turkey sandwich is healthier than fried chicken, that plain cheese pizza is healthier than Stuffed Crust Meat Lovers Heart Attack Emergency Room Visit Supreme Pizza.Β  (Mmm, I want that.)

Beyond having some of factual knowledge of how to eat properly, we also possess something else that people tend to ignore: instinct. For some people, this instinct is more finely tuned than for others, but I’d argue that we all possess it on one level or another. We can notice the way our body feels differently after eating a salad than it does after eating french fries. We might not be able to connect that feeling to conscious thought without a little guidance, but we all innately possess the basic ability to notice the feelings.

In fact, we were born with the ability to eat in such a way that, if left to our own devices, we would be consuming a nutritionally complete diet. If a baby who has the ability to feed herself is placed in front of a wide range of different types of foods (not including processed foods) and she is allowed to eat whichever of them she wants, she will choose exactly what her body needs that day. If she needs potassium, she’ll choose the sliced banana. If she needs fiber, she might choose the diced apple. If she needs salt – you get it. Different babies will make different choices based on their own body’s nutritional needs, but each baby will be able to satisfy those needs with the right foods.

For purposes of this discussion, let’s assume this baby has not gone to nutrition school. So how does she *know* what to eat? It’s instinct. She won’t develop the eating habits, cravings, tendencies and desires that will ultimately stay with her into adulthood until she’s a little older. Probably not until she internalizes the example her parents set with their own diets or until the kinds of foods available to her become more limited or begin to include processed foods will she start to stray from having an innately accurate nutrition instinct. Interesting as hell, I think.

Realizing we all once had this ability is important to note when trying to live a healthier lifestyle. You have the option to listen to your body and notice its clues and cues. You might choose to ignore them, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. So practice tuning in to how your body feels before and after a meal, how you feel when you’re full verses when you haven’t had enough yet, what you crave when you wake up in the morning, and so on.

What do you really want?: This is the most important of all of these points to consider. Do you really want to live a healthy lifestyle? Or do you just feel like you should? Those are two very different places in which to be. If you really want to be healthier, you have a fighting chance of actually achieving that very attainable goal. If you just feel like you should, your head might not be in the right place to make changes just yet. There’s nothing wrong with that – it is what it is.

The best part of making changes toward a healthier lifestyle is that you don’t have to have perfect habits or even near perfect habits to be successful. In the healthy lifestyle game, there is no such thing as “success” or “failure.” There’s only “trying” and “not trying.” And one of the world’s best kept secrets is that you don’t really have to try very hard at all to feel better, look better, sleep better and maybe even lose a little weight. You just have to have an awareness of any unhealthy habits you may have, some information about which ones are hurting you the most and how to take baby steps toward improving them, and a desire to do so. It’s all about the baby steps, you guys.

A popular phrased used at Weight Watchers is a motto by which I was able to lose 115 pounds and keep it off: Practice makes progress.

To review:

  • Move a little more. Start small and do more if you feel like it.
  • Stand up straight.
  • Create a peaceful environment before, during and after sleep for a better night’s rest.
  • Notice what you’re eating. Decide if you’re willing to make a few small, realistic changes to your current diet.
  • Decide if you really want to get healthy or if you just think you should.
  • Take baby steps or you’ll burn out.

Now, if you want to lose a lot of weight and change your life around, and you aren’t afraid of making some bigger changes than the ones I’ve outlined above, I know a lot about that too, so please do not hestitate to ask. But that’s a slightly (but only slightly!) different post.

payday

This is my good friend Jess. Jess and I don’t actually *know* each other, at least not in person. We met online. We were in the throes of our weight loss journeys right around the same time and bumped into each other a lot on the Weight Watchers message boards. Soon after that, Jess began writing a weight loss blog, which I began religiously reading. And soon after that, I started blogging about my weight loss journey too. And the rest is history! We’ve been blog and email buddies for years, all thanks to our efforts to be healthier people.

As you may imagine, there’s an amazing community of internet-savvy women who are trying to lose or who have lost a great deal of weight. I’ve gotten to *know* a handful of these ladies over the years and it’s been such a positive experience. When you’re really heavy and trying to lose what seems to be an unimaginable amount of weight, it’s very easy to feel misunderstood in your day to day life. Your husband or boyfriend / wife or girlfriend probably doesn’t understand. Your parents probably don’t understand. Your friends are probably mostly slender, or at least have bodies you’d kill to have, no matter how much they like to complain about their thighs. So to use the internet to find one person, let alone dozens, who can not only relate to exactly how it feels to be you, but who can also offer hints and tricks, a shoulder to cry on, motivation by example, or who will lend an ear about any subject is invaluable while on the journey from overweight to healthy.

Jess has been one of those people for me over the years. I go to her blog first thing every workday, eager to read about her recent experience with exercise, the fancy dinner she cooked last night, any boy stuff that’s going on in her life and anything and everything in between. She inspires me, makes me laugh and is wise beyond her years.

Jess’ weight loss blog is private, but she also keeps a running blog called See Jess Run about her experiences as a runner. And a lifestyle blog called Chicks on Chicks, which she writes with a girlfriend.

Her answer to the payday questions follow:

1. How do you earn a paycheck?
I work for a company called PRN (Premier Retail Networks). We produce television programs that play at retail — the company is based in California, but Best Buy is a client, which is why they hired me. I live and work out of my home in Minneapolis and manage the Best Buy account (BBY is headquartered here). We operate just like a normal television network: we hire Neilson each year to do a viewership study, sell advertising, and have a diverse mix of programming (sports, entertainment, nature, etc. It’s an interesting job for me, because my background is in retail marketing and event marketing… this is very different.

2. Do you enjoy what you do to earn a paycheck?
Yes. I love the people I work with, and my clients are great. I have the best boss in the world. I love officing out of my home, because it gives me the flexibility to live a balanced life and accomplish my other, non-work goals. I lost 60 lbs and trained for a marathon mostly because of the flexibility of this job. Right now I struggle with the fact that my job is more technical than creative, but hopefully that will change soon! I like that I have a ton of responsibility and get to work directly with one of the biggest retailers in the world. The work I do can be seen on a daily basis in pretty much every major city in the US, and that’s kinda cool. But I do have a daily conversation with myself where I ask, “Do I love the JOB? Or do I love the LIFESTYLE that the JOB allows?” I’m still trying to figure that out.

3. How did you get the job?
Oddly, on Monster.com! I was working for Musicland at the time (Sam Good, Suncoast stores), which used to be owned by Best Buy. We were rolling out a similar program in Sam Goody, with a competitor of PRNs. I was on the roll-out team. So when I saw this job posting, it seemed to perfect — very few people have the specific experience becasue it’s such a niche industry, and I had it all. The man who became my boss basically offered me the job during the interview. We clicked.

4. Did you go to college and if so, what did you study?
Yep. I went to Lawrence University in Appleton, WI, I started as a music major, and ended up with an English lit degree. Really, I majored in extra-curricular activities. πŸ˜‰

5. If you could have any job in the whole entire world, assuming you’d instantly, miraculously possess the the training, opportunities, and expertise to excel at it, what would you do?
I’d be Britney Spears. I’m only sort of kidding. When I was a kid, music was my passion and my life, and I thought FOR SURE I’d be a pop star / actress someday. On some days, that still appeals to me (Usually those days involve a lot of booze and karaoke night). I think I’d be a therapist. Or a writer / columnist. But one that was really successful so that I didnt have to change my lifestyle in terms of financial needs. πŸ˜‰

6. If you didn’t have to earn a living – money was no object, but you had to be productive for 8 hours a day, what would you do?
My first reaction was to say “I’d write,” but I don’t know if I could do that for 8 hours each day. I think I would probably love to be a writer / columnist, and be at the stage of my life where I was also a wife / mother. THat would allow me the flexibility to do something I’m passionate about, and also “run the family,” the way my mom did. Soccer mom. πŸ˜‰

7. What are your hobbies and interests?
Reading, writing, decorating, cooking, weight loss / nutrition topics, running, taking the time to care for my friends and family.

8. How do you spend your free time?
At the gym, working on my house, cooking…

9. What do/did your parents or guardians do to earn livings?
My parents ran a small medical device distribution company together for the majority of my childhood, and my mom was the office manager. The same year I went away to college, my dad went back to get his MBA and also started working for a major medical device company — in sales & marketing. My mom stopped working outside of the home at that point (they closed their business), and focused on volunteering and what I call “running the family.” My dad rose very quickly through the ranks of a huge corporation, Guidant, and ultimately became the EVP of sales. He brokered a deal for Johnson and Johnson to buy Guidant, which ultimately didn’t happen (Boston Scientific bought them instead), and at that point he took an early retirement. But he “flunked retirement” and got another job as the CEO of a medical startup company, Neochord. Mom still runs the family. And with 3 grandparents in their 90s, and a new grandchild, that’s a pretty big job. I think she works harder than he does. πŸ˜‰

10. What was the conversation or climate surrounding work and work ethic in your home when you were growing up?
Interesting question. Because my parents owned their own business, I grew up in a very enterpreneurial environment — and I’ve always wanted to be a business owner myself (I think that’s why I love my current job — all of the joy of self-employment, none of the risk). I had a very strong work ethic — I WANTED a job, and had to argue with my parents to allow me to get my first job when I was about 14 years old. I wanted to work, and I wanted my own money. Oddly, I was only a mediocre student, but I ALWAYS excelled at my jobs.

11. How does your family feel about how you earn a living today?
They feel very good about it, but they know it doesn’t fulfill me spiritually or in terms of feeling like I do something that “Matters.” I think my family is always very interested / curious in what I’ll do next — because I’ve had A LOT of jobs. πŸ˜‰

12. Do you have siblings and if so, what do they do for a living? Do you have a personal reaction to what they do, like maybe you’re envious or inspired?
My brother, Marc, is also in the business world. He actually works for a company that is exercise / weight-loss focused. I am not envious of the volatile nature of working for a medical start-up company, but his work is focused on a topic I’m incredibly passionate and knowledgable about so yes, I have a lot of envy in that area. πŸ™‚

13. Generally, what time do you go to sleep? What time do you wake up?
I am an early bird… I get in bed around 10 and watch the news, and fall asleep. Because I don’t have to commute (other than shuffling across the halway to my home office), I do not set an alarm on most mornings. But I wake up naturally around 6:30 / 7, assuming I am well rested. I love this part of my lifestyle because it sets the tone for me to feel good and be productive each day.

14. Do you want to leave your current job for something different? If so, can you imagine yourself doing this? If so, will you do it?
I’m trying to figure this out right now, as I’m staring down the nose of a pretty intense job offer. That’s all I can really say at this point, other than to sum up my decision by saying… I am not as motivated by money as I once was, and I’m not sure that a big paycheck could “Buy” the quality of life I currently have. In other words.. I’m not sure I’m willing to give up the flexible lifestyle and balanced life for more money. It is weighing very heavily on my mind right now.

15. What is more important to you in a job? a big paycheck or personal fulfillment.
Good question. See above. I know that personal fulfillment is more important to me, however, I”m at the point in my career where a bigger paycheck / better title could set the stage for some very amazing things that would lead to a lot more long-term personal fulfillment… Also, I don’t know that you always have to choose… maybe I WON’T be miserable working in an office again. Maybe I won’t be unhappy having to get up early and commute. I just don’t know. But these are the decisions that keep me awake at night… I’ve never been afraid of change before (I’ve thrived on it), and suddenly I feel paralyzed by it. And it sucks.

16. Do you think your idea of personal success has changed since you were 10 years old? 18 years old?
Yes and no. I grew up thinking that success was defined by money, and I still believe that’s partially true, but only under certain conditions — ie, all the money in the world doesn’t matter if you are miserable, have nobody to share it with, and spend your entire life working at a job you hate. I define success as happiness & fulfilment, but I also think… le’ts be real, you’ve gotta pay the bills, and I’ve grown accustomed to a life that includes vacations, nice things, dinners out, and not having to freak out about every dime.

17. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through phases — but the one that I always come back to is that I wanted to be a performer. Mostly I wanted to sing. And in my life now, I’ve found nontraditional ways of doing that. For example, I might not be on a stage, but I “perform” everytime I pitch to my clients. I”ll perform on Monday when I speak at a memorial service. I perform when I help counsel women in a support group I run as volunteer work. KWIM?