not rocket science

My only New Year’s resolution this year is to wake up earlier.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a notoriously late sleeper. If I didn’t feel obligated to participate in adult society I might sleep until noon every day. When I was working for myself from home last year and had a much more flexible schedule I would struggle to get out of bed before 10am after staying up until 4.

But now my day job starts at 9:30. And I exhaust myself when I try to grab a few extra minutes of sleep and inevitably wake up later than I intend to and stumble out of bed, hoping to make coffee and get dressed while I’m still unconscious.

I’ve always known, deep down, that waking up earlier would be a positive thing for my life. I could imagine the cool, quiet mornings alone in my living room, sipping coffee, stretching out on a yoga mat, maybe doing some writing. But sleep is a vixen and despite my best intentions, I always let her lure me back in. There are few feelings I adore more than falling back to sleep after my alarm goes off. It’s perfection…Until the alarm goes off again.

I’m optimistic but cautious about this resolution. I don’t have any huge plans for how to spend my new, improved mornings. I’m actually curious to find out what I end up filling them with. And truth be told, this could end in complete defeat. But I bought a new programmable coffee maker that miraculously makes me hot coffee while I’m still asleep. And spending that $24.99 on this resolution means I’m serious.

So this morning I successfully woke up much earlier than I did on weekdays in 2010, and even though I initially sat on the edge of my bed for a few minutes toying with the idea of scraping the whole plan until 2012, I eventually got up, poured myself some magical mystery coffee, did 20 minutes of gentle yoga and then ate my toast while I watched the news.

It’s not rocket science, but I felt a little more centered as I walked into the office this morning than I usually do.

Being back at work today is fine. I hate it. And it’s fine. There’s always a bit of culture shock when you return to a job you’re not thrilled about after a great vacation. But I’m grateful for the money this job provides me to, for instance, travel for the holidays, buy gifts, go to the movies, get new sweaters, stock our fridge full of NOT cookies and all the other relaxing, wonderful things I did over the holiday break. And I will keep that in mind today as I slog through hundreds of emails and dozens of files, bills, documents and agreements.

Hopefully gifting myself a more peaceful morning will help the first Monday of my 2011 unfold gently. If not, the Chipotle burrito I plan to have for lunch today will surely do the trick.

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so I scrubbed the hell out of the shower

This day was a long one. I’m sitting on the couch now, at 12:30am, after a 15-hour non-stop day, grouchy, hungry and too stubborn to do anything about any of it. (I mean, I’ll probably have a snack.)

I’m tired. I’ve been working a lot. Long hours. For days. I don’t think I’ve taken an entire day off in a long time. Woe is me, right?

YES. WOE IS ME.

Today was a mixture of a lot of things – some pleasure, some business – but it may have been too much because I’m down for the count now. I’m lucky to have the option to sleep in tomorrow. Very lucky.

I was rereading old blog entries recently, entries from when I was still working at my desk job and trying to keep my negativity in check, trying to keep my situation in perspective, and daydreaming about, well, now. A time when I’d be freer and “happier,” I assumed.

I am MUCH happier in many ways. But this is also a tough, tiring road. Building a career from what often feels like scratch, working toward stuff that sometimes feels elusive, intangible and undefined, laying in bed every night wondering what the next day will bring, what the next month will bring. I know, I know, there’s only power in the Now.

Tell it to my bank account and my busy mind.

I don’t mind the struggle. It exists. And I wouldn’t go back to that desk job for anything. Things are…good. I’m content within my unrest, if that’s possible. I feel further along on this journey to figure out what the hell I’m gonna be when I grow up than I ever have before. Good things happen every single day.

I do yearn for a time when my career is not the first thing I think about in the morning and the last thing I think about at night.

All in good time I suppose.

Anyway. I got home tonight, feeling all those things and a million others, feeling all mixed up and hot and sweaty and sick of everything. And I went into the bathroom to rinse off. I brought with me a sponge and a bottle of all-natural cleaner, almost unconsciously. And then I turned on the steaming hot water, got undressed, got in, and scrubbed the hell out of the shower.

I have no idea why I did that. I’ve never done it before. But it felt great.

vinnie’s pizza omg

I had some of the best pizza of my life last night from Vinnie’s Pizza in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I don’t know what drew me into the little shop, but when I walked out with this slice of sun-dried tomato, bacon, beef, jalapeno, cheddar, RANCH PIZZA (!!!!) I was in heaven. It was SO. GOOD.

I ate it on the subway platform because I couldn’t stand waiting any longer.

Apparently Vinnie’s does amazing Vegan pizza too.

how to quit your job – 5 steps

If you want to quit your job, you are like a staggering number of people in America today. CBS News recently reported that only 45% of US workers find their jobs satisfying. And that’s lowest rate ever recorded in the 22 years they’ve been studying the issue.

If you aren’t happy at your job, why not take the plunge? Yes, there are risks. Yes, it can be scary. But quitting your job to pursue something that makes you happier and more fulfilled is never riskier and scarier than the alternative: remaining stuck a mindless cycle of dreading every day and complaining over a tub of ice cream or a bottle of wine every night.

I quit my job and lived to tell the tale. I worked as a grouchy office assistant for many boring years and it made me want to commit mass murder. I was the ugliest version of myself when I worked at that job. I was dismissive, short-tempered, difficult and I loved rolling my eyes behind people’s backs. (Okay, I still do that.)

Now, 7 months after quitting, I’m happier and more hopeful than I’ve been in years. I might even be a little smarter too. I’m not an expert, I’m just someone who’s been through it and come out thriving on the other side.

The list I’m about to share might seem simple. That’s on purpose. No matter what we may have been led to believe by maybe our parents, our culture, or our bank accounts, quitting your job is simple.

Scary? Risky? Non-traditional? Maybe.

Rocket science? Absolutely not.

Here’s how I did it:

1. Decide WHY. I knew I felt unhappy at my job, but I had to determine exactly why, or I wouldn’t know what I was aiming to fix.

Start by asking yourself why you don’t like the work you do. Is it the people? The atmosphere? The work itself? Is it you? Are you making the situation worse than it is?

Be honest and specific. Make sure you truly know why you want to quit.

2. Decide WHAT. What next? New office? Home office? New career entirely? New city? Decide what you want out of your new lifestyle. If you already know what you want to do – great! You’re well on your way.

For some people, deciding what’s next is the hardest part. Just remember, it doesn’t have to happen right away. Spend some time paying attention to details about yourself that you might not always consider. Like, do you like walking to work? Do you mind commuting? Do you want to work with people, or by yourself? Ask friends and family to tell you where they think your strengths lie. There’s information in those details. Take the time to figure it out.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do next when I set out to quit. I knew I wanted to work for myself, have more control over my own schedule, feel creative, productive and active. It took me about a year to mold that into a career direction. Once I quit my job, I ended up opening an online bakery, becoming a freelance writer and focusing more on my comedy career. And I’m still growing and changing all the time.

3. Decide WHEN. Give yourself a goal date. This helped me tremendously. When I was 27 years old I promised myself that I would quit my desk job by the time I turned 29. When that date rolled around a year and a half later, I briefly considered NOT quitting yet – maybe I could save more money, maybe it wasn’t the right time?

Ultimately, though, I knew I owed it to myself meet the deadline I’d set. When I really thought about it, a new reality was already within reach…so why not go for it? It was the right move. It got me out of a job that I could have stayed in my whole life.

What will it take to get to the next step? Classes? Networking with a new group of people? Delving deeper into a hobby to discover how you might be paid to do what you love? Determine what smaller steps you’ll need to take between now and then. Then set a deadline and commit to it.

4. Save money. From the moment you decide you want to quit your job – in fact, even if it’s just an inkling in the back of your mind – start saving money. Check out my article “10 ways to save for a desk job escape,” which I wrote a few weeks before I quit. Cut corners when you can and trust that you are building an essential nest egg to help fuel your journey outta the doldrums.

My savings was account one of the best things I did for myself. I was able to pull in new income shortly after my desk job ended, but I needed that savings to float me through a few tough months later on and to make ends meet along the way. I was really amazed at how far it took me.

5. Commit to yourself. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. If you want to quit your job, only your commitment to doing so will make it possible. People who decide to change their lives actively change them, they don’t sit around waiting for it to happen. Lay the traps, write the plans, shake off the fear, bide your time – yes. But after that time is up, take action. There will definitely be days when it feels like a big mistake, the wrong decision, the path of most resistance. On those days, return to the WHY and the WHAT to strengthen your resolve.

You’ll never know what can be if you don’t follow your bliss. Go for it.

oil of olay – I did it!

I’m going to be 30 in less than six months.

I bought my first jar of fancy anti-aging night cream yesterday. This was on purpose. It’s time.

I tend toward melodrama.

So, I heard 7-in-1 Oil of Olay Total Effects (so many names!) is supposed to be the best of the drugstore variety.

It was $18 on sale at Target. I went there for it specifically (plus Kev and I each got a new bulletin board!), so it was a nice treat that it was on sale.

The face wash was also on sale for $6.70 and I grabbed it too. Who am I!?

I like both the products so far. The face wash feels really soft and gentle, and my skin feels more moist after I use it, even before I put lotion on. I love the way the night cream feels. It’s a little sticky at first, but then it starts to soften. And my skin felt great when I woke up this morning.

My only complaint is that both products are way too fragranced for me. I got some on my lip last night and I felt like I was tasting perfume all night long! Blech!

For $18, I’m glad I have it. Here I come, 30.

new blog theme!

AHHH!!

I just changed the “theme” (Mom, that means the way the page looks) of my blog! I know it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I’ve had that old theme, the darker one with the blue background and small print, for a LONG time. Since I started follow my bliss a year and a half ago.

I’m nervous to alter it – so funny. So that means I have to do it, right? Follow the fear!

I told you a few days ago that some changes will hopefully becoming to this blog soon. To be completely honest, I’m still formulating exactly what those changes will be, what I want to write about, what kind space I want to create here for us to share.

So this new theme isn’t permanent, but let’s see how it feels for a while, until the next big change happens. And bear with me while I work out some kinks…like that giant Fanny & Jane logo over there on the right. I’ll fix that soon. FIXED!

Pink. I like pink. This will be fun.

what’s to come

After a successful first month as a writer for Gather.com, I was so excited when they recently told me they’re happy with my work and asked me to help pilot a new Home & Garden program on their site! Yay!

Right now, I write Food/Seasonal stories, and I also write Women’s Lifestyle stuff. I haven’t ever written a ton about home decor, design, or outdoor stuff – there are many more capable home designers out there than I am – but when Gather asked me to help pilot the program, I knew I could certainly give it a whirl. The “keywords” relating to Home & Garden articles hit on a variety of topics, from “apartment design ideas” to “dinner party menu ideas” to “vegetable gardening for beginners,” and all imaginable topics in between. So I’m really excited (and honored) to have the opportunity to learn more about that stuff, try out some ideas myself, and write articles about all of it.

The experience, overall, of writing for Gather these last few months has been a good one. (And no, I am in no way compensated for saying any of this, it’s just my personal opinion and experience.) I am so lucky to have found this gig, because my bank account really needed the extra supplementary income. And I didn’t realize it at the time, but my creative brain really needed the new energy. I have been a writer since I was a kid – something I’ve talked about many times on this blog – and it’s no surprise that I turned to writing this blog to help boost myself up and out of my Corporate Job Rut a year and a half ago. I’m someone who processes things through writing about them.

So having the chance to write for a living is something I’ve always dreamed I’d get to do, something I’ve often (wrongly) doubted I’d ever have a chance to do, and something I’m very grateful to have found. It’s also provided me some mental space and clarity with Fanny & Jane, and an opportunity to let the bakery grow and change at its own pace – which feels more comfortable to me than forcing it to fit into whatever mold or direction I hope it will.

I’m feeling very content lately, but also very antsy. It reminds me of being a little kid – when you want to fast forward your life to find who you will be and how things will look when you’re an adult. I am dreaming of business trips around the country, weeks spent on location shooting something, traveling for research. I’m dreaming of vacations to interesting places – all the photos I’ll take and cuisines I’ll try.

(Speaking of different cuisines, my dear friend Marina just got back from a business trip to South Korea, of all places. She’s literally a celebrity there now, if you can believe it. She starred in a feature film a while back that just opened a film festival over there last month. She had to buy a fancy gown, was flown in to attend press conferences, walk the red carpet, and schmooze with the fans. She took it all in stride and came back with amazing stories to tell. I’m so proud of her – just had to share that.)

The point is, I’m dreaming of what is possible and what’s to come.

In that vein, you’re probably going to see some changes coming soon to follow my bliss. My personal experience will still be the central thread of this site. After all, sharing my story is why I started this blog to begin with, why it’s grown, and it will be a key piece of how it continues. But there’re a lot of other things I’d love to write about and explore too.

I’m not sure exactly what that will mean or how things will end up, but I’ve been having some meetings about where to take this site and where my creative impulses lie, and I’m so excited about what’s possible. That’s all I’ll say for now, so let’s just see what happens!

It’s a gloomy, cloudy, windy Mother’s Day here in NYC. I slept for 13 hours last night, after two days of lotsa work with Harvard Sailing Team (which was, as always, fun, exciting and exhausting), but now I’m feeling sluggish and a little under the weather. So I’m going to take this day to relax, rest, and snuggle in with the cats. And maybe I’ll make some notes and do some daydreaming about what’s to come!

The photos in this post, by the way, are a handful of older, random photos I’ve taken in the last couple years.

(p.s. One more thing – speaking of what’s to come, my web friend Kathleen, has recently made over her blog and I love her new site! Check it out. Yay, Kath!)

i quit my job today – the reprise

I was reminded today how often the phrase “quit your job” leads people to this blog and then I noticed that my post “I quit my job today” gets viewed a lot. So I went back to reread that old post, because I haven’t looked at it in a long time.

The post, in part, shared an excerpt from something I’d scrawled on the back of an office document earlier that week at my desk job:

The paperwork piles up and I stare off into space pretending it doesn’t matter. I am distracted by my own boredom every thirty seconds. I am completely unchallenged. Even if I were doing something “interesting” here, I’m not sure I’d be able to stand it. It makes me wonder if I have A.D.D. or a bad work ethic. In reality, I just don’t belong here.

There was no big moment, no final straw that led to this decision. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I wrote a long annoying blog entry draft last week about whether or not I should quit now or quit in January (after we get a small holiday bonus). I reread it after I wrote it and I knew I couldn’t post it. Because I was just sick of hearing myself talk about it. I thought, This is not the kind of problem I want to have. This is not going to help anyone else on their journey. This is just spinning wheels. This is avoiding taking a risk. This is a waste of my time. I’m not wasting any more time. I’m going to pursue work I’m passionate about and that’s all there is to it. No amount of waiting-until- January is going to improve my life.

When I read that, how far I’ve come really struck me. That used to be real. And now this is real. I guess I’m being hit upside the head every day lately with how many strides I’ve made since I quit my job. And that’s really nice. It makes me wonder what the point of this blog is anymore.

Maybe the point is just to continue telling my story. I like to tell stories.

The rest of that old entry said:

I’m going to pursue work I’m passionate about and practice trusting that the money will come. I’m not going to focus too heavily on my bank account (and what’s in it or not in it). I am a responsible person and my bills will get paid.

I am, however, going to set some specific goals, goals related to freelancing writing, blogging, the bakery, and using the value that is my weight loss expertise to help other people.

One afternoon last summer, Kevin and I were swimming at the local pool. I had been at this job for almost a year at the time. I knew I wasn’t ready to quit any time soon, I knew I had to plan and prepare and lay some foundation for myself first. And I also didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do once I did quit. I just knew it wasn’t my destiny to work in an office. We stared up at the blue summer sky and splashed our feet in the water, and I said to Kevin, “No matter what I end up doing, no matter what direction I choose, my only commitment to myself is that I will quit this job before I turn 29. That’s a year and a half from now. So I have plenty of time to figure it out.”

I turn 29 in two months. Here we go.

Brought me back, that did. I’m in a different zone now entirely. I’m sitting in my apartment about 75% of the way through my work day today. I’ve written, I’ve baked, I’ve worked on bakery paperwork, I’ve worked on Harvard Sailing Team stuff, soon I’ll go make a delivery and do an improv show. I’m starting to think of ALL of it as work – work I love to do, but work just the same. My day will end late tonight – I’ll probably come home and write some more. And we leave for a semi-business trip to Chicago in the morning. WHEW!

I’m loving it.

and now it’s quiet

You guys. I’m tired and I need a haircut. Otherwise, all is well and I’m looking forward to falling into my bed tonight, knowing that my life today looks more like I’ve always wanted it to look than it did 7 months ago when I was still working at my boring desk job.

The world has been racing and whirring around me and past me for the last ten days. More has happened in this short amount of time than occured in my life in the entire months of January and February combined. Hmm, that might be an exaggeration, but that’s definitely how I feel. I’m not sure if it’s slowing down quite yet – plenty of stuff looms including my kitchen is a mess and I’m desperate to exercise. But tonight, I will sleep well.

And tomorrow is a new, beautiful day.