mixed bag

"Another Psycho" shoot - image via P3 Entertainment

A mixed bag update on this sunny Thursday:

We’re screening the HST short film we shot over the summer “Another Psycho” (the one we made with the $10,000 grant from the Friar’s Club!) tomorrow night at The PIT in an evening hosted by the HST girls. Looking forward to it. The awesome production company that helped us make the film, P3 Entertainment, posted some behind the scenes shots on their Facebook Page recently and it reminded me what a great time we had shooting our little movie.

The warmer weather and sunshine we’re enjoying in New York City today has certainly improved my mood.

I’m also feeling pretty good physically. I’ve lost 10 pounds since the beginning of the year doing the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program. (As you may or may not know, I lost 115 pounds in my early twenties through Weight Watchers. I put 10 of it back on last year because of a lack of food mindfulness and a change in my daily routine.) I wasn’t desperate to lose these 10 pounds – I was actually okay with having gained them – but I did want to avoid having to buy bigger pants and to have more energy, so it’s nice to have lost them. If you’re looking to shed a few pounds, this Points Plus thing they rolled out at the end of last year is pretty fantastic. I recommend it.

I haven’t been exercising a lick besides walking around the city and my occasional yoga practice, which is more than enough for me right now. I used to bang out 5-6 days a week at the gym – for years – and finally got to a point where that just wasn’t interesting to me any more. Maybe it will be again someday, but I’m not in the business of forcing myself to do things I really don’t want to do. So for now, this is fine. I am excited for the warmer weather to tempt me outside for an occasional jog or bike ride. Moral of that story: exercise to FEEL GOOD. Not to lose weight. And do active things you enjoy! No sense slogging through a workout feeling miserable. If you love the gym, go for it. If it’s not your thing, there are so many other options.

Career-wise, I’ve decided I need to be doing more. I do a lot right now as it is and I love it…and it’s also hectic and insane at times. But it makes me feel alive and happy when I have a lot of projects going at once. I’d rather err toward that than feeling bored or unmotivated. Gotta work hard while I’m young!

End transmission.

my new job

I’m back in Brooklyn after a great week in Los Angeles. I had a blast on the trip, but I’m glad to be home – I am reminded how much I love New York City.

Today, Kevin made us brunch, then we did some shopping (new shoes!), and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge in the evening. It was perfect.

Los Angeles was an awesome experience for Harvard Sailing Team. We had so much fun together, got a lot done, and things are moving in a great direction right now – we’re definitely pinching ourselves.
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…and the season has changed

There we are at the premiere of our short film “Another Psycho” at the Friar’s Club Film Festival last weekend! We’re standing with the incredibly talented gentlemen who directed, edited and produced our idea into a fantastic little film. The premiere was a blast. I wish I had some better photos but I left my camera battery at home (Boo!! Hisssss!!!). For those who have asked, I’m not yet sure when we can show the movie to everybody, or if it will be online. I’ll definitely let you know.

Other than that, where the hell have I been??

I’ve been working! Still temping at the attorney’s office, which has been busy and exhausting. Today’s actually my last day! (Phewf.) I’ll be working from home for the rest of the week, rehearsing, writing, planning my class, etc.

And then on Saturday I’m going to Los Angeles for a whole week with Harvard Sailing Team! I’ve never been to LA before, if you can believe it. So I’m excited. I’ll get to see some old friends, enjoy the warmer temps, and we will be performing as a team for the first time ever on west coast. Cannot wait.

I am gonna miss Kev and the kitties and the beautiful autumn weather we’re having here in New York, though. I’m loving October so far. It is definitely (and finally) fall here.

So, I have some pretty big and surprising news to share. Major changes are underway. No, I’m not engaged or pregnant. It’s news relating to this professional journey I’ve been on the for the last year! I can’t tell you just yet, though. Sorry. That’s so lame, I know. Soon enough…

I can say that in two weeks it will be one full year since I quit my boring desk job. When I left that office on October 16, 2009, I could not have imagined or anticipated the path that would lay ahead of me. It’s been a year full of excitement, surprise and even frustration and disappointment at times. But all in all, it’s been one of the smartest things I’ve ever done for myself.

Hope you’re all having a happy Monday.

More soon!

sunday night

I’m sick, dudes. Head cold. I am congested like whoa and I could sleep away the entire next week of my life if you let me. No big deal, but that’s the report.

It’s been a busy, whirlwind weekend – I barely even know it happened. We visited Kevin’s family today for Father’s Day, had a nice time (got to see the new baby again!), and now I’m on the couch watching some weird puppet game show. Actually, Kevin’s watching the puppet game show, I’m his TV hostage. It’s only fair – I usually commandeer the remote.

Some highlights of the week upcoming:

  • Harvard Sailing Team is up for a $10,000 prize in this weekend’s Friar’s Club Comedy Film Festival. We’re one of 5 sketch groups chosen to be finalists for the contest, and to compete in a live show this weekend. Winner gets $10K to make a short film. Fingers crossed!!! (Come see the show if you’re in New York! Saturday night @ The UCB.)
  • My (beautiful, talented, kind, hilarious) cousin Trisha is coming to New York for the first time in years on Saturday. She’s gonna be here for a work conference but I’m hoping to trick her into spending a ton of time with me. And there will be margaritas.
  • I’m writing a weekly column in July for Spring Inspiration (!) and I’m stoked. I’ll be working on my first column tomorrow.
  • It’s summer! This Monday is the longest day of the year. I adore long summer evenings.
  • Cheap yoga: I decided to buy Vida Yoga NYC’s deal – $10 for one week of unlimited yoga and I’m loving it!

Good night, guys. The theraflu is kicking in.

exhaustion

You guys, I’m exhausted. Since Kevin and I got back from Chicago last week we have both been going non-stop.

It dawned on me the other day – this first year of having quit my job is going fabulously so far, I could not have imagined it would work out the way it has – but once it’s over, I think I will look back on it as a hard year too. Sometimes, it’s hard.

There’s a certain sense of pressure to make it all work, to succeed, to accomplish this thing I set out to do. Of course, I’m already doing it, so there’s no sense dwelling in places that aren’t happening now, but we all know that’s easier said than done.

I am so lucky to have so much support and unconditional faith from my mom, my stepdad, my boyfriend, my friends, my cousins, my aunt and uncle, even my therapist. I am a lucky young lady. And I would not be able to do this all without their undying encouragement.

I don’t feel pressure from them to succeed, interestingly. The pressure is from the inside out. I know this life – one I’ve built for my own fulfillment – is possible. So I try to prove it to myself daily.

Even though the next month, with all of its unknowns, always lurks around the corner, I’ve got to remember to check in with where I am right now. I’ve been pleasantly surprised so far, so there’s no reason to assume that won’t keep happening.

I’ve been working long hours and I’m tired. I go non-stop most days. I lay on the couch at night for maybe 30 minutes, if that, before I pick up the next task or project that I work on until early in the morning. These aren’t complaints, just observations. Nobody else has created this but me, so it must be how I work best. Better to turn off the judgment.

This tired is a good kind of tired, though. Tired to the bone from having worked hard for what I want.

happiness is a state of mind

I’ve been thinking a lot about this entry today, the one I wrote the day I quit my job.

I’ve been thinking about how much has changed for me since September 1, 2009.

My life is no longer monotonous like it was back then.

And I’ve decided to start standing up to the people that have chosen to judge me.

I spend more time doing the things I love, like taking yoga class more often, going for walks and jogs when the mood strikes me, and spending more time with my friends.

I’ve also had to continue to make tough decisions, like taking a break from my beloved sketch comedy group because I know it’s the best thing for me right now. And dealing with the unnecessary guilt that accompanies a choice like that.

I’ve confronted incredible challenges with my new business, the bakery Fanny & Jane. And learned a lot about what it means to be a small business owner, someone who works for herself and makes her own schedule – things I dreamed about having before I had them, and things I sometimes now wish I could trade back in for just a day.

I’ve also been blessed with exciting success and progress on this company’s journey. Those little steps boost me up every day. And every time I get an email from someone who’s sampled and loved our stuff, or every time we land a new account, attract a new customer, or come up with a smart new marketing idea, I feel inspired and re-invigorated. I don’t have kids, but I can only imagine, as I’ve said before, that starting a new business probably feels, in some small (and much less significant) way, challenging, terrifying, exciting and rewarding in a similar fashion.

But more than all of that stuff, more than the lessons, the joys, the mornings of sleeping in, the evenings of staying out late, the days of eating lunch on my own schedule, more than the excitement and stress of being the captain of my own ship, I have learned one singular thing that stands above everything else:

That old job, that desk job that I blogged for months about leaving, and planned for weeks to escape from, did not make me happy. NOR did it make me unhappy.

Only I control my happiness. My circumstances do not.

I knew that all along, but it’s been really hammered home for me in these last several months during which I”ve been “living the dream,” so to speak.

I am just as occasionally grouchy and stressed out as I was then. I am just as occasionally joyful for no reason and excited about the little things as I was then. I have different stressors now, and I have different challenges. I struggle with different issues and different concerns. I also have new sources of contentment and some of the same old ones.

In essence: I am the exact same person. I just wear pajamas more often. I am just as happy, sad, confused, eager, frustrated, conflicted and optimistic as I always was.

Is that disappointing to hear? I hope not. It’s the truth. The truth is what we all know to be true – happiness is a state of mind.

Duh.

yogaaaaahhh

So. The 30 Day Yoga Challenge has come and gone. When I started the challenge I assumed Day 30 would arrive and I’d celebrate and throw myself a victory party at Chipotle. (If I had an assistant, this is where I’d ask her to schedule me a victory party at Chipotle because it’s never too late to throw a victory party.)

Believe it or not, the 30th day came and went and I didn’t tell you guys because I didn’t even notice myself. Gah!

Ah. Yoga. I guess that’s kind of how it works. There’s no counting days in yoga. You know, a day doesn’t really mean anything in the spirit of yoga.

In the end, I missed probably 3-4 days total through the month. And it wasn’t until the whole journey was over that I realized I needed to be a lot less hard on myself about missing those days. It’s great to do 30 days in a row of anything that is good for you. But it’s okay if you don’t, too. And you shouldn’t beat yourself up. I re-learned that concept for the 900th time once this challenge was over. Someday it will stick in my mind.

So during those four weeks, I did a LOT of yoga. And it was wonderful. Sure, there were times when I was sore, times when I was really tired and did not want to take class, and times when I missed a day and got all upset with myself over it. But the majority of the experience left me feeling strong, more comfortable in my body, and capable.

All of my poses improved dramatically. My downward dog is deeper, I’m more comfortable sitting in chair pose, and I stopped shying away from the difficult poses – I started at least attempting them. And sometimes I succeeded! One day, my shoulder was really hurting. I’d injured it at some point during yoga class. I felt so frustrated and sorry for myself. Then the teacher showed us a difficult new pose, but it didn’t involve the shoulder so I tried it. AND I DID IT! That was probably the best moment for me throughout these 30 days.

There were lots of other lovely moments during the month. Moments when I found a sense of quiet, contented peace during class after a particularly hard day in the outside world, moments when I realized how much I was enjoying these classes and these teachers. And a warm feeling every time I walked into that studio, knowing what I was about to do for myself.

Since the 30 days ended, I’ve been easing back into a regular routine. I took about a week off yoga entirely. Then I took a class on Tuesday. And it was fantastic. I felt just as strong, capable and limber as I’d felt on Day 30. I was elated. All in all, good stuff.

update

It’s busy season again! Not a bad thing at all, but it’s busy. It’s nice to see how much we learned from the Christmas rush, and how this Valentine’s season is made simpler because of that. I’ve gotten much better at scheduling what needs to be done, prioritizing, and being realistic about time frames. It takes time to bake stuff, you guys.

I feel like I have nothing in the world to write about right now except the 30 Day Y0ga Challenge and the bakery. Because in many ways that’s all I have going on. It’s simple and lovely, in a way.

The cold weather is killing me – I can write about that for a few sentences.

I cannot wait for the summer. I daydream about it every day. And I daydream about this time next year when Kevin and I are just returning from having spent the month of January in a warm, tropical location. Big dream, right? I figure if I set out to leave my job LAST January and I made that a full-fledged reality by THIS January, what can I do by NEXT January? “Live somewhere warm for one month in the winter” seems like as good of a goal as any.

My shoulder is so much better – not perfect, but healing. Yoga is wonderful and hard and I’m so glad I’m doing this challenge. I’ve lost track of what day I’m on – somewhere close to Day 20. My arms feel thinner, my legs feel slimmer, my waist feels firmer, and mentally I feel much more balanced. I’m going to be sad when it’s over – and maybe also a little bit relieved. 30 days is a long time! But I’m loving it. This was an awesome gift to give to myself.

I’m also hanging out with an insightful and spirited four-year-old for two hours every Tuesday and Friday lately. He’s a fantastic dose of realism in my world. Geoff and Jenny, his parents, have done a phenomenal job with this little guy.

The other day I was telling him that I hurt my shoulder some how, that it was bothering me. He asked me how I hurt it. I explained that I wasn’t really sure how I hurt it.

He said, “I know! You hurt it when you were exercising! You fell down.”

Maybe, I said. And then I explained to him that when you’re older, when you’re a grown-up, your body sometimes aches more often than it does when you’re a kid. That grown-ups fall down and are sore for a few days, while little kids can fall down, on the playground for example, and bounce right back up. Little kids bodies are made that way, I told him.

He said, “Well. I guess it’s a lot more fun to be a kid than to be a grown-up.” Of course, I had to laugh out loud and tell him, “You might be right.”

Oh, one more thing. I wanted to tell you all that, more than ever before, I keep having these moments recently where I realize that I quit my job and haven’t worked there for almost a third of a year now – and I’ve survived! And I’m happy and enjoying what I’m doing! I don’t know what’s around the next corner – I really haven’t a single clue – but do we ever really? And I’m still absolutely loving my new life. It’s so much simpler and more my style. The other day I spent the day baking, and then I headed into the city around 5:30pm for a rehearsal. I realized that I used to be sitting at my desk at 5:30pm, wouldn’t have been able to make it to that rehearsal, didn’t get out of work until 7pm.

Leaving that job, as beneficial as it was for my bank account and my health insurance policy-holding status (I know, Mom. I know.), remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

an update, courtesy of insomnia

It’s freezing in this apartment right now.

Or, maybe it’s not that cold, maybe I’m just cold. I’m always cold. We’re talking always. It frustrates the hell out of me.

I have been, lately, taking two steaming hot showers a day. Not full soaping up every time, necessarily, but standing under the hot water so it will warm up my blood. I think I’d live in the bathtub if we had one. (Next apartment WILL HAVE A BATHTUB. Period.)

And when I’m not showering, I’m sitting two feet from the space heater. Wearing a sweater, socks and a blanket. I’m, like, cold from the inside. I guess I sound like I’m complaining. I guess I am. I apologize.

I’m cold.

I’m also awake. It’s 3:18am and I tried to sleep a little over an hour ago, and couldn’t. I’ll go back in soon and give it another whirl. I’m in the thick of it, you guys, with this bakery. The numbers are swirling around in my mind. Quantities of sweets so large they’re hard to commit to memory, frankly. So I rely on charts and my own page-long, handwritten descriptions of corporate orders and shopping lists and post it notes. Kevin’s running errands, friends are coming over to help me bake, I’m trying to make the very best use of all my time. I think I might have to close the holiday shop down a couple days early!

An interesting personal side affect of all this is that my hair has never consistently looked worse. There’s no time.

It’s also super rewarding, though! All this business! I can’t believe this has happened!! I have no idea what will happen after the holiday rush is over. I’m not worried that we’ll do no business at all, but I know things will slow down.

To be honest? I’m looking very much forward to that.

It will be a great chance to check in with where we are, to take a look back over this present chaos and learn more about how to make it easier, make it more efficient, and to continue to grow things – assuming that’s what we decide to do.

A year ago, I started a blog about quitting my job to go do who knows what. I had no idea at the time. A couple months later, I was playing around with the idea of selling sweets with Faryn. A few months after that, Faryn and I were meeting at the nearby Mexican restaurant to discuss our goals. We’d been plugging along with our little bakery biz for most of the spring and now it was May and we finally said – Okay. We’re in this. And I said I wanted to be trying to do it full time by December. (December seemed so far away, at the time.) I’m not entirely sure I believed I would actually achieve that goal. I think I was just hoping the goal would create momentum for us. But here we are. Here we are!

I’m going to wake up tomorrow and run through a list of computer to do’s. I’m going to fit in some exercise. And then I’m going to start baking. I have a holiday party to attend in the evening, to which I will also be delivering one of our Party Samplers. And then I’m going to come home and go to sleep early to do it all over again. And so on until I leave town on December 19.

Yikes!!!

Fun, scary, strange, frustrating, exciting, rewarding, interesting, exhausting and inspiring. All at once. This life right now.

Night.

the first month

Jen 1457

Yesterday, I happened upon an old post of mine, entitled “do what makes you happy (?)“, which I wrote back in May when I was still very much at the desk job. I knew I desperately wanted to leave but I didn’t see when or how I’d be able to make it happen any time in the immediate future. I’d been writing follow my bliss for almost six months.

I remember that particular day quite well, in fact. It was a beautiful day, one of the first very warm and summery ones of the season and I was absolutely beside myself at having to be inside sitting at a desk. Not being able to enjoy amazing-weather days was one of the reasons I had decided, back at the beginning of that year, that I couldn’t work in an office any more. I wanted to be able to enjoy the world and not let my youth pass me by. Maybe it sounded frivolous and childish to some, but yes, I wanted to be out in the sunshine.

I was so frustrated that morning. I’d been good about being positive and hopeful and working toward my goals. I’d felt proud of how I’d stayed focused on making progress and not wallowing in the discontent of my present circumstances, but I woke up that morning just feeling overwhelmed by everything. I wanted to gripe and moan.

I wrote:

It’s rewarding to be working toward the small business venture and other personal goals. But I’m feeling down today. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I want to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant. I want to have left this job, be baking and selling sweets, be freelance writing, be taking yoga class every single day. I want an instant lifestyle makeover. I know that’s a lot to ask for.

I had to stop and reread that paragraph two or three times yesterday. I know that I set out to leave my job and do things that made me happier, which is why I’m where I am today. And I know that I started a bakery with a friend so that I could bake and sell sweet treats. But it was still strange – and thrilling – to read what I’d wanted out of my life six months ago, what I’d daydreamed about and felt like I might never achieve.

AND HERE I AM! AHHH!

I have to tell you that it was a personally awesome moment for me when I read that paragraph, took a look around and found myself having finally made my wish into reality. How amazing.

It was akin to remembering the middle of my journey to lose 115 pounds. There were times when it was easy, when the pounds melted off. But there were also times when it was hard as hell. When I wanted french fries, nachos, eleven slices of pizza and every cookie in the box. And I just wished and hoped and prayed that losing all the weight would one day become real. And then, one day, it did. Making progress is so fulfilling.

Another thing that struck me about that particular paragraph was that I’d said I wanted to bake and sell sweets. And I also said that I wanted to be taking yoga class every day. And that I wanted to be writing.

Now, I know those things about myself – that I love to write and take yoga class. But it’s very easy to make excuses for not doing things that I love to do, even now. I’m too busy, the bakery needs my attention, I’m too tired, I have nothing to write about, I don’t need to do yoga every day, I don’t need to do yoga every other day, I’m still finding out who I am and what I want. Going to yoga class costs money, it’s not going to earn me any money. Sitting down to write takes time, it’s not my focus right now.

All those things might be true. But it’s also true that there was a time when my vision for my perfect life included a few simple things. And sure, that vision will always be morphing and changing, but those are such easy things to add into my life! There was a time when I wanted more yoga and more writing, and I still want more of those things. And there’s no reason I can’t have them today. In that sense, it was enlightening to check back in with who I was when this reality was just a dream. And I owe it to the girl who sat at that desk every day for years and years to make sure I’m now really doing the things I set out to do. I am reminded of how much I craved this time back them. I am reminded of how desperately I wanted and needed to have a different lifestyle, and how elated I would have been if I’d actually been able to snap my fingers and change it all in an instant.

I’m still as pleased as ever with my decision to leave my job. It was, I maintain, one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. It almost makes me want to cry sometimes to realize how grateful I am that I’ve done this.

But life is life. Good, bad, hard, fun, boring, thrilling, tiring, rewarding and all the rest of it in between. And it can be easy to grow accustomed to the day to day. And there are good days and harder days.

There are days when I’m content and relaxed. When I just want to scoop the whole world up and hug it because I’m so happy and feel so lucky to be alive, to be 29 years old (which remains, one week into it, to be an excellent age, by the way), to be standing at the beginning of the best years of my life, with my fantastic boyfriend, who happens to be my best friend, by my side, living in the best city in the world, building my life to be exactly what I want it to be.

And then there are days when I feel grouchy, moody, frustrated, worried, stressed and when I feel small and incapable. Sometimes I feel like I won’t succeed. Like I will be back in a paycheck job in six months. There are days when I feel completely blah. Human. Normal. Days when I feel nothing. Because you can’t have joy without pain and you can’t have excitement without boredom.

And that’s okay with me. Being blissfully happy all the time was not the goal. The goal was living my life how I wanted to live it. The honeymoon is ending and I’m coming into the phase of this journey where it’s my normal. I left my job almost exactly one month ago. And I can sometimes hardly remember what it was like to go to that office every day. (On second though, if I try for a second I could probably remember it exactly.)

This is my life now – the good, the bad, the indifferent.

I also wrote in that post about the fear that was sometimes crippling to me:

…fear of being broke, fear of leaving a “good” job that allows the people who care about me (myself included) to sleep at night, fear of ending up exactly where I dream of going and discovering that it’s not what I wanted at all, fear of having what I want and learning how hard it really is, fear of missing my desk job, fear of choosing a road less traveled, fear of making the wrong choice, the right choice, the impulsive choice, the overly-planned choice, fear that I’m running away from something or toward the unknown, fear of not having built any kind of real career for myself by now, fear of being judged, fear of being laughed at, fear of being lonely…

And the truth is? All those fears are still here. But they’ve quieted substantially. Because the quickest and easiest way to quiet fear is to do what you’re afraid of. Done and done. If you think there’s a ghost in the closet, open the closet and find out. (That’s a real life example.)

I will still worry and have anxieties about whether or not I will succeed. But the very act of getting up every day and actively living my new lifestyle gives those fears no true voice. And that’s something I want to share with anyone who’s still at the beginning of their journey to follow their bliss:  the fears we have will never go away, but they are completely meaningless. Holding onto the fear and making decisions based on the fear does nothing to bring us closer to our goals and dreams, it only provides something for our tired brains to chew on when we’ve got nothing else to obsess about. And it also gives the fear all the power. If anyone’s holding the power, it should be YOU. You are not your anxieties and worries.

The last paragraph of that old post said:

The beautiful and painful bottom line of the whole self-created saga I’ve laid out here is that I and I alone am the only person who can make these choices and take these actions and nothing anyone says – not my boyfriend or my mother or my boss or my grandfather – is going to create what’s true for me. What’s true for me is what I decide to make true for me.

So I made it true. Here I am. I still don’t have a solid understanding of what will happen, what my life will look like, say, a year from now – when I turn 30, for instance. But if the last month is any indication, it’s going to look pretty great. I’m happy, healthy, active, LIVING MY DREAM, and creating more dreams to work toward. And it’s The Best.