Why We Need Everything To Go Horribly Wrong Once In A While

Today I feel like an old bell tower, harsh against the cement sky, ringing out a discordant hallelujah. I feel the energy between the clashing notes and the peace of a quiet campus on an early winter dawn. I feel like a voice is cooing, soft and resolute, into each chamber of my heart, "we have made it".

 Photo by  Nikola Radojcic  on  Unsplash

I got to speak with one of the most beautiful humans I know today, and we had an energetic talk about how much control we have over our own realities. Sometimes we talk about periods, sometimes we talk about mental health, often we talk about our pets, and on occasion will dive into some existential discussions. Typical.

We discussed the victim mindset, where a person truly believes he or she is out of control of their own life, and maybe even that negative things are targeting them. I’ve felt it, and I’ve felt it often. But the truth is that, while we can’t control what happens to us, we can control how we react. It’s a painful saying to hear when you’re in the throes of difficulty, but it’s true.

Then we discussed what we’ve both been learning over the past year:

Sometimes you need everything to go wrong.

We’ve both been walking a path full of deep ruts, interspersed with interruptions and last-minute turns. Job changes, health issues, moves—all these things can change your life instantly. Things like car troubles, foul weather, even a road closed on your route to work can interrupt your flow to great frustration.

These things may look like giant stains on the canvas of your life, but when you step back and look at the big picture, they make up some of the most interesting and vibrant moments of your wild life.

We get so stuck thinking that things are, and will be, a certain way indefinitely. Which isn’t wrong—humans are creatures of habit and we do love a good routine. But there’s something else about us that we don't realize until we're put to the test:

We are master improvisers

Every day, no matter how calculated you are, you’re required to improvise in some way. A conversation with a coworker, a detour, an email. If you’re like me, you have to come up with things like breakfast and what to wear, right there on the spot with minutes to spare.

And this improvisational muscle thrives the more it’s exercised. Think about balancing on one leg. You may waver, but it’s the wavering today that will make it easier for you to balance tomorrow.

The more you stretch yourself to do new and challenging improvisational things, the better you’ll be when the next disruption comes along. I know it’s not easy to welcome things like unexpected job changes, moves, or health issues, but they’re often for the better. Or at least leave a lasting lesson that makes you the multifaceted and enchanting individual that you are.

Practicing non-attachment

Something that has helped me deal with disruptions and painful moments in my life has been the oh-so-yoga idea of practicing non-attachment. Which means not holding any moment too closely—negative or positive. Knowing that everything is impermanent has helped me take a more objective look at trials and to feel more gratitude towards happy moments.

Moments where everything goes wrong are moments that our non-attachment is tested the greatest. We want to curl up, to feel like we’re being attacked, to blame the world and its injustices. But letting the fury and spite take a tour of our minds and bodies but not carve out a home for themselves is one of the greatest acts of self love we do for ourselves.

When everything is going wrong, don’t let anger or resentment seep into your gentle marrow. No one benefits from their storage. Allow the emotion, feel the feelings, but then let them go with an exhale.

When everything is going wrong, breathe. You will always have control over your unconquerable soul.

I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


From Office Hours To Wild After-Hours: My Advice To College Freshmen

Today I feel like a slow, chunky acoustic version of a nostalgic song. Like each step I’m taking is a deep strum of a heartfelt chord leading me forward. As cool as classic rock, and as confident as 90’s pop.

 Photo by  Cynthia del Río  on  Unsplash

Next year is my ten year high school reunion. I still feel like a child in so many ways, but the thought of being ten years distanced from my first lottery ticket purchase is disorienting.

If you’ve been reading along, you probably know that I’ve been a little hung up on my college years lately, so I wanted to take this evening to share some thoughts and advice I have for college kids, freshmen especially.

Let's dive in.

Be wrong.

When I first went to college, I believed I could do no wrong. I had emerged from my little high school bubble with quite the high horse in tow, and I started to get bad grades on subjects I had breezed through in high school. I was wrong about how hard I'd have to work.

I had a world built from assumptions that was challenged and soon my wrong, but well-constructed ideas about everything came tumbling down. And I was able to build a new world based on hearing the experiences of others and listening to people who knew more than I did. I had to check my ego at the door and put on the humble collegiate cardigan. It’s okay. You’ll have plenty of time in your life to think you're right.

Be open.

Like I said, I came from a pretty conservative, judgment-heavy bubble, so when I started meeting people who had wildly varying life experiences, I had to stop making my classic snap judgments. I learned to listen better than I ever had, and had a richer experience because of it.

Be open to new experiences, to joining new student organizations, to taking a class that might make you uncomfortable, to giving ballroom dancing or public speaking a try.

Write shitty things, then write better things.

Your first year will likely include a nasty writing class that will ring you out like a sopping towel. It will drain you of all your worst words, and make room for you to soak up better communication tools.

This will come in handy. If you can construct a few decent sentences and string them together in professional emails and messages, you’ll be ten steps ahead of the fools who didn’t pay attention in this class.

It also helps with critical reading, so you can impress people at parties with your analysis of things like The Odyssey. Or use that new vocabulary to blow people away with a deep dive into the metaphors and themes behind the newest episode of South Park.

Work a bit, if you can.

This one isn’t fun. I worked quite a bit during my school years, but I wish I would have just added a few hours here and there. Mostly because I could have started to chip away at my student loans while they were still interest-free.

Work a few different jobs—you’ll meet fellow students and odd townies that you’d never have met otherwise. I rolled burritos in my dorm's food court for a couple of months, I worked at the bookstore during the beginning and end of a semester, and also as a writing tutor (hence my previous tip). All of those were strange and wonderful experiences that I wouldn’t change.

Live alone, and live with others.

I can’t stress this one enough. At some point in your life, live alone and get used to being by yourself. It’s helpful when you wake up one day ten years not knowing who you even are anymore—you’ll have those experiences to anchor you. Plus you can get to know just how truly messy you are.

But then live with roommates. It’s the most challenging and rewarding experience. You’ll learn how to communicate intimately with someone who isn’t sharing your bed. You’ll get confronted with your own bad habits in surprising ways, and it can be enlightening. But if you’re lucky, you’ll find the best shoulder ever to cry on when you’re all totally drunk at 3AM. Or who will be there when you say, hungover, "I've made a huge mistake," and they'll say, "me too" and you'll share your sadnesses and help one another bear the burdens. Roommates: challenging + best ever.

Find your tribe.

It’s so cliché, but really. Find the people who make you feel safe to be yourself. Don’t join things just to join them, find the group that really lights you up.

Go to open houses, check out a few meetings, go to events that sound interesting to you. Sometimes that means no one in your dorm wants to go with you, and that’s okay. You can handle going to things alone. Do it—you’ll surprise yourself.

Find your vibe.

Do you love wandering aimlessly around campus for hours watching the magic of academia unfold? Or do you love meeting up with your friends at the hole-in-the-wall pub off campus? Or hanging out playing pool in the rec room? Or hiding on the tenth floor of the library where all the good poetry is kept and there are no windows?

Seek the moments that you love, for no other reason than that you love them. Relish those moments of doing whatever the eff you want to do, because those are the memories that will stay with you a decade later.

Meet everyone.

If you can muster the introductions, hang out with the people you live near, meet new people at events, say hello to the custodians. Go to office hours (oof, a great regret of mine is that I didn’t go to enough of these, as nerdy as it sounds) and get to know the professors that are most inspiring to you.

Go see the speakers who are invited to your campus and ask questions to people you’ll rarely have the chance to see for free in the “real world”. Take internships and ask questions about careers that are interesting to you. Email people you find inspiring to say thank you and ask them about their life's path that led them to being so awesome.

And date. Flirt with interesting people, go on dates with them. This is a little hypocritical since I started dating the man who would become my husband within the first four weeks of my freshman year, but I do think it would have behooved me to attempt dating other humans. But then somehow to find my way to Victor. It all goes so well in my head. Just, date.

Be safe.

And speaking of dating interesting people, please be safe. Don’t go with strange men to strange places, especially if you feel uncomfortable. Don’t take drinks from strangers. Have a trusted wingman or wingwoman if you’re going to get wasted.

Always try to have a plan or someone you trust babysitting you. Don’t do hard drugs. Wear protection. Have someone check in on you if you’ve been out partying. Drink plenty of water and sleep it off in your own bed. Don’t ever, ever, ever drive if you’re drunk or even tipsy.

Be a little wild.

That all being said, I do think college can be a safe place to experiment with your edges. I pushed my own limits more than I’d like to say, but I was always with my group of trusted friends or my dear roommate (whom I will never properly be able to thank for her protection and friendship, because there just are no words—she's the "me too" roommate I mentioned earlier. Hey girl!

Drink a little, smoke a little, do things you want to do because you want to do them. Don’t let other people influence you to make a decision outside of your comfort zone—you are the captain of your ship, so you should navigate your own waters in your own time.

My greatest wish for college freshmen is that they don’t feel like they wasted their time. Waste money, waste office hours, waste yourself, but don’t leave college feeling like you haven’t learned anything.

You don’t have to take away a 4.0 GPA, and you don’t have to take away full self-knowledge. So few people know unequivocally what they want their life to look like when they’re 22, so don’t push yourself to figure out just what that is in those four short years.

What college should do for you is equip you with the questions to help shape you further, the tools to dive a little deeper into the rest of your life, the relationships to help support your next jump into the “real world”.

Enjoy yourself, explore, and release all expectations. You’ll love what you find.


Breaking The Boss Babe Work Trap And Being Softer On Ourselves

Today I feel like a puzzle that’s missing all its corner pieces. I feel a sense of completion, but not a sense of success.

Mondays are always rough for me.

I spend all day on the computer in my apartment doing mind-numbing work that doesn’t have an end point. I begin my week with a day of aimlessness and no matter how much I achieve,  I still feel like I missed the mark.

Mondays make for a very grumpy Emily.

Last year, it used to be that I worked like this every day. Loose projects with vague timelines or unpredictable levels of work. I would clock five, or maybe six hours if I was lucky, because I stopped the clock each time I stood up to take lunch or head to the bathroom. Most days were that: at least five hours of time spent glued to my desk chair.

It was so difficult to see five hours on my timer app, because I’ve been taught that eight hours is a normal workday. I would extend my working hours earlier into the day and later into the night, so that I was working all day, every day in hopes of achieving that golden "8 hour day". I would eat lunch in front of my computer, spend Friday nights on my laptop while movies played in the background, and I've even hopped on to complete some work while guests are over.

And even though things have changed greatly in the past year (hello, office space and engaging work), I’m still doing a lot of work from home. All day on Monday + two or three evenings a week, and sometimes weekends, I’m in work mode.

There’s never an end, especially since these past few months have been a financial rollercoaster. Work is the only thing I have that I can half-control, so I dive in like it’s my safe place. Because it totally is.

When I’m working, I don’t have to look at the messy apartment, or the tragic comedy in our bank account, or even worry about taking care of myself. I become an actual robot, programmed to make money. I forget to drink, to eat. To go outside and see the sun.

I know it’s not okay, but I’m never sure how to disentangle myself from something that, in the long run, will take us to a more secure and stable financial place. If I step back and look at the loans and debts we have, I panic thinking about how I’m not doing anything to alleviate them.

How can I chill out when there is no chill to be had?

I’m going to switch gears here and talk about what tiny adjustments I’ve discovered that help me, and I hope if you work from home or struggle with drawing a similar line, maybe you can find some solace here.

I also am getting worked up just writing about my effed-up relationship with work and I’m not about to add a mini breakdown to my Monday.

A few ways I’ve learned to be softer with myself

I try to do these things every day, but I'm not perfect. Be gentle with your sweet self if you miss one or two.

Drink water. As much as you possibly can, until walking to the restroom becomes a significant part of your pedometer steps for the day. I used to employ this tactic at a job that docked your vacation time if you clocked in more than two minutes late - they policed everything, but they couldn’t say anything about how often I went to the bathroom. Not only does it make you feel better, but it’s a built-in reminder to get up and move around.

Dress up. Take the time to put on a little makeup or wear pants while you work. It will make you feel a little more of a part of society. Do not wake up and pull on the same dress you have worn for three days straight because you haven’t done anything in it to warrant washing it. It will not make you happy. On this same note, I was on a good run for a while where I painted my nails with an absurdly pink + sparkly nail polish and it was a nice little treat each time I looked at my hands.

Do not drink all the coffee. I’m so, so sorry. Maybe it truly does work for you, but I found that coffee was messing with my moods, my appetite, my sleep, my water intake. If you feel like maybe life could be better without it, try giving it up for a couple weeks. The first week will hurt like hell physically and emotionally, but now that I’ve been off the daily grind (heh), I’ve been able to enjoy coffee once a week without too much disruption. Tea exists, and it is delicious.

Eat something you like and that you feel good about fueling yourself with. When you’re in a rut or are consumed by a project, it’s so easy to just eat whatever you see first when you remember to take a lunch break. Prep a salad and cut up some fruit before you start your day so you have no excuses. Here too, be sure you eat something for breakfast. Even just a few bites of oatmeal can have an immensely positive impact on my day.

Have a good desk setup. A comfortable chair and ergonomic keyboard are all well and good, but I’m talking a little more about emotional support than tech support. If you’re going to be camped out at your desk, make it a fully functional self-care command station: have your favorite lotion on hand to remind you to moisturize, have a desk chapstick that you love, maybe add some candles and matches or essential oils. Hang up a picture or a print that doesn’t stress you out or make you unproductively desperate for life beyond your four walls. Something calming, something sweet.

But ultimately, the biggest way to help yourself is to set goals.

Most of my worst days come from things not going according to a plan that I never had in the first place. If I don’t set down goals, then I never meet them - and that makes me experience failure and inadequacy on a daily basis (on top of the failure and inadequacy that’s just built in to humans that we’re all constantly fighting).

Make them achievable, reasonable, with a clear stopping point so you don't self-sabotage and just try to get one more spreadsheet done. 

This Monday is done and over with (thank God), but I think that next week I’ll have to really focus on setting down concrete goals for the day. From there, I know I need to take a little time to plan out my week more in-depth.

Oh, and don’t forget the weekends - a little structure can go a long way. I keep getting caught up in the week and then land into my Saturdays like a baby bird who’s first flight out of the nest ended up with her just lying dazed in the yard below. Before I know it, the weekend is gone (oops, I worked all weekend again), and it’s crappy Monday again.

Between today’s post and yesterday’s post, I’m seeing a desperate need for a little more structure in my life.

I suppose that structure can be soft, too.

Being gentle with yourself isn’t always just feeding yourself coconut macaroons and curling up in the closest soft blanket while you watch 30 Rock for the eighteenth time. Being gentle with yourself can also mean setting achievable goals and adhering to reasonable timelines. It can also mean that sometimes you say no to watching Liz Lemon’s shenanigans.

Although I will say, I’m in pretty desperate need of a girls wine & binge-watching day. Someone come paint my nails for me and tell me I’m doing okay.

I’m off to bed, and with any luck I’ll get up a little early in time to eat some ultra-nutty, wildly fibrous oatmeal while I doodle down a few achievable goals for my Tuesday-Friday. And if you have some weekend planning suggestions, I’m ready to listen.

Happy almost Tuesday, my babies. We made it.


Let's Talk About Sex(ual Harassment): Just Because You Don't See It Doesn't Mean It's Not Happening

Today I feel like I’ve finally reached the top of a sand dune and can curl myself up into a ball and roll down for a little while before I have to climb the next one. I feel like my skin is a momentary oasis instead of a battlefield. I feel as indignant as a late summer sun.

 Photo by  Cristian Newman  on  Unsplash

Disappointed, but not surprised.

That’s how I felt this week when I found out my husband’s former boss was accused of sexual harassment. With all the stories coming out about Harvey Weinstein, more women in media felt safe to address their experiences, and I celebrate them for their courage and mourn for their trauma at the same time.

Several women have come forward about this man, and the DM’s and emails they share are nauseating. He doesn’t even try to hide what he wants, and he diffuses each and every sexually inappropriate comment with an “lol”.

I can see that it’s been on my husband’s mind, and I'm sad that it had to happen to his friends for him to truly realize the tragic nature of it all. I think it's a surprise for so many men.

Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

So many women feel like they have to put up with unwanted sexual advances or comments because their job, their livelihood, is at stake. In this particular case, women had gone to HR and nothing was done about it. They then had to decide whether to leave or stay on their own accord.

It happened to some employees girlfriends - and they were threatened with the loss of their partner’s jobs over it.

Women are expected to bend to fit the needs of men in power, because truly - who has more to lose? A man who is going to continue to profit and succeed despite his disgusting comments, or a woman who is just getting on her feet financially and professionally? (And not to mention that women have to work way harder to get the same career opportunities as men).

To The Men Of The Internet:

Ask a woman that you know (if you know any) if she’s ever been made to feel unsafe because of her gender identity. Then get really, really quiet and fucking listen. Because maybe you’ll hear echoes of things that you’ve done or said, and maybe you can learn a few things about how different our experience is than yours.

Maybe you're like, golden, and you don't feel like you have to change anything. In that case, listen more closely. Don't just shrug off these issues because you think you're the exception.

If you don’t have a woman in your life, you can listen to me.

I consider myself fortunate to not have had such extreme interactions, although this week has brought up some memories that I had genuinely forgotten. These are my stories, and I’m sure you or the women in your life have some version of these stories that they’ve worked to forget as well:

I remember being a preteen walking to and from the neighborhood pool, and on more than one occasion being followed slowly by men in cars. They would circle the block and come around again, to the point where my friends and I would run the rest of the way home.

I remember being on the beach during spring break and college-age men inviting me (18 years old) and my cousin (15 years old) to party with them. I said no, and they tried to coerce us into hanging out with them. We finally just walked on, to their frustration, and when they called our attention back to them, one of them had his naked butt hanging out of his swim trunks.

Cool, you showed us.

That same cousin and I were jet skiing a year earlier while visiting my grandparent’s lake and we kept doing donuts until we fell off the jet ski. Because that’s what you do in Indiana. A couple young men jet skied over and leapt into the water to “save” us. I don’t remember the details, but they definitely got creepy enough around my cousin for me to yell “DUDE SHE’S 14.” They jetted away so fast that they left their true intentions lingering in the waves around us.

I was in an office situation in college where a male colleague of mine would come into my office, lock the door behind him, and sit and chat with me. He would try on my sweaters, ask me inappropriate questions, make himself at home. I remember trying to play it cool but I was still shaking, not sure if I was going to have to make a run for it or yell for help at any moment. It went on for a long time because I knew that I still had to work with this person, until I finally spoke to the (male) leader of the group about it. I was grateful when the locking-me-in-my-office moments stopped, but I still faced questions like “why have we never dated?”

During a Mad Men-themed day at the office, I had a male colleague look at my 60’s-inspired workwear and tell me “I feel like I should have you take notes for me or something.” Oh, what a laugh we had. It’s small, but it was a very clear expression of dominance that makes me cringe to this day.

Still not convinced?

One of my dearest friends would get called into a male colleagues office, where he’d show her pictures of young women he claimed he’d had sex with. As it got worse (and more personal), she felt cornered: tell HR about him and be a “tattle tale” or let it continue and just wait until she had enough experience to move to another company. I continue to admire her courage for choosing to tell HR. Ultimately, that man was terminated. But guess what? She felt guilty.

WOMEN SHOULD NOT HAVE TO FEEL GUILTY FOR THE PUNISHMENT OF THEIR PREDATORS.

Women who tell the world about their experiences are not “bitching and moaning” about things they should just get over. They do not have thin skin, and it's not that they "can't take a joke". They are not intentionally trying to ruin a “promising” man’s life. They are protecting their own lives.

If you have never seen a sexual harassment video (which were all produced in the 90's, I'm sure of it), or somehow the rules don't make sense to you, let me help.

Here’s a quick guide on how to not sexually harass someone:

  • Can it be construed, at all, as creepy? Are you about to say something just because the person you are speaking to is a woman? Don't. Say. It.

  • Do not make a comment about someone’s physical appearance that you wouldn’t make to your sibling. You probably would not tell your sister about how you like to stare at her butt, unless you are Jaime Lannister. Even if you are Jaime Lannister, please do not do that.

  • Do not say anything on the internet that you would not say to that person’s face. Better yet, imagine that your mom is in the room (or the DM's) and is hearing what you say. Make your mom proud.

  • Do not talk about your penis to women who are not an existing consenting sexual partner, or unless she is a doctor and you are at an appointment to discuss said penis.

Some men believe that women should be grateful for the objectification. It. Is. Not. A. Privilege. Or. A. Compliment. To. Be. Objectified.

I am sad and tired for women. Every new piece of legislation seems actively against us, and willfully ignorant of our needs. Every piece of news that comes out is unsurprising, and I’m sad that it’s taken someone directly in our lives for me and my husband to have in-depth conversations about it. I’ve been more open with him this week about what it means to be a woman than I ever have been - and I am sad it’s taken this disgusting series of events to bring it up.

Ladies, tell your partner about your experiences. Tell your children - sons and daughters - and teach them how to treat each other. Ask them in no unclear terms to listen to this important message. And maybe we can work our way towards a less shitty future.

It’s also not lost on me that my experience this week echoes those experiences of people of color in this country - that no one listens until it happens to someone they know and love. Or no one listens or pays attention until the victim is white. Or the perpetrator was "promising" or "a totally normal guy".

My heart breaks for people that I haven’t truly been able to understand because of my white privilege. And I will say to you what I have told my husband to say to his female colleagues:

I am listening. I support you. I believe you. I am sorry. I will try harder.

So much love and strength to you all tonight.


My New Intention Around Work + Writing

Last week, I attended a live intention-setting workshop with Jess Lively of The Lively Show. To say I enjoy her work is a serious understatement; her podcast has been instrumental in teaching me the vocabulary I need to live a more stable, intentional life.

This workshop was a little teaser to her full course, Life With Intention Online, that I hope to take someday based on all of the positive things I've heard about it and just how much I appreciate Jess's influence in my own life.

The intention-setting workshop

As we went through the workshop, she walked us through the difference between values and intentions. This is how she defines values:

A value is a principle or quality that is intrinsically desireable.

And this is how she defines intentions:

An intention is a statement of our deepest values in a particular area of life. 

From what I understand, values are more universal and less changing, while intentions are more flexible based on the season of our lives or our circumstances. Values are fairly broad, while intentions are a bit more specific.

From there, she reminded us something that hit me pretty hard:

 

Intentions are not goals, future-oriented or expectation-focused.

I am such a sucker for all things goal-like, future-oriented and expectation-focused, so it's a stretch for me to tone it down a few notches and connect with my true intentions. This workshop helped me recognize how I've been operating, and where I need to start giving myself a little more grace.

But first, values

So I first thought about where my values lie. It helped to narrow my focus to a specific area of my life, so I looked at my work and writing. When I came up with these values based on that area, I realized that they were relevant across the board. Here they are:

  • Creativity
  • Productivity
  • Sharing Joy

I wanted productivity in there as well, because I know how fulfilling it is for me when I "ship" something. As in, hit publish on a blog post, send an email, finish another row on my crochet project, etc. I just felt like creativity wasn't enough of a push to me, so I doubled down with productivity as well.

Crafting an intention from those values

So after that, she encouraged us to combine those values into a statement of intention, and it came so easily:

My intention is to produce creative work that brings joy to myself and others.

That "brings joy" part is really important, because I want to feel good about my work and I love knowing that it helps others feel good as well. I know how much I depend on uplifting people in my own life, so I hope to also uplift others in need.

So here's the challenge for you: choose an area of your life (possessions, personal habits, relationships, career) and identify three or four values you hold in that area. Here's a giant list of values if you need some help.

Then, pull those together into something concrete that you can put by your desk or in the notes on your phone - somewhere you'll see it and reflect on it often. Use it as your guiding light when you have to make tough decisions. What choice is in line with the intention you set?

Jess Lively has a free intuition mini-course that's always available, if you want to get a feel for her work. I can't recommend her enough.

I'd love to hear some of your values or intentions! What area of life do you need to focus on right now?

How to Handle Changes to Your Routine

For three months, my husband and I have been on a strict 6AM-3PM workweek schedule, and we've loved every minute of it.

But on Monday, it’s all going to change (quite unexpectedly). He has to switch back to a 2PM-11PM shift, the one he worked before this. That shift was a strain on our health, our relationship, and our productivity, so this is not a welcome change.

The best we can say is that at least he still has a job.

The unexpected disruptions

Disruptions can throw you off in a major way, whether it's something life-changing, or it's as small as having to take a new route to work.

When it comes as a surprise, the most natural response is to feel like it’s personal. I found myself resisting the change at first (we had a week’s notice), but I realized that the new schedule wouldn’t care whether or not I was angry about it.

The new schedule just is.

Planning instead of reacting

Our priority is to be proactive about the change. Instead of just showing up on Monday morning and trying to figure things out then, we’re looking at what we currently have on our plate and shifting it around.

This is going to mean that we have to plan (and pre-cook) more meals, so Sundays will be different. We’re also going to see each other less, so we have to plan out how to optimize our weekends. And finally, we’re going to have to make some adjustments to our exercise routine.

If you’re facing this type of change too, you might have to readjust your goals. That can be stressful and depressing, so try to discover where you can make more progress than you were able to before. For example, this change might help us run together more often since we’ll have time in the cool morning weather again.

Communicate until you cannot communicate anymore

With disruptions like this, it’s essential to communicate with your partner, friends or family about how it’s going to work.

My husband and I share any concerns we have about the new schedule, and also try to find the bright side wherever we can. We’re sharing what each of us plan to do individually once the schedule changes, and outline where we believe this might add tension (or relief!) on us as a couple.

It’s an effort, not a plan

Remember: at first, this is not going to be a routine. It’s going to be a constant effort to remain in your new schedule as completely and efficiently as you can. 

At the end of the first week, evaluate how you spent your time. How does that stack up to where you want it to be? If it’s missing the mark, reevaluate your plans for the next week. Continue to revise and correct where you can, and allow yourself a lot of grace during those first few weeks of the new schedule.

In time, you’ll create a new routine. Or you can do what we’re doing and actively seek ways to reinstate the old routine (hello, job search, how we love you).

This disruption can either be a bump in the road, or it can be the catalyst for the next step of your life. It’s up to you.

How do you handle disruptions to your routine?

How to Improve Your Self-Introduction

What do you do for a living?

This question always makes my mind erupt into madness. My tongue gets twisted and I stammer something like “I am a data management coordinator, it’s freelance. I work from home. I do spreadsheets.”

It's a little embarrassing and it definitely doesn't leave a strong impression. So, I took some time this week to write down my ideal response to this question, because writing things down helps me become more confident about them.

These days, I’m a little better about telling people the other thing I do: I am a blogger and freelance writer. It’s not technically a lie, it’s just ignoring the implied “for money” at the end of the question “what do you do?”

It's a work in progress (as everything always is), but I wanted to share the writing practice that I've been using to help me craft a better self-introduction.

Writing your own introduction

First, determine why you need practice doing this. It helps to keep this in mind when you’re writing everything down. Is it because of a career shift, or because you want a shift in perception around you?

Or do you want to become more confident in telling people exactly what you do without downplaying it? I find that a lot of Midwest transplants out here in Los Angeles have trouble owning the good work they are doing because they’re nervous about bragging.

Outline the most common questions

Next, list the questions you're faced with most often. Maybe you’re line of work or social network means that you get different questions, but these are some of the most basic ones:

  • What do you do?
  • Where are you from?
  • What brings you here?

Be prepared to elaborate further on those, especially about what you do.

Free write until your heart’s content

Then, write out how you would like to introduce yourself in an ideal situation. Think of how you can introduce yourself now, and how you might like to introduce yourself within the next six months, just to keep things fresh and actionable.

Don’t lie, but do push the limits of your comfort zone. If you’re tempted to just say something like “marketing,” explore the idea of including more description. Tell the world that you’re a manager, or that you work at a tech company, or that you’re into media outreach or social engagement.

Develop a rough elevator pitch

If you want to take it a step further, go through what you just wrote and pick out your favorite words. I like to list those on a separate page and then string them together to create a shorter explanation of what I do.

Bonus: you can use this on social profiles like LinkedIn and Twitter if you get it just right.

Make it happen

This exercise is intended specifically to help you implement these changes in your social interactions. It will take more than a page of notes to change the shape of your professional identity, so consider doing this at least once a month.

Put a reminder on your phone to check in with yourself, and allow yourself to grow into the introduction you're crafting for yourself.

Lead yourself with your beliefs and your words, and the rest will follow.

Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
— Mahatma Gandhi