Tagged: Career Happiness

On opening the windows, shaking off the dust, and blogging again

I have that feeling now, that feeling where the weather starts turning warmer and you want to clean everything and throw out all of your winter clothes and go shopping.  Spring fever or something like that.

I’m finally home.  My traveling isn’t over forever, but I don’t have any work trips planned for at least a month and I’m settling back into a more normal routine.

I’ve missed you all.  And I’m excited to be back, but also nervous that it’s silly to blog after being away for months.  (But, honestly, blogging is a little silly at its very nature, so whether or not there will be readers really doesn’t increase or decrease its inherent silliness, am I right?)

Work has been — hard.  I’ve been traveling and stressing out and making presentations and filtering spreadsheets and loving every minute.  I’ve never felt more grateful for anything than I have felt these last few months for the continued opportunity to work hard in a job I love.  I’ve had really terrible jobs, and I know how depressing and terrifying and boring it is to feel like your time is not used well and you aren’t accomplishing anything because I have lived that life too.  A lot.  (If you are there right now, I’m sorry.)

I’m also learning first-hand how important it is to set boundaries for myself.  Everything in moderation.  When I’m caught up in my work, months can pass without me remembering to get a hair-cut, go out with my friends, paint my fingernails.  And let’s not even talk about laundry.

When you’ve been going nonstop and working a lot its easy to convince yourself that your work is very important and that because your work is important, you are important too.  And that is a lie.  Just because your job is hard or your hours are long does not mean your job is important.  And, whether or not you work a lot or your job is important does not make you important.  You are already important because you are a person who loves others and who is greatly loved.  Being a person who is alive is AWESOME.

I’m mostly writing for myself today.  And this is what I need to hear, every day, but especially when things feel insane or tedious or impossible or just plain boring.  You too?

 

Thanks for joining me here, my friends.  It’s been too long, hasn’t it?  How are things? 

What I’m Into: Summer 2014

Well, it’s September.  Holy cow.  How did this happen?  The summer has flown by in a blur, but there were a few pockets of awesome mixed in too.  Here is a quick rundown of some of the things I loved (or learned) over the past few months.

 

I went to a professional soccer game.  It was crazy fun.  Did you know that fans throw beer into the air after each score during DC United soccer games?  Yeah, me either.  They do.  (Pro tip: do not wear your suit to the game even if you are going after work.  Dry-cleaning is expensive.)

blog photo soccer game

 

I ate a lot of not-so-great restaurant food, but I also enjoyed some pretty yummy DC meals during my lengthy hotel stay.  For example, have you ever eaten a scotch egg?  It’s a soft-boiled egg, wrapped in sausage, and then breaded and deep fried.  I think.  I tried this one at the Copperwood Tavern in Shirlington (Arlington), Virginia.  It was delicious.

scotch eggs copperwood tavern

 

During the rare minutes I wasn’t working or traveling this summer, I mostly (a) went to dinner with friends or (b) watched Netflix in my hotel room.  But one weekend when H was in town we drove out to Theodore Roosevelt Island for a little wilderness.  Did you know that even though they drained all of the water out of the fountains on Theodore Roosevelt Island and closed the island’s bathrooms for repair, the landmark is beautiful in a weirdly Soviet way?  It needs a lot of love and attention and Teddy deserves better.  I was excited to finally visit the Island and — disappointment all around.

Eagle Island

 

I took a four-day weekend over the Fourth of July and flew to Chicago to drive to Detroit to spend the weekend with extended inlaws.  I caught two huge fish and one tiny perch and bought my own fishing pole (named Ice) and a camo fishing hat from Bass Pro Shops.  It was potentially the best weekend ever.

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This summer I also saw two pretty cool people get married, ate a TON of Kansas City barbecue, went to brunch with some pretty fabulous people (really, tons of Brunch.  That’s my kind of summer.), and learned a lot at work.  After 60 days away, I’m feeling pretty comfortable in my skin and more confident about what I want out of my life.  Which is to say, a cool job is cool but it isn’t enough.

 

AND THEN I came home.  It was beautiful.  I crashed the first night in Chicago and then got to work, making our two-bedroom condo overlooking the city mine.  My return home was one year after our move to Chicago (weird how anniversaries work, isn’t it?) and only a few days before our fourth wedding anniversary, and I didn’t want to enter this new year without fully unpacking from our move and settling into our space.  We still had a few boxes of photographs and art pieces that needed to be hung, and we had crammed all of our excess belongings into the guest room closet (seriously, it was treacherous), and it was time to dig in and clean out.  We made a huge contribution to Goodwill and have a few more furniture pieces headed that way next week.

 

I built these flower boxes on my balcony when I got back to Chicago.  And by built, I mean I purchased them from Home Depot and encouraged my husband while he attached them to our balcony with screws.  But I planted them myself and so far only 1 out of 10 of these plants is showing signs of death.  And only a slight shade of death, so that’s a pretty successful planting experience for this black thumbed girl.

flower boxes

 

Here is a photo of my beautiful clean kitchen.  I emptied every cabinet, dusted and cleaned, scrubbed the appliances, rearranged our dishware and even set up a cookbook display to add some extra color.  It doesn’t look exactly like this every day, but we are trying to maintain.

clean kitchen blog

 

And, while cleaning and sorting and donating has taken up a lot of my non-work minutes, we’ve also made sure to spend a little time out in the city.  Chicago is a beautiful place to live, and I’m so happy to be home.

chicago love

Today’s post is part of Leigh Kramer’s What I’m Into Link-Up.  To join the link-up or check out other posts, please click here.

 

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 5.3.2014

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This week’s five things all focus in some way on women.  Enjoy!

  1. This article from Salon.com discussing the problem with using the term “women problem” to describe a cultural failure of including, promoting, or appreciating women.

  2. This story from my new friend Diana, on being a woman in seminary.

  3. This feature story at The Atlantic (from last week) entitled The Confidence Gap.

  4. This New York Post article on the outstanding character and accomplishments of the woman George Clooney is lucky enough to be engaged to.

  5. This list written by my friend Hannah about five things she learned growing up in a fundamentalist household.  This post was so popular that it broke her blog, so that’s a good sign, right?  Right.

So, what awesome things did you read this week?

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.18.2014

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This Forbes Magazine article introducing a report by the coalition Americans For Tax Fairness that estimates the amount of government assistance awarded indirectly to Walmart.  Their theory is that Walmart is able to make high profits by keeping its employees’ incomes low, and that those employees are able to survive and continue working due to public benefits like food and housing assistance payments.  What makes this theory even weirder is that a huge portion of those food stamps benefits are then spent AT WALMART, thus forming somewhat of a double subsidy to the corporation.  Note: the math/methodology of this report isn’t a perfect science, but it is a quite interesting assessment.  Either way, definitely take a look.

This Festival of Faith and Writing wrap-up piece by my NEW FRIEND(!!!!!) Anne Bogel.  There were some other goods ones too!  Check out the hashtag #ffwGR to learn more about the festival.  I may post my own reflections here, but it’ll be next week which is a little un-timely so if you are interested now, the twitter hashtag is your friend.

This Inc. assessment of whether or not you genuinely love what you do.  I scored 13 out of 15, which means I am “deeply, madly in love with [my] work!”  That’s pretty cool, right?  What is your score?

Last week I read this article at the Harvard Business Review blog and I was like WHAT THE WHAT, if this ever happened to me I would probably quit my job. Basically, one of the CEOs of PepsiCo apparently calls the parents of her Millennial employees to tell those parents just how special and lovely their children are.  This week, my absolute favorite management blog was like WHAT THE HELL.  Thank goodness there are still reasonable people out there on the internet.  And please read the comments here, they are hilarious.  FYI: Your Millennial employees do not want you to call their parents to tell said parents that their children are special snowflakes.  Seriously, don’t.

And finally, for you guys who, like me, aren’t exactly sure what to do when everyone else starts clapping and/or crying in church this week, here’s a little something for you from Kristen Howerton at Rage Against the Minivan.

Okay, that’s five!  What awesome things did you read this week? 

 

On Powerful Words

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I connected with my law school mentor this week. It’s been a while since we were in touch. She shared some good news I wanted to hear, and I shared a link to the panel on creative writing projects by prisoners INCARCERATED PERSONS I attended last week.

It was just a few emails, sent back and forth while we were each doing our own regular work. Nothing important, really. I asked about her daughter’s first year away at college; she asked how my husband’s job was going and if we’d fallen in love with Chicago yet. [Quite well, and yes! a little more every day.] She asked about my current work, and I wrote back about my ongoing project and how I was surprisingly very happy even though I wasn’t currently practicing law. She replied,

Wow, [pink-briefcase] — that is amazing. Those are some incredible skills you are learning. What is the hardest part? Where do you see yourself after this?

We talked a little more, about law school rankings and the future of legal education and the flowers blooming there but not here, but those twenty-five words worked a powerful magic in my heart.

  .  .  .  .

I have a supervisor that isn’t my supervisor at work. He is kind of a mentor, kind of a boss, and kind of a friend. I’ve learned a lot working for/with him. Every now and then, when things get rough and I start to feel on edge, I read over an email he sent one day, which started off:

Your professionalism, persistence, patience, exemplary work ethic and positive attitude have been evident to all throughout this project.

On days when nothing goes right and all I can do is put down my pen and shake my head and pour the tea and start over again, this sentence waits for me. I look up and see it, hanging on my blue bulletin board right above the empty jar that once held black-raspberry jelly my husband’s grandmother made us for Christmas, which now holds pens and highlighters and a pair of scissors, and I read those words. I remind myself that one bad day cannot cancel out months of hard work.

  . . . .

I’m not sure that either of these mentor-friends knows how important their words were/are to me. I didn’t write back “HOLY COW THAT IS SO NICE I’M GOING TO PRINT OUT THIS EMAIL AND HANG IT ON MY BULLETIN BOARD AND LOOK AT IT EVERY DAY FOREVER.” I said thank you and continued on, slightly embarrassed about all of the fuss. No perfectionist really wants to be congratulated for doing a good job (don’t I always do a good job? I always try to do a good job! why is this time different? did I screw up something terribly last week?! . . . ). But as awkward as I may feel when I first receive these affirmations, I am completely changed by knowing that people I trust think these things. I am confident and brave and resilient because I trust their opinions of me to be true, even when my opinion of myself falls far short of their esteem.

We talk a lot online about how words have consequences, but we often really mean that words have negative consequences. We criticize and condemn each other too freely, with too little concern for the way another might feel to read a scathing review, a bullying comment, a snide remark. We forget too quickly that it could easily be the negative comments they are printing out and hanging up on the blue bulletin boards of their hearts. Negative words do have an undeniably strong hold on us, but I’m becoming more aware of the immense power positive words hold as well.

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.11.2014

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  1. The Culture of Shut Up, by Jon Lovett for The Atlantic.

  2. What Abandoning Evangelicalism Does and Does Not Look Like, by Zack Hunt for The American Jesus.

  3. Am I Overstepping When I Try To Be Emotionally Intelligent?, by Alison Green at Ask A Manager.

  4. The recovery puzzle: A new factory in Ohio struggles to match jobs to job-seekers, by Monica Hesse at the Washington Post.

  5. Why I’m Done With Letting Critics Tell Me Who I Am, by Esther Emery. >

Five [Awesome] Things I Read This Week, 4.05.2014

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It’s a beautiful, warm and sunny morning in WASHINGTON, DC!!!!!  I’m spending the day with my favorite people doing my favorite things.  Here are five great reads for your first official April weekend.  I hope you get a little sunshine today, too. 

On building a good-looking work outfit:  Work Wednesdays: Decoding the Mystery, from Belle at Capitol Hill Style.  I have a similar approach to building a great work outfit that usually involves khaki-colored top, khaki-colored sweater, neutral pants, neutral shoes.  It still covers all the important parts but the result is a lot less interesting . . .

On being an internet sensation:  Julie Deneen at Fabulous Blogging with Clawing Your Way to an Online Presence: The Difficulty of Building a Brand.  There are definitely some blog-focused terminology in this post, but it is also an interesting look at how to be a success — and wait for success — in any professional field.

On Following Your Dreams, You Guys {For Reals}, by my friend Esther Emery.  Esther is legit.  This blog post is like When Women Were Birds (have you read that?  It’s one of my favorite books on writing) if you take out the pretty flowers and you turn up the intensity.  Esther is simultaneously super-human and incredibly vulnerable and I really like her.

On that whole World Vision thing:  Evangelicals Punish World Vision for Walking Down ‘The Romans Road,’ by Ken Wilson and published at The Huffington Post.  This is the right kind of approach.  I really, truly believe that more people agree with this response to homosexuality in the church, but they are just afraid to say it because of the social ramifications of doing so.  I wish more Christian leaders would be brave and speak what they think is right the way that Ken describes here.

Before making my views widely known to my congregation, I felt stuck, much as I imagine the leaders of World Vision must have felt stuck before they decided to hire (or more like, not to fire) people in covenanted same sex-relationships. People who like the other employees of World Vision, love Jesus and want to relieve human suffering. In my mini-version of the World Vision leadership dilemma, I wondered, “How can I tell my congregation that I cannot enforce these exclusionary policies without blowing up the church I love?”

On what we keep hidden from friends:  The Splenda Level of Friendship, by Megan Gahan for She Loves Magazine.  I loved this.  It’s reminiscent of what I was saying last week, when I wrote this.