I recently watched the first episode of the new season of Modern Family.
Such a good show!!
**No spoiler here**
After being a stay-at-home mom for 17 years, Claire brings in homemade cookies on her first day back to work. Her boss, also her father, tells her that baking cookies for the office was her first mistake – that it doesn’t show signs of a good manager.
I almost pulled my shirt over my head, because, well, throughout my years at the office, I was definitely guilty of this. Bringing in baked goodies was my way of spreading joy and warmth (which is what I felt needed a boost). Ultimately, it was also a way to show my co-workers some of my personality in the midst of a corporate environment.
Office environments are, obviously, different, but I think many of us often struggle to be authentic at work (my way was through cookies). And it’s this struggle that can drain us. In many ways, finding the right office culture for you may be more important to happiness than finding the perfect work/job/career. I’d love to hear your experiences on how you bring more authenticity to the office.
I recently purchased a good ol’ fashioned paper day planner for myself. I was feeling disorganized and disconnected and the thought of returning to a paper calendar had been on my mind for some time. Over the past few years, I had slowly switched from paper to digital. It wasn’t really a conscious choice, but something that happened without me even realizing it, especially when my iPhone started to take near center stage in my life. One big advantage in having the digital is that my husband and I can share our calendars with each other, and this is kind of a huge deal.
Before going digital, I had three calendars – a day planner that I carried with me, a wall calendar in my home, and a page-a-day calendar (sometimes one at home and one at the office). I have to admit, I loved the page-a-day calendars for their inspirational quotes or tidbits of information. It was such a nice ritual turning the page each day. The wall calendar was pretty and served its purpose as the keeper of the big things, like birthdays and vacations. Every January I would routinely transfer all the birthdays and other important days from the old year to the new year. And then there was the day planner-it was the keeper of my schedule, my to-do lists, and sometimes my journal. It was messy and colorful and, really when I think about it, it was the thing that kept me occupied before I had an iPhone to do that. My day planners are snapshots of my life in ways that the digital calendar can never be. They’re like books on a bookshelf as opposed to books in your kindle or nook. They are a reminder of who you are and what you’ve done. They are tattered, with appointments crossed out, hearts drawn in to signify a special date, and stars and double-underlines to indicate a VERY important task. Paper calendars have soul and in this day and age where everywhere you look, someone’s got a smartphone in their hands (ahem, including me), it’s nice to reconnect in a simpler way. I’ll never be able to completely switch from digital, but right now I’m craving soul and creativity in my organization and to-do lists.
Summer is coming to an end – no, say it ain’t so! For me, it’s been one of the most eventful summers of my life. I got married, for one. I took many near and far road trips with my husband to visit friends and spend time with family. I hopped a plane to an island on the Pacific, discovered that I love being an “outdoorsy” type (within reason), and enjoyed a soul nurturing honeymoon.
I also celebrated my 2-year anniversary of quitting my day job. Since then I’ve managed the ups and downs of the freelance life, started grad school, and taught theatre in a Brooklyn public school.
The one thing I am sure of is that it hasn’t been easy.
I can think of many words to describe it, but let’s settle in to uncomfortable. It’s been so uncomfortable, in fact, that I just gave up writing this blog because I felt (feel) ashamed. I quit my day job to: go to grad school to: become a teacher. And, now, guess what? I don’t think I want to be a teacher (at least not in a public school). And that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed, and… lost.
But without the risk, I wouldn’t have experienced all the juiciness of these 2 years.
- I experienced incredible challenges in the midst of a classroom full of 30 1st graders. (Whew!)
- I understood how doing my best was (had to be) good enough.
- I sat with feelings of loneliness working from home – and then cobbled together a community of freelancers.
- I managed the ebb and flow of freelance work (well, still trying to get used to that!).
And, now, rather than stuffing these feelings deep inside, or panicking that I may be back to square one, I am trying to sit with the uncomfortable feelings and stay open and curious.
NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: What did you learn from the “write a blog post a day” challenge?
Wow–is it really the last day of November? So soon!
So here are a few things I learned:
- I have the time, discipline, and creativity to write more than I originally thought.
- A writing prompt is not “cheating.” When you can’t think of anything off the top of your head, a simple prompt can keep you in the creative flow.
- After writing the post about my grandma, I thought, “there’s more to explore here.”
- I had a lot of people “rooting” for me along the way.
- I didn’t feel the need to make excuses for the days I didn’t write. That’s a big one for me!
- I like writing. Period.
See also: the challenge.
A few more to add to my must stop by blogs:
If there’s a blog you’re addicted to, share in the comments!
NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: Describe an heirloom that has been passed down through the generations.
Maybe it’s being a product of divorce, or that I moved around a lot growing up, but I can’t really think of a family heirloom that has been passed down–something that had history and significance to me and my family. But then I started thinking, if I were to pass down something from my family to the generations to come, what would it be?
Being a Southerner living in NYC, I can’t see myself moving back down South for any long period of time. I can see, however, bringing my Southern roots into my family-to-come, especially with food and stories.
Sweet tea, black-eyed peas, and chicken and dumplings. Can it get any better than that?
I lived with my Grandma Billie for some time growing up in Alabama. She was a Southerner through and through. And, yet, despite (or, maybe, because of) growing up on a farm in Virginia, she had a lot of stories to tell. On her old typewriter, she wrote poetry and short stories. In the early ’90’s one of her short stories was published in Mobile Bay Tales: Essays & Stories About a Region. She decided to go back to college in her 60’s and get a degree in English. When I went off to college, she’d ask to read my textbooks when I was finished with the semester. She’d sit in a chair in her bedroom, with her feet propped up, licking a spoonful of peanut butter, reading for hours at a time. She had a painting she bought at a yard sale (she loved a good yard sale!) that she was convinced was a long lost Picasso. And when she passed away, I found boxes of the stories she had written and bound them in a book I titled Stories by Billie Moore. This I will pass down to the generations.
In the end, an heirloom isn’t about the thing itself, but the memories and history that it holds.
NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: What is the luckiest thing that has ever happened to you?
Some things that immediately come to mind:
- Acting on Broadway
- Meeting my boyfriend
- Finding an apartment in the same building as one of my best friends
But then I thought, “wait a minute, I don’t want to chalk this all up to luck. I had a hand in all of these things!”
So, what exactly is luck? Is it completely and entirely random? In the acting and theatre world I’ve often heard that it all comes down to luck–that you can do everything right, but, in the end, you need luck on your side to really make it–to be in the right place at the right time, to meet the right person.
Dictionary.com defines luck as:
What’s interesting about this definition is the idea of force. It’s like having good energy within and around you. And in my mind, that energy is something you can work on by thinking positively and being open to possibilities.
If I were to pick one “lucky” thing that has happened to me, I’d have to say it was winning the lottery. Now, to me, that’s a bit of luck! Last Christmas my dad got lottery tickets for everyone, and I won $500 smackaroos. It was completely by chance that I got the winner–but maybe it was also that I had good energy surrounding me. We’ll probably never know! It did make our trip to New Orleans just a little bit better though.
NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: Are you working on a passion project?
I’ve written a lot about finding your passion, but not really about the concept of a passion project. But I love the idea.
A passion project is something that stews for some time until you finally make that leap. and then you throw your whole heart into. It is something creative and energizing. It is something with goals and deadlines. And it is often something that involves other people–either collaborating or affecting people in some way…or both!
Several years ago a friend and I started a passion project–for at least a year or two we talked about writing a book. Not just any book, but one detailing certain experiences that we had shared. And then one day, we just started writing. We met, collaborated, worked with a coach, and a year later, we had a fully formed rough draft of our novel. We celebrated by taking a writing retreat in Sedona. This project had all the necessary ingredients: we let it stew, it was full of heart, it was creative and energizing, had goals, and involved us as collaborators.
Here are a few passion projects of my friends that are infused with life, breath, and spirit:
- Poppy Pictures: a non-profit film company focused on storytelling.
- Starabella: a set of children’s books with music focused on a little girl with learning difficulties.
- Dave Hertzberg’s Hearts and Bones: my boyfriend’s jazz/neo-bluegrass band–following his journey behind the scenes has been really inspiring.
Please share any passion projects in the comments!
See also: the challenge.
NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt: Describe your favorite place.
Living in New York City, you’d think it would be easy to come up with my favorite place! There are certainly a lot of places I like, such as a:
- great museum
- really nice hotel room
- luxurious spa
- tea salon or cafe
- wine bar
What I realized is that it’s not the specific place that’s most important to me–it’s the feeling and the atmosphere I get from being in a place. The feeling that I most treasure is “cozy.” I love taking the time to enjoy a pot of tea on a cold, rainy day, cozying up on the couch with hot cocoa and writing holiday cards, or meeting friends at a chill bar and having a great glass of wine and some cheese. I love dark wood, exposed beams, fireplaces, dim lighting and wearing scarves! To me it’s all about slowing down and relishing the moment. I just love finding cozy spots that allow me to take a breather from the sometimes harshness of the city and the day-to-day routine.
If you have any cozy-spot recommendations in NYC, leave them here in the comments!
See also: the challenge.