Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Today marks two years at my job, and in advertising world, that means I'm pretty much old hat at the agency. I still sometimes can't believe I am an adult with a full time job, let alone having now been at that job for two years and one of the longest tenured employees in the office.
The topic came up in a one-on-one with my boss a few weeks ago, and although the thought initially filled me with a moment of fear and shock, it quickly shifted to a sudden acknowledgement of my own credibility in the workplace.
I have listened to my ego tell me for too long that I don't know what I'm doing and am not credible, and in that moment of realizing I'm old hat at the agency, I finally told it to shut up. My shift in perception was unexpected on a random Tuesday, but also really welcome and refreshing.
The past few weeks, I have taken on an even greater sense of pride in my work and dedication to my time management and work productivity. Thankfully after a few weeks of being slow, the workload is picking up and I'm excited to put my new sense of confidence and thoughtfulness in my work to good use.
I'm grateful for this shift in my work mindset and look forward to more days of laughing with my coworkers, singing under our disco ball, and putting my brain to use sifting through and organizing research for smart and useful insights. And also to a chilled glass of pumpkin beer to celebrate the anniversary occasion ;)
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
It's a bit ironic that I'm writing this post from a coffee shop and sipping on an iced soy chai as I type, but this moment of pure bliss is why I gave up coffee for the month of September.
Maybe it's the Catholic in me, but whenever I sense myself becoming too reliant on something, I like to challenge myself to give it up. For the month of September, this was buying coffee.
Yes, I spent an entire month not purchasing a single chai latte, regular latte, and even avoided the cult-classic pumpkin spice latte during it's launch in to the fall season.
The rules were simple. I could drink coffee or caffeine if it was from the office kitchen or it was tea I had already purchased. Otherwise, it was a no go.
Part of the challenge was realizing where I could cut back my expenses, but the main goal was to remind myself I do not NEED fancy coffee drinks. I was also seeking to balance my energy and emotional levels a bit and to hopefully appreciate my chai lattes and other coffee beverages more when I did have them.
I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with coffee, except that it makes me shaky and spacey when I drink it too often, but I hate the feeling of "needing" something and also wasting quite a chunk of money on it.
I've never been a big coffee drinker, but over the past few years (aka my welcome-to-the-work-force years), I've begun turning more and more to coffee as a morning caffeine pick-me-up or a mid-day "I deserve this because my day isn't going well" treat.
Again, it's not like I'm turning to coffee for everything in my life or multiple times a day, but even the three or four times a week I would spend $5 on a latte started to seem a bit excessive.
The first few days were pretty rough, and all I wanted was a delicious chai latte from Bowtruss, but once I got going, I was reminded of how much I love my morning cup of mint or green tea and how much more calm I feel when I turn inward to get past a difficult part of the day rather than instantly running to the nearest coffee shop to spend $5 on a beverage. It's amazing how easy something becomes when we stay disciplined for those first few hours or days.
A few things that helped me make it through the month were:
- Knowing I was going home at the end of the month and could treat myself to a chai latte at one of my favorite coffee shops.
- Making a cup of tea each morning.
- Bringing sparking water for the afternoon if I needed a different beverage than straight water.
- Telling my coworkers and friends about what I was doing.
- Having a clear vision of why I was doing this.
- Reading the Discipline section of "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck where he outlines the four techniques that make up discipline: delaying of gratification, acceptance of responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing.
At the end of the month, I very happily enjoyed my first coffee drink, an iced hazelnut chai latte, from Espresso Royale. It was so delicious and gave me the perfect joy and energy boost before the morning tailgate and football game I was going to.
I have had a few more over the past week thanks to a late evening on the boy's birthday and writing this very post in the comfort of a coffee shop, but I am so glad I took the month off to re-evaluate when I turn to delicious caffeine beverages. Delaying the gratification of delicious chai lattes helped me balance and return to a dedication to truth rather than masking both happy and sad moments with a cup of deliciousness.
I know I'm a bit unique in my embrace of delaying gratification (my coworker even told me that I put myself through Lent every few weeks...yep, there's my Catholic showing), but I would urge you to take a moment to look at your life and acknowledge something superfluous that has maybe become too great a part of your life. This act isn't about living in a state of lack, but rather a delaying of gratification in order to look inward and find a greater truth or happiness. Even if it's just for a day or two, I encourage everyone to try out the act of giving something up for the greater good of yourself.
What will you give up to gain?
Sunday, October 6, 2013
I love all the seasons of the year, but fall is hands down my favorite. Jeans & boots weather, apple orchard visits, football season, and a bit more time to slow down and enjoy life.
I'm thankful to call Chicago home, but there are a few fall activities that are difficult to enjoy in the city. Realizing the possibility of missing out on some of these beautiful activities, I enthusiastically began planning a "fall fun weekend" in my hometown. I shared my plans with Natalie and the boy who both also decided to join in on the fun.
Then I shared the plans with Michael who completely unexpectedly looked up flights from Boston and decided to join the adventure home as well. My parents hadn't seen him since vacation in June and weren't expecting to see him until Thanksgiving.
And so began the most epic surprise we will probably ever be able to pull off for our parents.
The planning lasted about a month, and my parents remained completely clueless. Michael and I would talk about the perfect way to surprise them and how amazing the weekend would be nearly every day, and so the excitement between the two of us grew and grew.
When the weekend finally came, everything went off without a hitch, and we managed to truly give our parents the surprise of a lifetime.
Even though I went home to enjoy the many joys of fall, it brought to light a realization much larger than I had intended for the weekend. I realized that the more I'm gone and more people I meet, the more thankful I am for where and how I grew up. My parents blessed me in so many ways I took for granted while actually growing up, and I'm so thankful to now be able to give back to them when I can. Helping Michael surprise them is definitely the best way I've been able to give back to them yet.
I don't know if there is a "proper" way to thank parents for their love and a great upbringing, but I'm sure going to continue trying to thank them with my love and in whatever ways I can.
A few of the weekend's highlights:
Sipping iced tea in the park across from the Willis Tower after enjoying morning yoga with Michael.
Surprising our parents at the train station.
"Excuse me, could you tell me the time?" - Michael
(Double take by my dad) "Wait, what are you doing here?" - Dad
(Huge smile on my mom's face and tears in her eyes) "What?!" - Mom
Lots of hugs and shock ensued.
Showing the boy where I come from and taking him to his first tailgate and college football game.
Spending much needed in-person time with my bff Natalie.
Enjoying a truly beautiful day and seeing an Illini win!
And finally, a trip to Curtis. One my heavens on earth.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Saturday marked the beginning of fall (my favorite season!), but it also marked the end of another beautiful Chicago summer. Chicago summers are full of beach time, patios after work, day drinking, Cubs games, fun with friends, and tons of skyline photos from rooftop and beach views.
As I said goodbye to summer and happily welcomed the change of seasons, I found a few of my favorite skyline photos from the summer.
An early summer evening playing tourist at the Bean.
Beach skyline view before the Volleywood volleyball tournament.
The view from the beach on a post-work bike ride.
The beautiful Chicago Theater lighting up the skyline on a post-work shopping trip.
A classic Lollapalooza view.
Work summer outing at Market's rooftop.
Work happy hour on a coworker's rooftop.
And the first fall skyline view of the year on a downtown walk after work.
It can sometimes be hard to say goodbye to hours of beach time and lounging on patios, but Chicago summers are jam packed with activities, and I'm excited for life to slow down a little this fall. I can feel some changes brewing, and although they may mean the end of a few good things, I truly believe the best is yet to come.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
When one of your best friends from college calls you, pick it up. Don't doubt it, pick it up.
It's been almost a year since you spoke but that only matters if you let it.
Pick it up.
Listen to her talk about her new life. The one you know nothing about but want to.
Answer her when she asks the hard questions. And she will ask the hard questions. There's a reason she was once one of your best friends. She knows you and loves you. Don't run away from the questions. Answer them. You'll feel better.
Thank her again for standing by your side all those year ago. You've said it before and you'll say it again but every few months a new piece of the puzzle will come together and you'll be thankful once again that you had and have friends that love you this much.
When "bed time" comes, let it pass. Sleep is important, but it's an arbitrary time you set and tonight, there are more important things.
When you tell her to call your mom when she's in town, you really mean it. And when she says she wants to visit, you really hope it's true.
You were so scared to show her this "new" Jessica yet she has loved her all along. All she ever wanted was for you to be authentic and loved.
I don't care how long it's been. When one of your best friends calls, pick it up.
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
"Oh, that's serious, isn't it?" "Really?" "Are you nervous?"
These are a few of the reactions I received when I told people I was "meeting the parents." I love meeting people, especially people who are special to those who are important to me, but this time I was all balled up with nerves. I let my own ego and the comments of others get to me and psych me out. Thankfully, I realized what was going on and was able to talk a lot of it out with my best friend and journal out the rest before the introductions.
I believe miracles come about when we change our perspective of a situation, and through talking it out and journaling, I was able to see my own true perspective of the situation rather than my ego's or other's perspective.
Instead of approaching a few recent introductions with fear and uncertainty, I approached them with light, love, and confidence. I can't always make someone like me, but I can make sure I always share my best self with the world.
Since we had visitors in town this weekend, I also had the chance to change my perspective of Chicago. I've mentioned it here before, but I really love when I'm able to see my beautiful city and home through the eyes of a tourist.
There are so many times as I walk through the city on a normal day that I see a great door or a beautiful view I'd love to capture but just don't have the time or don't have my good camera on me. This Saturday, I carried my nicer camera around with me all day and snapped any of those views and moments I wanted to capture.
Looking back on these images is a nice reminder of how gratifying and beautiful life can be when you let yourself change your perspective.
Friday, August 16, 2013
I got a little "behind" on my 30 Days of Thankfulness postings this time around, and it's easy for me to get down on myself, but ultimately, my goal of being more mindful each day was achieved. Even if I wasn't posting, I was always making sure to think of what I was especially thankful for that day and snap a photo of it. I do this exercise to stay mindful of what's going on in my life and to appreciate the small things, so even if I wasn't officially posting each day, the main goal was still being achieved.
This round of 30 Days came about because I had been feeling a bit tired and unproductive and felt myself complaining a lot more than usual. Even towards the end of this 30 days I was till feeling tired, unproductive, and in a bit of a funk then suddenly on day 30, everything seemed to come together.
I had been putting a lot of positive energy in to myself as well as out in to the world, and it was finally showing. Ultimately, Tuesday was a really great day.
The morning started with a great morning workout; my first in weeks. I even had a good, deep belly laugh during Pilates. The kind that makes you feel full of life, and I knew right then it was going to be a good day. My notion was right, and when I stepped in to work, I had a dream project literally land on my desk, and I spent the day researching and writing about one of my favorite topics, nutrition and vitamins. Then I had an amazing dinner at Girl & the Goat (and even met Stephanie Izard!) and rounded out the day by hanging out with one of my favorite people in the world.
I was happy. I felt inspired. I felt loved. And it was a really great day.
These past 30 days have been a great lesson in the great opportunities and experiences that can come from mindful, hard work and positive energy.
My life isn't perfect and I don't live in a snow globe of glitter and rainbows, but I am truly thankful for the progress I've made in my recovery from destructive thoughts and behaviors and the positive path I'm on right now.
On day 30, I am thankful for my amazing Tuesday. This could have been any old Tuesday, but instead, it was one of the happiest and most blessed days of my life thus far.