Tag Archives: business

My Biggest Accomplishment So Far This Summer: A Tiny Tanline

behold the tiny tan line

behold the tiny tan line

Six weeks ago, I left my job in marketing to follow my dreams of being something entirely different. I flew out from San Francisco three days later to Chicago and then passed through the cities of Nashville, Atlanta, Asheville, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Boston, New York, and now Edmond, OK.

I’ve walked what feels like hundreds of miles, consumed at least thirty protein bars and twelve hundred almonds, ridden the public transit system in four cities and gotten lost in all of them, and spent a cumulative thirty hours on buses. My feet are tired. One of my two shirts is pit-stained beyond repair, and my backpack has a thin layer of peanut butter in the front pocket where some single serving peanut butter packages burst open and I failed to remove them until many days later. That’s also the pocket where I keep my electronic cords.

I left SF because I am a coward and knew I would need physical distance to keep me from reverting to the familiar and pleading to have my paid shackles back. The trip has been challenging and I’ve learned much, perhaps too much. I’ve questioned everything I want and believe in, then reaccepted it, and then questioned it again. I almost moved to Asheville.

But here I am in Edmond, OK, the place of my middle and high school education, first crushes, and AP classes, and I’m proud to say this: that despite everything, the uncertainty of the future, the haziness of the past, and my tendency to make decisions based on how hungry I am, in spite of future failure or success, I am proud to say this, that I have a tiny tan line on my wrist. It might seem unimportant or nonexistent to you, but I know my wrist, and that is a tan line and it is most important.

It comes from being outside in full view of the sun, away from any corporate overlord or indentured servitude. It comes from singing in the open air while walking through public gardens, from waiting for the bus during the middle of the day like a free woman, from sitting and doing nothing at all in the park with my face in the shade under an elm tree in Washington D.C., doing nothing though I have believed that more work will make me happy, doing nothing though I have measured my entire life in terms of productive output, doing nothing though I had swallowed the falsehood that doing something is better than doing nothing. Why should it be like that? Why indeed?

I’ve learned to question everything, to know that nothing exists “as it is supposed to be,” that everything is created, constructed and interpreted according to something that humans made up. We just made it up.

I don’t know what the next step is, and in a few months or less I may be dreaming of a return to the office and eating all of these words, but until then I will nourish this tiny tan line with pride. In a society where one is judged by the threadcount of one’s sheets and the size of one’s paycheck, I will brandish my tiny tan line as a symbol of my search for real freedom.

Also, because you asked, I’d have to say my second biggest accomplishment is learning to love the selfie.

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How an Overachieving Work Monger Learned the Benefit of a Good Nap

staged napping photo

staged napping photo

I’m staying at a friend’s co-op which is unsurprisingly full of long haired hippie types with slow eyed dreams. Despite the fact I’m also pursuing an “alternative” career as opposed to something in office dronery, I’m still skeptical of those who dream of nothing more than working on a farm for six months out of the year and going south to roost with the birds come October.

Where’s the ambition? Where’s the love of early mornings and hard work? Where’s the drive to produce every single moment of the day and have a list of goals hanging from the wall and over your head that you must accomplish or suffer failure?

To me, even travel can and should be considered work, which I love. If I’m successful at the work of travel, I go out and see a great many things, write a good many blog posts and thoughts, draw a picture, talk to a stranger and spend little money. I fail by staying in bed and being lazy. Being lazy must be avoided at all costs.

I’ve always felt righteous about my overbearing work ethic, which has often stressed me out and caused me to spend too much time working on things that didn’t matter as opposed to relaxing with friends. In fact, I hate the very word relax. It offends me. I don’t want to relax. I want to learn, to work, to be productive, to produce, to experience, etc. etc. It’s exhausting.

When one of these hippie types pulled out a book two days ago called “How to be Idle,” by Tom Hodgkinson, I nearly vomited in my quinoa. Could there be anything more disgusting than a book dedicated to laziness and encouraging these kinds of people who needed nothing more than a swift kick in the ass? I scoffed at the very idea of it.

Then, minutes later, I picked it up. I started reading the first chapter “8 a.m.: Waking up is hard to do.” And within a couple more minutes I was hooked. I saw my life and culture in a completely different light. The emphasis on productivity hasn’t served me but my corporate overlords. Busyness is a cult that degrades our quality of life, our freedom, and the ability to reflect on and live contemplative existences.

Though I don’t agree with Hodgkinson completely on everything about the idler lifestyle, I did suddenly realize that my relentless focus on production is not productive. Boom. It’s as simple as that.

I’ve not finished the book, but it has been interesting to hear this man’s thoughts on how our culture of work conspires to keep us chained to our desks, away from home, and most of all, to keep us from thinking.

In honor of my newfound appreciate for idleness, I took a nap and spent five hours today in a cafe merely reflecting. It was certainly time well spent.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book so far: 

On working long hours and doing nothing: 

“After all, aren’t modern companies always saying how much they value creativity and innovation? How much they need ideas? Perhaps the truth is rather sadder, that they actually value steadfastness, application and your bum being on your revolving seat for as many hours in the day as you can stand.”

On the culture that rejects illness and taking any time off for it: 

“Drug companies make vast profits out of magic beans which promise to deliver us from torment and return us to the desk.”

On napping: 

“Don’t think that you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more.” – Winston Churchill

“Employers would rather you put in four hours of sitting and accomplishing nothing than an hour’s nap, clothes or otherwise, followed by three hours of productive toil.”

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Everything I Need to Know about Life, I Learned from the Overnight Megabus Trip from Washington D.C. to Boston

Megabus

Megabus

1. Happiness is a choice. You can either spend your 8 hours wallowing in self pity and regret, or spend your 8 hours thinking about coffee and the possibilities of the future.

2. Get work done and don’t procrastinate. Because you never know when you’ll be able to blog, wash your face or brush your teeth again.

3. Every moment can hold something special. The journey is not the destination, but it’s not nothing either, so take advantage of those miles in the middle of nowhere.

4. Don’t give up. Just after you’ve tried every possible sleep position, you just might stumble upon the one that will allow you to rest longer than thirty minutes.

5. People make life incredible. Nothing beats seeing the smiling face of a friend in the wee hours of the morning in a city you love after 8 hours of purgatory.

6. Assume nothing. The person behind you may have terrible taste in music, but they might be going through a hard time in life and need the crappy music to get them through. You don’t know.

7. Baggage sucks. The less you have, the better. That goes for personal baggage as well as possessions.

8. Other people exist besides yourself. The bus was not made for you and your needs. There are other people with different life stories, different clothes, different allergies and literature tastes, and their way of life is just as valid as yours.

9. People are people everywhere. This one goes without explaining.

10. Smile. Your smile will open more doors and give you more free donuts than your fist.

11. Think. Preparing ahead of time and thinking about the repurcussions of your decisions can lead to better, more effective outcomes. For example, bringing a pillow would make sleeping easier and the next day less exhaustion-filled.

12. Think positive. Since you’re already thinking, you might as well make it positive. Stress causes your brain to ferment, and too often you spend it worrying about things you can’t control, like what you’re going to eat for breakfast at South Street Diner.

13. Call Mom when you get in. She really cares about you and wants to make sure your trip went safely.

14. Sleep more. You probably need more sleep than you’re getting and especially more sleep than you’ll ever get on the overnight bus.

15. Bring warm clothing.

16. Infinity is everywhere. It is in the lengthening hours of the bus trip, it’s in the distance between your legs and the back of the seat in front of you, and it’s in the distance between you and a golden time in your past that you can never return to.

17. Love others.

18. Beauty is everywhere. It’s in the way rain hits the windows, in the color of a German’s hair and in the rich brown of a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

19. Care. Care about other people, about yourself, about the bus and the cities that you’re passing through. Care about the quality of work you produce and about the state of the nation and the world. Care even though it’s risky, even though it might hurt, even though it takes energy. Care.

20. Remember that life is heartbreakingly beautiful for reasons you will never quite understand, and that your great privilege and duty is to chase this beauty for as far as you can go, until your Megabus reaches its final destination and not a second sooner.

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Somewhere Right Now, A Millennial Is Freaking Out About Life

millennial dinosaur is afraid of things she can't control millennial dinosaur is afraid of things she can't control

millennial dinosaur is afraid of things she can’t control

I was in Nashville for a reunion with some of my best friends from college for the 4th of July weekend. In the three years since we’ve graduated, we’ve all gone and gotten jobs or done Americorps or the Peace Corps or something along those lines, and now we’re trying to figure out what the heck to do with our lives and also what we’ve already done.

Sometimes I feel terrified that I’m doing everything wrong. Graduating from college was like being forced through the birth canal and leaving a tender home for a world of concrete and screaming and people slapping you to make sure you’re alive.

I miss classes and learning for the sake of learning. I miss my friends and being within a 2 mile walk of 80% of the people I care about. I miss grades and how easy it was to measure success. Sure it was all hell sometimes, but mostly it was awesome.

Not college has been different than college. In the “real world,” learning is not valued just for the sake of learning. My friends are spread out and busy. Community is difficult to build and what the heck is going on with dating nowadays? In some ways I want to write Boston University an angry letter saying “WTF? Why didn’t you prepare me for this?”

On the other hand, my real world education has been incredibly valuable. I’ve learned the value of a dollar (which is almost nothing), and how difficult but important it is to continue to invest in relationships as part of building a life worth living. I’m probably doing most things incorrectly, but so is everyone else and that’s a reassuring thought.

One of the best parts of not college has been the relationships I’ve maintained and the joy of seeing old friends. As I live more life, friendships grow richer as we experience tragedies and great joys together, and as life becomes less about us and how we stack up against arbitrary standards, and more about the kind of legacy we’re building with the people we love.

Because in the end that’s the most valuable thing we have. College couldn’t teach me about the other hard lessons in life, but I did get to build some incredible friendships. My dream is to continue growing that spiderweb of love for the next one hundred years.

I don’t know if I’m making the right career decisions, and I don’t know if my life will look like what I want it to look like in 20 years. I do know that friends are awesome, so I’m going to start there with the rest of my life and ask questions later.

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30 Ways to Measure My Life, and Maybe Yours Too

You might be familiar with the poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot. If not, you should read it here or listen to me read it here (yes, this happened.) It’s a beautiful poem, and one that might make you think. This is an excerpt I particularly like:

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.

On a related note, I recently started taking calcium every day in the form of a chocolate chew. I take one every morning, after I drink my coffee so my mouth is warm and it makes the chocolate flavor taste better. Every day a chew, every day a wrapper – a little trace of my life. It got me thinking – what else could I measure my life in? What are the other little traces? So you can read them below, and some are measurable and some are less so. As an added challenge, I drew some of these things.

I have measured out my life with:

  1. Calcium chew wrappers calcium_chew_wrappers
  2. Empty coffee cups 
  3. Used strands of floss
  4. Birthday cards
  5. LinkedIn connections
  6. Pounds gained and lost over the past yearsscale
  7. GPA
  8. Salary
  9. Facebook friends and tagsfacebook_friend
  10. Words written
  11. Email drafts
  12. Journal entries
  13. Ink stains on the bed
  14. Kitkat wrappers found in bed.
  15. Boarding passes
  16. Ticket stubs
  17. Number of pimples popped pimple
  18. Number of emails answered
  19. Protein bar wrappers 
  20. Burned matches
  21. Takeaway boxes
  22. Onion peelsonion_peel
  23. Shopping bags
  24. High fives
  25. Hugs
  26. LaughsIt's laughter, though it looks like vomit
  27. Belly laughs
  28. The kind of laugh where you laugh so hard you cry
  29. Minutes spent living. 
  30. Minutes spent like, actually living. 
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