New Year, New You

The blogosphere has been a bit overwhelming lately. I usually enjoy all the Year in Review and Resolutions posts. I like reading between the lines for drama (especially juicy breakups, so good), and reading resolutions is inspiring. But now everybody’s posting 12 part retrospectives with each and every month’s highlights and struggles? Phew, exhausting stuff. I mean, it’s already boring thinking about my past year. Plus these photo heavy posts take forever to load!

Even more annoying than the trend of month by month breakdowns is the hot new un-resolution trend of choosing a single word to manifest in the coming year. Common words I’ve seen: create, balance, gratitude, embrace, enough, beauty. BARF. The New York Times has gotten ahold of this trend, so it’s totally basic by now.

Anyways, here in my little 11 x 10 corner of the world, I’m sticking to my personal tried and true: setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. That’s right, going Six Sigma on my life. I learned about SMART at an old job, and while I didn’t meet my professional goals there (it was the type of place that talked about goals, but didn’t really honor them when it came to resources), SMART has been great for my personal life!

Specific / Measurable / Achievable / Relevant / Time Bound

I had a little trouble coming up with goals for the year, so I tried to remember what I did in 2014. It was a pretty good year. I feel like for the most part I handled most challenges like a rational and kind human being. While I didn’t expect much out of the year except a serious grind at work, looking back I accomplished quite a bit.


  • Mostly, it was a big year for fitness. For some reason my running got better in the beginning of the year. I honestly don’t know what I did differently. Riding that wave of success, I decided to do a half marathon (inconceivable!). I tried a few new types of exercise for fun (Insanity, Zumba, kettlebells), but due to the race training I ended up settling into a weekly routine of lifting/Pilates, running, and yoga. With the intense training schedule and a slightly cleaner diet, I dropped 15 pounds in about 7 months. So I lost the extra pounds I put on last year and then some.
  • I also tackled my general moodiness with a few new tools and found myself feeling much better by winter. No Seasonal Affective Disorder- huge win!

$$$ / Hustle

  • I made February a frugal month, which was a needed reset after the holidays. Overall for the year, I didn’t save that much, which was disappointing. Surprisingly, I still hit my net worth goal of 100k, pretty much all in retirement funds. 😀
  • I started an Etsy shop.While I haven’t made a ton of money from it, it’s been a really fun side project. I’ve even gotten some touching emails from customers. Can’t complain.
  • I got a promotion at work, which is good, but not a surprise.


  • This sounds silly, but I finally finished a class on Coursera. Two, in fact. For years I’ve been signing up and dropping out weeks later-my secret shame. For the record, the Wharton Intro to Marketing class is really interesting, and doesn’t require much of a time commitment.
  • I started learning R & Python this year. It makes my brain hurt a lot, but I’m glad I finally got serious about it.
  • Not learning my lesson the first time, in a fit of madness I began seriously contemplating grad school. I’ve found a few part time night and weekend programs that look promising (Berkeley?), but I’ve got a lot of work to do to apply, starting with prereqs.


  • 2013 ended with me kicking out a roommate, which was awkward but necessary. Two roommates later Ryan moved in. While it was a bit bumpy adjusting to the change, overall it has been positive. Despite having less privacy I think our relationship has gotten better. Also everybody in the house gets along, which makes it such a happier atmosphere. No more worrying about being attacked by a drunk roommate.
  • I visited Los Angeles 3 times in 2014, which is better than the year before but not great.
  • The floor in our bathroom rotted out and everything had to be gutted. I developed quite the daily relationship with the annoying handymen. I thought maybe I would learn to love them, but no. It was terrible.

2015 Goals- Building on 2014. Challenging, but doable.

  • See my family 4-5x this year. I’m really hoping to land one of those 1$ MegaBus tickets. One dollar!!!!
  • To fulfill my prereqs I’m taking two after work college classes this semester. I’d like to make it through without losing my shit (is that measurable?). Since I’m going to have to study during most of my non-work time, I need to learn to accept “good enough” and to let go of control by delegating tasks to others. This is actually really hard for me.
  • Be more frugal. Save up enough money for another year off. Safety money.
  • Journal daily. I’m using a 2015 daily planner as a journal. So far, so good. Surprisingly, the 2015 Moleskine daily planners are extremely popular -Amazon is sold out of most models. AMAZON.
  • Work on my lifting and get some super strong arms. Goal: chin ups.

So there you have it. I found this holiday card on sale at the art store, and filled it out with my goals. It’s staring at me every day. No excuses!


Life, Lists

2012/2013, the Return of Saturn, and the List of Lists


 The Return of Saturn

It is an alleged phenomenon which is described as influencing a person’s life development at 27 to 29 or 30-year intervals. These intervals or “returns” coincide with the approximate time it takes the planet Saturn to make one orbit around the sun, i.e. 29.4 years. It is believed by astrologers that, as Saturn “returns” to the degree in its orbit occupied at the time of birth, a person crosses over a major threshold and enters the next stage of life. With the first Saturn return, a person leaves youth behind and enters adulthood. With the second return, maturity. And with the third and usually final return, a person enters wise old age.-Wikipedia

I don’t believe in astrology at all, but without a doubt 2012 was my “Return of Saturn.” It wasn’t so much “entering adulthood” as “hold on, everything in your life will be rocked to the very core.”  WHEE!

So, yeah, you name it- it all got shook up in 2012. This felt in some ways similar to 2006, the year my dad died. Everything was up for grabs, and yet there was still a whole lotta love, travel, and intense feeling throughout the entire year. While it was a crazy time, one of the best things about this past year was that through sheer will and practice I developed a much stronger sense of empathy. I also became better at dealing with stressful emotions and thought patterns. I know it sounds crunchy, but it’s AWESOME, like some emotional superpower. Anyways, I enjoyed developing my empathic skills so I decided to investigate becoming a therapist. That wasn’t the right career path for me, but I found a great volunteer opportunity at the IOA, and so far I’m still working toward being a phone counselor there. Who woulda guessed?

So now that the dust has mostly settled, I can turn my attention toward 2013. My resolutions list is about a week late, but I wanted to make sure that I was committed before I made them public. Here we go:

The Easier to Implement

  • Start a positive early morning routine that allows me to slow down: including 5 minutes of meditation, a little stretching and some coffee. I’m not a morning person, so it would be nice to have pleasant things to look forward to when I wake up.
  • Switch to washing my face with jojoba oil instead of soap (random, but I’m already seeing results)
  • 30 days of veganism concurrent with 8 wks of the I Quit Sugar Program  just to see how my body feels (will be doing blog updates on this one)
  • Finally get my wisdom teeth out. 🙁

A Little Vague, A Lot More Tricky, And a Lot More Hippie

  • Work on getting out of my head more. This sounds so vague but I think that it can be accomplished with continuing my volunteer work, reading more, and continuing to make time for travel.
  • Helping my mom out with her restaurant, from revamping her menu to getting her set up online.
  • Simplify- I already love purging, but since I moved into a 6″x10″ room I’ve felt more inspired to take it to the next level. Beyond stuff, this includes cutting out people and habits that aren’t working for me anymore. Goodbye Twitter, goodbye friends who only want to talk about themselves.
  • Hold onto moments of happiness and don’t feel guilty or rush through them when they happen.
  • Probably the trickiest but most exciting goal: Write something. Will it be short stories? Will it be a blog? Will it be a novella? I don’t know, but I’d like to be able to publish it as an e-book by the end of the year. It will probably be about either 2006 or 2012. Surprise, surprise.

I feel a bit freaked out by these goals, so I guess that’s a good thing.

Lists, Work

Hustle, or: Jobs, A History

I’m rereading Tiny Beautiful Things, which is a collection of Dear Sugar advice columns. Most of the columns in the book can be found on the Rumpus website, but I’m a bit of a Sugar fanatic, so of course I had to own the e-book. Yeah, I’m a freak. And yeah, I said I’m rereading it.

Anyways, there’s this one column where a letter writer is complaining that student loan debt is holding him/her back from a big and adventurous life, and Sugar sets the writer straight by talking about what she learned from her endless stream of unimpressive and horrible jobs. While reading her list of horrible jobs I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic for my own checkered job history. My high school reunion was a week ago, which means that I’ve officially been working for 10+ years now. Of course I also waited tables at my family’s restaurant ever since I was 7 or 8, but if I count since then, well that is just too crazy.

Things have certainly been busy since I got back from Asia. The last time I had this many things going on was back in 2003 when I had five jobs at once. Of course back then I was young, stupid, romantic and optimistic, so it was okay having five jobs. I needed the money then, and I need it now for sure, but jobs were more casual and fun then, and I never got my identity too wrapped up in whatever I was doing. I miss that.

I thought it might be fun to list out all the jobs I’ve ever had, and in the spirit of gratitude, for all the past positions I’ll try to quickly come up with at least one thing that I learned from the experience.  🙂 Anyways, here’s everything from present from past, although I might have forgotten a few. The ones in bold are what I’m up to now.

  1. Review Writer
  2. Apartment Property Manager aka AirBNB hustler
  3. Research Contractor
  4. Website Usability Tester 
  5. Marketing Intern (unpaid)
  6. Elderly Suicide Hotline Counselor (Still training, and obviously unpaid)
  7. Market Research Focus Groupie (Random one offs)
  8. Convention Staff – When you go to any kind of event, be kind to the staff. Seriously. They get paid peanuts to be abused, and have no real worker’s rights.
  9. Social Media/SEO Research Analyst- Creating and maintaining friendships at work can be wonderful and will make you more productive.
  10. Social Media Research Analyst- For a while, everybody is making it up as they go along. This could be depressing, but I think it’s obviously an opportunity.
  11. Media Research Associate-You never know what a job is or will become until you start.
  12. Marketing Intern at a web company (unpaid)- It’s important to believe in what your company does/sells.
  13. Lab Tech at a blood bank, working weird hours and dreaming I was a vampire- It’s never worth it to risk your personal health for a job. I’ve had a few close calls.
  14. Human Guinea Pig – There’s no such thing as easy money.
  15. Yarn Shop Sales Associate- Sometimes a job is right because it comes along at the right time. Also, if you want a job, just ask.
  16. Recycler- I enjoy jobs with variety and autonomy.
  17. Poster Board Monitor/Cleaner- Working outside can be refreshing.
  18. Biology Laboratory Assistant-Playing a supportive role can still be a lot of fun, especially when your team is winning and has big money.
  19. Dogwalker-I love dogs.
  20. Library Aide- This was when I first learned to love podcasts, audiobooks and short stories.
  21. Administrative Assistant at a music conservatory- Sometimes you just have to get the hell out of a job, sooner rather than later.
  22. Campus Sales Rep for an art store- Sales is an art.
  23. Clothing Shop Sales Clerk- Screenprinting!
  24. Dishwasher- Humility.
  25. Public Health/Pediatrics Research Assistant- Connections and curiosity matter. People want to help you succeed. Being published is kind of awesome.
  26. Waitress/Cashier-I really struggled with this one. I guess all I can say is that you can learn a lot from staying in the same place for a long time. A community can be a lot of different things, even a dinky Chinese restaurant. A smile will help smooth most problems over. It’s best never to work for your family.

Have you ever listed out your total job history? Did it depress you, amuse you, surprise you?