January 10, 2013
Last week I wrote a post highlighting lessons I learned in 2012—the ending of one chapter always signifies the beginning of a new one so I’ve decided to take on a personal challenge every month and document it here. I know some of these are going to be extremely difficult and others will hopefully be fun. I also realize that most of my documentation will consist of me admitting to my failures and publicly humiliating myself, but hey, you only live once right?
Side note: if anyone wants to do this with me I’d love to connect to your blog and make it a group effort—holler!
For the purpose of this post/project, a challenge is anything which a) I’m not good at or b) I’ve never tried and c) I believe will be difficult and out of my comfort zone.
This is what I’ve come up with so far—some months have yet to be decided and I’m sure a few will change, but for now, this is what I’m working with:
January – Baking 101
February – Knitting 101
March – TBD
April – Vipassana (10 day silent meditation)
May – TBD
June – Travel somewhere alone
July – TBD
August – Cut out artificial sugar
September – Wake up at 6 AM & run Mon-Fri
October – Create a photography book (this could be a year-long project)
November – Run a half marathon
December – TBD
Let the baking begin…
January 3, 2013
I can’t believe it’s 2013—I’m still in shock and have decided to spend the next few days preparing for the New Year (cleaning, organizing, planning, avoiding reality etc.)—I realize it’s January 3rd but who really looks at a calendar anyway?
When I started this blog I wanted to focus on life lessons, so it seems fitting that I should share what I learned in 2012 with all of you. I categorized it because I learned in 2012 that people have a much easier time reading structured content…(that one was a bonus).
Lessons from 2012:
Work/Business – You have to do whatever it is you’re afraid of. I took a plenty of financial risks last year not knowing if any of them would pay off (most didn’t), but it was the best thing I could have done for my professional self esteem—now I know what I’m capable of. People have the tendency to over-think and over-plan and overanalyze until they’ve talked themselves out of doing anything at all. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, which doesn’t mean you’re throwing caution to the wind and becoming a hippie, it means you trust yourself, your experiences and your character enough to handle whatever you might face in the future. Just do it, you’ll either succeed or you’ll learn so it’s kind of a win win.
Family – Ahhhh, this is a tough one, where do I start? I believe people can change if they truly want to change, otherwise, no amount of love, compassion, begging, rational or therapy will make them budge. It’s hard to accept people for who they are, especially when they are related to you, but, once you do there is a great sense of peace—you can’t control the behavior of others, even those closest to you—the only thing you can control is how you allow it to influence your day-to-day and how much room it takes up in your heart.
Love – I struggle with this, I always have, even more so the past couple of years because I’ve been forced to question what I have always believed to be important in relationships. I’ve come to realize that love is a different experience for everyone, and that’s the point of it all. For so long I was caught up in how everything is supposed to be, how a relationship is supposed to progress, what I’m supposed to look for, what expectations I’m supposed to have, how I’m supposed to be treated and how I’m supposed to feel—all of these things are arbitrary—once I realized that and accepted it I was able to be present, which is far more important than trying to ‘get it right’. Sometimes being ‘wrong’ will lead you to the right places, your instincts will never lead your astray.
Identity – This is a big one and it’s often overlooked. Everything you do, the people you surround yourself with, the books you read, the movies you watch, the battles you fight and the ones you avoid, the doors you walk through and the ones you close, the love you give and receive, it all influences your character and shapes your identity. What does that mean? The little things matter, your words, actions, decisions and lack there of, they are all tiny pixels that make up the big picture of your life. My biggest take away from 2012 was that you must always invest in your self-confidence, that is the armor with which you face the world and it cannot be compromised. Sometimes this confidence is built through seemingly shallow and superficial things (such as buying a killer suit or getting the perfect haircut) and other times it’s gained through education, spirituality and the right relationships. Whatever your method, don’t allow the evolution of your identity to fall through the crack of complacency and ignorance. You are in control of who you are and who you become, every moment of everyday, in every single way imaginable.
So here’s a toast to mark the end of 2012—endings are just new beginnings in disguise, and there’s really nothing more exciting than a new beginning.
October 23, 2012
It’s that time of the year again and I’m frantically looking for a costume. My search led me to some interesting websites and I must say that after looking at about 23487 options I’ve decided I can’t participate in Halloween this year. Now this may seem a little drastic, but following a recent conversation with my girlfriend, it’s been decided that there are only two options for women: wear an awesome/funny/scary/clever costume that’s cool for about five minutes, then proceed to being the ugly girl at the party; OR dress like the sexy version of something that’s not supposed to be sexy at all. Below, I’ve compiled the 10 most ridiculous costumes I came across, if I see any of you sporting these at any events I will judge you and question your life decisions.
1) Sudoku Game – Remember when you used to play Sudoku for fun or to pass time while riding the train home from work?
2) Sexy Bollywood – A traditional Indian outfit would be significantly more attractive than this disaster of a costume.
3) Strawberry Daiquiri – And next year you can be a Pina Colada. Or a Bellini, the possibilities are endless, just look at a cocktail menu.
4) Take Me Home Taxi – Seriously, that’s what it’s called. What I actually need is for someone to wear this on NYE and hail a cab—this way it might take less than 5 hours to get home.
5) Sexy Nun – Wrong on so many levels. Don’t walk by a church.
6) Sexy Bee – It was hard choosing between this and the sexy ladybug. If you find yourself gravitating towards a cute or sexy insect costume…don’t.
7) Storybook Babe –Hopefully you’ll walk by a little girl and she’ll scream, “Look mom! She’s Cinderella too!” Shame on you.
8) Igloo Cutie – I’d like to see her live in an Igloo for one hour.
9) Lemon Miregue and Strawberry Shortcake – Nothing edible should ever be worn as a sexy anything. Unless it’s a tamale, then you can be a hot tamale.
10) Cute Skunk – Had to save the best for last. What are you gonna be for Halloween this year? Oh you know, a cute sexy skunk. No big deal.
If you’ve searched high and low for a costume and can’t find ANYTHING else to wear and absolutely HAVE to wear one of the above options…you can buy them here.
July 23, 2012
So you wanna launch something? Have you got a revolutionary idea, an incredible product or an amazing service the world just HAS to experience? Of course you do, you’re totally awesome. Now let’s get off the clouds for a minute and get down to business. I’ve been a full-time entrepreneur for over 3 years now with no formal business experience and (drum roll) I haven’t figured it all out. Surprise! Running a business is like training for a triathlon—you can always be better and you will never be ready. Well, being ‘ready’ is a state of mind, but you get the idea.
You know those tests you took in High School that determined which career path would best suit you based on a series of arbitrary questions your seventeen-your-old self naively answered while thinking about which class to skip and what to have for your second lunch? Yeah, this is like one of those tests except there aren’t any questions—just answers.
A dose of narcissism.
Ok, let’s get one thing straight, if you aren’t at least a little bit cocky you will never survive as an entrepreneur. Look at it from a rational perspective, you want to start something from nothing, let hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of people know about it because YOU believe with every fiber of your being that it’s the best thing since reality TV. Ummmm—pretty sure that’s gonna take some narcissism. And no, I don’t mean self-confidence, I mean straight up I-am-the-shiznit-and-I’m-gonna-rock-this and I KNOW it’s gonna blow up.
(Don’t worry, you’ll have moments of pure terror where you want to crawl into fetal position and go back to getting a nice paycheck once every two weeks, but those moments will pass and you’ll return to being completely full of yourself).
A handful of pressure.
Let me define pressure here: an overwhelming and perpetual feeling of stress, anxiety and self-doubt while living in constant fear of affording bills, completing tasks and competing with the 98734897 other businesses just like yours. Oh, you thought you were an innovator? Reality check: NO.
You not only have to be able to handle pressure, you have to like it. You have to produce your best work while in the cooker and come out in one piece looking fly as ever because you’ve gotta run to your next meeting on zero sleep. That’s right.
A little bit of crazy.
Crazy people change the world. Crazy people quit their wonderful, comfortable, well-paying, secure jobs. Crazy people look at a gap, a void or a missing puzzle piece and think…what if? Crazy people trust their instinct over their logic. Crazy people stay up all day and all night to finish something. Crazy people think of an idea and believe they can actualize it. So yes, you have to be crazy. Good crazy, not I-think-I-have-the-best-invention-in-the-world-but-it-won’t-ever-make-any-money crazy.
(That last sentence was inspired by some of the things I’ve seen on Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank…seriously? What!? R!h*&$Jkh%F).
An unlimited supply of life deprivation.
No, not sleep deprivation, life deprivation. Why? Because you will miss out on a lot of things—including sleep. You’ll miss out on trips, clothes and maybe even a birthday or two (including your own). You’ll miss going into work, b*itching with coworkers and actually taking a lunch. You’ll miss normalcy, routine, a manageable amount of stress and ‘me’ days—your ‘me’ days will consist of doing laundry, answering personal emails and remembering your own name. You’ve gotta be ok with these things, and a whole lot of other things too, because you’ll be MIA quite often—time to get over your FOMO. If you don’t know what that means…don’t worry this last point doesn’t really pertain to you.
Now that I’ve made entrepreneurship sound like the greatest thing anyone could ever do in life ever, let’s all high five and start our own businesses! Yayyyy. Ok but seriously, I’m giving you some tough love because when I started my business I thought it was going to be easy (and easy by my standard means: I can handle this) but it’s effing hard. And by hard I mean, sometimes I just want to stare at a blank wall and cry. For hours. While listening to Celine Dion. (Guilty pleasure).
If you’re scared and risk-adverse you will never survive. Let me repeat this point in completely different terms: if uncertainty makes you nauseous and the thought of losing money makes the hairs on your arms stand…get out. Seriously.
I’m not being a narcissist (well maybe a little); I’m just being honest. Maybe next week I’ll write an entrepreneurship post inspired by the Teletubbies, but for now, I urge you to ‘take the test’ and start hustling.
July 23, 2012
So being an entrepreneur I meet and hang out with other entrepreneurs and I just can’t help but notice how incredibly irritating we can be sometimes. The reality is that the average person doesn’t care how awesome your business is doing—seriously. So I figured I’d come up with an etiquette list for entrepreneurs—it’s a pretty good guideline to follow if you want to avoid being that annoying person at the dinner table (a.k.a. a complete a**hole).
-Only answer if they ask. Unless someone asks you a specific question about your business don’t offer an answer. John Smith across the table could care less about how your company performed in Q4—unless he asks of course. In the event of a question, only answer the question! Don’t go rambling on about a million other things, you sound silly and insecure. Answer and move on.
-Humility is the best policy. If you’re doing well, act like it. People that are successful and making a lot of money don’t need to talk about how successful they are or how much money they make. Remember to remain humble and not boast about your achievements. Your tone and body language say a lot about your character—make sure you don’t big yourself up, whether you deserve it or not.
-Be interested in other people. That’s a life rule really—you gotta be genuinely interested in other people or you’ll become boring very quickly. If someone asks you a question about your work, answer and ask a question back! This is not an interview; you’re not on a pedestal waiting for people to inquire about how awesome you are. You can learn a lot from the person across from you so make sure your ego doesn’t get in the way of the opportunity.
-Don’t preach what you practice. Is there anything more infuriating than people who try to tell you how to run your business? You can give advice and try to be helpful, but don’t preach about how something worked for you so person A and person B should totally try it because they would be silly if they didn’t. What’s silly is you assuming what worked for you will work for them. Recommendations are great—lectures are painful.
-Get off your phone. Emailing, texting and answering work calls while out with other people is just rude. I admit I’m guilty of this quite often but realize how disrespectful it is when someone does it to me. If you can’t go out for dinner without picking up your phone to do anything work related…don’t go out for dinner. No one—not your family, friends or colleagues should have to put up with your busy schedule when they’re just trying to enjoy your company.
Ok it felt good to get that off my chest. Now go be good entrepreneurs and don’t forget your manners!
July 21, 2012
Last night I had a dream about a troubled orphan I met on the street—except when I met him I didn’t know he was an orphan. In fact, when I met him I was mean to him because he was being obnoxious and my reaction was: “why are you acting like this? Don’t you have parents and a home?” He said no, and I immediately felt shame. Then there was a forest fire and Alec Baldwin drove by drunk in a car, but that’s neither here nor there.
My dreams have always been so vivid—ever since I was a child. I don’t usually wake up thinking they mean anything or my subconscious is trying to tell me something, but this dream hit home for a number of reasons: I think I’m too quick to judge and I generally react to people based on my assumptions. This is not something I’m proud of—or really aware of—but part of growing up and becoming a better person is being proactive about making changes; often times that takes a lot of self-evaluation and introspection. It seems easy, until you realize that your ego is a powerful and persistent son-of-a-bi*ch that is always one step ahead of you; it’s like playing chess with an opponent that can predict your next move with a 99.9% accuracy—you’ll never win. But the ego is not invincible.
I’ve always admired this quote: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It resonates, because we seldom feel that others can’t relate to our adversity; perhaps, but the truth is everyone is going through something—something painful that may provoke them to act out of character—and to judge them based on that would be unjust. Of course, I find myself judging constantly—it could be a rude waiter or cashier or cab driver or my mom or my dad or my sister or my friends. But then in my quiet moments, after I’ve made assumptions, judged and maybe even reacted, I wonder about that person’s story, I wonder what hard battle they were fighting that day or week or year. Naturally, I feel the same feeling of shame that I felt when I reacted to that orphan in my dream; I want to turn to my ego and say, “how could you? How could you be so heartless?”
I’d like to believe these incidences are forgivable—as long as you are aware and work toward making improvements. Life is constantly trying to remind us that we are not alone; that our experiences, our joys and pains are in no way unique. The ego wants us to believe we are alone and that the rest of the world will never understand. But the more you side with your ego the more powerful it becomes, and god forbid you find yourself in a dark place, truly alone, because you’ve pushed everyone away for fear of judgment and humiliation. That is not an easy place to crawl out of—we’ve all been there at one time or another.
I forgot to mention one thing about my dream. When I was being completely awful to that orphan, he was so calm and unmoved by my ignorance. He must have been five or six years old, but I think he was far wiser than me, he knew that in that moment I didn’t know any better, and before I even had a chance to realize my mistake he had already forgiven me. And so this is the big lesson: everyday, your family, friends and complete strangers let you off the hook for being unkind, often times without your knowledge; your duty in return is to do the same, as often as possible, with people you know and people you don’t—that is the 0.01% chance you have against your ego.