And so..The Adventure Begins

6 years ago this month, I was driving my trice-recycled ‘94 teal Chevy Malibu with the windows rolled down from my high school to the Senior Picnic–just days before graduation.  “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer came through the radio waves and it just seemed right.  I was full of optimism and excitement for a fresh chapter.  And what better way to kick off the next adventure than a class-wide picnic with my 700 other classmates?

If I remember correctly, the picnic was lame and I didn’t know where to put myself, like the rest of my high school experience, because some things never change.

I was driving to my last day of work this morning, in my ‘10 Ford Focus that mercifully doesn’t spray water in my face every time it rains like the Malibu did so I’m clearly moving up in the world.  Andy Grammer’s familiar tune came warbling through the FM again and I felt the echoes of that same optimism bubble up.  And then a new Maroon 5 song came on with the same tune they were using 6 years ago. Some things really never do change.

But some things do. I’m more cautious now than I was back then.  I’m not as willing to chase every idea but have learned to patiently wait for my dreams to surface.  I’ve stopped caring about eating lunch at the cool table and although I’m slower to act on new ideas, I’m braver in carrying them out.  During the last 6 years, I pushed to find the limits of how many things I was capable of doing simultaneously and now I’m content to find the few things in life that are worth pursuing deeply.

I’m thankful for nostalgic songs that inspire reflection–even if that includes some awkward high school memories–before starting this next adventure.  Besides learning the Russian language and acquiring a fur hat, one of my biggest goals for our time abroad is to grow in wisdom, character, and flexibility.  Hopefully by the next time I hear Andy Grammer on the radio in June, I can see those fruits in my life.

Until then, just gotta keep my head up.

RSI of the Thumb

I’ve officially diagnosed myself with thumb RSI (thanks, WebMD).  RSI = repetitive strain injury where fine repetitive movements in the thumb cause tiny tears in the muscles and tendons.  The tendons run out of lubrication as there is insufficient time to rest and recover.

I blame Instagram, but I mostly blame myself for making scrolling on my phone my default posture when I’m not doing anything else.  This post will be brief, because I’m down a digit.

After several days in an existential crisis, I realized that my sore thumb was a symptom of a much larger problem.  Not only am I abusing technology by wasting time on my phone, I am actively seeking those dopamine rushes when a new e-mail, text, or notification comes through.  I’ve silenced all phone notifications and quit Facebook, but that doesn’t help much when you’re checking your phone every 5.8 seconds.

My first solution to this general feeling of emptiness is to find more hobbies.  If I’m looking to my phone for entertainment too much, I should probably pick up oil painting. My husband gently reminded me that I’m already an aspiring baker, fairy gardener, recipe organizer, writer, crafter, reader, runner, and QuickBooks novice, so perhaps my problem was not too much time on my hands but a misplaced hope.

We live most of our days with a vague longing that something will come in the mail one day that will change our lives forever.  It’s not just my phone I’ve been looking to for fulfillment.  I keep hoping my life will provide me with an unexpected excitement that I know I’d despise if it came because the anticipation is greater than the realization.

My thumb needs time to rest and recover from my anxious scrolling and so do I.  Instead of finding another distraction, my goal is to more fully participate in the hobbies, relationships and rituals I already enjoy.

 

3 Lessons From The Last 365 Days

Today officially marks my 1 year anniversary working in marketing for Buffini & Company and I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned during my brief stint so far as a young professional.

1. Have some humor

I am always far too serious. Luke and I learned this the hard way.  When we first started dating, he’d make an off-handed sarcastic remark and I’d assume he was dead serious.  Thoughts start racing: “How could he say that?  Am I dating a psychopath?”  Nope, turns out I just had zero sense of humor.  My roommate proceeded to put me on a strict diet of The Office reruns which helped me identify sarcasm out in the wild.

I’m not saying you need to be the office prankster, but developing a professional sense of humor has helped me not get too caught up in the smallest remarks and honestly, it just makes every day more fun.  You’re going to be spending a considerable part of your life at work, why not have some laughs at the same time?

2. Just Say No

For those of us who are new to the workforce, this might be the hardest lesson to learn.  We’re eager to please, eager to get new experiences and opportunities, and bring a lot of energy to our work.  All of these are great things with huge potential pitfalls.  In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown makes this powerful point: “Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.”  Saying no to things because you’re feeling lazy or aren’t working efficiently enough is a problem.  Saying no to things because you are trying to make the most valuable contribution to your company by effectively leveraging your skills and strengths is smart.  I’d encourage you to read the entire book, but here’s the jist of how being an Essentialist makes you a more valuable employee.

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.

3. Set goals

Want to take the next step up the ladder or switch to a different department?  Got an awesome idea you’re itching to implement?  Those things won’t happen without clearly defining your goal and then breaking it down into actionable steps.  Give yourself a deadline and then get to it.

I’m fortunate to work at a company that encourages goal-setting and continual improvement.  As a result, I’ve experienced some positive spillover effects into my personal life as well.  I’ve always lived and breathed goals but often equated them with to-dos.  Learning how to make longer-term goals and then parcel those out in the near future has been incredibly helpful in making dreams come true.  For Christmas, my wonderful husband got me a Nomatic planner + journal that is designed perfectly to balance daily tasks, long-term goals, and everything in between. Take a look!

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Whether you’ve been working for 3 months or 30 years, what are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned so far?  I’d love to hear them!

 

T of Death (3/3)

Gutenberg didn’t invent the printing press out of thin air. According to Where Good Ideas Come From, he recycled some of the technology involved in a wine press to invent the printing press. In its most simplified version, that’s the Adjacent Possible. Most new great ideas or inventions are only possible because there are adjacent to something that already exists. It’s like getting to a room on the 2nd floor by walking up the stairs and through a hallway. You can’t teleport there, but with the right combination of steps, you’ll get to that 2nd floor room.

The Adjacent Possible is a fascinating idea that’s great at explaining how we got from pressing grapes to printing books, but terrible when applied to one’s life path.

I like doing things. I was an Overly Involved High School Student who became an Overly Involved College Student. Like I’ve written in other posts, being overly vague in one’s skills or overly specialized can be paralyzing. So can walking aimlessly through open doors just because they’re open. Being an Overly Involved Person meant that I had a lot of different opportunities.

And being a believer in the Adjacent Possible meant I took 99% of them.

I thought I liked doing things, so it didn’t matter what work I did, as long as I was working. Turns out, it does matter what kind of work I’m doing. Evidently, just walking through the next open door might land you in a room that isn’t where you should be.

I’m just now learning that it’s okay to walk out. Climb through a window if you need to. Re-orient yourself, buy a map, chart a course, change those plans, make 3 year goals, 5 year goals, and adjust them all tomorrow. But if you know you’re in the wrong room, staying there longer won’t get you where you need to go. Keep moving and keep dreaming.

In other words, I quit my job last week.

Adios Adjacent Possible. I’d rather be known for who I was than having the longest resume around.

Until next time,
Chloe

Impossible Nostalgia

I just wish things were the way they never have been.  174984

It’s fall in Southern California, which means that it’s not fall at all.  Palm trees don’t change leaves, and over-priced cider from Walmart isn’t the same as freshly squeezed apple nectar from an orchard.

At first, I attributed my intense nostalgia to the lack of autumn here and a general homesickness.  Yet, as I attempted to self-medicate this heart sickness through Facebook crawling and copious amounts of decaffeinated tea (official sign of the end of college life), I realized that I was battling an impossible nostalgia.

1043516I have this idea that at some indeterminate point in my past, I enjoyed  quality time with my closest friends while attending a continual coffeehouse and the charms of my hometown.  The reality is, many of my closest friends from college graduated before I did.  School was stressful and cafeterias are inhumane and I was more likely to be serving coffee than sipping it in acoustic bliss. Not only that, but I have dear kindred souls from childhood and high school and none of them are ever in the same place at the same time.  And if I walked through the streets of my hometown, very few would remember my name or face.

It’s a feeling of impossible nostalgia that carries the hope of a reunited tomorrow.

I am not missing out on anything nor can I return to this rose-tinted moment that never existed.   And I have hope for my own Clapham group in the future.  Luke and I are so blessed to have such incredible friends from coast to coast.  Maybe, one day, we’ll all be within driving distance (or at least the same time zone).  I know I’m biased because the common denominator between you all is my husband and I, but I promise you it would be awesome if we gave it a try.  Because you all have already impacted our lives in so many ways for so much good.  Thank you.

Until next time,
Chloe

Layers

This is my senior year, last semester.  A multi-layer image of friendships made and lost or faded or stayed. Fun times and hard times, all dictated by the never-forgiving academic calendar and endless stream of lectures, events, chapels, dances, and the occasional game of bowling.  Everything I experience is held to the light of past experiences in the same place and time, just years later.

Mesmerizing Mirages

The expanse of Lake Michigan fills my landscape.  Yet my eyes are focused only on one golden spot where the setting sun has imprinted itself on the lake.  It looks perfect and I have to resist the temptation to run down the 265 steps to the beach, hijack a kayak, and paddle to it.

Something more than the 265 steps deters me though.  There is no way to reach the mesmerizing glimmers.  By the time I get there, the sun will have set and the dancing lights will have disappeared.  In the meantime, I will have missed the sunset.

It’s hard not to remember all the sunsets I’ve missed in my life, chasing after an elusive golden patch of light.

There are goals that I was never meant to reach, a person I was never supposed to be.  So many mirages that I bet my life on being true only to find them not only unreachable, but non-existent.  I’ve exhausted myself over and over again in this impossible pursuit.

So, for at least today, I will rest and watch the sunsets in life.  It is impossible to capture it’s magnificence in words so here I will end and allow you to find your sunsets as well.

?

Sometimes I just like to question everything.
What if, just for a day, we completely ignored time?  We didn’t use clocks or shadows to determine our next actions but rather reacted with each other to figure out what we were going to do.  Or maybe we’d just do nothing.  Mostly likely, there would be chaos and confusion and no one would know when the day without time ended since checking would be cheating and everyone would end up confused and sad.

I wonder if we ask the questions of others that we want to asnwer ourselves.

Is it okay to be discontent?  Is there a difference between being discontent with your circumstances (not okay) and being discontent with your state of self (possible motivation for improvement?)  If you aren’t discontent with yourself on some level, isn’t that just personal apathy?  Don’t you just become stagnant?  To want to be better, you must recognize that you aren’t the best and there are greater things.

Shouldn’t a cinderblock wall be soundproof?

Is it possible to love others without a hint of selfishness?  Even the purest of love is out of a heartful desire to care for someone else because they mean something to you.  Although even an attempt at selfless love is millions of times better than satisfaction with self-centeredness.

Does laughter help you think better?  I’m pretty sure it does.

Grove City Standard Time

I have exactly four minutes to write this.  Welcome to Grove City Standard Time.  Activities that imagesCARR51YAused to take you an hour have about 10 minutes of scheduled time to get done.  You will manage your time or you will lose it, along with your sanity.  Yet even though the time has compressed and the clock’s hands seem to be racing to see who can get there fastest, there is no other time zone I’d rather be in. It’s amazing what you can get done in a minute when a minute is all the time you have.

Life at this speed is insane, impossible, exhausting, but also beautiful and precious.  We have such a short and undetermined time to be here.  This isn’t a race to run you raggard but one to run with dilligence while resting in God’s peace and ultimate sovereignty.  For as much as I’d like to think I can do, I am completely useless without Him.

My time is up for now, but I’ll be back.
Chloe