Holiday Affirmations: Days 6 and 7

Yesterday, our power went out very unexpectedly. And it wasn’t just the ‘oh 5 minutes weh’ kind of outage. It was hours of darkness. However, this made things all the more inspiring because it made me realize that you can’t plan for everything this time of year. All you can do is pick back up once the dust settles. Fight back against discouragement. It’s going to be okay. The light will return.


December is interesting because not only do we have the holidays but there’s the double-whammy of ‘this is the end of the year.’ There’s a feeling of finality. And that’s not always good, because it’s easy to go, “God, I didn’t get done x, y or z.” We come across that list of resolutions and realize that maybe we’re the same weight or we still don’t do our laundry before we run out of clean clothes. Don’t get lost in the past. Be present in this moment. Make it count.

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[How to Have a Day Job] Six Things!

howtohaveadayjobsnow
So in the midst of a lot of different things going on right now, I looked up and realized that a special day had passed. September 28. On this day six years ago, I entered the company I currently work for. It shall continue to remain nameless, but the lessons I have learned…those I will share.

Here we go: 6 things I would not have learned without my day job.

  1. Finances: money can’t buy me love, but it does pay the bills. And there’s a whole other world of insurance, retirement, stocks…all those words that get thrown around that would not have made sense to me if it weren’t drilled in year after benefit year. And I feel much more comfortable being able to budget and handle finances in my personal life now that I can put those things together.
  2. How to present information: I used to sing in front of my school and church growing up, but it’s different when you actually need to instruct human beings. I have become very eloquent and comfortable working in front of people, and there is no way I would even be able to make that happen if not for the trainings and presentations I’ve held.
  3. Dealing with mean people: despite what anyone tells you, there comes a time when you have to work alongside folks who are not your favorite crowd. Is it fun? No. Will it kill you? Also no. Do you learn how to deal with it and get things done? Unfortunately, yes.
  4. Why bad habits are bad: skipping breakfast, not washing your hands, drinking a lot of soda…it just builds up.
  5. The importance of working hard and playing hard: being present means knowing when to get deep into your job and when to really enjoy life. That means being able to go to bed each night knowing you did your best. That means taking risks, using your sick time, traveling, planning weekends, having parties. By living with joy and adventure, you stop counting down to Friday. And on that note…
  6. How to let go: my day job gets 40 hours of my week and not a minute more. It took a long time to get that skill honed, and now it’s more than my nine-to-five. It’s releasing regrets, anxiety and fear. It’s not always easy, but it’s way better than holding onto things that try to push me down.

What have you learned from your day job?

[How to Have a Day Job] Bad Days and Announcements (Not in That Order)

Hi, hello, and good evening!

So I’ve ranted and raved about my newsletter series How to Have a Day Job ever since it started. It’s only become more and more important to me as time has gone on. And that is why I have decided to move it from the email-only format to right here. On the blog. In front of you. Not constantly in short sentences, but it’s what I’m doing right now so…boom.

For those of you who are new, as I said in my H2HaDJ (Ech-too-ha-DJ? Hitoohadge?) the basic goal of these posts is this:

I am here to tell you that you don’t have to be defined by the money that keeps a roof over your head, food in your mouth and a few extra sketchbooks and pencils in your bag. I’m right here in the trenches with you. We’re going to get through this together. In this weekly newsletter, I will give you activities and ideas of how to keep your soul fiery when you walk in the door from the office soaking wet. We’re going to talk to people who have gotten to the other side of the river. And we’re going to thrive together.

The first topic in the New and Improved How to Have a Day Job Series is a topic near and dear to our hearts: bad days. You know them. They’re the ones that start in traffic, wind up in awkward bad meetings, find themselves sitting next to the lunch you left on the kitchen table. They’re the days that wind up crying in the bathroom or standing at the coffee pot, imagining exactly what could be said to that so-and-so right before full-blown “you can’t fire me! I quit!” mode.

And worst of all, they’re the days that end on the couch in front of a marathon of Modern Family, a pizza, and zero sense of priorities. Priorities being the book you’re working on writing, the scrapbook gathering dust, or the sewing machine rusting away from lack of use.

Fie, I say! Fie on bad days! Fie on their ability to ruin our productivity. Fie on their screwing up our streak. Fie, fie, fie!

And thus, here I provide, 5 ways to get the better of your bad day.

1. Make the decision that it is over — Once you’ve gotten off work, stop. Close your eyes. Take 5 calming, deep breaths. And say, out loud, “This bad day is over.” Make it final. Smile. Drive home and, on your way, imagine that you aren’t leaving a bunch of bad garbage but you are coming to a wonderful evening.

2. Take a shower — Sometimes, if I really feel like I’ve been wrecked and ruined by my job, the first thing I do when I finish is take a shower. I put on clean clothes, slip on some soft socks, and immediately I feel better. It’s like a nice, hot shower can was away the muck that gets kicked up on you in every way: physically, mentally, spiritually. Get that off.

3. Don’t sit — The couch is sitting there. Or your favorite chair. They call out to you in their siren song…just a few minutes. Maybe an episode of that show you have recorded. Maybe a few rounds of that video game. You deserve it. No. No, no, no. There is time enough for that once you’re done with what you should be doing. Which brings us to our next item…

4. Arrive — Have a section of your house that is dedicated only to your craft. It doesn’t have to be much. Maybe a table in the corner. Maybe a studio (lucky you). Maybe it’s a roller cart you can take into the bathroom. Go there. Say hello. It’s been waiting for you. Sit down. Do something there. Don’t think about it too much. Just…be there.

5. Channel that energy — I know. You’ve gotten to this point in the list where you’re all, “Yeah, you know what, Katie? All this hippy crap is well and good, but we can’t all just let it go, like a Disney princess in the snow. I had a really, really bad day!” And to that, I say…okay. That is alright. Just don’t let that stew inside you. Can’t let it go? Then let it explode. Recently, I made a fantastic purchase: a punching bag and a set of gloves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten done with work, walked over to it, and just kicked the ever-loving shit out of it for about ten minutes. Use that energy, y’all. Take all that bad and turn it into something awesome. Write about it. Sketch about it. Scream about it. But try to give yourself an end to it. Say to yourself, “I am going to let myself freak out for about 10 minutes. Then that’s it.”

Decide you are better than your worse days, and your good days are going to quickly outnumber them.

Writing Tip: Relax Before Everything Explodes

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This picture was taken at the lovely Japanese Garden in Washington Park Arboretum, when I visited Seattle, WA.

I know these used to be numbered, but is anyone keeping count really? (This is not a challenge to go back and check the last time I did this or to express that you do, in fact, know how many of these I’ve done. You’ll just make everyone feel BAD.)

Recently, I’ve gotten a few inquiries from fellow writers who have been curious about the process of publishing. I’m always flattered, and as much as I want to say, “I’ll tell you all about it after I use the facilities” and slip surreptitiously out the bathroom window, I do share the knowledge I have. One of my tips is always looked at as extremely counter-intuitive, especially in our culture of ‘keep going, drink coffee, never stop doing what you want AND what will pay you money AND take a spa day with your Blackberry.’

Relax.

Take it easy.

I know, I know. It’s fun to get into that momentum where you’re hurling yourself through every twist and turn like you’re in a foam forest while wearing one of those crazy padded Sumo bodysuits. Look at what a powerful force you are! You can’t stop now! You have to get all of those words out there into the world before they get stale! Every story, article, book or essay is a souffle, and if you let it sit too long, it’s going to sink and nobody is going to want it.

Now, this tip is not to discourage goal-setting – you should definitely set up a GPS when you start out on the wordsmithing roadtrip – but give yourself some space. Take a look and say, “If I really went through this at espresso speed, how fast could I get it done?” Then, multiply that time by two. Slow down. Recognize each step. What’s your rush, cowboy?

When you take your time – when you stop and take a look around the beautiful path you’re on – magic happens. Mindfulness happens. You are more present. You are more aware. It is a peaceful feeling, not going 90 miles-per-hour. Try it.