Category Archives: Personal

Comfort Zone!

One of my constant goals is to do things outside of my comfort zone (as long as I don’t compromise my morals and beliefs). The past few months I have made small, yet significant strides, in this respect. I baked new recipes for people for the first time without testing them myself first. I had conversations with strangers I happened to come across in public. Heck, I even accepted a job outside my comfort zone (I don’t think I’m ever going to be 100% comfortable that I could be physically attacked by mentally ill adolescent boys any day).

Last night, I went to the holiday music program at my old high school where my little sister sang in the choir. During her four years at the school (our time there never overlapped), I went to many holiday programs. For the last song, White Christmas, the choral director always asks for any alumni in the audience to come join the choir on the rafters to sing along. Every year, I slink down in my seat and hide behind a camera lens because I feel somehow silly or self-conscious walking up there by myself without any other young alumni. This time, I did the usual. I heard the announcement for alums to come to the stage, I slunk down into my chair, and I took a picture. But then, I realized that this would probably be my last high school holiday concert because my little sister graduates in June. So…why not? Why not go up? I am 100% positive that my joining the high school choir students had absolutely no significance to anyone except me. Well, and maybe the handful of students who recognized me as their substitute teacher. 😉

In any case, it felt great to let go of a silly anxiety. I look forward to this being the first of many times I suck in my self-consciousness and just…do things. Without thinking about them so much. Without thinking about other people. After all, I think that self-consciousness is somewhat egocentric and that it is a feeling that does not do any good for anybody. Out of anything on my list of goals, this may be the hardest and also the most important for me to overcome.

comfort zone magic


My Favorite Sandwich

Do you ever feel like you experience true happiness from a certain food? I thought I would share with you all a food that gives me great joy the moment I take my first bite. My all-time favorite sandwich is the #9 veggie classic from Nhu Lan Bakery on Lawrence in Chicago. It’s a game-changer. A life-changer! Here is a picture of me enjoying my favorite sandwich and possibly my favorite food ever (no other banh mi can compare):


How I Self-Care

In my line of work, people talk a lot about self-care to ensure that you do not forget to take care of yourself while being so wrapped up in taking care of others. Now that I have worked at my job for over a month, I have started to notice changes in my self-care routine. My nightly journal entries are often rushed. Sometimes there are long lazy lines my pen made as I started to doze off mid-sentence. If I exercise twice in one week, then it’s considered a good week. I eat unhealthy food late at night. My body struggles to recover from staying up all night for work. I find that I spend most of my days off inside, behind a computer screen. It has been weeks since I have done something for fun with friends. My job is going great, but my self-care is not. 

All of the self-improvement goals I thought were firmly implemented into my life have been thrown off balance by my new employment. There are a little more than three months until I turn 24 and, by then, I want to be on the right track in terms of my mental and physical health, my social life, and my rate of creative output. Hence, I think it is fitting that I update my goals to reflect my self-care goals. I want to be able to work full-time and also really focus on my own well-being.

The following are preliminary ideas I have for a quality self-care routine:

1. Pack healthy food to bring for work. With my current schedule, there are five meals I have to eat at work per week (one lunch, three dinners, and one breakfast). The breakfast is pretty easy to skip or to get away with just eating a piece of fruit, so it’s really those three dinners and one lunch about which I’m concerned.
a. Bring a healthy entree, but also bring healthy snacks in case there isn’t time for a full-            blown meal.
b. Make a salad from the salad bar and eat a vegetable side dish to satisfy your appetite               long enough before you get a break.
c. If the dessert looks like it’ll be really worth it, then eat a few bites or half of it.

2. Make plans with people for your days off. Find the people in your social network who may be free at any time during your free days and make a plan. See a movie. Get coffee. Get lunch. Go bowling. See a play. Something.
a. If no one is free, plan out your day doing something that is productive. Clean your                    room. Go to the bank. Go to the doctor. Complete a task that has been looming over                your head.
b. Additionally, make plans to do something that just makes you feel good. This can be              watching a TV show or lying outside or going for a bike ride. You name it. There are                  ways to be absolutely happy and content that are not dependent upon others.

3. Exercise as often as you can. Something I have discovered about myself is that I feel so good after a workout. It gives my whole day a brand new, shiny outlook. Based on my current schedule, my exercise schedule should be Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday before lunch, and then Saturday during my break at work.
a. Sign up for a fitness class on your day off or before 1:30 on weekdays to meet new                   people and peer pressure yourself into the workout.

4. Leave work at work. In other words, be completely present in work while at work, but leave it behind during my days off. Beyond a few sentences on how my day at work was, it should be out of my mind so I can relax.
a. Check work email once a day, but not before bed! This should reduce the frequency                of work-related dreams.

5. Use overnights for creative output. I’ve already started a few experimental writing projects during my two overnights so far. I would love to continue this, as the overnight is a time when I’m not supposed to be doing anything else. I can’t exercise or go outside. It’s the perfect time to sit behind a screen and write something!

6. Use those 66 hours well. Sometimes, it feels like I’m working ALL the time, but it’s not true. I did some quick math and discovered that I have 66 awake hours per week that I can use in whatever way I want!

I Got My Driver’s License!

I have put off getting my driver’s license for years. Seven, to be exact. It all started my sophomore year in high school when I took driver’s ed with the rest of my friends. For some reason, the teens in my cushiony suburb preferred going to a place in a questionably location because it was kind of a joke. We went on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park, so I had to re-schedule my behind-the-wheel. I totally procrastinated setting up a time with the instructor and before I knew it, I had lost the opportunity because the instructor had been arrested for dealing cocaine. Yeah. All of those times he had gone outside to meet with shady-looking guys in the middle of class were starting to make sense.

I didn’t want to have to go through trouble of taking the class again, so I decided to wait until I was eighteen when you are not required to have taken a class. However, life was busy as a high school college-bound senior and my license was just about the last thing on my mind. The years crept slowly by and I still did not have my license. I got a job. I volunteered. I joined a sorority. I wrote term papers. I gave speeches. I committed myself to being healthy. I got a boyfriend. I turned 21. I went to Europe. I graduated. I student taught. It seems like mostly everything in my life was falling into place except for one tiny detail: I had limited mobility!

As independent, mature, and grown-up as I wanted to consider myself over the years, I knew that I could never be any of those things without the ability to drive a car. I got to know public transportation very well over the years and I became well-known for riding my bike everywhere, but sometimes, a car trip is the only thing that’ll get you from point A to point B. I realized that I needed to make getting my license a priority when I found myself biking to work in sub-zero temperatures in Northern Wisconsin and I almost got hit by a car because my break lines were frozen. My hands were so cold that I could barely dial my phone to call my boyfriend for a ride home. I hated the fact that I needed to depend upon someone for a ride.The moment I realized that I truly was not self-sufficient was the moment I realized that I had had enough.

So, today, I finally walked into the DMV to take my driver’s license road test. Unlike the rest of the bright-eyed newly-minted sixteen-year-old driver’s license hopefuls, I waited in line without my mom or dad; I have been a legal adult for five years already, after all. I had all of my documentation in a folder, including a permit I got the day before (I tried to get my license yesterday, but the permit was expired!), proof of auto insurance, and my trusty state ID card. The wait was short. Everyone was friendly. I passed the road test with flying colors and my examiner even told me that I was a “good driver.”

This is such a big deal for me personally. This is THE thing I have been putting off for my entire adult life so far. It is THE thing that my parents have had to nag me about (“Want to go get some driving practice in?”). It is THE thing I have had to explain time and time again (“i just don’t really need one” or “I can’t afford a car, insurance, and gas”). Getting my license means that I am no longer making excuses. I am no longer procrastinating. I am no longer doing more thinking/talking than doing. Even though this may be a small thing for most, this was a huge personal success for me. Also, I’m trying not to hate that my picture is off center and awkward because I’m petite. I’m also trying not to sweat my horrible signature. (How was I supposed to know that particular signature was going to be the one that showed up on my license? Oops!)


5 Tricks I Used To Transform Myself From Being Super-Shy To Being Super Not-Afraid-To-Go-For-It Confident

This is my very first reblog, which I am sharing with you because I think that many of us can benefit from advice in being more confident (myself included). The author really hits the nail on the head in this incredibly sound advice in learning confidence by getting out of your comfort zone.

Thank You, Yelp!

carolyn yelpyIn February, I had just moved back home after finishing student teaching. One day, I checked Yelp for reviews of a restaurant I was thinking of dining at with a friend and it clicked that all those reviews are written by actual people! It dawned on me that I could easily write reviews on the places I ate and also about anything from the local grocery store to concert venues to my alma maters. I started reviewing up a storm and eventually I applied to become an “Elite” for 2013. My application was approved and since then, I have met a ton of incredible people and tried a ton of incredible food all thanks to complimentary Yelp Elite events.  One of my goals to maintain is to try a lot of new food, which Yelp has really enabled me to do. For example, through Yelp I have tried vegetarian sushi and Afghan cuisine, just to name a few new dishes I may not have tried. Additionally, Yelp has been incredible in helping me get out of my comfort zone when it comes to socializing. I’ll never forget my very first event. I took the L train with three different transfers when I had scarcely ever ridden that train alone before, let alone figured out transferring train lines. Once I arrived, I learned that there were going to be about fifty people there. I took a deep breath and started introducing myself. I ended up making some great friends and I even got to roll my own sushi for the first time!

But more than anything else, Yelp has taught me to really value and pay attention to what I eat. I find that I am much more observant and thoughtful about the food I eat because I know that I will write a review later. This has also transferred to my everyday eating, which contributes to my being mindful of what foods I put into my body. So, in a roundabout way, Yelp has inspired me to be healthy. In my quest to improving myself in a number of ways before my 24th birthday (and beyond!), I’m happy to say that Yelp has been and continues to be an important part of the journey.