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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cracked Spine: Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin

Cracked Spine: Better than Before, Gretchen Rubin
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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I adore reading, and now that its my "summer" I have the headspace and time to dive into the long list of books that have been piling up in my Goodreads account (which, in it of itself needs tidying up, maybe I will add that to today's project list!). I devour books in general, but have two main genres that I always come back to- personal development/growth and chick lit...the two opposite ends of the spectrum but I love reading about the ways in which we operate and particularly love books that can help me in my work or with students.

Admittedly, its been a long time since I have read something that makes me want to tell everyone I meet about it, either by design of being on the road and consistently on the go or just for lack of finding something truly inspirational. But not today! Better than Before is an incredible read about how we formulate and approach habits. Gretchen Rubin deep dives into the personality traits that people display, how each group of individuals approaches a habit.


I really enjoyed this book. I love personality tests and indicators and the way the book is set up, it gives me an identity (incidentally, one of Rubin's main arguments about how we come to formulate a habit) that helps me verbalize the way I approach these concepts and main ideas. Many reviews that I have read criticize Rubin for making the reader feel that they should adapt habits she feels are superior- but I didn't read the book that way. In my opinion the only way that she could illustrate some of the points in the book was to provide examples of habit formation working (or not working, or kind of working) for her and for others. 

At any rate, the book made me think, and helped me feel better about formation of my own habits. I have a tendency to start out with the best of intentions and somehow get my path veered off into a different direction- so reading a book like this helps me understand why that happens and feel OK with the fact that sometimes a habit isn't going to stick. It also gave me the language to verbalize how my brain works with (or against) my habit formation when I need to explain it to others. If you like Meyers-Briggs type assessments to learn more about yourself- this book is going to be a hit with you! 
Monday, April 24, 2017

Retreating- at Home

Retreating- at Home
Monday, April 24, 2017
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This week it's family retreat time!

With boyfriend getting a new job, he wanted to take time off and relax, reset, and refocus for the new opportunity ahead. I have limited time off work, but my remote office allows me to have a little flexibility in our scenery. Not wishing to spend money on a far away trip or travel accommodations, we looked to the family beach house on the Jersey Shore. 

With it being the off season, its the perfect time to be down here hiding away. No traffic, slightly less than perfect weather, and gorgeous scenery. We love both seasons equally in this house, and I am particularly partial to blustery days at the beach, so the current setup is perfect. 


A few summers ago...


While the house isn't ready for the summer's festivities yet, we have no open pool or deck furniture out of storage, that is just fine with us. We've set up camp with the bay as our backdrop for a week of quiet together. Boyfriend is working on some school work and organizational strategy for his new role, and I'm working as usual with a different backdrop. 

There's some functional benefit to us being in a family home- laundry can get done en masse and for free (it costs us nearly 7 dollars to do one load of wash/dry in Boston), we can cook on a grill, and we don't wake up to sirens/jackhammers/honking the way we do in the city- but what we are most looking forward to is spending some time disconnected and off the grid. We packed our adult coloring books, I brought knitting (which I haven't done in forever), and our goal setting Powersheets (I have the personal workbook and we use the couples workbook together) to take some time off the grid. It's been a long winter with a lot of firsts and transitions for us, and now that summer has arrived we are really hoping to enter it rejuvenated so we can enjoy everything to the fullest. 

It'll be a week of drinking tea, snuggling up, and taking it easier (although I'm still working)- living our little version of Hygge here at the beach. Is beach hygge a thing? We are making it one :D 
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Home Un-Office

Home Un-Office
Wednesday, April 19, 2017
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Nearly a year ago, I made a huge life change and accepted my current [dream] job. There were lots of benefits to me taking this position and making the change, but one of the coolest side benefits came with the remote opportunity. 

Since my schedule has me traveling about 60% of the year (based on my rough estimate, occasionally I am on the road less or more), basing this job out of Virginia where headquarters is doesn't make much sense. I've long wanted to use my talents to work for a sorority's headquarters, but the Northeast is my home and my Boyfriend's career is here as well, so moving just wasn't on the table. Two years ago, when I graduated- I would have picked up and gone anywhere, but time has changed and ultimately I really do want to be within a few hour's drive of my parents as I start to lay down roots. 

That aside, working from home was an adjustment. We have a spare bedroom in the apartment and when I moved in ten months ago, set that room up as a joint office. Both of our desks, bookshelf, and his old bedroom set and bed made it a dual purpose room where we could host an overnight guest and get our work done. I happily settled in my routine of "going to work" in my new space- but found that as the day went on I would migrate back out to our living room ever so slowly. My desk itself was too small, the room was louder due to construction and being closer to the street, darker with less natural light than the living room, and I felt isolated and lonely in such a quiet space. 

Ultimately my cute "minimalist" desk became a dumping zone- piles of unopened mail from when I was on the road accumulated, stuff that didn't have a "home" found its way onto my desk chair, etc. It was unsightly and brought down the energy in the room. Boyfriend grew frustrated at the ever growing pile and the overall lack of appeal the room now had. I realized that I needed to make a change and that the desk wasn't serving me, and thus- enter my Un-Office Cart!



I realized that while I needed a place where my work stuff could "live" and something that could mentally trigger that the day of work is complete. After researching lots of different options, I went with the cube system from Target. The modular option allowed me to build in the exact shelving and drawers that I wanted, and the optional casters made it a mobile unit which was really important to me. As the days grew warmer I found myself wanting to work outside on our porch. Aside from the fact that the back porch itself needed some TLC, lugging my materials in and out was really frustrating. A cart could wheel around with me and be where I needed it to be! At the dining table when I needed a big surface to spread out on, on the porch when I wanted to be outside, and yes- next to the couch if I was having a day where I felt under the weather and needed that extra comfort. 

I purged a LOT of items from my old desk. Most of the stuff that was in there just didn't make sense for my work style or my needs anymore. I pared down to a minimal file system that lives in 1/2 of the bottom drawer of my desk. I used my Fold N' File from thirty-one  to split the bottom drawer in half and hold my files upright. The back of the drawer holds my work binder that I use to organize files for each extension while in process and on the road, padfolio, and Powersheets. I also stick my everyday notebook and planner in there when I am not using them- but since they are in rotation they often find themselves on the shelf with my computer. The smaller drawer holds pads, pens, business cards, a phone cord, USB drives, glue dots and other knickknacks I reach for often. And the shelf on the top provides a nice home for my computer and iPad when not in use. To contain mail and items to be filed, I keep a paper tray on top and that also allows me to have a space to hang my Oh Snap Bin with hand cream, ear buds, and hand warmers tucked inside. 

Close ups of the file drawer and my little tray. 


I have been using the cart now for about a week and I LOVE it. It keeps my "office" tidy, has helped me purge things that I really didn't need but was hanging on to, and rolls around with me wherever I want to work from- and at the end of the day, work is out of sight, out of mind! 
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Clean Slate

A Clean Slate
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
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It's been a while since I blogged and recently, I feel like I want to write again- but the old blog and content didn't feel right anymore. Graduate school, while only two years ago, seemed so very far away and the person I was then seemed like a foreigner to the woman I am now. 

I'm still a paper and pen girl- and nothing says fresh start like a fresh sheet of notebook paper and a new page in the planner. 

But I still wanted the clean slate. So I sat with the discomfort and thought about what it would look like to start a new blog. What would the name be, what would I write about? The old questions came back up...I tried brainstorming name after name but nothing felt as right as PB & N felt. 

So we got a refresh-new layout, and I decided to delete my old content. Contentious choice, I know- but it gave me the reboot feel that I wanted and so I just went ahead and did it. 

Where am I now? For those readers who may still be connected to this blog on bloglovin' they may recall that I lived with a Fraternity in graduate school, worked a sum of three jobs, and spent the few precious spare moments I had with my cat and the occasional book or side project. I have come quite a long way from those days. 

Today...

I work from home and for a sorority's headquarters- not my own organization, but this opportunity has been a dream come true! I travel the country recruiting and establishing new chapters. It is a job I could only have imagined existing two years ago, and likely would be something that I designed myself if I had the opportunity to. I am on the road a lot and while sometimes I get homesick for introvert time and peace of mind, the work is fun and I get to meet a lot of great people doing what I do every day! 

Nutella Marie, my sweet baby girl (she is nearly 13 - I have got to get a grip) , lives with my boyfriend and I in our apartment- in downtown Boston. Yep, Massachusetts still has its claws on this Jersey girl. Since my S.O.'s work is based here in Boston, we're not looking at leaving anytime soon. Our apartment is comfortable, and right downtown- we are really lucky to be living where we do for the price we have (for those of you not in MA, check out this article on what $1,000 will get you in living expenses by state to gain some perspective on what I'm talking about) so for now we are staying and enjoying what we've got.  

Oh, and I am now senza glutine. Gluten Free. So PB sandwiches on cheap white bread no longer are in the dietary allowances. That has come with its own trials and tribulations which might make its way on here eventually. 

So follow along here! Maybe the blog will have some staying power now that I have some stability and time- at the very least there will be a lot of travel to some fun (and unconventional) places! I can't (and won't) promise there will be a new update every day or even every week, but at the very least this will be the great commentary to accommodate my instagram feed. 


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