Happy May to you. 💛 I just wanted to pop in and say hi and see how you’re doing.
I typically plan these little newsletters further in advance. But today, I’m writing to you in real-time. Sitting in a window-filled café, sipping a chai tea latte, feeling the sun on my skin… and wondering why I don’t take myself to cafés to write like this in the mornings more often.
And I’m now quickly realizing it’s because, one, I normally have to work in the mornings (I happen to have today off).
And two, (there’s just no way to say this nicely) caffeine makes me need to go #2.
So, like, clockwork, I inevitably need to use the bathroom about 5 minutes after I start drinking my cute little chai.
Which means I then need to lug my laptop and phone with me to the bathroom (because I’m scared they’ll be stolen if left unattended), and I also find myself nervously hoping that no one drugs the drink that I’ve left sitting on the table to save my spot while I’m doing my business (because that’s a thing that could happen, right?).
Anyway, today’s newsletter will be shorter. All I really want to say is, hi, 👋 how are you? I’m tired. Are you tired?
It’s not bad-tired. But the busy-ness of spring and soon-t0-be-summer, especially contrasted with the hibernation-esque winter I’m coming out of, has done a number on me. 😅
What about you? How was your April? What was your fav part?
I’d love to hear from you (truly). And regardless, I hope you find ample pockets of rest for yourself this month of May.
If you’d like to connect more this month and/or support my work, here are a few ways you can do that…
I’ve been posting more on LinkedIn these days. Trying to write things that feel honest and true to me, and perhaps don’t fit in with the usual, ‘Rah rah, I love my career’ posts that seem to fill my LinkedIn feed these days. (No hate to those posts, btw).
I recently wrote on LI about:
Why companies should stop referring to their employees as ‘family.’ Read it here.
And 5 things to do if you work remotely and feel like you’re losing your mind (🙃). Read that one here.
Connect with me on LinkedIn if you haven’t already! I’d love to hang out.
We’ve come a long way since I posted my first vlog back in 2018. (Don’t even try to find it; I’ve since hidden it from the general public 😛).
But the video interviews for my podcast – who are you, and what are you doing here – are up on Youtube now. My hope is that when you watch them, you feel like you’re sitting in a living room with us, just exploring the answers to these two questions for yourself, as you learn how our guest answers them. (Find links to the pod on all streaming platforms here).
Our most recent episode is with my dear friend Emily Wilson. We share about our experiences growing up in religious institutions, and what it’s looked like to find our way out and outside of those institutions in adulthood.
It’s a vulnerable conversation, and I think it’s nuanced in a way that these conversations often aren’t (CW: religious trauma). Watch it here (or below).
If you’d like to support this work on Patreon, I’d be so grateful! You can donate as little as $3 a month, and all of the money goes towards keeping the pod, this newsletter, and all other bibs.live content alive. 🙂
Disclaimers: I adore the 2 studios that I mention in this post, and think it’s worth mentioning that I also appreciate Lululemon’s commitment to building community through their free events. This piece is primarily an exploration of friendship, belonging, my own internal narratives, capitalism, and how they all intersect.
Chapter 1 // Why Lululemon.
The other day I was in class at a yoga studio that I go to, and a funny thing happened.
Idk how to say this. I suppose I accidentally became a middle schooler again. 😏
When I say middle schooler, think: tween who just discovered that UGGS / Hollister / Abercrombie are in, so begs her mother to take her to the mall so that she can buy said brands immediately, so as to increase her status in the eyes of the popular girls.
It all started when I was stretching on my mat before class began. I happened to notice that nearly everyone in the room was wearing Lululemon leggings (an athletic clothing brand, known for being high-quality + pretty expensive).
For some reason, when I saw the sea of Lulus, the middle schooler in me decided that I simply must get some Lululemon attire of my own.
Keep in mind, I’m usually a thrift store girlie. I’m not much of a brand bitch. Or else, I haven’t been since I really was in middle school.
So naturally this prompted some self reflection:
Why the sudden need for Lululemon, Bibs?
Are you into the look of Lululemon leggings? (Not particularly).
Do you genuinely need new leggings? (No).
Are your current leggings not meeting your legging needs, whether in quality, comfort, or style? (No, no and no).
Well why then? I asked my inner middle schooler.
Sigh… I’m going to keep it real with y’all. The answer feels vulnerable, and part of me would much rather pretend these things aren’t true. But alas… I cannot tell a lie. And also we’re all human, so why am I being weird about this anyway?
The reason I wanted to buy clothes like everybody else’s is exactly the reason you’d expect from a middle schooler: I wanted to fit in.
Better said: I wanted to belong.
It turns out being a person in your 30’s, trying to build a life in a new city, after 2+ years of staying indoors as an already socially anxious person, looks remarkably similar to being 12, manipulating your appearance externally, in hopes that the popular kids will let you sit with them at the lunch table.
The point is, as someone that is still very much in the beginning stages of building out my community here in Chicago, I’m looking for more places to belong.
And buying Lululemon stuff felt like a way I could help myself do that. So… I did it.
I bought a new wardrobe, full of Lululemon clothes.
I’ve been wearing them to every yoga class I go to and around town. And ever since, everyone I encounter perpetually tells me how much they love me and adore me and want to be best friends with me. I hang out with people all the time. And I am so so grateful I listened to my capitalism-driven urge to buy expensive clothes, because it has given me my soul family. 🥰
Y’ALL. IF ONLY, am I right?
In all seriousness, it’s worth clarifying: the people at this studio seem cool and kind af. They’ve only ever made me feel like I DO belong; and not because of what I wear. So this pull towards shopping to ‘belong’ was very much an internal one.
Once I realized this desire for Lulus was simply a desire for belonging (and a result of some really good branding and marketing on Lululemon’s part), I of course reminded myself of the reality:
Clothes don’t make you cool. And clothes don’t make you belong—not in a healthy community, anyway. Real belonging is based on shared intimacy and human-to-human connection. And anyone interested in those things isn’t going to give two shits about the brand of clothes you’re wearing on your body (just like the people I’m closest to have demonstrated).
So actually, I didn’t go shopping…
I didn’t buy any Lululemon leggings.
Instead, I asked a couple of people at the studio if they wanted to get coffee and go for a walk, to try to foster real community and connection with them. This way, I’d be building authentic connections and moving towards deeper, truer belonging, rather than seeking any illusion of fitting in through shopping. 🖤
Again…. IF ONLY.
I don’t know why I keep writing these fake-out paragraphs. I suppose I’m stalling.
What really happened was:
I bought a couple of Lululemon sets.
All while knowing that doing so would not give me the deep friendships that I longed for.
I felt weird about it. I still do, to be honest. I knew it wouldn’t solve any of my problems. So why did I still give in to the urge to buy these overpriced, silly little leggings? Especially as someone that’s made ‘shitting on capitalism’ a significant part of their personality this past year. 🙃
I’m still unpacking the answer. It’s complicated, I think. When immediate belonging (in the way we desire it) isn’t available to us, it’s natural to gravitate towards the things that will make us FEEL like we belong more—even if we know it’ll only goes skin deep. Or in this case, fabric deep (lol, yikes). After all, connection is such a real and valid human need.
I guess I hoped that buying them would also give me the illusion of belonging enough (just internally-speaking), such that I’d feel more confident to actually make moves towards making some of those realer connections I want and know are out there.
I wouldn’t say it worked, necessarily. In a lot of ways, I’m still that insecure, socially-anxious middle schooler, who struggles to put herself out there. But in other ways, I’ve grown and learned a lot. And I continue to try to connect with new souls.
And not just by going shopping. 😅 I downloaded Bumble BFF this week. So that’s good! And I’m nurturing the relationships that I already do have in the city (which I am so grateful for!). I’m also making it a point to say hi and learn people’s names when I’m out and about (including at the studio). And you know what, the leggings aren’t half bad either—it’s been fun to have something new to wear to class.
Chapter 2 // Obtaining the Lululemons.
Pretty Woman the movie, except in real life instead.
When I walked into the Lululemon store the first time, I went in with the intention of just trying things on. I didn’t want to make any rushed purchases. And I didn’t think twice about what I looked like when I went to run the errand.
Sidenote: I’m suddenly realizing it’s situations like this that explain why I do have fears around not fitting in.
Immediately upon walking into the store, I felt different. Part of this was just my own insecurities—I own that. Some of my experience could’ve also been due to a fluke, or busy-ness, or a number of other reasons.
Nonetheless, I swear the employees could sense that they weren’t going to get money out of me that day.
I got no greetings, or assistance.
When I was waiting for a fitting room, I had to go out of my way to get help, while I watched others around me get approached and assisted with a smile.
The next weekend, after I had time to think about if/what items I wanted to buy, I went back to the store to purchase them.
I was going to spend money this time. I also decided to make an experiment out of my trip back. I wanted to know: would they treat me differently if I presented wealthier?
I wore my finest wool coat.
I wore nice clothes and fancy boots, and clipped my hair back in a way that I thought would be more in-line with the general Lululemon aesthetic.
And lo and behold…
The store was equally as busy. But this time, I was immediately greeted by a manager at the door.
When I told them I was a yoga teacher, they took down my name to offer me a discount at checkout.
As I was gathering clothes to try on, I was asked right away if I needed a fitting room.
I swear… I was rewarded with the illusion of belonging (!!), in exchange for presenting as someone ready to spend.
To be clear, NO HATE towards Lululemon.
Overall, my experiences both times were absolutely fine. No one was mean to me. Again, I’m sure some of it was in my head, and some of it chance/circumstantial. In fact, they do a lot more to foster community and belonging than most other brands I know out there (they offer some stellar free events).
And at the end of the day, what they’re doing is what every other business in America is doing: trying their best to stay afloat in the way they know how, in a late-stage capitalistic society.
Money is what keeps companies alive. It makes sense that they might gravitate towards the people that appear to be able to offer them more promise of survival, than the people who don’t.
It all just got me thinking though. Like DAMN. Capitalism has us all in such a chokehold, doesn’t it? Or at least it’s got me in one… Convincing me, a 30-year-old, to buy expensive clothes that I don’t even need, in hopes of getting love in return. When I claim to hate capitalism, to boot!
Money can’t buy you happiness, folks. That’s the main lesson (re)learned for me from this experience.
Chapter 3 // Contemplating cutting holes in the leggings.
Should I? Or shouldn’t I?
The holes! I almost forgot to share the resolution to the main teaser I posted on my Instagram stories! On there, I explained that I contemplated cutting holes into my new leggings, shortly after buying them.
The backstory: the neighborhood I live in in Chicago has a very particular aesthetic. Put together, coordinated, polished are all words coming to mind. And Lululemon kinda fits that bill, hence why I imagine they do so well in the city!
I spent last month in San Diego. I went to a new yoga studio while I was there, and decided to wear one of my new Lululemon sets. The middle schooler in me was sure everyone would love my fresh, clean-looking style. I’d be a popular girl, for sure.
And then I got to class. And you guys. There were so many different styles happening. Not much Lululemon. Plenty of old and worn stuff. One guy was wearing Christmas tree pajama pants. Another a ripped pair of shorts.
I was feeling less and less cool by the minute, as I saw how vastly different the ‘in’ aesthetic was in this part of the country.
And then? The yoga teacher walked in. The yoga teacher was clearly very beloved (very cool, if you will, by the standards of those in the studio) and not only was she not wearing a name brand of leggings, but….
HER LEGGINGS HAD A HOLE IN THEM.
A hole! Right on the thigh. Right in front. There, for all to see. And she was cool. Confident. Talented. Radiant. (Much like the people at the studio I go to in Chicago).
In that moment, my inner middle schooler felt silly af for wearing her pretty little Lululemon set. I wanted to take a pair of scissors to my outfit, cut a couple of holes in ‘em and shout, Look at me! I’m just like you! Would you like to be my friend?
Instead, get this. I bought a (thrifted) t-shirt that has pre-cut holes in it and wore it to class the following week. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING YOU. Check it out. 👇
Yes… Yes, I believe I did.
Evidently… the work continues. 😂 You gotta laugh at it.
Lessons (re)learned from this experience:
‘Cool’ looks different, everywhere you go, so best not to try to fit in.
Instead, ask yourself, What do YOU like? Go do/wear that.
Your people will love you for who you are, not what you wear.
Things I’m grateful for:
Both yoga studios, in Chicago and San Diego, and all the humans in them that have made me feel like I belong, whether they know it or not.
My Lululemon leggings, as well as my non-brand-name clothing.
The privilege of being able to buy clothes.
The ability to contemplate all of these noticings.
My commitment to being gentle towards myself and others.
My chosen family and soul sisters, both in outside of Chi town.
What are you grateful for, or noticing today? I’d love to hear from you.
I had some money saved up, and was hopeful I’d be able to take a few months off before finding another job. So after weeks and weeks of contemplating it, I finally gave my notice, and left.
My main goal with quitting was to recover. I was burnt out, felt like I was constantly in survival mode, and most days, I barely recognized myself.
My second goal was to hopefully get back in touch with my creativity, which I hadn’t given much of any attention to for the greater part of 3 years.
I’m not sure how common a goal it is to ‘get in touch with your creativity.’ My guess is many people naturally integrate creativity into their lives, so don’t need to make it a goal.
Others, I imagine, are like me before I quit: running so fast in their pursuit of survival (and perhaps success) that a seemingly frivolous goal like ‘getting creative’ does not, or literally CANnot cross their mind.
Capitalism & privilege.
And this is what I can’t get out of my head. How capitalism has turned creativity — what should be a birthright — into a privilege.
When we’re young, and if we’re lucky, our needs are largely met for us, by parents and caretakers. Our creativity is more easily accessible, because we have the space for it to exist.
We play, we make bad art, we use our imagination.
Then we get older, the responsibility to care for ourselves becomes ours, and oftentimes, we become stressed at best, or in my case, entirely burnt out. We swap the natural desire and space to express our creativity with the desire and need for survival.
This especially goes for those that are marginalized: POC, minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, the disabled, women…
Many of us can’t possibly integrate creativity into our lives, because we’re too busy running for our lives. Trying to keep or find a job, make money to pay for a roof over our heads / for food / for survival.
Never mind if you’re dealing with any kind of crisis or other significant challenge on top of the challenge of surviving. A breakup, a layoff, a health scare…
Reaching rock bottom at the worst of my burnout got me thinking about my life before capitalism ruled it. And how I used to make stuff… because I wanted to. And how good and glorious that felt. 😏
Creativity as a birthright.
This is what I want for all of us.
The space (and consequent desire) to make stuff, and the joy and fulfillment that comes with that.
I’ve heard it said that at our core, we’re all just mammals who like to make beautiful things and look at said things. (And when we’re not doing that, we like to cuddle and groom the other mammals that we love). And I tend to agree.
So I think we should all have the right to do these things.
It’s only fair, given that none of us even asked to be here (not literally, at least).
And yet, what I have a hard time reconciling, is the fact that we’re all born into these systems, often rigged against us, causing access to these things to be reserved for only those that have significant amounts of privilege (read: money).
And for the rest of us… well, we’re hustling to survive. Thus causing the notion of making shit for fun to sound almost silly.
Like I’m sorry, but I’m worried about paying rent next month, and buying groceries to feed myself. And at the end of each day, I’m so wiped, I’m lucky if I can make a meal and zone out in front of the tv before doing it all again the next day. So no, I do not have time to draw or color or do whatever else it is you mean by ‘create.’ 🙃
^ me, if you asked me if I create, in the thick of my burnout/job searching. And this is and was me coming from an already incredibly privileged place myself, relatively speaking. I can only imagine how much harder it is for people for whom the system is so much more aggressively rigged against.
Reclaim it with me.
Still, I believe, creativity IS our birthright. Or else, it should be. It’s only become a privilege since survival itself has become a privilege. And I want to change that.
So. What do you say? How do we do it? Should we overthrow the government? All live on a commune and care for each other like family? 👀
For me, and for now, it starts with the little things.
In the middle of a busy day at work, or looking for jobs, it’s cutting up a snack for myself, and laying it on a plate, just so.
It’s journaling about nothing for 3 minutes in the morning, in handwriting so messy that I know I’ll never be able to read back what I wrote. (I’m always amazed at how time slows down, even in those 3 minutes).
It’s saying no to shit I don’t need to say yes to, towards the end of a long work day, so that I can log off to make a nice meal for myself and my partner instead. (Art).
It’s folding the clothes beautifully, after a big load of laundry… that’s right. Chores are art, damn it.
The question for me (and for you if you’d like) is: how can we invite art and freshness into our existence as it is?
And if that doesn’t feel feasible to do on your own: how can you rely on the support of those around you, or perhaps seek out support from those you don’t yet know, to help invite it in?
It’s not fair that we have to work to create space for something that — survival mode aside — would be so inherent to our existence. I’ll say it again, creativity is our birthright, and I wish the world (or at least the US) saw it that way.
But if fighting for it is the only way, then fight for it, we must. Right?
Wait, why do I sound like I’m about to start a revolution rn?
The cool thing about taking this approach, is creativity begets creativity. Life creates life. So doing these tiny things, I notice, naturally feels so good that it encourages me to do more things like it. Capitalism may have 40+ hours of my life, but I will find ways to build creativity and thoughtful intricacies into it, no matter what. That’s how I feel right now at least, caffeinated and heading into a weekend. (Ask me again on Monday and perhaps I’ll have a little less pizzazz and fight in me, for this so-called revolution).
Anyway… that’s what I have to say this week. Stepping off my 🧼📦 now. What do you think about this stuff? How do you create space for creativity or whatever it is that brings you joy in your own life?
Btw when I say creativity, I really just mean anything that brings new energy and life into your own life. Playfulness, joy, laughter, writing, drawing, coloring, knitting, photography, posting on social media, having a conversation, sex, dancing, resting, reading, (as I said) laundry, making snacks or food for yourself, journaling… the list goes on. All of these things involve creation of some sort. Making something exist that wasn’t previously there. And they’re all equally beautiful and valid. 🎨
Okay, I’m signing off now. Would love to hear from you, as always!
I just went back and re-read some of my old blog posts on here.
I remember how happy I was to be creating back then.
Just writing for writing’s sake.
Because I wanted to, needed to, and knew I was meant to.
So I did. Simple as that.
I remember a time when writing came so naturally to me (and I thought so little about why I would or wouldn’t write), that when I came across a motivational message online, encouraging people who were feeling stuck in their creativity to ‘overcome their fears’ and ‘do the thing anyway,’ I was fully confused… wondering why people wouldn’t just make the thing that’s on their heart, if it’s clearly asking to be made.
Then & Now.
My creative process used to be so simple:
Get an idea.
Write about the idea.
Share the idea.
Feel good afterwards. (Because being creative and letting that creativity be seen generally feels really good).
Now, my creative process looks something like this:
Get an idea.
Get distracted, usually by some form of fear or anxiety, oftentimes rooted in something entirely unrelated to said idea.
Forget the idea.
Remember the idea again a few days later.
On the rare occasion I have the time/energy for it: write about the idea.
Think about sharing it.
Think about all the reasons I shouldn’t share it: I’m probably saying it wrong, it’s already been said before, nobody cares, what if I get canceled, I shouldn’t write until I’ve figured out a way to monetize it,if I’m gonna write then I should start by responding to the texts and emails that have been sitting in my inbox… the reasons are endless.
More often than not: I don’t share the idea.
Ignorance really is bliss.
My creative mind used to be so untainted by the world, and by the other, darker parts of my own mind, that it was as if I had never encountered creative procrastination or fear at all.
Or… maybe I had, now that I think of it. But it wasn’t a lot. And when I did feel some hesitation, I recall now that I’d rely on my religion to remind me that I was allowed to – even urged to (by god*) – to share whatever it was on my mind, in order to help the world see the way (…the truth, and the life).
Oh my, there’s a lot we could unpack here.^ But for now I’ll just say: for the first 20-something years of my life, I was a pretty devout and unquestioning Christian. And at the time, this certainly made me more compelled to just share the thing, rather than not. More reflections on how my interpretation of faith affected my life in future posts, I’m sure… ❤️
Anyway, religious or not, the bottom line is: I was naive.
I was young.
My world was quite small.
My sense of reality was limited.
And in a lot of ways, I was ignorant.
And that, incidentally, made making stuff and sharing it really easy.
On keeping posts up that I no longer believe in…
Reading my old blog posts back, some of what I said I still agree with.
But a lot of it I don’t.
Some of it I really don’t agree with (peep some of the religious stuff).
You’d think, because of this, I’d want to hide or archive the older pieces, for fear of people finding them and misunderstanding who I am today because of what I said back then…
But you know what’s weird? I can’t bring myself to take them down. Not right now, at least.
At the risk of sounding arrogant, I feel so proud of past Bibs, for writing all that stuff.
For daring to let herself be seen, as she actively processed and tried to understand herself and the world.
And for no reason other than, she felt like it (and/or felt like she was meant to).
Creating for creating’s sake.
Especially now in the age of social media and coaching – there’s so much writing shared to try to get something.
To get clients, get followers, get you to buy a program or a product…
And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t dream of my own writing funding my life someday.
But there’s something so precious about the fact that I wrote back then primarily for the love of writing.
So for now, the old stuff stays. If for no reason other than to inspire me to try to do the same from time to time.
My oldest stuff on this blog I wrote back in 2015, 8 years ago. I can appreciate that 8 years from now, I’ll likely (and hopefully) have evolved to a point of disagreeing with some of whatever I might post between now and then. That’s part of any growth-oriented life.
But it’s no reason to keep quiet, right? Life is so much richer when you let people in on the journey.
For anyone reading: thanks for being here. Some of you have been here since 2015. And others for even longer. I know I had at least three other blogs before this one…
Bibs in Berlin (study abroad semester in Berlin, pretty straightforward).
Bibs’ Bread (I used to bake bread for food pantries, and write about it. This was before I realized I was severely intolerant to gluten. Joke’s on me 😏).
And Love Your Neighbor, Love Yourself (the prequel to Bibs.live).
Speaking of Bibs.live, what do you all think: if I want to share some writing like this, this year, would you prefer I do it like this (on my site), or on substack (which seems to be ‘the new blog’)?
Thoughts are welcome. Also, how are you? Have you ever experienced ignorance as a catalyst for creativity? I would love to hear from you. 🌱
P.S. In this piece, I originally planned to talk about creativity as privilege, and how, over the years, the internet has changed how and what I share with the world, but I’m realizing now that this creativity stuff is a multipart series, and I want those things to be their own post. So if you came here for that, I hope you’ll stick around in the coming months to hear it. I sincerely thank u 4 ur patience. 😌
Happy New Year, friends! How are you feeling now that the holidays are over? I said this over on Instagram, but I always feel so many mixed emotions this time of year.
Gratitude, for the joy-filled memories, the carrying on of traditions, and the time to see family and friends.
Grief, for a myriad of reasons. Holidays often come with so many hopes and expectations, and it’s nearly impossible for all of them to be met. (If you’re feeling grief particularly strongly this year, I see you ❤️).
And then, once the celebrations all come to an end, I just feel exhausted for a while.
It’s interesting because I know all my body, mind, and nervous system want to do is rest, after the month+ of festivities; but I actually find it hard to do that. It’s not until I’m well into January that I experience all parts of me feeling the permission to slow down again, and embrace the deep calm and rest that I know I need. Anybody else?
The holidays bring with it a sort of buzz, and it just takes time for me to come down from that.
Anywho, are y’all ready for the annual virtual holiday card? As always, I’ll leave a couple questions at the bottom of this, encouraging you to reflect on your year. I really hope you’ll comment/email/DM your answers to me if you feel comfy, because hearing from you about your year is always my favorite part of this. 😌
Starting with January. Remember this view from last year? (This is the view from my covid-priced rental looking out onto Navy Pier and Lake Michigan). My lease ended at the end of the month, so I made it a point to soak up the views and the space as much as possible. Side note: moving is such a drag. If you’re moving this year, god bless you. You can do it. And I know it sucks. Shoutout to Dolly who made it all possible, on a budget.
For anyone wondering if the buzz cut was an impulse decision (perhaps spurred on by an existential crisis?) thankfully, it was not. I’ve been wanting to shave my head for over a year, but hesitated because I thought I ‘didn’t have the face shape for it’ and ‘only certain people can pull that look off,’ which, I have now come to realize, is simply patriarchal BS. If you’re lucky enough to have hair, and to live in a place where it’s safe for people to have a variety of hair lengths (regardless of gender), then honor what you want to do with that hair. Confidence comes from within and honestly? I have never felt better. 😏
Mid-March, Dan and I escaped the seemingly never-ending Chicago winter and spent a week vacationing in Ocean Beach, San Deigo, CA. Aside from the steep California prices and the current and impending affects of the climate crisis on the west coast (💔), San Diego is arguably one of the best places on earth. The weather is mild, the landscape is perfect (beaches + mountains), tons of food for all dietary preferences, and OB in particular has so much character. It’s a quirky little neighborhood with big hippy energy.
My sister came to visit! It was her first visit out here, and it was so special to have her. She surprised me with the most relaxing birthday gift I’ve ever received while she was here, too, and took me to Aire Ancient Baths. My favorite part about the experience was when we sat under a waterfall meant more for viewing, and laughed hysterically as the water matted our hair; all while the couples in the pool just stared in disbelief. I also gifted her a pair of matching pants… almost as cool as a 90-minute spa experience.
Well, first I quit my job. Then I started the podcast. More on why and how in a future post, perhaps. But this was something I’d also been wanting to do for a while, and all I can say is: if you have the privilege to be able to make the time for things that you want to make (even if just for a season), simply because you want to and not because you need to – do it. Capitalism will try to convince you it’s not worth it – that your time is best spent producing in a way that will provide immediate monetary compensation. But there is nothing like making something and learning something new just because you want to. It’s liberating and empowering.
Also, is it just me or do these headphones make it look like I have cinnamon rolls on my ears?
A college roomie trip! Two of us former roommates flew out to meet our third roommate in Salt Lake City, Utah for a week. The company was absolutely unmatched. As a YouTuber once said, ‘I love my time with my girls!’ The location was also unmatched. 🥵 Literally. The nature, of course, is unreal. Plus, I have to admit, SLC itself is hands down the strangest city I’ve ever been to, and I say that with no hate, and much respect. Have any of you been? What did you think?
Sadly, the girls trip was cut a little short due to a surprise visit from c*vid, but we all made the most of it (and are all feeling better now!).
I spent July in MA and got to see some of the many beautiful humans I love there. Something I seriously wonder: will Claude and I ever stop taking handstand pics together? As unfortunate as it is that we’re not exactly vertical, I am impressed by our synchronicity.
This day was a really special one to me. We went to the beach with my nephew and I got to push him around on a boogie board in the water with my dad, and it was the most fun. This winter I asked him if he remembered when we played in the water, and he said ‘yes,’ and ‘maybe we can do it again sometime.’ So, yeah, I pretty much can’t wait for summer now.
(And if I’m being honest, I anticipate Claude and I will keep taking pics like this, as long as our bodies allow).
August was a relatively quiet month, which was much-needed after the active July trip to Mass. Lots of beach trips and lots of time outside, soaking up the beautiful Chicago weather.
One weekend, I went to a little meditation circle in Lincoln Park, and we did an exercise where we symbolically released some shit we didn’t need by smashing coconuts on the ground. Incidentally, I couldn’t bear to just throw away my perfectly good coconut afterward. So I contemplated eating it. But since it had been on public park grounds, I opted to carry it around with me for the rest of the day and photograph it in cute places instead. I even took it with me to the beach after, and we both went swimming. I suppose you could say this coconut became my pet for the day.
More time outside! This view is from a park not far from our neighborhood. Dan and I love to come here and sit in ‘our spot.’ We bring a blanket to lie on, a book and some headphones, and just relax, talk, and dog-watch for a couple of hours. It’s one of my all-time favorite activities, and one of the few places by us that’s really quiet. Needless to say, I’m very excited for it to become warm enough for us to be able to start doing this again.
Okay, this was one of my favorite things we did all year. WE WENT APPLE PICKING. As a born and raised New England girlie, apple picking was a classic fall activity growing up. Every year we’d go, at least once. The last few years I haven’t been because I don’t have a car in the city. But recently, we’ve started using Turo (think: Airbnb for cars), and it’s been amazing.
We got up really early one morning, rented a car for a few hours, drove to Indiana, and had our picking done and apples in-hand by the time the crowds were getting big at the orchard. We ate a little lunch together afterward, complete with apple cider. And I baked, I want to say, 10+ apple pies this season, in order to use up all the apples we got. 😅 (Thank god for pre-made gluten-free Trader Joe’s pie crust).
Happy birthday, Dan! For Dan’s birthday this year, we went to a Too Many Zooz concert at the House of Blues. It was sublime. If you’ve never heard of Too Many Zooz, give them a listen when you’re needing a little pump up. As the kids say, the energy was LIT (… do the kids actually say this?). Truly, the energy was so good, and I left remembering the magic that comes from listening and bopping to music with hundreds of strangers. It’s something I hadn’t experienced since pre-covid and even though I’m not a huge concert person, I was surprised by how much I had missed it.
My friends, Jenna and Mike, got married in December! This was a really sweet evening, getting to witness their love, along with all of their loved ones. I had never been to a restaurant wedding before – I loved the intimacy of it. Congratulations, Jenna and Mike. And shoutout to my mom for always letting me borrow her clothes so that I don’t have to buy a new outfit every time I’m invited to a special event like this (which is a LOT by the way) (jk).
Phew. Another year, come and gone. Thanks for journeying with me through mine.
I have to share my usual disclaimer: this is fully a highlight reel. (Tears, lowlights, struggles, sleepless nights, and anxiety not pictured). AND, I recognize the incredible privilege I have, to be able to have experienced all of these things, and also talk about them. I am continuously blown away by the complexity, beauty, and injustice of this world.
So, tell me.
How was your 2022? What’s one thing that happened that surprised you last year (whether in a good way or a challenging one)?
And/or, if you’re more into looking ahead: what are you looking forward to in 2023? What’s one thing you’d like to do this year, just because you want to (and not because it’ll make you money or look good on a resume)?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I mean it when I say I would love to hear from you!
Hello friends! It appears this blog has turned into a virtual holiday card of sorts. 👀 How have you been since I sent over my ‘2020 year in review’ post? What did you get up to in 2021? What were your highs and lows? I would love to hear from you. 🤗
Here’s a little summary of my year…
Note: it’s important to acknowledge that there were many challenging, ‘darker’ aspects of 2021. Things that happened on a personal and/or collective level that have been omitted from this reel. That’s not to discount the importance of these things, but I did intentionally keep this ‘light’ for the purposes of this post. I typically (not always*) talk about things with a bit more substance over on Instagram. Still,I hear the privilege in this statement and in this blog post and I’m committed to continuing to navigate the best way to show up in the world given the position that I’m in. I welcome thoughts or advice on this topic if you have any.
January // Baby gets her first apartment.
Started the year off with a bang. I rented my first ever apartment (solo), in Chicago, Illinois.
Covid was raging, vaccines weren’t a thing yet, and as a result, I lucked out and found a place in the heart of the city, for a price that was about one third what it normally would be.
Biggest personal takeaways from living alone during covid: solitude is glorious. Loneliness comes and goes, and living alone provides you with space to face that loneliness and honor it in a way that living with others often does not.
It’s also empowering af to prove to yourself that you can count on you to take care of you (and that includes knowing when to ask for help from others when you need it**).
February // Yoga with Bibs is born.
About a year into the pandemic, I started my own virtual yoga studio, Yoga with Bibs. Teaching these classes has quickly become the most rewarding thing I do and one of the things I’m most proud of.
Takeaways: I love creating spaces for people to be, to breathe, and to honor their bodies together.
Starting something is HARD and imposter syndrome is real. I remember crying in the shower the morning before teaching my first class thinking, what the FUCK am I doing. I’m grateful I did it anyway. And I’m deeply grateful that people continue to trust me to co-create this space with them.
Quick plug: If you are reading this, I would love to invite you to try out a class. Email me or fill out this quick form and I can let you know when we have upcoming classes. ☺️
March // I turned 28. And it went really well!
It actually really DID go well. 😂 I know these photos may concern some, but as you can see by the words on my tear-stained shirt, I am indeed a sensitive creature, and crying is as natural (and beneficial!) to me as breathing.
The backstory is I got up early on my birthday to journal, started reflecting on the beauty and brutality of life, and not long after, my partner walked into the living room to find me staring out the window, like so. Honestly, I couldn’t think of a more on-brand way to start my birthday and while I can’t recall what I was processing, I’m glad I processed it. 🤷🏻
EDIT: pretty sure I was writing this at the time of the tears.
April // Vaxxed and visited.
In April, I got the vaccine and had my first visitor in my new, big kid apartment! Seeing a friend and leaving my apartment to go places other than the pharmacy or grocery store (even masked!) felt wild and reckless, but was so incredibly fun and also so nourishing for the soul.
May // Outdoor fun.
Anyone that’s lived in Chicago knows that May in Chicago is just the absolute best. The city comes to life again, everyone emerges from their six-month-long winter slumber, and the vibe is just JOY. All around.
June // First dip(s) in the ocean.
Dan and I visited our families in Massachusetts, and also visited the ocean quite a bit. There is just nothing like going in the ocean in the summer time. Some days we’d walk to the ocean and even go for a swim before or after work. Cannot recommend this enough if you have a body of water at your disposal.
July // The one month that things were normal.
I stayed in Massachusetts for several weeks and got to see so many humans that I love. This was during that beautiful post-vaccine, pre-variant stretch. It was surreal to be able to hug and have meaningful conversations with all of these people (not all are pictured). I hope we have more times like this in the future where things are safe(r) than they are now. 😭
August // A little bit of everything.
August was a nice litte mix of things. Lots of walks outside. A much-needed haircut. A visit from my other friend also named Sarah. A night out to see Meg Stalter perform. And that photo in the upper right, idk what exactly was happening there. It was after a long day at work, I remember that much.
September // The start of a 4-month long wedding season.
It seems that everyone rescheduled their 2020 weddings for Fall of 2021. Pictured below is the first one I went to. It was so sweet to celebrate the people getting married. And also kinda cool to put on real clothes for the first time in 2 years.
October // more odd ‘n ends.
October was a solid month with unseasonably warm weather. Flew through ‘Somebody’s Daughter‘ by Ashley C. Ford (excellent read). Went apple picking. Bought vegan Doc Martens (psa: they’re not comfortable). Got brunch with friends who were in the city for the Chicago marathon! And saw one of my OGs, Rob Bell, live. Grateful for each and every one of these good timez.
November // mini high school reunion + more weddings.
That middle photo was just a typical post-wedding glow-down moment. Yk I like to keep it real.
December // dodging covid.
December included one wedding in PA, two Christmas family gatherings, two covid exposures, and one wedding in RI to close out the year. December was probably the most stress-filled month tbh, but was also filled with lots of sweet moments that I’m so thankful to have experienced.
I am utterly exhausted after putting this little post together. Maybe it’s because I started it at 5am and it’s now 10am. Or maybe it’s because 2021 was just a wild year and I think maybe we’re all a bit tired…? Tell me. How was your year? I would love to hear from you.
I hope you and your people are healthy and safe. 🌱
Sending love to you, Bibs
P.S. Link again to sign up for yoga class info is here. 🕉
Dear humans who are still subscribed to and/or interested in this very sporadically posted-on blog,
Happy 2021! Whew. What an effing YEAR.
I wanted to write a little something to first and foremost, check in and see how you’re doing. I hope that you are well and your people are well. If you or someone you know has been affected by covid (and/or other health concerns or hardships) know that I am thinking of you and am sitting with you, in whatever you may be feeling or experiencing. If there is anything I can do to support you, please please let me know (by texting or emailing me at email@example.com). 💙
Second, I thought it might be nice to share a bit about what we’ve all been up to this year, similar to what I did last year. A virtual holiday card if you will. I always get so sappy this time of year; I love a good opportunity to reminisce and reflect.
A couple of things I want to acknowledge first:
One, part of me is hesitant to put this out there because I don’t want the contents of this little note to come across as minimizing or diminishing any of the truly horrific things that have happened this year (that I’ve experienced, that you’ve experienced, or that we’ve experienced collectively). I recognize I’m coming from a very privileged position and to that end, it feels inappropriate to just share a highlight reel of my year without fully owning that.
Even so, while I will spare the details of my personal ‘lows’ of 2020, it has been a challenging year, and as important as it is to sit in the grief, heartache, and pain of it all (which I have and continue to do), for me, it’s equally important to talk about all of the other stuff that happened this year, too. Even if only to help myself remember it wasn’t all bad. So consider this a wildly selfish act, but here’s a bit of what my year looked like.
By the way I would really love to hear what you’ve been up to and how you’re feeling after this year if you’re up for sharing, too. Community and connection are so important right now (now more than ever), and while emailing isn’t quite the same as sitting across a table from you and catching up (which is what I’d really like to be doing!), I will take what I can get. 🙂 I miss you!
2020 Highlight Reel
January 2020: I visited my fam.
At this point in the year, I was preparing to move out of Chicago and do some traveling starting in February. Before I hit the road, I took a trip back to Massachusetts to spend some time with my family, including my (most adorable) nephew. It was a grand time.
February 2020: I published my e-book, and traveled to Puerto Rico to help build earthships for 2 weeks.
Earthships are self-sustaining homes made of recycled materials that encourage autonomous, communal, and sustainable living. Participating in this project was one of the most life-giving and empowering experiences of my life, and I’m so thankful for all that I learned and all of the beautiful humans I got to work alongside and get to know there. I never knew pounding tires and building bottle walls could provide such a sense of purpose! I hope to help with more earthship builds in the future. ⚙️If you ever have the opportunity to participate yourself, I highly recommend it! They do these builds all over the world. And if you have any questions on it, let me know!
I also published my first e-book, all about holistic healing and how to enter the world of natural health in a healthy way. 🤓 If you’ve read it or do read it, I’d love to know what you think!
March 2020: After Puerto Rico, I spent a week in Panama.
This trip was supposed to be a couple of months long, but ended up being cut short due to some differences in expectations between us and our host. It ended up working out because the day I flew back to the States (on my birthday, actually) was right around the time that lockdowns started happening due to covid. Had we not flown back when we did, we may have gotten stuck in Panama! I do hope to go back someday when things in the world aren’t so crazy. Panama is a beautiful place. ☀️
April 2020: I spent some time in the state of Colorado.
There is nothing like the sun shining in Colorado. I am grateful for the time I had here to familiarize myself with ‘quarantine life’ while also still being able to take walks outside (since we weren’t in a super city-ish area). Can’t wait until the next time I can visit.
May 2020: I traveled back to Chicago and felt many, many feelings.
I was going through some stuff in May. I took time to retreat, grieve, go outside as much as possible, and take lots of moody selfies. It was lovely to be back in Chicago and meet up with folks I hadn’t seen in-person for a while, and give myself space to feel.
June 2020: More time outside and more grieving in Chicago.
I stayed in Chicago for the majority of June, and spent more time outside with people I cared about. More importantly, June was the time that the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and countless other POC came to light. While police brutality against the black community is certainly not new, this was a month where many of us (finally) opened our eyes to the reality that we are living in a country in which systemic racism runs deep, right alongside colonialism, capitalism, and white supremacy. 2020 has served as a potent reminder that we have so much work to do, in 2021 and beyond, in moving the needle towards real, lasting equality.
July 2020: I spent the month exploring in Colorado with one of my best friends.
It was so special to spend a month in a nature-filled space with Sarah, who was one of my old college roommates and is one of my very best friends. We spent a lot of time hiking and talking and eating home cooked meals. There were lots of animal sightings, along with doing laundry by hand, and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. There may or may not have also been a few hikes that ended with in me in tears, begging Sarah to help me make it through the hike. Sarah is an expert hiker and I… not so much. She was such a good sport, helping me through the extra steep parts and encouraging me as I screamed for my life intermittently. Bless you, Sarah. 😂
August 2020: I saw family and friends (socially distanced) in Massachusetts.
It was so special to see my nephew and other people who I hadn’t seen since January of that year. There were lots of walks outside, along with talks of how our years have been so far.
September 2020: Back to Chicago.
I spent this month doing more of the same: lots of walks outside and time spent in nature. That’s one of the things I love most about Chicago; you can’t travel too far without running into some sort of park or body of water. You get a nice balance of nature + city life.
October 2020: You guessed it… more time outside in Chicago.
The pictures speak for themselves. So thankful for the time to be in nature, especially before it got more wintry. We had some really warm October days this year!
November 2020: A 2020 attempt at flying home for the holidays.
It was a successful attempt, thankfully. I made it to Massachusetts on November 22nd. There was a slight change of plans since I was supposed to spend Thanksgiving with my family, but was unable to due to covid. I ended up spending Thanksgiving down the Cape instead though, which was lovely, and my family and I had a belated Thanksgiving later on in December. ❤️I will say, trying to get a rapid covid test on short notice around the holidays was not easy (it was an 11-hour affair that started by getting in a line at 4:30am and waiting there for hours in the pouring rain). But alas, I got my test eventually, and it was negative. 🙏🏼
December 2020: Christmas in Massachusetts.
I spent the rest of the year in Massachusetts, so I could avoid flying twice for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The holidays always seem to go by so quickly. I spent Christmas with my family. It felt like a particularly big gift this year, with all that’s been happening in the world. I was also able to go on some walks with friends that I haven’t seen for ages, and was reminded of how glorious it is to be able to go a year without seeing someone and catch up like no time has passed. So thankful for to time to connect amidst these crazy times.
If you’ve make it this far, you are a champ! Okay. Now your turn. 😊 What have you been up to this year? If you’re not sure how exactly to answer such a broad question, here are some things I’m particularly curious about. 😉
What is one thing that you are proud to have accomplished or gotten through this year?
What is one moment that brought you joy this year?
What’s one lesson you’ve learned this year?
What’s one thing you’re looking forward to this coming year?
Shoot me a text or an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re up for it! I would love to hear from you. 🙂
Wishing you so much goodness this coming year. I know it has been a challenging one… if no one else has told you recently (and even if they have), you are doing a great job, and you are so so loved. 🌱 Happy new year to you and your people. 💛✨
Bibs here. 😊 Long time no speak! Happy, Happy New Year to your and your people. 💚 I wanted to send you all a quick note to ask how you’ve been doing, and to share a bit about what I’ve been up to this past year and a half.
It’s crazy… the last time I was consistently writing to you all was in the summer of 2018, and in so many ways I feel like a different person than I was then. It’s hard to believe so much can change in so little time. Here’s a little of what I’ve been up to…
In 2018, I was working remotely for a start-up in Oakland, California and was living in Lexington, Massachusetts.
In June of 2018, I sold most of my stuff, left my apartment, and began living the “digital nomad” life.
I started by living by the beach in Danvers, Massachusetts for a couple of months with two college boys. Living with them reminded me of how different life is in college versus out of college — it was a lot of fun. 😊
In August of 2018, I made my way to Cambridge, Massachusetts to stay with my college roommate and her husband for a couple of months, which felt like the good old days all over again, only somehow even better this time.
In September of 2018, I started staying with my high school friend Miki. It was a dream come true to be roommates for a bit, and to be so lovingly welcomed into her and her family’s home.
In October of 2018, I flew to Iceland and met my remote teammates for the first time. I had an absolute BLAST and thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the amazing people I got to work with every day face-to-face.
I also met a very special human on that trip – we’ll call him Larry – who you’ll notice shows up quite a bit in the rest of the places traveled this past year…
In November of 2018, I spent a few weeks in Ocala, Florida with my friend Jerica and her family, whose love and encouragement and honesty was so healing — I can’t even begin to explain.
Later that month, I took a trip to Chicago, Illinois to visit Larry, which was really wonderful and lovely and amazing and beautiful in every way.
In December of 2018, I spent a few weeks in Germany, where I was able to connect with my dad’s side of the family and soak up beautiful quality time with them and with friends.
At the end of the year, I spent a few days in New Hampshire with Larry, and got to spend Christmas with my mom’s side of the family, which is always a party.
On New Year’s Eve, I got on a plane and began a 24-hour trip to Mysore, India, where I spent the month of January getting my 200-hour vinyasa yoga teacher certification and learning what it means to live in community with beautiful people from all across the globe.
In February of 2019, I flew back to Boston to visit family and friends.
Later that month, I flew to Chicago and moved in with Larry.
In April of 2019, Larry and I flew to Colorado and spent a few days there.
Later that month, I flew out to Oakland, California for a work on-site, which, similar to Iceland, was also a blast and so awesome to be with teammates in real life.
After that, I went back to Boston for a week to visit family and friends before flying back to Chicago.
In May of 2019, Larry and I went back to Colorado for his sister’s graduation, which was a great time.
In June of 2019, I went to Fort Lauderdale for a week to spend time relaxing on the beach and catching up with two beautiful friends, Angela and Pam, who I hadn’t seen for quite awhile.
This isn’t travel-related, but later that month I got laid off and was able to spend the warmest months in Chicago fun-employed, hanging with beautiful people in the city.
I also started teaching yoga this year.
In July of 2019, I went back to Boston for a few days for my nephew’s first birthday party, which was just the best.
In September of 2019, I had a solid week of quality time with friends and family in Boston. A HUGE shoutout and thank you to everyone who made time to get together and who hosted me. I love you all more than I can say!
I got a new remote job at the end of September, and in October of 2019, I went to Boston for a few days before flying out to Miami to meet my new teammates. It was so fun to get to put real faces to the little avatars I talk to every day on Slack.
In November 2019, Larry and I went to Colorado to visit his family for Thanksgiving, and in December, we went to Massachusetts to visit my family for Christmas.
This brings us to January 2020. I’m currently in Chicago, but just for about another month before I pick the nomad life back up again. Details on that to come. 😉
PHEW. So this is where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing! I’ve taken a step back from social media and blogging in an effort to be more present with the people in front of me, but I do hope to keep things a bit more active here this year, and to post when it feels right to. 🙂
There’s a lot more I could share here, about personal evolutions and experiences, and other things that have happened, but I’ll leave that for another time. For now I’ll just say, a lot has changed, but one thing has stayed the same…
Anyway, ENOUGH ABOUT ME. How have you been? I’d sincerely love to hear from you. What was one of your favorite things about this past year? What is one thing you’re looking forward to in 2020?
Comment below, DM me at @bibs.live, or email me at email@example.com. Can’t wait to hear from you!
P.S. Remember that e-book on holistic healing I said I was going to have out over a year ago? Well 2020 is the year… I’m actually going to publish it. (Honest.) Stay tuned!
A couple of years ago I wrote a post with 10 conversation starters for anyone who “hated” small talk. After another couple of years of listening to podcasts, reading books, and watching content (mostly centered around question asking), I’ve come across 10 more questions I’d like to share.
This is for all of you who love to dive into the deep, the intense, the joyful, and sometimes the messy when it comes to conversing with people you care about. The next time you’re hanging with close friends, out to dinner with family, or want to throw a new acquaintance for a loop, try throwing one of these questions into a conversation and seeing where it leads. 🙂
10 (Really Deep) Conversation Starters for Anyone who Hates Small Talk // 2019 Edition
1. What’s one thing you know for sure?
2. What is one thing you are afraid people will find out about you? (Something you avoid telling people, at least at first)
3. What’s the most difficult decision you’ve had to make (to fulfill your destiny)?
4. How would you describe your childhood?
5. What keeps you up at night?
6. When is the last time you cried?
7. What is one thing you like doing that makes you feel the most free, alive, or full of joy?
8. How do you like to play? What are your hobbies?
9. What is your dream job? Or what is one thing you want to accomplish before you die? How are you pursuing that?
10. What makes you angry? What makes you cry?
Once again, thank you to the original question-askers who inspired this blog post (Oprah, Rob Bell, Liz Gilbert, Laura McKowan, Meadow DeVor, Lewis Howes, and others I am sure I am forgetting right now!).
I started working remotely full time about 4 months ago, and I’ve only recently found enough time has passed that I’ve been able to find my groove and really find a new normal that feels good and sustainable to me.
Remote jobs seem to be all the rage lately, especially amongst us millennials. Remote work was “the dream” for me for a long time – and still is! It’s such an amazing way to be able to earn your living and I feel so lucky to be able to have the incredible remote job that I do. I can honestly say I love it.
With that said, there are a LOT of things I wish I knew before starting to work remotely. As awesome as it is, it does not come without its challenges or without calling for some major life adjustments. I’ve been keeping tabs on the changes I’ve made in my life and lessons I’ve learned as I’ve adjusted to the “digital nomad” life, and I’m sharing my top 10 with you today.
If you recently started working remotely, or if you’re considering going remote, (or even if you just want to reassess how you’re feeling about your onsite job), I hope you’ll find these helpful in some way.
1. Working remotely will not solve your problems. It will give you different problems.
I don’t say this to be a downer. I say this to be real with you. As much as working remotely may alleviate some of the stresses you experience working in an office, working remotely will come with its own shit sandwich, just like everything else does. As Liz Gilbert talks about in Big Magic, you just have to ask yourself which “shit sandwich” you like eating more – in this case, do you like the “shit” that comes with working in an office or the shit that comes from working remotely better?
2. Your social life matters, now more than ever. (I’m lookin’ at you, Introverts).
For a long time, I wanted to work remotely because the thought of not having to be around people all day in an office didn’t scare me like it did my extrovert friends… it actually kind of intrigued me. (No offense to my past coworkers. So much love to you all). But one thing I discovered REALLY quickly is I start to go a wee bit nuts when I’m alone for too long. I think most people do.We are meant to have consistent, meaningful human interaction, and even though it’s possible to have 2-sided conversations with yourself and your alter ego…… trust me. It’s no replacement for the real thing.
I’ve been surprised to discover that as someone who used to need at least a few days to myself each week when working in an office to “recharge,” I now can only handle one, maybe two, nights a week where I don’t have plans before I begin to feel a sense of isolation and general stir crazy-ness that borders on unhealthy. So fill up your calendars, people! And find what kind of social life feels healthiest for you. Friends are a beautiful thing. (And if you don’t have any friends, or enough friends, great news! It is actually possible to make new ones! Meetup.com, exercise studios, and spiritual homes can be a great place to meet people).
3.Eat lunch when you’re hungry. Go to the bathroom when you have to. Shower every day. In other words: take care of your damn self.
Don’t forget that while you are online for work, your boss understands that you are a human being, who needs sustenance to be able to work well, and who has permission to relieve him or herself when nature calls. When I first started my job I may or may not have gone a day (or three) too long without a shower, and waited to go to the bathroom until I was about to burst. SMH.
Basic self care, man… It’s a good thing.
4. Having a remote job does not mean you get to chillax all day every day. Working remotely is a hustle.
Of course it depends on the company you work for, but at least working remotely for a startup is a hustle. This is something I knew going into my job – it’s one of the reasons I applied for my job actually. I love the hustle. But it’s something to keep in mind. If you’re looking for a relaxing job, you will not necessarily be better off remote.
Another challenge is getting friends and family to understand this concept. Be prepared for people to think that work for you looks like lounging around in your pajamas on your computer all day. And be prepared to tell them that even though working does usually involve comfortable clothes in some capacity, there is seldom much lounging involved.
Btw get dressed in normal clothes sometimes. It can even be comfy clothes, but don’t work in the same clothes that you sleep in… there should be some level of differentiation between work and sleep. It’s just good practice.
5. Make it a point to meet with the people on your team regularly for remote coffee or remote lunch.
Recreate the water cooler chatter, the happy hour conversations, and the random office interactions by asking to hop on quick 15 or 30-minute calls with people on your team. Getting to know your team on any kind of deep or personal level will not necessarily happen just through weekly team meetings, but it’s so important for feeling that sense of connectedness and camaraderie that makes work so enjoyable.
6. If you’re not sure how you’re performing, ASK.
Don’t stress yourself out by assuming you’re not meeting your boss’ expectations and getting on yourself to hustle harder (especially when you’re already hustling as hard as you can without burning out). And on the flip side, don’t assume you’re doing amazing if you haven’t been told so. Feedback is your friend. Ask for it when you need it.
Also, know who you are and how you work. If you tend to be the type to overwork yourself and convince yourself you’re not doing enough, RELAX. Take a chill pill and remind yourself you’re in this for long-term success, not short-term burnout. And vice versa, if you have a tendency to just kind of coast and do the minimum amount of work you’re told to do, put markers in place to give you the accountability you need to get moving and to really reach your full potential.
7. Spend your non-working hours somewhere other than on a computer.
If your method for relaxing after work is screen-related (Netflix, gaming, scrolling through FB) then — how should I say this —
Find a new way to relax.
Pick up a book, get into podcasts, join a gym or community that gets you out of the house, phone a friend. Your eyes can only handle so much computer time before going cross-eyed. (I realize this is ironic, as someone who is blogging for fun as we speak, but still, find hobbies that are primarily non-computer-related).
Btw for the times you are on the computer and have to be, get yourself a pair of blue light blocking glasses. Zenni Optical and Swanwick have some great ones. Another thing I’ve noticed helps a lot is keeping my computer at or slightly above eye level, that way you’re not craning your neck and eyes downward all day.
8. Make time to play & exercise. Preferably at the same time.
If you follow me on IG you know that, after a brief 11-year hiatus, I started doing gymnastics again.If there’s some physical activity you used to love doing as a kid (dancing, running, some other sport), look for groups (of adults) in the area that are doing that thing and join them! It’s so easy to get into a “no-nonsense, all business” mindset when you’re online for work; not to mention all the other aspects of life that call for seriousness. You deserve to have fun, too. Carving out a little time each week or even each month where you don’t have to worry about the day-to-day responsibilities and can channel your inner “kid” is so liberating.
9. Check in with yourself (and adjust) often.
I’d say this is a good life practice in general, but this is especially important if you’re working remotely. It’s crazy how easy it is to get stuck in unhealthy habits if you’re not consciously trying to change them. As Liz Gilbert says, if you’re not actively creating, chances are you’re actively destroying. For me, I was surprised at how easy it was to get sucked into the vortex of the interwebs. If I don’t set clear boundaries for myself around when I’m on my computer, both for fun and for work, I can easily spend 10 out of 12 waking hours online in some capacity.
Wake up: check my phone. 9am hits: sign into slack & other work apps. 5pm hits: turn on Netflix.
Do not let this be your life, because it gets real old real quick. Boundaries are a good thing here.
Beyond that, ask yourself regularly how you’re doing. Do you like your life? Are you happy? Do you like where you’re headed? Do you like who you’re becoming? If the answer is no to any of these questions, ask yourself why, and try to tinker with how you’re living your life to improve things. You deserve to live a life you love. But it won’t happen without you taking the time to check in with yourself and adjust accordingly.
10. CELEBRATE. And take advantage of the perks of remote life.
Working remotely is freaking awesome. And it’s a significant accomplishment! As much as remote work is becoming more and more popular these days, remote jobs are still not super easy to come by, and it’s a big deal that you’ve landed one and/or have crafted your business to be able to do it! Honor that accomplishment.
And also don’t waste that accomplishment. Take advantage of the flexibility. Take the time to travel when you can, even if it’s just staying over at a family member’s place a few towns over. Work in the cafe down the street, instead of staying cooped up in your home. Work outside if the weather’s nice! Do the things that you said you’d do “if only you could work remotely” before you actually got your remote job. You deserve it, and you won’t regret it.
If you work remotely: did any of this resonate with you? And if you work in an office: did this make you want to work remotely? Or make you never want to work remotely? 🙂 Let me know what you thought!