Tag Archives: tips

Summer is upon us and if you’re fortunate enough to have saved up some vacation days or have the coveted Summer Fridays that are all the rage (and reducing power usage) you may already be enjoying summer to the fullest. But for the rest of us, it can be hard to watch the sunshine from our cubicles while looking at a light-up screen of spreadsheets. So how do you get a little extra summer in your step? Read on for 4 tips.

  1. Get out there! So, you can’t leave your office at 1pm on a Friday for the day, but you can squeeze in an extra few minutes. Consider walking to or from work, and with those extra bright hours it’ll still be nice outside! And, less hot. If your commute isn’t favorable for a walk, try stepping out for lunch, or afternoon coffee. It’ll certainly be steamier, but stick to the shady streets and you’ll get to soak up some extra vitamin D.
  2. Taste summer! Add some lemon and strawberries to your water to get a sip of sunshine. Go with cold summer salads, filled with fresh vegetables. Think about joining a CSA or shopping at the farmers market to get the most delicious tasty treats. Stock your fridge with popsicles and fresh fruits. Switch to iced coffee or tea for your morning drink. Fire up the grill and host a massive barbeque. If you don’t have space for that, bring a smaller one to the park or sweet talk a friend into letting you help with set up (and clean up).
  3. Plan the fun! You may not have Friday afternoons, but you certainly have longer days after work and entire weekends to fill with fun summer activities. Try organizing drinks with friends at bars with outdoor seating. When you’re getting ready for the weekend, plan events that allow for the most summer sun. Either plan an all day beach trip, a picnic in the park or a quick kayaking trip. No matter how you do it, give yourself a plan in place to get out there and get sun! Just don’t forget the sunscreen and water!
  4. Change location! So, in the morning you like to drink your coffee and read the paper? Try doing that on your stoop, front porch or nearby park bench. Rather than reading a book indoors, take over a bench and half-read, half-people watch. The streets are full of people enjoying summer and can it be really fun to see people out and about. Also, you may get to pet some puppies! Do you enjoy watching television with your honey? Try grabbing a blanket and watch some stars shoot by.

I hope this helps you get excited for summer, and get a couple extra sunshine hours in your life. Summer may have long days, but it certainly can feel short so it’s great to squeeze a little extra out!

Last week, we talked about getting some hobbying into your life. Now, let’s talk about the benefits of creating a side hustle, not just a hobby. A colleague of mine started ceramics earlier this year, and, as she’s continued, people have been asking to purchase her pieces. Hobby turned hustle!

There are many benefits to starting a side hustle, and, there are many side hustles you can take on! Read on dear friends for some side hustlin’ benefits and ideas for you start the hustle.

  1. Outlet – similar to the “rest” of the hobby, a side hustle allows you to expand something that you have interest in. It delivers a specific time and space for you to focus on something that you’d like to do more of, whether it be creative or financially focused.
  2. Diversification – by creating the side hustle, you’re building marketable, hireable skills that could either support your current 9-5 gig, or offer you a way into a new type of gig.
  3. Freedom – Working in your off hours lets you be your own boss, dictate your own hours, or think about that new company you want to build. Or, if you’re looking to change jobs, it allows you to test something out in your free time without the commitment of a full-time job. That way, if you love it, you know you want more of it, and if you don’t love it, you can trying something different!
  4. Network – by learning new skills and meeting with new people you’re creating even more connections outside of your current work circle. These are the same people that could either help you get an idea off the ground, or, maybe a new job, who knows! Who doesn’t like making new connections?
  5. Money – by getting some money in on the side, it’s more than you’d be making before the gig. With the revenue that comes in you can choose to reinvest into your side hustle, or treat it as a surprise windfall. Even babysitting gives you a little extra cash that can help pay off debt, credit cards or build up your emergency savings account.

For some fun ideas of side hustles you could be doing right now, check out The Art of Manliness by Brett & Kate McKay where they cover some ideas after their guest contributor Tyler Tervooren wrote about the side hustle.

Now for the second part in our two-part series learning about how Alexa, our double-careerist makes space for work, life and passion. If you want to catch up, read Part 1 here.

How do you feel about your work/life/passion? How do you feel like it will evolve?
I have the best job in the world.  I get paid to backpack 20 miles a day off trail at 10,000ft and catch frogs.  But my work is seasonal, temporary, and without benefits.  Looking forward to a life with more permanence and stability, I am addressing the differences between wants and needs to guide career decisions.  I need a home, a community, daily exercise in the mountains, and time with my amazing husband.  I want (but may need) to think critically and problem solve, to make things with my hands, and to live in a place I love.  I don’t want to feel like I can’t afford avocados, or fresh berries, or a teeth cleaning, or a new exhaust system…

What are some things that sorta hold you back?
I make a lot of excuses to NOT pursue the things I love.  I have a hard time taking risks.

What do you do in your free time to get more passion in your life?
I bake my own bread and crackers and make my own yogurt when I have time.  I run and ski and climb but rarely take ownership of risk in the latter two.  I do yoga on my own but usually call it “active stretching” because I don’t want to buy in too much.  Not much in this world is better than sleeping in with the person you love, enjoying a breakfast of bagels and lox and stove-top espresso, going out for an afternoon hike, ski tour, run, or climb, and finishing off the day with tasty homemade dinner.  Oh, and reading is WAY better than watching Netflix but sometimes TV happens….

When you were little, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?
As a kid, I honestly didn’t know what I would be when I grew up. I thought I would figure it out as I went along.  And, now that I am partially grown up, I still don’t know what I will be when I am fully grown up, or if I will EVER fully grow up for that matter.

I will say that as a child,
1) the bottoms of my feet were usually black and tough from running around barefoot outside;
2) I had a sketchbook and enjoyed arts and crafts time;
3) I would conduct week long experiments in the bathtub to create the perfect bath product concoction, and when my mom would invariably knock one of my incubations over while shaving her legs, the experiment would have to start over from scratch and I would not be pleased; and
4) I put myself down for naptime regularly.

So, not much has changed, except that I am worse about the sketchbook and better about the experiments.

Now that you’re grown up, what will you be?
An ecologist-baker-printmaker-mom-homesteader, of course.

How can we find you if we want to learn more?
Rikki Goldenberg has used smoke signals in the past with pretty good results.

Anything else you want to share?
Um, when a page won’t load on Chrome, ever wonder why there is a dinosaur at the top of the message?  Try pressing the spacebar once, and then press it again, and watch that dinosaur…

So there you have it folks! But, one of the last bits of advice Alexa shared may have been my favorite:
It was actually good for me to write these sorts of thoughts down.  I’ve been going back and forth about returning to school for ecology since September, and I just need to do it.  It is time to commit, because committing to something is better than waiting to commit to the “right” thing.  There is no “right” thing at the end of the day.  I do not believe in soul-mates, and I do not believe in a soul-career.  In both cases of mate and career, the chemistry needs to be there, but so does the effort to make things work.  Its about making the choice right, not so much about making the right choice.  Masters (or PhD…..) in ecology, here I come.

Here’s to committing to try new – scary- things! Thanks Alexa!!

If you’re interested in telling me about your own work/life/passion balance creation, shoot me a note at workhappi AT gmail.

There are many tips out there for what successful people or happy people do each day to make their lives even better. Well, this is no different! So, with those habit-making and breaking ideas from back in January, here are some good habits to start prioritizing. So much list-making.

  1. Focus (on friends). When you’re in a conversation with a friend, try giving them your full attention. There’s nothing worse than talking to someone on the phone or during a dinner to realize that they’ve been checking their email or zoning out mid-conversation. One tip? Turn your phone to silent mode or simply put it away. If you’re having a call with a friend, go take a walk around the block or sit somewhere there you won’t be distracted by the television or computer. Sometime I take notes on the call I’m having to ensure I’m fully engaged in the conversation – even if it’s just with a friend.
  2. Focus (on work). While in a meeting or writing an email, try only doing that one item. Rather than shooting off emails while leading a conversation, stay completely present in the conversation. You’ll be shocked how much more is retained – and how much faster the meeting goes!
  3. Think Positive. It’s hard to be optimistic and positive most days, but let difficult days be difficult, while trying to find the silver lining. It isn’t easy, but by trying to find the upswing, you’ll devote more of your energy towards the good. When you’re feeling the need to whine about work, think about what you can control – either the way your react, or even the way you respond.
  4. Be Honorable. Don’t talk about coworkers or friends behind their back. If someone has upset you or made you angry in the workplace or outside of it, take the high road and confront them. It’s easier to bitch and moan about someone’s actions, but in order to really move forward, you need to talk to that person about what they did, why it upset you, and find a solution together. By going to the root of the problem – rather than a supervisor or mutual friend, you’re allowing the problem to be squashed out instead of escalated.
  5. Practice Patience. Nothing happens immediately – whether you’re learning a new software at work or attending your first trampoline workout class – there’s always a learning curve. Get cool with the journey, and realize learning means growing and being even more awesome.
  6. Fail. Failure is terrifying, exhilarating, incredible thing. Let yourself fail once or twice, take responsibility for your actions, and learn from it. Realize that waiting until you’re 100% ready for something means you’ll never do it. So? Take a risk. The worst that could happen is you’ll fail and have to reroute the course. And that can be a really fun thing.
  7. Take Care. Take care of yourself by eating well, working out, sleeping, connecting with friends and maybe meditating. Start focusing on adding in healthy components into your lifestyle and you’ll be amazed at how it can feel! Mind you, you’ll have to practice some of #5 to keep it going though!


Back when I wrote the post about work/life/passion balance, I started thinking it would be super cool to hear from people who are focusing on finding some balance between those three areas. I reached out to a few friends, and am looking forward to sharing some of their thoughts/responses with all of you!

Here’s the first part of a two-part session with Alexa, a biological science technician April-October, working for a bureau within the Department of the Interior, and December – March as a ski instructor in Washington state.

What kind of work do you do?
At the Department of the Interior, the research projects I work on vary in scale, scope, and subject – from grasses to amphibians, from killing invasive species to saving endangered ones, from desert riparian corridors to alpine meadows and lakes. As a ski instructor,  my main bread and butter is ripping around the mountain with 4-6 year olds.  Sometimes trying, but generally adorable.

What are some things that make work “work” for you?
Structure. A job gives me purpose and structure, which in turn helps me manage my free time better.  My dad says, “If you want something done, give it to a busy Alexa.”  Catch-22, but I waste my time when I have limitless amounts of it. I work well with structure but without being micromanaged.  My ideal work environment provides a loose framework within which I can work creatively and with autonomy.

Meaning. I need to work, and my work needs meaning. I am not put together to have my work simply fund my free time.  Work does not need to be awe-inspiring or profound, but it must have a purpose I can get behind.

Repetition. All jobs have repetitive elements.  I do best when my job requires some creativity, problem-solving, or new human interaction on a regular basis.  If not, I better be working outside in a beautiful place.

Outside time. Getting paid to play outside is great.  I currently get paid to backpack and ski, and I have been paid to hike, canoe, climb, and play in the mud in the past.  But no one pays you that much to play outside.  Its a trade-off.

Check in next week to learn more about what Alexa does in her free time, how she’s planning for the future and how I normally try to reach her.

Whoa! Today is June 30th, marking the mid-way point of this year (according to the fiscal calendar, of course!) When we started out this year I wrote a post about reflecting, and how January is an easy moment in time to say, oh hey, what did I do this year, and what do I want for next year?

Well, guess what, we’re half-way through so let’s get right back to what we were thinking about in January. Here’s a quick exercise to take on today while preparing mentally for July 4th red white and blue holiday-ing.

Step 1: Make a cup of tea, grab some snacks or some ice-cold lemon/cucumber water. FYI – lemon cucumber water is amazing.
Step 2: Maybe turn off your phone. If you keep notes and plans in your phone, toss it on airplane mode or do not disturb, we’re getting some me-time today.
Step 3: Grab a pen and paper and take a seat somewhere comfortable.
Step 4: Write down the following questions:

  1. What was I hoping to accomplish this year.  Where am I in that process?
  2. What has brought me joy this year so far?
  3. What would I have liked to change these past six months?
  4. What qualities, skills or goals would I like to work on for the next six months
  5. What is the best version of me would I like to create this year?
  6. Other questions you’d like to ponder on

Step 5: 10 minutes of meditation, get in your zone
Step 6: Set a 15 minute timer.
Step 7: Write, write, write, then write some more
After those 15 minutes are up, stop writing – pencils down class. You don’t have to reread your writing, or even think on it right now, what’s great is that you got it all down there on the page. If you’re feeling like this exercise was incredible, try doing it again next week, or next month. Any way you slice it, it’s a nice way to get some reflecting down – in less than 30 minutes! Unless you take forever to make tea.

The job hunt is a tiring, confusing process. When we have clear direction for our next step, it can be easier to draft a plan with tactics. But what about when you’re not sure what you want from your next position? Here are some ways you can start mapping and planning your next position, even if you’re not quite sure what you want that position to be.

  1. The Good Stuff. Start tracking the things you enjoy about your work currently. It can be the skills you’ve acquired, the people you work with, the company’s investment in their employees or the way it makes you feel. Look for trends in the positives, and note that you want more of them.
  2. Talk. Meet with people who are the same as you and different. If you think you’d like your role more somewhere else, chat with someone who does what you do, somewhere else. If you think you’d like to try out a different type of role, chat with those people too. Not only are these conversations helpful, but you can ask many questions in an informal setting and find out more honest, off-the-cuff feedback. You just may discover that you’re experiencing the grass is greener. Or, you may find a role you want next, or a company you’re interested in. Better yet, you just met people who can give you great advice – or access to their head recruiter. Expert tip? Go for coffee before work. It doesn’t take up too much of anyone’s time, lets everyone keep their evenings free and gives everyone the coffee fix they wanted anyway.
  3. Track Success. Once you start interviewing, you’ll get lots of questions about how you’ve handled situations in the past. Even if you’re looking for a slightly different role, by keeping track of things that have gone well, or that you’ve learned from, you’ll have great fodder for those conversations. Or for your next review!
  4. Build Skills. If you need more of something to take on another role, go ahead and do it. Between coursera, udemy and local workshops you can build up your expertise in many areas. Consider it a small investment for your future career.
  5. Evaluate. Think about what values are important to you in your next career. It can be that you want to work somewhere smaller, larger or that you want to make sure people move around a bit.
  6. Go Inside. As you’re looking at all the details you have in front of you, think about if you could fulfill these needs in your current company or role. Do you have the support of your manager to extend your skills further? If so, think about levering your current company’s offerings to expand your career.
  7. Remember. Remember that your career if fluid, as are your needs. It’s possible what you need today could be different than what you want tomorrow. In the same way that your needs may change, remember that it’s okay if things are quite aligned at this moment. The only constant is change, right?

Go craft!


After writing about work-life-passion balance, I wanted to do a slightly deeper dive into passion overall. I’m a firm believer in finding passion during the workday or on the weekends – either works, as long as you’re feeling good about each day. BUT, there are certainly some benefits to finding more passion during your workday.

The numbers are in, and very few people are passionate right now about work. It’s less about employee engagement, and more about truly caring about what you do. It’s a problem at the junior and senior level, in small and large companies – startup or corporate. So, anywhere you look, there can be a lack of passion.

So… we get it, we know it’s a big deal, but how do we increase passion? How do you use your company and role as an avenue to succeed in what’s important to you as an individual? Here are some tips!

  1. Collaborate – by working with other people on other teams, not only do you get to harness some serious coworking skills, but you also get to learn about the other areas of your company. Can’t do that with your current position? Consider joining or creating a culture club, book club, or even a bi-monthly dinner club. These can be low impact ways to meet and learn from other people you work with.
  2. Network – attend some industry-related events. They could be readouts on the newest features, meetups, or a cocktail hour nearby. If your industry has bigger conferences, try working with your company to foot the bill. This can help bring new blood to your company, or it can introduce you to some thought leaders who can inspire your journey.
  3. Outside the Box – get a side gig. Not only will it help you bring some ideas to the workplace, but, you’ll get to meet people who do different things than you, and it might spur more passion. Or, ideas about what you’d like to do at a new company, or your company. For example, if you’re working in marketing but have been thinking development could be cool, try taking a class or attending a workshop. Not only will you gain lots of skills, but you’ll also get to test something out before committing to it full time.
  4. Remove Blockers – a lot of dispassionate feelings come from feeling road blocks in your daily role. Rather than spending your time complaining about them, talk to your coworkers and manager about how you could remove those blockers. By working cross-functionally you can learn so much, but also, get rid of some red tape that’s been driving you crazy. If what you hear is “we’ve always done it this way,” consider it a challenge to show them just how much better the company could be with some positive changes!

Granted, all these ideas for increasing passion at work may not be right for you if you’re not loving your job or role, but they certainly can be helpful to reengage in the work you normally like to do!


In honor of #tbt, and in honor of my 4am arrival back home, today I’m sharing a link to one of my old posts that I love,  because it’s also what I’m lacking today! Sleep!

%d bloggers like this: