Cubicle Chic - A Career Woman's Pursuit of Style and Success
My name is Jessica, and I’m the writer and master content strategist behind this lifestyle blog. I am a career woman, a science nerd, mom of 2 cats, a sporadically avid reader, and a habitual writer. This blog is for the 30 something women in corporate America who like to read about personal development, career growth & evolving aspirations!
Since finding out about our pregnancy in February, we’ve been contemplating about when and where to take our babymoon vacation. On the first day of July, we found out that the husband’s work schedule is going to have some changes in the upcoming months. This means the 4th of July weekend was looking like the prime time to take our babymoon vacation. After some intense research, we decided to take our babymoon in the Cayman Islands. So, within 2 days, we booked the plane tickets and hotel stay, and made it happen!
Why We Chose The Cayman Islands for our Babymoon
My idea of a perfectly relaxing vacation, which is everything a babymoon should be, involves 1) nothing on the agenda 2) clear & blue water & white sands 3) short enough flights (pregnancy-related swelling is not fun). Pretty simple, right?? I thought it was. But ZIKA has to be wreaking havoc almost everywhere in and around the Americas that offer the kind of beach destinations we are interested in. So, I found this website that lists out 10 Zika-free beach destinations to visit in 2018 and went from there. We narrowed things down to Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and ultimately picked the Cayman Islands because it’s a shorter flight from San Diego. Here’s why we picked the Cayman Islands for the babymoon, in summary:
Short enough flights from San Diego, CA. We flew to Houston for 2.5 hours, and then from there flew to Grand Cayman for another 2.5 hours.
The Cayman Islands has been declared Zika-free & safe to travel to by the CDC in 2017.
In the summer, the beach water in the Cayman Islands is consistently in the 80’s.
The Grand Cayman is a relatively small place. From the airport to the Kimpton Seafire resort was a 15 minutes Taxi ride (that cost $32 USD), and most of the restaurants/other major hotels are located off of the Seven Mile Beach which in reality is about 6.5 miles. It doesn’t take much time to see things in and around the resort.
Why We Chose the Kimpton Seafire Resort
I’ll be quite honest, it was through the blogs where I came across the Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa. Especially the VeganMos and Bonv0yage Bitches. We were looking for a hotel that 1) has the right aesthetics 2) is relatively new or recently renovated 3) has their own private beach. Ritz Carlton, which many travelers tend to compare the Seafire Resort to, was simply too expensive. So we picked the Kimpton Seafire knowing that 1) it was built and opened in 2016, 2) it’s located at the northern most end of the Seven Mile Beach and away from the hustle-bustle of the cruise tourists, and 3) it’s super photogenic. Just look at their Instagram account.
How Kimpton Seafire Resort Truly Wowed Us
With nothing on our agenda for this babymoon except relaxing and enjoying ourselves, Kimpton Seafire turned out to fit the bill more than 100%. We were given a room on the 10th floor, and apparently, the Seafire Resort building is the tallest building in all of Grand Cayman, so we had the view of the entire stretch of the Seven Mile Beach. The resort staff and the service they provided was impeccable. For example, when we arrived in the Taxi, bellman Paul greeted us with our first names as we stepped out. We were truly impressed that they customized their service to this level. Another example was regarding asking for extra water for our room. I phoned them ahead of time to let them know I am 22 weeks pregnant and with the heat in the Caribbeans, need to hydrate very often. When we checked in to our room, there were 8 bottles of water already in the room. Two days into our stay, we called and asked for more water, and this time what showed up was a whole case of it – 24 bottles, LOL. Needless to say, we didn’t need to ask for more water for the remainder of the trip.
Activities During Our Kimpton Seafire Resort Stay
With nothing on our agenda, here’s how we enjoyed the 4 days and 3 nights stay at Kimpton Seafire Resort, on our babymoon in the Cayman Islands: we took advantage of every corner of this beautiful resort!
1st (half) day // Took a breather and checked out the facilities and the beach. We arrived at around 4:30 PM that day, and Seafire Resort’s main restaurant, Ave, doesn’t open until 6 PM. So, we kept busy by touring the resort and the beach, and came back to Ave and enjoyed a meal of Mediterranean style seafood goodness.
2nd day // This day was dedicated to beach activities. We slept in, got to breakfast (in Ave as well but this time it was their breakfast buffet) at around 10:30 AM, and got all the food we wanted by 11 because that was when they stopped serving food. We made the mistake of starting the day a bit late because by the time we got to the beach it was somewhat crowded (still much better than other hotel’s beach) and super hot already. Nevertheless, we frolicked by the beach, swam, snorkeled, and chilled by the beachside on lounge chairs and hammocks.
3rd day: Spa & lounge day // I had the opportunity to enjoy a prenatal massage at the Seafire Resort on the morning of the third day. So we woke up around 9 AM, got ready for the spa (meaning I didn’t have to do anything to get ready) and showed up at the spa at 9:45 AM. I am a regular resort spa partaker but I haven’t done prenatal massages before. So to my surprise, the message bed they had for me had a little cushion on it, molded in the shape of a belly and 2 breasts. I could lay on the massage bed face down and not have to worry about squeezing the little one! How considerate it that!
For lunch, we ate at Coccoloba, their beachside restaurant. It was great food and the variety that we get a lot in San Diego. It was refreshingly delicious!
4th (half) day: Chilled by the pool/beach & pack up // Time always flies by when you are having a great time. We couldn’t really believe it was already the 4th day. We woke up super early at around 7 AM to get down to the beach by 8:15 AM. As expected, there weren’t as many people. We chilled by the pool again and took in the gorgeous view of the Caribbean ocean one last time. And then we packed up and got ready to get back to San Diego, feeling completely refueled and recharged!
If you are a professional women working in a corporate office with a 9-5 life, and back to back meetings, 5-minute-lunches and PowerPoint slides are your best friends, and you sometimes just feel like your feet are the biggest source of your daily pain (other than those difficult customers/coworkers/managers) this article is written for you.
We are on our feet a lot. Like, A LOT.
There’s always more to accomplish than there is time to accomplish things. I get it. I lived that life. But if you forget to take care of yourself once in a while and keep your health and sanity in check, you won’t last long. Working in the corporate world is a marathon, not a sprint. (Although at times it may feel like a series of sprints.) On Cubicle Chic today, we’ll talk about a simple and quick way to find relaxation and reduce stress at work. Here it is…
Take care of your feet!!
Our feet support our entire body weight as we move from meeting rooms back to our desk and back to meeting rooms. What do we typically reward them with, as stylish women in the corporate world? The cruelty of high heels and pointed pumps! With that… let’s talk about the first tip on taking care of your feet.
1. Wear comfortable shoes without compromising on style
The reality is that we wear those torturous shoes for the looks to begin with. So, if the resolution requires us to sacrifice the looks, it’s not much of a resolution, is it? Allow me to introduce me to Miss Madelhere… they make perfectly stylish shoes for the corporate workplace, and yet their shoes come with zero compromises in the style department. You can use the code JESSICA10 to get 10% off on your purchase in the next two weeks! What I’m wearing in the photos is the Donna in nude, and I LOVE the color for the spring and summer season. If you wear a lot of black and white, these beauties will add a refreshing pop of color to your outfit.
There are a few other styles offered by Miss Madel that are really pretty –
2. Utilize acupressure points to relieve feet pain.
If you, especially your feet, have had a long day, try massaging these pressure points that will help alleviate some discomfort. Every point is meant for different kinds of pain/pressure relieve, according to Smarter Healing. Click on their link above to see what each acupressure point is meant to do & how to massage them.
3. Wear well-ventilated shoes (or create a safe space to take them off at work.
This applies to those of us whose sweat glands are unfortunately wired in the downward direction. I’ll be the first to admit I suffer from sweaty feet syndrome (yes, that’s a term, coined by me). The mule design of the Miss Madel Donna shoes is obviously a very ventilating design. But other ways to find well-ventilated shoes include finding the right material. For example, I’ve heard that Rothy’s makes very well-ventilated flats. I haven’t tried the brand myself, but I would share with you guys once I have!
4. Manage your salt intake
It’s a well-known fact that consuming too much salt will cause more swelling. As we age, the swelling may occur more in the feet area or simply shows more prominently. If you want to understand the medical mechanism of how this happens, you can look into what is edema. But this tip is simple. Avoid that salty food, drink lots of water, and you will be OK!
5. Exercise your feet/leg regularly at work
This is my personal favorite. Whether you’re stuck on a 3-hour spreadsheet spree or a dead-end teleconference that’s not going anywhere, these exercises are perfect for these occasions. On Live Strong, you can find a list of discreet workouts you can do at your desk. Glute clenches, stomach vaccum, or knee lifts… take your pick, and exercise (discretely) away! If you have the luxury of time and space, you can even do some lunges, calf raises, or mountain climbers. All of these exercises are meant to increase circulation to your legs and keep pain and swelling away from you!
Disclaimer: Thank you Miss Madel for sponsoring this blog post. I really enjoyed the Donna shoes and would be wearing it on the regular!
No one knows better than Michael Scott about the importance of friendships! Friends joke with one another, right? (Maybe not so much about each other’s financial situation and mother’s health…) What we do know is that humor is the penicillin for all bad situations.
It’s especially important for the workplace. Between delivering results, meeting goals, getting along with unpleasant coworkers (or even worse, bosses), we don’t often leave a whole lot of mental energy to check on our sanity. Having the right kind of friends is the quickest way to maintain sanity in the work life. In today’s post, we will talk about the 4 types of friends that help you stay happy and sane at work.
4 types of friends that help you stay happy and sane at work.
The fellow victim
Whatever hardship, whoever the villain, when you spend 8 hours a day, 5 days a week at any place, there will be times and people that make you wish you weren’t there. Whether be it a last-minute project lands on your place because no one wanted to touch it, a grumpy co-worker that has no boundary and holds your ears hostage for conversations you do not wish to have, or a sadistic boss that has no respect for your time…these are times when it makes things so much better if someone else is suffering with you. It’s not as much that the other person is also suffering, but that you aren’t alone in dealing with this misfortune.
You see, trying to explain what’s going on at work to someone else, such as a significant other, a family member, or a close friend, is like trying to sing a song through humming – it takes someone familiar with the issues to get it 100%. If you have a fellow coworker is going through the same exact issues as you are, a comradery automatically forms, and you have an instant alliance. That alone sometimes is the key to reducing perceived pain and difficulty caused by a particular work situation.
The sarcastic bitch
Along the same line as having a fellow victim, you need a sarcastic friend who isn’t afraid of being a bitch sometimes (towards your common enemy, not you). I should caveat this by saying that this has to be a sarcastic bitch who has a lot of empathy. This whole dynamic works based on her/his understanding of your situation and willingness (or natural tendency) to bitch at what/who is causing you pain at work. Simply put, this person is an active practitioner of empathy. We all know how venting works and it’s most effective when someone else is not only agreeing but chiming in. It’s also proven in studies that empathy in the workplace makes us happier and more productive.
The strategic mentor
If having the first two kinds of friends is how you deal with adverse situations passively, the strategic mentor is how you deal with the situations proactively. Once you’ve vented and moved on from the heat of the moment, it’s time to think about how to prevent the situation from occurring again, or how to deal with it better next time. Sure, more likely than not, what is within your power to improve the situation may be minimal, but this is where a strategic mentor comes in. A strategic mentor is, hopefully, someone a bit more seasoned than you are in the workforce, knows you well, has your benefit at heart, and isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. You need this person to analyze the situation for you with as little bias as possible. The best outcome in talking to a strategic mentor about an adverse situation at work is that you come out of it 1) feeling less bitter because you know you’re not at fault, or 2) feeling secure and comfortable in knowing how to prevent the situation again or how you need to improve in order to avoid such an event from happening again.
There are a few things in life that put you in instant nirvana. Puppies, kittens, and good food are three of such things. Studies have shown that looking at puppies and kitten actually lowers blood pressure. If you’re a cat lover and you happen to have a coworker who is also a cat lover, the cat talk is so therapeutic on an otherwise busy and stressful workday. The occasional cute puppy/kitten GIFs that come through your email may have the same effects. Similarly, the ambiance of the entire office space can be lifted by a box of baked goods, a plate of lunch to be shared by the group or a bag of freshly harvested lemons from someone’s backyard. Don’t underestimate such little joys in life and the people that make them happen – they are increasing the quality of your work life without your conscious awareness.
There you have it. The four kinds of friends at work that will keep you sane and make your work life better. If you already have these four friends, congratulations! Get them a nice token of appreciation when the next holiday comes around. If you don’t have these four friends, it’s time to start paying attention. I suggest trailing the smell of donuts next time you sense them at work. Find out who brought them, and chat up that person!
June is graduation season. As new graduates toss their caps in the air, they are also dreaming of their future, creating new paths, and dipping their toes in fields that may or may not turn out to be their life-long careers. To many, starting out their career with a big name – getting the shiny Fortune 500 company mark on their resume – seems like the correct entry point. We all know the allure and the vanity reasons why these names are good for those shorter-than-you’d-like-resumes. Sure, bigger companies tend to pay better and provide better benefits and boost your resume with more credibility. But what about the fact that you get to “wear more hats” in a small company environment, where you have more opportunities to apply yourself?
As the title conveys, a new graduate has a ton to gain from a working in corporate America. Aside from the prestige and credit that the name of a big company carries, it’s the perfect place to build a solid foundation when it comes to interpersonal skills, networking ability, and even work ethics, among others. As for wearing more hats and being able to do more in a small company setting, worry about that when you have 5+ years under your belt. You have plenty of opportunities to wear different hats for the rest of your career. Think about building a house – the depth of your foundation matters more than the width. After you’ve got a solid foundation is when you can start to get fancy with applications or showcasing of your skills.
Definition of Corporate America
Before we dive into what makes corporate America the prime place to start a young professional’s career, let’s define what I mean by corporate America. It doesn’t have to be a publicly traded or conventionally “large” company. But to be considered the right environment, the company should:
have at least 50-100 employees
have somewhat defined functional groups & established processes
have a steady revenue stream (you’re not worried about the company going out of business next month)
have clearly stated and shared & business goals
The defining features that constitute “corporate America” are critical because they have everything to do with the exact benefits that a new graduate would gain from working at such a company. If you are one of the graduates of 2018 and are considering beginning your career in the corporate world, here’s what you’re in for.
Why Corporate America Is The Best Place to Start Your Career
1. In the beginning, your employer has a lot more to offer than you do
In the first few years of your career, what you give to your employer will pale in comparison to what they can provide you. Everything that you are going to learn in the first year of work is what will propel you and your career forward. Whether be it learning the technical details on how to master your job, getting people to listen & pay attention to you when you have a great idea, resolving interpersonal conflicts when you work with difficult personalities, or simple time management tactics… the list goes on. This is what I call real-world education. In Corporate America, as opposed to small businesses or start-ups, you’re more likely to find professionals who you can model your behavior after, learn specific lessons from, and ample opportunities to hone in on the skills you’ve acquired. Yes, you will work hard and contribute as much as you can. But in those formative years of your career, soak up as much as you can in your work environment. That’s what will count in the long run.
When you are a single person on a big rowboat with a big crew, if your oar breaks or if your arm cramps up for a few minutes, the boat will continue to move forward. It may slow down or lose efficiency for little, but it won’t come to a complete stop. This is what I mean by low-risk learning – in the corporate world, results always come from a team. This environment makes an individual’s learning particularly low-risk and safe from creating actual, lasting, and irreversible damage. Additionally, you are hopefully being mentored and developed by someone, i.e. your boss, who will benefit from your progress and improvement. This was never the case when you were in school.
3. A readily available and rich network for you to tap into
One of the reasons why I emphasize that this has to be at least a 50-100 employee company is because this determines the size of the network that your employment brings you. Outside of your coworkers and managers in the department you are in, there are many more professionals that you could reach out to. If you are the passive type of are unsure of your networking skills, there are always company events and activities that put you in the vicinity of other coworkers in the same company. Talk to people. Get to know folks outside of your own functional group. When you are young, this is how you learn about what other paths there are in the business world and what people do in different fields. Heck, this is where you develop your networking skills by talking to people that work at the same company with whom you don’t regularly interact with.
4. Understanding of how a cog helps the wheel turn
“A cog in a wheel” is often used to describe the insignificance or lack of a single person’s impact in a larger environment. But when you first start out with not a whole lot under your belt, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be revolutionizing the company anyway. So, this is the perfect timing to be learning how, a little and new cog you may be, you can fit into this new and complex ecosystem. Take the time to learn the complexity of the organization, the expectation of each functional group, what the check and balance levers are at, and where dependencies and co-dependencies exist. This way when you are more skilled and equipped, you will more effectively and efficiently create impact.
5. An existing roadmap when you are directionless or lost
In the beginning of your career, where you end up finding employment isn’t always the result of clear-cut decision making, and definitely not an end-all-be-all. If you are ambitious like I was when I started out, you spend a lot of time thinking about what you want to be 5 or 10 years into your career. When you work in a corporate setting, there are many people that have been in your shoes when they started out. So when you “don’t know what you want to do when you grow up”, there are existing roadmaps for you to follow. Junior to senior. Specialist to Manager. Manager to Director. These are defined paths that make up the corporate ladder. When you don’t have a specific direction yet, it’s simple to just follow a defined path.
As we go through life, we cross important milestones that mark different stages of life. Puberty, going to college, falling in love, working your first job, getting married, raising kids, and getting old… are all important phases that we encounter. We often hear about what it’s like to be in a particular stage that we are about to enter, and we build up anticipation, get ready, so we can transition smoothly into and get the most out of each stage.
As naïve as I was, I thought pregnancy was going to be one of these milestones. I thought, mistakenly in hindsight, that I would just naturally slide into being pregnant and smoothly navigate out of it. Boy, was I wrong.
Oh, by the way, in case you haven’t guessed it – yes, we are pregnant! As of the writing of this blog post, I am around 4 months pregnant. It’s been quite a ride, let me tell you. First off, if you’re a long-time reader, you probably sensed something from my lack of productivity (i.e. lack of published blog posts) in the month of March all the way to this month. I even left my full-time job in February to focus on my blog. On top of that, my Instagram activities have plummeted to an all-time low. All of this is to say that the pregnancy was a curveball that life threw at me. I can’t say that I was prepared for it.
But then again, how prepared are we for most things that happen in life, amirite? So, in the spirit of sharing the most honest, straight-forward, non-sugar-coated truth, here are 6 things that no one told me about being pregnant.
Your Body Is No Longer Just Yours
This is probably the most disturbing and unsettling realization I had. We own our body like we own nothing else in the world – it’s OURS, and we do whatever we want with it. If you want to workout every day and be on a keto diet so you look like The Rock, you can. Alternatively, if you want to sit in front of the TV and eat pizza every day (and look like The Potato or whatever the opposite of The Rock is…), hey, you also can. You can pop a painkiller when you have an ache here or there, and you can deny yourself of a good night sleep in the name of YOLO. Guess what? When you’re pregnant, you can’t do any of that (or have to proceed with a lot of caution). Most importantly, you’re no longer the only person in control in how you feel, physically and mentally. Out of nowhere, you will feel like someone just drained your battery and that you HAVE TO lie down. The urgency to go pee all the time is also something that makes you wonder “has someone been injecting water into my bladder without me knowing??“
You May Not Feel A Shred Of Joy, Happy Anticipation, Or Even Hope.
This was by far my biggest struggle. Like many of you, I have friends that have gone through the pain of IVF. The blogosphere also saw a recent flux of bloggers opening up about the difficult journey of trying to get pregnant (see Lace and Locks and Extra Petite’s stories). I KNOW this is a difficult subject and process for many people. I should be grateful towards how easy it was for me to conceive. But when people ask me how I felt when I first became pregnant, all I could say was that I felt like my future was stolen from me. I made plans, very specific plans, to leave the corporate 9-5 life and focus on my blog and turn it into what I know it has the potential to be. Spending 18 hours in bed and feeling not a bit of motivation to do anything (including getting out of bed) was not how I planned on spending the first month of my entrepreneurial life. On top of that, I was a wreck because of the hormonal changes. I’ve experienced bouts of clinical depression before, so I know when my symptoms set in. Literally, on some mornings I would wake up and I just feel like the world has taken on a layer of grayish gloom. Given my past experiences, I know it’s hormones affecting me. Yet knowing the cause of it doesn’t change the way I felt. On those days, I would remind myself to take it easy, allow myself to feel what I was feeling, and work on being OK. After all, it’s reported that between 14-23% of women struggle with some symptoms of depression during pregnancy. One motto that helped me a lot during this time was this: It’s hard, it’s normal, and it will change. I repeated it to myself over and over again.
Your First Few OB Appointment Will Be Somewhat Underwhelming.
I still remember the first time I saw the ultrasound of my 5-week-old fetus (I couldn’t really call her a baby at that point – she barely looked human!). I was thinking in my head “THAT is supposed to be the bundle of joy that all women rave about? This is such a scam.” I mean really, at that point, the “fetus” was merely a gestational sac, basically a lump of cells in a sac of some sort. Yes, I heard the heartbeat through the ultrasound, but in my head, it sounded like seaweed floating in the ocean. It did not sound like a lifetime of emotional ups and downs and the most fulfilling human experience ever. Maybe I expected too much. But I walked out of the first and second appointments feeling underwhelmed. OH, BY THE WAY, the first two ultrasounds are done ENDOVAGINALLY. It means they stick the ultrasound wand up your va-jay-jay to check on the baby. It’s not worse than a pap-smear but GOSH why didn’t anyone tell me about this?? I wasn’t mentally prepared to take my panties off and get in one of those humiliating women’s hospital gowns that leaves you butt-naked. But I did. *SIGH*
You Start Questioning The Root Of Your Beliefs, Values, And Foundational Understanding Of Things And Wonder Where They Came From.
Who am I to bring another human being into the world? I barely have a handle on my own issues, how am I going to help another little human prepare for the experiences, difficult or beautiful, of life? How do I teach her from knowing right from wrong, good from bad, and everything thing else so she can make good decisions? Heck, how did I come to learn to know these things about life and decision making? Did my parents consciously teach them to me, or did they just showed me what was good by embodying those principles? Each and every doubt and question in my head is the beginning of its own rabbit hole. Not to mention the whole nature vs. nurture debate. What kind of personality is she going to have? Is she going to question every decision I make for her the way that I question my mom’s decision for me? (The answer is probably yes. Because KARMA.) What scares me the most is that they say parenting is caught not taught. So, you are going to want to consciously teach your kids certain things, prevent them from doing certain things. But there are the things that you are unconsciously doing that your kids will model their behavior after without you realizing. That scares the shit out of me.
A Case Of Identity Crisis Begins
Growing up, I was never one to play with dolls and pretend to be a mom or have baby names picked out at age 12. I actually openly talked about my aversion towards kids. My excuse/reason is that kids don’t like me. I don’t know why. I also had a serious case of infant phobia. Yes, I invented the name but the condition is real – I was so scared of handling young babies!! The seemingly conflicting thing is, I have always known that I was going to have kids. Even though I don’t particularly look forward to handling a newborn/toddler/pre-teen and whatever monster they turn into after that point, I knew having and raising kids is an irreplaceable experience in life. But man oh man, motherhood is a loaded word that I am a. scared of b. don’t care for c. don’t know how to (or don’t want to) prioritize against other roles that I play in life. You see, being a (great) mother was not something I particularly aspired to be in life. I am not one of those people whose identity rests on the fact that they produced and raised another human being. This isn’t to diminish the hard work and difficulty of motherhood; it simply shows how little it means to me in my life journey. Yet, here I was, at the onset of burgeoning motherhood. Who am I going to be as a mother, how am I going to be as a mother, and lastly why am I becoming a mother…these questions hover in my head when I lie wide awake in the middle of the night due to, you guessed it, hormones.
Thank goodness for blog posts like 10 Reasons I Still Feel Like Myself While Being a Mom. It gives me SO much to look forward to and allows me to believe that there are elements that I can control in terms of how my identity evolves, instead of being dragged into this baby-raising hell that will forever change who I am.
This is probably a blog post entirely on its own. I won’t divulge too much here because it’s quite a dark place. But my ever-changing body during pregnancy has NOT left me feeling joyful and excited. I do not have the body type that enables the body to stay the same while only the belly swells. I, my whole person, swelled. And to call this swelling is putting it nicely. The weight gain combined with major lack of energy made me feel like a lazy bum. All of a sudden, I was watching my 600-Pound Life with this new-found empathy. When your weight changes (for the worse) uncontrollably, it’s a terrible feeling. None of my clothes fit anymore, including underwear. I was hesitant to buy new things for my new body because I didn’t know how much more it was going to change. I ended up buying some leggings and maternity tee-shirts through PinkBlush and I am OH-SO-IN-LOVE.
I will probably write another stand-alone blog post on this topic alone. Is that something you would find interesting?
I’d like to apologize if I came across as negative at all in this post. It’s something that I am quite conscious of. My intention in divulging on the not-so-joyful details is to share the realities that I don’t think enough people talk about. And more importantly, if you are pregnant and feeling the same way that I feel, you are not alone. Definitely do not feel ashamed of your questions, doubts, and questions that you haven’t heard anyone else asked. You don’t hear about them asking these questions because they’re hard to answer.
Remember, each woman’s pregnant journey is unique and uniquely difficult. Your difficulty should be at least acknowledged if not understood. For those of you who are echoing my sentiment, I want you to know that you are not alone.
Since leaving my corporate job in February to focus on my blog, I’ve been congratulated many times and told that I am brave. Many more times, people are simply curious about “how I did it”. The short answer is that I prepared, planned, and sacrificed in order to make it happen. I suppose to those who ask “how did you do it” in hope of gaining insight into how they can do it, too, this isn’t the most appealing answer. Because it’s not a shortcut.
Not Everything In Life Is Hackable
We live in a society that’s obsessed with hacks, engineered efficiency, hidden secrets and recipes to success. But life isn’t always hackable. I could’ve given this post a click-baity subject line such as “10 Things to Do In Order to Quit Your Job & Be a Full-Time Blogger” and I bet that would get the post at least 10x more views. But that would be deceiving. I can’t possibly promise you that you can do the same that I did, following the steps I took. Because I don’t know if you’re willing to give up the things I gave up. What I can do, though, is to share the things that I had to sacrifice and give up in order to live the life I do right now. That’s right – not what I did, but what I couldn’t do anymore, in order to live this blogging full-time life.
So, the list below is to strip away the glamorous surface of “full-time blogger” and reveal the struggles one has to come to terms with to live this #lifegoal. Here are 7 things that I had to give up in order to become a full-time blogger.
*Disclaimer*: 1) This list is heavily personal finance-related. If you are not interested in learning about my personal finance habits, you’d probably want to skip this post. 2) I don’t want to downplay the fact that my husband still works and brings in a decent income and how that is the main financial force that sustains our life together right now. But I also don’t want people to assume that I continue to shop, eat, live just the same way as I did before when I had a full time-salaried job. I don’t. These changes are what this post is about. 3)I have a fledgling blogging business. There are way more established bloggers out there that don’t have to live the way I live. But in order for me to get there, this is how my life ought to be now in terms of my personal expenses.
7 Things I Gave Up For The Full-Time Blogging Life
1. My Shopping Budget
Ever since our wedding in March 2017, the purchase of our first home in May the same year, and moving in, furnishing the house… etc., I’ve been operating with a $200 per month shopping budget. When I was preparing for my eventual exit from the corporate world to work on my blog full time, I knew it had to change. I couldn’t justify spending anything at all on clothes, accessories, shoes when I still don’t make enough to cover the basics. So, my current shopping budget is a whopping ZERO dollars a month. Now, one exception I give myself to this rule is that if I make anything from my Poshmark account, then I get to spend that money on whatever I want.
2. A New Car
Not a brand new car, no. Just an additional car to the household. You see, since my car-crash in March 2017 (just 2 short weeks after our wedding), we’ve stashed away the insurance money for a time when we’d have to buy a new car. For now, I’ve been driving my college car: a trusted 2004 Honda Accord with 180K miles on. My husband works from home, so he doesn’t need a car for daily commute. So, when I was driving down to Del Mar every day for work (a 25 miles trip), I drove his car. We use the Honda Accord for local trips to the grocery stores and restaurants. Do I want a more reliable and newer car? Sure, I do. Do I absolutely need one? Not so much. And now with me focusing on growing my blogging business and my income still in its infancy, I definitely don’t need to be buying any car any time soon.
3. Gym/Yoga Studio Membership
I loved doing hot yoga, or just regular yoga. I also love trying out new classes like barre, spin (which I have yet to try) or aerial yoga. But they’re too costly for someone who’s not making enough money. And if asked myself, do I have other alternatives when it comes to working out? Heck yea – there are plenty of options out there like YouTube videos (I used to work out to Cassy Ho’s videos all the time) or doing squats, lunges, planks in my living room. Sure, it’s less motivating and way less exciting. But is that a reason to splurge on expensive yoga or even gym membership now? I’ve made a conscious choice to say no.
4. The Ability to Randomly Drop $50 On A Dinner
Of all the things I’ve outlined in this post, this is by far the most painful. This is the most open, exposed, and public type of change that I’ve had to make. It involves having conversations with friends that I can no longer participate in our outings where we randomly pick a restaurant that happens to be $$$ and shell out $50 on dinner. It’s just out of the question. Now, if we plan ahead and pick a reasonably expensive restaurant ahead of time, then I can try to make it happen by altering other aspects of my living expenses. But it doesn’t always work. It sucks.
5. Daily Work Routines And Structure
Now we are charging into the more intangible area of the things I’ve had to give up. This was one of the most surprising elements that caught me completely off-guard. My days no longer are defined by a clear beginning and a clear end. I can no longer count on meetings to plan my time and they used to govern my working days. I am the only person responsible for making progress, for defining progress and for setting goals… it was overwhelming in the beginning. It also made me miss the corporate world incredibly much.
6. My Prized Identity as a Working Woman
Whether you are a mom, an athlete, a gardening enthusiast, or a cat lover… there are things in life that we do, and love doing, that is part of who we are. It’s one of those things that you list on your Instagram profile that you want everyone to know about you. For me, having a well-paying job in the corporate world and living that 9-5 life was one of these things. It’s who I am. Or who I used to be for a long time. This is how I know this exit isn’t permanent – it’s merely a temporary break. It’s meant to allow myself the opportunity to foray into entrepreneurship and give this little thing I’ve built over 3 years the chance to flourish. But I miss saying that I’m in biotech/marketing and say that with complete confidence. It’s probably just the lack of practice, but when people ask me what I do (especially at 10:30 Am in the grocery store on a Monday) and whether I am a student, I stutter a little bit when I say “I’m a blogger”. I’m still practicing owning this fact. #thestruggleisreal
7. The Peace Of Mind That Even If I Stop Working For A Few Days Or Even A Few Weeks, I’d Still Have Income
The beauty of paid vacations… and as clichés would have it, I never realized it until I lost it. March and April were difficult months for me for more reasons than one. I couldn’t write. Some days I could barely get out of bed. My working productivity dropped to rock bottom. Consequently, my income was affected. Had I been working at a corporate job, I would’ve probably been able to just take days off here and there and still have a full day’s salary while I rested at home. Whoever came up with the paid vacation policy in the modern workforce is a genius and we should all thank that person.
With all of that said, I hope I was able to paint a clearer picture for you about what it’s taken me to begin this blogging life. I didn’t just stumble onto this #lifegoal, and it certainly doesn’t come without a price. While this isn’t the circumstances that I’d naturally prefer to live with, it has afforded me the opportunity to live my dreams. So, above all, I am grateful.
Earlier this week, we talked about what career coaching is, and busted some of the most common myths associated with career coaching. If you know about career coaching but are not sure about it 100%, this post is for you. If you think you know career coaching, click on the link above to see if what you know is 100% true!
Now that we have adjusted our understanding of what a career coach is and what career coaching can do for you, let’s talk about how you know it’s time to hire a career coach:
5 Signs You Need A Career Coach:
1. You have a specific goal but you’re not sure how to accomplish it
2. You see recurring themes or patterns of problems in your career or work life but you don’t know why they’re happening or how to resolve it
3. You know you have the potential to accomplish more but you’re currently not realizing that potential
4. You want/need someone to validate the path you have built and hold you accountable for accomplishing your goals
5. You feel stuck, lost, uninspired by what you do for work and want to change that
I’ve been writing on Cubicle Chic for 2.5 years, I consider myself somewhat of a career development enthusiast. Naturally, I had to see for myself and actually experience what it’s like to work with a career coach. Meike Hennon at Shinebright kindly offered a 1:1, 60-minute session with me to go over career coaching is done and how she helps her clients. During the session, we explored and discovered what my strengths are and the session was an eye-opening experience. (I finally understood why I always feel the need to document things and hold onto information like it’s going to change my world…)
Here are a couple of things that I’ve learned about myself from this consultation session with Meike at Shinebright:
According to my personality profile, my strengths are (in this order) Input, Context, Activator, Strategic, and Individualization. This practically means I have exactly the right mix of personality & traits to be a blogger. This explains why I keep coming back to blogging. Something I thought was just a hobby has turned into a habit over the last 3 years!
I need to recognize when my strengths are working against me. In other words, if I become aware of my strengths and how to activate them and when, then I can play my strengths to the maximum. It would also mean that I will recognize when my strength act against me. For example, people that have the “CONTEXT” strength are usually obsessed information (useful or random), historical data, and WHY things are the way they are. But they also tend to focus on these interest of theirs when they have conversations with people, despite the fact that others may not be interested in what they are obsessed with. I notice I sometimes have the tendency to do this. But I also know when to shut up and talk about what others want to talk about…when I see their gaze starting to wander and look away.
Other Success Stories
I also asked Meike to share a few of her clients’ success stories. Here are two professionals with different gender, age, background but both found success through Meike’s help as a career coach. Meike has kindly provided the following two examples from her coaching experience of how career coaching leads to successful outcomes:
Client A. Age: 26, female, Sarah (not her real name)
Strengths: communication, strategic, relator, input, and empathy
Job Change: Transitioned from digital marketing in a big firm to work on a small communications team for corporate execs.
Sarah came to me with a lot of anxiety and hated her job. We dug into her strengths and realized her input and communication strengths had brought her a lot of success in crafting messaging and had resulted in success in her marketing role, but she was unhappy due to her strengths relator and empathy in the toxic and competitive work environment. These aspects of her identity were not being “fed” in her work environment and as an empath, she was suffering and feeling overwhelmed by the toxicity.
Within 2 weeks of our working together, Sarah quit her job and we began exploring career possibilities while still developing her understanding of her strengths. We also discussed how to grow her network in an authentic way that was a reflection of her strengths and how she operated naturally.
During this time, Sarah was told of a job opening on a small team that crafted the executive messaging to large corporations. It seemed like an awesome opportunity and she found it through growing her network based on her strengths. We strategized for her to show up and be her best in the interview process. It worked, Sarah got the job. The small team environment was a good fit for someone with empathy and relator as strengths, and the communications aspect of the work fed her other strengths. It was a great fit and tapped into her entire set of strengths.
Client B. Age – 47, male, James (not his real name)
Strengths: ideation, WOO, arranger, futuristic and strategic
Job Change: Laid off from VP of Marketing at a big tech firm and became CEO
James came to work with me after leaving an executive role at a big software company he had worked at for 20 years. During his job change, he was given a career coach as part of his severance package but the coach was very old school. My client knew if he followed the advice of that coach he would end up with the same job he had left. He found me via the WEWORK network, which is where I have my office. James was searching to rediscover his true self in order to find a career that aligned with the deepest aspects of his identity, one in which he could flourish on every level.
We dove into his strengths and James blossomed during the development phase. He learned aspects of himself that he had not known before and others that he had pushed down in order to climb the corporate ladder. Within this new found knowledge, we determined he was excellent at ideating and curating moving parts, thanks to his strengths ideation and arranger. James also used his Woo talent (winning others over) everywhere he went, making new connections and establishing great connections. It was not long after we determined the type of role as a curator that he was offered and accepted the role of CEO for a technology software company co-founded by two engineers that did not want the stress of being the CEO. James has since found happiness and a level of engagement in his new role that he had previously not thought possible.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank Shinebright for extending me the opportunity of a complimentary 1:1 session to understand their career coaching offerings. I am not compensated for writing and publishing this article. And of course, as always, the opinion expressed in the blog post is 100% my own.
If you are an ambitious career woman like myself, or ever googled words like “how to be successful in one’s career” you’ve probably heard of the term Career Coach. Have you ever wondered how exactly does a career coach help everyday people like you and me? We all have a vague sense that we can use some help here and there in our career. We all know the importance of having mentors who will help us navigate our career but how is a career coach different? And how exactly does a career coach help one progress in their career? Here’s a brief description fromShinebright, a boutique career coaching company, about what career coaches do:
Identify and develop your talents into powerful strengths
Explore the type of roles that will tap into your natural motivations and energize you
Determine which work environments are the best fit for you and will allow you to flourish
Choose a career path that will lead to increased engagement, fulfillment, and success
To fully understand this mythical group known as career coaches, I have a 2-part series on Cubicle Chic this week. First, let’s bust some of the most common myths about career coaching. Then, in the next post, we will talk about the 5 signs that indicate you actually need a career coach.
Most fundamentally, career coaches lead you through a process that helps you get stronger in your understanding of self that allows you to move forward in your career in a powerful, informed way. Maybe you knew that maybe you didn’t. Chances are, you had some preconceived notions about what career coaching is about. Some may be myths, some may actually be true – let’s address them all.
6 Myths about Career Coaching:I’ll hire one when I need one.
This is perhaps the biggest and most commonly-heard myth about career coaching. Most people seek out professional help only when they are already in crisis. The truth is, career coaching is often most effective when it’s applied at a point of thriving rather than a point of struggle. But this is how the human mind works – we tend to only think about improving and problem-solving when there is a problem already. When thinking about hiring a career coach, imagine having someone whose only job is to help you improve, do better and become better, keeping you accountable for your progress and making sure you are moving along the right path to meet your goal.
It’s for executives or people in management.
The best analogy I have for debunking this myth is equating this thinking to the following.
This is the same as when you are poor, you think saving is reserved for the rich. It’s also the same as when you are overweight, and you think CrossFit is only for people that are already in shape. The truth is, a career coach helps you understand yourself, set the right goals, then accomplish them using the right, personalized method. The majority of the work is done by you with the support of the coach. So, if executive professionals and those in management can put in the time and effort into improving their careers, so can you.
It’s going to cost me an arm and a leg.
Traditionally, career coaching has been offered to those that have already “done well” in their careers. So, the traditional clientele in career coaching tends to fall into a certain (high) income bracket and therefore can afford fees that may seem intimidating to the rest of us in Corporate America. This isn’t the case anymore in 2018. There are so many flavors of career coaching offered by various groups and individuals. You can hire a coach from boutique career coaching companies like Shinebright, or find the coach that meets your needs through a network of coaches such as Marlow, or find individuals who own their coaching businesses like Emily Liou at Cultivitae (a good friend of mine!) These various coaching options also come at various prices, so choose according to your budget and what you need. Coaches usually understand that if you are in crisis mode (for example if you just got laid off or somehow lost your job), so depending on their business model or service offering packages, they can offer you only the services you need and none of the nice-to-haves. Or, sometimes they may even let you make payments on a payment plan.
I’ll just read books & listen to podcasts.
If this is your thinking, I commend you and I can 100% relate. I am a proud reader and hoarder of information. I take pride in knowing things that most people don’t know…and derive pleasure from learning. So, for me to admit that I NEED HELP in my career is incredibly difficult. Heck, I have a blog where I write about my career. I should know what I’m doing. Right? The sad truth is: not always. We all have blind spots, biases, and habits (esp. the bad ones). And we don’t know what we don’t know. A career coach is supposed to help you understand yourself and your environment with a new pair of lenses. These lenses will give you different perspectives so you can see alternative outcomes or solutions that you otherwise wouldn’t see.
The career coach is going to solve all my problems for me.
If you are a self-help book fan, you might have this myth of hiring a career coach. You might think they have the key to a missing piece of your puzzle. You might think they have a magic formula. You might think they have all the answers for you, all you have to do is to make a payment and unlock the answers. While some coaches to advertise and market their services as such, I’d wager it’s mostly marketing language and promotional verbiage. No one has a magic bullet or secret formula… if they did, they wouldn’t be a career coach, LOL. What they have instead, is experiences working with other career professionals, insight into the human psyche and organizational behavior, patience in guiding you, supporting you on your personalized career journey and expertise in teaching.
I’m not sure if I need it.
It’s easier to argue that everyone needs a career coach at some point in their career (which I do believe to be true) than to pinpoint exactly when you will actually need one. The truth is that a career coach helps you see beyond your existing accomplishments and align you with your talent and potential. A good career coach guides you toward your goal and helps you achieve them. So when you need a career coach depends on all of the key points I mentioned above – what your talents are, what your untapped potential is, what your career goals are, and how you can achieve them. A good coach will help you 1) figure out all of the above and 2) help motivate you to accomplish your newly defined goals and 3) stay on track to reach your potential. This is why I say one should see a career coach when they are actually thriving in their careers. When you don’t have to dig yourself out of a hole, you can focus on building yourself upwards!
If you are still unsure whether or not you need a career coach right now, I’ve pinpointed some signs that may indicate you do. Stay tuned for the next post later this week if you’re curious about whether you need a career coach right now!
Where do I begin? After 8 years of working as a Corporate America employee, I recently transitioned out of the only world I knew. I am working for myself, officially! It’s been almost two months and I sometimes still have to pinch myself that I am actually living that full-time blogger life! So far, the full time blogging life has been liberating, rewarding, and refreshing but it’s not without challenges. This life is everything that I’ve imagined, yet still, nothing like I thought it was going to be.
In today’s post, I will share some of the behind the scenes stuff of what’s been happening in Cubicle Chic HQ. And of course, the less-than-glamorous details of a newbie full-time blogger.
So, what is it REALLY like?
Honestly, it was initially a bit overwhelming how much freedom I have. What’s the most difficult to deal with is the fact that meetings no longer run my day. I realized the rigidity and the formality of the corporate world that I thought was restrictive, actually provided structure and routine for my work days. The lack of it in my life now threw me off initially– I thought I could just go about my breakfast and morning coffee routine, then go straight into writing mode every single day. WRONG. I wandered around the house, contemplated if I should vacuum the carpet, read the 17 books laying around waiting for me to finish, or play with the cats for just 15 minutes. I’d inevitably end up doing whatever was on the path of the least resistance. Lo and behold, it was to play with the cats for 30 minutes (it was never JUST 15 minutes…) Every thought about getting more coffee, juicing for myself, grabbing a clementine for a snack, turned into a detour of something else, and I’d lose track of time. By the time I remembered the task I was supposed to be on, 2 hours had gone by.
To be 100% honest, I am still trying to find a routine that works for me. As of right now, I am still kind of winging it every day. On top of the new schedule and related discipline that I need to develop, I have also been dealing with a bit of a health issue. More on that later, but it definitely has not been easy. If you know of any productivity advice for freelancers, please let me know!!
If you could wave a magic wand and change something about the blogging life now, what would it be?
A fixed schedule.
The Will Power to do it all.
Some more funds to make spending on my business feel less of a pain.
People that understand what I’m going through. Someone who’s been through this that can share with me what it is that lies in my path ahead.
Are you thinking about hiring a business coach?
Someone recently asked me during a conversation about my blog and business “if I have a mentor or a business coach” and I was a bit dumbfounded. Obviously, my answer was no but as I was answering the question with “No.” I realized how silly that is. Why have I not thought about getting a business coach or mentor? On this path of so many unknowns, why did I think I could, or that I should go at it alone? The woman that I chatted with promised to send me a few contacts so I could seek out some expertise. I also started to chat with others in hope of finding someone I can look to as a mentor… but neither front has proved fruitful so far.
That’s a lot of things that haven’t gone your way. What are some silver linings?
I am practicing re-framing more, and this is one example. When things don’t go my way, I re-frame my thinking my counting my blessings. And good gracious, I am SO. BLESSED.
First of all, amongst all of the slacking and procrastination, I did manage to read a lot of books. Books on positive psychology, books about Native Americans, books written by Virginia Woolf and Oscar Wilde (I’m on this 19th century classic English literature hunt) and read more Simple Life and The Atlantic magazines than what are sitting in my living room available. Intellectually, my tank is feeling pretty full.
We were also able to go on our honeymoon in February to Hokkaido and Maui which was an absolute BLAST. It was a much-delayed honeymoon since our wedding in March 2017, so we made sure we were unplugged, fully present in the moment when we were away. We enjoyed every bit of the trip with memories that would last a lifetime!
We Took A Getaway Trip to Paso Robles In Mid-March
This was the first weekend-getaway that we took with me being a freelancer. And because my weekends are no longer breaks when I stop working it was important that we stay at a business-friendly hotel. The Springhill Suites hotel in Paso Robles was everything a work-from-home freelancer could hope for – fair pricing, business-friendly hotel facilities, friendly and super responsive staff. The rooms we stayed in was very spacious and demarcated into a living space and a working space. I love that about hotels – even when you’re traveling you have a sense of work/life balance!
It was a simple but refreshing trip. At the Springhill Suites in Atascadero, I felt like I was treated like a queen! The complimentary breakfast next was basic but nutritious and fulfilling and that was all we needed for the weekend. Thank you so much for the treat, Springhill Suites!!
Finishing this blog post actually made me feel like I am catching up with my inner SUPER SUCCESSFUL blogger. I vow to bring you more valuable posts more frequently in the upcoming months. Don’t be a stranger.. drop by and say hi when you visit Cubicle Chic! <3
Disclaimer: I was provided a 2-day free-of-cost stay at this Springhill Suites facility in exchange of my honest review. Because of the rain that weekend, we ended up staying for one day which was a shame. I wish I’d spent more time at this beautiful facility!
Lots, and I mean lots…has happened in the last 2 months. You’re in for a treat today because it’s a twofer: learn how to pack for trips to sub-zero temperature areas. And, I am sharing the details of our honeymoon trip to Hokkaido, Japan, a place that was definitely sub-zero in temperature when we visited!
First, a Quick Life Update
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, perhaps you have caught me mention here and there about my walking away from my full-time job in this February. And yes, I did! In the best way possible, I kissed goodbye my 8-year tenure in corporate America. I still am working for my last employer on a project/contract basis, so I am definitely still on good terms with them. More on this subject later this month (or April). I am sure you are very curious! As of now, I am just getting used to calling myself a full-time blogger.
Packing for a Trip in Sub-Zero Temperature
But in today’s post, I’d like to talk to you about how to pack and dress for a trip in sub-zero temperature! It’s a bit belated, yes. After all, spring is like, literally just the corner. OK, I stand corrected. Today is the first day of Spring upon a few seconds of Googling. If you live in the southern hemisphere and are contemplating still visiting the snowboarding/skiing mecca in Asia – Hokkaido, you still might find this article helpful!
To make the process informative and easy to understand, I’ve created my first ever Youtube video. GASP. Yes… I’ve talked about forraying into video making the whole Youtube thing for years and I’ve FINALLY taken the plunge and made a little bit of something! If you want to know what the must-have gears and clothing you have to bring with you when you go on a trip to sub-zero and snowing temperature, click on the 2-minute video below!
How to Dress for Sub-Zero & Actively Snowing Temperature such as Hokkaido, Japan - YouTube
A quick summary if you don’t want to watch the 2-minute video:
A trusted hat to protect your head from snow
A scarf to cover up the space between your chin and the opening of the jacket
A pair of snow boots with strong traction and grip so you don’t trip and fall on the snowed-in ground,
A down feather, insulating jacket to keep your body warm, and lastly
A pair of gloves to keep your hands warm!
Our Honeymoon & Second Visit to Hokkaido, Japan
If you’ve been a reader long enough (like 2-year long), you may recall that Hokkaido was where my then-boyfriend proposed to me in 2016! Yes, we loved Hokkaido and the snowboarding experience there we had to return to it 2 years later as part of our honeymoon trip. I have to say, Hokkaido was every bit as amazing as we remembered it to be – the food, the snow, the snowboarding, the resort… ah, I can go on and on and on. Here, without further ado, are the highlights from our honeymoon trip to Hokkaido Japan!
Replicating our proposal scene:
One of the things that I deeply regret (well I can’t really regret it because it wasn’t my choice, to begin with) was the fact that 2 years ago, his proposal was not captured on camera! So this time we had the opportunity to return to this amazing park in the city of Sapporo, Maruyama Park, I just had to attempt to re-enact the day of the proposal. LOL!
Our two favorite foods in Hokkaido: Niseko cheese tarts and Takahashi yogurt
Taking advantage of the beautiful natural light everywhere…because of snow!
The best, I MEAN THE BEST KAITEN SUSHI EVER
Hokkaido was actually the second half of our honeymoon, following a few days of stay in Maui. And you guessed it… that will be in the next blog post! Until then… have a great Tuesday, guys!!