Learning life from the littles

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Worry less. Live in the moment more. Living with small children has been one of my greatest adventures. They’ve taught me so much in the few short months I’ve been here. This moment at the zoo yesterday brought it all home for me. James was absolutely in awe of this Harbor Seal. For just a moment everything in his world stopped and all that mattered was seeing this seal up close. Kids’ censors are much less guarded than ours are as adults. This creates such incredible moments of authenticity and awe. It’s beautiful to witness.

As I’ve learned more about the world and myself I’ve had many moments of joy, but far too few moments of absolute appreciation. The kind of appreciation James had for this blubbery sea beast. Even when I try to remind myself to slow down and count my blessings, I’m constantly bombarded with the stresses I’ve introduced into my life. I’m a planner and therefore very forward thinking. Instead of enjoying a few moments to myself throughout the day, I spend my extra time stressing about how to make my next student loan payment, or how to afford grad school if I am so lucky as to receive an acceptance letter. Ironically, I’ve started stressing about how to find ways to reduce my levels of stress. What a joke, right?

A few months ago, one of my very best friends, a nutritionist by trade, asked if I might be interested in starting a new fitness journey with her and her husband. I figured, why the hell not? If I can’t control other aspects of my life why not try to control my health? I didn’t grow up in the healthiest family. It’s not my parents’ fault, or even my grandparents’, it’s just quite clear that many generations of my family were focused on things other than physical activity. And they all loved food. Especially dessert. I learned very little about eating a balanced diet and I learned next to nothing about strength training. I’m also convinced that my hatred for running is a gene that runs deep. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family to pieces, however, I figure I’m such a black sheep in other respects why not add to that list? I should also point out that this is not necessarily true of every member of my family and I think it’s totally cool and acceptable that they have priorities other than fitness and peak health. This doesn’t make any single one of them less admirable in my eyes. That being said, I’ve decided to make my own path. So with a lot of anxiety and a few reservations, I jumped on board. And who knew this adventure would take me so many places in such a short amount of time?

I’ve lost a serious amount of weight since I started my new program. This is all well and good but I look at this as the least significant gift I’ve been given. I’ve learned so much about myself and my body, I’ve joined an incredible new community of life changers and supporters, and I’ve learned to love myself in a whole new way, big or small. Beyond that, I’m on the verge of great financial support. Seeing the patterns of those above me, I could soon reach a place where a college loan payment is nothing to stress about. What an amazing relief!

James and his younger siblings are at such important places in their lives. They are learning to read, learning to talk, learning to use their manners and their words before their fists. They are able to enjoy the simplest moments in life with absolute focus on nothing other than that single thing they are witnessing or experiencing. It’s incredibly inspiring. I am at a very important place in my life. I am learning to gracefully settle into adulthood, learning to budget, learning to take care of myself and show love to others even if they don’t care to do the same to me. I am trying to enjoy the simplest moments in life and working on shutting out the stressors that won’t allow me to do so full heartedly. I am so grateful for this company and for this community that is giving me the tools to do that. Cheers to another year of learning and growing. And a huge thank you to three of my greatest teachers, James, Eleanor, and Judah.

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Simple gestures

I am in absolute shock over the attention to yesterday’s blog post. I truly did not anticipate that many people would read it. However, the responses that I got absolutely changed the way that today unfolded for me. Then I got to work and something very simple but incredibly touching happened. 

I arrived at the cafe for the closing shift. I walked in the doors at about a quarter to one in the afternoon. It was a bit hectic in the shop. Several people at tables, a couple in line, and lots to update the boss about. I clocked in, went over some brief busniess with Leah, took some orders and then walked to trash outside. When I came back in I popped over to the machine to make a couple of drinks that were in the cue. I looked down at the counter and my personal tamp was sitting there waiting for me. For those of you not so versed in the coffee world, a tamp is the tool baristas use to press espresso. Mine is pictured above. The tamp I had worked so hard to earn a while back.  A very gracious and important gift. Placed there so carefully and lovingly by one of my sweet Silk sisters. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude and surprise. In the brief moment before her exit she took the time to support me and set me up in this little way. I was so taken aback by this kind gesture that my eyes started to well up. I was glad it was a bit busy and that the machine faces the wall because there was no holding back my tears. This one small act changed my whole day. The night was wonderful. Full of kind customers, good conversations, and enough energy to get me out of the shop early. All of this because I was put in such a positive mental state as a result of my coworker’s thoughtfulness. 

This moment today reminded me of an important aspect of life that I failed to mention yesterday. So much of our journey is influenced by those that we spend our time with. This is where I am lucky beyond measure. I know the best people. It’s the good people that I got to work alongside in Princeton that made my time there worth it. It’s the good people there that make me want to go back. It’s the good people here in Oregon that I missed when I was living back east. It’s the good people in my Silk family that make this unexpected part of my journey okay. More than okay. They are the reason that I get to love it and myself. 

I have been very lucky in my life. I have this killer habit of surrounding myself with the best people. This is how I know that no matter where my path continues to twist and turn, I will always be okay. Thank you to every single one of you out there who supports me every day in my journey. I hope that I can help support you in yours too. Thank you especially to my Silk sisters for welcoming me back, for helping me relearn what it means to be a Silkling, and for letting me be a part of your every day. I love you all. 

What is Failure? A reflection on coming home

I woke up this morning and could not get myself out of bed. I spent the whole day in a total funk and I could not figure out why. It wasn’t until I saw the date on the cream cheese container at work that I realized that I am a year out from the true beginning of my McCarter adventure. I suppose that this is a good moment to recognize that I haven’t posted on this blog in a year. I know that my long list of dedicated readers are very disappointed by this…grandma…

There are a few reasons for the lack of updates, but none that are worth digesting here. Let’s just stick with, it was a challenging year and I was very busy. Mmkay?

When I realized today that I was one year out from my first day in the office, it all made sense. My move back to Oregon has been a complete whirlwind. If I’m honest, it’s been a little tough. However, in true Jenny fashion, I have not given myself time to process it all. After the job search proved itself to be rather fruit-less, I put in a call to my beautiful and understanding boss from Silk Espresso. She so very graciously gave me my job at the cafe back. This way, moving back to Oregon, I had something to look forward to. Anyone who has had more than one conversation with me in the last six years knows about my love and dedication to Leah and her cafe. Every day I am grateful for the gift of this safety net. Knowing that I could come back here if I needed to gave me the confidence to move to New Jersey and give McCarter a shot. Whether or not Leah knows it, she’s the reason I could have this adventure. I will never be able to thank her enough. 

All that being said, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the goal was to not jump into that net. The idea was that McCarter would be the start line of the marathon that became my long-term theatre career. I had dreams of leaving Princeton after the year ended and starting over in a new east coast town with some sort of entry-level staff position, or new internship, at another theatre company. I figured this internship would lead to another theatre that would lead to another, that would lead to another, and so on. That’s how that works, right? It’s not supposed to be a one year gig that then spits you back out to land at the same job you had through college. If that was the expectation, I could have just stayed at the cafe all along. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and money. So why did it work out that way? Why did I fail?

That’s the kicker. This idea of failure. It’s tough to look at this situation and not think of this as a setback or as a personal inadequacy. It’s so easy to tell yourself that you should be here or there. I look at other people my age, people I went to high school with and I just don’t get it. These people have spent their whole lives coasting, barely passing, not giving a damn, and are working grown up jobs with benefits. They’re buying houses! Here I am having worked my ass off since I can remember and I’m moving back into my parents’ house because I’ve run out of other options. How does this make any sense? It doesn’t. And it’s beyond upsetting. Some days, I am very disappointed in myself. It’s hard to not slouch a bit when someone I haven’t seen in a while asks what I’m up to these days and I have to tell them that I’m back at my college job. I expected so much more of myself. And they did too, right? Then I remember two things. I remember a conversation I had with one of the most important women I met in New Jersey and then I remember how damn lucky I am to be where I am at. 

In the last month and a half of my time in Princeton, Adriana, a member of McCarter’s front of house staff, became very interested in my next steps. Many of the wonderful people there were interested, Adriana was just extra vocal about it. Every night as I would leave the theatre to walk back to Bank Street, Adriana would ask if I had heard back from anyone yet. It was very sweet but one night she caught me when I was not so secretly stressing about a lack of response. Her question hit me just right and I entered full blown breakdown mode. Bless her for standing strong against it. In her perfect Italian mother way she snapped at me to knock it off. She reminded me that I would not treat any of my friends the way I was treating myself. She told me that going back to making coffee was not a failure, it was just a different next step than I had anticipated. Of course, she was right. That was exactly what I needed to hear then and I spend many days reminding myself of that fact now. God bless Adriana. 

When I manage to push Adriana’s words of wisdom aside, not an easy task to do, I remind myself just how lucky I am to be back where I’m at. I get to walk into my favorite coffee shop every day and I get to spend time with some of my very favorite people. I get to pour beautiful lattes, I get to sip on killer espresso, and I get to be a light in some peoples’ otherwise monotonous and gloomy days. Better than that, I get to work for a woman and for a company that I truly love and believe in. Even better than that? I am reminded constantly that I am loved and that I am valuable. I missed that. A lot. It’s amazing what the words I appreciate you can do. 

Even with these two beautiful reminders, it is sometimes still easy to get myself down. I still have these ideas of what I should be doing. But really, at the end of the day, who’s to say? There is no direct path or set of rules that we’re supposed to live by, right? And hey, one day I’ll have a job with benefits and a house with my name on the title, but for now, I have to remember and trust that this is where I am supposed to be. It may not be perfect, and it may not be easy, but it’s important work. It’s valuable work. And I get to be more valuable because I am blessed enough to be doing it. I’ll still dread the what are you up to questions, and I still might slouch a bit when I answer, but then I get to remember that I am appreciated and I am loved. This way there is no failure. Just hard work and worth. 

It is now 12:02 which means that it is officially August 6th, exactly one year after my first day in the McCarter office. I still feel a little funny. I’m absurdly anxious. I’m exhausted from digesting all of this. But I’m also grateful. Things could be so much worse. And at the end of the day, even if I’ve strayed a bit from my path, I am loved. I am okay. 

Meetings, projects, and friendly reminders

I am lying in bed exhausted after day two in the office. I could not be more thrilled about that. I was starting to get antsy with so much spare time on my hands. After just two days I know that I am right where I belong.

I was greeted in my office yesterday with squeals, hugs, streamers covering my desk/chair, and lots of chocolate. My desk if right next to my supervisor’s desk and we share our office with several other women. Constant office entertainment is provided by our department chair who is the ultimate Jersey woman I’ve been waiting to meet. She has the accent, she has the humor, she has the need to speak her mind, and she is hilarious. I can tell I will be well taken care of by these women.

Yesterday was full of tours, orientation meetings, and lots of manual reading. Today was lots of real work. I started projects like this year’s cafe/bar inventory notebook and got to take over in a search for a new freezer for concessions. I got to sit in on a bit of an interview and later learned that I basically get to help manage the Front of House crew. This means that I get to help people put on their best face and serve our patrons. I get to help people help other people. I love that! I get to help people serve authentically and with open hands. I get to help make patrons’ experience at McCarter be the most pleasant it can possibly be. How exciting is that? This is exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now.

In the back room of the cafe we had a little phrase that was placed on the wall for all of us to see. I think it is just as relevant here as it was there. So now I can move forward in everything that I do at McCarter remembering the motto:

May all who enter as guests, leave as Friends.

Home

Tomorrow is officially the first day of work. Yikes!

It really shouldn’t be a huge deal. It’s orientation. Lots of paperwork, meetings, and presentations. I’m actually super thrilled. I get to meet my supervisor, Tricia. Super stoked about that. She’s been so sweet in our phone chats and emails. I have a feeling we’ll work very well together.

I’m also just thrilled to be doing something again. Don’t get me wrong, having the last few days to unpack and settle was perfect. My clothes are now all hanging up, my walls are (mostly) decorated, and my cupboards are well stocked. However, I haven’t had one day of work in almost a week and I’ve been losing it a little. I mean, the trip here was great. Impromptu trip to NYC?! Hello! Living the dream. But watching my housemates come home from work exhausted every night has gotten me so excited about starting. There’s something to be said about loving your job, working so hard, and earning that good night’s sleep. I want to do that again. I was getting tired of all this spare time. Which is silly to say, I know. I’m in a new city and there’s so much to explore. I just needed to have a true purpose again. And that starts tomorrow.

I also want to take this opportunity to mention how thrilled I am about my housemates. These are four lovely people. There was this really lovely moment tonight that really made me feel at home and happy here. Three of us had been watching American Ninja Warrior (which by the way, I am now hooked on) and he other two were doing their own thing. We all go to bed about the same time and were heading off to our bedrooms and there was just this round of “goodnight”s ringing throughout house. One person said it, then another, and as silly as it sounds I was surrounded by a chorus of “goodnights”.

That’s when I knew I was home.

Oh hello Princeton!

I have officially made it to Princeton! My train arrived a couple of hours ago and I have spent some time unpacking. I’m frantically making lists of things that I’ll need to go buy. A lamp or two for my bedroom, some form of shoe storage, curtains. Those types of things.

The house is really charming. Nice living room, newish appliances in the kitchen, a bookshelf stocked with books and movies to enjoy. There are funny little things too. Things that you just laugh about and embrace because it gives the house character. For instance, my closet doesn’t have a door because if it did hangers wouldn’t be able to fit in it and I’d have to use baby clothes hangers. I also only have blinds on one window because it looks like someone put the brackets for the blinds too close together and the blinds laying on my desk don’t fit. Not to mention we only have a VHS player for our tv. It’s kind of awesome. I think I’m really going to love it here.

I haven’t made it over to the theatre yet. But I can’t wait to see it. The next couple of days will be all about exploring what’s around my house. It looks like a pretty busy little city. Besides, all my roommates are working and how lame would I be to just sit around here all day?

I think my roommates are lovely. I have only officially met one of them but we all have made plans to celebrate everyone’s arrival tonight.

Also, it’s raining which of course reminds me of home.

As I get more settled and do some exploring I’ll have all kinds of pictures and anecdotes to share. But for now, I’m just waiting on my boxes to make their way here from the company and hoping to get a hold of some house keys so I can actually come and go.

Day one in Princeton and I’m pretty sure I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Twelve days more

I am getting nearer and nearer to my departure date. We are just 12 days away now. Some of my roommates have already moved in and are getting settled. I am glad that I still have a couple more weeks left in Corbett/Gresham. I’m not quite ready to leave Oregon yet. But every day I get more and more excited.

It’s funny. Most people that I talk to tell me how much they hate New Jersey. I had no idea it was such a scorned state until I started announcing that I am moving there. Of course this is not the case with all people but the conversation typically ends up sounding something like, “Ew, New Jersey is a shit hole. Have fun. Where exactly will you be? Oh Princeton. That’s not so bad. You’ll be fine. But Jersey as a whole…what a mess.” So that’s encouraging!

I’m starting to say some goodbyes and making lists of people that I must see one last time before I leave. I’m entering the phase I was in a couple of weeks before graduation where everything makes me cry. It’s a little ridiculous actually. I was watching Friends the other day and it made me cry not once, not twice, not three times, but four times! Four! That is not a crying show. Seriously people, anything will set me off. But I’ve decided this is a good thing. This means that there are things here worth loving and worth missing.

The best part? I still get to share this adventure with those people worth loving and worth missing. Super thankful for modern technology.

Planning to ship my stuff next week. I suppose that means I should start packing…

 

P.S. Bonus points if the title of this post got “One Day More” from Les Mis stuck in your head. You’re welcome.