Fighting through the Funk

Monday I was in a funk. One of those days that I just didn’t want to get out of bed or do anything, and I wasn’t sure why. I was excited about the snow, but maybe it was because snow days aren’t what they used to be when we were kids or even before we were working from home. Maybe it was work stress. Maybe it was just the classic Office Space case of the Mondays.

I had to go through my catalog of coping mechanisms to get going and keep going and am sharing with you in case you are having one of those days today or want to prepare for the next one. Here is how I cope when the last thing I want to do is work.

  • Keep the routine. While it might seem like punching the snooze button or skipping the morning workout will make you feel better, it will probably just add guilt to the already rough feelings. I don’t really enjoy exercise and meditation but these activities have proven to improve and maintain my health, weight, and disposition, so I have made it a mandate for myself to get up at 6 am to make sure they happen and don’t get lost in the day or my mood.
  • Dress up or dress cozy. Wear something that makes you feel good – could be a brightly colored shirt, a comfy sweater, or a pair of crazy socks.
  • Engage your senses. Make your coffee or tea special by adding a touch of flavor (don’t go crazy with a double mocha latte with whipped cream and sprinkles or the calorie guilt will set it), light a candle or incense, or move your favorite work of art (could be from your child) where you can see it.
  • Create a must-do list. Hopefully, you started the day with your to-do list or plan. If so, highlight the non-negotiables for the day to separate them from the nice-to-do’s. Today might not be the day for those. If you don’t have a list already, create one.
  • Reward yourself. Give yourself a treat for finishing the non-negotiables. Read a chapter in your latest book (currently working on Promised Land), put on your favorite song, Google and fawn over baby animals, eat a spoonful of peanut butter, phone a friend, or go for a walk.
  • Meditate. Even if it’s only for a minute. A tip I took from Ziva is to close your eyes and look at what you see behind your eyelids. It’s not the darkness you would expect but colors and movement that calms me. Or use an app like Headspace or 10% Happier if you need help getting started. Meditating gives your mind a rest and can lower your blood pressure and heart rate which may be contributing to the frame of mind.
  • Stand up. Sometimes standing vs. sitting gives you more energy or a different perspective. I highly recommend a sit/stand desk, even it is an add-on to your current setup. I invested in a Flexispot converter and love it.
  • Journal. Write how you are feeling and dig in a bit to see why. Use all of your words. You don’t just feel bad. You might feel sad, depressed, anxious, panicked, angry, or another emotion. Get specific. Sometimes it feels better just to get it down on paper (or iPad, computer, etc.).

What is missing from my list? What keeps you going when you just want to stop?

life lessons from a therapist

I just finished Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb and recommend it both for entertainment and enrichment. Thanks to my friend, Paru Radia, for turning me on to it. Here are ten of my favorite quotes and takeaways. If you read it, I’m sure you will find many other lessons that will help you in your day-to-day work and personal life.

  1. I know how affirming it feels to blame the outside world for my frustrations, to deny ownership of whatever role I might have in the existential play called My Incredibly Important Life.
    It’s so much easier to pin the blame on everyone else so that we don’t have to feel the pain, admit that we did something wrong, or hold ourselves accountable. We can’t make it better if we don’t acknowledge our part in it. I remember years ago after a failed relationship staying up all night working through the question “what was my part in it?” because I didn’t want to make the same mistakes that led me to this conclusion again. This is essential whether our part in the failure was the majority or minority causation.
  2. If you go through life picking and choosing, if you don’t recognize that “the perfect is the enemy of the good,” you may deprive yourself of joy.
    I was taught perfectionism from an early age – not on purpose, but the result was still the same. It will always be a struggle, but the fact that you are reading this is proof that I am getting better. When I remember that my purpose for the website and my posts on social is to help others, it seems selfish to hold off posting because a sentence or thought is not perfect.
  3. Most big transformations come about from the hundreds of tiny, almost imperceptible, steps we take along the way.
    Let’s say you want to change the culture at your company, transition your career into a completely different industry, or lose fifteen pounds. None of these aspirations are achievable overnight, but starting with the end in mind and tracing the small steps backwards is really the only way to reach any BHAG.
  4. When people delude themselves into believing they have all the time in the world…they get lazy.
    The context of this quote is around dying, but it applies to life, work, family, projects. Whenever the deadline is far off, we procrastinate and don’t do much work. See #3.
  5. In idiot compassion, you avoid rocking the boat to spare people’s feelings, even though the boat needs rocking and your compassion ends up being more harmful than your honesty. Its opposite is wise compassion, which means caring about the person but also giving him or her a loving truth bomb when needed.
    We all worry about how constructive feedback will go over, but it usually is welcomed when it comes from a place of compassion and empathy. I would like to see someone illustrate a “loving truth bomb”. I can’t draw, but I imagine this beautiful, colorful orb shooting out lovely scented flowers that feel like a hug when they hit you, a soothing light to prepare you to be enlightened, and maybe a small snack to give you the energy to take action.
  6. Before you speak, ask yourself, What is this going to feel like to the person I’m speaking to?
    This is the author’s suggestion for building empathy. Simple, but if we can add to our quiver of habits it could be all-powerful. If we can remember to pause, filling the space with this question will lead to the best results.
  7. Your feelings don’t have to mesh with what you think they should be. They’ll be there regardless, so you might as well welcome them because they hold important clues.
    Going back to perfectionism, denying or trying to repress our unwanted feelings will not change them. Only sitting with them, maybe in meditation, and studying them will lead us to the change we seek.
  8. The things we protest against the most are often the very things we need to look at.
    This one is so painful to do. Looking at the things that most annoy us about other people and examining if the reason why is because we do the same things in some form or fashion can be extremely cringe-worthy, but the exercise will probably make us less annoying to both ourselves and others.
  9. Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
    I’ve found that this comes with work and maturity. If you are a young person that is able to do this, I applaud you. As mentioned in #6, it’s that essential pause that we can fill with thoughtful choice instead of rushing in to get our point across, prove we are right, or impress our audience with our thoughts.
  10. ...we talk to ourselves more than we’ll talk to any other person over the course of our lives but that our words aren’t always kind or true or helpful—or even respectful.
    If we had to choose one of these habits to adopt, this one will make the biggest impact, because we can only choose empathy for others when we have it for ourselves.

If you enjoyed this book as much as I did, let me know your ah-ha moments.

i am part of the problem

All last week I was reading posts, slack chats, articles about racism and then writing down thoughts. I considered posting an article, but I worried that I would say the wrong thing or that my voice wasn’t that important. I want to give credit to the person who really started me thinking about what to do – Gillian Harding, a fellow Chief member – by her passionate posts on our Chief Slack platform. Also, to the two people responsible for convincing me to sit down, write, and then publish. First, W. Kamau Bell was a guest on the Conan show recently, and he said just do something. That it might be wrong – it probably will be, but just try something. Liliana Petrova, another Chief member, said that there were so many destructive voices out there, that it is our responsibility to add to the constructive side.

In the end, I decided that the best thing to post is a simple list of what I am doing and planning to do. There is nothing earth-shattering on this list, but it’s a start. I’m open to suggestions of things to add. Ask me how I’m doing to hold me accountable.

  1. Admit I am part of the problem. Here goes. I am racist. I have racist thoughts. I commit racist acts. It doesn’t matter if I mean to or not. I am not doing anything to fix the problem.
  2. Continue to remind myself of #1.
  3. Follow people on social media that are calling attention to the problem and working on solutions. 
  4. Read articles about things to do. See below for a few I found helpful.
  5. Actively expand my social circle and professional network to include more black people. Let me know if you want to be my friend. I’m not kidding. I’m not quite sure how to do this, but now that it’s on my list, I have to figure it out.
  6. Talk to my current circle of white people about what is happening and how we can help.
  7. Donate my time to help more black individuals professionally by helping to expand their network and coaching them based on things I have learned in the marketing, sales, and management space. This idea came from Kate Huyett, CMO of Bombas, and yet another Chief member, and I am following her lead. You can sign up for a 30-minute time slot here or contact me at thewandarerblog@gmail.com.
  8. Find out more about what is happening in my neighborhood – things like what are the stats on police accountability, what are my elected officials doing to promote diversity and reduce racism, does my neighborhood improvement have any diversity initiatives. I don’t know if these are the right data points. I’m open to suggestions on other topics on which I should educate myself.
  9. Read more books about black culture and history. I started this a while ago, but now I am adding that I will find an action I can take from each one. You can find some of the ones that I found both beautiful and helpful in giving me a different perspective here.
  10. Revisit this list in a month to check my progress and add more items.

Articles I Found Helpful
Dear White People: Here Are 10 Actions You Can Take To Promote Racial Justice In The WorkplaceForbes

If you’re a white person wondering what to do during the George Floyd protests, I have some advice, The Independent

Becoming Trustworthy White Allies Yale University Reflections

Updates

1.23.21 Month 8. Looks like I missed a month. Yikes! The anti-racism project is a little behind too, but we’re in beta-testing mode right now. Next update and the launch will be in February.

11.28.20 Month 6. I’m a little late this month, but a lot has been going on. My poll monitoring experience was very rewarding, helping to make sure everyone who wanted to could cast their vote. It’s amazing how difficult we make it for people to vote in our country. Just finding your correct polling location (which may be different for early voting and election day) can be daunting, but I was inspired by the elderly voters who were willing to walk the extra few blocks and stand in line to make sure they were counted. I’ve spent many hours over the last few months on a secret anti-racism project that should launch by year-end. Stay tuned for an update in December.

10.4.20 Month 5. Successful voter letter-writing happy hour – mailing the letters on 10/17 to remind people to vote. Here is the website if you are interested in participating: Votefwd.org. I’ve applied to be a poll worker, and if that doesn’t work out, I’ll volunteer as an election protectionist through Common Cause – either way, my goal is to make sure everyone has the opportunity to vote and a good voting experience.

9.6.20 Month 4. Starting the book Caste for a book discussion in a couple of weeks. Have heard great things about it. Also working on a plan to help with voting – putting together a happy hour to write letters letting people know they can vote by mail and looking into volunteering in PA on Election Day. Haven’t figured this part out yet, so let me know if you have organizations that are working to encourage voter turnout in PA.

8.12.20 Month 3. My book circle has been insightful, helpful and amazing! We hold our last meeting in two weeks and have agreed to continue to challenge and support each other as we continue our education and efforts. I was blown away and heart broken by the book Just Mercy and am researching how to get more involved through the EJI website. As one of our circle group members pointed out last night, making sure everyone votes and is counted is the most pressing need, so I am committing to that first, and then move to EJI. Still not enough, but this is my update.

7.5.20 It’s been almost a month, so here is my promised update. My focus has been mostly on education, which I believe was the right way to begin. Changing my mindset includes changing the things I see everyday, so I have added Instagram follows including @ckyourprivilege, @laylafsaad, @ibramxk, @violadavis, @kamalaharris, @naacp, @wkamaubell, @civilrightsorg, @colorofchange, @obamafoundation, and @privtoprog. Let me know if you have other favorites. I finished the book Me and White Supremacy and have organized two book circles, beginning tomorrow, to challenge me and other white women to learn and take action. I held a call with a job-seeker who found me through the Pay it Forward program and hope it was helpful for her. Next is working through this list that was recommended to me – lots of reading and and ideas for action. Be back next month with an update and more resources for those on a similar journey.

6.12.20 I’m currently reading and working through Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and highly recommend it for the education and thought starters.

wanda the movie

I’ll admit that the main reason I wanted to see this movie is that it is my namesake. As a 46-year-old woman named Wanda, I asked my parents how they came up with my name. They have always said they just liked it, and I have had no clue as to the origin until now. I received an email from the Alamo Drafthouse, our cinema of choice, advertising the movie Wanda. Not A Fish Called Wanda, just Wanda. The film was from 1970, just 2 years before I was born, so maybe there is a connection.

Regardless of the initial reasoning, viewing this film was the right choice. Props to Barbara Loden as the writer, director, and lead actor. The picture delivers beautifully framed shots, compelling personalities, and an engaging plot. Wanda is not a character most people would respect for her brains or her ethics, although she has a pretty face (see below – isn’t she beautiful?!?). Born in a coal town and willing to leave her children in an uncontested divorce because she believes “they will be better with him”, she finds two more paramours before the night is out and begins her adventure.

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I won’t give away the ending, but you come to love the child-like innocence that is Wanda and root for her to rise from the ashes of her birth. It not likely the movie Wanda had anything to do with my naming, but I’m glad the title enticed me out to Brooklyn to see this masterpiece.

staycation 2018: day 4

Day 4 evolved into an Asian theme beginning with a viewing of Crazy Rich Asians at the Alamo Drafthouse. We love this place because we can have a beer or cider with our popcorn and movie. We don’t normally order the other food items, but branched out today since we needed a little more than popcorn. They were about what we expected for movie theatre fare – decent queso with slightly stale tortilla chips, overly gingered pork dumplings (a featured snack to go with the film), and the standard popcorn. The movie was an adorable rom-com that drew a couple of tears out of me at the pivotal plane scene (that’s all I will say to avoid spoilers). The all-Asian cast did an amazing job giving us a peek into a world in which most of us have no experience. I felt transported to Singapore with the stunning scenery and into the world of the rich with the exquisite outfits.

This pooch kept trying to back into my bathroom stall after the movie. It just seemed like a strange thing to see, so here is the documentation for your viewing pleasure.

dog alamo drafthouse crazy rich asians brooklyn

We had an hour to kill before our planned sake tasting at Chambers Street Wine, so we perused the elegant Japanese dining accessories at Korin. leaving with two sets of chopsticks and a sake set. This still didn’t take up enough time, so we decided to find a happy hour. Our first stop was Serafina, but neither the menu nor the hospitality at the bar seemed inviting. We bolted and headed to Two Hands, an Australian cafe on my to-try list. Two Aperol spritz’s later, and I was gazing out of the window while Derek went to get the check. Something about the scene reminded me how crazy it is and how lucky I am to live in NYC. Nothing spectacular in my view – just a sense of being in a city of greatness. You forget as you continue through daily life, but moments like this bring you back to what you are truly grateful. Also, I love the neon signs in the Two Hands bathrooms and the glow they emanate under the door as the only clue as to which door you should open.

At Chambers Street Wine, a store with unique and wonderful wine options, we tried two sakes. Both were delectable, but the second one was unlike any other we had tried.  It tasted like the essence of a strawberry blossom – slightly sweet and flowery. We stopped by Tomoe and grabbed the sushi and sashimi platter and a seaweed salad to enjoy at home. The generous and delicious fish was even better when we could cut it into smaller, more manageable bites, and we were able to savor an amazing bottle of sake for around the same cost as a generic carafe if we had dined-in at the restaurant.

chambers street wine sake

After watching two episodes of The Affair, we decided to embark on one of our treasured adventures we call second dinner. This just means we were still a bit hungry and allowed ourselves to splurge on spaghetti and meatballs and red wine at the Italian place next door. We would be gigantic if we did this all of the time, but it’s staycation. We came back and watched the season four finale. I can’t believe what happened, but I won’t elaborate on it here since you may not have seen it yet.

staycation 2018: day 2

I’ve been dying to try Korean BBQ in Murray Hill Queens, so it seemed a natural choice for day two of our staycation. An easy 20-minute ride from Penn Station and a walk across the street gets you to Mapo BBQ. Make sure to show up hungry, because the dishes do not stop. It’s not easy to order only one entree. I hear it is possible, but we always end up getting pressured into buying one per person. There were nine different banchan sides – the classic kimchee, two types of seaweed, potatoes, potato salad, pot roast, tofu, broccoli, and salad. Lettuce, marinated onions, bean paste, and a sesame oil salt and pepper sauce were delivered to the table to make wraps. The beef is grilled over hot charcoal right next to you. And the steaming hot dishes keep coming – a fluffy egg in broth, sweet corn kernels, and a spicy tofu hot pot. We had way too much food but wanted to experience everything, so we also ordered the mul naeng myu, icy cold buckwheat noodles in a beefy, vinegary broth. Once is enough for us with this dish. The quality of the meat was impressive, and the coals provide a deeper flavor than the electric grills you find in Manhattan, but we will probably not venture out very often for this feast (especially since it the round trip costs $15 per person and trains only run every hour).

Next on the agenda the Color Factory, a travelling interactive exhibit. Celebrating color as well as serving up perfect instagrammable moments snapped by strategically-placed, QR code-triggered cameras, the project was an ideal outing for us. We never take photos, so it was helpful that the venue took them for us. The shot where I am drowning (I really could not get the orbs out of my face!) in the balls just may make it to our holiday card, which has a tradition of featuring quirky photographs. Bring your sweet tooth, because there are various treats throughout the rooms – mochi ice cream, macaroons, candies, raspberry soda, and gelato.

For a little snack before the play, we ran by Sake Bar Hagi 46, a Japanese izakaya in the Theatre District. Staying the course with our standbys, the fried squid legs, takoyaki (octopus balls), and veggie yakitori, we also ventured out by ordering the sautéed mushrooms. They were good, but I agree with Derek’s assessment that they would be improved with some salt or marinade and a bit of a char on them.

On to Broadway. Mean Girls took the best parts of the movie and updated for the stage and today’s top issues. Just a quick plug for the lotteries – try and keep trying for the ones that seem interesting. I won tickets to Shakespeare in the Park on my first try, but this one took a while. If you are like us – enjoy a play here and there, but are not die-hard fans, it’s worth the wait (and minutes it takes to enter – still keeping fingers crossed for Hamilton!). Also, don’t miss the double sippy wine cups. Although, after drinking three-quarters of one I was dying to go to the bathroom at intermission. If you are counting the minutes until waiting in the ladies’ room line, know that intermission comes past the halfway mark – not as expected at the end of the vengeance song. Keep holding – the good news is that the line moves quickly. Our tickets were in the front row, which I would recommend trying at least once. You are able to see what’s really going on in the orchestra (the conductor was adorable), the wigs, the pantyhose that creep up below the midriff tops, and the funny forehead microphones.

staycation 2018: day 1

What better way to shake off the stress of work and jumpstart the relaxation than a massage? We found a new place that is known as a go-to for fitness pros – Fishion Therapy Center. Nestled in the middle of Chinatown, it is not fancy, and pain is promised, but the use of acupressure, scraping, and other methods find your trouble spots and release the tension. I love the sign that says “legitimate massage only”. The best part – it’s only $68 for 90 minutes. Derek was quite red in spots after his session, and I feel loose as a goose after mine. Definitely expecting to sleep well tonight, but may have some soreness tomorrow.

The day actually started with a trip to Sadelle’s to grab a bagel breakfast, but we were disappointed to find that their to-go counter was closed due to an absent employee. Strange that a restaurant can’t figure out how to sell a few bagels using the staff in attendance. We found a suitable alternative at Olive’s, so it didn’t ruin the staycation. Also, an exciting twist – we won the Mean Girls lottery for tomorrow night, and our seats are front and center.

Next on the agenda was a trip to Despaña, which you already know is beloved to us. We picked up a bottle of orange wine at the adjacent sister wine store before ordering an assortment of tapas for a late lunch. The chorizo tortilla, lentil salad, bonito and boquerones sandwich, olives, and black sausage dishes were all satisfying and paired perfectly with the wine. We didn’t notice the gazpacho on the menu until later but decided to grab one to have for dinner with our leftovers.

Strolled into The Laundress for some fancy detergent for our sheets to deepen the relaxation at bedtime. Lovely people and lovely products. They even had detergents featuring our two prized La Labo fragrances – Rose 31 and Santal 33. We settled on the classic with a lavender scent. Can’t wait to try them out!

Our final stop of the day was to Jimmy at the James rooftop pool bar. I’ve been wanting to wear my swimsuit and take a plunge in the pool while sipping a cocktail all summer but didn’t want to waste the money on an all-day pass for an hour of dipping. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the description from the hotel website and multiple other online reviews of the venue. Yes, the rooftop is open to non-hotel guests beginning at 5 pm, but no, the pool is not open. The “pool party” I was expecting apparently only happens on the weekends. We had two expensive and subpar beverages and then hightailed it off the rooftop.

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Jimmy at the James rooftop – not pool

Finished the day off with our Spanish leftovers while catching up on Sharp Objects and The Affair. Great start to the staycation.

 

looking back to the beginning

As Derek and I revamped the design of the site yesterday, adding thewandarer.com domain, and upgrading my WordPress account, we also found my original Blogger account and my very first blog post. Since it tells the story of why I began blogging, it seemed fitting to post again here.

This is my first blog entry, so I’m not really sure what to write. I was googling “club monaco alterations” to find out if it was really free to have my pants altered at Club Monaco, and I ended up at a blog created by a sub-5 feet girl who took the time to talk about the things she liked. The information was exactly what I needed and saved me a trip to the mall, so I impulsively clicked back to my gmail account, clicked on blogs and here I am. I would guess this blog will end up covering some of favorite things (like good food or good organizing tools), some of my frustrations (my job and finding decent clothes that don’t cost a fortune), some of my husband’s strange wonderfulness (like his addiction to the Tour de France and selvedge jeans) and various other ramblings. Derek came up with the name, and originally I didn’t like it, but I typed it in and thought it was cool enough to keep.

what i’ve learned from nyc so far

Has it been a big change moving from Atlanta to NYC? I guess it has to be, but it never really felt abrupt – more like a smooth transition. There are definitely things that you don’t know until you arrive in the city, and here is what I have learned so far.

  1. Don’t follow someone across the street. Sometimes being a few steps ahead makes all the difference between crossing unscathed or getting taken out.
  2. Medium-sized handbags are pretty much useless. I am either rocking a tote with everything I’m going to need for the day – extra shoes, lunch, notebook, etc., or I’m just going out on the town with a clutch or small crossbody.
  3. Everybody eats late here – 1:00 lunch is pretty much the norm. It’s actually nice if you are starving at 11:30 or noon since lines are non-existent.
  4. I can eat more because I walk so much. Yes!!
  5. Everyone in NYC is not sophisticated or well-dressed. There are rednecks and bad dressers and boring people just like everywhere else.
  6. On any given weekend, you can find a street festival, and usually one celebrating another culture.
  7. You can hear car horns and even people talking 26 stories up – through closed windows.

I’m sure there will be more as I go. What have you learned from the city?

read the fine print

I’m a little frustrated because I just received a pop-up from Comcast Xfinity that I had utilized 90% of my data usage for the month. The frustration comes from the fact that I didn’t know that I had a data cap. My husband and I decided to switch back to Comcast last month after several years with AT&T in order to have faster internet speeds. It was not clear that we would be subject to a data usage plan of 300 GB when perusing TV/Internet plans on their website, and the representative who helped us sign up never mentioned the fact that we would be charged extra for going over this amount. After research, it appears that this is a “trial” in certain markets, and we happen to be in one of these areas.

We are still happy with the performance (after 3 separate visits from Comcast technical associates, including the installation of new cable lines) and will save money over the next 2 years (unless we go crazy with our usage), but feel like Comcast was a little shady in their advertising and sign-up process. As a marketer, I’m disappointed in the lack of transparency. Shame on us for not researching this or clicking on every fine print link, but at least we’ll point it out for other people to go in with their eyes open.