Monday, June 27, 2011


When one is a cranky lady, small things help.

For example, last week Thursday I just could not do it anymore. You ever feel like this? You're done. You're afraid to be around people any longer because you might end up saying something in your cranky, too-tired, stressed state that you actually don't mean at all. You might get too emotional and your boy roommate might think that you are actually sick and offer to make you soup...well that is if you have soup because he does not. You might cry later that night because you are so tired and just need some time to sleep and don't really have it. You might do all of these things. And then you'll pick yourself up because that's what we do.

We as people. We move on. We gather oxygen in our lungs and breathe out deeply and remember that little things add up, but we can deal with them. And when we deal with them, things are okay again. Maybe the only thing that you can do to deal with whatever else is on your mind is finishing a project you told yourself you would do last September. This is what I did. And I cannot even begin to talk about how much happier I am now that that silly project is completed. It's launched me into a state where I'm excited to continue on. It's the beginning. It's a perfect way to move on, by finishing something I told myself I would do.

It was a project that truly only benefits me. No one else. But I had a friend by my side, fantastic conversation, and just the right attitude to make things happen. I think for the next month, that will be my motto: Make Things Happen.

So watch out. Feel free to join. Make Things Happen. Today.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The 10-year plan.

Last December I met a partner in a top law firm in Minneapolis. While I did not know her job status at that point, I was already intimidated by her matter-of-fact way of speaking and how she challenged everyone in the room. I was the new person. The fresh meat. The one who sat with her head down, just like in school when you hadn’t quite gotten all the reading done and hope that your teacher doesn’t call on you, when of course they are actually looking for the person with their head down. I was the meek one. She was the cobra.

A few weeks ago, I ended up grabbing a drink with this woman. She is someone who expects a lot out of you. She wanted to know what my goal is 10 years down the road, while also forcefully reinsuring me that I am young and shouldn’t have everything planned out. I was thinking about this today, about how hypocritical that is. The fact that she asked me what the big goal was in one breath and was I going back to school and if so where and would I still work or would I put all my time into school and how would I pay for that? And when I made up a plan that sounded like something I might think about doing one day, she told me in her very next breath not to have it all planned out yet because you never know where life will take you. That you should want to travel and be free enough to take a job in a new city. That you need to have connections everywhere and keep fostering them. Saying what every adult figure in my life has always told me but in her own unique, forceful way. Her east-coast way. Her direct, un-“Minnesota Nice” way.

I left that outing a bit worse for the wear. My heart was beating, skin prickling, mind whirring. What was my 10-year plan? I have a friend who is incredibly good at this. At planning things out, every month, to make sure that what needs to be done gets done with enough time measured in for happy hours and impromptu get-togethers. Who knows what is going on every weekend, because most of them are planned. (If they are not it is only a matter of time.)

I’m a planner, but when I’m planning too much, too often, I get incredibly stuck. I feel like I’m trapped. Suffocated. I’ve started telling my friends that I will be disappearing in July (which is semi-true) solely because I know I already have a few weeks of that month planned out and know I’ll need spontaneity in there. Planning for spontaneity? Yes. That sums up what I believe in best. I hope for adventure while living with my feet on the ground.

I think what impresses me most about the first woman is the fact that she is totally open with her love life. She is a lady in the middle of her life and she calls her boys, lovers. Right now, though, she has a boyfriend. This is big. They are both too busy to actually have what us Midwesterners would deem a “normal” relationship, one where you see your significant other at least every other day. But she has planned time with him, and that is what she wants. I want more. As much as I want to foster the relationship I have with her, I also want to know what she did or didn’t do that led her to this point in her life. I’m surrounded by young 20-somethings getting married every weekend. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, but that is not what I want right now. Open bar and cute groomsmen, yes. Lifelong commitment and buying a house? No, thank you.

The independent streak in me is running rampant right now. Because of this, and because of my hectic, fantastic, work-filled July, I am planning out August to include a few plane rides and adventures. When I change my scenery I also typically figure out what my next move will be. Here’s to the unknown. Here’s to the next 10 years.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy thoughts.

*I got to hang out with so many fun people this weekend, many of whom came to me and my roommate's bbq!

*In about three weeks, I'll actually be at the camp I keep talking about.

*Today, one of my best friends called me and we talked for over an hour. We rarely get to talk or see one another, and it was really fantastic to catch up.

*I chatted with my dad and mom. Last night they saw the Beach Boys in concert and John Stamos made a special appearance!

*I got to go out to brunch with really good friends both Saturday AND Sunday this weekend. It's one of my favorite things to do in the cities!

*I picked the first strawberries from our garden!

*And last, but certainly not least, yesterday I was asked to be the Maid of Honor at my beautiful friend's wedding! I'm really excited for it!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Sometimes I forget that people are not passionate about their jobs.

As in, I actually forget that people wake up every day and go into work, maybe interacting with a few coworkers, and then go home, leaving everything at the office. I've never had that. I'm not sure I'd ever want that.

Instead, I wake up at 2:00am thinking about the color of t-shirts I want to order for camp and what I have left to do regarding scheduling speakers for the 350+ students who I will be in charge of one day soon. I stay up at night going over a speech I'm giving to future volunteers and making sure I look mature enough for my age. (Many of our volunteers are my parents' ages. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that - in fact I find it awesome - but I've encountered a few situations where my age came up. For example, when I was presenting in classrooms I would chat with the students as I was waiting for the teacher. Multiple times I was mistaken for a high school student myself. They always would say things like "Well, you just fit right in!")

I find that many people in the blogging world are also very passionate about their work. From opening small businesses in the Etsy sense or in the brick and mortar sense, to being teachers, to graphic designers. They all find joy in what they are doing. It's really refreshing to see and to know how passionate people can be about what they do each day.

Do you have this? Are you someone who wakes up each morning, passionate about what is coming up at work? Or, do you focus that energy on hobbies and have a day job that maybe isn't exactly what you want to be doing? I think that in this economy it's difficult to have the job you might want, especially at the wage you might need it to be.

The writing exercise I've been taking part in has been bringing up a lot of questions in my mind, including the overarching theme of: What do you want to be doing? and What are you doing to get there? Right now I truly want to be putting on the most fantastic camp for high school students. It's exciting to me that I am actually getting paid to do this! What's been the most exciting thing for you professionally lately?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Alternative Paths.

When good is near you, when you have life in yourself, it is not by any known or accustomed way; you shall not discern the foot-prints of any other; you shall not see the face of man; you shall not hear any name; the way, the thought, the good, shall be wholly strange and new. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them.
(Author: Jonathan Fields)

In the recent future, I feel that my ambition is not necessarily “blind” in order to get to one goal as quickly as possible, but “blind” in the fact that as much as I’ve been trying to plan things out, that is just not the way it will end up going.

I’ve had to do a lot of regrouping and reorganizing and pushing things back and rescheduling and saying no to a few friend outings because I simply needed to lay in my bed and do nothing for 20 minutes. Sorry friends.

I think that one of the best parts of working in a nonprofit is the fact that you never know what will come up or what you might be called upon to do the next day. This is also one of the worst parts. I mentioned awhile back that I went to a class called “Achieve Your Highest Priorities.” A very large chunk of this class was teaching us how to, very specifically, plan out our lives. Using a planner, setting big goals, understanding that email takes up a large chunk of time, etc. I honestly tried to use this system for 2-3 weeks. Every single day that I went back to it and was really excited about having planned out my day and “this was the day this is going to work!”, something went incredibly awry. Like people leaving because of a family emergency and me needing to step in awry. Like last minute calls for sponsorships that takes the entire morning awry. Like “hey I thought I sent you this email but actually I didn’t include you and a firm deadline for everyone’s extra information needs to be in the online system by tomorrow…system down right now but should be up in a couple hours” awry.

This is not due to me not planning. This is a larger power working against me. I’ve been trying to go with it, keep a positive attitude, etc. but it is starting to get incredibly hard. Like the state of Minnesota isthreatening to shut down causing for us to have no support on campus our first week of camp – hard. This is not a joke; this is a reality we are currently facing.

Don’t get me wrong, I expect little road bumps. I expect obstacles. But when do they stop?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Five Years.

There will be an agreement in whatever variety of actions, so they be each honest and natural in their hour. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What would you say to the person you were five years ago? What will you say to the person you’ll be in five years?
(Author: Corbett Barr)

How fitting is this? I’m heading home at the end of June for my 5-year high school reunion!

Dear 18-year-old Janae,


Remember that time when you made a “List of things to do before I’m 22?” Do it. Okay, you don’t have to do that one. You know the one. But the rest: DO THEM. You will be forever changed and enlightened.

Take risks. It’s okay if you settle on a college based on the weather on the day you visited, but then remember, REMEMBER, that if that was your choice, it’s also okay to realize it was the wrong one and to change it for the better.

Be brave. You are about to embark on a new chapter of your life: college. There will be lonely nights. There will be crying. There will be drama. There will be new friends. There will be an epic prank war. There will be hope. There will be enlightenment. There will be inspiration. There will be stupid moments. There will be things you’ve never dreamed of. You will travel. You will find a purpose. You will start living in a way that makes you feel good; socially responsible, informed, connected.

Remember that you have to get through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. This too shall pass.

And finally, start learning to say “no” to some things. It’s hard, I know. You want to be included and you are so excited about new clubs and being involved. You will burn out. You will not sleep. You will start scaring your friends with your crazy, too-tired antics. Sleep, water, exercise. Repeat this to yourself each day!

Good luck,
Janae at 23

Dear 28-year-old Janae,

GIRL, you look good.

I hope you figured out that whole turning-on-the-grill-and-getting-it-to-the-correct-temperature thing. That was embarrassing.

Where are you living these days? I cannot imagine you are living with two boys. Well, unless they are YOUR two boys. Hmm…that’s odd to think about.

Also, I hope you’ve started eating something other than sandwiches and lean cuisines for lunch. Probably not, though.

I truly do hope you’ve mastered the front crawl. Like, actually putting your face in the water and not just doing the arm movements, mastered. That’d be neat. Maybe you even invested in a pair of swim goggles! Man, what a star.

For real, though, I hope you are happy and loving life. I hope you’ve learned to choose a few things to do really well instead of trying to do it all. I hope you have continued baking and making new friendships and being open-minded. I hope you’ve never stopped learning or traveling. And I truly hope you’ve now been to Coachella. At least once.

I don’t know where these five years went, but I’m sure they were a ride!

Have fun and laugh always,
Janae at 23