Make the trip

2013 August 16
by Grace Boyle

FREEDOM IS FOR FRIENDS, AND FRIENDS ARE EVERYTHING. MAKE THE TRIP. -Danielle LaPorte

One of my favorite writers, Danielle LaPorte’s recent blog posts titled, “Your friends, your freedom, and getting off your ass for Love,” is a zinger. Hit right to the heart.

As each year goes by, it seems our lives become more compartmentalized. Work usually gets more intense, there are marriages, moving, buying houses, babies and well, priorities change. There is just less time for the things that aren’t in your day-to-day schedule, that perhaps aren’t mandatory.

In Danielle’s story, she recalls the few times of regret in her life were the times she missed out on time with friends. For me, friends are family and when we get caught up, those trips and time together become even more important. As my family-friends are scattered around the country (and world) I always know that the experience is something I would way more purchase than a physical item.

Last Summer when one of my best friends’ fiance died suddenly, without even needing to think about the decision, those of us from afar (Colorado, California, Australia), booked one way tickets home to be with her and to help pick up the pieces. I stayed at home with her and family for nine days. Nine days that when you have a full-time job, freelance work, a dog, a boyfriend, a life, a vacation planned over some of this time – is a lot. But I didn’t care. It was innate and the exact right thing to do. I cannot imagine not doing that. The part that also holds true, is without a doubt, she and the rest of our friends, would have done the same if the situation was reverse.

Life is filled with inconveniences and time, is of the essence. Time is also, extremely valuable. But time spent for and with those incredible friends, it is never lost or unworthy.

As life becomes busier and I become a bit more tired by my “adult” responsibilities, one thing doesn’t change, wanting to spend quality time with those kin friends (and family for that matter). At a time when making friends in your 30’s may be more difficult, cultivating and cherishing those friendships you’ve had for years, or perhaps your whole life, becomes even more vital.

Although circumstances and finances may not always allow for jet setting around, there are always ways to make the effort and to stay together.

I have a Southwest credit card to earn miles, might as well earn points while I’m spending money daily. On work trips, even though they’re often very rushed, I always rearrange my schedule to see a friend for dinner or in between meetings (it’s worth it). I plan ahead, think about timing and make sure to put the effort into planning for group trips, or coordinating when we’re all headed home. Just recently, I flew home to Iowa to see that very friend. There was no real reason, I just felt seeing my parents and close friends was due, and I did some rearranging. It is money so worth the spend. And that money spent on the somewhat more expensive flight than normal, I don’t miss it.

It is your choice after all regarding where your energy and time is spent. Cheers, my friends. Here’s to getting off our ass for love.

When it clicks

2013 June 23
by Grace Boyle

I’ve noticed when I’m trying to accomplish something challenging, for the time being, it seems unattainable.

For me, it’s often math or numbers I’m trying to crunch for budget or goal planning at work, sometimes it’s a physical feat or activity I want to crush but can’t get it right, sometimes it’s the very words for a blog post that laugh back at me as the cursor blinks ominously and sometimes it’s a mental lapse where I simply cannot express what I need and want to say.

Those times are frustrating. Although I believe very much in the power of intention and thought, I often simply cannot fathom doing what I need or want to accomplish. I say, “How am I going to get this? I’m literally stumped. I can’t imagine every doing X.” It’s not that I don’t believe myself either, it’s just that it seems literally impossible in the moment.

It’s not a good feeling.

Yet, we all go through it. It actually has to happen before the click can.

double-undersThe other day I was struggling through a warm-up at Crossfit that involved double-unders, gearing up for the workout (WOD). Double-unders involve getting the rope under your feet twice each time you jump in the air and require agility and focus.

Great.

While practicing, I realized I was getting a little better than last time. I realized I could modify the workout (a great thing about Crossfit) to get those double-unders but in a smaller amount than the total required (e.g. instead of 50, I did 25 and next round 15 instead of 30 and so forth). I always did singles in jump-rope WOD’s but realized, if I didn’t try double-unders in a real WOD, I would never get to doing them period. So I went with it. And that itself, was a step forward knowing I was signing up for more of a challenge.

I was the last to finish.

It required a lot more concentration and I was extremely frustrated the entire time (not unusual). However, when I finished I realized I got 5 double-unders in a row (my most in a row) and accomplished well over 55 double-unders (this was just a component of the workout).

I got through it doing a few in a row, messed up, then started again, did one, then a few singles, then one again – slow but steady and really awkward.

As I left to go home, I had a bit of an epiphany.

A few months ago, I couldn’t even do one double-under. It’s a long process. But I realized that all of a sudden when you get it, it just clicks. You go from not able, to able, and it can be in a moment of seconds.

Although I didn’t have full actualization of completing this physically and mentally difficult activity, I got a step closer and that step closer made me realize that clicking feeling was not too far off.

Have you ever had it click just right? It doesn’t come easily and it doesn’t come without hard work, but when it clicks, it just clicks.

General (Business) Etiquette

2013 June 20
by Grace Boyle

These are just a few random rumblings that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time now. I know we all have different values and needs, but I find it somewhat outlandish when people just “assume” all the above and don’t consider others in the process.

  • Before making an introduction between two people, ask that person who is the “helper” FIRST. This is the opt-in process. The, “Want to make sure you’re cool with this” and/or “Have the time and capacity to help this person/potentially a stranger to you?” It’s a common courtesy. It also gives them the heads up and context. A cold introduction between two people catches the “helper” off guard and obligates them or puts them in an uncomfortable place. I’m sure it happens innocently and it’s out of the goodness of wanting to help, but considering the other person’s time, bandwidth and potentially how many times a week they may get these “intros for help” is important.
  • Related – When/if you are asking for help from someone and you schedule something like to meet for drinks, coffee, etc. it is thoughtful and just to offer to pay for said drink/coffee. They’re taking time out of their busy day, to speak with you and offer you guidance or help (for free). Honestly, even if it was my best friend helping me I would offer to buy her coffee because it’s a give and take mentality and especially if it were a stranger that was doing it out of the goodness of their heart. It’s the least you can do for this person. It’s just good to do.
  • Be clear in what you’re asking for. This doesn’t have to do with the above mentioned, but does relate. Whether you’re pitching people, asking for help, etc. the call to action should be clear. Sometimes I find myself bumbling along and not being clear in what I need. That not only screws me, but the other person I am asking doesn’t have a clear line of action to follow. Being succinct, also helps.
  • Hold the door. I don’t care how much of a rush you’re in, it simply won’t hurt you to hold back a bit and hold open the door for the person behind you. It’s such a simple gesture, but in this day and age, it doesn’t hurt to look out for one another. Start with the simple pieces, hold the door so it doesn’t slam in their face as you scurry on your way.
  • Putting someone on an e-mail list they didn’t somehow opt into (there are some fine lines here in the business world) but what’s worse, is NOT having an unsubscribe button. There are a number of just straight emails where I’m BCC’d and I’m on a list. I was never asked to be on that group personal email list but it’s weird to respond to that person and ask them to remove me from their list because they are a friend, I’m just not their target or I’m trying to clean up my inbox. Nothing personal. Please have an unsubscribe or easy opt-in in all e-mail communication. It’s common courtesy and a best practice in marketing. Also, when you unsubscribe and they tell you it is “being processed” then a few days later you get another email from them, is no bueno.
  • Be on time. Should I say more? Probably not. Usually a good idea to be on time for meetings or calls.
  • Don’t have a meeting for the sake of meeting. I think so much can be accomplished without long, droning on meetings. They are necessary to gather the right people, but can be succinct and finalized, so everyone can actually do instead of sitting around. A day filled with meetings gets you nowhere.

I don’t mean to complain, but they’re just things I feel strongly about. Sigh.

What about you? What are your general etiquette musts?

 

Up and away

2013 May 23
by Grace Boyle

Today, two close friends and really, the best neighbors we’ve ever had, moved from Boulder.

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We’ve come to love our apartment complex with our community that has been cultivated, neighbors, our dogs, our gardens, the creek that runs alongside us and the few blocks it is from downtown. But really, my 1970’s oven isn’t what makes it special, it’s the people.

We’ve been lucky to have wonderful neighbors there, where we have each others’ keys, we let each others’ dogs out if we’re in a pinch, we share meals on our porches and you can borrow anything from toilet paper (yep) to butter.

And these neighbors that are leaving, were directly next to us. Our dogs were best friends (maybe they were dating too), we stumbled out on the porch on hungover Saturday mornings to make eggs and bacon while our dogs ran around in the yard in front of us with too much energy, we’ve laughed more times than I can remember, we’ve had countless meals (we call them the five hour meal on Sunday afternoon) and generally, they’re just kind people that we’re sad to lose.

I’ve now been in Boulder for almost five years. I moved on a whim in 2008 on my own, with no job, no apartment and no idea what I was going to do next. Life has unfolded in a crazy, beautiful way since then.

One thing I’ve noticed, as we’re nearing our 30’s many of us are still hopping around from state to state, to country to country. Most of my closest friends have all moved from Boulder. Perhaps it’s because it’s a transient city, perhaps because it attracts seekers, perhaps it’s because those are the type of friends and people I love to surround myself with.

The: there-is-always-something-more-let-me-explore-do-it-up people.

I’m one of those.

But I still love Boulder. I’m happy here. But I’m sad. So many friends are dispersed across the world. I guess it’s wishful thinking we could all stay together. But my Boulder family and friends, has mostly up and left. Few are remaining from my original friends and although I feel as though I know so many people and have many lines and walks of groups here, today I feel sad. A little hollow.

I know that people come and go from our lives and we also change, but I do know that certain people will remain even if they’re not physically present. Holding on doesn’t do anyone any good, but there is a part of me that wishes I could at times…

Is it unrealistic to think your close friends you see will just always be there in the same place? We move so often these days it just doesn’t seem plausible especially with my generation.

How do you cope with moving and changes throughout your 20’s? Do you find constant in friendships or know that they’re always adjusting?

5 Things I’m Loving Right Now

2013 April 25
by Grace Boyle
  1. Sorry, I can’t help but giggle whenever I watch this ad.
  2. I’m so intrigued by this article of 40 inspiring workspaces of the famously creative. Some are drab and dirty, some are epic and beautiful and it really speaks to who that person was. I particularly love Nigella Lawson’s (food writer) space filled with books shelves that are sky high!
  3. My Ginger Essence fragrance from Origin. This is incredibly soothing, but has this burst of ginger flavor that is sweet and not sharp as it might be if you sniffed ginger root itself. Everyone always asks me what it is and I’ve never enjoyed smelling my wrists so much.
  4. My dear friend Rebecca’s new blog, Bourbon Beauty which uncovers all of her beauty, health and wellness tips, products and secrets. I’m not joking, that I’ve ordered almost everything she has mentioned on the blog and loved every product I’ve ordered. She is so committed to natural and wellness that I trust her judgment so much. I’m sure you will too.
  5. Egg, Avocado and Toast. Finally, The Man and I have started making breakfast a little more regularly before we both jet off to work in the morning. With me doing Crossfit and him at Jiujitsu so regularly, skipping breakfast isn’t a good option. We’ve found a breakfast we love that is healthy, but quick. It’s two eggs (runny, scrambled, fried hard, etc.), over whole wheat toast that has avocado smoothed across it. I like a little siracha on top, too. I get that protein from the egg, the good fats from the avocado and it’s done in 6 bites. Simple, but I crave it every morning now.

Solo Birthday

2013 March 17
by Grace Boyle

Over the years here at SHBI, I usually post something about my birthday (here in 2011, here in 2012). It’s largely because I view my birthday as the beginning of the new year. It’s a time to intention set, look back and look forward. I feel it’s very auspicious and special.

My mom muses that I have always cried on my birthday since I was a baby. Sometimes it’s tears of joy, tears of gratitude, tears of frustration, tears of emotion or just tears of fear (AKA when I was 4 and my dad dressed up as a bear and walked up from the basement and we all screamed and ran away crying, wasn’t the best idea pops).

 In 2011, I jokingly tell the story of our new puppy Cerna getting too excited and eating too many scraps that fell on the ground at our party, so he threw up all over my friend’s brand new white shoes (twice). I burst into tears because I was trying to control the situation and ensure everyone was happy instead of just laughing, rubbing the pup’s belly and washing my friends shoes. Because really, shit happens. Looking back, it’s hilarious. It’s good to have perspective.

This year, on my 27th birthday, I was traveling for business. I was in the Boston area (where The Man is from) so instead of moping he recommended an incredible Cambodian / French fusion restaurant (The Elephant Walk).

On the night of March 13th, my birthday, I had traveled all day and had a big meeting / training to prep for the next day, but I wasn’t going to stay alone in my hotel room. I wanted to follow through on my plan.

If I back up a bit, I was going to see one of my closet girlfriends and roommates from college that night, but she had a work event she couldn’t get out of last minute. I do have a handful of friends / acquaintances in the Boston area, but after my girlfriend that I always see when we’re there couldn’t make it, it sounded silly to start going through the rolodex and asking who could “take me out” for my birthday. When it came down to it, I didn’t “need” that and I had a small window to go out so just decided to keep it simple.

Dinner was wonderful. I sat at the bar alongside two other travelers, so I wasn’t the only one flying solo. I eat alone a lot. To me, it’s pretty simple and enjoyable. There is something a bit different about your birthday alone, because society thinks it’s something different.

I was quiet about my birthday that night and even when I was carded for the glass of wine I ordered, the bartender missed it. One of my dearest friends knew I was solo and a bit nervous about it, so at the end of my meal, out came a piece of cake with a lit candle in it. She called in and surprised me. I was so touched (and totally blushing when my cover was blown).

Snapping photos of myself alone at the bar.

Snapping awkward photos of myself alone at the bar.

It was a quiet evening. I didn’t speak that much. I enjoyed my food and thought about what was next in life.

At the end of my evening, I even got a manager’s discount because I think they felt bad for me, which made me chuckle. The staff was kind throughout the evening even after learning it was my birthday and they thought I lived in Waltham and didn’t have friends. I built up quite the tab with two glasses of wine, an appetizer and entree because I wanted to do it up.

And it was me taking myself out (not expensing it), it was my treat, on me.

The next night, after the all-day meeting, I drove my rental car to Worcester, to see The Man’s family (and a few friends). We had an incredible home cooked meal and chocolate, peanut butter Reece’s cake The Man’s sister made for me from scratch. I felt so lucky and showered with love. I love them.

When I was back home, I rounded up all my pockets of friends for a party at one of my favorite restaurant / bars on Saturday so I could hug everyone and tell them thank you so much for being a good friend.

And guess what? This whole birthday week – no tears were shed.

5 Things I’m Loving Right Now

2013 March 4
by Grace Boyle

1. London Fog Drink – This is a drink my hometown coffee shop makes that is frothy and incredible. I don’t drink a ton of coffee these days (no particular reason, but I feel healthier without a lot of caffeine) but I have been drinking black tea. The London Fog (also known as Earl Gray Latte or Vanilla Tea Missto) is Earl Gray tea, milk (soy, almond, whole, skim, etc.), vanilla (I use Silk French Vanilla, coffee shops use vanilla syrup) and boiling water. In coffee shops they can froth the milk which is incredible but at home, I make this in the morning and it’s a perfect, warm blend.

2. Stitch Fix – Through a friend’s recommendation, I signed up with Stitch Fix, a web-based personal stylist fashion website. You create a very specific style profile and outline your size, preference, style, etc. Then you choose a date for your clothing delivery and a stylist will hand-pick different items that are sent to you, based off your profile. You can choose when you want the delivery (e.g. I do it once every two months – there isn’t a requirement to frequency) and they provide a free shipping bag to return the clothes/accessories you don’t want. The only hitch is that if you purchase something from the box, you get $25 off, but if you return everything you lose that $25 because it’s the stylist / shipping fee. Each time you return the items, you can give feedback as to why on your profile and each time, they get better and better. I love the surprise of it, I love that they’re brands I may not always wear or know of and I love that I have picked at least one thing from the box each time. Check it out*.

3. Jennifer Lawrence – I’ve liked her since I first saw her and dig the roles she plays, plus she seems pretty real and funny. I like someone that can be herself, a little irreverent and also not let things go to her head. I think she’s gorgeous and this interview after her Oscar win always has me laughing. Let’s not forget, she’s only 22!

4. Mention – I like using Mention that creates alerts for your brand (in my case, blogs) so you can be informed in real-time about any mentioned on the web and social. It’s better than Google Alerts (more consistent) and the desktop application is really slick with a nice UI. Also, there’s a free version that is great.

5. Sunday nights – I love Sundays. The first reason is because we always plan a big meal we’re going to cook that day that will yield leftovers so it’s always very cozy in the house, with delicious smells wafting around. Secondly, it’s when all our shows are on. We’re digging Girls, Downton Abbey and Walking Dead and they all coincide Sunday evening. It’s something to look forward to and we usually have friends over to enjoy the shows, as well.

What are you loving on these days?

*Note: referral link, because why not? I love the fix 😉

My creativity sweet spot: early morning

2013 February 20
by Grace Boyle

It’s 7:00 AM on a Sunday morning and my eyes pop open. I still feel a little tired, but I know I’m not going back to bed.

I am/have become a morning person.

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Subsequently, I’m so not a night owl. Maybe it’s stress from the work week or a hard workout in the evening, but we’re usually in bed by 10:30 PM by the latest on weeknights. Sleep is one of those free, tried and true beauty and health secrets. I’m all about it.

Right now I sit cross-legged on our couch, facing the windows and rising sun as I have opened the blinds. The world around me is still. Occasionally I hear a bird chirping (is that Spring I hear)?

I have only come to realize recently, that early morning is my creative sweet spot. Between 7 and 9 AM (give or take).

I can only describe it as such: my mind starts to buzz, ideas begin circulating, I’m aware and alert, I feel calm and I’m armed to face anything.

During this time, I also enjoy the solitude of the morning – I am free of distractions.

“In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.” ~Rollo May

As I’ve begun to grasp this creative sweet spot for me, I get to work particularly early and jump start my day. If it’s a weekend, I write in the mornings, I jot down ideas or I use that silent time to get things done that require extra attention and sharpness. I literally feel like an invincible bad-ass during this time.

Similar sentiments are shared around where you feel most creative. Is it your favorite trail in the woods, your kitchen or in the shower?

Fast Company author, Ron Friedman, describes it as the bathroom:

If you’re like most office employees, access to sailboats, the countryside and a relaxing couch is in short supply. A walk to the bathroom is one of the few opportunities you have for disengaging, letting go of trivial details and refocusing on the bigger picture–even Steve Jobs recognized the bathroom’s potential, insisting that Pixar only build two in its studios, to provide employees with maximum enforced mixing. Neurologically, it is during these moments away from your desk the right hemisphere of your brain comes to life, making you more appreciative of the forest and less sensitive to the trees.

Whenever the time and wherever the place, I believe we need to understand what works for us. I take advantage of the early morning and if I’m planning my week, I carve out this time so it’s available. Awaiting me. Ready to envelope me.

What’s your creative sweet spot?

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