Apr 16

Introvert Inspiration: Motivation for the Rest of Us

Introvert inspiration is something I’ve been seeking for a while now. I feel like every time I do something that is supposed to inspire me, I wind up getting drained of energy and feeling like I need a whole month of just drooling in front of the TV before I feel the urge to create something again.

Introvert Inspiration MarisaMohi.com

It took me forever to realize why that was, and it’s because I’m an introvert. (Cue the chorus of eye rolls about introvert think pieces. I feel you. But, like 98% of opinions, I simply don’t care.) The thing about being an introvert is that large crowds of people are draining. So attending a conference or a reading can be inspiring, but equally draining at the same time since there are so many people present. And I’ve found that in a lot of cases, those crowds tend to cancel out the inspiration.

That’s why I’ve come up with this list of foolproof methods of introvert inspiration. It may differ wildly from other creative advice you’ve received, but I can attest that these things have always worked well for me.

Screw accountability.

I think the biggest lie we tell ourselves is that we need accountability to create and finish projects. While this may work for people who are deadline-driven and enjoy the company of others, it’s a guaranteed way to ensure that I avoid the project all together. Whenever I’ve been a part of writing group, I’ve found myself actively not writing, simply so I could not have something to bring to the meeting. It’s like I wanted to spite the other members, even though they were always good friends of mine. (In addition to being an introvert, I’m also an asshole.)

The thing for me is that when I’m in the middle of a project, I’m not ready to discuss it. It’s still largely in my head. And while I think writing groups and critique partners are great, I know that I can’t use them for inspiration, motivation, or accountability. I have to let the idea fully gestate in my mind and notebooks first. Then, when I’m done and have fully wrapped my head around what I’ve created, then I can take it to a writing group, and not a minute sooner.

And that’s the thing about introverts. There’s a lot going on in our heads, and we like to keep it there until it’s something we’re ready to share. I’ve also noticed that if I share too soon, I’m susceptible to suggestions that can completely derail a project, as was the case with the first two book manuscripts I’ve ever written. You’ve gotta let the idea grow until it’s ready. Which brings me to the next point.

Stay inside your head.

For the first few years of our relationship, Chris would ask me what I was thinking about. He’d usually do this while I was staring off into space, existing somewhere that’s a million miles away from where I actually was. And when he’d ask, I’d have no idea what I was thinking about. And that’s because I spent a lot of my time (and I still do) inside my own head. That’s where the ideas come from, and that’s kind of the basics of introvert inspiration anyway.

I once tried to express to someone that whenever I hang out with people, I feel like I’m not really a part of what’s going on — that I’m actually just a bystander who is watching. It’s kind of a weird feeling, to be alone in a room of people, but that’s pretty much where I honed my skills of staying inside my own head.

To that end, if I’m not inside my head, I’m 100% distracted. That’s why I struggle with getting anything done at a coffee shop, where there’s so much noise and movement. So, for an introvert to be inspired, I would like to assert that you must stay inside your head. Don’t look too far outward. That way lies fragmented thoughts and chaos.

Get a cup of coffee with a friend.

“But Marisa, don’t introverts hate being with people?”

No. We hate being in large crowds of people where we can’t have meaningful exchanges. We also hate not having any alone time to recharge after we’ve spent time with people. But if you’re like me, a great source of introvert inspiration comes from simply chatting with a friend. And what better way to chat than over coffee?

There’s definitely something spiritual about hearing what your friend has been up to. I like to just hear what they’re working on, and let them know what I’ve been up to. I guess, for some, this would fall under the “accountability” thing. But I like my coffee dates to not come with requirements, deadlines, or agendas. It’s just a nice time to see a good friend and sip on some introvert inspiration.

Use your hands.

One of the best ways to zone out in your own head is to do something with your hands. I can’t explain the love I have for painting my nails. It’s not because I’m trying to look cute or anything. It’s all because the act of carefully painting each nail is a great stress reliever for me.

Sometimes, I’ll sit and make notebooks. Or, I’ll draw mandalas. The thing about inspiration is you tend to need it when you have all this pent up creative energy that you can’t use toward your usual pursuits. But using that energy to do something with your hands is always a great way to reset your mind in a quiet way, and prepare yourself to get back to the original reason you needed that inspiration.

Understand why you procrastinate.

Why is it you don’t feel inspired? Is it the task at hand, or is it something else? If you’re procrastinating because you don’t want to do something, then maybe it’s time to admit to yourself that you don’t want to do it. I have a tendency to flake out on projects when I absolutely cannot make myself do them because I absolutely do not want to do them.

But, if you find that you are putting off something you actually want to do, try to figure out why that is. It could be that you’re overwhelmed with other things, and don’t feel you can zero in on the task you want to complete. I get this feeling all the time, and the distracted feeling of needing to procrastinate is really common for introverts.

Instead, try to cut away as many distractions as possible, whether by turning off phone notifications or putting yourself in a quiet space. Once you understand what is causing you to procrastinate and killing your inspiration, you can eliminate it execution-style and get it out of your way.

Step into your personal time machine.

When I need a dose of introvert inspiration, I go back to a time when I felt the most inspired. As an undergrad, I walked around in my Chuck Taylors and Levis with a small Moleskine in my back pocket. I always had it on me. I spent a lot of time on my favorite bench just writing down thoughts and fragments and bits of poetry before attending either my fiction writing or poetry writing classes.

Luckily, I work on the campus where I went to school. So, when I’m feeling out of it, I just do the things I used to do as an undergrad, and it usually snaps me out of my funk. But if you can’t go back to the places you associate with your most inspired time, there are other ways to go back in time. Think about sensory information — smells, sounds, and tastes you associate with what you consider to be your most inspired time. I guarantee that you can go back to that time with a specific candle, or song, or even a drink.

Put headphones on.

Remember what I said about staying in your own head? Well, headphones just ensure that nothing else can get in your head so there’s only room in there for you.

Your only real friend is a notebook.

There’s just something about a blank page that begs to be written on. So, when I’m in dire need of some introvert inspiration, I sit down with a notebook and bash out all my thoughts. Clearing your head so there’s room for more thoughts is the best way to make space for inspiration.

So tell me, what do you do when you need some inspiration?

Apr 16

A Toast to Those Who Hate Their Jobs

Today, I would like to offer a toast to those who hate their jobs.

a toast to those who hate their jobs

When I posted my lunch picnic post to my personal Facebook, I captioned it with “In case you didn’t know, since leaving the worst job I ever had a year and a half ago (and no, I’m not talking about Tate Publishing–I literally found something worse), I no longer fantasize about driving my car into a retaining wall on my way to work. Oh, and I have picnics.”

That’s just your standard, everyday flippant Marisa. Not that I wasn’t fantasizing about that, because I totally was. I just think there’s something flippant about saying how unhappy you are with what is normal to most people. Commute to work. Sit at a desk. Do boring and brain-melting tasks. Eat terrible fast food for lunch. Watch your ass slowly spread and flatten to match the shape of your chair. Commute home.

After I posted it, I was kind of surprised by the reactions. Several people commented that they were currently looking for new jobs. A couple told me they had the same retaining wall fantasy. I’ve even had conversations in person with a few friends where we discussed how depressed some of our jobs have made us. It seemed the greater Oklahoma City area may be full of people who hate their jobs. And, unfortunately, I think this is the norm.

How many people hate their jobs? I’m not sure, but I think it’s important we discuss how unhappy people are with their jobs. Because when I was working for the company from Hell, I felt like I was surrounded by people who were happy with their professional life. Retrospectively, I realize that a lot of it was their defense mechanisms — like my complaining about a thing my company did made them realize their job was just as bad and they weren’t ready to admit that. I also think I just have a lot of friends that I can’t vent to. Not because they don’t listen, but because they try to make everything better immediately with a quick joke or a “Hey, look on the bright side!”

(I know I do this too. I’m trying to be better about it. Also, if you’re friend has gained 30 pounds in a 2-month span of time and is trying to tell you about how unhappy she is, don’t try to cheer her up. A simple “That really sucks, let me buy you a drink” will suffice.There’s too much to work through at that point, and cheering up isn’t gonna help anything.)

I also think the only people who talk about their jobs on social media are the ones who are happy with their jobs. Or, the ones who are trying to convince themselves that they should be happy with the job they have. And it’s a well known fact that people only post their highlights to social media. You never see someone post something like “Well, I got written up at work today because I’m not meeting my sales goals. I’m definitely not cut out for this position, and I’m scared I’ll be fired before I can find a position that pays comparably. I need help.” And if you did see that, it’s almost a guarantee that someone else would comment back some asshole remark followed up with “lol” because social media can be a really genuine place, but it can also be like walking through the asshole gauntlet.

This post isn’t about social media though. This post is a toast to those who hate their jobs. And I’m toasting you to say that you are not alone.

Recently, someone shared this Huffington Post piece on Facebook. I’m not sure who, because several of my friends have shared it since it was published back in January. If you don’t want to read it, it just details the reasons why good employees leave companies for different opportunities. I would like to add, though, that in the majority of places I’ve worked, those types of things are the norm. The corporate world isn’t anything you should put a whole lot of faith in.

I mentioned the “pick 3″ approach to life’s priorities in March, and I think it will definitely help you be a more productive person. There’s a similar approach to jobs. Only, it’s the “pick 1″ approach. Basically, think about all the things that you look for in a job. Good hours. Work you don’t have to take home. Being paid what you’re worth. Good benefits. Enough vacation time. The opportunity to use your skills. Flexible scheduling. Now pick one of those things. Because chances are your employer can only give you one of them.

(I currently have a few of them, and I have to say that I’ve never felt so spoiled by a job.)

I’m not saying the Holy Grail of employment isn’t out there. It most definitely is. But that company only has so many spots to fill, and chances are that you won’t get to fill one of them. So, if you happen to be looking for a job, keep that in mind. There are no ideal jobs out there, only good enough jobs.

If all this sounds terribly jaded, maybe it’s because it is. But know that I worked for a company where the CEO literally fired 25 people during a staff meeting firing squad-style. Also, know that I have multiple degrees in creative fields. And while corporations generally say in the job description that they want someone who is creative, they pretty much never know how to treat a creative employee. (The answer is not chaining them to a desk in a crowded office full of distractions where they can’t make good work.)

Basically, if you’re a human being, I don’t think you’re cut out for the corporate world. And that’s why I want to offer up this toast to those who hate their jobs. You are not alone. In fact, I’d say you are the suffering majority.

I can’t help you find a new job. (Especially not in Oklahoma. I would argue this place is a dearth of opportunities wrapped in the false promise of a low cost of living, but that’s a post for another day.) I can, however, offer up some commiseration.

I worked for Hell Company for 23 whole months before I left. Before that, I was working for Crap Inc. And prior to that, I was working for that trigger-happy CEO I mentioned above. Obviously, I’ve worked for a lot of not so fantastic places. But I don’t think I’d take those experiences away, simply because they’ve given me the sort of insight you can’t have when you’re just starting out in the job world. Maybe it’s kind of good for people to hate their jobs every now and again.

Now, when I step into a job interview, I know exactly what I want from an employer. I know what job feature is most important to me, and I know what I’m willing to give up when it comes to pay, benefits, schedule, and workload.

So what I’m trying to say is that you have to have those experiences to get where you’re going. I recently read this post from Alexandra Franzen, and it definitely reinforced this notion for me. (To be fair, my career journey has been nowhere as fun and sexy as hers. But grumpy frumping is pretty much on brand for me, so there’s that.) All of these terrible jobs and my cynical outlook towards corporations make me the person I am today. And that person is a college instructor who is focused more on self-improvement than on any sort of stat or metric that would earn me a raise in some fast-paced corporate environment.

And finally, that toast for those who hate their jobs.

Raise a glass if you’re unhappy with your career or feel stuck in a dead end job or are bored out of your mind doing menial tasks for idiot employers. Know that you aren’t alone, and that you have far more company than you know. Drink to where you are right now (but don’t self-medicate), because I can promise you there is always a better job out there.

Apr 16

About that Hershey’s “Higher Love” Commercial…

The first time I saw the Hershey’s “Higher Love” commercial, I thought it was cute. It seemed sweet that a kid would go to so much trouble to spend time with her dad. And that version of “Higher Love” is so freakin’ good. It grabs your heartstrings more than any other version of that song ever has.

If you haven’t seen it, take a look here. This is the extended version, but the overall message is functionally the same as the version I see every day while I’m watching CBS This Morning. (It may be on Hulu too. I’m not sure.)

It’s cute, right? You’re totally in love with Hershey’s “Higher Love” now, aren’t you?

Okay. Now pretend you’ve seen it like every day for a month or so. And pretend your me and you can’t just like something because you believe in your heart of hearts that everything is terrible and insidious.

(I mean, it’s an ad, so it’s inherently insidious, because the definition of insidious is to “entrap or beguile.”)

The more I think about it, the more I have a problem with it. In fact, I have so much of a problem with it, that it’s ruining this version of “Higher Love” for me. It’s not like I go out of my way to listen to the song, and I’m not the type to download singles from iTunes. But if I hear this song in a TV show or in a movie, which is likely since it seems like there are 5 pre-approved songs every year that must appear in every single TV show, movie, and commercial, I’m going to think about all the negative connotations I have about this commercial.

So what’s wrong with the Hershey’s “Higher Love” commercial? Let me tell you.

Firstly, the daughter is a problem for me. I’m going to guess she’s about 12 years old. I say this, because she looks young, but she’s obviously conscious about how she looks, hence the buttons on her backpack and her choice of shoes. If she is 12, that puts her in sixth or seventh grade. That’s middle school. That is a terrible age where kids generally don’t go out of their way to spend time with a parent. But perhaps this seemingly motherless daughter just wants to spend time with her dad because she only has one parent. I’ll take that as an excuse. But it does make me curious. Why can’t there be a mom for Hershey’s “Higher Love” to work?

Hershey's "Higher Love"

And we need to talk about this manic pixie dream daughter that the ad agency created for this commercial. Sure, she’s cute with that pixie cut and chunky sweater. She looks fun with those clunky Doc Marten’s and plaid backpack. It’s like she has this sort of sensibility that generally, does not reside within a 12-year-old UNLESS the parents of said 12-year-old have had an active role in shaping this child’s tastes. Let’s be real. Most 12-year-olds want to be cookie cutter kids and look exactly like the other kids. They are in middle school where standing out is a terrible thing to do. This daughter does not look like most 12-year-olds. And I would believe that she had an active parent helping her shape her tastes, except for we see her wander around the city all by herself. She’s very self-sufficient, and her dad doesn’t have time to hang out with her. That sort of independence doesn’t exist in kids with helicopter parents who actively mold their kid into what they want the kid to be rather than her own person. Couple that with her lack of mother, and you have a kid who has relatively little adult/parental interference in her life.

Little Scarlett may as well be a Lost Boy in Neverland.

This family is obviously pretty well-off. I mean, if you have a job that allows you to telecommute to what appears to be really important meetings, then I would think you definitely work for a more progressive employer who values employees, and thus pays them what they are worth and gives them the freedom to telecommute. So, if that dad is making money, why doesn’t this kid have a cell phone? It’s 2016, so surely she would. I mean, if she’s independent enough to wander the city without adult supervision, I’d think a parent would want her to have a phone. And they would most definitely want her to have a phone if they were a working single parent, because then they could more easily contact her.

And if all the local news reports are to be believed, all kids this daughter’s age do is text pics of their genitals to one another and talk about drugs. (I don’t know if your local news is as doom and gloom as mine, but like every day I hear a new thing that middle schoolers are doing that is terrible. And it’s completely understandable that Hershey wouldn’t want that to be the image for the whole Hershey’s “Higher Love” campaign.) And even if she doesn’t text pics of her downstairs to boys, surely she’s on some form of social media or chat app. Surely she has friends at school that she wants to keep up with. At that age, I remember a lot of my life revolving around passing notes (that is, texts that were written on paper) and talking on my parents’ landline after school. I was a huge dork and nerd, and didn’t have hordes of friends. But I still did those social things. And even though we didn’t have any way to send each other pictures of our junk, I do remember that a lot of time and energy was spent thinking about the opposite sex.

Hershey's "Higher Love"

So, would it be more relevant for her Hershey’s “Higher Love” to be sharing s’mores with a cute boy? Probably. Or you know, for this dad to be going out of his way to make s’mores for his daughter so she wants to hang out with him. Because even if I’m wrong about the age, there are still a million other things this kid would rather be doing on an iPad (Minecraft, Netflix, YouTube) than spending time with her dorky dad.

The daughter in this commercial is a manic pixie dream daughter because she spends so much time and energy doting on her father and finding ways to spend time with him. What dad doesn’t want his pre-teen daughter to go to those sorts of lengths to make him a s’more? What dad doesn’t want to think that in the midst of puberty, that his daughter would still be devoted to him as the only man in her life? And the fact that she is pretty much 100% asexual really makes her the perfect daughter because then she can be a sweet little princess forever and he’ll never have to think about her as a dynamic person who is capable of having feelings (sexual and otherwise) for another person. Nope, she’s just the perfect daughter who has nothing better to do all day than obsess about her dad.

Is that what a Hershey’s “Higher Love” is all about? Daughters frozen in time so they never sexually mature and have unnatural obsessions about their dads? Maybe I’m reading too much into that. (It would not be the first time I have devoted a ridiculous amount of energy analyzing media that didn’t deserve it.) You can disagree all you want, because the daughter’s relationship with her father is not even the most troubling part of the commercial.

Let’s talk about the dad and his work/life balance. Am I meant to feel sorry for someone who gets to work from home? That’s a luxury that very few parents have, and I would argue that the vast majority of working parents spend their day feeling torn in two because they have to work, but they want to be around their kids. And this father and daughter seem to live in an area where it’s safe for a kid to wander around town with a creepy-ass cardboard cutout without anyone harassing her. This is the most idyllic portrayal of a family with a dead mom that I’ve ever seen outside a Disney fairytale.

As I mentioned before, that dad probably works for a super progressive company. That’s why he’s able to work from home. The frames of his boxy glasses and his button-down cardigan send the same message. He looks like someone who works for a company that is a little more relaxed and forward thinking than say, your average 9-5 cubicle farm where you are required to wear khakis and a company polo every single day. Then, when you look at the design of the house and the scenery of the neighborhood, you get a total Pacific Northwest vibe. I mean, it feels like this family of two lives in a suburb of Portland. And while I know that on the whole, Oregon outside of Portland tends to be very conservative, a suburb of Portland would undoubtedly be more progressive than your average suburb here in Oklahoma.

This is important because it makes me lose ALL sympathy for this family, Hershey’s “Higher Love” be damned. If you have the ability to work from home and you are showing me how it impedes your work/life balance, I’m going to punch you in the face. And then, I’m going to take you back in time so you can hang out with 12-year-old Marisa who had a dad who worked 80-hour weeks, and a mom who worked two jobs. (You will note that 12-year-old Marisa did not spend a lot of time wandering around town buying s’mores ingredients or making cardboard cutouts of her parents. Instead, she let herself into the house after school with her key and did her homework until her parents came home.)

The reality is that most parents have to sacrifice time with their kids for a job that is probably unfulfilling, doesn’t pay enough, and forces them make the sort of decisions that put their work in front of their family. They probably have to make more of those decisions in the course of a day than anyone should. The whole system is completely broken, but it’s getting better in a lot of ways. And one of the ways it’s getting better is by allowing employees to work from home. So, if you have that privilege that so many working parents do not, it makes you really unsympathetic for not making it work. I’m not saying this dad doesn’t want to spend more time with family. I’m just saying he’s infinitely better off than like 98% of the rest of American parents. And this commercial makes it look like Hershey’s “Higher Love” is only available to people in a specific tax bracket.

That, or his daughter is super needy, and he may need to park the helicopter for a while because clearly she’s independent as hell, and doesn’t need to have an adult around at all times.

Hershey's "Higher Love"

Even if this dad is putting in a lot of extra hours for a specific project, at least he’s home. And he has a daughter who is old enough to take care of herself. I mean, she can walk all over the damn city and clearly convey an order to a dude at a copy shop. (That is a feat, for reals. Y’all ever had an order come out right at Kinko’s? No, you haven’t.) She also magically has enough money to buy a cardboard cutout of her dad at the copy shop. And those things are not cheap. I mean, we’re talking somewhere around $200. (But sure, show us that picture of her counting out her change. I’m sure that really brought back memories for the Baby Boomers.) So sorry, broke ass 12-year-olds. You ain’t gonna have none of the Hershey’s “Higher Love” because you can’t afford to make a creepy cut out of your dad.

Scarlett, sweetie. Are you sure you don’t want to use those coins to buy a new pair of Doc Marten’s, or to buy a Crosby record turntable, you little Zooey Deschanel character waiting to happen, you? At the very least, surely you can read a book or text pictures of your junk until dad is off the damn conference call.

I guess what really pisses me off is I can’t tell what Hershey is trying to say. Is it that we should make time to have s’mores with our kids? Is real quality time with family spent over the cheapest chocolate bar? I mean, let’s be real. If I’m correct in the assumption that this is taking place in the Pacific Northwest, this kid’s Doc Marten’s would probably carry her to the nearest Whole Foods or specialty candy store. And if Scarlett is discerning enough to dress like a character that Winona Ryder could’ve played circa 1997, she is discerning enough to demand a real chocolate.

Hershey's "Higher Love"

And even if Hershey wants us to believe that they want you to put a subpar chocolate bar and your kid in front of work, is that really the truth? How many members of the Hershey company get to telecommute? How many pre-production meetings for this commercial were conducted via video conference? Does Hershey give the average working parent at their company that much leeway when it comes to spending time with their families? I mean, their foreign student labor scandal makes me think they aren’t so progressive when it comes to their own employees. What does Hershey’s “Higher Love” have to do with the people who get a paycheck from the Hershey company?

If I had to guess, I’d say very little.


Apr 16

The Halfway Point: Intentional April Check-In

Here I am at the halfway point for my intentional April.

Intentional April

(Yes, I know Friday was the halfway point of intentional April. But this spring is pulling me in a million different directions. With research papers to grade, an interview for a summer tutoring position, and OKC Litfest all converging together last weekend, well…I delayed this post.)

I’m proud to say that, for the most part, things are going well. I don’t feel like these changes have changed the way I feel at all, which is okay. I’m just happy to stick to something. Plus, we are smack dab in the middle of the most stressful time of the year for a writing instructor (grading 116 research papers may actually kill me), so I don’t expect to feel rejuvenated and full of energy. I’m really just trying not to buckle under stress and use retail therapy or fast food as a coping mechanism. And to that end, I’m succeeding.

Also, I went into this month knowing that I would probably trip up here and there. I think perfection is impossible, and it’s not like you can change an ingrained habit overnight. So, when I have slipped up, I haven’t been hard on myself for it. There’s no reason to punish myself for not being perfect when I’m just trying to get better. Instead, every time I’ve transgressed, I’ve just thought of Alfred Pennyworth encouraging Bruce Wayne in the Christopher Nolan movies, and it’s helped immensely.

(How much do you think it would cost to have Sir Michael Caine follow me around all day and give me words of encouragement? Since this is technically for my mental health, do you think insurance would cover it?)

So, in the interest of accountability, I’ll let you know how I’ve been doing on my intentional April goals. Fair warning: I haven’t undergone some fantastic change. Like, I didn’t go into this month a torpid lump of a fast food-loving caterpillar who is now in the cocoon of self-discovery, and will emerge at the end of the month as a self-aware individual who can read Goop and find the recipes not only relevant, but delicious.

That is definitely not the case. But in the interest of truth and keeping it real, I’ll tell you where I’m at with the four goals I set for myself this month.


I have not had a drop all month. This was probably the easiest thing to give up. I’m not a very good drinker, which is to say that I usually need to go to bed halfway through a glass of wine. But intentionally choosing not to drink has still been a bit of a challenge, just because I want to have a drink when other people do. And we attended Norman’s Art Walk this week, which you know is full of free alcohol. But I didn’t have any.

Admittedly, this is one that I don’t plan to keep going after this month. In fact, as soon as the semester ends, I plan to sit on the patio at The Mont sipping swirls with friends. But it is nice to know that if I want to stop drinking for a month, I totally can and it’s super easy.

Spontaneous Spending

Spending has probably been the second easiest thing to give up. I’ve been reading about Cait’s 2-year shopping ban, and have been really inspired. And while I’m not quite ready to do a ban on all shopping, I’d really like to try a shorter one. And if I’m being honest, it’s going to be harder than I thought, because I haven’t exactly kept to the no spending thing this month. (Intentional April is hard.)

Here’s all the money I’ve spent this month on non-necessities:

  • Tea with Ashley at Gray Owl
  • Coffee with Mari before we attended a workshop (the ticket for this purchased prior to April)
  • Adina mentioned that she had finished her second book, and I’m all about gothic mysteries and helping out other blogger/writers
  • Chicken tenders in the student union on Thursday, April 14 (I COULDN’T BE STOPPED AND IT NEEDED TO HAPPEN)
  • Subway with Lindsey for lunch during the OKC Litfest

Junk Food

So, as you see above, I had some chicken tenders. And fries. I regret nothing. I was honestly so tired of salads, and sometimes you just need a little something deep fried to soothe your soul. I refuse to be down on myself about this though, because leading up to it, I was incredibly healthy. (We’re talking chia seeds and spinach and cage-free eggs.) So, overall, it’s still a win, because in March, it’s likely I would eat chicken fingers and fries, a burger, pizza, and ice cream all in the same week.

And, because I’m being honest here, I didn’t have the healthiest menu option at Subway when I met with Lindsey for lunch. And I had a free blueberry muffin at OKC Litfest. But t’s only because I was so tired of saying no to free baked goods, which I did at the workshop I went to with Mari.

Okay, and on Sunday the tenth, I totally had homemade waffles. But like, if the love of your life offers to make waffles on a Sunday morning, you don’t say no. Also, I feel like I can technically blame this one on Chris. He’s the one that made the waffles.

Let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed all the junk I consumed this intentional April, even though I said I wasn’t going to. Sure, it may not be intentional, but it is in keeping with my overall goal of enjoying everything I eat in 2016. So as long as I’m keeping with at least one goal, I call it a win.

Not Staying Up and Not Sleeping In

Going to bed at the right time and waking up at the right time has been the hardest thing. I’m sure it is for others as well. There’s a lot to do in the day, and when I have to grade papers on top of everything else, it’s hard to fit it all in. For this reason, I haven’t been attending yoga regularly. Sure, I miss it like crazy. And if it were an hour earlier, I would still be going. But I have to wake up early and get a jump on grading so I can finish it all before finals week. Currently, I have approximately 100 hours worth of grading that I need to complete by May 9. That’s about 33 hours of extra work a week on top of what I normally have. So, I’m trying to fit it all in where I can and early in the morning is the best time. If I wait until the evening, I will just fall asleep.

And while I had intended to get to the gym and do a lot more working out, this is probably not the best month for it. Mental exhaustion is hard enough without starting a new workout regimen. Judge me if you want, but my mental health means more to me than the opinions of people on the internet. So once papers are all graded, I’ll be back to my morning yoga classes, as well as getting in some cardio.

In other news, I’ve prepped my meals for this week, and I’m excited to continue on through my intentional April. What about you? How are you being intentional this month?

Apr 16

A Lunch Picnic Is Where I Want to Be

Recently, Chris and I were able to have a lunch picnic on a weekday. How did our schedule get so flexible? I’lll explain.

lunch picnic - MarisaMohi.com

For the longest time, it felt like Chris and I were living in a terrible career nightmare. We were both doing things that were paying well enough, but weren’t what we wanted to be doing, or where we wanted to be in life. And it goes without saying that we were in no place to have a lunch picnic on a weekday.

We’re both creative people. Chris is a graphic designer by day, and by night he runs his own design company. I’m a college writing instructor by day, and by night I kind of just rant on the internet and occasionally write some fiction. Naturally, we’d both love to be in a position to focus on our creative pursuits 100% of the time, but that’s just not possible right now.

What is possible right now is being content with where we are. And I’m not saying we settled for what we have. Far from it. Instead, we’ve worked to make our lives what we want them to be. Basically, I’m saying we have the lunch picnic now, but maybe next year, we’ll have the travel to world for fun and profit lifestyle. Where we are right now is just a step on that journey, but it’s so far from where we’ve come.

Let me explain.

In 2014, I was working for a company I hated. I would commute roughly an hour in the morning, sit at my desk doing menial tasks befitting an intern for 8 hours, and then commute roughly an hour home. Even though in all my employee performance reviews I stated that I would like more responsibility, I was never given any. I was also never actually trained in anything the company did. Instead, from my first day until I left, I was given minor editing tasks, or was asked to burn CDs for clients, or I would test software. This is what I did as a technical writer. And while I’m aware that “other duties as assigned” is a part of all job descriptions, it shouldn’t make up 100% of the job.

So, I left and started my current job teaching. When I started, I didn’t have a full-time position, but I wasn’t going to be deterred by that. I knew it was more important for me to have something that I loved doing. Plus, I was relatively young. It wasn’t like I was making a big transition after being with a company for a long time. It wasn’t like I knew any industry incredibly well. In fact, the longest I’ve ever stayed at any one job has been 23 months. If you were to look at my resume, you’d see that I’ve hopped around from libraries to publishing to banking to defense contracting to teaching.

And why?

Well, the main reason is because I am directly affected by my environment. If you’re company is coo-coo banana pants terrible, I’m going to feel it. I’m basically like a Will Graham-level empath, only I don’t use my skills to catch Hannibal Lecter. Instead, I use them to basically absorb all the garbage in my immediate environment. Which is why I had to get to an environment with infinitely less garbage. (And why I enjoy a good lunch picnic on a weekday — so I can absorb that sunshine goodness.)

When I made the switch to teaching, the emotional change I felt was almost immediate. I’m no longer micromanaged by terrible bosses. I’m no longer expected to be chained to a desk for 8 hours a day. I’m no longer discouraged from socializing with coworkers. I’m no longer asked to copy files from one area of the server to another. (This shouldn’t make me as happy as it does, but until you’ve done that almost exclusively for nearly two years, you start to wonder what it is about you that makes your employers think you are a moron.)

Instead of working in a very cement-heavy urban area in a terrible part of town like I used to, I get to work on one of the most beautiful college campuses in the state. My daily walk from my car to my office takes me past trees, flower gardens, statues, and so many different types of architecture. Hell, I’m just overjoyed that I can open my office windows. It’s a joy to be so close to the outdoor world all the time. And it’s a joy to get to move around during my work day. (If you follow me on Snapchat, I share a lot of campus pictures! Username: gentlemarisa.)

I’ve also been given so much responsibility in my current position. And everyone in my department respects my opinion. In fact, I have not encountered one inferiority complex in my department since leaving that terrible job. (That was the biggest change for me, since the CEO at my old job basically turned his personal castration complex into the company’s mission.) On any given day, I can go to my supervisor and have an open and honest conversation, completely devoid of gossip and racism. (That shouldn’t be as novel as it is.) I can ask my coworkers their opinions, and they give them openly. We can all come together and share information in a very productive way. It’s amazing.

But, perhaps the very best part of my job is the freedom — and ability to have a lunch picnic — that comes with it. I teach 5 classes a week, and I have office hours each week. But I don’t have to be at my desk all day. I can grade papers at home or at a coffee shop if I want. Recently, the back patio has been my spot of choice. Just me, Rosie, and my laptop. It’s been fantastic.

And because I only teach 4 days a week, I don’t have to come to campus on Fridays. Typically, I use this day to grade and catch up, and, let’s be real here, take a nap at 3 PM on the couch with Rosie. (Before you call me lazy, know that this nap only lasts for about 10 minutes before that damn dog pushes me off the couch.)

Chris has found himself in a similar position lately. His company now offers flex time. He has changed his schedule so he’s working 9 hours Monday through Thursday, and he works a half day on Fridays. He can also start his day at 7 AM, instead of 8:30, which used to be the start time. This means that Chris has so much extra time in the afternoons and evenings to work on his company, which is amazing.

And last Friday, we took full advantage of his half day and met at the park for a lunch picnic. It may seem small, but it means more than just eating food outside. And it may not be where I want to end up, but a lunch picnic is where I want to be right now.