Category: Work

A Career Year

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”
― Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

It’s not an easy thing to leave a job, especially one you’re finding success in. In recent months I received one raise, negotiated another, and was promoted–all the result of a lot of hard work and a lot of determination. And then, somewhat suddenly, I decided to leave my position.

I’ve mentioned this briefly in previous posts but in a lot of ways, I feel like I need to make up for lost time career-wise. I graduated as the recession was kicking off and was the primary breadwinner while Jeff was still in school. Hindsight being 20/20, I should never have stayed at my first job as long as I did but when you’re in a mindset of just paying the bills, it’s easy to let small setbacks (like not being able to go abroad with your husband to grad school, or having to wait a year for a new visa) add up to big ones. The long term benefit has been an internal commitment to not allow myself to ever get “stuck” in a job again–whether in progress, advancement, money, or learning opportunities. And in spite of a lot of the growth over the past year in particular, I found myself feeling a bit stuck.

Behind the scenes I called 2015-2016 my “Year of Career” due to the amount of work I was putting in. Willingly, might add. Due to my sense of falling inadvertently behind, both I and Jeff (who somewhat shares my feelings, though slightly less so as he spent a year getting a masters degree that paid off in exactly the way we hoped it would; namely, getting us to London) agreed that we’d be willing to burn the candle at both ends for a few years to gain as much experience and as many opportunities as we could. Our end goal is to position ourselves to have a more balanced life, but we were willing to put in the long hours and weekends needed now to get us there.


It has been an intense year. Coworkers have come and gone, a new mentor entered the picture, projects grew or got smaller unexpected, and I was thrown into [the right kind of] sink or swim projects that allowed me to learn. My instincts were tested, as were values, resilience, and skills. I hired and eventually had to let go of my first assistant, then hire a second one, I put together not just individual marketing campaigns, but got to develop whole top line strategies, I vastly expanded my network of contacts in both the business and creative world, and I had some pretty high highs. I also fell on my face a few times, lost my cool, struggled as my department grew and shrank and grew again, occasionally thrived on the uncertainty, but other times struggled with it.

But in spite of all the bustle, increasingly I recognized that nagging feeling of “stuck-ness.” Some of it was internal, some of it was external, but it was unmistakably the feeling that I once ignored for too long: I had a very strong impression that it was getting time to go. Just as I had really come to the conclusion that I would listen to that feeling and start hustling to make something happen, the universe placed a not insignificant opportunity right in front of me and I decided to grab it with both hands.

My new position contains many elements of my old plus some fresh new challenges and I’m still finding my feet a week and a half in, but tremendously grateful for and enjoying the new work.

However I’m recognizing the need to shake up more than where I work, but how I work. My old position was a crucible in many ways, a major support role in a team relatively small to be in charge of the amount of assets we managed. Everyone wore a lot of hats, I was on at least half dozen projects simultaneously, and our department was involved in every single phase from research before an acquisition all the way through to the final sales. The amount of learning opportunities I had were amazing. But there was a dark side. Because we were a small team, it was nearly impossible to “switch off.” This was not just me, I learned eventually, it was part of the culture that the company developed. For a while, my first whole year there, I didn’t see this as too much of a problem because I was committed to burning the candle at both ends if needed, but nobody can work like that forever before both you and the metaphoric candle burn out.

I came close to burn out more than once in my old position. Emails on the weekends, occasional whole weekends in the office, taking work home with me…it added up. At one point I was having actual nightmares about spreadsheets and waking up in the middle of the night composing tomorrow’s emails in my head. My new company makes a priority of balance and working hard…during work hours. People are expected to go home at reasonable times, not to be available during atypical hours, and to take holidays. I’m only a week and a half in (plus I had a week of break between positions) but it is a bit shocking how much adjustment this mentality is taking. I knew I didn’t like the imbalance I felt previously, I didn’t know how all pervasive it was, and I definitely didn’t appreciate I am going to have to relearn balance–it is NOTHING like riding a bicycle.

But I need to. In many ways, this job represents a step towards that longer term goals: I worked hard for nearly two years so I could work smarter for much longer. There’s still a lot of work to do setting up in my new gig, plus I’m working on some side projects again after they fell (out of necessity) by the wayside, but for the moment at least, I’m seeing how my year of career paid off.


Weekend Links

“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them– that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Hi kittens! It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and I have much to catch you up on, besides (hopefully) continuing the new and improved posting schedule.

To sum up, just before my holiday I got a very interesting and compelling new job offer as a marketing consultant…and I decided to take it. I handed in my month’s notice, which was very graciously accepted, and right now my major work priorities are to get as many projects successfully wrapped as I can to make my handover as smooth a transition as I can. It’s taking a lot of energy and frankly much of the good and relaxation of my break has gone straight out the window, but I’m nervously excited for this new opportunity. Full post about that coming up soon, I’m sure!

In the meantime, share any big news worth spreading of your own in the comments and enjoy your links. Monday ho!

2016-07-31 13.46.55 HDR-1

This week’s Not a Drill!

Mormon feminist humor warning but if that’s your thing, I died laughing because they picked the “argument” that literally makes me tear my hair out! I’ll share mine if you share yours.

And speaking of dying, what doesn’t David Attenborough make better?

Headline of the week.

In case you didn’t hear First Lady Michelle Obama’s thematically powerful, rhetorically excellent, and resounding speech this week, now is the time.

Gripping viewing.

Here. If this doesn’t make you hope for the human race, nothing will.

Anyone else tired of hearing how various women sound criticized or critiqued constantly? Not what they are saying, but the actual way all 3.5 billion of our voices sound, apparently? Me too. Though I now long for someone to label me an improbissima fema.

Big announcement from SDS fave brand Bite Beauty!

I have unintentionally started a system similar to the “bullet journal,” which I am suddenly seeing absolutely everywhere. But after reading this summary piece on Buzzfeed, my To Do system could clearly do with an upgrade!

And finally, my stress has had an uptick since I got back from holiday (obviously) and so my poor nails–long victims of nibbling or picking in times of bad stress management–have taken a beating. I’ve slapped on my first coat of polish in weeks to help repair damages (I’m more likely to notice if I’m messing up something pretty) and am trying to gather some inspiration to stay strong.


Saturday Links

Only Robinson Crusoe had everything done by Friday. 
~Author Unknown

Let’s face it, this regular feature might move permanently to Saturday if recent trends are anything to go. Anyway, excuse the delay. Another long week at work has resulted in a tiny bit of brain fry and a weekend is required to clear out some of the cobwebs. Here are your links, add your own internet finds for the week in the comments, and let me know what you’re getting up to!

Writing tips from one who knows.

I snort laughed.

Keep and eye on what’s green.

I knew multiple people who ran the London Marathon this year, alas none that dressed up.

Arguments began for the Supreme Court regarding the legality of same sex marriage this week and I’m going to be following the story closely. Living in a country where gay marriage is very much legal (with nary a hint of the apocalypse, I note), it’s interesting to watch this debate playing out from somewhat afar, as strongly as I feel on the subject.

Postmodern Jukebox has done it again.

Not okay, guys! A bridge way too far!

Woof, there’s a lot to unpack here.

Another place to visit!

A helpful guide for the confused.

The general election is next week here in Britain (America, let’s get on this, k? Two year campaigns are ridiculous) and we are preparing with the proper seriousness of thought.

Terribly amused by this site, currently taking over my Facebook feed. I might not always cooperate in photos, but it’s only a year off!

Screenshot 2015-05-01 22.03.09

Saturday Links

“There is no time for cut-and-dried monotony. There is time for work. And time for love. That leaves no other time.”
― Coco Chanel

Kittens, this was the week my new manager came onboard. And she’s lovely! She’s also wonderfully experienced and highly knowledgeable, and I know I’m going to like working with and for her tremendously. There’s a lot of structure she can put in place to support the projects we work on and I’m really looking forward to helping and learning.

Enough gushing! It was also a massively busy week since two of our directors were out of the country and one worked a partial week, so a lot of the onboarding orientation fell to me. There were also the usual schedule changes (construction is a fickle business, and luxury construction doubly so) and a lot of late hours. All for a good cause, though. There are a lot of new projects coming up that are partially daunting since I’m having to do work that I’ve never done before, but pretty exhilarating for the same reason.

Here are your links, tell me what you’re getting up to this weekend in the comments!


Journalism is getting weird, guys.

All joking aside…debt. Definitely debt.

Mad Men is winding down, so let’s look at some beautiful vintage ads and dream of far of destinations, shall we?

Supporting dance opportunities for girls of color, hell yes!

Just in case (h/t Katarina)

Now that Game of Thrones is back, in defense of Sansa Stark.

Derelict pubs throughout London, some with amazing historical backgrounds.

The kids, they are alright.

Pakistan Fashion Week is giving me life and I think we could all use some more embroidery.

When I get some free time (she laughed darkly to herself).

Saturday Links

“If you’ve done 6 impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?”
― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

A day late but hopefully not a dollar/pound short. My week consisted of a series of increasingly difficult tasks that at one point veered far out of realm of probability before I managed to drag them back. And I was not alone, the whole of the office team was well and truly snowed under and tempers were high, eyes suspiciously bright, and everyone was ready to burst. In short, a weekend was needed. Desperately. Here are your links and tell me what you’re getting up to!

At least London has decided it's spring!
At least London has decided it’s spring!

On my never ending quest to build a work wardrobe that is functional, easy to wear, well edited, and doesn’t break the bank…I’ve thought about this question more than once.

Give the woman a standing slow clap.

I’m a fan of the declutter and “less is more” movement, but this piece had me rolling with laughter. Let’s face it, we all know someone who takes it stuff like this too far. Heck, Gwenyth Paltrow has built a brand on it!


I want to go to all of there.

What a find!

I shan’t trouble you with the story of how this came into my presence, but I thought all and sundry needed to know it existed.

A long history of courtesan culture in Japan featuring beautiful kimonos, the male gaze, the rise of the shogunate, and more.

Childhood restored!

If you build it…someone somewhere will want to keep on building it.

Sometimes I don’t think we comprehend how incomprehensible it was, not that long ago, that practically everyone in the developed world (and a surprising number of the undeveloped world) would have personal phones. That we carry around with us. In our pockets.

Bring these back, I want to brunch in one of them.

Lessons Learned Two Weeks In

“Today it’s important to be present, be relevant and add value.” – Nick Besbeas

The work I am doing now is challenging. There are no two ways about it. I work for a demanding company staffed with a lot of incredibly intelligent people and I either need to show I can muck in with the rest of them or get out of the way. Every day I’m asked to take on an assignment I’ve never done before or put together a workflow that’s totally new to me. I mostly relish this, but it comes with some dangers

As a marketing coordinator, I’m ranked above a marketing assistant and below a marketing manager. The trouble is, we don’t have anyone in either of those positions at the moment. Recruitment is underway for a manager, but in the meantime, the chain of command where I’m to report is divided between three people. Also, there are some executive decisions that need to be made that I’m simply not in the authoritative position to make, but I still have to work towards certain actions and results. I’m learning to be more authoritative (which is saying something, because on my worst day the way to describe me is bossy) and to find ways to step up and try to take responsibility, but it’s intimidating to do so when you know that means you’ll be jumping in out of your depth.

There is real value to being chucked into the thick of things. You either sink or swim. Most of the time I feel like I’ve been able to do the latter, but I’m constantly conscious of the fact that success isn’t something you do once and it’s done. You have to be able to recreate it over and over again. And since omniscience is impossible for anyone, to say nothing of a person who has only been on the job officially for two weeks (my two months of last year don’t count as I was only supposed to be interim help during a handover), I know that I am going to make mistakes and screw up no matter how good my intentions. My ignorance and inexperience in certain things are going to make themselves manifest. And in cases where they already have, I tend to beat myself up about it because I want so badly to do a good job.

I’m learning I have some tendencies that I need to drop. My desire to be acknowledged for good or hard work? Yeah, that needs to go. That’s just the baseline expectation, mellennial. My desire to make everyone happy? A recipe for disaster or burnout. Fear of failure? Get over it, kid.

None of these are groundbreaking revelations, but they are good to be reminded of nevertheless. Work is hard. Get to it.

Friday Links (Managing Project Management Edition)

“A good half of the art of living is resilience.”
― Alain de Botton

Woof, this week. The training wheels are off, kittens. Development, project management, and construction planning is such an interesting industry because there are so many moving parts going on at any given moment. Our project managers conduct architects, artists, constructions workers, heritage societies, politicians, contractors, suppliers, and truly heroic amounts of paperwork. Though slightly less harrowing, working on marketing means that I don’t get to focus on just one project. I’m on all of them, all the time. It’s a lot of fun and the good kind of hard work, but there inevitably comes a moment each week where I feel like I’ve put together a really solid timeline or project and got all the moving pieces into a beautiful line…only to have one tiny thing that no one can control because it’s a provider or external system fall out of the row and take my meticulously laid plans down with it. I knew I’d “arrived” last week when a major timeline was pretty significantly impacted by months and my reaction was not to panic but to sigh, make a cup of tea, and just crack on with some solution options. Britishisation is almost complete.


Pictured: world domination plans for the week falling through. Dealing with it.
Pictured: world domination plans for the week falling slightly through. Dealing with it.

Here are your links, tell me what you’re up to this weekend in the comments!

Perhaps telling you that Katarina and i have legitimately speculated on turning a good portion of 15th century British history into a totally fictitious web series, set loosely in a modern day high school or some place correctly hormone charged and overly-dramatic…will explain why I found this hilarious. No?

And while we’re on Buzzfeed, apparently I’m “West London Posh.” Ha. I’m a quarter WASP, a quarter Slovak, and half who knows, thank you very much!

Very much behind all of these.

Tumblr find of the week.

Downton Abbey has little redeeming value anymore besides being a well-costumed soap opera. So here’s an interview with the costumer! I make no apologies for my continued plan on turning into the Dowager Countess in my old age.

There’s historical treasure everywhere. One of my favorite memories of the PD was being told to bin a ton of paperwork only to discover it was an unintentional archive of information about my alma mater from the perspective of its resident law enforcement office going straight back to the 50s.

Disney has it’s value, but I maintain it’s largely terrible at modeling life choices.

Interesting idea. I think I still have far too many bad American habits that likely set me back this side of the pond.

I have said it before, and I shall say it again. How do you lose something like this?!

This headline stands alone. Also, penguins.

A bit of a downer, but there’s this from the world of Mormon news. Whether you agree or disagree with the actions, this has been an interesting year for excommunications in the community and it’s worth having a conversation about why. You know, if you’re into that sort of conversation. If not, just ignore it.

Long live London.

Finally Coming Up For Air

“All happiness depends on courage and work.”
― Honoré de Balzac

Hi, ducklings, I’m alive.

In October last year, I took stock of what I’d achieved with a year in London under my belt and what I wanted to do next. 2014 was my biggest freelance year to date, with my most notable bylines and highest amount earned thus far. But there are unique challenge to working for US clients while based in the UK (not least of which, the currency exchange), and so I decided to push hard to find some actual London based work.

I thought the process of finding opportunities would take a long time. It turned out to take less than a week. In late October I was interviewed for a temporary role as a Marketing and Sales Coordinator for a development firm here in London, and offered it less than 24 hours later. The 19th of December was supposed to be my last day, but they asked me to stick around through the new year, and last week, they officially hired me on in a long term capacity. I’m beyond thrilled to join the team I have, it’s an innovative, design-led company that’s in an exciting phase of expansion with some incredible projects and properties that make my nerdy little history heart flutter.

Nothing wrong with some Victorian chimneys and brickwork.
Nothing wrong with some Victorian chimneys and brickwork.

Some weeks I spend at my desk, organizing reports and spreadsheets, others I put on a hard had and boots and get to go through construction sites and protected historic buildings that we’re renovating and preserving (SO much better than tearing beautiful sites down), and yet others involve heels, LBDs, and events organizing. My baptism (by fire) into the company was throwing an event at Somerset House, a major venue in London, for nearly 80 VIP guests and two weeks to plan. The pace has largely kept up since.

And in the midst of this, I’ve maintained my freelancing. Meaning that after putting in at least nine hours in the main office, I’d come home to more work in the shape of freelance assignments.

Kittens, it’s been a bit brutal. When the most hard working and go-getter woman you’ve ever met says she’s worried about the pace you’re keeping, you know things are looking fairly grim. I literally worked myself sick at one point in January but with the new year (and its attendant rebrands, site overhauls, press releases, and projects) largely put to bed, I’ve been able to come up for air and have a look around. I know we’re a month into it, but consider this my glimpse ahead into the new year.

I’m on track to more than double our income.

We’ve paid off nearly half of our student loans.

We think we’ll be able to pay the other half off with one more year of hard work.

I’ve found the next step to take with my writing and marketing experience.

I finally have the space to work on my own writing projects for the first time in years.

Jeff’s nearly done with his exams.

Everything, as the kids say, is coming up Milhouse.