Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Bachelor (Season 3)

Well, I'm back stateside. A bit earlier than planned, and happy for it! So, one year ago I posted one of my last messages before I became sporadic with my posts. Entitled The Bachelor (Season Two), I shared the latest in my dating life and did a bit of a run down on the various men I was meeting. In honor of that post, one year ago, I thought I'd share some of the latest (which I'll refer to here as Season 3), including some folks who stayed on the list from Season 2.

Before I jump into the details, what have I learned from the last year about dating, love, and men? In short, I've learned to open up, to let myself fall in love (even if it was with a person I shouldn't have), that I'm too old to care if my sex numbers stay low so long as I'm not completely out of control, and that everyone's pretty much just looking for the same thing in different forms...a connection with another human being. Strangely, most of the men I wrote about one year ago are still in my life, even if they're not romantic relationships. So, I must be doing something right in the world! All the guys below are from my previous post, except for the ones I've marked as *new*.

Nice (Enough)?
I met this guy on sabbatical last year, and he's a great guy. I wrote about him in my post a year ago (so you can read more there), and happy to report that a friendship has ensued. When I met him, I also met a woman in his circle who I became quite close with. Over the year, I noticed that they seemed so well matched and were both single. After hearing from them separately that they were attracted to eachother, I not-so-subtly told both of them I thought they should quit worrying about the friendship and jump in. Now, I'm not saying I'm responsible, but I am happy to report that as of a few months ago they're officially together, which is awesome.

Group Effort
Who'd have thought that an invitation for a threesome would result in a lovely friendship? But, strangely, it did. We're still in contact regularly and see each other every couple of months. He's this great intuitive guy who challenges me and makes me really think about whether or not the things that come out of my mouth are platitudes or real core beliefs. And, frankly, he's great to have around since he's constantly telling me how wonderful I am. Maybe he's just biding his time until he can bring up the group sex thing again, lol. And, no, I didn't take him up on his original offer...I know you were wondering. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Common Man
So, this is a guy who was in a relationship and had pursued me for some time, only to succeed...and then not call again. Which is where it was left one year ago. Ironically, just a couple of months ago he tracked me down on LinkedIn and sent me a message asking if I'm still in the area, and sharing that he thought he'd be back for work soon. I didn't reply, but suppose I could look on the bright side that I'm memorable a year later, lol.

The Bad Habit
Ah, everyone needs a bad habit in their lives, don't they? This one was mine. A six year casual relationship that, about a year ago, I believed had run its course. And, really, it had. We remain casual and relatively distant friends, but he pops back up on the radar now and again. He was actually quite helpful with career advice a few months back, which I really appreciated. Good to know our unconventional relationship hasn't hurt our ability to be friends that will help each other out. Never one to drop a bad habit without picking another one up, you'll see he was effectively replaced by The New Bad Habit.

The Lesson
Oh boy. My favorite quote from a year ago? "If nothing happens here, it's already going to hurt". Ah, if I'd only listen to my own advice now and again. I felt a connection with The Lesson as soon as I met him in September 2010, on the night of Hurricane Earl. Though, in true sabbaticaljo style, after the initial connection I ended up drunk on vodka sodas and made out with him outside of a motel room. Classy, as always. As of a year ago I was working on letting the whole thing go and mourning the connection a bit. It worked. But only until the fall.

In September, we reconnected. I don't recall the specifics, other than the fact I was working in town (he lives about two hours away) and we decided to meet up for a drink. The chemistry for me was right back where it started and one thing led to another. It was fun, but I'd promised myself I wasn't going to fall (you know how this ends up, right?). I won't rehash all that ensued afterwards, but to make a long story short, we became close. We spoke often and saw each other about once a month. Initially by coincidence, and later by intention. By January, I found myself tagging along for a cross-country trip he was taking (one of many for an out of state masters program). I had remained safely disconnected, separating the physical aspect of our relationship from the emotional friendship we were building. But the trip did me in. Five days of close proximity solidified the feelings I'd had building and, in short, I think I began to fall in love. A month later he came to visit me for a couple of days, and that only served to do me in. What was built to be a close friendship with casual benefits had turned into much more for me. Certain that I was the only one feeling this way, and conscious that it was impacting another relationship I had building at the time (one that was a more traditional dating relationship), I thought it best to come clean before I pursued this other relationship. And even though I anticipated the response I got (not interested in pursuing a relationship), I did not anticipate how far I had fallen. After the experience, I spent some time thinking about why I had fallen for this particular guy, especially when all signs and explicit conversations clearly said that this was not going to result in a relationship. I'm convinced that some of the attraction and heart-thumping may have been exactly because of that choosing someone who was essentially unavailable, I was protecting myself from being hurt by something that could turn into something meaningful. I might pick this up as another blog post, so won't go into more here. I don't think that was all there was to it, but I think it played a part and was a good warning/lesson/reminder.

ANYway, never one to stay down for long, I had a good cry for a few days, picked myself up and moved on. We still speak, and I hope he remains a dear friend since I truly respect and admire him. I get the sense that he regretted the things he did and said that led up to my disclosing these feelings I was having (I suspect he feels like he lead me on). But truth be told, I remain incredibly grateful for the entire experience and wouldn't change a second of it. It was a reminder of how I should feel about someone, a chance to love (even if it was doomed from the start), and it gave me the experience of telling someone open and honestly, without judgement or shame, how I felt about them. I think I needed it, and I wouldn't trade it for a second.

The Other Bad Habit *New*
It seems I always need someone in the rotation who I have strong physical and intellectual chemistry (read: engaging conversation and great sex) - but without a lot of emotional connection, drama, or baggage. This probably speaks to some of my challenges with the emotional side of myself, but this type of relationship is like crack for me. I had it for six years with The Bad Habit, and about six weeks after I'd determined it had sizzled, he'd been replaced by The Other Bad Habit. Similar situation - someone who's already in a relationship, doesn't live nearby, and travels for work to locations that I also travel to. Judge if you must, but we all have needs, and this type of relationship satisfies a strong part of me. I wasn't looking for it to become a long-term thing. We recently met up and I talked about the fact that I thought we needed to cut it off at the one year mark, but I'm not sure either of us are really inclined to enforce it. It'll be a year next month, so we'll see. For the moment, we have clear boundaries and I'm not concerned about either of us falling emotionally, so it's just two people exchanging passionate and exciting ideas, followed-up by other passionate and exciting extracurricular activities.

Good on Paper
I really thought I had something here. He fits my perfect on-paper guy. Early forties, divorced, no kids, stable job, owns a house (or could if he wanted to). I've always preferred older men, and something about being divorced tells me that at least someone wanted to marry them at one time. We dated throughout the Fall and Winter, though with my travel schedule the dates were spread pretty far apart. By January we were spending a weekend night together every week. But I was hesitating. I could feel him wanting to progress from our somewhat casual relationship, but I was holding back. I thought it was because of The Lesson, which is why I came clean with him about my feelings. In my head, I would come clean with him, confirm he wasn't interested, and re-focus my attention back on Good on Paper. And live happily ever after, of course. I'd barely wiped the last tear off my face from The Lesson, and went away for the weekend with Good on Paper. It took me no less than 24 hours to realize that, frankly, I just wasn't that into him. I wanted to be. Badly. He was so "perfect". But, in truth, I just didn't feel for him what I felt for The Lesson...and that was a lesson in and of itself. A couple days later, I broke it off. I haven't spoken to him since.

So, that's a nice long summary for you. After everything that had happened with The Lesson and Good on Paper, I took a few weeks off from the dating scene, only to recover with a vengeance. I've been going out on a few dates a week and really enjoying remembering that I am confident, and articulate, and interesting...and that men actually find me that way too :) No one that's really jumped out yet, but the feedback has been positive, so at least I'm getting my ego stroked a bit. My most fun date so far was the one described in my post entitled Thirty Seconds. Nothing new to report, but we'll see.

It's a year later and I've played, I've loved, I've cried, and I've not lost my love of meeting new people. And I'm more connected with myself and others than ever before. Really, what more can a girl ask for? Hasta, sabbaticaljo

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


This week and next I'm traveljo, so won't be blogging as much. I'm currently in the middle of a week long meeting in London. From here I'll fly to Lisbon for the weekend. From there I'll take a rather long trip to San Francisco to teach a class, and I'll end with a few days visiting family. Then I'll spend 12 day recovering back home! I have some things to share and thoughts, but days are nuts here, so hoping to catch up with you this weekend from Portugal. I'd tell you that I'm exhausted here in London, but I'd just sound like an asshole :) Life is good...hope yours is too. Hasta, sabbaticaljo

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thirty seconds

They say that women decide in the first thirty seconds of meeting a guy if they're going to sleep with him. In my experience, though, it's more about knowing in the first thirty seconds if I'm not going to sleep with someone. It's slightly more complicated. Once I haven't totally ruled you out, I'm making all sorts of other decisions while you're describing your love of travel and red wine. Do I think you're someone I might just want to jump into bed with? Do I think there's more potential at which point, ironically, I won't sleep with you? Am I not sure and will orchestrate a kiss opportunity so I can get more information?

I mentioned last night that I had a second date. The guy seemed cool on our first date, and we had a really easy conversation. But I wasn't exactly wanting to crawl across the table onto his lap. Not that it's a specific requirement, lol. He came up with a cute idea of us buying a lotto ticket together, which turned into a fun sdventure. He walked me to my car after, and simply hugged me goodnight. A perfectly enjoyable evening.

After that night, he proceeded to text me early in the mornings to wish me a good start to the day. He didn't call, which I always find weird, but texted every day or so. We arranged for a second date and met up last night.

He's an interesting character; a bit of a tough nut to crack. I sense there is plenty going on behind his seriousness, but on the surface be seems a bit conservative. Vanilla. If I ask questions, he has plenty to say. But he's not an extrovert. He'll laugh or smile, but not freely. He doesn't ask a lot of questions, and yet I wouldn't call him shy either.

As I describe him, he probably sounds lame but the funny thing is I found myself slightly into was like some sort of weird challenge to get him to which I got pretty good at over the course of two dates. I'm sure there's a therapy session in here somewhere. Ha ha. Okay, I digress.

So, we had another nice time. Lots to talk about, exchanged some funny stories, but didn't really get beyond surface topics. But it's not a second date, right? Perhaps not everyone loves to delve into deep topics straightaway lIke do. But, I had a nice time! The date ends and, again, he walks me to my car. Since I've had a hard time pegging this guy, I'm interested to know how it's going to end as we're walking. I'm feeling the chemistry so I'm wanting him to kiss me. But it ends in a hug. Again. Really? WTF.

I get in the car, and as I'm driving away I'm wondering if I misjudged the evening. Clearly we weren't on the same page. Curious. About five minutes into my drive home, I get a text. "As I'm walking to the car I'm thinking we should seize more of the evening. Drink or dessert?". Interesting. Never one to miss an opportunity to "seize" a moment, I responded that I was in.

We decided to meet up at a place up the road, debating via text on the way what our options were at 10:30 on a Thursday (I don't exactly live in a happening town). We met up and threw back a couple drinks, and the energy seemed more relaxed than at dinner. We were joking, laughing, you get the idea. In my mind, I'm thinking the whole thing about texting after dinner was sweet.

About two hours in, he goes to the restroom and I decide to check my phone. Oh, and what do we have here? In the flurry of sweet post dinner texts about where to meet for a drink, I had apparently missed his last one. "if neither place works for a drink, we could always go to my place or yours for some wine". Whoa! Well this is an interesting turn of events. Mr. Conservative, Mr. Vanilla. Huh. I didn't see that coming.

The bar starts to close up and, again, we find ourselves walking to my car. But as I turn around after putting my purse in the car he's got "the look". Ladies, you know the one. It leaves no uncertainty about what's happening next. He grabs my hand and goes in for the kiss. Sweet, simple. At first. My guard is down a little from the two drinks, but holy shit. This guy isn't vanilla. And he's kissed a few women. I'm literally weak in the knees at this point. Whew. If I had any reason to question the chemistry, I have nothing left to say at this point.

I'm still clinging to the notion that this guy is sweet and sincere, though a really great kisser (this makes up for my post in the fall about my worst kiss ever...I keep meaning to update you on what happened there). I pull back. He says he doesn't want to let me go to Europe (I'm headed to London tomorrow). More kissing. I pull back. He says I'm cute (presumably because I'm giggling that we're making out in a parking lot). More kissing. I pull back. He says "your car is bigger than mine". Without a thought I laugh and blurt out "you're out of your fucking mind if you think I'm getting into the backseat of my car with you".

Now, I assume he was half-kidding. But still, maybe I should have been mad he'd even suggested it. Or offended. Or whatever. But, honestly, it's hard to judge when I'm pretty sure I've uttered the same words at some point. In my 30s, no less. So, instead, I made reference to his text about going to his place and displayed mock offense. He wasn't fooled :) But off I left, headed home with my dignity mostly intact.

He made one final attempt asking if I was sure I was fine to drive and didn't "need an escort home". Nice try, buddy. "A" for effort, I suppose.

But here's the part where I'm feeling like a total girl and unsure of myself (there is literally no feeling I hate more). This guy's just after sex, right? Or is he actually interested in something more? And, does it matter? I thought about it a bit today, and I think I may be asking the wrong questions. Forget guesstimating what he's thinking or feeling. What am I thinking and feeling?

Bottom line? There's obviously chemistry and I've enjoyed both dates. He's stable, unattached, has a son but no ex drama, got me weak in the knees when we kissed, and made me laugh. I'm just going to wait this one out and see what happens.

But tonight? Well it's my last one in town for two weeks. And I've got a first date ;) No rest for the wicked. What are you doing on this fine Friday evening?Hasta, sabbaticaljo

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I've got a second date tonight (which I'm sure will be fun, but don't see myself falling for this one per se), so my time is a bit short. I thought I'd do a non-thinking post on my favorite apps! I love to check out what apps people are in to most, look for articles on the "top" apps of the year, and share my most beloved little icons. I've broken them down by apps that I use on both my iPhone and iPad, and then those that I seem to favor on one or the other. Maybe you'll find a new one to try, and I hope that you will post comments on any that you really dig. Enjoy!

iPhone and iPad

This guy I got involved with at work turned me on to this one (and turned me on in general ;) (sorry, couldn't help it). It's basically an app that takes content out there and turns it into a magazine layout, which I absolutely adore. So, for example, you could add this blog to flipboard and read the blog in a more user-friendly magazine format. You basically choose "blocks" of content. You'll have to download it to see what I mean, but here are my favorite "blocks" for you, most of which are flip-board creations generated from multiple content sources:
  • Cover stories (this compiles the best of all my other blocks...genius!)
  • News (a block that Flipboard creates based on a variety of news sources)
  • People
  • Cool
  • Humor
  • Travel
  • MIX (twitter feed)
  • Time Magazine (twitter feed)
  • sabbaticaljo (duh)
  • Facebook (totally new way to read Facebook)
I know, I know. This one's obvious, but I couldn't help it. I'm waiting for them to move to timeline on the app, though. The iPad Facebook app is particularly nice.


If you know anything about TEDTalks, you already know you have to have this. I have the iPhone app too, but I prefer to watch the talks on the iPad. Seriously, free talks by leaders in their field posted daily? On every topic you could imagine? Brilliant. I love the feature where I can tell it what I want and for how long (there's a sex joke here, but I'm in a hurry). Want to be inspired and only have 8 mins? TED will make a recommendation.

When I want to exchange files between my work computer and my iPad, Dropbox is the way to go. Install it on your computer, throw the files you want on there, and voila! Instant access on my iPad. And if I make changes on my iPad, they'll synch back to my computer. Sweet.

Hulu and Netflix
I put these together since I basically use them the same way for relatively the same thing. Back in the Fall, I finally pulled the plug on my obscene cable bill. And, you know what, I haven't missed it for a single second. I use Hulu for current programming (latest episode of The Office, Glee, or Jersey Shore...done!) and Netflix for back seasons of shows I never got around to watching (entire set of Lost episodes, anyone?), as well as movies. As a result I did change my internet so I had good speeds. While I watch plenty of content on my iPad when I travel and have wi-fi (neither work overseas unfortunately), I stream it straight to my TV via a blue-ray player when I'm home. Sometimes I'll start an episode downstairs on TV and finish it on my iPad upstairs in bed. I am a complete f*ing yuppie. You can watch on the iPhone, but why bother?
Simple interface, easy search capabilities, and no need to log on. I don't need to say any more.

Now, the reason I love the Photos app is because I bought the adapter for the iPad so that you can connect an SD card directly to your iPad and the pics come right over. I organize mine into albums, and it's fun to scroll through and show others too.

Absolutely love to switch between my actual Kindle and the app on my iPad. It bookmarks my pages, which is nice. I wish that my Kindle groups I've created transferred over to the Kindle app, but whatta you gonna do. I read on the iPad a lot, but I still love my Kindle. It's awesome for the beach and anything outdoors, and fits in my purse too.

Want to basically be on your computer's desktop via your iPad? You can! Just hook into Splashtop, leave your computer at your desk, and roll into your meeting with just the iPad. Where I work you can also now use Microsoft Communicator straight from your iPad through the Lync 2010 app, so I may find myself using Splashtop less and less.


This app has saved my life. Holy shit. If you travel even moderately, you HAVE to have it. You link it to an email address (mine is linked to work since that's where I get most of my travel confirmations). Once it's linked, you just forward travel confirmations (flight, hotel, car service, you name it) to and it auto-creates trips based on dates, consolidates all your info, lists it out in sequential order, and more. It really rocks. I haven't gone to the pro version, as I hear it's pretty expensive...but I'm tempted.

Got this one from a British colleague. We went on a field trip to a brewery and the whole way he was like "did you know we're right by where George Washington..", "did you know we're near the first site of...". I finally asked where the crap he was getting all this info. The answer? Wikipanion. It looks around your location for Wikipedia entries. Very cool.

I don't watch the news. I don't read the paper. And I don't surf the internet to check the latest. But I do use CNN on my iPhone every morning. I scan the top stories to get a sense of what's going on in the world, delve into articles that interest me, and I probably know more about what's happening when someone mentions it in the office than anyone else around. You don't have to be a news junkie to sound smart :) It'll be our little secret. I also use the Flipboard news content block as well.

Traveling and can't sleep because of noises in the hall (or the next room over is going at it?), turn on WhiteNoise. Has some great track options, including waves, rain, etc. Cheap and simple. No noise machine needed.

Okay, you're going to think I'm nuts. Last year I bought a scale that, every time I get on it, sends my weight and BMI to this app on my iPhone. I don't use this all the time, but there is some value to being able to see trending over time that involves nothing other than just jumping on the scale.

Those are my faves, what are yours? Hasta, sabbaticaljo

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I got a sweet note from a friend today who read the last couple day's blog posts and said they were helpful (I also got a note from another friend saying he thought I'd missed a couple key points, and I'm interested to hear his perspective...will share when I do!). Her message got me thinking a bit about inspiration today. The idea that I could do, or say, something small that could positively impact someone else's life, who then goes on to improve someone else's, who then goes on to improve someone else's, and so on. Powerful and exciting.

Back in the Fall I was chatting with a friend over a period of weeks about life, taking risks, positivity (blogger is telling me this isn't even a word...but I digress), and all sorts of interesting things. In the midst of all of this, my friend took a huge step in deciding to go after a master's degree in a subject he's really in to. In the matter of a six week period he went from deciding, signing up, and going across the country for his first class in a two-year program. Awesome! Now, he would say I had a hand in all of this, but I suspect he's just not giving himself enough credit, and I think he would have got there regardless of my involvement. But here's the funny thing...ultimately he's totally motivated me to think about taking my interests outside of my career to the next level through more formal means.

As much as I find a masters or MBA interesting, I'm not willing to put in that much effort for something I'm not sure will help me career wise. But, I've always loved to take classes. I've probably sold more community education classes than a catalog ever did! You know, it's those catalogs in the mail that you always throw right into the trash? Yeah, those ones.

So, my first thought? How can I get work to pay me to learn more about something I'm interested in that would benefit me beyond my formal career?

Around the same time I was on an eight-hour drive with a close friend and colleague. It was a personal trip, but the conversation dipped into work and we started discussing an upcoming event we were involved in around personality types and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I actually blogged about MBTI last year in Decisions, Decisions (the same post I referenced last night. Apparently it was a good one!). One of the four dichotomies is Thinking or Feeling, so I'd focused on that in my previous post, and you can read more about MBTI basics there. Anyway, needless to say, the topic of personality type and the way that we look at the world in such different ways has always intrigued me. I've been involved in a number of programs and sessions on the topic over the years, and I knew that you could get certified to administer the MBTI assessment and interpret results, but I'd never given it much thought. So here we are in the car, about hour four, and it hits me..I should get certified. I can learn more about it, use it at work, and maybe it will spark some other inspiration somewhere. And, not only that, but my close friend and colleague should do it to! He was totally in.

When we got back to the office a few days later I sold the price-tag to one of our bosses, got it approved, and signed up. After a four-day session in Colorado in May I'll be certified. Sweet! Do you ever notice how, once you decide to do something like this, things move swiftly?! Love it. Just by being close to someone who took a leap, here I was making something happen - and dragging someone else along with me. Brilliant!

But, it gets even better. Back in January, I had told my cousin and her mom (my aunt) about the masters program that my friend had entered in to, since it seemed really relevant to my cousin. Some background; she was adopted from Russia and has some learning disabilities. She's in her twenties now, and has always struggled with school and staying motivated. A few weeks after my MBTI revelation, I was back in California. And my grandmother told me the coolest story. I came to find out that my cousin drove to check out the school and their certificate and undergrad programs. She has her associates degree and, while it may not ultimately be a good fit for her, the fact that she went to check it out when she's always had a challenge finding inspiration to get out and try new things was so incredibly cool to me (and my whole family).

Even if nothing comes of it, the fact that one person making a personal leap for a masters program inspired a whole chain affecting me, a close friend and colleague, and my family. This is serious shit! I owe some real gratitude to my friend who's kicked all this off (don't worry, I emailed him a few weeks ago to tell him all about it :)

I read an article about inspiration this week. It gives some simple tips for breaking your routine to expand your horizons and get inspired. Number one? Take a different route to work. Now, if I was reading this for the first time, I admit that I might try to call bullshit. But, you know how sometimes you read about a subject or topic and then it just keeps popping up? Last week I had just got sucked into Hulu's Day in the Life episode on Mario Batali. Want to know what I remember most about the episode? That a man who is running around NYC all week, and who's empire demands creativity, remarked that the worst thing for creativity is to “settle into the same day every day.”  So, do you know what he does? Even if he’s walking into one place a few days in row, he makes a point of taking a different route each day to engage his mind. Son of a bitch! Maybe there's nothing to this, but it certainly sounds worth trying, eh?

What are you doing to get inspired? To break the routine? Cause' here's the really exciting thing. If you get inspired...people around you just might do the same. And that's positively wicked...

Hasta, sabbaticaljo

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Regret and screwing the gremlin

Two blog posts in a row! My new plan to come home and blog before I get trapped in front of the TV has so far been successful. Beautiful.

With the anniversary of my friend's death this week, which I blogged about last night, I've been reflecting on making the most of this life we're all living together. A friend recently forwarded me a link to an article from the UK where a nurse had recorded the five most common regrets of the dying. The article is based on a book aptly titled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. She wrote the book after blogging about patient's dying epiphanies.

Number one regret? I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. It's so simple. Frankly, they all were...

2) I wish I hadn't worked so hard
3) I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings
4) I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5) I wish that I had let myself be happier

I admit that I was mostly feeling good about where I'm at when I read the list. When I read the list again a little closer, the two areas I will probably always have to be careful of are not working so hard, and having the courage to express my feelings. Ironically, these were both topics of a blog post I wrote back in February 2011 called Decisions, Decisions.

I've been really focusing on the expression of feelings part as well. Ironically, I've always been relatively articulate, and never shied away from talking about hard subjects...but when it came to feelings I always sounded like a jackass because, frankly, I didn't even really understand how I felt. Now that I can sort through what I'm feeling, I'm getting better and better at coming out with it. I've got a few examples, with one that's quite recent that I think you'll be interested to hear about...but it'll need it's own post so I'll hold back. You may now wait with baited breath!

So back to this whole working-too-hard thing? Since returning from my sabbatical, I haven't worked a single weekend (um, but don't tell anyone that, k?) and I'm consistently home by 6 (you'll have to trust me that this is, in fact, an improvement). But is that what this is really about? Hours? This intersection of happiness and career has always interested me. Should we search our whole lives for the career that fulfills us? Or should we treat work like just a job, and use it to maximize our "real" life outside of the hours of 9 to 5 (okay, who am I kidding...outside the hours of 8 to 6...still an improvement)? Does work make us happy? Or does being happy make us successful at work?

I'm reading a lot of interesting stuff about this. As I'm typing there are like five things I want to share with you. But then I'll be screwed the rest of the week with nothing to blog about. But I will share with you one of my favorite TEDTalks of late by Shawn Achor. It's only twelve minutes and you have to watch it. It's brilliant. Seriously. You need to watch it. Right. Now. You're already reading the blog, what's another twelve minutes. I'll still be here when you get back...

Okay, so eight minutes and fourteen seconds in he says this: only 25% of job successes are predicted by IQ. 75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat. Well if that isn't a business case for being happy, I don't know what is! This guy's got me thinking a lot about this whole concept of positive psychology.

I'll close with my favorite regret from the list; I wish I had let myself be happier. As I reflect on the last year, which began with my return from sabbatical in April 2011, I feel so incredibly grateful that I've let myself be happy - and not feel guilty about it. I've always been a risk taker; a cliff jumper; a challenger of the status quo. But there's always that sneaky little shit of a gremlin deep down challenging whether or not I deserve it. Well, screw you, gremlin. I am happy and I do deserve it ;)

When your time is up, will you have made the most out of this life? I hope so...'cause I hear you only get the one.

Hasta, sabbaticaljo

Monday, April 9, 2012


I've been reading a lot about happiness lately. "Positive Psychology" if you want to be really fancy about it. There's a common theme about maintaining an attitude of gratefulness and its impact on well-being. A 2010 WSJ article on the topic says that adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not.

I'm in the middle of reading "The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want". In a section called "A Program for Lasting Happiness" the author cites a University of Pennsylvania study where a group of severly depressed people were instructed to recall and write down three good things that happened every day. Within fifteen days their depressions lifted from "severely depressed" to "mildly to moderately depressed" and 94 percent of them experienced relief. Now, I wouldn't classify myself as depressed, but I liked the idea. So, I've been experimenting with writing down three things I'm grateful at the end of most days. The folks at have been nice enough to set up a free gratitude journal which works great for this purpose. Today I wanted to share my gratitude to one of my closest and dearest friends who, five years ago this week, died unexpectedly.

On a normal evening in April 2007 she changed her clothes, grabbed her yoga mat, kissed her husband and daughter (not even two) goodbye, and went to the local gym. While in class, she suffered a brain anuerism and died. No symptoms. No warning. I'll never forget getting the call from her husband. I had just moved to a new state the week before. I was in New York for a meeting. It was early there, around 7 AM. When I saw the phone ring, knowing it was 4 AM in California, I was already worried. Nothing good was going to come of picking up the phone. The words out of his mouth? "We've lost [her]".

I was on a plane within an hour and a half, and at the house within seven. While it was horrible those first few days, it was mostly surreal. There was so much to be done. People to call, arrangements to be made. The days went by quickly, but the evenings...oh, the evenings. After her daughter was put to bed and the bustle of the house died down, her husband and I would sit and talk. Or not talk. Or cry.

I had the opportunity to speak at her funeral. I'll never know if I actually said the things in my speech I'd written down. It was a blur. I went and found what I'd written for the occasion...

"When I was thinking of what I might want to say to everyone here today, I kept coming back to the same thoughts.  That the person I really wanted to talk to was [her].  

  • I wanted to tell her that I read a really great book last month that she should consider for book club.  
  • I wanted to tell her that I started looking into camping trips in the Midwest and wished she could drag the motorhome out there to come visit.  
  • I wanted to tell her that I watched Grey’s Anatomy last week and laugh about how we consistently cried at Thursday night’s episodes.
  • I wanted to tell her that I finally got around to using my crockpot, but that I still can’t figure out how she just throws meals together with ease.
  • I wanted to tell her that the Macy’s gift certificate I bought her for her birthday better have been spent on her, and not on someone else, even tough I know that’s what she would have done anyway.  
  • I wanted to tell her I loved the pictures she sent over of her beautiful daughter. 
  • I wanted to tell her she was an amazing mother. 
  • I wanted to tell her that I loved her.  
  • I wanted to tell her that I missed her.

Of all the things I could stand up here and say, what I most wanted to convey was how thankful I am to have known her.  She’s changed me in ways I can’t even describe.  And I know there are a lot of people here that know what I’m talking about.  No matter who you are, there was always something to admire about her.  And when I look around, I continue to be thankful to have met so many of you because of her. There is no doubt that the world will be worse off without her.  But we are all better people for having known her."

I finished off with a quote that I had found in the days after she died:

If I never met you, I wouldn't like you. If I didn't like you, I wouldn't love you. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't miss you. But I did, I do, and I will.

Her loss affected me profoundly. It reminded me that I was strong, but that being strong doesn't mean I can't be weak. It reminded me that life is short, but not so short that you shouldn't plan for your future. It reminded me that losing someone you love is incredibly painful, but not so painful that you shouldn't love freely and fully. It reminded me that being there without being asked to is an essential part of friendship, but being there for others doesn't mean I can't also be there for myself.

This week I will try to remind myself of these lessons, and to be grateful. Grateful that I am alive. Grateful that I am successful. Grateful that I am strong. Grateful that I am independent. Grateful that I'm letting myself feel without fear. Grateful that I am capable of loving. Grateful that I am capable of being loved. And grateful that, even in death, she's still reminding me of all there is in this life.

Hasta, sabbaticaljo