Friday Favorites: 9/8/17

As a freelancer, I have a habit of letting the work week trickle into my weekends. I appreciate having flexibility during the week to run errands and go to the gym whenever. But without any clear boundaries, you can end up working in some capacity seven days a week.

So this labor day weekend I forced myself to take some work-free time to do actual activities (not just veg on the couch or end up reorganizing my dresser drawers…which I totally need to do.) It was great! And it inspired my first Friday favorite:

Driving Golf Balls

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I’m not a great golfer. In fact, I’ve only played an actual game once in my life. But I love driving golf balls. There is a nostalgic element to it. I grew up in a town with NOTHING to do as a teenager. The only options were basically fast food, coffee, or the mall, and you had to drive to the next town to get to anything. But there were a few driving ranges in close proximity. So, for $10 or $15, you could get a bucket of balls and hang out at the driving range.

In NYC, the best place to hit golf balls is Chelsea Piers. The multi-level platform is heated year round  (we didn’t need that feature this weekend) and overlooks the Hudson River. I definitely paid more than I did as a teenager in rural Massachusetts, but I only go a couple times a year. There’s also no freshly cut grass smell, but plenty of yachts and sea gulls!

Pixel Computer Glasses

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These things are eyeball savers. I’m on the computer A LOT. After a few hours, my eyeballs feel like they’re going to melt right out of my head. These glasses filter out blue light and make the screen so much easier to look at. I actually feel a different the second I put them on.

Peace Rollerball

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I have to admit that when I first smelled this “Peace” blend I wasn’t a fan. But now I get it. Is it possible for your olfactory bulb to change over time like your taste buds? The blend uses vetiver, lavender, frankincense, ylang ylang, marjoram, and spearmint, and it’s such a calming, stabilizing scent. I’ve been keeping it at the computer and swiping it on before I head out to deal with the stress of the world. Give peace a chance!

What are you into this week?

Home Workouts for When the Weather Sucks

I have regular access to three gyms, all of which are within a 15-minute walk. But sometimes – especially when the wind is whipping down the slushy streets of Brooklyn – I just don’t have it in me to layer up and leave the house. Luckily, as a personal trainer and fitness nerd, I’ve amassed a decent collection of multi-purpose exercise equipment:

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Ab Carver Pro, 15 lb slam ball, old ass dumbbell, and ALL the bands.

(Aside: I posted this same photo on Instagram the other night, and my friend Sara commented that it looked like I’d raided the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ supply closet.)

If I were a programming a workout for a client, I would sit down and spend some dedicated time considering their goals and interests so I could put together a workout that balanced cardio, resistance training and mobility. But, honestly, I was pressed for time and feeling spontaneous, so I just kinda winged it… And it turned out to be fun and challenging.

The lesson – planning exercise can help keep you on track with your goals, but sometimes overthinking workouts can get in the way of actually doing them.

If you’re curious, Here’s what I did:

2 sets of

Tabata: no push-up burpee (I have downstairs neighbors)

6-minute AMRAP of

3 sets of banded monster walks

  • forward, backward, left, right

Tabata: alternating banded pull-aparts and curtsy squats

5 Rounds:

3 Rounds with ab roller

  • 10 forward
  • 5 right
  • 5 left

Turkish Get-up practice with dumbbell – I struggle with form/sequencing on this, so I’ve been trying to fit in some practice time at the end of workouts.

I got it all done in under an hour, and I was super sweaty. Success!

If you’re interested in adding home workouts to your schedule but don’t have much in the way of equipment, here’s a little workout I put together for a recent Men’s Journal article. You only need a chair!

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Question: Do you work out at home? What are some of your tips and/or challenges?

On Working “Alone”

I’ve been freelancing and working from home for just about two years now, and the number one thing that people ask me about is whether or not I miss the standard, daily dose of human interaction that comes with an office job and co-workers.

The truth is that I don’t.

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Yes, I’m an introvert. And I mostly write for a living, which is a solitary profession by nature. But, I also really do enjoy teamwork, collaboration and a lively exchange of ideas. It sounds funny and maybe unbelievable, but I actually feel like I connect with people on a more meaningful level now that I work for myself.

In the simplest of terms, it’s a quality vs. quantity issue. I’m not discounting the quality of all my professional interactions prior to going independent – I’ve learned tons from my past gigs, found mentors, and created life-long friendships. But for every truly memorable and important conversation I had working a 9-to-5, I probably had a hundred that were a complete waste of time. My days were stuffed with unnecessary check-ins, endless “due diligence” phone calls, and meetings that no one cared about. And don’t forget about the hours spent trying to just schedule all these pointless interactions.

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And worse was the way meetings and phone calls were often exploited in unhealthy, politically charged work environments. Ever been on a call and realize its true purpose is to antagonize, expose, or enact revenge on a colleague? Unfortunately, most of us have.

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No one wastes my time like this anymore. (I’m not saying I don’t waste time. I certainly do, but it’s always on my terms.) Maybe it’s because I’m on the periphery and not on the payroll, so clients are more mindful of my time. But I think it’s mostly because I’m doing something that I truly love, and I’m getting to seek out who I want to work with.

These days, I probably average one or two phone calls or meetings a week, and I’m (almost) always excited to have them. They (almost) all feel like opportunities. Opportunities to work on something new, make a current project better, or learn from an expert. A ringing phone used to fill me with a sense of dread, but I’ve grown to really enjoy interviewing people, especially people who are just as excited about what they’re doing as I am.

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This is where I find that sense of community and partnership. Sure, every once in a while it would be nice to spontaneously walk to Starbucks with a coworker or vent about my frustrations (still got those) with a colleague in the office next door. But I’ll forgo all these perks if I can keep the vast majority of my interactions positive and purposeful.

What’s your ideal work environment?

Geek for Print

Please humor me while I geek out just a little over seeing my name in the October print edition of Men’s Journal.

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I’ve been contributing to MensJournal.com for well over a year, and it’s been great. I’ve written about everything from training plateaus and Olympic weightlifting to hand care and tattoo cover-ups. I’ve interviewed experts in experts in exercise science and nutrition, as well as the fittest man on earth. I’m excited every time one of my articles goes live, but I was particularly giddy to see a condensed version of a story I wrote on resistance training make it to print.

I’ve been hearing that the print magazine industry is dead for at least 15 years, and I’m sure there were rumblings way before that. When I worked in PR and marketing, I saw both new publications with tons of promise and old books with extensive histories fold. In less than two years of freelance writing, I’ve witnessed the same thing firsthand.

But, I refuse to think the industry is “dead.” I think it’s a hard industry, and maybe one that’s been too resistant to change and evolution. But I can tell you that there are some really smart, creative people in charge (at least on the editorial side) and tons of writers who are stoked to claim just a tiny corner of print real estate. Print is special for that reason – unlike the internet, which is limitless and dynamic, print is a carefully planned experience. And one that can’t be changed after the fact. I think that kind of curation and permanence is unique and appealing at a time when so much content feels instantly disposable.

I suppose I’m one of those hardcover-reading Luddites with piles of magazines on the kitchen table who can’t get used to a Kindle and still values a more tactile reading experience. Maybe we’re slowly dying off and taking the industry with us, but I really hope not. I hope I keep seeing my name in print. In the meantime, I”ll keep buying magazines.

ICYMI – Week of January 18, 2016

I like ALL of my clients and editors. (Getting to choose who I work with is one of my favorite things about working for myself.) But, OfficeNinjas is among my favorites. When I went freelance, they were one of the first companies to hire me, and they certainly set the bar with their entrepreneurial energy (it’s contagious!), attention to detail and passion for quality. Plus, they’re just nice. In my book, niceness counts. A LOT.

One of the first big projects we worked on together was Admin Week, a week-long celebration for executive assistants, receptionists, operations managers, and other admin pros  (a.k.a. “Office Ninjas”). We worked together to shape and brand the campaign elements, and I generated oodles of online content. Setting the groundwork for Admin Week was tons of work, but we cranked and pulled it off.

It’s always a thrill to see your words and ideas come to life, but it’s truly validating to see a campaign return for a second year.

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Credit: OfficeNinjas.com

Also cool? Reading the comments on the blog post announcing Admin Week’s return. Admins’ work often goes unnoticed and unappreciated, which makes a campaign just for them that much more meaningful.

If you’re an administrative professional, I strongly encourage you to subscribe to the OfficeNinjas’ newsletter and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

ICYMI – WEEK OF JANUARY 11, 2016

I’m not knocking e-content at all, but there’s something so exciting about seeing your name in print. I’ve been writing for TheBoxMag.com for a while now, but my first print piece was recently published in the January/February 2016 issue.

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The Box – January/February 2016 Issue

I had the opportunity to interview PT gurus Kelly Starrett and C. Shanté Cofield on why mobility is so important to athletes, specifically CrossFitters. Even though I feel like I just scratched the surface of this topic, I learned a TON and feel super proud of this article.

You can order the January/February issue of The Box online or pick it up at your local Barnes & Noble.

Looking for more reading material? Check out my Contently profile!

ICYMI – Week of January 4, 2016

In case you missed it, I wrote a (hopefully helpful) article about yoga and stress for OxygenMag. It’s no secret that a sweaty Vinyasa or a chill Hatha class can help you feel more calm and centered. But, in the event that you simply don’t have time to get to a class (or maybe you don’t feel like looking at other peoples’ feet – I’ve been there), you can work through these poses in 10-15 minutes from home and maybe feel a little better. Enjoy!

5 Yoga Poses That Can Reduce Stress

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Credit: OxygenMagazine.com

Looking for more reading material? Check out my Contently profile!

Just some thoughts on the cancellation of my favorite TV show and also humanity

I know I just wrote about TV, but you must have heard that we’re in the golden age of television. There is so much good TV. And also lots of bad and mediocre TV. You can really do a number on what should have been a productive weekend (or a random Tuesday night) with all the choices you have. But, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. And, if you’re already a fan of HBO’s original series Getting On, you also already know it’s one of the most brilliant shows in recent history.

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But, if you haven’t seen it, don’t feel bad for a couple reasons. 1 – Most people haven’t. This little gem flew under the radar for three seasons, during which I asked pretty much everyone I knew if they were watching it. (No one was.) It was critically acclaimed, but it wasn’t supported by a ton of publicity. Plus it takes place in the extended care wing in a decrepit, under-funded hospital. It doesn’t have the drama of ER or House’s mystery. Its cast is mostly elderly, and the staff is typically dealing with grim, un-sexy issues like constipation and wound care…

(So, maybe this is why the show was a bit of a hard sell?  You mean you don’t want to tune in every Sunday night to watch a clinical staff wrangle anal horns – a thing, btw – and medicate dying patients?)

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So, the second reason you shouldn’t feel too bad about missing it is because, thanks to the way we know consume media, you’ll be able to watch on-demand in a million places, I’m sure, from now until eternity. And, really, you DO want to watch it.

There’s the amazing cast. This may sound a little “duh,” but you get the sense that the cast was really cast. Like, they didn’t just pick some people that look hot in lab coats, and there wasn’t a big “star” (in the traditional sense of the word) to draw people in. The actors they picked for the main roles– Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash and Mel Rodrqiguez – are believable as their characters and bring layers and layers of comedy and tragedy to their roles and the writing.

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Oh, and dear god, the writing. The wizards in that writing room found comedic gold in topics like bi-polar disorder,  insurance fraud, and fecal matter studies. And I’m not talking about cheap laughs. I’m talking about smart, complicated, expensive, if you will, laughs about fecal matter studies.

And then there’s the final episode, which I can’t stop thinking about and is sort of the inspiration for this whole rambling post. I guess I should type *Spoiler Alert,* even though plot twists and surprises aren’t really the show’s main selling points. In what I like to think is a very meta, art imitating life turn of events, the extended care unit is closed down and the staff is forced to think about moving on. Even though none of the characters were particularly satisfied in their current positions, they feel displaced and disempowered. Like their hard work never got the respect it deserved, and they were unceremoniously nudged out before they really got the chance to show everyone what they could do. (Like how so many of their dying patients probably felt!)

Maybe because I love the show so much, I’m reading into things, but the final scenes also felt like a commentary on the show’s cancellation. The characters – Didi (Niecy Nash) in particular – put up a fight, but ultimately they give in to the inevitable, unfair hand they’ve been dealt. The hospital closes. The show ends.

The last thing Dr. James (Laurie Metcalf) says to Nurse Dawn is this:

“There is no justice, but there is mercy, because that is what we can give to each other.”

And THIS is what’s been on my mind. I fell in love with the on-screen moment (I won’t ruin that plot point with more detail), and the quote imprinted on my brain. I think because it is a near-perfect of expression of what I’ve been learning and relearning and starting to actually understand as time passes.

What your parents and teachers told you is actually true: life isn’t fair. We don’t get what we need or deserve. The wrong things happen to the right people, and vice versa. Life is often very sad and disappointing. But you can find relief, comfort and sometimes answers in human relationships.

And, as I bawled over the final moments of the final episode ever of Getting On, I was grateful to Dr. James for the reminder.

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Related questions: Is life fair? Do we, as humans, have truly have the power to give one another mercy? Is it healthy to become this invested in a TV show?