Coffee Coffee Coffee...

There's one phrase that comes out of my mouth at least 7 times a week - "I need coffee!". It's become a staple of the work day, one of the most important parts of my morning.  Today, 40% of 18-24 year old drink coffee daily (up from 31% in 2010). But is this a healthy habit? Can we become too dependent on caffeine? Is it more of a social workplace norm than anything else?

fdae9f37a2756e25d38f14129d8678e4.jpg

To date, no amount of research definitively supports coffee as a healthy beverage or one that is detrimental to consumers. Some studies have found that it can reduce the risk for diabetes and help aid in weight loss by increasing your metabolism. Other studies focus on coffee's ability to raise blood pressure and cause sleeplessness. Overall, moderation seems to be the key word to live by in the coffee realm. The benefits of one or two cups a day outweigh the risks in the majority of circumstances. Phew! because I just don't think I could live without my Starbucks :)

Speaking of Starbucks - what's your favorite coffee chain? This brings me back to my curiosity about coffee becoming more of a  "social-professional norm" than a morning pick-me-up necessity. Check out this awesome map of coffee chains by popularity in the US:

I grew up in the Boston area and can attest to how accurate this is. I had 7 Dunkin Donuts in my small home town alone. Within a 3 mile range there were generally 3 Dunkies locations no matter where you were in Massachusetts. And where was Starbucks you might ask? No where in sight! Boston runs on Dunkin' :) 

Besides New England, the general population would most likely side with Starbucks. When I moved to Virginia I was quickly converted. Why do New Englanders love their Dunkin and Southeners love their Starbucks? The nerd in me loves this question!

Even if you don't have a coffee chain preference, you can probably recognize an adorable mug when you see one! My Anthropology "J" monogram mug is by far my favorite! 

I love bright, fun patterns! Everyone needs a reason to smile in the morning. Check out these fun ones from World Market: 

Hope you start your Monday morning with your favorite cup of coffee and have an amazing work week! 

 
Jen.jpg

Failure, Fear and the Pursuit of Gratitude


Failure has been my best friend since I can remember. It’s the only thing that I can identify with at every stage of my life.

In elementary school it was being friend zoned by the cutest boy in my class, in middle school it was fracturing my finger moments before I played in the biggest basketball game of my life and in high school it was not getting accepted into my dream school, Georgia State University.

However, the one failure that I always seem to resort back to happened in college when I failed Black & White Photography. I didn’t fail because I didn’t go to class or didn’t participate, I failed because I was so afraid of the dark that I couldn’t stay in the darkroom long enough to get the film safely in the canister without exposing it to light. 

My experience in Black & White Photography came up recently after I began to listen to Brenè Brown’s book “Daring Greatly” on Audible. Her fourth guidepost to “Wholehearted Living” speaks to gratitude and joy by letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark.

Quite naturally I immediately thought back to that somewhat traumatic experience but more importantly, when my own fears prevented me from being grateful for the people and experiences in my own life. 

Last year I left an amazing job in my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to move to DC to be closer to a boy and I was TERRIFIED! I loved my job, my supervisor and my beautiful apartment 2 blocks away from the Google building, but it was time for a new experience.

I spent two months prior to even submitting my first application worrying that I would be viewed as ungrateful and a disappointment. I felt that moving on would mean my first professional failure. As far as I was concerned, it was pure luck that got me the position I was in.

It wasn’t until my supervisor sat me down and told me that she supported me 100% to follow my heart that the fear went away. For the first time I wasn’t paralyzed by the darkness, I embraced it. Without realizing it, my supervisor had already prepared me for such a change. She had already given me the confidence I needed to succeed. 

On February 14, 2013 when I said goodbye, it was then that I wanted just a little more time to appreciate all of the amazing experiences I was so blessed to have. It’s true, you never appreciate what you have until it’s gone. 

So don’t fail to recognize all of the things you should be grateful for. Enjoy every experience because it helps to prepare you for the next one. Live in the NOW and show people they matter.

Join me in cultivating gratitude and joy by paying it forward everyday. Practicing gratitude will not only make you feel better, but it will help you in your journey of wholehearted living! 

Don’t forget to tweet us @PearlsPadfolios and tell us how you plan to cultivate gratitude in your own life.

 

How do I get an "A" around here?

Let's face it - we grew up in a generation where grades rule and learning drools. We were wired to compete for the grade, measure our worth based on report cards, and choose our college courses after consulting ratemyprofessor.com. Millennials are the A+ generation. The 4.0 kids who received trophys at the soccer game for losing and whose parents bragged about the number of medals hung in their bedrooms. I truly hate this stereotype, but looking back on my childhood, I can't deny that I lived it.

So what happens after graduation? When we enter what previous generations have called the "real" world? As far as I can tell, there are no medals, trophys or quarterly report cards to boost our confidence and bump up our self-worth. So how do we know we're excelling at our jobs? How the heck do we get an "A" around here?!

The easy answer - performance reviews. And I'll admit, this is logically the simplest conclusion. But that leaves us at one day of the year to "get the grade". There are no quizzes or exams along the way to help us take a pulse of how we're doing so we can improve. Or are there?

I'm hard on myself. I assume the worst. Without somewhat constant feedback I expect that I must be doing something wrong, which means I'm not getting a good "grade". What I've learned recently is that not having grades in the workplace is actually a wonderful thing! Confused? Well let's think about it...

Grades are permanent. They are black and white. In the office, I might receive a critical piece of feedback one afternoon and three positive comments about my work the next morning. The best part - I have the power to ultimately choose which "grade" is counted. By capitalizing on what I do well and quietly fixing the negative issue, I control how others perceive my work. Advocate and promote what you do well in the workplace and know that while you might not always receive positive feedback, you control how everyone perceives you. You own the red pen in the workplace so give yourself an A!

And if critical feedback is getting you down, like it inevitably will at times during you career, buy a new pair of shoes! Kidding... sort of. What I really mean by this is focus on exciting things coming down the pipeline at work. For me right now it's casual Fridays! And I'm loving my most recent purchase that I was able to justify because of this one week day of casual dress:

New Sperrys!

photo.JPG

Full post about casual Friday dress planning coming soon! Can't wait for sunny spring weather, cute clothes, and comfy Sperrys! 

 
Jen.jpg

In Assessments We Trust...

There’s no doubt that Divergent was one of best movies of 2014.

This dystopian novel turned movie explores the lives of various characters who’s society has divided them into five factions based on their aptitude tests: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Amity, and Candor.

The main character, Beatrice “Tris” Prior (Shailene Woodley), is Abnegation by birth; however at 16, she has come of age and must choose a faction for herself. To assist in this process, the society administers an aptitude test that provides suggestions on which faction is more suitable for the chooser’s personality.

In true movie fashion, Tris’s test results come back inconclusive, known better as “divergent”, and she must trust herself to decide on which faction best suits her. Here’s the kicker, once she picks, there’s no going back. 

Besides the fact that Tris’s love interest Four (Theo James) is one of the world’s most beautiful creatures, this movie touched on such an important subject, the art of trusting yourself. As I watched Tris struggle with her aptitude tests, I immediately thought back to the times that I myself struggled with deconstructing my own test results.

From the MBTI, Strongs, Strengthfinder and even those infamous BuzzFeed quizzes (apparently I should be living in Portland with a career as a Vice President and I should’ve majored in electrical engineering), we are constantly listening to other sources as they suggest things we should be doing instead of listening to our own hearts. 

Unlike the movie, what makes you different doesn't make you dangerous, it makes you YOU! Never forget, you know yourself better than any test out there. So when taking these assessments, don’t use the results as a crutch, but as a framework to decide how to make the most of the now by using your strengths and interests.

After all, as you change and evolve, so will the results of these tests. But when all else fails, just remember to take the advice of Marcus Garvey and let the sky be your limit and eternity be your measurement! 

 

Things I'm Loving Saturday

Happy Saturday! Instead of giving in to the urge to crash on the couch, drink a few too many cups of coffee, and catch up on some television shows, I'm going to first focus on all I've been loving lately.

1. Warm weather adventure planning

There's no better feeling in the world than leaving work when it's still light out! I love getting home after a long day feeling like it's still 3pm. This means it's time to take full advantage of the spring weather and plan some adventures. My husband and I are big outdoors people - we love hiking, kayaking, outdoors photography, and cookouts with friends. We started a list of all the adventures we hope to take this summer. Even things as small as walking to get ice cream instead of driving make the list. You know what else I love about this time of year? The sound of the "peepers" as my mom used to call them - you know those small toads that peep at night? I love them! It's the little things to make me smile while sitting outside with Kevin after work.

2. New Journal

Quayla and I went on our weekly Friday post-work outing - this week to Home Goods and Panera! I'm a sucker for adorable work supplies. This new chevron notebook makes me smile no matter how much I have on my to-do list. It's so important to add pieces that define you to your work environment. I don't believe in the old phrase "leave your personal life at home". We are defined by both our personal and professional lives and shouldn't have to live this sort of split personality life. The same bright colors and designs make me happy whether I'm at work or at home, so why should I not carry the same things with me wherever I go? All I know is that this $4 purchase was worth every penny! 

3. Inspirational Surprises

After a long week it sometimes feels as if Saturday and Sunday are simply not enough time to live our lives outside of work. It's important to remember along the way that we are responsible for our happiness (and trust me I am definitely one to forget this every now and then). You can turn even the most mundane tasks into moments of happiness.  I owe it to this little gem in a random Home Goods aisle for this great little reminder!

I hope some sun shines on all of you this weekend! Remember to enjoy those little moments, plan some new adventures, and find some ways to bring the things you enjoy outside of work into the office with you.

 

Jen.jpg