Burning Out; Burning Bright

Burnt Out; Burning Bright

Contrary to evidence otherwise, I haven’t slipped out the back door of this blog never to appear again. Life just got incredibly full for awhile–the kind of full that results from blizzard after blizzard pushing plans this way and that until they all have to happen in a much more rapid succession than anyone planned. There have been great highs, unexpected lows–but mostly, it’s just been ridiculously busy.

Finally, I’m catching my breath.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a cottage on the east side of Oahu, the island on which I grew up. Trade winds are pushing their way through the Ti leaf plants and then past the curtains. The clouds are threatening rain, which, at this point, is a little like an adorable child trying (unsuccessfully) to be frightening. We love the fat, warm raindrops and the rainbows that come afterward. I love that someone is mowing their grass right now–how many days have passed since the last time I heard that sound?

This is the third year James has come home with me, and for the first time we aren’t skidding across the island, trying to cram in visits with friends and family. After the year of hospital stays, Lyme disease, huge projects, a gigantic office move (for James), and storm after storm, we made the decision to actually do in Hawaii what normal people do: relax.

I have big news to share with you in a few days, but for the time being I’ll be hanging out with my favorite people–my family–eating delicious things, hanging out on the beach, and generally remembering what it’s like to breathe again.

Love, Joy

P.S. Some of my favorite places on Oahu.

Why I Use Self-Hypnosis

Tried and True: Hypnosis to ease anxiety and to promote better sleep

A few weeks ago, I was faced with a big decision–the teeth-grinding, jaw-locking (literally) kind of decision that I wrestled with on so many levels. On the outside, it looked like the perfect opportunity; I fell in love with it the way that you fall in love with a pair of shoes that would be perfect if it weren’t for the fact that they were a size too small.

As I wrestled with the decision, I think my subconscious mind knew exactly what to do. Every once in awhile–standing at the kitchen sink, sitting in the car, in the inky blackness before sleep–I’d burst out saying, “I don’t think this is going to work.” It was loud and clear, but my conscious mind kept trying to shoot it down.

The subconscious carries incredible power, not just to tell you when you’re about to do something you’ll regret later (that “gut reaction”), but also to put you on the right path. During the period I was struggling with this decision I woke up with lockjaw five or six nights in a row. I noticed that I was hungry all the time. I wasn’t sleeping well. When I finally paid attention to my subconscious screaming at me, I remembered that hypnosis had gotten me through similar situations in the past, and I turned back to it for relief.

It worked.

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation, similar to that state just before you fall asleep, when you can still hear dogs barking in the distance or people speaking in another room. Unlike depictions in the media, you’re aware of your surroundings and actions while under hypnosis. Hypnosis is useful for changing habits or starting new ones; things like beginning an exercise program, calming anxiety, or becoming more productive. For those who can be hypnotized, it’s also an excellent way to manage pain.

Hypnotherapist Dr. John Ryder does a better job of explaining it:

“Do you remember getting lost in thought? The most common example is when you are in a car, bus, or train, thinking about something until you get surprised, catching yourself reaching your stop or exit and you return to the normal alert state of awareness. That is a typical example of a trance, your mind being in two places at the same time.”

How to Hypnotize Yourself

Self-hypnosis can be as simple as becoming very relaxed and repeating a mantra to yourself, but since I have a busy mind, I turn to a series of apps which use recordings and something called a “Hypnotic Booster” (a white noise that makes me feel like I’m floating in the ocean).

You can use hypnosis at any time of day but I do it at night, and it never fails to help me fall asleep. Here are the steps:

  1. Get very comfortable. Lie down or sit in a recliner.
  2. Put on headphones or ear buds. Turn off your ringer, text alerts, etc. Turn on the recording.
  3. Relax! Listen to the recording, which will take you through some breathing and visualization exercises. It’s not necessary to listen intently; think of it as background noise. You may fall asleep. That’s great! In fact, that’s my favorite part.

I’ve had success with the recordings from Surf City Apps (which has a huge range, including relief from migraines, smoking cessation, and enjoyment of exercise recordings), as well as the Happy App.

The older I get, the more I find that alternatives to traditional medicine generally work best for the treatment of these kinds of small, nagging problems. Have you ever tried hypnosis with any success? I’d love to hear about your experiences.




Let’s Pretend It’s Springtime

Spring Forward: Biker Meets Blooms #floral #fashion

As I write this, yet more snow is falling outside my window, adding to the 100+ inches we’ve already gotten here in New England. The snow piles are beginning to resemble small mountains. We’re ready for spring more than ever before, excited to retire our down jackets and snow boots and mittens and hats and Yak Tracks.

The one thing keeping me sane: in less than two weeks we spring forward! That doesn’t mean spring is here just yet, but it does put hope in my nearly frozen heart. I’ve actually enjoyed wearing a lot of black and–my favorite–grey this winter, but as the flower stalls begin to fill with tulips and ranunculus, my eye is turning toward color and florals (my other favorite).

And while I usually tend to go for classic pieces, lately I’ve been feeling a little more adventurous. My timeless trench will still see plenty of wear this year, but I think I’m finally ready to take the dive for a moto of my own. This one from Forever 21 is low-risk anyway, with a price point under $30.

What’s warming up your wardrobe as you look to spring?

Jacket: Forever 21 // Earrings: J. Crew // Top: Modcloth // Pants: Old Navy // Boots: Nordstrom

Romance Your Career

Romance Your Career | Simple ideas to boost your career and avoid a slump

Some of you are probably wondering where the Valentine’s Day posts are this year. There are a few things at play here: one is that we’ve gotten over 60 inches of snow in the last couple of weeks, which means everything gets crammed into the leftover days, leaving little time for craft and food shopping. The other is that I’ve been a wee bit preoccupied with The Big Project Melissa and I have in the works, and with building a tool chest for my career.

I’m at that point in my current job where I understand how all the machinery works, so there’s room to begin thinking about how to grow from the foundation I’ve laid. Raise your hands if you’ve been in your job for over a year! It’s easy to get comfortable, right?

But I think that by continuing to dig deeper, continuously learn, and check in with ourselves, you can keep the love affair with your career going. It’s like dating your spouse. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean the romance goes out the door. Here are a few awesome ways to kick things up a notch:

Spice It Up

Listen to industry podcasts: James works in technology, so he’s always keeping up with trends by listening to podcasts on network infrastructure. This inspired me to find some social media podcasts, which I listen to in the car. I’m currently enjoying the Social Media Marketing Happy Hour, which run about 15 minutes. This podcast is like the gummy vitamin of job growth for me because they’re happy, bite-sized episodes that keep me up-to-date on what’s happening in the social media landscape. I sent a bit of advice that I learned from this show to a list of faculty and staff who I run workshops for on campus and they were thrilled!

Drink More Coffee: I’m a big fan of Ramit Sethi’s work because he focuses on how to be a higher quality entrepreneur or employee in order to find more success, not just how to appear to be one. Sethi suggests getting together with friends and acquaintances for quick coffee meetings several times a month. The idea is that you’ll strengthen your existing relationships and create new connections in other organizations, both of which could help broaden your horizons (and vice versa).

Make Plans: Stop coasting! If you have a good idea of what your team’s goals are, set your own goals to help in getting there. If it’s not clear, or if you just want to be 100% sure, sit down with your boss and ask if there are contributions that you, specifically, can make in the next three to six months to help the team achieve more. Check in with your goals on a daily basis. I’m testing the Golden Scale app, which breaks goals down into manageable chunks. Have you tried it? I’d love to know about whether or not you’ve had success with it or other goal setting apps.

P.S. Okay, some of you are still kind of bummed about the lack of Valentine’s Day love here. For you, here’s a DIY, a series on modern romance, and some Valentine’s-centric recipes. Bake some heart-shaped palmiers and take them to work!

The Upside of Mercury Retrograde

The Upside to Mercury Retrograde // Frock Files

We’re smack in the middle of Mercury Retrograde, which is a period when Mercury slows down and appears to begin moving backward (an optical illusion, but that’s where it got the title “retrograde”). Three times a year, for three weeks, Mercury Retrograde pops up and causes all kinds of problems with communication, technology, and transportation. A couple of years ago, James got three flat tires in two days during Mercury Retrograde. This year, I’ve found that I’m running into all kinds of frustrating communication issues. And it seems to be happening to all of my friends and family members too!

So it can be hard to see the good things about Mercury Retrograde, but since it happens to take up a whopping nine weeks every year, I figured there must be an upside. As we’ve been slammed with snow out here on the East Coast, I’ve come to the realization that Mercury Retrograde is a little bit like a blizzard. Yeah, you probably won’t be able to go anywhere. You might even lose power. But it gives you the time to hunker down and really think about where you want to go from here.

Here’s what the experts have to say about how to get the most out of Mercury Retrograde:

The Upside to Mercury Retrograde // Frock Files“You can take those big ideas left simmering on the back burner and bring them forward. Finish something you started a long time ago. Complete items on your nagging long-overdue list.” – Slade Roberson


The Upside to Mercury Retrograde // Frock Files“Eventually, when this retrograde is over, the more positive side of Mercury in Aquarius will take over. The ideas and solutions that are proposed are truly innovative and better thought out, and more likely to work. They are likely to be both brilliant and practical solutions.” – Larry Schwimmer for the Huffington Post

“This period is best used for re-organizing and reflecting. We look at the world a little differently–through different filters–and can come up with some very important inner revelations.” – Cafe Astrology

As someone who generally acts quickly on decisions, I’ve begun to appreciate Mercury Retrograde for the time it gives me to pause and consider the long term impact of my choices. I’ve also used it as a period to dig into a few projects that have been pushed to the back burner. It’s an excellent time to get into “head down” mode so that there’s a new foundation for greater momentum once Mercury speeds up again on February 11.

How have you been faring during this round of Mercury Retrograde?

P.S. It looks like our pal Phil saw his shadow this morning, predicting another six weeks of winter. Please excuse me while I go and watch another episode of Hawaii Life.

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