humor, Lists, Project Management

What I Wish I’d Known BEFORE My Month-Long Road Trip

I shift in my seat, lifting a hand to massage the knots in my neck. I glance at my notepad.

148 miles on this highway. Great. At least it’s not snowing. 

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Ha. Just kidding. Happy spring.

It’s been almost three weeks since I packed my car, left New Jersey, and headed north. Resigning from corporate America in March, I had had a one track mind:

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ALL THE TRAVEL!!!!!

It sounds like a dream come true, right? Freedom, adventure, new friends… What could go wrong?

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What I wish Id Known Before My Month Long Road Trip_24APR2019

Unlimited Cell Service? Psssshhh.

After discovering that the middle of Maine was a dead zone (at least for me), I took to hand writing my directions before entering unknown territory. Luckily, the impressively eclectic radio stations provided the perfect soundtrack for my 90s-style, Google maps-less travel. (Rant for another day: Why does New York City radio have the most monochromatic music on the face of the planet?)

directions to Canada
148 miles doesn’t look so bad when you’re singing Beastie Boys at the top of your lungs.

“Fully Equipped Kitchen” Means Very Different Things to Different People

If you’re planning to do any cooking on the road, and assuming your lodging (mostly AirBnbs, in my case) will come equipped with certain basics as described — think again. Here are some common items missing in one or all of my AirBnb kitchens: Ice cube trays, wine opener, strainer (colander), dishwasher soap/cleaner, pot large enough for boiling pasta, curtains (ahem), and spatula.

Curtain-less window
Thankfully, this looks right in through to the bathroom. On a busy highway.

Sitting All Day is Exhausting

Even with my lead foot, I couldn’t turn the drive from Nova Scotia to mid-coast Maine into anything less than a 10-hour trek. After 5-6 hours, everything starts to hurt, and even cycling in frigid, rainy headwind starts to sound appealing.

Jules-collapsed-on-floor
On second thought…

You’re Going to Spend More Money Than You Think You Are

As a [former] project manager, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t fully acknowledge the ‘over deadline, over budget’ mantra that accompanies so many projects – including road trip ones. Besides ALL THE GASOLINE, unplanned expenditures are bound to crop up almost daily. Like, oh, I don’t know, duty charges on your case of wine, forgetting your dog’s kibble and discovering he’ll accept no substitutions apart from homemade people food, and ice cube trays/spatulas/THINGS ANY NORMAL KITCHEN SHOULD HAVE.

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%*&*@. He’s never eating kibble again.

But lest you think road travel is all a pile of tears…

Most People Are Mostly Nice. Really Nice.

By far the best part of traveling alone is forcing yourself to rely on the kindness of others. Rarely did I find anyone who wasn’t more than willing to offer the insider scoop, their washer/dryer, or just a general helping hand. I’m headed back to New Jersey with friendships and experiences I never would have had were I to stay inside my comfort zone.

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Comfort zone? What comfort zone?

And isn’t that the whole point?

Next time, though? I’m bringing my $%&*@! colander.

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Have you ever road tripped? Was it what you expected?

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humor, Project Management

Flying by the Seat of My…Color-Coded Schedule

Go Jules Go Title Graphic_Flying by the seat of my color coded schedule_3APR19

“Life’s an adventure!” they said.

“Escape the ordinary!” they said.

“Embrace the unknown!” they said.

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I prefer quotes like this.

Okay. Maybe by “they” I mean “me,” over this past month. Having rid myself of just about every earthly possession and commitment, you might think life now looks a little like this:

Saved-by-the-bell-party

Er, well, this is awkward. Because, as I gear up for 3+ months on the road, it’s been looking a little more like this:

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“Do I have Uncle Jesse’s rabies vaccination records to get into Canada???”

And this:

Go Jules Go April 2019 calendar
“Did I remember to give Babs access to my color-coded Google calendar?!”

And this:

AirBnBs for April screenshot
“Crap, do any of these have a washer/dryer?!”

In fact, it’s been so much work that I haven’t had time to make more videos (…or write blog posts exceeding 500 words…).

But man.

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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Hey, wait! I’m carefree! Look! Bubbles! Sunset! Wheeeeee!

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How do you travel? Are you more of a ‘color-coded calendar creator’ or an ‘eh, let’s wing it’ type?

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Blogging, Lists, Project Management, Veganiness

What it Really Looked Like to “Follow My Heart”

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What It Really Looked Like to Follow My Heart_13MAR2019

One of my favorite sayings goes, “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.”

I’ve thought of it often as I embark on a totally new, risky, amazing phase of my life: quitting my stable, full-time job, selling all of my stuff, and hitting the road to pursue creative passion projects.

The Vegan Dollar YouTube Channel screenshot
Yay! 13 subscribers! Good thing I quit my job for this!

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve had a friend or two suggest that the opportunities I’ve gotten were available to me only because of my age, location or looks. While I undoubtedly experience white privilege and humbly acknowledge my staggering good looks fortune in being born to a nice, middle class family in New Jersey, I’m always saddened when people see it this way.

Following my heart has taken everything I have, and even some things I don’t have – yet. Getting to the pot of gold at the end of the dream rainbow is sweaty, scary and sometimes bittersweet business. So scary, in fact, that the only way to calm my [project manager] nerves is to discuss it in –oh my god I’m so excited– graphical format.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart graph title slide

Getting a divorce.

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Going to therapy. For two and a half years.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 4

Going back to (and finishing) grad school.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

Getting dumped. …Twice.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Experiencing an earth-shaking epiphany and changing my entire lifestyle [to veganism].

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 4

A lot of sweating. So much sweating. Too much, really.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 1

Setting boundaries and having difficult conversations with people I love.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Asking for help (accountability partners).

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Letting go of friendships that emptied my tank so I could cultivate ones that make my spirit soar.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

Exploring all things woo-woo without caring what others thought.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Telling someone how I really felt about them. …And having them not return the feeling.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 6

Believing I was worthy, and already had, all of the joy and love I’d always wanted.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Quitting my stable, cushy job to pursue creative passions.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Moving to a 350 square foot apartment.

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Leaving said apartment and getting rid of [nearly] all my possessions.

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Slashing my spending by 80%.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 1

Consistently saying yes to things that made me want to hide in a corner – like meeting new people.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 5

Stopping to question Every. Single. Negative thought and asking, “Is this true or is this a story?”

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 2

Letting go of the belief that anyone else’s opinion of me has anything to do with me.

Go Jules Go Follow Your Heart Graphic 3

As you can see, NONE of these things was easy, or pleasant, or preceded by 100% assuredness. There will never be a “right” time to do something that scares you. But the universe doesn’t care how old or young you are, how over or under qualified. When it sees someone taking risks to follow their heart’s calling, it will take note, and oftentimes instantaneously, step in and give you whatever you need – even when you’re not sure what that is.

So, whaddya say? Are you ready to do what it takes in order to achieve your dreams, even if that includes the “impossible”? Your heart is a badass and (s)he just might require that of you.

(Pssst…you know I can’t resist linking to my latest video!)

~*~*~*~*~*~

What has following your heart looked like for you? (…Does anyone want to hide under this blanket with me? I brought Wheat Thins and Chao cheese.)

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humor, I'm Going To Chop My Ear Off Any Day Now, Kvetching, Project Management, PSAs

The Career You Should Pursue if You Hate Being Happy

gojulesgo_the-career-you-should-pursue_title-graphic_30jan19

I love my coworkers and get to do a lot of cool things at my job. Last week, however, involved the kind of work you should only do if you hate joy.

Event management.

Now, I’ve done a lot of event planning in my day, and it can be hugely rewarding. But even in those cases, it’s filled with chaos and unpredictability. No matter how much you plan pray, anticipate, pray and prepare pray, nothing ever goes 100% smoothly. You just have to hope no one else notices.

Jules-losing-it-FB-post-inside-out-pants
Kind of like this.

When I got to the event location last week, my stomach dropped. Not enough chairs. I had requested more chairs the night before, but it still wasn’t enough; people were filtering in late and filling the aisles, disrupting the meeting. In four years, we’d never had such a turn-out. A great problem to have, but once again, experience and pre-planning did diddly-squat, resulting in me looking like an incompetent asshat.

I stood against the wall trying to tell myself it wasn’t a big deal, my stomach knotting as I begun to realize there was no way we were going to have enough time to transition from the current meeting set-up to the one beginning 15 minutes later.

And I was going to have 100+ people, including The Big Boss, there to witness me not making things happen.

I braced myself like Michael Richards circa 2006.

michael-richards-seinfeld
“Sooo, 13 years later and you still can’t go out in public? Impressive.” Photo credit

When the dreaded 15 minute transition period hit, the A/V crew ran around plugging and pulling things from the podium while I frantically tried to set up my laptop and connect to the new audio conference line.

go jules go event planning
Six minutes ’til showtime.

“Is the speaker here?” Big Boss asked.

I smiled serenely. “He is! [Coworker] just went to get him!”

I returned my gaze to the computer screen, checking to see if I had the updated presentation materials that had come in minutes before. Hurry, hurry, hurry, I thought, knowing pretty soon my screen would be projected in front of 100 people so I’d better get the hell out of my inbox.

Okay, download new slides to desktop, close Outlook, sound off, Instant messenger off, PowerPoint slides open for each of the speakers, oh crap you need the webcast link from the email, open Outlook, get link, dial in, is screen working yet, where is the new A/V team, why can’t I hear anything on the line, do we have enough lavalier mics, where is the handheld, holy crap it’s loud in here and I can’t hear the operator, this is never going to work, oh my god, why did we think this was going to work, is the speaker here, is he mic’d, oookay now everyone is seeing a picture of my dog (just kidding I totally wanted that to happen), does Big Boss have her intro notes

go jules go desktop uncle jesse
You’re welcome.

Okay. Okay. We have lift off! Holy sh*t what is that box on the screen and how do I get rid of it? Okay, okay, we can just slide it over here in the corner… okay, we’re fine, we’re fine…Oh my GOD that’s the wrong slide deck, say hi to Uncle Jesse again everyone…okay, we’re moving along now…oh for the LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY his mic isn’t turned on…

Once the main speaker took the stage, the next 45 minutes went by in a blur, my only thought being, Please please please let that be the updated version of his slides WITHOUT ANY EMBEDDED VIDEOS DEAR GOD PLEASE and let everyone on the line actually be able to hear. The speaker was a pro and fielded questions from a lively, engaged audience, allowing me to convince myself that in the end, the entire thing was a smashing success.

As soon as it ended, I grabbed my lap top, made a beeline for the parking lot, and wept into my ice cold coffee.

Jules-pout
A *gulp* smashing *sob* success.

~*~*~*~*~

To event planners everywhere: I bow down to you (which you probably can’t see because you’re too busy wiping snot off your travel mug). …Can you please share your secrets?

~*~*~*~*~

humor, Lists, Project Management

Well THAT Didn’t Go According to Plan

I’ve been a project manager for over a decade. That suggests a few things.

  1. I’m organized.
  2. I make sh&t happen.
  3. I REALLY like lists.

Phrases like Type A, OCD, and Post-It Hoarder might even be crossing your mind.

Jules-organized-fridge
Huh. I don’t see it.

Well. Okay. Fine. I like when things go according to plan. At the very least, I like HAVING a plan. Some sort of scaffolding upon which to begin arranging my masterpieces.

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Do you think this just happens?

I also really, really hate messing up or not meeting my goals.

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I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

I’m learning to take a step back, harness my Zen, be the river flowing around the rocks, yadda yadda…

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Picturing Zac Efron shirtless helps.

…And if any detours from my plans are funny, I’ve gotten REALLY good at embracing them.

Jules-losing-it-FB-post-inside-out-pants
Thanks, blogging.

Here are a few recent favorite fails “detours.”

Well that didn't go according to plan

The Mannequin Did It! (1 of 3)

On Monday, my manager, Karla, and I enjoyed lunch during one of our biweekly check-ins. After covering business, we dug into fun stories from our personal lives. We laughed, I finished my tray of warm, delicious bhindi masala, and left her office with, as usual, a skip in my step. Life is grand!

When I returned to her office later that afternoon, I noticed something strange on her desk.

“Did I do that?” I asked, horrified, picturing my steaming, fragrant lunch resting on the gleaming, elegant wood in that exact same spot just hours earlier.

Jules-ruins-desk

Karla burst out laughing. “I wasn’t going to say anything…”

I immediately started Googling replacement desks.

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That should do it.

Now That’s What I Call Commitment (2 of 3)

health-in-motion-scary-sign

Okay. I can’t take credit for this, but I just love it.

This is a sign around the corner from my house. You know when it looked fantastic? Halloween.

Do you know when I took this picture? Yesterday.

tide-stick
Maybe this will help?

At least they’re ready for 2019. This project manager approves.

I Just Wanted an Excuse to Post this Picture (3 of 3)

Did you know I went to Dubai in 2016? …That’s okay. Most people missed it. Even people in Dubai. A fairly last-minute meeting brought my boss and I there for a whirlwind 36-hour trip.

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A fellow project manager was our tour guide and he crammed in lots of exciting stops for us. My boss was especially tickled when he took us to a restaurant called The Meat House.

Jules-pout

At one point, he brought us to The Dubai Mall and led us towards a little kiosk. Before we knew what was happening, people were handing us shiny things, saying, “Put this on. Now hold this.”

My boss and I glanced at each other warily, but it was too late. There was no getting out of this.

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You haven’t lived until you unexpectedly play dress-up with your boss.

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Anything you’re apologizing to your coworkers for?

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Kvetching, Project Management

I’m Engaged!

To: Worldwide Staff

Date: Thursday, October 6, 2016

Subject: “EET” This: The Latest Lip Service from Your Employee Engagement Team!

Dear Colleagues,

Do you like to think outside the box? Hate reinventing the wheel, but love moving the needle? Together, let’s unpack some of the issues that keep us from leaning into our BEST SELVES.

Today, we’re hitting the ground running with a new web platform where you can network, collaborate, innovate, ENGAGE, catalyze, inspire, and LIVE OUR SHARED MISSION.

Now is the time to remember that there’s no “i” in “team”…but there is one in “iPad” – and you could win one just by SOCIALIZING your IDEAS into ACTION!

Sound like a plan?

Come take the 30,000-foot view while simultaneously digging a little deeper into what makes our company so great – YOU.

LINK TO OUR VALUABLE NEW WEB PLATFORM

With High Regard for Your Uniqueness,

Employee Engagement Team

P.S. – Getting too many emails? Hit “reply all” and let us know!

teamworkdemotivator
Photo credit

~*~*~*~*~

humor, Project Management

Lemme Guess. My Future’s In That Folder.

Last Thursday, I wrote a post on the fly while waiting to find out if I still had a [project management] job. Literally.

After three and a half hours of focused work and productivity, I finally got the alert that someone in senior management was ready for me. I steeled myself and entered her office.

“I don’t envy your job today!” I said as brightly as I could. I was relieved no one from Human Resources was present; it was just the two of us. Apparently, they trusted us not to staple anyone’s face or set ergonomically correct chairs on fire.

She gave a kind hello, but didn’t beat around the bush.

Laidoff-1 Laidoff-2 Laidoff-3

Even though, yes, this was the career equivalent of, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” or “It’s not you, it’s me,” I’d have time to blog, to bake, to blog about baking…

Laidoff-4
Don’t worry. I’ll explain everything.

…to stop and smell the roses, to follow signs from the heavens…

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Laidoff-7

And I knew someone who’d be particularly happy to have me home every day.

Laidoff-5

Another silver lining to all of this? The outpouring of support and encouragement from colleagues, friends, family and you. Some of you have even contacted me offline about job opportunities, and the ridiculously thoughtful Misty of Misty’s Laws just sent this care package:

Laidoff-8
Misty warned me not to try to spend the gold coins.

My last day is the 18th, and after that? Well, if you thought my blog contests were epic before, hoo boy.

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Have you ever made or considered a major career change?

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