How’s it going, Lara?

Things are going *really well* for me right now, and that calls for a blog post! This one is much more personal than my posts usually are, but it’s healthy to open up a bit now and again, right?

A selfie while riding my bike!

Things are going really well right now, I’m happy you asked! What’s so good? Well, first and foremost…

I sort of got a job!!!

I say “sort of” because it’s technically a two month full-time contract with a possibility of an offer afterwards. It is the perfect situation for me to try my hand at a corporate-y office job – something I’ve never had in the 7+ years I’ve been working in the web industry.

I started as a contract Design Engineer (🔥) at Penske Media Corporation a few weeks ago. PMC is the parent company for large media brands like Rolling Stone, Variety, IndieWire, Deadline, and several others I can’t say I’ve ever interacted with before now. All of their sites are on WordPress VIP (yay!) and were mostly built by outside agencies, and now maintained in-house. My role is to bridge the gap between design and development, and to improve front-end processes as more development is handled in-house.

What form this “improvement of front-end processes” will take, I’m not yet sure, but the “design-system-pattern-library-thing” alarm is certainly going off, and that’s really exciting. And I can continue working on WordPress sites!

I have a long commute…and it’s great?!

The thing is about PMC…it’s in Westwood, close to the west side of LA. I live in Los Feliz, close to the east side of LA. That’s about 12 miles which, in Los Angeles, is really far away. Traffic is a thing here, and I’ve realized that driving in LA causes me to hate everything. What did I get myself into? Am I really going to do this 5 days/week?

The answer is….bus! Bike! Both! The transportation options for my 12 mile commute in LA:

  • Bus: 1:10 morning, 1:30 in the PM
  • Bike: 55:00 morning, 1:05 in the PM
  • Drive: 45-50 morning, 50-1:10 in the PM

My strategy thus far has been a bike/bus combo in the morning so that I have some nice reading time and don’t arrive all sweaty, then full bike on the way home. It’s been pretty great! I’m getting time to read that I wouldn’t normally have, and although I don’t get home until well after 7, I’ve already gotten exercise. I’ve done the bike back about 10 times so far, and it goes by pretty fast now.

Above all…I don’t have to drive!

You might be thinking, “Biking in LA? Isn’t that dangerous?”, to which I would respond, one needs to be very aware at all times, but there are bike paths on many of the main roads. As long as you aren’t super rattled by proximity to cars, it’s a great way to get around. And there are very few potholes and no hills (I cannot say the same for you, Pittsburgh…).

A selfie while riding my bike!

Here’s a sweaty bike selfie! How do you like my trendy, urban-style helmet?

I’ve been trying to take more selfies lately and not feel stupid about them, and this is part of that initiative.

I’m not sure how sustainable this long commute will be – it amounts to about 11 hours/week which is a lot of time I could use for other things. But…would I use it for other things? Isn’t exercise and reading a pretty great use of that time? We shall see!

I’m on a self-help kick

Maybe, just mayyybeeee, my ultra positive vibes are due in large part to the consumption of self-help books, articles, and podcasts during my commute in the mornings. I have two books to recommend, in particular:

1. Designing Your Life

The question “how’s it going” is both the title of this post and a key point in the book I recently finished, Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. I highly recommend it! It’s all about applying design thinking principles to your career and personal life – building your way forward with smaller, validated steps rather than committing to one hard and fast career path you haven’t necessarily vetted for yourself. The book is full of exercises and models of thinking to walk readers through the process.

Big thanks to Rachel Nabors who encouraged me to read it! If you, person reading my post, have read it or are reading, I’d love to compare notes and have other people to do the exercises with, so send me a message on my contact form or via Twitter (DMs are open!).

2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson is also an easy and entertaining read, and I’ve heard the audio book is quite good, too. There are a lot of excellent, applicable nuggets and mantras that are very in line with the themes in Designing Your Life. The two compliment each other well.

One of those nuggets, specifically, is the value of failure and doing things wrong. If you never do anything wrong, you won’t have anything to learn from! Failures are actually the biggest wins.

3. Journaling instead of meditating every morning for 10 mins

I have had a practice of meditating for 10 mins every morning with Headspace for a while, but I’m pretty terrible at meditating when work is going well because I end up getting a bunch of cool ideas and not focusing on the meditation exercise, then I’m okay with that because the ideas are productive and fun. And it becomes not meditating.

I decided to try replacing this practice with journaling for 10 mins. I’ve kept a journal since my early teens, but most of the entries are from when I’m angry or depressed and in need of a place to vent. Now thought, I write general thoughts for a few minutes, then I make a list of five things I am thankful for and five things I want. I can’t remember where I originally heard about this practice, but it’s working pretty well for me! I recommend trying it out if you’re interested in practices like this.

4. Therapy??!!

I’ve been to therapists a bunch before, always in conjunction with crisis-mode situations either to do with mood instability or relationships. Inspired by a conversation on No, You Go, I decided to start seeing mine here in LA while things are going well, for a change!

And I’m telling this to you, stranger, why? Because, like they mention on the podcast, we would all benefit if conversations about therapy were normalized, so here’s my contribution to that cause.

Miscellaneous good things

I’ve schedule venues for for the next few months – really excited about those. I just love preaching that CSS gospel 🙌

I feel like I have friends in LA! That may sound silly – or not – but LA is a gigantic and lonely place, and after a breakup last year I’d been living alone and working at home, and it’s been, well, lonely. Anyhow, my social life has picked up nicely and I now have an excellent roommate, plus I get to hang out with a bunch of cool people at work.

This is turning into a record personal blog post but, whatever, I’m going to roll with it:

I also stopped smoking weed and drinking in excess around last November. Not-that-harmful-but-kind-of-harmful substance use has been a vice of mine for many years, and I have finally gotten those habits under control in a big way. Maybe my current, positive mental state is due to that more than anything.

And finally, hobbies! I’ve gotten back in to home bartending (but not overdoing it, see above), coffee roasting, and making fun artwork. Hobbies are good.

Okay, bye now, friend!

Now that you know way more about me than maybe you wanted to know, I will close out this blog post! Byeeeeee.

One response to “How’s it going, Lara?”

  1. Congrats on the job, doing free exercise, reading every day, not smoking and drinking so much, and whatever else I just read above :-)

    Grabbing life with both hands in a very positive way – go you!