I’m a Hustla Baby

Many people choose a side hustle in hopes that one day it will be their main hustle. For me, I just don’t have that goal. My hope and dream for my future is to become a professor. My side hustle associated with that is being a GRE instructor for students undergoing summer research opportunities at my home institution. I mentor students at every opportunity that I get. I tutor minority children (ages 10 – 18, about) and show them what I want to do with my life.

My side hustles are being a Beachbody coach and selling my knitting. Neither of these is something I hope to make a full time job someday. However, when I think about my future and having children and a nice home and taking family vacations, the extra money these side hustles brings in can be put directly towards that. These are still two things that will make my future so much better, and more rewarding at that, but they will never be my main squeezes.

That being said, I recently read that you should work hard at what you want every single day. Obviously, I go to work Monday through Friday. But if I want my side hustles to be successful, I need to find time for them Monday through Friday as well. I also need to spend some extra time on them on the weekends because I am not working. So far, I think I am doing pretty well. I have a daily tracker in my bullet journal that allows me to mark these items off when I do them daily. I have updated my daily tracker for June compared to May to be more specific towards working at these goals. I am pretty excited for June, mostly because I think I will work harder with the satisfaction of filling in my boxes daily.

I have recently reached the very difficult decision of deciding not to make my coaching business a business priority. I have taken on a lot, even for my ever-busy self, and as a result, I need to make some decisions about my priorities and where my time goes. I will still workout daily because I feel amazing when I do, and because I feel like it is important to keep motivating people. I hear from people al of the time that I have motivated them to make fitness and health a priority again, and ultimately that is all I have ever wanted to do. So, although I am letting coaching be the thing that goes on the back burner for now, that does not mean that I do not care about health and fitness, it doesn’t mean that I won’t still be posting my workouts, stats, motivation, etc, but it does mean that my time and energy will be placed elsewhere.

  I am incredibly fortunate to have the most supportive parents and extended family in the world. My parents have supported every crazy idea I have ever had, and encouraged me to pursue them. Most recently, I was telling my mother what I had put on my plate for the summer and she said, “good for you. You never do anything that you can’t handle.” She’s right, of course. She could have told me that I was in fact crazy, and that it would never work. She could have tried to talk me out of one or several of my ideas. Instead, she encouraged me. She even followed up with me in a later text and asked for more details about my endeavors. I don’t always see eye to eye with my parents- or anybody for that matter, and that is completely natural. However, I know that I will always have her in my corner, and that is all that matters.

So, on that note, here are some posts that you can be guaranteed to look forward to in the month of June! 

My blog theme for June will be all about my side hustles- those things that I do that are 100% extra and voluntary, but that I hold so dear to my heart. Here’s a list of topics for June!

  1. What’s in my beach bag? My top anticipated books for summer
  2. What does a mentor do? A reflection on everything that I have learned from my mentors and as a mentor.
  3. Starting an online business in the social media age. Focused mostly on Etsy, with some knowledge from Beachbody
  4. Weave your story: What would your memoir say, and are you happy about that?
  5. Lessons my parents have taught me. In honor of Father’s Day and my belated realization that I owe my parents everything, this will be a tribute to them.
  6. Passion versus Talent: A showdown; what happens when something you are passionate about is something that you aren’t good at and vice versa?

WIP Wednesday: Making Patterns

Happy WIP Wednesday! Today I am going to talk all about making your own patterns and how to balance the frustration with satisfaction.

Inspiration

Inspiration must come from somewhere. Where you find your inspiration may be different from where I find my inspiration.

One way I get inspired for knitting projects is: seeing a picture of something (usually not a knitted something) and then dreaming about the object again later (usually knitted). Then I think, “is this something that I could feasibly do?”

Another way that inspiration often comes to me is just by looking at yarn. I have gone to the store and just looked at yarn, picked it up, felt it, looked at the sample projects made with it. I just breathe and take it all in. Then I go home empty handed. (Note: empty handed only works at chains like JoAnn Fabrics and Michael’s. Take me to a local yarn store and I will spend all the money in my wallet). I then imagine what projects those yarns could make.

Alternatively, I will look at some yarn in my stash at home and think about how to combine colors and make something new. I think about what naturally occurs in those colors. Most recently, I purchased four skeins of yarn intending to pair black and white and blue and yellow. However, when I received the yarn, I looked at the black and yellow and went, “oh I know what would look EXCELLENT with you.” Note: this is the second time this has happened. Same four colors, same intention (almost). However, this time my ideas were completely different from last time. That’s what happens when you use a different yarn and the shades are slightly different.

I also recently received yarn as a gift. I knew what the final product of these yarns would be, and I knew that I wanted to make my own pattern for them. But until I saw the yarn (purchased online at KnitPicks), I had no idea what that pattern would be. I plopped it down on my desk and just looked at it, and got ideas for each color within minutes. I then did some annoying math to figure out what needles to use, how many stitches wide it should be, and how many rows long. Then, I made my chart. This entire process took maybe 90 minutes. Simple right?

Frustration

Wrong! Nothing is that simple! First of all, I made a chart for a pattern that I intended to use garter stitch to make the pattern pop. The problem with this is, I didn’t label which rows were right side rows and which were wrong side rows, so by row 6 I was already confused. I also neglected to double check that the pattern I intended to make as a mirror image was in fact equal on both sides. Spoiler alert: it was not. I went back and restarted the pattern about five times in one night. I eventually just set it down, took a deep breath, said goodbye, and came back the next day.

When it was time to decide what to do, I realized that I had memory of what I wanted the pattern to be. However, this was resulting in me looking away from the pattern and just knitting. The problem with that was, I wasn’t at all knitting what I thought I was knitting. Additionally, if my chart was a true mirror, it wouldn’t matter from which direction I read the pattern. However, because it wasn’t, this absolutely mattered. Cue more mistakes for which I could not figure out the cause.

Once I sat down and just looked again I realized all of my mistakes. I realized how to make it easier, and I did that. I improved upon what I already had, and made it better. Then, I went to work on another project that I have actually memorized the pattern for, and that was quite relaxing.

Testing your own patterns

It is generally accepted in the knitting world that you should not test your own patterns. I have always understood why; it is the same idea as writing a recipe or any kind of set of instructions. You know what you intended, therefore you will not catch any mistakes. However, it wasn’t until I started using my own pattern that I realized how true this is. I was making mistakes by testing my own pattern. I definitely needed to walk away and try agin later. I needed to give my mind a break in order to start fresh.

I also taught myself with the help of one (just one!) YouTube video the art of continental style knitting. I was working in seed stitch and I hated the way it looked and I needed to do something about it. I noticed over the weekend that I was starting to hold my yarn a little more loosely in my right hand, and that I was holding it closer to the needles than usual. I said to myself, “you might be ready for something new, but don’t you dare try it on this pattern because you will be so angry if you screw up.” Screwing up in this case includes changing the tension, which definitely would have occurred. Anyway, my seed stitch cleaned up very nicely and I am happy to have picked up a new style so quickly. Now I just need to work on my speed!

Finishing the project

Currently, there is nothing on my needles for this project. I will probably start again tonight, but I may also save it for the long weekend. I learned a lot for this project and I cannot imagine going back on any of that by jumping in too quickly- again. Right now, it is all about doing what it takes to make sure that this project is in fact completed. Don’t worry, there will be progress photos on Instagram, perhaps another blog rant, and much knitting love from my friends.

You 2.0 Reflection (50% Done with Book)

“You’re more likely to feel passionate about something after you get good at it.”

Okay, so why has nobody said this before? So true! Oh my gosh, okay, let me rewind a bit for you.

Back to the present now. So I’m reading this book on the bus on my way into work. I am coming in an hour later than usual because I woke up, worked out, started a load of laundry, showered, and did everything else I normally do in the morning. And then I read this and I just wanted to stand up and “YESSS!” right there. Each chapter of the book has exercises to help you kill the old you and develop the new you. When I was reading about killing the old you, I sat down, thought for about five minutes, and realized that I really didn’t need to kill any part of Brittany because it had already been done. However, now that I am on the reinventing part, I am realizing that I can still change. I can still improve myself, and every time I remind myself of this, I get really excited.

Here is my list of things that I am good at (in order that I thought about them):

  1. Research- designing experiments, carrying them out, and writing them up
  2. Writing- both scientific and leisure
  3. Running- I am not the fastest nor the strongest, but I am stronger than yesterday
  4. Working out at home- I keep my appointments with myself because I made a commitment
  5. Knitting- I am not the fastest nor the best, but I am mostly self taught and know many skills

Are you ready for what I’m about to say next? Every item on this list took practice. I was terrible at research when I was a sophomore in college, but now that I have five years under my belt, it seems pretty easy. I am writing right now (duh), I enjoy doing it, and I know that the more I do it, the better I will get. When I don’t run, I feel lost. When I do run, I feel strong. I feel accomplished. I think reaching new goals in running brings me the most joy. Working out at home has been bringing a lot of sweat into my day lately. I am doing cardio every single day of the week right now, and I have never felt better. I try to knit every day. I try to learn new things when I knit. I use new yarns, and I learn new stitches, and I make my own patterns, and in doing so, I am building on my skills and improving my talents. Plus, it’s relaxing (mostly).

Here is my list of things that I am passionate about (in order of importance to me, right now):

  1. Working out
  2. Knitting
  3. Research
  4. Running
  5. Writing

Yes, you read that correctly, writing is last, and working out is first. Why? Because I think that I have learned to find my own voice with my workouts. I follow the calendar, I follow the schedule, I do the workouts according to the trainers, but I put my own spin on it. I have fun with it. I reach out to other people and try to help them with their goals. I work hard to be successful. Knitting is a logical second because I just opened my (still empty) shop on Etsy. But I also have yarn coming in the mail, several patterns for my first products, and I am very excited because I knit to relax, and I learn new techniques to keep myself from getting bored. I have decided to take my hobby to the next level, same with working out, but it feel different. The other three are kind of necessary to me right now, I get paid to do research. I paid to run in a marathon. I have to write to advance in my career, and blogging reaches a lot of people in a lot of ways, which is incredible.

In conclusion, these words are the best thing I have read in a while. I am excited because the exercise I couldn’t do on the bus was walking through the scientific method, and if you were paying attention, you would know that that’s my jam. I am feeling energized because I know what my strengths are, and I know how to build on them, all that’s left is taking the leap and doing it. It sounds so simple, but it rarely is.

If you want to know more about the books I read for personal development connect with me on Goodreads, use the comments on this post, or the shoot me an email to get in touch with me. Happy reading, readers!

Four Lessons I Wish I Had Learned Sooner (Graduate School Edition)

A couple of days ago a friend of mine asked for suggestions on books to read, things you wish you knew, and how to spend his time as a proud entrant to “the real world.” Naturally, being a blogger I gave a short answer and thought to myself, “this would make a great post in honor of graduation season.” So here I am, writing about four things I wish I had known before starting graduate school and my advice to those graduating now. I still have yet to enter “the real world” because I still work on a college campus every single day. I don’t know what real adults are like- but I do know there are things I wish I had learned sooner. So here is my list, and a special shout out to W. R. A. B. for asking the question on Facebook, you already know how deep my love for you is so I’m going to save the rest of the world from that emotion.

Never shy away from asking your PI questions

Or just never shy away from asking questions, period. I think I get more annoyed every day by people who are afraid to ask questions. It’s frustrating from a senior-level perspective to have somebody who is screwing things up because they’re afraid, not because you did something wrong. If you will work harder by understanding better, say that. If you will work smarter by asking a question that seems trivial, ask it. Do not let yourself get put in a bad position because of fear. Fear is crippling. Facing your fears may also be crippling, but only momentarily. Once that moment passes, you move forward a stronger and better person.

Your friends at the time of graduation may not be your friends in one year

You will not get through graduate school without a support network. Those people who stayed up late with you one time to finish that group assignment are not a support network. Those people who helped lead a thriving student organization with you are not a support network. Your support network is built from people who truly care about you, and want you to succeed. So very often, your support network will form without you realizing it. This also means that you may think about how close to are to somebody one day and realize: it’s different now. That is totally okay. You may still be friends with these people, or you may become acquaintances. In some cases, you may never really talk at all. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have what you need.

There is a difference between being qualified and being excited

This, I think, is the biggest collective flaw of researchers. There is a strong difference between being qualified to answer a research question, and being excited about answering the research question. You can, and often, have one without the other. It is your job to find the sweet spot where they coexist. On the surface, this sounds quite easy because you know what you are qualified to do, and you know what you are excited about. However, determining how they can co-exist is actually not that easy at all.

You always come first now

I am not sure what kind of undergraduate, or high school, program(s) you came from, but graduate school is a different ball game. You are no longer one face in 100 in a lecture hall. You are no longer one of 100 students your teacher sees in a day. You are no longer just a face in the crowd, in order continue to progress, you must stand out. As a result, you always come first. Not everybody goes to graduate school directly from undergrad, just like not everybody goes to college directly after high school. The types of people who go straight through and different from the people who take more time. Personalities may differ, because of age and age alone. Family situations may differ, and other things that naturally come with “growing up.” That means that, if you are a single parent and your child gets sick, you leave work to take care of him/her. That means that, if you are not a single parents but your significant other does not have a flexible job and you have no other family around, you leave work to take care of him/her. Every single choice we make comes with a sacrifice. Sometimes, like in this example, the sacrifice is easy to identify. Other times, that is not so. Therefore, what you need to know and understand is that your health, happiness, and your future need to be your priority. Then, you get everybody on board with you. If you have toxic people in your life that cannot do that, leave them in your past. Now is the time when you have to start making that choice. If people are only hurting you, it is time to walk away.

I hope you have enjoyed this “Things I Wish I Knew Sooner” post as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Please do not take this as the end-all, be-all guide, nor should you take this lightly if you are not in a graduate program. The main points of this post are to get you to think more deeply about yourself and your needs, and to get you to stop letting fear get in your way.

I Love My BuJo!

A couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and purchased a Bullet Journal on Amazon for $8.99. I first thought “hmm, you might want to upgrade your life” when I was taking all of my notes on a small legal pad. Not the best for writing down appointments to remember or notes in pencil, among other things. I found that although I was carrying my planner around, and that it has a lot of room for notes, I wasn’t reaching for it. I knew it was time to merge the aspects of my life into a single place. Then I had a choice: do I want another planner, do I just want a notebook, or do I want a bullet journal?

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I searched online, I looked up bullet journaling on Instagram and on blogs (okay, I was already following everything I looked), and realized that the bullet style page is actually really useful for basically everything. I have never been a huge fan of ruled papers, mostly because I write much smaller than wide ruled spacing but no matter how hard I try I can’t not write on the lines. I didn’t think my artistic skills were up to par with a plain page notebook (like a sketchbook) so I went with an official Bullet Journal. And now I am so in love I cannot figure out what I was doing before.

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My bullet journal has a lot of fun pages, some are complete, some are not. My favorite page is my daily tracker. Seeing what I am good about staying on top of and seeing what I am not so good at staying on top of has already been really useful. On top of that, getting more boxes checked is an incentive to stay on top of my sh*t, so there’s that aspect too.

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My second favorite part is my weekly spread. I am more attentive to putting everything in this spread, much more so than my planner. To be perfectly honest with you, I think it is a layout thing. My planner had an hourly layout, without the times. So, I would try to order everything as it would happen during the day. This wasn’t really working because, where do all day events go? How do you distinguish between things that require you to be at work and things that require you to be at home? The short answer is that there is no good way to do this. Although I used the same colors in my planner that I am using in my BuJo, I notice them much easier. I also separate by side, until one or the other fills; the left hand side is for work and the right hand side is for play.

The other great thing about having a multi-purpose place for everything to go is that I can take notes on the personal development books I am reading, and I can take notes about my knitting projects in the same place. This means that anywhere my bullet journal goes (and it can go pretty much anywhere with me), I am able to jot down ideas. I can make a list of books I am highly anticipating/very excited to read, and I can make a spread of yarn weights and notes (still not finished yet…). I can fill the pages with anything and everything, and I just flip to the next page whenever the page is full or I am done with it.

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The other really nice thing about this, is that there is no set number of pages between months. All of my May notes, are after the May calendar. All of my June notes, will be after the June calendar and so on and so forth. This offers me much more flexibility in organizing my bullet journal. I have no idea if it will take 6 months or 6 years (okay, I seriously hope not) to fill, so I cannot put a full year’s worth of calendar pages in it now. This also means that I can design each monthly layout with whatever I am feeling at the time, I can use the space at the top for banners to include my favorite quote of the moment, and any drawings that I choose. The great thing about this is that it is always making me smile. I wonder if I had designed it sooner if I would feel so happy about it, probably not.

Some people get really into bullet journaling, and that is totally alright. I don’t think I am going to be one of those people though. I really just enjoy having a streamlined place to put everything and do everything. Also, that the place is much smaller than my planner was so I don’t feel weighed down by taking it everywhere with me. I am sure that as time goes on, I will find more uses for my BuJo, more pens to decorate the pages of my BuJo, and much more. For now, I am just enjoying the simplicity of the matter.