Thursday, August 9, 2012

An anniversary

I'm trying to make more time for writing in my life again. I know it's been a couple months since my last post, and as of earlier this week, three months since I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, so I feel I owe an update on my life, as a poor excuse for why I've been missing in action.

Ladybug landed on my foot as I landed in Oakland. Good sign?

But, there are too many highlights of the last three months to call them all out here. It feels like it wouldn't be fair to just focus on some and ignore the others. It is fair to say that I am fortunate. One year ago today I decided to make a huge change in my life, and that change has led me here. I have moments of doubt as to whether it was right, and in many ways I can't know that yet, but I do know that where I am now is so much better than where I was a year ago.

I'm amazed at how comfortable I've become in this new space. I don't walk around San Francisco with the same wonderment and longing as I did on previous visits, but now with a sense of belonging. In some ways, I sometimes forget where I am; unlike in D.C., where I had constant reminders of it's D.C.-ness (I lived walking distance from the White House, has embassies for neighbors, passed Hilary Clinton's and Joe Biden's homes on my way to work), if I'm not looking for it, San Francisco and the East Bay don't jump out at me. I've settled in here. Still, when I slow down and look around, and most of all when I talk to people, I know that I couldn't be anywhere else in the world and feel like this.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Life changes, and an explanation

I am sitting in my apartment, in the San Francisco Bay Area, eating a chocolate croissant from a local bakery around the corner, surrounded by half un-packed boxes of books and clothes and knick knacks.

Somethings are too pretty to doodle

I feel like that one (long) sentence says a lot about my blogging absence, but on the likely chance it means far more to me than it does to you, let me elaborate.

Remember all those posts about working with unemployment (er, the series I still haven't finished)? And all those asides about looking for a job? I found one! A pretty great one! In San Francisco!

When I started to lag on posting, I was moving forward in interview processes, and then had about three weeks from being offered the position to move from LA to the SF area. If you've ever had to move to a new city quickly, then you know it isn't easy. If you've never had to do it, I wouldn't wish it upon you. Regardless, so far everything is good, dare I say even great--I was able to find an apartment (a one-bedroom at that; closing the door to go to sleep makes me feel so much more accomplished in life), and I've been working for about three weeks now, and enjoying being back in a city and exploring a new area.

I imagine some introspection on the past few months will be coming soon, but for now, I'll enjoy my chocolate croissant and everything this moment implies.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Working w/ unemployment :
keep a schedule

It can be easy to sleep in later, stay in pajamas all day, and just sit down at the computer (or newspaper classifieds) and try to go at it. I've had weeks like that... and I barely got anything done.

When I set up a schedule for myself, around my expectations for job searching, breaks, and other things I aim to do over the week (details of which are for a later post), I don't always follow it to a T, but frankly, I get shit done.

I've found that the organization of a schedule has had a similar motivating effect, like the one I mentioned in my last post about bettering yourself. It's not just a schedule but a set of goals and rewards, that become more achievable and more rewarding.

The other part of keeping a schedule is making sure you do all the work you need to do. Set a time to wake up and a morning routine, and if you're anything like me, you'll get more done throughout the day. It should also make the transition back to work easier, since you've been scheduled all along.

This is one of those things that I think is helpful for any stage of life, but an especially important reminder when it can be easy to ignore. How do you keep track of a schedule, and does it keep you on track with life?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Working w/ unemployment :
better yourself

Blogger's note: Apologies for the lack of posts the last couple weeks. I'll be finishing up this series over the next week or so, followed by an explanation of the sporadic posting this month.

As I mentioned in my first post of this series about working with unemployment, I'm fortunate to have a lot of support in this transition. As such, I am able to spend some of my time on personal projects, one of which is an emphasis on bettering myself.

Essentially, if you are in the situation to have a new found block of time you might not have had otherwise, I say take advantage of it. Learn something, try something, improve something about yourself.

These things are going to vary for everyone, and possibly be pretty personal. Many of the things I've talked about doing during this transition (learning, volunteering, etc.) could all be ways of bettering myself.

I've also been doing personal training. I look unhappy, but I'm bettering myself!

Here's why focusing on bettering yourself in some way (and really, it is whatever that means to you) is so important during this time: it's motivating. When I feel successful at the gym, or that I'm learning how to do new things, and learning more about my mind and body, it motivates me to seek those things professionally. When I submit job application after job application and don't hear anything back, it can be demoralizing. It's great to have something that I have more control over, that I can trust will lead to progress and success. For me, that success has lead to more confidence which has also translated to my job search.

Unemployed or not, do you take time to better yourself? What does that look like for you?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Best things I read this week, March 18-24

Ya gotta read a lot if you want to write a little. Here are some of the best things I read this past week: 
"Extending the Narrative"
from Seth Godin's Blog (@ThisIsSethsBlog

"This Is A Work of Non-Fiction"
from Arts Journal

"The High Cost of Being a Woman," a look at the numbers that add up to financial inequality between men and women in America. 
from The Nation (@thenation)

White-Out News: a tumble-blog that is just what it sounds like (unless it sounds like news about white-out).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Working w/ unemployment : get a hobby

When you're unemployed, looking for employment is your full time job.

That said, we all need some time to recover, rest or veg out after a day or many days of work. There are only so many jobs posted, only so many people you can contact, and only so many coherent cover letters you can write in a day. This is where I find the sometimes harsh sounding advice to "get a hobby" actually really useful.

Hopefully you have a hobby already*: sports, reading, hiking, crafting (one of my hobbies of choice, and appropriately, March is National Craft Month). Spending time with your partner, family, kids or friends definitely qualifies (and is, dare I say, imperative!) as well.

*If you really don't have a hobby, a CNN quiz from 2007 claims it can help you find "America's New Leisure."

I've found that my hobbies have not only helped me stay sane, but also provided me a reward system (finish 10 cover letters and I can take a reading break), helped me with last week's tip of learning something (I'm completing online lessons in coding and crocheting), and helped me get organized (I'm reducing my crafting stash bit by bit). Just as hobbies are diverse, so are the benefits.

Hobbies don't have to be costly, which is obviously a concern at this time. I've a lot of craft supplies that I've saved over the years but never used, and loads of books I never made the time to read (and thousands more at my disposal at the library). If your hobbies lean more towards sports or the outdoors, chances are you already have the equipment, and if not, a local community center might have it available for free. Community publications and websites (like Craigslist) are great places to find others with similar interests if your hobby works best in social settings.

Unemployed or not, what hobbies help you unwind and recharge? Please share in the comments!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Best things I read this week, March 11-17

Ya gotta read a lot if you want to write a little. Here are some of the best things I read this past week:
"I Feared You, Cilantro, and Now I Love You Too Much"
from Gilt Taste (@GiltTaste)

"Activist and Poet Pens Ode to Warn of Perils of Climate Change"
from Treehugger (@TreeHugger)

"Changing school nutrition one carrot at a time," an interview with Chef Allison Sosna about her work with school nutrition in Washington, D.C.
from D.C. Central Kitchen (@dcck)

Adventures of a Koodie: restaurant reviews and food adventures from a 10-year-old that loves to eat and try new things. Both adorable and insightful at the same time.

Bonus: the best thing I saw this week:
Ellie Kemper (of The Office and Bridesmaids) executes several perfect dance bombs

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Working w/ unemployment : learn something

As I mentioned in my last post about working with unemployment, it's widespread advice to stay busy and get involved. Anyway you can do this that's related to your career should be taken advantage of. That's why I'm focusing on learning something during this time.

New information comes out every day, and approaching that information both with an open-mind and critically helps me stay up-to-date and relevant in my field. For marketing and communications particularly, technology is moving fast, someone is writing something every day, and potential customer service case studies are starting all the time.

On every interview I've had, pre- and post-unemployment, I've been asked something that this education has helped me answer, whether it's what brands I think are marketing well, what writers I think are relevant, how I do research, or what ideas I can bring to an organization.

The best thing about this tip is that it's pretty easy to do.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Best things I read this week, March 4-10

Ya gotta read a lot if you want to write a little. Here are some of the best things I read this past week:  
"There is no more honor in my use of Twitter than there is in not using it."
"From the vault: Hate Twitter? Fine. Stop being so sanctimonious" 
from What Tami Said (@whattamisaid)

"Ethical Style: Where Do My Used Clothes Go?"
from (@GOOD)

And of course some awesome stuff from International Women's Day:

International Slutty Women's Day: A Story in GIFs 
from Ann Friedman (@annfriedman)
Three incredible paragraphs every feminist (and then some) should read 
from my friend Anna's Tumblr (@avh86)
Bonus: the best thing I saw this week:

From Cute Overload

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Race, gender, size, age and the Oscars

There is a lot of discussion around race surrounding this most recent Oscars ceremony, most of it centered around The Help, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer. I didn't see most of the movies nominated this year, so I'm hesitant to contribute (at least in writing!), but I feel there is a part of the Oscars that is glaringly absent from these conversations.
“The way I watch movies, I’m really searching for myself because I don’t get to see enough of myself and I don’t get to like myself enough. But if I get to see myself onscreen then I know that I exist.”

-Gabourey Sidibe
Awesome, confident, and beautiful
I have been searching for a clip of this candid, disarmingly honest admission since it aired during Sunday’s Academy Awards, with no luck. I haven't even found anything from anyone talking about how important this statement is. This was the most profound thing I heard come from that ceremony, and I am so shocked I haven’t read anything about it, that I figured maybe I have to (try to) say it myself. I'll start with the disclaimer that I don't have any expertise in race or gender issues beyond my personal experience, and I know I won't be able to say this very eloquently, I just know that someone has to say something.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Working w/ unemployment : volunteering

I am currently unemployed. I'm very fortunate that this period of unemployment didn't catch me off guard, and that I have a huge amount of support to get through this as I pursue personal and professional goals. As such, my unemployment experience is likely fairly different than most of the millions of Americans currently out of work, but for all of us, it isn't easy.

This is the first post in a series called of how I am working with unemployment, how I'm managing my time and amplifying my job search, based on advice and research from others as well as my own experiences. For those of you also experiencing a similar transition or who have, I would love your input. For everyone else, I hope you don't have to involuntarily go through periods without work, but find this series of posts interesting nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's blast from the past

I don't often celebrate Valentine's day (though I am thinking about baking some Valentine's themed cookie cups, because really, why not?), so instead I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to shamelessly self-promote myself and how I fell in love (Valentine's Day pun!!) with writing.*

When I was in middle school, being on student council also meant working on the school newsletter--and being student body president meant REALLY working on the school newsletter. So, when I was looking for something to do in the big bad world of high school, I got involved with our school newspaper, Knightlife (our mascot was the Knights, so puns everywhere). By the time senior year rolled around, I was editor-in-chief, and one of the features I took over from previous editors was a Top Ten list in each issue. For February, we (predictably) published a top ten list of the best and worst about Valentine's Day. This is by no means my best example of journalism (or, uh, even an example of journalism at all), but I thought it would be a fun/funny/terrifying and seasonally relevant glimpse into my high school mind to share with you.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fewer "things"

At the beginning of the year, I decided I would discard, give away, or otherwise get rid of at least one "thing" each week until I move. For me, this is a little bit more challenging than it sounds because of just how much I got rid of when I moved in October, but six weeks in, I still believe it's manageable.

The inspiration for this challenge came from Dinah Sanders' Discardia. The tagline for Discardia is "make room for awesomeness." I haven't read the book, but from the website, what I take from this idea (I could be totally off from Dinah's intent!) is that paring down things that don't matter or aren't important will make room for truly enjoying the things that are. If you know me you also know that I'm always seeking ways to reduce my impact on the environment, so this idea of letting go of "things" appeals to my green side as well.

A sampling of "things" no longer in my possession.

Since I don't know when I'll be moving, I don't know how many weeks of discarding I have left, though I anticipate as time passes it will get more difficult. In the little more than a month since starting, I've played it easy, recycling a hand-painted dish that broke in the move, sorting through paperwork to weed out what I don't need, cleaning out my art class portfolios (hope no one wanted a painting of a collage of an ostrich), mailing a book to a friend, and going through my intimates drawer*.

These things, for the most part, weren't hard to discard. They were easy decisions to make given the state of the things, or with the luxury of more time to logically sort things. There are no stories to tell about my separation from these things, which is why they were easy to let go. As this experiment progresses, I don't anticipate it will continue to be this easy, but I do anticipate it will be rewarding just having fewer "things."

*If this post has intrigued you about letting go of some things you don't need, and, if like me you've had your share of ill-advised bra purchases, please consider donating them this month to benefit the National Network to End Domestic Violence. New or gently worn bras can be dropped off at any Soma Intimates, or mailed to NNEDV. And, if you aren't sure if your bra qualifies, that's ok! They'll make sure any unusable items get recycled properly. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Attention, attention!

Be grateful I don't actually own a megaphone.

Double announcement today:

1) If you're here, you may have already noticed that we have a new color scheme here at Bettina Writes. Hope you like it!

2)... The food blog has officially launched! Check it out at, and I hope you like that even more!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A "Dear John" Diet Coke

Dear Diet Coke,

We've been through a lot together. You were there for me on some of the longest nights of my life--all-nighters to write papers, late night work shifts, and being "on-duty" when I was a resident assistant. You were there to keep me going through long work days, and you were there for good times too, countless movie and dinner dates, always with your effervescent personality that made me tingle.

Photo (L to R) of me and Diet Coke, circa 2008

Unfortunately, it's not me, it's you.

As much as I know it must hurt to hear this, it hurts me to have to say it. It's time for me to move on. Yes, you've been there for me for many years now, but you've also done damage that will take years for me to get over, if ever. I suspect I don't even know how much damage you're capable of. And you're not just hurting me, but others I care about.

You're not just like a drug, you are a drug, and I've got to call it quits. I can't say I won't be open to a booty call every now and then, but I need to make room in my life for someone better.

We'll always have our memories.


SERIOUS NOTE: If you haven't already, please click the links embedded within this letter. They all lead to articles that are just the tip of the iceberg of why I've decided to give up soda. Soda (and diet soda is worse than regular sodas) does horrible things not only to our bodies, but to the environment. It's a huge challenge for me to give it up, but I'm confident that this is a decision I won't regret. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Just checking in

I've got some posts in mind to write for this, but I've been busy with some stuff, getting the food blog ready being one of them. So, in honor of that, and to fill the radio silence, here is a photo of me pretending to be a French chef.

Disclaimer: I am not a real French chef.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Brief thoughts on the new year

When you think about it (which you’re apt to do if you are sitting home alone like I was), new year’s eve and new year’s day are just another night and morning. Yet, we’ve assigned these measures of time to our lives, and something about starting another year, opening a new calendar, and trying way too hard to remember what number to write at the end of the date screams of new beginnings. 

Fresh Start
"Fresh Start" by seantoyer on Flickr

Since I’ve been working toward several goals over the last year that I haven’t met (like losing weight, but you know, also getting a job, and moving), I didn’t really set any new year’s resolutions (though I did pick January as the month to implement my plan to give up soda, but perhaps that’s for another blog post?). Even so, I was still struck with that ingrained feeling of hope and a fresh start when I woke up on January 1.

So, if I’ve taken a resolution at all, it’s this: to make everyday in 2012 feel as fresh and new as new year’s day. Whether you’ve taken another resolution or not, I hope you’ll consider each day as a new start and a reason to feel motivated to do whatever it is you need, whether day to day tasks or ambitious goals.

Thanks for starting 2012 with me, and I look forward to having more to share with you.