Dear Me, Five Years Ago

I signed myself up for a little challenge of writing 500 words a day. It seems easy, but for someone who gets discouraged when she lacks inspiration and time, it is tough. Today’s topic was something I really enjoyed, so here goes. I might have gone a little over 500 words…

“Write something that you wish someone would have told you 10 or 5 or even one year ago,” said my morning email today. Challenge accepted. 

Five years ago I had just finished my junior year at St. Amant High School. Here are five things I wish I could have told myself then:

Slow down, young lady.

Later on, you’re just going to want life to stop going so fast. And guess what, it won’t! Not just for you, anyway. Maybe if everyone on Earth worked together at once to hold it in place, it would at least come to a slower pace, but then what would we all be doing? We’d be stuck holding on for dear life, otherwise it would spin back into its usual orbit and fling us all off into space!

Life won’t slow down for you, but you can slow down for life. Live. Stop thinking so hard about the past and the future and enjoy the present while it’s here because life doesn’t stop. Yes, you’re about to be a whole senior in high school. Yes, you think you’re dating the “love of your life” who you’re going to marry and raise a family with. Yes, you think you have it all figured out. But sweetie, the only one who has got it all figured out is God, and he’s not going to put up picket signs with arrows telling you what’s going to happen next.

Enjoy applying for colleges with Dad. Enjoy working your part time jobs in the summer. Listen to your teachers, your parents, your grandma, your grandpa, your aunts and uncles who tell you to enjoy it all while it lasts. Wait til you’re in the “REAL WORLD.”

scared boy meets world GIF

It’s okay to be terrified.

Yes, it feels like you’ve got a whole lot of weight on your shoulders right now. Everyone is telling you to enjoy your last homecoming, prom, set of teachers, yearbook, last everything. But meanwhile, they’re also telling you that you’d better decide on a college, and quick.

So dear me, hugging a lumpy couch pillow, crying, telling Dad I don’t want to do college: You DID IT! It’s okay to feel like giving up at times. A wise person once told me, if you aren’t terrified of the next step you’re about to take in life, you aren’t thinking about it hard enough. The fact that you put a lot of thought into working hard is good. Some people don’t care so much. You cared, you tried your best, and you got through it.

Be scared, anxious, whatever. You’re supposed to be. If you put a brave face on and just walked through life with no fear, would you really feel as if you accomplished anything once it was over? The fact that you pushed through fear makes for something to be extra proud of.

crushed it pitch perfect GIF

Stop caring about what everyone else thinks.

This overly opinionated person thinks you should just be a stay at home wife one day? Everyone assumes you’re going to be a teacher just because English is your favorite subject? No, no, no. Just because society thinks you should do this or that with your life, doesn’t mean you’re limited to just those things.

Really consider what you would enjoy furthering your education in. You’re going to change your major anyway, whether you can admit that now or not. And guess what? When you switch your major from journalism to English, no one is going to freak out and say, “MARLIE YOU LIED TO US. WE THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO CHANGE THIS WORLD OF POLITICAL MADNESS AS AN UNBIASED REPORTER. THE WORLD IS GOING TO BURST INTO FLAMES NOW, ALL YOUR FAULT.”

Everyone is going to be supportive. They’re going to say good luck. They’re going to tell you that even though you’re an English major now, you might still end up as a reporter. You’ll just have classes that are more fun along the way! Or they’re going to revert back to telling you that you’ll make a wonderful teacher. Just take it with a brick of salt and do what you want, kid.

Lastly, please, please don’t let the world tell you what career path to take after you get that degree in your hand. Please don’t let them tell you, you’d better find a job, quick. Because you’ll go through the same things all over again.

Find a job doing something that makes you feel fulfilled, whether that’s helping others, designing magazine spreads, or running payroll. You don’t have to have that passion figured out all at once either. Sometimes it takes stepping into a career path and realizing, hey, I am not in the right place. The search for the right place doesn’t have to be over in five days. Everyone moves at a different pace. Like I said before, it’s okay to slow down.

i'm gonna do me jhene aiko GIF by Genius

Love yourself a little.

Yes, you love your supportive family, your boyfriend, your group of friends, your small town, your favorite restaurant. You love that little social life you have, with everything just perfect. Guess what, hun. Only one of those things is going to remain the same forever. And that’s family.

Guess what else? In making sure you give all your time and effort to all those things, you forgot one person who is also important. You.

One day, you’re going to appreciate alone time. You’re going to become friends with yourself. You’re going to learn that a date with a book is way better than fighting with someone once a week to preserve a relationship that, quite frankly, won’t last a whole year once you graduate high school.

You’ll realize that maybe, just maybe, if you would have been friends with yourself a little more, you might have known a tad bit better what path you wanted to take with your career later on. And even if you still didn’t know, you’d have probably been a little nicer to yourself about it, at least.

It’s totally okay to give love to all the people you’re blessed with in your life. In fact, it is heavily encouraged in this book I like and recommend: The Bible. This same book also says to love your neighbor as yourself (Mk 12:30-31). If you dislike yourself and treat yourself poorly, could you imagine treating your neighbor that same way? BE NICE TO YOURSELF.

pop tv vibes GIF by Schitt's Creek

Embrace failure as much as success.

You are going to make mistakes. Small ones and big ones. You’re going to do some things you regret. You’re going to make decent grades in college, but not perfect grades like you did in high school. So enjoy being little miss perfect while it lasts.

You’re going to go through some break ups, you’re going to lose some friends. You’re also going to get in a fender-bender or two. You’re going to suck at saving money sometimes. You’re going to wake up late for work.

All of this makes you a better, stronger and wiser person. Also, none of it means its the end of the world, so stop trying to carry the world on your shoulders.

Those tiny moments of thinking, my goodness — I suck, turn into, wow, that experience really changed my outlook on friendship or what have you. You are not perfect, and never will be. And guess what, no one else is perfect either.

Letting go of some friends might mean letting go of toxicity. Letting go of a relationship you’ve held on to so long might mean much happier lives for the both of you. Failing a test might make you study harder for next time. Quitting a career path that makes you miserable might lead you to finding the right one.

Failure is subjective. Someone might look at a decision you made that you thought was the wrong one, and wish they, too, made a decision like that to lead them to something better for themselves.

It all goes back to loving yourself. Don’t just say, “Oh, I failed today, and give yourself a pat on the back. Say, “Oh, I failed today, but that only means I can do better tomorrow.” Definitely don’t say, “I failed today, and I am completely giving up on myself now.”

Failures, problems, heartbreaks, and all the other things that rip our world in two, become smaller and smaller as the life moves forward. Don’t dwell on them, just learn from them, love yourself and experience the life ahead of you. 

You got this!

image everyone GIF

The Unfortunate Truth About Being Your Own Fortune Teller

Hi, my name is Marlie, and I THINK I can see the future.

You see, every now and then I freeze up and I look like I’m in outer space. I get this kind of vision of something that’s about to happen…

Wait, no, that’s not me. That’s every episode I’ve ever seen of That’s So Raven on Disney Channel.

How many of you think you can predict what’s coming? How many of you, like me, know but don’t want to admit that you’re wrong?

It would be cool, wouldn’t it? Being able to know what’s coming so you didn’t have to anticipate anything.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how little excitement there would be in life.

In this world that moves very fast, it’s easy to start to feel like you can’t keep up, no matter what “milestone” you’re on.

When I was in high school, I was worried about college. In college, I worried about my career. In my career, I’m still worried about what the future holds for me.

Everyone has a different “plan” that they would like to follow, lots of times based off of what is normal in the society that surrounds them.

Get Educated – Start a Career – Find a Home – Get Married – Find a Bigger Home – Have Children – Raise Children – Repeat

These things might not happen in a specific order for anyone, but people still constantly long for the next thing. And by people, I mean anyone who feels as guilty about it as I do while I’m writing this.

In this world of instant gratification, worrying about what’s to come only brings one thing that you can expect —

STRESS.

S – Striving for MORE

T – Trusting in worldly norms

R – Reaching for a nonexistent “finish line”

E – Extra work

S – Sure disappointment

S – Sleepless nights

We come up with all of these goals and ideas and expectations about the future while we are supposed to be in bed sleeping (I just called myself out again).

The unfortunate truth about being your own fortune teller is this: Most of the time things do not work out the way you plan.

So I am here to give you, reader, and myself a message we have been ignoring while we are too busy “planning ahead.”

We don’t MAKE the plans, we just LIVE them. The plans were made long before we were even born.

Jeremiah 29:11 says:

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.‘”

The fortunate truth is that you don’t NEED a fortune teller because you were already promised hope and a future from He who created you.

So while you are awake stressing about something you have no control over, take a moment to thank Him for the present.

Thank Him for the things you have now that you probably stressed about in the past. Haven’t you already been through so much? You have made it this far, and His plans for you are great.

I pray that you can find peace in knowing that the future is out of your hands. Though it sounds scary, know that He also gives courage to those who need it. If you’re going through a tough time and wonder what’s next, let Him carry you through the present to the future he has mapped out just for you.

Goodnight now– It is time for me to stop thinking about tomorrow and rest in the present (or all I can foresee is lots of coffee and crankiness).

Until next time,

Plain Jane

Need a miracle? Phone a friend.

I’ve been having good days and bad days.

Don’t we all?

I guess you could say I’m having typical “mid-semester stress.” But this semester is different. This semester is my last. This semester, I’m not going to be scheduling another semester of school. This semester, I’m going 0-100 trying to figure out what the heck comes next.

“What are your plans after graduation?!” everyone asks, and I love that they all care so much.

But the truth is, I don’t know. All I know is I’ll be serving coffee at PJ’s until some opportunity comes along. You guys know I love that coffee shop!

Applying for jobs is practically a weekly routine for me now. And so is stocking up on those rejection emails.

Today was one of those bittersweet days. A relaxing morning at work. I get off early on Fridays which makes the day even better. I planned on grabbing lunch with my boss and co-worker and heading home, but halfway to the restaurant I let them know I was going to go home and relax.

Truth is, I felt that knot in my stomach. Balled up with stress, anxiety, and what ifs that create the heaviness your heart feels when you are about to burst into tears.

But then a miracle happened. I drove past a friend I’ve had since youth group in 9th grade. This friend is a miracle in himself, having survived a brain aneurysm last year — which involved three surgeries in one day — and it just so happened that we crossed each other at a four way stop in that moment.

So I called him. All I wanted to tell him was that I just saw him on the road but didn’t get to say hi in time. This led to a conversation that I didn’t realize I needed.

Zachary Ledet has been through a lot in his lifetime, even prior to the aneurysm. There was a lot of stress and turmoil in his heart. Through all of that, Zachary was — and still is — someone who can light up a room in seconds.

That day at the hospital, no one knew if he would live or die. No one knew the outcome. Family, friends and strangers prayed in that waiting room for hours.

The Zachary I spoke to on the phone today was the same ol’ Zachary. Loving, kind, positive and fun. But this Zachary is someone who was given a second chance at life and knows the reason God put him on this Earth.

This 30 minute conversation made me smile, laugh and cry. It definitely put my small problems in perspective. I was so ecstatic to hear how wonderful Zachary’s life is, how close his family has gotten, how loved he feels by everyone. The stress that was prominent before his hospital stay is practically gone.

It is one thing to have faith and know that God is with you in every situation, but to see Him working in the life of those close to you is an awe-inspiring thing. I saw God in the waiting room of the ICU while Zachary was in recovery. I saw his family gather together with strangers and bow their heads to pray. I heard Zach’s and my former youth minister, Tammy Vidrine, say that it was only a good sign that they were starting his third brain surgery that day — “Jesus fell three times.”

Each time I see Zachary and get to have a catch-up conversation with him, I see God. I see the happiness He has brought to Zach’s life.

After that phone call today, I feel so blessed to still have Zachary in my life. I feel so blessed to have the little problems I have, and so blessed to be able tor recognize the little miracles God sends us everyday in the midst of “hard times.”

I told Zach of my struggles with figuring out the future. He told me it will all work out, just to give it time and patience. He realizes now how everyone around him is so busy with school and work and knows that we will all be able to look back and say we made it through the stress that comes with the busyness. Life is too short to worry so much! We can’t forget to live it to the fullest.

The knot in my stomach disappeared, and I was able to take a deep breath. We all have good days and bad days. We all have worries about the future.

But one thing we can’t ever forget is to live — and love — in the present. You never know when you can lose someone you love. Don’t wait until you come close to it to appreciate those people around you. Those people who support you, the ones who light up the room. In spite of my stress, I’ve felt so loved by my family and friends in the past few months, and I couldn’t be more blessed.

I encourage all of you to call someone — anyone — who instantly reminds you to keep the faith. Have that conversation you don’t know you need. Because God knows you need it.

Yours,

Plain Jane

An open apology to everyone I was sassy to today…

Hey, everyone!

I’m that girl who got mad at the parking officials today for LSU allotting student parking to career fair guests. I’m also that girl who went upstairs and downstairs in the library to print today, getting frustrated because no one wanted to help.

I’m also that girl who complained about LSU and parking and printing and everything in between to her friends, spreading hatred and frustration.

Blame it on the new “I need to speak to a manager” haircut, as some people like to joke, I was a me I don’t very much like today.

And you know, I’m probably not the only one who’s annoyed. It’s only 4 weeks into the Fall semester, and my patience is tearing at the seams like the right strap of my $9  backpack from Walmart.

Blame it on whatever. Senior-itis. Commuter-itis. Itis-itis. We’re all frustrated, tired and thinking the world owes us all something. We’re all late for class or work and giving up on the week and it’s only Tuesday.

Finally, on the drive home today, I let myself think positively. I let myself laugh at the “struggles” of today and how I reacted to them all. I let myself realize how silly and small these problems were. And I realized that it’s so easy to let one little thing be the domino that sends your entire day falling over, one issue after the other.

Of course, it’s easy to look back at my day and breathe a little on the way home, listening to my Christian jams, volume up loud, singing lyrics. Up until someone cuts me off and I become that angry person I don’t like again.

Yes, I know, it’s comical. Little me, driving home, singing Hillsong Worship songs at the top of my lungs and instantly waving my hands at someone who didn’t use a blinker.

But all joking aside — I don’t feel good about myself for any of it. It’s easy to forget another human being is driving that car and is probably just as exhausted from the day as I am. It’s easy to forget to put myself in other people’s shoes when I get so deeply invested in my own silly mishaps.

I encourage you to sit back and think, after a day that just doesn’t go right, doesn’t go how you expect, just think. Ask yourself the question I neglect every time any little thing goes wrong.

What is God trying to tell me right now?

I think today, for me, was a reminder to have patience. Stop getting so overwhelmed over the smallest things. Let my perspective conquer the negativity that stems from one thing that doesn’t go how I wanted it to.

Of course, we can’t always hear what God is trying to say, but that’s because he probably already said it. Which is why this verse kept popping up in my mind on the way home:

My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger, for human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. Therefore, ridding yourselves of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent, humbly receive the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

– James 1:19-21

No, I didn’t have the entire verse memorized. My brain kept repeating: “be slow to anger.” And I realized how quickly anger forms, how easy it is to give into the temptation of gossip, slander, anger and annoyance at the smallest inconveniences.

I guess this is where I am now, trying to “humbly receive the implanted word.” Sometimes, we gotta step back and check ourselves, and today I am ashamed of my words, actions and thoughts.

Evil really is “prevalent” in this world we live in, and sometimes it is too easy to dwell in it, spread it to others through words and actions.

So tonight I am going to give myself a challenge for the rest of the week. Instead of being quick to anger, I’ll be quick to listen. Listen to those around me but more importantly listen to what God might want me to hear in those instances where things don’t work out.

Tomorrow, I’ll be slow to speak. I’ll think about my words and actions before I blurt things out of anger. Think about what the other person may be going through before dwelling on my own negative thoughts. Tomorrow, I will spread positivity and love.

I apologize to everyone I blamed for how today went, when I should have blamed my own perspective.

I challenge myself, I challenge you: Take a step back, listen, realize your mistakes and start over better.

Yours,

Plain Jane

 

 

Hey Freshie…

Yeah you, with the heavy backpack because you weren’t sure what books to bring on the first day.

You with the confused, terrified look on your face. You with the crinkled up printed schedule in your hand.

You, holding your breath, let it out.

You made it this far already.

You drove or walked all the way to campus, parked, and found your way here.

But now you’re not quite sure where to go, right?

Breathe. Breathe so you can open your mouth and ask for directions. Don’t be afraid of these people who have been where you are, standing there shaking, before.

As a matter of fact, one of these people might share a class with you. One of these people might point out all of the buildings you’ll have class in this semester. One of these people, who seem to know exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going, might become your first college friend.

You’ve made it past kindergarten, past middle school (if you did that, you can do anything), and even past high school. And you adapted each time. This is the place where you will adapt, discover your calling, and find out who you truly are all in 4 or more years.

I was you. I laid on my couch, clinging to a pillow, crying and panicking two weeks before my first day of class. I told Dad I didn’t want to go, that I wasn’t ready. But I went. And now it’s nearly over for me.

I’ve learned so much about myself as I drove past all of the speed bumps and obstacles. And I’m still here to tell the tale. So Freshie, take a deep breath and listen up.1

Ask the questions.

Where is my next class? What is this professor like? Where should I eat today? When should I get my textbooks?

Ask questions in class. Get to know your professors. Ask about their grading. Read the syllabus because if it’s on the syllabus they won’t email you back.

Get involved.

Find your club, organization, charity or sport. Find your home away from home in the people you get to know, the places you enjoy sitting to study and the subject you love the most.

Be a note taker. At LSU there’s benefits for students who take notes for other students who struggle. You get a letter of recommendation or first dibs on scheduling the next semester. Sometimes, you even meet friends you’ll keep in touch with for a long time.

Explore your interests and make a variety of friends and connections. College can be lonely at times, but always make sure you have people to smile and wave to between classes. It makes a difference. 5

Get lost.

The best way to learn your way around campus is to get lost. Don’t be embarrassed, laugh at it and learn from it. Those people you saw at orientation are just as stressed and lost as you are. Think of it as being lost together. At least you aren’t lost alone.

The best way to see the best views is to get lost. I found my favorite relaxation spot behind the Union, under the oaks where a constant breeze blows and squirrels roam around picking up any Chick-Fil-A a wandering student dropped.

Get lost and find yourself. College is an adventure in many ways, and it’s worth every stressful second.

Take it day by day.

Some days are going to completely suck. Someone will hit your car in the parking lot, a car will drive by and splash you on the sidewalk on a rainy day, you’ll get a bad grade and you’ll walk into the wrong classroom.

But some days are going to be the best. You’ll meet someone new, you’ll laugh at the bad days, your professor will curve that test you worried about and someone else will walk into the wrong classroom. (If we don’t laugh with each other, what fun is that)?

Learn your pace, and don’t overwork yourself. Take a break between classes. Save the homework for later, and let yourself breathe a little.18

Words of wisdom from a Senior to a Freshman:

  • Bring a water bottle/travel mug. There’s nothing better to drink than free water all day.
  • Dress comfortably, whatever that means to you. Be a mess some days and dress to impress (yourself) other days.
  • Buy your scantrons in advance.
  • Park close to your last class so you can hit the road at the end of the day, unless you have a late morning. Then you park wherever the heck, and sprint to class (just kidding; half the time your professor will be late, too).
  • Compare textbook prices. Buy used. Don’t rent. If you buy them, at least you can get some money back by reselling. Don’t ever rent a book for over $100 that you can’t own. That’s ridiculous and that’s how they trick ya.
  • Smile at people.
  • Take a few moments to appreciate the beauty around you. All these people with different stories. All the oak trees. The old buildings.
  • Bring your lunch if you can, save that money and avoid the 2 ways you can get the “Freshmen 15:” $15 left to your name or 15 pounds straight to your butt.
  • Appreciate the alone time. Everyone sits alone in the Union. Use it as study time or time to recuperate.
  • Be yourself. Don’t try so hard to fit in where everyone is trying to stand out. Dress how you want, be kind to people and most importantly, be kind to yourself.
  • Watch your mental health. You’ll have ups and downs. Take advantage of the places on campus that can help you for free: counselors, etc…
  • Don’t shut your family out. They know you best and they’ll always be there. Just because you’re all “independent” and in college now doesn’t mean you should forget the people who got you there.
  • Have faith! Pray before your tests and leave some room for Jesus in a busy life.
  • Change your major once or twice. (We’ve all done it).
  • Tell yourself you got this, because you do. Adapt, accept, and be awesome.

So Freshie, listen to me.

Listen to me because I listened to everyone before me. I still listen to people’s advice because they want to help. And because they’ve been there.

A few years from now, no matter how long it takes, because it’s different for everyone, you’re going to be reminiscing on your first few months and missing them. Sure, you’ll be ready to roll on out and see the real world, but you’ll miss it.

You’ll appreciate every second. And you’ll be damn proud of yourself.

So breathe, smile and let yourself enjoy it while it lasts!

Yours,

Plain Jane

IMG_1844

Get yourself in check

help

Hello again!

You guys thought I wasn’t gonna keep this blog thing up again, huh? In your face!

Here I am again, giving some life advice that I’ve learned from, well, living life.

First of all, I want to thank the people who have reached out to me regarding my previous posts this week; it means so much that my writing means so much to you guys! I’m glad my little mess-ups and lessons can help others. It’s what I’m here for.

I’m writing today to elaborate on some things I’ve mentioned in “The Blog is Back” post. It seemed to help a friend, simply being able to mention my personal struggles, so I wanted to bring to light ways I deal with those lil’ struggles.

The dreadful word – anxiety

I have it, you probably have it, we all have it. Whether it comes at times it’s supposed to come (like the panic that rises when a car pulls out in front of you or a bear chases you), or whether it’s kind of just there like a shadow or a big rain cloud following you around like you’re a cartoon character.

Anxiety. It comes, it goes, and it comes back as if it’s welcome here. In this busy, stressful, never-slowing-down world, it’s the thing that tells us we can’t, when we all know that we definitely can.

Screen Shot 2018-08-14 at 6.24.36 PM

It’s a word you hear everywhere, from your family members, your friends, especially in school or even in the work place. A lot of people who don’t understand it probably say things like “there this person goes, whining about their ‘anxiety’ again — what a great excuse to stay home.”

Don’t listen to mean people, and don’t worry about what anyone thinks (easier said than done for someone who overthinks, huh?)

I’m here to show you that it’s okay to say that dreadful word, and that it’s okay to just need a breather sometimes because of that dreadful word.

Get rid of that fake smile!

People are supposed to think that you’re okay right? You wouldn’t wanna “burden” anyone with your mental health? – NO.

Stop telling yourself that people don’t care, don’t understand, or aren’t concerned about your happiness and healthiness.

Stop TALKING yourself out of TALKING ABOUT IT!

It’s a common question everyone gets asked: “How are you?”

And it’s even more common to simply say, “I’m good, how are you?”

If you’re not good, stop lyin’. Why you always lying?

liar dancing GIF

Tell someone. Not just anyone, though. Tell the people who care about you the most because sometimes, the best help you can get when you’re anxious, upset, stressed out, and hurting inside comes from those who might can help you understand why you feel the way you do.

For me, being able to talk about it has been a game-changer. At my weakest point, my co-workers were understanding when they had to take a shift, my family checked on me over and over again, and my friends made sure I let myself have a little fun whether I liked it or not.

If you’re not okay, say you’re not okay. I know how hard it is, because you don’t want your loved ones to see you hurting, but it feels much better than letting it bottle up inside.

Eliminate your stress

The stress starts somewhere, and accumulates in other places. For me, it was job after job after job. I say yes to everything, especially if the opportunity seems great.

This might sound odd for someone who has anxiety. But you’d be surprised how many people struggle with this mental illness and can talk to as many people and be as go-get-em’ as myself. Anxiety wears masks, and its easy to put that mask on and say “Sure! I’ll do it!” before you know what you’re getting into.

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE every single job I have right now, but I had to cut back my time for some of them temporarily. I’m going to be graduating this semester, and I want to keep my stress level at a minimum (if possible in one’s last semester of college).

Do not overwork yourself. Of course, you are strong, you can do anything you put your mind to, and you will succeed in all of it, but don’t let yourself go nuts over trying to do it all at once.

It’s 100% okay to say no, and it’s even more okay to give yourself some you-time. Give yourself a day or two off of everything. I can’t WAIT to discover what an actual weekend is again.

My problem has always been checking things off the list.  The list gets so long and overwhelming that I can’t slow down until I’m done with all of it. I’m scratching “stress” of the list and replacing it with “Marlie time.” You should do the same. Not with Marlie-time but with YOU-time. Leave me alone, I’m having time to myself. (Kidding, but if you aren’t gonna leave me alone, let’s go on an adventure).

YOUR time is valuable

Being a busy person, it’s hard to find time where you’re not getting educated in what you’re going to do some day, or time where you’re not getting paid to do what you’re doing now.

Find/make time that you can simply enjoy, with positive people who value any time spent with you. Scratch “negativity” and “toxicity” off of the list, too. No room for all that.

The people you spend quality time with should make you feel good about yourself. Use that time with your loved ones and friends for fun, stress-free activities and affirmative conversations.

Another dreadful word – alone

Makes you instantly sad, doesn’t it? The word “alone.” Don’t let it!

I’ve learned after a few months of practice that alone time is good, essential to your health. Take a break from all of it. Alone doesn’t mean “lonely” and it surely doesn’t mean “dwell in your sorrows.”

After being diagnosed with anxiety, I’ve grown to appreciate being by myself at times. Your alone time is not a time to sit and go over all the things you should be doing in your head, all the people you disagree with, or everything you probably did (NOT DO) wrong today. Your alone time is a time to reflect on your life and the people who value it, and a time to value your own life.

Look in the mirror and say, “I kick ass, don’t I?” and mean it. Because you do.

So get yourself in check

Talk about it, eliminate things that influence it, choose your company wisely, and love yourself a little. Anxiety is a battle of the mind. But it’s your mind, and you can take control.

Other ways that have helped me “get myself in check”:

  • Yoga
  • Running
  • Eating better
  • Baths
  • Essential oils
  • Chocolate
  • Laughing
  • Breathing techniques
  • Music
  • Playing softball
  • Giving up coffee (briefly of course) – 0/10 would not recommend this one

If I can do it, you can. If you’re reading this blog, you obviously wanna get yourself in check, and you’re in control of the mind that’s reading this blog, so get off your butt and do it!

If any of you ever need someone to talk to about your own struggles, I don’t have a PHd or ABCDEFG, but I am open to turning a talk about sad stuff into a day filled with fun stuff!

What I’m saying is, I want to be here for my readers. My contact information is on this site, and most of you know me personally. Reach out. We can kick anxiety’s butt together.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Plain Jane

Plain & Simple

Life Skills of a Barista

Ever look at your barista and see more than just a hand holding out a steaming cup of coffee? We aren’t just college students in aprons obnoxiously steaming pitchers of milk and getting syrup stuck in our hair in the hopes of a good tip; we are people who need coffee too. But we don’t get that coffee until after the 7:00 am rush.

From behind the counter, there’s a lot we learn about the world. From customers, to broken machines, to spilled lattes and burnt pastries, baristas have a front row seat to all of life’s good lessons.

I’ve only worked at PJ’s Coffee for about 10 months now, but I’ve learned my fair share of things about people and life in general. Here are some of those lessons!

Patience takes time to brew

When it comes to customer service and learning machines you have never used before in your life, patience is a slowly learned virtue. It was intimidating seeing my new co-workers quickly sending drinks out the drive thru window and the front counter in the span of 3 minutes. How could they stir a latte so fast without getting milk everywhere? How could they make four frozen drinks with only two blenders in record time? And with so. much. patience.

I am a typically patient person, with people anyway. The overload of tasks stressed me out at first, because I anticipated getting those tasks done. It took a while before the checklist taped to the back fridge became a calming task rather than one I tried to rush through while handling the customer service aspect at the same time.

Now, the five pumps of syrup in a large flavored drink is muscle memory, the steam wand doesn’t scream in the middle of the rush while I’m heating milk for three consecutive lattes and cappuccinos. I don’t cry after certain shifts anymore.

Life is the same. It takes a while to adapt to new experiences, but having a good support system (like my PJ’s co-workers) and remembering to breathe helps! Just be patient with yourself. A lot of times, the customer doesn’t even notice you took longer than a minute to hand them their drink. A lot of times, the only person giving you a hard time is yourself.

DSC_0066
Barista Jessica! Isn’t she a cutie?

Don’t cry over spilled milk

Laugh instead!

I was embarrassed the first few times I messed up a drink, but I’ve learned to laugh at little bloopers like that. PJ’s has an awesome mix of customers, who usually laugh with me, or at me, but I don’t blame them.

Instead of getting frustrated, laugh. Because later on, I guarantee you’ll laugh. This is the third time you rewrote your paper? Laugh about it. Because you’ll be laughing when you get your degree and the things that frustrated you before seem so small.

“Life isn’t so serious!” – Mateusz Dabrowski, Owner & Operator of PJ’s Coffee, Gonzales

Working a morning shift with my boss is always entertaining. He teaches us to make conversation with every customer, not only to “make the tip” but to make their day better. He also reminds us that, “life isn’t so serious,” when little things get to us (unhappy customers, messes, mistakes).

Life is like latte art

You don’t have to be great at what you do, ultimately you should drink it all up, take it all in. Regardless of if the picture comes out pretty, the effort you make and how you react to it makes it worth it.

In my case, I SUCK at latte art, but, like I just said about mistakes, I just laugh at it. Customers appreciate when I try, so even if the foam mark is shaped like a butt or the panda stencil turns out like blob, it was worth it.

Drink life up, the ugly and the pretty. In the end, you will appreciate all of it considering how far you’ve come since!

Respect is like sugar – it stirs easy and tastes sweet

When you respect the people around you, they respect you right back, and it feels good, doesn’t it?

A huge part of being a barista is respecting the people you encounter. For instance, if an order is complicated, there are better ways to communicate with the customer rather than get outwardly annoyed. Respond with questions that might help you understand what they need better, and the more helpful you are, the nicer they’ll be regardless of if the drink is up to par.

The cliché is “treat others how you wish to be treated” and it rings true anywhere. Customer service may be difficult at times, but the more considerate you are, the more appreciative anyone, even the grumpiest person will be.

Espresso-self honestly (I had to use a real pun in here)

Tell the truth! If you accidentally put whole milk in a cappuccino and they wanted soy, admit to the mistake and start over! For one, it will stop someone from having a really bad stomach ache. And it reiterates what I just talked about ^ R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Admitting to being wrong is a good quality in anyone. It shows that you truly care about the people surrounding you, that you’ve learned from your mistake or misunderstanding, and that being honest is more important to you than just knowing it all.

DSC_0237
Barista Adam reading a short story he wrote at first PJ’s Coffee Open Mic Night

One last tip…

Treat everyone as if there’s a tip jar between the two of you. No, I’m not saying be nice to make an extra buck (that sounds terrible), I’m saying just be nice.

Sure, tips are nice, but seeing a customer excited to see me working when they come back to the store is much more rewarding. The people who return because they simply enjoy talking to you (over coffee) make being a barista so much fun.

I hope my barista experiences and lessons can help others (baristas and humans alike) too. One thing I still have to work on is getting my spirits down when people don’t want whipped cream on their drinks. (Come on, though, IT’S WHIP Y’ALL).

Anyway, the coffee is served. Thanks for reading! Everyone should be a barista at least once in their life.

Best,

Plain Jane!