Blog Archives

Graduated!

As of this past Sunday I’m officially finished with graduate school!  It is blowing my mind that it is all over. Two long, strenuous years of work and now I’m off to real world again.  I’m not completely sure I’m ready. Eep!

Graduation weekend began with my (incredibly stressful) final presentation.  I was given ten minutes to speak freely about my time at Stanford, which was slightly too broad… There were 12 people in my class and we all interpreted the prompt a bit differently. I ended up speaking about the different elements of my life that have helped me to become a more skilled designer.  Really profound stuff like – do what you love and play well with others. Here’s hoping my future career will involve these aspects as well.

A friend took this from the back of the packed auditorium

A friend took this from the back of the packed auditorium

While it was entirely too nerve wracking for me to handle, I think I was able to do a coherent job. Of course the audience had no choice but to sit back and watch, so I can’t really determine how successful I was… At one point, toward the end, I found myself a bit emotional. Best way to recover? Make a joke about drinking. I believe I said – “I apologize, the whiskey hasn’t kicked in quite yet.”  Thankfully my wise crack was perfectly timed, the audience laughed for long enough for me to regain composure (momentarily). Phew.

Once that was over we celebrated! Seriously, what else can one do after surviving a presentation in front of several hundred people? Of course it wasn’t over then as I still had to cross a stage and pick up my overpriced fancy piece of paper. So the next morning I woke up bright and early to sit in the painful heat (dressed in all black) to listen to Michael Bloomberg. The president deemed us graduates, we cheered, and then scuttled off to our private ceremonies.

With my proud big brother

With my proud big brother

After a few more hours of sitting, it was my turn to cross the stage. I walked tall knowing that this was it, the final moments of my graduate career. Snapped a photo with one of my favorite professors before I ran back to celebrate with the last of my class. We did it! We’ll all be going off in different directions this next year, but I am so grateful for each and every member of my (often dysfunctional) class.

You have no idea how much coordination it takes to get everyone looking at the same camera

You have no idea how much coordination it takes to get everyone looking at the same camera…

Now I’m “relaxing” on a short trip with my family. (Honestly, is vacation with family ever relaxing?!) Earlier this week we went to Yosemite for some great scenery and today I find myself in Napa. It is amazing, I’ve lived so close for two years and never actually made it up here. I do believe it is about time I start wine tasting!

Next week I’ll be in Long Beach for a few days before heading north to Fitbloggin. I couldn’t be more excited. Looking forward to meeting some other great bloggers, getting in a few intense workouts (I’m doing every single one, are you  in?), and sight seeing all of Portland. Let me know if you care to join me at the hash (a scavenger hunt for beer) on Wednesday or Thursday night.  :)

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And we’re done!

Well, almost. I submitted all of my work and have confirmation from each of  my professors that I have indeed passed. There is no failing out of grad school for me! Now, I just need to muster up the courage to give a speech in front of several hundred people. Of course graduation falls on the 50th reunion weekend for my program, so I’ll have a great deal of alumni in the audience as well. No pressure…

Soon this will be happening again.  Eep!

Soon this will be happening again. Eep!

I’ve spent the last few days cleaning up my apartment and office in preparation for my eventual move. It is amazing how therapeutic it is to go through all of my items. Somehow I’ve given away a disturbingly large amount to Goodwill, I had no idea I’d amassed so much crap. Here’s hoping I can live with less once I return to the real world (whenever that happens).

In running related news, this morning I’m heading off to Alameda to rock the See Jane Run half marathon with my lovely running partner Maggie. Thank goodness she dragged me out for an 11 miler a few weeks ago or I’d never be prepared! At the Rock and Roll San Jose I helped* her PR, so I’m secretly hoping we can do that again. Again, no pressure whatsoever…

What races are you rockin’ this weekend?

*The term “help” is used lightly. I’m pretty sure it was all her and she was trying to finish quickly to get away from my peppy, obnoxious race self.

Spring Break Goals

When people hear the words “Spring Break” they typically think of college girls doing inappropriate things on the beach, but (un)fortunately that is not me this year. While I’m a large fan of traveling and doing foolish things*, I’m going to be spending this break focused on my future. To keep myself on track, I’ve set some goals for the next two weeks:

  1. Prepare at least three home cooked, healthy meals – I haven’t been cooking much in the past few months and I sure as hell haven’t been eating as well as I should. I made the decision that this week I’ll get back into the habit of preparing food at home. This morning I spent an hour at the grocery store picking up some healthy items, then this afternoon I managed to cook two great recipes (with only one major flub, hurrah).
    Major thanks to Laura for her delicious bulgur pilaf recipe and to Pinky for getting me hooked on these honey mustard burgers (seriously addictive). I had forgotten how tough it is to make several things in parallel, but it was worth it. Now I’ve got healthy meals for the next few days. Hopefully this is a habit that will last past these two weeks.
  2. Run three times each week – My running has been slacking since I returned from my races Phoenix. I have a half marathon this Sunday (with the lovely Maggie) and I need my body to be prepared. This morning I was able to get in a short run and I’m scheduling another two into this week. Thursday morning I’ll complete at least five miles and Friday is for speed training. Next week I’m hoping I can get four solid runs in so I can get back to my regular pace.
  3. Update my portfolio – As a designer, I need to have a portfolio of the substantial work I’ve done. I have started an online portfolio, which needs to be completely updated, and then I need to create a hard copy. This means I need to take some high quality photos of my work, edit them with Photoshop, and create an attractive layout in Illustrator. All in all it is quite an undertaking. Probably why I haven’t gotten to it yet. But the time is now and it will save me a lot of work in the future.
  4. Look for jobs – The most nerve-wracking of all my tasks. This will require me to scour the internet for positions in the Bay Area. At this point I’m uncertain what type of company I’m interested in working for, but I do know where I want to be. I’m setting a solid goal of finding three viable options and applying before the end of the week. I’ve also come to terms with the fact that it is tough to get a company’s attention through an online application, so I am going to do my best to connect directly with an employee. And of course this means some serious networking…
  5. Network and continue informational interviewing – I have two great connections in the area and I need to set up times that I can meet with both. Hopefully they will be able to guide me. But I also need to find people I’m less familiar with that could assist me in my job search. This means I need to buck up and attend events in the area rather than staying within my comfort zone. I’m incredibly nervous about going to these events, but recognize that it is necessary.

Of course there are a few other items I need to work on as well, like that hair cut I’ve put off for months and doing laundry, but I see these as minor in comparison with the other items. So here is to accomplishing all of the goals on my list and then some! (Wish me luck, I’ll probably need it…)

What are your goals this month? How did you get started on your job search?

*Okay, I got in a few nights of debauchery in New Orleans this past weekend. More information and a few too many photos to follow.

Change or Die

This quarter I’m taking a class on designing for health change. It is a very creative class in which I get to interact with patients and prototype designs that will help them make lifestyle changes. As part of the class we are reading the book Change or Die which is full of great wisdom on making change in your own life and those of others. The reading this past week really stood out to me and was full of useful tidbits. Here are a few that I found particularly inspiring:

1) We continue successful behaviors and this makes it difficult for us to change. There is nothing wrong with enjoying being successful, but sometimes we need to move beyond our comfort zones.

Found this photo today and it is my motivation for the week. Can't wait to rock Ragnar in three weeks!

Found this photo today and it is my motivation for the week. Can’t wait to rock Ragnar in three weeks!

2) One way to spice up your behavior is to take on challenges that you’ll be bad at for a while rather than returning to pursuits you’re good at. Be proud of the things you are great at, but don’t let them stop you from try out something new. Who knows, you may find a new skill or activity that you rock at. Or you won’t rock. There is nothing wrong with that.

3) If you don’t feel at ease in your environment, change it! Find something you are comfortable with as it will entice you to return. Maybe the gym isn’t for you, but have you tried a kickboxing studio? Don’t be afraid to explore, this will just lead to awesome adventures. Worst case scenario – you have a hilarious story to tell your friends.

4) Find a mentor you respect and a community you enjoy. I can honestly say that if it was not for Kathy, the pace leader at my run club in Ohio, I would not have attempted my first half or full marathon. It was a happy accident that I found her, but one of the best things that happened to me. Because of her constant guidance and belief in me, I gained confidence in my running and was able to push myself further. This leads into the next piece…

5) Have a relationship with people who believe in you and whom you believe in. Do not put up with people who do not believe in you. You are awesome, you deserve nothing but respect and love from those in your life. Find people who make you feel good and avoid those who hurt or frustrate you. Life is too short to have toxic people in your life.

6) Learning and change aren’t one-size-fits-all phenomena. It is tough to read or hear someone else’s story and wish that it would happen to you, but that isn’t how life works. This is something I struggle with constantly, I have to remind myself that everyone finds change and motivation in different places. This doesn’t mean it won’t come, just that it may take a different form.

What have you done to make positive changes in your life? What pieces of advice do you have?

Fitbloggin Part 2

And now that I’ve had a full week to process all of the awesomeness that happened at Fitbloggin (and to dive head first into grad school), it’s about time I complete my recap.  Right?

Check me out, I’m tramping!

Saturday started off with another bang. I dragged Melissa down to bounce on some tiny trampolines. Supposedly it was a fitness class, but it felt more like child-ish behavior mixed with inappropriateness from the instructor. I kid you not, he told us to “hit your bad kitty”. I’m still uncertain what he was referring to. So we jumped, then got on the floor and did some awkward dance moves. Afterward I was shocked at how much I was shvitzing. But I didn’t have much time to relax since it was absolutely necessary to Zumba! Although many people didn’t tramp, I swear that everyone got in on Zumba. It was a huge ball of fun. Who doesn’t love dancing? And let me tell you, all our sexiness rocked that dance floor conference center carpet.

After a seriously necessary shower, I ran away to the Natural Products Expo next door. Let me tell you, there is nothing life a conference center full of  natural food products… I spoke with so many vendors and picked up a bit too much. Fortunately my bunk mates were more than willing to take some free samples with. I met some great companies, who you’ll probably here about in a little bit, and learned plenty about the industry.

Then I jetted back to Fitbloggin so I could LiveBlog for the best (and most teary jerking) discussions of the event – When You Have a Lot to Lose. It was absolutely beautiful to hear each person’s story. It made me really reconsider things in my own life. The rest of the day I spent with the great roomies. We had crabcakes (naturally since we were in Maryland), had a slight fiasco with a patio umbrella, and enjoyed the reception where Robby won a KitchenAid mixer (that will be mine!). We spent the rest of the night relaxing around the grounds. I got picked up by Biggest Loser star Mark. Okay, that is a lie, I jumped into his arm and he couldn’t do much about it. Fortunately he was a good sport.

Our entire room woke up early on Sunday to prepare for the 5k. I had made plans to run with Maggie the day before and she was a perfect running mate. In fact, I’m hoping she’ll pace me for this weekend’s half marathon. Melissa was even kind enough to slow down and stick with us for the entire thing. Somehow having these two awesome ladies around me made me push a little bit harder.

The entire event ended on a high note of hugs and see-you-laters. Then off Pinky and I ran to the airport. It was sad to part from everyone and return back to California, but I knew it was time. The next day I started classes and TA-ing a class with a bunch of rowdy and confused engineering undergrads. This promises to be a very hectic and frustrating quarter. But I’m up for the challenge (as long as I can fit some training and healthy eating into the schedule). I’ve made some changes to my habits, in fact I’m even staying up later these days! But more on that soon.

What are your big plans and goals for October? I’m hoping to rock two half marathons and drop all those pounds I gained this summer.