cait +tiff

1 Comment

T / Recline? Lean In? (and Ira Glass)

Photo Credit:  Jean Baptiste Mondino for Obsession, June 2012

Photo Credit: Jean Baptiste Mondino for Obsession, June 2012

So four-ish months ago, I made the decision to recline.  Recline from a career in public health and policy, its discontents, the experience of being occasionally being introduced as an intern (though actually being paid very well as a consultant), sitting at a table of mostly older men and being assumed to take notes, the list goes on.  I was bowing out of the game. I have nothing against leaning in.  But I was questioning the impact I was having within my profession and what I was getting out of it (aside from a very nice per diem).  It’s also 2015 and being a thirty year old female sans offspring, I felt I could make this leap.

Despite the supportive words from friends who extolled how brave we were to set out and do something we really loved, the doubt inevitably set in.  You know about that doubt right?  The DOUBT.  I’m a big picture kinda girl who tends to move fast, I work best with deadlines and ask for results to come in faster.  So I was basically asking for a little anxiety attack to happen.  You know the thoughts – “I’m a total fake. Who am I kidding? People will never pay me for this” Alternatively, “well I should just set a deadline for success and I can always go back to my old job,” and “I’ve left a job helping others to promote a yuppie lifestyle.”  I don’t think I was a very pleasant person to work with and I am beyond thankful to Cait for being such a patient friend and business partner.

But then I realized, this must be what so many small business owners experience. And you’d think that with all the interviews that Cait and I have already done, I would have already picked up some lessons (check out this podcast for some great ones!).  Looking back on these conversations, the small business owners and creatives who succeed acknowledge the slow path to growth, make calculated decisions to ensure that this growth occurs and that risks are worth taking. My talk with photographer Roberto Westbrook made this all the more clear.

Taste became a unifying theme across all the wonderful people we’ve met and had conversations with over the past several months is perfectly captured by these two minutes of words from Ira Glass. Because, come on, what isn’t? I’ve maintained his words as my mantra over the past month, and they are especially relevant during those moments of doubt.  They even come as a desktop wallpaper, and as an animated transcriptif you like.

THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.

Four months on, I realized we are not reclining at all.  I’m looking at recommendations for productivity and management apps, which means that the work is coming in.  And I’ve realized that leaning in can mean whatever you want it to mean.  You may think you’re reclining when you’re actually leaning in.  I might also need a standing desk soon to take care of the problems of literally leaning in (working with Photoshop will do that).  But most of all, I think I’ve learned that the leaning in I did do was to figure out what direction I wanted to be in, and to actually embark on a journey towards it. And sure I’m worried.  I think a healthy dose of fear helps everyone.  And these words from Ira Glass, as well as the supportive community that Cait and I both have, will always keep us afloat.  


Leave a comment

T / 30 so far

Illustration Credit: Lindsay Watson

Illustration Credit: Lindsay Watson

Enough with the new years posts already, right?  So I’m calling this one an update on my 30th year.  It’s about a third of the way through and I am digging it.  Not to say that all other years can’t compare.  But feeling like you’re standing on two feet in the middle of a tremor? It’s not a bad feeling at all.

I recently, or more like hours ago, finished the last global health contract I felt like I had to say an automatic YES to.  This contract felt so different to the others in the past three years that I spent consulting, where I basically said YES to everything.  It felt different because after this contract, I would start saying NO. NO because I didn’t want to work in a high stress, low appreciation, low inspiration, high drama environment.  NO because it would take me away from developing the ideas that Cait and I have been brewing since the moment we became friends.  And NO because I didn’t want to come home feeling like a total schmo whilst complaining to my partner and my friends about the trials and tribulations of working in a conflict-heavy environment that has a tendency to be antiquated, elderly and male.  I am not leaving the world of global health consulting.  I’m basically making a decision to recline.

So I recently got to say NO.  And it felt fucking damn good.  But it also felt a bit risky.  I could have rung in 2015 with that freedom but I know I subconsciously kept delaying that inevitable.  Inevitably it came.  And I’m so happy it did.

For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to tell stories, both visually and literally. And to share all the weird stuff that I am currently digging.  But everything I had been doing didn’t feel like it was enough.  C+T has allowed both Cait and I to delve into these previously suppressed sides of ourselves in a way that feels fulfilling.  So I’m really looking forward to developing my skills in photography and graphic design this year.  And to tell more stories about people who are taking one foot out of the rat race and stepping into their own passions.  If no one likes it, that’s cool too.  What we are doing is not unique.  The NYTimes recently dedicated an entire article to professionally hyphenated millennials.  Cait wrote all about it last year too.

I know that I can say NO because I’m in a bit of a DINKy situation (that’s double income, no kids for all us yups).  I also live in Phnom Penh where our costs of living are low; so while there’s a chain saw going at it in the neighbouring construction site while I write this, I know there’s a cheap massage around the corner to get rid of that.  Phnom Penh is also full of creatives and entrepreneurs.  The energy and momentum of being able to embark on a second career in an emerging economy is beyond amazing.

So how did I start the first day of a new deal?  I got overwhelmed and wound up doing dishes and laundry and then threw out some words about this mess on le blog.  Time to deeper in that mess!  Thanks for hearing me out 🙂