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pros of an office job

June 29, 2015
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So, guess what? I got an office job. And not as a sign of defeat with my acting career. But here’s the story:

My husband’s office was without an administrative assistant for a week or two. As the staff is growing, and the office is preparing for a move, hiring someone new fell to the wayside. He casually mentioned that I could help fill in for a week or two, and now I’m here, helping out at least for the next few months. I didn’t know how I’d like it. I’ve never had a full time job (just a variety of multiple part time jobs), and the times I’ve worked in an office I either disliked very much or was with several people in a casual environment I could talk to to get through the day. Besides the boss being totally supportive of my need to leave for auditions, etc., I’m making some extra income, and getting to see my husband (though not too much, we are on opposite ends of the office). I also knew pretty much everyone in the office already from BBQs and company parties. It’s a pretty perfect set up. I’ve been here two weeks, and here are some of the things I’m loving so far (for those that are struggling with the hum drum of office life, let’s change our attitude, shall we?!):

Routine: Since I had to keep my days open for auditions, I had no set routine. My days were open and free, and I got in a bad habit of not doing anything with them (who needs to when you have endless free time?). Now that I have to be at work every day, I wake up at the same time to start my day. I get dressed and pack my food (in turn I have a better and more filling eating schedule). Kipling gets a walk in the morning since we’re both gone until 5:30…and a walk when we get home (I have to be more diligent about my steps). Being at the office all day leaves little time to take care of chores, errands, and exercise, so those need to be scheduled. The time we have outside of work is precious, so we take advantage of it by seeing friends and planning fun outings. I already feel immensely more productive.

Clothing: Though I’ve recently reduced my wardrobe drastically to only clothes that fit great and that I love to wear, I still have several pieces I don’t wear often. I mean, why would I throw on that adorable Anthropologie dress just to sit at home or walk the dog? I’m having fun planning my outfits and putting my clothes to good use. I always feel better about myself and more confident when I am dressed and put together. It’s great to have an excuse to get dressed for the day (and not just sit in my pajamas until 2pm). Plus, it’s fun!

Keurig Cups: You might have seen me mention that our Keurig broke, and I was without coffee for a while (and took too many trips to Starbucks). Even with the Keurig machine, we never bought the cups because they’re so expensive. I ended up buying a regular ol’ coffee pot, which is just fine, but then I decided to cut back on coffee. I’m not happy to admit that my coffee drinking is coming back a bit with my early rise time and working all day, but I am happy to say that there is an abundance of free Keurig cups in every flavor I could imagine! Chai Latte, Mocha, regular coffee, etc. etc. It’s the little things in life, y’all.

My Mind: Guys, I don’t know if I need to tell you this, but spending significant lengths of time by yourself at home is not great for your soul. I was getting so antsy and feeling in such a rut/funk these last several months. I needed something to occupy my time. I needed something to motivate me. I needed a reason to get up and get moving with the day. Already this job has done wonders for all of that. I see people! I take lunch outside in the sunshine! I spend my free time at the computer actually working towards my acting career instead of surfing the internet! I’m more relaxed about finances, which that in itself has been a Godsend. That leads to relaxation in all areas of my life – I don’t feel as desperate, as worthless or insignificant (real talk here guys). I feel a sense of renewal with my acting and love the breaks I get to take to go to auditions or meetings. I don’t need the job. I can just enjoy it now.

Office life is not for everyone. It’s not for me either (heck, I’m an actress). But as a means to supplement my life while I pursue my dreams? It seems pretty good so far. Because God knows I can never go back to waiting tables again.

-wonderland sam

25 for my 25th : progress

June 10, 2015

Admittedly, I have not crossed off as many things on this list as I would’ve liked to by now, but I do have some plans in motion. I have exactly three months left until my birthday.

A little update on my 25 for 25th list:

1. Visit Portland, Oregon √

3. Make my own sandwich bread √

4. Go apple picking √

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5. Enroll Kipling in an obedience class 

We finished a 6 week course with Kipling earlier this year. It mostly covered basic obedience commands that Kipling already knows, but we did learn some helpful tips. I must admit we do need to be way more diligent about teaching her on our own and reinforcing things at home. Persistence is key if we want to make any real progress.

6. Read the entire Anne of Green Gables series / finished book 3 of 6; however, I’ve lost interest in the series (though the first is so great) and don’t think I’ll continue reading.

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9. Go camping at Joshua Tree 

We spent our annual Easter camping trip at Joshua Tree this year. You can see photos and read more about it here and here.

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14. Learn how to actually plant an herb garden 

I should edit this to just say “garden” because though the only herb we’ve planted is basil, we’ve planted a whole lot of other fruits and vegetables (bell peppers, onions, zucchini, strawberries). Check out our planter we made here (we ended up making two).

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16. Read Harry Potter / on book 5 of 7

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20. Have a picnic in Central Park 

Though it didn’t work out that we actually ATE in Central Park (we had Thanksgiving leftovers back at our friend’s apartment), we did have the opportunity to go to NYC this year and walk through Central Park (and see the famous Alice statue!). You can find more about our trip here, here, here, here, and here.

Some other plans in motion:

2. Learn how to use a sewing machine / I purchased this A Beautiful Mess e-course and am just waiting to procure a sewing machine to get started!

7. Buy a new mattress / This is actually our Christmas gift from my mom (this past year). We just have yet to pick one out.

11. Go on a day long hike / We are doing a three day kayaking/hiking/camping trip for 4th of July that should check this one off.

13. Take a SkillShare or other online class / I have a handful of free classes that I have already registered for and just need to make the time to actually take them.

See my previous update here. You can also follow my (slow) progress on Instagram through #sams25for25

-wonderland sam

balance

May 28, 2015

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I struggle with finding balance. To me, it’s usually an all or nothing thing. I either have to binge watch Netflix all day or cross off my to-dos like a maniac. I go from attending casting director workshops and submitting for projects and emailing industry contacts and reading Backstage articles to taking a step back and relaxing and letting go of the desperation. It has been very tricky for me to balance on that fine line somewhere in between.

This applies to pursuing my interests and discovering what I want from life in general. I want to do too many things. Or I want to do nothing. Everything inspires me, but everything bogs me down with too much information – my brain cannot possibly absorb all of it. I’m still working on this. Working on relaxing but staying motivated, working on gathering information but taking it with a grain of salt and ultimately trusting my own instincts. Working on being okay with the fact that I want to be and do a great many things but also that it’s okay for me to change my mind and not want to be or do certain things.

There is no blueprint for life. There are no steps to take that will ensure complete and utter happiness and success. It’s all about recognizing who you are, being okay with that, and doing what works for you. We are all different and complex and crazy, and it’s about accepting that. I must accept that I am all of the things I am, and I feel all of the things I feel, and that is okay. All we can do is focus is on the present moment and the current journey we are on – doing the things that promote love and joy. This is what I keep telling myself to keep me sane.

I read this and this yesterday and loved both – take a look. Everything above probably made no sense, but these women are so much more eloquent than I am.

-wonderland sam

san diego

May 27, 2015

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This past weekend we drove down to San Diego to stay at my brother’s new house (jealous) for Memorial Day weekend. He and his girlfriend both have a crazy weekend work schedule, so we didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked, but we did get a lot of good time with my niece. We went out to eat, roller skated, lounged by the pool, watched some TV (we started Fresh Off The Boat, and it is amazing), took the dogs to the park and threw a baseball around, ate dessert at Extraordinary Desserts and walked around Balboa Park…just had a relaxing weekend. Generally on trips I’m all about the plans and the itinerary, but this one we just went with the flow (and took a lot of naps). The weather has been really gloomy lately, which is a bummer, but I guess I can’t really complain when the other 11 months of the year are all sunshine. My sister is coming into town this weekend, and I think warmer temps are coming with her; I’m excited about both. Bring on summer!

P.S. These are the rest of the photos from my last roll of film (as always, shot manually and unedited).

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-wonderland sam

joshua tree

May 26, 2015

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As things go…two months later I’ve finished my last roll of film. The majority of the photos are from our Easter camping trip to Joshua Tree (I shared a few here). Though I still prefer the forests, the wide open desert spaces, the jumbo rocks, and the quirky trees were a fun change from our normal camping trips. Next up, a 4th of July three day kayaking/hiking/snorkeling trip on an island that my super outdoorsy, travel expert friend planned!

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My dream as a kid (and currently) was to compete on Legends of the Hidden Temple. This rocky pathway reminded me of it. So…

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Beautiful desert skies.

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-wonderland sam

things that make me happy

May 22, 2015

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me happy and actively adding more of those things into my life. I’m a serial list maker, so you bet I even made a list. Here are some things that never fail to add a little light into my day (sometimes literally), which is why I’m planning on doing more of ’em.

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Coffee dates. I really enjoy coffee, and maybe more than the coffee itself, I love the ritual of having a cup of it in the morning to start my day. My husband is not a big coffee drinker, but he’s always down to get out of the house, take a walk, and start our weekends early. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery, fresh air, and a Cup of Joe to motivate your Saturday mornings. Our Keurig has been broken, and I’ve been spending way too much lately on visits to Starbucks, so I finally went out and bought a tried and true, regular ol’ coffee maker (with a pot and everything). I love the sound of the pot gurgling and the smell of coffee wafting through the apartment. It’s a simple thing that starts my day off on a happy note.

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Gardening. This past weekend we finally built ourselves another planter that is safe to grow edible fruits and vegetables in. Beyond the hobby of gardening, which we are really enjoying so far (I talked more about it here), it’s so rewarding to make something (in this case, the planter) with your own hands. I love crafting and DIY projects and need to incorporate more of that into my life. I’m a firm believer in the importance and necessity of hobbies, whether it’s reading, exercising, sewing, etc., as these all make up a meaningful and well-balanced life.

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Sunshine. Seriously. It never fails to lift my spirits, and thankfully we get a whole lot of it here in Southern California. When I’m feeling lethargic or in the dumps, a walk outside helps me feel refreshed because nothing feels better than the sun on your skin. I’m also feeling more motivated to get outside for long walks to reach my Fitbit steps, so the added exercise doesn’t hurt either.

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Pizza. When all else fails: pizza. Just kidding. But seriously. I’ve never been one to have a favorite food, but the more I think about it, pizza probably tops the list. I love it homemade, delivery, pizzeria style…all of it. Nothing completes a Friday night like a slice of pizza and an ice-cold soda.

Along the same lines as discovering what makes you happy, find what makes you unhappy and eliminate those things from your life (I’m working on that part). Matthew McConaughey gave (what I think) is a brilliant commencement speech, in which he talks about finding out who you are by instead pinpointing what you are not, a process of elimination if you will. Read the whole transcript here.

Happy Memorial Day weekend! We are heading down to San Diego to spend the weekend at my brother’s new house – all things that make me very, very happy.

-wonderland sam

the art of the carry-on

May 20, 2015

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Last October we decided to take a last minute trip to Portland for our 2 year anniversary. Because we spent a chunk of change on tickets for a trip we hadn’t planned on taking, we didn’t want to spend the extra to check luggage. I also snuck apple picking into our itinerary, so you bet I was going to make room in my suitcase to bring bags of apples home; thus was born my first time only bringing a carry-on. It held exactly two outfits for the two days we would be there, and I had one pair of shoes that were on my feet. And a magical world was opened up for me.

Having only a carry-on was so liberating. I didn’t overpack. I didn’t have to wait at the carousel after my flight for my giant suitcase. I didn’t have to worry about luggage being lost. I didn’t have to lug a huge suitcase everywhere if we changed locations often. We traveled a lot last fall and winter, and every plane ride I only brought a carry-on. To New York, to Texas for Christmas, etc. I’m never going back. But how did I do it?

1. Try on everything. Try on every outfit you plan on bringing – I’m talking the bra, the top, the pants, and the shoes…the whole thing. Too often I’d overpack several “options” only to find I didn’t like how any of them looked on me or nothing went together. Make sure you have the right bra to wear with that specific top. Make sure that top looks good with those jeans. Pack specific outfits – you don’t need three different bottoms to maybe go with one top. Take out the “maybe”, and put in the “will”. Love every outfit you’re packing, so you know you will wear it…exactly how you planned.

2. Pack versatile pieces. Pack items that are both casual and classy. Sometimes you don’t have a set itinerary for a trip, but now is not the time to pack extra fancy dresses just in case you go out to a nice dinner (one is fine if you must). Pack classic pieces that always look nice and can be worn for any occasion, like black skinny jeans or a floral blouse – not something super trendy or off the wall that you might not find an occasion to wear it.

3. Wear your clothes more. This may seem outlandish (or even gross to some), but hey, you don’t have to wash your clothes after one wear. I generally wear the same top 2 or 3 times before washing, and the same pants for way longer. Unless you’re doing physical activity or sweating or spilling something on yourself, your clothes do not get “dirty” that fast. This means you can pack less clothes and worry less about what you’re going to wear, because hey, that outfit worked perfectly yesterday, why not wear it again today? P.S. This rule does not apply to panties and socks. Change those every day.

4. When it comes to shoes, less is more. If there’s one thing I’d say most women have a lot of, it’s shoes, and I am no exception. They’re fun and complete an outfit, so why not have a ton of options?! Wrong – on trips anyway. Shoes take up the most room, and you never end up wearing all of them. I say pack two pairs (maybe three if you need sneakers because you’re an overachiever and exercise even while on vacation ;p) at the most, and that’s including the pair you wear to the airport. When I went to both Portland and New York, I only brought the one pair of shoes on my feet. But like I said above, pack shoes that are versatile. Leave the heels at home; they take up more space, are more fragile, aren’t conducive to walking a lot (which is usually done on trips), and you won’t have many occasions to wear them. Instead, pack a pair of ballet flats; they take up little room in your suitcase, are great for walking, and can transition from day to night – with pants or dresses. If you want to bring a pair of bulkier shoes, like boots or sneakers, wear those to the airport.

5. Travel size it. I used to be opposed to buying travel sized bathroom essentials because hey, I already have a bottle of shampoo at home, why do I need to waste $1.50 to buy a super tiny one I’ll only get a few uses out of? Well guess what, they’re always worth it. Not only will it allow you to only bring a carry-on (we all know you aren’t allowed to pack large containers of liquid), but they save space and weight. I also used to think I had to check a bag in order to bring my razor (ridiculous right?), but you don’t. Those can go in carry-ons, so you don’t have to worry about going days without shaving! Hurray!

6. Don’t allow duplicates. If you’re staying in a hotel, chances are they will have a hair dryer, so don’t pack your personal one. If you’re staying with friends, ask them beforehand if they have a straightener or even bathroom essentials (like shampoo and conditioner) they wouldn’t mind you using. No point in everyone having one of everything that can easily be shared. This applies to clothes too; you don’t need 3 different jackets – one is enough. Wear it to the airport because jackets definitely take up a lot of valuable suitcase space.

7. Bring a carry-on that has wheels. Even if your bag is super small and light, it’s always nice to have a rolling suitcase when you’re traversing a large airport like LAX or Houston Intercontinental. I learned my lesson after bringing a gym bag and having to lug it over my shoulder as I trekked through the airport. Packing light is supposed to make the experience better and more comfortable, so don’t let the lack of wheels get in the way of that.

I’m sure there are other, more “professional” tips for packing, but these have all worked for me. Above all else, the whole “trying on everything” has been the best and most helpful rule for me to follow. Pack light, so your trip is easy breezy, and you can bring home more travel purchases (or picks, like apples!). Happy traveling!

-wonderland sam

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