Wendy’s World: Create a Personal Foundation

Within the past few years, I have come across some personal problems that I am still dealing with in my life.  Through these experiences, I have learned one extremely valuable lesson: know your values.

I always thought I knew what my values were until I realized that I was losing myself when I was deep in the midst of these problems. In reality, I only had a vague idea of what I actually stood for.  I inherently practiced what I believed in, but I did not actually recognize that I did so.  I couldn’t identity what my values were and explain why I believed in them.  Without this set knowledge, I was easily consumed by the details of my problems and lost myself and my values—the foundation for who I am.

Although I can now identify what my values are and why I believe in them, I am in the process of recreating myself as I try to resolve these personal problems.  Sometimes, you have to take a step back to take two steps forward, right?

Yet through these values, I know that I will be able to overcome my problems with a sense of self and identity.  I also know that these values will provide me with a solid foundation to overcome any problem.  I have faith that as long as I have good values, any problem can successfully be overcome at some point in time.

Thus, I encourage you to identity what your values are and understand why you believe in them.  I believe that having good values and recognizing what they are is the best form of preparation for life.  These values should guide you in learning important skills and developing a sense of balance in life for you to achieve your vision of success.

–Wendy Tran

Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm®

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The Allie Way – Fight the SADness! :)

Winter weather got you down?

You may be familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD.  I won’t bore you with the scientific specifics, since any questions can be answered with good ol’ google and Wikipedia. But basically, SAD, also known as the “winter blues” occurs when people begin to feel more depressed in the winter time (or any specific season, though it is rarely anything but winter). Having always lived in upstate New York, I’ve seen a lot of this. Some of my friends are actually affected quite strongly by the change in seasons, and it always seems like such a shame that the weather can take such a negative toll on our bodies and minds. In the winter months, we don’t get nearly enough sunlight or fresh air, and many people may actually suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency during this season and not even know it. A professor of mine actually suggested that we get our Vitamin D levels checked, because it is easy enough to take a supplement if they are too low.

I always thought that I was not affected by the seasons in this way. I prefer cloudy days. They make me feel so much more comfortable and cozy than sunlight, which often feels harsh to me. BUT, having said that, I am starting to realize that I might be more impacted by the seasons than I had previously thought. We have had a couple of random nice days in the past month or so, nearing 60 degrees. And these have come between blizzards and weeks of below-freezing temperatures. And on those days, especially when it was also rainy, I noticed that I just felt so much happier and more motivated to do anything. The little bothers in life didn’t get to me quite so much and it was a lot easier to get over stressful events when I could just go for a walk without feeling like my face was being whipped off by the wind! So while I do find gray days cozy, I think I (like many other people) really do feel better when I can get outside and absorb even a few rays of sunshine. For me I think part of it is also psychological: spring and summer are happier times in general, and the warm weather is associated with those seasons. So when I walk outside and it smells like spring (even if it’s actually January), suddenly I get all of that hope and motivation that typically comes along in April when school is almost out.

Regardless of my own specifics, I think it is important to assess yourself! If you have been feeling blue or hopeless or down in the dumps lately, it’s possible that you’ve got a case of SAD. Now, I’m not saying everyone who is unhappy right now should just go diagnose themselves with this. But the reason I bring this to your attention is because SAD can often be managed. One common treatment is light therapy, which literally entails sitting under a specific type of lamp for about an hour at a time and giving your body a good dose of artificial sunlight. Some people see a lot of improvement with this!

If you suspect that your sadness may be related to the season, I would encourage you to look into it and think about treatment options. I’m trying to keep myself motivated by saying, “It’s February now. Spring starts next month, technically!” (Although in New York State, it often feels more like spring starts in late May. But no matter what, we’re getting closer and closer!)

Keep your head high; there may be ways around your SADness! :)


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Overwhelmed? Keep Calm to Avoid Using the Force Quit!

Want to know what happens when you try to open iChat, Photoshop, Microsoft Outlook and InDesign at the same time? Nothing. The computer spins its multi-colored wheels until you either wait patiently or force quit. This is what happens when we expect ourselves to do four things at once. Let’s open ourselves up to one new task at a time friends :) Force quit is no fun!

Here are some empowering questions to gently ask yourself the next time you’re in danger of force quitting due to overwhelm and overexertion:

  • Why do I think I’m in this situation?
  • What do I most want right now?
  • What is stopping me from getting it?
  • What is one small action step I can take to move me toward what I really want?
  • How would trying that feel to me?
  • When am I going to take that first step?
  • How will I hold myself accountable?
  • If that doesn’t do the trick to lessen my feelings of overwhelm, what else can I do?
  • What lessons will I remember the next time I’m in this situation?
  • How can I be kind to myself right now?
  • How can I spread this lesson to my friends and serve as a positive example for everyone I know!?

Don’t forget to congratulate yourself for making an empowered choice to keep calm and stay kind to yourself in the face of adversity. You just took a giant step forward on your personal leadership development journey!

Remember that you’re never alone. We’re always here to support you!

Ever after in faith of ourselves,

-Maria Pascucci
Founder & President
Campus Calm™

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Jenny Blake on Perfectionism, Failures and Authenticity

From the moment I first came across Jenny’s candid blog, Life After College, I wished that I stumbled across it when I was still in high school.  At the same time when Jenny was building a successful career as an Internal Coach and Career Development Program Manager, she was working on her blog and making her big dream of writing and publishing her book happen. After her book tour she realized that she should leave behind her six-figure salary, move across the country to pursue an entrepreneurial career and focus on doing what makes her happy. Jenny was very kind to find time during her vacation to talk to Campus Calm about overcoming perfectionism and living her life on her own terms.

In high school you won the California Journalist of the Year award and went on to become one of the four finalists in the national competition. Going to college on the East Coast was your big dream, but you got rejected from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Harvard and from every other college on the East Coast where you applied. Please share how you dealt with those rejections and how you overcame the feeling of not being good enough.

Part of it, I really do think that rejection can be a blessing in disguise, even if we can’t see it at the time. It’s important for us to accept and allow that we are disappointed and that something that we wanted isn’t going to happen. At the same time, as cheesy as it is, I believe that everything happens for a reason, and for some reason there is either more for us to learn or some other better fit and an opportunity waiting for us around the corner. For example, getting rejected from Medill School of Journalism I ended up not wanting to be a journalist as my official career and instead going to UCLA gave me other amazing opportunities. Later I was able to bring back journalism through blogging. Even though our past may take a twist or a return that we are not expecting, knowing that there is something for me to learn here definitely helped me to deal with those rejections. It’s allowing for the possibility that there is even a better fit ahead.

That’s a valuable lesson because many people tend to see rejections as failures. On that note, how did your perspective on failures change between your late teens and late twenties?

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you have to trust your gut and your intuition and when I don’t do that, that’s when I have a saying, “Change chooses you”. In some ways certain changes are inevitable, like a job or a relationship that isn’t a fit and the intuition might be saying that it isn’t a fit and maybe we are not listening or are not sure what to do about it. Eventually, at some point, change is going to happen one way or the other. It can be more painful when change chooses you, like when you get fired from a job or someone breaks up with you but that pain or shock can be a blessing in disguise. However, that’s not easy to say; for example, people get fired and that can be devastating and very tough financially. At the same time, sometimes that kick gives people a chance to pursue something that they’ve been wanting to do, but that they might not have been able to muster the full courage to do it out of nowhere.

You wrote that perfectionism is crippling because at its extreme it can become a form of procrastination. How did you overcome perfectionism to achieve your goals?

For me there is a difference between having high standards and being a perfectionist, which may not alway be a big difference. Perfectionism gets us in trouble when it becomes terrorizing and starts to hold us back. I experience it all the time and then I don’t want to post something because it’s not of the highest quality, the best thing that I have ever written and the most original idea that has ever been created. We should ask ourselves how can we loosen the reins a little bit to open the door to more creativity because perfectionism can be paralyzing. For example, in the New Year I plan to practice focusing on the routine of writing and quantity of the writing first and then narrowing it down to the things that I like.

You are courageous enough to be vulnerable and to share a piece of your life with your readers even though sometimes you are terrified to admit your feelings publicly. What drives you to allow yourself to live wholeheartedly and be authentic?

It’s really an ongoing practice. It’s more about continually challenging myself to be vulnerable and to understand what is really going on right now and is that something that I want to share on the blog, because of course not everything makes it to the blog. When I feel that my own experience can be helpful for others and it’s important to share, then I’ll do it, although it still fells like a challenge to do it. However, I’ve learned that when I feel scared to post something, those posts turn out to bring the best response. Since I know that it has worked in the past, now I have a comforting feeling and I am willing to take that risk again. I try to keep Life After College balanced. I don’t want it to be just a personal memoir type of writing, that’s not my style either, so it’s allowing myself a little bit of everything: some practical posts, coaching, templates and personal experience.

Your work often focuses on helping people achieve their big dream, but it’s often easier to get what you want than to figure out what you want. How can we gain clarity if we are dealing with pressure to find our passion?

Go for big lists and get it all down to paper. I like to do a mind map with the word passion or idea in the middle. Start testing that “why”. I agree that people often get stuck with “what is the one big thing that I need to do?”. Danielle LaPorte talks a lot about focusing on the feelings that we want, so instead of putting the pressure on how you are going to get somewhere, first think about how do you want to feel when you get there. When you define those feelings, think about what you need to change in your life to feel that way. If you rate your life from 1 to 10, and you rate it as 5, think about what would 10 look like. If you can start to understand the vision, then later the how will come into play and that’s when you can get into creating a plan and going after it. I think the mistake that people make is putting the pressure to have the big idea first when it’s really about the expansive, creative brainstorming and then narrowing it down.

Proactively developing new skills is very important to you, so is there something that you would like to learn? 

I love teaching yoga because it challenges me so much every time I teach a class. I still feel like a beginner even though I’ve been teaching for a year and a half. Teaching yoga continues to be a big skill that I’m learning. Additionally, in my personal practice, there are always poses that I like to challenge myself with. The other thing is learning how to write more, how to have a writing routine and be more personal with my writing. As I prepare to launch JennyBlake.me I want to explore what type of writing would fit on the blog, and what would I want it to be and open the range a little bit from where I am currently with Life After College.

About a year ago you wrote a post What’s Your Happy Place. What does a happy life mean to you and how has the definition of your happy place changed from a year ago?

I’m excited to be going back to Bali. Bali is definitely a happy place for me; it’s sunny, low-key and it has great energy. On the contrary I love New York; it’s busy, intense, the best of everything in one place. A happy place for me is more about who I have in my life, and about my routine and having a flexible work style. It’s fun to have the location be dynamic at this point in my life.


More about Jenny

Jenny Blake is an author, career and micro-business coach, speaker and yoga teacher. She shares her experience on career, happiness, goals, personal finances and soul-searching on her blog where she provides practical tips on how to take great leaps. Jenny is getting ready to launch her new website, JennyBlake.me, where she will share her adventures in the future.


Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm®


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The Allie Way – Working through the Woes of the Work Week

I started my current job last October. There are definitely some things that are great about it. My manager is so nice, and some of my co-workers are awesome people.

But I am finding my job incredibly anxiety-provoking. I was a little nervous when I started off, as I always have been and I’m sure I will be with any job. But I figured as I got more comfortable with it, those nerves would start to go away. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened.

There are three main things that contribute to my growing anxiety.

1. A phobia that I have to face at work.

2. A co-worker who makes me feel bad about myself.

3. Getting in trouble for flukes or things that I have not been trained how to do.

In my interview process, I specifically asked not to have a certain task, due to a phobia that I have had since I was about 5 years old. (I did not specify the reasoning, since I find this particular phobia to be a very personal matter, but I did make it clear that I felt strongly against working in one area). When I was hired, I did not think I would have to come in contact with the phobic stimulus, but upon my first day, I found out that I was required to. I have been working on my phobia a lot in the past few years, and thought I could handle it. So I didn’t tell anybody. But I found it to be more difficult than I had thought to balance the phobia while being trained and while trying to keep up a friendly smile for the customers, etc. One day, I made a stupid mistake because I was so overly-anxious and one of my co-workers (we’ll call him Co-Worker X) made me feel really bad about it. I was mortified and ended up hiding behind some racks in the big cooler to cry for a few minutes. Co-Worker X saw that I was upset. The next day I explained my phobia to him, and he was actually really nice about it. He didn’t tell anyone and he actually started stepping up and racing to do the task I was afraid of, to make sure I didn’t have to deal with it, which I REALLY appreciated. Though it was kind of awkward because our other co-workers didn’t understand what he was doing and kept telling him I had to do it instead. But I was really grateful.

But the thing about Co-Worker X is that I can’t tell what kind of a person he is. I was warned by… well, everyone when I first started working there that he was a jerk. Well, the words they used were a little less appropriate than “jerk,” but you get the idea. But then when he stepped up like that, I thought they were all wrong about him. And sometimes when we talk he is super nice to me and funny and we get along really well, so I don’t mind him. But I did realize over time, I think he only started doing that task that I hated so much because he actually prefers it over almost everything else. So he would send me out to do everything else while he did that. I didn’t mind, and I honestly still don’t, because I prefer everything else. But I can’t help but wonder if more of his motives for jumping up and saving me were selfish and less were about helping me out.  Anyway, regardless, the other problem is that he really does put me down a lot. There was a big incident at work last week where I followed all the procedures exactly like I was supposed to, but something went wrong and I ended up getting in trouble. It was actually a really exhausting experience (I ended up sobbing in a bathroom stall instead of a cooler this time, cliché as that sounds), and I won’t get into the details, but Co-Worker X kept exaggerating the situation and making it sound like I had messed up way worse than I had. In fact, I don’t even feel ok saying I messed up, because I did everything right! It was very upsetting. And he kept talking down to me, even when he clearly could see I had been crying over it. He’s worked there a lot longer than I have, and I felt like nobody really believed me when I said I had followed protocol. In the following days I even found out from other co-workers that X had been blabbing about my “mistake” to everyone and putting me down as a worker.

Another co-worker was amazingly nice to me though, and I appreciated him so much. The fact that he was there was probably the main reason I didn’t make a rash decision and run out of there as fast as I could. He even asked me if Co-Worker X had said anything mean to me, but I said no. Because he hadn’t actually said any one specific terribly nasty thing, it was just the general way he was treating me. And, if I’m being honest, I couldn’t talk about the situation without starting to cry again, and I didn’t want anyone to see that so I just shook my head when I was asked.

But the thing is, Co-Worker X is going nowhere. He doesn’t have a job besides this same minimum-wage part-time job that I have, and he lives at home with his mother. He didn’t finish school. Honestly, I don’t care how he lives his life. I’m not judgmental of that. And he has a job which is great. But he also makes a lot of mistakes at work too, and he doesn’t follow protocol a lot. And no one gives him a really hard time about any of that because, for the most part, my co-workers are nice. I called my mom after the big incident at work and she and I realized that he probably just has to put other people down to feel better about himself, and to draw attention away from his own mistakes.

Anyway, needless to say, I keep wanting to quit, and Co-Worker X is a lot of the reason why. But the facts remain that I need money, and quitting now would not be fair at all to my manager, who I actually really like. (Several people have left my department for various reasons since I was hired, and we are always in need of more people). I often have trouble sleeping the nights before I work. I eventually told my manager about my phobia, but unfortunately it will always be part of my job requirement to handle that. And I have also expressed my dislike for working with Co-Worker X, but I did it politely. (Additionally, he’s been really rude to a new worker in our department, and a lot of us have used the opportunity to express our issues with him). I realize that all jobs are tough and there will always be people you don’t like. I just need to keep pushing forward. At least I have a job. And I do realize that I need to learn to stand up for myself more… which is currently a work in progress for me.

Have you ever had a day so awful that you didn’t know how you would recover from it? What did you do? How DID you recover? And how do you handle unkind co-workers? I’d love to hear some of your coping strategies!

For me, it has a lot to do with looking at the positive and trying to stay rational. I am always looking for ways to stay strong and make the situation easier. When the present isn’t cutting it for me, I focus on the future. I’ll be grateful for these experiences someday, I think. I don’t like to think of myself as a quitter, or someone who runs away from problems. So I intend to keep pushing forward and trying not to let Co-Worker X get to me too much. Now that he’s shown his true colors, it’s a bit easier to anticipate when he will be cruel, and so I intend to keep strengthening my emotional defenses. If for no other reason, I’m running out of isolated places to cry! ;)

Keep believing in the positive!


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