Posted in Blog

Friday Favs: Netflix’s Middleditch and Schwartz

I haven’t been writing for the blog much lately with the pandemic’s shelter-in-place order in effect, mainly because it’s hard to find the time (or more so the energy) to write when I’m dual-hatting my career and homeschooling two little kids. I’m literally on the run from 6am when my alarm goes off so I can log into work before everyone else wakes up to 8pm when the kids are in bed. Then, I’m toast and out of power. Sometimes I muster up the energy for additional work after tucking the kids in, but it’s low-key items….trying to place online orders, catching up on the kids’ school emails (never ending!), getting organized for the next day, etc.

My husband understands our need to reset and unwind on the regular though, and he found this great Netflix special for us this week that I loved. I was in tears laughing through Middleditch and Schwartz, a Netflix comedy special featuring Thomas Middleditch (best known for his role in Silicon Valley) and Ben Schwartz (from Parks and Rec and the voice of Sonic).

It’s an improv special showing the pair onstage delivering their performance to a theatre full of people (soooo 2019). There is no script. Middleditch and Schwartz walk onstage, provide a quick intro, and then ask the audience for a prompt based on an event coming up. They pick a random person’s suggestion from the audience, have a few minute discussion with them about the scenario, and then start the skit.

Middleditch and Schwartz play everyone and switch roles regularly. It’s hilarious to see the diversity of the characters, the well-crafted jokes they build in real time, and the confusion that mounts as they add people to the scene. My only gripe is that only three episodes were released.

If you need a break from the 24/7 news cycle or just a good laugh, check it out and let me know what you think.

Photo by Claire P on Unsplash

Posted in Blog

Managing Stress

My work life has been more stressful than normal lately, and I’d be remiss in not acknowledging it here. Working in a project-based world means that sometimes multiple projects surge at once, each simultaneously desiring my attention. All project issues seem to run through me, and many feel like a fire that must be immediately addressed. I recognize that I have a complex about being a bottleneck for getting work done. I like to move ASAP on items others are waiting on from me, adding to my stress level.

The past two weeks in particular have been crazy at work. So many projects need my time, and I’ve been facilitating meetings and preparing for a business trip during normal working hours. I’m a part-time employee, but my projects have needed full-time hours lately. There’s no way I’m getting work done while the kids are awake (and I don’t want to cut into my family time with them anyway). So, I’ve been getting up early and/or staying up late to finish to-do items. I’m exhausted.

How do I manage the stress? Well, it depends on the day, and I’m still not always good at it. Here’s what I’ve found to be the most successful for me.

Talk It Out

Sometimes I just need to vent and let it all out. I need to release the pressure valve and share my stress. My poor husband has been the brunt of it lately. The sweet man wants to help me solve my problems and make the stress go away, which is incredibly kind. My mother is also a Godsend. She listens to my ranting whenever I need it, and it’s very much appreciated. I always feel a bit better just talking about what’s bothering me. It requires me to put the stress into words and ultimately organize my thinking on the issue. Sometimes it leads me to seeing a way out all on my own.

Get Perspective

What has usually helped me is to stop and look out my window. When I do, I see life outside my four walls. My problem doesn’t seem that great when I realize there are others out there with likely more significant challenges than whatever I’m encountering.

I remember doing this a lot at my college library that sat upon a hill overlooking the campus and town. I would be stressing about some test or project, then look up and see people walking around outside the size of ants. They each had their own issues and problems going on too outside of me. If I could think about others and imagine them navigating their lives well (e.g., managing a chronic illness, battling addiction, deciding how to come out as LBGTQ), my stress level would calibrate. If others can handle their stress with grace, so can I.

Also, in most cases, my issue that was causing me stress would not really matter in the grand scheme of things. It’s not until I stopped and gained perspective that I would see this.

Acknowledge the Good

My job is demanding and sometimes high stress. I don’t have slow days at the office. I’ve never been watching the clock waiting for the day to end. I’m always too busy. Every half-hour of my time is being billed to my clients, so I’m focused and dedicated to make those charges worthwhile.

But, when I step back and think about it. My job has several perks.

  • I work from home whenever I want (i.e., every day).
  • I have flexibility on when I work, as long as I get my work done well and on time. If I want to take a date lunch with my husband during his lunch hour, I can. If I want to volunteer at my son’s school for the afternoon, I can. No big deal.
  • I am well compensated.
  • The work itself of creating learning products for clients is of reasonably difficulty and interesting.
  • I have some really great team members and now friends I work with.

And, on top of my good career, I have a wonderful family. I have two adorable kids who are tons of fun, our senior pup, and a strong marriage to my middle-school sweetheart (!!). I have much to be thankful for.

Okay, I feel better having written this post. Perhaps it, in and of itself, served as a mindfulness exercise. I may need to re-read it each morning as I head into a long workweek of travel and full-day workshops.

Here’s to a reduced-stress workweek!

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash