Monday, April 30, 2012

Crafty Thinking with Mary on Uncrafty

You've been waiting patiently for the promised crafting to commence on Crafts for the Uncrafty.  Welcome to Mary's first post:  Stay tuned for more from Mary this week.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Wonderful World of Resume/CV Writing

Jess gets help from Friend and Freelancer Margaret Lily Andres 

So, now that I’ve finished ranting about living your dream, let’s talk about convincing other people to take that chance on you.

When it comes to writing resumes and cover letters, I generally have nothing nice to say.  I can write a bio for a friend in a matter of minutes, but I stink at selling myself.  And that is exactly what you have to do when you are job hunting.  That employer is going to review your information while asking themselves, “Why should I hire this person?”  It is important that you give them that answer as soon as you can (thus the cover letter).  And how you give it will likely depend on the industry you’re in.

Having recently been in the field of clerical law enforcement, my advice to you, when looking for a government-type job, is to keep things simple and professional.  Yes, that may translate to boring for you, but my experience is that both sworn and non-sworn in the public sector prefer bullet points to prose.

However, if you’re looking for a job in the private sector, my dear friend Margaret Lily Andres has a thing or two to say about it.  Margaret is a freelance motion picture editor (check out the embedded Vimeo videos in this post for some of her work), based in Portland, who was kind enough to take a moment out of her hectic schedule to help me reestablish myself in the private sector.  Working freelance, she has to be very much on her toes and present not only an excellent resume, but a cover letter that will show her sparkling personality as well as her interest in the business.

During the course of her intervening and trying to save me from making myself un-hirable, Margaret managed to help me get my cover letter down to bare bones while keeping it relevant and interesting.  The first thing she pointed out to me was my over-explanation of why I’m interested in making a career change.  When you’re writing this type of letter you want to give them reasons to hire you – this does not mean that you have to explain yourself or justify where you’ve been.  In fact, as Margaret pointed out to me, giving too much information could lead your possible future employer to think that you are going to be high-maintenance and no one wants to hire someone who is going to create problems for their work team.    
“Describe what you did and what makes you desirable, instead of giving too much information.”  
As someone who spends a lot of time writing, it was hard to see for myself that I had done exactly that.  So even though I’m now writing something to submit to companies in the private sector, I still need to keep it simple and straightforward – I just need to add a dash of my personality and wit, when appropriate. 

“Writing a resume and cover letter totally suck, but you do get better at it. I am constantly re-writing and improving my cover letter and resume, changing up the style. I know my best cover letters are the ones that are personal. If I really like the company and what they do resonates with me, then I find it is easy to write about who I am and why I would be a really great person to consider for their company.

I think the biggest and greatest thing to have, when looking for a job, is confidence and support.  I remind myself to be brave enough to go for it and then, if I totally sink, at least I know that I have someone supportive to hang out with afterwards.”  

As far as your resume goes, make sure you tailor each resume to each company or agency/industry that you apply to.  The biggest problem with my resume is that, to get it to fit on one page, I compacted the heck out of it.  The end result looks a bit messy and isn't fun to read.  So, with Margaret's assistance, I'm learning about the layout - after looking at my resume, she advised me to make one column for my dates of employment to make everything line up better.  There are dozens of layout examples you can search for online, find one that works for you: your personality, and the job you're interested in. 

Another tip from Margaret:  List the relationships of your professional references (co-worker, supervisor, manager, etc.), but not your personal references (if they're listed as personal references, then it's already implied that they're your friends).  All of this may seem like common sense, but keeping it in mind when you're writing it out (and, if you're like me, getting frustrated with it) isn't always easy.  Things that you feel you should know better about may go by the wayside.  Do yourself a favor.  Have the confidence to write about how great you'll be at the job of your choosing, then ask someone from your support system to edit the heck out of it for you.  Best of luck!

Herb Time on The Black Thumb

A post for you, on The Black Thumb, with no plan and lots of, most likely, dying plants.  So much awaits you!

Who Do You Want To Be?

It’s not just an Oingo Boingo song – it’s a question many of us ask ourselves over and over again throughout life. 

Some of us envy those folks who figured everything out when they were still kids, but even they sometimes discover an entirely different path later in life.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that getting paid is not the sole function of work.  You will hear dozens of people throughout your life say that work is not supposed to be something you love.  That your passion should be kept as a hobby so that you can thoroughly enjoy it, no pressure. 

Will it change the way you feel about, say, baking if you do it for a living?  Yes, it won’t be that thing you just do when you feel like it and for only your own enjoyment.  But will you honestly regret doing something that you are both passionate about and good at for the rest of your life?  Maybe that makes a difference you, maybe it doesn’t.  In my experience, if I don’t like what I’m doing, all the money in the world isn’t going to make a difference.    

If you are thinking of finding a new career, then consider this.  Is it going to be easy?  Not at the beginning, no .  But take a look around you and ask yourself how many people in your life are doing jobs that they really love.  Work that may frustrate and stress them out sometimes, but that they still look forward to on all those other days.  Why shouldn’t you have a job that you personally find meaningful and rewarding?  And don’t let anyone define that for you. 

If your perfect job is working the sales floor in retail, maybe for a company you have long admired, then go for it.  If your perfect job is working as a clerk in what other people think is a boring environment, it doesn’t really matter what they think.  And, hey, if you decide to give up your huge government salary because you’ve decided that the stress isn’t worth it and you’ve decided to take up farming, you are far from the first person to have done so – in fact, in the DC area you are in good company.  

The idea that not everybody can live their dream is a sad, oppressive one (and likely limited by what many people consider a worthy dream).  Don’t let other people’s small ideas of how the world should work keep you down.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lost in Bluemont on Lost in DC

March 2012 came and went with lots of photos taken, but none edited or written about.  I'm playing catch up over at Lost in DC and we're starting with the village of Bluemont in Virginia.

This One's for the Californians

May I live vicariously through you, my California friends?  Excellent.  Go to the Women of the Vine - Grand Tasting at Westin Verasa Napa on Friday, May 4th from 5-7pm for a complimentary tasting and tapas.  Honig's winemaker, Kristin Belair, will be there along with many other women of wine from the Napa Valley.

If you are interested in attending, go here.  If you do attend, tell me all about it later.

You can learn a little about Honig's commitment to sustainability from Kristin here:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Solid Beauty on The Thinnest Skin

High tail on over to The Thinnest Skin for an adventure in solid skincare products - great for traveling, less packaging, longer lasting beauty.  Find it here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Pins in the Mix

For you pinners out there, we created a LostGirls Music board on Pinterest to go with our aStore's Music Mix.  Megan and I found as many YouTube videos (live and official videos, maybe a fan one here and there when nothing else was available) as we could from our list so that you can hear and see for yourselves.  If you're not on Pinterest, you can still look up the videos on YouTube or listen to samples of the music on by clicking on the links on the Store tab.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Setting the Bar on The Thinnest Skin

Before the soap reviews begin, Jess attempts to argue herself out of her dislike of bar soap on The Thinnest Skin.

Earth Day, Picture Day

Spring in Virginia is a pretty amazing, flowery sort of thing.  I’ve been taking pictures, just waiting for Earth Day, for the last month or so.  I hope you enjoy this collection, even if you don’t live anywhere near DC.

So Into You

We're so into you that we made you a mix of some of our favorite songs and, blushingly, hand it over to you now before running quickly away.  Just be glad we didn't take it further

Friday, April 20, 2012

Local Foodie Lit on Lost in DC

It's officially Saturday, even though I haven't gone to bed yet...which I'm doing right now.  If you're local to the DC area, you just like reading about it or you want to see another pretty picture of focaccia, check out our post on a couple of great Virginia magazines that center on sustainable agriculture (eating locally, seasonally, etc.) right here.

LostGirls Amazon aStore for Music

We have a new (Megan inspired) music section in our aStore.  I just threw it together, so consider it a work in progress until Meg gets her hands on it.  If you've been hearing Gotye's Somebody That I Used to Know (feat. Kimbra) and you still haven't bought it, the song and album are both listed there, as well as my favorite Kimbra song, Settle Down (the EP includes the video, which I've watched so many times, I've lost count). 


Just a wee followup to Stumbling is Still Moving Forward:

I have found that when you do decide to finally take the plunge and make a drastic change in your life, should you be doubting yourself or your decision shortly thereafter, the universe has a way of letting you know that you need to shut that doubt down.  My car broke down yesterday morning, though I couldn't have broken down in a lovelier place.  Still, I had a lot of worries and this didn't help.  But, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for myself, I sat down at the auto repair shop to write and noticed they had the April issue of Health Magazine (which I don't usually read, since I'm not healthy).  I got some writing done on the most recent Black Thumb post, then flipped through Health and came upon the article pictured to the right.  Okay, I get it.

Orchids n Herbs on Black Thumb

Over at The Black Thumb, we're talking about orchid care and herbs gone by.  If you are a beginner gardener or you're thinking of buying some orchids, let us convince you that with a few helpful tips you really can avoid killing them.  No promises on getting a second bloom, we're still working on that.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Promises on Black Thumb

As if it weren't bad enough that I'm a plant slayer, I've also been neglecting my plant site.  So here is a promise, from me to you...  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New on LostGirls

Wander on over to our newest LostGirls tab, the Spring Want List.  All items listed are available in our aStore under the Spring Want List category.  We're just trying this on for size, so if you think it's a keeper, want to see some different items (maybe each month) or you want every LostGirls site to have a category page like this, contact us and let us know or leave a comment on this post!

Stumbling is Still Moving Forward

Cherry Blossoms for Adrianna
Change, for most people, is scary.  It is often difficult, in the moment, to see any good that comes from it.  When it has just happened, when you’re living in the aftermath and cleaning up the mess, it is really hard to paste a smile on your face and tell yourself that it’s just great.  Usually it’s long down the road that you realize a catastrophe was a blessing in disguise because it led you to something even better. 

Even when change is completely up to you, there are those heart-racing moments.  You may worry that you’re not doing it right.  Or wonder if you will regret leaving something or someone behind.  Who hasn’t left a relationship and had at least some doubts as to whether or not you were making the right decision?  Will you miss that person?  Will you regret it later?  Will it be hard seeing them with someone else?  But then you also have to consider that waiting until things get worse isn’t exactly a great option.

Change, with or without your having put it in motion, can be hard.  But the hardest thing you’ll ever do is trying to keep change at bay.  The less you welcome it, the more it will overwhelm you.  And fighting it, tooth and nail, usually just hurts you more.  Change is inevitable.  Take a deep breath.

From Small Scale to Big Heavy

Small changes tend to be easy to make.  Changing your daily routine to include more exercise or switching from that latte you order every morning to a nice black tea to cut down your caffeine intake.  Whether slightly painful or slightly joyous, they are a normal part of life.

Big changes tend to be more painful.  In most cases you have to carefully balance the pros and cons, check that your motivation is clear and jump, hoping that the net will catch you.  If you have any doubts or fears, you could end up doing this mental balancing for days, weeks, maybe even months – always fearing that leap.  It is, indeed, a leap of faith.  And the truth is that there is a chance that the net may not be there.  You may have to get up off the ground, dust yourself off, and try again. 

“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.” -Bikram Choudhury

The Art of Reinvention

Ah yes, full scale reinvention.  At once terrifying and so terribly exciting, so energizing, invigorating, that while you’re considering it you’re thinking that you must be crazy and you’re laughing maniacally all the way.  Reinvention is not just about finding your  place, your people, your path in life.  It’s about finding yourself.  And about accepting who you really are and living every day like you mean it.  

Let me say again how utterly terrifying it is to some of us to live as both a new version of ourselves (which is to say, new to others) and also the person who we know has been there all along.

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” –A.A. Milne