Everyday Exploration: Adventures Near and Far

“Traveling in the company of those we love is home in motion.”

Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro Review (Sponsored)

When I first started Jaybird, it was this Leigh Hunt quote that inspired me. I was about to finish my second year of AmeriCorps, and I was eager to move into the city, start a new job, and save for my travel fund.

As I made a home in the city, I found that experiences closer to home were the ones I could enjoy with friends and family: a painting class, a day trip to a brewery, a meal at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant. I started to pursue more solo hobbies, too: giving yoga a second chance, learning how to knit, and of course, blogging.

My idea of exploration became more focused on living fully every day than on travel alone. I wanted to write a blog for people who love learning, who celebrate their local communities, and who occasionally take a trip somewhere new, too. For people like this:

The Everyday Explorer: someone who seeks out new experiences, always striving to make daily life a bit more interesting. Someone who pursues curiosity, opportunity, and growth. Someone who says “yes!” to life.

Today I’m sharing five ways to find adventure in everyday life and my experience planning and sharing ideas with the Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro. I thought Lenovo’s tagline, for those who do, was a perfect reminder to take action–today.

Yoga with the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro

1. Make your home a place for learning.

Budget doesn’t matter when you can access books, videos, virtual tours, and tutorials from anywhere in the world. The YOGA Tablet 2 Pro’s large screen is great for watching videos, and I’ve used its built-in projector to project yoga “classes” onto my living room wall. Though I can’t quite twist myself into a pretzel, my flexibility is definitely improving with practice.

The Chicago Skyline from Belmont Harbor

2. Learn more about your town.

I love playing local tourist: admiring the Chicago skyline, waving at my reflection in The Bean, and strolling down Michigan Avenue (ideally early in the morning, before the real tourists wake up). What makes every landmark more interesting is learning a few fun facts–for example, did you know the Bean weighs 110 tons? Thanks, CityofChicago.org! The YOGA Tablet 2 Pro’s touchscreen makes it easy to look up new destinations, then quickly toggle to another Android app to send ideas to a friend, tweet a link, or make a reservation.

The Everyday Explorer: How I Use the Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro (Sponsored)

3. Don’t be afraid to explore the unknown.

I hemmed and hawed before buying my tickets to Europe, but I am so, so glad I have something big to look forward to this summer. Planning this trip with friends a few states away is easy when we can add ideas and comments to a shared list…and when I can join planning meetings via video chat from my couch, bed, desk, or even a coffee shop.

Cooking with the Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro Kitchen

4. Add some flavor to your daily meals.

Cooking is another way to experience different cultures at home, and I always love encountering recipes with new-to-me ingredients. I often have a recipe pulled up on my laptop while I’m cooking, but it’s tough to protect the keyboard and have a long charging cord trailing over the counter. The Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro is actually designed to be used at home, and its sturdy kickstand keeps recipes easily visible. The battery lasts for 15 hours of use–more than enough time to make tagine or fold potstickers, and longer than other tablets.

The Everyday Explorer: How I Use the Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro

5. Share your experiences with friends and family.

If they can’t be there in person, you can use social media or video chat. If they can, gather the whole gang for a photo slideshow while you cuddle and snack. Aren’t adventures better shared?

Fun fact: Ashton Kutcher is Lenovo’s product engineer, and despite his long career, I’ll always think of him as Kelso in That 70s Show. Maybe that era inspired the projector–a party-friendly feature using cloud storage and streaming video instead of 1970s slide carousels. You can watch a Day in the Life of Ashton Kutcher’s Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro and watch Ashton’s focus group videos, where he interviews everyone from senior citizens to entrepreneurs about their experience with the tablet.

Curious about the adventures you could have with Lenovo? Check out the Lenovo Trend Hub to see how 50 bloggers use their YOGA Tablet 2 Pro or Yoga 3 Pro, and to enter a giveway for the chance to try your own!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

One Small Thing: Getting Started with A New Series

When you spend a lot of time online, you come across a lot of advice: productivity tips, how to’s, personal journeys, self-help articles, and more. It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of reading article after article, spending hours learning about ways to improve without taking a single action. Overly industrious information-gathering is a common form of procrastination, and one that often masks the truth: that you’re really feeling indecisive, unprepared, or even afraid to move forward.

No one needs all 35 Productivity Tips or 50+ Practices for a Healthier Life. You need one idea that works really, really well for you. After listening to The One Thing, an episode of The Lively Show featuring Jay Papasan, I had an idea for a new series that I’m excited to share with you today.

One Small Thing Series | Actionable Ideas to Improve Your Life

One Small Thing

Because sometimes one small thing is all it takes: to enjoy a happier commute, to keep your home clean, to communicate with friends. This series isn’t about the big dreams or step-by-step projects. It’s about actionable ideas that make one really specific area of your life better–and not in a way that takes hours of research. In each post, I’ll share one simple action, idea, or thing that can improve your life in a small but significant way.

Want a taste? The first few posts in the One Small Thing series will include things that have helped me:

  • Have a stress-free tax season (hallelujah!)
  • Keep a cleaner kitchen
  • Manage projects across a team
  • Save important memories while reducing digital and physical clutter
  • Read and enjoy more books than ever

What about you?

Any time I’ve asked for advice or opened up about something I’m less-than-great at, you all have chimed in with helpful suggestions…I’ve learned a lot of “one small things” over time! If you’re interested in contributing a short blog post about one action, idea, or widget that makes your life easier, send me an email at alicia (at) jaybirdblog (dot) com. I’m looking forward to sharing and learning in community.

Feeling Stuck: Defining and Combating Burnout

We started the week with a post about fresh starts, but what if you’re in the opposite situation? Burnout can happen in any profession  or stage of life, and it’s important to know how to identify and combat it so you can wake up excited every day. If you’re feeling stuck, I hope you’ll get something positive out of this guest post by Michelle Manno, a community-builder and educator. Thanks, Michelle, for contributing to Jaybird!

Feeling Stuck: Defining & Combating Burnout | Michelle Manno for Jaybird

“Smarts, speed, and a sense of humor, of course, do not transcend the timeless forces of burnout.” That advice was offered by Spencer Kornhaber, writer for The Atlantic, in response to the news of Zayn Malik’s departure from One Direction. While celebrities are no stranger to burnout (see: Britney Spears circa 2007), the notion that they too are incapable of dealing with stress means that we’re not alone when feeling stuck.

We’ve all experienced feelings of burnout—being physically and emotionally tired after doing a difficult job for a long time, according to Merriam-Webster—in some capacity. Whether professionally, personally or academically, we all have something that we’re innately passionate about, and it is challenging to feel disconnected.

What Does Professional Burnout Mean?

“ I do not have a voice for myself.”

“Is this what I should be doing with my life?”

“I have forgotten what I love.”

“I can’t make the change I thought I could.”

“Why am I doing this?” 

Teachers in particular are familiar with burnout: 50 percent of teachers leave education within five years. While we’ve all heard that statistic, is it understood? Hudson Baird and Reagan Pugh addressed these questions in their presentation “Stuck: When Students and Teachers Need Inspiration” at this year’s SXSWedu. They spoke about burnout as a way we can become “stuck,” a feeling that is universal to all professions, not just teachers.

This switch from burnout to stuck is important because it signifies a state of mind that we can change. We can become unstuck. So, how do you get unstuck? How do you remember what you love?

Defining and Combating Burnout: How to Get Unstuck

1. Give your passwords an emotional punch.

Alicia’s note: this one might sound familiar–it’s great for boosting confidence, too!

As a way to combat burnout and sprinkle positive reminders throughout your day, try changing commonly-used passwords to actionable reminders.

The Secret Life of Passwords,” a recent article from The New York Times by Ian Urbina, examined how passwords have the power to do much more than unlock our accounts. Urbina’s article spoke to the idea of keepsake passwords, small reminders that not only provide access into your accounts, but also serve as a consistent reminder of something positive, funny or encouraging. Examples from Urbina’s article include “Ww$$do” for What Would Sheryl Sandberg Do; “Odessa” for the city where a woman’s father was born; or “16:59” for a woman’s target time for the 5,000 meter race.

2. Set clear boundaries.

Separate your homespace from your workplace, regardless of profession. 

Whether you’re a teacher or office administrator, work from home or have your own office, it’s important to be able to clearly define when (and where) your workday begins and ends.

If you work from home, designate a specific part of your home that you use strictly for work purposes.  Full-time blogger Carly Heitlinger (College Prepster) showed how her apartment and home office are organized to create a distinction between workplace and living space in her Apartment Tour.

If you don’t work from home, have plans in place that allow you to leave work at work. Small things like not answering work-related emails after 7 p.m. are a great place to start. Also, having a routine when you get home is a great way to make that transition: cook dinner, take that yoga class, read your favorite book, binge watch your favorite new show on Netflix. Focusing on a specific habit or routine is a great way to signal to your body and brain that it’s time to relax.

3. Take time to unplug.

Give yourself some literal peace of mind by taking a mental brain break.

This year’s SXSWedu featured a closing keynote by Goldie Hawn (yes, that Goldie Hawn), founder of The Hawn Foundation, who spoke to the overall importance of social and emotional learning. Hawn noted that mindfulness is an important tool for the social, emotional, and mental health of all children — but what we call mindfulness, she calls “brain breaks.”

Brain breaks are just brief moments of time where we step back, reflect, and take a mini time out from our outside stressors. How can you use brain breaks to beat burnout? Unplug. Just like the strategy of not answering work-related emails after a certain time, make a concerted effort to unplug for a few hours each day. Impose a rule in your apartment, house, or just for yourself to limit screen time after 8pm. Spend a week away from your smartphone or social media. Take a long walk or bike ride and leave your phone at home. By unplugging from technology, if only for a few hours, you are able to reconnect with yourself, to take a brain break, and come back to center.

Feeling stressed? Find solace in something silly, like a Ryan Gosling meme.

4. Find solace in Ryan Gosling.

(Or the other Internet meme of your choosing.) Memes, .gifs and other internet gems are great examples of how humor, and the internet in general, are great tools for combating stress. 

So stop, take a deep breath and look around at the positive things your life has to offer. Take those 10 minutes to  call your best friend, or treat yourself to breakfast, or just take a long hot shower. Remind yourself of strategies, and Ryan Gosling, that are in place to help you maintain that healthy balance between work and life.

Michelle MannoTeacher turned storyteller, Michelle uses digital media and community building to change how we talk about teacher education. She is the Community Manager for Teach.com, a resource for current and aspiring educators, made in partnership with the USC Rossier Online. Outside of education, her interests include yoga, film photography, and Roseanne marathons. Connect with her on Twitter @michellermanno.