Before My Birthday (BMB) 2015

Birthdays can be a great time to celebrate. For me, my last birthday in early May spurred me to create a list of things that I want to accomplish before I reach my next birthday. I’ve decided to create a sizable of things that I’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet prioritized. Now that they’re on the list, I’m going to find time to accomplish them.

Of course, I have spent about a month of time to create this list. Ambitiously starting the project a week before my birthday, I expected that I would be able to finish creating the list. But creating a list of actual significance took on a life of its own, and I took time to organize and categorize the types of challenges I will be undertaking. You don’t think I would go about something like this lightly?!

So, I started with Easy, Medium and Hard challenges, and categorized them as follows:

  • Culture/Fun
  • Health
  • Career

I’m working to quantify success in each of the categories; for some of the more complex challenges, success is trickier to define but it can be done.

Additionally, I was inspired by a some of these awesome websites:

30 Before 30 Project's website

The 30 Before 30 Project, which inspired me to start my own challenge.

In any case, my list is just about finalized. I’ve already been able to tick off a few (which has been pretty awesome) so we’ll see what kind of crazy journey I embark on while accomplishing the rest of them.

Is this something that anyone else is interested in? I’m curious to know if it’s just a certain list-obsessed segment of people that gravitates towards activities like this….

Jen Burstedt

I’m Gonna Run A Marathon…

One of my bucket list goals is to run a marathon in my life. After much pondering and deliberation, I realized that running a marathon at this point in my life would be a great idea: I can continue my current half marathon training in the months leading up to my planned August vacation, take a 1 – 2 week break, and then come back to training in full force.

I decided that running a marathon is something that I want to do before my next birthday – and the California International Marathon in Sacramento this coming December gives me just enough time to train.

Below is my race confirmation – non-refundable and no exchanges allowed.

I’m going to run a marathon!


My race confirmation for the California International Marathon, taking place December 7, 2014.

The Art of Delivering Bad News Sooner (Rather Than Later)

I had some water issues last week  – burst pipes within my building had meant there were issues with my water and for 2 days, water in our building did not work properly. I phoned to the property management company the day after the issue first start and was told that the situation was being worked on. In two days, the whole thing was resolved, and clear, clean water once again flowed normally through my faucets. 

I’m grateful for the return to normalcy, as it is difficult to live without water. 

This experience, though, is a good reminder in how important proactive communication is. In maintaining relationship within the world of business as well as at work, with friends or family, proactively bringing up issues before they become problems is vital to keeping trust and patience. Without this type of communication, feelings of frustration, anger, confusion arise from a place of fear and unknown – as what I had experienced in having no idea what was happening with my apartment’s water supply or how long the situation would last.

By contrast, a past experience that I had with American Express, reminded me the benefit of proactive communication – even in the face of bad news.

My credit card had been compromised – someone had stolen my credit card information and decided to go on a spending spree at a distant Home Depot, a destination that I don’t often frequent. Within 15 minutes of the purchase, I had received a phone call from a representative asking if the purchase was mine. When I confirmed that it wasn’t, the representative let me know my card had been compromised and I would receive a new one soon. 

How did this situation differ from my experience with the burst pipes at my apartment?:

  • I knew the bad news quickly
  • I knew that someone was working on a solution
  • I knew what that solution was and approximately when the issue would be resolved (i.e. I was told when I would receive my new credit card)

Proactive communication – even when delivering bad news – is so much more easily accepted than late communication. As a marketing and communications professional, this is an important professional and personal lesson to reinforce.


Jen Burstedt

Burst Pipes & Life Without Water

As a city-dweller, or even in my former life as a suburbanite, I didn’t think too much about drought. In my memory, the worst thing that drought ever mean was taking shorter showers and having my parents water the front lawn less. I had never experienced a faucet that wouldn’t return clean, potable water. (I realize in writing this that I’m part of a lucky minority of this world that can say these things.)


Clean, cool water from Lake Tahoe – taken summer 2013.

Until moving to my apartment in the Tenderloin.

Wednesday morning: the first time that I ever turned water out of a kitchen sink, made and drank a cup of coffee… and then looked at my glass kettle sitting on the stove and realized that the water was an sickly, unnatural shade of yellow.

I felt queasy – more from the anticipation of some kind of poisoning due to contaminated water more than anything. I then proceeded to rush off to work and forgot about the whole incident until about 8 hours later, when I was reminded of the situation.

“What if I drank contaminated water?” The thought flashed through my mind, but it was already 8 hours later; most reactions to drinking contaminated water would happen more quickly than that, seems to be the common consensus.

Nothing happened, so I guess the water was okay.

I texted one of my neighbors, who lives on the same floor as I do, to see what her situation was. She reported that black water had come out of her faucets.

I called in the day after to the property management company to see what was going on. Apparently, some emergency where a pipe had burst happened.

Were residents informed? No.

In the age of email, text and other types of communication, at what point does a company have an obligation to communicate to its tenants (consumers) the potentially danger problems it is having?

Luckily, I have a network of family and friends in the area, so if I have to avoid sleeping at my apartment in order to be able to access water, I can easily do so. But, not everyone has this ability, and at this point, I don’t even know how long it will be until everything is back to normal.

As a new resident to the Tenderloin – the party of the city that I once shied away from and thought that I would never live in, I’m starting to see a different side of life.



Jen Burstedt

Adversity: A Good Thing?

Is it the successes in your life that define you?

The times that you won, got ahead and were victorious?

When did you grow the most — when everything went according to plan, or when things went south and you persevered through the storm?

Salkantay Trail - Snow Capped

Hiking 50 miles to Machu Picchu on the Salkantay Trail was one of the most difficult things I’ve done. Here we are during the hike, greeting unexpected September snowfall as we stand near the highest point of the day.


Tim Ferriss, in the Four Hour Work Week, says, “Adversity doesn’t built character; it reveals it.” When the going gets tough, how you react shows who you really are.

For me, going through multiple transitions in the past year has made me reflect. I’ve gone down a path that would have never had happened if I never changed jobs or hadn’t had that big breakup. The transition of breakups, new jobs, various roommates and living situations has given me the opportunity to experience a variety of situations and people.

It has meant that have been able to feel discomfort, loneliness and sadness – therefore prompting me to nurture my relationships with family and friends. I’ve confronted the reality of what it means to be single and broken up with. With these experiences, in the search to regain comfort, belonging and happiness,  I have started to listen and acknowledge more instinctively what I want and what makes me happy.

On a related note, an article by David Brooks entitled “What Suffering Does” via the New York Times explores how suffering affects an individual and what the right response to it is.

What is your adversity revealing about you?

How has it shaped you to be the person you are today?


Jen Burstedt

Let’s Talk About Death

Or, more precisely, let’s talk about life before we encounter death.

I work in healthcare and recently attended the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California‘s annual conference on the topic of hospice and palliative care in Newport Beach. The conference brought together clinical types (physicians, nurses and other patient facing staff) and non-clinical types (hospital administrators, marketing and communications individuals like myself, volunteers and members of the public), bringing together a community of experts to learn and discuss advancements and changes in the fields of palliative and hospice care.

CCCC logo

Coalition for Compassionate Care of California, the organization which hosts an annual conference on palliative and hospice care.

While the conversations we had revolved around palliative care – an area of healthcare focused on relieving patients’ pain – and hospice care – a slightly different part of healthcare revolving around relieving pain during the end-of-life or during a terminal illness, some of the topics and speakers drew our attention towards questions such as:

  • How often do we talk about death as a society, from a casual-dinner-conversation type of conversation?
  • How is it detrimental to our society to be so afraid to speak about death?

Many of us can get incredibly involved in financial planning for our future – from the time we obsess over our 401(k)s and retirement plans, to ensuring that we have the proper insurance – but thinking or planning about our death is often seen as too morbid or uncomfortable.

  • How can you make your final wishes known if you haven’t faced that fact that you might one day pass?
  • If we do so much around planning for birth, why do we not talk and plan as much around death?

Is death something that you feel comfortable talking about? Do you wish you could feel more comfortable in talking about it?


Jen Burstedt

New Beginnings & A New Home

I haven’t been as loyal as I should be to my 100 Day Blogging Challenge. Admittedly, I’ve completely ignored my blog and writing for more than a few days in a row – which has definitely shown me the value of why I should have a few blog posts in my back pocket in case I’m not able to write one day. But I digress.

In the past few weeks, a few things have been going on, including traveling to different parts of California for my job and searching for a new place to live.

As of April 26th, I will be living in a new part of San Francisco, exploring what can sometimes be argued as the Tendernob or the Tenderloin, depending on who you ask (see map #4). Called Lower Nob Hill on Google Maps, I will officially be able to settle down in one place for a year (at least) in this new part of town for space to call my own.

Tenderloin - Civic Center

A screenshot of San Francisco, near my new ‘hood.

It’s exciting and exhilarating – a top floor studio apartment which even has a dishwasher – a rare commodity as far as San Francisco apartments go. Looking forward to it – I may even post a few photos when I move in!

Who wants to come to my housewarming? 😉


Jen Burstedt

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