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

Home Is Where My Computer Is

Wherever your computer goes, is where your home is.

Home is where the computer is.

What does the idea of home mean to you?

I’ve been living in San Francisco for nearly 6 years. During that time, I’ve lived in 5 different neighborhoods, each with its own flavor and personality. Renting and sharing apartments with roommates has been a shift in my home life. When you’re renting, you might be taking a chance on the home dynamic that you live in.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m living in someone else’s space; other apartments I’ve lived in have truly felt like my own.

Additionally, frequent work travel has meant that I’m often not home at my apartment in San Francisco.

Where does my sense of home come from?

It’s no longer a question of having most of my possessions and the four walls of a building around me. Instead, home is where my computer is.

A computer isn’t just a piece of hardware: it’s a portal to the outside world, a connector and vital toolbox which allows you to access vast amounts of knowledge, entertainment and communication channels. From email, to Skype, to YouTube and synced Evernote notes, wherever my computer goes, that is where my (temporary) home is.

What does home mean to you?

Confidence: The Top 3 Things To Focus On

How do you appear confident on the outside even if you are not feelin’ it on the inside?

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network in San Francisco recently held an event featuring Lisa Rowland, a consultant with SpeechSkills to give a 2 hour primer called, “The Credibility Code.” In these 2 hours, Lisa shared tips and tricks to appear confident through adjusting body language.

Lisa Rowland of SpeechSkills speaks to a crowd.

Lisa Rowland of SpeechSkills speaking to the audience.

Here are Lisa’s top 3 things to focus on for increasing how confident you appear:

  • Posture (Stand up straight, keep your head level and point your nose directly at your listener)
  • Voice (Articulate clearly, keep your pacing relaxed, speak with optimal volume – not too loud or too soft, though most of us could stand to speak a bit louder)
  • Eye contact (Hold eye contact for 3 – 5 seconds per person when speaking to a group of people and keep your attention forward)

The workshop was great; I came out of it being more aware of the way I hold myself and the way that I communicate others. I’ve realized as well that I may have habits that take away my credibility and make me appear less confident, even when I am feeling confident internally, and have been able to correct some of these.

Lisa Rowland

Lisa Rowland of SpeechSkills – thanks Lisa!

Part of being a working professional, in any industry, includes instilling a sense of trust and authority into the clients or stakeholders that you work with. Whether you’re an optometrist, sales person, sailor or line cook, confidence is key.

A huge thank you to YNPN and Lisa Rowland for making this happen.

What have you learned about confidence in your life? Are there any tricks you’ve learned to make you appear (and maybe even feel) more confident? 

Let me know if you notice any difference in the way people perceive you with any of the tips above. 



Jen Burstedt

Fancy Technical Footwork – Comments Work Again

After some troubleshooting on the backend with my hosting provider, DreamHost, I am once again able to view comments.

Today’s blog post is a little short – some personal goings-on in my life have made it such that I’m going a few too many places at once. But, I’m adjusting and figuring out what is most important, and soon enough, everything will be in order again.



Jen Burstedt

Travel Story: The Fan – London, 2011

Sometimes the most hilarious memories come from ordinary events in an unexpected place or time.

I had traveled to southern France for a work conference a few years ago. As part of this trip, I was able to spend a few days in our company’s London office. In addition, because I had friends in London, I made it a point to stay the weekend as well in order to spend time with them.

Imperial War Museums

Outside of the Imperial War Museum in London – one of my touristy stops while in London.

My two English friends, a wonderful young woman (G) and a great guy (N), had been close friends my final year of college, where they were studying for their year abroad. Skype and Facebook had allowed us to keep in touch, and so when I had this opportunity to be in London, I jumped at the chance and made sure that I had free time during a weekend when the two of them would not be working.

During the weekend I spent with my friends, we relaxed and were able to simply do everyday weekend activities – which was an absolute joy to me, since I was already exhausted from the long flight across the pond.

On the Saturday morning of my stay, N’s mom had organized a raffle and rummage sale through her church, so we were invited to check out the sale.

My friends and I decided to buy tickets for the raffle, as it was a good cause, even if we didn’t win. We put in our 1 quid to pay for the raffle… Lo and behold, an hour later, when raffle winners were being announced, it turns out that we each had won something.

Guess what I won? Something that I definitely would not be able to take in my (already over-stuffed) suitcase back to America with me?

A desktop fan. Though I would not be needing it (or ever using it), it provided a great memory and laugh every time I think about it.

Jen and the desk fan.

A photo of me and the fan that I won.

Have you ever gotten a gift or won a prize that was so inappropriate or useless for you that it was hilarious?


Jen Burstedt

Proudly powered by WordPress
Theme: Esquire by Matthew Buchanan.