A new year

I’ve said a few times but it really is funny how quickly time goes by. I recently celebrated another year of life and I reflected on how much had changed since my last birthday. I brought in last year on a Caribbean cruise. I chilled on the beach in St. Maarten and took an excursion on St. John. This year was different. It was much more low key and consisted of great conversation, food and quality time with my boyfriend. I’m healthier than I was last year and overall I feel like I’m more balanced. My professional goals are still present but they are also better aligned with my personal goals and plan to improve my work life balance. This past year I traveled a little bit but most of my time was spent in the gym. I did a quick trip to Spain, continued doing some contract work and ultimately decided that I didn’t like the idea of a perpetual 40 hour work week. There’s been ups and downs but through it all I’m grateful for another year.

Staying Sane

This has been a rough year for millions of people and it can be hard to be optimistic and see the silver lining. A lot of people are working remotely and while it’s great in preventing infection, it can be incredibly isolating. Living and working in the same space just isn’t ideal. But here are some tips to help you cope with 2020 blues.

1. Get centered

I admit that I’ve never been one to recommend mindfulness but that’s changed since I started incorporating various practices into my life. Guided meditation, yoga, and visualization practices can do wonders for helping you to manage depression and anxiety. Many times anxiety tends to be centered around what has happened in the past or something you’re worried about in the future. Staying in the here and now can help to put things in perspective and to consciously gently challenge some of the negative automatic thoughts that precede anxiety.

2. Do something

While there’s nothing wrong with taking a break and having lazy days, there’s nothing like engaging in an activity that brings you joy. It could be an outdoor walk, trying out a new recipe, connecting with an old friend, or just sitting comfortably with an adult coloring book. Make it a priority to do three things every week that bring you joy. You’ll find that it will help you with managing stress and adjusting to change.

3. Take a break

Working remotely can mean that you don’t take as much time off work as you did before. Don’t neglect to take a vacation. Even if it’s just a staycation. PTO is available for a reason and while you might be tempted to save it all up until you can travel again, consider taking a few days off to give your mind a break. Schedule a day where you have nothing to do and stick to it. Step away from screens and stretch your body and eyes for a few moments. Take 5 deep breaths before sitting down to work. Don’t be afraid to make time for you and to step away from work so that you don’t burn out.

The cool thing to say

I saw the picture below recently and I have to say how accurate it is with the recent events of all the protests and the focus on police brutality. Many organizations and companies have pledged to financial support various initiatives related to supporting Black people but I can’t help but wonder how many dollars will actually impact them directly instead of being eaten up in “administrative costs.” Showing solidarity and support is suddenly the cool thing to do and while it’s nice I wonder if there will be any lasting and impactful change made. Honestly, I doubt it.

A long week

This week has been a long one for a lot of people. There’s panic, uncertainty, increased stress and a lot of people worried. There’s countless lives around the globe that have been impacted in some way. Some see this as an opportunity to take a break from a crazy schedules while others are feeling overwhelmed as they are tasked with finding childcare and entertaining their children in the middle of the school year.  There’s isn’t an easy answer or solution to anything. The only thing that has been constant has been the rapid changes that have happened with the passing of each day. People are having to make adjustments in ways that they never planned to before. It’s a great time to be compassionate and show some kindness.

Vegetarian woes

I’ve always lived fairly health conscious. I’m familiar with many fruits and vegetables and I was raised as a vegetarian/vegan. However, recently due to a change in my workout regimen and weightlifting routine I’ve had to start eating meat as a means of increasing protein and helping me recover in between workouts. It’s been a challenge so far because I have no idea how to cook meat and the texture of it is way too chewy for my liking. One thing that I can appreciate is the fact that I’m cooking more and getting a chance to become more familiar with the layout of my kitchen because traditionally I’m not a fan of cooking for one. So far salmon and crab are my favorites and I like the challenge of experimenting and figuring out what recipes taste good. I’m seeing favorable results so I’ll continue to stick with the meat thing. I feel better overall and I have more energy. I have more endurance when working out and I’m seeing changes with the way my clothes fit. I just wish chicken tasted as good as tofu.

Changing or challenged

I recently realized how much my circle has changed. I’m not in close contact with many of the people I grew up with and over the years I’ve also grown apart from some friends I met during my college years. One thing I like about my current circle is the fact that everyone wants to do better. There’s intentionality around improving personally and professionally. One great quality of a good friendship is that you feel accepted as a person. You aren’t judged or made to feel like your friend is trying to change you. However, I’ve come to realize that the mark of a good friend is one that challenges you to grow—even if it’s an uncomfortable process. They aren’t trying to change you but they also realize opportunities for growth that you may not see so they challenge you to be better. Constructive criticism feels different when it comes from someone you know who genuinely has the best intentions for you. Instead of becoming more defensive, it’s easier to internalize what they’re saying. This type of a friend is rare to have and if you find one be grateful and keep them around.

Internal Integrity

Lately I’ve been on this health kick. Technically I probably shouldn’t call it that because it’s a lifestyle change and I’m consciously being more intentional about making healthy choices. It’s been a very very very challenging six weeks but it’s been good to see some of the results I’ve been wanting. Through this process I’ve been reminded of how important having discipline is to daily life. This was a reality that I also faced last year when I had to get my shit together and finally finish my dissertation. Nothing would be written unless I stopped making excuses and actually sat down to write and became intentional about doing so. So here I am again tapping into that same part of myself to improve and to consistently workout. I thought about the concept of internal integrity and how crucial it is to achieving success. It means that you keep the promises that you make to yourself.  Self talk is one of those things that impact us even if we don’t necessarily always consciously realize it. Our actions and emotions are closely tied to what we tell ourselves and our internal dialogue. Internal integrity means that you are a person of your word and that you follow through–even when you want to change your mind about a course of action because you’ve already said you’d do it. A great example of this is the fact that I decided to juice for three days and while I absolutely hated it, I stuck to it because it was what I had promised myself I would do. It was hard but I knew that I could do it because I’ve had to discipline myself in other areas of my life. The mind is a powerful tool and I personally think that it’s important to make a practice of making decisions that have a long term positive impact even if they cause short term discomfort. It’s those types of decisions that pave the way for long term meaningful change. I don’t know if the process gets easier but I hope eventually that it does.

The life of an empath

It’s rare that I find articles that discuss being an empath and I found a great one here. So much of our self image is shaped by our perception of the world. As I’ve gotten older I’ve found more value in disconnecting for a bit in order to recharge. I’ve also learned the importance of protecting my space and being mindful of energies that drain me. There are countless challenging moments but self soothing can work wonders as well as getting out my head a bit and finding a worthy distraction.

Nobody’s Fool (the movie)

On a recent 11 hour flight I had the opportunity to catch up on some movies that I did not make an effort to see while they were in theaters and I ran across Nobody’s Fool. The premise of the movie is pretty simple. There’s a successful woman who has a sister released from prison and the sister comes to stay with her. This woman is in a yearlong relationship with a guy she has never met in person. The movie revolves around finding out the truth about the mystery guy and a budding romance between her and a local coffee shop owner. However, the more subtle messages that seem to accompany most of Tyler Perry’s movies were definitely front and center with this one. Most of his movies involves a successful woman who is missing out because she won’t give a guy with a colored background a chance. Or, the heroine is with a good guy already but she wants excitement so she gives it up for someone more attractive and loses everything in the end. In this particular movie, the main character was struggling with being attracted to someone with a felony and history of substance abuse. But he had changed his life and was now a productive member of society. It’s not a secret that everyone is not born with the same opportunities. Mistakes that are made between the ages of 15 and 25 can drastically change the trajectory of someone’s life. While I understand the importance of not judging someone based on their past, it’s also important to take their past into consideration. The movie ended on a happy note with the successful woman professing her love for the changed man in the rain. She had found someone who loved her but she just needed to look past his past. It was a (seemingly) lovely message but the real world tends to be just a bit more complicated. Changed people aren’t always changed and sometimes old habits can die hard.

The next year

As this year of my life starts to come to a close I realize that there’s a lot that I want to do. While I have definitely had some milestones this year that included finishing my PhD, I’m not satisfied yet. Working in a hospital again has reminded me of how short life really is. I’ve had numerous patients who have passed away without any warning. I’ve had a lot of major changes that were unexpected but I also got hired on to my dream job (at least past time). So far I’ve gotten the opportunity to travel a little bit and I’ve visited 8 countries. I’m hoping to develop a good work life balance in the coming year and maybe flex my entrepreneurial muscles just a bit. The whole dating thing has absolutely been a bust so far so I figure I’ll just set goals around what I can control. Here’s to bigger and better things.