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.

Building emotional connection

I ran into this picture and thought that it was a great idea to utilize for couples who just want to try something different to build their relationship and emotional connection. It’s more ideal for partners who live together but anything can be modified for social distancing or living apart. Happy June!

Cooking Chronicles

This pandemic has driven many to turn to food as a source of comfort. I would be lying to say that I haven’t indulged in the occasional “bad” carb after a particularly stressful day. People are cleaning out the junk food in supermarkets while leaving the produce and grocery aisle practically untouched. The emphasis on certain comfort foods reminds me of one of my favorite food experiences as a kid and teenager. Camping. There is absolutely nothing that tastes as good as food made by a campfire after a long day of hiking. I went camping with a group of people and while we were outdoors, no expense was spared as far as the food budget. S’mores, grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, tacos, peach cobbler, vegetarian hotdogs and other delicious wonders were available in abundance. It was a great time to enjoy nature while also experiencing the community component of preparing food in large quantities and having good conversations as we huddled around the campfire for warmth. Nowadays, I find myself preparing more food than I ever have at any point in my life. I make dinner in the evenings and meal prep for most of my lunches at work. I’ve become more comfortable doing it and I find myself making more things from scratch and passing on some of the more processed foods. Nothing excessive but just a more intentional effort to eat a bit healthier than before.

Beaches

Typically I avoid traveling in the summer as it’s a time where most people are out and about and prices tend to be higher. However, I’m considering breaking my invisible rule to explore some National out of the way places that aren’t overrun with people. The first thing on my list is a beach. I’ve seen some great ones over the years and I’m looking forward to seeing some new ones this summer. We’ll see.

Portugal
St. Maarten
The Bahamas
Tortola
Jamaica
Aruba

The luxury of femininity

Women go through a lot. We are increasing in numbers within the workplace but we still are generally the ones held responsible for household duties and we also bear children. The scale seems just a bit crooked at times. Women in high profile positions are often asked how they manage being a mother and having children while no one would dare ask the corresponding question to a man. There’s a certain amount of hardness that comes along with being able to navigate a professional job. Sure, you can be a bleeding heart but you’ll burn out fast and have nothing to show for it. I’ve noticed this myself in my years of practice work. There’s a certain level of professionalism that is expected regardless of one’s emotional state. After being in the workforce and dealing with multiple challenges, many women don’t want to go home and do hobbies that engage and enhance their feminine traits. It’s a luxury that most black women aren’t provided as many are sexualized and expected to grow up early. It’s a luxury to be able to embrace more feminine traits of softness and emotional processing while simultaneously completing job duties. It’s a lose lose situation at times. There’s such a need for honest dialogue around femininity and what it means in the face of a world where women’s rights are constantly threatened. Does equality take precedence over chivalry or is it the other way

Changing focus

I was having a conversation the other day with a woman who was at a crossroads in her life. She had focused on her career and had finally come to the realization that she wanted to have a husband and children. The challenge is that the made the decision in her 50s. Now, I know the whole cliche about how you get wiser as you age and the fact that age isn’t anything but a number. However, the rules are different when trying to find a significant other after a certain age. Chances are that a younger woman has a better chance of getting married and having a family than someone who is middle aged. It’s not necessarily fair but it’s reality. I remember the decision I made to focus on my career and while I didn’t regret it, I also realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to focus on long term. The relationship that I’m in right now is the result of a conscious decision to grow personally so that I could be my best self in a relationship. I’m glad that my focus has shifted because it’s been valuable in defining what’s important to me and how I want my life to be moving forward. A lot of changes have occurred and I’m looking forward to what is next.

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.

2019 Reflections

This past decade and this past year has definitely been one of changes. I started out the decade as a junior in college. I was recovering from a major heartbreak with someone who I thought that I had a future with. I was so excited to finally have someone in my life and it ended quite abruptly. I focused on school and had a great senior year that also had some lows with the deaths of several of my classmates. I was so excited to be at the end of my college journey. While it was a great one, I knew that my education had to continue and as I spoke to my family and friends at my graduation dinner I remember telling them that one year later I would be finishing graduate school and it happened. I moved across the country to a place where I did not know a soul. It was just me and my dog. I met some great people and had a lot of my beliefs challenged for the first time. Graduate school finished and the job search started. It was a really rough time. I applied for hundreds of jobs and while I found a few, they weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I decided that I was bored after graduate school so I made the somewhat impulsive decision to start a doctorate while I was stuck in Colorado getting hours for my professional license. So the doctorate started and I kept working. I quit several jobs that just weren’t a good fit for me and I eventually started working a night shift job. While the money was great, I quickly realized that the no sleep life was not the life for me. However, due to a series of unplanned events I found myself resigning rather quickly and relocating back across the country where I found myself in limbo as I tried to find a new job, settle into a new apartment and remain independent. But I persisted and got a cubicle job that paid the bills for a while. I decided that I wanted to make traveling a priority and I wanted to find a job that allowed me to do both while still using my degree. I found the dream job and quit my cubicle job the same day and relocated from Georgia to California within a week. After a few years on the road and moving several places I realized that it was time to settle down. The beginning of this year found me back in my home state with a resolution to stick close to home for a while. After traveling to Italy and Portugal I decided that I wasn’t quite done with being on the road so I decided to spend the summer on the East Coast. I decided during the summer that I wanted to settle outside of my home state and due to a series of fortunate events I moved across the country again and got a great boyfriend along the way. While I don’t know what this next year will bring, I’m excited for the opportunity to focus on personal development and fulfill some of my personal goals in this next decade.