Tuesday, March 31, 2020

A series of words. [Part II]

Hi, friends. The words continue. Enjoy!

love hard.

I have so much love to give. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and I temper it. Sometimes I give more than I should to people who don't realize/reciprocate the gift. In the end it's more worth it for me to give love than to hold it back.

appreciate the beauty in everyone.

Everyone has a story. I love letting people surprise me instead of assuming that they're going to be a certain way. This goes for new people as well as people already in my life.

This has also helped me immensely at work; when I humanize coworkers and clients instead of getting endlessly annoyed at them, everyone wins. However, this does not serve as a justification for bad behavior or someone not doing their job; it just helps me approach critical conversations with a holistic perspective.

learn to let go.

Do you know anyone who holds grudges? Or has an insane memory for all of the bad things you do? Not only is it not fun to be around those people at all, but just imagine having to carry around all of that negativity ALL OF THE TIME. It has to get exhausting, right? So when speaking to smaller things, I recommend working to make peace and let things go for the sake of your own sanity and well-being.

Speaking to letting go in a bigger sense, there is no formula or timeline for this, as it changes from person to person. I would say just take the time that you need, because healthy endings lead to healthy beginnings.

rest in love and peace.

Right now I'm sitting on the balcony in the sunshine. Rest. So important to take any moments that you can. Right now in this quarantine, I'm sure there are a lot of moments for it! Hopefully you find yourself getting a recharge and connecting more with loved ones virtually.

delight in tiny moments.

I took a bike ride today for the first time in at least a year. I rode through the neighborhoods (road biking intimidates me) and I found myself smiling as I was coasting down a hill. "Race you to the bottom of the block!" my memory said, summoning the days of old when my friends and I would ride around the neighborhood all day, showing off our no-hands riding skills and sweet streamers. Delight.

empower yourself each day.

When the days stretch out like this, it can be hard to find motivation. A routine, for me, is very empowering. But with a built-in routine gone, how do we find structure? Having been working from home for almost a year now (crazy!), I would recommend creating tiny anchors in your day that indicate at the very least a starting point and stopping point from a work perspective. You can also focus on doing a little bit of something each day that helps you feel productive...do some exercise, pick up that guitar, draw some pictures, wash some dishes or do some laundry. Something else that's empowering for me is getting dressed, even if I'm not going anywhere. Those are just a few things that keep me sane.

persevere no matter what.

Stay at home. Take care of yourself. Take it day by day. We'll get there. <3 p="">
Until next time, friends.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A life without FOMO.

How are you guys holding up?

Gratitude has been a common theme for me. Grateful for a job. For virtual morning coffee dates and nighttime drink dates. For being able to still get outside for a walk. For teletherapy. For Instant Pots and weighted blankets, and exercise videos on YouTube. For Netflix. For the amazing things that people are doing during this time and the creative ways people are contributing to the well-being of others. I'm currently listening to a beautiful livestream of the lead singer of Young the Giant, Sameer Gadhia, on Twitch. It's these tiny moments that help string together what feels like endless days.

Another pro: this is probably the closest we'll get to no FOMO, or fear of missing out. An interesting thought.

Years ago, I chose some of my favorite words, wrote them together, and framed them. One day I decided to write out phrases to go with these words, and I found them in my photo album last night. It made me smile. Instead of sharing these words with you in one big chunk, I'd like to break them up into a few posts and add some context about what they mean to me and why I chose the phrases that I did.

awaken to the call inside of you.

I wrote these words in 2015, but I have felt the most awake this past year. Leaving my job was the biggest decision I made to move closer to what I wanted to do with my life, but I've also made other decisions that have brought me closer and closer to where I need to be.

Speaking specifically to this unique time in life with the pandemic, I've woken up from routine. Things that I've always expected would be there are either limited or no longer there. Loved ones are directly impacted. I need to be on my game to help. We all need to be.

thrive right now.

I've always loved the word "thrive". In reading it I can immediately sense the meaning...not just living, not just getting by, but living life from the heights to the depths. Feeling everything, moving through everything, and coming out more sure of who you are on the other end.

reflect on how far you've come.

When I really sit and think about it, I am blown away at how far I've come over the years. I consistently feel more settled in myself with each passing year and each experience. I remember the days where the unknown scared me immensely...it was easier to follow others and take on their opinions because I was afraid to risk making people uncomfortable by being myself. I was afraid to ask questions, afraid of being wrong, and afraid of being an outsider. I still have those fears pop up occasionally, but I have tools to work them back down and re-wire them to better thoughts.

explore what it means to be YOU.

I'm a fan of self-reflection, but having this intense period of solo time is showing me new things even still. I'm trying to take those things, sit on them, and then work towards ways to be a better version of myself.

play every single moment.

It's so important to remember to play, especially as adults. That's why I love being around children; they show you what it means to be unrestrictedly joyful. When I was in Jamaica for a mission trip in college, we went to a school in a town called Friendship and played games with the children. I just remember being so amazed at how many games they could come up with by just linking hands in a giant circle. It was the most fun I had had in a long time. In this time of quarantine, playing can look like using goofy filters on FaceTime calls, photoshopping faces onto funny pictures, or playing games with friends on video calls. I'm trying to seek out more of these opportunities.

experience true love.

Love has always been on my brain. Apparently, according to a survey I took for an online course recently, it is my #1 signature strength. I've always valued close relationships with others and tend to make them a priority in decision-making. This unfortunately has also brought me to many relationships and friendships where I lost myself and got absorbed in others. For so long I focused on what I needed to be on a person-by-person basis, making myself a chameleon to changing whims, but in the last year I've focused more on who I want to be as a complete person, an authentic friend and a true partner. It's a constant learning experience but I feel like that's how it should be; I always want to be looking for ways to be the best version of myself.

listen for the unspoken.

I am a grade-A listener. Additionally I am a highly sensitive person and can feel the energy and tension of a room when I walk into it. This is a pro and a con, because often this keeps me from being truly myself regardless of what others may think. For example, if I sense someone is uncomfortable, I will refrain from potentially contributing anything to the conversation/situation that would make that person feel even more uncomfortable. This is something that I'm working on balancing better. That said, listening in general is so important. You don't miss what someone might not be saying.

inspire everyone's best self.

When you truly appreciate someone for who they are, they shine. I've seen this time and time again at work while I was training, mentoring and managing, and with friends when I've called out things that I've noticed about them that I really appreciate. I love all of the people I surround myself with and I want to make sure they know that consistently.

Love to you, friends. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Perspective amidst a pandemic.

Hi, friends.

It’s a weird time right now, to say the least. What started out as something happening far enough away that it was perhaps out of sight, out of mind, is now something very much close to home. When we take away all of our means of social interaction...work, school, bars, restaurants, gym, family, friends...how do we feel about what’s left? A lot of people are left in a heavy state of self-reflection. or maybe heavily trying to avoid it. I myself am a huge proponent of self-reflection, but even this feels like a lot.

I’m just trying to make the most of this time, but in talking with my friend the other day we decided that it’s a weird energy to be productive in. In theory, we have all of the time in the world now! Time to pursue our hobbies, establish healthy habits, get more sleep, and more. But...people are sick and dying. Businesses and restaurants are closing, both temporarily and for good. Parents of young kids have to navigate work and childcare AND potential homeschooling. Hourly workers are at risk or out of work. I helplessly watched a friend have to postpone her wedding. And I know many other people have had to cancel or postpone major life events as well.

I’m trying to find that line between staying informed and not fueling mass hysteria. I’m trying to be realistic about what I consider "enough" in terms of food and supplies. I’m trying to figure out how to help, but also sometimes feel a bit helpless. It’s a strange haze to be living in and I know I’m not alone in that feeling.

That said, there are still beautiful things happening and ways to help. My friend Katie is posting about it. I’m seeing emails about it from companies. People are providing financial assistance or a helping hand. Others are buying gift cards to local shops, restaurants and breweries, and others are paying ahead for their future personal care appointments in order to support their stylists and estheticians. Loved ones are connecting through Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, FaceTime, text and more. These are tethers in an uncertain time, and I’m thankful for them. Let’s find and create more. Now is a time to show up for our people and communities. We’ll get through this together, one day at a time.

Love to you, friends. Stay safe and healthy.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Heart things. [Part III]

A lot of things to say this month, which is a nice change after feeling dormant for awhile. I wanted to continue the theme of "heart things", since today is the holiday of the heart. A lot of people have very strong opinions about Valentine's Day, but I've always loved it as a reminder to show a little extra love to the people in your life. I've only spent 3 Valentine's Days with significant others, so the day has always been characterized by showing love to my friends, family and coworkers. I miss the days where you'd go and pick out valentines to hand out, excitedly picking themed ones with your favorite pattern/color/cartoon character/movie character. I'd know immediately which ones I wanted to give to my best friends (the biggest one with the best saying) and which ones I'd probably give to the people I didn't get along with very well in class (without being too mean). Throughout my career I still liked to get little valentines for my coworkers, just to brighten the day.

This year I'm without coworkers, but that's ok. I still received lovely texts, sent some of my own, and wore a pretty red shirt.

Happy heart things:
  • A St. Bernard puppy named "Garbanzo" exists
  • My friend asking me to be background vocals and guitar in live performances of his upcoming album (more on this in a later post, because this is SUPER exciting for me!)
  • Running into a local on the street today and getting a potential new freelance gig from it
  • Sweet texts
  • Excitement, intention and consistency
  • Feeling heard
  • When a smile gets stuck on your face
  • "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates
  • Gifts from friends
  • New adventures ahead

May you be aware of all of the love in your life today and always, friends. Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

[More] heart things.

I felt like a follow-up was needed after my previous post...

1.) I PASSED! I passed the aPHR. It was actually pretty funny because at the end of the test there was a notice that said "results will come in 24 to 48 hours", so I was like...cool. Not today. And then I left the testing center and they gave me a paper that I promptly folded up and put in my pocket so that I could leave as quickly as possible. I'm texting everyone saying "yeah I don't know how I did, hopefully alright but there were some vague questions. We'll see." Fast forward about an hour and a half. I finally think to myself "oh, I wonder what that paper was". So I look at this paper and the very first paragraph says "Congratulations! You've passed the exam!" Hahaha. If only I would've paid more attention to what was right in front of me. Regardless, I'm excited and some next steps are in the works.

2.) My heart is still beating. Irregularly, but that's normal. I actually had a very strange experience with both the cardiologist and the nurse, and will probably try to find somewhere else to go after my upcoming tests. Results on my condition are unknown until then, basically. Patience.

I had a lovely "Galentine's Day" dinner with some friends tonight, and it was so good to see them after so long. And so strange, because my life was the hot topic of conversation and it's changed a lot since I've seen them. I learned some things that were hard to hear. And I said some things that were hard to say. Regardless, I stayed true to who I was and still am. But processing the conversation after getting home was emotional for me and I'm so glad that I'm going to bed.

Life is just so weird. And lovely. And heart-wrenching, and thought-provoking, and terrifying, and often wonderful. I'm grateful to be living it.

Night, friends.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Heart things.

I have a lot on my mind.

One...I have an exam tomorrow. If I pass, I will be aPHR-certified and have a foundation to apply to HR jobs. The problem is that I haven't been able to fully invest in studying, so I don't feel as confident as I want to. But I've made peace if I don't pass and will cross that bridge when I get to it.

The sub-thoughts: is HR still for me? Do I need to go back to school?

Two...I have a cardiologist appointment on Monday. This is where I get a new baseline on my heart condition that I've had since I was a baby. I received my old medical records from my previous cardiologist today, and reading through them brought back the reality of my condition. At some point I will have to get a heart valve repaired or replaced. I may have to have the hole in my heart closed so that I can breathe at full capacity while exercising. I will have to be hyper-vigilant if I ever decide to have children. I am so grateful that my condition is mild, so I haven't felt too many of the effects growing up. But recently I've been more aware of my limitations, and there is the fear of the unknown of where I sit now.

The sub-thoughts: I am getting older and this is terrifying.

Three...I have resolved to define the ground that I want to stand on. I am tired of being a chameleon.

No sub-thoughts on that one. Just determination.

There is a poem that I received today, and a lot of it spoke to my heart. I'd love to share it in case all or parts of it may speak to yours.

The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, Indian Elder

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals, or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true, I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.

I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore trustworthy. I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours or mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.

It doesn't interest me who you are, or how you came to be here - I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

The sub-thoughts: That. I want to be that. I want to seek that.

Take care, friends.

Monday, January 27, 2020

A lesson in being myself.

Empathy. Learned as a young girl in a large, chaotic, varied family. Words weren't really given to emotions, so I had to watch and observe. Smiles and laughter = good. Frowns, yelling, tears = bad. Without much context I filled in the gaps, and honed that over the years until it made me really good at imagining, anticipating and predicting how people might feel in certain situations. Almost too good; I often fill in gaps that aren't there and create stories in my mind that can cause more emotional distress than it is sometimes worth. But overall I'm thankful to be empathetic.

The one thing I didn't count on was how much I learned to factor myself into that context of "good" or "bad" in others' experiences. Whether in a friendship or relationship, I like to think that I'm contributing to that person's overall quality of life in a (hopefully) positive way. That's what I look for in my friendships and relationships, at least. So when I'm spending extended time with someone (dating, for example) and they're unhappy, it's really hard for me not to take that personally. For me, the person I'm dating has a direct impact on my mood, so I can only assume it's similar for others. Even if I'm not the cause of a negative mood, I'm clearly not helping make it more positive and that makes me feel pretty useless.

I read a quote the other day from Will Smith that was a good reminder for me:

"You cannot make a person happy... You can make a person smile. You can make a person feel good. You can make a person laugh. But, whether or not a person is happy is deeply and totally and utterly out of your control."

I wish I could say that I've figured out the magic formula that enables me to be completely neutral in these situations and create the perfect emotional distance while still being a great friend and partner. Unfortunately, I don't think I'm wired that way. Even as an adult I still get caught up in needing to watch and observe in order to say the "right" thing to avoid the "bad". But what I'm trying to do is prioritize myself more in relationships, anticipate/predict less, and focus more on my happiness and well-being instead of letting it be dictated by others' actions, interests and moods. Because life is too short to bend over backwards for people that would not do the same for me. It's too short to scramble for the scraps of emotion, empathy and investment that others will throw out occasionally. Better to put that energy into the other awesome people you're surrounding yourself with.

G'nite, friends.