A Reminder for all my Single Ladies

It’s February 11th, which means we’re three short days away from Valentine’s Day. On this day, single women (maybe men too) pretend to hate the holiday, claim their independence and wear black. They tell themselves and the world that they don’t need anyone to take care of them. They celebrate with their girlfriends and refuse to entertain the idea of happily ever after. I’ve been guilty of this behavior but how is acting like this serving us?

For starters, I know I am making several generalizations. I am basing all of this off of my personal experiences and am not trying to bash fiercely independent single ladies, especially since I am one. You go and own that independence and keep doing you. My point is more about Valentine’s Day and love, which some cynical singles denounce. Do we really think that’s worth it? Probably not. If you believe in the theory that by putting good out there, you’ll receive goodness, then bashing men and relationships is pointless. Take your armor off girl and be vulnerable. All men are not created equally.

There are good men in the world. The sample of the population you’ve dated or dealt with is only a small portion of the whole. You’re also not allowed to base your attitude towards men on your relationships with any male relatives. I promise if you look outside of those populations, you’ll find good, strong, happy men. I work with several of them – colleagues I’ve had the pleasure of working with that are good men. Smart, vulnerable, funny, respectful men. They do exist I swear.

Case in point, my friend Alicia’s fiancé Andrew. I’ve only met Andrew once but based on my friend’s overall happiness, I can tell he’s a good man. And there’s proof! Check out the video below that shows how Andrew proposed to Alicia: with awarding winning photographers capturing several different shots that Andrew made into a stop motion video. Also pay attention to how Andrew starts the video…more evidence that when a spark of magic occurs, people show up differently.

 

So my single ladies (or any cynics out there), I challenge you to think differently about relationships, love and the upcoming holiday. Be open, put the positive vibes out there and you might be surprised at what you get in return.

Since I’m putting the ask out there for others, I should be practicing what I’m preaching. I created an online dating profile today. I’ve considered it in the past but now I’m really doing it!

Easing into 2016

The month of January goes one of two ways:

  1. You throw yourself into New Year’s resolutions, planning, etc.
  2. The holidays and the cold weather have drained you and the thought of resolutions makes you want to crawl into a hole

Typically a new year is a time for you to reflect and create new goals. But why put all this pressure on ourselves to implement these changes up front? Why not create a year of resolutions, aspirations and new fun things you want to experience?

For the last two months, I’ve been listening to Gretchen Rubin‘s podcast Happier that she does weekly with her sister Elizabeth. Among other pearls of wisdom, each episode starts with a try this at home tip: a digestible idea to help you create better habits. A few, liking setting an alarm for bedtime, resonated with me. They’re also super easy and fun to try.

As I planned for the new year, I remember the podcast, these tips and recognized that a list of lofty resolutions wasn’t going to work for me. Actually, it never has.

So instead, I started focusing on a couple of things that hopefully will male me a little happier and a little healthier. So far for the month of January, I’ve implemented:

  • Packing breakfast and lunch daily
  • Tracking workouts at the gym
  • Walking during one call a day at work
  • Writing blog posts while at the gym (eliminates the pressure to find another time to write)

Now for some ideas I thought were good but aren’t sticking:

  • Getting up 30 minute earlier to do yoga.
  • Going to bed at a consistent time
  • Taking a lunch break to read

small changesI’m not totally giving up on these ideas but need to look at them differently and assess if now is the right timing. For example, instead of a full yoga class in the morning, maybe it’s ten mindful minutes of stretching. These smaller changes do have a bigger impact and absolutely remove the pressure of trying to do too much.

I can only speak for myself here: pressure doesn’t help me but it might work for you. We all need to meet ourselves where we are. Nobody needs more pressure or stress. Certainly, I’m not perfect, but these smaller changes have helped my mood. overall well-being and happiness.

What are your thoughts on New Years resolutions? Any helpful tips to share on how to implement new rituals or habits?

365 Days Later

2015 sucked. Yes I’m being that blunt. While there were highlights, generally speaking, I couldn’t wait to see 2015 go.

365 days ago, at the exact moment this blog post was published, my family lost its matriarch and I lost one of my best friends. Losing my grandmother shook my family to its core and one year later, all of us are still feeling aftershocks.

While I certainly miss Nana and think about her everyday, her death triggered much more for me. As I watched my mother and aunt tend to her tirelessly, I thought to myself: this is going to be me one day. I will be responsible for my parents and I will have to say goodbye.

It was during this realization that for the first time I actually felt like an adult. As we laid my beautiful Nana to rest and handled the details, I grew up, almost instantaneously.

Grief comes in waves, striking us in the least opportune moments. We can’t control this no matter how much time has passed since the trauma. But what else comes with grief? For me, it brought along a paralyzingly fear. Fear that those I love most would suddenly rise to heaven leaving me here hopeless and terrified. I made decisions based on this irrational fear. It influenced my personal relationships and professional interactions. It consumed me. All the time. Even when I wasn’t aware of it. I’d think I was getting ahead of it only to experience another painful loss that put me right back where I started.

It is only thanks to two of my colleagues who asked some profound questions that got me recognizing this emotion and how it shows up for me. This fear isn’t going away but I am much more aware of how it attacks the most innocent of situations. No matter how petrified I might be, I can’t control destiny. I can’t save anyone. I can live each day making decisions based on my happiness, not my fear.

I share this with you my friends so you know you’re not alone. Whatever you’re feeling after a traumatic event is justified. I’m so glad someone gave me the permission to feel all the feels. It was what I needed. I hope you can too, so we all can begin to heal and move forward.

I am forever grateful to my angel grandmother, for teaching me so many of life’s lessons even from afar.

Feb 2015 370

Year of Intention

I wrote this post on top of a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with OneRepublic’s “I Lived” playing. Sounds like a fairy tale, right? It’s pretty much is and allowed me to pause and reflect.

My writing spot for the day

My writing spot for the day

It’s been a long summer, one where I repeated the phrase: “It could be worse,” nearly 100 times. Everyone moved, work was crazy busy and I found myself moving along without any clear direction. That’s not normal for me – I’ve always had a plan, a goal, a schedule so this way of life didn’t feel right.

If you’re not moving forward, then you’re going backwards right? I’m not sure. But what I learned this year is that over orchestrating my life puts too much pressure on me and probably those around me. Every day should be its own adventure.

I paused over the weekend and reflected on what I want the next year to look like. Normally, I would create a list of things I want to accomplish in the next year and highlight the best moments of the past one. But that’s easy for me. 25 feels like a milestone so it should be more challenging. This year is going to be the year of intention: setting intentions, putting more positive ones out to the universe and being more intentional with my words and my time. To start, my intention for this new year is to believe in the change. My journey in the last year has been shaped by changes that life handed to me not ones I consciously put into motion. I know I can do better when faced with new challenges and unexpected changes. Whatever is meant to happen will shape my path for the better…or at least make for an interesting story!

Will I totally give up my planning nature? Definitely not. Who I am at its core isn’t going to change nor do I want it to. But in the spirit of continuous improvement, I want to fageocus on getting better from here!

I’m looking forward to celebrating my birthday over the next few days and making 25 the best year yet! I invite you to join me in my year of intention and to share your thoughts below!

Why LinkedIn Matters

Have you ever Googled yourself? What’s the first thing that comes up? For most of us, it’s our social media accounts, specifically our LinkedIn profiles that first appear. Now pretend a prospective employee or your new project manager is Googling you. Would you be comfortable with them seeing your LinkedIn profile in its current condition?

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a webinar by William Arruda about the power of LinkedIn and how companies could use it to recruit talent. I never paid much attention to my LinkedIn profile except for when I first graduated, but after this webinar, you better believe I updated my profile.

My results when I Googled myself

My results when I Googled myself

If you haven’t been on LinkedIn lately, the site has several new features, including the ability to customize your background and add documents to different roles you’ve listed. It’s not just your online resume anymore; it’s your personal website where you can create an online brand for yourself. Maybe you want to highlight a volunteer position that showcases other skills. You can do that and provide real examples for others. You can show the value you bring to your current organization and share pieces of thought leadership as well.

What Arruda said that I haven’t realized yet was that LinkedIn can be a competitive advantage for companies. Think about it: If your employees have strong profiles, where they share content about or related to your company or industry, they become brand ambassadors. In turn, these employees increase the visibility of your company and can engage others potential employees. It’s like a free mini recruiting system!

This is a mindset shift for most people. We are all used to our resumes in a tidy Word document that we can easily email to people. What we forget about is our online profiles like LinkedIn, which could reach more people daily. Companies also need to have an online presence and keep social media as a top priority. By strategically engaging their employees and sharing content on LinkedIn, companies can retain current staff and recruit even stronger talent.

When was the last time you updated your LinkedIn profile? Does your company have a strong online presence? How do they consistently engage employees? Share your thoughts below!

Starting the Conversation

For those who don’t know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. An entire month is dedicated to these debilitating diseases that impact approximately 57.7 million Americans over the age of 18. The first step is truly generating that awareness and starting the conversation.

The problem we face today is the stigma around mental illness. It should be treated like any other disease. Just because the symptoms aren’t always visible doesn’t mean they aren’t real. Anxiety, addiction and others paralyze people in ways that are indescribable. Unless you’ve experienced it, you should not judge.

I apologize if this post sounds like a rant; that’s not my intent. I know too many people who suffer in silence from mental illness. Mental health is just as important as physical health and people should realize that. Without your mind, you’re just a body wandering around. Talking about it will ultimately help save lives.

Over the weekend, a Temple alum and successful professional athlete, died at the age of 25. The cause of death was confirmed as a suicide yesterday. This was someone who had everything going for him. What could have possibly been that bad?! We will never know. If he only would have talked to someone and been vulnerable enough to admit something was wrong, could that have saved his life?

kindnessI think about him and others and wonder: If we as a society embraced mental wellness more, would people suffering be more comfortable talking about it? Today, I am inviting you to start that conversation with me – share experiences, offer advice or just listen. The quote to the left is our reminder that you just don’t know what people are experiencing. Approach your day with empathy and a smile – it could change someone’s world.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

In my last post, I wrote about the power of storytelling. Stories help convey our values, purpose and brand. But what happens when that oh so powerful story is a lie we repeat to ourselves often?

Much like fairy tales, our personal narratives were constructed at an early age, whether we believe it or not. The people closest to us helped to develop these stories, both positive and negative, that we end up carrying with us through life. So, if you were told you weren’t good enough your entire childhood, chances are you’ve carried that baggage with you through adulthood.

Another thought is that we may have perceived situations as children and translated them into negative stories about ourselves. The mother who was tough on her kids was merely preparing them for life’s challenges versus how a teenager might have perceived this tough love. Either way, the stories we tell ourselves can both help and harm us in the long run.

For me, the stories I create in my head are absolutely dramatizations of reality. I’m still trying to figure out why this is. I’m assuming it has something to do with my personal triggers. Triggers are scenarios that prompt an emotional response. Note: this emotional response can be extremely positive or extremely negative. Triggers, much like personal stories, are deeply rooting in your past experiences.

I tend to obsess about certain situations, then create a false story in my head that in turn solicits an emotional response. See what kind of chain reaction I have going on here? It’s not healthy or sustainable. I’m working on it but am finding it’s really hard for me stop the whirling in my head. The good news is I’m starting to recognize when I’m giving in to this behavior, so that’s step one. Here’s what I’ve been attempting to do when I know I’m obsessing, lying and reacting.

  • Recognize that I’m obsessing and creating a false story about a particular situation
  • Take a deep breath to calm myself down and pull myself out of the emotional reaction I’m having
  • Think about what actually happened versus what I perceived
  • Put myself in the other person’s shoes: could something have triggered them that then caused a chain reaction?
  • Ask myself: will this matter tomorrow, next month or next year? This one is especially helpful in keeping things in perspective.

I am certainly a work in progress, but have found these steps helpful. What kinds of stories do you tell yourself? Do any illicit an emotional response and how do you manage that? Share with me!

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