Prioritizing YOU (low cost edition)

A current trend on TikTok is “prioritizing myself for a year” which on paper is a trend I can support 100%. What I cannot support is the notion that you must spend a metric ton of money to prioritize yourself and find happiness. 

As a helpless TikTok doom scroller I consume a large amount of content. Lately my fyp (“for you page” for my non-TikTok literate friends) has been relentlessly feeding me videos of people (mostly white women) who spent the last year focusing on themselves and have now found happiness. Their highlight reels are truncated 60 second or less videos featuring large friend groups, fancy picnics, clubs, vacation and hot girl makeovers.

A vlog style chat through the tips and tricks in this blog

They look happy, they are taking care of themselves and I love it. I have no issue with what they are doing, sharing and posting but what I’ve come to realize is that this content makes it look like prioritizing oneself has to be expensive. When I first started really putting myself first this kind of content would have heavily discouraged me from going down the self-healing road. So today I’m sharing a few of my free or low cost ways that I take care of myself and put myself first. It’s not as glamorous as the party girl vibe I used to embody but it has made me exponentially happier. You can use one, all or a handful of them; there are no rules here. 

Fun fact – I also use these tips/tricks to help myself feel better after being in a funk, being too busy or when I need to get grounded in my life. 

Also, I am not a therapist, medical professional or any sort of MD. Please be sure to work with a licensed professional when it comes to your physical and mental health. 

Clean Your Space 

When the anxiety, stress or chaos of existing makes me feel out of control I dump everything out of my dresser and refold it. This process helps me practice gratitude for what I own, assists me in getting rid of things that don’t make me happy (like clothes that don’t fit and will never fit again), and it helps me get present in my body. This also works with cleaning closets, junk drawers, scrubbing your home (you can practice gratitude for your space by cleaning it) or your car. Bonus points if you change the sheets and light a nice candle for yourself. 

Clean Yourself 

Another way I show myself that I care is by getting really present and cleaning my body. This includes brushing and flossing my teeth, showering, washing my hair or just giving my face a nice deep clean with an awareness that I am doing this because I deserve to be taken care of, literally. If I’m not in a funk and have energy this can also include getting dressed up, doing my hair or makeup and making myself feel like I am worthy of getting ready just to feel good.

My number one rule with this is that regardless of if it’s just brushing my teeth or if I end up looking like I’m getting ready for the prom, I always tell myself “good job” after every task. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s important for me to hear from myself that I am enough and doing a great job regardless of how far I take the process. Prioritizing you can be cheesy but I find the kind self-talk extremely effective.

Move Your Body 

If I have the energy I move my body. Workouts are great, so are walks around the house. Sometimes it’s just the act of pulling out my yoga mat and laying on it while I listen to a yoga Youtube video. There are no rules here as long as I’m honoring my body and being kind to myself AND only moving from a place of self-love. This is not an excuse to abuse my body or punish it. Got it? Ok, good, be kind to yourself while you’re prioritizing you.

I hope this inspires you and reminds you that self-care can be free. I’m including a Youtube video below where I share more ways to nurture yourself. Questions? Want to talk about it? Build a custom plan together? Discovery coaching calls are available in the new year

Healthy Hobbies: How I Stay Sane at Home

Healthy hobbies I picked up in 2020/2021!

By healthy hobbies I really mean hobbies that keep me from losing my mind at home. I’m not a big drinker, I don’t have a yard to run or play with my dog in and I’m self-employed and run a business that relies on people having jobs and money! Now that I no longer work for corporations, can’t go on vacations and find it too dangerous to visit family or eat out at restaurants I have extra free-time on my hands (I was wasting 20+ hours a week talking to people about nothing before all of this – what a life). 

At the beginning of quarantine a lot of us turned to things like Netflix, alcohol, TikTok and MINDLESS SOCIAL MEDIA SCROLLING. For the first few months of COVID quarantine I would work on my business then immediately turn to mind numbing activities like the above. Eventually my brain got bored. Now that we are almost a year in I’ve tried to cut waaaaay back on all of them (except you TikTok – I love you TikTok). So, now that I have fully adjusted to my self-employed stay at home lifestyle I’m going to share with you what I do for FUN with all that extra time. 

Most of these will involve purchasing items to get started BUT I have included two habits I picked up that are absolutely free & can be done with paper, computer, cell phone notes section or with chalk on the ground. 

Alcohol

Before we start let’s talk about the pink elephant in the room (alcohol). A lot of people are killing time in quarantine with booze – you do you boo I’m not here to shame you but here’s a little about why that doesn’t work for me. 

1. Anxiety. (hangxiety, anxiety while drinking, anxiety while sober – it’s omnipresent) 

2. The only alcohol that tastes good to me now is $50 a bottle (Moet is best #champagneproblems)

3. Sugar upsets my stomach in large quantities 

4. I like to create more than I like to consume. I like to do things (assuming I’ve had enough rest) and being hungover is not conducive for creativity. 

I’m ready for my AARP card now.

Does this mean I NEVER drink? No, it just means I don’t drink often because I’ve found so many other things that I want to do with my money and time. And that don’t affect my psyche.

So what do I do instead? 

Roller Skating: Impala Skates (thank you Brenton) 

Let’s start with the newest edition to my hobbies – learning to roller skate. Brenton lovingly got me pink skates for Christmas and while I’ve only gotten to take them out a couple times (stupid rain) its SO MUCH FUN and also SO TERRIFYING. If you have a park, parking lot, quiet street or a first floor non-carpet apartment I 10/10 recommend giving skates a go! 

Learning Keyboard 

The next hobby I’m going to talk about is playing keyboard. Have I had my keyboard for a year? Almost! Am I good at it? Absolutely not!! But I love learning songs on it. I personally love using this Youtube account for tutorials on how to play popular songs. I’ve let myself absolutely stink at playing music and it’s honestly really fun! If you are not musically inclined I 10/10 recommend picking up an instrument and learning off the internet. This let’s me tap into beginner’s mind and gives me an insurmountable mountain to climb – there will always be something new to learn. 

Painting

The third hobby I’m going to share with you all is painting! I picked this hobby up at the end of 2019 (maybe I was subconsciously preparing for this relentless year of at home living). The premise of at home painting is simple. I just find a Youtube tutorial on how to paint something, follow along, never have all the right colors and then I just kind of let my “creativity” take over and go off the rails. 

What I love about this is that I have learned that most “mistakes” in painting can be covered or adapted to. Painting allows me to tap into an artform that I never really understood and still have no idea how colors truly go together. If you want to jump in and need a joyful companion to paint with I highly recommend following a Bob Ross tutorial on Netflix. *insert gif of happy little clouds here* 

Writing (Absolutely FREE) 

Next let’s talk about something absolutely free – all it requires is your imagination – writing! As someone who loves to talk things out when they need to process I’ve found writing to be a great way to do this. The best thing about writing is that you can always SUCK and just keep it to yourself – there is literally no risk to writing.

There are quite a few ways and things to write but I’ve been dabbling in the following: 

  1. Blog posts (hi!) 
  2. Journaling (this is my personal favorite way to practice self-care and check in with myself – when my feelings or thoughts feel a bit too big I try to put them on paper) 
  3. Fiction storytelling (I picked this up in 2018 and while I’ve only ever submitted and finished one story I love doing this – I find character and world building insanely fun and it makes time FLY) 
  4. Poetry (a great way to make my thoughts and feelings make sense. It gets them out of my body and onto paper) 

If you want to write but you have no idea where to start here are a few ideas to help you. 

  1. Want to write fiction? Find or create a playlist that aligns with the world you want to be in or create. I personally love listening to dark academia playlists and writing about woods, magic, friendship, etc. 
  2. Want to journal? Find some journal prompts! You can find them on Pinterest, Google but I’m partial to the customized ones I create over on Fiverr! 
  3. Want to write blog posts? Journal or write about something that interests you. See where that thought takes you and try to narrow it down into a topic. 
  4. Want to write poetry? I have no idea what I’m doing in that department either but you can follow my poetry instagram for inspo! @ playingwithpoems 

Co-creating Additional Media 

Brenton and I have kept ourselves busy with a plethora of projects including: 

There you have it! A few of the many ways I keep myself busy and creative during these “unprecedented times”. Does this mean I don’t spend an inordinate amount of hours playing Animal Crossing? No – I still maintain an island!  Do I do all of these everyday? No! I don’t even do all of them every week – I tend to cycle through them adding new hobbies and putting down old ones in a seemingly random pattern. 

Along with all this fun I also help people get their sh*t together, organize their life, apply for (and find) jobs and many other fun life and career coaching activities. Helping people make more money or find what motivates them is my passion and I am so grateful for every single client I get to work with!! 

I’ve Fallen for #bossbabe Before…

The mlms are out for the holidays and they want to make you a bossbabe or #girlboss! By now we all know I’m staunchly against anything #girlboss, #bossbabe or anything that remotely sounds like that. I find it to be infantilizing, filled with toxic positivity, perpetuating grind culture and it tends to target the vulnerable. It’s not because I think the women spreading this culture are evil – it’s because it’s remotely cult-like and triggers sorority girl memories that I would rather keep repressed. Because at one point I too drank the kool aid. I have fallen for the too good to be true motivational candy. And I’ve done it more than once. Usually that comes in the form of MLMs but today I’m going to highlight a few ways it’s snuck into our less obvious potentially problematic organizations. 

**Before we begin this blog is my opinion and observation of bossbabe culture. It is not an attack on any one organization, company or sisterhood**

Bossbabe culture feeds us too good to be true motivation. Our too good to be true motivational candy is out there to dupe us into thinking we need to be more. A favorite example of mine is Beyonce (love her – this example has little to do with her as a person but just stick with me on this). Have you ever had someone try to motivate you by saying that YOU have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce so you could be just as productive as her? That is a lie. It’s a fallacy. Sure, we all get 24 hours in a day but Beyonce has a team to help her…I run my business solo (with Brenton as my volunteer editor). We cannot all be like Beyonce – it’s bullshit. We don’t have her team, her resources and even if we did we are all still uniquely different people with different goals and life plans. 

But, it’s easy to fall for these overly simplistic motivational statements. I know this first hand because I have done it. I don’t necessarily consider myself gullible but these statements feed off our fears, they tell us that anything is possible, they play into our optimism and hope that we can have it all (which maybe we can but its not doing to show up thanks to a toxic positivity quote). So I’m going to share with you my mistakes. Because I have a handful of times I’ve fallen for the candy, I wanted something so bad I was willing to ignore the warning signs – and to tell you that you should never be ashamed of getting tricked. But, you should be ashamed if you intentionally trick others.  

Bossbabe and toxic positivity

Bossbabe culture utilizes toxic positivity as a marketing tool. Toxic positivity breeds in sisterhoods. Not legitimate sisterhoods, I’m talking about the sisterhoods you pay for. So joining a sorority at 19 was not my best decision. If you really think about it, a sorority can be like a mlm without the reward of income. You get suckered in, love bombed by your new friends for a quarter. You have to attend events, pay money to be told that you have to follow rules that don’t make any sense and then you are asked to recruit new friends BUT you can’t actually talk about what you do. (We were not allowed to talk about boys, booze, politics, money, or anything else that actually matters when joining a sorority). Since we weren’t allowed to blatantly talk about things we had to beat around the bush and ask probing questions like “have you taken any family vacations” (a sign of money) or literally lie through our teeth when asked about drinking “some of the girls who are 21+ like to grab dinner downtown and have a nice glass of wine with it”. 

Recruitment itself breeds toxicity, it gaslights people with a false view of the organization, it lovebombs new members and then you end up resentful (ok so maybe that was just me). It was not all bad but it was definitely a rose colored glasses made me miss the red flags kind of thing. 

Rose colored glasses hide red flags

So with all of these red flags how did I find myself a proud sister for three years? Philanthropy. I love helping people. It’s the best way to manipulate me – tell me I’m helping someone else. I love helping women, I love building strong empowered women up and I loved the idea of joining an organization that did that. But the politics behind the philanthropy, how little it felt like we actually helped anyone and the politics behind putting on any philanthropic events made me want to scream. Telling people you do something and actually executing on it are two very different things. 

My senior year I dropped the sorority. Do I love the sisters I keep in contact with? Yes. Was it worth the money? Probably not but I had a safe place to live. Do I wish I had left earlier than I did – yes. But, without joining that sorority I wouldn’t have learned the warning signs of what comes after love bombing, I wouldn’t have met some of my best friends and I would have probably paid rent to a slumlord in Santa Barbara. I had to detox from the cult-like “in crowd” or “out crowd” feelings and I had to let the anger that accompanied how bad I had been duped go. But it was a hard choice to make. It was difficult to let go because I had already “invested so much”. So when I tell you that I understand how easy it is to get tricked into an mlm or a scam believe me – I’ve been there.  

#Bossbabe & #Girlboss in Business

After college the bossbabe culture became a bit more obvious. The scams seemed easier to read – yet I still fell for them. 

This breaks down into two sections for me. Time and time again I have fallen for the love bombing of a new job – only to finally have the rose colored glasses slip off my nose after the onboarding is over. I’ve learned a lot from every job I’ve had and I’m honestly grateful for all of them but I wish I had read the signs earlier. 

But the final form of #Bossbabe culture I’ve fallen for is business coaching. SOME business coaches love to spew toxic positivity quotes about how mindset is the only thing separating YOU from Bill Gates. I’ve covered this on a past blog post but to summarize – toxic positivity is a wonderful marketing tool. This “anyone can be a #bossbabe” mentality ignores the enormous amount of privilege the coach may have had, it erases the struggle of their clients and it feeds lies to those who are struggling about how success is always just around the corner. Optimism is great but it shouldn’t be packaged and sold for thousands of dollars. Skills should be included with the price. 

Much like an mlm up line spewing toxic positivity, these individuals can feed off our desire to believe that people are inherently good, that people are watching out for us and that everyone is capable of creating a life filled with rainbows and sunshine. Which is partially true. What SOME business coaches do is leave out the hard work (not all, after all – I’m a career coach and I have met business coaches with beautiful intentions), they skip over the hard stuff like OPERATING A BUSINESS and focus on “mindset only” work. After working with a couple of the coaches I’ve met I can attest that mindset without action is a recipe for frustrated stagnation. 

Bossbabe has got to go! 

In conclusion, we have to let go of our bossbabe culture but I get why we fall for it. I do not want to be a #girlboss – I’m an adult woman. I already own my own business (legitimately). So, if you have fallen for the pretty pink lettering and the “positive vibes only” content – it’s ok. I’ve been there too! We can detox from this together. 

**this blog is my opinion and observation of bossbabe culture. It is not an attack on any one organization, company or sisterhood.

Burnout Prevention Plan

Anyone else in a perpetual state of burnout lately? If so, you are not alone. Our current situation with global climate change, racism, sexism, financial worries, poor leadership and a  PANDEMIC is enough to put even the most stoic of us into a bit of panic. While the majority of us are dealing with some level of these stressors in our day to day lives this garbage pile of everything is DRAINING and when you put it on top of years and years of discrimination and oppression…we have burnout.  

Productivity and Burnout Both Increasing

Before we dig deeper into burnout I do want to make a note about productivity (which is something I’m not super fond of – especially if we use it as a marker of personal success). During my time in HR I worked with managers that were pro remote work and many who were against it due to the fear that employees would be less productive if they had the freedom to work from home. I was lucky enough to work for more managers that were more pro remote work than against it but for anyone who is on the fence about productivity I want to note that 63% of managers and workers are saying that productivity has gone up or stayed the same during this time. 

Work Life Balance 

This means that during a PANDEMIC employees are still managing to get just as much if not more work done. This also means that these individuals are working harder than they were in the office, are facing more stress (unless they are a COVID non-believer) and are probably inching their way towards burnout if they haven’t gotten there already. The longer hours might be due to poor boundary setting since employees can no longer physically leave work at work and because they are not busy or they feel obligated to continue working or respond to emails during non-work hours. If you are one of these employees I HIGHLY recommend setting work from home workplace boundaries and talking to your manager about them.

Old Burnout Prevention Ideas Not Working 

Because of the layers to this madness I’ve been posting a lot about rest, self-care (the real kind not the marketing kind), meditation and mindset tricks but for me these things aren’t cutting it anymore. We are in a global (or at least in the US, nationwide) state of trauma and panic and we are exhausted – so I’ve thrown together a personal burnout prevention plan. 

**Before we jump in – as a reminder I am not a therapist or mental health professional. If you are experiencing mental or physical health struggles please do not use this blog as a replacement for medical care**

The Plan 

Be Nice 

This is going to sound obvious but BE NICE TO YOURSELF THIS IS A GLOBAL PANDEMIC! Treat yourself like you would a friend. If a friend was tired would you make them keep working? No (I hope), you would let them rest! Treat yourself the same way. 

Which brings me to the next part of the plan…

Say No (Strategically)

I’m a big “yes” person. I love taking big leaps, making jumps, doing ALL the things, but if I want to have the energy for the important things I have to say no…sometimes. So now I ask myself what the benefits of saying yes are and if it is worth the physical or emotional labor to do the thing. 

And when you say no DO NOT FEEL GUILTY! For me, the hardest part of saying no is the guilt and the should’s so if you need to revisit the shoulding yourself post and STOP. Ok? Ok! 

Take Time Off 

If you are *lucky* enough to still be employed during this pandemic DO NOT FORGET TO USE YOUR PTO! Take vacation days, take days off at home, and if you are getting sick time take a mental health day and rest. You do not have to go anywhere to use PTO, you can vacation in your home! Some staycation ideas: 

  • At home spa day! (bath, candles, face masks, meditation, spa music, pull out the essential oil diffuser – go all in the “self-care” items if they make you feel refreshed)
  • A PJ day! Stay home, put on some day time PJs and watch movies in your jammies all day. It’s almost like a snow or foggy day when you were a kid. 
  • Holiday Movie Day! Take a day and marathon your favorite holiday films! Pull out the hot chocolate or whatever you are into. 
  • Try a new hobby! Have you been watching people bake quarantine bread and want to try? Or you’re dying to try a paint by numbers but never have the time or you’re too tired after work? Order your supplies and take a day off to play. 
  • DO NOTHING. One of my favorite ways to spend a day off is to give myself permission to do nothing. Do I actually do nothing? No, of course not, I always end up wanting to do something BUT by giving myself permission to do nothing I somehow Jedi mind trick myself into being able to rest and follow my wants instead of my “to do” list. 

Give one or all of these a try! Take a week and come up with themed days! Do whatever sounds fun and relaxing to you – but please use your PTO! If you need help working on your work life balance sign up for a FREE consultation call so we can find a sweet spot for you. 

**A note for my unemployed friends: If you are out of work right now please please please take a little time for self care in between your job applications, resume edits and LinkedIn search binges. You do not have to spend every moment looking for a job. And if you need help with your resume, job search or figuring out what to do next please reach out for a FREE coaching consultation – I’m happy to help you create a plan that factors in time to rest and play! 

Little Moments of Self Care 

Regardless of your employment status, your PTO accruals or how often you take days off, take little moments throughout your day to check in with yourself or make yourself feel special.

Some of the ways I like to do this are: 

  • Drinking my water out of a wine glass so I feel fancy 
  • Fitting a meditation session into my day (most days – and I can always feel it when I skip a day) 
  • Writing a letter, note or kind message to someone who has helped you in some way (this makes me feel better and it usually makes someone elses day) 
  • Scheduling in walk breaks (our corgi does that for us in this household but if you don’t have a pet make sure you are getting yourself outside to exercise)
  • Starting my day with something that makes me happy (this is a new one for me but for the last couple days I’ve been trying to start my day by watching a video or consuming content or playing music that brings me joy and makes me feel good – 10/10 recommend) 
  • Bed Time Wind Down Routine: this is my newest item because I am mediocre at routine. I’ll be posting a vlog about this in the coming week and keep you updated on what has been helping me with this and what has not worked or been hard to accomplish. 

Conclusion 

There you go – this is my burnout prevention plan. Will it work for you? You tell me! But whatever you do and however you do it be SUPER KIND TO YOURSELF because we are all in an extended state of panic and it is exhausting. If you are one of those beautifully stoic people please take some time to honor the feelings beneath that strong front. And if you are someone who has emotions flowing out of them constantly please be kind to them and let them flow. 

You are allowed to feel overwhelmed, burnout, exhausted and like you need a break. So take one…or two…or as many as you can sneak in! 

Sending you all lot’s of love! 

Toxic Positivity Detox: How to Get Out of the Beautiful Lie

In case you missed my last post we are going on a toxic positivity detox! We have all been telling each other beautiful lies and it is time to pull back the curtain and get real! 

This topic is super important to me because in the coaching world there is a LOT of toxic positivity. I’ve had a coach tell me it’s all “mindset” or “I’ll get back whatever I am willing to invest” and while they may believe these statements they are wildly misleading. As someone who does believe that we can live in an abundant world I also understand that there is so much more to these cliches and everyone’s journey to success looks different. When we invest in ourselves we always get something back but it may not be financial and it may not look the same for us as it does for others. It’s a lot less sexy to say – but it’s true. 

As a coach I truly believe in the power of a positive mindset but I understand that it’s not the only ingredient to my clients success. Hard work, strategy, good timing, trial and error – they all play into our success. Doing something you love everyday makes the hard work feel easy but it’s still effort and energy you put into your growth. 

Our friend toxic positivity tells us that my statement above is pessimistic and #workhardplayhard always prevails so let’s dig into it. 

Toxic Positivity Defined

Toxic positivity is the overgeneralization that EVERYTHING and every experience must be viewed through a positive lens. When we participate in toxic positivity we mean well but usually we end up doing more damage than helping. 

This is because toxic positivity revokes authentic feelings. When we say things like “look at the brightside” we are asking people to not feel their negative emotions for the sake of our comfort – because we want to HELP! We put our need to feel like we have “fixed” people over their need to process their emotions. It is not fair! 

Think about it – when you complain to a friend and they tell you something like “everything happens for a reason” do you honestly feel any better? I don’t!

To detox from this we need to work on responding authentically, asking about how our statements make people feel, actively listening or setting boundaries around when we can take on emotional labor from others. 

It’s Ok to Say “No” or  “Not Right Now”

I used to be REALLY bad at saying no. This is not an admirable trait because it causes burnout, makes people bitter and usually made me into a shitty friend. Instead of saying no to people I would agree to help and lack the ability to pay attention or run out of energy to take care of myself. It was toxic, it’s not a good idea and it’s why we always need to put ourselves first. 

We also need to be ok with setting boundaries. It is ok to not have the energy to actively listen to someone. To handle this appropriately we just need to be honest. You are always welcome to say something like “I’m really sorry this is happening to you. Right now I am unable to engage in this conversation but I want you to know that I support you.” We can offer resources to them such as online counseling or coaching, other friends that may be available or a better time to chat with them. We can have boundaries and still be actively engaged in our friendships. We cannot pretend to listen, through some cliches at people and then let ourselves feel like we “fixed” the problem (because we all love that sweet dopamine hit of being the saviour)!

Happy to Help 

If we are in the space to listen to and comfort our friends we need to do exactly that. LISTEN and COMFORT. 

Some people love hearing anecdotes of times when the same thing happened to you, others just need to vent and others might just want to sit in silence together and process silently but with your company. None of these are wrong – but unless you are a Jedi you might struggle to read their mind. 

Normalize asking people what kind of support they would like or need. It is ok to ask and if they don’t know or are too worked up to decide try active listening and see where the conversation goes. 

A quick lesson on active listening! Active listening is a way to show that you are engaged, focused and willing to support the person talking to you. You can practice active listening by repeating back to people what they say, nodding, asking questions that engage the speaker in the conversation, withholding judgement and clarifying.

This does NOT mean you need to overthink the conversation or not talk about yourself at all. Instead it is a reminder to think of the best way to support your friends instead of spewing cliches at them. It’s a reminder to have a REAL conversation where you listen instead of lecturing your friend.

Ready to embark on this detox with me? Hold me accountable and if you ask I’ll hold you accountable to it too! 

Media Consumption Boundaries

I am in a vicious game of Hungry Hungry Hippos (media consumption wise). I’m in desperate need of some media boundaries and conscious consumption. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Our Social Distancing Summer is making it easier than ever to sit behind our screens and consume the never ending marbles of information. Between Twitter trends, Instagram stories, Facebook arguments with racist relatives and the never ending, never sleeping news cycle this consumption is EXHAUSTING. 

I feel myself believing that I can’t stop eating the marbles. I can’t stop consuming.

Why? 

Because if I stop consuming I fall behind. I will no longer know what is going on. I may even be disconnected. 

On the occasions I do disconnect, I feel guilty because it’s a privilege to be able to forget for a little while. 

Obviously, this is unsustainable. So how do we stop eating all the marbles without falling behind with the news? 

Boundaries and Conscious Consumption

Boundaries 

Boundaries are a hot topic in the self help world. Every self help blog, book or Ted Talk I’ve consumed has mentioned them. Unfortunately, we hear a lot about them but we usually don’t get a full picture on them. Let’s break them down together before we move on. 

Boundaries, by definition, are limits we set based on how we want to interact with people or things. Setting healthy boundaries allows us to protect ourselves from the energy other people or things may require from us. They can be time limits, physical limits, emotional space, or mental limits. 

The important thing with boundaries is to remember that we set them to take care of ourselves NOT to burden ourselves with “shoulds” or pointless rules. 

My new and improved media consumption boundaries are: 

  • Screen time limit of 5 hours in a day on my phone (this includes Facetime because that is still phone screen time) 
  • 1 hour of each social media app per day 
  • 1 hour of additional news consumption 
  • No engaging or sharing content that includes violence against BIPOC or minorities

These limits are what work for me but remember to customize your boundaries to you! If you live alone maybe up that screen time option so you have more time to Facetime friends and family. Or maybe you’re really good about not being on your phone but you watch CNN 24/7 and you need to limit the number of news broadcasts you watch. Whatever works for you! 

*Reminder: Do not quit your boundaries just because you make a mistake or consume more media than intended. Some days I only use 3 hours of screen time, other days I use 6, either way I just try again the next day. 

Conscious Consumption 

Now that I have my boundaries in place I can prioritize conscious consumption. To do this I *try* to remember to ask myself the following questions: 

  • Is this serving me in any way? (Ways include but not limited to: joy, knowledge or entertainment) 
  • How is this media making me feel about myself?
  • If I were to have missed this media would I be uneducated on current events?
  • Is there more to learn on this subject or am I obsessively consuming content trying to make sense of something I have no control over? 

The list goes on and on but the sentiments are the same. I want to make sure I’m consuming things that are either essential or helpful to my mental or physical well being. If consuming certain pieces of media make me feel like shit (looking at you diet culture) and they are not essential or useful knowledge for me, I put effort into not consuming them. 

If anything or anyone I watch or engage with starts to make me feel negatively towards myself I put it down. 

Your Turn 

If you have been struggling with media consumption or if you have been working from home and feel the need to be “on” or available all the time, I encourage you to give boundary setting and conscious consumption a try. 

Social Distance Summer Reading List

Your reading List Is Here!

Summer is here and social distancing is still encouraged, which means it is time for our sweet summer reading list (with a social distance twist) to make a comeback. 

I am a lover of literature. In fact, when I read, it can appear as if I am full on attacking the book. Brenton has described the way I read books as “gobbling” and my entire family knows not to mess with me while I’m reading. 

Summer Reading List Fun

As a kid, one of my favorite things about summer was the unlimited and uninterrupted time to read. I would check out books from the library weekly (like Matilda), read everything in the house if I ran out of library books, and for the majority of my formative years I got to go to Harry Potter midnight book releases at my local mall bookstore (which was by far my favorite event of the summer). 

I’ll stop now before this becomes a love letter to books but needless to say I think books are the most magical inanimate objects that we get to spend our time with. Being literate is a damn privilege. 

Reading Resolutions

I know a lot of you may not share my romance towards paper friends but I also know that one of the most common New Year resolutions people make is to READ MORE. 

So, since we have all this time at home, nowhere to go, and access to the world wide web I’m going to share with you my top fiction literary friends for big kids (or adults depending on how you see yourself). 

One last thing for those of you who “don’t like to read” or may not have time. Have you given audiobooks a try? I’ve got an affiliate link with audible located below. Give it a try before you write off the magic of books completely!

*Links in this post are affiliate links.

The Fiction Reading List

Harry Potter

I can’t create a book list without including my tried and true literary best friend. If I could reread one book series for the first time and relive the magic of uncovering all the details this would be it. I don’t care how old you are, if your mother told you this series is evil, or if you hate fantasy – this is a well written, fully developed, deeply rooted in our current environment series. If you have skipped out on reading the series because you “watched the movies,” YOU MISSED OUT – read them. I beg of you. 

I spent an entire summer as a pre-teen trying to figure out what would happen in the 7th book of this series and you, you lucky little unicorn, you get to read them all back to back. Enjoy! The series starts light (books 1-3), delves into the darker subjects (books 4 and 5), then takes a deep dive into the tragedies of living in a society that would rather accept the status quo than accept that evil lives among them (books 6 and 7). I revisit this series every time I need a boost in my faith in humanity. Hogwarts is my literary home away from home. The importance of choosing to live a life of love when the world feels bleak is the golden thread of this series. Dig in! 

“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.”

Little Fires Everywhere

A custody battle, family arguments and a mystery on who started the fire. This is a modern classic packed with detail and care. A statement about the ignorance behind the idea of a post-racial world is poignant. The story takes place in the 90’s and reminds us of how far we’ve come – and how far we still have to go.

The Female Persuasion: A Novel 

Another tried and true classic of mine. I posted a blog post about this book when I read it a couple years back and I still think about the plot. Wolitzer is able to create REAL characters in all of her works and this novel is no exception. This book delves into the generational differences of the women’s rights movement and the fight that we are still embodying today. 

The characters are robust, the plot is both political and personal and this is a work of art with great importance.

Their Eyes Were Watching God

I read this masterpiece in high school and I still think about it often. The writing is lyrical, the story is so profoundly independent and the pace is steady throughout the novel. This is a peak into a life that, as a white woman in the 21st century, I could not have imagined. Books like this are why it is so crucial to read literature from BIPOC authors.

Anna Karenina

If modern literature isn’t your thing here is a Russian classic. Honestly, this is the best novel I have ever read. There’s a city mouse, country mouse like drama, failed romances and the tragedy of passionless relationships. The human experience in all forms.

Conclusion

I’ve started with some chunky reads so I’m going to leave you here for now. Leave a comment or send me a message if you would like to see more or have a non-fiction summer reading list added. 

Happy Reading!!

Harry Potter Inspired Self Care (Part 2)

Like I shared last week, I just finished re-reading the entire Harry Potter series as an act of self care. My mood has been messy and my brain has been a bit chaotic so I’ve been using my favorite series as inspiration for my self-care activities. By Harry Potter self care I do not mean taking Gryffindor themed bubble baths, creating shrines to Cedric Diggory or donning the sorting hat to advise us. Instead I want to instill in my self-care the values and tips shared throughout the books. 

But now that I think about it the sorting hat can be a fun metaphor for meditation!

So without further ado here are the rest of my Harry Potter self-care tips. Use them well and use them wisely.

Pensive (journal) 

“Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it” -Albus Dumbledore

This quote applies to others and ourselves. The way we use our words and talk to ourselves can help or heal us. I highly recommend the self-care practice of keeping a journal and re-writing any negative or harmful thoughts into something positive. 

The pensive is a perfect analogy for a journal. It is a basin that the wizards are able to use to pull thoughts out of their heads and watch them from a third party view. It’s all about perspective. When we put our thoughts on paper we begin to see them outside of ourselves similar to the effect of a pensive. 

Harry Potter & Puzzle Solving in the Bath

I’m a big bath person. I love bubbles, salts, candles, the whole works and it appears Cedric Diggory is as well. During the Tri-Wizard tournament Cedric gives Harry a hint on how to solve his egg puzzle – and it’s all about the bath.

By sitting in the tub, relaxing, being interrupted by Moaning Myrtle and then going underwater Harry figures out his clue. I personally adopt this practice (minus Moaning Myrtle) anytime I need to mull something over. The bath is a perfect spot to sit and think. 

Great Leaders are Handed Power

“Perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well”

Have you ever been put in charge of a group or project and immediately wondered why you? Leadership isn’t just CEO’s, high ranking officials and voluntary leaders – it’s also found in the people who did not ask for power or leadership but nevertheless are asked to take it on. 

The best bosses and leaders I’ve met are people who are not necessarily power hungry but who actually want to simply help others and somehow ended up in leadership. Leadership is not about status – it’s about influence. 

These are the last of my Harry Potter Self-Care pull yourself out of a rut tips! Take what you like, leave what you don’t and maybe mull them over in a bath. Have any additional tips? Leave them in the comments! 

*I am not a therapist or licensed medical professional. This does not replace the advice of a certified medical professional. Always work with a legitimate professional when it comes to your health.

Harry Potter Inspired Self Care (Part 1)

I’ve just binge read the Harry Potter series for the millionth time as an act of self care. These last couple (ten) weeks have had me visiting every emotion. I’m up, I’m down, I’m excited, I’m claustrophobic. My brain has been messy.

When things get chaotic in my brain I rely on EASY TO REMEMBER and instant gratification tricks to help me get back in the zone. Revisiting an old literary friend is one of my coping mechanisms – it’s chicken soup for my nerdy soul.

Video for all my auditory learners!

Every time I revisit my favorite wizarding school I pick up a new nugget of wisdom and this time I got hit over the head with a bludger of ideas of Harry Potter self-care. By Harry Potter self-care, I do not mean taking Gryffindor themed bubble baths, creating shrines to Cedric Diggory or donning the sorting hat to advise us. Instead I want to instill in my self-care the values and tips shared throughout the books. 

So without further ado here are my Harry Potter self-care tips. Use them well and use them wisely. 

Harry Potter and the Healing power of Chocolate

“Well, he should have some chocolate at the very least.” – Madam Pomfrey 

Professor Lupin provides us with my favorite antidote – Chocolate. Chocolate heals. Chocolate milk, chocolate bars, chocolate bunnies – you name it I think it’s healing. If you’re not a chocolate person use this as a reason to give yourself a luxurious treat – and that doesn’t have to be food! A bubble bath, a movie night in, a glass of good wine – whatever fills you with a little warmth inside to help keep you happy. 

Pocket Patronus

“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them.” – Lupin

Self-doubt, negative self talk, gossip and fear are just muggle dementors. How do you get rid of a dementor? A patronus. For those of us that haven’t made it to NEWT level Defence Against the Dark Arts, to cast a patronus you have to think of the happiest thought you can summon. As a muggle I like to use this to practice coming up with pocket happy memories or thoughts. 

To do this I think of my happiest memory or a location I’ve been happy in or a person I love. I’ve actually written these down and I will revisit them or try to think about them anytime a negative Nancy comes my way. Expecto Patronum negative thoughts. 

Boggarts

Make fear riddikulus and confuse fear by not facing it alone. A boggart, for those of us who may not remember, is a creature that takes the shape of the biggest fear of whoever is standing in front of it. For each person the boggart would take a different shape. In the books/movies, Harry’s boggart turns into a dementor because his biggest fear is fear itself (very FDR of him). Laughter is the only way to get rid of a boggart so to fight one the attacker must imagine their biggest fear becoming something funny while stating the incantation “Riddikulus”. Boggarts also struggle to come to their form if they are facing more than one person so when fear comes along turn it into something funny and if you can – bring a buddy. 

One of my personal boggarts is the fear of failure so to combat it I imagine the most ridiculous set of experiences leading to my failure in whatever I am working on – it sounds a little counterintuitive but it always makes me laugh. 

These are just a few of my Harry Potter self-care tips. I’ve got a few more up my sleeve. Please leave a comment and let me know if you want to hear more of them! Keep safe and sane! 

*I am not a therapist or licensed medical professional. This does not replace the advice of a certified medical professional. Always work with a legitimate professional when it comes to your health.

But Really Though, I’m Addicted to Plants

Welcome to my Apartment Gardening Adventure!

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that I have a plant problem (read: addiction). What started as a few succulents and an annual purchase of a mini Christmas tree at Trader Joe’s has rapidly morphed to a collection of green children.

I think this might all be my mother’s fault. She is a plant fanatic and has an amazing garden. She has gone so far as to dig up bulbs from my grandmother’s garden to plant at home. Then again, maybe she got it from her mother and we are just a family with an affinity for horticulture. Either way, I’m all in on plants. 

My new children are: 

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Prayer plant & my new favorite candle from Bath & Body Works.

Prayer plant: my Granny always had one of these in her back bedroom and I was mesmerized by the movement it makes throughout the day. It is also pet friendly which makes it perfect for our home. 

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I solely picked this plant based on it being dog friendly & pretty. No regrets.

Tradescantia Zebrina: I found this plant on Bloomscape and it just looked fun. I’m a big fan of its purple leaves. It’s also happy with low light and is pet friendly so another win in our book. 

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Found this snake plant at my local nursery where I accidentally bought more fertilizer instead of potting soil…

Snake plant: recent purchase but another pet friendly houseplant. I liked this guy because he was little enough for a shelf but long enough to make a statement. I purchased him at our local nursery. 

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House plant in the back with my poor sweet marigold & vinca prior to their untimely demise.

Houseplant: honestly no idea what this guy is called but I like how he looks. I do not think he is pet friendly so he lives up on the bathroom counter where corgi paws cannot reach.

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Fun fact: my first orchid fell in a toilet and continued to live for another year..they are resilient af.

Orchid: I usually buy an orchid every time we move. The last one we had was from a farmers market and died during the SB fires but this one seems to be doing just fine.  

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Pearls on the far left, Trader Joe’s succulents in the middle and poor marigold & vinca prior to their demise due to me buying the wrong potting soil.

Succulents: My only, surviving, outdoor plants right now. They prefer to be ignored and honestly that’s the best kind of plant in my opinion. 

Pearls: they get their own honorable mention because they are so fun looking. 

Lavender (not pictured): I joined our local nursery and bought a lavender…Brenton then dropped it on its head but one week in its looking okay! I’ll give an update once we know if I have killed it with my plant murdering brown thumb in a week or so. 

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Prior to its untimely death this is my marigold.
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And here is poor, dying vinca.

Vinca & Marigold: These were the cutest flowers I bought but they did not survive. See photos for evidence. 

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Famer Herman checking on his crops.

Honestly, houseplants are the best. I set a weekly reminder to water my houseplants & succulents and occasionally spray them with water if they look a little dry. I’m loving how the greenery improves my mood and that they help clear the air in the house. Any suggestions for what plants I should try next?