An Old Journal Post

Hello all! It has been quite a while since I posted in this blog..but that’s life for you! I hope to resume writing posts soon and share life’s experiences with all of you.

Today I wanted to show you excerpts of a journal entry I wrote on 12/31/2013. It was roughly 4 years ago that I wrote this and right before the new year, 2014, kicked in. Hope it gives you some inspiration!

It is 12:13 AM and I am sitting in my room. Boy, I just went over one of the older journal entries and it is funny just how much life changes year to year. I am deciding, for the first time, to not make resolutions this year. Every year I make resolutions, they barely go through. I feel like I have already started so many resolutions within the past year that I should just continue them. So in a nontraditional manner, I am not going to make 2014 resolutions, but am going to reflect on what I learned in 2013 and why, in my opinion, it was the most fruitful year for my evolution and growth.

I learned that not everyone is meant to stay in your life, and even some that stay in your life are not meant to stay there forever. In reality, the only thing that is constant in my life is me. I learned that you should focus your time and energy on the people that will help you grow into a better person and not let you fall back into bad habits. I also learned that some people are meant to be there in your life for only a phase and will help you get through that phase, but then their expiration date appears. I am forever grateful for both those people that do and don’t have an expiration date because they taught me this important lesson and have helped me become who I am today.

I learned that social media shouldn’t dictate your life. I used to be so upset if no one liked my status or if no one responded back to me, but I don’t care anymore. I use social media because I am simply a social person. I am not trying to become famous, get compliments, or have a reason to get an inflated ego, but I use it as a way to see what others are up to. I admit, I get jealous at times and sometimes I think I bring that upon myself, but I have learned the important lesson that social media doesn’t define you unless you let it define you.

I learned that gratitude goes a long way. I started a gratitude journal in November and started a daily writing journal in August and I swear that by doing both, I have seen a significant improvement in my life. I don’t mean improvement as in my life got better, but improvement as in my way of thinking has changed. I used to be so negative and my attitude would make me see the world in a negative light, but the act of daily gratitude has changed all of that. Now things that usually upset me either don’t upset me at all or upset me considerably less. Of course I am human and I am not perfect, so I have my days where I become very sensitive and all my walls are brought down, but I can happily say for the most part that gratitude has really changed my life.

I learned that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, and I can attest to that myself. I have learned in 2013 that, along with gratitude, forgiveness goes a long way. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily need to vocally involve the other person, but just forgiving someone can let the mind be at peace. I learned to try not to stay angry at people if they’ve wronged me in any way. Everyone is trying their best to be a good person and are doing what it takes to make themselves happy, even if it hurts you in the process. I do the same to others and stay positive that they forgive me too, and usually they do. I know. Sometimes it’s better to try to understand how someone else feels in a situation and try to step into their shoes, which goes hand in hand with gratitude for me. I feel like a lot of situations that would’ve normally really upset me, ended up making me feel gratitude for other people or scenarios.

I learned in 2013 that sometimes letting go is the best thing to do for yourself. Not necessarily in personal relationships, but in every day decisions. I learned to not stay too attached to the outcome of a scenario or whatever your mind creates, because sometimes the unknown shows you how beautiful it is. Now I try not to stay too attached to scenarios, especially if I am just assuming something. Sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for yourself, and if the situation involves other people, it can be the best thing for them. I have let go of anything that is holding me back against my potential in life and my life has drastically improved with learning this.

Most importantly, I learned a lot about myself in 2013. I learned what makes me happy, what makes me sad, and learned what makes me curious. I learned that I am a strong and independent person, but am very loyal at the same time. I am loyal to my family and I am loyal to those I consider friends. I strive to see the best in everyone and try to make other people smile. I am a good person and I know I have a good heart. I know my self-worth and know that I deserve to be appreciated, loved, and cared for. I am really happy with who I have become and even though I still have a ways to go, I have started the climb to the peak. Here’s to 2014 and continuing that climb.

Much love and hope everyone is doing well!

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A Delivery of Calm Every Month

Hope everyone has been doing well. I am grateful that the first day of spring is fast approaching (I even have a countdown on the front of the blog website) and the days are starting to feel longer! Even though my¬†internal clock has been a little off, I am grateful to have the sun shining longer. For those of you in the midst of the snowpocalypse on the east coast, please stay safe and warm! This is a fantastic time for self-care, especially the warm and cozy kind. ūüôā

As you may have noticed, I am a big supporter of self-care and engaging in mental, spiritual, and physical activities that make you feel better. One of the new self-care strategies I’ve recently tried is a subscription box. I have heard of people getting subscription boxes for razors, geeky gear, beauty products, coffee, spices, etc, but I really wanted to get one that would¬†be focused on self-care. That’s when I came across calmbox, a monthly subscription box that promotes mindfulness and self-care. The subscription box includes 5-8 carefully selected items that may range from¬†inspiring books, music, tea, candles, natural minerals and crystals, aromatic herbs, motivational reminders, physical de-stressers, and much more. Even better, a portion of the proceeds from the monthly subscription goes to a different organization or¬†charity selected for that¬†month.

I decided to make this a Valentine’s Day gift to myself (treat yo’self!) and subscribed in February. I received it on Valentine’s Day, which was perfect timing not only because of the particular day, but because it was during a time when a pick-me-up would have been very much¬†appreciated. Receiving the calmbox was like a perfectly timed reminder that I needed to take a moment to¬†slow down¬†and take care of myself.

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I literally used every single item that was included in the box. I (still) read from the Self-meditation book every day since it includes tips and reminders for mindfulness. I light the incense cones¬†on days when I feel especially tense since the smell of sandalwood, lavender, and geranium instantly produces a feeling of¬†calm (and makes the home smell amazing). The tea tree mint soap¬†made my morning showers more calming and the essential oils in the soap with the steam was like a home spa treatment. I loved lighting the lavender candle at night to help promote better sleep. I had the lavender + chamomile tea¬†packets whenever I felt like reading a¬†book and cozying up in bed. The lemon and raspberry hard candies were instantly consumed by my boyfriend and I and were so addicting that i’ll likely always have these in the apartment at all times. ūüôā I love knowing that I have all these calming products during those days that stress will play a big role. I see it as a way of treating myself¬†and feel excited knowing that i’ll have a little box of surprises (in a positive way) coming my way every month. Having something to look forward can always help brighten the mood.

As March approached, I was eagerly awaiting for the “your calmbox is on its way!” e-mail so I could keep track of when it would arrive. It arrived earlier this week and contained a new set of awesomely mindful products that i’ll be using on a daily basis this month.

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Every box comes with a cute information card that describes each item in the box and also has a nice mindfulness reminder/intention to think about. ūüôā

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I am so excited to use these products! It’s nice knowing that I have treated myself to a self-care package and will have a great set of items that’ll help with those (inevitable) days when I need a little pick-me-up.

Interested in trying out calmbox? Get your first box for $5 off by using the coupon code NINA. 

Hope you all have a fantastic rest of your week and have a fun St. Patrick’s Day!

Let Go of Being Perfect

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you enjoyed the holiday season and stayed warm and cozy if you happen to be in a cold climate this time of year. ūüôā The holiday season, for me, was one chock full of love, fun, and cheer, but also included a lot of tough reflections about myself I had to embrace, accept, and plan to change for the better. One of the thoughts¬†that I kept ruminating over and over in my head was my innate desire to always be perfect and my struggle in being able¬†to let things go. Funny enough, I didn’t even realize¬†that I had been¬†holding off writing this blog post for fear that it wouldn’t be “good enough” for people¬†to read. Thank you, Kristen, for inspiring me to finally get this out topic out of my head and into words, perfect or not. ūüôā

So if you look around social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc) you’ll often find at least something that involves “letting go”..heck, you’ll even find shirts, mugs, and jewelry that people use as a reminder to let go of whatever it is that they need to. So what does it mean to¬†let things go? I don’t mean literally throwing things away (Though there is a huge advantage to decluttering) or letting a balloon/kite go up in the sky (That DOES¬†sound fun! No, don’t stop writing and go find a kite to fly..), but I mean letting go of what brings harm and negativity into your life. To me, there is no limit or expectation as to what you can or should let go of. In my life, I’ve made it a goal to let go of thoughts, objects, past mistakes, behaviors, and people that do my life more harm than good.

This struggle with being able to let go¬†isn’t new for me at all, but has been one I’ve been mentally struggling with for as long as I can remember. It’s been very easy for me to let go of objects and people, but negative thoughts, past mistakes, and behaviors has been much more of a difficult journey. If you were a reader of my old blog,¬†I wrote two¬†articles, one in March 2014 and one in January 2015, that¬†were¬†relevant to this topic and included one of the many antidotes I’ve personally found helpful¬†in taking the steps to let go of perfectionism: self-compassion.

In my old articles,¬†I emphasize a situation of a friend coming up to you feeling upset about something they failed at, made a mistake at, and/or did a sub par job of. Let’s imagine this friend coming up to you in the following scenario:

Friend:¬†I made a mistake doing [insert task here] and now I feel stupid and like a failure. I’ll never be good at [insert goal here].

What would you say back to this friend?

A)¬†It’s okay, dear friend! None of us are perfect. We are all doing the best we can, like you did, and now you can learn from your mistake and try again. You’re doing great and don’t give up!

or

B) Yep, you are a failure and stupid too. Why aren’t you perfect?!?! You should just give up trying your best, dwell on your mistake over and over again, and might as well catastrophize the worst case scenario for this stupid mistake you made.

Chances are you chose A¬†and showed compassion¬†and kindness to your friend and did what you could to comfort him/her. (If you chose¬†B,¬†please click “x” on the top right of your window browser and go see a therapist ASAP. Ok, just kidding, but not really…at least go pet some fluffy little animals and think about some things.)

So why is it that we can show others so much love and compassion, but we struggle to show ourselves love and compassion in the same way? Perfectionism is essentially a built-in tool for failure because we will never be perfect, no matter hard we try. Perfectionism is an energy drainer that sucks out energy we could use for so many other productive activities or people in life. Why should we even want to be perfect? Making mistakes and being imperfect is what drives us to grow and change our lives for the better. Being imperfect gives us a reason to become mentally stronger and more resilient. Being imperfect is a quality that we, as humans, share and bring us together through our families, friendships, support groups, online message boards, social media, and more that we use for love and support during hard times.

With all of this being said, I’ve made 2017 the year of¬†self-care and self-compassion. It’s about time we show ourselves the same compassion we show¬†others and treat ourselves with kindness. We, together, can¬†strive¬†to let go of the belief that we are¬†not good enough, imperfect, or¬†deeply¬†flawed.

I challenge you to have an internal conversation with yourself when you start having self-defeating thoughts and ask yourself, “If my friend came up to me feeling upset about this situation, what would I say to him/her?”¬†So, instead of¬†wasting our energy on thinking about¬†our failures, here are some things I’ve found to be helpful (and more beneficial) to do with that energy:

  • Start a gratitude/bullet journal — I am SUPER excited to start my new bullet journal! I plan on making bullet lists of what i’m grateful for, activities I can do when I start thinking negatively, positive affirmations, fun books I plan on reading, activities/trips I want to do/go on, hobbies I want to try, recipes I want to make, people that¬†I can call when feeling upset, etc. Use it as a way to refocus your thoughts on activities and people in life that bring you joy. ūüôā¬†Find out how to start one¬†here¬†and find more ideas on bullet page lists here.
  • Keep a list of qualities¬†you like about yourself and things you’ve done that you’re proud of – This can be included in the bullet journal above as a page! Make copies of this list and keep it¬†in areas that you have access to–your purse/bag, on your cell phone, in a document on your Computer, in your¬†pillow, etc. Whenever you start finding yourself being flooded with self-defeating thoughts, remind yourself of what you’re proud of and all the great things you’ve done. ūüôā
  • Set some healthy goals for yourself¬†– Instead of focusing on what you lack, focus on healthy things that¬†you can add into your lifestyle and let go of ones that do you harm. As¬†an example, I’ve made it a goal to exercise for at least 30 min 3x a week (anything that gets me off the couch/apartment and moving) and to cook¬†more healthy meals. I’ve also told myself I want to meditate every day, even if for 5 minutes. On the flip side, I want to let go of unhealthy eating habits¬†and cut down caffeine intake (Don’t worry, I still love coffee!) and sugar consumption.¬†The key is to not be hard on yourself if you don’t meet your expectations. So what if I have an especially tiring week and I need to catch up on¬†sleep? No problem! So what if during this same tiring week¬†I don’t have the energy to cook healthy meals and want to just have mac n’ cheese and ice cream? I’ll happily have that mac n’ cheese/ice cream and not beat myself up about it, but re-frame it as an act of self-care for an especially tiring week.¬†Show yourself that same¬†love and compassion that you’d show a friend who is¬†upset at not meeting his/her expectations.
  • Schedule some self-care time during the week – I have dedicated¬†a whole Pinterest board¬†to self-care activities as part of my 2017 resolution. What does self-care time mean?¬†This¬†means you will¬†set aside time in your busy schedule to do something for YOU. Not anyone else, but you. It can be as little as 5 minutes to a whole day in the weekend, maybe even the whole weekend.¬†This is where it’d be helpful to have a list of things you enjoy doing. Maybe it just entails listening to your favorite song or taking a short walk outside. Maybe it means watching a guilty pleasure of a TV show or reading a book you haven’t had time for. It could simply mean closing your eyes and meditating. Whatever self-care is to you, try to make that a priority at least 1x a week even if it’s for a few minutes, even 1x a day if you can manage it! We all lead such busy lives, and this can be especially difficult to balance¬†when other family members and children are involved, but it’s important to take time to recharge your own battery so that you can truly be present for the loved ones in your life.
  • Start a journal/exercises to challenge self-defeating thoughts you have – I read this great book last year by Dr. David Burns called Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy¬†and, I have to say, it did a number on making me more aware of my thoughts (Here’s a TEDx talk by him too).¬†One of the things I remember most from his book is how to defeat ANTs, or automatic negative thoughts, and how challenging them¬†could be useful in our everyday lives (whether clinically diagnosed with a mood disorder or not). For every self-defeating thought you have, challenge it with a TRUE statement. Often, our self-defeating thoughts are misrepresented facts that¬†are influenced by our emotions at the time. Here’s an example of challenging an ANT:

ANT: I said something insensitive to Person X and accidentally hurt their feelings. I am a bad person and don’t deserve to have their friendship/relationship/etc.

ANTI-ANT: ¬†I said something that this person found insensitive, but that was not my intention at all. I care about this person and meant no harm. I will apologize if I haven’t already and¬†will not let this define who I am because I know it doesn’t reflect who I am.

So, instead of making the ANT start an endless cycle of why you’re [insert negative criticism here], stop the cycle and state a true fact. (Disclaimer: For this and the other suggestions I made in this post, if ANT exercises/journaling end up doing more harm than good and doesn’t help, then stop and let it go.)

  • Seek help –¬†This 100% goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism. It’s easy to¬†fall into the trap that “you’re crazy”and imperfect/flawed/insertcriticismshere¬†if you seek professional mental help. This may especially be the case if you are inherently¬†hard on yourself, but you absolutely not crazy for seeking¬†mental help when you need it. I repeat, you are are not crazy for wanting to improve your quality of life and trying to make positive changes for yourself.¬†If your perfectionism and self-defeating thoughts have started to take¬†a toll on your daily life and nothing (like the examples above) seems¬†to help over the long run, it’s okay to seek help outside of your support network of family and friends. I’ve done it (no¬†shame at all and happy to talk about it!) and I know many others that have done the same¬†at some point in their lives. Your well-being and quality of life matters and¬†doesn’t deserve to be sacrificed for the fear of what others might think.

It’s about time we all embrace the fact¬†that we will always be¬†perfectly imperfect¬†and strive to show ourselves the same love and compassion that we,¬†so openly, give to others. Much love to you all and wishing you a New Year full of¬†love (the self-love¬†kind, too) and care!