Day 27: Protect Your Energy!

My 500 Words

Do you follow your soul? I think I do most of the time, but I have learned over time that my interpretation of my soul can actually be from a different source within me. Sometimes, it is a place of panic or fear dressed as the soul. The soul is never panicked. The soul knows there is plenty of time.

I have been going through some frustrations over a friend I have known most of my life and a growing realization of the nature of said friendship. It hasn’t always been a nurturing or growing relationship, and while I knew this, I chose to ignore it for most of my life. That said, current conditions have led me to interact with or around this person quite a bit lately. It has led me both to insanity and since a greater sense of clarity. So for that, I am grateful.

The situation had me angry pretty often and feeling very misused and taken for granted, not a brand new feeling in this particular friendship. I am not sure if it was the moment, the situation, or something else, but I hit the wall of what I can tolerate. I have almost entirely stopped taking calls from them and others. I find calls to be a deeply intrusive part of my day…like this better be an emergency. We can communicate by text and I don’t have to halt my life to listen to someone breathe.

Now that I think about it, this was something I blogged about towards the beginning of the challenge, prioritizing the time of others and my relationships over myself. Perhaps this is just a step in the right direction. When my phone rings, I think of a pretty picture with words that a friend sent me on instagram…”I reserve the right to protect my energy.” And, I do. I reserve the goddamn right to protect my fricken peace and my fricken energy. Because that shit is beautiful and it runs out some days. So, I need to make sure I have enough of it to last.

So, I have taken on this mindset that my time matters and that I alone can choose how to spend it. In this, I have let a lot of my anger go. When I took responsibility for answering that phone call at an inconvenient hour or stopping what I was doing to be a therapist, I realized I could stop. Immediately. Without anything terrible happening to anyone. She probably just called someone else. In doing this, I have let go of so much anger surrounding her and this situation. It was a gift, but I was too busy taking care of my time and my energy to notice.

Another friend of mine, however, did notice. We were chatting on the phone (after I called her back at a better time :)) and she asked about the situation. I told her that it was status quo but that it was fine. I told her I let go of the outcome, of how everything shakes out…and that I felt better about it. I didn’t think much of it, but she was so impressed. She commended me on how I seemed to be handling the situation.

I didn’t do it for anyone to think I did a good job. I just did it for myself, and it took my friend asking me for me to see how far I have come. Claps all around for protecting your energy. Keep that up lasses and lads!

 

Day 25: Anotha Day Anotha Dollarr

My 500 Words

Yesterday, I was challenged regarding a few of my goals. It was 9:00 PM and I hadn’t done my blog post or my workout for the day. I have completed 6 weeks of my workout, without skipping, and have also completed 25 days (as of today) of blogging 500 words every day. I was not going to let one day of procrastination stop me. I could have let it slide. I could have not done either one. Instead, I did them both… not my best…but not my worst. AND, I did it. I didn’t abandon my goal because it became difficult. Proud! I am happy about it, and it made me feel better instantly.

I have been doing a lot of listening and thinking about accessing the inner voice. And, it has been an interesting exercise for me. It has, however, made writing harder. It has made it harder to find a blog topic on anything else because I am thinking so much about this. I think it is making me better, though, and more aware. I like that.

I asked my inner voice questions last night and had an interesting experience surrounding it. I found the mind resisting my accessing this part of me and the ensuing panic. After a moment of accepting the panic, I felt a deeper knowing in my soul..in my heart. I knew the answer to this particular question was a “no”. It is an answer that I already knew but I find my mind resisting, maybe to help protect me from the world’s possibilities. My mind wants to keep me on my toes to protect me, but it doesn’t need to. It is OK as it is. I am OK and can trust myself, despite the messages from the world. I can’t control this. I can only accept it inside and trust.

In addition to personal questions I had, I feel a greater peace surrounding my work and my career. I can do whatever I want, but I don’t need to do anything. I can seek out experiences in life, but I do not have to be so attached to outcomes. The ego wants success and accolades. The inner spirit wants acceptance, experience, and even fun. I plan to dive deeper into this voice and try to ignore my scared mind, trying so hard to protect me. The podcast I have been listening to refers to the mind as a protective parent of an adult child, well meaning but sometimes unnecessary. The mind can help with decisions and options, just like the protective parent, but the ultimate decision ought to lie with the adult child. Like the adult child, I have to find ways to navigate my life without yearning for the approval of others or the approval of society. I am successful in this moment because I am. Nothing else is needed. If I do something else because I want to, that is great, but it will not make me greater or less than I already am in this moment. And, that is a beautiful and wonderful reality to live in.

Tootles!

 

 

Day 18: Pizza and Ponders

My 500 Words

Last night, I ate a lot of terrible pizza and cheesy bread. Pizza, even when bad, it’s good. This was kind of like that. My man and I came home from a fun, little evening out and decided we had just enough of the giggle juice to order some pizza from a place we didn’t know. The pizza was awful. It was a gigantic culinary defeat, even to two drunk people about to fall asleep. That being said, we still ate the entire thing, not a single crust left over. Needless to say, we woke up wondering whyyyyy. Alas, the past is in the past, and the only option is to move forward.

Despite my terrible late-night dinner, too many sugary drinks, and white, salty bread pulsing through my veins, I found a lot of joy in my Sunday. It was a day like any other, except I laughed more. So, that is good. We went to Ikea and bought some new furniture, which was exhausting, But, due to man friend’s hangry feels, we were able to go to a vegan restaurant in a cool Denver neighborhood that I like. We ate lots of vegan food that made me happy and him hungry an hour later.

I am only writing about this because I am feeling tapped on writing inspiration for the moment. I don’t really want to write. I want to post this, close my computer, grab a snack, and watch something funny. That is all. But, I made a commitment to write 500 words of anything at all…doesn’t have to be good or interesting. So, sometimes I must resort to writing about writing.

One fun thing that happened today also was that I had a dance party by myself and broke down into a laughing fit that turned to tears. If I had let myself, I would have just started balling sad tears…without having a true catalyst. I think my laughing was a release and things got so released that I was opening all emotional floodgates. I stopped it so as not to terrify my boyfriend, but it was odd nonetheless. I think I was just dancing and being so silly that I cracked myself up…literally…I might be insane. Oh well, I love a good laugh. I prefer to do it with friends, but if I must do it alone, so be it. And now, just less than 100 words until evening freedom!

I am trying to be more in the present, with the help of spiritual leaders like Eckhart Tolle. Maybe that is why I found such joy in goofy dancing. Maybe that is what the moment can feel like. Maybe I was dealing with the dizziness of joy. I am not sure, but I do know that in less than 40 words, I will be moving on and having completed this day. I love Eckhart’s focus on separating yourself from your mind. Really powerful stuff. You do feel more in control when a thought it a thought and a thought is not YOU!

I am done for the day! Yay! Peace out friends and take good care.

 

Day 14: Writing Outline? Just kidding!

My 500 Words

Well, I was all set and primed to start my outline goal today…But, there is a gigantic problem. Actually, there are two problems, one of which is gigantic. The first problem, the small one, is that I don’t think I can attach an outline document here as though I were attaching a document to an email. I never considered that this wasn’t an email, but now I know. Sure, I could add it as an image or project. This seems like more work than it is worth.

Plus, upon further consideration, I don’t think that an outline matches the #My500Words challenge. The point of this challenge is to build a habit of writing everyday. I might incorporate an outline into my next challenge, but as Henry Miller commands, I cannot start a new challenge until the task at hand is complete.

I tend to deal with this shiny object syndrome. I don’t know if it is a personality trait or merely an unfortunate habit I have picked up. In any event, I can get in over my head sometimes, committing myself to too many things and losing focus. I had a practice for a while (that I try to continue still) where I wrote down my goals every single night. I would remark on my progress towards each of these ends and whether any of my goals were reached and could therefore be replaced. This REALLY helped me.

I love to learn, and I can get so excited by new possibilities that I overdo it. My enthusiasm for life and possibility is one of my favorite things about myself, honestly, so I would never want to squelch that. However, I would like to harness it better than I currently am. I have done this before, and it has been PAINSTAKING. While I worked my way through college and graduate school, I cried and felt spiritually and creatively oppressed. When I finished, I felt directionless and without purpose.

The best course of action for me is to write down all of my ideas when I have space for a new goal or project…then write them down each day of the week that follows…hopefully losing a few. Those that are left at the end of 1 week get into consideration mode. In consideration mode, I have to come up with a plan of what achievement means and how I plan to do it. In addition, I need to come up with my REASON for wanting to do it. This final list, those that are in active consideration mode, have to be said out loud to a third party. Hopefully, the act of planning it out and reasoning the action to a third party will allow for greater clarity. In addition, this process will hopefully allow me to have a greater “why” to come back to when the going gets difficult.

Shiny Object Process:

  1. List all ideas out
  2. Write them each day of the week for 1 week.
  3. Cross off ideas that have lost luster over the week.
  4. Come up with a plan and a reason for each idea. Write out.
  5. Vocalize the list along with the plan and the reason to a third party.
  6. Decide.

Day 13: Do You Plan Your Posts?

My 500 Words, Professional

Today, I spent a lot of time thinking about my goals, or rather my big, audacious dreams. I am maniacal about my personal information upload and try to cram most moments into brain updates of some kind. Today, I did a lot of that. One podcast I used to accomplish this was by The Life Coach School about setting impossible goals. It builds off the Tony Robbins idea that you need to change your beliefs of what is possible to achieve what was previously thought of as impossible. It resonated. So many dreams that I have yearned for in my life were buried because I thought they were impossible for me…that I could never even come close to achieving them. Crazy! If only I knew how pliable our universe is and how my biggest impediment to achievement was that very thought. Ugh…C’est la vie.

On day 1 of this challenge, I thought it was all a bit of a stretch…that I probably wouldn’t think of a way to write 500 words each day. Now, I am like…”hmph…500 words is pretty doable actually.” How sad to think I could have quit right away…and likely probably already have a trillion times before. Perhaps my first product will be some kind of challenge that anyone looking to smash those limiting beliefs. If you have a belief or an impossibility that makes accomplishing your dreams impossible, share it with me. It would be nice to know I am not alone out here! I am even thinking about starting a podcast. They are my favorite media, and it could be fun to get involved. Do you listen to podcasts?

I digress! I am thinking that I want to add one more feature to this challenge. I want to add an outline of each post…to get in the habit of thinking about what I am going to write before I do it. It might be kind of ridiculous to do this, but I want to get a better idea for how I can optimize my personal writing process. If that means that writing an outline will help, then I want to start doing that! I have gotten comfortable in the past 13 days (only 13 days, gasp!) with pumping out 500 crappy words. But, I want to add a little challenge, without abandoning my current goal of 500 words for 31 days. I will start (and finish!) the edX course “The Writing Process” that is offered by Berkeley through the awesome education platform. I think the course is an undergraduate, introductory level, but I haven’t taken a class like this in years, so I think it will be beneficial. I am also planning to take what I learn and apply it to my new goal to add an outline of my blog post and attach it for the next 18 days. My assumption is that it will improve the content and the flow with just a bit more effort…I look forward to seeing how it all shakes out!

One of my favorite sayings has always been, “trust the process.” What I will do instead is test the process and see if it makes things better 😊.

 

 

 

Day 12: Changing A Bad Habit

My 500 Words, Skin Care

I have a few bad habits, but I have one very terrible and embarrassing one… one that I really should have outgrown by now. I haven’t…until today.

I am a picker. I have large pores but pretty good skin. I spend an inordinate amount of time finding things wrong with the skin all over my body and picking, digging, and popping. I am a pimple-popper, and if there is a lack of pimples, I will find something to pop. I love to pop.

I am not completely sure where this DISGUSTING habit has come from. It started as a form of stress relief to pick at my legs and unearth ingrown hairs from a large patch of skin a few years ago. Prime pickings! Unfortunately this habit has spread across my body and to the holy grail, the face. In the past few years, this has led to some serious repercussions, i.e. infections, scarring, and embarrassing skin lesions.

As I treat another crisis of my creation this week, I am finally inspired to make a change. I kept thinking I could keep squeaking by. Perhaps I have reached the point where the pain it takes to remain the same is greater than the pain it takes to change. I think it is time to make a change. Even this post indicates that something has changed. This is a topic that I would have literally crawled into a gutter and waited for death if I thought about blogging on it previously.

I am calling on Tony Robbins for assistance with this, as he is the king of personal development and overcoming personal obstacles. I started with some YouTube videos of Tony speaking and providing some solutions for getting over bad habits and finding the best version of yourself. Of course, these aren’t Tony’s words. He is mega inspiring, so much so that he generates just as much skepticism as he does believers. One video I found instructs you to do a quick visualization exercise. You start by pointing your right hand straight out in front of you with your toes facing forward. You then are instructed to turn your torso clockwise as far as you can. Then you face forward and visualize doing the same thing but twisting even farther. Then again, but even farther. When you go to actually do the exercise again, you typically find that you are able to turn significantly further than you initially did. Removing the limiting belief, that we can only turn so much, allows you to see that you could actually turn much farther the entire time, you just didn’t believe it.

I found this to be a profound but simple exercise. I plan to practice this in other small ways to get started. I want to utilize it with blogging, with photography, and with my exercise. I am visualizing myself with great skin and zero impulse to pick, which is not the same but will hopefully help me in my quest to stop the mad war against my loving, protective skin.

As I write more regularly and explore more of my actual interests instead of what I think might make me money or sound good at a party, I am finding so many limiting beliefs and blockages. I have plenty of resistance to work through. I am trying to focus on Henry Miller’s first writing commandment, “work on one thing at a time, until finished.” Howeverrrr, I can see my next writing challenge developing and formulating in the background. In the meantime, I will try to continue on with my current 31 days challenge (19 more days!) while allowing the corners of my mind to prepare for what is next.

Day 11: Pumpkin Bread is a Food Group

Baking, My 500 Words

I have been watching The Great British Baking Show quite a bit lately, and it has me thinking about cakes and pastries wayyyy more than I should be. Every challenge, I say out loud, “I would eat that right now. I want that!” It hasn’t been good for my bikini bod goals this spring.

There is coffee shop near my apartment that I frequent on weekends pretty often, and a coffee with their pumpkin bread has become a fun ritual for my man friend and I. We have even made our own a few times, not a simple feat given our in-aptitude for high altitude baking.

In any case, I have been thinking a lot about these excellent bakers on the Great British Baking Show and how they have become so good. We have sat on the coach, sipping hot beverages and eating snacks many a night wondering what the prize is for the GBBS winner. So far our research (minimal, admittedly) is NOTHING. These folks are out there cranking out cakes, crying, winning or losing, stressing, and more just for the benefit of being on the show.

Aside from the delectable baked goods and the beautiful emotions that happen on the show, I am consistently surprised by the simplicity of the baking components. Everything is some combination or version of sugar, butter, and flour. It is maddeningly simple that we can create such unique and magnificent baked creations using various proportions of a few core ingredients. Country singer of the 1950’s Harlan Howard is credited with saying that the only thing you need for a good song is “three chords and the truth.” This is certainly true in music, and it seems to be true in baking as well.

While I may be exaggerating the simplicity of a great pastry’s inner workings, I am not simplifying things that much. Sure, you often use eggs and new baking techniques use all kinds of substitutes, but I implore you to have an open mind. Please watch a few episodes of the GBBS and pay attention to what they are each putting into their blender or their dough each week. They set out to create new things and to accomplish new challenges at the direction of the show leaders, but they start off with the same few core ingredients.

This may not shock any of you. This will likely bore all of you. BUT, it is fascinating to me. I tend to live in lala land and visit earth every once in a while, usually when forced. So, to see this very regular, normal, everyday thing in life in a new way has been quite exciting for me. I have the apartment to myself for a few days and am excited to maybe bake some new things free from pressure or expectation. What shall I bake? Pumpkin bread with chocolate chips and frosting? Yeahhh, that is exactly what I was thinking too. How did you know?

Stay tuned until late next week to find out whether I did or did not complete this goal or try something completely different.

 

Day 10: Hungry Hiker, Beware

My 500 Words, Travel & Adventure

Today I spent a few hours hiking in beautiful, sunny Colorado (yep, that’s right- a February hike :D), when I noticed my mid-exercise mood swing creep in. I felt irritated and agitated by very normal things, things that wouldn’t normally bother me at all. I checked the time and realized it was nearing on lunch-time, and I probably just needed a snack. My boyfriend and I split a banana, and I started to feel better. After a few minutes, I acknowledged out loud that my snack had saved me from a continued or worsened hangry episode. We laughed about it and swore to google if there were any good prevention methods out there if stopping to eat is not always an option. And as it happened, I am now remembering and looking into it as my eyes are closing and I struggle to get my500words done for day 10 out of 31. I am certain that tonight’s post will be littered with typos. AH C’est la vie!

About an hour after my banana snack, we split another snack…and then another snack. By the end of the hike, I was well fed, happy, and just a little bit exhausted from a hard hike. I thought back on my hike and wondered what I could do to pop into my mouth when exercising hard or in between meal times. I pondered bringing some Gatorade or juice to have on hikes for when my blood sugar seems to start dipping. The might work. I then wondered if having sport jelly bean-like snacks could fend off bad moods. I am fairly certain that when I start exercising hard, my blood sugar levels dip and I feel bad. This has been happening to me my whole life. It doesn’t seem to be a problem as long as I listen to my body and eat, drink or rest as needed. It has been fine. BUT, since I have been hiking with my boyfriend, I have noticed that I am much more likely to follow his eating schedule than my own.

As a single person, I did more things alone and, thus, took care of myself on my own time. Now, I tend to hold off on snacks until he is ready for one. In the moment of hangry, this makes me absolutely livid and resentful, if I am honest. I can usually catch myself after a few minutes rumination on what a jerk he is that he has a banana in his bag yet has the audacity to skip up this hill like he is skipping at recess as a 4th grader (as though these things are related at all!). What is comes down to is that he has my snack, the snack I need, and he doesn’t even care that I am desperate for that thing… It is really ill and must be stopped. I think some sporty jelly bean options are where I will start. I don’t want to have to stop for a meal all of the time, but a small 100 calorie snack a few times during the hike might get me through the slumps with a bit more grace.

Until next time, when I will hopefully find a solution for my dipping blood sugar, I will be yelling at my friends and family like the image included with this post, a hangry little bird.

Day 9: Skin Nightmares

My 500 Words, Skin Care

Over the past few years, I have become DEVOTED to my skin care regimen. I had a case of 24-years-old, drink too much, never sleep right, or wash my face acne. I thought I needed antibiotics and that was that. I was used to the dermatology grind, as a child of a skin-cancer ridden family. I believed what they told me, took the drugs recommended, etc…all by this person who barely took 5 minutes to look at me. I don’t doubt their ability to detect, diagnose, and treat cancer or serious skin ailments, but they should just be honest when  it comes to cosmetic issues. They should have told me to start washing my face twice a day and starting up a preventive regimen. But, that is not what happened.

About a year after starting a low-grade antibiotic, which I still have skeptical thoughts about the safety of, I wanted to go on a birth control. The birth control pill I wanted and the drug I was on didn’t really work well together. I told my OB what I wanted, and I told my dermatologist what I wanted. They didn’t chat or really provide much insight, in case you were wondering. Meanwhile, I learned whatever I could from google, and I came to terms with the reality that most of us make healthcare decisions with pretty minimal information or understanding. My dermatologist thought it was silly and my OB didn’t offer any opinions. After a year of no acne medication and using the pill, I had found some skin care bloggers (*ahem* Caroline Hirons) that changed my life and perspective. These bloggers helped to place the control back into my own hands. My skin could be good or terrible based on my own efforts, thank god.

I started with a serum, a moisturizer, face wash, and most importantly a routine. This went well, and as I grew confident, I experimented. Around the time I found these bloggers and started experimenting with cosmetic products, rather than antibiotics, I noticed some side effects from the birth control, that if I was honest had been going on since I started it. I was having ocular migraines multiple times a month and spent most afternoons wrapped in a blanket of tears and unexplainable sadness. I had some life changes that could account for some fluctuation in emotional state, but NOTHING to explain what I was experiencing. I decided to go rogue…no birth control and no skin care antibiotics. Give me whatcha got acne!

To my surprise, and probably due to my keeping up with a skin care regimen, my acne remained status quo, which was primarily non-existent. Skin issues surfaced from time to time, but they always had. I had found my way to control. Nowadays, my process has changed and is heavily dependent on AHAs, serums, and of course washing and moisturizing, morning and night. It has become one of my favorite self-care activities and am always excited to try a new product I hear about or to treat myself to something lovely. It has become something of a passion for me, so despite my annoyance at the process to get here, I am passionate about helping others find a better way to take care of themselves, especially young girls or women who have NO idea that a few small things can change their relationship with their skin and their face.

Day 8: What is copywriting?

My 500 Words, Professional

Copywriting is the creation of text surrounding the publicity, sales, or marketing of a product or service. It is the words or text that strive to promote and persuade the target audience to engage, decide, or act in a certain manner. It is…everywhere. I found myself asking what exactly copywriting was after a conversation that started with me very sure that I knew what it was and ended with me googling it to be sure. I had always thought about copywriting and “copy” in terms of advertising campaigns, and it is. However, I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about this nebulous term and to learn of its broad scope. I decided to sign up for some online courses and to download a copywriting podcast to listen to while I work.

I am learning a few interesting things, but I am struck by one general nagging thought. Copywriting as a profession seems to be devoted to knowing your customer or target audience and telling them in the most efficient and effective way possible how your product or service solves their problem. This spoke to me, as it is about communicating in the most effective way to a certain target audience. And, it sounded fun. So, I was implored to keep learning.

I learned some terms that seemed important as well: value proposition, direct-response copywriting, conversion copywriting, and the 100 audience formula. Why don’t we talk about the importane of copywriting and persuasive messaging more? This seems so critical to the sales and marketing success of an enterprise, but I have only heard it as a freshman year journalism student when kids talked about what kind of jobs they would be OK taking. I was confused then and now, even after many years attempting to understand the professional and regular world in all its weird splendor, it seems like we never talk about the things that matter. If this is a skill, it seems like it is an underdeveloped or at least acknowledged one. Sales is often seen as an ability, a calling, or a product of persistence or beauty. And, yes, perhaps it is all of these things. But, really, it is a skill. And copywriting, the messaging, and the mindset that goes into the creation of impactful words in strategic times and places can teach us a lot about how to sell.

I have been told at various points of my young professional life that I was great at sales, terrible at sales, should definitely make that my career, and should look elsewhere for opportunity. The room has been split. I have found ways to connect and do well and have found plenty ways to fall flat on my face. Luckily, my ego is bothered by the thought that I can’t do something well and especially that I just can’t do it. I like to try to overcome it. Maybe studying copywriting, which combines the need to sell, which exists in every business, and my interest and passion for writing. It would be great if this new avenue to explore might be a fruitful, or at least interesting, one.