Here you go again. Feeling upset, angry, not knowing why. You have been busy lately, and haven’t been taking very good care of yourself mentally or physically. For the first time in a while you sit down and think about what your body might actually need. Where to begin? Well, it’s hard in this day and age to keep up with ourselves. We live in a rushed world, constantly on the move.
The first step in getting back in touch with yourself is to ask yourself what you need. Your mind and body are intermeshed, but still need their own individual recognition. Physically, your body needs nutrition, rest, and down time. Mentally, your body may need more. So you need to figure out if you need something physical or mental? Sometimes the answer is both. This is an effective tool in knowing what your body’s starting point is and where you need to go from there. What’s even more effective is to learn to listen to what your body needs on a regular basis.
A number of activities can help keep you in tune with your body. On the physical side, things such as exercise or sports can help you maintain body awareness. Mentally, journaling, sketching, and reflecting can help you focus on keeping your mind as healthy as possible. The key is to find the thing that helps you, not the latest trend or what your friends are doing. Not everything works for everybody, each person responds differently.
Let’s explore how this body, mind, awareness, can work for you. Physical issues such as stiffness in the body and headache can be hard to deal with. Mental stress can lead to many other issues. It can also lead to physical problems, if ignored. When life becomes too stressful, you can choose to use meditation to relax, focus, and recharge your burnt mind. There are many books and videos that can help guide you into mental meditation. The best way I have found is to find a comfortable place to relax, close your eyes, and start to notice your breathing. Meditation and breathing are linked and can slow heart rate as well as calm nerves. Deep breathing can be used separately or with meditation.
Other ways to gain inner awareness and relax your mental state include guided imagery, music, and focusing on being aware and in the moment. Tools such as Tibetan singing bowls, and squeezing stress balls can all aid in mental relaxation. Baoding balls have been used around the world for meditation and relaxation for centuries. These balls are smooth and give off a soft chime sound. When rolled together in a person’s hands they are quite relaxing. The mind also needs connection with other humans. Each person knows just how much social stimuli they need.
Physical health can also be the starting point of the mind-body connection. Nobody can deny that their body will tell them what it needs. If you look at the very basic needs of the body, nutrition, rest, water, and physical exercise, it doesn’t seem like there are a lot of needs. When a body is ill or lacking in any of these basic care areas, it takes a big toll on the mind as well. Ask yourself if your physical health is being taken care of? Do you have medications, a health condition, or just basic human needs that need to be met? Once these questions are answered, the improvement of your physical health can start.
The first idea to become more physically aware of your body is yoga. Yoga can be practiced in many ways and can be done as a beginner or an experienced yogi. Yoga is designed to move and stretch the body, while combining mental relaxation. Deep breathing and meditation is often part of the practice. All you need is a gripped surface or yoga mat, and a dedication to move and listen to what your body wants.
Another physical stress reliever can be exercise. This can include any type of active exercise or exertion. Just because you exercise doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon! Many martial arts practices also include the mental aspects of focus and breathing to center the person. Sports such as kickboxing and running can be used to burn off excess energy as well as anxiety and stress. These activities can also help get you on a more regular schedule of caring for yourself. Your physical health will only benefit from these suggestions and there are so many more.
Not listening to what your mind and body need can be an issue. The need to connect with your mind and body is so important. It can start a better mental and physical lifestyle. Getting into a consistent routine of checking with yourself both mentally and physically will help support a healthier, happier, and more focused you.
Talking about burnout doesn’t necessarily feel right at the end of summer when kids are going back to school and maybe you’re going back to work after your summer vacation; it feels like the year is just starting to ramp up. But burnout happens no matter the time of year and no matter where you are in life. What exactly is burnout? It’s the state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion caused by prolonged and excessive stress. As the stress builds you lose your motivation and interest that led you to that role in the first place.
I have dealt with burnout a few times in my life. The first time happened in high school. I was a trampolinist (Yes it’s a real sport and it’s in the Olympics!) from middle school until the end of high school. I joined a small club team in Minneapolis and loved it. I excelled pretty far and fast and I always felt like it was my thing to have. While other kids joined the high school teams or clubs I was off on my own being a part of this team doing a cool sport. Because it’s a younger sport, meaning a lot of young kids join, I was usually one of, if not the oldest on the team. As the years went on a lot of kids eventually left, but I stayed. For a while I actually enjoyed it. Everywhere else in my life I always felt the youngest, so to have a place to go where I was the oldest and best was great for my leadership skills but also my self-esteem. A lot of the kids looked up to me and my coach even made me the captain.
But that feeling eventually wore down and suddenly being the oldest and alone at my level felt lonely and boring. I had been going to practice three times a week for two and a half to three hours a time since fifth grade and I was isolated from my school peers. Part of the fun of being on a team is that you get to be around people your age and make friends by learning teamwork and life skills. You go and grow through those lessons together and it’s exciting! Those relationships are what make you want to stay. The next closest age a teammate was to me was in middle school. It’s hard to share experiences with an 11 year old when I already had my license and was going through very different life experiences than my younger teammates.
That isolation and tiringly constant routine is what led to my burnout somewhere in my junior year of high school. I didn’t find joy in jumping, my hard routines that I couldn’t get through hung over my head, I was tired all the time, and I didn’t even want to go to the gym anymore. Trampoline wasn’t fun. My last competition was the state meet in April of 2015. I still went to some practices and helped the kids my senior year but I didn’t compete and less and less time was spent at the gym. I stepped back and wanted to participate in a big school production because it felt like I had missed out on that camaraderie for so many years.
When I did go back to the gym to jump around and play I was much happier. I didn’t feel like I had to stress to push through mental blocks of trying to perfect my routine that I had experienced so many times when I was a competing gymnast.
While I didn’t experience the type of burnout people in the workforce do, it was still enough to make me step back and realize the issue. It was my time to hang up the leotard and I accepted it instead of pushing through and making myself even more unhappy. Looking back on it, do I wish I could’ve stayed on and moved to an even higher level, of course I do. But I’m still incredibly happy of what I was able to achieve as a competitive athlete at such a young age. Now when I go back to the gym to visit my coaches and jump around I’m reminded of what I love about the sport, the ability to fly and feel weightless while also having an amazing bag of tricks I will never lose and few in the world are able to do.
I’ll touch on one more area of burnout that I’m experiencing right now that more people might be able to relate to. I graduated college last year and jumped straight into applying for jobs even though I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. Guess what? I’m still doing it now 15 months later and I am so tired of it. I have a better idea of what I want, but it’s gotten to the point where it feels like I’m throwing my resume into a void.
To help with the stress and hopelessness I’ve been feeling, I reached out to people for help. I contacted my school’s career development center and talked with an advisor. I’m reaching out to people in my interested field and taking part in informational interviews that are giving me great advice. I’m reevaluating what I really want to be working towards and knowing that my first job doesn’t have to be perfect. What I do there won’t be what I’ll do for the rest of my life. It’s still hard staying optimistic and hoping to see an end to the beginning, but I’m trying to find that excitement of starting my life that I felt 15 months ago.
If you’re going through burnout right now here are some helpful tips:
Find someone to talk to
Chances are your friends and family have also been through it and can help you out.
Try to look at work differently
Even if your job is boring, try to find ways that what you’re doing is helping reach a larger company goal. Make friends at work and commiserate together.
Reevaluate your priorities
If the stress is too overwhelming set boundaries and say no more often. Log off when the day is done and turn off your notifications for the rest of the day.
Carve out time to go to the gym. Go before or after work. It’s the perfect excuse to put on headphones and literally ignore everyone. Even a 30 minute walk does wonders to clear the mind.
Make it healthy
If you’re stuck at a desk all day it’s easy to eat sugary snacks to help you through the day but try and replace a bag of chips with a bag of sliced apple or carrots. Those will give you more energy in the long run, rather than an hour sugar high.
Find time and space for quiet that allows you to recharge and hear anything your intuition might be telling you about what you or your body might need.
Burnout definition and helpful tips 1-5 credit to HelpGuide
As a woman, the decision to study sports management in college took immense courage for me. Sports management is an extremely competitive field that is dominated by men. I didn’t keep up with every sport and every game which put me at a huge disadvantage.
However, I knew it would be something that would help build my resume and give me the chance to reach my dream job of being a social media marketing manager for a professional sports team. I am competitive, I played eight different sports growing up, and I was confident I could bring great communication and marketing skills to the field.
So I went for it.
Last semester, I took the course, Sociology in Sport, where we learned about interaction of people in sport, social systems controlling sport, and the different dynamics of the sport culture. I always tried my best to participate often in the class and provide intelligent comments so the class of 95% men wouldn’t think I was weak. A bit sad, isn’t it?
The lesson on gender and sport stood out the most to me. Shocker, right? We learned that women were denied participation in sport for centuries, and were even ridiculed for trying to compete. In the 1800s, women finally began participating, however, only in sports deemed graceful and “ladylike”. In 1936, only 328 women were invited to participate in the Olympics, whereas there were 4,000 men. Eventually the feminist movement, Title IX, and famous athletes began to pave the way for women in sport, however women still face great discrimination today.
Today, we still see less opportunities and scholarships for collegiate women athletes, the US women’s soccer team fighting for equal pay, and an outstanding amount of discrimination in the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
So this month at Find Your Power, we are inviting you to challenge yourself.
Challenging yourself is one of the most important factors of self-growth. Without challenges and changes, there is no growth nor any chance of finding your true potential. Reaching your goals is going to come with some challenges.
Psychology Today says, “To lead an authentic life, we need to take on new challenges that stretch us and give us more opportunities to be ourselves. It is not that the authentic person does not feel the same fear; rather, they are simply more willing to face their fear.
The question is not how to lead a life in which we never feel the fear of failure, but rather, how we can move forward despite our fear. Are we able to transform our fear into an enthusiasm to engage with the new challenge and learn from it?”
We know it sounds scary, but it all begins with a single step. Here are some simple ways to get started.
Being a woman in sport, I have to be bold and brave, but it is not always easy. A quote that inspires me everyday, comes from a high diver on TikTok. She said, “It never becomes less scary, you just become more comfortable with being scared.”
FYP wants you to take this inspiration and run. How will YOU challenge yourself today?
Information Credit to Social Issues in Sport by R. Woods & B. Butler & Psychology Today
College is a period in people’s lives where bodies tend to change. Hormones are flying, residence hall food choices are limited, and for the first time for many, alcohol is affecting your body.
During freshman year of college, I met six women who quickly became my best friends. We spent every waking moment together. It wasn’t long before we were wearing each other’s clothes and sharing secrets.
All of our bodies were changing, so naturally weight and body image was a common topic of conversation.
One conversation that sticks out for me centered around how we wished we had each other’s bodies. It was weird to hear my friends, who I see as having amazing bodies, talk about their own insecurities. It broke my heart that my friends would think those things of themselves. This conversation may have not fixed our insecurities, but it showed each of us that we were not alone.
So, how are we going to start loving our bodies?
First, let’s remind ourselves that the “perfect body” does NOT exist! Everyone has a different idea of “perfect” in their head. Even so, “beauty standards” and women’s “body trends” are always changing, and it is not possible for someone to match all these societal ideals. Hip dips, stretch marks, rolls, weight fluctuation, hair and cellulite are all NORMAL. We must put an end to women’s body trends and unrealistic beauty standards, because they are objectification. Trends are for TikTok, not for women’s real and unique bodies.
Second, you are so much more than your body! You are not your weight, and your weight is not your worth. When someone asks you about your friend do you ever mention anything about their body? No! You probably talk about their amazing personality. Remember that at the end of the day, you will be remembered for your personality and the way you make people feel when they are with you.
Third, you must stop all negative talk. Your brain is your biggest enemy and critic. Once you start speaking kinder to yourself, your thought process will change, and eventually you will start to believe these things. You have one body; do not waste your life beating yourself up over it.
Fourth, start implementing healthy habits. Throughout my own journey, I have made changes to not only my mindset, but also to my social media, exercise, and food habits, along with my wardrobe choices. On social media, I only follow accounts that make me feel empowered. I set a maximum amount of screen time each day to ensure I’m using my days to their fullest potential. I started buying and wearing outfits that made me feel comfortable and confident. Exercise has looked different for me throughout my entire life. I tend to stay away from intense exercise every day because that is not sustainable for me. I usually switch between going on walks, yoga, and playing basketball. When I don’t feel like doing anything at all, I go to the mall and window shop to get my body moving. With food, I simply eat foods that make me feel good. Fad diets and super restrictive diets are not sustainable. That’s why I choose to eat what I want to enjoy each day. Personally, I’ve realized that certain foods make my stomach hurt, and so I stay away from those. Do not put pressure on yourself. Life is too short to not enjoy yummy food.
This is your body confidence journey, and it’s you that is your biggest enemy. However, you are not alone. I am going through this too. The most important thing is that you feel good and you’re treating yourself with kindness and compassion.
If you need someone to talk to, send us a message. Megan, the intern and writer of this blog post will be more than happy to have a chat.
There are some identities that you are born into. Your race, ethnicity, and nationality are all parts of your identity that generally do not change over time. While these aspects of identity may be more present during certain stages of life, it is important to be aware of the traits that come with them. However, this month I want to focus on two types of identity that can change throughout your life – your gender identity and sexual orientation. Like many others, quarantine forced me to confront many of the thoughts and questions I had about myself that I kept pushing off. Staying isolated forced many of us to discover who we really are – without the social pressure of what other people think of us. At the same time, I personally felt this sense of urgency where it seemed like everyone around me and on campus had already figured out “who they are” while I sat in my childhood room in confusion. After multiple conversations with some of my closest friends, I realized the hard truth: nobody really knows who they are, especially in college.
When I entered college, I was in a deep culture shock. It seemed like most of the freshmen found their “group” within the first couple of weeks. My high school best friend and I watched as it seemed like everyone had found their forever friend group while we struggled to find other people to eat lunch with. Every student group seemed to have their separate cliques, often separated by identity. Even when people claim to be inclusive, nobody talks about how awkward it is to enter new spaces you might not be used to. It seemed like the only way to fit in was to be like everyone else, but that only creates temporary and inauthentic friendships.
My favorite memory from my freshman year happened just before COVID-19 hit our campus. Just a couple weeks before, we had met this friend group that had been friends since high school and they immediately welcomed us with open arms even though it was awkward at first, this night brought us way closer. We all made ramen together and just talked – openly and honestly. We talked about our personal struggles before and during college which honestly brought us way closer. While I didn’t open up about my struggles with my identity, I still told them stories about myself that I thought I would keep to myself for the rest of my life. That first night of opening up created a level of trust within a friend group that I had never felt before, something that I will be eternally grateful for. Without my friends being so welcoming, I don’t think I would have ever even accepted myself for who I am today.
As the world becomes more and more inclusive, it’s important to understand the different ways that people identify themselves. You may have seen or heard many people identify as “queer” or “gender fluid”, both are broad terms that refer to one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. In my experience the word “queer” essentially means that you are not heterosexual or cis-gender. Many feel most comfortable with the term because every individual can create their own definition of the term. Just because two people identify as queer does not mean that they have the same attractions and interests, which further expands it’s meaning. The term “gender fluid” refers to one who does not see themselves within the gender binary. Growing up, most of us are taught that there are two genders: male and female, thus creating the idea of gender being a binary (having two parts). However, as we grow up, many of us feel like the societal expectations that align with each gender do not apply to ourselves. Gender, just like sexuality, is a spectrum and not binary.
This month, members of the LGBTQIA+ community will face numerous challenges and questions like “so what are you?”, “what do you identify as”, and “what are your pronouns”. While these questions may seem so simple to answer for some, the truth is that many of us have no idea. Sexuality and gender identity are not binary, the way you present yourself or who you are attracted to does not mean you fit into a certain box. If you have never struggled with your gender or sexual identity, the next time you come across someone who identifies as queer, be open-minded and supportive, because you never know what someone may be going through.
You are valid no matter where you are within your journey of self-discovery!
“Let go of the idea of perfection – you are not perfect, you are real. Let yourself be flawed and allow yourself to make mistakes. Recognize that you’re not always going to have it all together” – Unknown
This quote is from a piece of writing that continuously resonates with me because I struggle to accept where I am in my life and am often comparing myself to others. A lot of people, sometimes even the ones closest to us, seem to have it all together. The perfect clothes, perfect job, perfect family, and ideal life is what some of us consider to be “having it all together.” The truth is there’s no such thing as perfect. I don’t believe there’s anyone in the world who has it all together.
The question “where do you see yourself in the future?” is often asked as we get older. I get nervous when asked this because, truthfully, I have no idea where the road ahead will lead me. Take the year-long pandemic, for example. Jobs were lost, weddings were canceled, companies closed, and many people lost their loved ones. All of these unfortunate circumstances were unexpected and couldn’t have been foreseen in someone’s future. So, when asked the question of where you see yourself, don’t respond based on where someone expects you to be. Instead, respond with where you are and where YOU want to be, and if your journey takes a detour along the way, then embrace it with everything you have.
The month of May has approached in the blink of an eye, and my graduation date is finally approaching. I say finally because my plan to graduate was initially in 2018. The past few years have been especially challenging when my many friends and classmates have graduated, started families, and seemed to figure their whole lives out. While finding myself comparing my success and setbacks to others, I have come to realize that every one of us is on a different path, and even though it may become longer or change completely, we’re right where we’re supposed to be for a reason. Unfortunately, when you learn to accept your life for what it is, you start forgetting what life “could” or “should” be.
The month of May is Mental Health Awareness, and a time to reflect on our lives and be proud of the person we are. Zen habits lists 7 techniques you can implement into your daily routine to enhance your self-acceptance. Below are a few of my favorites that I’ve implemented into my life that I encourage you to try!
Welcome what you notice
Practice being more aware of your thoughts. When you think something negative about yourself or current situation, try to find the positives and at least one good thing to be thankful for or happy about
Have compassion and forgive yourself
Be aware of judgements about yourself and correct them! Work on reminding yourself of everything you’ve accomplished and how far you’ve come no matter where you are.
Practice acceptance not only to others, but to yourself.
Love yourself for who you are, and don’t let the journeys of others make you feel like yours is any less special.
… and finally, live your life for YOU and not for anyone else.
We’re all living our own story, and each on our journey. One that shouldn’t be compared or contrasted to another. LIVE the life YOU love and LOVE the life you live” is something we are all capable of doing and encouraging others to do as well! ☺
Trying to make sense of my life situation at the end of 2020, I chose to dive in and gain some perspective on life by reading The Power Of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. Like most of us, I was trying to make sense of the pandemic and all the loss that we all experienced in 2020 (and continue to experience as the pandemic continues). If you are struggling to accept your current life situation, I highly recommend reading this book because there are many eye-opening perspectives that I will not cover in this blog post that are essential for staying connected to the flow of abundance.
Surrendering to your life cycles
Like many of us, I have been trying to accept the shortcomings of 2020 and all the losses that occurred. Whether you lost a loved one, your job, had to move, couldn’t see your family, no longer attend your workout class, didn’t have in-person graduation, or had to close your business, we all experienced loss. While some losses are much more life-impacting than others, all of society can relate to the feeling of loss. One thing I have struggled with the most this past year is acknowledging that loss and accepting where I am now. Easier said than done, and we are STILL in a global pandemic, so it may be hard to fully grasp our losses until we can look back on the pandemic. However, life is still moving forward, and not knowing when, or if,life will return to normal again, I urge you to practice accepting the Now.
One concept I have come to understand on a deeper level thanks to the writings of Tolle are life cycles. By ‘life cycles’ I do not mean life and death but cycles that occur in our lives, periods we see as ‘bad’, and others as ‘good’. Part of the problem is seeing the lows as “bad”, for example, you have not been happy for the past five months because you have not found a job, or you have a job, but you hate it and it brings you no joy. We feel these situations are bad and try to push against them, lose hope or happiness, and stop ourselves from seeing all that we have to be grateful for. If we accept these situations we are in, not as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, just as is – then we can fully live in the present and fall into the mindset of abundance. Tolle writes, “There are cycles of success when things come to you and thrive, and cycles of failure, when they wither or disintegrate and you have to let them go to make room for new things to arise, or for transformation to happen. If you cling and resist at that point, it means you are refusing to go with the flow of life, and you will suffer.”
I could not get past the point of suffering in 2020 because I had not accepted the flow of cycles in my life. Having come out of four years (or more really) of successes and wins in college and graduating, I was in a ‘good’ cycle. Things came easy to me, I manifested many opportunities for myself, and in my mind, I was ‘successful’. Yet after completing one of the greatest accomplishments of my life so far – graduating college – I felt like a failure for not securing my first job. I was used to the easy flow of the ‘good’ cycle and then things stopped coming to me easily. I applied to many jobs and applied for a scholarship that would take me abroad, but nothing came of any of my hard work – at least that’s what it felt like. I did not want to give up or admit that things were not working out for me, I didn’t want to be a failure or a quitter. The hardest part was understanding I was not any of those things, no matter the fact that I still haven’t found my first big job.
I had to surrender to my life circumstances. I had to accept where I was at this point in my life. I had to let myself feel the emotions I was avoiding, emotions of sadness, failure, fear, and despair, to allow myself to move on and start anew. From reading The Power of Now, I was able to take a step back and recognize that this is just how things are right now, they won’t be this way forever, but there is no point in living in a constant unhappy state because things are not working out how I wanted. We must make peace with the present to progress forward and step into an abundant mindset.
How to break away from lack and move into the mindset of abundance
One thing I know for sure is you cannot be aligned with the flow of abundance if you are focused on what is missing from your life. To step into abundance you must be grateful for all the blessings you have now. You must make peace with your past and understand it does not define you now. You must surrender to the now. Once you are at peace with your life situation, this can be both feelings of peace with what is outside of you and within you, then you can finally start to raise your vibration to match the frequency of that of which you desire.
Everything that I am talking about is internal work. Work on your mindset, how you talk to yourself, how you treat yourself, and how you choose to use your power. Focus on yourself and your needs and you will raise your mindset to be more in the flow of abundance.
Here are my tips for getting into the flow and staying there:
Acknowledge where you are. Do you operate out of trust or fear? If you feel yourself constantly scrambling because you think things will not work out, then you are operating out of the idea that there is a lack of support in your life. The best thing you can do right now is to acknowledge your life circumstances. Surrender to what is.
Gratitude. The first step in attracting more abundance into your life is being grateful for all the abundance you already have. I recommend writing down three things each day that you are grateful for. Again, this is how you work on shifting your mindset from ‘lacking’ to abundance. You have so many things to be grateful for every day, starting with, you woke up today – that’s amazing!
Developing trust with the Universe. I refer to the energy source of abundance as the Universe, please use whatever word or idea that works best for you. Once you have surrendered to the now and made peace with where you are at, start to develop a way to connect with the source of abundant energy. Accept and encourage the flows in your life. This may be through a guided meditation or listening to affirmations. Practice this connection daily and you will build up trust that things will work out for you. This is one way to do positive mindset work and control your thoughts. If you believe your life is abundant, suddenly things begin to work themselves out. Above all else, you must trust!
Self-care routine. If you feel weirded out by the discussion of the Universe and source energy, and it’s just not for you, I’d recommend focusing on self-care and self-worth. Another way to step into abundance is by taking care of yourself. If you don’t value yourself, how do you expect great things to happen for you? This is a reminder that self-care is day-to-day work, it is taking time to do something kind for yourself. This may look different for everyone, so it is important to look within and pay attention to your own needs. Self-care is a great way to align with abundance because once you value yourself and your time, you will see how worthy you are of a life of abundance. Let the abundance flow, you are worth it and YOU best support yourself by taking care of yourself.
Affirmations. Daily affirmations are another great way to raise your energy vibrations and connect with the flow of abundance. This can be a great addition to your self-care routine or something you do after meditation. Using positive ‘I am’ statements daily will help you build up self-worth and trust in the Universe. You can choose affirmations that align with you, make you feel good, and cater to your needs. We ALL need a daily reminder that we are enough.
Manifestation. If you want to take the flow one step further, manifestation will help you attract what you seek. Once you have created a routine practicing staying present, your thoughts have shifted from lacking to the abundance mindset, and you are able to practice daily gratitude, manifestation will help align you with what you desire and bring it to you. The easiest way to manifest is getting clear about what you want your life to be. Once you know, write out your manifestations with ‘I am’ statements instead of ‘I want’. Connecting with the flow of abundance will help you manifest the life you want. Visualize you at your best! In your dream job, with you dream relationships, in your dream house….with whatever you desire! Let the universe know what you want and it’s already yours.
We are now in spring and we will see the abundance of rebirth and growth with the change in our physical environment. Let this be a reminder of the many cycles we see in our world. Change is always possible. From cold darker times of despair, growth and opportunity are born again.
“Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another, we’re strongest when we cheer each other on.” – Serena Williams
I called her mother, “mom.” I had a toothbrush, clothes and my own bed at her house. I was counted in all family vacations. People would call us if they couldn’t get a hold of the other one because they knew we would be together. If I ever went out with friends and she wasn’t with me, they would ask what was going on and why we weren’t together. I had found my best friend and there was no doubt in my mind we would be lifelong friends. I knew we would be at each other’s weddings, child births, and every milestone in between. We were inseparable.
But then the texts became less. I told myself that we were best friends and I just needed to communicate directly. I did. Things got better fleetingly. Then it would happen again. Each time I felt I was forcing her to maintain the friendship but I comforted myself by believing that this was all normal and it was a time and would pass. It did not pass. Things that I would normally let go were all of a sudden huge red flags. I tried as hard as I could to maneuver around them because I was terrified of what I would find if I faced them head on. At one point though, the red flags became so large that it was draining me physically, emotionally and mentally to try to avoid them. That is when I realized that I was holding onto something with everything I had, for someone who wasn’t even willing to communicate with me.
When I accepted that fact, everything else became clear. All the times I would feel something was off in the way I was treated, I passed it off as us friends being too close. When my beliefs were met with criticism, I passed it off as any friendship needed compromise. When I was consistently exhausted from maintaining two personalities, I told myself that any friendship needs to accommodate for the other person’s likes and dislikes. When my accomplishments were met with artificial sentiments of happiness and even criticism, I refused to see it; I told myself that she was happy for me but she was just preoccupied. I had created a friendship in my mind and heart that I so desperately wanted, that I allowed myself to be drained of who I truly was to fulfil the friendship she wanted.
Eventually, I stopped being the only one trying. The thing is when you have a relationship when one person is doing all of the giving and the other person is doing all of the receiving, it comes to the point where there is nothing left to give. At that point, the receiver either switches roles and gives back or they walk away to another source of giving. She walked away. It hurt and I didn’t understand how something that I thought to be unbreakable was all of a sudden nonexistent, and in it’s place was a feeling of betrayal. Betrayal of what we were and what we were going to be.
With time though, I saw less of the negatives of the situations and began to reflect on the lessons. When I met my current best friend, I was extremely cautious. I refused to let her in. I wanted to keep it superficial. I didn’t want to have expectations. But when we were invited to an outing and I said I wasn’t comfortable going, she said to me, “hmm I didn’t even think of that. I don’t know if I completely agree but here is how I see it,” and we talked about it. All the while I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, and her to belittle my beliefs. But it didn’t. We talked for a long time. Everytime I pulled back and hesitated, she didn’t miss a beat. She kept talking and gave me space when I needed it. As our friendship grew, I realized how different it was to have someone who supported me and truly and sincerely wanted the best for me. Instead of being exhausted all the time, I was energized, social and overall content. It was clear, having nothing was better than having negativity and letting go of someone toxic, was better than holding onto them just to have someone.
Women often stay in relationships that are toxic because it is easier to stay in what you know than to step out of your safe comfort zone and move forward. It got me thinking about the lasting difference in my best friend relationship, that was built on a genuine care for each other truly made in my life. It made me reflect on how many times this happens to women, not only in friendships, but with work, family, and their communities.
The difference we as women can make by uplifting and supporting each other is limitless. When we step up for empathy, compassion and inclusion, it proves more positively effective than when we attempt to step over each other to get to the top. When we choose to help one another, we are creating lasting bonds to form a chain of solidarity.
It is understandable that since women have to work against continuous obstacles, they are consistently in the mindset of having to push back just to have a seat at the table. I’ve seen family members have to work twice as hard because their coworkers hoard information to put themselves ahead. I have seen friends one up each other for a better grade. We are in a society where we feel we cannot afford to show empathy, compassion and support for one another because we will be seen as weak, and therefore don’t have what it takes to make it. But what if the norm became lending a helping hand to create an equitable playing field instead of tripping each other just to make it to the field? If we as women showed up for each other, we wouldn’t feel the need to stay in toxic relationships. We wouldn’t feel the need to push each other off the last chair at the table, but instead would bring two chairs and force room to be made.
The empowerment of women starts with you.
5 Ways You Can Empower The Women Around You
Know your worth and lead by example
Don’t stay in toxic relationships; reach out to your support system and lead by showing how far a helping hand can go
Share your appreciation and love for the women in your life
Compliment a coworker, share your wealth of knowledge, support mental health
Educate yourself on what an equitable environment means.
Don’t settle for less. And be a champion for other women when you can.
Advocate against injustice.
Stand up for women’s rights. Be part of the process.
Support and donate to women’s empowerment organizations
Find Your Power is launching a new Womxn Rising Fundraising Campaign next week, March 8th!
Women’s empowerment is not an individual effort, it takes a community. Start by uplifting yourself and the women around you. Share this post with the women in your life, and ask them to pay it forward.
“This, is the beginning of loving yourself. Welcome home.” -Unknown
At the foundation of any positive energy, there is love. I believe that in order to respect the act of self-care, you must have an underlying love for yourself and your livelihood. The relationship with you and self-love is a lifelong process and journey.
I am sure you are quite tired of the oversaturated and overwhelming discussion of the current pandemic. Like you, so am I. I am very aware of how exhausting this pandemic has been in every facet of our lives. Because of this notion, it has come to my attention how important it is to be honest with ourselves. We as a society can not be naive to the real effects a pandemic can have on our overall health and wellbeing. The exhaustion, stress, and anxiety that this pandemic has produced comes with consequences. Maybe you no longer have access to your favorite yoga studio, or got laid off from your job so you can no longer afford therapy. Maybe you have to now work three jobs to make ends meet, which means no time for yourself. Whatever the reason may be, I can sense from the collective that we have all had to sacrifice parts of ourselves to make it through the past year. I know I sure have, and it has had lasting effects on my day-to-day mental health and also self-care routine; something very important to me. Since our world has practically turned upside down, routine in general may seem foreign to you. Many of us have lost a sense of routine and structure and possibly may miss the life you had before the pandemic. With all of that being said, it is clear our society could really utilize a little more time in the self-care department. Not to mention, we truly all DESERVE to give ourselves more grace for quite literally surviving this pandemic thus far.
February is often referred to as the month of love and also the most unproductive month of the year. Interestingly enough, these two themes can be applied to how you can revamp, recreate, and set intentions towards a self-care routine that best serves you, your needs, and the life you want to live. It is important to preface that each individual possesses specific needs within their self-care routine. Think to yourself for a moment and take note of what you’re currently doing that relates to self-love and self-care. Are you actively incorporating self-care into your life? What does self-care look like to you? How does it show up in your life? Does it show up at all? Are you truly showing up for yourself?
These questions may be extremely hard for you to answer. And, that is perfectly okay. Personally, I experienced a phase in my life where I completely disregarded any act of self-love or self-care. I completely let myself go. This directly translated into having a nonexistent self-care routine. I was living in auto-pilot and I was not allowing myself to be the main character in my life. As an empath, I can easily let go of myself in order to make others feel secure, loved, and seen. My empathetic heart can create a false reality to how I feel fulfilled. Yes, I am helping others and extending a helping hand to those who desperately need it in my life…but, what about me?
This realization took me years to actually process. I was existing in the name of other people’s happiness and completely forgot about mine. This realization can be very difficult for people to accept. I had to become way more gentle with how I approached myself; even with how I talked to myself in my head. Over time, I realized that self-care is not selfish. It is actually a representation of self-respect. I learned that putting yourself first is OKAY and NECESSARY for inner peace and love for yourself. Once coming to terms with this idea and also accepting it as a problem in my life, I then was able to identify the missing pieces to my self-care routine. I quickly learned that self-care can be really simple. It can look different day to day, week to week, which I find really beautiful. It is an ever changing act of service towards ourselves to better our mental health and wellbeing.
Each day can be an opportunity to take a small step into self-care. The beautiful part of the journey towards self-care is that there is no right or wrong answer. This is a very intuitive practice that can also allow you to further align yourself with your true purpose and higher power. You must have compassion for yourself along the way as well. Some days we might not have time for our entire self-care practices or rituals but even ONE of those rituals or acts of service towards yourself can be really impactful. Simply spending 5 extra minutes in the shower to listen to the rest of your favorite podcast, or burning your favorite candle while you do the dishes can make all the difference some days.
For me, (and my type A personality) I am now extremely committed to the ways in which I show up for myself. Self-care is a grounding mechanism for me and allows me space to come back to myself and show some love for the functional and strong mind, body, and soul that I possess. Routines are not for everyone, although some sort of structure to how you appraoch self-care can really be an empowering tool to acknowledge the worth you hold. Each day I allow myself the space and time to show up for myself. Whether that is meditation, journaling, cooking a yummy meal, watching a good movie, a walk alone outside, telling myself words of affirmation, cleaning my room, a nice hot bath, or whatever it may be; I always make a commitment to myself to really do a few small things each day to brighten my mood and make myself feel GOOD. Day by day, I have noticed how these small acts of kindness towards myself have collectively enhanced the way I view myself. It has allowed me to increasingly become more comfortable with unapologetically loving myself.
I have learned that we can not expect other people to fill our cups for us; we must do it ourselves. This act of filling up our own cup each day can also enforce a sense of self-worth, which I believe is the most important aspect to self-care. We all embody a very deep and intrinsic value of worth and it is our responsibility to honor that each and every day, no matter what. Take those small steps by really listening to that inner voice and honor those needs. Here is to a month of love, self-connection, and honoring the beautiful human that you are!
If 2020 was the roaring lion, a thrashing and angry cat lashing out at the world, then let’s make 2021 the fiery and defiant Phoenix. I mean, 2020 really kicked our collective butts. From the frontline EMS workers forced to work sixteen hour shifts, to the grocery store stockers keeping the shelves full, to the lonely office worker drifting off from Zoom fatigue, last year was exhausting. There is no easy way back from being broken. For all of us who’ve felt desperate or dependent on a helping hand that always felt slightly out of reach, it will be a long path to travel back to trusting the systems that failed like one domino toppling another. As I’ve reflected on the last year, and all of its heartbreaks and letdowns, a few things have been pulling on me. It’s hard to have an empirically based hope for next year. There’s too much work to be done, too many items on the to-do list. Yet, trudging forward is all that we can do. But how can we trudge forward, when we’re so exhausted? The short answer is: hope. Now, bear with me for a second, I’m about to take a detour into spiritual mythologies. I promise that it will pay off! If 2020 was a cascading volcano, spewing flame and lava sky-high, then let us, smoldering and smoking, rise from those ashes.
Many of us dimly remember some of the famous Greek myths from elementary school picture books and poorly adapted young adult movie franchises. As December dragged its feet into Christmas and the New Year, I found myself drawn to many of my childhood books at my parents house. One of which was an illustrated book of myths. As I reread through this book of myths, I couldn’t help but meditate on Pandora’s box and how relevant it is to today. The story goes like this: after stealing fire from the Gods, Zeus crafts a box containing all the evil spirits of despair, greed, pride, hatefulness and so on. He then gave this box to the unwitting Pandora, who opens it and unleashes all the evil into the world. But, there was one last spirit that Zeus gave to the world. As Pandora peered into the almost-empty box, she saw a weak spirit named Hope. She picked it out of the box, and nursed it until it was strong enough to fly into the world and fight all of the other evils. Here’s my reminder to you from this myth: hope is still here. It may be at the bottom of the Pandora’s box that was 2020. It may be weak, it may need some time to recover from being squashed by countless bad things. But hope never dies, and it can always be nourished back to health. A meditation that is so very relevant to the year of rebuilding that is ahead of us all.
As I turned the pages of this large book of myths, I came across a full page swathed in red and yellow. It was, of course, a full page illustration of the beautiful Phoenix. The legendary bird that in the course of its life would turn into ash, and then be rebirthed in flame. Through fire, it would remake itself into something new, something better. There’s something so compelling about this image, the image of the fire that creates rather than destroys. I imagined, as I continued reading, that the fires of 2020 could be thought of as a creative force rather than a destructive force. What if reframing my perception of 2020 could help lead me to a productive 2021?
I want to avoid pithy conclusions, fire is fire. It burns no matter what purpose it serves. And while it is good to try and avoid the flame, sometimes you careen into it anyways against your will. Think about your own fires that you’ve faced throughout 2020. Can they be reframed into something new? Can losing your job be an opportunity for a new start? Can losing faith in our societal structure lead to a new imagination of what our country could look like? These are the questions I’m asking myself as I head into the new year. This January is looking like a January of reflection and meditation. Instead of framing it as the end of a long night, I want to look at it as the birth of a new day. From deep ashes grow the strongest forests. Let’s make this January a Phoenix.