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.
With COVID-19 in full swing and the holiday season approaching, some might be wondering “Is 2020 over yet??” The holiday season can really be a stressful and lonely time for many people. And now that we are throwing a global pandemic into the mix, feelings of isolation might be an even more common theme than it already has been. I am right there with you, if you can’t wait for this year to be over. For all of you feeling this way, know that you are not alone! Also know that there are many things that we can do to get out of our holiday season funk.
First of all, let’s start by being kind to ourselves! Know that your feelings of isolation and loneliness are valid and it’s OK to be feeling what you’re feeling. Don’t beat yourself up! Feel those feelings, but try not to sulk in them for too long.
If you’re waking up and automatically feeling dreadful of the day to come, start your morning by thinking or writing out the things that you are grateful for that day. Write as many as 20 things. It might seem hard to write 20 whole things you are grateful for, but they don’t need to be huge things! Something as small as being grateful for hot coffee in the morning or a sunny day will do the trick. Also, don’t you dare start thinking down on yourself. Think about or write down all of the things that you love about yourself! Although these exercises seem simple, they are very effective!
“Do good, feel good.”
We’ve all heard this phrase before. Guess what? It really works wonders. The idea is that by doing something good for another person, you will in return receive what some might call a happiness “high.” You also don’t need to do anything crazy, but something as easy as holding the door open for someone, complimenting someone, or sending a nice text to a friend or family member will do the trick. Doing acts of kindness like these sorts of things will also help you feel more connected to other people. I don’t know about you, but I could definitely use a little bit more connection with people, especially during this pandemic.
In fact, feeling connected to others makes us kind. Research has shown that feeling connected to other people makes us feel happier and healthier. This is something that we wanted to incorporate into our end of the year campaign, Holiday Hope. For this campaign, we wanted to find a way to help out other organizations, while also recognizing the important lady bosses and bad asses in our lives. To participate, we ask you to donate in any amount, in honor of a womxn who has inspired you in some way. We are taking 15% of that donation and donating it to another organization in the Twin Cities that has a similar mission to our own. If you have a ladyboss or badass in your life that you want to acknowledge, this sounds like the perfect opportunity for you!
Another way to help you feel connected to others is through Zoom-ing with family or friends that you haven’t seen in awhile. This is something that I have started to incorporate into my life over the past 6 months. It helps me feel more connected to my friends even though I haven’t been able to see them for awhile. Consider setting up a happy hour or eat your dinner together over Zoom! It feels almost like you’re in the same room. USA Today even posted an article on the best games to play virtually!
I’ve also been connecting with others through Netflix Party. Through a downloadable extension on your computer, you are able to watch a movie on Netflix and instant message with a friend. If you have to pause the movie for whatever reason, it will pause their movie too! If you’re someone who misses going to the movies or misses watching movies with friends, this is a great idea!
We are going to have to get creative this holiday season. Although this might not be the holiday season you were dreaming of, connecting with others through the internet will help make it feel special! In the meantime, work on being kind to yourself and participate in our FYP Connections Through Kindness Challenge.
One random act of kindness + One recurring connection + one spontaneous connection = a deeper connections December.
Happy holidays from us at Find Your Power! We will see you next year!
Reclaiming Your Routine: A Proactive Approach to Winter
By: McKenzie Hickey
When creating a healthy routine for yourself it is crucial to remember that your individual schedule may be different than your family, friends or colleagues routine. You should curate the most beneficial routine that will fit your current lifestyle. Maybe you are someone who needs to have the same routine schedule every day each week? Eat the same breakfast each morning, workout in the afternoon each day, and brush your teeth at 10:15 p.m. each night. You also could be someone who needs constant change and variability in your schedule. Maybe Monday is your day off where you take a self care day, sleeping in, FaceTiming your Mom, going on a long walk around one of the 10,000 lakes. Maybe you need to work late hours from 4-10 p.m. when your brain is most stimulated.
Something important to keep in mind when crafting your own personal schedule is rewarding yourself with smaller victories. Making a to-do list helps you stay on track, but it is beyond alright if you don’t check off each individual task for the day. Set small goals and celebrate when you achieve them. Treat yourself to binge watching a show or buying that new makeup palette. I learned throughout college that overfilling your plate tends to leave your tank on empty. I personally struggled with having a balanced social, work and school life. I had a difficult time saying no to opportunities and people, and had little time to re-energize on my own. In order to create the prime schedule for your life, sometimes you have to diminish other areas of your life that are taking up too much time. Maybe it is quitting a job that is no longer fulfilling you, maybe it is slowly backing away from a friendship that is draining you, maybe it is learning to understand that you can’t do it all. We are not unfortunately super humans, we can only mentally and emotionally handle so much in our daily lives.
Find Comfort in the Chaos:
As we are still amidst a global pandemic, it is challenging to face the uncertainty and chaos this world currently holds. Change can be thrilling, but constant change can be draining and difficult to navigate the next steps. I know for me personally, I love the idea of adapting to new jobs, living environment, changing of the seasons, etc. However, adjusting to the quarantine lifestyle was chaos that I was completely shaken by. I had just graduated from college this past December, completely uncertain of my future plans. I was certain I would move away and start this new chapter of my life in a new place, far far away from Minnesota. I applied to at least 50 jobs out of state before I realized that the probability of me landing a job out of state was highly unlikely. It took awhile to accept that I was not being rejected because of my skills for a job, but because of the larger circumstances facing the world.
I began applying for more jobs in Minnesota and around mid June I landed my first job. The most bizarre part about when I landed the job is that after all of that time anticipating, hoping for the right opportunity to come along, I did not feel whole entirely. I had spent many days drained in my self-doubt thoughts of how I would never be good enough for any job and no one would hire me. Many of us get into these dangerous mind games where we think constantly of why we feel like failure and how we can do better. An enigmatic thought occurred that day when I accepted the job: That we are all more than a job. We are more than a college student or athlete. We are more than the expectations that have always been told to us by others. It is valid if you are unemployed. It is valid if you are still unsure what career path you want to take. It is valid if you do not have your agenda filled out for next week.
With all of the uncertainty these past few months, it is about finding unexpected comfort in chaos. Trusting the process and struggle, in hope that what is meant to be for you, will be. One beneficial tactic I learned during quarantine was to make the most of the free time that I had. I slept in, I read, I wrote, I ran outside, I painted, I learned the ukulele, and I had many laughs with two of my best friends who I was quarantined with. For me, it was becoming grounded in the notion that it could take months, or even a year, to find a job after graduating. Instead of ruminating on the fear of uncertainty, I began to find comfort in not knowing what tomorrow brings. I learned how to not plan my life a month in advance or a week in advance. I became entwined with the present day and comforted by all that was to be discovered in the near future.
Taking a Proactive Approach to Winter:
An important approach to staying productive: lessen the attitude that you need to do the most, while we are currently still living in a pandemic. Approach productivity with sensitivity and grace. With this approach, you can see that there is the opportunity to spend more time inside to reduce the contraction of Coronavirus among others.
Winter can be a challenging season due to the colder days and lack of sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to more intense feelings of sadness and little motivation. Two helpful ways that you can create sunlight is by buying a sun lamp, which mimics outdoor lighting. My roommate bought her sun lamp off of Amazon for fairly cheap and loves it. Also taking Vitamin D supplements can help increase low blood levels and help reduce depression.
When we begin to lose our minds while inside during long Winter days, going outside to escape seems less appealing. During the Summer and Fall there are more activities outside that keep our mental energies positive throughout the work week. However when Winter hits, the most we can withstand in the cold is maybe an hour. Therefore we have to get creative with ourselves to organize activities/outings that will keep us all motivated. Maybe it’s having an indoor paint/wine night with a few close friends. Maybe it’s connecting with a few individuals and working together on a creative side project. One of my creative outlets is conceptualizing photoshoots with some of my friends. I visualize a shoot idea and then my friends help bring that visual to life in front of the lens. Photography has been a creative outlet for me the past few years to express my ideas to others who might share the same interests. Maintaining a personal side hobby can truly increase your productivity, so you do not feel like you are only working constantly.
One of the best remedies for seasonal depression is establishing an event/activity to look forward to. A few of my close friends and I traveled to Lusten, Minnesota on Sunday and took a Gondola over all of the fall trees and it was a breathtaking experience to see how vast the fall colors spread across Minnesota. We did this four hour road trip in a day and drove back home the same day to make it to work on Monday. Planning a little road trip or activity each week or every couple weeks provides us the eagerness to stay productive during the work week. Productivity is an awesome way to stay motivated towards your upcoming goals. If you do not have many goals in mind, take time to think about what you want to accomplish before the year ends. Reflect and release any old habits that are not serving you. With productivity, also comes creating a balance between relaxation time as well! Do what aligns best for your needs and prioritize time for yourself as often as possible. Self-care and self-prioritization is an act of self-love and self-respect.
No matter what these next few months bring, always remember that you are only responsible for things you can control. Give yourself some grace and move through these next transitions in life with your intentions in mind. I challenge you to keep an open mind to what may be in store for you and you just may find out that when chaos comes, so does reflection, life-lessons, and new perspectives on self awareness. Take time to enjoy this autumn weather and the winter ahead, and make each day of your life as magical as possible, with small or large acts of self-love; because you deserve it! And you only get one life, so make it count.
“The most beautiful thing in this whole world is not made up of particles. It’s the strength of a person who has seen the collapse of their world, yet every morning, they wake up and build their life, all over again.”
These past six months have been anything but “normal”. What is normal anyway? Normal was not even applicable to my life before COVID-19 and I now realize that is ever-changing. Normal life means different things to different people worldwide. I propose we start reframing what the word normal means. One could individualize this for each person to do in their own lives, in response to what best serves them and their specific needs. Let “normal” define a lifestyle that best serves YOU and your specific needs. Normal should represent a life that allows you to be productive and authentically happy in a way that best suits you and your routine.
Almost all facets of my life have been disrupted in some way over the past several months. Most of these have been completely out of my control. Control and order have always been a strong part of my daily routine—I thrive off of organizing, planning, and scheduling my entire life. For any of you reading who can agree with me on this, this pandemic has been especially difficult, just in this specific aspect of losing complete control—financially, emotionally, and physically. Each week since mid-March this year has brought new challenges, introducing me to different coping mechanisms. I found myself frequently forgetting which day of the week it was or feeling extremely off-center mentally and emotionally. I have learned that that is OKAY and healthy. I believe each of us has discovered something new about ourselves and that may be a silver lining to all of this. I cannot simplify or deny the additional weight this pandemic has put on our backs, but I can easily expand on all of the things it has taught me about myself. The stress of the uncertainty of this pandemic has given many the opportunity to turn inwards and adapt to a journey of self-discovery that is new for some. Additionally, this pandemic has showcased the flaws and successes of our society that otherwise wouldn’t have been highlighted. It has been a learning experience for us all and there is no way anyone could have prepared our country for a catastrophe quite like this one.
As seasons are changing, so are schedules and routines. For me, school is right around the corner and I am getting ready to prepare myself for my last semester of undergraduate. Although this semester is going to look a lot different than previous years, I am choosing to go into this fall with an open mindset and accept change as a positive thing. I am a visual learner in so many aspects, so for me that vision of cyclical change of a new season represents a “reset” button. A notion of quite literally turning a new leaf and expanding my mindset to my new routine and new responsibilities. I am also using this change of seasons as a symbol of welcoming all of my incoming challenges as learning lessons. As we all know, these times are so unprecedented and unpredictable. I challenge you all to try and interpret any challenges that come your way in these next few months as an opportunity to learn and grow. When faced with a problem or unsettlement, try to remind yourself that—“Everything is happening is FOR you, NOT to you.” It can be difficult to not take things personally, I know, but the more you are able to remind yourself that everything that enters your life is an opportunity for growth, you may be able to handle challenges in a way that can help you learn and grow.
A tool I frequently use when starting a new “chapter” of my life is reflection. This can be a beneficial tool for many facets of life and allows you to be very intentional about what brought you to where you are today and how that journey has positively and negatively affected you. Take some time to sit down and be alone with your thoughts. You can possibly journal or create art that reflects how you’re feeling. By physically expressing how you feel may help you notice a shift in your thought patterns. How has this past summer benefitted you? How have you grown from the challenges of this past summer? What have you learned about yourself or your community? What worked for you and what didn’t? By reflecting on our past experiences allows us to better understand the present moment and creates a better understanding of our inner self as well.
After taking time to reflect on these past few months of summer, create some time this week to sit down and set simple guidelines for what you want to accomplish by the end of this year. We are four months away from 2021. Yes, that is crazy, but it just means you have four months to ultimately create a reality that best serves you and your goals for yourself. I am not a person who waits for January 1st to set goals for myself. It is a silly social construct that honestly restricts people from being accountable for their life. Why wait for a specific date to “life your best life”? Why not wake up each day with that mindset? I challenge you to dismantle the idea that you have to wait for a certain date to change your habits, goals, or dreams. Why not start now? I understand with unprecedented times like now that many of our habits and goals have shifted out of our control. Luckily, I have some good news for you. You are able to change and focus on things you CAN control. While taking time to set some goals for yourself during this next season, brainstorm things that are in your control and expand on how those things can help create a stable routine as we shift into a new season of the year.
With the hostile environment around us, it can be so easy to collapse at any moment from the heavy stress life pushes onto us. We may not be in control of what our outer world may manifest into, but we can unlock our inner world of peace and contentment. You and only you hold the key to that. Be intentional about your priorities these next few months, because that is a simple way to stay consistent with your habits and also allows you to break old habits that may no longer serve you. Try to frequently ask yourself “Does this support the life I am trying to create?”
Lastly, be forgiving to yourself and all that you embody. It is so liberating to commit to a life of wholeness instead of perfection. Self-forgiveness gives access to a mindset that is more compassionate and I believe we could all use a little more empathy for ourselves. As the leaves start to fall and the weather starts the change, become intentional about what you want to accomplish in the new season. Your mindset is the key to your success. Below I have added an intention setting worksheet to help put your thoughts onto paper and dreams into action. Here’s to a fresh start and new beginnings!
Be sure to checkout this month’s corresponding 3-day video challenge in our private facebook group, Elevate! + LBL, with our founder Ivy Kaminsky. She speaks on different tools that can take your goal setting and planning to the next level!
Never in a million years did I think that five letters and two digits would change my life so drastically. That I would ever understand what a coronavirus is, how it affects the human body, and feel such a strong mix of emotions every time one strain, in particular, is mentioned.
But here we are.
COVID-19 and the global pandemic that ensued changed the way many people around the world experience life. Plans were cancelled, studies interrupted, families kept away from each other, and the future became more uncertain than it has been in our lifetimes. Coupled with an economic downturn, a civil rights movement, and a presidential election campaign–this summer has thrown everything it has at us. Now it seems as if we’re living in limbo, this in-between place where we’ve grown accustomed to living in this never-ending uncertainty yet always feel stressed about that same uncertainty and what it means for the future, for our “normal” lives.
I can’t pretend to sit here and have the answers to what seem like some of this century’s biggest questions. After all, I have never lived through a global pandemic, and I’m not (unfortunately) a time-traveler from the future ready to tell you everything that happens (trust me, I wish). I can, however, share with you my experiences over the past five years months in the hopes that you may have felt/feel similar things. And maybe, together, we can begin to find ourselves again amongst the chaos of this time in history.
When I think about COVID-19, a mixed set of emotions comes to mind: fear, sadness, loss, confusion, anxiety… to name a few. I had the incredible opportunity and privilege of studying abroad in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, this last semester and was there when COVID descended upon the world. My classmates and I watched from afar as this real-life movie played right in front of us: infection rates spiked in the US, apocalyptic images of empty store shelves and jam-packed hospitals flashed across our new feeds, and other study abroad programs were sent home one by one. A Friday call with my sister studying back home in Minnesota started to open my eyes to the severity of the situation. Up until she was sent home from college, COVID didn’t regularly cross my mind. At the time, there were only 11 cases in South Africa, and all of them had come from travelers returning from Europe.
Little did I know, that was the last Friday I would spend abroad.
We got the email on Sunday, March 15th, 2020 at 7:30 PM. Earlier that day I had been surfing in the rain, wondering how I could be so lucky to be living somewhere so extraordinary, marveling at how beautiful life is. All of that is now overshadowed by three words that sit lonely at the top of my journal entry from that night: “We’re going home.”
The next week was a blur of saying goodbye to the new friends I’d made and 30 hours of traveling all boiling down to a hug-less welcome from my family (not because they didn’t love me but because of said 30 hours of traveling) and a world standing still. A country that was already foreign to me upon my return was made even more so by stay-at-home orders and a virus full of so much unknown.
Like so many, my world flipped upside down. I stayed in my basement for the first two weeks quarantining in case I’d caught COVID in an airport on my journey home. When I started classes again, with my professors in South Africa seven hours ahead of me, I was left to teach myself the material via PowerPoints, articles, and independent research. I felt abandoned as a student, but because no one was prepared to teach remotely–let alone remotely across 8,000 miles–I didn’t feel justified with my anger. I didn’t know what to direct it at other than the circumstance.
Throughout all of this turnover and distress, I felt as many others have: a longing for normalcy and a sense of hopelessness at the situation. I didn’t want to be in the country, let alone in my basement disconnected from my friends and all that I had begun to build while abroad. The confidence and understanding that I discovered slowly began to fade as the weeks went by with no end in sight. It was like I was trapped in Jello, stuck in time yet constantly jostled about by forces outside of my control.
What started as weeks turned into months of stay-at-home orders and fluctuating infection rates. Frustration at my reality and feelings of loss and loneliness began to boil over until I no longer felt them at all. After a while of hurting, feeling defeated, trapped, and angry about being home and all that I’d lost, I suddenly felt nothing. Life began happening to me without my intervention, and I didn’t care to stop it. I felt numb.
I love and connect deeply with art and poetry (although I’m not particularly great at either one), and I gravitated towards them amongst the turmoil. While mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed one day, I came across a post by someone I forgot I followed shortly before I left. Morgan Harper Nichols is an artist and poet whose words and style instantly voiced what I was feeling. She put words to what I thought was indescribable, and I slowly started to come to peace with what I went through and the trauma that I experienced. Her words of comfort gave me agency to fight the stuck-in-Jello feeling and apathy that had taken over my reality; they spoke to my soul. I learned to honor what happened, to hold onto the parts that felt magical, and to believe and acknowledge that even in my current state, I was growing. Her words helped center me during a time of chaos, a time when I felt as if I was just floating through space and time, just existing. They helped me refocus and root myself in reality.
Jump to present day: August 2020. It’s now been five months since the world as we knew it disappeared, and although I have begun to move past the initial struggles I had with loneliness and loss, I now worry more and more about the future. What will the next five months look like? How will they affect me, both physically and emotionally? What can I possibly do when all I see and hear are stories of what I can’t do, what I won’t be able to for a while? How can I stay centered in this time of continuing chaos?
One way that I’ve started tackling these questions is by shifting my mentality. Instead of focusing on the negative (which I found myself doing more than I’d like to admit over the past few months), focus on what you can do. This step may seem oversimplified and easier said than done, but it’s where we have to start. Think about all of the little things we can do now that we couldn’t before: we can get food from our favorite restaurant and enjoy the summer weather while eating it; we can successfully get through a Zoom meeting at work without someone’s audio mistakenly being left on; we can work and collaborate from home and in new ways that five months ago were not second nature or comfortable for us at all.
This mental shift may also mean finding that little piece of clarity in the chaos. Clarity for me came from the art and poetry of Morgan Harper Nichols and daily walks around my neighborhood. For you, maybe it’s hearing your children laugh, working out, or listening to music whose lyrics speak directly to your soul. Everyone’s clarity comes from something different; we’re experiencing and internalizing the chaos in different ways. It’s vital that we look for light, however, and don’t let ourselves get swallowed up and tossed around by the circumstances we’ve been given. We need to grab onto something, and each other, to center ourselves and focus on who we want to be.
It’s also okay just to be.
Life is overwhelming, and life during COVID is so much more so. One day you may feel on top of the world, like you’re ready to move past all of the feelings and memories brought up during the last five months and the next you may be back to square one. That’s okay. That’s normal. We’re not designed to “be okay” overnight. It takes time.
And while it’s okay to go with the flow and take each thing as it comes (sometimes that’s even necessary), don’t blindly accept the circumstances COVID has given you if you’re not happy with them. Evaluate where you are right now, and if it doesn’t match who or where or what you want to be, take action. Honor what you went through, the things and experiences that you lost, and center yourself in little things that bring you joy despite all of the difficulties. Plan a weekend trip to the park, daydream about a vacation you want to take when we can travel again, reorganize your bedroom or kitchen, etc. Move your body every day, look at plants (they increase happiness!), and feel the sunshine on your skin. Start with little things and create a reality for yourself that sits within the greater world reality.
Don’t settle for what has changed because of COVID if it makes you feel trapped/helpless or doesn’t bring you joy. Take back your life, plan for the future, and create your own reality outside of COVID’s confines. No matter how much it may seem to, self-growth doesn’t go away during tough times. It increases as we have more time to slow down, reflect, reevaluate, and recenter.
This reality creation does not mean pretending that everything is okay in a toxic, unnatural, or unquestioning way. It means evaluating your circumstances/state of mind, honoring that, and then with that understood and in mind, moving forward to make the best of your situation and reclaim your sense of purpose, motivation, and happiness. This process may not (and will not) happen right away, but it’s important to start making slow progress where you can so that you emerge from this time stronger and more confident in yourself than when it began.
As this time of unknowns continues, reclaim your life from what COVID made of it, and shift your mentality towards focusing on what you can do with the situation you’re in. Find what brings you clarity and grab onto it; center yourself in the lights found amongst the chaos. Even if you need to step back and just be, don’t blindly accept circumstances that don’t fill you with joy. Create your own reality inside of this crazy world of ours, and don’t settle for anything you wouldn’t have before. Although it doesn’t feel like it, you are growing right now. It just looks different. So give yourself the time, space, and forgiveness to foster that growth; find, hang onto, and center yourself in little things that bring you light; and continue your small steps forward through the chaos.
Looking for a place to start? Check out more of Morgan Harper Nichols’ poetry on her website: https://morganharpernichols.com/ or follow her on Instagram @morganharpernichols.
If you’re familiar with Find Your Power, you’ll know how much we prioritize effective use of digital resources. While we work towards implementing inclusive, relevant, and accessible technology into our community, we want to share some basic resources for you to add to your digital toolkit. Remember, information access+digital literacy=personal freedom and gender equity!
Communication: Perhaps the most impactful aspect of technology is that it enables us to communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime. Not only is this essential for professional endeavors, but it ensures we are able to communicate with our loved ones who may be separated by time and space. Since one of FYP’s goals is to equip immigrants with relevant resources, we believe that effective communication with those from their native countries is a valuable part of their transition experience. With that in mind, here are a few must haves for communication purposes for your life at home and the workplace:
Dropbox: Optimizing user friendly cloud sharing solutions, Dropbox is a staple for communication and storage. You can manage shared files, upload content, and conduct searches. For use on a work force team, integrate with your intranet solution where members can insert their content into a team workspace.
Google Drive: As one of the most versatile platforms, Google Drive earns its popularity by enabling users to store and share files, synchronize files across devices in real-time, and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings, and more. Several apps exist under the Google umbrella, including Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Offline options are available for Windows and macOS computers, and Android and iOS devices. Businesses can optimize Google Drive and its apps through G Suite, a monthly subscription including unlimited storage, enhanced file audit records and upgraded admin controls.
Skype: One of the most common telecommunication platforms, Skype offers fast connection with other users from around the globe. Select from individual or group calls and videos on a computer or mobile device; this even includes PC, Xbox, and Alexa. It’s free to use for messages, calls, and videos, and can gather up to 50 people. Skype is definitely a must-have for communicating with other employees, workers, and loved ones, whether close by or far away.
WhatsApp: Similar to Skype but unique to its own, WhatsApp enables users to send text messages, voice messages, make voice and video calls, upload and share images, documents, locations, and more. It operates on mobile devices or Windows and Mac computers while connected to the Internet. You can also sync conversations to any device. In addition to personal communication, WhatsApp also launched an app specifically for businesses to securely interact with clients and other business owners.
Slack: Short for Log of All Conversation and Knowledge, Slack is an important platform for businesses to interact and share information with other team members. Its features include chat rooms organized and searchable by topic, public and private groups, and workspaces. You can integrate Slack into a number of third-party programs, including Google Drive, Trello, Dropbox, Box, Crashlytics, Bluemix, Zendesk, GitHub, and more.
Marketing Services: If you’re working towards building a brand or developing a business plan, having an email marketing service is a necessity. Here are some reliable email marketing services that will kickstart and maintain organization in your business.
Mailchimp: Geared towards customized marketing and connectivity, Mailchimp is a reliable and user friendly tool for your personal or professional brand. After creating a free account, you will be able to organize your audience outreach strategy, make sign up pages, email campaigns, digital ads, postcards, and more; all while using a design studio that allows you to customize your work. If you’re new to the email marketing game, Mailchimp offers a “Mailchimp 101” course, in addition to other tips, guides, and tutorials. Find Your Power can attest to Mailchimp’s effective outreach and design; we use it for our email campaigns and love it!
Constant Contact: Growing rapidly in popularity, Constant Contact is a user friendly email marketing service that encompasses all your needs. Features include tracking and reporting email lists, contacts, email templates, marketing calendars, image libraries, Facebook ads, social media sharing tools, and more. Additionally, online training is provided for small businesses to learn skills in email marketing and apply it to their individual plan. More advanced options are available for Email Plus accounts, including email automation, surveys and polls, and online donations.
Drip: Used for a wide variety of marketing strategies, Drip offers innovative tools for marketing automation. You can integrate the program into other common website builders including WordPress and WooCommerce, which prompts additional leads for your website. Drip is known for its user friendly features and support options through webinars, automation training, free courses, guides, and documentation.
Project Planning: Having a project planning software is a must-have for a well organized lifestyle, both personally and professionally. With a good project management software, you can assign tasks, set deadlines, establish a communication feed, and most importantly, ensure individual and team productivity. So whether you’re looking to collaborate with a team, or make a meal plan for the week, here are some popular services for your projects:
Trello: With Trello, you can collect tasks into lists and arrange as needed while viewing the entire day. You can also add comments, upload content, create checklists, and set labels and due dates. It updates in real-time, and will sync with any and all of your devices. You can use your free Trello account for yourself, or add an unlimited number of teams to connect and work with.
Basecamp: With Basecamp, you won’t have to worry about digging through your inbox for old information from a colleague. Basecamp keeps all your communication organized by topic. Schedules are accessible to the whole team and due dates, reminders, and change notifications can be set. All projects include a space for content to be uploaded, and can be linked to your Google Docs account for easy content transfers. Once you establish the basics, you can get creative with your organization by color coding and ordering projects as you see fit.
Finding ways to become more productive is something that is always in the back of our heads. What can we do to accomplish more, get more done in less time and in the most successful way? As I have grown up, gotten my first job, and gone to college, I have experienced the endless list of commitments, assignments, and simple tasks on the to-do list. Honestly? It can get extremely overwhelming. For a while, I felt as if I was living day to day, trying to get everything done that I had to do and feeling the stress of being unorganized and scattered. Even as I got more on top of my responsibilities, it still felt difficult to achieve the level of success I wanted for myself. Whatever your work may be at a full-time job, school, or at home, there will always be things that need doing. Here are three steps that have helped me find success to implement into your work day that will help you level up your productivity.
Make reasonable goals for yourself
When I was little, every morning when I woke up, my mom would ask me what I wanted to accomplish today. This helped me to feel that everyday was a chance to learn, create, and accomplish. Of course, as I got older, those goals became more focused on what I had to get done for school or a job or other commitments I had made, but making goals each morning helped to have a focus. Whenever I checked off one of my goals for the day, I had a great sense of accomplishment. To some, daily tasks may not seem like something to celebrate, but setting out to get something done helps you feel excited to cross something off your list.
One of the most important things to making goals for yourself is making reasonable goals. When I first got to college there were so many things I wanted to do and try. Between classes and clubs, work and friends, I began to overload my goals each day with a completely unrealistic list of things to accomplish by the end of the day. I became so overwhelmed because I felt unsuccessful when I didn’t finish everything. In actuality, my failure came from my overload of goals, not my inability to complete them. When you look ahead at your day, even if you think of lots of tasks or activities you want to complete, think realistically: “Do I have enough time in my day to achieve all of these goals?” If you find yourself doing what I did and getting overly ambitious, take a second to write down your goals. Instead of just one day, divide it up over the week and think of what can wait until tomorrow.
“Be stronger than your strongest excuse” – Unknown
Pro Tip #1: Have the hardest thing on your to-do list be the first thing you cross off. Whether it’s a hard and daunting task or simply something you don’t want to do, the longer you wait, the more you dread it. It’s very easy to make excuses for yourself and continually put off doing that dreaded task, but excuses are the enemy of productivity! And try not to put more than three major things on your list to accomplish in a day, or you might be setting yourself up for failure.
Start each day with the mindset you want to have all day long
This may sound like a no brainer, but being mindful of the attitude you want to have can make all the difference. Taking just two minutes each morning when you wake up to say some positive affirmations to reflect the kind of mindset you want to have will set you up for the kind of day you will have. A positive attitude can make all the difference in your productivity. Sometimes we can feel bogged down by the many items on our to-do list or the mountain of responsibility at work. Your attitude when you first wake up can set the mood for your whole day, so make it a positive one and set yourself up for success! It might feel silly, but as soon as you sit up in bed saying some positive affirmations out loud. “There is nothing I can’t get done today!” “I create success in everything I do” “Today I will achieve everything I set out to do” You can even write down some of your own the night before and read them aloud to yourself as you get ready for bed or for the day. The words you put out will resonate with reality. Throw in a power pose too while you’re at it!
Pro Tip #2: Get up and go outside! It’s easy to forget just how much of our day we spend sitting. Studies show that your focus begins to diminish when you are sitting down or focusing on one thing for more than 50 minutes. Getting up and moving our bodies helps our brain flow and keeps our body awake. Even if you are moving a lot during the day, make sure to take some breaks to get outside and soak up some good old vitamin D! Or better yet, get some vitamin D while moving your body.
Reward yourself as you check things off your list
Even if it’s something you do everyday, or seems really easy, you should still feel proud of yourself for getting it done and checking it off your list. There will always be more things that we need to accomplish each day and one way to stay on top of all that is reminding ourselves of our abilities and taking time to appreciate ourselves. Now I know what you’re thinking: To be more productive I should give myself rewards? Yes! It can become so easy to take our own selves for granted and the hard work we do daily. Taking time to celebrate these little victories wakes up that little voice inside our heads to say, “Wow, you are absolutely slaying the game! What else can you do?” Not only do rewards work as incentives for our work, but they remind us that we are constantly working our butts off and we all deserve to celebrate our hard work.
Pro Tip #3: Put your phone away! Technology can be a great tool to help us with our work but it can also be our greatest enemy. Social media is procrastination’s best friend. Sometimes it’s not enough to just set our phone face down, so try putting it in a drawer or even in a separate room. If this is something you especially struggle with, give yourself a couple minutes on your phone every hour or every time to check a task off your list. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done when the temptation to pick up your phone is out of reach. And if you can’t bear to have your phone away from you, turning off your notifications temporarily while you need to focus on something important is a great tactic.
Breaking down our challenges into steps that we can easily approach and accomplish help to remove any stress or mental barriers that hold us back. While it is always desirable to want to accomplish more and more everyday, it is important to balance the quality of our work with the quantity. Taking these three steps into account on a day-today basis can help you become more productive.
By Nell Enright
Body image in 2019 is a movement. How often have you felt not good enough when
thinking of your own body? In our culture, comparison is a very real thing. It’s so easy
not to think you are thin enough, tall enough, or simply, enough. But let me let you in on
a little secret: so does everyone. I am certain that Beyonce herself has her share of bad
days. In today’s day and age, it is so easy to compare yourself. Go on social media, flip
through a magazine, or wander through the mall. You learn to see beauty every day, but
not in yourself. I have a proposition for you.
What if we changed that? What if all of us
decided to embrace our bodies for exactly what they are? Our bodies do so much for
us, so why should we do a disservice to them and want something different? Perhaps
instead of saying “Dear Body, I wish you were just a few inches taller, or, I wish I had a
flatter stomach, but instead say Thank you. Maybe even write a love letter to your
body, honoring and appreciating it for all that it has done for you. It has given you feet
for dancing, a heart for loving, and a brain that whirs with all your recklessly amazing
ideas. Lately, I have turned my body insecurity to more of a positive subject. Instead of
being mad about my shortcomings, I have accepted them. Don’t get me wrong. I have
had days where my only thought seems to be, compare, compare, compare. My mind
races with thoughts that I don’t look like them, so I must not be good enough. I
challenge every one of you to value and honor your body for what it is. We should
create a spark where ever we go. Far too often, I have belittled myself for simply being
human. So I throw a filter on that photo, adjust my legs, so they look thinner, and
constantly wonder if I’m good enough. We are all beautiful, outstanding beings,
destined for big extraordinary things. Life’s too short to worry about the way our
stomachs or arms appear. Let’s measure the size of our hearts, the smiles we have,
and the measure of breaths we take that proves that we are truly, recklessly alive. We
are all different and beautiful and bright. Let’s be kind and lift other humans because, in
the end, everyone is the same.
A Love Letter to My Body:
I hope you are doing well. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for my lungs that give
me breath, thank you for my hands so they can create beautiful pieces. Thank you for
my eyes and ears to soak up new and old sights and sounds. Thank you for this vessel
that brings me through life. Thank you for getting me back up every time I have gotten
kicked down, and for giving me legs to walk away when I need to. Thank you for my
shoulders so I can roll them back and own it. Thank you for my mouth so I can speak
words of kindness. Thank you for allowing me to yell and scream at you to be better.
Thank you for letting me learn to love you as you are and for letting me accept you.
Thank you for making me beautifully unique. Thank you, dear body, for all that you
have done and will continue to do for me in this crazy journey called life.
A life long friend
Before my mother and father got married, my mother (who has a CFA, has a master’s degree from Harvard in business, and began her own financial consulting business in 1998) had already begun to take over her mother’s finances with the help of her financial advisor. After she married my father (who has a Communications degree and works in Public Relations), the financial advisor congratulated her… and asked to take her husband out to lunch. After that, every financial advisor they ever had only wanted to deal with my father- and ignored my mother.