Creating a Podcast During Quarantine

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Wow! How’s quarantine treating you in week…9? For me, it’s been ebbs and flows of anxiety, optimism, frustration, productivity, contentment and…wait. Am I just describing the cycle of my life regardless of quarantine? *shrugs* Who knows? lol. Anyways, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this time. Thank you in advanced for taking valuable time out of your day to read this post. You could be watching all the Netflix, quarantine baking, spending your QT (updated abbreviation definition: quarantine time) in 1,000+ ways. So you stopping to peruse this post means a lot.

With that said, let’s get to the point of this post: I STARTED A PODCAST with my childhood friend Vanessa! 🙂 Love you Nessy! Side note: be sure to check out her blog Help Me I’m Poor: Finding Financial Freedom

We are new proud parents of “I’M UNCOMFORTABLE,” a not-so-serious-but-full-of-sincerity podcast discussing all things cringe-y, awkward and uncomfortable. This means that there are endless topics we can delve into and we are equal parts excited and nervous to do so. Speaking of excited/nervous, we officially launched TODAY, May 12, 2020! So after reading this, you can mosey on over to this link: imuncomfortablepod.podbean.com

Our premiere episode, which we’ve officially named Episode 0, is about the who, the when and the why. Who are we? When and why did we decide that a podcast is what we wanted to create? I find that it’s a nice little introduction to how the podcast is going to flow moving forward…but maybe I might be a little biased. Regardless, you can get a sample of the vibe by listening to our fun intro jingle:

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThe journey towards “I”m Uncomfortable” has been both a long and short one. Partnering together in some fashion was something Vanessa and I talked informally about for years. But, from my understanding, the specific idea of a podcast was concocted in our brains when we attended the Create & Cultivate Los Angeles Conference in January 2020 together (Nessy correct me if I’m wrong).

I immediately thought of Vanessa when considering attending the conference because we both dabble in side hustles and were in dire need of some rejuvenation and inspiration. Many, if not all, of the panels and workshops we attended mentioned bringing in a unique voice and opinion to the conversation. Another common thread of conference conversation was that everyone pursuing a business venture and/or creative dream is figuring it out along the way. No one knows what they are doing. The difference between those amazing women on these panels and us in the audience was that they made the leap. I’m forever grateful for that weekend because it turned out to be just what we needed. A mini retreat of sorts. Actually, what ended up becoming part of our logo for the podcast is based off of pictures that we took at the conference. Who would’ve known? Not I!

A month or so passed after the conference and during one of my extra productive-feeling days spent at a local coffee shop, I decided to create a shared document labeled “The Podcast.” I pretty much brain dumped episode ideas, the beginnings of a suggested structure and a few potential names (none of which we went with btw). I sent this working document over to Nessy and it ended up being the catalyst that somehow led us to today: launch day. From a shared doc, to purchasing microphones, many technical difficulties and many late delirious meetings later, we created something from nothing.

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I’m so proud of us! I honestly can’t wait to see where this takes us. Wish I could drink champagne physically with you today, but I’ll take clinking glasses virtually for now. Cheers to many more moments of the aforementioned challenges and fun times ahead of us…the next challenge being disseminating our podcast to the two big podcast listening apps: Apple and Spotify.

Side note: shout out to my friend Alvin (Vanessa’s BF) who gets the honorable credit of executive producer. He came up with the final name of the podcast, provided topic suggestions that we’ve turned into episodes and constantly deals with Vanessa’s struggle to set up her equipment LOL. I appreciate you! 

To wrap things up, starting a podcast is all great and exciting (and a lot of work lol). But what I am most excited about is the fact that I firmly believe in the intention behind the conversations we will have with this platform: learning to be okay with acknowledging and confronting the uncomfortable moments in life. If that’s up your ally, join us every Tuesday for a new episode of “I’M UNCOMFORTABLE.”

Sincerely,

Melissa

 

Let it Ink in

Let it Ink in

Before I dive into this post, I’d like to do the age-old “Wow, life happened and that’s why I haven’t posted in a while” spiel. So thank you in advance for indulging me.

Oh hello there 2020! It feels like I stumbled into the new decade carrying the clutter of my mind that I was hoping to leave in 2019.  I’ve had a whirlwind of a start to the year and somehow I’ve arrived at the tail-end of February 2020 (as I’m writing this). It sort of feels like I’m on a treadmill, months behind, trying to catch up to the marathon that is this new decade. But here I am, trudging through as always. I’m more grateful than ever to be healthy, to have chosen and be a part of a support system that has carried me through more than they even know, and to be here to embark on this new year.

IMG_8883Speaking of running metaphors, I’ve started running again. Why you ask? Well, since you asked so nicely, I’ll tell you. The simple answer is that I signed up for a half marathon in April. Consequently, out of sheer fear of being unprepared for what will be my second half marathon, I’m training. The complicated answer, yet still pretty simple in my opinion, is that I think I needed a literal kick in the ass. To say the least, I’ve had a ROUGH past six months mentally and emotionally, but I think I needed a physical manifestation of pain and therefore growth. Oh…you thought that masochistic Melissa was left in 2019? Nope, she’s still here, alive and well. But let me explain so I don’t come off as a complete psychopath.

After running my first half marathon back in 2017, I remember telling myself, “Cool. That’s over, that was kind of horrible, I don’t think I’ll do that again.” But on a whim back in November, I decided to sign up for a half marathon to force myself out of a comfort zone that I’ve made for myself. I don’t consider myself a runner because frankly, I’m not really good at it. I’m slow, I somehow end up in pain most times and I wouldn’t say I have great endurance. Did I mention I’m slow? Anyways, thus far, I have definitely been reminded of how humbling navigating physical pain is, how encouraging it feels to work on overcoming it and how empowering it is to notice growth. So that’s why I’m doing it. I also felt like I needed to be outside more. S.A.D. got me good this winter.

Anyways, that was my not-so-short update on life since my last post. Now onto the real reason why I’m here. I got my first tattoo! Hence the cheesy post title *shrugs*. I wanted to document the origin of the idea and why it means so much to me. I originally meant to write and publish this post before the end of December, but like I mentioned, life happened, I took time to let myself process and I’m glad I waited to be in a lighter headspace. I’m hoping it’s helped me better articulate what you are about to read.


Taboo

I grew up in a culture and environment that considers tattoos taboo. It’s never been addressed directly, but the implication is there. The reaction I received (or lack there of) from my parents upon showing them my tattoo reinforces the taboo. There is a misunderstanding as to why I would even want a tattoo and no desire to want to know more about it. But it’s alright though, I’ve long since accepted my place as the family black sheep and this little tattoo is just buying into the branding. LOL. I know they still love me. Plus, if they really wanted to know what the tattoo means to me, this post will be here for them.


The Catalyst

I wanted a tattoo for a number of years and always seemed to find an excuse as to why I shouldn’t get one. All throughout college I wanted one, played with some design ideas, but never followed through. I thought that maybe I was just going through a delayed rebellious phase. LOL. I was scared that it would hurt. Well, it did hurt. But honestly, I’ve gone through emotional and mental strife worse than the physical pain of getting a tattoo…TMI? Sorry not sorry. I will also add that this is a pretty small and fine-lined tattoo. So I feel like I was spared a lot of pain.

A lot of my hesitation was also based on what others thought or may think about me. What would my parents think? What would future me think? I was told by some to really think about what I wanted and if in two years I still wanted it, then get it. Others questioned: How would I know I’ll like that (referring to the intended artwork) later in life? Well, I let a lot of time pass and here I was, heading towards 2020, a chameleon to what others thought on the matter. Why did I care so much about the hypothetical opinions about something as inconsequential as a freakin’ tattoo?! It was insanity. So that was the catalyst. The idea that I allowed myself to be a bystander in my own life scared me more than the potential thoughts my parents (or anyone really) would have, the pain I would “endure” to get the tattoo and the potential that my future-self would loathe my present-self for getting it. HOW INSANE IS THAT?? I’m trying to live my life in reality, not in hypotheticals people.


Symbolism

IMG_7339I’ve always feared and admired the commitment required when getting a tattoo. People decide to get tattoos for a plethora of reasons. Whether it’s to commemorate a loved one or important date in one’s life, or purely out of love of the craft and art. I love that a tattoo can be so many things for people. My body’s a temple right? Why not place some really beautiful pieces of art in that temple 🙂

This first tattoo means so many different things to me. So let’s break it down:

  1. The symbol – An ampersand. I’ve always loved how the symbol looked. I’ve seen it in so many pieces of literature, written so many different ways.  The flowing lines and the way it has been adapted throughout the years is amazing. An ampersand is a logogram representing the phrase “and, per se, and” AKA “and.” For me, it’s symbolizes continuation. There is more to me than what I allow most people to see; there is more to be experienced in the story that is my life; there are many more seasons of growth ahead of me; beyond the pain there are many more lessons to be learned; there are so many things and people to be grateful for in my life. This symbol encapsulates abundance and appreciation of myself and the life I have. My life is abundant. During some of my darker times, I need that reminder. Now I won’t forget.
  2. Position and Direction – The tattoo is on my inner left wrist, facing me. I wanted it to be seen and read by me before anyone else. It’s on my left arm because I’m left-handed and I wanted it placed there as a visual reminder that while I exist in a world tailored for the opposite of who I am: left-handed, woman, woman of color, etc. I find strength in those unique qualities. That is what makes me, me.
  3. Nature – Intertwined branches, leaves, flowers both as buds and fully bloomed illustrate the happenings of life. It’s an oxymoron, but the way the fine lines intertwine with each other is delicate. But in the same way, the intertwining of branches create strength that hold up the leaves and the flowers that come and go. As seasons pass, we grow new branches, those branches grow buds, those buds bloom into beautiful flowers, and then back to branches we go. It’s a constant cycle. Seeing the tattoo is a daily reminder to express gratitude for the delicate life I get to experience through it’s ups and downs; and the strength I’ve developed and will continue to develop along the way.

Onto the Next

I got this tattoo back in November 2019. I kept it to myself, close friends and family for these four months and I’m glad I did. It allowed me time to let it heal, get it re-touched, let it heal again, let myself get used to it, and really appreciate it. The first few weeks I actually freaked out and regretted getting it done (I didn’t tell anyone this though…I figured saying it out loud would make the regret true, so I didn’t). I found myself hiding it underneath sweaters and long sleeves, being hyper aware that my tattoo was underneath. But what I found comforting was that it was winter, so long sleeves and sweaters didn’t seem out of the ordinary. After those few weeks of doubt, I find myself literally stopping in the middle of my day, seeing it and mouthing the words “omg it’s so cute.” 🙂

I love what this cute little first tattoo of mine means to me. It’s part of my story and I am proud of it…and yes, you read it right. I did say first. I already have tattoos two and three brewing in my head. I’m also working on seeing who from my cousins would be down to go in on some ink with me. FAM TATTOO!! No real takers yet…but I totally get it. Maybe they’ll come around one day.

Big shout out to Wilber at Baron Art Tattoo! He adapted a sketch a friend of mine made into the final artwork. Their artists are all so talented and specialize in different types of tattoo art. Highly recommend, 10/10. Check them out if you are in the market for some ink. I went to their second location in Long Beach…so dangerously close to where I live lol.

Anyways, if you read this far, wow. Thank you for taking the time to share in this joy with me. Onto the next!

Hmm…is this going to turn into a tattoo blog now? *contemplates life choices* 😛

Sincerely,

Melissa ❤

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Energy in Motion

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For a long time I thought that my high level of sensitivity, introspection and empathy were weaknesses. I don’t really remember a distinctive moment when I realized that those very characteristics I considered weaknesses, have been strengths in disguise this whole time…but I want to say it happened within this past year. But who knows? What is time anyway? Lol. All I know is that some sort of evolution happened and all of a sudden I’m in a headspace where I am able to comprehend it.

I struggle everyday with the ebb and flow of my feelings…and oddly enough, I’m grateful for it. I feel things so deeply and think about things so thoroughly that it can be overwhelming. Ever experience being pummeled by an underestimated wave? Yeah, it’s a bit like that. Even as I am in the midst of a wave as I write this, not knowing which way is up or down, I find a sense of clarity…because I’m reminded that I know how to swim. I’m also reminded that I’ve established roots that I can use to navigate myself back when needed. These days, when people ask me if I’m okay in tumultuous moments, my answer is usually: no, but I will be.

I’d rather experience intense waves of emotion than exist in indifference…because I’ve been there before. There was a point in my life where I didn’t know if I could allow myself to feel…for anything or anyone. I let others tell me how to feel and what to think for so long that I ended up forgetting who I was. YIKES. Dark times, am I right? But with time, I relearned the following:

  • How to have an opinion, whether negative or positive about things, ideas and people
  • That having a unique and strong opinion is valid
  • Not only who I was but to appreciate myself and my accomplishments
  • That I have no reason to apologize for any of it (as long as I’m being respectful of others of course)

My ability to be passionate about a concept, to care so very deeply for someone and to be so driven towards a goal…is ultimately a gift (and a curse lol). These tendencies have shown me my best memories and my most impactful lessons. I’ve come to acknowledge that the frequency in which my thoughts and feelings emanate from me have attracted the unique experiences and relationships that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of.

In the past, I coped with negativity by attempting to place blame, whether it be on circumstance, others or myself (emphasis on the latter). It seemed easier at the time, but that’s because I didn’t know how to swim. I didn’t know how to navigate the wave. So I dragged myself and others down with me. Not ideal. However, the current wave I’m treading through is taking me somewhere I’ve never been before and while it’s anxiety-inducing at times, I’m going to let it…because I know I can keep myself afloat.

Learning to be okay with not being okay all the time has been a catalyst to my growth process. In the words of the Queen Bee herself, “The tears we cry let us know we alive.” It’s so true. The most impactful learning moments are created when forced to face raw emotion. You feel most alive when you physically feel the emotion coursing through you. At least that’s how it is for me. I’ve joked about always having been a cry baby, but in reality it is a symbol of my emotional intelligence. I’ve learned that the act of crying is a vehicle for thoughts and emotions. Letting go of the ego and allowing vulnerability is where I find my strength. It’s energy in motion my friends, we must let it flow through us and allow ourselves to absorb all that it has to teach us, even though it’s not always a pretty site to see. Everyone else is doing the same thing we are: figuring it out. Your puffy eyes and red nose are a visual representation of progress ❤

“The most beautiful people are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

– Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

To close out this train of thought, I’ve recently been reminded of the beauty in loss and it’s equal parts frightening and enlightening. That concoction of emotion is exciting. I’m looking forward to what it will bring into my life.

To those who have come and gone: I recognize that I am/was a part of your journey towards growth and I am not angry or resentful about that. You are a breathing, moving, thinking and feeling person just like me…navigating through discovering needs and wants in this thing called life. I am sincerely grateful that our lives intertwined, even if just briefly, regardless of the outcome. You are just as much a chapter of growth for me as I have been for you, so thank you.

Sincerely,

Melissa

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A Weekend in Mendocino, CA

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Now that July (AKA the best month of the year) is a wrap, I officially feel that I have accepted being 27. This is the year that I am officially okay with being in my late-twenties. I don’t know what this feeling officially is…but after giving it some thought, I don’t think I was ever fully jiving with being 26. I think it partly has to do with the anxiety that is a result of the arbitrary goals our younger selves put on our future selves. I figured at around 10 years old, the idea of turning 25 is OFFICIALLY OLD and that life should be figured out by then. But I’ll tell 10-year old Melissa right now that it seems that LIFE NEVER GETS “FIGURED OUT.” There’s no official formula…and that’s the fun part. Regardless, here I was,  all of a sudden 26.

Granted, I am in no way dismissing the things I have achieved thus far. I am grateful for the steps that have led me to being able to purchase a car with the amenities I wanted, help support my parents, pay down my student loans, still have some to save and maintain the lifestyle that I do. But, the grass is always greener right? There will always be more that I thought I would have achieved by “this time.” But don’t fret 10-year old Melissa…we’ll get there.

I think part of navigating my 26th year has been realizing that the hustle-till-you-drop game is a double-edged sword. Being goal-oriented is perfectly fine. Surrounding myself with other goal-oriented and motivated people inspires me to do better.  But I’m so done with the imbalance that is being hyper-focused on career/life goals that you forget to enjoy the process. I’ve come to realize that the truest achievement is getting through all of it, while maintaining a level head on your shoulders. I’ve let go of so much unnecessary stress by simply processing that work is work and that it will be there tomorrow regardless of how I feel about it. There is no reason why I should be coming home from work everyday crying and losing sleep over it. That’s ridiculous. There are so many other issues and projects that warrant my stress and tears more than work. However, that sentiment comes from my specific experience and perspective. I’m fortunate enough to even have the brain space to explore that concept. Some people are out there hustling day-in and day-out to simply survive – and that’s their story to own.

Wow. Okay…Anyways, this is supposed to be a post about the wonderful end-cap weekend to my birthday month. I just wanted to preface it with some tidbits of perspective and growth that have led me to this point. I love my life for all of its oddities and I’m excited for the year of 27.


Why Mendocino?

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One of the ways I stay motivated is to plan things that I can look forward to and break me out of my routine. As a birthday treat to myself, I wanted to escape Los Angeles for a weekend to a place that was not a major city and had healthy access to nature. I simply wanted fresh air and different scenery…so Mendocino seemed to fit the criteria.

Mendocino County is known for it’s variety in landscape. The coastal cliffside views, the estuaries (learned what those were that weekend), the redwood forests not too far up the mountainside, the meadows in-between. The commute included a short flight into San Francisco and a mini three-hour road trip further north, with amazing views along the way.  I was also very spoiled and did not drive once that weekend, so I was able to fully take a nap (lol) and fully take in the views…thanks MB2 ❤

Pro tip for my motion sickness-inclined friends: bring Dramamine. Windy roads ahead.


The Hideaway Cottage

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There is a healthy amount of bed and breakfasts, seaside inns and boutique hotels in the area. However, I opted for an AirBnb. I wanted to have the freedom of ample space and a full-sized kitchen to cook. I also think this decision stemmed from the fact that I’m an introvert, so I crave space and value my privacy. Yes to less human interaction LOL. I chose a spot that was a short drive from Mendocino’s downtown area (which is more of a quirky, quaint town) and a 5-10 minute drive from their well-known State Parks (Russian Gulch and Van Damme).

I loved everything about this house in the woods! The large windows that let in the sunlight that filtered through the surrounding redwood trees; the high-vaulted ceilings; the natural wood finishes; the fully-stocked kitchen where we cooked dinner on Friday night; the front deck and table where we enjoyed Saturday morning breakfast; the comfy couch in the living area where we watched a movie, enjoyed dessert and sipped on wine; the claw-foot tub where I enjoyed a nice bath (I never take baths!) while sipping on more wine. All of it contributed to the pure disconnection I was craving and it was glorious.

If you are interested in staying at this exact AirBnb, see the official posting here: Mendocino Hideaway Cottage. Thank you Bill and Marilyn!


Wine to Unwind

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Apparently, Highway 128 is also known as “Wine Road.” On the way into Mendocino, we passed a number of vineyards and wineries. If you aren’t set on an itinerary, I think it would be a fun way to spend the day: pulling off the road to enjoy a tasting at one of the wineries and then jumping to another after that. But of course…drive safely my friends.

We spent the afternoon at Pacific Star Winery in Fort Bragg, about 15-20 minutes north of Mendocino. After an intriguing California wine history-filled tasting (shout out Don, fellow SoCal native turned NorCal transplant), we bought two reasonably priced bottles (one for now, one for later) and headed to one of the many available seating areas that overlooked the seaside cliffs. The property grounds are fairly large, so where we decided to stake our wine bottle felt like our own little spot. We were able to enjoy the scenery and talk without disturbing or overhearing others. I don’t think I’m capable of accurately describing just how surreal the view was. The sound of the ocean crashing against the rocky shoreline, whale watching in the distance, the hum of the bumblebees doing their day’s work on the native brush that lined the cliffside. I also can’t accurately describe just how healing wine, sunshine, a coastal breeze and great company is. TAKE ME BACK.


Adventures Outdoors

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After our wine session, we headed back down towards Mendocino, but stopped over at Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. I looked at so many gorgeous pictures of the colorful sea glass during my research, and set that as my only real must-do during the trip. I think the history of the beach is actually quite beautiful. Up until 1967 it was once a designated dump site, but after its closing, many cleanup programs to reverse the damage and years of the waves crashing and tumbling the glass and pottery pieces to make colorful sea glass, it became known as Glass Beach. But, I’ll be honest and say that I was slightly disappointed when I saw it. I’m convinced that the rise of the beach’s popularity may be the culprit of the lack of sea glass that I actually saw when I went. After some deeper research, I found several other reviews noting the same thing: little-to-no sea glass. 😦

Regardless, it was still a nice pit stop before heading back to Mendocino for a late afternoon hike. Except that we made another pit stop at the AirBnb and I knocked OUT for a few hours. I blame the sun and wine. Anyways, after my semi-unexpected slumber, we went for a quick evening exploration of Russian Gulch and enjoyed a mixture of crisp evening forest air and sweeping coastal cliffside views. Golden hour was gorgeous. I highly recommend not being like sleepy and wine saturated me and take advantage of the full hike. If I hadn’t slept we probably could have made it to the waterfall. But, we didn’t want to risk being in the forest when the sun went down. NO MA’AM.

We also went into Van Damme to see the pygmy forest on Sunday morning before we headed back on the road to San Francisco. What’s a pygmy forest you say? It’s a forest of really old trees, but instead of towering high above you, because of the nutrient-deficient soil, their growth was stunted. Interesting history once again! We cheated by skipping the hike and driving directly to the entrance of the pygmy forest. But, we were on a tight schedule, so we did what we needed to not miss out on it. I would think it would be an awesome morning hike.


Eats

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I don’t really have photo evidence of the wonderful eating we did in Mendocino – except for what we did eat at the AirBnb. But before I get into my thoughts on the restaurants we visited, I will say this: it’s worth it to go into their local grocery shop in town to do some of your own cooking; granted you are staying in a space that has a capable kitchen. We did that for Friday night, which was perfect after our day of traveling. We wanted to have some time to settle into the AirBnb, unwind and rest up for the full day of activities ahead of us. So a night in was a good call. We ended up cooking up some veggies and rib eye on the iron skillet…and we of course brought back some local wine to accompany it all.

On Saturday night we went to Trillium Cafe, located in their little downtown. I read a number of great reviews during my research and it really did live up to them. While the food and drink were on the upscale end, the restaurant itself felt cozy and unpretentious. I think it has to do with the fact that the restaurant is operated in tandem to an inn of the same name. The space definitely felt as if it was formerly a house – think The Attic in Long Beach, except more intimate, a small seaside-facing deck and way better/non-gimmicky food (Ooh, the SHADE). We were seated at a corner table inside and my view was of the colorful flowers and little bits of sunlight that were left, filtering through the window frames. It was fully night time when we finished, and the short walk back to the car under the starry night sky (sans light pollution) was an idyllic way to close out the evening. EXCEPT – we set ourselves up for even more success by copying the couple next to us and ordered a dessert to-go. We got the peach tart with sweet cream ice cream and enjoyed it while watching a movie back at the AirBnb. We ended the night with a wine cap of course. WIN.

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On Sunday morning, we went for breakfast at Circa ’62, located in Little River, before officially hitting the road. The restaurant is also adjacent to an inn called: Inn at Schoolhouse Creek & Spa. Views overlook – you guessed it – the ocean. I will never get over how picturesque everything we did that weekend was. I recommend trying their huevos rancheros and what they call their “slow death on a raft.” You’ll thank me later.

After that, we departed on our drive back to the hustle-and-bustle of San Francisco. Such a stark difference in just pace alone. Then it was back to reality. I am grateful to have spent a weekend to recharge for the busy months ahead and end my birthday month on a high note.

It was my kind of perfect ❤


BONUS: Check out the short collage of clips I put together from the weekend!

Sincerely,

Melissa

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Broken is Not a Personality Trait

I feel strongly that the negative occurrences of my past are contributing writers to the ensemble of a person I am today. A continual work in progress; a woman who has experienced enough to have hurt others, to have been hurt and to have realized that all of it is a messy package of character-building.

But — it’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of negativity; incrementally justifying thoughts and actions that foster stagnation. For example: self-deprecation as a coping mechanism. I do it often (less so now) and I witness others take part as well. Like everything, there are levels to it, ranging from seemingly harmless to quite alarming. I personally enjoy self-deprecating humor (most times) because I can relate. Most people can. I think that’s the underlying charm of it. If there is a quote to describe self-deprecating humor it’s “misery loves company.” We all find solace in knowing that we are not alone in the self-doubt we battle day-in and day-out. I mean, countless comics build their sets on foundations of embarrassing and relatable anecdotes. In my opinion there’s nothing wrong with it, unless you get stuck in it’s cycle.

There is a difference between enjoying a relatable self-deprecating joke from time-to-time and identifying oneself on this principal. On a personal note, for a while I considered myself “damaged goods.” Rarely vocalized, but definitely internalized. I considered it just a part of my personality. But let’s unpack that phrase. Damaged…yes. Like I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve been hurt. Such are the trials of life thought lol. Everyone gets hurt. Goods…yikes. What a way to dehumanize, simplify and belittle myself.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is a recent revelation I experienced in the past handful of months: having been broken is not a personality trait. It is and should be a temporary state-of-being. Consider it an existence that should have an expiration date assigned to it. Keep it around too long and it’ll poison and cloud your perception of life. Think of it this way, we’ve all been through the trenches, many of us are currently are going through the trenches, but that is not what defines a person. The way in which the trenches are navigated is where one discovers their personality traits. What I’ve learned about myself is that I have tendencies to be hyper-focused (sometimes to my detriment), generally positive, creative and hardworking when I’m passionate about what I’m doing (also sometimes to my detriment…).

What’s the takeaway from this? Not sure. I suppose it’s just a reminder that time heals. There may be nasty scars left behind, but (to bring it full circle) it builds character. Being damaged is temporary. It is not a permanent description of yourself. I’ll never be brand new, but I’m refurbished and still fully functioning lol.

And that’s all I’ll say about that. Thanks for humoring me 🙂

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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Contentment v. Complacency

Contentment v. complacency

I’ve been trying to develop a blog post on the concept of complacency versus contentment for the past month. Initially, I thought it would be an easy enough analysis. Just like any stream of consciousness blog I’ve written, it should be simple right?

  • Step one: look up the official definitions of both words
  • Step two: take definitions and provide insight using personal experiences
  • Step three: conclude with at least one take away…hopefully

But the more I thought about it, the more the lines of both concepts continued to blur. Probably the most challenging part of this analysis for me is the current relevance it has in my life. Any analysis I do will always have some sort of personal connection and with that, comes many variables to unpack lol. To self-reflect is one thing, to effectively articulate that self-reflection is another. So, after sitting on this topic for a while, I decided to just let the post unfold however it unfolds. Whether there will be a clear point at the end, the world may never know…and with that, I will definitely be categorizing this post under “rambles” lol.

The definition of these two words are similar, both having to do with being in a state of satisfaction. The difference seems to be with the underlying attitude that accompanies the sense of satisfaction. Where complacency lacks motivation and the desire for growth, contentment typically utilizes gratitude as a vehicle for continued growth.

Contentment: noun. A state of happiness and satisfaction.

I was raised in an environment that values gratitude: being thankful for what one has at all stages in life. Which I still live by. Practicing gratitude is a helpful reminder of the progress we have made, however large or small. It is also a great reminder of the positive internal and external influences that have contributed to our progress.

There has been a self-care trend that I’ve noticed throughout the year called “gratitude journaling.” From what I understand, the concept is to develop a habit of gratitude through the creation of a daily list of people, things, circumstances, etc. The idea is to shift perspective in a positive direction by identifying, whether big or small, things in ones life to be grateful for. I love this idea. If anything, flipping back through such a comprehensive list is a reminder of how full one’s life can be. That’s always nice.

So, is contentment the appreciation of your current life circumstances, the recognition that it’s ever-changing and the acceptance that everything that comes with it is okay? My second question is: does contentment impede or foster growth? I would think that depends on the person. Thirdly, does contentment sans motivation plus time lead to complacency? These are the questions of life HAHA.

Maybe I have yet to experience what it means to be content because so far in my life I have always existed in some varying degree of fearing stagnation.

Complacency: noun. Showing smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.

*cue Satisfied from Tony Award winning Broadway production Hamilton*

I suppose the most daunting part of complacency is the possibility of not knowing you are currently existing in it. Complacency to me means acceptance of one’s current circumstances and a lack of motivation for better. I think fear is a huge contributor to this. Fear of change, fear of failure, or even fear of success. Instead of facing fear, a complacent individual comes to terms with their current situation.

So, are you content or complacent? I don’t think it’s that simple.

Personally, I wouldn’t say I’m completely complacent because…again my constant fear of stagnation that has resulted in my continued vision for things bigger than even myself lol…Or maybe I have yet to experience enough life to jade me to the point of complacency…yikes.

Maybe we all ebb and flow between contentment and complacency…and it’s ultimately on ourselves to decide when to keep moving forward, when to take a pause and if so, how long to take a pause.

On that note, this stream of consciousness seems to have once again boiled down to balance. Like everything in life, balance is key. It’s okay to feel content; I would think it’s great actually! To be proud of the achievements you’ve accomplished without regret of any part of the process, that’s amazing. It’s even more amazing to use that feeling as fuel to do even more positive things in your life. I also think it’s okay to be complacent…for a short period of time. Sometimes we need the time to brood, compare and ultimately motivate ourselves to restart that engine of motivation. That’s why regardless of what state of being we are in our life, it’s also good to build an army of people around you that will slap you right in the face, whether figuratively or literally (I mean…different people need different things? haha), to remind you exactly what you need to be reminded of.

What are your thoughts on contentment and complacency? 🙂

Side note: The exploration of these two concepts may have stemmed from the fact that I’m currently reading The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. Yes, I know I’m late for the game. But for those that don’t know, or for those who read the book ages ago, the heart of the story is recognizing one’s aspirations and making the decision to chase abstract dreams and transform them into a tangible reality. The story is also a navigation through the idea of whether life happenings are obstacles to overcome, stepping stones or both? lol. I realize that description may sound like the plot of maybe every Disney movie out there, but trust me, The Alchemist has thought-provoking perspective that is worth the read. It’s a book that can be interpreted in many ways.  ❤

Here’s to a happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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I’m Taking a Mental Health Day

 

world mental health day

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), October 10 is World Mental Health Day. WHO observes this day annually with the objective of raising awareness about the multitude of worldwide mental health issues and the importance of allocating resources in support of mental health. This year’s theme is “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.

WHO is focusing on the need for comprehensive mental health programs targeted specifically toward the younger generation, which I think is great. Unfortunately, the reality we exist in tends to approach mental health in a reactive manner: mental health issues are treatable. But very scarcely are we exposed to resources that teach us about preventative measures…methods that can be utilized to address potential issues before they have a chance to escalate.

WHO speaks of young people in a “changing world.” This era of young people: Millennials (myself included) and members of Generation Z, are coming of age in a technological environment that continues to expand at an exponential rate. With that, comes bounds of information at our fingertips, making the big ‘ol world seem a lot smaller…a lot faster.

From my own personal experience, remembering a portion of life sans Internet and growing up alongside its development, definitely helped shape how I view the world. For me, technology has given me instant access to a variety of cultures and perspectives; and it has helped me develop a strong sense of awe and empathy for others…something I don’t think would’ve been possible prior without literally traveling.

I gratefully exist in an increasingly sensitive, open-minded and fluid generation. I love it. Social boundaries are being broken, bent and re-construed in beautiful ways. However, traditional social structures label sensitivity as a negative; open-mindedness and exploration as a privilege (which is true, but it is seen through a negative lens). These filters lead to generalizations that Millennials and members of Generation Z are entitled, narcissistic and individualistic. What I’m getting at here is that while I see this “changing world” as an overall positive…it is accompanied by new, complex sociological and mental challenges.

Myself and most of my peers are at points in our lives where the terms “burnt out” or “overwhelmed” are common phrases used in conversation regarding well-being. We are the generation that went straight to college, racked up loans, jumped on that stable job to start paying those loans with a quickness…fast forward to 3-4 years in the workforce, grinding day-in and day-out. (ooooh I can already imagine how far back the eyes of Generation X and the Baby Boomers are rolling right now) We are the generation of dreamers: pursuing side hustles, fostering passion projects and/or creating our own jobs, with plans to break free from the traditional structures that we originated from.

Unlike generations before us, we are inundated with access to so much at all times that the stakes are constantly being raised, standards are increasingly higher, expectations are continually (and seemingly) unattainable, and our perception of our own potential for success is constantly being challenged through wide-casted comparisons to others. These technology-stemmed social pressures support a culture of overworking, overwhelming and overexerting ourselves…spreading ourselves too thin.


Stress Knows Not What Age Is

In the end, while the causes of previous generations’ development of mental health problems differ from that of today’s generation, they have similar origins. From my own observations of myself and those in my circle of family and friends, unaddressed stressors and their triggers are what lead to the development of anxieties, and frustrations. Regardless of one’s generation, it all seems to boil down to two things:

  1. a lack of self reflection – people are so busy with their lives hustling, stuck in routine, fixated on a goal (or multiple). It’s important for my sanity to step back on a regular basis to reflect on my intentions behind my actions, evaluate if those have changed and recalibrate if necessary. “Adjust accordingly” has been one of my mottos for a number of years now. It essentially reminds me to have a plan, know that the plan will be deviated and that the multiple deviations do not take away from the value of the original plan. If anything, deviations add to its charm.
  2. a lack of self care – Again…people are so busy living their lives that they forget to take care of themselves. Whether it’s something as simple as getting my nails done once in a while, making time for a hobby that I enjoy or sticking to a gym schedule…it all adds up. It’s okay to be selfish sometimes! We need to be happy with ourselves (or even just my day…I’ll take what I can get lol) in order to purely provide happiness for others…in my opinion. How can we take care of others effectively and wholeheartedly if we don’t take care of ourselves first?

It’s Okay

This past year has been one of constant self reflection. Not that I haven’t already been doing that, but this year I have actively chosen to take a more mindful approach to my mental health. Finding a balance between when to say yes or no to things, experiences and people I come across. Learning to identify the little things that bring me happiness and the bad habits I need to work my way out of.

Perspective is everything. I’ve always been one to give people the benefit of the doubt, to imagine myself in another’s shoes. It helps me empathize with others and their unique circumstances that I may not understand. However, it’s only recently that I started utilizing the concept of perspective on myself and my well-being. After many talks with friends and family, many moments of reflection, here is what I’ve learned in the past year and a half:

  1. It’s okay to say no – Humans are social beings. We want to be accepted by others. Typically the word “no” isn’t the path toward acceptance/blending in. But it’s okay to say no to a night out in exchange for a solo night in from time to time. It’s okay to say no to more work projects if it’s going to negatively affect my other projects and more importantly, my ability to work on them effectively.
  2. It’s okay to ask for help – I find solace in having control over a situation or project. But control doesn’t mean I need to do everything myself. I had to learn that asking for help does not mean I am incompetent. If anything it makes me a more competent human being to admit when I can’t handle something and to appropriately delegate.
  3. It’s okay to say “I don’t know” – There’s a saying that goes something like, play to your strengths and hire others to fill your weaknesses? I don’t know (lol no pun intended) what it is exactly and frankly, I’m too lazy to look it up…but the point is that it’s not the end of the world to not know something. That’s what Google is for.
  4. It’s okay to be scared – Fear is a lot of people’s reasons for not doing certain things. I continue to fight this fight. Isn’t there another saying that speaks to finding comfort in being uncomfortable? Well, there’s something to that. Doing something I am afraid of teaches me a lot of things about myself and my capabilities. I don’t consider myself a good public speaker and I never enjoyed public speaking. But my job requires it on a regular basis and even though it’s not my favorite thing in the world, I can see myself skills improve every time.

Good Mental Habits = Good Mental Health

When discussing goals, a lot of the time people are looking to break bad habits…what if we shift perspective and look at it as developing good habits? If we continue to build more good habits in our lives, won’t they eventually outweigh the bad habits? We all have our vices, but as long as we live an 80/20 lifestyle, I think we are good. That’s a B+ lol. We can’t all be A+ students.

Here are some things I try to incorporate into my day in order to give myself a mental break and decompress: 

At Work

  1. Take your designated breaks – I admit I’m really, really bad at this. Yes I had to add an extra “really.” But I am constantly trying to get better at this. I am entitled to my breaks and work will always be there waiting for me when I get back. It’s easy to get caught up in the work, but removing myself for even just 10 minutes gives my brain a much needed rest.
  2. Utilize the Pomodoro method – My brother introduced this workflow method to me and I try to use it as much as I can. It consists of 25 minutes of uninterrupted, focused work, followed by a 5 minute short break. Repeat. It’s kind of like a game and it helps me increase my productivity 🙂 I use tomato-timer.com. You should try it out!
  3. Stretch periodically – While using the Pomodoro method, stretch during breaks. It promotes blood flow and good posture…and who doesn’t want good posture!
  4. Stay comfy – We are at work for a huge chunk of our day. Why should we be uncomfortable? Take advantage of ergonomic evaluations and accommodations if available and make your workspace as comfortable as possible. I have house slippers at my desk because I see no point in wearing real shoes unless I’m in meetings or walking outside. My co-worker runs cold, so she has a blanket at her desk. Why suffer through cold for 8 hours a day? No need.

At Home (Not at Work)

  1. Find a physical activity that you enjoy – not everyone is a gym rat, but physical health is undeniably tied to mental health. So whether its going for a daily walk, jumping rope, rock climbing or Zumba, find something that doesn’t feel like a workout. I’m still figuring this one out…
  2. Read a book – o0o novel idea there! (no pun intended…or maybe it was) It’s sad how refreshing it is to detach from a screen and read an actual book. Remember those? They still exist lol. But seriously, I forget how much I enjoy reading  a good book until I carve out time to do it. Plus, while reading a book you are guaranteed no encounters or interactions with Internet trolls. SO GREAT.
  3. Do nothing for at least 15 minutes – Why are we constantly moving from one thing to the next? Wake up, work, come home, do errands, etc. Call it what you’d like: meditating, self-reflection, zen time. I think it’s important to actually be still and be okay with being still at least for 15 minutes. Try it, it’s kind of difficult at first, but it’s possible to build up to it. I like using the Headspace app.

On Vacation

  1. Stop and smell the roses! – I’m not one to stuff my itinerary with activities when I’m on vacation. It stresses me out trying to stay on schedule…while on vacation. It’s counterintuitive! For me, the act of wandering is an essential part of vacation to me. It’s not a vacation if I don’t take my time to immerse myself in the new environment around me.
  2. Exercise – I always feel extra good about myself when I sneak a workout in during a vacation. Vacations tend to be filled with good food and a lot of lounging, only to get back home feeling like a lump of lard. No bueno. Take advantage of that underutilized hotel gym…you can fist bump the one other person in there and it’ll be a cool moment lol. Or you can go for a morning/evening run or walk. It’s a great way to see a new city! Be safe of course.

Happy World Mental Health Day

I know we live in tumultuous times and there is a constant stream of bad news infiltrating our feeds. It’s overwhelming and exhausting fighting the good fight day in and day out. That’s why I think it’s more important than ever to make sure we are taking care of all aspects of ourselves: physically, spiritually and mentally. Hopefully this day is a reminder that your mental well-being is worth prioritizing. Cheers to your peace of mind ❤

Sincerely,

Melissa Beee

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