Wellness Wednesday: Self-Care When the News Is Difficult

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Happy Wednesday, friends! If you’ve been watching the news or endlessly scrolling on social media, then you’re probably feeling just as overwhelmed, stressed, and weary as I am. With every news report and social media post that sparks an array of feelings, I hope you are taking the time to both acknowledge your emotions and feel them deeply and also care for yourself in whatever way is most effective and beneficial for you. Both exposure to and experiencing traumatic events is traumatizing. Directly or indirectly fighting oppression is exhausting. Please take care of yourselves, friends. Here are a few self-care tips from one of my favorites, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, PhD:

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Motivational Monday: Be Like Mike!

img_3043Happy Motivational Monday and Memorial Day, friends! I hope you had a wonderful three-day weekend and did something that sparked joy or made your soul smile…even if it was sitting on the couch and binge-watching ESPN’s docuseries The Last Dance like I did (so good, right?)! As a Chicagoan who grew up watching and rooting for the 1990s Bulls dynasty, I was immediately transported back to that era. I relived every jump shot with so much excitement and anticipation, even though I remembered nearly every game like it was yesterday. The docuseries also illuminated so much that I, like most people, either never knew or completely forgot. From the drama between management and the greatest coach of all time to the tension among the players, there was a lot to unpack. What really stood out to me though, unsurprisingly, was the GOAT, the “Black cat,” “Black Jesus,” the one and only Michael Jordan and his drive for absolute greatness no matter the cost. Hearing how much his deep love for the game drove him to commit to himself, basketball, and his team was incredibly inspiring.

Michael Jordan was drafted to the Chicago Bulls just before his junior year of college, a team that was pretty unremarkable at the time. But he had remarkable hope and commitment. During one of his very first interviews after joining the team, Jordan said “I just want the franchise and the Chicago Bulls to be respected like the Lakers or the Philadelphia 76ers or the Boston Celtics. Hopefully I can help this team, and this organization can build a program like that.” And so he did, and I imagine it took extraordinary amounts of patience, determination, dedication, perseverance, tenacity, hard work, and a lot of discomfort! Growing is painful. Stretching is painful. The truth is that wonderful things don’t happen inside of our comfort zones. Instead, they happen outside of them. The docuseries beautifully captures that!

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Feature Friday: South Side Environmental Education Directive (SEED)

At the start of the quarantine, 19-year-old Iván did what so many of us did: embraced the novelty of the pandemic and binge-watched the latest Netflix shows to pass the time. Now that the novelty has worn off, Iván has worked hard to create structure, self-reflect, and find what brings him true joy. All of this inspired him to combine his passion for science and the environment with his joy of working with lower and middle school children. The end result is a project that, while still in the early stages of development, deserves to be in the spotlight! The South Side Environmental Education Directive (SEED) is a wonderful way to encourage other young people to get outdoors, to explore nature among Chicago’s concrete jungle, to think scientifically, and to care about the environment. Check out my interview with Iván to hear all about his initiative, what inspired him, and why it matters. Give some love and support to Iván by visiting his YouTube channel linked here.

Are you a young person or do you know a young person who’s doing something that deserves to be in the spotlight? Simply email readytorisemovement@gmail.com for more information on how you or someone you know can be featured in the next Feature Friday!

Wellness Wednesday: Developing a Mindfulness Practice in Anxious Times

img_1305When I first heard about mindfulness a few years ago, I understood it to be a practice meant to help people relax when they felt stressed or anxious. And while that’s not entirely untrue, years of schooling, working as a child and adolescent therapist, and developing my own mindfulness practice have broadened my understanding. Sure, relaxation can be a result of practicing mindfulness, but it’s not the purpose. The purpose of mindfulness is to intentionally and consciously be aware of the present moment which allows us to fully acknowledge where we are, what’s going on, what we’re doing, and those thoughts, feelings, and physiological sensations that show up. Why is this important? When we acknowledge what’s going on externally and internally in the present moment, we won’t be overwhelmed by or overly reactionary to what’s going on around us. It doesn’t change the situation (though it’d be nice if it did, right?), but it just helps us ease into the chaos and feel more in control, especially when life around us feels out of control. Given these current turbulent and uncertain times, I think developing a mindfulness practice would be helpful for you, too! Continue reading “Wellness Wednesday: Developing a Mindfulness Practice in Anxious Times”

Motivational Monday: It’s OK Not To Be OK

Hi, friends! How are you? No, how are you really? It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? My last post was from March 16th when we were just three short days into quarantining. Businesses were just starting to close and schools were just beginning to prepare for what we all imagined would only be a few weeks of online classes. No one could have imagined that three months after my last post, a post filled with some semblance of hope and optimism, that we’d still be here in quarantine, with many of us still grappling with the same sense of uncertainty, confusion, and disappointment we did when this first started. Most businesses are still closed, schools are closed for the remainder of the school year, and some students are still adjusting to remote learning. There are new ways of grocery shopping, restrictions on social gatherings, and even mandates that require us to wear a mask whenever we’re in public places. Despite recommendations from leading scientists and doctors, some states are just now starting to ease some coronavirus-related restrictions which will give us a glimpse of what it’s like to eat out, shop, and socialize in our new normal. Continue reading “Motivational Monday: It’s OK Not To Be OK”

Motivational Monday: What’s Permanent? Love.

heartWow! It has been 498 days since my last post, and to say things have changed feels like a bit of an understatement. Let’s see. 498 days ago I was in my second year of graduate school, considering rekindling things with an old flame, and living and working in a place I love and surrounded by those who love me. Life was stressful and hectic for sure, but nothing compares to the hurdles we are currently facing. A quick catch up from me goes like this: I graduated, traveled to Europe, moved to Boston, and now work as a mental health clinician at a children’s hospital. The transition has been both rewarding and challenging, but I’ll share more about that at another time because there are more pressing matters at hand. We are currently living in the midst of overwhelming chaos and uncertainty. The pandemic and all that is unknown has resulted in mass hysteria and a sense of heaviness and hopelessness that, on some days, feels unbearable. Day in and day out, I try to remind myself of the good, the light, the bright, the joy, the laughter, the peace, the fun, the hope, and the love. I will admit, that sometimes it’s easier and sometimes it’s nearly impossible. And if I’m feeling the push and pull, confusion, hopelessness, and overall drain of each moment of the day, I can only imagine what you are feeling. That’s why I think that now is as good of a time as any for Kermit Says… to return. It’s been too long and there are far too many things going on in the world, in your own backyard, and within you that deserve support, encouragement, healing, and so much love. I hope you’ll join me again. Continue reading “Motivational Monday: What’s Permanent? Love.”

Motivational Monday: Just Breathe

img_1317Last week was a pretty awful week. Zooming in on me, I had a really difficult few days at work, struggled with homework and quizzes, was unable to balance my personal and professional life (but what’s new?), and found myself feeling run down and sick. I tried so hard to jump over hurdle after hurdle, and I barely cleared them. By the end of the week, I was curled up into a ball, hibernating at home, and watching my already overwhelming pile of responsibilities grow. Now, zooming out on what’s been going on nationally and globally, I think it’s safe to say that “awful” isn’t the right word to describe our current affairs. Awful feels like a terrible understatement, and that’s because there are no words that can fully capture recent horrific events. The mail bombs. The Kroger store killing. The synagogue shooting. Three hate crimes in the span of a few hours. If we were comparing my own challenges to those, there’s no contest. Now, that’s not to diminish my own experience for every feeling of frustration, disappointment, anger, and sadness felt so real to me in those moments, just like I’m sure that whatever you experienced this week felt just as real and difficult. This was an awful week for everyone, some more so than others. Most made it to the finish line, some by the skin of their teeth, and some sadly didn’t make it at all.

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