Happy 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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how you or someone you know can be featured in the next Feature Friday!
When 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”
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”
Wow! 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.”
Last 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.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? I know I can’t be the only one who reaches for my phone and checks social media, right? In fact, I even find myself scrolling through everyone’s pictures and status updates multiple times a day. “How can they afford that?” “Wow, they’re living their best life” “I wish I could do what they were doing.” When all these thoughts start pouring in, I start feeling self-conscious, questioning myself, and comparing my life to others’. How many of you do the same thing and how does doing so make you feel in the end? Probably not great, huh? The truth is, comparison really is the thief of joy! We lose sight of our own accomplishments because we’re so fixated on someone else’s. We’re comparing our Chapter 1 to their Chapter 15, and that’s a dangerous game to play. Whether it’s #TransformationTuesday and we’re seeing before and after photos or watching our friends’ travel adventures, we feel like our lives are lacking, like we’re behind, and it causes us to rate our happiness and our choices against the value of others’. But the reality is we’re only getting a glimpse into a life that’s been intentionally curated, filtered, and manufactured by its creator for the ‘Gram. We aren’t seeing the grit, effort, time, and energy that was required for them to level up, and that can cause serious distress. It’s also not just limited to social media…
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Kermit Says… The inception, the journey, the hurdles, and the incredible victories. Kermit Says… started nearly five years ago. The idea came after speaking to a group of then-eighth-grade students at my former elementary school, and it only grew with the help of my high school students, many of whom still follow Kermit Says… today. This blog has gone through several iterations: Dear Kermit, where teens wrote privately seeking advice; Spotlight Sunday, where I highlighted someone worth knowing; and even a short-lived stint on YouTube. No matter what new addition I tried, I always returned to the most meaningful and important focal point: you. Kermit Says… was created for teens, and my hope is that as Kermit Says… continues to grow and I launch new dimensions, you will always feel central and your thoughts and concerns will always be priority number one. In order to make that a reality, I’d like to hear from you. I have ideas of blog topics and directions I’d like to take, but this blog isn’t for me nor is it about me…it’s always been for and about you. So, what user-generated content would you like to see? What topics would you like for me to explore? Comment below or send me an email at email@example.com!
This weekend was filled with triggering news that I’m sure brought up anxiety and all sorts of emotions. And as I shared on the Kermit Says… Facebook and Instagram pages, there is no right or wrong way to react. We are all fully-formed humans with valid feelings and experiences that have shaped our very being. With every news report and social media post that sparked an array of feelings, I hope you took time to both acknowledge them and feel them deeply and to care for yourself in whatever way was most effective and beneficial for you to mend and heal. Now, are you ready to press on and power up because there is work to do? You, my friend, have a voice that is valuable and worthy. We need you. You need you. It’s time to change the game. Continue reading “Motivational Monday: Be a Game Changer”