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”

Friday Findings: My 10 School Essentials

 

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photo credit: Robert Coates

Happy happy Friday, friends, and what a glorious day it’s been! Today I had a chance to stop over at my old school and see some of my favorite former students as they prepare for their first day of school this coming Tuesday. So many bright faces and so much energy filled the halls as they set up their lockers. I kind of miss those days, or at least the idea of a locker space–a place to call your own and store your belongings so you’re not lugging your entire life around with you wherever you go. Cherish it, people! I imagine the closest thing to that would be having an office, but what about those college and graduate students who don’t have such a luxury? I suppose we have no choice but to bring our essentials, and today, I’m sharing my own! What are yours? Comment below!

 

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Thoughtful Thursday: Reclaiming My Time

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By now you’ve likely heard about Congresswoman Maxine Waters famously and appropriately interrupting Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during last week’s House Financial Services Committee meeting. If you haven’t seen the video, I’ve linked it here, but essentially Maxine (we’re now on a first name basis) asks a very clear and direct question that Mnuchin “responds” to with a roundabout statement. In an attempt to redirect him and hold him accountable, Mnuchin’s vague non-answers are repeatedly met with “reclaiming my time, reclaiming my time, reclaiming my time…” As entertaining as this moment is, there’s honestly something much deeper and more meaningful at play. Here, Maxine not only informs us that her time is valuable and should not be wasted but also, and more importantly, reminds us of our own value and gives us permission to identify and remove the time-wasters within our own lives.

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Wellness Wednesday: Getting Headspace

img_1317Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends! Yesterday marked ten straight days of guided meditation with the mindfulness app, Headspace. Unfortunately, ten days of Headspace also means my free trial is up. Great! Now how am I supposed to find clarity and focus and also reduce my stress and anxiety (sarcasm)? While I think of new, free ways to deepen my meditation and mindfulness practice, here is my review for Headspace.

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Motivational Monday: A Tale of 2 F.E.A.Rs

IMG_8533I have a friend who is so terrified of literally everything, she practically sits at home and hibernates. She’s even rarely willing to engage in serious conversations because she’s afraid of the possible outcome. Sometimes it gets to the point where she sabotages her own relationships. Now, if you’re thinking “this doesn’t sound like much of a life,” then you’re right! It doesn’t! The thing about fear is that it’s totally natural and understandable. We’re all afraid of something, it just looks different. Maybe you’re afraid of scary movies or heights. Maybe you’re afraid to say no. Maybe you’re afraid of rejection or taking risks. Maybe it’s all of the above, and it makes sense! Life can be a pretty scary place and situations may arise that cause us to pause and maybe even retreat, especially when we can’t anticipate the consequence, but when we allow fear to control us to the point where we’re paralyzed, well, that’s when we’ve got to put in some work and decide to either Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise.

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Friday Findings

cup1Happy Friday, friends! How is it possible that time can feel like it’s both dragging along and flying by? I’ve been working at my old school in Massachusettes since late June, and here we are with just one week left before I head back home to Chicago. I honestly never thought I’d see the finish line. I love it up here and it’s been so incredible reconnecting with old friends and making new ones, but there’s nothing like being in your own bed and in your own space, right? We also have Saturday classes, so it’ll be really nice to have a real weekend and just enjoy my summer before starting a new graduate program this fall. It’s hard to believe this may very well be the last time I teach English, so I’m definitely savoring every moment. How are you spending your summer break? Comment below, and without further adieu, here are two of my favorite finds of the week. Have a great weekend!

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Thoughtful Thursday: Being Present is a Present, a Reflection and Life Update

IMG_6064Happy Thursday, friends! Apologies for the late post, but I didn’t know how to say what I wanted to say without being long-winded. That was a mountain I didn’t quite conquer, so bear with me. I don’t know much, but what I do know now is that for the first time in my entire adult life, I can honestly say that I feel happy, calm, and centered. I’ve always been the type of person who looks ahead in life and believes that if I have the next best thing or what my heart desires, then I can be happy and live the perfect life. The problem with this thinking, however, is that it means my happiness is solely dependent on the unforeseeable future and on what was not and could not be guaranteed. If I couldn’t guarantee achieving the next best thing, then I couldn’t be happy. Living in the future felt like a constant wheel I just couldn’t get off of–a state of mind I couldn’t escape. It was also an unproductive and unhealthy place to be. I can only imagine what I’ve missed out on because I was too afraid to be still and live in the moment. If only I knew early on how easy it could be to start over. I know it’s not this easy for others, but all it took for me was a conversation with a new friend, a new moon, setting new intentions, and intentionally practicing daily meditation to completely change my mindset for the better and recognize that being present is the best present of all. I hope this is a start for you.

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