Welcome to 2020 people! I hope you all had an amazing time ringing in the new year. I spent mine, very lavishly, chowing down on house lo mein from my favorite Chinese restaurant, while snuggled up in bed. The life of a 21-year old gal living in the city!
This past week I reconnected with a friend I haven’t spoken to in a while over coffee. Funny enough, we have both been spending a lot of time reading; similar books within the same genre, if not by the same author! We got into conversation about Donald Miller’s, Building a Storybrand, which breaks down the framework of how to successfully convey a message. It’s a great read and I would highly recommend everyone check it out.
When I got home, I glanced over to my shelf and focused on Miller’s book. I noticed the corner of a loose paper peeking out and decided to revisit the notes I had taken while reading the book sometime over the summer. The loose page was scribbled with notes.
“You must signal change,” stood out of me. My mental wheels began to turn, thinking of all the ways I want to better myself entering the new year. One of them is spending more time with people who challenge my mind and push me to think outside of the box. However, when you are so accustomed to one way of living, making a major change is not going to be easy.
Falling into old habits is easy. Much easier than establishing new habits. To live your most impactful life, you must ensure you are happy!
As I have touched on in other posts, the way to be happy is to understand your individual needs and meet them. For me, I have to be active daily. Whether that be stretching, going to a workout class, strength training or walking around the city! If I don’t get my daily sweat in, I begin to feel “off.” By this, I mean a minor irritation which can build up to become a major irritation. Small things add up.
When I get into these moods, I feel unmotivated or unhappy or some other negative feeling. Being able to identify these needs and why you are feeling this way is key to being your best, most productive self.
Once I have identified what I’m lacking, I work towards correcting it. Like many others, my regression tends to have a domino effect. Why? Because falling into old habits is easy!
Hitting the snooze button repeatedly on my alarm, rather than waking up to have coffee and read is a very easy thing to slip back into. Especially when it’s so cozy and dark in the morning. BUT this is not a productive way to do things. I know once I take off the blanket, I will be up. The more times you break your old habit and replace it with the new one (sitting up and putting your feet on the floor after your alarm goes off), the easier to becomes to retrain your brain to have an automated response. Yay for minimal brain-power required to perform habit loops!
Although breaking the habit is difficult, when we pair the disliked thing (waking up early) with something we enjoy (morning coffee), the brain is even more likely to create the new automated response. It’s similar to a reward system in the way that we do something we don’t like, then get a treat for doing it. Our brains like that.
While I am by no means able to provide a specific method for which to follow, I hope to have at least planted an idea to help further your growth. ☺️
Call me a hopeless romantic — or a person who took control of their life — but I love finding silver linings. Having the ability to accept that certain situations in life are outside of your control is the key to inner peace and true happiness. Or so I’ve found. My worldview used to be much different than it is now. I largely attribute this positive change to my ability to search for whatever positivity lies in a heap of negativity. Even if you have difficulty finding something, you maintain the hope that something will be found.
The concept of “silver linings” has always been present in my mind. I have developed the ability to look at something that can be perceived so poorly by others, find the hope within and do my best to strive towards it. This was not always the case — I have chosen to view life this way.
Perception differs from person to person. Two individuals can experience the exact same event, yet exhibit completely different responses. This is because external factors play a large role in the development of our perception. However, what is important to remember is that perception and reality do not always coincide.
David Eagleman explains this disconnect between perception and reality in the simplest way. Look in the mirror. Move your eyes to the left, to the right, then back to the left. You never see your eyes move.
Although there is no evidence of gaps in your perception, critical parts of the experience have been edited out such as the visual experience of your eyes moving side to side.
An individual’s perception of the world is composed of previous experiences, expectations, context clues and other outside stimuli. Although these external factors are able to influence the way an individual views a situation, it is not the determining factor. Perception is able to be altered.
Not to toot my own horn, but I’m doing pretty well for where I’ve been. Early on in life, I was repeatedly faced with incredibly trying circumstances that many other people in my situation may have let consume them. Being an angsty and misunderstood youth, I often wondered why this — for lack of better term — BULLSHIT was assigned to me.
I stole a bobblehead from pre-K once and I returned it the next day, okay! WTF, world?!
I am not attempting to compare tragedies in life, but just to give you a synopsis of a few major ones so you know I’m not bullshitting this post…
I am legally an orphan in the state of Pennsylvania. I spent a portion of my childhood living in an unstable, toxic home environment. I have less than five immediate family members. And I was displaced from my childhood home, allowed only a few hours to gather my belongs, losing most of my irreplaceable childhood memories, aside from what I could fit into a cardboard box. And, fun fact, that home is now a settlement used to facilitate the re-integration of individuals with criminal backgrounds.
I think it goes without saying, but that shit SUCKED. However, here I am — still standing! Despite December trying to kill me. Much of my sanity I attribute to humor. In life, you must be able to laugh at yourself and the situations you encounter. Otherwise, you will be miserable and bitter. Believe me, I’ve been there. This is where searching for the silver lining will help you maintain your mental facilities! Seeing as I do not know what is plaguing you, I am going to tell you about the positive aspects I have found from the sucky circumstances I mentioned above.
Although it sucks not having your biological parents on this earth to see you flourish into the best version of yourself, I WOULD NOT be who I am without what I have experienced. I know I would not have been able to: attend my (at the time) dream school; have such a compelling personal essay topic; or apply to seven colleges and universities for free. Another positive aspect that is rather f*cked up but true is that whoever has the ~honor~ of ending up with me won’t have to deal with in-laws! Plus because of my incredibly small (relevant) family, when I eventually write and publish my book there won’t be many people to offend!☺️☺️☺️
These events also taught me crucial life skills some people do not develop until much later in life, if at all, such as: dealing with loss, becoming accountable for yourself, facilitating communication, and altering perspective.
If there is one thing you take away from my tangent here, look for the positive aspects in negative situations. It’s going to be hard at first, and I am not going to lie and say it becomes easier — you just become better at finding the needle in the haystack of nonsense. Remember to laugh at your failures, shortcomings and unfortunate situations! Do not fixate on or become consumed with negativity. For more tips on that, check out an older post of mine, eliminating negativity.
The topic of imposter syndrome has been incredibly relevant in my life within the past few weeks. Not saying my feelings are unique, but I had no idea a name for this feeling existed and was shared by so many people! In short — imposter syndrome refers to one not believing they are as capable, or competent, as others perceive them to be. Imposters fear being exposed as a fraud or phony.
Living in the digital age with social media depicting the perfect lives of others, it is easy to get sucked into the delusions thrust upon us. However, keep in mind someone may be looking at you, aspiring to live your life. Okay, maybe you’re thinking, “Me? No way.”
Aside from social media, the demeanor in which you carry yourself sets the stage for how others perceive you. People may look at you and think, “Wow! They’ve got it together,” meanwhile you’re in your head thinking, “don’t mess up, don’t mess up.”
A few weeks ago I asked you guys to send me topic suggestions on Instagram. A friend of mine from college, Emma, is the amazing individual who requested this. I only mention this because she is one of the people I credit with my mental health journey. Emma, bless her soul, met me when I was a silly freshman in college going through sorority recruitment. The stars aligned — I was recruited to the same sorority and we were paired as big and little sisters.
Emma took that role seriously. She was one of the first people in my life to tell me things I didn’t want to hear. She brought me to terms with realities I did not want to acknowledge whether it came to boys, social drama, life before college or everything else you can imagine. Emma is someone I have always admired when it comes to juggling the nonsense life brings, and so being requested this topic from her made me reflect that much more. I feel like an imposter writing this! Haha.
Although an oversaturated phrase, “Fake it til you make it,” still holds true. Maintaining a positive, affirming mindset is incredibly healthy. Imagine how you speak about yourself to others. Many imposters “suffer from chronic self-doubt” that roots in low self-confidence. Those who lack self-efficacy, viewing themselves as individuals not capable of great things, speak lowly of themselves. How do you expect someone to believe in you when you don’t even believe in yourself?
Individuals practicing a healthy mindset are more likely to share accomplishments and engage in other confident behaviors. The laws of energy say similar energies stick together, which is why it can feel like when one bad thing happens more follow. We are allowing that negative energy to dominate and attract like forces (other negatives). However, if we rechannel the negative into positive, we will attract better energy into our lives.
Struggling with self-doubt can be even more difficult when those closest to you are not the most helpful at building you up. Friends and family, although they carry so much love, are not always the best at expressing it. Over the years I have been working on affirming myself rather than seeking affirmation from others. When you take control of your happiness, it is liberating! I wrote more about this on a blog a few weeks ago, if you’re interested in some tips for eliminating negativity. Prioritizing time to explore my passions allows me to grow into my best self, which shows through to others.
Stay kind to yourself through positive affirmations and other forms of self-love. Try your best not to compare your life to others, because you never know who is comparing theirs to you saying, “I wish.” Keep in mind that everyone is a little bit crazy. Some just camouflage it better than others.
Hey there everyone! I want to share an idea that was conveyed to me through a book I read this week, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Lessby Greg McKeown. The theory is that we, as humans, do not prioritize enough time to allow our minds to “escape.” During these periods of creativity and/or rest, the brain activates synapses outside its typical radius, allowing the individual’s conscious mindset to expand. Yes; rest, because sleep is amazing!! McKeown mentions “Sleep Is the New Status Symbol,” an article in The New York Times highlighting that the most successful people in the world get 8+ hours of sleep. (both awesome reads)
McKeown hasinspired me to make a few lifestyle changes as we transition into the new year — 2020! I am feeling amazing about ending this final month of the decade and entering a new period of life. The remained of 2019, I am prioritizing creating space for uninterrupted thought in my daily life. Proudly I can say I have done this every day of December and plan to continue until it becomes a seamless habit.
During this 5 or 10 minutes, I will journal or meditate.
Yes, it sounds lame — I know. Just give it a shot. Allowing yourself time alone with your thoughts can seem daunting, but remember you are in control. During this time it is important to be aware of your breathing. Being in control of your breath is the most important aspect of being present.
When I am taking my time to escape, I spend a few moments working any stress out of my neck or anywhere else I may feel tense. Then I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I am always astonished at the capacity of the lungs. Feeling the expansion within my chest brings my attention to the shallowness of average breathing. Each inhale fills my chest with air, like helium in a balloon, with each exhale releasing some helium.
The goal here is for the balloon… (you)… to float… (relax). And while this works for me, this may not work for you.
Try at your own risk. I also make sure to set an alarm because sometimes I fall asleep. 😋
Yeah, I wanted to keep this week’s post short and sweet. Remember to be present at the moment and focus on the now. I have found taking control of my breathing to be incredibly helpful in centering myself.
As always, thank you for reading.
Talk to y’all soon!
This week I asked on an Instagram poll what topic you would rather me ramble about: Eliminating Negativity or Imposter Syndrome. Y’all spoke and I listened. Here I am delivering. If you’re reading this on the day it is posted — Happy Turkey Day!
— With the change of the seasons, the sun setting in the early afternoon, and obligatory family time creeping up, it becomes easier to fall into less productive habits and mindsets. Succumbing to these obstructive behaviors may feel more comfortable in the moment, but they are digressions along the path. These small defeats you allow yourself, like napping when you planned to work out or scrolling on Instagram when you should be finishing an assignment, maybe easier, but that doesn’t make them the right choice.
Eliminating negativity from my life has aided me in choosing the most advantageous options available to me, even when it is not the easiest or most appealing. Something a mentor has instilled within me, along with a wildly sarcastic sense of humor, is the truth that “you cannot control the situation, you can only control your reaction.” Although you may not be able to control the types of energy being directed at you, you are able to convert that energy once it is received. Imagine… You’re at work; your boss is in a mood and takes it out in microaggressions towards you.
The cause of your boss’ disgruntled attitude was most likely caused by an external force. Maybe a traffic jam on the commute into the office or an incorrect coffee order — nonetheless, he/she is allowing something other than themselves to dictate their emotions. More importantly, he/she is being overpowered by a failure outside of their control.
Now the question is — how do you avoid falling into the same negative feedback loop? **
I have found that eliminating any negativity I was allowing into my life has helped me to better focus on my goals and make the choices to work towards them.
** The “negative feedback loop” is a concept which Adrienne Finch discusses often in her podcast, Self-Made CEO. The idea essentially says we are responsible for the energy we attract into our lives. If we fail something and allow that failure to build the believe we truly cannot overcome a challenge, we fall victim to more opportunities that highlight our shortcomings. Thank you so much to Adrienne who took the time to reply to my DM and further define this concept!!
This requires being very honest with yourself. Evaluate what you are devoting your energy to (x), then think about how it makes you feel to have spent time doing x. If you do not feel good about having spent your time doing it, don’t do it anymore. Time is the most valuable thing a person is able to offer, which is why I make a point to thank each of you for reading my posts each week. None of you have to be reading this right now, however, you are and I appreciate it. Anyhow, you should only spend your time doing things which make you happy. This may feel selfish at first, but just remember society has ingrained in us that being selfish is bad.
This is not necessarily true when it comes to the 24-hours we each have in a day. Every minute of those hours we allot to something. These are the literal moments that make us. It’s important to spend a good amount of them doing things which make us happy, in order to allow ourselves to be fulfilled — enlightening us to reach our full potentials.
Removing the toxic people, or things, in your life does not have to be permanent. Once you feel you are better equipped to deal with those things, you can integrate them back into life. However, for now, it’s most beneficial to distance yourself from negativity so you are able to grow stronger. This may be a very difficult task, especially when the people feeding you negative energy are your family members or close friends. However, I have found communication is a very powerful tool. Explain to them you are working on you (as cliche as they may sound), which for you, means prioritizing more alone time.
They will either respect your mature decision to better yourself and allow you to distance without being hurt, OR they’ll think you’re a weirdo and begin distancing themselves from you. The end result is the same — more time for you. 🙂
– IMPLEMENT POSITIVE PSYCHOLOGY –
The idea is to focus on building your strengths rather than fixing your flaws. “Resilience is the ability to bounce back in spite of adversity.” Overcoming limitations are the situations that strengthen the courage, conviction and other personality traits of impactful leaders.
I have been fortunate enough to find forms of de-stressing and mental relaxation which work for me relatively easily. Unfortunately, each method does not work for everyone and you may need to experiment with a few different techniques.
I have found podcasts to be incredible for my mental health. There are quite a few meditation / intention setting focused ones on Spotify. I really enjoy Sleep Cove and Mindful in Minutes: Mindful Morning! I have also rediscovered my love for reading. My excuse was “I don’t have the time.” But guess what, an extra hour isn’t just going to appear. If I really want to read more, I have to make the time. And so I did. Then between reading more frequently and blogging, I realized how much I love writing. I’m actually taking an advanced writing course in the spring, which I’m super pumped about! 🤓
As mentioned above, I began to withdrawal from toxic people I was allowing in my life and started to focus on what really makes me happy, then pursuing it (reading, writing, thinking creatively, sleeping, etc.) Find what you enjoy, that makes you feel good and is along the path towards your goals. Then do it.
– MAKE YOUR BED –
Seriously, listen to me: If you do not already, be sure to make your bed each morning. You will leave your house and go about your day knowing you have accomplished something. You will be coming home to a neat bed, rather than a disheveled mess of blankets and pillows. It feels so good, believe me. Especially after a long day. This trick ties in with implementing positive psychology, as well. You are praising small victories, which builds and reinforces self-efficacy and confidence.
– BE GRATEFUL –
This is pretty straightforward, but take time each day to remember what you are grateful for. There is always something. Be specific in what you’re reflecting on, which will instill the habit of looking for small things. You can take this time whenever you’d like (morning, afternoon, evening), but try to do it around the same time each day to better build the habit.
I take time in the morning while I am preparing my cup of coffee. The smell of coffee grounds is one of my favorite morning scents, along with bacon. Once my coffee is brewing I will spend the time thinking about how lucky I am to be alive — some people did not wake up. Although this may sounds incredibly lame, it is true. As humans, we must realize our mortality in order to embrace life. That’s just my way of doing it. I also reflect on the specific small wins of the day before, then prioritize my goals for the current day. This is an amazing way for me to organize my thoughts while my mind is getting set up, which helps to solidify ideas. Or so I’ve found. ☺️
Okay, I think this post is long enough. If you’re interested in knowing more about anything I mentioned, feel free to reach out to me! Once again, thank you for spending the time reading my work.
I am a busy gal who wears many hats. I mean that figuratively — hats are not my accessory of choice. In all seriousness, I am almost always working on (or procrastinating working on) something. Whether it be assignments for class, content creation, freelance projects or general administrative labors of living, like scheduling dentist appointments. Juggling all of these roles and tasks can be tough. I’m sure many of you can relate!
I personally am most productive working outside of my house. There are days when I work from home but they tend to be centered around laundry, cleaning and cooking. Every so often the 1950’s housewife in me comes out — always a pleasant surprise!
However, it can be a tedious task to find good workplaces. This is why I’ve compiled a list of six of my favorite places to get sh*t done in the city! Don’t worry, these aren’t (all) your traditional coffeehouses.
During my freshman year of college I worked as a waitress here and made some good friends I still keep in touch with. When I’m not in the mood for a coffee and want to grab a beer or small bite, I go to Devil’s Alley. The high-ceilings and skylights above the bar makes my day — I am a huge fan of natural light!
The bar staff is always great and there is a rotating draft list, which is a plus! The bar isn’t huge, and during the lunch rush (12pm – 2:30pm) it can get a little rowdy and loud. If you cannot work in a noisy environment, this probably isn’t your place.
The wifi is kind of erratic, but there is a complimentary hour pass available through Xfinity. I set up my hotspot from my cell phone, seat myself near an electrical outlet and tackle my work. I typically am here on Tuesdays or Wednesdays when Brett is bartending. Go see him and say Alex sent you — he hooks it up and is super personable!
Make sure you get fries! I opt for classic, but Old Bay are good too. Brain food, right??
These spaces are located in major cities, including Philadelphia, Boston and Seattle. They offer free wifi for all visitors, a welcoming atmosphere, quality Peet’s Coffee and ample seating. There are also tons of electrical and USB ports! Nothing is worse than a giant working space with nowhere to charge electronics. First world problems, I know.
Aside from the perks mentioned above, there is free financial coaching available to anyone! Capital One identified the divide between millennials and banking then moved towards bridging that gap with the introduction of Capital One Cafes. Grab an incredibly cheap coffee (members get 50% off) and talk about how to better manage your money with an expert financial advisor? Yes please.
I have to admit I am partially biased since I am a Capital One member but hey, discounts on coffee are always appreciated. Plus there are time frames when members get free coffee! So yeah, being a member is great, I love it.
This former auto repair garage turned coffee shop is adorable with a wide variety of speciality espresso beverages, if you’re feeling adventurous! The aesthetic of this joint screams retro summer vibes. Coffee choices range from simple black coffee to espresso tonic mixes. The coffee is good and strong. Available seating options are large communal tables, solo bar seating or lawn chairs.
The inspiration behind this interior design concept comes from the owner’s grandfather, Herman, who was known for sitting in his lawn chair sipping a fresh cup of coffee. This space does more than just warm the heart with their story, they also are supportive of local business ventures! Over the summer they hosted pop-up shops with different Philly businesses, including 1-900-ICE-CREAM.
Follow Herman’s Coffee on Instagram for more information on future events!
4. Rittenhouse Square
For those of you who know me personally, this is no surprise. I practically live in this park, I’m here so much! Growing up in the city, I have always found myself drawn to the park. I really enjoy people watching. I can sit on a bench and observe everything around me for long periods without being bored. The range of people you will encounter during your time here is quite remarkable! This is one of the reasons why Rittenhouse is such an awesome place to hang around. Some of my favorite stories of talking with strangers stems from this park, but that’s a whole different topic. Nonetheless, there is never a dull moment here!
On Tuesdays and Saturdays the park is lined with vendors selling fresh bouquets of flowers, produce, jellies, jams, bread and seasonal specialities. If I swing by on a Tuesday afternoon, I usually grab a mini pretzel from Lost Bread Co. Aside from food, artists and other creative spirits frequent the park. Although the weather is getting cooler, I would recommend spending some time in the park. It’s a great place to sit and recenter yourself, especially now that the crowds have thinned out from summer.
The downside to this spot is the lack of wifi and electricity. However, there is a complimentary hour of Xfinity wifi you can use. And when you need to charge up or use the restroom, there is a Barnes & Nobles directly across the street which is open to the public! Inside, on the second floor, there is also a Starbucks cafe which you could work at but I crave the fresh air.
This fair-trade coffee chain has four locations around Philadelphia, but this one is the largest (and my favorite). If I am going to be sitting in a coffee shop, then it has to hit all criteria: strong coffee, ample outlets and comfortable seating. Plus you’ve got to offer more than just coffee — ya girl has to eat!
Good Karma has tons of tables, offers the option of seat cushions and has an entire menus of food choices, which is awesome. Another plus is that they have a few outdoor tables, but they are difficult to snag!
I was at Herman’s Coffee one day working on some stuff. I got a bit hungry and this place was right next door attached to Charlie’s Roast Pork, a place that make bomb roast pork sandwiches. I decided on going there for lunch. I knew this little island of merchants has been in the Pennsport District for a while, but I am rarely ever by this part of South Philly — I spend a vast majority of my time in Center City.
Pennsport Beer Boutique offers 6 rotating draft beers, including a seasonal Cold Press Coffee Pumking by Southern Tier. (Which sounds AH-MAH-ZING!!) Aside from the draft list, there are an extensive variety of bottled options. Whatever you may choose, you’re allowed to drink it into Charlie’s Roast Pork. You bet I set myself up in the corner, ordered my food, ate and was incredibly nice to my waitress. 10/10 would recommend for good people, beer and food.
Where do you go to work in the city? Let me know in the comments below!
As always, thank you for reading. 🙂