Social Expectations

Everywhere I turn there’s subliminal messages telling me how to live my life, when to get married, when to have a kid, how to look, how to act; the list goes on. From Facebook to Instagram, and this app or that one, I’m bombarded with reminders that I’m just not living up to my full millennial potential.

So, what is wrong with me?

According to social media:

  • I’m not fit enough.
  • My butt isn’t round or big enough.
  • I can’t contour with makeup for the life of me.
  • I am not engaged to my boyfriend of over 4 years; basically, I’m failing at my love life.
  • Kids? HAHA – Girl, you better freeze those eggs.
  • I don’t have enough followers.
  • I don’t have an amazingly impressive career.
  • I haven’t travelled enough.

If I continue to scroll through my IG and Facebook feed that list would grow and grow – if I let it. But who says I need to compare myself to my friends from my hometown, let alone people I don’t even know in the social media world? Nobody.

In reality, I make the own rules for my life. I don’t let myself compare my life to anyone else’s, because if I did, I’d be really damn depressed.

Social media expectations can cause us to be down on ourselves. We may question our own happiness when looking at it side by side of someone else’s content on social media.

My question to you all is: If you didn’t have access to view other’s lives via these social outlets, would you think more highly of yourself? For me, the answer is yes.

I might not have a shredded physique and look like an IG fitness model or I might not have the roundest, biggest booty; but I do what I can to be healthy, and my health is more important than the appearance of my abs.

I might not have crazy makeup skills, in fact my makeup is always very basic, but I love myself for more than the makeup on my face.

I might not be married with kids or even engaged; but I’m happy with the relationship (and partnership) I’ve built with my long-time boyfriend. I might not have a big rock on my finger (yet), but I’m secure enough in our commitment to each other that I can wait for the right time.

I might not have thousands of followers on my IG or have an extensive repertoire of cool/impressive shit I’ve done; but I have goals that I want to crush that I won’t be able to do so if I dwell on what I haven’t accomplished thus far. Not to mention, when I sit down and really look at all I’ve accomplished, it’s far greater than I give myself credit for.

So forget what that other person is doing, pick yourself up from your bootstraps, and get going. Take action to better you. Don’t do it for IG, the likes, or because it looks cool. Do it because you want to.

One day I’ll meet you in a really awesome place on the other side of the world; until then, let’s make stuff happen.

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I Want to Be My Parents When I Grow Up – No, This is Not a Joke

If you asked me 10 years ago when I was 17 if I wanted to be my parents, I would tell you hell no! Fast forward to today and that hard “no” turns into a hard “yes.”

I mean, come on, they are living the life right now. They have a social life that’s busier than mine. Not to mention they go on vacations (multiple) every year. Plus they have a marriage that is 38 years strong. Why wouldn’t I want all that?

This is why:

1. Pays to be practical.

Growing up I always had everything I needed, within reason of course. We went on family vacation every other year and I even got a new car when I was 16. Despite those notable luxuries, my mom always joked about how my Dad is so cheap. It becomes clearer the older I get that his practicality when it came to spending attributed to his financial security; Thus living the life now that he’s in his 60s. So yes, searching for the best deals and saving for the future sounds like some habits I must instill in my own life. (opts into 401K plan)

 

2. Family comes first.

I can’t remember a soccer game or dance recital that either one or both of my parents didn’t attend. Not to mention the prompt 6pm family dinner at home every single night until I went away to college. Sunday nights we even got fancy and went to the diner for dinner. When I say every Sunday, I mean every. single. Sunday. It might sound lame but it was something we looked forward to as a family. Especially as an adult, I can see how making sure to carve out that time every day to spend together was just so good for keeping a close bond between us all. All the time that my parents gave my sister and I is something that I’ll cherish forever and I hope to provide that same tender loving care to my children (oh boy, did I say children?) one day.

 

3. A solid marriage.

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I legit think my parents are cool. Look at my Dad’s motorcycle chaps.

Recently my Dad told me that after 38 years of marriage, there’s still nobody else he would like to spend time with more than my Mom. So sweet right? That’s relationship goals right there. Sure they argue sometimes, mostly about the other’s driving skills, but at the end of the day they love each other and have been all in for better or for worse. Now that my sister and I are grown up they are living the life, as I said before. They do so much stuff together; dinners and drinks out with friends (or just the two of them), weekend getaways or day trips to something like a classic car show, and a simple thing like morning walks with the dog. Basically they enjoy their time together, still, all these years later and I admire their rock solid bond. Hopefully one day my boyfriend and I will reach that status; until then I’ll keep dreaming of my parents’ awesome lives. (Doodles in notebook)

 

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38 years ago

Okay, so I’m technically grown up already, BUT there is still much molding to be done to make myself into an even more adult-like adult. My parents are the mold that I wish to, maybe not fit exactly into (after all I’m my own person), but that which I hope to come close to being. Hey Mom, how am I doing so far?

Caffeine: Anxiety-Prone Beware

Happy Hump Day everyone! I’m sure many of you are reaching for a cup of coffee (or 5) right now to get you over this hump. I was never quite reliant on the stuff, myself, but I’ve definitely had my fair share of coffee in the morning under the pretense that I was going to make my day go better. Like really, this cup filled with magical caffeine made me work more efficient and I was no longer tired. Reality check: that magical stuff only caused feelings of even more anxiety than I would have without it. It would cause panic in my workday that I just couldn’t have while working in a fast paced, not to mention physical, customer service-based industry. Shaky hands while doing a precision haircut? Not such a good idea.

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Hard to break habit, in my quest to go coffee-free I slipped up a few times. The most recent slip up involved a couple week affair with daily iced lattes from my local coffee shop = HOLY ANXIETY! It was then that I said to myself, “ok forreal, lets kick this habit because it’s totally getting in the way of having a happy life.” Like I’m talking super on edge all the time and not sleeping well at all. Not fun.

 

In the last 6 weeks of having only a cup or 2 of green tea in the morning and herbal teas all other times of day, I notice a huge difference. I haven’t had as much anxiety.

 

So what is it about caffeine that makes an anxiety sufferer experience panic?

 

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. (1) Duh, we know this. That’s why we feel more awake with a cup of coffee in the morning. Bad news for us anxiety prone peeps is that we are more susceptible to increased symptoms such as heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, increased levels of stress hormones, and even panic attacks. (2)

 

This doesn’t mean everyone who has experienced anxiety or anxiety attacks feels this way every time they drink coffee, but if you are feeling a little more anxious throughout your days, it might be worth taking a look at the amount of caffeine you are consuming.

 

My alternative is a cup of green tea, maybe two, to get a smaller dose of caffeine if you feel like you absolutely need the stuff to get you through your morning. Another alternative is replacing the drug with some all natural remedies like a morning walk or some exposure to the sun (hello vitamin D). That way you can get a morning pick me up while easing your anxiety. It’s a win win.

Now lets produce some natural endorphins and power through the rest of week!

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Yogi tea is my favorite. They have a blended remedy for everything!

The Ups and Downs of Being an Introvert Overcoming Mental Health Obstacles

Sometimes I’m a loner, hermit, cat lady, or whatever name you want to use to describe the fact that I like to be alone. I tend to revert back to this behavior when I fall into a depressive episode, or when I’m feeling super anxious. I shut myself off from friends and those close to me. More self-care time? More time for me?

Well, not so much.

When I isolate myself from people, it only makes my mental health state worsen: feeling trapped and going through the motions of the day like a zombie.

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Total Cat Lady

If you feel me on this, here’s two tips to make sure you stay balanced mentally.

1. Schedule time for friends and family.

We all get busy, for sure, but the fact that you worked a long week doesn’t mean you should skip out on that dinner with your bestie or that party with your co-worker.

Humans are social beings. Regardless of being an introvert versus an extrovert, its human nature to desire a connection with another being (human not pet). So when we shut out other people from our lives on a regular basis because we are going through things, it only makes a part of us empty; thus making it really hard to dig ourselves out of that funky rut we got ourselves into in the first place.

I know its easy (so easy) to think that our cat (or dog if you swing that way) is enough to help us through the rough times; a bit of Netflix or Hulu. But what we need more than anything during these times of struggle are the people we know will climb mountains with us.

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These girls will climb mountains with me. (literally and figuratively)

And 2. Make it a habit to take care of yourself.

Self-care is so important. But it doesn’t mean isolating ourselves from others.

Instead, we need to set aside time daily, or even weekly, dedicated to “me’ time: Walking, kickboxing, dancing, reading, gardening. Doing whatever it is that allows us to relax our minds as well as our bodies.

In coping with your mental health, it really comes down to balance. We can’t always rely on ourselves to get through the tough stuff. Some good old human connection can help ease our anxiety and maybe even bring us out of our sad corner. So some nights it’s Netflix and chill with the cat, while other nights it’s spent bonding with loved ones: balance. 

Current Status: Not feelin’ it. Treatment: Confront Yo’ Self

What is “it” that I’m talking about? If you’ve ever battled with depression or anxiety, you know that “it” is very difficult to pinpoint. People ask me, well what’s wrong? And to be quite honest, there’s not always a clear answer. “It” is daunting; A weight on your shoulders that makes you hunch over and want to crawl into bed, or never get out of it in the first place; Or “it” is a gut wrenching feeling that won’t stop churning and churning until you feel like you have a hole in your stomach.

 

Not to be Debbie Downer, but I know I’m not the only one.

 

Lately I’ve been feeling so off. My current mental status is on the verge of a nervous breakdown one minute, and the other I’m feeling so sad and uninterested in life.

 

For a long time my M.O. was sweeping these kind of feelings under the rug; self medicating in multiple ways including consuming disgusting amounts of alcohol and pretending like I’m normal. Like, “Bitch, IDGAF.” But truth is, that was destructive behavior and only made way for the cycle of depression and anxiety to continue. The only time I got back control of my mind was when I confronted “it” head on.

 

Recently I’ve neglected the things that gave me control over me. I felt myself turning to the self-sabotaging habits that will only put me in a worse headspace.

 

But I’m taking a stand today to take back the reigns. I have dreams that go way further than the bottom of a bottle or wasting my days away in bed: I’m here to show you ladies (and gentlemen if you’re reading this) that you aren’t alone in “it.” We all feel sad and on edge at times. Many of us are struggling with depression or anxiety but we are afraid to talk about it. So I’m using this platform as a safe space; to show you guys, and remind myself, how to live a pretty balanced life and kick our bad mental space to the curb.

 

I’m not here to offer you a total solution to the problem. These are things that we need to work at overcoming and if we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves, these negative thoughts and feelings will come creeping back into our lives again. But let’s use The Pretty Balanced Life to discuss the tools we can use to help ease our minds and bring some balance up in here.

 

Now who wants to live this pretty balanced life with me?

 

Feel free to comment telling me a little about your story, what you want to read about, or just to say hi!

I took my shirt off in yoga class – here’s what happened!

I’m going to get honest with you guys; I  have gained some weight in the recent months and although I want to be 100% comfortable with that, I would be lying if I said I was. Being a huge supporter of the body positive movement, I believe with all my heart that we should love ourselves down to every curve and roll. The reality is – we aren’t going to feel confident at every moment, and that’s OK!

This past Sunday I took a level 2 vinyasa class with my sister before we headed to Easter Brunch. It was about 80 degrees, however, the A/C was not on and the temperature in the room was on the rise. The sweat was dripping off my body and my loose-fitting shirt was becoming increasingly more uncomfortable. I kept looking around to see if anyone else was flowing in their sports bra, but everyone was still wearing a shirt. I was nervous to whip mine off and be exposed to everyone. What if everyone looks at my side roll in Warrior 2? Or my belly bulge in forward fold? My thoughts raced for about 10 minutes until I couldn’t take the heat anymore. The class took child’s pose and I pulled my shirt over my head. Phew. Relief. And guess what? Nobody even noticed I was practicing in my bra.

I was so worried about what other people would think about my body, but the fact of the matter is – other people don’t care. And if they do, its out of their own insecurity. Nobody stared, nobody gave me funny looks, or looks of disgust. We were all hot and I chose to do what would make me comfortable, even if I had to overcome my insecurity to get to that place of comfort.

I might not be totally comfortable with my recent 10 lb weight gain (who’s counting?), but I know that if I embrace myself as is, no matter what, I can find that confidence again. We are all different shapes and sizes. It’s about realizing I’m never doing to look like the woman next to me, and she will never look like me. I am me. And I love me, as me. No matter how much weight I gain. 

So moral of the story: if you’re hot in yoga class or kickboxing class or whatever class of choice, go ahead and flaunt it – love handles and all. Trust me, you’ll feel a sense of freedom and empowerment taking pride in your own body. 

Fear me Not: Why we hold ourselves back from our dreams and how to break free

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I know a thing or two about dreams. My whole life I’ve been a dreamer, painting vivid pictures in my mind of the possibilities of my future; Yet, it wasn’t until recently that I was able to get the courage to go for it.
The roadblock I faced was my own self. I was afraid of ME. I was afraid to let myself go all in to make shit happen. Anyone feel me on this? 

Why are we afraid to go for what we want?

WE ARE COMFORTABLE

It’s so easy to sit back in our routine day in and day out because, well, it’s what we know. There’s a level of comfort in the familiar. Our dreams are pretty images we create in our minds, so for a lot of us it’s easier to keep them there. We continue to go to the job that we don’t necessarily love because it pays the bills and we need to eat, am I right? Setting our dreams into action is scary. Why?

FEAR OF FAILURE

We can’t fail if we never take action. Being worried that we won’t succeed hinders our ability to allow ourselves to make a change. Tolerating non-ideal situations out of fear is holding us back from growth, meaning we can’t achieve greatness if we don’t allow ourselves to take the risk. 

How can we ignite change? 

START SMALL

No need to go quit your job tomorrow. You might shock your system with an extreme, not to mention abrupt change. Take baby steps; one foot in front of the other. You want to start a business? Do your research in your free time. Write a business plan. Network. Tell people your dream. Speak it into existence. You can keep your current job while you figure out your plan. Planning is important. Then take the action. 

Not sure what it is that you want?

Find what feels good.

Maybe you don’t want to make a whole career change. Possibly you just aren’t happy in your current position. Maybe you want to free yourself of your every day stress. Find what feeds your soul. Go for a walk or start meditating. Learn about yourself and even further, get to know the world. Expanding your knowledge of the world, different cultures, and new ideas will allow you to figure out what could be the answer to finding that thing that will break you free from yourself.

Believe in yourself

If you don’t, nobody else will. I love positive affirmations. Telling myself, either in my head or out loud, helps to boost my confidence. If you believe, you will more easily find the motivation to take action. We are worthy and capable of anything as long as we think we can. It’s ultimately up to us to put our desires into action. 

I fear me not; I got this. WE got this. 

Power of Perspectives

Yooying.com

Do you ever get caught in a situation, whether it be an argument or someone does something you view to be negative towards you, and you are so heated that the more you think the more angry you get? Yeah, samesies. We’ve all gone 0-60 in a second flat with no signs of braking. Normal it is, but the rise in my blood pressure in these situations is telling me it’s not too great for my health. 

Here’s another scenario: you’ve been dying to get this big promotion at work and it’s between you and the girl at the desk next to you. She’s called into the big boss’s office and comes out gushing about how she nailed the promotion. You smile through your teeth and slip to the bathroom to ball your eyes out. For the rest of the day you shoot death glares toward your coworker and secretly hope she gets hit by a bus while riding a CitiBike. Sadly, that doesn’t happen and you spend months being bitter about it. 

When things don’t go our way, it’s our instinct to get angry or sad. Often pittying ourselves for our misfortunes and short comings. What we should be doing is changing how we view ourselves in the world.

Think proactive versus reactive. Maybe these non-ideal situations are the universe’s way of saying it’s not our time. In the case of a heated argument, the universe is telling us to shut up and be humble. 

In The Art of Happiness by Howard C. Cutler, the Dalai Lama speaks on changing perspectives. He says that understanding all sides of an argument will lead us to clarity and a sense of peace. 

It’s not an easy way of thinking and sounds really “gronola,” but it works. Practice taking yourself out of your own shoes, better yet, mentally flying out of your body to take an overhead view of reality. 

Maybe the other person is right, maybe they’re wrong, it doesn’t matter. Just having an understanding of what caused the other person to act that way could help free you from the burning anger and move the hell on. Maybe they have some problems at home causing them to act out. You never know what is going on in someone else’s life. Sometimes we need to be the bigger person. For our own mental health, let it go. 

Maybe your coworker was more qualified for the promotion than you. Maybe it simply was not your time to move up. It sucks, but take this as an opportunity to look at yourself and what you can improve on at work so you can snag the next promotion. 

Growth comes from a realization of what IS and assessing what needs to happen going forward. Stop holding onto the bad blood and the negative thoughts. It’s toxic. Free yourself and see the bigger picture. The world is far greater than you. It would be a shame to box yourself in. 

Embracing Life and the little things that come with it. 

I turned 27 yesterday. Its not a pivotal year of my life, like 21 was, or like 30 will be; Still, it’s another year that I’m welcoming in more experiences and more living that I can honestly say I’m excited for. 

Hello 27, I’m ready for you…and more selfies

Looking back on my transition from a teenage girl, to a college kid, to a young woman, I recognize more than ever that happiness is something attainable if I really want it. 
We all want what we don’t have. We have flat hair; we want big hair. We have thick hair; we want finer hair. We have straight hair; we want curly hair – and vice versa. Our desires for what’s on the other side of our reality does not stop at our appearance. These alternate desires spill into our personal and professional lives as well. Coveting fancy cars and extravagant vacations; A life that is opposite of, or what we deem as better than, our own.
Well let me tell you something, there is no formula to happiness. Happiness is something we make a conscious effort to open ourselves up to every single day. 
Open yourself up to love YOU
I used to be so afraid to be vulnerable. I was angry and, ultimately, I was responsible for the negative feelings and experiences that I had. There was a wall that blocked me from my happiness and I had constructed it. 
It took many years for me to realize what would make me happy. Accepting myself for who I am was the first step to a better life. Embracing my flaws and loving myself for the worst was so healing. I had to believe that I was truly great before I could welcome happiness into my life and break that wall down.
It’s the little things….
I know you’ve heard this so many times before, but there is so much beauty to be seen if you open your eyes and SEE it. 
Appreciating little pleasures in your daily life like the birds chirping in the morning outside your window, or the sun shining down on your face, will be a catalyst to open you up to feeling happy throughout your day. Things won’t seem so mundane anymore if you learn to enjoy those little things. Find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Life in itself is beautiful. You just have to learn to see it and to embrace it. 
Untame that happiness simply by being. No fancy life (or appearances) required. 

Own Your Beauty

I’m pretty sure the number one reason we get our hair done is because we want to look good. (Duh) A fresh trim or some highlights is such a confidence booster. But what I notice among women around me, is that we fixate on our flaws rather than what is totally awesome about ourselves. 

When we only look at what is wrong with us, we fail to appreciate what makes us beautiful. 

I’ve struggled all my life with negative (inner and outer) self-image. I was trapped in a cycle of hating on myself for things that I could not change. The negative self talk did nothing but bring me down further and I wasn’t just hating ON my flaws; I was hating myself as a whole. 

For years I knew something had to change, but I didn’t know what. Suffering from anxiety, I seeked out some help from meditation. Focusing on my breath and letting go of all the things (usually bad) flooding my head helped to clear it all out. In addition to meditation I began my journey to the practice of mindfulness. Basically this practice is changing the way you think and your outlook on the world, and how you see yourself in it. 
It’s not easy, but taking an objective look at things and forgetting all your previous views on yourself really helps to gain a new appreciation for the good. I didn’t think I was skinny enough, strong enough, outspoken enough. But after throwing that all out the window and changing my outlook I was able to see how compassionate, beautiful, and insightful I was. I even realized that through all my struggles that I made it. I am strong enough. 

I am enough. You are enough. 
Maybe your hair isn’t long and voluminous. Well, there’s extensions for that, and product to give your locks a boost. Maybe your hair is coarse and thick. Well, find a great deep conditioner and moisturizing styling cream. Take what you have and work with it.
You aren’t a size two? Embrace those curves! Go shopping for clothes that highlight your awesome legs or your waist. 

I have big, frizzy, puffy hair and I’m okay with that. I’ve actually learned to love and embrace it. When you change your thinking, you change your attitude.

Look in the mirror see your beautiful. Your confidence is in there somewhere, but only you can bring it out.