On Standby

Good morning,

It’s been awhile, friends.

My summer as a camp director has been nothing short of busy and exhausting – but also exhilarating and fulfilling. I’ve had a ton of ideas burst into my mind about where I want to take this blog but the one thing that I need in order to do that is something I don’t have much of: time.

With less time, comes less devotion to writing and less posts which has been both disappointing and freeing.

At the beginning of 2017, I crafted personal resolutions that I hoped to fulfill before the end of the year. What I didn’t realize is that some of them are going to have to be put on the back-burner while I finish out my last summer working at camp.

Here, we really have a classic case of thinking you can take on everything as long as you want it badly enough.

I’ve felt burdened any time I’ve thought about posting since camp started in May – which is weird, because does anyone even read this thing? To give myself some peace of mind and comfort knowing that I can take a break from something I love, I’m putting the blog on standby until the end of the summer.

As corny as it sounds: it‘s not goodbye, it’s see you later.

If you feel so inclined, you can read some of my older posts that relate to self care and giving yourself a break:

The Counterintuitive Idea of Taking a Break From the Things You Love

Stress is an Attitude

How Do You Self-Care?

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With love from camp,

Lain

 

20 Questions to Help Know Yourself Better

Happy Sunday, y’all!

 

I’m now in the midst of beginning applications for my final internship for grad school. It’s shocking to me how quickly this first year has flown by and here I am, with graduation only another short year away. Madness!

Anyways, as I fill out form after form after form and spend my free time crafting cover letters, my mind is constantly inundated with trying to answer prompts ranging from: “Tell us about yourself,” “What qualifications and skills do you bring to this position?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

I think we can all agree that these questions can be super freaking hard to answer.

Why is that? Why is talking about ourselves so hard?

After turning this idea over in my mind, I’ve come to two conclusions:

  1. We want to answer differently than everyone else.
  2. We don’t know the answers.

As humans (or maybe just as Americans), we have an innate tendency to want to be different, unique, special – like snowflakes.

Jokes aside, I think that a lot of us get tripped up because we don’t want to answer like everyone else – and that’s not a bad thing! To stand out amongst other applications, you want to show the interviewers that you bring something that they can’t get from someone else so naturally, you want to answer differently.

On the flip side, sometimes we just don’t know the answers.

In this case, some self-reflection can give you the insight you need. You can think of this as an interview with yourself to prepare for the interview with your potential future boss.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t think that you need to be applying for a new job to ask yourself these questions. Any time is the best time to try to know yourself better! Everyone can benefit from taking time to devote some brain power to answering these, even if it only unfolds a small nugget of wisdom.

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If you’re a journal nerd like me, you can turn this into a fun writing challenge to span out over a few weeks or you can simply use it as inspiration to generate answers to difficult interview/application questions.

Whatever tickles your fancy.

Without further ado, here are 20 questions you can ask yourself to get to know YOU better – your starting point to get re-acquainted with the unique person that you are:

  • What do I find myself doing when I’m not working, finishing homework, doing chores, etc?
  • What is something that helps me breathe a sigh of relief in the midst of a busy day or week?
  • When and where do I find myself being the most productive?
  • What have I been told by a teacher, boss, or coach that I am good at?
  • What is something that can almost immediately put me into a bad mood?
  • How do I get myself out of a bad mood?
  • At what time in my life was I the happiest I’ve been thus far?
  • What contributed to that point in time that made me so happy?
  • What, if anything, is different between then and now? What is the same?
  • What is something I did in my past that I still give myself a hard time for? Why?
  • When is a time that I can ‘let my hair down’ and feel relaxed?
  • How do I know when I’m stressed out?
  • Who do I admire or look up to? What characteristics do I admire them for?
  • If I could be living any kind of life right now, what kind of life would that be?
  • If I’m not living that life, what is holding me back from pursuing that lifestyle?
  • How do I show people that I care about them?
  • How do I know that others care about me?
  • What do I think it will take to get to where I want to be?
  • What is my definition of success? 
  • How do I know when I have been successful?

•••

I hope these questions helped you gain a little bit of personal insight as the weekend comes to a close. After all, no one else can be an expert on what makes you YOU.

Until next time, friends.

XO, Lain

See the Good

Hello positivity seekers,

Sitting down at my laptop to write a post has been a challenging task for me this week. I started this blog as a documentation of my journey to supplement my life with positivity and happiness – not realizing how difficult this can be on the hard days.

One of my goals for 2017 was to stop hesitating.

Hesitation has always been a cornerstone of my experience with anxiety. When I was younger (and even today), I wouldn’t try certain things that I really, really wanted to do because I couldn’t get passed ‘thinking mode.’ I had an intolerance of uncertainty and a detrimental fear of regret – essentially, I would avoid doing something until I was 100% sure that I wouldn’t regret it later.

The thing about anxious people is that most of them can articulate the irrationality of their thoughts and worries. But even so, it feels impossible to get past them or to do something in spite of them. For me, not doing something, or avoiding it all together, always seemed like a safer option in the long run.

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A few days ago, a good friend of mine called and told me that my previous manager who I had worked for throughout college had passed away.

I’ve been feeling a thousand different emotions since I got that call.

I had worked for him at a fine-dining restaurant for three and a half years while I was in college. A friend I worked with described him as “work dad” – which he totally was. He was always cracking dad jokes, poking fun at everyone, and lightening the mood. But he would also regularly check in to see how everyone was doing. More than once, he sent me home with bags of groceries because he knew I hardly had any at home. I would sit in his office long after my shifts ended to talk about my life, hardships I was struggling through, and my dreams for post-grad life.

Life got busy after I moved south when I worked at a sleep-away camp and immediately launched into grad school in the fall. I kept thinking about sending “work dad” an email or calling to check in but I kept hesitating, telling myself he more than likely didn’t have the time to read it or that he probably didn’t care that much.

One day after I told my sister that I was going to send that email, he was gone.

If I could change anything today, I would have sent that email. Ignored those anxious thoughts, ran away from the “what ifs,” and just hit send. I would’ve stopped hesitating.

Because regret is much harder to live with than the safety of not doing something.

Yes, I have regrets. Lots of “should have’s” and “could have’s” running through my mind the last few days – “I should’ve called him,” “I should’ve gone to visit last fall when I had more time” – and I’ve learned the hard way what hesitating can cost me. While getting out of a regretful place can be challenging, it’s possible. We can’t change the past, and we can’t undo what’s been done. But we can learn. We can grow. And then, we can move forward.

My advice to you all is to stop, stop, stop hesitating. Go out and do the thing! Send that email! Text that friend! Go to that new workout class! I read a quote once that talked about how most people regret the things they haven’t done more than the things they have.

I think they’re onto something.

And if you didn’t do the thing and you’re stuck in that low, shitty, regretful place, don’t unpack and stay there. Learn from it. Grow from it. Move forward.

And most importantly, see the good – even on the hard days. If you don’t see it the first time you look, look again. I promise it’s always there.

 

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XO, Lain

 

 

Why Goals Are So Much Better Than Resolutions

Hello, positivity seekers!

Writing about self-care yesterday got me thinking about how I can actually start taking better care of myself. In turn, I started thinking about the upcoming New Year, developing new habits, and the ever-so-enticing “New Year Resolutions.”

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Resolution: (n) a firm decision to do or not to do something.

Does that definition sound inspiring to you? I didn’t think so. To me, resolutions, specifically New Year resolutions, are more like ideas. “I want to be more fit and in better shape so my resolution for 2017 is to start working out again.” Super great idea, right? Well, this person is the same person who you see in the gym on January 1 but you don’t see after January 15. It’s so easy to come up with these ideas but it’s even more challenging to actually stick with them.

Why?

Because there’s often not a measure of accomplishment to go along with them.

In contrast, goals are defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; or an aim or desired result.” Both resolutions and goals come from a place of ambitious action but developing goals helps you to determine what you’re actually working towards.

Instead of, “In 2017, I want to start working out again.” Try, “In 2017, I want to be able to squat 135 lbs,” (anyone else? Just me?)

The difference between the two is that the second example is concrete and defined, increasing your chances of strategizing and developing an action plan to achieve your goal!

A new year is a fresh start, a clean slate, a concrete beginning. It’s the time to reflect on the past year to see what worked, what didn’t work, and what you hope to change for the better. It’s the time to start developing new habits! When you make your goals for 2017, think about, and even write out, how you can achieve them – not only will this increase your chances of success, it’ll probably make you feel more motivated to get started!

•••••

To jump on the bandwagon, I thought I’d share my goals for 2017!

I started broad with 4 main categories and broke down my goals from there. Some of the goals are time-sensitive and some of them are ongoing. What matters is that they’re meaningful (and attainable!) and I feel super stoked and motivated to work towards them this year. I hope these spark some inspiration for your goal-setting journey!

  • De-clutter and minimize.
    • Turn all of my hangers/fold all of my clothes the opposite way so I can see what I wear/don’t wear. Donate what hasn’t been worn at the end of January.
    • Go through make-up  collection and throw away products that I don’t use.
    • Learn more about minimalism (more on this coming soon!)
  • Stay active.
    • Squat 135 lbs by March 1st.
    • Bench press 95 lbs by March 1st.
    • Attend a yoga class consistently for at least 1 month.
    • Start climbing black routes at the bouldering gym by the end of 2017.
  • Be creative.
    • Continue with #Project365 on Instagram.
    • Consistently post at least 1 blog post per week.
    • Experiment + have fun with GoPro.
  • Take better care of myself.
    • Develop a consistent night-time routine to improve my poor sleeping habits.
    • Try meditation for at least 1 month (to see what the hype is all about).
    • Try cooking 1 new recipe each week.
    • Re-establish Meal Prep Sundays!
    • Drink less coffee + drink more water (admittedly not super excited about this one).
    • Loosen up + don’t sweat the small stuff.
    • Stop hesitating.

 

What are your goals for 2017? How are you planning on keeping track of your progress?

Happy New Year, y’all! And happy goal setting!

XO, Lain

 

 

How Do You Self-Care?

Hello, my fellow positivity seekers!

Since writing my first post, my mind has been swimming with ideas on where to go next. (I’d be lying if I said I haven’t started at least five different posts in the past few days…) I thought the most challenging part of starting a blog would be actually starting it. In reality, the hardest part has been figuring out what comes after!

As I started (and re-started, and re-started…) writing this morning, I began to feel the writer’s block taking over. Nothing I wrote felt authentic and it all seemed a little disconnected from what I was feeling.

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Photo Credit: Wonderlass

To pick myself up from the downer mood I was slumping into, I started cleaning. I don’t know about you but cleaning and organizing are some of my FAVORITE things to do when I’m feeling low. The acts of sweeping away all of the dust and dirt, de-cluttering some over-stuffed spaces, and finally doing those dishes that have been in the sink a little too long (we’ve all been there, right?) makes me feel totally refreshed, light, and content. 

It hit me shortly after I put away the last of the dishes: cleaning my apartment was an act of self-care. *Cue the burst of writing clarity and inspiration!*

This is my very, very round-about way of presenting a contextual example of self-care. I know, I know, everyone and their mom has been preaching about self-care and mindfulness and yada, yada. Personally, I love talking about this stuff – but I do find that some conversations and dialogues about these topics can feel cheesy or contrived.

What I realized today is that sometimes talking about self-care feels corny because it looks different for everyone. 

Occasionally I’ll read a blog post talking about self-care where the writer details how drawing a bath, tossing in a bath bomb, and soaking in suds with a glass of wine is their go-to activity when they need a little TLC. I often find myself thinking, “That is so not me – I don’t love getting pruny in the bath and I don’t drink wine. Maybe self-care isn’t my thing?”

Now, don’t take this as me being a hater. I commend and respect people who can lounge in a bath for hours of total relaxation (especially when they can snap tranquil photos for Insta too!) The main takeaway is that self-care looks different for everyoneToday, my self-care was to take a breath, take a break, and clean my apartment. Your self-care might be cracking open your journal to write out some pent-up emotions. Or it might be throwing on your tennies and going for a run.

Self-care is YOU taking care of yourself. So it makes sense that your chosen activities might not be the same as everyone else’s, right?

Self-care is a huge buzz topic in the blogging community and for good reason. If someone else’s chosen activities don’t tickle your fancy, take some time to reflect and figure out what works for you! It’s okay if your’s look a little different from someone else’s – you may inspire someone to think outside their self-care box!

What activities, things, or people bring you up from feeling down? How do these things make you feel relaxed and clear-minded? How did you figure out that these work for you?

XO, Lain

Back in the Driver’s Seat

Ask any grad student and they’ll tell you that rigorous master’s programs force you into a lot of (often unwanted) self-reflection. You have to analyze how you manage heavy loads of work, assess areas and skills that you need to improve, and recognize both the healthy and unhealthy ways that you cope with stress. For anxious perfectionists like myself, this aspect of grad school has been grueling and like a never-ending series of adult growing pains.

This obviously is not the same for all grad programs out there and I can only speak from my current experience as a student in a master’s of science in social work (MSSW) program. But let me tell you: my first semester called for constant, constant, constant self-reflection and critique.

You’d think that being a part of a program that embraces introspection and reflecting upon one’s strengths and weaknesses would help me to boost up my self-care and focus on enhancing my strengths, right?

Wrong.

I’ll be totally, totally honest: My. Self. Care. Routine. SUCKED. I mean, it was basically non-existent.

On top of that, constant self-analyzation is super anxiety-inducing – even for the average person. For someone prone to being self-critical (i.e. ME), this aspect of grad school served as a huuuge foundation for developing a negative view of myself.

Now, for a little bit of clarification (and to stop myself from sounding over-dramatic), I have to admit that my first semester of grad school was better than I’m making it out to be. I got the best grades I’ve ever gotten, I established wonderful friendships with a lot of my classmates, and I loved what I was learning and the work that I was doing.

The problem here was that I was so wrapped up in school, analyzing my personal strengths and weaknesses as a professional, and learning the ‘ins and outs’ of social work practice that I wasn’t putting any focus on enhancing my own life and caring for myself. I became overly self-critical and (sometimes) debilitatingly anxious over my performance and others’ perceptions of me. This created a mindset where I was almost always searching for things that were broken and needed fixing in virtually every part of my life, ranging from how I was doing at my internship to how often I was (or wasn’t) working out and being active. I criticized everything.

I basically transformed into an emotional, anxious mess.

Despite the fact that I was doing the best I ever had in my short life, I often went to bed feeling empty. And I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what I was missing.

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After the semester ended and I was FINALLY on break for a few weeks, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘I’ve been so negative, focusing so much on the outside aspects of my life – what will happen if I change my mindset and try to focus on the inside stuff instead?’ 

I realized that going to school, pursuing my career, and ‘having everything’ wasn’t going to make me happy – and negatively critiquing the less-than-perfect parts wasn’t going to either. Real, raw fulfillment and happiness won’t come from that – it comes from within!

So, what’s the point in me sharing all of this?

Well, with the start of a new year looming, I have decided to dedicate 2017 to take what I’m learning in grad school (and from my favorite self-care bloggers!) to myself and my personal life – and to document my journey along the way.

happiness-is-not-determined-by-whats-happening-around-you-but-rather-whats-happening-inside-youSelf-care and self-development are in y’all, and I’m feelin’ trendy.

I’m still not entirely sure what this entails or what this year has in store for me BUT I do know that I’m absolutely stoked to get started. After having a few weeks away from school for the holidays, I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and 100% certain that I can achieve my goals and be happier and more fulfilled while doing it.

2017 is the year that I’m turning my focus onto myself. It’s the year that I’m taking control of the ‘inside stuff’ – my growth, wellbeing, and happiness. I’m back in the driver’s seat. I’m “staying in my Lain.”

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for stickin’ with me! Talk to you soon.

XO, Lain