My Dad 10/10 Would Recommend

The year is 2001 and I’m about 6 years old. We’re eating dinner as a family, I am chowing down, my little sister has set up all her plastic animals around her plate, and my dad turns to me – 

‘Hey Melina’ 

‘What?’ I say through a mouthful of food

‘I love you’ my dad replies. 

I scowl at him, but he just looks at me with a smug smile because he had just won the game. 

The game was simple. The object of the game was to say I love you first. If I had been on the ball that day – as soon as he said my name I would’ve said ‘I love you’ and then I would’ve won. 

This might be the simplest game on the entire planet, but I’m only beginning to realize now how important it was that I played this game with my dad specifically, from before I can even remember. 

See, the thing is, the older I get, the more people I meet, the more families I hear about – and unfortunately, the more examples of terrible fatherhood I am exposed to. 

Don’t get me wrong – mothers can mess it up too – but fatherhood seems to be more commonly treated as optional. Must be the whole ‘didn’t-actually-grow-the-baby-inside-you’ thing but every time I hear one of these stories – I’m almost reduced to tears out of gratitude for my own father. 

That game we used to play is a perfect example of why I appreciate him so much. My dad has never really been shy about sharing his feelings or opinions. When I was younger, this manifested itself into numerous fights since apparently, we are of exactly the same temperament, but as I grow into early adulthood I’ve realized just how influential his expression of emotions has been for me. 

He was never shy about telling me he loved me, that he supported me, or even that he was frustrated with me. And he didn’t just tell me – he would show it too. He picked me and my sister up from school almost every day when we were little. He would set boundaries for me when I was out of line. He made full-on sausage McMuffin sandwiches from scratch for my whole varsity swim team when it was my turn to bring breakfast in the morning. He’s the reason I have such an insatiable travel bug.  But maybe most importantly – he always believed in my ability to do absolutely whatever I said I wanted to do and has always been there for me when things didn’t work out.

Somewhere around age nineteen, my dad even became the person I would go to for advice on guys/relationships. I can call him for everything from a mid-crying jag breakdown over something silly all the way to how exactly I should break up with a guy I’m just not feeling it with. He is a man, after all, I honestly don’t even know why it took me until age nineteen to start listening to his perspective – he hasn’t really been wrong yet.

But it’s not just guys – he’s really there for me no matter what. I have many an existential crisis and he’s always willing to sit with me and help me through it.  Toxic masculinity who?

Maybe it’s a European thing. Maybe it’s just my dad’s brand of being a dad. His birthday is coming up this Friday and even though he’s in Greece per usual this time of year – I still wanted to go ahead and type this out because I’m so so grateful for him. You don’t get to choose your parents, and sometimes that can turn out less than ideal, but with every single passing day – I’m so thankful I ended up with mine. 

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Me and my dad from this past summer when he FINALLY came to see one of my adult apartments 😉

Giving Thanks Doesn’t Have to Be a Big Deal

It’s Thanksgiving week which means we’re all thinking about one of two things – the food or what we’re thankful for (or perhaps the devastating effects of colonization, but I’ll leave it up to you). In any case, gratitude should be a part of this week, and some would argue that it should be a part of daily life. Gratitude is definitely having a moment in the self-care space with people spouting all kinds of practices surrounding it that promise to increase happiness and decrease stress. There are multiple different ways to integrate it into daily life that can be far more impactful than just spending a few days on it each year. 

In my opinion, the thing people most often miss about gratitude is the feeling of intention, which can be applied to a much wider range of things than the big ideas. Of course, I’m enormously grateful for my loving family, my friends, my health, the fact that I have no problem affording all the basic necessities in life. But those are easy to think about – because they are so ever present. So I stop actively thinking about how much they do for me. They are huge facets of my life and I would sound insane if I said I wasn’t grateful for them but they aren’t the only things to be grateful for. 

What about all the little things? I personally prefer spending a little time each day being grateful for little things. I spend maybe a minute every day thinking about three small things I’m grateful for and, I hate to sound cliche, it does improve my day. 

For example, on Thursday of last week, I wrote down that I was grateful for having a good hair day, that my sister always picks up the phone when I need to cry, and I was grateful for that the sun had come out that day. These are random, the first things that came to mind as I started the exercise, nothing groundbreaking. 

But the reason this works for me is that throughout the day I inevitably get stressed a little bit – I’m high strung what can I tell you – and thinking about these little things in the morning gives me something to come back to when I start to get angry or annoyed. Don’t get me wrong, I still let the negative emotions flow, but I don’t spiral because my gratitude practice produces this little nagging voice at the back of my mind that is actually positive. I’ll be frustrated at the slow response from a team member and the voice will say ‘yeah that sucks, but look outside. Look at how the sun sparkles off the lake’ and then I can’t really marinate in my misery quite as well with that little thought peeking through. 

That is the power of gratitude. If you find new things to be grateful for every day then the feeling retains its impact. You don’t feel the need to roll your eyes at yourself for picking the same things. You’re allowed to be grateful for the same things all the time, but you’re also allowed to be grateful for things that only apply to you – the seemingly small things, the seemingly insignificant things. Because if you allow yourself to intentionally feel for them, you may end up with more positivity than you thought. 

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PC: Tiffany Wong; Grateful for vacation time to take this photo in Portugal

Fall Favorites

I love favorites videos on YouTube – they’re how I’ve discovered a lot of products, books, and apps that I consistently use and adore in my own life. As such, I’m going to try and post Seasonal favorites for awhile. These lists will always be varied as I don’t typically shop a lot for fashion or beauty items, but I am always trying new things.

Wellness: 

Breakfast – recently I added a new breakfast recipe to my rotation. It goes like this: One large toasted piece of sourdough bread with salted butter, arugula, two pieces of bacon, a fried egg, and some grueyere cheese shaved on top. Takes about seven minutes to make and looks like a restaurant should’ve charged you $17 for it. 

Jump Rope – There’s a standard speed rope in my apartment building’s gym complex that I picked up one day and have absolutely fallen in love with using jump rope for warm ups and as part of HIIT circuits. If I use it as a warm up – I do 40 sec on, 20 sec off for 5-10 min and I vary my jumps throughout the 40 seconds. If I use it in HIIT circuits, it’s usually 30 second intervals of speed jumping. It’s amazing at getting your heart rate up in a short period of time. I highly recommend it if you’re looking to get some cardio into your routine but hate the steady state of a treadmill, bike, or elliptical.

Olly Vitamins – These are gummy vitamins that exist for all sorts of purposes. I have the women’s multivitamin that comes in a berry flavor. Typically I don’t take any vitamins or supplements, but these are so fun I couldn’t resist. For women they also come with some extra vitamin D and biotin to cater especially to our body’s needs. I like them because they make vitamins fun. That’s literally it.

Beauty/Skincare: 

Kosas Weightless Lipstick (Fringe) – I am not a lipstick girl, precisely because I find lip products to be super high maintenance. Lip gloss? Gets stuck in my hair. Lip stains? Turn flakey too quickly. Lipstick? Fades unevenly as soon as I eat or drink anything. So when I discovered Kosas’s lipstick as recommended as one that is easy to stain lips but doesn’t try and fades evenly I was intrigued. I picked up Fringe which is halfway between a bright red and a brick red and I love it. I put it on over lip balm, blend it in with my finger to make it look less done and I don’t have to worry about it after that. Yes it does fade, but it fades EVENLY which is all I can ask for. 

Ole Henrikson Truth Serum – This is one of the best vitamin C serums on the market and it’s probably one of the most affordable as well. I recently had some pretty bad breakouts and put this product back in my rotation to prevent any scarring and I had forgotten how much it helps my skin look brighter and more even consistently. As such I’ve added it back into my regular routine with the products I mentioned last month here. 

 

Media

Red Notice by Bill Browder (book): An incredible nonfiction story about one man and how he became the highest financier in Russia, to one of Russia’s biggest enemies, to a champion for international human rights. It’s all true but it reads like a thriller. I would describe very few non-fiction stories as true page-turners but this one qualifies. The stuff that happened to Browder is so unbelievable that the end of almost every chapter leaves you shocked yet ravenous to find out how he survives it.  

One Punch Man – Season 2 (subbed) came out on Hulu and I was pumped! I love this show so much mostly because the main character is just so amazing. The show is basically about a  hero who is so strong he can defeat any villain with one punch, easily, comically. As such, he faces an existential crisis because no one is strong enough to offer a real challenge. Season two focuses more on other characters and the infrastructure behind the world and there’s some pretty incredible action sequences. 

Parasite (Bong Joon Ho) – the Korean film that stole the show at the Cannes film festival is out in theaters in the states right now and it is a banger. The movie is about a con artist family who preys on a wealthy family. It’s an edge of your seat type film with some amazing dissection of the class system baked in. The imagery is insane, the characters are charming to a fault and it keeps you guessing. This director also did Snowpiercer which is my favorite movie of all time. 

Demon Slayer (subbed) – is another anime that is on Hulu. A girlfriend recommended it to me while I was in Spain with her and it is so good. The story revolves around a boy whose family is killed by a demon. His sister survives, but barely and he becomes a demon slayer to turn her back into a human. The art is absolutely beautiful and despite the simple description I just gave, the story is rich and keeps you clicking that next episode button. 

Miscellaneous

Zojirushi Thermos  – This is it. This is the thermos to end your thermos. I have been using this to take coffee to the office on days where I just CAN’T, and I have to literally leave the lid off the thermos in order for the coffee to cool down to a drinkable temperature. I didn’t do this one day and the coffee was still burning hot well into the afternoon. Also the lid fully seals and locks so spills are kept to a minimum. Worth the investment, especially as we move into colder weather. They also make a food jar which I also have to keep soup and stews warm. I heat up my soup in the morning and it’s still piping hot when I sit down to eat at lunch. This brand is no joke. 

Dagne Dover Backpack I hate company branded attire. Even though I like my company, I don’t want to be a walking ad for them. I had been on the hunt for a good work/multifunctional backpack to replace my company bag because I hated that my company provided backpack had the logo on it and also that it had a flap top which I find ridiculously annoying. I came across Dagne Dover and finally invested in their large Dakota backpack (I bought the color Siren), and it’s amazing. The thoughtfulness of all the pocket placements internally, the minimalist design, and the comfort of this bag all make it well worth the price. 

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PC: Tiffany Wong in Girona Spain! The real fall favorite – travel

 

Vacation Fitness

Although my routine at home is pretty strict, when I go on vacation, I allow myself to go. On. vacation. I don’t work out. I don’t focus at all on my diet. I drink more alcohol. and I don’t sleep as much. 

However, despite all this, I almost always lose weight on vacation. Not a lot – but I notice the slight change in how my clothes fit. My body feels better, I’m usually less bloated, and have more energy. 

Why? Sounds fake right? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to a couple things that I always do on vacation that I have now been trying to incorporate into my normal life as much as possible. 

  1. Constant movement. Although I don’t do any formal workouts, I do a lot of walking. Like minimum 6 miles, all the way up to fifteen miles of walking sometimes. Additionally, I almost never spend more than two hours at a time seated. I walk after all my meals and start the morning off walking. This movement is energizing for my body but the low-stress nature of a huge amount of walking also allows my body to digest and function properly rather than struggling through a contorted seated position most of the day. 
  2. Real Food Only. I eat out a lot on vacation. Nearly every single one of my meals is eaten out rather than homecooked. And it’s not all healthy either. On this most recent trip, breakfast usually consists of a chocolate croissant and dinners were filled to the brim with meat, potatoes, and sangria, only to be washed down by churros or gelato afterward. The important thing to note is that all of this food was freshly made. I bought none of it pre-packaged. This means, even though I was eating chocolate pastries like they were going out of style, I bought them from the bakery which means my intake of chemicals and preservatives was minimal. Almost no prepackaged foods were consumed during vacation which really decreased bloating and improved my energy despite the fact that not all the restaurant food was healthy or even close to it. 
  3. Stress Management. When I go on vacation – I really go. I don’t look at my emails. I allow myself to completely detach from maintaining my routine and productivity. The only focus is the hour by hour decisions while in transit. This usually means my skin clears up and I’m able to be calmer for longer. I’ve allowed myself to abandon my normal decisions and worries and focus on something completely different. And since I usually am a low maintenance traveler, there are lots of little decisions and problems to figure out on a trip. For example, on this trip, our power blew out in the airbnb in Lisbon. Something as simple as finding the breaker box and successfully resetting the power was a problem I don’t encounter in daily life and even though it’s a tiny success, the feeling of accomplishment for figuring out something that was actually crucial to our stay was more rewarding than the problems I’d been facing at home lately. 
  4. Back Sleeping. One of the airbnb’s we stayed at, I stayed on the pull out couch and it was firm. I ended up falling asleep on my back and when I woke up the next morning, I felt incredible. I usually sleep on my side with my shoulders all scrunched together, but accidentally falling asleep on my back made me realize how important sleep position can be to the rest of your day. If you fall asleep on your back, your shoulders pull away from your chest and your spine can usually stay in alignment. I realize back sleeping isn’t for everyone, but I’ve been trying to fall asleep that way more and more in an effort to preserve that amazing posture I felt after that first night. 

This can be hard to incorporate when at home in the routine of it all, but there are little things I try to do. I walk wherever I can. I really utilize my standing desk, especially after lunch. I try and home cook as much as possible and don’t purchase pre-packaged foods. I compartmentalize my stress and look for more rewarding problems to solve throughout the day.

I realize most of these things sound super tiny. And doing any one of them, or all of them,  won’t make you a super fit/super healthy person. But that doesn’t have to be the goal. The goal can just be to feel good on a daily basis. It can be to incorporate a little bit of vacation living into the mundane of the everyday. 

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Place: Barcelona Park Guell; Photo Cred: The effervescent Ryenne Glover

 

Why I Don’t Hate My Body

I’ve been privileged in the fact that I have never truly hated my body. Sure I’ve had bad days where I harp on my supposed physical flaws more than normal, but for the vast majority of my life (yes, even including puberty) I have maintained an above-average level of body confidence.

This can be attributed to a few things throughout my childhood, but perhaps the most important one was that I learned to not hate my body through example.

Growing up, my mom was the main female figure in my life. I have always thought my mom was tall, beautiful, and strong. And perhaps this can be attributed to a child’s reverence for their parent but here’s the thing – my mom has never, ever given me a reason to believe that she isn’t any of those things.

I can’t remember my mom ever saying she hated her own body – or even really expressing that much discontentment about it at all. Her body is her body and although she strives to take care of it, it doesn’t consume her life. She’s never acted ashamed of it and has appeared to embrace any scars or imperfections that it endured.

Hold on for a second and think about that. I was living in my mom’s house for eighteen years and in all of that time, I cannot think of ONE time where my mom seemed to be depressed about her body. Not ONE time where her insecurity seemed to get the better of her. Not ONE time where she tried to hide her body out of shame. That was a powerful message for me.

Furthermore, her attitude towards caring for her body was always rooted in feeling rather than aesthetics. My mom loves to run. And growing up, I remember her always coming back from a run saying something like “that felt good” or “I feel so much better now”. It was never about losing weight or shaping her body to fit some sort of ideal. She ran because it FELT good and she enjoyed it. Simple as that. This is HUGE to the way I approach fitness nowadays. The goal for me is never really to look a certain way, it’s to feel a certain way, and the way I look is merely a by-product of that feeling. This makes my fitness habit not only more sustainable, but it makes me look at my body positively no matter what it looks like on a given day, because I learned that the act of taking care of it is what actually improves my mood – not the mirror.

When it came to diet, my family always ate relatively healthy, but my mom has a huge sweet tooth. And if she ate a whole bunch of chocolate in one sitting – she never expressed any real guilt over it, she would enjoy the chocolate and move on with her life. This may seem small, but I realized that I, too, don’t have to feel guilty for enjoying sweets or anything supposedly ‘bad’ for me. I just enjoy it and move on.

Because my mom has always taken such good care of her body – she’s never been limited. When I was little she would be able to wrestle and do tickle fights with me and my sister. She was able to wipe the floor with us in basketball (this one is probably still true), and she could walk or hike for miles if a trip demanded it. Even now, she’s still able to participate in any and all activities our family encounters. Her body never limits her because she looks after it.

My mom is over fifty years old now (I hope she doesn’t kill me for exposing that) and she could still pass for being over a decade younger. She doesn’t work out like a maniac, doesn’t do any crazy diets, she’s had two kids, but she’s still able to be active and participate in pretty much anything that comes her way. So that’s the ideal I learned to strive towards. I don’t ever need to look a certain way, but should strive to feel a certain way and by doing so, I don’t ever have to limit myself in the process.

My mom’s birthday is this week and there is so much to thank her for, but a blog post is merely a blog post so I wanted to focus on something that she probably didn’t even realize she did for me, but that has made a huge impact on my self-confidence. Body image is something that so many women and men struggle with every day and I’m lucky enough to have a mom that protected me from most of the insecurity the media tells me I’m supposed to have.

Happy early birthday mom! You’re killing it.

 

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PC for the first photo: Kiki Moussetis; PC for this photo: Dad. Both photos taken in Greece

 

 

I’m Selfish

I’m selfish. That’s not nice but it’s true. I believe we’re all selfish at certain points, though few of us care to admit it. I’m not always selfish, but lately, I have been feeling it more and more often.

Lately, all I want to do is what I want to do, when and how I want to do it, and I don’t really care about what other people want – and what’s worse is that I don’t want to care about what others want. 

In fact, I don’t even want to know. Knowing what someone wants from you is a burden. Because with this knowledge comes a choice with consequences. You can choose to give them what they want or you can choose not to. But if you never knew in the first place, you can make your decision without the burden of knowing you may, in fact, have been acting completely selfishly. 

Once you have knowledge of others’ expectations, you truly have a dilemma. Because ignorance granted you immunity. Not total immunity, but some. No matter how selfish the decision, you could always claim a lack of knowledge if accosted after the fact. But once the awareness is realized – you must own your selfishness if you choose to act in a way that disregards others. It’s the choice that hurts others. It’s the fact that you knew something would hurt them and still chose that route anyway. Isolated selfishness can be completely benign, many selfish choices have absolutely no impact on others, but if not, they can cause immeasurable pain. 

However, I refuse to believe that being selfish is inherently sinful. Being too selfless can be detrimental to your health, and draining to your soul. Pursuing the actions and things that bring solely you happiness can be incredibly freeing. If you constantly tie your pursuits to others than how will you ever know what you can truly handle, what your true taste for life is? Prioritizing your own wellbeing and pleasure should not be looked at as a flaw. Bettering yourself is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself, especially since that path often leads to more selfless behavior than if it hadn’t been indulged at all. 

My current feelings are a little bit of both. I have made some isolated selfish choices that have affected no one but myself, but I have also made some knowingly causing pain for others. It’s not a path I will be on forever, but right now I really feel like looking after myself is best for where I am right now – and that is sometimes necessary. 

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PC: Kiki Moussetis

Making or Breaking Your Habits

I’ve been talking a lot about productivity lately, and I’ve mentioned how important my own habits are to my goals and routines. I get comments on those posts like, ‘How do you (workout, practice language, cook, write) every day? It seems like a lot so how do you find the motivation to do it?’ The answer to those questions is simple – those activities are simply habits so my brain and body require less willpower to do those activities. 

The question people really should be asking is ‘How did you form the habit to do ‘x’ in the first place?’ because that’s the hard part. Once something is a habit, it’s not as difficult anymore, portions of it become automatic, the feeling is so ingrained, it doesn’t take as much effort. 

But forming a new habit? It requires a lot of effort. The concept of inertia fits perfectly here. Inertia is defined as matter’s tendency to stay at rest if already at rest, or alternatively, to stay in motion, if already in motion. 

The habit of working out is the best example. Before you are in the habit of working out, it takes a huge amount of willpower, effort, and motivation to make yourself go to the gym – your body wants to stay at rest. But once it becomes a habit – your body is in motion – and it wants to continue that way so it becomes easier. 

So how do you do this? How do you form a new habit? I’ll use my own decision to seriously commit to practicing language without the rigor of a classroom to turn to since graduating university. 

First you have to answer the ‘why?’. Why is forming a new habit important to you? Is it to improve your health? Is it to learn a new skill? How will it better your life? I chose to start my personal language journey with Greek. It was specifically important to me to improve my speaking skills in order to converse with my family more easily. That goal kept me going and expanded my language practice to my others of Mandarin and Spanish. 

Next, you gotta have a plan right? What we be the actual habits you practice to achieve the goal of starting in the first place? For my goal this meant practicing with Duolingo and flashcards that I made, every single day, as well as having a weekly lesson with a paid tutor (putting some money on the line helps any goal), and outlining my goal to my dad who makes a concerted effort to speak in Greek with me even though English would be far easier for the both of us. 

Lastly, find something to hold on to when it gets tough – because it will get tough, especially when you’re first starting. For me, I reflect after every tutoring session on how accomplished I feel and I hold onto that feeling. Every time I ever even consider skipping a day of practice or skipping a tutoring session, I remember how good I feel afterward and that’s enough to get me to push through.  

Like everything worthwhile, habits are hard to form, and in the early stages, they are also easy to break. But if you can find that thing to keep you going, habits also have the double edge of being difficult to break once they’re ingrained within you.

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New York Public Library – taking a quick two day break from my habits 🙂 

Hello? Yes it’s the High Standard Police

I wrote this post a couple weeks back about how much I get done in a day. I got quite a few responses on and offline showing interest and/or amazement at my strict productivity routines. 

These routines come at a cost though. Yes, I get pretty much every single thing I want to get done – done. But it requires a huge amount of planning, little room for error, and almost zero room for true spontaneity. 

Consider for a moment what your life could look like if you implemented my routines. Maybe you’d feel productive, motivated, fit, busy. Now imagine what it must be like to live with me. 

Structured, strict, intense. 

When I was younger, believe it or not,  I was even more uptight, so my sister bore the brunt of my unyielding need for routine. For example, I needed to be half-hour early to school (elementary school) – don’t ask why, there was no good reason – and if my sister put this arrival time in jeopardy, I lost my mind. I started screaming, crying, yelling at her to hurry up. 

I have since mellowed out in my responses on the surface to unpredictability, but it still causes a sense of panic internally all the same. 

My routines also require a huge amount of discipline. It’s not easy to make myself workout, study, work, prepare, and plan every single day. I hold myself to a pretty high standard. I basically want to be good at everything – and this pressure on myself is ever-present. 

If I happen to be in a relationship, I treat it the same as my other endeavors – I prioritize it, make time for it, and work on it. But I also end up holding my partners to the same standards I hold myself, and when my expectations aren’t met, disappointment is inevitable. 

Consequently, I always feel caught. I know putting my expectations on others is unfair, and a surefire way to experience disappointment more often than satisfaction, but I also feel like I deserve someone who also holds themselves to high standards. I feel like if the other person doesn’t want to hold themselves to a similar bar then the relationship is doomed to fail anyway, because I will always be pushing forward on myself, on the relationship, on everything –  no matter what. 

I haven’t really figured out how to feel about this part of myself yet. I know that holding myself to high standards is one of the things I like best about myself, but it might be hindering my relationships with others and causing unnecessary frustration. 

For now, I’m not planning on backing off – I do have a lot of shit to do – but I do want to spend some time learning about the areas where I am willing to compromise because ultimately, sweating the small stuff won’t get me anywhere.

Why None of Your Relationships Are Ever Easy

Someone once told me that people can be like seasons. They come, they serve their purpose in the big picture of your life, and then they go. For a while, that sentiment was comforting to me as I grew apart from friends or went through breakups, but I’ve realized it’s just not true. 

First of all, seasons come, go, and then they come back again. Seasons represent a cycle. Things are born, they thrive, they decay, and then they die. But they are born again in the next cycle. The cycle is certain, it is measured, it is reliable. People are none of those things.

Seasons also remain unaffected by any amount of labor or feeling invoked as a response to them. Loving summer ardently will do no more to extend it’s time with us, than despising winter would to shorten its time frosting the ground. 

People respond. People cling to the things they love and shuck away the things they hate with surprising fervor. People are willing to work to have more love and less hate and they feel their work makes a difference on others. 

Relationships are work. There is some chemistry involved, some chance – but mostly work. You work to stay in touch, you work to talk, you work to do things together. Maybe you don’t notice this work at first because you have so much fun with them. They live close by, they understand you! But then one of you moves away, or gets a different job, or meets a new partner – then you’ve put stress on it. Tell me it isn’t work now. 

When a relationship fades to black it’s not a matter of irreconcilable differences or distance – it’s a lack of work. One party refuses to work as hard as the other to nourish the relationship. One party decides to be mean or lazy or to simply ignore the work at hand. A relationship is a more fragile creature than any of us care to admit. It can only survive for so long as a one-sided endeavor. 

Sometimes both parties say we should not be as close – we will work less on each other. And that’s ok. But if you’ve ever let a relationship go without that conversation, then don’t kid yourself, you just weren’t willing to work for it. Communication and connection are dead. 

And if you’re on the other side – it hurts. To go from something close and meaningful to nothing at all feels desolate, and what’s worse, unnecessary. Someone has chosen to stop talking to you, to stop texting you things that remind you of them, to stop making an effort to see you. And if you hadn’t chosen that same path, then you always wonder what you could’ve possibly done to make them choose that. 

The unfortunate thing is – most of us don’t realize we make this choice. Excuses are rampant as disguises for it – “it’s been crazy at work” “what time zone are you in again?” when in reality we just haven’t put much thought or planning into the relationship anymore, and we probably never will again. 

Sometimes, people are like seasons, sometimes they come back. But most times, once they’re gone, they’re gone forever – so don’t let the good ones go. 

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PC: Grace Maragretha

 

How I Plan My Life

I get a lot done in a day – I workout, I practice language, I read, I write, I do a full work day, I spend time catching up with friends and family,, I drink three liters of water, I have a religious skincare routine, and usually am still getting about 7 hours of sleep per night. 

Over the course of a week, I fit in even more – work on my blog, working on my new business, progress on my long term goals, social events, running errands, meal prepping/cooking, cleaning, and laundry. 

I don’t list out all of these things to brag, I list them out to provide context as to what the texture of my day to day and week to week end up looking like. Because there would be no way for me to get all of this done if my real talent weren’t time management. 

First of all, I’ve never been a procrastinator – I was always that kid who did homework as soon as it was assigned. I have been an obsessive planner and organizer all my life.

So to be fair, although I’ve never had to fight an uphill battle against my nature to get things done, there are a few extra things I’ve learned along the way that almost anyone can apply to try and get more done in a day. 

  1. The Lists – I keep many different lists because it allows me to get all my tasks and thoughts out of my head and then I’m never in danger of forgetting anything. The most common lists I keep are as follows – 
    1. The Daily To-Do List – I make this every night before bed and doing it every night at that time allows my mind freedom to sleep without worrying I will forget something by morning. This list includes mundane things, work things, as well as don’t-forget-this things. 
    2. The Planner – I keep a planner to allow me to look ahead on a monthly and weekly basis. The Daily List is always built from the planner. 
    3. Miscellaneous – I also keep other lists on my phone for wish list items, books I want to read, and recommendations I receive. It allows me to keep it all in one place, refer to them when I need it and once again – not forget anything!I
  2. Productive Distraction – If I’m feeling a bit distracted at work, or my mind needs a break from a task. I will switch to working on one of my personal projects for 15 or twenty minutes. Rather than scrolling through social media or distracting my coworkers by chatting them up, I will work on my blog, work on some writing, or follow up on things for my external projects during this mini-break. When I return to my day job tasks, I am more efficient, but I also fit in some of my own goals in the process.  Even this post was written during a couple of those little spurts. 
  3. Prioritize your Time – This is a more advanced build off of the to do list item. Usually there are things that are more important to get done in a day. You have deadlines, meetings or other commitments that are more fixed as opposed to other work. I tend to block off specific times to get these done. Meetings are easy – block off the meeting time, plus whatever time you need to prep. If you have a deliverable due, block off a relative time block for the five days preceding to work on it and make sure it’s good to go. You get the idea. Certain things in life deserve more attention and that’s important to know and plan for. USE YOUR CALENDAR to your advantage!
  4. Habits – The reason I’m able to work out, read, write, drink water, study language, and take care of my skin every single day is because those things are all habits for me at this point. If you make the things that are super important to you a habit, then you start breaking down barriers to doing them all the time. Your body will want to work out, your mind will want to spend some time on writing, etc because, without it, your day will feel strange. 
  5. Get Up Early – I know, I know, I’m obnoxious. The reason I add this in though is because usually mornings are the only guaranteed uninterrupted time we can get in a day. I’m up by about 5:15 every morning during the week and usually by 8am on weekends. A vast majority of the things I listed above are done between this time and when I go to work because I don’t have to answer to anyone else at this hour. Evenings may be easier on your sleep schedule but for me they are harder to stick to. Evenings get consumed with social events or reacting to things that happened throughout the day, and the things we wanted to do before fall by the wayside. 

At the end of the day though, you do YOU.  I cannot stress this enough. I have a different brain and predisposition that you do. So what works for me may not work for you. Maybe you already think you’re getting everything you need done. Maybe you’re more productive at nights or on weekends, or your goals are way different. Do some of your own research, there are tons of productivity tips out there, and try some out. Maybe blocking social media on timers helps you. Maybe working out after 10pm is easier for you rather than working out at 5:15am like me. As long as you’re getting done what YOU want to get done, then you’re on the right track and you don’t need my tips or anyone else’s.

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My typical weekday breakfast.