What you should stop stressing about right now: #6 What other people think about you.

Sibling rivalry taught me how to worry about what other people think.  I am the oldest of four. Two younger sisters, and a brother.  I’m going to preface this by saying that I am, by far, the most sensitive of the bunch, and most likely to over-read into other people’s actions and reaction.  Coming up, I thought my parents had a favorite.  And it wasn’t me.

By birth I am a strong Leo. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Leo is the fifth astrological sign of the Zodiac, and ruled by the sun.  It is the only astrological sign ruled by a star, in the center of our solar system no less.  Thus, it is by no surprise that Leo’s personality traits are often defined as such:

“…they love being center stage. Making an impression is Job One for Leos….these folks never shy away from the limelight.” —Astrology.com

“…driven by the desire to be loved and admired, Leos have an air of royalty about them. They love to be in the limelight…” —GaneshSpeaks.com

“…are driven by a desire to be loved for what [they] bring to others…Many Leos are attracted to the theater, the performing arts and public relations…[they] truly understand the importance of putting on a good presentation.” —HuffingtonPost.com

So imagine now, as a child who sought the adoration of others, I began to concern myself with who got better grades, who had the most stellar achievements, who had the best PSAT score, who went to the better college… all so that I could seek the approval of my parents.  Of course I couldn’t out-achieve my younger siblings and I felt inferior. I felt that my parents focused on their favorite because they out-achieved me. Poor, Talia. I thought.

Of course it is natural for a youth to seek these things, but as an adult, it’s who has the nice apartment, the nice car, the best job, the most money… and who has them first.  As the oldest, it’s only natural that I should have them first, right? Thus, I’d be worthy to be among them; so that my accomplishments and achievements are discussed a length; so I am the superstar adult-child. I have concerned myself at great lengths about what they thought, and making sure that I’ve impressed them. 

I sound vain, don’t I?  But that is what approval seeking is… it’s vanity.

Now what have I done? I’ve followed a certain path only for approval, and failed miserably at it. I’ve wasted precious energy trying to be something of value to other people.

Over the last few months I’ve been working to embark on a journey for myself. I’ve decided to shed any approval seeking  ways and begin down the road less traveled. I’m going to make unpopular choices, because when they make sense for me.  I’m starting my own business (and hopefully a non-profits) and whatever else I want to do even if I don’t meet some superficial standard I set to be good enough for my family.

When I pursue my ambitions wholeheartedly, I will find value in myself.   I am a Leo after all.


How Stress Affects the Body

So I recently saw this awesome infographic on the Secrets of the Fed website. I know the site can be a bit provocative, but you really cant argue about this image. Every time I see something about the negative consequences of stress, it reminds me to stay focused.  I’m minimalizing and slowing down for a reason.  I need a clean & calm home environment, a healthy body, and positive attitude. The only thing I can do is be prepared for stressful situations by fortifying  my mind, body and spirit, so I can handle the physical ramifications of stress.

See the infographic below:

Courtesy of SecretsOfTheFed.com  No copyright infringement intended

Courtesy of SecretsOfTheFed.com No copyright infringement intended

On a tangent here… I’ve been reading this book on holistic treatments for pet health. It’s called The Nature of Animal Healing by Martin Goldstein, DVM.  And Goldstein poses the question: why do some people and animals get sick and not others? He says that traditional medicine treats the specific illness, not the reasons why the person go sick in the first place. He suggests that illness happens not just because evil bacteria and viruses invade the body. It happens because the body is ill-equipped to deal with the evil bacteria and viruses that invade on a daily basis.

Following his reasoning, stressors weaken the body and make it susceptible to illness. Still, there will always be stressors.  I will always experience crazy drivers on the highway and annoying people who have to have their way RIGHT NOW. The only way I can deal with all of that is by strengthening my body with healthy foods, making my environment one that is supportive, and managing  my reactions to the stressors.

How to you avoid the physical consequences of stress?

Can You Stop Procrastinating?

I am the biggest procrastinator ever!  I keep saying “If I just did what I was supposed to do, I wouldn’t have any problems.”  I believe that is absolutely true.  We all know we should not be procrastinating, but why do we do it?  I have a theory as to why.

We expect too much of ourselves. How can we not,  with the way American life is structured today? Think about when you were in high school. Maybe not high school, but middle school, when your only responsibility was school. Maybe you played a sport on the weekends or afterschool, but what else did you have to do? Make your bed, clean the bathroom? And when you weren’t in school or doing simple chores, what were you doing? You were playing and enjoying life. You didn’t have to work to pay for school, or the roof over your head. Life was very manageable. Adulthood sucks in comparison.

Who says that adults are truly capable of managing the responsibility load that our culture expects of us?  I don’t believe it anymore. I don’t believe it for a second.  We work, go to school, pay bills, deal with creditors, utility companies and landlords. We cook, we clean, we take care of our children, significant others, and pets. Running our lives is like running a corporation. You are doing all the roles at once without any assistance. It becomes all work and no play.

But what is it that you want to do? Play. What does that mean to you? Basically the same thing it did when you were a child: spend time with friends, enjoy the fresh air, play music, read a good book, etc.  So why are the responsibilities of life so overbearing? Because we live in a culture of overconsumption. Our overconsumption makes us slaves to money. If we weren’t slaves to our money, we would have fewer responsibilities.

Think about this for a moment: if you owned 10 pieces of clothing, in total, how bad would laundry be? That’s one load to wash, one load to dry, and maybe 5 minutes to fold and put it away, at the most.  Would you really have to procrastinate doing laundry?  It would take so little of your time, so little energy, that I believe it would be a non-issue. I have to do 5 or 6 loads of laundry if I wait until I get down to my very last pair of socks.  No wonder the laundry piles up for weeks on end, and I’m in and out of the laundry room for a day and a half.

Don’t feel bad if you are a procrastinator. Most people are. And I would say it is because your life has become unmanageable– don’t take offence– I’m just saying you have too much on your plate. Forgive yourself.  You bit off more than you can chew, and you can’t put it back. You have to finish it all to clear that plate sometimes.  You have to work 2 jobs to pay the debt, or pay for school.

You can figure out ways to make life a bit more manageable. If you cut back on the stuff, you can cut back on your chores, or at least make them easier. Fewer clothes= less laundry. Fewer dishes= smaller dish pile and quicker clean-up. Smaller house= fewer rooms to clean. Fewer gadgets= less money owed. .

Well, what about procrastination? How does this help me with my thesis that I’ve now dragged out to a fourth semester? (I’m the guilty one here).

Tell yourself: I’m going to achieve one goal today. One solid goal that requires a bit of effort.  For me, that was turning in my substitute teacher application, and running all over town to prove to the public school system that I’m not a criminal. Yes, it was a pain and took a total of 5 hours, but it’s done now.

And after you achieve that goal, don’t feel guilty for spending the afternoon twiddling your thumbs while staring at the boob tube. I gave myself permission to watch Misfits and Glee without feeling like I should be doing something.

If you do that one thing, and complete one solid objective today,  you’ve accomplished something. You’ve taking a reasonable step towards a better life.

You aren’t going to stop procrastinating, ever. Perhaps, you can get your life simple enough that the type activities you procrastinate are virtually non-existent or minimized so that they aren’t so bad. For now, just do one thing at a time. Maybe that one thing will give you some momentum to accomplish another thing. Maybe not. Either way, it is okay.

Hope you are having a great week so far.


New Month, New Priorities

Photo Courtesy Kevin Rosseel, Washington, DC

Saturday, I took and passed (still waiting on the essay portion, though) the examination required to start substitute teaching in the fall. I don’t have to think about teaching certification until my scores come back (4-6 weeks).  I felt a huge mental burden was removed after finishing the test.  I almost wish I had taken the test back in February… With that priority out of the way, I can turn to focus on other matters.

Since I eliminated exercising for the month of June, I could do nothing but think about how I wasn’t exercising.  While I managed to get a couple of biking sessions in, they were by no means a focus or a priority.  I decided to take a slightly different approach to losing 10 pounds by my birthday (it’s August 9th). For July, I’m going to try biking to work to increase my “exercise” without dedicating an hour 5 days a week. I don’t work far from home; it’s just 1000 degrees outside and I always have a ton of stuff. I’m doing it anyway.

My new priorities are below. These are by no means in order of importance:

  1. Master’s Degree- ie lots of thesis writing and revising
  2. Lose 10 Pounds- more raw meals and increasing physical activity indirectly
  3. Finding Housing– Moving August 1, with the boyfriend  (who btw is an awesome music producer, hear it here)
  4. This blog, of course (I’ve been slacking, this post is late, sorry)
  5. My part-time work-study job (cuz I have to go to work to earn some $$)

So far, I’m feeling optimistic about this limited focus plan. I have given myself permission to not worry about things I’d be worried about otherwise. And I’m getting things done that I’ve been procrastinating forever. For instance, I didn’t feel like working on my thesis because the thoughts about the certification exam were bogging me down.  Now all I can do is think about how I’m going to make my thesis better.

I still wonder, however, if I need to streamline my priorities list even further.  Sometimes it still feels like I have too much on my plate. But I think the problem comes from the fact that I’m constantly thinking of new projects to work on.  More on this later… maybe Thursday 🙂

Have a great week!

Mastering the Art of Slow: Rush Hour Traffic Made Easy

A stressful ride on 826 can pretty much ruin my day.  In the fast lane we have people cruising at a comfortable 45 mph; and in any other lane, you’ll find Miami douche-bags racing at 100 mph on a Saturday in the afternoon. You could die if you aren’t paying attention. Not to be insensitive, but seems like someone dies everyday out there on a Miami highway. The drivers are reckless, drunk/high, and selfish. If you are anything like me, you curse, yell, scream and honk to cope with those idiots. That, however, is not productive or healthy. Here are 12 steps you can take (in any order really) to make your rush hour commute a tad easier:

Step 1: Acceptance. There is simply no way to get around the fact that your commute to work looks more like a mall parking lot two days before Christmas than a fast moving highway interstate.  Sorry, unless you get up and move to the middle nowhere, just accept the fact that it may take you 20 minutes to get two miles.

Step 2: Count Your Blessings. Remember, your friends in Idaho can’t go to the beach every New Years/Valentines/Memorial Day/Fourth of July/Labor Day/ Thanksgiving/Christmas and every birthday or promotion in between. You live in a place that is gorgeous all year round, especially in the winter months.  Just be glad about that.

Step 3: Be Courteous. I know it’s hard, but get out of the way of the jerk who’s been tailing you, even though all surrounding passing lanes are open. Just get out of his way. He may be evil in incarnate, but your blood pressure will thank you.  If someone wants to get over, let them. You never know what their situation is.  Your polite driving behavior may encourage others to pay it forward. Look at you creating happier roadways all over Miami!

Step 3: Re-Evaluate your Driving Skills. Maybe you’re the guy who cuts people off; maybe you chat on the phone and drive slow as molasses in the far left lane.  Maybe you poison the roadway with your cussing, screaming, honking and bad attitude. Maybe you’re just a little aggressive. We all do something, because if we didn’t, the roadways would be filled with kind,  patient drivers.  Figure out what you do and stop doing it!

Step 4: Drive Sober. This really should go without saying. But I’m going to say it anyway.  Besides being illegal, driving intoxicated makes you a danger to yourself and other people on the road.  It’s easier to avoid other reckless drivers if you have your wits about you.

Stop 6: Stop Texting and Driving. You should know by now this is worse than driving drunk.  FOUR TIMES WORSE. You should also stop talking on the phone too. A conversation in which you are emotionally involved will take your attention away from the road. That’s not safe either.

Step 7: Stop Tailgating. You may say “Whoa! That’s not me… I don’t do that!” Ah, think again.  Unless you leave at least one car’s distance for every 10 miles per hour you’re traveling, you’re tailgating.  It’s kind of hard to cut someone off if there is a huge space between you and the car in front of you.

Step 9: Figure out other, less traffic-y times to drive. I will never drive to Miami from Broward during rush hour.  That is inner-peace suicide. Don’t go out for simple errands, or drive between Miami-Dade and Broward during  rush hour, unless you absolutely have to.  There really is no point. Get an alternative work schedule if you can, something off the beaten path.  Embrace your inner slow and go out and about at an unusual time.

Step 10: Occupy Your Mind.  Listen to an audiobook while you drive.  You wont waste thoughts and energy on the idiot driver you encountered 20 minutes ago if you are listening to a good story.  You will start to enjoy your commutes. One hour of someone reading to you, doing all the different voices of the characters.  Wonderful! (Radio shows are also great, too.)

Step 11: Leave Early. You already know the story: douche bags on the road, too many cars, new construction, disabled vehicle or car accident.  Give yourself plenty of time to get where you are going.  If you’re lucky, you might get to your destination early. Then you’ll have an extra 20 minutes to listen to that audio book, buy a cup of coffee, or get your head in the right frame of mind for a positive, productive day at work.  Being early is a good thing.

Step 12: Move on.  Driving is just a part of life.  You could do everything right and your commute could still be horrible.  Let it go. Don’t rehash the story of the who old lady cut you off unless you can tell it without disdain or frustration.  Just be thankful that you made it to your destination safely.

If you have any tips you’d like to share that you use to help keep your commute carefree, please feel free to share them in the comments below. 🙂