So here I am in Fort Greene in Brooklyn and I am at the end of my apt lease. Again. I swear the time just speeds up year after year. Honestly, I wasn’t looking to move this time around but in weighing out the pros and cons most signs pointed to moving. I’ve had roommates for most of my duration in New York minus a year spent on the Upper East Side and it’s been such an adjustment. Because it’s not just having a roommate but having a roommate in a small New York apartment with a shared bathroom.
So I’ve never really put myself first. The first time I ever really truly put myself first was when I decided to move to New York. And let’s be real, I upset a lot of people. I was living with my cousin at the time and I had to break the lease. He was pissed at me. My friends and family didn’t understand why I had to move instead of staying in our comfortable Bay Area suburban bubble. They were kinda pissed with me. My best friend was pregnant and I didn’t stay until her baby was born. She was pissed at me.
Thing is, I’ve always lived my life according to other people’s validation, approval, and acceptance.
New York was the first time in my life that I stood for me. I was erect in my belief that this was not just what I truly longed and desired for but I know it was something that would catapult me into something bigger than the life I had led.
So. Here is is.. yes I feel the life that I led wasn’t big enough for me. Please don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying I was better than the life I had. I am saying that it no longer satiated me. I couldn’t quell the voices that were so loud and so clear in my head telling me to leave and do more. Should I have ignored them I really believe that I would have lived a fine life. I would’ve been complacent as I continued to mature and develop in character. I would’ve ignored the nagging in my own heart and mind. I would’ve traveled maybe once or twice a year. I probably would’ve met someone and settled down and moved to the South South Bay or out East and bought a house I responsibly could afford and had a beautiful family.
That’s not who I wanted to be or what I wanted in my life.
Again, I’m not saying it’s wrong or am I putting it down or think I’m better than. It just wasn’t for me at the time nor at the present moment. There is no judgment.
The last few years I have made such a concerted effort to be true to who I am. To at the end of the day know that I’ve done the best with what resources and tools I have.
Here’s the thing. That decision to put myself first genuinely catapulted an actionable behavior change in me. Since then I’ve been trying to hold true to who I am and what I want and need to light my soul on fire.
I always thought that to be loved and to heard and accepted I had to constantly make others happy. If I’m being honest, also parallel to that, I pushed away the people that made me a priority and took my own happiness and love in a high regard. Those happened to be most, if not all, of the important romantic loves of my life.
Anyways. Another time and place for that.
So I put others first. Ok, you need me to drive to whatever function so you can drink and be carefree or not put miles on your car? No problem. It’s my birthday? No worries, I got this. I’ll still drive. I’m a good drunk driver. Oh, the bill is short for a group of how ever many? I mean, I already covered my tab and an additional 20% but this poor server only makes minimum wage and has to deal with assholes while being on their feet all damn day. That would suck if they don’t get a good tip. I don’t mind hosting your baby shower, wedding shower, engagement/bridal shower, birthday, holiday party, whatever and put in the effort to decorate by doing things like cool diaper cakes I googled on YouTube because I know it’ll make you happy. And I want you to know that I truly want to celebrate this big momentous occasion in your life. Also, it’s the holidays I want to make things special. I like being surrounded by people I love. I should definitely plan a get together where we can all encourage and celebrate each other and just give thanks to our sisterhood. I’ll make sure to take it on and make it a tradition every year so everyone knows how special I think they are. I would love to have a regular get together I should probably host brunch every Sunday but not ask anyone to contribute by bringing food, helping cook or clean because it’s my idea and I don’t want to put any one off…..
I don’t want to sound like an asshole here. These were all choices I made. And I made them happily. I loved doing things for people. I loved knowing that I did that. I made you smile. I made you feel cherished. Now you know you’re special and I think you’re worth it. I see you. I love you. I wouldn’t take any of it back.
All I’m saying is that now I am learning to do for me. I’m choosing how to spend my time. I’m saying no to things that 1. Doesn’t feel right or 2. I don’t want to do.
Liberation. Freedom of choice. Empowerment of putting myself first.
Not everyone will be on board. I’m sure I will piss a lot of people off. That’s usually the case when your needs don’t align with others’ convenience. Hah. Thing is, I used to care. I find myself caring less about what others approve of these days and more about what serves me.
Funny thing about all of this? I’m liking myself more and more every day. There may be some casualties along the way. Oops. Not my intention! I just want you to know if you find yourself on that end is that I have no ill will or mal intentions. Im just finally putting myself first because honestly, if I don’t no one else will and it feels fucking good. So, I’m sorry you feel hurt but thank you for being a part of the process.
So I’m reading this amazing book “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist and it’s really got me thinking. I was drawn to it because lately I’ve been trying to practice and be in the present. It’s always been difficult for me to live in ‘the now’. I tend to live in the future because I’ve always operated from a get shit done mentality. However, when I’m sad or lonely I revert to nostalgia and my past.
I’m only a quarter through this book and holy shit I feel like a lot of it was written through me. Ok, maybe not the parts when she references being a mother and her kids and husband but damn.
Here’s the thing… there was some divine intervention that happened in February. I lost my job and was forced to slow down. Slowing down made sure the ice that we’ll call numbness melted. The ice was the shield of anything that got in the way of me operating at a gazillion miles an hour. With it melting it made me look at what was left underneath the water of the melted thick block of ice. It truly made me take inventory of where I was currently at. So where was I? Let me remind you. I was lost, scared, confused, lonely, sad, grateful, relieved, stressed. I was all those things and then some. My world felt pretty bleak and so so gray.
It’s now about to be September. I’ve felt even more emotions since then if you can believe it. But where I am now.. presently I’m in a place that feels new and true and challenging and beautiful and bright and authentic and right. This is where I need to be. I’m in a place of acceptance and love and openness and growth and curiosity. I’m digging in deep of the crevices of past hurt that I stifled for so long. I’m grieving. And in doing so I’m cultivating new ways of being. What used to serve me no longer serves me.
I liken it to the metaphor of a snake shedding its skin. I want to rid myself of all this old skin, these parasites (ideas, behaviors, habits) that don’t serve me. It’s a rebirth of sorts.
I’m really excited to get back to who I really am and who I want to be. I’m finally ready to start loving myself in all my perfect imperfections and I’m so grateful to be able to remake my life from the inside out and unfold all the goodness along the way.
I’ve had a pretty emotionally charged year and there is no sign of it ending anytime soon. I keep being reminded by all the powers that be (ie my coach, my therapist, my friends, the universe…) that I am exactly where I need to be.
Only in the last few weeks have I really felt the comfort in being present. Mind you, I’m still not completely 100% comfortable with ambiguity and not being “there” yet, wherever “there” is. However, I do feel like I am where I need to be. There are things I’m now consciously working on to alter my mindset and the toxic stories I’ve told myself over my lifetime that no longer serve me.
I am now an emotionally equipped adult with the aptitude, the insight, and the wherewithal to make sound moral and healthy choices. I have to tell myself that. I’m not dependent on these stories and beliefs that I learned to survive as a child. I want to be free of these harmful beliefs because I want to be the best version of me. I want more for myself. I know I can be better.
This is huge guys. I’m in a place where I am consciously aware and practicing daily how to negate bad thoughts and bring in positive ones. I’m learning how to trust myself, the process, and the universe.
When I started this year I decided my work was TRUST.
It’s so fitting. I’ve made peace with saying goodbye to friendships that no longer serve me. I had to trust in the fact that I lost my job (for political reasons) so that I could make space for something better. That space has allowed me to really look inside myself and start the real work. I’ve been ‘working’ for years on myself. But this shit I’m currently working on is deep. It’s digging through my soul’s crevices and dark corners to bring shit to light I’ve tried so hard to suppress and ignore.
Looks like you can’t really get over anything until you really get into it and fucking feel it. Huh. Imagine that.
When I become present I see the magnificence in it all and I feel more connected. Not just internally. When I say connected I mean connected to the world. To life. To everything that’s bigger than me and us.
I am exactly where I need to be.
With all that I am learning I’m also trying to prioritize myself. That means listening to what I really need. I’ve historically been the doer and the over-extender. The one that made other people feel special to show them the magnitude of how much i really love them. A part of me feels that in doing all these things I will get love in return.
The fact is. People will love me if they want to and it’s completely out of my control.
It’s been exhausting. I kept waiting for my turn while still over extending. It doesn’t usually come and that’s ok. Because frankly, this was my shit. People love me in the way they know how. And if I’m going to be honest I have a lot of love in my life. I choose to act in ways I thought I had to for love.
Looks like I have other choices.
I’m going to put my Self first. I want to give myself all the love I give out. I know that this will be uncomfortable for a lot of people. For example: when one decides that a friendship doesn’t serve them anymore people will have thoughts and feelings behind it. That’s ok. If these people with these sentiments love you they will respect your decision even if it changes dynamics and status quo. Ask me if you need more examples. I have them.
It’s tough to feel like I’ve disappointed others. I’m working through this whole ‘prioritizing myself’ thing and all the super charged feelings and reactions I have to things.
Just know that by being a better me I will be a better friend, better sister, better partner, better worker. Trust.
The last couple months, give or take, I’ve not been myself. Or rather I’ve not operated the way in which I’ve operated let’s say the last 8 ish or so years. I lost a job that I wasn’t happy at and although I’ve been sending out requests to the Universe to help me break away from the organization I didn’t expect it to happen at the time it did and the way in which it did.
Funny how that works.
You put out your desires and it always comes back. The Universe may not answer your requests in the way that you predicted but it certainly responds.
To be fair it’s not to say I wasn’t grateful it happened. To paint a picture I’ve got a metaphor. Those are always good to help visualize the situation.
Let’s say I was a pinata hanging off a tree in a pretty park. Getting fired was the last crack of the bat swung by the Universe that hit the pinata and now there lay all my life’s contents on the floor along with my cracked and broken pinata shell. What do I see you ask? Right here’s a reminder that I have a credit card bill coming up. Oh look, there’s a ‘go-get-’em-tiger’ well wishes card the Universe left me. Oh what’s that sharp ugly thing? Oh that’s my pride. And there, there are the dreams I have for my future career. And look, right here, I see my savings. Aww, there’s a picture of all the people that love me. Oh, here’s the shit I didn’t want to deal with but now how to face; fear. Somewhere in there is opportunity but it seems to be hidden underneath all these fun sized rainbow colored emotions.
Sensory overload and I didn’t know which to pick up and open first.
To further play on the metaphor I was being greedy and tried to open them all at once. As if one could stomach all that at once right?
So not right.
In turn what ended up happening was a magnificent sense of feeling overwhelmed and lost and frankly, sad.
I was navigating through the shock of being fired. The relief I no longer had to work for a boss I couldn’t respect and an organization I was checked out of. The gratitude directed to the Universe that it heard my plea. The confusion of not knowing what I wanted to do next but knowing I wanted to do it (whatever it was). The anxiety of no longer having that “stability” (i.e. healthcare benefits, monthly metro card, bi-weekly paycheck, unlimited PTO etc) and having to figure out logistics of living. The loneliness of not having my core supporters enveloping me in a big empathetic hug.
It’s been a tough couple of months. I spiraled. To be fair I also had bouts of good and motivation but it was really more of the I don’t need to shower it’s not like I have fun plans I am going to lay in bed and binge watch whatever I want while eating mass amount of Trader Joe’s chicken tacos with melted cheese on top and not think about how I have to let Huxley out to do his business at the minimum of 3x a day and run the risk of seeing my neighbors variety.
I tried to come out on top numerous times and to be honest I was getting pretty angry at myself. I was mad I felt some of these things when this was my clean break. Feeling lost and overwhelmed felt like I was lacking control. And that’s always been hard for me. The not having to control since most of my upbringing I was controled.
But I realize sometimes that simply a funk is a funk and a person may need to be funky.
It’s important to grieve. In this case I was grieving a job I took pride in and worked my ass off at. I was also grieving this career I made for myself over the course of 10 years. I was grieving a dream I envisioned and fulfilled in moving and living in New York. I was grieving for a part of me I was struggling to let go.
All the while procrastinating..
Procrastination is such a bitch. Seriously, it’s the worst.
Tell me why it’s so easy to procrastinate a dream, a goal, a desire? It shouldn’t be but alas here it was. Procrastination staring at me in the face and it was ugly and whispered very sinister things at me.
I had all these ideals that I couldn’t move forward unless I knew exactly what I was going to do career wise. I wanted to go from 0 to 60. It was just like me to turn my head to all the gray area.
I was feeling that if I wasn’t there (there being a insert job title here in this awesome new career at a fantastic non profit living a fulfilling meaningful life) immediately then I would be a failure.
Ok, unrealistic expectations much?
It’s a lot right? Yeah I put a lot of pressure on myself. And when I didn’t meet the pressures I was even harder on myself.
Cue back to I don’t need to shower it’s not like I have fun plans I am going to lay in bed and binge watch whatever I want while eating mass amount of Trader Joe’s chicken tacos with melted cheese on top and not think about how I have to let Huxley out to do his business at the minimum of 3x a day and run the risk of seeing my neighbors.
I feel like I’m at a turning point. Yay. I’m starting to feel more like myself. It’s a very welcomed feeling.
Here’s to uncovering the clues for beautiful opportunities!
It’s been a while. Which is really unfortunate given how much I love to write. I frequently think of updates I want to post about or topics I want to write on or pictures I want to share but the problem has been finding the time.
Time is an ever elusive mother fucker. Yup, it sure is.
I’m currently at a coffee shop on a Saturday evening trying to pump out as much work as I can before I leave for Puerto Rico tomorrow. And no joke you guys, Tony Bennet’s song ‘I left my Heart in San Francisco’ just came on in the background. I’m going to take this as a reminder to have gratitude and think about home and my people in Cali…
*Pause to reflect*
There are so many things.
In fact today was a day of All. The. Things.
We’re talking errands (ie laundry, returns, picking up toiletries, etc.] unpacking from my Illinois work trip, repacking for my Puerto Rico trip, submitting coaching forms and homework, catching up on all the real work I missed while on my business trip, finding time to play with Huxley while battling overwhelming guilt for being gone back and forth for long periods of time, catching up on personal life stuff like bills and taxes, and the like.
All. The. Things.
I had a conversation with my coworker while we were in Chi town about how New York has a way about it. It breaks you down mentally and physically. It has you grinding like you never had before. It has you wondering where the fuck the time went. But in spite of all of that it really has you loving it. There’s no other city like New York City, that is for fucking sure. I haven’t lived anywhere else besides the Bay to compare it to but I’ve spoken to so many people about this and it seems to be the overwhelming consensus.
I still don’t know how long I will live in New York. This July will mark 2 years. It’s speedily approaching. I have so many exciting changes in the works (more to come!) and so many things to look forward to I can’t help but think of what else I can accomplish here. Even though I don’t give myself credit I really have given myself some things to be proud of. It’s a hard thing to remember.
Wish I could give you more but just wanted to give a quick update. I’m alive and well and busy as fuck. But most importantly I am doing ok and I am grateful. 🙂
I have such a greater appreciation for teachers since volunteering in Tanzania. I have never felt like I’ve wanted to become a teacher but I respect and admire those that do and those that are. It’s a commendable job that often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.
A lot of the days I was left alone with the older ‘baby class’. Basically the 4 year olds who were more advanced. The other volunteer, Kelsey, would stay with Mama Frida in the ‘baby class’ of 3 year olds and a couple 2 year olds. And the 3rd volunteer, Claire, would be in the big kids class of 5-7 year olds with Madame Eva.The days when not as many kids showed up to school we would only split into 2 classes and Kelsey and I would tag team the ‘baby class’.
Below is myself, Mama Frida and Kelsey.
My first day in my own class was trying to say the least.The problem was the communication barrier and not having an aide help translate or help keep the kids quiet and focused. Quite honestly, the first time I taught alone I left the school day feeling so frustrated and defeated. My patience was tested and I felt like I failed so I was disappointed in myself.
I think the best advice I could give when volunteering in such a short period and when never having the experience before is to just allow yourself some forgiveness and patience. Cut yourself a break. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to save the world going into a program like this. There are time and financial constraints. What you can do is give what you can with compassion and love to the children. I had to remind myself when I became frustrated and felt hopeless that I had never done this before. That my purpose isn’t to change the educational system in Tanzania but to help provide support and to do what I can in the short amount of time I was there.I had to woosah and just roll with it. Kids are gonna be kids no matter where you are. I just needed to have fun with it and be patient!
Any time the classroom started to get crazy and I would feel their focus start slipping away I would break into song. The kids loved to sing. They know so many English and Swahili nursery songs. It was fun to watch them get excited and become involved again. Or I would bust out the camera. The kids loved getting their picture taken and seeing it after. It was too cute.
The other 2 volunteers and I taught them the hokey pokey when we were there. I forgot how long the song was and how much energy it required. It always left me winded. hah!
My lesson plans consisted of Math – numbers from 0-100, basic addition, problems that highlighted missing numbers etc; as well as English – going through the ABC’s, associating a word with each letter, shapes, colors, and body parts. Kelsey and I made posters for the classrooms as tools. I also used colored post its below to help re-emphasize colors.
It was fun to go around the room and point at articles of clothing the kids were wearing for colors. They would get so excited and start bum rushing me and yell “teacha teacha” and point to their undershirt or their sock or what have you. Drilling the color purple into them was easy because their uniforms were purple.
Sometimes I would take the kids outside to the painted mural on the side of the school so I could quiz them on animals and colors. Why there is a dinosaur with all the other animals I’m not quite sure.
When my patience was severely tested I would break out the construction paper and crayons I would bring to school with me. I would have the kids draw through the alphabet with animals and objects or draw simple shapes that I would first draw on the chalkboard. When that failed, just having them draw anything quietly worked for me. It was fun to see them so excited about the colors. I would hand out each construction paper and have them repeat the color of it to me. I would do the same with the crayons. It was exciting when they knew the colors on their own and would ask for a specific one.
It was even more adorable when they would show me their drawings proudly.
Sweet Jennifer below never smiled and was very quiet but was so so lovable.
One day the classroom I usually taught in was occupied by visitors. So we went to the church and I tried very unsuccessfully to teach them something. They were very hyper and excited to not be in the classroom. What happened instead was we sang a lot of songs, drew on construction paper, and when a couple of the boys ran around screaming through the pews of the church I conceded to what clearly was going to be a play day and I took them outside to do just that. I was told later that they could hear us in the other classrooms. Oops!
I wasn’t always left to my own devices with my own class. Thank goodness! It was always such a great reprieve to share the responsibility of teaching with Kelsey or with Mama Frida. Kids have soo much energy.
Look at all these adorable faces!
On certain days we had workbooks that we give the children to practice their math. For the younger ones it can simply be tracing numbers for the older ones it was usually addition. They also had homework as well. One day I surprised Mama Frida and the kids with fresh new pencils. She was so grateful and full of thanks. Something so little can make such a huge difference and can go a long way in these schools. The kids were ecstatic! They always wanted the pencils with erasers intact and became really sad when they weren’t. This was huge for them.They broke out into a “Thank you teacher” very loudly and happily. It made my heart swell.
Porridge time also was a bit of a reprieve. It gave us a chance to catch our breathe and observe these beautiful children.
The stickers were reserved for really great days and a special treat for the kids. We would hand them out at the end of the day before we were picked up. The kids were so excited they got to choose which one they got.
Each day that passed I fell more and more in love with these beautiful children. It proved to be very difficult to say goodbye. I’ll share that experience with you all soon…