Redirecting Negative Thinking – 10 Questions to Challenge Your Inner Negative Nancy

FRIDAY, FRIDAY, FRIDAY!!! The fight of the year! Negative Nancy vs Logical Linda!!!

You’ve been there, we’ve all been there, faced with a situation that truly could go any which way yet our brain immediately imagines the worst and off we go into the depths of despair. Now, how often has this situation ended up in that worst case scenario you imagined then brooded on for hours, maybe even days? Very rarely.

I know I’m guilty of letting my internal Negative Nancy take the wheel while Logical Linda and Positive Paula are pushed to the backseat (sometimes even locked in the trunk, that Nancy can be wicked). These negative thought patterns usually happen when a supervisor asks to speak with me (always at a LATER time. . . why???) or my partner is constantly texting someone else while we’re together one afternoon (it HAS to be another woman, it simply can’t be that they’re coordinating something with their family), or even when someone just compliments my new hair color (do they REALLY like it black, did they HATE it brown, or what are they really after here?). My Negative Nancy’s current internal monologue: I won’t be able to find another job, I’m under-qualified for the jobs I really want, over-qualified for the ones that I can get just to pay my mortgage, I won’t be able to “sell” myself as a valuable employee, SWEET BABY MOSES I WILL BE UNEMPLOYED FOREVER!!!

It’s toxic. It’s pointless. It’s a little embarrassing to be honest.

Let’s not dwell on that though (you shush it, Nancy, I’m busy channeling the good vibes right now), let’s get to work changing our mindset so we can deal with these thoughts productively. The next time you find yourself spiraling into a negative thought pattern try asking yourself these 10 questions to redirect your inner Negative Nancy and let logic (maybe even positivity!) have a go at the wheel.

 

10 Questions to Challenge Your Inner Negative Nancy

1. What am I saying to myself?

How am I evaluating the current situation? What story am I telling myself? Am I seeing it from all sides?

2.What unhelpful behaviors am I engaging in?

Recognize the actual behaviors. Are you doubting yourself, expressing low self esteem, worrying, acting differently in your personal relationships as a result of these thoughts?

3. What is the evidence FOR my evaluation?

Be sure to consider if the evidence is an actual fact, or opinion? If you’re making this a written exercise draw out two columns, one for the FOR and one for the AGAINST. Only include facts if you can. If you’re like me, however, I feel better after writing EVERYTHING out so be sure if you write out opinions you clearly mark them as such. You might even end up with a nice visual of 10 opinions in this column to 2 facts. . .

4. What is the evidence AGAINST my evaluation?

Just like your “Evidence For” column, be sure differentiate between facts and opinions. Don’t favor your Negative Nancy just because she’s your loudest voice right now, try to give Logical Linda some room to talk.

5. How much do I believe my evaluation of the situation (0-100%)?

Spend some time and really think about this one and assign a hard number. If you think you’re getting fired, what is the exact percentage of that likelihood? How did you come up with it? Do you think your beau is being unfaithful? Is that 75% likely or 95% likely? What makes the 20 point difference? Write it out in a sentence. If writing out “I am 95% certain that my partner is cheating” seems like a ridiculous thing to do, perhaps you aren’t 95% certain that thought is valid.

World Blood Donor Day 2017

6. How is it helpful for me to think this way?

What is your current thought process gaining you? Where is it getting you? How is it helping the situation?

7. How else could I view the situation? What other perspectives are there?

Think of all the different ways that you could interpret what’s going on. The boss wants to talk this afternoon. . . Maybe you’re getting a raise, you’re getting fired, the company is merging, you’re being given the opportunity to move up, the boss just wants to check in with you, you’re being given more responsibilities, the boss is leaving the company, you’re being reprimanded for never making more coffee, you’re hard work is being acknowledged. . . The list could go on. Whatever your situation, I’m guessing your list could be infinitely creative as well. Think about it and let your mind wander to possibilities on all sides of the + / – scale.

8. What advice would I give to a friend in the same situation?

This one is my favorite. I am constantly giving people advice, even when they don’t ask for it. So if my best friend came to me and said she thought her husband was cheating because he was texting a lot, or spending time away, I know a MILLION potential reasons why that might be because I know them both and I know her husband’s a good guy and she’s likely having a moment of doubt for an underlying reason. Now, if I was doubting my partner, wouldn’t it be easy to do the same after thinking like that? It’s easy to see the positive paths in other peoples’ lives when ours can be cloudy. Practice getting outside of your own head for a minute then reflect that back on your own thoughts.

9. What are healthier thoughts/behaviors I can respond with?

Be honest. Call yourself out on the negative thought patterns and then “treat yo self” by replacing those with healthier thought patterns. If you’ve been acting out because of perceived slights against you, think about how you can rectify that and move on with healthier behaviors. If the situation is with someone you’re close with, talk to them and bring them in to the solution stage for helpful input if you’re comfortable with it.

10. A healthier evaluation of the situation is:

And now we bring it full circle. Considering the previous 9 questions, what is a healthier thought pattern to follow in this situation? What is the most probable reality of the situation and how best should you react to it? Even if the “most probably reality” is a perceived negative one, like a massive company-wide lay off that’s been looming for months, the best reaction is probably not to fret over it for weeks and lose focus at work. Think and respond with a healthy dose of logic and positivity – if you’re facing a potential lay off you can clean up your resume, keep up the good work on the clock (having those references is important!), save up some money, and/or consider possible new career moves. Don’t just spend your time worrying, drinking, showing up late to work, neglecting to prepare for the worst case scenario – that will bite you in the butt.

Asking yourself these 10 questions when under the duress of a stressful situation can seem like a big ask, but if you practice and have patience with yourself you’ll find it gets easier and you can eventually learn to replace your instinctively negative thought patterns with more constructive ones. I’m not saying Positive Paula is going to take over and make you some giant ball of sunshine or anything, I’m just saying that training yourself to take the time to reflect is an invaluable skill that will save your (and probably your loved ones’) sanity!

 

*The infographic has my new (and not even remotely developed) website listed instead of this one. Jessiedoeslife will move into a more personal blog and Offbeat Endeavors will be my new foray into coaching! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

The Midwife of Mental Health

In a very surreal moment, the kind you only see in movies or on TV, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my across-the-alley neighbor’s apartment telling her boyfriend to shut his mouth as I tried to soothe her during a panic attack. I had just hung up her phone from calling her mom and realized I should probably call her best friend back, I had got off the phone with her just a few moments ago and left her likely quite confused.

I have not yet once talked to this neighbor in the last 9 months that I have lived in my apartment. I’ve said maybe 12 words to her boyfriend on two separate occasions – he smokes out on their stairwell so I see him in passing. I was leaving to meet up with a friend at a set time and as I was dragging my stuff out of my place I noticed that my neighbors were arguing – very loudly – I just figured it was the 20-30 something typical couple’s fight of whatever and yeah, yelling’s ok to some people. It didn’t seem to be abusive and I couldn’t make out anything. As I came back out for a second round of my stuff to take to my car it had escalated, I could tell she was sobbing and he was shouting orders about standing up and breathing. He stormed out and I heard him on his phone talking about how she was having a panic attack and he couldn’t handle it. Then she was screaming after him to help her – then she screamed “somebody help me!”

So. . . fuck. . . I gotta do something. The boyfriend was being a dick. I can understand both sides of it because I’ve been on both sides. I’ve had bipolar breakdowns and flipped my shit on a partner before – something which at the time I could not control and was an absolutely horrendous mess. I suppose as a test of if I had learned the lesson life was trying to teach me, I have had the same out-lash inflicted on me. I’ve also had a panic attack and witnessed others try to help me with logic then watched their frustration escalate as their logic or “solution suggesting” failed to improve my condition – which can sometimes even further escalate their reaction to anger.

I believe this boyfriend reverted to the “suggest solutions” then “use logic” and once those two things didn’t work and he didn’t understand why – he flipped and started yelling.

Let’s get something clear. You DO NOT YELL OR ESCALATE when someone is having a panic attack.

If you know someone who has a history of panic attacks, it would be very kind of you to ask them what works FOR THEM when they are having an attack. If they prefer to be left alone – then you leave them alone. If they say they prefer to be left alone when they’re not in a panicked state then once the attack hits and they decide they want you by their side – you go be by their side.

I’ve learned these things (through research and experience) and as a completely unrelated bystander I was much better suited to help.

I knocked on their door – kind of terrified actually – and the boyfriend automatically started talking about whatever whatever at me but I went straight over to her, she was slumped over on the floor, leaning against the couch. I shushed him as he kept trying to explain her panic attack – I DID NOT need him to mansplain HER panic attack – I also didn’t need to escalate or assume anything so I just shushed him and focused on her.

I don’t really do touchy-feely stuff unless I’m in a relationship with someone. Even my BFF gets hugs but like, not all the time. This poor girl though, I just instinctively started rubbing the back shoulder blade area and I might have called her sweetie? I never use names like that. She was hyperventilating and asking to call her mom – she was on the phone with her best friend but hung up. I called her best friend back and explained who I was, and decided to call her mom. I assured her best friend that I wasn’t leaving until her mom arrived. Meanwhile the boyfriend was still talking at us – I don’t know their situation and I’m sure he meant to be helpful but no! I did ask her if she wanted water and when she said yes he went and got her ice water, so that was very nice.

I called her mom and explained who I was (this was so incredibly surreal – “Hi, I’m Jessie, your daughter’s neighbor. She’s having a panic attack. Can you come over? She’s asking for you. How far away do you live? Ok, I’ll wait here with her until you get here.”

It took her mom about 15 minutes to get there. In that time I called my neighbor’s best friend back and told her what was happening, I met the neighbors’ cats and learned that they all (the neighbors and the girl’s best friend) think my cat is very pretty (I’m assuming they see her in the window all the time), the boyfriend is bipolar (it was his excuse for not handling the attack well, I said NOPE! I’m bipolar too and that’s no excuse not to put your own shit on hold to help your partner), and I was remarkably composed for such a weird situation.

When I was rubbing her back I was gently saying that panic attacks, and mental health, are not things we can control and are not our fault. I might have given the boyfriend the stink eye some. But he chimed in with his excuses for not handling it well and how he’s had a panic attack once but then he researched it so he would never have one again. I calmly explained that – there is no logic in a panic attack, you as the partner are there to support the person and get them through it. Talk about solutions for the NEXT TIME when this one has passed.

A very very sweet moment where I felt oddly, proudly helpful – I asked her if she had a blanket or a pillow or some stuffed animal that really comforted her that she’d like to have. She didn’t really respond but her boyfriend hopped to and asked if she wanted her squishy pillow to which she perked up and he quickly went to their bedroom and got it for her. He poofed it up and helped put it under her head. It felt like he was finally calming down, listening, and maybe picking up on how this whole deescalation thing works.

As I recounted this story to my mom I blurted out that I felt like a “mental health midwife” and that’s exactly what it was. I filled a temporary need, pulling resources together, sharing information that will hopefully stick, and then left when the real players came in to really do the healing work.

I have not yet been back to my apartment today. I’m hopeful that they won’t be embarrassed or weirded out or anything when we run into each other next. This morning was not the time to tell them that it’s my own personal mission to end the stigma of mental health, but I did try to make them feel like I was a judgement-free zone.

And there you have it. A very bizarre Saturday indeed.

 

w-w-w-j-e-s-s-i-e-d-o-e-s-l-i-f-e-c-o-m

Also, just now researching it I feel like “psych doula” should be a thing – so I totally just registered that as a web domain and shall determine the feasibility of inventing it. I imagine it may be much like a life coach. A supplement to legitimate LMHC or psychiatric counseling. #bam

Ten Quick Things I Learned from Dr. Tererai Trent*

I just got back from the 2016 National Women’s Leadership Conference* and have returned with more laser-point focus than ever this year. I may have finally stepped far enough outside of my comfort zone to really connect with my tribe of awesome business women (and a couple men).

I still owe travel posts on my trip to DC but. . . this is still fresh at my fingertips so you’ll be reading it hot off the presses!

On the very first day of conference, very first thing in the morning, our speaker was “Oprah’s All-Time Favorite Guest”*, a writer, speaker, scholar, humanitarian, and – I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t mind me calling her this, a total bad ass.  I can’t write up enough to do her justice so read more about Dr. Tererai on her site.

I want to share with you the most poignant points that I took from her powerful talk. Of course I’m paraphrasing and she delivered it with a way better aura of owning it, but since you couldn’t be there, I hope you enjoy these snippets!  If you have a women’s / girl’s organization that utilizes speakers – she is sure to win them over and inspire them in an instant – definitely consider booking her.

Lessons from Dr. Tererai Trent*

Go for the great hunger

Dr. Tererai explained the two different hungers; the little hunger which is what you can resolve immediately like eating, and the great hunger which is more of a purpose like becoming educated. Don’t get lost in the little hungers, keep your focus on your bigger purpose!

bullshitaint-nobody-got-time-for-that

Don’t put up with the bullshit

Ok, this woman was a powerful and charismatic presence, with her accent from Zimbabwe, and the last thing I expected her to say was the word “bullshit” BUT, she did! She explained that where she grew up she could see the little boys being raised to be leaders while the little girls were being raised to be domesticated and she called that out for being exactly what it was, bullshit! She eventually grew to question that, and because of that courage she is now a humanitarian leader and scholar. You call out that bullshit and let it know you’re over it!

Sometimes it’s ok to say bullshit at a business women’s conference

I know this point sounds ridiculous and completely out of context for a general blog post but since it’s MY post and I’M writing it – let me explain.  I ran for a position on the national executive board of my organization in 2015 and I was at-odds the entire year with being completely myself vs. my “business lady-ish” self. The thing is, I swear sometimes. I use slang, I make laser sound effects, I dance – all the time, I have a unicorn phone case, I take stupid selfies, my mom says I have no “solemnity”, and again – I swear. When I was campaigning I would be myself around my campaign team – using “eff” and “ish” because Mary Jane (MJ) is over 70 and I just can’t say the real words around her. But to say “bullshit” on stage???  NO WAY! Let me be clear, Dr. Tererai only said the word twice and with complete deliberateness – and everyone laughed. And let me be clear, I’m not thinking I can go around swearing like a sailor – or that I would want to – I’m just saying, hey, she said bullshit and none of the women over 70 caught fire or walked out, huh, neat!

Say “no” to certain batons

Dr. Tererai told the story of how the “baton” of early, arranged, and abusive marriages in which girls were traded for cows had been handed down from her grandmother’s mother to her grandmother, on down to her mother, and then in turn to her.  This was another point where she used the word bullshit (AWESOME!) and told us that, NO, don’t accept that baton! Or if you have to accept it, make it a little different when you do end up having to pass it down. When you hand that baton down to your daughter, redefine it – make that marriage a chosen marriage, add in being able to get an education. Say NO to the arranged marriage baton in your life. Or if you’ve been stuck with a “bullshit baton”, do everything you can to pass on a better baton to your next generation.

Do not be afraid to fail

Dr. Tererai, who has received an actual Doctorate degree, written a book, built 11 schools in Zimbabwe, and has been the keynote speaker at several super important conferences (like mine!), said it took her EIGHT YEARS of failing her GED tests before she finally passed.  EIGHT YEARS.  If she gave up that first year – that third year – and you KNOW you’d be thinking about giving up after 5 years (I would!) – 5,000 kids in Zimbabwe would be without education right now. Because she stuck with it, undeterred from her failures, she made a big dent in her part of the world.

Tinogona

Tinogona, as Dr. Tererai explained it, means “it is achievable”. If it is something you can dream, it is something you can do. She came from a place of poverty, moved to the United States and continued to live in poverty while pursuing her degree, and through her determination she achieved her goal of higher education – and a whole lot more. It took a lot of work and a lot of time, but she made it happen. If you want to make this your mantra, it was pronounced something like teen-oh-gone-ah, at least that’s what I have in my notes. Double check with the internets.

bullshitaint-nobody-got-time-for-that-1

Leadership is action, not position

AMEN! I wrote this down in all caps and underlined it. I see a lot of people act entitled in certain ways just because they have a title. And I see a lot of people without titles being super bosses without the pay or recognition – and they could care less! Actions speak louder than words and a great leader doesn’t need the placard to inspire others.

Be grateful for what you have

At a point in Dr. Tererai’s higher education she was living in a trailer, working multiple jobs, going to school, and taking care of her kids all at the same time. She told the story of how her kids were getting cavities because the only food she could afford to buy them was processed and not real actual fruits and veggies, which were plentiful back in Rhodesia. One of her professors worked it out with a local grocer that they would leave a box of old fruits and veggies out for her by the door until 5, but at 5 it had to go into the dumpster. She would try to get to the dumpster every day after work by 5 but never made it there in time so she would end up digging out the box. But – she said to herself, “Who am I to complain? I’m getting an education, I have a trailer, these are free fruits and vegetables, I am in America. Who am I to complain?” So. . . think about that next time you’re sad you don’t have beer money until payday.

Do a little ritual with your dreams

If you have a dream, make a big deal out of recognizing it. I do new moon rituals every month. Dr. Tererai buried her dream in a can! She actually wrote a book about it, which my ma bought and Dr. Tererai signed while at the conference. Whatever your dream is, make it even more important with a ritual of some sort – make it your own.

 

and lastly, my favorite. . .

 

Your dreams will have greater meaning when they are tied to the betterment of your community

I don’t think I need to explain this one.

 

*Disclaimer: Absolutely no person, group, or association mentioned above endorses or is likely even aware of my mutterings – do not take this post as an endorsement.

The Flaw Finder

Learning While Adventuring

When I said that my trip was “eye-opening” in my previous post, I was referring to a few experiences, this one in particular.  Let me explain.

Things that I know about myself:  I can be pushy/bossy/stubborn/whatever you want to call it.  I can also be overly helpful when mayyyyybe someone didn’t even want to be helped.  These are character flaws that I have been distantly aware of.

After the corporate training in Baltimore was done for the day (two Fridays ago now), I went out to a local pub, on the suggestion of a friend, and sat at the bar. My plan was to just sit there and eat some food, drink some beer, and maybe, just maybe meet some friendly locals.  Shortly after arriving I met the “friendly local” sitting next to me, a bartender from another place off for the night, who seemed to be friends with the bartenders of this bar.  The two working bartenders, the “friendly local” off-duty bartender, and myself kept jumping into each other’s conversations so I scooted  to the seat next to the friendly local eventually and we ended up talking about his current relationship.

This is a thing I do.  I talk to people about their intimate details because that’s real, I hate small talk.  I ask questions and I love listening.  I love getting to know a person for more than their superficial representations.  Maybe I should be a therapist after all. . .

At first my new friend was just showing me photos and talking about how he and his “lady friend” had plans that night that she backed out of. Me being curious about things that are none of my business (stranger’s relationships), I asked more about how they met and what they like to do in the city.  After some more talking it turns out that the “lady friend” is actually married.  WHAT?  But. . . (it gets better) she got married while he was dating her and he only found out through (getting better. . . .) Facebook.  UMMMM. . . . WHAT?

This sounds like insanity, right? And maybe you’re thinking “C’mon Jessie, he’s just trying to play on your sympathy to try to get with you.” but I assure you that is not what happened here.

He goes on explaining to me the timeline of how all of the insanity went down (which apparently was over 2 years) and 5 minutes in I stop him so I can pull out my travel journal, rip a clean page out, and document this whole mess.  For the next 30 minutes I took notes, in chronological order, on paper, so that he could see – written down – just how ridiculous this all sounded.  “Unsolicited Advice Jessie” was in go mode and he didn’t seem to mind, in fact he’d point out where I could write in other shitty things that happened.

After that unsolicited advice exercise he ended up taking me around to a few other local bars where he knew the people and I met new friends. I took a lyft back to my hotel and he walked home – NO SHENANIGANS.  (ok, but even if there was shenanigans that would be totally fine because I’m my own person and you over there can just calm down)  It was a really fun night out in a strange city thanks to what I’m writing up as, an alright guy.

 

Flaw-Finding

In my venture to figure out what I bring to a relationship and what I want from my next partnership, I’ve been trying to uncover potential flaws of mine that I’m not readily aware of.  My theory behind “uncovering” these quirks is so that I can have an idea of where trouble may arise in a relationship that I can help control on my own part.  And I’m not necessarily talking about FLAWS, because that’s a strong word, maybe just habits that could be taken the wrong way in a relationship?

The day after completing the “why am I with this person?” exercise with my new Baltimore friend (read: complete stranger who knows nothing about me and my plethora of quirks) I realized I had done it again.  I just up and gave my opinion then proceeded to point out how it was right, to an ABSOLUTE STRANGER!  I am aware that my “unsolicited advice” and in turn, my bossiness can come across as rude, domineering, being on a “high horse”,  or simply annoying.  I know, I fully understand.  Where I’m convinced I’m being helpful, others may find me annoyingly bothersome (or, if I find the right person, endearingly misguided??).

 

What to do with your Findings

I’m currently single and still attached to the idea that I have the perfect partner in crime out there (perfect FOR ME! not actually PERFECT) so while I’ve been on the path to figuring myself out, I’ve been looking at what I find from the perspective of how it would work in a potential partnership as well.

In previous relationships I have been woefully ignorant of my own shortcomings and I have dated rather nice people who were either too nice to call me out, tolerated my sh*t, or were stifled by my bossiness and thus never brought these flaws to my attention.  OR, I was just running around with my fingers stuffed in my ears pretending I was perfect despite the shouts from the crowd stating the opposite.  Who knows?

My point is that once these potentially irksome habits come to light in my daily living, I take note of them.  Having a bipolar brain has made it difficult to really take stock of who I am, what I have to offer, where I can improve, and where my best qualities are.  It’s like there’s a constant static around what I truly want to get at.  From the ages of 13 to 29 I lived most of my life in the reactionary mode.  I was constantly reacting to situations rather than actively creating my own situations (or learning to view life differently).  Being successfully medicated for the last 3+ years has given me the space between my thoughts and my actions to step back and observe more, react less.  It’s fantastic.  I’m taking this new ability and using it to better myself, for myself, my friends, and whatever new relationships lay ahead.

I’m finding my potential flaws, assessing them, and figuring out where they fit into my best version of myself – one experience at a time. 

Biggest Lessons in Traveling Solo

Lesson One – Solo is not for me

This may sound like a cop out but the biggest lesson I learned during my travels is that I prefer not to travel solo.

**Let me preface this by saying that I’ve fluctuated between the independent and codependent behaviors since I was a kid.  It changes, I’m not entirely sure why, so I’ll go from venturing out into new groups/hobbies/activities on my own for a few months, then the pendulum swings back the other way and I refuse to go anywhere or do anything unless I know a friend will be there to hang out with the whole time (or an SO if I’ve got one at the time).  Sometimes I’m fine on my own, other times I could use a security blanket.  I hate admitting that security blanket bit, but that’s the truth.**

While on my adventure, I found that I appreciated the sites, the food, and the people well enough, but there was this deeper sense of wanting to share it with someone. You know when you’re with your best friend, or your significant other, and you naturally make inside jokes out of everything? I could feel that missing while I was exploring.  I would find things that I thought were funny or whenever I learned something entirely new and it was oddly clear that I didn’t have someone to turn around and share that with.

This is where I contemplated if my codependent behaviors were getting the best of me but after much internal arguing, I decided no.  I went on this trip solo, I enjoyed it solo, and I would take advantage of any other opportunity like this that came up – even without a friend or SO with me.  Although my preferences are to travel WITH, I will certainly jump at the chance to adventure even WITHOUT.

Side note, that movie Love Actually completely ruined me in terms of romantic expectations because damn-it-all if I don’t get a little sad every time I arrive at an airport ungreeted.  Curse you, adorably flawed British romantic Christmas movie.

 

Lesson Two – Make it Happen

The biggest lesson I learned once I returned and had time to process everything, is that you should never wait for things to happen, you need to MAKE them happen.

Now that I’m back, unpacked, and getting over this sinus infection, I’ve had time to think about my solo adventure and what I can take from it to improve my existence. Before this, I had never gone anywhere, on an adventure, by myself so this was a challenge I set myself to. This trip to DC magically presented itself to me by way of convenient corporate training in nearby Baltimore so I took full advantage of the serendipitous circumstances. I had been to DC once before, by way of train, and only got to explore it for a day and a half. If you’re familiar with DC you know that a day and a half is not nearly enough time to see even a third of what the city has to offer. When I learned that I had to go to corporate training and it was a short train ride from DC, I started planning.

Originally I was going to stay at a friend’s place the whole time (an ex from college that I’ve kept in touch with) but closer to the date (after I had booked my flights) he said that his work asked him to attend some conference during the weekend. That was fine, I’d just fine an Airbnb for the weekend and crash at his place the rest of the days. NOPE! He ghosted just a few days prior to my flight out! Someone I’m friends with on facebook and text every once in a while, just completely ghosted. I had hope that he’d still touch base closer to my travel dates so I only got the Airbnb for the weekend.

I was screwed.  Long story short, I grabbed another Airbnb reservation and that ended up being what was essentially a bed in the basement of a frat house.  YEAH.  AWFUL.  And I was sick with this sinus infection.  It was miserable but I was determined to roll with the punches.

I did most of what I wanted to do on this trip, some things were left out because my sinuses got the best of me, or because the activities were meant for more people (I was supposed to be hanging out with my friend and his girlfriend for the weekend), but overall I think I accomplished what I set out to.  I dined out ALL BY MYSELF.  I went to amazing museums and sites ALL BY MYSELF.  I tried to figure out public transit, but honestly, it got to the point where it was worth the $6-$20 lyft fare to not spend 45 minutes getting somewhere that typically takes 15-20 via car.  But, I took lyfts ALL BY MYSELF.  I caught more pokemon ALL BY MYSELF (I downloaded the app when I got my new phone and it’s fun, I really like renaming all my new little pets).  I flew on planes ALL BY MYSELF (I’m not a fan of flying, though I used to be).  Man, this list kind of makes me sound like an 8 year old.

Had I said to myself “You know, Jessie, you really should wait to take a trip when you can do it with someone else.” I wouldn’t have seen all of the super cool stuff that I did.  I wouldn’t have had the conversations with strangers that I did.  I wouldn’t have leapt so far outside of my comfort zone and learned that I landed safely.

 

Lesson Three – You do You

No matter what, you do what suits you best.  I went into this adventure hoping to be more like an amazing friend of mine – she’s been traveling all across Germany, mostly on her own – and I realized that ultimately, I’m going to adventure only like myself.  I can’t hold myself to the standards of experienced travelers, or adventurers who seem to have better fortune than me (you know, they don’t end up in frat house basements), or those travelers who also happen to be professional photographers.  I can only be Jessie.  Jessie the adventuring introvert.

Be true to yourself and what you want out of your own adventure.  If you want to go to a crazy exotic place and read a book against the beautiful background, do it.  If you want to go to London and party, do it.  If you want to go on cruises and show up wherever they take you, do it.  You own that adventuring.

Adventuring for the Introvert – My First Solo Trip

Whew!  I made it!  I am back in the swamp lands of Florida, just in time for tropical storm/tropical depression/hurricane Hermine, whatever she’s been upgraded-downgraded to now.

I won’t go into details in this post, I’m still exhausted, but I wanted to let y’all know that I survived my very first solo vacation!!!  I was in Baltimore for corporate training for 2 days, which I then took advantage of by hopping on over to Washington, D.C. for 5 days to explore.  I’ll be writing more soon once I rest up some more – I’m recovering from a lovely sinus infection that I got whilst running around in foreign allergens for a week.

Anyway, a little teaser. . . it was fun, exhausting, eye-opening, intimidating, heart-warming, clarifying, educational, challenging, memorable, and both too long and too short at the same time.

Hooray!  I did it!  Bucket list item, CHECKED!

adventuring

 

Swearwords as motivation

If you’ve read my blog in the last couple of weeks you may recall this post here:  It’s a Process – try, fail, succeed

In that post I shared a lovely graphic that I made in the hopes of inspiring you to embrace failure.

Well, after asking a representative at Canva if I could use swearwords in a non-defamatory way with their site to make my graphics, I got just the answer I was looking for: yes.

I bring to you, my motivation through swearwords version of that graphic.  This one should not be displayed on cubical walls.  But definitely text it to your bestie if they’re having a hard time at work.  They’ll appreciate it.

Copy of When you repeat the cycle of is sitting on the other side of fear. (1)

Leadership 1 – because we’re not even in the double digits yet

Becoming a Leader

Ok, so, I had planned to write out a lengthy blog post about how to blossom into the role of LEADER. . .

However, I feel like that’s doing a disservice to you, my 30-something strong readership.  Perhaps you’re already a leader and you got this ish ON LOCK, or you’re a timid newby on the job who wants to know a few tips before diving in, or you may just be reading this because WordPress auto-populated my post in their feed at just the right time.

If ANY of those above apply to you – I am here to help you with your leadership dreams!

I have a super simple “Beginner’s Guide” to leadership that I debated sharing with y’all because, well, I kind of like being successful and enabling all of the internet people out there to ALSO be successful could severely limit the likelihood that MY successfulness  will outshine others’ successfulness.  Alas, I am better than that and have decided to share with the world my top three tips for becoming a leader.  Watch out, Forbes, this here is a tell-all article!

jessie's (1)

 

1.  Do stuff

Yes, it’s that simple.  Do more stuff.  Do all of the stuff.  Volunteer to take on new projects.  Learn new interests on the internet.  Try a new hobby.  Join a soccer club.  Adopt a puppy.  Join Toastmasters.  Travel.

2.  Be the boss of stuff

Remember that stuff you just did?  Now, be the BOSS of it.  Ask to head the project you just volunteered for.  Start a meetup in your area for your new interest.  Teach someone about your new hobby.  Run the next soccer club practice.  Be the boss of that puppy and potty train it.  Join one of the committees of your Toastmasters club.  Create a travel itinerary for you and your friends/SO on the next trip.

3.  Do more stuff

Now you’ve done stuff, taken on the leadership role for all of that stuff, so guess what?  It’s time to do EVEN MORE STUFF!  This doesn’t mean keep up the same ol’, it means expand your horizons even further.  Sure you ran a practice at soccer club, but how about being the coach next season?  And you were the head of that one project at work, but what about another project that’s a little different?  If you started a meetup for your new interest, perhaps create an actual club out of it.  Oh, be sure to KEEP being the boss of the puppy – that’s not a “stuff” you just move on from – that’s a life commitment.  Step up your committee game at Toastmasters and be the VP of something (I’m keen on PR, personally).  Start blogging about your travels so that people outside of your circle can learn from your wisdom.

 

So there you have it.  My super top secret guide to becoming a leader.  Now don’t go telling everyone or anything.

 

PS – I create my graphics with Canva.  Remember my last blog post where I mentioned I don’t make them from scratch?  Well, Kate from Canva emailed me (twice!) to ask that I include a link to their site so that you can sign up too.  So, here you go, Kate!

PPS – I get nothing in return for linking to it.  Lest you think I’m a sellout, I am merely one who gives in to pressure easily and hates disappointing people.

PPPS – Those are NOT good qualities for a leader!  Do as I say, not as I do!

It’s a Process – try, fail, succeed

I made up another thing with words that I thought up.

When you repeat the cycle of is sitting on the other side of fear.

Word.

That’s all I got for tonight.  I’m trying to write about leadership – which is a lot harder than my stream of consciousness!

 

PS – I make all of my little “things” via Canva – it’s an awesome website with tons of free stuff to use.  They don’t pay me, I just don’t want y’all thinking I’m some graphic designer.  Plus, if you wanna make “stuff” like this – you totally can now!

The Expiration Date of Humans – YOLO

Doctor’s Orders

I’ve been sick with allergies for the past week which for the most part has made me useless – thus no blog and very little social activity.  I had a long overdue follow up appointment with my rhuematologist on Tuesday in which I received multiple sass downs (like 6 shades less than a smack down).  One for the lateness in my follow up appointment (I was in TWO car accidents, lady!), the fact that I still like going to the beach (I will only compromise my quality of life so much for something), perhaps maybe I told her that I decided to only take one pill a day because I didn’t entirely believe that I had lupus and she wasn’t too thrilled with that. . ., and that I didn’t wear my sun hat from my car to the medical building (really?? we’re gonna be sassy about that???).  After the glares, she went over the bloodwork with me and. . . The test results came back to be “most likely” negative for systemic lupus (the whole body) so I mostly likely have cutaneous lupus (skin only) FOR NOW.  Lupus is difficult to pin down and apparently can progress so I’ll be getting bloodwork done every 3 months.  I agreed to take the actually prescribed dosage of medication from now on.  I asked and yes, the medication is ok with pregnancy.  I just hate adding more pills to my already lengthy list of the ones I take for bipolar.

So yay!  Let’s add lupus to the mix of diagnoses!  I’ve been super careful with the allergy sickness though because the last time it progressed into a full on cold/flu I was knocked out for several days – stuck in bed.  I’ve been downing Emergen-C daily and resting.  Except!!!!

 

YOLO

On Wednesday three friends and I trekked out to the Weeki Wachee Springs for a 5 mile kayaking trip in crystal clear waters where we saw 11 manatees!  Three of them were BAYABYS!  My friend got a GoPro video as one swam by her, I took a screen shot (because apparently you’ve got to pay to post videos).  So check out this lil’ cutie baby manatee who was all of 3 feet long.  *Side note, lest you think I’m some kayaking badass, it was my very first time in a kayak and I fell out of my kayak, capsized it (filling it with water which is a huge pain), and ended up ramming my kayak into no less than 10 innocent kayakers who had the misfortune of being in my path when I had no control over where that path was headed.  It was a mess.

manatee

 

You do You

I had taken the Wednesday off of work, knowing that it was going to be a busy week, because you know what?  This year has been a crazy year for death and tragedy.  I’m not yet doing what I love for a living, I’m still searching for my partner in crime, and although I do have friends and hobbies that I find fulfilling I’m not quite at the YOLO level to where I feel like I’m “carpe diem-ing” enough.  Instead I’ve decided to focus on the mantra “You do you” because I have to live within the world of paying rent and trying to change what I can “within the system” little by little.  I realize life is super short and I’ve been taking big steps in (hopefully) the right directions to make it the one I want, I’m just putting a whole lot less of the stress-inducing pressure that I used to on myself.

 

Your Expiration Date

So if you came with “Use by [this date]” on your arm like a tub of your favorite guac, what would you be doing differently?  Would it be radical changes?  Or gradual?  Would that depend on the expiration date?  Consider this “food” for thought!