Lately I’ve been thinking…

About how to fail without being “a failure”

About how to feel like I’m winning without being “the winner”

About how to be the best person I can without being “the best”

About how to be alone without feeling like “I have to go it alone”

About how to be me without feeling as though I’m not good enough

 

All I can tell myself is…

 

Not every day will be a good day.

Some progress is better than no progress.

Just because I fail at one thing does not make me a failure at everything.

I don’t have to be as good as everyone else at anything; I just have to do the best I can.

Needing help and support doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with me.

 

I don’t have to be perfect…

 

 

Strength does not come from winning.

Your struggles develop your strengths.

When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender,

that is strength.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

 

SAD & Gratitude 11/5

20180906_104040.jpg
Yellowstone National Park, 9/2018

Welcome to another post 🙂

Today I wanted to talk about a new struggle I seem to be dealing with and some things I may be trying to combat that. As fall is in full swing and the days are growing shorter and shorter, I’ve noticed feeling a bit more gloomy than usual, especially on the cloudy, wet days. Seasonal depression is not something I’ve ever experienced before, until now it seems. If it’s sunny out, I have no problem, but if it’s overcast or precipitating at all, I’m immediately depressed, sometimes as soon as opening my eyes in the morning. I’ve also felt like doing a bunch of sitting around my apartment eating: specifically consuming deliciously unhealthy carb-rich things. Doing things around my apartment, exercising, and talking to people all help, but quiet time alone is also important to me, and it’s during that time the depression sets in again. I’m not completely sure what to do, as outside the traditional routes of medication, dawn simulators, vitamin D supplementation, and sitting in front of a light box, remedies really depend on the individual. I’m thinking of combating these feelings through some aromatherapy of sorts, meditation, continuing my weekly routine of working out 2-3 times, as well as practicing gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude, I’m needing to get back on track with this, so below are some things I’m grateful for!

#1: Heat!

Winter is my least favorite season of the year, and while the snow is beautiful to look at, I’m really thankful to have an apartment with adequate heating to stay warm.

#2: The ability to pursue my passion of lifting weights.

Well–I’m not sure weightlifting is a huge passion of mine yet, as the weightlifting program hasn’t yet begun at my gym, but I’m thankful to have all of the limbs required to lift weights.

#3: My Jeep

My car is 12 years old now: The warranty on it just expired and my dealership has started bugging me about getting into something new. I’d love to have a new car, but the new financial responsibility that comes with it: not so much. I’m thankful that my car has been so dependable throughout the 10 years I’ve had it; it’s gotten me through snowy winters, long summer drives, and rough terrain up in the mountains, all while still running well. I don’t know where I’d be without it!

#4: A new Church

I have a love/hate relationship with the church my family attended while they were here. The people know my family and I, and therefore worry when they don’t see me for a while, but that’s about the only tie I have to the place. Other than that I don’t really benefit from it. Recently I’ve started attending a different church that’s quite a bit less traditional, more open-minded and composed of much more welcoming people. I’ve only attended twice, but so far like the atmosphere, look forward to going, and don’t spend the entire service yawning (no joke, no matter how much sleep I get I always yawn throughout service at my original church). Over the past year I’ve attended different churches here and there, but never found one I felt like attending more than once, so I’m grateful to have a new place to explore and grow

#5: A working kitchen sink!!

Let’s just say I completely took my kitchen sink for granted until it was clogged the other day…

Did some googling, bought a plunger from the store, and now my sink is good as new, and I feel SO MUCH BETTER about life now!

#6: My fellow crossfitters 🙂

Today’s workout completely kicked my butt. I couldn’t seem to get a rhythm going (literally progressed at 2 reps at a time for a while), was tired for the whole workout, even cheated a little and still couldn’t finish in time. It was probably the crappiest I’ve done on a workout in a long, long time, but I’m thankful for all of my coaches and fellow classmates who cheered me on from the sidelines after they finished. At one point during some clean and jerks I was so tired and frustrated with my slow progress that part of me wanted to cry, so having so much support was really helpful.

Thanks for reading!

~ Jessie

Horsing Around!

adorable affection animal beautiful

Photo by Tatiana on Pexels.com

Welcome to another episode of my life 😊 Two weeks ago was a rough week at work, with our busy season starting and me being exposed to new skills at work. Going into it I was prepared with three things to look forward to: my weightlifting shoes arriving Tuesday, an event with one of my favorite animals on Thursday, and visiting a friend on the weekend. Well Tuesday came, and it turned out the sizing for my shoes on Amazon was wrong: I ordered a 5.5M, but what came in the mail was a 5.5W, which I definitely couldn’t wear. I was SUPER upset/let down Tuesday night into Wednesday morning. I somehow got through Wednesday, but wasn’t really all that excited for Thursday because a) SO much work is required to plan ahead for being out at work, and b) I really didn’t know much about the event I’d be missing work for, aside from the fact that it was an equine-guided leadership event. I love horses, but just didn’t really know what there was to be excited about.

Well, Thursday morning came and I showed up; it was myself, two other ladies attending, and our host, a lady named Amanda Kent. We were in an enclosed arena where dog shows, horse-riding lessons, and the like were held. There were four horses in the enclosed area, and our first exercise was just to observe them, noting their individual personalities, where their attention was focused, and how they functioned as a group. I came into this event as a completely blank slate: I knew next to nothing about horses and their behaviors. After observing for a while, we discussed our findings as a group. There was an older male, a younger male, an older female and a younger female. The younger male, younger female, and older female all stayed together in close proximity, while the older male stood off in the distance, watching. The younger male made sure everyone was okay and that the three of them stayed together. The older female was the final decision-maker, however. She made sure everyone knew their place and stayed in line, especially the younger male. The younger female just stayed in the middle of the three and watched the older female. We initially assumed the older male that stayed outside the group and watched from a distance was a bit of an outsider, especially since he was new to this herd. We were wrong by labeling him an outsider, however, because this was simply his role to play: that of a lookout. A lookout can’t do their job if they’re right in the mix with who they are looking after, and a herd with no lookout is at risk for outside threats. Similarly, every herd needs breeders (the younger female), managers/decision-makers (the older female), and protectors (the younger male). All roles within the herd are equally important, and if even one is not filled, the herd is immediately vulnerable and must make shifts to compensate.

Applying this same concept to humans lent itself to a good lesson, one that I had been learning along with accepting myself. Every individual has a role, no role is more or less important than any other, and if a role goes unfilled everyone suffers. Although i’m making progress, I struggle with not comparing myself to any and everyone I perceived as being better than me at pretty much anything, from lifting weights, to project management, to even having a better singing voice. It’s a sucky feeling, constantly feeling inadequate and small. While this is something I’m still working at, it feels SO freeing to know I don’t have to be like anyone (or everyone) else. I can have my own path and no matter what that ends up being, it won’t be any more or less important than anyone else’s; it will just be mine.

The rest of the exercises throughout the event mainly involved interacting with the horses (either through approaching or leading them around), while reflecting on goals, resolves, and issues with which we struggle. These exercises were really what made this whole event worth it and are why I was glad to have come as a blank slate in terms of horse knowledge. It was weird, yet completely fascinating to see the horses not just react, but also reflect our emotions and energies. For example, while leading a horse around in a big circle, Amanda led us in a self-reflection about why we attended the event. The goal was to get down to the nitty-gritty and identify whatever underlying issue(s) was causing distress. As we talked while leading the horses, she questioned us about how/why we came to certain conclusions, what we truly believed, and what we planned to do to improve the situation. It got intense; the two other ladies cried at different points. I made it through just about all of the exercises unscathed: whatever horse I was working with at the time was completely obedient and followed me without a problem…until we got to the final exercise.  

Our final task was to each create an “obstacle course” out of materials that were laying around the arena: logs, cones, crates, whatever we could find and carry. On our turn we’d explain the course we created, what the obstacles signified, and then walk our horse through all three of the courses, all while answering questions thrown out by our host. My obstacle course was a path outlined with cones that led to a mailbox at the end. In the middle of the path was one cone, and off to the side, but still on the path was another cone. I explained the outside cones were there to keep me focused on my ultimate goal (the mailbox): self-acceptance. The cone in the middle of the path was an obstacle: self-doubt. Lastly, the cone off to the side represented my habit of over-thinking. Oftentimes I’ll overthink and psych myself out, creating roadblocks where there really are none.

After describing my course, Amanda asked what some other potential stumbling blocks would be, to which one of my answers was “judgment.” I began explaining my ongoing struggle with judgment of myself and others and how this was rooted in my parents and how they raised us. I talked about how we as a family viewed other people as “outsiders”, fostering almost an “us against them” mentality when it came to those who were different than ourselves.

Suddenly my horse was acting weird…

He kept moving around and getting in front of me when I was explaining all this to Amanda and the other participants. He kept nibbling at my arm and occasionally jerking his head as I held onto the rope attached to him. I had no idea how to react to any of this so I just sort of let it happen as I tried to continue my story. Eventually Amanda chimed in and said I needed to establish boundaries: show the horse who was boss and also establish boundaries in my personal life. I thought I had gotten a lot better at talking about my parents: it no longer makes my blood boil to think or talk about my father. Over time I’ve learned to let go of the things he says/does that I disagree with, yet it seems there is still a good deal of anxiety there, and I still have a difficult time separating myself from them.

Going into this exercise I believed my issue was self esteem, but it seems I have the self esteem: the horses were very attracted to me, and while leading one around it never stopped or waivered in its path. Maybe my issue is needing to establish boundaries in order to better deal with my anxiety. I don’t know. I’m only partially convinced: I feel like there’s self esteem there, the problem is getting it to come out…

The one thing I am completely sure of is that grounding myself is definitely something that needs to be incorporated into my life, so I’ve started doing it here and there, along with meditating and being more aware of what my thoughts are saying to me. I have a long way to go, but am really thankful for this event and what it brought to my attention.

Thanks for reading!

~ Jessie

Why Self Esteem Work?

 

FB_IMG_1499220683285.jpg

Hello and welcome to another post of mine 🙂 I also wanted to do a shout-out to my two followers; thank you for following and I hope you continue to enjoy my posts 🙂

Today I wanted to delve into why I decided to work on my self esteem.

Self-esteem can sometimes be an elusive creature: it can be “faked” to appear one has an adequate amount of it on the outside, and it can be somewhat hidden within yourself so you end up not really paying it much attention. I believe both of these scenarios are the case for me. From the outside, I definitely don’t seem to struggle with self esteem. I’m comfortable with how I look, the clothes I wear, and I can function in many different settings. It isn’t until I have to talk in front of a group of people (either in person or over the phone) that I become a stuttering mess, but that isn’t really what made me decide to address the issue.

About a year ago I was on a search for a new form of exercise. Although I had done tumbling for over a year, my interest and dedication to it was waning, plus I was gaining weight and really needed to exercise more than once a week for an hour and a half. I decided to set out and try some new things, one of which was roller derby. It was alright and I would have been good at it, but it wouldn’t have given me the exercise needed: I needed full body and high intensity. A while later a coworker of mine mentioned crossfit; I had no idea what it was, but the gym he attended was having an open trial period all throughout December, so I attended that whole month. On my third appearance, while in the middle of a front squat, I smiled big and knew this was the form of exercise for me. Since then I’ve made it a point to attend 2-3 times every week and have learned quite a bit. Crossfit was actually one of the first factors that led me to work on my self esteem. When you have 100 pounds in front of you that has to be lifted over your head, it really challenges you mentally. It made me realize that, in general, my fear of failing or making a mistake is oftentimes bigger than the belief in myself that I can be successful, and this stems across many areas of my life: crossfit, work, challenging myself to do new things, etc.

Crossfit also made me aware of my habits surrounding being competitive. I’ve been naturally competitive for my whole life, as far back as kindergarten, and while there’s nothing wrong with this, it can sometimes get a little out of control, becoming more detrimental than helpful. Growing up (especially in elementary school), I was the fastest girl, and I loved being faster, stronger, and more agile than most people I crossed. Suddenly I wasn’t the fastest, strongest girl upon starting crossfit, but I still tried to compete with them anyway, which really only held me back. This habit spanned more than just crossfit, though: I compared myself to my coworker, my supervisor, my best friends, everyone in crossfit, even a girl I stood next to in church a couple Sundays ago who has a better singing voice than me. I compared myself to anyone who appeared to be better than me in some way, and rather than it being a helpful form of competition, it really just turned into me mentally beating myself up for not being as good as they were at “X, Y, or Z.”

Constantly comparing myself to others leads me to my next reason for working on self esteem: being a rather judgmental person. I don’t necessarily seem like the type for it on the outside, but I feel it. I was raised in a very closed-minded, subconsciously-judgmental environment. No one meant any harm, but there was always an “us against them”mentality. Whenever we talked about other people who were different from us or did things in a different manner, they were weird or wrong, not us. We were normal and correct. Fast forward to now, and I realize this led to a very self-righteous and closed-minded mentality in me towards other people who don’t fit inside my imaginary “box”. Moving out of that environment was definitely helpful, but I still struggled with being able to accept people for who they are, and deep down, it was because I really couldn’t accept myself. Even though I moved out of that environment I was still constantly comparing myself to the standards my parents had set: trying to do things they would find permissible. Feeling guilty for not being productive enough, or cleaning enough, or making enough money. Overall just trying not to be the people we talked about growing up. All of the striving to be this “perfect person” really just led to the inability to accept myself and a lot of anxiety surrounding that. Obviously you can’t be the best version of yourself if you’re constantly trying to live up to someone else’s standards, and that brings me to the last reason for improving my self esteem: knowing I’m capable of more!

There is a bible verse that says you can move mountains with just a mustard seed’s worth of faith. Although I’m becoming more comfortable with who and where I am in life, I know I’m capable of a lot more with just a bit of faith. I’ve already applied this to crossfit here and there, and have seen positive results: it’s helped me get through rough workouts and heavy lifts. It would be huge to apply that to the rest of my life as a whole. Even though just starting this work, I already feel like I’ve made a good amount of progress: I feel much more calm and mindful throughout each day. My thoughts are more positive and understanding. Negative thoughts aren’t as stinging as they were before. Overall I’m really excited to work towards making this giant shift of mine a reality!

Thanks for reading!

~ Jessie

Things I’m Grateful for – 10/20/18

20180220_151418.jpg

Welcome to another one of my posts 🙂

I really wanted to write a second one this week, focusing on gratitude, which will become a regular practice for me on this blog. Along with working on my self-esteem, another area of emotional health I’ve needed to address for a long time is gratitude: being thankful for the things/experiences/people you have. I have the habit of internalizing mistakes or things that upset me, and letting them bother me for a good portion of the day, when in reality it isn’t the end of the world. Over the last week or so I haven’t necessarily written down anything I’m grateful for, but have practiced being more mentally conscious of the things I have to be thankful for, and it’s made a big difference in my mood throughout the day. I’ve known for a long time that I should make a practice of writing down the things I’m thankful for, and through my blog I’m actually looking forward to doing this now (I’ve literally been waiting to write this for three days because I wanted to post my intro/why I’m doing this blog post first haha). For now, rather than committing myself to daily or weekly posts, I’m just planning to write gratitude entries as I feel like it. So, without further adieu, below are three things I’ve been thankful for this week!

Being a project manager!

This sounds odd because I am a project manager for my job (have been for just over two and a half years now, but truthfully I never truly valued myself as such until recently. I work for a data collection company and manage online healthcare marketing research projects: essentially I send emails back and forth to make sure we get enough physicians to complete surveys about medications and patients. I’ve always called myself a project manager, but since all of my projects are online and all I really do is send emails back and forth all day, I discounted my value in this role. It wasn’t until Thursday of this past week that I realized I am a project manager. I was in the middle of relaying instructions to our programming team for one of my jobs, when it hit me that I’m not a project manager because of project specifications or whether it’s online or in person, but because of all the resources I manage in order to get the job done. Depending on the project, I’m managing client expectations, costs, timeline, my tech who sets up the job, anywhere between one and four partner companies helping me get enough completes, any internal resources we use, and a programmer (should a job need programming), all while ensuring we come out making a profit. And I’m still learning of several other aspects that I haven’t yet had exposure to! It’s a lot, and not anyone could handle being a project manager.

The next experience I’m thankful for is also work-related. Due to my years of schooling, and my dad forcing me to practice typing while growing up, I’m a very good note-taker, and my supervisor took advantage of this earlier this week. We’re hiring another person to do bidding on our team, and my supervisor wanted me to take notes during both scheduled interviews. I’ve only ever been an interviewee, and having a chance to listen in on an interview and even be involved at various points was a great experience to have. On another note, one of the interviewees, when asked how much money he was expecting if hired, admitted that he had previously made six figures, but was more interested in the work than the money and would be willing to accept $35-$40k. I was surprised, but happy to have been there to hear this, because although I want a position that pays more, I also really don’t want to get caught up in the rat race of simply chasing money. I ]want to live comfortably and travel, but would prefer to do something I enjoy everyday, rather than hating my life and having lots of money.

The last item on my list I am thankful for is the ability to freeze food! It’s a very trivial thing, but is absolutely essential to my daily life. Back in March I changed my diet and now eat mostly paleo. In order to maintain this, I marathon cook every other weekend, freeze everything, and take out meals as I need them throughout the week. As a result of the switch, I’ve lost weight, am down a size in clothing, sleep better, have more stable energy levels throughout the day, no longer get “hangry,” have a healthier digestive system, and am just healthier overall. Without the ability to freeze food, I wouldn’t be able to maintain this type of diet and would probably still be unhealthy and unhappy with my body.

Thanks for reading!

~ Jessie

And so it begins…

20171003_190310.jpg

Hello and welcome to my blog! Although it’s still a work in progress at this point, feel free to look around and enjoy the scenery 🙂 With this initial blog post I’ll be talking a bit more about myself, why I decided to start a blog, and what I plan to do with it.

Before jumping into things, I wanted to first introduce myself a bit more. My name is Jessie, and I’m a single, 28-year-old African American girl living in southeast Idaho. I’m a bit of a nerd for certain things, and an introvert with extroverted moments: I enjoy living alone and having my own time and space, but also enjoy spending time with friends and experiencing new things. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m absolutely terrible at sarcasm: I either don’t get it or don’t know how to respond to it! My parents live in Kentucky, my younger sister is stationed overseas in Germany in the army, and I have two older half brothers and an older half sister that I didn’t grow up with. I have an MBA and work as a project manager in marketing research. A few of my hobbies are crossfit, going on the occasional adventure with friends, eating out, and traveling, although I don’t get to travel nearly as much as I’d like. Two of my favorite places are the Great Wall of China and Yellowstone National Park. It was so quiet and peaceful up on the Great Wall, and all the completely natural wonders in Yellowstone National Park just blew my mind. My next trip will be to visit my parents up in Kentucky at the end of this year, and I’m looking forward to it!

Moving on to why I decided to start a blog: there a many reasons. Prior to starting this blog I attempted to journal multiple times throughout my life: I loved the idea of having a journal/diary, and was always so excited to go pick out a pretty notebook, but never could seem to stick to it. I’d get busy or not set aside the time to write, and would avoid it altogether if in a bad mood. The longest I kept it up was for 2 straight weeks. I’ve now come to the realization that the reason I wasn’t successful was probably due to not really knowing how to journal, or why I was doing it: it just seemed like a cool, fun thing to do. Originally, I intended to use a blog as an outlet; I’m fresh out of a relationship and really only have one friend in town (my other friends live elsewhere throughout the US) so I thought I’d use this mainly for an outlet to help get through things. Turns out this blog will still be an outlet, but for personal growth, self reflection, and improvement. I recently began working on my self esteem and self-confidence and having a personal blog to reflect and share thoughts will go hand in hand with that kind of work. I struggle with being fully honest with myself and others about how I feel, and, in the past, have shied away from writing about difficult feelings, but this outlet will hopefully help me change that. In terms of maintaining this blog, I have more of a plan of action, and a “why” so it will be like the journal I could never keep while growing up.

Another reason I started this blog is to put myself out there, try to figure out what I’m passionate about, and to learn and apply marketing. For the past 4 or so months I feel like I’ve been internally vibrating due to not really feeling fulfilled. I’ve been applying for other positions, networking, looking for opportunities, researching things I’ve thought about, and really just been all over the place trying to figure out what I truly want to do. My last reason for starting a blog is simply to improve my writing. Ever since finishing my master’s degree and spending a lot of time on social media, my writing has gone way down hill, and I’ve thought for awhile about needing to improve it; writing on a weekly basis will be perfect for that.

The last topic I wanted to cover with this post is what I plan to do/where I will go with this blog, and the answer to that is really undefined at this point. It will definitely be a place for me to self reflect: most of what I write about will be things I did during the week, how I felt and why, things I struggle with, things I’m thankful for,and realizations I come to. Ultimately it will be a journey that I take into and with myself, but you are welcome to walk alongside me if you like 🙂 I’d appreciate any feedback on any of my posts!

Thanks for reading!

~ Jessie