Life Update: Being Imperfect and Stepping Into the Unknown

It’s taken me a while to write this post. Or any post for that matter. But here I am, typing alongside my resistance. And why am I resisting? Well, because I want to make this post perfect. After all, I haven’t written for so long so it MUST be the BEST BLOG POST THE WORLD HAS EVER SEEN, am I right?

Of course not. But my perfectionism is a master at getting me to believe that it has to be. I’m sharing this with you because recently I realized that directly addressing the difficult thing that’s coming up for me in the moment helps me get over the hump; putting my perfectionism on blast is the best way for me to get past it and start writing.

These days I’m inviting more progress, more self-compassion, more forgiveness, and more intentionality into my life. And I’m giving myself permission to make things that are imperfect.

These are some of the gifts the past year and a half has given me. Let me enlighten you on what went down on my side.

For starters, there was a point in 2019 where I was pretty burnt out. I was tackling a lot at once and not giving myself much rest time, while experiencing problems in a few of my relationships. Navigating the stress of keeping up with school, my internships, my extracurriculars, and trying to mend a few broken hearts was tough. But thankfully towards the end of 2019 I was starting to feel a little better. I got support from my professors and loved ones, and I did my best to keep up with my assignments – I have to thank some of my wonderful friends for keeping me accountable and keeping me laughing. Whether you did so consciously or not, you really helped make my last two semesters at school bearable.

So fast forward to 2020. A new year! A clean slate! The best year yet! Little did I know…

LOL I know right? 2020 was wild, but looking back — and I can only say this in retrospect — it was also one of the most enlightening years of my life to date. I developed a new appreciation for life, in part because of my fear of death. I woke up to the fact that in many areas of my life I was playing small and not fully expressing my truth. I started to really think about what I WANT and what actually works for ME, instead of going along with what I think I “should” want or do. These are things that I couldn’t see before.

Yes, I experienced some disappointments. Half of my last college semester was taken away by the pandemic that hit. I graduated, but… online. I know that graduation matters a big deal to some and not at all to others, but I was SO READY to enjoy graduation. My sophomore and junior year I actually volunteered to help out with the graduation ceremonies of those years, so I was more than familiar with how the ceremony would go down which made me even more excited for the time when I would get to walk across the stage. I also missed out on going to senior formal and celebrating one last time, dressed like a delicious MEAL, with all of my classmates. I was ready. So when I learned that none of that would be happening, and that the trips I planned for the summer couldn’t happen, and that the world was in a panic… yeah, I was pretty disappointed to say the least. Had a couple breakdowns here and there.

But in that void, in those uncertain and gray times, I was able to connect with myself and my family in ways I never have before. My spirituality amplified, my desire to be in control was tested time and time again, and I read a bunch of great books.

Speaking of which, I couldn’t write a blog post without giving you a resource to check out. This book I’m about to share with you is something EVERYONE and their ancestors should read. Yup, I’m bringing them into this. Do yourself a favor and check out The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. If you read it already, this is a nudge to re-read it. Seriously. This book has shown up in my dreams, people! It’s short but so impactful. So go get it.

And now, post-grad life is full of unknowns and things to figure out. What will I do next? What do I want out of my relationships? What do I want for my future? So many things.

This time in my life feels both exciting and scary. It feels like I have a lot of decisions to make. But I’m navigating this space the best I can.

So as I wrap up my thoughts here I recognize that when I click publish on this post that, no, it won’t be perfect. But it will be honest. It will be what’s in my heart right now and what I feel called to share with you. If you’ve made it this far with me, thank you. I hope you’ll stick around for future posts and that you’ll take any gems that resonate with you. Cheers to stepping into the unknown!

#20: Hiatus, Feelings, Recent Favs

*4 months later*

After the ridiculously long hiatus, I’m back. And it feels good.

Where was I, you might ask? Well, after I finished finals, my summer kicked off with a trip to Atlanta, a new internship, and a whirlwind of emotions to say the least. It’s been a very eventful season so far. So thank you for bearing with me. I’ve had at least 3 people in the past week ask me what happened to the website. Thanks for the push, y’all. Let’s chat.

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Beauty from Atlanta.

What I’ve learned recently…

For starters, I learned that vegan Chinese food places exist in places like Atlanta. If you’re in the area, I highly suggest a place called “Herban Fix” for fusion cuisine. And I for one want to say how AWESOME that is! Not sure if I’ve told you this before, but I’m a vegetarian. That just means I don’t eat meat (e.g., chicken, pork, beef, etc.) but as long as I’m not eating at a steakhouse, I can usually sort through sides and veggie platters and find something to eat. Walking into a vegan food spot was a whole different experience – I could eat absolutely everything that was on the menu. And that felt amazing! More vegan food places, please! If you know of any great vegan or vegetarian restaurants near you (no matter where you are), let me know. I’m always down to travel and eat great food.

Another pretty important thing that I’ve learned is how to truly love my natural hair. Almost two years ago, I decided I would stop using relaxers on my hair and instead grow out my tightly coiled, natural strands (shoutout to my beautiful friends and family who helped me with that transition).

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That moment when you successfully do a twist out but one loose strand wants to ruin your picture and you won’t allow it. That’s meeee.

I knew I wanted to try going natural at some point. I also knew by the warnings of many that it would be a lot of work to maintain. But I wanted a real relationship with my hair – so yes, sis, that took and is still taking work. As all relationships do! But the work is so worth it! Wash day for my hair is a self-care day for me. Twisting and seeing how versatile my hair is has been a beautiful experience.

Another gem that has come up for me recently is the idea that you attract and maintain relationships with others based on how you make them FEEL. I was speaking with my dad about this in the car one day, and it really stuck with me. It seems like so often when we’re looking to make real connections with other people, we place a disproportionate amount of that energy on things like our appearance more than how we feel and how we’re making the other person feel. Now DO NOT get me wrong. Keeping yourself healthy and taking care of your physical attractiveness is essential for both feeling good in general and initially catching someone’s eye. Continue being a snack, please. The issue comes in when we forget that for the people in our relationships to feel good when they are with us, we have to be authentic and feeling good ourselves.

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We all know that person that lights up a room when they step in. We all have a friend that we feel entirely safe with and can confide in. We all know someone who is basically doing a killer stand up comedy set whenever we see them. The point is, we remember how the people in our lives make us feel. That sticks out to us a lot more than other stuff like aesthetics, especially in the long term. So be yourself, and bring joy to others when you can. Doing so allows others to genuinely connect with you and want more of that sweet, happy feeling they get when they just think of you.

What I favorite recently…

DayDesigner planner – if there’s one thing you’ll learn about me, I like planners. LOL okay let’s be real here, I love them. And this one, in particular, is super useful to me because of the weekly and monthly spread. To build a great life, you gotta get strategic, people.

Summer Durant – “Same” – Spoken word poetry has always held a place in my heart. Here’s one of many that have stuck out to me recently.

Latino Men Try Therapy For The First Time – I’m a big advocate for taking care of your mental health. I also believe that specific communities (like those of people of color and men) need to be encouraged to do so more because of the stigma surrounding things like going to therapy, opening up about how you’re feeling, and being vulnerable. This video appealed to me for all of those reasons.

Tyler Perry’s BET Award Acceptance Speech – help somebody cross.

Four months was four months too long to be gone, I know. Let’s start again. For now, have an incredible week and enjoy the last of July! And tell me, what have you learned recently?

#19: Midterm Season

Hey peeps!

Long time, no post. I know, I know. But I promise I’ll be back soon! I wanted to check-in to let you know that last week was Spring Break for me and now I have midterms all week (p.s. send help), which is why I haven’t posted in a while. I’ll be back on my flow as soon as these tests are over!

Although this isn’t my usual weekly reflections post, I wanted to leave you with a few gems and favorites to hold you over until the weekend:

  • What you should think about: Take the time to figure out what you TRULY value, be honest with yourself, and spend more time doing things that align with that. What do you value the most? Work, relationships, your health? How are you spending your time now?
  • Fav natural product you should try: If you haven’t tried African Black Soap, I HIGHLY recommend it. Especially if you have “problem” or “acne-prone” skin.
    • Note: you’ll likely find this at any beauty supply store near you, but I included a link to an “Amazon’s choice” African Black Soap. The tip I’ll give with buying these soaps is to choose those that look less neat and more “earthy”. There are marketed African Black Soaps that are completely black and smooth, but I’ve read that for the best quality soap you should go with the ones that look closer to this:

 

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Source: Google Images – Cleopatra’s Choice

 

May we all prosper this week — and may these test scores be ON POINT. Sending you positive vibes, always.

Valencia Saint-Louis

#18: System Shut Down + Weekly Favorites

For most of this past week, I was sick, which wasn’t fun at all. I usually don’t get sick unless I’m under a lot of stress or in what I call a “low-vibrational state”; in short it’s a state where I’m being pretty negative or feeling insecure and just emotionally or mentally feeling icky. I’m not kidding when I say this. Mentally feeling icky leads me to feel physically icky. So healing from that took a lot of deep sleep, medicine, and positive thinking.

I think my procrastination from the week before, paired with lingering thoughts of perfectionism and disappointment in producing less than exquisite work, spilled into the beginning of this week and stressed me out a lot. That and the fact that my schedule was out of whack. No wonder my immune system shut down.

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Towards the end of the week though, I started to feel MUCH better. It was a night and day difference. That experience gave me a wakeup call on how important it is for me to keep in good spirits (while still respecting the full range of emotions that come up for me), and that everything is connected. When I slacked and stressed on my work, I’m sure that led to me slacking and stressing on my nutrition and schedule and everything else. Everything is connected.

So here’s my reminder to you not to let sicky, icky feelings catch you by surprise! Make sure to keep your immunity high by:

  • Drinking lots of water, and taking in enough Vitamin C.
  • Reducing stress as much as possible with things like meditation, journaling, and deep breathing.
  • Getting plenty of deep sleep. Make those REM cycles count, sis.

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With this week ahead, my intentions are to take care of myself, to do things with a “beginner’s mindset” with LOTS of compassion, and to be grateful. Like right now I’m grateful for the fact that I had some yummy oatmeal with peanut butter (before you knock it, try it) and that my mom sent me the sweetest message filled with love this morning. I was in tears reading it. Food + mom = a whole lot to be grateful for. What are you grateful for today?

Weekly Favorites

Youtube Video: your. 20’s. aren’t. a. joke. | advice for surviving your 20’s – an amazing friend sent me this video and we bonded over how REAL this is. Ugh. If you’re in your 20s or want a trip down memory lane, please check this out.

Organization: StoryCorps

Podcast: Highest Self Podcast by Sahara Rose

Song: Sucker by the Jonas Brothers — yes, they’re back! When I was younger, I absolutely loved the Jonas Brothers. And guess what? Nothing has changed! Haha, but this song is sooo good and the music vid is absolutely beautiful. Life goals = to be Priyanka Chopra, sitting in a bathtub with jewels on my head.

 

#17: Punting Perfection, and Weekly Favorites

Sunday is probably my favorite day of the week. It’s the best day for relaxation, reflection, and planning. When you think about it, it really is the bridge between last week and the next, which is why I try to make my Sundays as calm as possible. Sundays are the end and the beginning, simultaneously. That’s wild. But also very beautiful.

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At the beginning of last week I was slacking, not gonna lie. With the newfound time in my schedule, I made sure to take some time to relax, but I think I overdid it. I hung out, slept in super late, and as a result was wayyy behind on my schoolwork. It was a real wake up call for me because before I was always on the move, pretty drained, but always on top of my work and meetings. I guess I learned the energy management part I addressed in last week’s post because I wasn’t completely exhausted, but the time management part is what needs revamping. So I want to applaud past-Valencia for learning how to step back and relax. Yay! But now I’m working to make sure future-Valencia knows that downtime has a limit too and that although I have fewer tasks, those tasks can be given more time and attention so that I do them to the best of my ability!

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Punting Perfection

Another revelation that came out of this week is the fact that sometimes I get in my own way when it comes to the projects I want to do and the work I want to put out. In fact, the only time I procrastinate on something is when it’s suuuuper important to me – which is CRAZY. But I know why I do… it’s because I want it to be perfect. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve exponentially and to produce fantastic work even when I’m a novice at something. Which quite frankly, doesn’t make any sense.

For example, I had an assignment for my podcasting class due last week. But I was having some difficulty when it came to not getting all the recordings I needed with the equipment I rented and issues uploading my files. Basically, I knew it wasn’t going to come out the way I wanted it to. Which SUCKED to admit, but I had to once I realized I kept putting off reaching out for help and handing in what I could, for days. The other day I finally swallowed my pride after trying to work on this persistent problem I’ve been having with uploading my files and reached out to my professor for some help.

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Nothing has to be perfect, especially when you’re just starting out. If someone who has never lifted a weight in their life told me they’re going to lift 200 lbs on their first day at the gym I would look at them like they’re crazy. The same logic applies to everything else. You can’t think you’re going to come in and be this extraordinary expert when you’re still learning. And even when you’re an expert you’re still always learning!

In short, having that experience sobered me up to the fact that whenever I find myself procrastinating on something it’s an indication that:

1) I really care about the project or task,

2) I’m putting way too much pressure on myself to make it perfect, and that…

3) I need to cut myself some slack, enjoy the process, and be proud of whatever I end up creating at the end of the day. Doing my best is enough.

This past week wasn’t perfect, and that’s okay. Maybe its purpose was to give me a wakeup call. And for that, I’m very grateful.

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Wishing you relaxation, peace, and productivity this week.

Weekly Favorites

Youtube Channel: Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu

App: ToDoist – a great to-do list app that’s free, but many of the unlimited features are for the premium subscription

#16: Energy Management and Weekly Favorites

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know what you’re thinking… it’s been a while. 

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I couldn’t even tell you what kept me occupied these past two weeks. The days seem to fly by so fast now that I don’t seem to remember what I did the day before if I don’t journal or write it down somewhere. But now I’m finding space and time to sit and write. I’m getting a lot better at managing my energy, carving out alone-time, and reducing stress.

My calendar (and my room) are less chaotic, and I’ve actually gotten to a point where I feel at peace. It almost feels… suspicious. You know what I mean? It feels like because I’m not stressing out that I’m not doing enough. Which is probably just a product of associating being stressed out and “busy” – a word I never like to use – with being productive. Which is NOT the case. At least not 24/7 bad stress.

I’m learning how to work smarter instead of harder and to be intentional about what I do and why I do it. Like I mentioned in my last post, there’s a cost to everything. Being intentional about how we spend our time and energy is super important.

 

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Me to me when I try to take on the world before lunch ^

 

If you’re a student, a leader, a Type-A, or anything of that sort, here’s some advice I can offer you that’s helped me find peace these past two weeks:

  1. Ask for help when you need it. Yes, you are fully capable of doing anything you put your mind to. But you are also more productive and at peace when you have the support from others that you need to get to the next level. Let others help you.
  2. If you can help it set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour every day, at the same time, for you to you decompress and relax. Put it in your Google Calendar. I’m serious. Make it as much of a priority as your schoolwork, work, or client meetings are. Use that time to listen to your needs.
  3.  Prioritize connection. Life is more than what you do. It’s the connections you make too. Be in flow with people that make you happy and feel most alive.
  4. Take slow, deep breaths.

I hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day if you celebrate it, and that you’re showing yourself and those you love lots of love this weekend!

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Weekly Favorites

Podcast: Oprah Winfrey, Part 1 (Oprah’s Master Class: The Podcast).

Youtube Video: Oprah’s Tearful Speech at Power of Women

Article: 7 Essential Tips For First Time Managers in 2019

InterviewCharlamagne Tha God – Combatting the Stigma Around Mental Health in “Shook One” | The Daily Show

Quote: “The grass is greener where you water it”

#15: What’s the Cost?, Needing to Recharge, Weekly Favorites

Hey peeps!

Last week was my first week back to school, and it felt nice. All the classes I’m taking this semester are aligned with what I want to create, experience, and do moving forward so I’m happy about that. For example, I’m taking a class on creating podcasts (*wink* – so expect to hear my voice in the near future!) It also kinda feels good to have a schedule and see familiar faces again. I’m feeling productive, which of course, always makes me feel good.

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Introspection Time: What’s the Cost?

With the start of a new semester, I also re-celebrated the importance of mentorship, introspection, and relaxation. I spoke with wonderful people about how important it is to do things purposefully and to always ask yourself what you’re giving up whenever you decide to take on something new. As someone who is known for leading different initiatives and participating in multiple things, this was a much-needed reminder. There’s a cost to everything; saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. So yeah, I could start another club. But what is that saying no to? Yeah, I could pack my schedule with lots of meetings but is that at the expense of my personal health? What will have to give?

And that’s been kinda hard… thinking about what has to give, I mean. There’s so much I want to do but I keep trying to remind myself that:

  • I have plenty of time; I don’t have to do everything right now, at this moment in my life. 5-year plan, anyone?
  • Doing more doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot more done.
  • Delegating is necessary for survival. Lol.

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Needing to Recharge

After the full and beautiful week I had last came to a close, I realized something big. I need to take time to rest and recharge. Let me say that again for the future-me looking back at this post and nodding her head – I NEED to take time to rest and recharge. And if you’re someone who is in school, working, taking care of others, or just living a full (I never like to say busy) life, then I encourage you to soak up that reminder too. In the past couple of days, I felt like my days consisted of waking up, immediately getting to work and interacting, and coming home only to do more work and fall asleep. So naturally, my body and mind feel a little cheated. Like, hey what happened to all that relaxation and me-time we got during break? Why’d that stop?

Not to say I don’t LOVE the things that I’m doing and the connections I’m making. It’s just that everyone needs a little me-time, you know? Especially considering the fact that I consider myself an introvert (maybe an ambivert) who needs that alone-time to prevent and deal with feeling drained.

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Weekly Favorites:

This week I felt a lot closer to my loved ones and a lot more productive than usual. Sobering discussions and extensions of love kept me grounded this week. Here are some of my favorites from the past couple of days:

Podcast: Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversation with Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence

Place: Target – I made a trip there this weekend and it reminded me of how much I love that place!

App: Google Calendar (my SAVING GRACE during the semester)

Quote: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” – Audre Lorde

I hope you have an awesome week ahead, filled with introspection and plenty of time to relax.

#14: Prioritizing Connection, Restless Sleep, and Weekly Favorites

It feels like a lot happened this week, even though I didn’t do much. I wasn’t as productive as I have been for the past couple of weeks, but I took a lot of time to check-in with friends and connect with my family. There were a lot of phone calls, laughs, and real conversations. And now that I think about it, maybe I needed a week like that. I’ve spent so much time thinking about how I can be productive by getting stuff done, but perhaps not enough time reconnecting with my loved ones and trying to work on the relationships that matter a lot to me.

Prioritizing Connection

A major lesson this week: in the midst of trying to personally develop in your career, studies, financial pursuits, etc. make sure to prioritize your relationships with others. Relationships are what connect us. So after your meeting today, call up your best friend. Or maybe while you’re cleaning, check-in with your brother. Make time for real connection.

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Restless Sleep

Towards the beginning of this week, I had some trouble falling asleep. I kept tossing and turning. I think it’s because I kept doing important, stimulating, and creative work right before going to bed super late. So, of course, the second my tired body hit the bed my mind was like, “WHY ARE WE POWERING DOWN?? More ideas! More creativity! Time. To. Be. Up!”

Thankfully my sleep got a lot better once I:

  1. Shut down my electronics about an hour before going to sleep.
  2. Went to sleep earlier.
  3. Stopped eating at a certain time.
  4. Took some deep breaths and stretched before sleep.

 

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Now that I’m going back to school, I have to fix my sleep schedule… and quick lol. I’m ready to go back but at the same time it feels like I never left.

Weekly Favorites:

P.S. did anyone see the new M. Night Shyamalan film, Glass? I saw it yesterday and thought it was shot so well! I won’t spoil anything, but it really makes you think about our own perceptions of who the good and bad guys are.

Hope you had a week filled with connection, good sleep, and good movies!

#13: Finished Books, Sweeet Sweet Yoga, and Weekly Favorites​

Heyy peeps!

I hope you had a great week and that you’re taking some time to appreciate all that you’ve experienced and accomplished. And extending some compassion to yourself for all the things you didn’t get to do or for not being your best self 24/7. We can’t do it all, and that’s okay. We are learning, breathing, and getting better each day. And you know what? I’m proud of us for that.

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As you know I gotta keep you updated with the weekly reflections, so here it goes! (I’m playing around with the format of my weekly reflection posts; let me know what you think of this one!)

Finished Books (Yay!)

Remember one of my last posts, where I talked about information overload and confessed that I haven’t been absorbing everything I’ve tried to read and digest? Yeah? Well, guess what! I sat down and finished You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero (after “almost finishing” reading it for a month now) and I ended up finishing Becoming by Michelle Obama today too. To be honest, wrapping up You Are A Badass was such a struggle for me. I kept getting all these inspired ideas, writing out plans, and my mind just kept wandering and wandering. I guess I didn’t want the book to end, in reality. It was filled with so many gems!!

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I highly recommend Jen Sincero’s book if you’re looking for an honest, transparent and anecdotal read that will guide you in your personal development journey. Not only is it personal but it gives you ACTUAL steps to transform your thinking (and by effect, your life). It’s nice to read a motivational story but it’s another to actually put in the work and get real with yourself.

Sweeet, Sweet Yoga

Besides the success of collecting information without feeling overwhelmed, today I connected my body and my breath and gave myself some mental clarity by doing some yoga exercises. I rolled out my mat and relaxed under the guidance of Yoga with Adrienne on Youtube. I noticed there were a few areas that were super tight and needed some extra love, but it felt so good to slow down and pay attention to what my body needed. I reveled in the slow movements, the extensions, the stretches – ahhh, the stretches!

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(Self-check: how does your neck feel? Stretch it out, one side at a time and see if you’re carrying a lot of tension there. I’ve learned that a lot of us carry tension in our necks and lower back – I certainly do.)

I feel like the last half of my week was much more fulfilling than the first half (considering the fact I can’t remember too much of what happened during the first half, HA). But I did end up going to the gym a few times this week, so I’m happy about that. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for what every day brought me. I’m learning how to slow down, trust my intuition, and guide myself back to love every day.

Weekly Favorites + Reminders:

Sending you lots of encouragement and growth this week ahead!

 

Featured Image Source: Business Insider UK

#12: Information Overload

I’d like to think of myself as someone who is ambitious, likes to learn, and who loves personal development. I mean personal development and growth are the pillars of this website for crying out loud.

But I have to be honest, trying to absorb all the information there is out there about being your best self and getting your life in order can be exhausting. The number of podcasts, articles, apps, books, etc. that are out there can be overwhelming. And maybe I’m talking into the void here, or maybe you’re like me, and you find yourself subscribing to tens of accounts and channels, trying to improve your life. Where do you start? What do you tackle first? Ughhhh.

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Send help!

*takes a deep breath* And to be honest with you, this has been an issue for me in the past. Taking on a lot of tasks or finding a lot of resources and not knowing where to start or divide up my time. So, I’m looking to minimalize and conquer.

To focus on ONE resource at a time, and to soak up all I can from it, before moving on to the next thing. For example, I’ve been digesting information from both Michelle Obama’s Becoming (as I mentioned in my last posts), and from the book, You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. And you know what? I’ve been reading YAAB for over a month… STILL HAVEN’T FINISHED IT.  Even though I know I want to finish it so I can internalize its lessons and move on. Even though it’s totally possible to read two books at once, I’m splitting up my time and energy and not finishing either of them – when really, I could’ve finished at least YAAB a month ago.

 

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Me to me^

 

Information overload happens not only with books of course but with social media and news and all that jazz. It’s just a lot sometimes. So I’m looking to scale back a bit, recharge, and work with what I’ve got now.

Have you ever experienced an information overload? Maybe watching the news too much has got you feeling irritated? Or maybe you’re not sure of which diet to try next between keto, paleo, avocado… In any event, I feel you.

Let’s make an effort to unplug, reset, and digest one thing at a time.