Working from Home and Keeping Your Sanity

Working from Home and Keeping Your Sanity

When I had a scheduled job that I went to everyday Monday through Friday I would often say, “I can’t wait until I can just wake up and write, nothing else.” I couldn’t wait for those work from home days where I could just sit in my PJ’s and write or get dressed up just to go sit in a cafe and type like one of those hipster kids. I thought it was going to be sunny days, outfit of the day posts, free as a bird in the spring and summer. I thought the winter was going to be cozy and easy and relaxed, working from home, but I didn’t anticipate becoming a couch potato, nor was I prepared for the constant cabin fever outbreaks. I wasn’t prepared for the endless…or what felt like endless days since my schedule was completely flexible, and I wasn’t prepared to lose days of the week since Mondays felt like Tuesdays and Tuesdays felt like Fridays and Fridays felt like Wednesdays…you get the point. Don’t get me wrong, working from home has it’s pluses until you find yourself calling upon the Justice League to help you fight the laziness that’s holding you captive in bed. It’s easy to lose motivation, to not feel like doing anything at any given moment and it’s easy to find yourself on the brink of insanity in the walls of your home. So I had to think outside the box to come up with some things to keep me sane when working from home.

Create a creative space that’s conducive to creativity. 

Modern creative workspace on yellow wall.

How’s that for some dope alliteration? But I found that working from home was most unproductive for me when done in my bedroom. A bedroom is a place associated with rest and relaxation and I always found myself sprawled out on my bed lounging and aimlessly surfing the web more than I was being productive. So I went out and got a little table and a nice accent chair and decorated a nice space with colors and art to keep me motivated and away from my bed. It also gives me something to look forward to because I’m excited to sit in my colorful chair in my colorful corner. *sings* “in my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be…” Of course Brandy sung it better.

Get A Change of Scenery

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I spent the past week in Baltimore visiting and touring the city with my significant other, but work had to continue because deadlines were still approaching. Even though I was working on the same content, I felt a fresh sense of renewal doing it from another city in another state. I sat by the harbor jotting notes in my Moleskine while taking in the scenery of the harbor, I toured the inside of an art museum, I walked a college campus and I was also a couch potato in someone else’s house, but the point is changing locations even if it’s as small and simple as walking to the local cafe, coffee shop or library or sitting in a park can make all the difference in boosting creativity, motivation and certainly combating cabin fever.

Step Away from the CPU…and nobody gets hurt!

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No, but seriously in the words of OutKast, you got to get up, get out and get moving. Sometimes cabin fever comes when we refuse to unglue ourselves from our screens. You find yourself having a brain fart and writer’s block and you’re just stuck. The best way to remedy that is to close the laptop, put the computer on hibernate and go do something else for a bit. Finish a workout DVD, fold some laundry, catch up on a missed show episode, make you some lunch or better go and buy you some lunch, take a walk, call a friend, etc. Sometimes you just need a mental break.

Create a routine

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If you didn’t have a 9-5 schedule at an office job and you were told to work around the clock would you? No? So why do it at home? Even though you’re working from home and can do so whenever you please as long as deadlines are being met, that doesn’t mean you work all day. Create a routine and set a specific amount of time aside for work just like you would at a regular office job including lunch and bathroom breaks. When the work day is over, the work day is over.

Captured Memories & Missed Moments

Captured Memories & Missed Moments

4E37FCD4-AC3D-42AB-A4C0-06840559D13DI had such a vivid dream last night. I was in an auditorium with a bunch of people I’ve met throughout my life: childhood friends, college friends, sorority sisters, co-workers from different jobs, etc. and we were all waiting on something. Something big. It was President Obama and he was coming to speak to apparently a bunch of students at an elementary school, but we were all there. As soon as he entered the auditorium, applause, screams, and cheers erupted. Everyone rushed to him for handshakes, hugs and selfies. I was one of those people, but when it was my turn, I couldn’t get my camera to work properly. The battery had died on me. So I pulled out my camera phone, but the memory was too full and no matter how much I deleted pictures and created memory space, it was still too full. Getting frustrated and feeling rushed, I pulled out another camera phone and whenever I pressed the camera app, it wouldn’t open. It kept crashing. So at this point, I’m getting anxious, the line is moving, my time is almost up so I’m begging people to use their cameras, camera phones, iPads, whatever so that I can take a picture with the President to post on social media. It was an epic fail. I did not get that picture with President Obama. I didn’t have a conversation with him. Nothing because I was too busy trying to literally capture the moment rather than create a lasting memory, gain some wisdom and make a connection. When I woke up this morning that epiphany dawned on me like cracking open a fortune cookie. I thought about how many times in my life I had done this.

How many times have I missed the marked? How many times have I missed out on a good connection, a teachable moment, and a lesson learned because I was too busy trying to capture the moment without making any memories? Think about it, we go to a fancy restaurant with an awesome person (maybe a date or a really good friend) and our plate comes and it’s this beautifully plated meal that we just have to capture. While we’re trying to set the table up to capture the beautiful set  up, our food is getting cold and our date is disinterested. We spend the rest of the date checking our notifications, seeing who’s liking what we’re eating and although we are paying attention to our date, they don’t have our undivided attention.

How many times have you gone to a networking event and didn’t network as much as you could have because you were taking selfies with others and speakers rather than creating conversation?

It’s like hey, I’m here and I want you to know that I’m here, but am I reeeaaaally here? Am I fully present in the moment?

The point is, be present in everything that you do. Put the phone down and make a real connection beyond finding people on social media. If you do meet someone on social media, reach out the them to meet in person if you’re in the same area. Make some new memories.

Cupid’s Arrow Gun

Cupid’s Arrow Gun

This is another one of those cases where I had to unlearn what I’ve been taught and draw my own conclusions about love and life. I joke often about my usage of OkCupid. It’s a lot more entertaining than Tinder and requires a lot more effort when creating a profile. You have to answer a series of questions and as you swipe through profiles you’re able to see the compatibility percentage between you and others and you’re also able to see the questions that you answered the same and the ones you answered differently. So I use it often. I spent hours and hours swiping, matching and messaging guys from NJ and NYC to see if there’s a “spark” or a mutual interest to take things further. I’ve met my share of creeps and pervs. I’m sure my block list is as long as the NYC marathon at this point. However, recently I matched with a guy from Harlem and on impulse and since I was already in the city, I invited him out with me and some of my friends to have a fun night in the Lower East Side. So we met the same day we matched and I usually don’t do stuff like that for obvious dangerous reason, but I was feeling brave.

We met at a bar in the Lower East Side and conversation was great. I was already two drinks into my tequila on the rocks and was feeling extremely courageous. I didn’t have any food in my system, so we ditched our friends for a bit and walked to a .99 cent pizza shop across from the bar. We sat outside and talked about everything. Socialism, favorite colors, work, favorite foods, political viewpoints, hobbies and I decided that I actually liked this guy. The fact that he wouldn’t allow me to pay for anything was also a plus. Not that I needed him to. So we walk back to the bar and join our friends. After several shots, dancing and just acting silly the bartenders did their last calls. We closed ur tabs and hung outside the bar. One of his friends, extremely ignorant approached us and said, “I don’t have anything against gay people, just don’t touch me.” So in a sarcastic way I said, “why? Do they have diseased hands?” So we got into an argument because according to him, AIDS originated from gay people, it’s an abomination and AIDS was their punishment like the plague in Egypt. Of course I asked him for a black and white scripture on the abomination of homosexuality to which he couldn’t give me one. My OkCupid guy to my relief agreed with me on everything I was saying, but then he blurted out he didn’t believe in God.

Pause.

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Now this is the part where I needed to start thinking. I grew up in an orthodox Christian household where there are rules. Life is black and white just as the pages in the Bible (minus the red). That’s how I was raised, but throughout the years as I grow into a woman, I realize that life isn’t black and white. It’s actually quite colorful. I’ve learned to unravel everything that I’ve learned these last 25 years and have really examined the bigger picture of life. So why was him not believing in God weighing so heavy on me? I took to Facebook and asked my friends if they could date someone of a different faith or no faith at all and most said no, but all it takes is that one to identify with to make it all better. My sorority sister spoke up and talked about how she’s been in a relationship with an Atheist for the past three years and not once have either of them tried to change the other. He’s opened her mind up to so much and vice versa and they have a very healthy relationship.

I can’t deny that I do actually like him and would like to get to know him a lot better, so I asked him his reasoning for his choice and he actually had a similar story to me. He was raised Catholic (I was Christian) and he just didn’t feel like he belonged. SO many of his life experienced caused him to shift his views. He’s Honduran and life’s experiences living in Central America has left him with a lot of questions. He’s an insanely intelligent person, very genuine and caring and I like his character. He calls, texts, makes plans, so I’ve learned to be very open minded and get to know him better without being so quick to judge, toss aside, etc. It’s too early to tell where this’ll go though, but I’ll keep you posted! 

I want to know has anyone dated outside of their faith and what was that experience like for you?

If Only Life Were Always Like A Box of Yogi Tea

If Only Life Were Always Like A Box of Yogi Tea

Don’t you just love when you open up a box of Yogi tea and the pleasant aromas just come springing out? Opening up a packet of tea has the same equivalent of cracking open a fortune cookie and reading the fortune or reading the cap of a Snapple bottle. You can always guarantee that you’ll read a quote that is inspiring and uplifting.IMG_3894

Yesterday, I had to be reminded of my blessings. These days those reminders are coming more often than I would like, but I found myself briefly slipping into a state of depression and I thank God for the friends and family that I do have because they immediately reach down and yanked me out. One of my best friends sent me a message from Joel Osteen that read “If you’re not content in the process then you’ll never be satisfied.” 

My boyfriend preached a mini sermon to me and literally counted out every single blessing transpiring in my life. He had to lay it all out on the table for me to see. Everything that I want, it’s on its way. I just need to learn patience. I expressed to him that probably since graduating from college in 2012, there has never just been an extremely long period of peace in my life. I’ll get settled into something only for a single event to just shake it all up.

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But before all of that came my Yogi Tea bag message that read: “Happiness comes from contentment.” I thought how do I find this happiness…how do I find the contentment when I’m uncomfortable? It’s like Martin said, “Love’s in your face.” It is literally in my face every time I open up my eyes to let me know I’m alive another day. It’s in my face every time my boyfriend texts me or FaceTime me to see how my day is going. It’s in my face every time my friends texts me because I know there are people who genuinely care. It’s in my face with every annoying and frustrating work email that I answer and deadline that I meet because someone believes in my writing that much to give me a chance.

I’m already a tea addict and I have a cabinet stocked full of Yogi Tea and I’m pretty sure I’ll be drinking it much more often because I’d like my life to be big ball of inspiration like a box of Yogi Tea.

6 Times I Got My Life Reading “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

6 Times I Got My Life Reading “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Today was the perfect day for some much needed R&R (reading and relaxation) time. So after watching a few episodes of Bob’s Burger on Netflix, I decided to disconnect and tackle the books that I had gotten in a recent book haul on Amazon. I finished the final chapter of the mystery book that took me a month to read and decided that I would dive into some of the great works Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read Half of a Yellow Sun a few years ago and hadn’t had the opportunity to read any of her work since so I was excited when I got my hands on a copy of “We Should All Be Feminist” that was originally adapted from one of her famous TEDTalks.

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So I found me an awesome sun spot in my room, made me a huge cup of warm chai and prepared to have my life handed to me. Although, I do wish it were a longer read, her words did pack a powerful punch and it was really interesting to see how “feminism” showed itself in so many different ways culturally whether in America or in Nigeria. So in between sips of chai, I found myself with a bulk of yellow stickies making notes and sticking them in between the pages I wanted to read over and over again. Here are six times I got my life, snapped my fingers and let out a “yaaaaasssss” as I read along. Had I been at her TEDTalk, I’d have probably been that one black woman doing that.

“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likeable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”

“But by far the worst thing we do to males–by making them feel they have to be hard–is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is. And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.”

“A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me. I was not worried at all–it had not even occurred to me to be worried, because a man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.”

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“We use the word respect for something a woman shows a man, but not often for something a man shows a woman. Both men and women will say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage.’ When men say it, it is usually about something they should not be doing anyway. Something they say to their friends in a fondly exasperated way, something that ultimately proves to them their masculinity–‘Oh, my wife said I can’t go to the club every night, so now, for peace in my marriage, I go only on weekends.’ When women say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage,’ it is usually because they have given up a job, a career goal, a dream. We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do.”

“Some people ask why the word ‘feminist?’ Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that? Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general– but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human. For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem that should acknowledge that.”

“Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. This comes, I think, from the insecurity triggered by how boys are brought up, how their sense of self-worth is diminished if they are not ‘naturally’ in charge as men.”

If you didn’t get your life after reading those quotes, or if you weren’t prompted to get your own copy then I don’t know what else to tell you, but it sparked something in me. She made it a point to make feminism a universal cause. We should literally all be feminist just as we should all read this book!

Next Up: “Americanah”

Accessing My Struggles & Why I’m Okay With Giving Up

Accessing My Struggles & Why I’m Okay With Giving Up

I recently came across a quote that read “Self-talk is the channel to change behavior” and it got me to thinking about some of the struggles I deal with on a spiritual level that affect my entire lifestyle from work to relationships to my overall well-being. I’ve been trying to come to terms and really figure out what I want to do with my life and at 26, I feel like I should be well on my way, but I’m not. I’ve found myself working at so many jobs that’s left me feeling unfulfilled. I’ve found myself in so many unhappy and dead end dating situations. So I had a moment where I thought about it all. I spoke them out loud. I had a conversation with myself and I decided that if I was going to struggle, it would be because I’m taking risks and working towards something that I love rather than struggling to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. I had to access my struggles and ask myself am I struggling because I’m being stretched? Is it because I’m put in a vulnerable position to learn and grow from or is it because I’m trying to force a lifestyle that I have no business in? For any that fit the category of the latter, I realized it’s okay to wave the white flag or throw in the towel.

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Most times we hear you have to stay strong and see things through which in turn implicates that giving up and quitting aren’t admirable traits, but in my opinion, it takes a special kind of courage to walk away from situations that no longer serve you well especially if you’ve gotten into a routine or a complacent place in your life. Sometimes it’s even hard to recognize those safety nets for what they are because they feel right in that moment but in the long run they aren’t.

Giving up isn’t always a bad thing. When your heart is no longer in something, walking away is okay. When your situation becomes unhealthy, it’s okay to give it up. When it’s changing you for the worst and pulling you away from the things that you love, it’s okay to say “no more.” When better doors are opening up and your intuition is leading you down a different path, it’s okay to want the finer things in store for you. We have such a twisted perception of what it means to give up that we often times don’t see giving up as a mean to also gain so we find ourselves stuck. We become stuck in dull relationships, accumulating years without substance. We find ourselves stuck at dead end jobs without promotions, growth or raises. We find ourselves taking up pew space at churches that no longer feed us spiritually. We become just another woodwork to society and that’s no way to live. I’ve learned to wave my white flag when necessary and be okay that I did it. I’ve learned to walk away from situations without regret because I know that I did the right thing. I realized that everyone isn’t going to like every decision I make, but the life that I live is mine alone therefore, doing what’s best for me is always a good decision.