“YOU are not of this world, you just live in it”. — My mama used to quote John 17:16 as she would look dead into my eyes while straightening my pleated uniform and looking around our housing project lined street. Our house was exactly 0.4 miles from one of the deadliest housing projects, D-Block, in Yonkers, NY.
Retrospectively, that world that “I didn’t live in” provided me with lessons that has made me a successful administrator and continues to give me an edge over my competitors and peers in the professional world.
This is my ode to the hood:
Mama- You kept us under your wing. Protected us from the world around us.
Yonkers- So different from the oasis you grew up in, on your beautiful island.
Babies having babies, people slinging drugs.
Displaced persons, mangled families
Just trying to live, to rebuild their lives
Fighting against the patriarchy and the weight of systematic oppression
Cops, shrouded in blue, busting down doors, just spitting distance from our own front door
I remember you whispering: “You are not of this world — Remember that”
But I was, Mama.
Because I was not blind, and I was not deaf.
I hoarded the lessons of the street.
Breathing them in until they flowed like oxygen through my veins
Stuffing them deep down.
Burying them away below the layers of brown skin, so that my white,rich peers would not happen to catch a glance of them.
I hid them, so I would not be found out.
So that they wouldn’t call me or assume me- Ghetto
Now I’m a professional and it’s the hood lessons chosen time to shine
The ones that have made me strong, creative, bold:
The importance of the witty clap back.
To use my voice boldly.
To sound the alarm-
To identify- Danger.
I learned ….
Look both ways before you cross the street.
Look up, down and around before making a move. Be strategic
To make something out of nothing.
To create my own sunshine, when skies were gray.
Follow your gut.
It’s ok to be different and to march to my own drum.
A little skepticism is healthy.
Think Twice Before you Speak.
To make the food stretch, when there was little or none.
To tell the truth plainly
To tell a brilliant and clever story
to know when to mind my own business
The importance of boundaries
The significance of family
Both blood and chosen
How to take action and when to break rules
To initiate change and not to wait for it to happen
For many of us Fall is back to school time, whether you are a student, parent or a faculty/ staff member at a school or university. For me, late August and early September is a time to think retrospectively about the previous year, both professionally and personally, and make concrete decisions on ways to improve my life during this school year. I decided that this year, is my year of radical and rebellious self-care, where I put myself before all else.
Because… As a society, we are told to put our careers, families, and (fill in anything else here) first, before we take care of ourselves. We are taught that self-care is limited to two places in our lives: 1) As a luxury, or as 2) Reactionary Recovery for when we are amid crisis or after the fact.
I call BULLSHIT!
SELF-CARE is for every day. It is preventative care, the oxygen mask that keeps us sane, productive, happy and functional.
Not only is Back-To-School the craziest time of year for me professionally but the past two weeks have literally been political hell: Trump is repealing DACA, North Korea is testing hydrogen bombs, Hurricane Harvey is out here wiping out whole towns in Texas, Trump is preparing to withdraw from free-trade in South Korea. I mean, every day the world feels like it’s ending.
Although I was fazed by these overwhelming events, I was not defeated by them nor did I feel the need to call in “human” to work every time I read my politics feed.
Why Not?I had a self-care plan in place so that after my two weeks of professional and political hell, I could rejuvenate myself before the stress could truly build-up and set my school-year off to the wrong start.
Pre-scheduling my personal days and/or vacation days. I anticipated when my most stressful weeks would be and pre-planned self-care day, before the fact. Every day, if anything went wrong or I felt overwhelmed or exhausted, I had a little secret to look forward to — my planned self-care weekend extravaganza.
I thought I would share what that my pre-planned self care weekend often looks like.
SELF CARE Weekend SCHEDULE:
Labor Day Weekend:Invited friends over for a sleepover to play games, drink wine and catch up.
Labor Day: Fruit and Veggie picking at the local Farm, afternoon of chic-fil-a, shopping and ice-cream with family and friends.
Labor Day Evening:Begin preparing for radical self-care day by cleaning my house, doing laundry and meal-prepping a big delicious, nutritious meal to last a few days. Lemon chicken, mushroom pilaf, sauteed veggies, and grilled salmon. (I do this for two reasons, I can’t truly relax or self-care if my house is a mess and I did not want to take time away from my self-caring to cook.)While dinner was cooking, I reviewed, wrote and pre-scheduled any work emails that I knew would need to be sent out the next day.
SELF CARE DAY SCHEDULE:
10:30am- Wake up and do a little in bed stretching and meditation
11:00am- Lit some candles for a Luxurious shower and hair wash. Oil my scalp and deep condition my hair
12:00pm- Make and eat delicious yogurt bowl
12:30pm- Casually finish folding laundry while watching Master Chef
1:15pm- Read for fun and write this article
3:00pm- Core workout and stretching
4:15pm- Deep tissue massage and body scrub
( Note : I have a massage fund that I save up $10 every two weeks or so for when I do need an emergency massage. There’s money already available.)
7:00pm- Warm and eat delicious dinner that I prepped the night before while watching Weeds
8:00pm- Sensual bath with candles
10:00pm- Hop into bed, do some light reading before bed
10:45- 15 minute guided meditation for deep sleep
11:00pm- Lights out
Self- care days do not have to be expensive. Many of these activities require light planning and can be replaced with more affordable options such as self-massage or massage with a partner.
Your body, and your mental health is important. Put them first. You are worthy of self love. Don’t wait till you are stressed to take care of yourself. By then, it’s often too late and waiting makes the events harder to enjoy.
Note: BE AWARE, THERE ARE SPOILERS as themes are discussed.
Moana, is an animated film about the coming of age process and navigating through the world as a young person. There were so many times when I, as a female-identified person, beamed with pride as Moana traverses her way across the world and fought against the expectations set for her by her family and village. I’ve watched Moana ten times and I’m a bit ashamed to say, each time I’ve watched it, I’ve cried. During my tenth viewing with a group of friends in San Francisco, I realized that unlike many of my peers, it was not Moana’s feminine strength that resonated with me. Instead, Moana’s story was a direct reflection of my adult life and the lives of many of my millennial peers. The power of the film stems from it’s relevancy, discussing topics such as resiliency, familial expectation, gender norms, coming of age, friendship, impostor syndrome and pursuing one’s dreams and destiny.
Have you ever been in a conversation with your parents or grandparents, or read one of those articles that blame millennials for the destruction of one thing or another: the end of the hotel industry, fast food, the list goes on? Well, even millennial Moana in her animated world cannot escape the blame game from her parents for trying to embrace change and find innovative ways to save her island. She defies her father and runs away from her own island to challenge the existing paradigms of leadership and survivorship. She breaks borders by leaving the reef to restore the heart of Tafiti which she alone believes would save the island from destruction.
We might not all be future village chiefs but each one of us must break free of our parents’ or social expectations to discover what makes us tick and fills our soul. We too must face our fears; our fears of failure, fear of not living up to our peers, fear of being second best, and our fears of getting stuck.
When I speak to peers or mentees after they’ve gotten their first or second job, they express to me a drive to work hard, to never make mistakes and to get everything right the first time around. I challenge you though, “What will actually happen if you take on a project that is new to you and you royally screw it up? Is it possible you’ll get fired? Yes, of course but is that likely? On your first or second big mistake, probably not. I’ve sat on quite a few hiring committees and one thing I’ve learned from having to read all those boring cover-letters and resumes is that, it is much more expensive to hire and woo a new person then to deal with the current mess of an employee that the company already. Take some comfort in that.
Moana’s lesson in wayfaying across the sea was not free of setbacks and failures. There are many moments of defeat that she could have easily used as an excuse to turn her boat around and head back home. She falls asleep during her lessons with Maui, she gets lost more than once, her boat capsizes, and she is even tricked by Maui and left boatless on the island he had been stranded on for years. None of theses scenes were her shiniest moments. Lucky for her, she was on the water, mostly alone for miles, so there was no one to be a testament to her many screw-ups. Regardless of the magnitude of her mistakes, each time, she dries herself off and continues to pursue her mission.
We can learn resilience and bravery from Moana. She was told repeatedly, that she would not be able to sail across the sea and return the heart of Tafiti. But, time and time again, she faces her fears, even jumping into the realm of monsters to help Maui get his magic hook back. There’s nothing scarier than that except perhaps being in an interview room with ten interviewers at once.
There were times that Maona questioned her own legitimacy and mission, which is quintessentially millennial. At one point she begs the ocean, with tears in her eyes, to take back the heart of Tafiti and to choose another person to fulfill the mission. Like Moana, it is 100% normal to question your calling, especially as a young professional. Passions grow, they change, they evolve. The evolution can be difficult, even painful. When you’ve been pursuing one path for as long as you can remember and you suddenly realize that path no longer revs your engine, what do you do then? Do you wallow in self pity? No! Instead, try some self-exploration, some in-depth self-research. I guarantee that when you start to pay attention to yourself outside of social and familial expectation, you’ll find your path, that career that will bring you peace.
Another moment that felt particularly millennial, was Moana’s perceived greatest moment of failure. At this point in the movie, she’s fought through impostor syndrome and many bumps along the way, big and small. She finally makes it to Te-Ka, the monster that is blocking her way to restoring Tafiti’s heart. This scene was supposed to be her big, shiny, moment. You know the one. The moment equivalent to getting that big promotion, getting into grad school or starting your first company. Instead of restoring the heart, two of the traits that double as strengths leads to her failure: her pride and her stubbornness. Maui, who is older and wiser and more importantly has faced Te-Ka in combat previously, assesses the situation and urges her to re-evaluate their strategy. Instead of heeding Maui’s warning, she listens to her pride and her fear and drives the boat onward. My mom always did say: “If you do not hear, you will feel” and feel she did. Her inability to cast her pride aside in that moment resulted in a broken magic hook and her boat being hurtled halfway back across the sea.
Can any of you relate to this moment? When you would not heed the lesson of a parent, or mentor and ended up back at the beginning or losing out on an opportunity? It’s familiar to me. I can’t count the amount of times when I’ve overheard an older person complaining about the stubbornness of millennials and our inability to hear. I usually laugh because seeing situations through unique lenses makes us millennials amazing. The world would not be where it is today in terms of technology and redefining social norms without us. However, are bright octagon shaped lenses can be our biggest enemy if we are unable to reason or listen to compromise. As philosopher George Santayana once said, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ Like Maona had to learn, there has to be balance between forging ahead, challenging the status quo and also taking advice from lived experience into consideration.
In the end, with the help of her grandmother’s ancestral spirit, she verbally re-defines who she is and what the mission means to her both on a personal level and as the leader of her tribe. She stares impostor syndrome down reminding herself that she is a bad ass singing:
“I am a girl who loves my island. I’m the girl who loves the sea… I am the daughter of the village chief. We are descended from voyagers…”
She reminds herself of the importance of trusting her instincts and listening to her heart. She sings:
I’ve delivered us to where we are. I have journeyed farther
I am everything I’ve learned and more…The call isn’t out there at all, it’s inside me
It’s like the tide; always falling and rising.
That come what may
I know the way
I am Moana!
Sometimes we all need to encourage ourselves a little, even if that means singing out loud, alone in the middle of the ocean, about who we are and what are purpose is.
Moana got up, turned her ship around, sailed all the way back to Tafiti and this time was able to restore the heart to it’s rightful owner.
After her successful mission, she returns home triumphant, to claim her throne. In her tribe’s tradition, to formally claim the throne, you must place a stone on top of the leadership stone; each stone placed by the chiefs before her. In true millennial form, she accepts her role but alters the tradition to better fit her style, instead of an ugly stone, she places a conch shell instead. I personally think she might need to rethink her choice of declaration, as it will make it harder for the next leader to place their stone on the leadership structure. But all in all, loved the spunk and the integration of old and new tradition.
Moral of the story, to hell with those people and the little voice inside that tell you that you can’t do something. You can do anything you set your mind to doing, even if that is finding your passion and sticking to it.
I yawned and wiped the sleep out of my eyes. Then I stretched my hand out, feeling around the left side of my body for my phone. I find it, tucked slightly beneath my left hipbone. I unplug it and pick it up. As per usual, I opened the follower insight app first to check for the faithless unfollowers that I lost during the night. However, unlike other days, this morning I had awakened in Havana, Cuba and there was no data or wifi on hand. Instead there was a sign: “no available service”. I immediately felt a slight surge of panic, but just as quickly that feeling subsided and I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
It was in that moment, on an old creaky mattress on the floor in Cuba, that I realized that somewhere along this journey of Live.Laugh.Boss, I had stumbled off the wellness path and had started to embody the two things that I hate the most and advocate strongly against.
2. I had allowed marketing for my blog take over a large component of my life.
My first blog post launched on March 16 ,2017, and I’ve tried to be faithful in posting once a week ever since. I am not always successful with my weekly posting but I try to practice what I preach by being self-compassionate when I am unable to post on time. But that morning, laying on my uncomfortable mattress in Havana, Cuba, sun-blazing brightly through the silky, bright blue curtains; I realized it was the first morning in five months that the first thing that I saw was not going to be my Instagram insights.
In trying to grow this blog, I’ve become obsessed with taking photos, writing and posting to Instagram daily. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing the activities and taking the photos. However, there’s a part of me, an old habit, that has snuck back in to my wellness world: the compulsory need for perfection. I was spending hours of my time, editing photos and blog-posts, re-taking photos that were good enough. Wanting to kidnap and freeze every moment in time to share with all of you, instead of just living my life and allowing the blog to be a part of it.
I know that this is a part of the growing process as a new blogger, figuring out the balance between work, fun, play and life. I’m still learning how much of my life to share and what parts of my life need to remain strictly private to maintain my wellness journey.
Things I’ve learned thus far:
There are positives and negatives to entrenching myself in my blogging world. On the positive side, since I started writing Live. Laugh. Boss, I have felt more like myself than ever before. Encouraging myself to write as often as possible, working out consistently, eating healthily and finding new and exciting ways to enjoy life every single day, has been exhilarating. Writing the blog keeps me accountable to maintaining and documenting my chosen wellness lifestyle.
On the other hand, there’s the exposure. Prior to the birth ofLive. Laugh. Boss, I was not a frequent user of social media. I would actively check my Facebook or Instagram once a day, more to consume media rather than to add to it. Now, I feel like I am constantly checking the insights to see how many likes I have on a post or how many new followers or unfollowers I have. The consistency of it can be exhausting. The other negative is that I find that FONLU (fear of no living up) has found a way to sneak into my amazing blogging experience, working it’s hardest to steal the joy from this experience. I’ve noticed that when I post something particularly vulnerable or a piece that was particularly fun or life-changing to write, my ego takes a hit if I feel that people do not respond to it the way that I expect. For example, if it does not get the right number of likes, comments or new follows. Then, when I’m feeling low from the “failure”, I scroll through my Instagram and see a friend posting similar content that gets 200+ likes. Damn! That FONLU can sneak in and fuck up my afternoon but I’m determined not to let it.
So back to my mattress in Cuba. Since I was unable to check my Instagram or medium followers. I made a list of vows to myself on my phone to remedy the negatives of my blogging experience.
Here are a few:
I vowed, that no matter what, Live. Laugh. Boss will always be written for me, to express my opinions, feelings, emotions and thoughts.
I will not allow it to take over my life.
I will check my followers only twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night, either right after my daily 4pm Instagram post or right before bed. I will continue to live in the moment and not ruin the authenticity of all those moments by trying to capture them in a photo or video but will allow some of my wellness moments to continue to be private and just for me.
I will not take the loss of followers personally. It is not about me or the content, it’s about them. That’s okay.
I will choose two wellness activities per week that will be photo fasted. I won’t even take my phone.
These are the vows that I make to myself and to you all, Tribe. I pray that as you all venture through your own life journeys that you will take moments to assess yourself and your actions and not be afraid to make changes that are right for you and your sanity. Remember, just because you have a set-back moment or you find yourself giving into FONLU, you are not a failure, it happens to the best of us.
I never understood why being a “pussy” was supposed to be an insult. We all know that vaginas are the coolest of all anatomical parts, because they embody resilience, strength and perseverance. People who desire to be successful leaders or entrepreneurs can learn a thing or two about Bossdom from learning more about the vagina.
Vaginas are habitual and resilient:
For better or worse, the life cycle of vaginas are strictly habitual and cyclical. It does not cut corners or eliminate steps when working towards the final product of a successful pregnancy. The vagina has a mind of its’ own and knows when it’s get-it on time. You know what I’m talking about, that “smarting” feeling down in the nether regions. It’s as if the vagina has its’ own google playlist featuring Trey Songs, Marvin Gaye, and Usher that starts to play in your pants right on time each month. The sexy playlist sends out physical signals to remind the person that ovulation is near and it is baby making time by changing the PH of the vagina, the stickiness, and the scent.
The vagina is resilient because it cannot always fulfill its’ monthly objective of baby-making. Sometimes, pesky obstacles such as abstinence, birth control, the pull-out method, etc. get in the way of the end-goal:
but the vagina does not give up on it’s mission even when it fails.
All Hail Vagina! The Pivot Queen!
When the body fails to conceive that month, the Vagina does not fret about it, she pivots instead, resulting in what can be an unpleasant but necessary menstrual period. In the moment, the pivot may feel uncomfortable and painful but come the following month, the vagina is back on schedule working towards reaching the outcome. One-day perhaps, it’ll succeed, until then, it never gives up, just tries and tries again.
Successful people are like the vagina. If at first, they do not succeed, they try again. They define their own benchmarks for success and they find methods to meet them. When they miss their benchmarks, they don’t beat themselves up, they analyze why they missed them, regroup and pivot. They recognize that pivoting is not an admittance of defeat but an avenue for growth. They do not wallow in self-pity but instead are determined and resilient to succeed.
Vaginas are Self-Cleaning and Self-Healing:
Vaginas are colonized by protective bacteria that helps to maintain the vagina’s healthy PH levels. The bacteria help the vagina to fight infections and to keep foreign invaders out. If it happens to get a micro-tear it’ll heal itself within a few days without aid.
Successful people are also self-cleaning and self-aware. They are cognizant about people and habits in their lives that are detrimental to progress. They cut off haters and Debby-Doubters and instead surround themselves with people that reflect the lifestyle that they desire to live. They analyze behaviors that hinder productivity and work to reverse them. They have a clear and concise mission but are not afraid to reassess, realign or cleanup their current processes to better fit their mission.
Successful people are also self-efficient and self-healing by being critical of themselves but also being self-compassionate. They are consistently reading and researching how to hone their crafts. They do not get stuck in their ways. If an employee or a work habit is affecting outcomes, they do not wait for outsiders to affirm their suspicions, they observe, research and cut-away the negative energy but they remember that the team is a living entity and will need time to heal, so they provide a space for healing and for team-members to tell their truths.
The Scent of the Vagina can be Affected by Diet:
A healthy vaginal PH is between 3.5-4.5 but that can fluctuate based on what a person is eating or coming into contact with. Vaginal PH can change due to semen in the vagina, douches and even ovulation, resulting in a change in the vaginal scent or worse in the case of the douches, a yucky yeast infection. The scent and even taste can change based on things that you eat. Pineapples and other deliciously sweet fruits have always been rumored to have a fruitier influence on the vagina’s taste and smell.
Like the vagina, successful people are aware of information and vibes that they intake or entertain. They keep the haters and ambition deterrents at arm’s length. Successful people know that consuming toxic vibes will shake your core and confidence instead of strengthening it. Be protective of your essence, your scent and your brand. Everyone will try to weigh in to your dreams, and your business goals. Successful people are careful of the advice that you take from people. Successful people also know the importance of building a healthy Tribe of builder-uppers. People that will encourage you and help to feed your soul, even when you are down or when you’ve taken a misstep.
Successful people know the importance of sorting advice. They maximize useful information and ditch the rest.
Remember, your vision was given to you and you alone so do not allow it to be clouded by another person’s vision for you.
No Two Vulvas Are The Same:
Every vulva has a different shape, color and scent that is unique to the vulva-holder. The vulva is unconcerned about what other vulvas are doing or not doing. They do not get jealous or feel sad because other vulvas have lighter periods then them, or push babies out of them faster than they do. They are proud of who they are and do what they must to survive and thrive.
Successful people are also inwardly rather than outwardly focused. They are unconcerned about what their friends or peers are doing. They are not jealous or feed into FONLU (fear of not living up) or imposter syndrome. They focus their energies towards being their best selves and reflecting that in their work and lifestyle. They do reserve an established amount of their energy to encourage and build other people up that are in their Tribe. Laying the groundwork for good karma never hurt anyone.
Vaginas are Hardworking and Have Diverse Functions:
Vaginas are the hardest workers! They can push whole beings out of the body and bounce back from that. How many other body parts can do that? Even though they have superhuman abilities to push out and sustain life, they do not limit themselves to this one functionality. No, no, no.
VAGINAS ARE THE GURUS OF DIVERSIFYING FUNCTIONALITY.
Not only do they work to produce life each month but they are also pleasure havens of love! They love to orgasm and try new things. They do not discriminate or limit themselves to one type of pleasure. They are adventurous and are capable of four distinct types of orgasm: clitoral, vaginal, blended and multiple.
Successful people also know how to be adventurous and diversify. They do not have just one gig or make money by only one mean. They diversify their incomes, have healthy social media presences and invest smartly. They are not afraid of change or taking risks, even when they are a bit scared of the outcome. They strive to be innovative even when that means doing something in a way that is different than they are accustomed or comfortable with.
Amid all that hard work, successful people also know when to relax, have fun and take care of their mental and physical health. They build self-care into their daily lives because they know that investing in their happiness and their bodies results in more productivity.
Please Note: I am aware that not all vulva-holders experience some of the anatomical phenomenon discussed, this post is not to discredit any fems realities or truths.
As you all know, I am the director of wellness services at a prestigious college in the Northeast. Contrary to popular belief, one does not become a wellness director, by getting a degree in eating kale, and/or reaching the heights of nirvana. Wellness programming has a basis in public health theory and is and should be based in evidence, not the most current fad.
In my department, we pride ourselves in being holistic; integrating both eastern and western wellness practices into our health services. We have acupuncture services, nutrition services, yoga, and we provide health education to young people. My health promotion team teaches wellness and prevention lessons on sex, relationships, alcohol, drugs, mindfulness, dating violence, stress reduction and much more. We conduct institutional research that informs policy and decision-making for the college. However, anytime someone asks me what I do and I tell them I am a professional wellness person, they automatically assume that I’m a yoga doing, smoothie drinking, pizza- hating chick; which is the farthest from the truth.
When did the concept of wellness become so pidgin-holed, so commercial, so acculturated and main stream?
Every time I try to make a poster or design marketing material for a new campaign, I type in #wellness and scroll through the first 100 photos on Instagram and Google photos to see the newest images. The images are always the same!!!
White chicks doing yoga, Bros lifting weight, Goji berry yogurts, protein shakes, salads galore, supplement ads and before and after weight loss pictures. Predictable!
NEWSFLASH PEOPLE: FITNESS AND NUTRITION ARE NOT WELLNESS!
Fitness and nutrition are components of wellness, they do not define the wellness field.
Guess what else?Wellness is inherently intersectional because every individual defines wellness for themselves and chooses the practices that best fits their lifestyles, cultures and beliefs. Some of the oldest facets of wellness practice, such as meditation, yoga, etc. are integral to cultures that are a part of the global majority. So why is it that when I type yoga into google images: the first 50-60 images are of white women?
The definition of wellness in the Caribbean is going to be different than the definition used in the United States, India or China. The snack that uplifts a person’s spirit in the Caribbean may not be a salad, but instead be a plantain. Does that make it less healthy? My wellness activity may not be yoga but instead walking or wading in the river. Is walking by the river any less of a wellness activity than yoga?
And what about the effects on the global majority due to the commercialization of wellness foods and activities like avocado and yoga? Now, because avocado has been deemed a healthy fat by the media, cultures that used avocado in their diets for centuries, can barely afford them now? I digress.
The Merriam Webster definition of Wellness is: the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.
My own favorite definition of Wellness is by John Valenty (CEO of wellness.com) “Wellness is the result of personal initiative, seeking a more optimal, holistic and balancedstate of health and well-being across multiple dimensions.”
The definition is pretty broad if you ask me. Wellness should be a state of being that we are all actively working towards every day, physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. When I say physically, physical wellness does not have to have anything to do with sculpted abs and legs. Instead it means:
Do I feel good in my body every day?
Am I getting enough sleep?
Am I taking the necessary preventative measures to insure that my body is operating at optimal performance?
Am I using condoms with new partners to protect my body against STI’s?
Reaching Optimal Mental and Spiritual Wellness should also be personal goals that we are consistently working toward. Mental Wellness is defined by the World Health Organization, as:
“a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Do you have a personal philosophy? Are you living it on a daily basis?
Is my mental space a healthy one, that allows me 100% learning aptitude and memory retention?
Do I wake up proud of who I am and what I’ve accomplished or will accomplish?
Do you take time for yourself and do things that make you happy?
How do you handle stress?
These everyday forms of wellness are not sexy. A picture of me sleeping soundly, probably won’t get many likes. Sleeping is a mundane, everyday activity. But, I would love to wake up one morning, and realize that the definition of wellness has shifted. I would type wellness into google images and get pictures of diverse groups of people or individuals doing everyday wellness things: walking, playing with a baby, resting, playing board or video games, having a dance party in their dorm rooms, throwing water balloons or eating ice-cream cones.
All of these activities are wellness because they allow our brains to rest and to smile. No two bodies need the same type of wellness in their lives, but everyone does need a few things: a little exercise, food in proportion, time to breathe and relax, healthy sleep, companionship and time to have fun.
Research shows that engaging in leisure activities, on a consistent basis, is beneficial to your health by reducing Cortisol in the Body
For all of us non-science folk out there. It’s super simple.
You know back in the stone ages when the huntress was out hunting and then the lion appeared on the scene to hunt her instead? THE ULTIMATE STRESS!
Luckily for us- our bodies are designed intelligently for fight or flight, releasing cortisol so that we run, instead of sticking around to be the lion’s supper. The cortisol hormone is released into the body to help us get the hell out of there fast! After we’ve escaped quickly to safety and the stress threat has subsided, the cortisol levels are supposed to return to normal.
It is imperative to engage in wellness activities that fulfill both the body’s need to relax and to reduce the build up of every day stress.
When the cortisol is released due to everyday stress, and we don’t “run it off” it leads to weight gain, acne and reduces the bodies ability to fight off infection.
The Moral of the story is:The wellness field is ginormous and is not limited to any one component but instead, encompasses the whole body: mind, body and soul. It is diverse. It is global and it is respectful of people, culture and beliefs.
Stop limiting wellness to your crunchy, fitness and body shaming definitions. Expand it to include activities that make you happy and optimizes your definition of a happy, healthy lifestyle. All things in moderation of course. Eating a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie might make you happy, but ten might be pushing it out of the wellness zone into an unhealthy one.
Tribe, GO out, LIVE your life, ENJOY good food! Be Happy in ways that make sense to you.
Two of my favorite events are quickly approaching.
The Weekend (Crowd Favorite)
4th of July (My Favorite Holiday)
I love the 4th of July because it is one of the chillest American holidays. There is an emphasis on community building and celebration but without the annoying burden of having to get dressed up for a stuffy dinner or brunch event. Instead it is all about the 5 F’s. My favorite work-life integration things:
FUN, FOOD, FAMILY , FRIENDS AND FIREWORKS!
As the 4th of July is always right before my brother’s birthday (July 6th), my family always gets together for a BBQ. Nothing pretentious: Just burgers, hot dogs and jerk pork. When we are feeling bored of tradition, we like to mix it up a bit and go away for the weekend. We essentially do the same BBQing, and chilling like we do at home or at the park, but somewhere else, like a backyard at an AirBNB backyard or an uncle’s house.
Some of you may be thinking about what fun activities that you can get into on a budget for a group of friends or family this weekend or for the 4th of July. I encourage you to be on the look out for fun deals to participate in activities that will transport you to what made your 10 year old self happy.
Work Life Integration does not have to be a financial burden on yourself or your family if you learn where to look and how to leverage discounts.
Here are a few tips I use to go on as many adventures that I can; both great and small.
1.Book flights on a weekday and during the off peak for cheaper tickets. If you can, wait a week or two before you are trying to go somewhere. Flights will be trying to fill their remaining seats. I wouldn’t try this tip during high seasons like Christmas, Thanksgiving etc.
I booked a round trip ticket to Cuba for the second week in July for only $297 by tracking google flights and flying during the week.
2. Use Skyskanner:Skyskanner has an everywhere search so that if you are hankering to go on a trip, you can just throw some travel dates into the date box and hit search. Find all the cheapest destinations that come up and pack your bag and head on out. If you are feeling really froggy and spontaneous, forget about entering the travel dates. By leaving those boxes blank, the cheapest destinations and flight time will appear to a bunch of different locations.
3. Join your city or town’s Free Activities Facebook Group.
I am a member of the NYC Free Parties and Events Facebook Group. Through it I’ve learned about fun free rooftop parties, free kayaking events, movie nights, Waterside parties, carnivals and even cruises.
4. Check with Your Company for Activities, lectures, and events that they are hosting for free or at discounted prices. Bring fun folk with you.
Last weekend, my cousin received discounted tickets to Hershey Park from his company. Instead of being selfish, he shared the discounted tickets with my sister, myself and his wife. We spent 3 days in Hershey, splashing and dashing around the park like children. It was a blast! The best part about it was that the whole weekend cost me under $150 for dinners, brunch, entry tickets and Airbnb for my sister and myself. Now that’s a win for the community!
5. See a local show at a theater.
If you wanna see a Broadway show for discounted prices sign up for NYC Broadway week. My favorite time of year. See all the shows you have been dying to see with a friend for half the price. If you aren’t a New Yorker. Make a weekend out of it. Grab an airbnb with a friend or three, camp out and see some shows!
6. Want to do a Paint Nite on a budget. The discounts are usually names of the instructors. I usually try a few generic names like Sara, Mia, etc. One of them usually works for 15% off.
5.Go to a Dayparty brunch.Want to party but hate going out late at night or paying covers.$50 can get you 2 hour unlimited drinks. Food and dancing at places like PS450 or Essex in NYC.
6. Head to a Farmer’s Market. I love food and free entertainment so whenever I can find a Farmer’s Market I head over to find fresh food and usually there will also be live music and art.
7. Museums and Zoos have free days. Find out when they are and go. Have a couple drinks before hand. It always makes the art even more interesting.
8. Game and Puzzle night with friends.Bring your people together for some BYOB and old school games like Jenga, Sorry, puzzles, Operation, etc. Leave room for some newer games like my newfound favorite Qwerkle.
9. Go on a hike or bike ride around your neighborhood. Stop and jump in the Sprinklers if it’s a hot day. Trust you won’t regret it!
10. Never discredit sites like Groupon, Living Social or Yipit. I can’t list the amounts of fun activities that I have been able to do on a budget with friends or by my lonesome. Wine tastings, spa days or weekends, obstacle courses, rock- climbing , ziplining, yoga, rollerskating and much much more.
11. Go to a Matinee or a $5 Tuesday at the Movies. Never forget about matinees at the movie theater or days like $5 Tuesdays at the Regal Theater. You can see 2 movies for the price of one. I know people always say they want to go at night but trust me, going to the movies early one morning where you might be the only adults in the theater can have its’ own perks. Trust me, I saw Moana at 11am for $5 with my sister. We were the only people in the theater. We bought in some wine coolers and sang along to the music. Truly a blast!
Enjoy your lives, my friends. We only have one life to live. I plan to live mine to the fullest. How about you?
One of my greatest challenges as a young professional has been fostering genuine friendships. Trust me, making friends has never been difficult for me. I have always been characterized as the social butterfly. However, as a young professional it has been hard to make new friends and maintain existing friendships for a few reasons:
Old Friends Are Hard to Maintain: Learning how to manage downtime and professional time is difficult after grad school. All of your friends are spread out around the country and it is a hassle to get your schedules all lined up perfectly in order to meet up with them for a few hours. You could talk on the phone but who does that anymore? Plus, when I get home from work, the only thing that I want to do is go out for a drink or a quick bite and then spend time with my e-family. aka. the stars of my Netflix shows. On the plus side, social media helps to give the illusion that I’m well connected, and my emoji conversations, keep me at least minimally connected with my college friends, so that I am at least invited to their weddings in the future.
Trust Issues: Many young professionals spend 8+ of their waking hours at work, making it nearly impossible to make new friends that are not work related. Work friends are cool and all, but until I know that you are a trustworthy person that I can let my guard down around….we are not going out for after-work drinks. It is even more difficult to make friends when you’re career is one where you are directly in competition with all the other young people around you.
People Seem To Forget How to Make Friends: More often than not it seems like every person that I meet has an agenda. They introduce themselves as their brand or with their title and by the end of the conversation they are trying to convince me that I could use their services. If they are not trying to make me their client, they are trying to find out who I know and how I can be a stepping stone for their career goals. I look into their eyes and I can see them thinking…”How many beers do I have to buy her in order for us to be considered friends? As a friend, will she then be a useful reference to me when I apply to X company?
AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR DAT!
4. Transience: Young professionals are nomads. One day they are in the cubicle next to you and the next they’re in grad school or some other company. It takes a hell of a lot of work and energy to put time into a relationship that will then slowly dissipate once they leave your office. I could tell you all about the strong relationships I thought I had built at my last job, but a year and a half later, the text messages take longer and longer to be returned. They do tell you that you go to work to work not to make friends. I guess that’s true for most people
SO WHAT THE HELL DO WE DO? I’M A SOCIAL PERSON AND I NEED FRIENDS?
When you find one of those rare gems of a work friend, when you go out, limit the amount of time that you spend bitching about work. Foster a relationship that extends beyond the walls of your job, or else when they move on to their next best thing, you’ll be just another thing they’ve left behind for someone new and shinier at their new place of employment.
Be Authentic and Less of A Tool: Unless you are at a networking event, introduce yourself with something that is slightly more interesting about yourself instead of leading with the highlights of your cv.
Example: Hey, I’m Josh and I love cooking paella, How about you? What do you like to do?
Be an Active Listener: instead of Thinking Ahead About How to Answer the Person or about how to one-up their answer, try listening to what they have to say. Respond when they’ve finished and you do not have to make yourself sound better than them. DUDE! We’re not in competition!
There is no need to try and one-up someone you’ve just met or try to impress them with your experiences or the list of important people that you know or have met.
Example of Douche Bag Conversation:
Person 1: Hey, I’m Shane and I love to travel.
Person 2: That’s cool, I’ve been to 35 countries in the last 5 years. So I love travel more but what’s your favorite travel destination?
Join a Club or a Meetup
Finding an authentic friend can be hard. Find a community with people that love doing the same stuff that you love to do. Hang out with them and share your love for yoga with goats but also talk about other things outside of your shared interest if a deeper connection is desired.
Allow Vulnerability: Nobody likes to be vulnerable or to let their guards down but in order to build deeper connections, it is necessary to let people into your world. I’m not saying to go around sharing your deepest darkest secrets with your work colleagues. DEFINITELY NOT THAT! But, be willing to let people in to see the side of you that you don’t show at the networking events, the parts of you that are goofy, the parts that are clumsy and a little bit ugly.
Don’t Take your Established Friendships for Granted: You’ve already put in years of work to establish bonds. Don’t let that invested time go to waste. Cherish your friends and make time for them. Don’t just make time for them when you want to party or vent about your problems. Actually make time for them to check in on their lives and celebrate their successes. Life is busy but don’t let it get in the way, Thank God for technology. It can help you. At a minimum, set up a monthly call with your closest 2 or 3 friends. It can be a solo chat or a 3 way video google hangout. Set the time aside so that it is accounted for, that way you won’t be meeting up for your friends graduation or wedding, reminiscing about the last time you hung out or spoke – a year ago.
In the last five years, there has been a push for millennials to turn to entrepreneurship or solopreneurship. The rational for entrepreneurship is sound and easy to gravitate to:
Have something to call your own,
Resist “The Man”,
Obtain Financial Freedom.
Less positive reasons millennials are seeking out entrepreneurship is to avoid FONLU, aka.
Fear of Not Living Up
to their peers or to the media’s contrived image of what a successful lifestyle looks like. Social media platforms like Snapchat and instagram contribute to FONLU by instigating the Keeping up with the Robinson’s syndrome. Who doesn’t want to leave in the middle of the week for a ski trip to Aspen with their friends? I would, if I didn’t hate snow and cold so much.
I’ve had friends, clients and students express that if they haven’t launched a startup or a successful business before age thirty, when compared to their peers, they will be considered “average” by the world and the media. Without their own business, they will never be “successful” enough to be featured on the coveted “30 under 30 stories”. RUBBISH ! So… not only are millennials pressured to pay exuberant amounts of money for letters behind their name, just to get a job; once that milestone is hit they must then also have successful business owner as one of their Medium tags. Both endeavors, likely to put millennials into even more debt than they already hold.
FONLU pressure stems from the media, our own lifestyle desires and fears about not living up to our dreams. A small component of FONLU may also stem from the 110 “specialized” life coaches that young people are inundated with on their social media platforms that ” have it all together”. These life coaches prey on young people, people of color and folk from lower socio-economic families, glamorizing entrepreneurship with the following catchy buzzwords: FREEDOMLIFESTYLE, LIFESTYLE TRANSFORMATION, FINANCIAL FREEDOM, IDEAL LIFESTYLE , LEAVE BEHIND YOUR 9-5, ETC.promising lives of travel, money, and complete control over their time. I’ve encountered life coaches that use shaming as their main marketing platforms. They prey on the client’s desire for success and make them feel bad about questioning the value of their service by saying things like “It’s your choice to invest in yourself” while in the same breath charging 5k for two, one hour long sessions. I call bullshit. Don’t get it twisted- I’m a total believer in taking risk and investing in yourself at all cost; but it should be on your terms, not someone else’s.
Tess Porter, a spunky LA-based actress, is a novice to the acting world but is already killing the game. In just one year, she has been featured in several short films such as “Escape” an American Film Institute short film, and “Under the Pieces” which is screening this year at the Cannes Film Festival. For more information about Tess Porter, see bio below.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Porter about her experiences thus far as an actress: the good, the bad and the ugly. When I first shared my intention to interview the budding actress, people were confused about how a career in the performing arts would be able to provide lessons for them as developers, medical residents or a broker on Wall-Street. As I predicted however, many of the themes we’ve discussed thus far in posts like Herd Mentality (impostor syndrome, stress, and development of a self-care routine) were no strange concepts to Porter, and emerged organically in our conversation.
Here are 5 Quick Tips from Tess Porter To Maintaining Work-Life Balance and Connecting With Your Truest self at Your Job:
Define Why You Do What You Do:
In my conversation with Porter, she described to me the windy road that lead her to the film industry. She did not always wish to be an actress. She went to school for psychology and then moved to Florida and got a job in retail. She talked about some of the emotional baggage that she moved to LA with and the struggles that she faced auditioning for roles. She navigated depression and loneliness but kept those feelings to herself. “Hiding my depression and replacing it with Happy Tess became my own personal character everyday.” She characterized herself as a perfectionist and credits perfectionism as one of the main limitations that kept her from being the best actress that she could be. She was having a hard time connecting with the characters that she was playing, because she would overcompensate each role for it to be perfect. It wasn’t until she leveraged advice from one of her acting coaches, that she was able to finally let go of acting the put-together, perfect actress. He reminded her that being an actress is not her whole identity but a component of who she currently is and who she will become. He encouraged her to connect with herself, her pasts, her struggles, her strengths and to channel all of it into the reason why she is pursuing an acting career. Porter emerged from that lesson with a renewed sense of self and intention for acting; “to tell different truths are real world stories.” She states: “it’s important to have a sense of who you are first and foremost. If you don’t know who you are, look for it.” Now before most auditions and during her quiet times she works not to perfect her character but to bring herself fully into the moment. She chants the following:
“I am Tess Porter, Daughter of Deborah Royce and Pliny Porter. They raised me to believe in myself and to be strong. My purpose is to bring the stories of people and communities to life through the performing arts. “
2. “Take Space and Make Space” for Yourself, Learn to Take Necessary Pivots
Porter also describes the mental and physical stress that coincides with being in audition mode and the Hollywood lifestyle. She describes one of her typical days as attending one or two acting classes and then shuttling around the city to different casting calls, having to “be on 24/7”. On a really busy day, she might be attending four commercial casting calls. Her perfectionism would cause her to become “obsessed” pushing her to take more classes and to cram as many auditions as she could into one day. She stated that she pushed herself so hard in auditions that she ended up spraining her ankle and ending up in a boot. Even when her doctor told her to take it easy and to rest for 6-8 weeks, she felt like she was letting herself and her career down. Reflecting on her feelings during that experience she said: “I don’t have time for that, if I’m not hustling then I’m not making money”.
Porter realized that by exerting herself to “push through her injury” was setting her back, rather than pushing her further. It was taking a toll on her. She had to recognize that she was spiraling. She had to make space for herself to slow-down and make a short-term career pivots to re-discover a physical and mental well space within herself. Instead of her usual auditioning, she tried something new: voice acting and found that she liked it.
RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU’RE SPIRALING AND MAKE THE SPACE FOR YOURSELF TO RECENTER!
3. Integrate Wellness into Your Work Day
Porter’s experience forced her to re-evaluate the way that she self-cares and how the lack of an established wellness routine had negatively impacted her health and career. Now, she now has a rigid, more balanced, wellness practice that is integrated into her work days.
Her General Schedule is as follows:
Morning Meditation or Morning Mindful Walk
Class / audition
Sit down Lunch*
Work with acting Coach/ mentor
Yoga/ work out
Dinner/ social life
4. Don’t Over-analyze Everything
When you over-analyze everything you miss out on the authenticity of a moment, an experience or a character. Life is like auditioning for a casting call: “Make a choice about your character and roll with it. Be firm about your choice. If it isn’t what the director is looking for, it doesn’t matter… you’ve already done your part.”
5. Utilize Your Mentors
Porter described the importance of having mentors to keep her grounded and to provide encouragement. A good mentor will be honest about their shortcomings and insecurities and they’re methods to overcome them. Reflecting on her own mentors, she states: “They reminded me that I will not always succeed and that’s okay!” If you work intimately with mentors, they can also serve as accountability partners. If they are good mentors they will be able to know when you are over-exerting yourself or when you might not be giving your all and they will remind you to re-center. Porter says that she’s been told : “You’re doing too much. Go to the movies by yourself or with friends. Take a break. ”
I asked Porter what was the best professional advice she ever received that she would like to share with other young professionals. She said:
“It’s important to persevere and go for what you want. It’s equally as important to take care of yourself. Find times to laugh, be with yourself and self-care in whatever that means to you. Read, draw a bubble bath, scream once in a while and most of all have a sense of who you are. When you go looking for jobs, have confidence. Remember that the producers, casting call people or theemployers always want you to be the THE ONE when you walk in.”
Everyone is a boss in their own right and has a lesson to share that will help another person. If you would like to be featured on LiveLaughBoss or know someone that would have something to share, please shoot us an email Here.
Tess Porter grew up in Los Angeles, Paris and New York. She credits her peripatetic youth and her bachelor’s degree in psychology to a deepening of her insight into human behaviors. Tess began her acting studies in New York at the Barrow Group, but Los Angeles soon beckoned. Tess hit the ground running when she arrived in LA last year, immersing herself in Scene study, Audition Technique, a Comedy Intensive and voice training at Scott Sedita Acting Studio. Her passion and determination drive her forward and her humor keeps her smiling.
Follow Tess Porter’s work on IMDb and Twitter for updates on her journey.