Sunday, April 28, 2013

Priorities and Back Burners

It recently occurred to me that the last four years of my life resembled a swinging pendulum vacillating between a series of things that were priorities for a few months and then swinging on to others. There was never a time where I just rested right in the middle balancing life, work, and love.
I think it's important for the most part to realize -- chances are that's never going to happen. 
Hate to be Debbie Downer here, but some things take priority in your life and require your full focus for a few months and then something else that's been on the back burner catches flame and then you have to focus on that. Kind of runs parallel with the whole theory no one has it all at the same time.
It's hard for people to accept, myself included, but sometimes we can't do everything.

So I've devised a plan. I decided whenever I feel overwhelmed or feel like everything I'm trying to do is getting 80% of my energy; I'll focus on one and give it 100%.
I was telling a friend of mine the other day (when she as well was struggling with this idea that we can't have it all -- at the same time) and sometimes you have to put things on the back burner that you don't want to like your relationships. In her case it was her friendships - I told her listen, you have friends for a reason we're always going to be there and yes we need nurturing and attention as well so we can grow together and not apart, but maybe right now isn't the time you're meant to focus on that aspect in your life. I'm learning you have to appreciate the graces that life gives you - like the really good friends that will speak to you like they miss you, but also talk to you like the time missed didn't change a thing. Or if your job is going really well, let it be! Focus that energy elsewhere. Now I'm not saying don't be a rockstar at your job, I'm saying you can always sense when you can breathe for a minute and take a look at something in your life that isn't going that well.

Take for example, when I first moved to the city my priority was survival - no joke. I had just been scammed trying to sell my bed on craigslist (so I was in the red) and I was moving to a city to start my first job where I didn't know anyone, and was also attempting to foster a new relationship. So yes, it was one of those times where everything was up for grabs and I was praying nothing would fall through. At the top of everything I just wanted to survive, eat and have a place to call home - and that's what I did. I put everything into understanding my new job so I could excel and I tried hard to keep my cat from running around the tiny apartment chasing the bugs... There were things that fell. I ran a marathon that year and didn't train as hard - ran my worst time so far and almost got picked up by the slow truck.
And that was then. But what I have now out of that 'season: priority just make it to tomorrow,' is the ability to know what it's like to be comfortable. Comfortable is the feeling you get when you can relax in a moment, you can be yourself and not that scared, anxious person; and that my friend is the goal.
I know when I write things like this it makes it seem like it's so easy or that I have it figured out, but let's be honest 1.) I don't and 2.) This kind of acceptance will be hard and it also might not always work. Life isn't a rhythm it's more of an undefined span of time with highs, lows, moments of acceleration and pause. But at least if you appreciate and accept, that you have a lot of things that matter to you and that you are only one person; then this small token of advice might help you ride the wave, pick your moment, focus, get comfortable then move on to the next thing.
Don't hate on priorities and don't stress when you have too many that need attention all at once. You have priorities to make you choose what will make you feel balanced if you attend to it in that moment. And when you feel like you're coasting take a look at something you might have set on the back burner a long time ago, maybe it's time that became a priority.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Strength to Endure: Boston

News is breaking about the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. I can't even imagine what that day was like for those runners. I've run four marathons and preparing for my fifth this summer. Let me tell you running 26.2 miles is tough, like really hard - not to mention at Boston when you have to keep a certain pace to finish within your qualifying time. I'm not saying that to brag (ps haven't run Boston), I'm giving you some perspective. These people are probably sprinting 26.2 miles. People say the stress of running a marathon is equivalent to the stress of giving birth. People talk about endurance - withstanding hardship - a marathon is that and you're tired. It's like you get to mile 20 and you think "I'm almost there," but your legs feel like cement and your body is in this constant motion begging yo
u to stop and keep going at the same time. After mile 22 if you pause at all your body doesn't want to start back up. You start to think irrational things like your arm might fall off or you'll fall over a crack in the road because you're not lifting your knees as high. Then you see the finish line - the end in sight...
And for some that moment was stolen. For more than 30,000 people running will never be the same. The relief of finishing an exhilarating race such as the Boston marathon is forever marred by a selfish act. You take a race that makes you feel invincible and tarnish it with destruction.
After Monday's news broke, I had friends and family members asking me if I was okay -- me -- I wasn't even there, I was thought to myself. Their sentiment was "well you're a runner..." and that was it. My family and friends revealed a small piece of evidence that has now permanently connected me to possibly millions of people in this world. And I did feel sad, devastated even for them, but I still can't imagine what that was like. As runners, we can only fathom the level of heartbreak something like this could create. It's kind of like when people say, "I feel you." I could literally feel the hurt of all those runners and people there to support them, but I can't know what that actually feels like.
As a runner I understand the physical exhaustion that probably set in as those runners neared the finish line and they were so tired they probably couldn't even cry; or more so I know there were some that cried hours later once there bodies finally slowed to a resting rhythm and their breath evened. I know that for some running will be a triumph shouldering the adversity of those that can't run anymore. Then there will be others who will fear running because on that day the spirit of endurance was stolen from them.
Running has always been the showcase of strength and character paired with determination and will power. This combination of features created by the heart propels you forward and ignores rules of impossibility and weakness. While, what running means might be similar for most, the reason to run will be different for everyone. But isn't it something to think that for one day, April 15th, everyone who runs will be running for the same reason? It's hard to see it now, but maybe this day in the future will create something that brings us closer together - as runners, a stereotypical steadfast community in practice who push forward through adversity and hurt and pain and we will make it out to run that day. If for nothing else to show you how good we are at enduring a challenge and to keep a promise that we will run again.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Turning to the Decision Makers

Courtesy of
I used to think my bf was being silly when he would say this, but girls really do give bad advice to their friends. It's like a weird version of peer pressure that can mess up your relationships, kill dreams, or make you miss opportunities. There's something about this age where we think we know just enough to advise our friends, yet we forget to encourage them, or we encourage them too much and don't let them make their own choices. Take for example one story I heard about a girl who kind of liked this guy. He made her laugh, they had fun together, there wasn't much to complain about, except one thing. The guy was a little more shall we say "alternative" than what she's use to dating (on paper) or what she imagined she'd date. So basically, he didn't check off the boxes of these arbitrary qualifications of pedigree. But in her mind because he was so off paper, dating this guy would've been a risk. On one hand it could turn out great, on another she could permanently decide to never date guys that fall in that alternative category and go back to her list. When she asked her friends about giving this guy a chance, they shot him down. They presented her with a myriad of differences, painting the uphill battle as something that would definitely happen versus a possibility.
So the girl never dates him. And of course, he turns out to actually be exactly the kind of guy she'd want to date - even possibly marry. But, she'll never know... stupid peer pressure.
Now in retrospect, is taking a risk and seeing it fail in a minor category like dating such a bad idea? I'm going with no, unless this guy was a criminal, dangerous, had bad hygiene -- why not take a chance?
 I have a theory that when girls turn to their friends for advice on these risky (but not that big of a risk) type of life's questions, they look for validation for the small voice in her head saying "don't do it." The girl is looking for her friends to say "listen, it's not worth it, go with what you know." Once the co-sign is there she never takes the risk. And chances are the girls will console her and spare the heart, but spoil the girl. I don't think this has anything to do with being a bad friend. It's a weird way girls process situations and field questions to their friends for support in the fall out or praise in the success. But when you never take that chance ... you just keep a peanut gallery of friends feeding you negative Nancy lines.
Taking a chance on whatever it might be allows you to grow; it allows you to find out what's right for you and what's not. And sometimes you are the only person that can really make that decision. I'm also learning my Dad is a good sounding board because he's known me ... oh my whole life. So when there's something on the line, and you worry that you might fail the only way to definitively know what will happen next is to try. And I know it's easier said than done, but even if you fail there's always something that can be learned from it.
Let's face it none of us are fortunetellers, but maybe encouraging people to follow their hearts is the best answer -- versus picking one way over another.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Naturally creative?

Ugh, I can't even believe I've neglected my blog for three + weeks. Well people, I'm back full force. Promise. This week's topic: Hair.
I rarely can pass a black girl on the street without asking her if her hair is natural, what her regime entails and if she has any idea how I can get hair down my back (without weave). I'm recently so obsessed with my hair because I'm noticing it's not 'retaining length' (that could be a whole other blog). Also I had a stunning revelation at a networking event the other week.
Picture it (yes I've been watching too much golden girls): two weeks ago yours truly was at an ad agency meeting new people. I was introduced to someone else in the creative department who was stunned that I was a copywriter because ... wait for it... I had straight hair and it was relaxed. Apparently the curl in one's tendrils also harbors creative juices. This person mentioned and I quote "well you know, most people that are black copywriters or art directors are natural and show off their curly hair."
Could it be that as diverse talent we've also become typecast into a natural curly hair-loving silhouette? Does my straight hair say straight-laced? Not crazy enough for creativity?
I find it interesting that before anyone even asks me about my experience I'm handed over for a litmus test to determine when I had my last relaxer.
Guess my faux-beach hair doesn't count either... huh?

Here's my theory -- creative people are judged by their ability to exude organized chaos. This goes hand in hand with the idea that creative people are also bad organizers (guess I'm 0-2). And not just black women -- you're supposed to dress down, sacrifice personal composition to fit in and appear as if you're living for the work - style optional. Odd, isn't? But back to black women and the need to declare natural on their resume, do you know why this amazes me so much? Because, natural hair is the second most calculated appearance altering tactic next to makeup. For those of you who do not know the definition of natural hair is un-relaxed (non-chemically processed) hair. It's the original state of your hair, the one you were born with unscathed and ideally undamaged. Now, to get to this original state of your hair there's a journey you must take, which brings me to the conclusion that this natural look is actually completely contrived. I mean it takes me an hour to watch hair tutorials on YouTube and people speed those up! 
The process takes time and the styles are adorable (on most) and because it's so "different" automatically gives you a check on the creative checklist. So, I'm being typecast for having straight hair (SMH). So I'm thinking about having an anti-journey and maybe starting a group for people like me ... if there are any more out there?
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