Leaving My Complaints About Pollen in the Dust

3598581828_30f1b91bcf_o

Whenever spring rolls around, I find myself asking, “Should I go outside to enjoy the beautiful weather that I’ve been waiting on for so long?” Or, “Should I stay inside to avoid suffering from the side effects of the pollen that heavily coats the entire city?”

More often than not, I stay inside. Because truly, nothing (and I mean nothing) is left untouched by the pollen here in Atlanta that aggravates the allergies of nearly everyone I know. I’d never witnessed anything like it before moving to the South.

For those of you who have never experienced this, try picturing a black parking lot that looks as though children have fully covered it in pale yellow sidewalk chalk. Got it? OK.

Now, let it hit you that the pale yellow sidewalk chalk is actually just pollen. And then let it hit you that, even during a strong thunderstorm, the pollen never completely washes away. It instead mixes into the puddles of water on the side of the road, creating a nasty buildup that you (and your body) simply can’t miss.

Oh, the pollen.

For me, taking our dog Roxanne on just a 10-minute walk in the morning is enough to set my allergies on fire. I’ve been living in a Zyrtec haze the last couple of weeks to try to keep the pollen under control, but who am I kidding? The operative word in that sentence is try, seeing as Zyrtec can’t fix everything. Even after taking Zyrtec, I still have constant sneezing fits (they happen in threes, by the way), I sniffle as often as a dog sniffs (in other words, all the time) and I am always rubbing my itchy, irritated eyes (I know, I know, that doesn’t help with the redness or puffiness, and I just don’t care).

If you’re assuming that I do a fair bit of complaining about the pollen and my allergies, that’s fine. I’ll admit that you’re right.

But I’ll also admit this: I hate complaining. So what’s a girl to do?

16370376078_61fa6782b2_o

Today is a new day. And with it, I’m issuing a new challenge for myself: No more complaining about pollen, no matter how bad it may be. It’s time to leave it in the dust (pun intended, of course).

There is nothing quite like the transition we see from winter to spring, but instead of fixating on the wonder and allure of it, I sadly take advantage of the season and just complain about pollen — the one, single, isolated downside. It’s so easy to focus on the negative side of things, but it’s also important to look at the silver lining. No question about it, there are so many upsides to this gorgeous season.

I could go on and on and on about how I love the bright sunshine, blue skies, perfect temperatures and daylight lasting late into the evening.

Or the blooming flowers, shrubs and trees all around that are far too beautiful for words.

Or the call of birds early in the morning and the buzzing of the bees as they calmly make their way from flower to flower.

Or the peace I feel when the rain pitter patters against the windows and the boom of thunder shakes me deep within.

It is simply amazing.

So, here’s to kissing my complaints about allergies goodbye, no matter how hard it may be. I’m committing to this, just as I have committed to moving out of my own way when it comes to writing.

Will you join me? Comment on or like this post to say yes!

photo credit:
room with a view via photopin (license)
New Day. via photopin (license)

Add me on Bloglovin’ or Feedly

The Upside of Being Anonymous in New York City

10932467344_509b4e4e32_bYou’ve caught me in New York City on day two of a trip for work. We’ve had a hectic start to the week already, and I know it’s only going to get even busier. So naturally, as I sat here writing this in my hotel room last night, all I could think to myself was, “You really need to get some sleep. Seriously.” After all, it’s 11:30, and tomorrow, there will be a bright and early start waiting for me. (OK actually, it’s a before-the-sun-comes-up start.)

The problem is that I’m in the city that doesn’t sleep. (Thanks for the tunes, Frank.) When I’m here, I turn into a night owl – for those of you who know me, you know that I’m not a night owl. Not at all, not even close. And on a regular morning, I don’t begin my day with a caffeinated beverage to wake me up. Here in New York City – you guessed it – I do like to start my day with a hot cup of tea or a latte. It feels natural, as if that’s my daily routine.

What’s interesting to me is that this shift happens every time I’m here without exception. It happens immediately after landing at LaGuardia – my heart beats faster, I get that pep in my step and it feels as if my mind is suddenly jolted awake.

Granted, New York City will infuse a new supply of energy into almost every visitor. The skyline and the millions of people and the constant movement on the streets will make anyone’s eyes open wide in wonder and curiosity. For me, New York City infuses a new supply of creative energy – that, my friends, is what turns me into a night owl.

When I’m here, my mind simply doesn’t rest. And the wave of ideas rolling their way into my thoughts without ceasing are only compounded by the fact that, as long as I’m in New York City, I am completely anonymous.

No one knows why I’m here. No one is watching me. No one knows who I am. And I love that.

That sense of anonymity leads me to believe that I’m completely free to think, speak, do and feel whatever I desire without having to worry about meeting anyone’s expectations. And I’m moved to act on that – to go through with what the creative, less rigid side of my brain is pushing me toward. Like a child, I can do and be whatever I want. 

14700477843_9fbffc9683_b

Now, that is not my norm. My creativity and spontaneity are stifled because I put the expectations of others before my own.

I realize I’m more concerned than I should be about what others think of me. For my entire life, I’ve been internally driven by the acceptance I receive from peers and superiors alike, and that train is showing no signs of slowing down. (Even though I know the truth is I don’t need anyone’s acceptance – evidence here and here.)
But what if that train did slow down? What if, for one day, I tossed my concern for whether others would accept me to the side? What if I allowed myself to think, speak, do and feel whatever I desired in that moment?

I’d be bolder and more courageous – less timid and afraid.

I’m grateful that New York City brings out this side of me that is bursting from being held in for so long. It shows me just how much I’m missing from day to day – or rather, just how much I could gain from day to day if I would only refuse to act solely according to my desire for acceptance from others.

How have you gotten past the tendency to make decisions based on what others might think or expect? Leave a word of advice in the comments!

photo credits:
‘Late Afternoon Sun’, United States, New York, New York City, Park Avenue via photopin (license)
Bliss Street via photopin (license)

Add me on Bloglovin’ or Feedly

Unplugging to Recharge: 40 Days of Limited Cell Phone Use

22202104570_ae3001096e_b

You may have heard of Photographer Eric Pickersgill’s portrait project, “Removed.” (If you haven’t, check it out.) Pickersgill’s portraits are utterly striking, but not because of the elements — like composition or lighting or background — that make portraits great. Rather, it’s what’s missing from the portraits that will strike you: cell phones.

Pickersgill writes:

Despite the obvious benefits that these advances in technology have contributed to society, the social and physical implications are slowly revealing themselves…personal devices are shifting behaviors while simultaneously blending into the landscape by taking form as being one with the body. This phantom limb is used as a way of signaling busyness and unapproachability to strangers while existing as an addictive force that promotes the splitting of attention between those who are physically with you and those who are not.

His project tugged deep at my core and forced me to realize how much I’ve allowed technology to consume my daily life — especially when it comes to my phone.

23520846131_16c814de6e_o

After waking up in the morning, I often go to the kitchen to pull my cell phone off its charger (giving myself props for not keeping my cell phone at my bedside) and then crawl back into bed to scroll through what I missed on Instagram. I walk around with my iPhone in my hand wherever I go, although there’s a perfect pocket for it in my purse. At dinner with friends, our phones lie on the table with screens flashing intermittently, distracting us to no end. And in the evening, I scroll some more, right up until the moment before I call it quits and go to bed. But evening slumber never comes easy, and it’s far from a good night’s sleep.

All this would all make me sad, yet I would still allow myself to give in, as if I couldn’t say “no.”

I’m speaking for myself here, although I’m 99.9 percent sure it’s true for you, too. I was so addicted to my cell phone. So addicted to the instant gratification of something new and unexpected and unpredictable popping up on my screen. So addicted to the validation from likes and comments on social media. So addicted to making sure I didn’t miss out on something.

9197295814_c98a3aeba3_b

That’s why I decided to fast from using my phone from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. — the hours of the day when I use it most, as I sparingly use it during the work day — for this year’s 40 days of Lent. To say it wasn’t difficult would be a lie; however, I was surprised by how quickly my phone attachment began to diminish. A huge part of that was from realizing just what I was missing: being fully present in amazing conversations, enjoying distraction-free quality time at home, seeing the beautiful details I always miss as I walk around with my head down and more. And since this was a fast, I also focused on filling the time I wasn’t on my phone with prayer, meditation and reading scripture. Being intentional in that alone led to such a restful peace that I can’t ever find another way.

And as I sit here at the end of the Lenten season, I’m reflecting on a few things.

  • First, I’m grateful that our God sent His Son to save us from our brokenness, and that Jesus is alive and ever-present with us. This fast would NOT have gone well, had I not looked to Him constantly. 
  • Second, I am over the moon that I forced myself to unplug because it forced me to hit reset and refocus in a way I haven’t ever done before.
  • Third, the effects I feel from consciously detaching from my cell phone are ridiculously amazing, and I can’t fathom how I allowed it to control me the way it did for so long. (Still a work in progress though.)

Last and most importantly, I’ve decided to continue this as a general practice for me — it’s far too much of a good thing to let go!

Have you had to force yourself to say “no” to technology for any particular reason? Would you ever commit to phone-free hours?

photo credit:
Holly takes a break via photopin (license)
Macbook Pro via photopin (license)
Despertador via photopin (license)

Add me on Bloglovin’ or Feedly

Bouncing Back on The First Day of Spring

IMG_6690

I published my last blog post on Sept. 1, 2014. Fast forwarding to today brings us to March 20, 2016 — the first day of spring, and the first day I’m bouncing back to blogging!

Yes, friends, it’s been that long since I last wrote here. To be honest, I was somewhat ashamed upon realizing a whole year and a half had passed. And that was without even a pseudo-farewell post to say, “I won’t be writing for a while.” (How rude.)

If you were consistently reading my blog at the time though, I’m sure you knew it was coming. Publishing four posts with gaps of four to eight months in between each of them (see for yourself: one, two, three, four) doesn’t necessarily scream, “This blog is SO active!”

But even when I was posting infrequently, it didn’t change the fact that I always experienced much happiness from writing here. I started this blog because I needed a creative outlet that would fulfill my desire to string words together and form ideas, narratives, stories…that you might be able to relate to. Not surprisingly, I’ve felt an obvious void since I stopped.

To get this thing up and running again, I had to make some commitments. I pray that these commitments will extend their reach beyond this blog alone and to all aspects of my life — what a difference that would make!

  • Save enough time. You can’t continue pouring out if your cup is empty. That’s something I learned the hard way. Loving others with a serving spirit and patient heart is so very important to me. But, I know now that I can’t love others as well as I’d like if I don’t commit to saving enough time to also rest, take care of myself and pursue my passions, such as writing.
  • Plan ahead. I’m a great planner at work and for other activities where I’m doing things for others. But for myself, I can be quite the poor planner, neglecting what actually means the most to me. For my blog, I’m committing to planning ahead (thanks to Wunderlist for keeping me organized) and setting aside a few hours each week specifically for writing.
  • Kiss perfection goodbye. No matter how much I plan, there’s bound to be something that won’t fall into place perfectly. In spite of that, I can’t stop executing, which is what I’ve  done in the past. Today, I commit to kissing perfection goodbye and pushing forward with writing no matter what, which leads to my last commitment…
  • Get back up. If I find that I haven’t followed through on each of these commitments, or that I’ve allowed my writing to come to a halt, I commit to getting back up. Simple as that.

Have you ever let a passion project fall by the wayside? How did you get back on track?

I’d love to hear from you now that I’m back in the game — don’t hesitate to comment!

Add me on Bloglovin’ or Feedly

All The World Is My School & All Humanity Is My Teacher

medium_12342050054 (1)
Countless friends of mine either have obtained or are currently pursuing their graduate degree. You’d think that I would look at them and think to myself, “Whew, I’m glad I don’t have to go back to grad school.” But instead, I’m looking at them and thinking to myself, “I wish I were going back to grad school…”

if you know me, that may not come as a surprise. I love to learn. And I value education. All my life, I never actually loathed having to go to class, and I never actually hated having to do homework. Sure, there were those days when I didn’t feel like waking up for my classes or completing an assignment, but in general, I enjoyed school. I took much pleasure in learning and still do — I thrive when I’m learning and giving myself a challenge, ultimately advancing myself.

That explains why grad school is such an attractive next step for me on the higher education track. But looking at my situation, it takes only two seconds to determine that the investment is not at all worth it for me right now:

  • I work in PR, where graduate degrees aren’t necessary to continue steadily advancing in your career (as opposed to some business scenarios, for example, when you eventually may need to obtain an MBA).
  • I am not looking to make a career change anytime soon, which means the education I’ve already completed is substantial.
  • If you asked me today, I wouldn’t be able to narrow down — with certainty –what I would select as my concentration for grad school. (That spells disaster when it comes to grad school, when there’s really no time to dilly dally or change your mind.)

With that said, my conclusion is this: When it comes down to the bare bones of it, right now, I simply need to pursue lifelong learning right now…not a graduate degree. Who knows, this could all change several years from now.

But until there’s a drastic shift, I’ll instead consciously set my sights on other avenues of learning that will help cure my desire to simply know more.

“All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.” -George Whitman

That quote from George Whitman really rang true for me. The desire for lifelong learning is at my core, and it’s something I know I must pursue. The beauty of it is that there are an infinite number of opportunities all around to learn meaningful lessons and skills — big and small — every single day.

photo credit: Chris Smith/Out of Chicago via photopin cc

 
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Follow my blog with Bloglovin