There are SOOOOO many buzz words that are popular right now to describe the things that we would like to accomplish in the new year. Some people still call these “resolutions” which is a somewhat dated, but widely used. Some people simply create yearly goals for themselves. However, lately the word “intention” has been highly popular and has stuck with those who take any interest in mindful living or practices.
Whatever you call these goals, coming up with a clear vision for your year and your life is super important. It has been said time and time again that we create our own realities.We manifest the things that happen in our lives. We visualize and speak truth over our lives, as crazy as it sounds. I one hundred and fifty percent believe this to be true whether in a positive or negative fashion. I believe that if I tell myself that I suck at something repeatedly, that will be my reality. If I tell myself that I will be wildly successful, then that will be my reality. Now, this doesn’t mean that suddenly I am going to sing like Whitney Houston or grow 6 inches and be an international supermodel at 26. What it means is that, so much is possible if we actually believe that good things can happen to us and that we are deserving of those good things. Being able to clearly define what you want to accomplish or be more aware of makes you more likely to make it happen in your life.
I wanted to share the intentions I have set for 2019 with you to motivate you to really think long and hard about what your focus is for this new year and for your life in general. Now, I do believe that goal-setting and intention-setting are a bit different. In my opinion, setting intentions is more like defining focus areas for your year rather than explicitly listing items one would like to accomplish in a checklist format. I think that intentions can have a more spiritual overtone and are about living your life on purpose in a different way than goals. However, I also believe that there is a ton of overlap between the two. So anyways, here is my short list of intentions for 2019:
Build my business – I want to eventually work for myself completely so this is a no-brainer
Take care of my body – I want to eat better, listen to my body, exercise sometimes, and rest when I need it
Make more friends – I really want to master the art of making friends as an adult because as of now I could use some help in that department and that is OKAY.
Buy a home – I literally just want to be cozy and have lots and lots of space in addition to creative control over the place.
Slow downnnnn – I want to be more present, work less, feel more, enjoy every moment.
Travel often – This goes without saying but like literally I love traveling and I want to take every opportunity that comes.
If you haven’t set your intentions for 2019, think about what your high impact improvement areas are currently. I emphasized mental health this year because last year was mentally challenging for me and I saw through blogging and just talking to friends, that we really do create our realities and have the power to shift those realities by making changes to our habits. A second high impact area for me was career/finances because I consistently struggle with fulfillment in any job, especially those with longer hours. I really wanted to focus this year on moving past my disdain for working for someone else and into my desire to live a life that is full of so much more than what I do for a living.
What are your intentions for this year? I’d love to hear some of your goals, resolutions, or intentions for 2019!
During my time traveling, chatting with followers, or chatting with friends of the blog and shop, I am often asked where I’m currently living. If you know anything about me, you know that I love to explore new cities. I also have always longed to satisfy a certain obsession I have with discovery, travel, and change.
I wanted to create a blog post about my experience living in Austin so far for the past 2 years. Some of you may be thinking about making a move or you may just be curious about my experiences in the places I have lived. Whatever your interest, I wanted to give you a raw, honest, look at my feelings about living in Austin.
I have been very vocal about the fact that I am NOT a huge fan of living in Austin and it is temporary for me. SO here is my rationale for the opinion. I have decided that the best thing to do would be to organize this post by pros and cons of living in Austin. I want to provide things I like and things I dislike about Austin. Lastly, I want to preface this post by saying that everyone is different. I can’t tell you whether you can live in Austin or not. I do not know anything about you as a person. I can only give my experiences and thoughts based on my time here as a African-American female in her 20s. With that said, here are the things I like about Austin:
There is so much to do in Austin – There are so many things to do here, that a 20 or 30 something will almost never be bored. If you are looking for fun, chances are you will find it easily in Austin whether you are a night-owl or a day adventurer. We host music festivals including ACL and SXSW each year. There are also countless happy hours, brunches, and live music events going on ALL THE TIME. Sixth street is a strip known for the variety of clubs, bars, music venues, and food that make Austin come alive on weekend evenings. There are amazing activities and green spaces available for nature enthusiasts. From fishing to hiking, kayaking, and biking, a nature-lover will truly fall in love with all that Austin has to offer. There are lots of lakes, trails, green spaces, and parks in and around the city. Also, I can literally wake up on a Saturday and google “things to do this weekend” and come up with an abundance of activity choices for myself.
2. Weather is amazing- I love living in places with warmer weather and so theres isn’t much to say here. I really enjoy the super long summers and short winters. I enjoy the abundance of sunny days and the fact that it is not quite as humid as Houston or other cities closer to coastlines.
3. People are friendly- I would say that of all the cities I have lived in, people are probably some of the nicest in Austin. It can be super intimidating to move to a new city, not knowing anyone, going places alone, and trying to make friends, especially as a woman. People in Austin have been very kind and very friendly. That can be really hard to find in major cities. Austin is a mix of liberalism and a little bit of southern hospitality.
4. Austin is Beautiful – Simply put, Austin is very aesthetically pleasing. From the abundance of green spaces to the clean streets and hipster neighborhoods, Austin is adorable. I love that there are lots of places where you can simply take in the scenery and enjoy the views. Austin has lakes, rivers, rolling hills, adorable wineries, vintage shops, and all the “cute” stuff that tends to be fun to look at in addition to stunning landscapes.
Austin is clearly an awesome city with lots of potential to be an amazing place to live. Now, here are the things I do not like about living in Austin.
Lack of culture (living in Austin while Black) – Austin is whitewashed, gentrified, hipster-land. Most of the people who live here are transplants from California and other parts of the country. Austin is honestly just not culturally diverse enough. Yes, there is a large Latino population, not so large black population. The black population is also currently declining in Austin. Additionally, there are not enough spaces where Black professionals (not college students) can enjoy diversity or familiarity in food options (think soul food, caribbean food, etc), music selections, or even just people that are of color. Austin is just not super inviting culturally for a young African-american working professional. There are spaces, but they are hard to come by and mostly cater to college students which brings me to number 2.Honestly, Im the only black person at my job and in most places I go which can sometimes attract those little things comments because of lack of education about black hair, lack of good black hair stylists, etc. Comment questions for more on this?
2. Austin is too college – With Texas State in San Marcos(about 30 miles away), University of Texas in Austin, and other surrounding colleges in the area, Austin can be very college sometimes. This means that students are everywhere and student culture is strong. It is hard to find a venue especially a bar where students do not go. This also makes some job markets a tad over saturated especially in the realm of what I would consider part time work or side jobs. Being 5 years post-grad, I don’t want to constantly be around college students in my apartment complex, at the bar, at restaurants, etc. I was once that age but I am not anymore and I would rather be around professionals in social settings.
3. Austin has way too much traffic- Because Austin is built around one major highway and is growing exponentially every day, there is a ridiculous amount of traffic on said highway. There is traffic almost every day of the week for most of the day. Traffic starts in the wee hours of the morning and depending on starting location, you can forget about getting to a downtown happy hour in a timely fashion. Parking and traffic are a nightmare. The city’s roads and highways literally cannot accommodate the amount of people moving to Austin. It is a very real problem and there is a lot of construction in progress to remedy the issue. However, that actually temporarily makes the problem worse because there is heavy traffic and ongoing construction on the only major highway in and out of the city. Yeah, what a mess!
4. Austin has a high cost of living and low salaries – Something that makes it really difficult to like Austin is that for my particular industry (education), the pay is very low considering that Austin is an expensive city. However, rental prices are high in Austin and surrounding areas. I don’t know if this is true for the pay of those in other industries. Rental prices are high because everyone is moving to Austin, the tech scene is booming, and the city is gaining popularity. If you are wanting to live in the actual city of Austin, 1000 a month really won’t get you that much as far as rent goes. Under $1000, apartments are tiny and lack modernization. You have the option of living outside the city but then you face traffic issues and longer commute times. Again, I can’t speak on too many other industries but education pay is low and cost of living is higher than in other areas of Texas or even other southern cities.
So there you have it…
This was my comprehensive opinion on living in Austin especially as a black female. Maybe you are looking to move here, already live here, have visited or are looking to visit. Please comment below and let me know what you think? What has your experience been living and working in Austin or even visiting?
For the past few weeks, I have been swamped at work. I have been surviving on crackers, breakfast bars, and 5 hours of sleep. I have been eating takeout and drowning in mostly job dissatisfaction and a little bit of “I hate that I don’t have enough time to…”. Trying to “adult” is truly so hard and there is really no other way to say that. It’s that weird time in my life when I have to learn how to perform a balancing act. However, I’m continually dropping the balls of life and trying to re-focus my efforts. During these times, what helps me the most is taking a day, an afternoon, even an evening to get my sh*t together. Sound familiar? Read on for details on my GYST routine.
The following list of things is just a bunch of stuff I do when my life is something like organized chaos and I am barely getting everything done. This is simply a list of things you can do for a soft reset on a tough week or month or to just re-focus yourself and organize your life if you are feeling unbalanced.
When I’m feeling super out of whack, I literally go through my clothing, shoes, accessories, household items, old mail, and get rid of any unwanted items. I make space, organize items, and just remove anything that is outdated, no longer needed, and generally no longer brining me satisfaction. Later on, I can replace the items with new ones or make the decision to just do without them. For example, I declutter my closet and every so often I find at least 6-7 clothing items I either sell or donate. The lack of clutter can also bring much needed mental clarity by clearing up physical space.
I mean I guess this one seems obvious, right? When I feel like I need to reset my life, I always clean and organize. I take the time to deep clean things like laundering every dirty or frequently used item in the house, including not only clothing but rugs, kitchen linens, and throw pillows. I wipe down or dust hard surfaces and rearrange items in the house for a more polished or organized look. I am always sure to put laundry away neatly and sometimes I organize that messy towel cabinet or dish cabinet that needs attention. Try to clean or organize something that you have been wanting to clean for a while. It generally gives you a sense of accomplishment to check it off your mental to-do list.
3. Light candles & journal
Seems like a bit of an odd combination, but this can be really relaxing to do as I sit in a clean, well organized room in my house. Burning essential oils or lighting candles gives your place a relaxed vibe and journaling is an important part of self care. When I am performing my GYST routine, I usually take time to write down things I am grateful for and some things I want to manifest into my life in the next week or maybe month. I have so many different kinds of journals that I use to really invest time in myself when life gets hectic.
4. Meal Prep for the next couple days or just cook something
Honestly, cooking doesn’t happen as often as it should sometimes in my house because at the end of a long day sometimes cooking is the last thing on my mind. Part of my GYST routine is to cook a large meal that I can possibly continue to eat for the following couple of days. It makes me feel so organized because its one less thing I have to do. I can use my time the next day working on some other thing on my to do list. Once it has been done, cooking makes me feel like I have plenty of time to get things done. the illusion of time in tun makes me feel like I have it together. Also, being able to grab a pre-made healthy lunch and just go to work is probably one of the best feelings known to man or woman.
Put together a to-do list, update your calendar and planner, and just organize your agenda. This is so important because it really puts you on the right track to staying organized for a while. Making sure that your agenda is solid and you have reset your method of organization of dates and plans really makes things a little bit easier, especially when you stay consistent. Make a to-do list of all the small things that have been getting overlooked like making that doctor’s appointment, going to the dmv, getting an oil change, etc. This step will motivate you to get those little things done and feel more organized in the process.
There are so many other things you can incorporate into your GYST routine. Please comment below with things that you do when you need to get it together and get organized after rough week or month.
We float along in our careers, relationships, and personal matters subconsciously writing a narrative for our lives. We paint our strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, and quirks through these stories. Then one day, something happens that totally rattles the foundation of everything we believed that story to be.
Recently, as I gave thought to the shift happening in my life and the long overdue career shift that needs to happen for good, I had a conversation and an epiphany. The conversation was around growth vs. fixed mindset and how we do or do not limit ourselves in everything we do based on our adoption of one or the other. As I started to discuss what growth mindset meant to me, I realized that I have been limiting myself for so long based on the idea that I am not “good” at certain subject areas or things. I had subconsciously floated along with the attitude that I couldn’t do something because I wasn’t good at it. The problem with that attitude is that it implies that in life, we are what we are and we get what we get. It implies that we, as human beings cannot grow, cannot change, cannot learn, and cannot master new things. This simply is not true.
Knowing about growth mindset and living it are two completely different stories. I have always known the definition of growth mindset, but I have never truly lived it. If for just one week, you adopted a growth mindset about things and changed some of the limits you have placed on yourself, your life could change in measurable ways. However, imagine if we changed many of those limits over the course of our lives. Our lives could be written completely differently. We could be living more abundantly, learning more, growing more, and more quickly finding our purpose through challenging ourselves.
How to Fix your Mindset to Promote Growth
For 10 years, I told myself that I couldn’t pursue a career that had anything to do with science or math because I was never “good” at those subjects. I placed educational and career limits on myself. When I look back and think about where I could be if I allowed myself the space to grow and be fearless in the pursuit of my purpose, my only regret is not truly believing in the power of growth. Growth mindset in action can change your life. Fix your mindset to promote growth by:
remembering that it is never too late to do anything
having faith that skills and strengths can be learned and developed
being willing to put in the effort to see results
avoiding thought patterns that tell us we are born with the skillset we will have throughout our lives
I have always been a person who says “if you don’t like something, change it”. One of our truths is that we can change the things about our lives that we don’t love and we are powerful beyond measure. We have the power to paint our lives the way we want them to look, using vivid colors in some areas and neutral tones in others. Love yourself, but also grow yourself. The only limitations are the ones you put on yourself. The sooner you realize that, the more you can accomplish.
There’s a lot to be said about gratitude journals. They are effective and work for different people in different ways. I find that when I am extremely anxious and need to wind down before I step foot outside my workplace, writing down a few things I am grateful for can shift my focus a bit. I look at those things and I tell myself that life could be a lot worse. I mean everyone has something that they can be thankful for in one way or another. However, what do you do when gratitude journals don’t do it anymore? What do you do when your stress level is beyond the point where a gratitude journal even scratches the surface on your anxiety and stress?
I find myself asking these very questions everyday because realistically, we lose control of our stress level sometimes. I find myself looking for other things to take my mind off work, all the work I do, all the work I need to do, being at work, working, and did I mention work? How do we take back control over our lives in ways other than writing down a couple things we are grateful for here and there?
Here are 5 things you can try other than writing in a gratitude journal to take the edge off the anxiety and stress. No guarantees, but it never hurts to try something new.
My go-to stress and anxiety buster is yoga. When I’m at the end of my rope with the muscle tension caused by daily stress, I run to the nearest yoga class and force myself onto the mat. It isn’t something I do regularly out of a lack of convenience and desire to commit to a membership. However, I recently discovered a cheap online yoga membership and am eager to see how that works out for me. Yoga melts the tension away and allows me to actually wind down and relax after a hard, long workday.
2. Read a Self-Help Book
I will say it is hard to sit down and read a book with a super busy schedule. However, nightly reading can take the edge off and give you something else to think about and reflect on during stressful times. I particularly love self help books because they relax you while simultaneously making you at least think about improving yourself.
I write posts for a blog so I mean…
Even if you think no one else will read what you write, just write something. I literally brain dump into the notes app on my iPhone some nights because there are so many thoughts I have to just evict from my mind. If you aren’t a writer, type. No one ever has to see it. Just stop letting negative thoughts, anxiety, and stress make a comfortable living space out of your brain.
4. Beautify yo’ self
Do your nails, hair, face mask. Doing some sort of self care, even if it is just one thing, can work wonders on your confidence and distract you from the stress. Making yourself look better makes you feel better. We don’t always have the time or money for a full makeover, but doing something, anything can make a small difference. Just try it and you will understand. I bought a gel polish kit and whenever Im feeling meh, I give myself a gel manicure that lasts for two weeks. I decompress and I enjoy my cute nails, making the investment totally worth it.
5. Meet up with friends or potential friends
I just moved to the Austin area about a year ago and for the longest time, I would make excuses about not having friends. I would barely leave the house unless it was for work or shopping. Recently, I went to my first happy hour with people I met on the Meetup app and it was like a whole new world opened up to me. There are so many apps, venues, and organizations that allow you to meet like-minded people who also don’t have a ton of local friends. I can’t use the “I don’t have friends” excuse much longer because it’s been a year since I’ve been in the area. Go out, live a little and don’t be afraid of being social. Having friends and a social life can really take a small bite out of the everyday stress bubble we allow ourselves to live in.
The other day, I found myself in my car, sitting in the parking lot of a crowded grocery store wondering when life became so routinized. My weeks have become bogged down with work, eating, sleeping, and doing it again. Meanwhile, my weekends have become laundry, cleaning up the mess that has accumulated throughout the week in my tiny room/apartment, meal prep, working out, and catching up on the sleep that I was deprived of during the week. My reality has become doing these things over and over and over and over. It has become so routinized that I have fallen into the rut of going as far as eliminating things I used to enjoy and replacing them with errands, chores, the busywork of life.
So there I am, in my car having a mini meltdown because I realized that my once joyful and creative life has become an extended business trip. Why do we prioritize things that bring us no joy and that bring little value to our life over things that make us happy? Why do we sacrifice so much of ourselves to get the busywork of life done? I asked myself this question this week and I ventured to find a solution to the rut I had found myself in so many times.
I decided to make a list because lists solve so many problems, right? I made a list of all the things that bring me joy in life like being with my significant other, hanging out with my closest friends, traveling, etc. My list consisted of about 12 items that really brought me sheer and utter happiness. Then I read through the list and checked off the number of things that I experienced on a daily or at least weekly basis. Of the 12 items that bring me the most joy in life, I experienced 3 regularly! THREE! How is that? If this was my truth, how had I gone on so long this way?
My big takeaway from creating the list was that it is so important that we incorporate joy into the everyday, especially when we find ourselves unintentionally eliminating the things that make us happiest because we are “busy”. After looking at the list, I decided that I would gradually try to reintroduce some of the things on my list back into my life. For example, I used to always binge watch shows on Netflix and now I NEVER do. Yes, television is poison and I should be reading books and doing yoga blah blah blah. However, I am a firm believer that everything we love should be enjoyed in moderation.
As 20 somethings, some of us get caught up in careers, money, problems, chores, responsibilities, love, and we forget to do what we love to do for ourselves. I challenge you to make your list! List all the things that bring you the most joy and then see how many you incorporate into your life regularly. You may be a pro at this. You also might be failing miserably at incorporating joy. It’s your job to find out and to rediscover what makes you happiest, then do it.
I haven’t blogged in so long and that is partly because I’ve been thinking about the re-branding of the blog. I want to be real with people and show readers that so many 20-somethings go through some of the same things and that none of us is alone. Teaching people how to become a slightly better version of themselves is so helpful and necessary, but there also needs to be a space where young women’s concerns, stresses, and just life experiences can be shared and acknowledged. There needs to be a space where young women, especially of color can be like “hey, other people go through this” and “wow, I’m not just living in the twilight zone”, considering the weird things that happen in your 20’s and maybe even 30’s (I’m not there yet so I wouldn’t know).
I still haven’t figured out what that looks like for the blog, although I do feel like vlogging fits into that space. So, that is something I am exploring at the moment. However, this week I needed to just write SOMETHING because as content creators, we don’t always have to wait for the perfect post or the perfect time to create and release new content. I also haven’t written anything in a while because I have been fully immersed in teaching 4th grade which has been an interesting and welcome change for me.
Anyways, vlogging is something I’m very interested in. Many people who read and love the blog have asked me to create a YouTube channel because some people just don’t enjoy reading. I totally get it. However, I am a perfectionist and don’t want to start making videos that aren’t quality as far as aesthetics, content, and just garnering people’s interest. It is the fear of failure sometimes that stops me from going full steam ahead with something. However, I’m taking my time to make an informed decision about whether vlogging is something I want to do and something I have time for realistically.
Where I’m at right now…
Next, I wanted to talk about relocating. I have relocated numerous times, depending on what you consider relocating. I went to college in Pennsylvania, close to Buffalo, NY. Then I moved to Washington, DC after I graduated to experience big city life and be closer to my hometown, Baltimore. I loved DC but it was a bit pretentious and expensive for my taste. However, I find myself missing DC now along with my dc friends and considering it a second home. After 2 years in DC, I decided to move south to Houston, TX for the warmer weather and the lower cost of living. I LOVED Houston and started to meet people and establish a life. Then, I fell in love with a guy who I am currently with (shout out to him and to love and all that stuff) and found myself in San Marcos, TX between Austin and San Antonio.
I must say I have managed to form a love affair with every place I have lived EXCEPT this one. I’m not sure what it is about the Austin area that just doesn’t do it for me. Maybe it is the fact that I haven’t made any friends here or I don’t get out much or that I live in a small college town and the big city is 30 miles away. Not sure, but I know that I am ready to move to a location that is ideal for buying a home and living long term. I have lived many places because I have chosen for my life to be that way, being a single 20 something. Now, I am growing and longing for stability and I think one more relocation is in my near future. Not sure where that will be, but closer to family on the east coast or in the southeast would be ideal. Any suggestions? I totally also want to write a post about my relocations and my experiences living in each of these areas. I believe that the place you live can have a major effect on your overall happiness and your life and plan to discuss that more in detail in a later post. Relocations are something that most 20 somethings either go through with or think about at some point.
My next post will be more structured perhaps, or maybe not but the Diary of a 20 Something will be a series of posts you can find under categories where I will chit chat about life, struggles, thoughts, ideas, plans, and the things that we face every day as we are in the words of SZA, stuck in those 20 somethings.