Vulnerability

V for Vulnerability

When I hear the word vulnerability, it’s like someone said the word “moist.” It just makes me queasy and uncomfortable. It’s funny because I used to think I had no issues being vulnerable, but what I really found out is that I’m great at keeping people at an arms distance.

The act of being vulnerable is uncomfortable, and I’m really bad at sharing personal details about my life.

I know what you’re thinking. “Sydney, you have a blog… about yourself. What are you talking about?”

I know, track with me for a minute. I do have a blog about myself, but much of what I share isn’t what I would call vulnerable information. I am willingly sharing it because it doesn’t take much out of me to share it. I share it because I love writing. I share it because maybe it can help someone else. But rarely do I share it with the intention for people to know the real me.

So about this vulnerability thing… For years, I’ve been praying for quality people and friendships to come into my life. I’ve wanted support groups, accountability partners, people who can look at me and say, “You’re not acting like yourself, what’s up?” even when I put on the facade that everything is good. I’ve wanted people who could call me out where I fall short, help me as I move towards sanctification, and much more.  Now, I’m finally in a position where I have those people, or I could have those people, but again, I keep them away.

I want you close, but not too close. I want you to know me, but only what I want you to know. Really I just want to be the introvert that goes to a coffee shop to be around people but doesn’t actually want to make conversation. That is me in a nutshell.

But as I learn more about what it means to live in community, I’ve learned those behaviors are actually the furthest thing from community. Community is allowing people to know you, all of you.

Not the Sunday morning you. Not the Beyonce version of “I woke up like this” you. But the you that nobody really wants to be around because you have problems, you.

Vulnerability is allowing people to get so close they could hurt you, but choosing the right community so that you can mitigate the unnecessary pain. You will get hurt being vulnerable, you will get hurt in community because people are imperfect, but as you exercise vulnerability in community, you begin to see what love actually looks like.

Vulnerability, community, and love. It’s hard to have one without the others, right?

It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it’s a prerequisite to community and love which are both things that we were built for because we were made in the image of God. So as I strive to become more vulnerable, no matter how hard and uncomfortable it is, I hope you strive to do the same.

Is vulnerability a hard thing for you too? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, until next time, get up, get moving and be salt and light!

Make “Grace” Your Anytime Resolution

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having or have had a great January depending on when you are reading this. As you may be able to tell, I have had quite a slow start to this year, having only uploaded one blog post thus far. While in years past a slow start would have gotten me down, this year, it’s been exactly what I’ve needed to start 2018 off on the right foot.

Just last year, I was the person who loved all things New Years related. Goals, resolutions, action plans, etc., but this year has been a little different. It’s not that I wasn’t excited for the New Year and the change/ clean slate that it brings, it was just that the New Year, was simply that, a New Year.

I wasn’t big into resolutions, I didn’t have a major game plan leading into the year. Instead, I just let myself be, and it was such a blessing. The reason for this is because I actually started what would have been my New Years resolutions in October of 2017.

The idea that you can change your life at any minute hit me around my birthday, October 2nd, and I made what I felt to be major changes in my daily habits then. I started tracking my new goals then, and have been doing so to this day, but that kind of explains why January has been a slow month for me. I simply didn’t feel the need or the sense of urgency to start from scratch or to start altogether.

In many cases, I feel like a lot of people wait for the New Year to start whatever they decide and run head first towards it as soon as the clock stricks 12am January 1st. Often, people will literally put things that they could start on any day, off until January 1st because the idea of a clean slate in the New Year is more appealing.

But, in my opinion, when people do that it adds a certain level of pressure to whatever goals or habits they are trying to achieve. Because they’ve put so much emphasis on accomplishing their goals or actions in the New Year, rather than taking small steps towards them every day, if they forget, or take a false step, have an off day or anything in between, it becomes really easy to simply give up.

Instead of doing that this year, I’ve realized that whatever I’m working towards is a journey, not a destination and I have to leave room for mistakes, mis-steps and for life to happen in between where I am and where I want to be.

By implementing my dreams, goals, and habits as I’ve thought them up, instead of soley in the New Year, it has left me more room for balance and grace. In turn, that has also led me to have a very slow and relaxed January full of self-care, joy, thanfulness, gratitude and much more.

I’ve been able to stay present, or at least more present, in my daily activities, and have definitely been easier on my self this January than ever before. That’s saying a lot because, like many, I am my worst critic and sometimes my worst enemy. This leads me to talk about grace.

Grace

Though it’s a simple word, I’ve always had a hard time wrapping my head around the word “grace.” On the one hand, it can mean elegance, and on the other hand, it can mean the favor shown to us by God. Now, I’m a Christain, and I do believe strongly in the second definition, but even if you’re not, I think my revelation of what the word “grace” means for me and how I have applied it thus far in 2018 can be helpful and eye-opening for everyone.

Last year, 2017, was a big year for me when it came to understanding just how undeserving I am of the grace God gives me. Every day I make mistakes, fall short of His will, and so much more. But every day He continues to choose me despite my shortcomings. Understanding the grace He shows me despite my imperfection has helped me to realize that I can stand to show myself a little grace from time-to-time as well, and I think that’s a lesson we can all share.

Ultimately, we’re not perfect. We can plan-and-plan but still fail. We will set goals and not reach them. We will fall short many times, and that’s okay. This January, I’ve learned to be much more gentle with myself. It’s not that enduring shortcomings becomes “fun” or significantly easier, but by giving myself more room for my imperfection to show, and I have in turn taken a load off of myself.

Think about it, how much stress do you put on yourself to “perform” and/or reach your goals? How much pressure do you put on yourself about things you can’t even control?

For me, it was a lot, but by giving myself grace and the leeway to mess up, I realized that it’s not the end of the world. I have not only enjoyed the beginning of 2018 more than any other year, I honestly like the person I’ve become so much more because of it.

Within the lesson of grace, I have ultimately learned to strive for my goals while living my life, not in spite of living my life.

I think we’ve all done this before, but have you ever been so focused on a goal that it negatively affects how you live your life? Maybe you’re trying to eat clean, so you purposefully avoid outings with your friends because you know junk food will be there. Or maybe you are so invested in your job and climbing your company ladder that you neglect friends and family.

I will say it again. Move towards your goals WHILE living life, not IN SPITE OF living life.

Balance is key to sustainability, and for me, what is key to understanding balance is grace.

Make grace your everyday resolution this year, and hopefully, this learned lesson will bring you just as much peace and joy as it has brought me.

As always, if you enjoyed this blog post, please be sure to share it on social media and subscribe so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving and live your best life!

Ghosting: The Reality of 21st Century Relationships & Communication

Don’t you just hate it when you’re texting someone and they don’t respond, or they take FOR-E-VER to get back to you? Maybe they take the better part of a day, a full 24 hours to reply, or a week and then blame it on their phone.

Or even worse, you know someone, you talk and text with them all the time, and then, one day you send a message and there is no response. So you follow up a few days later and still no response.

By now you’re thinking, “Did they die or something?”

No, no, my friend. You’ve just been ghosted.


Sydney’s Dictionary:

Ghost (v): When someone falls off the face of the earth, hypothetically speaking of course. All communication is cut off; mainly digital communication.

Simmer (v): When someone takes a while to respond, not because they didn’t see your message, but for their own added benefit and suspense.

Ice (v): Similar to ghosting, but instead they re-appears months later as if nothing had happened.


So maybe you can tell from my vivid descriptions and the definitions that I’ve had my fair share of communication issues and have been ghosted a time or two. Maybe you’re thinking, “Wow, this is relatable.” It’s unfortunate that much of our communication in society has dwindled down to completely or partially ignoring people as an acceptable response.

But with that said, would you hate me if I said, I’ve been the one to do the ghosting? Okay, before you burn me at the stake, think about it, you probably have too. Maybe you haven’t completely ghosted someone, but you’ve most likely simmered them. You know where you wait a little bit to respond because you’re “so busy,” or you don’t want to seem “too eager.”

We’ve all done it a time or two, but what I really want to know is where did this come from and why is it happening?


Ghosted

*Disclaimer: In this story, my friend is of the opposite sex, but our friendship was platonic.*

As I established above, I have been ghosted before, and yes, it sucks, but no ghosting hurt quite as much as the performed by one of my closest friends at the time. We’d been friends for about three years and I couldn’t have valued our friendship more if I tried.

It’s safe to say that in the latter years of our friendship he was becoming less and less of a good texter. Days would go by between responses; sometimes 2 days, sometimes 4, and at some point, I was tired of it.

I addressed it, we cleared the air, explanations were made, followed by apologies for the misunderstanding and things were good. Things were good until about 6 months later when he fell back into that habit of not responding. This time it was even worse. Weeks would go by before I’d get a response.

I quickly recognized that we had been down this road before. But in an effort to maintain the friendship, or what was left of it, I brushed it off. I mean you can maintain a friendship without communication, right?

Um… NO! YOU CAN’T. But the rationalized idea I had in my head said I could so that had to be true, right?

What was left of the friendship came to a screeching halt when a natural disaster hit a part of the country my friend was in, or at least I thought he might have been affected. I sent a text to make sure everything was okay.

One day went by… no response.

Two days went by… no response.

A week went by… no response.

Then I logged on to Twitter and saw him tweeting about the new Game of Thrones episode.

I was done.

I had my answers. He was fine and that was great. But the status of our friendship wasn’t. If you’re not going to respond to a text about your safety, I don’t know what you’re going to respond to.


Ghosting

From there I proceeded to do the only thing that really made sense to me. I feel off the face of the Earth. Well, at least to him I did. I blocked his number and social media accounts, and I deleted him for anything that would leave the slightest trace that we even knew each other. This happened in October and nothing has changed since. He’s still blocked, we still don’t talk, and I have no idea if he’s tried to get in touch with me.

I can’t speak to why he ghosted or simmered me like he did, but I can speak to why I ghosted him.

Simply put, it was time for me to value myself over our broken friendship.

I knew that if he reached out to me I would be inclined to respond because that’s what normal, respectful people do. But I wasn’t trying to be normal or respectful. That ship had sailed.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.

I deleted and blocked him because if you don’t teach people how to treat you, they’ll treat you any kind of way, and that wasn’t something I wanted to sign myself up for.


Why do we ghost?

Short answer: I don’t really know.

Long answer: I think we ghost people because living in a digital age has made disconnecting from people on a physical and emotional level, a lot easier. Who cares if you don’t respond? You won’t have to see the disappointment on the other person’s face. Or realize the consequences of your actions.

Or maybe it’s because we’ve gotten really bad about expressing what our top priorities are. Instead of saying, “Hey, I would love to chat, but it’s going to have to wait because you’re not my top priority right now,” we say “Oh, I’m so busy,” or “My phone’s been acting up,” or we just don’t respond at all. But let’s be honest, saying, “you’re not my top priority,” is like ripping off a band-aid, while not responding is like a dull ache that hurts for days, weeks, years…ouch!

I mean, you wouldn’t ignore someone asking you a question in person. But let’s pretend you did, you would have to sit there and deal with the consequences that come with not responding. That person would be able to rebut. You would be able to hear their anger, discontentment, or possibly indifference. Regardless, it would affect you because you’d actually be able to see it.


Conclusion

Being ghosted sucks no matter if it’s a colleague, best friend, family member or romantic partner, but it happens all the time and can happen in any of these relationships. I guess my advice is to think twice before you ghost, simmer, or ice someone. How would you feel if it were you?

This post was inspired by two podcast episodes created by the NPR podcast, Note to Self. I highly recommend you listen to them as they had a lot of insight into why people do this, the effects of it, and much more.

The first one is called Ghosting, Simmering, and Icing with Esther Perel and the second one is I Didn’t See Your Text. The second one was my favorite and Esther Perel is my new hero. She hit the nail right on the head when it came to this topic.

As always, if you found this blog post entertaining, insightful, or informative, please share it on social media and subscribe so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving and live your best life.

2017 was… My Year in a Blog Post

2017 was a lot of things…Empowering. Life changing. Crappy. Overwhelming. Heartbreaking. Devastating. Eye opening. A time for growing. A year of beginnings. A year of endings. A learning experience. Humbling. Confusing. Mind-blowing… I could go on. But here is my year in one post. Enjoy!

January-March

January to March was quite a blur, mainly because nothing really happened. I was in the middle of my final basketball season. But at the beginning of March, the game I’d played for 14 years was no longer a major part of my life; my season had come to an end. I was officially a retired college athlete… weird. 🙀 🤭 😔 So many mixed emotions but ultimately I felt as though it was a change for the better.

April-June In April, I honed my fitness, focused on me, and I took at 13-hour road trip by myself from Kansas to Georgia. At last, after 4 years of college, I was finally home! 🚗 May came, and I was feeling the travel bug. I “jetted”✈️(well… I few commercial) off to Europe to experience the wonderful country of Ireland. Being in such a different place and experiencing a culture different from my own allowed me to gain a greater appreciation for cultures out outside of my own. It’s always great to see life from other people’s perspective.

I also started making mini-documentary style videos. It was the beginning stages of Movers & Shakers.

July-September In July, I wrapped up my master’s classes and graduated! Two degrees!!!✏️📚🎓 I also started interning at CNN.

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In August, I won a contest/sweepstakes! What are the chances? I won the opportunity to travel with Goose Island to Elk Mountain Farms in Bonners Ferry, Idaho and be a part of their Road to the Harvest event. I also got a chance to meet one of my favorite YouTubers, Erik Conover.

As someone who is not keen on beer, it was an awesome opportunity to better understand how beer is made, what goes into getting the IPA you’re drinking from the field to the table, and much more. All in all, while beer isn’t my drink of choice, because of this experience, when I do decide to drink beer, Goose Island will be my first choice. 🍺

In September, for the first time in four years, I was home to celebrate my moms birthday! I also visited New York for the first time ever and completely fell in love with the city. I loved the walking, the hustle, and bustle, but came to the conclusion that while many people get their start ruffing it in the city of opportunity, I’m just fine creating and taking hold of opportunities right where I am. It was here that I also gained a great appreciation for my hometown, both the city of Atlanta and the northern suburbs where I’m from.

NYC
@ Bethesda Terrace and Fountain

It was also my birthday month, and for some reason, turning 22 sparked some major changes in me. You can’t do the same things and expect different results. So long story short, I started to act and carry myself like more of an adult and let me tell you, adulting is hard.

November was a month for the books. I launched Movers & Shakers, Dad Hats Only (my apparel company that specialized in trendy dad hats), and landed my first real full-time adult job. The full-time adult job had been a long time coming. So many nights of crying, wondering why my friends have been hired and I hadn’t. Finally, all of that came to an end.

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I promptly started my grown-up and professional job in early December and haven’t looked back since. I also promptly closed my new business, Dad Hats Only. It’s comical how short the life of that business was, but it truly taught me a lot about running a business. Plus, I read somewhere that the percentage of businesses that actually succeed are so small, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

I also celebrated my brother’s birthday at home, then Christmas, and set off for DC to end 2017 and bring in the New Year with old friends. In particular, my best friend whom I hadn’t seen in 3.5 years.

All in all, 2017 was a pretty good year. Definitely, a year for growth and I’m excited to see what 2018 has to offer. It’s going to be a great one! Comment below some of your highlights from 2017! I’d love to hear them.

As always, if you enjoyed this blog post, please be sure to share it on social media, and subscribe so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!!

Sleep: Why 8 Is The Magic Number

Recently, I’ve been on this really weird sleep cycle. First, it started with me going to bed later; therefore, I’d wake up later. That quickly evolved into me going to bed later and then having to wake up earlier due to obligations I had. This has been going on for the last month…  until yesterday.

Yesterday, was my body’s way of saying enough-is-enough. I woke up early and was lethargic the whole day. I took multiple naps and was in bed for the night by 9pm.

So what really happened here? I should have known it was coming, I’ve heard about this on three separate occasions, from three different podcasts. It’s called sleep debt.

Sleep debt is often used to describe sleeping less than eight hours on any given night. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I never, or rarely get eight hours of sleep.” Trust me, I’m right there with you. Eight hours of sleep is hard to come by these days for many people, but maybe if we knew what was actually happening to our bodies when we didn’t get eight hours, we would be more inclined to actually get to bed on time.

Neuroscientist Matthew Walker during his interview with Shankar Vedantam of Hidden Brain said,

“If we didn’t need eight hours of sleep and we could survive on six, mother nature would have done away with 25% of our sleep time millions of years ago… if sleep does not provide a remarkable set of benefits then it’s the biggest mistake the evolutionary process has ever made.”

Now, that’s a very strong statement! Evolution, among other things, has gotten us as humankind to where we are today. Breathing, functioning the way we do, walking, etc. So why push the boundaries of evolution that have been so consistent and successful in the past?

Well, in my opinion, and the views of many well-respected scientists, we push the boundaries of sleep due to our societal norms.

In this same interview, Matthew Walker brought up another good point. When a baby sleeps for the majority of the day, nobody thinks, “Wow, what a lazy baby.” For the baby, sleep is justified because many people understand it is a crucial part of their development process. But why does that notion change as we get older? Yes, we’re no longer babies, and we have responsibilities, but the notion that we can sleep when we’re dead might actually kill us.

Just ask Arianna Huffington, creator of the Huffington Post. From lack of sleep and being overworked, Arianna found herself lying in a hospital bed recovering after passing out and broke her cheekbone during her fall. The worst part, she alluded to, was that if anyone had asked her earlier that day how she was, she probably said, “I’m fine.” Does passing out and breaking her cheekbone due to lack of sleep sound “fine”?

If we’re honest, we all do this. We say we’re okay when we’re not. We get no sleep and then try to accomplish our daily to-dos. But what we really don’t know is that whenever we get less than eight hours of sleep, the way we subjectively perceive our quality of work, and how we objectively execute them leaves much to be desired. To put it simply, we aren’t as productive and sharp as we think.

That may not come as a surprise, but it’s a big deal. Most of us aren’t great drivers, to begin with, but put a bunch of sleep-deprived drivers on the road and something is bound to go wrong.

Or for the college student that pulled the all-nighter, you are almost guaranteed to know less than if you took just a two-hour nap before the exam.

It really sucks that our society doesn’t value sleep, but it only takes a few people to change that narrative. Ultimately productivity speaks for itself, not the fewest hours slept.

I write all this to say, don’t be fulled into thinking that sleep isn’t necessary, or that you don’t need the recommended eight. We’ve all tried it, and for the most part, we’ve all felt quite miserable because of it. Sleep is one of those things where the tone of your whole day could be different if you just got enough. So save yourself the trouble and get eight.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of sleep and how it affects you, you can listen to “Eyes Wide Open: Part 1 & 2” from NPR’s Hidden Brain, as well as Chase Jarvis, Tim Farriss, and/or Sean Stevens’ interviews with Arianna Huffington.

You could also read Arianna Huffington’s Book, The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time and/or Sean Steven’s book, Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health, and Bigger Success. Both of these books are wonderful resources to help you better understand how important sleep is and how much better you can be because of it.

To bring this blog post full circle, I think I’ve finally learned my lesson. I didn’t have to end up in the hospital like Arianna or with insomnia like many people who push their boundaries of sleep. All I needed was one full weekend of lethargy to realize that I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. Moving forward I plan to get eight hours of sleep or at least shoot for that because being tired, unproductive, and ineffective is not the way I want to honor my body.

As always, if you enjoyed this blog post and found it to be helpful, please like it and share it on social media. Also, subscribe so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving and live your best life.

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5 Tips For The Savvy Spender

Yes, yes, another blog post about finances… well, kind of. Recently, a lot of my posts have highlighted ways to save more, spend less, and things of that nature, but honestly, I think we can all use some of that advice as we enter into the holiday season where consumerism runs rampant.

Today’s blog post is not so much about what I do to save because I don’t take advantage of all of these opportunities. But, I do know about them and I think they’re worth sharing just in case they can help any of you guys.

From getting stuff for free to getting them at a significant discount, here are a few websites that can make your day-to-day life a lot easier.


1. Free Kids Meals – mykidseatfree.com

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If you have kids or regularly dine with anyone under the age of 12, then this website should be your best friend. Eating out, especially at dinner time can be kind of expensive.

Side note: Did you know that the price of dinners at restaurants compared to lunch can be as much as 50% more expensive?

So outside of just sticking to dining out at lunchtime instead of dinner, a way to cut costs is to go somewhere where kids can eat for free. If you take a look at mykidseatfree.com, the site looks ancient but don’t be fooled, you can find some valuable information over there. Just navigate to the top bar and click where it says, “start your search.” From there you can choose what state you’re in as well as the city and go from there. It will give you options of restaurants to choose from as well as their policies as to when kids can eat for free. (Usually, it’s with the purchase of an adult meal and only on certain days)


2. Free Audio Books – LibriVox.org

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If you’re big into reading, audiobooks or podcasts, I recommend you visit LibriVox.org. There, you can listen to audiobooks for free. My only caveat is that the latest books probably aren’t available on there. I mean, it is a free service people, you can only expect so much. But if you have no preference to what you read or listen to, or just like what may be considered classics, then you should definitely check this site out.


3. Free Stuff On Your Birthday – http://www.frugallivingnw.com/birthday-freebies/

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Your birthday only comes around once a year, and companies across the United States are more than willing to make your day a special one if you stop by their locations. Whether it’s $30 off your dinner at Benihana or a BOGO (buy one get one) at Cold Stone, apparently there is so much you’ve been missing out on over the years. Many of these perks are food related, but I’ve never been one to turn down free food.


4. Airbnb but better? It’s Couch Surfing. – CouchSurfing.org

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If you’re planning a trip, before you book your hotel, hostel, or Airbnb, you might want to check out couchsurfing.org. It can sound sketchy at first, but after looking over their site and reading some reviews, it seems like a viable option if you’re okay staying with people you just met.

In short, the company allows travelers to connect with locals who are more than willing to lend their couch for a night or for a few, and possibly show their guests around when they get to their city. For free you have access to finding a host, hosting others and learning about free travel events across the globe. For a fee you can become a verified member were you gain access to an ad-free website and mobile app, getting SMS and address verified, and much more. From what I understand it’s a free service or at least very cheap, so if you frequently travel, like meeting locals when you do, or just want a different experience than ones you’ve had before, couchsurfing.org is for you.


5. Exchange Your Time For Services – timebanks.org

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We all know what it looks like to exchange time for money. That’s what makes the world go round currently, but what if it’s not the only way? What if you could spend two hours teaching someone a skill you’re good at (i.e., sewing, basketball, playing an instrument), and in exchange for giving your time someone gives you theres? It makes sense to me. Not only do you give, but you receive as well and have the opportunity to foster relationships with the people in your community. If this is something you’re interested in, head to timebanks.org and find a community near you that is participating in this time sharing movement.


Those are all the savvy spender tips I have for today, but if you’re looking for more, I highly recommend you read the book, The Cheapskate Next Door by Jeff Yeager. I got the majority of my tips from his book, and though a little out of date, many of his savvy money-saving tips still stand true to this day.

If you found this blog post to be helpful and informative, please share it on social media and subscribe so that you never miss a post.

Until next time, get up, get moving, and live your best life!

**This post contains one affiliate link.**