Thoughts on my 23rd

As I enter into my 23rd year, I come with pure joy. A feeling I don’t believe I’ve ever truly felt before, until now. Joy from the grace God has given me and the patience He has shown me, specifically in my walk with Him. But also joy, because of how He has gently restored me, even though I don’t deserve it.

His patience to wait on me to buy into His goodness and understand His reckless and never-ending love that can be found nowhere else but in Him has meant everything to me. And because of that, I plan to remain faithful all my days and practice long-suffering until the day I see His face. Because kindness like this isn’t something, you forget. It changes you. It gives you peace. It’s something you tell and show the world because words simply aren’t enough.

It’s fruit.

Things I’ve Learned at 23

1. Plan

You can plan all you want, and still, God has the final say. Become comfortable with submitting your wants to Him, but also understand that when your plans don’t come to pass, the author and creator of your faith is overseeing your life. Things will work out as they should, and He has your best interest in mind.

2. You’ll Have Questions

Questions… that’s the polite way to say doubts. Whether you have questions about your purpose or your role here on Earth, there will always be things you think of that God hasn’t fully revealed to you.  The crazy thing is, some of those things might not be answered in this lifetime, and that’s okay. But one thing I will say is, meet your doubts with faith every time. Sometimes you won’t have all the answers, but if you had all the answers, it wouldn’t be faith. Let faith be the bridge between your doubts and God’s plans that you can’t see.

3. Pros & Cons

There are pros and cons to everything. I know this is a simple concept and yet it has taken me 23 years to understand. Every decision has a consequence whether good or bad, and once you are able to truly see the two in every decision, then you will make better and more informed ones.

Things I’m Thankful For at 23

1. Perspective

I never knew the power of perspective until recently. Perspective can have you feeling like the scum of the Earth or the luckiest and most blessed person in the world all while dealing with the same circumstance. Protect your mind, and keep your perspective in order. It’s so important, and I’m thankful for the change in perspective I’ve had this year.

2. Family

It’s funny, I feel like I always put this one, but it’s true. There isn’t a year that goes by where I’m not more thankful for my family than the last. You can’t choose family but God gave me a pretty good bunch, and they mean the world to me.

3. Chosen Family

In this year I’ve lost a lot of friends, I’ve gained a few, and I’ve kept a few as well. My support system (chosen family) has played a big role in my life this year as I’ve grown to understand the power of community. I’m thankful for the people in my life who put up with me, hold me together, encourage me and do life with me, daily.

Goals for 23

1. Continue to grow my faith.

2. Nurture the relationships in my life.

3. Better understand/find my purpose.

Twenty-two was an amazing year, and I’m VERY excited to see what 23 holds. Until next time, get up, get moving and be salt & light.

Podcast Review: Optimal Living Daily

If you’re on the lookout for some new podcasts to add to your iTunes library search no further, I have a few that you might like. You can check out my last podcast review post for some other recommendations, but for today, the podcasts I’m referring to all fall under the name Optimal Living Daily, and they do just that, help you to optimize different aspects of your life.

It all started with just the podcast titled Optimal Living Daily, but since then they have added four new podcasts, Optimal Finance Daily, Optimal Business Daily, Optimal Relationships Daily, and Optimal Health Daily. While Optimal Living Daily helps you to recognize different aspects of your life that you can change and improve upon, the others focus on the topics mentioned in their titles.

There are so many great things about these podcasts and valid reasons to listen, but these are a few reasons why I do.

1. Each Podcast is an Article

I think reading and consuming articles/books is important, but sometimes you just can’t get around to it. Maybe you have work, an event to go to, you might be taking care of your kids, or babysitting others, whatever the case may be, all Optimal Living Daily podcasts make it easy for you to consume information found in articles. This is because in these podcasts they read directly from popular articles and authors that fall under the main optimal topics (i.e., health, finance, business, etc.).

2. Short Podcasts

While I do enjoy longer form podcasts, sometimes you simply don’t have 30-45 or more minutes to commit to uninterrupted listening. Well lucky for you, all Optimal podcasts are generally under 10 minutes. I think the longest one I’ve ever heard was 13 minutes long, but typically, they’re around 8.

It’s great because you can get a short burst of knowledge by listening to thought-provoking content, and then have the rest of your day to ponder over what you learned, how you can apply the main ideas to your life and much more.

3. Monday through Friday

I consistently listen to Optimal Living Daily podcasts because they are one of the most consistent podcasts on iTunes. With new content every Monday through Friday, it’s become something that I look forward to and is part of my daily routine.

All in all, Optimal Living Podcasts are created to help you optimize your life. If you’re big on self-help books, consider yourself to be a nerd even in the slightest, or enjoy discovering life hacks to make your life a little bit easier, then I highly recommend you check them out.

Just to make sure you get the right ones, you should look for any podcasts with these thumbnails.

As always, if you liked 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 (or optimize 😉) your best life.

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

I didn’t post last week for two reasons. 

The first being that my blog post last Thursday, “A Word On Relationships…,”, left me feeling emotionally drained, but in the best way. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I blog because I love it and because it can be helpful to others. But also, much of what I write about is relatable because I’m either going through it or have recently.

Usually, I choose to write about situations that I have recently gone through because they leave me feeling less emotionally drained, but my last post on relationships was a situation I was currently going through and was probably the most candid I’ve ever been on this blog. In my opinion, that post is my best and most genuine work so far.

With that said, writing about losing friends after college was very real for me, and that post was as close to a personal diary or journal entry as it gets. So, to say the least, I was emotionally drained and couldn’t think of any other topics to follow-up with for the next week. I needed a break to gather myself.

The second reason is that I was overwhelmed, in yet again the best but most anxiety provoking way possible. My daily to-do lists were long, but let’s be honest, after being a varsity college athlete and graduating a year early I’ve definitely had longer ones.

I felt like I could barely stay above water, and after taking some time to evaluate why last week was so overwhelming, I realized that it was because I pushed myself out of comfort zone.

The saying goes “Nothing good happens inside your comfort zone.”

I definitely believe that growth begins when you step outside of what you know; therefore, some of the better things in life happen outside of your comfort zone. But that is so much easier said than done. I mean who doesn’t want to be comfortable?

As a creature of habit, pushing myself outside of my norm is something I avoid at all costs. If I’m honest, I try to limit “getting out of my comfort zone” to a once a week ordeal, if that.

I do that because I literally become exhausted and fatigued from the high levels of anxiety I endure when I do take that leap. Yup, you heard it correctly, going outside of my comfort zone is the equivocate of a tough (mental) workout for me. 

So since that’s how I feel towards discomfort, it is no surprise why last week took everything out of me. It felt as though every day I was either out of my comfort zone or preparing to be.

Much of what I was working on was video and photography related. In due time, the final product of last week will be shown on this blog, but to give you some perspective, I was producing a short documentary/interest piece. The stressful thing was, I was the producer, camera (wo)man, in charge of lighting and audio, and am currently in the midst of post-production. To put it simply, I was and still am a one (wo)man show.

Creating quality video content for this blog has been a dream of mine since the beginning and it’s good to know that this dream is weeks away from being realized. But the process of actually turning dreams into reality is uncomfortable and overwhelming.

At some point, you have to stop talking about it and actually start doing something. This last week and weekend I did exactly that, and I sure am glad I did. Despite the discomfort, uneasiness, anxiety, etc., I was able to finally put what I have been thinking about since December 2016 into action, and it was a great feeling.

If you’re sitting on your dreams, I highly encourage you to get up and act upon them. It’s not comfortable, it’s definitely overwhelming and you might second guess yourself along the way, but that small act of doing, whether it turns out like you envisioned it or not, teaches you so much, gives you confidence and gets you one step closer to your ultimate goal.

Sometimes you have to be overwhelmed and out of your comfort zone to be your best self and create your best work. I encourage you to push yourself to do so.

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

A Word on Relationships…

Learning how to maintain friendships after undergrad has allowed me to discover what it takes to feed all of the relationships in my life. But before I get to that, let me take it way back.

The History

Do you remember when you were younger, and everyone was your “friend”? Well, maybe not everyone because some people had cooties, but everyone else. You literally referred to all of your peers as your “friend.” Interesting, right?

Somewhere down the line, and many years later, you became more than capable at differentiating what kinds of friendships are in your life. You have acquaintances, friends, and then your best friend(s). Note the difference.

Your acquaintances, well, you just know them. If you saw them on the street you’d, give them a wave, a head nod, and maybe even have a quick conversation.

Your friends are the people you see on what seems to be a regular basis, and you have a good amount in common.

But your best friend(s), you guys are inseparable. You talk to them about almost everything, and in some cases, they know you better than you know yourself.

At this point, you’re “grown,” whatever that means, and you understand that all of these relationships take a different level of effort to maintain. You spend more time and energy on your best friends than your friends, and the same can be said for acquaintances.

But then you graduate. As exciting as that is, it causes you to reevaluate the relationships in your life without even knowing it. You move off to wherever, to do whatever, and all of a sudden you don’t see your acquaintances, friends, and most importantly your best friends every day anymore.

The Lesson

This is where the friendship learning curve begins. Think of it as a pop quiz you didn’t prepare for. For the longest time, your friends were within arms distance of you.

If you needed to talk, well, you’d see them tomorrow. If there was a point of conflict, you could always go over and work things out. If you wanted to celebrate, you called an Uber and hit the nearest bar. But now, it’s not so simple.

Discussing your day or your week is phone call that has to be scheduled on the calendars of two extremely busy people. You’re not around each other anymore, so the go to conversation about mutual events doesn’t really apply, and you both have changed a lot since the last time you saw one another in person. Maybe what they find entertaining doesn’t pique your interest anymore. Or maybe where you see yourselves in the future doesn’t align. Now what?

You built such a strong foundation for your friendship, but time, space and growth are tearing it apart.

This is where the hard questions come in, but none as hard as this one.

Is this relationship worth investing your time in anymore?

While this question could be answered with one word, it’s usually not. There is so much that goes into giving a definitive answer. But it’s something you have to ask and answer for yourself.

I’ve had to ask myself this question many times in the past year, which is why the experience of maintaining relationships after college has helped me better understand what it takes to sustain all of the relationships in my life.

The Take-Away

It all comes down to effort. If you deem a relationship worth investing in and/or fighting for, then that’s what you’ll do, and hopefully, that person will do the same for you. It’s tough to keep friendships going once there is space between you. Sometimes it’s just as hard when you’re geographically close, but your schedules don’t align.

With that said, many times these inconveniences become our biggest excuses as to why either person does not want to put effort into the relationship anymore. Again, if you deem a relationship important enough to you, you’ll find a way to make time for it, and if the other person does too, they will do the same. People make time for what’s important to them.

This is why, if you feel like your efforts are not being reciprocated, it might be time to have a conversation or downgrade the status of the relationship all together. That just means you’ll give less effort to that relationship overall, because you’re not as close as you once were.

Whether it’s calling your parents every week, planning a FaceTime date with your best friend, or an actual date with your significant other, all relationships require effort. But as circumstances change, the effort you’re willing to put in to maintain the relationship weighed against what the relationship means to you must be evaluated.

What can I say, it’s part of being an adult and truly adulting.

So with that said, no matter where you are in your life, recent grad, full on adult, high school student, etc. this lesson is applicable. I hope through this blog post you are inspired to better define the relationships in your life and figure out which ones are and are not worth your time and effort.

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