As we figure out this thing called life (which will never truly be figured out), we have to remember never to let go of our peace. Peace is the place where we find hope. Without the former, we cannot have the latter. Not only must you never give it up; your peace must be protected. I love storytelling, be it with a pen or a lens. While writing and photographing are business endeavors for me, there are pieces, both written and visual, that will not be seen during my lifetime. Those pieces are my protected peace.
Where is your solitude? What space do you keep sacred? Don’t lose it to work or family or money. Keep something that leads you to hope in your most challenging times. It can be running or sketching or singing in the shower or writing a book that only you plan to read. And it can change form over time. The point is, wherever you find peace*, make time to go there.
Make protecting your peace a priority.
*Peace isn’t always that thing that makes you feel “good.” It has to be healthy to be true peace.
Last week, I didn’t post to The Reader. I needed some time away so that I could marinate in my creative juices. And this blog wasn’t the only job I stepped away from.
When I’m gone (and I mean really gone) from work, I do my best to disconnect. I don’t check work e-mail more than twice a week (at which point I respond to whatever is truly time sensitive). I may choose to respond to an urgent work-related text but my responses are very quick and direct. In short, I make a true effort to protect the time I’ve carved out for myself, my family, and my friends.
Everyone doesn’t agree with my school of thought. Some people believe that endless work equates to a solid work ethic (whereas I equate that, in a salary role, to either poor time management skills, a lack of a personal life, a thirst for money and/or attention, or some combination of all these). When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard. Try to keep the two separate, if at all possible.
Living selflessly is great but you’ll never know how happy you can help someone else be until you explore and nourish that which truly fills your own spirit with joy. Like I said yesterday, time is a nonrenewable resource. Make sure you set some aside for yourself from time to time. That’s what adds color to a life that would otherwise be nothing but a monochromatic period of time.
Make protecting your joy a priority.
“There’s always a choice.” — Charlie Cunningham
I’m at a stage in life where I don’t care enough to allow anyone to make me grossly unhappy. Thankfully, I’m in a position where I have the autonomy to come and go pretty much as I please. If the day is nice and I don’t need to be inside, I won’t be inside. If I don’t feel like wearing a tie and don’t have to wear a tie, I’m not wearing a tie. Conversely, if I feel like sitting in my office in a restful state with the lights dimmed, I’ll dim the lights. If I want to rock a tie, it’ll be a tie that I rock. Long story short, if it’s impractical and causing me undue stress, right now is the time I can let it go. I don’t have any dependents. One day, I may. So right now, I’m here in a polo, chinos, and chucks with the sky as my ceiling, my earphones playing a pretty cool Spotify playlist, and my lap as my desk, working on projects and loving this 68° cloudy day. Why? Because I don’t have any meetings today and I work well in different settings that allow for me to be inspired in different ways, so why not?
For too long, people were told that work had to be a stressor and that you shouldn’t be able to relax at work and I just don’t believe that. These are the same people whose parents and grandparents worked in sweatshop conditions without a department of labor regulating unfair practices. I believe in working hard but that doesn’t have to result in high blood pressure and health issues. Once your health is gone, it’s gone. And, to be honest, these companies and organizations will keep moving with or without you. So take that mental health day when you know you need it. Use your sick days for a check up at your physician and your dentist. I’m not saying abuse the system. I’m saying don’t be afraid to take care of you because these corporations and institutions will take care of themselves.
Break’s over. Back to work… from this park bench. 😁
Make working outside from time to time a priority (if that’s your thing).
I, like many people I know, would rather work somewhere for a little less money because I loved where I worked. The friends of mine who don’t have kids always know that they have options. And having options scares employers. If you have kids, you can’t quit as readily. If you have kids, you need to be able to easily transition and, how ironic is it that, fiscal years and raises come at the time when you could actually make that transition most comfortably?
Some employers want to keep you more scared than you are happy. They’ll pay you to give up your joy. But, if you don’t have to sell it, don’t. Sure, every day won’t be exciting or joyous but every day should be tolerable. The moment you realize that your job would be intolerable were it not for the paycheck, it’s time to start looking. Even if you have a family, there’s nothing wrong with securing an option that will reintroduce joy into your life.
Though we do not know how numbered, we do know that our days are, in fact, finite. Don’t let one pass and feel that it was wasted. Keep your joy. Protect your mental health. If you need help with your résumé, don’t hesitate to give me a call and we’ll make magic happen.
Photograph of DJ Ken “The Brooklyn Bouncer” Reid doing what he loves and getting paid for it.
Make joy a priority.
The Dos and Don’ts of Email Signatures
Everyone has different rules on e-mail signatures. Personally, I have a quote but that’s because I’m in fundrasing at a school and since every dollar counts, I close all e-mails saying with “Very few burdens are heavy if everyone lifts.” ~ Sy Wise. Take this post with a grain of salt but definitely take this post and put it to use. By the way, I like the hyphen between the “e” and the “mail” but this isn’t my article.
Existential Office E-Mails by Jessie Gaynor
This one is just humorous but sometimes you need a bit of levity to make the work week go by a bit quicker.
Steal These 16 Mental-Health Secrets of Famous Geniuses by Ari Notis
Mental health is a hot topic now because we know how much it has to do with longevity, physical health, depression, and everything else in life. These tips are kind of important. Above all else, young professionals, we must protect our safe spaces.
Last week was intense and draining. From the act of terrorism in Charlottesville on Saturday to marching with protesters down the streets of Durham, I was both physically and emotionally exhausted. The fact that school is starting and I was forced to interact without having time to process how the community I serve sees me didn’t help and I nearly shut down. I wrote two pieces for Blavity in which I exposed myself in both a very dangerous and very genuine way, in addition to my four pieces for my own blog (sorry about Friday but my mind was exhausted).
See the two pieces Blavity published below:
So, this past weekend, I fell off, but in a healthy way. I forgot about my goals, I hung out with my friends, I went to Black August in the Park to remind myself of why I do what I do and, most importantly, I didn’t do any real work. I had a few mental health days. We all need them. But today is Monday. Bills don’t pay themselves and hard work won’t save my soul. So, today, I’ve committed to getting back to working toward my purpose. Life is too short to either get complacent or bogged down in circumstances that are outside of your control.
Have an amazing Monday. Step into every room with the goal of making a brighter future for everyone in the world. It’s not just about you or your family or the people who you feel you can relate best to. You’re at this point in your life at this time in history for a reason. Take a step back and see what you can learn from it, both on a micro and macro level. More hasn’t been placed on you than you can handle. The problem is in the underestimating of yourself.
Make personal reflection and purpose priorities.
One Woman’s Brave Email is Helping to Break the Mental Health Stigma
Due to an increase in dependency on technology, people are not interacting with one another as much as we have historically. Additionally, technology and social interactions make it almost impossible to function “normally” these days without always being connected. This is true for our personal and professional lives. But, wasn’t there a time in which you were expected to work M-F, 8-5 and, outside of that outside of fields where it would be an emergency, you were left alone. Well, those days are gone and, especially if you’re a salary worker, you are expected to be on call and available to field work related questions as early as 6AM and as late as 11PM.
So, it’s understandable that, from time to time, you’ll need a mental health day. I don’t know about you all but I don’t have enough of a stake in any company to jeopardize my health, physical or mental, for a job.
This week’s Trending Thursday is touching on that and that alone. Only one story but one that I want you to read and, in the time you would spend perusing additional stories that would’ve been posted for Trending Thursday, ask yourself if you need to use a sick day as a mental health day. How often do you take a day not to vacation but to really just enjoy it? Weekends are weekends. They’re for enjoying. But when do you step away, meditate, and really focus on bettering yourself? We all need them and we shouldn’t be ashamed to take them, nor bullied when we do. And, if you’re a person of integrity and your employer has a problem with you using these days, maybe you all need to have a discussion about either trust or what truly constitutes a healthy lifestyle.
The more we learn about human nature, the better we should be treating those around us, helping one another to become more well-rounded and complete individuals. The question is, “Are we?” Or are we trying to fit the more aware (wo)man into space that disrespects his/her uniqueness?
Time and health are two things that you cannot get back once they’re gone. Make them every day’s priorities.