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Cherish: A Story of Silver Linings

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Cherish

When I was seventeen, my first tattoo was going to be a wing on my ankle. Two weeks before I turned eighteen, I rear-ended my best friends car. Bye-bye tattoo money. Thank goodness, too, because I would have regretted that tattoo.

Instead, the first tattoo I got was the word “cherish” on my left wrist, exactly one month before my nineteenth birthday. A lot of thought went into it: which word was the most important to me? that would mean the most? that wouldn’t be too cliche? In retrospect, I should have put equal consideration into the design, but what’s done is done. So much had happened in my first year of college, and I needed something to commemorate that growth, and to remind me to continue on that path.

The Tattoo

I see my wrist every day. Just as I see my nose every day, but rarely register it. After six years, the ink on my wrist has become so common place, that it has nearly failed in its responsibility to be a daily reminder.

In my teenage years, I had a sour nature and tendency to focus on the negatives. I strung up my unfortunate events and flew the banners from the rooftops, clinging to the notion that they excused my sullen and sharp behavior. It wasn’t until I had someone very dear to me start pointing out that I was poisoning myself with that negativity. I wasn’t doing myself, or anyone around me, any good. He directed me towards finding positive things in my life. Me, being the stubborn woman that I am and still inclined to see the negatives, compromised by finding the positives in the negatives.

One way or another, the idea of a commemorative, reminding tattoo came about. I thought of the word “treasure”: to treasure what has happened, and that it’s often hard to find. But it didn’t sound right, and it seemed an odd word to appear on someone’s wrist. A few others came and went, until I finally settled on the winner.

“Cherish” means to hold dear and to protect, to care for lovingly. I direct it towards my memories, my experiences, the lessons learned, the people I’ve met, and to myself. It has served me well, when I take the time to reflect on it.

Things I Cherish

  • Having a friend in elementary school that introduced me to video games, fantasy and sci-fi books, and writing. Even though our friendship didn’t last (most likely for the best), that’s where my identity took root.
  • An argumentative divorce that took ten years to fall into silence. However damaging that it was, it did at least teach me the importance of civil speech and forgiveness.
  • Owning a horse and learning how to become self-reliant.
  • My independent, take-no-shit attitude that alienated me from potential friends, but also prevent all but a few, minor instances of bullying.
  • My abusive relationship in college, the ending of which made me realize exactly how great I am and what I deserve.
  • Fantastic friends that have stuck around through the years and across cities.
  • The chance to spend six months abroad, even though it wasn’t the right place for me.

Related Reading: Carpe Diem and Other Ambitions for 2018

A girl walks through a green field under a bright sun. In an orange overlay box, the quotes reads "Once you start replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, you'll start seeing positive results."

The Importance of Silver Linings

Bad things are never going to stop happening. What can change, though, is how you let them effect you.

I still have a long way to go. I make excuse after excuse for why my work isn’t done; I whine about my terrible boss and the crappy weather; I rage at my BFF when she decides to go visit her family for the weekend instead of binge-watching Harry Potter with me. But I am taking steps to shift my thinking towards the positive and taking things in stride. I’m turning my excuses into aspects of my life that need to be examined and redirected; the weather isn’t going to change and now I have a great excuse to wear my rain boots.

It’s also about having a growth mindset. When you can find the positives in the negatives, you find the lessons in the failure. It’s from there that you can grow (understand why it’s called a growth mindset?).

Maybe you don’t have to be as extreme as me and get a tattoo, but try to find something that will remind you to think positively. Put a message in the corner of your bathroom mirror. Put silver things in your house. Repeat a positive mantra. Keep a gratitude page in your planner. Make the change.

Related Reading: 6 Mantras to Live By in 2018

Related Reading: Creating a Bullet Journal

 

January 16, 2018
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6 Mantras to Live By in 2018

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new year mantras 2018

 

If you’re anything like anyone, right about now you’re working on a list of New Year’s Resolutions that likely has a number of repeats from years prior. Still haven’t stood up to your boss? Gained weight instead of lost it? Have yet to write that book you’ve been talking about since you were eleven *coughBELLEcough*? More than likely you start the year with great intentions, but fizzle out by March. That’s what happens. A year is a long time and a lot happens during all those moon cycles.

Maybe the problem isn’t you and your level of discipline; maybe the problem is with resolutions. 

What is a resolution?

A quick search in a separate tab lists the definitions of resolution as “a firm decision to do or not do something” and “the action of solving a problem”. This suggests that there is something wrong with us and our lives and therefore we must fix it.

Personally, here at TwoFeelsWrite, we had a bit of an issue with the ever so popular NYR to lose weight. Yes, yes, some people really do need to lose weight and some want to and that’s their life and their decision and you go Glenn Cocoa! But focusing too much on losing weight can lead to investing on a really expensive treadmill (a.k.a. coat hanger), or spending too much on a gym membership that you probably used in January, but now it’s June and you still haven’t cancelled the automatic withdrawal. One of the biggest issues with wanting to lose weight is that it can lead to dangerous fad diets or have too much focus on a number.

Resolutions are often firm and narrow, with clear success and failure. It’s hard to stick to something like that for twelve months when you obviously haven’t been working on it in the past (hence why it’s on your resolution list!). Maybe it’s time to try something else.

What is a mantra?

One more definition search: a mantra is “a statement or slogan repeated frequently” and/or “a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation”. But what does it really mean?

To us, it means a new focus, putting the emphasis on growth rather than problem. A mantra is something positive that you aim to incorporate in your daily life as a reminder towards success and happiness. There is success and there is failure, but maybe not as severely as with resolutions.

Take a look at the six mantras we’re going to be living in 2018.

1. Be Healthier

Bet ya saw that one coming a mile away. Nevertheless, it deserves to be here.

Belle: A big thing for me is my mental health, which has taken a beating in the last two years. I want to go to the gym and do yoga so that I’m physically healthy and stronger (and to look good naked, because #real), but also so that I have more energy and focus. I’m working on transitioning from coffee to tea so that I can cut out sugary creamers from my diet and keep my anxiety under control. There’s also drinking more water, not eating as much sugar, and overall healthy habits that I want to incorporate as best I can.

Elena: When I start something, I’m not always driven to finish it. The problem with being healthy is that it is never ending. My “cheat days” become my daily routine and healthy meals become less frequent. I want to work on balance, eating things that make me feel good more often: less junk food, no fast food, no soda, less alcohol and smaller portions. With the help of Pinterest, there are thousands of yummy recipes that are healthier. I received a yoga kit as a corporate gift from my company, so I have everything I could need. I just need the drive and be able to stick with it and make it a routine to be comfortable in my skin again and feel good.

2. Complain Less

In this day of climate change, political and economic disaster, and countless articles on how Millennials are killing this and another five killed in a terrorist attack, it’s hard to stay positive. But it’s important to keep some optimism and happiness in our lives.

No complaints

Belle: I was really inspired by a kid’s speech at a high school speech and debate tournament where he had this great “give yourself a hand” spiel. More or less it went something like this: “for every negative thing you focus on, point on five positives. Give naysayers and doubts the middle finger. Make a commitment to growth and a pinky promise to always keep trying. And every day give yourself a thumbs up because you did it.” That’s the sort of cheesy stuff I want to do this year. Focus on my successes more than my short comings, celebrate the little things, redirect conversations away from Negative Nancy and towards Polly Positive, and take control to change the things I complain about the most.

Elena: It’s so easy to find things to complain about on the daily: my back aches, there goes another $200 on medical bills, another misfortune to the car I’m stuck in a lease with for the next two years. I noticed when I wasn’t living in America and I was in school (not working) I was so much happier. But, I was also racking up a lot of debt. So to even the playing field, I need to find fun things to do in moderation so that I can still pay my bills, but also have a fun day out. Not just that, I find comfort in reading, writing and going to church or volunteering. When I think about people less fortunate than me, it’s easier to stop complaining.

3. Establish Sustainable Balance

This might be the biggest thing we (this time meaning our generation at large) struggle with the most. In college, there was the classic triangle of “grades, sleep, and social life: pick two”, and we’re shocked and terrified that, instead of going away, it’s grown into the hectic heptagon of “work, health, house, hobbies, sleep, social life, self care: pick two”. A lot of things fall by the wayside, and we’re still figuring out how to do it all.

Belle: I’m maybe sorta kinda cheating with this. I found that the biggest obstacle was working from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with an hour commute each way. So I got rid of it. Now I’m reorganizing my schedule around my needs and when things work best for me. For example, I can focus and get a lot of work done in the middle of the night and overall do better when I wake up later. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m setting little goals and schedules for every day so that the big tasks become little chunks and I’m more likely to have the time, energy, and discipline to do it all.

Elena: Trying to balance out my life is about as hard as trying to win $1,000 on a lottery ticket from the grocery store. I’m really terrible with following through with things: I still have a coffee table I need to stain, I have three crafts in a pile on my bedroom floor, I still need to get sandbags for my car this winter. I’m finding that when I take a moment and right things out, it’s really not that overwhelming, it’s very doable. What I need is more organization (the bullet journal is my savior), less T.V., more time reading or with people and watching my spending.

Related Reading: 5 Ways To Stay Focused 

4. Work On Yourself, For Yourself

This is the age of empowerment and self realization. Don’t admire people that improve themselves: be that person!

Photo by Uroš Jovičić on Unsplash

Belle: I’m working on a lot of projects this upcoming year because they’re things that I either really enjoy and need to have more of in my life, or because it could be the thing that let’s me do the things I really enjoy. I’m doing away with traditional definitions of success and what’s expected of me in order to do what I believe to be is best for me. No more worrying about what looks good on a resume or what’s going to be put in the family Christmas card: I know me and I’m going to do what’s best for me so that I can be my best for others.

Elena: Sometimes when I’m at work, I look up prices for working visa’s to different countries or different jobs in the area to get away. Then I come to my senses and make a list of pros and cons of my decisions. I find that the more goals I have set, even if it’s finishing a project by the end of the week, I feel so much better. For this upcoming year, I want to do things for myself; take a vacation with my godmother, go to Canada (because why the hell not, eh?), get rid of the things I don’t need, make a financial plan and stick to it, calculate my BMI to keep track of how my body changes. I want to be a better person, do things for others, work hard and have fun!

Related Reading: 3 Reasons to Love Being Single

5. Build On Successes

This is where the mantra mentality can really take hold. Every day can be another mile stone, can be the “I did five pushups instead of four” and “I only hit snooze twice this morning” and “I made a new network connection today”.

Belle: I’ve been using this philosophy a lot with my gym routine as of late: “it wasn’t my best workout, but I went. I was at the gym, and I tried. I’m still developing the habit.” I’m at the point where it’s turning into a bit of a cop out, but it’s still good to view things positively so that I’m more inclined to do it again. Now I have to learn how to recognize successes and how to turn failures into successes within new business ventures and long-term goals. I can’t afford to let something work once and then not figure out how to make it happen again.

Elena: Successes are all mental, but they come from the people around you the most. My sister lost weight, she looks great and I told her so! My boss thanks me at the end of everyday, even if I feel like I did nothing that day, she always makes me feel appreciated. It’s great to have reassurance on accomplishments, but to really feel successful, I need to really invest myself and my time. If I do that, I will feel successful when I leave the gym and my my abs are in pain when I laugh, when I have everything checked off my “to-do” list, or when I have an extra $50 in my savings. Little by little things will grow and change and make me feel more successful.

Related Reading: The Two Step: A Bilateral Move

6. Take Risks

We do not endorse covering yourself in bacon fat and jumping into a pool full of piranhas as positive risky behavior in 2018. But you won’t grow if you stay in your comfort zone, so eventually you have to cross your imaginary line and try something new. Maybe that means making the first move towards the cute guy at the bar or speaking up in work meetings. Maybe it means wearing bright red lipstick or going bungee jumping. That’s for you to decide.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Belle: Oh boy howdy. 2018 is going to be the year where everything changes for me, but it has yet to be determined if it will be for the worse or for the better. I’m starting the year off by quitting my 9-5 and trying the freelance/independent contractor/aspiring student lifestyle. And I know the risks won’t stop there. But I’m excited and I’m determined to make it work.

Elena: This is what I’m looking forward to most! I went crazy when I was abroad in college and it was probably the happiest I’ve ever been. I’m finding that I haven’t met many new people because I haven’t been going out or staying in hostels. I’m always with people I know, so we usually keep to ourselves. But the more people I meet, the more possibilities there are! I’m testing out the Inner Circle (which costs $5/week, but if you create a profile, then try to delete it, they offer you a free trial ;)). Not only is the Inner Circle meant for dating, but also just meeting people in your area. Moral of this mantra: be like Yes Man with no hesitation.

 

What are your 2018 goals and mantras? What steps will you be taking to achieve them? Let us know in the comments, as well as how we might be able to help!

December 26, 2017
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The Two Step: A Bilateral Move

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two step

How to Move Forward When Taking a Step to the Side

It started about 60 years ago in Denver: a complete stop of automobile traffic in all directions to allow pedestrians unobstructed movement in all directions. The joke became that, amongst the crowds and unpredictable paths, some people had to dance their way across the intersection. While utilized in several cities around the world, many in its origin city call it the “Denver Two-Step”. Simultaneously moving forward while moving sideways.

It’s a typically well understood and universal notion that a loss is expected when jumping from one ladder to the next, from one place to another. You have to relearn the ropes, establish a new ground floor, prove your capabilities in a new environment. Just like how you can’t expect a new romantic relationship to have as many memories and inside jokes as your last one, you can’t expect a complete career shift to get you ahead.

Right?

Maybe.

Defining Forward Movement

So often we label success by two factors: money and title. Financial status and social status. We criticize the woman who leaves her comfortable office job at an elite firm to open a sandwich shop. We laugh at the washed up celebrities working behind the bar counter. And yet we applaud the man who works sixty hours a week for an extra $300 a month and missed his daughter’s soccer game because of a recent promotion on the fast track to partner.

Forward movement means the fixing of a problem. It’s something tangible, something you can see, point to and say “that’s forward.” It’s a higher salary. It’s moving from a cubicle to a corner office. It’s having less people to report to while becoming the person more people answer to.

But that’s changing.

Related Reading: A Millennial Job Interview

A woman stands on the end of a pier by a lake in the woods.

Redefining Success

We’ve all heard various renditions of “pursue happiness” and “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. But there’s no money in art history, and selling knitted hats on Etsy won’t put food on the table. So we keep slugging on in the factory, in the ditch, behind the desk, in the job that doesn’t make us happy but pays the bill.

But things are changing. And we can change with it.

Slowly but surely, businesses are catching on to the new surge of Millennials fighting for their values of culture, social responsibility, and a work-life balance. The corner offices are disappearing. Success is being redefined.

I’ve already changed my career path since graduating college. Once a teacher, now a receptionist. And there’s another move looming in my future. In one position I had some (debatable) status, not a lot of money, and even less time. In the other I had very little to no status, almost decent money, and a moderate amount of time but terrible hours. I don’t consider either to be a success. Within the first few months at both positions, I became stressed, unmotivated, and threatened with dangerous coping methods.

So let’s call that move a draw. A purely sideways move: less status for more money, but overall no increase in satisfaction.

Because that’s what it’s about: satisfaction. Not complacency, not acceptance, not even happiness. Satisfaction.

It’s a balance. Work will always be work, no matter how much you love it. But you have to be satisfied with the balance between effort and payout, between how much time you spend at the office versus at home, between your personal wants and needs and those of the company. Some people might be willing to work long, grueling hours because the pay is good. Others may be more inclined to take a pay cut because it gives them more free time to pursue their hobbies or spend  time with friends and family. One person may crave the structure of a 9-5 job with a dress code and a boss, while another finds joy in working sporadic hours from home in their pajamas.

It’s all in the eye of the beholder, dependent on personal values. So there’s one more thing that success is: fluid.

A change in careers can be a step forward if that’s the direction you want to take it in. You might lose money, lose sleep, lose status, but you might gain happiness, autonomy, a better work community. Jumping from one ladder to another doesn’t have to lose you any ground when you define the ground worth standing on.

 

The title "Moving Up and Over: Redefining Success" if overlaid against a pair of black converse shoes on green grass.
December 21, 2017
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