How Do You Treat Yourself?

I literally counted down until spring break arrived. I’ve actually had my Cancun getaway booked since February!!!

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GIF Retrieved from GIPHY

That’s my thing: traveling.
I try to take a vacation and travel somewhere (not a “stay-cation”) at least three times a year. Sometimes my bank account is like “Girl bye, you tried it!”, lol.

man looking at ATM Machine shocked

GIF Retrieved from GIPHY

So yea, lol, three doesn’t always make the cut, but at least two vacations keeps me satisfied. That is how I treat myself. I work hard, I study hard, so I make sure that I play TWICE as hard.

Traveling is more like a “big” treat for me. I do other small (and way less expensive) things for myself too. I LOVE Thai rolled ice cream and I reward myself with it any day that the temperature outside is above 55 degrees, like last friday for example.

photo of ice cream with toppings

Photo taken by Yours Truly at ICE NY !

Also, I love getting facials! It just so happens that my health insurance covers facials at the same place where I get physical therapy, and I make sure to use my benefits!!
None shall go to waste, lol.

cat laying down with cucumber on eyes like a spa

Photo Retrieved from Pinterest

But that’s me. These are things that I personally like to do as part of my self care regimen. It’s not always easy to just pick up and make time for these things, so often we neglect self care. I’m sure you can relate that it can be really easy to lose sight of yourself in the midst of all the things you are doing on a daily basis. Whether that includes work, school, taking care of someone else (child, family member, partner, etc), an internship, personal obligations, socializing, or whatever else. Too often what happens is that it’s not until you get to the “breaking point” that you are then forced to stop and take some time to focus on you.

I just said to my mom the other day that sometimes I feel like I’m just living the same day over and over and over. Do you ever feel like that? You wake up and you go from one place to the next; school then work-or vice versa. Then when you actually get home, neither of these things are actually in your rear view because you’re doing homework, or thinking about your next work shift. Then the next day comes and you repeat the same cycle.

Even if you aren’t working a job, I’m sure you have things other than school that take up your time on a daily basis. So my question to you is how do you treat yourself? I mean that in literal terms like “do you treat yourself well?”, and also “treat yourself” as in reward yourself.

So the literal terms- that’s things like do you get enough sleep? Do you eat properly and regularly? There was a point where I would be “so busy” I would forget to eat the entire day and when I got home, I would have the absolute worst headache. I would moan and groan about how I think it’s because I didn’t eat. DUH it is! That’s like driving around all day ignoring the gas light in your car, and then complaining when you break down in the middle of nowhere.

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When was the last time you checked your “tank” and made sure you were all filled up and good to go? The last person we should be ignoring is ourselves.
Do you put aside enough time for yourself with no outside distractions?

Ask yourself this one question: Am I treating myself the best I could?
If the answer is yes, congratulations!
It’s not the easiest thing to do so I commend you 100% for putting
you first. 🙂
If the answer is “no”, or you’re unsure, then today is the day to start to think about what you can do to treat yourself better.  

As students, “I don’t have time” is a common excuse we have when it comes to self-care.

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I know I preach a lot about self care, but that’s because every day on campus I see too many of my peers looking worn out–probably from hours of staring at textbooks, working on papers, and trying to meet rapidly approaching deadlines. As our responsibilities pile up, it’s easy to allow our own health and sanity to take a backseat to feelings of restlessness. Sooner or later, the effects of excessive stress remind us that our personal well-being should never be overlooked, whether we ask for the reminder or not.

cat with hair sticking up looking stressed and angry

Photo Retrieved from Me.Me

Suggestions of ways to treat yourself/ care for yourself is different for everyone. Your friend’s self-care routine might include a 7 a.m. run or gym visit every morning, but for you, just thinking about doing anything at 7 a.m. might make you even more stressed out than you already are, lol. I get stressed every night when I remember I have an 8:30 class and I swear the whole semester goes by and I never get used to it! In that situation, maybe a short walk on afternoons or evenings would work better for you. The thing is self-care isn’t about what anybody else is doing; It’s about what your mind, body and spirit are telling you that they need.

I want you to take this Self Care Assessment that we in Human Services use with our clients. With it we are able to get a better idea of how well a client is treating themselves and the things that bring them pleasure or happiness. We also use it ourselves to assess our own state. The assessment states that it “provides an overview of effective strategies to maintain self-care.” As the directions on the assessment says: “after completing the full assessment, choose one item from each area that you will actively work to improve. This will at least give you an idea on where to begin and you can brainstorm idea on how you plan to improve your self care in that area.”  Taking this test is a big step to changing or improving how you treat yourself because awareness is always step one. I’m excited for you!

We have to take care of ourselves along with taking care of our responsibilities. Self-care is not always the easiest thing to implement and be consistent with, especially while striving for success during your academic undergrad journey. I’m definitely still learning to nurture, and take care of myself while gaining a satisfactory level of student-work-life balance. It’s difficult at times, especially during midterms, and finals, and hectic times at work-but I know how important it is.

Like the well known quote says “If you don’t love yourself, who will?”; It’s the little pleasures that get us through our everyday grind. Lunch from our favorite place, sweets and treats to seal a long day, getting your eyebrows done, or kicking back and watching the game. Don’t wait for your next day off, or your next planned vacation. Remind yourself that you deserve to live a satisfying life and enjoy yourself on a regular basis by doing little things that make you happy. What things from the assessment did you score lower on and would like to improve? What are you doing really well? Tell me about it below.

 

Love ya, Neffi

quote photo

Photo Retrieved from HerCampus

 

Help Me Howard…or Anybody Actually…

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Photo Retrieved from SalaGraphics

I’ve realized that it’s really hard for me to ask for help.

I sat back and I thought about why asking for help is this huge challenge for me.
I figured out the reasons why are:

-I fear being vulnerable to someone else or being rejected.
-I fear placing my responsibilities onto someone else and they drop the ball.
-I don’t want anyone to feel burdened by me.
-I fear appearing weak or needy.
-I fear not being in control of all aspects of my life.
-I’m pretty prideful and I believe I have to be resilient, self-reliant, and independent, and I fear appearing any less than that.
-I  also fear…..

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Photo Retrieved from NASGA

Fear, Fear, Fear, that’s all it is!

All I’m doing is letting my fear stifle me from looking outside myself and utilizing my support network! This is probably the most backwards logic because although I don’t like to ask for help, I love to help others when asked. In fact, it makes me extremely happy to be asked, and I’m quick to go above and beyond. I will drop all of my own responsibilities, despite the consequences, to help someone else. I’m literally getting a Human Services degree to professionally help people lol.
How is it that am I so quick to offer help, yet I still don’t appreciate the value in asking for support enough to ask for it when I need it myself?

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Photo Retrieved from LadyLebz

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Makes no sense at all but it’s real.

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Photo Retrieved from iEmoji

We all respond to times of trouble and struggle in different ways. Are you stubborn like me and don’t ask for help when you need it?? Do you too struggle in silence too? Why??

When did asking for help become a negative thing? When did asking for help take away your independance?

It could be because we’ve watched our parents, or other role models “get it done” on their own. Or maybe we’ve been conditioned to believe asking for help is a sign of weakness or incompetence. Or maybe we simply just don’t know how to ask for help. In a society that largely promotes self help, the idea that some of us need to learn ways to seek and ask for assistance from others isn’t really promoted. Maybe you’ve been vulnerable and asked for help before and the experience left you feeling humiliated, or some other response that caused you to feel like you would never put yourself in that position again. There are countless solid reasons why asking for help may be a challenge for you. If you sit and reflect on it I’m sure you will come up with a list like mine that points to a common theme like fear, lack of confidence, lack of trust, or whatever your vice is that’s getting in your way.

I believe that the hesitation to ask for help is because we have the wrong perspective about it. Me for example, I love to help because of how it makes me feel. It gives me positive feelings; I feel needed, satisfied, valued, significant, and appreciated. I feel like I am doing good and making a mark in someone’s life. Do I see the person that’s asking me for help as weak? No, of course not. I see them simply as a person asking for support in a situation. Yet I will think all the negatives of myself if I need to ask for help? Double standard much??

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Photo Retrieved from AminoApps

If you are like me, then WE are looking at this all wrong. We get in our own way when we make asking for help mean something about us that isn’t true. We get caught up in thinking it means we’re weak, inadequate, helpless, inferior, or some other negative label. The reality is that asking for help does not indicate anything about you; it plain and simply means you need help in a specific situation, or at a specific time. That is all.

Asking for help is actually a sign of strength and courage because THAT is what you display when you seek out help when you need it, not weakness. Don’t ignore the fact that help is a two way street with benefits for you and the other person. Instead of incorrectly thinking that asking for help means you’re a burden, know that you are actually giving others an opportunity to feel good about themselves like you do when you help others. It’s a win-win baby!

The helper gains confidence knowing they are a good person and they enjoy the good feelings that come from that. Studies call it the “helper’s high”– the portion of the brain responsible for feelings of reward, is triggered when someone helps someone else. The brain also releases “feel-good” endorphins and chemicals and makes you want to do more. So look at you, asking for help, and making the world a happier place!

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GIF Retrieved from Tenor

Whoever helped you ends up feeling great, you get the help you need, and you get the affirming reassurance that there are people out there that you can call on when you need them, and they will be there for you and have your back.

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Photo Retrieved from Amazon

It’s OK not to know everything. It’s OK not to be able to do everything on your own. It’s OK to need someone else. There is no shame in letting someone extend a helping hand to you. We all have something to share whether it be knowledge, time, talents, connections, insight, experience, skills, resources, or simple love and care; and the reality is most people love to share them. We can do so much more together, in partnership, than we can do alone. Think of the quote “Two hands are better than one.” It’s true. Too often we choose to ‘tough it out’ rather than reaching out to ask for help when we need it most.

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Photo Retrieved from FizzyPeaches

I don’t expect you to read this post and just jump and start asking for help every time you need it, but I’m saying challenge yourself to do it more. I challenged myself recently, and I’m so happy that I did. I had been feeling really emotionally drained and almost like a machine constantly running from my internship, to school, to work, meetings, and all the other things I have on my plate. Then after all that, I get to unwind with a nice plate of homework, how exciting, lol.

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GIF Retrieved from GIPHY

So anyway, I was feeling drained and it’s not that I needed anyone’s help to physically do something, but I did need help changing my mood and I needed to feel supported. I sent a text to a few of my friends that simply said “ Hola! Just asking you to keep me in your prayers and send love and light my way. I’ve been struggling a little lately and just want to ask you to make sure you keep me in your thoughts!” I felt extremely vulnerable and it was uncomfortable. Not the strong, invincible Neffi! Yes, the strong, invincible Neffi, and you know what? The love I felt from them in their responses let me know why I should never feel fear of reaching out to people who love and are there for me when I need to. Why the heck am I letting this fear disable me? Not any more.

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GIF Retrieved from GIPHY

I want to share these two articles with you, 5 Mistaken Beliefs About Asking for Help, and 2 Words That Make Asking for Help a Lot Easier and I encourage you to read them. See that you are not alone in this struggle and you can change your perspective for your own benefit. Asking for help can be scary and hard but by having the courage to ask for help, you’re not dragging yourself or anyone else down, you’re pulling you, and them up. No more struggling in silence, no more feeling you are not worthy of someone else’s favor, because you are. Replace those negative thoughts with thoughts of empowerment. Everyone that you know needs help at some point so don’t criticize yourself. Ask for it once and you’ll be better at asking the second time, trust me. 🙂

“Ask for help not because you are weak, but because you want to remain strong”
– Les Brown

Love you,

Neffi

 

Ain’t I A Woman?

Women’s History Month may be coming to an end, but women will continue to leave their mark. Earlier this month I talked about women in my personal life that inspire me. Then the other day at a meeting at work, the icebreaker question asked was “If you could speak to one famous or well- known woman, past or present, who would it be?”

Immediately I’m thinking Beyonce! Period.

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Then I said, Oh no, girl, think bigger: Michelle Obama!

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Oh I got it this time–Angela Davis!

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Noo, Neffi! Oooh Coretta Scott King!

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Photo Retrieved from GeorgiaEncyclopedia

It was so hard, because my God, there are so many fierce women I would love to converse with if I had the opportunity! Ugh!

Well, it was getting closer and closer to my turn so I had to get it together LOL.

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All eyes were on me now and I finally made the choice of who I wish I could have had the opportunity to meet. I chose Ms. Sojourner Truth: former slave, anti-slavery activist, and big, bad, and bold feminist!

When I was in middle school and Black History Month rolled around, we would learn about African-American men and women of the past who made a mark in history. One year we were assigned a specific person to do our report on, and I was given Sojourner Truth.

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Painting of Sojourner Truth Retrieved from History.com

I remember being upset because I wanted someone “more famous” like Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, or Harriet Tubman, LOL.

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GIF Retrieved from GIPHY

After actually doing my research and learning about this phenomenal woman, I learned that this woman who I dreaded doing a report on was a part of the reason I have the rights I have today, like the right to vote and to participate in politics, the right to own property, and more. Often taken for granted, women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries realized that they need political power, such as the right to vote, to bring about change. They saw that this was how to get their voices heard and included, and how to fight for the rights and equality women deserved. Sojourner was a big part of that, and if you don’t know about Sojourner Truth, well, let me tell you.

According to History.comSojourner Truth wasn’t born with that name. Her real name was Isabella Baumfree and she was born right here in New York (one of ours, yes!). She was a slave who escaped and went on to become one of the most well-known abolitionist leaders and powerful human rights advocate in the 19th century, alongside other abolitionists including Frederick Douglass. She dedicated her life to speaking out passionately on the subjects of women’s rights, universal suffrage, and prison reform.

EducationUpdate.com explains that in 1827, the New York Anti-Slavery Law of 1827 law was passed. You would think this means Sojourner would be free and all would be well. Well that was not so. Biography.com tells us the story of how her master refused to free her, so she ended up running away. Later on, she became a preacher and that’s when she changed her name to Sojourner Truth. Sojourner means “traveler,” and she did just that–spent her time traveling and delivering lectures that support her position on social issues. She was involved in the anti-slavery movement, and by the 1850s she was involved in the women’s rights movement as well.

As part of one of her lecture tours, at the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention held in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth delivered what is now recognized as one of THE most famous abolitionist and women’s rights speeches in American history. Read the original transcript of her speech that was posted in the Anti-Slavery Bugle newspaper on June 21st, 1851.  My favorite excerpts are:

“I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal; I can carry as much as any man, and eat as much too, if I can get it.”
and
“If woman has a pint and man has a quart- why can’t she have her little pint full?You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much- for we can’t take much more than our pint can hold.”

Such bold statements by Sojourner highlight her unapologetic plea for gender equality. She challenged racial and gender inferiority and inequality by reminding the audience of her combined strength and female status. Read the speech; it’ll give you chills. Just amazing.

She closes the speech with:

 “But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, and he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.”

I mean, can you imagine being in that room watching her speak to this crowd so strongly?? I want you to remember that this is the 1850’s, with slavery only recently abolished, and women being seen as inferior beings and “property,” yet here she is, standing up to it all!

This speech, although it’s what she’s most remembered for, wasn’t the only fierce thing Sojourner did. She was a BOSS in the courtroom, winning almost every case she took to court. I read about three iconic cases that she won on NotableBiographies.com and SojournerTruth.org. You can read about them by clicking on the site links. First, after she escaped and sought freedom, she sued for the return of her five-year-old-son who was illegally sold into slavery in Alabama and won that case. Then, in the mid 1860s, when a streetcar conductor tried to violently block her from riding, she took it up to the highest in the company and made sure he was arrested and ultimately fired. She won! Then even more wins: Sojourner was a part of a religious group and a couple from that group falsely accused her of trying to poison them. What did she do? Sue them for slander. What happened? She Won. BOSS.

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Photo Retrieved from BeSoBossy

Sojourner is an inspiration to me and I am thankful for her actions in the past because they have paved the way for my present, and the future of little girls all around the world. Imagine if we still couldn’t vote? If we think we’re going through difficulties now with this current administration, just imagine how worse things could have been in the past or could be now?? I mean recently we watched a disturbing meeting happen where a table full of male lawmakers sat and made decisions regarding funding for healthcare for women concerning abortion and women’s reproductive rights….without a woman around. What?? Make it make sense. Read it about it here.
“Hey guys, thanks for knowing what I need better than me.”

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Photo Retrieved from VP Mike Pence Twitter

So as we close Women’s History Month, I just wanted to talk about this woman that I am grateful for who had the “audacity” to stand up and speak out for women’s rights in a dangerous time. The advocacy continues on today. From Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Author and Social activist Bell Hooks who speak out on women’s rights and what it means to be a feminist, to any woman who has realized that she wasn’t getting equal treatment or pay and spoke up, to every single woman who marched in the Women’s March, our fight lives on and our victories continue to roll in. Happy Women’s History Month, darlings, and just remember: The fire doesn’t die out on April 1st.
Make history everyday!

 

Love You, Neff!

 

 

Hello Spring!

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Photo Retrieved from PictureQuotes

No winter lasts forever and today is officially the first day of spring!
Today marks a new season and a new beginning. You can already begin to see signs of spring everywhere–daylight sticks around longer (yay!), it smells different, the whole atmosphere evolves. Change is definitely in the air. When I think of spring I think of flowers, rain, spring cleaning…and I also think about setting new intentions and change for myself.
While the flowers are growing, what do you want to “grow” in your life?.

That leads me to talk to you all today about vision boarding.

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Photo Retrieved from NJMom

You may or may not be familiar with the concept of a Vision Board. I wasn’t actually introduced to making one until 2016. I made my first one then, and I realized how powerful it really is to create one. A vision board is a visualization tool that you can use as inspiration and motivation for your journey toward things you want to acquire or accomplish short-term, or long-term. Some people call it a “dream board” or an “inspiration board.” No matter what you call it, it’s basically a collage of pictures, words, and quotes that serve to remind you of your passion, purpose, and things you’re working towards. I think spring is the perfect time for creating a vision board because as the earth is starting a new chapter, so are you. People spring clean, and shop for new spring and summer wardrobes, now it’s time to add spring dream-chasing to the list!

Vision boards are made to depict goals and dreams in all areas of your life, or in any one specific area that you are focusing on. Maybe you want a promotion at work, or to vacation more, to be happier, to increase or improve your quality of health, to start-up a business, to finish school, or to have a better relationship; it can be any and all of the things you desire.

The first step to creating one is to think of goals you want to set within a certain period of time. I would say don’t think further than like a years time. You want to make the goals reachable and winnable sooner than later. You could even turn your vision board creation process into a fun night. You and some friends could meet up and create your boards together!

group of women holding up picture collage boards

Me and My Friends at a Vision Board Event

Secondly, after you’ve thought of your goals and desires, then you want to find pictures that represent or symbolize the experiences, feelings, and possessions you want to attract into your life, and place them on your board. You can use photographs, cut things from magazines, or find your pictures on the Internet–whatever inspires you.

Also, it doesn’t have to be only pictures, but it can be anything that speaks to you and your vision. For example, one of my friends was adding to her board the desire to get a new apartment. So what she did was, she taped an old key onto her board to symbolize the new apartment key she was hoping to have soon. Inspiring AF!

You can even include a picture of yourself or friends and family members on your board. You want to choose those that were taken in a happy moment, like you smiling, for example.

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Photo Retrieved from 2DamnFunny

They are part of your support network so having their image on your board serves as affirmation from them that you can do whatever you’re aspiring to. 🙂

You can also add affirmations, inspirational words and quotations too. Those memes and quote pics you see on social media and the internet that you always end up screenshotting–add those! Whatever inspires you and makes you feel good. Vision boarding is all about you digging deep and really making and recognizing decisions and things you want for your life. As you can tell from my blogging style, I’m ridiculously visually charged so this whole process of creating a board is like the most exciting thing ever to me! Lol

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GIF Retrieved from GIPHY

For full instructions on how to create a vision board, you can always Google or Youtube search instructions, but here is one I particularly like. Just click and scroll down to the directions. Some instructions tell you to purchase a lot of fancy or expensive items but this can simply be done with paper, scissors, and glue, to be honest. You also have the option to create a vision board digitally using websites like PicMonkey , DreamItAlive,  or a Vision Board App, but I prefer the old school paper and I’ll tell you why next.

Lastly, make sure your vision board is somewhere you will see it daily. Whether it’s hung on your wall, or on your dresser or windowsill. The best way to achieve your goals is to keep them at the top of your mind, so you’re always looking for ways to move yourself closer to them. So by putting your board somewhere you can see it every day, you prompt automatic actions that support your goals. It’s almost like you subconsciously play mind games with yourself, in a good way. 🙂 (This is why I like creating the board on paper!) 

Your ability to visualize your dreams serves as a driving force in them becoming your reality. My latest vision board had many things I was aspiring to do and I have done them all! (except one, I think…lol). I last made a vision board two years ago on March 23rd, 2016, so I am definitely going to try to make a new one this weekend. Also, to reiterate being cost effective, all I’m going to do is turn the old board around and put my new pictures on the back side. Smart right? LOL.

Check out my old one.

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My Old Vision Board

The biggest thing on my old board was that I wanted to enroll in school, I did. I wanted to vacation and take more breaks–two months after creating that board I was vacationing in the Dominican Republic. I also wanted to elevate my self confidence and not be so insecure about my body image and I put quotes on the board to affirm me. I wanted to find an outlet where I could inspire others, I didn’t know what I had in mind, and here I am on now the Buzz talking to you beautiful people! I’m not saying the vision board is this magic tool and things will just start happening, things start happening because the board keeps you focused on what you want.

I haven’t yet practiced what I’m about to preach to you, but creating a vision board is something I recommend doing every year, or however periodically you feel depending on the goal term of your last board.

As you continue to grow, evolve and expand, your dreams do too! Acknowledge them!

I hope I’ve inspired you to create your own vision board and really start to move your dreams forward into reality.

Lova’ Ya,

Neffi

What is your WHY?

What is your “why”? What motivates you to be who you want to be? To do the work that you do? To attend school week after week working towards your degree? To strive for the things you want in life? Why do you have the goals that you have?

I ask myself these questions all the time. The answers always motivate me and remind me why I go to school, why I have chosen to work in the field of Human Services, and why I want to create the best life that I can for myself and my future family. Asking these questions always triggers reflective moments for me.

The program that I work with, This Way Ahead, provides a first job opportunity to over 400 teens throughout NYC every year who are looking to start their careers. As I am interviewing these young people to get into the program–meeting all these diverse, smart, talented, teens with different personalities–it’s so humbling and inspiring. It makes me think back to when I was 16 and 17 years old and I had all the dreams and plans you could think of. I wanted to be a teacher, a forensic scientist, and own a daycare/after-school center, all at the same time lol.

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Photo Retrieved from Daily Mail

Do you remember when you were 16? Life was so free and so stressful at the same time right?! We thought we had it hard then, but we didn’t nearly anticipate the obstacles and struggles that would introduce themselves in the years to come. One thing I definitely did not anticipate was the discipline that college required. I was so used to being naturally strong academically and not needing to study because (1) I had great memory, and (2) I was charming and my teachers would probably give me high grades anyway because they liked me (but you didn’t hear that from me because that’s not okay lol). I got into Brooklyn College on a full scholarship so I had already told myself, “girl this is going to be a breeze.” A breeze, it was not.

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Photo Retrieved from V Files

I was overwhelmed by the amount of work assigned and the fast pace of the classes, and I felt totally unprepared by high school. I was also consumed by my new friends. We had so much fun together at the mall, at the local tattoo shop, and other hangout spots…all during the times we were supposed to be in class. Not to mention my boyfriend at the time lived a few blocks away from the campus. Just a mess, lol.

man holding his head in stressful expression

Photo Retrieved from XDA Forum

I didn’t do so well, obviously. I found myself “rebelling” against the conditions of the scholarship because I felt they were controlling my every move. I even ended up having to transfer out of Brooklyn College because I ended up on academic probation and did not pick up my grades the following semester. I got my act together at Bronx Community College but still made the mistake of withdrawing from classes late and ultimately, I ended up taking a break because of the financial consequences. I re-entered school a year ago after 6 years. Now today when I look back on the time I let slip from me, if I could go back, yeah maybe I would do it differently, but I am happy for how it all played out. I’m the high-achieving student I am now (*cough cough 4.0* lol) because I let the past motivate me to not waste any more of my own time and not to waste any more of my potential. I was able to learn from my mistakes, and use them to improve my work habits so that I could excel in school.

This experience taught me that there’ll be moments and memories in our lives that really humble us, and remind us why we do what we do. These moments reveal why we work so hard, why we want to make sure that we don’t end up in certain situations, and why we have certain goals, dreams, and motivations. That period in my life was, and still is, an important reflective moment for me because of the lessons I learned after going through it, and how I ended up on the other side stronger than I was before.

Back to my job. Now, when I first started at my job and we would be putting together our workshop curriculum for programming, my coworker would always want to put in a “What is your why?” activity where he would show his students a video, and then had a discussion with them around the things, and people that motivate them. My supervisor would always joke and ask him, “You’re not tired of that video?” lol and I thought it was hilarious because we could always look forward to him bringing up that video as a suggestion, without fail. As funny as I thought it was, when he actually showed me the video I understood why he used it for his students so much. It really got me to thinking, “What is MY why?”

They say first they laugh then they follow. Now look at me: Every new group of students I get, I’m the one getting joked on for playing this video for them. The video is of motivational speaker Eric Thomas, speaking to a group of college football players who are aspiring to succeed in the NFL. He uses sports references to relate to them and asks them questions like “What is your ‘why’ that leads you to want to play well on the field?” He asks them for who, what, or why they want to be successful, and why they even want to wake up in the morning. He talks about his own “why” and how it motivates him in his life.

Click and watch the video below and take a few minutes to think about your why. I love this video because when I heard it for the first time a few years ago, that’s the first time I actually realized my own why, and was able to identify it as a “why” and as a source of motivation.

So what is my “why”??
My “why I do what I do” is because I want to set an example: an example to the young people I mentor, and an example to my younger siblings and nieces. I want to make my parents proud, and myself proud. It means so much to me to (1) be my family’s first college graduate, and (2) to be showing my younger siblings and nieces that it’s okay for you to create your own pace. I work this hard in school to show them that you can bounce back from anything if you want to, and if you put your mind and will to it. There is a lot of pressure once you start college and I think people do not normalize it enough, as though it doesn’t exist. It comes easy to some and hard to others, and I want them to know that they are in control of their journey, and that they don’t have to hold themselves to anyone else’s standards or pace but their own.

My “why” for returning to college to get my degree even though I felt comfortable just working is because I’ve watched people close to me struggle financially, or be in a standstill position due to a lack of education, and I don’t want that for myself. I push through my tired days because I want to be better than statistics say people from my neighborhood, my culture, and my race can be. When my days get hard and I’m on the verge of giving up, and I am questioning why I need to do all these things– remembering my “why”, keeps me pushing for my success. Instead of quitting, I remember why I started and why I’m doing it.

After you watched the video, how did that conscious moment of reflection rejuvenate you in your purpose?

So I ask you now….”What is Your Why”?? Tell me in the comments!

Love Ya, Neffi

Quote Picture

Photo Retrieved from Debra Trappen Blog

Who Run The World? Girls!!

Quote Picture

Retrieved from EllevateNetwork

It’s Women’s History Month!!
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I think it’s safe to say these past two years, 2016 and 2017, have been “years of the woman.”
I mean EVERY year is our year, and EVERY day is our day, but we’ve truly witnessed what we can consider a new revolution!

We came this close to a female president.

woman holding pointer and thumb close almost touching

Retrieved from imgflip

Women have stood up for themselves and supported each other unapologetically. Feminists have organized in phenomenal ways such as the Women’s March, and the #MeToo movement, to get our voices heard and make sure we were not ignored. We broke records in film and media, politics, sports, and more.

woman posing and smiling

Photo of Shonda Rhimes Retrieved from IndieWire

girl in air mid somersault

Photo of Gymnast Simone Biles Retrieved from Jezebel

large group of women marching holding signs

Photo of The Women’s March Retrieved from The NYTimes

sign with fists saying me too

Photo of #MeToo Sign Retrieved from NBCNews

We represented.
Period.
As an unapologetic feminist myself, this all just makes my heart SCREAM with excitement!

For example, read about these 50 times that women SLAYED the life out of 2017 !!!
Don’t pass this link by; you have to read it!
I am so impressed by us, we really just do not play.

woman smirking in front of microphone

Photo Retrieved from Women.com

A few weeks ago, one of my blog sisters Brianna gave me one of the best compliments ever.

I love your boldness of women power. You create such a world of female domination.”
Brianna my love, you made my day when I read that, I could just cry.

girl smiling and crying happy tears

Photo Retrieved from Buzzfeed

Every morning I wake up I am thankful I am a woman. We are the most powerful, divine, resilient, magical, beautiful, and strong beings to walk this earth and I am so proud, so honored, and so happy to be one.

woman flexing muscle

Photo Retrieved from InvestorPlace

Now, I love to hear about well-known-woman wins. At the end of the day, a win for one of us is a win for all of us, but in ode to Women’s History Month, I’d like to acknowledge some of the phenomenal women that I know personally who are not in the public spotlight. I want to let them know that I see them and I’m proud of them. I want to tell them that they inspire women and young girls to work hard for what they want, to follow their dreams and desires, and most of all that if they fall, to get back up stronger. These women are examples of female divinity, empowerment, and strength and success in their own rights.

  1. Meet Rachel. Mother of 5, grandmother of 3. Second mom to everyone she’s ever met—My mother. You all should feel like you know her at this point; I’m always talking about her, lol.

    two women smiling

    Me and My Mom
    Photo Credit: Moi

    I’ve watched her do these things called “mothering” and “life” without breaking a sweat. I know it wasn’t easy, but she sure made it look bearable, even during hard times. She has the purest heart and has forgiven people for things I don’t think I ever could. Through every obstacle, like a phoenix she rises from the flames stronger than ever. When people admire someone they usually say they wish to be “half the person” they are, but nope, that’s not how she wants us to see things. She always says “I don’t want you all to be like me, I want my kids to be better than me.” If I could be as amazing of a woman as she is, I would be content and believe that I could do and conquer anything.

  2. Meet Afiya. As a teen mom, I’ve seen my older sister, Afiya, work retail, work as a bank teller, and do whatever it was so that she could that provide for her family. I’ve watched her struggle as a parent but keep working to come out on the other side triumphant, and provide the best life she can for my niece. My sister started as a school safety agent and didn’t stop there. She continued climbing her way up the ranks. Five years ago she became a Corrections Officer, and today, she is a Captain Officer. Working in a jail has to be one of the hardest places to be all day, even though you’re on the other side of the bars. I know it isn’t easy, but she does not falter on hard days, and keeps taking it one accomplishment at a time. I don’t think I’ve ever even told her, so Afiya, I’m proud of you sister. When the road gets rough, one thing about you is you go out and buy your own cement mix and repave it yourself.
    woman graduating in police force

    My Sister Afiya, Photo Credit: Moi

    P.S it’s her birthday in 3 days…..

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    Photo Retrieved from Pinterest

     

  3. Meet Lauren and Stefanie. Three years ago I met a woman at work, Lauren, who challenged all my insecurities and then also challenged me to really access my full potential unapologetically, and without fear. She’s the type to stop you
    mid-sentence when you utter the words “I can’t.” Through that woman I met another, Stefanie, and they both exemplify the image of women standing in their power and influence to empower other females.
    Empowered women empower women.

    two women standing with another woman crouched between them

    From Left to Right: Stefanie, Me, Lauren

    two women smiling

    Lauren and Stefanie, Photo Credit: Unknown

    Lauren and Stefanie continue to inspire me through regular conversation, their podcast Not Your Momma’s Podcast, and just knowing I have them in my corner. Watching them grow and flourish only pushes me to water my own seeds.

  4. Meet the Queens of The Buzz. Last but never least.

    We have like a “Sis-mance” with each other, we’re always talking about each other in our posts lol. These ladies inspire me to own my voice, personality, and my opinion. They affirm me all the time. They affirm that I don’t have to “turn down the volume” which I sometimes think about myself. They remind me to always keep an open heart to new people because these people can influence your life greatly in a short period of time. We share many of the same stresses, life experiences, and determination, and together we are truly a force to be reckoned with. The world deserves to hear all that you ladies have to say.
    Thank you for accepting me into your hearts. 🙂

    To all my beautiful females out here working on your dreams and goals, taking care of your families, taking care of yourselves, hustling out here every day on campus for your degree: You are Woman. You will not be stepped on or stepped over. You don’t need permission. You are UNSTOPPABLE. You are a fierce queen! You are not inferior to anyone else, regardless of sex, status, or age. You are in your own lane and you deserve it all! I can go on and on!

    Sisterssss let’s celebrate each other.
    Brothers, celebrate the women in your life this month: your mothers, sisters, partners, friends, daughters, any woman that inspires and influences you!

    I celebrate all year, but I’m REALLY celebrating all month, baby!

    Happy Happy Happy Women’s History Month! Our time is now and forever.

    Love You All !

    female symbol with crown

    Logo Photo Retrieved from GooglePlay

Progress is a Process: Forming Habits Follow-Up

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Retrieved from BeingIndispensable

If you thought I forgot, think again. It’s Day 21! In my post 3 weeks ago, Time to Re-Wire: Forming Habits we talked about forming new habits in our lives to upgrade ourselves. I hope you got a chance to read the 3 R’s article and put your new habit into motion. If you have, how’s it been going?

When setting goals in our lives, we usually give ourselves a timeframe to do the work so we can check back in and measure progress/results. My new habit I wanted to work to form was to be in bed by 11:00 p.m. because my goal is to get more sleep. In some cases you can be super excited to see your amazing progress, and in others, you can wind up being discouraged by the results because you expected better.

I know the same feelings can arise when trying to create a new habit. Twenty-one days may have passed and you feel no difference, or no real improvement or progress. Well, habits are essentially a skill. This means that the more you practice forming habits, the better you get at it. If you’re new to it and just starting to develop better habits, take my advice and start extremely small. The reminder, the routine, and the reward are the three pillars and the foundation of the habit-forming loop. This is literally the science behind how habits are formed. Don’t believe me? Read about it here.

If these 21 days have initiated your 180-degree change, congratulations! Me? I’m doing alright lol, I have my relapses, but James Clear says in the 3 R’s article “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior does not materially affect the habit formation process. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.” Thank you for the affirmation, Mr. Clear! This means you should celebrate how far you have actually gone and continue pushing forward!

quote photo

Retrieved from YourBirthdayQuotes

Progress is a process.

Remember, whichever habit you choose to work on, don’t get discouraged if it hasn’t become automatic after 21 days. Think of this as the test trial, because as I said in my original post, a lot of concrete research says that 21 days is too short to fully form a habit anyway–but it’s a start. To get to day 400, you have to start at Day 1. Am I right or am I right?? It reminds us that habit, much like success, is NOT “one size fits all”. It’s going to be different for everybody. How long it takes to form a new habit depends on (1) the type of behavior trying to be turned into habit. I mean if you’ve been doing something for decades, 21 days might barely be a scratch on the surface right; and (2), it depends on the biggest factor: YOU. Are you really planning and working towards it?

Pick one habit to form at a time, because overcommitting can be a huge mistake and lead to you feeling discouraged. Start Small. Forget performance for now, and just focus on consistency. Keep in mind the “Three R’s,” and don’t punish yourself for setbacks. Make it fun and enjoy yourself. Everybody needs some help, and creating a support system to keep you on track and “on goal” is a major key. We all slip sometimes, so by having one or more people in your corner, maybe even attempting a new habit as well with you, you can actually increase your chances of sticking to the habit—at least in my own experience. Practice makes (almost) perfect. Keep going!

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Retrieved from Pinterest

Life Is Long

The other day I had one of my “ceiling-inspired life-changing epiphanies.”

(Neffi’s Ceiling Inspired Ephiphany. (n) When I’m laying in my bed, staring at the ceiling and I get some idea, or figure out the answer to a mind busting question and immediately feel like Gandhi, or Frederick Douglass, or some other great wise philosopher.)

I had just finished overhearing a conversation outside my window…ok, yes: I was eavesdropping..leave me alone, lol. It’s not my fault they talk loud enough and my window happens to be conveniently cracked for clear listening! Anyway lol, one of the guys was ranting about not having time for the drama because “life is too short.” I thought to myself, “Good job loud neighbor, that’s right, leave drama to those who ‘have time for it!’ but umm who told you that life is short?”  

man with confused expression on his face

Retrieved From KnowYourMeme

I hear that quote all the time and I used to say it too (before my epiphany), and I just had to think to myself who started this phrase? Who says life is short? My friend the internet, phrases.org, says the quote “life is short” dates all the way back to the 1800’s. I’m not surprised that they would be the ones to start a phrase like life is short, average life expectancy was a lot shorter back then lol.

Now it is true that we are only here on Earth temporarily, but do we have to feel like we’re on a time crunch? I don’t want to feel like that. I have only scratched the surface of where I want to be in life. Does this mean that I don’t have much time? I don’t like it.

My problem with the the phrase “life is short” is that not only does it do a terrible job at motivating us to have the lives we want, it’s also pretty limiting. What’s the proof that life is short?

older woman smiling and being interviewed

Retrieved from Catholic.org

110 year old man being presented with a birthday cake

Retrieved from Pinterest

older couple sitting holding hands

Retrieved from PsychologyToday

If life actually was short, it should be fine if it sucked and didn’t work out how we wanted it to right? It would be like ripping off a bandaid, getting it over with. You’d be born, spend your short amount of time living in the mediocrity, and then die. Sounds a little harsh right? Sorry not sorry. If it was in fact like that you’d never experience discomfort and unhappiness long enough to really get properly sick of it and make change in your life. You’d never learn the lessons that come with time and in turn make you a better person, because the truth is you can put up with just about anything if it’s for a short amount of time.

But life is NOT short and that is what frees us up to do what we really want, and create the lives we really want. While we can put up with suffering, unhappiness, or dissatisfaction for short periods of time, we are much less willing to be dissatisfied or in unhappy or uncomfortable phases of life for decades or longer. The real motivator is knowing that life is long and you don’t have to over-rush yourself. You have time to live, love, make mistakes, make even worse mistakes, learn and learn some more, achieve your goals and dreams, and really live this thing to the fullest.

Life is the longest thing we will ever experience and its length is probably one of the only things we can’t be certain of, so we shouldn’t just declare it short. Some of us will live to our late 80’s and 90’s, some more, and some less. I personally pray to live a healthy fruitful life till at least 90! Things might be looking up for me too because I took a life expectancy quiz the other day and it gave me an estimate of 97 lol! Woop Woop!

man dancing in celebration

Retrieved from Giphy

Life is only short if you believe it to be that way. Make every moment count, and it will seem epic, fulfilling, and a never-ending adventure.

When people use the phrase “life is short” they tend to mean anything from: Don’t waste your energy on things that are meaningless, or, stop spending so much time just existing that you miss milestones and important opportunities. It could also mean we could be “here today and gone tomorrow” or that we won’t have enough time to see or experience everything we want to accomplish so plan accordingly. Or simply literally, we don’t know how long we will live and it can be a short time. It can even be used positively like when people say “life is too short to be unhappy.” Though in my experience, when it is said it is usually used as an excuse for something irresponsible you’ve done, or when you are dismissing a problem or situation you should be dealing with; it seems to always be connected to negative emotion. The bottom line is none of those interpretations of “life is short” have to apply to you if you change your perspective and see life as a long journey of opportunity.

Think of life as your party, which of these spaces in the two pictures below do you think you could throw a better party in?

Man standing in small empty room

Retrieved from Express.co

man standing in middle of large empty room

Retrieved from MemeGenerator

I’m going with Will Smith on the bottom. The room is way bigger and much more opportunity to make the party as poppin’ as I can. It’s your life, plan your party!

Life is long and it’s not only about age, it’s about what you make of your life in the time you are here! Don’t focus on length, but instead focus on quality. Are your days filled with what you want them to be filled with? Are you rushing yourself to beat some sort of clock or are you taking your time? Don’t fall into the “life-is-short” mentality. The finished product is beautiful but so is the journey; believe me. Be present in your lives everyday. Take your time, make mistakes, learn lessons, and sow into your growth as a person.

Love Ya, Neffi

 

What is Love? Baby Don’t Hurt Me

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow!!!
I love Valentine’s Day!
I love the spirit, I love the colors, I just love all the love that is in the air.

cartoon character sitting with dreamy face with hearts around her

Image By: We Heart It

We show love all year but it’s so different around Valentine’s day, because it’s basically love on steroids lol. It’s the extra that feels good: the frosting on the cake, the whipped cream on top of the frappucino, the sprinkles on the ice cream. It just feels better than all the other days and it looks prettier. Hey, maybe it’s just me, but I love it.

Valentine’s day isn’t just about a romantic relationship. It’s about showing love to someone in your life, whether it’s a romantic partner, a best friend, your parents, other family members, or even your pet. It’s about putting that love out there to make their world shine even brighter for the day.

In ode to Valentine’s day I asked friends and family to answer one of two questions:

  1. How did you know you were in love?
    or
  2. What does love mean to you?

Their responses reminded me why the essence of Valentine’s day is so important.
Their answers were:

“I knew I was in love when I started crying because she hung up on me” LOL
– Adonijah

“Love is more than just a feeling. You can feel strongly in like but love requires commitment. You can like someone and not be committed to them but love is a bond that yearns commitment.”
– Justin B

“Your smile melted my heart and I just knew 27 years ago”
– My Corny Older Sister Afiya

“I knew I was in love when I cared about his feelings and thought of how he would react to certain situations before I thought of anyone else”
– Lexxii

“The minute you find out you’re pregnant and then you hear the heartbeat, that is a love no one can match. I loved my daughter from that moment. I knew my purpose in life now was to love her, protect her, and make sure she knows I love her so she can accept nothing less from anyone else”
– Mareena

“I have no idea what love is. Sometimes I think I’m in love after one hour but should it be that fast? I don’t have a real solid definition but I know it feels damn good”
-Sabreen

“Love is so splendid. It’s selfless, kind, gentle, understanding, considerate. Love is putting yourself in situations to see how it feels to someone else before you do it. Love is wanting to be near the person or thing that gives you butterflies all the time. Love just might be the most powerful feeling.”
– My Mom whom I love every day by the way 🙂 lol

“Love means that you care for somebody and that somebody loves you and you love them.”
My six-year-old niece (She’s onto something here)

Valentine’s day doesn’t have to be just about showering someone with gifts, or spending a lot of money, orlike some Valentine’s day haters would say“taking this ONE day to show people you love them.” I can understand though how the commercialism of Valentine’s day can leave a bad taste in people’s mouthsit seems like just another day to put ridiculous amounts of money into businesses’ and restaurants’ pockets. Not to mention how triggering it can be for single people or people whose relationship isn’t in the best place. That’s why any time I come across someone that has this opinion about Valentine’s day, I like to emphasize that personally, my best version of Valentine’s Day usually requires no money to be spent at all, and it’s not just about a boyfriend or girlfriend. I enjoy quality time with family and people I love, letters, handmade thoughtful gifts and memorabilia. You can celebrate and have your special day that way as well, full of sentiment and without the need of material things.

Valentine’s day is a day of reflection, really remembering why you love who you love, why you appreciate them, and dedicating the day as the anniversary, the holiday, the celebration for that love. How can you not love it?!

boy with glasses with dreamy eyes looking up

Retrieved from QuanJing

For those of you who have a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s day, be your own Valentine this year. Shower yourself with love and attention.

man pointing to you as viewer with words "treat yourself"

Gif Retrieved from Pajiba.com

Whatever your reasoning may be for not necessarily enjoying or desiring to celebrate Valentine’s day, recreate the day and dedicate it to yourself. I’m always here for the self love, honey. Self love is the best love. The more you love yourself is the more you love others and accept love and disregard hate. But make sure you get a slice of all this love that is flying around right now; it’s beautiful, and on Feb 15th you won’t see it this loud anymore lol 🙂

happy valentines day

Image from Pixabay

two young girls hugging and smiling

Image by Masterfile

man and woman sitting on couch smiling at each other

Retrieved from Essence.com

two women in intimate hug embrace

Retrieved from CinemaJam

two male hands interlocked

Retrieved from StarObserver

toddler girl kissing her reflection in the mirror

Retrieved from PathwaysOfWisdom

Time to Re-Wire: Forming Habits

“We are what we repeatedly do” -Will Durant

I once heard that if you do anything consistently for 30 days it becomes a habit or automatic action in your life. Some research argues it’s actually 21 days, some argues 66 days, and some argue some other magic number, lol. All I know is that for the past 30 plus days that school has been on break, I have not thought about school, homework, or getting to class at 8:30 a.m., and I think I’ve picked up some new habits. I have been waking up late to get to work for 11: 00 a.m., watching enough tv for every student at City Tech, and spending A LOT of time on “social media lane.”

They say old habits are hard to break and new habits are hard to form, so I’ve been doing my own reading and research on how to master forming and breaking habits. So with that  said, the truth is I that I didn’t really form new habits because I have had school in the back of my mind this whole time. I mean I have been going to school for so long so it’s obviously a hard habit to break. I even found myself super bored some days wishing for the semester to start.

One of the articles I found that stuck out for me and actually provided realistic guidance on the forming of habits and sticking to them was The 3 R’s of Habit Change: How To Start New Habits That Actually Stick. Right in the beginning of the article, the author James Clear says “What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and doing each day) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the personality that you portray.” 
That makes sense!

Our lives are really just the product of ALL our habits wrapped up in one. It made me realize that there are actually many new habits I would like to form and some I want to drop. One thing that I want to point out is that a habit is not actually a “goal.” There is a big difference. For example the habit you want to form cannot be “to get all A’s this semester” or to “lose weight.” The habit is the activity that you want to take up that could promote your goal.

For example, the habit I want to form is to be in bed by 11 p.m. I am currently on a daily
9 a.m.-8 p.m. schedule, so getting my sleep is a PRIORITY and is really imperative to me being a regular sane person and not a ticking time bomb lol. What I do now is get in bed and then decide “oh hey girl, perfect time to scroll through social media or watch just one more episode” and then I wake up in the morning regretting it all.

The article talks about using “The Three R’s” to create new habits.

Reminder. Routine. Reward.

The reminder keeps you on top of the habit, the routine is the act of actually doing it, and reward is what motivates you to keep up your habit.

I’m going to use the 3 R’s by setting a REMINDER alarm to go to bed at 10:30 p.m. which will give me enough time to wrap up whatever I’m doing. Then initiate the ROUTINE by actually going to bed by 11pm and not getting on my phone. The REWARD will be evident in me feeling better, not feeling sleep deprived and having more energy, and being more productive at my internship, job, and school. This new habit will obviously 100% contribute to my GOAL of being successful without dragging myself to do so!

What habit would you like to take up to create a positive change in your life? Maybe it’s academic, maybe you want to drink water with lunch, exercise for an hour a day, stretch and meditate when you wake up; it can be anything! Definitely moving forward I’m going to try out the 3 R’s system and see how it’s going to benefit me in making the changes I want to and forming new habits that affect me positively.

I challenge you to start your new habit TODAY and together we will embark on a 21- day challenge. I choose 21 because that seems to be the universal minimum lol.

In three weeks, I’m checking in on you to see if your new habit has begun to come naturally to you. I’m so excited!!! The article I shared with you is pretty long, but I say– as pre-work to the challenge– give it a read (or a skim if that works better for you lol) and don’t forget: Reminder, Routine, Reward!!

 

Love, Neffi