A Ramble About The Struggle to Exist in Non-“Productive” Moments

I have been grappling about this subject for a little while now in my own head, and over the past week I have shared my thoughts to three good friends, and each of them immediately related. Gotta love a shared experience.

I am rarely able to enjoy my time when I’m not being “productive”

From high school, we go straight to college, and then from college, we go straight into working full time. Throughout it all, I’ve gained a lot of self worth through achievement through the feeling that I’m being productive.

When I started out my career, I went into it full-speed. From the first month, I was thinking about what my goals were and the position I wanted to work up to. That was all-consuming. My job became such a big part of my identity without me even fully realizing it. I rarely spent time with alone pursuing passions outside of my 9-5 (which often bled past 5:00) because I was so mentally exhausted after each day.

Over the past year, with the pandemic and blaring social justice issues consuming so much energy, combined with the nonstop work of stress, I eventually found myself feeling completely burnt out. Beyond the point of return. Sitting down to work made me feel depressed and empty.

That’s when I first realized I needed to make a change.

Through some serious soul searching, an amazing energy healing session with my dear friend Nina (check her out), and the realization that continuing to climb the corporate ladder wasn’t fulfilling me. I spent time disengaging with the belief that my identity was my job, and reminded myself that I’m so much more than that. After all, every job is temporary, just as every single thing on this earth is temporary.

I sought out the job I wanted versus the job I thought I should have. I work at a mission-driven company, love my team, and am enjoying having so much creativity in my day to day. #winning

However, I’m finding myself in the next stage of healing from my workaholic tendencies: struggling to just be when I’m not ingrained in work.

I wrap up the workday and close my computer. Step out of my office. Unconsciously, I’m in a clouded state where I have forgotten that I can now do whatever the hell I want, and I often end up lazily scrolling. Technology always sucks you in during these moments of mindlessness.

JP mentioned to me that he found himself feeling anxious on the weekends, having trouble just enjoying the free time. I feel the exact same way, often, yet don’t know if I had admitted that to myself yet. It was then that I realized that wasn’t surprising at all. We’re essentially trained that our productivity is of the utmost priority in this society (grind culture), and when we aren’t, our minds go crazy. We dedicate 5 out of 7 days of the week to our jobs. It’s easy to wedge in workouts before and after work, or time with friends, and fill in those days quick. But then you’re left with two days at the end of it all – with no agenda or action items. What??? Is this an American thing? Thinking back to one of the truest quotes from Eat, Pray, Love:

“Americans know entertainment, but they don’t know pleasure. You feel guilty because you’re American. You don’t know how to enjoy yourself!

You want to know your problem? Americans! You work too hard. You get burned out. Then you come home and spend the whole weekend… in your pajamas in front of the TV. But you don’t know pleasure. You have to be told you’ve earned it. You see a commercial that says, ‘It’s Miller time’… and you say, ‘That’s right. Now I will go to buy a six-pack.’ And drink the whole thing and wake up the next morning and you feel terrible. But an Italian doesn’t need to be told. Ha walks by a sign that says, ‘You deserve a break today’… and he says, ‘Yeah, I know. That’s why I’m planning on taking a break at noon.”

It seems like this is a realization that we are collectively experiencing because I’ve seen others talking about it more and more lately. I absolutely loved this post below that I saw on Instagram earlier today.

I was listening to a talk this morning about creating a work-life balance, and how it’s become increasingly hard now that work is in all of our homes. JP brought up an interesting thought, that a “work-life” balance can be counter-productive in itself, as it implies that life cannot exist where work does. Which is especially detrimental when work is such a big part of our lives.

Maybe instead of separating the two and achieving a balance, we can be better at cultivating more life into our work days, in whatever way works best for us. Walks outside without technology, catching up with friends, having real conversations with your coworkers, dancing to your favorite song when your brain turns into mush in the afternoons. Whatever that looks like for you.

Warm and Glassy Winter Day

January surprised us with a Summer Day yesterday.

I had looked at the forecast the day before and seen 79° and sunny, and immediately submit a request for a shorter Friday at work (every summer, my company offers Summer Fridays, where we can wrap up work around 1, but they’ve been extended this year.) Pro tip: find a pursuit that allows you to achieve a work-life balance.

We grabbed our favorite books and boards and walked over to the beach and were instantly hit with the sweet heat of the sun for what felt like the first time in forever. The ocean water was crystal clear and glassy.

I was so excited to see that the swell brought in 5-6 foot shore break yesterday. It was unforgiving as it broke, but man, did it bring a rush! The sun was so bright that it was sparkling off of the water.

After surfing for a little while, I came in to meet JP on the sand, relax, and read. My current fix is The Alchemist, which I’ll have to add to my list of good reads. I forgot how relaxing it can be to read fiction, and the reminders of what’s important in life that are sprinkled throughout are profound.

We beached it until sunset, which was so gorgeous and clear. The onshore wind never picked up, which made for a gorgeous reflection of the pink and orange colors that painted the sky.

At one point, JP looked over at me and said “there’s no place in the world I’d rather be right now” and I agreed. It’s hard to think of anything more captivating and healing than the ocean + sun, and we are so lucky to get to live so close. ♡

Presence Without Travel

I remember reading once that the reason that we love to travel so much is because we are present.

I think about this often, because I agree that is a huge part of why we fall in love with being somewhere new. We are more prone to wandering, to spontaneity, to putting our phone down and taking directionless walks, to talking to everyone we encounter in the grocery store, and on trains.

When we are home it’s hard to relax without the millions of things on our to-do list creeping into our thoughts, it’s almost like you feel bad about operating under your peak productivity.

So how can we foster more presence while our travel is limited? Here’s a few things that I’ve found bring me back to the current moment quick, and they can be done on your work break:

  • Taking a walk around the neighborhood as a break during your week day
  • Dedicate time to meditation & journaling in the mornings
  • A hard workout (it’s hard to think of much else while you’re doing burpees)
  • Creating art (painting, drawing, digital creation)
  • Reading a book you love
  • Surfing (always an immediate connection to nature with an elimination of real time)

At the beginning of working from home, I found it so hard to take breaks! While you’re used to taking a million breaks a day in the office to grab coffee with a coworker, catch up over lunch, or visit your favorite office pup, I’ve found that it’s common to feel guilty for taking breaks at home. But the truth is: the more breaks you can take, and the more present you are during those breaks, the more productive you will be once you return.

The Beauty of Breaks From Social Media

I recently watched The Social Dilemma (twice) which threw me back into awareness of how much social media dominates our every day. I immediately deleted all of the apps off of my phone and have felt so much more alive ever since. A few things I love:

⁃ I feel so much more space in my mind and as a result, in my days

⁃ I do more exploring ; for example I’m writing this during sunset at the beach after work rather than ending up on the couch

⁃ I live my days without crippling comparison. It’s crazy how you can decide to have a solo day and be so happy about it, until seeing a few posts of people with a bunch of friends throws you into a spiral of loneliness

⁃ I enjoy moments for me. Not for getting a story of it. Have you ever reflected on how often we take pictures for Instagram rather than ourselves? This puts a whole lot of people pleasing into what could remain as a creative outlet.

⁃ I do the things I want to do: write, cook dinner, fold my laundry. This might seem simple, but it’s so easy to get caught in hours of a social media abyss right when you get home in order to “relax”

⁃ I don’t miss social media. I really don’t. Whenever I break these hiatus it’s always do to pure boredom. Imagine how much more I could do if I challenged myself to do new things to cure my boredom

⁃ I can focus more on the positives in my day. Not anyone else’s.

⁃ My energy is only spent towards people I love and choose to interact with, rather than those couple of people who the algorithm decides to tell me way too much about (even though I spend no real time with them and never have)

I challenge everyone to try to take a break for at least a week and see how it feels. The first time I did it I was amazed by how many times a day, regularly subconsciously, I reached to unlock my phone. There is so much power that comes from disconnecting and reconnecting with yourself.

Finding a Balance

The Constant Sway

I challenged my limits in a new yoga pose today and almost sprung forward into my mat. I made an adjustment to find my equilibrium again and noticed how overwhelmingly great it felt t to be balanced again.

This reminded me of that in order to find true balance, sometimes you need to experience a wild imbalance. Furthermore, a perfect balance may not be achievable.

During each phase of our life, we are given new challenges that to detract from us true harmony. But the truth is, eternal happiness, stillness, and light is always there waiting in the background for you. And it’s always waiting for you to reconnect to it.

Reminder from Fluctuation

Noticed fluctuation between the amount of energy between flowing the things that are important to me reminds me how much I have to be grateful for.

I’m counting my blessings for all of the things that drive me.

Love || My Career || Genuine Friends || Time spent in Nature || Yoga Practice || Being Alone

Untethered Soul

She was a free spirit

Unbound by her past

It didn’t matter what it was because in this moment she could rewrite it

Free from yesterday

She could chose who she wanted to be every morning

Withdrawn from tomorrow 

The future didn’t matter when the present was so sweet

Transformed by the immunity that was felt

Diving into the deep ocean blue

Running free underneath the sun

She learned that people were the same everywhere

That confidence was self contained

And with that knowledge,

The world was hers.

13 Lessons Learned from Traveling Solo

I had lived in the same city that I was born in my entire life. I loved it and my family so much that I stayed close to comfort for college. Life had always been so beautiful, so I figured why change it? Until I decided to challenge everything I knew. And this was the best, most transformative, time of my entire life. I packed my bags and flew to the other side of the world to a continent I had never been to before because I have a weird feeling that I was meant to be there, and I was right to trust my gut.  Here are thirteen lessons I learned from traveling:

1.You can figure it out

I think the biggest thing that scares people when considering going solo on their next trip is: what if it goes wrong? What if I lose my luggage and no one is there to figure it out with me? This is the the beauty of it. There is always a chance of something unplanned happening as you travel, but you survive through each experience and come out more independent than ever.

2. Small talk is cheap (& comforting)

It is so easy to strike up a conversation with the person across from you on the subway. Even though you may have grown up somewhere completely different, chances are that you have at least one interest in common. Maybe you’re infatuated with the same hobby, or feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the city you’re currently exploring.

3. A lot can be learned from immersing yourself in another culture

It is so valuable to experience what is important to different people in new cultures for a little while. This is powerful because it makes you reflect on what is important to you, and what has been your whole life. You can re-evaluate these cultural norms that you have conformed to and decide if that is really what makes you wake up every morning. Furthermore, you will become much more able to understand different point of views from others you interact with.

4. Be yourself

And you will find that people love the same things about you everywhere. You will fine that people are drawn towards you when you are effortlessly acting as you are. And that people will genuinely appreciate the same things about you everywhere: whether it be your infectious laugh or the way you compliment things about them that they’ve never thought of before.

5. Live simply

When moving from place to place often you will learn that all you need is a couple outfits that feel “you” and conform to differences in weather. The rest is just unneeded weight.

6. Live with an open mind

You will expand your mindset in ways you could have never imagined before. You will meet people who act in ways that are easy for you to judge, as they are foreign to you. And you learn to love it.

7. You can make friends anywhere

You will learn that there are people all over, no matter how different from you they may seem at first interaction, who you mesh with.

8. No turn is wrong

Even though you may have missed your flight, or the taxi driver brought you to the wrong hostel, you will learn that absolutely every one of these little mishaps happen for a reason and guide you down a path that you otherwise may have never had the opportunity to experience.

9. Confidence is gained alone

You will learn to absolutely adore yourself in your time spent alone. You will have time to practice patience within and get to know things about your own being that you had not taken the time to notice before.

10. The world is inherently kind

There are people everywhere who genuinely want to help you out. Whether they want to help point you in the right direction, or share their favorite surf break in the world with you, there are people who want you to thrive. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you.

11. You can travel on a budget

Hostels and PB & J sandwiches may be all you need if you want to squeeze in another destination.

12. Gratitude is invaluable

As you travel and appreciate every little thing that goes right, that good feeling will fill you up, radiate positive vibes, and inspire more serendipity into your journey. Don’t believe me? Try it.

13. Leave your comfort zone and you’ll find yourself

Being away from your family, your home, your friends, and everything that you have known may be the most terrifying thing that you can fathom. However, I promise you that it is the best thing that can happen to you. You will learn more about yourself than ever before through the bright moments and challenges you face when you have no one else to turn to.