It’s Simple: Just Stop Being Racist

No really. What if you just stopped?

Many of you have probably opened this blog post for casual kicks and giggles…but it isn’t funny. It never has been. And I hope in the future, younger generations are more aware and conscious of racism and its effects.

Working within my communities and in customer service as a black woman comes with it’s challenges. I am exceptional in my positions and customers are often the highlight of my day; however, I would be lying to you if I did not tell you how cautious I am with each new human that enters my space. I know absolutely nothing about their pasts, their values, or their identities (and they, I) which is both simultaneously exciting and terrifying.

Recently, one of the most dreaded phrases from customers that I hear is “I don’t say this to offend you.” In fact, any variance of this phrase alone paralyzes me (psychologically and physically) and leaves absolutely no room for me to opt out for what is coming. Therefore, in one breathe, I am told that this stranger is going to do at least 2 of 3 things:

  1. Say something that is Big Racist.

  2. Say something that is Little Racist.

  3. Remove my rights while subjecting me to further trauma.

I also would be lying to you if I didn’t say that all three occur most often together. As I stand, voiceless, I mentally brace myself for statements which belittle, dehumanize, or violate me, people who look like me, and our ancestors. I brace myself for the possibility that this stranger is either knowledgeable about this violence (which is why they had to preface it) or illiterate on how violent such acts are…because (to be honest) the Big Racist and Little Racist have about similar effects to me.

Now let’s briefly distinguish the Big and Little Racist.

Big Racist statements directly refer lynching, slavery, harmful slurs, senseless hate, physical violence, etc. Little Racist statements are also directly referring to those same things, yet are prefaced with “I’m not racist but…,” “I have a black friend, so…” and “I don’t say this to offend you…” Little Racist is just as bad as Big Racist; however, its producer doesn’t believe that they are racist, doesn’t think that the statement is racist, doesn’t think that I will take offense to the racist statement, and/ or speak racism as fact because at some point in their lived experience…it was just common sense.

Yes, it is exciting to meet new humans and talk about languages or trips or the weather. But it terrifying to encounter new humans who you know nothing about…primarily when you, yourself, are visibly “marginalized”. In the states, power is organized in a 21st century caste system which defines everyone who is not as white or man or heterosexual, etc. as being a part of the margins. I embrace my blackness, my womaness, and my uniqueness. But what I do not welcome is to be told (via Big or Little Racist) that I am inherently less than the preferred population within whichever colonial or archaic time period the US decides that it is in this week.

What I ask for may seem absurd to some and common sense to others. What I ask may seem fit for the 21st century. What I ask may be what most human believe that they deserve.

What I ask is to have my rights to my body and my space. What I ask is to be respected. Yes, I appear to fit into the margin but I ask that you understand that my existence transcends those margins. While you may celebrate and appreciate all things from blackness, I ask that you at least celebrate and appreciate those black individuals who created and live it. I ask that you view me as a new human, rather than pray or optional or detached from the historical trauma that my ancestors experienced. I ask that you ask me if you are allowed to be Big Racist, Little Racist, or inflect further trauma on my lived experience.

I ask that you just stop being racist.

Best,

CJ

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When All the Pieces Fall into Place

We’re in the middle of the fall from New Year’s Resolutions to meeting our image in the mirror. While it may not always look pretty, you have the option to change the lenses. I say this because the image that appears in the mirror is not always the real you.

Tension welcomes us into the new year as we try to reroute our lived experiences. We announce to the world how horrible or magnificent last year was and how tomorrow our dreams will come true. However, this transformation requires some decision-plan-action which isn’t fun.

1. Most times making a commitment to change is difficult.

We’re all out here making moves with or without intentional direction. For some, deciding on the new labor position, relationship status, or meal is simple. They have found their passion, their person, or their rhythm (or at least they’re faking it pretty well). The rest of us are hesitant, uncertain, and not confident in the next move. We have done enough trail and error to write a page turning memoir, but things…just…haven’t felt right.

Many of us are waiting on that moment in which we know for sure that we have made it to the right place, at the right time, with the right group. Unfortunately, we may not get the message in the most obvious, cinematic way. Still, I believe that we all know when something is right. Whether it be a gut feeling, a conversation with god, or the energy surrounding us.

We spend a good amount of time taking everyone else’s moments into account that we forget to take stock of what we have within ourselves. It is easy to right a list of what you don’t have or look like, but the true challenge is to assess what birth-2018 gave you and what you wish to keep in 2019. Some time ago, I wrote a piece about how to plan your life and how you can set yourself a part from the group; yet, I do not remember covering how one knows which pieces to keep.

2. It never fails to go back to the start.

I think that you are in fact an expert on yourself, your moment, and your next step, but you don’t allow yourself to hear the message. I am completely guilty of this. I have made decisions without a complete thought to rationalize the move. I questioned myself in the moment, a year later, and now years later looking over my CV. While I did not understand how cleaning glass windows and doors for a daycare center at 7:30 am related to my summer as a pharmaceutical drug representative, I see the skills and tools that I used during and developed after those experiences.

My internal voice is a free spirit and she is warm and unconventional and (surprisingly) emotional, but I guess that’s why I’m an artist. My internal voice loves to travel, because you see new colors, hear new voices, and experience new stories. My internal voice cares about people, so much that it hurts and she never feels that we have done all the work. My internal voice is a creator and communicator who strives for excellence that is beautiful. Isn’t that a beautiful sentence?

My start is my internal voice. Some people refer to this as you during your childhood or you at your most blissful moment. In my youth, I sang with a boar hair brush on my fireplace. In my youth, I babysat my brother, cousins, and other children and taught them lessons. In my youth, I painted silhouettes of moments, drew powerful women of color, and wrote extraordinary stories from the ordinary life. My past experiences, labor positions, and side hobbies have taught me how to stick to a plan and budget, how you can make a difference in a child’s life without money, and how you can always find commonalities in the lived human experience.

3. You can’t hear your internal voice, because there is too much external noise.

Again, in communication studies, noise represents anything which may interfere with a message delivery. This may be loud construction, dropped calls, or the fact that you skipped breakfast and lunch. We are often seeking help from others which is valuable to our development. Sometimes it just takes that one person to say a certain message at the right time for something to click (which is how most of my blog posts start…if we’re being honest). Your celebrity or financial status doesn’t devalue your experiences nor the advice you could give to someone (…unless they are wanting to become famous or make money moves). Many of us live “ordinary” lives that are extraordinary in just their existence.

When you reach out to people for help or advice, be clear on what you hope to gain from that person. If it is wanting more information on a field or life advice from a specific background, don’t be shy about that. You are the main creator and lead actor of your own life and you have to own it. Find people who have the background to help you become better in the areas that you genuinely want to become better in (not your family, friends, or followers). Find people who will be honest with you and who you feel comfortable opening up to. Find people who you can connect with and build sincere friendships with that are two way streets.

When these people give you advice, filter the comments, options, and answers by your internal voice. Sometimes we gain surprising discoveries through these conversations and it may be your job to determine what is useful for you. Don’t be apologetic about your wants and needs.

4. Filtering advice requires you to have a serious conversation with yourself first.

One of the hardest conversations we can have sometimes is with ourselves. Some people will think that this makes you seem bonkers, but I think it makes you seem healthy. Having a conversation with yourself can appear in many ways; however, the goal is to understand what you want, what makes you happy, what you are comfortable with, or what you can not live without. It means spending time alone not scrolling through feeds or encouraging noise while trying to hear your internal voice. It means giving yourself some space which some people may call me time.

During this time, I ask myself questions most of which I do not have answers to. Though frustrating, it is still helpful because I can intentional attempt to find answers those questions. I write down what’s going on in my mind and what I want. When certain opportunities arise, I take advantage of them and keep my eyes open for the click.

In addition to talking with yourself, making decisions and plans, and taking action toward your goal, you have to raise your awareness bar. There is no way to completely avoid noise (unless you’re living off the grid maybe). For this reason, it helps to remind yourself to stay alert for the right opportunities at the right time. I think it is a feeling that you found what you were looking for. For me recently, it was finding a dissertation paper from 2001 and spending my winter break meeting up with women in the area for advice. If you ask yourself the right questions and give yourself honest answers, you’ll be more focused and aware of the next step. If you do your part in the equation, the universe will do the rest. It’s a process that takes time.

5. Your next challenge is to chose where to start.

We discussed how difficult it is to make a decision, what it means to hear your internal voice, how to avoid noise, and talk with yourself first. Now you are tasked to figure out which route works best for you. You can continue on your endless Google search, check out the past blog posts embedded in this piece, or go through a little visual exercise.

Life is like a huge puzzle piece and I am not sure that we’ll ever actually see the end construction. However, the people, places, and things that surround us can be pieces leading you to that final image. In art, most of the time, we’re not exactly sure what the end product will look like. We have an idea. We do some research and sketches. We experiment with supplies and then create. But we also allow the painting or work to be a co-author. So I think if you start with a general idea or feeling you want in the bigger pictures, looking down at all the tiny pieces might be enjoyable and exciting. You just have to select the tiny pieces that lead you to that bigger picture or at least give you a reason to smile.

Every year is your year, so are the months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes. Our calendars may have changed but we have not, that is until you decide that you genuinely want to make that decision-plan-action. Just don’t forget to watch when all the pieces fall into place.

 

understanding without language

How do you react when someone doesn’t speak your language? Are you one to become upset or want to know more? I think that language is key to how we function, but it might not always appear in the ways you expect it to.

I am currently on winter break which is always an interesting and frustrating time. I believe that it is frustrating because it is one of the few times when you are forced to have a conversation with yourself. Often when we work, study, or serve, we think about the tasks and deadlines; however, when you are lucky enough to receive or plan a break, you take a break from the noise.

In communication, noise is a distraction which may interrupt the reception of a message. This may include external interruptions (e.g. weather conditions, construction noises, using electronics, etc.) or internal distractions (e.g. physical conditions like hunger or temperature, thoughts, etc.). I believe that language could also be perceived as noise. We send messages across channels hoping that there is little to no noise, so that our message may be received properly. Maybe we become frustrated when there is a language barrier for these reasons.

While on break, my natural instinct is to panic because I am not needed nor are there urgent demands. Soon after, I go back to what I know and I spend time in conversation with myself. What I know is that I love to sleep, eat, watch tv, and dance. Additionally, my conversations with myself revolve around ideas. Ideas about the role of art in our lives, how we allow mistreatment of most for the satisfaction of few, and my path in this world. In combining my love of physical relaxation and mental puzzle making, I turn to streaming services. I watch a variety of shows and films; however, on breaks I love to balance the reality tv and baking shows with educational media. Documentaries are often included in this longing for more knowledge about artistic lifestyles, power dynamics (or inequity), and my purpose (where I most fit in).

The last documentary that I watched discussed happiness: where we see it and how we use it. I watch everything with subtitles for comfort and context. With the U.S. being a dominant English speaking country, accurate subtitles are hit or miss for other languages. Sometimes there will be preset subtitles to include the English speakers. Other times you just see a note in parentheses to tell you which language the person is speaking, but that is about it. In this happiness documentary, they interview people from various continents which I love. I enjoy this because most films that I watch focus on the U.S., Europe, and Australia. However, this one includes South America, Africa, and Asia.

In the non English speaking countries, interviewees provide their insight on happiness in their native tongue and there are absolutely no captions during those segments. Initially, I was irritated and considered switching to another film, but my curiosity and stubbornness kept me there. As I continued to watch, I became more attentive in my listening and I searched for visual context. Later, I felt ashamed by my response, because I reminded myself that the world doesn’t revolve around me. With most streaming services, available content will depend on your location and demographic. For this reason, I get a lot of content geared toward English speaking U.S. Americans. I was intrigued by this film because I’m not sure I needed to know the language to understand the message.

There is so much to communication outside of verbal or written language. Language barriers are beautiful in that they remind you that there is more to learn and see, though they might raise some uncertainty. Through studying the human body and inflections, you can observe the message. Language is more than an alphabet or character list. Language is seen through non verbal communication like touch or the tilt of the head. I think that language is key to how we function, because we are curious to understand one another and how we relate. However, it might not always appear in the ways we want it to…and that is more than okay.

CJ

First Year Teaching: I bled through my skirt

I am a woman who has periods and it’s not the end of the world. I promise.

Welcome back! Many of you are probably prepared to pity me or sitting on the edge of your seats to hear the full story.  Others of you might think this subject matter is too private or personal or taboo. For those of you fall in the last category, I wrote this post for you, as a female human. Cue rant:

One of the things that I am very passionate about is talking about periods. I feel compelled to talk about periods and “feminine products,” because people do not want to talk about them…NOT EVEN OTHER WOMEN (sometimes). We have grown up in a society in which speaking out about periods, vagina, tampons, pads, or diva cups, is to be whispered. I live in a world which makes me feel as though having a period is a negative consequence, bleeding is disgusting and unsanitary (hints “sanitary products”), and being open about my personal life is “unlady like.” Well here’s my lady card, because I’m about to complete this full rant.

I was in a bit of a rush to get to my office hours before teaching a course. So I am frantically whipping eggs into a skillet and brushing my teeth while putting on a turquoise, floor length maxi skirt (because I was a goddess that day). I take a transit bus up to campus and walk into my office ready for the day. I finish speaking with other graduate assistants and realize that I should head to my class at about 15 minutes til. I stand up and one of second year students exclaim, “Oh, we have a problem!”

I was so shook and startled that I am intensely listening to hear what just happened. He then motions to another woman in the room to enlighten me on the problem (which only confuses everyone more). After putting two and two together, I look at my skirt to find a nice red smear in a sea of turquoise fabric. I explained to him that it wasn’t a big deal, because I am a female human and this is nothing new. He then suggests that I sit the whole class, so that my students can not see the stain. So I had to get him together:

First of all, as a young black woman teaching at a predominately white institution (PWI), I will not be sitting to teach a lesson with the intention to not make my students uncomfortable with the fact that I had a period! I hold myself to a high standard and make a point to live my life unapologetically.

Secondly, this was nothing to panic about. I will admit that I did not like the idea of walking around campus with a stain, but that would be for blood or even coffee. As a teacher and graduate student, you want to look presentable to a certain extent…especially at the beginning of syllabus week! The only concern at this point was to not let it dry, because that turquoise skirt is my favorite.

So I head to a near by restroom to put some water on it and dim the vibrancy. I rotate the skirt, so that the stain is on my front hip and then I roll up the skirt from floor length to mid-calf. Still a cute skirt. Still professional.

Thirdly, if you were bleeding…and sitting…wouldn’t you…bleed through the skirt again?! Logic went straight of the window for my male counterpart, because he does not have to think about these things. I make an effort to be conscious of that which is not conscious to my everyday reality. Just because you do not deal with it everyday, doesn’t mean that it never happens. For example, I think about race ALL THE TIME. Why? Not because I’m racist or looking for an opportunity to “play the race card.” I think about it because I have to. It is a defense mechanism. I live in a country that separates families, hosts Nazi and KKK rallies/ marches, and doesn’t look for missing people with brown skin. I do not have the luxury to live life without think about the fact that I am black nor a woman.

As a woman, I bleed. Maybe it’s once a month. Maybe it’s once every two months. It all depends on my body, diet, and stress level. When this happens, I may have cramps and mood changes. For some women, cramps can be so severe that they physically can not move. So we take pain medication, warm water bags, or eat those food that just…hit the spot. I am a free-flower. If I can get away without using tampons or pads, I will and here’s why!

Tampons and pads are expensive and dangerous. I spent an hour in a Target aisle once trying to figure out which brand to get. I challenge you. The next time you go to the store, go to the women’s section. Notice that it will be at the back or in the cut and always linked to “family planning” or “pregnancy tests.” I want you to look at the prices and quantity. Just with a quick google search alone, the cheapest set of tampons is about 5$ for 40 of an off-brand and pads is about 3$ for 22. If we pretend that your cycle is monthly, let’s assume that your period will last at least 4-7 days per month. Your period flow will also be important in these calculations. You may change 1-3 times a day (some friends have done more in one day). So for the tampons that’s about 2-10 months worth, pads about 1-5 months. Reminder that you really need both, because sometimes just one pad or tampon won’t avoid stained clothes and there are time limits for wearing these products. Also, don’t forget the special taxes and also, do you know what they’re made with?

Our sanitary products are laced with all sorts of chemicals and pesticides. I don’t even think that companies are required to tell you what’s in them. So recently, there’s been this new wave of interest in organic or diy products. But I purchased a diva cup. This isn’t common within my family or friend circle. It is 40$ and you can use it up to a year and wear it for longer hours than tampons. The material doesn’t have nasty chemicals. As I am writing this, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but again…it adds up and men don’t have to think about any of this. Plenty of women live their mature lives without knowing about their bodies or cycles. I am not good at math but worst case scnario, you could be paying about 10$ for 2 months of period related products…which could be 60$ a year (depending on flow, brand, and financial status). These products are a luxury that many women do not have access to all over the world. We shouldn’t have to pay for this…or worry about where to get the funds to do so.

So back to the original story: I checked in with some women around me to see the adjustment with my skirt looked like it had been planned. I strolled across campus and walked into my classroom to teach about 5 minutes or so early. After class, I took the transit back home, so that I could soak the skirt, because it makes me feel like a goddess. So I left all my clothes to soak in the sink with cold water (you can also use your own spit or hydrogen peroxide, apparently). I drove back to campus in my personal vehicle to pay for parking, so that I wouldn’t be late for my next meeting and class that I TA for.

I began by stating that this post was written for those of you who think that this topic is too “private, personal, or taboo.” I wrote this piece for you because I wanted you to know that this happened to me and the world kept going. I want you to know a little bit about the world that I live in which doesn’t support me. Having periods is normal and sometimes an interestingly timed surprise, but that’s okay…or at least it should be. I wrote this piece for you because I want you to be able to calmly say to another woman, “You have started your period and there is a stain on your skirt. Do you need help getting anything?” I wrote this for you, so that when you go to the store and see all of these products hidden a way, you start to imagine the unspoken shame attached to that. I wrote this piece for you to notice those who may not have access to pads, tampons, or cups. I wrote this piece because it is a real life, every day occurrence. I am writing you so that you may one day ask the right questions to the right people. I am writing you this piece so that you can help the next woman. 

Yes, I am a woman and I have periods, but I continue to thrive…and next time I’ll have spare clothes.

Best,

CDJ

Back to Top Priorities

Weeks ago, I wrote about priorities and choices. I wrote about my top priority always being the warm embrace of happiness. Throughout life, our choices may be limited or affected by our environments which question our commitments to that which matters the most.

I left undergrad in a place that was uncertain but proud. I had finally met Cayla. I listened to, supported, and embraced her. Through allowing her to thrive, I learned that she needed to be in the gym at least 3 days out of the week, silence for a good portion of the day, and to create things that were both important to her and others. And even if I moved, it was my responsibility to ensure that she continued to have those things which made her smile.

I did not do my job well. During this gap year experience, I’ve noticed that I’ve stopped supporting myself. I placed myself too far from my chosen family, outside of the gym, into 57 hours per week of noise, and within an uninspiring location. Instead of listening to her, I added distractions to my life which have veer me off of a path that I fought so hard to build.

At one point, I knew that I was meant to live alone somewhere near the sun. Somewhere where I could read books, enjoy hot tea, and dance to the sound of the wind. I knew that I wanted to help people by creating solutions to issues that make my heart sad. I knew that I didn’t care for economic wealth, just financial stability with zero debt. I knew that I would move the bubble to a place I could call home.

However, this year, I have developed unhealthy relationships and habits. I can’t remember the last book I read nor cup of tea I’ve drank. In the past, when I danced, there were always two friends who’d join in, but now I’m more of a spectacle. I have an endless list of things to do and no motivation to start them. I lie in bed eating marshmallows and watching Grey’s Anatomy for the 10th time thinking about all the places my body screams to go to.

9 months ago, Cayla would’ve written this to current Cayla:

1. Set Priorities

2. Assess Your Situation

3. Check Happiness

4. Plan Small Goals

My ultimate priory is to be happy and have silence. I can’t get that from anyone but myself.

I’ve allowed people into my space who don’t deserve my attention. However there were quite a few new relationships that I hope will stick. I’m also making some good decisions with how use my money. So I feel that I just need more structure to my life to rebuild some good and healthy habits.

I am unhappy because I’m not content with my environment. I want more choices and freedom than I currently have. I feel like I’m suffocating. As result, I’ve become more defiant and nasty, because I’m fighting… without a goal (besides freedom of course).

My current plan is to finish my service term within the next 2 weeks. Once released from service, I can allot time to think about myself, achievable goals, and actually follow through. So small steps: finish service, live alone in a pretty place, join a gym/ dance studio, read for pleasure, and eat healthy.

Hopefully by this time next month, I will have attempted some of these goals to get back to my priorities.

Dear Mr. Cat-Call: I’m Actual Human

Some of us don’t have the luxury of walking and roaming.

Welcome back! I’ve been trying to write this piece for a while now, but never found the right message until now.

Clinched keys, no purse, concaved chest, shallow breathe, and RBF…that’s right. I’m getting ready to walk alone threw a neighborhood in search of food. It’s only half a mile and maybe a 10 minute walk; yet, even though the sun is high, my spirit is low.

In making the decision to not crank up my car to drive two minutes up the street, in the back of my head, I’m taking the risk of being attacked. This is how it feels living and walking while female, woman, young, and black in the USA in 2018. It is because I am small and cute that I have to lug this imaginary bull’s eye on my shoulders.

Most of the time, I keep my eyes to the ground, my voice low, and my steps purposeful. As if too much of a sound will alert others that I exist. Although I have never been physically assaulted or attack while walking, I see it as a possibility anytime. Although I am confident in defending myself, I also understand that there is only so much a woman at 115 pounds can do. Although my anxiety spikes, I feel that I have every right in the world to walk…it shouldn’t be a privilege.

I have been verbally assaulted and harassed consistently. I would define this as any sound transmitted to me which makes me feel objectified, exposed, defensive, disgusted, or fearful. So regardless of your intentions Mr. Cat-Call, the impact of your actions makes me fearful and uncomfortable in my own skin. And that my dear friend is a violation.

Because I stay alert and overly cautious as I walk alone, sometimes I accidentally make eye contact with the opposite sex. When I do, I remember that we’re both human and relax a bit. The last time this happened, a man was sitting on his porch. I assessed him from his seat and concluded that he wasn’t a threat, so I nodded my head as a greeting and kept walking.

He yelled from behind, “Hey!” I just kept walking because we’re the only two people visible on this street. He continues without hesitation, “Aye, you in school?!” In my mind, I am assuming that he’s asking because he wants to know if I’m “of age.” Being that I am small, natural (without makeup), and sporting a backpack, I often get mistaken as a high school student. While some may think this is a stretch, past encounters have led me to this conclusion: he wanted to know if he could legally hit on me or have a chance with me. He was doing his own assessment. In these moments, we (the vulnerable and without privilege) have to be careful with what we say and do. There’s also the possibility that silence would create anger within him. Can you believe that in this moment I think that I HAVE to consider his feelings?!?! So I keep walking and without turning around, I yell, “Have a good day!” Because sometimes disengaged kindness can diffuse situations. He called back, “Huh?!?!” And I yelled, while turning the corner, “Have a good day!” He eventually got the message and ended the conversation with a disapproving, “Okay…”

Now I’ll admit, this interaction was not that bad. That encounter wasn’t as bad as men hanging out of car windows to throw “compliments” my way or ask for my number. It wasn’t as bad as being pressed to give them my number. It wasn’t as bad as being called derogatory names nor hearing what they’d like to do to me…sexually…without my consent. It’s not as bad as witnessing them groping themselves or pretending that I would give them blow jobs. Yet all of them make me uncomfortable and it’s because I have the audacity to walk while female, woman, young, and black in the USA in 2018.

They do it because they know they can. It’s a power dynamic that says that I am worth less than his enjoyment. It’s a society that swipes these issues under the rug. My safety and comfort is secondary to his feelings and needs. Yet if I speak out about it, I am being over dramatic, too sensitive, and maybe a prude. However, I wrote the post to let the world know that I am human.

I feel emotions and pain. I have the same basic needs to be met. I am a living, breathing being who deserves respect. I also have the RIGHT to walk wherever, whenever, in whatever I want without fear. So, have a nice day Mr. Cat-Call and I hope to never hear from you again.

CJ

Busy Bees in the Spring

Don’t praise workaholism and scratch your head at the decline of someone’s holistic health.

It’s been about a month since my last post. I have to be honest, I hadn’t even realized that 4 weeks passed because I’ve been leaving task list to task list on auto pilot for too long. Sound familiar? Let’s talk about how people praise Workaholism too much and often ignore their mental heath. Below are 6 things to consider.

  1. What’s Your Personality?

Before discussing what Workaholism is and its characters, let’s see where you are in terms of a personality set. Often when we speak about employees in the workplace, we classify some as Type A or B personality sets. However, there is a spectrum between the two in which certain characters can overlap in a variety of different ways. For the purpose of this blog post, Type A individuals are usually uptight, anxious, competitive, and perfectionists. On the other hand, Type B individuals are lax, calm, social, and satisfied. Stereotypically, Type A employees are seen as the overachievers who go for management positions, while Type B employees do the bare minimum and enjoy the journey. In this case, when it comes to Workaholism, it seems that the Type A individuals would have a greater chance of over working and being unsatisfied which could affect their holistic health. This is not to say that anyone in that category will have adverse health issues, but that depending on their character traits and tendencies, those actions could lead to risky behaviors. If you’d like to see which personality type you are, click here.

2. What Work Do You Do?

Once you’ve been honest with your tendencies and personality set, consider the demands of your job or career. More importantly, how does your line of work align with your personality set. So this isn’t a question of whether your job would be considered “hard,” “difficult,” nor “challenging” in the eyes of others, but subjectively…how much does your work drain you…or does it?

While I do not like extremes, if I were on the spectrum of Type A or Type B, I would hang out closer to the Type A side. I work to see things through to the end and I want the work that I put out to be great. I like things to be done a certain way and in an orderly fashion. I am the Queen of the never ending To Do List. I like to please and impress others, especially my bosses or supervisors. I have a reputation to uphold and I push myself to be the best.

With this in mind, when I work within an environment that is flexible, unpredictable, or draining, I am faced with a great challenge. I currently service as a facilitator which mean I teach “soft skills” or (how to be a decent human being) to 6-12 graders (and occasionally corporate groups). The very nature of this work is that my calendar can change throughout the day at any time. My site location is free flowing with people whose roles overlap. And every class or workshop I hold has a new set of faces, personalities and challenges with a size being anywhere from 6-30 participants. There are so many variables and at times so little notice that it is hard for me to be proud of my work, because I do not feel that I was at optimal performance.

3. What Are Your Priorities?

Almost every time I write a post about life or giving advice, I always ask this question. Because although our experiences are subjective, our priorities require us to think objectively sometimes. After reviewing your character traits and if it aligns with your line of work, you have to make a decision about what is most important. Is your family and their comfort important? Are you going on a trip in a couple of months that requires some preparation? Is completing your last work assignment to perfection life or death?

Think about your goals, hopes, and dreams. What comes first or is competing for that spot? My goal is to become financially stable and be in an environment that is healthful and encourages my creativity. I hope to touch lives through conversations, idea sharing, and modelling certain behavior. I do not have a dream, direction, or specific aim and that scares me. I can make a list of things that I like or enjoy, but I don’t know what the conclusion to my story would/ should look like.

Your priorities may be different and thinking about those might require a different career path or a shift in your personal set. So consider whether you encourage or resist change and why? Remember to stay objective when it comes to achieving that goal or satisfying your priorities.

4. What is Workaholism?

During my senior year in undergraduate, one of my research assignments focused on the Romanticism of Workaholism entitled “Discouraging Work Addiction”. I came to this topic because I was in my final year surrounded by students who were stressed about everything, depressed as a result of living like robots, underwhelmed with options for stress release, and under-impressed with the world surrounding us. Our main goal was to survive our final year walking the stage in one piece, even if that meant grabbing some duct tape and re-attaching our mangled limbs to our half functioning bodies. I always made my friends and co-workers promise that “If for some reason, I do not make it to the stage alive, place my diploma in my casket with all the signatures. I want proof of the blood, sweat, and tears that I endured while here. And if you don’t, I will haunt all of you in my afterlife.”

I wonder why now. In an earlier post, I wrote about the weight of college and the effect it took on me. I had not realized how traumatic those four years were in my life until I returned and was triggered. I experienced almost emotions and feelings like hopefulness, uncertainty, betrayal, fear, anxiety, apathy, atrophy, disjointed, determined, disgusted, depressed, and excited to move on. It was a terrible journey with highs and lows. It’s kind of like trying to find yourself in a sea full of mud and eventually someone hands you a straw so you can breathe.

However, the thing that kept me there was my Workaholism. The word was originally meant to mimic Alcoholism, but is not seen as a character defect within our society (Robinson, 1996, p.447). For example, alcoholics feel an internal motivation to drink excessive amounts of alcohol with time. Alcoholics place the need for the bottle over the need to seek help with life stresses, maintain good physical health, and connect with family in a positive way. While alcoholics have a culturally negative association with their addiction, workaholics are admired for the same association with work. Workaholism is defined by a combination of “high in work involvement, being driven or compelled to work by inner pressures, and low enjoyment at work” (Kanai, 2009, p.213). So there’s this push and pull with wanting to be the best and put in the most hours with a never ending To Do List and not attending to all aspects of ones health.

Work addicts usually fall under the Type A personality which speaks to their ambition, logic, and competitive nature (Robinson, 2014, p. 91). People with Type A personality traits also score high on anxiety, hostility, and anger (Robinson, 2014, p. 91). Meanwhile, these strong traits are connected to a “decreased self-esteem and perceived control”(Robinson, 2014, p. 129). Though these individuals may appear to be put together and on top of things, they actually have significant levels of poor self-esteem and self-doubts. These addicts begin to view their success and self-worth based on their accomplishments. The ten qualities used to determine a work addict, as posed by Robinson (1996), are as follows: Time Urgency, Need to Control, Perfectionism, Difficulty with Relationships, Work Binges, Difficult Relaxing and Having Fun, Burnouts, Impatience and Irritability, Self-Inadequacy, and Self-Neglect.

5. What’s This Got To Do With Depression and Anxiety?

With high work demands, need for perfection, and difficulty relaxing, comes less time to recenter, build meaningful relationships, and disable your flight, fight, or freeze signals. Being consumed by the demands of work can lead to unhealth eating habits, irregular sleeping patterns, less physical active or experience that which gives you job (unless work is joy, but I think everything is great in moderation). As time continues, these individuals could experience Depression and/ Anxiety.

The symptoms of Depression align with effects from work addiction. This includes restlessness, lack of sleep (which can cause you to be irritable), sometimes even too much sleep, fatigue, and worthlessness. If things are not going well at work or one is not achieving high, then this can have a negative effect on the workaholic. Additionally, spending long hours working, leaves little time for friends, families, or hobbies which can give you happy hormones. There is a lot of information out there about Depression and its difference from just being sad. Experience with Depression is different for everyone, so if you think this is something you are dealing with, continue research on the links above and speak with a health care professional (or someone you trust to help you explore options).

Although separate by definition, Anxiety can often be a close friend of Depression for our Type A Workaholics. Anxiety is a nervousness, uneasiness, or need to do something to preparing for or prevent something. However, it is important to clarify that it is excessive worrying or a compulsion to complete a task, rather than just jitters before a test. It’s a conversation that more of “I created 15 different color coded schedules for Fall Semester,” than “I hope I’m not late to class.” And even if you were to stay the late, a super anxious person would should 15-30 minutes early, just to ensure that they’re not late. Or walk there route from each class a few times, to be sure they found the most efficient route. It’s really about how their body process stress. This brings me back to the flight, fight, or freeze signals. With high functioning Anxiety, there is little difference from having a test next class and being chased by a bear after being drenched in organic honey.

6. Living to Work or Working to Live?

As you can see, our actions and choices in our every day lives can affect a combination of all 6 aspects of our health: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Social, Environmental, and Spiritual. So the question here is whether your priorities or goals align with your actions. Is you main goal in life to work? Or are you working so that you can enjoy your life? Or somewhere in between?
There is a difference between working to put food on the table and be able to spend time with friends or family and excessively working to be number one for the day, week, month, or year. I always encourage others to consider their holistic health (those 6 aspects mentioned above). I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s necessary if you want to live a full and healthful life.

I am living and working with Depression and Anxiety. And it is tough, because I’m either doing extremely well and can toot my own horn or I’m glue to my pillow ALL DAY. I have the personality of a person who wants to be a social butterfly and make people proud. I have been drawn to the field of Education while connection my love for Communication and Psychology. However, this line of work in light of our political and social climate is so taxing. My ultimate priority is to live in blissful solitude, so that during the week I can be a superhero and binge watch Netflix on the weekends (or paint or write or dance or go to the beach, I got options!). I really believe that my work can be transformative, but I do not see it manifesting soon enough. Knowing all of this, I attempt to balance my 6 aspects of health but I fail terribly because I’m not disciplined and am limited by Depression and Anxiety.

I don’t want to live pay check to pay check to barely stay afloat. I don’t want to spend so much money on a house that I’ll rarely see. I want the flexibility to live and just be. However, I do not think that I have that luxury, due to my age, ethnicity, social economic status, and financial standing. I don’t know if that bliss is ever coming or if it even matters. Maybe we can talk about my occasionally Nihilism another week. I hope this post gave you enough food for thought. Feel free to leave comments below!

P.S. Citations Below…Let me know if you want more resources!

Kanai, A. (2009). “Karoshi (Work to Death)” in Japan. Journal of Business Ethics, 84 (2): pp. 209-216. Doi: 10.1007/s10551-008-9701-8.

Robinson, B. (1996). The Psychosocial and Familial Dimensions of Work Addiction: Preliminary Perspectives and Hypotheses. Journal of Counseling & Development, 74 (5): pp. 447-452. Doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6676.1996.tb01891.x.

Robinson, B. (2014). Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, Their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them (3rd ed.). New York City, NY: NYU Press.

How to Make Decisions

No one likes making tough decisions. These 6 steps will help you get through those tough times! All you have to do is decide to read it. 😉

Welcome back to another lovely Saturday evening. This is crunch time for decisions. Whether you’re looking for summer fun, accepting school offers for the Fall, or wondering what’s for dinner, you have a decision to make. Here’s my 6 Steps to Making THAT Decision!

1. Realism

Before you rush into making up your mind, you must have the appropriate mindset. I’m all for being realistic because being honest with yourself is the greatest form of kindest to you. Depending on the crossroad you’re at, you may have to challenge yourself to remain objective in this step.

We’ll use this blog post as our themed example. One of my Gap Year goals was to become a more influential writer. Because of that goal, i made a decision to use my website to create journal entries each week about my life and thoughts and art. Today was tough because I didn’t know what to write about.

In being realistic with myself, I know a couple of things: I’m on a personal timeline so there’s no rush. I shouldn’t force myself to create art without a need to communicate an idea. My readers are open to almost any topic (but really love life and romance advice). I am encouraged by myself and our community to be HONEST and unapologetic about that.

2. Priorities

After writing or thinking about the details of the situation, revisit why you’re in this space (physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually). What are you going through? What is your goal? Is this decision worth your time or energy? Think about what commands your attention.

As previously mentioned, I took this Gap Year for the purpose of knowing myself and developing myself personally. One thing I wanted to improve was my writing skills. With that being my goal then this promise I made to myself is important and low risk. I have time today to think and write. I have an open mind today to be present in this writing process. I can afford to give my thoughts.

3. Outcome

Now that we are honest with the situation and it’s important enough to be a proity, let’s look at those consequences. Consequences aren’t always negative. What may happen after you make a decision in which ever direction? What can you look forward to?

If I write today, I will smile and be happy that so far I’ve only slipped up 3 times on my promise to write once a week (most of those, I just lost track of the days of the week, tbh). If I write today, I have an opportunity to inspire or assure someone of their next step. If I don’t write today, I will wonder why I didn’t and will have 4 weeks of no blog posts. If I don’t write today, I might loose the opportunity to help another human or my personal goal.

4. Urgency

Now that we can visualize these consequences, let’s review how important this decision is. Must it be done this hour, this day, this week, or this month? Are the negative consequences so bad that is better to get this decision off your plate?

There is a but of urgency in that I’ve promised to make an evening post every Saturday. However, again, if it didn’t happen the negative consequences aren’t life or death. So I know that I only have a few hours to write about something.

5. Intuition

The most important thing to do is follow your gut. Some people call it your heart or the ancestors, but just know that our bodies are intuned with the universe. The universe is a part of you and you are a part of the universe. However there’s been so much sound placed in between humans and the earth that it’s hard to hear the universe. However with huge decisions or things that are important to you, I believe the universe starts screaming its answer! So listen stupid, well not stupid… silly!

The universe told me that I was being a hard headed lazy bum. The fact that I couldn’t decide on what to write was an inspiration to help other figure or what to write, do, or say. And I felt that it was a great topic because is relatable, useful, and interesting. It’s simple, yet complex, and a lot of fun to think about. How do humans make decisions?

6. Intention

Your final step is to consider your purpose. What will this action or decision really do? What will it mean? Are you going to make a decision out of fear or with the intention to make something happen (or not happen)? Are you hiding something?

My intention here is to publish my thoughts and free myself. My intention is to be bigger than myself. My writing is firstly for me and secondly to anyone who could use it for better. I am making a decision to write for these reasons. I am making a decision to make a decision because of these reasons. It will mean that I kept a promise to myself.

Have I missed anything? Leave comments or questions below!

Best,

Cayla J.

Getting Rid of Toxic People

Drama Free = More Time for Me

Welcome to our final post of the love month! This post is going to cover one of the many ways you need to love yourself. It’s been two months since those crazy #newyearnewme resolutions and one group that we know should have been left in 2017 is “Toxic People.” Below, you’ll find my description of Toxic People and 3 Reasons you should add them to your new 2018 goal!

 

1. The World Revolves Around Me.

Not only are these individuals self-centered they are extremely self conscious. A Toxic Person will be quick to assess the environment or situation and consider how it benefits them. In everything they do, they are subconsciously or consciously making a decision to elevate themselves in some way, shape, or form above everyone else. These situations can rarely be considered fair or honorable. We are talking about the people who egg on drama or chaos at house parties, because a select few people may seem to be having too much fun. Or the people in those Lifetime Movie Network Films who say, “If I can’t have you, no one can!”

Toxic people are the definition of drama and are slick manipulators. These are the people who you could trust with your life and love so intensely that you do not notice how much you’ve changed or separated yourself from joy. In the same light, Toxic People are skilled in changing your attitudes about and view on your life. This is frightening mainly because they do not care for your well being (mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually). As previously mentioned, they will always put themselves first and revel in your digression. Here’s why!

2. I’m Insecure, but I’m Having Trouble Processing It.

Toxic People are negative, non-authentic, and charismatic while projecting their insecurities on you. Toxic People are often pessimistic about their situation and hope to place you in a similar world of unfortunate events. Basically, the goal is to not be around people who will try to steal your shine. You should have a community which uplifts you and encourages you to do better.

Toxic People will also bend truths and change significantly according to those surrounding them.The trait that helps them in their toxicity the most is their charisma. It is hard to tell sometimes when you are dealing with a Toxic Person because they seem trustworthy, well intentioned, and loving, when in fact they have another motives. These individuals make you think they are in you’re corner and that they understand you best. These individuals will make you believe that you are crazy, inadequate, and unloved by others. Here are 5 give aways for a Toxic Person!

3. My Red Flags Aren’t Actually Red.

Number One: Bring You Down. Toxic People truly know how to kill your vibe. You ever get yourself all dolled up and ready for an outing and someone comes in to critique every piece of your outfit? You ever get ready to go on the field and dominate, just when a friend comes up to point out the wind, your form, etc.? You ever get all excited about a crush and, instead of asking more questions, someone gives you all the reasons you should set your bar higher…or you don’t deserve a bar at all? Watch out for people who won’t just let you be great and have little comments which bring up doubt constantly within you.

Number Two: Pity Party = Me Out. Toxic People love to talk about miserable situations and horrible people; however, there’s never a call to action or an obvious confrontation to inspire change. They just love to sit in agony. This goes back to the pessimistic view of the world. To your Toxic Friend, everything is stupid and waning…nothing is good. Well, unless it’s them, which leads to number 3.

Number Three: Over Confident. We’re not talking about healthy self-esteem. We are talking about those people who are very loud, confrontational, or intentional about expressing how perfect they are. They overcompensate when they don’t even have to. They talk too much and too loudly. They rest on the extremes of any spectrum. They want to be front and center or in a leadership position (unless they think that’s stuff). They are full of themselves.

Number Four: Not Is Their Favorite Word. These individuals say can’t, won’t, don’t, and not. Earlier when I said they were negative…they don’t know what it means to be positive. They will use negative words toward other people as well, in order to deflate others’ confidence. You ever have a ready good idea and within one sentence your dreams are crushed? You ever try to be spontaneous and they make too much sense (This one was just for fun. Don’t die y’all! But I mean, YOLO.)? You must be careful of those who crush your spirit.

Number Five: Isolation. The biggest red flag is if you have not seen your best friends or family members in a while. You will think that it is because they have changed, but you are the common denominator and your catalyst is that Toxic Person in your life. Because of their charm and need for control, Toxic People will finds to separate from a world of positivity and balance.

Need more reasons to stay away from Toxic People?

  1. You can set an example for others around you about healthy relationships. Hopefully by being more aware of who Toxic People are, we can decrease the likelihood that more people will be victimized. I think that once Toxic People realize that they have little to no power over you they will choose a new tactic. Maybe this will allow others to intervene and get them the help they need.
  2. Drama free means more time for me. The less drama and unnecessary negative energy you have in your life, the better. You can focus on the things that actually matter and make a difference in our world, rather than being caught in hypotheticals or hersay stuff. Also, when things are in order, you can set aside more time for personal development, pleasure, and relaxation.
  3. Most importantly, it is great for your holistic health! Y’all do not understand how amazing it feels to finally rid your life of Toxic People. It is an unspoken weight lifted off of your shoulders. You breathe better, remember to smile, talk to more people, and just think about how great life is. Again, the toxity is so subtle and appears to be coming from a place of love, but once stripped away YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

In short, identify the Toxic People in your life and create a plan of action to remove them from your everyday life (regardless if they are flesh and blood). If they are impeding on your happiness, health, and peace of mind…your minutes on this Earth could be spent more different. So make your conscious choice.

Best,

Cayla Jae