Take Yourself on a Date

Take Yourself on a Date

    While on this self love journey, I have discovered the fun of taking oneself on a date. I have seen this idea throughout the years but I would get anxious for going to order or talk to a stranger. I thought I could never go out by myself. I have always lived with others and it was easiest to run errands with others. I never had to move out of my comfort zone. I would make strides in other ways but I never took that step out of my comfort zone. 

    With places opening up more and with me feeling more comfortable with going places, I started doing this. I did not necessarily make the conscious decision of hey I’m going to run errands and go treat myself during it. It arose from having to run an errand on my day off. With my odd schedule I get every other Wednesday or Friday off depending on when I work weekends. It does not line up with my boyfriend’s schedule. Yet, the stuff needed to be done.

    The first time I had to run out and pick up miscellaneous groceries for dinner and my boyfriend had meetings all day. So I ran out by myself, to quell some of the anxiety I picked up a treat for myself. This would come up a few times, where I had to run out to pick up stuff and I would treat myself. It was not until more recently that I would actually decide, I’m taking myself out on a date.

    My first date was a couple of weeks ago. I went out to a comic book store, coffee shop, and picked up tacos for lunch. Originally this day was supposed to be when my boyfriend and I went to run fun errands. Yet, his dad had the day off and was able to help us out with our patio. So my boyfriend stayed back and they worked on the patio. Mind you, there was only so much work. If I had stayed, I would have been more of a hindrance than helpful. I decided to still go out. I made an adventure out of it. 

    I stopped at a local coffee shop first. I talked with the barista for a bit and found out our birthdays are one day apart which is really cool. From there I went to the comic shop and ordered a series for myself. I also found a cool new series for me to start reading. I went to a taco truck and had a great conversation with the cook. He and I had a conversation in Spanish, which does not seem like much. But when you rarely get to talk in Spanish and you finally find another Latino, it is exciting. I came home and was excited to talk to my boyfriend about it. 

    My most recent date, I took myself to a local book shop. I had seen the book shop in passing but never stopped. Between my nerves with COVID and not making time, I had never gone in. I had my day off on Wednesday and my boyfriend was in meetings all day. I actually took the time to plan out my date, I would go to the bookshop and check out a local barbecue place. I went out to the bookstore and had so much fun. I would text my boyfriend with updates because I was really excited and wanted to share that with him. I spent an hour just browsing before I picked up many books. I got a few classics, a nice edition of Lord of the Rings and Hobbit, and a Disney series. The shop worker was such a sweet lady and we talked about the classics. Following I went to pick up lunch and the lady who helped me at the restaurant was so sweet and helpful. The food was amazing, and local. 

    Taking myself out on these last few dates have helped me feel more confident and happy. I feel confident in my ability to speak up for myself and do the things I want to do. I am not running on someone else’s schedule, or concerned about what they want to do next. This is not anything against anyone, it is just different. It was nice. I got to discover more of my town and meet lovely people. I had fun and I will be continuing taking myself on dates when my schedule calls for it. I love taking a couple of hours out of my day off and doing fun things. 

It was not easy to start off with. But I do highly recommend taking yourself out on a date. Start off small, take yourself out for coffee. Or go to a bookstore for a bit. As you get more comfortable with that, add to it. Typically when I would go out with my boyfriend, we would have a day out of it. We would have dinner and a movie or go out to a shopping center. Or we would go hiking all day long. So why can’t I do that for myself? Take the time and learn to be with yourself. You have been with yourself for your whole life. Why not celebrate yourself?

Finding Homeostasis in Limbo

Finding Homeostasis in Limbo

The idea of homeostasis arises from biology and the scientific realm. It is the body’s ability returning to a sense of normalcy and balance. Your body sweats in order to keep the body temperature at 98.6. Your body has white blood cells and antibodies to help bring your body back to normal when you get sick. As I write this, I think I have found my form of homeostasis with my health; body, mind, and spirit.

When COVID first hit, I was already struggling to figure out a workout routine. When I was in my last year of undergrad, I was working out consistently. I was working out 3-4 times a week and did various workouts. I felt as if there was no way of getting back to that when everything hit the fan. When stress and workload tripled, I didn’t even try to work out. I was working longer hours and had stress and fear of COVID. I didn’t notice the effects of this on my body until I was trying to help a client do his assessment with the psychiatric nurse. He was being asked to step on the scale, so I said I would go first. When I saw that number on the scale, I panicked. I was almost 20 pounds heavier than I was pre COVID. I was at my heaviest weight, sure I wasn’t the heaviest person in the world. But it felt like all the work I put into myself was gone. That I stopped caring for myself in order to care for others. 

That was in October of 2020, and it was still months before I would actually find balance. I just knew something had to change at that moment. It was around this time when I was trying to figure out what I liked to do. I remembered how much I loved cycling, so I began researching what bikes would do well. I did end up going with the peloton. My boyfriend helped me purchase it and I saved up for weeks. I got it towards the end of November, I was consistently on it. Then the December holiday season rolled around, and I was working even more. So I fell off for a bit. 

Come January, my friends and I were talking about doing more yoga. So we set up a discord and scheduled out virtual yoga. We began doing yoga 2x a week. This was the starting point of where I am now. It brought me consistency which is important to see any change and find balance. This was a good way to start finding my strength.

As I continued through this, a friend of mine was also trying to find a way to work out consistently. So we began running during March. I used to keep a consistent pace of 9:30 and could run for 2 miles. But I was struggling to do a mile at 13 minutes. It was very disheartening to see how much I stopped caring for myself. It was a battle in my mind, to get back into it you can do it and how could you stop? It took me a while to be kind and forgiving for myself. After all, we are still going through a pandemic. Yet, the running had to go on pause for finals season. Since then I’ve run about 2-3 times but I’m hoping to get back into running consistently. 

Along with that, I have started going to the gym. I was always anxious about going to the gym. About messing up in front of others at the gym, about not knowing what to do. Yet, my same friend used to go all the time pre-pandemic. It was a little less nerve racking when I went with her. I still have anxieties because I’m not super strong or have good form. Or even know what to do in the gym. But I am going and that is what matters at the end of the day. 

Since starting this journey, I now work out anywhere between 3-5 days a week. It has been about a month of this routine. That is why I have not been posting, I have been trying to rediscover my health. I have been trying to return to my homeostasis. Where I am working out, I am taking time out for myself, and I feel good. Sure the number on the scale is what kickstarted this but it is not the factor that I am chasing after. I am not chasing after a low number on the scale, I am looking for strength and to feel good. I want to have energy to move and be happy. Being a female, the number on the scale is going to fluctuate regardless of what I do. The scale is not a good measure of health. But how I feel in my skin matters, how strong I feel matters, how confident I am in myself matters.

Body Neutrality for 2021

Body Neutrality for 2021

Body Neutrality is a term that has crossed my radar this year. I have been in the camp of body negativity and I have dabbled with body positivity. Unbeknownst to me, I was never really content with my body. Even with all the positivity in the world, it would not take away the years of negativity and the negativity did not remove when I did feel good about myself. I was never meant to pick a side on this scale, I was meant to find a middle point. 

Body negativity was easy to pick up. It is easy to be negative when you have a society and social media showing you all the things you do not have. It is easy when you grow up with other girls who are also pointing out what they hate about their bodies. You see them as beautiful and can’t believe they would talk so poorly about themselves. Yet, here you are talking down to yourself. It takes years to even fully recognize that you are in this cycle.

Once I was in my senior year of high school, I decided I was done with the cycle. I had started the road toward body positivity. I was choosing only the clothing that made me feel good. I was doing my makeup before school. Throughout college I kept working on my mindset that I was beautiful. I learned how to love the gap in my teeth. I began smiling with my teeth showing. I loved my face without makeup and with makeup. I absolutely loved my body.

I hit a roadblock after my sophomore year of college. I was going through a hard time and going to therapy. I gained at least 10-15lbs in a short span of time. I was back into my cycle of negativity. It was like all those years of work were for nothing. It took me months before I decided to do something about it. My therapist kept telling me about the benefits of exercise within the realm of mental health. That it would be good for me. So with my boyfriend’s help, I started running. Mind you I had never worked out a day in my life before. My high school gym teachers were lucky if I half-assed something. 

It took me a few months before I liked running and working out. Once I did, I kept doing it a few times a month. I felt strong in my body. This helped me back toward the body positivity train. I was strong and I was confident in myself. I continued my work in therapy and worked on my mindset. I was back to loving myself and my body. I was positive about who I was as a person and what I would do. I was going so well.

Until I was not, when COVID hit I was one of many who gained weight. Those 10-15lbs I had lost and felt strong, were back and I was not in a good headspace. I was not concerned about the weight anymore but the headspace was not where I wanted to be. Me being me, I wanted to work toward that positive headspace again. I never realized that I had fallen into a cycle. I was going back and forth between body negativity and positivity. It was at this moment that I heard the term of body neutrality. I was watching a video by Carrie Dayton who introduced me to this term. It is the idea that you do not have to always be positive about your body nor do you need to be negative about it. Your body is just that, your body. Not a positive stimulus or a negative stimulus. That its function is to keep you alive and help you go about your day. 

This new perspective is taking some time to adjust to. I want to revert to either end of the spectrum, almost each day. But I constantly remind myself that that is not what my body is for. I’m tired of ping ponging back and forth between being so hard on my body and so positive about it. I don’t need to think of myself as a snack to provide my body with what it needs. Nor do I need to deprive my body because it is not this idealized body in society’s eyes. I do not need to worry about what a scale says about my weight. I just need to fuel it with what is good and exercise because it boosts my mood. That’s it.

What’s in my Grad School Bag

What’s in my Grad School Bag

    Finishing up my first year, I have found what works and what does not when it comes to my grad school bag. My bag comes with me to and from work. There are some down times when the clients are in school, so I get a chance to work on homework and reading. I think I have gotten it down to still work when it comes to actually going on to campus. There has been talk of us returning to campus, since 90% of students have been online for this past year and a half. But the idea of returning on campus is for another post. 

    When it comes to my bag, the first thing is my actual bag. I have been using my Fjall Raven Kanken. I have the 14 inch laptop bag, it fits my iPad with no issues and the rest of my supplies. I currently have the green bag and soon I will be embroidering it to make it personalized. The bag works great because it evens out the weight of my stuff without hurting my back. There was a period of time when I was using a purse with a laptop sleeve. Yet, I noticed more pain in my back from going back and forth. So I went to my kanken, and noticed a shift. 

    The second most important thing is my iPad. I have the iPad Pro 2020 128 gb in space grey. With that I am able to keep my most, if not all, my textbooks digital. This keeps my paper consumption down to a minimum in grad school. I love that I am able to highlight and make notes through my iPad. I also have my note taking on the iPad. I use the app Notability, for all my notes. I use subjects and headers to divide my notes based on subject, in class, and text book. After a semester finishes up, I move my notes into a folder for the semester. I love the ability to have various pens and highlighters specific to each class. And to de-stress, I use procreate to draw.

    To go along with the iPad, I’ve got various accessories to go along with it. I used to just have a trifold case and my old Bluetooth Mac keyboard. I just recently upgraded to the magic keyboard. I bought this through amazon since it is almost $100 off, when compared to the apple site. It does add a little weight to my bag but since I’m using the Kanken, it’s well distributed. But being able to have my keyboard connected to the case is very helpful. It takes up less space and I can type while it is in my lap or on a table. Also, I have the apple pen II. I use this to do my handwritten notes. While I may be going for the most part paperless, I still recognize the research behind hand writing your notes. To help it, I use a paper like screen protector. It helps me to draw and write as if I am writing on paper. This also helps keep my paper consumption down. Because if hand taken my notes, I would’ve gone through a good amount of paper like I did in undergrad. 

    I have brought my paper consumption down, but I still like the use of a paper bullet journal. I have tried using a digital planner and a physical planner, but I like the flexibility that comes with a bullet journal. It also counts as a destressor for myself. With my bullet journal I use: a multitasky notebook, pilot g2 pen, Tul pencil and eraser, and zebra mild liners. For the first few months, I have been designing it minimally to maximize its use but with the semester winding down, I have been able to be more creative with it. Which has been beneficial for my stress as we finish out. 

    For the miscellaneous things, I still use note cards for the few tests that I have had. I also use sticky notes when it comes to my mind dumps. If I am in the middle of class and the professor references a final or a paper, I scribble it down so it’s not taking up space in my headspace. I can place the sticky notes on my wall as reminders of what I need to do without distracting myself in the middle of class.

My grad school bag is definitely different from my bag for undergrad. I find it to be more efficient and lighter than undergrad. I have used about ¾ less paper than I have in previous school years. Which feels great that I am being a little more sustainable than before. It is the little steps that help the environment in the long run. The supplies I found to work took a little trial and error. This may shift as I transition back to being on campus again. It’s been over a year and a half since I have had to walk around campus and this will be different as a commuter grad student. But I need to take it one day at a time.

Why a MSW program?

Why a MSW program?

As I started this blog post, I had to take a moment and really think of what was motivating me to go for a masters. When I was in undergrad, one of the best pieces of advice was “Graduate school is hard. But that spark that you feel in you now, remember that when things get tough. That will push you through Grad school.”

That spark I felt was right around when I was talking about working with people. I was talking to a girl who came to my sophomore seminar course to talk about getting a masters in counseling. She said that to me when we sat in a Panera while I asked a million questions about grad school. She has somewhat of a similar situation I find myself in now. She had taken a break from school and worked as a case worker in the area. After a year, she went back for counseling. Whereas I am here after a few months going into a social work program.

Starting as a case manager right after undergrad, there have been many times where I don’t know how to reach my clients or talk to my clients. I have had to think on my feet or wait until I could talk to my supervisor. It’s frustrating when I prefer to go on my own and figure out solutions. But then I run into the issue of not really reaching my clients. Also, I would like to reach a point where I could become a therapist. I think it would be great to start a private practice one day. I have played around with that idea for a few years. Yet, I need to get more into the field and get more experience. So by going back for my masters, will allow me to have 3 different internships. This will grant me more experiences with working with people and more problem solving skills. Throughout this program, I think it will help me with my current caseload and future case loads.

By going through a part time program, it will allow me to continue working full time. If I had dropped my work hours to part time, then I would be going to full time school. But financially I am comfortable at working full time. I can pay my car, my groceries, bills, and have a little spending money. I have had this comfortable financial level for the past 6 months. The last thing I want to do is restrict my quality of life for a degree. I am a strong believer in self care and a form of self care is financial self care. Throughout my undergraduate degree, I had a budget of $100 per month. I will admit my parents paid for my cost of living on campus. I had no car and no bills. I had to finance my groceries and if I went out. So to have the opportunity to work full time and pay for my current lifestyle, I do not want to revert back to where I was. I want to continue being self-reliant in the financial world. I want to hold my own and continue moving forward.

At this point in time, I do not know if I will stop my formal education at a master’s program. Throughout undergrad, I knew I wanted to continue on to graduate school. But I’m still playing around with the idea of eventually going back for a Ph.D. I will be flexible with my goals. I do not know where the master’s will take me. I don’t know if I’ll be burnt out from formal education and need a break for a few years. We will see where these next 3 years take me. The only thing I know at the moment, the masters feels like a step in the right direction. I recognize that it’s going to be hard but as long as I remember my spark, I think I can do it. 

Sincerely,

Semita ❤