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Food For Thought life Pregnancy

Let’s Talk About: Pregnancy

Pregnancy is bittersweet. Overall, pregnancy is beautiful. It’s a surreal, life changing experience. Sex can really create a whole ‘nother organism by chance with time. A sperm and an egg really turns into a cluster of cells that becomes a fetus and is born into a baby. Overall, pregnancy is awe-inspiring. Day by day though? Let’s talk about it.

What I have to say about pregnancy is solely based on my experience. Everyone experiences pregnancy differently. Each pregnancy is typically different than another, though there are common symptoms. One person will most likely have a different pregnancy experience with each pregnancy they have. I always say it and I always will say, being pregnant has made me more passionately pro-choice. I say pregnancy is bittersweet because, while I love feeling my baby move and hearing her heartbeat at the doctor’s is relaxing, the entire process is exhausting.

I don’t think pregnancy is talked about enough with transparency, when it comes down to the symptoms, feelings, and overall journey. It is about a whole nine-month process that takes up a person’s life, yet the details of it are barely discussed. Maybe it is because I haven’t seen someone’s journey firsthand. Maybe it is because pregnancy can be a personal thing and not everyone wants to talk about the details. Maybe it is because some people have nothing to say about it and walk through pregnancy like a breeze. Maybe it’s because we’re expected to be grateful to be able to create and carry a baby full term. I want to talk about my pregnancy journey, raw and unfiltered, as a 22/23 year old black woman living in a pandemic. And no, it’s nothing like it’s portrayed on tv.

We can start at the beginning, when I first found out I was pregnant. Looking back, a lot of the signs were there. I just wasn’t looking for them. My breasts weren’t sore but they did look bigger to me, which I didn’t question. My sense of smell was slightly stronger. I had the cravings that I normally wanted during my period. I consistently had a very weird metallic type taste in my mouth that wouldn’t go away, even after brushing my teeth. I thought I had gotten a sinus infection because I was getting headaches, my ears were popping, and my nose was a little stuffy. Because Covid is a thing, I was getting temperature checks pretty much every day before work, and my temperature, which is usually around 94-96 degrees was reaching 98 degrees. I felt gassy regularly. I was told I was glowing. I was unexplainably tired all of the time and felt a tightness in my stomach. I noticed my uterus pouch bulging a little, but didn’t think to question why. All of this happened within the first couple weeks of pregnancy.

Technically, I have a healthy pregnancy. I don’t have preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. My blood pressure is typically at a good rate. I’m not gaining too little weight or too much weight too fast. I have yet to have leg cramps or worry about blood clots. The baby moves and is growing where she is supposed to. In this way, I am lucky and thankful. I do see the doctor every two weeks though and have since I started going, which is more often than most people who are pregnant.

My pregnancy experience encompasses the unique experience that I have an autoimmune disease. The biggest hardship has been the flare-ups from the disease. My version of it is considered moderate to severe and is linked closely with my hormones, which pregnancy has a big effect on. The flare ups have made me relatively immobile and put me in an intense amount of pain or un-comfortability for days at a time. I used to give myself a shot in the thigh every week for it. With pregnancy, I could no longer be on the medication, and I was already behind doses when I found out the exciting news. My doctors gave me at least three different antibiotics to try instead and none of them were as effective as the shot I was taking before. It has taken a while for the most recent prescription to help ease my symptoms. The disease had gotten the worst it had ever been during pregnancy, and now, eight months later at the end of my pregnancy, is the most comfortable I have been in regards to flare ups. I spent a good 75%-80% of my pregnancy in pain or uncomfortable and probably 10% of that crying my eyes out solely because of this wretched disorder that maybe one day I’ll explain. It has gotten easier as the pregnancy went on, and with my third trimester it has whined down, but damn it has been rough.

The nausea is the second hardest part about my pregnancy. Some women are blessed not to experience nausea at all. For some, the nausea goes away by the second or third trimester. Mine has lasted throughout my entire pregnancy and it is accompanied by vomiting. Though my doctor hasn’t explicitly told me I have hyperemesis gravidarum, I think it’s fair to say I have that, which is extreme morning sickness. In the beginning I couldn’t even keep down water. Some days I still can’t. Anything I ate I would throw up; for at least two weeks I barely ate anything at all. The smell of food and coffee at my job made me nauseous. I spent so much time in the bathroom and my disease was increasing in intensity, it was best for me to go on a leave of absence.

Throwing up everyday turned into throwing up a couple times a week. There was maybe a month or two where I was vomit-free and that was because of medication. Now, around 33 weeks the nausea has come back. All the vomiting has led to a little blood in my throw up from time to time. Throughout this pregnancy, I have been on at least three different antacids and if memory serves, two different nausea medications. Pregnancy is the first, and only time, I had to get an IV to resupply the nutrients in my blood. That happened recently in my last trimester and I proceeded to throw up in the hospital as well.

There are also other little symptoms that come with pregnancy that I had no idea about until I experienced it. Heartburn is a big one for me, and is also a source of where my nausea comes from. Back pain is the obvious one most people know of. I get headaches more often. Sometimes, not very often, my nipples have been sore. I see un-concerning floaters in my vision from time to time. I’m out of breath easier and towards the end of my pregnancy can really feel my baby applying pressure, which affects the way I move, sit, lie down, and get up.

My heart rate randomly speeds up and is noticeably faster because a pregnant body is working twice as hard. During pregnancy, your joints loosen and your center of balance is different than before. Your feet and hands can swell, it can be hard to sleep, and towards the end, you really do have to pee all the time, which doesn’t help when it is hard to sleep. There is also this thing called sciatica, which is nerve pain in the hips, that was aroused in me for about a month. The constipation that comes with pregnancy can also be annoying depending on the severity. I have luckily only had one really hard morning. UTIs and other vaginal infections are also easier to catch. I am hot literally all the time, even when it’s freezing outside. I’ve been a different type of tired throughout most of my pregnancy. I’m sure there are other little symptoms that pregnancy brings that I can’t remember or haven’t experienced, at least yet. If you’re reading this and are pregnant, contact your doctor for any symptom concerns. Some are signs of bigger issues, they just haven’t proven to be for me.

Those are all the physical aspects of pregnancy that I can remember I’ve been experiencing. There are also the mental and emotional sides too. Pregnancy brain is really a thing. Sometimes, I just can’t think. The emotional rollercoaster that comes with hormone changes hasn’t been as dramatic for me as people claim it to be. Still, things that wouldn’t normally make me cry have made me cry to the point I question why I’m crying. I get agitated easier. Some days I’m just sad for no real reason.

In the beginning, I struggled with if I even wanted to continue with this unplanned pregnancy for months. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever made and it will probably be the most fulfilling. In general, I have anxiety. Being pregnant, especially pregnant in a pandemic, has brought about more anxiety with it. I have worried about all the things that can go wrong during pregnancy and delivery. You honestly never really know what will happen until the baby is born. I have worried about catching Covid, about when it will end, and what it and its effects will morph into when my daughter is older. I worry about the racist, sexist, problematic world I am bringing a child into. I worry about if she is healthy and whether or not I will be okay and survive during childbirth, especially as a black woman. I worry about being neglected by doctors and if there are or will be obvious signs that something is not right that will be missed. I worry about being a statistic and being further stereotyped and about what life will look like when she’s here. I worry about the “dad” popping up in a couple years and having to deal with him. I worry if I can’t feel her move enough or if she is moving too much. I worry that the doctor won’t be able to find her heartbeat. I worry about sudden infant death and the newness of everything that comes with caring for a newborn. And this is all just on the top of my head. Literally anything there is to worry about regarding pregnancy and motherhood, I have worried about it as some point.

Being pregnant during Covid is also a different experience because I am taking Covid seriously. I was immunocompromised before pregnancy; now I’m further immunocompromised. Being on leave of absence, being high risk and acting high risk means I rarely leave the house or see anyone outside of my household and doctors. Few people have really seen my pregnancy bump develop. No one has really felt her move, partly because she tends to stop when anyone tries to feel. Every appointment I have, I have to attend by myself because visitors can’t come in. When I give birth, only one person is allowed in the hospital with me. It is nice to avoid the unsolicited advice and comments from strangers, but pregnancy during Covid is a different experience. I have no base comparison so who knows what else I’m missing out on.

Because of the stage I am in my life and because of Covid, I have chosen to isolate from others. As selfish as it sounds, not reaching out to others often, if at all, has given me space to focus on myself and the start of a new chapter. I haven’t avoided anyone, but I also haven’t engaged much with anyone who didn’t reach out to me first. For me specifically, isolating was a necessary step for growing and educating myself, though it may not be for anyone else, especially since pregnancy is essentially a waiting period. I’ve been waiting what feels like lifetimes for my daughter’s arrival. I’ve been waiting to be able to start working again.

There is also the whole gaining weight to support your baby thing. Pregnancy will be the most I have ever weighed. As someone who has always had her weight commented on, from when I was a fat child to when I was proportioning out to when I was losing weight, there was a time during this pregnancy when it was triggering to have my weight checked often and to explain my eating habits, especially when I was having trouble keeping food down in the first place. For the most part I got used to it, but there are still those days. For example, the IV caused me to gain five pounds in two weeks, and I was petrified up until my ob told me that my weight looked good and that I probably was dehydrated before the IV. Also statistically most people who are pregnant gain more then they’re “supposed” to. I find it a little arbitrary and though it is necessary it is tracked because excessive or too little weight gain can lead to other problems, I do think being super strict about it is a product of society. There is so much going on in your body and mind when your pregnant. Worrying about weight when it isn’t part of a bigger issue will only cause further stress.

Pregnancy in itself can also be a lonely experience, but not because you’re alone. Some know right away what their next step is after a positive pregnancy test is. I didn’t. When you are unsure, it is difficult to talk about making the choice to continue a pregnancy with people who have never been pregnant and struggled with the choice themselves. People understandably project what they would do or their concerns onto you when it is not their life being affected. At first, it was hard and strange to hear “Congratulations,” when the initial excitement that I could actually have kids of my own was taken away from me, when I didn’t feel like I had a choice, when I was being pressured into a decision that didn’t align with what my gut said, when I was unsure about having and coping with an abortion, and when I was overall confused about what I wanted. It can be hard to talk about pregnancy with people who aren’t currently or have never been pregnant because they can’t have a real understanding of it. And honestly, who really wants to hear about the nitty gritty of the experience in a casual conversation? Even with support, and even with someone I am close to being pregnant, there were times when pregnancy was alienating for me.

Being transparent about how pregnancy can be hard and tiring is not something people want or expect to hear. It can sound like a lot of complaining about a beautiful journey that not everyone who wants to gets to experience. People want to talk about food cravings, your growing baby bump, and names for the baby. (I crave a lot of sweets by the way, to the point that they show up in my dreams. I haven’t craved anything I usually don’t like, but sometimes I have craved something, taken a bite, and become disgusted. I also can’t eat some things I like such as spicy food.)

The conversations around pregnancy are usually light and full of excitement. After all, it is an exciting time! All I can think about is seeing my baby and what she’ll look like when she cries and laughs. I just think it’s important to be able to say “pregnancy is beautiful and I am excited for my daughter’s entrance into the world” as well as “fetuses and babies in the womb are basically parasites” without it being controversial, simply because parasite has a negative connotation and because, often times, continuing with a pregnancy is a choice. Also because, by definition, that’s what they are.

Continuing with or ending a pregnancy is a personal choice to be made by the person carrying the baby and should be treated as such by the other party involved, society and law. Even though I didn’t feel comfortable with it this pregnancy, we’re pro-abortion over here, especially because for about nine months, during pregnancy, your body isn’t yours. Your body will neglect you to encourage the growth of the eventual baby. You have to watch what you eat, drink, take vitamins, and ride out all of the symptoms to encourage the healthy development of the fetus . For almost a year. And then after that you are responsible for your baby in every way basically for the rest of your life if you aren’t putting the baby up for adoption and if you’re a considerate parent.

I didn’t research anything about pregnancy until I experienced symptoms and wanted to know if they were normal. There is so much that comes with pregnancy. Pregnancy isn’t all sunshine and rainbows for everyone who experiences it and I don’t think it should be portrayed that way. I decided to share my experience to normalize the hard and irritating parts of it. The truth is, pregnancy, just like life, has it’s good days and bad days. My pregnancy in itself has been good, but the side effects, most noticeably the hormone changes, have triggered other symptoms inside my body that’s not fun to deal with, especially on top of the other common pregnancy symptoms. It would be a lie to say some days haven’t been really hard. I am happy I continued with this pregnancy because after experiencing all of this I don’t know if I want to do it again. It’s made me consider if I really want more children, (which I do but like damn at what cost).

I say pregnancy is worth it, simply because of my mindset behind having children, which is different than the norm, because I’ve always wanted to be a mom and because I made the choice on my own to continue with my pregnancy. I am thankful for this experience. Pregnancy itself has already changed who I am and helped me grow as a person. I will also say I am over it. I have been ready to give birth and hold her in my arms for months. I am ready to eat what I want when I want without worrying about if it’s safe for the baby or throwing up. I am ready to be back on medication I know works. I am ready to stop throwing up and am ready to start becoming nimble and mobile again.

Few tell you the hardships of pregnancy. Maybe they’re focused on the prize at the end of the race. And though the rainbow is beautiful at the end of the storm, it doesn’t change the fact there was a whole storm you managed through to get there. The storm makes me more appreciative. The prize makes it worth it.

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Children Food For Thought life Pregnancy

The Mindset Behind Having Children

A friend texted me the other day regarding my last blog post, which talked about my pregnancy and my decision to keep the, now baby, growing inside of me. She told me that she also envisioned herself having a kid, without the father or a partner by her side. That for some reason, she pictures herself pregnant with her belly out and that’s it.

Texting with her about her thoughts and sharing mine made me think more about how society expects people to have children and to have them a certain way. We’re lowkey taught that babies come out of love and out of marriage. I mean, we were singing on the playground “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage.” Most people do not envision having children until they are married. And I get it because we are taught that. I get it because children are looked at as two people’s legacies. I get it, because the idea of marriage brings about an idea of stability, which is important for babies and children growing up. With marriage, one can assume you would have someone to make decisions with, to lean on, and to help take care of and raise the children. Regardless of my understanding of this thinking, I think society needs to shift its mindset behind it.

For one, not every person with a uterus wants to have children. That, like most ideas regarding children and marriage, comes from a traditional way of thinking. Women were expected to stay home, raise a family, and take care of their husbands back in the day. Hell, some men still expect that now, whether they are aware of it or not, when it is not reality. It should’ve never been the reality, but you know, misogyny. Women are people with their own goals, feelings, thoughts, and lives. Surprise, surprise. Some people with uteruses do not see babies or raising children fitting into their life plan. What’s the problem with that?

And on the topic of tradition, let me just mention real quick that people, mainly women, weren’t really supposed to have sex outside of marriage. Doing so would strip them of their “purity.” They would become “whores” and “harlots,” unwanted by a man they could’ve married for soiling their name. Back then, marriage was a woman’s main role. The concept of virginity was just another attempt by men, and upheld socially by both men and women, to control women and their actions because of their “inferiority.” Effects of this still exist today, including but not limited to, the concept of slut shaming, for example.

There’s still the pushing of people, mainly woman, to just get married and have children already. For why, though? Why rush them into lifelong commitments with a partner or with children? Why rush married people into having children? What if they can’t have or afford children? What is societies need of focusing and controlling other people’s lives?

Don’t get me wrong, I still envision getting married and having more kids one day. Even though it is a want, it isn’t a need. As I said in that previous post, I have always wanted to be a mother more than a wife. Over the years, I began to view children, for what they are: people who come about because of sex. I grew out of the mindset that children were products of love or a relationship. Yes, consensual sex sometimes occurs out of love, but that is not the reality for everyone. Yes, consensual marriage tends to come out of love, and married people tend to have sex, but in the long term some marriages lead to divorce. Some people fall out of love. Some people begin loving someone else. I didn’t and don’t want to feel stuck to someone solely because of another person, even if it is our child. I didn’t and don’t want to stay in a relationship because of a child. I don’t want to rush a relationship because of a child. It’s why I didn’t move in with my baby’s “father” when he suggested it after we found out I was pregnant. I don’t want to have an abortion if I feel ready and am able to raise a child, even if the other person isn’t on board. And ultimately I didn’t have an abortion because I didn’t want one, could adjust my life to raise a child, and I don’t view children as products of a relationship or of love.

When I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to co-parent, especially because I was worried about having a boy. Co-parenting simply put, is two people raising a child together who are not in a serious romantic relationship. From my viewpoint, boys tend to take not having a father around more personally than girls; I only say this because, when girls grow up, they tend to understand the situation because of their own interactions with men. Co-parenting can be just as productive as a married couple or a couple in a relationship raising a child together. What matters is that kids feel loved, understood, and supported. What matters is that both parties are mature, can communicate effectively, are on the same page, and support one another. These concepts can be achieved, challenging, or seemingly impossible while co-parenting. It can be achieved, challenging, or seemingly impossible in marriages and among couples in relationships. Living under the same roof makes raising children easier, but it’s not necessary, especially if you give your child the tools to understand the situation without judgement when they’re older. Why can’t someone choose a specific person to co-parent with? Why can’t two people who know they want children do so platonically without judgement?

As time went on, I realized, with this person, I didn’t want to co-parent. I wanted it because society says children need both parents to thrive. I wanted it because he said he would be there. I wanted it because society looks at people who stray away from tradition differently. Though she may not be the only one, for now at least, she’ll be a girl without a father on Father’s Day. I wanted it because growing up, at least for now, my daughter will think something is missing because society will continuously tell her that, even if she doesn’t feel that way at first.

I changed my mind about co-parenting because I realized the tools I stated earlier that are needed for it to be successful aren’t there. He also isn’t ready for the responsibility, regardless of what he told himself in the beginning. Forcing that to work would only harm her more in the long run. Regardless of what the laws say, regardless of what society says, having both parents in a child’s life is not always the best option, even in non extreme circumstances. People who think their parents should get divorced can understand this. People who have seen children used as pawns or ways for parents to feel control and power can understand this. People who get along with one parent and not the other can understand this. The knowledge of this, however, will not change how a child feels about it growing up, but hopefully with honest communication and the tools needed for understanding, they will come to understand and accept it, without it affecting them negatively.

Another example, to wrap this up, I was watching Insecure on HBO by Issa Rae months ago. I was around two months pregnant. Spoiler alert, one of the side characters ends up pregnant. Of course she’s pregnant by the man the protagonist is trying to get back together with. She tells him she’s pregnant, tells him she was ready to have a baby, and tells him he doesn’t have to help. After all of that, when the episode aired, people were commenting on Twitter that her choice was selfish. That is was weird she was ready to have a child with a man she wasn’t in a relationship with when she had gotten an abortion in a previous, more serious, relationship. That she was messing up his current relationship because she knew he would stick around to help her with the baby.

All of the blame regarding the situation went to her and people questioned her intentions, but no one said anything about the man who got her pregnant. No one said that he should be around because he is also responsible for her pregnancy. No one thought it could work out successfully through co-parenting and the protagonist being understanding of the awkward but workable situation. The new season isn’t out, so it’s unclear what her intentions actually are. Still the fact people’s first response was that she was having the baby to trap him is ridiculous. I’m not saying people don’t do that. I’m saying that we are so conditioned to view children as products of a relationship and of love that even when a fictional woman chooses to keep a baby, even if it means she will be a single mom, people assume it’s to keep a man close by. People are pro-choice when it comes to having an abortion, and rightly so, but when it comes to choosing to have a baby with or without the partner present, then people start acting weird, calling the decision selfish. I can’t tell you how much guilt I was made to feel for making the decision that was best for me.

I always pictured having my first child without a partner. Although I was content with it when it was just an idea, and I am content with it as my reality, it does not change how society views it. It doesn’t change the few people who were surprised I said I was going to continue with the pregnancy, even though the relationship wasn’t serious. It can be hard to ignore the stigma around single moms, especially black ones. It doesn’t change people’s thoughts that a woman would have a child just to keep a man around. It can be hard not to feel a type of way when people say on social media that women should “choose better men” or “not open their legs for bums.” And tell me how a lack of responsibility on the man’s part leads to judgement of a woman?

All of this just made me think, what’s wrong with a person with a uterus choosing to have a child alone? Why must it be a product of a relationship or of love? Why would it be more acceptable if I chose to have a baby for and with a man versus for myself?

Categories
Food For Thought life Self Love and Personal Growth

The Dream I Had

I had a dream a month or so ago that woke me up feeling some type of way I cannot really explain. I wholeheartedly believe dreams that are remembered can tell you a lot. They pull from your subconscious. They can spark your creativity and imagination, remind you of something you have forgotten or have been meaning to do, teach you lessons, and even tell you how you feel. In this dream, there was a bunch of things happening, but the part I am going in to detail about is the part I remember the most that resonates the most with me.

I suppose I was a teacher in the dream. I had a whole group of people with me, all in their twenties-around the same age as me. I don’t know what kind of class it was. It seemed like the mission was to complete an escape room like experiment. A lot of us had finished it on our own already. There was one person who hadn’t experienced the escape room yet.

One of the stages required the participant(s) to knock out this monster guarding the next round. The way to achieve this was to pull the ropes so that the monster would be enticed to go near the dangling slab of concrete attached to the rope, which you’d end up releasing on its head. The person who didn’t complete the escape room beforehand, lets just call her “Student,” performed this step with the help of everyone else. As the teacher I allowed it, though I was getting a little annoyed because she was meant to do it herself.

We moved through that round of the escape room and got to a huge room with two sections. As you walk in you would see a desk with with papers on it, with a drawer and a lock. To the right of that was a huge window that opens out with another desk underneath it. Shelves covered in books, vases, and plants decorated the walls. An archway to the left led to treasure chests with key holes on top of chairs. Bookcases were on the walls behind that.

The group that was there started explaining to Student how to get the keys to open the locked drawers and chests without her exploring the room and finding them for herself. I was getting more and more agitated. At one point I told them all to stop feeding her information. She found a key with their help and searched for which keyhole it opened by herself. She went to the first keyhole she saw and attempted to open it. It needed a code. She couldn’t figure out the code, so the drawer wasn’t opening.

Everyone knew the key wasn’t meant for the desk drawer. The key opened the treasure chest in the archway. A group of people moved there because they were getting restless. It seemed like a lot of time was passing. I was worried that she would assume the key opened a treasure chest in that room simply because everyone gravitated there. Then, someone opened up the treasure chest and pulled out a plant, which was what Student was meant to find. I yelled at that person for sabotaging this whole experiment which was meant for Student to learn. Turns out that person took the plant that was inside to mess with, who I assume, is the other person who facilitated the experiment. Their actions had nothing to do with helping or harming Student although it would affect her.

I went outside to recover the plant that was taken and when I got back inside, Student was crying hysterically. The drawer just wouldn’t open and she was frustrated. Someone else was crying watching her. I approached Student and consoled her, holding the plant behind my back. Someone took it from me as I told her, “Hey, obviously this isn’t working. This key isn’t for that drawer. You know that. Why do you keep trying? Find the right keyhole.”

She ended up going to the room everyone gravitated to. She picked the right treasure chest and opened it. Although the plant she was meant to find wasn’t in there, it would’ve been. One of the members of the group revealed it to her. Student seemed satisfied and asked, “See. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just tell me how to do it?”

“No,” I answered, “Because this was meant to teach you how to think critically and problem solve. I would’ve let you keep going but we’re running out of time. Now it’s time to open the desk drawer.” The code to the drawer was outside, on the ground, which could be discovered by looking out of the window. I was worried she wouldn’t find it.

Then I woke up.

I took away a couple explanations and lessons from this dream. A part of me felt like I was talking to my daughter just because I am pregnant with a girl and mothers tend to teach lessons to their children.

However, I also took away how Student was trying the same thing over and over again. It wasn’t working, she knew it wasn’t working, but she kept trying. And though getting up after you get kicked down is admirable, it is equally as important to recognize when your approach is wrong. Trying the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result, is insanity. It’s important to be flexible and to learn when to keep going, walk away, or approach the situation differently.

I was upset in the dream because I wanted Student to figure out things for herself. When you are always given all the answers, you become dependent on others. It can make it hard to know where to start when you are met with a problem. It can, in some ways, hinder your growth. Problem solving and critical thinking are skills. Skills need to be developed and sharpened. This doesn’t mean not to ask for help or rely on others. It’s just a reminder to trust yourself and your instincts as well.

People providing Student with answers also bothered me because it did not allow her to look for clues. Escape rooms somewhat require you to solve a puzzle by looking at all the details to make sure you don’t miss anything. Student wasn’t turning every stone. She looked at the directions she was pointed to instead of the bigger picture. She also wasn’t looking at the details. You can learn a lot by stepping back to see the whole picture and by zooming in to look closely at the details.

It can be hard or disheartening to watch, but sometimes you have to watch people figure it out on their own. You can give your opinions and advice, but ultimately it is their life. You can tell your kids not to touch the hot stove, but they will not understand how hot it is until they touch it. Similarly, sometimes you have to learn the lessons for yourself. I mean, how many times has someone given you advice that you did not listen to? How many times were those people right? It is different to hear it than experience it.

Lastly, upon editing this post, I was reminded that life happens. People, events, and situations may interfere with your life and unknowingly (or knowingly) affect your life. The person who stole the plant was not thinking about Student when they did so, but the chest was still empty when Student unlocked it. Intentions matter, but they do not always warrant forgiveness.

Maybe I think too much, but those were the lessons I took from that dream I had. It was so random but the fact I remembered meant something to me. It felt like a metaphor when I woke up. I had to share what I learned and was reminded of.

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Food For Thought

Oh, ‘Rona

I remember being in grade school reading history books and listening to lectures about the Great Depression and the Civil War. I vaguely remember being a child during 9/11, only to learn more about the event and its effect when I got older. And in those moments I wondered what additions would be made to those history books during our lifetimes. What would we live through that would shape the course of history?

If I didn’t write anything about the coronavirus I would feel ridiculous. We’re in the middle of a pandemic! What’s been said is true: we’re living through history. Years from now we could look back at what is now on the news and what we personally capture during this time. The outcome of this will change the way people think and act if it hasn’t done so already. At this point in time the US has surpassed Italy and China in the number of documented cases. Daily life has been impacted in noticeable ways. The state and county you live in can affect how drastic the changes are because the nation isn’t on the same page yet on how to handle this. Some states and counties in the US are in full on “shelter-in-place” mode. Others only have “non-essential” businesses closed and strongly recommend social distancing.

A lot of businesses have closed their doors. People have been laid off because businesses either don’t have the money to sustain themselves and support their employees or simply don’t want to pay out their employees. What’s even worse is not everyone has been promised a position back when this is all over.

During this time, I’m lucky to still be employed and to work for the company that I do. For the most part they’ve gone beyond my expectations in how they’ve reacted to the news and how they’re treating us as employees. Unfortunately, most people aren’t in this position.

You have the people weren’t and may still not be taking this seriously, thinking the precautions that have taken place are stupid. They are coming up with conspiracy theories including that the virus is man made. And then there are the people who have taken this crisis to the next level, by acting out of selfishness: stocking up on supplies and food they don’t need or going out to the beach to enjoy their spring break.

So far here are my takeaways from the situation:

1) This is scary because of how rapid the spread is and how many people have died in a short amount of time and will die by the end of this. Tens of thousands of people dying from a single source is wild.

2) Many things will change when this is over such as how we interact with each other, how we keep up with personal hygiene, how grocery stores operate, and maybe even employee rights.

3) Mass groups of people in fear is terrifying. This is something I already knew but seeing it play out and seeing people react the way they have is scary to watch.

4) We crave control and sometimes the best way to have control is through denial. As long as we don’t believe something to be true, it has no power over us. In this case, we also gain control through buying out grocery stores and trying to resume our normal routines until we legally can’t anymore.

5) We also like to have choices. Not being able to go anywhere except the grocery story and work is making me, at least, feel claustrophobic. It’s not even so much that I want to go out and do things because I like my alone time and I like being home but not being able to make that choice freely is what has been getting to me.

6) It’s nice technology has developed in a way where we can play games and socialize online and through social media. We can learn about other people’s experience from hundreds of miles away.

7) Social media and reading the news online can be overwhelming. Having this type of access to other people can lead to the spread of misinformation which only creates more fear. Also, hearing about coronavirus all the time can be drowning. It is necessary to take a break and to walk away from it all.

8) This is time we can use to look into our inner world. I was talking to some friends on the phone and one of the, had said that she read somewhere, “I didn’t realize how much everything was a distraction and now I’m left without those.” This is a great time to lookg at yourself without the titles of jobs, material possessions, and other people. Work on yourself and help your mind, body, and soul grow.

I don’t think we will ever know if we’ve done too much or too little when this is over. I have heard something that was reassuring, however. That is, it is better that we overreact and say we did too much than to do little and say we didn’t do enough. That’s something I’ve been holding onto.

I hope we come out of this more appreciative of our lives and embrace what we have taken for granted. I hope we come out of this with more consideration and respect for others. Coronavirus is an event we have all collectively been impacted by. Let’s not make each other’s lives more difficult.

 

Categories
Food For Thought Self Love and Personal Growth

2020, we’re ready for you

2019 is coming to a close, which will mark the beginning of a new decade. I started the decade as a 13 year old middle schooler and I am ending it at 22 years old, with one class left in college. I, as we all, have experienced and learned so much that has impacted who I am today, and who I will be in the future. What better way to acknowledge this milestone than writing a blog post on the lessons I’ve learned from the year (and even the decade) in no particular order?

Lesson 1: Self-Love is the best love

The takeaway from this is to love yourself. Critique yourself because loving yourself is more than high self-esteem. Accept yourself because otherwise you end up diminishing yourself. Vow to improve yourself because you deserve to live the best life you can. Allow yourself to experience, grow, and change with life. Stop settling for less and allowing for what you do not deserve. Work hard to achieve your goals without overdoing it. Treat yourself with the same level of respect and love you would treat the people who are important in your life.

Lesson 2: Just Do It

 Some things are as simple as starting it. Reading one page can turn into a chapter. Doing one squat can turn into thirty. The only way to make a habit or even work towards your goals is to simply do what you can, no matter how small the first step may seem. 

Lesson 3: Change can be a good thing

I moved from California to Nevada to go to college. I was scared to move. I was nervous to get a new job and learn the ropes that came with working there. When I decided it was time for me to move on, I was unwilling to quit and find a new job even though I was no longer satisfied with what that job offered me. It seemed futile to have serious conversations with friends that I knew would lead to conflict, which tends to lead to change. I was nervous to join or try something new. My point is that change is scary. Deciding and accepting that something no longer benefits you is difficult. Going from something familiar to something unfamiliar can seem like a waste. It might make you wonder why change what is not broken. However, every change I have made in my life has improved me for the better, even if at the time it does not seem like it. You cannot grow if you stick to what you know. And if in the past year, (especially in the past ten years, you cannot say that you have changed or have made some sort of change in your life, it is time for you to self reflect and take some risks.

Lesson 4: Pick your battles and learn to walk away

Some things are worth fighting for. Some things are not. It is important to learn the difference between what is and what isn’t important in order to save yourself time and energy. Not everything you believe needs to be said out loud. Not every incorrect way of another needs to be corrected by you. Sometimes it is better to smile and keep it moving to protect your own peace.

Lesson 5: Honest communication is key

Communication is the most important lesson that I have learned. I used to be okay with getting walked  over if it meant I did not have to admit how it hurt. I used to let things go without realizing it still had an affect on my soul. I was under the impression that somehow, someone would know what I was thinking or what I felt, even if I failed to open my mouth. Communication is just as much talking as it is listening. Remember, no one knows what you don’t say. Communication can clear up misunderstandings and lead to a better understanding between both parties. Communicating the same point over and over again is redundant. If nothing changes after you communicate, then it is time to walk away from the situation. 

Lesson 6: It’s okay to be vulnerable

Being vulnerable is scary. It’s terrifying to put your thoughts and feelings out on the table without really knowing how someone else will react. Being vulnerable is eye opening. It is a way for people to validate your feelings and keep you grounded. It gives others the opportunity to see more of you, which can help others understand you. And at the end of the day, it feels good to open up and be vulnerable with others. It brings people closer together and it is a way to clear up what’s going on in your mind.

Lesson 7: Perspective matters

From my experience, the most understanding and empathetic people know how to look at a situation from different perspectives. Perspective is another reason why communication is important. Everyone has their own truth because everyone interprets things differently based on their unique background and experiences. Two people can tell you their side of an argument and be deemed correct in their own ways. Therefore, even if you have never experienced it for yourself, a situation may only make sense if you look at it outside of your worldview. 

Lesson 8: Balance all aspects in your life

Life is stressful, especially when we don’t use our time the way we would like or feel we should. If we don’t balance life’s offerings efficiently, it can feel like everything is falling apart. Balance looks different for everyone, so figuring out what a healthy balance of your activities looks like for you is vital. Do not be afraid to add more or take away from your plate. It is okay to share your plate with others, or give away what you do not like or cannot maintain to someone who is willing to accept it. Balancing naturally comes with placing priority among the different areas in your life. You get to decide what carries the most weight and is worth the most time in your life, whether its your hobbies, your family,  your friends, your career path, your love life, etc. Maintaining a healthy mind requires balancing your life. Balancing your life requires self examination.

Lesson 9: Don’t be fake positive 

It is okay to admit when things are going to shit. It is healthier to experience your emotions fully than pretend like everything is fine. Just because things are not okay now does not mean they will never be. It is okay to admit that things are hard right now, but know eventually they will get easier. Saying that you are unhappy, or that something sucks, doesn’t make you bitter, unless that is all you do. Don’t be fake positive and pretend like everything is all sunshine and rainbows when it clearly isn’t. It’s annoying.

Lesson 10: Take time to be grateful

Whether it is once a day, once a month, on holidays or special occasions, remember to take some time to appreciate what you have in your life. It can give you perspective and remind you to take a breather from the stressors of life.

 

Some other tips and lessons I have learned from the past couple of years include:

  • Journaling because writing down your thoughts can help you remember great moments and look at situations differently. It serves as a reminder to the amazing and the difficult days. Journaling is freeing.
  • Allowing yourself to feel your feelings because denying their existence does not make them go away. If anything, your emotions will just build up until the emotions are so overwhelming you explode.
  • Letting the past go because holding tightly onto it will affect your future and has the potential to hold you back.
  • Learning to say no because by being a yes man, you neglect your own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. It’s not enjoyable to do things you don’t want to do.
  • Self-reflecting is important! It can teach you about yourself, explaining why you do or react the way you do. It can help you find patterns in your actions or the actions of others. It can help you hold yourself accountable. It can help you set goals.
  • Everything happens for a reason. I am a believer in the universe and the interconnectedness of the world. Sometimes the reason for a situation occurring may not be philosophical or deep. It could simply be the result of your’s or someone else’s actions. However, most life events can teach you something about yourself, someone else, or the world if you look for it. Though it may not seem like it when you are going through it, later down the line you may be able to see why that situation occurred the way it did. You have to explore and self reflect about it though.

I enjoy symbolism and there is so much of it around the New Year, especially this year, with it being the start of a new decade. It feels like a new chapter. I used to hate New Year resolutions because I thought that they were pointless. In reality, they can help set the foundation for how you want to year to go. They can be used as benchmarks for what you want to accomplish.

Think about these past years and what you have learned, experienced, and enjoyed within them. Then, set your resolutions for the future year. This makes it easier to check in with yourself when the year is over.