Catching Up on Life, Quarantine, & Grad School

Hi! It’s been a few months since I last posted–and with good reason. I’ve been slogging through a tough semester of grad school. My first semester was fueled by what felt like a four month long adrenaline rush combined with classes that I loved: ethics, social psychology, and psychological theory. Spring semester 2020 was quite different. The adrenaline was gone,  the classes were not as fun, and my research really started to pick up. By spring break, I was just ready for the semester to end. I was in New Jersey visiting my boyfriend over the break and I was there when classes moved online through the end of March. As you already know, things quickly worsened and Spring semester moved entirely online (now Summer classes are online too).

I am so grateful to be in graduate school with a guaranteed stipend and have little to complain about, but my morale took a bit of a nosedive. In thinking about that, I’ve found myself grappling with feelings of guilt. I have so much privilege during this time. I am healthy. I can afford to stock up on groceries. I have access to healthcare. I have space to self-isolate. I can wear a mask in public and not feel afraid. I don’t have to worry about hate crimes being committed against me. The list goes on and on. I have so much to be grateful for, but that does not mean that I can’t be sad, disappointed, or angry about what we are experiencing. I’ve been struggling between those two all-or-nothing mentalities. I find myself feeling guilty when I complain that I can’t go to the gym because I remember that others can’t even feel safe right now. This is when I try to practice self-compassion; while my problems are small, they are still real and valid to me right now. I try to remain gentle with myself while also expressing gratitude for what I have. I also make a a point to do what I can do to make a difference, whether that’s writing a loved one a letter, donating blood, or sending an old friend a text to check in.

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Moving my rambling to a broader level, I’ve been thinking about how COVID-19 is changing our country’s narrative. This pandemic is exposing so many disparities in our country. While other regional or local events have exposed disparities in different ways (e.g. the Flint water crisis), the broad nation-wide effects of the pandemic are almost impossible to ignore. As someone who is dedicated to research focused on health disparities, this national wake-up call is both inspiring and horrifying. Inspiring in that health disparities are making national headlines and are a topic of conversation. Horrifying in that it took a national pandemic to get us to a place where we can recognize the injustice that has been occurring throughout U.S. history.

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In making sense of the past six weeks, I’ve reached two conclusions: 1) Everyone has their own set of problems; take on new perspectives and stay compassionate. 2) Caring about health disparities cannot be a passing trend due to the coronavirus; it was a problem before and it will be a problem after. We have serious work to do.

Thank you for letting me stand on my soap box and ramble about my own thoughts and what I care about most.

 

Ted Talk Friday: The Power of Mindfulness

Happy New Year! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to live more mindfully, which is something I struggle with. Dr. Shauna Shapiro is a speaker, author and Professor of Psychology at Santa Clara University who makes mindfulness incredibly accessible. As I’m trying to incorporate mindfulness into my life more regularly, I have found videos like this to be particularly helpful. I hope you enjoy!

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Did you learn something new about mindfulness from Dr. Shapiro?

Ted Talk Friday: Don’t try to be mindful

Long time, no see! Sorry for the weeks of quiet (again). I have been living life and working hard in grad school, which has been so wonderful. I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to learn for a living for the next 5 years! In one of my courses, the professor assigned us this Ted Talk on mindfulness. Surprisingly, I had not seen this one yet, but I absolutely loved it! It might be my favorite mindfulness-focused Ted Talk to date.

I hope you enjoy this talk as much as I did!

Catching Up: Big Changes, Kittens, & Growth

I’ve missed blogging so much over the past few months! I had not realized how much joy, reflection, and connection it brought my until I stopped writing. These past few months have flown by. I moved away from the Bay Area to Louisville, KY to begin a PhD program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Louisville. I transitioned from being with my partner all the time to making it work long-distance (plus a three hour time difference). I’ve started building a new community virtually from scratch (again). I also spent a few weeks fostering some ADORABLE kittens to help me feel a little less lonely…

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The kittens were certainly a handful, but they brought me so much joy! 🙂

All of these changes have been challenging, but I’m surprised by how well I’m doing. I’m an anxious, change-averse person by nature, so I was expecting the first few months in Louisville to be an emotional rollercoaster of stressors. Shockingly enough, I’ve taken most challenges in stride and feel unexpectedly calm and well-balanced. During my four years in college, I was overcommitted, overworked, and overstressed. I chose that lifestyle and it took me all four years to understand the powerful toll it took on my mental and physical health. I was so burnt out by the time I graduated.

I learned a lot about letting go and cutting myself slack during my time in the business world. I worked interdependently and oftentimes I had to let go of issues of problems that arose because they were simply out of my control. Working at startups, I also learned that there is always more that can be done, but that should not mean it should be done. The most helpful piece of advice I received from my first boss (a female CEO and mother to a newborn at the time) was, “why do today what you can do tomorrow.” I remember how strange this sounded to me at the time, but I quickly started to see the wisdom. There is always so much to do, but we also have to decide when to let ourselves take a break and enjoy life a little bit. Even if you absolutely love everything about what you do, we all need time to unwind or do something a little different.

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While my PhD program will certainly be more demanding than undergrad or my past jobs, I can also be more demanding of myself to set boundaries, know my limits, and learn when to say no. Sadly, I’ve said no to writing on this blog for the past few months. I’ve devoted more of my time to reading journal articles, meeting new friends, and FaceTiming with my boyfriend.

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That’s what I’ve needed these past few months and it is more than ok. I am excited to get back into writing here! I have a few new recipes to share, some Ted Talks to post about, and many more ideas to explore with you.

Thanks for sticking around!

Ted Talk Friday: The secret language of trees

My mom send me an article from brainpickings that featured this cool Ted Talk. It’s easy to get caught up in life and forget about the magic that is happening around us in nature. I loved this short Ted Talk that describes that hidden, and highly intricate, world of trees. I hope this talk gives you the chance to take a moment and appreciate the complexity of Mother Nature.

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Did you know about the hidden communication network that trees have?

Ted Talk Friday: The Hidden Network That Makes the Internet Possible

Working in tech, I feel there is so much I don’t know about basic technology. I was talking with my coworker about a major internet gateway in New York and I suddenly realized that I did not realize that there were gateways like this. I immediately wanted to learn more to understand how these gateways work; of course, there’s a ted talk for that! I hope you enjoy and learn something new.

 

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Did you know about this hidden network? Did you learn something new with this talk?