Ted Talk Friday: “The Last Serenade”

If you’re like me, you need a moment to pause and think on a Friday morning. I get so caught up in the week’s events and anticipation of the weekend, that I forget to take a moment to be present. I played violin for five years growing up and it left me with a deep appreciation for beautiful violin pieces, and this is certainly a stunning performance. I hope you enjoy this short video and take a moment to re-center yourself this Friday.

 

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What’s your favorite instrument? Do Fridays feel rushed to you too?

A Weekend in Portland: Sweat, Sunshine, and Good Eats

I had to go to Portland for work so I decided to turn it into a weekend getaway! I caught an early 7AM flight Thursday morning and made it to Portland by 9AM just in time to start a beautiful and strangely warm October day. My work visit started off with a minor injury. *warning: bloody foot photo below*

Luckily it looks worse than it was and after my onsite event ended, I walked over to a nearby Whole Foods and tucked into hot bar takeaway while working through the afternoon. I had a frustrating evening sorting through finding a rental car, but luckily I have patient people in my life to help me out! I spent Friday working from my Airbnb and picked up my rental car that evening before exploring the neighborhoods around Beaverton.

I spent my night relaxing in bed with a cup of hot tea writing and went to sleep early…and I slept for 11 hours! The next day I woke up and hit the road to see Columbia River Gorge. I was bummed when the parking lots for Multnomah Falls were full, but I just kept on driving. I ended up pulling over to talk to a park ranger and picked a trail he recommended. The trail wasn’t the most peaceful since it ran parallel to the highway, but it offered some amazing views of the Columbia river and the surrounding mountains.

I started to head back toward Portland and luckily the parking lot for Multnomah Falls had empty spots! I pulled in and ventured over to the falls. It was stunning, but definitely overrun with tourists.

I hit the road again and headed to Flex and Flow, the yoga studio where Sweatpink (an amazing community of female bloggers) began! Visiting the studio was a must-do item on my Portland bucket list. I made it in time for a 3pm Power Vinyasa class with Nic–a lovely lady I’ve known via email for years now! Meeting her in person was surreal and her class absolutely kicked my butt (especially after hitting the trails that morning).

After yoga I met up with an old friend I’ve known since I was five years old. I hadn’t spoken with her in maybe four years, but catching up brought me so much joy. Plus, she has incredible taste in food and brought me to the best place for ramen in Portland: Afuri.

We started with the seasonal Butternut Squash plate with chili hazelnut miso, mustard greens, and hazelnut:

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I ordered the Truffle Miso: miso tare, mushroom tomato broth, wild mushroom, beansprout, Chinese chive, and truffle oil.

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That evening I wandered around the Pearl District and went to Powell’s bookstore–the store takes up an entire city block!! While I loved it, I have to say it was a bit too overwhelming for me. I slept like a baby Saturday night and woke up ready for a day of adventures on Sunday. I started my day in Washington Park and ended up wandering around for over two hours around the trails–I ended at the Rose Garden, which was magnificent.

So many roses in full bloom with unusually warm weather and plenty of sunshine.

Somehow I managed to find my car again and drove to the Oregon Historical Society Museum. I am a history nerd through and through–some of my favorite topics include history related to the Titanic and the Oregon Trail. I still vividly remember a unit on the Oregon trail from third grade; I wrote a diary from the perspective of a young girl (named Lucy Kitty Smith) on the trail and filled 60 pages with her thoughts and experiences on the trail. I hoped the museum would include more about the trail, but there wasn’t too much there. I ended the day in the Alberta Arts District walking down streets full of cute shops, thrift stores, and art galleries. I wandered around until it was time to head to the airport.

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Have you been to Portland? What would your favorite part of the trip be?

Ted Talk Friday: A new way to fund health care for the most vulnerable

This talk was deeply moving; Dr. Bastawrous tells his story beautifully. His scalable solution is a simple answer to the typical funding structure we see in most healthcare non-profit services. He describes a plan for changing the healthcare funding landscape, and how those changes lead not only to better health, but also to increased ROI. I think my favorite line was, “I felt like a chocolate chip in rice pudding.”


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Have you ever looked at healthcare in this light? Would you invest in healthcare like this?

Coping with Loss: One Year Out

It’s been a little over a year since a dear friend of mine passed away. While certain songs still bring him to my mind, like any song by Jurassic 5 or Biggie Smalls–some of his favorites, they make me smile more often than they make me cry. I’ve been thinking a lot about this difficult period in my life and what it means to me a year later. Studies show that how we cope with difficult events helps us make meaning and come out a little wiser on the other side. We need social support to make that happen.

I’m so grateful for the many shoulders I’ve had to cry on, the friends who have listened to my stories, and the loved ones who’ve checked in on me. I’ve also found amazing community through sharing my grief on social media; over 30% of young adults know someone who has died of an overdose. That is a large portion of the population, and sharing our stories is one way to cope with our losses.

I was lucky that his parents and the Nashville community spoke so openly about his death. My friend had suffered with different addictions for years. I remember a call from him a few years ago and hearing fear in his voice. He asked me to hold him accountable, and I did. He went to rehab a few months later, spent more time with his family, graduated from college and had a job that let him be outdoors. I remember meeting up with him and his dad about six months before his passing; I went to one of his father’s graduate school lectures with my friend for fun. We reminisced and he told me some of his stories that inevitably cracked me up. He had a wonderful sense of humor, kindness, and genuine friendliness about him from the first day we met that always struck me.

We texted in the few weeks before his death; he seemed to be doing well and I told him I wanted to visit him in Colorado and finally learn to ski. Skiing was one of his many beloved outdoor hobbies. There was no hint that he was not ok, no signs that I detected. That is one of the scariest parts of addiction–it is an ongoing battle. As friends and supporters, we can only do so much. Addiction is not a choice we can prevent, but rather a disease well beyond the control of friends and family.

His death has prompted me to look deeply at the way I live my life. He was always carefree, calm, and in awe of nature. I’ve taken some amazing trips, hiked new trails, and taken chances with new challenges.  I’ve also started prioritizing my social ties–staying connected to those who matter most with phone calls, letters, and visits. Research shows that our social network actually heals after the loss of a friend. Friends are pulled closer together following a loss–helping to heal both the group and the individual.

While it will never be easy, I am starting to feel that it is getting easier.

Ted Talk Friday: Emotional laws are the answer for better relationships

There are so many valuable lessons in this Ted Talk. My favorite point was about how we often view the action of others and how they treat us in relation to ourselves–in reality, it’s a self-sabotaging form of self-centeredness. We assume everyone is interacting with us in isolation, we forget that much of what they say and how they treat us is a reflection of themselves and their own internal issues. This is a freeing rule that allows us to offer grace to those who treat us poorly, and protect ourselves from negativity.

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What was your biggest takeaway?

Ted Talk Friday: How to train employees to have difficult conversations

This is one of the most engaging talks I’ve seen about data in a long time! The speaker, Tamekia MizLadi Smith, does a fantastic job breaking down the issues that come with the extensive data collection in our lives. This talk reminded me of my work at a non-profit in Detroit, MI. I spent days passing out surveys and speaking with members of the community. That survey included a number of personal questions, and as soon as I explained the purpose of the survey and how it might be valuable to them, there was typically a tone shift from negative to positive. We all deserve clarity and compassion when we are giving up our data, whether we have to or if we are volunteering that data.

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Did you find this talk entertaining? Have you had any negative experiences with data collection?

Rolling with the Punches (+ Rolling Down Hills)

Last weekend I took a tumble while hiking on one of my favorite Bay Area trails (Gray Whale Cove Trail in Pacifica). It was a beautiful day and a lovely hike–moderately sunny, light wind, lookouts on to the gorgeous Pacific. As we neared the end of the hike, I tried to go a bit faster going downhill and completely wiped out, landing on my knee.

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At first it felt totally fine and as I got up and walked a few steps, I looked down and noticed the whole knee of my leggings was ripped off and my knee was bleeding quite a bit. Hobbling the rest of the mile, I was pretty mad at myself. My friend was supportive and didn’t make a big deal of it, and that made me stop and re-think the incident. This is a good lesson on people; choose to spend time with people who show compassion and support during times like this!

Could I have done something different? Sure! Does it matter now? Nope! I fell and that’s that; all I can do now is be gentle with myself, body and mind, and let it heal. I always joke that I hardly ever get injured, and it certainly came back to bite me this time.

I almost went to the ER because the abrasion was full of debris with a few deep wounds, but luckily I was able to wait until the next day  to go to the doctor to get it checked out. I got a tetanus shot and a thorough cleaning of all my cuts and scrapes. I am incredibly lucky that there was no real damage–no breaks, sprains, or anything that will cause long-term problems. Pretty miraculous all things considered! I was super bummed that I couldn’t work out for a while my knee heals, but I’ve been trying to take it easy and give my body a respite from working out. I think my body has thanked me for it–it’s been a little more relaxing and it’s given me a few extra hours of sleep.

Five days post-fall and I’m still hobbling a bit while I walk, but I’ve been able to get into the gym a bit for some light exercise–focusing on upping my arm workouts and a few ab intervals. I have been taking it easy overall–giving myself a bit more permission to be “lazy,” take it easy, and feel gratitude for my normally healthy body.

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When was the last time you took a hard fall? How do you cope with an injury?

 

Ted Talk Friday: Why 30 is not the new 20

I have heard amazing things about Meg Jay’s book The Defining Decade–nearly all of my friends have read it and have brought it up to me. Needless to say, it has been added to my never-ending reading list! This Ted Talk is a great inside look into the philosophy that guides her book, and guides her approach to living well in your twenties. This talk certainly led to me think more deeply about the way I am living now in my early twenties.

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Do you agree with Jay’s approach? How do you view your twenties?

Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism

I’m a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist. In hindsight, for the first twenty-something years of my life I tortured myself striving for perfection that couldn’t exist; 4.0 GPA, leadership positions in too many clubs, staying in touch with endless people. If I was late to a meeting by five minutes or got an A- on a paper, I was so angry and frustrated with myself. I’d spend so much time thinking about what I should’ve done differently.

I should’ve left ten minutes earlier.

I should have phrased this sentence differently.

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All the “should haves” and wasted energy I poured into my mistakes was exhausting, unproductive, and self-destructive. In the past year and a half, I’ve been working harder to shake this negative self-talk and deeply entrenched perfectionism. I have respect for all perfectionism has allowed me to achieve–a wonderful education, strong friendships, a solid work ethic–but I have also learned a few tools that allow me to ditch the downsides of perfectionism:

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who actually cares? Probably NO ONE, but if someone does care they likely do not know you well and might not be the type of person you want to value in your life.
  2. Will this matter in five years? Most likely not. Think about small mistakes you made five years ago–do they impact your life today?
  3. What am I losing? You’re probably only losing out on time you spent feeling regretful, upset, or disappointed.

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Do these things:

  1. Give yourself a hug, maybe even a small kiss on the shoulder–practice self-compassion.
  2. Treat yourself like a friend. If your best friend made this mistake, say to yourself what you might say to them
  3. Distract yourself: watch a quick show, ted talk, or call a friend.
  4. Focus on the positive: sure, one thing in your day went wrong. Now, focus on what went right.

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In school mistakes might mean a less than perfect grade and in the professional world, it might mean a frustrated client or a mistake in a presentation. Whatever it is, it’s likely not life-threatening and often we are the ones who suffer most. If you’re anything like me, I highly recommend trying out some of these tips and learning how you can change your perception of perfection.

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Are you a perfectionist? Do you use any of these strategies?