This month I've been running a free Self Care group on Facebook.
Before I continue, please leave what you think you know about self-care at the door... or the last tab you opened.
What I've been building in my group is a way for people to look back at happy, peaceful times of their lives, and re-create the emotional connection to those times... giving them a tiny island in the sea of Today where they can reflect inwardly on what emotional connections they are making, and attempt to get back to a place of peace.
We started with a notebook.
Then we started filling the notebook... write three good things about your favorite person. Write three good things that your favorite person sees in you. Find something beautiful on a Tuesday. Imagine Wednesday as the peak of your mountain... what do you intend to accomplish today? Write a Valentine to yourself. What have you been putting off that you know you really need to do?
Self care is more then just candles and bath bombs. It's about figuring out what you need to make you feel whole, and getting past the shame of "taking time away from life" to live life.
Crazy, right? Why wouldn't you make time for something that makes you feel human?
But we all do it. Every day. We make excuses to live the life we are told to live, rather then live a life we want to live. That can be something as tiny as: "I don't have time to write that poem that I've been thinking about because I have to spend time with my friends." to something as big as "I can't quit my stable job... not in this economy!"
(This is not an endorsement for everyone to quit their jobs, but if you come home after a long day in tears, you might want to consider an alternative.)
In this month's current focus, I have all the books that I've been using for myself and the self care group to shift our thinking away from the cultural/societal norms, and get to the "truth"... that truth being whatever is right for you that doesn't harm anyone else, or yourself. Jen Sincero's "You Are A Badass" I have downloaded as an audio book to my phone, and I listen to it every morning during my one hour commute so that I continue building my own business on my lunch break (which I have been chronicling on my Instagram account, #bossladylunch).
My business is my self care.
My writing is my self care.
Exercising is my self care.
Occasionally, a bath bomb happens too.
So, how are you putting off life in order to live?
Monetization is an ugly word. It is also a necessary word.
You monetize your skills and knowledge, and that's your job. With your paycheck you can buy food, clothes, and PlayStations. That allows you to live comfortably. So the math goes like this:
Skills + Knowledge = Money = Food + Clothes + PlayStations
We have all been conditioned to believe that Money is the limiting factor in this equation. But how is that possible? Money is alone on the board. It's just an exchange medium. However, this is what 99% of the world believes.
That's where deals come into play. People like to feel that they have gotten a better value for what they have paid. It does not matter if this is true or not. All that matters if that the recipient feels that they have gotten the "better end" of the deal.
This is how Donald Trump has made all his money. In his book, "The Art of the Deal", he gives eleven rules/guidelines for creating deals:
None of these are bad ideas for doing business. Issues arise when you don't follow through. As someone who grew up outside Atlantic City and personally saw Trump break some of his own rules when dealing with the Trump Taj Mahal casino; I have a general distaste for the man. Nevertheless, he is the President. Which brings me to why I've update my website, my blog, and talked at length about business deals.
If you navigated to this blog through my main site, then you've noticed I've added a new section: Current Focus.
I have signed up for an Amazon Associate account, which means that if you click or buy any of the products that I "sponsor" I get a few cents thrown my way, and you don't pay more then they already low Amazon price. What a deal!
Each month I'm going to sponsor a few products that focus on a central theme. This month's theme is President Trump. All the books I sponsored** I can guarantee that Donald Trump has not read, but all the billionaires in his cabinet have. These are books that I truly believe will be relevant to your personal success during the Donald Trump Administration. The Art of War by Sun Zhu is one that I come back to constantly because it reiterates the importance of knowing your opponent, and placing yourself if the best position to benefit from or defeat them.
Monetization is an ugly word, and a necessary one. I am monetizing my knowledge in the hope that you, the reader, feel my information, advice, and opinion is worth checking out my recommendations. As always, I am here to discuss, converse, and answer any questions to the best of my ability. Here's to personal success in the next four years, despite anyone trying to keep you down.
* There are a few stories that popped up during the campaign time pointing to questionable business practices on Donald Trump's end. My brother (owner of the Black Hat Bakery in Portland, OR) has a personal connection to one of the independent contractors who got "stiffed" and can verify that the accounts are correct.
**You might be wondering why I didn't list Trump's Art of the Deal on my list. The short answer? I don't feel like giving a billionaire more money when the meat and potatoes of the book has already been written out, and said billionaire wants to do away with my beloved CPB, NPR, and NEA. Please feel free to borrow it from your local library.
Today is the last day of the President Obama Administration. Tomorrow Donald Trump takes an oath to serve our country to the best of his ability. I hope, with every fiber of my being, that every impression I have of him, from his business acumen in my hometown of Atlantic City to everything I've seen and read from all over the media spectrum during this election, is misconstrued. Because regardless of who I voted for, tomorrow he will become my president.
This is the cornerstone of democracy. What we don't like, we have the capacity to change.
What are the roadblocks we will face? The same roadblocks:
Pop your bubble and live your life differently. That's how change happens.
Have you ever walked through a door into a new area and completely forgotten why you wanted to go there in the first place? You've chalked it up to not-enough-coffee or too-much-coffee or age or "senior moment" or senility. The fact is that there is a reason your memory dumps you like that. This article from Scientific American talks about a study done where researchers propose that "event models" in your memory are purged when entering a new area (such as walking through a door). Think of event models as surprise To-Dos. Short term actions to remember because you hadn't planned for them. Example: on your way home, you are told to pick up milk. You finish the drive home, enter your house, open the fridge, and remember that you forgot to get milk.
Why does everyone wait until New Years to start making life changes? Because it's a significant date. It's an easy place to purge your old self and start on your new "life model". You want to lose weight? January 1st you'll start that diet/exercise plan. You want to be a writer? January 1st, you'll write 30 minutes every day. New years, new life, new you... it's a great and natural marketing opportunity. Gym memberships soar in January.
Here's the thing: you can make any non-normal instance a "life model" purge.
Three years ago I changed my life around because I refused to use a CPAP machine in March.
Two years ago I changed my life again because I got engaged in February.
Last year my life changed in May, August, and September. Whirlwind year, and going to be hard to top.
My point is: if you've made a resolution for New Years, I hope you stick with it. Like I said in You Can Kaizen, it's all about small sustainable changes.
If you made a resolution for New Years and you fail, then I hope you find another event that kick-starts that life model purge.
Most importantly, I hope you don't give up entirely and just wait for another New Year to roll around. The book I linked above has 365 ways you can make each day a little "non-normal". Every day try to get back to what you really wanted on January 1st. You don't need the calendar to tell you when to change.
I had a wonderful holiday, and I hope you all did as well. And if it wasn't wonderful, I hope it was as good as it could be given whatever circumstances you were facing.
I'm not sure how to start this blog post, so I'm going to start by saying that my husband got me South Park's The Stick of Truth (TSOT) video game for Christmas. I was playing it today, and was having so much fun that I played for five hours without realizing it (I'm now a Level 4 Jew! That's more Jew then I am in real life).
Why do I bring this up? Because I realized that playing the Stick of Truth was a huge lesson in budgeting for the holidays next year.
Bear with me...
If you've ever played TSOT, or any Role Playing Game (RPG) for that matter, you know that as you adventure you find a lot of Junk. It's everywhere. Every time you explore a new area or you defeat an enemy you get some "good stuff" and a lot of "Junk". Most people forget about the Junk and just go for the good stuff. However, if you are a low level character, or just starting out, that Junk could make the difference.
Because you can sell the Junk for money.
It's not a lot of money, but it's some. And if you sell enough Junk you can afford better armor, better weapons, or train new skills.
I played TSOT for five hours, and made over $100 in In-Game money just buy selling Junk at five cents a pop.
See where I am going with this?
Imagine every day you take the change out of your pocket and put in into a jar. At the end of a month you take that jar to the bank and cash it in. It might not be much. It might be only $20... but after 10 months, that's $200. That's a gift budget.
The problem with this is... you need to use cash. It's way easier and more secure to use a card.
I've got you there.
Imagine you use one credit card to pay for everything. Something like the Amazon Visa or the American Express Blue that gives you points for every dollar you use. And let's say you pay that card off every month so you're not paying those fees.
And let's say Christmas comes around and it's time to buy gifts and you have no money because you don't have a job and your savings in dwindling, and you can't bring yourself to dip into it for the sake of a few gifts... and you look and see that you have points towards purchases on Amazon. $250 worth of points on Amazon.
It's hard to see those gains one pocketful of change or one month of card purchases at a time, but over time it adds up. If RPGs tell you anything, it's that the Junk adds up.
The time to start building that budget for Christmas is right now, while you still have 360 days to save.
So, here's my challenge to anyone who says that they never have money for holiday presents:
To anyone who reads this, who remembers Diaryland? How about LiveJournal?
I've been blogging for the past 16 years. It's not easy, especially when you're not a teenager anymore. As you get older, you realize that your views are small in comparison to the rest of the world. You are this tiny speck in a world of eight billion. You get a job. You become your employee ID number. You get paid, you get benefits, and if you are lucky you find a really cool person to spend a whole lot of time with, and you forget that at one time, you were the most important person in the world.
In my previous job, I enjoyed helping people relive that feeling. I would focus all my energy on them, their needs, and their life story. Yes, I was paid to do it... as are all retail employees. But the reward comes from doing the job well, and getting that spark of connection from a complete stranger.
I left that job because although the customer service side was rewarding, I was not advancing. I had not moved from the same position for three years, I wasn't learning anything new, and I was becoming stagnant, boring, and bored.
So I did a really stupid thing and left a good job to pursue a dream of doing what I love: freelancing, consulting, and writing. Helping people start on their own dreams, making those connections, growing as a person and citizen of the world.
The first two weeks were great.
The first month was really productive.
The second month was completely dead.
Now I'm about to enter month three. I've been applying for real jobs through the various channels: LinkedIn, Career Sites, Temp Agencies... I've even applied to become a freelancer for TaskRabbit.
So far, nothing. I had one interview which turned into a consultation, but nothing else. The horrible thing is that I keep blaming myself.
"What am I not doing?"
"What skills don't I have?"
"What's wrong with me?"
It's exactly like online dating.
You message an interesting person. You hear nothing back. You move on... until it becomes the 30th or 50th or 100th person. Then you start wondering if maybe it's you. You pick apart your entire life, try to fix every little thing, and fail because it's really not you.
Eventually, you find self-acceptance. Then you find that one cool person to spend a whole lot of time with.
Like online dating, I will keep at it until I find the one cool job to spend the next decade of my life with. It's worked before!
So, why this blog? Despite my confidence in my intelligence, my skills, and my future as an exceptional citizen of the world; when things don't go the way I'd planned I get down on myself. I get stressed, I get frustrated, and I forget that it's not me. My fitness blog holds me accountable to my health, this blog is going to hold me accountable to the life I want to live.
I am the most important person in my life, because I am the one who decides whether or not I achieve the life I want.
Stephanie Cansian is a rebelliously positive Central Jersey citizen with her husband and their dog.