Returning from busy/sick/self-actualization leave

Returning from busy/sick/self-actualization leave

It has been a while since I wrote a post here, except for the most recent Make an Appointment with Yourself post, which I posted on the spur of the moment because it sparked some motivation within me–motivation that I thought I’d share.

Reasons for my long absence:

  1. Feelings of being overwhelmed
  2. Collecting the small wins
  3. Experiencing small defeats internally and externally

I could rant about all the things I was busy with and all the small wins/defeats I have experienced since then, but I won’t. Because I think long absence posts should bring ideas, thought-provoking inspiration, and smiles instead of a long-winded and well-concealed excuse. So, there are no excuses. I didn’t write when I definitely could have. But here’s what I have to bring to the table.


 

When I was young, and in high school. I thought that life was supposed to unwind in this order:

  1. Graduate from high school and get as many scholarships as possible.
  2. Enter university.
  3. Study for 4 years.
  4. Graduate from university.
  5. (Magically) Get a nice-paying job.
  6. Work until retirement.
  7. Live for the rest of my old years in comfort and financial security.

Needless to say, I have strayed off this path. In my 4th year, I decided to partake in an internship program that would provide me with a year of full-time work and experience. I understood that this would push back my graduation by a year–that I would graduate a year later than my peers. Eventually, I stopped perceiving this as a drawback, though. As it is now, I recently applied for yet another 1-year-term job. This will mean I graduate yet another year later. It doesn’t bother me though because I know that graduating on time is not the important thing. It is a small portion of what is truly important–developing yourself in general.

Recently, I came down with a nasty cough, one that I am currently nearing complete recovery. I still feel fatigued and had to miss two days of work because my coughing fits during the night resulted in nights of 3-hour sleeps. I thought of something I couldn’t really figure out. I know that some unions provide full-time employees with 1-2 sick days a month that they can bank so that they get paid sick leave when they need it. I also know that it is not required for employers to provide this paid sick leave in North America because the company loses money and there will be people who take advantage of it (ex. use sick days to take extra vacation; go party and call in sick the next day). I can see some of the logic here, but I think that only applies to employees of low financial need and/or employees who are not subjected to thorough performance evaluations (ie. high-performing employees are less likely to take advantage of the system and even if they do, they are such a big benefit to the company that the 1-2 days of sick leave a month do not hinder that particular employee’s contributions to the company). For employees that earn just enough to survive paycheck to paycheck and maybe save a couple hundred dollars a month, the thought of taking unpaid sick leave (even when extremely sick) is a deterrent, because it means that they’ll either not make enough the next month to cover expenses, or they will have to pick up extra shifts in the same pay period (it is likely that during this time, they will still be sick); thus experiencing longer recovery times and higher chances of transmission (if contagious) to other employees. These people are at a major disadvantage because, if they are sick and decide to take time off work, they end up stressing even more about their financial situation in the near future. People do get sick, and while people tout the importance of taking care of one’s health so that these illnesses do not happen, these illness will still be contracted. By claiming the importance of health but making time off for recovery seem like an undesirable option to people who need the money doesn’t seem like it benefits either parties… I think many people are starting to develop a growing bitterness to blue/white collar jobs because of this, and develop a growing desire for autonomy and the ability to become their own boss someday.


 

Leaving on a more inspirational note, here is a summary of an article by Observer.com called “12 Powerful Habits I Have Stolen From Ultra-Successful People“. In the next month or so, I hope to implement a few of these!!

1) Waking up early – because, I can’t count the number of times I have slept in, gone to work, and had thoughts about all the other things I have to do–when I should have been focusing on the work at hand. I want to make this a habit.

2) Making lists – Thankfully, I already do this. The article says that by writing lists, you convince your brain that the list items are the only things that need your attention and focus. Therefore, divvying up your brain power more productively.

3) Habit Stacking – You could also call this “Habit Linking” in my opinion, because that’s what you are doing. Rather than making 2 separate habits of, for example, “Wake up early” and “stretch for 15 minutes,” have two LINKED habits of “Wake up early” and “After waking up early, stretch for 15 minutes.” This seems like a very useful brain hack because you are piggybacking off of a preexisting habit! Less work for your brain!

4) Stretching – because sitting for long periods of time is EXTREMELY bad for you (I need to work on that). I guess in order to make it more easier for me to implement, I can set a reminder every 15 or so minutes to get up and stretch for a minute. Be right back…

5) Listening to podcasts – I like to call this learning on-the-go, or learning while cooking, etc. For someone, that may be listening to entrepreneur tips, interviews with famous people, or discussions about the world cultures. For me, this would be learning Mandarin!

6) Meditation – calm down all the marbles rolling around in your head; make them wait their turn. 😉

7) Reading – Straightforward tip; like listening to podcasts, except for the fact that you have to hold a book/tablet/e-reader.

8) Writing – Straightforward

9) Defining the Most Important Task – Make a list, choose 1-2 things on that list that you absolutely must get done. Get them done. Feel the success!

10) Doing the affirmations – Everyone knows the saying, “You are your own worst critic.” But by doing affirmations, you are working towards being your own best friend, your supporter, and your cheerleader. 🙂

11) Visualization – If you can envision where you’d like to be or what you like to see happen in your future, you are more likely to take the steps necessary to get there!

12) Exercise – Straightforward


 

For the month of April, I will work hard to incorporate exercise, meditation, stretching, listening to podcasts, writing, and waking up earlier. In fact, why don’t I do some habit-stacking here.

Starting tomorrow I will wake up progressively earlier until April, then I stack some habits together when I have a good-sized chunk of time in the mornings before work to:

  1. Do a 10-15 minutes workout
  2. Stretch after the workout
  3. Phase out of stretching into meditation
  4. And do a little bit of rough writing in the mornings.

Should this be successful, you will be seeing a lot more posts in the month of April and beyond. I will keep track of my progress on this page.

I hope you learned something new and are inspired to incorporate some of these super-habits into your life as well!

-Tiffany 😀

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When there is not enough self-love

When there is not enough self-love

Write about what you did last weekend as though you’re a music critic reviewing a new album (or single).


 

Male host: We are here now to review the new single released by Tiffany, just last week.

Female host: Ah yes! It’s been a while. I wonder what this one is like!

M: Why don’t we listen to it together?

(Song plays)

… wondering if I am making the right choice…
… when that one knows how to hurt more than that one knows how to care…
… what is respect? What is trust? One thing is for sure…
… by suffering needlessly, I am only disrespecting–myself.

(Song ends)

F: …

M: Well, the mood was… certainly… dark.

F: I agree. I think we can all relate to these feelings though.

M: What do you mean?

F: Well, when someone you care about lies to you? Or purposely hurts you for whatever reason? Like out of revenge?

M: I see where you are coming from. Reminds me of a time I ran away from home to try to get back at my dad for grounding me. I got a good whooping after, but I know that they were worried about me first and foremost.

F: Haha, thank you for sharing the story, but let’s get back on track. With regards to the mood of this song, I’d say that it is very comtemplative.

M: Maybe… also, the struggle when finding out that you didn’t love yourself as much as you should have?

F: Where did that come from? That was rather deep…

M: Let’s just say that I know what it is like to cling onto an unhealthy love because I didn’t know how to love myself first and foremost.

F: Wow, if you wouldn’t mind, how about we go for supper after and talk about this further? You seem to have a lot of wisdom!

M: Hah! Sure, why not! So, now we end off with the final verdict. What we have here is a slow and melancholy ballad. It is a very relatable one too, we believe, because it brings to light a question that I’m sure many of us ask ourselves with regards to different aspects of life. That question is, “How much suffering can I voluntarily let myself go through before I start hurting myself?”

F: Yes! With that, we will end off our Music Reviewcast. I’m F.

M: And I’m M. We hope you have a great day and take it easy on yourselves!


 

Daily post’s daily prompt: B+

What is mainstream music?

What is mainstream music?

Adolescence is filled with embarrassing moments and small misfortunes… Here is the story of a young girl who didn’t do her research.


 

I was in grade 7 and in drama class. If I calculate the year that it was, it would be 2006. This was the time of American boy bands, if I remember correctly. Everyone was sitting around in a circle–we were doing a type of ice-breaker.

For some background, at this age, I was just starting to use the internet. My only mainstream music knowledge, was of the songs I heard in the car on our road trips to a nearby city for groceries. Other than that, I had no other exposure to hit music. HOWEVER, I did play the piano. Does that count? Anyways…

We are back in the circle formation and had just finished going around the circle introducing ourselves. The drama teacher then proceeded to say this: “We’re going to go around the circle again. This time, I want you to tell us a song that you like.”

Uh-oh (Back then, I was oblivious to the embarrassing moment to come).

We started going around the circle again. This time, names of songs popular in the day started to come out.

“Boulevard of Broken Dreams”

“American Idiot”

“Shut Up!”

“Since U Been Gone”

“Teardrops on my Guitar” 

As the bomb slowly rolled closer and closer to me, I became more and more aware of how little I knew about mainstream music.

Finally, as much as I dreaded it, it was my turn.

I was faced with two decisions now; copy someone else’s song idea and pretend that I knew what song it was, or tell the truth. Do you want to know which choice I picked?

Here was my response…

.

.

.

.

.

Me: “The Pipe Aria.”

Class: (silence)

Me: “…. by Bach.”

Class: (more silence)

You could hear a pin drop… it was that silent. Okay, maybe not. The floor was carpet.

Needless to say, that experience was mortifying. Just like any other kid who wants to redeem back their “coolness”, I proceeded to research as many hit songs as I could after school and even learned to sing some of them.

Ah, childhood. Can’t be beat.

Hope you found my misfortune amusing, haha! Feel free to share any embarrassing childhood stories you have. I’d be thrilled to read them! 😀

-Tiffany

PS – For anyone interested in listening to this “The Pipe Aria”, here it is.


Daily post’s daily prompt: Unpopular

 

Addictive Personality

Addictive Personality

No, this is not a personality type that other people find addicting to be around.

It means that I get addicted easily. I’d like to say that I used to have this condition, but it might still be present–manifested in a different, less apparent, addiction.


 

When I was in my teens, I was an avid gamer. Late at night, when everyone was asleep, I would play video games until late into the night, making sure to cover up my gaming console with my blanket whenever someone got up to use the washroom… then taking it back out again to play some more until I was too sleepy to continue.


 

When I graduated from highschool and entered university, I moved out. There was a lot of freedom. I entered a stage where I got really into K-Pop and K-dramas. Whenever I started a series, I would binge watch it until I was done, because I didn’t have the self-discipline to refuse the charms of a cliffhanger episode ending. I remember I started a series during finals’ week. I got addicted to it and spent at least 4x the amount of time I spent studying, to watch the show. I would watch late into the night, justifying myself with:

  • “I just have to find out what happens, or else it’ll bother me when I’m studying… and that wouldn’t be good.”
  • “I’ll just wake up early tomorrow and start studying.”
  • “It’s okay, I’m good at cram-studying. Anyways, I generally get high marks whenever I do cram.”
  • “The faster I finish this series, the more time I can have completely dedicated to studying.”

 

 

Today, my addictive personality is not that obvious. Sometimes, I’m not even sure if it still exists inside me. I gave up gaming. I gave up watching addictive TV shows. I gave up a lot of bad addictions I had.

Sometimes, I still feel it, though.

It’s in the mornings when I can’t get up, and justify sleeping just a little more, even though I planned to do a lot of productive work; even though I filled out my planner with things to do and told it that I would “Wake up at 8am.” At least 6 days a week, I can’t bring myself to wake up at the time that I want.

It’s in the moments when I am all alone, with no one to talk to, and with nothing to do. My mind starts talking to me–saying a lot of unhealthy things; conjuring a lot of doubt, distrust; reminding me of painful experiences and trying to tell me that I was wrong for forgiving, that I should hold onto that anger and pain (even though I know that it’s useless to do so). But I listen more than I should, because even though I find it painful, I find it comforting too–bittersweet.

It’s in the moments when I feel scared of my future financial situation. Always fixated on how I can make more money; whether I’m on the right career path. It makes me want to work harder, learn more, achieve more. By keeping busy, I know that I can stave away unwanted thoughts. Sometimes, it’s unhealthy how much I work. But most of the time, I find it good.


 

I wonder if it will ever go away. But a small voice in the back of my mind tells me that it can be useful, if I can develop the self-discipline to control it.


Daily Post’s Daily Prompt: Happy Endings

 

Dear Me of 2017

Dear Me of 2017

Dear Me of 2017,

Right now, I am sitting in the little Guest Room at his house typing this up. I know that to you, resolutions don’t really exist. To you, resolutions are, at most, a reminder to keep improving upon yourself!

Right now, I’m wondering where you are in life, and what you are doing right now. I wonder where you are living and whether you have decided to work or pursue Graduate Studies. However, I know you… Any decision you will have made, is one that I know I can place confidence in.

If there is anything I learned in the year of 2015, it is that nothing is set in stone. I also know, that when adversity strikes, you always manage to rise above it. Besides the couple of white hairs you may get from the stress and tendency to fall into unhealthy habits at those times, from past experience, I know that you only get stronger, smarter, and more efficient afterwards. Two white hairs for the ability to tackle future challenges more easily? Sounds like a good trade. However! Since I realize that you have a tendency to fall into unhealthy habits when stressed, I hope that when this message gets to you, you:

  • Consistently try to get enough sleep, even when you have a lot to do.
  • Have gotten even BETTER at not procrastinating than you are now. 9 times out of 10, you sleep late because you are working on something you could have worked on earlier instead of browse through social media or searching up obscure things on the internet.
  • Have learned to take preemptive measures and get rid of any junk food lying around a week before you expect to be stressed out. I know you’d eat them otherwise… and regret it too.
  • Consistently eat iron-rich foods about a week before that time of the month. Anemia-induced fatigue is not fun… and not productive.
  • Remember not to neglect exercise and attribute it to the excuse that you simply don’t have time. I  know you know that there are many 5-min workout videos on Youtube that you can just play and exercise along with as a work-break.
  • Make an effort to eat healthy… even during bad times. Just because you don’t feel like eating when you feel bad, don’t neglect your body. Make sure that you eat enough and get enough nutrition! Even when you feel bad, you still deserve to be healthy. 🙂

Hmm… I wonder how your Chinese is now (Cantonese and Mandarin). At this moment, I know that I have a lot of anxiety when it comes to practicing it with native speakers. However, I am trying and won’t give up! I want to pave a road to confidence and fluency, and am working hard to meet you at the end of the road!

Also, I hope to see you still working on blogging. Show me that I can make it stick!

I will meet you at the top, you strong, capable, hardworking, caring, smart, and driven woman!

Love from,
Me of 2016


Daily Post Prompt: Write Here, Write Now

Small Wins | It’s that busy time of the year

Ah! I mentioned in a previous post how hectic my last couple weeks were. I even had a couple disturbing dreams to remind my sleeping self that I was not safe, haha! Now, I shall gather up the small wins!

For those who like the short and sweet, I:
1) Successfully studied for my final exam, while completing a big surprise website editing job!
2) Finished shopping for all my Christmas presents and wrote all my Christmas cards without feeling like a chicken running around with my head cut off.
3) Started to get back into the habit of working out 2-3 times a week.
4) Started to blog at least 1x/week consistently. I’ll try to keep it up!
5) Started learning Mandarin again after a month-long hiatus!
6) Made homemade shampoo for the first time.

Successful final exam studying!
This one was a bit of a nightmare. In my immunology class, the lectures were separated into 3 different chunks, with three different professors. The first 2 were excellent, but then the final lecturer gave us all a run for our money. Slides were zoomed by and no apparent connections could be drawn. When I started studying, I felt like I was learning all the material again… this time on my own. Many classmates shared this sentiment with a shared motto of, “My textbook will save me!” The best part was that 62% of the marks were questions the final lecturer wrote. I’m sure the textbook saved a lot of students, especially since all the diagrams she used were from the textbook… with full explanations. The test was okay. I left feeling a little dazed but I know that I did “decent”. Maybe a B. Maybe a B+. Who knows. Anyways, no time to waste wondering what it is when it will come out on its own.

Finished a big website editing job that started during my study week.
This was pretty scary. Imagine sitting down to study and then finding out that you have to edit 10000 words of text at the same time! Glad to say that I finished this job and earned a little pocket money. Good thing I printed all of my study notes, or else I would have easily spent 8 hours per day staring into a computer screen.

Kept up a habit of blogging at least once a week.
This was pretty difficult as well. When I first started off, I wrote a couple posts. But then, even though the inspiration was still there, I felt I had too much work to do in real life to write at leisure on a blog. I think I went a whole month without posting anything else. I changed my mindset though and created many creative outlets for myself in the form of categories to just blog whenever I feel like typing something out. Maybe an interesting thought one day, a weird dream on another.

Finished all my Christmas shopping and card-writing.
This was a pretty big feat! I decided to start them early so that I wouldn’t have to worry about them during exam week and so that I wouldn’t have to run around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Started going to the gym and boulder again after a 2-week hiatus.
I think I lost some muscle mass because of the hiatus because I now weigh the lowest I ever did… without making any big changes to my diet.

Made homemade shampoo.
Okay, not technically. I basically added aloe juice and essential oils to a shampoo base. Customized smell though? Haha!

Started learning Mandarin again after a month-long hiatus.
Hiatus. Would not recommend. I learn through flashcards and podcasts so after this hiatus, I stocked up over a thousand flashcards that were “Ready for Review”. That was true terror.


 

Upcoming small win aims: Keep up the exercise, blogging, and Mandarin learning. What else? We shall see!

Anyways, remember to recount the small wins that you have achieved too! Hopefully, like it does for me, it inspires you to continue chipping away and aiming for more small wins!

-Tiffany

Something We All Share

Fear…

This is in response to the Daily Prompt: Safety First


My first day of Kindergarten.
My mom disappeared and I was surrounded,
by children speaking,
a language that I didn’t understand.
I hide under the table,
hoping no one will notice me.
I felt unsafe.

I told him that I didn’t like his threats,
that he couldn’t use them to control me.
He yelled at me, telling me this was
his house.
He told me to get out. I ran out.
I was ten, and running outside,
with a jacket that was too light
for winter;
and a pair of shoes that were too big.
My teeth chattered and I shivered.
I kept running, not to get away,
but to keep warm.
I felt unsafe.

It was late, and I was walking back home.
I had finished a late night choir rehearsal.
I cross the street and notice a couple.
I notice a man, he’s following them.
They’re ignoring him. I tuck my head down,
hoping not to draw attention.
He notices me, and staggers over.
He says, “Ni hao,” but I know,
that he doesn’t speak Chinese.
I return his greeting and keep walking,
briskly.
He follows after me, but when he knows,
that I won’t be stopping anytime soon, he says,
“Gwai lo.”
I felt unsafe.

The probation period was coming to an end,
I look at my logbook and feel anxious.
Research progress was slow,
the result of tedious testing every day,
looking for a “wonder mutation”,
finding sad examples of said,
“wonder mutation”.
My variants were nothing spectacular,
days passed where work,
yielded no results.
They’re looking for results,
not efforts and invested time.
This is when I find out if I go on,
or am cut off. I gather up my progress notes.
I felt unsafe.

I was skiing on a school trip.
I love to ski.
Even though I could hold my own,
I was no pro.
“Follow me!” he exclaimed.
He took off, while I was left,
looking at tracks left by his skis.
I laughed–it was exhilarating!
I followed him down the slope,
around the corner.
I saw his form fly up suddenly.
I was still smiling when I registered,
too late,
that he had gone off a big jump.
Before I knew it, I was airborne.
Shock was replaced with terror when,
I realized that the ground was closing in,
increasingly fast. Impact.
I felt unsafe.

Ever since we were little kids,
we would cuddle together at night during
visits to each other and go to sleep.
Sometimes, he would forget to take off his glasses,
I would smile and remove them for him,
whenever he did. I thought of him like,
a brother.
I guess one day, we got too old for that.
It was late, and he must have thought I had,
fallen asleep.
I felt his hand grabbing my butt and,
reaching into my shirt to feel my breasts.
I was terrified but couldn’t say anything,
what would happen to the relationship,
between our families?
It’d be better if I pretended I really was asleep.
His hands were still moving,
now, there were travelling down my belly,
towards my genitals.
I smoothly brought my legs together,
feelings of disgust erupted when I felt,
his hands digging and moving in and out.
I felt the bed and blankets shaking a little,
then stillness.
I ignored my thoughts, emptied my mind.
The next day, he asked me,
“You sleep well last night?”
I felt unsafe.


When I look back at these instances, I realize some of them are silly, some of them serious. That feeling of fear, of not feeling safe, is something we all share. Thankfully, we are all here today and these incidences are things of the past.