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Your Job Isn’t Your Life

“I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.”

― Maya Angelou

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I remember being asked that question in pre-school.

In our society, it seems people are defined by job titles — what they do rather than who they are.

On average, an adult, full-time professional spends eight hours a day and 40 hours a week at work. That’s roughly 2,000 hours per year. In the many hours, days, weeks, and months dedicated to sending emails and meeting pressing deadlines, assuming career to mean your identity can become second nature.

I’m guilty of it, too. In my eight months as a working professional, I’ve been learning that it’s important not to confuse who I am as a human being for the career badge worn in a 9-5 role. My business and my work will always be what I do, but they are not who I am.

I am a daughter, a girlfriend, a sister, and a woman full of talents, dreams, and goals. My job might fill a few empty puzzle pieces that make me into a whole picture, but the pieces are only a small fraction of what makes me uniquely Laurie.

Let’s forget about 9-5 p.m. for a minute. We spend lots of energy making sure that we are efficient and productive during the workday, but what about afterward?

Most days, I stroll out of the office feeling totally wiped. Sometimes, depressing thoughts take over and I find myself stuck in a loop of wake up, go to work, sleep. And again and again. The quarter-life crisis sneaks itself in: Is this actually what I want to do? Could we do this for another 50 years? What truly makes me happy? Is life just a mind-numbing routine?

My solution was to change my perspective. Instead of trudging through my front door and plopping in front of the television for hours, I had to remind myself that my evening hours are a decent chunk of time.

Let’s say you get home from work at 5 p.m. and go to bed at 10. That leaves five whole hours to focus on hobbies and activities. Keep in mind that those weekday hours make up 25 hours of your week!

You don’t even have to spend the extra time doing something particularly productive – just something different. Work in 30 minutes of exercise, an hour to read a good book, 20 minutes for a relaxing walk through the park, or 45 minutes to sit down with loved ones and catch up over a real dinner.

Resist the temptation to head home and hide out alone in your living room. Instead, get out there, socialize, and have some fun! Grab an appetizer and a drink with a friend. Catch that movie you’ve been meaning to see. Go soak up some sunshine at the local park. Head to that yoga class you’ve been wanting to try. Turn off your cell phone.

Designate a space and time that you can use to rediscover your hobby. Set up a room where you can paint or practice music. Begin training for that marathon. Head out and snap some photos.

And my favorite trick: schedule plans, fun outings, and activities for the future so you have something to look forward to. Whether that be a concert, weekend camping trip, or a manicure, set a date for something exciting.

Whatever you want to do is totally up to you. The key is to truly enjoy your time out of the office. That way, your job becomes an obligation that just takes up a simple chunk of time during your day and not like it’s a time-sucking inconvenience that prevents you from ever doing anything you want.

Even if you love your job, I’m sure that you still have at least one or two interests outside of the confines of your office. If your goal is to have a life outside of work, then it’s important to dedicate some time to yourself. There’s no denying that work takes up a big chunk of your life, but it doesn’t need to be all-consuming.


New Year, New Me? No Thanks

No timescale can be put on becoming who I aspire to be.

I’ve never been a New Year’s resolution kind of girl, and I think this is why: my personal growth doesn’t follow calendar time.

I absolutely believe in making improvements and setting goals, but my need for that kind of structure rarely shows up on knocking on my door come January 1. For me, growth means paying attention to what is needed during any given season and adjusting as I go.

I refuse to set myself up for failure. As a recovering perfectionist, making an unrealistic promise to do (or not do) something for an entire year—or, yikes, the rest of my life—feels like an invitation to be mean to myself when I’m unable to deliver.

The only way I’m able to actually change my lifestyle and stick to it is by knowing that there’s no rush, that I have time, and that I’m not a failure if it takes me longer than you thought.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I’m allergic to “shoulds.” When I’m doing something purely out of obligation or compliance, I become frustrated, resentful, and guilty. At one point in my life, this was my primary way of functioning, but I broke free and took ownership of my decisions.

But above all, I really value promises. I believe in never breaking a promise, no matter what it takes. When giving a promise you are giving your word to someone, and they trust that you will stick to your word and keep it. To me, being able to keep your word or promises says a lot about your character and who you really are. Maybe that’s just the truth-telling journalist in me.

To me, a resolution is a promise, and I don’t make promises lightly. Maybe I’m taking this all too seriously, but I can’t seem to do otherwise. I just don’t like to make a commitment I might not be able to keep. Not even to myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s impossible to make a lifelong behavior change. I have made plenty of my own incredible life changes over the years, but a lot more went into that success than tacking up a new calendar and vowing to be different from January 1 forward.


Overcoming a Bad Body Image Day

Body activists don’t have it all figured out. I still feel the effects of our messed up society. If I’m lucky, it’s a simple “Aw man, I feel sucky” but other days it’s “I’m the ugliest person on the planet.”

Self-love has helped me build an armor against the evil voices hissing in my head, and more often than not, I can snap out of it pretty quickly. But some days, I can’t shake the pure hatred, even though my brain knows that it’s bullshit. I’ll fully admit that I have these days, especially when my digestive issues start flaring up or a war breaks out on my face.

You can have a bad body image day while still having a positive body image overall. We all have bad body image days, but it doesn’t have to be the theme.

 

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What happened? Just yesterday you felt fine. Now you feel like an overinflated circus balloon only able fit into palooza pants (maybe).

Sometimes our brains don’t always listen to reason. Sometimes our eyes don’t see our bodies for what they really are. Every reflection we look into is distorted and we shoot down every compliment and attempt to feel better about ourselves. It’s freaking HARD!

It sucks to feel embarrassed or unhappy with yourself, but in a world where we’re constantly falling into the comparison trap, it helps to have a few tricks up your sleeve to flip your mindset around.

Remember, practice makes perfect  progress, so using these tricks over and over is the way to adapt and build new habits.

 

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❤ Hold up. Pause. Take a few moments to think and breathe before your decide to launch into a mental tirade on your appearance. Ask yourself: What am I feeling right now that’s making me unhappy? Is it stress, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed? What happened or what am I worried about that’s making me feel this way? What kind of a long-term solution can I put into place to change the thing that’s bothering me? And what kind of short-term self-care plan can I design in the meantime? What would be more beneficial to channel my energy into today?

❤ Do the opposite action. Find something on your body that you are thankful for and take a moment or two to thank it! This could mean writing it down, saying it out loud in the mirror, or quietly saying it to yourself. Instead of focusing on the way your body looks, start acknowledging and appreciating your body for all that it allows you to do. Your body is strong, powerful, and beautiful, regardless of it’s size.

 

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❤ Remember that nobody else is as hard on yourself as you are. We are by far our own worst critics. If you find yourself obsessing about how you don’t like a physical characteristic (especially one that you have zero control over), know that the majority of people you come in contact with today probably won’t even think twice about it.

❤ Stay off social media. It’s a constant stream of people’s highlight. Filters and photo-altering tools are everywhere. Instead of looking at photos and videos of perfection on social media, spend time with real people. Yep, real-life people that you see face-to-face, that haven’t been harming themselves as they prepare for magazine cover shoots and don’t have flawlessly airbrushed skin. Have real conversations, laugh (laughing = instant happy pill!) and keep your phone in your bag.

 

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❤ Practice self-care. Don’t let yourself go down the self-hate path. When you find yourself feeling the bad body vibes, find something else to occupy your mind and distract yourself with healthy coping mechanisms. Call a supportive friend, cuddle with a pet, pick up a good book, paint your nails, listen to your favorite song, color a picture, knit something, etc. Dig deep into that took box and find something to get blissfully lost in.

❤ Practice self-love. Instead of being mean to yourself, make the choice to practice self-compassion. Remind yourself of your ultimate goal to love and accept yourself. Instead of focusing on your flaws, tell yourself “I am a work in progress.” Repeat to yourself, “I was not put here to be perfect.” Over time you will begin to internalize this self-compassion and it will start to feel more natural.

 

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❤ Remind yourself of how much more you are than a body: A scale measures your gravitational pull towards earth. That is all. You are so, so much more than a number. You are your ambitions, your bravery, your triumph over adversity. You are your dreams, your passions, your soul. You are a living, breathing miracle. You are you!

❤ Feelings are temporary. Approach it the same way that you might with any other kind of bad day: Remind yourself that a day is only 24 hours long, and tomorrow might be different. Accept what you have no control over, and then focus on what you can change about your outlook. Remind yourself that feelings are temporary, and this feeling will pass.

 

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❤ Challenge your negative thoughts. Give that nagging voice the fleeting attention it so craves, and then remind it, “Even if that were true, I’d still be so worth loving.” Say, “Hey! That girl you’re bullying is my friend. She is pretty dang awesome!” You may not be able to change the way you feel about your body today, tomorrow, or a month from now, but you can begin the process by challenging the thoughts in the moment. Even if you don’t believe the things you say to counter the voice, it’s still important to speak out against it, because each time you argue with the thoughts, you are taking away some of their power and reclaiming your own. The more you challenge the thoughts, the less you will believe them. The more you argue back, the easier fighting the voice will become.

 

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And if none of these work, and you still feel stuck…

❤ Allow yourself to feel your feelings. Let yourself be frustrated, mad, upset, depressed… for five minutes. It’s 100% ok to experience negative emotions – it’s what makes us human. Having said that, it’s not fun to feel crappy. If you were to take a sip of tea that was too hot and burned your tongue, you wouldn’t just keep chugging it down, right? Similarly, don’t make your misery last any longer than it needs to. Whether that means throwing a tantrum on the floor, venting to a friend on the phone, punching a pillow, screaming in your car, or crying in bed, you need to allow yourself to feel your feelings. Let go of the judgement you have about what you feel and recognize that you are feeling these things for a reason. Give yourself permission to release your emotions and let everything out — just don’t dwell on it for longer than five minutes.

Remember that everyone feels this way from time to time. You’re not alone! Coping with bad body image days may not be easy, but it is possible.

And now I’d like to know, what do YOU do when you have a beyond crummy bad body day? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

I’m looking forward to hearing them so I can put them in my pocket for next time. Because, y’know, there will be a next time.


Why I’m No Longer Vegan

Disclosure: I have nothing against veganism, nor am I trying to impose my beliefs onto others. This is simply my experience and how I responded to this lifestyle.

I have waited 4 months to write this blog post out of fear of backlash, but I think I am finally ready to explain more about why I chose to leave the vegan community.

Laurie Hamame

Ball of sunshine. Chronic giggler. A lover of all things sweet potato. An overly friendly, world traveling, body positive warrior. Avid bookworm. Self-proclaimed chef and spiritually Italian. Promotor of daily walks, coffee dates and 30-second dance parties.

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