Astigmatism and a stigma

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in the fifth grade. We all lined up as usual to take our public school vision test. I giggled my way to the front of the line. This would probably go like previous years.

Finally, it was my turn. Was that an “F” or an “E”? Was that an “O” or a “C”?

“Kathy,” the visiting optometrist started, “it looks as if you’re going to need glasses.”

I was already different than the children on my block. They attended the neighborhood school and I was bused to a magnet one. My hair hung down my back, while other girls had cornrows or braids with colorful beads. I spoke “standard” English when everyone else used “ain’t” and double negatives with ease.

And now I had to add wearing glasses to this list?

My first reaction was a single tear from my near-sighted eye. Another soon formed and trickled down my cheek. Before I knew it, I was full-on crying, in front of the whole fifth-grade.

The visiting optometrist whispered, “Now dear, you don’t want to make the people who wear glasses feel bad, do you?”

She was talking about Alexander Adams, a kid named after a president. She referred to Eli Korner. A nice boy, but not someone I wanted to be in the glasses gang with.

So my mom took me to a place called For Eyes. My first pair were lilac. If I had to wear them, then I was going to look as cool as possible doing it.

***

Fast forward to 1991. I had just graduated high school and had a job. All this time, I’d been wearing the glasses that someone else could afford for me. This time, I’d wear the glasses that I wanted.

My first pair, with my own paycheck were Laura Biagotti’s. I’m pretty sure I paid over $200 for them. But it didn’t matter. I was fly. Ironically, I’d also decided to ditch wearing them in public. It was time for me to enjoy the convenience of contacts.

That was back when you could get a pair of annuals and they would last, well, all year, as the title suggests.

I wore those contacts so much that Dwight didn’t even realize I needed to wear glasses. I slept in those contacts so much that the optometrist had to threaten not to give me a prescription because you know, you’re not supposed to sleep in contacts.

Every year, I’d renew my contact lens prescription. And every other year, I’d renew my eyeglass prescription, wearing them at night only. I held on to this routine for 25 years.

***

Much like many prescription holders, my eyesight worsened over time. Much worse. But it didn’t matter. I could hide the truth behind my contacts. Decades later, companies discontinued annuals and only offered monthlies.

Everything was good, until this year.

My eyesight had worsened still. Because according to Dr. Suddath, no matter what, when you’re over 40, your vision will continue to decline, regardless of the starting point.

My current prescription is: -7.50 with a -1.75 astigmatism and -8.25 with a -1.00 astigmatism.

All this technical mumbo jumbo means I can no longer wear monthlies. My contacts only come in dailies, which cost $106 per month. Say what?

This means, as my good friend Mek suggested, “Maybe you should embrace the glasses now?”

And suddenly, I felt like I was ten again. I cried and cried, like a week ago y’all.

It might sound silly. But there was a slight fear.

Most people don’t even know I wear glasses, for real. Most people don’t know that if I didn’t have these contacts in, I wouldn’t know who was standing in front of my face. Most people don’t know that wearing glasses is what makes me feel 10% less confident in public spaces.

Most people don’t know that I’d been holding on to a feeling of inadequacy for 33 years, all because I couldn’t see clearly.

Sheesh! 

I had subscribed to a stereotype about wearing glasses and safely hid behind contact lenses. Well, it has to end here. I’ll have to shed this made up stigma and find the right frame for my (public) comfort level. 

The journey to loving me for me in this and every moment continues, glasses and all.

Do you have any hidden insecurities you’ve held on to since childhood? Share them below so we can support one another. 

Thanksgiving? 🦃🍁🍂

dinner-1060352_1280Did everyone have a great Thanksgiving? I did, but something’s been bothering me over the past few days. It began when I read Tareau’s commentary. You can find it here. His description of Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering elicited some ill feelings. I was just about to sit down and enjoy half a Cornish hen, mashed potatoes and green beans that I’d prepared.

I consider myself pretty conscious. So I thought I was doing pretty good not overindulging in turkey, dressing and other common staples. Certainly, Tareau wasn’t talking to me. Was he? I know the trials and tribulations of Native Americans. Surely, I can enjoy my food and be #woke. Right?

I finished my dinner and stumbled across Darryl’s post, explicitly titled, Thanksgiving and Black Friday: The Epitome of American Culture. Was the universe trying to tell me something? Darryl very succinctly explained the irony of the American football game for the day. Well, there’s nothing I could do about NFL scheduling, so I didn’t feel as bad, but I did begin to think that maybe baking hens isn’t enough of a rebellious stance.

My next stop was Facebook. Unfortunately, I didn’t screenshot my friend’s post, but here’s a loose paraphrase:

We all know where Thanksgiving came from so stop telling everybody about the Indians. Today is a day when most of us just get together to be with family and eat food, so enjoy it the best way you know how.

On the one hand, I used to be one of those didactic people sharing all kinds of information about Native Americans and how this wasn’t a holiday for them. On the other hand, I understood what he was saying. The holiday has changed. We’re not pilgrims celebrating the deaths of indigenous people. We’re people eating food with family.

Just when I’d begun feeling okay about how I’d celebrated this year, Dwight posted four things; two were about the Dakota Pipeline and the other two? Thanksgiving origins.

We talked about it during our Sunday walk.

“You got me thinking about planning a family trip to Plymouth Rock!”
“I was thinking the same thing,” he said.

By the end of our walk, I’d decided this. Whatever I do for any holiday is fine, as long as I’m doing it consciously. This year I was mindful about the amount of food the girls and I cooked, and I’m good with that. There’s no leftover anything and I don’t have to force someone to eat turkey for seven days. Conversely, Dwight and I could have a more in-depth conversation with the girls about why there’s a so-called Thanksgiving. If we add a road trip to Massachusetts, then I’ll let you all know. But for now, that’s as far as our activism will reach.

What about you? I know the holiday is over, but I’m wondering why, how and if you celebrate? Do you consider indigenous people on this day? How active do you have to be to be an activist?

7 Days of Yoga

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Yoga sparks my creativity. I’m sure there’s some scientific/spiritual rationale of which I’m unaware, but for me, the proof is production. With all my Unhappy Wife marketing, it became challenging to write anything new, so I decided to engage in seven days of yoga. Consequently, I attained more than creativity.

Monday, October 31st (Yoga Den, Mandarin 7:45-9:00 P.M.) It slipped my mind that today was Halloween, so I almost didn’t make it. I wanted to pass out the four bags of peanut and peanut butter M&Ms that Dwight’s eyes had signaled was too much. But I’d promised myself attendance at Sun Flow Yin. I would have to rely on my nonsocial daughters to take the lead. One little boy showed up right before I left. Turns out he was the only trick-or-treater we got this year, so I didn’t miss anything and my daughters didn’t have to interact with people.

Today’s Lesson: Follow your instinct.

Tuesday, November 1st (LA Fitness, Kernan, 9:45-10:45 A.M.) I slept like a six-month old baby snuggled in between co-sleeping parents. I’m attributing a good night’s rest to the previous night’s yoga. However, practicing back-to-back made me nervous. My anxiety floated away once I noticed a guy doing downward facing dog in his drawers. I was slightly distracted, not because anything showed, but because I kept wondering if those were indeed his skivvies. They were. The bright blue band around the top gave it away. I didn’t think my yoga crew noticed because there were no side eyes or eyebrow raises. He and I walked out together and he engaged me in conversation. Underwear guy’s name is Joe. He’d lost his wife seven years ago in a drunk driving accident. She left him with a set of twin boys and a daughter to raise. Without yoga, he believed he would’ve died too.

Lesson: You never know what someone’s gone through, so treat them with kindness.

Wednesday, November 2nd (Yoga Den, Mandarin 6:30-7:30 P.M.) I loathe Wednesdays. On this day, I drive two hours to teach one class that lasts an hour and fifteen minutes. The angst of the drive begins Tuesday night and settles into my consciousness, making for a stressful morning and grumpy day. But today felt a little different. Maybe back-to-back yoga helped me maintain peace. After class, I usually drive to main campus and participate in a meeting, work in my office until 5:00, and then leave. The chair cancelled today’s meeting, so I graded papers until 3:45 and made it back home just in time for Mind-Body yoga. To be honest, I chose this yoga because the time was appropriate. But the lesson about mind-body connection was also what I needed to hear. Hopefully, I can put it into practice this coming Wednesday.

Lesson: Everything begins in the mind.

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Thursday, November 3rd (LA Fitness, Kernan, Jacksonville, Florida 9:45-10:45 A.M.) Welp, my yoga crew did notice that Joe and his undies. They were in a circle discussing it as I rolled out my mat. By the time I returned from the restroom, someone had approached Joe about it. I came back just in time to hear this:

Joe: Y’all shouldn’t be looking at me anyways. Yoga is supposed to be a meditation. Y’all should be meditating. Everybody in here should be able to do yoga naked ‘cause we should all be so focused on ourselves.

Mrs. Gail: That’s what I tried to tell ‘em Joe!

I politely stretched into child’s pose and minded my own business.

Lesson: Focus on yourself.

Friday, November 4th (Yoga Den, Mandarin, Jacksonville, Florida 9:15-10:45 A.M.) I almost didn’t make it today you guys. The bed was so warm and cozy. And I thought to myself, KG, you’ve already done four days. Isn’t that good enough? Then, that same nagging feeling I get when I make self-promises began to surface. It’s familiar. I cannot tell myself I’m going to do a thing and not follow through. Off to yoga I went. This isn’t any old type of yoga. The instructor begins by playing a banjo and we all chant Om Namah Shivaya. Then, we chant three OMs and begin our practice. It’s intense. Today, I almost threw up. I know that’s not a good yoga practice if you almost hurl. And it certainly goes against what you’re supposed to be practicing in the first place. I thought I was done overachieving, but this proved otherwise. Every now and then, I still unconsciously overextend myself; yoga is no different. I’m working on it. After Savasana, she plays the banjo again and we do three more OMs. This particular practice is my favorite one, but it usually doesn’t come behind four other yoga days.

Lesson: Be true to yourself by honoring your word. Be mindful.

Saturday, November 5th (LA Fitness, Lakewood, Jacksonville, Florida 11:00 A.M.-12:00 P.M.) On Saturdays, I wake up sans alarm clock. I lie in bed, blog a little, write a little, and then decide what I’m going to do. Not today. Friday afternoon, my goddaughter texted to inform me that the local bookstore had run out of copies of The Unhappy Wife.

“So I can come Monday?” I asked Jen, the owner.

“We’re open Saturday and Sunday at 9:00 A.M.” she replied.

I broke my usual routine and was at the bookstore by 9:00 A.M.

“Thank you so much,” she started, “Really appreciate you.”

“No. Thank you,” I smiled.

We were helping one another. Because of her, I didn’t have to sell books out of my trunk, and because of me, she was gaining more customers and revenue. This was the win-win I’d heard so much about.

Afterwards, I went to yoga.

Lesson: If you want something, you have to be willing to break self-made traditions.

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Sunday, November 6th (Walk with Dwight) By this day, I was tired of yoga. My shoulders felt as if I’d been lifting weights all day. My core was a bit tighter, but hurt when I bent to the side. My legs felt as if I’d done 100 squats each day. So Dwight and I took our usual Sunday walk.

Lesson: Know when to listen to your body, as opposed to your mind.

My creativity is back, but quite honestly, three days worth of yoga is quite enough for me.

All Summer ’16

My summer was fabulous.

It started with this new job and how they function. Typically ten-month employees are only paid until May, but not this one. This institution gives you no choice; they spread your salary over 12 months. Initially, I was bothered because 12-month pay meant fewer dollars in my check. And my salary was already at an all-time low.

But then something happened.

My director asked me if I wanted to teach summer classes. During past years, at former universities, my answer would’ve been a healthy, “Yes.” In fact, I was always the one begging higher-ups for summer classes to teach or busting my butt to write grants to supplement three months of income.

But not this year.

Nope. This year, I was getting paid my regular salary during the entire summer! This might sound like a small thing to some of you who work and get paid annually, but trust me. This is HUGE (in my Donald Trump voice).

So my answer was, “No.” And that’s where my summer planning began. I was going to do nothing and anything.

1470948563407Summer vacay began as it always does, with my birthday shenanigans. This time, Dwight planned a fun party on a casino boat that left from Port Canaveral. Twenty-two people came out to celebrate with me. It was pretty amazing because none of the guests lived in the area. Everyone either flew or drove in. I was surrounded by love and water.

Once that was over, my youngest daughter, Desi finished the eighth grade. Now she’s headed to her high school’s IB program.

All along, I kept taking cool photos of people, and you know what happened? Two people purchased the one called, “Chillin.’” I could’ve never imagined that someone thought my photography was good enough to buy.

1470948854382Because I was off this summer with free time, I vowed to visit a different beach every week. Sometimes I just walked on the shore. A few times, the girls and I set up chairs and hung out. I even convinced a few other people to join me. This summer, I visited Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Hanna Park, St. Augustine Beach, Flagler Beach, Ormond Beach, and Smathers Beach!

Around June, my best friend made her bi-annual visit from overseas. Traditionally, we tube down the Itchetucknee River when she comes. But this time was a little different. In addition to my family and I, Kesi brought a friend; my goddaughter came; and another friend and her family arrived. We tied those blue rafts together, and floated down the cool river for 45 relaxing minutes.

Because I didn’t have any teaching duties, I created a schedule to self-publish and market The Unhappy Wife, which I’ve deemed successful. When I wasn’t publishing the book, my bestie and I drove eight hours to Key West. We hung out at Margaritaville’s, the Butterfly Museum and Ernest Hemingway’s house. Visitor’s tip for you all, Key West is not the best place for beaches.

1470949099634A couple of unexpected events occurred. Around July, I learned I was finalist for a creative nonfiction piece I’d submitted. Dwight and I will be driving to Orlando in October to see if I won. Send me some positive energy please! The second thing that happened is a friend of mine nominated me for an award. I was one of 30 women named as a Leading Lady of Jacksonville. So I ended the summer the same way I began it: celebrating!

Well, that was summer 2016! To say that I lived every moment would be an understatement. Now, I’m back at work, sitting in a meeting as you read this. But I can truly say that I’m refreshed and ready to teach.

What about you? You might not have had as much time off as I did, but what did you do during these summer months? Have you been to any of the places I’ve named?

Why I Refuse to Judge Any Mother

My first public blog post…

A few years ago, I attended one of my former high school student’s baccalaureate graduations. Also in attendance was her mom, a single mother of three young adults. She had literally arrived just in time for this commencement, which was 706 miles away from home. She donned a black, sequenced matching shirt and pants. Her luggage was in tow. This scene was typical; she wore her challenges. As Langston Hughes might say, life for her ain’t been no crystal stair.

But still. No matter the situation, this lady was always there for her daughter and her other two adult children. She might be the loudest one in the crowd, but that was because she was supportive. She might have snuck some popcorn into so-called prestigious events, but that’s cause everybody knows that concessions at large events cost too much.

I watched her quite a bit that weekend. She snapped 27 pictures on her disposable camera. Tossed the throwaway in her bag and snatched a new one. She did this four more times. I watched her “save” the graduation chicken because essentially, nobody else there really knew how to grill it. And I noticed how she loved her children, the best way she knew how, given her experiences. By Sunday, Mother’s Day 2013, something dawned on me; this mother is no different than I am, a mother of two daughters, or any mother for that matter. So I posted this: The longer I am a mother, the more I understand that each mother just does the best she can, given her circumstances.

1462536161555Then, something else happened. I thought about my own experiences as a daughter. Many times I felt embarrassed because my mother carried a terminal illness that would lead to death, kidney disease. A lot of times, I wished my mom were someone else. So much so that she had offered to take me to see Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour, but I declined. As much as I loved MJ, I didn’t want to be asked if this was my grandmother, again. It wasn’t until years after my mother’s death that I realized how much of a gem she really was.

In between dialysis treatments, she led a fearless life. She was deeply involved with NAPHT (National Association of Patients on Hemodialysis and Transplantation), volunteered as a Sunday school teacher, worked part-time, supported anyone she called family and friend, and all the while actively chose to raise me, this daughter she had adopted. My mother had ensured that I attend the best public magnet K-12 Chicago schools, which provided me with rich childhood experiences. In fact, I attribute my spirit of service, advocacy and motivation in part to observing my own mother do the very same things. So while there were moments of adolescent shame due to my mother’s physical appearance, there’s now an adult appreciation because I recognize and honor her for doing the best that she could, given her circumstances.

Now, I’m the mother of two fairly quiet teenage daughters, who would rather I remain silent than speak out about small infractions. These daughters turn a side-eye with every picture I capture and every post that “tells their business.” My oldest claims that she won’t tell me anything because I’ll tell everyone (guess this blog partially proves that). My youngest daughter would rather become invisible than to watch me dance in public. I’m often met with a lot of, “Are you wearing those shoes with that?” when leaving the house. But I hope that one day they’ll understand that it matters less if my shoes match my shirt. I hope that they’ll understand the reason their mother took a 320-mile commute every now and then for a career she felt called to do. I hope that they’ll remember family trips, game nights, healthy food, and movie dates. And when they’re feeling as if I could have done more, I hope they’ll remember that I too, did the best that I could, given my own circumstances.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Confessions of an Overachiever (II)

Part I and Part III

It was 2009. I was conducting a study, analyzing data and giving job talks in a few states. The interview process itself was an unexpected stress. One interview lasted three full days. After talking with search committees in five states, I secured a position at a liberal arts college in Georgia. It seemed perfectly aligned with my vow to avoid stress.

There were a few challenges, though.

The institution promised to support my husband in finding a job. They never did. We still had our Florida house to sell. The girls lived with me; Dwight stayed in Florida. It was a three and a half hour drive. So while my job wasn’t stressful, the weekend commutes to have some semblance of normalcy was. For me, this meant packing up the kids and dog, and then trekking up and down I-75 every other weekend. We did this for two years. The cycle was relentless and taxing. I went back on the professor market.

To say I was desperate to move back to Florida is an understatement. My pre-teen daughters were well-behaved, but with the absence of a father, they had gotten a little lippy. We were also sustaining two households. But I didn’t feel as stressed as I had before. I mean there was no chair of a doctoral committee determining the balance of my life. As a matter of fact, I had lost weight and felt more energetic. Still, the situation wasn’t ideal and we needed to move back together, under one roof.

When the next prestigious university called me in 2012 and offered me a visiting professor line, I was overjoyed. However, I had no intentions of moving to Tallahassee. The point was for our family to reunite. I chose to commute.

“Tallahassee is a long way,” Dwight warned.

“I know. I can do it,” I said.

As I type these words, it feels arrogant. I know. I can do it. I can drive 320 miles twice a week. To be fair, droves of people I knew and didn’t know called me crazy. The truth is I really did think I could do it. It’s an innate part of my personality. I truly believe I can do anything I set my mind to. Or am I just an overachiever? The line is fine and sometimes the two collide to blur my judgment. Either way, I did it.

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The job was supposed to last only one year. It was visiting. Instead, they were soooooo impressed with me that they found a way to offer a tenure-track line. One year turned into three. Teaching classes, mentoring graduate students, advising a couple of doc students, serving on two committees, running into unexpected microagressions, conducting research, presenting at national conferences, writing, getting published in the “wrong” place, seeking grant funding, and getting rejected publications from the “right” place made for a stressful job. The out of town commute twice a week was just bonus stress. Some days I would cry all the way to the university’s parking lot. Other days I would pray all the way home for answers. In between, I looked for jobs. Nothing surfaced.

It was six years of doctoral work all over again. There was no chalazion or sleep paralysis. But I was ignoring other signs. Although I worked out whenever I wasn’t on the road, it didn’t matter.

“You run with your fists clenched,” a trainer observed. “Are you angry about something? You have to calm down and then work out. Open your fists.”

I hadn’t noticed it before. But now things made more sense. I had run a 5k, consistently practiced yoga and maintained a restricted diet, but gained 20 pounds in three years.

I made time for my family and me: movies, vacations, cookie baking, you name it. Life looked balanced, but it wasn’t. Not really. This was the most imbalanced life I’d ever lived.

But I ignored it.

Only thing about disregarding things is that they don’t really go away. My body had had enough. It was overstressed.

Yoga Thoughts 🙏🏾

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I could tell she was new as soon as she arrived. Late. It’s not that you can’t come to yoga late but we were fifteen minutes in. She had missed all the focus-your-mind, set-an-intention stuff.

Second tip was that she came fully dressed. I watched her through my downward facing dog. She unbuttoned her trench coat. She slipped her salmon colored infinity scarf carefully over her newly relaxed hair. Are those riding boots new girl? Sheesh. It’s 50 degrees today. Now those had to be removed, along with her socks. Finally, she could roll out her mat, which perfectly matched the scarf. She must’ve gotten it from Target cause it had the same lotus flower as mine.

Focus.

Bend your knees. Jump or move to the front of your matHalfway lift. Forward fold.

New girl wasn’t done. She had to lotion her hands and feet. She’s gonna regret that. I thought. I learned the hard way one time how slippery that makes your practice. The lotion was a small brown bottle with ENERGY across the front. Bath and Body Works.

Focus. Focus.

yin_yangI wonder how that guy keeps his glasses on? He was about 6’2”. Dreadlocks graced his back. Think he comes to the Tuesday morning class too. I sweat so much I’m pretty sure my glasses would fall right on the ground. And then I wouldn’t be able to see a thing. What do I need to see anyway, though?

All the way up. Little back bend. Chair pose. A little lower. Palms together. Now turn to the right.

Noooo dreadlock guy! Your other right. This is awkward. We’re facing each other. Yeah, he does come on Tuesdays, too. Guess I’ll look up at the ceiling until this part is over.

Focus. Focus. Focus.

Back to center. Now turn left. You can open your arms or leave them where they are. Remember, it’s your practice.

Least new girl is facing the right way. That guy next to her looks familiar. Think I recognize that brown spot on his toe. Sean? Stan? Sam? What is his name? He plays tennis and needs to stretch his back. Oh maybe that’s not him. S-name guy is a little older than he is.

Hands plant. Jump or step back. Lower chaturanga. Breathe in. Upward. Breathe out. Downward facing dog. Lift your right leg up. Bring your knee to your chest. Right knee in front of your right hand. Right foot in front of your left thigh. Lower if it’s comfortable.

Finally. A pose that will allow me to focus, free from all these people distracting me.

 

Be Mindful

Hate to gross you out but you know I can’t pass up an opportunity to share a lesson learned. What you’re looking at is my burned hand. It’s in process of healing. On December 30th, I held a convo with my oldest daughter, Kesi, while simultaneously pouring boiling, hot water into a mug. Because I was listening to her and not paying attention to how the scalding water got into the cup, I totally missed the destination and emptied it over my left hand.

Here’s why I’m sharing.

A lot of my writing is about being mindful and paying attention in grandiose ways: yoga, eating, working, relationships. Really, we should be mindful in each moment. Either I should have poured water, or I should have finished my conversation. As simple as it seems, I shouldn’t have attempted both. But I’m a product of my environment. Our culture values multi-tasking. However, it didn’t serve me well here. Once my hand was on fire, whatever we discussed turned insignificant. Cold water. Neosporin. Gauze. Holding back a teardrop. That’s where my attention shifted. And trust me, that’s all I was focused on at the time.

It’s really hard to be mindful in each moment. Today, I’ll just start with paying attention to how I pour hot water.

21 Days

For 21 days, I had no sugars and carbs. I deactivated my Facebook account. I exercised. And I meditated. Why? Why would you do this to yourself, friends and family have asked. The simple answer is it’s a form of discipline. More in depth answers are below. 

Image. © 2015. K E Garland. All Rights Reserved.
No sugars and carbs is a great way to stop craving sugars and carbs. The thing about me is that I’m a real food eater. Meaning, if I had to choose between a full-course meal and a slice of cake, then I unequivocally will choose the full-course meal. But after vacation eating in June and then stress eating in July, I began requesting and making multiple visits to Sweets by Holly for mini red velvet cupcakes. Detoxing from this stuff started my re-set button.

Deactivating Facebook for at least 21 days is mandatory for me. Each social media site has its own perks and drawbacks, but I find Facebook to be the most time consuming because of personal connections. Having multiple inbox conversations, liking and questioning friends’ and family members’ posts is fun. But sometimes it’s a huge distraction. Detoxing from this site forced me to pick up the phone and actually check on people when they floated across my mind. And most of the time, direct communication felt better.

Exercising for 21 consecutive days helps me to practice listening to my body. Some days I practiced yoga. Other days I ran. Functional exercises occurred somewhere in between. And on those lazy weekend days when my body wasn’t used to working out? I took a 3-mile walk outside. The point is I used intuition to determine what would be an appropriate way to move. No app. No trainer. Just me. And it worked. I felt good about what I was doing and there was no burnout.

A 21-day Meditation quiets my mind so that I can focus on one particular aspect of self-improvement. For example, last year I chose to concentrate on relationships. During that one, I learned to love my core self more; consequently, other relationships began to flourish. This year, I meditated on the energy of attraction. I’ll keep you posted on those benefits as they occur.

Focus is important. Whether it’s ditching sugar or unplugging from social media, adding exercise and meditation, or something else altogether, doing (or not doing) an activity for 21 days helps to jumpstart mindfulness. Being aware can also spark a bit of consciousness as you deliberately think about your SELF and how you’re living. Depending on your activity, those small changes may not only positively impact you, but also those around you.