Small Changes for a New Life

I’m Old. Not like dinosaur old, but I’m far from a spring chicken. The fact that I use the term ‘spring chicken’ just goes to show how old I am.

Ugh.

They say you’re as old as you feel, and for me, I do feel dinosaur old. Well, I did until recently.  As a freelance writer and social media consultant, I spend a lot of time on my ever-growing backside. Sometimes, in life, you get to a point where just have to look at yourself and wonder what the hell went wrong.dinosaur-1430240_1920

For me, that point came when I realized that I was over 250 pounds of all fat, and I’m pretty sure the only thing holding my body together was the tub of ice cream I downed every week. Yeah, things were bad. That was the first small change I made in my life. Actually, it’s a pretty big change and the one that really kick-starts everything else. I had decided enough was enough. I was sick of being fat and the only way to fix it is to work for it. So I did. With kids, family, dog, and life, finding time to sit down and work PLUS do something to stop becoming the Blob was becoming difficult. At least, that was my excuse.

I just don’t have the time.’ Like everyone else had a crap load of time except me.

So, the next thing I did was find a schedule that worked for all (albeit a bit wonky). Unfortunately, this new schedule has me up around midnight, so ouch there. I tend to get up between 12:00 am and 3:00 am to start my day, so it’s still a work in progress to get up and get going.

The biggest part about my change is the addition of a 3 mile walk first thing in the morning. Doing this before I eat help raise and maintain higher metabolism rates in my body, allowing my body to burn off food more efficiently throughout the day. More than that, this early morning walk helps my mind focus and when I unplug during the walk, my mind actually clears and seems to just see things more clearly.

For this walk, I’m not out there trying to run and kill myself, but I am walking brisk enough to sweat and be out of breath at times. That’s very important. If you simply take a leisurely stroll in the morning, your body won’t improve. You need to get your blood flowing and your muscles working to get the true effects of a workout, even if it is only walking. It’s hard. It will be hard. This is where the want comes in to say ‘Get up and get out there, fatty!’ And so I do.pexels-photo-221210 

Do not get down if things seem to slow or be tough. That’s my final little change. I am constantly getting down on myself about everything. To me, it’s as if the entire world rest on my every decision and action – of course, we all know it doesn’t. So, I would tell anyone trying to improve themselves, stop beating yourself up all the time.

Slips happen. Get over it and keep on going. Nobody is perfect. Remember that.

It’s about a month later. I’m getting used to the screwy early schedule and walking first thing in the morning, even before I eat anything, is helping my metabolism stay up and actually increasing my focus throughout the day. When I can, I try to throw a second walk in, but as long as I get my good walk in, I’m a happy camper. My weight has even dropped about fifteen pounds, which makes me want to continue to work.

If you think it’s time for a change in your life, chances are it is. Nobody knows you and your life better than you, and nobody can change your life but you. In the end, it comes down to how much do you really want to change? If you truly want it, anything is possible… Even change.

This is a guest post by Joshua Cook. Please feel free to visit his site below.

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Joshua Cook is a father, blogger, and social media consultant enjoying the beautiful weather in the Pacific Northwest. Recently starting the Cook Consulting and Content Creation firm, Josh is happy to be able to bring his life changing experiences and ideas out to help others.

YEAR REVIEW: 25%

I can’t believe it’s April already. I was going to write a review of each month as I went by to track my progress and see how well I was doing but February messed everything up. That month was so stressful. March just stressed me even more. Anyways I’m grateful for all of it. Here’s all I’ve achieved so far:

1 BLOG

I’m very proud of my achievements this quarter. I started this blog on Dec 13th, 2016 and I started with 12 days of Christmas. I did so because I had put off starting for too long and I’m very happy I did. But I like to count my beginning from January. I didn’t know you could promote blogs in Facebook groups. I just posted and hoped for the best. I discovered you could, last month and I got a whooping 2000 views. I had set a goal for 1000 and I beat it twice over. I feel so proud. I met genuine people I instantly felt connected with. I’ve made new friends in my niche and outside it. I also met ladies that have inspired me and I was finally able to define my niche and target audience. I picked College, Life and Inspiration, as my categories show. There definitely will be personal posts here and there but mainly, these.

2 SOCIAL MEDIA

I couldn’t work on social media s much as I would have loved to. I was doing a lot of trial and error deciding which social media I wanted to focus on and how to do it. Since I started with Instagram, it’s always at the top. However, I had to make some tough choices. I decided that I didn’t just want a random set of followers there, who probably wouldn’t like what i have to offer. Now, I’m trying to find my ideal reader and Lord, it couldn’t be any more difficult. I started using Twitter but I’m looking for good accounts to follow so if you follow me, I’ll follow back. I’m yet to use Pinterest but I am using StumbleUpon and it brings quite some traffic here. I’m also using Bloglovin though I haven’t paid much attention to it. I’d appreciate any tips or ideas to improve my social media.

3 VIRTUAL ASSISTANCE

In an attempt to get some extra cash so I can invest in my blog, I decide to pick up virtual assistance. For years, I’ve been looking at the possibilities of picking it up and now I’m in the world of blogging, I finally got the hang of it. I even got my first client after putting up a post on a Facebook Group asking for VA resources. Isn’t God great? I really like the job because I help people grow something they love and being a part of that is amazing to me. I do mainly social media, but I want to expand to email management, blog management and administrative support and I need clients for that. If you are interested or know anyone who is, feel free to contact me. My services are affordable.

4 ACADEMICS

For someone who loves education, academics never comes first in these lists. Anyway, I’m happy that I’ll complete my basic medical sciences on Friday as I write my NBME exams. Medical school is tough and I’m happy to be halfway through. After which I’ll start my clinicals hopefully and after approximately two years of rotations and some exams, I should be certified as a doctor. I’m keeping n open mind and my fingers crossed. I know God has great plans for me.

5 HEALTH

I completely stopped exercising and checking what I eat because I’ve had so much on my plate. Once this exam is done, first thing Monday morning after prayers is exercise. I added a lot and my tummy is a small pouch now. I really have to burn everything off. By next quarter, I should be a brand new person. I really miss the feeling of exercise and the near-death feeling that comes with it. Spiritually, I’m glad I was able to deal with some really pressing personal issues, never to come up again. I feel free and brand new. I know that by the end of next quarter I would be very far up from where I am now and I’m excited for it.

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Phew! That was quite a read. I hope you enjoyed it. II’m planning to start writing posts on relationships very soon. I have some things I’d like to share so be on the lookout. If there is any kind of post you’d like to see, you can comment and I look into it. I read every comment posted and it makes me so so happy ( I never understood this when other bloggers wrote it till now ). I’m also open to suggestions and tips to help me in any of these areas.

Thank you for being part of this amazing journey. God bless you all and keep you. Have a beautiful day and an awesome month!

What Kind of Influence are You?

Monkey see, monkey do. Thank God we’re not monkeys because if we had to learn everything we know by just shadowing the actions we see around us, Lord knows the disaster that would surface. At some point, which was when we were babies, it was a usual thing to imitate what we saw because our eyes were the most important form of communication after the mouth ( the oral stage). As we grew, we realized, things were not as black and white as they should be and everything that was done was not based on a set of hard and fast rules. Basically, different situation, different actions. Which brings me to this, what kind of influence are you?

Influence. The word itself has power. It is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself. People spend millions of dollars buying books and instructional videos to teach them how to gain influence. With influence comes power and with power comes the keys to the kingdom. I personally couldn’t care less about how much influence you have, a thousand or ten thousand, what do you with it. This question is what causes the general public to place so much pressure on the celebrities of nowadays that causes them to crack. Parents saying “my daughter looks up to you” and “my son adores you”, makes you want to always stay in line to always remain a good influence.

I am writing this because we need more and more good influences in our lives. While I feel like we should not put the burden of shaping our children and youths into the hands of those who have achieved fame for anything but being a good influence, I also feel like if you happen to be in such a position, it wouldn’t hurt to use your new-found voice to raise awareness on something. I am really grateful for people who from their little homes try everything in their power to make a change. I also happen to believe strongly in the butterfly effect, that the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, in reference to the chaos theory. A little goes a long way, and even if it doesn’t, you may have affected the one life that is required to create the explosive one you desire. We all know how a single tweet, no more than 140 characters can cause massive effects, how much more your actions.

Today is kind of #motivationmonday from me to you. Think about it. What kind of influence can you create. Is it speaking up about bullying, rape or just maybe raising awareness for that little cause nearby. Recommendation letters for the students nearby trying to get into one school or the other. They’re already on the right path and your influence could help them get there. I saw a blogger recommending blogs she liked for an affiliate program on a Facebook group and I couldn’t be more pleased,. All for free.

Even the simplest things matter, like your actions. Recently,a video of a guy separating a fight went viral, later he was honored for what he did. His action, turning the fight around and his very witty words raised public awareness and someone else used their influence to thank him publicly. Hopefully more and more youths will find fighting in neighborhoods with high number of fight outbreaks not cool and those who are scared of breaking fights, because it’s not their business will have a change of heart. Whatever and whoever, wherever you are, just please be a good influence.

To close, here’s this simply put by Ann Voskamp

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Time To Re-Focus

I may be talking to you. I may be talking to me. You’ll never know.

ANGER TRIGGER

Today is Monday, the first day of the week, and it’s the perfect time to do things right to make the week go smoothly. Yesterday, I got angry. Instagram changed its algorithm again and engagement on my page came crashing down to the floor. I have about 1.2K followers with an average engagement of 80-100 likes and 10 comments per post. It’s not much but I was proud of it. Now, it dropped to 20 likes per post, the comment section too embarrassing to speak of. To make matters worse, I was reading blogs on a group thread and I saw a blogger complaining of being locked out of her Facebook account; her stats dropped to about 75 per day, from 250-450 per day. She has had her blog for approx 42 days, just over a month. I was awed by her success, and curious. My quick guess was that she had put in a lot of work on social media promotions, and she attested to that. The best part was that her friends and family had no part in her success. It was all her.

RASH DECISIONS

Just after I finished praising her, and also sympathizing with her for her account loss, I became mad. Why didn’t I do as well? My blog is twice as old as hers with half the success; maybe one-third. I was sad and broken. Why did I have to fail so much? Everyone else seemed to be doing just fine. But was this true? I put in a lot of work into blogging and I have to juggle it with school and all, but that’s just life for you. Guess what I did? Since the anger started from Instagram, I went over to my unfollowers app and unfollowed everybody who didn’t follow me back. I saved some people because I really like their feeds but the rest, all gone. I also discovered that you could remove followers – that is people who follow you, that you don’t want anymore; you could remove them from being your followers. My reason was that I could not have over 1000 people who don’t care following me. I didn’t want my page to look like it was unreal, or that I bought followers. I was wrong.

I was simultaneously complaining to my friend about the drop and how I was just tired of trying to be appeal to people. He told me to take deep breaths. Then he asked me: “Why do you blog?”. “Because I love it”, I replied. “Then why did you remove your followers?”, he asked. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to say. He continued: “You started the blog to be an inspiration to people. If you want to inspire people, why take away the opportunity for them to be inspired. Now, they can’t see what you post, or hear what you have to say. Is that what you want?”

REMORSE

I became sad all over again. I had become so engrossed in the thought of getting to 10K followers with at least 5% engagement so that some big company can sponsor me and I can make a little change out of something I love doing. I forgot the main reason I started this and had become completely sidetracked. I felt really remorseful. I don’t know the usernames of the people I removed but I’m so sorry, wherever you are. My pride got the best of me and I let numbers define me. I was so concerned about statistics that I forgot that these were real people, with real stories, real joys, real problems, and real hopes. Yes, I want success but I don’t want it if it means selling my soul or losing my morals. The deals, sponsorship, and endorsements will come when they will and I’ll be right here when they do. I’m here to inspire and I never want to forget that.

FINAL WORDS

To you reading this, whatever you do, don’t forget why you started. Don’t sell yourself short. Like the song “I Hope You Dance” the lyrics say “When you come close to selling out, reconsider”. I hope you do reconsider. At school, work and your personal endeavors, never ever forget what your initial vision was . Only change for the better, not because of what you could get or what people say. Don’t ever forget it.

International Women’s Day Tribute

Today is international women’s day as we all know by now. So many articles of female achievements and hard work that has shaped the existence of the 21st century woman. Women have fought tirelessly and paid in blood and sweat for us to have the voice we have today. For that, I will forever be grateful. I have never been the strongest person I know but I rise to the occasion when necessary. I’ve loved being female and I always will.

Today, I want to speak about a woman who has had the most effect on my life. She’s affected me directly and personally. She’s my mum. It’s been almost three years since I left home and saw her face last. Today is dedicated to her, because without her, I wouldn’t be here to know that other women did amazing things to make a female’s life. I know that’s what mother’s day is for but I kept thinking of her today. She had me at a point in her life when it was not the easiest. She never complained, she never grumbled, she raised me through the most difficult times even when I was absolutely ungrateful because I mean what are children for?

She gave up so many opportunities for me, because I would have to suffer especially academically. I remember one job she got that was very far from home and would require her leaving very early and coming back late. She turned it down, even when her family members said she was being unreasonable. Her reason was that the area was rural and had no good schools which I would be attending since she would have to move there completely as the transport fare was expensive.

A lot has happened between my childhood and adult years. I’ve seen her make selfless decisions not just for me but for the people in her life that she’s come across. She’s always like a mother to people around her even when she doesn’t have to and the people in question don’t deserve. She fights for the rights of others and she’s strong even when she doesn’t have to. I just wanted to say I love her. With all her strictness and rules, I know she  did it because she loves me. I am the woman I am, because of her. I pray she lives long enough to see the fruits of her labour.

Here’s to supporting and empowering each other

Happy International Women’s Day. May we become the women we look up to.

Surviving Loss

Today was a different day for me. I worked with a nurse in the Family Medicine part of the clinic and after all the routine checkups of all the healthy babies, cute and plump looking and their mothers’ faces beaming with smiles, a different case walked through the door. I thought she was pregnant but she wasn’t. She had a Caesarian section two weeks ago. What happened was she was one week past her due date plus her baby was breached. The doctors were scared and decided to operate her to prevent complications during birth should labor occur. Unfortunately, water got into the baby’s lungs and the baby died. Why it hurt most? This was her second loss. Last year, it was due to her water breaking at 5 months and then she lost the baby.

I sat across her beside the nurse and wondered how it would feel to have such loss twice in row. She even said this was her first boy and she was excited as she already had two girls. I may probably never understand how she feels but what she said tugged at my heart. She said she’d be crying everyday in her bathroom. Being in the middle class, if not less, she didn’t have much support in this time. Well wishers even kept asking her about the baby which made her have to relieve the pain of her experience.What could she possibly do? I had to come home to read up on this. I was grateful for the nurse who was the sweetest most soft-spoken person I’ve ever met. She tried to calm her down and explain that it was not the doctor’s fault, because the woman had a belief that the doctors were careless. I know those doctors and they’re nothing like that but then she’s a grieving woman.

So in scenarios like this, if you have such loss, how do you cope with it? How do you survive? While I’m definitely not a therapist and I have no medical qualification whatsoever, a few things you could do are:

  • Express yourself – You should say how you feel and when you feel it. It’ll definitely help get things off your chest. Even if you don’t want to speak to anyone, talk to yourself. If necessary, cry.

 

  • Allow yourself to feel sad – It’s a necessary step in getting through grief. The trick is not to live there forever but in the meantime, do feel sad. It’s the reason why men break down so much, because they never let themselves feel sad, rather they feel they have to feel nothing to be strong.

 

  • Keep your routine up – Wake up, dress up and show up. A shower, a hair do, make up will help. Sometimes if you look the part, you may begin to feel the part.

 

  • Sleep and Eat healthy – You know, starving yourself doesn’t help because then you don’t have enough strength to cry. You may not have the appetite but you still have to eat and survive. It’ll definitely give you physical strength to recover.

 

  • Avoid Numbing – Like with alcohol or drugs, all you do is postpone the pain and when the high is gone, it’s still there waiting to be dealt with. Running away never helped anyone so work through it. You are stronger than you know.

 

  • Therapy – No. you’re not crazy, but the talk might help you more than you think, plus it’s a safe space where you won’t be judged for how you feel or pushed to do things you’re not ready for. Anyway, only do this if it feels right.

Loss may never be fully understand as we all deal with it differently based on out strengths but just know that no matter the loss, you can always survive it. It is my belief that time heals wounds and God in his infinite mercy, gives us the grace to carry on.

 

 

Solitude: Loving your own company

This is an old post I wrote sometime last year. Now in honour of all the singles in this “lovers month”. Enjoy!

Single. Solitude. Alone. One. Scary  right? All our lives we’re brought up and taught to seek and keep company. Good or bad, the choice is usually ours to make and we’ve always made the same choice, Company. Thanks to social media today, we now not only have to prove ourselves to those physically around us but to those from across a platform whom we’ll probably never meet. Now, in the eventuality that you’re not social media crazy, how about everyday life? Being a young adult, discovering who you are is thrilling and it’s more often than not time for fun, socializing and interacting. We definitely do have a lot of fun, from relationships to everyday friendships, usually back to back, due to modifications of a basic triangular life.

Take a second to ask yourself: “Have I ever been truly alone by choice and didn’t feel like it was wrong? Or felt the need to fill up the ’emptiness’?” We spend so much of our time with people, among people and sometimes even trying to be other people and we end up losing ourselves. Even when we’re out of relationships, we are never really single. Do we appreciate the alone time we get? Because most times we end up having one person we ‘talk to’ and there’s actually never a time where we’re not obligated to something or someone.

Give it a thought, how about a day out to have fun, something you’d usually do with someone but now, alone. A night out, a dinner date with yourself, a walk, a trip, staying single after a relationship  or even that thing you’ve always wanted to try but you’re slightly embarrassed about or too scared to do. You’ll never know till you try.

The value of company nowadays is slightly overrated and we’re no longer allowed the luxury of choosing how to spend our time. We’re constantly being judged and unconsciously we’ve developed a habit of putting up a front that would be acceptable by others so we can fit in. Being always alone is never a good idea but so is always being in people’s company. Nowadays we are blocked out by the walls we’ve spent years mastering its architecture, surrounded by people and deeply alone. It’s not such a wonder that depression is on a steady increase. I’ve met people in my life who can’t function if they’re not in a group or in a relationship and ‘attention freaks’ would be a nice way of putting it. They hop from circle to circle helplessly , unable to function as an individual and often needing others to pick them up every now and then. Others would rather endure uncomfortable and non conducive friendships because they don’t want to be on their own which eventually become toxic to their lives.

Speech is silver, silence is golden. Once in a while, enjoy golden silence. I  do agree it would seem awkward at first and you might get stares from strangers because we’re not accustomed to seeing people alone in situations they usually wouldn’t be in, but at the end of the day you might appreciate it or just really hate it In all, our lives should be a reflection of all we’ve been through, the people we’ve met, the impact they’ve made in our lives and the influences they’ve had on the choices we’ve made but our persona should be the basis and the rock of it all, being able to stand when everything else is taken away.

By choice or by chance,  we should cherish the times when we are single, when we’re not tied up in a relationship, to siblings, parents or even pets because in a week, a month or even in the next second, the moment is gone… and those moments are when we really, truly find ourselves.