Looking for helpers during the pandemic

After weeks of social distancing, quarantining, staying home as much as possible, an overload of information on social media, and daily news briefings, it’s not uncommon to feel tired, anxious, restless, and just plain unsure.

As a journalist, I’ve been getting weary of writing COVID-19 stories at times. Brene Brown recently said that everyone is handling the pandemic in different ways, but collectively, people are tired— physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.

In challenging times, I am reminded of the quote by Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” It’s a quote that still resonates today.

I’ve been able to look for the helpers in my job and report about some of the things that people are doing to help others during the pandemic. Many people are making face masks for health care workers and donating hospital gowns or other protective gear to nursing homes and others have donated food and time to serve community members.  

There are endless stories of people helping others and I’m choosing to focus on that and look for ways that I can help when the weariness kicks in.

How are you doing? what helpers have you seen during the pandemic?

A conversation with Bob Goff

Bob Goff is the New York Times Best-Selling Author of Love Does and Everybody Always. But more than that he’s kind, loves Jesus, loves others, and helps people go after their dreams.

I had the opportunity to interview him recently and kept my cool on the outside, but inside I was fangirling. If you’ve read his books you understand he’s a gifted storyteller and I was honored to be able to hear some of his stories in person.

Bob discussed the power of love, availably, and building character rather than career.

“Instead of telling young people what they should do, we should remind young people about who they are and then they’ll figure out the rest,” he says. “…I want us all to take a genuine interest in each other.”

He told the story of a women named Kelly who received a heart transplant and now travels the world climbing mountains with her new heart.

“But here’s the deal, her heart always thinks it’s at sea level so she had to figure out how to whisper to her heart,” he says. “I hope young people are reminded about whispering to their heart about who they used to be, who they want to be, and what they want to be remembered for. I want to remind people about who they are – that’s where it gets good.”

His biggest advice is to maintain childlike faith as you get older.

Maintain youthful idealism and enthusiasm,” he says.  

Some other takeaways:

-There’s power in availability. Bob printed his cell phone number in the back of his book. He believes there’s a power in being present and available to the people in your life.
-God doesn’t think less of you because you keep messing up. Failure is part of the process and it’s more about how God helps us keep going.
-We can’t fix what we don’t understand. Go deeper to understand who you are and what you want to do. That will help you be able to change the things you want to change.
-Use what you already have to get what you want. You are gifted with certain skills and character traits. Use them to get what you want and encourage others to do the same in the process.
-Your words can impact others. Words can change everything for someone and God made it so ordinary people can launch each other.

I walked away from the conversation with a smile on my face. Bob’s smile and laugh is contagious as well as his love for others.

Want to know more about Bob? He’s an attorney and the founder of Love Does- a nonprofit human rights organization operating in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq, and Somalia.

Learning to work from home

For the past two years I’ve worked remotely. I travel quite a bit on work assignments, but it has still been an adjustment.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about working from home. Be honest- did you just picture someone working in their pajamas, watching tv, and doing laundry and other chores whenever they want? You’re not the only one, but that’s not what it’s like.

I still don’t have it all figured out, but here’s what works for me.

1.) Create a morning routine

I can’t just jump right into work right away because my brain still needs to wake up in the morning. So each morning I read a devotion. I’m currently reading 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs. I then spend 5-10 minutes meditating. I like the guided meditations by Tone It Up. They are free online and really set the tone for the day. Click here for an example of one.

2.) Take breaks

If I don’t make myself take breaks during work I will sit at my desk all day. I try to take a 10-minute break in the morning and the afternoon. Sometimes I take my dog for a walk and other times I read a chapter or two of a book outside on my deck. Giving my eyes a break from the computer screen and my brain a break from work helps me come back to the desk refreshed.

3.) Create a welcoming space

I have a giant canvas photo over my desk. It was a gift from my brother and it was taken at Holden Beach, one of my favorite places in the world. I have a standing desk with a tall chair so I can sit if I want but I also have the option to stand. I have a globe from my grandma and some wedding photos in frames around the room. My office is in our guest bedroom and the windows are at my back when I work, so I also bought a floor lamp to light up my workspace (I found some cute décor at World Market and Target).

4.) Stay organized

There is something at home that makes it harder to stay organized. I purchased a desk calendar and a planner to keep organized. I have a lot of interviews and meetings throughout the week so the only way I keep them straight is with seeing them on the calendar and planner. I don’t like setting calendar reminders on my computer because I get too many of them and seeing them in writing on my desk keeps me on track.

5.) Shut the door to your office and walk away from your work at night

The one thing no one told me about working from home is how easy it can be to keep working through the evening. When you go into an office you physically leave the building and drive home at the end of the day. That doesn’t happen when you work from home. It’s so easy to continue answering emails and keep working into the evening hours without realizing it. I’ve made a conscious effort to stop working at a certain time, turn off the lights and my computer and walk away from my desk. I sometimes still check my email on my phone, but I’m working on it. 🙂

These are some of the ways that I’m learning to work from home and maintain that work-life balance.

What about you: do you work from home or have you worked from home in the past? What works/worked for you?

To the graduates

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Perfection is not attainable and the sooner you realize that the better you’ll feel.

You will fail. Learn from it and move on.

It takes time to get to where you want and that’s okay.Enjoy the process.

You may end up in a different place or career than youenvisioned and that’s okay too.

Stop comparing yourself to others. It only leads to youtearing yourself or the other person down.

God has this. Seriously, God is bigger than any worry or anxiety you have.

Spend time with your family and friends. Tell them how much they mean to you every chance you get.

Let it go. That time you said the wrong thing or had an awkward interaction doesn’t matter. Chances are the other person doesn’t remember it.

Ask for help. You don’t need to do everything on your own.Be there for others and when you need help ask for it.

Enjoy the now. It’s great to have an event or something tolook forward to, but don’t let that stop you from being present.

Don’t rush. You’re not behind and life isn’t a race. It’snot about who gets their dream job first, who gets married first, or who haskids first. It’s about enjoying where you’re at and recognizing everyone is on hisor her own path.

You don’t know everything. Most of us are limited to our own experiences. Talk to other people and learn from their experiences. Read. Travel. Learn.

Overall, be kind to others and yourself. Apologize when you need to. Have the courage to try something new. Learn when to say no to commitments. Invest in yourself. Hold on tight to those closest to you. There will be hard times- don’t let them make you colder. Find out what make you happy.

The best writing advice I ever received

Write what you know. But, don’t let that stop you from asking questions and writing about what you learn.

Read a lot. You become a better writer when you read what other people write and learn from them.

Write like you speak. It’s easy to put on a tone when writing and use words you wouldn’t normally use. While there is a time for that, it’s more refreshing and genuine to write like you speak.

Write short sentences. A meaningful short sentence is better than a long sentence with unnecessary words.

Find the time. For a long time I didn’t write. I was busy, I was tired, or I wasn’t inspired. Although writing can be hard, sitting down to write can be harder.

All I ask is that you do as well as you can, and remember that, while to write adverbs is human, to write he said or she said is divine.”

Stephen King

Keeping resolutions by setting intentions

Now that it’s almost March I started thinking about my New Years resolutions. This year I decided to set intentions instead of specific goals. My list includes:

  1.  travel more
  2. Be kind to myself and others
  3. Read more
  4. Write more
  5. Fear less
  6. Love fiercely
  7. Grow in faith
  8. Enjoy every moment and stop waiting for weekends and big events to have fun.
  9. Work on finding a balance between work and life

So how have I been doing? I’m happy to say that I’m working on all of these.

  1. I traveled to California last month and have a few trips planned this year.
  2. In my previous post I pointed out the importance of self love and extending the same kindness and grace to others.
  3. So far I’ve read 7 books this year and I’m reading two right now. I’m also getting ready to start a book club with a friend.
  4. This blog is proof that I’m working on writing 🙂
  5. For me the next three are all connected.
  6. I am a worrier and I’ve been working on that this year by choosing to worry less and spend more time growing in faith and prayer.
  7. Part of that is loving people and myself more.
  8. I am blessed to have a husband and family that love doing adventurous and fun things. I went to a Cher concert with my mom recently, I just took a trip to Chicago with my husband and we’re planning a family vacation. But instead of spending all of my time looking forward to these events I’m working on enjoying every single moment- even Saturday errands, grocery shopping, and lazy afternoons of watching Netflix. More time is spent in the small monotonous moments than in the big moments and that’s beautiful too.
  9. I’m still working on finding the balance. I used to think success was defined by long hours and burn out and that’s just not the case. It’s important to have both.

All of these are tied back to being kind to others and myself, spending time with my loved ones, and finding time for the things I love to do. It continues to be a work in progress but I’m enjoying the work.

What about you? Did you make any new year’s resolutions? Did you keep them? And if you did, what helped you succeed?

How you talk to yourself matters

“This shirt is unflattering– I look awful today.”

“I can’t believe I said that earlier, I was so stupid.”

In the month that is all about love, sometimes it can be easy to forget how important self-love is.

I am guilty of this.

I pride myself in being kind and supportive and would do anything for any of my friends and family. In fact I’m quick to offer grace and words of encouragement to others especially when they are down on themselves.

Annie had a bad day of work? Girl, you got this. You are an intelligent, capable, badass warrior princess.  

Heidi is frustrated with a series of first dates that haven’t gone anywhere? Love, you are such a catch and you are going to find someone who can keep up with your wittiness, intelligence, and humor.

Laura feels like she’s in a slump? Lady, you’re doing just fine. In fact, you’re doing more than fine and continue to multitask and work toward your goals with the best of them.

But do you think I talk to myself this way? Most of the time I don’t. I’ve become more aware of the way I talk to myself this year and am working on extending the same grace, kindness, and patience to myself.

I know I’m not alone in this.

Here are some things I’m doing to keep the negative self-talk in check:

1) When I think something negative about myself, I ask myself if I would say what I just thought to someone else.

2) If the answer is no, I acknowledge that I’m being hard on myself.

3) If it’s something I want to work on – getting in better shape, for example – then I remind myself to be patient and do small things daily to work toward a goal.

I think we could all be a little kinder to ourselves and I hope this helps if this is something you struggle with too.