New Site. New Design. All of it Moved!

Hello readers!!

I just wanted to thank you all for reading my blog all these years – even as I updated sporadically. Hah.

But I’ve seen purchased a new domain and created a new site to use. It’ll have all this content – and more! – but I figured it was best to do to have my own self-hosted blog.

So just pop on over : http://drivenbytatiana.com/

And I’ll be updating there from now on.

Thanks for hanging out with me here. I’ll definitely miss this site. *sniff sniff*

:D

Invest in Yourself

Cleaning-Tub-2

Cleaning-Tub-2For the past several months, the bathroom in my apartment had been incredibly disgusting. Having two room mates with varying levels of both cleanliness – the bathroom seemed to be on the bottom of the list when it came to proper maintenance. Aside from the lights blowing out one weekend, not much attention was given to its overall functionality.

But as someone who has grown up with a junky parent, I’m very sensitive to dirt, grime and disorganization. Bathrooms already gross me out in general because they’re rarely kept clean by patrons as any college graduate can attest to. When there’s no cleaning staff over the weekend and your fellow classmates can’t be bothered to throw paper towels in the waste basket – I would typically went out of my way to avoid a filthy bathroom, and this was no different.

While I had mused about getting a new shower curtain and liner in the past, I regularly hesitated because it seemed unfair that I should financially obligate myself to something that my room mates should’ve been invested in. Shouldn’t my room mates also be grossed out by the shower liner being discolored and shriveled? Am I the only one bothered by the bath mat being slick with grime?

But something clicked over this past week, and it got to the point where I simply chose not to bathe if it meant having to enclose myself in what seemed like a ceramic filth trap. So after volunteering this weekend, I quickly headed to the dollar store and snatched up some inexpensive shower essentials, cleaner for the tiles and went to work. I switched on the boiling out water as I sprayed and scrubbed – my arms immediately beginning to ache from the sudden onslaught of manual labor.

Painfully I reached up in the corners of the shower, excited that the grime my room mate thought permanent easily wiped off. Although a bit grossed out from the stray hairs left sitting around, I reached all the corners, all the walls, and made sure I could get as much dirt as possible off of the tub floor. Finally, after thirty minutes, I had accomplished the task previously unimagined – I had cleaned the shower. 

For several hours afterward, I’d walk by the bathroom, deeply inhaling the intense scent of the vinyl from the shower curtain. Randomly, I’d pop in, admiring my handy work, pushing the curtain aside so I can gaze at newly white tile.

As soon as my room mate came home, I pointed her in the direction of the bathroom, hoping to get accolades for my work. She seemed amused, and commented on the color. Then went about her business.

But I can’t stop thinking about it. I did it. I CLEANED THE BATHROOM. 

At the core of it though, I invested in myself. There was something in my environment that wasn’t in alignment with how I viewed myself, with the big picture of how I saw my life. I didn’t want to have the type of life where I refused to bathe because the shower was so gross. And instead of being upset that my room mates didn’t seem as perturbed as me, I chose to take on that responsibility of having my inner world (one of cleanliness) reflected in my outer world (a clean bathroom).

To invest in yourself means that you take steps to create congruency – is there a disconnect between what you’re thinking, feeling and doing? What can you do (think or feel) to create an alignment between yourself and your environment?

Investing in yourself can be fun, but it requires that you get over certain blockages and internal narratives – like how I felt that it wasn’t fair to be the only one concerned about the bathroom. In the end, of course, I’m extremely happy I did it and am on the look-out for other ways to invest in myself.

What about you? How did you invest in yourself today? 

Looking at Depression [Quest]

Whenever I become interested in something, I dive in pretty quickly. So when I began to follow some indie game developers online, Depression Quest – a game created by Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey and Isaac Schankler – popped up on my Twitter TL.

“Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday

Depression quEST

Depression Quest

life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment. This game aims to show other sufferers of depression that they are not alone in their feelings, and to illustrate to people who may not understand the illness the depths of what it can do to people.”

I struggled with depression for much of my life (if not its entirety). Things worsened rapidly in college where I seemed incapable of making friends, figuring out what I liked – while everyone around me met their BFFs in the second week and knew themselves pretty well. While my depression never kept me in bed, I did sleep a lot (due to boredom and loneliness) and it felt like a dense pressure weighing on my mind. Even as I tried to reach out, I was told that depression was a choice (it’s not), or having my issues completely dismissed by a college counselor (whom I promptly stopped seeing).

While I had never been officially diagnosed, and remained wary of popping any kind of medication – depression was the only word I could find that encapsulated all my thoughts, feelings and general reactions to my environment. Even as a child, I had depressive thoughts and reactions to things, and my mindset gradually worsened with age coupled with awful life experiences.

In no way do I believe that depression is a choice – sometimes it’s a chemical imbalance, other times it’s an accumulation of how you were treated growing up and the messages you received from family, friends, or strangers. Sometimes it’s a combination of all three.

I believe my depression was environmental + genetic : perhaps I was born more susceptible to depression (whether it’s brain chemistry or just how my emotions function) and where I’ve always lived (being treated poorly, not having any real support, etc). Depression, I think, is made harder to bear when you’re surrounded by people who won’t support you because they think you need to snap out of it, or you’re just being pessimistic.

Depression Quest is a really great insight into what it’s like to be living with depression (or at least one kind of it). To me, the narratives seemed to fixate predominantly on thought processes – feeling like you’re a burden to people, feeling like your problem is yours to bear alone, reading into everything and giving yourself a lot of anxiety. When I initially played it, I made sure to click all the options that let me work toward getting my character healthy, happy and whole. In the beginning, I could feel the depression pressing down on my body just from reading the thoughts and feelings, making me desperate to work toward wholeness.

And even with my own history, I still found it intensely insightful while also building my compassion.

Definitely worth checking out.

 

Rediscovering My 4C Hair

 

All 100+ individual locs I cut off!

All 100+ individual locs I cut off!

I had locs from  December 2008 until July 2012. Then, after agonizing over my decision for about 30 seconds, I cut off all my hair with a pair of scissors.

change and commitment by Amy at Grrrl Revolution

“This decision has been a lesson in commitment and going all in.  Eventually I had to stop wondering and criticizing myself, and instead take action.  We cannot make change – be it personal or social – if we don’t commit.  And sometimes commitment looks like a pair of clippers.”

When I cut off my locs over the summer, my hair was wet and deliciously curly from having washed it. It wasn’t just the length I adored, but the way it looked. I love curls – especially if they’re loose and make an excellent wash and go.

But it wasn’t long before I discovered what my hair was really like, though still soft my dried hair just looked like a puff ball. Almost immediately after cutting my locs – which weren’t looking all that great from lack of care anyway – I wore a hat. Even days after, I began to fret, being forced to deal with my frizzy and non-curly hair. But it was more than that – my hair was not wash and go. 

As someone who seeks to create a life of bare minimum physical upkeep, not only did this completely dampen my mood, but it highlighted that I just didn’t have the type of hair that I wanted. Even when I saw other black women with natural hair, theirs was long, flowing, curly, beautiful.

I kept wondering what the fuck? How come my hair isn’t what I want!? 

Then, last week, I discovered hair types and being able to give a name to my hair (and by extension, experiences) has given me the language to figure out WHY I never liked my hair.

It’s a 4C. 

At first, when my hair was longer (shoulder length), I still hadn’t known what to do with it. I wore a pony-tail throughout high school, stopping to get my hair permed once or twice. In college, I wore a silk headscarf for almost a year – with the occasional perm – before adopting locs that suffered from great neglect almost from the day I got them.

But now I know.

So now I have to make a decision: do I keep my hair super short so that I never have to worry about styling my hair or grow it out and figure out how to take care of it?

Honestly – I’m not sure. But not that I have more information about my hair type, I can make a more informed decision about what kind of relationship I want with it.

 

Being on the Outskirts

Almost everyday I’m reminded of not fitting in, not belonging.

dear one, what have you lost? by Arrianna Marie

“I am a wanderer. My life has been a sojourn. I do not feel that I belong in any of the places that I’ve seen, visited or called home.

Ducks

Ducks

Sometimes it feels like I’m enacting my childhood fantasies of running away. Other times, it feels like I’m chasing after something that I never had. Today, it feels like a loss.”

Even though I grew up with a parent in the military, I didn’t move a lot. I actually stayed in pretty much the same general area for much of my childhood though I lived in physically different addresses. Either way, constantly uprooting your life between a pair of divorced parents doesn’t exactly create feelings of stability or being rooted.

For ages – even now – I tried to find a spin on my constant upheaval. It seemed like I was never any place for more than three years. I attended the same elementary school, but went to two middle schools, two high schools and eventually two different colleges. After graduating I lived in 4 different cities in roughly 2-3 years. Sometimes, I feel as if I’m on the constant brink of change – everything is transient, nothing feels permanent, I’m always eager (and ready) to start over.

On one hand, I love traveling to various cities, meeting new people, gathering new experiences. Other times I look at people who’ve lived in one city, one house their whole lives. The type of people who go home and relive their childhood in its entirety because everything is just as they left it. The sort of person who can go back into their adolescent room, touch the walls and know exactly what poster they hung there, or what CDs laid tucked away in a drawer.

But to me… that’s unfamiliar territory.

As a teen, living with relatives, I endlessly fantasized about running away. I remember looking out my window, watching a city bus pass by and wishing that I had the courage to simply get on and take it to the last stop. Even now, I daydream about going to the airport, randomly picking a destination armed with nothing but my mind and my passport before jettisoning off to somewhere far and untouchable.

In many ways I enjoy enforcing solitude upon myself. It feels better to reject others before they can reject you. And rejection is something I’m all too familiar with – unable to create lasting bonds with college cohorts, struggling to feel connected to others in high school. Even now, I feel like I’m lost, drowning.

Where is my tribe? Do I have one? Do I even believe in them? 

For the most part, I can’t seem to get grounded, settled, secure. I’m always eager to leave, to be someplace new, even if for a few months. Sometimes I want to get rid of everything, catch a greyhound and just… start over. When I want to give myself completely over to the Universe, and trust that everything will be fine.

Belonging is an interesting concept – and one I simply don’t understand. I’ve never felt I belonged anywhere, although I felt that I would or should have. I guess that’s part of my problem – how can I feel settled if I don’t even know what settled is or what it looks like?

Instead, I’m going to make peace with being a wandering nomad.

Addiction to Failure

KeyThis post appeared in my inbox, and I just had to share it with you.

It’s (Not) Okay to Fail by Rebecca Thorman of Kontrary 

Part of the reason we are so obsessed with normalizing failure is that we want to feel good about ourselves. And that’s hard right now, no doubt. It’s hard to find a job, to get out of debt, to pursue meaningful work. It’s hard to make time for family, get away from our computers, and engage face-to-face. It’s hard not to compare our bottoms to everyone’s top on Facebook.

I wanted to save this last piece for the end of the week because I loved it the most. It reminded me of what I blogged about earlier this week about expecting good things. The very idea of courting failure, of encouraging others to do it reminds me of pessimism. Expecting bad things to happen.

But being addicted to failing is not just expecting bad things to happen, but to actively take steps to manifest worst case scenarios!

Why would anyone do that? 

Because many aspects of life are hard, and if you’re being honest, you probably don’t have much desire to put in more effort than you’re currently putting in. And many ways, life can feel overwhelming, or like they have no viable solutions. So if things don’t work out, then it’s okay because someone will always be there to pat you on the back and say that you tried.

Failure is boring. Failure usually means you didn’t try something; you didn’t follow through; you didn’t finish. Most people don’t really fail. They succeed at being lazy, and call it failure. But at least they tried. Er, right?

I know in my own life, the situations or choices that didn’t work out, failed because I wasn’t thinking clearly, I wasn’t doing what was necessary to get what I wanted. Basically, I wasn’t showing up for my own life and prepared to take full responsibility for what happened in it.

Purposefully failing, praising people for failing, is like saying it’s okay you didn’t show up for yourself. Not pushing people to want more out of themselves, out of others and life is disempowering. Expecting more and better for people is okay! It’s not a punishment to encourage people to want more, to do more, to push themselves in ways that’ll make them better, happier, and overall closer to their goals.

Persistence is important, because you learn not to give up when things get difficult. Encouraging yourself to think positively about your own success doesn’t mean that you’ll never run into roadblocks or issues. But, don’t expect yourself to fail. Don’t set yourself up to fail because you might be afraid of good things happening to you.

So expect good things, think about what you want and less about what you don’t want and be persistent in your goals. 

Realists Are Just Pessimists

Good Things

I found this really delicious, and admittedly mind-blowing, blog post via my Facebook earlier this week:

When things go terribly right by David at Raptitude

Good Things “There are no realists. Everyone thinks they’re being realistic. Nobody has an objective view of their thinking. Pessimistic thoughts feel realistic to a pessimist. Optimistic thoughts feel realistic to an optimist. If you think you’re a realist you’re probably a pessimist, because obviously you’ve found a reason to tone down expectations.

Expect things to go well. You don’t need a reason first.”

At first I thought I’d have this great examination of how this quote – specifically – meant to me. I’ve never called myself an optimist or a pessimist because I felt it was too binary, too either/or. Now, it’s so much more than that. It’s about how our thoughts influence our relationship to the world, ourselves and the people in our lives. It’s about how we don’t even realize we’re thinking about – even if it’s all the time – until someone points it out.

It feels rational to expect bad things to happen. Don’t go out at night. Don’t travel alone. The world is a dangerous world.  It feels almost normal to be so paranoid, fearful, unsure, living in hiding. Because that’s not just how lots of other people live, it’s how others expect you to live. So everyone is copying each other, not stopping to think that their thoughts aren’t really serving them, or helping them live more fulfilling lives. Because no one is objective about their thinking, and our thoughts change when we meet someone with a different mindset that I like better.

That’s what this quote makes me think of: the way it can be hard to pinpoint what’s wrong but then someone says it so succinctly, and you spot it instantly.

So am I afraid to expect the best?

And if so, why?

The biggest barrier I can think of is fear. Afraid that you’ll expect something that won’t arrive, or if it does, it’ll be awful. Afraid to want better things for yourself because you’re so used to how things are or used to be. I can understand that.

I know for me, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about worst case scenarios – almost daily. Oddly, it felt comforting since it had become so familiar. It’s what I knew. 

“I can’t believe how prominent imaginary bad outcomes were in my life. Most of my life was spent picturing every kind of disaster, from embarrassment to maiming, virtually of it habitual, draining and useless.”

And at the core of my Lent exercise this year is to switch up my thinking so that I can be open to serendipity, so that I’m not scared all the time and can start to view the [my] world with more positivity, with more openness.

That sums up the best advice I could give anyone: think a lot about what you want, and think only sparingly about what you don’t want.

Because, honestly, what do you have to lose?