30 Things to Let Go of By 30.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

George Eliot

So much life to live…

For a lot of us, approaching 30 is one hell of a scary thought. You’re probably freaking out and obsessing over the assumption that time is running out to reach all of your dreams and goals. How many of you have thought to yourselves “By the time I’m 30, I’m going to be married with children, live in a gorgeous home, have the career of my dreams, and take annual vacations to exotic places with my family.” No? Just me? Fair enough. But I can almost guarantee that the majority of you have set unrealistic goals by the time you reach 30. Or perhaps, they aren’t unrealistic at all, but you feel you have not or may not succeed within your forsaken deadlines. I can understand the anxiety over welcoming a new decade of life. It’s almost like you’ve been walking through life half asleep and received the most disrespectful wake-up call of your existence. Life smacks you upside your head and tries to warn you that you really don’t have as much time as you initially believed. Because that’s the thing about time- it keeps moving. We have to be legitimate adults now, right? However, this does not call for a pity party. I see it two ways: Either you grab life by the horns and go after what you want or you drown in your own misery and worry.

So I hope all of you are in agreement that Option 1 is the ONLY way…

If not, bear with me. Your 30s don’t have to be the nail on your coffin. Believe it or not, your life is not over! You can actually be proactive in ensuring that this next decade of life is not only enjoyable and filled with happiness, but equally productive as well. So before I move forward, take a deep breath. Let go of your avoidance. Grant yourself patience (and me because this is a long read!). And be open-minded of the list I am about to provide you- 30 things to let go of by 30.

1. Your Comfort Zone.

29 was a huge “coming of age” year for me. I went through a massive transformation which included many harsh realizations and heartbreaks. In return, I was pushed…well, dragged (kicking and screaming, by the way) to find the silver linings within it all. One of those silver linings was realizing that I could no longer remain in my comfort zone. Ladies and gentleman, this is why this blog even exists in the first place. Stepping out of my comfort zone has allowed me to become a guest columnist for a local magazine. It has allowed me to be open and vulnerable about my inner demons. It has allowed me to connect with so many others on such a deep, spiritual level. It has even allowed me to attend a company retreat in France and present my article to my colleagues about this very topic. So when I tell you, stepping out of your comfort zone is such an amazing step in the right direction, please believe me.

2. Constant Need to Stay Connected.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in our phones these days. I’m guilty of doing the same, so no shame towards anyone. But at some point, we have to learn how to disconnect. You do not have to post everything you are doing (yes, pictures of your meals for IG are included in this statement) on social media. Cherish some memories for yourself and focus on living in the moment. You do not have to respond to your loved ones’ texts immediately. You do not always have to answer someone’s call right away, or even call back immediately if you are not in the mental space to do so! I personally like to leave my phone on silent at all times and tend to put my phone away from me as I start to wind down in the evening. Why? Well first of all, I get extremely anxious with all the notifications I tend to receive. And second of all, I’m adamant about disconnecting at least a couple of hours per day. It is the best form of self care I can give myself. I’ll read a book or draw a warm bubble bath or sip on a glass of wine while I mindlessly scroll through Netflix and catch up on some shows. The opportunities are endless!

3. Unmet Expectations for Others.

Have any of you read ‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz? It’s literally one of the most enlightening books I have ever read. Without giving too many spoilers, one of the agreements is not take anything personally. In a nutshell, what others do is not because of you. You can also think of this on the flipside, that what others do not do is not because of you. This simply means that if someone has fallen short of your expectations, do you truly believe it was done with intent and purpose towards you? How others treat or react towards you is a projection of their reality, not your own. Once you become immune to the actions of others, you release cycles of suffering. It is okay to hold a standard for how you want the people around you to treat you. But to dwell and take it personally, no. This is why I believe expectations of others should be thrown out of the closest window you can find. Seriously…find one now. Wish those people well and keep it moving.

4. Dismissing your Mental Health.

This idea has been a slap to my forehead lately. As much as I advocate for mental health, I am ashamed to admit that I have never been to therapy. And trust me, I’m way overdue for it! Last year became this big, neon sign that kept directing me to focus on my mental health. Slowly, I have been taking the necessary steps. And at 30 years old, I can no longer ignore the issues I seemed to have never got around addressing. Therefore, I am looking into therapy this year and I am nervous, intimidated, and excited, all at the same time. So if you feel that you have been neglecting your mental health, it is never too late to start taking the steps to improve your situation.

5. Horrible Eating Habits.

As important as mental health is, physical health and your overall well being are just as important. Once you hit 30, your body does not operate the same it would have in your teens and twenties. It becomes harder to remain healthy. And so, you have to work harder at maintaining your health. This includes your eating habits. From 30 and on, you become prone to weight and fat gain, high cholesterol, higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, and so on. At this point, you should probably start viewing your body as a temple and become mindful of what you place inside your body. Unfortunately, this may mean no more late night runs to Wendy’s and getting the 4 for 4. Insert sad sigh. Personally, I have been focusing on my eating habits and recently made the decision to become a pescatarian, meaning a diet with no meat and only fish, along with other plant based options. I’m on Day 23; so far, so good.

6. Personal Timelines.

This is our enemy!! It feeds our inner critic and has the audacity to tell us that we are only valued by the work we put out into this world. It’s a lie and we have been conditioned to become slaves to this idea. It is healthy to set goals for yourself. It is healthy to devise a life plan and set out to accomplish it. However, it is NOT healthy to remain shackled to these timelines. Life is a constant rollercoaster and will not always work in your favor. So if you find yourself making certain goals with timelines, and feel that you are not accomplishing them, which in turn provokes feelings of unworthiness, throw the whole timeline away. I’m going to say it again: Your value is not dependent on your work!

7. Unauthenticity.

I cannot stress how important it is to let go of this. It takes way too much energy and effort to pretend to be something you are not. And 9 times out of 10, others will see right through your bullshit. But besides others noticing, imagine the damage you are inflicting on yourself for not being authentic. You may be scared to show your true colors. You may feel judged or misunderstood. But nothing is worse than not remaining true to yourself. Allow others to get to know the ‘real’ you and make their own judgment. If they are not accepting of you, then this simply means that they are just not a part of your tribe, and that’s okay.

8. Procrastination.

Not to alarm you or anything but we’re not getting any younger. What exactly are you waiting for? Want to start a business? Do it. Want to travel overseas? Do it…well, maybe wait until the whole coronavirus is settled. Want to start a new career? Do it. Do everything and anything your heart desires that will bring you closer to achieving your own happiness, autonomy, and success. Procrastination will only hold you back from progressing. There is never a better time than now to do it.

9. Tired Excuses.

I am a stickler when it comes to accountability. This can cover a range of circumstances. Whether it is excuses as to why you cannot do something or excuses to explain how you are not in the wrong. Whatever your excuses and reasoning behind those excuses, just drop it. All this energy that you are exerting for excuses to defend an action of yours, or lack of, could be channeled into motivation for finding a solution for progression. Admitting to yourself that you hold power in the choices you make is a God given right. Sometimes this means you have to look at yourself in the mirror and truly evaluate how you may be contributing to your circumstances. We don’t only have to grow in age, we can grow in our mindset as well.

10. Toxic People.

Dropping these is a whole mood. As you get older, you realize what you are willing to accept and not accept. This includes the people in your life. You will become wiser and more mindful of the energy released around you. And unfortunately, you may recognize that the people you once considered close to you, are toxic blood-sucking demons trying to keep you in a constant space of worry, hurt, and disappointment. Last year, I lost too many ‘friends’ for my comfort. But as I look back and reflect, I have accepted the fact that this was absolutely necessary in order for me to progress in my life. You pay attention hard enough and you will clearly see who has your best interest at heart, who is truly rooting for your success, and who truly values you and respects you for the role you play in their life. Vibes don’t lie, folks. Walk away from these toxic people and send them peace to continue on without you.

11. Acceptance.

It is basic human need to feel connected to others and accepted by all. But if you haven’t realized this by now, you will soon realize that this will not always be the case. Looking for acceptance from others will drag your spirit and keep it stagnant. Here’s a hard pill to swallow: Not everyone will like you. No matter how loving and nurturing you are. No matter how funny or intelligent you are. No matter how beautiful or talented or gifted or successful you are. No matter what you do, some people will just not like you. I’ll let you in on a little secret…has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Sometimes, your spirit will irritate the demons of others, and there is nothing you can do about it. My best piece of advice would be to focus on accepting yourself. There are only two people you have to face and answer to: yourself and God. Everyone else are opinions no one bothered to inquire about.

12. Irresponsible Spending Habits.

Being a responsible, financially stable adult, especially once you enter your 30s, is an important transition in your life. One of the top priorities, in my opinion, is to ensure that you are tucking away money for savings and emergencies. If you are spending ridiculous amounts of money and don’t have at least 1k stacked for a rainy day, please do better. Not for me, for yourself. Now, I do want to clarify, I am focusing on careless spending, not the necessary spending that is poured into your bills. Stop thinking small and spending large amounts of money towards drunken nights, restaurant dates, impulsive clothing buys, etc. You really don’t need a 150k car because it looks good for your image and promotes bragging rights. The compliments are nice but I promise you, at the end of the day, no one really cares what you are driving. Start thinking of a bigger picture- owning your own home, saving for retirement, working towards being debt free. That’s where the real freedom can be found. But of course, if you are spending large amounts of money on the items mentioned above, but can comfortably afford it and are able to save as well, then kudos to you.

13. Avoiding Conflict.

Conflict is inevitable. If you are afraid to address conflict in any area of your life, you are going to experience a difficult time maneuvering throughout your existence. Keeping quiet about what bothers you to keep the peace? Yeah, no. Don’t do it. It will only build resent inside of you until you finally explode because you cannot bear dealing with it anymore. Passive aggressive? Why? Be direct and confident in how you feel and what steps you want to take to resolve the issue. Communicate. Explain. Listen. Be honest. All tools for success in addressing conflict. As you get older, conflict only becomes more difficult to handle. Also, NEVER make assumptions. You cannot truly understand how the opposite party may feel until you ask for clarification. What you might have thought was conflict, was merely a misunderstanding.

14. Lack of Sleep.

Ever heard the phrase “I’ll sleep when I die?” Well, lack of sleep will speed up that process. It is vital to get at least 6 hours of sleep. Anything less than that on a consistent, long term basis will lead to higher risk of disease, high blood pressure, weakened immune system, weight gain, and even depression. Plus, let’s face it. Our 30 year old bodies can’t hang like they used to. Personally, I need a legitimate 48 hours to recover from one night of partying.

15. Over apologizing.

I was a repeat offender of this for a very long time and it is just now that I am being mindful in changing my approach on how often I apologize. I am the type of individual to say sorry if I breath the wrong way and I feel like I’m annoying you. Apologies should not come so frequently that you are doing it every other sentence. Over apologizing can lessen the significance of a sincere apology. If you arrive late to a function and find yourself apologizing, flip it around and instead thank the person for being patient for your arrival and their understanding. Furthermore, stop apologizing for circumstances that does not significantly impact another person’s life negatively. Stop making yourself feel inadequate and feed the need to overcompensate for your unnecessary guilt. In other words, boss up.

16. Destructive Behaviors.

Some of us have created coping mechanisms as an aide for survival, especially during the rough periods of our lives. I hope that all of you are capable of letting these go. Self-reflect, do some soul searching, and try to recognize why you react the way you do. Dig up that pain you had buried for so long. And work on developing healthy coping mechanisms. I hope those of you who take steps to developing healthy coping mechanisms have an amazing support system. Because it is not easy to do alone, nor should you have to feel that you don’t have support in making a positive change for your life. 30 is the year of self-love and care.

17. The Idea that Vulnerability is Weakness.

Being vulnerable and openly emotional is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it is the exact opposite. It takes great amounts of strength to openly express yourself and wear your heart on your sleeve. The idea that this labels a person as weak and overemotional, really upsets me. Not many people have your courage. Not many people have your sympathy and empathy. We have been so desensitized by society that no one knows how to handle authentic feelings anymore. It has become entirely too uncomfortable for the majority of people. And that’s not okay. Don’t bury your feelings. I am here to tell you that some of the most beautiful people I have met in my life proudly expressed themselves and were unapologetic about it. It’s okay to soften that heart of yours and share it with others.

18. Comparison to Others.

Comparison is the thief of joy. I know it may seem at times that everyone else is progressing in their lives and are so blissfully happy, while you remain stagnant and miserable. But honestly, people advertise what they wish to advertise. You never know what demons a person may be fighting behind closed doors. And you want to hear the craziest part? They probably feel the exact way towards you. We’re all so delusional and preoccupied with what other people are doing with their lives. Stop worrying about how the grass appears greener on the other side and learn how to water your own grass to your standards. We are all on different paths. Each designed to our free will and purpose. No need for comparison.

19. Grudges.

Ok, so if I am being completely transparent, have not quite mastered letting go of grudges. But I am aware that letting go of grudges and forgiving others for how they may have wronged you, is purely for the healing of yourself. It is not for the other person. Perhaps this person has tried to apologize but you are so deeply hurt and can’t seem to shake the feeling. Let it go. Let go of the resentment and pain. Keeping it bottled inside of you will not do you any good. Meanwhile the person who wronged you will continue to move on with their lives. Or perhaps, you never received the apology you felt that you deserved. Let it go. Live your life and don’t allow past tragedies to weigh you down.

20. That Job that Makes You Miserable.

Oh, man! I am hella passionate about this one. Once upon a time, I was in a job that did not see value in me. Not as a person, let alone as an employee. And it sucked. Bad. It affected my mental health in more ways than I can list. Everyday I felt like I was walking on eggshells, desperate to keep low and out of sight to avoid ruffling any feathers. But no matter how much I tried to showcase that I was indeed a valued employee, it would backfire and make my work situation that much worse. After a few months, I began feeling inadequate and starting questioning my worth and skill sets. Around this time I decided, I had to make my exit. And it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life! If you are in a similar situation, walk away. I know it is scary. I know you have bills to pay. I know you have a family to support. But if a job is taking such a great toll on you, how are you able to support your family without being in the right state of mind? No job is secure. We’re all dispensable at one point or another. So honestly, you’re not doing anyone any favors by staying in a job that makes you feel this way.

21. Fear of Being Alone.

Nothing is more satisfying than learning how to be content with your own company. Solitude can be one of the top forms of self-love. During your moments alone, you are able to experience introspection. Introspection truly allows you to get to know yourself and share the best version of yourself with others. Learn to find fulfillment and comfort within yourself and not place that responsibility on others.

22. Hating Your Body.

Do you realize how incredibly beautiful you are? Yes, you. Please don’t allow society to convince you otherwise. Those are not imperfections you are looking at. Those are stripes. Stripes and dimples of honor. Your body has carried your soul through life up to this point. And it keeps carrying on. It allows you to keep living. A vessel provided with the opportunity to truly seize life. Take care of your body. Feed it nurturing foods. Thank it for carrying you through life. Be gentle and remind yourself that your body is unique to you, beautiful in its own way. I grew up hating my body. Unfortunately, I was conditioned to think that my body was not only imperfect, it was undesirable. Until one day I realized how much beauty my body carries. Every curve. I hope you all find your own realizations about your body too.

23. Perfectionism.

Say it with me: No one is perfect. Ok, now that we got that out the way, let me provide more insight. Perfectionism creates unrealistic expectations. It will cause unnecessary anxiety. It will cause fears and doubts. Perfectionism will get in your way every time you attempt a new venture. It will prevent you from developing new connects and relationships. Why? Because you will be too preoccupied on how to do it the ‘right’ way rather than throwing yourself in the game. Grant yourself some grace.

24. Taking Things for Granted.

I’m sure most of you know that nothing lasts forever. But are you 100% aware of what this means? Every person, circumstance, situation, blessing, downfall is temporary. Make sure you are holding your loved ones just a little bit tighter and longer. Tell them repeatedly that you love them. Be thankful for the small things, as one day, they will appear as the big things. Express gratitude and let it overpour. Nothing is this life is guaranteed or promised. So while the going gets good, allow the gratitude to take center stage.

25. Control Issues.

For those who know me…don’t come for me! Lol. I am a work in progress, so no… have not quite accomplished this yet. But I am aware and acknowledging I could use improvement in this area and that’s a good first step…right?!! Life has proven to show me how unpredictable and messy it is capable of getting. And each time I am reminded how insane it drives me when I am unable to control a particular situation. So my advice to you would be let go of the reigns and let flow. Don’t cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something that is out of your power.

26. Doubt.

People will only believe in you as much as you believe in yourself. Law of attraction. What you put out into the universe, it comes back ten-fold. So if you are putting out all of your doubts and insecurities, how could you possibly expect fruits for your labor? It starts with believing in yourself. It starts with putting yourself on a pedestal and becoming your own cheerleader. You are fully capable and worthy, so stop holding yourself back.

27. Lack of Skincare.

Honeeyyyy. When I tell you that beautiful skin will not last forever, please listen to me. 30 is a great age to start incorporating new techniques and products into your skin regime. And if you’re not sure what that looks like, allow me to coach you. Wash your face before bed, ALWAYS! Please don’t leave makeup on from the day and sleep with it through the night. It will cause your skin to age and no one wants premature wrinkles. Exfoliate at least 3 times a week. Get all of those dead skin cells out and allow your skin to feel rejuvenated. Toners are your best friend. I personally like to use witch-hazel because of how natural it is. Face masks are amazing and leave your skin silky smooth. And last, hydrate, hydrate, HYDRATE. I like to use a tiny amount of rose hip oil and mix it with my moisturizer. Also, please use sunblock before you go outside or find a moisturizer that includes SPF. You’re welcome (you’ll thank me later).

28. Waiting for the Perfect Moment.

It does not exist. The end.

29. Following Society’s Ideas of How a Relationship Should Be.

What works for your relationship, will not work for others, and vice versa. I think the most perfect example I can think of is Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. They have been married for many decades and have found happy mediums and standards that works for them and their relationship. A lot of their views seem radical to some. But I do have to admit, they seem incredibly healthy and nurturing towards one another. Don’t allow others to meddle in your relationship. As long as the both of you are happy and committed in your relationship, that is all that matters. Tell everyone else to mind their business and kiss your ass!

30. That You Will Never Find Your True Love.

Love has no timelines. Some people are blessed to find their true loves early in life, as others find their true love as they reach their senior years. But both scenarios lead to happiness, so what’s the rush? This does not mean that you are not worthy of finding someone to love you the way you deserve. This does not mean you will never experience what it is like to be in love. And it definitely does not mean that your life won’t feel fulfilled until you find someone. What it does mean is that you have the advantage to truly cater and nurture yourself in the meantime. A preparation stage, if you will. I can almost guarantee that a love you find once you have learned to fully love yourself, is the most gratifying of all.

So, you see, turning 30 is not that bad…

It’s actually pretty exciting and from what I hear, some of the best years to come. Embrace it. Welcome the changes and seasons. Welcome the opportunities to learn and grow. Welcome the light at the end of the tunnel of truly accepting and loving yourself wholeheartedly. Hope everyone is having a wonderful day and if you have any feedback, would love to hear from you!

Check out more content on Instagram at ang_meets_soul ❤

Travel Series: Wanderlust takes France

“Better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.” ―Asian Proverb

Whenever I think of France, I think of the city of Paris. Paris was the goal, initially. But you cannot want what you do not know, and all I knew of was Paris. Of course, I would love to see the Eiffel Tower, shimmering in the night sky. However, when a company you work for offers to send you to France to present a topic on one of the articles you’ve written, all expenses paid, you jump on that opportunity! So that’s exactly what I did. I had no idea what to expect, or what part of France we would be. Honestly, I didn’t care. All I knew is that I was grateful to have this opportunity. As a matter of fact, this trip taught me the art of gratitude and the beauty of disconnection. I will admit that this trip was far different than any of the other places I’ve traveled. A pleasant surprise. But more importantly, this trip taught me what it really means to step out of your comfort zone. Ironic- that was the topic I was presenting while in France. I had no idea that I would be pushed even more outside of my comfort zone than I already had prepared myself to do.

Our flight was on a Monday night at 7:45 PM. I was traveling with my manager and her husband. While waiting to board the plane, I overanalyzed my presentation and wondered if it was up to par to present in front of other people, let alone to my colleagues. I wondered if I would remain poise during the presentation. This particular topic meant the world to me because I was currently living it. My life had changed so drastically over the past year, that I am barely recognizable to myself- and it’s great! But still, I wondered if I would be considered ‘good’ enough. I am one of the youngest in the company, so it can be a bit intimidating. Finally, we boarded the plane and I prepared to settle into my seat. After 10 hours, 2 movies, and in and out of the worst sleep I’ve ever endured, we landed in Frankfurt, Germany for our layover. What seemed like a short wait, we then proceeded to board the plane to head to Toulouse, France. So I thought Toulouse would be our final destination, but it was not…in hindsight, now I know why we rented a car. We drove two hours to the small, quaint town of La Salvetat-Peyrales. Way high in the mountains, where civilization is questionable, stores are borderline non existent, with dirt roads lining miles of land, and not one sign of a street light lol. Turns out that one of the big bosses in the company bought a house in France with her husband about 5 years ago after finding it during their honeymoon. Honestly, the house is stunning and very much reminded me of my favorite Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast. When Belle sung about ‘this poor, provincial town’ she was talking about here. But I do not mean one ounce of disrespect. It is a very simple lifestyle filled with beauty.

The house came with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 kitchens, an outdoor sitting area overlooking a pool, an upstairs lounge area placed outside of the house, and a family room. Some of us were able to stay here, while the rest of us stayed in a cottage about 15 min. walking distance down the road. I was one of the guests who did not get to stay here, but day in and day out for the next 6 days, we spent the majority of our days here presenting, strategizing, and taking trainings in an attempt to better the company and keep it growing- very cozy and family style. Which speaking of the cottage, I know the country life is not for me for the simple fact that it is way too dark and quiet for my liking. Every night while I was in France, I barely slept because I felt the place was either haunted or there would be some crazed killer out there to get me!

We arrived to the house around 5:00 PM where I met the gracious host for the first time. Between the 6 hour time difference, the long flights, and the long drive over here, I could have used some perking up. And that is when we were greeted with glasses of champagne and wine lol. One thing this trip allowed all of us to do is BOND. And I’m not talking that fake kind of bonding where you try to impress one another and hide all evidence of any flaws. Throughout the trip, we got REAL. And I realized in these moments that I DO NOT work for a conventional company- I loved every minute of it! France has a tradition called apéro which means cocktail hour, served with drinks and small appetizers. We celebrated apéro each day we were there so I ate and drank A LOT. The first night there, while enjoying the cocktail hour outside in their hosting area, I couldn’t believe my surroundings. Candles lit everywhere, a cozy fire burning, and GREAT red wine (I don’t even drink red wine like that unless it’s sweet). Total vineyard vibes.

The next few days we dived straight into work. There was not much sight seeing throughout the week, but in our off hours, we gathered together drinking more wine and champagne, and eating more food lol. This was definitely a social trip, for sure. I was worried I would be pre-judged and stereotyped (which was very possible, since I decided it was perfectly ok to wear my Poetic Justice hoodie with an enlarged picture of Tupac on the front lmao one time for the culture though!) After my experience with my last job, you could say I’m scarred but it was the complete opposite. Everyone was so authentic and encouraged one another to do so. So many jokes and laughs. But anyways, back to the food and drinks!

This is common drink in South France. It smells of black licorice and is definitely an acquired taste. Usually served with one ice cube and diluted with water because it is STRONG. But by all means, if you feeling froggy…

A lot of pork is eaten in France from various hams to salamis to bruschetta. The French also consume a lot of bread, olives, and various vegetables such as tomatoes and lentils. However, all produce has to be in season. Nothing is imported to France, so all produce is locally grown. If it is not in season, it does not exist to eat or sell.

A fig picked from a tree in the host’s backyard

We did venture out to a few restaurants where we ate authentic French food. It was definitely an adventure trying to decipher the menu and then order the items in French lol. Google was my best friend throughout this trip!

We went to a restaurant called L’oustal del Barry. As you can see the portions are much smaller than we are accustomed to in the U.S. However, these are three course meals- appetizer, main entrée, and dessert. Add that with wine and bread and trust me, you’re good and full! I ordered the ravioli, lamb, and a Nutella mousse cake.

When we weren’t going to restaurants, the host was cooking at the house. One of my favorite meals while there was the duck confit. If you’ve never tried duck, you’re doing yourself an injustice. Although I have eaten duck in the U.S before, I never tasted duck so amazing than I did in France.

Duck confit with spinach salad, lentils, and bread…of course!

Another item I tried was unpasteurized cheese…and this is not sold in the U.S. because it is considered unsafe to consume raw milk cheeses. But it is the best tasting cheese you will ever taste in your life!

In France, dessert IS THE LAW. Don’t ever turn down a dessert in a restaurant. I did that once and they looked at me as if I committed a crime. An honorable dessert mention was banoffee, which is basically banana foster pie. SO DELICIOUS…

As the week wrapped up, work slowed down. It was Friday and my presentation was pushed to Saturday due to all of us running behind schedule. In addition, we had to drive two hours to the small village of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon, where we would tour the Roquefort Caves. Legend has it, that after the Combalou Mountain collapsed and parts of the mountain disintegrated into a giant, chaotic heap of rocks riddled with natural faults and caves. These caves were ingeniously adapted for the purpose of cheese-making. Yes, I said cheese making. Fleurines, which are small tunnels that run throughout the caves makes it the perfect temperature and humidity to develop Roquefort cheese, with the help of microorganisms such as penicillium roqueforti. These caves have been transformed to a cellar that now holds as many as 300,000 loaves of cheese at a time. They had samples of the cheese, in which I tried, but it was a bit too strong tasting for my preference. This cheese is for the brave.

Saturday approached and it was the big day for my presentation. I wish someone could have recorded me or taken pictures. Everyone was so wrapped up in my topic and I had their undivided attention, which is great! My presentation included thought provoking questions that helped others realize the benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone. I got amazing feedback and was not mentally prepared AT ALL for how emotional my presentation made everyone. It was a room full of 10 people and not one person was dry eyed. I had stirred something in them emotionally and one by one, they started confessing things they felt they have held themselves back due to staying in their own comfort zones. It became a roundtable discussion with raw and honest answers of circumstances they struggled with. Each one would start crying as they openly became vulnerable and in return, provoked me to cry as well. But it was not until one of my colleagues opened up about her desire to be married with kids. That she felt she held herself back from finding someone to share her life with. That she feels she will spend her life alone. As she approaches her 30th birthday, she feels she has failed in this area of life. And I thought to myself, “maybe she has valid points, or maybe it’s just simply not her time yet.” And in that moment, I felt the need to share a painful truth of my own- the loss of a child. I didn’t share to be pitied. Honestly, it’s been one hell of a journey and I owe it all to my baby in heaven. If it wasn’t for me going through that situation, I would have never had the courage to write again. I would have never had the courage to leave my job and fall into a better one. I would not have the courage to submit my work to a local magazine and score a guest column. I owe everything to my angel. Sometimes, it is just the timing. Sometimes, we need the time and certain situations to happen to force us to learn and grow through. So that’s exactly what I told her. That her time will come, just like it will for me when the timing is right. And then we cried some more lol. I was so raw and vulnerable and yet, somehow poised. I was authentic and I caused others to take a deep look within themselves. Everyone raved so much about my presentation that I caught the attention of the CEO, so that’s an amazing feeling! I don’t want to overkill on this particular highlight of my trip but it was the main purpose of me going to France in the first place. I am just so relieved that not only did I execute it, I connected with my colleagues in ways I could not have imagined having the power to do so. A major accomplishment in my book.

After the presentation (and after we pulled ourselves together lol), we headed into the city of Albi, France for some more sight seeing. Albi was a charming city with streets lined with boutiques and restaurants. It was a nice change to see some civilization lol. We stumbled upon the Sainte-Cecile, a gothic cathedral dating back to 1280. It is considered the largest red-brick cathedral in the world. Every inch of the interior is decorated with extravagant tiles, gold leaf, and frescoes. You can visit the church and attend an audio tour for just 5 euros. It was definitely money well spent. Make sure you click on the slideshow to see inside 🙂

We had a late lunch in the city and continued to browse around in the small shops that paved the cobblestone streets. I was able to snag a cute shot glass that resembled a miniature wine glass, which seemed so perfect coming from France. The trip into the city was short lived and we headed back to the countryside to prepare for our last dinner spent together. We would all leave in the early morning. (Side note: in France, the majority of cars are manual aka stick shift. In order to get your license, you must be able to pass driving a manual before you can even think to be able to drive an automatic).

In the city square of Albi. I couldn’t help but capture this photo of these beautiful flowers splashed with the background of charming architecture.

France was not a typical wanderlust trip for me. I spent more time eating and drinking socially, connecting with my colleagues, and re discovering the importance of being present in the moment and putting my phone down. And in the nights that I spent alone in the cottage, I re discovered the art of solitude. I discovered that I am a force to be reckoned with. That I can stand powerfully in my truth and connect with others through shared pains. I learned that I have a voice. I learned that I never have to doubt myself again. This trip was for the soul. I opened up in ways that I have never allowed myself to before, especially when it comes to coworkers. I always felt I had to keep a certain level of professionalism. To prove that I am competent enough as a minority woman in what tends to be a white privileged corporate America. But the moment I displayed that authenticity, I was applauded. And I will forever carry that beautiful feeling in my heart. You see, often we think the action of traveling is meant to learn about the places we see and yes, to a certain extent that is true. But what about the things you learn about yourself being placed in an unfamiliar environment? I think this realization was my favorite part of this trip, after all ❤

Keeping Calm with ASMR

Any time I mention ASMR, I either get a puzzled or a disturbed look from others. Many people either do not know about ASMR or they have major misconceptions about the current fad that is becoming more mainstream, especially in commercials- just think of the 2019 Super Bowl commercial featuring Zoe Kravitz and a Michelob beer. Before a few months ago, I was one of those people who had absolutely no clue what it was. Initially mentioned to me by a close friend, I shrugged it off until I discovered that one of my Instagram followers had a YouTube channel for ASMR. Full of curiosity, I decided to check it out. Dougha ASMR was my first experience and I absolutely loved it! Btw, check out her channel (pic below) 😊 Haven’t looked back since. I can honestly say I watch at least one ASMR video per day. It has done wonders for my mental health.  

What is ASMR? ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response which provides tingling sensations in the scalp and down the back of the neck, as experienced by some people in response to a specific gentle stimulus, often a particular sound. Please note that these ‘tingles’ are not usually sexual, although some forms of ASMR has been extremely sexualized. These sounds are labeled as triggers and often promote relaxation, and has been known to help with anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Those who have gone down the ASMR rabbit hole, continue to rave about the benefits. So much, that these claims have caught the attention of several psychologists interested in conducting scientific research about the benefits of ASMR. Dr. Giulia Poerio of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Psychology conducted a study and found that those who engaged in ASMR reported feeling relaxed, as well as feeling more positive and socially connected. There were also reports of decreased heart rates and increased endorphins in brain activity. These findings are comparable to findings of stress reduction techniques such as meditation. However, not everyone experiences the phenomenon of ASMR.  Scientists believe this is due to neurological nuances between different people, as well as some personality parameters. Stephen Smith, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Winnipeg, conducted a study in which 290 individuals with ASMR and 290 matched controls completed the Big Five Personality Inventory. Research showed that people who experience ASMR demonstrated significantly higher scores on Openness and Neuroticism, and significantly lower levels of Conscientiousness, Extraversion, and Agreeableness compared to matched controls. What this means is that if you experience ASMR, you tend to be more creative and have a broad range of interests, along with being more likely to experience sadness and anxiety. On the flipside, you are more likely to despise set schedules and often feel exhausted after socializing. There’s a whole science to it!

Speaking of triggers, I have a few I am found of. I really enjoy personal attention ASMR, the kind that tells you positive affirmations and how much you are appreciated. There are even some videos that do reiki cleansing and alleviate headaches; LOVE them. I also enjoy scratching sounds, especially when it is mic scratching- it literally sounds like howls of wind. And then there are some triggers I DO NOT like, like the videos of people eating excessive food, formally known as Mukbang. This was originated in South Korea and has grown popularity in the states. I noticed that when you search tags on IG for ASMR, Mukbang is what usually comes up. I can tolerate a video or two of it, but after a while, all of the mouth and chewing sounds makes my stomach turn. There is so much more than Mukbang, trust me! Some suggestions I have for ‘ASMRtists’ is Gibi ASMR- the queen of mic scratching; Karuna Satori ASMR- I love her reiki cleansing and fixes for insomnia; Batalas ASMR- she does a lot of fast and aggressive triggers which helps me concentrate hardcore; and of course Dougha ASMR- who opened my awareness with ASMR and has a really dope roleplay video for Cranial Eye Exam. For kicks and giggles, you can also find a video of Cardi B doing ASMR; I have to admit, I’m pleasantly surprised at how good she did.

ASMR is not for everyone, but I hope I have been able to shed some positive light on it. I have nothing but positive things to say about it, even when my own friends shun me and say I’m weird for enjoying it lol. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask away! I am not expert, but I am interested enough to dig around and find some research on it. Thank you for reading and happy Hump Day!