Having it All Together

Dang it.

I dropped the ball and haven't written in a little while.

Apologies.

I've been busy with my job and moving into a new apartment. Yet, one day, when I still had one foot in my brother's apartment and one in my new studio, I slipped.

I saw my Facebook Newsfeed.

I don't usually do that.

I avoid my Newsfeed intentionally as I have discovered that I don't enjoy a website telling me what I am supposed to know about other people. If I want to see pictures of my friends I prefer them to be shown to me in person over coffee. Or in the very least, having been sent a particular photo directly because it holds some relevance for me personally.

That's not to say that I am not at times interested in the general shares of people that I know, but I am more than happy to seek that info out rather than just have it laid upon my virtual doorstep.

Perhaps I should go through and alter all of my newsfeed settings, but that is incredibly tedious. It's far easier to just avoid it all together.

Of course, the real reason that I don't want to view everyone's shares is that I find it incredibly unhealthy for myself. You know, the whole, "comparison is the thief of joy" concept.

I like to think that I have matured a whole heck of a lot with regard to that idea, but it's amazing how much I really don't want to know what is up with the vast number of Facebook "friends" I have that I no longer interact with.

This age of technology has seemingly pushed aside the forgotten art of losing touch. 

Really and truly. Losing touch is not a bad thing. It makes room for the people and places that are your present. 

That's not to say that you should lose touch with everyone. Some relationships are worth preserving and technology has made communication and interaction possible at a distance. Lovely. But I'm becoming more and more discerning with regard to whose lives I want to allow into my present day psyche.

I'm still figuring out what I want for my life and I have found that my desires can become tainted by viewing other people's choices if I'm not careful.

Yes, I am older and wiser than I was at 18 when this whole FB thing got going, but I'm not entirely confident that I won't be thrown off my rocker by attempting to keep up with the varied happenings and accomplishments of hundreds of people somewhere on the scale of acquaintance to friend.

I'm firmly in my late twenties now and I can say that my life is rather different from what I imagined as a teenager my circumstances would be at this age. 

There was certainly a time when I thought that I would "have it all together" by my late twenties. If "having it all together" by now was some figurative target, it didn't pan out.

Although, I'm not actually sure what "having it all together" truly means. Society tends to label it as financial success, marriage, kids, homeownership etc. Those kind of things. 

Those sort of things are great for a lot of people, but with the exception of the financial angle, they haven't been priorities for me while in my twenties.

And there it is. Surprisingly, after being sucked into a Facebook spiral that revealed that I can, indeed, still be caught off guard by the different life paths of old friends, I found myself having a bit of a revelation. Despite the many, many challenges, I've concluded that I'm kind of digging not "having it all together" quite yet.

I like the fact that I am a bit of a unwritten book. Everyone's story is still unfolding, but I'm pretty sure mine is still sorting out main characters and nailing down major plot points. I like that this is because I've got a multitude of interests, that I desire to pave uncharted territory and that I prefer a certain amount of unconventionality in my life. I enjoy the fact that I know what it feels like to have absolutely no idea how things are going to work out and to still be actively in the creating phase. I feel as though I have great loves and great adventures coming my way and while the uncertainty of it can be unnerving, I'm learning (ever so slowly) to trust in the process and enjoy the moment. 

Here I am. Creating my own undeniably individual course. One day at a time.

Having it all together

Granted, for all of my lack of "togetherness" I suppose I've managed to meet some expectations of "adulthood" and make progress. I've never missed rent (though there have been close calls), I've spent many years able to afford my own apartment without roommates, earned multiple degrees and grown to like who I am as a person a little more each day.

And I guess that is where the joy in my lack of "togetherness" lays: in feeling as though I'm still growing. Despite my lack of many traditional benchmarks, I look back at how I thought and behaved at 18, 22, 25 and recognize huge positive shifts. Despite my own surprise at being in my late twenties, I'm really enjoying being 28.

I realize, of course, that no one ever stops learning, even after "getting it together." Whatever that even means.

Every day presents new wins and challenges that stem growth and there is no such thing as having it "All Figured Out." Still, I kind of like being in a place where I can freely admit to being unabashedly ambling in the wind for a bit longer.

I see some lights at the ends of tunnels, which is necessarily reassuring, but I'm still learning how to combine separate tunnels into one giant chasm that allows for all my varied passions to be tended. 

I suspect that I am not alone in this. I think that my generation has experienced a large influx of unmet youthful expectations with regard to stability and supposed "American Dream" fulfillment coming at a young age. Those of us born in the 80's and 90's are being met with a different economic climate than those who entered the job market at that time. I'm not about to prattle on about student debt and unemployment as it is already being discussed at length by those with more education on the matter, but the point is that less of us are in our dream jobs, in committed relationships and feeling financially secure in our twenties. The technology boom, which has fostered increased communication, global interaction and entrepreneurialism, has presented us all with the wonderful ability to think outside of the box with regard to our livelihoods. With that, however, (and the aforementioned high debt and high unemployment) has come a shift in timeline for classic benchmarks. I rather like the fact that the checklists are being edited, but it can cause some internal struggle when society at large (especially older generations) still reinforce those guidelines. 

Hence, I write this to tell my peers and fellow comrades leery of Facebook-comparison not to judge ourselves so harshly or feel as though we have come up short. 

This is not an argument in favor of complacency, rather it is a suggestion to inject some kindness into whatever inner monologue is happening in our minds. Take away any previously held assertions and instead focus on our own happiness. Of all of the things to feel frustrated about, not meeting arbitrary benchmarks shouldn't be one of them. Sorting out life will always come with its unique set of complications and confusions so perhaps we can at least remove one unhelpful point of upset.

And even more importantly, for those who may "have it all together" let's be clear: you are allowed to still have crappy days. You are allowed to both love your life and be slightly envious of the freedom that can come with being a mess. You are allowed to one day wake up and decide that your current "all together" needs to change to a different version of togetherness. Just as we amblers are allowed to have the best of days (as well as the worst of days that lead to even better days). Amblers are allowed to both love the journey and sometimes shed salty tears of dismay. We are allowed to wake up one day and decide that our feet are tired and we'd like to hang our boots here for a while. 

ย 

Photos via Pinterest

On My Father's Retirement

Last week my father retired. He had been with the same company for 34 years.

34 years.

retirement ducks

That is almost unheard of these days. Staying with one company for that amount of time. 

Today, loyalty doesn't seem to be valued like it once was. Corporate management has transitioned to a new era of management style where the sense of "company as family" is lost and turnover is high.

Despite my Dad's modesty, it was revealed to me that he is a rather big deal in his industry. 

Amongst the changing tides of corporate cutbacks and general insensitivity to employees, the company that my father worked for threw him a retirement party. That alone was a big deal.

Amplifying the evening were the speeches, including videotaped messages sent in from prior colleagues currently residing in Europe, and the humorous, touching gifts. His coworkers made enlarged copies of past company calendar photographs (from back when they made themed employee calendars to give out to corporate customers-- they are HILARIOUS), a lamp that included a model catalytic converter and a cake that featured photographs of his plants. (The building "plant" not the vegetation.)

The most emphasized point of the evening was that more than being brilliant at his job, my father was a remarkably great man to work for/with. Apparently, my father was constantly espousing that work should be fun, that when people enjoy what they are doing and appreciate how they are treated, they work harder and better.

This is completely counter to the incoming management style throughout most of corporate America today. 

Hearing men and women talk about my father advocating this incredible life perspective brought tears to my eyes over and over. I was filled with such pride and love for a man that I realized had this entire work-life happening throughout my childhood that I was completely ignorant of. Not only did I feel blessed to be raised by a man with such a healthy, wonderful approach to work, but I recognized how little I knew was going on when I was young. I suppose that is a normal byproduct of childhood when our lives are consumed with our own schooling and pastimes, but knowing now the amount of pressure and substantial hard work he did constantly, I have a whole new respect for him. Yes, he maintains that work should be fun, but he still believes in doing great work. He was constantly giving presentations, overseeing projects and making huge contributions to his industry. 

I am a proud (and very fortunate) daughter.

Since yesterday was also Father's Day, I suppose there is no better time to honor the great fathers of the world. Here's to you.

Father's Day Quote
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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

In my 28th year

I turned 28 on Saturday.

Apparently, that is supposed to mean something. Some metaphorical turning of the page.

Our society is rather preoccupied with youth, aging, not-appearing-to-be-aging, and physical decay.  

It's bizarre, actually.

Besides stemming from a fear of death, why would aging be seen as such an awful thing?

If we are able to remove the deep-seated fear of death that most people carry, can we stop viewing birthdays as worrisome passage of time? What if we count our lives in lessons learned or experiences had? I want to keep track of fears overcome and the degree to which I have learned how to love. Those take time to accumulate, thus living (and aging) is beautiful progress.

We seem to assign certain expectations and common benchmarks to different ages, as if we are bound by these rules on a cellular level. Your choices are your own. You do not have to subscribe to the notion that you are ever too old to try new things, have adventures or make big life changes. 

I find it exceptionally funny, if somewhat strange and even a bit disheartening, that we seem to do this to ourselves at such remarkably (and increasingly) young ages. I remember having a bit of a crisis at turning 22.

22!

At the time, I felt as though I had surpassed all of the birthdays where I had new allowances to look forward to. 16 and a driver's license, 18 and a legal adult, 21 and legal to drink alcohol...they were all behind me. On top of it, with every passing 20-something year I was feeling stressed about meeting expectations that I had set out for myself.  

I was not yet working a job I loved. I wasn't where I wanted to be financially. And since I am attempting to do artistic and entrepreneurial things, there have been very few ways to measure my strides towards those goals. I felt frustrated and lost. 

Which is exactly why each birthday was vexing. It brought up the disconnect between my previous expectations and my reality.

It was all in my mind.

I invented the problem and I could just as easily allow for the solution. 

Let go.

Once I let go of my associations between a number and my story about what that represented, everything shifted. 

Tracee-Ellis-Ross.jpg

This is a relatively recent realization. 26 is probably when I started to recognize that I was being rather unkind to myself and perhaps I should cut it out. Granted, this isn't like switching on a light; where once it's on it's on. I still ponder about my age and my life each April, but these days I am able to (mostly) be an observer of the moment.  

Okay, so I do wonder if I'm starting to look older. I am firmly in my LATE twenties now. I still get carded at bars, but I have been curious about how my appearance has changed over the 8 years that I have been in my twenties. Luckily for me, Photo Booth exists.

If you were to look at Photo Booth on my computer (the made-for-selfie's application on Mac laptops) I would look incredibly narcissistic. And that makes me laugh. The good news about having yearly selfie sessions (that normally stay for-my-eyes only) is that it is a wonderful exercise in aging. 

Below, for your viewing pleasure (and perhaps just for a good laugh at my expense) is a collage of various computer selfie's from the past 8 years all mixed up. Besides the hilarious observation that I clearly prefer one side of my face to the other, and that I like to either prop up my chin or my hair with my hand, I think that it is remarkably hard to arrange the correct chronological order. 

Despite the overly self-involved nature of selfies, I think I will continue to have a solo Photo Booth session annually. I think it will be an interesting way to track myself over time and have some fun with the aging process.

Even making this collage has been surprisingly self-affirming. A welcome reminder that the passage of time is both compelling and rather unworthy of our apprehension.

Yes, I recognize that this is a collage of my twenties, not a collage spanning over multiple decades into middle age, but since I had already begun to agonize over possible unwanted changes, it is good to remember that the voices in my head that like to self-criticize are dumb.

When I'm 50, I hope to enjoy looking at my appearance from over the ages and see the beauty in each passing year. Hopefully, I will think back to the moments in my twenties when I thought unkind things about my appearance, remember how ridiculous that was, have a good laugh, and admire my wonderful laughter lines; appreciating that I had a marvelous time creating those creases.

And then I hope that when I'm 90, I look back on my appearance into my senior years, still seeing the beauty, and think back to when I was 50 and thought that I had laughter lines. But no, oh no, little did I know how much more laughter I still had ahead of me to really make them stick.

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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.

Seriously, How Old AM I?

I think I temporarily threw out my back yesterday.  Sitting in a chair.  WTF?! 

I have a newfound respect for the power of a chair to destroy a person. 

I was at the library.  (Yes, I hurt my back at THE LIBRARY.  Ok, seriously, how old AM I??)  Sitting in a, yes, god awful wooden chair for a couple hours straight, but I am 27! And I take good care of my body! (At least I thought so.  Maybe I need to get back into a regular yoga practice.)

I don't know what I did, but clearly I tweaked my back somehow sitting (in a definitively non-ergonomic chair) and abruptly my whole back was in pain.  On top of that I was suddenly overcome with nausea.  Not fun.  I remedied the situation by crouching in a hip opener pose next to the evil chair for about five minutes until the nausea and pain subsided.  I'm pretty sure the studious nerds at the table next to me were a little uneasy about the strange actions happening beside them.  (And btw, I'm not judging their studious nerd-ness, as I am clearly one of them.)

So how did this happen?  Well, for one, I did break my self-decree of getting up every half hour or so when studying, working on a computer etc and at least walking around for a bit or stretching.  But that mandate easily applies when I'm at home.  I was in a public place with stuff.  Valuable stuff like a computer and phone.  And while I probably could have trusted the people who were VOLUNTARILY AT THE LIBRARY in the middle of the day, the "never EVER leave your stuff unattended" mentality of a post 9/11 America trumped my sense of body awareness and I remained seated the entire time.  Until the pain.

The funny thing is that as a nutrition professional, my mind went, "maybe it's because I haven't taken magnesium recently."  Which, I still kind of stand by (or crouch by, as it were) since I have a well documented history of magnesium deficiency that is worsened when I'm stressed, (say studying for an exam) and I had forgotten to take my magnesium supplements.  It feels a little fast acting for neglecting to take a supplement a mere couple days, but I don't know, maybe.  Nausea and muscle cramping are symptoms of magnesium deficiency.  Regardless, I seem to be okay today, having since taken magnesium, but I will certainly make a point of getting up and walking around regularly at work.  I suppose the take away from this rather disconcerting ordeal is to always remember to pay attention to my body.  Because I totally wanna be this lady when I'm 80:

Old woman doing yoga
photo credit: Pinterest
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Katie Dawn Habib

Katie Dawn Habib is a Holistic Nutrition Coach with a M.S. in Nutrition and Integrative Health. By combining her nutrition knowledge with a love of writing, Katie created her own website, The Hungry Gypsy, where she talks about food, nutrition, wellness and travel. On her site you can also find information about her nutrition coaching practice and join in on the conversations. Katie would like to contribute in some small way to global healing and help her clients and readers feel inspired.