Staying grateful and grounded in the midst of change

One of the hardest parts of a season of change can be keeping a positive attitude. Whether its adjusting to life at a new school long after the excitement of orientation has worn off, searching for a new job or coming to the end of an important relationship- change can be fertile soil for negativity to grow.

And why shouldn’t it be? It’s easy to wish for the old back. The old friends, the old romantic partner, the old home. Dwelling on a comfortable past can lead to depression and anxiety when looking towards an unknown future. But I really believe there are tangible steps that you can take towards maintaining a positive outlook.

Practicing gratitude is the biggest way I try to keep things in perspective. Even when nothing seems to go right, I still have the support of the most incredible family and friends. I always have the love of a Savior. On the worst days I always have those things. But it’s important to realize there are small moments in the every day to be grateful for too.

Gratitude for the small things looks like being thankful for a deep conversation with coworkers. It looks like being excited about the chance to wear a new pair of rain boots, or getting to cuddle up with a loved blanket. Its a favorite song on the radio at just the right moment or a friend who grabs your Starbucks drink by surprise.

Life is full of little moments that we just need to keep our eyes open for. These small moments of gratitude can be an anchor in a world where nothing seems to go our way. Be intentional about recognizing these moments either by writing them in a journal or planner, or even on a list in your phone. The key is to having them in a place you can easily refer back to on gloomy days. You’d be amazed at just how bright the silver lining can be when you know how to look for it.

Creating A Work Space You Love

Whether it’s a cubicle or a full office, the place you work should not only be a reflection of your personal style, but a space you love to be in. Here are my tried and true tips for creating a working space all your own.

Make it a point to decorate

I put off decorating my own office until I literally could not stand staring at a blank wall any longer. By the time I actually got around to decorating weeks had passed, and once it was all said and done, I wished I had done it sooner! Make an effort to starting picking out items within the first week of moving in to a new space.

Find a unique piece

In a world of Hobby Lobby, Target and Pier 1 imports, its important to find a unique statement (or 2!) piece all your own. Mine is a vintage map of the Caribbean, where I’ve traveled to on multiple service trips. Thrift shops and Etsy are great options for finding that one of a kind item that will really make a space yours.

Decide on a feeling

Working full time can be many things. Exciting, stressful, energizing etc. For me it was important that my work space is a place that calms me. With a cream, navy and blush pink color scheme, plenty of scripture quotes and photos of family and friends I was able to create a place that relaxes me. Decide on a mood you want to invoke in your space and run with it.

Create a space for others

Even as a self-professed introvert, I love my coworkers and want to create a space for them to enjoy as well. A few chairs, a soft blanket and plenty of tea bags with extra mugs ensure I have a space everyone feels comfortable and welcome in.

Physically Adjusting to Working Full Time

One of the biggest challenges post-graduation is changing from the life style of a college student to a working professional. I used to tease my mom constantly about how she would be in bed by 8:30 pm. I didn’t understand it. I could stay up all night binge watching Netflix and still have the energy to make it to my 10 am. HA. I can’t help but laugh now at my naivety. After a year of working full time, I finally feel like my body has adjusted to the change. So here are my personal tips on how to prepare your body for the strain of working full time.

Sleep, sleep, sleep, oh yeah- and more SLEEP

Not only are you getting up anywhere from 1-5 hours earlier than you typically do, you’re no working through the day without a nap and its HARD! You haven’t had to go all day since high school, and now the days are longer to boot! SLEEP GIRL! Try to get more sleep at night and avoid napping after getting home from work (it will throw off your schedule in all kinds of wonky ways). Be not ashamed of going to bed early. You need the sleep and your life will be feel so much more balanced when you get it.

Meal Prep

Not only are you working all day- you now have a lunch break (hopefully). While it may seem like you have plenty of time to run to Chipotle every day of the week- your wallet and your waistline will thank you for meal prepping. Cook up one or two meals on a Sunday and divide them out to be used throughout the week. My favorite meal is brown rice, grilled chicken and peppers and onions (ok so still basically Chipotle hahaha).

Don’t Skip Breakfast

Everyone everywhere says not to skip breakfast- but it really is true. I know its early, and the idea of 10 more minutes of sleep can be enticing, but make sure this is a priority. I’m never hungry when my alarm goes off at 6 to eat something, but come 9 I’m always starving. I keep plenty of breakfast items stocked in my office- packs of oatmeal, English muffins and peanut butter or a banana can be great mid morning pick me up!

Stay Active

This one was the hardest for me as I was adjusting to my new schedule, but it is essential not to become immobile with your job. Making time to get to the gym is absolutely ideal (you’ll sleep better when you do!) but there are other options as well. Take a walk with your roommate, or tackle your nightly Netflix binge from a treadmill or stationary bike. This is an investment in your health that you will absolutely thank yourself for long term.

Traveling Solo

All the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page

St. Augustine

Whether you are traveling for work (look at you fancy grown up lady!), or just want to treat yourself, life after graduation will likely include some new travel opportunities. Here are my tips for exploring solo!

  • Start Small

Your first venture traveling solo doesn’t need to be a full on trip, in fact I would recommend testing the waters with smaller adventures. My first time traveling solo was on a business trip to Syracuse. When the rest of my traveling group wanted to stay in for the evening, I took it upon myself to get out and see the town. Whether it’s getting out on your own on a business trip, or taking a day trip from your hometown, starting small is definitely the key to solo travel success.

  • Stay Safe

I was hyper aware of safety while traveling on my own, and that’s not always a bad thing! Make sure you have designated check ins with family or friends while you’re gone, or even share your location on your IPhone. I texted my parents when I got in the Uber and when I made it to my destination.

Also do some research about where you’re visiting. If it’s a metropolitan area maybe exploring alone at night isn’t the best plan. My rule is only to take Uber by myself during daylight hours. Do some research and figure out what’s smart for you- you can never be too cautious!

  • Listen to the Locals

No one knows the town you’re in better than the people who call it home. Chat with someone at the visitor center, or your Lyft driver to see the best places to go. Or if you’re feeling super anti-social do Yelp or Pinterest research of your own! While in Syracuse my Uber driver recommended a place called Pastabilities for dinner. More on that in tip #4

  • Take Yourself to Dinner!!!

No seriously, this tip might be my favorite and my biggest recommendation. I can’t tell you how nervous I was when I realized it was dinner time as I was out and about in Syracuse. I was really intrigued by my driver’s recommendation of Pastabilities but was incredibly intimated at the idea of walking into a cute sit-down restaurant solo. I contemplated what I could order back to my hotel with GrubHub or where I could go, but in a few seconds of courage decided to go to Pastabilities.

I was so glad I did! The food an ambiance was incredible- if you’re ever in Syracuse definitely stop by- their homemade pasta and hot spicy tomato oil is to die for. But if the idea of walking in alone and taking up a table seems super intimidating, just grab a seat at the bar. On a crowded night at the restaurant no one will know that you’re alone (I promise you’re the only one that cares), and bartenders are often very nice and fun to talk to.

  • Take photos (and be ok with not being in them!)

I’m not sure what it is about Instagram, but I always feel like I have to be in the photo to post in, no matter how pretty the sunset, city skyline etc. I snapped is. It just feels like in order to get likes I should be in them. Plot twist: WhO cAreS?? Your Insta should be a place to share images you love, forget the likes. If you aren’t comfortable sharing everything in a post, add your travel images to a story so you can save them forever.

Investing in a Working Wardrobe

When college is finally over, so are your days of rolling out of bed 5 minutes before class and throwing on the standard uniform of a Comfort Colors sorority tee, athletic shorts and Chacos (or Birks, but personally I’m team #chaconation). Unless you go into the medical profession and are lucky enough to get to wear scrubs every day, you’re going to need a brand new working wardrobe. Whether you’re teaching or accounting, hopefully these tips will help you build a stylish new closet (without breaking the bank!)

1. Stock on the staples

There are some pieces you can just count on needing. A well-tailored pair of black plants, a cardigan to take dresses from summer to fall, a pair of comfortable booties and some statement flats are my essentials. And don’t forget a tote bag big enough to hold your laptop and planner!

2. Can I wear this to work?

Whenever I’m shopping for a piece of clothing, whether its work specific or not- I always ask myself – is this something I can wear to work? The key to not spending too much is to let your clothes do double duty. Would the top you’re contemplating look just as cute with jeans on date night as it would with a pencil skirt in the office? If yes-buy with my blessing, you found yourself a worthwhile investment!

3. Watch where you shop

While a working wardrobe should be an investment, it doesn’t need to be a huge blow to your bank account! My favorite stores to check out are H and M, Old Navy and yes even Target! While you may absolutely need a blazer from Banana Republic, I promise there are places you can find it cheaper. Save the name brands for your CEO years!