4 steps to help you move forward when you are stuck

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I've been gone for over twenty days. Twenty. Days. It's not like me to separate myself from blogging this long. I've been well present on CGD, yes, and then there are the essays that need my attention. I can make excuses for days. But to be absolutely frank, I've felt stuck and unable to move forward. 

I have so many ideas floating in my head, and if I'm being honest, I'm a tad scared of putting my ideas out there. ...okay fine, I've been terrified. And I loathe that. I loathe the feeling of being stagnant. And because of that, I find myself getting in the way of achievement, or simply just trying. But, so far, I've been good in stepping aside and opening a path for me to walk down and check-out.

Last week was one of those paths actually. After attending a couple of workshops and meeting other creative people, I thought to myself "it's a journey...". Because being stuck is still part of the story. So, though I am still in the process of pushing to move forward, I've found a couple of things to keep in mind while continuing my journey.

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1. Ask the right questions

Get to the root of your stillness. Don't be afraid to ask yourself deep questions- What do you want? How can you get there? What do you need to work on? How can you make daily, weekly and monthly goals to get to your destination? Is something blocking you? This one step is heavy and allows yourself to be vulnerable with yourself. Because you never know until you ask.

2. Get Out

(I really want to start a dialogue about the movie... next time.) I find that taking walks clears out my head. The simple action of getting out and having wind hit your face does something to your spirit. Be it a walk, or brunch with friends, allow your feet to walk on something other than your living room carpet, or your wooden floors. Take time to interact with outdoors, even if it's just for ten minutes. It does a difference.

3.  Write it out

I understand that writing may not be for everyone, but I have to argue and say writing is indeed for everyone. It's crazy how writing can be underestimated by those who are turned off by it. But there is something innate and shattering, when you take the time to print your thoughts on paper. Crayon, pen, marker- whatever. Make time to get your thoughts on paper and take a look at what you've produced. It'll un-knot a couple of ties behind you being stuck,

4. Voice your thoughts

I struggle with this last one greatly. Before my friends got to really know me, they took notice my quietness. And though I enough a good laugh and interactive conversations, I have the quiet-root still embedded in me. It's going nowhere. But, I find it useful to speak about what bothers me, or even more, to voice out the answers to the questions I ask myself. It's important to speak up and allow your thoughts to have a voice.

Being stuck isn't fun...Make the effort to keep going. 

Six months in

London Views
London Views
London Views
London Views

Last week marked six months living in the UK. What. A. Journey.

I intended this post to go up the day of, but I'll admit...I've been second guessing myself about many things. Overthinking can take a toll on you. That along with deadlines and seminars consistently reminding me that I am here primarily for a degree, have all shifted my energy. There is a lot of writing, reading and discussion involved in my day-to-day. But for the most part, I'm feeling grateful, still and humbled. It's crazy to wake up and say "wow, I'm living here". There is much.. so much more for me to explore. I have yet to visit Borough Market (even though I live like five minutes from this place. I know, I know, there is no excuse), make a trip to the Shard and make some day trips to the UK Islands. Can't say there has been a massive culture shock...I mean, let's be honest....New York City...London...the basic difference other than Big Ben and 42nd street is the accent and subtle change of vocabulary. But then again, this is off the top of my head. Who knows... I can experience a crazy culture shock tomorrow. But, there are a couple of things I've come across that I do want to pin point. Not so much exclusively evident in London, but things that tend to pop out to a foreigner when residing elsewhere. So here are six that stand out to me in-particular, 

Tea & Crumpets

1. Tea and crumpets please

As a natural tea lover I've come to really enjoy my hot water and leaves every morning. It's crazy expensive here but purchasing in bulk has been working in my favor. I will admit that I've been gravitating towards cappuccinos now and again, and caffeine has helped me stay awake for that extra hour. But for the most part most, although I have gravitated towards a sit-down now and again in a cafe, there are reasons why I shy away from doing so. It's relaxing, sure. But paying to actually sit and eat doesn't help...so I normally take it to go and munch elsewhere.  

2. Just Walk

Everything is pretty much close in central London, and if you have the time and want to fit in some effortless exercising, you should definitely walk...everywhere. When Mercy and Yvonne came to visit, Mercy intrinsically decided that we should walk everywhere which helped for me since the gym was closed for the holiday. At the end of the day, we would return to my studio, check our phones only to find that we would be walking 40,000 plus steps a day. Funny, I don't see myself walking from King's Plaza Mall to the junction on a regular basis. I've done it before, but for the most part you'll find my sitting in the B41 headed either direction. 

3. Discussions

Well, duh. I know, as much as NYC and London have an overlap, there are differences inevitable in the two. For starters, you pay for bags when you go to the grocery. Then again the same concept applies in Buenos Aires, Copenhagen... the list is long. I will say that I see a massive difference in ways of approaching conflict and debates. Besides the heavy saturation of passive-aggressive approaches (which I tend to find myself shutting down once and awhile), the only debate I notice from time to time is that of Parliament, a ten-minute discussion on BBC, Good Morning Britain, or a polite-passive-aggressive discussion in class here and there. People have different opinions, yes. But I also find that it's not at all 'normal' for there to be a discussion of problems amongst colleagues. The most I've had is one. I brought up the subject  to my friends here and they agree. There's not much of outspoken-protests here as much as there are in the U.S. A lot seems to be brushed under the rug with no follow-up of any question or intrinsic discussion of some sort. And I have noticed that distinctively. 

4. The Doctors

Complete and absolute rubbish. That should be the end of it but after hearing my professor's story this morning on being sick for over a week, and the 'treatment' given to her, I feel the need to elaborate. So allow me, yeah? I understand that antibiotics are shied away from being distributed in the UK, but man...can a doctor be sympathetic once in awhile? It's become so tiring that a lot of my friends have decided to go to private doctors. Another friend has told me that the GP actually canceled her appointment a number of times the day before she was due to walk in. So no...it's not just me. I do hear that pleasant experiences with doctors begin to occur in hospitals. I mean, if that's the case, I didn't know I had to be so close to the end to be treated with some type of kindness. And in order to have a walk in the hospital, without it going through the emergency room, is to get a referral from a GP...which they are also hesitate to give. All in all, it feels like a call to the GP is a waste of time. I've completely given up. You can read that story here.

5. Small Trains & performances

This one came to me within minutes of my stay in London years ago. The tube is tiny. Of course I am comparing the space to what I am use to in NYC, and it's pretty small compared to it. The buses, however, are spacious. Also, as a New Yorker, I am well accustomed to transportation performances either in the subway or in the train itself. I have not witnessed that much since living here... not much at all. There are guitarists, singers and one time even a huge choir caroling in Southwark Station back in December...but other than that, not many. I quickly noticed lingering silence when taking public transportation. It could be that I walk most of the time or that I evade rush hour to the best of my ability, but from my experience, I've really only witnessed performances in public places- millennial bridge, London bridge, outside National Gallery....but so far not so much on the subway. For my New Yorkers, a detailed way for me to give you a decent image is to say that it's the complete opposite of union square 14th street station. Complete. Opposite...yeah. And hey, it makes sense because the trains are small...and rush hour is not something to play with in this city.

6. Education

I noticed the difference in this one after a good week or two moving here. Now, before I continue, I have to thank my mother for always pushing me to ask questions. My favorite is "why". As a kid, I dare not ask why we were having rice and beans again for dinner, but I was timelessly encouraged to ask why an event in history happened and why a belief was believed. Even through high school and learning abroad,   I noticed the subtle education from teacher to student and from student to teacher. I've had great instructors in the past but I'm also not saying every teacher I had was amazing. Even from the bad ones, I was able to learn a thing or two...such as noticing when rubbish is spoken or ignoring them when they begin to speak rubbish (I'm just being honest). Then again, I'm from Brooklyn, and the education system in the city I hear is continuously changing. I witnessed instructors explain concepts, discuss the bad, and then also explain how students are able to make it better and improve the now. Some things I agreed with and others I thought were just ignorant. That's not really the case here. My first class as a post-graduate, I found there is a method of "here-is-what-happened" followed with a "do-what-you-will-with-the information". No follow-up. I'm guessing, but it could be a post-graduate system, thus leaving the students with the decision to write what we will for our dissertations. But it's definitely a system I've noticed in a number of my other classes. In the end, I'm not a fan of it but I want to take it as an opportunity to express my thoughts in my final essay topics...which, in fact, I should be getting to...

Again, I'm sure there are other differences that I've seemed to forget but these are six I've personally noticed here in London. Differences that still jump out to me once and awhile. But when I walk the Waterloo bridge everyday, with a clear view of the city, it reminds me of my adoration for London. Sure, my view from the studio isn't the greatest and my area can get noisy. Still, I enjoy walking through this city and discovering something new. And I enjoy noticing that too.

What differences do you notice in the countries you visit?

Sites to bookmark on your laptop

sites to bookmark on your laptop

Happy March! Two months in and so far, smooth sailing. I want to share with you some sites that have really helped in keeping my eye-lids open, between topic research for dissertations, messing with my schedule and novel readings for class. If you enjoy life stories, humor, fashion, or easy go-to's for some day-to-day advice on anything, then I'm sure one of these sites will be sitting on your safari tab permanently....as they are for me. So, leggo.

New York Times Modern Love

I rave about the podcast in a past blog post here. Seriously, the stories depicted carries a mood for every and any emotion. It's sad for time-sake, but two-hours of me reading story after story, can feel like two-minutes has just passed. If you like stories, writing, inspiration or something to read on a short ride somewhere, you should give this site a go.

Pure Wow

Absolutely love this site. Now that I think of it, I don't even know how I began reading this site. I don't remember signing up for them but I do remember notification emails starting to role in one month... and apparently the rest is history, I guess. Any who, this site carries a spectrum of topics on day to day articles. Recipes, stories, how-to's...the list is seriously endless. You'll find yourself clicking through the "related article" links nonstop. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Mirrorme

It's just recently I've began to get acquainted with this site and I am hooked. And no, by no means am I a fashion addict nor am I well aquainted with the latest trend (I tend to catch up when they die out to be honest...), but the pieces Fisayo (the author of the blog) display on her site appeal greatly to me, so much so to the point where I take notes on what I'd like to incorporate in my wardrobe.

Career Girl Daily

It's not because I am a contributor to this site...okay, maybe it's a small reason why. Still, I'm a contributor here because the site is really good. A sense of direction, advice or personal experience can be found under CGD. Great tips to take note on and incorporate in your 'here-and-there'.

Hand Luggage Only

I am obsessed. Literally. The places these two have traveled have me holding my seat and pouting my lip asking myself "Why can't I do that?!".

Jealously? Hm, no. Inspired? Definitely!

These travelers are truly adventurous and a lot of fun. If you want to go somewhere but have no idea where to start, check them out. The list of places they've traveled to is vast and the activities and places to see is a longer list. If you're lucky, they probably have an itinerary for you.

Nettle & Blackberry

This is a blog site I genuinely look forward to every week. Or just every-other-day to be honest. There is something about this blog that has me gravitate to it's presence. The writer is young and adventurous, and her writing tone carries a breath of fresh air with a hint of causality. Feels like I'm sitting down over some coffee, speaking with a friend over a specific topic. And so... this site remains open on my safari tabs. Absolutely adore this one.

So yeah, I'm going to keep these tabs open for awhile. What do you keep bookmarked on your laptop?

My morning-Waterloo-bridge-poadcast-listening-commute

My morning-Waterloo-bridge-poadcast-listening-commute

My commute to campus most days is thirty-minutes, give or take. And since moving to the UK's capitol, I've been walking from place to place, and that I value the those thirty-some minutes. You can pretty much say that everything is pretty much close by. Oh, and then there's the whole notion of getting lost and finding your way around. But once you've found your landmark, you are set. Easy Peasy.  

Still, in between walking, sight-seeing, working and studying I still find myself gravitating towards listening to a podcast or two...sometimes even three. Or four. Okay, you get the point. I have officially shifted from the iTunes playing in my ears, to listening to a story, a discussion or sometimes a commentary. It's been months, and my list has grown exponentially. But here are just a couple I've been listening to lately.

1. Invisibilia

I finished the episodes to this podcast awhile ago, and am waiting on the new season to begin. The podcast plays on a discussion or story about what we see and what we don't see in our day-to-day lives...but not in the way one may think of it as. It evaluates people's lives and even shocks the listener in the unexpected. There are a couple that come to mine, such as the blind-man who can see (that episode is really good) or even the women who does not feel pain and who's identity is never revealed. Do start from the beginning when listening to Invisibilia. It progresses beautifully. I just hope they come out with a new season very soon...very very soon.

My morning-Waterloo-bridge-poadcast-listening-commute

2. Modern Love

I heard about this podcast back in December, and I've listened to every single one of the stories. AH-mazing. The objective is to give voice to the New York Times section called Modern Love, where writers all over the world submit their stories of different experiences after which are read by actors, producers or people of influence. And the stories are fascinating. Sad, happy, ambivalent and touching to hear. Definitely a podcast to give a listen to.

3. Brant & Sherri

Growing up, I've come to discover a couple of things about myself- a misfit-quiet-quirky-Christian-woman. Not a classification, just a to-the-point description of myself. You can say I'm not one to "fit in"...and it's not that I try to (I don't have no time for that *snap *snap). It's just who I am. So, listening to a podcast delivered by two grown people- a single African-American woman and a married Caucasian man, about jokes, beliefs and culture make me smile and snaps me back to reality of "No, Raè...you are not the only one". A welcoming podcast of people from every and any origin. It's a different type of podcast, but a branching out I think you'll enjoy.

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4. The Receipts

This podcast is a must for women....I think so anyway. Four woman who personifies unique characteristics that contribute well to the podcast. You are bound to find the person who you connect with the most while learning from the experiences of all four. I enjoy it so much because it's funny and I can relate to each person's characteristic more or less; funny, cheeky, philosophical and rational. 

The podcast talks about different situations in life, the experiences faced by each woman and how to go about dilemma's faced by the listeners of the podcast. Hilarious, heart-warming and a discussion to give a listen to now and again.

5. This American Life

Does this podcast need an introduction? ...I didn't think so. I question if this podcast is older than me because Ira resurrects stories that he hosts from when I was three. So, I guess that's where I'll begin. This American Life has been interviewing people and dividing into the lives of many all over the world. Also, by no means does it focus solely on the United States. One of the many reasons why I enjoy it so much.The stories range pretty wide- from a man winning a green card, to a woman who had aided American camps in her country, yet is denied to enter the United States itself. The reasons are complex and the stories make you want to clutch-your-perls. You get a glimpse and sometimes even a feel of what it is people go through in their lives. I will say, my favorite story is the "Uganda be kidding me". I won't tell you what it's about, but I will say it's something one can say is common, and pretty funny.  A must listen to...and when you do, let me know your reaction in the comments. It had me chucking all day.

My morning-Waterloo-bridge-poadcast-listening-commute

6. Three shots of Tequila

If you see me walking the Waterloo bridge smiling and laughing at myself like a madman it's because of this podcast. Here you have three, sometimes four or five, men who discuss their thoughts on relationships, women and figure out what they would do in different scenarios that challenge thoughts and beliefs. 

The language is pretty vulgar- not something I would use from day to day, but the opinions and thoughts of these men are fairly interesting but forever hilarious. Each bring their personal stories and sense of character to the table. I don't agree with a number of their opinions, what I truly appreciate is the authenticity of this podcast. Sure, they forget to introduce themselves until it's either half-way into the discussion, or once even at the very end of the podcast, but their opinions are deep and their topics are true. And my personal favorite is when Marvin says to himself "I'm gunna lose it" if there is something he (a) does not like or (b) is shocked by in a topic that comes to surface in the podcast. A podcast to listen to, be amused and give some thought to. 

7. Death, Sex & Money

Don't let the title intimidate you. Yes, I clutched-my-pearls, but then I let them go. This particular podcast is different in the sense that the host asks hard questions. Deep, personal, hard, questions that illustrate the "let's-get-to-the-deep-point" type emotions. It's story based, personal, intimate and very deep. Sometimes a bit heavy for an early morning commute, but most of the time something to give thought about and take in. A must listen!

What podcasts are you listening to? 

That one comment

That one comment

I contribute to a couple of blogs, and as a writer, the diversity of topics excite me. Advice, stories, thoughts- the whole bit. And, I've never really paid any mind to the comment section because, two things- one, there isn't much to read, and two I haven't really thought of reading them. So yesterday...literally yesterday, I decided to take a look at a post published on one of the sites I write for. I was pleased with the edits along the neat aesthetics. Overall, I was happy. There I was, scrolling down, reading what I wrote, and self-critizing my tone took me all the way to the final line of the post...which in turn lead me to the comment section. And there they stood two comments- one that was short and another that was pretty lengthy. So I read both.

Sigh...why did I do that? Any who...

I'm sitting in my studio thinking to myself "this is new!" Except it's not...this is in no way new. But, for me it was. The short comment was polite. However, the lengthy one was pointless and passive aggressive. I fund myself making an expression of pure confusion (confirmed by the mirror to my left) followed with a verbal reply of "Psh. Bye Felicia". I pondered for a good minute...and proceeded to check my emails that night.

My point is, it's pretty innate in us to give focus to negativity. One hundred people could say sweet and encouraging things to us, but it takes that one comment...that one voice of pester to produce a reaction. That one lonesome comment to bring us down. And sure this may sound a bit over the top, but it's true.

This one comment didn't necessarily bring me down. I didn't cry. I didn't pout. None of that. It was more like a fly on the wall I wanted to swap out the room, but after looking at it, I ended up opening the window to let it out when it wanted to. Still, my reason for writing this post, is to understand that this is only the beginning. Granted I've been told I couldn't do many things by people who claim to have x-amount of degrees from whatever institution,  and who sit, teach, judge do research all day. What do I do? I blink at those people, smile and say "you have a nice day"...and swiftly walk away. Sure, I'll dash a some sass in my tone here and there. But occurrences like this have happened one or two at a time. Never at whole...not yet anyway. So...when I think about it all- writing, growing and deconstructive comments...this could be all be a test run, or even a warm up before the big race.

The better it gets, the harder things become. I think the question for me is, am I ready for what is to come. January was my test run and February was the rise to my stepping stone. And I have a feeling March will get even harder.

Ready?...time will tell. Now, I may just have to think about that.