Why do I watch the same things over and over?

I guess, simply put, I find it comforting.

I also don’t have to think…and in my down time, I really enjoy being lazy-brained.

There are some shows that I watch almost on constant repeat. The same episode over and over and over…repeating the lines, and laughing at the same jokes…every single time.

Seinfeld, The Office, King of Queens, Murder She Wrote….,oh that busy-body Jessica… I can watch and laugh all day long as if I’ve never seen them before.

There have been studies and reports that say that watching things over and over can create a sense of familiarity. Because you know what to expect each time you watch it, it actually helps to reduce stress and anxiety.

The funny thing is I only just recently heard about this study, yet in my mind I knew that I felt at ease when I watched things that I had already seen over and over. It’s like my body and mind already knew what relaxed it.

It is really cool that the body will let us know what it needs. When you indulge in repetitive viewing, you are familiar with the characters and the settings. It can feel like you are hearing the voice of an old friend or cozying up in your bestie’s living room. Whether it’s Andy Griffith or Friends, I love the feeling of knowing what’s about to happen without being tense or on edge. I love knowing that a funny part is about to come on.

I love waiting for Sophia’s funny one-liners. I love when George McFly tells Biff to get his damn hands off his future wife. And seeing that Delorean make it up to 1.21 gigawatts just in time to get struck by lightning…it gets me every time!

In addition to knowing what to expect, there is also something very therapeutic about the nostalgia that you feel when you rewatch an episode or a movie.

And there’s something scientific about it too. Here are three benefits to repetitive viewing (and listening):

1. Knowing what’s going to happen before it happens actually puts your mind and nerves at ease. It also tempers your emotions because you know what to expect.

2. Seeing scenes, or even listening to familiar music, can bring back memories, experiences, and feelings. The nostalgia can be pleasant, even if you are recalling a not-so-good emotion.

3. Weaving in new knowledge and experiences while watching familiar scenes can bring about new viewpoints and expanded horizons.

So the next time you sit down to watch Jim ask Pam out on their first date for the 7,000th time, or when you laugh at Aunt Bea for getting drunk off a stranger’s laced elixir, enjoy it without guilt. It’s actually good for you.

Do you watch the same things over and over? What are your go-to’s for repetitive watching? Let me know if I need to add anything to my list.

Kindness Matters. Always.

I woke up this morning with a buzz in my ear…and here it is.

Kindness. Matters.

Once more.

Kindness. Matters.

You may have seen on my social media, on my etsy shop and on my blog that I call myself a kindness advocate.  Let me explain a little.  Judging comes very easy to me.  Always has.  Expectations and opinions flow through my veins.  It is only through some serious growth, and a few hard lessons, that I realized that I’m not always right and kindness truly matters. 

Giving the benefit of the doubt matters. 

Understanding that everyone is different matters. 

Realizing that everyone’s circumstances are different, their backgrounds are different, their response mechanisms are different, their support systems are different…and that all of that matters.

It took me well into my 30s before I realized that how I think, how I react, and what I do is not always right.  That was a hard pill to swallow.  Lol.  I realized I’m not always the smartest person in the room and that I’m definitely not always right.  I don’t always have the answers, and there are other ways of doing and thinking that are better than the way I do it.

I realized that you really have to hear where a person comes from and how they got to where they are in life before you can really understand their position, their mentality, and their actions. 

Maybe you would have done things differently if faced with the same set of circumstances, but maybe not.  I had to really examine how many times I’ve made a bad decision, one that others in my exact situation wouldn’t have made, and how I had to learn from the mistake to truly appreciate just how bad of a decision it was.  Most of the time, the decisions were things I could recover from.  But some did change my life in more permanent ways. But should I be judged or should someone be mean to me because I chose a wrong path or because I made a decision they wouldn’t have made? I don’t think so.

But every interaction may not afford you the opportunity for a deep dive into people’s lives so that you can understand exactly how they got to that street corner, or wound up in a financial bind, or whatever.  It may only be seconds of time out of your life that your path crosses with someone.  And that’s when you have to decide.  Would I rather spend these seconds judging, being mean, ignoring, or getting riled up?  Or would I rather realize this is a human being that got here by means of which I do not know, and that this person could use a couple of dollars, a sweater, a drink, a meal, a smile, or at the very least, for someone to not add to the weight on their shoulders by being mean to them?

My choice is compassion.  Or rather, the choice I hope I make each time is compassion.  Kindness.  Generosity.  I’m working each day to train myself to make that choice, and to advocate for people to consider compassion as their choice.  It’s not always easy, and it doesn’t come naturally all the time.  But that’s what I am working towards each day.  Kindness always.  Even when it’s really, really, really hard.

Through my apparel, I try to emphasize positivity and good vibes.  I try to always smile, and I try to see the good in every person I interact with either in person or on social media.  I’m not always successful, trust me.  But it is something I actively strive for each day.

These days we are all coping with unprecedented stress. We are in a situation we may not see again in our lifetime. We are all figuring it out and we are all trying our best. And we all deserve a little kindness.

Do you have a personal attribute that you are working on? What made you realize it was time to work on that particular quality? What do you do to motivate yourself to work on it? Do you have any tips?

My Response When I Feel Unfulfilled at Work

I reached out to a friend recently. The last few times we spoke, I felt like things were very one-sided. You know how it can go…you reach out, you keep the convo going, you ask all the questions, you get little feedback. The convo follows a similar negative pattern each time you speak, so you say to yourself “ok, I’m not doing that again.”

But of course you’ll do it again. This is someone you consider a friend. And they are a friend for a reason.

Today I felt like I wanted to reach out again after a few months had passed since we last spoke. I kept the topic pretty light…anything new, recent home projects, funny stories, things like that. And I noticed it was a matter of time before we circled back to the same complain-esque type conversations. She hates work, work sucks, I don’t want to be there, I hate it there, etc.

So…I felt like…idk, some type a way.  This complaining, almost using the same verbiage exactly…has not changed in over five years!!!!  So as a friend, what can I do?  What can I say?  I asked the usual questions.  Have you thought about other jobs?  Have you thought about classes?  Have you thought about hobbies so that your time outside of work can possibly fill some of the work satisfaction voids?  And the response for all my questions were essentially a resounding “no.” As they always have been.

Now, I don’t want to seem like my life is SOOOO together or that I don’t suffer from the occasional negative work attitude.  But I realized long ago that I had some decisions to make when it came to my work-life balance and what I expected from my 9-5.  Is my job amazing?  Heeeelll no.  lol.  But…I have a few options.  1) I could find another job.  2) I could boost my qualifications so that I could move up or move around where within my current employer.  3)I could get over it.  Or 4) I could live so fully outside of work that I don’t place a super high level of importance on “job satisfaction.”  Those are the options I felt like I had.  Everyone may feel like they have different options, but those are the ones I decided that I had. 

But basically, it was unlikely that the job I had was going to change.  So I could either find a new job, change myself, or change my attitude towards the job.

Ultimately, I chose a weird hybrid of those three options.  1) An opportunity to change departments presented itself, so I grabbed it.  2) I made connections and I sought out opportunities within my agency to grow and be visible, so that I could put myself into a position for promotions and mobility in the future.  And 3) I investigated and implemented avenues outside of work to be my own boss, which ultimately changed my attitude towards my 9-5 job. I wouldn’t say I feel completely fulfilled, but it rarely occurs to me to hate or dislike my 9-5 job. I found other ways to find fulfillment, and I’m quite happy with them.

WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO RESPONSE WHEN YOU ARE FEELING UNFULFILLED?

One of my responses is to learn something. 

Nothing too heavy, just some quick self-learning type thing.  Like how to purge my closet in three easy steps, or how to make easy banana bread.  It almost doesn’t matter what it is, I want to immediately feel like I took an action to better myself in some way.  And quick learning usually does the trick.

Another thing I do is I immerse myself my side hustles.  There are SO many things to learn and there are SO many resources available when it comes to side hustles, I find something, read it, implement it, work on it…whatever. To feel fulfilled, I typically need to feel like I’m gaining control over something,…like I’m finding actionable steps that can lead me to a desired outcome, or like I’m learning something about myself that can help me cope with my current situation or make my current situation better in some way.

Here are some things I did that recently helped me when I needed to feel like I was taking action

1)Listened to a few episodes of The Mindful Kind Podcast.  These are quick, 10-ish minute podcasts about mindful and intentional living.  I particularly loved her episodes about over-apologizing and how to take things less personally.  I also added a few more podcasts to my playlist.  They are such a good way to entertain and learn simultaneously! Nuggets of knowledge that you can implement immediately…that’s my jam!

2)Tried The Little Red Window’s tutorial on making clay trinket dishes.  Ummm this is my new passion now and it has transitioned into keychains and earrings and wine charms and coasters and whatever I can think of…I’m feeling an etsy shop coming on!  Here is a peek inside my new ceramics studio (aka the kitchen counter…lol).

3)Worked on my existing hobby of making beaded jewelry, which is a nice compliment to the clay trinket dishes I’ve been creating.  So I’ve been doing them both as I have spare time.  Here is a bracelet/earring/trinket dish set that I made recently for my sister.

4)Researched and created new styles for t-shirts, including more cities, states, hbcu’s, and customization options.  If my main job isn’t fulfilling, that’s just motivation for me to rev the engine on my side hustle.  Here is a style that I launched recently that immediately started selling as soon as I put it in my etsy store. If you like the style, let me know how I can customize it for you!

5)Downloaded and started working through some e-books related to my business, including A Guide for Procrastinating Bloggers by The Black Princess Diaries.  This e-book made me examine some ways that I procrastinate and helped me think of steps that I can take to avoid procrastination. Ummm…needed that!!  I had some immediate take-aways after finishing the e-book!

What do you do when you feel unfulfilled at work or in life? Do you have any tips? I’d love to hear them!

Latitude, Gratitude and Mantras

Studio Oh! Gratitude journal
(I got mine by way of TJ maxx so you may want to keep an eye out there)

I’m about a month and a half into my nomadic lifestyle, and I’m in my second location. The first home I checked into was in North Carolina, right outside of Raleigh. It was the most charming and perfect urban farmhouse retreat. Peaceful, cute, modern, perfectly decorated. It brought me so much peace after living next to neighbors that were the exact opposite of total peace. They were loud, angry, disruptive and quite honestly, I am still traumatized by loud noise. But the little North Carolina bungalow that I rented was on the most quiet little street with the most precious little birds chirping outside…and this, I loved.

While I was there, I breathed deeply, I smiled often, and I just enjoyed the space. I journaled daily, I took walks, I wrote down daily gratitudes, and I even had moments where I was able to do some creative, artsy stuff. I loved it. I sat for hours staring out of the floor-to-ceiling windows, admiring nature and taking in the sun. It was peaceful and therapeutic and perfect. I felt inspired. I felt calm.

The second home I selected is not quite the same. It’s in a less attractive neighborhood. There are a lot of politically charged signs in yards around me, which, in today’s climate, truly raises my personal alarm and stress levels each time we pass them. The current home has a lot of aesthetic imperfections…scuffs on the walls, dusty furniture…a floor that could use a good mopping. It’s cold, less spacious, it has small windows, and the view is of a less-than-pretty older home across the street. While here, I spend a lot of time thinking that I’m ready for my next location. And how many days are left until I get there.

Today I looked around, and I saw my gratitude journal on the table. I realized I had not written in it in a couple of days. And I also haven’t written in my regular daily journal in about as long. How did I go from a routine of habitual journaling to forgetting about it for days at a time? Does my change in space have that much to do with whether I feel grateful or feel like journaling? Do I only want to journal about happy feelings and good times?

Well…I suppose I could easily blame my journaling lapse on the fact that it was a practice that I started as part of my New Years Resolution. Perhaps my daily writing was part of the initial excitement that people tend to have towards a new practice that you have at the beginning of a year. I began my new year in the previous home, and isn’t the new year when most people decide they are going to start being diligent about new routines? And…don’t those routines typically fall off for many people once February hits? So…maybe that’s partially to blame…the fact that resolutions fall off in the second and third month. I’ll just have to recommit myself to the habit and strive to do better.

But what if my mood does actually play a role in my desire to document? As an empath, sometimes I do find it easier to just not focus on my feelings when I’m feeling less than happy. If I don’t think about it, I don’t have to deal with what makes me unhappy. By journaling when I’m unhappy, I’m just reliving the fact that I don’t care for this home and really hope the next three and a half weeks pass by quickly. I am one of those people that would rather not think about it; if I think about it, then I’ll focus and fixate and truly drive myself crazy.

Regardless of whether my gratitude journaling decreased because of the typical pattern of New Years Resolutions, or whether it’s because I’m just not in the mood, I think this is when it really truly becomes necessary to practice the gratitude mantras that I pin and quote all the time.

For starters, this is the number 1 lesson that I need to remember:

It is imperative that I find gratitude daily in every place and in every situation.

– Me

I HAVE to find gratitude daily in every place and in every situation. It is a must. Life in and of itself is a blessing. Every interaction and every day teaches me something. Even on my worst days, there is something to be grateful for. When you find gratitude in every day life, you don’t feel the need to constantly buy, do, search, acquire, judge…and so many more things. I look back on how much money and time was spent on purchases because I was not happy with my life and because I was not grateful for all that I had. Failed relationships, bad work environments, jealousy…so many of those characteristics drove me to stores to purchase more things that also didn’t make me happy, and drove me to unhappy habits that were completely counterproductive, if not destructive. I was so busy focusing on what I did not have, that I didn’t take the time to be grateful for what I did have. And I had a lot.

I need to always remember to be grateful, and here are ten daily gratitude mantras that help me do just that.

  1. I am grateful for everything that I have.
  2. I am appreciative for all of the wonderful things that this day brings forth.
  3. I invite gratitude into my heart right now.
  4. I am in charge of my thoughts and feelings.
  5. I am open to inspiration and creativity.
  6. I am grateful for the air I breathe, the food I eat, and the bed I sleep in.
  7. A grateful heart welcomes new opportunities.
  8. All is well in my world today.
  9. I am grateful for the work that I do, for many are jobless.
  10. When I am grateful, life gives me more reasons to be grateful.

Life doesn’t have to be perfect in order for me to find something to be grateful for. It doesn’t matter whether I’m in that cute bungalow or on the moon. The next time I am struggling to complete my daily journal, I will remember that every day presents infinite reasons to be grateful. All I have to do is pick one.

Do you have a gratitude journal? How do you stay motivated to journal when you aren’t feeling it? Let me know your tips!

Wine Down Wednesday: how to host a virtual wine-tasting

So….who misses wine festivals???

THIS GIRL!!!

For me, in addition to the normal activities, summers are made for discovering new wines, visiting local wineries, and going to wine festivals. I love visiting wineries and attending wine festivals. With the exception of beaches, cookouts, and vacations, it’s what I live for during the summer.

When it comes to wine festivals, I usually start working on plans during the winter. I brainstorm with my usual festival crew, find ticket deals and figure out lodging options if necessary. Then once summer kicks off, we are all set for wine festival season.

As far as visiting wineries, any day or weekend throughout the summer could lead me to a local winery. I’m lucky that I live in Maryland, which has an awesome plethora of wineries and trails. And I live close to Virginia, which has wonderful wine trails as well. So no matter what my mood or what direction I want to travel in, there’s a good chance I can pass several really good winery options. It’s so easy to build a weekend, a staycation, or a hookie day around visiting a winery nearby, no matter the season. But summers really are made for winery visits.

Covid has wrecked all plans for wine-related activities this year with the exception of purchasing a bottle and drinking it in the house. And that makes me oh, so sad. Like…really really sad.

Times are different now. And unfortunately Covid is our current reality. For me, I am still primarily still sticking to quarantine procedures. I stay in my home or I go out in open spaces, like parks. When I visit family members, we always remain outside and we stay six feet apart. And no hugging…which really really sucks.

I am not visiting restaurants except for curbside pick-up. I do quick grocery store runs. And when it comes to Target, it’s a quick twirl through the store to gather items, or I put in pick-up orders through the app. Everything else for me is off the table. And unfortunately, for now, that includes visiting wineries and attending festivals.

So since I miss girl time with my friends, and I miss wineries, my besties and I decided to try out doing a virtual wine tasting. Sooooo not the same, but satisfied our interest in finding new yummy wines, as well as our craving for social activities with each other.

So here’s what we did.

1) Select wines:
We didn’t have strict requirements for this because, without ample planning and a cushion time for delivery, we are kinda limited to the wines in our local liquor store. or wines that we already have on-hand.

2) Research facts:
When you go wine tasting, typically the host or hostess will tell you some fun facts about the vineyard or its owners, and then add some facts about the wine itself. What notes to expect, what smells and tastes will be experienced, what grapes it was made with, and how best to serve and enjoy the wine. So we looked up tidbits of information about the wines we chose.

3) Set up the Zoom/Hangouts call:
Everyone is all about zoom these days! Where has this app been all our lives?? Unless someone has an unlimited account, the max time for the free account is 40 minutes. So…plan accordingly! Luckily, bestie had an unlimited account and we were able to do our tastings, and chat while drinking more wine…without worrying about time restrictions. Find your meeting app, and set up your time.

4) Sample your wine:
We made sure we did our sampling during the video, so that we could observe initial reactions and subsequent flavor processing. I guess that helped us feel like the tasting was similar to the experience we’d have if we were together at a winery, sampling the wine for the first time. Wines change as they aerate, and sometimes that changed our perceptions of the wines during the tasting.

5) Have a rating system:
We went with the typical scale of 1 to 10 for the first meeting. Maybe we will get creative for the next round and use wine bottles or grape vines or something fancy. But 1-10 got the job done this time. Included in our rating system was our initial thoughts, whether things changes after first, second and third sips, whether we’d purchase the wine again, and why or why not.

Here are the wines we sampled for our first Wine Down Wednesday:

Liebe Winemaker’s Collection Riesling – Wegman’s $7.99

Menage Trois Luscious Pinot Noir – Local wine shop $15.99


Aged in French and American oak, containing notes of black cherry, raspberry, dark chocolate, vanilla and mocha. Pairs well with fish, seafood, and barbecue.

Von Hovel Riesling – Local wine shop $25

Notes include fruit flavors, such as peach, pear, and glazed apricot. Slightly fizzy. A sweeter riesling that is described as being a dessert wine.

It was completely by accident that we wound up sampling various price points but it was definitely great to have that as a factor of consideration, along with where the bottle was purchased. Ie., “if you’re in Wegman’s and want to grab an inexpensive bottle of wine to go with dinner, try the Liebe Riesling!”

The funnest part of the whole evening may have been drinking and chatting afterwards. We truly miss the in-person shenannigans that we’re accustomed to, so this was really a fun way to connect, learn about new wines, and catch up.

How have you been keeping up with your friends and loved ones? Socializing is so different these days. In addition to various zoom gatherings, I do find myself picking up the phone more often to ask questions and do check-ins. What have you been doing?