Category Archives: Brainpower

Positive Practices for Mental Health Based on Your Enneagram Type | Types 1, 2, and 3

During the last few months of lock-down/quarantine/(whatever you want to call it), I’ve done a lot of reading about the ENNEAGRAM. This isn’t necessarily a new obsession, I’ve been interested in it for the last few years. After working with my mom (who has done enneagram trainings for her job in pastoral care) to type myself as a 9 and reading Beatrice Chestnut’s book The Complete Enneagram, I’ve been consistently seeking out enneagram content.

But recently, I’ve really been exploring the idea of using the knowledge about myself that the enneagram offers to my advantage. Even though so much of the enneagram involves being faced with the aspects of yourself that aren’t so pretty (hi, I’m a 9…most commonly known for being lazy…yikes), it’s power comes from what you do with that information.

If you don’t know anything about the enneagram, there are a ton of great resources online to learn about the types and type yourself. I’d also recommend checking out Chestnut’s book (linked above) as well as The Honest Enneagram by Sarajane Case (who also has an instagram account and a podcast).

If you’re already up on this whole enneagram biz (and you love trolling IG for memes about your type LOL), I would totally encourage you to try taking it to the next level by identifying some of the downfalls inherent in your type and then adopting some positive life-practices to help you combat them. Doing so myself has been wildly helpful during an otherwise very stressful and scary time in the world.

To help get you started, I’ve identified some positive practices based on my readings about each type. I’m not saying these are the ones you should go with — they’re just ideas. They might not ring true for you and where you’re at or how you show up as an individual type. I just want to inspire you to find a few of your OWN practices based on your type!

Let’s start with TYPES ONE, TWO, & THREE — 

Enneagram Type One:

Positive Practice #1 – Take time for yourself to relax without any responsibilities.

Think: a solo afternoon outing, a solo night in, or solo weekend getaway. Ones put a lot of pressure on themselves to make sure things go to plan. But it can be stressful to be around other folks who have differing opinions about the right and wrong ways to enjoy whatever adventure or vacation you’ve mapped out in your head. Things will go a lot more to plan if you’re the only one you’re planning for. Give yourself that space every once in a while to relax without feeling like the world depends on you.

Positive Practice #2 – Set reminders that allow you to be patient instead of continuously following up.

Ones have an incredibly strong sense of right and wrong and are extremely self-disciplined. Others might not respond or take action to your requests as quickly as you may like. Because the one is also a great educator, they can view reiterating themselves and trying new approaches as helpful — when in fact this may have the reverse effect and cause the other person to shut down completely. (Which will stress a one out even more!) Instead, channel your love of planning and map out your follow-ups in your calendar.

Positive Practice #3 – Join a group that lets you display and discuss your emotions without fear of judgment.

Think: book club, film club, or any group that allows you to have conversations about the realities of humanity. Because ones are often uneasy with emotions, it can be beneficial to discuss things like how a book or movie made you feel in a group of people who are doing the same. This can help you identify emotions and emotional impulses better in your own life and help you feel more at ease about the messy aspects of being human.

Enneagram Type Two:

Positive Practice #1 – Set up a practice of asking others what they need.

Twos are known as “The Helper” for a reason — you love to help and you’re largely very good at intuiting what people need. That doesn’t mean it is what they want. And if they don’t, that’s not a reflection of you OR a rejection of you. You can and should still lean in to this “helping hand” side of yourself though. When the urge arises, do your best to make this your first step — state your intentions, “I’d like to help,” and then ask, “what can I do?”

Positive Practice #2 – Start a journal to document the “gifts” you receive every day.

Think: Gratitude Journal. Twos tend to place value on how what they’re giving is perceived, instead of looking to what they are receiving. You might not even recognize something as a “gift” because it is not something you would give or you wouldn’t give it in the same way. The more you can start noticing all that you are receiving in your life (by jotting it down in your journal), the better you will become at recognizing all the love in your world.

Positive Practice #3 – Invest your time in a service opportunity that is just for you.

This is something that is just for you — not something you know will garner public recognition or a lot of “likes” on your social media feeds. Think about your own interests and how you can give back within those worlds. Maybe you enjoy being around kittens so you sign up to foster or volunteer at a local animal shelter. The more you find fulfillment in something BEYOND just a general sense of helping, the more likely a two will resist the urge to call attention to themselves and their good deeds.

Enneagram Type Three:

Positive Practice #1 – Make time for one-on-one interactions with your loved ones.

Threes need to feel truthfulness, loyalty, and cooperation in their relationships. However, they are also fantastic multi-taskers who are always GO GO GO. Because of this, you might turn to big group outings or group vacations with your friends and loved ones to knock out that quality time all in one go. Resist this urge. Instead, slow down and really connect with the folks you care about without a bunch of other people and distractions around.

Positive Practice #2 – Schedule breaks throughout your day.

You are susceptible to burn-out and exhaustion because of a singular focus on your goals. Threes are super ambitious and value self-development — great qualities! But they also need to take breaks if they want to reach their full potential. Make sure you’re setting aside time during your day to step away from work and your personal to-do list — try the pomodoro approach or just set a few alarms in your phone to signal when you’re going to take a ten minute breather.

Positive Practice #3 – Get involved with a group project that has nothing to do with career advancement.

Again, threes are highly skilled multi-taskers so they might sign up for their office’s kickball league and think, “Cool, this will help my likability standings at work PLUS knock out a workout and be my weekly socialization time,” only to find they’re miserable every Thursday during the matches because they actually HATE kickball (and their co-workers who joined the team). If you’re going to focus so much of your energy on career, you should look for some outlets that are outside of work (and build relationships with people who have nothing to do with your next promotion) where you can take a little pressure off of that side of yourself.

Ok, enneagram-obsessed loves! I hope this helps you use the information about your type to your advantage. It might take you a while to settle on the practices you want to adopt, and that’s ok! Once you do, I know they’re going to have a positive impact on your life! xoxo

Keep an eye out for follow-up posts with ideas for the rest of the types! Thanks for reading!!! 

30 Day Photo Challenge

Now that I’ve been socially distancing for 4 months, I feel like I need something to shake things up. I need a way to see the the same things in a new light. I also know that I want to beef up my Instagram game AND practice photography.

Combine all of that together, and I settled upon the idea of doing a 30 day photo challenge!

I don’t know about you, but without travel, group outings, restaurant meals and summer vacation, my camera roll is lacking. When it comes to Instagram content, my creative juices are stagnant. Maybe a daily prompt would help? Worth a try!

So I put together a list of 30 prompts that could give me a direction each day for something to snap a picture of. Some days I might bust out one of my nicer cameras and others I’ll just use my phone. But my hope is that each day I’ll have a reason to get creative. Then, at the end of the 30 days I’ll have a nice little stockpile of photos I can use however I wish!

See the list of 30 day photos below. Will you give it a try?

  1. Something you couldn’t live without
  2. Watching TV
  3. Something yellow
  4. TBR stack
  5. Movies
  6. Something that evokes wanderlust
  7. The sky
  8. Something nostalgic
  9. Your pet
  10. Something vintage
  11. Something purple
  12. Flags
  13. Water
  14. Someone you love
  15. Favorite book
  16. Skyline
  17. Something orange
  18. Inspired by a quote
  19. Self portrait
  20. Favorite sweet treat
  21. Brand you love
  22. Something green
  23. An animal
  24. Inspired by your zodiac sign
  25. Favorite place in your home
  26. Something from your childhood
  27. Favorite food
  28. Something pink
  29. Something in your room
  30. Outdoor scene

Click HERE for a printable PDF with all the prompts!

But I want to hear from you! How are you shaking things up? Do you have any tips for thinking up Instagram content? If I was to do a round 2 of this challenge, what prompts would you include! 

P.S. 10 Brutally Honest Tips About Online Content Creation

Fun Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary

*This post may contain affiliate links.*

Having a broad vocabulary can be useful for a lot of things. It can help you to read, watch and listen to a wider range of materials and have a better understanding of the content. It can give you the tools that you need to speak and write more eloquently and get your point across in more creative and profound ways. It can also just be a lot of fun to know more words and how to use them!

You probably pick up a new word every now and then, but if you want to actively improve your vocabulary, try these tips–

Play Word Games

Playing word games is a good way to learn new words and start expanding your vocabulary. Many word games rely on you knowing the definitions of words, being able to rearrange letters to make words, or perhaps being able to find hidden words. There are some fun word game apps that you might find you enjoy even more than scrolling through Instragam. You can even use tools like Wordscapes answers that helps you unscramble letters. The more you use something like this, the less that you will find you need to “cheat” as your vocabulary grows.

Read More

Reading is always a great activity if you want to improve your vocabulary, and the more broadly you read, the more diverse the vocabulary you encounter will be. You might like reading novels, but you should also read non-fiction, news articles, opinion pieces, essays or anything else that you find enjoyable. As well as reading physical books, listening to audio-books will help you know how to pronounce new words. The more you read, the more your vocabulary will grow, especially if you commit to a diverse range of materials. A little bit of reading every day can make a big difference in your vocabulary.

Watch and Listen, too

Along with reading, you can benefit from watching and listening to diverse materials as well. Whether you watch TV dramas and movies, consume documentaries, or listen to the radio, podcasts or even music, you can learn new words. Just like with books and reading materials, you can explore lots of different media and find things that you enjoy. You can find plenty to watch and listen to for free online, by searching for videos on YouTube, from TED talks to comedy or informative how-tos.

Expand Your Circle

Finally, surrounding yourself with people from diverse backgrounds — both in upbringing and physical location — is a way to ensure you aren’t constantly hearing from people who look and sound like you. This will not only improve and build your vocabulary, but your ideas and views of the world as well.

You can improve your vocabulary in lots of different ways. Keep exploring the world around you to learn new words all the time!

P.S. How to put NEW language skills into practice. 

4 Ways to “Clock-Out” When You Work From Home

*This post may contain affiliate links.*

Working takes a lot out of you, and a job can be very demanding some days. You must take the time to rest and recover so that you can return to your duties the next day full of energy and motivation. But it can be difficult to transition from a work mindset to a recovery mindset when working from home. 

Below are four of my favorite ways to “clock-out” after a long day of work and signal to my mind and body that work is over and rest has begun. Setting aside this leisure time right after I wrap up for the day is crucial for me to enter the rest of my evening in a state of calm. Then, I can return to my desk the next morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. 

1. Pull out the Coloring Books

One way to relax after a long day of work is to grab your favorite coloring books and put your feet up. Invest in a variety of books from https://www.pennydellpuzzles.com/coloring/ so you can mix it up and choose different designs to work on. You’ll be creating a masterpiece while allowing yourself to rest and relax. Coloring is an activity that’s fun and beneficial for kids and adults alike. It’ll take your mind off all the stress and strain from your workday almost instantly.

2. Take A Warm Bath

You may also want to put taking a warm bath on your list of ways to “clock-out” after a long day of work. It’s your chance to unplug from technology and relax your muscles and brain from thinking. Put some bubbles in your bathtub and grab your favorite book that you can get lost in for a while. You might also want to put on some soothing background music and meditate while you’re soaking in the tub. You’ll feel like a new person when you get out of your bath and you’ll feel in a calm frame of mind. It’s an excellent way to relieve any stress you’re feeling in your body as well.

3. Watch A Movie

Another idea for how you can “clock-out” after work is to watch a movie. Pick one based on what you’re in the mood for and will keep your attention. It can be entertaining to watch a favorite movie of yours or to pick a new one that you haven’t seen before. Make a delicious snack or dinner and curl up on the couch in your comfortable clothes and a warm blanket to help you relax. You may even end up dozing off or falling asleep if you’re that tired and worn out. Nothing wrong with a nap!

4. Go On A Walk

You may not think of exercise as relaxing, but it is if you choose the right activity. Going on a walk is an excellent way to burn a few calories, reduce your stress, and calm a racing mind. Call up a friend so you two can catch up about what’s been going on in each of your lives. It’ll be relaxing to spend some time in nature and have someone who cares about you on the other end of the phone. You’ll feel so much better after getting in some steps and being able to get anything that’s bothering you off your chest to your friend.  

But I want to hear from you! What are some ways you “clock-out” when working from home? Are there any aspects of working from home you’re struggling with?

P.S. Need one more “clock-out” idea? How about an at-home workout. 

Why It’s Never Too Early To Start Christmas Shopping

A lot of people can’t even start to think about Christmas until after Halloween has passed, whereas others start their Christmas shopping for the following year in the after-Christmas sales. My vote is for somewhere in between. It’s nice to get ahead of things, and when it comes to gifts, buying them earlier can allow for more planning — both in thoughtfulness and budget.

*This post may contain affiliate links.*

When you like to put thought into buying gifts, leaving your shopping until the last minute should be the last thing that you want to do, yet, many of us still find ourselves shopping for Christmas presents as late as Christmas Eve. Although it’s nice to feel prepared with lists, not having a list can enable you to buy things that make you think of certain people as you see them or when you find them for a good price. 

If you do this throughout the year, or at least from June/July onward, you will be more than prepared come December. It’s never too early to start Christmas shopping!

So, let’s have a look at some of the ways it can benefit you: 

It’s Less Stressful

There will be no more scrabbling around last minute and much more time to relax if you shop all year round. You will be able to fully enjoy the magic of the holiday. And, that one person you can never figure out? Well, you’ll have plenty of time to sort it out and get it ticked off your list. You will also no longer have the stress of worrying if something will arrive on time, and you will have plenty of time to exchange if it’s not quite right or damaged. 

No More Increased Prices

Have you ever noticed that near Christmastime prices can shoot up? Or are much higher than the sale prices you spotted earlier in the year? That’s because you are paying for the convenience of shopping right before Christmas. You should most definitely take advantage of sales like Black Friday and any early Christmas sales, but don’t forget about sales that happen before Thanksgiving even rolls around and throughout the year. If you see something that someone would love, get it at a reduced price rather than buying later at full. 

Finding Unique Gifts 

You know those gifts that you can’t wait to give because you know it’s going to surprise the recipient? Well, shopping earlier means you have more time to plan and get it just right. If you shop earlier, you have more time to research and do the searching that is often needed for a unique present like personalized first christmas ornaments. If you’re not working from a list, then you have more freedom and may find something unexpected. Just because it’s not near Christmas, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it ready. When it’s most definitely the thought that counts, finding the perfect gifts no matter what time of the year, can’t be missed. 

These are three very good reasons why you should shop at any time of the year for Christmas, and it’s never too early to get started. When do you normally start your Christmas shopping? Do you shop all year round and take advantage of the benefits above or are you a last-minute shopper? 

10 Daily Mantras Inspired by The Alchemist

mantras inspired by the alchemist

I recently finished The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Have you read it? I mentioned it in this post about a couple who keeps copies of it on hand to give to friends when they inevitably end up talking about it. I’m happy to have finally checked it off my list!

It is definitely one of those books that you want to read aloud a la Scheherazade/1001 nights because it’s so parable-y and mysterious. And it is also one of those books that is HIGHLY quotable! I found myself wanting to doodle the best parts in cursive all over my notebooks.

But then I thought, I can do one better! I can distill some of the key messages of the book down from quote —> daily mantra! (If you’ve been around these parts awhile, you know I LOVE a mantra.) Here are the 10 I settled on:

1. I face obstacles without fear.

“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.” 

2. The right decision will reveal itself to me and always stand firm.

“If what one finds is made of pure matter, it will never spoil. And one can always come back. If what you had found was only a moment of light, like the explosion of a star, you would find nothing on your return.” 

3. I choose to see the good in each day.

“When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” 

4. I am only defined by the present moment.

“Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man.” 

5. I don’t shine if you don’t shine. 

“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.” 

6. I have confidence in my decisions.

“When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he has never dreamed of when he first made the decision.” 

7. Great achievements begin with ignoring the impossible.

“I see the world in terms of what I would like to see happen, not what actually does.” 

8. Failure allows us the opportunity to try again.

“The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

9. Live your own life!

“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

10. You won’t know how to do the thing until you do the thing.

“There is only one way to learn. It’s through action.” 

Which one is your favorite? Would you commit to saying it for a week to see how you feel? As an Enneagram 9, I think I’ll start incorporating #6, but #7 is also a favorite! 

P.S. You can read a whole series I wrote on mantras HERE — including 9 badasses who shared their favorite mantras with us and a 30 day mantra challenge!

Let’s chat about public policy!

Who wants to get nerdy for a couple minutes? If you’re down, let’s talk about the traits of effective public policy. Then, we can explore a really neat infographic brought to us by our friends at Norwich University.

Public policy affects us all, but what makes an effective policy and how can the success of different policies be measured? The infographic below highlights the main features of good public policy, discussing the most important issues and the formulae used to establish measures that work.

Public policy is a network of regulations, measures, systems and laws that are enforced or recommended to benefit people. Typically, policies are championed by a government or its representatives, with opponents lying in wait to make challenges and influence the decision-making process. 

According to the image below, the most crucial public policy issues in the US include strengthening the economy, increasing employment, reducing debt, defending the country against terrorism and making sure social security is financially sound. Additional concerns include promoting better education, protecting and improving Medicare, lowering the cost of healthcare, helping those in need and reducing crime rates. 

Effective public policy should solve problems and provide answers to questions, and it represents a combination of ‘good politics’ and ‘good policies.’ To draw up a strategy that works, it’s essential to define the problem and then undertake research and analysis to gather information and use data to make informed decisions. Planning and implementing policies involves a series of processes from collecting data for research purposes to drawing up budgets. Strong policies should solve issues efficiently and cost-effectively, promote citizenship, support democracy and facilitate justice. 

If you’re interested in public policy, or you’re keen to learn more about what makes a policy effective, take a closer look at the insightful infographic below. 


Infographic Design By Norwich University

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 4

Welcome back, Finding Delight Book Club members! Today is my final post about Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body and I’m turning it over to you. While it is great to read other people’s thoughts about a book and learn a bit more about an author and dive deeper into a subject with extended reading/listening watching … what I love most about book clubs is that it allows a space for tapping into your own feelings about a book and what it brings up for YOU. Sometimes this can be difficult when reading books by yourself. You read for entertainment and enjoyment, maybe you underline a passage that speaks to you or remark YAS! to a sentence that really rings true. But in a book club? We can dig a little deeper. So, shall we?

1. Roxane Gay highlights the way society treats fat people in unfair ways. People are quick to voice opinions and make remarks with little regard for compassion. We are constantly bombarded with messaging that being fat cannot be synonymous with being happy.

Explore your own battle with body image. How has mainstream media had an effect on how you view yourself?

2. In Hunger, Gay bravely recounts her story of sexual assault which occurred at a very young age.

How does this trauma play into her relationship with food?

3. This memoir highlights a common paradox, seeking body acceptance AND a physical transformation.

In what ways can we show kindness to ourselves and others when these two truths coexist?

4. Hunger isn’t always about food…

What else does the author hunger for?

5. Gay writes, “People project assumed narratives onto your body and are not at all interested in the truth of your body, whatever that truth might be.”

How would you describe the truth of YOUR body?

6. There are a lot of references throughout the book to damaging portrayals of weight/weight loss/fat shaming — gossip magazines, Oprah, The Biggest Loser — and we can surely call to mind many more that exist in mainstream media.

What media portrayals have you encountered recently that speak to body positivity and acceptance? Are you following any toxic social media accounts that you can remove in order to create a more loving feed/timeline for yourself?

Have you read Hunger yet? Pop any answers or thoughts that come up out of the exercises above in the comments. I’d love to continue the conversation. If you haven’t read it yet, but your interest is sparked, you can order it HERE or check it out from your local library. These posts will be here for you at any time — 

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 |

If you enjoy my blog content, please consider supporting what I do (and keeping me caffeinated). Thank you! xoxo ☕

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 3

As a preteen, Roxane Gay experienced horrific sexual trauma perpetrated by a group of neighborhood boys. Hunger is a memoir about how her body was used and exploited and what has happened to her body since. Her writing is candid and open about the reasons she’s gained weight as a result of her trauma. She also shares what it’s like to navigate a world that cares little for folks they deem overweight. 

This book has so much to say about sexual assault, trauma, how society treats larger bodies, and believing women’s stories. Here is some expanded material on these themes…

Be Bigger, Fight Harder: Roxane Gay on a Lifetime of Hunger

Roxane Gay’s Hunger Complicates Narratives About Being Fat

Smile Sweetly, Don’t Shout

14 Women Open Up About Size Prejudice

Believing Women Means Believing Their Pain

The Sickening Consequence of Doubting and Dismissing Women and Girls

Finally, one of my favorite things about Roxane Gay is that she’s a prolific reader! So, if you want even MORE extended reading after Hunger, there’s no better person to turn to than the woman herself…

HERE she breaks down her 2018 in Reading and Writing. So there’s a TON of material to pore through to find your next great read. Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 4! 

Book Club: Hunger by Roxane Gay Pt. 2

Part 2 for each book is typically where we dive into other works by the author of our current read. So, let’s get to it!

Roxane Gay is currently a visiting professor at Yale University as well as a writer and editor. If you enjoyed Hunger, you should absolutely pick up some of her other work…

An Untamed State

A novel about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.

 

Bad Feminist

A collection of essays  spanning politics, criticism, and feminism. Through this collection, Gay reveals herself as one of our most interesting and important cultural critics.

 

World of Wakanda

Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey were the first black women to be lead writers for Marvel in this spin-off from the company’s Black Panther title. In it, Gay spins a Wakandan love story.

 

Difficult Women

A collection of fictional short stories that follow different women as they journey through a traumatic experience or something that sets them apart from the societal norm.

 

More on SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter
More to READ: The Year I Learned Everything, We Do Not Speak of Graceful Things, On the Death of Sandra Bland and Our Vulnerable Bodies, and MORE.
More to WATCH: On writing tips, The Nickel Boys, and Pretty Woman.

Pictured above – Roxane Gay presenting “Confessions of a Bad Feminist” which you can watch HERE

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Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! 

Part 3, coming soon!