How I Coped (And Didn’t Cope) With Anxiety Due To A Natural Disaster

Hi friends.

It has been a while again. I’m trying desperately to prioritize this blog because I think it can be a real outlet for me, but I keep allowing other life happenings to intervene. Freelance work, genera life stress, and travel have all kind of put my blog on the back burner. They say the third time’s the charm, right?

Right.

Anyway, as anyone who does not live under a rock knows, Florida had it’s world rocked by a big ass lady named Irma. Hurricane Irma, that is.

As a resident of the Tampa Bay Area, I was sick-to-my-stomach nervous. For a hot minute, the eye of a category 4 storm was supposed to pass right over us. By some stroke of luck, the path changed and the storm weakened, so the damage was way less than what it could have been. I feel so, so lucky and my heart has been shattered into a million pieces for the all of the Caribbean islands, the Florida Keys, and Naples, all of which got SLAMMED by the brunt of the storm. The damage left in Irma’s wake is nothing short of devastating. If you aren’t trying to recover from the storm yourself, please consider donating to relief efforts by picking a charity from here.

Now that the storm has passed and I am in recovery mode, I wanted to talk about what I did right and what I did wrong when it came to dealing with the anxiety surrounding this bighugegiant storm that I had NO control over. I personally struggle a great deal with things outside of my control, so I wanted to share my triumphs and my pitfalls in hope of improving in the future with personal accountability and hopefully helping someone else who struggles that same as I do.

What I did right

I prepared – Sean and I got supplies in the event that hunkering down was going to be our reality. The amount of Chef Boyardee in my pantry could feed a small army. You better believe that what’s left is going to be donated to a food kitchen next week.

I got materials to relax – I picked up books I placed on hold at the library, I charged up my kindle, and I bought a variety pack of potato chips. If I was going to be offline, I was going to enjoy my favorite treats: reading and crunchy, salty snacks.

I let my boss and my loved ones know my whereabouts – Sean and I ended up going to his parents on the other side of the state when the Saturday advisory had Tampa bearing the impact. Listening to my gut – which was saying, “GET OUT NOW AND BE SAFE!” – ensured that we were in a place with plenty of food, water, shutters up on the windows, and love.

What I did wrong

I panicked – I felt like Sean and I were under-prepared, and I had a few meltdowns with lots and lots of tears in the days leading up to the storm. The uncertainty had me so worried and my stomach got so, so sick. The headaches, the nausea, the upset stomach all just really didn’t help me do what I needed to be doing.

I allowed my stress to make me mean – Normally I’m the happy friend, the friend you go to when YOU need a pick-me-up, a hug, a shoulder to cry on, etc. That was absolutely not the case when I was feeling so anxious around this storm. For example, I got really mean when communicating with Sean. I let my emotions and feelings of being scared get to me, and I projected them as anger toward my partner. That was a huge mistake and I apologized for my behavior. Lucky for me, Sean is incredibly gracious and understood why my behavior was happening. I also got mean with some of my friends. In being so wrapped up in my own emotions, I did a terrible job of being a friend to them with THEIR issues. I got snippy, I ignored text messages – I was basically the opposite of my loving, supportive self.

I am struggling to bounce back – The storm passed and…I’m still super anxious. The idea of cleaning up and going back to reality feels totally overwhelming and daunting, and I am really struggling to get back into some kind of routine or normal-ness. I know I’ll get there eventually, but my brain is on gloom-and-doom overdrive.

What I learned

Sometimes we win our battles with anxiety, other times we lose. This time I would say that anxiety has gotten the better of me, but I have at least identified it and can learn from it.

I hope that those of you who weathered the storm are faring well,  and I send all my best wishes (and my donations) to those who are still in need of help surviving, rebuilding, and healing.

The Importance of a Girls’ Night In

Sometimes for a Girls’ Night In, my bestie Stephany and I do healthy girl dates! We pack a picnic and head out to a park to walk! Not a GNI in its true sense, but still an awesome alternative to a GNO. Love these moments!

I am a huge supporter of the girl’s night out. It is so refreshing to have a night out having dinner and drinks or perhaps catching a movie with a group of girlfriends. Having a social life separate from my male partner has really helped us keep a happy relationship, so I make sure I regularly make plans with the women in my life. But today I’m going to speak some personal truths about another type of ladies night that I value deeply: The girls’ night in.

The girls’ night in, whether with one friend or many, serves me well in so many ways, and it is for these reasons I strongly encourage other women out there to do the same.

It gives you much needed girl-time

There’s something about watching a romantic comedy with other females that makes it so much better. I think it’s the ability to laugh at like-mindedness and the fact that we may (or may not) identify with the movie’s characters. That, and my fiance really does not like the gushy stuff. So it goes, am I right?

Getting together with other women in an intimate setting does allow for more intimate conversation. Many of us are going through or will go through similar social, romantic, personal, financial, and career situations where we can find consolation and seek consultation from our peers. Women experience life differently than men do, and it’s really nice to be able to discuss life’s happenings with people who can relate and may have some pretty sound advice from a place of experience.

It’s a healthier environment

Someone’s home is likely going to be more comfortable and quiet than, say, a restaurant or bar. And even if you stock up on junk food (bring on the wine, cookies, and popcorn please!), it’s easier to make better, more healthful food choices where you know exactly what it is your eating. In fact, one of my best friends and I had a girls’ night in where we cooked a few Skinnytaste recipes. It was tasty, satisfying, and didn’t kill my diet.

It’s cheaper

Alcohol is expensive. Restaurants are expensive. Movie tickets are expensive. Professional manicures and pedicures are expensive. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

A rented movie, a DIY spa night, and splitting a grocery bill make the girls’ night in activity look way nicer on your credit card statement.

It’s good for the soul

At the end of the day, I am a big believer in the girls’ night in because it enriches my life in a way that no other activity really can. I can kick back, relax (something I do entirely too little of), and enjoy the company of the people around me without distraction. The ability to tune out the rather cruel and unusual world we live in for a few short hours has this detoxifying effect on my health that I can barely even scratch the surface of describing. When life is rough, or even when life is grand, it’s nice to spend time with my girlfriends and find joy in those moments.

When was your last girls’ night in? What did you do? Sound off in the comments!

3 Years of “Adulting”

Flashback to my college graduation photoshoot! So much has happened in my life since walking across that commencement stage. Oh, the feelings!

In May 2014, I graduated from the University of Florida. I didn’t have a job. But 3 weeks later, I was hired by the company that I worked for up until recently. In fact, June was my 3 year anniversary with my first employer, and this past month (July) I started with my new job!

I have grown so, so much in the last 3 years, both professionally and personally.

At work, I:

  • Got promoted to a new department (PPC, from being a writer)
  • Transitioned to a dual role, working as a social media specialist in addition to my role as a PPC Analyst
  • Made a lot of new friends, gained a lot of new skills, and developed valuable professional relationships
  • Got a new job as a Search Engine Marketing/ Digital Marketing Specialist

In my personal life, I:

  • Lived on my own
  • Lived with a roommate
  • Moved in with a significant other
  • Traveled to countless new states and cities, and even a new country
  • Tried new hobbies (such as running)
  • Met Sean
  • Got my anxiety disorder to a manageable place

It’s funny – on the day-to-day, I feel like I’ve gone nowhere in my personal journey. But when I really reflect and look back, I’ve done so much and I’m honestly impressed with myself.

I really made my life my own. I worked hard and in doing so I gained new skills that have allowed me to grow my career in marketing. In three years I had three different job functions, and then I recently took a giant leap and accepted a position now where my skill-set is only going to grow more. It’s exciting. But the best part? It was my own hard work that got me here. I have been presented opportunities, for sure, but I made them what they are. I earned it every step of the way. And that’s an empowering feeling.

The result of working hard – making money – let me do the thing I really wanted to do: travel. In the last three years I’ve gone to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Virginia, Texas, and New York. I also went on a cruise to Mexico and took a dreamy trip to France. Holy mileage, Batman!

And I did other things. I made a bunch of new friends that I couldn’t imagine my life without now. I ran 4 half marathons. I met the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. I found a therapist who really helped me find my happy place. You know, casual things that end up being the big things when you look back.

It’s been a good three years. I’m ready for the next three.

What are some of your accomplishments in the last 3 years? Did any positive life events happen for you, too? Sound off in the comments to spread some positivity!

 

Please, Pardon My Dust

Family Celebration
Pictured is Sean, my brother and my cousin. We had a lot to celebrate – both me and my cousin got new jobs!

My pal Steph was kind enough to remind me that it’s been a VERY long while since my last post. It’s time I change that.

A lot of life has happened, and I owe it to myself to forgive me for the silence, and move on with a fresh restart.

In May, my younger brother moved in with me and stayed through the first weekend of July. It was great, and I love him dearly, but it was a lot and required adjustment. In June, I traveled to New York for a large family event, and at the very end of the month a most crazy thing happened – I got a new job. I really wasn’t looking; recruiters reach out from time to time via LinkedIn, and I ended up following through with some job interviews – and the first week of July I got two job offers! I took an offer with PODS, the moving and storage company, and this week was my first week!

Suffice to say, I’ve had a lot of action going on, and I’ve neglected taking care of myself: mind, body, and soul. I’ve kept up Pure Barre, but my healthy eating, purposeful me-time, and my new blog project all fell waist-side. This should have never happened, but it did. This post is my fresh start.

I have a lot of post ideas in my brain. The task of putting them together is a really daunting idea, though, so it may take me some time to truly deliver (I’m referring mostly to finally sharing more about my trip to France!). However, I know I’ll get to it as my life starts to settle into its new routine. And I am promising myself that I’ll write and post more regularly!

So, thanks for bearing with me. Life can be crazy and unpredictable, but it can be grand at the same time.

 

Framing Failure

I’m going to lay it all out there – one of my greatest fears is the fear of failure. Words cannot express the gut-wrenching feeling I experience deep in my core when I perceive that I have disappointed someone or missed the mark on a task or made a mistake. It’s borderline soul-crushing for me. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

Something I am working on internally is the way I view failure. Failure can either inhibit you or it can fuel a fire to do better, be better, next time. Failure can be negative, or it can be positive. For my whole life, I have seen failure as this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, thing. But I learned it doesn’t have to be.

Recently my boss was discussing the concepts of success and failure. What defines them, what makes them good or bad? In this conversation, I realized that it all has to do with frame of reference: where you are, where you’re coming from, and where you’re looking to go. There are no hard rules for what is a success and what is a failure. Then she said a magic word: opportunity. Something doesn’t have to be thought of as a failure. Instead, it can be an obstacle with an opportunity to overcome it. This was a major lightbulb-over-the-head moment for me. I don’t have to FAIL like I think of failing, a be-all-end-all. I can fail; I can hit an obstacle and look for the opportunity to overcome that obstacle.

This mini life lesson from the mouth of my boss is going to stick with me. When I feel like I‘ve failed, I plan on making a conscious effort to find the opportunity. To look forward, move on, let go. I currently struggle with that. But if I actively engage my mind and heart, maybe I can be better next time.

What are your biggest fears? What are you doing to overcome them? Sound off in the comments below!

Why I’m Crazy About Barre

As much as I love food, I also love having a balanced lifestyle. Part of that lifestyle is regular exercise – it helps me keep extra pounds away (don’t get me wrong, I have a healthy layer of tacos on my mid-section, but I’m not overweight by any means because I take care not to be) and it also really helps with stress and anxiety management.

I have tried many, many forms of exercise. I’ve had plenty of gym memberships, I did zumba and spin classes, and I even trained for and ran four half marathons. But none of those forms of exercise made me feel the way that my barre classes make me feel. So, I’m going to share with you why I’m so crazy about Pure Barre!

Don’t know what Pure Barre is? Read about it here!

It’s low impact, but high intensity

I was particularly fit when I was running and training for my half marathons, and I am really, really proud of my PR – I ran my last half in 2 hours and 16 minutes. However, there’s a toll that running takes on the body. Pounding the pavement 3-4 days a week made my knees ache like I never knew my 20-something body could feel. I also kept hurting myself despite all of the physical therapy and strength training I was doing – I’m talking multiple sprained foot and rolled ankle injuries. It just wasn’t fun anymore. It was more work and pain than it was worth.

Pure Barre offers me a killer workout but without being a burden on my body. Don’t get me wrong here; barre classes are incredibly challenging and I literally shake each and every class. My muscles are exerted and I sweat and my heart rate is elevated. It just comes without the tolls of high-impact activities.

It’s a healthy environment

When I come home from barre class, I often gush about how encouraging/helpful/friendly/energetic/positive the teachers are.

I’ll explain.

I’ve never had such an encouraging and personalized workout experience in a group class format like I get with Pure Barre. If I’m working really hard, a teacher gives me a positive affirmation. If I’m not in proper form, a teacher comes over and adjusts me. Every teacher knows my name or makes a point to learn it. I feel at home and welcome. I’m not embarrassed or lost while working out in a barre class; instead I feel the opposite. I feel empowered, like if I can’t do it now I will be able to in the future, and everyone there is helping me work toward that same goal.

It’s changing me

This is the part that sounds cheesy but is very real. For the first time in a long time, I see triceps and shoulder muscle definition. My otherwise flat booty has a more rounded shape to it. I’m not as winded when I walk up flights of stairs. I walk with better posture. I smile more.

Pure Barre classes are making me stronger, but I’m also finding that I’m just generally happier with myself because I’m treating myself to an activity that I genuinely enjoy. It’s a cool thing when your mind and body find a place where they can get along as friends. Pure Barre is that place for me and I encourage you to give it a go also if you don’t already.
Are you as crazy about Pure Barre or any other type of barre class as I am?! How has your group fitness experience changed you? Sound off in the comments!

NOTE: This is NOT a sponsored post. The opinions expressed here are my own, and this is my personal review of a service that I pay for.

Let Me Introduce Myself

Bri at the Bar
This is me in EPCOT at Disney World, enjoying an adult beverage at the Food and Wine Festival!

I admittedly stressed out for quite some time over how to introduce myself, and I think that says a lot about me. Don’t mind me, I’m just a little anxious ball of female power!

Hi, I’m Bri, a 20-something living in the Tampa, Florida, area. I live with my boyfriend and his sweet older dog, Ari. I work in marketing as a pay-per-click analyst, running ad campaigns on Google for some of the agency’s clients. In my free time, you can find me at Disney World (I have a slight obsession with all things Disney), at a theme park in general, on a weekend getaway to a new city, eating yummy food (I LOVE food; I travel for food – no exaggeration), or drinking (my boyfriend brews beer for a living, it’s a common activity in this household!). On my normal day-to-day, you’ll find me doing chores and working out. A few months back I picked up Pure Barre, and I am completely hooked to say the least.

This brings me to why I am starting this blog. I want to share with the world some of my heart and maybe even meet other people who find they have passions similar to me. Since everything lives on the internet, I figured it was time I joined.

On this blog, I plan to share my Pure Barre journey as well as my foodie and adult beverage adventures, and maybe even some inner thoughts from time to time. I think that the key to my personal happiness is balance, which is something I have been working at having more of in the last few years. This blog will demonstrate my balance – the balance between indulging in delicious food and cocktails/beer and keeping myself happy and healthy with exercise and a well-rounded lifestyle.

I look forward to starting my journey here with all of you, readers! Come along for the ride, I think we will all have some fun 🙂

Hi! Think we could be friends? Say hello in the comments below! I’m thrilled to have the chance to connect with people who love the same things I do. There’s no such thing as too many food or puppy pictures. There just isn’t!