Contagious Coffee Habit

Resonance: the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighboring object

For those who don’t know, a few months ago, my family was foreclosed on. We moved in with one of my dad’s musician friends who was gracious enough to house the three of us. Even though it was an adjustment, the Lord’s hand was on it in various ways. For one, my brother’s college is only ten minutes away, so whenever he was sick or something needed to be dropped off, we didn’t have to make a long trek across town and back through Atlanta traffic. Dad has been able to make more music connections and mom has made some business connections. Me? I feel kind of stuck. I am grateful for time to study and work on my own little projects, read, and dream, but I miss having my own space. I don’t feel like an intrusion per se, but the house is austere and not very homey. The neighborhood is beautiful, but their house doesn’t have a front porch (*sniff* not a sore spot at all…) and I stay cooped up in my room a lot because my bedroom and study area is all in one. I don’t know anyone around and finally ventured out to a coffee shop recently. (And I finally even visited a church yesterday!) All this to say, most days are fine, but there can be a few days that I really feel the change and some homesickness even.

Usually I make a French press every morning. Coffee has a way of warming my body and feeding my soul. It creates a sense of normalcy and routine. Anyway, one morning I wandered downstairs and starting prepping my coffee. The daughter of the couple we’re staying with came into town a few days to surprise her mom with a visit and she was standing around in the kitchen too. The mom took a cup of coffee from the Keurig and started spooning sugar out of our sugar container to fix up her cup of goodness. The daughter exclaimed, “Mom, when have you started drinking coffee?!” She laughingly gestured at me and said, “Because of these people.” I was amused! Here I was going about my routine, probably in my thoughts as usual, and this consistent habit of mine had rubbed off on the wife we’re staying with!

In that moment it was apparent to me how easily we can influence or rub off on other people when we’re consistent in our habits (whether good or bad, mind you!) when we’re not even trying to make an impact. This should cast a sobriety over our own hearts, because none of us are islands. People are always watching and gleaning, for better or for worse. So what habits and messages are you consistently sending off? Are you a thermostat (setting the tone) or thermometer (matching the tone already set)?

~Lina Marie


Floating Epiphany

Notandum: a thing to be observed or noticed

Oh no, her lips are pursed!

Her body language looks like she’s not interested and already has some defenses to make.

MOM! Just give it a REST…

Mom and I were in an office with the two owners, a husband and wife, of this particular business. We had come to pitch some ideas about website redesign, social media upkeep, and other business promoters. They wanted to grow and we were there to help throttle them into a new and exciting time.

Except, I wasn’t doing much pitching. I was just listening to my mom propose interesting suggestions while I was battling my discomfort and hushing my fears.

You see, I’ve never been one to embrace conflict and tend to err on the side of people pleasing. I like to be liked. If I sense a whiff of disagreement, my natural instinct is to change the subject or jump more on board with whomever I’m communicating with even if I disagree. I also don’t like selling people anything. An idea. A book. Myself. Forget it. Getting a “no” sucks, so I’d rather just smile, nod, and agree.

The wife looked like she wasn’t quite following or understanding or agreeing with what my mom was saying, and it took everything within me not to brush over the subject and move unto more agreeable topics. The objections the wife had were fair, but sometimes we cling unto things that gave us success in the past rather than trying new formats that might bring us new successes and opportunities in the future.

And that’s where it clicked.

Here I was internally fighting against my selfishness, my “default” when reagirl-butterfly-statue-kneelinglly, I had no reasons to feel this fear at all. Holding unto old fears, old ways of thinking, old ways of doing things might have had their place at point but need to be re-evaluated for usefulness or benefit.

Conflict is NOT bad and NOT to be avoided. Friction and growing pains may be hard, but that’s where the good stuff happens. New ideas are shared. Relationships are built. Risks are taken. Understanding takes place. Deals are signed.

And really, a “no” isn’t that bad. There are a myriad of reasons why someone may say that and that “no” may just mean I need to figure out a new way of doing something.

After what seemed like an eternity, we stood up, gave hugs, shook hands. We toured the floor, happily admiring the amenities and hominess the place provided. As we were leaving, I noticed a statue of a little girl with a butterfly in her palm on the counter near the door. Immediately, I shook my head in amused laughter, because it seemed like a perfect representation of the solution I needed.

Children are so trusting and carefree. They’re inquisitive, explore, and ask “why”. They’re awed by every new experience and new discovery. They learn quickly. They tumble, fall, and may cry, but get right back up and keep running.

The butterfly in that little girl’s hand was once a caterpillar. It squirmed on the ground, on leaves, on trees. But not until it died to itself — essentially becoming a living sacrifice — that it blossomed into its true nature. A butterfly.

I want to die to my fears. My selfishness. My embarrassment. My pride.

And with every new experience, I hope to be mindful of those opportunities to grow. I want to be a like a child, absorbing and contributing fearlessly.

I must take note.

~Lina Marie


Will You Grow or Stay Fixed?

Kibosh: put an end to; dispose of decisively

“Lina, you HAVE to read this book. It totally changed my life!”

I was sitting in a friend’s apartment across the street from Howard University listening to her voice frustrations about internal struggles, grueling hours, and glaring shortcomings. Medical school was being a beast and in encouragement, shared a book about the growth vs. fixed mindset I needed to put on my reading list that helped her through her time.

Shortly after returning home, I requested Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck from our local library. The premise of the book compares the growth vs. fixed mindset and why brilliance and abilities are often overstated/overvalued whereas hard work and humility are better indicators of success.

Growing up, school was relatively easy. I enjoyed getting good grades, turning assignments in on time, and learning. I often attributed my success to my “smartness” rather than hard work (which I did lot of), because my intelligence was often the aspect praised, so I began to believe that was the source of my positive outcomes. However, this only supported my perfectionism, so I hardly took risks. Staying in the realm of what I knew prevented me from experimenting and, heaven forbid, making mistakes. I could NOT seem dumb, unknowledgable, or average. And from this sprang my tendency to not contribute dissenting or differing opinions, so my reasoning couldn’t be shredded IMG_20170605_184043apart. Fear is all it was.

Anyway, I start reading Dr. Dweck’s book and saw my old self. Worried about how others viewed me. Risk averse. Lounging in my comfort zone. CEOs, musicians, athletes, and others from all walks of life have never reached their full capacities, ruined companies, and estranged teammates because of the fixed mindset. This is a tragedy.

Today I choose to let go of the fear of making mistakes, looking silly, and not taking risks. Who knows the experiences we miss out on because of our own pride and ego protecting. Life is a work in progress, and it’s through making mistakes, reaching out, and stewarding what we have now that’ll lead to great and unexpected outcomes. We’re not promised comfort and ease. How we react to what’s thrown at us will make all the difference.

~Lina Marie

realIf you are interested in reading Dr. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, check it out on Amazon here!

One Small Change

Akrasia: the state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgment through weakness of will

It used to be whenever I’d get home from work, I’d slip out of my work clothes, throw them out of sight, and slap on some sweats and a comfortable sweater. Usually, I’d flop on the floor in exhaustion, snack on some pre-dinner food, or get straight to studying.

Each day, I’d end up adding to this pile of clothing in effort to “save time” out of pure laziness. On Friday evening, the prime time to relax into the weekend, I’d have clothing strewn everywhere inducing unnecessary stress. I’d grown to resent any sight of clothing, even if it was laundry and not my own, careless doing.

One Monday afternoon, on a call with my college coach, I was venting to her about everything you can imagine. I hardly ever have bad days, but this was the anomaly; I felt zapped of energy and motivation. Weeding through certain issues, she asked what changes I could make in my life to reduce any causes for stress. With pursed lips and mental activity on overdrive, I realized that by not putting away my work clothes immediately, I was giving myself more work in the future, stealing unneeded time and adding to the chore list. I committed to changing this lazy habit and see what effect it would have.

The very next day, after getting home from work and changing, I hung back up my office attire rather than leaving it on my couch or beanbag. After doing this for several days, I realized that it probably took me 30 seconds or less to put away thatHabits Are Merely day’s clothes rather than several minutes (plus my begrudging attitude that made the process longer). It was incredible! That one small change in habit made my life more breezy. I’d come home to a clean room every day and feel no qualms about conking out early on Fridays due to previous piles of clothes.

I began implementing this principle to other parts of my life: throwing out trash from my car rather than letting it accumulate, logging out of social media during studying, tidying up small messes and disorganization rather than putting it off. All around, it’s freed up my time and life to focus on what’s more important.

I’ve realized that habits don’t form with big, grandiose changes, but small ones. In the spirit of the New Year and resolutions, I encourage you to nail down on what you’ve been procrastinating and why. Biting off more than you can chew will make you gag or burn out.

Want to get into the habit of exercising? Start by leisurely walking around your neighborhood.

Want to read more? Pick up that book you’ve stashed on your shelf and read one page.

Want to eat healthier? Choose one meal, once a week that you will intentionally prepare nutritiously.

You’ll realize that overthinking the process makes it longer because you convince yourself it’ll take a long time. What if we invested all that time dreading the process into working the solution? Habits are merely the sum of our choices. It takes effort and purposefulness, and it’s in your power to steer in the right direction.

~Lina Marie