How to Stay Body Positive

How to Stay Body Positive

I was watching a YouTube video the other day, and in the video the YouTuber stated her weight. I looked through the comments and found many young girls saying things such as: “I’m only 14 and I weigh more than her” and asking if that was okay or if they were too big.

I replied to as many comments as I could, telling the girls that it isn’t healthy to compare yourself to others because every body is unique, and as long as you are healthy and happy it doesn’t matter what you weigh. But I know this message is easy to say and not quite as easy to believe.

I have definitely had my fair share of anxiety about the way my body looks, but I do feel I have learned some helpful tricks over the years to remain more body positive. Hopefully some of these tips will help those of you who might be struggling.

Stop comparing yourself to others

As I told the young girls commenting on the YouTube video, it does no good to judge yourself based on the standard others have set. Not only does it inevitably lead to negative thoughts, but it is not productive or logical. Every single person on this planet has a different body, and no matter how hard you try, yours will never look exactly like someone else’s, and you will be left feeling disappointed if you constantly covet another’s body type.

Do things that make you feel strong, healthy and confident

The healthier alternative to comparing yourself to others is to focus on your own mind and body, and do things that make you feel good. For me this includes taking a yoga class every week, going on walks at least three times a week, hiking in the greenbelt at least once a month, and going shopping or dressing up every once in a while to feel more confident.

Be nice to yourself

Next time you catch yourself criticizing your appearance, turn your thoughts to what you love about yourself instead. Whenever I look at myself in the mirror, I try to think of something positive instead of immediately jumping to something negative. You can even pretend you’re complimenting someone else instead of yourself, if that helps! It’s much easier for us to find the beauty in others, for whatever reason.

Keep track of the compliments you receive from others

Speaking of complimenting others, another good trick is to take note of the compliments you receive, and be sure to repeat them to yourself when you’re feeling down. Whether it’s that you have nice nails (something one of my coworkers always tells me), or maybe even just that someone liked your outfit one day. Reminding ourselves of how others see us is very helpful when trying to stay body positive!.

I hope this helped you, or just added a little positivity to your Sunday night! Try these tips out this week and see how it changes the way you feel for the rest of the week. Also, if you’re looking for some general positivity tricks, check out my How To Stay Positive post.

Table Talk Tuesday With Anna Gordon

Table Talk Tuesday With Anna Gordon

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Welcome to the first-ever Table Talk Tuesday, a new interview series I’m starting where I talk to bloggers and entrepreneurs that I admire. But before I get into talking about my first interviewee, I wanted to give a quick shout-out to my friend Lindsay for creating the cute image you see above!

First up in the hot seat this Tuesday is Anna Gordon, social media manager and creator of House of Hashtag, a platform for female entrepreneurs. She also has a brand new website in the works, so I will share that link when it is live.

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To start off, can you tell me your life story in three sentences or less?

My background is in art, design and photography. I have certainly had a lot of trials and tribulations in life but I am grateful for my struggles as they have led me to where I am today, and I am happy!

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

I would tell myself not to worry so much and to never miss out on an opportunity for the fear of being disliked. Up until the age of about 23 I was so insecure about my appearance, I would often avoid going out with friends and attending any social event. Looking back, I feel I missed out on a lot.

If you had a life motto, what would it be?

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

What is the most important thing for people to know before starting a business/blog?

Done is better than perfect. It’s important that we get things right for our businesses and blogs, but spending forever on something until it is perfect is a waste of time. Just get it out there! Also I think having a positive mindset is crucial as well.

Sometimes our failures/setbacks teach us more than our successes. Can you talk about a time when you failed and what it taught you?

Honestly, I have experienced so many ‘failures’ and setbacks but like I said in my first answer, I am genuinely grateful for those times because I believe I am exactly where I am supposed to be in life. I think going through rough times and experiencing failures helps mold you into a more compassionate person to others. Ultimately, sometimes we all just have to roll with the punches when things don’t work out.

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My mum (she is literally my best friend) 2. My partner, David. 3. Finding my passion

Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

Oh tough one, I have so many “girl crushes”. At the moment I’d have to say I’m crushing on Mariah Coz the most. She really knows her stuff, gives away so much free content and she comes across as genuine and down to earth.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I’d have to say travelling solo around Australia and South East Asia (which was amazing by the way). I have always been such a shy and anxious person. So for me to step out of my comfort zone to that extent and follow my dreams makes me proud.

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. What is your go-to karaoke song?

Prince- 1999

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I hope you all enjoyed the first installment of Table Talk Tuesday with the very inspirational Anna Gordon! Be sure to follow her on Instagram, and keep your eyes out for another interview next Tuesday.
Interested in being featured? Email me at shelly@shellyray.com.

How To Stay Positive

How To Stay Positive

It’s been a difficult week for a lot of people because of the election, and for me personally, it’s been a rough three weeks (unrelated to the election). Despite this, I think I’ve been able to remain relatively happy, so I thought I’d share some of my tips for staying positive through tough times.

Keep track of the good times

I believe it’s not only possible, but also very important, to find at least one positive moment in each day. The last few weeks have taught me that no matter what is going on in the world or in my personal life, there is always something to smile about, whether it be getting to spend time with old friends, or getting a card and cake from my coworkers for my one year anniversary.

Don’t forget to be grateful

Along with paying attention to the positive moments in life, I have also started to keep track of what I am grateful for. Thanksgiving may be a few weeks away, but I think having gratitude for all of the amazing things in my life should be a year-long goal. I’ve started going over each positive moment and what I am grateful for each night before I fall asleep. It really helps put things in perspective when I realize I have so many things to be thankful for, and so many happy memories each day.

Focus on others

Another important trick for staying positive is to get outside of yourself and focus on someone else for a change. This could be in the form of a small act of kindness, giving someone a compliment, or making an effort to ask a friend how they are doing and listening to them before talking about yourself. I have found I feel much happier when I take the time to pay attention to other people’s needs as well as my own.

Treat yourself

I know I just talked about paying attention to others, but I do want to stress how important it is to take care of yourself as well. I’ve been taking the time to do things for me lately, which includes taking nice hot baths when I need a little relaxation, going to yoga and zumba classes, taking walks and hiking, catching up on one of my favorite TV shows, and spending lots of time with friends and family. Whatever it is that makes you happy, be sure to do more of that, especially when you’re feeling particularly down.

 

I hope you found this helpful in some way! I just thought the world could use more good vibes lately. Let me know if you have any other tricks for staying positive, I’d love to hear about them!

 

 

The Difference Between Giving Up and Moving On

The Difference Between Giving Up and Moving On

The past two weeks I’ve been agonizing over one simple decision: whether or not to continue taking my improv class. I completed four levels (each six weeks long), which is definitely much more than I expected to complete.

At some point towards the end of Level Four, I started thinking I might not want to continue to Level Five. I had a few different pros and cons, which I found myself weighing over and over again with the help of my friends, boyfriend and family. (In case you can’t tell, I am a very indecisive person). The gist of the pros is that I enjoy having a hobby that allows me to step outside of my comfort zone while spending time with new friends. The gist of the cons is that I often feel overwhelmed with too much going on each week and it was starting to not be as much fun for me as it was in the earlier levels.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that what I truly wanted was to stop improv, even though I knew I might feel some regret about my decision. I’ve never liked the idea of quitting something, and in a way I felt that stopping before I completed all six levels was a form of quitting. However, I decided that sometimes you have to move on from something, and you don’t have to think of it in such negative terms as ‘giving up’ or ‘quitting.’ Everything in life has an ending, and there’s nothing wrong with choosing to stop doing something if you no longer wish to be doing it.

My friend Heather told me a really great quote the other day, which went something like: “If you’re not saying heck yes to something, you shouldn’t be doing it.” I really liked that because it made me think about what I am saying yes to, and what I should be saying yes to. The fact that I was so unsure about whether or not I wanted to do improv proved that I shouldn’t be doing it anymore, because I was giving it an I guess so at best, rather than a heck yes! 

Saying yes to another level of improv when my heart isn’t fully in it would not do me any good. Instead, I should be spending my time doing things that I know with certainty I want to be doing. I’ve decided that means putting more energy into this blog. Writing blog posts brings me a lot of happiness, and I have been wanting to take it more seriously for a while now. Here’s my chance!

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My improv class 

Thanks so much for reading! Let me know in the comments if you have ever struggled with the difference between giving up and moving on, or if you have had any particularly tough decisions to make lately, and how you were able to come to your decision.

 

Handling Stress

Handling Stress

This week has been extremely busy and stressful. One of my coworkers that I work closely with is out on “paternity leave” since his wife just had a baby, so I have gotten some added responsibilities while he’s gone. Some of the work was expected, but some was quite unexpected. I’ve honestly been really proud of how I’ve handled the week so far, so I thought I’d use today’s blog to share what I have been doing this week to help control my stress.

Make To-Do Lists

I’ve always been a fan of writing lists, as I mentioned in this blog, and I especially recommend this if you’re having a busy or stressful week. It really helps to have something visual to reference when prioritizing your workload. There isn’t much in this world that’s more satisfying to me than crossing something off a list!

Ask For Help

Asking for help, or asking questions, is something I’ve learned to be better at over the years. I used to be afraid of asking for help, and always wanted to try to figure everything out on my own. However, I’ve definitely learned that it’s better to ask if you’re unsure about something. It’s also not a bad thing to ask for some support on something. For example, with my added responsibilities this week, I’ve had trouble keeping up with my normal everyday work. To remedy this, I started delegating work to our interns. They are always happy to help, and it is such a relief when they’re able to take things off my plate for me.

Think of the Future

I’ve found myself thinking “what would Future Shelly want you to do right now?” a lot this week. For example, I went in early to work yesterday, and stayed late today to knock off some of my to-do’s, simply because I knew I would thank myself later. Since I work a salary job, it’s hard to feel motivated to put in extra hours, as I won’t be paid extra. However, I had a lightbulb moment where I realized it’s better to get things over with today as opposed to putting it off. And I have to say, I think Future Shelly will be quite happy I put in the extra hours.

Make a Playlist

I’m sure I’m not the only person who finds music to be very soothing and therapeutic. I like to write down songs I hear on the radio and then make big Spotify playlists of all the new music I find. This week I’ve enjoyed blasting my playlist “Current Faves” on the way to work, on the way home from work, and even a few times at work. I’m one of those people who doesn’t have a problem with concentrating with music playing, and in fact I find it calms me and helps me focus at times. It also is always sure to put me in a good mood. As a matter of fact, I’m listening to my new playlist right now!

 

I hope you enjoyed reading my secrets to handling stress! Can you relate to any of these? Are there tricks you use to relieve stress that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments!

College Grad Ramblings: Social Life

College Grad Ramblings: Social Life

I have officially been a college graduate for one year (and three weeks), so I thought I would start a little series where I share some of the big lessons I learned this year.

For the first post, I want to talk about my social life since graduating. Hopefully some of you can relate to this, and those of you who are still in college can get an idea of what to expect.

College is so great because you have all of your friends in one place; you can walk to each other’s dorms, meet up in the cafeteria, or say hi to each other on the way to class. After freshman year you will probably even live with your friends. Hanging out is an effortless task.

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My sophomore roommates and me, the day we moved in
Post-college life is much different. Not only are you most likely not living in the same city as your college friends anymore, but you’re working a full time job. Finding time to see your friends, much less meeting new friends, can seem almost impossible. I was lucky in that I moved back to my hometown and already had a lot of friends here. But I still had to learn to push myself to invite them to hang out, and also had to get outside my comfort zone to meet new friends. I found that with the stress of starting a new job, I often felt too tired or too busy to hang out with friends, even though I knew I should.

If you read my New Years Resolutions blog, you know that one of my resolutions was to make more time for friends. Though I haven’t always lived up to my goal of seeing friends three times a week, I have definitely been pushing myself to jump on any opportunity to be social, no matter how much I feel like just staying home and watching Netflix. A secret I learned is to just say “yes” to any opportunity to go out with friends, before you have time to second guess it or convince yourself you don’t want to go.

I have also been making an effort to meet new friends, which I think is extremely important for anyone who is newly graduated. My improv class has been my main way of making new friends, and I would highly recommend finding a hobby or activity outside of work where you can meet new people. Growing up I always enjoyed having multiple different groups of friends, so this has been a great way for me to find a new group to spend time with.

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My awesome improve class
All in all I think I’ve done a pretty good job of adjusting to my new social life after college, but it is always a work in progress. I still have those days where I don’t feel like being social, and I still feel anxious about meeting new people every now and then. Reminding myself that I will never regret spending time with friends is my main motivation.

Let me know in the comments if you experienced any of these things when you graduated! Also, I’d love to hear ideas for other ramblings I should do about post-grad life.

Life Lessons From Improv

Life Lessons From Improv

Hi everyone! As some of you may remember from my My Plan for a Happy 2016 blog, one of my resolutions was to take an improv comedy class. Well, that class ended last week, so I thought I would give you all an update and talk about what I learned! Even if you have no interest in improv, or have never done it yourself, you will still enjoy this blog because it is focusing more on the life lessons I took away and less on the details of the improv class and what we did.

The class was six weeks long, and met once a week. Each week’s class had an overarching theme or “big idea”, so I will talk through a couple of my favorite lessons from the class and how I think they can be applied to everyday life.

Be present

In improv, being present essentially entails paying attention to what is happening around you, and not zoning out or thinking about other things while you’re in the class. This can be surprisingly difficult, especially for someone like me who tends to overthink everything and try to plan out what I will say or do next.

Unfortunately or fortunately, the whole point of improv is that you can’t plan anything out, and you just have to go with the flow. This has been a challenge but has helped me grow over the past few weeks. Learning to just be in the moment and react to what happens around me is a great lesson that I have tried to carry over to both my work life and my social life. I often find myself zoning out while talking to my friends or getting stuck looking to the future too much instead of just focusing on the here and now, and I think improv is helping me overcome that and be more aware of the present. My question for you is: How can you be more present?

Be committed

One of the biggest challenges of improv is going “all in” so to speak, or not being afraid to make a fool out of yourself. There’s a certain level of commitment that you have to make both to yourself and to other in your class, that you will try your best and not hold back at all. It is not nearly as fun if you spend the whole time worrying about if you’re doing it right or if people will think you’re silly.

This is something that I struggle with every single day. At work, I sometimes feel hesitant to speak my mind or offer my own ideas because I’m worried about what everyone will think. Luckily I do think this improv class has helped me to realize that everything is better when you make the effort to go all out. Whether that is trying to offer up a few of your own ideas at a meeting, or not backing out of plans to hang out with friends. I am always striving to get to a point in my life where I can honestly say that I am fully committing to all of my choices and that I am going through life with confidence. My question for you is: How can you be more committed?

 

All in all I am very glad I joined the improv class. I got a few compliments after the class was over; people told me that they thought I had really grown and broken out of my shell throughout the six weeks, so that was great to hear! I have met some awesome people in the class, and I even decided to sign up for Level 2! So expect another improv-related blog in the future.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post! Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried improv. I’d also love to hear your answers to my questions about how you will personally try to integrate these lessons into your life.

And one more thing: I got the exciting opportunity to be featured on a blog that I greatly admire, and I will be sharing the post with you all tomorrow morning, so keep a look-out for that! 🙂

Long Distance Relationships

Long Distance Relationships

 

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Hi everyone! I’ve been wanting to write a blog about long distance relationships for months now, and this finally felt like the right time to talk about it. After about nine months of long distance, my boyfriend Brian and I are finally going to be living in the same city again in a couple of weeks and I couldn’t be more excited!

A little background on our relationship for those that are curious: Brian and I went to the same college and were friends for years before we became boyfriend/girlfriend in December, 2014. We had an awesome five months together, and then I graduated in May and decided to move back home. Brian still had another semester of college, so this put us in a long distance relationship for about nine months. Which brings us to today. Brian just got a job in Austin and will be moving here in a few weeks!

Long distance has been very difficult at times, but although I couldn’t be happier that it is ending, I do feel like I learned a lot from the experience. I also think that it made our relationship stronger in a way, because it forced us to learn to have good communication and to never take time together for granted. Because of this, I thought I would share some advice about long distance relationships (LDRs) that will hopefully be interesting or helpful to some of you.

Commitment

Before even considering an LDR, you and your partner need to really think about whether or not it is worth it. The level of commitment the two of you have for one another is one of the most important indicators as to whether an LDR will work out. You need to make sure you care about this person enough to want to end up in the same place eventually. Brian and I avoided the topic of whether or not we would stay together after I graduated for as long as we could, until we finally went ahead and discussed it. We both agreed that an LDR would only be worth it if we were both equally committed to ending up in the same city as soon as possible. We determined that we were, and from there all we had to do was plan to make the long distance as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Communication 

Communication really is the key to a happy relationship, and it becomes even more important in LDRs. Because you can’t see each other frequently in person, being able to still feel connected emotionally can be difficult, and becomes even more difficult if the lines of communication are not strong. For my boyfriend and I, different avenues of communication really helped. Although we texted throughout the day like most couples, we also sprinkled in extra modes of communication such as emails, phone calls, Skype calls (almost every night), Facebook messages and even the occasional letter in the mail. This variety adds excitement and creativity to the relationship. Which brings me to my next piece of advice…

Creativity

Although LDRs are very difficult and may seem impossible at times, there are certain perks. They allow you to utilize different communication styles such as the ones I mentioned above. They also allow you and your partner to use your creativity a bit. Brian came up with lots of fun ideas for how to make our time apart more bearable. On Skype calls we often play a game of Hangman, and make up words and phrases that have to do with our relationship. He also created a crossword puzzle for me, and all of the words had to do with the two of us. Another fun idea he had was to create a Spotify playlist which included all of the songs that have had an impact on his life, from his childhood to present. I loved all of these ideas, and I really think that they allowed us to stay connected in a unique way. When I was missing him I could turn on the playlist, or take a look at the crossword puzzle he made, and it was sure to put a smile on my face!

Compassion

Lastly, I want to talk about the importance of compassion. Understanding your significant other’s needs and feelings is very important. If they seem extra stressed or irritable one day, it is likely not your fault and may very well be stemming from the fact that they miss you and wish that you could be together in person. Listen intently when your partner talks to you, and make sure you are giving them everything they need emotionally to be able to continue with the relationship. They may need you to communicate better, or open up more about your feelings for them, or even try your hand at being creative. If there is not a good foundation of compassion in the relationship, I don’t think it will stand a chance.

 

Well, there you go! Those are my top four categories that I think are important to remember in long distance relationships. I’d love to hear your opinions, advice or personal stories about long distance relationships or just relationships in general, so please leave your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂

New Job: Tips for Success

Hey everyone! If you saw my Exciting Life Update post you’ll know that I just started my first ever full-time job! I have been working there for three weeks now and I am loving it so far. Going into it I was a little nervous just because I had never worked 40 hours a week before and I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. But now that I have three weeks under my belt I feel a lot more comfortable, and I figured some of you might benefit from hearing my advice about making the first few weeks of a new job the best they can be! So here are my three tips for success at a new job.

Tip #1: Go above and beyond

I think that when you are new at a job it’s good to always be thinking of extra things you can do to help out. Don’t just settle for doing the bare minimum, think about how you could add to what you’ve been assigned to do in order to make your supervisor’s job easier. Doing this will show your coworkers that you are serious about your job, and prove to them that hiring you was a great decision.

Tip #2: Share your opinions

It’s easy to think that because you’re the newbie you shouldn’t share your thoughts or opinions on things yet, but that is definitely not true. They hired you for a reason, and it’s never too early to share ideas that you have or to be honest about an idea someone else has that maybe you don’t quite agree with. It shows that you’re capable of bringing new perspectives to the table, which is very valuable for any organization.

Tip #3: Stay organized

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed or to forget to do little things when you’re first starting out in a new environment, but overlooking tasks is a big don’t, especially in your first few weeks. To stay on top of everything I like to hand write to-do lists and cross off items when they are complete. Not only does it help me to visualize everything that needs to be done, it also feels oddly rewarding to physically cross something off of a list when you have accomplished it. If you work on a Mac I would also suggest typing in “reminders” on your computer that will send a notification when you need to do something. This is helpful if there are time-sensitive projects you need to finish, or if you are afraid you will forget something a few weeks from now.

 

I hope these tips were helpful to you, whether you are starting out in a new job like me, or just wondering what you should be thinking about when the time comes to start  job. Comment below to let me know your tips for success at a new job!

Why I Hate #Goals

There is a new trend I’ve seen lately, which is the use of the word “goals” (often used in hashtag form with a word in front of it) in association with people (often celebrities). For example, I have seen countless comments on Instagram saying “#relationshipgoals” for pictures of celebrities, friends or YouTubers and their significant others. I have also seen an even more disturbing trend of “#bodygoals”. Why am I calling this disturbing? Let me explain.

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There is no denying that we live in a society where worshipping celebrities and coveting things about their life or appearance is common. Magazines are constantly bombarding us with tips for how to look more like Celebrity X, or how to obtain Body Y. Many people tend to get far too wrapped up in articles like these, thinking that if we only drank the juice blend that our favorite celebrity drinks, or copied the exact workout that she performs daily, we would magically become her. But obviously this is not the case.

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A goal, by definition, is: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. In my opinion, making the object of your ambition a person is very damaging because it leaves no possible positive result. We will constantly be disappointed because there is no way to actually achieve this. Our boyfriend will never be the exact same as our favorite YouTuber’s boyfriend. And our body will never look the exact same as our favorite celebrity’s. Is it really fair to place an unattainable goal on ourselves and expect to achieve it? Why not focus on setting goals that are unique to what we actually believe we can obtain?

For example, instead of making someone else’s body your “goal”, why not set a goal to work out a certain number of times per week, or to get your body back to how it looked a few years ago? The key here is that both of these goals have to do with you and not someone else, and thus are attainable with hard work and effort. And if you think someone else’s relationship as perfect, why not take a look at your own relationship, and decide on specific ways you and your partner could improve, separate from how you perceive the relationship between two strangers to be.

In a nutshell: try to focus on yourself, not others. You will never obtain someone else’s body or boyfriend. You will, however, obtain your individual goals if you set them to be obtainable for you. When goals are centered around yourself and your own life, rather than someone else’s, they have a much better chance of being accomplished.

Hope you enjoyed this blog! Like and comment to let me know if you agree with my annoyance at the #goals trend on the internet. I would also love to hear some positive goals you have set for yourself!

 

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