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Notes To My Younger Self

Today I’m posting as part of a blog crawl to help spread the word about The Post College Survival Kit. A huge group of amazing bloggers are sharing what we learned the hard way – so you don’t have to! You don’t have to wait till your thirties for a better job, a cuter apartment, financial stability, better relationships + friendships. 

Notes To My Younger Self - Kyla Roma

Becoming yourself is not for the faint of heart, but it’s well worth the effort. If I could pass some advice back in time to my younger self, this is what I’d want her to know:

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Your intuition is a muscle: start to use it!

Tuning into my intuition in the past few years has had a huge positive impact on my life! It’s helped me fine tune the direction of my career, recognize mis-matches between clients and myself, and to take the reins on a big business development that will be launching this winter.

But for years, when my inner voice spoke to me I couldn’t tell if my worries, ego, or intuition was speaking up. I always wished that it was easier to tell the difference between those competing parts of myself, but I’ve only found out how when I took the time to learn.

What’s helped is taking dedicated time to just be still and become aware of what kid of thoughts my mind starts running toward. I’ll identify the kinds of thoughts that I’m having by name – like “Worrying”, “Planning”, or that old classic “Judgement”, and then try to let the thought pass without getting swept up in it. It’s a form of meditation that’s a great way to take the temperature on how you’re doing on a given day. The effort has helped me recognize when I’m caught up in the moment, or when what I’m feeling comes from a deep, core priority  that I need to pay attention to.

 

What other people think of you is none of your business

In my early twenties I was incredibly curious about what other people thought of me. And I was more invested in what they thought that I would admit to myself. When you are in the middle of defining yourself, or when you’re unsure about the direction your path will take, it’s comforting to get positive feedback because it makes you feel like you’re on the right track. The thing is, there is no right track in life other than being yourself and doing what makes you happy!

We all have incomplete understandings of who the people around us are, so we fill in the gaps for ourselves. If someone accidentally puts you in the wrong “box” in their mind, and then gets upset when you’re being who you are? That’s about them, not you. Laugh about it and keep on shining.

The sense of certainty you get from someone else giving you a pat on the back doesn’t hold a candle to the feeling of knowing who you are and accepting yourself – imperfections and all.

 

Check in and see if your normal is normal

One of the biggest surprises of my early twenties was finding out that I’d been living with clinical Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder for years, and that life could feel totally different than it did. I’d always been a worrier, it didn’t take much to exhaust me, and I’d always had bouts of deep sadness, but I thought that everyone experienced those things.

Use your curiosity to consider your experience as a person in this world, and don’t assume that your normal is what everyone else is living through too. Speak to your friends, speak to your family, and speak to your doctor about anything that comes between you and living a happy, full life.

You could gain years you would have otherwise spent trying to figure out what’s wrong – and your whole life could be the other side of that discovery.

Consider the cost of risks you don’t take

When I quit my day job in late 2009 I’d done some groundwork to help me feel confident that I could make it on my own – for a few months at least. It was scary to take that leap – but it was made easier by the fact that I had a clear picture of what I was risking if I didn’t try to become self employed. On some level, I had felt out of place and uneasy in every job I’d ever had – and if I didn’t try to make something for myself, I could picture what it would feel like to live with that every day of my life. And I didn’t want to find out how accurate my imagination was!


Organic Dark Chocolate Energy Bites

Dark Chocolate Energy Bites

I’ve been snacking like crazy lately, and having something healthy nearby always helps make sure I don’t dive into something I’ll regret later. This is so easy to throw together that it barely qualifies as a recipe, but they’re a delicious way to satisfy a sweet tooth so I took a few pictures to share.

After all, when the words “chocolate” and “almost too easy to qualify as a recipe” are in the same sentence, sharing the details is for the common good.

FinishedChip

 

Organic Dark Chocolate Energy Bites

Inspired by Simply Tara Lynn

Yield:  16 circles, slightly larger than a quarter.

Grab…

  • 1/4 C Tbsp organic dark chocolate chips
  • Unsalted organic trail mix
  • Hemp hearts (optional)
  • Wax paper & a cookie sheet or a large, freezer safe surface like a plastic cutting board

Okay!

  1. Pop the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 20 seconds to melt the chips. Stir, then heat for another 15 seconds if all chips aren’t melted.
  2. Lay the wax paper down on your cookie sheet, and dip a spoon into the chocolate. Scoop up the chocolate and drizzle it into chocolate circles.
  3. Take a handful of trail mix and sprinkle on top of the chocolate circles. Adjust the trail mix pieces & down slightly, to make sure all the pieces are touching the chocolate.
  4. Sprinkle with hemp hearts (optional)
  5. Allow chocolate to cool on the counter and set, or place in the freezer for 10 minutes to start enjoying them right away.

oncookiesheet


Re-Set Your Goals (Before They Level You!)

Stop Chasing Worthiness, Be Still & Listen to What Makes Your Heart Sing by Kyla Roma

The summer is usually one of my favourite times, and I’ve been anticipating this year’s more than I usually would. I’ve designed blogs and websites full time for almost four years but for the past year, instead of one-on-one client work I’ve craved blogging, being involved in my community and creating online courses.

If you’ve read my blog, you already know I love goal setting. I’m a complete day planner / agenda / goal setting / personal development / journaling nerd and for a long time I blogged my monthly goals here.

Usually my goals are focused around actions I can take on a daily basis, and the ways that I want to be in the world, but this year for the first time I set a big scary goal: I wanted to make $50,000 this year.

Being in my third year of working for myself this was scary! While I track how much I earn every month I’ve never set concrete financial goals before, and this would be my biggest earning year yet. I was determined and excited about it- and I knew that I could hit those numbers if I just hustled hard enough.

At the time, this wasn’t my primary goal of the year. It was a way of expressing that I was transitioning from working with clients on large scale one-on-one projects, to consulting work, speaking and teaching classes. But there was something about that number that stuck in my head.

Instead of transitioning my work from one-to-one to one-to-many, I started thinking $50,000.

Instead of thinking about how I want to blog consistently and be a better community member, I started worrying about $50,000.

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the line I pinned my worthiness to something I couldn’t control.

As it always does, this year life has happened. I’ve taken time off to travel, said yes to working with past clients on updating their sites, had a number of projects triple in scope, and have prioritized friendships, family, and experiencing the world around me.

It felt great and is completely in line with my priorities! But on paper, I was a failing.

At first I thought there was no harm in keeping that $50,00 number around on my planning sheets. I would still update them as an income tracking tool, no big deal! But by June I wasn’t updating them anymore because there was $50,000 staring me down every time I opened them up.

I know that it’s a fictional $50,000. It doesn’t really exist. It’s a phantom, an idea, and a benchmark that I made up.

And while I know it’s not where my happiness or worthiness lives, the frustration and claustrophobia it made me feel was very real.

We’ve all had these moments and so often they’re tied to numbers, aren’t they?

It can be pageviews, dollars earned, days of vacation, comments on a post or pounds on a scale. If it’s easy to measure, it’s easy for us to weaponize against ourselves.

After floundering for a few months, telling myself that I “couldn’t” blog while I had client work on my to do list and living too much in my head I went to my family’s cabin earlier this month. Limited internet and distractions resulted in dialing up the volume on my internal monologue and intuition, and I finally realized what had been feeling so wrong. I needed to re-set my priorities and goals for the year now, before they levelled me!

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Here’s what I did & how to re-set your goals if they don’t serve you:

1. Define Your Values

Your values (or priorities) are the big picture, overarching themes you’d like to focus on through your actions. These can help give you a framework for what you’ll say yes to and make time for, so your year starts to take the shape that you’ve set for it.

2. Find Ways To Express Your Values Through Action

The trick for this part is to balance being specific with what you want with being specific about how you accomplish that. If you vow to run a mile a day but get injured, how do you negotiate that? Make sure you don’t paint yourself into a corner.


New (prickly!) addition to our family

Meet our new Hedgehog family member, because why not.

Sometimes life takes very unexpected turns, and right after my last post my life took an unexpected & delightful one. Also? A little prickly.

A pet hedgehog who was abandoned by her owners outside was found in someone’s front yard and taken the the Winnipeg Humane Society. She had been starving for a little while because she never learned to hunt, and was in need of a forever family. My sweet friend Holli sent me a link to her posting, and I adopted her first thing the next morning!

I love animals, and I grew up reading Wind in the Willows and Beatrix Potter, so hedgehogs and rabbits are among the animals I can’t help but picture in a waistcoat or making tea. I’ve always been fascinated by them, and a hedgehog fits into our family perfectly.

Sometimes fate is pretty darn adorable.

So, friends? Meet Ramona.

Likes:

  • Treats
  • Napping in the crook of my arm (She PURRS!)
  • Running in her wheel like she’s qualifying for the olympics
  • Snuggling inside of my hoodie, where it feels very safe
  • Cuddling with our dog Mal, the moment he realized she was an animal and not a toy, but was still using self control to contain his barking

Dislikes:

  • Noises other than Kyla’s voice
  • Movement that is unexpected (see: most movement)
  • The veggies that accompany her food, which she mostly doesn’t not consider food items
  • Mal’s barking, which started the moment he realised she is a new animal in the house & didn’t have to use self control to contain himself anymore

Ready to break out of negative thinking?

One of the things that I find the most frustrating about day to day life is that I’m constantly beating myself up or being a downer.  I don’t even mean to, I quite like myself and my life is (mercifully, at the moment) pretty friction free. But even with all the luck in the world, most times it’s hard to stop the negative thoughts that run through our minds when they’re left undistracted.

How to break out of negative thinking (at KylaRoma.com)

Sometimes the negativity is hard to miss, and my doubts and insecurities will announce themselves with trumpets and fanfare, shouting and pointing fingers like lives hang in the balance… when I’m only making dinner.

But often it’s more subtle. I’ll be doing something normal, that’s not even unpleasant, but that stands between me and the rest of my day. I’ll be cleaning, and I’ll realize that while my body’s working and getting things done, my mind has drifted and my inner monologue was taken over by a sulky teenager who can’t believe I’m forcing her to do this.

And, on principle, she refuses to do anything without my knowing that how unhappy she is.

Us and our sulky teenage brains.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

I realized this about myself last year when I was trying to get back into working out. “Trying to get back into working out” is one of my perpetual hobbies, and for most of my life I’ve really, genuinely resented having to exercise. But last year, for the first time I got curious about why that is, and started to parse out exactly what it was about it I disliked.

When I thought about it, I saw that I don’t mind sweating, I don’t mind being active, and I actually really like feeling accomplished, strong, and having an endorphin rush after working out.

Counter to what I’d always thought, my experience showed me that I like the process of working out and I like how I feel after I workout… so what was going on here?

Once this dawned on me, I decided to try working out while being aware of my thoughts… and what I found shocked me. I don’t like exercising because while I’m doing it I whine and moan about how hard it is, no matter what I’m doing. I watch the clock and amplify every negative part of the experience, just out of habit.

I realized that I wasn’t actually avoiding exercise, I was avoiding spending time with myself when my thoughts are so negative and miserable!

Negative thinking is a hard habit to kick. It’s hardwired into us and is key to our survival. As humans, we still have deep-seated prey instincts in us. The only way to keep ourselves safe when we lived in tribes was to identify who was with us and who was against us, as quickly as possible, preferably from a safe distance away.

So we look for differences. That one piece of food that looks a little different from the rest? It could kill us. New people we haven’t seen before could turn our lives upside down. Having ancestors who were really good at assuming the worst, or at least being on the look out for it, is a huge part of how you and I are here today.

So we actually have sulky teenage caveman brains that have been with us since the dawn of time. This should be easy to fix, right?

Here’s what has helped me:

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1. Say, “Hello, Sweetie” to old habits, instead of goodbye

Just because we have a habit doesn’t mean it has to rule us. The simple act being aware of our inner monologue is a huge toward stepping in a new direction. Instead of being swept away by a negative thinking pattern, when you notice it happening, take a deep breath and say hello to that pattern.

I literally say “hello, sweetie” in my mind when I slip into negative thinking, which is a Doctor Who reference that delights me, and that moment of delight helps stop me from beating myself up. When it stops delighting me, I’ll choose something new.

2. Do some heart math & fear busting

If you’re out of the practice of positive thinking, it might be difficult to start, and you will probably feel a little awkward and strange about cheering yourself on. But to counteract the habit of name calling or internal grumbling, you will need to go further than to stop thinking negatively, because there’s probably a slight chance that you won’t stick the landing perfectly every time. At least then, you’ll still end up with a net positive.

Sometimes just the idea that you’re going to overcompensate for negativity with positive thoughts can bring up a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Please know that it’s fine to feel that way. Your inner teenage cave-person is trying to keep you safe, but there’s no danger here, no one can hear your thoughts! It’s even fine if your negative thinking starts asking, “What’s next, finding out when mercury’s in retrograde you hippy?”. You can respect mercury’s privacy or be all up in it’s charts, but consider this an experiment and see how it goes for a 1 – 2 weeks. You have nothing to lose, and procrastination is all about fear. Call it’s bluff!

3. Invent a positivity trigger


The most important list I’ve ever made

Sometimes making plans is asking for trouble, and as a relentless planner part of me is always tempting fate. Last weekend, after feeling off for a few days, the unexpected happened and my depression flared up with a vengeance. It’s always frustrating to have your plans derailed, but to have them derailed by a tidal wave of hopelessness and exhaustion is even worse.

The weekend was hard, but I finally discovered what had thrown me off balance: I’d been taking cold medicine that interacts with my medication. (How boring is it to have your “kryptonite” be decongestants?) Thankfully, by the end of the weekend my energy was on the rise, and I was feeling more and more like myself.


A Never Ending Feast at Table for 1200

Paintbrush - Table for 1200, Winnipeg

How often do you get to go for dinner with 1200 of your closest friends? Maybe your social life is more expansive than mine, but for me the answer is not often!

Table for 1200 was held on Saturday, May 31st and it was exactly what it sounds like: dinner for 1200 people, at one giant table! The location was top secret until hours before the event, and everyone was to come dressed in all white to make it even more of a spectacle.

The event was centered around conversations about design, architecture and local food, and my friend Amy and I were excited to volunteer as table captains so we could decorate a table for the event.

Here’s what it looked like:

Thumbtack and painted peach table runner, in progress. (Table for 1200, Winnipeg)

Thumbtack and painted peach table runner, in progress.

Menu - Table for 1200, Winnipeg

The menu was fabulous, and there was lots to eat (even for vegetarians like me)

Table Decoration - Table for 1200, Winnipeg

Our table’s finished look! Coral & gold table runner, silver placemats and flowers with peach, coral and gold fabric tied to the chair backs.


Podcast Recommendations for Creatives, Small Business Owners, Bloggers & Pop Culture Lovers

One of my favourite ways to stay focused on my passions is to keep my head in the game. No matter where you work or what you love, it can be hard to make that your full time work- but that doesn’t mean that you can’t live your passion. How do you do it? Find new ways to explore your passions!

Podcasts for Bloggers and Creatives on KylaRoma.com
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A simple way to live your passion is to start seeking out media that’s focused on the things you love.

Podcasts are on demand radio shows that you can download and then listen to while you’re on the go. You can listen using an app, like the built in podcast app on Apple devices or using Stitcher on almost any device.

These are some of my favourite  podcasts that I’ve found over the years, and my suggestions for starting points to make this part of your life…

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Podcast Recommendations for Creatives, Small Business Owners, Bloggers & Pop Culture Lovers

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Blogging & Business

After The Jump
Design*Sponge blogger, Gracy Bonney talks design, blogging, and what it takes to keep a creative project going over the long term.

Glambtion Radio 
Women business owners who pull in six figure incomes (and beyond!) are profiled and share their stories, best decisions, and what they would recommend if they were starting today. A motivational resource to get you thinking big!

The Smart Passive Income Podcast
Interested in making money online? This podcast has details on affiliate programs, selling online, content marketing, and everything you need to know to make your blog into a money maker.

Elise Gets Crafty
Elise Blaha takes readers behind the scenes in blogging and small business. A great resource for bloggers and crafty ladies who are starting out in online business.

The Tim Ferriss Show
Business junkie/genius, New York Times best selling author and blogger, Time Ferriss is a has just started his own podcast! He interviews people and offers insider insight that’s hard to come by and tested on a huge scale.

Small Business, Big Marketing
Interviews with business owners about how they got where they are, delivered in Australian accents.
Content Warfare
A new podcast that focuses on creating content. It’s great for bloggers & business owners

 

Lifestyle

Kyla Roma
(plug alert!) My monthly podcast is delivered by email, and talks about creativity, productivity, living well, and having a life that you absolutely adore from the moment you wake up.

The Art of Simple
Simplicity blogger and mama, Tsh from The Art of Simple talks with friends about blogging, living simply, and making life work. This podcast is great for parents, and for anyone wanting to tone down the busy in their lives.


How to Take Better Photos for Your Blog

How To Take Better Photos For Your Blog

Whether it’s a personal run down of your life lately, or the landing page of your virtual knitwear store, your blog is your visual scrapbook. Your ability to write is put to the test on your blog, but so is your ability to piece together a fully-fleshed story.

Are there visual cues?


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