Crystal Day: 5 Lessons Learned from Putting Me First

Feet (1)For the last five days, I’ve been on vacation at work. It wasn’t because I was going away to Miami or Las Vegas to celebrate my birthday. I was on vacation for one person – ME. Somewhere between my promotion and events, I forgot about me. I remember during one of my first trainings at work, one of the presenters spoke to us about work and life balance. She told us to make sure we incorporate mental wellness days into our schedule before we plan anything else. I honestly thought I had it all under control. I could take time whenever I need to do so. I have my written planner plus my Google calendar to correspond with my other meetings, trainings, and whatever else filled up my schedule.

However, one day it all went crashing head first. I was overwhelmed and in tears because I piled up my plate. I wasn’t writing. I didn’t cook dinner. I didn’t clean my place. I didn’t spend a lot of time doing devotion. I wasn’t in the mood to socialize with my friends or sorority sisters. I didn’t do anything that I really wanted to do. I lost Crystal. I was literally piled up with papers and curriculum with a jungle of an office. Then, I remembered what the presenter said – schedule time for you off!

Fresh New Hair Color

Fresh New Hair Color

I did it! I pulled out my calendar and designated Crystal Days. Honestly, the last few days was amazing! I was adventurous, and colored my hair for the first time. I attended this amazing workshop for Christian women. It was such a blessing because one of the presenters spoke about putting too much on your plate, and leaving little time to pray or maintain your relationship with God. The entire workshop resonated with me. I (tried) not to call the office or respond to e-mails at work. I cooked an amazing meal for dinner. I watched Netflix, and chilled with my hun.

For the last four days, I learned a lot about myself. I wanted to share with you all my five lessons that I’ve learned from putting me first.

Lesson 1: Unplug ItDSC T13
I learned that social media, e-mails, and technology can be a distraction. I used it some days, but there were times when I unplugged it. As I shared earlier, I tried not to call the office. It took a while. I kept telling myself that I’m on vacation, and regardless of the need or e-mail – I can respond to it when I get back to work on Wednesday. Don’t be afraid to unplug your technology.

Lesson 2: Pamper Yourself
C58“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary,” Mandy Hale said.
I started incorporating this regimen a while ago, but I went all out during Crystal Days. I got my hair and nails done. Pampering yourself doesn’t require a lot of money if you do it wisely. I went to the hair school, and my cousin did my hair. Therefore, if my funds are tight, but I need to pamper myself. You can do it for little to no money.

Lesson 3: Staycations are the Best Vacations
Love Selfcare Createherstock 7My sister asked me if I was going to down to visit everyone during my vacation. I quickly responded, “No.” It was nothing against them, but I didn’t want to travel. My plan for Crystal Days were to stay put in my staycation. I ate all of the finest meals and relaxed. I’ve heard great things about staycations, but this was a first. I feel so refreshed and energized from it.

Lesson 4: Make a Grateful List12791041_10100754787696656_5746089355736055779_n
Last year, I started a grateful journal. After these last few days, I realized that I needed to pick it back up. A grateful journal is an opportunity to not only list what you are appreciative of, but also to reflect on the things you are most thankful for in life.

Tweet This: Oftentimes, we tend to forget about the list of “gratefuls” during our busy days. It’s important to sit back, reflect, and be thankful!

Lesson 5: Schedule Time for You
The most important lesson learned is to make sure you take time for you. I’ve already planned out the next set of Crystal Days. If you schedule the time in advance, then it’s easier to commit to those days. I am making it a commitment to Crystal to set time aside to re-group and unwind.

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Dear Young Crystal: Personal Reflection

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Dear Young Crystal,

I’ve been contemplating how I would begin this letter to you, but I knew I needed to write it especially with the 10 year class reunion coming up tomorrow. I can’t help but to reflect on the experience and life journeys, you’ve embarked on these past ten years. You’ve experienced love, heartache, tons of fun and somethings you may never share with many people.

I can truly say that there are four main lessons that you learned that will forever stand out.

Lesson 1: Throw out that damn timeline.

Your idea of getting married by the time you graduate college and having kids shortly after quickly faded by the end of your freshman year of college. Focus on setting realistic and career minded goals. If love, marriage, and children come into the picture, they will eventually fall into its own place. If you kept with your timeline, you may not be working towards actually making your dream into a reality today. Trust me you are not missing out by waiting. There are plenty of children who will enter your life to nurture and guide. Don’t get me wrong. It is okay to dream, hope, and aspire, but make sure it’s what you want to do.

Which brings me to my next lesson…

Lesson 2: Don’t do it for anybody else, but yourself and God.

You spent so much of your middle and high school years trying to fit in with the crowd and do what wasn’t necessarily something that interested you. You tried to please so many people without realizing that some never really had your best interest at heart. Everyone wanted you to teach so yes, you’re on going to Winthrop University for an English Secondary Education bachelor’s degree. However, you are going to be in for a rude awakening darling. You will bounce around for a few years trying to find a career, but it will all lead you back to where you started – writing. It’s your voice. It’s how you best express yourself. It’s how you make movements in this crazy quaint world we live in. You will meet some great people in college who will encourage your writing movement through PHREA. (You will learn about that a little later.)

Lesson 3: Good friends are hard to come by.

Of course by now, you’ve realized that your circle is slowly getting smaller. The friends you’ve known for nearly a decade will drift apart, but the true friends will always stand by your side. You will realize that it’s probably more circumstantial versus purposeful. You are about to leave for college, and some of your friends are staying in Summerville to pursue education, work, or raise a family. You will meet more people in college definitely who will help shape you into the woman you are today. You will network with great individuals because of the friendships you will develop in college. They will nickname you “Starkey” or “Starkes” since apparently there’s too many Crystal’s to keep count of at Winthrop University. These friends also include six great ladies who you will develop a strong sisterhood with who will become more than just friends, but also your new sisters. The seven of you all transcended your entire college experience from the community service to the late night drives from Charleston back to Rock Hill without your parents finding out. Good friends are truly hard to come by, and you can’t help but be thankful for them coming into your life.

Lesson 4: Cherish the time with your loved ones

You won’t realize it now, but there will be a time when you long for conversations with your momma and granny. Yes, you will be upset that immediately after college you had to go back to Summerville, but it was God’s plan. He wanted you to go back to your roots and spend time with your mom and granny. Yes, it’s not the happy part, but it is the part where I learned the most. You have to cherish those times while you can.

Overall, Young Crystal, I just want to tell you to continue to work hard towards your goals. You are beautiful, despite your flaws and awkward hair days that you will eventually shy away from. Wow, it’s been 10 years since high school! I love you Young Crystal!