My poor blog has had little love over the last few months, but it is not the only thing that I have paid less attention to. Since becoming a mom, some of the things I like to do have fallen to the side as I tend to end up scrolling social media instead when I am ‘resting.’ But is that even resting? I find it gives me more anxiety about life than it should. Sadly, social media addiction is real and many of us deal with it every day. The neverending refresh button of highlight reels we can compare ourselves to on the daily. I am sure I am far from the only one.
I can not blame motherhood for my lack of pursuing hobbies I loved when I was younger, or did not love and would like to pursue as an adult. That comes down to me, my ambition, dedication and discipline. Which all sound like terrible words when it comes to doing hobbies you enjoy or would like to enjoy. Perhaps utilizing phrases like ‘engages the soul’ or ‘feeds the mind’ ‘ nourishes our interests’ or whatever new age crap sounds good is better. The truth of the matter is it comes down to myself why old hobbies and new hobbies are currently MIA. It comes from internalizing shit people told me as a kid and young adult, that became the background soundtrack of my mind. Why hum a tune when it can just be on replay mode? Stopping the soundtrack is hard. I have been working on it for a few years, but it is still hard.
There are a few phrases over the years that just stick to me and are hard to turn off in my head. “You aren’t as smart as your sisters, you will have to work hard to do good.” “You’d be gorgeous if you were thinner.” There are others, but we will stick with these two since they have spawned into being much larger and all-encompassing than they started. Because what we hear, we internalize and then make it our own. Which is why it is important to watch how you talk to people, especially children.
The first one, “You aren’t as smart as your sisters, you will have to work hard to do good.” Has become one of the worse background soundtracks of my life and has kept me from pursuing interests, trying harder in school, and even switching jobs. Because although it started with studies it gave me a sense that I am not smart, and even if I think I am smart, I will never be good enough. What I do will never be good enough. There will always be someone out there who is better. Which is true, there will always be someone who can do things better than you, and that is okay. The part of the track that sucks the most is that I just do not do anything. I do not try, because I will be no good at it anyway. Why bother? Why bother drawing when I haven’t done it in years if I will never be any good? Why bother exercising or playing sports when I am no good at it? Why bother trying to be a writer or blogger when I don’t do it enough and plenty of other people are more consistent? it is a hard track to hit the pause or skip button and say, “Shut the fuck up, it isn’t true.” I try. But sometimes the background soundtrack slowly fades in and begins again.
The second one, “You’d be gorgeous if you were thinner.” Has always bothered me even before it was said to me. Because back in the day only the really thin girls seemed to be considered popular and beautiful. Fuck the 90s and early 00s is all I have to say to that. But, it helped continue the thought I had gained on my own from the media that I was not beautiful, my body type wasn’t beautiful, and my body image tanked. It tanked for a long fucking time. To be quite honest it probably started at age 12 and then sometime around 31, almost two decades later did I start to become okay with my body. Two fucking decades, I wasted hating myself and my body. I wasted the best years when my skin looked its best and my body could have bounced back easier, hating myself and how I look. I still do not love it, I accept it as it is, and that is it. I’m not in love with how I look, I do not exercise or work out for fear of that phrase. To be shown proof that the world treats you differently because it will. Personally, I would like to be healthier and exercise more, for my own health and the future, but I have no experience and have never been successful at it so I believe I can not succeed. Which is why I am stuck where I am stuck. It is why I hate shopping. Why I won’t buy clothes or shoes for myself often, I don’t like how anything looks on me. I am the least fashionable mom out there walking the streets most of the time. I don’t do my hair up nice or put on makeup. Mostly I am too lazy, but in a reel obsessed world of looking good, I fall short. I fall short on skincare and self-care. Falling short is my comfort, it is where I have spent most of my life. I want to change, but my thoughts have not turned into action yet, so they are just empty words that support my beliefs fueled by these two background tracks in my mind.
At the start of 2021, I wrote affirmations for myself, 28 of them to be exact. I forget to read them, but they are who I want to be and hold myself to at some point. Even if that process is slow, I want to live up to the affirmations I wish to be true about who I truly am as a person.
- I am an artist.
- I am and will become conversational in Tibetan, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.
- I am an avid reader.
- I am a devout Buddhist.
- I am a yogi.
- I am healthy in body and mind.
- I am a phenomenal mother.
- I am a wonderful partner and wife.
- I am a fabulous teacher.
- I am a traveler.
- I am a saver.
- I am an exercise enthusiast.
- I am free from the chains of social media.
- I prioritize self-care.
- I am a photogrpaher.
- I am a fabulous baker and cook.
- I can balance working and being a mother well.
- I am a writer.
- I am a good friend.
- I am committed to my goals.
- I am not a binge-eater, nor do I have a sugar addiction.
- I am creative.
- I will succeed in raising my daughter bilingually and create the necessary supplies to do so.
- I am beautiful and I should show it off more.
- I will prioritize my mental health and check-in with myself often.
- I deserve to start every morning in tranquility.
- I will direct my money to where it should go, instead of wondering where it went.
- I will find a path to financial independence.
I am an artist. I have always loved drawing and art, but have never really pursued learning it properly. I remember always doodling in class over my paper bag covered textbooks, or in the margins of notes during university, or while taking notes on the phone. I love it, I find it relaxing and fun, but I do not consider myself very good at all. I know some fairly good artists and I always admire their work and creativity. Sometimes I wish I had pursued art more, I know I still can if I practice more. Maybe I will begin to explore art more as I age.
I am and will become conversational in Tibetan, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. This affirmation has been a long-term goal of mine since I was about 18. I originally had Spanish in the mix as well, but I have not used it in such a long time that it has fallen out of focus for me. I am currently conversational in Tibetan, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese at varying levels. Many of the languages I have lost a lot of ability in as I haven’t used them. My listening is better in Tibetan, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese than my speaking ability. My speaking is at beginner level in Chinese and Japanese, as I have forgotten a lot of Japanese since I studied it in university. Korean was my best language, I can still read and listen to it well, but my speaking has tanked in the last four years due to not using it. I am hoping that I can pick it back up by investing in it again. Chinese I need to invest in a little as I live in China, but I haven’t put most of my focus here and am currently a beginner in the language. Tibetan is my most active language at the moment as I use it daily, but am currently only a low-intermediate speaker. I need to improve this and am trying to work on it. Eventually, I would love to speak all of them at least at an intermediate level, but Tibetan and Korean I would like to become advanced or fluent in at some point.
I am an avid reader. Anyone who knows me knows that I hated reading as a kid. Mostly because I hated the assigned reading in school as I found it boring, even though I always read everything others did not and I would get pissed off at teachers who gave the answers to kids who didn’t do the work. However, now as an adult, I do like reading, but I am not someone who reads a lot. I know people who read over 50 books a year, and I think how amazing is that! So much new knowledge is obtained when reading. So I am slowly trying to become a reader and I set the bar pretty low. This year the goal is to read 6 books. But, I have passed that since I read a few children’s books in Tibetan. So I keep it low to show that I can do it and slowly work up to more. I’d love to reach twenty books a year.
I am a devout Buddhist. I took a Buddhist oath two and a half years ago and would like to be a better Buddhist. I think to do that, I need to learn more about Buddhism, learn the important sutras and mantras, and make it a daily practice. Originally, it was my goal to get up every morning and do some prostrations, but I have not been doing that. I did do that during Saga Dawa with my mother-in-law and learned a bit as well. My husband encourages me as does my father-in-law. I think becoming a devout person takes time and should be done with sincerity. This is something that I slowly hope to become as I learn more about Buddhism.
I am a yogi. I would like to add yoga into my daily routine or at least a few times a week. Mostly because it helps with flexibility and did help ease the pressure and tension in my back and neck. I figure that even if I never become a huge gym fanatic, I can at least do some yoga at home for my health.
I am healthy in body and mind. I really want to be healthy in my body by eating less sugar and moving more. I am currently thinner than I have been in years, but I still have a lot of aches and pains and I know that improving what I eat by limiting how much sugar I have will help a lot. I currently eat a lot of sugary snacks practically every day, and it is getting to my stomach, skin, and health. As for my mind, I think drinking less coffee and sugar will help ease the anxiety and stress in my body. But I believe that adding Buddhism and Yoga to my life will also help with calming my mind and improving my mental health, which will support this affirmation.
I am a phenomenal mother. I struggle with this affirmation. I really want to believe this about myself, but I have always doubted myself and never felt good enough at anything, so even when it comes to motherhood, I feel I fall short. Social media exacerbates this for me when I see other mothers with their kids. Comparison may be the thief of joy, but it is hard not to compare in today’s world. I know I am a good mother, but I want to know it without questioning myself. Maybe that comes in time, but I often wonder if it is more common to doubt yourself as a mother of a preemie.
I am a wonderful partner and wife. Nobody is perfect. We all have our differences, but the key is trying to communicate and make things work. This is a little harder with language and cultural differences, but being nice to your partner really does make life easier. I think I am a good partner and wife, sometimes I think I could do better, but don’t we all?
I am a fabulous teacher. I have been an ESL teacher for 8 years now and I know I have improved a great deal from that first year. Although I am always amazed when former students reach out from my first year or two teaching and tell me how much they miss me and my classes. I have always doubted myself, but I always try and go in confident. I believe that I can improve my teaching as I never went to school for it. But I do know, I have never had a complaint against me from my kids or schools, and they always enjoy working with me. That makes me really happy and seeing the children smile and laugh is the reward, even if lessons go to shit at times.
I am a traveler. This feels so funny to write as I haven’t really traveled in close to 4 years. I have traveled a little near where my husband lives and back to Chengdu, but nothing else. No trips home, no other countries, no other parts of China, which in retrospect feels odd to say, I am a traveler. But I love traveling and even experiencing a new neighborhood or part of the hills behind my husband’s village is traveling in my eyes. It is something new and as long as I see the new as traveling, I will always be a traveler.
I am a saver. I grew up forced to save 75% of every paycheck. Which paid for many of my first airplane tickets overseas and for that I am thankful. However, as an adult, although I know how to save money, I haven’t. Mostly everything went to pay off my student loan and credit card debt. I may have no debt now, but I have no savings. I wrote this as I know I can save, I just have to bring out that part of me that does it well and keep doing that. The habit of saving well needs to resurface so I can be that saver again.
I am an exercise enthusiast. I would like to enjoy exercising one day. Maybe enthusiast is a bit much, but I do want to enjoy movement for my health and well-being as I age. I learn this lesson every time I return to my husband’s village as there is more physical work every day and I always sleep better. I also have fewer aches and pains, so I know that I just need to start moving more to get those benefits in my life. Enthusiasm may just help the cause.
I am free from the chains of social media. I want to release these chains I have attached to myself. I am slowly working on this. I am trying not to be on social media when I wake up, and I am trying not to be on it when I am with my daughter. These are hard changes, as it is a bad habit to be constantly checking when bored. But I really want to be present with my daughter during her waking hours as I don’t get much time with her because of my new job. My hope is that by the end of the year I will have improved greatly on this.
I prioritize self-care. This is something I am working on, but I am also trying to define what self-care means to me even if it doesn’t align with what others would classify as self-care. Getting a massage occasionally when I have a bad migraine, enjoying a cup of coffee early in the morning, reading a book, or just relaxing and drawing. Looking at the sky. For me, self-care has been more of a moment for myself or a moment to stop and pause. Not everyone can enjoy a lavish time for themselves if they are strapped for cash or don’t have the ability to take time away from their responsibilities in life. So in those moments, I think let us pause and breathe. I like looking up at the sky or going for a walk, sometimes the best self-care is gazing at nature.
I am a photographer. I really want to be a good photographer. Sometimes I take a great picture, other times it is just blah. To be honest, I take many photos, but never post or share them with others. Mostly because I get so busy and forget what I was going to share, haha. I would really love to be able to photograph the night sky, but I think my camera isn’t good enough, or I just don’t know how to use the settings properly. This is something where I need to play with the settings more and give myself time.
I am a fabulous baker and cook. I would love to be better. I am an okay baker, working with a convectional countertop oven in a humid climate means a lot of recipes don’t turn out exactly how I want, so I don’t do it often. I think I am an okay cook and I would love to improve. But that comes with time and practice, I’m not a master of many different cuisines, but I hope in time my food is good enough for those I love to enjoy.
I can balance working and being a mother well. Is there a balance or is there just the expectation it has to be done? I can not say I am doing this well, but it is being done. I struggle with do I really want to work at all while my children are young and knowing that I have to work because of money. A lot of people offer online solutions which forget that visas are tied to jobs and a 6 months savings minimum would be required before I can take the plunge. Maybe balance is unachievable, but I hope I can find some balance for us that works the best, it may take time.
I am a writer. I do not consider myself a writer, maybe a blogger. Mostly because when I started this blog, I was a shit writer. I have improved, so I suppose that counts towards being a ‘writer.’ I imagine writers as people who write books, not blogs. But I would like to be a writer and share my stories, I just don’t know how many people will enjoy what I write. I suppose the best answer is you write for yourself and those who want to read your words will.
I am a good friend. I say good, but there have been times I have fallen short of the mark due to my own mental well-being. Those who know, know, and I have apologized for those times. But, I think that is what a good friend does. Maybe we don’t always see eye to eye, or talk all the time, but if we have fallen short or may have hurt our friends we apologize or explain and try to move forward. I hope as my mental health is much better these last few years that I can continue to be a good friend to my friends both near and far.
I am committed to my goals. I want to achieve what I write down for myself. This isn’t a wish, it will happen. One of these days I’ll finally get healthy and settle at a healthy weight which I have been chasing since I was about 14 or 15. The time for committing to goals that I believe are who I am on the insides is now. Even if we only make a few small changes it proves to me that I can succeed and commit to my goals.
I am not a binge-eater, nor do I have a sugar addiction. Language and wording are very important. I do overeat often and I do overindulge in sweets, but I need to refrain from using the language to describe myself. If I describe myself negatively I will believe those words and will most likely engage in that behavior instead of leaning the other way. This is one habit of mine I really want to change as it would have a ripple effect on many other parts of my life and my goals. I struggle with this, but I think one day it will be true.
I am creative. I want to be creative. I do think I can be creative, but that voice became really quiet and it needs to grow again. I am hoping to support that voice more. Let my creative energy flow into the universe.
I will succeed in raising my daughter bilingually and create the necessary supplies to do so. It is really important to me that my daughter is at least bilingual in Tibetan and English. If we remain in China for a long time she will end up trilingual. One thing I have noticed is that there are not many Tibetan language learning supplies out there. I try to buy what I can find and support others, but if there is a gap I keep thinking that maybe I should fill it myself. I have ideas, but I don’t have the money or time to get it going, and I don’t know if I should pass them on to someone else to create. My long-term goal is I will be successful with this so she feels confident using all of her languages.
I am beautiful and I should show it off more. I do not think I am particularly beautiful, but I do need to learn to appreciate my own beauty as we shall call it. My husband reminds me we are young now, why don’t you take care of yourself and put effort into your own self? It is a valid question, when we are young we normally look our best, why not try to add a little effort to celebrate it. I hope that over the next coming months and years I can truly embrace how I look and celebrate it in a way that makes me feel beautiful or at least put together.
I will prioritize my mental health and check in with myself often. I have learned the importance of my mental health over the last few years and I would like to continue improving it. I think one way to improve is by checking in and asking myself, ” How are you doing, Nina?” I can fib a little to others, but being honest with myself will really help me to move forward in life and become the person I really want to be. So just occasionally pausing and reflecting is an important step in my mental health care.
I deserve to start every morning in tranquility. When I first wrote this, I imagined a morning with relaxation, coffee, and meditation. But, I haven’t lived up to that at all. It is my ideal morning and it is something I can work towards. Sometimes this has meant paying extra money for a cab when I was feeling extra tired during my recent cold so that I could save some energy. The tranquility to sit versus standing on the subway was worth it. My aim is to carve a peace of tranquility for myself each morning.
I will direct my money to where it should go, instead of wondering where it went. This is really to remind myself that I am in charge of how I spend my money and I need to be better and take charge of it by making a budget, tracking expenses, and identifying reasons of why and where I am spending money.
I will find a path to financial independence. Ideally, I will find a way to get out of this capitalist rat race. I’m tired of it, I don’t want to work my whole life away. And that is something I need to figure out, how can I survive if I don’t participate as a worker bee? Work on that creativity.
What do hobbies and affirmations have in common? Joy. Affirmations bring joy to ourselves for the potential we hope to create in the future and currently find in ourselves at this moment. While hobbies are little moments where our interests bring joy into our lives. Motherhood has given me slightly less time to pursue this, but only because my time management skills are spent on the reels of others’ lives. It is time to look at my affirmations, read them, commit to them and the interests will begin again like they have in the past.