Dallas Clayton artwork image

10 Life Hacks That Will Change Your Life (Or Positively Affect It)

Drinks, Gratefulness, Meditation, Psychology
Meditate

You can start with as little as a minute or 10 breaths, then gradually move your way up. Over the years, a great number of studies have shown numerous benefits to meditation: a sense of calmness, better sleep, more self-confidence, less anxiety etc. The best thing about meditation is that all you need is you, no books or retreats or teachers to nourish the most important relationship of your life: the one with your inner self. As Nayyirah Waheed said:

I love myself is the quietest. simplest. most powerful. revolution. ever.

Drink water

Especially first thing when you wake up. After sleep, we’re all dehydrated and that glass of water may seem meaningless, but it really starts the day on the right foot for your body, mind, digestion… You can flavor it with fruits, lemon, mint or whatever strikes your fancy for some extra tastiness. Yes, I’m one of the people that think water has taste and a great one for that matter. Fight me and my superior taste buds.

Skip breakfast

No matter how much of a breakfast-dreader you might be, you knew that couldn’t be a real hack. Breakfast is important- you know it, I know it, the people at Dunkin Donuts know it… Your brain works better, your body responds faster, you’re prone to make healthier food choices, you won’t have any crashes afterward. Win win win. Extra hack: The thought of pancakes waiting to be devoured

Moving

Yes, working out releases endorphins, the happiness hormone, but even just moving around your house/office, or taking a walk outside is enough to trigger a similar response. It’s extremely beneficial to your productivity, mental clarity and mood.

Simple, effective gratefulness method

I’m as wary as the next person when it comes to studies found online, seeing as you’re in the dark about who might have sponsored the research, how scientific the methods used are and whether the actual findings are actually applicable and/or beneficial in real life. However, I’m always on the lookout for claims that certain behaviors will make us lead a happier life. I came across happiness researcher Shawn Achor, who’s worked with Google, large financial companies, conducted studies in Harvard, UPS, etc., aka trustworthy, who shared his findings on 5 non-time-consuming happiness habits.

My favorite was writing down three (different) things you’re grateful for, 21 days in a row. I shared my own three things I’m grateful for a while back. Why it works you’re ~actively~ training your brain to look for positives. You’ll be a ray of sunshine in no time (your friends might get worried at first).

Adjust accordingly
Make a conscious effort to include activities you enjoy in your everyday life. Cliché as it sounds, you do only live once. Rules do not apply if you’re a cat or believe in reincarnation.
Image result for what you like what you don't change accordingly dallas clayton

 

Compliment others
Kind words cost nothing. Kind words cost nothing. Nothing. This “hack” is low cost- little to no effort/time; high reward- you might put a smile on someone’s face, make them feel more confident, make their day…
More purposefully directed attention
Only a small percentage of our time online is spent mindfully and purposefully. See how checking the news/social media frequently makes you feel and whether it adds any real value to your life. This is an important read.
Say yes/no more often

Advice at its finest. Some quotes I’ve come across often lately:

  1. all advice is a form of nostalgia
  2. all advice is autobiographical

Indian food? Spanish literature? Jazz music? You might be missing out because you refuse to give new things a try. On the other hand, you might be finding yourself agreeing to go to that Jazz club you strongly dislike, for the 3rd weekend in a row, just because you can’t say no to your friends. Boundaries are your friend. While stepping outside your comfort zone is crucial for growth, treat your needs and desires and time and self with the respect they deserve.

Look on the bright side
Is there anything remotely positive about your fucked up situation? Any lesson you’ve learned that you’ll cherish forever? Aren’t you proud of at least one thing you did during the stressful situation? Last night The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (5/5) was on tv, and I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes that it reminded me of:
“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Photo by J-S Romeo on Unsplash

Never Fail to Put a Smile on My Face

Gratefulness, Meditation

I heard the following sentences during a guided meditation some time ago, and I wrote them down in my notebook. The teacher (I can’t remember who it was for the life of me, but I’ll link them once I do) used a pretty simplistic language, but I felt so deeply affected by these words and their power of me. They inspired me to do better and more and trust the process and myself. I’ve read them at different times of my life and they never fail to bring joy and a smile to my face, hope they do the same to you.

The more you give attention to what you don’t want, the more you get what you don’t want.

The Universe has at its disposal powers that we can’t begin to understand.

The Universe has no schedule.

No prayer, no desire goes undone.

What you want, will come to you.

Sometimes you beat the postcard home from vacation, but it always arrives. This is what manifestation is all about.

What you want is speeding towards you.

Our Universe is truly magical. How blessed you feel to be part of something so magical.

Gratitude fills your being for all the lessons you’ve learned.
"Fight Tyranny sign with Trump's face on it in the basket of a bicycle" by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

Coffee Shop Thoughts 4: Why Trump Sucks

Food for thought

~admittedly, a modest headline~

Going to cute cafés to get work done + My thoughts = Coffee Thoughts Shop.  Join me on this journey to caffeine poisoning and success (hopefully not both).

One Two Three

A loved one had a dream involving Trump and my immediate response was asking whether they punched him. Are you familiar with the expression spill the tea? Well, I was drinking tea and spilled it when they said they like Trump more than Obama, that they like Trump period. Deep deep down I knew, but hearing it said so bluntly was something, alright. I said I had read and heard so many horrible things about what Trump says and does and thinks that I was no longer able to put it in a few sentences.

Turns out I lied, because here I am now, writing on 10 reasons why Trump sucks. I’ll stick with what comes to mind like I would in a tête-à-tête conversation, with no further research done (also, because if I were to include every horrible/hateful thing he’s done, we’d here a while.)

If you’re reading (which you are because I’ll show this to you), this one’s for you.

  1. He’s been accused of sexual assault by several women. Seeing how false rape accusations account for only 2% of overall accusations, I have reason to believe AT LEAST ONE of them wasn’t lying.
  2. He didn’t condemn Charlottesville’s protest, where “protesters” shouted things like “Jews will not replace us”, a Nazi drove into the crowd with his car, a woman was killed, hundreds injured. All he said was that there are sides to each story, and some of the protesters were very fine people. He sided with violence and racism and antisemitism and hate.
  3. He didn’t help Puerto Rico, while the people there were suffering and dying, he tweeted passive aggressive things and later wrote “helping Puerto Rico cost the US a lot”. What does that mean?! Puerto Rico IS the US! You have enough funds to start a nuclear war and build a wall, but not help those in need? When he did eventually go there, he was disrespectful as he threw paper towels at them and laughed.
  4. He made fun of a disabled reporter who asked him a question, in national television. In what world is that okay, I don’t know. It’s beyond me how someone that is expected to be the leader and role model of millions can be such a fucking awful human.
  5. His view on women is clear: they’re lesser than, and we only speak of what’s documented (tapes, recordings, tweets). (Un)fortunately, there’s plenty of those. He has commented on different women looks, what he’d do to them (you know-grab them by the pussy), how he might just take one of his friends over to steal people’s partners, how he would DATE HIS DAUGHTER if she wasn’t his, ya know, daughter. Hm, what else what else?
  6. In a trial, he called a woman who asked for a break to breastfeed DISGUSTING. How is the most natural thing ever disgusting? Is it because breasts are disgusting if they’re not being sexualized?
  7. He once asked how could we expect Hillary to satisfy America if she couldn’t satisfy her husband. Now, never in a million years would we expect (or even justify) similar behavior from Obama.
  8. He called New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN fake news. Yes, all of them. Now, what are the chances of that, realistically speaking?
  9. He DOESN’T BELIEVE in climate change (or know the difference between HPV and HIV), and is overall anti-science. Within moments of Trump’s inauguration, nearly all references to climate change disappeared from the White House official website. “Trump has an appalling ignorance of the current world, of history, of previous American engagement, of what former Presidents thought and did” Geoffrey Kemp, who worked at the Pentagon during the Ford Administration and Reagan Administration, told The New Yorker.
  10. He once said “26,000 unreported sexual assaults in the military-only 238 convictions. What did these geniuses expect when they put men & women together?”.

You can find all of these, and more, online. Easily. Please do and stop supporting people that stand against everything we believe in.

Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

Truth

A penny for your thoughts

You’ll trust people and you won’t question their intentions because they seem pure and fun. You’ll them about everything you’re looking for, what you appreciate and what you hate and they’ll turn themselves into the person you wanted them to be. During all that time, you’ll be thinking it’s who they were in the first place. You will try to be that generous in sharing your self again. In a world of undefined truths and lies, you’ll struggle to recognize which parts were theirs to begin with, and which they stole from you.

You’ll try to remember what was it that you said. as it the tone you said it in, the look you gave when you did? You’ll never remember, there was nothing to remember in the first place. Bad people don’t need a trigger, they will actively seek and find evil anywhere, just as good people passively see beauty and virtue and goodness, in the little thing and in others and in the world. It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t your fault. It’s not your fault. Never will be.

“Tell them I was the warmest place you knew and you turned me cold.”

Well, shit, tried to, motherfucker.

Photo by Alexandra on Unsplash

♪ You said you’d die for me! Give to me, give to me! Why won’t you live for me?! ♪

You’ll remember them saying they’d do anything for you, however, when given the chance…

Them saying they’re willing to give you the world, however, unable to give you the only thing you ever wanted and asked for: the truth.

i can nourish myself on nothing but truth – Therese of Lisieux

A woman walking by is telling her friend, age doesn’t necessarily equal maturity. I agree. Maturity doesn’t necessarily just come with age either. If what you’ve built is based on lies, sooner or later, it’ll crumble in front of your eyes.

You’ll remember them asking if you liked how childlike they were. Thinking they were referring to the playfulness, the laughs, finding joy in the little things, living like there’s no tomorrow, that characterize kids, you’ll say yes, of course.

Later, you will find out they were referring to their fantasy reality, and asking if you enjoyed being there with them. A charming paper house the one they built, can’t live inside though.


Huge thank you to Natalie Patterson for being so open and vulnerable in her writing and work, inspiring me and thousands of others to do the same.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

Sunday Reminiscing #1

Food for thought

When I started, I knew I wanted to write every single day, but I was also aware I would *need* Sundays to be slightly different. However, Sundays had to be included if I wanted to be able to say “I’ve been writing and publishing my writing every day since ______” without feeling like a fraud. Then I remembered.

I love going through old notebooks, favorite part: out of context sentences.

Here are some of those from my journals throughout the years, in alphabetical, non-chronological order, grouped together for aesthetic purposes:

0% chance of wearing pants
A cat that’s not even mine scratched my bag and peed on my bag, A-hole
A child running around holding leeks in hand
A lot of planning has to go into it these days
A restless dog. A see-thru shirt. Cat in my lap.
A woman saying she’s pregnant with the holy spirit
An adult conversation. Choosing gin. Him feeling better. Her feeling worse.
As always, I think of such a distant future

 

“Big minority”
Didn’t slip on ice’
Drinks, dances, tears, smiles, kisses, music, the people, my people, happiness
Felt glad I gave the book a second chance
Guy looking at Kim K’s IG during their talk
HOWEVER, I think I finally got it right, what I should and shouldn’t do
He does, but his words don’t
How old is that way of thinking/doing?

I died right then and there
I don’t expect shit from men
I found that song I was looking for
I keep thinking I don’t have time for this
I made cookies, liked the cookie dough more
If I can’t be alone with him, I’ll be here by myself. I don’t mind. I just wanted something else.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

It really made my day
It’s so green and clean and spiritual there
More: 1.) Cookie 2.) warmth 3.) help 4.) truth-telling
Oh, he’s only doing things for the money now
People having beer and Skyping with a loved one
REMINDER: Wine works
Reminder to ask for/get what you really want

Surprisingly, I take it easy
Swimming at night. Wine exploding everywhere. Leaving.
That night I slept over
The truth’s changed
Then they’re gonna talk if they have something to say
Tried concealer for the first time
Wasn’t I the one caressing him when I went there?

We got: 1.) wine 2.) in a fight
We were: 1.) both equally excited to see each other 2.) up dancing all night
When? When you told me to?
Words were said, tears were shed, I’m not sad- 132nd time’s a charm
Wore velvet. Found a great parking spot.
You’d think they’re gender neutral, but they were created for men, by men

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Stop Doing This to Your Kids

Psychology

Let me start by stating the obvious. I don’t have kids, so not an expert. Not that having a kid makes you an expert, but you know. I’m also not an LFMT or child/adolescent therapist. However, I’ve had interactions with kids and seen them interact with their caretakers and others adults/kids enough times, to notice some patterns and be able to make some generalizations.

Threats

A lot of parents use threats as a way to get their children to “behave”. That’s extremely dangerous for the child’s emotional well-being. “I’ll go and you’ll be alone and the bad monster will come and eat you.” Stop threatening your kids. According to Piaget, known for his pioneering work in child development (as well as waking up every day at 4 am to write at least 4 pages #goals),  kids roughly between the ages 2 and 7 are in the preoperational stage, they’re highly egotistical, it’s all about them. Their needs. Their desires. Piaget also mentioned being unable to see things from others’ points of view as a characteristic of the preoperational stage. I have an issue (as does everyone in the psychology field) with the term normal, but it’ll have to do for now to explain children’s behaviour is perfectly normal (we didn’t spend an entire semester *cough* year *cough* in abnormal psych talking about what even is normal for me to have this conversation again goddamnit.) Threatening them messes up with their self-confidence and sets them up for creating an unhealthy attachment style, which will affect them throughout their entire lives.  Which brings me to…

Conditional love

Children need to feel secure in order to develop a healthy attachment style (attachment styles are très important, this covers all the basics). Children need to know their parents or primary caregivers will be there for them, even if they mess up and do something wrong don’t even get me started on how long we talked about right and wrong. Telling your kids you’ll only love them if they do (or don’t do) x thing might get you what you want, but at what cost?

Non-quality time

Have you heard of love languages? After thirty-five years of pastoring and marriage counseling, Dr. Gary Chapman came up with the concept that has saved and created thousands of thriving marriages and relationships. The book is pretty interesting, and you can take the test online too.

One of the 5 love languages -and my main love language- is quality time.  Unfortunately, more often than I’d like I see parents spending non-quality time with their kids, at a coffee shop, usually, the parent is with a friend, both paying 0 attention to the child, who’s just been given a phone to keep them busy, while they carry on with their conversation. So lovely. No one asks or engages the child in any way. It’s like they’re not there. If the child can form basic sentences, you can -and should- talk to them. I’m reading Mo Costandi’s Neuroplasticity, and this came to mind:

It showed that proper development of the visual cortex is highly dependent upon visual stimulation, and established the critical period- a narrow developmental time window during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to particular environmental stimuli- as a key concept not only in developmental neuroscience but also in psychology.

Please, stimulate your children brains. Include your children. Make them feel seen and valued.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Forced adulthood

A friend of mine, a teenager at the time, had to actually raise her baby sister, a job she miraculously great at, despite being extremely unqualified. Don’t treat children like adults. Let them have a childhood and let them enjoy it, they’ll have plenty of time to be grown. Whereas maturity doesn’t necessarily come with age, and some kids can be mature for their age, they’re still kids nonetheless. Holding them to impossible standards is just setting them up for failure, as well as making sure they will hold themselves to impossible standards when they grow up, then their kids… You can break the cycle. Don’t force children into adulthood.  Which brings me to…

Sexualizing kids

Not necessarily your own, but kids in general. Don’t sexualize them. Please. If you have something to say about a kid wearing something you consider too short or provocative for a kid, firstly, don’t say it and secondly, check yo damn self. Listen to yourself. Let kids be kids and wear whatever the fuck they want. The over-sexualization of little girls is especially used as an excuse to justify predatory behavior and pedophilia. Some time ago, I was walking down the street with some friends, and one of them commented on a girl’s who’d just walked by clothing, something my friend deemed inappropriate for a ~10-year-old. I just said what I wrote above, and she paused for a sec, then said actually you’re right. That felt good, and sometimes that’s all it takes. Each of us can help make the world a kinder, safer place, even if just a little bit.

No apologies

Apology n. the study of apples

Jokes aside, that seems to be most parents’ POV. You have to apologize to your kids, though. You have to validate their feelings and concerns and be fair to them. Create healthy boundaries for children since early on. Be honest and apologize when you should.

Not teaching them about consent

Teach them about consent. Teach them about consent.

kənˈsɛnt
noun
1. permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.

Teach them about consent. The sooner, the better.

Not appreciating their brilliance

Kids are fucking amazing.

Not appreciating their parents

Parents, that’s your own damn selves. You truly have the hardest job in the world. Kudos to you badasses.

Disclaimer: I’m aware I’ve probably missed a million things and that I may die laughing at this when I become a parent.

"A silhouette of a person on a sunlit tree-lined road" by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Free Flow

A penny for your thoughts, Gratefulness

Feelings of inadequacy and restlessness. I’m now able to sit in silence, a half-smile on my face, acknowledging my emotions and fully be in the moment. Not hope it would be better or less or anything else than exactly what it is. Searching inside for that thing that doesn’t really come naturally, the thing you actually have to search for.

"A silhouette of a person on a sunlit tree-lined road" by freddie marriage on Unsplash

Trying to connect with the higher self that does -more-, emphasis on trying. The Resistance isn’t messing around, it means business. I grab my choker a little too hard, try to come up with a metaphor. I choke on my own words.

The amount and sincerity of the people rooting for me used to make feel all warm inside. It still does, but now the blood rush and higher bpm caused by trying to find the thing they’d need to hear, so they can keep rooting for me, accounts for a considerable portion of that warmth.

There’s no void, but I’m trying to fill one nonetheless. 

I wave at cops*, smile at strangers, walk-dance away from people I don’t like. On my terms, I’m doing much better than most. I’m not doing much, though.

How many hours a day for how many days do I need to fight The Resistance to make it out alive and well? To make it? Make the art not so hard? Make the art? Give my calling a call?


Written some time ago, when everything was pointing me in one direction** and I was trying to go the other way. It shows in my (incredibly cheesy, not good) writing and it showed in my everyday life. Listen to your gut. If you’re looking for a sign…

*Isn’t that the whitest thing you’ve ever heard?

**Imagine a time where hearing/seeing one direction written somewhere doesn’t immediately remind you of 1D. Now, stop imagining cuz that time will never come.

"Woman with long hair covered with a blue blindfold in Scarborough" by Oscar Keys

Surely, There Have to Be Worse Things Than Getting Your Heart Broken into a Thousand Pieces

A penny for your thoughts

 

A variation of that sentence has been on my mind the whole day.

I’m a writer: outside events, and internal turmoil directly affect my art and my work. Everything that happens to me, good or bad or simultaneously good and bad, can be written on a piece of paper or fill a blank screen, then edited ruthlessly enough for me and the editor of that publication to deem it worthy of others’ eyeballs and time.

*As* things are happening to me, I think of a combination of words and sentence structures that will correctly convey what’s happening, what I’m feeling, what I’m thinking, my truth.

When people read something I’ve written about and tell me they’ve felt that way too, that a piece I wrote resonated with them a lot, it just reaffirms my belief that my feelings, situations, knowledge aren’t just mine anymore and I don’t claim full ownership over them.

"Woman with long hair covered with a blue blindfold in Scarborough" by Oscar Keys

“Woman with long hair covered with a blue blindfold in Scarborough” by Oscar Keys

So focused on finding those words that make my truth your own, that I won’t ever be able to fully experience anything again.

That sounds sad, but I’m grateful I get to speak my mind and make others feel something, just as I’m grateful I’ve found so many writers and creators who give *me* The Feelz, whose work has brought so much to my life.

Strangely, knowing we share the same struggles, insecurities, fears, makes us much stronger.

Surely, there have to be worse things than getting your heart broken into a thousand pieces.

There’s famine, war, disease. There are people that don’t have a place to stay at night, live through the hard times another day. Some people abuse and rape and kill others. Babies are born dead. There’s so much injustice that it breaks your heart on a daily basis. A friend of mine’s father passed away. Some days later, his partner was diagnosed with cancer.

“The essence of anything is shaped by the feeling it evokes.”

Damn these walls.

I think, surely, logically, irrevocably, unquestionably, there have to be worse things than getting your heart broken. In a thousand pieces. Again.

Yet, at least now, I can’t come up with a satisfying answer as to what.

Yesterday it rained and rained; today, sunshine and clear skies.

Yes, still comparing weather conditions to my heart.

Still reminiscing over one of my hard-learned, all-time favorite lessons: knowing even though it’s not all fine now, all will be fine soon.

 

I taste my coffee, it’s strong and smooth.

Like our hearts.

Like us.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This was written some time ago, my heart’s no longer broken. 

Hands

Redemption, Ruins, and 75

Food for thought, Gratefulness

Drake’s Redemption was on Views, but for some reason, I only listened to it for the first time a few days ago, on a random playlist, but now I’m obsessed.

My grandma turned 75 today.

♪ Oh please give me time, cuz I’m searching ♪

 She doesn’t like flowers or Raffaello-s. She likes seeing me drive and telling cute waiters that they’re cute.

She’s had a rough life but managed to stay warm, loving, kind, despite all the odds.

The women in my family are so unbelievingly strong, and they’ve managed to keep their struggles to themselves, sometimes for years, even decades.

♪ Just ignore all the skeletons in my closet ♪

I think I want each of these posts to contain some kind of lesson or something new that I learned or needed to be reminded of. Here goes today’s: toxic masculinity and heavy-set gender roles can ruin relationships, families, lives.

♪ I’d rather listen to someone else, I gave your nickname to someone else ♪

Just because you can make something work, and work well, at that, doesn’t mean you should. Being with someone should feel effortless. Something that makes your life better, simpler, happier.

♪ Who’s gonna save me when I need saving? ♪

Women aren’t rehabilitation centers. Women deserve better, more, the world.

Coffee-flavored water doesn’t taste good (learned it the hard way).

♪ This year for Christmas I just want apologies ♪

2 Things I Need to Keep in Mind as a Writer

A penny for your thoughts

When I said I talk myself out of it, I meant it. Here’s the thing. I’ve been meaning to start doing this, theoretically, since years ago, realistically, since last week. These past few weeks I’ve come across some amazing writing/work/people, but unfortunately, as Benjamin P. Hardy put it:

For most people, learning has become an escape from doing. Filling your head with useless information is the opposite of hard-won wisdom and understanding, which can only happen via the application of knowledge and re-application based on experience in the real world.

I’m one of those people.

Sometimes you get lucky and end up at that part of the internet, the one filled with wisdom, authenticity, amazing studies and amazing people, so pure, so raw, so genuine that it fills you up with joy and hope. Wrapped up in others’ brilliance, you forget. At least I do.

Elephants don’t forget, but we do. Photo by Simson Petrol.

The brilliance I stumbled upon isn’t mine to claim. 

No matter how amazing the art is, how good the podcast is, how that piece of writing gives you goosebumps every 100 words, how that song has been on repeat for days (and probably will be for weeks), how that guided meditation made you sob (does every time), how that movie spoke *directly* to you and validated your experiences and feelings in a way you hadn’t known was possible before… it’s not yours. You can (and should) feel joy and maybe even pride over others’ art, but you shouldn’t use it as a substitute for your own creations.

Now the other thing… Cal Newport says on his (great) book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World:

This provides another general observation for joining the ranks of winners in our economy: If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive — no matter how skilled or talented you are.

I usually read on my Kindle, and highlight my favorite passages there, but I’ve written that one down. I need to get it tattooed on my forehead as well.

If you don’t produce, you won’t thrive.

Why I find it SO hard to grasp that concept, is beyond me. I think it’s because when you don’t absolutely HAVE TO, as is the case with me and writing for myself/the world and not clients, you can just say I’ll do it later/tomorrow/on the weekend/on my next lifetime.

So,

  1. Create your own art.
  2. Create your art.