Body Healing Journey: Going Off Antidepressants

It was just few months ago when I was taking my antidepressant and anxiety medication – just as I did every morning before leaving the house for the past year and half. Prior to stopping I’ve had several conversation with my physician, and every time I was scared as shit by the idea of going completely off. A morning after another visit and discussion with my doctor I found myself analyzing my new thinking about all of this in the moment, as I swallowed it down, I wondered: had it become a habit, or even a crutch in my life, rather than a necessity for a serious depression. In my case, the answer was an absolute yes – yes this thing has become a crutch in my life.

While recognizing that some people might need a mood-deregulator or a SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) for chemical reasons, this was not the case for me. I needed the antidepressant for environmental reasons. The situation that I was in prior to taking the antidepressant has changed significantly. I was in a “happy place!” I was close to family, friends, had great friends, job,  and doing my teacher training to become a yoga teacher. Things were being checked off the box, and falling in place, and for once the future seems promising. But despite all of that, I still felt that I needed the meds.

On the other hand, while I was feeling mentally great, and my external reality was reflecting my mental state, the side effects of the meds on my body wasn’t great. Physically I felt like shit every day. In just few months I went from 110-115 pounds to 138 pounds (the heaviest I’ve been in my adult life), stopped running, and working out completely. To make things worse, I developed some horrible digestive issues, which I later found out was related to milk intolerance and other food sensitivities.

In late October I finally got some confidence, and decided to go off my meds, number of factors contributed to this decision – I finished my teacher training and was teaching already, I submitted and scheduled a time for my thesis defense, and submitted my last paper. I felt in control of the big things in my life that seemed out of my control for a while now.  This seemed like a logical transition to another stage in my life – living without the crutches called “antidepressants”.

A morning after another discussion with my physician, I knew that it was time to stop taking it. I took my supplements that morning, and spent the remainder of the day researching natural ways to deal with depression or post-depression naturally. That research led to me to three ways to heal with depression. While there were countless suggestions I narrowed down to three that I am currently using on a daily basis. It’s been over four months now since I last took my meds. So I thought I share my experience and journey with going off my meds and how I am dealing with not having thatcrutch in my life anymore.

But before I list them, there are few things to consider before you make the decision, the decision to go off should be considered thoughtfully and made with the support of your physician or therapist to avoid a risk of recurrence of depression. Once you decide to quit, you and your physician should take steps to minimize or avoid the withdrawal affects. Another thing to keep in mind is that this is my solution – meaning that it’s a solution that worked and is working for me. So, just because it worked for me, it doesn’t mean that it will work for you as well. Lastly, my decision wasn’t something that happen overnight, it’s a result of months of discussion with my physician and having REAL talk with myself, like asking myself whether the environment that I was in is likely to trigger me again. With that being said here are some of things that I had to incorporate into my daily routine:

Exercising Daily – Whether it is 30 minute or 3 hour, I always find a time to exercise. Research have found that regular exercise, and the increase in physical fitness alters serotonin levels in the brain and leads to improved mood and feelings of wellbeing. Also, several studies have shown that exercise promote mental health and reduces symptoms of depression. The ant-depressant effect of regular physical exercise is comparable to potent anti-depressants like Sertraline.

“Exercise has a powerful antidepressant effect. It's been shown that people are far less likely to relapse after recovering from depression if they exercise three times a week or more. Exercise makes serotonin more available for binding to receptor sites on nerve cells, so it can compensate for changes in serotonin levels as you taper off SRIs and other medications that target the serotonin system” Harvard Women's Health Watch

Yoga – Doing yoga every day – My lunch hour, evening (if not at the gym) and weekends are spent at the yoga studio. I do yoga everyday during my lunch hour and weekends.  Yoga is not only a physical exercise, but it can be a relaxing and healing process. Practicing yoga can also alter your brain chemistry – some position are effective in stimulating the release of endorphins and reduces the level of stress hormone cortisol. Number of studies have been done and support this use of yoga for depression, and specific yoga posture that increase levels of the neurotransmitter GABA, which may alleviate depression.

Taking Supplements – Taking supplements that are known to help with mild to moderate depression. For example, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). SAMe is a synthetic form of an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. It plays a role in many biological reactions by transferring its methyl group to DNA, proteins, phospholipids and biogenic amines. Several scientific studies indicate that SAMe may be useful in the treatment of depression. Another one is 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) and tryptophan, both are natural alternative to antidepressants. When the body sets about manufacturing serotonin, it first makes 5-HTP. Taking 5-HTP as a supplement may raise serotonin levels. The evidence suggests 5-HTP and tryptophan are better than a placebo at alleviating depression.

Full disclaimer, despite doing all of these things, and constantly keep myself busy, I still have my days - there are days where i feel completely hopeless, helpless , anxious, sad, and have terrible mood shift. Sometime it gets so bad, that I try to talk myself into going back on my meds. But I don’t want to develop that dependency again - so instead I’ve decided to take each day as it comes, and accept that not everyday will be perfect. But most importantly, remaining myself that I am doing the best that I can and I have to be gentle with myself.

“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.” – Elizabeth Wurtzel

My Mindful Morning Routine

6:00 -6:10 am // wake up - check email and social media

I know this is a big no no! but I still do it, the first thing I do when I get up is walk to my kitchen and grab my phone (I charge my phone in my kitchen because it;s recommended to not have your phone in your bedroom) and lay on my bed, and scroll through emails and social media (Instagram for cute cat videos to give me a cuteness boost)

6:11-6:13 am // get up and drink a big glass of lukewarm lemon water + take supplements

After going through my social media and motivated by cute cats videos, I like drinking a glass of lukewarm water with lemon, and take all my supplements (to make sure I don't forget to take my supplements, I usually place all my supplements on my kitchen counter the night before).

6:15 - 6:25 am // Sun Salutation, Meditation and Intention for the day

Doing a simple sun salutation and mediation before I start the day allows me to be intentional with my day and be present.

"Today, accept what is instead of resenting what isn’t"

6:30 - 6:50 // Take shower, brush, do hair, make up

 I usually have a full shower the night before, which allows me to have a quick shower in the morning and put my make up while listening to my favorite podcasts (Ear Biscuits, Why Won't You Date Me, POD Save America, POD Save the World, Congregational, etc.). Getting ready doesn't take that much because my closet is super minimal,  so I often don't encounter the morning paradox of going through my clothes and saying "I have nothing to wear".

6:54 - 7:15 // Eat breakfast, and prep lunch

Given my tendency toward habit, my breakfast is always oatmeal - Last month and this month is Bagel with cream cheese. While eating breakfast I might catch up on the news, or watch clips from my favorite late nigh show (e.g. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, John Oliver etc.), as well as prep my lunch if I haven't done it the night before.

7:30 // Leave the house - ready to tackle the day

I always leave the house at 7:30is - this gives me enough time to drive and park my car, and then walk another 1 blocks to my work.

Journey to Health and Wellness with Becca Shern: Minimal Wellness

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This is another of my favourite feature because combines three things that I love talking about, health, wellness, and minimalism. Before going into the post, I just wanted to thank Bex (Beeca) for being so patient and understandable through this whole process. This post was supposed to come out five months ago, but due to heath issues, I had to postpone and took a little break from blogging, not knowing when I'll be back again - but five months later and Bex still agree to do this, which I am forever grateful for. 

That being said, down below shares her journey to minimalism, health and wellness and how she incorporate minimalism into her healthy lifestyle. This is a two part feature, in the upcoming days Bex will be sharing her favourite recipe with us. 

Tell us about yourself (Who you are, what you do for living, where you’re from, anything interesting fact about yourself)

Hi, I'm Becca — I'm a mom, partner, registered dietitian, recreational athlete, and wellness nerd. For the past decade, I’ve been working and studying as a Registered Dietitian, with a particular interest in public and environmental health. I started and run Minimal Wellness, a nutrition coaching business to help people find, navigate, and enjoy the simple path to optimal health. My partner, Joshua, our four year old daughter, Ella, and I currently live in Missoula, Montana — Big Sky Country. Although we currently live in Montana, I’ve been a bit of a nomad — living in Alaska, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Most of my family still lives in Minnesota, where I grew up on a small hobby-farm outside of Minneapolis.  

What does minimalism mean to you? 

For me, minimalism means living with the essentials to enable vibrant health and allow pursuit of my passions. It means that I continually evaluate the things, activities, and relationships in my life and curate them to allow me to be the most optimal version of myself — meaning that I am the best mom, partner, and member of society that I can be. What is essential to me, will not be what’s essential to someone else, but I think it’s helpful to consider minimalism as a mental and physical framework that helps us continually grow and evolve into better people.

When did your journey to minimalism begin? And what or who inspired you to pursue this life style? 

I grew up in a household that believed in simple living. I feel fortunate to have been surrounded by family and friends that valued someone’s contribution to the world more than how big their house was, what kind of car they drove, or how stylish their clothes were. But, I began jettisoning unneeded material things in earnest a couple of years ago after I realized my life was not headed in a positive direction.

Three years ago, I was a salaried professional working mom, a student trying to complete my master’s degree, and was in a mismatched marriage. My then spouse and I bought a house, in part because I thought home ownership — the missing component of the American Dream I’d completely bought into — would cure my discontent. Unsurprisingly, the house wasn’t the answer, and my marriage ended shortly thereafter. At the same time, I stumbled upon a TEDx talk by two guys living here in Montana, called The Minimalists. Since then, I’ve been paring down and honing in on what is essential in my life.


When did your journey to health and wellness begin? How do you incorporate your minimalist lifestyle into the meals you create?

I've been interested in health and wellness for two decades. Our family was fortunate to have my mom shape our eating habits — she's an outstanding cook who always grew a garden and prioritized making delicious healthy meals for us every night. As a kid and teenager I was an athlete, so being fit and healthy became part of my identity. When I entered college, I drifted away from many of my healthier habits. But luckily after a couple of years, I stumbled upon an intro to nutrition course and found my way back to loving wholesome food, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle.

The recipes I create at home and for Minimal Wellness focus on simple, real ingredients, and easy preparation methods. I try to decoct healthy eating for people and make it as straightforward yet delicious as possible. The recipes emphasize the essential components of any diet — tons of vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and fruit. The recipes don't require complicated equipment or a pantry full of millions of ingredients, they minimize unnecessary grains (I believe some grains for some people are fine, but the standard American diet places far too great an emphasis on grains), eliminate gluten, and contain as little added sugar as possible.


As a minimalist mom, what has been the biggest challenge of raising a child in minimalist household?

Our daughter is four, so I realize that difficult times might come in the future, but in all honesty, minimalism hasn't posed any direct challenges with parenting — it's only made life raising a child easier. There is far less mess, we have fewer distractions, and we're able to enjoy more time with one another.  Our small issues arise occasionally around gift giving with friends and relatives. We encourage experiential gifts over physical items, but that's not always possible, so we try to be flexible. 


How are you teaching your daughter (Ella) to lead a minimalist lifestyle? 

We lead by example. When she has questions, we talk to her about why we live the way we do and its benefits. We include her. Quarterly, we go through her closet and toys together and discuss the items she uses and the ones she doesn't. She identifies the things she doesn't use or wear and decides what she wants to donate. We don't have friends in town with children younger than Ella, so most of the things she grows out of get donated instead of given to friends. When we do purchase an item, we specifically buy the most durable goods in order to pass them onto someone else when Ella's no longer uses it. 

If I had one recommendation to make to others considering minimalist parenting, it's to eliminate the TV from your home. Ella still watches a few select shows from a tablet, but she's spent her young childhood without the outsized influence of a large light-emitting rectangle on a wall. Not having a TV does a few things for our family, first and most notably is the lack of direct advertising — she simply doesn't see the vast majority of stuff that other kids see and therefore she doesn't ask for it. Second, not having a TV eliminates that large volume of time that adults in the family often choose to watch shows while the children are still awake (Josh and I do occasionally watch something in the late evening), so we have more time together as a family. 


Is Minimalism for everyone?

I think we can all benefit from being intentional about what we purchase and how we spend their time and attention. Our society dictates what we "need" and what we "should" do — it makes sense to question this template and determine for ourselves what we want out of life. Often when we start questioning and searching, we find that we need far less and are happier and more fulfilled by creating our own path.    

Take us a through a day in life of Bex.

5-7am Wake up. I don't use an alarm and I wake up when I'm rested, usually that's after 7-8 hours of sleep. 

7:30-8am Ella wakes up and makes her bed. Then we get her ready for pre-school (get dressed, brush teeth, take vitamins & probiotics, have a snack (usually nuts or a hardboiled egg and some fresh fruit). 

8:30-9am Drop Ella off at pre-school.

9am-5pm Work. I'm fortunate to have a flexible schedule and the ability to work from almost anywhere, but client sessions require privacy, so I usually work from our home office. 

10am Breakfast. My mealtimes aren't set in stone and I let my hunger cues determine when I eat, but these times I list here are pretty typical. I do a type of intermittent fasting that extends the overnight fast to 14-16 hours. This means I usually finish eating for the day before 7pm and don't eat the next morning until somewhere between 9am and 11am. You can read more about my eating pattern here

1:30pm Light lunch or substantial snack.

3pm Workout. Like mealtimes, my exercise time is fluid, I do some type of purposeful movement everyday, but never on a routine. I've been doing at least 15 minutes of daily yoga lately which I enjoy in the early morning as a wakeup or in the late evening before bed. If I do cardio or weight training, that usually happens sometime in the middle of the day.  

5pm Ella home from pre-school.

6pm Dinner

7:30-8:30 Bedtime routine for Ella: a bath with lavender epsom salts, reading, rocking in her rocking chair, sleep by 8:30 at the latest. We're strict with her bedtime and nightly routine. 

8:30-9:30 Unwind time: clean up, get things ready for the next day, make nighttime tea. 

10-11pm Reading and sleep.


When do you feel best in your body?

I feel best about my body when I take care of myself by consuming nourishing food, enjoying frequent movement, managing stress, and getting adequate sleep. For my 35th birthday, I donated my bathroom scale which did far more for my ability to love my body than just about anything else (beyond the four pillars of health I mentioned above) I've ever done. It's always been relatively easy to not let the number on the scale determine my self-image or worth, but the scale had become a mild source of negativity. For the better part of a decade my weight had been stable within a small five pound range. I was used to that range and felt good about my body within that range. I started doing some weight training this year and put on a few pounds of muscle. Although I still felt great in my body and clothes, which has always been my primary barometer of health, seeing a different number on the scale was hard to reconcile. So I got rid of that input. It's not that I deny my weight, I just realized I don't care what my weight is as long as I feel great, which I do. 


What’s your workout routine? And how do you remain motivated? 

Honestly, with the exception of 15 minutes (or more) of daily yoga, I don't have a workout routine. I know I need to exercise to be able to do the things I enjoy in life and to feel the way I want to feel. I want to be able to keep up with Ella and set a good example for her of how we can live healthy lives without feeling compelled to exercise. Removing the obligation from exercise and finding your "why" seems to be the key to being happily active for life. My why is simple, I enjoy being fit. There are many times I don't "feel" like exercising, but as with lots of things, if you wait for the times you're in the mood, it doesn't happen. Sometimes you have to act your way into right thinking, and not not wait for illusive motivation. Nike's slogan "Just Do It" is catchy because it's the distillation of many active people's view of exercise, including mine. I want to be fit, it's important to me, so I exercise.  


How can minimalism help one lead an optimal and healthy life?

We live in a world that profits from confusing health messages. Massive industries — food, healthcare, fitness, even alternative medicine — all have different and often opposing motivations, which unfortunately results in information that is frustratingly conflicted.

Health is not a commodity, but that’s often how it’s treated in modern society.

Applying minimalism to our lifestyles can help us achieve a healthy life in a simpler and more enjoyable way. Filtering out the thousands of conflicting messages helps clarify the path and focus on a simple framework makes a healthy life more tangible, accessible, and achievable. For me that framework is: eat nourishing whole foods, move your body, get sufficient sleep, and manage stress. Focusing on and committing to continual improvement in those four areas of our lifestyles leads to a healthier life.


Balance is the key to healthy living, what are some tips to creating and maintaining balance? 

Indeed, balance and moderation are central to healthy living.  It's important to understand that everyone's balance point is different and will shift over time. What feels balanced to us now won't necessarily be what works in the future. Conversely, what worked in the past won't necessarily lead to balance today. One way we create balance is by understanding that 180 degree changes don't happen overnight — we’re unlikely to be successful with a drastic diet plan, or a very intense exercise routine if it’s significantly different than our current routine. Those enormous shifts are destabilizing and unbalanced. Instead think of change in terms of committing to small and realistic pivots from our current habits —  with time and effort, we end up in a radically different but balanced place, living a beautifully healthy life.

What advice would you give for anyone who wants to become a minimalist? 

My partner, Joshua likes to say minimalism isn't a radical lifestyle, it's a practical lifestyle. Getting rid of the excess in our lives helps us focus on what's truly important and that's different for everyone. For anyone contemplating the minimalist approach to life, understand that it's not really about the stuff, it's about being intentional with all of our resources — money, time, attention — it's about living more deliberately. When I started down this path, I played The Minimalism Game a few months in a row, which ingrained the habit of evaluating the physical items in our home and jettisoning the stuff that wasn't necessary. Since then minimizing been a continual process without an endpoint. I didn't cross a threshold of "having less stuff" and suddenly become a minimalist, it's been an evolution.


What’s next for Minimal Wellness? 

I'm offering a web-based program in October called the 23-Day Priorities Reset. This will be the third "class" of the Priorities Reset and I love coaching these small groups of highly motivated, like-minded people. I also plan to do more writing this fall and am looking forward to seeing where the creative process takes me.


Where can people find you?

Minimalwellness.com is the source for blog posts, recipes, information on coaching services, and my contact information. I'm also active on social media (@minimalwellness), my preferred platform is Instagram, but I'm also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

2018 Top Five Books

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 People that know me, know that I stick to one genre when it comes to my reading, which is fiction. I love my Russian and American Literature, from Steinbeck, Melville, to Dostoevsky, or Nabokov, and all the other greater writers. But in 2017 I found my self experimenting with self helping books (why self-helping book is long story), I read two self-help books and found myself bored and finding every excess in the book to not read them. Based on a advise of a friend I decided to read, the Power of Habit, and absolutely loved it. So I decided to read Smarter, Faster, Better, and eventually Mark Mason's The Subtle Art. Long story short, in the span of two months I read 5 books that really changed how I approach my life, from my career to health. I think these are five books that everyone should read because it will change how you live your life. For those who want change how they are living their life, or are uncertain about their career etc.. reading both Charles Duhigg books can really help you. With that said, please find below my top five books that I read in 2017 and if you're uncertain what to read in 2018, these are great start.

1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good
by Mark Manson

"There is a subtle art to not giving a fuck. And though the concept may sound ridiculous and I may sound like an asshole, what I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively – how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values. This is incredibly difficult. It takes a lifetime of practice and discipline to achieve. And you will regularly fail. But it is perhaps the most worthy struggle one can undertake in one’s life. It is perhaps the only struggle in one’s life."

2.Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

“No one can predict tomorrow with absolute confidence. But the mistake some people make is trying to avoid making any predictions because their thirst for certainty is so strong and their fear of doubt too overwhelming. If”

“When we start a new task, or confront an unpleasant chore, we should take a moment to ask ourselves "why.”

3. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

“The Golden Rule of Habit Change: You can't extinguish a bad habit, you can only change it."

“Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.”

4.The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”

“Any action is often better than no action, especially if you have been stuck in an unhappy situation for a long time. If it is a mistake, at least you learn something, in which case it's no longer a mistake. If you remain stuck, you learn nothing.”

5. Woman Code: Perfect Your Cycle by Alisa Vitti

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2018 Vision Board

Every wellness junkie knows about vision board, and thanks to Oprah Winfrey, most people are now obsess with it. These goal-manifesting collages have become a very powerful and creative tool loved and used by life coaches, wellness junkie, and others. Why? because they totally work, according to many that have used it. While I am still not completely convinced or sold on it yet, I am keeping an open mind and decided to create my own vision board for 2018.

As a believer of law of attraction (LOA), which according to the book The Secret,  "is forming your entire life experience and it is doing that through your thoughts. When you are visualising, you are emitting a powerful frequency out into the Universe” -  it's only logical that I try vision and see what happen.

So what is vision board anyways? 

"A vision board is a visualization tool which refers to a board of any sort used to build a collage of words and pictures that represent your goals and dreams."

As newbie to this vision board thing I am probably the wrong person to be giving advises on how to make one, what you should put on it or what you shouldn't include. But while doing my research for my own vision board I came across articles that I think provided good advise on creating your first Vision board. Here are some things to consider if you're planning on creating your vision board: 

"Your vision board should focus on how you want to feel" Huffpost

"There is only one major rule to creating a vision board that works, and it’s that there aren’t any rules." Huffpost

"By creating a vision board and placing it in a spot you see every day, you create the opportunity for consistent visualization to train your mind, body and spirit to become acclimated to the reality of your desires." Mindvalley Blog

"In other words, pictures alone aren’t going to move the needle." Well and Good

26 Things I’ve Learned In 26 Years

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Today I am 26, but it doesn't feel like it and I don't look like it either!! I generally don't celebrate my birthday, given that it's on New Year and the focus is always on New Year and less so about my birthday. This year was a little different, I feel the need to celebrate it, but I am not sure how - until then I thought I'd share few things I've learned by 26. These are in no particular order, and trust me, I could probably go on and on but I don’t want to bore you - 25 was one hella hard year, it was an age of learning things the hard way and having life teaching me some hard life lessons the hard way. But all that aside, I am thankful for all the things that happened and to get to continue living and learning. Wishing all my Capricorn a Happy Birthday Month, sending you lots of love. 

1. Take care of yourself. I cannot stress this enough, and its something thatI think we are not told enough of. Realizing that you're responsible for your own happiness, not your partner, friend or family. You know yourself better than anyone else and what makes you happiest. 

2. Make sure you know what you're willing to struggle for. Often we give too much fuck about things that are pointless and meaningless. Knowing what you're willing to struggle for allows you to give fuck about things that really matter (From: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson

3. I know it's hard to say this, but hard work sometimes doesn't work or pay off, but it doesn't mean you should give up. Keep working and pushing yourself, it will eventually pay off

4. Be kind to others, it cost nothing to be nice to people

5. People will disappoint you, but that's okay - you move on and don't hold it against them

6. Be comfortable with saying NO

7. Speak up!!! even if you think your idea is stupid!! 

8. Be patient and everything will follow- you don't have to rush everything, take your time

9. You CANNOT control WHAT happen to you, but you CAN control How you respond to it

10. Being vulnerable is NOT a sign of weakness!

11. Your flaws, weakness, imperfections and scares make you who you are!! be proud of them

12. Always have an open door

13. Everything happens for a reason, even when the reason doesn't seem clear at first

14. Sometime life can be one mean montherfucker bitch!! but it's for a good reason, to make you see what you've been avoiding 

15. Intentional distance is necessary sometimes in relationships

16. A glass of wine may make you feel better today, but you have to face your problems tomorrow, so find a productive and healthy way to deal with your issues

17. Seeing a therapist doesn't make you weak, sometimes we all need a stranger to talk to and hear us out 

18. Be intentional 

19. Take time off - go on vocations whether it's a long or short vocation, get out of town for a day or few hours

20. Life is now!! not yesterday or tomorrow - stop living in the past and live in the present, tomorrow cannot happen if you don't live today 

21. Your work matter - no matter how insignificant or unimpressive you believe your work to be, there is value in it. Take pride in what you do and others will too. Commit yourself to a high level of quality work in your occupation, continually learn & improve yourself, and embrace failure as part of the process.

22.  Isolation is avoidable. For us introverts, it's easy to fall into this self-inflicted trap. Make it a priority to surround yourself with people who are good for you. Even if it is just a few trustworthy comrades. No man is an island!

23. Be careful who you surround yourself with. Choose your influences wisely. They say you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Don't be too careful though or you'll just start hanging out with your succulents like one of my friends  

24. Try new things!!! being a creature of habit is great, but it's dangerous when it prevents you from learning or trying new things 

25. READING!! always have  book that you're reading

26. Be open to change. Especially when it comes to people in your life.