Hannah Drake

Self Care

25 (More) Acts of Kindness

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

One of my little pet projects has been to do an act of kindness every day. I started 9 November 2016 and I've continued on for nearly 1,000 days now. Sometimes I worry what people who know me might think. Maybe they'll think I'm a really cold, bitchy person so how dare I? Maybe they think I'm being disingenuous. But those fears only exist to keep me from continuing the project, and I don't want them to win. I'll be the first to admit that I can be very cold, I can be a total bitch. But there is nothing wrong with bringing more kindness and love into the world. We all need it. Even me.

Last year, I compiled a list of 25 Acts of Kindness and 5 Acts of Kindness for the Digital Age. Today, I've got 25 MORE ways that you can give kindness in your own life with gestures of all sizes. Kindness is kindness and it doesn't matter how big it is, you never know the effect you may have on someone's life. And I've learned over the last two and a half years that you never know what effect you may have on your own life. It feels really good to be kind and loving to people and sometimes it snaps me out of my foul mood or my funk and makes me realise that life isn't so bad, really.

GET COFFEE FOR A COWORKER

In the States, my experience was more like pick up something from Starbucks for your coworker. In the UK, it’s more like make your coworker a cup of tea in the office kitchen. Regardless of what coffee (or tea) culture is where you work, think about your coworkers next time you want a cuppa.

SWITCH TO BIODEGRADABLE OR REUSABLE PRODUCTS

Don’t forget about kindness to the planet! Mother Nature probably appreciates a good act of kindness most of all. You can make simple swaps in your everyday products, like investing in a reusable coffee cup (which often get you a discount at the coffee shop these days), reusable straws, utensils to keep in your car and/or at your desk, etc. It’s also easy to switch from plastic to something more sustainable and eco-friendly like bamboo for items like your tooth brush, cotton swabs, cleaning brushes, etc.

COMPLIMENT SOMEONE ON THEIR CHARACTER TRAITS

Our society seems to put so much value in someone’s looks. Especially when you operate in a digital world where beautiful people thrive, it’s nice to take a moment to consider what about a person you admire. Tell someone you think they’re courageous or creative or loyal or trustworthy or compassionate or humble or forgiving or authentic or generous. The list goes on and on!

TACKLE YOUR PARTNER’S TO DO LIST

At our house, we’ve divided up regular household chores. We actually did it before we even moved in together. We know that Luke is going to take out the trash and recycling. We know that I’m going to do the laundry. We agreed that the person who doesn’t cook will do the dishes. We don’t have to check some score card to see who has done those things the most or the most recently. If your partner or roommate has regular chores that they do every day, every week, or every month, why not do a few of them while their out to take something off their plate and probably make their day.

SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH SOMEONE WITHOUT SCREENS

Times are a’changing, my friend and it’s becoming more and more difficult to function without all of our screens. I am 100% guilty of looking at my phone in the middle of a conversation or on a date with my husband. But what would it look like to leave your phone in your pocket or your bag? What would it look like to not even bring your phone when you meet up with a friend for coffee? If you think you need your phone to pay, what about cash? If you think you need your phone for GPS, what about Map Quest? (Wait. Does that even exist anymore? Ha!) If you think you need your phone to know when they’ll arrive, think about what people used to do before cell phones! And consider that you probably don’t need to take a photo of everything you do to share with your followers. (I’ve been there, I get it!)

CATCH UP WITH AN OLD FRIEND

I would betcha that a name just popped into your head. Someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Maybe someone from a different season of your life. What are they up to these days? Reach out on social media or give them a call if you have their number. Arrange a time to meet up for coffee and not just in the “let’s be honest, we both know that’s never gonna happen” kind of way.

PROMOTE SOMEONE’S PROJECT

We all know people who are all about that entrepreneur life. They’re always posting about their #sidehustle and how they’re a total #girlboss. If you really believe in someone and the vision they have for whatever their project—or larger career—is, promote it! Share their work on your own social media, encourage your followers to give them a follow too, let them know that you believe in them and support them. Even if you’re not in a position to help them out by buying what they’re selling or it’s simply not your thing—maybe even especially if that’s the case—you can still support them by expanding their audience. I also think it’s important to reserve that kind of promotion for people you really believe in. People can tell when you’re being disingenuous, even on social media.

FEED THE METER FOR A STRANGER

If you grab a handful of coins to put into the meter when you’re parking, what if you stuck them in someone else’s meter if they’re running low instead of walking them back to your car?

MAKE DINNER FOR SOMEONE IN NEED

Maybe you know of a family who is really struggling to make ends meet and have a good, healthy dinner on the table every night. Maybe you know a couple who just had a baby. Maybe you know someone who is working exhaustive hours at the office. Take them a meal they can stick in their freezer and pull out when they need it. You should probably ask first, if only to get dietary restrictions and preferences, but it will probably save them a lot of trouble one evening.

DONATE USED CLOTHES

Instead of trying to sell gently used items, you could give them to a friend or sibling you know would love them. You could take them to a charity shop for them to be able to resell. It not only gives people the opportunity to expand their own wardrobe and possibly help a good cause, but it gives the garment a new life instead of ending up in a landfill somewhere.

GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBOURS

A few years ago, my church had a whole series on neighbours. They sent us all home with a magnet to put on our fridge that had eight places to write down neighbours’ names. I think it’s still on my mom’s fridge to this day! We say hello to our neighbours on one side and even exchange Christmas cards, but we don’t ever really see the students who live on the other side. You don’t have to do much, but it doesn’t hurt to be friendly. Though, if I’m being honest, I dream of living on a street where everyone knows each other and has block parties and such.

TAKE A PHOTO FOR TOURISTS

This is one of my go-to’s and I 100% blame my time at Disney. If I see people taking a selfie, I almost always offer to take a photo for them. It often ends with them reciprocating for me, but even when it doesn’t, isn’t it nice to have some photos of you (and your partner or family) that’s not a selfie?

REGIFT A GIFT CARD YOU WON’T USE

I did this one time and I loved the reaction that I got from the woman I gave it to. Before I moved, I had one or two gift cards that I wouldn’t use since I didn’t want more stuff to have to move across the ocean. One of them was for a home goods store, so I drove over there one day and offered it to the first person I saw in the store. She almost didn’t believe it was happening at first, but she happily took it. I knew I wasn’t going to use it, so it was better than it going to waste.

PARTICIPATE IN A CHARITY DRIVE

You know, like a backpack drive or a food drive or a clothing drive. You can probably find an organisation taking things like backpacks around the end of the summer or turkeys around Thanksgiving or jackets at the start of winter. Check in with local charity organisations or even churches to see what’s happening and how you can help out.

DONATE YOUR HAIR

Locks of Love is probably the most famous organisation that accepts hair donations, but there are others as well. Look into their qualifications for donations before you decided to grow your hair out and/or make a big chop. They usually have a few guidelines, but note that coloured or permed hair might not disqualify you.

VOLUNTEER AT AN ANIMAL SHELTER

Animal shelters often need a lot of help and they’re a really fun place to volunteer. Like walking dogs! I used to volunteer at the local Humane Society working with cats—cleaning their cages and giving them some socialisation. I’ve also been a kitten foster mom since 2009, first through the Humane Society and now through a charity here in Birmingham. Both places gave me everything I needed, so it was no cost for me. I was able to volunteer without even leaving my house. Plus…kittens!

DONATE PLASMA

Like donating blood, donating plasma is really important. It’s probably the lesser known of the two, but you might get paid for it depending on where you go.

LEAVE A NOTE FOR A STRANGER TO FIND

One of my favourite Instagram accounts is Love Everywhere. You can purchase encouragement cards to write on and leave around your city or while you travel. My friend Gennean introduced me to the account and has been leaving them all over Europe as she travels. I love this idea!

LEAVE UNUSED COUPONS NEXT TO THE ITEM AT THE STORE

I love this idea! We get coupons from our grocery store that are connected to our rewards card, but you could also cut out coupons from the newspaper and leave them around the store for someone else to take advantage of the savings if you can’t.

SEND COLOURING BOOKS OR STUFFED ANIMALS TO A CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

You should probably call first to see what they need/can accept, but imagine the joy you could bring those children who are in the hospital. Not to mention the likely financial strain on the family. Little things like that can make a huge difference.

LEARN THE NAMES OF THE PEOPLE YOU SEE EVERY DAY

If you come into contact with the same people in your daily routine, take the time to learn their names. If you feel like it’s too late to ask their name, it’s not. Just say something like “You know, I see you every day and I am so sorry but I don’t remember your name.” People like the office security guard, the front desk staff at your gym, the barista at your favourite coffee shop, etc.

GIVE SOMEONE AN “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY” LETTER OR GIFT

Hear me out. You could write an encouraging letter or put together a little box with someone’s favourite things—or both. Seal the envelope or box and write on the outside “open in case of emergency”. Tell them when they’re having a bad day or feeling sad to open up your letter or gift for a little pick me up. Hopefully they’ll respect the instructions and you could really turn someone’s day around without even knowing it in the future.

PRAISE YOUR COWORKER IN A MEETING

When appropriate, give you coworker who you see working really hard some recognition in front of the team. Especially if that hard work is going unnoticed by the rest of the team or the boss. You may not want to go on for too long, for risk of embarrassing them, but just let it be known that they’re doing good work and helping out the team a lot.

GIVE GIFTS OUTSIDE OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON

You know how the holidays roll around and suddenly you have to buy gifts for everyone you’ve ever met? If you’re the type of person who feels guilty because you don’t leave a little something for the delivery man who brings all your packages from Amazon or have a little gift to send to school for your kids’ teachers, think about them outside of the holidays when finances aren’t so tight. If you love to shop online and it’s the same delivery man every time, give them a Starbucks gift card or something small to let them know they’re appreciated in what’s probably a mostly thankless job.

LET SOMEONE KNOW THEY MADE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE

Most of us have people who come to mind when we think about who and what shaped us. It’s quite possible that we’ve fallen out of touch with those people, even if we might feel somewhat connected through social media. If there’s someone from your past—a teacher, a mentor, a youth group leader, a family friend, etc.—who helped turn you on the path you’re currently on, tell them. Send them an email or even a letter and let them know the impact they had on your life.

PIN FOR LATER!

Self Care Is... Owning Your Emotions

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

In the last year or so, I’ve been trying to focus on self care and what it looks like in my life. I’ve decided to start a new (semi) regular blog series called Self Care Is, but I’m not entirely sure what it’s going to look like yet. Self care means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, many of whom know a whole hell of a lot more about it than I do. But I view it as a journey and since I’m inclined to share my life in this space, I figured I’d invite you along in the journey as well.

One of the most powerful self care tools I have in my arsenal is the idea of owning your emotions. It wasn’t taught to me in a self care context, but it has positively transformed my life from the jump. I learned about this idea at my church, first trying it at a weekend retreat here or there, then taking part in a weekly small group I was a member of, and eventually implementing it into my daily journaling routine.

The concept is quite simple. First you take a moment to explore what you’re feeling in your body. Are you feeling butterflies in your stomach or maybe tension in your shoulders? How are you carrying yourself today, even as you just sit with yourself, eyes closed? What follows is called a check in that you can do by yourself, with a partner, or with a group. You can check in with the following emotions: sadness, anger, fear, joy, excitement, tenderness, shame, peace, hope, gratitude. To check in, you say “I’m [Hannah] and I’m checking in X, Y, and Z.” Name every emotion you’re feeling and even name the reason, if you so choose. The only thing you can’t do is add a condition to it. You can’t say “I’m checking in a little angry today.” Instead, own your anger. Don’t minimise it by saying “I’m a little frustrated today.” Frustration falls under the category of anger. Own that. (By the way, I consider tenderness to be something like “my heart really goes out to this person/situation”. Like I’m tender to this person because they’re sick or I’m tender to these people because of this event.)

Learning it at church also included looking to the Bible for the times Jesus felt those emotions. And he did feel those core emotions, which means it’s okay for us to feel them too. All of those emotions are healthy and part of life and owning that you feel that way keeps them healthy. When you ignore your anger, you can lose control of it more easily. It’s like trying to hold a beach ball under water. You can’t control when it will pop out or what direction it will go. It’s an inevitability that it will come back up.

Owning my emotions has transformed so much in my life. Like I said, it became part of my daily journaling. I used to write out what I was feeling and why, but now I just track it on a colour-coded chart in my bullet journal. Luke and I would check in with each other over Skype and later over dinner when I moved, but that’s kind of fallen by the wayside. Still, I’m more careful with my words when I’m communicating my feelings to someone else, especially Luke. (I’m not perfect, but I’m better than I was.) I don’t have as much fear in telling Luke if I’m angry at him or about something. I don’t downplay it with a “little bit” or a “kind of” as much and I’m less likely to say “I’m irritated” or “I’m frustrated” because what’s irritation and frustration but a nicer way to say angry?

At the suggestion of my counselor earlier this year, I started tracking patterns in my check ins. I tally up how many times I month I felt each of the ten emotions and consider what was causing me to feel those things. I’ve noticed that I have one of two baselines: sadness or joy. On rather uneventful days especially, I usually check in one of the two. So I can note if I spent most of the last few weeks being sad or happy. (From November until about February it was more often sadness, but the last few months it’s been more often joy.) I also credit check ins to helping me discover more about my anxiety in the last year. I was able to pick up on a pattern of checking in scared and dive into what’s causing that and make moves to deal with it. Without a check in, it might have registered as a prolonged feeling of dread, but maybe nothing even notable enough to explore further.

It’s a powerful thing when you take ownership of your emotions. It teaches you a lot about yourself when you track the patterns of your emotions on a daily basis. It will bring things to the surface that you might not have known were there, but it might also empower you to make adjustments to be more in control of what you’re feeling as a baseline and how you’re reacting to the things around you.

What does self care look like to you? Let me know in the comments and remember there is no right or wrong answer!

2019 Summer Bucket List

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

I’m oddly excited about summer this year. I prefer spring and autumn to summer, which is maybe why I moved to England where the summers are much more mild than Colorado. But this year I’m looking forward to it!

The last two years, I’ve done both an Autumn Bucket List and a Christmas Bucket List. This year, for the heck of it, I decided to do a Summer Bucket List for the first time. I’ll admit I mostly do these lists for myself. I like to set goals for myself and making a public declaration helps me keep them. (It doesn’t always work, but often enough.) It probably seems silly for someone nearing 30 to list ten things they want to do each season, but I really enjoy envisioning what I want my season to look like, whether that be summer, autumn, or Christmastime.

HOST A GARDEN PARTY

My friend Taylor and I have been dreaming about hosting a garden party for over a year now. We were hoping to do it in 2018, but our schedules didn’t allow for it to happen last year. Right now, we’re in the throes of garden party planning and I truly cannot wait to see it all come together next month! We’re envisioning a quintessential English garden party—or as close as two Americans can get—complete with floral dresses, pastel hats, and all the makings of a proper English tea. Plus prosecco, of course.

VISIT ENGLISH HERITAGE SITES

Earlier this week, we joined the English Heritage with a 15-month membership. We got a booklet of all the sites we have access to and I’m very excited to explore so many of these places across England. We don’t have any plans to leave the country this summer, so I’m hoping this will motivate us to do plenty of travel around England to dive into the rich history surrounding us. The #1 English Heritage site I want to visit this year is Stonehenge!

TAKE A ROAD TRIP

What better to see all those English Heritage sites than a road trip?! With a map of all the locations at the front of the booklet, it will make it easy to plan a trip around the sites or to add sites to an already planned trip. Of course there’s nothing like an American road trip, but I haven’t really done something similar here. We’ve driven a number of places in the last two years, including Wales and Scotland, but it wasn’t quite the same. We didn’t stop overnight anywhere or even make a special playlist just for the trip.

GO WALKING

I guess this is the English version of hiking? I’m not really sure. All I know is that I suck at hiking up mountains, so I’m hoping I’ll fair better in the rolling hills of England. I’ve spend a lot of time thinking about what I want my ideal life to look like and one of the things I frequently see is us walking through the English countryside in our waxed jackets and walking shoes, umbrellas in hand as needed. Though I won’t say no to a nice sunny day!

MAKE AN AMERICAN FLAG CAKE

I usually make an American flag cake every year for the Fourth of July and have even done so the last two years while living in England. It never fails to impress people, which I especially enjoy doing with my baking. We don’t currently have plans for any sort of Fourth of July celebration, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make the cake regardless! This year, I’m considering using a red velvet cake for the red layers instead of dyed white cake. I’m curious how it would turn out!

HOST A BBQ

Last year we hosted a First of July BBQ (hence the sign above), but it could possibly be a crazy time at our house by July, so we haven’t made any decisions yet. Still, it’s always nice to have some friends over for grilled meat in that famous British sunshine! I find the differences between American and British BBQ so be very strange indeed, though. Unless my family is strange for Americans, they seem quite different. In the States, you might have the option between burgers or brats/hot dogs and the guests might contribute some sides or desserts to the BBQ. In the UK, a lot of the BBQs I’ve been to, especially those not put on by an American, are usually BYO meat and have very few side options. I mean, where are the half dozen options to eat potatoes, Brits?! C’mon!

SPEND SATURDAY MORNINGS AT THE FARMER’S MARKET

I had hoped to start this in May, but the month proved to be a bit too hectic for us to manage. So we’re hoping to start in June (tomorrow, in fact!). It’s a really great way to support local agriculture and sustainability. I’m baffled at how often fruits and vegetables come packaged in plastic at our grocery store, so even though we have reusable produce bags, we don’t get to use them as often as we’d like. We’ve also been eating increasingly more plant-based meals, so a farmer’s market would be a great place to help with that. I’m terrible about shopping and eating in season, so it’ll be great to be in the market looking at what’s currently available and talking to the people who grew it all. I even got a new bag for all our shopping!

HAVE A PICNIC

I’m a huge fan of picnics! There’s no doubt about that. In fact, Luke and I did picnic-themed engagement photos. (See!) I think we’ve only had one each of the last two summers, so why ruin the streak now? We have a gorgeous picnic basket (albeit a heavy and inconvenient one) and we have to put it to good use! I kind of wish we had one of the lighter, easier to carry hampers that are available in most stores in the summer, so maybe I’ll look into selling ours and upgrading.

MAKE S’MORES IN THE BACK GARDEN

You can’t find graham crackers around these parts, but we make do with digestives. Luke built a fire pit one night last summer, which allowed us to toast mallows whenever we wanted! (BTW, let’s just all agree that Reese’s are best with peanut butter.) Now we even have beautiful adirondack chairs that Luke built last summer to sit in while we roast them!

ADOPT A PUPPY & A KITTEN

Okay, this is a big one. And maybe this summer is a bit ambitious, but this is one of the only things I even want this whole year! We’ve been itching to add a puppy and a kitten to the Drake household for months now. Well, perhaps since I moved two years ago. It’s closer than ever now and it may actually be time to start looking! We’re really set on getting them at the same time or at least around the same time so we can hopefully foster a good relationship between them and neither is too territorial or unsure of the other. Obviously we already have the names picked out, we just have to find the right ones! I’m hoping that at the very least, we get them both in the autumn. But of course hopefully sooner.

What's on your list for this summer?

Engagement Photos by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

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