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Stop, Drop and Decomp

Plus, 8 Things New Zealand Does Right!




In NZ, decompressing at the ecosanctuary, Zealandia.

Hello! Hello!


I hope you are keeping well. I am so deeply grateful to have this outlet to muse and hopefully, amuse. Thanks to my supporters who are riding and subscribed.


To my new readers, welcome, bonjour, Aloha, Kia ora!


Yescessary (a play on necessary) is an activity, ritual, or practice that I choose to do that energizes, rebuilds, renews, resets, and connects me to my higher purpose on Earth. This newsletter is my cozy, free-for-all spot where I share what I’m saying “yes” to, what’s happening life-wise, and what I’m learning. 

I’m working on being more present, but heck, I’m super happy that we’re one sleep ‘til May. We had a mild winter in Toronto, but I’m still itching to loosen my jacket, tear off this turtleneck, trash my scarf, and lose the layers. I want my moisturized and ready to be paraded ankles out.


This is the time of year where one person is donning a giant down parka and wool hat on the same day someone else is rocking a halter top. The disparity makes me howl. Here’s to making the best layering choices we can!


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  • Stop, Drop and Decomp

  • 8 Things New Zealand Does Right

  • My Spring-a-ling-ting YES-ESSENTIALS 


 

Stop, Drop and Decomp


April has been a hella stressful month for me. These last few weeks have been trying. I’m toggling between the competing priorities of home and work, I’m pent up from being sequestered by winter, drained from dealing with instances of bullying at the school. April 2024 has been my despondent, tortured poet month.


But I’m proud of myself! I’ve been handling a lot very well. And I give the credit to my special chill sessions.


The first time I experienced an organized group decompression was at my former job. It was 2021 and I was one of the co-chairs of the newly formed Black Employee Resource Group. We had a young and very intuitive DEI exec who initiated a virtual decompression session for the members of our BERG.


We were knee-deep in another surge of COVID. We were grappling with the murder of George Floyd and a global recognition of insidious, rampant, and unchallenged anti-Black racism.


Hello, heavy start. Stick with me!


The decompression session was an hour plus and only open to Black-identifying employees who wanted to share thoughts, feelings, observations, work-related conflicts or just listen. None of us knew how much we needed the time, the safe space, the support of each other.


I won’t share more as that was the code, but I will say that the session taught me that I needed regular and powerful exhalations. I also learned the term microstressor.


It clicked for me that I wasn’t noticing the little things that pile up and chip away at me. Thank goodness managing stress is no longer a shameful secret. We all have stressors – macro and micro. I personally am longing for more open discourse about how each of us manage our cortisol levels and carve out pockets of time for resets and revitalization. Hence this post.


Decompression is relieving stress in a meaningful, significant, and lasting manner. My decomps are clean or reduced time away from work and away from my family. Gasp. How dare a smoochy-smooch mother admit that she needs time away from her loving brood? I do. And I’m better for it.


I’m a Black female in a high-performance job and an all-in parent - both demanding leadership roles. Stress is a passenger in this sweet ride I call life. She’s always with me, so I need to make friends with her, manage her, and keep that vixen from taking the wheel. She’s a bad driver. I’ve seen that girl swerve…


My decompression sessions are in addition to my mindfulness practices and de-stressors that I do on the regular like meditating, visualizing, deep breathing, exercising. They are outside my regular ‘take a beat AG’ routine.


I use “If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated,” with my decomps. I schedule regular proactive stress reduction sessions before I feel overwhelmed. I also have some immediate releasers in my care kit that help me control my reaction when the pressure is high.


But first, a giant disclaimer! I’m no expert. I’m not a doctor. Script doctor, yes, but that’s not our topic here. If you’re super stressed, please consult someone qualified like a person with a DR or an MD bookending their name.


Here’s what’s been working for me these past few weeks and years. Listed under proactive and reactive!  


PROACTIVE


I take a weekday off.


I take a weekday off every four to six weeks as a “slow” day to intentionally remove myself from rigid routine. Typically, I move like molasses in the morning, treat myself to a lovely lunch, find a spot to write and if I’m into it, I hit the gym because no rush workouts are a dream. These are my pressure drop days. No schedule. No deadlines.


Feeling activated – pleasure.


I stay longer on work trips (a.k.a. soft offs on location).


Whenever I travel for work, I stay for another two plus days to 1) finish or at least make a hefty dent on the follow ups and 2) experience a little bit of the city.

I stay on my own dime because the stress of coming back to the cyclone of my full family life, trying to do the extra follow ups, plus the day-to-day of my job is too stacked.


I use the term soft offs for the days where I’m working and still getting life stuff done. When I stay, I’m able to come down from the intensity of the market, I’m focussed, and free to remain focussed. I can get in a full day of work and layer in a bit of exploration as I’m not on the family clock.


Pausing here to underline – transitions are crucial for me. I tend to run from one engagement to the next, but I know that if I enter the next activity or responsibility after I’ve paused to process or unwind before jumping to the next thing, I’m fully present for what’s coming.


Feeling activated – win win.


I hit the steam room.


Thank you, dear technician. This year you’ve figured out how to make the steam tortuously hot. Steaming is a beautiful stress buster as it releases endorphins and decreases cortisol like a champ. When I’m in there, I do a body scan and a brain scan. How am I doing? What do I need to make tomorrow better? I love the instant calm, gentle introspection, and the bonus of a full body facial.


Feeling activated – softness.


I boogie solo.


When I crank the tunes, I’m back to being nineteen at the club dropping it low, shaking what my momma gave me. There is nothing like a good, embarrass-free boogie. I’m not home alone that often, so I really let loose footloose style when I get the chance. I’m always surprised at how pumped up I feel after.


Feeling activated – youth.


I ❤️ acupuncture.


Confession: I’m terrified of needles. We’re all enigmas, right? Somehow, I’m able to suspend my phobia because those little pokers are so teensy weensy, and the practice works for me. I’m forced to stay still, which takes every ounce of self-control. It’s a relief to stay put for once.


Feeling activated – freedom in stillness.


REACTIVE


I take an epic walk.


I go for super long treks when I’m feeling miffed, steamed, or rattled. An hour plus walk is an immediate calm down session for me especially when I pair those steps with mindful breathing and the intention of letting go. When I epic walk, I tend to leave a portion of whatever is irking me on the pavement.


Feeling it activates – relief.



Trail shoes. Went with the orange laces.

I tell it to my phone.


I don’t journal by hand anymore because my handwriting is horrendous. It’s stylish and very funky looking, but sadly, illegible. So, I give it to my phone.


Poor phone. She’s deeply burdened with all the things I wouldn’t dare tell a living soul. On the flip side, she also holds my hopes, my dreams, my hunches, my grocery lists. She’s carrying a lot and I’m grateful.


Lately, I’ve been challenging myself to type my specific emotions down one by one so that I can acknowledge each specifically. Writing (or er, typing in my phone) is how I hold space for my emotions. They are there for a reason.


Feeling activated – compassion.


Voilà. My top decomps!


I treat my decomps the way I drink water. I don’t wait until I’m thirsty, I drink water continually through the day. I treat decompressing the same way. I choose to stress release before I recognize I need it. I take the initiative because I’m driving.


I’ve certainly had to crank up my sessions lately, but I believe these additive dedicated, and intentional stress relief sessions are my secret to thriving and staying passionate in all areas of my life.


I hope sharing what works for me inspires you to keep up regular decomps or layer in some more in your life. I would love to hear what works for you, too!


More ideas on decompressing -


-       Adding transition time after intense meetings, even if it’s 10 -15 minutes.

Decomps can be small pockets of time in your day.

-       Meeting-free work weeks or meeting-free days.

-       Colouring. Still cool.

-       Dates with nature. I love listening to birds.

-       Massages. Self-massage. My friend Marni bought me these!


 

8 Things New Zealand Does Right


I applied, there was a vetting process, and I was selected for a coproduction conference in NEW ZEALAND. New freakin’ Zealand. I know you all know this, but it’s like waaaaaaaay far.

 

The conference was incredible. Learned a lot, met a ton of folks, and bonded with the other producers who were selected. It was all around rad.

 

I really liked it there and as a lifestyle lady, I got to tell you, they do a lot of things that deserve chef kisses.

 

This is by no means and exhaustive list but here’s what stuck with me:

 

1)   Coffee - Dreamy. Strong. Never missed.

 

2)   Inclusion – NZ integrates Maori culture into everyday greetings, welcomes, ceremonies. There is still a huge disparity between Indigenous and Pakeha, but the effort to include is exemplary.

 

Adding emphasis here. I was obvs not from there (Canadian accent, one of few with dark brown skin), but I felt next level welcomed.

 

Usually when I travel the second question is “Where are you from?” In NZ, that was maybe the tenth question because our conversation, humour and similarities came first, not our difference.


3)   Conservation - They are big on preserving and protecting nature.



4)   Food - Marvelous. Multicultural. I still dream of this lobster roll..

 

5)   Waterfronts - Stunning. Walkable.

 



6)   Peanut Butter - I successfully brought a jar back.

 



7)   Pinot Noir - I’m typically a Malbec girl. NZ changed me!

 

8)   Umbrellas - If these can endure Windy Wellington, it will work anywhere.

 

It’s a month later and I’m still raving about it. New Zealand is embedded in my heart forever. I hope that you venture that way in your life if you haven’t. It was better than I imagined. And yes, it took 26 hours to get there. I would do it again in a heartbeat.


 

My Spring-a-ling-ting YES-ESSENTIALS  


Yescessary is about prioritizing what brings me joy in this full life, so I thought I’d pop in a few more links about what I’m digging right now.  

 

This cleanser removed ten-year-old stains in our sink. I bow to thee.

 

May not feel like spring, but it sure smells like it with this.

 

I have amnesia about how to store sweaters, thankfully I bookmarked this resource.

 

I’m an etymology nerd and was curious about the term spring fever.

 

I have an April tradition of buying myself a new pair of kicks.  

 

I’m no Pioneer Woman, but I’m about to churn butter, y’all. So stoked! 

 

Stay well, my dears. Thanks so much for hanging for a bit.


Good things are a comin’!


xoAG

 

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