“PEACE BEGINS WITH ME.”
My career was taking off. My TV hosting dreams were coming true, but the rest of my reality felt like one big energy-suck — until I stumbled upon peace along the quaint, Dutch country-side…
In the Spring of last year I was hosting a daily music countdown show for Fuse TV, guest hosting on Vh1’s morning show ‘Big Morning Buzz’ and I’d just co-hosted with the legendary Joan Rivers on E!’s ‘Fashion Police’ — this was the highest point I’d reached in my career thus far and yet I felt like something was missing… Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED these huge career moments (heck, I live for them) and yet as soon as the temporary high of achievement wore off, I felt burnt out. Exhausted. Emotionally drained. What the hell was up?!
I needed a break… badly. So I hopped on a flight to Amsterdam to visit my boyfriend, Mettin (we were long distance at the time)… and got my ‘EAT, PRAY, LOVE’ on.
Casually strolling through the cobblestone sidewalks of Rome, and cycling through the canal-lined streets of Amsterdam, I was falling in love. With the freedom of exploration… of enjoying my days at a leisurely pace. Nothing to do tomorrow, if I didn’t want to do it.
And then ish got real real. Real quick.
Mettin convinced me to take a stroll around the country near his family’s home. Once we reached a nearby lake he stopped. We sat down, alone and together, by the lake in complete silence — enjoying the moment (and the sick view). I cried. And cried. Not just because I’m a horrible swimmer and that water was inching awfully close…. but because the overwhelming sense of peace I was experiencing felt SO foreign. Why should a feeling this great be so rare? I was mourning my own lack of peace in my everyday life.
“Peace shouldn’t feel this foreign!” I thought to myself.
When I got back to NYC, I focused on carving out 15 – 30 mins each day to be alone with my thoughts. To breathe slow, (try) to shut off my brain (super hard… it’s always in over-drive), and enjoy a little bit of quiet & calm. And you know what? It helped!
Coming back from that vacation refreshed; taking a few minutes to relax and reenergize at work each day… Those things helped me present the BEST version of ‘Zuri’ I have to offer — and that’s the version I want to have shine when I’m on TV. That’s the version of yourself that YOU deserve to have admired in your office, in the classroom, or wherever it is that you want to put your best professional foot forward.
In the May 2015 issue of Glamour magazine, Kerry Washington (a MEGA #AlphaBabe) said:
“…I think it’s really important to take the stigma away from mental health… My brain and my heart are really important to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth. I go to the dentist. So why wouldn’t I go to a shrink?” (–Kerry Washington)
We each deserve to find a place of mental calm. Unwind. Practice yoga. Meditate. See that shrink.
You owe it to yourself to save up and plan for that 7-day vacation (minimum. You should Google how much vacay time Europeans get — sheesh! #jealous)… And if you can’t get away for that long, aim for an extended weekend. Peace is free (and priceless!) — so don’t get caught up in thinking you have to spend big. Take a quiet stroll through a park. Use your lunch break to put on your headphones, close your eyes, and listen to Zen-ish music you find on YouTube. Whatever works! Just try to take 30 minutes of quiet time each day to reconnect with yourself, and calm down. Basically:
Demand your happy, damn it!
It’s official: I’m completely obsessed with Rome.
Pasta & vino everyday? Uh, yes please.
The picture below best sums up how I felt at the lake with Mettin the day I cried in The Netherlands… This pic is actually one I snapped of his backyard (sucks, right? ha)…. The sun setting, light bouncing off of the canal water as blue turned into a quiet night in the country.
I’ve promised myself I’ll never let peace feel so foreign again.
You deserve the same.
P.S. If you wanna see some of my Dutch fun in action click here — it’s a little video montage of the bicycling, canal sightings, and general amazing ass time I had in Amsterdam with Mett!
Have you felt similarly in a high-pressure environment? How do you try to ‘find your center’ or create peace when you feel overwhelmed? Oh, and your DREAM vacay — what is it??