Missing Trains

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I didn’t expect that missing my train at 5:30 in the morning would make me want to become a morning person. Nothing in my entire life has made me want to become a morning person. And yet here I am, enjoying the morning before it is even 7:00.

A lot has already happened today. To begin the day, I ran nearly 2 miles to the Amtrak station in hopes of making my 5:30 departure to Portland. For a reason still unknown to me, my friend didn’t show up this morning to pick up and drop me off for the train, so at 5:22 I began running in the direction of the station. According to Google Maps it would take approximately 25 minutes on foot. I made it in 15, but alas, Amtrak is a punctual kind of train company.

For a brief moment this morning I admittedly became tense with stress and frustration. “This day is going to be horrible,” I thought at one point. “There’s no way I will make my flight. And then I’m not going to make it to Colorado, and then I’m going to miss Timmy’s (little brother) graduation”. Negativity flooded my mind. And then I looked up at the dimly lit and empty streets. Quiet. Absolute stillness. I looked down at my legs. At least they were moving in the direction of the missed train.

One of my favorite quotes, which pertains not just to missed trains, but any situation that leaves you with anxiety or a pit in your stomach, comes from a blog on Tumblr called C0ntemplations. It says,”It’s not like if you’re angry at the world, the world is going to say sorry and make it up to you. You’ve just got to let things go and learn to let the poison leave your body even as it enters.” Negativity is poisonous, and if we let it, it will derail everything. So this morning I tried to let the poison leave me as soon as it had entered. There was no reason to be upset with my friend- perhaps she lost her phone or the alarm didn’t go off. We’ve all been there, and holding bitterness towards her would do nothing but make me more anxious.

So I marched up to the Amtrak attendant, explained my situation, and in return got a bus ticket for a later departure and a recommendation for a coffee shop down the street. The airline happily put me on the standby list for a later flight, and I ate a delicious quiche right after being greeted with a genuine “Good morning!” from the cheerful man in front of me at the coffee shop. As I sat down at my table, a song began playing that literally talked about how the day was just about to turn around. Whether it was serendipity, coincidence, or just awareness of a higher vibration, the day suddenly became a pleasant adventure instead of an inconvenience.

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The Reconfiguration of Summer

I can’t put a finger on how summer makes me feel.

IMAG1585_FotorIt is painted as the vivacious time of carefree adventure, sunshine, and laughter bursting at the seams. The edge of responsibility slowly tapering off into rivers, as stress is evaporated by the scorching skies. Climb mountains. Consume obnoxious amounts of s’mores, drink beers at bonfires. It’s a beautiful time of delightful social interactions, nature, and good ol’ memory making. Right. Right?

While it’s true that I absolutely capture glimpses of the majestic summertime stereotypes that have been laid before me, I wouldn’t say that summer’s stereotypical essence always percolates into my reality. I love summer, but not in the way that may initially come to mind. I love summer, because it tends to chew me up and spit me out emotionally. Yes, summer has this way of reconfiguring all of my thoughts and emotions,  and come fall, summer has usually helped me reach an entirely new level in self actualization. This of course, can be a daunting and uncomfortable process. Amidst camping trips and sunshine, summer has always been the setting when I have had my most prominent “holy fuck!” realizations. And thus I love summer, but not for the glamor.

My love affair with summer is that of give and take. During the past four summers, I have undergone intensely influential phases. It was when I thought my family was going to completely disintegrate, when I began to find my life’s passion, when I realized friendships wane, fade, and sometimes cease to exist. I am often deeply internal during the summer, and it’s almost as though I experience a seasonal depression. Although, I wouldn’t quite call it depression, it’s more of a seasonal introspection, I suppose.

During the summer so many memories flood my mind, both positive and negative. It can be difficult for me to decipher the boundary between valuing and appreciating the past, while being fully present here and now. That’s the constant goal, isn’t it? To live in the present?

And so here I am, absorbing the sunshine and reprocessing all that has percolated into my existence thus far. And as I climb those mountains, as laughter echoes through the dry Colorado heat, as July begins and fades, I will continue searching for numinous, re-grounding myself.

 

Alignment

My, how long it has been. Such as life works, my computer was broken for the majority of last term, and only just was repaired. I think it will be good, to be writing again.

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One of my best friends by the beautiful Wilamette River, 5 minutes from campus

It’s the end of week four of my Spring term. In other words I am 2/3 and four weeks done with my freshman year. Time is a mysterious and strange force, and my life is quite different than it was a term ago. Someday, in some time, when I’m reflecting back on my time as a young’un during my freshman year of college, I wouldn’t be surprised if I credit the foundation of my experience to last term. So much happened, and put simply I feel as though some of my roots were extended into this place I now refer to as home. I feel inclined to continue my college experience here at University of Oregon, which is certainly not how I felt at the end of my first term.

Last term my friendships deepened, and with patience I was able to begin finding a place here that I can identify with. I met someone who I really care about, and experienced what it’s like to not be single in the chaos of college.  I declared a major in Family and Human services, a program defined by deeply passionate professors, hands on volunteer work, and peers who actually give a fuck about the world. My classes have been exceptional, and this term I expect nothing less than empowering material that actually makes me inclined to pay attention.

As a whole it all feels quite positive and exciting. Not to mention spring term is the most socially active term with the most events and opportunities. The trees are blossoming, everything is somehow even greener, and the parties are somehow just a bit more lively.

I think it will be an excellent term, even though, truthfully, the first few weeks felt off. It just goes to show that in the midst of life going well, you can still feel off sometimes, and that’s ok. The first two weeks felt odd, mostly because I had been traveling so much, and also because I wasn’t yet thriving in an adjusted schedule. I went from the Dominican Republic (more on that in a different post), straight to Las Vegas for my stepbrother’s wedding, and then immediately back here for new classes. It was overwhelming to go through drastically different environments so rapidly. I was still jet lagged from the Dominican, over-tired from the wedding, and in general I  felt as though I hadn’t had a moment to breathe and not be “on”

After three weeks in,  I feel far more in balance. Everything has calmed down significantly, and perhaps coincidentally, or for a reason, after the lunar eclipse everything began to reach points of resolution. I don’t know how much I believe in astrology, but I do think we are more connected to the cosmos than commonly believed. Or maybe I’m making things up and experiencing the placebo effect, but after the shifting and aligning of the moon, earth, and sun, I felt a significant change in my energy, and quite a bit started to balance out for me. After an almost two-month long search for a house, my friend and I signed a lease this morning on an adorable/affordable/close-to-campus apartment. I reached clarity in my relationship and have started a new path with my boyfriend, which both excites and terrifies me. It is the first time in my life that I am actively committing to an adult relationship with someone, and I know that it will be challenging. It’s a new experience for me, as in the past I have been afraid of committing to anyone. 

I’ve also been adventuring far more, in the spirit of numinous. Nature plays such a huge role in centering my entire being, and incorporating it into almost every day certainly has an effect on my contentment. All these things, all these shifting and beautiful experiences. They make my mind whirl and make me feel grateful to be alive, to have the opportunity to feel and try and laugh.

There’s only 6 weeks left of this first year of college, and I will make it beautiful.

 

Not Enough Grammies to Go Round

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Mt. Pisgah in Eugene, Oregon

Tonight Sara Bareilles didn’t win a grammy, and I didn’t get a callback. We didn’t win today, and oddly enough I feel kind of jazzed.

Ok, jazzed is a strong word. Not getting what you want is sucky. Not getting chosen for something you really want doesn’t feel so awesome, but in my opinion, it’s funny how in a round about way rejection can end up making us feel optimistic. Perhaps if we let it, rejection can help us find the true opportunities we were meant to stumble upon in the end. I am not entirely sure I believe in fate, but I feel that if we consciously and positively choose so, everything can happen for the right reasons. Sort of like a proactive faith in destiny. We have to have the strength to propel ourselves into new adventures and chances. If we choose to dwell and be paralyzed or humiliated by failure, we are less likely to take a breath and try again, or try something entirely new. Sara Bareilles, for example, has not-won-grammies several times, but she’s still a kickass star lady who I admire deeply. Even though she’s been rejected and failed many a time, she still finds ways to be successful and awesome. Like Sara, I have yet to find any kickass people who haven’t failed a whole lot.

Today I auditioned for a musical and I didn’t get in. For whatever reason I was not meant to be in this particular theatrical experience, and for whatever reason I feel completely content with that. In the past rejection has been uncomfortably debilitating for me, especially in theatre. In the past when I didn’t get a role in a show it would send me spiraling into anger and resentment. It was awful.

I certainly don’t feel debilitated, or even nearly as upset as I used to feel when I failed. Maybe I’ve matured (questionable), or maybe I’m just starting to realize that freaking the fuck out over failure is what ends up making failure actually suck so much. Negativity begets negativity begets negativity. It’s common sense, but common sense and emotions don’t always mix so smashingly. That is why we have to mindfully choose to be positive after failing. Whether or not it is true, believing that things happen in order to lead me to where I belong is extraordinarily helpful in feeling positive when I am lost. And believe me, I am often lost.

Lately I’ve been thinking very much about the direction I want to take my life right now. This notion of self discovery is obviously pretty standard at my age- it’s basically the point of college. However, I have been considering some fairly radical options. I’ve been struggling between the idea of staying on this traditional college path at a four year University, or possibly transferring to a school where I would be essentially studying abroad for the rest of college. I have an intense desire to be flung into a consistent cycle of travel, and I am going back and forth chaotically. I genuinely believe either path could be fulfilling; if I stay at this school I will be in an incredible major and potentially have wonderful experiences; if I transfer and live abroad I will be taking a huge leap out of normality and will certainly be living a life of thrill and spontaneity.

The issue is that when I am discontent here, the other option seems incredibly appealing, and I know that is simply not realistic. Now that I’m (sort of) an adult I certainly can’t just run away whenever something feels uncomfortable. I know it’s cliche, but dreaming about other places and opportunities is always going to feel better than a present moment that feels difficult. That’s why I’m going to stick it out here for the rest of the year and focus intently on making the next six months as fulfilling and blissful as possible. It’s been a bit of a struggle, feeling socially demystified at times and yearning desperately to find my niche on campus, but the past week I sort of just let go of expectations and everything felt much freer and enjoyable. If I can keep focusing on letting my free spirit culminate itself, I think the right path will illuminate on its own.

In the mean time, I’m working on noticing the things I’m most grateful for. Consistently refocusing our attention on the good things is an easy habit that will bring about positivity.

Today I am grateful for:

  • The hilarious and classic night I had on Friday
  • The gorgeous hike to Mt. Pisgah on Saturday
  • Being drenched in sunshine the past few days
  • Long, deep talks with the people on my floor
  • Indian food
  • I am in love with school this term, which is a feeling I haven’t experienced in quite some time. I am incredibly lucky to be in engaging classes with wonderful professors
  • My Mom’s deep support and love
  • MUSIC- recently I’ve spent a lot of time exploring music on 8tracks and SoundCloud and I am obsessed with finding new musical discoveries

Salt & Honey

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 It’s bizarre, but I’ve been sort of anxious for the weekend to end because I liked my classes so much last week. It’s not that it wasn’t a decent weekend, but I feel in love with my education (at least for the time being), and that is a very exciting place to be at. Last week sitting in some of my classes I had these moments of pure contentment, and I found myself thinking “my god I have found the right place”. Last term I didn’t think that very often (classes-wise), so I feel extremely lucky and happy that I seem to have found my niche academically.

In general this term feels pretty fresh and exciting, because unlike the beginning of fall term, I am not an overwhelmed flailing-ostrich-girl who has no idea what she’s doing. I mean, there’s still a bit of that (probably always will be), but right now I feel much more secure in what I want to be doing with myself.

So far I’ve been living the sort of “just try everything” approach, and in one week I went to two basketball games, auditioned for a dance concert (note that I am not a dancer), applied for an internship, ate mostly vegan, went running (note that I am afraid of running), tried cleaning my room before it was necessarily dirty (note that I am usually deplorably messy), and I even did some of my homework in advance (note that I usually make a conscious effort to procrastinate). I feel so damn productive, and I’m hoping I get addicted to this feeling so that I actually stay on top of things.

This week I’ve also been sticking to a regimen of washing my face with raw honey and then putting epsom salt on at night (to hopefully improve my long-standing battle with acne). Weird, kind of off topic, but the combination reminded me of the cliche “every rose has its thorn” theory. This week was full of a lot of beautiful and exciting moments (i.e. walking and talking after my wilderness survival class with attractive person, feeling empowered in a kickboxing class, screaming at the top of my lungs at a sporting event, enjoying every single one of my classes), but there were also some moments that were not exactly vibrant. For starters, my mood was slightly turbulent (thank you hormones!), and at times I felt myself getting irrationally frustrated.  I’ve been struggling in general (and always) with some of the people at my school who (at least on the surface) seem extremely shallow and ignorant. Others may refer to these folks as “bros” and “basic bitches”. I also have a hard time determining if I want to straight up be an edgy hippy woman who goes against societal norms, or if I also want to party and be a stereotypical college kid.  Sigh. Salt and honey. The balance is a constant pursuit.

On my way back from Colorado

San Francisco may have changed my life.

Saturday was the first time in my 18 years that I’ve ever wandered around a major city completely alone. Of course I have explored Boulder, Eugene, and Denver, but as far as different states go, that I’m not currently living in, this was the first. I had a 6 hour layover on my way back to Eugene, and I decided to try out BART and explore the city a little bit. Maybe I’m sheltered, but it kind of felt like a big deal. I felt so independent and I may have fallen in love with traveling alone. There’s absolutely no expectations (other than not missing my next flight); I went where I wanted to go, saw what I wanted to see, and ate what I wanted to eat. I do enjoy exploring places with my friends and family, but there’s something different and very special about exploring alone. I was able to observe everything uninterrupted. I heard dozens of different languages as I walked down Embarcadero, saw three people crying (only one of them was a child), and watched as hundreds of strangers lived their lives amidst the sunshine. Essentially I was witnessing human emotion quite candidly, and it was beautiful. Not to mention it was 60 degrees and I felt thoroughly warm for the first time in months.

But then something happened that shook me up; the tram car two ahead of mine crashed into a semi-truck. I mean, the front of it was completely obliterated, and I honestly have no idea how the driver could have survived. It was such a sobering moment in my existence. If I had been on the tram 10 minutes earlier I would’ve been in a terrible, terrible accident. There were so many firetrucks and policemen and a huge traffic jam, and it sort of took my breath away, literally seeing how a few minutes of time protected my life and took someone else’s.

I had to exit my tram and walk back to the BART station, because due to the accident the whole tram line was down. As I was walking a man said “hello” to me,  and I completely disregarded him. I think it was partially that I was processing the accident, and partially that I’ve become despondent to males who say things to me on the street. He proceeded to say, “Have a nice day,” and I still said nothing. By this point I was quite a bit ahead of him, but he yelled, “You know, it’s nice to be nice!” And he was right. I could’ve simply said hello back and wished him well, but instead I just ignored him, denying him any acknowledgement whatsoever. His comment seriously struck me. Strangers are still simply human, just as I, and why is it that I get so nervous sometimes when I see them in passing? Why is it so hard to genuinely smile at another person when you walk down a hallway or a sidewalk? It’s odd that sometimes I am the person who is overtly friendly, seeking conversation in almost any setting, but in some situations I am really quite awkward and gremlin-ey. I suppose it’s about figuring out a balance that makes me not a social leper, but also not one of those obnoxious people who can’t figure out when to shut the hell up.

Anyway, being in San Fran was a wonderful way to start off the winter term. I feel ready to make this term full of more numinous moments than were in the last. I hope to learn, break it down, laugh, and continue learning more about how I fit into this world. In the meantime I will perfect my hoarding skills and attempt to become more motivated to study at least sometimes. 

The Wanderers

An incredible example of following a passion and seeking the numinous

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The Wanderers

Because when every single cell of your body, every piece of hair rising up on your skin, is telling you to do something. You should always listen and follow it.

Less than two months ago, I was driving home, contemplating on where I stand in this part of my life when all of a sudden it hit me. As if the universe just shook me up and said “Hey! Do this! You need to do this now. This is what you are meant to do.” All of a sudden, I lit up. I started crying tears of bliss because I was so overwhelmed by this inner gravity within me telling me that I need to make this happen.

And what is it that I’m talking about?

At the end of June, I’m setting out on a quest. I will backpack by myself all throughout Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia…

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Becoming the Best Version

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I saw this in downtown Denver. I love the concept, and I think it’s awesome that they’re in public spaces all over the place!

Ok, so it’s cliche, and everyone is doing it, but naturally I am in the mood to reflect. 2013 was certainly an eventful time in my life, and it’s worth it to me to look back and consider what I’m leaving behind and taking from the past year.

This year I graduated, turned 18, and moved to a different state for college. By society’s standards these three things are fairly monumental milestones, up there with being born, getting married, and having children. While I agree, it wasn’t necessarily the day I graduated, my actual birthday, or my first night sleeping in the dorm that have defined my transition into “adulthood”. It was a mixture of those obvious events combined with subtle moments where I’ve had to stop and think to myself “I actually feel grown up”.  Getting to the point where I am today-about to return for my second term as a college freshmen- had a lot to do with the events in the past year. Although 2013 wasn’t always the loveliest, I think it served as a foundation for continuing to become the best version of myself. Here’s what I learned in 2013:

  1. Letting Go                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I realized that I don’t have to surround myself with people who aren’t contributing to my life positively. This may sound like a no brainer, but it’s something I’ve consistently struggled with. I tend to cling to the idea that something can get better, even if it’s extremely toxic. I want to give people the benefit of the doubt, but what I really give them is millions of chances that ultimately end in disappointment. I’m too focused on other people in an unproductive way. I had to learn to end friendships that were making me feel depleted, and stand up for myself to people in my life that were taking advantage of my willingness to try really hard to keep relationships afloat. This was absolutely one of the hardest parts of the past year. It was painful and hard for me to let go of people, but ultimately it was probably the most crucial thing I learned. There’s a difference between giving up on relationships, and knowing when it is no longer healthy to engage in them. This doesn’t mean that every time you have a fight with someone you should just cut them out of your life. I genuinely think arguing is one of the most important parts of relationships, to an extent. It’s a solid relationship if you trust someone enough to see you when you’re not always friendly or patient or kind, and arguing helps us move on and work through issues. Most of the relationships I ended this year had to do with the fact that we never confronted issues. Passive aggression solves nothing,  and ends up creating a whole storm of pain and frustration. After this year I feel better prepared to recognize when a relationship/friendship is unhealthy, and I feel confident enough to walk away if that is the healthy and positive choice.
  2. Comparing Yourself to Other People is Toxic                                                                                                                            By the end of high school I had gotten pretty good at not really caring very much about what my peers were doing or what they looked like in comparison to me (partially because I was so apathetic and done with high school in general).  This is why I was kind of overwhelmed by how harshly and frequently I started judging myself against others when I started college. My mind was often chaotic, especially at the beginning of the term. I was frantically looking around at all the new people around me, convincing myself that they were prettier, more social, more in shape, smarter, and in general living cooler lives than me. Did this motivate me to improve my own life? Well, not really. It made me feel awful. Self-judgement and unhealthy comparison is one hellacious cycle. At some point we must realize that unless we are extremely close and involved with another person, we can’t really know what struggles they might be facing. It’s easy to see someone in a passing second of their lives and think it depicts their whole experience. The truth is, if someone looks vibrant and happy today, yesterday they could’ve been having the worst day of their life. It’s all relative, and we’ve got to remember that.
  3. Family is Beautiful, Albeit Messy                                                                                                                                                 During high school I struggled deeply with my identity as a member of my family. Due to super complex and often painful circumstances, I grew extremely resentful towards some of the people in my family. I isolated myself and had a super difficult time moving forward and choosing forgiveness. Being away from them gave me a new perspective that I desperately needed. Looking at things while completely removed from the situation helped me see that more often than not, people are trying to do the best that they can, and mistakes don’t equate to a lack of love. One of the things I’m most excited about for the future is learning to accept my family for what it is, and work on being as loving and compassionate as I possibly can towards them. It’s not going to be easy, but I’m at a way brighter place than I was a year ago.
  4. If  You Want Your Life to Be Awesome, Make it Awesome                                                                                       People with awesome and exciting lives do awesome and exciting things. It’s one of the simplest concepts, and  yet it is not widely implemented in our society. There are certainly some uncontrollable circumstances that many people face that make their lives quite difficult, but I have witnessed people turn their struggle into beauty, and I believe we all have the capacity to do this.  If you want something ask for it. If you have a goal, work extremely hard until you achieve it. If you’re passionate about something, do it as much as possible. If you want your life to be full of incredible experiences, do incredible things with your life.

And thus, 2013 is over. I can’t wait for the adventures and lessons of this new year, this new opportunity to learn and grow and do incredible things. I feel that collectively it will be beautiful, and hopefully numinous.