Unhindered Glee

Today I got struck with the nostalgic and the sentimental. As I’ve been working to pack for my move to Japan, I’ve had the opportunity to go through those items that have been shut away in cupboards in boxes that haven’t been touched since they were placed there when I moved in almost five years ago.
First was the collection of cards given by friends and family and distant relatives over the course of my lifetime of Christmases and birthdays. Some warmed my heart, others made me chuckle, and still others brought tears to my eyes. I even happened across $30 tucked away unclaimed all this time! My greatest takeaway, however, as I went through the notes and messages written to me over the years, was that I have not at all gone without love. And I really wish to do something for all of the wonderful souls that have cared for me and given me their tender affection and encouragement all this time.
My reflections took a slightly different turn as I started to go through the pictures and albums that I’ve collected depicting my childhood’s fondest memories. Of course I was struck by the bittersweetness of looking back at those sweet times that I perhaps long to experience once more, to get a chance to really appreciate them. But I also took a close look at myself in the different stages of growing up, and the thing that stood out to me most was how uninhibited I was in my expressions. I grinned, sometimes cheesily, but always sincerely. And what strikes me is how pure and beautiful I was. Not “beautiful” in the attractive sense, but in the way that a child outwardly expressing their spontaneous joy without self-consciousness is a wholly pleasant sight. But now, try to catch a picture of me and I’ll either run and hide, or spend my time focusing on carefully fixing my features into the most flattering configuration. And yet, I’m never satisfied when I see myself–now not only do I feel unattractive, but I despise that dull, insincere grimace-like attempt at a coy smile that won’t make my eyes look too beady or my cheeks too puffy.

And it might sound cliche to say so, but I realized today what showing your inner beauty really means. Self-consciousness will never bring satisfaction. Age didn’t turn me into an unphotogenic hag by any means, but I let my fear of appearing unattractive hold me back from experiencing the same kind of joy in events and excursions the same way I did as a child. And that’s simply sad.

What’s even more important to realize is that someone takes a picture of us not to hear us bitch and moan about how ugly we feel, because the truth is that more than likely they don’t see us that way at all. More often than not, they are seeing our inner beauty, and that’s what prompted them to take our photo in the first place. It’s selfish to deny someone the opportunity to immortalize a moment with a photograph for their own memory’s sake.

So I plan to work to cast away my self-consciousness; to lose myself in the enjoyment of the present moment; to let my picture be taken because chances are good in the future I’ll see that photo and happily remember the circumstances around it, and not care a bit how I look anyway.

Advertisements

Mindful Mornings

Although it is generally categorized as a business book, Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is useful for nearly any area of life. In one of the early chapters, there is an exercise where Stephen Covey says to imagine your own funeral, and what you’d like people to say about you after you’re gone. This exercise, although quite morbid at first, really made me think about the things I value, what kind of person I truly want to be viewed as, and how I would define success.

The truth is, at least to me, success has nothing to do with money or fame. It has nothing to do with the number of followers or likes that I gain on this blog.

I will consider myself successful on the day that I feel I’ve learned to actively love with all my heart the people that are dear to me. In all that I say or do, honesty, genuineness, and sincerity must be at the core. I want to nurture compassion, care, and thoughtfulness in my relationships. I desire to be dependable, not just for others, but for myself as well. I hope to learn how I can respect and support others to realize their potential. I want to positively affect the people around me, and to cherish the everyday, and to be aware of the bits of beauty hidden in the world around.

It all sounds cheesy and cliche, but these are the things that I value. These are the things that I want to be remembered by. I don’t think I’m destined to change the world or end up in history books, but if I can make the lives of those who I come across a little bit brighter, I’d consider my life a success. We are all humans looking to find our form of happiness, and I don’t want to be the one who turns anybody’s day sour.

But it is easy in my day-to-day, as I run between school and work and fit homework somewhere in between,  to lose sight of my values. Which is why I’m starting to try and form a new habit of getting up a little early each day to spend some time in a state of mindfulness. My Mindful Morning practice is an idea taken directly from this blog post which is a review of Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning. It involves a nifty acronym, “SAVERS”–Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Read, Scribe. The objective of the Mindful Morning is to start my day with the right mindset, rather than crawl out of bed after half an hour wasted scrolling through social media on my phone, and end up spending my day in a state of dread of what I’m totally unprepared to face. Rather, I want to:

  • Meditate on my core values during the time of silence
  • Affirm my own value through reflection on those things that I am grateful for
  • Visualize any potential challenges in my day and how I can respond to them
  • Move my body to wake it up
  • Read something to get my brain charged
  • Jot down my thoughts and feelings

The place that acts as the greatest challenge to practice my core values is work. The service industry is already infamous as a positivity-killer, and after my first service job, I became considerably more cynical and negative. I’m not saying that I’m looking to turn a blind eye to the darker elements of society, but I don’t want to be brought down by it. I want to be one of the sources of light. So I must constantly be mindful of my values, ingrain them into my mind and heart, so that they naturally show through in my actions and reactions. The practice of Mindful Mornings should help me establish the right attitude to project these values throughout the day.

How do you tend to start your mornings? Do you have a method that works for you to start your day well? If you aren’t satisfied with your routine, what is one action you think would help change this?

Five Things I Learned When I Left the Honeymoon Phase

Line Brown and ConyThe first couple of months of our relationship were fantastic. Each and every moment was filled with sweet passion as we were taken by the thrill of learning more about each other, and experiencing those silly series of “firsts” that took place as we tested each others’ comfort zones and discovered our desires and fantasies. During that time, I truly believed we were so well-suited to each other that nothing could ever make us quarrel. It was the Honeymoon Phase, and it was wonderful.

But a cruel demon that can easily make or break any relationship is stress. Continue reading

A Rant on Pretentiousness

51EDMUboKpL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Contains SPOILERS*** I just finished reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by French author Muriel Barbery. I immediately recorded my rating on Goodreads, not hesitating to select the five stars that I bestow on those books that move me on several levels. I laughed, I (nearly) cried, I nodded in agreement to the character’s reflections on certain aspects in life, and wrote down those quotes that expressed certain musings in a way that struck a resonant chord inside me. This is one of those books that I know if I read again in five years time, the experiences and knowledge that comes with aging and maturing will allow me to be able to understand and glean even more gems from its pages. I truly felt that this book was worthy of my rating.

But then I began to read the other reviews for it on Goodreads. Continue reading

Haiku

During my semester abroad in Japan, I took a class on Japanese literature. It was a memorable class in that it was completely horribly, unbearably boring. The professor was a type that obviously had an unimaginable amount of knowledge on the subject, but completely lacked the ability to convey any sense of enthusiasm. A certain catch-phrase of his that he would drawl in his slow, deep, Russian accent (that he had such trouble projecting that he had to use a microphone in what was not exactly a sizable classroom) was Continue reading

Now is now

Just yesterday, I finished reading Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home. I can definitely name this book as one source of inspiration for developing my goals, as well as deciding to actively start blogging. But the part that really affected me most was at the very end where she described our every day as fleeting and precious, and how “Now is now, and now is already a long time ago.” Continue reading

First Comes Bitterness

This blog won’t be successful without some sort of clear goal in mind. However, I’m starting this with only a vaguest spark of inspiration.

I felt today that I wanted to produce something. This urge felt very fragile, as inspiration tends to be. It strikes up as a hot spark but can so easily be blown out, or perhaps fanned into something far greater. The question is, do I have the control over that gust of wind that will decide whether or not this inspiration extinguishes or thrives?

It’s the weight of possibility that burdens me.

I’m about to start my last year in university. But my god,  it makes me so anxious. I’ll surely be able to walk away with a degree and satisfactory grades, but I still don’t feel like I’ve gained much in the way of experience and skills. A number of others in my position have already completed internships, developed their professional social circles that will more than likely cushion their entrance into society, have paved paths for themselves, etc.

As for me, I’m still contemplating whether or not I even made the right choice for my major…But I slogged through and the finish line is in sight. I’m not one to leave something unfinished. Okay, that’s a lie.  I’m tempted to not even finish this post.

I’m realizing how dry and stuffy this all sounds so far. What I am is a college senior, wondering what the heck the future holds in store for me, and feeling totally unprepared to step out into the world and try out my fledgling wings for the first time (whee, cliché metaphors are great). I’m the type that doesn’t like to try something until I’m more or less sure that I won’t outright fail. Right now, my life before me feels like one big failure waiting to happen.

 

The concept of “bittersweet” is one that is drummed up in my mind time and time again. I first became conscious of it when I decided that my favorite ending to a novel or ending was one where there was a tinge of pain/loss/regret even when all else has been settled happily enough. The best way I can describe it is through a description of a cup of coffee paired with a rich dessert. The more you eat of a luscious, fudgy slice of chocolate cake, the less you actually seem to enjoy it. But take a sip of coffee (preferably only with a bit of milk) between each bite and it’s very nearly like taking that first orgasmic pleasurable taste. There are many experiences in life just like that.

My long-distance relationship is another appropriate example. Love is wonderfully sweet. But I am denied so much due to the distance that stretches bitterly between us. We are an example of a pair that met and fostered our relationship online, never having many of even the simplest of pleasures a couple experiences, such as holding hands.

So this last year represents something else to me. It is the possibility that in approximately one year’s time I might finally be able to hug for the first time the boy I’ve been loving from afar. And how so so so so sweet it will be after tasting bitterness all this time.

So, although I’m afraid, there is yet hope in this concept. Bitterness now might make what sweetness there is to come all the more enjoyable and wonderful.