Sunday, July 6, 2014

15 Things I Learned About Life In 15 Years


         Waking up today, July 7, 2014, means it has now been 15 years to the day since my big brother passed on to a better and peaceful life. He spent 24 years here on earth, spreading love and kindness while traveling far and wide living his life to the fullest, the way it is meant to be lived. He was a special piece of my journey for 10 years. Yes, I was young. You may not think it would be possible for a 10 year old to comprehend something as deep as death. However, that isn’t true. I was 10 years old when my heart truly broke for the first time. I was a child when I was forced to learn what it meant to have to put my heart back together again. I’m 25 now, a year older than my brother lived to be, and here are some things I’ve learned over these past 15 years about life.

1.         For one, never underestimate a child. They’ll always be smarter than you give them credit for. They see the world through pure, untainted eyes.

2.      Time will never be a means of measurement; it is a tool of transportation. It is a river carrying us through life, sometimes catching the current and flowing faster than we would like. We can’t hold it; it’ll just slip through our fingers. We cannot fight it, but rather let it take us to where we are meant to be.

3.      Make health a priority. It is the basis of so many things from self-love to living a happy life.

4.      Three words that can never be overused are I, love, and you. Put together, they can become the most important phrase you’ll say all day. 

5.      There is something so reassuring about a hug. Has your mood ever been immediately lifted as the result of a simple touch; a kiss on the forehead; a handshake; a comforting touch on the shoulder?  They are ways we subconsciously spread our light to one another. So hug your loved ones and never take a single touch for granted.

6.      You can never go wrong when being kind. Plato once said, “Always be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.” I personally have never thought once to myself: “I wish I was meaner today.”

7.      Begin each day with a grateful thought. No matter how much coffee you need, how late you slept in, or how much you wish the sun wouldn’t creep in between the crack in your curtain, hitting you square in the eyes. Gratitude is one of the foundations of living a happy and healthy life.

8.      Never end your day angry. Feeling anger every now and then is a part of being human. We’re emotional, sometimes over-emotional. Rage helps us learn and gives us a deeper appreciation for calmness. Nevertheless, rid the mind of anger before you fall asleep. Use your own breath to drown it away.

9.      Your attitude can either disrupt or uplift your quality of life. Positivity is key. The best part is that it’s one of the things in life that is in your control.

10.  Live fearlessly. My brother had EPP. He and I both, along with two of our other siblings share an extremely high sensitivity towards sunlight. However, he traveled from Mexico to Arizona to Texas and always told me to never let the disease take over my life. He lived without fear. It has been said that fear is an illusion. To live fearlessly is to break free from that illusion. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” - Neale Donald Walsch

11.  There are two different kind of selfishness. There’s the kind that revolves around you and the kind that revolves within you. Live with the latter. Your life is ultimately your own and in order to live it to the fullest, you have to live the life you want.

12.  Belief systems work. Having faith in something is more than just a god-given right. It plants the seeds of hope in someone. If you don’t understand the importance of hope, and are unwilling to try, then let it be. Never stomp on someone else's hope. It may be all they have.

13.  Make a list of things in your life that cannot be replaced. I guarantee you there won’t be many “things” on it at all. There will be people, maybe some special places, and memories, countless memories. The world today revolves around materials. Valuables are mistaken for anything with a price tag on it. When in reality, everything that is truly valuable in life is actually free. Devote your river of time to floating alongside the treasures in your life that cannot be replaced.

14.  Your family is more than just important. They are more than just your life’s backbone. They are the breath you return to when you’re in need of anything as simple as a hug, a laugh, a cry, or something as imperative as a reminder of whom you are, your roots. And this doesn’t just apply to the family who share the same blood as you, but to those your heart clings on to; the people who keep it beating. When I was 10, that beating was disrupted. It slowed to almost a complete stop when one of those people was taken away from me, or so I thought. When my heart finally began to pick up pace again, I realized he was never taken away, because I still loved him. He was still there, guiding me, from a place where he no longer felt any kind of sorrow or pain. Spirits are free; free of hate, free of suffering. But love is an element of freedom.  Love is what keeps us all bound together, even when we move on.

15.  Love, Love, Love. We are here to overflow this world with love. Never be afraid to love so deeply it hurts. Love to the point of no return. In the end it will always be worth it. Love the dancing trees in the summer; their stillness in the winter. Love the way a wave crashes onto the shore and gently flows over your toes. Love the way your children jump into bed with you at the crack of dawn, ready to play. Love the way his or her hand fits in yours, safe and secure. Bind your life in love. It’s the only kind of bind that can set you free.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Confessions of a College Graduate

So the time has finally come. Last month I was handed the desired piece of paper that says I can now be taken seriously. I’ll finally be a college graduate! After six long years of contemplation and uncertainty, along with spending semesters free of classes so I could gallivant around, liberating my mind and working at coffee shops, while completely ignoring the touchy topic called, “the future”.
Yes, this way of living put me a couple of years behind my peers and where society says I should be by this point in my life. I used to think this was because I am the most indecisive person I know. But now I know and found the courage to admit this wasn’t true. I may have changed my major 3 times and switched schools 4 (one of which was re-enrolling in the initial one I started in), however I can’t put the sole blame on me neglecting the ability to make up my own mind, not when I hold so much self-criticism inside of me. When a career path started to appear too rigid, too questionable or impractical, I lost faith in myself and quit. Have you ever reached a point in your progress where you can no longer see the end so you take ten giant steps backwards instead? I have and this is what I did when the future started to become fuzzy and people criticized me for my impractical choice of career path because it could never possibly get me a stable job.
I think my biggest post-graduate fear is that I’ll be spending the rest of my life working to pay off the loans I took out to go to school to get the job I need to pay my mortgage (rent most likely) and car bills, and gas to drive the car I need to get to the job I need to pay for the car and the house and the loans, and ultimately not having any time to enjoy life and love and travel or go on adventures. I’m afraid all this debt I’ve built up in order to get a piece of paper that says I’m officially qualified to live is what’s going to put me in a cage and I’ll never be truly free. But then I thought to myself, everybody does this. People do this all the time. So why wouldn’t I be able to?
What am I so afraid of? More so, why am I even afraid? Why do I do this to myself; degrading everything I’ve accomplished, all the hard work I’ve put into it just because I didn’t end up in the position I had planned to be in 6 years ago? Why do I feel like in a way, I failed? Probably because I’m human. I, like all of you, have grown up in a society where success is measured by how much money we have in our pockets, how big our houses are and what kind of car we own. If I don’t have these things, I’m programmed to feel like I failed.
Maybe I’m na├»ve but to me, success is serenity. It’s self-love. It’s knowing very well that you aren’t perfect, you never will be, and being completely content with that.  It’s admiring oneself and one’s achievements no matter how “little” you may think they are. It’s living our lives at our own pace, instead of comparing ourselves to others. Success is valuing life and the people in it far more over money and materials. It’s treasuring a smile on the face of someone you love, knowing it’s worth more than a lifetime’s salary. I didn’t learn that in college, but this is what I plan on building my success on.
              I can’t count how many people congratulated me, people I had never met before in my life. I knew then that this graduating from college thing was actually a big deal, a giant step in the right direction, the turning of the last page of this chapter of my life. I refuse to let fear take away my right to feel successful. I finished the chapter, had to re-read a lot of pages, but I finished it. Time to start a new one. The difference now is the pages are blank. I guess the only thing left to do is pick up a pen and write it myself.