Finding my joy again

Over the last few months I’ve noticed myself becoming more and more of an angry person. That’s definitely not someone I ever thought I would be, nor do I want to continue to be an angry person. I was raised to look at the positive side of things and to seek out the positive in the negative. I know the culprit of my anger, yet I’m currently stuck dealing with it for the time being. 

However, this period of anger has allowed me to reflect on what makes me happy and what brings joy to my life – fostering, volunteering, traveling, hanging out with my friends doing low key things, yoga, hiking, reading, coloring, quilting, crafting classes, Netflix marathoning, and blogging. So often we get stuck in the swirl of life that we forget to pause, reflect, and recenter our lives. Why don’t I do more of these things? I find myself having to choose, both consciously and unconsciously, between what I have to do that I forget to focus on the things I want to do. Working, sleep, and basic chores, while all necessary in life, take a substantial amount of time and energy! #spoonielife

Of course the missing piece to this equation is finding the positive in my situation and anger. I’ve tried. I really have! But month after month the situation is getting worse. I’m playing out Flowers for Algernon in real life. How can you go back to the way things use to be after how they’ve been? The simple answer is you can’t! I desperately wish there was a way to go back in time and do something over, but that’s not how life works; and that really sucks sometimes! So until the situation can be changed, I’ll need to focus more on the things that bring me joy because that’s the only way I’m going to be tolerable to myself and to those around me. 

If I had a Magic Wand

I found this website via Pinterest that talked about giving people a Magic Wand. People just decide the things they want done and the wand makes it happen. **If I was still in the education system I think this would be a cool writing prompt at the beginning and end of a geography or government class.

So I started thinking about what I would do with my magic wand. I don’t believe in just giving hand-outs to people who haven’t worked or earned it but I also know there are many people who truly need help. I also believe that many of the speeches given by world leaders and pageant girls is “solutions to the symptoms, not the problems” type of thinking, and I don’t necessarily agree with that. So here’s what I would do with my Magic Wand:

*I would want everyone to have a job that they loved and were good at – whether that be a doctor, a teacher, a cab driver, or whatever. If everyone has a job then they have income and could provide at least basic needs for them and their families.

*Since I believe the population is already over populated I would want my magic wand to “create” zero population growth. Not that families couldn’t have children, but that the many, many, many kids that are abandoned and in foster care could finally get adopted and feel love and the warmth of a family.

*I would also want everyone to be at least a vegetarian if not a vegan. The world now chops down more rainforest for grazing than agriculture. Meaning we are cutting down forests to make cows fat for our own consumption. That’s just one negative consequence of consuming meat – do a quick Google search for impacts of consuming meat and you’ll see dozens of consequences: animal abuse, excess water usage, starving children around the globe, increased chemicals and hormones in your body, large amounts of animal waste, runoff and land degradation to name a few others. Here’s NPR’s story on eating meat, you can skip the first 1 minute and 40 seconds and stop about 6 minutes and 38 seconds, which talks about other NPR stories.

*I would also re-do local, national, and international infrastructure to be more sustainable with more mass commuting types of transportation. I firmly believe if we had bullet trains running all over the nation that would cut on a lot of carbon emissions from the millions of vehicles on the road and that people would prefer to take a bullet train that lasts three to five hours to get from LA to New York instead of driving or flying, which are both tedious and expensive. If there were more light-rails, and subways, and Personal Rapid Transit, I think people would appreciate the convenience and the time savings from not sitting in two hours of traffic everyday.

*I would want companies to think about cradle-to-grave manufacturing and produce goods and products that could always be recycled and reused. This would also lead to less “stuff” being taken out of the ground, chopped down, or used once and thrown away.

*I would do away with all the bureaucratic BS that surrounds the school system (at least in the United States). I would want teachers to teach life skills while also teaching content but in a way that’s FUN and meaningful. I’m taking graduate classes and I can’t even stand when the professor lectures for 3 hours, why do we expect that of high school students?! There were so many ideas I wanted to do as a teacher but they didn’t follow the standards 100% or didn’t set the students up to be successful on the state standardized testing.

*Which leads me to my next action: do away with standardized testing, at least the way it currently stands in the United States – it’s demeaning and doesn’t show what students can actually do or what students actually think; it only separates the students who know how to take a test vs. the students who don’t know how to take a test. I saw this kid speak in Loveland this summer and was so impressed by him! His talk is called, “Would Einstein get into Harvard?” And it talks about how the ACT and SAT are ruining high school students, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m so against standardized testing that I took it until I graduated middle school and haven’t taken a state or national standardized test yet! I went to schools that didn’t require ACT or SAT for admittance or at least didn’t require it of me after I had a degree, and I went to a graduate school that doesn’t require a GRE to get in either.

*I would also ask the Magic Wand to implement a flat tax everywhere! People complain about lack of fairness when it comes to the government and taxes, but what’s more fair than everyone paying the same amount?! How is it anymore fair to over-tax Bill Gates than an immigrant who moves to the United States, becomes an entrepreneur and creates wealth for them and their family?! It’s not! If everyone pays the same across the board – that’s fair!

*I would want everyone to take a class or seminar or something that taught people how to properly communicate with one another, like how to fight fair, and how to disagree with someone’s point of view without degrading the person, and basic conversation skills. I meet so many people at my restaurant that have no idea how to talk to another human being.

*I would also want the death penalty for those who did heinous crimes, specifically anything to do with children or animals. The fact that if we did away with the prison system we could send every student in America (including illegal immigrants)  to school from kindergarten all the way through 4 years of college is disgusting! (This statistic comes from Waiting for Superman). That money could be better spent on education children and creating a better and bright world, not keeping scumbags alive.

As you can see, I didn’t ask for world peace or for everyone to get along because that’s not practical to me because there will always be conflicts and problems. I know in looking at my list, there is a few items that are pretty controversial and I feel like that’s acceptable. Not everyone would want the same things I want if they too had a Magic Wand. I could probably keep adding and adding to my list, but I feel like this is a good start at solving majority of the world’s current problems! What would you do with your Magic Wand?

 

Yoga on Coco Beach

Since I’ve been back in the States I can’t stop thinking about opening up a yoga studio on Coco Beach in Costa Rica. This goes right in line with the Pura Vida concept I’ve been working on. Granted there are some technicalities that need to be worked out, but the thought alone calms me.

Doing yoga on the beach, at 6am with the sun rising and the sounds of nature in the background; well could anything be more relaxing?! I don’t think so. I feel like tourists and locals alike would be on board with this business, because who couldn’t use a little more relaxation in their life? I feel like most people, myself included, get so bogged down in the hustle and bustle of life that we all forget to stop and smell the roses or listen to bird. In reflecting on my life, the most at ease I’ve ever been was when I was able to disconnect and spend some time in nature. Sounds cheesy but until you’ve done this it’s hard to understand.

Granted I’m not certified in yoga, nor do I have any business background, but it’s still a dream that can be attained. Many people have opened businesses with no experience and only passion, sometimes that’s more than enough. There’s a local yoga studio that does a 10 week, 200 hour certification program that costs as much as one graduate class. The cost might seem pretty pricey, but at the end of the program I would be a certified yoga instructor and could run my own classes at the studio that taught me. I like this practical application of knowledge and skills.

Even if I never make it back to Coco Beach, I still see many benefits of having my yoga certification. Especially since I’ve been going to yoga classes for a few years, I already have some basic knowledge. Yoga has many benefits including increased flexibility, strength, and balance, as well as improved posture, better sleep, and an overall sense of calmness and relaxation. This calmness is what I remember most about my yoga experiences and would be something I would like to pass on to tourists and locals in Coco Beach.

Pura Vida

2013-08-23 18.03.05Coming back from Costa Rica was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do. Poor me, I know! But living on the beach has a certain cache than going back to the hustle and bustle of “real life.” Going back to the mundane schedule where each day passes slowly but the year passes quickly feels like I’m not fulfilling each and every day. Or at least I thought I was fulfilling my days before my trip; I don’t really feel like that anymore. It’s amazing how one experience can change a perspective that much!

Pura Vida was a phrase that I frequently heard in Costa Rica. I’m going to attempt to explain what Pura Vida is, but the truth of the matter is, people will need to visit Costa Rica before they will truly understand Pura Vida. P.s. the America way to say this phrase is as is – with an R – the Spanish way to say this is where you roll the R so much it turns into a D – so phonetically it’s Puda Vida.

Pura Vida is a phrase, a greeting, a feeling, and a way of life. I guess the literal translation is Good Life, but I also took it to mean ‘chill out,’ ‘calm down,’ and ‘don’t worry or stress.’ Pura Vida was how people said ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ to one another, similar to ‘aloha’ for Hawaiians. People also lived with this stress-less outlook on their lives – people didn’t really seem to get bogged down with the little annoyances that happen in a day. It was a wonderful sensation to live by this concept because I literally took life in a more positive stride my whole trip there. This is something I want to continue now that I’m back in the States and I’m slowly trying to figure this out.

Pura Vida is also easier to live by when you’re living on the beach or in the rainforest, and not in a city. In San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital city, people still said Pura Vida to one another but it did not appear that people lived in the same Pura Vida style as those people on the beach. I’m sure it’s very easy to see why – in the city there’s deadlines, traffic, and stress, or at least that’s how I feel about major cities.

Until I can get back to Costa Rica I’m going to try to find my own Pura Vida. I’m going to attempt to blend my life with Pura Vida. We’ll see how this goes but the ultimate goal is still to achieve my aspirations while being less stressed and enjoying the process more.

Pura Vida!

Time flies…

It is amazing how one day you’re in DC and the next day it is a year and half later and I’ve been accepted to the University of Denver and starting my Master’s Degree. I feel like the day to day passes in the blink of an eye, and without a second look back so does the entire year.

I think I finally, truly understand the concept of creating goals and laying out a game plan to help accomplish those goals, because without doing so, it is so easy to get behind and thus never accomplish your goals in a timely manner. As an adolescent, goals were those annoying things you had to write out in seminar class, now it’s something I do on a daily basis, to make sure I get papers done in time.

So here’s to another school, another program, another year and hopefully a successful goal-planning adventure called my master’s program and my eventual career.

I don’t want to be an adult yet

So it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted anything. Life gets in the way doesn’t it?! With the National Geographic Internship coming to an end, life has been crazy!

Back to the post. In writing this post, “adult” refers to anyone who has responsibilities, whether that be financial or otherwise. With that in mind, I’m definitely not ready to be an adult yet. I enjoy being able to come and go when I please and not having to worry about rent, utilities, food, car, insurance, school, homework, getting good grades, cell phone, insurance, commuting, loans, and so on and so forth. It’s no wonder people are stressed out all the time, there is so much to worry about.

At this point, I know the internship with National Geographic is almost over, and so I’m ready to just get home already. I’m ready to get back to my bed, my room, and my stuff. Materialistic? Probably. But there is something to be said about the comfort of walking into a house and feeling “right” about it. Renting an apartment in a questionable neighborhood, not so comforting. Being away from your family and friends, that’s not so good either. Not that I didn’t enjoy this experience, because I really did! I really enjoyed working at National Geographic, the stuff I do here is amazing, and my name is now on the website (check out the “Credits” tab)!! It’s also been awesome to go and explore DC and the surrounding area.

I think as Americans we are severely lacking in quite a few areas, but I think people need to live at home longer before moving out. Or never move out! It’s popular among Asian cultures for grandparents to live with their children and grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren. I think that is so beautiful, and something we do not do enough of in America. I know many people who when they turned 18 were kicked out of the house and told to make it on their own. I will say though, that there is a great sense of accomplishment with being out on your own; it’s very freeing.

However, I come back to that “adult” thing again. It’s expensive to be out on your own and there’s so much to think about, all at once nonetheless! And because I wasn’t thinking about everything all at once, I’m out $500! That’s $500 I could have spent to travel the world, to donate and make a difference, to buy Christmas presents and so on. $500 is a lot of money, especially considering how much our country is struggling right now, not to mention the devastation happening around the world.

So, to that end, I’m ready to go home and live at home awhile longer. And to end on a positive note, I definitely appreciate my parents a lot more! Thanks mom and dad for allowing me to mooch off you for just awhile longer ūüėČ

I am thankful for clean sheets

Thanksgiving brings memories of good food (probably too much food), football, The Macy’s Parade, Black Friday shopping, and lots of family, good fun, and laughs. OR in my case having a Stargate marathon for 4 days in a row.

But there is something to be said for the simple things in life – like spending time with your family. Being away from your¬†family makes you really appreciate them and miss them. It’s been a challenge to be away from my family for as long as I have been and not to be home for Thanksgiving has been especially¬†hard¬†on me. Being sick kind of distracts from missing them so much – but only a little bit because I know if I was back at home I would be babied. Thanksgiving in recent years has been a time when my sisters, dad, and I spend hours playing the Wii and eating way too much food – including puppy chow.

So this Thanksgiving I am truly thankful for my crazy, fun, ridiculous family because I really¬†miss them. It’s very easy to take your family for granted (especially when you live with them) but spending almost constant time with them has been¬†time¬†I definitely miss. On the bittersweet side, the internship is almost over and I’ll be home for Christmas.

Other small things I’m thankful for:

-Alex, who puts up with my ridiculous antics – and they are plentiful

-having a puppy who makes me laugh

-the fact that it was 7o degrees outside today and Alex and I got to go on a long walk and enjoy the nice weather

-my few, but close friends

-having a fully stocked fridge and being able to enjoy a giant bowl of ice cream

-living in a country that allows people to have free speech, which allows me to be able to write and post this blog

-having two jobs while some people do not even have one job

-having the opportunity to learn valuable skills and build my resume by working at National Geographic

-and of course, clean sheets! Who doesn’t love clean sheets?!