Life Lessons

Dear Beautiful Girl

This is your warning…

Watch your thoughts – they become words.
Watch your words – they become actions.
Watch your actions – they become habits.
Watch your habits – they become your character.
Watch your character – they become your destiny.

Recently, I came across this thought provoking poem, and I not only wanted to share it with my friends but I wanted to start a series of blogs on the workings of my own body and mind. So, here is a precursor of what is to come….

No matter the differences, there are always unifying commonalities among all of us. When you are sad, don’t you cry? Or, when you feel lonely, don’t you usually yearn for companionship?

The foundation of life is all the same; the only difference is someone’s purpose. We are constantly striving for a sense of meaning or a sense of balance. Isn’t it ironic that life is created in extremes of opposites – love vs hate, happiness vs sadness, success vs failure, etc.

From my experience, I have discovered that there are three types of people (1.) the extremist – the ones that are constantly on one side of the spectrum. These people are constantly fighting the “in between” (2.) the middle-ist – the people that are just content with falling in between the situations of life. These people are the ones that I have always envied. How is it possible that someone can be content between “success” and “failure”? If I can mimic this behavior, I would definitely not have ulcers, that’s for sure. And, finally there are those that create their own niche of behavior. Basically, I created this group as a default category.

So, what type of person are you? Are you an extremist or middle-ist? Can you define your purpose for life? For success, or even love? As perplexing as life is, I want to think out loud and explore the phases of my own life starting with my first entry the next few weeks on the first sentence of the poem – “Watch your thoughts – they become your words.”


Now or Never

How do you know if where you are now is where you will be tomorrow? You don’t. Whether it is on a professional or personal level, you don’t know what will happen in the future. What you do know is the decisions that you made in the past and the way you live your life today will determine how happy you are and how content you are in the moment.

The Past
Everyone makes mistakes. The only difference between those that still succeed and those that don’t is the way people react to their past. Successful Susie learns from her past, vows not to make the same mistake twice, and focuses on the now. On the contrary, Failing Freddy dwells on the things he can’t control like his past mistakes and wonders why his career and/or relationship is at a stand-still.

The time you spend dwelling on your past is time you won’t ever be getting back. You can’t change the past. So, why are you wasting your time thinking about what you know has already happened? You made a mistake – cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it. It was a learning moment, but you still have the “now” to redeem yourself and your professional worth. Mastering this technique is easier said than done, but it is possible. You become successful when you accept the imperfections of yourself and the people around you. And, you will be genuinely happy when you accept the complexity of life and cease the moment of now.

The Future
Similarly, emerging professionals have a tendency of spending the majority of their time thinking about the future. Not that there is anything wrong with planning ahead or envisioning future success, but there is a fine line between setting a goal and driving yourself crazy thinking about “what if” scenarios. What if I don’t get a raise? What if this relationship doesn’t work out? What if I’m not good enough? What if I make a mistake? What if…? What if…? What if…?

By allowing yourself to focus on the now, you avoid the snowball effect of this kind of endless questioning. If you transferred all that effort toward the things you can control now, you would be maximizing your time and energy toward something that will reap immediate results. There are some things you can’t control; the future is one of them. The faster your accept this fact, the faster you will see movement in your career.


How I loved in 2011…

With every year that goes by I learn how to love in a different way. The people that have come and gone and those that I will meet in the New Year allow me to explore my capacity to love others in more ways than one.

To be continued…


Save the best for last….

I never really noticed this before, but as I was sharing dessert with a newly acquainted friend a few weeks ago, I noticed that we both stopped eating it at the very last bite of our triple berry pie. We both insisted on the other to indulge in the last piece, but it just sat there waiting for the waitress to take it away. At the time, I didn’t see the significance of this but the more I thought about it the more I realized that this wasn’t the first time that I witnessed the last bite go to waste. It wasn’t as if I desperately wanted it, but it just sat there waiting for someone to enjoy it. I’m sure my friend felt the same way. So, why is it that when we are offered the last piece, we usually turn it away?

I knew I was having a deep-sentimental-blog moment, but I just couldn’t figure out what it was. I mean after all, it was just dessert. As I shared my thoughts with a friend, ironically sharing dessert, he made an interesting point – perhaps we approach the last piece of dessert the way we approach life. No matter how big or small, our automatic response is to refuse it. We have been so culturally accustomed to being applauded for “giving” that we find ourselves giving too much to the point that the enjoyment is lost for everyone. If it isn’t you, then it should be someone else that takes advantage of what is in front of them. Who cares what other people think – it is you that has to live the consequences. You can take the risk now and dwell on any regret later. It is the “now” that we should be living. Later should not be an option.

Maybe that was my epiphany that rainy night. I need to start living in the now, and stop letting opportunities in front of me pass me by. I should really enjoy every last piece, or better yet I shouldn’t take a no for an answer and encourage the other person to enjoy it all the way through. I mean, someone has to succeed through a promotion, take the gamble on true love, and see every life opportunity through the very end. Why not let it be you? This is what distinguishes ordinary from extraordinary. So go on, take the last bite because if you don’t… from now on, I will.


Control.

For the first time in my life, I feel I’m in control. This epiphany of mine could be naivete from my mid-twenties, or it really is a turning point in my young adulthood. Either way, I like it.

I’ve spent my entire life going through the motions – church, family, school, friends, and work. I’ve accepted ultimatums and embraced obligations. And, very rarely did I ever make decisions based on what I wanted or felt that I needed. People use to call it selflessness. I call it being out of control. Up until now, I’ve been surrounded by people that I couldn’t get away from. From high school to college, then from graduate school to internships, I had no control over who I was going to spend my time with or what I’d be doing. The only thing I knew for certain was that I needed to please others, and so the vicious cycle began…

Effortlessly, I would spend my days following the footsteps of others and never asking questions. I developed the mentality of a true military brat – “It is what it is.” But here I am today feeling in control. I can finally say that the time that I invest in now are the things that I know will soon be rewarded by the satisfaction of my own choice. So the truth of the matter is, this foreign feeling of control is not only invigorating but extremely addicting.

Control is the theme of my life right now. I pick and choose what I do, when I do it, and the way I want to do it. I’m sure this feeling doesn’t last forever. Nothing ever does, but until then this is my life, and I plan to do exactly what life intended me to do – live.


Give it time…

Mending a broken heart? Give it time. Mourning the lost of a love one? Give it time. Just got laid off? Give it time.

Time is the cure-all remedy for life. Time is reliable; it is unchanging, and when you think life is spinning out of control it is the one thing that you can count on to anchor you back to reality. Even when you want time to speed up or slow down, time is constant. It is kind of like your voice of reason – it knows what is best for you. Whether it be resolute, unwavering trust or just something constant in your life when everything else around you seems to be changing. Time is, without fail something that will keep you grounded and after a few days, weeks, months, or years you become wiser, healthier, and more appreciative of life challenges.

So recently, I’ve been complaining to the people around me that there just isn’t enough time in one day. In 24-hours, I want to dedicate 12 hours to sleep, 2 hours to commute, 10 hours to work, 5 hours to personal time, 3 hours to social time, and 4 hours to my family, including Baxter (my puppy). That is 36 hours – I am 12 hours short of accomplishing what I would call an “Ideal Yuri Day.” So, what is my compromise? 7 hours of sleep, 2 hours in commute, 10 hours of work, 3 hours of personal time, barely no social time, and 2 hours left for the family. Of course this a rough estimate, but you get the point…

After a few days of pondering my issue with time, I’ve come to a few conclusions. First, time is not the enemy. It is a constant 24-hours that forces you to move on with your life, get the rest that you need, and prioritize according to what is important. Second, time will never change. So, you shouldn’t expect time to accommodate to you. You should accommodate to it. Again, it reminds you that certain aspects of life is worth the wait and requires the extra attention, whether it be your sleep, your family, or your friends. The third conclusion I will credit to a good friend of mine (CP), if you find yourself too busy for your friends and your family, then you are simply too busy. The final point is pretty self explanatory; you can take it literally, or you can replace the “friends and family” with something that has suffered from neglect. Finally, time is a gift. It is a gift that can be given to a friend that needs time to grieve, to grow, and to prosper in his/her endeavors. It is the gift you can give yourself to enjoy the little things in life – spa treatments, retail therapy, or even just sleep. So, the next time you complain that 24-hours just isn’t long enough… think about all the things you’ve already accomplished and all the things that you can accomplish in the next 24-hours. At least, I know I will.


Road Rage.

Everyday on my commute to and from work, I am reminded of how irrational and selfish people can be when it comes to achieving their own goal and/or objective. Every morning it is the same thing. People honk, flip the bird, and cut people off. Never once have I been able to drive on I-5 without seeing some driver do something idiotic or just plain rude. I’ve justified some of their behavior, but recently I’ve started to run out of reasons for people to be mean. After all, aren’t we all trying to achieve the same thing? We just want to get from Point A to Point B without having an accident. As simple as that is, people just don’t seem to get it.

People are so caught up doing their own thing that they don’t realize that in order to get to where they want to go it is imperative that they let others get to their destination as well. Everyday I drive to work drinking my tall, non-fat, white chocolate mocha, no whip while listening to my Adele CD. And, everyday my goal is the same. I want to merge without someone honking, cruise without someone tailgating, and let the car next to me merge into my lane. As selfless as that may seem, I wasn’t always like this. In fact, it wasn’t until this year that I finally came to the realization that my commute just seems much more pleasant when I am acknowledged for my effort to make the commute much more enjoyable for everyone. It isn’t like I get to work any later. Like I said before, we all have a common goal. We all want to get to places and the truth of the matter is, we will all get there. So, there is no need to be impatient. With time and diligence we will all get to our final destination; it is a matter of how enjoyable you let the ride be. Who cares if someone wants to merge in front of you? Let em. It doesn’t change the fact that you know where you are going. So, the next time you want to road rage – just remember in the broad scheme of things – it doesn’t matter. Your commute is similar to life – you’ll find yourself in traffic at times, but if you stay focused and calm, you’ll eventually end up to you want to be.


Confidence is sexy.

If there is one thing that gets me all hot and bothered, it is a confident person. Whether it be for a brief moment or for a lifetime, confident people just make a lasting impression. Confidence will get you the boy that you’ve been wanting to date, the job you’ve been dreaming of, and the respect that you’ve wanted all your life. It is essentially the quality that everyone notices but not everyone possesses. It is definitely difficult to define, but once you’ve got it figured out it can take you places. But, the question is where do you want to end up?

I don’t think there is an answer. It is like asking people how they lost weight. There are so many diets out there and what works for one person might not work for you. Usually what ends up happening is you try it anyway hoping you get the same results, but instead you try to force yourself into someone else’s submission and you end up gaining twice the weight. Confidence is abstract. It is what you want it to be. For instance, what you define as confident, I might consider it arrogance. And, what impresses one person might turn off another.

I’ve always believed that confidence is about being comfortable where you are now and not worrying about where you’ll end up. I have yet to reap the rewards of this, but I’ve always been a believer that confidence doesn’t “get” you anywhere – fate does. Confidence just lets you enjoy the process of arriving to your destiny. From the highs and lows, being confident that you are where you are supposed to be is the key to unlocking the mystery of confident people. Thomas Paine said it perfectly when he said, “I love a man that can smile in trouble, gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but he whose heart is firm and his conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

Confident people don’t seek to be confident because in their minds, it isn’t about defining confidence. It is about being who you want to be. No more or less, just being you. And once you have that figured out, somewhere along your journey in life you develop a sense of awareness of what you are capable of and what you aren’t and being completely content with the fact. It’s about believing in the people around you even when the same people have doubted you. It is about facing adversity, conquering it, and moving forth for more challenges. It’s about lending a hand to the same people that you fear will surpass your success. It is about advancing at your own pace, on your own time, in your own style. It isn’t about comparing achievements and ridiculing other people’s accomplishments. That is what insecure, ugly people do. Confident people are beautiful, pure, and real. They don’t compete. They overcome. Confident people are sexy. They are people that you meet for a moment but you remember for a lifetime. Confident people are contagious and everyone wants to be infected. So let’s start infecting our neighbors, our lovers, and our friends. Let’s let it consume our lives and our pride.

And, going back to my analogy, there are a million types of diets but there is one thing that works in favor for everyone. Exercise. It enhances the lifestyle of everyone, and so does seeking confidence in a mind-over-matter approach. You shouldn’t look for it because you’ve already got it. You just need to start allowing yourself to make mistakes, get rejected, and stop thinking twice and start running the marathon of life, love, and happiness…


Currently Reading….


Taking Chances…

The choices you make in life are like gambling your time, money, and energy in hopes of winning the ultimate jackpot. It took me two weeks to come up with that. Not the best topic sentence in the world, but I really wanted to blog about my first gambling experience, especially since it was out of my character. I walked in the casino feeling skeptical and walked out feeling much more daring and alive. I can see why people get addicted to gambling, or become an adrenaline junkie. It is invigorating and when you have enough self control to walk out on top – you feel invincible.

When you risk something without knowing if you’ll win or lose, you are taking a chance. Whether that chance is with love, a job, a promotion, or a new friend. For as long as I can remember, I categorized people into two groups when it came to gambling. The first type of people were those that simply watched people gamble, and never bet a single hand in fear of losing a buck or two. Or, a second group of people that only max bet because they believe in the gambling theory of “you have to bet big to win big.” But after my first experience winning some, losing some, and taking a chance at the jackpot, I now wonder if there is a third group of people. Those that are able to weigh the pros and cons and only bet what they are given. No more or less. No expectations of losing or winning – just simply, doing. I wouldn’t call myself a “go-with-the-flow” type of person, but that night I remember I just went with it. I found a machine and I took a chance. I didn’t dwell on losing; I just kept playing.

Its funny how much gambling resembles life. You bet and invest in opportunities never knowing the outcome, but you do it anyway in hopes of ending up on the winning side. Sometimes you win other times you lose, but either way you just keep living. Nothing in life lasts forever – not even jackpots. I learned a valuable lesson that night. Life is about taking chances. Your next job interview is Blackjack. Your next relationship is a slot machine. And, your next promotion is a game of poker. You won’t know if you’ll win or lose until you play. So, set your limit, cross your fingers, and keep playing the game of life… you might just win a jackpot!


From Past to Present – Planner Countdown to 2011!

I started using a planner when I was 14 years old and without fail, I have bought one every year ever since. I love the feeling of accomplishment as I flip through the pages of a used planner. And, lucky for me I have kept all my planners. So, in the spirit of another new year I wanted to share random things I have come across in my planners from past years starting with 2001…

2001-2002
“If God brings you to it… he’ll bring you through it…”
June 4 – FBLA Officers meeting @2:15pm; Drivers Ed @6-8pm
June 18 – Speeches on Channel One; Basketball Practice 3-5pm; Vote
“Student Leadership Application” and “Chair-Person for Candy Grams Organize”

2003-2004
Aug 20 – Call Wal-Mart for car wash; Zoo! @12pm w/ Sungjin; Church@6:30pm; Movies w/ Angel #1
August 30 – Early bird Prayer Meeting @6am; Pay for ASB,Yearbook, and Register Duncan (my car!); Volleyball practice @1:30-3:30pm; School shopping @4:30pm; Cheer Meeting @11am; Jinna’s Birthday in Seattle @6pm
Sept 26 – Church @9:30am; No work; Work on college apps/Scholarship; Do portfolio; Puyallup Fair w/ Coffee Bean, Christina, and Fisher; Study for the ACT

2004-2005
March 4 – Gym w/Alishia @9am;FBLA Meeting @2:30; Meet w/ Christina @4pm; Church@6:30; Do Cookie prep @3rd period
April 23 – Register for WSU or UW; Workout @7am; Renew passport; Lunch date @11am; WHS sale @10am-6pm
May 16 – Assembly – Spring Sports; Write my grad speech; Go shopping for Oppa’s birthday; Broadcasting @6pm
Aug 13 – Move into Dorm 10am-5pm

2005-2006
Aug 26 – Sociology 101 @9:10; LUNCH BREAK; English 101 @1:10; Psychology 105 @2:10pm;Math 210 @310; Study!; Homework!; Take online quiz Gen Ed 111; “I want to go home….”
Sept 20 – Meet Mysty@9:45am in Murrow 225; AWC Bake Sale @10-11am The CUB; Look over math notes (lunch break); Class@1:25-2:40pm; AWC Meeting @5:30 Murrow 307; Study Psych 105; Look over Math; Math Exam #1 @7-9pm Todd 130;Pay AWC Due $15.00; Do CA application; Buy blue book
Jan 26 – Work@10-12pm; stop by Professor Streets Office Wil 315; Com 101 @2:40-3:35; Lab report due; CRU @7pm
April 21 – Meetin Com Counselor @9:30; Theat @10; Gen Ed 110 @11: FSHN@12; Register @1 with Mallory (SIFE); Jared,MIA [CADD]; Work @6-9pm; MexicanNight @9-12pmMcKrosky Hall; E-mail Professor Lee; Yuri Keep Checking COM 245; Gymwith Mallory 9:30

2006-2007
Sept 13 – ES/RP 101@9:10; Break: turn in application; BDCST 150 @11:10; Break; Anth 101@1:10;ES/RP Lab @2:10-5:10pm TROY 116; Study Session ES/RP @5-6 Troy 212; Study for COM 245 Exam; Study ES/RP/Read English 204 (Act2)
Jan 12: GEO 101@10; MGTOP101@11; BLAW210@12;Do GEO study questions (ch.1) Read text; Read COM 295(ch2-5); Do Econ 101 problems; Redo BLAW brief; Apply for scholarship AERqur.org; Do laundry; read

2007-2008
Sept 27-“get polo, ask about shift (keeley), try to get next week shift covered, check payroll hours”; BDCST 350 @9-10:25; Break:pick up polo from office of admission 370; BIO 201@12; BDCST 355@1:30-4:30; APAW Meeting@5pm; Work Out; Alarm; WST:response, read study; BDCST
March 28- KUGR Beat – Pullman Fire/Police; SOC 362@10:35; Break:turn in mini disk player; BDCST481@1:20 Case Study Due; COM 321 @2:50; Read SOC article CADD paperwork; Work training@5-8 CUE 419

2008-2009
Sept 9-Study GRE;Soc 390@10:35-11:50;SOC 367@12-1:15; Break: Ambassador Office Hour @1:45pm-3:45pm; BDCST 475 @4-7pm; Check out equipment @7-9pm; E-mail Special Projects team; Cable 8 training; workout; read SOC 367 (outline); Change calendar; pack the journal
Feb 18- Career Expo 9-3pm Beasley w/ Jerry; Anth 468@11; Eng 402@1pm Problem Memo Due; Work @2;30-5pm; Visit Kanale/Meg/Liam@6:15pm; Extra Credit Anth @7pm CUE 220; Write Summary

2009-2010
March12-“pay day”; Group meeting @8:30am; Org Behavior @9:30am; Work @2; Cul/Comm; Mazda Oil Change @5:45pm; study
May 22-“Research Practicum Seminar 9am-5pm (last)”
Aug 2-Car pick up; take family to ORD @8am; make shuttle reservation; Guppy Interview @1pm; UPS box pick; ship out goods; check out; Hotel reservation @3pm

2011-2012
New Years Resolution: To start a Personal Finance Budget for 2011 and to be a “better friend”


Fighting in Heels

Growing up, I was usually a quiet kid. Parents liked me. My peers were drawn to me. And, my teachers adored me. But, when someone would tease my friends or my brother I got really feisty and would defend them like it was my own life. My favorite “comeback” as a child was “I’m rubber; you’re glue.Whatever you say will bounce off me and stick to you.” My classmates hated it and it drove older kids crazy.

Now that I am a young adult, I still find myself defending others but now my favorite “comeback” has evolved to “I know I’m not perfect, but are you?” I’m not as confrontational as I use to be but I still find myself in childish ultimatums and quarrels with my adult friends. I suppose the inflicted pain of betrayal or slander still hurt the same even as we get older. It just takes a little longer to get over them now then it did as a child. When we were 5, it took ten minutes or less to forgive, forget, and start playing again and now it takes 10 days, weeks, years, or maybe never to forget a single one-time mistake or regret. We are all guilty of it, and I don’t have a solution to change it. All I know is that it exists and I despise it.

I’m not proud of this and I DON’T recommend this, but I deal with people issues by doing one of three things (1) avoiding, (2) ignoring, and/or (3) replacing. Why? Because, it is an easy way out. Why else? But honestly, I try every time to deal with the issues directly with my nemesis, but I think my natural response to conflict kicks in before I can. My instincts tell me that time is the only thing that will heal my pain and as the days, weeks, or months pass by I realize how pathetic and cowardly that excuse is, but by then it is too late. And, most of the time I end up replacing my fight, argument, or disagreement with something that ends up consuming me from the inside out anyway. Most of the time it is regret, guilt, or something in between, you would think that I would appreciate the alternative, but I’m stubborn and rarely like change.

However, recently I have realized that people come and go for a reason. People make mistakes and sometimes you aren’t able to repair the damages that have been made. But, what you can do is learn from it. You can do better to your next friend, or your next relationship. You see, I’ve learned that sometimes when confrontation arises between two people you both receive a gift, a gift of choice. You can choose to work things through, to forgive and forget, or to forgive and let go. There isn’t a right answer and the answer is circumstantial. But, it is a choice that should be made. Don’t be like me and just ignore, avoid, or replace the inevitable because then you are turning down a gift of choice. You end up giving away your obligation to choose the details in your life. Who comes in, goes out, and stays constant. You essentially lose control of your life and that will only drive you crazy or make you more depressed. I suppose with new year just around the corner, and I could use my own advice. I could use some controlling in my life. I mean out of all the things that were out of my control in 2010, at least I can control the people I confront, forgive, rebuke, or forget. The thought is exhilarating, so I can only imagine how it will feel when I put my thought into action. I’ll keep you posted on how it works for me… hopefully it’ll translate into my professional ambition as well. *Fingers crossed*


Who do you run to?

Song Inspired: “I Run to You”
Artist: Lady Antebellum

“I run my life, or is it running me? Run from my past; I run too fast, or too slow it seems…”

My favorite part of yoga and Zumba classes are the cool downs at the end of each session. I not only feel accomplished for exercising my body and mind but because I get a chance to reflect on things that are on my mind with a new energy and perspective.

A few weeks ago, my Zumba instructor played Lady Antebellum – “I Run to You” while we were cooling down, and as the sentimental person that I am, I started thinking about this and that. I’ve been meaning to share some of my revelations, but life got the best of me once again… Nonetheless, here I am with the same thoughts still intact. Lately, I’ve been thinking about what life would be like without the people that “I run to”. I know it sounds a bit morbid, but you’d be liar if you said you never had this pondering thought at one point in your life.

I started thinking about the lyrics of the song and it got me thinking about who “you” represents in my life. Is the “you” your best friend? Your mom? Or, your significant other? And whoever it may be, what happens if they aren’t there anymore? Is there a plan b? Or does that mean that once that one person is gone then you no longer run to anyone?

I suppose this is why people become spiritual or religious. It is a comforting thought to know that the person that they run to will always be there. Or, perhaps this is why people have trust issues. They refuse to rely on anyone except for themselves. These are decisions that we make subconsciously and sometimes it is by fate that we meet the person we run to. And believe it or not, sometimes when life is in the middle of a disaster and you just start running toward no one in particular, you sometimes end up running into the person that becomes your life line. But the question still remains, what happens when that person is no longer there?

I can’t speak for everyone. I can only speak for myself, but I’d keep running, not running away, but just keep running. I’d keep running into the arms of those that love me. I’d run toward the things that scare me. I’d just keep running until I couldn’t run anymore. This, of course, is easier said than done. But, believe me I’ve known some extraordinary people that have shown me that it is possible. The other day, my yoga instructor kept saying “See, what you are capable of…” or “You’d be surprised at what your body will enable you to do…” after she forced us into ridiculous and impossible positions with our body. It is the same, you’d be surprised at you are capable of doing when you just keep running. Run to your enemies, run toward your dream, run to your friends, run into strangers, run toward your family, just keep running…. because “We run on fumes.” – life is short – God is good – There isn’t anything to run away from, just our life to run.


The day I was born… I was part of a divine purpose.

December 7th marks the twenty-forth year of my existence. I’ve been told since I was young that you are born for a purpose. I mean, beyond the religious reason. I’m talking about your calling during your life in the secular world. However, the irony is that they never tell you what that purpose is and you never really question it. You simply just agree with it. Then, as you get older you begin to wonder what they meant by your purpose in life. Some adults find it early; they become surgeons, religious leaders, educators, or entertainers. Others just go through the motion of life and hope that they stumble upon their calling. But, what if “not knowing” is part of the divine purpose? What if discovering pieces of your puzzle of life is all a ploy for you to discover your purpose and genuinely appreciate it?

I realize that 24 years is still very young; my mom and I call it my diamond years. But, I don’t think its a coincidence that people make more mistakes being YOUNG than they do as they get older. In 24 years, I think the life experiences are the same but the details are different. We experience love, work, school, hurt, regret, friendship, betrayal, trials and tribulations, happiness, etc. But as you get older you begin to view your experiences as opportunities. You begin to create your own paths and I think that’s when you begin to unravel your personal gift of life. Otherwise, you’re just indulging on the SWAG – Stuff We All Get (thanks CG).

More recently, I’ve been struggling with patience. I’ve been wanting things in an instant, and I’ve neglected to enjoy my divine purpose of life, which is to live, enjoy the journey, and unravel my personal gift of life when the time is right. I’ve been so consumed with things that weren’t going my way and began to doubt my own purpose. And as people were wishing me “happy birthday” on Facebook, in person, on the phone, and through text messages, I got exactly what the doctor of life ordered – a quick slap in the face. This is my purpose – “to live and let live” (thanks Ghandi). So, to all the people that wished me happy birthday on my facebook wall, status, private messages, those people that texted me, called me, or spent the day with me – Thank you for the best birthday gift of all – a reality check and a purpose to live in suspense again! For those that didn’t care – that’s okay – get off my blog, go eat a Big Mac, and you too should live and let live…


Is there such a thing as “Starting Over” 


I’ve pondered that question for a very long time, especially now because it seems so much more appealing in my current situation. I always play the “what if” game about my life, especially my past. What if I decided to go to University of Washington instead of Washington State University? What if I decided to major in business instead of communication? What if I went to University of Oregon for my master’s instead of Northwestern? What if I decided to stay in Chicago instead of coming back to Washington? The “what if” questions are endless, and sometimes it becomes my little guilty pleasure during the day. What if I was Bella from Twilight? What if I was 16 again and I met Justin Bieber at Toys-R-Us? (haha) The point is, I’ve played the “what if” game all my life, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not really contemplating between two choices I’ve made in my past. Instead, I’m asking the same question – can I start over? If so, how?

You see, when people start digging up dirt from their past or our present life isn’t going exactly the way we planned we start wondering what life would be if we took the “road less traveled by” (thanks R.Frost) and eventually the thought of “starting over”, or essentially starting a new life becomes extremely fascinating. So, people have attempted to create their own time machine in an attempt to “start over”. I’ve known people, including myself to do outrageous things to start over. Rip up old pictures, burn old diaries, delete phone numbers, create new Facebook accounts, or move away from your hometown. Whatever it is the outcome is the same – you can run but no matter how fast, you can’t run away from yourself.

Given my experience, I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try to forget my past-self it always finds it’s way back to me – mostly through Facebook but sometimes through music, pictures, letters, or all of the above. What is the point in running away? It doesn’t change the fact that your name is still the same. The idea of “starting over” doesn’t exist, unless you are starting over with all your baggage – your past mistakes, regrets, old acquaintances, old friends, etc. You have to acknowledge your past to better understand your present life. It is like curing cancer – you have to discover the cause of the problem in order to cure the problem. You can’t just mask the pain and hope it goes away. If you embrace it all then you can honestly start anew. And, what about the people that like to judge, point fingers, and doubt your ability to move forth? Well, they’ll still be there. You can’t change people. You can only change yourself. No matter where you go, you’ll end up meeting the same type of people that you’ve desperately tried to run away from and the catch-22 is, you’ll still be who you are. You can’t run away from yourself. Think about it…. has it worked for you so far?


Happy Thanksgiving!

This year I am thankful for:
Religion My Faith. Because without it, there would be no purpose for life. No reason for trials and tribulations, heartaches, and successes. God – Thank you.
Family My Life Line. The people that have been there since my existence and continue to love me through my triumphs, failures, and my journey into new chapters of my life. Dad, Mom, & Brother – you are not just my “family” you are my life line because without you, there would be no me. Thank you.
Friends My Soulmates. I am thankful for the people that I was suppose to meet in my lifetime. The girls that were suppose to be my sisters. The guys that were suppose to be my brothers. And, the people that I was suppose to be challenged by in order to be the strong person I am today. Thank you.
Boyfriend My Lover. The one person that has made a true imprint in my heart. CMG – you have completed me as a person more in just two years than people have my whole life. Thank you.
The Past My Mistakes. The decisions that led to my regret, tears, heartache, and anxiety has made me a stronger, wiser, and less anxious person. And, given the opportunity, I would never change my mistakes – I would only make more. To my mistakes – thank you.
My Future. My Destiny. The time spent waiting for the next chapter of my life to begin has taught me patience. What I don’t know has made me quicker to ask for help and to be more thankful for the now. So, for the people I’m destined to meet, the accomplishments I am suppose to achieve, and the experiences that I am suppose to be a part of – Thank you.


Winter wonders….

Today’s Forecast: A few snow showers, a high of 33 degrees and winds coming in from the North at a speed of 10 mph. Don’t be surprised to witness chaos on the rode, Christmas music on the radio, and the desire to just snuggle up by the fireplace with a warm cup of tea watching reruns of your favorite shows…

With the first snow storm of the year, it really is starting to feel like the holidays. And, when I say the holidays, I include all the chaotic shoppers on Black Friday, the first time snow drivers, and the anxious people in the grocery store before Thanksgiving. No matter where you live, the holiday season is the same. The Starbucks cups are the same. The deals and sales are the same. And, the people are the same – tense and stressed, me included. Of course, I’m stressed for all different reasons but nonetheless stressed.

Today, I started thinking about my Christmas Shopping List and every year it is the same problem after the first three people – dad, mom, & brother. I never know who is going to be on my final Christmas list because my “friends” come and go so often. This got me wondering if this problem is part of the universal theme of the holidays or if it is just my unfortunate curse of quantity over quality. Growing up as a military brat, I have become accustomed to a changing circle of friends. So out of 767 Facebook friends, I have no idea who I would consider my real friends besides a handful. When you are a kid, you are quick to name your “best friend”, in high school its easy for you to replace your “best friend”, and as an adult you just don’t know who you can call your friend. I’m still contemplating whether that’s good or bad. Whatever it is, it is a fact of life. You’ll have friends in quantity throughout your life; its the friends of quality that is a rarity and that is why they should be treasured and rewarded; hence the importance of Christmas and Birthdays. They are the two times a year that guarantee you the opportunity to tangibly show your appreciation, and what is even better is that your true friends don’t expect anything at all because they value the friendship above anything else. They are the friends that you can always call when you are sad, the friends that help celebrate your triumphs, and the friends that understand that life is hectic and your schedule changes but the foundation of friendship never does. And, although I am most thankful for my friends, I can’t discredit my appreciation from the lessons I’ve learned from my fake and/or seasonal friends, especially since they are the ones that made me realize how important true friendship really is… it is a winter wonder how I’ve been blessed with a handful of amazing “friends” in my life.


Confessions of an addict…

Okay, I’ll admit it. I have a problem, and yes it is pretty serious. I have no intentions of getting help nor do I have any plans of stopping anytime soon. But, before you judge me, make sure your conscience is clear. It probably isn’t, so I’ll continue with my confession…

Everyone has a secret. Whether it is an addiction, obsession, or a weakness – everyone has one. You might not even realize you are hiding one until it is exposed or confronted. It doesn’t have to be anything life threatening or anything extreme. It can be something as simple as – a new crush, still stuck on an ex, a weakness for food, relationship obsessed, or an addiction to reality shows. Whatever it is – we all have at least one. I came across this interesting website a few years ago, and it got me thinking about some of my confessions. One thought led to another and I came to the conclusion that we secretly want “someone” to know our secrets, except we become selective on who that lucky someone will be. Some people settle with psychiatrists, others rely on their “best” friends, or some people start blogs for the entire world to see. Ironic isn’t it? Anyway, I think this is why this website got so popular… it started out as a social project and now it has become therapy to hundreds of people around the world. The Secret Postcards. – Check it out!

Confessions feel good because you secretly wanted to tell someone in the first place. You hide secrets and hope no one finds out but you jump on the first opportunity to tell someone when you are certain that you won’t be judged. I think in a lot of ways judgment is what nurtures our secrets to become unbearable. You keep your darkest secrets to yourself because you fear ridicule, rejection, and judgment. Perhaps that is why people turn to religion, journals, or hobbies to mask or tolerate their dire need to tell someone. Maybe we should stop judging our friends, family members, or co-workers. After all, you might have the same obsession, secret, or addiction, except the difference is you don’t have the confidence and self-assurance to confess it. Don’t judge because that’s what makes people run… and running makes me people tired and exhausted.

As for my confession, I’m a chocolate addict. I can’t keep chocolate around the house because it’ll be gone after breakfast. I don’t have self control when it comes to chocolate, so I run 30 minutes more just so I can enjoy some sort of chocolate treat, or basically fuel my chocolate addiction. Just last night I bought a bag of assorted Godiva Gems – they are already gone. I try to justify this behavior by reading health articles on why chocolate is good for you – it increases a hormone that mimics the feeling of falling love, dark chocolate is an antioxidant, etc. But the bottom line is – I rarely like to share it, moderation is not enough, my meals feel incomplete without chocolate dessert, and I feel content as long as I get my chocolate fix in a few times a week. But again, before you judge me, make sure your conscience is clear. What’s your secret?


(MSC 526)

While pursuing my master’s degree, I remember taking a course entitled “Managing Workplace Diversity & Inclusion” which is exactly what it sounds like – learning how and why the workplace diversity represents a significant managerial challenge and opportunities to emerging corporate professionals. It explored the current diversity issues, including gender, ethnicity, class, age cohorts, disability and personality, and identifies a range of inclusive strategies that can lead to productive teams. One of our assignments was to interview a person that was “different” than ourselves in our workplace. Luckily, I was working part-time as a Front Desk Manager at an upscale hair salon so “different” was the theme of my experience. I immediately wanted to interview one of the stylist that worked during my shifts. I wanted to share the interview in this particular blog for three reasons (1.) I wanted to blog about embracing your individuality, (2.) I wanted to share something that would make a lasting impression (at least it did for me), and (3.) This paper received an A, so I thought it was safe to share (just kidding). Anyway, I changed the name to save face but the rest is all true…

April 15, 2010
MSC 526 – Professor Galvin
Northwestern University

The Uncensored Life of a Hair Stylist

Most people consider a hair salon a luxury; a place where stylists are able to create art with color and hair. Customers walk in feeling mediocre and walk out feeling extraordinary. It is a place where people, primarily women are able to gossip, get away from their children, and pamper themselves for a day. However for one individual, a hair salon is more than an opulence. It has become his safe haven and refuge; a place where he is able to be free of social pressures, avoid stigmas and stereotypes, and truly be himself. Aaron, a 34-year-old hair stylist has been making people of various demographics feel unique and special for more than 10 years. Little does his clients know that they have allowed him to not only pursue his passion for beauty and fashion, but truly seek freedom from his own identity imprisonment. “Trio [the first salon he worked at] really saved my life,” says the ambitious, talented stylist. As our nostalgic conversation unravels, we begin to explore the journey of a young, single, anti-religious, homosexual immigrant from Poland. Aaron shares his trials and tribulations of being homosexual, the dreams of an aspiring hair stylist, and the failures and triumphs of finding his identity and acceptance in a world that is obstinate about what is right and wrong – this is the uncensored life of a hair stylist.

“As a kid I was always different than other boys,” Aaron begins the conversation. “I was not treated nice all the time. [So] I tried to avoid mean people and ignore the different treatment.” Growing up in a family and society that rejected homosexuality, Aaron felt obligated to “protect” his family from societal rejection and humiliation. Instead of trying to revolutionize acceptance, he decided to leave Poland, the country where he called home. It was the only option he could think of to fulfill his personal ambition of protecting his family. ” I came out to mom when I was in a five year relationship… I think I was 24. She took this very hard and she was blaming herself,” he says. “I [am] never going to get her side of the story [since] she passed away one year ago. She or we never talked about that issue [anyway].”

Beyond the tragic loss of his mother, Aaron’s father passed away a few years before. So, the only family he has is his sister. Unfortunately, she is described to be “close minded” and living in an “egocentric world”. Aaron sadly explains, “She does not really want to have anything to do with me, unless it involves money.” The deprivation of family support led Aaron to make choices, which he regrets today. He turned to drugs to replace the absence of his family members. “I was a drug addict and I was trying to find myself… or whatever you wanna call it,” confesses Aaron. It was not until Aaron hit rock bottom, literally that he decided to change his life. After barely surviving a suicidal attempt, he began his journey into the beauty and fashion industry.

“I picked this industry for a reason. I love beauty and fashion,” Aaron states. “I think I would be very unhappy as a construction guy or policeman, because I would feel very unsafe there.” The comparison of occupations is referring to the inability to safely and publicly announce homosexuality in certain professions. Accordingly, Aaron chose a profession that would accept and allow him to openly be homosexual. The staggering statistics of homosexual hair stylists, fashionistas, and make-up artists are in the high percentile, which is an obvious contrast to his life experiences of intolerance; this was a natural, easy transition to his professional career.

Like everyone else, Aaron faces daily challenges in the workplace. He struggles with personal judgments and prejudices with his co-workers and customers. However, it is his life experiences that bring him to appreciate the freedom and acceptance at work every day. “Judgments are a human being thing to do,” Aaron explains. “I do understand that very well…everyone does it. I just don’t care anymore. By worrying I developed addictions.” As Aaron got older, the constant worry of “looking good” began to subside. He triumphed over his drug addictions and began to find pleasure in making others feel unique and beautiful. The hair stylist began to accept his identity as a proud homosexual. “Judgments are a waste of energy,” says Aaron. “After my death, I don’t want my headstone to read ‘he was only living to look good’.”

It is this kind of attitude that has helped Aaron succeed in his lifetime. He has established friendships and built relationships with people that support his endeavors and ways of life. He continues to flourish in his career with optimism and appreciation for diversity. He ends the interview on a positive note. He says “The other day I was thinking ‘who am I as a person’ and the first thing that comes in mind is ‘I am my words’. At the end of my list is ‘gay man’. I feel more comfortable in my own skin now. The advantage of being grown up is that I can create and control who is in or out of my life. And, I think being different is so much cooler when you are an adult.”

In the midst of learning about the life of my co-worker and dear friend Aaron, I began to learn things about myself. Despite your sexual orientation, racial or ethnic background, religion, or economic status everyone has story. And the story is more similar than people give credit for. The intangible characteristics of people remain the same no matter the diverse background. People have felt sadness, anger, abandonment, and happiness since the day of creation. So perhaps, we are not as different as we think we are. We are all human. We are living on the same earth, breathing the same air. The main lesson I learned through this assignment is I am not that much different than Aaron. I may be heterosexual but Aaron and I are the same in that we both aspire to be successful, to be loved, and possesses an uncontrollable urge to help others feel all of the above. My only hope from this assignment is that the epidemic of differences will no longer tear people apart but bring people closer, to help one another, and to teach people to love each other more often. You might not be able to change the world overnight, but you can allow the uncensored story of a hair stylist to help alter your perception of differences in an instant. At least, I know it has for me.


Stages of Life.

Mood: Buzzed on Peppermint Mocha
MusicMood: Michael Buble – Crazy Love – #4, #5, #7, #11

Living in the Pacific Northwest, there is one thing that you have to learn to appreciate and that is rain – LOTS of RAIN. After settling into Washington state nine years ago, I’ve grown to absolutely love the rainy days, especially when I am at home in my college sweatshirt, pajama pants, with my silly socks cuddling up with myself in my leopard print Snuggie. It gets even better when you have a warm cup of Apple Cinnamon Tea watching reruns of reality shows like Keeping Up With the Kardashians, or heaven forbid, Jersey Shore and taking in the aroma of scented candles that you just bought from Bath and Body Works. But let’s be honest, you’d be labeled as depressed or a sentimental dreamer if that is all you enjoyed in the Evergreen State. You’ve got to love the fact that the sun doesn’t hide forever and it seems to come out at just the right moment when you feel yourself slowly drifting away from reality.

Today, I woke up with the sun forcing its way through cracks of the curtain. I had an hour drive ahead of me and decided to make the best of the time on the road. I stopped by Starbucks (of course) and got a tall peppermint mocha, popped in one of my favorite CD (Michael Buble – Crazy Love) and spent the hour drive trying to reminisce on some good times that I had during my teenage years. Ironically, four things came to my mind (1.) How much I LOVE my peppermint mocha, (2.) How much I love the sun, (3.) How much I didn’t miss my teenage years, and (4.) How I wanted to write about this moment of pure bliss on my blog! I suppose a lot has to do with the fact that my memories from college and grad school are much more recent, but also I think I’ve replaced a lot of my teenage memories with my experiences during my 20s…

In the broad scheme of life, I’ve come to the realization that your life as a teenager is still considered your “infant” years. The years you learn the basics of life – how to take baby steps, communicate with others, follow instructions, rely on guidance, and avoid dangerous and potentially hazardous things. Then as you grow into your “toddler” years you begin to reconstruct your world – you cut off the negatives in your life, immerse yourself in the positives, and you finally begin to explore the world. In your 20’s you finally appreciate your mistakes and shortcomings, you let go of your life long regrets, and quit dreaming and start living. This is the state of life that I love the most – you have your terrible two moments, you finally begin to see the world and people in a different light, and replace naivete with sophistication. And, as soon as you can’t image life getting any better you hit your 30s, your “teenage years”.

When I was living in Chicago, my co-worker (RM) told me how much more she appreciated her life, her body, and herself as she began to get older. Surpassing her 20s, she told me that if she was given the opportunity to go back to her early 20s – she would decline in a heartbeat. This is what I look forward to! My “true” teenage years – the time of your life, you stop worrying about frivolous things and start focusing on things that bring joy to your life. Stop worrying about your career path, since you are already on it. Stop worrying about your body because you’ve already accepted it. And, stop worrying about the people around you because you’ve already signed, stamped, and sealed your list of “lifelong” friends. But what happens in your 40s? I think those become your “adult” years – in most case (not all the time), it is no longer about you – it is about your children, your partner, your parents as they age, your in-laws, and your siblings’ family, etc. So, basically, I think the stages of growth are misconstrued. The stages of your life are about the experiences not about the age. Life is about living to learn not learning to live – so rain or shine, lets start living ladies! Oh and by the way, the forecast tomorrow is a high of 48degrees and showers all day. Haha, talk about weather bipolar 😉


Patience…

Baxter, my 4 month old Maltese graduated yesterday from puppy school! He was the smallest puppy there, but he did it! After 8 weeks of dedicated hard work he received his puppy diploma! It was one of the most rewarding days of my life, especially since I have spent endless hours teaching him tricks, potty training him, bathing him, feeding him, and making sure that he learns the “rules of the house.” And although watching him grow into his personality has been rewarding, it has been even more rewarding to have embraced the lessons that this 5lb 7oz creature has taught me.

Baxter, my precious puppy has, in many ways, taught me lessons that no amount of materialistic things could ever teach me. He has taught me the value of loving everyone – period. My puppy loves people. He barks for attention, he drizzles from excitement, and jumps up and down until he gets held. And, I think we could all learn a lot from this behavior. People are naturally selfish and become closed off to the people around them, but dogs aren’t like that. They love no matter what. Could you imagine what the world would be like if we were all Baxters? It would be absolute bliss.

My fluffy marshmallow also gives me daily reminders of the innocence that I’ve lost. My puppy is so easily satisfied by the little things. I watch him play with same toys everyday and witness his satisfaction with just the love that he receives from my family. I’ve forgotten about the significance of the little things in life. I think our lives are so consumed with routines and valued norms that we forget to be thankful for the things that we already have, the daily blessings that we receive, and the love and support from the people you see everyday. And finally, the most important lesson of all, Baxter has taught me patience.

I am not talking about just tolerating the inevitable wait, but simply waiting. The type of patience that is practiced when life gets tough and your days slow down. The type of patience that you genuinely make the best of the time spent waiting. The type of patience that enables you to enjoy your favorite radio station while stuck in traffic, or developing hobbies while you are eagerly waiting to find a job in this economic turmoil. You see, I genuinely enjoyed the days that I was woken up multiple times in the night by Baxter because he had to go tinkle, or cleaning up his “oopsies”repeatedly. And before I knew it, patience paid off. In the end he was more than potty trained. He became part of my family, he graduated from puppy school, and he has given me invaluable life lessons. You’ve heard the saying “when one door closes, a window will open?” Well, patience is kind of like that; the window doesn’t automatically open as the door closes, you have to wait for the window to open. The wait is inevitable, might as well make the best of it. Waiting isn’t permanent; it is temporary and there is always an end to the wait. I know it seems pretty silly that I learned all of this from a creature no bigger than my Coach purse, but I’m glad I learned it somewhere; otherwise the days would have been long and rainy since I’ve returned to the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I look forward to more lesson from Professor Baxter, after all he is a puppy graduate now!


Zumba Love

Every time I go to my Zumba class, I am always reminded of my first time visiting a class with one of my best friends in Chicago (KB). I was excited, curious, and nervous all at the same time. My main concern was what people would think of me and my ability to show off the dance moves that I perfected over the years in the privacy of my own bedroom. Would I look stupid? Will I not be able to keep up? Who will be there? What will people think? These questions are rehearsed over and over again in my head when I try anything new. You see, throughout my life everything I did and the choices I use to make were 30% what I wanted and 70% of what others expected of me. Sad and pathetic, I know. Luckily, I’ve had enough trials and tribulations and growing opportunities in my life to make the appropriate changes.

So, my first time at Zumba I had an epiphany that changed my perspective on life – sometimes people are just too busy living their own lives to care about “you” and your’s. I noticed as the music began and everyone started mimicking the instructor, no one cared about the way I danced or the mistakes I was making; they were too busy trying to learn the moves themselves. After the class was over, I realized that there is a life lesson to learn – you shouldn’t care what other people think because they just might not really care. Let me put it in this perspective, if your daily “To Do List” is a million tasks long, what makes you think that everyone else’s aren’t?! People are so consumed with their own lives that it doesn’t matter what you do with your life. So, wear your favorite high heels even if your co-workers aren’t, order your dessert even if your date doesn’t want one, and be who you want to be – yourself. Sometimes it isn’t “about you” it is about just “being you”.