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Category Archives: Stream of Consciousness

Best of You

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“I’ve got another confession my friend, I’m no fool. I’m getting tired of starting again somewhere new.”*

How often have I heard or seen someone tired of starting again? How many times have I heard of a friend unhappy in a relationship or lack thereof?

In a world where we rely on technology and people to show us how to live our lives, is it any wonder so many are unhappy? We turn and look at the person next to us, comparing what they have with what we’ve got, and then we turn and look at our smartphone to see what the world has that we do not.

We bury ourselves in things that should make us happy based on others’ thoughts, but does it really? Is that new outfit going to fulfill your heart? Is that late night going to make up for a bad day or just make you temporarily forget? What happens when you wake up and still feel the same?

The truth is that we turn so much that we forget to look straight ahead in a mirror. We forget to look at ourselves. What makes us happy, what gives us enjoyment, what motivates us. The fact is, it isn’t a ‘what’ but a ‘who’. We are our worst enemy and yet we forget that we are our best friend as well. By looking at ourselves in the mirror, perhaps one of those times, we can see who really matters and really see the only person who can change our lives and make us happy.

Every day is filled with choices. Some people have more choices than others, but there are still choices nonetheless. But, you see, there’s another question that bothers me even more.

“Is someone getting the best of you?”*

I think this goes beyond making our own happiness, because in so many instances we choose to make ourselves unhappy. We choose a path that leads somewhere we feel more certain about, rather than leaving the path and going on our own into an adventure. Perhaps some people are not naturally adventurous, but why do we consistently choose a path that we already know doesn’t make us happy? Maybe we aren’t unhappy, but true happiness, not a life of complaining and daydreaming of something else, is what we really wish for. Has happiness really become so unbelievable for some people that they would rather wake up ‘okay’ each day? Isn’t there more to this short life on earth?

So this is for all of my friends who are searching and losing and who are frustrated and feel unloved. This is for you, who think it’s ‘good enough’. I’m here to tell you that it isn’t and it isn’t working. Look in the mirror. You are beautiful. You are unique. You. Only you.

Only you can know your heart. Only you can know your happiness. Only you can know what is the best of you.

The best of you. That part of you that gives someone a light in their eye, that shines from you when you walk into a room, that makes others want to know, ‘What makes that person so different?’ The best of you.

Only you know what that is and only you can give the best of you away. If someone does have the best of you, then hold onto that thought and let it fill you with happiness. Don’t take it for granted. If not, then you’ve answered your long list of questions. Go and be you. No one else can. There is only one of you.

So I will ask again:

“Is someone getting the best of you?”*

 

 

 

 

*Lyrics by Foo Fighters

 

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Things I Miss About the US

Living abroad for over four years now, there are things I miss about my home country: USA. I have read numerous expats’ homesick lists and decided to make my own. Aside from obvious things, such as missing family and friends, I will include the top 5 things that I miss the most about living in the US. These are not in any particular order.

1. Food

Melbourne offers fantastic international cuisines, especially of the Asian sort, which I could never have gotten in my small-town America, but that’s not what I mean. I miss the idea of sitting down in a nice restaurant and not paying a fortune (i.e. Olive Garden, Applebee’s). I miss the sports-themed restaurants that weren’t trashy, but for the whole family. I miss “easy” food (i.e. Chipotle, Panera), where you didn’t quite go to fast food but it’s still “fast”. I miss REAL Mexican food.

Of course there are specific foods I miss (like Pistachio pudding for making Watergate Salad. Yum!), but the biggest things I miss about America are free refills, complimentary bread baskets, and drinks included with meals. Oh my goodness, why can’t my drink be included with the already over-priced lunch menu? And why must I order a $15 appetizer when all I want is to munch on cheesy bread?

The food selection is great in Melbourne, but I miss the way that eating out is in the US. It satisfies me completely, without an empty wallet.

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2. Shopping

This category encompasses many things, from customer service to paying with cards. In America, you can pay for anything and everything with a card and there are no minimum spending amounts for this luxury. In Australia, almost every place (except big stores) has a minimum you must spend in order to use your debit/eftpos card. Why? I still haven’t figured this out. It actually affects the way I shop. For example, sometimes I just want to get a coffee on my way to work, but I know exactly which cafes accept card and which cafes have a minimum. I will gladly choose a café with none of those rules, even if the coffee isn’t as great. Why? Convenience. I hate carrying cash, because I spend it more.

The other thing is store hours. The city is a ghost town by 5pm every day, and even earlier on the weekends. I understand that it is nice that people don’t have to work past a certain time every day, but sometimes I really need cold medicine at midnight or a random trip to get ice cream at early hours. Even the supermarkets close at 10pm, when I use to love doing shopping between the hours of 11pm-12am. I won’t even go into my evening coffee fix. Why does no one believe that someone could want good coffee (not from McDonald’s) after work?

Customer service… Customer Service… Customer service. I really don’t think I can say much on this without going into an outright rant.

The last thing I miss about shopping is the online shopping (and mostly free shipping). I miss the availability of items and not expecting to pay more than your shopping bag’s worth in shipping. It is depressing, sometimes, to look on Amazon and know that you can’t have something, because the shipping would cost too much.

3. Banter & Stranger Talk

This is something people do not understand here. I miss the people. I miss opening the door for someone at the bank and they talk about the weather or the construction on Main Street. I miss shop clerks asking about my day while I buy groceries. I miss the general attitude of people walking down the street, smiling and giving you a compliment. I miss being able to do the same without getting that weird look that I’m crazy or about to ask for money.

I once asked a coworker how her trip to the US was and what she liked and didn’t like. I enjoy knowing how foreigners look at my home, but something she said surprised me. She told me that the one thing she really didn’t like was that complete strangers would talk to her. It freaked her out. I was shocked and told her that was one of the things I missed MOST about home. I think we were both in disbelief that the other would like/dislike something like that.

I miss the politeness, the laughing, the making of friends easily. I miss getting jokes and making jokes and sarcasm. (I don’t know if it’s just my sarcasm but some people find it rude here.) I miss the culture, the sports (American football!). I miss belonging.

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4. Reading the Newspaper

Oh, how I miss reading the newspaper! During my university years, I would read three papers every day: the local, the State, the Country. I miss being able to read ACTUAL news and relevant things happening. I miss this SO much, because I prefer it over television news. I can’t even buy the paper here, because there are basically two kinds (both on opposite political spectrums) and the big news stories are about a puppy or an old headline with a new twist. Not to mention the advertising. It covers a WHOLE page sometimes, while the news article is shifted to the side. It’s more like reading a fashion magazine than an actual newspaper.

5. American Optimism

I miss the American can-do attitude that we seem to have. I didn’t realize this was a thing until I left. People are generally more optimistic about everything: weather, sports, future, etc. We have a go-get-em way of life and we never give up on our dreams, no matter how unrealistic. I love this.

There are small things I miss on top of these major 5, but I decided to stick to the biggest things that make me homesick while living abroad. This list is just my opinion and what I miss most, which may differ from other expats. Oh and one more thing I miss: Good ol’ American patriotism.

american-made-work-boots

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2015 in Stream of Consciousness, Travel

 

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Let Hope Rise

As mentioned before in Being Happy: Part 2, I do have my dark days, where sometimes the world just becomes too much. Thankfully, I believe in an awesome and almighty God and that gives me hope. Hope for a new day: Hope for a better tomorrow: Hope for goodness in all people.

My happiness and ‘smiling’ attitude make my life easier to wake up everyday and put one foot in front of the other. This way of living, however, if not easy for many people. I’m well aware of this fact, which is what motivates me to live stronger and louder. I believe in being that light, no matter how small, for someone else. I believe in being the hope that they search for.

Many people suffer from depression and anxiety. Many people focus on negativity in their lives, wishing they had better things or were able to do more. Many cultures and countries stigmatize mental illness and castrate those who are afflicted. It is so easy to just kneel down and give up, to cry for all those who are misunderstood, judged and ridiculed. I refuse to be one of those.

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I will let hope rise, like a sunrise that makes you stop and ponder its significance and warmth. I don’t want to cry. I want to laugh and sing and dance in the light of the sun, letting it soak into my skin as a new day dawns. I want to revel in its majesty and feel the non-judging grace. I want to give this experience to everyone I meet. I want them to know love. Real love.

Hope can change people, can turn nations, can create miraculous moments. Hope can and it will. I can only meet so many people in the world, but everyone has the ability to be the hope for someone else. Are you the hope for someone or do you depend on someone else to see that hope?

We all live in this world together and together we must conquer the darkness that suffocates us. It takes everyone and that is the hope I hold onto: a changed life. I don’t need to be able to see a changed world in order to see a changed life, because that one life is the world.

Perhaps I am a dreamer and many realists may be filled with skepticism, but I do know what is going on around the world and I refuse to let it get me down. I am more than a news story. I am more than rejection. I am more than just 5’1″. I am more.

 

 
 

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Being Happy: Part 2

Previously on my blog I mentioned a little about my attitude in life and how I love being happy. There are days, however, when I just don’t want to get out of bed. I’m sure we all experience these times. It could be because of sickness or being overworked or just because. Regardless, I have my dark days as well. They don’t number as high as my happy days, but I do see them occasionally increase as I step out of my bubble and see more of the world.

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There are times when something bad happens and you feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel, no hope on the horizon, but it is these darkest days that we can shine more brightly. There was time when I just felt hopeless and didn’t know what to do or what was expected of me. I didn’t feel like going to work. I didn’t feel like writing. I didn’t even want a cup of coffee. Even now, writing about this is difficult.

I experienced a touch of anxiety, which I didn’t even know about. I eventually got out of this depressive state and was happy when I did, but the point is that no matter how happy I am or may seem to be, I can still have days where I just don’t feel good.

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This may be obvious to many people. ‘Duh! We all have bad days!’ Let me clarify. Hardly anyone ever sees my ‘bad’ days. Why? I honestly don’t know.

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Perhaps my own expectations of myself are too high. This happens quite often, though. Many people would rather hold everything in or only feel ‘true’ when they are alone, but it shouldn’t be like this. We should accept that everyone cannot always be the way they are on an average day. We need to see everyone’s high and low and still be there.

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Is that true friendship? Maybe. Is that healthy? Probably. Is it needed? Definitely.

 

 
 

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Snail Stepping

Snail Stepping (v):

1. A dance-like way of avoiding crushing snails after heavy rainfall

2. The art of avoiding topics that may offend someone

A few years ago when I lived in Queensland, Australia, the summer season meant humidity and lots of heavy rain showers. Those rain showers brought hundreds of snails out of their tropical homes and onto the hot sidewalks. Normally, it wouldn’t bother me. I’m all for being one with nature, but I’m not exaggerating when I say there were hundreds. The ground was covered in snails, of all sizes, to the point that you couldn’t avoid them. I had to take a deep breath and close my eyes as I heard the crunching beneath my feet. That is how I created the term ‘snail stepping’, because it reminded me of hopscotch or when, as a child, I pretended certain places were lava and I couldn’t touch them. Then, twenty years later, I found myself playing those games once again, but under different (and quite detrimental to the snails) circumstances.

As I thought of this ‘dance’ if you will, it also reminded me of a game we play as adults. This game is more subtle and, if not played right, can cause friendships to end. I am referring to the second definition of the term ‘snail stepping’. I found that, much like those childhood games, there would be moments in conversations with friends, colleagues and complete strangers where I would have to sidestep to another topic or end the conversation altogether to avoid going someplace I would rather avoid or to avoid any embarrassment for other people.

I shall give you an example.

Last week, we took a mini-trip, or paseito in Colombian Spanish, with friends. One of our friends brought another friend, whom we had never met, but we love meeting new people. This person had the same background as all our other friends, which isn’t uncommon. My husband was talking with our friend and this new person, getting to know him, when he mentioned (in context at the time) that multi-cultural relationships do not work. Now, our friend knew that I (from the US) and my husband (from Colombia) had been together for years and was trying to tell his friend that that wasn’t true and he shouldn’t say things like that, but my husband just smiled, knowing that person had no clue about me.

You see, my husband was engaging in the art of snail-stepping, because he wanted to not embarrass the new person. It’s these delicate moments which can turn ugly or even confrontational if you let them, but when engaging in snail-stepping, can avoid the death of a conversation and even, sometimes, a friendship. So, even though I made up this phrase, I think it could be quite useful when referring to these moments and others like them.

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Being Happy: Part 1

A lot of people want to know how I ‘tick’. Why I am the way I am. I am a naturally joyful person with an optimistic outlook on life. In fact, this comic strip typically sums up what people think about me and how I think in general:

Peanuts Comic

Peanuts Comic

I love smiling and being happy and this makes people question my behavior. I find it disheartening sometimes that they do not believe that one person can hold so much happiness, but I believe sharing and showing this natural state of ‘being happy’ helps people who struggle with finding happiness on a day-to-day basis. I feel that if I were down, then I would want to be around someone who was joyous, because I would want to pretend that it is contagious and proximity would give me better chances of catching that person’s happiness.

Happiness is perhaps not a choice for some people, but I like to believe that it is a lifestyle. It’s not always easy being happy and upbeat when such tragic things occur around the world, but I feel like, even with such horrible things, it is still better to live feeling happy than to sit down and be dismal.

Maybe, one day, my funeral will consist of a dance party…

Perhaps all of this is wishful thinking or downright false, but believing is always better, in my mind, than giving up. After all, perhaps happiness is contagious.

Snoopy dance with a leaf

 

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Do you have a Plan B?

Sprinkle on satin petals and

    be Reborn in my solitude

No darkness can cover you from my eyes

                                                Open.

I’m breathing for you.

                Shallow disregard,

They are blind to the beauty of your spirit

                Free me.

                                                Taste me.

You are imprinted on my mind

The heaviness of your question

                                bleeds into my heart

A new dawn to be your Plan B

                Leap, you say…

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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Poetry, Stream of Consciousness

 

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