Pressure Points

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Acupuncture needles in African woman's back

A week ago I tried acupuncture for the first time. It had been something I was always interested in – something always featured in movies and television shows as equal parts terrifying and tranquil. Which honestly sums up the experience quite accurately, in some respects. The pins are all positioned strategically over pressure points throughout the body. You breathe deeply, trying to forget that you have chosen to have roughly 30 pins pricked ever-so-gently into your skin, and focus on relaxing. In our busy world where words travel miles per minute, Facebook posts travel the world in hours, and our brains move at the speed of light just to keep up with our day to day activities, when was the last time you chose to just sit for 45 minutes and think of relatively nothing?

Never. I don’t think I’ve ever done that in my life. Ever.

Well let me tell you – the mind races, leaps and bounds, around and around, circling over the same thoughts you’re trying to precisely escape from. The stress of every day life seeps back in. But then to bring yourself back to the present moment you just remember – I’ve got pins ALL over my body right now so maybe it’s not a big deal if my laundry isn’t done at this exact moment.

There are significant pressure points throughout our bodies – each one affecting us differently, with varying amounts of pressure producing varying degrees of sensitivity. Stimulated at different times and by different methods – we as humans almost are all ticking time bombs ourselves. When pushed, we do explode with an outpouring of tears or obscenities depending on the occasion (unless thats just me?) until we let go of said pressure and allow ourselves to feel a cascade of relief wash over us.

And this roundabout metaphor brings us to a recent pressure that finally lifted. I was laid off from my job this week – in a stunning, out of nowhere, kick-you-in-the-ass fashion. My first immediate reaction upon hearing our HR person utter to me that today would be my last at the company?

Relief.

The second? How much a flight to Costa Rica costs.

Third? How disappointed my parents would be. But how utterly excited I was.

This is only part one. Read part two here.

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I Think They Call This a Breakthrough

Dating, Drinking, Personal

It’s amazing I was single.

At the ripe old age of 14, I was in lOvE with boys. I had my fair share of unrequited teenage crushes which resulted in a devastating amount of hours listening to Blink-182 in my bedroom decorated with collages of teen heartthrobs who I would never meet. Thinking back, I realized it’s not too far off from today. I’ve traded Blink for the Black Keys and the collages for photos of European places I ca’t return to quite yet, but ultimately I’m still pining away for the unattainable in my bedroom.

And it’s amazing I still am.

Why do we sit and wait for the right time or the right man or the right thing to magically manifest itself while we causally sit at home drinking wine? (besides the fact that wine makes everything better in general and increases the flow of time exponentially)

I think my inaction stems from a fear of getting hurt. I’m not sure if that’s the entire reason why I’m reluctant to put myself out there – but it’s definitely part of it. Just like everyone else in the world.

So that’s why I’m not having it. I’m keeping my butterflies in the cocoon. I’m ripping the buds off before they bloom. I’m humming in the drizzle instead of singing in the rain. (I’m also realizing I don’t really know many metaphors for being in love).

I’m picking men I can’t have relationships with. Foreigners who will eventually take their sexy accents back to where they came from. Or I’m the foreigner who will be taking my un-exotic self back to Texas. They have a schedule completely opposite from me. There’s construction on the way to their house. They live 20 hours away. They are too old. They are in a different place in life than me. They aren’t happy enough or they aren’t making me happy. I don’t want to be someone’s girlfriend but I don’t want to just be a piece of ass.

From one extremity to the next, I’m toeing this line between what I want and what I can get. But this the kicker – I have no idea what I want. Just like every other woman on the planet.

Realizing that is all fine and dandy but what’s there left to do? This obviously:

And it’s amazing that I will continue to be single until my untimely death due to alcohol poisoning. Cheers!

And afterwards? In all of the inexplicable abyss of options, I’m left with an inability to make any decision that seems right. That’s why your twenties are about doing and then learning (ah!) and I’m learning that whether I’m consciously making the choice to be with someone who is unattainable, I’m making the choice nonetheless.

Someone pass me a beer. All this personal reflection is making me thirsty.

I’ve also made the realization that I may use alcohol as a numbing agent. Whoops.

Mind, Body, and Soul Project

I Can't Wait For, Shopping

Being single has been a blessing in disguise. It’s a never ending quest for self-improvement each day. Without the distraction of a boy or a relationship to occupy my thoughts, I’ve had time to reflect and change the things about my life that make me unhappy. I’ve tried to distill my plan to a manageable set of ideas that I hope to achieve on a daily basis.

Each day I do something to better my mind, my body, and my spirit/soul.

And you know what? It’s really working.

I feel better and happier at every small accomplishment for myself. Instead of getting wrapped up in the dramatics of life, I step back and think about the little changes I can tweak to make it a happy day, every day.

Mind

Each morning I wake up and start my day with a TED Talk. If you haven’t been exposed to this wonderful site yet, it hosts videos from conferences around the world where speakers present innovative, funny, inspiring, and new ideas. Please check it out if you have even just 3 minutes to spare.

I actually do my homework. Because let’s face it, a lot of college kids take our education for granted. A reading is something we highlight and skim over in order to have a vague understanding in case the professor asks us a question over it. God forbid we actually learn.

I meditate. I try to think about my actions, I reflect on what I say to people. I’m mindful. I try to create my own internal happiness and I realize that I’m capable of anything I set my mind to, whether that’s compassion, forgiveness, or personal growth.

Body

When I went through a weight loss phase, I went to the gym religiously, counting down the minutes I would endure on the godforsaken treadmill. I would then come home and eat steamed vegetables or boiled egg whites, compulsively entering my calories into a food diary. I only drank water. By that I mean no alcohol. 

I literally and physically worked my ass off.

You can’t live like that forever. We’re meant to enjoy food in moderation. There are other ways to exercise without it feeling like torture. Now, I go to the gym each day and I run until I feel good. I smile while I’m there because I know that my body is meant to be used every day. I lift weights to foster a sense of strength, both internally and externally. I leave when I feel done, without the watchful eye of the clock looming over my workout.

And it all feels good because it’s no longer a chore.

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Soul

The greatest part about my project is all of the aspects are interconnected. Each workout fosters happiness and satisfaction. Each new item I learn makes me feel empowered and intelligent. So ultimately the other two could be the only things I did and I would still feel wonderful inside and out.

Instead, every day I do something that I want to do wholeheartedly. Yesterday it was reading a book and making espresso. Today it’s writing this blog at my favorite coffee shop. Tomorrow it might be yoga, making dinner with a friend, or just sitting in my room with incense and listening to music with the windows open. Last week I woke up every morning and danced around my room to this song.

Most of the time it’s ending the day with a good beer or a glass of red wine….or both.

These little things may seem so insignificant they could be considered a waste of time, but I look forward to them. These moments make waking up worthwhile. The drudgery of work, school, time commitments, and exhaustive conversations don’t have to define my day. I appreciate and enjoy those few seconds where I feel content with my choice to fulfill my desires. These inner victories give me a sense of accomplishment and provide the momentum to tackle the bigger dreams. Eventually it will be taking the steps to move to Austin, TX after graduation or finding a job that I look forward to doing every day.

But I still want to take the time to sit outside, breathe, and enjoy the sunshine. I enjoy everyone to do the same because it can change the course of your day.

Tolerance of the Temporary

Dating, Inspiration, Personal

As a religion minor, I get the great pleasure this semester to learn about Buddhism. I think what may have piqued my interest is the image of the Buddha as a fat, bald, and happily barefooted icon, which is a complete contrast to the bearded, long-haired, thin, sandaled and somber Jesus Christ I grew up with. Of course I hope it’s not as simple as that though.

Either way I’m really getting into the course and in the process of applying some of the teachings to my life. The main ideal the Buddha encouraged humans to strive for was a balanced life. He was a born as prince, given everything he would every need in life and then was exposed to disease, old age, and death. He then left that life to live as an ascetic (wanderer of religious truths) where he starved himself, practiced intense yoga to achieve meditative trance states, and basically was a baller at life. But these two extremes didn’t bring him any pleasure and he came live The Middle Path, in which he balanced the extremity of his two lives.

Then he came to realize the 4 Noble Truths which go as follows: The disease is suffering, the cause of the disease is desire, the cure is nirvana, and the path to nirvana is the 8 Fold Path which includes “right truths” such as morality, livelihood, and meditation to achieve mindful awareness, and compassion.

Still with me? Great.

Well the cause of all suffering is our desire for permanence. Buddha taught that the inevitability of life is death. Attachment to pleasures or pain causes suffering, because we are attempting to cling to the conditional things, like the security of permanence, but that everything is constantly going to change, regardless of our attachment or desire, time continues onward. We will never be constantly in a state of pleasure or pain, every emotion is temporary. True happiness comes from the ability to get beyond temporary happiness to a sense of freedom, tranquility, and internal serenity.

I’ve been meditating on these concepts with the help of incense, this radio station, and the insatiable desire to understand this concept of balance. So I pondered, contemplated, speculated, and mused over these teachings. When I finished I had a sense of clarity, an insight into how this affects my life.

I’m emotional. I feel the extreme joy in life’s moments, but I’m also insanely affected by the perception of others and the stress that creates in my life. I’ve come to accept the temporary nature of a thought – negative or positive – but I want to choose to feel more moderately and balanced with a tendency toward happiness. I want to allow my feelings to move through my in a fluid motion of mild detachment, ultimately knowing they cannot affect who I am.

I was recently put to the test when I was hit hard by a new crush. I was so excited about the potential in this new guy, his intelligence and wit were awe-inspiring and challenged me to think critically during our conversations. Oh and did I mentioned he had the chiseled body of The David? Which is ironic because we talked about Michelangelo’s famed statue.

But seriously, how do I get this lucky sometimes?

Ahem, back to my point. I was so incredibly excited at the idea of someone who could actually keep up, if not top me, so I let that excitement get the best of me. Against my better judgement I tipped the scale in the favor of an attachment to the idea of perfection that could possibly come from this individual.

Only to get stood up. Yes. Stood the fuck up for our third date.

As you can imagine, infuriating doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings. Outraged, vengeful, and murderous are some of the emotions that coursed through my veins along with disappointment and embarrassment. I had allowed my emotions to overwhelm me in the beginning and in the end they once again bested me.

So this morning I woke up. Did some yoga, drank my coffee, and realized that my life is going on, regardless, because that’s the only way that time moves – forward. This miniscule person has no effect on my personal well-being.

I am the captain of my soul, the sole author of my story, and the only owner of my sense of self.

And for that, I am grateful to that lying bastard. (I’m still working on the compassionate nature the Buddha also encourages. Baby steps.)

In a Relationship with Myself

Dating, Personal

Time for the utterly shocking news that I am once again single. If that is in fact shocking to you, read further for clarity.

I thought I was ready for a new relationship. I truly thought that after 5 blissful months of bar hopping, single girl swag, and celebrating my fabulous self that I was at a place in my life where I would be ready to commit to someone else and accept their commitment to me.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

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I was excaping myself through my friends and my short-lived crushes. Numbing myself from actually exploring who I am with internships and shots of tequila after work. I wasn’t growing, I was just adjusting. Right when I was at the peak and beginning to accept myself while learning to embrace who I actually am without someone else molding me, I met The Bartender. Then poof. I was right back where I started. Spending time with him instead of working on myself. My thoughts and concerns centered around him and his feelings instead of my own. My rickety self-esteem collasped on me, enduring insufferable blow after blow. Yet I accepted this because I was happy with him.

What I realize now though is that I was unhappy with myself and I wanted to be with someone who found joy through me because that gave me purpose.

Once I came to this conclusion I had no other choice but to conclude my relationship with The Bartender. I hated having to hurt someone again using the same rhetoric of finding myself and still being unable to reconcile with them that it wasn’t their fault but my own.

But onward and upward. It’s a new year and I finally understand that in order to become who I’m meant to be, I need to be on my own and face myself for the first time, without the hope that another man is going to come and rescue me from…well…me.

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Just for the sake of the new year, here’s my resolutions if you’re interested. Hopefully the more people that read them, the more of a reality they will actually become:

1. Treat others how you want to be treated.

2. Don’t let others define your happiness.

3. Start believing that everything will work out and stop stressing about what could happen.

4. Have the courage to trust myself and be confident in myself. Commit to actions that push me forward, instead of holding me back.

5. Be happy and healthy.

And lose weight. But everyone says that.

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Possimpible

Personal, Travel

“The place where the impossible and the possible meet. Nothing and everything is possimpible.” – Barney Stinston

For the majority of my short life, I’ve always assumed it would go one way. My life was like a set of directions on how to arrive at the final destination.  Turn right at high school. Make a left and attend college. Continue straight after graduation into your first job. In approximately 3 years, make a slight left at the promotion. Make a stop at marriage. Exit at 32 when you have a baby.

By now, I hope you get the metaphor.

As of now, that plan came to a crashing halt. Luckily the only damage incurred was the loss of that damn roadmap for my life. Now I have no destination and no directions and it’s okay. I understand that ‘real life’ doesn’t have to immediately begin as soon as a graduate. There are more opportunities for work than just that one perfect job. But most of all, I’ve realized there’s time.

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road can take you there.”

My life now looks like one long, open road. I’m not sure where I’ll turn or where I’ll make a pit stop, but that’s okay because now is the time to explore. I watch my friends who are graduating in December stress ands struggle, throwing every fiber of their being into finding a job after graduation, fighting to plan every detail of their lives, and I feel anxious for them. Anything and everything will happen during our lifetime, whether we realize it or not right now. Why are so many young adults having a quarter-life crisis and getting burned out at 30 in demanding jobs they hate? Take a beat. Evaluate the possibilities, because once you actually take a look they are truly endless.

And whether this next part interests you or not, here are some of the paths I’m considering post-grad:

  • Teach for America
  • Grad School for either Religious Studies or Education
  • Seminary School for Inter-religious Studies
  • Copywriter at an advertising agency
  • Taking a year to figure it all out
  • Traveling

I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how things pan out this year. After all, it’s only October.

 

Don’t Let Your Dreams Be Dreams

Inspiration, Personal, Travel

I’m really fearful of letting go of my aspirations.

I’m scared of the judgement I hear in people’s voices when I tell them I’m going to move home when I graduate. I’m even more scared by their disdained faces when I tell them I’m saving up because I’m going to travel instead of getting a ‘real’ job.But what’s more terrifying is not following my dreams.

Okay, it may be unorthodox to backpack instead of going straight into the employment cycle without any real plan for afterwards, but what dictates employment as the norm? I understand I may be making a mistake by putting my career on hold for two years, but for me it doesn’t feel like a mistake. I have my whole life to work 40+ hours a week at the same desk in the same city doing the same job. I’m scared of monotony. I’m worried I won’t live an unforgettable life.

“The days are long but the years are short.” – Gretchen Rubin

The intoxicating idea of traveling anonymously through Europe. Following my heart instead of my head. Following feelings instead of a calendar. Meeting people instead of answering emails and phones. I’m anxious to explore and grow. I’m daunted by the idea of living an ordinary life instead of literally pushing the boundaries of my experience.

“Don’t let your dreams be dreams.” – Jack Johnson

I can’t let this go, no matter how many people advise me against it, no matter how many shitty jobs I’ll do, and no matter how many terrible customers I’ll deal with along the way, it’s going to be worth it to me.

“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams, it’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the dreams will come to you.” – Randy Pausch

My friends and my parents tell me if there’s one person who they know who could do this – move abroad and get out of America, lead a life they would be jealous of – it’s me. I just need to be strong enough to remind myself to do it in the face of adversity.

I also want to thank all the bloggers who are inspiring me to do this with my life. The writers who are brave enough to venture outside of their comfort zone and explain the terrors and the joys that come along with traveling. The photographers who capture the beauty in the ordinary that you find while you discover a new city. The few who stand up and choose to do something exceptionally inconceivable by so many. You are giving me the courage to live my life remarkably. Thank you.