& belonging

the moment grew quiet,
tense, warm, heavy.
you looked into my eyes.
i looked into yours.

And you said it.
I said it.
We shared our souls
Together, as one.

My heart filled
With excitement
Then fear,
Then hope

& belonging.

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10 things I learned while studying abroad

cars traffic

  1. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.
  2. You change a lot and maybe only realize it after you’ve left.
  3. When learning a different language, it is best to speak it as much as possible without fear of sounding silly or wrong.
  4. You see the (big) world in an entirely different way and feel you have a place in it more than ever.
  5. You have to face some of your greatest insecurities because you’ll be the most vulnerable being farthest away from what you’re familiar with.
  6. Everyone is human and complex and so are you.
  7. You’re stronger than you think.
  8. Being open-minded, patient, independent and brave are very valuable characteristics to adopt.
  9. Reflection and introspection will come naturally.
  10. Even though it was only a few months, it’ll be so impactful that you’ll think about it years and years after.

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green plant therapy

green plant

It’s odd how watering some plants can give so much comfort to every day life. Especially when it’s a tough day or things seem a bit gray. I read once that farmers are the happiest people on earth because they are surrounded by nature all the time. And maybe because they are actively cultivating and nurturing something they can see grow every day. It’s not data entry, spreadsheets or nameless numbered clients. Farmers can actually pick tomatoes from their garden and make a delicious meal that day. That’s what I want someday. My own garden. Yeah, that sounds nice.

hungry

Stir fried udon noodles
Broccoli, fried tofu, shrimp fish balls, udon noodles and bok choy

I made this when I craved udon noodles, but wasn’t feeling the soup broth kind. I figured, how much more work is it to stir fry? It wasn’t really at all. It was one of the tastiest things I made. I am sometimes taken aback how much effort a dish takes and the return is not even close satiating my taste buds. This, however, was certainly worth the effort.

before 5am

There’s this quiet energy that comes before 5am. Even when 5am hits, it’s just beginning to rev up. People are still asleep in their warm, dreamy state. While nature prepares with small forces going upwards. Going forward. Like the early birds who have to. Alarm hits and they have to. It’s their job. It’s their vanity. It’s their health.

But the time before 5am, it’s like gold. It’s time you can’t buy at all. Most times, it’s a bad sign, maybe, to be up for so long or to have slept and woken up in the middle of the night. I fall in the latter.

My mind needs a reset. Or a settlement. Concerns need to be addressed and for some reason, it’s during this time in which I feel the most able to do so. Through writing, planning, researching or even just taking a moment to breathe deeply addresses these concerns.

Time slows down during this time period. I don’t need to rush—no one is awake. I don’t need to be on.

Come 5am, the day will begin. That has its own beauty to explore for another day.

burger heaven

Just before heading back into the kitchen, I smelled the delectable scent of the sesame seed, soy sauce, garlic, green onion turkey burgers just about ready on the stove. Popped some sesame hamburger buns in the oven for a quick warm up. I like bread when it’s a little crispy on the edges and soft in the center. After a few minutes, the warm bread aroma took center stage. Lovely.

He asked if I wanted mayonnaise, I said no. Ketchup? Nope. The lettuce and tomato suggestions were a negative as well. Without anything added at all, it was amazingly delicious. Like, really good. I had a moment after eating if I should take a photograph, but decided not to. It doesn’t look any different than any other burger really and it seemed better to describe it anyway. This is a moment when a photograph doesn’t say a thousand words. But my taste buds do.

country music

I can’t remember exactly how it came to be. That I found out you liked country music. It came out of nowhere, like, did I ever know you? No hate at all though. It was more of how uncharacteristic of you rather than the actual preference. But you did. You liked the music. You said out of all the song genres, you felt that it was the one that told the most stories. Or something like that.

As I learned more about you, it is obvious that story-telling was your objective. The way you took a photograph told me your thoughts. Kinda. The dreams you had of reaching. The way you didn’t value money. You valued experiences. You traveled often. Even on the days I wanted you around. But you were there when it was most important to me.

I picture you now. Being serenaded by a singer with a voice that tells a complex story that has a happy ending.

ways dreams can come true

I haven’t read any of those books that tells you how to achieve your dreams. It’s an odd conflict. I want to learn and yet, I don’t know if it’s something you can really…..learn?

I think it’s more of what you do, a little luck and a change in perspective. I’ve experienced all three of these circumstances. And what I’ve gathered from the overall experience is:

  • Hard work pays off (whether it is unintentional because you are so passionate or intentional and you’ve put in the hours of effort and sacrifice).
  • Be good to yourself and listen to yourself (you know yourself better than anyone else. If you are happy, go with that).
  • It takes time (it’s the journey and not the endgame necessarily. We may decide on path and then go onto another. It’s all part of it).
  • Gratitude is the foundation for all of this (if you aren’t able to be thankful for where you’ve come from, how will you feel when you get to the top? Identifying the top and reflecting how you got there is key).
  • It’s not going to be completely what you imagine (there is always some bad to every good and vice versa. It’s not going to feel 100% like you think it would feel).

First, you have to learn more about yourself. Are you happy right now with where you are and what you are doing? If so, then you probably are already there. Congratulations! Maybe there are other things you’d like to achieve or maybe you are content with where you are. Or maybe you want to see what comes along.

If you’re not happy or feel like something is missing, maybe you can ask yourself even more questions. What does make you happy? Are there any skills that you are particularly good at that you can support you financially? I guess the last question is assuming that achieving your dreams means doing it 24/7.

But maybe you don’t even want to do that. Maybe you want to accomplish things on your down time (outside of work) like training for a marathon (shout out to my cousin!) or just cooking for fun.

Either situation still allows the ability and time to go for your dreams because it’s up to you when you have made it a reality. You are the boss of your own life.

You create the levels, the ultimate challenge and the reward.

Some helpful steps are: deciding what the dream is, breaking down the steps to get closer to it and be realistic with your time and financial situation.

Second, I feel like one can achieve their dreams just by accident. Being at the right place at the right time can be a life-changing event. Maybe you checked something off your bucket list and it’s been a goal for a very long time. Perhaps you and a friend attend an event or you join a club and you become more involved. Or you meet a new person and they have connections to the industry you want to break into or they happen to have an opportunity you can take advantage of. Maybe you went on vacation and realized the many things you want in your life. Or, the cliche celebrity story is that someone has “discovered” you. Again, you’d have to decide what you dreams are in order for them to be realized.

Thirdly, I think sometimes our dreams don’t look as what we imagine. They don’t feel like how we think we should be feeling. What if you are where you want to be and have not realized it? This takes looking at your situation objectively and looking at it in a wider view. Maybe you thought the path would be more glamorous or you thought you’re supposed to feel happy all the time. Or that life will be without challenges. If your dream is more than just a one-time task or goal, then achieving it also means the continuation of working on it with stamina, patience and passion. Unless, of course, you decide it is. Because it is ultimately up to you. There is no manual or perfect model.

the songbird

tree shadow

this morning I woke up
with a little songbird
singing the sweetest melodies
perched outside on a tree branch
he sang about his hopes and dreams;
a peace on earth
calms all our wildest hearts
and unforgiving souls.
observer of nature,
he knows no boundaries
of what is impossible.