grown

underneath naiveness
is the greatest gift,
of knowledge.

of shedding skin
to reborn and rebuild
into newness.

not young again,
not innocent,
but, free.

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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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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.

donut reflections

donut reflections

I was making some art on MS Paint and realized, hey, I had a few thoughts. It’s written in the image above, but in case you can’t read it, here’s what I wrote:

everything has become a performance. things aren’t legitimate until there’s a brand name or a label or a degree. it feels staged. like i’m afraid to start anything because of the fear of not knowing what is validated or not. but why even care? i want to write. i want to create things. i want to bake cookies and i want to change the world for the better. i can do those things. you can do those things. we don’t need to be held back by some kind of standard we are trying to uphold or a title we need to define. i am human. you are human. can we just be humans again?

here and there

In the city

Designed by a sharp architect,
The buildings have a bit of angles,
Mirrors and glass intertwine
Reflections and clear glass remain
The main foci of perspective.

In the forest

Beyond the shadows of cloaked
Mountain peaks and waterfalls,
Mists of opaque steam and clouds
Blur and distort the possibilities yet
Boundaries go boundless and free.

 

This is my take on how I see the differences and similarities to going a path you understand and know and one that isn’t as clear and predictable. The city life is more of a man-made creation of societal standards and expectations in the realms of reputation and livelihood. The life beyond the city and more towards nature is more unpredictable and less exhibited, so the expectations are less known. Both are paths that may hold great possibility or great failure; positives and negatives. It depends on where you stand and what you value.

grandpa memories

I came across the 73 Questions With Roger Federer from Vogue and it made me feel how much time has passed by. It reminded me of grandpa. Here’s a few loosely strung memories I’ve compiled about him:

As a kid, my dad would drive our family over to visit grandpa a few times a year. We’d get lost on the same curvy road and pass by the same grocery store wondering if we needed to take a left or right turn. On one of our visits, he had Wimbledon on the television and explained to me how tennis worked. I didn’t get it for a while, but it didn’t stop me from spending lazy weekends watching a few tournaments myself.

Seeing Federer on screen again was like being a kid again trying to understand what love meant (in terms of tennis scoring) and connecting with my grandpa through his perspective. I tried by asking him once what kind of music he liked and he said he wasn’t fond of music at all. I was shocked. I never met anyone who didn’t like music in some capacity. Sports, gardening and playing Bridge was what he enjoyed doing.

Just writing the title now made me remember how my sister and I would re-read our thank you cards and letters over and over again because the word “granpa” or “granma” just looked too weird. Obviously, they were spelled wrong. I was a little kid trying to impress the adults with my perfect handwriting and articulate word choices. Looking back on them, the slanted writing alignment, things we considered important to mention and the misspellings made them all the more special and cute. It’s funny and kind of sad how much time we spend fretting over things that ultimately don’t matter.

Grandpa kind of taught me that in passing. He lived it with his life. He didn’t worry about upcoming surgeries, he just got whatever he needed done and moved on. He didn’t complain about working over his retirement age or giving up his stuff to move into a smaller apartment. He didn’t even make silent awkward moments awkward. While I was in high school, he gave me a copy of a journal he wrote. It was fascinating to read again as an adult and I am honored he decided to share his thoughts and feelings with me. He didn’t hide his emotions during trying times or walk away when the pressure was heavy. He even admitted to me when he was scared or when things weren’t going great. His strength, honor and bravery are what I remember most about him. He was human and was the best at it more than anyone I know.

Rest in peace, grandpa. I hope you get to eat delicious chocolate cake all the time and beating all the Bridge games you’re playing. I miss you all the time.

little rewards

sunrise

we put in the time to sleep early, wake up early and drive over there to see this. it was our little reward that we so desperately needed in that time in our lives. it’s interesting to think about and wonder how many moments in our lives we create by just putting in a little effort; by wanting that small glimpse of what amazing could look like. it’s hope. hope that it’ll all be good someday.

shop has been added & other thoughts

In the last few weeks, my life has turned around a bit quite a few times. With new opportunities, ideas, travel, tasks and the day to day routine, I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed overall. Moment to moment doesn’t feel intense, really, but it’s more of the whole picture. I sat on the porch today taking in the breeze. It was glorious. It made me value, as it tends to do, time. Summer is finally here and more than any other season, it is the only one I feel most inspired and motivated by. There is literally something in the air. To clarify though, I don’t feel a rush. I feel excitement. But the kind like a soft and gentle glee you get when you see your crush or hearing good news.

Summer has made me want to knock off my heavy boots and embrace the lightness of sandals and flats. I don’t need to carry over the heaviness of last year’s sorrow so carefully and forcefully. I can comfort my wounds with love and gratitude. I can cherish rather than regret. I want to.

So, I’m trying new things. I have added a little shop here to find new homes for secondhand goods. Feel free to check out. I may change up the theme setting on this blog some more, but haven’t fully committed. I switched up the way one of my rooms look with new house plants and curtains. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely feel the summer lounging vibes, but I’m also feeling power of action.

fear to free

I’ve had the Bittersweet Symphony song in my head for a few days now. Why? Not sure. It’s not a song I typically listen to, although, I haven’t really indulged in music in general lately anyway. Perhaps it’s my mind wanting the vibe it gives because it certainly does give one, doesn’t it?

A close friend from college told me his favorite movie was Cruel Intentions. And for those who aren’t familiar, this song was featured in this movie. It isn’t my favorite, but it made me wonder a lot of things about life. Why some people value certain things while others do not. There’s a whole lot of things in this landscape of life that makes absolute no sense to me.

The moment you realize you do not need is the moment you realize you are free. There are pieces in life that keep us attached because of what we fear or what we can’t let go. And then there are times when we are forced to face our fears and let go of things we never intended to in the first place. Talk about cruel intentions.

But maybe it forces us to see ourselves and this world the way we should. To give us that power to make changes we know we ultimate want to progress or to feel comfortable with the beings we were born to be.

Wherever you are in your journey today, I want to let you know that you aren’t alone. I find myself always changing and progressing; no matter how slow or fast or unpredictable or impractical this path makes it.

recharge and be

I can hear you snoring. The deep rhythm vibes in and out of your core and you are one with all of yourself. Your mind sets itself from the day of accumulating stimuli and finally it can do what it wants by itself; without noise or visuals or any intentional movements from your body. Maybe that’s not all true, or any of it or all, but as I breathe in, I feel this. I feel the singularity it yearns.

Let yourself recharge from all that you gave and received today. Let your whole being take itself into account to formulate a creation that is the foundation of who you are and who you will become.

You are a sweet human with energy ready to share and pour itself into this vast landscape of concrete madness interrupting the masterpiece of mother nature we all should love more.

Let it be. Let yourself be.

just be.

change your room

Every year, there would be a random point in the autumn-ish season in which my partner and I would feel a bit antsy, frustrated and irritable. Maybe it was our jobs. Maybe it was the change in seasons. No idea why these feelings would come but one day, we decided to change our living room. We re-arranged where the sofa faced and where the television would be angled. There were shelves I’d build up one year; only for the next year or so, be moved in a whole other location.

And this made us feel a little happier.

Because I think doing this made us really face our literal current situation at the time. There were things we just didn’t need around; old receipts, clothes we don’t wear, furniture that took up space, books that went unread and the list went on. I am not the kind of person who does traditional things like “spring cleaning” or resolutions at New Year’s. I like to do things when I need to or want to.

These last few years, we haven’t changed much of anything. I think it’s because we found the optimal way of how our place looked. But now, our outlook is different. Things have come in and out and now the re-arrangement has turned yet again. So, I think, just to get a little bit more perspective, I’m going to change the room a bit.

And metaphorically speaking, I feel better when I face my reality; the current situation. Like I mentioned in a past post, I just can’t delude myself into false circumstances or lies to make myself feel better because it just doesn’t do that for me. When I start changing the room in my mind, I see changes in how I feel, think and see things. It’s important to check in with ourselves and hear what we need and where we want to go.

gardening

Tis the season to get out there and enjoy the weather. Rain or shine, I’ve been out there building a whole new landscape, literally. Child me would be super surprised that this is how I’d like to spend as part of my summer–watering flowers, getting the soil ready and planting seeds. I’d never thought I’d follow my mom’s footsteps in creating a garden. Or wanting one or putting in the work. But lately, it’s become another beautiful thing I’ve been doing in my life that adds so much joy, peace and happiness in my atmosphere.

I saw a red cardinal yesterday near one of the new flowers I planted and it was such a little piece of happiness in my day. I’m looking up DIY garden beds and coming up with ideas on building some in my yard. My dream is to grow some veggies and fruits I can use for my cooking.

There’s just something about the sunshine that keeps me wanting to go outside all the time and soak up as much as I can handle. Use what I’ve gathered and bring it back out into something wonderful and productive.

Mom's flowers
we need more color in our world

These flowers aren’t mine, but these are what I’d love to see more of in the coming months. These are ones my mom had years back.