Advertisements

And I’m not just saying that, because I won a free massage at a managing stress seminar or because yesterday was my birthday. I’ve literally been saying it’s the greatest day ever to myself everyday since the first Saturday of the New Year. On that day I realized something about myself. When I find a lost item that I’ve been searching for for a while or when I run across something entertaining on the internet that really makes me laugh or smile, I always say to myself that “This is the greatest day ever”. On that Saturday, I can’t even remember what it was, but I’d found something on my dresser that I’d been looking for for a while and I said that same sentence when the wave of joy overcame me. At the same time I was reveling in the joy of finding my lost item I saw myself smiling in the mirror that hangs over my dresser and I looked at myself and I said, “It really is the greatest day ever. Every day should be the greatest day ever”. At that’s how it happened.

Now that doesn’t mean that good things happen all the time. What it means is that I am are able to enjoy every day despite the bad things that may occur. Last Monday, while at work, I was cussed out by a patient who was on the impatient side. She came in angry and impatient and left the same exact way, without forgetting to curse me out and say that I had no idea what I was doing first. So imagine my surprise when thirty minutes later her insurance company called and asked if we would see her again. She didn’t come back that day, but it was a wonder she left in the first place. No one forced her or asked her to leave. All that being said, the entire experience could have potentially ruined my whole day. I was literally close to tears when I went back to let the doctor know what had transpired, but amazingly enough the first thing that I said to myself when I went back to my desk was, “It’s still the best day ever”. And barring that one incident it really was a good day.

Ever since deciding to say those words to myself I feel like the world is brighter. I find joy in things that may seem trivial to some and I don’t tie my joy to one single event that happens in a day, but when good things do happen, it adds to my happiness. And so far, great things have been happening to me lately. That Monday I got cussed out by an angry patient was also the first day I’d received correspondence from the Peace Corps in over two months. That Wednesday I received my invitation. On Thursday I tried out a new baking recipe and on Friday took great joy in my coworkers compliments over the sweet treat. Saturday, the same day I accepted my invitation to the Peace Corps, was also the day that a Delta representative got in touch with me asking if I wanted to perceived forward with the next step of the application process for being a flight attendant with Delta. I’m already otherwise engaged, but it was a big confidence booster that my application had past stage one.

This week, my birthday week, has been just as amazing. I received tons of love yesterday and today I got the greatest belated birthday present ever by winning that free massage. I don’t think I’ve ever won anything by raffle before and when the numbers were being read off, even to the second to last number, I didn’t even consider it would be me, but I was overjoyed when my number was called. I’ve been wanting a massage for some time now that my primary care physician has a massage therapist working out of her office and was planning on paying for one soon anyway. I was just thrilled being able to attend the seminar in the first place. Stress is something I’ve had to deal with my entire life, because I have such a low threshold for handling it. Even though I’m happy to be going to the Peace Corps, my stress is only going to increase once I start my service as a volunteer and I wanted to start learning ways to cope with stress that I can carry with me to service. I was really inspired by the seminar, because it talked about alternative ways to handle stress like meditation and getting massages to relieve tension. The free massage was the icing on a already yummy looking cake.

You are one lucky little ticket!

You are one lucky little ticket!

I’m so glad that good things are happening in my life. I really feel like this is going to be a good year for me. Yet at the same time, that doesn’t mean my life is going to be immune to bad situations. So far the only thing that’s really changed is the way that I see everyday life. I still face stress and bad events, like the one from last Monday. It still sucks when I get suck in traffic and I still spend times idling in front of the computer to pass away boredom. I won’t say that good things are happening because I’m pumping positive energy into the world. The most positive person in the world can still get cancer. And positive or negative, we all face the same fate in the end. What matters for now is how we live each day. That’s why for me every day is going to be the greatest day ever, cause it’s the only one I have at the moment. Yesterday, was the greatest day ever when it was here and tomorrow will be the greatest day ever when it comes, but for now all I have is today so today is the greatest day ever. It is, plain and simple, but the phrase isn’t always the easiest to say. I learned that the hard way this week. There was actually a day when I didn’t care to say it cause I didn’t think anything particularly amazing would happen that day, but I did and I ended up being pleasantly surprised by what the day had to offer. I won’t ever be failed by any day that I live ever again, because every day that I live and breathe will be the greatest day ever.

It feels good to be lost in the right direction

I’ve been waiting forever to write this post. Going over it in my head over and over to make sure the words that I write perfectly match the feelings that I have toward this new year. To be perfectly honest, the post that I originally planned on writing and the one I’m writing now are totally different. Originally, I wanted to bring in the New Year by writing a post about the best year of my life and then identifying why that year was so awesome and how I could carry that awesomeness into 2014. It’s a good idea in itself, but I decided not to overshadow this coming year with events from the past. Instead I decided to define this coming year in one word: organic. In 2014 I hope and pray that I’m able to live a very organic life. When I use the word organic, I don’t mean eating certain fruits and vegetables or only grass fed animals. That’s not it. In the little dictionary app I have on my iPad organic has about six different definitions. The second definitions reads: “simple and healthful and close to nature“. To continue even further, coincidentally enough, the example phrase used for this particular definition was: “an organic lifestyle“.

I want my life in 2014 to be more organic. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to shun modern society, run off to the nearest mountain side, and live there forever and ever. Organic is just as the definition reads. It’s simple, but it’s more than that. If I wanted my life to be simple I could have written just that, but it doesn’t encompass all my hopes for 2014. I want simple, and healthful (which i didn’t even know was a real word). I also like the idea of being close to nature as in living a greener lifestyle, cause right now I’m only green in theory and not practice.

Originally, along with the “best year of my life parallel”, I wanted to write out a list of things I wanted to do. Then I realized, that 9 times out of 10, we write New Year’s Resolutions in list and we have these goals without any thought put into how we’re going to accomplish them. Am I saying that I have an exact plan of exhaustion for all my goals?….Not necessarily. But as opposed to simply having “Lose Weight” as a resolution, I’ve actually decided to change my dietary lifestyle and become a vegetarian sympathizer. That’s basically a person who eats meat, but dramatically less than the advantage person. My goal is to eat meat only 3-5 times a week, which is the average amount that we actually should be consuming. I made steps to become a vegetarian sympathizer in 2011, by starting out only eating meat once a day, which is the same way I’m starting now, but my study abroad to China blow those plans out the water. When I got back to the States the first time I never developed the desire or willpower to return to a mostly vegetarian lifestyle, until now. I have a weight loss goal for 2014. It’s 30 lbs, but above all else I really have to reintroduce myself to vegetables, because I’m just not eating a lot of healthy foods these days.

For 2014 I don’t think my life’s going to be simple as in I limit the amount of Saturday hang outs I have or do everything in my power to avoid being busy. No, manageable busy is good. I want to be busy. I will be busy. The only difference between chaotic busyness and manageable busyness is how much you let it stress you out. Work has picked up a lot since coming back. I went from a 15 hour a work schedule to a 30 hour a week schedule in the span of two months and added a seasonal job on top of that. Although I’m happy to have more hours at work, the load at my main job, depending on which location I work at can get very stressful and I refuse to let work stress me out. I won’t allow it. So from now on, I’m going to start carrying positivity to work with me. I may be one of the few people in this world who actually likes their job, cause I do. It’s not my end-all-be-all career, but for now it’s a nice fit for my life, but if you listen to me talk about work, you’d never know that. I complain about work so much and I’m not the only one. It seems to be a bonding agent for coworkers in general to talk crap about the shortcomings of their job. Even in my seasonal position it happened the same way. Constructive criticism from employee to management is one thing, but talking junk just to vent is something else entirely. I mean, would the world really end if I went a whole week of work without badmouthing the environment? No. Carrying positivity with me to work will help remind me that what I have is a good thing. If I find myself stressed by the workload, whatever it is, I’m going to slow myself down. It’s that easy.

During December work kept me pretty busy, but now that my seasonal job has ended I’ll have a lot more downtime on my hands. As oppose to waisting it all surfing the internet, I’ve decided to divide my time between learning (and relearning v_v) Chinese, learning to play the guitar (my parents bought me one for Christmas^^), and perfecting natural DIY products like the one below.

Coffe Sugar Scrub

Coffee Sugar Scrub

This here is a homemade coffee sugar scrub and it’s simply amazing. See things like this, along with low meat consumption, recycling, slowing down on the highway, and picking places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army over the trashcan are a few ways that I can make my life greener. It’s all coming together and I simply love that. Decreasing my stress, increasing my capability, while becoming more aware of how my actions and choices affect nature by living a more organic life sounds good to me. And if it sounds good to you too that’s awesome, but however you wish to define your 2014, may it be filled with blessings and prosperity. And as they say in China 万事如意!(Best Wishes!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!^^

As the new year comes closer I think it’s the perfect time to do an overview of 2013…only what in the world am I supposed to say about 2013? This year has just been…all over the place. Adventure, despair, novelty, comfort, stability are just a few adjectives I can use to describe the passing year. Interestingly enough, however, I’ll be ending the year pretty much the same way I started it. I started the year off in China midst a group of friends and I’ll be ending it midst a group of family and friends. The first few months of 2013 were amazing. I traveled a lot, met tons of new people, went tons of places I’ve never been and just had a blast. My winter break in China is probably my second greatest memory of the entire trip. Actually, I’ve noticed recently that anytime I do a lot of traveling I always seem to equate the memories with feelings of happiness, even if the experience itself wasn’t 100% glamorous. Whenever I travel, whether a good or bad experience there’s always a lesson to be learned, which is probably why I never regretted my decision to go to China.

Besides memories of traveling grandeur another positive thing about 2013 is the new friends I made along the way. Actually the few friends I’m referring to became my friends in the late months of 2012, but the fact that we were able to stay so close and that even now we still keep in touch despite us being separated by oceans and continents and time zones is amazing. Along that same sentient, I was able to reconnect with old friends almost as soon as I got back to the States. It worried me bit loosing contact with my friends so easily while I was in China, but picking up were the friendship left off was so natural.

If there’s anything I would have done differently in 2013, I would have studied more while I was in China. Isn’t that crazy that in a place and time where most people worship and live be the “You only live once” philosophy, I wish that I would have hit the books harder.? Well there’s a reason for that. It’s because by studying diligently, not just me, but anybody can cultivate themselves into a master of anything and everything they want to do. But that first step isn’t one giant leap from no skill to perfection. The first step is just that, the first in a series of steps that will eventually lead to capability, which then leads to decent, then good, then eventually, hopefully, great, and one day extraordinary, if and only if you keep up the effort. I have the worst mentality when it comes to studying. I know what it takes to become good at something, but I never developed the habit within me to stick to anything for a long period of time.

Something else I’d change about this year is the lack of attention I paid toward my health. I spent a lot, and I mean a lot, of time in 2013 stressing over every little thing. When I was China I was stressing about passing classes and what I was going to do when I got back. When I got back I started stressing about whether or not I should try to find a job or go back to school and if I choose to go back to school how I was going to pay for it. After coming back, although I was excited to have my old job back, money was a constant stressing point in my life and if I’m truly honest with myself it still is. But more that stress, eating healthy and exercising were things I completely ignore over the year even though I had plenty of opportunities to induce both into my life.

Writing this post is kind of like a wake up call for me. I’m happy to be reflecting on the pass year, because it gives me an idea of exactly what I want to accomplish in the year to come. By identifying the good and the bad, I can realize what things in my life I need to change and what things are perfectly fine just the way they are. Right now I have many things I’d like to change and that’s okay. Change, although a scary thing at times, is the only constant thing we truly have in life. I’m thankful for that, because it makes looking toward the New Year that much brighter. The ability to change brings about hope and hope is one very powerful emotion. With that being said, I want to end this post the same way I want to end the year, with all the memories and lessons of the year pass, but with the desire to change, grow, and hope that every year gets better and better. So long 2013! It was wonderful while it lasted! ^^

“I advocate for the passionate dedication to the pursuit of short term goals. Be micro-ambitions. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you. You never know where you might end up”. ~ Tim Minchin.

That quote came from a university address that this Australian comedian/musician gave to a graduating class at his alma mater before being awarded an Honorary Doctorate. The entire address is beautiful, and saddening, and truthful and anger inducing all at the same time. I really encourage any and everyone to watch it. The quote at the top is the part that stuck out the most to me. It’s no secret that I’m a big picture type of person, but when applying the above perspective to everyday life, I realized how detrimental always only ever looking at the big picture could be. Before the quote above, Minchin mentions that he never had a dream, but that he admires those who have. He goes on to impart a little cynical humor, by implying that those of us with big dreams and ambitions who spend years and years trying to achieve them will be at the end of our lives when we are finally able to stare into the pointlessness of our achieved goal, I suppose in an attempt to highlight the pointless of being passionate about only one thing.

Sounds cynical right, but in a way, I absolutely agree. That’s why for the past two or so I’ve been mostly focused on my short-term goals. I started off with three: Get a second job, pay off $6,000 privately held student loan, and join the Peace Corps (still also on my “One Day I will…” list). I’m happy to say that I did find a second job. The feeling was really amazing, to look at the little sticky note where I wrote my goals down and be able to check one off the list, and so fast it seems. The other short term goals are going to take a little longer to fulfill, but they’re both coming along just great, and of course an increased income flow makes paying down a debt a lot easier, which is a plus. Although, I was hired as a season employee, I’m seriously hoping that this job becomes long term. Today was my first official day outside of training and I can honestly say that I like the company, environment, and people, and to me that’s saying a lot of a basic retail job.

Even though, I still have two more things on my list, I’m excited to think of and start pursuing more short term goals, but one thing I’m starting to become mindful of is that the work doesn’t stop after the goal is reached. If anything, it increases. I had a good first day at work, but it was hard. I made a lot of mistakes and knew very little about the area I worked in, but I learned so much today. I feel like I want my next goal to be advancement focused. My foot’s in the door, now I have to make sure that I not only stay on after the holidays, but try to move up in a timely fashion. This is something that I know I can do and being in a people friendly environment will really help me when it’s time to start my Peace Corps service.

Another short term goal that I have in mind is related to the holiday. I went into work yesterday feeling really blessed for some reason and I’ve been feeling like that for awhile. As the holidays approach I’ve been thinking of different gifts to give people and ways to share in my blessed feeling and the same conclusion comes to me over and over again: I don’t want the gifts that I give to be monetarily special. No expensive watches or $40 bath sets (can’t afford it anyway). Instead, I’m busy racking my brain over how to introduce random acts of kindness into my holiday season. As simple as the idea of being kind may seem, I actually want to research on ideas and implementation. I’m pretty much set on doing it, I just have to figure out how I want to go about it. Do I keep it a secret? Or do I let people know and offer to help if they need anything done? Do I focus more on random strangers or lend a hand to family and friends? I’ll be thinking over these questions as we get closer to the holiday season, but as far as short term goal go, those are the two additional ones I’m looking to add onto my sticky note list.

Have you ever heard of or even written a “(insert number) Things to do Before I’m (insert same age as number)” list? While I was in China I tried to write a “30 Things to do Before I’m 30” list. I never finished that list, mainly cause I could never think of 30 things I wanted to have finished before I turn 30. I have a lot of goals and ambitions for myself, but I know that many of them will take years to achieve, even longer than the seven years I have left until my 30th birthday. I still want to create a list though. I may not be an A-type personality, but I love making list. I’ve been writing them since I can remember and I love the satisfaction that comes with being able to check something off a list as completed in full. It makes me feel productive.

While I was hanging out at my cousin’s house the other day, just about on the edge of sleep, I had a really subtle, really powerful, fleeting thought that started with “One day I will…”. One day I will be a Linguist. It’s my absolute goal in life to follow my love of languages into the field of language study itself, which is called linguistics. I’m not there yet, but one day I will be, then I can check it off of my lifelong “Things to Do” list. That’s pretty much how the idea behind my “One Day I will…” list started. There are a ton of things I want to do in life that I don’t want to give a particular time limit to, like having them completed by 30 or 40. I want to go about my life cultivating myself into this goal-orientated, serial achiever and I want to use as much time as it takes to do it, and to do it right. When I finally do check something off my list as completed, then not only will I get the satisfaction of fulfilling a goal, I’ll also write alongside the task the date that it was completed, to remind myself just how long it took to reach that certain goal.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about a “One Day I will…” list to be honest. There’s a sort of beautiful irony in the idea of “one day…”. At first thought, it might stir up feelings of procrastination or a lackadaisical mind-set. It may even seem a bit juvenile, kind of like a “What I want to be When I Grow Up” list, but I’m learning that even at the beautiful age of 23, although I’m no longer a kid, I still have a lot of growing up to do. And because I’m still young, I think that it’s perfectly okay for me to set goals for myself to achieve in a realistic matter. Also, something that differentiates the list I’m making now from a list I probably wrote in elementary school, is that my sentences now are definitive. “One day I want…” has changed to “One day I will…” and I think that makes all the difference. Check out that difference in my “One Day I will…” list:

One Day I will…

  • Be a Linguist
  • Pay off my student loan debt
  • Become a Peace Corps Volunteer
  • Speak fluent Mandarin
  • Pick up studying the guitar again
  • Live a love story that pulls that the heartstrings in a good way
  • Learn to speak Korean
  • Grow my hair down to my waist
  • See myself in a Size 8
  • Live a minimalist lifestyle
  • Learn to fully love, accept, and respect the person that God has made me

I saved the best for last, as always. For the list that you see above, I left out nothing. That same list here is the same list that will go in my journal later today. Of course, I hope to add on to it in the future, but for now I’m diligently working on at least four out of the eleven things written above. I’ve applied to the Peace Corps already and currently have a recruiter. I’m still studying Mandarin as best I can in hopes of one day passing HSK Level 5, whenever that day maybe. I’m applying for seasonal jobs at the moment in hopes of boasting my current income so that the extra can go towards to my student loans. I’ve also been selling things on eBay, but I don’t know how I feel about that just yet, what with all of the fees involved. For my hair, I just bought a bunch of new natural oils and I’m going to adopt a new washing technique that’s supposedly less harsh on my curls. And for my body, I just signed up for a 5K race that’s in two months. It’ll be the first 5K race I’ve ever participated in and I’m doublely excited, because I’ve signed up as a group with some of my friends and it’s a color marathon, which just sounds fun.

Actually, I think that’s more than half the list. As I said, I was completely transparent and I’m really passionate about achieving the above goals. As I was writing my “30 Before 30” list, I was putting things like “Live on an island for a year” or  “Ride First Class on an airplane”; crazy, situational things that would be fun to experience, but may not necessarily grow me as a person. And who says that I can’t choose to live on an island when I’m 36? What would I be doing on that island to benefit myself and others? These are the types of things I’m starting to think about. But I also want to know your opinions. Have you ever written a “…Things to do Before I’m…” list? What do you think about the “One Day I will…” list in comparison? Looking forward to your answers.

“One Day I will find the right words and they will be simple.” – Jack Kerouac

in-pursuit-of-financial-freedom-logo-2When I was in college, I had this crazy idea that I’d be rid of my student loan debt by the time I was 25. It wasn’t so much an unrealistic expectation so much as a goal I’d mentality established for myself. Now that I’m 23 with a little less than a year and a half until my 25th birthday I think about how impossible it would be for me to pay off all of my student loans in basically a year’s time. But is it really as crazy a goal as I think it is? The other day I was reading an article about a college grad who had decided to run 1,000 miles in order to pay off his student loans. Reading his story linked me to other people’s stories and literally opened my eyes to how little I’m actually doing in order to pay back my student loans.

From today onward I want to start doing a little more to get myself debt-free. Actually not just a little more, I want to do a lot more. I want to take up this challenge, this goal, that I set up for myself back in college and I want to become debt-free by my 25th birthday. I know that this may seem a tab contradictory to the post I wrote not even an hour ago (it makes full sense in my head for some reason). Sure enough if I do decide to go through with this goal, I can kiss grad school good-bye, but I feel like this is something that I just have to do. My student loan debts are probably just south of $30,000, maybe even closer to $25,000 if I add them all up where they currently stand. That’s a lot of money, but it’s also not impossible to pay it all back if I work hard at it. One thing that I absolutely loved about China is how hard-working people are there. The cost-of-living is lower than ours here in America and many people work for pennies on the dollar, but they work twice, maybe even three times, as hard as the average American for the money that they do make. How inspiring.

The first thing I need to do in order to get my goal on its way is obtain a second job. That’d just be amazing if I had two forms of income coming in every month. I’m getting misty eyed just thinking about the possibilities. Then, of course, I could always sell things online. One of the things I seriously hate about living in my parents’ house has to be all of the junk that has accumulated over the 20-plus years we’ve lived here. Our house feels like a mix between a warehouse and a storage facility and sometimes I feel like I have to just numb myself to the clutter in order to survive. I’m definitely planning on selling a lot of my stuff off. Craiglist, yard sales, it’s gotta go. I’d like the yard sale thing to be a family thing, and sure enough two of my aunts are on board, but I made the mistake of mentioning a yard sale to my mom once and her reply was a very curt, “There’s nothing of mine that I either want or need to sell.” Sure about that? Your youngest daughter is about to graduated from high school and yet there’s still a doll house in the downstairs guest room. It made me quirk an eyebrow when she said that, but I didn’t expect anything less. My parents aren’t as um…financially aware as I am.

Whenever I see dollar signs in our house, they see unwanted change. It’s a pain to deal with their lack of financial prowess, but according to Forbes’ second golden rule on living the good life, I have to “worry only about the things that are in [my] controlthe things that can be influenced and changed by [my] actions, not about the things that are beyond [my] capacity to direct or alter“. I definitely can’t change my parents’ financial situation or do anything more than encourage them to plan better, but with great certainty, I can focus on getting my financial life together and I look forward to documenting every step of the way.