Thursday, October 30, 2014

Together

I took this about two years ago, and felt like sharing. On another note, I'll be travelling so no posts for about a week. But I'll be back! 


Monday, October 27, 2014

Platonic Friendship; Fact or Fiction?


"Oh, my God, you guys are so cute! How long have you been together?"
Cue awkward silence.

Unfortunately for many of us who have friends of the opposite gender, these are the kinds of questions we get regularly. Personally, I've been getting them for about eight or nine years now, and you'd think I'd be used to it by now; but I'm still prompted to launch into a speech explaining my life choices to people who don't really need to know.

Where does this pressure on a platonic friendship come from? Television sets an example, definitely. We've all seen plenty of movies where the guy and the girl have been friends for ages, and then suddenly realise that they're meant for each other. Not going to lie, I love those movies, as do many other people I know. Relationships born out of friendships are pretty awesome and (in most cases) end up working out pretty well. But then again, we've also seen movies where a charming next door neighbour suddenly sprouts serial-killer tendencies, and yet we don't walk around constantly afraid of those who live around us, do we?

Another thing that inevitably ends up happening is that the people around this pair end up doing a lot of questioning, and in some cases absolutely cannot comprehend how two people who get along so well haven't ended up 'together together'. Especially so when significant others of a slightly more insecure nature come along. Everyone has insecurities; you do, I do, we all do; but we're characterised by how we choose to deal with them. An insecure girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse who feels uncomfortable with their significant other having such friendships can inevitably end up becoming a source of tension within the friendship itself.

Yet, while I've heard some people remain absolutely convinced that a platonic friendship cannot remain so after one or both of the friends start a relationship with other people, I've personally witnessed friends who've stayed as close as they were even after these relationships start. In most of these friendships, the significant others were completely fine, and even encouraged these friendships. Like I said, everyone has insecurities, but being able to move on from them to a place of self-confidence and trust is a healthy step indeed.

See, it's not that platonic friends don't recognise that there is potential for something different in their relationship. Many friends do realise that their friendship could go in another direction, while some friends know that that'd never happen in a million years. But it's important for everyone involved to realise that just because potential exists doesn't make a situation inevitable. If that were so, everyone would be attracted to everyone else based on their sexuality, and no relationship would be completely monogamous because potential lies everywhere; it's how we choose to deal with it that defines us.

So, no, I'm definitely not saying that people should absolutely stop thinking that a platonic friendship could transition into a romantic relationship. It could, and it does quite often. I'm just saying that when someone says that they're 'just friends', you should trust them.

Have a great Monday everyone!




Saturday, October 25, 2014

It's Happening Now

Here's the second post from one of my guest bloggers, Aniqah Khalid. Enjoy!

I sometimes have the ability to be completely ungrateful for what life has to offer me at that particular moment in time. I have this disgusting habit of wanting a whole different personality, a different moment and a different life all together. Here I have spoken the raw truth that almost every other person feels. It is what makes us human, the mistakes we make consciously and subconsciously.

My journey in life is to live in the moment. Some people have big goals for themselves; end world poverty, travel the world, become a successful business mogul, yet we fully ignore the most important character in this story of life. Make you your goal. Have other goals too, of course, but in your journey to success, do not neglect yourself.

I have an inexplicable way of papering over cracks. I tend to try and stuff irrelevant things into empty spaces in my life. I have now made it my goal to feel the emptiness of those spaces. Life never promised us complete and absolute happiness, that is an unachievable utopia. It's okay to feel whatever life has to offer to you. It's moments like these that make us who we are. We are molded into the strongest version we have the ability to be.

Live in the moment, no matter what that moment has to offer. Fully embrace life and let life embrace you.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

What a Liberal Arts Education Taught Me

This was something that was compiled by a friend and myself earlier this year, and it needed sharing. A lot of these seem Sewanee specific (and are), but are definitely applicable to most! Feel free to comment if there's anything you'd like to add!

- Infinity comes in many sizes.

- Question EVERYTHING. (Every class, especially Philosophy, Psychology and surprisingly, Spanish).

- Some answers don’t exist: that’s not the point. The question is what matters.

- Things fit together in strange ways; look for patterns and overarching themes.

- School has taught you wrong before, but that’s ok. Relearning is good for you.

- If you don’t do it yourself, it’ll never mean anything.

- Some textbooks are worth holding on to.

- “It’s a required course, not in my major” is NO excuse. It’s an opportunity.

- Go to Career Services.

- You might not win, but you should have learned something at the very least.

- Network!

- You did not do all this work just to be a waitress.

- Celebrate with friends and ALWAYS have a token to remember it.

- Misery is a great equalizer. Bond over it, and suddenly the bad places are full of great memories.

- Make do (especially in dorm kitchens).

- Procrastinating and taking the easy way out is fine if it works for you, but don’t be surprised when it bites you in the ass. And DO NOT complain. It’s your fault.

- The friends you make freshmen year aren't necessarily going to be your best friends forever.

- Sometimes the previous statement is (THANKFULLY) false.

- Say hi to people in the halls and on the sidewalk and in line at Clurg (our dining hall). It’s actually LESS awkward than not saying hi (especially if it’s the same person multiple times a day for 4 years straight) and it can lead to some new friends.

- Knock on doors and come in if they say so, even if you don’t know them. It might end well.

- Everyone could be your friend. Just start with the assumption that they are, and act accordingly.

- If you plan to sell back your textbooks, do it ASAP. Not 3 years later.

- SAVE EVERYTHING. Constantly. On flash drives. And in the cloud. Not just papers, either! Pictures too! And save papers for longer than the semester. You might want those poems one day. And you never know when someone will want to see what you did while in college.

-Read the University’s emails.

- Empty your inbox!

- Spend at least one break on campus. Then appreciate every chance you get to go home even more.

- Take a break with friends!

- Use your summers wisely.

- Go on the SOP trips, try community service (even if you don’t have to).

-Seemingly random events usually have delicious food (that's free) and awesome people you may never meet otherwise.

- Do Homecoming stuff. Every year.

- The book store is a rip-off. But it’s always got your back.

- Get a lightweight, durable laptop that you can fit in your bag, carry around all day, and has a long enough battery to last through 3 classes.

- Make study guides.

- Make friends with Res Life, dorm staff, custodians, repairmen, etc.

- Throw out trash on thursdays so it doesn't sit in the hall from Friday to Monday, stinking the place up!

- Write notes in your textbooks and DIRECTLY onto the handouts teachers give you.

- Not all handouts are worth holding on to.

- Always have a liner in the trashcan. Trust me.

- It’s ok if midnight (or later) is your best time for getting homework done as long as you spend the rest of the day being equally productive.

- Cool names for classes can be deceiving.

- When you rip your pants, everyone will remember. Let's hope they’re friends.

-Don't be afraid to look for friendship within yourself.

-Wine is the best.

-Hold on to family and remember that they’re important.

-Rejoice over the friends who've stayed with you for years and years; but let go of those it’s time to move on from.

-Love is hard, and difficult to let go of.

-It IS possible to have a platonic male friend!!!!

-The most challenging courses will be the most rewarding.

-Sometimes, it’s okay to get a B.

-It’s absolutely worth it to help someone smile through their tears.

-When a friend is going through a hard time, you may not know what to do, but the important thing is them knowing that you love them.

-It’s amazing knowing that something that has the potential to turn into a huge fight can turn into something that makes friends closer.

-Sometimes, you can’t be mad at those you love even if you try.

-Go to events without your friends! You’ll be surprised at what you find.

-Stirling’s (a coffeehouse on the Sewanee campus), and all that happens there, will be a constant in everyone's memories for years to come.

-Sometimes, friends go crazy and splash in puddles. THAT’S OKAY! Just make sure to help them dry off later so they don’t fall sick.

-Sometimes, friends go crazy and take it out on you. THAT’S OKAY TOO! They wouldn’t show that side to you if they didn’t love you, and it’ll give both of you a healthier appreciation of yourself.

-You CAN actually cook!

-But often, your friends can cook better.

-Sometimes, the people you weren't as close to at the beginning will become your best of friends.

-And sometimes, the people you hit it off with at the beginning will be the best of friends too!

-Sometimes, it’s okay not to be friends with someone. Relationships need to be founded on genuinity, and it’s fine not to force it.

-Being the bigger person is definitely worth it.

-Certain schools of thought believe that we imagine the world…

-Don’t be lazy...really, don’t.

-Gift giving can be SO rewarding.

-Don’t stretch yourself thin….you’ll break down at the worst times possible.

-Everyone is beautiful in their own way.

-People will be creepers from time to time. 

-Just because people are crazy as heck doesn't mean that we can't love them.

-Senior year goes by really, really fast; make sure to enjoy every moment and take LOTS of pictures!

-Make sure to explore the area outside your campus; there are probably lots of cool places you might've never known existed!

-Don't be afraid to ask your professors for help. They're there to help, and will appreciate you making an effort.

-Push yourself out of your comfort zone. It'll be scary at first, but definitely worth it!

-Internships are more important than you'd ever imagine.

-Following your dreams is the best goal there is...but you have to learn practical skills to get there.

-If you tell your professor you're sick, don't offer to babysit for them the next day.

-Get to know the people who're in years above and below you. Friendship does not need to be restricted to the people in your year alone.


-Remember; you can't skip a class when the professor is your neighbour and always goes to the dining hall.


-Liberal arts applies to one's entire existence of the world and all of the accumulated, general knowledge leading up to your time. Do not scorn any class because someone had to discover and produce the knowledge you are learning!


-Also, just because you're a "college student" doesn't mean you're not a kid, or that you should take yourself too seriously. You have to learn to let the kid in yourself out, and be young, and occasionally not make the most responsible decisions. This coming from a fairly straight-laced person: you are a college student. Make a few bad (or at least, unforeseen) choices!


Monday, October 20, 2014

Back to Health


When I was 16, I used to go to the gym three times a week for one and a half hours each time, right after school. As an added bonus, I went in right after the afternoon rush had died down, and before the evening rush got in, so the trainer was able to focus on me and build me a workout programme (that he then made sure I did, no matter how tired I was...). Sure, I wasn't going to be running any marathons any time soon. However, after that one year, I stopped being regular with my health. I'd get random 'work out fevers' where I'd work out a few times a week, but these would only last a few weeks at most, and even then, I probably didn't do most of them correctly.

Because of this, no one was more surprised than I was when around two months ago I started a workout regime that I've actually been dedicated to. I started off with a simple yoga routine, initially doing it every weekday. I've built up on this routine, and as of about a few weeks ago, I now do this every day. If I absolutely cannot, I still try and get in about 10-12 minutes. I added a new dimension to this as a personal 30-day challenge; separate from my yoga routine, I do various exercises such as push ups (they kill me), crunches and squats, and increase the amount I do everyday.

It hasn't even been two months yet, and I'm already noticing some differences that my new (and hopefully sustainable) routine has brought. My level of personal discipline is at an all time high. There are many days when I think that I'd rather just keep doing whatever I'm doing, and that I can always work out 'later' or 'tomorrow', or that I'm too busy too work out just then. Luckily, I'm now able to recognise my excuses for what they are, and I force myself to get up and do something. Earlier, and in previous years, when the going got tough I'd stop the work out, or tone it down significantly, but I've learnt to differentiate between good pain and bad pain, and to keep working through the former. I used to ask my friends and family to 'make sure I worked out', but now I'm able to quite successfully motivate myself. Also, there's a definite change in muscle tone (hurrah!). Sure, I'm not 16 anymore, but I'm feeling a lot healthier than I have in years. I used to have knee pain that'd actually travel up my back for a few years; not always, but it was uncomfortable when it happened and made going to bed especially quite a pain. This has definitely gone down, and while it still happens from time to time, it's nowhere near as constant or as bad as it used to be.

Yoga's also definitely helping me still my mind more than I ever could. The practices that I do require focus, and while this isn't always easy, I'm getting there. A trick I use is to bring my thoughts 'back into the room'. If I find myself thinking about something I'm supposed to do, an idea for a blog post, or anything at all that isn't related to my workout, I make a note of it and bring my focus back into the room. Both the daily workouts I do are also making me a lot more aware of my body. So even when I'm not working out, I'm trying to maintain correct posture, or if I'm lifting something I do it right. I find myself looking up correct ways to do these exercises, which is something that I'd never really done before.

Honestly, if I knew that having a regular work out regime would be so beneficial, I'd have started a long time ago and kept at it. Hindsight is 20/20, right? Cliched as it may seem, better late than never!



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Life and Loss

Today, I'll be featuring a guest blogger, who also happens to be one of my closest friends. He recently experienced the loss of someone very dear to him, and articulated his feelings in ways that I felt needed to be shared. Take some time to appreciate the people in your lives, because we can never fully appreciate how important life is until it's gone.


       
Shock. Shock and disbelief is what I felt when I received a phone call informing me that a very close childhood friend of mine passed away. It's been close to a month now and I'm still not sure if the full impact of his loss has really hit home yet. I had just finished my last class on a Thursday and was on my way to a coffee shop near my apartment when my cell phone rang. It was my friend Jordan's number. Usually when he called me it was to ask if I was in to town or when I might be able to hang out. I had received an unusual voicemail earlier that day from his mother, sent from his phone, telling me to call her back, so I knew that this probably wouldn't be one of our regular calls. My first thought as I stared at the name flashing on my phone was that my friend had fallen gravely ill, but a well-intentioned reminder imparted to me a few years before loomed in the back of my head. "You know, people with his condition often don't live much into their late twenties or thirties, son," my mother said, one evening as the sun was setting and Jordan pulled out of our driveway. He had begun feeling bad and had to head home for the night. I decided to research it myself and was foolishly reassured by a web page that claimed, due to medical advances, that people with my friend's condition frequently lived more normal lives than when my mother grew up. I know now that I had completely missed the point that my mom was trying to make that evening. 

You see, my buddy Jordan inherited a rare disease known as Sickle-cell Anaemia, and for the majority of his young life he fought it with mixed results. Sometimes he seemed like he was on the verge of beating his disease back enough to lead a somewhat healthy, normal life, more often, however, he suffered frequent and severe bouts of pain, and he spent many hours in hospitals and waiting rooms. Years of various surgical procedures, experimental medicines, and outmatched medical care yielded small victories often followed by discouraging setbacks. I had seen my friend go from lively and energetic to wheelchair and oxygen bound and back again. Still, nothing could have prepared me for the news his mother delivered to me on that sunny Thursday afternoon. I continued my walk to the coffee shop because, frankly, I had no idea what else to do. I walked in, placed my order to the barista, and sat down. The local high school had obviously just finished for the day and the crowd began to build a bit in the shop, and all I wanted to do was stand up and yell. I didn't even know what I would yell, I just wanted to do it to let something out because there was no way I could just sit there quietly forever. My better judgement took hold, and I immediately began texting my closest friends and people I knew who had known Jordan through me. At least they would have some idea of what a loss this was, not so much for me, but more for anyone who never got to meet him. My friends came through for me, of course, and I made it through the following weeks with the better part of my sanity intact. I have a few parting thoughts that occur to me as I think back on the events of my dark September.

First, I think that death often has an odd way of making us look on a person more favorably. No one ever goes to a funeral and says "well ya know, it sucks that he died, but he was kind of a jerk to his wife and kids anyways." We try to look for those things worth celebrating in a person and focus on those things, while many people may keep the other things in the back of their minds, no one wants to bring it up as the final impression one leaves on this earth. I imagine if you live long enough it can all get to be a bit hypocritical and tiring, although it also depends on the type of people you surround yourself with in your life. I say that to make this point. It really drove the loss home for me as I sat in my friend's service and realized that no one had to focus on one single good trait of Jordan's because my friend was truly a wonderful person.

Second, I realize now that my mom, when she reminded me of the grave nature of my friends condition, was not necessarily trying to mentally prepare me for a situation such as the one that I recently faced. I believe she wanted me to understand that my time with him was truly precious, and that I should enjoy it as much as I can. I had always thought she was just trying to get me ready for the worst, and so I looked for a different point of view elsewhere and kept my hopes up. Thinking back on it, I wish I had seen what she was really trying to tell me, because there are so many things now that I wish I had done with Jordan when I had the chance.

To close, I think that if anything can be gotten out of this, for me, it's this simple lesson. Don't let opportunities to share something new and exciting with a friend pass you by. If it's out of your comfort zone, take a chance, take a risk, do it anyways, not because your friend may not always be there, but because they are there now, and so are you, and the moment will only pass you by if you let it, and after it's gone you can never get it back no matter how many times you try to replay what could have been in your head. Our friends and family and the memories we make with them are our greatest and most lasting treasures. And for God's sake, take a picture or two. Trust me on this one, it seems silly and obnoxious at the time, but you'll always be glad you did it later.

-R.L.J

Monday, October 13, 2014

7 Ways of Effectively Getting the Point Across

Phone calls and emails have become important ways of communication in the digital age that we live in. This means that a lot of times, we need to call or email people we either do not know very well, or do not know at all. This isn't as easy as it would be addressing a known colleague, client or friend, and many times, we fail to get our point across effectively; which in turn means that we may fail to get the results we were hoping to get.
I thought I'd share some of the tips that I've come across or that others have given me over the years, in the hope that they may help you too!

1) Effective introduction. Whether this is a subject line for an email, or the first sentence or two in a phone call, make sure that it is clear and captivating (not in the Lord of the Rings sense, but in the sense that it doesn't make the other person doze off). You don't want to lose your potential audience even before you start. So, if you're calling to find out whether someone is attending an event at your workplace, be sure to state your name, the place you're calling from, and what you want. For example, "Hi, this is Zoe from (insert organisation name), calling about the meet-and-greet at (reinsert organisation name)." If it's an email, it'd be appropriate to have a subject line that had the name of the event and it's date. You catch my drift.

2) Be concise. When sending an email, don't write a whole story. Get to the point quickly and clearly, and avoid repeating yourself too much. If you bore your audience, they'll be less inclined to listen to what you're trying to say. The same goes with phone calls; try to get to the point as quickly as you can. If the other person draws you into conversation, fine. But do not try to impose yourself on others' time, especially if you're calling during business hours. Most everyone has something else that they'd rather be doing.

3) Use the person's name. You'll have to judge for yourself whether to address the person you're calling/emailing by their first name or by a title such as Ms. or Dr., but make sure you use their name well. People often like the sound of their own name, and if you use it at the beginning, middle and end of a conversation, they'll feel special and slightly more inclined to hear what you have to say. Of course, make sure you don't overdo it, especially so if the conversation is short. On another note, on a phone call, if you are unsure about pronunciation, ask! It's better to apologize for mispronouncing and ask them to correct you rather than butchering their name the whole conversation through.

4) Go slow. On a phone call, be sure to talk at a slower pace than you normally would. Keep in mind that sometimes phones aren't all too clear, there may be background noise, and the person may just not be used to the way you talk. Rather than rush through and have to repeat yourself all over again, which has happened to me more times than I can remember, it's better to pace yourself from the beginning.

5) Grammar! Be it a phone call or an email, make sure you're being grammatically correct in whatever language you'll be using. (Almost) nothing irks people more than a professional email with misplaced full stops and apostrophes, and I know I'm one of them. Plus, bad grammar and language usage can give a terrible first impression, which is not helpful if you're hoping to deal with the person again.

6) Be situation appropriate. The tone of your email and your phone call should reflect your position, the position of the other person, what you're getting in touch about and how well the two of you know each other. You'd hardly (I hope) send an email to a CEO with 'lol' and smiley faces littered throughout (unless they were related to you I guess).

7) Be polite. Better to err on the side of caution than offend someone. Use please, sorry and thank you as necessary, and give the other person the respect they're due, no matter who they are.

Enjoyed this post? Don't forget to comment, follow this blog, or reach out to me on twitter @roshwalia !

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Readers' Choice

Over the past few days and weeks, I've tried to be more regular with my writing. I've covered a wide range of topics, but I thought I'd take a chance to ask you, my readers, what would you like to hear about from me?

Feel free to comment on this post, or reach out to me on twitter (@roshwalia) with your requests! (Don't forget to follow this blog)!

Have a fantastic day, and keep living, loving and laughing.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Wellness Routine

I guess I recently discovered the importance of a sort of 'wellness routine', so to speak. Different things work for different people, but I thought I'd share what I've recently found to work for me (aside from obvious things like eating healthy and drinking plenty of water). Maybe putting it on here will help me be more regular, motivate others, and help me learn more!

1) Green tea: Okay, I couldn't believe how easy this one is. I've always liked the taste of green tea, and tried to drink it often. It's only recently that I've started having a mug or two of this every day, and I know it does me a bucket-load of good. Read more about the benefits here http://inspiyr.com/health-benefits-of-green-tea/



2) Activity: Those who know me know I'm not the most active of people. Over the years, I've tried many different workout routines, but none have really stuck. Sure, I'm from Kenya, but running isn't really what I'd call one of my greatest skills. I've had the Pocket Yoga and Nike Training Club apps for a few years, but only just started to get regular with them. So what I usually do is about half an hour of a yoga routine every weekday, and try do a Nike Training Club workout as often as I can. The thing I love about these apps is that they can work for everybody, no matter what skill level they are at, and they have lots of variety. Pocket Yoga is easy to follow, and has about a few different routines that one can do. Nike Training Club incorporates yoga, cardio, and many different sorts of workouts at different levels, some designed by well known trainers, and it's easy to select and work toward goals!

I haven't been regular for too long, so I can't say whether I'm physically healthier already. But I'm definitely noticing that after each workout, I'm less tired, more motivated, and noticeably happier. Yay endorphins! Check out more about how exercise can help reduce stress here Stress Management with Exercise



3) Meditation: So I might not be the best at this, or do it everyday, but I'm trying to do this more often, for about five or ten minutes at a time, and it's getting easier. Want to learn more about how great this can be? Check out Benefits of Meditation. Am I going to be a meditation ninja who can stay still and quiet for hours at a time? No, probably not. I'll be happy with just a few minutes a day!
I love this picture that I found via Health Central



4) Laughing: This is so, so important. If I'm working, I'll take five minute breaks to watch funny videos just to make myself laugh. Laugh often, and laugh well. It'll actually go a long way into making you a happier and less stressed person overall.

5) Reading: I'm trying my hand at reading more non-fictional stuff... expand the mind, keep learning and all that. Right now, I'm working on Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Next, I think I want to read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

6) Brain training: Just a couple of minutes a day can go a long way into preserving your mental health. There are various ways to train, like doing sudoku or puzzles, but I've recently grown fond of brain training apps, Lumosity in particular. I also like Fit Brains; there's more detail, but you also have to pay more for specific areas, so it really depends on what you're going for.

7) Writing: Whether this is a private diary, a public blog, or a combination of both, I find that writing helps my mind in so many ways. You get to explore yourself more, learn to manage your emotions, and have an outlet for your creativity.

8) Increase positivity: For me, I do this by having a 'good memories' jar, and I write down good things that have happened to me that day, maybe something that made me laugh or something that I'm grateful for. Opening this from time to time is a great way to spend time!! (Unfortunately, right now, my jar is in Tennessee and I'm in Iowa... but I'll get it back end of this month)!

Hope this helps in some way... have a healthy day all!

Liked this post? Don't forget to post a comment, reach out to me via Twitter @roshwalia or follow this blog!


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Change


Change is a good thing, but it's also a scary thing sometimes. Often times, change happens to us, we go along with it, and make the best of it.  Sometimes though, we initiate change in some ways, and use this change as a vessel to change other things. For me, this second type of change took the form of a new haircut last week. Sure, this doesn't seem like a big thing to most of you, but it was kind of symbolic of all the other things that are changing in my life right now. Being in a new town, in a new role, and undergoing some lifestyle changes, I thought it might be useful to change something that I could actually see (and somehow control I guess).

 I've had long locks for about 9 years now, and so chopping off about 8 inches (which I did use to donate to cancer patients, hurrah), was kind of terrifying at first. But with the support of my wonderful hairdresser (Modern Strands) and awesome sister, I went ahead and did it.

Before:
After: 
Whoa! I know! Whole different person (almost), right? 

Change is really the best word to sum up these past few months for me. At this point, I figured that I would be working full time for a firm in Nashville, living in a flat of my own and able to see most of my friends pretty often. Reality has found me working as an independent marketing consultant near Des Moines, Iowa, living with my sister, and growing in ways I'd never imagined. More than ever, this period has prepared me for the inevitability of the change that is yet to come my way, and that despite our best efforts at planning, sometimes life has a way of throwing surprises our way. 
And these surprises aren't always bad. Change might often be something I can't control, but I'm learning to ride the wave and make the best of it. This month marks the longest time I've spent with family in about four years. Despite being physically far from many of my friends, I'm finding that most of my friendships are actually growing and evolving in beautiful ways. 

I reached out to some people about changes they made or encountered within the past year, and these are some of the stories I heard:

For the first time outside of a semi-academic setting, I've experienced what it's like to be a regular somewhere, as well as everything that comes with that territory--the good and the not-so good. My new role has brought me friends, mainly in those behind the counter--Renee, Willie, Allie, Lulu. What this means is that I feel a following of excitement when I consider the thought of adopting a dog, but also more humiliation when I do something silly in front of them. A non-regular would be excused without a thought, but a regular gets the full embarrassment treatment. There really is value in the support that you get, far beyond the food perks and for that, I'm thankful. Routines aren't all bad.
C.H.

It is strange, though expected, that my self conception could become so dependent on another. Almost five years spent laughing, eating, sleeping with one young woman. Such formative years too. Entering a relationship as an overgrown boy and leaving now as a young, forlorn, half-empty man. I do not quite know who I am without her. What is my driving love, my constant reference? Now I must know myself completely because there is no longer someone to know me for me, to understand who I am for me. I don’t find the answers in comfort. Comfort only eases the sharpness of not knowing. To redefine I must reengage, challenge, and explore. I need to top out on a huge crag, or, better yet, take a huge fall right at the last bolt. I need to deepen my relationships with friends; find depth through vulnerability. No longer can I look to someone as an intimate anchor to define me and hold me. Such things are beautiful and wholesome, but I have lost that now, and must grasp and shape who I am as I am: alone. 
A.T.

After a period of traveling around the world to work and to write, I've finally come home to be with friends and family again. It's jolting to realize just how much of an effect a routine can have, how comforting it can be to see the same people everyday. I thought that I was meant to travel a lot, that I was a free spirit who couldn't be in just one placed. But after coming back home, and reconnecting with someone important in my life, I'm beginning to realize that change has a way of working out for the best regardless of what I think.
K.T.


I recently moved to San Francisco from Alabama. I left college in the south and the easy security of living with my parents to experience for the first time a life of (mostly) financial independence in a new city across the continent, working . Change has been the definition of my last month, and honestly every moment there is a quiet anxiety buzzing in the back of my head. Everything for this first month has been tinged in uncertainty, from how to get to work or home, to how to manage work, or even how go out and find new friends in a foreign place. This level of uncertainty can create anxiety, fear, and possibly even paralysis if we let it. What I have learned from this phase in my life, and am still learning every day, is that although change may create challenges and anxiety, it also presents us with opportunities to develop through new experiences. Change is an opportunity for us to learn how to adapt, and to improve ourselves by surmounting the obstacles we are presented with. Throughout these times of change, it is important to constantly re-frame our anxieties in a positive way, and remind ourselves that we can only improve as human beings by being consistently challenged. Change can be scary, but if we let that fear paralyze us, then we can never develop to our full potential. 
The great and beautiful thing is that change will always be present in our life--there will always be uncomfortable moments of uncertainty, and there will always be adjustments to be made and challenges to overcome. Although that may sound less than amazing, with that change comes a guarantee that we will be constantly forced to be stronger, more adaptable, and happier overall as we experience a life that is full of new excitements, surprises, and possible horizons to explore. 
Wesley White

The most blatant change I’ve faced in the past year would be a sort of combination of events occurring in tandem. After graduating in may from a tight-knit undergraduate university in rural Tennessee, I packed up and moved. Many people move after graduation, for me this was a radical change and a giant adventure. My move took me to Dublin, Ireland with my boyfriend of four years. This is our first time living together, my first apartment, and the biggest distance from my home I’ve ever lived. Dublin has been home for a bit over a month; long enough to know what some of the following Irish slang phrases mean…(“that’ll be grand,” “that was gas,” “it’s good craic,” “let’s have a chat over a pint at the pub”). At this point, my graduate classes have been on for two weeks and I feel like I’m in the right place. So how have I dealt with this change? Planning as much as I can, and knowing that no matter what, every problem can be solved and if it can’t, it can be understood and learned from. The support from my family and friends has lifted me to feel confident facing this adventure with little to no fear. In addition, the brevity of a year really makes the experience one to enjoy whole-heartedly for this is an opportunity that is worth embracing and making the most of, really one year is a blip in the grand scheme of life.
J.D.

Here is a change I initiated this past year: I backpacked around the world for six months...with my two teenagers. Why? Because traveling is CONSTANT change, and change can be strengthening, pattern-bashing, and educational. The best education that Larry and I could give them was to learn from the world, see its diversity, experience its complexity, comforts, and discomforts (physically, mentally, and spiritually)...and to learn to embrace change gracefully and skillfully. The good news is that we all got really good at change; the bad news is that it was hard to return to our lives that were more change-less. Yet, because of miraculous human adaptability, we have settled into this new pattern of being after a few months. BUT, I hope that we will be ever-ready to accept, embrace, and instigate change at a moment's notice, now that we have practice...
Elizabeth W.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fear and Wings

"“Be like the bird, pausing in its flight
On limb too slight,
Feels it give way, yet sings,
Knowing it has wings.”
 -Victor Hugo

(Personally, birds themselves scare me. Yet I understand and appreciate their symbolism, and am not averse to their artistic representations).



Fear. It guides us, motivates us, and at times, rules us. As members of an intelligent species that has established itself as the ruler of this planet, we still find much to fear. I think that one of the amazing things about us is that we are not yet aware of how much we let our fears control us.
Fear of rejection, fear of death, fear of loneliness... these are just some of the common ones that we face.

Goodness knows that I'm afraid of many things far more important (to me) than birds, and I haven't even begun to explore these yet. But I do know that I fear an uncertain future, and I'm trying to confront this as best as I can.

I'm not psychic, and as far as I know, not many people are. I'll take the liberty of saying that no one knows what the future holds for them, and this can be scary as hell.

We all have so many different wings, and will truly know what it means to be fearless once we take the jump and learn to fly.


First image courtesy of SplitShire

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