October 29, 2013

Privacy Cravings: The Sacred (Part 1)

For most of my years, I have considered myself pretty open about my life; there are things that I won't necessarily shout from the rooftops, but neither will I deny it if anyone asks. What exactly do I have to hide? Yet in this digital age where it's possible for people to document their lives on a minute by minute basis, whether it be through pictures, tweets or statuses, part of me now suddenly finds myself shrinking back when it comes to updating on "real time." I can't pinpoint a specific reason exactly; it's not that I totally want to disengage from technology, because I do consider Facebook and Twitter to be positive forces when used appropriately. But when online platforms somehow morph into online diaries  (which happened a lot when I was a teenager), then it becomes a problem. 

Recently, there was a bit of an uproar in regards to this subject: there were a period of days where at least one person would say something along the lines of "I hate it when people post..." almost to where it turned into a laugh-out-loud rant. Then I came across 7 Ways To Be Insufferable on Facebook which I might have considered interesting had it not come across as conceited and taken on a holier than thou tone. Everybody that engages in social networking will say or do something ridiculous and most likely more than once. Demanding that users do or stop doing things because supposedly "nobody likes it" is not going to produce change. While I'll agree that there are things better left off the world wide web, I cannot control it. It's actually rather simple: if you don't like it, don't look at it. And if a person is going to take trivial stuff that seriously, perhaps the problem isn't just other internet users. 

However, there are times where I see something and wonder not about the actual post, but the motivation behind it. Do some users update Twitter and Facebook because they genuinely care about the subject, or is it just for the sake of reaction? I'm not as concerned with the political fiends or the gym buffs, but more so with the romantics. There's no shame in applauding your significant other/spouse in regards to their achievements and your milestones together. On the other hand, when you constantly proclaim your love over the internet, whether it be literally or giving a detailed synopsis about what you did that day, I scratch my head. What are you trying to prove? 

I understand that not everyone has the same views on how to treat a relationship, but I'd like to think that connection and possibly real love is fostered face to face, not screen to screen. When you constantly broadcast details that should remain between you and that person, it suddenly becomes everyone else's business; as much as they shouldn't be nosy, anything that goes online is almost fair game for criticism or questioning. Being able to distinguish the difference between gratitude/humbleness and a honeymoon-like phase probably makes it easier to stay rooted in what matters. 

With that being said, I wonder if it's a bad thing if I choose not to share every single detail, not necessarily just online, but also in terms of "gushing" around friends. I'm definitely a believer in vulnerability, but dissecting the event or a conversation is not going to get anywhere. Overall, I'm just really selective now a days about who I confide in; it really depends on that person's attitude. 

Lately, I'm more focused on my social media profiles being positive and encouraging to others. When used in a healthy amount and for the right reasons, Facebook and Twitter can be a good thing. As a writer, it's very important for me to be active in using the internet in order to get my name out there. I've connected with a lot of people through things like LinkedIn, and ultimately it has given me a lot of insight in terms of the career path that I want to take, which I might not have found otherwise. 

But it's not just about what you post/upload, but when. It's almost normal to take a picture and then spend five to ten minutes afterward trying to put it on instagram. Tweets document the most trivial stuff in regards to when and where something is taking place. In my personal opinion, the worst is hearing the news of a loved one's passing on Facebook before getting a phone call or text. I say that because I've been on the tail end of it several times, and it's all the more devastating, not to mention inappropriate.

I'm not saying that it's ultimately a bad thing to share photos or news with others, especially those you don't get to see often. Rather, I think sharing right away often takes away from the sacredness and beauty of the moment, because then it becomes more about presentation then anything else. Instead of trying to keep everyone else in "real time" focus on celebrating, mourning, or doing whatever you need to do with those that you're surrounded by. You have to be present in order to get the most out of an experience, or process something in a healthy way. The internet can wait, and it will still be there in the days and weeks to come. 

This is not meant to knock anyone down or demand change. This is more for the sake of pondering in an era that is largely based on virtual and constant connection. More so, I've learned that the number of views, likes, and comments is not going to fill you in the long run. If you take the time to put down your phone, get off the computer, and devote your attention to what's right in front of you, you'll eventually find out what will.  

October 21, 2013

Music Lovin' Monday

Keith Urban-Little Bit of Everything

-One of my current feel-good songs right now!

Wrecking Ball-Miley Cyrus and Mumford and Sons mash-up

-I'm definitely not a fan of the original "Wrecking Ball" but my friend showed me this at a party; personally, I think it's a genius version. 

Best I Ever Had-Gavin DeGraw

-Although he has become synonomous with a variety of songs from One Tree Hill, this is fresh and very catchy. 

Sheryl Crow-Homesick

-I'm torn in regards to how I feel about her suddenly "going country" as people like to call it. However, I read about this song in an issue of Country Weekly and when she described it, it seemed like something I could relate to. When I heard it my eyes started to water, because it was spot on. 

Wake Me Up-Avicci 

-This might just be the defining song of the semester, if not my senior year of college. 

All video credits go to Youtube; until next time!

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October 18, 2013

Life Lately: In Seasons

It's no secret that over the last couple of years, fall/autumn has become one of my favorite times of the year. While nature begins to slowly change and the air starts to chill, it's also a time where I feel incredibly close to the people around me. I've taken to calling in the "wrapped in a warm blanket" type feeling. Everything is just warm and cozy and comfortable.

These special (and somewhat sentimental) occasions are what keep me sane when the homework load gets heavy, or I experience a bout of senioritis like an overnight flu bug. My friends and I have celebrated a plethora of birthdays, went to an orchard/pumpkin farm and indulged in everything relating to pumpkins and apples (with a semi-photo shoot to boot), cried over the Cory Montieth tribute while watching Glee, and other memories that seem insignificant to the rest of the world. However, they mean the world to me.

As I look back on the fall season as a whole, I've noticed that it's when a lot of wonderful, crazy, and even life changing events have taken place. In the span of four or five years, I've met and found many of my closest friends, grew deeper in my faith, and learned how to deal with painful aspects of my history. And it suddenly occured to me that while some seasons are better than others, life truly does happen in seasons of love. 

It's not always deep conversations over wine or hot chocolate. Schedules are hectic, and there are weeks and days where prayer requests and "thinking of you" via text takes the place of bear hugs and face-to-face interaction. While I do believe in not letting to-do list's and school work dominate quality time, I'm beginning to understand the other side of the coin: it's not a matter of whether or not you want to, but whether or not you can without reaching the point of exhaustion. Right now I'm walking a thin line of packing so much in all at once. It's frustrating because on one hand I feel like I'm on a race against time, trying to make the most of every moment before it all runs out. On the other, that's all you really can do; appreciate the time you do get with people, even if it's small and insignificant when it's happening. 

That's where I've learned to appreciate random run-in's, where all you can do is exchange a hug and "how are you?" that lasts all of five minutes before you have to go to class or run to catch up with whomever. That's where I've not learned not to focus on what place somebody has in my life or try to be best friends when every person that I know. I'm not going to obsess over who has treated me right and who hasn't. It's just not worth the energy, especially now. 

Leaves turn. Things happen. Don't just measure good by what you have or what you can give, but how you grow.

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October 15, 2013

Poetic Wrestling

When I'm struggling or wrestling with something, I usually try to express myself through poetry before anything else. This stems from an incident that occurred not too long ago, and it's really making me look at my past choices in terms of the relationships I've had, as well as who and what I've allowed to be in my life. It has me frustrated and somewhat scared; however, It seems to be a matter that a lot of people can relate to. I don't know how long it will be before I write a blog about it, or even if I will. But for now, I'd like to share these words: 

Knowing, Learning, Needing 

What I know

Hey Boy
I see you in the crowds
In the dark corners, just waiting
Eyeing me the way a child looks at a favorite toy
You come over slowly, trying not to appear too eager
“Hey beautiful” or “hey sexy” instead of asking my name
And while I silently agree to dance with you
I refuse to spend the whole time running or fighting
That doesn’t mean my body is yours for the taking
I once traded dignity for kisses, but keep vowing not to anymore
But then your hands go where they don’t belong
Though in the moment I freeze, after I am furious and ashamed
I wish I could be brave instead of being tiny

Hey Boy
I see your pretty eyes glazed over from that beer
Our history written in the memories of wild shenanigans
You come off as selfish, careless, a wrecking ball
Both a blessing and a curse, I sense layers of pain in your life
Wanting to understand and relate to you
My compassionate heart views you as one who’s simply human
Maybe a little bit lost, but aren’t we all?
Still, I can only do so much to care for you without neglecting my needs
So I wait until we cross paths, then put my arms around you
Holding you close to me for a minute or two
As your whisper “hey girl” like I matter for the moment
Praying as you walk away
That I won’t ever get that life-altering telephone call

What I’m learning

Sweet man,
I don’t know if you’re in my life already or if the time has yet to come
Maybe you’re here, then again I once was wrong
I’m trying to be careful and not do anything foolish
Real love is not meant to be feared or avoided
But not to be taken lightly either
You’re the kind of man that I view with respect and admiration
The kind that motivates me to be the best that I can be
To be a better person
It’s not just about feelings, but how we treat and take care of each other
We’re not one above the other, but equals

What I need

It’s a battle when the voices of culture take place of God or intuition
There’s recognizing what you want, and more so what you need
Taking the steps to get there is the hardest part
Feeling blinded by the lack of example
Confused by all the advice
Sick of the same old song and dance
Wanting more
Yet still trying to shed what I’ve been raised in
I’ve had enough test runs

I've been created for the real thing
It's a matter of trust, letting go, and embracing it

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October 10, 2013

Through The Rain

I knew that he was gone when I saw faded glimpses of lightening flash behind us, followed by the low roar of thunder. It started to drizzle slightly, upon becoming a torrential downpour as the four of us made our way out of the concert arena and into the impossibly crowded parking lot. At one point the rain was coming down so hard that I had to shut my eyes in order to ease the sting of sweat, make-up, and water that were now seeping from my eyelids. I clung desperately to my mother with both hands, praying that I wouldn't slip or get knocked over or lose my glasses. Don't let go! Just get to the car....

In a way, that is how life has been for me,  particularly in the weeks and months after my friend's passing occurred. My lack of experience with loss was almost like walking in complete darkness. The inability to mourn and grieve freely caused both my mind and body to go into autopilot; after my family had gone to sleep, I would sit in my pitch black room and cry as quietly as I possible, or read the stories that were posted on his memory page until my head ached from staring at the computer for two hours straight. This went on for a week and a half until I got back to campus, the day of the funeral service.

I believed that once I could get away from my hometown, I would feel better. And in a way, I did; I had more people to talk to about it, but I can't remember how much we actually talked about it at first. And while it wasn't often because of busy work and summer class schedules, down the line I kind of started to hate rehashing the same thing over and over again. I wanted to move on, and yet the mere idea of it felt like betrayal.

Self-medication became the norm; when I wasn't with my friends, I tended to go out on the town alone, sometimes multiple nights in a row. It wasn't so much about the drinking as it was just being around others, even if a lot of them were strangers. I did meet quite a few of them, but rarely anything went beyond the dance floor, save one guy who got my number, texted me an hour later, and hasn't contacted me since then. It was the darker side of Cinderella, except I went to bars instead of a ball and walked out with an empty heart rather than a missing shoe.

But the levee gave way soon enough; during the first two weeks of August, I could barely function without something triggering a tear-fest. There were periods of time where I would just sit on my couch and cry, not knowing the reasons why or how to stop. In a way, they were the tears that I should have cried at home or even at the funeral.  At the urging of my grandparents, I finally made a motion to talk to one of the group leaders of Intervarsity; up until then I had gone out of my way to not talk to pastors or anyone involved in the organizations that I had been part of, at least regarding everything that was going on. I was terrified that I would just be met with a bunch of cliches about how my friend was in a better place, and that if I just kept praying, went to church, read Bible verses, etc. all the pain would go away. I didn't want any numbing cream with a Jesus-approved sticker, and I didn't want to risk the rejection. Unfortunately, I had gotten to where I couldn't keep silent without it eating me from the inside out.

It was a long and exhausting conversation; it didn't automatically make everything better, but it was the start of setting myself free from this emotional prison that I had kept myself locked in for weeks. Spiritually, I was practically bone-dry. I didn't know what to pray about exactly, but I did read the Bible and write when I felt the need to. On a very random morning,  I came across a verse that has practically spelled out where I was at: when my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then you knew my path (Psalm 142: 33).

It has been almost four months since, and I am not going to deny that I am a changed person because of it. I have a love hate/relationship with alcohol and I occasionally get angry when others seem to put getting drunk before their own safety or that of others. However, I do try to make the most of the time that I have with friends, and I feel like I'm getting better at figuring out what matters and what doesn't.  Looking back, I now have a deeper understand of why I felt and reacted the way that I did:

The very idea of knowing I could lose a loved one in just a span of a few hours (or moments) was absolutely terrifying. After the news was confirmed, I reached out to multiple friends as a way to keep myself calm; I didn't care that it was two in the morning or that each text was somewhat long and sappy, I needed to feel connected somebody. In the days that followed, I wrestled with whether or not I just have waited to absorb it before telling anyone else, particularly those from college.  While I don't regret telling that I care for them, I am sorry that they might have been uncomfortable about it. Nothing done with the intention of showing or giving love should not be felt in shame.

The root of my pain wasn't solely in the tragedy, but also in the disconnection from my friends and family afterward. I understood that there are appropriate places and settings to grieve, yet I felt like I couldn't even do that in my own home. I spent so much time and energy putting the needs and feelings of others above my own, and I paid for it later on. As I mentioned in an early post, I feared being called selfish or undeserving.Back then, I would have rather been alone than to risk being looked down on, even though both make me miserable.

And I know everyone deals with this kind of stuff differently;  More specifically, "being strong" may work for my parents or my siblings, but it doesn't for me, at least when something had happens. I can't pinpoint the reason though, considering they all seem very reserved in that regard. Comparing pain levels (i.e. someone always has it worse then you) does not make it diminish or disappear.  While that may be true to an extent, everybody is hurting in some way. There are other phrases to use in order to put it all in perspective without denying another person's (or your own) pain. 

There is such a thing as feeling before you can feel better.  For those on the other side of the fence,  It may be personal nature to go into problem-solving mode, but that's not what the grieving person needs. They need to be held. They need to be loved on. They need to be given the space to just let it out. When you don't know what to say, those are the times when actions will do more than words ever will.

It doesn't take much for me to care about a person. I don't have to see or talk to them all the time in order to learn to love them. Being observant as I am, I can learn to do so in one night. Hence, it is possible to make a list of things that made my friend so special, despite our lack of conversation and interaction. Along with that, it is possible for one act of kindness to impact my perspective on someone. Not just in our friendship, but for other friendships as well. 

When I reflect on that rainy night, I was literally holding onto my mom; looking at this from a spiritual standpoint, it all seems like a metaphor for what I've been through and how I've grown since then. Realistically, I haven't been holding onto my parents, or anyone else for that matter. In the times where I can't see, where I'm blinded by whatever is going on in my life, there's only One that I can hold onto.  

Then again, maybe I'm not holding onto Him; rather, He's holding onto me. 

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October 07, 2013

Music Lovin' Monday


I can easily picture this being on HBO's Girls, if it hasn't been already. For some reason this reminds me my girlfriends and I, either acting crazy on the dance floor or just casually chilling at somebody's apartment, drinking wine and trying to figure out how to play the Friends trivia game (we kind of did that already). 

That's How She Rolls-Chase Rice 

Thank you to Pandora for introducing me to this one; I'm not sure why I like it per say, other than I heard it once and it has been stuck in my head ever since. 

Over-Blake Shelton

This one isn't exactly new; I've heard it on the radio before, but I discovered it again when I was making a country playlist for some friends of mine. It has been on repeat and just about gives me chills every time. I don't see it as just being about a guy doing his damndest to get the woman he loves, but about two people who genuinely understand and respect each other. It's mellow, yet powerful at the same time. 

Faithfully-Glee Version

The first time I heard this was during my freshman year of college; I was sitting in a friend's dorm room and she was talking about the relationship that she had with her then-long-distance boyfriend. Meanwhile, I was also thinking about somebody special (at the time) and it moved me to tears. That aside, the song in itself still makes me cry whenever I hear it, and is honestly one of the most beautiful renditions Glee has ever done. 

Brave-Sara Bareilles 

Though I'm not the biggest fan of her voice, I definitely prefer this over Katy Perry's "Roar," which there has been a lot of talk regarding how similar they are. This song has a simple, yet positive message and that's ultimately what makes it awesome.  

Have a good week! 

All music video credit goes to Youtube

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October 04, 2013

Friday Finds

Jimmy Fallon Performs with The Cast of Sesame Street (via The Huffington Post)

While I was more partial to Barney and Friends growing up, Sesame Street was always a close second favorite. Apparently this is becoming known as "one of the happiest videos ever made" and I can't help but whole-heartedly agree! 

Yes, BaconFest does exist (via KCRG TV News) 

The date for this year's event has passed, but if you're a bacon-lover in any way whatsoever, put this on your calendar for years to come

What Dating Has Taught Me

Written by a newly-engaged friend and sister from high school, she has such wisdom to share when it comes to dating (and glorifying God in the process!) I'm so grateful to her for both her words and presence in my life!

Six words you need to hear today (via Rachel Held Evans)

This is so beautiful; Rachel's words are such a blessing and comfort, especially for those who feel they need to always "get it right" in order for God to love them. Amazing. 

15 Things every woman needs to stop doing (via The Huffington Post)


'I didn't love my wife when we got married'  (via The Huffington Post) 

The title comes off as a little misleading, but I promise that it's something worth reading and thinking about, particularly in a culture that relies on the "honeymoon phase" or fairytale mindset to sustain a marriage. 

Given that this weekend calls for some rainy weather (at least in my area), I invite you all to curl up with a cup of coffee or tea and take the time to read these. Have a good one!

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October 02, 2013

Life Lately

I'm in one of those back and forth modes; the kind where you don't want to complain about how busy you are, because you know what it's like to have too much time on your hands and be sitting around thinking about stuff. Then again, nothing utterly spectacularly is going on right now either; it's like I'm on a treadmill and without realizing it, somebody hit the incline button one too many times. Not that this is a bad thing, because it puts me in the practice of taking my time and not solely focusing on a particular end result. Yet part of me does yearn for something really big to happen, and perhaps it will in the coming months. 

I haven't blogged much for the following reasons: 1. There have been topics I've been wanting to write about, but find that I can't type it all out within an hour. 2. When I do sit down to write, I get fidgety because of everything else that needs to get done before the day is over. 3. Part of me is afraid to even admit that I think or feel the way that I do. I have no intention of putting it on the backburner, yet as of right now I may only be able to blog once a week, rather than two. 

It's starting to dawn on me how emotionally taxing writing is; this past weekend I got physically sick from exhaustion, and I wonder if that has something to do with it. Apart from academic papers, I'm starting to slowly shape what I hope will become my first novel; I'm taking an online novel writing class, which is actually guiding me in the process. For now I'm just building characters and scenes, and most likely be putting it all together either toward the end of the semester or over winter break. 

There's no way to tell what the end result will look like; it is loosely based off an aspect of my life, so that's partially why it is difficult and emotional to put together. I am fictionalizing a lot of it, but the trick is figuring out how, rather than telling it verbatim as it happened. Part of me wants to take a bit of a break, since it is a self-paced online class. If I choose that, I risk falling behind and driving myself crazy by the time December comes around. 

For some strange reason, it has caused me to think about the concept of privacy; what we tell the world and what we keep to ourselves. It's definitely something I want to write about by itself, so I won't elaborate much. I'm just realizing that even though I've become an advocate for vulnerability, it's not always black and white. 

On the other end, I'm beginning to dip my toes into the pool of job searching and whatnot. I have a general idea of what I'd like to do and where I'd like to work, but haven't pinned down the specifics yet. I'm mostly just focusing on networking and getting more information about the possibilities, at least for right now. 

I miss church; I am very much part of Intervarsity here on campus, but my church attendance has been on and off for a long time now. Part of it is the fear of investing deeper in a community when I'll have to leave in a shorter amount of time than I've been there. The other half is that come Sunday, both my mind and body are so incredibly worn out from everything I've had to do that week, and I constantly risk getting myself sick. I get headaches a lot, which can lead to vomiting. It's very frustrating to watch people who look like they have so much energy; they can go on and on and even after a couple of days look like it hasn't done anything to them. However, I know that's just because I'm seeing it from the outside. 

Yes, life is crazy, but in hindsight I'm soaking up every moment of it. 

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