Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Striving for Success or Striving for Stress?

Oh, my dearest blog, how I've missed thee!

I don't know why I felt that my busy schedule would "calm down" after the summer. Life has, in fact, gotten busier with classes starting. So busy, in fact, I had to leave class just now to because I thought my time might be better spent studying for said class.

This all got me to thinking about how often we keep ourselves so busy. And, I'm starting to wonder: as a society are striving for success or are we striving for stress? Here's what I mean:

Back in my good ol' undergrad days, it always seemed like a competition when people were having conversations about how overwhelmed they were. The conversations would go something like this:

Person A: Oh, hey how's it goin?
Person B: Good! Got an Orgo test tomorrow though, so I'm, like, dying
Person A: Aw man, yeah I got to finish this 20-page paper and I haven't even started yet
Person B: Another late night in the library!
Person A: ha I, like, live in the library these days.
Person B: Me too! But, I gotta go to yet another meeting right quick, so I'll see you later
Person A: Yeah okay, see ya.

Disclaimer: the above was totally paraphrased, and the only person I know who uses the word "like" that much is me...so maybe that was more typical of a conversation I would have had. In fact...I did have this conversation once. I was Person B who always seemed to have some sort of meeting the day before a big test...

Anyway, you all get my point. It's like, we feel proud to have loads of work to do and an insufficient amount of time to do it.

Actually - case and point: I was watching the news one night, and they highlighted this kid who plays football and cheers, which is agreeably no small feat. But, this is what they continued to highlight: he also has a part-time job, maintains a good GPA, and tutors or something. I'm not trying to re-report the news, so sorry if the facts aren't correct, but this is my point: our society praises people who are way too busy.

Currently, I'm working part-time, taking grad classes, and involved in organinzing events at church and in the community. This keeps me pretty busy on a weekly basis. Don't get me wrong - I love these activities and the commitments I've made to them, but when I feel bad for taking a 10-minute "study break" to write this blog post - I think there may be a problem. When I get irked because I interpret someone saying, "Oh you just taking the whole weekend off, huh?" as code for "Man, you're lazy!" ... that's a problem. What am I trying to prove? Who am I trying to impress by being super busy?

I know what you're thinking: sounds like a personal problem, huh? You may be right. But, I can't help but feel like this is more of a societal problem. But, here's the tricky part: do we fix it?

Maybe this type of hurried existence is what literally makes the world go 'round. Maybe my twenties really is the best time in my life to be ridiculously busy, as I'm oh-so-often told by older adults. Hmm...I just don't know. Something about it doesn't sit well with me. I want to lead a life that glorifies taking time to disconnect from the day-to-day rush. A life that promotes rest and relaxation. They're not one in the same, y'know. I consider rest to be actual sleeping: the biological necessity your body needs to function properly. Relaxation, on the other hand, is a psychological necessity. It's where you take time to be fully awake and alive in enjoying your life.

Like I said, I love my many activities - they're actually apart of the way I enjoy my life. But, more and more, I'm realizing that I can't "do it all". More importantly, I shouldn't even strive to. So, I'm going to make a declaration: I will try and create more times of relaxation and reflection in my life while also honoring the time commitments I make to the things that matter most to me.

And, if you're someone who already is pretty good at doing this, could you teach me how?

This is my favorite quote. I saw it hanging up at this restaurant in Austin, so I snapped a pic. Of course, after I asked the nice group sitting there if I could...it was right above they're table. Anyhow, I think it's fitting for the overall "bottom line" of this post. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Music Monday #20

Better late than never for a Music Monday post! I just wanted to briefly share with you all a song that really helped me get through a kinda rough and long day at work. It's called "The One Thing" by Paul Coleman. And, I really just appreciate the honest tone of the song. I often wonder if I'm doing this whole thing right - my blog, my career path, my entire life. Sometimes, most times, I question it. Throughout the verses of this song, the artist hits the nail on the head with some of these insecurities: "I question my reason...I question my ability to judge wrong from right...I question my friendships...does the work I'm doing really matter at all?" - at one time or another, these questions have pervaded my psyche. But, if I allow myself to, I can find solace in the fact that "only one thing doesn't change" - God's love for me.

I honestly believe, in this life, you need a constant. Something you can hold on to when it seems like everything else is slipping out of your control. (Sidenote: In LOST, Season 4, Episode 5 entitled "The Constant", *spoiler alert!* having Penny as his constant person that bridges across his time traveling years literally saves Desmond's life. Yes, I loved that show, too. In its prime. But back to my point.) When people fail you - as they often will because they are only human like you; when processes fail you - like applying to schools with the best laid plans and getting flat out rejected; even when you feel like you're failing yourself: the one thing you can be sure will not fail you is that incomprehensible, unconditional love.

Now, the artists does note that this type of unconditional love can also be attributed to a significant other, as he also considers his wife to be the theme of this song. But, as for me, for now, it refers to God's love. I'm not saying that now I feel like I have all the answers to every single issue I will ever face, and I'll never ever doubt anything ever again. I'm not sure I could ever really make such claims! But, I'm just saying it's comforting that there is something constant I can rely on when I experience rough patches in life. I hope you have a constant, too. =)

"All I know at the end of the day is Your love remains"

Also, I just really like this picture of sunset...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fridays with Friends! (#5)

As I'm slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things with the blog, I'd be remiss if I didn't share this video. I had a great weekend with a couple of old friends and a new one. And, after a night of great food and our randomness at its best, we produced something beautiful. Enjoy!



My Take Home Message: Got big dreams and aspirations? Do the things you desire to do at a time when your lifestyle can accommodate it. And, don't stress about it until then! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Music Monday is back! (aka Music Monday #19)

You guys. It's been over a month since I've updated my blog. How cray-cray is that?!

But, I'm back! And, yes, yes, you guessed the reason why -- having an internship, working part time, studying for the MCAT, doing activities for church and common life obligations took quite the interesting toll on me this summer. But, y'know what I've just realized? When I take a step back, and think about it (/look at all the pictures): I've had the most wonderful summer.

I think - okay, I know - a lot of times this summer I got overly frustrated with time. I felt that I kept running out of time to fully commit to all the things I had to do. (And, let me just say, I did learn a thing or two about be a wee bit over-committed this summer, but that's not purpose of this post.) I want to emphasize how relative time is.

Here's what I mean.

Time is something that is ambiguous; it's finite yet fluid. Fleeting and slow. I find that I sometimes I worry about both ends of the spectrum: "I wish this boring thing would just be over already!" or "I wish I had more time to finish this!" -- talk about discontentment! Thinking about time in either extreme is no way to live!

It's truly all a matter of perspective. And, from now on, I want to choose to see time as the ambiguous entity that it is. It's not something that I can control, so why try? What I'm saying is this: As I mentioned in previous posts, I am a planner, and I don't apologize for it. I don't! However, I think that things happen to us at the correct time that they're supposed to. So, why even give a second thought to what could have happened or what needs to happen soon? It's done or it's coming. Time is moving as we speak, so we might as well move along with it at its pace.

With all that being said, I'd like to share another Alabama Shakes song: "Hang Loose"


"Hang loose, hang loose; let the ocean worry 'bout being blue"

Aside from the ocean reference, I love the message behind this song. In a nutshell: don't worry yourself with that which you simply cannot control. 
Granted, this is not the ocean. It's a lake in Dallas. But, it's still blue, so you get my point.




Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Few Lessons Learned from 22

I have been 23 years old for exactly one day, and for some odd reason I feel the need to share some lessons I'm learning, so just roll with it.

On being "fake"

So, once or twice in my life, I have been accused of being fake. Obviously, I disagree with this pre-judgement, and here's why. I don't consider it "fake" if I choose to be friendly and cheerful to others even if I don't know them that well. I just don't see a good reason to not do so. Also, I rather not invite strangers and acquaintances into personal issues I'm having in my life. Bottom line, I don't think that choosing to be friendly and warm instead of abrasively cynical or blunt is fake, I think it's quite real. Real nice. But, that's just my thought on the matter for now.

On heartbreaks

I cannot personally attest to what it is like to experience heartbreak, as it has never happened to me. Quite frankly, I hope I never experience it. But, I have had my feelings hurt by boys. I've had my feelings smacked, punched, ignored and kicked around by countless clowns. (Not really countless clowns but I liked the alliteration and rhyme and figured you would, too). Look, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know - y'all know what I'm talking about because it's happened to you, too. But, don't you think that in a way it makes us more resilient? For you who have had heartbreak, I can only offer the most humblest message: when your heart breaks, it heals itself and grows back stronger. Isn't this what happens to bones? If my memory of my past Anatomy & Physiology courses serves me well, I'm pretty sure that when you break a bone in one spot, rarely would you break it again in that exact same spot. Thus, the logical conclusion follows that the broken bone is stronger. What's that? Oh, good point - yes, the heart is a muscle, not a bone. But, for the sake of argument, let's just say this particular muscle, in the figurative sense, work the same way. So, yes, this gives me comfort when I think about my bruised feelings, at least now I know better and can move forward lightly.

On planning

I am an intense planner. I love making lists, life maps, outlines, you name it. If it involves pre-planning, planning, and then executing, I find it most enjoyable. However, if there's one major lesson I have learned - especially in post-undergrad year 1  - it's this: one should plan, yes, but plan without the pressure of permanence. Here's what I mean by this: The way my mind works is to organize things around an academic calendar. So, when I set goals to be completed in Fall 2013, I shouldn't be devastated if certain things have to get pushed to Spring 2014. Sometimes money is a deciding factor, other times it's decisions made by others (like academic program directors or employers); but for whatever reason, things don't always go according to your timeline, and that's absolutely fine.

On laughing 

Laughing is my single most favorite thing to do at any given moment of any given day. I simply love the experience of laughing. I will concede that there are times to be serious and reflective and other non-laugh emotions, but for the most part, laughing is always a wonderful choice. Laugh as much as possible. I feel I need say no more.

Well, there ya have it folks, that's all I've got so far. Happy day!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday's Tune!

Obviously working, interning and studying for the MCAT has taken up the majority of my time thus far this summer, but having this blog as a creative outlet is not only fun for me but also absolutely necessary for my peace and internal harmony. So, in lieu yesterday's Music Monday, I present to you Tuesday's Tune! Same idea, you get the picture.

Now, in honor of this being my last day of being 22, I wanted to feature T. Swift's "22". Yes, I'm so creative. But, honestly, let me tell you why this song fits perfectly to end this age.

When she sings, "we're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time; it's miserable and magical" - that TOTALLY sums up what 22 was for me. "Happy" and "free" is what I felt upon graduating from an amazing university after enduring some tough courses and making lifelong friends. "Confused and lonely" is what came in the months to follow when I wasn't employed, in grad/professional school, and not even in the same state as some of my closest friends. It was indeed miserable, as I'm sure past blog posts can attest to. Yet, it was also magical. See, during this year of dealing with disappointments and re-focusing my reality, I've somehow begun this magical transformation into a young adult, well on her way towards achieving her goals.



So, goodbye 22, and good riddance. I'll also miss you, but just not that much. I'm just much more looking forward to the future. I've finally come to the realization that indeed, "everything will be alright if we just keep dancing" like we're evolving into the wonderful young adults we are to become. So, dance on, y'all!

Snapshots of 22




Holding Cowboys press conferences, getting pied in the face while working with a wonderful group of friends, reconnecting with nature by talking to ducks, making it to Texas and much much more

Monday, June 17, 2013

Newsflash: Life isn't fair (Music Monday #18)

Now, I know what you're thinking: (facetiously) Nooo, really Jasmin? I didn't already know that life wasn't fair!

And, you have the right to that sarcasm. The fact that life isn't fair is something we all become familiar with basically at birth.

But, something I heard from the pulpit about two weeks ago, resounded in my mind this past week:

"Don't expect life to be easy, but expect it to be worth it."
Life isn't easy because it is unfair. You put in the work, but don't always get your expected results.

But, the thing is - your life has to be worth it. If it's not, then what's the point? Like, literally, what is the point? The "it" in the phrase "worth it" refers to that point, the purpose for which you live.
If you're not doing something that really matters to you - change that immediately.
It might be a drastic change, maybe a slow gradual change. Either way, commit to living a life that holds significant meaning to you.

And, here's something I personally need to learn how to do: I need to find a different way to look at time. I shouldn't view it as this linear progression. When I look at it this way, I feel like I'm always rushing to get things done because I'm already behind. Rather, I should view it as this fluid, ambiguous and sometimes cyclical entity that just kind of ebbs and flows.

So, with these rambling thoughts, I'd like to present the shortest Music Monday selection to date: the theme song from ol' school Disney Channel's show "In a Heartbeat":

Favorite line: "Life is fast and life is sweet"

Remember that favorite line!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Music Monday #17: Weekend in Review

A lot happened this past weekend that made me realize a few facts about my life, and I couldn't choose one single event to blog about, so I chose to blog about them all. Fortunately, there was one song that encompassed the overall feeling I got from this weekend: Martina McBride's "Blessed"

Favorite line: "I have been blessed with so much more than I deserve - 
to be here with the one who love me"

So, here's the basic rundown:

Pomp & Circumstance Never Gets Old
I attended my brother's high school graduation, and it made me remember that I absolutely love commencement speeches. The messages might be generally the same: "go forth and be great youngsters!" But, honestly, we really can't hear words of encouragement enough. These speeches boost not only the graduates, but those in the audience. So, that made me feel inspired and prepared to trudge forward -- even though my time to shine and graduate has long past!

"Where you are, there you are - be here now"
So, I'm not going to get too deep into this, but over the weekend, my phone was no longer in my possession. I don't have to type anything further to intimate how incredibly annoying that was/is, but I will add the detail that it happened at a point in the night when I was trying to meet up with friends at a place I'd never been for our five-year high school reunion (yes, my school does that, you have my permission to be slightly confused but mostly jealous - you know it!). So, not the most convenient time. (As if there is ever a convenient time for your phone to be gone.)

So, that's the background, and here's what I realized:

Disclaimer: I'm not going to sit here and act like I wasn't itching to text or wondering who might be trying to reach me all that night and the rest of the weekend (and now...), but essentially it does remind me that a phone is just a thing. Now, I'm not advocating we should all give up our phones. I personally love having GPS when I'm lost, thanks very much. But, of course, everything in life should be consumed in moderation. 

In those first couple of hours without a phone, I realized the importance of being mindful, and "being here now". While we were out, I kept reminding myself - don't even worry about the phone, "just be here now." "Enjoy the company of those around you." I'm risking embarrassment posting this little mental dialogue, but I'm just being honest. And, it worked. I felt very much "in the moment." Shout out to those wonderful classmates of mine for making the night fun!

I get by with a little help from my ... Sprint workers
I am a huge fan of relying on the kindness of strangers. I like kindness in general, always. But, it's especially wonderful when it comes from an unexpected source - like the person trying to help you replace your phone at Sprint. There's customer service, but then there's exceptional customer service that translates to pure human kindness. I like when I interact with it.

I know I have blessed life. When the little unpleasant surprises in life happen, I think about how I'm still so vibrantly alive. I'm living the best life I can with what I got. And, what I got is a lot. I'm constantly surrounded by those who love me. My best laid plans almost never work out, and yet, if I really think about it - the blessings still flow.

So, you guys, hopefully this post inspires, comforts, or at the very least entertains. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #7

Can we all just take a moment to appreciate the fact that this is one of the first WW posts in a long time that’s actually been posted on a Wednesday. Moment of silent reverence. Okay, let’s get to it.

Wellness Wednesday Challenge from last week:
If you didn't get a chance to live stream any of the Bluemind Summit, check out the videos that are all posted here. I still have a few to go through myself, but this one theme continues to ring true: by developing a connection with the ocean, we can take strides towards saving it. One of the core courses in my Master of Public Health degree plan is an Overview of the Environment course. At first, this struck me as odd. Not in a “why study the environment?!” way. But, in a “okay, Epidemiology, Biostatistics, Health Promotion, Policy, and Environment…which one of these doesn't belong here?” kind of way. But, I've come to understand that study of the environment makes perfect since in application to public health. (Go ahead, say “duh Jasmin” if you’re more astute than I am) But, it really does make sense. It goes with the idea of being holistically healthy: mind, body, spirit and environment. So, again, keep these thoughts in mind when you hear some of the talks and then forever and always as you go about your daily life.

This week’s challenge:
So, in my city, traffic is … how should I put it? 

Traffic is…horrible...inevitable…a way of life? I don’t really know how to describe it. 

There are a lot of cities in America where traffic is all of these things and more, and my city is one of them. I’m noticing that traffic can lead to a lot of internal and external stress. Commuting back and forth through traffic is a mental-physical workout! You have to remain ever vigilant for when the car in front of you moves half an inch because every little bit counts. And, you don’t want to be that person who is holding up every one else from progressing a whopping 1.2 inches! Oh, no – that person gets honked at. Speaking of honks: was that person honking at me? I didn’t do anything- oh wait, that was that other car, oh and we’re stopping again. Then, you try and maneuver the lanes and it never fails – every lane you switch into becomes the slow lane! So, you endure, and finally you’re at the end of the traffic – and the fact that the rest of the freeway looks perfectly clear just annoys you all the more.

It was stressful just typing that last paragraph. Imagine that experience at least twice a day for a least five days a week. It’s bound to wreak havoc on your nerves! So, what to do? Mindful traffic cruising.

Mindful cruising is best when done on a clear, winding Texas road, by the way.
But let's try mindful cruising in traffic!
I thought of this while I was in traffic yesterday. I remember my professor back at Duke speaking of times and places where we could practice mindfulness. One place was the car, while driving. Your mind wanders during this time anyway, so might as well make a contentious effort to be present and aware of the things around you. Every visual, every noise. Notice it. Take it in. Be present in the moment. Don’t think about yesterday or tomorrow or even what you’re going to eat once you get out of traffic. Just be present. For at least 5 minutes. Let’s be real. Okay, go! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

All the single ladies! (Music Monday #16)

Okay, so by now, y'all should know that every now and then I have no qualms about posting relationship-related posts.

Sometimes, admittedly, I choose not to post something for fear that I will be judged or worst - typecast. Then, other times I remember the small scope of my blog-o-sphere, and I don't feel as bad!

This is one of those times.

I was driving to work when I listened to Paramore's "The Only Exception". This song is pretty yet melancholy, and Hayley sings it just so beautifully and poignantly. Now, I hadn't heard this song in a long time, but the lyrics came back to me seamlessly. Then this line came: "I had sworn to myself that I'm content with loneliness. Because none of it was ever worth the risk". And, I thought to myself: I totally get that. Okay, I'll admit, my actual first thought was: Ain't that the truth! Seriously, not worth it! But, two seconds later, the sassy sarcasm settled, and I reflected at the red lights and came up with a few conclusions that I felt worthy of sharing:

1. Sassy sarcasm sometimes acts as a knee-jerk defense mechanism
2. It's defending against slipping into that sullen mood you get after realizing a somber possibility
3. That somber possibility (in this case) was this idea that it's somehow better to resolve to be lonely forever rather than take the risk of being in a relationship
4. When you think about it, it turns out that risks are involved in every step of the relationship:
  • pre-relationship: you take the risk of being rejected when you initiate or reciprocate interest in the other person
  • during relationship: you progress along, but the risk of being dumped or having to dump the other person still exists
  • post-relationship: whether it ends amicably or dramatically, the aftermath risk is feeling like this: "am I really better off?" or "back to square one..."
5. Final conclusion: Yes, I was right before: these risks are far too great, it's not worth it; single - forever and always, go!

Then, I got to work and got out of the car thinking I was quite smart for arriving at this final conclusion.

(SN: Now that I think about it, this list of conclusions reads more like the logical steps to a geometric proof...)
I know that this reasoning is perfectly sound, and you guys agree with what I'm suggesting, but on the other hand:
I'm told that true love, real love, is absolutely worth the risks. And, I believe it is. There's something incredibly, indescribably, special about human connectedness on all levels. With your friends, with your family, with significant others, with strangers who you help on the side of the freeway after they've crashed into the guardrail. Human connectedness is just how we get by. And, no combination should be left out or discarded. So, I encourage us all to take healthy risks:
If you're on the brink of a relationship with someone and it could be great but you're not sure, go for it.
If you're feeling hopeless as a penny with a hole in it, I dare you to muster up enough spirit to develop a positive outlook and truly believe that it's not all over for you.
If you're realizing that this season in your life is a time to develop human connectedness on those other levels like with your friendes or strangers, take the risk of doing so without worrying about whether or not you're going to be lonely for the rest of your life.
If you're vaguely in the midst of all three routes, I have no advice for you. I don't know what you should do. And, for that, I apologize.

One of my most memorable "somebody pinch me" moments:
when this was the view from my apartment in Cali summers ago
I've done this type of Music Monday post before: slipping in a bunch of song references because I'm just so clever, like that.

But today's actual music selection is this: Barenaked Ladies' "Pinch Me". This song just makes me feel at ease. All this costs-benefits analysis talk has made me tense, I guess. So...pinch me!

This song helps me realize that oftentimes, it is the "perfect time of day to throw all your cares away." Peace y'all!

"it's the perfect time of day, to throw all your cares away"

Friday, May 31, 2013

Fridays with Friends #4!

Can we make my rock climbing
expertise official? I think yes. 
Friday is almost over, but I would like to post this video, nevertheless. It's like they always say - better late than not on Friday! Okay, so I have mentioned my adoration of rock climbing before, but the overwhelming urge to climb rocks came over me again recently. I'm so thankful for spontaneous friends who join me on random mini-adventures.
I tried out a new gym today, and I loved it. I ended up making a new friend, and he will serve as the "friend" for this week's Fridays with Friends segment. I'm inquisitive, so I started to ask him about his life while he was giving us tips on belaying and climbing and such like. And, you know how you can just tell when someone is passionate about something? I got that feeling. So, I asked if he would quickly share that passion with you all. He said yes. So, what I have for you is the most spontaneous Fridays with Friends segment to date. Enjoy!

And, remember, continuously finding a better way to do something you're passionate about - and inquiring about that others on that same journey - makes life simply wonderful. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #6 (yup, it's Thursday...)

Here's the thing guys - I love love love the alliteration of Wellness Wednesday but Wednesdays are actually one of my busiest days of the week, so a post can't always get penned then. So, we're going to keep going with the theme on different days of the week. Get it? Got it? Great!

Okay, so update from last week's challenge: I have created many mini life maps over the past couple of days, and I gotta tell you - I get a surge of energy when I think of all the great possible routes my life could take. It's not so much overwhelming as it is inspiring. But, I suppose its' all in the way you look at it. So, my advice is this: don't let your dreams scare you, let them dare you. As in, dare you to move to make that progress!

Moving on to today's challenge:
I want you guys to expand your minds...your BLUEminds that is! Today is a big day. It's the Bluemind Summit in Rhode Island! Tune in on the link below to check out the talks by Dr. Wallace J Nichols and others. I'm 100% certain you won't be disappointed! Well, the only "disappointment" would be that you're not there to experience it in person, but oh the glories of technology! Enjoy!

Watch the summit live here: http://bambuser.com/v/3630256

Monday, May 27, 2013

Music Monday #15

I was driving down the highway, and an old favorite of mine came on my Pandora. You guys, it's the original YOLO; this song came out before YOLO was a thing! And, it serves as today's Music Monday song: "You Only Live Once" by The Strokes. The song reminds me of being pulled in so many directions, constantly having to choose, and I think the point is that you simply must decide. You make the decision, and just go with choice, wholeheartedly.

Apply for that job and just see what happens

Choose to let yourself gush over your latest crush even if nothing comes of it

Decide to save up your pennies for a day trip with your friends at the end of the summer

This is your life right now. And, like Jennifer Aniston said in the movie The Switch, "life is in session!"
So, live it

Favorite Line: "Twenty ways to see the world; twenty ways to start a fight." 
It's all about what you choose to do in this life, y'all. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #5 (Yes, I know it's Saturday...)

So, yes. It is Saturday, but Wellness Wednesday lives on nevertheless!

Check Up from last Wellness Wednesday Challenge: 
I have definitely mastered this whole drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily. Water bottles help. That probably goes without saying, huh? Well as far as physiological benefits - I've no doubt they're working at the molecular level. But, just like with sleep, I'm guessing it's going to take some consistency before I actually see any of the benefits. So, let's say in a month or so I will be able to confirm about my hair looking more moisturized and my skin being clearer. Okay, go!

Moving on to this week's Wellness Wednesday Challenge:
So, recently I fell in love with this blog post about traveling. Now, I'm no where near having the financial means necessary to travel to my heart's desire...yet. But, I still appreciate the sentiment behind travel blogs and such like. And, this got me thinking: you don't really have to go somewhere to travel...let me explain.

There's something wonderful out there in the universe, and it's called the Holstee Manifesto. One line in this poster says that "travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself." I love this quote. And, I feel like it's true even when you travel in your mind. For example, I often daydream about the impact I want to make; about the profession I want to pursue. These are mind-boggling thoughts that take me on a journey of self-discovery. Sometimes I get a little lost in thought and  most times I end up being fairly confused. But, at the end of the confusion comes acceptance and discovery.

Here's what I'm trying to say: I'm going to keep on saving up my dollars and cents to explore this great big world we have before us. But, until then, I can keep exploring the facets of my personality. The parts that continuously help me to get to know who I am better and better. The part that conjures up a billion possibilities about what I want to do in this life. The quirky parts that I couldn't hide even if I tried (not that I try to, of course,...okay, sometimes I try to suppress it, but let's face it - I never really can.)

So this week, I want you guys to travel in your mind. It's a mental wellness challenge. Dare to dream up possibilities for your life. Get "lost" in these seemingly far-fetched thoughts, and find yourself. Enjoy exploring!

On the road to a new place; view from my friend's dashboard
Here's a tip: I often have my best "lost in thought" moments when I'm driving down a long, winding road - which is often here in Texas. So, maybe that can jumpstart your journey if you need the boost! 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Music Monday #14

I want to take this moment to stop. Stop and really appreciate the way my life is at this exact moment. Sure - lately there have been some slight inconveniences, and there's certainly been a few disappointments. But, truthfully, things can always be worse. Equally true, though, is that things can always get better, too. It's like my preacher said in yesterday's sermon, "if you don't find a reason to rejoice, life will always give you reasons to complain." So, I want to declare that whether I'm up or down, or down and out, I will always strive to be thankful for the life I have right now. Life teaches us all too well that things can change in an instant.

With this sentiment of contentment, today's Music Monday choice is "Closer to Fine" by The Indigo Girls. I first heard this song in a karaoke bar in Beaufort, North Carolina with a group of some of the coolest classmates I've ever had. The lyrics literally spoke to my soul, and I haven't forgotten them ever since. So, I hope it can speak to you, as well. Peace, my friends :-)

"the less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine..."



Friday, May 17, 2013

Fridays with Friends (May 17, 2013)

Continuing with the theme of the blog being back, I happily present to you all another Fridays with Friends segment! This time I chatted with Brandon Hall, a head trainer with the nationwide organization Camp Gladiator. As someone who has once participated in a session, I can tell you these innovative outdoor boot camps are indeed changing lives. As Brandon finished up his session right before the interview, I overheard him encouraging his campers to keep on aiming toward success in the workout. When it comes to getting in shape, it's so very important to have someone there to motivate you, and Brandon definitely does the job! So, let's hear from him how he "impacts as many lives as possible through physical fitness":

video

If you have any questions for Brandon or about Camp Gladiator, message me through the links below!

Facebook: 


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #4

Blog's back so that means our theme days continue!

Check Up from the last Wellness Wednesday Challenge:
In case you don't remember, the wellness challenge from the last Wellness Wednesday post was promoting the aromatherapy. And, believe me, I successfully achieved this. This is why my lighter is all out of fluid! (By the way, it's official: I cannot strike a match...) But, yes, the aromatherapy definitely assisted in keeping my stress levels reasonably low while I studied for final after final and completed assignment after assignment over this past month. Challenge completed.

This Week's Wellness Challenge:
Are you water-deprived?! I think most of us are. This simple compound of two hydrogen molecules and an oxygen molecule is a bare essential of life that is often overlooked. For me, drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily takes conscientious effort. So, that starts ... NOW! Join me! Let's drink at least 64 ounces of water a day. Bear in mind that some days require more water than others. For example, the day that you decide to run a mile or two, you're going to be losing more water than usual, so be sure to replenish! Also, keep in mind that everyone is different and "64 ounces" may not be your magic number...but it's a good start, right? So, let's get hydrated!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Music Monday #14

Well hello there! Has it really been four whole weeks since I've posted in my blog?! (I guess I could have just said a month...) The answer is yes. Yes, it has been quite a while. I needed to take a break from blogging. Sometimes circumstances in life require quiet self-reflection time. Nevertheless, I'm back! And, I'm really excited to share some fruits of that quiet self-reflection with anyone who will read!

During the past couple of weeks, I realized something: I don't think I've ever really shared my faith with you guys on this blog. Which is interesting because it's usually my daily devotionals that leads me to certain conclusions that end up in my blog posts. Here's a conclusion I've come to over the past month: I believe that the things that happen to us in life have divine significance. Now, we usually don't realize (or truly understand) their purpose until much later on, in hindsight. And, this can be frustrating, if you let it. I'm finding that choosing to relinquish all illusions of control and to just simply accept the peace of mind is a preferable alternative. I realized that I'm not always going to understand why certain people came into my life this past year: whether a reason, season or lifetime. Only time will really tell which category certain people will fall into, I think. But, what I do know is this: at 22 years old, all I have to really do is "trust steadily, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Which brings me to today's music selection: Nada Surf's "Always Love". The very first line of this song has always resonated with me: "To make a mountain of your life is just a choice." It's exactly the sentiment that I'm trying to convey with this post. Life can frustrate you to no end if you let it. But, if you just strive to love above all of the disappointments, all of the heartbreaks, the mistakes - that's all you really have to do. I'm not trying to oversimplify the solution to the struggles of life, I'm just sayin': no matter what, always love. Love yourself, love others, love each and every experience that makes you who you are. Always, love.

Favorite Line: "To make a mountain of your life is just a choice"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Music Monday #13

Happy Music Monday everyone!

I try not to get too personal on a very public blog, but my good friend Courtney recently reminded me that one of the main reasons I started this blog was because I wanted to attempt to inspire people. Not because I'm some genius guru on anything, but simply because people can relate to my very ordinary, non-guru experiences. And, so here we are.

Recently, love has seriously been in the air. In the past week or so, a few of my friends have gotten engaged and other relationships have blossomed and strengthened. Conversely, a few more relationships ended and yet another possibility fizzled and faded for others. I'm realizing that this cycle is life. Love is lost, love is found, but love certainly stays all around. When it comes to this idea of being in love, I experience a dichotomy of thinking. I'm an extremely hopeful individual, yet I'm often skeptical. To borrow from the Lifehouse song "Broken", "I try my best to be guarded, but I'm an open book instead." I think admiring the idea of being in love can sometimes get me in trouble. My admiration is what makes me totally relate to what Gigi says in that one scene from He's Just Not That Into You. But, this admiration is also what makes me...me. I think I'd rather embrace it (and, even blog about it - yikes!), but not criticize nor judge it. I think I can appreciate its value but also understand its effect on how I view relationships and potential relationships with the ones I just haven't met yet. I have come to understand that as we grow and evolve into the people we're going to be, we pick up on these types of nuances of our personality. Then, we learn to embrace and love these nuances. And, at that point, we should just do what Regina Skeptor suggests and "take that love you made and stick it into someone else's heart."

Yes, I know I incorporated a lot of songs into this post (I'm so clever...and indecisive), but today's official Music Monday selection is Regina Skeptor's "On the Radio". One of my all-time favorites!
Favorite Line: "No, this is how it works: you peer inside yourself, you take the things you like, and try to love the things you took."

So, to wrap it up: Love life, love love, and love yourself - every aspect of you. This works. =)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Breathe.

I was practicing these yoga postures for spine health with this video on YouTube, and the instructor said something that really resonated with me:

"When the stretch is intense, the inclination is to hold your breath. But, if you take nice, deep breaths, it will allow you to relax into the stretch and really release that tension."

Whenever we find ourselves in challenging situations in life, I think we can unconsciously hold our breath, either literally or figuratively. We may find ourselves paralyzed with a choice to make, not knowing which direction to go. When we feel tense in the spot we're in, there is something to be said about breathing. Because breathing is something we do every single moment, perhaps we do neglect its value. But to really take the time out of those millions of moments to inhale and exhale long and deep can work wonders. I'll bet that rush of oxygen does something restorative in our bodies, minds, and spirits.

So, quite simply folks, don't forget to breathe!

A list of my favorite breath-related lyrics/songs that specifically relate to this idea of releasing tension through breath:

"All we can do is keep breathing, now." - Ingrid Michaelson's "Keep Breathing"

"And, breathe, just breathe" - Anna Nalick's "Breathe (2 AM)"

And, last but not least, my favorite:

"If I just breathe - let it fill the space between, I'll know everything is alright. Breathe. Every little piece of me, you'll see everything is alright. If I just breathe." - Michelle Branch's "Breathe"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #3

Hey guys! Happy Wednesday. Let's get right to it.

Update from last week's challenge:
I managed to spend some time around various bodies of water, and I believe that there is an undeniable sense of calm that overcomes you when you put yourself in the presence of water. I understand that the quotes specifically referred to salt water, but these fresh water scenes worked well for me, too. Hope you got your water on this past week too!

Lake or pond? I don't know the difference. But, this is where I went when I realized I had a little less than 48 hours to cover three chapters of complex material. And, I felt at ease!
This week's challenge:
So, lately I've been lighting up candles...

Like when I'm doing homework or studying for what is basically a pop-test (seriously, the test was moved up an entire weekend -- SURPRISE), I find it calming to have candles burning alongside me.

So, maybe try your own little aromatherapy this week. I don't know which is more effective: the scent from the candles or the slow burn of the flame. I think it's a combination of both that helps you to just relax and dive in to whatever you have to do.

My own little aromatherapy display. The quote on the Cucumber Melon candle says, "The best things in life are right in front of you." What a lovely thought! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Music Monday #12

This was a Zac Brown Band weekend for me. It was like music therapy; the playlist went something like this:

- "Let It Go"
- "No Hurry"
- "Toes"
- "Knee Deep"
- "Chicken Fried"
- "Free"

Over and over again. Nonstop. Until I felt overcome by the peaceful vibes exuding from these tunes. To borrow from the lyrics of all of these songs, the main message is to:

"save your strength for things you can change; forgive the ones you can't" and to realize that you'd be a fool "to worry about the things you can't change". Because honestly, "life is good today" and the "sunshine's gonna wash [your] blues away."

True: I couldn't really incorporate the last two songs into this string of thoughts, but you get the point.

So many options for Music Monday, right!? Well, for the mere chill factor, I have decided that today's choice is "Knee Deep"! Close your eyes and chill out to this one, guys. I guarantee you'll feel so chillaxed!

"When you lose yourself, you find the key to paradise"



Also! Check out my new favorite place! It's this restaurant on a lake. 
And, it's perfect. Reminds me of being "knee-deep in the water somewhere"!

Quackin' with the ducks 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

You DO NOT want to miss this Live Stream!


Neuroscientists, ocean advocates, educators, and adventurers meet to reconnect the human brain with our water planet.

Photo Courtesy of Wallace J. Nichols
BLOCK ISLAND, RHODE ISLAND – The third annual BLUEMIND Summit arrives on Block Island May 30th, 2013 to continue a fast-expanding conversation about the intersections between human neuroscience, psychology and the waters of our planet.

Founded in 2010 by marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, a Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences, the BLUEMIND Summit has created interdisciplinary conversations about how healthy waters can influence and improve our emotions and our lives. Topics explored include the science behind water-view real estate and hospitality premiums, the pull of travel, sports and recreation near or on water, stress relieving aspects of water, empathy and the ocean, and many others.


“The goal of BLUEMIND is to initiate a new kind of conversation about the cognitive values of healthy waterways, oceans and coasts around the world. When we stop to consider these ideas, it’s obvious stuff, but we’re putting cutting edge science behind the obvious,” says Dr. Nichols. "We want everyone to rethink their relationship to water and discover something deeper."

The summit is being held this year on Block Island at an historic inn atop a hill overlooking a full horizon of ocean. Event speaker and environmental attorney Justin DuClos chose the island locale for its natural beauty and ocean culture. “A lengthy relationship with the island has proved two things: it showcases both underwater and overland the best of what earth lends humankind, and its community is the vanguard of conservation and environmental stewardship.”

Invited speakers and presenters include Harvard Medical School researcher Dr. Helen Reiss, explorer, filmmaker and water advocate Celine Cousteau, artist Jill Hoy, musician Halsey Burgund, chef Barton Seaver, and neuroscientists David Poeppel of NYU and David Zald of Vanderbilt. Topics to be explored include the science of empathy and addiction, neuroaesthetics, neuroeconomics, neurogeography and neurolinguistics–each through a water or ocean lens.
Attendance is by invitation due to the limited size of the venue. Live stream registration is free and recommended in order to receive the final agenda prior to the summit and a copy of work products following.

Sponsors include Peak Teams, Ocean Revolution, SoniSingh.org, SNAP International, J Duclos Law & Policy, US Fish & Wildlife Service, SEEtheWILD.org, and The Ocean Foundation.

# # #

For more information please visit www.BLUEMIND.me or contact:

Julie Starke / bluemind@snapinternational.com

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Just In!

I have come to an important conclusion about my personality and the people with whom I choose to establish various types of relationships. Basically, I'm finding that it is absolutely essential to surround yourself with people who promote the positive spirit within you. Not those who judge it, or those who don't really care for it.

So, when I ask myself, how I ended up in yet another situation that causes me to whip out my handy-dandy pep talk to self, I have only one simple answer. It happens. And, oftentimes, these unwelcome life experiences bring us to certain important conclusions like the one mentioned above.

I LOVE this song by Sugarland. I uploaded the YouTube lyric video because the lyrics literally say it all. So, whenever you find yourself down in the dumps for whatever reason, please give this song a listen.
Favorite Line to LIVE by: "Ain't no need to over-think it, let go laughin'"


And, laughing? That I can do. No matter how much "energy" it takes. I've been told a couple of times just today that I have "a lot of energy." And, if by energy, they mean the positive approach I take to oftentimes draining experiences,...I think I'll keep it up ;-)


Me & the infamous Margrette!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #2

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesdays, guys! Okay, so an update from last week's challenge:

I successfully managed to get around 7 hours of sleep for four days within the last week! I'm by no means drastically calmer or more energized YET. A few more weeks of this and I think I definitely will be! Consistent good sleep is key!

Now, on to this week's wellness challenge!

Yesterday, I was reminded of a truth that has been presented to me in so many ways this year:

Photo Courtesy of Wallace J. Nichols (Facebook Page)

I love this concept. It reminds me of this quote my friend Margrette shared with me a while ago: "the cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea." (-Karen Bixen). Yesterday was kinda rough - just a typical side-effect of the part of myself that tends to over-analyze. But, I ran. I ran until I felt the sweat and felt that I had reached some sort of resolution. And, I felt better! I'm not claiming the "runner's high" because I'm pretty sure you'd have to run further than I did to release those endorphins. But, the sweat does not lie. This form of salt water healed the self-inflicted emotional wound, and I think there really is something to that quote. 

So, this week's challenge is to fully embrace the quotes above and use some form of salt water for its therapeutic value. Maybe you can visit the beach if you live near one, or go for a long run until you're drenched, or even have a good cry. I think this type of cleansing is so very good for the soul. 

PS!
I've mentioned the BLUEMIND Summit and related ideas before, and I continue to grow more and more enthusiastic about the work that's being done! I have an exciting update for you guys that will come on this upcoming Fridays with Friends post, so be on the look out! 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Music Monday #11

Lately I've been feeling a bit unsettled. Like I'm waiting for something grand and extravagant to happen. Do you ever get that feeling? I think this feeling is the reason why I'm planning on cutting my hair, but that's kinda not the point here.

I had an awesome chat with one my friends the other day about being 22 and full of energy to relocate, find new jobs, travel, discover new projects -- all of these things that most 20-somethings I know are constantly talking about. Truthfully, 20-something or not, I think we can all relate to these feelings of wanting some sort of change of pace. This conversation of course led to yet another familiar career identity crisis, which tends to be simultaneously exhilarating and draining. Meaning: I starting dreaming up all the possibilities associated with my degree plan and failed to accomplish the homework goals I had set over the weekend. This poor work ethic then causes one to wonder if they will successfully completed said degree plan to realize those lofty dreams...and so the cycle continues.

Feeling somewhat exhausted and hopeless, I remembered something. My friend Margrette has pretty good taste in chill music, I must say. I mean, I know I think I do, but I gotta give her props! She shared this song with me near the beginning of our senior year in undergrad, and it continues to serve as a nice mood-booster whenever I'm feeling "happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time" (shout out to T. Swift!) So,  please enjoy this Music Monday's "Roll If Ya Fall" by Barefoot Truth.

"It's the beauty of a new sunrise; you can never see one the same" 

This song just reminds me to strive to be a more mindful individual when it comes to progress and evolving as a person. To respond more, and "knee-jerk" react less. And, on a final note, in reference to bare feet...

My own bare feet (don't judge!) at the Mat Kearney concert at school with Margrette our sophomore year! I told you we had good taste in music ;-)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Fridays with Friends!

Hi friends! Happy Friday to all! I'm so happy that spring is finally here! It was super sunny and breezy today - perfect for a friendly Friday afternoon chat with someone I'm very excited to introduce to you all!

Karen Blessen is the founder and president of an amazing non-profit organization, 29 Pieces. I attended a talk she gave at school entitled, "Promoting Peace Through Art", and I was so inspired by the work that she is doing. This organization uses the act of creating artwork as a medium through which people can come to truly understand the importance of being kinder, more peaceful individuals. She, along with the artists and volunteers who work with her, also conduct MasterPeace classes for various students and children in the Dallas area.

The video really does say it all, and it's a quick 5 minutes for your viewing pleasure and convenience. I do hope that you all visit the website hyper-linked above, and also be sure to "Like" and "Follow" the pages below:





"We use art to uplift and awaken the human spirit to make genuine social change "

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wellness Wednesday #1!

Well howdy there folks! This is officially the first Wellness Wednesday post, so let me describe what I'm envisioning here:

Wellness Wednesdays are meant to be posts specifically about finding better ways to improve health and wellness (y'know, what this entire blog is supposed to be about). So, for starters, I'm going to give myself a Weekly Wellness Challenge and keep you posted on my progress (or lack thereof) in order to serve as tips on the topic. Please join me in these challenges and share you tips in the comments! As I learn more, I hope to make these post more, how should we say, scientifically reliable and helpful. But, for now, personal testimony!

This week, I'm working on getting 6 - 8 hours of sleep for the majority of the week. To be clear, the "majority of the week" means at least 4 out of 7 days in the week. I have heard that most adults should get about 6 - 8 hours of sleep per day. But, I'm thinking the amount of sleep one should get varies depending on what's going on in your life and body at that time. That being said, I'm going to follow the one-size-fits-all 6 - 8 hours suggestion just to start. I feel that over time, I'll find the number that works best. The body speaks, you just have to learn how to listen.

I've written about sleep before, so I'm sure I don't need to remind you guys that:

  • sleep helps decrease your irritability, and thus probably reduces anxiety 
  • sleep is your body's time to recharge and rebuild 
  • sleep allows your brain to do it's magically mysterious wonders 
Believe it or not, I have already gotten 7 hours of sleep twice this week! And, that's quite the accomplishment for me. The main thing that I have done differently is not going to sleep to any show on my computer. Now, obviously we've all heard that it's best to power down the computer and cell phone in order to ease into sleep. This is a concept that I understand and respect, but I'm just being honest and realistic here. I went to college during a period where going on YouTube or Hulu or Facebook all the time, any time, became second nature. What can I say, I'm a product of my generation! So, it's going to take baby steps to get to where experts say I should be, but I'm fine with that. 

As I was saying, what seems to be working well is allowing myself to watch at least one show, and then turning on Pandora to lull me to sleep (yeah, I know, still not "powering off" anything, but I told you it's going to take baby steps!). So, my wellness tips for sleeping: test out different routines that help you ease into sleep and that wake you up peacefully. Maybe it's not so much quantity as quality of sleep. Or, most likely, it's a combination of the two: 7 hours of pleasant sleeps will always trump 4 hours of restless "sleep". That's all I've got for now. Good luck and good health! 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Music Monday #10

I've decided that Music Monday is here to stay! Midweek Melody sounded cool at the time, but I think it was because I really wanted to share Alabama Shakes with y'all. But, to keep in the spirit of alliteration (and in an effort to keep myself consistent and current on this blog), I give you...

Finding a Better Way's new weekly line-up:
Music Mondays
Wellness Wednesdays
Friday (Froyo) with Friends!

So, there you have it! More about Wellness Wednesdays later, but for now, let's continue with Music Monday:

I often have mini epiphanies, and one such epiphany occurred this weekend. I recalled how unattractive I used to feel when I was younger and surrounded by new people, old friends, old crushes, you name it. I think most of us can relate to that unwelcome but all-too-familiar unattractive feeling. I considered this and concluded that somewhere along the way growing up, we learned a falsehood. We learned that in some way or another, we were not enough: not pretty enough, not chill enough, not funny enough - something was lacking. And, it happens subtly. It could have happened when you were at a youth conference and a really popular boy said that "all light-skinned black girls are prettier than dark-skinned black girls." Or, maybe it happened when girls were their meanest in middle school and reminded you that your hair was really short. Or maybe it happens whenever yet another crush is one-sided simply because he's just not that into you. Sometimes these seemingly insignificant occurrences somehow pop back into our psyche when we're feeling less than confident.

So...great epiphany Jasmin, right? But, this next part is what I really wanted to share with you. What can also happen is we unlearn these falsehoods and reject them each time they try to creep into our sub-conscience  While rejecting those insecurities, we can embrace the truth that we are all unique and special and beautiful in our own way, and no matter what, we always will be. Well, this thought simply makes me smile. And, speaking of smiling, in the most unattractive phases of the preteen (and sure, sometimes young adult) years, my dad always reminded me that no one is considered ugly if they have a  big smile on their face! So, let Vitamin C lead us in this notion with this oldie but goodie "Smile"!

Favorite Line: "Life - it ain't easy; it's so tough; it ain't easy. Whatcha gonna do, say whatcha gonna do?!? Put a smile on your face!"