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"