Monthly Archives: April 2013

Near to the Way

“Consider the trees which allow the birds to perch and fly away without either inviting them to stay or desiring them never to depart. If your heart can be like this, you will be near to the Way.”

Zen saying.

Sometimes it’s easier to say than do..but I’m learning to simply appreciate things for what they are and the time that they are present rather than allowing open wishes to tug on my heartstrings. There’s a blessing in every lesson, and I’ll be glad to have known you at all.

il_570xN.293627431

Advertisements
Video

Pork Chops are NOT Karate Chops

As if depression could be remedied by anything found in a first aid kit..

It’s hard to explain to people who have never known it themselves…feeling lost, buried between cushions of experiences and expectations; feeling so much that they feel so little; numb to disappointment and the dominos of pain.

It’s not easy…none of it is. Losing your voice amongst life’s white noise is the saddest part of all. Sometimes we just need someone to pay attention to what we are saying when we don’t know how to say it. We need just one person to listen…and care..

Kudos to Shane Koyczan for sharing his spoken word poem, and to the entire creative team that produced this short film, for offering a voice to all of those who are or that have experienced depression.

Pork chops are not karate chops. Don’t underestimate the underdog. If you or someone you know might be suffering from depression, please, get help.

 

Storytelling

What makes for a good story?

Is it the relationships that mend and break? The mystery that yields suspense? What about the soundtrack that plays along in the background? Are all stories worth telling? If not, are they stories at all?

If we all come from different backgrounds, beliefs, families, environments and experiences, it would seem that opportunities to learn from people nearly always exist in one form or another – whether the lessons are interesting on the surface or not. So, why are some people so close-minded to other peoples’ stories? Why do they sometimes choose to neglect their own?

I think that people have the tendency to live outwardly — seeing what other people do and responding with behaviors that reflect what society might expect of them rather than the thoughts and emotions that they experience from within. The concept itself may seem obvious at first — trying to fit in with the “cool” kids — but if everyone acts and does the same things then the opportunities to stand out and learn from one another lessen dramatically.

I had an interesting conversation with a coworker earlier this week….He is a middle-aged, homosexual German man living in Frankfurt; I am a 23 year old, single, heterosexual, jewish female living in the States. We have walked extremely different ways of life, which is intriguing to me, but it seemed difficult for him to accept…and not for the reasons that you might think.

Although trying to maintain some of my own mystery, I did start to tell him about my story — my family, hardships, love lost; the twists and turns that helped me lose myself to ultimately find myself. I was openly expressing what a bad person I thought I was as an adolescent because of the experiences that I had had growing up. Toward the end of the conversation, all he had to say was that he was somewhat envious and wished that he had a story like mine; if life had kicked him in the ass harder, he would be been more motivated to do and experience more, become more successful.

I thought he was kidding. I mean…I wouldn’t wish my story upon anyone. That’s like gluing together broken glass and expecting it to shine as bright as a new bottle. Then again, broken glass makes for a beautiful mosaic. I have come to appreciate all of my broken pieces; each scar representing only small chapters of my story. I love what they have helped me become, and for that I am grateful.

When my coworker said he was jealous of me, I guess I was just taken aback because I thought he sounded more interesting on paper…or at least that he would have experienced more than I have. He then explained that his family was always supportive of his sexual orientation and it was just never made into a big deal, so he never really had to experience prejudice, malice, or truly trying experiences. Obstacles and hardships are really relative to each individual, but my coworker was adamant that he hadn’t undergone what he thought would make for a proper, interesting story.

He continued to say that after hearing some of what I have gone through, he wished that his story was as much of a page-turner as mine. At the same time, he internally felt guilty for wanting the people close to him, as well as his circumstances, to challenge him more instead of appreciating the path that he says they made easy for him.

I know that he didn’t tell me all of his story. I don’t know what was true and what wasn’t, but the conversation with my coworker made me realize something…that maybe the question isn’t whether or not some stories are worth telling; rather, it might be: What have you learned from your story? Or maybe: How has your story shaped you?

If you are reading the same chapter over and over again, you won’t be able to write the next chapter to your story…Perhaps the most exciting page hasn’t been lived yet. THAT in itself is something to be grateful for. Take the time to reflect inwardly so that you can share your energy outwardly. You never know who you might reach and help, whose narrative you might become a major part of.

Always tell your story.

Image

Perspective

Perspective is everything.

Are things exactly as we see them? Have they always been this way, or do they change as we do? Sometimes it’s good to revisit the places that we seem to take for granted..appreciate what we have grown up with and how it has shaped us. And yet, remain open minded, willing to learn from another perspective when appropriate.

6:21 pm on 4/18/13, at Rockefeller Center:

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 6.53.24 PM

This is where people come to fulfill their dream. Where they thrive…or get chewed up and spit out. Bumping shoulders, avoiding eye contact, exchanging brash words; racing to get from point A to point B, C, D…Z. The city is moving…so fast that we sometimes tend to become nearsighted. Work and money draw a heavy focus here.

8:12pm on 4/18/13, at Rockefeller Center:

Screen Shot 2013-04-20 at 6.53.11 PM

A thick layer of fog has descended on the city, creeping along eerily…calming the energy outside. The city’s people, they are still pacing. But the city, it is illuminating. Focus relaxes and grows increasingly farsighted — on the bridges stretching across East River, the skyline reflecting on water,  the lights on the Empire State Building as they sequentially alternate colors, and the sea of orange-yellow trying to navigate through every crevice of the city. There is a new appreciation at night because we survived another day to look at all of this.

Time’s Fluid Visualizations

Big Apple Dayze

wilkes_timessquare-598x500

Times Square

In his series, “Day to Night,” Stephen Wilkes photographs a scene “for a minimum of ten hours, from the same perspective, capturing a fluid visual narrative of day into night within a single frame.”

wilkes_washingtonsquare-356x500

Washington Square Park

wilkes_flatiron-359x500

Flatiron Building

Wilkes_ConeyIsland1000pxls-680x336

Coney Island

View original post

Video

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches

On natural beauty..

“It impacts the friends we make, the jobs we apply for, how we treat our children — it impacts everything. It couldn’t be more critical to our happiness.”

That’s a pretty taunting thought…to think that the only way to achieve heightened success is to look a particular way. For one, success is relative. What it means to me may not have the same meaning for you. Secondly, if we purely rely on physical attributes to get what we want in life, then maybe beauty isn’t just physical, but largely mental stimulation – given that the desire to be perfect drives our behavior. In terms of society’s standards, there is without a doubt underlying pressure for women to have the brightest eyes, the prettiest face a hair, the sexiest body, etc..

Dove recently conducted a social experiment in which Gil Zamora, a 26-year veteran of the Santa Fe Police Department and forensic artist, sketched a group of seven women to get a better idea of how they view themselves.

The first part of the experiment was to sketch one woman at a time, without ever seeing what they look like. Zamora would ask them questions about their own facial aesthetics, revealing what they think their most prominent, favorite and disliked features are. Based on these descriptions, Zamora created a sketch of each woman. He then repeated this process but instead asked each of the seven strangers to describe the other women that they had met earlier that morning.

What Zamora found was that the women seemed extremely critical of themselves…even over delicate freckles; alternatively, when they spoke about the other ladies that they had met only briefly, they were more complimentary and even admiring of their features. Zamora held the self-imposed sketches next to the those created by the women viewing one another, and the reactions were pretty consistent: many woman don’t seem to see the beauty that others see in them. Or, maybe they do but just don’t acknowledge how wonderful their natural beauty is.

“We spend a lot of time as women analyzing and trying to fix the things that aren’t quite right…Instead we should spend more time appreciating the things that we do like.”

It’s true, women really are their own worst critics. I know that I am and have been my own for a very long time. But who doesn’t want to be “perfect”, you know? Whatever that is..

Self-love is beautiful. It’s necessary to love inwardly in order to love outwardly. Thank you, Dove, for sharing your message.

 

One Year Ago Today…

Today makes one year – 365 flashbacks – since I walked away from my totaled ’09 black on black Nissan Altima without a single scratch on my body. I remember, at the time, feeling like I was in a really bad dream; now, when I try to dream, too often the projector in my mind shows the crash on repeat.

Too often, while my eyes remain closed, my heart moves like a hummingbird’s wings in my chest. My hands clench for mercy with cloth and a prayer between each knuckle. A single bead of sweat races a tear down the side of my cheek as salt blankets my neck to my tailbone. The melody of my breath grows staccato until my subconscious finally retrieves me from inception. Few can attest to this, but if – within the past year – we’ve ever spent the night together, and I woke up shaking in your arms, now you know why.

I AM alive…

…But one year ago today, I almost lost this priviledge.

I think that there were too many contributing factors that day that played a role in the consequences. I certainly played mine — rushing to get to work, answering calls and emails, all while trying to read news updates about candle vigils happening that evening in memory of the 5th anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. The moment itself happened at the speed of light, but isolated thoughts prolonged the seconds in between. I remember thinking: Is this really happening? There’s no way that my time on this Earth is near complete. There’s too many things that I still need to do, experiences that I need to have, and people who I need to say “I love you” to.

My will to live overpowered my fear of death that day. I didn’t make a big deal about it outwardly because I was trying to understand the emotions going on within first; less of the why am I here, more of the how I made it here. It took some time, but clarity eventually came:

Having the opportunity to live, breathe and love makes the bad dreams well worth it. If anything, they keep me in check and serve as a reminder to always appreciate what I have, and to always go after what I want.

One year ago today, I received a blessing disguised as an obstacle. In three days (April 19, 2013), I will turn 23 years old. I AM, humbly thankful.