Freshman

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Approximately six months ago, I made a choice. I was ready to face my future. I decided it was time to change my life.

As far as support goes, the people in my life have been nothing short of amazing. As intimidating as the whole process has felt from time to time, my friends have been there through every step.

Tomorrow I begin the next chapter of my life. I shall enrich my mind with the wonder of knowledge that I have been longing for.

Grateful for the opportunity and full of hope. Tomorrow begins my college education. I have never been more proud and full of determination.

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New Mountains to Climb

A friend recently shared this commencement speech with me.  It was moving in many ways.  I am proud and honored to be embarking on this new journey that will be, above all, challenging my mind with new information.  I respect myself enough to continue my self-improvement and to keep growing mentally.  I thirst for all that knowledge.

What are days like today really about?

We live our lives, we try to be decent and honorable under difficult circumstances,

we get up each morning knowing that the road ahead isn’t easy,

that the shadows may be filled with uncertainty – days and days go by like this.

Until they become years.

And you wonder where the time went – you ask yourself, what was important in all that

time?

What did I do that was good and right?

When did I get recognized for my struggle?

When was my worth as a human being celebrated?

When did I count? When did I matter?

Yes, time rushes by and sometimes it a blur with no definition, no pattern, no signs of

progress and evolution.

But there are times in life, when the moment actually slows down and the mind is

allowed to stop.

It’s those times when you come to a crossroads and you’re allowed to look around and

take stock of where you’ve been and how you got there.

These moments take you to the threshold of a new reality – a new reality defined by new

possibilities in your life.

These moments often come unexpectedly — and they could be anything.

They could be the first time you wrote you name on a piece of paper.

Or the first time you road a bicycle.

Or the first time you understood something about God.

Or the first time you knew that someone really loved you.

Or the first time you moved to a new city.

Or the first time you signed a lease on your own apartment.

Or the first job.

Or the first time you did something you never expected to do.

Birthdays, anniversaries, baptisms, marriages, divorces, funerals – these are all threshold

moments, the crucial coming-of-age events, that define who you are at a particular time and place.

The moments that make you, you.

Moments when time stops and you look around and you understand who you are and

where you might be going.

A graduation – whether its kindergarten or a PhD – is one of the most important coming-
of-age moments in a person’s life.

When you can stop and breathe and look around and take stock of where you’ve been,

how you got there, and where you are about to go.

Now, what exactly is a graduation?

Why is it to important?

Thousands of people graduate from school every year in the United States.

Why should we care?

To understand graduations, it’s important to understand the long road that lead to this

wonderful day.

You are here today because you decided to take care of something.

You decided to take care of your mind.

Your mind.

It sounds so obvious – that we need to take care of our minds.

But most people are so busy taking care of their bodies, their bank accounts, their lovers,

their homes, their enthusiasm for sports and video games, the silly melodramas of daily

life – that too many times the mind is the last thing they think about.

The mind is so often taken for granted.

People figure, well as long as I’m not losing my mind, then I’m doing okay!

Well, the good news is, you’re not like most people.

We’re here today because none of you would put your mind last.

Each of you knew that you needed to feed your mind,

to allow it to grow,

to fertilize it with new ideas and discoveries,

to take the raw material you were given at birth and grow beautiful new ideas there,

to bring the outside world in the form of books and ideas and lectures and conversations

and quiet meditation into the deep places in your mind where your dreams are born.

And this is so important to do because your mind is so many things.

First, your mind is a cathedral.

It’s here, in your mind, where you first understand the meaning of transcendence and ask

yourself – what is bigger than me?

Who made me and the world?

Where do I come from?

What does all this mean?

What does it mean that I’m here in this world right now?

What’s my purpose in life?

Why was I born a person and not a butterfly?

Is anyone out there watching me?

What is good and why should I do good?

Where does goodness and honor and beauty and truth and love come from?

Who set the stars in motion and created this beautiful world of perfect biological balance?

When I die, where do I go?

Why do I feel connected to other living things?

Why do I feel that love is the most important and powerful force in the world?

When I close my eyes and try to listen for the sounds in my soul, what will I hear?

Second, your mind is a laboratory.

It’s not very large – the brain that houses our minds.

In terms of weight, it only takes up about 2% of our body weight. It’s about 78% water.

Yet it has 100 billion neurons.

By comparison a leech only has 350 neurons.

350 for a leech – a 100 billion for us!

So it’s not very big, it doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it’s mostly just unattractive

mushy grey water.

But – what an incredible laboratory it is.

It’s in the mind where you test life.

Where you observe what is going on around you and you process those events and facts

in the folds and chambers of the mind and you write your own definition of reality.

And it does that at the speed of light.

Trillions and trillions of times a day.

The mind is the laboratory where you try on different identities.

Am I powerful? Am I weak? Am I a teacher? Am I warrior? Am I a poet? Am I a

spiritual being?

It’s the laboratory where you test yourself.

How much can I learn?

How much strength do I have for the difficult job of just living life?

Where is my courage?

Where is my deepest fear?

Where is my longing?

What do I value most in the world?

What makes me happy?

What dreams make me smile?

What do I love in other people?

What do I understand of others?

Third, the mind is an entire world.

Close your eyes and you can image Paris, though you may have never been there.

Close your eyes and you can see deserts, the streets of Detroit, the Grand Canyon, the

White House, the inside of the atom, the far side of the moon.

The mind is an atlas of the whole world and at the speed of thought – far faster than the

speed of light – you can take yourself to any place your imagination can conjure.

You can create worlds that never existed.

You can see people and animals that have never lived.

Further, you can imagine yourself at any period in time.

You can see yourself marching in Alabama for Civil Rights, or dancing at the Hollywood

party with Denzel Washington, or sitting in Shakespeare’s theatre to see Romeo and

Juliet for the first time, or wrestling dinosaurs, or studying with Confucius.

No place or time is forbidden to you because you carry with you at all times the most

powerful passport on earth – the human mind.

Fourth, the mind is a storm.

Yes, there are times when the mind is uneasy.

When it doesn’t sit still.

When it’s full of noise and fury.

There are demons in the mind as well as angels.

There are times when the mind betrays you.

When it breaks under stress and you can’t control the storm of thoughts.

Times when all it sees is darkness and sorrow and fierce violence.

The mind, like any part of the body, will be injured and suffer terrible pain.

The mind cries out for peace and safety – and asks you to find a way to heal its injury and

calm the storm and bring peace.

No, the mind is vulnerable and needs to be taken care of, it needs nutrition and fertilizer,

it needs words and books and pictures and experiences to make it work as fully and

beautifully as it can.

Fifth, the mind is the birthplace of dreams.

You hear kids say it all the time – I want to be an astronaut.

I want to be a ballerina.

I want to be a baseball player.

I want to be king of the world.

That’s because a fertile mind is restless and it takes what it sees in the world and invents

possibilities for us.

We want to literally fly with the wings of eagles.

We want to sing in the sweetest voice the world has ever heard.

It’s the mind where your greatest ideas about yourself are born.

Finally, there are those who believe that the mind is God.

When Michaelangelo painted the Sistene Chapel he painted the creation of the world.

In his painting, God leans out of a great cloud to touch the fingertips of Adam.

The cloud that God lives in is painted in the shape of a brain.

Look at it. I’m not kidding. It’s a brain!

Michaelangelo equated God with the mind.

God is brain. God is idea. God is thinking.

Cathedral, laboratory, birthplace of storms and dreams, and God himself – the mind is all

this and much more.

So lets go back to my original question: what is a graduation and why do we care?

We care because this is the moment when we celebrate your accomplishments today, we

celebrate your respect for the most important thing we own,

the organ in our body that is closest to the spirit of Creation, to the source of our identity

and wisdom and power – the mind.

You said to yourself: I was born with this mushy grey mind and I could either use it or

lose it.

I could be content, like a leech, to use only 350 brain cells every day, or I could be fully

and beautifully human and engage all 100 billion little brain cells.

I could either let them all sit dark in the cave of my skull or I could light them all like the

brightest Christmas tree.

I could be happy with the routine thoughts that come so easily for me

– with the habits I acquired over the years

– the habits that make me sleepwalk through life

– never questioning, never engaging, just being content to passively feed my stomach and

nothing else

– to react only with my emotions and passions

– or I could push my own boundaries,

I could ask the right questions,

I could seek knowledge from others,

I could be unsatisfied with easy answers,

I could test my limits, I could strive for true wisdom and enlightenment.

So well done, you guys.

You made the right choice.

Every single one of you.

You wouldn’t be satisfied with what you were given and you made something better.

You worked hard, under difficult and dark circumstances – honestly, my friends, I can’t

image – and you wouldn’t give up,

you wouldn’t say no,

you wouldn’t take the easy way out,

you wouldn’t ignore the needs of your soul or the imperatives of your mind or the

questions in your heart,

you told everyone around you that you value thinking,

None of us know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

But today we know that we walked through a threshold and we took this ritual seriously

because it demands to be taken seriously, because we take our sacred minds, our

education, and our worth as human beings seriously.

Congratulations and good luck.

Reds,Yellows, Oranges and Everything in Between

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m still terrified. Of what will be, what might not. But for the very FIRST time, I am in complete control of my life.

I’ve been climbing these internal mountains; completing tasks that are quite frightening to me. I desire to move forward and make all my dreams come true.

That is what it is all about; my future. When I picture myself in ten years from now, there are many things I wish for. So I vow to make all these things my reality. Because what else is there? We get this one chance.

For so long I was unsure of my purpose or how I would leave my mark on this ever-changing crazy world. There has always been passion and love consuming me. I just didn’t know where to aim my focus.

I have officially been accepted to college, beginning this Spring. I will study nutrition and eventually natural medicine. These are things I have become very passionate about and I can’t wait to help people in their journeys and battles with health and all things related. I am ready to share my passion and make a difference.

I believe we all do things in our own time. We need that freedom to figure it all out. My free spirit was never meant to be contained. I was meant to travel to never-ending new destinations, experience the beauty of nature, and fly with the wind. Re-locating to New York over 3 years ago was what truly ignited that spark in me. All that I have learned as well as how much I’ve grown in that time has given me the strength to make me dreams come true.

I’ve heard it said and perhaps it is true, they save the best for last. Well here I am. As ready as ever.

Gratitude-Day 8

Be thankful for memories but don’t get lost inside of them. There is so much more to see and experience. The best is yet to come.
Today I’m grateful for moving on to bigger and better things. I have new memories to create. I’m excited to move forward.

Gratitude-Day 6

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Today I’m grateful for the past but even more excited for the future. All the while being sure to focus on the present moment. I’ll never stop fighting for what I want. I’ll never stop trying.
None of us know what tomorrow will hold for us. It is so important to enjoy today and simply to have fun. Find out what your passion is and live it everyday. We all deserve that.

Knowledge is Power

The time is now.  I’m an official New York resident and I’m ready to move forward in my pursuit of happiness.  I will start school in the Fall and I will be successful at whatever I choose.  I have never been more determined to learn new things.  Life will move forward no matter how hard I must push.

My Score Board

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If you want to be sad, live in the past.

If you want to be anxious, live in the future.

If you want to be peaceful, live in the now.

I’ve had all these things running through me for weeks now. Countless drafts and attempts but nothing would come out. Until now.

Summertime has been good to me this time around. I’ve spent some blissful days on the beach with the warmth of the sun nurturing my skin as well as my soul. There have been picnics and rooftop bonding time with the wonderous humans in my life. I traveled home and spent time with my family; always a blessing.

There is this tendency for me to live in the past and/or future at times. I believe we all get caught up in these traps, it’s difficult not to. Realistically, the only thing we can ever count on is the “now”.

Yoga helps me balance out all the craziness that constantly pulses throughout me. If ever I’ve believed in any method of therapy, yoga is it.

I feel that a lot of the thoughts I have are unexplainable to many people I come in contact with, even those close to me. I’ve learned that accepting things as they are is the only thing that settles me.

Why do I want more? Why do I wish for what others have? Why can’t I just breathe it all in and stay grateful? I still have so much to learn.

Maybe it’s time to move on again. This city I love is capable of holding me back and creating so much tension and chaos.

In my mind, transitioning my life to another new place is the easy part; starting over is what I’m good at. It’s saying goodbye to the old that leaves me feeling so weighted…

The Good Stuff

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Sometimes you need to slow down and appreciate just how far you have come.

That’s exactly what I made time for this morning. Sitting at a french cafe in the heart of Chelsea, I reflected on the past few weeks. There is definite evidence of progress. I have been participating in and enjoying Bikram yoga for close to three months now. My friend and I signed up for a 5k Summer series in Prospect Park. Every other Wednesday throughout the summer we will run a 5k. Ran one so far and although it was rough getting back into it, I felt proud to be doing something I love again. Running always makes me feel so strong. I made a commitment to cut sugar out of my diet and successfully went a whole three weeks without a drop of it. During that time I also consumed no alcohol and while I did have a few beers after my detox was over in honor of celebration, I have decided to quit drinking almost indefinitely. I don’t feel that need to escape that I once did which alcohol used to provide me and mostly just feels like I am poisoning my body whenever I do drink. I always feel worse. I only want to participate in activities that are beneficial to my body; I want to be good to myself. I established a personal doctor again and have been in for a few visits, it has been years since I’ve paid any attention to those important details of my life. This morning I was informed that I lost 12 pounds and drastically improved my blood pressure since my previous visit. I can only continue to work hard at boosting my health. Because all that matters to me is that I am healthy; physically, mentally and spiritually.

Aside from the focus on my health and wellness, I also recently received a raise after I obtained my New York City Health Academy certification in Food Safety. It feels good to be able to buy a few more groceries and not work so hard to pay the bills. I’m also looking forward to being able to travel a bit more often, so long as I can afford it.

I’m close to a month away from a trip home. I cannot wait to see my loved ones, have some fun and laughter and recharge my spirit.

I believe that life is mostly about timing. Sometimes things happen at all the wrong moments. But then again, sometimes it all works out. I feel strongly that there are amazing things about to happen in my future. I’m not waiting around or anything. My everyday adventures are more than I could ask for. I have the best friends, most supportive and loving family, an open mind, a big heart and the desire to always experience new things constantly and learn as much as I can. I believe the universe is taking good care of me as well as all of the hard work I have been doing.

Oh and it has officially been one year since I moved back to New York. I am still so in love with this amazingly versatile city.
I am a very lucky and grateful woman.

The Ebb and Flow

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Currently, life is good. My days are full and balanced with a good mix of hard work, friends and fun. I’m able to support myself on a barista’s salary even in this ridiculously expensive city. I’m taking care of myself in every way possible, more so than I really ever have in my adult life.

I can’t stop talking about how much yoga has changed me for the better. I’ve noticed an overall calm about myself on an everyday basis. Life will always have its many stress-ors but I feel more equipped to handle whatever comes along these days. I literally feel my body and mind constantly gaining strength. It amazes me how something so intense and challenging can lead you to a path of peace.

I had this moment on my walk home the other night. I felt a part of me wanting more; it was almost an aching. I realized I am no longer satisfied with what I have. I’m grateful, but I want more…

I have dreams of sharing my life with someone else, feeling the love of another, being a mother, building a story that I am proud of. I know these moments may come and they may not. So for now I’m working on being the best person I can possibly be.

Sometimes I feel like it is impossible to reach all the people who mean the most. Distances have become a big part of my everyday reality. I feel so emotional lately, like time is somehow running faster than ever. I just don’t want to run out of time.