The Pursuit

 

New Year, New intentions.

Love:Commitment:Meditation:Yoga:Travel:Education:Health:Improvement:

 

Simplicity is the greatest gift you will ever give yourself.  Material things mean nothing.  Life is all about knowledge, experiences and the memories that will stay with you forever.  Every year I wonder how I can possibly make a difference in this world and leave some sort of mark that will mean something long after I am gone.  I will continue to give my all.

 

I had a wonderful year.  I am thankful for every adventure.  I wouldn’t change a thing.  I will not look back anymore.  I learned so many new lessons and it was all worth it.

 

 

Two thousand and fourteen is sure to be extraordinary.  All I need to remember is to breathe.

~Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

The Perks

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In case I haven’t said this enough, I’m surrounded by great people. Recent interactions with certain “friends” made me realize this even more so.

I’m at a time of exploration in my life. In order to continually grow, I expose myself to as many new things as possible. Perhaps lately some of these choices have been on the risky side. But, as always I treat things with an open mind and I am always safe about it.

There seems to be those times in life. When you feel resistance from the people who have known you the longest. They say they are just watching out for you, they have your “best interest” in mind. But I don’t buy that. If you care about someone, it shouldn’t be a conditional thing. While I expect and appreciate some concerns to be expressed, I will not stand for the judgement.

We have to let each other expand our horizons. We all have different lives full of so many different battles. I’m happy with me but I’m still struggling to find my place. If you don’t understand that enough to stick by me through my explorations, than you weren’t really a part of me in the first place.

I will never slow down or stop doing anything I want to be doing. I am going to try it all. This is my only chance to experience all this world has to offer and I intend on doing so.

Looking Both Ways

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“Happiness depends on ourselves.”
[Aristotle]

I recently took a week-long trip back home to Sunny Arizona. This was my third visit since my move to New York over a year and a half ago. I could feel differences during this visit for a plethora of reasons. In a way, the visit felt overshadowed by the fact that my sister is moving back. It seemed that was all everyone could talk about. Then I began to approach it with more of an understanding and as I previously stated I only want what is best for Tiffany and do support her decision. If this is what she needs to find herself again, I am all for it.

I found it more difficult to plan time with my friends this time around. Could it be possible that the longer I spend away from my home town, the less important I become to those I was once the closest with? I know everyone is busy with their everyday lives but it would have been nice to see more of my close friends. I certainly felt bummed about it. It is always a challenge to plan a trip back home as I feel I have so many things to fit into such a short while. I am striving to fly back home more often although there are so many other new places I wish to discover.

No doubt that there were plenty of wonderful moments during the week. My entire family gathered together for a late Christmas celebration of sorts. Being around them always reminds me of how lucky I am to be supported in my decisions, no matter what they may be. I was on a definite high as I sat around my Aunt and Uncles fire pit on a windy but mild Phoenix night. My love for my family is endless. No matter where I end up I am comforted by the fact that they will be there through my successes and to lean on in my times of need. I did spend some time with some lovely friends as well. It was amazing to see them again.

While in Phoenix, we stayed with my father. I have never had what I would call a close relationship with him. But in the last year we converse often. I like my Dad a lot more as an adult and we have become quite close. He is the one who offered my sis a place to stay and a vehicle to use if she wanted to move back. He only wants what is best for us. He made sure to let me know that if I ever feel like I can’t survive here anymore that I can always go back home. I made me feel so secure to hear that and I am eternally grateful. But despite that offer, I know that I am not ready to return to Arizona. Especially not now and possibly not even in the future. Once I picked up my life and moved to the east coast I unleashed a completely different women in me. I crave more adventure and constantly desire and feed off of new surroundings and experiences. Every visit is such a reminder of my new independence. I appreciate where I came from and respect every life lesson that I learned while in AZ but it also represents nothing but the past. Certain streets, buildings, locations and landmarks even have the ability to make me sick to my stomach at times.

This leads me to the here and now and certain changes that are about to happen in my life. I decided a while ago that I would settle down in Columbus for the duration of my schooling. I have begun the beginning stages of figuring out all the details. I’ve said I was going back to school many times in the past but this time is different. I applied for financial aid and found out that I will most likely receive a Pell Grant. This last year of barely making money and struggling has finally paid off!! I am beyond ecstatic! So next week I plan to meet with a guidance counselor to figure out my next steps. The great thing is that the same nursing school I plan on attending here is one that I was interested in Phoenix years ago, so I’m already somewhat familiar with the process. School begins in July so I have much to get situated before then.

Everyday life has been a struggle without a car during this winter season. I am currently on the search for a vehicle and looking forward to simplifying my commute from work to the gym and home again.

I am still marathon training, although I can’t say that I am the least bit proud of any of my current workouts. I am working at getting myself back on track in this new week. Running has been much more painful on my body lately and my excruciating leg cramps have seemed to return during the nights. Sneaky bastards. It’s unbelievable how difficult it can be to recover from a week-long vacation with little exercise. Regardless of obstacles, I am still at the gym six days out of the week giving it my all. I have a little over 4 months to get myself conditioned enough to run those 13 miles that I’ve been dreaming of for months now…

So I’m going strong on this path of self-improvement and each day continues to teach me some new lesson or bring out more strength from within. You know that saying out there, about everything happening for a reason? Well I believe it and, in fact, I am living it. I would’ve never guessed I would end up living in Ohio at thirty, finally getting my shit together to build a future for myself. But here I am. Now that I am here and finally understand how to regain complete power over my life, I am in full speed. All I need is to believe in my dreams and nothing can ever get in my way.

Tides

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Here we are. We made it to the big 2012. Another year, another 365 days full of new opportunities, challenges and constant learning. I’m proud to say that this last year taught me more than I could have possibly imagined. I finally found the strength and courage that I always knew I had hidden inside. I used that strength to begin new obstacles and most importantly I did something that I was never able to before, I learned how to stand up for myself, for once.
There were highs and lows and such is life. Here are just a few highlights from 2011:
High Point-
Turning 30 and being able to celebrate in NYC.
Low Point-
Having to let go of my best friend. Forever.
Favorite Musical Album-
Lungs by Florence + The Machine
Biggest Sacrifice-
Moving from NY to OH
New Favorite Restaurant-
SNice Vegetarian Cafe/Red Bamboo
Biggest Accomplishment-
Running 7 miles straight
Favorite Culinary Creation-
Vegan “Chicken” Taquitos/Chocolate Covered Strawberry Birthday Cake
Favorite Road Trip-
Boston
Favorite Hangout Spot-
High Line Park/Central Park
Best Night Out-
Brooklyn Bridge Dance Party with Caitlin and friends.
Favorite Natural Disaster-
Blizzard(s)
Favorite NYC Landmark-
Brooklyn Bridge
Favorite Sport-
Running

So I don’t believe in resolutions. I don’t think it’s necessary. I would rather make continuous simple goals throughout the year as well as always challenge myself with new endeavors. I am committed to bettering myself on a daily basis. That’s just how I’m wired. I will continue to focus on my mental health and well being as I feel this is the most important thing in my life. I come first and my happiness is all that matters to me at this point in time. No one can possibly hold me back from my dreams.
All my energy, effort, heart and soul will be put into training for the half-marathon in May as well as beginning nursing school.
I am beyond fortunate to have met some wonderful new people in 2011 and as I’ve said on many occasions, I would not be half as strong without them.
If you happen to follow these ramblings of mine, thank you. I love to write. I keeps me feeling alive. I will continue to share my life through this blog as long as I feel it is appropriate.

I wish you all the very best in this new year upon us. Follow your passions. That’s all that matters in life.

Blank Canvas Construction

It’s been a while since I’ve been unemployed. Up until a week ago I was working 6 days a week between 2 jobs and pretty much loving it. So although it’s nice to have a bit of down time, it goes against my internal clock. I’ve been feeling a bit lazy and it’s starting to drive me crazy. I have an important interview tomorrow and really hope I get this job. Employment is all I need to get the ball rolling in my new environment. I already found an adorable house that will be mine on November 1st, just in time for the holidays. I may not have any furniture yet but at least I can decorate and make it feel like home. So excited.

So… Good thoughts, good thoughts, good thoughts. I know everything is going to work out. It just has to.

The Sweet Uncharted Sea

As we grow up, sometimes our needs seem to overpower our wants. There are things I’ve been missing as I embark in this newness. But the bigger picture always keeps me going. Hope for the future and the better life I’ve been searching for all along is what I’m holding out for. I miss people, places and things. But I will always find something or someone new to latch onto. That’s just who I am; it’s how I’m wired. Nothing can stop me now.

Que Sera, Sera

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Days after my thirtieth birthday, my health and most importantly my energy level started to deteriorate rapidly. It was so drastic that it really threw me off guard. I went from running and hitting the gym daily to constantly feeling completely exhausted. I can’t even begin to fully describe the severity. Most of the time I could barely make it through an eight-hour work shift without wanting to die. I would struggle to survive a work shift, attempt to stay awake on the transit ride home, and pass out as soon as I stepped foot in my apartment. Getting a good nights sleep wasn’t helping either, at all. I started loading up on multiple vitamins and started eating super healthy again. Still no improvements. This went on for almost two full months. I have never felt so debilitated in my whole life. Most days I just wanted to die. I barely ever went out and my co-workers at both jobs pointed out that I was clearly not myself.

There were also many changes going on in many different aspects of my life, not to mention the chaotic living situation that I was put into without my permission. I think that depression caught the best of me even as I was fighting so hard to keep positive. As someone who has fought this disease since I was much much younger, believe me when I say that it can be very serious.

So I fought back. And in the midst of losing another one of my best friends, trying to find a new roommate and attempting to plan out my next moves, I somehow started feeling like Jamie again. Thank god. I was so low that I could barely handle it.

I made the choice to leave New York. It is time for me to fully grow up, go to school, get a real job and build a family. Not because these are the things that are expected of us as we get older, but because these are the things I want and need to complete me.

The day after I made this decision, I was walking around the city. I became overwhelmed by so many emotions. I could barely breathe. I just kept thinking of how many things I have still not done here and how many things I still want to do and see. Everyone keeps telling me that I can always come back but I know I could never live here again once I leave. I am so grateful that I could make it work for a year and that I am able to say that I resided in the most amazing city in the world. Thankfully I have made so many amazing friends. I know that I am welcome to visit and stay with any of them whenever I so desire.

Sometimes we make our own decisions and sometimes life decides to push us; possibly a combination of both. Either way, we have to move on. We were never meant to stay in the same spot for very long. We need to spread our wings, win, lose, laugh, cry and grow stronger. We have to explore. There is so much to see and do. On to the next adventure…

April Showers Bring May Flowers

I’ve been in a stupid, lame and inexcusable mood lately. The good thing is that it usually just takes one really great day to bring me back and snap me out of it. Today brought me back to life. I actually feel stable and not worried about anything. Nothing. The weather has been unbelievable so I have been walking everywhere, including nightly strolls through the park with the dog. I started my regular gym routine again. That alone has really boosted my demeanor. I re-arranged my room just to change my environment a little. That always makes a difference.

Tomorrow I start my new job and I don’t feel at all nervous, for now anyways. I’m excited to meet some new people and challenge myself again. That’s what life is all about. Looking forward to being able to save money again for the first time in years.

Today I am proud of me. For being exactly who am. Sometimes I tend to need validation from others no matter how much my confidence has improved, but not today. I am, without a doubt, still very much a work in progress. But in this moment I’m positive that I fucking rule, flaws and all.