Motherless Daughter

I have few memories of my mom from childhood and “before the divorce”, a phrase I use when describing this ephemeral yet idyllic time in my life. I remember when she would rub my headaches away as I laid on her bed. I remember her teaching me about the importance of putting lotion on and brushing my hair. I remember being spanked, hit with wooden spoons, and kicked in the ribs.

I don’t remember shopping with my mom, having the period talk or learning how to dress. I never learned how to do my makeup or act “ladylike”. I wasn’t taught how to cook or to handle boys, and had no one to question about my changing body.

Mom was hardly around when my parents were married. I spent days with dad wondering when she would get back from “bingo”. We were in bed before she tip-toed through the front door each night.

Bingo was just bingo at first, but it evolved into an affair with a man who is now my stepfather. This sparked fights and domestic violence, the darkest period of my childhood. Knives were pulled, furniture was broken, and all out brawls were displayed center stage for my brother and I. This all went on between my dad’s cancer treatment. After an enormous amount of  stress and turmoil for all parties involved, my parents finally split. My boyfriend asked me once, “Do you ever wish your parents stayed together?”

I answer with a resounding, “Hell no! They would have murdered each other!” A half-joke, at best.

Despite the child abuse, which I didn’t dare mention, my mom gained custody of us. Each night she brought this mystery man from the affair into her bed when she thought we were asleep, too afraid to introduce him into our lives.

My dad fought hard to regain custody, and he knew that she was abusive. In the back of the courtroom, they asked me who I wanted to live with. Who else would I choose but the parent who was always there? A moment went by, the judge made a decision, and I walked back into the courtroom to see my mom in heavy tears, an image forever emblazoned into my memory. What have I done? I held on to that guilt until high school.

After moving with dad, my mom wasted no time getting married to this mystery affair man, eventually starting a family with him. She moved to New Mexico and then to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, following her husband wherever he went. I never felt like my brother and I were a priority in my mom’s life, and this was the icing on the cake. I often wonder if this was “abandonment”.

We saw mom once every two years after that move – somehow getting through our teenage years without her. My dad tried his absolute best, but something was always missing. Something only a mother could give to her daughter. Birthday after birthday, I was left to fill that gap with no hint as to where to begin. In a way, I appreciate the opportunity to figure out myself on my own.

She gave birth to my youngest brother and assimilated into my stepdad’s family. They saw and knew her more intimately, and I was jealous. We were secondary – left in the background of my mom’s new life. I envy the mother-child bonds I see around me, wince when I see someone treating their mother poorly, and feel a little down each year on mother’s day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Because of this, my interactions with women are strange and uncomfortable. Dependence and reliance on others is not my cup of tea. I became self-sufficient, often ignoring advice sounding even remotely motherly. It’s very hard for me to feel “girly” and do “girly” things. I have self-esteem issues regarding my body and expressing my “femininity”, a concept that feels foreign. My female friends seem alien, and I study what they do and how they carry themselves. Can’t I just be a normal “girl”?

The good memories are strong enough for me to love and care for her still. At the end of the day, she is my mom. I recognize her attempts to connect and make up for lost time, but when I try to open up my heart, it feels forced and uncomfortable – like we missed a step between. When she calls, I feel plucked out of my own life, putting on a mask to ease the discomfort of knowing what a mother-daughter relationship should be like and living in that discrepancy. It’s like we’re trying to build this massive and complex thing, but it feels too little, too late, and is difficult with the distance.

“You know you can talk to me about anything,” she says. I give a half-hearted laugh and mutter “of course,” as I think about all the years she forgot what grade I was in or how old I was. She is a stranger. The bond is just not what it should be and feels disingenuous.

Should I still attempt a relationship with my mom? I struggle with this question.

She has never apologized to my dad or to my brother and I, nor is she the type to ever admit fault, a trait from a culture that is fueled by pride. I know deep down that she feels regret and lives with the sting of being distant and disconnected from her childrens’ lives. I want to have a conversation with her, but it feels too heavy for strangers, like we’re not on that level. Our conversations float above the surface, never delving into anything too intimate. I have forgiven her in my own mind, however, and I’m considering writing a letter to her that I will never send.

I purchased the book “Motherless Daughters”, a book for those coping with life without a mother. Most of the content is geared toward women whose mothers have passed away, and some of it discusses abandonment.

Sometimes I feel alone in this situation, and wonder if anyone else is experiencing the same. Advice for those who have lost their mother to death does not particularly pertain to me. She isn’t gone, though I hardly feel her presence and have lived most of my life without her. Advice for those who have been abandoned does not exactly address my situation.

My mom did not leave in the middle of the night never to be heard from again. She’s hanging on to our lives by a thread, and those tenuous strings cause a lot of confusion as I get older and think about my own marriage and motherhood. How do you build a relationship that should have been there during your most formative years? Do I strengthen this bond? Do I want to? Will it benefit me? Do we discuss the past or start a clean slate? Do I let go? Would I regret it?

“Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
(W.S. Merwin)

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Fear Driven: My Long Awaited Counquering of Driving

This is an archived post from 2010.

Last week was truly a monumental one for me. At last, I assembled my bits of courage collected over the last four years and got my driver’s license. Yes, it took me half way through college before achieving this “rite of passage” and, to be frank, I am still in denial.

As a twenty-year-old student active in her community, I somehow bore the humiliation of being a “ride mooch” who couldn’t drive anywhere, but always had to be somewhere. In four years, I have become a master ride-bummer… not necessarily a good thing.

So why did I wait so long?

Pure fear.

When I was sixteen, I was really excited to drive, but also harbored some paranoia thanks to the morbidity of the news. After being told, “If so-and-so can do it, you can!” many a time, I pushed my fear aside and practiced until it was test time.

Regrettably, the only vehicle we had back then was a very large space-shuttle-like van. Now, I’m only 5 feet tall and barely pushing 100 pounds. Practicing in it was difficult; I could barely see over the dash! There was itty bitty me, high up off the ground in a monstrous and clunking beast, trudging down the main road taking up all available space in my lane. I had no leeway. The van stretched back for miles it seemed, and I was unaware of  where it ended and began. I felt like I needed a “caution: wide turn” signal.

The dreaded test time came. It was my first shot. I wore my most comfortable shoes and sported a “driving outfit” worn for comfort and flexibility. I hopped into the big van with my dad in the passenger’s seat, and we drove off for the examination station in the early hours of the morning.

This is where the seed of my fear was planted. Not too far from our house, I decided to go back. My nerves were getting to me, and I decided my shoes would hinder my driving. Overthinking things, I wanted to head home to change them.  Dad told me to pull the clunker into a driveway and turn around to head home, but as I was backing out I went too far and the enormous van crushed the mailbox across the street tearing it clear out of the ground.

There was a loud crash, we dipped into a small ditch, and the van’s rear bumper was stuck to the mangled pole. It wouldn’t budge.  Dad was at a boiling point, and fear and adrenaline took over. I handed over the wheel, and he cleverly maneuvered us away. I was stressed and nervous beyond belief.

‘Do you still want to take the test?” dad asks.

And in disbelief I respond, “Um, I don’t really think I should be on the road… do you?”

He drove us home, and I stormed into the house furious at myself. I don’t know if my dad ever contacted the owners of the mailbox, but that incident was enough to keep me off the road for four years. I was terrified, and the intense fear was punishment enough.

Just last week, I scheduled my first driver’s exam since. Thanks to my boyfriend’s car and a new vehicle purchase by my dad, I was able to practice in cars much more fitting to my size, which made ALL the difference. I got an adequate amount of practice in, scheduled my exam for the afternoon, and I was ready.

I drove to the exam station with my boyfriend, the nerves making their existence known within my stomach. I walked in, they processed me, and then it was show time. It was a humid and rainy day, but as soon as I walked to the car with the examiner, my emotions turned off and I  was on autopilot.

Where I live, we’re required to take a maneuverability test similar to parallel parking. I did this first with ease save for a few bumps of the markers. Then it was time for the road test. We rode into a neighborhood, and I followed his instructions exactly. He marked me off for a few mistakes, but once we rolled back into the exam station parking lot, it was silent.

“You passed!”

Four years of tension and guilt flowed out of me, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I did it.

My newfound independence has been a godsend. Now my passion for volunteering can blossom in ways that were deemed impossible in the past. I’m already dreaming of the near future where I can pick up my “Little” and be the “Big Sister” I’ve always wanted to be. I no longer have an excuse to have “lazy days” every weekend, and I like it.

So instead of taking this common ability to drive for granted, I’m going to take this privilege of mine and share it with those who can benefit from it. Oh, and I won’t pass up the occasional shopping spree either.

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Quotes that have stuck with me

I am guilty of loving and saving inspiring quotes, but never living by them – there are so many out there! But what about those lines that find a way to latch on to you the minute you hear it? The ones that stick with you for years and years?

These sort of lines that stick with us always make life just a little bit easier to handle. Here are the words that have stuck with me, that I apply to many aspects of my life, and those things that I absolutely want to pass to my children when the time comes.

“Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

(Dr. Seuss)

Sure this is a Dr. Seuss quote, but what made it special to me was that a cashier at a store told me this little nugget of truth when I was young. I was with my dad at the register, and I wanted to buy a teddy bear for my boyfriend, but dad was teasing me about it saying it was unnecessary. Then, after checking us out, the cashier said this to me and winked. It really stuck with me ever since.

———–

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

(Maya Angelou)

I’m not sure how I came about this quote, but it’s been written in my diary several times. It helped me to realize that, with a simple change of perspective, you can change your mindset. The mind is a powerful thing. We make our own happiness!

———–

“Reject common sense to make the impossible possible!”

(Gurren Lagann)

Gurren Lagann is an animated show filled with virility. Although it’s centered around battling and mechas, the characters live to “shoot for the stars”. It’s an idealistic and aggressive show filled with daring chutzpah to be the absolute best you can be.

———–

“It goes on.”

(Robert Frost)

Robert Frost says, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life…” I found this in my book of Robert Frost’s poetry and I have it highlighted, circled and bookmarked. And it’s true, out of all that I’ve been through, one thing has stayed true: my life has gone on.

———–

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JdFglEm_QuU]

“This too shall pass.”

(Old proverb)

I first heard this line in a beautiful Regina Spektor song called “I Want to Sing”. Regina’s gotten me through a fairly large hurdle in my life, and I recommend her bubbly, jazzy music to anyone who wants a pick-me-up.

———–

“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.”

(Jane Austen)

While browsing for literary jewelry (yes, I’m a huge nerd), I found a necklace charm with this Jane Austen quote. I love the image of “indulging your imagination” as if it has a body and soul of its own, which sometimes I believe it does! Creativity, adventurousness, and so much more seep from imagination. It is the faculty through which we encounter everything, and what a wonderful thing it is.

———–

“Fake it ’til you make it.”

(Tyra Banks and many others)

Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model is a huge guilty pleasure of mine. It’s laced with tiny delicacies of confidence, beauty, and living your dream. In one episode, Tyra was speaking to a broken-hearted girl, on the edge of giving up her dreams because her lack of confidence. Exhausting all other options of motivating this girl, Tyra tells her to buck up and says, “Oh yeah? Well if you don’t have confidence, just pretend you do. You can fake it ’til you make it!”

———–

“Gain momentum in constant self-improvement.”

This was said by yours truly! It’s my own motto, and I live it day to day. We were all given the ability to improve ourselves, and there are limitless small and large ways to do so. So why not do it constantly? I understand the idea of simply being satisfied with who you are, but self-improvement doesn’t always have to mean changing yourself. There is always more for you to learn, more for you to experience and see, and all of this improves who you are. And once you start improving yourself, keep doing it until you gain momentum like a huge, growing, self-improving snowball!

———–

More personal ones…

  1. “Making something of yourself like I know you do?” – said to me by an old close friend
  2. “Always be an independent woman, and put your school first. No boys, no marriage, until school.” – my mom’s advice
  3. “Trust me – you don’t need rest to be beautiful.” – from my then boyfriend
  4. “I like your goals. They seem reasonable and I think you can do them all.” – another from the boyfriend
  5. “You walk like a model!” – one of my favorite compliments from a stranger

All of these lines are very special to me, and I hope that sharing them would stick to some of you as well. I tried not to flood it with too many quotes… just the ones that mean the most to me!

Side note…

Many of my readers have been asking for more content, so I’m going to post smaller, easier ones like today’s while I plan out my more meatier, heavier posts. I hope these can keep you occupied and make you think while I draft up the big ones I have planned.

I’ve got an opinionated post on compassion coming up tomorrow, another “Different Perspective” post, and one later that will look into the psychology of imagination.

So keep in touch, readers! And be sure to let me know what lines and meaningful words have stuck with you throughout your life!

Photo credit: ( 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 )
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The Sum of My Experiences: My Best Decisions

Image from we♥it

I haven’t had many experiences, but I’ve still been faced with decisions that changed my life. As the image says above, decisions – right or wrong – stem from and create experience. Be it getting married, going to college, or leaving a bad relationship, decisions can be tough. The change that accompanies them might be difficult to adapt to, but once you’ve made those changes,  you can look back and be proud at what you’ve accomplished.

I’ve been interested in the process of decision making lately, and decided I wanted to make a tribute to the good decisions I’ve made in my life because these are what’s made me who I am today!

So without further ado… I present to you:

My Best Life Decisions (So Far!)

Image from optimism_iskeyxx

 

Changing my hairstyle up

This may be a  trivial one, but I was never given fashion advice growing up, but one day I visited my mom and she insisted that I get a new hairstyle. So I got bangs and a dramatic cut in length! I adored how they shaped my face and the refreshing new look gave me something I had never felt before: self confidence in my appearance! Ever since then, I’ve been all about styling my hair and being more fashionable.

Taking the television out of my room

Another trivial decision, but a good one. (Especially now that there’s so much junk on television.) Now when I spend time in my room, I do more productive things like writing, reading or painting. It’s more peaceful. I do not want to know what’s going on in the life of Snooki.

Keeping a morning routine

Something about routines gets me stir crazy. However, living a life of complete spontaneity was making me forgetful and unorganized. So I settled for an early morning routine brimming with structure and efficiency.
I get up two hours earlier , eat breakfast, take my vitamins (the most important part of my morning), take the dog out, clean around the house, and read. I’ve gained so much from my morning routine: energy, peace of mind, and preparedness for the day.

Image from Static and Newspaper Print

Putting money in savings every paycheck and keeping it there

I suggest this to any poor college kid. I never have to worry about emergencies because I’ve amassed enough money to acquire a calm disposition in dealing with a potential financial disaster. Laptop fizzing out? Car troubles? A buddy in need? “It’s okay, I’ve got some savings!”

Writing in a journal when I’m depressed

Image from xchancella

This is a big one for me. It wasn’t until my first big breakup that I stopped writing fanciful little nothings and started writing down deep-hearted conversations with myself. My mind spilled everything out on paper desperate for stability.

It was cathartic, and I really found myself through my writing. I learned to forgive, I learned humility, I learned selflessness, and much more thanks to my silly little doodle-ridden composition notebooks and fancy silk journals.

Leaving my stressful job and working at the University

I left my job as a hostess for good when a server cussed me out for seating her while she took an unannounced smoke break. Quitting was a long time coming decision because all the servers were similarly rude to the hosts, and the manger did nothing about it, but this struck my last chord.

I now work at my school as an office assistant and receptionist, and have gained many skills and opportunities. I learned valuable etiquette, presentation, and customer service skills. I’ve been invited to formal dinners, I meet important higher ups and those with the whole-hearted generosity to donate thousands to the school. Networking is a big benefit as well.

Nothing but good things have come from this decision.

Getting the guts to start conversation with strangers

It was orientation day, my first day of college, and I went by myself. I prepared for this day. I came in thinking, “Okay, I am going to start a conversation with at least one person.” I scoured my table for someone to talk to, but everyone was with their parents.

We were given a tour of the school and later ushered back to the reception room and served some bitter lasagna and lemonade highly offensive to my papillae. I saw a guy sitting next to me with the same dish. “I’m going to do it this time,” I thought to myself. I turned to him and asked,

“Does this lemonade taste like toilet water to you?”

We’ve been dating ever since!

Image from sadiemaeglutz

Drinking less caffeine and more water

Water and juice never crossed my mind back then. For me, it was Coca Cola and any other caffeinated products I could get my hands on. When I was 14, I went through a two-week long period of migraines that drove my inner hypochondriac to a panic. I frantically searched a medical book I had lying around and came to the conclusion that I had a brain tumor.

Terrified, I begged my dad to take me to the hospital, and asked for a CT scan. They did it reluctantly, probably rolling their eyes. They found nothing in the scan, and I was relieved to hear that I was just very dehydrated. I was given water through an IV and a long lecture about too much caffeine! Now sipping a coke is an indulgence every once in a blue moon.

Starting Deliciae

The blogging world is full of interesting and smart people, generous enough to share their life and their ideas, and I wanted part of it. I’ve always been a fanciful and flighty human, with tons of ideals and no where to direct them to. So I decided to start a blog. I got into it for a while, then the real tough college courses hit. Now that I’m back, the thing that I truly enjoy most is the readership and getting to know new people. It’s a beautiful way to connect with others.

Going to college (and staying in-state with my family)

It’s the light at the end of the dramatic highschool tunnel: college. It symbolizes freedom, independence, self growth, knowledge, opportunities abound. I got to know my best friend better since college, I cast away my shell and became more outgoing, I’ve been in many organizations, met a slew of different and inspiring people, got a wonderful job there, and realized my passions. What’s not to love?

Image from knows-flower

And many more to come…

Writing this list had me smiling all over. It’s a very nice reminder in how much control I have over the direction in my life. I hope it inspired you to think of all the good decisions you feel you’ve made. Whatever they may be, I’m sure they’re quite the accomplishments, so give yourself some applause!

What are some of  the best decisions you’ve ever made?  Were they also your hardest?

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Prod Your Productivity Into Shape – 3 Tools for Effective Writing

Today, we have so many things to distract us from writing, and technology is one of them. Fifty years ago, writers didn’t have the strong allure of the internet to go flocking to when they wanted to push back their writing time. But the internet has now grown to the point where it may even be beneficial to our writing! (But only thanks to lovely, genius software engineers.)

Ever read Fahrenheit 451? Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit’s author, was a pretty disciplined man. Why? Because he wrote this famed novel with haste, in 30 minute spurts on a typewriter he paid 10 cents to rent out for just a half hour. He moved in to the basement of UCLA, where he had found this typing station, with a bag of dimes – thrusting them in as the clock ticked madly – and, with this limited time, he furiously churned out the draft of this popular, classic novel. Time and money – what an amazing motivator!

I was introduced to this story and another interesting tidbit via Sarah Wilson’s blog. As it turns out, Bradbury’s writing process was the early “prototype” of a technique created in the 80’s called the Pomodoro Technique. Here is their official website.

This technique, named after those nifty little tomato shaped kitchen timers (“pomodoro” meaning “tomato” in Italian) is a time-management method and a method in self discipline.

What you do is simple:

 

  1. Set a timer to 25-30 minutes – If you don’t have a spiffy little tomato timer, you can use one of these online timers listed on the official Pomodoro website. (I like the simple focusbooster app where you can turn on the incessant ticking if that prods you into working!)

  2. Move those fingers and write, write, write – You’re Ray Bradbury and your time is money! Your typewriter is ticking away and you have to fit as much of your future bestselling novel, article, or manifesto into this 30 minutes as you can. Don’t check your messages, don’t get on WordPress, Facebook, anything. This is your appointed time to write. My advice? Do not edit.

  3. Break time! – Your 25-30 minutes are up. Give yourself a nice 5 minute break. (focusbooster times this for you too, which is lovely) Get some sun, limber up, grab a quick snack, surf the web, check your email. It’s your free time to do whatever and you’ve earned it.

  4. Get back in the groove, go another round – You were in queue to use the typewriter and it’s finally your turn to give it another go! Shove that dime in (turn your timer back on) and go another 25-30 minutes. Get the bulk of that article done now while you have the chance. Go, go, go!

Do this process just one more time. If you still have words seeping from your fingers and want to keep typing, you now have yourself an hour break! Catch some lunch, you writing speed demon, you’ve earned it.

If you’re done writing, that’s great! Save your draft and revel in the word-countage you cooked up in such a short amount of time.

(And you don’t have to use this just for writing. Try it out for any chore or task you need to accomplish!)

If this process is enough to get you into gear, give yourself a pat, but if you still find yourself having trouble, might I suggest a bit more… wicked writing tool as an addition?

I’m talking about Dr. Wicked’s Writing Lab. Have no self-discipline? This evil invention invites (or is it “threatens”?) you to write… or die! Well, it’s not that evil, but it does claim to “put the ‘prod’ in productivity”. It is an online application based on operant conditioning, in which you choose your “punishment” for not typing after a certain amount of time. Set your word goal, choose your consequence, your grace period (forgiving, strict, or evil), and hit “Write!”

Your consequences?

  • Gentle mode gives you a pleasant little reminder that you’ve stopped typing, and tells you to continue. (It’s for your own good!)
  • Normal mode works best when your speakers are on full volume. If you stop, after some time, it plays a terrible song. Sometimes I get “Peanut Butter Jelly Time”! It quite literally scares you into writing more, and prevents you from stopping so you’ll save yourself from the ear-wrenching wickedness. (Now I’m not sure what else it plays because I get scared into working very easily by normal mode, but if you’re really disobedient and think you need a better punishment, try…)
  • Kamikaze mode. It is exactly what it sounds like. If you stop writing, your words will literally delete themselves. Terrible! Don’t let it happen. And don’t go back to edit, folks. It’ll hurt you in the long run.

This is my absolute favorite online writing tool. It’s even more thrilling to try and write in a quiet library. There’s a desktop version you can purchse for $10 if you really like it.

I love to use the Pomodoro technique and pair the focusbooster app with Dr. Wicked’s writing lab! These are three excellent tools to place on the first shelf of your writer’s toolbox.


Some thoughts…

The first time I tried this medley of productivity, I did some stream writing, and ended up with about 5500 words. It poked and prodded to me keep going, and I wrote about topics from Kidz Bop, to my boyfriend, to dance music, to the topic of judgment, and more. I even came up with some new painting ideas and a few future plans for my blog.

The draft of this post is written with these three tools, and I have to say, this is quite literally the fastest I’ve ever written a post. Drafting without editing is key. After your thoughts are all down, the rest of the process just zooms by.

I’m hoping those who get bitten by the procrastination bug or those who just need a new way to go about writing can find some use from these three tools.

As for me, I will never write the normal way ever again! I can only cower in fear imagining Dr. Wicked’s maniacal laugh as he implements his upcoming “electric shock” mode on all those with stiff and unmoving fingers.

Hopefully he’s just kidding about that one!

photo credit: (1234)

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Are We Too Occupied to Recognize the Little Things?

I feel I should explain the meaning of my blog’s title, Deliciae. (This was back before I migrated my site.)

It is a Latin noun for what we would call a “delight” or “pleasure”, sometimes even “darling” or “sweetheart”. Some may even recognize its similarity to “delicious” or “delicate”.

All of these words encompass what I’ve wanted this blog to project: life’s little, delicate, and beautiful things.

While listening to an old favorite band, Atreyu, I remembered a quote I came across long ago. It’s from the vocalist, Alexander Varkatzas. It reads:

“I was driving to a friend’s house, kind of daydreaming and the sky was this gorgeous shade of pink.

I just couldn’t take my eyes off it, it felt like I really forgot to breathe, and forgot about life in all its obsessive materialism for just a few seconds.

When I snapped out of it, I almost rammed into the car in front of me.It just made me think of how many perfect sunsets we miss at work or school or how many beautiful starry nights are spent on the Internet or in front of a TV.

We do all these materialistic things and we seem to neglect that each sunset is totally different than the last or the next and that the wind will never blow exactly the same way. It’s always 9-5, better do this, do that, deadlines, excess, bullshit that just isn’t that important.

Now, I am as guilty as the rest, but for a few blissful seconds it was remarkably clear.”

(Alexander Varkatzas)

He mentions beautiful starry nights missed while sitting on the Internet. It struck a sad chord within me. Have you gazed up there lately? On a quiet, dark night, it gives you a feeling like no other.

Unfortunately, I never really hear my cohorts speak of delicate, and beautiful night skies; constellations have lost their meaning and origin, and a lot of us are too occupied to look up and feel the intensity of colors in a morning sky – something little, yes, but so powerful.

In the ebb and flow of the work week and the strong influence of technology, I too forget at times.

I’ve spent, or I should say, wasted an unbelievable amount of time on the internet, social media websites and the vapid, mind numbing games and applications that come with them (read: Facebook). But that was before I decided to overhaul the way I use my “life” time. Before this overhaul, I naively surrounded myself with quotes I never truly followed such as Jane Austen’s:

“Teach us, that we may feel the importance of every day, of every hour, as it passes.”

And I would have tear-outs of old articles such as this one from a Newsweek edition in 2008 entitled, “What Old Age Taught Me” in which 91-year-old actor and film producer, Kirk Douglas, says he truly believes “the best is yet to be.” However, I never gave it a glance or any more thought like I once had.

Now I try to take these once cherished items back to heart. I realized that, after wasting two days of my vacation browsing Facebook, watching “Lost” on Netflix,  and checking my email ten times a day, I had to do something different with my precious time.

I didn’t want to get sucked into the “what’s his status now? …and now? And now?” addiction, so I stopped visiting Facebook for a whole two weeks.


It was difficult at first, but now I don’t feel the need to look at pictures of an acquaintance’s dad’s birthday party or check the status of 300 friends. (And, let me tell you, it is nice!)

I care to read some of these things, but my mind can only store so much information before becoming too cluttered. Whatever Timmy, Janice, and Emily ate for breakfast is not really something I’d care to store in my already crowded memory.

Unless I want to contact and keep up with a few close friends or get in touch with new ones, I try to avoid Facebook altogether. It’s a little scary to think that I was once yearning for this useless information. I was addicted, as many people still are.

My brain is no longer the attention-deficit mess that it used to be. Cutting off Facebook time and other mindless internet browsing has done wonders. I have time (that I never knew I had) to pursue more productive endeavors, and take a breather outside and watch the sun go down. I am so grateful for it.

Of course, I do believe technology has helped us tremendously in being ever-so-convenient. It even helps us spread the appreciation for beautiful sunsets and the little things. There is such a thing as too much, however.

The planet has never been more interconnected, and yet, could technology be taking away from our relationships and our lives?

What do you think, readers?

photo credit: MayrNeil Ritchie | livepine | laurenseagull

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Kickstarting Your Day: For the Unmotivated Dreamers

It’s a bright day, the natural light reveals all the outside world, and the birds are chirping. The world is alive. But you don’t know it, and you don’t care. You slouch on your couch hunched over with the blinds shut so not even a fraction of light shines through to warm your numb, expressionless face.

You have no energy to do anything today, and the meaning of “productive” has long been filed away in the deepest, forgotten crypts of your mind. So you sink into your couch, and hide behind your pillows – a false comfort – rationalizing, “Well, I deserve at least one more lazy day,” but we both know you said this yesterday.

And you know how dogs feed off their master’s energy? Max is sprawled on the recliner as if his muscles turned to jelly, looking around the room with slow, slow puppy dog eyes sighing and wondering, “When is something going to happen around here?”

You haven’t written a single word for your novel in weeks maybe months, and you stopped your small bout of exercising just short of it being consistent. Sometimes, you don’t even feel like going into work. And sometimes you just don’t.

What are you thinking? What are you feeling? You certainly aren’t thinking, “Man, what an amazing day. I feel so alive!” or “I have energy and momentum today! I want to get things done.”

But isn’t that what we should all be thinking?

What I described is a seemingly down, unmotivated, and numb human being. Someone merely existing, and not living. This was me two weeks ago.

I never thought or felt anything truly positive during those times, and I probably didn’t genuinely feel anything at all. There were so many things that I wanted to do, but I lacked motivation. I had no energy, no will, and no inner foundation of thoughts that set the base and mood for my day. But two weeks ago, I started my vacation from work with a purpose. I thought, “Okay, here’s 336 absolutely free hours of my life, what am I going to do?”

Sitting around playing video games and marathoning “Lost” was my first thought, but then the idea of using the 336 hours to do something extremely unproductive, in the biggest sense of the word, was appalling to me. I was ashamed that I had even given that notion a thought.

So what I decided is that I would use these two weeks as a sort of jolting, “Revival Retreat”. I wanted to shake my life up, I wanted to be progressive, energetic, and motivated. (Did any of those words come to mind when you pictured someone slouched on the couch in the dark?)

Of course, I know not many of you have this much free time, I am very lucky to have such a generous and flexible schedule, but I want to share the few little exercises that gave me the perfect kickstart to each day:

Now it’s your turn.

Close your blinds, make it very dark in the room, and get on your couch, your computer chair, or bed (wherever you lounge around). Now slouch over and wipe the emotion off your face, maybe even frown. Your eyes are only half open as you stare numbingly at your computer screen or television. You browse Facebook for the fifth time today, and check your email for the sixth, and yet you’ve only been up for three hours.

Now a big, heavy, long sigh. Your energy is draining, and you may even yawn. What are you thinking? Can you honestly think, “It is the most gorgeous and magnificent day out today!” without feeling… weird?

While writing this, I did this exercise and the first thought that came to mind was, “Can I really finish this post in time?” It was negative right off the bat! I had to reassure myself that it was only an exercise.

Now, all of a sudden…

…you rocket yourself off the couch or chair, and make a beeline to the windows. Pull open the blinds all the way, and let the ALL the light shine in. Notice how you immediately feel better?

Your surroundings have an instant effect on your mood. (Especially light!) So now the light is shining on your face, and already you feel more energized.

Now lift up your head and straighten your back in the most perfect posture, your natural posture. Just think: You are an ancient god or goddess, and now you’re showing confidence to your people, assuring them that, yes, you can take care of things.

Channel your inner Nefertiti or your inner Julius Caesar!

Pretend that, in any moment, someone will make a bust of you to capture your confidence, brashness and boldness for years and years to come. Feeling any better? Good posture harbors more confidence. (And it doesn’t hurt to pretend you’re ancient royalty!) More about confidence and posture here.

Last, but not least, give a big, toothy, genuine smile. If it’s difficult to do, think of your favorite delicious dessert or your loved one unwrapping and freaking out over a thoughtful gift from you. Not only are you a confident ancient ruler, but now you are also charismatic, and people eat that up. Don’t worry about giving an inaugural wave or anything, because your smile alone is an instant pick-me-up. Biopsychology theorists call this “facial feedback“.

Practice switching between these two dramatically different scenes, and try focusing on the outlook of your inner thoughts as you do so. Are they pessimistic? Optimistic? Did you feel a difference?

Any time that I find myself having an uninspired, stagnant day, I try to give myself and my surroundings a little jolt. Even if you don’t feel happy, confident, and charismatic, taking in the light, smiling, and straightening up will at least give physical cues to your mind telling it to “Get up and get going!”

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Unleashing the Mind’s Potential with Stream of Consciousness Writing

Stream of consciousness writing is a technique circled around release. Sure our mind has the capacity to think about and carry all of our problems, feelings, and thoughts, but when there comes to be too many facts and stored information, our minds are clouded and we tend to lose our ability to quickly reason through our problems.

Who is it for? Those who…

  • are stressed on a day-to-day basis
  • seem to have one problem after the other
  • have too much on their mind and unsolved problems
  • are looking for inspiration or that creative spark
  • suffer from writer’s block or those who are looking for some new ideas
  • want to improve their memory, vocabulary, and reasoning

How to stream write

What you’ll need:

  • a computer or
  • pen and paper or
  • a typewriter
  • basically something to write with – preferably one you’re fastest with!

Here’s the key: don’t limit yourself at all. The only way your mind can uncover ideas, repressed thoughts, and thousands of other possibilities is if you just let your writing flow freely. Don’t worry about typos, leave them there unless it’s absolutely vital to the meaning of your writing.

Let go of any inhibitions and write. No matter how profound, no matter how sad, no matter how taboo, no matter how repressed and deep into your mind it is, no matter how shallow, seemingly pointless, unimportant, trivial, no matter anything.

Write Write WRITE. CAPITALIZE. don’t capitalize. who cares about punctuation. Show your thoughts.

Give yourself about an hour. After writing for a bit, you’ll feel refreshed and unburdened. As if the accumulated thoughts you’ve been sweeping aside for months have been lifted from your shoulders and tucked away into one place.

Now save your document or hide away your journal. If you want it to be private, save it as an email draft or rename it to something no one will suspect.

When you’re ready to write more, open up the same document and continue from where you left off. Just make sure it’s all in one place. It’s easier to go back to and reference. You’ll be surprised at the phases you go through and twists and turns you take to get to where you ended. Don’t be shocked when you realize that your stream writing is a vault of new ideas for projects and other things.

My Experience

I took my boyfriend’s advice and did a little writing of my own. Surprisingly, I found I went through a few phases.

I began by writing about what happened earlier in the day, typical journal stuff. Then it moved to a critique of a movie I had seen earlier and some thoughts on how society may have viewed that movie. (By now, I had already come up with a few ideas for future blog posts!) Then I wrote about stream of conscious writing itself, and how, after a while, my hands just flowed freely, my thoughts translated from my brain through my arm to the keys of my keyboard so fluently and uninterrupted.

Every thought somehow connected to the other like a puzzle. One thing lured my mind to the next, and soon I delved into deeper topics about my feelings towards a few friends who have caused me much repressed mental strain. I came to clear, crisp conclusions about how I should react when certain situations arise with these friends.

These are conclusions that, unfortunately, my boyfriend has been telling me about for months! For some reason, though, I had to come to these conclusions myself, and stream of conscious writing allowed me to do that with ease (and unknowingly until afterward!).

Try it out and tell me how it goes in the comments!

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Reviving Your Childhood and Satisfying Your Insatiable Curiosity

At a young age, my parents encouraged my brother and I to explore. I spent my childhood conducting my own experiments outside during summer days in Texas. Even today, at 18, I enjoy lifting up rocks to find a slew of different creatures. (Only now I look them up online if I want to identify them – which I usually do!) I still capture spiders in and around my house, identify them, observe their behaviors, and let them go outside, I pull out earthworms from the dirt and look at them with awe, and I fly paper airplanes and try to create the most efficient one. My brother and I even have fencing matches with the water noodles at the grocery store.

Don’t ever lose this. Now my childhood curiosity blossomed into a strong interest in everything and gave me a strong basis of knowledge. (Plus it was so fun!)

If you’ve never gone outside to play wall ball or TV tag with your siblings, or gotten your feet a little dirty… If you’ve never had water gun battles, or sold lemonade or made paper boats, do it now!

Many of us have forgotten how to do this without guilt or anxiety that, as adults, we must be doing something that is worthwhile. Don’t forget to take some time away from your responsibilities and satisfy your natural human curiosity, and you have kids, share this experience with them!

Some psychotherapists call your inner child the “true self”. Spending some time with this inner child can boost your self-esteem and help you solve deep-rooted problems. Remember: talk with your inner child as if you were its guardian, reassure it, and uncover any internal battles.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood!

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A Deeper Motivation

My grandmother recently published a book – her second in fact. It’s being sold online and in Barnes & Noble stores all around. This is my dream! My dad would speak of her manuscripts and her many book ideas floating around for years and years. In my younger days I painted her to be a hero, and by some possible influence from her, I gained the same ability and passion for writing. I gained her creative mind.

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Death at Sunrise relates the story of the last public hanging carried out in the United States. Fiction mixes with fact as the reader follows Rainey from his beginning in Virginia to the small, rural town of Owensboro, Kentucky, in the early 1930s where his trial and hanging brought headlines from around the world.

The world around me brings many ideas to mind: a poem about loving an enemy who deeply hates, a poem about “shooting the messenger”, an art concept depicting a kiss as a bee’s brief visit to a flower… I may have all these ideas, but rarely does something motivate me enough to take on these projects, to take initiative.

Just seeing her book on my bookshelf though, with her picture on the back and with mention of my dad and even myself… I feel so inspired. I wouldn’t mind if I were not the next Dotoevsky (though the idea is enticing). I wouldn’t care if I sold one or one thousand books. As long as I’m up in the rankings with my flesh and blood, I’ll feel I’ve done well. When it comes to this dream, I’m stuck in the childish mindset: “make grandma proud!’

For some reason, though. I feel it’ll be worth it. What a bonding opportunity!

Is there something that deeply motivates you? If it’s an object of sentiment, do you keep it in plain sight?

I recently came across my 7th grade school certificates. One for doing excellent work in algebra, another for being a great office worker (twice!), one for being in drama and art club, another for being in honor roll, and more. I don’t even remember needing motivation back in 7th grade. I just did it. I acted on productive impulses with no inhibitions. What happened to that?

I want to get back to that point. I’m going to set these, along with my grandmother’s book, somewhere in my room in plain sight so I pass them every day and think:

“If she can do it, I can do it… without any inhibitions.”

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