October 23, 2016

An Honest Post

I have found myself in a really dark place lately. It’s nothing new really, I’ve faced depression before. This year, however, has been the hardest one in a while. Beginning in March, I found myself feeling really sad and empty. I would stand in the shower and begin weeping for a good 30 seconds. Then the weeping would end, like a faucet being turned off. No drip of a single tear, no thoughts as to why I was sad or crying—nothing. That lasted for a few weeks. It’s a little different now. I am sad and I feel hopeless at times, but there is minimal weeping. I am not sure why that is, but a part of me thinks that it’s because after so many years my circumstances haven’t changed and so there is no hope of them changing now. It’s kind of like settling, or being at peace. Except I am not really at peace. I just have an understanding that life is what it is. We can will it to change, but maybe it won’t. We can work hard to attain our goals and dreams, but we may never make it. THIS IS THE UNCERTAINTY OF LIFE. Que sera, sera.  

That is a really strong revelation to have during an emotionally unstable time, isn’t it?

I did not arrive at this revelation on my own, however. I was listening to Corinne Bailey Rae's The Love E.P. few weeks ago, when her beautiful (extended live) rendition of Que sera, sera began to play. This is actually one of my all-time favorite songs, so I know the lyrics pretty well. But that time it really hit me like something new. The story of a woman wanting to know what lies ahead for her future and receiving the response "Whatever will be, will be; The future is not ours to see" is so profound in its simplicity. As humans, we are all so caught up  with what our futures will be like. We set goals, we have big dreams, we make plans years in advance. Sometimes they come to fruition and sometimes they don't. 

I remember growing up, I wanted to work in the healthcare field. I wanted to be a doctor-- more specifically, a neurosurgeon, after reading Ben Carson's book Gifted Hands. I carried this goal with me for years. I went to college with the intention of being a Pre-Med student and attending medical school afterward to attain these goals. Then freshman year Chemistry kicked my butt, Molecular biology kicked my arse and I just. struggled. I even had my freshman adviser say that I should "study music, or something" since I was having such a hard time. I got rid of her as an adviser and found favor with another professor who carefully guided me through my remaining years of undergrad. It was then that I fell in love with laboratory work and research. I changed my goals to cancer research and worked feverishly to attain it. I attended graduate school for 2 years and graduated with high hopes of starting my career in Research immediately. That did not happen, however, as here I am four years later with 880+ submitted applications, zero offers, thousands of dollars in student loan debt, 2.5 years as a bank teller and 6 months as an administrative assistant to show for it. Que sera, sera.

This has caused me to cycle through the gamut of emotions (including the depression that I mentioned earlier) because of my circumstances. However, nothing has quite brought comfort and solace until grasping the idea that when it comes to life, Que sera, sera. No matter how many self-help books you read, or motivational speeches you listen to... no matter how many suggestions friends, loved ones, colleagues, etc. throw at you, and no matter how many of them you try, the truth beneath it all is that whatever is meant to happen in your life, will happen. Yes, sometimes we wish really hard for something and that wish comes true. Yes, sometimes we work our butts off over many years to attain a goal and we finally reach it. Yes, sometimes we don't don't work really hard for things at all and they seemingly fall into laps. Yes, that too! But that is not the case for everyone. Sometimes people work just as hard, if not harder, to attain goals and never reach them. Sometimes they never give up.... they fight their entire lives, only to come up short. It's just what was in the cards for them. It is what is in the cards for you. It is what is in the cards for me. 

I've noticed a trend in the past few  years. I can't think of the appropriate terminology for it right now, but it is along of the lines of people making themselves gods... or a form of God. They have mantras like "create your own reality" or "Self-achievement". We have become a very self-reliant generation. One where we rely on our own strengths and powers and will to get us through. I don't believe in that way of thinking however, because as human beings, we are very weak. We are fragile. We are breakable. And no amount of inner strength can prevent us from being broken. Similarly, often times, no amount of wishing or working to attain something will make it a reality -- if it is not written in the cards for your life. You see, people fail to realize that humans are not gods... WE are not gods. We can't will something to happen and then have it come to pass. I think that by chance, sometimes, it may happen that way, but that is neither coincidence or chance. It is your life's will. I believe in a sovereign God who know's everything about our lives - beginning to end. I believe that every detail of our lives are already written - who our parents are,  who we marry, who we give birth to, when we die. I believe it is all a story that is written out for us, all that's left for us to do is live it out. 

So yes, sometimes it's difficult for us when we set goals and never attain them. It's even more frustrating when we try hundreds of various ways to attain them with no luck of doing so. But sometimes we have to accept where our lives take us, because that is what is written in life's story for us. Sure, no one wills to be impoverished. No one wills to be born with or acquire a debilitating illness. But that is the life people get dealt sometimes and the people in those situations live with those circumstances to the best of their abilities. It does not stop them from being sad at times, and it does not stop them for wishing for a change, but they learn to live. And live they must! For we are only given this one life on earth. It may not be the "best", but it is what it is. 

Que sera, sera. 
Whatever will be, will be. 

October 1, 2016

Self-Care, Self-Awareness and Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October - Breast Cancer Awareness month is something I've been passionate about for a few years now. It started when I was 16 yrs old and discovered I had lumps in breast (that turned out to be benign). That interest further develop when my mother's cousin died from cancer within a few months of diagnosis leaving behind an 8 year old daughter. Being a biology major in college and studying cell signaling pathways and how the turning on (activation) and turning off (inhibition) of certain genes in our bodies could adversely affect the incredible innate order of our genes, have enticed me even more. I was then offered this amazing opportunity to work in a Breast Cancer Research lab one summer while in graduate school and it was like the fire and zeal were ignited even more. 

It's been a few years since then that I posted something about breast cancer awareness. I think I was a little disheartened at not being able to find work in a field that I loved so much. But that interest was never completely lost. 

Of course we are all AWARE of breast cancer by now. But being aware is more than 'knowing' that something exists. It is being proactive and in tune with one's self, checking to make sure you and your family members are healthy. Obviously this goes beyond breast cancer awareness. It encompasses total body health. But for you women out there- young and old- check yourselves. Check for lumps or anything that doesn't seem normal. Don't overlook discomfort. Make regular appointments to see your family doctor.... Just take care of yourselves. 🎀

April 10, 2016

Article 13: Art Installation


The Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts kicked off on Friday night with an eye-catching exhibit called Article 13 at Penn's Landing.  Here is a little blurb on the show/exhibition:
"Equal parts installation, spectacle, and documentary, Article 13 is a large-scale story made out of small stories in a constant state of evolution, based on current events related to immigration. A collaboration between Compagnie Carabosse (France) & Teatro Linea de Sombra (Mexico), Article 13 is a memorial to the thousands of migrants who have disappeared and at the same time it gives back human face, flesh and identity to the anonymous ones lost in search of a better world.
The memorial, made of sand and fire, personifies the scope of the phenomenon of immigration through the non-traditional presentation of statistical data, economic evidence, geopolitical aspects, the forms of those who have disappeared, and how things relate to each other. Along this path of inhabited installation, audiences are touched by words, snatches of conversation, and accounts given by migrants; providing seemingly lost perspective that these people — before they were statistics, or a number of 'disappeared' in the media, or even dangerous suspects — before all else, are human beings." (source)
Immediately after entering the gates to the outdoor exhibit, we saw these wooden statues 'walking' through bits of sand, surrounded by candles. Through the speakers, we could hear the voices of men and women with accents specific to the native lands telling their stories of wanting to make a better life for themselves-- having a dream and wanting to fulfill it. This resonated with me as I myself am an immigrant and the daughter of one. My mother told me stories of leaving Jamaica when I was 10 months and coming to America to make a better life for herself and her children. I am sure that most migrants share this story of hope and desire. This is also a relevant topic since immigration is such a hot button topic these days.

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As we walked into the main exhibit, we were coming upon the finale (gahh! finding parking downtown is the worst!). Every section of the lot had a fire pit of some sort set up. The performers all had a routine that no one seemed to understand initially, but then it began making sense. They doused the clothing in water, slapped it on the fire pit, walked around and showed it to everyone, and then laid it down on the ground. I saw this as symbolism for those people who risked their lives trying to cross the waters-- trying to cross the borders, but they didn't quite make it. The performers made it a point to remember those people. It was not enough to remember those who have made it, but to also remember those who had similar dreams, but were not able to make it a reality.

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The exhibit runs until tonight, April 10, 2016. It is completely free. If you are able to see it, then go.  It begins at 9pm.

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