December 31, 2016

Ode to 2016


As 2016 draws to a close, I am left reflecting on the year. The year started off exactly how it did in 2015. But with time, it got better. I was finally offered a position  that was somewhat close to my academic studies. That dream of having a fully furnished home started coming together. We were able to save up for a pretty epic anniversary trip to the Southwest (hopefully I will be able to share some photos of that in the near future). I was also able to shoot a couple weddings, engagements and family shoots. After years of baby fever, Beau and I have adopted our first baby together- a 2.5 year old, hungry-belly guinea pig named Zelda. She snapped me out of that baby fever rather quickly. And though it is not the same- nor even remotely close- to having a real, live, human baby, she is enough right now. 

More than everything, this is the year that I understood the true meaning of life. You can read all about that realization in my previous post, but here's the general idea: Life is what it is. We don't choose what is handed to us. We don't choose to be starving artists. We don't choose to lose loved ones. Simply put, we do not choose the bad things that happen to us. Neither do we choose all the good that happens to us either. But that is how it works. Life is unpredictable. It is lovely and it freakin' hurts! The best that we can do is live it gratefully. Take the bitters and the sweets, because that is what builds our character and leaves lasting impacts on those we meet. 

I am grateful for this lesson in life, and I thank 2016 and all the years before for supplying me with this knowledge. 



“Abandon the urge to simplify everything, to look for formulas and easy answers, and to begin to think multidimensionally, to glory in the mystery and paradoxes of life, not to be dismayed by the multitude of causes and consequences that are inherent in each experience -- to appreciate the fact that life is complex.”   M. Scott Peck

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

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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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April 4, 2016

I Guess This is Growing Up: Intro - Transitioning Into Adulthood

I Guess This Is Growing Up - Black and White (1)

In an effort to make sense of this thing called 'adulting', I have decided to dedicate a blog series to all the things growing up. 

The transition from high school to college was pretty easy. I had no real responsibility other than taking classes and getting good grades. I worked at a church as an administrative assistant when I was home during the summer and winter breaks for sophomore, junior and senior year. I also did some babysitting for a beautiful little German-American family throughout the school year. As I entered graduate school, I also had the ease of not needing to work, as my mother thought it was best to focus on my studies. She would deposit a little bit of money in my account once per week but that wasn't enough, so I did babysitting again and also landed a work study position at an AIDS organization in New Haven, CT. There wasn't much of a transition from undergrad to graduate school other than living on my own and having to prepare my own meals. I still had really late nights and pretty easy days.

In 2012, I completed grad school at the age of 24 and got married about 6 months later. After getting married, I was on  an everlasting mission to begin my career. This involved a lot of job hunting during the day --That was my full-time job. Since I had no real responsibility outside of the home, my late nights continued. This caused me to be stuck in a similar routine (and subsequently a similar mind-frame) to my college-aged years because I was not doing much during the day.  It wasn't until I began my part-time gig at the bank in 2013 that I started to realize that I had been stuck in that routine and needed to find my way out. But being part-time, my work days did not start until noon, so that meant I could continue to stay up late at night-- this time, job hunting instead of fluffing around doing nothing (but sometimes I did that too). As a year went by, and I began working more hours, and I got one year older, and then two... I realized the detriment of this habit even more and the need to cut it out. And this is where the growing up began. I started to realize other habits that I could no longer keep up with. My body trying to signal me to stop doing certain things because it wants- no needs- a change, and it's sending out blaring signals to initiate that change. That is the purpose of this series.

I will be sharing some of these changes that my adult self is trying to usher in and what that process looks like. Stick around.

#Iguessthisisgrowingup

March 21, 2016

Spring Break

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I am taking a week off from work. It's a spring break of sorts. I have never really taken more than a couple days off in the past because I was working part-time, so I was saving my vacation time for my anniversary in November. Now that I am full-time, I have more time to take a well needed break. 

I don't have anything planned for the week really. I am just taking some time off to relax and regroup. I plan to get some reading done -- get my brain cells working on something other than just greeting customers and counting cash for a change.  I want to clear my head. I have endured quite a bit of disappointment the last few months, and I just need time to process it all.

Sometimes I feel like I was not made for this life. Life is hard and I currently feel like I am not strong enough for it. There are too many moments of discouragement... Too many failures. Simple tasks are daunting. I feel broken when something doesn't work-- and with reason too! I have endured way too much for one person. I am merely hanging on by a thread.

You know those people who are strong-willed? Seemingly nothing breaks them. I'm not like that at all. I want to be 

March 3, 2016

Living In The Present

Do not look back and grieve over the past...

"Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering."

I've realized something recently -- that no matter how hard life gets and no matter how miserable it may seem at times, it gets better. I have spent the last four years hoping and wishing for so many things: my 'dream' job, comfort, joy-- that I almost missed the point and the process. Life is a journey. That means that we don't drive one full distance and some how land at our destinations. There are bumps in the road, and people who cut you off, and periods of rest, and even times when you roll the window down and sing at the top of your lungs in complete bliss.  It is not one straight, boring drive. So, sometimes when life seems rough, take time to regroup and find the good in the journey.

When taking stock of the last four years,  I see how much I have grown. I realize that those hard times passed. They passed! I am glad that I waited out those days and nights when I thought I could not go on any longer. I am glad that I did ride out the storm. Most of all, I am glad for days like today, when I can remember that all is well; I am still alive. And I can put this memory in my pocket for later down the road when life seems hard again. I can look back and say "Remember how you've made it through before? Hang on... smooth sailing/driving is ahead." 


February 16, 2016

Begin Again

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For the past year or so, I have shied away from sharing much in this space. One reason being that there is nothing really new and exciting happening in my life at the moment. The other reason is that I have been utterly miserable and there is only so much sharing of displeasure one can give without being seen as a total Debbie Downer.

But, I do miss blogging. I miss sharing the small and great things. I miss sharing photographs, thoughts, and music. I miss it all. I want to begin again-- this time, without the fear of sounding redundant, seeming like a downer, or even worrying that my syntax is not strong enough for it. I want to get back to blogging because it tracked personal growth. Blogging brought me joy... it brought me peace.

I am going to begin again.

January 29, 2016

28.

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Today is my 28th birthday, and I guess I don't really have many thoughts on the matter, but I what I do have, I will share them in this space.

I have to think twice about my age these days-- like, asking 4 year old how old they are and they hold up 2 or 3 fingers? -- yea, like that.

One thing I have noticed a change in is my physical appearance, mainly in my face. In comparison to old selfies (can't believe I just said that), I've noticed that my face has a mature look to it, though my eyes haven't changed much. 

I have noticed that I am a little more slow to anger, and much less likely to hold a grudge... neither of which were good for my well-being anyway. 

I have gained a bit of weight over the past year (much to my displeasure). I am in a weight bracket that I have never been in my life, but plan on not keeping it this way.

Sometimes, I look at pictures of other women on social media. They look all glammed-up and gorgeous and I end up feeling like a plain Jane. So, I have been on a matte-lipstick buying spree, and sometimes I throw on a bit of medium-coverage foundation. But I am still just a 2-coat mascara girl most days, and I guess I am okay with that. 

I think about motherhood a lot more lately, but not in the "broodish", "baby-feverish" way I did in the past. I think long and hard about how life would change, what kind of mother I would want to be, and how sometimes this whole parenting thing scares the crap out of me. However, I am glad that we are able to think through these thoughts before making that big leap. 

All in all, this has just been a year of self-observation and self-learning for me. I finally feel a little more grown-up. A little more in tune with who I am as a person. 
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