Friday, August 31, 2012

Taking it Slow

Back to School!

Pace Yourself and Know Your Limits

Back to School!
It has finally arrived- the first week back to school! My mysterious absence on my blog and the title of this posts probably says it all. The first week at Penn- fondly called NSO (New Student Orientation)- is notorious for its endless frat parties, heavy day drinking, and best of all no classes! Needless to say it can get pretty raucous and I learned the hard way that my little body just can't keep up. After two nights going out relatively "hard" aka drinking significantly and staying out late my body decided it didn't want to take anymore and I slept through all of yesterday. So when I talk about pacing yourself and knowing your limits I don't necessarily mean it in the traditional way- being drinking slowly and knowing you alcohol tolerance. I literally mean know the limits of your body and how much activity you can physically handle. This lesson can be used in a variety of situations- whether it's partying at NSO, knowing how much you handle at work, being aware of how many responsibilities or tasks you can juggle, or your course load for the semester. Pace yourself and know how much you handle without burning out. I have already done this for the upcoming semester by only registering for 3 classes rather than 4 which would be considered a "full load." But I didn't anticipate needing to recognize limits for myself during the first week of school. I am nearly 23 years old. I have been drinking and going out for quite a while now. I know how much I can drink in one given night or over a period of time responsibly. But I too often forget that my body does not always want to go along for the lengthy, rowdy, and occasionally crazy ride. I still have 4 days of NSO left and after my 24 hr sleep I am ready to follow my own and advice and take it slow for the remainder of the week. I have chosen a quote of course to remind myself and you as well the importance of knowing the limits of our bodies and respecting them- 

"The human body is the only machine for which there are no spare parts."

You can't afford not to slow down sometimes-
- Hermann M. Biggs

We run and run and run, go until we can't take anymore, and stack burden upon burden on to our minds and bodies as if we are invincible. But the truth is there is only so much our bodies can take and when we push too hard we can break and when we break there are no spare parts to fix us. Unlike a car, computer, or any other machine humans have created that can be repaired to work like new our bodies cannot. Yes there are organ transplants and antibiotics and plenty of medical inventions to help restore our health but in truth we are never quite the same. After an operation or an illness there is a recovery time that we must allow ourselves. And even after that time has passed our bodies and minds remember the experiences. Replacing one's heart is not the same has getting a new front bumper. Ultimately it is up to us to get to know our own bodies and take care of them properly. Maybe it means taking one less class or taking a night off from going out with friends. Perhaps you are not a student anymore and your body and mind require different breaks, like using your vacation days for vacation or hiring a sitter one night to watch the kids. So maybe its not your first week back at school and maybe it is but either way the lesson is the same: pace yourself and know your limits (at school, at work, at home, everywhere!) We are not invincible beings so give your body a break and take it slow.

Be healthy and well,

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Cutting the Strings- Part 2

A Fond Farewell

Creating Healthy Boundaries

Goofing and taking illegal pics during a Renfrew visit-
I love and will miss them terribly !
About a week ago I reported that I literally cut the strings, the string bracelets, that I had collected and adorned during my time in treatment. Although I had physically cut the strings I had not acted accordance with my behavior. I continued to visit friends in treatment, stay in contact with treatment friends, and allowed my mind to stay in that world. I have been thinking a lot about what I needed to do to create healthy boundaries for myself. I can't move on with my life at school if I constantly have my foot in the door of The Renfrew Center and other treatment facilities I have stayed at. I told myself that I had cut ties and was ready to move on but I was only lying to myself. Even though I removed the bracelets I had not eliminated the attachment I felt to those places that have saved me and brought me great comfort in times of need. Unfortunately I currently have 6 friends in treatment at Renfrew right now and I felt it was my obligation as a friend to visit them as much as I could. It's so confusing for me because I want to be a good friend but visiting causes an issue for me. It keeps me in that world. It makes treatment seem appealing and almost like a valid lifestyle. But in my heart of hearts I know it is not and that is not where I want to be or spend the rest of my life. It's time to let go and move on. So over the past week I have connecting with friends and telling them that I may disappear for a while because I need space and time to reflect and reevaluate my wants and life. Yesterday was the final step- It was my last visit to Renfrew (not forever but for a while at least.) It was not a healthy place for me to be spending time. Seeing the patients made me feel insecure and I found myself comparing my body with theirs. And spending time there, feeling like a member of the community, was prohibiting me from discovering a life in the "real world." I went yesterday to say good-bye- good-bye to my friends, good-bye to the treatment center that has become a safe space for me, and mostly good-bye to the treatment world that I can no longer be a part of. It was a difficult and fond farewell. I knew how monumental it was and I nearly began to cry. I said good-bye to a friend from Kuwait who I may never see again. But I really said good-bye to an era of my life that it is time to let go of. When I initially left treatment in late January I told myself that I would only stay in touch with the few that I had things in common with besides treatment and our eating disorders. I stayed true to my word for a while but as time passed I allowed other people to permeate this boundary and enter my life. As I let more and more people I became entrenched in both my eating disorder as well as the world and community that I inherited the day I stepped into Renfrew for the first time 2 years ago. As school begins again and my world at Penn begins to return I have realized that in order to live my life here at school the other life needs to go, for good. It's sad, hard, and painful but necessary. We can live in multiple worlds within the same life but some worlds just don't work together and when that happens we need to choose which world we want to remain a member of. I am choosing the world of Penn and life in the "real world" or "outside." The quote I have chosen for today is about the magnitude of making a choice for ourselves- 

What will your response or choice be?
“In the end that was the choice you made, and it doesn't matter how hard it was to make it. It matters that you did.” 

- Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

Today I want us to reflect on the choices we have made or the ones we need to make in our daily lives. Clare and I both admit that making these choices is not necessarily easy and can in fact be difficult. But the fact that you are able to make a definitive choice and go with it is what counts and deserves positive attention. When we are able to overcome the back and forth, the battle within our own minds and decide what is best for us we are victorious. Floundering and being indecisive in life is building a long road to no where. If you can make choice, decide what you want and where you want to go you have already won half the battle. Once you know what your goal is you can actually get started on achieving it. For me it was a choice between two worlds- the world of eating disorders and the world of the living. What choices are you juggling today? Is there a way for the two options to work simultaneously or do you need to choose one and abandon the other? You can weigh the pros and cons or you can feel with you heart what you think is best. Some choices are more inclined to be made with the heart rather than with the rational mind. Of course once the choice has been made the second guessing comes in- Have I made the right choice? What would have happened if I did something differently? My advice is once you have made a choice do your best to stick with it. Stop the vacillating and the second guessing. My your choice and go for it! I am still feeling sad about the choice I needed to make but I am not second guessing myself- I know it was the necessary choice. I am hurting and did hurt others by the decision I made? Probably, but they understand that I need to create healthy boundaries in order to continue on and lead a healthy and happy life. Health and happiness are indispensable- I urge to make whatever choice you must in order to achieve both.

Confidently choose what's best for you today and always,

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rooftop Rendezvous

Stepping Out of Your Element

Different Does Not Mean Bad

My childhood school's emblem-
Yesterday as I was moving more things into my apartment one of my neighbors, who I have hung out with before, invited me to hang out with him and some of his friends later on the rooftop. He's really a nice guy and we have become friends but me hanging out alone with 5 guys- not really within my element. Growing up I went to an all girls school for 13 years and my social interaction with guys was limited. As I entered college I was not debilitated or unable to socialize with guys but the concept that hanging out with guys good be casual was foreign to me and still kind of is. In my middle and high school years school dances, parties, and any co-ed interaction was always a big to-do: hair straightened, make-up refreshed, padded bras and sluttiest clothes worn. These guys wanted to hang out with me after a day of schlepping things up and down in the heat? I didn't need to shower and get all done up? What a novel idea! I decided to go for it. If I wasn't having a good time or felt uncomfortable I could always retreat to my own apartment being only a flight of stairs away. Well the stealth retreat was not necessary. I hung out with these guys two of whom I had never really met for the entire afternoon and into the late evening. I had a blast! There was no pressure, none of the awkwardness I feared, none of the drama that I often find with girls. We just drank, had dinner, and smoked up on the roof. Today I feel great about the social interaction and I am looking forward to spending more time with these genuinely nice guys. Yes, being the only girl in a group of 6 is very different for me but it does not mean bad. In fact it felt quite the opposite of bad- it felt pretty good and I had a fun night! Who knew that my impromptu rooftop rendezvous would ended up teaching more about myself and my comfort levels as a grown person? Certainly not I...So what's the point of me sharing my evening with you? I want to urge you to continue stepping out of your element and testing new waters. You may hop in and discover that the water is more than fine- it's fabulous! My quote for you today is short and simple but it's message is strong-

Pretty much what my West Philly rooftop looks like-
"Prudence keeps life safe, but does not often make it happy."

- Samuel Johnson

I talk a lot about finding safety and safe spaces in this blog but I think there are different types of safe. When I discuss safety I generally mean keeping your self emotionally and physically secure. Safe spaces are places where you feel comfortable and you can escape dangers (imagined or real) that you may feel threatened by. When I mention feeling safe I am referring to a feeling of comfort and security within yourself. You don't vulnerable to negative elements out in the world or threatened by past experiences that haunt you or may cause you to act in ways that jeopardize you well being. Johnson uses the word "safe" but I am interpreting it as boring, staying in your comfort zone, refusing to take a risk that may lead to enjoyment or newness. In this case a "safe life," a life lead by the same daily routine or personal strictures, may protect you but it also traps you. In this sense would it have been safer for me to not meet the boys and the roof and just isolate in my apartment watching T.V. and collaging or journaling- absolutely. Those are things I am used to doing but ultimately it becomes lonely and boring. It's not particularly fun and I get stuck with my own thoughts. They ruminate within my head and I get stuck in these cycle of over analyzing and serious thoughts. I wouldn't have gone to bed satisfied and happy had stayed safely in my room all night. Instead a took a leap of faith, a risk, I stepped beyond my element and discovered that this rooftop rendezvous made me happy. I enjoyed the company of these other people-even though it's not the typical company I keep- and realized that I have grown up since my high school days. I can hang out with guys in a relaxed setting, completely unmade up, with no real plan or set activity and just enjoy myself. We talked and got to know each other better, we ate dinner (eating in front of strangers used to petrify me), we unwound, and I realized that I can do this. Not only can I hang out with a group of guys on my own and feel completely secure but I can step out of my element and do more than survive but in fact thrive. Take a look at your life- what are the guidelines or boundaries you have set up for yourself? Have you recently declined an offer because it was out of your element? Were afraid? Were you uncomfortable? Did you even ponder the thought or was it an automatic instinct to say no? We could all stay in our own little rooms refusing to interact with others, take any risks, do something different, or mix things up but what will that give us? What do we want- "safe" lives or happy lives? As always my vote is for happy so I will continue to engage in the occasional rooftop rendezvous and accept other interesting offers that come my way. What will you choose do?

Forget "safe" and go for HAPPY!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Keep It Clean

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Harmony Outside Brings Harmony Within

Whenever I move into a new space- dorm room, subletted room, apartment- I always make an effort to keep it clean, organized, and harmonious. Growing up my bedroom was always a mess- clothes scattered on the floor, bed unmade, magazines stacked in corners- and the chaotic outside seemed to impact my inner self. Or maybe the disastrous mess was a reflection of the chaos within (which came first the chicken or the egg?) My Mom continuously tried to tell me that if my room was neater I'd feel better but with the time the mess just grew monumentally and it seemed impossible to even make a dent. Whenever I return to my childhood bedroom I am surrounded by over 15 years of clutter. I can't even imagine what I would discover if I began to dig in- journals written in 1st grader scrawl, empty antibiotic bottles from ear infections, Star magazines from 2006, and G-d knows what else. The clutter seems to penetrate my skin and enter my inside creating a level of confusion and discomfort. Ultimately when I am in a clean and organized space I feel more at peace and at ease. Yesterday I left my apartment in a hurry and was forced to leave it a wreck. There were clothes scattered everywhere, the sheets kicked off the bed, a mess of water still drying, shoes thrown in disarray. It resembled the craziness of the bedroom I grew up in. I couldn't stand it! I stayed at home last night and the entire time I was antsy because I knew my lovely new apartment resembled an abandoned home. It may sound obsessive but I had to get back, I had to clean up, I need to restore it to its harmony. I went in this morning and cleaned house and it felt so good. I looked around the space once I had finished and let out a sigh of relief. My apartment was clean again, it was just right, and my inner harmony was also restored. I know it sounds silly but I am beginning to believe what my Mother said to me years ago. When my surroundings are clean and have some sense of order I feel better. Cleanliness may not be next to Godliness but it definitely has its benefits.

Me in my clean nearly complete apartment !
"Cleanliness generates healthiness, which generates other aspects of life and most important security, but if security and healthiness are there without cleanliness then they are sure to collapse."

Ankur Agrawal

This quote is not completely related to the point I was attempting to make but it definitely expands upon my general theme. A clean space can improve the way we feel, unclutter our mind of exterior distraction, and help us to prosper. I am not saying that you can't live a great life in clutter or even filth. Supposedly mess correlates with creativity although I'd love to challenge that notion. But I strongly believe that a tidy living space helps to build a strong foundation for us to grow and live as people. I think about how I felt when I was younger living in mayhem. I was too young to know that there was really any other way to live. I had too much freedom and really what child wants to clean their room? (My version of cleaning was shoving all the mess underneath my bed to give it the appearance of being neat.) And I had no experience to compare it to. Now that I know how it feels to live in a neat and organized space I can honestly say how much I prefer it. My mind doesn't feel inhibited by a distracting mess. I take pride in where I live and what I see when I look around my apartment. And whenever I walk into the clean space I automatically feel a sense of calm and safety. If you look around your home and see scattered papers, bread crumbs, dirty clothes, and the occasional ant give cleaning up a try. Yes it takes some time and it's not all that fun but you may find, like me, that the result is well worth it!

Pull out a broom and start cleaning!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Life Support

Remembering the People Who Matter Most

The Importance of Family

Today has been a pretty miserable day for me. As you can probably guess from my initial statement I did not end up seeing my friend in New York. Just as quickly as the plans came to be they dissolved. I received a text from my friend at 3:45 AM saying that I could no longer come. I was crushed. My rush of joy and excitement that I felt yesterday was gone and replaced with inconsolable disappointment, anger, and sadness. I am tired of people in my life letting me down. I am sick of choosing friends who end up hurting or disappointing me. And I cannot stand that other people don't treat me with the same consideration and kindness that I show toward them. So here I am- me, my non-refundable bus tickets, and my broken spirit are all here together in Philly. Well actually I am no longer in Philadelphia, I am in the suburbs, at home, with my family- the people who always love and me and who matter most. I often complain about them- the way they try to control me, how they don't trust me to run my own life, and all their annoying tendencies- but at the end of the day when the world has tossed me to the ground it is my family that is there to wipe off the dirt, heal my scrapes, and lift me back up. My family is the only support system I have that will never disappear. While sometimes I wish they would go away ultimately I am happy that they have not. For me my family is traditional- Mom, Dad, brother- but family is whatever you make it and whoever you choose to trust with your heart and your life. Family doesn't have to be the people you were born to. It can be made up of friends, extended family, pets. The important thing about family is that they will always be there for you, that you feel safe when you are with them, and that they want the best for you. As much as my family bugs me I can honestly say that I am lucky to have found all three of things within my nuclear family as well as many aunts, uncles, cousins, and fictive kin. Whenever I need boosting, cheering, or comforting I always wander back to the comforts of my home and my family. I have two quotes to share with you about family that I think help to reiterate some of what I have already said-

This is an oldie-
"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it."

- George Moore

As much as we look elsewhere in the world to find what we want or need, things that we think will fulfill us or make us happier. Ultimately what humans need to thrive in this world is companionship and love. I consider my family my life support because they provide me with both companionship and love that is unconditional and cannot be duplicated. No matter where I go or who I meet no one and nothing can replace my family or the safe haven that my childhood home provides. I may get sick of it and try to search elsewhere or be mislead by the delusion that there is more or something better out there and venture off. But when I am sick, sad, or lonely I always long to be home with the people who matter most, my family. The next quote ties in nicely with the first discussing the desire to be apart from our families yet at the same time wanting to be connected to them.

The family- "That dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to."

- Dodie Smith

Me and my "rock"-
As a visual person I love how Smith provides an image by comparing the family to an octopus. I can see myself trying to run but continuously getting looped in by the octopus' long and maneuvering tentacles. We all go through phases in our life, many of us in our teens and early twenties, when we don't want to have anything to do with our family. But I have learned as I have grown older and experienced more hardships in my life that I truly do need my family in order to live and thrive. I don't know where I would be without the comforting of my Mother, the caring of my brother, and the steadfast support of my Dad who I often see as my rock. We are so much alike and we fight constantly but we are always able to make up and he never fails me. There are still times when I wish to get away and I'll retreat to my apartment for a couple of day for some alone time but I always come back home. And the nice thing about home is that I know I am always welcome.

Share love with your family today and everyday,

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Let's Get it Started!

Thoughts for this Morning

An Upbeat Morning Affirmation

My life line-
I woke up feeling very down and lethargic. But immidiately before writing this post I called my friend (who I haven't heard from in ages and who NEVER picks up her phone) and she actually answered! We planned a quick trip for me to go to New York to see her tomorrow before she goes back to school and I am already feeling significantly more lively than I was prior to speaking with her. I think her absence was weighing down on me and depleting me of my zest and energy. I was so angry that she had been seemingly avoiding me and I had assumed that there was no way I was going to see her before she left the city to go back to school. Now that she has pulled through and I know I am seeing her tomorrow I am significantly more cheerful but I could still use an upbeat affirmation to get me going this morning.  I hope this affirmation is helpful to all of us, I suppose we shall just have to wait and see-

Go ahead and "jump out"!
This morning I jump out of bed and greet the day with positive expectancy.

Ok so I can't go back in time and make myself jump out of bed nor can I lie and say that I did. So I suppose, for me, this part of the affirmation doesn't apply. But if you are lucky enough to still be lounging in your warm and comfy bed try jumping out right now! See if you are suddenly energized and filled with excitement for the day. However the thing I can work on is greeting this day with optimism or a "positive expectancy." In truth something positive and unexpected has already happened. I thought my friend had already left for school. When I called her I expected to hear her familiar voicemail on the other end but instead I heard a groggy "hello..." Even before reading this affirmation something positive and exciting had happened so maybe if I keep this affirmation in my mind today great things will continue to happen. As always it can't hurt to try. Maybe you're in a slump as I am or maybe you're feeling fantastic or maybe you just feel the same as you do every other normal day. But I think this affirmation can apply and be useful to anyone no matter what your mood or situation currently is. Let's go into this day ready to embrace great things, positive experiences, and exciting possibilities. After my phone call and reading this affirmation to myself I am already beginning to feel more upbeat and optimistic! Oh the magic of a quality affirmation but perhaps more so the power of contact and connection with a good friend. Stay upbeat, stay positive, and let's get this day started!

Wishing you all a positive day,

Sidenote: I wrote this entry at 9:00 this morning but apparently forgot to publish it (oops, we all make mistakes) so I am sorry for the delay-

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I Survived the Bermuda Triangle

Overcoming Challenging Situations

Fight the Uphill Battle...and Win!

Me and my parents at the hotel's "Legendary Happy Hour"
Tropical vacations are supposed to be easy right? It means relaxation, tanning, frozen cocktails, shopping for souvenirs, yummy dinners, walks on the beach, sleeping in, leisure reading, etc. Well while vacations for me bring all of these things they also prove to be challenging situations. Tropical vacations mean bathing suits, unusual foods that are outside my comfort zone, high calorie alcoholic beverages, family pressure, high anxiety travel days, and a discomforting lack of structure. I don't mean to sound like a pessimist but it's the truth. I have a very difficult time relaxing on vacations because the negative elements bring a great deal of stress that often gets in the way of all the positives. But I am back in the States and I not only survived the Bermuda Triangle but came out relatively unscathed and even enjoyed many parts of it. Yes I gained a little bit of my vacation weight, which is not unusual, but I'm not too concerned because I know it will most likely come off naturally now that I am home and back in my normal routine. Were there a couple nights of vacation that I drank a little too much? Of course, it's vacation! And did my family get in more than a couple arguments? Absolutely because we are a family- all families fight. So maybe vacation is what you would consider a challenge or an uphill battle but that's not really the point. The point is no matter the challenging situation, whatever your personal Bermuda Triangle happens to be, you can overcome it. You have the strength to not only fight the uphill battle but to win it! Of course I have some quotes with you to support my case but don't worry it's not an overwhelming amount today-

Don't fret, you can do it!

"If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it round.  Trouble creates a capacity to handle it.  I don't embrace trouble; that's as bad as treating it as an enemy.  But I do say meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it."  

-Oliver Wendell Holmes

My brother finally makes a guest appearance-

I like the casual tone of this quote, the theorizing about a formula to avoid trouble, but Holme's insistence that he would not share such a formula if it existed. How often do we wish that trouble or challenges did not enter our lives? I can't speak on your behalf but I can honestly say that there have been countless times that I wished for an easier life or that I did not have to go through certain difficult experiences. But the truth is if we never fought through these troubles we wouldn't learn- about ourselves, about others, to differentiate between good times and bad, to overcome the next hurdle or handle things in the future. Not only do troubles teach us many things but they help us to build character and develop who we are as people. I would not go as far as to say that we are defined by our challenges but they most definitely help to shape us, direct what and who we care about, alter the way we handle situations and interact with other people. Challenges and troubles are inevitable- no one has the perfect life. We all face our own set of challenges, we all have our own periods of difficulty, and no one lives a life untouched by tragedy or pain. Experiencing these struggles allows us to help and sympathize with others when they are going through a rough time. We may not understand exactly what they are experience but we know how it feels to experience a sad or unpleasant time. Additionally knowing the others have overcome their own trials, or that we have overcome issues in the past, can help us believe that we can overcome challenging situations now and in the future. The second quote I chose is one that is commonly used and chances are you have seen before-

"I know G-d will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that He didn't trust me so much."

-Mother Teresa

Even Mother Teresa occasionally wishes that just large issues weren't thrust in her lap. However the differences is she believes that she can overcome them despite their magnitude. She puts her faith in G-d, as I often do as well, but ultimately we need to put our faith in ourselves. There is not an issue or problem that we can't handle. G-d won't give us something that we are unable to manage. Other people have gone through similar issues, taxing situations, challenging tasks and overcome them. We can too! No matter what you are currently struggling with or what the next challenge is that comes your way remember your own strength and fight! It may feel impossible, you might feel helpless or hopeless, but you can fight the uphill battle and win! No matter what never bow your head down and give in or give up. You owe to yourself to do your best and fight it out to end- your own strength and abilities may surprise you!

Never stop fighting,

I'm such an anti-feminist but this image was too perfect-

Oh What a Beautiful Morning...

Cheery Thoughts for this Morning

A Morning Affirmation

Ready for the day! 
Good morning all! I guess my affirmation was well-crafted because I woke up this morning well before my alarm feeling refreshed and alive! I am ready for whatever comes my way today- bring it on world! I am heading back to the city to move a bunch of personal and meaningful things into my apartment so it feels even more like home. At the moment I am happy to be back in my usual Starbucks and I am meeting a dear friend from high school in a couple hours for coffee (I am a coffee addict if I haven't told you yet) and after that it's back to Philadelphia. I am super optimistic about what today will bring. I am not sure where this cheeriness is coming from- maybe it's because I'm pleased to be home- but I don't really care. As long as I am in this pleasant mood I am going to embrace and do everything I can to both maintain it as well as spread it. In an effort to achieve both these goals I am going to share a morning affirmation with you-

I choose to see the good in myself as well as the people I interact with today.

Flowers in bloom soaking up the sun-
I did not create this affirmation but I did modify it slightly to include "myself." Of course it is nice to see the good in others but too often we forget to recognize the great things within ourselves. This morning and the rest of the day go out of your way to give yourself and those around you the benefit of the doubt, be complimentary, embrace positive aspects, and recognize the gifts we all have to share. If we go into the day with this optimistic outlook and hold on to it as long as possible throughout the day we are more likely to see the good in the world and people around us. Simply by recognizing these positive qualities we are already setting ourselves up for a better and happier day. Look around, see smiles, see flowers in bloom, feel the fresh air, feel the warmth of the sun, and look inside yourself- recognize and point out all the fabulous qualities you possess. This beautiful morning can turn into a beautiful day- just allow yourself to see the beauty and goodness all around you!

Enjoy the day and spread the cheer,

Damn right you are!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuckered Out!

Abbreviated Thoughts for Tonight

An Evening Affirmation

After a long day of travelling I am completely tuckered out more commonly referred to as wiped or pooped (which ever phrase you prefer)! So tonight's post will be short but don't mistake my brevity for a lack of things to say because I have plenty on my mind. And I have no fear I will be back in full form tomorrow with my lengthy and sometimes overly detailed posts. But for tonight I will keep it short and sweet with an evening affirmation that I have liberally adapted to better suit my needs- I hope it meets your needs tonight as well-

The activity of the day has calmed and I am prepared to welcome the calming energy that evening and sleep will bring. I breathe in, inhaling solace, and breathe out, exhaling stress and negativity. I shut my eyes and envision a soothing image that lulls me into a peaceful slumber. I will awake with a refreshed and with a positive outlook.
Time to snuggle up !

As I wrote this affirmation I already began to feel a little more peaceful and at ease. I can see myself resting my head down and cuddling up with my stuffed animals completely relaxed and ready to embrace a lengthy and rejuvenating sleep. I hope you're days have been well and this evening you are able to shake any negativity and anxiety that you may still be holding onto from today. Remember that the night is your time and sleep is your gift. Use both to your advantage so you awake fully prepared for the day ahead of you.

Inhale, exhale, repeat,

Monday, August 20, 2012

Last Bermuda Sunset

Every Ending Brings a New Beginning

Life's Infinite Supply of Moments

Bermuda sunset-
No it is not the last Bermuda sunset ever but it is the last one for me and this vacation. Tonight is my last evening in Bermuda on this family vacation and as the trip comes to a close I am aware of all that awaits me when I return home. It may be the end of this vacation but it is just the start of my second fall semester at Penn. I am home less than four days before hoards of people begin returning to campus looking forward to the highly anticipated new student orientation, more commonly referred to as "NSO," that precedes the start of classes. It is hard for me to believe that this time last year I was anxiously awaiting the Fall semester, nervous about living with a house full of strangers, and concerned that I would remain an anonymous person among the sea of students that pack into frat houses during NSO, flood Locus Walk (the main walk way through the heart of campus) when classes begin, and wait on line at campus bars crossing their fingers that the bouncers don't detect their fake IDs. Now I eagerly await the start of NSO and the Fall semester. I have a hand full of friends that I look forward to seeing and can count on if I am in need. I have innumerable acquaintances and familiar faces that I can casually say hello to at a party or on my way to class. And I have a nearly finished apartment on a street where I know people living in at least half a dozen of the neighboring houses. I am returning not just to campus but to a life that I have managed to build for myself over the past twelves months. School work didn't stop me. Isolation and illness couldn't stop me. A leave of absence didn't stand in my way. Despite the number of obstacles put before me I still managed to build I semblance of a life that I look forward to returning to and hope to continue to build upon. Yes summer is ending but with it a comes a fresh start, a new semester, and opportunities to continue creating a life that I am happy with. I like to think of life as having an infinite supply of moments- it is a continuous project and experience. While one moment is ending another is just revving up to begin.  We are never given too much time to mourn the loss of one moment because the next one is sneaking up right behind it. Think of life as a succession of moving moments gives it a different type of energy. It's constantly in motion, exciting, bursting with experiences- this energy is the very essence of life itself! It's exciting! It's new and it's non-stop (relatively speaking...)! 

Back to school !
“Ends are not bad things, they just mean that something else is about to begin. And there are many things that don't really end, anyway, they just begin again in a new way. Ends are not bad and many ends aren't really an ending; some things are never-ending.” 

-C. JoyBell C.

I used a quote from this same person the other day and now I am inspired to look into her a little more and discover what she is all about. I chose this quote because I feel as if it covers all possible scenarios- endings  as signifying a new beginning, endings that continue but somehow differently, and ends that never happen. I think my starting this school year is of the second type- a beginning that is really just a new continuation of something that has already started. (This whole topic and way of wording is starting to get really confusing so I'm sorry if you are having a difficult time following.) But what I mean is I have already left George Washington University and started my new beginning at Penn last Fall. So this fall is not really a new beginning it just a continuation of last year's beginning but it is radically different. It is high degree of difference that makes it feel like a completely new start. However it is not 100% new. I have already started my life at Penn last year, albeit it was interrupted, so this Fall is not really the start of a totally new life for me. But it is the beginning of a new experience as a seasoned Penn student with connections to a life there and a foundation to build upon. While other things in life fit into the other two categories. My time at G.W. has truly ended (thank G-d) while my relation to my family or some friends is truly never-ending. This quote inspires me to look at my life differently and categorize different event into the three categories- ending, changing, and never-ending. When I think about it is most difficult for me to put events or situations into the never-ending category because it seems to me that even if something isn't ending it manages to change or shift or evolve. Even my relationships with my family and some friends- while they are not ending they are definitely changing. My relationship with myself is always evolving as well. I can't really think of a moment that is never-ending except for perhaps life's infinite supply of moments. Although even life's supply of moments ends at some point- when we cease to exist (sorry to get morbid on you.) Anyways this whole entry has gotten far more philosophical than I had originally planned. It's starting to feel a bit sloppy and unorganized and I'm quite sure that any one who began reading has probably stopped at this point because it was too difficult to follow. But I did have a point when I began and I would like to end on it because I think it's quite true- every ending brings a new
No such thing as a dead end-
beginning. So as one era of your life comes to a close- college, a career, your children moving out- remember that sooner rather than later a new era will come barging in giving you little time to mourn the end of the previous era. Embrace the gift of a new beginning that every ending brings. Recognize the energy and momentum of the never ceasing supply of moments. Use this energy and these opportunities to your advantage by seizing each new momentum and creating something fabulous for yourself! I plan to feed off of all the energy and new moments life throws at me this Fall and continue to create a life that I am happy with and that I love!

Loving life is the only way to live,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rainy Afternoon

Time for a Mid-Day Pick Me Up

An Uplifting Affirmation

I woke up this morning feeling physically like shit- I think vacation and the different variety of foods is starting to get to not only my head but stomach as well. I thought it would get better throughout the the day but despite many efforts to remedy it I am still feeling sub-par. I hope I am not coming down with a stomach bug. My mom just got over one so it wouldn't be too bizarre if I managed to catch one. Anyways I was blessed with a rainy and overcast day. Most people would be disappointed if they got a yucky day on their second to last day of vacation to me it is a welcome relief. It was an excuse to laze around all day, lounge in the big comfy lobby chairs, and drink warm, calming tea. I am feeling a bit tired now though and my stomach is still unsettled so I thought I could use a mid-day pick me up in the hopes that it will get at least my mind feeling better. It would be nice to start feeling better and be able to enjoy the last couple days with my family since the time the four of us have together is so rare. The pick me up I am offering to you this afternoon comes in the form of an uplifting affirmation although I may treat myself to a glass of wine or something as well. (Treat yourself to something too if you see fit!) 

In each and every moment of my life, joy is a possibility. I choose joy now.

Calming Chamomile-
It took me a little while to find the perfect affirmation for me this afternoon. I wanted it to be uplifting but it needed to fit my present circumstance. As I have said before affirmations are only powerful if they suit your present needs. I think this one is generic enough that almost anyone will find it appropriate this afternoon but if it doesn't seem right to you for your life at this moment try a different one. I have never come across this one before but I like it because I think it can be applied during any time of the day- morning, evening, whenever. Joy and the opportunity to cease happiness is always around us. It is our job to recognize it and cease it! While I am not feeling great right now and the weather is lousy there are still plenty of things in my life that can bring me joy if I open my eyes. My family is together, I am in Bermuda for goodness sakes, I relaxing in a big comfy chair, there is an abundance of Chamomile tea at my disposal, and I am doing one of my very favorite things right now- writing this blog. I love writing entries because I can do it whenever I please, I don't need to censor myself at all, it's an outlet to express myself and unwind, and I know that it is reaching other people and helping them as much as it helps me. Whenever I can't find other pleasures in my life I think of this blog, this outlet for expression and connection that I have been gifted, and I perk up a bit! Too often I and we take for granted the simple things in our lives that make us happy. Right now I am going to take a look around and embrace all the pleasures- simple and grand- that I have access to. You do the same! I am going to choose to try and put my icky feelings aside and allow these good things to fill me with joy and happiness. If you like this affirmation keep it in the back of the mind and pull it out when you need. Don't let yourself forget that happiness is there if we take the time to see it!

Pick yourself up and enjoy the rest of your day!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cutting the Strings

Knowing When to Let Go

Moving Onward and Upward

Time to jump upward!
Yesterday I impulsively cut off all the friendship and string bracelets I have accumulated over the past 9 months through treatment and from treatment friends. There were 12 in total! So I quite literally cut the strings that were keeping me connected to not only friends but also my illness, treatment, and an unhealthy part of my identity. I should have cut them off months ago- I am 22 and they are not exactly appropriate in the "real world"- but I just couldn't. I wasn't ready to let go. But as the new semester approaches and I anticipate returning to school I knew it was time to let go. I am moving onward and upward and the strings were holding me back. Every time I looked at my wrist I was forced to think back on my hardships and experiences of this past year. They were an unhealthy reminder of what I have gone through.  I can never forget the people I've met, the struggles I have endure, and the challenges I have overcome- they will be ingrained in my mind forever. But I can put these memories elsewhere in my mind and access them when I choose rather than be reminded of them multiple times a day every day. We all need to know when to let go. Whether it's removing a physical reminder, in my case literally cutting the strings, or simply recognizing that it's time to metaphorically cut the strings by releasing painful memories, giving up on an unhealthy relationship, or accepting that a time in your life has passed. We need to know not only when it's time to move not just onward but upward as well, using the release as a platform to build upon or propel ourselves upward like jumping on a trampoline! As usual I have had a hard time sticking to just one quote to carry out my message or enhance the theme so I have chosen three diverse quotes that I have found both useful and somewhat intriguing-

This first quote speaks about the burden of certain things, the weight of them that debilitates us, and the need to free ourselves from such things-

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” 

- C. JoyBell C.

I like this quote because it provides a visual. I imagine myself walking around with weights on 10 lbs weights on both of my wrists. How freeing it is to remove these weights. It's so much easier to move, walk, go forward in life once these weights have been removed. How can we expect to move forward with ease when we have these metaphorical weights hindering us every step of the way? It's time to let go, remove the extra baggage, and make room for new memories, experiences, and relationships. I found the next quote especially interesting because it reflects a thought I have had multiple times. Why is it that I wanted to hold onto something that caused me so much pain?

“No matter how much suffering you went through, you never wanted to let go of those memories.” 

- Haruka Murakami

Why is it that it is so difficult to let go of memories no matter how painful and move on from relationships despite their toxicity? I don't have the answer and this quote doesn't provide an explanation either. However I chose it because it brought me comfort to know that other people share this experience and ponder it. I am not alone in wanting to hold on to hardships, unhealthy relationships, sad or bad experiences. I am relieved in knowing that I am not alone and neither are you. Perhaps we want to keep them because they remind of us how strong we are or what we have overcome? Maybe we wear them proudly like battle wounds. Or perhaps we fear that letting go of them means forgetting them. But there is a difference between forgetting and letting go. I suppose letting go simply means that we no long allow the past to dictate how we live in the present. Just because we have let go doesn't mean that we have forgotten. We will always have these memories but they do not need to be in the forefront of our minds. I chose the last quote simply because I feel that it completely sums up the point I have been trying to make throughout this entry. Perhaps it would have been thoughtful of me to put it at the beginning and save you some reading and time. Either way here it is-

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that that situation is over, you cannot move forward.” 

- Steve Maraboli

Me with my "new" wrists-
I think this quote is relatively straight forward and would not benefit for detailed explanation or over analyzing. Unless we let go of this past there is no room to create new memories and relationships. We cannot live in the present, move forward, and build a new future if we remain in the past and allow it to both consume as well as dictate our lives. Cutting the strings of my friendship bracelets was more difficult and emotional than I expected it to be. I suppose it was symbolic- detaching myself from a lifestyle, a world, an experience that has been such a huge part of my life and what I perceived as my identity. It was an impulsive move and a part of me regrets it but another part of me knows that it was the right thing to do. How can I return to school and enjoy my life there if I refused to let go of those physical reminders? Every time I looked down at my wrists I was brought back to a different time and a different world. If I want to live a "normal," fulfilling, and happy life on campus I need to embrace the present, look forward to the future, and leave the past where it belongs- in the past. Removing my bracelets was my first step of letting go and preparing myself to move forward. What do you need to let go of and what will your first step be?

Take your first step and get ready for the rest of your life- it's waiting for you!