Tucson is a special place.
I may be a little biased since it’s quite possibly my favorite place in the world, and also happens to be the place I call “home.” It has majestic mountains, the bluest skies, and this combination makes for a constant real-life painting backdrop. There are bike paths on every road, snow an hour away in the winter, and Tucson lacks the more sweaty quality of my new place of residence (humidity). But beyond all of this, Tucson has consciously made a decision to prevent light pollution of our skies. The University has an impressive astronomy program and from the surrounding mountains, telescopes reach to discover all sorts of new things about the world beyond the clouds.
Credit: Cristobal Young
You can be in the middle of town and still look up and see a hundred stars. Granted, it comes with its cons- many people don’t like driving on roads without street lights. Gait enters though, all it takes is one solid minute of staring up into that night sky to decide it’s all worth it.
What is it about the stars that can completely distract your mind from all the other clutter? I see the stars like many people see the ocean, only I didn’t grow up near any water. But it doesn’t matter, because you can gaze up into those stars and see the same depth to the world and feel that sense of how minuscule your single body is in the vast planet. Ocean or stars? For me, I prefer the stars, for they can take us even beyond the ocean. Step outside and take a gander – it’s out of this world.
I like rabbits. I like their busy noses, their curious ears, and their fluffy cotton-tails. I also have a deep appreciation for rabbits mouths. Many people do not realize this but rabbits actually have a split upper lip, meaning they can feel things with that lip and often stick their tongue through it when cleaning their mouths. I adore this adaptation and wish I had a split lip myself (I know it would look funny, but seriously, how practical!). Though, perhaps that’s not such a good idea since my teeth look very similar to rabbits teeth, if it weren’t for the magic of dentists and falsies.
What does this mean? Well, to me, it means that rabbits can smile extra wide. They can show their upper gum especially well and it makes their cheeks puff up just a little bit bigger. We also know rabbits are infamous for their big “buck” teeth, but since everyone knows that crooked teeth make for a better kisser, I’m going to say that rabbits are extra-good at giving kisses. I know first hand, since, I have a rabbit after all 😉
Wikipedia defines armor as: “a protective covering that is used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual, or vehicle…” It goes on to talk about guns, war, and violence. But what about everyday armor? How do we protect ourselves from damage?
Every day, on my way out the door, I set the alarm to my house, put my seatbelt on in the car, drive safely, and look both ways before crossing the street to class. I respond to “how are you?” with the cultural expectation, “good” and smile as much as I can. But sometimes it’s hard. Sometimes you want to be able to let your guard down and tell everyone who asks that you are having a really tough time and it feels like everything is not going to be okay. Sometimes you just want people to know that behind the smiles and laughter you are in pain and just need a hug and some support.
I’ve found this to be especially hard in a new town, with new strangers who aren’t comfortable with seeing me outside that social expectation. This is new for me, because I have always had close bonds with people around me who I knew I could run to. That’s not the case in a new town, where you don’t know anyone. So until the day when I can put my amor down and be “real” with my new strangers, I will try and keep the smile and hide the lonely. But next time you notice someone who may look a little down, perhaps they’re just new to the office, or just moved to town, ask them really, sincerely how they are. You might be surprised what you hear, and it just might make a world of difference. Who knows. We need more sincerity in this social media world, filled with gaping distance and clothed in armor.
It’s funny, because I never used to care about food at all. I was a picky kid, eating french fries and chicken fingers everywhere we would go, choosing my meals off a very small palate.
However, in the last several years I have run into some quite interesting challenges in my diet, and like many who develop food intolerances, I had to make some changes. In my case these changes were fairly drastic.
I grew up a bread, pasta, and candy kid: always looking for carbs and even spelling my very first word: C-A-N-D-Y (because my parents always spelled it out when trying to hide it from me)! If you have spent any time on my blog at all, you will notice that these things are definitely missing. In the fall of 2011 I began my gluten free journey and saw huge changes in how much better I felt. But something still wasn’t right and in the years since I have been experimenting with what seems like every food group and diagnosis out there to find what made my body happy. While I’m still not where I would like to be, I have come a long, long way, making the biggest changes and improvements in the last year with the new diagnoses.
It’s touch and go when it comes to my diet and I’m constantly learning and testing boundaries, but along the way I’ve had the opportunity to get to know food: to play with it, try new foods, learn my way around the kitchen, and really experience all the fun pleasures that can be associated with food. I never thought I would be someone who cared about healthy eating, and I still wouldn’t necessarily say that I do (as far as being “healthy” in the kale and green beans sense of the word), but I am a strong believer in listening to your body and creating the optimal baseline for success, starting with what you put in it. Cooking can be fun and the improvements in mood, fatigue, GI symptoms, and overall wellbeing are truly worth all the work that goes in. And after a while, it won’t even seem like work – just like normal life!! I promise. So, if you don’t feel like your health and wellness are at a satisfying level, dietary changes are not a bad place to start.
It’s tough. It’s time consuming. It’s emotionally, physically, and mentally, exhausting. Grad school, I’m learning, presents especially intense day-to-day challenges.
But despite all my rough days, early mornings, and fatigue, I have to keep remembering that the opportunity to learn, is a gift. I’m fortunate that I come from a family who’s social class made it easy to go to school and have the opportunity attend higher education with the financial stability to pay for me to go. Even further, I have been able to go on to graduate school and now am on my way to getting a masters.
The topics are interesting. The classmates encouraging. The professors inspiring. But wow, are the tests and workload challenging. Now as I come off a weekend of non-stop studying, and enter a week of more vigorous studying for a Friday exam, I will aim to remind myself of this each and every day.
It’s a gift. A blessing to learn and in turn be able to make a difference in someone’s world. So I’m going to embrace each hour at my desk and stare down every worksheet I make, with a conscious effort to be thankful for the gift of long nights and lack of sleep! And read this blog post when I just can’t take anymore.
What “gifts” do you have in your life that you might not see as blessings initially?
I know I haven’t been keeping up with writing but it’s been a crazy month! I will try and write a few posts over the next few weeks but they will be fairly scarce as I’m graduating and moving 2,000 miles away. Hang in there with me as I start this new adventure in my life!
Sky blue, reminiscent of my Tucson home, sky stretching for miles,
Seafoam green, the color of my new beach-themed beginning.
Bright red strawberries atop morning oatmeal,
and sunshine yellow bananas mashing into my bread.
Green, cactus, not grass, and saguaro painting the mountains,
pink cotton candy clouds, saying goodnight.
Purple walls, my little house of four years,
Red and blue, Bear Down, alma mater.
Colors reminiscent of the past,
and those reaching ahead, shining on a bright future.
“Cause you had a bad day, you’re taking one down, you sing a sad song just to turn it around… You work at a smile and you go for a ride.”
– Daniel Powter
Or maybe you’re more of a…
“Pour me, pour me, pour me, pour me another shot of whiskey. Bartender hit me one more time.”
– Trick Pony
Either way, start by watching this TedTalk on vulnerability. It gets really good around 10 minutes.
Now, find some inspiring quotes. Write down the words that will inspire you and make you happy, every time you read them. Words that will help you get out of bed, eat breakfast, get dressed, and maybe even go outside. Google them, look up hashtags (#onapositivenote) on instagram and twitter, wherever you go to. Write them down on post it notes, and put them all over the house: the bathroom mirror, the front door, the fridge, and microwave. Cute animal pictures are highly recommended as well.
And finally, watch this video (Instructions for a bad day). Its absolutely amazing and will drastically change your mentality. The narrator’s voice alone is empowering.
“In laughter yoga, we don’t laugh because we are happy, we are happy because we laugh.” – Dr. Madan Kataria
This weekend, I had the opportunity to enjoy a conversation with an amazing cardiac surgeon in my hometown. This isn’t just any doctor though. This doctor is special because he believes in the power of alternative, natural methods of healing, most specifically: laughter.
The physician I speak of, is an incredibly wise man, nearing retirement and still works full time while maintaining a regular schedule of laughter yoga sessions and dressing up as a clown to entertain children.
His advice? When you are down, or upset about something, this life is too short to be sad for long. Look at yourself in the mirror and start laughing. What makes him believe it works? His own experience.
“If you’re lost and alone, or you’re sinking like a stone. Carry on. May your past be the sound, of your feet upon the ground. Carry on.”
Direction helps us wake up every day. If you have a direction, it’s much easier to take the first step.