so how ’bout those new year’s resolutions?

:D

I didn’t mention resolutions last month. I thought about it. I have a few goals of my own on an ongoing basis, but, truthfully, I’ve never been big on creating lists at the start of the year. For one, I know the newness doesn’t last. By only a few hours in, 2018 was already starting to feel a lot like 2017 to me. Secondly, I recognize that big goals and big changes require big “whys.” We have to really want something—and have an attainable plan for how we’re going to achieve it—in order to stay motivated and “get there.”

Typically that motivation has nothing to do with a date on the calendar.

Take finances, for example. Money is something we all worry about, but budgeting is HARD and many people don’t know how to do it properly. I’m one of them. One of my long-term goals is to get better at handling my money—I want to travel again and stop living paycheck to paycheck—and for that reason I’ve been listening to Dave Ramsey a lot lately. Love him or hate him, Dave has a common-sense approach to getting out of debt and “building wealth,” and thanks to him I recently sat down and created my first budget. I don’t have a perfect system yet, but it’s a start.

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But here’s the thing. This change has nothing to do with January 1st—nothing. I started reading Dave’s “The Total Money Makeover” last year. I finished it on the plane ride to California over Christmas. After the New Year, I started listening to his show. The desire has been there all along; it’s just taken me a while to get the ball rolling.

In another area of my life, too, if my goals were based on a 12-month calendar, I would have failed already. I want to blog more consistently, but I struggle to write when emotionally stressed. January wasn’t the easiest of months for me. As such, you may have noticed I dropped off the face of the earth recently. I wanted to write; I just . . . couldn’t.

Now, it’s true that how we react to our circumstances is as important as the circumstances themselves, but another area I’m working on is giving myself grace. If I’m stressed and can’t write, oh well. And if I’m stressed and do write—and if my blogging comes across as “down” because I’m stressed—well . . . At least you’ll know I’m genuine! This blog isn’t about putting on a happy face. It never has been. It’s about the bumps and shifts of life and making the best of them as they come our way.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for joining me for the ride.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? If so, why? And what have been your results?

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#totalfail… Sound familiar? It does for me! :D

the “in between”

Lights, camera, action. The theater darkens; actors appear on screen. And then, reality sweeps away. For the next few hours, we become a part of the film. We are encapsulated in the artwork of storytelling.

In those moments, we are the heroes; we are the everyday Joes; we are the young professionals trying to find our way. There’s a reason we choose the films that we do. In some form or fashion, we connect with them.

And later, when they’re all over, we long for them not to be done. We sit in the darkness, waiting—holding our breath—reliving vicariously the scenes we’ve just seen. I’ve never felt prettier than I have walking out of a movie theater . . .

That is until I get to the car and see that big zit on my nose. Ugh!

ladybI went to my first movie since moving to Knoxville last night. Ironically (or, not surprisingly?), I picked a movie about a girl who grew up in my hometown. She’s a high school senior who dreams of experiencing life outside her city. She hasn’t traveled much yet, but she wants to.

Throughout the film, I saw a few parallels to my own life. “Lady Bird” graduated in 2003 and went to a school in New York; I graduated in 2002 and went to a school in Tennessee. She and her mother both had strong personalities; I and my own mom are quite similar.

But what stood out to me most was a theme we often overlook in life: waiting. In the film, Lady Bird was eagerly anticipating the next phase of her life. She couldn’t wait for college; she couldn’t wait for the school year to be over.  But what the story was really about was what she was doing now. Often the “in-between-changes” parts of our lives are just as important as “what comes next.” I myself often worry about the future, but the movie reminded me that today—and every day—is an important opportunity to work on myself.

Shortly before seeing “Lady Bird,” I watched a video on facebook that talked about happiness. The video claimed that we often look outwards to find happiness and life’s purpose when it should be the other way around: “You are what you love, not what loves you.” This concept came to mind on my drive home last night, and I couldn’t shake it as I contemplated this newly-highlighted idea of waiting. Although I didn’t agree fully with the video’s message (my qualms are written below), I thought the narrator made some really good points. Please check it out (and read my comments, too)!

The narrator’s thoughts / My thoughts:

We’ve been conditioned to move to a place of “what loves us,” and almost every decision we make now is based on what other people think about us.
It depends on the person.
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If you’re under the impression that things outside of you complete you, you will always be a victim because everything has to change to make you happy . . . You’re moving from “out to in.”
True.
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When you were a kid, you weren’t working on managing customers or fake lists, etc., you were working on you. And that same mentality exists in people who are the greatest at what they do. They weren’t looking at their lists and how many people they got; they were working on themselves and excelling at that.
The narrator’s parallel to childhood is a bit simplistic. Kids play to learn skills they will need as adults. That’s part of life. At surface level, though, his analogy makes sense.
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There’s a level of effortlessness that shows up when you enjoy the process of working on yourself. That’s the goal of life, and when you do that, the results will show up when they’re supposed to.
The goal of life is more than just working on ourselves. I feel the goal is to look at what we can do to help others. In so doing, we become the best possible versions of ourselves. That said, I really like the idea of worrying less about what others think and knowing that things will happen when they’re supposed to.

a chance to grow with mike rowe

I’ve been thinking about changing my tagline. When I created Shift, my tagline seemed perfect. Shiftbecause the only thing constant is change. It just . . . flowed.

I was in my late 20s when I started this blog. I was at a stage where I’d recently shifted from being a teenager, to a college student, to a young professional, to an expat, to living at home, to . . . I didn’t know what would come next.  But I realized that life was just going to keep shifting. Nothing would ever stay the samenot for very long, anyway.

But of course my blog isn’t only about change. It’s also about connections. It‘s about connecting people, places, ideas, stories, things. It’s about searching for meaning and goodness in this, our crazy world. It’s about conversations and self-expression and challenging my own beliefs by sharing them with you. After all, challenging ourselves is the only way to growand that’s something we all should want to do. Even if it’s hard. Especially if it’s hard.

William S. Burroughs perhaps said it best: “When you stop growing, you start dying . . .”

And that reminds me of something else I saw recently . . .
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TV personality Mike Rowe

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I read an article on the Tribunist the other day that was pretty bad-ass. It’s a response from TV narrator Mike Rowe to a critic who wants to get him fired from his job on “How the Universe Works.” Mike is best known for his work on the Discovery Channel series “Dirty Jobs” and CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It,” and although I’ve never actually watched any of his shows, I’ve seen several things lately that make think that I should. In his response (and in his typical, sarcastic “oh-no-you-didn’t!” Mike Rowe fashion), Mike turns his critic’s words back on her in a way that should make us all think.

Please check out the link below and let me know your thoughts!

Woman Wants Mike Rowe Fired for Being “Ultra-Right-Wing Conservative” – Mike Responds

Note: If you’re pressed for time, look for the paragraph that starts with,

XW4Rz0J9“Anyway, Rebecca, my beef with your post comes down to thisif you go to my boss and ask her to fire me because you can’t stand the sound of my voice, I get it. Narrators with unpleasant voices should probably look for other work anyway, and if enough people share your view, no hard feelingsI’ll make room for Morgan. But if you’re trying to get me fired simply because you don’t like my worldview, well then, I’m going to fight back . . .”

Disclaimer: I don’t mean to say I agree with or condone everything Mike Rowe says. I do, however, agree with his point in this article.

hush trump, the king is talking

If you scrolled through social media at all today, you likely caught a glimpse of the above image. The artist, Haitian-American Watson Mere, originally developed the image to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in 2017. A week before the event, though, Donald Trump was inaugurated and, “with the atmosphere . . . and everything going on in the news, my spirit led me to add Trump to the image, too,” said *Mere.

The image went viral then and resurfaced again today, for obvious reasons. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a hero, but his birthday weekend is sad for me  sad because we’re still fighting the same fight; sad because his dream still hasn’t been realized. (Also sad because we do, in fact, have such an asinine president. I don’t usually talk politics on my blog, but, well . . . Perhaps I’ll make an exception another time.)

That said, today in Dr. King’s honor I’ve decided to post a few of his most famous and moving quotes. Please take a look at the below slideshow and be inspired.

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*Source: PRI’s The World

the wild wind blows

I’ll be honest: I’m discouraged tonight. Life isn’t always easy; in fact, sometimes it’s downright hard.

That said . . . There are certain universal truths that we must all cling to during difficult times. One of them is that, like music, poetry can make everything better. :)

This poem is perhaps my favorite to date because it is one of my technical best. I originally posted it on September 3, 2013.

The Wild Wind Blows

The wild wind blows,
In caverns – slows
The beating of my heart.

In darkness deep,
Where creepers creep,
I dream of days, depart —

To summer sun
Where rivers run,
And all the world’s an art —

And all of love
A perfect glove,
And you, the perfect part.

The wild wind blows,
A blanket, snows,
Alone, I’m miles apart —

In darkness deep
And silence steep,
From you who has my heart.

To listen to this poem, click below:

beyond the walls

So, I’ve been trying to write more poetry. I have a lot of great ideas but keep getting stuck after the first few lines. As such, I thought I’d share a few of my older poems. (I’m hoping they might spur my creativity . . .) This poem first appeared on my blog on August 5, 2013.

Beyond the Walls

In all the halls
And through the walls,
My harried thoughts are singing.
I hear them there,
And over there,
Like finches they are winging.

I think of you,
And you, and you,
And, oh, the anguish stinging.
For every time,
You seem sublime,
I only end up wringing.

And so it is,
I’m only his,
The one who me is flinging.
And so I’ll go,
Where no one knows,
And meet you there in clinging.
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For a (really bad) audio version of this poem, click below . . .

 

let’s talk about the weather

(No, seriously!)

I was shocked when I moved to Tennessee as a freshman in college and my mom bought me an umbrella. “It’s summer, Mom,” I protested. California summers are hot and DRY. I did not need an umbrella.

It rained weekly in Chattanooga that summer and fall.

I needed an umbrella.

When winter came, though, I was sure I’d be prepared. I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. We skied in Tahoe when I was a kid; sometimes it snowed at home. I knew about winter.
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My hometown on a wintry day.

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I did not know about winter.

In an era of global warming, pictures like the above are becoming less and less common in my hometown. Most of California rarely sees a daytime high below 40°F (5.5℃); in Chattanooga, though, it’s common. I remember walking across campus that January and marveling that, at noon, I could still see my breath. I learned to wear gloves and scarves and hats in Chattanooga. I’d never really needed them before.
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Ice skating, anyone?

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This year, as a graduate student in Knoxville, I have again been struck by the weather. Although we haven’t had deep snows or sub-zero temperatures like other parts of the nation, we have had some really cold days — days in the low 20s that have frozen lakes and ponds . . . Days that chill you to the bone and require hot cocoa and cuddling by a fire (or, in my case, a heater) . . . Days when, to keep from going stir crazy, you put on six layers of clothing and go for a run to feel alive . . .

I remember really cold winters in Taiwan and Hong Kong, too. There’s something about humidity that penetrates the soul.
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How do you feel about winter? What has your winter looked like so far this year (that is, if you live in the Northern Hemisphere)? What does it typically look like? (Share a picture of your weather if you feel so inclined!)

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. William Shakespeare

Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. Henry Adams

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Frozen solid.

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It was 22°F and felt like 12°F (-5.6℃, or -11℃) with a when I took these photos.

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Poor fishies!

(Ironically, while I was drafting this, it warmed up significantly here for a couple of days. I might even ride my bike tomorrow! . . . Of course, when I mentioned this to the lady at the dry cleaners today, she laughed. “Don’ be fooled! ‘Ees jes’ playin’ wid you. Winter ain’ over yet!”