How We Overcome– Times Up

eddie-garcia-503631Week 1 of the quarter is officially over and it has been exhausting… I forgot how hard it was to get back into a routine of work, studying, and getting up early after doing none of that for several weeks. Yet the week is done, it’s time for another blog post, and today I’ve got something big to talk about.

So let’s talk.

Now my parents have raised me to be a believer in something better— a better day, a better health, a better love, a better future. Whether I’m sitting in class believing that I can make it through a boring lecture or writing a new chapter hoping I can make it something worth reading, sometimes hope is all we’ve got.

That is until someone hands us some concrete evidence that maybe hope is working.

That evidence came this week.

If you didn’t watch the Golden Globes last weekend, chances are you still know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the words “Times Up”. From the MeToo movement to a fiercely strong front of women standing up around the country, you can bet that things are changing.

sand feetAnd I’m not just talking about sexual harassment. I mean everything.

The questions is, is it happening too slowly?

I know, there is a point when we may be asking too much from the world around us, from the status quo. But I have to wonder why it took so long for a black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award; it took ten years after its creation for any woman to earn it and another fifty six after that for a woman of color to earn it. A black woman. Was this too much to ask until now?

I have to wonder what this kind of thing says to the kids who are trying to live up to the idols they see when… Well, when they can’t see them. It’s all about representation. If you listened to Oprah’s speech, she started off with her own anecdote about watching Sidney Poitier win the Oscar for best actor back in 1964.

She saw him before he went on to win the same award she just did eighteen years later.

Now it’s 2018 and that award is finally in her own hands. It’s been a long time coming, don’t you think?

Yet like I said, my parents raised me to be a believer. In capability, in strength, in change, and most of all in myself. Because no matter how many people have torn Oprah down in the past, no matter what she’s gone through, there’s a reason we know her by her first name— she believed in exactly who she was and became the woman she is now by doing everything she could to get here.

alexander-andrews-394973She is an overcomer.

I think in this day and age, each one of us has to be too. As a teenager and as a minority, I’ve definitely caught myself wondering at times why the world was stacked against me: in missing out on opportunities, in trying to make it to class on time, even in losing touch with good people. Then there are things like finding someone to do my hair, in losing out on jobs I was perfectly qualified for, and even filling out college applications knowing very well what it means to be a minority applicant.

Just because society may act like things are settled out evenly for everyone, that doesn’t mean certain people aren’t going to be the odd ones out every single time.

So we overcome, we work harder.

I am growing up in a very different age than watching Sidney Poitier win an Oscar, the second African American to ever win an Academy Award. And yet, I am here to see the first African American woman win the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Maybe it’s just me, but I was hoping we would be out of firsts by now.

It brings to mind a quote, kudos to you if you know book it is from:

“So we beat on, boats against the current borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Moments like Sunday, those are the boats. And circumstances that allow moments like olayinka-babalola-281459Sunday to still matter, those are the currents.

So we beat on through them, we keep going. We keep believing in change and the ability for every single one of us to make a difference.

Because maybe in another fifty six years, we won’t have to worry so much about the “firsts”.

Maybe the world will finally echo it back when we say the words Times Up.

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A Resolution for Something Better

annie-spratt-178364.jpgWelcome to 2018, a new year and a fresh chance to accidentally write the wrong year on all your dates for a while. But maybe this year we can get the hang of it a little faster.

New year, new us right?

Except not really. Every year, I seem to share this sentiment more than the last when I consider the idea of starting over. As much as a new year doesn’t truly mean that we have a completely clean slate, even I can’t deny the fact that it means change.

This year is fresh chance to try again. A new start with resolutions of exercising more, getting better grades, spending more time with the right people… The list goes on. But aside from the hope we all seem to hold of something better, these are all good things, I think there’s something that truly needs to be focused on this year.

We need to focus on ourselves.

nathan-lemon-482951As the countdown came for the new year, I watched the time tick closer to the end of my teenage years. Not just that, but in watching my brother’s graduation and the people I always saw as little freshman in high school coming into their senior years… Time is something we have no control over; I knew that, but that doesn’t stop it from flying by.

So instead of focusing on the big pieces of our lives that can change who we are, I wanted to focus in on the little ones for ourselves.

Like trying to be a little kinder this year.

Volunteering more or holding doors, smiling at strangers.

Think about the people who matter to you in this life, remind them of that.

And remember the singular, fragile lives we all hold— try to spend every day doing something worth living for.

Because this is a new year, not quite a blank slate but still a reason to give yourself a second chance (maye a third or a fourth).

I believe it should be a year of self-love, not just taking baths every night and treating yourself while you can, but truly appreciating who you are. With so much technology in our faces and social media showing what people want us to see, especially in my generation, we can lose sight of our own brilliance.aaron-burden-143101

We forget our own worth.

I think sometimes people get so caught up in their jobs or worries or responsibilities or friends that they forget this: every one of you should be a priority in your own life.

At times, that means slowing down. Whether you’re in college, you’ve got a demanding job, or you’re simply in a position where you can work too hard, maybe you should do the opposite. As I’ve said before, burnout is real and it truly affects every aspect of your life.

If you need to slow down do it— this means taking less units, calling in sick, springing a random day-trip… Whatever you need to do to get yourself where you want to be, do it. This isn’t a year to hold back.

This is a year of taking every step that we can towards a healthier and happier population.

With a world that holds 4.7 billion people, I can’t deny the rise of mental health issues and unhappy people around me. That doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to change it. The thing is, that change starts with you. And me. With every one of us making eduard-militaru-133851.jpgan effort in our own lives to being better.

This is day 5 of 365, with a little time left to make yourself genuinely smile at least once today. If there’s something you want, something you need to do, there is no time like the present to get started. Because this is a new year, same old us, but still a chance to change who we are becoming. For today and the next 360 days, here’s to our journey towards a better version of ourselves.

A Year in the Making- 2017 Monthly Moments

brigitte-tohm-181096Have you ever wondered what it’s like to sum up the past year in less than 1,000 words? Probably not, but I did it for you anyway because 2017 truly had some unforgettable moments in it. From music to mayhem, here are twelve moments you may have missed this year.


January

Back in January, the Women’s March was only the beginning. Starting with the coalition of female-identified people from DC to California, we saw women really begin to speak out for what they believed in. And did we hear them or what? From there we saw  Wonder Woman (both staring and directed by a woman) come out, the major impact of out Times People of the year, and what became the MeToo movement sparking across the globe. This year was a big one for women to use their voices.

February

Now I admit, though many people have reminded me of just how much they disagree, I’m not a huge fan of post-Halo Beyonce… That being said, it was a pretty big deal when she released her announcement for the twins via Instagram– she truly set the bar for maternity shoots, even I know that. As the Carter family continues to grow, so will the Beyonce fandom. Team Queen Bey anyone?

March

georgia-vagim-381292If you didn’t see the movie Get Out, in my opinion you missed out. Not only was its take on the horror genre completely different, but it also managed to slip some major issues into the comedic and thrilling plot in under two hours. Plus, but it still has a 99% on Rotten Tomatoes.

April

As it seems to hold up every year now, there were a whole lot of memes in 2017. From the controversial Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner to the “Disloyal Man Walking with His Girlfriend and Looking Amazed at Another Seductive Girl,” there were plenty of ways to keep the internet entertained this year.

May

pablo-heimplatz-243307Though it’s been a hard year and the Manchester bombing was only a piece of the puzzle, the benefit concert held by Ariana Grande One Love Manchester shed a little light on our ability to do what we can, the good still left in the world around us. Raising over 13 million in twelve hours, I’d say that’s a pretty successful reminder.

June

With people like Kendrick, Khalid, Kehlani and Kesha all having dropped an album this year, music seems to just keep changing as do the big names in the industry. Nevertheless, whether you like her or not, Taylor Swift’s return to streaming services and the release of her new Reputation this year was huge. But you can’t ask the old Taylor about that, apparently she’s dead.

July

With the suicide of Linkin Park lead singer Chester Bennington as well as the earlier release of Netflix Original Series 13 Reasons Why, among other things, a greater importance has been placed on mental health this year. Whether someone has a diagnosed issue or not, it is imperative that people prioritize themselves and all aspects of their health every day.

August

mark-tegethoff-348805Ah, there’s nothing like a solar eclipse to potentially blind people. But if you did it right, you were able to catch a glimpse of this year’s spectacle without that unfortunate result. In August the Great American Eclipse captured eyes everywhere, and if you were lucky, maybe you got some pretty cool pictures out of it too.

September

With an onslaught of natural disasters this year, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey among them, we’ve seen a lot of damage in just 12 months. But with these disasters came incredible people who helped send out food, donations for those who lost their houses from fires or other damages, and even a coalition of five past presidents in the One American Appeal. A lot of things came together this year.

October

I didn’t watch the first season, but if you’re looking for something to Netflix binge, Stranger Things season 2 came out in October. With all the hype I am still hearing about, even I’m tempted to watch it before the new quarter starts.

November

chuttersnap-198430If you love following royal news, than I’m sure you were thrilled to hear about the engagement of Prince Harry and American television’s Suits actress Meghan Markle. Not only as an American, but also as a bi-racial media figure, Markle is definitely someone to watch as they head towards a May wedding.

December

And to end it all, let’s talk about at least one of the feel-good moments this year: There’s nothing like the unpredictable friendship between 81 year old Rosalind Guttman and 22 year old aspiring rapper Spencer Sleyon after meeting on Words With Friends. They finally met up in Palm Springs this year and became better friends from there. Talk about an unlikely pairing.


allef-vinicius-331173Now I know 2017 held so many more events that had a major impact on how this year played out, but as we head into 2017, try to hold how it’s all shaped who you are today. 2018 can be a blank slate after all. From funny moments to downright blasphemous ones, this year as been a rollercoaster. One that only gas two days left. So as we wrap up these last few days, I want to say thank you for sticking with me on my journey and I hope you all have a fantastic end/beginning to the 2018 🙂 Until next year!

The Open Arms of Change

All great changes are preceded by chaos.
–Deepak Chopra

mira-bozhko-456983Do you want to know something about 2017? Well, if you take a recap from last year, I turned eighteen, graduated high school, committed from one great college to another, published my book, and started my freshman year.

But this year has been something I can only describe with this: Absolute chaos.

From class registrations to life celebrations, this year has held a lot of things that I couldn’t plan for. It’s funny, living in Folsom, I always had such a solid schedule— get up, go to school, go to practice, come home and do homework, sleep, start over.

My routine used to be a rinse and repeat. But this year I’ve started running after buses, changing schedules days before classes start, and truly hoping for the best when someone says 7ams or 8-10pms are likely… 

Clearly things aren’t as simple anymore.

Yet somehow, amongst the chaos and the stress, everything I could have never seen coming, I’ve learned a whole lot more than I would have with a regular routine.

I’m starting to see things change. And no, I don’t mean the fact that the world is so much more colorful here in NorCal than it is in San Luis Obispo— I mean this life and the people in it. Everything is growing up, little by little. And I think it’s because we are ready for something that everyone seems to be so scared of:chris-lawton-154388

It takes a new calendar year for someone to decide to take their health more seriously.

It takes loss for people to realize how much what they have really matters to them.

It takes the hate, the bad and the ugly, for people to see the love, the good and the beauty.

When in reality, all we really need to do is open our eyes a little bit more. To welcome the change.

We are only three days away from Christmas now and if that spirit isn’t hitting you, turn up the holiday music; sometimes it takes effort to get back into it, that doesn’t mean you can’t.

Because just as the world around us in this life keeps shifting, so do our mindsets. With plenty of things beyond our control, from the net neutrality voting to a possible drought on the way, the one thing we should always be able to count on is ourselves.

I know it’s been a long year, maybe you lost yourself and a couple other pieces along the way. But today has been another day, one that you have made it through, and you’ve worked hard enough to appreciate that. Hold on to the fact that if you’re looking for change, you can make it happen. Sure, maybe you’ll need a little help along the way.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for it.gareth-harper-175342.jpg

And speaking of help, there is never anything wrong with giving in to the mayhem a little bit too. Whether you still need to go Christmas shopping or simply need to slow down, sometimes a change in mindset and just a hint of positivity can go a long way when you need it.

You never know, maybe what you’re looking for is still hidden in the chaos that is yet to come. All you can do is open your arms and accept it.

Happy Holidays everyone 🙂

 

A Quick Guide to Christmas

aaron-burden-481047.jpgOnly ten days away from the holiday, I hope you’re ready! But if you’re not, no need to fear, cause I’m here for you with a quick guide to the holidays.

If  you’re anything like me, Christmas is so much more than a religious holiday or a chance to sped money on people we care about– it’s a time to celebrate everything this holiday means to us while appreciating the people we have in our lives to celebrate with. And since I’ve been avoiding going out in public for the past two days, I’ve had some time to come up with a few ideas for gifts if you’re still a little stuck. Take a look.


For Parents

If your parents are anything like mine, they probably answered your question of what they want for Christmas with something like “I don’t want anything I don’t already have” OR “I want more time and sleep.” Neither of those answers might seem very helpful, but actually, there’s a way to still do something with them. I feel like candles are something you can never go wrong with when it comes to parents, but what about the time?

Take them out to breakfast or cook one of their favorite meals for them, maybe watch some videos on how to do a good massage and lull someone to sleep the nice way. I know it can be hard to think of good gift ideas, but at a certain point, it really is the thought that counts. Just find something they’d appreciate and go from there. Don’t overthink it.

For Friends

Do you have any friends who are super into dogs, music, or really anything ben-white-170529that they just really love? Can’t go wrong with a nice T-shirt or a mug, maybe even a solid pair of comfy socks with a nice graphic on it. Have you checked out Etsy? Depending on what you’re looking for, it just might be your one stop shop for anything you want. Looking for jewelry? Got it. Beanies or scarves? Got that too. Not only does it have a lot of cool options for out-of-the-box thinking, but a lot of the time the shipping is quick and if anything goes wrong, you can usually switch things out if you need to.

For Family

One of the greatest things about family is that you can get them almost anything and they will probably appreciate it. Good thing is, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to make a nice gift. If you’ve got some classic family pictures or even an old notebook, put some memories to paper and tope em off with a bow. Nothing says I appreciate you more than reminding someone of all the good moments you’ve shared. And speaking of good moments, when it comes to family, terrible snapchats and bad candids are never off limits; do something with that you’ve got!

For Anyone Else

karlis-dambrans-117428.jpgChances are, if you’re looking to give someone a gift then you at least have an idea of what they would like. But if you’ve got no clue, then here are just a few: Succulents are always a nice gift because they’re easy to care for and can add a pop of color to any room; a small gift basket of lotions, bath salts, or candles for a nice night of relaxing; when all else fails, gift cards are a good go-to. Places like Target, Starbucks, and Kohls always have a good selection of things for people to buy. Oh, and food– homemade food, from cookies to fudge, usually makes a wonderful gift for anyone.


The holidays are upon us and I hope that this has offered you a few options if you’re scrambling for gift ideas this year. On another note, I hope everyone remembers that the holidays are about more than giving presents to people we care about, but also about thinking of the people who cannot truly celebrate the holidays the way they want to. With the recent fires, many people lost their homes or their possessions, as well as many who are simply not as well off as others.

josh-boot-177342If you’ve got any left over holiday cash or just want to give back to the world around you, think about donating what you’ve got to other people this year and spreading the cheer. Take a look these two websites here and here, or take a look at the Red Cross for just a few ways to give back.

That’s it for this week, happy holiday shopping and congratulations on the end of another semester for all those students finally making their ways to break!

 

Another Quarter Down

hide-obara-233Take a moment to stop and smell the roses, pull in a little bit of that December air. Do you smell that?

That is the beautiful aroma of freedom.

This morning I finished my last final for the quarter, quite possibly my last chemistry class ever, and it was fantastic. Just like that, another quarter is behind me; it took me a second to realize that this quarter really flew by. Between my classes and working along with trying to be more social this year, it’s been a pretty busy last couple months.

I’ve joined a few more groups on campus, committed more to a future I want, and improved my work ethic (at least I’d like to think so), all in a quarter’s work. After weeks of running after buses and 8-10pm classes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year— we are heading off towards the holidays.

Just in time to get my wisdom teeth out on Wednesday.

baim-hanif-89800Now that I’ve been out of high school for a year and one quarter at Cal Poly, I am constantly reminded of the responsibilities that are headed my way. From paying utility bills and gas to keeping up with deadlines and schoolwork while working, the adulting process has only just begun.

But that’s how it always is though isn’t it, we finish one thing just to start another. Just because I finished my 50,000 words last week doesn’t mean I’m done with the book; not quite yet. There’s always more to do and another challenge around the next corner.

That’s not to say we can’t still  celebrate the good things while we can.

And well, today I just want to celebrate the fact that Nick and I are home now only to turn around and head for Reno— Kris graduates tomorrow. I’m only in year two of my college experience, yet I can imagine what it feels like to be in his shoes. Getting through undergrad, the people and the stress, the tests and the work, to finally make it to the speeches and the graduation gown orders to walk across that stage and do the one thing we started all of this to do. To graduate.

kalen-emsley-99660It’s that idea of accomplishment, of reaching a new chapter or change and knowing where we started to get there. Take the recent TIMES articles, both the women and the men who raised their voices to what became #metoo. Those are our people of the year, can you believe it? If you take a look back on where the attitudes towards women or sexual assault started, society has come so far from letting bad things happen without fighting back, from not working towards something better.

That’s what we’re all doing isn’t it? Every day we make a change, we get up in the morning, and we work towards a better tomorrow. It’s why we go to school or we get jobs; it’s something like graduation or the changes we see in TIMES is so important— that is the better tomorrow.

It can only ever be what we make it.

This is the last month of the year, the final chance to cross those yearly bucket lists off before we start a new one, committing to go to the gym five days a week or taking better care of ourselves. Here’s the thing: the more you set future deadlines for the things you want to do, the things you deserve to do for yourself, the more time you leave between you and your goals.

So why not now? Go for a run tomorrow or reconnect with those people you’ve been meaning to catch up with all year. Live a life that you can be sure is yours, every single day. Make your change.

ahmed-saffu-217918Because I finished my second set of fall quarter finals today— I only get two more of those (so sad right?). Time will keep passing, people will keep coming and going, and life will keep on changing as I make my way towards my own graduation day; before I have no choice but to join the adult world and play my cards all in. For now, I think I’m okay with staying where I am, in celebrating Kris’s last four years of hard work while we cheer him on from our seats tomorrow. I’ve still got a little time and now, it’s my turn to appreciate someone else’s.

So happy holidays to everyone, and here’s to those heading towards finals of their own: good luck, study hard, and please don’t forget to sleep.

And hey, don’t forget to smell the roses, the aroma of freedom just a breath away.

 

The Beginning of The End– How to Keep Going

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And just like that, welcome to the final month of 2017.

You know those months where you count down the days, square by square on that calendar, until it’s over? Well that was me with the month of November, but not because of how much I love the Christmas season (though I really do).

You see, November is what a lot of people know to be National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s an idea, one that started with just a few people and now reaches worldwide to creative writers up for the task: write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Does that sound daunting to you? Because it did to me.

These past few months have had a whole lot going on, from my work life and my personal life to my educational life and my sleep life. Trust me, these are all different things— I’ve gotten good at procrastinating on each and every one of them.

This month, I needed something good, even if it was just in one aspect of my life I could control. So I made a commitment to the one thing I care about solely for myself and unfortunately, the one thing I’ve a hard time finding my voice in for a while now.

My writing.

On November 1st, I set a bookmark in the novel I’ve been working on since January of last year and I wrote below it “Start here.

patrick-fore-381200.jpgSingle word by single word, I did my best to keep up with that challenge every day. But I’m sure we all know, commitments can be hard to keep.

By day 5 I was supposed to be at 8,333 words, by day 10, 16,667. Both times, I was stuck on 5,568— I couldn’t find the energy, the motivation, to do what I wanted to do. Everyday I watched that number get farther and farther away from me, like sand through my fingers— there was no way to stop it.

Days went on, passing over the keyboard while my fingers neglected to, and before I knew it, Thanksgiving break was here; I was at 25,000 when I needed to be at 35,000.

I wanted to give up, to forget the goal of reaching what I wanted and accept that maybe I wasn’t cut out for a commitment like that. It was too hard to keep up.

Yet there was this voice in my head, not the nagging insecure one telling me to let it go already, but the one that always keeps me going. It told me to try just a little bit harder. For as I’ve quoted before, not only regarding writing but everything it means to be human:

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

So I didn’t give up.

I spent the entirety of that break hoping to see friends, do some homework, spend time with family, and try to catch up with the word count. Yet by Friday, I still had 10,000 words to go to be on track. It was now or never.leio-mclaren-299136.jpg

Picture this, Nick and I are driving back to SLO on Saturday morning with a friend and once Nick and I switched off driving, I started writing. Then… I fell asleep. I woke up here in San Luis Obispo, still 9,532 words behind that goal.

So I wrote and I wrote until the day was done, unlike my homework, finally down to 4,658 to catch up (add another 1,666 for the next day to get me to 41,667).

The goal seemed so far away, I was tired of constantly running behind that line. But I was catching up, slowly. So I decided it was my job to make it happen.

On Sunday, I got up and went straight to my computer. I was ready to knock that line out.  First I hit 37,000; then 39,000; there was no way I could stop there. After a club meeting and a food break, I returned for the home stretch. Finally I hit 41,693 words on day 25— I caught up.

Over the past week of being back, during prep-week before finals and the last days of class, I kept up with that line, always staying ahead, until yesterday. For yesterday, I hit 50,494 words at 11:36pm.

I made it to 50,000 with 24 minutes to spare.

It was an incredible feeling to hit that number— I had managed to double my word count and get so much closer to finishing my book, all in 30 days. Because I committed to it.

Despite how many times I wanted to quit or how hard it was to keep up, I still made it.

So as we head into this last month of the year, I want you to think about everything I just told you; it’s not about how close you are to where you want to be, its whether or not you keep trying anyway.derek-story-308547

This year has been hard, for everyone that I know, it’s been a long time coming. But today is another day and we made it; congratulations, because no matter what, you are still going. Be proud of yourself for that. In this holiday season, among the job stress or finals weeks, remember that it’s okay to want to quit, to want to open your hands and let the sand slip through. As long as you hold on to the people by your side and your own reasons to keep going, all I ask is you try for just a little bit longer.

Soon enough, the tide will turn for you.