An Update on the Journey

I haven’t blogged since January. That’s really weird to think about because I know I like blogging, but I haven’t devoted the time to do it. There’s so much to write about, but I have let myself live and experience life for a bit. I will admit, I haven’t put time aside to just sit and reflect in writing. I am not going to write about everything that has transpired over the last three months, but I at least want to break my blogging silence.

The past months have been both rough and great, sometimes at the same time. In really happy moments, I think I have found myself crying. In days that have brought me joy, I think that I have felt sad or hurt. That’s all part of my journey though. Professional and personally, I don’t think I am where I am because of the pure happy moments or the purely sad moments, but a mixture of the two.

From friend break ups to my sister’s wedding, I have had the most perspective gaining and introspective past couple of months. On the professional side, I’m starting to realize my potential to be great and do well in the field of higher education/student affairs. Personally, I’m making deeper connections to the people in my life.

The scary part about my journey is the unknown. I have no idea what job I will be in and where geographically I will be living. I am usually very excited about the future. For once, I am actually truly scared of the future. I find myself having mini-anxious moments when I start to over think things. I think I fear the unknown because it means sacrifice of the things that I have come to love about living in Boston. I have been blessed to have a network of people who support me. I’m afraid to let it all go. But, the journey isn’t supposed to be easy and is supposed to challenge me. It’s not supposed to be comfortable.

This is the first time in my life I actually do not want to leave people behind. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to make new connections with new people like I have here. It has taken me almost 4 years to create some of the friendships and relationships in my network and I can be super honest that I am afraid to give this up.

Being in Boston has given me the most convenient access to a wealth of cultural activities that I think sometimes I take for granted. I’m able to attend really great concerts, go to Six Flags, eat at world-class restaurants, live near Fenway Park, run on beautiful paved paths around the city, see amazing free concerts in the park, and hop on the subway or bus to any destination I please.

Even with all of this, the journey is the journey. I can’t dictate what will be, but I can control how I feel about it and digest it all at the end of the day. Two years ago, I can still remember when I faced change in the face and refused to accept it.

Maybe, this is the time, once again, to look it in the face and say, bring it!

I don’t know. We’ll see what happens and I’ll have to post about it again soon. For now, I just have to see what happens! With school finishing up very soon and on-campus interviews ramping up, I’ll just have to take each day one at a time and see where things go.

The Morning I Decided I Need To Skydive

Photos of SkyDive Pepperell, Pepperell

This photo of SkyDive Pepperell is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Last night, I spent the night with one of my greatest friends I’ve met at UC San Diego who moved here to Boston this past Fall. Allison Potter and I were co-coordinators of the Alternative Breaks@UCSD program! Last night, we talked, watched movies and YouTube videos, and looked up Groupons that seemed cool. Within our search for Groupons, I stumbled upon something awesome. So, here goes some reflection that happened in my head over the past 24 hours and about the last 7 days, which have been a series of trials and tribulations.

I sometimes come off as a very busy person who overworks himself. I find happiness by making other people feel happy or by finding ways to make positive change in this world. It’s a lot of selfless giving and nothing in return.

Let’s change that.

There are few times in my life I have felt truly alive. I just reflected on this and thought about the time I finished a half-marathon, the time I played the Iroquois “fish game” with my alternative break service team in the middle of the Smoky Mountains while barefoot in frozen grass, and the time I sat upon Mayan Ruins and hiked 16 miles to caves and waterfalls in the jungles of Belize. Those were some of the times in my life I felt alive and realized my existence in this world and that the world is not just a scary place, but a beautiful place.

A lot of things have happened in the last 7 days. When life happens, I forget to live. When bad things happen to people I love most, I forget to live. When people walk in and out of my life, I forget to live.

I need to live.

I need to be alive. I need to be present with what’s here and see that there is much to live for and many things to experience. I need to remember how alive I am and be reminded of the life I need to live. I only have one shot to make it amazing and to fill it with once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

This morning, we had a retreat for our Graduate Student Government at Northeastern University. We were sitting in the room before the retreat preparing for the day, and I was just thinking about the Groupon I found. The Groupon I found was a discounted price of a Tandem Skydive Jump. I asked my friend Kledio Bacci (another VP within the Grad Student Government) randomly to do this with me, and he amazingly agreed in about 10 seconds. We kept talking about the dangers and the risk involved, but how we both wanted to do this and that this was the moment to commit to it. Within minutes, we both purchased the Groupon and we plan to do this when the season opens back up, hopefully in May! So, this was the morning I decided I needed to skydive and I finally made the commitment to do it. Life is way too short to not do the things you need and want to do.

Right now, life is testing me. It’s definitely showing me that life isn’t permanent. Before #YOLO became a thing, we used to say that you only get one life to live. I really do realize now that life is given to us, but can threatened to be taken away at a moments notice. I know this feeling personally because I have had my left threatened and thought I was going to die. It’s that moment when your life flashes before your eyes. You hear about it, but it’s another thing to actually have it happen to you. And now, I am once again tested because I am in fear that I will actually lose someone I love.

If there’s anything I have learned so far, it is that I need to find ways to enrich my life with awesome experiences before it’s too late. I think I have done a good job at that, but I also think I have stopped myself in recent days from realizing the amazing things I have done and the things that I have yet to experience.

So, I post this here as an open invite for others to join in to cross off one of my most-feared yet most-awesome bucket list items. It’s happening sometime in May after I graduate.

Get this Groupon before it goes away! $159 for a Tandem Skydive Jump (a $235 value)!

Now, cue up “What Doesn’t Kill Us (Makes Us Stronger)” by Kelly Clarkson. You better believe I’m actually going to add a Bucket List to my blog as a new tab!

Reblog: 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

So, I found this post off of Bucket List Publications’s blog and thought it was really good! I think I often find myself doing the things this article says to stop doing. I’ve read different things saying that maybe we should all set affirmative goals and things we should start doing, but really there comes a time when you realize you are doing a lot of things that aren’t productive or positive and need to stop. I think this puts those things into a neat list of 30 things!I am tempted to attempt making progress with some of these things in this list. Some of thees things are very difficult, though. Just look at #1. In the past couple of months, I have eliminated people from my life or have been eliminated from people’s lives. I’m pretty sure I can write an entire blog post about #1. Anyway, read the post below!

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

I read this post this morning and loved it! I don’t often share the work of others on the blog but this post was definitely ”share-worthy”. Creating a bucket list lifestyle encompasses treating yourself right and learning from your mistakes. This post is a great reflection of those lessons.

Is there one of these that you do often? Are there several? Let’s let the good things catch up. 

Written by marcandangel

30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself

When you stop chasing the wrong things you give
the right things a chance to catch you.

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Nothing could be closer to the truth.  But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.  If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you.  You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot.  Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.  And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.
  2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on.  No, it won’t be easy.  There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them.  We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems.  That’s not how we’re made.  In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall.  Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time.  This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.
  3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself.  Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves.  Read The Road Less Traveled.
  4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.  Yes, help others; but help yourself too.  If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.
  5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you likeeveryone else.  Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you.  Don’t change so people will like you.  Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.
  6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
  7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing.  Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success.  You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us.  We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past.  But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future.  Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
  9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive.  But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.
  10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either.  You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place.  Evaluate situations and take decisive action.  You cannot change what you refuse to confront.  Making progress involves risk.  Period!  You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.
  12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises.  Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.
  13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely.  It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.  There’s no need to rush.  If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.
  14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet.  Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you.  But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.
  15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you.  Concentrate on beating your own records every day.  Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.
  16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own.  Ask yourself this:  “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”
  17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you.  You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough.  But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past.  You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation.  So smile!  Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.
  18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart.  You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate.  Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.”  It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.”  Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself!  And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too.  If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.
  19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.
  20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway.  Just do what you know in your heart is right.
  21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things.  The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.
  23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.  Read Getting Things Done.
  24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile.  Don’t take the easy way out.  Do something extraordinary.
  25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while.  You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well.  You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears.  The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.
  26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life.  When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.
  27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out.  But making one person smile CAN change the world.  Maybe not the whole world, but their world.  So narrow your focus.
  28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy.  One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time?  Three years?  Five years?”  If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.
  29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen.  Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.
  30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.  Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Photo by: Rob Brucker

About Marc and Angel Hack Life
Passionate writers, admirers of the human spirit, and full time students of life, Marc and Angel enjoy sharing inspirational advice and practical tips for life on their popular personal development blog, “Marc and Angel Hack Life.”  Currently the site contains over 600 articles on happiness, productivity, emotional intelligence, relationships, and general self-improvement, and has attracted over 100 million page views and 100 thousand subscribers since its inception in 2006.

Joy Jar 2013 Unveiled

This is my end of the year post that closes up my 2013 goal of capturing some of my joys this year. So, you can revisit my original post at the start of the year on my Joy Jar! Along with this post is an accompanying video as shown below! Watch the video and read the post!

So now, I hope to close the loop on 2013 by sharing what came out of my Joy Jar. Here’s the original photo I found on another blog:

JoyJar

So, I was inspired to start my own Joy Jar and use post its and paper to capture some of the highlights and joys of 2013. Here it is:

Joy Jar 2013

So instead of the typical “in review” post, I’ll use these joys as a way to recount those moments this year. They are not in chronological order, so this will be fun going back and forth through the year! I’ll write a short description of the joy if I need to further explain or reflect. I’ll type out the note as well in case my penmanship was bad a certain day. My little mini-blogs within each “joy” may be really short, really long, or non-existent (self-explanatory). I know it’s a couple days before New Year’s Eve, but I doubt I’m going to add stuff into this year.

JOY #1: Thanks to some awesome AB friends, I met and exceeded my fundraising goal to attend the ACC training!

Photo Dec 26, 12 10 32 AM

I got to attend the Active Citizen City training and Alternative Break trip. Although this did not pan out the way I wanted it to and we didn’t successfully start-up a new organization here in Boston, I think the trip really grounded me. It also showed me people who would support me if it means I get to perform service work and enrich my life for the greater good. I wrote a blog post about it, so you can read here.

JOY #2: Drinks with JJ, JMah, and Marc.

Photo Dec 26, 12 10 58 AM

JOY #3: NASPA Region 1 Conference

Photo Dec 26, 12 11 29 AM

One of those professional development moments that changed the way I look at the field and what I”m getting myself into. I know that my Masters will pay off because of the amazing people I will work alongside and the students I’ll get to serve. This was a networking time for me and I’ve met some people I think I’ll stay in touch with long after this conference (and actually do it, because I have). It was my first time in Florida and Orlando, but it didn’t include any time at Disneyworld. Sad, I know, but my trip was for the conference and I spent a lot of time in educational sessions, meetings, discussions, and networking events. It was really worth my money and I enjoyed taking a leave from the cold New England weather for sunny and warm 80 degree weather. You can read a past blog post about this here!

JOY #4: Friends donated to my Active Citizen City Trip Fund!

Photo Dec 26, 12 11 50 AM

One of those moments I know people believe in me, the things I put my mind to, and the experiences I will get that will help shape me. The ACC did not turn out, but I think I still gained so much knowledge and experience from this trip. I think I gained a confidence that even though I don’t do alternative breaks anymore, service is what I believe in, working with college students is what I love, and that I need to work on being an active citizen long after a single alternative break trip.

JOY #5: Networking with NEU Student Affairs

Photo Dec 26, 12 12 52 AM

I met lots of people at my own school. Sometimes as graduate students, we forget about our own campus. I say a collective “we” because I know most people in my program don’t interact with student affairs professionals at Northeastern University. That’s a fact! So, this mixer helped open those doors. I found that I know a lot more people. I got an interview and a job offer from this mixer. I didn’t take the job offer because of different reasons, but I know networking really works and helps you get yourself and your name out there.

JOY #6: Brandeis Department of Community Service

Photo Dec 26, 12 13 11 AM

My beloved internship placement as part of my Practicum for my Masters program at Northeastern. I completely love working here and meeting with the three students who I work closely with. I know it’s a 3 hours round trip bus ride two times a week, but it’s well worth it. I always feel good going to my internship and I’m not afraid to say that. I feel like I’m getting a lot of experience and it has been a highlight of my Fall semester.

JOY #7: I had the best Skype chat with Rachel Tran. I miss her!

Photo Dec 26, 12 13 53 AM

I must have had this conversation back in January or something. That’s the last time I remember us Skyping. I remember Rachel saying such sweet things about me and it made me feel very motivated. I don’t always seek validation or recognition, but there are times when I just need to be reminded that I often put my mind into amazing projects and that I’ve accomplished a lot in my 25 years of life. Thankful to have Rachel in my life and thank you for always reminding me to keep on going.

JOY #8: Seeing Yaa and Mercedes after a long time!

Photo Dec 26, 12 14 08 AM

JOY #9: Dinner with Albert and JJ crashing it!

Photo Dec 26, 12 14 32 AM

I met Albert at an Alternative Breaks@UCSD Benefit Dinner 2 years back when I flew home for a couple of days to visit. He came up to me and introduced himself and wanted to know all about City Year. So, he applied within 24 hours and was accepted soon after. He is now doing his Senior Corps year in the Boston Civic Engagement (BCE) team, which is completely awesome. He reminds me that I impact and affect people, and sometimes without knowing it. Anyway, we had dinner after a couple of months of not seeing each other. JJ then came by and hung out and ate with us towards the end. It was a great night!

JOY #10: I love that Yaa sand me “Happy Birthday” over the phone. Best friends <3

Photo Dec 26, 12 14 46 AM

Having a friend who can call you on your birthday. Great. Having them sing to you and sing well. Priceless. Thanks, Yaa!

JOY#11: Coin Collection and Big Sticks. Inside jokes.

Photo Dec 26, 12 15 10 AM

I couldn’t remember what this was about for the longest time between me opening these post it notes in the jar and me writing this out. Then I figured it out. It was definitely an inside joke between me and this guy I went on a date with earlier this year. I guess it was super funny at the time.

JOY#12: Someone told me I’m cool. The little things!

Photo Dec 26, 12 15 22 AM

JOY#13: Emerging 1st Year New Professional Award

Photo Dec 26, 12 15 36 AM

Every year, my Masters program has annual awards that take in nominations. A group of my cohort mates nominated me for the Emerging 1st Year New Professional Award. It was nice to hear what great things they had to say about me and that I try my best to help people and that people notice my passion for what I do. Thanks people!

JOY#14: Duct Confit Panini at Duck Fat in Portland, Maine

Photo Dec 26, 12 15 56 AM

This place is amazing. Everything cooked in Duck Fat. It’s a restaurant started by one of the Chopped winners. Check it out here.

JOY #15: Meeting Alec.

Photo Dec 26, 12 16 10 AM

This is going to be long. He’ll hate that I wrote this, but July 9th, 2013 was when we first met over YouTube subscribe and Twitter tweeting. Social media is a funny thing, but sometimes it can actually do some good. Fast forward and Alec visited and stayed with me back in October and then is moving here in January. I hope he never reads this, but I think he made me realize what I want and need in a relationship with someone (friends and more than friends). This is where my tangent begins.

I want someone with a background story. Rather than just the same old same old okay life growing up, I want someone who understands the things I understand. By this, I mean someone who has had to work hard, persevere, and struggle (and hey, cute would be nice, too). God knows I have had to do all those things just to get here and he shares that with me. I need someone who will just get me. That’s hard to do because it just has to happen. So, looking back, I’ve been on some dates with people who really like me, but there has always been something missing, which is the true connection of understanding each other.

I would say a lot of people in my life come and go. I’ve noticed that through high school until even now, people come into my life and I think I’m friends with them. Then, they just disappear, whether it is my choice or just something that happens. I used to put in so much energy cultivating connections and friendships, but it was always me. I stopped fighting to keep friendships (and long distance friendships) alive because I grew tired and found no point in doing this. Now, back to Alec.

But then I met Alec and I think it made me realize there are some amazing people I have met along my own personal journey of life. So, I think I actively started to reconnect with people again from California then Alec has been in California over the last 2 months, so he was the test if I can keep in contact with someone when geographic distance plays a barrier. We basically text, tweet, or talk somehow all the time as if he’s here. So, I took this and I’m actively trying to reconnect with friends back home who I never see and I think it has made me a little bit happier. It’s weird because I don’t see him face to face, yet I feel like he’s just down the street. Nope, it’s been 2 months.

So, Alec (aka @WhyNotDoStuff) tuned out to be an actual real person who I actually met off the Twittersphere and YouTube, which is kind of funny when I think about it. The 6 days he was here was actually really fun. He already knows this, but he reminds me of a compilation of friends I have attained over the years all put into a single person. He reminds me of my Boston Best Friend, Yaa. They’ve met, which is cool, but I think he brings some of that deep and real conversation with deep-rooted morals, values, and beliefs (even if they come from different areas/places). He reminds me of Tom K, who is one of the most spontaneous, real, and funny people I’ve met who is always willing to sing along to some Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and whatever else is good. He is also a combination of two Tiffany’s I know.

So, why did I write this much about Alec? Well, I talked about how I usually don’t fight for friendships to stay active and a little bit about what I want and need. I think that he’s been the first friendship in a long time I made sure to cultivate and keep alive rather than just fizzle out (which usually happens with people normally when you don’t see them for a long time). I want us to be friends and I feel like I need him in that way (how selfish of me, kidding). I think I miss having those spontaneous friends (most of which I had back in high school and a few in college). I used to have my friend Tom K, but he moved back to Minnesota and it has never been the same.

Sometimes, people need to be told that they’re pretty awesome. I’m good at telling people how much I appreciate them, usually not verbally, but in written words. So, when I say I am in awe of someone, it’s not just because the way they look or present right now, but in their collective past experiences. Within 6 days, I think I’ve seen Alec go through both highs and lows and something just told me I want to be there for him, much like any of my friends I’ve known for  years. I feel like I can truly empathize with him when he’s having a bad day and be there to laugh with him when he’s having a good day.

So, I’m 100% excited for Alec to move here, start a new fresh chapter in his own life, and for random adventures. And, I feel embarrassed for writing this much about him publicly, but I think it will give people some clarity on this random-turned-not-so-random guy I met over the internets. For what it’s worth, it gives me a sense of clarity on why I like talking to him so much. I know, I’m a cheese ball, deal with it.

JOY #16: Temple Run 2

Photo Dec 26, 12 16 22 AM

What an improvement from the first Temple Run. Such a simple concept, but so addicting! It deserves a true joy post!

JOY #17: The Active Citizen City Alternative Break Trip was Awesome!

Photo Dec 26, 12 16 32 AM

I made a similar remark about this earlier, but it was truly awesome. The people who were there were truly awesome. We did service at the Mid-Atlantic Border Collie Rescue. We worked really hard in the cold, but it was worth it. Our first project together was literally scooping up sheep poop and it was delightfully smelly and stinky. What a great bonding time we had. Sarah R, our host, was amazing!

JOY#18: Deciding on NASPA 2013

Photo Dec 26, 12 16 51 AM

I decided very last-minute to attend the NASPA Annual Conference in Orlando, but it was worth it. I spent so much money to make this a reality, but it was great! I learned so much and networked. I already posted this above, but there’s an old blog post about it here.

JOY #19: I got FREE screening tickets for Zero Dark Thirty at a random draw. Thanks to Nate fro coming to all these sreenings with me!

Photo Dec 26, 12 17 12 AM

This was the year of free screenings. I don’t know why I didn’t discover this before, but this year was a big movie year for me. I went to the movie theater so many times, either me paying, or me going for a bunch of free screenings. I went to Zero Dark Thirty in January for free and I saved hundreds this year on free screenings in general. I love movies so much. You can read some reviews on a past blog post from recent screenings.

JOY #20: “I woke up this morning and I couldn’t see the future!” – Lindsay Higgs

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I hope she doesn’t hate me for posting this, but I loved it. It’s funny because the Active Citizen City trip just made us all a little silly, maybe from so much service and so much cold weather? Or it could have been the cute dogs? I don’t know, but this trip bonded all of us from all over the country. We had some funny moments that I couldn’t believe, this one is included. We laughed so much after Lindsay said this one morning. I think Lindsay was super tired when she woke up. I don’t remember exactly what this quote meant, but I think that’s what she meant by my interpretation.

Anyway, I loved Lindsay and she reminded me of a couple of my friends here in Boston and my friend Rachel. I think we laughed so much on this one week winter trip. The other funny moment is another “joy” in this list, but one other moment was the time we had to shovel so much gravel that it felt like our arms were going to fall off. We had to spread it out on the driveways and I literally dropped and laid down on the gravel because I was completely tired and every muscle in my body could not keep me standing anymore. Also, the gravel man. I remember I thought he was cute. He will forever be known as the Gravel Man (I remember texting Raina about this).

JOY #21: I love watching American Horror Story: Asylum because it creeps me out!

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This isn’t my favorite season of AHS (Coven is my favorite), but it was goo when I wrote this out. I think the episodes were dark and creepy (and disturbing). I didn’t like that some story lines never got completed (like the aliens…why…we didn’t need them). But, it was creepy. Also, Adam Levine was really sexy in this. The end. But really, I love this series/anthology.

JOY #22: SJTI & new friends who get me!

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SJTI stands for Social Justice Training Institute. It was a week long of pure race discussions and was absolutely what I needed this summer. I needed a chance to think critically on a major part of my identity, the one people see when they meet me (or see my name on paper). It took me 2.5 days to let the experience become what it needed to become. Even now, I still think about what we talked about and how social justice comes out in reality (or not enough and how we are all still fighting the fight). Everyday, I think about my race an being Asian-American. I think about how many relationships/friendships I have or don’t have because of my race. I think about the reality of this. I think about how it angers me that some people still think we live in a colorblind society and that we shouldn’t talk about differences because we are one human race. So, where do I put this anger?

SJTI exposed me to some supportive people who showed me where this anger can be channeled. I think I yelled at a lot of people a couple of times at SJTI, but I think everyone understood why. When I take myself out of that context and I start getting angry or sad or upset about race, people think I’m being dramatic or taking it too far or being too intense. I essentially become the Angry Asian Man, which I found out is also a blog called Angry Asian Man. Maybe, it’s okay for me to be angry. What ways do I channel this to be productive and to actually make change happen.

Well, what I can say is that I lost one relationship that was just starting due to pure ignorance from that person. I made the decision that it was not worth the fight and struggle. Usually, I would not give up like I did, but I think I had to. Now that I look back, I didn’t give up. I am letting him know that his ignorance (him insulting me because of my beliefs and my belief in the fact that I am Asian and that he is White actually makes a different) is not worth my time. I am not here to try to convince you of something or present some proof or to tell you to do something. Sometimes, people need to find out and learn on their own. I cannot prevent your ignorance nor is my role to continue to hide my beliefs because you won’t accept the. Sorry, no.

The guy (who claims that he wanted to know me as a person and have a human connection and not talk about race or social justice) kept apologizing for walking away from me (literally) and for yelling at me. Then proceeded to yell at me some more over text. Um, you’re not sorry, you’re just trying to cover your own behind. THIS is why I think I made a good decision to let him go and realize there is a community who accepts me for me and my beliefs in something that is true (that there is inequity in this world) and that there is such a thing as power and privilege and White Privilege. There’s all kinds of “privilege” but White Privilege will always fall on top over any other type of privilege.

So with this, why was this a joy? I felt like my eyes opened even more.

JOY #23: Thanks Roxy, Ela, and Lindsay for coming out to Tasca for my birthday!

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I truly hate birthday dinners and celebrations because the part is it’s always difficult to get people to come out for anything because no one is around when it’s my birthday. But, this year was fun because I got to hang out with some of my friends from City Year. They made a couple of hours of my cumulative day into something I enjoyed!

I’ve only a couple really good birthdays in the last 10 years (the one where all my college friends kidnapped me and took me and about 20 people to the Chevy Diner in San Diego). Most of the time, my birthday (the actual one) sucks. I am asking for a pity party in a way because if I was planning a birthday for a good friend, I’d do one HELL of a good job. So, the masterminds behind the San Diego one, thank you. Thank you to those who have tried to make my birthday be more than sucky. Sorry this is totally against the “joy” theme of this post, but it’s my blog and I can cry if I want to.

JOY #24: JJ and I were bound to be friends. Hooray!

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It all started with an extended chat in the 2nd floor paint can open space. I think this year, we got to hang out a lot more, but we need to see each other more often. It’s been awhile as I type this.

JOY #25: Thanks for all the Facebook wall comments, texts, emails, and especially phone calls on my 25th Birthday!

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I was actually surprised I got phone calls on m birthday. Usually, I get some texts and the usual Facebook wall post, but phone calls? That was new. I usually get sad on my birthday because people go and do their big New Year plans and I’m usually at home organizing my sock drawer, watching a movie, or crying by myself (just kidding). So, to get phone calls from some people was nice. Yaa sang to me. That’s new!

JOY #26: “Wait, stop! My glasses!” “Um, Jack, they’re on your head.” “Oh, I mean my phone, something fell.”

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A lot of my favorite moments came out of the first week in January. The Active Citizen City trip was great because of the funny quotes that happened. I said the one above. We were playing games in the dark (for the ACC Olympics). Of course, Boston won, but it was me and one of our trip leaders from Delaware, but still). Anyway, we were running around and I fell on the ground at one point. Then, I lost my phone but that it was my glasses, so I made EVERYONE freeze and stop to look for my “glasses” when t was my phone, but I was confused. I remember taking off my glasses and putting it on my head but thought because I couldn’t see, they fell off. Yeah, confusion. That was part of the plan…right. I guess it was more funny if you were there.

JOY #27: Finishing my First Half Marathon

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By far one of the greatest moments of my life. I won’t write a lot here, since I wrote a blog post about it, but I want to run one again this next year! I am doing a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to run it and to donate. I think that’s the least I can do and it all goes to charity.

To donate, click HERE now! Thanks!

JOY #28: Brians Sims. Drool.

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The sexiest Rep alive from Pennsylvania during my NASPA CLDE Conference. What a hunk. He’s gay. He was an athlete turned politician. Woof. He is a LGBT Rights activist. Hot. He’s funny and charming in real life. *swoons* Seriously, true life stalker fantasies (just kidding). He told us about how he reads and orders his emails for responses. I have this email, but I think I might sound like WAY too much of a stalker to email him about anything. But truly, scruffy and hunky. And he wears glasses. Rawr. Okay, I’ll stop.

JOY #29: Peapod makes grocery shopping and my life easier!

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My friend who used to live in the North End always would tell me how she loves Peapod through Stop & Shop. So, since I lived in Mission Hill the last academic year, I decided to use it to save my arms and the number of trips I would have to make to the market up and down my hill!

JOY #30: Ben Mallare’s voice.

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Oh, Ben Mallare. His sweet, sweet voice. True Northeastern University undergrad crush. His voice is like…buttery on a warm english muffin on a warm morning in May. When he sings on stage and looks at you, it’s like, he’s staring into your soul. Yeah. I sound like such a stalker right about now. I told him he’s so cute and I think he moved to LA, so it’s not as stalkerish…”as stalkerish” I say. His abs. Oh, my, god. Okay, the end.

JOY #31: Trip to Portland, Maine with Hayley and Alyssa!

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Random trips with Hayley and Alyssa were always fun. We did go to the Cape, too. Our trip to Portland was my idea and was truly really fun! We got to walk around and just spend time with each other. We got to get drunk on the Shipyard Tasting Tour and ate Duck Fat together. Good times.

JOY #32: The Season 4 Finale of Parenthood! :-)

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JOY #33: Getting a new MacBook Pro Battery…finally!

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Well, it was about time! Plus, I am a Notetaker for class so I have to take notes in class and type them. So, it made sense. It was an investment, but a much-needed one. Since then, I also got my hard drive upgraded and RAM upgrade. More money, but my computer runs SO much faster.

JOY #34: Roxy gets accepted at Harvard (HGSE)

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This moment made me happy. I knew Roxy really wanted to get into Harvard and she did. I played some role in that reading her essays and giving her advice. It’s one of those moments when someone’s happiness becomes your own. When I first met Roxy (actually the second time because we met each other briefly in college) during City Year, I knew we were going to be on the same team and get to work together and eventually become friends. I know I have challenged her to grow and not just enter a situation where things are just spoon fed to you and be okay with that. Rather, I asked her to challenge what’s given and to make things better (and not to accept mediocrity). I know she probably despised me as her Team Leader a couple times during that year in City Year, but I did it with a purpose. And now, here she is, Ms. Harvard Graduate student. Roxy deserves every one bit of greatness coming her way because, she’s pretty amazing and I’m glad to be associated with her.

SO, that’s my entire year’s worth of joys. Obviously somethings have been left out because I forgot to write it on a piece of paper, but I think this really captured some of those in the moment kind of joys. I’m going to continue this into 2014. Want to join in? Do it! Let me know if you do! Peace, love, and joy to all as we close up 2013 and welcome in 2014!

Wherever you’re journey leads you, find the joy in your life (big and small)! Here’s to a new year coming soon with new joys and new adventures ahead!

On Watching Movies

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I’ve been watching a lot of movies lately in theaters (at home doesn’t count). There’s something about it. It’s such a weird thing to do. Everyone files into a large building with rooms with auditorium seating and huge silver screens. The lights then go out and you’re essentially sitting in the dark for hours at a time with complete strangers. Strange things we do as humans. Nothing else on this planet does that!

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make has to do with going to watch movies in movie theaters. Most people won’t ever go watch a movie alone. Going to the movies can be categorized as a social activity, but you’re really NOT supposed to socialize. Doing anything besides watching the movie is not good movie etiquette.

I went to watch the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug in IMAX at the local AMC here in Boston. They just came out with new movie theater safety information and “no phones or texting” PSAs. It’s funny, no matter how many types of PSAs are released that emphasize just watching the movie, most people would never go watch a movie if they had to do it alone.

In the past year, I’ve been trying to break through this fear. For some reason, it has been a huge fear to go watch a movie in a movie theater alone. But, I’ve been better at it and it has been a good way to escape people and their little excuses for not being able to watch a movie with me (along with my pet peeve of incessant excuses about anything and people being late to movies). I do it on my time. I also only watch the movies I want to watch.

So, instead of defining movie watching as a social activity, it really should be an activity that enables complete solitude. There should be no interaction and discussion during a movie. There should be no interruptions. There really shouldn’t even be a reason to invite anyone if you don’t need to. I wouldn’t even say it’s a good date location (because if I wanted to sit in a dark room and hold your hand and make out with you or do anything else, I would find a way to do that and wouldn’t do it at the movies)!

So people, please go to the movies–and go because you want to watch the movie. It is not a social event, unless you call sitting in the dark watching something on a screen in total silence social. Even when I go with friends, you best not talk to me because I will not respond to you (even during previews)! Come to think about it now, I should write a rant/list of movie rules/etiquette for those who think it is a social event.

Side note: Watch American Hustle & the Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug (both worth it)! I’ll have to do a re-cap of the year’s best movies! Also, read my last post about movies.

6 Movie Reviews (and Why You Should Watch, Her)

I don’t usually write movie reviews on my blog, but I think the movie Her deserves an entire blog post. I will however, give some love to the other 5 movies I’ve watched in the past week or so (all free screenings). I watched Saving Mr. Banks, the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walking With Dinosaurs, Grudge Match, Inside Llewyn Davis, and Her. I’ll rank them from least favorite to most favorite (I’ll try to not spoil anything, but I’ll write SPOILER ALERT if there are any pertinent plot lines that I need to discuss). Here goes my list starting with #6:

6. Walking With Dinosaurs

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There wasn’t anything special or new from this movie. The movie was educational and geared towards kids, but I still think a kids movie should really still be good. There were some hidden adult jokes, which were funny, but they didn’t save the movie from the lack of a great plot line. Why did this movie need to be in 3D? I think the movie tried too hard to be funny at some points. It was fun to watch, but only that. Thank goodness I didn’t pay to watch this in theaters (I probably wouldn’t have, anyway). So, definitely skip this!

5. Grudge Match

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It was kind of fun to see Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone on-screen together being ridiculous, because that’s what this movie was. Ridiculous. I don’t know who decided this was a good idea, but the movie got made. I think it brought in some good laughs, but it tried too hard to be funny. At some points, the jokes were a little insulting/offensive. I say this because Kevin Hart is in this movie. They used some racial jokes that were really forced and seemed awkward to me. I don’t think there should be racial jokes, but I don’t control movies, so if they include them, I’d expect they’d try to be funny. It failed. The movie was a lot of corny/cheesy towards the end, but I guess that’s the point of the movie. Oh well. Worth a rent, but not worth paying money at the theater. Not enough bang for your buck. Next!

4. Inside Lleywn Davis

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I really wanted to like this movie more. For a Coen Brothers movie, I wanted more. I can get why this movie is rated well by critics. It shows a very sad, melancholy filled world that one single musician goes through in the folk music scene of Greenwich Village in NYC. The movie is shot very well, the music and singing is well done, and the cast was well-chosen and delivered for what the script asked for. What I didn’t like was that the story felt fragmented. Such is life, but I think there could have been more of a flow. I guess that’s what they went for? The movie dragged on a little too long for my taste. Many people will disagree with me on my review, but I guess that’s just me. It was not my favorite Coen Bros. movie, but I think it was a welcome change from the typical predictable movie. I guess, it does really go against the grain when it comes to storyline/plot, so I guess it succeeds. I forgot to mention that some parts are funny and not so depressing!

I think it’s worth a watch in the movie, but I wouldn’t cry over not being able to see it in theaters.

3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

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I really connected to the plot and characters in this movie. Walter Mitty is trying to find love and trying to connect to someone. He doesn’t have that. Lesson from this movie, go out there. Adventure is out there. Use life to experience things. See what I did there?

Walter Mitty works at Life magazine, which is reorganizing because it’s going online/digital. He needs to find a missing slide and ends up going on an adventure that leads him to beautiful Iceland.

SPOILER ALERT (skip to the last paragraph)

He ends up finding out he has the slide all along. The slide is of him. In the process,  he gets featured on the very last cover of Life magazine. He has gained adventure in his life and lives true too what Life magazine is all about, the people. All in all, the movie was shot really well. The movie hits a couple rough spots because it is very choppy in some points, but overall, I think Ben Stiller does a great job and being pretty serious in this movie.

The scenes in Iceland make this movie what it is visually. Beautiful! I think I kind of just let go while watching this and let myself go with it without thinking about reality (the real point of most movies). I escaped my life for a few seconds, but upon returned, starting thinking about how I kind of want that sense of adventure to see what’s out there, too! All in all, it’s a movie worth watching in theaters!

2. Saving Mr. Banks

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I wrote a review and will stick to what I said before. This movie is equal parts heart warming as it is heart wrenching. The movie was cast really well. It was very believable. It’s that Disney magic. But, I do have to say that there was a little bit too much Disney magic at some points. But, I’ll excuse all of that for what the movie ended up with.

I enjoyed seeing a little behind the scenes look at how Mary Poppins came to be a Disney movie. The movie really packed in an emotional roller coaster! There were some funny moments and some really sad moments! There are also some unbelievable moments that make me wonder how much of this is true and how much is once again this Disney magic making me emotional. So, there.

But, I think it’s all worth a watch and it was #2 of the 6 movies I watched, so you should go watch this.

Side note: My friend Alec is still living in CA and got to attend the screening at Disneyland, so I was super jealous and he kept tweeting and texting me. And I got super jealous (okay, I still watched it before him, so I hate him less, and hope he doesn’t read this). He got to take pictures with scenery and sets and ate yummy themed deserts and what not.  So, I still hate him for that. But, he’s moving to Boston so WE BOTH DON’T GET DISNEYLAND! Muahaha. Side not to people, I don’t actually hate him. That much.

1. Her

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I think this was my favorite movie of this year! This movie is both funny, sad, and scary. There are some real laugh inducing moments in this movie. At its greatest points, the movie filled me with a sense of sadness. This is where things started to scare me.

I think I (and many people) have real relationships with phones/electronics. When I’m sitting alone or at home in bed, I “play” with my phone. My phone knows more about me than most people know about me. I don’t always talk to Siri, but I definitely use my Apple iPhone 5 as an extension of me (in which I connect to people using social media and the internet).

This movie is a love story. That’s obvious. It’s emotions, relations, and the need to connect. Joaquin Phoenix does a great job at showing the highs and lows of emotional connection (to humans and inanimate beings). Although this movie shows connection to electronics as an extreme, I don’t think it’s far from reality. You can sit on public transit and see everyone looking downward and fumbling with their phones. The entire cast, and the voice of Scarlett Johansson, brings this movie to life.

The script was great, the cast was great, and the entire “look” of the movie was just great. I really couldn’t tell where the movie would end up, but I think I was satisfied! I think the movie left me thinking about my own life, the people I connect with, and the means that we all keep connections afloat/alive. Overall, this is a definite must watch and I look forward to re-watching this!

I won’t reveal anything else in this movie because I truly believe you should go to the theater and watch this! I haven’t been affected or moved by a movie in a while. This was the movie that I think relates to a lot of people. For me, it just hit me how much I’m on my phone, how social network connected I am, and why sometimes, I feel a need and constant want to connect with people to the point that I feel sad for not being able to be around people. Then I realize, I just need to disconnect and do things on my own for a change and live in the now and reality of what is.

Even with this review, I’m not sure if I have quite formulated all my thoughts on this movie. But, I think you should definitely go out and watch it. It’s in limited release now and everywhere January 10th. So, do find a way to watch this! If you own a smart phone or an Apple product or any personal assistant, watch this movie. If you have emotions and love anything or anyone. Watch this movie.

A Reflection on the Journey to Joy

To properly understand the inspiration behind this blog post, which has been in my head but not written down, you will need to listen to Beyoncé on “Pretty Hurts” where she’s first asked, “What’s your aspiration in life?” in which she responds, “Oh, my aspiration in life would be to be happy.” So, find that song and listen to it a couple of times. Good? Done. Okay, now read.

I started my personal blog a long, long time ago. I don’t know what I was really writing about or why I kept coming back. Then, I realized I was writing about my life. I think I’m a pretty open book. Sometimes, I forget that I publish my thoughts and experiences in a public way. Along the way, I have been able to connect with people around the world through what I post here. When I look up my web traffic, I’m excited to see my blog is clicked on when searching for things relating to City Year, student affairs, and volunteering. There are some weird Google Searches that my blog also comes up on, but that’s cool, too!

What I really hoped to write about is my journey to finding the things(s) and people who bring me joy and happiness to my life.

So, why did this song Beyoncé released by surprise last week resonate with me so much? Well, it’s about all the things we do to win, to feel good, and to feel pretty. The message is two-fold. Putting aside the message the songs discusses of physical expectations we place on ourselves and each other in society, this songs brings about another meaning to me.

Pretty hurts, shine the light on whatever’s worse. Trying to fix something but you can’t fix what you can’t see. It’s the soul that needs the surgery.

I think those lines are something I think about a lot. When I started writing this blog, I was writing about all the amazing things happening in my life. I was being hopeful, optimistic, and idealistic. Right now, I don’t always feel that way. So, I ask myself why I don’t feel so hopeful, optimistic, and idealistic.

The words and the video talk about a pageant. Sometimes, I feel like life is a pageant that I’m always competing in. It sometimes feels like I’m competing with everyone in the world, family, friends, colleagues, and especially myself. Do I do all these things and write about it to keep proving to someone or myself that I’m good enough?

As I reflect on all the things I’ve written about so far that has made me “happy” on this journey through life, why do I not focus on those things inside that make me feel so unhappy? I have noticed that when I tweet, Facebook, text, or talk about how I feel, I’m constantly told you’ll be okay, you have done so much, you have nothing to prove, you’re beautiful, you’ll feel better, and you’ll find someone one day.

Doing all these outward selfless, helpful, and awesome things are a lot of times just outward projections and hide all the things and feelings inside. As Beyoncé states, pretty hurts. Those outward actions are not a reflection of how I always feel inside. Giving a part of myself outward leaves me often feeling alone, drained, and often times, empty inside. I’ve had this complete feeling a couple of times in the last 3 or so years of me being in Boston and I’ve recently been trying to figure out how I can resolve this.

The things I do that everyone sees is often the “pretty” that Beyoncé sings about. It hurts, even though it doesn’t show. I try to use these outward happy moments to fix what’s going on inside, but its like Bandaids that don’t do anything. Ultimately, the feelings inside don’t just heal or go away as easily just because I or anyone says it will. At some point, giving to others has it’s limits.

Is it a change of perspective that will make me feel equal inside and out? What’s this surgery of my soul Beyoncé speaks of? Can I have it? I think though, writing out and thinking about it will help me come to some resolve. I guess this journey has altered a little. It’s about feeling congruent. How do I make my inner feelings congruent with my outward appearance. As I enter my final semester of  graduate school, will I be able to feel more congruent?

So, I don’t mean this to be a tell all or attention calling blog post. But, maybe it is. I strive to be 100% real and congruent in all aspects of my life, so I will continue to be real on my blog and I will aim to blog about real things, not just those surface level happy moments or things I think will make me look and feel good. I think that’s the direction I want to take this blog and make posts more meaningful. My hopes are that I can continue to reach someone who might feel the same way as I do with all my other content.

On a final note, thanks Beyoncé for helping me think about how I feel and putting into a song how I have been feeling over the last 3.5 years.