chill, let your tornado out

Stop making your bed. Do you have layers on your bed? From the protection sheets to the three fleece blanks under your sherpa blanket and comforter? Top that with at least four pillows and making your sleep time home perfect every morning will take at least seven minutes.
Seven minutes every morning equals forty-nine minutes a week – approximately 196 minutes a month! You could watch two movies in that time period if you didn’t make your bed routinely.
Following regiment teaches discipline translating to awesome work ethic, but it prolongs the adjustment period for new alterations.
I have always loved making my bed. It feels like a big accomplishment every morning tucking in all the sheets precisely, nestling my fourteen stuffed animals in between my five pillows, and making sure my comforter does not hang too close to the ground. Days I do not want to get out of bed, checking this task off my list makes me feel capable.
Accustomed to the precision of my arrangement, I was intolerant of not having the same control out of the house. Making my bed had set a foundation of simple methods to make it appear I had it altogether. Rushing around work, when people got in my way I was brisk in apologies too intent on my purpose. Hanging out with friends had to be in the form of an activity because I grew listless amid gossip and personal conversation. I’d narrowed myself into a robot.
A messy room is really a work of art. I actually see it as a big secret: I know exactly where my keys are – in my coat pocket that’s strewn on the top mattress of my childhood bunk bed – and which of the socks by the door are clean. But no one else does.
It’s like not shaving for a week – you learn to love yourself just the way you are, be more relaxed in your own setting. That’s what it should be like at home because only then can your confidence shine for the rest of the world.
I still make my bed, on the occasional weekend after I have washed my sheets. Mostly I use my extra seven minutes in the morning to set a new tone for my day whether it be dancing to the soundtrack of Trolls or donning on my silver eye shadow (make up is hard).
Tweak the little habits in your life and you can grow your personality to be more accommodating to change. After all, that is the only constant in life.


reality of fiction

Rich told me he had writer’s block so I told him to look at his work from another perspective. While he attempts to do so, indulging in Donkey Kong videos at twenty minute intervals, I contemplate about how easy it was to give advice but hard to implement.

My best friend gave me 642 Things to Write About book over a year and a half ago for moments like this, when I wanted my writing to go beyond storing a collection of memories. Excited, I tried my hand at it, but some prompts made me uncomfortable. Rationally I didn’t want to face situations that have happened to me and some I didn’t wan to imagine. Only now can I admit it is because I am very sheltered.

From the very beginning I have watched and read those with guaranteed happy endings. Maybe it began when I was in the womb; I was affected by all the couples’ happy ever afters in Bollywood films that my parents watched.
There is a childhood story passed around tables: my favorite movie at two had a character with my name in it, but in the movie the character falls down the stairs and dies. I picked up after watching it once, and after that I would wail when the stairs scene appeared. I refused to watch past that moment.
I still haven’t watched Titanic. I will not read Marley & Me. I wikipedia to know synopses of shows, movies and books because I refuse to invest my time in something that cannot strengthen my faith whatever the course of my journey I will be okay.
I cloistered myself I suppose; I was very spiteful of literature in high school, Shakespeare and A Great Gatsby and A Brave New World. Instead of learning about desires and consequences, I preferred a positive hero’s journey like The Misfits. No one dies. Hard work and embracing individuality wins. My heart felt warm and fuzzy at the end, full of hope.
That’s a feeling I continue to seek, a buildup of fireworks in my heart that peters out like molten lava. Not all actions have that outcome though and facing the consequences of being an impulsive free spirit caused me to ignore dissonant thoughts. One too many times, I stubbornly clung to a guy who didn’t want to be with me because I could not admit to myself there can not always be a happy ever after.

Maybe if I had invested myself more in the classics would I have been better prepared. Fiction is an adventurous genre, but the beauty lies in its possibilities. Talking animals? Technically they do, we just don’t understand them. Time machines? It’s going to happen. But these extremities aside, there is truth in luck and misfortune and curveballs and unexpected consequences.

Old habits are hard to give up, and I do still invest more time in TV shows that I know will give me a happy ending even if it means I will be watching it for a fifth time (is memorizing the lines of Charmed bad? I’m a nineties kid!), but I don’t want to be a sheltered writer.
The best storyteller ad libs what she already knows best, experiences that are raw from facing both pleasure and discontent. How could she ever have writer’s block?
With this new mentality, I dispel any block.


tiny steps for hyperactivity

If by chance you’re like me, the recommended three minutes to brush your teeth feels like an eternity. Not to clean your teeth, but as your hand is busy holding the scrubbing bush, what can you do? Stare in the mirror? I know I’m beautiful and I certainly don’t want to be Narcissus about it.

Here are some things you can do while making your teeth whiter and dependent on one hand:

– Take inventory of what’s in your bathroom. Make a mental note of what you’ll need the next time you’re in the beauty aisle at Walmart.

– Pick out clothes for the day. This will save you the time you put in for searching for the right outfit after brushing your teeth.

– Look inside your refrigerator. Brew coffee. Albeit this one is easier if you’re living on the same floor as the kitchen or in an apartment, but same concept as outfit picking: time saved beginning the process of making a meal.

– Tidy up your room. Pick up dirty laundry, stack up those library books, fluff up your pillows.

– Old fashioned toilet usage.

– Lists. There is so much you want to do, but you forget ideas. Write them down so the ink stares back at you later.

– Following this logic, you can write post-it love notes for yourself and your roommates! It’s so nice to read them after a long day at work or when you have a bedhead.

– We rely on technology too much as it is, but utilize your phone as a learning tool! Learn the word of the day via, practice a new language, or read about world events.

– Better yet, turn that music up and get a little dance session going on. This will definitely wake you up and you’ll get a mini cardio workout!

Three minutes of brushing your teeth isn’t a long time at all, but if you happen to need every minute purpose filled like me these small steps will do the trick.

life of giving

Thanksgiving may be over, but giving gratitude shout outs don’t have to end. Today, tomorrow, next month, do it March when tax returns are due, make a list of what you are grateful for or write a letter to someone telling why you are thankful to them. Frequenting this can lead to better health, but doing nice things goes even further.

Random acts of kindness make you feel like you have the potential to positively affect others. That power is soul replenishing decreasing stress levels which in return outputs charisma.

Emotion-action sequences are like a chemical reaction: what you put in is what you get, the outcome a combined effect of all the energy put in. It has to be a genuine choice.
In college, when I was trying to shed my loner image and embrace being an awesome friend, I went all out to appease people – as far as buying them things and doing assignments. I was so happy to have people acknowledge me that I thought it made us automatic friends and I went all out to show them how much they meant to me. Their reciprocation was not equal thus rendering my gratitude insincere.

The beauty of kindness begins with the awareness of circumstances around you. Being able to donate for relief funds, ending animal cruelty, and third world medical surgeries is an awesome choice. But doing nice things can be small things too.

Passing by, someone’s book falls out of their bag. Pick it up, return it. If someone’s a dollar short, pay it forward. The neighbor is juggling groceries and her kids, pitch in. See someone running for the bus, speak up to the driver.
Appreciate moments of weakness because without those there wouldn’t be moments of strength.

The best gift are true smiles shared. When random acts of kindness begin to add up, you earn a repertoire of trust for others to come to you for bigger needs. Sometimes you will be able to help, other times not. But what everyone looks for is someone to listen to them, a supporting and listening ear. Gracious is a perception, helpful is an action, empathy – that’s a character virtue. Be empathetic.

this is a rest stop

Everyone has the power to influence, but what if you were getting influenced along the way?

I created my first Facebook profile when I was in 8th grade. At the time it was a cool thing to do and a way to talk to a crush; it was addicting writing posts and deciding what pictures to put up. Collecting number of friends by a click was addicting; it portrayed popularity – falsely.
I realized in time I had begun to post things that would garner me likes or comments – any attention at all. I was acting like what I thought people wanted and eventually I stopped.

When I was in high school, when I was constantly hidden away in my journals, I was content. I’ve always dreamed of publishing, but I realized it was too big of a jump for a girl who’s closed off to sharing with people around her for years. It’s why I started blogging – to find a balance in opening up while remaining true to myself.

The first likes I got on my posts were the best feeling ever. Knowing someone out there was reading, their heart warmed or inspired, I was proud of my writing. As time went on, I started keeping track of what people liked and didn’t. Lot of idea flash, but I began to cater to what could be appreciated the most.

Except this page is for those who are lost. It doesn’t matter what age you are; there will always be a challenge that you must overcome and you need hope or consolation. I write so I too can remind myself that I am not alone. All I want is for any of my pieces to serve as a spark plug in reigniting positive self-belief.

Followers are nice because it makes me think we are in it together in this journey of self-fulfillment. But this page is meant to be a rest stop for people to stop by and read as they please, find what they’re looking for when they need.

Nowadays a writer’s dream is to be famous, to have a book series and a movie franchise. Some days I wish that; it would be an exhilarating life. But I find beauty in what is not expected. To write without any obligations is the best gift I have. So I turn off my notifications from WordPress to uphold honesty in my words. I believe it is only in honesty you can selflessly inspire.

My favorite quote is by Emily Dickinson, “If I can keep one heart from breaking, I will not die in vain.” Journaling helped my heart gain grit and learn I am capable of overcoming all obstacles. Now all I want is to spread that. From my quiet corner of the world, I embrace being an artistic recluse in hope this rest stop serves readers well.


cycling my way through moods

This week I’m teaching patterns. Triangle, circle, triangle, circle. ABAB. The more you stare at a pattern, you start to see it everywhere. I see it in my list of planned out meals for the week – every Monday: bagel, chicken and rice, clam chowder soup. There are four more of those. Repetitiveness begins to feel like chains too tight. Clear solution is to break free.

But what if those are your moods? It’s a trickier situation.
Friday I had off. The teachers I work with had a fun filled weekend. One went to Disney World, another went to DC, another had a bachelorette party and wedding to attend to.
Nothing planned, I did work; lesson plans and prepping.
I can’t sit still. And I always have to be doing two things at once. When I write I listen to silence or music. When I work, I like the background sound of a tv show like people chatter that makes me feel alone. If I am to enjoy a tv show, I eat or twirl a pen or comb my fingers through Rich’s hair. Sometimes I’ll even begin to make lists of all I have to do.
I have to keep going.
When people are quiet, I ask them what’s on their mind. “Nothing,” they say. I don’t believe it. Because I feel like my brain never shuts down. Planning, dreaming, observing, analyzing – even holding conversations. It’s not quiet –
Until listlessness catches up. I’m drained and I stare at my ceiling as if I have no purpose.
I can lay for hours. Fall asleep. Then I must get back to having my fingers move.

Emotions aren’t a math equation, but equilibrium has to be reached for optimal health.
I’m learning there isn’t just one correct answer for it. For me, the key is not zoning out.
Sometimes at work, I’ll get fixated on grading homework or reorganizing independent activity bins and lose a teaching moment. When I’m driving and Rich is explaining a video game concept or a story line, I’ll turn to him in excitement and get too close to a car in front of me jamming my brakes just in time. And of course when Rich chides my driving, I fall into a crestfallen vortex of self-pity.

I face the same looping track every day. It takes conscious effort to choose my priority at the moment and to give myself breaks. When I start something, I have a need to finish it. So timers help. People interruptions are welcomed. Distractions are given into.

Sometimes change isn’t leaving the past self behind. It’s about forging new paths knowing your shortcomings and knowing you will not let them hold you back.

what do you do when a distant cousin contacts you?

My family and I are a simple power of three. We have family around the world and sometimes we travel to see them. Mostly it’s just us.

My parents are old school; they contact their relatives by phone or WhatsApp. For them it makes sense to be in touch; they’ve grown up with them before they moved here. But I’ve never met so many of them. Shy, self-conscious and uncomfortable, I make sure I’m not around when the calls are made. I have to answer the same questions: what grade are you in? I graduated! When are you coming to visit? Um…*awkward laugh, look at my mom for help*

With the access of Facebook searches, I’ve had cousins add me. I cross check with my parents to make sure they’re really my cousins before I accept their request. It’s how I see posts from my cousins from different countries. Yet, I can’t find my voice to establish a direct communication line with them. Just as a genealogy paper, we just appear to be family on the web.

But how can blood lines make up family? My parents and I are the nuclear family. They are a constant in my life. I have friends who are more constant in my life than my cousins. Blood does not negate family; they have to earn that title.

And that’s not easy. My parents are loners too. They are mistrustful of people’s intentions regardless of relation. Having seen their fair share of their parents’ gullible mistakes, when they do host dinners, they make sure the night is filled with cards, board games, movies and lots of food to keep everyone occupied from asking for handouts or weeping their woes to get my parents’ sympathy. Having witnessed this growing up, it takes me a long time to open up to people. I didn’t fully open up to my best friend Chit for two years! And I already called her my best friend.

Now as a pending message awaits in my Facebook inbox from a cousin, I contemplate how to address, “how you doing?” I predict the conversation to be short without details. But if I don’t give us a chance to warm up to each other, I won’t be giving her a chance to earn being family. Here’s to trying.