A Book Left Behind

I typically get to campus an hour before class starts. When I’m feeling responsible, I’ll start an assignment early or get a healthy(ish) dinner. Sometimes I grab a coffee to ensure full attention, or as much as possible, during a 3-hour class that I’m attending after a full day of work. 40 miles away from home.

But this week has been insane so I’ve been taking small, but important, steps to prioritize my self-care. The other day, a student left a book in my College & Career Center. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. It looked like a class copy and I had no idea who left it so the safest bet was to return it to the school library. Before doing so, I read the first couple of pages—easy to breeze through considering it is a Young Adult novel. The intro intrigued me, so I asked the library staff if they had a copy available for me to borrow. Sure enough, I left work with a taped-up, numbered copy in the fashion of a library on a public school budget wanting to preserve their precious wares.

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When I arrived at school last night, I gave myself permission to sit down and read for leisure. 23 pages into the book, I’ve already teared up twice, contemplated my blessings, and confronted my privileges. In the first-persion narrative, Junior descends into vivid details about life on an Indian reservation—poverty, hunger, alcoholism, child neglect/abuse, inaccessible healthcare, racist stereotypes, and the cycles that bind generation after generation to this life. All this among teenage angst, living with disabilities, the value of friendship, and quirky cartoons. After spiraling into such heavy issues within minutes, I reconsider my choice to read this YA book as a means of winding down. But at the same time, I am glad that a book with this type of content exists for young readers and proud that it’s being read as a class. I hope these students can find the same type of escape, perspective, and reality check that I encounter when I read.

A classmate walked up to my table and noticed the book, telling me she read it in high school. [Now I’m wondering if the book is older than I thought, if I am older than I thought, or if she is younger than I thought.] She tells me she enjoyed it and starts gushing about it. [And now I’m wondering if she has a really good memory or high school really wasn’t that long ago…] This increases my excitement for the book as some chance of fate brought us to the same grad program and classes so we must share some of our interests and taste in books. I could probably finish this book in one sitting, given that I find a chunk of time to do just that. But alas, work and school take up much of my day. Who’s to say I’ll even enjoy the way it pans out… but one thing is for sure–my short encounter with this lost-and-found item has given me such great pause to appreciate life’s seemingly small details.

 

Spinning Plates

Lately, I’ve been spinning a lot of plates, looking high and low for those elusive answers to mental health and spirituality.

I was raised Catholic and quite involved with church during high school. As is the trend for this religion, I fell off at age 18 when I started college. [Supposedly, I’m going to return around the age of 35 because I will need a structured way to teach my kids some morals and will be too lazy to formulate a new system.] Continue reading

#GradSchoolGrind

Earlier this week, I entered another year of life on this beautiful earth. 2017 has been good to me so far.  I am focused on building better habits, taking steps towards my goals, banking memories with so many amazing people, and finding joy in the everyday. I’ve been acclimating and making moves in a new job that I absolutely love. In the 5 months since I started my position, I’ve attended multiple conferences revolving around high school/college success and the endless amount of related issues. Continue reading

Where has she been…? And who am I?

I’m in the business of seeing. At least I want to be.

Since senior year of college, I’ve been involved in the art world. As much as I’ve allowed myself to be. As much as the art world has allowed me to be. Creativity, expression, and art have always held an interesting place in my life. They have been my guiding lights, the tenets by which I live. Yet I have taken little action to assert myself in these ways. Without an artistic background or formal training, I have stood on the sidelines appreciating and wishing. It’s not that I am afraid of failure–it’s that sometimes it’s easier not to try. Sure, that’s not as gratifying. And there are always excuses to be made. But the point is I am now “doing me” as best as possible. As I’m rounding out my 25th year, I’m finding that not trying is getting harder than just doing the damn thing. This pent up energy must be put to good use. I still don’t have a clear picture of what this “thing” is, but I’m finally ready to start creating it. There is too much inspiration around me not to.

Consider this blog… why has it been 7 months since I have last written? It’s certainly not a lack of material. It might be hesitation to put myself out there, though people who know me would not believe that. Do I have better things to do? Have I been doing better things? Yes and no.

When I am getting to know somebody, I love to ask, “What you be doing if money, education, and time were not an issue?” Dream jobs can say a lot about person. Alternatively, I enjoy finding out what someone would do if they had one hour of free time. What would you most like to do in the world with 60 spare minutes? My default answer is writing. Specifically for this blog. But somehow, I’ve let seven months get away.

I do know one thing. I have been looking and seeing. And I’ve been inspired. I’ve been reading, watching, and listening. And I’ve been inspired. Feast your eyes on some of the beauty and creativity below.

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Rest area at The Ebell of Long Beach, CA

Diaper babies I made for a baby shower

Diaper babies I made for a baby shower

Restroom sign at The Ebell of Long Beach

Restroom sign

My Halloween nail adornments

My Halloween nail adornments

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Part of a Madmade Designs baby shower set-up at Booze Brothers in Vista, CA

Earlier this year, I made a decision to stay stagnant in my full-time position. It afforded me so much freedom, time for leisure, low stress. I convinced myself early on that I would have time to work on my other projects, which was true. Needless to say, I haven’t made much progress in those either. But I’ve reached a tipping point. I’m ready to do me. Really do me, even if that means doing extra work. Procrastination will no longer plague me. 2016 is not far off and there is plenty to accomplish. I’ve spoken some goals into existence, but here they are for good measure:

  • Find a meaningful full-time position
  • Lead a healthier lifestyle (physically and mentally)
  • Get my small business up and running (and profitable!)
  • Start (and hopefully finish) the digital photography certificate program I enrolled in
  • Buy a house
  • Travel to Europe

XOXO

Roll Out

//coming to you from a layover in ATL

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I just flew out of EWN (New Bern, North Carolina) for possibly the last time ever. There is nothing for me there… no job worth my while, not much to do, rarely anyone who shares my ideologies or values my experiences. Save for the fact that my husband has lived there for almost three and a half years. I’ve flown there countless times to spend a handful of days with him, often bored out of my mind while he was at work.

But we did the damn thing! Been together almost six years and married for over two, we have never even lived in the same city. Call us “crazy,” but we are in love. We’ve long awaited the time for us to actually live with each other and build a life together under the same roof. Well… it’s finally here! Ez has been assigned to Camp Pendleton and will be making his way back to sunny SoCal come next weekend. For the third time, we will be driving cross-country together.

This is not to say everything will be fine and dandy once he gets here. We’ve got to find somewhere to live, fulfill holiday obligations, figure out finances, and so much more. Who knows, I might want to strangle him once we actually live together. Despite the uncertainties, I know that these are exciting times. I could not be more excited to grow together and challenge each other in this next chapter.

Onto the next one!

DIY Bloggers Confound Me

Although this site has been up for a while, I’m just now finding the the blogging world is massive, with its culture and community still strange to me. I am discovering exactly the kind of camaraderie that can be found online, in our ever-connected world. It’s easy to get lost in the endless content that is produced. On the other hand,  it’s fascinating to experience the lives of others as they documents their struggles, passions, and everything in between.

Compared to my friends, I have a lot of free time. Now that I’m not planning my wedding, I’m exploring some of my other interests, such as crafting. There are so many DIY blogs out there! Currently, my Instagram feed is filled with Christmas decor inspiration from living rooms to ornaments, and even creative gift-wrapping and Christmas card envelopes. Really? At first sight, I get super excited. I do a quick check to see if any of these projects are feasible and affordable for me to complete. Then I start thinking about how all these bloggers have the time and money to do this full-time, essentially. Most of the accounts I’ve come across are women who are self-proclaimed crafting moms, sharing their creative life with others. They have tens of thousands of followers and certainly benefit from each other by sharing each others’ work or participating in group posts with a central theme. Just today, I saw a Target gift card giveaway that required you to follow 13 DIY Instagrams to enter. Easy enough for me! Part of why I’m following so many bloggers.

I’m realizing that the DIY/crafting world is quite a privileged one. I use to think making projects yourself was a way to save money–buy cheap materials, take pride in your work. Maybe even make cash off your creativity and patience. But seeing all these bloggers… I wonder how it was before they had thousands of follows. Did they just have a bunch of time to work on endless crafts, decor, and styling? And while raising children! I’m not hating, by any means. I’m sure they have their own struggles and stories. But one thing I did notice was that none of the bloggers I’ve followed are people of color and I rarely see crafters who are men.

I recently came across a call for submissions for an upcoming virtual exhibition by the Center for Art and Thought, entitled “Racecraft.” From the call for submission:

Slow. Sustainable. DIY. Green. Local. Anti-mainstream. These are some of the keywords associated with the contemporary craft movement. Enabled by technology and new media, craft culture has been described as a combination of traditional artisanal craftsmanship, punk culture, and a DIY sensibility. It often positions itself as a response to the problems of globalization, hyper-consumerism, and environmental degradation. Crafting is now, in the words of the maker-activist Betsy Greer, “craftivism,” a politically active site of social change.

But has “green” become the new white?

Despite its activist and inclusive ethos, the contemporary craft movement has been dominated by a neoliberal model of middle-class whiteness. Localism and lifestyle choices have become valorized as the primary modes of social change. People of color are often invisible in the craft movement, except as victims of globalization and exploitative labor practices who need to be saved by first world crafters.

It’s awesome that they are bringing this perspective to light. Hopefully there will be a variety of works submitted.  I’m glad I’m more conscious about this and want to find steps to raise awareness or support people of color in this movement.

I love crafting and making things myself. It’s a great hobby and I feel proud making something with my own hands. I now recognize the privilege in this, although I never further considered the social implications. Silly me, wasting my degree!

Find the tutorial I used for these Scrabble Coasters here: http://simplydarrling.com/2014/03/diy-scrabble-tile-coasters/

Scrabble coasters for a housewarming gift. Click here for the tutorial I used: http://simplydarrling.com/2014/03/diy-scrabble-tile-coasters/

Monday Mindfulness

After reading Arianna Huffington’s Thrive, which defines a new way to view and achieve success, I was convinced that even a few minutes of mindfulness per day could make a huge difference in my life. I downloaded Mindfulness Daily, this sweet app to guide me through exercises and demystify this “being in the moment” thing. It helps that the breathing exercises have cool visuals of flickering lightbulbs, floating villages, and laughing babies. Sounds simple enough, but we are constantly plugged in and on the go.

Recently I started following the adventures of Backpacks & Blackboards. Her post, Little Moments: Mindfulness + Mornings, struck a chord with me, since I have been integrating mindfulness in my daily life. I absolutely love that she is living life on her terms, right down to enjoying every second of her mornings. The difference between life in the US and Taipei becomes apparent, even in her seemingly small morning ritual. I always wonder what it would have been like to pick up and move somewhere totally different. In retrospect, the “perfect” times to make a drastic move have passed… college, graduating from college, when I got married… and some days I wish I had taken the plunge.

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Building a mindful practice has helped me change my mindset and appreciate the adventure in everything I do. I have thoroughly enjoyed living in Los Angeles for over 6 years. Traveling is more than enough for me to experience the world in different ways. I don’t need to live in a completely different place to complete my bucket list. Mindfulness enables this type of clarity and enhanced perspective. On days that I don’t meditate, I feel frazzled. My brain is slow to make connections when I skip out on a few minutes of deep breathing and reflection. We are supposed to exercise to build our muscles and maintain our physical health. But we have to flex our mind muscles too!

Unlike B&B, I rush in the morning. It’s what I do. I sleep to the last possible second before I get ready to leave. I would also love to work on my bedtime, just like B&B. I just can’t seem to put the phone down when I crawl into bed. Hopefully in the coming weeks, I can work on these habits. [New Year’s Resolution, anyone?] I proved to myself that I can still develop positive habits and through mindfulness, hopefully I can break bad ones.

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