Give Thanks and Give Thought

The holiday season only comes around once a year, but something about it seems almost more special now that I’m off to college. With friends back in town, family to spend time with, and a familiar roof to be back under, it’s been a blessing to spend this week back at home. Not only did it remind me of what I had missed, but abreakfast-wfamlso of what an opportunity it is to go to college in the first place. This week I got to come home for Thanksgiving, and I must say, I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.

Days like Thanksgiving mean a lot of different things to different people, but in the end I think we all come down to the same main idea of appreciation for what we have. It’s the popping open sparkling cider and holding hands
around the table, family in town asking about school and grades and what your dating life is like, it’s the parents whispering quietly about you to your relatives, and best of all, it’s the time we get to spend with the people who love us. Maybe some people do not have the privilege of truly enjoying these holidays coming up, but as someone who can, it’s nice to reflect on what makes them important to me. For seventeen years, I came to enjoy Turkey day or the yearly arrival of Santa Claus with the warmth of people around me and music throughout the house. Even though this year is different, as my parents are new to this whole “empty nesters” thing, I can’t expect that the holidays will feel any less cheery than they usually do.

I have been gone for two and a half months, in which time I have studied a lot, made some new friends, not once skipped a class (yet), and proceeded to build a life for myself outside of Folsom. I kept wondering what it would be like to come back here and live out of a suitcase, or know that my stay would no longerfall-leaves-and-coffee be permanent. Permanent or not though, I am glad to be back. It’s weird to consider that when Nick and I left, people weren’t even cleaning up leaves off their still-dead lawns before the rain finally came around. Yet, pulling into our neighborhood on Saturday, what we saw was green grass, Christmas lights already up, and bare trees throughout town. As much as it reminded me of home, it also reminded me of something I think we often forget.

Time goes on, as do the people in it, even when you’re not around to notice.

From the likes of social media, I’ve gotten to watch those of the Class of 2017 embark on their senior year, applying for colleges, and attending their last Homecoming. Through text messages and video chats, I’ve been able to keep up with all of the friends and family I miss very dearly. After all this time, I can say I sort of know what’s been going on in their lives. That being said, nothing compares to actually seeing these people, getting hugs from them. I could probably use a couple of hours to catch up with everyone about the time we’ve all been apart. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and love during the holidays, I am simply thankful to have so many beautiful people in my life to miss.

By Sunday night, I will be back in San Luis Obispo, mentally preparing myself for a fast paced race against the clock— I will have two weeks before finals and then I will be back home again for another break. As great as the coming back home part sounds, the rest is a bit daunting, because that means that my first quarter of college is about to be over. My future (and my current GPA) rests in the hands of these next two weeks and how much review time I can fit into my schedule. Right before I left for break, I mbeauty in a nutshell.jpganaged to study about a total of 36 hours in four days… Maybe not the best strategy, but effective enough for me to get through our second round of midterms. I know that I’m about to be up against some challenging weeks, but I am going to make it through it with a lot of naps, several trips to the gym, lots of food, and a lot more time hitting the books. I know that I am probably not the only one gearing up for finals or a return to some hard working weeks, so all I can say is I wish you the best of luck.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Try a Little Carpe Diem

Over an incredibly busy week of midterms and holiday preparation here at Cal Poly, I kept thinking of the phrase “you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” In some cases, it could apply to studying or hard work, not realizing that it was easy until it got harder. In other cases, it can applydo-you-have-a-passport to people, or a comfort zone that we got used to being a part of until suddenly, we were no longer in it. With that phrase comes the idea that maybe we tend to be a little ignorant, or possibly naive, to what we have or how easy it can be to lose it. Sometimes though, I’m not so sure I agree with that phrase— what if we know what what we’ve got and we’re just holding on to the hope that it doesn’t have to change just yet?

During my senior year of high school, I remember people talking about how badly they wanted to get of our town and go see new places, experience new things. As a teenager, I could see where they were coming from— we were young and getting ready to graduate high school, college and wherever we’re at right now is the chance to go do all the things we will not have the chance to do later on. After the Class of 2016 split across the country and throughout the world in August/September, I already knew in my heart that Folsom was my home for 18 years for a reason… That place made
me who I am and as great as it is to get on to where we’re all headed next, it does take a moment to appreciate where we came from. Folsom was a beautiful place to grow up in and I met some of the most amazing people that I hope I never lose touch with. I knew exactly what I had before I left there ands I knew what I was about to spend the next two months missing.

I guess it’s lucky for me that I’ve got an entire week off for Thanksgiving. I will be homehome tomorrow.

I’m the kind of person who has a hard time letting go of the things that I care about, such as holiday traditions or the need to hug my mom at least five times before I actually go to bed. Coming here to San Luis Obispo meant that I had to learn to let things go pretty quickly, or get used to missing them instead. I am still far from adjusted to life here, but the new territory came with new traditions. From getting up in the morning after one of my roommates five alarms went off to walking past my room just to see what new things were written or drawn on the whiteboard we put up on the wall next to our door, I found new things to look forward to. Thinking back to the idea of not really knowing what we’ve got until it’s gone, I’m starting to think that maybe it’s not that we don’t know— that’s not it at all.

We know what we’ve got before it’s gone, it’s just that we get used to how things are and aren’t quite ready for it to be over once time runs out.

sand feetI guess that’s where carpe diem comes into play, or even the idea of only living once; we’ve got to make use of the moments that we have. “Nothing is ever guaranteed,” that’s what my dad used to always tell my brothers and I. I think that a lot of us get so caught up in the “what’
s next” or everything that we’re busy doing that we forget that this is when we’re supposed to be living
right now. Even though I know that I’m still going to be in school for the next few years, possibly more, I can’t be worrying too much about setting myself up for the future and forget to pay attention to where I currently am in my life.

Because if I were to consider this exact moment to be my “right now” I would remember that I’m getting ready to go home.

And I am incredibly excited.

I haven’t seen my best friends in over two months and even though I knew exactly what I was going to be missing once they left, I can’t wait to be back in the same town as all my favorite people for just a little while. I get to sleep in my own bed, in the room that my mom has turned into her office, and I get to be back in my hometown for just a little bit. Don’t get me wrong, Cal Poly is a beautiful place to me and I’m probably going to miss all the people I’ve come to appreciate here too.

But as Dorothy said, there’s no place like home. And I can’t wait to be back.

jump-far-aim-highSo here’s to a little carpe diem and making the most of where we’re at right now, as soon enough the present will become the past and we’ll run out of time before we remember to live. Maybe sometimes it isn’t easy to pay enough attention and truly appreciate what we’ve got before it’s gone, but there are so many things in this life that are worth that effort. As time goes on, we’re going to change and so will the people and the life surrounding us. Yet as that change keeps going and we keep on living, it helps to remember how we got there in the first place. To carpe diem and remember to live.

A Promise to Uphold

First of all, I did want to take a moment to thank all the veterans, especially my friends, for serving this country. Today was your day, I hope you know that we thank you for every single thing you do.

As someone who can always find the beauty in a sentence or just one small word, my writing means a lot to me and I take pride in sharing read-book-tableit with other people. Before I came here to Cal Poly, I committed myself to writing a blog post every week and sharing it with the people who care about what I have to say. It’s something I look forward to now; I’m usually kind of excited to write about my week or the little things I learn about myself and the world we live in. I guess the key word in that last sentence is usually.

Because this week, actually the past three weeks or so, I don’t know what to say.

Several of my previous posts came from something small that I decided last minute to write about, like hearing about my parents deciding to be healthier, or the fun and sometimes dangerous holiday of Halloween in college. Usually, I can find something to say and mean it, but this week, however, I am finding myself in a battle with the one and only writer’s block that I cannot seem to get past. I thought about writing something anyway, trying to force the words to flow from my fingers to the keys, but I don’t wanquiett to do that. I want what I say to be something I care about strongly enough that I don’t have to force it. I owe that much to you all.

I know it’s been a long week of unexpected plot twists in this reality we now hold, and one thing that I know I look forward to is writing these posts in a way that can offer some solace, some hope, or even just some understanding. Like I said though, I don’t quite have the words for that right now. So instead, I will say that in times like these when people are feeling isolated, let down, afraid, and uncertain, no matter what else might happen, it is important to stick with your people. I don’t mean your ethnicity, or your gender, or even your political party— I mean your people, the ones who are always there to hold you up. Because some things aren’t going to make sense and maybe there is really no way to change it. That doesn’t mean you have to endure it alone, that you are alone in this newfound reality. It’s what we all here for, to be united in this together.F3FH5XYZY0

I wish I had something more to say this week, a way to say all the things I know I could but cannot say
well enough in this moment. Instead I will share a quote from one of my favorite book series and hope it can be enough.

In the words of  Harry Potter’s Prisoner of Azkaban, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” Maybe we can all find not only happiness, but solace, in one another and remember that we are each other’s people, through and through, no matter what.

Sugar and Spice, Plus a Little Advice

When I started writing today, this one being my first blog post of November, that’s when it hit me. It’s already November. We have less than two months left in 2016, and if anyone knows where the time has gone, feel free to let me know in the comments. fall-novemberBecause I could have sworn, I was applying for college, trying to get to Masters, and reach my high school graduation just yesterday. Yet here we are, almost an entire year later, wondering where it all went.

Whether you’re in high school, college, a 9-5 job, or somewhere else in your life, it gets pretty easy to lose track of time and the moments. Sometimes we forget to stop and realize that this is it— this is life. A life that we are supposed to be living. I know that we are all busy and it’s hard to get everything done, but there will always be papers to write, tests to study for, and skills to refine while we go throughout our daily lives. That doesn’t mean that we need to be constantly working hard 24/7… We’re human, we need time to breathe too. Even though being alive can be defined as the simple act of consciously breathing in and out, that isn’t what it means to live. Living constitutes other people, the ups and downs, the uncertainty, and the ability to let go for a few moments to do something to make it all worthwhile. And sometimes, I think we forget that this is life— if we haven’t already, we need to start living it.

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of my senior friends stressing out about applying for college, their possibilities of getting in, and what it all means for their future. A year ago, I was in the exact same position, trying to fill out the applications and to get everything to sound just the right way— all I wanted was to be accepted. I think that’s all any of us wanted. Looking back on it as a college freshman, I can understand why my parents told me to railroad walkapply early if it was really something I wanted. If you know you want something and it is everything you are striving for, shouldn’t you put yourself in the best position for success? Like I said to the Class of 2017 in my graduation letter, “You’ve done all the hard work, the all nighters, the millions of notes, and study guides.” Once those applications are sent in and the paperwork is done, the future is no longer in your hands. Sometimes in life, we need to do everything we can until there is no longer anything left to do. And after that? After that we must settle in for the ride, relax a little bit, and trust that we will end up where we need to be.

This week marks my seventh week here at Cal Poly, I am about two thirds way through my first quarter, and there are three quarters per school year. That means that I should have a total of twelve quarters of school here and I am ultimately almost one twelfth of my way through undergrad. That’s 8%. Even though it may not seem like much, these past two months have passed so quickly that by the time I get to my own graduation, I’m not going to know how it happened so fast. I mean, how many times have we heard the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun”? I’ll be honest, I’m still working my way up to the fun, but if I’m already 8% through my undergraduate education, I should definitely get started on the that part too. Because just like everyone else, I have a tendency to forget that in the midst of the studying, the papers, don’t forget laundry, and maybe a little sleep here and there, I still need to make this a life that I can wake up to and appreciate every morning. I need to make sure that I am building a life that I want to live. That is what we all want isn’t it? To wake up every morning and look forward to what we do, or to have something that can keep us going through the rough patches and remind us that this is worth it. So pick up a coloring book, get outside and smell the roses, take a break to dance in the rain, or just go for a drive with some friends because all of these tpainthings are important to our health and wellbeing. It’s not all about the studying (25-35), the work, the papers, and the deadlines. It’s also about you.

I’ve been away from home for almost two months now and I always wondered what my parents would do without Nick and I there. Not to make it sound like we were all they had at home, they’ve got plenty of work to do without us making a mess of the house in the meantime, but I did wonder what they would do without our impromptu breakfast mornings or random Redbox runs together. Yet without us, it seems that my house has now become healthier and more active than when I was home, and I must say, I am quite proud of my parents for that. Because they are paying attention to something that a lot of people forget to take care of— themselves. In addition to making this life one that we want to live, we also need to make sure that we are capable of living it well. Yes, does mean being healthy. From the foods that we eat to the amount of sleep we get, all of it is important to being able to live our lives the way we want— the way we should be able to. As a college student, we don’t always have the best food options or the most time to exercise, but do we ever? There is always a reason not to do something, to procrastinate a little more, or to find another excuse for our shortcomings. Yet, if it’s something that is really important to us, like our health and wellbeing should be, than we need to make it a true priority get it done. Because these are our lives. They are only going to be as good as we make them.

We all lead busy lives, in the hope of getting to some point in the future where we want to be. Once we get to that point, we will create a new goal and keep on going with the cycle from there. Even though these goals are crucial to our lives and our motivation to keep going, I think it’s really important to remember that we also need to find solace in right now— to pause, take a breath, and hold it for a sunshine-and-city-lightsmoment. Everything we do and the paths we end up on have a lot to do with the choices that we make and oftentimes, the people we make them for. Right now, I am asking you to make a choice for yourself to live a healthy and balanced life that you want to be living. Because before you know it, 2016 will be over, then 2017 will be over… Soon enough these years will pass and we will find ourselves looking back at it all. My question to you is this: When this is all over and you’re looking back at it all, will you really be able to say that you lived?