October 2, 2012

ABC of Life – Harm No One

Harm no one? That’s easy I thought. Or is it really? I believe the path to not harming anyone is a path of compassion, open mindedness, and thought.

Growing up, my mother always taught me, “The road paved to hell is made of good intentions.” I believe that most people would never intentionally cause harm to another person. Of course, there are malicious and manipulative people out there who do not care, but I’m lucky to say that I know mostly compassionate individuals, who would not intentionally harm others. However, I have come across those who think that what benefits them will benefit others and they try to impose those beliefs, morals, and principals on others without realizing what harm it might cause that person. They often do this because they had that person’s best interest in mind, but failed to take into account other belief systems.

I think it is okay to have good intentions to help others, but we can’t always assume that what we think is good for someone else actually is. With 8 billion people in this world, can we really claim that there is one right way of living when there are so many different cultures and ways of being in this world? I believe, when we think we’re right, we’re acting out of fear of being wrong, especially when we impose that “rightness” on someone else. Basically, what I am trying to say is the only true way to harm no one is to be open and accepting to others, in that way we are being compassionate and less harmful. Take into consideration the media or social media and how it might affect those in our lives. I see many news stories or posts about people’s politics and their religious beliefs. I don’t want to grand stand here and say that doing so is either right or wrong, do what you want with your media and believe what you will, but I feel that sometimes, we don’t take into consideration how what we say can hurt another. Words can be just as powerful as fists. By being right we have to make someone else wrong. This judgement is hurtful. There should be no argument to that. People’s feelings, self-esteem, way of life are hurt by our words and our actions.

We also have to think about how our words and actions affect others to live a life without harming anyone. We can’t control how another might feel from our actions, but we can be conscious to how our actions do affect people. I don’t want to say that any of us our responsible for others reactions, we are not. But if we want to live a life of compassion, open mindedness and not being harmful, then being present to how our actions do affect others is important.

I really have taken this to heart recently and realize that there have been a few things that I have done this year that might have harmed others and others that don’t even know it. I’ll be honest, there was a certain amount of guilt associated with some of those actions which caused me some stress and worry. I have chosen to eliminate those actions from my life and live a life more conscious to others and even myself. In the end, I really am being kinder to others and even kinder to myself. I shifted to being more open about others and I even feel happier because of these actions. I still have a few changes to make, but evolution is a process and not always immediate.

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August 1, 2012

ABC’s of Life… Give Freely

Give freely – what exactly does that mean? I have spent maybe far too much time contemplating this life lesson. Initially, I thought it had to do with us donating and giving to those who have less than we do. By definition, giving does encompass material goods, but that’s a tangible interpretation. The more I thought about it, I realized that even giving something, a gift for example, is not the only thing we have to give; it’s only a piece of it. In reality, when we are giving, even if it is something material, it’s giving a piece of ourselves. That’s the important piece.

It’s easy in our society to get wrapped up in the material giving, but I am beginning to believe the only real thing in this world we have to give isn’t something we can hold in our hands or put in our wallets. It’s ourselves.  Over the past year, I have been observing friends and family, trying to determine what makes for a lasting relationship, because I found myself incredibly curious about how people build meaningful ones. The answer I have come to is we build long lasting and meaningful relationships by opening up our hearts, sharing ourselves, lending a shoulder to a friend, giving our time and energy to a friend in need or even just to have fun. By doing these things it makes it easier for others to open up to us in return, of course only if and when they are ready.

But then what does it mean by giving freely? Sometimes, there’s the expectation of getting something in return when we give and sometimes there isn’t. In order to give freely, then we must not have an expectation to receive anything back. This sets people up to be let down or disappointed, which can make for an unhealthy relationship. If we open our hearts to give ourselves to someone else, the person on the receiving end should only have to accept it graciously and thankfully without having to give back in return. Otherwise, it is only giving something with strings attached and the expectations we have to get something back may never be met or even be met to the standards that were desired. This only adds conflict and sometimes drama to our relationship. One word of caution, we do give to those who are worthy. There are those who might take advantage and all I say to this is be aware of those people and maybe it’s time to re-evaluate how meaningful those relationships might be. Luckily, I have rarely ever come across such a soul, but I do know they exist.

One thing I did decide recently is that I want to give back to society and I decided I want to volunteer. This is something I have talked about doing off and on over the last couple years, but I have already put an application in for a reading program to help children learn how to read. I think it’s time to give to my community, because after all when we are willing to have open hearts and give it freely, our community becomes a better, stronger place just the same way that our relationships do.

December 29, 2011

ABC’s of Life… Forgive

Over the past year, I have been focusing on forgiving those in my past and even forgiving myself. Some of the people I was forgiving, I told so and others it was just a positive intention I sent out to the universe, knowing that if I ever saw them again, I would either say it or let it be water under the bridge.

I have learned it’s impossible to escape needing to be forgiven or needing to forgive someone for what has been done to us or those we love. It could be a small act or a big one. Sometimes these actions are intentional, mean, or spiteful and sometimes they were unintentional or we are unaware that our behavior hurt someone. These actions have nothing to do with us, instead they are all about the one inflicting them upon us. Even though I know this, it can be difficult not to personalize it. Perhaps by realizing that it is not personal is a key in offering forgiveness.

Forgiveness is something that we always have the option to give freely. Nobody can make us do it and we all have our own time frame for offering it. In a bad situation it can be the only thing we have control of. For some, it feels empowering to not give it because it is the only thing we feel in control of.  Although, it may seem easier to hold onto the anger and the pain that someone has brought on us, the truth is, we only do more harm to ourselves by holding onto that anger or grudge. We only truly heal from being hurt by letting go of that anger. I don’t know any other way of letting go of anger but by offering our forgiveness for what’s been done.

There are things in this world that happen that seem unforgivable, but forgiveness isn’t only for the other person, it’s for us – to take back control and remove ourselves from being the victim. There’s no joy in being a victim. By being a victim we give up the control of our lives and let the one who hurt us rule our lives.

People say forgive and forget. I agree with forgiving, but not with forgetting. Sometimes we have to remember our pain, our sorrows, our anger to learn and grow from it or to keep us safe by making sure to remove ourselves from an unsafe situation or to make a healthier decision in the future. We can let go of the pain, but sometimes our lessons in healing our invaluable to our growth. However, it is important to know that by remembering what we have learned from our past isn’t to let the past rule our present and it is also important to know that just because one person hurt us, it doesn’t mean that all people will. A word of caution, sometimes our past is ruling our lives even when we’re denying that it is. That’s the challenge of letting go.

I can’t tell you how to let go and forgive, it’s something that is found in your own heart. But when I let go, I can tell you it feels amazing to not be carrying around the burden of anger, pain, or sadness. Forgiving is the only way to release it, be free and to move on.

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December 3, 2011

ABC’s of Life….. Express Thanks

It was not intentional that I waited to write about the next ABC of Life – “E” Express Thanks – until Thanksgiving time. It just seemed to happen that way, but it did force my hand a little bit and I’m even a week late, but it’s a topic that I have been trying to focus on a lot this last year, realizing that I have taken so much for granted, from people to things and I realized my attitude towards them were not phenomenal and I was determined to change that. To become thankful for everything I have, no matter if it wasn’t what I thought I wanted. I always thought of myself as a thankful person, but somewhere I forgot and on my journey the past few months has made me realize how much I have and how abundant my life is. I am incredibly grateful for the people in my life.

So, even before I made it to “E”, I have been focusing on expressing thanks to people from now and from my past over the last few months. And I keep wondering how should I express my thanks. I really am grateful for all that I have, it’s just a matter of telling those that I am thankful for about how I feel. I  have decided, just now, that since I love to write handwritten notes, for the holidays, I am going to write thank you letters to all those that I am grateful for no matter how long it takes.

I don’t have words to say how thankful I am to my family and to all of my friends, old and new. You have shared with me so much and you have given me so much from laughter to a shoulder to lean on to motivation to advice to encouragement to love – this list could go on forever. What would we do without the people we love in our lives?

November 29, 2011

What I Love… A compilation of things from Oahu to Portland to Salt Lake City

It’s been busy couple of months and I have not had time to sit down and write about the things I love, but here are a few that will guarantee a smile and even a laugh – in random order:

1. Go to a warehouse filled with trampolines and jump your little heart out. I not only worked on my front flip into a giant pile of soft blocks, but I managed to dance to Santagold while jumping in the air. This is very challenging but very rewarding. Dodgeball on trampolines is fun and I couldn’t stop laughing when I fell. Racing on trampolines can be fun too; just as my friend fell, I looked back to see what was happening and then I fell. We’re special and I couldn’t stop laughing. Thanks B for taking us, it was a blast.

2. Go to Hawaii. I feel like I should write an entire blog about this one, but I will save that for later.

3. Surf. It’s fun and I stood up on my first day. My instructor was adorable and we had a lot of fun. My arms were exhausted afterwards. It was fun to be out there in the waves with all the other surfers. They all knew each other and loved the sport. All the different instructors were giving their students and other students tips. They were all just having fun. Even a surfing legend, Buttons, gave me pointers.

4. Sea kayak on a windy day. I went with a guide though and was glad that I did because the waves were 3 to 4 feet at times. Afterwards, it felt like I ran a marathon and I was pretty proud of myself.

5. Go on a trip with your mom alone. As much as I wished that my sisters could have come with my mom and me on our trip to Hawaii, I was glad that I got to go on a trip alone with her. We had a blast and I feel that I got to know things about her that I never knew before.

6. Salsa dance.

7. Brunch at Equinox . This is a cute little restaurant near Mississippi St. in Portland. The food was amazing and the company was even better.

8. Go to a dueling piano bar. I have always wanted to go and my friends indulged me this past Saturday and we went to Keys on Main in Salt Lake City, UT. It was silly, but fun.

9. Go to Blue Plate Diner in SLC. It reminded me of one of my favorite brunch spots in Portland, Stepping Stone, and made me a little homesick.

10. Stop by Epic brewery in SLC. They won’t let you taste the beer there, state regulation forbids it (oh Utah!), but you don’t need to. I have yet to try one that I didn’t like.

11. Go to High West Distillery in Park City, UT. It’s the only Whiskey distillery in Utah. The food was great and the whiskey even better. It has a country, barn atmosphere and I fell in love with their frosted, blue glass water bottles that I just had to buy. Their gift store made a killing off of us. I still want to go back for one of their vintage, metal signs.

12. Find a thinking spot and go and plot and plan your life. I mentioned mine earlier, but every time I go, I love it even more. I feel like I don’t have to worry about anything except just being there and breathing. I’ve come up with some brilliant schemes including going back to school and more creative ideas for my writing and my jewelry.

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November 15, 2011

What I Love… Meeting New People

Over the last few months, I have met some amazing people. Some of them I now consider dear friends that I love spending time with and others were just people I met in passing. Regardless, of whether or not these people have stayed in my life or not, I have loved every minute of it. I have even been forcing myself to go out and do things by myself in order to meet new people. I have made an effort at the grocery store to talk to people standing in line or gone to meetup groups to make new friends.  It can be nerve wrecking, but fun. A bit of advice I learned is that everyone is nervous in a room full of strangers, well the majority of people. I even have friends who I consider to be outgoing and gregarious and they even tell me it makes them nervous to be in a room full of strangers. I would have never guessed, but it really opened my eyes to see someone else’s perspective.

A smile and a hello can go a long way. It really does disarm people and make them feel comfortable. My goal recently is to try and make other people feel comfortable instead of focusing on me feelings of being uncomfortable. It helps and breathing helps too. I have even gone as far as buying books full of questions to ask people for ideas. I know it seems silly and I’ll admit I’m a nerd, but there are so many question books out there – books about questions to ask friends, families, strangers, books full of questions to start conversations. I was astonished at how many books were out there , but relieved I wasn’t the only one that has trouble starting a conversation in a room full of strangers or at networking events. A little tangent about these books…. it’s fun to think about what my answers would be too! I’m learning a lot about myself along the way. I think that learning more about ourselves is also the beautiful part about meeting new people, it opens us to new ways of being and thought. To learn new hobbies or take an interest in different kinds of music, philosophies, books, etc. It gets us out of our boxes and routine, which I hold is incredibly healthy for our psyches.

I think from now on out, one of my goals every month, or maybe week, is to do something that involves new people. I really need to look into volunteering.

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November 3, 2011

What I Love… Handwritten Letters

I always have loved getting cards and letters in the mail. It’s nostalgic and one of my favorite things. It shows that someone took the time to write out their thoughts, put the card/letter in an envelope, put a stamp on it, and remembered to drop it in the mail. The effort is much more than a text, an email, a Facebook message and it holds more meaning. Our handwriting shows a side of us that not many people get to see, especially in this day in age where we have become so digital.

Yesterday, I was thinking about how much I wanted to get a card or a letter in the mail, besides the typical magazine, junk mail or credit card application and as I picked up the mail, I saw it. A card written by two of my friends that I adore. It made my day. I don’t think I’m the only one that loves getting a card or letter in the mail. I sometimes think it’s sad that we don’t get more! And why don’t more people send postcards? We always get to be so busy when we’re traveling and it seems to be forgotten, but it doesn’t need to be.

I have recently been thinking about how I would love to write more letters and send them to my friends and family. Even a couple days ago, I went to a stationary store in search of  single sheets of paper stationary. I was shocked when all I could find were cards and no sheets. Don’t get my wrong, I love cards and could probably spend hours, if not days in Paper Source and Presents of Minds looking at their cards, but I was on the search for paper where I can write more than just one page worth of words and thoughts.

I love writing, I love crafting my thoughts together in sentences. I love editing and I love handwriting – although, I do not love my handwriting, I still love the act of doing it. I love handwriting birthday and holiday cards to family because I feel that I can be more open and honest, more eloquent about my true feelings. I even love the act of tearing up a piece of paper or crumpling when it wasn’t exactly the way I wanted it to be. It take much more effort to re-write an entire letter after a mistake or when we say something we don’t want to.

A handwritten letter or card is sincere, thoughtful. I love the holidays because it’s always a certainty that we will get at least one card and if you don’t get any, send me a message and I’ll send you one!

October 25, 2011

What I Love… St. Johns Bridge and Cathedral Park

I had been across the St. Johns Bridge several times and had already decided it is my favorite bridge in Portland. It does not surprise me that many of my friends that I have talked to about it recently have agreed that it is their favorite bridge too. After all, it is the most photographed bridge in Portland for a reason – it is stunning. Set against the hills of Forest Park and Cathedral Park, the tall suspensions make the bridge look graceful and even peaceful as it floats above the river. Even with the rush hour traffic crossing the bridge, the hustle and bustle of the day doesn’t seem to taint the serenity of the bridge. When the sun set over the bridge, it took my breath away. If you walk across the bridge you will see people walking, biking, or running across it, but you can also see those who stop to take the moment in and reflect there. It is an inspiring place to think.

My favorite part of walking across the bridge was looking down into the park below and watching friends, lovers, and people walk through it. I had never spent any time at Cathedral Park, which is just below the bridge and when I walked through it, I realized how beautiful it was. I plan to go back there sometime soon for another stroll. I could stop and take a breath while I was there and immediately feel relaxed. Walking down to the water was wonderful and not what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be industrial near the water, but  the park extends out to the boat dock. I even managed to make a friend while I was watching the sunset. He lived nearby and was sitting watching the sunset smoking his pipe, reflecting about his long distance girlfriend and how much he missed her. He talked about the Blues & Jazz festival they had at the park this past summer and how every Saturday he saw a wedding there. I decided that when I meet the right one to marry and have children with, that is where I want to get married.

Needless to say, I finally found my “mountain”. It’s not on the bridge, while beautiful to walk across and with an amazing view of the hills and even beyond, it’s not it. My mountain is somewhere in that park. I won’t say where it is, but I finally found my place to get inspired and to sit, think, reflect, plan, plot and scheme about my life.

October 24, 2011

What I Love… Mum’s Kitchen

I’ve been wanting to eat at the Mum’s Kitchen food cart off of Fremont and Vancouver all summer since it’s just a few blocks from where I work, but I only managed to make my way over there today. I saw my chance to take advantage of a sunny, gorgeous autumn lunch and knowing there won’t be many more of them left, I strolled over there early to make sure I got back before a noon meeting.

I first saw Mum’s a couple years ago after I moved to NE Portland and had caught myself wondering what kind of food it was, but I never stopped since I was always on my way somewhere else, usually to work or to head downtown. Even though, over the past couple years I have heard great reviews for Mum’s, I was still pleasantly surprised by not only great food but a pleasant welcome by the owner. We talked for several minutes about where she was from and why she was here, we both talked about our families and how sometimes we miss our friends and family who now live far away from us. I realized how lucky that I am to be able to travel back home to see those that I love easily.

She gave me samples of what she had been cooking and what was ready for lunch and I was torn between two options, but finally committed on a pork curry that was delicious and spicy. For $7.50 I received a plateful of food that I could not even finish. I’m excited to have enough leftovers to enjoy round two of this amazing food.

I haven’t eaten much Indian food, in fact this was only my second time eating genuine Indian food, albeit from a cart whose owner hails from South Africa and not India – the world is such a small, yet large place. After my first experience of Indian at a buffet, which was good, but not amazing, I wasn’t in a rush to go back for seconds, but after this experience and the hopes of eating fresh pumpkin before it’s out of season, I will be back at Mum’s Kitchen soon.

October 17, 2011

What I Love…. The Smell of Fall

Today was a beautiful fall day. Somehow fall finally seemed to arrive over the weekend. The leaves, which have been hinting at changing colors the last couple weeks have finally started to change and even fall. I can hear the fallen leaves shuffle as people walk by my closed bedroom window. This morning was even brisk, I caught myself shivering in my car turning the heat up to high – something I haven’t really needed to do yet. My favorite part though was walking outside my office this morning to grab coffee from across the street and I could smell chai mixed with brisk, fresh autumn air. I loved it. While I had a wonderful summer, one of the best in Portland, I’m ready for the seasons to change and even rain.

I think every season has a distinct smell. My favorites being fall and late spring. The autumn smell brings back memories of Halloweens past, my favorite holiday. The smell of chili reminds me of the chili bread bowls my mom used to make growing up. The smell of pumpkin spice lattes remind me of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie and the amazing pumpkin bread that my mom makes. It was one of my favorite things to have pumpkin bread for breakfast before school. I suppose my favorite smells of the season are cinnamon, nutmeg, chai, and pumpkin. Even now I find myself wanting to add cinnamon to my coffee in the morning. Something I don’t typically do, but I love the taste in the fall.

I love fall. It’s strange to think about that now. I used to not love it because it meant the pending icy, cold weather was coming and I could no longer sit and bask in the sun, but now I get to drink my porters and my stouts, my hot chai tea, cuddle up with a book on the couch without feeling guilty, snuggle under my covers to keep warm, wear cute boots, hats and my favorite jackets. I have a feeling that fall is going to be as amazing as this past summer, but possibly even better.