Inspiration


A quote that has stuck with me for a while is “Family is not strictly biological”. There are two holidays that I don’t celebrate annually, “Mothers Day” and “Fathers Day”. While it is quite common for children to be raised in broken homes presently, most have a connection with at least one of their parents. While I won’t get into details about this, I can say having parents that were less than responsible or caring has been a blessing in my life as I’ve learned to appreciate the important people in my life and the love that they give.

The great thing about love is that you can create as much as you would like and there are endless ways to celebrate it. Reflecting on my weekend, I’ve realized that we shouldn’t limit ourselves on the moments we dedicate to others in our lives. I spent the weekend with great friends and realized that we often take great relationships in our lives for granted.

I think it’s important to have friends that remind you of who you are rather than make you think of who you aren’t. It’s amazing to have friends whose happiness equals your happiness and whose sorrows and plights easily become your own.

So while parents can be wonderful things, and I’ve even been “adopted” by amazing parents of other people, the great thing about the world is that we can be led, raised and inspired by so many things and people around us. It’s so easy to “blame our parents” for our struggles and the negative things in our lives but it’s even easier to find something else to divert our love to if we want to. It’s just harder to open our eyes and hearts to those things because of fear or a lack of motivation. So, blog readers, I challenge you to find something that forces you to be thankful for each day, without a holiday reminder.

A story told on Frank Chimero’s blog:

One day, a Tibetan Lama was speaking to a group of monks and, to make a point, pulled out a large jar, set it on the table in front of him, produced a few fist-sized rocks, and placed them, one by one, into the jar. When no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone said, “Yes.” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of gravel, dumped some in and shook the jar, the gravel worked between the rocks. Again, he asked: “Is this jar full?” The monks were catching on. “Probably not,” one answered. “Good!” he replied and reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He dumped the sand into the jar until it filled all the crevices. Once more he asked: “Is this jar full?”

“No!” the monks shouted.

“Good!” He said and grabbed a pitcher of water and poured until the jar was filled to the brim. Then asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One young monk responded, “The point is, no matter how full your day you can always fit some more things in.”

“No,” the speaker replied. “The point is that if you don’t put the big rocks in first, you’ll never get them in at all.”

When I think of big rocks, I think of the Peace Corps. It’s now or never! I’ve heard too many stories of people who put it off in order for small rocks, or rocks of similar sizes and then were never able to fulfill that dream. When thinking of the “big rocks” I’ve managed to fit in the past, I ask myself, “How do you know WHICH big rocks to choose from”.

We live in a rocky world and I feel like in the past, I’ve had two big rocks to choose from and only one would fit. I think I chose the best option but maybe I would have made the best out of either option anyway and trying to collect big rocks is a waste of time. Maybe life isn’t a jar of big ugly rocks anyway. Maybe it’s a jar of the little things; colored sand in which meaning is only found at the end when you’ve created something beautiful. It’s the little things that bring so much joy and meaning , the things that we miss out on by worrying to much about the big rocks.

So maybe not all big rocks are ugly. Cannon Beach, Oregon. One of my happy places 🙂

While browsing TED.com, I came across this video that seemed to relate really well with my last entry.

It brought a variety of emotions out of me including:

Fear- It’s scary what a risk taking an alternative life direction can be. This woman did something out of the norm and ended up depressed and rejected by society.

Bravery – In order to truly be open to life and appreciate the great things in life, we must also accept the things that make moments great: the lower points that allow a contrast. Horrible moments in life are in store but we have to accept them as a part of the journey. No one would choose for these things to happen beforehand but this woman is a better person because of the things she endured and I have a better understanding and comfort with the things that lie ahead because of her experience and it leading to this seven minute video!

Optimism – You CAN pick the path that brings the most happiness, despite its acceptance to society, its contribution to the economy. People ARE understanding the true value in life and I think she makes a great point about being open to those paths and she gives me hope that I can move forward and not be so afraid of the results and I can contribute to the happiness of others by taking the time to meet new people and try to understand those that I just walk by on a regular basis.

I was seriously really afraid and sad at the beginning of this but things turned around! One sweet victory over our enemies.

I’m running a half marathon this Sunday morning. It’s supposed to rain and although this isn’t a new finding that my training has been terrible, I will describe my training regiment.

Ladies and gentlemen, the top ten things NOT to do while training for a half marathon.

10. Decide six weeks before the half marathon, “Hey, I haven’t been out for a run in over six months. Maybe I should run 13 miles six weeks from today.” Step two: proceed to go online and sign up immediately. No looking back now!

9. Attempt to train for a marathon at the beginning of spring in Colorado, where winter shows up in random places, leaving snow and muddy trails everywhere. That training schedule you made? Gone! You just lost a week of running. Go not pass go. Do not collect $200. (instead, pay up $50!)

8. Attempt to train for a marathon while completely broke and unable to eat completely healthy. (although if you have some secrets or tips, do let me know!

7. Neglect keeping yourself hydrated on a daily basis, so when you’re running along the river, you half-way consider hunkering down and lapping up water like a puppy.

6. Refuse to map out your path beforehand because you like to discover new places and run to wherever feels right at the time…only to get lost on some random country road and end your ten mile run 2. 5 miles away from your home after dark because of your little detour. This feels greeaaat.

5. Neglect to buy a headlamp or some sort of clothing that identifies yourself running alongside the road or on a dark, empty trail so passerbys or drivers are surprised when you just suddenly pop up on the side of the road. RAWR!!

4. Run everywhere BUT the actual course because of your lack of planning to allow enough time to bike there, run and bike back. Running up the Foothills can’t be THAT much worse than running alongside the flat river, right?

3. Attend $0.25 drink night less than a week before your marathon. This night will take you two days of recovery.

2. Refuse to train during the same time of day that your actual run is. 8:30 a.m., 6:00 p.m. I’m SURE my energy level is the same during those two times anyway!

1. Write a blog that encourages other people that you can be a slacker and still run ridiculous races. It’s probably not the best information to share because you could seriously hurt yourself but some of the things I’ve done right:

  • Not running everyday. It’s important to give your body rest. My schedule looked like this (I went astray for a while but generally followed the schedule.) In miles:

Week 1: 3, 3, 3,
Week 2: 4, 4, 6
Week 3: 6, 4, 6
Week 4: 6, 6, 6
Week 5:8, 10, 8
Week 6: 10, 12(never ran this much) 10 (ran 6 miles instead)

It looks a little different than most schedules (many that I saw had a few shorter runs that built up to one long run at the end of the week) but I wanted to build up slowly to avoid injury. Well…I think that’s the only thing that I did right but I’ve been running 10 min miles and I’m generally a pretty active person so hopefully i won’t have a heart attack.

Wish me luck! Two days left!

The Course

The Fun!

I started this blog two months ago and while it hasn’t been updated in a while, I want to not just throw something on here to keep people interested because it’s meant to be for my own personal use and reflection on growth and how I’ve changed perspective over time (or at least, that’s what I’m hoping for!)

For my first blog, I wrote some goals down and decided to see where I’ve come on them:

So this is where I’m at right now:

  • Mind is far far away from school! I’ve learned to accept it since I’ve worked really hard up to this point and I think I deserve to have a little fun and not worry about my GPA so much or stress about the studying I didn’t get done.
  • Content with the hand that life has given me, I don’t really have any complaints right now. Despite some of the random things thrown at me in the past four months, as always, things have turned out for the best.

This is what I’ve accomplished:

  • Peace Corp process is almost complete! Just waiting for an invitation to wherever I’m going in Central Asia. Hopefully, I’ll know by the end of this month!
  • I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself for making mistakes and to be more open in trying new things, letting more people in, worrying less about the consequences of my actions. My instinct always seems to take me in the right direction.

This is where I want to be:

  • Right here.

I had to read this book for a class and found it to be one of the most valuable things I’ve read but also one of the most difficult. Anyway, there are many themes in this book including a “Democratic unfreedom” and the “welfare vs. warfare state” but I found the consumerism theme to be most relevant to my own opinions.

When I first arrived to college, the first thing I noticed in the elevators, in the hallways and around campus is the ridiculous amount of Louis Vuitton and Coach purses worn by females in their late teens or early 20s. My first thought was, “Why would someone so young buy a purse with so much value, we all have no money to carry around!” What I finally came to learn was that it wasn’t about the actual physical function the purse served but the social function it served. The purse said “I’m wealthy, trendy and am probably in a sorority!” Both Herbert Marcuse and James Twitchell explained this situation perfectly by describing how consumption has become more than just fulfilling practical, physical needs but defines ourselves and our relationships with each other.

“People recognize themselves in their commodities; they find their soul in their automobile, hi-fi set, split-level home, kitchen equipment. The very mechanism which ties the individual to his society has changed, and social control is anchored in the new needs which it has produced” – Herbert Marcuse


There is no doubt that we are a consumer society in the U.S. and as James Twitchell stated, “American culture is well on its way to becoming world culture”. Any opposition is bound to be defeated.

Marcuse explains consumerism by “true needs” and “false needs”. (Marcuse 5) “False needs” are needs that society tells us we need. In Marcuse’s words, we learn to love and hate what others love and hate. I think his argument is really relevant because of the amount of money put into advertising.

Advertising tells people what they should love and hate. For example, advertising tells consumers that they should buy flavored bottled water for their children because that’s what other caring, loving mothers buy for their children. Marcuse states that his optimal goal is the replacement of false needs with true ones. (Marcuse 7) I think that this is necessary because the complete opposite happens all of the time. Using my bottled water example again, I can say that water is a “true” need. We need water in order to survive. It gets turned into a “false” need when we are forced to believe that tap water is unhealthy and water needs to be enhanced with vitamins and consumed inside a bottle with a fancy label.

So….how do we change? We don’t. But we’ve made progress.

Recession

The recession has placed an interesting perspective that I’m sure Marcuse could argue was for the best. People have lost jobs and have had to live with less. Some people might find that it was a blessing in disguise as they were able to see how much they could live without. With a decreased expendable income, individuals are forced to find happiness in things that money can’t buy.

Recessions force us to do things differently. Unfortunately, recessions and a lack of progress are painted as a bad thing. The need to work harder and to work longer in order to get back on top are messages distributed to society.

Buying our Happiness

We are a society that lives to work instead of working to live. It is the never ending drive to define ourselves by our possesions that causes this, in my opinion. To reverse this pattern would be to entirely reverse the way that consumers think. Convincing individuals that we become more limited as individuals when we have more “choices” is a complex argument to make.

“One Dimensional Man” is a difficult piece to read and the arguments even more complex. Consumerism almost makes understanding this all even more difficult as advertising discourages people to think for themselves and apart from society. Marcuse’s “One Dimensional Man” paints a realistic picture of what consumerism does to society, even more than forty years after the book was published but I would agree with James Twitchell that the only changes in consumerism and capitalism are in expansion so reversing the effects of consumerism is very unlikely.

This is my first personal blog that I’ve ever done. I used to be really annoyed with people who thought it was important to share their personal thoughts and mentalities with the world but lately, I’ve been inspired with writers such as Kerouac and Vonnegut, Ginsberg and felt that there is a lot of value in history from an ordinary person. Why let the big wigs write it all? I’m doing this more for myself, to measure growth;where I’ve been, where I want to be, what I’d like to go back to. I feel like this is a perfect time in life to turn on the recorder. I just turned 22, ripped some important pages out of the book and am able to start on a new slate.

Where I’m at right now:

  • Last semester of college
  • Amazing group of friends that I learn to appreciate more each day because of the timeline fastly approaching where I’ll journey across the world and hope that someday, fate will bring me back 🙂
  • An amazing internship where I have to pinch myself sometimes and other times learn to not become too content and take the opportunity for granted.
  • A little lonely, at least I can feel it for the first time in a while
  • Reevaluating the crazy college life I’ve been living and searching for something else.

Where I want to be:

  • I want to have made more progress in my Peace Corps application
  • I want to love people more openly and be less disappointed with them. I feel like sometimes I place expectations on people that aren’t necessary. Loving people is accepting what they have to contribute and not asking more.
  • I want to trust my instinct more

That’s it for now. I didn’t exactly have a lot on my mind to write today but wanted to get things started to get the ball rolling on something that’s been in the back of my mind for some time.