let’s go anywhere

How long is your ideal day? 24 hours? 18 hours? 36 hours?  Or, perhaps more to the point, how much time do you need to accomplish your daily activities?  And when you think about your daily activities as leading to your greater goals, how much time do you need to accomplish your dreams?

We need time for action and time for reflection, and, somewhere in between, we need time to simply sit and sway and enjoy the day.  I came across the following graphic by National Geographic, and, well, you can see why time is on my mind:

The good news is that we get to eat 30 tons of food (make it chocolate chip cookies, please), drink 9000 cups of coffee (do they know I have 2 cups a day?), and laugh 18 times every 24 hours (surely it’s more than that? Everything seems to make me laugh…).

Even if we adjust for personal preferences (I probably spend 19 days trying to find a book page rather than a remote), the numbers probably add up right (if not, why did someone spend so much time creating this? And to be promoted as a National Geographic study? You gotta give it some credit), and that means we have 20% of our life to live.

I went ahead and did a little more research to show you just how much time that actually is:Image
If you’re American, that means you have 15.64 years to do whatever is most important to you.  15.64– the number seems so low!  All I can say is we should all be busy loving and living and exploring and adventuring and taking in the sunshine.

Oh, and on the topic of goals — go for them.  Think it will take too much time? No matter, the time will pass anyway.  As long as you make time for all the loving and exploring and adventuring, go for it — life’s too short not to 🙂

“And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, “This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!” And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, “No. This is what’s important.” – Ian S. Thomas, I Wrote This For You

survive on sunlight

ImageI had received my acceptance letter to the University of Illinois at Chicago, and I was grateful to have a clearly identified purpose in life: I was no longer a struggling cocktail waitress, but a graduate student en-route to becoming an art history professor.

Or so I had imagined when I filled out the graduate school application.  Problem is, acting in the best interest of others is so.gosh.darn.addicting.

I went home from the orphanage feeling fulfilled after every.single.day of work.  How many business professionals can say that?  How many art historians can claim the same thing?  Would I find the same satisfaction writing persuasive arguments about art?  Could the hours upon days upon weeks upon years spent researching in a library compare to volunteering at the dump?

I took a walk along the Puerto Vallarta beach to consider my options and clear my head.  On the one hand, I was grateful to be admitted to the program and happy to be working toward a personal goal of mine.  On the other hand, I wasn’t so sure that the life I wanted would make me happy.  Get what you want only to learn it’s not what you need, right?
And then I crossed the bridge.

Literally and metaphorically, I walked over a wooden bridge in downtown Puerto Vallarta and my perspective was irrevocably altered.

The small footbridge ran over a stream that led into the ocean, and I paused midway to look at the sea.  I’m not trying to recreate a Virginia Wolfe novel, just paint a picture of me looking out at the beach and noticing all the happy tourists sunbathing and wave-jumping.

I smiled at the happy families and celebratory college students, thought about how their decisions might be conflicting like mine.  I wondered if their life goals would make them happy or not.

Feeling too morose for my own good, I decided to head home and hang out with my roommates.  Make margaritas and blast Spanish radio.  Maybe even call the boys volunteering at the orphange from Australia.  Learn a thing or two about their Aussy accent.

I turned around, now facing the stream that flows into the ocean, and my heart nearly melted away with the current.  It’s hard to describe the beauty that overcame me, but let me try.
A young woman walked into the stream wearing only a silk Flamenco skirt spun from gold, maroon and navy threads.  Droplets of water glistened off the top of her brown chest, and her long skirt billowed in the water around her waist.

She signaled toward the shore, and two skinny naked kids splashed through the water to join her.  The boy, approximately ten, held a bottle of shampoo, and the girl, only a year or so younger, held a bar of soap.

Yes, I realize how creepy it might seem to watch this family bathe in the stream, but I couldn’t take my eyes away.  The young mother washed their hair with shampoo, covered their bodies in soap, and then encouraged them to rinse off by playing together.  As they splashed in the water, the soap from their young bodies filled the stream with suds.  The sun shone down on the soap bubbles and made the entire scene sparkle like a painting.  It was beautiful. They were beautiful.

And it hurt my heart to watch them.  I ached, intensely, when I turned around and saw the tourists baking like Lobsters and sipping Sex-on-the-Beach not 20 feet away.  How could these two events be spontaneously occurring in the same place?
The unadulterated beauty of the natives seemed lost on the sunbathers.  This family was, without a doubt, unable to afford running water, and yet tourists were happily sipping $20 cocktails just a stone’s throw away.  Did the tourists see them?  If so, did they care?

Why was the distance between these two groups of people so much greater than the small bridge that separated them?  Was it possible to bring them closer together?  To help people learn to see one another with clear eyes?

I felt, deep down, that it was possible to act as a bridge between two worlds.  It suddenly became important to show the affluent how to live on sunlight alone, and to provide the impoverished with the opportunities of the wealthy (health, education, shelter, etc).  More than anything, I wanted to illuminate the similarities between people and demonstrate the power in unity.

I forgot about the margaritas and the Aussies, and I walked home with my head whirling like a monsoon.  As I walked, I determined that I would complete my masters in art history, but I would use the graduate program to study different means of overcoming social differences with art.

*I was sorting through holiday boxes when I found a journal I kept while in Mexico. I hope you don’t mind that I shared an old entry — the post still resonates with me, and I thought you might enjoy the read 🙂

better than chocolate

What role do you play in someone else’s story? The way we impact the lives of one another is incredibly important, but how often do we pause to consider the affect that we have on the people around us?

We go through this life to help others.  For close friends, that means being there to celebrate a job promotion, the time he finally asked you out, the time he finally made it official, and all the other happy moments that define our lives.  It also means that we’re there for the setbacks, exchanging ice cream for tears and trading hugs for stories of suffering.
My friend Amy has played a leading role in my life.  She was my partner-in-crime when we finagled Vespas, my hot date when we climbed the Eiffel Tower, my life-coach when I couldn’t find a job, my therapist when I experienced heartache (time and again), and my friend, always.

I could fill an entire Chicken Soup for the Soul with stories from friends and family that adore Amy.  People gravitate toward her joyful personality, and they fall in love with her sincere desire to make the world a better place.
Luckily, she just started her own blog, and now you can get to know her (love her) just like I do.

A highlight from her new blog is when she tells her professor that chocolate is her favorite food.  The professor then asked “What kind of chocolate? Semi sweet? Milk chocolate? Dark Chocolate? Truffles?”   Her response: “YES.”

Read more here:


breaking with balance

I’d rather have a great life than a balanced life.  A stint in the corporate world landed me in half a dozen conversations about the importance of finding the appropriate work/life balance.  These conversations made me want to walk out the office, find a park, and enter Garurasana.

I started working incredibly long hours after I quit my job last May. The freedom and creativity that came with pursuing projects I was passionate about, rather than simply paid to do, was endlessly inspiring.  Now, I truly want to be working, creating, and designing.

If you’re anything like me, your best ideas coming while you’re washing your hair or running around the lakes – so the things that matter, the things that you’re pursuing, need to be constantly on your mind.  If you truly want it, you can’t just be 75% focused.

If you’re begrudgingly working a 9-5 to pay the bills, then use your evenings to build a career you’re passionate about.  Need to take classes after a long day of work? Go for it.  It’ll be worth it in a few months. The goal might seem time consuming now, but remember that the time will pass anyway, and you might as well use the current moment to build a promising future.

Time spent pursuing your goals won’t seem like work.  There will be struggles and challenges, yes, but that is part of the story.  Try, fail, learn, and then try again better.

If you truly want something, break with balance and strive for it with all your heart.
My yoga outfit was designed by Emma and Sarah, two girls so passionate about yoga and fashion that they created their own clothing line, MAI I AM.   MAI I AM sounds fun, and the philosophy behind the brand is even better: it’s built from their mantra, ‘I am enough,” and suggests that loving yourself, as you are, will bring you the most peace.

Writing is my personal passion, and so I will continue to write with passion and without concern for balance: