If I Could Do Anything

I often ask myself, “What am I going to do with my life?” It’s the question that I’ve been struggling with from the moment I got my first job. I worked at a children’s clothing store at the time. With only two weeks into working there, I knew I was going to hate this place. Let’s start with the fact that I didn’t like kids. I was never the person who lost their mind whenever a woman walked in with a baby. I was considered strange in that way. The workplace itself was like something out of a bad teen TV show. The store manager was bipolar to the extreme. One minute she’d be prancing around singing then she’d be slamming her hand on the counter and threatening customers’ kids through gritted teeth. If I wasn’t spending my shift with her, I was with the other manager who would use her authority to bully me, sometimes giving me instructions to purposely get customers mad at me. Whenever I questioned myself as to why I ever showed up to that hell hole, I would say it’s because I had to do something for money. That answer didn’t justify for long, as I had put my two weeks in after two months.

I decided to ask myself a different question. “What can I do that will make me happy?” I observed the world around me. There were people out there who, while being themselves and having control of their own lives, were still able to make a living. “Make a living doing what you love,” became my new goal. I came to the conclusion that going to college would be the right path for me. Having to sit through several hours of lecturing a day was a lot for my goldfish attention span to handle. Somehow I made it through. I got a degree in Engineering. I always loved making things as a kid. To me, Engineering meant I could use my creativity, along with my knowledge and research, to design or problem solve. I thought this degree was the key to unlocking my destined path. But after walking across the stage, I had nothing to show for it except a piece of paper.

“Well, what is it that you want to do?” It was a question that was thrown at me each time I opened yet another rejection letter for a job I applied for. I applied for jobs endlessly. I figured, if I could just get a job from whatever company doing whatever, I’d be happy. I did a few small gigs and temporary jobs to get by. I felt like I was floating by with no purpose. I realized that I had no set goals, no ambition. I needed to dig deeper. I thought about the important lifestyle aspects that I wanted. I wanted to be able to be myself. I didn’t want to wake up every morning and throw on a pantsuit. I didn’t want to sit at a desk all day as someone barked orders at me. I wanted to be in control of how I spend my time. I wanted to be in control of my own life.

If I wanted things to be different, I need to try something different. It was time to look at things in another perspective. I stopped anxiously waiting for big companies to give me the time of day. I thought to myself, what could little old me do? What am I capable of as myself right now? What could I do to help someone? To help the world?

Finding Clarity In Nature

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I woke up with an aching feeling in my chest. As soon as I opened my eyes, a million thoughts rushed through my head. Each thought made my body feel heavier and heavier. I couldn’t compel myself to get up. My head swirled with a mixture of doubt, worry and fear. I sighed in my pillow and slowly rolled out of bed. Laying around won’t make anything better. It won’t help me figure out how I was going to make ends meet.

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I pulled on a tank top, shorts and sandals. I filled up my backpack with protein bars, a bottle of water and some dog treats. With Inari and Enzo snuggled up in the passenger seat, I drove off. I chose a random hiking destination forty minutes north of my apartment. There weren’t many people there, and I was glad to be greeted by the green scenery.

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I walked down a dirt trail, my dogs ahead of me. I didn’t think twice about which direction I wanted to go. I simply walked and didn’t look back. I let my mind wander. I would let my thoughts flow then slowly bring myself back to the present moment. I focused on my surroundings. The shape of each tree. The color of the leaves. The texture of the dirt.

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A few miles down the trail there was a small river. As I got there, Inari jumped right in a paddled around. Enzo seemed a little overwhelmed by the current and decided to run around in the shallow end. I took off my sandals and submerged my entire body into the cool water. I laid against a large rock and closed my eyes, letting the rushing water flow pass me. I listened to the sound of the current. The sound of splashing water as Inari jumped in. The sound of Enzo running and panting. The sound of strangers walking by.

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I had felt so lost earlier. I felt helpless, hitting dead end after dead end. But there, at that moment, I felt light like a leaf flowing downstream. With a smile, I patted myself on the back. Even though nothing was going right, I knew I gave it my all. And I will continue to do so. Nothing will ever come easily. But with patients and hard work, I know I’ll eventually get to where I need to be. I know that everything will be okay.

Twelve Hours of Denver

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It was like a wailing competition was taking place on the plane and the 4-year-old behind me was the overachiever among them. I don’t recall ever crying on the plane as a kid, at least for a whole hour nonstop. But at that moment I couldn’t recall much due to lack of sleep. I wrapped myself in my jacket and popped my headphones on in hopes to reduce the noise. It was either that or I start sharing my views on parenting to my neighbors.

The plane landed in Denver Colorado at 8:05 a.m. As the pilot turned off the seat belt signal, the choir of babies had settled down. Everyone became antsy as people started filing out to the middle aisle and to the front of the plane. I was in no rush. My next flight didn’t leave until 8 p.m.

Colorado is definitely one of the places on my bucket list. I’ve seen so many gorgeous pictures from hikers and travelers. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in a situation to go hiking. I had my luggage to haul around with me. My boots, that I thought were snow boots, got my socks wet after a few feet of walking in the snow. Also, I had missed my flight before and was extremely paranoid of missing another one.

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Normally, trying to think ahead makes me anxious. I list all the things I can do, get overwhelmed and then fall over in a dizzy spell, overall accomplishing nothing. I spend way too much time thinking and not doing, so I decided to change things up. I was going to focus on the present moment and trust my gut. Baby steps. After coming to this decision, my gut became vocal. I wondered around the airport but didn’t see anything that appealed to me. I walked up to a balding man in a polo shirt behind the information desk. He informed me that for $9 I could take the train to downtown and back.

It was negative four degrees outside, which sounds like a nightmare to someone who has spent most of their life in places that make people say, “It’s because of global warming.” I put my hood over my head, bought my ticket and boarded the train. The cabin was mostly quiet except for a group of guys who were excited to begin going through their vacation plans. I sat by the window and watched the snow glisten in the sun.

I spent way too much time looking at the menu than I intended. Don’t think too much about it. I saw the picture of the banana honey pancakes and went with that. Upon leaving the cafe, I pulled out my camera and began walking around on foot. Families were circling around the outdoor ice-skating rink. City workers were shoveling snow off the sidewalks. Almost everyone walked around with a cup of coffee in their hand.

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After a few hours of walking, I got fed up with my so-called snow boots. My socks were socked and I was constantly slipping like Bambi on ice. I walked into a few shoe stores down 16th Street Mall. I picked up a pair of hiking boots at Payless. As I stood in line to pay, the card reader at the register  started having issues. I stood there anxiously waiting. You have no where to be. There’s no rush. I turned around to the guy standing behind me. He had long grey hair and was wearing all black.

“Are you from around here?” I ask.

“Yeah, I would say I’m pretty much a local.”

“Do you know any good places to take pictures? Attractions, maybe? I’m only here for a few hours.”

He suggested the bridge by the transit center, which apparently is a popular place. He asked me where I was visiting from. When I told him that I lived in Austin, he lit up. He told me about how he use to be in the military and would visit Austin frequently when he was based in Kileen. After serving in Iraq, he came back to the States and left the military. He dealt with PTSD, got addicted to heroine, and at one point became homeless. He now works at a restaurant on 17th Street.

“It’s a mundane job, but it’s simple and I enjoy it,” he said. “I also love my couch. You don’t realize how amazing a couch is until you don’t have one.”

The snow crunched underneath my new boots and my warm toes wiggled happily. I took some random turns, entered buildings and climbed stairs. Occasionally, whenever someone looked at me, I got uncomfortable. I decided to look up and smile at those people even though it made me feel weird. I figured, the worse that could happen is someone ignoring me. Just act like you belong. As they say, fake it until you make it. An old man, holding a cup of coffee, complimented my boots.

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Dear Restless Mind -Reasons To Keep A Journal

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I’ve kept a journal ever since I was a kid. I didn’t really think too much about it at the time. I just saw my older sister do it and thought it looked fun. I ended up using it as a pass time for when I was on a plane(my family traveled a lot at the time). My writing had no structure. I wrote whatever came to mind. I would doodle and stick random things on the pages. Over time, I came to realize how much I loved expressing myself. If one thing has been consistent in my life, it’s that I’ve always had a journal.My journal content has changed up here and there. I wanted to share not only reasons for keeping a journal but also the types of journals to have.

The typical “Dear Diary”

The most common reasons anyone keeps a journal is to express their thoughts. Whether they’re feeling sad or joyful, they use their journal as an outlet for these emotions. Some people even keep two separate journals, one for negative thoughts and the other for positive thoughts. I found that this method was not only good for letting out any bottled up emotions but also to analyze my thoughts. Sometimes you find yourself angry about something but then realize, after writing all of it down, that there was nothing to be mad about in the first place.

Your personal time capsule

Another journal that a lot of people like to keep is one where they write about their experience. Whenever something amazing happens, you can document it to look back on later. They say your memory is unreliable, so why not write it down as soon as it happens?

Sketch your experience

This is something I started to do earlier in the year. I had days where I couldn’t get myself to write. Sometimes the thought of writing everything down felt overwhelming, so I decided why not sketch what was around me? I was asked by a random person at the airport why I sketch. I told him it’s the only thing that keeps my restless mind from running endlessly.

Life Planner

Whether your goals are short-term or long-term, you’re more likely to achieve it if you write it out. I find that it gives my goals definition. I start by writing about why I want to achieve this goal. Then I go on to the process. What steps do I need to take to get there? Checklists are what usual made for this part. After that I end with words of encouragement to get myself motivated.

 

 

 

Brace Myself, Winter is Coming

Something that I hate the most in the world is routine. But strangely enough, that’s how my life has been for the past 6 months. I would wake up really early to go to class and then spend the rest of my day working. The only moments I enjoyed were the 10 minute walks from my car to work where I got to soak up the sun and reminiscence about my summer adventures. I guess I could say my life was in a settling state and as much as I dreaded it, I at least had a sense of security.

The universe has a knack for taking the rug that you’re standing on and pulling it out from under you when you least expect it. For me, it was the apologetic look on my managers face as he told me I had a week left with the company. After our talk, I went straight back to work as if nothing had happened. After work, however, may have involved 3 shots and a few beers. That after party was more to blow off some steam rather than a birthday celebration. Yeah, they fired me on my birthday.

As mad as I was, I was also really relieved. No more yelling at random drivers in traffic every single day on my commute to work. No more taking orders from a guy who was not only short in height but possibly short of love from his childhood. No more counting every hour, minute and second until I regain my freedom. If anything, this may be the best birthday gift yet.

I realized, and I feel like this is an obvious thing, that life is too short to be miserable. As I reevaluate and rearrange my life, I ask myself, what’s important to me? What is happiness to me? If I were to picture an awesome life for myself, what would I be doing?

Diving into the unknown is scary, I’m not going to lie. But I’m also excited about the adventures to come. I’ll be walking forward with an open mind (and possibly an empty wallet). Looks like I’m starting my New Years early.

 

 

Making the most of it

 

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I’ve always been terrible at planning. I say this because a lot of times things don’t go according to plan, especially when it came to going on trips. I’ve accepted this fact to the point where spontaneity may as well be my middle name. I figured, why stress yourself out with a set schedule when you can go out there and just, well, go with it?

During the summer I visited a friend in Houston. I lived in Houston for a very short time when I was young. I told my friend this and he was very eager to give me a tour of his home town. He wanted to show me all the great places to shoot in the downtown area. He was especially excited about the JPMorgan Chase tower, which is the tallest building in the city.

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I drove three hours to get there and right as I got there it poured nonstop. In fact, it flooded in certain areas. Not only that, but the Sky lobby observation deck at the Chase Tower prohibited visitors at the time. We went into a Chipoltle  to grab food while we came up with a plan B. At that point, the rain began to pick up. My friend looked defeated.

“What should we do now?” he asked as he looked solemnly out the window.

I wasn’t about to sit out on an adventure just because of the weather. “I guess we’re shooting in the rain,” I said.

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I’ve never shot in the rain before and honestly I was excited for the experience. Even though by the end of it I was soaked from head to toe, I had so much fun. At one point, I was so focused on getting shots that I completely forgot about the weather condition.

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“There’s no such thing as a bad trip.” I forgot where I heard that from but the quote really changed my prospective on adventuring. Your adventure is whatever you make it. It’s your attitude that defines the outcome. You could be at the most gorgeous place in the world and still have a bad time if you so choose. I could have sulked and drove three hours back home. But I wasn’t about to miss the experience of exploring downtown Houston. And isn’t experience is what adventuring is about?

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