Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Penny for My Thoughts

Penny is a family friend and fellow blogger who has posed some great questions in this post. My answers follow. Hopefully you get to know a little more about me. And hopefully my answers aren't too boring to read. :)

1. Which of the four seasons do you most anticipate and why?

Each season is beautiful and the start of each one awakens different senses that may have been dull for a while—especially fall. That is why fall is the season I most anticipate. Fall is the time when nature's beauty is full of vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red. The air is crisp and full of energy. I've always associated fall with good things. There's nothing like walking by a row of beautifully colored trees that capture your attention in a way that makes you forget about all your cares in the world. There's nothing like walking through a pile of crunchy leaves—the sound is somehow therapeutic. And there's nothing like being able to wear any outfit your little heart desires, because the weather is so understanding if you want to wear your summer clothes just a little longer, or if you want to start adding a scarf or hat here and there in anticipation of the upcoming months.

In fact, I was very grateful for this past fall in California because I hadn't had much of a fall the past several years. In Rexburg, fall lasts for maybe, oh I don't know, a day? One memory that my friend Gracie and I like to look back on and laugh about is the lack of the fall season one year at school. I remember walking home from work one night and all the leaves were still green and every single one seemed to still be on their tree branches. When I got up the next morning and left for class, I was in shock because EVERY SINGLE leaf had fallen during the night. It was the strangest thing.

2. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose and why?

This is such a hard question! I'm trying to decide between Avonlea, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Law and Order and Gilmore Girls. That's a strange top four, I know.

Avonlea would be so wonderful. I think Prince Edward Island is heart-wrenchingly beautiful, and I know that I would enjoy dressing up in fashions of the early 1900s. It would just be nice to go back to a simpler time, and the characters are so loving and supportive of each other. Wherever I am in the world, I know that if I watch Avonlea, I will be comforted because it calms me and makes me feel like I am safe in my mother's arms.

Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman is another show that comforts me and can make me nostalgic. It's set in a post-Civil War era in a small, developing western town. In that setting, they always come upon so many adventures that would be exciting to write about and document. It would be an exciting time to be a journalist. Most of the characters make great efforts to help people in need or help people overcome prejudices. It would just be fascinating.

Law and Order would be a difficult one. I think it would be very educational, as I have always had an interest in legislation, law enforcement and the judicial process. The hard part would be seeing the misfortunes and crimes that people come across, but I have always had a love for detective work. I think I would totally rock the trench coat and fedora in the New York setting. I would also probably be in a pair of stilettos. I know that's completely impractical, but hey, it's a TV show, right? Or maybe I would have fun playing the D.A. Hmm ...

And last but not least, Gilmore Girls. My friend once compared the show to chicken noodle soup, and I completely agree. I would just have a blast in that charming, small town setting. I would be thrilled to eat at Luke's Diner, chat with Rory about literature and have witty conversations with everyone around me. It would just be an all-around good time.

3. Which activities make you lose track of time, and how often do you do them?

Writing. Definitely. Especially when I'm writing about something that interests me. I try to write as often as possible. I studied journalism in college, and I haven't stopped writing since that first journalism class. Growing up, I never even entertained the idea of becoming a writer, so it's interesting to see that I've ended up here. But that's a story for a different time. Anyways, it's easy for me to lose track of time when I'm writing because whenever I sit down to put words on paper, it's like I'm taking a completely new journey through my mind. And I never know where I'm going to end up. Writing helps me put my thoughts into cohesive sentences. When I write something, I try to be as true to myself and as open as I can, even though that makes me completely vulnerable. But it's exciting. I never know what I will learn about the world or about myself.

4. What's something you know you do differently than most people?

Maybe this isn't the kind of answer you were looking for when you asked this question, but one thing I think I do differently than most people has to do with how humans place judgment on other humans. I know I'm not the only one and can definitely still be better at this, but I think I try to be less judgmental about others than a lot of people are. Maybe it has to do with my journalism training, which encourages you to never assume something and always interview different sides to present the facts. But when someone catches my attention because they have made me mad or are simply unconventional, I try to make up a story about the possibility of why they do what they do. Like, if someone cuts me off in traffic, I try to tell myself that maybe there is an emergency and they have to get home. That's just one example. If someone is dressed in a way I would never dress myself, I think that maybe they lost a dare or all their other clothes burned in a fire. The stories may be extreme, but I find it really helpful in seeing others as equal. And the stories I make up can sometimes be very entertaining!

5. What do you consider to be the most halcyon season of your life?

I love this question. The season of my life that I consider to be the most halcyon (good word, I definitely had to look this up several times) of my life, had to be the summers I spent as a child in the 90s. The 90s were just awesome. I had a good childhood, my parents always strived their best to make mine and my sister's lives happy (and they still do a good job at that). For some reason, the summers when we lived in Cupertino always come to mind. I remember the beautiful sunshine made for the perfect weather to play outdoors. I have so many happy memories of riding my bike, rollerblading, jumping on my pogo stick, playing with my Skip it, learning new jump rope songs and running through the sprinklers. I also have fond memories of playing indoors with my barbies, polly pockets, Sky Dancer, doll house, Giga pets, and these colorful foam tubes with connectors (don't ask me what they were called). And I got to do all this with my fun friends and fabulous sisters! Though Elise and Rachel were definitely too young to play with this stuff, it was still fun to have them around in that time of my life. Oh my goodness, thinking about all this just makes me smile and wish I could relive even a day of those summers. They were just fantastic. I was a completely care free, happy child. *Sigh.

Penny, thank you so much for these questions! This post was so fun to write.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rethinking Where We Seek Validation

I'm just about a year out of college. A year out of the time in my life where success was measured by a letter grade on a paper. For seventeen years of my life, an 'A' was validation that I had worked hard. Landing internships further validated my hard work. Then, I landed a job. My validation was that I would finally become a fully-functioning, independent adult through means of a paycheck. To me, that was the ultimate validation. And I had it in my hands.

When my plans changed, I no longer felt that all my hard work was validated. But what did I mean by "validation?" Who did I think had the ability to grant this validation? By going through school, one is in a way taught that validation comes from professors, those with the power of the red pen. That led me to believe that my employers would in turn be the ones to validate me. But if there's one thing I've learned in these past few months, is that I must be the one to validate myself. I cannot let anyone else define success for me. I must do it for myself.

Perhaps that's the true meaning of becoming an independent adult. Not relying on the validation of others, but finding validation for yourself—allowing yourself the authority to decide if what you do is worthy or not. You can be independent monetarily, but being independent emotionally is freeing.

So, how do you get there? I don't think there's one universal path to get to that state of mind. But I do believe it starts with work. Any kind of pure, hard work. Then, begin to look for the good in what you do. Let that make you happy. Let that validate you.

I used to find great value in being so incredibly busy. But now I realize that I can still feel successful when I have less on my to-do list. I've learned that I can feel good about myself on the days where I complete even the simplest of tasks. There is success in washing the dishes again. There is success in doing another load of laundry. There is a sort of painful success in completing another set of physical therapy exercises. And despite my high dislike for job searching, there is even success in trying it again the next day.

As long as you put yourself to work on whatever is before you, you can find success. True validation doesn't come from grades or paychecks. Validation comes when you find the simplest reasons to value what you do. When you are comfortable being the one who validates your own work, that is when you can grant yourself truly independent.

Put in an honest day's work, regardless of whether your boss is the head of a multi-billion dollar company or the owner of a small business. Put in an honest day's work if you are the boss of others or if you find yourself only to be the boss of you. And when you find you are comfortable being the boss of you, it is at that point that you are truly free from needing the validation of others.