Sheryl Sandberg’s Commencement Speech at UC Berkeley 

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I am not here to tell you all the things I’ve learned in life. Today I will try to tell you what I learned in death.

One year and 13 days ago, I lost my husband, Dave. His death was sudden and unexpected. We were at a friend’s 50th birthday party in Mexico. I took a nap. Dave went to work out. What followed was the unthinkable — walking into a gym to find him lying on the floor. Flying home to tell my children that their father was gone. Watching his casket being lowered into the ground.

For many months afterward, and at many times since, I was swallowed up in the deep fog of grief — what I think of as the void — an emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even to breathe.

Dave’s death changed me in profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss. But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again. I learned that in the face of the void — or in the face of any challenge — you can choose joy and meaning.

I’m sharing this with you in the hope that today, as you take the next step in your life, you can learn the lessons that I learned only in death. Lessons about hope, strength, and the light within us that will not be extinguished.

You will almost certainly face deep adversity. There’s loss of opportunity: the job that doesn’t work out, the illness or accident that changes everything in an instant. There’s loss of dignity: the sharp sting of prejudice when it happens. There’s loss of love. And sometimes there’s loss of life itself.

The question is not if some of these things will happen to you. They will. Today I want to talk about what happens next. About the things you can do to overcome adversity, no matter what form it takes or when it hits you. The easy days ahead of you will be easy. It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.

A few weeks after Dave died, I was talking to my friend Phil about a father-son activity that Dave was not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave.” Phil put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”

We all at some point live some form of option B. The question is: What do we do then?

Psychologist Martin Seligman found that there are three P’s — personalization, pervasiveness, and permanence — that are critical to how we bounce back from hardship. The seeds of resilience are planted in the way we process the negative events in our lives.

The first P is personalization — the belief that we are at fault. This is different from taking responsibility, which you should always do. This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us.

When Dave died, I had a very common reaction, which was to blame myself. He died in seconds, from a cardiac arrhythmia. I poured over his medical records asking what I could have — or should have — done. It wasn’t until I learned about the three P’s that I accepted that I could not have prevented his death. His doctors had not identified his coronary artery disease. I was an economics major; how could I have?

Studies show that getting past personalization can actually make you stronger. Not taking failures personally allows us to recover — and even to thrive.

The second P is pervasiveness — the belief that an event will affect all areas of your life. There’s no place to run or hide from the all-consuming sadness.

The child psychologists I spoke to encouraged me to get my kids back to their routine as soon as possible. So 10 days after Dave died, they went back to school and I went back to work. I remember sitting in my first Facebook meeting in a deep, deep haze. All I could think was, “What is everyone talking about and how could this possibly matter?” But then I got drawn into the discussion, and for a second — a brief split second — I forgot about death.

That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving, and they carried us — quite literally, at times.

The loss of a partner often has severe negative financial consequences, especially for women. So many single mothers — and fathers — struggle to make ends meet or have jobs that don’t allow them the time they need to care for their children. I had financial security, the ability to take the time off I needed, and a job that I did not just believe in, but where it’s actually OK to spend all day on Facebook. Gradually, my children started sleeping through the night, crying less, playing more.

The third P is permanence — the belief that the sorrow will last forever. For months, no matter what I did, it felt like the crushing grief would always be there.

We often project our current feelings out indefinitely — and experience what I think of as the second derivative of those feelings. We feel anxious — and then we feel anxious that we’re anxious. We feel sad — and then we feel sad that we’re sad. Instead, we should accept our feelings — but recognize that they will not last forever. My rabbi told me that time would heal, but for now I should “lean in to the suck.” It was good advice, but not really what I meant by “lean in.”

But I wish I had known about the three P’s when I was your age. There were so many times these lessons would have helped.

One day my friend Adam Grant, a psychologist, suggested that I think about how much worse things could be. This was completely counterintuitive; it seemed like the way to recover was to try to find positive thoughts. “Worse?” I said. “Are you crazy? How could things be worse?” His answer cut straight through me: “Dave could have had that same cardiac arrhythmia while he was driving your children.” Wow. The moment he said it, I felt overwhelming gratitude that my family was alive. That gratitude overtook some of the grief.

Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings. My New Year’s resolution this year is to write down three moments of joy before I go to bed each night. This simple practice has changed my life. Because no matter what happens each day, I go to sleep thinking of something cheerful.

Last month, 11 days before the anniversary of Dave’s death, I broke down crying to a friend of mine. We were sitting — of all places — on a bathroom floor. I said: “Eleven days. One year ago, he had 11 days left. And we had no idea.” We looked at each other through tears, and asked how we would live if we knew we had 11 days left.

As you graduate, can you ask yourselves to live as if you had 11 days left? I don’t mean blow everything off and party all the time. I mean live with the understanding of how precious every single day would be. How precious every day actually is.

As I stand here today, a year after the worst day of my life, two things are true. I have a huge reservoir of sadness that is with me always — right here, where I can touch it. I never knew I could cry so often — or so much.

But I am also aware that I am walking without pain. For the first time, I am grateful for each breath in and out — grateful for the gift of life itself. I used to celebrate my birthday every five years, and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always. I used to go to sleep worrying about all the things I messed up that day — and trust me, that list was often quite long. Now I try hard to focus on each day’s moments of joy.

It is the greatest irony of my life that losing my husband helped me find deeper gratitude — gratitude for the kindness of my friends, the love of my family, the laughter of my children. My hope for you is that you can find that gratitude — not just on the good days, but on the hard ones, when you will really need it.

I hope that you live your life — each precious day of it — with joy and meaning. I hope that you walk without pain — and that you are grateful for each step.

And when the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are — and you just might become the very best version of yourself.

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook delivered this commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley, in May 2016. I firmly believe in her reminders that you can choose to find joy and purpose in the face of any challenge, and the importance of recognising how precious each day is. 💛

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(First published in the June 2013 Vol. 2.3 of Stone Highway Review)

 

Mornings slip through our fingers, we lay

hammock-bound in vanilla summer’s heat—

you keep telling that myth; in your bed, your painkiller sleep,

and I read Proust stories aloud to the dancing trees, dreaming of Normandy.

Days pass with cumulus clouds, red wine, puppy cuddles,

rain and sadness that seep under the window and swell the sill.

You have been running and running and at night my fingers seek

the new fibers of muscle that pull under your soft skin

like the standard vesture of ships.

On running, gratitude and chasing dreams

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It has always been my dream, to run a marathon. I started taking running seriously four years ago when I signed up for my first 10k race (Condura Skyway Marathon.) My love story with running started when I decided I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle and running has played a great part in my fitness journey. After two years of running and joining races (occasionally), I realized that I needed to create a goal that will challenge me more, that will change me, and that will inspire the people around me, especially my loved ones — for the better. But more than to challenge and to prove to myself that I can do a 42k, the main reason why I joined TBR Smart Dream Marathon is the same reason why I keep on putting my running shoes on and heading out for a run even after a tiring day/week at work. Because running makes me happy. Because running is my constant and I find solace and joy in it. And I thought I needed to finally do the full mary as a way of celebrating my love for this sport. I chose TBR Smart Dream Marathon to be the event where I’ll do my first because I have heard/read so many good things from friends about this one of a kind race and the amazing support and care it gives to first-time marathoners like me and also because I am a chaser of dreams and I don’t think there’s any other race for my first.



I almost didn’t make it to the registration cut-off. I was part of the shortlisted candidates for this year’s batch of dreamers but due to some unfortunate circumstances, I missed the registration cut-off. Looking back at 2015, when I signed up for this (after asking Jaymie if there’s still a slot I could take), it was also the same time I was having dilemma choosing on which career path to take on so it wasn’t that easy. I took a leap, (actually more like a jump of faith) and decided to pursue after my dream career. I am now working with a financial firm which means January-April is busy season. I have to work 12-13 hours a day on weekdays & 6-8 hours on Saturdays which is why it’s difficult for me to commit to a running group but I did follow the program religiously. Running and training for the 42k have really taught me a lot about the values of commitment, perseverance and patience and I think that has played a great part in who and where I am right now. I may not be always present in bull circles and sessions nor the most active in online group chats. I may have missed the chance to meet a lot of wonderful batch mates sooner, but my first marathon is so special to me because as cliché as it sounds, it really made me know myself better, made me realize even more that my heart (and my legs) are indeed designed to travel, to run and to conquer any heights and any races. Waking up before sunrise to run alone, never skipping gym workouts even after spending long hours at work and an hour or two going home, saying no to friends’ and beer Fridays, even skipping on going home to my family so I could train on weekends. Because when your work schedule is so tight or when you have no running group or a coach to train with & there’s no one else to push you, you have to push yourself even harder. When things get tough and you’re thinking of quitting, there’s only your voice to cheer you to move forward. I honestly feel like I’ve made an even closer bond with myself, as crazy as that sounds.

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Last February 21, 2014, I was on a climb aiming for the summit of Mt. Marami. It was a 6-hour or so ascent to campsite then another hour to reach the summit. Last February 21, 2015, I witnessed the infamous sea of clouds in Mt. Pulag. Wasn’t able to see it during my first attempt last 2012 so I decided to give it another try and boy was it memorable. Last year, February 21, I arrived at the race village at 12am. My first ever marathon started at 2am. It’s so surreal to think how linear these moments are. My climb last 2014 and 2015 and last year’s race are all part of my goals/dreams. They’re so much alike except that last year, I didn’t have to look up the sky to see the stars. Because seeing all 800+ runners, dreamers, future marathoners is way more than seeing a sky full of stars. Stars with different dreams, challenges, beliefs and stories within them. I may have not gotten the chance to meet a lot of dreamers personally but I feel grateful to have shared this same journey, this same dream with this community.

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What I like most about my 22 weeks of training for the marathon is the reality that somewhere along the journey, I have learned more about the values of commitment, determination, perseverance and trust in myself. Also, I am grateful that I have become a part of what started as one dream but is now a community, a tribe – united by love & passion for running.

Jaymie Pizarro (The Mother Bull) always says that our lives will change once we cross the finish line of our first marathon. But that isn’t the case for me. Because my life changed when I saw my name in that master list of dreamers. My life changed that same moment I decided to commit to training for 22-weeks. My life changed that one January night when I was already thinking of postponing my first marathon to next year but did the 2-hour LSD the next morning anyway. My life changed when I declined my friends’ invites during the holiday season and trained in Camp Aguinaldo instead. My life changed when I quit eating rice and limited my carbs and sugar intake. My life changed when I decided to be more mindful of what I put inside my body. My life changed along the way to the finish line. And I will forever be grateful for TBR, for Jaymie for helping me arrive here – to where and who I am right now. Crossing the finish line is the cherry on top of such a beautiful and humbling journey though! I remember smiling and then crying when I saw the 41st km mark and thinking to myself, “girl you really did that? You ran those 41 kilometres?! Just 1 more km and you’re done.” I started walking every hundred meters because I didn’t want it to finish yet. It felt nostalgic seeing the finish line so so close and knowing that this part of my dream is about to end. I wanted to savour it, savour every last few meters before I cross that line. It felt as if a trip is about to end & I have to go back home & all I have are beautiful memories of such an amazing journey. But this time, I know I’m not really leaving anything behind. Running has always been a constant for me. All the lessons that I have learned from my TBR marathon experience, I will bring them to wherever the soles of my feet lead me.

I once heard life coach Martha Beck say that she transformed her life by using the philosophy of “you are getting warmer versus you are getting colder” to find happiness. By continuing to drift and lean towards the things that made her happy – aka the “warm” – she found a powerful spring to be deeply happy.

Yes, I happen to find my “getting warmer” moments while running. But this isn’t just about running. You don’t have to be a runner to make this choice. You don’t have to train for a marathon to find your “getting warmer”. Choosing gratitude, to smile and to stay positive is transformational. Instead of feeding off of the negative emotions that come from anxiety or judgement, my body and my muscles thrive when I allow myself to see beauty. And then? I choose to savour it. Running helps me be mindful of this. Some situations are impossible to accept easily. Some feel painful. Others seem void of any beauty. Normally, I’d let myself be dominated by those moments at least temporarily. But what I realize as I ran miles and miles is that I could mute those feelings by overpowering them with awareness and gratitude.

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Running taught me more about myself than anything else I’ve done. Hours spent alone. Nights spent mentally preparing for mornings on my feet. The majority of the runs being ones I never wanted to go on, but I did. 26.2 miles I never thought I’d conquer, but I did.

In the end, I am a person that has always thrived on setting goals and achieving them. But running reminds me to just be grateful. To accept and appreciate the experience for what it was. If gratitude and loving-kindness can work to get me through a slow 5 hours and 55 minute marathon – I figure it is worth a shot in the day-to-day stuff too. Right? Find that passion that keeps you hungry. Keep evolving. It will surprise you. ❤

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Love story; an attempt

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(First published in the 2013 Spring edition of Off the Coast Journal)

Among all the other things, it was the way you told me, “our leftover Korean”

and then plans became suddenly parallel and unfuddled.

It was the way you promised you wouldn’t be a chapter in a book,

a rhetorical question, the postscript of lilies on a grave. Our leftover Korean,

sitting cold like a block in the refrigerator while we got drunk over red wine

and graze at the squishy couch cushions, the fan whirring in the smoky air over

us. It’s poetic, believing we’ll ever amount to something, to anything. It’s gallant.

It smothers your skin tonight, clings to my neck when you bite me. You

swore you wouldn’t be a chapter in a book but I can only promise you

a dedication page, a name in a catalog, a full-page obituary. So let’s go downstairs

and make some cocktails and heat up that bibimbap and you can kiss me

caramel and bruised and bite my tongue for me and I promise, I will forget this forever.

Whip-woo

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How To Survive In A Victim-blaming, Catcalling Society

I’m dancing at a music festival 
when someone behind me 
lays a hand on my shoulder.
I assume it’s a friend until
the hand shifts down my chest.

Burning with vodka and fury
I snatch his wrist, pull around,
and hit him in the jaw.
It doesn’t strike well—
I’ve never punched anyone before—
so I knock him in the gut,
just for good measure. 

I stare at him, doubled over and spit 
Never do that to a woman again,
and then I run fast.
My friends laugh in the car:
You hit a guy! 
but I sit silent and fiery. 

In Quezon City, in Makati,
in Boracay: men leer and
smack their lips and whistle. 
I give them the evil eye,
or flip them off,
or tell them leave me alone; I’m married.

When they churr ganda/sexy/
smile ka naman! sungit mo naman!

I yell puñeta! and they all laugh. 
I’m not sure if they’re laughing at me
for being a girl 
incorrectly speaking swear words, 
or at the idea that anything 
I utter might actually clam them up.

In my unguarded rage I dream of a society
where I am not a public property. I would
march and begin wars 
for my right to wander down a street 
free from fear or danger,
a hundred wars for a day
in which my able body belongs to me alone.
A battalion raised against each cat call. A bullet
for every harry who ever told me to smile. 

“Embrace your flaws.”

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Let that sink in your thoughts even just for a moment.

We all have issues. We all have imperfections. We’re all flawed. We all have mood swings, triggers, egos, unconscious motives and glitches in our systems that have been propagated throughout our lives. The childhood trauma, insecurities, egoic patterns, anxieties and fears buried deep within our subconscious. Pain skeletons of our parents and our grandparents and even our ancestors, confined belief systems and all other higgledy-piggledy shit that we came into this Universe to un-become. Some come with more baggage. Some come with less. But it doesn’t matter because we all have them.

The unpleasing old patterns don’t really go away, never to return forever. Sometimes they do. But they never come to stay forever either. The only difference is that as time passes, we grow in enough awareness to recognize these patterns and we create a space big enough to grip it so that we no longer respond in the unconscious ways that we did before.

I’m perfectly flawed. I have my own funky shits that I need to improve on. I’m not always grounded. I still get wobbly sometimes. I still have my insecurities, fears, worries, triggers, doubts that come up at certain times in certain scenarios. I have been serving and volleying ball with it all since I started recognizing them. I don’t always have my shit together. And that’s okay. Because I do my best to sit with it in awareness. And I can breathe easier knowing that.

We cannot ignore and neglect all the flawed, dark and sad parts. That’s not possible. That’s like hiding the dust under the rug, covering it up with any form of instant pleasure. It’s a temporary predicament but the root isn’t taken out. So it will breed right under, growing and seething until it fumes to surface.

Embracing your flaws doesn’t mean that you are invited to be the shittiest version of yourself and it is okay. It means that you’ve accept your faults and imperfections and you’re bringing it into a powerful space of acknowledgement. We do not need to make things okay instantly. Let your consciousness rise first. Allow all of it to just be with you. Be aware of it. Sit with it, let it have a cup of coffee. Once we’ve allowed it to pervade within, then we can do the mending and the healing.

But we have to love our ugliest parts first, with honor and compassion towards ourselves and others throughout the process. 💚
  

Another Piece About You

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For most of my younger years, my idea of love was grand, monumental and all-consuming. I’m starting to think that the reason for that was because I only based it on all the movies I have watched and all the books I have read. And in those stories, they rarely ever catch the part of the love that really matters. The quiet and average parts. The ordinary days.

Growing up, I always thought true love was bouquets of red roses, dates on Friday nights, little black box that held expensive things, and always knowing what to say, what to do. I thought true love was a kiss in the midst of the rain, deep anecdotes, and the perfect moment. But now that I’m older, I’ve realized it’s not like that at all.

See, because true love for me is ugly Viber chats, and peeing while you’re on the phone. True love is kissing at 6AM despite the morning breath, it’s running on a Sunday despite the temptation from your comfortable bed, it’s singing at the top of your lungs in spite of the wrong tune. It’s saying all the wrong stuff, at all the wrong moments. It’s sarcasm and being honest even when it hurts. It’s late hours of the night when it’s been a long week, it’s sharing a beer and it’s no make up and bad hair. It’s tears from laughter, it’s tears from fights and it’s nothing like any love storybook you’ve ever read.

It’s never running out of things to discuss and to argue about, and it’s being comfortable in the silence of things. True love is watching How To Get Away With Murder though you swore you never would. It’s getting mad over petite things. It’s “run a little faster,” and “you’re late again” and knowing you’re so lucky to hear those every day. It’s spilling your feelings at 2AM when you should be asleep. It’s that old Sinatra song you hear on the radio that always makes you smile. It’s the worst story you could ever imagine, but thank God it worked out anyways. True love is never giving up on the magic. True love is not leaving when things get hard.

I prefer my definition better anyways.

September’s Affirmation: Acknowledging The Bad Days

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Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.

Last week, I had what Daniel Powter would call: a terrible, no-good, very bad day.

I’d slept poorly the night before—possibly because I had a bit too much tea, somewhat late in the day, and possibly because I have a mung bean-sized bladder that doesn’t seem to understand or even care about REM cycles.
In addition to being physically exhausted, I was feeling emotionally consumed. I’d been dealing with a myriad of feelings thanks to PMS, as I prepare to train for my first ever marathon, and as I try my best to manage my time wisely dealing with a number of commitments.

Also, I was feeling a little disappointed with myself. I’d recently slowed my work down a bit, both to allow myself space to process my feelings related to the recent major life decisions I have made and to work on some new creative projects.

Turns out, there’s no logic in expecting that I can simultaneously entertain a tidal wave of emotions to wash over me and bring about something completely unrelated to those feelings.

So on top of anxiety and panic about the ~future~, I was feeling guilty about “wasting time.”

In an attempt to improve my mood, I asked my partner if he wanted to get lunch, but first I needed to stop at the clinic for my medical examination.

I started looking for a GrabCar taxi at around 8 in the morning. Finally found one after 30 minutes. The cab driver took a different route to “avoid the traffic” and also as per his Waze recommendations, we threaded the always flooded area around Mandaluyong City Hall, passed by that always “under-construction” site and then through to Makati Avenue. I was just headed to Buendia cor Paseo. We could have just took EDSA and turned right to Gil Puyat but my gosh. To sum it up, the trip from Shaw Boulevard to Medicard took two and a half grueling hours.

The traffic looks like something you’d see at Enchanted Kingdom, except without the enthusiastic banter you usually hear when people are drawing closer to Space Shuttle.

My patience was right there with my bladder—the size of a mung bean’s—and I really wanted to just go back home instead; but the sooner I finish that medical exam, the sooner I could stop telling myself, “Why are you doing nothing? You have to get that medical exam done!”

I thought, “This will pass quickly,” without any better reason to believe this was true other than wishful thinking. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

After arguing with the driver for a bit, while shifting from leg to leg and wiping sweat from my brow, I said, “Never mind. Just follow what your Waze tells and just please bring me to my destination.”

I hadn’t shouted at him. I hadn’t insulted him. But I’d been rude. I’d been frustrated, impatient, and impolite. I’d vomited “bad day vibes” all over him, then resorted to silence in a huff.

And I felt terrible about it.

“This was so un-The-Wandering-Dakini-like,” I thought. “I should be better than this.”

Should. There was that word again. What’s the worst thing you can do when you’re having a bad day? Pile on more reasons to feel even worse.

So I decided to give myself some break. Did the GrabTaxi driver deserve my attitude? Nope. Could I have been less impatient? Sure. Would it do any good to stress myself over it? Absolutely not.

The next day, after getting a better night’s sleep, I searched for my recent messages and texted the driver.

“Hello, I am not sure if you remember me but I was your passenger yesterday…”

He swiftly responded, “Ah, yes.”

I then asked if I could give him a call and he said it’s fine, so I did.

“Hello, sir. I was rude to you yesterday,” I said, “and I’m sorry.”

It felt strange and vulnerable to say this to a stranger, but I was sorry.

I was sorry because I imagine his job isn’t easy. And the sun was beating down on him too. And he didn’t get to run out when I did, to eat lunch, go home, and de-stress.

He was doing his job—and a good job at that—and I was sorry I treated him poorly.

“It’s okay,” he said. “I know how it is when you have an important appointment to attend to.”

“I was just having a really bad day,” I said, “and you were right. I should have instructed you which route to take.”

“It’s okay,” he said again. “We all have bad days.”

Where I stood just yesterday, feeling rude and guilty, I now stood feeling gentle and considerate. I doubt he knew it, but he gave me an amazing gift. He reminded me that my worst moment didn’t even have to define me.

I have the freedom to choose to do something differently. I could choose to take responsibility, admit my faults and accept the consequences, and do better today than yesterday.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve come to realize I’m a lot like that smartphone application “Waze—messy and far from perfect. I make mistakes. I’m not always very gentle or polite. Sometimes I let my feelings get the best of me. Sometimes I don’t deal with things very well.

But maybe these little messiness are big opportunities. Maybe the worst of humanity can give way to the best of us.

Maybe every moment of impoliteness is a good day waiting to happen. Okay, so that’s kind of corny, and maybe a little idealistic. And I realize there are certain scenarios when people are far harsher than I was, and far less understanding than the driver.

But I know next time I encounter someone who seems rude, I’ll remember how I felt that very day. I’ll keep in mind that I’m likely not seeing them at their best, but this, in any way, doesn’t define who they are.

Then I’ll look them in the eye and think to myself, “It’s okay. I understand how it is. We all have bad days.”

When we plant the seeds of what we really want in our lives, trust that in setting our intentions, love and patience out there; our dreams will eventually come true. What we put out and what we expect are EXACTLY what life will deliver to us. I want to share my favorite Zig Ziglar quote to inspire you as this month ends: “What you send out – comes back. What you sow – you reap. What you give – you get. What you see in others – exists in you. Remember, life is an echo. It always gets back to you.”

Evolvere 

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“Then, she began to breathe, and live, and every moment took her to a place where goodbyes were hard to come by. She was in love, but not in love with someone or something, she was in love with her life. and for the first time, in a long time, everything was inspiring.” – R.M. Drake 

I know I have posted many literary pieces lately, but I can’t help myself. I find the words resonate so well. So simply yet so strongly.  

A few friends of mine are going through times of change. Yes, mostly career-based. And it’s tough; tough to watch them struggle with changes of heart. The contractions the heart makes when it’s wrenched out. However, these individuals are stronger than they know.  

As I am now approaching my mid-twenties, I have found the desire to be more selfish with myself. This is it, my little kittens. This is the time you have for you. For you to find the you, and become the you, that you’ve always envisaged. This is the time to fully develop the life that’s just started to take roots.  

There is no need to play the blame game or guilt trip here. There is no one to blame when hearts are meant to deal with these changes, insecurities, shifts and growths.  

In the end, happiness can’t be bought. It can’t be measured by the goals we set marked with time-sensitive stamps. As cliche, as poor cliche, as it sounds – life is meant to be lived. Lived by you and the relationship you build with yourself. Others can come secondary. And will come secondary because the stronger you are on your own, the more attractive you become.  

Life is meant to be lived through the difficult times and to be embraced during the golden times. The lows will take you higher; look up. Remember: “the harder you slam the ball into the ground, the higher it bounces back up.” Trust me. And when you finally realize that there is just so much opportunities and good things out there, you’ll unintentionally become inspired. It’s a beautiful thing.  

Love comes in many ways, in a myriad of forms; the moment you breathe in the essence that comes along with letting go of preset novelties you have set in front of yourself, the swifter clarity will come.  

You know what the golden secret is? Let it evolve the way it’s planned, loosen your firm grip and give way to the bigger picture. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll find – how naive you really are to even think that things won’t get better for you.  

Times? Times will always get better, ALWAYS. And so will you and your life. So unbind and know that you’re not alone in feeling confused or lost. Everyone feels this way sometimes. And before you know it, you’ll exhale a sense armed with an inner-power that will cross a serendipitous route, which will seemingly walk you through to something unexpectedly otherworldly.  

Above all, value and appreciate the relationship you have with yourself. It’s ever evolving and to sum it all up quite simply: that’s the greatest thing about this beautiful life. You do you. xx

coup de coeur

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Back in college, one of my Philosophy professors lectured wildly about love once. He asked the class if we believe in “love at first sight.” Everyone shrugged, puttered with their phones: no, not really.

“But what about coup de coeur,” a girl said, and even with my limited French I knew instantly what she means. A coup d’etat means “the sudden overthrowing of a state” and so I thought: “the sudden overthrowing of a heart.”

My professor asked if that wasn’t the same thing and she said “Well, not really, I don’t think so, I think they have distinct meanings. I am not sure if you can truly love someone without really knowing them but a coup de coeur,” and here she made a sort of gesture to indicate abruptness, or shock, “I think that really happens.” 

That reminded me of how once I watched a man walked out of the elevator and everyone else in the room went into soft focus and then fuzzed out and disappeared, and how I can keep replaying that moment in my memory like it’s on a film, and I decided she was right. I looked around and the entirety of the class was staring at her, and a couple of people were nodding, but everyone had sort of gazed over. Not the antsy, Twitter-checking inattention of earlier, but all of us in some other room or city or across stated or an ocean, seeing someone for the first time, all over again.