“Everybody Dies, But Not Everybody Lives”

I came across a really nice video a while ago. It not only cheered me up at a time when I was feeling low, but it also got me thinking. The main idea was something along these lines:

Most people don’t regret what they’ve done. They regret what they didn’t do.

This past winter semester of college was possibly the most stressful I have experienced thus far. Now that it’s the middle of summer and my head has cleared a little bit, it’s beginning to hit me how fast everything is going by. I’ll be honest – last semester wasn’t the most enjoyable. I felt like a workhorse, constantly toiling, but without a clear end in sight. I was so caught up in struggling to stay on the boat that I lost sight of where the boat was going, and I forgot to enjoy the ride.

Watching this video made me realize that I still have my whole life ahead of me. I realized that I don’t want to waste it away “sweating the small stuff.” There are so many things to do, places to explore, goals to fulfill. And I don’t want to look back on my life fifty years from now and say, “If only I had…”

I think it’s easy to forget, especially at certain points in life, that whatever we’re going through is a small piece of a larger puzzle. This is precisely what I did last semester, and I don’t want to spend another one like it. But sometimes it seems to me that life is a paradox. People tell you to think of the “big picture” but they also tell you to “live in the moment.” So what does it mean? Well, from the perspective of a college student, it means keeping in mind that studying all night and cramming for tests is part of a larger goal, a greater purpose. That’s the big picture part.

But the big picture is made up of small memories that stand out in your mind. I like to imagine life as a string of pearls – a collection of shining moments. Like a beautiful spring day with a balmy breeze that makes you feel like you’re by the ocean if you close your eyes (how often do those come along?) or an evening spent laughing with your best friends. I guess if we barrel through life just wanting to get to the end of our big picture, we don’t realize how much we’re missing. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “I want to live deep, and suck out all the marrow of life.”

If you’re looking for some inspiration, take a moment to watch this video!

Glitter Glue Heart

If you haven’t already, you should check out the new page I added to the poetry section: pastiches. And scroll down until you find the poem called “Glitter Glue Heart.” I just wanted to talk a little bit about this poem because I wholeheartedly enjoyed writing it and it makes me really happy whenever I go back and read it. It was inspired by Taylor Mali’s “Silver-Lined Heart.” At the end of the poem, Mali urges the audience to “put your goddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!”

So I did exactly that in my poem. And you know something? Once I did that, once I essentially made a list of things that make me happy, I felt so incredibly good. More than good. I felt… liberated, somehow. Relaxed. Peaceful. And alive. I felt like everything was going to be just fine, and I felt like life truly is a beautiful thing. And every time I read it, I feel the same way.

To focus only on what is good seems like a pretty deceiving way to live life. But I think it’s equally deceiving to live a life focused only on what is bad. And unfortunately, that’s what seems to happen to a lot of us. We’re caught up in our own stressful lives – stress from school, work, relationships – and then we get exposed to so much negativity in the media. I know there’s a lot that’s not right in the world. But I think it’s okay to realize that there’s a lot that is right, too. And just because someone else somewhere else might not be happy doesn’t mean we need to feel guilty for being happy.

One of my professors shared this with our class last semester: www.goodnewsnetwork.org

It’s basically a website dedicated to sharing good news. I wouldn’t use it as my primary source to know what’s going on in the world, but it’s a nice addition to whatever news you may already be following. It covers topics like science, business, sports, health, and world news. It has a lot of interesting and uplifting information – and it’s a nice reminder that there’s a lot of good things happening out there.

Now, I encourage you – what are you for? What makes you live? In Taylor Mali’s words, “Tell me what inspires you, what fulfills and fires you, put your goddamn pen to paper and tell me what you’re for!”


I’ll admit I wasn’t too sure what to write about today, but since I resolved to update my blog at least once every weekend, I told myself I would just start writing and hope that something coherent (and if I was lucky, interesting) would come out of it.

And then I remembered this discussion we had last week in my English class about happiness, and it got me thinking.

Here’s what the dictionary has to say about happiness: the quality or state of being happy.

And since that’s not exceedingly helpful, here’s how it defines happy:

characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy: a happy mood; a happy frame of mind.

But what does that even mean? And – and how can you take something so beautiful, so thrilling, and put such a boring label on it?

You know that feeling you get after doing something nice for someone and watching that person smile?

The feeling of waking up in the morning, yawning and rubbing your eyes and feeling like crap, and then finding out it’s a snow day?

Clicking “print” after spending hours and hours on an essay?

Crossing something off on a list of things to do?

And (although this is probably just me) making tea at 3:27 pm?

Okay, well that’s happiness. It’s not some dictionary definition, and it’s certainly not a goal you’re trying to reach.

If you have a goal, a dream, a passion, there is no reason you can’t aim for it and be happy at the same time.

I agree that surrounding yourself with positivity is important, and motivational speakers are great, and yes, you can choose what you want your outlook on life to be – whether you want to dwell on the positive or negative – and it’s true that you don’t ever have to compromise your happiness.

But in the end, happiness is something that fills your heart, that isn’t artificial, and that can’t be measured or defined.

You can tell me about dopamine levels and all that, and the whole scientific side of it. I don’t care. I’d still like to think it’s something more. So here’s to happiness: the simplest, most complicated, and most beautiful feeling in the world.

Wishing you all a happy day… er, week… ah! Life! A happy life to all.

Learning to Breathe

There are many times when I feel so ridiculously caught up in work and school and stress and whatnot that I drown.

I drown in the sea of homework, tests, quizzes, obligations, extracurricular activities, etc. I even drown in my own writing – because all of a sudden even the things I love to do, like reading and writing poetry, seem like work.

I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world who feels this way. But I think I’ve figured out a sort of solution.

You have to learn to breathe underwater.

It’s not easy to do (it’s anything but easy!), though it’s very easy to say. But there are different ways of doing it, and I think if you can find what’s right for you, it really helps. A lot.

I started this thing a while back that I like to call my Journal of Inspiration. It’s basically a collection of things that inspire me or brighten my mood – pictures, poems, Dove wrappers with inspirational messages, etc. Any little scrap of motivation goes in my Journal.

On the very first page is my oath:

The Oath

1. No worry or fear is to enter this notebook.

2. This notebook is meant solely for non-academic purposes.

3. I am not allowed to use pencil in this notebook because I should be AM unafraid of making mistakes.

4. I promise to write what resides in the very depths of my heart.

It might seem silly, but this is what lets me breathe underwater. Today I sat at the kitchen table and taped a picture of a flying baby in my Journal. Underneath I wrote, “If a flying baby isn’t inspirational, I don’t know what is.”

I have poems by Shel Silverstein and Rudyard Kipling in there, along with some of my own poems. I even taped Halls cough drop wrappers in there – because there’s “a pep talk in every drop.”

I guess learning to breathe means finding something that you really love to do and that makes you smile. For me, it’s taping things into my Journal and flipping through it on gloomy days – days when I don’t feel motivated to work on my manuscript or start hacking away at that mountain of homework.

Obviously none of the work I have to do is going to go away. But I think motivation is important – and my Journal serves not only to motivate me, but to remind me why I work so hard for the things I love. I work on my manuscript because writing is my passion. I work hard in school because I value education and want to be more knowledgeable.

And I think sometimes we ignore that little voice that screams “Don’t give up! You can do it!” But if we can find something that makes us smile, that allows us to breathe underwater when we’re drowning in work, we’ll be much happier. And I think we’ll find more meaning in the things we work so hard for in life.