Thursday, April 28, 2011

Xeroxing X

Xerox |ˈzi(ə)rˌäks|noun trademarkxerographic copying process.• copy made using such a process.• a machine for copying by xerography.
Can I breathe yet? I am completely dumb-struck and in awe that the end of April is here, not to mention my boyfriend's birthday tomorrow! These past couple of weeks have made me almost resent writing and blogging for that matter thanks to the ridiculous amount of added-on papers, cover letters, and thank you letter's I've had to make up. Not to mention all the running around the city in between class breaks. Note to self: do not sign up for writing challenges when trying to simultaneously graduate from graduate school and find a job within my career!
It's too soon to tell what is going on in my life. Or is it? 
I don't know, but I can sure as diddly say that I wish I could xerox myself to get through this next week and a half!
Can I get an a-men?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Well-being Wants W

Being a holistically, humanistic oriented counselor always has me thinking about my own well-being. Not to mention that ever since I moved to the Big Apple my being it self has been all over the place, despite incorporating and focusing all these positive adjustments.

But I'm starting to wonder if I'm going about it all wrong.

Maybe, after all, it is not in my body's best interest to become wholly aligned. Maybe, I should stop focusing on achieving internal harmony and proudly help myself to that medium serving of french fries. Maybe, I should listen to what I want instead of believing what scientists and often-sued doctors have "proven" I should want.

Maybe, I should just let my body, mind, and spirit have whatever it wants- whatever that may be.

How do you live your life? Do you believe in moderation and/or alignment or do you "do what you want when you want!"?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V's Variability

variable |ˈve(ə)rēəbəl|adjectivenot consistent or having a fixed pattern; liable to change 
Before taking the billions of research oriented classes I've taken, I never really understood the term variable.
Now I do. Oh how I do. And it has come to be one of my favorite words.
I like the fact it can be easily applied to several situations- taken out of scientific context and variably used. (hah!) I like that its soft sounding and includes the word "able" making it sound positive. 
And, most importantly, I like the fact that it describes a loyal aspect of my own nature: having a fixed pattern of inconsistency. (More or less). I like to pretend that I'm consistent. Heck sometimes I even thoroughly believe myself. But then something happens and I'm back at it all over the place. Changing plans, making big moves. Delusional with dreamy expectations.
And I (sometimes) love it. After all, what is life without a bit of variability?

Do you have any particularly favorite words? Or do you have a habit of taking words out of their original context and applying them generously?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Unicorn-ly U

Thanks to Lisa Frank, I grew up an avid believer in unicorns. She also had me under the impression that cats and dogs could, in fact, get married and have puppies and kittens together.


No. My point is, despite never actually seeing a unicorn I believed in them. And that their shiny iridescent horns held some magical powers.

I'm taking it back to the age old saying/ thought process/ state of mind that seeing isn't always believing.

Is it?

I don't think so. I've been blessed with getting practically every thing I've ever wanted- eventually. Now I'm not saying I've been given handouts. But one way or another my life has worked itself out to give me the things that I need and want at one point or another. Maybe not immediately, but eventually things work out.

I need a job. I need to decide where to live. What do to with my future.

And I need to remember to believe... that things will work themselves out... like they always do.

Sometimes we just have to believe in unicorns.

Are you a believer? Or do you at least believe in unicorns?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T's Tolerating Time's Temperamentally

Is it just me or has time been spiraling at a ridiculous pace? Most days I feel as if the day itself is never ending but come nightfall I wonder where the time went. Not to mention I still can't believe it's the end of April. Wasn't I just on winter break in January whining about tearing my ligament?

I remember complaining about the seemingly endless summer breaks during grade school: too hot to play outside, pools too crowded to enjoy the urine infested water, and butt imprint firmly mapped on the living room sofa. Now I have a hard time holding on to the few moments I have to relax between days.

And why is it that when you want time to speed up it it thrives on slow motion? And when you need a few extra minutes you just can't seem to catch a break?

Father Time, I know you want us all to our existence in this whirlwind clock. But can't you just give a sistah a break someTIMES?

How do you feel about the Time's Tempermental-ness? Can you enjoy each moment or do you find yourself wondering where the last 24 hours, year, decade went?

Friday, April 22, 2011

S's Smiley face


This is a main motto in my life. Even if it's not a completely genuine smile, just displaying that grin will gradually help it grow into authenticity. Like sneezes, smiles are contagious.

Smiling, I believe (and has been "proven"), makes others likely to smile in reciprocity. And simply smiling at someone who gazes your way may have such a positive impact on their day: you never know when someone else desperately needs a friendly twinkle.

Even in my current state of on the verge of being swallowed by work and others irresponsibility. I'm trying to grin and bear in. Move forward through the next two weeks of intensity.

As Vitamin C once sang, "put a smile on your face, make the world a better place".

"Story of my life", Custom shirt, Downtown Disney April 2011-

Side note: I'd also like to come back and revisit this topic when I have a chance to breathe and properly articulate my thoughts.

R's Resilience (risking resistance for resting relaxation)

Deer goodness. I am quite literally drowning in work and angry group members- talk about a major case of resistance of trying to cooperate together to finish a stinking silly paper.

I haven't had the chance to adequately think about this topic because of said silly group, difficult professors, and running on 2-3 hours of sleep per night. But, this is a topic I really want to delve into at a later date- when I have been a bit rested and relaxed and far far away from the negative resistant attitudes of stubborn group members.

This is me being resilient to the silly situation. Bouncing back to try to completely my own goals in the best way possible that I can manage right now. Operative term being "right now".

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Questioning q's quintessence


1. the pure and concentrated essence of a substance.
2. the most perfect embodiment of something.

It seems like forever ago when I posted this, though it is still relevant. Especially after this weekend's play-cation.

What characteristics compose me? What desires? What needs? Some people can rattle off a laundry list by memory of what defines them. But me? Not so much. Like my moods, my necessities tend to fluctuate around the ideas of love, laughter, family, nature, and comfort.

But this weekend rattled what I had thought had become a somewhat stable mentality.

You see, I'm a native Miami-an. I skipped town in 2005 to embark on collegiate wonders renouncing the state of Florida with its perpetual heat. Here I am, six years later wondering if Florida really is so bad. This weekend I was reminded how much I miss the simplicity of being able to see grass, the remarkable difference that an ocean breeze has on rising temperatures and in turn my sanity.

Maybe it's because I'm still partially in a playcation-coma, and maybe it's partially due to the overwhelming anxiety about if I'll be able to land a job in NYC. (And I'm not going to lie, a BIG part is because I have been absolutely miserable the past two completely unbearable NYC summers.)

So what is my quintessence at this point in my life? I guess I'll have to see....

What is the "pure essence of you"? Or what would be the "perfect embodiment of something" for you?

Playful P

I thought I had managed to post yesterday from my phone. But apparently I'm not that crafty yet. Here are a few quick flicks taken from my fancy phone. 

We got home late last night and I'm still in a vacation coma. Hopefully I'll be able to write and visit everyone within the next day. Who knew a mini 3-day play-cation could leave you totally pooped?

Quick point being, play is a necessity in life! Despite being totally exhausted, we had a blast and definitely needed the chance to play around :)

Butterbeer is better, Harry Potter World, IOA, April 2011
Story of my life, Downtown Disney, April 2011

Ohana means family <3, Epcot, April 2011

Day 2 beginnings, IOA, April 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Opportunistic O

I love to use the word "opportunity". Not because I'm necessarily an adamant go-getting, but because it is realistic euphemism for anything.

"Why are you going for a walk Michelle?"
"Oh you know, give my bones an opportunity to stretch and brain some room to jiggle!"

"Why do you want this job?"
"Oh because it would be an amazing opportunity for clients to have someone to really listen to, and for myself to learn from their strengths"
Yes, this is a weak post and I could do so much more with it. But, I "auto-tuned" it because I'm having a blast in Disneyworld!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nice nilly-nally, N

Why is it so hard to come by genuine niceness?

Maybe it's just me, but I seem to encounter all kinds of not-really-niceness all over the place. In Miami, there was a sense of pride, a feeling of obligation to be nice to elders and those in your inner circle- but if an outsider came sniffing by your territory they were often barked at. In Pennsylvania, people seemed genuinely nice to your face but often gossiped and lied behind your back. And New York? Well, here people don't even pretend to be nice. Chivalry and respect seem to be non-existant and the few times someone may tentatively hold a door for you, you have to run to make it because within seconds that moment of niceness is right down the sewers.

I'm a generally nice person, but sharing and compromise aren't exactly part of my nature. Though I do put forth considerable effort to extend my hand to close friends when they need it. Mostly, not thinking of expecting anything in return.

But. The few times where I have been in dire need of their open hands, I reach out only to find a clenched fist. I can't help but wonder why this keeps happening and beyond that, why do I keep putting forth the effort to contradict my own nature?

I guess this is part of growing up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

M is for Michelle's mother Mabel

Thanksgiving 2009, Camp Hill, PA
My mom is a bit bananas. And significantly older than me (she had me at 39 in the 80s!) Now that I'm older and not constantly surrounded by her, I can appreciate her level of looniness.

Like many mother and daughters, we had quite the rough patch during my teen years. Partly I attribute to her menopause, partly to my hormonal teenage-ary, partly because a lot of anger I had in me from their divorce came out. She kicked me out of the house so many times I ran out of friends to stay with.

But, for the most part we have overcome these bouts of emotional lunacy. Again, I believe this is mainly because we don't live in the same immediate radius. (If I were, I'm positive she would randomly burst into my house whenever she wants without notice, because thats her nature...and thats what she does to my brother.)

Now that I'm a bit older and very slightly wiser, I can understand my mom better when she hits her lows or becomes too needy. I can also tolerate my temper enough to not yell at her for silly things: I can pick our battles.

And interestingly enough, my mom now regards me as an "expert" and often asks me my opinion on psychologically or any brain-sciency oriented things. (Oh how the tables have turned!) My mom is NOT a dumb lady. I might have been a latch-key kid out of necessity, but she did the best she could to satisfy my wants beyond my needs. I look at some of my friends that grew up in dual-parent households and I see the difference of how growing up with a single mom had a positive effect on my sense of self.

For better or worse, I've inherited her: mood swings, sense of independence, strength, smile, sense of humor, cleanliness...and that's about it. When I think about it, we are far more different than similar. But we get along. And she's always by my side when I need her.

Every year I write her a nice letter for mothers day and her birthday. I'm (almost) 24 and I usually make her a cheesy present instead of buying one- and she always loves it because she's that kind of mom. And I know I don't say it much aloud, but I love her for being my mom, being herself, and teaching me how to become a strong woman.

Thanks, mom.

New Years 2007, Jojo's, Camp Hill, PA
New Years 2008, Jojo's, Camp Hill, PA

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life with L

Is it really April 14??? Talk about an eventful week. Lack of time is leading me to loosely post my life in pictures from the week. I guess there really are only so many hours in a day....
Subway Art, 6 train, April 2011
Sunnyside and the livin ain't too sunny, April 2011

Chelsea Drear, Chelsea, April 2011
(no filters)
Melanie & Andrea & May, Hospital Part Deux, April 2011

PB&J Doughnut, Doughnut Plan LES, April 2011
Bird Skull?, SoHo, April 2011

If only... (LOLCats)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kidding around with K

Crazy Rafiki, Disneyworld May 15 ,2009
I am not a serious person. I can be serious for a while. I can act like a grown up. But my nature is to laugh, hysterically. I kid around like nobody's business. I find terribly corny jokes hilarious. I live for fun.

I get this sense of juvenile joy from my mom. My mom is all about embracing the humor in life. It's also part of the reason why I want to work with kids. So much fun, so innocent, so exciting.

This weekend we're going to Disneyworld- honestly my favorite place in the world tied with the beach. We planned it last month and I have had this overwhelming sense of joy ever since. It feels like I have a nebula in my chest ready to explode with fun and excitement.

Don't wanna, Disneyworld May 16, 2009

Do you like to kid around? Do you think those that do are childish? What do you find fun?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J is to joie de vivre

Joie de vivre (French pronunciation: [ʒwa də vivʁ]joy of living) is a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit. Joie de vivre

joie de vivrenounif there is one symbol that represents French society and its joie de vivre, it is theParis caféjoyfulnesscheerfulnesscheerinesslightheartedness,happinessjoygaietyhigh spiritsélanjollityjovialityexuberance,ebulliencelivelinessvivacityverveeffervescencebuoyancyzest,zestfulnessinformal pepzingliterary blitheness. ANTONYMS sobriety,depression.
I first heard this phrase not too long ago and fell in love. Those French- always so clever with their abstract concepts-turned phrases. Then I thought about it. Why don't Americans have a translatable phrase for this? Oh that's right, because the American way is to live to work, not work to live.

Right now I can't say I'm much different, stuck balancing all these different identities in my life like many others. (Why do we create so many identities for ourselves? That's a whole other topic).

But it seems so obvious: the joy of living. How often do we fall ill and pronounce life-altering changes like, "when I feel better I'm going to be on top of the world..." and then end up reverting back to our old, over-consumed, preoccupied, stressed ways?

I know I can be guilty of this. Which is why I made one of my life-resolutions to start enjoying more, stressing less. After all, our life is composed of many "too beautiful a day not to share it with the flowers".

How often do you genuinely feel joie de vivre?

**And thank you everyone who sent well-wishes for my friend. She was just released from the hospital and sends her thanks as well!*

Monday, April 11, 2011

I's Insight versus Ignorance?

**My best friend who has been living with us was admitted to the hospital yesterday morning and will most likely be there through tomorrow. Point being I have barely left the hospital which has no service. Again, sorry for not having the chance to visit blogs but I’m running on 3 hours of sleep and all over Manhattan/Queens**

My belief as a therapist is that insight will enable individuals to overcome adversity and achieve progress towards their self-actualizing process.

But this article brings about a good point. Does insight always help? Sure, ignorance can be blissful but it depends your philosophy on life, I suppose. If you’re looking for a quick fix and purposely avoiding the intricacies of life as you know it then gaining insight will probably have a negative impact (at first) if you’re not quite ready to delve into that arena. Though working through it can help.

Life, as I’ve learned, is all about timing.

Are you for insight or “ignorance”? I like to think I’m insightful but there are certainly times when I choose ignorance over awareness.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

H's Happiness Health

There are flowers everywhere for those who look- Matisse

Over the past decade or so, the field of positive psychology has flourished thanks to researchers such as Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihaly among several others. And it's just about everywhere we look in pop culture. It's all about making yourself happy, what's wrong with you that you're not like people in commercials with giant smiles running through a grassy field with dogs.

But happiness is particularly important to me. Not necessarily because I strive to avoid unhappiness- that's not healthy. My family has a long, long history of "mental health issues". Enough so that my main priority as of recent years is to keep track of my happiness meter to evade the scary shadow of emotional catastrophe.

So what do I do? I'm far from figuring out what makes me tick and a part of me doesn't even want to know that much. But I try to eat well, observe my emotional characteristics, and semi- recently took up actively exercising.

After all, it's not about just knowing. It's about learning and living.

Luke: What's in there?
Yoda: Only what you take

What makes you happy?

Friday, April 08, 2011

G's Gratitude

Today, I am grateful for surviving the first session of a seven hour class I am required to take the over the next four Fridays. Whoever came up with the idea to create a "modified schedule course" for evaluation methods is very, very silly.

But I am grateful for making it back home. For my health, for my family, for the incredible amount of love in my life, for all the support I receive.

On a more global level, I'm grateful for the goodness both of and in people, for the fact that we still live in a somewhat liberal society, and that the world hasn't ended yet!

And this evening, I am grateful that I have a lovely comfortable bed that I am going to conk out in within the next five minutes. My brain has officially evaporated.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Faithfully F

Faithfully frazzled that is. The past few days have been an absolute blur- I can't even remember what I did Tuesday but I remember frantically flying through the city. Yesterday involved a long, long, job interview process which ended with me most likely getting a job. Point being, I've been so busy I've barely even opened my computer because the few moments I've had to relax I've spent them vertically with eyes closed. (AKA sorry for not getting around to blogs)

Faith is a tricky subject for me. And I'm not necessarily speaking to the religious and spiritual aspects of it but rather faith in myself and those closest to me. Until recently, I had never quite correlated the idea of confidence and faith as synonymous. But they are.

And it ties into the idea of accepting oneself. Right now, I'm on the precipice of several things and if I miscalculate my moves I'll waver and crash head first into an eight ounce glass of water without the freedom to wiggle. Trying to manage the last five (hopefully) stressful weeks of graduate school in order to graduate on my 24th birthday, searching for a job within my field, balancing my needs for financial security with the needs of Jonathan at this phase in his life, and family.

I'm weary of not choosing the right path per say. But on some level, I've managed to create a sense of faith in myself. Maybe because I have the avid support of friends and family; they've managed to instill this loving security blanket around me. But at the same time, I've realized I've yet to drastically misstep in my life.

I've blundered a bit, but I've bounced back harder. So if I slip and flail through the air, I have faith there will be a trampoline waiting for me at the bottom to ricochet me back towards the sky. Everything happens for a reason.

What do you have faith in?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

E is to Empathically Emote

"When you extract a splinter it hurts, briefly, but then you feel relief, even pleasure. When you find a fault in yourself it will hurt, briefly, but it you keep going and acknowledge the fault, you are likely to be rewarded with a flash of pleasure that is mixed, oddly, with a hint of pride. It is the pleasure of taking responsibility for your own behavior. It is the feeling of honor."
-Jonathan Haidt- The Happiness Hypothesis

Obvious: We are emotional creatures.
Not so obvious: Sometimes what we think are emotional reactions are really our brains interpretation of      them turning them into thoughts.
Semi-obvious: It's much harder to identify the fundamental emotion underlying said thoughts

Maybe all of the above statements are well-known facts, but I learned them the hard way (graduate program in mental health counseling anyone). Where you're graded on discovering emotional awareness, insight, and developing appropriate cognitive reactions in yourself in order to then help others.

And these emotional experiences affect our self-esteem (obvious). And this in turn affects are ability to empathize. We may confuse our own emotional/thought processes as an attempt to demonstrate to our friends we understand them, that we hear them.

But do we? Think about it. How often are you having a conversation with a friend when you say "Man, I feel your pain" but what you're really doing is rehashing your own experience and projecting it on to another? How often do you ask others how they are doing and let them get by with a simple "Fine, Great, How are YOU?"

My point is, we think of tend to think of emotions as a by product of life when the truth is that for most of us our emotions are unconsciously or not, the driving force maneuvering our thoughts, our actions, and broadly our overall existence. But we tune out, instead of tuning in creating barriers in communication.

And quite frankly, I think its time to start tuning in. Because if we can't figure our how we're feeling we're far from capable of empathizing with others and creating meaningful connections.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

D to Do less doing

"If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading" -Lao Tzu

What ever happened to the act of less is more? Specifically, doing less. But where should we draw the line as to what constitutes the positive aspects of "doing less"? They say the purpose of technology is/was to maximize our productivity: less effort into each project amounts to having Xtimes more projects to do.

These days quantity seems to surpass the importance of quality. We're glued to our smart phones because they hold our 10 different fancy apps for all of our different tasks because we've adapted to the paradox of consumerism so much so that we can't seem to decide what silly app is best for us. (Or maybe this is my personal experience when discovering the capabilites of my iPhone).

Where are we headed when are heads aren't even looking at our direction? We rely on GPS to get places instead of learning the routes. We use twitter to masturbate our need for "connection" in as few words as possible. We immerse ourselves into everything and anything because we want more more more with less effort, less thought, less emotion attached.

I'm all for doing less. But only if doing less leads to being able to relax- not doing more of everything else.

Here's to doing less.

Monday, April 04, 2011

C is for Character (istics)

character |ˈkariktər|nounthe mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual runningaway was not in keeping with her character.• the distinctive nature of something gas lamps give the area its character.• the quality of being individual, typically in an interesting or unusual way the island is full of character. 

Personality is a rather fixed set of characteristics and traits. Some inherited others well, not so much. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm dramatizing my natural characteristics to fulfill certain personas. And there have been times when I have been described as "being a character".

But what characteristics compose my disposition?

Stubbornly adamant, slightly obsessive, passionately slothish, romantically motivated, sleepily hyper, shyly silly, whimsically catlike, cunningly witty.

I think about my closest friends and my family. People I encounter in random circumstances. Everyone is a character in their own right. And I wonder, is that because I've (or we've) made them out to be? Or is it safe to say their characteristics have crafted their own character?
"CatLady",  April 2011

What defines your Character?

Saturday, April 02, 2011

B is Between Being Balanced

I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, I speak like a child.
— Vladimir Nabokov

I wanted to hold this post off until the last moment because I was struggling between deciding between balance and being. Here I am with the moments ticking still unsure of where to go, and where to find my own balance in being.

So I'm just going to Be. Being is such an effort. You know, really being. Being conscious of your thoughts, your emotions, your movements. It's easier to drift off and focus on space- or the absence of space in my mind. It's easy to be sucked into the vacuum that entails our daily existence. But it takes power to become aware of ourselves.

But Being is not just what we are as sentimentally propelled creatures. It's cyclical. We must be in order to become. We must become in order to be. And as we do so, we must maintain balance to bloom.

"To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it's like you have 4 legs instead of 2. That way, you can stay in the world. But you must stop looking at the world through your head. You must look through your heart." 
-Elizabeth Gilbert

Friday, April 01, 2011

A is for Acceptance

"Ruin is the road to transformation" - E. Gilbert

Last night's meltdown was dramatic and long awaited. In retrospect, most of my life has been comprised of similar events. Which brings me to my point: no matter how many "self-help" books I read, and how much I study psychology in a partially vain effort to figure myself out, I will be stuck on this rickety, treadmill until I learn to and can fully (to my ability) accept myself.

I know, I know. Obviously not groundbreaking. But in the wee hours of this morning as I panicked about what my future may not hold and looked into the mirror and saw a face swollen with fear to the point of  masking my natural ethnicity with that of my Asian compadres due to torrential sobbing, it broke my ground.

I will always have meltdowns because it is MY nature. I will always experience my highs like a tsunami and lows crashing from the Empire State building into a sewer hole. I will always have a crabby, bratty streak to balance my empathic ears. I will always have an element of impulsiveness to challenge my yearning for stability.

Because this is me. And I can curb my cravings and endeavor to match the solidity of a bonsai. But I will accept my volatile nature. And learn to appreciate it.