Operation: Life

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One thing came blazing to the forefront of my consciousness last night… I am tired. Just plain ol’ tired.

I’ve been in school every year of my life since I was 5 years old. And since I began my doctoral program at Fielding Graduate University 3 years ago, I have not had a single week “off.” I need a break. I need a rest. So does my mind.

And yet I find myself in a typical graduate student position. Behind a major deadline that is quickly approaching and profoundly serious. I have two important courses that must be finished. By the end of the month. According to my calculations, that gives me roughly 2 weeks. For those of you I don’t know personally, I also work full-time and I’m finishing the last details & plans for my wedding in October. I’ve handled this fairly well so far, if I do say so myself. Because I’ve had amazing sources of support and I’ve tried to manage my time as efficiently as possible.

But I know individuals who have juggled full-time work (of a much grander scale than my current occupation) AND a family AND graduate school. I have the utmost respect for these individuals. I’ve often wonder how these incredible people do it all? I have moments where I don’t know how I do it myself. How? Perseverance.

Perseverance and hope. Two concepts that I value nearly as highly as Love and Faith. And all of which are necessary to accomplish all that life throws at us. At least that’s my take on things. And quite honestly, I think they are all required (on some level) in order to obtain anything of true worth. Quality education. Marriage. Career. Family. Friends. Spirituality. Peace. Success. etc.

Am I overwhelmed a lot of the time? Yes. Do I want to quit sometimes? Of course. Do I sometimes wish I was 5 years old again? Almost weekly.

But I truly believe my studies are going to make a difference. I am going to help change the world in a positive way. And I hope that someone will see that in me. Because I won’t stop until it comes true.

I think as long as there is a light at the end of the tunnel (no matter how tiny or far away), there is reason to continue. Thus… I continue to push forward. No matter how tired/broken/exhausted/frustrated/disenchanted I may feel from time to time. Because, in the end, it’s worth it.

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On a positive note, at least it’s not Monday anymore. haha. :)

On a less positive note, I find myself stressed and at times melancholy lately. Most would say I have every right to be stressed- working, studying and finishing plans for a wedding in October. But honestly, most of that makes me content, happy and thankful. I’m marrying the love of my life in October after almost 4.5 years together. I finished my Master’s and look forward to working on my doctorate & the day I can say, “I’m done.” And while work is usually NOT my favorite place to be (haha), I am thankful to have a job that pays the bills.

Where is my stress, you ask? I can honestly say I’m not totally sure. Which (for me) may only add to my stress. haha. I’m the type that feels the need to “figure everything out.” So to NOT know the exact source of my stress is troubling to me. I just know I have this feeling.

How do I deal with it? Prayer. Patience. Trust. Focusing on the good things especially hard.

Oh, and songs with sad lyrics. haha. :) “Sad” songs have always been a love of mine. The slow mellow melody and soft but soulful instruments combined with low and breathy vocals. It all speaks to me. Even on days when I’m in a good mood. I just love them. Not because the lyrics necessarily apply to how I feel. I just love the deep emotion you can almost palpably feel in the singer’s voice.

The following are a few of my favorites: (2nd disclaimer: None of these lyrics are meant to “mean” anything to my life or anyone else’s. They are not meant to be a “signal.” They’re just beautiful.)

“Ooh Oh” by Keri Noble

“Gravity (Stripped Version)” by Sara Bareilles

“The Mess I Made” by Parachute

“Where I Stood” by Missy Higgins

“Broken Bridge” by Daughter Darling

There must be some Media Psych dissertation in there somewhere. haha. Because I know I’m not the only person who loves to listen to a great sad song on a sunny day. :)

What do you think of sad songs? Do you have any favorites?

I’ve seen commercials for a new show called “Huge” on ABCFamily.

Some writers have called it “refreshing.” Others call it “sobering.”

I call it good intentioned. But we all know what that can lead to.

From my brief understanding (through commercials only) of this show, it’s about overweight teens at a “fat camp.” That’s pretty much all I know from the short tv ads, but the one statement stuck with me and bothers me… regarding losing weight, the main character says, “Why should I?”

This bothers me not because she should be 100 lbs, a size 00 or anything ridiculous like that. People are meant to be different shapes and sizes. Some factors cannot be avoided and some will never change. That’s not my point. It bothers me because that is NOT a healthy message to send kids and teens, who will likely be the largest audience of this show.

Why should you lose weight if you’re an overweight child or teen? Because it’s NOT HEALTHY to stay overweight that early on. Being overweight can lead to so many serious health problems. THAT’s why. Not because “skinny is cool” or because everyone should look like a model. But because of diabetes. joint problems. heart disease. high blood pressure. etc.

Before anyone crucifies me for my criticism of this show, I have not seen it yet. I would hope the creators would have a healthy goal in mind. In some ways, I think the show is good (hence my conclusion of “good intentioned”). I don’t think barbie-shaped characters with varying levels of plastic surgery should be the only “role models” on tv for young people. I think it’s important for teens of all sizes to realize they have worth and are loved by those around them…. however…. those who love them should care enough to want them to be healthy. And encourage them to do so.

I was not always healthy. I was overweight for most of my childhood and into high school. It was not until college that I began watching what I ate and exercising when I had the opportunity.  Now that my wedding is quickly approaching, I’m more conscious of my physical appearance than ever.

Does that mean I’m unhappy? No. It just means I’ve been more mindful of what food I put in my body (portions, snacks, etc.) and I’m more active (I try to workout 5-6 times a week. try.). Does this mean I’m super skinny? No. I’m “skinnier” than I have been in a long time but I’m no size 2. Does this mean I’m perfect? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Do I feel better? A resounding YES. I’m no medical professional, but I’ve been sick less. My migraines have decreased. I’m at a healthier weight for my height. I have more confidence. I’m stronger and can exercise better (cardio-endurance-wise and range-wise) than I ever was or could before.

Conclusion: I will support ABC Family’s new show… IF. and only if. their overall message is healthy. Yes, all children should have self-esteem and confidence. But no one needs to sacrifice his or her health to do so.

It’s become blatantly obvious to me that adults can often be worse than children when it comes to being selfish and immature. Sure, most adults won’t pitch a fit if someone eats their cookie. But it seems adults are worse when it comes to bigger issues. SOME adults.

Yes, this post originated from personal experience & a need to vent. But isn’t that the real purpose of a blog anyway? And no, I don’t expect people to care. But it feels good to “say” these things out loud even if just to the empty internet abyss.

It’s true when they say that all kinds of complications arise when you are planning a wedding. Thankfully, these have actually been at a minimum for us.

But a couple parties have been immature, selfish and bitter. Unnecessarily, if you ask me. Let’s just say A & B do not get along. They are in-laws to one another & close relatives to my fiance. There was a falling out years ago & they haven’t spoken since. No one, including A&B, remember exactly what happened. They just know they don’t like one another. Because A will be at the wedding, B will not attend. Because B will not attend, my fiance’s last living grandparent will not be there. This is very disappointing to my fiance.

If that was confusing or sounded like an algebra problem, I apologize. Not that any of the aforementioned parties read my blog, but I wanted to be as discrete as possible anyway.

Regardless of the details, I think you get what I’m trying to say. Grown-ups are acting worse than children because they won’t put aside differences for ONE.day. A day that is bigger and more important than their stupid fight. I wouldn’t expect them to change or reconcile at the wedding, and obviously we all know better than to sit them together. But I do NOT, for the life of me, understand why adults cannot go beyond themselves for ONE day and celebrate something special that everyone is happy about.

I wish I could say the following, in no particular order:

  • Stop being selfish.
  • Realize that you are hurting people you love & who love you just to make sure 1 single person knows you still don’t like him/her.
  • Keep your bitter thoughts bottled up for 4 hours. Scowl in your chair if you must.
  • Get over yourself.
  • Understand that our wedding is not about you.
  • Our wedding was not designed as your opportunity to slight someone else.
  • Even a 5 year old can do those things from time to time. Maybe you can pretend you’re 6.

I am typically not a “celebrity” follower. Yes, I enjoy movies and the occasional celebrity gossip but I’ve never been a consistent watcher of entertainment “news” shows or reader of entertainment-related periodicals.

However, I’ve noticed lately that plastic surgery seems to be the new diet/fitness/health “option.” And while I would never deny the ever-present question of “what are we doing to ourselves?”… I ask one more question… “what are we doing to our futures?”

We all know perfect bodies as seen in magazines, advertisements, and movies. We all have moments of envy (c’mon… let’s be honest. How could you NOT look at the typical celebrity and not think, “man, if only I could look like that.”). But when did looking freakishly UNhuman or UNnatural become the goal?

Case in point… Heidi Montag. As far as I know (because I honestly don’t know her “history” well), she became famous on tv from the show, The Hills. Since then she has undergone a series of 10 or so plastic surgeries. Yes, 10. No typo there. I caught a glimpse of her recently in a bikini & ho.ly.cow. Not only is she not as pretty as she was (the way God made her), but she looks like an alien. I fear her next step might be Michael Jackson-esque.

Some may say I’m just jealous of her body or her tiny waist or ridiculous bust-to-waist ratio. To them I say… pssht (complete with a little spit to emphasize my point). I may never have a perfectly flat stomach like her and I may get wrinkles in years to come. But… I can say that there is absolutely nothing plastic about myself. Everything I’ve done to get in shape has been my determination and hard work.

And another recent phenomenon I’ve noticed is a trend amongst Asian women who want to alter their eyes to be more round. Perhaps I’m biased but I’ve always thought their eyes were the most beautiful feature of an Asian woman. I can honestly say it is one thing about myself I would never change, even if I could. I heard one reason is that some of them are made fun of for having small eyes (even in their home countries). As someone who was teased for being different when I was younger… I know the pressure that can bring and the deep hurt it can cause. But when did almond-shaped eyes become undesirable?

I may be blessed with good genes, self-control, decent self-esteem, motivation, a good life situation or any other factor you may want to attribute to me… but I do not understand this new fascination with wanting to change EVERYthing about yourself. Even on days when I wish parts of my body could be different, I would not want to do a total overhaul on myself. And I certainly do not understand wanting to change a part of yourself that makes you beautiful.

This new obsession with looking unnatural sincerely unnerves me. I shudder to imagine what implications may arise in years to come.

This post was originally intended to praise the blog/website of Operation Beautiful, but has evolved into more (shocking, I know).

It’s a website run by a woman my age (actually local to Orlando even) and it’s all about positive messages to women to remind them that they are beautiful. Her “mission” is to leave little messages of positive thinking in random places. On post-its, mirrors, bulletin boards, etc.

I, for one, think this is fabulous. In a world where size 6 is considered “fat” by the glamorous media kings and queens (who have time & money for personal trainers), I think it’s important to remind each other that “we are beautiful” just the way we are, both men & women. This is not to condone unhealthy living, obviously. But it pains me to see women who are a good size for their build being depressed or starving because they see the “double-zero” sizes at stores like Abercrombie + Fitch.

I confess I have given in partially to this pressure. I have a faint echo of “chubby bride in wedding dress” in the back of my mind. haha. I recently started the infamous P90X program that nearly everyone in America has seen on tv at some point. I have enjoyed it actually because it is focused more on toning & health than weight loss. I’m not trying to get down to any certain number of any kind. But just trying to tone up and get in shape and stay healthy.

In other areas of life, the policies at my school are changing. I honestly don’t see them as good or bad. I see them as neutral with potentials for good or bad. I admit that a little more structure was probably necessary, and these changes can be for the better but only if everyone responds accordingly (professors & students alike). These new changes will also force me to discipline myself more, I believe. Not that I’m completely reckless with my time or efforts. But I admit with work, school, life, and wedding planning… I am probably a little more scattered than I would ideally like to be.

My “operation” will be motivation. To be more positive about myself. To work hard. To follow through. To live life to the fullest. To take things one at a time. To remember to breathe. To smile even on rainy days. To strive for “better-ness” every day.

It’s come to my attention recently that complaints seem to have become the language of the day. I am guilty of this myself. There are days at work when negative thoughts and complaints and whining are the only things that can come to mind.

Sure, I could blame it on stress, co-workers, bad luck or other people in general. But in the end, it’s my choice. I choose to be negative. I choose to be angry or frustrated. I choose to be the “victim” of my day. I choose to lash out at others.

Over the past few months or so, I’ve noticed that some people do nothing but complain, even on days where there is so much to be happy and thankful for. This does not go to say that some days are bad or some things call for a few tears of anger or sadness. But when it comes to things like vacations, weddings, honeymoons, family gatherings, holidays, anniversaries, birthdays… days that should be filled with joy… why do we look for ways to complain?

Maybe it’s because my mind is in wedding-mode, but why do (some) brides especially seem to make big deals over nothing? Yes, it may rain on your wedding. Welcome to the real world where we cannot control the weather- be thankful for the way it smells so fresh when it rains. No, random strangers may not care you’re on your honeymoon. Welcome to a world that is not centered around you- be happy that you’re married and with your new spouse!

But I digress… I’m simply saying I’m done. I may not be able to promise to never complain again, and let’s face it- sometimes we bond with one another over mutual frustrations and/or circumstances. But that doesn’t mean I will let the “badness” take over my days anymore. I have been looking forward to this year for a long time and I refuse to let a few minor setbacks ruin it. The bad only makes the good seem sweeter.

This is 2010– the year I marry the love of my life, the year I achieve my Master’s Degree, the year my “little” brother graduates and goes off to grad school, the year for moving onward and upward. And another chance to become a better person.