Operation: Life

Archive for the ‘Link’ Category

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.

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.

Note to reader: As I continued to write this post, my thoughts wandered & this post grew into a monster in length.. please excuse. :)

While working on media project #1, my numerous papers for Cognitive & Affective Bases of Behavior (706), working (in the general sense), and watching our country debate several social issues, I began to wonder…

Which is better? Using the first solution you can find or waiting for the ideal answer (should it come along, that is)? I definitely don’t think there will be an easy or universal answer.

Someone (*ahemJasonOhlerahem*) once said not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Something that no professor at any point in my education had ever dared to even insinuate… and yet I find an odd/new sense of comfort from this. Even while my overachiever (& some may say “stereotypically Asian”) mind still fights this idea, my rational mind realizes this may be what saves my sanity from being eaten by my doctoral studies.

But I also firmly believe there are certain situations that call for waiting. Not accepting the first or easy answer and working to find something better. I could come up with a million “solutions” to a million huge problems in the world today. Does that mean someone should listen to me or I should be the President Leader Ruler Queen of the World? Negative. Just because I have ideas does not make them feasible/realistic/good/positive/etc. by any means. I am confident that there are a ton of other people with better ideas than mine.

However, this does not go to say that we should stop trying & wait. Waiting is not passive. Waiting is still a choice. And without going into the deep philosophy behind every decision being a decision, even if your decision is to not decide…. It’s true. Waiting does not have to be something that you let or watch happen. You can still work on a solution while waiting for the right one. How else will you find it?

But where was I? … Oh yes, I was talking about taking the first solution or waiting for the best one.

Believe it or not, this post actually stemmed from an article from The Economist about Apple and Steve Jobs. Here it is.

I am (and perhaps always will be) an Apple lover. And no, it’s not just because it’s aesthetically pleasing (although it IS beautiful) or because of the witty tv ads (which I find to be very entertaining). The article discussed the way that Apple does not necessarily create brand new ideas or products, but take a current idea and improve it beyond what the previous competitors/companies had ever done.

I agree with this view of Apple. Especially with the new iPad. My fianc√© & I had a discussion about it. He laughed at it because it wasn’t anything new- it was just a giant iPhone. I said it was, in a way. BUT it was a brilliant move for Apple. The iPad may not be innovative in its concept. However, it is now a huge competitor for Amazon’s Kindle. I’m sure Amazon is not looking forward to this. Previously, I would have loved a Kindle. Despite the fact that “reading for fun” is exponentially less fun while in a doctoral program, I would have loved to have the technology. But now… why buy a Kindle when I could buy an iPad for relatively the same price and have much more capability?

In case you are now lost or confused & if you are still reading this, congratulations and thank you- here is your digital cookie, the point of this ramble was to say that sometimes a new, easy solution isn’t the answer. Sometimes an innovation isn’t necessary. Sometimes the easy answer isn’t even a good one. Sometimes it’s better to just improve on something that already is. But it’s also important to know when to compromise and just accept what is.

I may never reach perfection in my work, studies, personal life, health/fitness… but that does not mean I won’t try to get there once or twice. or fifty.

The Economist recently published this article about the “Psychology of Power.”

It was interesting and basically discussed the research around whether power corrupts people or power attracts corrupt people. An important question.

One word that was mentioned a few times was “entitlement.” This intrigued me. I have always felt that entitlement CAN be a huge societal problem and burden. It is my opinion that this seems to be an American concept. Not solely Americans. But perhaps predominately. We tend to feel we are entitled to a perfect life. As if we have done something in a previous life that warrants “goodness.” In all honesty, I think our “entitlement” should be limited to the following: opportunity.

As humans, who are fortunate to live in a “free” country, it is our entitlement only to the opportunity for circumstances/experiences. The opportunity to choose to love. To worship. To work. To rest. To eat and drink. To be healthy. To give. To take. To learn. To be ignorant. To indulge. To save. To reward. To punish. To celebrate. To mourn. To acquire possessions. To have wealth. To spend. To mend bridges. To burn them. To serve. To be served.

It is our choice what to do with those opportunities. No one is “entitled” automatically to any of the above. People who feel this sense of entitlement (and believe me, I know a few) are only out for disappointment when they find not everyone feels the same way they do. It saddens me when I see parents who teach their children to be this way, and I fear this problem is here for good. What happened to taking action and accepting responsibility?

I have always believed life is what you make it. Yes, bad things happen. No, life is not fair. But it is up to you what you do after what happens to you happens.