September 2018

September 29 - Grit

I’ve been listening to Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”. I have been really interested in how this topic can really affect my life. From this book, I’ve realized that I am not sure what my passion is right now. She spends a few chapters talking about how sustained passion can lead to perseverance and grit. She treats goals like a bulls-eye. The outer most ring is the day-to-day goals or tasks, the subsequent inner goals are larger goals that are getting us towards our bulls-eye goal/passion, the mission that we are working towards.

Trying to analyze what I might be passionate about, i started looking at what traits/characteristics I was “good” at. I reached out on Facebook, and asked my friends what they thought about me. Interestingly, most people came back with things that I felt were more intrinsic, like “charming”, “cheerful”, or “compassionate”. A few things that were mentioned that I found interesting were Community Builder and Organized. I know that I enjoy event planning and organization. I also enjoy picking up and helping with a wide variety of activities. I love bringing people together and making experiences happen. I guess now I need to figure out how to make this a part of my life and better the world with event planning.

September 28 - Life Motto

My life motto comes from a family movie called "Second Hand Lions". There's a scene where the Uncle gives the boy a segment of his "how to be a man" speech. I took the main summary line from that speech and simplified it to:

Believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.

The basic idea it that there are these lofty philosophical ideas: Justice, Honor, Love. These ideas are not physical things we can see, or consistent ideas we can all agree on. The premise is that we need to believe in these philosophical concepts, because they are things worth believing in, not because they are necessarily true. Here are some of the things I believe in:

1) Good actions bring good results

2) We are all interconnected

3) Humanity is on a path to progress



September 26 - If My House Burned Down...

If my house burned down, what would I save? I found this question on the internet and I thought this was intriguing. First, we are assuming that all my loved ones and pets are safe. This is just a thought exercise to see what physical things do I value. 

Honestly, I'm struggling. I have lived my life by trying to get rid of most of the physical things, but I still feel like I have too much stuff. I actually daydreamed about all my possessions burning up in a fire and being able to go out and buy only the things I actually needed. But I believe this prompt is more focused on what sentimental items would I want to save. 

My Baby Blanket - Yup, I still have this. It's in my underwear/sock drawer. It was made for me by my mother's friend before I was born, and It is falling apart, but I still love it, and I would be very sad if I lost it.

My Hard Drive - My hard drive has all my photos and blog posts and a lot of other stuff on it, but I would be sad if I lost.

Mirror Girls - This is the title of the Oil Painting hang in my living room. It was painted by my best friend, and when I saw it I had to have it. It's basicaly irreplaceable, and I would be really sad if I lost it.

September 25 - My Time of the Day

There's a song in the classic musical called "My Time of Day". In the song the character, Sky Masterson, sings about his favorite time of day. I have the same favorite time of day, but I get there from the other direction. Sky stays up all night, and enjoys the stillness and beauty of the early morning before everyone wakes up to start their day. I also enjoy that time, but I go to bed early and wake up to enjoy the silence before the world wakes up. It is a beautiful time of the day, and it's easier to be productive and focus on your personal goals when there aren't other people or things to occupy your time.

September 21 - Ethics and Murder

So I know I already talked a little about my personal ethical code a few days ago, but I want to dive into my specific feeling around murder, because this is one of my absolute ethical structures that I think I differ from a lot of people.

I believe that most people think murder is wrong. But I also think that most people also think there are some justifiable reasons to kill someone. Whether you believe the death penalty should be used for serious violent criminals, or that you should be allowed to defend yourself, most people do think some forms murder is justified. My ethical structure says that it is never justified to intentionally kill another human being. 

If you intentionally try to kill another human being, regardless of reason, I believe it is wrong. My one exception is Euthanasia. But that's because I believe we should always respect body autonomy, and if someone chooses to end their life, they should be allowed to do that. I know this is an unusual believe structure, but it's mine. 


September 20 - 10 Year Goals

Again, this is a visualization of my future life. Seeing myself in 10 years is hard. Honestly so much of my life is stable right now, but I doubt it's going to look the same in 10 years.

1) My child will start being rebellious. Maybe I'll have two at this point.

2) Upgrade to another home and rent out our first home for passive income

3) Write a book (or three) and publish them and have them bringing in passive income

4) These creative projects are making enough money that I don't have to work, or at least I have a more flexible work-life schedule

5) I've made substantial improvements on my mental health.

September 18 - 1 Year Goals

Just to be clear, these are not lists of goals to accomplish, but more a visualization of where I want to be in a year. I have two short term goals for this year. 

1) I want to be a mother - I just turned 30, I have my degree, I'm married, and my husband I have stable jobs. This is the place in my timeline where I get pregnant. My hope is to have the child in the next year or at least be pregnant. 

2) I want to be  Professional Engineer - If you don't know the Professional Engineer (PE) title is a difficult test that you need to pass to prove you're knowledgeable enough to approve plans. I'm actually taking the test again in October, and I hope to pass it this year. 


September 13 - Love Language

I read "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman about a year ago. Although I believe he has some good points about psychology of how we feel loved, I do not recommend this book. I think that a lot of what he says encourages people to stay in emotionally abusive households. That said, his structure on how we express and feel love is very interesting, so I'll summarize it here:

1) Words of Affirmation - Saying nice things, complements, I love you

2) Acts of Service - Doing work around the house or running errands for the other person

3) Giving Gifts - self explanatory

4) Physical Touch - self explanatory

5) Quality Time - spending undivided attention together

Simply put, figure out what you and your partner do and need to feel loved and try to do more of that. I am very much a "Quality Time" person. I feel loved and appreciated when I get time doing something with someone. My husband is acts of service. He feel loved when I do chores and run errands for him. Figuring this out has greatly increased how we feel and helped us explain how we are feeling to each other.

September 12 - Wisdom

Wisdom means having a quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgement. Instead of waxing poetically on this subject, I'm just going to tell the story of the old man and his horse, because that's the wisdom that I think we need to all remember.

Once there was an old man who had one horse. One day there was a storm and the horse spooked and broke out of its pen and ran off to the woods. The town's people came around and told the old man how sorry they were that he'd lost his only horse. How sad they were he'd suffered the loss of his horse. And the old man said, "We shall see."

Then a few weeks later, the horse reappeared with an entire herd of wild horses. And the villiagers came around and said what a blessing it was, and how lucky he was. And the old man said, "We shall see."

Then while training one of the new horses, the man's only son was thrown and broke his leg. The townspeople came around and said. what misfortune, what bad luck that he son was now lame. And the old man said "We shall see."

Then the army rolled through town and they drafted all the young men of the villiage, but not the old man's son as he was injured. And the villiagers came to the old man and told him how lucky he was and he said, "we shall see."



September 11 - Remembrance

Today, I'm just going to talk about where I was and what I was doing on 9/11/2001. I live in California, so when the first tower was struck I was asleep. My parents generally wake up early and listen to NPR while they get ready for their day. When my father heard what was going on, he woke my brother and me up and sat us in front of CNN. This was a really disorienting thing because we never watched tv in the mornings. I remember siting in front of the television realizing what was going on. Watching the footage on loop. Watching the tower come down. Then I had to go to school.

I had four periods in school: History, Literature, Science, and Math. The classes that day were pretty distracted. We either kept watching the news updates, or just talked about how we were feeling. But then I had math class. We funneled into Math and sat down. Mr Allen stood in front of the class and started talking about Algebra and our homework problems. One student asked him if he had heard what happened. And he got very serious and told us that the people that did that horrible thing wanted to disrupt our lives, wanted to make us afraid, wanted to change us. But we should keep living. We beat them by just living our lives and not letting them affect us. And he lectured for a full hour on Algebra. 

This is one of the things that stuck with me since that day. If we change because of them, if we fear our neighbors, if we take away our rights, if we live in fear, then we let them win.

Live your life, be happy, do good. Don't let the terrorists win.


September 10 - Meaning of Life

I spoke about my purpose back on September 8, but today I'm going to focus on the meaning of life. In my mind the meaning of life and our individual purposes are very different things, although some people may disagree with me. In my opinion, the mean of life is to perpetuate life. Now this isn't to say that everyone needs to procreate, or that we have a ethical responsibility to have children. I'm just talking on the generic. The meaning of life, the reason life exists is to produce more life.

So how does that affect us as humans? Well, over-population, destruction of resources, and global warming are creating problems today that are already detrimental to human life and all other life on this planet. The meaning of life is to make sure we can continue life. And we, as a species, need to start making decisions that will protect life on this planet, and hopefully, other planets. 

September 9 - Gossip

Gossip is conversations about other people, typically involving details that aren't confirmed to be true. I know I shouldn't gossip. And I know that I should say, "gossip is bad" and "I don't participate in such a hateful and mean-spirited activity." But honestly, I do. Now do I do it to hurt people? Definitely not. But that's not really a justification. 

My obsession with gossip is actually an extension of my fear of upsetting people. Hear me out. I want to know who's mad and who, and what so-and-so did to upset such-and-such. Because I want to avoid creating a conflict when I talk to people or invite people to events. I don't want to invite two people that are actively upset at each other to a intimate dinner party. Or accidentally tell so-and-so what such-and-such and I did last weekend. My obsession with not upsetting anyone creates a need in me to know intimate details about everyone's lives. I'm not saying this as a justification. I'm working on not spreading rumors and gossiping. I just recognize that when someone else does, a part of me "needs" the information. 

In conclusion, "gossip is bad." and "don't participate in such a hateful and mean-spirited activity." I'm working on growing and improving as a person, and maybe someday soon, I won't be such a gossip.

September 8 - My Purpose

So one of the hardest questions to struggle with is "what is My purpose?" Obviously, everyone will have a different answer to this question. I have decided, that overall, my purpose is to make the world a better place. Now this is two-fold. First, I need to make a world that is more loving, helpful, safer, and more ethical. Secondly, I need to make myself more loving, helpful, and ethical. I try to do this in several ways:

1) I live according to my core values - Adventure, Impermanence, Unity, Discipline, Simplicity, Efficiency

2) I work in energy generation - I specifically work in the Solar industry right now, but I believe that stable, cheap, and sustainable energy generation is going to fix a lot of the problems we have in the world.

3) I donate to charity -  I recognize that not everyone has the money to give away, but if you do, pick a few causes you want to support. Not everyone needs to support the same causes, and you can't support everything. So I'd pick two or three causes, vet the charities to make sure your money is going to good use, and donate what you can. I support my local food bank, UNICEF, and the ACLU. 

September 7 - One Recent Complement

I recently had my hair cut, and during the consultation with the stylist, he told me that I was parting my hair on the correct side of my face. I'm not a style person. I don't follow trends or brands. I don't watch add campaigns. I don't know how to do fancy make-up or hair styles. That is why having the professional say in passing that my part was on the correct side meant so much to me. I'm trying to care more about how I look and present myself, and having that confirmation of my style choices really meant a lot. I don't even think that the stylist thought much about it. 

September 6 - Spirituality and Daily Life

I used to be strictly "secular". I used to think that there is no place for "spirituality" in a modern society, but as I've grown, my thoughts on this subject have evolved. I've realized that we, as humans, need some way of finding purpose and meaning in our lives. Based on my definition, spirituality is just thinking about and trying to find your answers to the unanswerable questions. But how do you make this part of your daily life? 

Simply, you need to live your life according to your core values and your answers to those unanswerable questions. Questions like "What is My Purpose?", "What is the meaning of Life?", or "What is right and wrong?", help us decide how we should live. I'm going to go more in depth into the answers to these questions and more over the course of this month. You can play along by contemplating how you'd answer the questions too. Are you living your life according to the values and ethics that you think is correct?

September 5 - Feeling Joy

Joy is one of those strange feelings. It's something we value greatly, but when trying to acquire it, it can seem like it drifts further and further away. Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure or happiness. I've found that I have the most joy, when I stop thinking about joy. When I sit back and just take pleasure in the moment I find myself in. When I get lost in writing or reading a good book. When I go for a hike. When I see my friends. These are the experiences that I find the most pleasure in, but I only find that pleasure when I stop thinking about how I'm feeling and just enjoy.

Clinging to an outcome, like feeling joy, I've found does the exact opposite. It creates unrealistic expectation on how the event is going to go. And then disappointment when the outcome is not how you wanted. It also distracts you from the current moment. 

September 4 - Spirituality

Spirituality is defined as the quality of being concerned with the spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things. I think, colloquially, most people define spirituality as religion. I, personally, define spirituality as thinking about the metaphysical questions. There are a lot of questions in the universe that just don't have answers. At least, not answers that can be proven in any direction. Honestly, I'd venture that the answers also don't really matter.  I guess "Do these answers even matter?" is probably a metaphysical question in and of itself. Questions like "Why am I here?" or "What makes something right or wrong?". These questions can be answered in a myriad of ways, but at the end of the day. There isn't a "correct" answer. 

I feel like religious people will often use "God" or "Religion" to answer these difficult questions for them. To me this seems like the easy way out. I feel like secularists, often, have to deal with these questions in much greater depth. When you can't just chalk up your life's purpose to a deity, it's a lot more difficult. Generally, you have spend a lot of time reading, researching, contemplating, and discussing these topics. And a contemplative person may see their answers to these questions evolve as they experience more of the world and learn new things.

So my definition of Spirituality is vague and difficult to pin down. It's like a lantern floating down a raging river. At any one point you may be able to see the light, but sometimes it dips out of sight of is tossed behind a rock. But the lantern is almost never in the same spot twice.

September 3 - Dear Teenage Self

Dear Teenage Self,

I can only leave you one piece of advice. Don't make decisions out of fear. When the fear and panic start to build up inside of you, stop and take a deep breath. Identify why you are feeling fear. You'll find there is often no reason. If you can't find a reason to actually be afraid, just do it. Take the risks. Talk to the people. Try the new thing. Live your life. 



September 2 - Feeling Alive

Feeling alive is a varied term. When some people hear it, they think of the adrenaline in their blood from a harrowing or risky activity. Some people think of a feeling of ecstasy or jubilation.  Some feel validation for some accomplishment. Honestly, I feel like like all three of these things could be combined by feeling truly present in the moment. When you survive something dangerous (or perceived as dangerous), that adrenaline rush makes the world seem more vibrant in the moment. When you feel extreme joy, that feeling is fixated in the moment. When you accomplish something and are basking in the glory, that is focused in the moment. Feeling truly alive, then, is being truly present. Some things that I can think of that make me feel truly present in the moment are:

1. Taking cold showers - I know, sounds awful. But I always feel so refreshed and exhilarated during it. 

2. Running - Not fast, mind you, but a nice morning jog just seems to clear out my head

3. Cuddling - this is also one of the fastest ways to get me to fall asleep. 

4. Playing Dress Up - styling my hair, putting on make up, and rocking a fancy outfit I feel like I can take on the world

5. Taking Pictures - photography forces you to look at the world in a new way. You have to see the light and shadows. You have to frame the shot. You have to play with your camera to get the affect you want. It makes you really see what you are looking at.

I try to do the first three every day. I do number four and five for special occasions and on weekends. Doing these things regularly is a great way to make me feel connected and alive.