Slaughterhouse Five Quotes

When I read books, I always write my favorite quotes as I read. These are from the most recent book I read, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five.

If I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I’m so grateful that so many of those moments are nice.

That’s one thing Earthlings might learn to do, if they tried hard enough: Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones.

There isn’t any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. There is no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no moral, no causes, no effects. What we love in our books are the depths of many marvelous moments seen all at one time.

All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is. Take it moment by moment, and you will find that we are all, as I’ve said before, bugs in amber.”

“Why me?”

“That is a very Earthling question to ask, Mr. Pilgrim. Why you? Why us for that matter? Why anything? Because this moment simply is. Well, here we are, trapped in the amber of this moment. There is no why.”

Where have all the years gone?

All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. See how permanent all the moments are, and look at any moment that interests you. It is just an illusion that we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.

So it goes.

But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow. I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. I learn by going where I have to go.

And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.

Travel is Relative

We received travel vouchers for successfully completing our Peer Mentor internships with API, and we used them to purchase our flights. We booked them in October after continuously searching for flights to anywhere. We decided on Costa Rica because we had heard wonderful things from #hAPI study abroad students – we added Nicaragua in because, why not?

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So, we embarked on a two-week journey to Nicaragua and Costa Rica with an intensely researched, yet loose itinerary. You can only research so much about a place – especially in Central America – before learning that you just have to ask around to find what you need. We wanted a backpacker lifestyle. We wanted spontaneity. We wanted adventure.

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When we told family and friends about our plans, they were shocked at how long our trip would be. “Two weeks, woah! That’s pretty long.” We already knew it wouldn’t be long enough. These qualms were confirmed upon meeting other travelers and backpackers who had been traveling for three weeks, one month, three months, eight months, eighteen months. When asked how long we were traveling for, we shamefully responded with “only two weeks…” For a traveler, this is a tease. Two weeks is barely enough time to get to know one place, much less a few cities spanning two countries. We knew it, but we jumped at the opportunity anyway. Travel is worth it no matter how long.

Back home, two weeks away seems long; but while traveling, it seems short. When I studied in Spain for a year, I felt it wasn’t enough time, but people’s wide-eyed reactions proved different – “A year! That’s so long!”

Time is relative, and it’s all about perspective. Well, everything is relative, and everything is all about perspective. Travel confirms this over and over again. It wakes you up, shakes your senses alive. It puts you in your place, brings gratitude to the forefront. It challenges you, pushes you past your perceived boundaries. Outward movement aligns with inward reflection. Time passes in a much different way when you are conscious of your surroundings and of how you react to them. It is a continuous learning period. Time traveling is time growing.

Stories are some of the most inspiring moments while on the road. It’s not like it was in college, where everyone had more or less the same trajectory up until the previous night, when they may have gone out to a different bar. It’s not like it was while abroad, where other students had more or less the same reason to be living in a foreign country. It’s completely different and unassuming. You start from square one with questions, and open your ears to the most intriguing stories. You can assume nothing and expect everything.

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This is why I am in love with movement. This is why I want a life of travel and adventure. Because I could not live my life in just one place. There are too many buses to catch, too many sunsets to watch, too many cities to appreciate, too many local dishes to taste, too many stories to hear, too many languages to learn and too many people to meet. I want to move forward in life appreciating the time I have to travel, to move and to change, because time is truly all we have.

With wonder and wander,
KB + codea

Not Your Average Post-Grad

One hundred and sixty days ago, I reached a milestone of my life that only about 7% of people achieve: college graduation. Since May, every new acquaintance I make and every old friend I see has asked, “Where do you work?” or “What are you doing now?”

Here’s my problem with that. Why do people think that every college graduate’s success is measured by whether or not they have a full-time job lined up as soon as they toss that graduation cap in the air?

To start, shouldn’t we take some time to celebrate the giant success that is earning a college degree? Shouldn’t we be asking grads what they want to do with their life, not with their degree? Don’t get me wrong. I wholeheartedly believe that finishing college is a major accomplishment to be immensely proud of. However, I also think that there is way more to my early twenties than competing for a job that secures my spot in a cubicle, likely next to a middle-aged someone who has been there since his or her own college graduation.

Again, don’t get me wrong. I will have a full-time job one day, and I will probably be starting in a cubicle. But it’s not going to be a job that I applied for just because society told me that it was supposed to be the next step in my life. It’s going to be a job that I want for myself; a job that makes me happy, that I earned, and that I love.

So, what do I say when people ask me where I work or what I’m doing now? Well. Where do I begin? Since college graduation, I discovered a new love for nature while hiking in the Alaskan mountains. I celebrated my birthday delivering letters to Senators’ offices on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., went on a road trip to upstate New York with my mom, prepared homemade lobster rolls in Maine, and attended my first Filipino opera. I also began training for a half marathon, assisted an event planner with a medical gala at Gotham Hall in New York City, and started teaching myself Korean.

“I’m just livin’,” I say. I’m doing things I love. I’m learning from others, and I’m teaching myself. I’m traveling. I’m reading books that I could never find the time to while in school. I’m finding ways to make and save money outside of the 9-5 confine. I’m spending time with people I care about. And I’m taking a step back from the pressure that seems to be pushing too many young professionals in directions that they aren’t even sure is right for them. Most importantly, I hope that I’m serving as a reminder that success doesn’t always have to come in the form of a resumè.

Multiple Passion Personality Order

I read this FANTASTIC article last week.  It’s about how we, as humans, often find ourselves “stuck” in phases of life.  These phases include but are not limited to: boredom, creative overload, workaholism, just plain slow, overwhelming, etc. etc.  You know what I mean once you read “Navigating Stuckness.”

While reading the article, I found myself fascinated by Harris’ life, particularly how each chapter was so strongly defined by what consumed his time in that specific stage of his life.  From art to coding to storytelling to writing…there is so much talent in this one person to admire.  And I think we should all be that way.

In Chapter 3 of his life, Harris resolved to be a multi-talented and experienced person:

Instead of trying to be the smartest person in the room, now I wanted to be the most interesting. 

“Navigating Stuckness” in its entirety, is an inspiring story encouraging us to find what it is we want to do, and simply do it with no requirements of justification, salary, or even valid reason.  Sometimes it feels like a paradox, but most times I think it’s just life.  And life is a countdown.

In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way.

A couple of weeks ago, I was pondering the moves I would be making in my life within the next few years.  I wanted a life plan to somewhat base the years on.  This is the result:

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After the inevitability of “22: graduate”, I found that there is no realistic way to build a life plan.  The only idea that kept coming to mind was that of passion.  How do you want to occupy your time?  That is the real question.  And the only question we should never forget to ask ourselves.  Mostly because the answer is solid and true.  We know what we want, and what we don’t want.  And when we know what these things are…we must go after them.

Jonathan Harris makes the same argument, and he tells us how we might stay a step ahead of the traps that lead us to “stuckness”.  Reading his story in chapters, and being able to separate those chapters makes it blatantly obvious (to me at least) that we should practice our passions without limits.

I want to be interesting AND smart.  And I want to be good at writing and telling stores, while also being good at snowboarding.  I want to be able to knit and code and play the piano and practice travel photography.  I hope to be good at drawing and cooking and a whole slew of possible talents.  It’s a collective work in progress; I don’t need to spend 9-5pm every day doing the same one thing.  I can spend it doing several things.  And the best part of all is that I think this would make us happier.

If you’re always doing what you love, you will always be happy.  And if you’re always happy, then you will never be stuck.

How to waste your time

DOnt worry be happy - Do You have a problem in life - Yes - Can you do something about it - NO - yes - Then Why worryThink too much about your problems, and not enough about the solutions.

Never say how you feel.  Hold it in until you explode and feel better, then start building it up again.

Be too proud or ignorant to apologize or come to compromise in a situation you want fixed.

Always have a frown on your face.  Waste it even more by not allowing yourself be happy.

Be and think negatively.  Waste your time by not feeling good.

Do something you hate.  Just wake up every day and do things you don’t enjoy.

Worry about all of the things in the world that are out of your control.

Blame yourself for something that had nothing to do with you.

If you are guilty of any, or worse, ALL, of the above, I’m gonna guess that you don’t want to be happy.

That’s a shame.  And I don’t know about you , but all I ever want to do is be happy.  And I think that time spent being anything else but what you want to be is wasted time.  Looking around lately I’ve found that a lot of people are wasting time, including myself sometimes.

Last weekend the BF and I got in a fight that wasn’t really a fight–one of those I-thought-you-were-mad-at-me/No-I-thought-you-were-mad-at-me fights. Stupid, we know. And we’re working on it by realizing together that negative time and energy is a big, big mistake.  Why go a few hours being upset or mad when you could release all of that bad energy by way of words or some type of expression–therefore ridding yourself of it–for just a few relieving minutes?

Well the answer is: you shouldn’t.  Why?  Because it will, without a doubt, be a complete waste of your time. I promise.  Take it from us.  We had a perfectly beautiful Saturday spent walking around Philadelphia, wading in public fountains, tossing the football around, and drinking mojitos.

 

Then whatever happened happened and it led to 3 or 4 hours of confusion, silence, and a spritz of awkward atmosphere.  AKA waste of time.  We could’ve fixed it in 10 minutes but instead we went hours thinking something was wrong.  And guess what?  Nothing was wrong!  So haha, the joke’s on us.  And what I learned from all of this is that I would love to never waste a precious minute like that ever again.  As far as I’m concerned, Philly is the city of not just brotherly love, but of all love.  And we can keep it that way.

This past Wednesday, I had dinner with my sister-in-law.  I talked a lot about the yoga/meditation and green things I do in attempt to make a social and environmental difference, and she couldn’t get enough of it.  When I talked about a stress management class I took last year and all the habits I gained from it, it’s like she discovered a whole new world of beautiful possibilities that never crossed her mind before.  “You inspired me,” she told me.  And nothing feels better than hearing those words.

After our dinner, I just kept thinking about unhappy people.  My sister-in-law isn’t unhappy, but a lot of people are.  They’re stressed and sad and hate the way their lives turned out.  To me, that’s totally unacceptable.  Unacceptable AND a waste of time.  If that’s not telling you that it’s time to make a change, then you are doing something very wrong.

Wanna know the best thing about all of the worrying, the stressing, the anger, the sadness, and the madness?  No one is forcing you to be a part of it.  You are doing it to yourself.  And life is so that you can control it.  If you hate what you’re doing…get ready for some good advice here…STOP DOING IT.  That’s probably what will get you one step closer to spending your time wisely.

Nike, baby.  Just do it. ✓

Oh, and HAPPY FRIDAY!

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This year I learned a lot about people and friendship, travel, time, and myself. The lessons I learned were simple, and it feels like we should just know them as a common sense but it seems like even when we think we know, we don’t.

The people in my life have always been at the center of my world, and for good reason; I’ve always considered myself the luckiest person for being extremely blessed to know so many amazing people. I value my relationships with people and I’ve always thought myself to be considerate and empathetic and reasonable. I like to think that the people I choose to associate with are the same way, but this year I’ve seen darker sides of friendship that I wish didn’t exist.

The lesson here is that people can be fake and pretentious. They can let you down, and they can ruin relationships. I watched friendships fall apart and people grow apart this year, and it just reminded me that as we grow older, we tend to be more selfish and less selfless. It’s a dog eat dog world, and it’s not until we make these mistakes for ourselves that we learn the lesson.

So one of my resolutions this year is to be a better friend. The world needs more of those.

With all the traveling I was lucky enough to do this year, I learned plenty about the hardship and reward that comes with it. The importance of experiencing travel, seeing the world, spending time away from home, and–as cheesy as it sounds–“finding oneself” will always be aspects of life that I want to acknowledge. For me, travel is the purest and hardest (but best) way to experience life. You learn to expect the unexpected, deal with problems and people, and see the real beauty in what you’re looking at.

My travel resolution of the year and for the rest of my life is to never stop.

2012 also helped me realize just how sneaky time is. It’s quiet, quick, and so extremely priceless. The other day someone asked me how old I was and it took me about six seconds to answer. It feels like the last two years have gone by so fast that I still feel like I’m 19. And I suppose that’s a good thing!

Lastly and most importantly, the last year has taught me plenty about myself. I hate comparing, but I guess it’s the best way to see ourselves as part of this world. So I like to compare myself in terms of what kind of person I am. And my resolution is just to be a better one.

The aftermath is the afterlaugh

One of my life philosophies is that if you can laugh about it afterwards, it was never that bad.

I spent this weekend in Roanoke, Virginia, and I was supposed to catch a train this morning at 10 am (9:59 am to be exact). The train station was at Lynchburg, about an hour away from Roanoke, and we got there around 10:05, and as you can imagine it was extremely frustrating to have missed the train by just six minutes. I was frustrated and angry, afraid, and all in all I just didn’t want to deal with the consequences.

In the end, I had to buy a new train ticket for tomorrow morning. The drive back to Roanoke was not fun, and it felt like forever. But soon after 10:05, I realized–as I do in many cases like this–that there really is no point to holding a grudge or continuing to feel frustrated over what can no longer be changed. The train left. I missed it. The end.

When there is simply nothing left to be done but move on, just move on. Don’t carry the baggage or burden with you. It only hurts more that way.

Little did I know, missing the train was probably a blessing in disguise. I got an extra day in Virginia–breakfast at Ihop, a trip to the puppy store, saw the movie The Hobbit, and had a lovely powwow/potluck dinner. Just a few hours later, I was back to having a great day.

So next time something bad happens, or if you have an embarrassing moment, or if you think that you’re having a bad day, just let it go immediately. The sooner you realize that life is still great, and that good things can still happen, and that it’s not the end of the world, the sooner you will be happier.

“Expectations are a funny thing.  You waste so much time guessing what your life could look like but the thing is, you can’t really know until the day you open your eyes and see that if you let go and lean into the unexpected, it may be something more beautiful than you could have ever imagine.”

–Modern Family

 

Undress the Stress: Days 39-41

Once again, gotta write the weekend blogs on a Sunday night.

Day 39 was very stress free and awesome!  I woke up early to volunteer at a soup kitchen called the Mary Brennen Inn.  It was such a great atmosphere there, and once again I realize how lucky I am after working with people less fortunate than I.

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I helped out in their food pantry, which was basically a small room with shelves full of canned goods, snacks, cereal, soups–a mini grocery, if you will.  Each person receives one plastic bag to go “shopping” in and they can take certain amounts of food from each shelf and fill up their bags.  It was difficult to limit them because they would shamelessly beg for one more can of Spam or Tuna and I couldn’t help but feel bad that I had to say no.

That was the only part that I would say was stressful.  A few people would come in and they would all be standing in front of one shelf fighting for the same thing and trying to take more than they were allowed.  It was hard to pay attention to all of them and watch how many they were each taking, but I got better at that as time went on.  That specific stressor was easy to handle.

I also helped hand out the hot meals–we served 300 people that day!  That was a high head count from what I inferred from The Inn’s regular volunteers.  Then, we spent some time restocking the pantry because it would reopen at 2 pm.  And finally, we cleaned the cafeteria area.

Seeing families who depend completely on The Inn for their meals, clothes, bathroom facilities, etc. was another eye opening experience.  I just couldn’t imagine what it would be like.

That night I somehow got free tickets from a girl I sit next to in one of my classes to see Carrie Underwood.  It was a great, stress-free night!  And it was a pleasant surprise to find that Hunter Hayes was the opening act.  I’ve been listening to him for well over a year now and it was nice to see him on a such a big tour.

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PS – How cool is this hot air balloon contraption that Carrie Underwood had during her set?!  Amazing.

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Day 40!  I refuse to believe I actually kept up with this series for that many days.  I impress myself sometimes.

I went to bed at 11:59 on Friday night, and SLEPT IN for the first time in God knows how long.  Not setting an alarm is probably one of my favorite feelings.  I forgot what that was like until this weekend.

The only stressful part of my day was scheduling my time.  I wanted to go to my friend’s dance show at 2 and another friend’s concert at 4, but I also had to pick up my old roommate from the train station because she was coming to visit for the night.  I ended up picking up another friend at 1 from C.W. Post after she took her LSATs, going out to lunch, doing some homework, and then heading to the train station.

After that, there was much less stress and much more alcohol involved.  We had such a fun reunion!

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Today was also relaxed, which I am grateful for.

We woke up and had breakfast.  I just got excited to have breakfast tomorrow after writing that sentence…  Is it 10 am yet?!

I went to the matinee show of the dance concert and it was very impressive!  I liked this semester’s production better than last.  For some reason, the spring show had a ton of creepy songs that I didn’t enjoy.  This one was much more enjoyable.

The most stressful part of this day was actually when my building had a fire drill and I had to be outside for ten minutes.  When I complain about little things like that, I know that I deserve a slap in the face.  Some people have stressors that are worlds bigger than having a fire drill on a Sunday evening…

One of the ways that I’ve decided to deal with stress is, plainly and simply, to recognize that whatever it is, it’s not that big of a deal.  At least most of the time.  If I’m two minutes late to something, it will be okay.  If I miss a homework assignment, my life is still the same.

I just want to be more conscious of the stresses that are happening by knowing that so many more people out there face life-or-death situations and stresses every single day, while I complain about not having enough time to go to dance shows and concerts.

It’s helpful if we can see situations according to how much impact it will make in our lives.  It would make sense to stress about certain things, but not all.

 

 

 

Undress the Stress: Day 37

In retrospect I think I had more stressful moments during the day than I noticed.

  • Financial Aid.  So my financial situation with my study abroad program still isn’t 100% resolved but there is nothing I can do about it.  Different departments throughout campus are involved in updating the statement and they are all running on their own schedules, so it would be impossible to tell when the official balance will be posted.
  • Visa Application.  I had to go to the Financial Aid office to ask them to write a letter to the Spanish consulate as part of my visa application and since my financial aid statement has not been updated by my university yet, we had trouble with the contents of the letter.  I’m going to the consulate tomorrow and after struggling to get this letter, I finally have all of the materials for my application so that’s a huge relief for me.  WHEW.
  • Time.  In general I just felt stressed about time today.  It goes too fast sometimes.   I had about eight things on my to-do list for the day and they all had to be done in such a specific order so it was even more difficult because of that.  I had phone calls to make, e-mails to send, meetings to attend, etc. etc.  Now that the day’s over, I’m enjoying looking back and knowing that I got a lot done.
  • Papers.  Over the weekend and the last few days, I wrote a 12-page paper, a 5-page paper, three 2-page papers, and a 3-page article.  In case you’re too lazy to do the addition, that equals 26 pages of writing.   Once again, in retrospect I’m really enjoying looking back and seeing how much I got done.  That’s 26 less pages I’ll have to write for the rest of this semester.
  • Donation sorting.  So tomorrow night I’m going into the city with the Midnight Run again and tonight we spent the night sorting through all of the clothing donations, which was an INSANE amount.  I’m talking several bins full of clothing.  And that doesn’t include the number of bins with all of the toiletry/food donations.  Anyways, it took about four hours to sort the clothing by style and size, and then to box all of them.  I’m in charge of the men’s shirts (sweaters/sweatshirts/fleeces, polos, and dress shirts) and my pile was so overwhelming and enormous.  At the end of the night I had about ten boxes full of organized clothing that I am so excited to hand out tomorrow!  So although I was plenty stressed while doing it, I knew that it was for a wonderful cause and that I would be reward for all of my labor tomorrow night.

Another time/stress management lesson we learned in my stress management class is to make A, B, and C To-Do Lists.

Your ‘A List’ should be a list of priorities and time-sensitive errands and responsibilities.  This is the list you check first and foremost.

The ‘B List’ is a list of things that also need to be done, but not necessarily on a specific or immediate deadline.

Finally, the things on the ‘C List’ are things you want to do if you can and if you find the time, preferably after the previous two lists are finished.

This class is always pleasantly surprising to me because I find that many of the lessons and tricks we learn to manage our stress are things that I already do.  I stretch and meditate as part of my morning routine, I am generally assertive (middle ground between passive and aggressive), and my life is held together by my to-do list.  It truly is the little things that help relieve us of our big worries.

Help your body, help your mind, make a list.  That’s what I learned today.