Today as I write, I find myself being distracted away from my in-comprehensive homework. I strongly dislike school. Its funny, because I used to love school. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being with friends nearby and the freedom that comes with being a university student. However I don’t like school. I love learning. I hate tests, homework and labs are not always the most exciting thing in the world. I like projects and presentations. Everything else gets in the way for me. I have found the some of the times I learned the most was when I was away from school. Like at my first internship and then my internship this last summer and when I went to the UK, Germany, Czech Republic and Israel. Or when I drove with my dad across the united states. And when I went to a political conference and met senators, governors and congress representatives from various states. I learn when I am in uncomfortable situations where I have to step outside my boundaries and reach out to build connections and friendships with those I am around. I have learned by serving the homeless. I’ve learned by reading and writing and painting. I’ve learned in sickness and in health. I’ve learned and continue to learn more about what I believe and stand for and what is important for me. I’ve learned when I am able to run and when I am walking. I learn by doing, thinking and saying. I learn with movement yet I have also learned by being able to stand still. I learn through pain, strength and joy. I am continuing to learn who I am. I am a learner and I hope for my life to be filled with life long learning.
I am grateful to be able to grow, learn and change.
Some doors are closed for reasons we may never understand. Others open to the unimaginable interior. I like to call this opportunity.
I like the mechanical elements of how doors work. I like there is a requirement to either push or pull. I think it’s fascinating how depending on the design of the mechanism a door can open “forward” or “backwards”. Technically it’s all relative to your reference point. Anyway that’s getting way too involved with the actual physics of the system. I like doors as a metaphor too. As an analogy to providing opportunity. A way to see differently or to change your life in a way that leads you with courage through the next passage way. Actually the way my thoughts are headed right now seem to be reminding me of the time summer of 2013 in Germany. In my international study abroad class about decision making in the EU, there was a girl in my class from the Netherlands. I sat next to her quite a bit. One day she told me about this famous and exotic labyrinth that she went to there in Berlin. Apparently it had also been shown on the Amazing Race. I was pretty much sold on this idea from then on. She told me how there was a bar and club attached to the labyrinth and how it was weird and trashy but very cool. Naturally I did what anyone else who was curious would do. I got a group of fellow classmates and they also happened to be in my program so I new them a bit better, and we took the U-bahn and S-bahn trains to get to the part in Berlin where this labyrinth was. Thankfully we made it there in time. We bought our tickets and then had to wait for an hour and a half. I remember being so nervous and so uncertain especially cause this place just seemed on another level of weird, hipster and creepy. It made me uncomfortable because it was so abstract and different. Finally the time came and we were called in. One by one each of us were taken to this brick wall. After watching this short clip I found myself pushing against the brick only to find that it was an illusion and really a door. Intuitively I took a step forward into a room that appeared to be small and shrinking….if I tried to explain this whole process to you, I might bore you and I’d probably fall asleep. So, long story short it was trip-y. It messed with my mind so much that when we left and were back on the train everything looked different and distorted. I barely slept that night cause every time I closed my eyes I saw all the gears, the room that looked like the interior of a tree, all those silicon/rubber strings we walked through. Just lots of colorful and off the wall images. I guess the point of the story was that I was scared about walking into the unknown yet I came out alive, thank G-d, and it changed my perspective. I felt happy to have faced my fear and challenged myself to do that more. I walked through a door that I didn’t even know was a door at the time and I think this applies to my life in more ways than just this story. It reminds me that everything happens for a reason. Teaches me a lesson and helps me grow and change to be who I am today. For that reason alone, doors are pretty great and I’m thankful for both the physical and spiritual doors opening and closing in my life taking me to my potential, to who I will be tomorrow!
Ps. This song is all about doors closing and leading you to the next opening, bringing you where you are supposed to go.
Today I am reminded of an awesome inspiring speech I heard sometime last year. I still remember it. It impacted me that much. This woman, Christine Caine, spoke about how we as individuals are made in the image of G-d. With that being said she compared individuals growth and development with G-d and life to be analogous to old cameras and how when you wanted to develop your film it had to be processed through a dark room only to come out as the beautiful portrait which you framed through your focus. This concept of dark rooms being the place for processing and developing into a beautiful picture is great!
Now to my story of photography. Ever since I can remember I loved being in photos and getting to take pictures even with those disposable cameras that I used to take to camp. Taking pictures and capturing memories was always special. When I was thirteen and had my Bat Mitzvah, my uncle gave me my first digital camera. I took so many pictures up until the time that it broke at the end of my freshmen year of high school. Then I saved up in order to buy a better digital camera and had done a little research to learn more. I always wanted an even better camera but didn’t have enough money for it.
Then after the accident, I found myself taking lots of pictures especially on my phone. I found myself really wanting a better camera. I think part of it was that, our driver who had died in the accident had loved to take pictures. She was really talented with photography too. I guess I wanted to be able to carry on what she couldn’t. Or something like that. So for my first birthday after the accident, my parents got me a better camera, more sleek, cool features and lots for me to explore and learn how to use. I began to go on photo adventures with friends so that I could learn to use my camera and see the world differently. Then last year I had saved up enough to invest in a DSLR camera, a step up and with many features I am still learning to use. I have gone on even more photo adventures and taken even more pics!
Photography for me is an opportunity to see the world from a different angle, view, perspective and focus. When I apply this understanding and application of photography to other areas of my life, I can approach problems from a new way and solve problems in a unique way. Photography is one of my many hobbies and I am grateful for what I learn and see through the lens. It gives me vision. For this, I am thankful.
Here I am in the middle of November thinking about the ocean. Thinking about how much I love the beach. Just a few weeks ago, a group of friends and I went down to the beach for some volleyball, bonfire, heads up (like charades) and just taking it easy. Although this summer I spent most of the four months in the middle of the midwest, I found myself at the beach something like 8 times before I left the west coast. That may not seem like a lot, but to me it was. And it was wonderful! I love the beach, there is something special and unique for me to go to ocean and to just breathe in the salty air. I have always felt this wonder when I find myself at the beach. I feel small. I feel like the world is enormous and I also feel like all the troubles of the world could be solved in one day if everyone understood just how big the universe can seem.
Anyway, I think a bigger and better reason why I love and how I feel like I can connect to the ocean. Its that I am like the ocean. I have fears, and when I face my fears its as if I have been carried off the shore and can no longer feel the sand between my toes. Its when my ability to float and tread water come in handy. There I am in the middle of the ocean unsure if I should keep swimming out or if I should just head back to shore. Its an interesting concept that once I get my toes wet and find myself wading deeper in, the further I am willing to go. Why go back to shore? That’d be easy. Plus, its fun and cool out here. I can see the world from a new angle and look at the horizon. My point through this story is not to go physically swimming out to the middle of the ocean, but rather the ocean is the place we are capable of going, its like our potential. The shore we leave is our fears. The shore we arrive at is our faith. The ocean is the opportunity to overcome and let go of our fears and allow ourselves to find faith in G-d and in ourselves. In our abilities, talents, strengths and even in learning of our weakness.
The ocean is an opportunity. The ocean is fear and faith. I can allow it to be fear if I only stay at the shore. Which tends to be my habit. Next time I go to the beach while its warm, I am going to have to push past those fears and allow myself to find and embrace faith. For that reason and for many more, I am grateful for the ocean.
ps. the video is weird but the lyrics are great!
Today I am grateful for hard decisions. I like to believe that some decisions are hard in order to make the results worth that much more. I am reminded of the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris which I had to read my freshmen year of college. This book along with an answer to my prayer seemed to encourage me to step out of my comfort zone and take the higher math class when I was presented with the opportunity (despite all my past math struggles). Or about my decision to go on birthright last year and then to make the decision to extend and stay longer. These are just two examples of decisions I had to make and that I felt pulled to make. I battled with what to do for a good chunk of time until I was remembered that I would much rather try and fail thousands of times than sit back watch and always wonder if I could have succeeded. All that being said, hard decisions are frustrating and difficult or different than what I am used to. But for me, the hard decisions often have simple answers at the right time and are driven by faith and the compass of my heart and soul. Hard decisions have led to some of the biggest opportunities that I’ve been blessed to experienced. Let’s go out and do hard things (and answer our hard decisions).
Today I am about to say things that 17 year old me would have laughed at. Back then I wasn’t a fan of writing and I hated reading. I disliked reading since I was little. It was a struggle for my parents as they would constantly try to push me to read for class and to read for pleasure. I refused. It may have had to do with the fact that when I was younger my eyes jumped around alot and so it made it difficult for me to read. As for writing, I just didn’t like it. I actually became rather quick at it and semi-decent. Then senior year things started to change within me. All of a sudden I found myself wanting and choosing to read. It was mainly Nicholas Sparks books but still, I was at least reading. *Spoiler alert: I began to actually like reading. As for writing I still wasn’t a huge fan.
Then the accident happened which sparked significant change in my lifestyle and my abilities. While going through cognitive therapy and trying to prepare for college courses, my speech and cognitive therapist challenged me to start reading, pretty much anything and she would give me silly little situations that I had to write about (according to the prompt). The first book I read I think was Beauty & the Beast (the kids editions). Then Junie B. Jones. Before I knew it I was laying around all day reading Tuesdays with Morri, Percy Jackson, Divergent and well the list goes on… As for the writing I found myself enjoying the creative aspect and the ability to imagine what I would do if the situation applied in my life. And lets just say some of these topics were rediculous: write about an experience going to the grocery store. Stuff like that. Yet, here I am writing for myself and to those who stumble upon this blog.
I am grateful for the fact that I love reading and writing now. Reading has allowed me the opportunity to learn, imagine and explore new ideas or opportunities a bit further. Writing has provided an opportunity for me to express myself, to think (outloud) and to reflect on my current or past situations and to aspire for a brighter and healthier future. Both reading and writing have and continue to help me discover the balance I have within me and to use that to better myself. Today I have much gratitude for reading and writing.
After a restful shabbat (sabbath) and being able to rest, rejuvenate and reboot for the week ahead today has been really helpful. Being able to have time to read, reflect and think has been good for my soul. Then hanging out this evening with one of my good friends and being able to catch up on the past month and on where we hope each of our futures are headed was wonderful. My friend, K, and I have a cool friendship that we happened to talk about tonight. Its funny because she graduate two years ago and at the time we weren’t really friends just acquaintances. She had studied Mechanical Engineering as well, yet for whatever reason we just never really became friends. Then last fall she was the TA and Lab instructor for my physics 2 course. She helped me to gain better understanding and application of the tough conceptual and physical questions. Along the way we realized we had so much in common and found ourselves talking and life outside of engineering and there our friendship was formed. It is an awesome friendship because often one of us is able to say just what the other needs to hear and yet is truthful enough to challenge the other to “do hard things” in order to achieve what we each truly want. She is awesome and such a blessing.
This evening I was talking about my uncertainty of what lies ahead upon graduation. It is something I have been struggling with ever since ending my internship in Ohio. I have been exploring and continue to explore all sorts of options because I just don’t know what is next or what I want to be next. However, K reminded me to look at my strengths and weaknesses and to realize that no matter what I do I will be able to be successful as long as I see the potential in that “investment”. She encouraged me to continue to pursuing these various different options and to learn more about these opportunities and all them to play out a little further. I really needed to be reminded of my drive and my capabilities and for that I am grateful.
Yesterday I also had a conversation with my career adviser, M, who has been helping me along the road for opportunities post-grad. M, encouraged me to start making lists of my top 5 options currently. Within this list to write why I could do it, why I couldn’t. I think I lack confidence in my capabilities and being reminded of my capabilities and drive has been really helpful.
All in all, what I am saying is I don’t know whats next. AND, its ok. It’s ok, because I am learning more about myself, my strengths, weaknesses and being reminded that once I figure out what I want, as long as G-d is also cool with it, then all that’s left is for me and my drive to push further. So unlike my post back in September, I do not feel lost in the maze of life and opportunities. Instead I am in the midst of the maze and searching each door and figuring out which path might lead me in the direction I wish to move. My next move is a question and uncertain, however, isn’t that the beauty in the game, the journey and the road ahead.