Current Events

The Weekenders | Connecting with my Greater Good in a Hike for Haiti

DSC_0003 This weekend, I have learned again that things happen for a reason.

Back in September, my mom had asked all of us if we wanted to do a "Hike for Haiti" for our church.  I was reluctant because it was early on a Saturday (yes, I am that lazy).  However, her desire to do it outweighed my reluctance to get up early for one Saturday, so I registered along with her.

One month after registering, this past week before the hike, I was feeling pretty down.  I felt lazy and lonely with a short wick of patience.  When I have weeks like this, there really is no hope for me to get anything done - or to want to get anything done.  I will watch too much TV, eat too much ice cream, decide that I can exercise next week, and avoid contact with people, even my family members.

So, going to this weekend's Hike for Haiti wasn't really something I was looking forward to.  However, after a night out with my parents and family friends, I was kind of looking forward to going outside and being active - even if it meant just walking around.  I had also decided to cover the event as a Noozhawk intern, so it'd would be nice to write something afterwards and get something out there on the web.

As it turns out, the Hike was really a refreshing experience for me.

When we got to Manning Park, where the Hike began, one of the first people I ran into was my first childhood friend, Katie.  She was always a bright ray of sunshine in my life as a middle-schooler, and she's still exactly the same person.  Ok, not exactly the same, but still as much infused with unicorns and candy in every fiber of her being as she was before.

I was able to meet a lot of people at the event thanks to Sr. Kathleen Patrice, who I've known since I was a little kid at elementary school.  The Hike was also a benefit for a local nonprofit called Destined for Grace and I was able to meet the founders and talk with them.  The organization has a lot of thrift shops in the area, those of which I love going to, and all the profits made at these thrift shops fund a school in Haiti.

And as the Hike started, my mom walked alongside some old friends and I was able to hang out with my brother and talk with him as we walked together. He and my dad were acting like goofballs the whole way there.  It was nice to be together.

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From the beginning of the week to the Hike, I felt like anything I did had no meaning.  Things would happen and no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I could not change the outcome of things.  For example, no matter how hard I try to wake up early, it will never happen.  I could go to my parents' prayer group, but I'm not close enough with everyone to make a difference.  I have also been brooding about things that are happening outside of my control, like where my boyfriend will go to med school.

Sometimes, in the words of someone who works with me, I was just having a hard time last week.  It's not like anything has triggered these emotions (maybe hormones have), but I just feel them all at once.

I am not saying that going on the Hike for Haiti made my feelings go away, but something alleviated these feelings.  Action, and it didn't benefit just me.  I decided initially to go on the Hike for my mom.  And I covered the event for my news organization because I didn't think anyone in our community knew about this great event and about Destined for Grace.

Life is always a work-in-progress.  It will never be perfect and I will not always be happy.  But I think what I can take away from all of this is that action is always the best medicine.  Writing it all down, going on a walk, anything.  The less selfish the action is, the better.

I recently came across this quote that explained it perfectly for me.

Greatness lies, not in being strong, but in the right using of strength; and strength is not used rightly when it serves only to carry a man above his fellows for his own solitary glory. He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts by the attraction of his own.

- Ovid

So instead of using my strength to worry about myself, I need to remember to use it in the action of taking care of others.  That's where my happiness lies.

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Life Lessons at 22

Image I turned 22 last week.  My birthday passed by pretty uneventfully, which is unusual.  My mom usually asks me what I want to do for my birthday three weeks in advance - either a party or some trip or something.  This year, we kept things quiet.  And I'm glad for it.  It has given me time to spend with the people who are really closest to me and reflect on the past year.

I mean, last year was kind of a big year - I turned 21, went on big girl nights out, had my lasts at USD, graduated, and got some work for myself.   When I turned 21, I set out to have the perfect senior year.  I set out to have a job lined up when I got out of school, I wanted to participate in every possible thing that I could before I left school, and I wanted to get some good use out of my youth while I was with my friends (a.k.a. go to clubs and be crazy).

The past year was possibly the craziest year ever - balancing school, work, and going crazy was a lot harder than I thought.  I was angry and upset for a lot of that year because the balance was off.  All of my responsibilities were taking up all of my time, my boyfriend and I were trying the long-distance thing, my parents grew increasingly excited about my graduation as I grew increasingly more nervous and sad - it was all just too crazy.

I've been wanting to write about what I learned in the past year, and it's really hard to come up with just one thing.  While life has settled down a little bit, the crazy isn't completely gone from my life.  Schedules are similar, but problems are different.  I'm learning new things about myself every day.  I'm learning how to budget my earnings, I'm learning to play the guitar and sing at the same time.

I think the most important thing I've learned about myself in the past year is that I can be really hard on myself.  I wanted to do so much last year, but I ended up getting more crazy than I would have liked.  I know that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to and that I can get what I want - I just have to take it slow, be kind to myself, be disciplined, and remember that nothing comes easily.

As my life just begins, I want to remember these things.  There are a lot of goals I want to meet in the next year, in the next five years.  And looking ahead, I know it's not going to be easy.  All I can do is take it one day at a time.

Why the racism surrounding Miss America 2013 makes me want to cry

On Sunday night, Nina Davuluri was crowned Miss America.  She is the first Indian-American woman to win the crown.

This is really something we should be celebrating, right?  Miss America is really honoring the tradition of "The Melting Pot" that it was built on.

However, it was made pretty obvious that our "post-racial America" doesn't want to share in the celebration.  Buzzfeed posted an article featuring choice Twitter posts bashing Davuluri, a.k.a. Miss New York, after she was crowned Miss America.

Many have things to say about the following:

  • The fact that she is not American because she is an "Arab"
  • That her win was in bad taste being that it was a few days after the anniversary of 9/11
  • "This is America. How can a brown-skinned girl win the "Miss America" pageant?" or "Miss Kansas should have won because she is white and blonde and likes tattoos and shoots guns and that is what America really is."

First of all, Davuluri is Indian.  The term "Arab" generally refers to people from the Middle East and Northern Africa.  (I looked it up to make sure.  Please tell me if I'm wrong.  Please.)

Second of all, yes, people of a certain ethnic group were responsible for 9/11 tragedy, but, NO, it does not give you the right to equate brown skin with terrorism.  Violence is done by people of all skin colors.

Third of all, EVERY country has  ALL types of people in them.  Why is that?  The world has become globalized.  And why is that?  Because there are opportunities for EVERYONE in many different countries.  Everyone has a right to a dignified life wherever they are (as long as they're not hurting anybody) and NOBODY deserves to be persecuted simply because they look a certain way.

To sum it up, don't hate because a brown girl now represents the USA, because surprise, surprise many brown girls who live in and were born in America identify as American.  Not only does hate alienate one girl who is a very talented Bollywood dancer, but also, it alienates many other people who don't deserve to feel alone in their own country.

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Thanks for reading my rant.  As any type of commentary/critical article has, this probably has a lot of flawed/skewed ways of thinking.  Please note that I'm not an expert, but I have an interest in these kinds of social issues and I definitely appreciate constructive criticisms/continuing dialogue about what I'm saying above.

A Stroll Through Lotusland

A Stroll Through Lotusland I got to visit Lotusland today, and it is truly worth the visit for all of you nature-lovers.  For those of you not familiar, Lotusland is a magical garden in the middle of Montecito, California.  It is the historic estate of Polish opera singer Ganna Walska, who was a plant enthusiast and (from what it sounds) an extremely eccentric woman.  These botanical gardens were her masterpiece. She spent years collected the plants in the estate and creating a unique habitat for each type of plant, including succulents, bromeliads, and cacti.

There are very few flowers in the estate - it was said that she wanted to be the only flower in her garden.

Here's more from our trip!

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Learn more about Lotusland.  If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!