Daily Journey Journal #344: over perfectionism

From May 6, 2015

Being a perfectionist is my nature. A thing cannot be declared finished until I’ve tweaked it for the umpteenth time. Such perfectionism can be a good thing, but as I’ve learned the hard way in the past, it can also cause an enormous amount of distress.

My fourth year at university, I was taking 21 credit hours of class and working part time. Stress haunted my every step and I was never far from a meltdown, the long list of things to-do so great some days that I could hardly eat. All of that stress added up and one day I woke up completely unable to eat any dairy without causing myself extreme, debilitating pain. Through trial and error with dairy alternatives, I realized I was allergic to a specific protein found in dairy which is also used in non-dairy cheese. Any consumption of the protein put knives in my stomach and made breathing excruciating. At that point, I was pretty sure my life was over- what was eating if I couldn’t have cheese?!

Since that semester, my stress levels have decrease significantly and after several months, the allergy went away. Today, I strive to maintain my stress in order to avoid re-starting the allergy. So, over the last few years, I’ve learned to let go of my perfectionism as much as possible.

Sometimes, letting go is a conscious choice, one that I spend time convincing myself to make. Other times, like today, it is a choice made simply by the lack of time. And so it is I find myself turning in a project that does not meet my standards. It is sub-par work in my mind. But, your know something?

That feels amazing.

The stress is gone, the pressure if off, and I’ve kept things in perspective. This is one project in the grand scheme of life. In the end, it isn’t worth losing sleep over. It is what it is and tonight, I can sleep peacefully, no worries left to prey on me.

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Daily Journey Journal #286: remembering

From March 9, 2015

Twelve years ago today my grandpa left this earth. In spirit, he had been gone months longer, defeated by the cancer that was slowing destroying his body. The bullet that ended his breath was but an end to a life that could no longer live.

It took me years to understand this, to accept it. The smallest things would remind me of him and I often found myself sliding down the slippery slope of regret and grief. With time, words and wandering I have come to an understanding about his passing. I know that the decision he made was to minimize suffering, his suffering, our suffering. The decision he made was to save his dignity before it was lost again to the soup of drugs and treatments that would rob him of who he was. That decision changed my life and left scars that still have not healed completely, but I cannot find fault with it.

I understand it.

Today, I know my grandpa is watching over us, guiding us and helping us through the bumps in the road. He is the sunshine turning our windows golden, the soft breeze brushing my cheek, the sunset that fills the sky like an artist’s canvas. He is there, just a thought away whenever I need him.

Rest in peace, grandpa. You are with me always.

Daily Journey Journal #278: learn like a kid

Today was the last day of the kids’ ski program and it was a perfect day for it. The weather cooperated for us, which meant we could have one last long ski together. And, what a ski it was.

When we started class six weeks ago, no one could put on their own skis. It took us a good twenty minutes that first day to get everyone’s gear on and skis pointed down the trail. We went maybe a mile, spending the majority of our time falling in the snow every few steps and trying to learn how to untangle ourselves from tree roots and snowbanks. One girl took off her skis to go both up and down hills. One boy stopped only when he ran into something and fell over.

Today, the picture couldn’t have been more different. All the students had their skis on before I even arrived and had them check in. They took off down the trails, steady on their skis and quick to stand up when they fell. They were excited to retrace trails from the previous weeks and even more excited to try a new route. They went up and down hills like they were nothing. All those fears, all those insecurities, all those difficulties from day one were gone. Today, they weren’t learning how to ski.

Today, they were skiers.

We only had four lessons together, so if there is any credit to be given for the students’ rapid progression, it is to themselves. They learned how to ski simply by being kids and from them I learned how to learn better by watching them watching me.

10 ways to learn better

  1. adapt quickly
  2. overcome your fears
  3. be determined
  4. stand up when you fall down
  5. be confident even when you have no idea what you are doing
  6. befriend someone you just met
  7. be observant
  8. trust yourself
  9.  try new things
  10. enjoy something, even if it is difficult

Daily Journey Journal #256: peas in a pod

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From February 7, 2015

I met one of my best friends in the world, MM, the day I moved into the dorms freshman year if university. Awkward, painfully shy and intimidated by just about everyone, I quickly crafted a giant iceberg between me and all my fellow floor mates. MM, however, being the charmingly determined and logical person she is, ignored the iceberg, walked right over it and proceeded to melt it with her sweetness and hand of friendship. She pulled me into conversations about our classes and offered tid-bits about her life, and before I knew it, we were just about inseparable. It is safe to say, my life has never been the same and for that I am so thankful.

MM is the sort of person I would have been incredibly intimated by in high school. She is highly intelligent, driven, enthusiastic, funny, knowledgeable about all sorts of obscure things, devours books like chocolate, loves grammar and is not afraid to talk to most any stranger. She has an amazing knack for befriending just about anyone and her kindness draws people to her. She is the most compassionate and dedicated friend I have ever had in my life and I am happy to say that our friendship has weathered it all- the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

We learned the rough way that it isn’t always wise to live with your best friend. We learned the harder way that living with complete strangers is sometimes even less wise.We learned how to remain loyal, close friends through struggle and strife, stress and frustration. We learned how to support one another in becoming the women we want to be and in following our dreams.

After five years of challenging and learning from each other, I wasn’t sure what would become of us, of the friendship that had changed my life, changed me. It was hard to picture a day-to-day existence without MM nearby. But our paths diverged in a big way, and we took to our feet to wander towards our dreams. And, that was when we learned the most important lesson: how to remain strong friends despite the separation of time and distance.

We didn’t stay in close touch like we hoped we would.

We didn’t talk as much as we thought we would.

We didn’t do all the things people say you have to do to stay close over distance.

But, none of that mattered.

In a whirlwind visit today, we found that sometimes distance has no effect on friendship and that picking up where you left off is as easy as remembering to ride a bike. We still know each other almost better than we know ourselves, still share that nearly simultaneous brainwave that let’s us know what the other is thinking, still share the quirks that brought us together six, almost seven years ago.

We are still two peas in a pod, and will be for the rest of our lives. The pod might just have to stretch a bit to keep us together.

 

 

Daily Journey Journal #240: hours more

Lately I’ve felt like I don’t have quite enough time to keep up with everything: a career, writing, running, reading, dancing, taking photos, time with A, relaxing, cooking, sleeping, eating…There is so much I want to do and just so little time to do it all, all the time. Some things have to give. Usually those things end up being reading, relaxing, taking photos and/or writing, unfortunately. Thus, I’ve found myself wishing that I had just a bit more time in the day, say a couple of hours.

But, then I think about it and I have to ask, would a couple of hours really make a difference?

Probably not.

A day could be filled with infinitely many things if it never ended and still, there wouldn’t be time for everything. Instead, you would live life in one day and never feel like you had a second chance to do something. In the end then, I suppose a day’s limited hours is a blessing. If there isn’t time for everything in one day, then life is brimming full of things you love. Those things that spill over can be carried over to the next day, a joy waiting to happen.

Daily Journey Journal #232: leftover habits

Korea is now fading to a warm, happy memory in my mind, rather than a life I just left, but some parts of my life there have yet to leave me. Some days I just crave spicy, burn-your-tonsils-out food and rolls of kimbap (like sushi, but with no fish). Other days I miss not understanding people and being able to tune out the horrible news blaring from radios and TV stations.

But, I think the things that have stuck the most are the habits I developed. For instance, I still haven’t returned to eating tons of bread and pasta like I did before living in Korea. And, I still tend to think that we need to eat rice multiple times a week. We have also continued to buy almost all produce at the grocery store and not processed food, a habit which I am happy to have stick around.

My weirdest habit from Korea though, is drinking tons and tons of hot water. Now, I think this is not a normal thing for Koreans to do, but our apartment was freezing last winter and we didn’t have a lot of non-caffeinated tea, so I took to drinking mugs of hot water. Even now, with a plethora of tea, I drink between two and six cups of hot water a day. I love the warmth and for some reason, the simplicity of it makes me feel calm and peaceful. I am settled and focused once I have my cup and ready to take on the next thing.

And tonight, that next thing is bed.

See you tomorrow!