A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Truth through Simplicity September 23, 2009

There is something about the sense of freedom and adventure that makes my heart jump and wild butterflies soar around my tummy like that of a first kiss. The idea of letting everything go and falling into the unknown is exhilarating–it makes me feel present in this world, it makes me feel alive.

Small things can spark these feelings of liberation: a powerful push of a car’s accelerator, an unexplored hiking trail, a secluded swimming cove or even a simply designed movie poster.

“What is so special about this movie poster?” one may ask, “it is just a house suspended in air by a bunch of balloons.”

“Oh, my dear friend,” I would like to say. “This illustration represents freedom. Imagine for a moment that you could just leave everything behind and explore the world. And, not even in the traditional sense–you wouldn’t need to go through all of today’s politics of selling your house, packing your things, organizing your accounts–oh no, you could simply tie balloons to your house, lift off and be gone. No hassle. No fuss. Simply–a flight of freedom.”

Now I haven’t yet seen the film–it will be released next month in Italy–but, you can bet that I will be one of the first customers in line when the ticket booth opens. Like Disney/Pixar’s last film WALL-E which contains important messages regarding environmental destruction, reliance on technology and obesity; Up also contains messages about today’s American society, and specifically about our common state of thinking in the Future instead of thinking in the Now.

In this story, Carl and Ellie meet as children, fall in love, are inseparable throughout adulthood and share the same dream from when they were young–to explore the South American jungles. But, jobs, health issues and daily life get in the way and before Carl knows it he is old and widowed and has yet to fulfill his dream. Yet, although life sometimes gets away from us, there is always the Now to make a change. And, at 78, Carl decides that Now is the only time he has. So geared with thousands of balloons tied to his house, he let’s himself be lifted UP…UP…and AWAY, to start his adventure and to finally live out his dream.

This message, although told through a simple animated film, is an important one. Each day we have the opportunity to live life how we want to live, yet many of us let go of the balloon we hold in our hands–our dreams–to fulfill the practical side of life with the intention that “someday I can hold start living, someday I can hold that balloon again.”  But, this is pure madness. You don’t hold in your hand, “someday”, you hold in your hand “now.” That is all you have or will ever have. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Think about your dreams. Don’t let them float away like a stray balloon; instead, take those dreams, hold them tight, and let them carry you UP.

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But, what? April 19, 2009

Filed under: Daily Life — italicana kitchen @ 1:04 pm
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Worse than the word “like” that seems to pepper my speech like powder on a donut, covering the cakey circle in layers of sugary dust that makes a mess on my fingers, a white mustache on my face and sprinkles what looks like dandruff on my clothes, turning me from the classy lady, to a sticky fingered embarrassed child, is the word “but”. Yes, the world “but” is worse than the world “like”. I can wash my hands, wipe my face and shake the powder from my clothes and—voila, like magic, no one knows that I had eaten a 500 calorie, trans-fat, unhealthy donut. If anyone asks, for all they know I could have eaten an apple.

The word “but”, however, is a word that reveals your secret and exposes your weakness forcing you to lose face by admitting your action and puts you on the spot as you attempt to string together a set of justified excuses or, in the end, a handful of lies.

“I saw your car at the donut shop, I thought you were trying to lose weight,” a friend might ask.

“Ummm…yes….” I would stutter, “I am but I didn’t have time to make oatmeal this morning so I stopped for  a donut instead.”

But…but…but….excuses, excuses, excuses. Why is it, that we let this word frequent our speech and furthermore, accept the explanations as justified reasons instead of just owning up to our faults, flaws or weaknesses? How many times have we heard or said, “Sorry I am late, but….”, or “I would like to do that, but…”

Stop. Stop with the excuses. Eliminate this word. Change your life. If you want to lose weight, no excuses—eat healthy and exercise. If you dream of traveling but are stuck in your 9 to 5, no excuses—start saving your money and figure out ways to incorporate traveling into your life. If you’ve always wanted to take a painting class, learn Spanish, grow prize-winning flowers, fly-fish in a fresh water stream, or go back to school, no excuses—formulate a strategy and make time.

If you eliminate excuses, then you’ll begin to lead a life of action. Instead of littering your life with broken promises and unfulfilled dreams, you’ll be filling your life with a desire, commitment, dedication and perseverance to make a change, taking charge of your actions, your future, and your life. By removing “but” from your vocabulary, you’ll be able to replace it with the most powerful phrase, “I am”.

 

What it means to be Courageous January 29, 2009

My friend Linea is courageous; her story, inspirational. She is one of the millions of people who suffer from bipolar, yet so many of whom are too afraid to talk about there illness. Her mother, Cinda, teaches about mental health conditions, yet as a mother had to watch her daughter spiral into suicidal depression. Together they have written a book that broaches this topic from both angles, as a person afflicted with bipolar disorder, and a loved one’s family fighting to save a life. Together they share their experience in hopes to raise awareness and bring hope to those who are affected with bipolar.

Because of the current stigmas of bipolar in today’s society, many chose to remain silent, paralyzed by the fear of what others may think or how they would react if someone was to find out. Yet, this illness needs awareness. And, frankly–and this is just my opinion–I don’t like the word “illness” as most medical journals describe it. The word sounds cold and sterile, making you uneasy before you know what it means or understand what it is. The word “disorder” is a bit better. Imagine your  bedroom in disorder–clothes scattered on the floor, books strewn on the desk and the bed is unmade. Is a messy room scary? Is a messy room horrible? No. A messy room is life. Sometimes you just don’t have time to make your bed, or do your laundry. Sometimes things in your room are in disorder, just like, the emotions and thoughts in one’s head for people afflicted with bipolar. And, whereas you are responsible for your messy room, a person with bipolar gets the raw end of the deal–he/she didn’t chose to have  bipolar, it is a brain disorder that happens to them.

So this time, imagine that instead of you making the mess in your room, a stranger comes into your room and starts trashing it–clothes are ripped from the hangers, the sheets torn off the bed, and someone (that bastard!) ripped all of the pages from your favorite book and chucked them across the floor. Now, further imagine that this happens everyday. Or, maybe not even every day, but maybe on a day that you were really really really happy, and then you came home to find your room in disarray. I would be angry at life. I would be depressed. And, depression and feelings of hopelessness are two of the biggest symptoms common with bipolar which can often spiral to more harmful moods or actions:

“As I moved through depression, mania, suicidal ideation, drugs, alcohol, an overdose, self-mutilation, and bulimia I knew I needed to make a difference for others struggling with the same demons. Hospitalized with a 24 hour one-on-one hospital aide I could not help but cry for those less fortunate than me. I cried for those unable to get the help they needed due to financial needs and many other issues.”–Linea Johnson

Fortunately for Linea, she had a loving family and supportive friends that were able to get her through her worst of times–she survived to tell her story. Unfortunately, however, many people afflicted with bipolar don’t tell anyone and they become suicidal before they can get help. If you have any of these symptoms, I encourage you to talk to someone. You are not alone. If you know someone with these symptoms, I encourage you to offer your support–and, if that is not enough, then help them get treatment or seek a doctor for medication.

Don’t be afraid to speak about this condition, there are millions dealing with bipolar everyday. It’s life, just like a messy room.  Things in life happen, but it’s our reaction to the situation that marks who really are. Be strong. Be courageous. Talk to someone, and get help if you need it. And, as Linea puts it, “bipolar is not an illness, but added wisdom.”

To find out more on bipolar, and to follow Linea and Cinda’s book go to their website

To learn about Linea’s struggle with bipolar and read words of inspiration, check out her blog.

To learn about Cinda’s role as a professor in special education and her experience as a mother of child with bipolar, refer to her blog

 

A Moment in History: The Inauguration of Barack Obama January 20, 2009

I am sitting on my parent’s tan couch, feet up on the ottoman, the sound of trumpets and loud cheering are filling the living room while I watch on television as President Elect Barack Obama walks down a red and blue carpet, his face wavering between smiles and concentrated thought before taking a seat in a blue leather armchair that faces out towards the hundreds of thousands of spectators that are bundled up in hats, gloves and warm coats on the National Mall in front of the capital as they wait with great enthusiasm for the inauguration of the 44th President to commence.

Now, less than an hour later, Barack Obama has been sworn in as the 44th President of the United States and has addressed the nation with the current challenges that face America as well as his optimistic visions in addressing these issues head on.

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time, but know this, America — they will be met,” he said.

I find comfort in these words. They are not inflated with illusions that all of America’s problems will magically vanish now that Obama is President. He does not sugarcoat the gravity of America’s situation nor does he promise instant resolutions. Instead, Obama is honest about the detrimental crises that face our society, and the challenge it will be to restore or improve the nation’s economic, political and social standings.

“The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise healthcare’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”

Obama’s goals for the nation are set high, and some may argue that they are unrealistic given our current situation.  Yet, why would we want a President who’s goals are set low? America does not need a President who is looking for a short fix for our nation in order to save face or to please the public. America does not need someone who wants to sew a patch on our current problems. America needs someone who is willing to rip that hole bigger, to rip out the old threads that are sewn in a zig zag mess or on the verge of breaking and to start new–thread and needle in hand, mending at the root of the problem even though it may take longer, yet, in the end it will be easier to sew a straight line.

A small goal is the same as a large goal, they are both goals and will only be accomplished by one thing…action. It is President Obama’s commitment towards action to address America’s challenges that will propel this nation forward.  President Obama will not coddle America through this recession, but rather challenge the public and the government to strive for high aspirations as we rebuild our society by combining imagination and courage to carve our own path and foundation for the future.