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I’m sitting in the living room of my childhood home. My family dog, Wayne, is snoring to the left of me, and the wind makes a familiar whoosh sound through the open back door.

Just three more days until I head back to school, and I’m in denial that I’m going to be a junior in college. I look back and realize how slowly the days go by, yet how quickly the years fly. And here I am, back at home, just days before a new school year, packing up my childhood bedroom.

My mom’s selling our house. It’s a long, complicated, and sad story, but it’s time to let it go. I’ve known all summer. And I live on my own now, in the city, somewhat distanced and removed from the suburban life I grew up in. I still have enormous amounts of stuff in my childhood bedroom. It’s ridiculous how much one can accumulate in a mere 20 years. I feel like a hoarder.

I’ve told myself time and time again that I’ll come home and clean out my room. It’s a daunting task, true, but for more emotional reasons than anything else. I’m packing up my life, letting the stagers come in and take over my bedroom, so they can turn it into something entirely different to sell it to some new family. So they can build new memories and new stories in-between these four walls.

I didn’t have the perfect childhood, but I was a very happy child. I saw a lot of pain and struggle, but I was a very happy child. I witnessed a lot of neglect and abuse, but I was a very happy child.

As I put years of elementary, middle, and high school into boxes, I think about how lucky I have been to have a home to create so many memories in. Good or bad, these memories have shaped me. And I think I’m starting to like who I am.

I’m feeling grateful for not only this home, but my wonderful, eccentric, and slightly disturbed little family that made this house a home. As I grow and learn and begin anew, I’m starting to realize regardless where I rest my head at night, my home is always with them.

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Happy Monday! What better way to start the week than to consciously decide it’s going to be a good one? I have so many incredible things to be grateful for today (and every day) but I’ve been sitting with something in particular that I want to share in this post. I’m feeling especially thankful for the struggle and pain I’ve been going through the past year or so. Especially the past 6 months, I’ve faced a lot of demons and hardships that have seemed to knock me down over and over again. I’ve battled extreme depression and anxiety, personal heartbreak, and an overwhelming amount of grief within some family-related situations. This has been by far the most difficult time in my life and there were some days when I just didn’t know how I would get through.

The past month or so has been an uphill climb, but I’m starting to see the peaks of my life once again. I am starting to feel lighter, more myself. I’ve been laughing more, loving more, and enjoying each day a little more. I’ve been connecting with people more authentically and honestly once again, and I can feel myself break down some of the walls I built for myself. Lately, life has been better – a lot better. And I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’m now processing and moving forward from some situations, but I also think it’s because I’ve made a conscious effort and decision that my life will be good. That there’s no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it… My life is going to be full of celebration and joy.

People will knock you down. Life will punch you in the gut more than once. What matters is that you get back in the ring, a little stronger, a little kinder, a little wiser than you were before. I find that a lot of the people I admire most in my life are people that have gone through some of the toughest pain, and I think that’s because experiencing deep struggle within oneself often teaches great compassion towards others.

In the moment, I hated the pain. I resented it. I was so incredibly frustrated with how much I was struggling that I couldn’t see yet see the upside to the experience. Now that  my head and heart are both a little clearer, I can see the incredible lessons I’ve learned in not only the way I treat myself, but the way I treat others. The way I treat my life – as a gift.

Today I’m meditating on this idea – the immense blessing that pain can be. The incredible Truth that can be found by hitting rock bottom, and then using that as the foundation in which to rebuild your life. Today I’m celebrating the beauty of pain.

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Angeline and I at one of the office’s photo booth days!

Is it any surprise that I missed another Gratitude Journal post? Well, I suppose I didn’t miss it, but I’m fashionably late once again. In my defense, this past Sunday I was at Seattle’s Bumbershoot music festival for three days and was extremely distracted and exhausted. Sundays may be poor days to schedule these posts, after all.

Nevertheless, today is Wednesday and Wednesdays are always great days to focus on the many things we have to be grateful for to get us over the hump of the week!

I’ve been thinking about what I want this post to be about, and today it just feels right to write about how thankful I am for my internship experience thus far. As many of you know due to previous blog posts/videos/giveaways, I’ve been working for a small philanthropic business called Compendium this past spring and summer. I’m working on their Sales and Marketing team, and although my heart doesn’t belong necessarily in that sect of the company, I still have gained so much from my experience.

I don’t see myself doing sales or marketing for a company, and I’m not even sure I want to build a career in the for-profit realm, but if I ever were to work for a for-profit long-term, it would be this one. I’ve gotten to own and work on my own projects, I have been well-respected within the company by my co-workers (and friends!), and this community of people clearly wants to make a positive impact on the world. Although driving sales is definitely a primary goal of any company, Compendium truly seeks to create products that inspire individuals and families to lead happier lives. And if I feel comfortable selling anything, it’s going to be happiness.

Talking to my fellow college students who have been interning this summer, so many of them are working 7 am – 7 pm days, and most of that time is spent getting coffee for people. Most of my friends are not respected in their work environment, and they really just do most of the dirty work around the office. My internship experience has been so different from that that I cannot even begin to imagine what kind of working environment that would be like. At the end of the day, I just feel so incredibly blessed that this opportunity fell into my lap like it did.

I feel very secure in the fact that I was meant to have this job experience. I was meant to get a taste of this kind of business, seeing as all my other internship experiences have been for NGO’s. I was meant to get a glimpse into this company, and I feel like there’s a high possibility I may end up back here after graduation.

The Compendium family is very aware of my blog, so if any of my co-workers are reading this by chance, I just want to say thank you for making this such an incredibly positive experience for me. As I head into my junior year of college, I feel a little more stable in the fact that I’m half-way through school and will be facing the “real world” sooner than I think. Seeing the joy and satisfaction these employees get out of their work gives me hope for my future, and I’m beyond grateful that I’ve been able to witness that.

If you would like to check out what Compendium is all about, click here to visit their website or read some of the blog posts that include their products!

xx

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Welp! I already failed at this new project of writing a post on gratitude every Sunday. To be fair, I had a busy day yesterday and it simply just didn’t cross my mind. But I’m at work right now on my lunch break, and it hit me that I didn’t post yesterday for The Gratitude Journals! Better late than never, right?

Mondays are great days to spend time meditating on all that I have to grateful for, too! It’ll help me start off my week in the mindset that I desire, and it will bring forth more positivity and light throughout the next 7 days undoubtedly. So here goes it.

Today I am feeling incredibly thankful for my health and the health of my family. I was having dinner with a friend and his family last night, and his parents were asking about how my family was doing – in particular, how the older members of my family were doing health-wise. I replied with the habitual “good, good”, but it really did get me thinking about how blessed I am that my health is in good condition, and that my family isn’t facing any major complications.

That isn’t to say that everything is perfect. My mother is disabled and struggles quite a bit, as well as other people that are close to me. But nobody is facing a life-threatening disease and nobody has cancer. Thank God.

It’s easy to focus on how those I love are struggling. Because, to be frank, there are quite a few people in my life that are struggling right now. But as I sat with my thoughts last night after dinner, I realized that the only way to bring forth healing for myself and those I love is to focus my energy on all that is good. And there really is so much that is good.

So thank you God for all that is right and well. Thank you for my health, and the health of those around me. Although not everything is ideal by any means, my family is alive and I am alive, and I am beyond grateful for everyday that I get to share with them. Despite the pain I’ve witnessed growing up, it has brought me closer to Love and to You. And for that, I have something to eternally celebrate.

Welcome to the first post in a new series I’m going to start on my blog titled “The Gratitude Journals”. It is my personal goal that every Sunday, I am going to write a post about something/someone I am grateful for. Perhaps some weeks it will be in a list format, or perhaps it’ll be a more detailed story I have to share. Nevertheless, it’s a weekly commitment I’m making to myself to share and spread the gratitude. Each and every one of us, after all, has so much to be grateful for… An endless, infinite list of things to celebrate in this life. How easy it is to forget that sometimes. It has to be a choice to make gratitude the focus in our lives so that we attract more of those positive and life-giving experiences and people. Your energy is your life force, and it drives all that you do and all that you attract. So you better make it good!

In the end, I’m starting this series not only because I know it will better my existence, but also in hopes that it will inspire you to better your own. Maybe it’ll have you thinking more often about your own story and your own blessings. I sure hope so.

Sunday just feels like the right day to write about this. Not only is it God’s day in many monotheistic religions, but it’s also just a day of peace for so many regardless of spiritual beliefs. I have my weekends off from work and school, and although I’m usually busy with homework and studying during the school year, I always try to make Sunday’s a deliberate day of relative relaxation so that I can start my week of on the right foot. Sundays are beautiful days of reflection and collection.

This Sunday in particular has been one filled with video editing, chai tea lattes, and harry potter! It’s currently 5:00 pm and I’m sitting on my couch, trying to focus on this blog post as I hear the background noise of some man outside my window struggling as he moves a latter, and Alastor Moody scolding one of his students in The Goblet of Fire. As I sit here and think about some of the many things I have to be grateful for, I keep coming back to music. Music has always been incredibly therapeutic and rejuvenating for me. It has been one of the most consistent companions I’ve had in this lifetime, as it’s seen me through the light and dark that life has presented.

There’s nothing that exhibits the kind of beauty that music does. Music is magic. It’s breathtaking and incomparable. I can’t imagine life without music.

I’m actually heading to a concert tonight to enjoy some incredible music, and it’s a funny story how it all came together. My friend, Jorge, told me he had an extra ticket to see Miguel a few weeks ago. I immediately said I’d be more than happy to take that ticket off his hand, but soon realized that I actually already made plans for the day of the concert. One of my best friends just moved back home after living in LA for 4 months, and today was supposed to be her welcome home party. I sadly had to cancel with Jorge (and Miguel), and he offered the ticket to another friend of his.

This morning I had every intention of going to the welcome home party that had been planned for over a month. I told Jorge I was jealous and would be vicariously experiencing the concert through his snapchat. As it turns out, the party got cancelled last minute. I was bummed because I realized that I could’ve actually gone to the concert, but now the ticket was already given to somebody else.

Just minutes later, Jorge told me his other friend got called into work and he officially had another ticket again! It was so serendipitous and spur of the moment. So now I’m heading out to this concert in an hour, feeling really centered and amazed at how everything seemed to fall right back into place. I suppose the Universe wants me to go drool over Miguel and his beautiful music tonight; I’m not complaining. It’s so funny how life unfolds.

I’m grateful for music. For its tremendous power to move people and to heal the broken. For its incredible ability to speak to the very core of our existence as humans. For its community and camaraderie.

As much as I could sit here and write for hours about my favorite artists, songs, lyrics, and concerts, I’ve got to get off my butt and get ready for this Miguel concert! Eeeeek I’m so excited.

Before I sign off, though, I want to ask you: What are you feeling incredibly grateful for? What serendipitous moments have occurred recently that have shown you how truly incredible, mysterious, and wonderful this life is? Spend some time meditating on those two questions, and I guarantee the answers will lift your spirits. What a joy it is to be alive! What a joy it is to be humming and dancing and singing along to the soundtrack of our lives!