November, you’re one for the books

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pie

In November I pretty much went MIA. The truth is that I had too many spinning plates on my hands and some of them had to be dropped (or at least held still for a while). This November has been filled with memorable events and defining decisions. It’s just a month that I will remember for years to come and to honor it I want to write an extremely simplified recap of it. So here I go…

November started with good and sort of complicated news.ย There are so many chapters in my life that are coming to an end and making peace with this has been both hard and reassuring at the same time. But do you want to know what is harder than closing chapters? Opening them! And opening chapters means making decisions. It’s like you have a blank page to start over and while this is exciting, it is also very frightening. No big deal, we are just talking about the next 5 years of my life! *breaths into a paper bag* I wish I had a better idea of the things I want to do, as well as the places I want to them in. Sadly, as I’ve gotten older, the end goal seems to be clouded with so much fog that sometimes it’s hard to know where I need to go. But there’s always deadlines that push help me to make decisions and move forward. So I finally plugged the cord and made my decision and even though I’m still waiting for the panic attack to happen, I’ve decided to take a leap of faith. Here is to new beginnings!

Amidst this decision-making process, I celebrated my 23rd birthday! It was a fun weekend. The inauguration of the celebrations started with a marathon of season 2 of Stranger Things. I basically made my sister watch it together with me as part of my birthday (because I’m a coward that wouldn’t have done it alone). And yes, pretty quickly we were into it. On Saturday morning, I woke up to a special breakfast courtesy of my fabulous sister. Of course that means donuts and apple pie! My sister gave me a beautiful blouse that she made herself, flowers, and [insert drumroll sound] a food processor! I’ve wanted one for a long time now. I’ve added it to my cart so many times but Iย  never went through with it. And my sister she got it for me ๐Ÿ™‚ Then I watched Murder in the Orient Express because if there’s anything Agatha-Christie-related, I’m in. We finished the day shopping and having dinner with some friends where we ate the birthday cake I made for myself. I feel truly blessed for all the family and friends that showed their love for me in many different ways this day (and every day too). I am so lucky to have these people in my life, people who support me wholeheartedly, unfailingly show up for me, and love me unconditionally. To all of you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

And then, there was Thanksgiving. I’ve found it really difficult to find motivation to do school work so this break was much needed. I think it mainly gave me the space to really relax and do the things I love. I baked so much during this past week and I couldn’t have been happier. I ate my weight in dinner rolls and apple pie. My sister and I finally got to finish season 2 of Stranger Things (it seriously took all my willpower to not watch it without her) and we did nothing but catch up and talk a lot. I didn’t grow up with a Thanksgiving holiday tradition, but I think the essence of this holiday is quite endearing. This year I am extremely thankful for opportunities. For the opportunities I’ve had in the past: to get an education, to chose for myself, to struggle; for the opportunities I have: to attend this university, to associate with people I’ve come to respect, admire, and love, to become the person I want to be; and for future opportunities: to grow, to develop, and to evolve.

May we always be grateful for the things we have and lack. Today and every single day.

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Please do not have a nice day…

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Dots

…Have a day that matters.

Have a day that’s true.

Have a day that’s direct.

Have a day that’s honest.

It is not often that I think what my funeral will be like. In fact, I have never really thought much of it until last week. I watched The Last Word movie last week. Basically, the movie shows the life of the truly successful and ultimate perfectionist Harriet. As the end of her life comes closer she sets out on a mission to have her obituary written by the local journalist so she can approve it (as if she was going to leave this important task in the hands of fate). After doing some research, Harriet reaches the following conclusion:

There are four essential elements to a really great obituary. One, the deceased should be loved by their families. Two, the deceased should be admired by their coworkers. Three, the deceased must have touched someone’s life unexpectedly. And the fourth, that’s the wild card.

Of course this is an arbitrary statement but it did make me reflect. Our lives are meaningful not because of our accomplishments, but rather for the ways we touch other people’s lives. If anything, it is a good reminder that we should be more intentional with our actions and relationships.

November 1, 2017ย ๐ŸŽ‰๐ŸŽ‰

Etiam si omnes โ€” ego non

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Fall

Last week someone gave me one of the biggest compliments I have ever received. After class one of my professors said to me “you never give an opinion until you have fully understood what is happening.” As lame as this sound, I felt validated in my decision to be intentional with my opinions. It really is the satisfaction that comes from knowing that somebody else sees this in me.

It requires no effort to spit out the first thing that comes to one’s mind. On the other hand, not giving an opinion on a matter you do not completely understand requires discipline and a lot of self-control. More importantly, reserving your opinions to yourself until you have a good grasp on the subject needs to be a deliberate action.

Weirdly, the timing of this compliment was perfectly matched to me coming across an article,ย The Dying Art of Disagreement. Please take 15 minutes of your time and read it; I has so many valuable truths in it. One of the many great points that Bret Stephens, the author of this article, makes is this one:

To disagree well you must first understand well. You have to read deeply, listen carefully, watch closely. You need to grant your adversary moral respect; give him the intellectual benefit of doubt; have sympathy for his motives and participate empathically with his line of reasoning. And you need to allow for the possibility that you might yet be persuaded of what he has to say.”

If I had a penny for every person who foolishly shares a weak opinion on an issue he/she has no understanding, I would be sooo rich! Like, really rich. To be honest, it bothers me every time I hear someone who stubbornly thinks his/her opinion is the ultimate conclusion of an issue. Perhaps, this is the reason why I keep quiet until I am able to give a good opinion. An opinion that reflects a deep understanding of the issue. An opinion that shows you have consider the issue from different perspectives. An opinion that considers consequences that go far beyond a short period of time. An opinion that sees the people involved in it and thinks of ways they could be affected by. An opinion that exhibits compassion, kindness, selflessness, and fairness.

Yes, there are many things we must consider when forming an opinion. Ironically, the only way to have good opinions is to listen to other people’s opinions. And here’s the key to get the most out of other’s opinions: listen with intention and purpose; do not arrogantly dismiss the ideas that go against your own. No one likes a person who vaguely listens to what one has share. No one. So just don’t be that person.

I can imagine what you might be thinking, our opinions set us apart from others, they make us who we are. Yes, they do. However, while it is important to develop our individuality (“Even if all others, not I”), it’s equally important, if not more, to expand our tolerance.ย Treasure different opinions. Welcome contradictory views. Instigate healthy debates.

Let’s try to save the dying art of disagreement. One opinion at a time.