She’s still GOAL-ful!

Feature image: I’m just trying to be zen like this Buddha. Completely and utterly unbothered.

It has been a year since I last wrote on this blog. Time sure does fly.

It would be obscene to try to write about everything that has happened over the course of 365 days, however, for the important highlight reel…

1. I graduated college, with my goal GPA

2. I now work teaching English abroad in Malaysia fulfilling my goal of traveling abroad again before the year 2014 ended

And after beginning that list, I believe that is all the important factors that are worth mentioning!

Though I have not been documenting the process I have gone through in the last year to reach these goals, I still remain engrossed in my driven attitude to reach all the goals I set for myself, no matter how small (I’m taking guitar lessons here in Malaysia!) or how seemingly big. 

I currently have begun a new blog blackgirlwander.wordpress.com where I document my travels and experiences while being a temporary ex-pat, black, and a girl in Southeast Asia. Sidenote: An important goal I’m really working on is my ability to keep up with these blogs on a schedule for more than a few weeks!

Either way, now that I am a post-grad and not a senior, I have made an unspoken (until now) promise to myself to only do what makes me happy, and to only go after the things that I am interested in.

I know some of us are brought up and told to pick a profession, pick a passion and prepare yourself to do one thing in life until you are able to retire, however, at the tender age of almost 23 I cannot bring myself to that mentality. Traveling is something that I have dreamt of doing my whole life, and almost two years ago I wrote some about my first time abroad in England. Now that I have been living in SE Asia for almost 6 months, traveling around when I am not working, I have only become more encouraged in my belief that I don’t need to know exactly what I want to do right now. What I need to do is to continue to explore my interests. Continue to dip my toe in the waters of different fields to see how it feels and to see how I feel. Continue to not feel overwhelmed and burdened at the fact that I don’t have it all figured out. Continue to do my best at honing the things I am passionate about and being proactive when I see opportunities coming my way.

I believe that if I keep on the path I am now that what’s for me will present itself and be mine. This mindset is not one that says you don’t have to work hard. It doesn’t believe that it won’t be frustrating at times, discouraging, quick, or even close to easy. It simply says that nothing is worth settling, and if you want it, go after it and show ‘them’ how much you want it. 

Happiness is intrinsic and cannot be placed on ephemeral things outside oneself. I can’t place my happiness in my ability to get a “secure” job, but I can place my happiness on my ability to be true to myself and to make sure I never settle for anything less than what I set out to do. 

Hopefully this can be encouragement to another 20-something with nothing figured out and the world at their feet.

Keep reaching those goals!

Chelsea

How I Feel

Jittery.

Restless.

Calm.

Free.

Comforted.

I am both the calm and the storm.

Both anchored and free.

Passion.

Confusion.

Love.

Complete.

Genuine.

I want both space and to be closer to you.

To reject your touch and crave it in its absence.

Inexplicable.

Freedom wrapped in tender, loving chains that bind

You to me. Me to you.

Never-ending yet it ends.

Cyclical yet it begins.

Continuity on the path from my heart

To yours.

In your eyes,

Your caress,

Your words,

There is love.

There is me.

In your love,

In my love,

In our love,

There is you.

Breaking down my walls,

And building those walls

In the same breath.

In love.

An Artist’s Space

  As artists we usually feed off of our surroundings. We are inspired by the people and places we come across and see on a daily basis. When we are around other artists, their energy inspires us to create and collaborate, and when we feel as though our surroundings are stifling our progress or hindering our creativity we change our surroundings. An artist’s space, where he or she lives or spends the majority of their time, should be an ever changing manifestation of their current inspirations. If I am inspired by love, I want to enter a room where I see and feel love. If I am inspired by Indian culture, I want to bring parts of that culture in my space so that I can feed my inspiration and feel that energy to incorporate it into my work.

            It’s important to make your space reflect your artwork, aspirations, and current muses. When I walk into my room and its clean and I see the artwork on my walls, the decorative lights, and my growing bookshelf it makes me feel like I’m ready to create. When my room is a mess (which it honestly is more often than not) I feel like I cannot get anything done because the first thing on my mind is “I need to clean my room,” and instead of feeling peaceful and rejuvenated and creative I feel stressed and overwhelmed. The way you keep your space is indicative to how you will feel. Therefore, the place where you create, the place where you spend the majority of your time should be an area that breeds the energy that you need in order to be motivated and inventive.

I believe that an artist’s space is no different than the easel for a painter or the paper and pen for the writer (or keyboard/computer since it’s 2014). It should be thoughtful and exude the energy that you need as an artist to be the best you can be each day. Cater to your space. Make your space yours, and allow yourself to feed off of the positive energy it can create.  

My love for reading: in a nutshell

So, I’m applying for this reading development summer program, and it asked me to describe myself as a reader and how I became one, and I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be for me to stop writing once I started. My love for reading and expressing it through writing runs so deep I didn’t even  notice it, until I started writing. All of the excitement just rushed to my stomach, my fingers felt enchanted, and I just imagined myself with this huge grin on my face (because it was) explaining to someone what I love about reading or my favorite book/author. Reading is my first love and it hasn’t forsaken me yet. This is me trying to place all that excitement in a “concise” answer:

Reading has always been my escape. It was and continues to be my imagination manifested. When I open a book and begin reading I immerse myself into each character and into the world that is created by the author to the point where it feels like I am a part of that world. That is my favorite part about reading: the ability that a novel or short story has to take you away from your reality and bring you elsewhere. In my opinion, a book is not all that different than a movie, which is why many books are translated into films. As soon as the book enters my hands and I begin reading that is when the movie starts, and from there the movie plays out in my head. At times, much like when I was younger, if I am reading a particularly exciting or interesting novel, I have to force myself to not read ahead just to see what happens next, much like a person restrains himself from telling another person how the movie ends or from asking another person what happens next in the film. The major difference, however, between reading a book and seeing a movie is the fact that when I read a book the “movie” that is playing out in my head is my personal interpretation of the literature and no one else’s. When I go out and see a movie I am seeing the director’s interpretation of a script and the actor’s interpretation of the character they are portraying, but when the story goes from my eyes directly to my head I am able to project myself into the story. Each person has their own unique experiences and personality and all of that effects how a person is going to read a book. It determines who is their favorite character, what scene in the novel or story effects them the most, and why they dislike or love the ending, which is what makes reading so great and what has inspired me to continue reading into adulthood. Reading gives me the opportunity to put my own thoughts and experiences and life into a story that someone else decided to tell, and because it is human nature to change as one grows older, I can read a book at one point in my life one way and a few years later have a completely different interpretation of the same novel. Reading is always dynamic even though it may be the same story. I love the classic novels because of this very reason. Most people read the same novels in high school throughout generations, but what I find most interesting is the way these novels are able to be relevant regardless of the time period. A good book is immortal and can be read time after time and still remain just as good if not better over time. When I began public school in third grade there was a program called AR (Accelerated Reading), and students would get incentives for reading based off of how many AR points they received. Of course larger novels received more points, so many students would race towards the Harry Potter series (including myself), but that only sparked my interest in reading. All of the enjoyment that I receive from opening my imagination and world to the worlds inside each novel I’ve read is what keeps me reading and subsequently keeps me learning and expanding my mind.

A particularly impactful book that I read a couple years ago really challenged the idea of seeing life from different perspectives. The novel, Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Piccoult, was a novel that told the story of a school shooting from multiple characters’ perspectives: the shooter, the mother of the shooter, a friend of the shooter, and her mother. The title comes from the amount of time the school shooting occurred. School shootings are a touchy, tragic subject, however, when you are not involved in the shooting and you just hear about it on the news, all the information you get is numbers: how many people were killed, how many injured, and how many shooters. What you don’t think about or realize is the perspective of the parents of the student shooter: how they must feel, how blindsided and just as horrified and shocked as everyone else, or the perspective of the shooter and what was actually going through their mind. The novel did not belittle the severity of the subject or attempt to evoke empathy for someone who is undoubtedly a murderer; however, it brilliantly opened my mind to all of the possibilities of what could be happening on a mental level from those involved amidst the news coverage and hearsay. No other novel I had read up until that point really drove home the saying that you really do not know what people are going through and how they are coping with their lives unless you are in their shoes, and that is exactly what Piccoult does: places the reader into each character’s mind and allows the reader to see the world from their perspective. In making the novel first person-omniscient for multiple characters, it truly effected and changed how I thought about real life situations that are similar to the novel. It showed me just how little I actually know about what goes on around me and others. Although I may think I know the whole story about something, in actuality I probably know very little, and therefore I should not be so quick to make judgments or conclusions. I would highly recommend Nineteen Minutes to anyone who is willing to feel uncomfortable and have their knowledge challenged and humbled.

I began reading at a young age because it was something I was told I should be doing and because I had outside incentive to do so. Who wouldn’t want a pizza party in your classroom in elementary school? However, despite my reasons for beginning to read, what kept me reading was the feeling I get after finishing a great book: a feeling of never wanting that book to end, but since it did, I need to find another one to read so I can feel like that all over again. Reading for me is exciting and exhilarating and is a true source of freedom. Reading takes my mind where my body cannot go, and it makes what’s impossible in this world possible without bounds.

Sandy Bottom Nature Park and New Lens

So for Christmas I received a Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens and I was (and still am) so very excited for the amazing bokeh and portrait photography that I will be able to take with this amazing prime lens. As a beginner, I have to play around and do my research a lot more to fully utilize the potential of this lens, but discovery is always the best part! I didn’t particularly like any of these photographs too much, but I had literally just opened the lens and they told me the park was closing in 5 minutes…so this is what I did in 5 minutes haha. Not the greatest, but I can already tell how amazing this lens is and once again I am so excited to keep playing around with it!

 P.S. Did you catch how amazing I think this lens is? Enjoy!

P.P.S. That water was rock solid, and I was so tempted to run across it…but I’m not that crazy.

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Life Changing Experiences as Productive Motivators

A life changing experience doesn’t necessarily have to be a mind-blowing, once in a lifetime experience that inevitably becomes the inspiration for a best-selling novel or made-for-TV movie (but wouldn’t it be nice if it did?). As a matter of fact, a life changing experience could be as small as having a two and a half minute conversation with a stranger on the street.

At the tender age of almost 22, I have experienced a few life changing experiences from various ends of the spectrum of life—from romantic relationships, to school, and traveling—and I have found that each of these life changing experiences served, and still serve, as motivators for many of the goals I have today. It took being in a poisonous relationship to make me focus on the beneficial and positive relationships I have in my life, and from there to create the goal to continue to nurture those healthy relationships, while letting the unhealthy ones disintegrate. When I began being conscious of the people I allow to be in my life, I noticed a change in how positive my actions and thoughts were, and as a result how more positive my life became.

Traveling abroad last summer for the first time was not only a dream come true, but it brought to my attention just how massive the world is and how different and yet similar people are. I remember the first thing I said to my mom after a day of being in Cambridge was “You never know how American you are until you leave,” and I was amazed in major part by the small, seemingly insignificant differences that actually made all the difference in the world. Much like hormones in the body where a small change can cause a huge reaction, that’s how big of a difference those nuances were to me. Fortunately, I loved the differences, and being abroad awakened my curiosity even more to explore all parts of the world; however, I don’t want to only visit these places, but participate in the culture, interact with the people, learn and actually feel small in the grand scheme of things. I want to exercise my mind and keep opening it and broadening it so that I can truly embrace all of humanity and not just what I know or what I am accustomed to. From my brief, month long abroad trip, my desire to teach English abroad was strengthened, and it definitely became one of my top options for what I will do in the first couple years of my post-grad life.

As for college, I think for everyone different aspects of undergrad serve to be life-changing experiences, but for me the one that comes to mind is the academics. School was never a challenge for me until I started attending college, which is unsurprising, but in my first year it was really discouraging. I did not know how to study because I never had to, and being surrounded by students who were used to the type of work we were doing where I was not made me feel unintelligent and subpar. My freshmen year was not the greatest, but every year thereafter I have proved to myself that I was meant to be at the university as much as any other student. Struggling academically taught me failure was okay because I could work my ass off and make a comeback and do better than the goals I set for myself. Going from academic warning one semester to dean’s list in subsequent semesters showed me a side of myself that I honestly did not know I had, and it has driven me to never doubt myself or my abilities. My undergrad experience, as far as my academics, has prepped me for many of the goals I have set for myself and is the reason I am so goal-oriented today. I truly know that I am capable of doing what I put my mind to, and I will carry that with me in everything I attempt to accomplish from hereafter.

A life-changing experience is just that: it is an experience that either directly changes your life or your perspective on life, and whether the experience was a negative or positive one, why shouldn’t the outcome always be positive? These experiences, no matter how big or small, can be significant motivators in creating the life you ideally want, so let them be that.

What life-changing experiences have motivated you to go after your goals? Comment below!

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