One Must Keep Going

If there’s one thing that I learned
While in those county lines
It’s that everything takes time
You have gotta lose your pride
You have gotta lose your mind
Just to find your peace of mind
You have got to trust the signs
Everything will turn out fine

Jhene’s song speaks to the spirit of perseverance, persistence, and faith. W.A.Y.S subtly addresses many of the doubts and frustrations one experiences throughout life, especially when one is in pursuit of personal growth and creating a meaningful and fulfilling life.

I love how the overall message of her lyrics is to keep on going no matter how difficult the situation may seem. Eventually, she sings, “everything will turn out fine.” For some reason, I think so too Jhene. 🙂

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A Lesson in Patience While Chasing Dreams

I remember hearing from people that we, people living in America, live in an instant-gratification culture. Dr. Brene Brown stated, in reference to this perspective, that we want things to be fast, fun, and easy. Reading and listening to these words, I thought I was above it all. I thought I understood patience.

I was wrong.

At the end of last year, I decided to take on certain projects, projects that were meaningful and significant to me. With this in mind, I thought if I just worked my ass off in two months I should see results. I should see opportunities rushing through my door. Instead I saw nada. Yes, I saw certain improvements in certain areas of my life but I wanted my visions of success to be realized in two to three months.

However, I came face-to-face with my insecurities, feelings of inadequacy, jealousy and bitterness. I thought, “I must not be good enough, talented enough, pretty enough, fast enough. Why should I even try?” Eventually, feeelings of giving up ensued.

Through this deep trench I was digging myself in, I still kept showing up. I still practiced on my craft(s) for hours at a time. I pushed through my whining and insecurities. I pushed so much that there were certain days I couldn’t walk because I was too tired, but I still practiced at least an hour. Finally, I gave myself permission to relax.

In that period of relaxation and reflection(certain times throughout the day), I realized that everything takes time. Everybody is fighting a personal fight and all I can do is give my all and do my best with every ounce of heart and life in me. That is all I have control over.

Things have been hard since I don’t get to spend as much time with my mother, but I realized this is my lack of planning and incorporating things that matter to me in my schedule.

Tomorrow is a new day, but I already feel quite different. I feel more compassion for myself and others. I feel more determined despite not knowing when I will see the results. I feel I have a greater understanding of what is important to me and what I want to contribute and share with the world. Chasing dreams is not for the faint of heart. I guess I understand now why embarking on such journeys can truly transform one’s being.

Here’s to learning and growing and accepting all the joy and pain that come with that package.

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The Girl Who Loved to Hide

“The Hidden Beauty!” Image taken by Vinoth Chandar: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/5929570738.

I asked her, “What are you hiding from?”

She replied, “I hide from pain. I hide from the past. I hide from hate.”

She continued:

I hide from people. I hide from rejection. I hide from my mother’s past and hide from my father’s past. I hide from the fear of not being worthy of love, worthy of my humanity, and worthy of being seen. I hide from judgment and disdain. I hide from fists and I hide from their anger. I hide from the yelling and I hide from the pounding. I hide from the betrayal of one’s blood. I hide from the dogma and  the hypocrisy.

But I also hide from laughter and connection. I hide from honor and from love. I hide from beauty and from wisdom.

You see I hide from death, and thus from life.

© 2015 Sandy Gordon. All rights reserved.

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Becoming a Stranger to Connection

When eating with friends or family members, at some point they all check their phones to see a text, a notification, or anything that easily distracts them from the moment of having lunch or dinner with the people present.

This taken-for-granted behavior does not stop at lunches, but even I succumb to reaching for my phone as I wait to enter a dance class or even as I watch a movie with my family. To be honest, I am more likely to pull out a book. Nevertheless, in the case of waiting in the hallway for a dance class there is an opportunity to meet someone new or even talk to the instructor, yet I am afraid I’ll have nothing to say or I will be terribly boring. Worse, I am afraid I am too deep and might ask questions that go beyond surface-level questions like “How do you like the weather lately?”

Touching on this topic in Success through Stillness, the author Russell Simmons discusses the benefits and the importance of being mindfully aware of one’s actions. Though he brought up multiple insightful arguments and examples, I related mostly when he talked about the disconnection some of us experience when we choose to reach for our phones or any device as a way to avoid the realities of life. He writes:

You know they’re not really responding to an urgent e-mail. Instead, like most of us can, they’re feeling a little shy or awkward in a social environment. Yet instead of getting past that awkwardness and walking over, introducing themselves to a stranger and starting up a conversation, or even just dancing by themselves, they’re taking refuge in the distraction their cell phones provide. But getting past that awkwardness and shyness and striking up a conversation with a stranger is often how you take your life to the next level. Striking up a conversation with someone you barely know might be how you meet the man who will become your husband or the person who wants to invest in your business. Or simply make a new friend. You don’t make those types of connections when you’re staring at your phone in the middle of a party. But you can make them when you feel at ease with yourself enough to take a chance and introduce yourself to a stranger. (Simmons 114-115)

Simmons suggests an approach such as meditation, to develop one’s confidence, or to become “at ease with yourself.” Incidentally, some scholars, scientists, and practitioners seem to prefer the term mindful awareness practice instead of meditation because of religious connotations attached to the word. However, I think the ‘practice’ helps to address one’s social anxiety by changing one’s relationship to self-deprecating and distorted thoughts about oneself and the situation.

At the end of the day, not every situation is a result of social anxiety. The behavior can simply be a habit of ‘plugging-in’ instead of being present. However, avoiding life because one feels too self-conscious robs one from the opportunity to be fully engaged in life with all its beauty and mystery.

Again, I admit I am quite shy and awkward, but I do love to genuinely connect with people. I love learning about their interests, their thoughts, their fears, their family, their culture, their goals, and most importantly what matters to them. I realized that connecting with another human being is much more important to me than the fear of the possibility of disconnection or rejection.

Regardless of the outcome, each relationship is an opportunity to learn about others and to learn more about oneself.  I would not want to avoid life using a cellphone because I was too afraid of being myself and too afraid to connect with another person. As I am constantly reminded, life is too short to be lived in fear.

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The Eulogy of a Girl Who Was Too Afraid

Ballerina II

“Ballerina II.” Image taken by Gerald Pereira: https://www.flickr.com/photos/geraldpereira/5539667446

She was just a girl who was too afraid to live life. So she stayed in her cocoon never to realize her full potential as a beautiful butterfly. She could’ve been a designer, photographer, writer,  filmmaker, and dancer with her her own multimedia company and fashion line.

She could’ve traveled the world as a dancer. She could’ve just been herself and by being herself she could’ve healed and liberated others.

But now she is gone.

She was a pretty good employee. She had health insurance, a 401(k) plan,  food, shelter, and a good secure job.

She was a hard-working employee, but she never got to create her art through clothing, through beautiful curtains that furnished the home of a single-mother, through designs that laced the walls and floors as children’s steps ran through the halls, or even through greeting cards that were sent to a friend on her graduation day.

She was a good employee, but she never created her film that captured the complexities, suffering, and beauty of human being asking the hard questions and who dared to live as her ancestors, predecessors, and spiritual mothers and fathers lived: with courage, curiosity, honor, compassion, and justice, while always in search of truth, wisdom, beauty and excellence.

She was a good employee, but she never got to dance on a real stage with music that moved humanity to a state of ecstasy and revealed her in her spirit and in her glory.

This girl had many dreams in her, but she was too afraid. She was more afraid of being broke  than creating beauty and meaning through all forms of art: dance, writing, photography, and music.

She was more afraid of being another disappointment than expressing her creative spirit.

She did not die of old age. She did not die of a disease.

She simply died of being to afraid too live.

© 2015 Sandy Gordon. All rights reserved.

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Challenging Ideas Regarding Productivity

Productivity.

Wow, there’s a lot to unpack from one word. My life has been centered around society’s view of productivity. I always feel I have to be doing something so I won’t be seen as lazy or worthless. I do get a sense of value based on the things I accomplish. As an undergraduate student, I always feel I have to be involved in something and achieve top grades. To the average person this seems like the perfect thing to do to prepare one to be successful. However, as I reflected on the words of a teacher who lead a meditation retreat I attended, I saw that my behavior regarding productivity is lazy.

I can hear parents around the world yelling “Lazy?! Are you out of your mind?!”

Well, before we jump the gun here, follow me as we explore how productivity can be a form of laziness. How many times do we mindlessly do the same tasks without being present at all? How many times do we just cross off our to-do lists without even examining the purposes of the activities we engage in and where they are leading us?

Understandably, things like laundry, washing dishes, and similar tasks can be done without questioning their purpose. However, to give an idea of what I mean I will provide an example, an example that also leads to why I was in dire need of attending a meditation retreat.

Internships. President’s Honor List. Praise. I did whatever I could to be validated as a human being. My actions were based on society’s expectations of what kind of person I should be. This way of living alienated me from myself and I felt so disconnected. I did task after task. I kept piling activities on my plate to please others and for people to see how hard I worked.  Everything became routine. While I greatly enjoyed and have gain invaluable insights from my studies and internships, my sense of self was missing from this picture.

Doing the same tasks over again without any thought, how could this not cause idleness or a feeling of not exercising one’s creativity and mind? To just be involved with things, not questioning why, and just going through the motion, how could I not feel disconnected?

A beautiful song by India Arie illustrates my point. In this song she states, “Slow down baby you’re goin’ to fast, you’ve got your hands in the air and your feet on the gas. You’re ’bout to wreck your future running from the past. You need to slow down baby…”

Like this song, the essence of this post is to encourage pausing and being mindful of what we are doing in our daily lives. We are busy, busy, busy, busy everyday. I think it would be helpful to pause here and there, take a step back, and ask those important questions. Why am I doing what I’m doing? Do I like or love what I’m doing? Do I need a moment to restore my energy? What can I do to realize goals that are aligned with my principles and values? Am I the kind of person I want to be? What kind of student, daughter, mother, father, employee, son, person am I? Do I like what I see? How can I work on myself?

I am sure that when we start to reflect, pause or take action, we will have lives where there is happiness, efficiency, flourishing, and more connection.

This post is just a thought. I may change my outlook overtime, but being present and mindful makes me feel like I am truly human and not just a mindless robot. What do you think?

Thank you for reading and take care. (:

© 2015 Sandy Gordon. All rights reserved.

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The Conscience of a Philomath

Hip hop, Funk, Soul, world literature, neuroscience, psychology, mythology, design, art, dance, philosophy, world religions, culture, anime, feminism, film, food…

What do these seemingly disparate areas have in common? They enable insights into human culture, how fictive and non-fictive individuals and societies chose to live, and the beauty, excellence, truth, and wisdom they have to offer.

If you couldn’t tell, I have a huge passion for exploring the connections between different forms of knowledge. However, more than the excitement of ideas and the process of learning, I wish to share the journey of the insights I’m getting that can possibly help another human being with their intellectual, creative, spiritual, and emotional growth.

Life can be hard, crazy-debilitating hard, but there is much knowledge out there to help us see challenges as opportunities, not only as opportunities to overcome struggle, but also opportunities to grow and to truly live life.

Here is to that journey, hopefully a journey that enables us to grow, to connect, and to understand ourselves and hopefully a journey that allows us to learn, to connect, and to care for the well-being of others.

© 2015 Sandy Gordon. All rights reserved.

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