8 Ways to Give This Holiday Season (2017-2018)

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Carmina and I not wearing ugly Christmas sweaters at an Ugly-Christmas-Sweater-themed Christmas Party

The Holiday season is here and I know that some of us… okay all of us… are STRESSED! I know many of my friends have constant emotional/mental breakdowns during this time of year, myself included. Us pre-health students know that PRE-HEALTH ain’t no joke… and even if you aren’t pre-health, college is f***ing hard. And those who have stressful Christmas shopping, dark-weather depression, and all of that shnazz.

It isn’t too much of a secret that I suffer from anxiety and I know that it can be especially difficult to deal with these emotional/mental battles ESPECIALLY during the winter season.. However, I am still a life-optimist when these things happen, and I know some handy tricks that will make you feel better about yourself and about stress season.

We all know that the holiday season is all about GIVING, and since I am such an enormous fan of lists (yes, here is another one!), I am going to provide a list of things that YOU can do to spread positivity and happiness for others this season. I also know for a fact that when I am kind towards other people, I often feel intrinsically happier myself. This is not just about giving to other people, this is also about giving to yourself the happiness that you deserve…

  1. Hold the door for someone. Today, a friend of mine held the door for me every single time even if it would have been easier for him to go through first. It’s a small gesture but it really does go a long way and I am sooooo grateful every single time.
  2. Call/Text a friend and remind them that you care about them. Another friend was genuinely worried when I admitted to him how stressed I was studying for finals. Those things do not go unnoticed to real friends. True friends will be grateful to have someone so caring in their life.
  3. Write a letter to someone you are so truly grateful to have in your life. It takes such little time to do, but it’ll truly make that special friend feel so important
  4. Pay someone a visit who may be a distance away. Carmina lives 200 miles and 3.5-4 hours away at Penn State. It was probably the farthest that I had ever driven but I would not have wanted to spend my weekend any other way than to spend her birthday with her. And I know I made her extremely happy because she thanked me all night for coming when she was drunk (sorry for exposing u carm, but ily)!
  5. Volunteer at/donate to a homeless shelter. THIS is such a rewarding thing to do especially during the holiday season. You don’t really understand homeless life when living in the suburbs of Maryland. However, cities like DC have large homeless communities that heavily rely on donations and volunteers to provide them with warm clothing, food, and places to stay. Here’s a link to one place I’ve been to that really opened my eyes: http://some.org/volunteer/
  6. Spend time with your grandparents. This may seem like a “duh” thing to do, but I know many of us often find ourselves too busy with our face in our books, our dinner time out with our friends, and our leftover spare time spent with our significant other. We must not forget that as we are busy growing up, our grandparents are also growing older. One of my grandmothers passed away over the summer and I find myself wishing I could still spend time with her even if it meant just sitting in front of a TV and watching her favorite Cambodian-dubbed Chinese movies. Quality time cannot be replaced. It is invaluable. Don’t forget to spend it with family members who will appreciate it the most when you spend time. I am very guilty of this.
  7. Pay attention to your gifts, make someone feel like you know them. Every year, my brother has bought me things I loved. High-end make up from Sephora. Sweaters from Under Armour. He even buys me gifts from when he travels abroad. And what do i give him every year? CRAPPY gifts and I am so apologetic for not putting enough thought into one of the most important people in my life. I know he loves me because of the thought he puts into small things like this, but how have I shown him I love him? Not sure… so I can’t wait to get him something he’ll love this year. He’ll be like “FINALLY!!!” BUT YEAH… GET YOUR LOVED ONES SOMETHING THAT SHOWS YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR INTERESTS
  8. Ask someone about something that they talked to you about before. So this is kind of a dip into my deep interest in human socialization and interaction with one another. We often find ourselves SO wrapped up in our own lives that when we CONVERSE with others, we’re so focused on what we’re about to say next. We don’t really listen. We often forget people’s names 30 seconds after they’ve introduced themselves to us, because we’re waiting for them to finish so that we can say our own name (guilty!). Something that makes a huge impression on me is when I tell someone something about my day or my life, they make the effort to revisit that topic in a future conversation. It means that they really listen and actually cared to know more. I guarantee you when you ask someone “How did your exam go?” or “Are you feeling better today?” they will feel so good even if they don’t realize it.

I am a huge believer in karma and the Law of Attraction. I believe that the energy you put out in the world is what you will attract. I believe that being a good person will carry you a long way mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Be good to others for you will eventually find it comes back around. I hope these tips will help you make someone else’s holiday season amazing, and therefore making your own holiday season amazing.

Xoxo,

Michelle

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Be a Goal Digger

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A lovely sunset at The Grand Prix in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

My senior year is beginning and honestly I’m actually excited. Over the summer, I kind of fell into some bad habits.. like taking four-hour naps in the middle of the day, losing interest in exercising, losing touch with some friends, eating lots of junk, not creating art. I stopped. I stumbled into a rotten patch in my life. And sure, you can say that I was productive because I took two summer classes and worked a part time job… but I felt as though I was on autopilot, just trying to get through each and every single day without feeling so lethargic. I hate feeling out of energy. I hate not wanting to go out and have fun. The only motivation I had for doing anything at all this summer was the fear of regret that I didn’t do it. Anyways, my first day of school started yesterday and I honestly am truly thankful that there are semesters/bench marks where you can start anew…. And for this fall, I will begin fresh. I will plan things. I will kickstart my fabulous habits that I had before. I will develop a better mindset. I will listen to motivational speeches everyday. And most importantly, I will love it. I will love each and every day that I am alive. And these posts will keep coming.

To start off my semester, here are some goals I would like to prophesy.

  1. Wake up early even on days that I don’t have to
  2. Continue my exercise regime
  3. Continue to learn about exercise and fall in love with learning again
  4. Have more spontaneity for spontaneity will help you be accustomed to meeting the unknown and the uncertain, and be okay with it
  5. Read
  6. Finish small errands right when you get them
  7. Use a daily planner (I already have 3)
  8. Keep up with to-do lists and GET THEM DONE
  9. Become a complete and daring optimist

Proof, Lists, and Gratitude!

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Dining in at Proof at Gallery Place with Tirone!

January 18th, 2017

Take 6. I’ve begun to write this entry several times in multiple directions, however I can’t really pin down what I really want to talk about. Of course, a lot has happened over these past few months – but mostly personal things.

So I’ll make a list of some of the things I love in the world.

  1. Photographing people in their truly candid and quirky moments. I get this inspiration from that scene in Lilo & Stitch when she goes to the beach and we see all of her polaroid pictures of the messy, unposed everyday, normal people.
  2. Pay-it-forward. I love people who do nice deeds like pay for the person behind them or go out of their way to do something nice for no absolute reason. The other day, this guy parked his car in the middle of ongoing traffic in order to pick something up on the street for a homeless guy in a wheelchair. I’m sure he knew cars behind him were probably confused and annoyed, but it was very heartwarming to see.
  3. Pizza Stop. It’s this pizza parlor near my house on Bel Pre Road. It’s a family-owned parlor, and has bomb ass pizzas, subs, sandwiches, and a lot more items. I want to say it’s kind of a hole in the wall type of restaurant, but I feel like that’s just a personal opinion since my brother still goes out of his way to by Papa John’s. Either way, it’s a blessing in disguise hidden in the corner of a small shopping center!
  4. Ted Talks. Any time I feel down, depressed, or unmotivated, I find myself watching plenty of Ted Talks about self-confidence and vulnerability, just inspirational and motivational speeches that help me remember how nobody’s perfect and there’s always a way to become better… or at least think better about the world around you.
  5. Reading. As much as I hate having reading assignments for school and having to read studies and articles, I actually find myself somewhat intrigued in everything that I read and I definitely learn something new everyday. I’ve learned to think more critically and become more aware about the world around me. Although it is a dread to be somewhat “forced” to read some of these things, it’s more of a blessing in disguise in the case that I am ultimately gaining knowledge. Don’t get me wrong though, I do read a lot on my own time as well and I love it. And for those who don’t read, knowledge truly is power. It also improves my writing by a whole lot!
  6. Having a home with a functional shower and toilet. Okay, I know this one sounds weird, but I take multiple showers and baths daily, especially after I do my number 2. That’s a lot of water. I have an OCD of being clean! I know that I am abusive of having a functional bath or shower, but I am very aware that it is a privilege. It’s a simple thing to be thankful for, but throughout my travels to Cambodia, and other third world countries in Southeast Asia a few years ago, my eyes were open to the types of bathrooms they had… Public restrooms on the side of the country road were ill-maintained and had dirt and mud everywhere. There were no toilet paper in any “stalls”, but they provided buckets in tubs of water next to the toilet with which you were supposed to rinse your genitals with. I had no idea where they filled the water from and it did not look remotely sanitary, so we brought our own toilet paper to the restrooms. The actual toilets were holes in the ground that you would have had to squat over and do your business in… I know there are people there who use these types of restrooms everyday, so having a nice bathroom here in Maryland is definitely something I truly find gratitude in.
  7. Friends. Good friends. Friends who understand that you have a busy schedule and sometimes text back hours later. Friends who make an effort to make plans and see you during holidays and weekends. Friends who always take you back after you get lost in another crowd. Friends whom you can tell anything, and you never smell a hint of judgment coming off of them. Those are the friends I will keep close in my heart forever.

I’m sure I have a lot more but I’m also pretty sure I’ve spent a good 2 hours on this post, so I think I’ll end it here. I create a lot of these lists about things that I am grateful for, and it has honestly helped me see the brighter side of everything and helped me note a lot of silver linings. So for anyone reading this, if you’re ever having a bad day, just take some time to sit down for a good 10 minutes and write down at least 5 things you are grateful for… and really internalize that gratitude. I know it may sound stupid at first, but the more consistent you are with it, the more it’ll positively affect your psychology… And I can vouch for that.

A Downward Spiral

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An irrelevant photo of a bank in Georgetown, DC

As my network expands, I realize that a lot of negative and positive interactions will come with it. Friends will come and go. Your heart will be broken, and people you thought were true to you, instead may cut you off without telling you. And there’s really nothing that you can control. But if you stay true to yourself, if you stay true to your good intentions, better things will come your way and you’ll naturally attract people who were meant to be there for you… and at the end of the day, you’ll know for sure who your real friends are.

So since I love lists so much, here are a few things to remember for when you feel like the world is pummeling you down into a pit, like I’ve been feeling this whole entire week.

  1. True friends will always be there for you no matter what at the end of the day
  2. True friends don’t make assumptions and preconceived ideas of you based on what they heard. Instead, they would make their own based on their interactions with you
  3. People will say things about you that are untrue. It’s life.
  4. If you don’t feel like you have anyone, your family will always love you. Family will be there for you no matter what.
  5. If you’ve done wrong, realize that you’ve done wrong. No more beating yourself up for it. Pick yourself up and learn from that mistake. You, in yourself, will know that you are better.
  6. Don’t chase after people!!
  7. “Don’t waste your time with explanations. People only hear what they want to hear.” – Paul Coelho
  8. Be true to yourself and don’t force a friendship or relationship. Friendship is a two way street.
  9. Don’t pay attention to the negatives of what people say. It may hurt. But don’t counter that with more negativity. Instead, encapsulate yourself with positive people who make your life happier.
  10. Don’t take things so personally. Life is short. And people will be people.
  11. People have opinions. Opinions are natural.
  12. Not 100% of people will like you. It’s not your fault. It would be unreal if they did.
  13. Keep your head up. It’s not the end of the world. Out of 20 people who hate you, there are 80 more who love you.

Living The Journey

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Thank you to my dear friend, Shawn, for taking me out to the city and being my muse for the night. 10.16.16

Moving on.

Moving on hasn’t always been easy for me, but it is a skill essential to have if you’re going to mature. I am currently maturing into the woman I desire to become – strong, independent, detached, and always moving on… yet I don’t think that there will be an end to maturity. There is no end result of being a person. There is no “finally I’m here”.

Life is ever-changing and even when you’re dead, it still doesn’t end there. There was a quote in this incredible book (called Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff… And It’s All Small Stuff… 10/10 recommend) that enlightened me to the fact that even when we’re dead, we will all still have unfinished business. And you know who’s going to finish that business? Other people! It says that there is no destination… there is only a journey. So here’s to the folks who don’t know where you’re going or where you’ll end up, to the folks who are so incredibly terrified of what path they want or need to take, and are confused in figuring out just how they’re going to get there (like I have been for these past few years): You are on a road to somewhere significant, so stop stressing out so much because no matter where life takes you, life will take you… and there is no right or wrong. There is only an acceptance or a rejection. But regardless, this path that you are on is the path you are meant to be on. And the only advice that I will give to absolutely anybody is to not think so much about the circumstances you are in, but to think about how you react to the circumstances you are put in. Life is amazing; the difference between a good and a bad one is your perspective of it.

So take it from me… feel the fear and negativity, and embrace it for it is a natural part of life… Then move on and keep enjoying the ride. You deserve to be happy.

A Brain Dump: Just A Few Things

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An entry in my journal just about a year ago

Chapter 1. Madness

There’s nothing like a break up. Fortunately, that’s one of the biggest pains I have felt my entire life. (Because they’re not the worst things in the world that could ever happen to me). But goddamn, it hurts like a bitch. I won’t sugarcoat this post. I was angry. I have been angry since day one of the break up, but slowly that anger began to fade into sadness – the realization that I will never (or at least not any time soon) be able to talk to the person that I once loved (and still love so dearly) anymore. The realization that the person you knew every single aspect of, the person whose only schedule you cared about keeping up with, the only person you’d ever get excited about seeing, your partner in crime, your partner in errands, your partner in everything – they’re gone… and you just kind of have to bite your tongue and suck it up… Because what else could you have done? The relationship had come to a dead end. I could not change him, nor did I even want to. I could not change the way he acted, the words that he spoke, the way he handled fights and arguments… I knew that if the way we conducted our relationship did not make me happy (and if we had exhausted all other methods, in which we did), the best option was to end things. So I did.

Chapter 2. Invite the Sadness in, and Learn to Let It Go

I don’t know what’s worse. Being sad on a beautiful, sunny day or being sad on a cloudy, gloomy day. I feel like I’m wasting away in bed right now when I could be going outside to enjoy the weather. However, if it were cloudy… yes, I would have had a better excuse to stay in, but what’s there to look forward to when even the weather doesn’t seem to be feeling right.

I mean, I know for a fact that I will get better. I know that one day, I will wake up and fewer things I see everyday will remind me of him. I know for a fact that this will be easier over time. It hurts a lot right now, but I am letting the sadness encapsulate me in its nature and when the time comes, I will let it go and move on. I just wish I knew how long that would take or when that day will finally come…

I still have all of my photos of you and photos of us on my phone and all over my room and the photo frame that you made me, yet I can’t bring myself to get rid of them just yet. Because as much as I know it’s over, a part of me knows that if remove those things, it’ll be like you were never there… And how can I just delete a part of my life that I loved and cherish? The chapter may be closed, but the memories don’t have to be forgotten. The “ex-box” will be made when later throughout the healing process.

Chapter 3. “Keep On Keeping On” – A shirt that Childish Gambino wore in a 4 second commercial that stuck with me for weeks

I was a sad mess right before I pulled my laptop and started on this blog post. For a while now, I refused to write when I was sad or upset. It made me even more depressed to read it back. However, writing is an outlet for me and it is the friend that will never refuse to listen to me the days when I want to talk about myself and my dreams and my sadness and my heartbreaks, loves, hates, insecurities, secrets. It does not get tired of me, because it literally cannot! Writing doesn’t just wipe away my tears, it soothes the sadness inside of me. And with the emotionally draining challenges I am put up against, I will always be able to count on the art of writing in order to keep me sane. And with this blog post, I can announce what I COULD NOT announce about 2 hours ago… it’s that I am alright.

*Thank you to everybody who reads my posts. I am still shy about posting these extemely personal ones, but I told myself I would try harder to not be so afraid of such bad judgments as they should not matter if I am truly comfortable with myself. And thank you to the friend that helped me take this leap at continuing my blogging.

Autumn: The Season of New Beginnings

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“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” – The Great Gasby

There are things in this world, that for whatever reason, do not work out. Family issues, anticipated exam grades, relationships, friendships, driving incidents… We’ve been through the everlasting fights and the painful heartbreaks, and sometimes we just have to realize that there is nothing that you can do except to accept and let go. I’ve learned a lot about accepting and letting go this past year. Whether it be the pain of an ended friendship with a person whom you once called your “best friend,” or the pain of loving a person who did not have the capacity to love you the same way. You can’t change people and you can’t change their opinions or their actions. You can only change how you react to the circumstances you are put in. I think that is one of the most important things I have learned in my life to this day.

This fall, I am actively utilizing this time to work on what I haven’t been this whole time: Myself. For the past 20 years of my life, Summer had always been my favorite season of all time and I never really liked autumn… but these past few autumns have been some of the most significant autumns in my life. Last autumn was the beginning of a new relationship, a new school, a new environment – this autumn is not the ending, this autumn is the beginning of a new era in my life in which I will stand up for myself more often, go out and do things that make me happy, and really indulge in every single moment that I am living in. I will surround myself with people who build me up, love me for my quirks, and accept me for the complicated ever-changing, spontaneous person that I am. It’s been difficult lately, but I know that life gets better and I have love all around me. I am so hopeful of that. I declare this to be another life-changing season, and I cannot wait to take on the challenges that are to come ahead of me.

Finding Innocence

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Summer 2009 – 13 years old

As requested by a very important person in my life.

When I was a little girl, I did not understand why people would stop eating food or carbs in order to lose some weight, because honestly, what does that do for a person except make them look a different type of way? And to little Michelle, looking the way that you were naturally meant to look meant individuality and uniqueness. Everyone was born different and everyone was meant to be different, whether it be in shape or size. What really mattered to me as a child (a great thank you to disney influences), was a person’s character. What did it matter how much you weighed if you were a beautiful person inside? As a child, I clearly remember telling myself that I didn’t care how I looked or how fat I got because I knew who I was as a person and that gave me all the strength to love being myself in my own skin. Although I was never really fat, I was ridiculed by certain people for how skinny I was. I was underweight for a long time in elementary school and middle school… but I couldn’t do much about that. With all of my innocence, even with all of the pushback I received for being “too skinny,” I continued to love myself and be okay with myself because I knew myself as a person and the way I looked didn’t matter to me. I knew what I liked, the person I wanted to be, and the people I wanted to be friends with. And knowing myself and my values, that was all I needed.

Only did everything change mid-way through high school. This was due to multiple influences of media, other girls at school who were much taller or skinnier or prettier… and it was almost like it was all set up for me to compare myself. I was losing the innocence of my untouched, natural mind. In high school, I admit that I did have issues with my body and eating habits. I would scroll down blogs of really fit, skinny girls, then skip meals and spend time at the gym for 2-3 hours a day, 6 days a week. I restricted myself to a lot of different foods and would feel guilty for snacking. Nobody should ever feel guilty for eating food. I even spent a stupid amount of money on a “detox” tea that merely contained lots of laxatives. I’ve been to therapy sessions for this matter and cut ties with people who triggered insecurities about my weight. I lost who I was. I succumbed to the values of the mass and let myself stray from the innocence of know what really mattered most in life. Only up until a year ago was when I decided that I needed to stop battling with myself. I am on my own side and before I expect anybody else to love me, I need to learn how to love my own self. There was one point that I thought to myself that once you have an eating disorder, it never really goes away because in the back of your head, you’ll always be thinking about the numbers and the carbs and that fat intake and it’s going to taunt you. However, with enough time and enough good influences I have found in my life, I have let myself forgive and forget. It’s been an uphill battle, but I am slowly rekindling my untouched, innocent 13 year old mind.

Right now at this point, I’ve overcome the negative relationship I had with food. As ironic as it sounds though, I have lost my values as a person (something that my 13 year old self never questioned), meaning I don’t really know what I truly like and dislike (is it really what I like… or is it what I think is cool to like?) or how I should or shouldn’t act (should I be a nice girl or act like a boss ass bitch who doesn’t take shit from anyone????) I don’t know where to draw lines between people I should hang out with because I genuinely like them or because I know that they like me a lot, so I should like them back??? These are all things my old, innocent mind would have never questioned. I know these are very small and trivial things to think about and they should be obvious, but I just can’t seem to figure out what I want and what I should do… I’m working on it and trying to go back and find my innocent mind, the mind that was unscathed by the rally of people using “fat” as a synonym to “ugly,” and the voices that would tell me that if I were fat, nobody would love me. I must find that innocent mind that told me that being a good person was all I needed to do in order to love and accept myself, and I am constantly reminding myself that to remember these things everyday.

Either way, I am currently figuring it all out as I go along, and a lot more with the help of my boyfriend and best friends, I am slowly but surely finding the true values that are deeply hidden within the innocence of my 13 year old self.

*After rereading this for the first time hours after publishing it, I realized I made a ton of typos.. but that was because I felt a bit uncomfortable with the personal material I posted on here which is why I chose not to proofread it and just make the decision to publish it. So bear with me and my many typos here. Thank you.

SOLAYM: Pride & Prejudice

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Everyone in their lifetime hits a point of judgment and prejudice. A lot of people hit a point of actually caring about these prejudices, while the few lucky ones just don’t. I had no experience with negative assumptions and judgment.. or at least a care for it up until now. Because I was such a quiet person growing up, I knew that nobody had a reason to dislike me… and those who didn’t like me… well, I knew they didn’t know me so they had no good reason to so I just brushed that off my shoulder.

At this point in my life as a 20 year old constantly meeting new people and networking, I am extending my arms out to hundreds of people every year. I am making conversation, making judgments about people as they are with me… However, this past year has hit me harder than ever. I have heard many rumors about me, presumptions about me, lots of different judgments. I guess that’s what happens when your network starts to grow… the more people who know you, the more people who are prone to talking about you. It’s gotten to me more than I should have let it, though my skin is still in the process of thickening… but this occurrence has helped me realize I am still as fragile as a thin layer of ice on a lake of the first day of winter.

Now for the most part, I just shrug and say I don’t care… but I actually just internally let myself feel the wrath of the accusations circulating around my network of acquaintances… and then I try to let it go. It isn’t always easy, but I know much better that recirculating all that hatred and prejudice also is poisonous for the mind.

With a lot of thought put into it, I have come to the conclusion that fighting fire with fire doesn’t put out the flames, and that two wrongs logically do not make a right. I know I must realize that people will have opinions and that “what they think of me is none of my business.” That is the best way to live. Like Kid Cudi said, “they gon’ judge me anyway, so whatever”. To live a life with a healthy mind, I must rid myself of negative feelings towards those with poorly preconceived ideas of me. I know in my heart and soul that I try to be as nice as a person I can be, as understanding of person I can be, as polite, considerate, and intelligent of a person I can be, and if that isn’t enough for somebody else… then I guess the only problem is their problem. As cloudy as my mind may get from all of this negativity, I must remind myself to be better than that. I refuse to let these negative opinions of me get in the way of my growth and confidence. It’s been a difficult journey with all of these negative people buzzing in and out, through and around my ears, trying to drag me down… but I am strong. And for those who have a problem with me, those negative feelings is just your energy used up against me. And with the power of myself in respect to Buddha and his teachings, I emancipate myself of all of the fucks I have given to those who have talked shit about me in the past, still talk shit about me, and will continue to talk shit about me in the future because it is not worth my emotions or time. Thank you.

Here are 2 incredible quotes that inspire me:

I don’t care what you think about me. I don’t think about you at all.” – Coco Chanel

My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do. I expect nothing and accept everything. And it makes life so much easier.” – Anthony Hopkins

*For more posts and pictures of positivity, visit http://www.solaym.tumblr.com. I have had this blog for a few years now and constantly always look back at it when I need inspiration and enlightenment for those bad days.

Rant: Words

I would like to rant right now. I hate not always having the right words pop into my head that exude exactly what I am thinking. I hate how I trip over words and scramble to look for the right ones. It is such an impediment to have a world in your mind and opinions you wish to express with all of your heart, but you can’t string it all together and execute it verbally.

I cannot argue. I cannot argue. I cannot argue for my life. I am so tired of keeping full out rants and incredible stories and little things about my day that I liked and just everything that I feel, to my own self because I don’t know how to say it out loud. And when I try to, it doesn’t come across how I imagined or to the fullest effect it could have been if someone else were to tell it. And I am so deeply envious of those who are graceful with words, who say exactly what they truly mean to say and can pick out the right words from the top of their head. It’s truly a talent. Maybe one day I could possibly do that… but I cannot express myself for the life of me with words and I just want to punch a wall because I feel so disabled.