Florida Bound!

So I guess this is my final hurrah of summer… I’ll be heading to Florida with J and his fam to Tampa and Orlando to do some sight seeing, beaching, and, of course (😁) Disneying!

Probably gonna start a blog string of posts for the days I’m there 
Until then 
Ciao friends!

Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots! (And Why I Can’t Seem to Handle Them)

No, this is not an alcohol related post. 

In fact, the only thing alcoholic about it is the wipe that’s used to scrub that one patch of skin where the needle is supposed to go in…
But let me back up. 
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a major aversion to shots. Needles. Blood drawing. Pretty much anything that involves a needle-skin contact. 
But that hasn’t stopped anyone from taking me to the doctor, or skipping immunizations. 
In my recent teen years, however, I’ve developed a physical aversion to shots. Flu shots in the past have had me seeing green around my vision, and feeling lightheaded. I’ve always combatted this by sitting down and putting my head between my legs, to let the blood rush down. However, just this past Wednesday, that usual strategy didn’t really work for me. 
I’m over 18, and I have to schedule my own doctors appointments. I went in for a TB screening, thinking that if meet all the criteria on a sheet of paper that would let me skip the screening all together. Cuz let’s be real, I didn’t have Tuberculosis. 
But I had a new doctor, he hadn’t seen me yet for a checkup, and wanted to do a TB skin test anyways. So the whole “uh oh needle” feeling took me by surprise, and I was frantically googling the procedure while my doctor called for a nurse so as to attempt to prepare myself mentally, and know what to expect. 
When the nurse came in, she was cheerful and friendly and it seemed like no big deal. She talked about how her daughters went to the same university as I’ll be attending and pulled out a super thin needle. I saw it and knew it wouldn’t hurt that much at all. Even when she did it, it didn’t hurt much at all. 
However my anxious subconscious thought otherwise. 
I thanked her, and went back out into the waiting room to pay my copay. The friendly guy at the front desk was getting ready to help me when suddenly, my hearing got fuzzy and I began to feel light headed. I told him “can you uh, just give me a sec?” Knowing I had to sit down and put my head between my legs before it was too late. 
The good news? 
I found a seat quickly, and did just that. 
The bad news?
I fainted inevitably on the guy next to me (I want to find him to this day to apologize to him!)
I was brought back to reality by an elderly  woman sitting in the chair facing me asking me if I was alright. Still foggy, I sat up and told her yes, that I was just hot and tired, and then proceeded to have with her a short conversation about the weather. At that point, I thought I was fine, that the dizzying feeling had or would pass, that I could finally get up and pay my copay. 
I go back to the friendly desk man and hand him my credit and medical cards, resting my head on my arms on the desk afterwards. 
The next thing I knew, I was on the ground with ten or so adults standing over me, most of ten nurses all trying to get a blood pressure reading and other vital readings. It felt like something out of a hospital show. 
 I was put in a wheel chair and wheeled back to a bed where I could lie down, and was told to drink juice. 
(I swear, every nurse that passed the room where I was offered me juice, and I was just hoarding juice boxes at the end.)
But all of them were super sweet, coming in all concerned to check on me, make sure I was comfortable, that color returned to my cheeks, that I had enough juice to drink. 
Eventually my new doctor came in holding more juice (haha). He apologized and didn’t know that I’d react that way (though I should have told him it’s happened in the past). He then proceeded to tell me the cause of my fainting, a term I had forgotten about but won’t forget any time soon: a vasovagal response. He explained that my fainting was brought on my anxiety and stress, and that the body can respond to stressful events with an initial increase, then sudden drop, in blood pressure. 
It made me feel a bit annoyed that my body would decide to do this AFTER I had already gotten the shot… But sigh. 
I researched this more on the way home and found that 
1) I need to notify doctors of this from now on
2) I should lie down immediately after to avoid vasovagal
3) clenching muscles helps raise blood pressure and this counter the dripping brought on by vasovagal. 
I have to go back to the doctor today to get results for the screening… Guess I’ll just have to own the fact that yes, I’m that girl who fainted twice _after_ a shot. 
Have any of you guys had reactions like this, or share a similar fear to me? 

Savoring and Butterfly Wings

When I was younger, I was so captivated by butterflies I took to capturing them, in a jar, in my hands… In one instance remember watching in amazement as a pale yellow butterfly fluttered around in the cave of my hands. But then I noticed something: when I trapped it in my hands, a dusty residue would appear. Trying to keep it from flying away, I cupped my hands a hair tighter until I could feel its wings beating gently against my palms. 

Giving a closer look I could see that one of the wings was now bent, cracking. It shocked me for a minute– all I had wanted to do was hold this butterfly, look at it, marvel at it. But the wings had not held up against even the gentle cupping of my hands. 

And it occurred to me that life, honestly, is like the butterfly (and its wings): more fragile than we think it is. We just want to hold onto it, moment by moment, marvel at what we have, our blessings, the blessings of others… But the slightest motion can come along and crack it, bend it, leave it hanging by a thread. 
Just half an hour ago I read an Instagram post from an acquaintance my age regarding her mother’s tragic loss to a 5-year long fight with cancer. Shortly after that, I read about a car accident involving 4 passengers under 20 years old, where one of them had passed away and the others required urgent care. She reflected on the fact that life is so precious, and could be taken away in a heartbeat. I thought back to the recent loss of my grandfather and grandmother and just stopped, forgetting the recent posts I had viewed just stamped with my double tap of approval faded, and all that seemed to linger in my mind was the raw emotion of of the posts, the sadness of the words, the surge of empathy that came after reading it, and the quiet comforting feeling of the comments containing nothing but love and support. 
It made me think about what mundane things we fill our lives with…worry and drama and money and fights… And how precious every moment really is… 
Being very unproductive today made me feel guilty, like I hadn’t lived this day to the fullest, or treated every breath like it was my last. 
But that’s a bit unrealistic, yeah? No one goes around thinking “I could die today, better make the best of today”. If we all walked around thinking that, we’d be depressed. And some people are, but that’s besides the point. 
And then I got to thinking… Where’s the balance? I want to live every moment to the fullest but I don’t want to think about death, and I don’t want to constantly feel like I’m taking things for granted. Normally, in today’s society, we only notice after it’s too late. The waves of support come _after_ the shootings, _after_ the rapes, _after_ the suicides. I know humans live by trial and error and we learn things more often than not the hard way, but why can’t the waves come sooner? And so my mind comes back, having come full circle and I still don’t know how to cherish every moment. 
But then I thought–
What if instead of savoring everything (wouldn’t that just lead to a sensory overload?) we selected wisely what we wished to savor and support, all while being mindful of the fact that nothing is permanent, anything can happen, and that life is perhaps more fragile than a butterfly’s wing?
I though about this some more and stepped back and observed how I savor. 
I smile at people. It especially helps the savoring process when they smile back. 
I close my eyes and try to feel everything that’s going on around me– the humidity, the child screaming, the faint scent of petunias, the colors behind my eyelids. 
I sing. Anywhere and everywhere, I let the words and the melodies wrap themselves around my heart and my brain and sit back as they settle in to form a link to a memory, a sensation, something I want to feel for a long time from now. 
I hug. Whether it’s to brighten someone’s day or make my own, there aren’t words for the wonders a much needed hug can do. 
I pray. Or meditate. (Depending on the mood and what feels right at the time.) And sometimes that brief taking stock of everything moment just puts it all in place, and makes you aware of the gravity in which you exist in that single moment. 
How do you guys savor every day life?

On Summer {Thus Far}

Wow this summer has definitely flown by at record speed. Come August 24th I’ll be packed up and shipped south, where I’ll set up reside with my lovely room mate and begin a new chapter in university life. It’s so exciting looking forward, but I also wanna take some time to reflect on some of the things hat have made this summer so awesome. 

-I started a running regimen! Not only do I not hate running anymore, I’ve also been able to build up strength and endurance in daily training so that I can run a good two miles without being just flat out out of breath. 
-I reconnected with this blog! It’s been so hard lately, to keep up with this space with school happening, but I’m so glad I took on this challenge (even if I had to schedule a couple posts 😉) because it helped me get bad in the groove and put me back where I want to be in the blogosphere. 
-I got a credit card of my own! (Squeeee I just made another Amazon purchase today though…😁 oops…)
-I went to the beach for what seems the longest two weeks of my life, and realistically, the last time for a while. 
-I did so. Much. Shopping. And bargain hunting. 😣 ouch, my poor paycheck….
-…and speaking of paycheck, I quit my job! (I know that doesn’t really sound all that great, but I had been getting fed up with where and who I worked with… So it’s nice to have a break. )
-I biked everywhere. 
-I went bowling with coworkers!
-I spent time catching up with friends that I haven’t seen in a long time, and current friends that I’ll miss so much when they leave for their respective college journeys next year. 
-I ate ice cream. Lots of it. XD 
-I went on a soft-core road trip with friends to speak the language that I love all the way down in Lexington, VA. 
-I attended orientation!! What an awesome peek into my life for the coming months. 
-I got brutally burned to a lobster shade of red by the sun.  
-I’m about to vacation in FL with J! We’ve never been on an extensive trip together like this before so in super pumped (: 
-I read so many worthwhile books this  summer! (Including but not limited to: Paper Towns, Horns, The Sirens of Titan, & Whistling Past the Graveyard)
-I had a kick-ass grad party featuring the best closest friends, Chipotle, and an awesome game called Quiplash. 
-I went fishing down at my grandmothers house and caught my first huge fish (I didn’t clean it though, I’m too squeamish for that). 
-I have cleaned my room multiple times and I’ve started packing for college! 
-I finished the 2016 summer blogging challenge!!!
What have you guys done this summer? And how do you plan on finishing it strong? 😉

The Whirlwinds of Change

Whew! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. But I’m gonna try to make it a weekly feature now, seeing as the summer blogging challenge will be ending soon (😥). 
Shall we?
-I finally applied/got approved for/received a credit card. I know it’s like a simple thing, but it’s a big step, considering I don’t have to have all of my funds and purchases under my parents anymore. It just makes me feel a step closer to being independent. However I have to cut myself off from online purchases, seeing as I’ve spent a little too much this month already 😅
– I attended college orientation! One day, 4 hours of driving, a million degrees out, but an awesome time and I can’t wait to call the university home. 
-J came home from Hawaii! That’s part of the reason I’ve been off the grid recently– I greeted him at home at 7:00am with a lei and lots of hugs. I then spent the night with him (!!!!) at his mother’s new house (which was absolutely gorgeous and I didn’t want to leave) and witnessed all of the drama and celebration of her birthday weekend.
-I have started packing for college! Yup, all the stuff I know for sure I want to take is being put into a huge box. Move in is late August, and I’m still not sure how I got here. 
-I’m going to Disney for (can you believe it?!?) the second time this year, and I leave June 30th with J and his family 😭😁
-VBS is starting up again, and I get to spend a week with little kidlins as what people have started to coin as “Jesus camp”. Excited to see their cute little faces and endless energy. 
-I’ve been working hard to run every day for the past four weeks, in hopes of becoming more fit and to feel better physically and mentally. I’ve been trying to do 3ish miles each time I go, and it clears the mind and gives me an opportunity to quietly binge on Panic! At the Disco (haha). 
What’s new in your worlds? 

On the Contents of My Backpack

I know there are those people who do the “what’s in my purse” posts, and I’m excited for this slightly bigger version.

So here’s a peek of the stuff that I’m always sure to pack on my back whenever I need to go somewhere (that warrants me taking a whole backpack XD)
  • Pens. Because you never know when you’re gonna have to take notes, sign a contract, or stab something.
  • Notebook. For those ideas that come to mind, journal entries, doodles, and for recording other useful info.
  • Wallet. Because I’d be practically lost without cash, ID, credit card, coupons, membership cards, and whatever change I can fit in there. 
  • Hair/Face accessories. Includes but isn’t limited to bobby pins (stupid flyaways/last minute hair dos), safety pins (fashion malfunctions!), comb, hairties, floss, and sunglasses.  
  • Makeup Bag. With all the goodies inside.  

  • Gum/Emory Board. For those deadly hangnails and dates with lots of garlic in the food.  
  • Lotion/Sanitizer/Lip Balm. Moisturize and sanitize. Nuff said.
  • Phone. An every day staple. 
  • Cube/Charging cable. For when you’re on your last legs of battery.
  • Personal care items. For when BO and/or Mother Nature hits you with a surprise.  

NOT PICTURED (either because I forgot/couldn’t find it currently):
  • Water bottle (!!!!!)
  • clothes (depends)
  • camera (though often I use a phone.. but when I can afford a new one…!!!)
  • external battery pack
  • keys
  • fooooooooooood (because duh)
  • mini roll of duct tape

*feels like a commercial line* What’s in your backpack?

On Peace

It seems like this is a bit…lacking lately. 
Both in my life and in the world around me. 
And a Sunday ago, I heard a great sermon from a pastor who used to intern at our church that I thought related to this topic.  He made the sermon on the rooftop of his hotel in Israel, filmed it, and broadcasted it to us in place of a sermon given by our normal rector. 
And I don’t know your beliefs, your morals, or political views… But I think his message can honestly be applied to people of all colors, creed, genders, beliefs, and faiths. 
He basically said that he has noticed the unrest in people lately, and wished that everyone could take a step back, refocus, reconnect with one another, and, essentially, find peace together. 
He mentioned a story of Jesus visiting Mary and Martha. Upon Jesus’ arrival, Martha was rushing around the house trying to be the perfect hostess while Mary was just sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to what he had to say. Martha comes over, however, and asks Mary “why are you just sitting here? Aren’t you going to help me? Jesus, tell her to help me get this pace ready!” And then Jesus speaks to Martha, saying (and I quote) “[41] ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, [42] but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'”
(Luke 10:41-42).  
And then the guy giving the sermon asked us to imagine that what Mary has chosen to do is to stop worrying, to stop running around with such haste and bother and just to sit down and look at what is in front of us… Be that a spiritual goal, family, blessings, or life’s simplicity.
Our sermon-giver then pans his camera over the Holy City, making mention of the walls dividing Israel and Palestine. He says that he’s confused as to why the walls exist, if for no other reason than a difference in religious views. He says that in times like these it’s important to break down walls, not build them up, that the key to understanding and acceptance and inner peace is to expose yourself to as many new and different ideas that you can, to either mesh with or compliment your own.  
I was able to apply his words to many aspects of my life: social media, social circles and social injustice, and of course, my faith. 
What if we could abandon our seemingly constant need to filter our lives and worry about likes and retweets and virtual attention, and instead focus on who we are, our unique qualities and what makes us each beautiful?
What if we could stop running around trying to please/impress people and instead, take pride in and listen to who we are, what we believe in, and not strive so much to be “cool” or build walls between people who are different from us?
What if we could stop being distracted and pressured by social constructs and instead focus on the fact that we are all human, with equal rights that should not be tainted by other humans? 
And it just made me think about the massive effects this mindset could have… If everybody were to expand who they were, via the interaction and sympathy with other people, people that are different from us. And if we were to put as much effort into tearing down* that we do building up (*walls and barriers in this case, because it’s important to “build others up” instead of “tearing them down”).. I just feel like we would have a much greater shot at peace than we do now. 

On Singing

Like music, a gift. 
I sit, as I write this, in a cozy downtown seafood place at a gig of a friend’s brother, who is making his living touring America as a musician. And as I appreciate his vocal runs and swift guitar strums, I think back to my initial love for singing and what a wonderful impact it has had on my life. 
My mother recounts that my singing days started young, in preschool concerts and later in elementary school, where I learned to get over my stage fright during a patriotic show with the 1st grade class. 
Since then, it’s just been a given– in my day to day life, class schedules… Years of being involved in choir programs, All-County/District choirs, and Choral-fests have opened up my mind and heart to more music and people than I ever could have imagined, all while instilling in me the importance of a huge group of people’s hearts beating together as one collective dedicated effort in the creation of art. 
And though the days of school concerts have come to an end, I’ve never lost my appreciation for the art, nor have I lost my desire to do it every day… In the car, in the shower, with friends, in a band at my church, and on my own.  And it’s awesome because you can carry your complimentary instrument with you wherever you go. (I’ll definitely be packing it along with my other college things.) 
I’m excited to pursue acappella in college, as well as attend all the musical theatre productions I can, and of course, keep music in my daily life.  

On Music

What a wonderful gift.

I don’t know where my life would be without it.  I feel like I am the type of person who would go insane if music did not exist.

Whether I am appreciating the music of others or making some on my own… It’s always a form of remedy and hope and good vibes. And that sounds cheesy, but honestly… Whenever I feel off…if I’m able to find the right tune, my mood can change in a matter of minutes. I absolutely love the fact that music can match your heartbeat (or even elevate it), make you want to move, bring you to tears (sad, happy, angry), perfectly describe your feelings, and distract from hard situations.

Lately I’ve been reconnecting with my past self, binging on Panic! At The Disco music (also cuz they’re touring with Weezer!) during my various workout regimens, in addition to practicing instruments I haven’t touched in months. It’s so very valuable to just drop all outside thoughts, focus on notes and rhythms on a page, and create, with as much or as little passion and effort needed. 
The cool thing is that music is a constant. It’s always been there for me– pulling up memories and people and relationships and scents that sometimes I feel I’ve forgotten or buried, and pulls them out for a good 2-4 minutes, allowing me to reminisce. Songs I’ve fallen hard for will rarely be skipped, and the songs I’ve outgrown pass by on my playlist, but not after I’ve listened to the first 4 seconds and given a nod to my past taste and prior self. 
I have an endless lists of artists that I appreciate, and if you want a taste of them feel free to head over to the Musicbox, to get a feel for the jams that I have cherished and will cherish every time I press play on Spotify, YouTubr, or my personal song library. 
What do you guys like most about music? Are there any songs that you’ve completely forgotten about that come to surface sometimes and make you smile?

On Road Trips

Speaking of road trips….

I’m going on a mini one tomorrow for college orientation 😁 it’s three hours or so away, and I’ll be up and going at 4:30 in the morning to get there on time. 
But anyways. 
Road trips, when they don’t include screaming children and broken air conditioners, are amazing. As I mentioned in my travel post, sitting in a vehicle watching the scenery go by is probably one of my favorite things on this earth… I can make it a good two hours without doing anything else. 
And though I haven’t fully hard-core driven on a road trip myself yet, I’ve been with friends and there’s something so liberating about the open road. In this case, cliches get it right.  Just driving along, (in my experience, along the East Coast) with mountains towering in the distance or rock cliffs enclosing you from both sides, or rolling, foggy hills sprawled out before you is enough to make you question your existence, your significance in a world this big and beautiful. 
I read “Paper Towns” by John Green recently– no spoilers, but there is a road trip involved, and one day I want to try to road trip the same direction a second time (the first time I did it was on a charter bus with a bunch of classmates to NYC). It just all sounded so exciting. 
And as someone who always seems to love to be on the move, road trips are perfect. The stops are enough to fulfill human necessity, but the rest of it is just watching and feeling and marveling. 
Any fun road trip stories from you guys? 
UPDATE: here are some pics from my route to college orientation!