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what is dark in me :: illumine ::

Month

October 2015

in four chambers

i am human. my goal is to fill my thoughts, words, and actions with positivity and gratitude. but, tired and restless, my mind is often consumed with unproductive energy. i have been spending some time reflecting on the content and the cause of my thoughts; and i believe that my mind is first triggered by what is in my heart, which serves as a repository for different aspects of my personality and historical documents of my life story.

here are some things that fill my heart, currently:

quiet moments 

 
 pretty pretty girly girl ready to twirl

  
missing places ive never been

 
believer in science aka nerddom on all levels

  
a great reproach for the dumbassery surrounding me daily

  
love for my peeps

  
countless secrets

  

rebel

  
wannabe photog

  
great darkness that fuels the bulk of my creativty

  
baby andrea, who believes in everything bright and beautiful

   
… in a deadlock with the skeptic who will not let go of the past

  
queen b

  
competitive spirit

  
desire for solitude

  
asian cinderella — just watch how a pair of shoes changes my whole outlook

  
obsession with light

  
propagator of tough love

  
vanity at its finest

  
complexity

  
my heart is filled with an assortment of memories and beliefs that filter my conscious thoughts. acknoledging the residents in my valves and atriums allows me to evaluate what belongs with me — and also what needs to move on, marked for the archives and ready to purge.

what is in your heart, reader? 

x,

-a.

ready.
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substitute for pistol & ball

from Chapter 1, “Loomings” of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—  
then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”

l e a f

this week has been a lesson in empathy. sometimes i feel nothing; but other times, i swear i feel everything and, overwhelmed, i shut down. yes, i feel terribly guilty for working in a hospital when i have a runny nose — which is pointed out to me about six times a day by nurses yet none of them offer to pay my sick leave. yes, i feel unsafe and vengeful when a car passes me in the center turn lane only to merge over at the last second. yes, i feel tested when i hear a mother tell her child, “shut up, im busy right now” as she scrolls through facebook on her phone one-handed.

deep breath. we’ve all been concerned, or in a hurry, or way out of our league. breathe.

i am reflecting a lot lately about the power that i give to my inner darkness. our self-view should not be defined by our last mistake, because how we choose to react to consequences makes us human. maybe you would choose differently than i would if faced with the same difficult decision. but having empathy for someone is remembering that they did have to make a choice — as we all do in life — and supporting the person, not necessarily the result. because we dont have the same backgrounds. or the same access to information. or the same faith and love to reassure us. or the same internal discipline to handle a fallout.
 
yesterday, a tree displayed two vastly different shades of leaves. halfway through october, i expect to see leaves turning red or yellow or orange — and then dropping. but i also usually see the season change affect a whole tree, not just half.

  
we all share a common goal: to find purpose. to share our purpose. to pass on our passions. we progress through life at our own pace, perhaps governed in part by the events and people we encounter. we all share a common direction, but perhaps some of us face more darkness, keep our heads down in the winds that press us harder, and sleep with demons raking our backs.

we all share a common purpose: to find our light and flourish. but sometimes, someone just two inches away seems to always bask in the sunlight while you shiver in a chilled breeze. someone else takes off and dances as the crowd applauds while you hang on tightly to what you know. and you doubt yourself: maybe you werent meant for greater things, so you stifle and rot with disappointment. 

but like the leaves on a tree, most of us do not choose the life we are born to. we do not control which direction we face. or the branch level. or the shape of our leaves.  and so we grow where are planted, even if its a different rate or method than someone above us. we respect other people’s processess — because we have our own to deal with. sure, you can be the scarlet leaf now. enjoy your time as the center of attention.

im right behind you

at the next stoplight.

falling, 

-a.

  

andreamj9

i never realized how many different pronunciations exist for “andrea” until i worked retail. the variations are endless: “an-dray-uh” and “on-dray-uh” are the most common. every once in a while, someone throws in “adrian” or “amanda” and asserts they are the same as “andrea.” the slanderings don’t surprise me much, as they started a while ago. in college, one of my literature professors told me he was going to call “on-dree-uh” because, “it sounds better that way.” sure, fine, it’s just a gigantic aspect of my identity (right up there with “female” and “human” and “near-sighted”) that you’re free to manipulate. my attachment to my name stops with marriage, however; one of my husband’s deal breakers was that i had to assume his last name, which ended up with me replacing my former middle name with my former maiden last name, and now i have a whole new name with different initials and more patriarchal family names as words than my personal identity anymore.

we’ve been creating our own monikers for a long time now. do you remember your very first email address?  screen names, in the beginning anyway, seemed to consist of your favorite things: a color, sport, favorable adjective, etc. i could log into AOL instant messenger (oh, the memories of late night chatting on AIM in my parents’ bonus room practicing my typing and multi-tasking skills) and scan through a list of my friends without ever seeing their given name anywhere on that list: rancidancer (band and profession combined), bluestare (title of a favorite song), yelloweasteregg (color and shape of car), whatartmeans3 (perplexing questions), etc. you’re considered a jerk if you say things like, “your name is atticus? what a stupid name, assicus.” but somehow, judging someone’s screen name seems perfectly acceptable: “stripperkiller999? de-friend.”

nowadays, my contact emails consist of conservative, non-offensive, easily remembered screen names which are mostly people’s first and last names or simple abbreviations. for example, my email address is andreamj9 – my first name, former middle initial “m” and former last initial “j” and my favorite number to say aloud “9.” but gone are the days of lefleur84 and soccerchick_6. i don’t know most of my friends’ favorite colors anymore. maybe we should bring back some creativity and appropriate first impressions. maybe we would surprise our coworkers if we signed up under the internal company newsletter with an email address of ilovebrowneyes00, chucknorrisismydad1, or bieberfever4eva. maybe we would discover something about ourselves if we sat down and developed screen names for each online persona: would you choose a different name for facebook than your church directory? maybe you would appreciate all the wonderful, unique aspects of your personality.

i challenge you to think up a new screen name (that is not just your name followed by a random number). write your new screen name down. this is you — a name you’ve created to share with the world. is this you inspiring? open? attractive? if this name represents positivity, then you can also embody strength and light.

(re)present yourself. you deserve it.

-a.

(aka purpleastoria, purplebutterfly_527, celestialangel46, missspell9, miss-calculated, andreamj9 – at some point in time)

packing

my father and i attended a financial seminar last week and the guest speaker opened with a question and story that i would like to share with you too. i hope you’ll take time to reflect and to pass on what you’ve germinated.

have you heard of charles plumb? he’s mostly known for his motivational speeches; but before he was a speaker, he was a  US naval jet fighter pilot in vietnam. he flew 74 successful air missions but his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile on his 75th. he parachuted out of his jet (so close to the ground that he tore 3 panels of his parachute)  and landed in enemy territory where he was tortured and imprisoned in a little 8 x 8 room cell by vietnam communists for 2,103 days.

i bet you weren’t expecting a history lesson from me today — but the story continues.

several years later, mr. plumb was eating lunch with his wife when a man walked up to him at his table. the man exclaimed, “you’re captain plumb.”

“yes sir, i am captain plumb.”

then the man continued with specific details about mr. plumb’s naval life: “you flew fighter jets in vietnam. you were on the aircraft carrier kitty hawk. you were shot down. you were a prisoner of war for 6 years.”

now as most of us would probably do if faced with a stranger who knew this much about our lives, mr. plumb guardedly asked him, “how do you know all this?”

and the stranger replied:

“because, i packed your parachute.
… guess it worked.”

mr. plumb shook the sailor’s hand and thanked him. later, he tossed and turned in bed all night, bothered by how little thought he ever gave to the sailor working well-below sea-level on an airship carrier, carefully weaving and folding piles of silk into a parachute — just in case any pilot’s life would ever depend on his labors.

so, who packs your parachute?

it’s not a matter of IF something is going to happen in life: something IS going to happen to each and every one of us that will stop time, forces choices, and irreparably change us. when this happens, who will be there?

who packs your emotional parachute?

your spiritual parachute?

i urge you to reflect on the people and experiences and objects in your life that allow you to function day-to-day. maybe it’s your family who hugs you goodnight. or the barista who prepares your morning espresso. or your salary that pays for your home. or your neighbor who prays for your well-being. or government loans for your education. or your financial advisor who guards your retirement. or the surgeon who repaired a broken jaw.

back to the story of mr. plumb: he was haunted by his attitude while aboard the kitty hawk carrier. he was a naval pilot who wouldn’t have wanted to speak to a lowly sailor wearing a dixie cup hat and bell bottom trousers. so he wondered how many times did he walk right past him, without a thought of “good morning”?

how often do you thank the person who packs your parachute?

often, i hear people say that they hope to look back fondly on life when they are 80 years old. if you catch yourself saying those words, consider these two things: 1) we’ve been told that only a small part of our happiness depends on external environment, meaning the other roughly 90% is determined internally (genetics and intentional activities); and 2) you do not have to wait until you are old to evaluate your successes and be proud of your life experiences. so starting today, let’s create and expand our own happiness by purposefully expressing our gratitude to those who pack our parachutes with full, thankful hearts. send a text message. write a letter. wish out loud on a dandelion. drive 20 minutes and give your mom some flowers.

thank you, dear reader, for packing my parachute of purpose. i refuse to believe that i have been given these thoughts and these words and these talents to remain an island; your finding me was not an accident, and i appreciate you for reading my blog.

-a.

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