My “other” downsizing project

 

I don’t know how many times I’m going to delete my social medias, only to end up coming back for some silly, self-gratifying reason. Hopefully this time will be the last.

I mean, that’s what social media is supposed to do, right? Hook you in by rubbing on your ego and making you feel like a million dollars, only to later remind you that you aren’t even a million pennies…?

This is yet another one of my familiar mountains that I tend to go in circles with. A lot of the time, my excuse for coming and going on social media is that I need it as a means to “keep up with” friends… or something of that nature, but I’m always reminded of how social media does nothing but drain me of my valuable time and brain power. I’ve been a firm believer for a long time that social media negatively impacts my perception of myself and others, but I’m always enticed by the idea of “letting my friends know” what I’m up to. As if I am still so naive to think that all of my “followers” are my friends.

It’s enough I struggle with how much time I tend to spend on YouTube watching videos of little to no value. There’s no need to throw an extra social media wrench into the mixture, ey? And I’ve been allowing the thought to float around in my mind for a good while. It’s not even like I’m saying that I’m going to just disappear from the internets all together…! I’m willing to keep at least 2 forms of social media contact open, but they will be 2 where I have the most control over what I am regularly seeing.

 

I’m not the slightest bit concerned with what other people are doing and I’m not exposed to their opinions when I get off of social media. I don’t care what other women are doing to their hair and nails, who’s the most attractive man or woman on the internet, the latest diet or body trend, or anything else like that! Yet, after 30 minutes of mindless scrolling, I’m so tangled up in what everyone else thinks that I can’t remember what I’d been thinking of for the entire week. Every time I log into social media, it grabs me by my baby hairs and plugs me right on in to the rest of the world, whether I want it to or not.

 

Sometime soon, I will randomly get rid of at least one of my useless social media accounts. I feel like I’m slowly going back under my hermit shell again, but I’m not. I just know that I’ve got to protect my peace if I want to keep it. Besides that, I’ve had so many changes go on in my life and I’m realizing that I’m better of when I am extremely selective about who or what I let into my world. I’m not cutting off everyone, but I am taking a moment to work on self-care. Plus, if I’m going to take the summer (and possibly longer) off, then I want to be careful about allowing people or things into my space that can cause me to not enjoy my break.

A long walk beside a graveyard [photo journal]

I took a long walk a couple of days ago. I’d been contemplating working on my ability to capture the beauty of nature, the way that I see it, and with the way my week had gone… I said screw it!

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I knew that beside this walking trail was a graveyard and I felt like I needed to be somewhere that would force me to think very hard about life. My life.

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There were hundreds of gravestones, if not thousands, and beneath them all lay the remains of people. People… just like me. They breathed the same air that I breathe now, they had thoughts, relatives, pet peeves… And now they’ve been reduced to soil. They’re recognized by a gravestone. And some day, that will be me. A gravestone with flowers on it. Not a woman with friends or enemies, not the research scientist, not the woman within a certain pay grade or holding a certain degree. And what will matter then?

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Why do I worry so much and allow fear to control my decision making? Why do I care so much about what people think? If I have a passion, why don’t I just go after it? Why do I allow society’s “expectations” rule my life? I don’t even really like “society”!

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By this point, my legs were beginning to cramp a little and hurt from walking for so long. I’d never spent this much time alone with God before and I felt like the dark cloud that was above me had been removed. As if I could suddenly breathe again. And then I saw something. Pretty yellow flowers, my favorite color flowers, were growing-wrapped around barbed-wire.

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As hostile and (still) dangerous barbed-wire is, the flowers still grew. Because that’s what beautiful flowers do, right? They continue to grow and bloom. They didn’t even droop or grow a less vibrant yellow color. And they didn’t grow around the barbed-wire to avoid it. How is it that a flower can do everything that I feel that I can not? How is a flower more brave and bold than me? And how can I become more brave and bolder?

Paranoia and fear has a death grip on me and if I don’t get out of it soon… it’ll lead me to my end

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I’m taking my life back.

 

 

 

 

Dream chasing

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I met a young woman named Laura last weekend. She was on the riverwalk, where I had been sitting and praying, taking photos. For some reason, I felt the need to speak to her, so I asked if she’d gotten any good photos. She came right over to me and said yes and told me that she’d been travelling and taking photos. It was her dream to be a photographer. Sitting on the bench, with my hair pressed straight, my sharp suit (or at least I thought I looked sharp!), and my uncomfortable flats, I looked up at Laura. The sun was shining bright on her skin and I couldn’t help but face the fact that I had lost myself. She was an example of what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. Who I thought I was on my way to becoming, until recently. I hadn’t drawn or painted a picture, finished a book, or even studied Japanese in nearly two months. I was back to eating uncontrollably and I’d put on 20 lbs, which was causing my face to swell. I hadn’t even been writing in this beloved blog of mine.

After our chat, Laura left and I wished her luck. She came back to me with a business card, which I put away and I am hoping to be able to work with her some day, and I wished her good luck again. I felt inspired in that moment and I realized that I’m trying to swim against a current. I’m being pulled under right now. Work, school, and drama that seems to always drag me back in. These days, I sometimes just think about disappearing. Not showing up to work anymore. Coming to my classes through the end of the semester, then living off a tight budget with whatever I have saved up. Spending my time outdoors, or just doing whatever makes me happy. Losing this weight, growing my hair long, drinking more water, and sharing more laughs and love with my companion. Only answering the phone when I know the call is one of positive nature. Yeah… that’s what I want to do.

But I know it’s not realistic. And I know it’s not the example I want to set for those who look to me for inspiration. So how do I take a break, without taking a break? That’s the question I’m facing.

Well, for one, I think I’m going to try to take more time to do what I love. Even if it takes some time away from everything else. I drew a picture of myself and my boyfriend today and I thought of some blog and vlog topics. I’ve been thinking of hand crafts to make too and I did my manicure. Honestly, I feel a little better already. I’ve also began to go to the gym and eat healthier again.

And as much as I do not like surprises, I’ve found that the best thing for me to do is to not plan this stuff out. Just like I just dropped everything and decided to write in my blog today, I spaced out in class to draw a picture, and randomly picked up my back and wallet and went to the gym. I started to listen to a Japanese podcast today and I asked some associates of mine for some good topics to talk about in Japanese. My boyfriend and I have also resolved to pray more often for each other, those around us (including the people who are hard to love), and for ourselves. It’s amazing to have an extra person donating strength and prayer to this beautiful cause.

So I say again, wish me luck!

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On taking my own advice…

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A photo of fuji in the background from Misakiguchi station

I’m always looking to comfort a loved one and remind them that everything will be alright. It’s something that I believe is one of my spiritual gifts from God and a part of His ultimate plan for me. Yet, lately I’ve had to take a serious look in the mirror. It’s great that I like to go to those who need me and encourage them and remind them that it’s in God’s hands. However, I should be doing more than just saying these things, I need to believe them, and I need to show my belief through my own actions.

I’m a woman who panics. There, I said it. I panic all of the time and 20 out of 24 hours of the day, I am in a constant state of anxiety and paranoia. I worry about just about any and everything and it’s been impossible for me to ever really relax. Why? Because over time, I’ve managed to convince myself that any and every bad thing that’s ever happened to me and hurt me was my fault and I believe that if I have more control over what’s going on around me, I can not be hurt again. No, it doesn’t always work out for me. In fact, sometimes I get myself into some deep waters. But this way of thinking and acting has been the way that I’ve operated and it’s given me enough results that I stuck with it til it became habit.

Now that I’ve begun to swim deeper into my faith, I’m realizing that it’s time that I stop trying to control my life out of fear, and give it over to God. Not only for my own happiness and peace, but so that I am in a better position for Him to use me. Maybe I won’t even have to speak so much to those around me because I will become a walking example of what I preach. I just don’t really know how to give Him more control. I don’t know how to live without believing I’m in control. And I’m almost afraid of what that feels like. I endured these feelings for about a month before and it was nightmarish for me. I will say, though, that towards the end of it all, I did have a small amount of peace. That’s probably the only time in my life that I was able to allow myself to be happy, despite what was happening around me. Even then, my anxiety was higher than ever and whenever my happy-high would wear off, I’d remember that I was living in a bad dream and I’d have small panic attacks.

I don’t even believe, or want to believe, that that’s what life is like when you give it over to God. At the same time, I just don’t really know what to do. I’ve been trying to retrace my steps back to the last word I got from Him because maybe if I pick up where we left off, I’ll be back on track. I also realize that perhaps I need to just ask him to help me to submit and turn over my life to Him.

Wish me luck~

4 Life Lessons

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Sometimes life grabs you by the throat and squeezes

 

I’ve always been instructed to pray bold prayers, so finally, I started to do just that. I asked God for several things, and I also asked him to take several things away from me. However, I didn’t realize the level of preparedness that I would need in order to get through what God was about to deliver.

A spiritual journey. Yep, that’s what I asked for. And you know what? God ripped me up and out of my comfort zone faster than I could finish the prayer! I have spent my time since then going through every emotion possible and slowly beginning to lean on my faith in ways that I didn’t even know were possible. I’ve got so much that I want to write and share, but for now I’m just going to talk about 4 lessons I’ve been blessed with recently:

Lesson 1: Be grateful for the blessings you do have

Honestly, I really thought I had this one down! I thank God all the time for the blessings I do have. BUT, I also have a terrible tendency to let the tiny setbacks in my life overshadow the good things. I realized that I need to spend a lot more time than I did before expressing gratitude. It’s not enough for me to just thank God for 5 minutes in the morning, before bed, or just before I bite into some food. I need to express my gratitude constantly so that I can never forget how fortunate I really am. There are a few ways that I have began to express gratitude more often, but one in particular that interests me is community service. Helping someone else really motivates me to be better, but also reminds me to be glad for all of the small things I do have.

Lesson 2: Know that you’re not alone

It’s so easy for the devil to whisper in my ears during my moments of darkness and remind me that I’m all alone and that no one can save me. So I’ve learned how important it is for me to really know and believe that I am not alone. There are people who have been through or are going through whatever it is you’re going through and they survived. You never even know but, some people may be going through it at the same time as you and they’re right beside you. It’s easier to slip into depression when you think it’s just you and that the world hates you, but if you recognize that you’re not alone, it makes that little light at the end of the tunnel much brighter.

Lesson 3: Lean on those who want to support you

It’s easy to think about and forget the people who you believe are there for you during tough times. Actually allowing yourself to be vulnerable and leaning on them is another story though. Sometimes I really felt all alone in the world and the old me would have wallowed in that pity party. This time around, I leaned on the people God strategically placed into my life pretty hard. I allowed myself to open up and talk about my feelings, break down, and even ask for favors that I’d never usually ask for. As much as I hate doing that, I really strengthened relationships, built new ones, and decreased the weight of the stress that I was going through.

Lesson 4: Keep pushing and never give up

That darn depression induced tunnel vision is the worst! It really makes me stop in my tracks because I’m almost convinced that the rest of the world has come to a screeching halt. In reality, it’s only me that’s stopped moving forward and making progress. That’s something I’ve learned I can not do. When it seems that one door is shut, it’s imperative that I start looking for the next door! Giving up is just not an option and neither is accepting the answer “no”.

Lately, my advice to those around me is to do what’s best, not what you think is going to be the right decision (unless they are the same thing). It’s good advice that I have got to apply to my own life more often. I look at every day these days as if they could be my last, so I live them to the fullest. I do what I can with what I can, and I can not stress about what I can not do. I appreciate my life much more and my trust in God has been increased 100 times over. I don’t assume that everything will be okay, or that the hard parts of life are over, but I assume and BELIEVE that it is all handled and that I should not worry about things anymore.

Uprooted

 

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Since the new year has arrived, my world seems to have turned upside down. What’s that saying again? Things aren’t falling apart, they’re falling into place…?

I’ve been steady on my path to fulfilling God’s purpose for me and Satan has turned the heat up on me 100 times over. I’ve gone through almost every emotion possible, had a few break downs, and leaned harder on my faith than I ever have before. I can’t help but wonder what it is that I am getting close to accomplishing that the devil is trying to prevent.

To some degree, I’ve gone back to isolating myself from people. Just a little bit. Or at least I’ve taken a step back from anyone who I can not be 100% sure are contributing something positive to my life. I value my peace and sense of security more than ever before and I’ve come to realize that people around me have an outstanding affect on just that. Not to mention, I’ve found that surrounding myself with people who have similar ideas and the same faith as me tend to keep me on track.

But for a moment I was questioning if I am wrong for wanting to be a little more picky about who I surround myself. I questioned if taking a step back from social media was truly the right thing to do. Could “people” really be that bad?

Well that brings me to the present day. In January I began my hunt for my “success groups”. I attended classes and interest meetings for many groups and organizations both on and off my campus in search of the one that would fit. After some time and some research, I narrowed my search down to just a few groups and began to settle into them. Everything really seemed like it’d go well with each group and for most it did, however, there is one group that things just did not seem to workout with.

A life lesson that I thought I was already familiar enough with decided to bring me some more lemons. The reason I tend to pull away from people and prefer to keep my circle extremely small is because I learned a while back that most people don’t love (or even like) me unconditionally. In today’s day and age especially, people like dismiss anything that doesn’t give them instant gratification. I learned very quickly that in one of my new groups, openly disagreeing with what the group wants (or specific individuals), instantly makes me an outcast. The feeling of being exiled like that initially took me to a low I haven’t seen in years. Suddenly, it seemed like I was so alone when I was only looking at that one group of people because I had nearly forgotten about all of the love and support I had from elsewhere. Suddenly, I seemed to have forgotten that I’d already become a part of other groups and did not have to solely interact with just that one.

Of course it didn’t take me long to see the light and to realize that the cloak of loneliness had been thrown over my eyes, but I had a thought. I remembered why I’ve chosen in recent years to take a step back from social media and why I’ve become such a picky person about who I allow to exist in my circle. I really value my inner and outer peace and sense of stability.

At the same time, as much as I love the life of a hermit, I know that it’s not good for me to just live under my safety shell. It may not seem like it initially, but my presence could make some sort of positive impact. And my outspokenness could be what inspires others to do the same and make a change some day. Not to mention, I think I needed a little bit of fire under me for me to really make a change in my life.  And after one month, I can honestly say that I feel renewed.

 

 

 

2016 vs 2017

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Today I watched a video of a very kind woman on YouTube and she was talking about aging. She said that when she turned 50, aging really began. She changed not only physically but as a person. Well, I dare to say that I am going through something very similar in my 20’s. Every year it seems that I shed a layer of myself that was clouding my view of the world, interfering with my relationship with Christ, and stopping me from enjoying my life to the fullest. And the craziest thing is every year before this year…

I had honestly thought that I had reached my full potential

That’s the first major difference between me last year and me this year. When 2016 came around, I was on a cloud. I had finally made it to the country of my dreams despite the many times I believed people were trying to stop me. This was also a major step up from 2 years prior. (In 2015 I had finally gotten my own place after being homeless.) So, naturally I thought that I was the sugar honey iced tea. I thought that I had become the most wise me that I would become. The most peaceful me that I would become. And I was making easy money, which sometimes made me think that I was even the wealthiest me that I would be. I was acting quite stupidly the entire year and needed to be knocked off of my high horse.

Well after about 6 months, off the high horse, I went. My time to return to America had come and I returned to living a normal life. Before I knew it, I was desperately seeking work and running out of money. Since I moved to a new state to enter college, my tuition was way higher than I could afford, so I had to ask my parents to help me. I had gained about 40lbs and become out of shape, so when I tried to join an athletic group at my school, I struggled. I became desperate for companionship and often attended my own pity parties. I got my dream job and couldn’t even enjoy it.

But God had other plans for me. I spent 2017 learning. I read about 4 or 5 books, which was more books than I had willingly read in a year since I was in middle school. With the completion of each book, paired with life experiences, and my new found fondness of bible study, I realized that I have a long way to go. I realized that life can and probably will get better and worse every year and to never again believe that I have achieved my full-potential yet. That mindset has honestly made me into the person that I am entering 2018 and it’s been a great thing.

Worrying literally just makes things worse

I am a true worry-er. I worry about every little thing. I’m still working on this, but I’ll tell you that I have finally realized why I need to stop worrying and that is a big contributor to my ability to worry less now. If I can’t change something or someone, then it can not be changed by anyone other than God himself. If I really believe believe in him then I will just move on.

Just because I call something a fact, doesn’t mean that it is

This one was my downfall, especially socially. If I had gotten it in my head that someone didn’t care about me or my feelings, that someone was trying to attack or offend me, or someone generally meant harm towards me, I just stuck with it. I also acted accordingly and that would damage relationships or make them worse. I figured out over the past 5 months though, that what I believe is not automatically fact and that I need to consider this before I act. It doesn’t mean that I have to agree with the other side of the story or even like it.

Stop giving people more than they asked for and STOP CHASING PEOPLE

Oh. My. Goodness. This one really came with my desperation for companionship that I had honestly thought I had left behind when I picked up celibacy (because dating went out of the window when I made that decision, since no one wants to be with a celibate woman). I was practically begging people for friendship and willing to give up my own peace and sanity to feel like I was being accepted by others. I was willing to drop plans and rearrange my schedule at the drop of a dime for any and everyone. Of course I got tired of this by the time the year started to come to an end and I can tell you now, that’s not me anymore. If I drop everything, it’s because someone or something is that important to me and what I was dropping was not. Not because I am worried that if I don’t spend time with a person, they will end our friendship.

Along with that, I had to learn to stop giving people everything. This could be money but it could also be advice. For one, some people become uncomfortable when you are offering them things constantly because they feel like the owe you. Second, trying to win people over is futile. Third, wasting breath constantly giving people unwanted advice or opinions in non-emergency situations just creates issues.

Upfront honesty really is best

I never thought I’d be the one saying this because I thought I was very good at letting people know how I feel. Nope. I was just really good at being openly critical of every little thing. I expected people to read my mind or I didn’t want to discuss things with them because “they’re adults and should know better”. I’d also not tell guys the real reason I was frustrated with them or not into them anymore, then secretly resent them and hate to be around them. Well, I’m over that.

Let go of anyone I don’t want to have around anymore

Not just men who I wasn’t being honest and upfront about wanting to break it off with. Problematic friends, people I knew had no good intentions for me, people who didn’t really have my back. Delete them. Block their numbers. Whatever. Just let go. I used to hold onto people the same way I clung to clutter. “What if I need them later?” Dude. C’mon.

Now, I don’t mean that I am cutting people off every single time my feelings get hurt or I get frustrated. It’s not something I don’t think about before I do it. But I’m done being afraid of letting people go. Especially when some people should’ve been gone a LONG time ago.

There’s more to gain from any job than just money

At the beginning of the year, all I could do was complain about my dream job. I felt like I wasn’t getting much out of it and that I was failing the few expectations set for me. It wasn’t until I started contemplating quitting for the first time that I really had to ask myself what this job was worth. Around that time, I had began reading Girl Code and watching a YouTube series called Entrepreneurship 101 and I realized a couple of things. First, a job should offer me more than just money. What I am not being paid in cash, I should be being compensated for in experiences. Second, I am in college and this is the prime time for me to collect all of the knowledge I can. I have people with a variety of expertise (not just the field I want to go into) at my fingertips. I shouldn’t have to be handed what I need to pursue my own success.  I should be chasing it down!

Invest in myself and my passions

I believe that if there’s something I like to do and I am good at it, it should be nurtured and improved because it can be the key to my success. Now, I could potentially find success in something I had never done before and that’s okay too. But if I am wondering where my future success lies and I’m tired of the lifestyle I’m living now, it wouldn’t hurt to begin with investing in my passion. This idea even applies down to my fashion sense. I took a sum of money (not much) this year and decided to take myself shopping for my capsule wardrobe. I picked only pieces that I knew flattered me, were of good quality,  and were within my budget. Since then, I have been so much more confident in my day to day life because I always feel like I have something nice to wear. This time next year, I am hoping to have made some investments in myself that have really uplifted me.

My success is only limited by what I believe

I was holding myself down for a long time because I either thought I had nothing more to learn, or I thought I couldn’t be taught. It wasn’t until I started to apply the things I was learning, trust God, and fearlessly approach new challenges that I started to really see this as the truth. So long as I believed in myself and worked to achieve my high goals, I was never really disappointed in the outcome. I had worked hard and remained positive the entire time, so I always gained a lot. I now believe that this will be true for a lot of things I would like to accomplish. As long as I have faith and work hard, doing as I have been instructed to by God, I can accomplish any and everything meant for me to.

Stay calm

I’ve been writing about this one lately because over the past 4 months, specifically, being calm has been the only way I have been able to get anything done. I used to freak out completely, but I came to learn that the best thing may be to calm down and maybe even just go take a nap.

I don’t need a ton of stuff

Yep! My first posts on this blog were about just that and I have found that letting go of my intense need for a ton of stuff has been freeing for me physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I learned a lot from cleaning out the junk in my life, the ones I listed here are only some of many, and I look forward to the life lessons and growth I will see in 2018.