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Good Karma

photo.PNG-2“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true. Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others. Live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best that is in you!” – Christian D. Larson 

It’s easy to get bogged down in stress and worry, in our jobs, school assignments, and friend and familial obligations. A day will always come around when something’s off with your car, you can’t figure out your homework, or people just aren’t as nice or forgiving as you’d like for them to be.

It’s harder to remember your repetitive thoughts about situations become your beliefs and that your beliefs become real.

Today, for a class assignment on ethnography, I visited a local farmer’s market with two sweet girls in my year. It was utterly relaxing and normal to be surrounded by peaceful customers who wanted nothing more than to find a great fresh vegetable for dinner or to discover some yellow pansies to plant in their yards. Everyone seemed relaxed and in no hurry at all. I might have seen four cellphones flash by although I passed dozens and dozens of people. Shoppers called out friendly greetings to the vendors, whom they clearly had interacted with before. Young children played with toy cars and bright blocks in a gazebo centered right in the middle of the market.

I felt a bit like a reporter again, carefully observing the scene and writing down what seemed interesting or unique.

The sun was out, the air was crisp, and the whole atmosphere was one of community and welcome. Although I was busy scribbling in a notebook noting everything from people’s conversations to their shoe style, even I was pulled into a conversation by a farmer named Patrick who noticed my alma mater name on my coat. It turned out his wife’s aunt worked as an economics professor at my college, and we had a nice chat about that for a few minutes.

I was trying to be inconspicuous and stand on the edges of the crowd but was pulled into the action. That’s the way life is, too. Sometimes we just have to let go and move with the current that’s flowing strongly around us.

I can’t be perfect. You can’t be perfect. The squash crop isn’t perfect either. But it’s still beautiful. Not everything is going to get done exactly when we want it to, exactly the way we want it to. The assignments are always going to be there, or your kids are always going to be there needing your help. Or those bills are always going to come along and need to be paid.

But life isn’t at its core about any of our stressors. It’s about the simple sense of community and well-being that can be found at a local farmer’s market.

We too have to foster harmony in our relationships, look for commonalities, try to be as warm and hospitable as we can, and ask for forgiveness when we haven’t been stellar humans. We are like the vendors waiting at our stands, trying to make a good impression and build a bridge of connection to customers as they stroll by.

I recently interviewed my aunt for a multimedia project, and she gave me a great quote to use in the film I’m creating. “I honestly believe in karma, it’s what you throw out in the world you get back. If you give good, you get good. If you give evil, evil comes back to you.”

It’s so simple yet so true.

Do I miss being able to write frequently? Yes, yes I do. Do I know at the core of my being that being a writer is who I am and was as a little girl and always will be most likely? Yes, yes I do. When I heard those two girls talking about writing classes that they hope to take next semester, was I a little nostalgic and sad? Yes, yes I was.

But I’m going to trust that everything’s working out the way it’s supposed to and that switching into the public relations track from the news & reporting one was a good life decision. I can’t see myself running around for the rest of my life, wired on coffee and in hot pursuit of the Next Big Story. I love to listen, but not quite that much. I like to travel, but not like that.

So I hope these two worlds of mine – the journalistic creative writing side and the problem-solving world of strategic communication and public relations – will blend together beautifully like the colors of the earthenware mugs I saw at the farmer’s market this morning.

Because I want to breathe deeply and fully all the days of my life. I want the sense of peace that allows me to lie down in the sunny spot on the couch and drift off into a crystallized world of daydreams and meditation just because. I want to spend three hours lost in a fascinating conversation about the meaning of life or curled up with a good piece of fiction. I want to build relationships with people worth knowing and keeping in my life.

I want to send out enough good will vibrationally so that the energy rises up like a sparkling purple net to catch and overtake any negativity that lingers around myself and the people who surround me.

Here’s to trying to be a good person today and to believing in the unfolding process of life.



Next Stop: Graduate School

CheersBarA college friend recently shared a concept with me: Stop the World – I Want to Get Off. It’s actually the name of an old Broadway musical. But I think it’s a clever proclamation for my life lately.

It’s not that it’s bad. As a young woman about to embark on the adventure that is graduate school, I know I’m lucky.

Yet it’s hard to watch the small signposts pointing me forward when sometimes I just want to curl beneath my blankets and hide. It’s hard to watch my high school friend’s family Chinese restaurant – the one where I’ve shared jokes, gossip and Sesame Chicken for more than a decade – change ownership overnight.

One day my friend is behind the counter ready to take my order. The next a woman who barely speaks English is smiling at me entreatingly. And although the newspapers dotting the shelves are familiar, and the Crab Rangoon tastes nearly the same – there’s a distinct flavor of goat cheese that wasn’t there before – I feel a little more empty inside.

Change is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I could go to the Windy City and encounter the break-neck pace of journalism studies at Northwestern’s Medill, or I could give one of the cradles of American history – Boston – a chance and try my hand at long-form writing. Would life in upstate New York be dull or peaceful? Where can you study creative nonfiction, magazine layout, website coding and press ethics all at once? Do I need to return to a large college town with southern charm to feel back at home? It’s a little overwhelming to have my inbox crammed with new educational suitors every few hours. I feel like I’ve got a lot of offers to go the prom but can’t decide who I want to date.

For many Millennials these days, graduate school is a way to advance their educations and marketability. It can also be a place to duck out from real-world responsibility. I have many friends who’ve never worked a day in their chosen careers – unless you count practicums.

But where else do you go but forward when the past life you once had has all but disappeared?

It’s sad to think about how many friends from middle and high school have vanished into the crush of life, never to be seen or heard from again. They move to new cities and forge new worlds for themselves. Some have the nerve to get in touch when they need something, of course. Others delete their Facebook accounts or drop you as a friend without so much as an argument to justify it. I guess they’re just cleaning house and deleting the people they don’t talk with as frequently anymore. I can’t say I feel that close to them either – unless we were in the same room or something. Then I’m certain feelings of connection and shared experience would come rushing back. If not, that’s what alcohol’s for, right?

Visiting friends around the country since college graduation has taught me one thing: the happiest ones were those whose school programs build for them a sense of community. It’ll probably be obliterated as soon as they earn their diplomas, but still, it offers someone to study with, have brunch with, and go out with on the weekends.

A sense of place and community seems fragmented in today’s world where people move on to the next best job opportunity swiftly, even if it sends them halfway around the world. One day you’ve got a buddy in the next cubicle to swap OMG emails with. The next your side of the office has been all but cleared out, leaving you amid dusty monitors, an assortment of pens that don’t write well, and the almost audible sound of “The Way We Were” playing softly in the background.

Sometimes, I want to return to the carefree days of summers spent in New York City where the concrete sucked up all the heat. I remember fun afternoons splashing around in a tiny pool with my cousin, snacking on hot dogs before driving upstate to see relatives.

It’s important to enjoy every moment. Every moment ends. The ridiculous time where the guy a few seats down from you at the concert was swaying wordlessly with his eyes closed, and you and your buddy cackled like hyenas? That’s a moment. Because one day she’ll be living 1,000 miles away from you. That imprint in time where you feasted on chocolates sitting on white mattresses in the bedding department of Macy’s catching up with former besties is a moment, too.

It’s comforting to be in a place where everybody knows your name sometimes.

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