Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Epiphany of a Lifetime

Whoaaa amigoooss! It's been so long! Well, I'm not sure how long it's really been, and I'm sure it hasn't been as long as I feel like it has, but when you have a computer and no internet, time seems to dddddrrrrrraaaaaagggggg onnnnn. It's good though, because one of the reasons I was so excited to return to Spain was so I could return to a life with less technology involved. However, they have come quite far since my last time here, and now smartphones are almost as common case as they are in the good ol USofA. But not to fear, I have made the conscious decision to rely on my cell phone to help me survive much less than I do in the States, and to trust and rely more on God and my instincts. (Also the directions of other people acquired through actual conversation, not navi systems.) So far, so good, and I'm going to keep with this trend.

Now, let's get down to business, because I have A LOT to catch you up on about mi vida Espanola. From the trip over, to the first week, to now, and everything in between!

When I think about my days, it doesn't seem like I've had much going on, but then when I really think about it, I realize that everything, to me, is a big deal and some sort of monumental moment, because it's all so new. Every single experience I have here is new, and that is what I was searching for. I needed to get to a point in my life where I didn't know what to expect, I didn't have a plan, and I wasn't trying to be or do anything in particular, but just live in the moment, let life happen, and enjoy it all the way through. I needed to regain my appreciation for life, and learn to just love myself, trust myself, and accept who and what I am. And even though I've only been here for about 12 days, that's exactly what has happened.

I had the most amazing, inexplicable epiphany the other morning, that has left me feeling so renewed, centered, accepting of myself, and complete. It was like God decided to gift me with the answers to the questions that most of us, if not all of us, spend our entire lives trying to answer, even if we don't realize it -- who am I? what am I? where am I going? what is my purpose here?

Since I got here, I have been spending a lot of time completely alone. I am living in a huge apartment by myself until I find one of my own, and didn't have any friends in Sevilla for about the first week and a half I was here. The last time I was abroad, my mom gave me a daily devotional book called Jesus Calling, written by Sarah Young. It has short tid-bits to read each morning, and for the last three years I've been trying to read it every day, think about what it's saying, and start my day with thoughts of God. Well, it's easier said than done, even though the book is fun-sized, and the devotionals don't even take up a full page. At best, I would read it, and that was rarer than I'd care to admit. But then, I would try to think about it while I got ready for the day, at which point, thinking about it was already not happening. But this time, it's different.

I started fresh! I was almost two weeks into the month, but that's not really what I mean by it. I mean that I re-read the intro, and let it resonate with me. I wanted to feel and hear what she talked about hearing and feeling from God through spending time meditating on and with Him. I was desperate for it, and determined to make it happen.

For so long I've asked God to speak to me in a clear voice like so many have talked about, but it hasn't happened. I haven't been ready. And maybe I never will hear His voice, but the things I've been thinking in my time with Him can only be messages from Him. Each day I read the devotional, talk it out, think about it, talk to Him, and pray while I'm reading it. I take breaks and really think about and process certain parts that really click, and sometimes, just sit in silence. It has been the most rewarding time alone I've ever spent, and leaves me feeling so full of warmth, joy, happiness, and love. It has become a time of day that I look forward to, and instead of seeking other things, I now seek this time with Him to reboot.

It was a few days ago that I was blessed with the answers, or better yet, feelings, that I needed to have in order to begin to live my life in the way I am supposed to -- living and loving in and of the here and now.

It's so simple, but so hard to do. For the last almost 24-years I have been searching, seeking, wanting, hoping, trying to discover this answer. I haven't been living and loving myself and life in the present moment, because I've been too concerned about what each moment would produce and what my behavior conveyed. I couldn't be happy with myself, because I was striving to be, instead of just being. Now, that is done. Now, I love who I am, who I'm deciding to be, who I want to be, and the things I want to do. And because I'm so content with myself and accepting of who I am and who I'm not, I am not worried about conveying a certain image to anyone. I don't care anymore! Before it was a constant desire to be liked and accepted by everyone I met, but now, I love myself so much, the way I should, that I know that I will only find the right people. The people that will love me for who I am as I am, and not just everyone who I meet. It's such a relief to feel this free from the constant struggle to fit in!

My 2012 resolution was to live with no regrets. That could have meant not waking up in the morning and regretting something I'd done, or not thinking about a moment I let slip by and regretting not taking it. And this has helped me to think through things more, and end up completely satisfied with the path I've been following. Maybe it's because I have finally moved back to Spain, something I've been focusing on and wanting for 2.5 years, but I know I am in the right place, doing the right thing.

I think a lot of my feeling so sure about myself and my choices has to do with the fact that they are good ones. I am becoming the person I think God wants me to be, and created me to be, and for that, He is assuring me more than ever before about who I am and where I'm going. I am choosing to be a good person, full of life, love, and happiness, and a person that shares that with other people. I am choosing to actively seek a life that is lived in closer connection to Him, and other people. I am choosing to give up my addiction to TV and technology, and trying to be perfect, and start living my life out in the world, rather than through a device or attempt. I have chosen to take the big leap of faith and move to another part of the world, all by myself, to test my faith, strengthen it, and discover who I really am.

I knew I needed to get away from everything I already knew and try something like this, but it has only just recently become clear to me just how badly I needed to get out and be bold with my life. It's been the most rewarding thing I could have hoped for, and it's only just begun. I believe in the experiences I have and the people I meet. I believe that they have been, like all the rest, hand selected just for me. My life is by design, and not mine, and until very recently, I wasn't okay accepting that. But now, to know that I don't have to worry, stress, or think too hard about any of it, is the most amazing feeling ever. I feel light and carefree like never before, like I can breath and live again!

This is just the tip of the iceberg on what's been going on in my life since the big move, but to prevent you from having to read a novel, I will break it all up. I should be moving into a flat of my own in the next week, and can start to write more frequently and post often! :) Until then, please consider doing something crazy and bold in your life. I can't explain so simply just how incredible it has been for my mentality and outlook, and I want everyone to experience the release that I have. There is so much you can do with your life, so never settle and just take something you think you deserve. You're worth so much more than you know or understand, and the impact you can have will never be known unless you break the mold and go out on a limb. End up where you are supposed to, not where you think you're supposed to because society and it's trend tells you so. But, if in your life, you are happy and content, then stay where you are, because you have found Atlantis. Just because this has been the way for me, doesn't mean it is for you. I only know that I couldn't find my inner peace, until I stirred the pot and destroyed all the peace I thought I knew. And as much as you can, make your own reality!

Blessings to all <3

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Start of The Rest of My Life

It's pretty hard to believe that the last three months (or the last two and a half years, depending how you look at it) have all been building up to this point right here and now... my departure and my return to Spain.

In less than 24 hours I will be in the air flying towards Chicago, where I will catch a flight to Madrid, and then fly onto Sevilla, the city that will become my new home for at least the next five months. I have been to Sevilla before, and know a few people there, but I do not have the friends there that I have in Northern Spain. I am going into this trip somewhat alone, only with the company of God and my thoughts to keep me entertained. I really am considering this trip to be the start of the rest of my life.

I graduated just over one year ago, took a couple months to diddle around and try to "figure it out," and then when I realized I was running out of money, decided it was time to take a path. After taking some interviews, I had jobs lined up at various places, and decided that I would accept one to become a Farmers Insurance agent. I was wanted in the Chico office, and interviewed in the Irvine office as well, because I wanted to move back down to SoCal. I was all set to start taking the classes and getting certified as an agent, when I walked back through the doors at the Disney/ABC Television Group and was offered a temporary job there. Fate!

The position I took was a 6-week job with the Communications Administration department (hires, rehires, office supplies and functionality, invoice processing and payment, and things of that sort -- the stuff that has to be done in order for the company to run and the people to get paid). The person I was filling in for was working in production for six weeks, so they needed a replacement for her replacement. Within a couple weeks being there, my boss approached me with another job opportunity in another department (Digital Internal Media aka Digital Internal Communications), which I accepted immediately. This job was to last until September, and had the potential to turn into a full-time position.

Well, September came around, and I found out the budget the department had been promised that would allow them to take me on as a full-time employee had been taken back by corporate. And so came the end of my days with DATG.

I applied for various jobs, interviewed for one, and was looking partial-heartedly for a new job in the company. I loved the people, and figured that since I am a total TV addict, I should be working in the industry. But I've never fancied myself as fitting in the corporate mold, so I didn't care to look too hard for ways to stay in it. It's fine for many, they enjoy it; they like the structure of it, the schedule and knowing what's next, working hard at something, and being a part of a bigger picture. I actually have a high level of respect for these people. They are hard workers, they are in a comfortable situation, and they have a direction. But I know many of them, and many of them are not there because they want to be, they are there because it's where they think they are supposed to be, or they have families to support, so it's where they have to be. But I cannot conform to all that, and I do not have the patience to work two years as an executive assistant, two years as a coordinator, and then hope to become a manager, director, vice president, and then an EVP. That's just not me.

I have always fancied being a person that stands out a bit. Not necessarily a person who is noticed, but a person who is different than the rest, so it is only natural that I would live a life off the beaten path. Maybe it's because I've grown up with a dad who's nature is comparable, and who always told me to "zig when they zag." Maybe it's because I have always felt inside of me that peace is achievable,  attainable, and necessary, and had the urge to make it happen. Maybe it' because I know without a reasonable doubt, that there is more out there, and that the life they want us to live, isn't the life that's best for us. Maybe it's because I want to make a difference, to help people, and change lives for the better. But more than that, maybe it's because I know I will and I can, and so I know it will be. Or maybe, it's everything combined. It's the person that God created me to be, and I'm not shying away from it, scared of it, or thinking it's not possible because society tells me it's not reality. I am going to make a change in this world, I am going to help as many people as I can to have a life with less suffering and more love! One by one I will affect people, I will show them love, I will remind them that there is good, great, and lovely in this place, and hope that the ripple affects will travel far and wide. I will get to know them, see their highs and their lows, figure out their deepest needs, and find creative ways to fill them.

I am 23-years old, and 22 hours away, from being on a plane, flying off into the distance, to go fulfill my destiny, and start the rest of my life. My mission, my life, my path, my goal, my journey... it all starts now.

My soul is fired up, geared up, and burning inside of me. I can feel the heat of my heart forcing its way to the surface of my chest and blazing out of it. I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in my life, where I will end up, who I will meet, what I will do, where I will go, what I will see, or how long it will last, but I know with absolute certainty, that it will be great.

YOU CAN DO WHATEVER IT IS IN THIS LIFE THAT YOU WANT! Do not let anyone tell you that it's not realistic or wise, because what is real to one person, might not be real to the next. We all live our own lives, and are blessed enough that they intersect, but just because they intersect, doesn't mean they are the same. We are one, but we are all on different journeys. Do not be afraid to break the mold and take the bold move to a different kind of life. You will never, ever, ever be let down or disappointed. You will be surprised, and you will find yourself living a life you never dreamed you could. Make it happen, make your own reality!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cozumel & The Tulum Mayan Ruins

One of the stops on the cruise was at the island of Cozumel, Mexico. We had nine hours at this stop, and our whole group had booked an excursion to go see the Tulum Mayan Ruins, so our time in Cozumel itself was limited to transportation on and off the ship. I did snap a few pictures of the part of the island in which we were docked tough. 

A place that appears at just about every cruise stop you go to is Fat Tuesday. One of the things I love about the Caribbean and Mexico is the fact they live a very colorful life. Homes, bar stools, shops, and everything else you can image are all painted in beautiful, vibrant colors. It is very different from the palates you see in housing communities here in the States, in which the Homeowners Association tells you which colors you can use to paint your house. 
 In order to get to the ruins, we had to take a 30 minute ferry ride to the mainland, and then a long bus ride. The photo above is of the dock we walked down to get into Cozumel, and onto the ferry.

My family and I are not fans of being "tourists." We enjoy seeings the main attractions, but we do not go to places so we can spend our time with other people speaking English and snapping pix. That's one of the problems with going on a cruise -- when you get off the ship at a stop, majority of the shops, restaurants, and other places to spend money are all owned by the cruise ships. They make a killing by owning the shops, and create an area that seems so full of life, that many don't even consider that they aren't getting an authentic experience. We refuse to spend all our time at a stop in the manufactured city, and often try to find a taxi driver to take us around wherever it is we are. In this case, we had booked the excursion to the ruins and the beach, so we had ourselves a touristy, but spectacular day.
 We got off the ferry in Playa del Carmen on the mainland, and went straight to the bus that would take us on our day of adventure. I have a heavy coconut obsession, and had to take some photos of da fresh cocos hanging. :)
 On our way to the ruins, we took a 30 minute stop at a gift shop. At first, I was a little annoyed that they pit-stopped us at such a tourist trap, but after just passing through the door, I realized how wonderful it really was. Everything I saw was artistic, detailed, well-made, and significant to the culture in some way. Obsidian, a precious stone that holds great importance to the Mayans, could be found everywhere. The shots above are of some of the items that caught my eye.
 The ruins were set in one of the most beautiful locations I've ever seen. The Mayans that decided to make camp there, were brilliant. It was absolutely amazing to stand there, knowing that a whole city once existed where we stood. The people of the Tulum Ruins were so blessed with the land they found. They farmed a lot, and enjoyed a community that was small. I just wish we'd been able to explore the insides of the buildings!
The final part of our excursion was a little trip to one of, if not the, most beautiful beaches I've ever seen in my entire life, El Paraiso. The sand was whiter than it appears in the photos, soft to the touch, and the water was so many shades of gorgeous. It may have been a great tourist spot, but my gosh, I could spend a week there, no problem! The beach is a private beach that is only open to guests of one of the hotels there, but because we were in an excursion group, we'd been granted permission to spend some time enjoying what it had to offer. 

In this area, they have worked incredibly hard to ensure that they preserve as much of the natural culture and lifestyle as they can. They do not allow hotels to have more than 15-20 rooms, and have not turned the beaches into horrifying sites of imported sand and shops as far as the eye can see. I have a great respect for how they have treated their land, and that they have not decided to take profits over proper cultural experiences. 
 The sand was so nice, that I took our moment there to really mesh with the earth, which turned into a sneak-attack photo moment for my sister. I highly suggest that you hug the earth and mesh with it as much as you can. I got the sand built in a way around me, that when I was hugging it, it felt as though it were hugging me back. Few things feel as good as showing her some respect, telling her thank you for letting us inhabit her, and letting her recharge you with her natural energy and power.
 Swings at a bar are never a bad thing.
 Now, you may think that this photo is really cute, exhibits love, and is a great candid, and you'd be right, but you'd also be missing information. This photo followed the sighting of a lifetime. 
I am a huge fan of watching people fall. Granted, I do get concerned when they hit their head or look like they've endured serious injury, but let's face it, watching people eat is is one of life's great pleasures. Here there were three females, probably around the age of 17, who decided to SPRINT from the sand into the water, and all but one had success. The other, she biffed HARD, face-to-sand, wet sand, and provided all who saw with a moment of pure laughter and "oh my gosh." The photo above captures my sister probably saying something about how awful the girl's fall was to my dad. 
And what sort of an end to a day's post would it be if I didn't conclude with a photo of the gorgeous sunset we saw over the ocean?

Overall, my experience was really great. Because we were on an excursion that had so many different components, we were kind of rushed all day, so I do feel like another trip to Tulum would be nice. I'd like to be able to really absorb the ruins and sit there and imagine what life was like when the Mayans were there. I am so glad to have been blessed with a chance to see some Mayan ruins, experience a beautiful beach, and learn some about the people and area. I'll have to return so I can really get a feel for Cozumel itself, but I am pleased with my experience and feel enhanced and wiser because of it.

Happy travels!

Looking Forward

My big move back to Spain is happening in just three days! Three days, THREE days, Three DAYS, THREE DAYS! Three, three, three! Ok, I'm done, I'm sorry, but I'm starting to feel the reality of it all aka freak-out-a-little-bit-when-I-think-about-it-too-much (like I clearly am right now).

I remember when I first found out my visa wasn't going to be ready in time for my November 9th flight and I had to reschedule my flight, leaving it for the 9th of January. That was a hard pill to swallow...semi-dreadful too. I remember thinking, "Oh my goodness, how am I going to survive two more months of living at home with nothing to do!?" I was going to be leaving the country, so there was no reason to look for a job, and I didn't really know what I wanted to get into while I was here, knowing I would be leaving so soon, so I kind of did nothing. (With the exception of hanging out with my grandma a couple times a week, which was awesome in many ways.) But, now, the time has come for me to pack up, ship out, and move forward.

And while the whole thought of moving to a city I've only briefly visited, essentially by myself, is incredibly frightening, it's also very appealing. It's exactly the kind of thing I envisioned myself doing -- going out and traveling a path traveled only by me, and letting my life happen according to nature and God's design. It's going to be the beginning of the rest of my life in a way, and I'm incredibly curious to see what happens. There's a lot to look forward to, but also a lot I will miss.

I've grown used to being with my family and being surrounded by them, and now I am going to embark on a journey all by myself. I will miss my friends and family so very much, and miss being in a familiar place where I know the in's and out's. I am entering unknown territory, but I'm strangely comfortable with that. But while there are many things I'm going to miss, there are also many things I'm looking forward to, like. . .

**Getting back out on my own, which means.... my diet is back under my control (which means my weight will also get under control). Living at home I have some control over what I'm eating, but because it's not just me on my own, I am subject to many things I normally don't buy for myself (ie. white rice and take out food). Also, as much as I adore hanging out with my grandma, eating out so many times a week is really taking its toll. I have gained 10 pounds in the last three months of being home, which is only five pounds less than I gained in the whole nine months I was abroad before. (Luckily I stared out 12 lbs. lighter than I was then, so I've really just gotten back to what used to be my standard weight.) Yikes. So I am absolutely looking forward to getting back into a cleaner-eating lifestyle. No white rice, no daily desserts, lots of small meals each day instead of two or three giant ones, and way more produce!

**Another big thing that I'm looking forward to about this year/move: NO TV! Weeellll, I probably shouldn't say no, but very little, and far less than in the last three months. The last time I was abroad, I didn't watch the television at all. We didn't have cable, I couldn't understand the programming, and what I could tell, it was not good. Of course there were the online movies or movies on computers that were watched, but the TV intake was incredibly minimal. Here, because 1,000 cable channels are available and I have very little to do, TV watching is at an all-time high. I am a total addict, and I'm looking forward to returning to a life without it. When I lived in L.A. I didn't have cable, and when I got home from work I would sew clothes, cut them up, design, and do other crafty things. No TV = better, more creative me. No more couch potato kicks off in THREE DAYS! 

**And then there are of course the things like, getting to know a new culture, enjoying a new part of the world, traveling, learning from other people and about other people, and returning to a life of travel, experience, and enhancement, which I will get into in a different post, because this one is getting a bit long, and those things I am so excited about, that they require more text than I'd give them right now.

I have always been number 13 in all the sports I've played for the last 12 years, so I know that 2013 is my year without a doubt! Some may think the number unlucky, but I'm quite pleased with my life and how I've performed in sports, so I have no fear. (Although I do hold certain other superstitions.) I can't wait to see what it brings, what happens, where my life goes, and how everything I've been manifesting comes to be reality. I hope you'll continue to join me on this journey, and please spread the word -- I'm hoping to snag a travel writing job somewhere along the way! :) 

Today's Thoughts: Go out there and do it! If you live in fear, you're probably not really living at all. Take chances, do things that scare you, and do not worry about what could go wrong, because there are so many things that could go right! 

~WE ARE ONE~ Listen, Love, & Never Judge ~ 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Glance of Galveston

As I mentioned in my last post, I went on a cruise with some family to celebrate Christmas this year. The trip went incredibly well, involved less family drama than one might expect, and also offered some unexpected bonuses. One of these little bonuses came in the form of Galveston, Texas. It was my first time ever being in Texas, and I am very pleased to say that I LOVED it!

I've met a few Texans before (shout-out to Miss Belle, my bestie Al, and Nat!), and really loved them, so I wasn't expecting anything less of the Texans I would encounter, or the Texas I would see along the way. I was expecting to see big hair, hear thick accents, and that everything that I'm used to seeing would be the same, but bigger. And I can assure you, everything really is bigger in Texas!

Even the water fountain was the highest I've ever seen! 

We flew into Houston and then took a cab to Galveston, where we would stay for the night and then board the ship the following afternoon. Because it was dark, it was hard to see what was around us, but we were able to see restaurants and stores during our drive, and this is when we realized the truth in that saying. Every store or restaurant that I am familiar with was so much bigger there. We couldn't believe how large the stores were and how much space everything took up. Granted, there's a lot of space, so why not build big, but my gosh! And while I know that Texas is a state with a coast line, it for some reason seems so strange to think of any part of Texas as being a beach town, which made for an incredibly pleasant surprise when we woke up the next morning and realized our hotel was across the street from the beach!

 The view from the hall window! :)

After breakfast, a quick work out, and prepping and packing all my stuff, I decided to hit Seawall Drive with a little walk and take some pictures of the part of Galveston that we were staying in. 

 The pier was calling my name, but time wasn't on my side.

Texas Beach Water!! I should have snagged some sand! 

I was so pleased to find out that Galveston really is just an adorable beach town. It had your typical, Bubba Gumps on the pier, a place called Fish Tails to get, obviously, some fresh seafood eats, surf shops, and other beachy stops. There were people of every sort walking around, some fishing on the end of a section of land that extended out into the water, and because it was about 77 degrees, the beach was scattered with people. Everyone that I came across was friendly and nice, and the atmosphere lent to deep breathing and happy thoughts. 

Unfortunately, we didn't have long to spend in Galveston, so the only old town experience I had was in the cab on the way to the port terminal, but overall, Galveston was a great experience. It's a place I would absolutely love to return to at some point and explore further. They had a severe hurricane hit them in 2006, but you would never even know it had been there from the looks of the place. 

Overall, great experience! I recommend a two-day trip to Galveston if Texas is on your "To Visit" list!

 The family at the port terminal before we boarded!

 Galveston from the deck of our room on the ship!

 My mom and Galveston

The Port of Galveston at dusk

The pier our hotel was near was visible from the port at night too!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Cruisin'

This past Christmas holiday was spent cruising part of the Caribbean with family. My parents, sister, and I were traveling for 12 straight days, on a trip that involved 14 different legs. The legs of our journey were as follows:

  1. Stockton to Bakersfield - spend one night at Gma and Gpa's place, drop off presents, and enjoy dinner together
  2. Bakersfield to Los Angeles - spend one night at the uncles' house so we can catch our flight out of Burbank the next morning
  3. Burbank to Las Vegas - first leg of our flight
  4. Las Vegas to Houston - Houston airport is closer to Galveston, where we were boarding the cruise
  5. Houston to Galveston - take a taxi to our hotel
  6. Galveston to Cozumel, Mexico - board the ship on Saturday, 21/12/2012, for our one week cruise with four other family members
  7. Cozumel to Roatan, Honduras - first stop on the cruise to the second
  8. Roatan to Belize City - second stop to the third and final
  9. Belize to Galveston - cruise back to the port
  10. Galveston to Houston 
  11. Houston to Phoenix (layover)
  12. Phoenix to Burbank
  13. Burbank to Bakersfield - spend two nights and celebrate Christmas
  14. Bakersfield to Stockton
On the drive from Stockton to Bako

 Houston at night by way of airplane

As you can see, there was a lot of travel involved. Including the miles we traveled within each stop on the cruise, I think that my family and I easily traveled about 5,500 miles during those 12 days. It's a bit funny to think about the fact that the last post I wrote was about how much I love to travel. I talked about why I love it and how it makes me think and feel. I've got to be honest though, by the end of this trip, I was so burnt out and ready to get home. It was quite an exhausting and wonderful time. Fulfilling, but tiring. I'm still on the mend from all the time changes and miles, but feeling that happy, enlightened and educated feeling that one can only obtain through travel. 

It was a lovely holiday, full of family, photos, and good memories. I am very grateful for this life I've been given, and look forward to life I have coming. This trip was a sneak peek into the life I want to live for many years to come, and while it is tiring, I know it will be very fulfilling.