makethislast

a love meditation

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on October 29, 2009

May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.

May he/she be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.

May they be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.

 

May I be safe and free from injury.

May he/she be safe and free from injury.

May they be safe and free from injury.

 

May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.

May he/she be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.

May they be free from anger, afflictions, fear, and anxiety.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Teachings on Love

October’s been a particularly difficult month for me so I’d like to wrap it up on a positive note.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master and peacemaker. I’ve seen his name appear on a few separate occasions, sometimes accompanied by his work and others simply as reference. I forget how I came across this specific title of his but I’m enjoying the book. When I read the meditation above, I felt myself internalizing its words. I read and re-read it a few times before posting here.

Hanh says to practice this meditation first on yourself (“I”) and then on others (“he/she” and “they”). I think this struck me on such a personal level because this is exactly what I’ve been grappling with recently. How does one let go and…and…and…(what am I trying to say here?)…be free?

Start by looking inside oneself. Dig deep. Locate and eliminate any and all negativity – emotionally, mentally, and physically. No good comes from it festering in the dark. Now bring it outside towards the light. Lay it out on the grass. Bathe yourself in the warmth of the sun. The most liberating part is next.

Ready?

Set.

Let go.

Live your life.

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say a lil’ prayer

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on October 29, 2009

Religion and spirituality have been on my mind a lot.

I was raised under Buddhist beliefs. My family went to temple and we prayed to our ancestors. That was part of my culture. I was raised to obey my parents and elders, study hard in school, treat people fairly, and help those less fortunate.  I thought a lot of my values resonated with the fundamentals of shared beliefs.

I grew up in a single-parent household. My mother gave me and my brother everything she could. She taught us to dream big and that anything is possible so long as one is willing to work hard. She also taught us not to judge people by their imperfections, rather inspire them to be better. People can learn from their mistakes and overcome their adversities. She practiced what she preached.

Over the years, opportunities have allowed me to travel around the world, live in different places, and meet many interesting people. Whenever there have been hardships, I’ve been fortunate enough to extend my support network across borders. In those instances, I placed my faith on tangible items: technology – thank you Skype, internet, cell phones, postal service, and any other communication medium available! – and those located on the other side of technology – people.

Up to this point, I haven’t considered myself especially religious as a whole. I tend to believe in what’s tangible – people, actions, data, anything that’s measurable.

On the flip side…

I believe in a God. I believe there is a higher, more spiritual power. As my Buddhist mother says, “The sky has eyes.” Trust in what you can’t see but can feel beating inside your heart.

Prayer and meditation – some say prayer is the act of talking to or asking for something of God while meditation is the act of listening to God speak.

I’m intimidated by prayer. I am a planner by nature. Life does not always play out the way I anticipate, but planning calms my nerves. Sometimes. Othertimes my tendency to control boils over into chaos. Not good. Meditation is also difficult for me because it requires sitting still and consciously breathing without any distractions. I want to work on these two acts of divine communion. I am responsible for no one else and I want to achieve peace within myself.

I look forward to Morocco. Where else better to learn about prayer (and  praying) than in a country where people pray five times a day (dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening).

Faith and forgiveness. I want to improve on these two as well.

I want to communicate my hopes and aspirations without imposing them on others. I look out and see endless possibilities, but I’ve learned not everyone sees the same bright horizon I do. Not everyone walks the same pace. I stumble too, so I will stand alongside them rather than push them forward. I will provide encouragement when they hesitate. Finally, when the moment’s right, I will take a step forward with each step they take. I will practice patience.

Forgiveness – the ability to forgive – is my toughest lesson right now. I believe some acts are forgivable while others are irreversible. But really, whose place is it to judge? Surely, not mine. I try to learn from the mistakes I make, big and small, to become a better person. Here’s the struggle I’m currently facing:

When does forgiveness happen? Is it when person A asks person B for forgiveness? Or does person B grant forgiveness independently of what person A does (or does not) do? Does person A need to know s/he has been forgiven in order for forgiveness to occur? I mean, I know it’s possible to forgive someone. I’ve hurt people, both knowingly and unknowingly, in the past and I’m always grateful when they forgave me. I’ve forgiven before and I know I will forgive again, so that means I’m capable of forgiveness. What happens after forgiveness?

You realize everyone has their imperfections. You believe that people are inherently good and aspire to be better. You move forward, stronger and better than before.

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pick cherries not crumbs

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on October 24, 2009

With every action, there is an outcome. The outcome sets the stage for the next action for which there is another outcome and so forth.

The days inch closer to my DC departure date. Every now and again, I find myself stepping out of my life to observe the past, present, and future. Perhaps this will become a theme in the days ahead.

I’m lucky to have many friends. I’m luckier to have friends who I admire. They inspire me to reach beyond my comfort zone. They encourage me to dream big because anything is possible. If I’m willing to work hard for my goals, I will succeed and accomplish my goals. The hard work ethic applies to both personal and professional endeavors.

Don’t settle. Don’t accept the status quo. If you encounter a setback, evaluate the situation and make it work for you. Discover the lessons and allow them to help you grow into the person you aspire to be. Crumbs are things within easy reach – the pieces that will temporarily satisfy you. They are the things that most people accept. On the other hand, cherries are jackpots – the large rewards with few recipients. They are available only to those individuals willing to extend their arms and reach when most others throw their hands up in defeat.

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people during a transition

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on October 20, 2009

Do your best with what’s in front of you and leave the rest to the powers above you.

– Quote courtesy of Marc and Angel Hack Life.

During this transition process, some events have occurred way too quickly while others don’t come soon enough. A handful have even jolted me by surprise. I’m adjusting to the transition process (ha, the irony!) and, with the help of some friends, using this time to better understand people, sort of.

Friends and acquaintances are learning about my decision to join the Peace Corps. I’m leaving DC in December, living in California for two months, and moving to Morocco in March. I will serve there for 27 months (3 months of training, 2 years of service). What are their reactions?

By the way, this post is peppered with cliches. You’ve been warned, so here we go!

Congrats and come back!

(Okay, this isn’t a cliche. Actually, I googled the phrase and apparently no one’s said it (enough) for it to be searched for. The furthest I got was “Congrats and” before google stopped trying to suggest what I was searching for.)

By far, this has been the most overwhelming response. This mostly comes from friends I made since moving to DC. Most people are excited for and supportive of me. They think it’s bold and risky, and they want to hear about the experience. Majority of RPCVs who I’ve met wish they could relive their service again or, obligations withstanding, embark on another tour. They (re)assure me my scared and nervous excitement is part of the journey.

Where there’s a will there’s a way.

This one comes from a mid-size group consisting mostly of friends since college and a few exceptional ones since high school. Surprised but not startled, my friends tell me, “I knew you’d do it,” as if, naturally, this is my next step. They know I want to help people and that this is something I’ve wanted to do since I was sixteen.

Over the years, these friends have always supported and encouraged my desire to expand my horizons.This time is no different – they are excited for me.  To this day, I am most grateful for their friendship. They provide a familiar comfort by way of an unspoken assurance of my return.

Grass is always greener on the other side.

Or not. My experiences have been unique but I always return. I come back to the people who know me best and stand by me with each forward step I take. Neither the distance nor amount of time away disintegrates these relationships.  I think my experiences enrich them.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Grass is not always greener on the other side. Rather, grass grows green in the places you’re willing to plant seeds, water the ground, and sustain with care and support. I consider myself lucky to have certain people in my life. I am willing to do the work because my friendships are invaluable to me.

Time heals all wounds.

One person’s response has reverberated the deepest even if it has not rang the loudest. It came from a someone who I considered especially close to me at one time. When faced with a transition that would be stressful, the person chose to take flight instead of fight. The reaction was not characteristic of the person’s behavior, which is usually logical and rational, and that made it all the more difficult to understand. As a result, I was left confused.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Fortunately, some time has passed and with the help of good friends – see, I told you I’m grateful for them! – I’ve gained a new perspective. I think I understand the person and situation so much better now.

Friendship is a mutually open two-way street. I’m a loyal, honest, and truthful friend; these are the qualities I ask for in return.  My greatest friends are the people who have been in my life for years. They are nonjudgemental and supportive. Best of all, they understand my long-term goals, even when I lose sight of them from time to time. (*Note to self: resume monthly projections.)

Carpe diem!

My friends are absolutely right: I have so much to look forward to in the months ahead. I will meet some of the most interesting people, some of whom will have traveled to the most amazing places. The world will be at my doorstep. I will travel across the world yet again!

My excitement is back, ya’lls, so much so that it’s bubbling over the top. I’m heading into the future and I hope you’ll stay along for the ride. The path won’t always be easy but you can be certain it’ll be full of  adventures.

Thank you in advance, everyone, for your support. 🙂

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scared nervous excited

Posted in Uncategorized by Diana on October 6, 2009

Today marks a turning point, or rather, I dare say, a tipping point.

I booked my one-way ticket to California.  I decided to get rid of my possessions and made it public information. The buzz around the office about my departure has made its way back to me.

Peace Corps’ reading material has left me full of emotions.

I am scared. I read and read and read about the “Peace Corps experience.” I read blogs. I read books. I read anything I could get my hands on. No matter how much I digest, I know I won’t have first-hand knowledge of the experience until I experience it on the ground. I’m scared I won’t make an impact because I so desperately want to leave one. I realize it took me between six months to a year before I felt good at my job and then was able to add on subsequent projects. How long will it take me to adjust to the culture and understand my community overseas? I understand each person’s PCV experience is unique – what will be mine?

I am nervous. This marks a new chapter in my life. How will the pages be filled? What anecdotes will there be? How will I pack everything into two suitcases?

I am excited. I look forward to being in Southern California for a couple months. I can’t wait to spend the holidays (Christmas, New Years, my birthday) with my family and friends. I will eat for two straight months – mom’s home cooking, authentic Mexican food (Michoacan anyone?), Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, In and Out! I can’t wait to not pay rent!

I’m happy with who I’ve become in the last 2-3 years. I am a stronger person. I might’ve stumbled a couple times but I picked myself up and kept going each time. I realized who and what are important to me. I pushed my own limits and grew into a more knowledgeable person. I worked hard. I learned a tremendous amount. I’m fortunate to have been mentored (knowingly or not) by some of the most brilliant people. Finally, I realized that if I want to succeed, first and foremost, I need to have an honest relationship with myself. That’s the relationship I’ve been working hardest on since arriving in DC. It’s nowhere near perfect, but it’s improved a tremendous amount and getting richer each day.

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