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Do you ever look back at an old photograph and disassociate who you are now from who you were then? This image was taken when I first arrived in Charleston last March. I feel like a totally separate person from then.

Sure, we have the same interests but the last year has changed me. I’ve fallen in love with both the people around me and the city I live in. My heart has broken and healed. My view of art and expression has changed. How I interact with others is incredibly different from when I first arrived.

None of this is for better or worse, it just is. In ways, I feel like I was less tainted, or held down by the world. When I first got here, my main goal in life was to create. I blogged daily, I vlogged, I took photographs, and I explored everything around me.

As I prepare to leave again, I can’t help but miss the old me. The one who drove downtown and ate at restaurants alone. Who’s purpose in life was to be enthusiastic, and filled with joy. Who knows where he’s gone to now. All I have left is this photograph of him.

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The First Quarter of 2015 (5/365)

For the last three weeks, I’ve been trying to find an outlet for what I’ve been feeling. My life has rapidly changed since the beginning of the year and I’m at loss on how to describe it. Occasionally writing helps, so bear with me, this is going to be a vent/rant/sloppy mess of a blog post.

The year started off on a high note with an unexpected friendship. I grew close to a guy very rapidly and spent the first couple months talking to him. Most of my days were spent texting or being around him.

Work calmed down and I started getting requests to photograph events. Promotion and retirement ceremonies became commonplace. Larger events started taking place at work and I was requested to photograph them as well.

My attention was spread between the guy and the events I was photographing. In my free time, I struggled to focus on my own interests because I was so busy texting or coordinating with other people about the pictures. In attempt to relax, I tried getting back into video games and TV.

Instead of loosening up, I only distracted myself. The way I relax is through creating, photographing, blogging, and exploring. Watching TV only diverts my attention from doing what I love.

The last weekend in February I was incredibly stressed out. I photographed for a large event and people were pressuring me for the images. The guy I was talking to just had a family member pass, so I was giving him space. On top of that, work was starting to get busy again.

One night I texted the guy asking if he was alright. He had been quiet for a few days. I told him if he wanted someone to talk to I was there for him. He replied saying that he had been seeing someone lately and that he could see dating the new guy. When I asked why he didn’t tell me before, he said that we hadn’t talked much in the last week. He considered us more of ‘friends’.

The next day I got an email from work saying that they were going to have me move. In the military, it’s common to be reassigned to a different base – especially in your first contract. The place they decided to send me? Hickam, Hawaii.

Between getting jilted and the news that I was going to be moving, I didn’t sleep. For hours, I laid in bed with my mind swirling. I didn’t know where things were going with the guy but I didn’t expect it to stop so suddenly.

When you spend a large amount of your free time talking to someone and then they leave, it feels like there’s a hole in you. We weren’t romantic. I didn’t really entertain the idea of dating this guy. But we spent so much time talking, that when we stopped, I felt like I didn’t have anyone to talk to.

With the stress at work, the additional load of photographing events, this guy, and Hawaii, I didn’t know how to feel. Initially I rejected most of it. At work I sunk into a quiet depression. There was too much empty time; I couldn’t distract myself from my thoughts. My love of photography turned into a frustration. It stopped being art and became more stress on my back.

I could have denied Hawaii. Staying in Charleston for the next two years sounded like a good idea. The time would go by quickly and I could move to some other part of the country.

However, my feelings for this guy had turned into a bitter affection. I wanted some sort of resolution with him but there wasn’t anything left to say. He made his move. I started to analyze what we had texted each other. Was I wrong? Did I say something? In my head I obsessed over finding a solution. Maybe it was me. After all, I didn’t clarify our friendship into a relationship. I felt like it was my fault. Leaving for Hawaii meant abandoning the possibility of finding a resolution.

The next week I decided that moving would be a good decision. It became clear that there wasn’t going to be a smooth ending. There wasn’t anything left that I could do. He started dating another guy and didn’t even apologize about the confusion. Moving suddenly became an escape rope and a chance to start over in a new city.

One week after the guy and I split, an old friend talked to me. We were up all night hanging out like we usually did. Towards the end we laid out on his bed listening to music. It had been a long year for us in Charleston. We both were exhausted.

Conversation between us slowed and music enveloped his room. There were gaps where we’d have a few minutes without saying a word to each other. After a particularly long pause, he told me that he had something to say. My hand was across his chest at this point. His heartbeat was picking up but still there was silence.

After a few minutes, he told me about how he liked me. Leaving was going to be hard on both of us. It was rougher than either of us imagined. We spent the following week close together.

All these emotions slewed around in my head. The creative outlets like blogging and photographing were so distant. My friends felt far away. Being suddenly abandoned disoriented me. Hawaii destroyed any expectations I had for the future. This guy made me feel like I was on top the world.

This has been the first quarter of 2015. I don’t know where the rest of the year will take me. I’m caught between terrified and excited. Leaving friends here is going to be difficult, making new ones won’t be easy, and moving to the middle of the ocean is definitely a change. No matter what happens though, the rest of the year will certainly be interesting.

Anyways, this has become longer than it needs to be. I’m sorry for the rant. Have a good night/morning/day, wherever you are!

On a side note, both my cousin Tabitha and my mother Wendy have started blogging today. So before you leave, be sure to check them out! I’m so proud of them!

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Day of Happy

Today’s post is inspired by Joel Robison‘s 100 days of happy project on Instagram! He just completed it last Wednesday! For this project, you take a photo of what you’re happy about in life for 100 days. While I’d love to participate in the project, I’m juggling this 365 project with work. Instead I’ve decided to blog today about things I’m happy about in my life!

A few months ago I bought Brooke Shaden‘s book “Inspiration in Photography” but I’m just starting to read it now! It’s so exciting to see an artist that I’ve watched grow on Flickr publish a book. It’s beautiful and I definitely recommend it!

After a couple weeks of procrastinating, I finally pinned maps onto the wall! It’s starting to feel homey in here!

With a gift card I received from my aunt for my birthday, I purchased Amanda Palmer’s upcoming book “The Art of Asking”. She’s a wonderful human-being and her music is fantastic. It’s incredible that she’s finally releasing a book!

Finally, Bath’s entire album “Obsidian” is incredible. I think I listened through this album 3 times today because I love it so much! Seriously Baths is an incredible artist!
Those are today’s moments of “happy” or “appreciation”. Maybe in the future, after this 365 project, I’ll do a #100daysofhappy or something! It’s a wonderful project and I encourage you to check out the tag on Instagram!

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11/31 Blogtober

P.S. Still happy about this:

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Moving On

Tonight I moved both physically and figuratively. I was assigned a new room, so I’ve been moving my things to another building. But I’ve also been moving figuratively to a new chapter of my life. I don’t know what it means or how my life will be different but I can feel it. I’m moving on in some way.

These last few months I’ve felt different, maybe more independent psychologically. Ironically I’ve been incredibly physically dependent on others since my car died. People offer rides and I’m at the mercy of whatever my friends are doing for the weekend. If no one is doing anything, I have to stay home.

However, I’ve gained a new sense of independence. I’ve spent a lot more time reading and I feel like I’m gaining understanding. Being trapped at home has lead me to focus on inner growth and discovery. I spend more time meditating and less time idly wandering around.

Moving dorms seems to be a large event in my head. It’s a shift between who I am now and the future. I don’t know why but it feels enormous. The independence and dependence have been swirling around in my mind and now a storm is arriving. It’s hot and cold air that, together, form something monstrous. Right now I just feel the wind but I can taste the storm on my tongue.

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Look Around

Moving to a new place gives a fresh view on life and a new invigoration. In the first few weeks after moving to a new location, you have to absorb the world around you. From the way you get to work to the nearby supermarkets, and from the culture of the city to finding what places you want to explore. When I first moved to Charleston, I couldn’t help but look around.

It’s easy to spot a new person or someone who is not from your city because they move their heads. They look around to see what’s going on. Instead of staring forward, they look at the size of the buildings and the restaurants as they pass by. New people do not keep their heads down, there’s too much to see!

In those first weeks, I think people are more authentic. They don’t know the area and they don’t have a reason to please others. When you talk to them, they are more present. They are more involved in their environment and easier to talk to.

As time goes on, we learn to look forward. We already know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there, so we go on autopilot. If we know where we’re going, we can just sit in our heads. We’re not going to get lost. So we can think about what we’re going to do today or how work was. We lose touch with the moment.

In today’s culture, this is even easier. We can pull out our phones and just sit on Facebook. When we’re sitting on the subway or the bus to work, we don’t look around. We think we already have experienced the subway and there’s no reason to look for anything new.

There’s something to be learned from those initial moments after you move to a new place. When you’re look around, you’re more involved with the world. By interacting, you are living life. Sitting in your head or spending all day thinking is not living. It’s just thinking. In your daily life, start to notice how much you look around. Do you spend all day looking forward or do you openly explore your environments?

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Flow between Happiness and Sadness

For the last week I’ve been unable to contain my happiness. I feel like a glass just bubbling over with the stuff. The funny thing is that there isn’t one particular thing in my life that’s making me happy. I just feel content with everything and the happiness has followed. The best thing about this feeling is that when I encounter adversity or something that usually would make me sad, I feel like I overcome it easily.

Take this weekend for example: I’m going to be working two 12-hour shifts that eat up my weekend. Two weeks ago I was dreading this weekend but as I’ve become more content it’s worn away. Usually when you dread an event you ruminate in it and it gets progressively worse until you get passed it. The opposite seems to be happening right now: the closer I get to it, the less I worry about it.

It’s been written about before on this blog but I wanted to write about it again. I used to think  unhappiness was the degree to which we were aware of a lack of happiness. I thought it was when a person questioned their own happiness and realized that they weren’t as happy as they could be. I no longer believe this.

I think happiness is the degree to which we are living our lives. When we feel alive we also tend to feel happy. When I notice what it’s like to feel my feet press against the ground, I feel alive. When I’m walking and I can feel the sun or the cold, I feel alive. These moments themselves don’t bring me happiness but the accumulation of them brings contentment. Feeling at peace with everything creates a sort of calm undertone in my life which is a root for my happiness.

This root grows into a tree when I start sharing it with other people. I start smiling and my smiling makes other people smile which makes me smile even more.

Osho’s dynamic meditation is definitely weird – singing, jumping, and all sorts of other crazy things. However, I’ve learned something from it. The second part of the meditation is where you let your body express itself freely. For ten minutes if you need to kick, scream, flail, or anything, you do it. When I do this part of the meditation my body goes back and forth between laughing and crying. I feel compelled to laugh and smile like life is flowering through me. Then I’ll feel the need to shrink down and sob.

It sounds a little crazy at first but I don’t see happiness and sadness as far away from each other anymore. Maybe my happiness stems from an appreciation of what I have – whether that be good or bad. I undoubtedly will feel depressed again and this feeling will fade but I wanted to write about the importance of awareness. Having that base of contentment builds the foundation for happiness in myself.

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing as long as I feel alive. When I feel alive I can’t help but feel happy. Life is something worth experiencing and I hope that you find happiness as well! Nameste!

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Become Intimate with Your Fears

Lately I’ve been reading a lot from “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. It’s a rather small book that seems almost too small to be significant. The book almost feels like it’s an older novel in size. This contrasts with how big the ideas are inside.

Pema came to my life when I needed her the most; amid the mental crisis of moving to a new place and hitting the restart button on most of my routines. There is excitement in going to a new place, but, for me, there is also the fear that I may not like what I’m stuck with.

When I was flying from Minneapolis to Charleston, I began reading. The way that everything is explained goes much more than typical Eastern philosophy. Sometimes you get those books where you have to interpret what the author is try to say because they don’t have English grammar down. Pema doesn’t have that problem at all! All of her examples are totally applicable too!

Basically “When Things Fall Apart” is a self-explaining name. The book is about crisis and when we react to those crisis rather than respond. Inside, Pema explains how fear is something that shows you that you’re alive and progressing. It’s something to become intimate with and understand.

Part of my struggle, and what I believe a lot of other people face, is that when we face the unknown, many of us become subdued. We climb into our shells and retract from the world. Pema explains that through fear, we can realize a lot about ourselves. We can look and see what we are attached to. We can see that we are attached to much more than we think.

Over time, we can release this fear of losing what we think we have, and we can accept fear as an emotion. So much of what we fear is illogical or creates unnecessary suffering for us. By paying attention to our fears and our worries, we can move past them.

Each time I’ve gone somewhere new in the last year (I’ve moved 4 times around the country), I’ve been afraid of the unknown. When I’m about to move, I become gloomy and act as if everything around me is coming to an end. Especially when I moved to north Texas. This fear destroyed the pleasure of getting to know a new place, and enjoying my last days in Mississippi with my friends.

By realizing this is cyclical, I can become intimate with that fear. Realizing that growth doesn’t happen without change. Fear and worrying go hand in hand; by worrying about moving and leaving things behind, I fear what I will experience in the new place. By fearing what I will experience, I worry about things that may never happen.

The silly thing is that fear is of itself. Let me explain. Fearing fear is another great fear. We realize that we are afraid and it amplifies itself. That fear compounds and becomes much more simply because we have a bad relationship with fear. We are afraid of being afraid.

That is exactly what “When Things Fall Apart” is about. Changing that, and realizing that fear is nothing to be afraid of. The cycle of fear is becoming afraid of something, then becoming more afraid because you are afraid.

Become intimate with your fear and when you are afraid, acknowledge it. Realize that you fear something and accept it. Don’t try and fight it or reject it. Simply think about the feeling of being afraid and why you are afraid. Your fear may not dissolve but you will stop being afraid of being afraid. Learn to be intimate with your fears!

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