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January 24, 2012 / Kalehli

How Do You Know?

One of my pet peeves is when someone says to you, “I know how you feel” or “I know what you’re going through.”

How, I wonder, do they know what someone else is feeling? It’s not their life that the person is living, it is their own.

Two people could walk down the street. Both have just gotten a new job in their field, and both are thrilled. But their happiness is not identical! Imagine that the first person is a recent college graduate, living in a tiny apartment and surviving on ramen. Now imagine that the second person is an experience professional with years under her belt in her career; this new job is just another step towards her overall goal.

Their happiness is not the same.

The college student is (in this scenario) ecstatic that she’s found a job that doesn’t involve waiting tables or making coffee. She’s relieved that she’ll be able to pay her rent on time. And looking forward to the luxury of having dinner at the greasy spoon diner, the one with the flickering neon sign, down the street. She’s finally able to make a stand as someone who matters and has a voice. Her education has been justified and her future finally looks brighter than the dingy apartment complexes that she’s been surviving in.

The experienced professional is excited to begin a new job with new opportunities. She’s given her two weeks notice at the job that she’s leaving for this one and her apartment is a brightly lit and comfortable home. She still rents because she’s always looking for the big-ticket job that will rocket her to a senior position in a company. She is comfortable in her life and well aware of where she is going.

This is just an example of how no two situations, no matter how similar, are alike. Yes, there are situations that can be compared more closely, but nothing is exactly the same because everything is dependent on the person’s experiences.

And yet people still offer up (sometime unsolicited) advice about a situation that they’re removed from. That they can’t truly understand. People are happy to tell you what to do, it’s human nature to meddle after all. The worst offenders are those who are happy to offer up relationship advice. Everyone is guilty of it. I am too.

It’s easy to see a situation from the outside and say to yourself, or others, “if that was me I’d ______.” But you’re not inside the situation. You don’t know the history or the experiences of each individual that affects the relationship. You only know what you see. You’re just someone walking by a house and looking in the window and catching a glimpse of what has happened.

It’s especially easy, in view of what may seem like a hopeless situation, to tell your friend to move on and forget about the other person. If it’s just some person they met at the bar it’s a lot easier for them to agree with you than if you’re telling them to forget someone who they have months or years of history with. By that point there has been an impact on their life, they have made choices for or regarding that person that directs them one way or another.

It’s also a lot easier to make a decision for someone, since you probably won’t be directly affected by it. It’s easier to say that someone or something is bad, when you haven’t seen the good.

It’s easy to warn a friend away from someone, even in genuine concern, when you are just a third-party. It’s easy to tell a friend not to fall in love with someone when you’re not the one falling.

So no matter how much a person thinks that they can sympathize with you, their experiences–no matter how similar– have given them a different outlook on the situation at hand.

In the end, the only person who can decide what is right or wrong is you. You can take the advice of other if you choose, follow it or disregard it… that is your choice. No one can make a decision for you, nor should they.

No matter how difficult or easy, confusing or clear, painful or painless, the choice is yours because you are the one who has to live with your decision in the end.

January 18, 2012 / Kalehli

Be Selfish… Put Yourself First…

Henry Ward Beecher says, “Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without himself.” and William E. Gladstone said that “Selfishness is the greatest curse of the human race.”

I don’t disagree with them, but I think that, sometimes it’s OK to be selfish.

No, really. It is.

Humans are hardwired to survive. It’s built into our genetic makeup. It’s a natural instinct to consider ourselves first, and the rare person who thinks first of others. This is a difficult idea for anyone who first tries to ensure the happiness of others.

As someone who is a self-realized people pleaser, I know how difficult it is to make a decision that has the potential to hurt even one person. However, in some situations it can be unavoidable. This is especially true when you’re faced with a difficult choice, one in which there are people pulling for one outcome over another.

If this is a situation in which your future, or your own happiness, is at stake; it is at that moment imperative to make the selfish choice.

Instead of weighing what each person has to say, take a moment and consider what will make you happy. Because it is you that has to live with the decision. While that can seem like having the weight of the world on your shoulders… it’s not.

If you make a choice because you think it’s the answer that someone wants to hear, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

Sometime decisions are easy to make and sometimes they’re not.

“What’s called a difficult decision is a difficult decision because either way you go there are penalties.” (attributed to Elia Kazan)

That is so true. No matter what, there will be consequences. The question that you have to answer (and it has to be you, it can’t be anyone else) is which outcome will make you the happiest. The knowledge that your choice could cause another pain is not a pleasant thought.

As Westley says in The Princess Bride, “Life is pain… anyone who says otherwise is selling something.”

If life is pain, take what happiness you can and hold onto it. No matter how selfish it may seem.

And no matter what… appreciate what you already have.

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“If you love two people at the same time, choose the second one, because if you really loved the first one you wouldnt have fallen for the second.”
January 5, 2012 / Kalehli

Starting Over…

As you may have noticed, I disappeared off the face of the earth for what ended up being all of fall semester. Oops. I’m hoping that this time around I’ll have more opportunities to keep this going on a regular basis. For one, I have developed (what will be) a detrimental habit of staying up until all hours of the night and wait for the sun rising to tell me to go to bed. No… I’m not a vampire. I promise.

So, new plan: When the inspiration strikes, I will write about whatever it is and try to throw an insightful, relevant-to-life light on the subject.

Like this quote: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

Like the title may suggest, this post is about starting over. A lot of things have changed since my last post in July (really?! That long… I am a horrible blogger!) and I’m noticing them as I go back through my profile on here to edit it. Some of those changes are somewhat painful to notice.

I am once again pursuing a four-year degree instead of trying to kill myself by cutting out the fourth year in an accelerated degree. The degree is still Journalism and I’ve decided to pursue Magazine Journalism after my fall News Reporting class. (As a result of that class I got two articles published in the local papers!)

I am now an officer in the Honors Congress at my university and am developing new goals and ambitions to go along with these two changes. Executive Board 2013? I think so!

I’m starting this year out single. The guy that I was dating at this time last year is no more. We went our separate ways in October after almost a year. So now I’m starting 2012 out on my own two feet; a little jaded but still a romantic at heart.

I have not one, but two jobs. One as a tour guide at my school and the other as a waitress at the sports bar on campus.

I’ve made, and lost, friends in the past  year. No matter how sad it is to lose touch with friends, there is always good memories to remember them with and the feeling of discovery as you make new friends can help to disguise the hurt.

One of my best friends is getting married in a year and has asked me to be her Maid of Honor (bring on the bridal magazines, questionable bridesmaid dresses, and a whole lot of teal!).

These are all just changes that I’ve thought of off the top of my head and as I was writing them down I was thinking about the quote. It really is true, you don’t find who you are, you have to create it. The important changes in my life are because I took the initiative to go and get those opportunities. I ran for office, I applied for those jobs, I decided what I wanted to do with my life. I’m creating the path my life will take as I go.

I’m not hunting under rocks trying to find myself, I’m creating myself as I go. Yes, I’m learning a lot about myself in the process, but that can only serve to direct me; act as a compass.

I don’t believe that we all have a predetermined route to take in our lives, if that were the case then we would have to find ourselves. But our lives are up to our own interpretation and the path we will take is up to us.

It is the choices that we make that will decide who we become, not the things in our lives that are handed to us. Those are a result of who we are.

So this year, I still have no resolutions, just a determination to make the best of the year and not only accept what I am given, but to take what I want from life and get myself started on the right track for the future.

Yes, it’s time to create myself.

January 3, 2012 / Kalehli

It’s The Final Countdown…

Admit it.

That song is now running through your head on repeat… 

According to the Mayans… and those who belief that the calender warns about the end of the world (and not just that they ran out of room!), 2012 is leading up to the end of the world.

Mostly, it’s just a joke to many people.. still it brings attention to the thought that life is fleeting.

The beginning of each year leads to lists of resolutions, packed gyms and running paths, a few weeks of healthier eating, and good intentions.

I took a different approach this year. I decided not to make a list of resolutions that will soon be broken or forgotten. Instead I decided to just try to make the best of 2012. No lists. No promises. Just the plan to take life a day at a time and see what life hands me.

The first of the year is viewed as a new start. A time to make improvements. To right wrongs.

Why wait? Why wait for a specific date to turn your life around? Just start.

People always say that they’ll do something tomorrow, next week, next month, after their birthday, after Christmas, etc. I procrastinate just as much as the next person, I’m aware of it and I admit it freely. For me, having a list of resolutions just gives me more things to procrastinate about. I hope that just deciding to try to do better in all aspects will lead to success.

Maybe if people just decided to take life with all the ups and downs and be thankful for what they have, instead of wishing that they had more or better, everyone would be a little happier.

So at the beginning of this year, the year the “world will end,” I think it’s time to take a step back and just enjoy the year. No worrying about certain points that could be improved upon, just make an effort to be better. Period.

July 26, 2011 / Kalehli

Friends With Benefits

One night stands. Hook ups. Casual encounters. Friends with benefits. Our society has become extremely sexualized to the point where sex has become a normal interaction. It’s gone from something private and special between two individuals to an act that is almost becoming currency in today’s society. In the dating world women are advised to wait until the third date to sleep with their suitor, but it is not uncommon for the first date to be enough to decide that the other person is worth sleeping with.

WHAT?!

Call me a romantic, but sex is something between two people that know and trust each other. One or three dates is not enough to know or trust each other. While I am all for thinking the best of people, deciding that you want to bare all for someone you’ve just met and texted, emailed, and Facebook stalked a few weeks before strikes me as crazy.

The movie Friends With Benefits showcased this societal shift. I’m not saying that it was a terrible movie because of the message it presented, I liked the movie very much. It was an enjoyable way to spend an evening with friends, cracking inappropriate jokes through the whole thing, and referencing inside jokes. It was a funny movie and the actor’s had good chemistry together; some parts of it were also bittersweet, (HERE BE SPOILERS) such as Dylan’s (Justin Timberlake) father with his Alzheimer’s and Dylan’s struggle with that, as well as Jamie (Mila Kunis) and her flighty mother’s eccentric relationship.

Although the movie was a romantic comedy and the focus was on the two friends with benefits the scene that I found the most touching and poignant was when Dylan and his father are sitting in the airport and his father takes off his pants and sits down and asks if Dylan is going to join him; and Dylan, who has struggled with what he views as his father’s embarrassing behavior, smiles and says yes as he also removes his pants and takes a seat. Although it is a small part of the movie and the conversation that follows is the part important to the plot, I thought that small moment was the kind of relationship that we should strive for (NO MORE SPOILERS).

That moment of love and solidarity carries a greater lesson than the thought that sex must come before love can follow. Love is not about sex, or because of sex, love is when you will do something for someone without any thought for yourself. And that love is universal. It is not only for boyfriends and girlfriends or spouses. It is for family too, for mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, and significant others. Love is not what you feel after dinner and a movie, no matter how secure you feel or what society has told you.

Again, I say that I am a romantic, and feel free to agree or disagree, but until you can be comfortable with yourself and your significant other and your relationship… some things are just better left a mystery.

 

July 21, 2011 / Kalehli

Wednesday Whimsies: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…

Human curiosity is something that has gotten our race from rubbing sticks together to leaving footprints on the moon.

There are many different children’s lullabies and songs, but Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is my favorite because it references this curiosity:

“Twinkle twinkle little star,

How I wonder what you are.”

Wonder is an amazing thing, it caused Ancient Egyptians to develop a complicated system of gods and goddesses to explain why the sun rises and sets, why the river flows, and many other things. It sent explorers out from their homes to see what else was out there, and it is, for all intents and purposes what keeps humans going.

Curiosity and wonder in the hands of scientists and adventurers have given us many advancements and wonders in the hundreds of years that we have continued to advance, and will no doubt continue to do so. Here are some images of some of these wonders…

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Goose Pagoda in China

The Sphinx in Egypt

Shuttle Launch

The Taj Mahal

Chichen Itza in Mexico

July 15, 2011 / Kalehli

Friday Findings and the Deathly Hallows

Last night, Thursday the 14th, at 11:00 p.m. I was sitting in a theatre waiting for the end of my childhood to end. First published when I was six-years-old the books consumed my time as I eagerly read them all. The last few books I read within two days each, ignoring everything but the books for 24-48 hours straight. The movies began when I was 10 and I saw every one in theaters, waiting to be visually catapulted into the wizarding world. These are the books that convinced me that I wanted to write, to share my stories with the world. And now, 14 years later, the legacy has come to a close. My childhood is officially ending.

The movie surpassed everything that I expected, without a doubt it was the best movie of the series and to watch the final movie was bittersweet. From when Snape died until the end of the movie my best friend and I sat holding hands, her sobbing and me slightly misty eyed. It was sad to bid goodbye to the characters that I have grown up with. I think that is what made the end so bittersweet: we grew up alongside these characters and went through their trials and challenges with them.

Harry Potter is more than just a fantasy story, it is about growing up and becoming yourself. It is about friendship and love and loyalty. Good vs. evil. Despite all the criticism that it faced when the series first came out, it is about more than magic and witchcraft. The idea that someone can be protected because of someone’s love for them is something that I grew up believing in. And continue to believe in.

The things that make up our childhood can be the same as someone else, but it is what you take from these things that define your childhood. From Harry Potter I learned that courage is perseverance in the face of fear, that love is unconditional, that friends are a treasure, that sometimes faith and trust are how it’s done, that you can do whatever you set your mind to, and that evil cannot persevere forever.

No matter how fantastical the Harry Potter world is, the themes are universal and ephemeral; they will last forever. Harry Potter sacrificed himself for his friends at Hogwarts and protected them with his love. While that magic only works in a little magical corner of Scotland, perhaps we should take some wisdom from his sacrifice: if we love enough we can put those we love before ourselves and no matter the sacrifice required of us, we can protect them..

Imagine the world if everyone followed that philosophy and put their neighbors before themselves. Wouldn’t that be a thing to see?

July 14, 2011 / Kalehli

Wednesday Whimsies: How I Learned To Love

My grandmother died early Tuesday morning and because I am home for summer (and rarely ever sleep) I was there for the 3:45 am phone call that told us the sad news. Grandma had been in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s for almost five years, and we have said our goodbyes a long time ago. The tragic thing about the timing is that my grandfather’s 90th birthday was today and he had several plans for his big day that were tainted by the news; the one good thing that came from this unfortunate timing is that my aunt and her family were down to visit, so there was a support group for him.

Families are such an important part of our lives, I don’t think we realize that when we’re younger or recognized the memories that you’ll wish you remembered more clearly. I spent many days with my grandparents as a very young child and I remember that my grandmother was the sweetest lady, but I don’t have many memories of when she was healthy. She wasn’t my biological grandmother, who died when I was four, but she is the only one that I remember. I do remember asking her if it was OK if I called her grandma when they were planning their wedding, and from that day on that was what I knew her as. As I got older I was over at their house less, and so I really didn’t notice as she was slipping away because of the disease.

There have been challenges these past few years because Grandpa was so accustomed to taking care of her for most of their marriage, that he was convinced that no one else could take as good of care of her as he could. Which, with his own age and gradual loss of sight, was becoming impossible for him to do by himself. In some ways her passing was a relief, she has been gone in spirit for a while now, only able to stare at the wall, and he can focus on his own health without the stress and grief of sitting beside the woman he loves who doesn’t recognize him. He handled the news surprisingly well and I truly believe that he said his goodbyes long ago as well. Having his family here and day long plans helped to distract him and kept him in good spirits too I believe.

Truth is, I hope that I can find someone who loves me as much as he loved her, and that I can love in return. Their story is much like that of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook. They met in high school, some seventy years ago, and were high school sweethearts. They came from two different families, she was wealthy and he was not, so because he didn’t think that he was good enough for her, he left her for the military. There he met my biological grandmother and married her. By some twist of fate, they met again about fifty years after they graduated high school and married a short time after that. She showed no signs of Alzheimer’s for quite some time, although he hid it from us well. For years he bathed her, cooked for her, dressed her, and cared for her. Once she was in the nursing home, not a day went by that he wasn’t at her side every evening. Although he was notorious at the nursing home for causing trouble, it was because he wanted only the best for her.

He said that the night before she died she was the most herself that she had been in a long time and I think that she knew what was coming and was saying goodbye to him. Although she left her body a long time ago, he never stopped going to see her, never stopped loving her, and in a lesser person, a lesser love, that would have destroyed them.

If someone asks me later in life “what did you learn from your grandfather?” this is the story that I will tell them. This is how I learned to love.

July 11, 2011 / Kalehli

Monday Meals: Chicken Salad

I think that by now we’ve established that I’m lazy, and a starving college student.. Not a combination that works well when it comes to eating well… Something that I’ve discovered is the meal that keeps on giving… basically something that you can make once and eat for a couple of meals.. and isn’t ramen..

My favorite choice is chicken salad. I love chicken salad. A lot. You can have it with fruit, on a sandwich, on a salad, etc. Plenty of options and nice and healthy!

It’s really easy to make too! All you need is a big bowl and proportional amounts of the ingredients… The average recipe is:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chopped, cooked chicken meat (I use canned because I’m lazy… hmm a trend?)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl and let sit overnight for full flavor.
Of course you can add fruit (sliced grapes or raisins usually) or other spices to the recipe. You can add to the recipe to make it bigger to either last longer or feed more people!
It’s a great recipe because it’s versatile and can be used in different ways to keep it from getting too boring. I prefer it on lettuce with a side dish of fresh fruit, usually berries. It’s also yummy on toast or with crackers and used as dip.
Best of all! When it’s made with at home ingredients, it’s healthier than the pre-made stuff at some stores because it doesn’t have preservatives in it! So eat well and enjoy it!
July 9, 2011 / Kalehli

Friday Findings: Where, Oh Where Have The Little Things Gone?

There has been an email going around for awhile that is a list of quotes by kids about love, and I especially liked this quote by seven-year-old Danny: “Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”

I didn’t just notice this because it’s something that I’ve done for my certain significant other when I make him coffee, but because it’s about noticing the little things. People don’t really seem to take time to notice, or do the little things anymore. Not just in relationships, but in friendships, in communities, neighbors, classmates. No one really seems to go that extra step anymore.

I wonder why that is. In this day, when there are so many opportunities and possibilities to something nice for someone, why is it that we isolate ourselves from everyone else? With all the technology we have to connect today, as opposed to hundreds of years ago when contact was only between people who lived within walking distance and by letters could take months to reach the other person, why is it that we seem to avoid close contact with people? We have become a nation of isolationists it seems, and the idea of going out of our way to do something nice for someone else seems to be falling to the wayside; which is truly a shame because the feeling you get from doing something nice for someone is such a boost! Whether you bring your neighbor’s trash-cans up after trash day, or send a friend a card just to say “hey! I’ve been thinking about you!” a little thing is as simple as a phone call to someone you haven’t seen in a while or holding a door for the person behind you. The key to it is to do something that is nice, but isn’t necessary.

In a relationship the traditional idea of the ‘little things’ is buying a girl flowers or chocolates or even a teddy bear, and girls are encouraged to take their guys beer or allow them their ‘guy days’ and shower them with sexual favors (a little thing that the guy might do is take an actual shower!)… something, that while appreciated on both sides, is not exactly what I have in mind when I say ‘little things’ (although we do like flowers!). Perhaps, people still do the little things, but instead of being appreciated for what they are, instead they are things that are taken for granted.

For example, my boyfriend is a neat-freak (I am the complete opposite) and crumbs on the kitchen counter are one of his pet peeves (and I tease him about it all the time!) so when I’m at his house if I notice there are crumbs, I grab a sponge and wipe them up because I know it will make him happier. On his part there was one time when we were at the campus bookstore and there was a book on sale that I wanted, I went to the counter to pay for it and realized that I had forgotten my debit card. I told the cashier to just put it back and I would be back later for it, the next thing I know he’s handed her his card and paid for it. Sweet, definitely appreciated, and completely unnecessary.

It’s these kind of little things that are becoming absent in our society and as I’ve been writing this I have come to wonder if they truly are disappearing, or if people just don’t notice them. Have we become a culture that takes things for granted? Because the guy is supposed to be the gentleman these gestures are not special because it is expected of them? I love it when my guy does something nice and love to share it with my friends because I feel that he deserves the extra attention, but I rarely hear my non-single friends do the same about their S.O.’s…

One of my friends told me after her break up that she hadn’t realized everything that her ex had done when they were together, so maybe it’s not that the little things don’t happen anymore, they just aren’t noticed anymore. Are we too absorbed in our smart-phones and status updates to recognized what the people we love are doing for us? Are the little things not supposed to be noticed, is that why they’re little things?

I can only conjecture… what do you think about the little things? Are they still here or are they becoming extinct?

 

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