t h r i v e

We all go through peaks and valleys here and there. I know I hit my own little slump in the first quarter of this year when the wedding buzz fizzle away. I just couldn’t quite navigate and clarify what all my new goals were going to be. I also had my head wrapped around the wrong idea of taking care of myself. Vanity is fleeting. The happiness and satisfaction of it burns as quickly as a sparkler meant to dazzle you momentarily.

I had to purge unhealthy thoughts, habits, and ideas that weren’t going to provide a genuine deep-rooted wealth of happiness. It was rough, and I was pretty uninspired. I was just straight up tired. I was burnt out, wanted to sleep, and stop making decisions about anything. I’m now going through a slow reformation of myself and balancing skin-deep and soul-deep beauty.

I’ve been in a constant observation of the world around me. What we notice, what we judge, is a mirror to seeing ourselves. Whatever we admire…reflects our own potential. We each have the tools to manifest what we’re admiring. This is why thoughts and ideas become habits that can become character, and you should be mindful of the seeds you plant in your head. Dislikes are also reflections of things we have the ability to be, also. They are things we don’t like about ourselves. The practice to your mindset is to identify ways you are what you’re judging, own it, and find how it serves you purposefully. It also helps to quit doing things you don’t realize you’re doing.

Lately, what irks me are people who don’t have a follow-through, let fear/over-judgement close their minds to new experiences, and people who talk and dream more than they work to make things happen and come up with excuses whey they didn’t get where they want to be, or do what they want to do.

Life had felt amazing during all the times I didn’t give it a second thought and held myself back. When I wanted to chase the Autumn in Montreal. When I watched my sisters dancing, eyes closed, satisfied with life at the club while running on 3 hours of sleep. When I jumped off the boat in Bora Bora with Anthony unknowing what was underneath us. Or wading shark infested waters holding Anthony’s hand. Or giving into being submerged underwater after a sharp right turn on a jet ski. Or piercing my ear three times.

Life’s incredibly short, as it constantly reminds me. I understand periods of not feeling motivated. But pick up where you left off, and chase you dreams. Make it real. Don’t be scared, and if you are, then be scared – but do it anyway. And burn, because that’s life. It’s uncomfortable. It burns. But when you suffer meaningfully, all of it is worthwhile. So. Worthwhile.

Quit daydreaming. Don’t just survive. Thrive.

So Kiss Me.

Music has always been incredibly significant to me. It’s ability to transport you into a different time, or speak what you couldn’t muster up, or manipulate the mood is amazing.

Last night, post work-out I took a warm shower that fogged up the bathroom mirror. I decided I wanted to listen to something a little more nostalgic while getting dressed so I put on “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer (what a long band name). I was getting into my own little world while I started singing this song and danced into my red silk tank top. I kept my singing volume low, and I started to wiggle my feet covered in my sister’s kpop, boy band socks that she lent me some time last year.

I thought about high school, and the times I missed Anthony when I lived in Temecula and how I’d daydream about him. I thought of how I admired that he was a musician and appreciated music with me even if I was dissecting lyrics and he was dissecting everything else that weren’t the words. I thought of how it felt to love him as a teenager. How it ached. How it throbbed. How it hurt so good and bad all at the same time.

I went into a momentary trance until I saw his reflection in the mirror approaching me. He had a smirk on his face that is now all too familiar to me. “You’re perfect,” he said pulling my body against his. “No!” I complained. I rebelliously closed my eyes to be silly, and continued singing the song while he held me in his arms, “…lead me out on the moonlit floor, lift your open hand, strike up the band and make the fireflies dance, silver moon’s sparkling…so kiss me…” Eyes still closed, I felt his lips, and my eyes opened. A flutter. For a second I felt like we were 15, again. I had to look to believe it wasn’t true.

“You’re perfect,” he said again. “Much too far from it,” I thought to myself. I must have made a silly face or something to brush his comment off, but he let me go and walked back into our bedroom to finish folding clothes. I saw him turn his head back as he was walking away and I was mid-twirl still dancing to the song. That gesture had always been an important one to me. I often notice when people take their second look when they’re walking away. It reveals that they care enough to take another glance.

How did I survive loving you long enough to marry you? How do you keep finding me perfect, when all I feel is the complete opposite? How do you find your way to admire me while I twirl into my own little world so often? Whatever the answers are, I’m a pretty lucky girl to land this kind of love.

I’m grateful for a man who continues to care, even when I don’t notice he notices the very little things. Grateful for someone who worries for me, and about me. Someone who can love through flaws. Someone who can make me feel like I’m anything but ordinary, and takes that second look back.

“Hold it all. Hold it all.” – Kina Grannis

The blood work bandage today brought me back circa 2003, when underground punk rock bands were my jam, and sweatbands were semi-cool. (To be honest I don’t know if they were ever cool). Today, after getting my blood drawn, I thought back to a “simpler” time…childhood and growing up. A cascade of thoughts all because of a green bandage.

I had Kina Grannis’ song History on repeat for most of the day. The song itself has resonated deep within my being the past couple of months. Last month, I had a moment when I cried in bed when she decided to explain the song’s inspiration and her personal meaning and tapped into the childhood memories she had and the loss she experienced when her grandfather died. It hurt me hard, in the most grateful feeling that another being in the universe could feel the depth of emotions that churn inside of myself.

My life was never really “simple” when I was younger. In fact it was pretty rough growing up. I was a wide-eyed observer of the world around me, and it was more often cruel and mean than it was kind and easy. I grew up fast because of a rocky childhood, and thankfully, I learned how to grow from the “what-not-to-do’s” and “how-not-to-be’s.” I’ve looked back at the past, and realized I was never not worried about something or someone. It started to become engrained into my system to continue worrying for others. It’s probably how I became a nurse – to carry someone’s else’s burden for the time being, and help make them feel human again, because I continuously long for that from the world. For others to allow me to feel ok being human, to feel ok being me, to feel ok feeling what I feel, thinking what I think. In all of the worrying, I never felt sick, except for my occasional colds and fevers manifested from stress and a low immune system.

It took a while for my present to be finally peaceful. I finally stopped worrying too much about things and people I couldn’t control. But I realized, I didn’t worry enough about myself. When it came to caring for myself physically – I brushed it off, and just pushed myself harder and harder. “Hold it all, hold it all.” I actually would repeat this to myself to continue carrying all the burdens inside of myself. I thought I could just carry on each time I was falling apart.

I had to re-evaluate a lot when had to accept defeat and understand that my body’s been showing me some warning signs that I need to stop and take care. I never want to admit when I feel weak. I hate that I feel ashamed for it. I think parts of it come from being a nurse, and wanting to be the image of health and we turn a blind eye to sickness in ourselves. Nurses can be the worst patients. We know a little much. We’ve seen the worst, so we don’t respond to minor ailments in ourselves.

I couldn’t take it anymore, though. It was an awfully teary-eyed day when I had to admit to Anthony that I wasn’t feeling ok and haven’t been. The vertigo, the lightheadedness, the nausea, chronic fatigue, near-fainting, and random vomiting intermittently in the last year has been so tiresome to deal with. It was also getting hard to ignore when my colleagues would mention, “You’re looking a little pale today” or how I could see the color drained from my usually darker-pigmented lips. Initially, I couldn’t determine whether it was coming from pushing myself against the grain being a night shift nurse, or the stress overload from wedding planning. After a complete lifestyle change and dramatic reduction in stress, I thought I would feel magically better. All of these general symptoms would disappear and I would feel healthier, energetic, and exponentially better the way my friends were feeling when we switched over to the day shift hours.

So I went in to see a doctor after going to war with myself, waging that I’m alright. It’ll resolve with time. Other’s are sicker. Other’s are sicker…

I’m hopeful blood work and the CT scan bring me closer to answers, or at least peace of mind to let go of the worse. Maybe it’s postural! Maybe it’s still transition and a confused circadian rhythm. Maybe it is anxiety. Maybe it’s teeth grinding and firing cranial nerves. Maybe it’s an inner ear thing? Maybe it’s a, b, c, or x, y, z. It could be nothing, but it could also be the latter.

I’m trying not worry.

…I’m trying not to worry.

but if you peer between my rib cage,

and I finally stop holding it all,

I am worried.

The Sauna: A Revisit // A Metaphor

I wandered in unsuspecting of what I was going to experience. The initial warmth was soothing to chilled skin from the icy Montreal air. I took a seat on the dry wooden bench and looked outside of the panoramic window. I drew a warm breath in and let it fill my lungs.

It was inviting, at first, as it always is. I let my physical and mental being melt into my seat. It was so dreamy. How did I live long enough to experience such a moment. I had to live it. Breathing in. Breathing out. My body felt like it was warming from the inside out. Beads of sweat were forming. Slipping…sliding..creating clues to indicate I was alive.

The heat increased, and the blood in my cheeks me more aware of it. “Bear it,” I told myself. My hands gripped the wooden bench, as if it would provide the strength for me to hold it longer. “Make it last,” I pleaded internally.

There was certainty I couldn’t stay in this beautiful sauna. There was certainty my threshold would be met. If the choice was mine, I would have wanted to stay in the sauna longer. I would have stayed there long enough to close my eyes and fall asleep and wake up still there.

The heat increased, again. I closed my eyes for a few seconds and bit my lip. “Make it last.” What used to be light, warm breaths were now short, heavy breaths in an out. I rubbed the moisture on my arms and thighs. All senses heightened and sensitive, I felt my eyes open and a blurry sight quickly sharpened and I looked at my friend. A pink nose, flushed skin, rosy cheeks, and pink lips. She was the mirror of myself, too. The bodily stress was impending. It was getting too hot.

The thoughts in my mind were blurry around the edges, and getting out of focus. I reached my limit before my head would start spinning, so I finally initiated the end.

A reluctant hand touched the glass door to push it open. I knew what was to come. The heat was going to quickly escape me. It couldn’t hold me. It couldn’t keep me. It wouldn’t stay. It was science.

I pushed the door open. And just like that, as I regretfully expected, the heat escaped hurriedly from my body and vanished into the thin air.

Did the warmth have to vanish so fast? How could it end so quickly? Just like that, it was all a memory. I wanted to turn around and look at that panoramic window a little while longer. I wanted it to invite me back in. I wanted it to let me live in a daydream without knocking me out.

A Favorite Archive:

GRAPE// 2018

It was an ordinary day. We had just gotten back from picking up a few groceries at Costco and I was working on hanging the Christmas lights in the living room. Anthony was simultaneously putting groceries away and baking salmon and sweet potatoes for dinner. He had a serious and concentrated look on his face. We weren’t having much of a conversation as jazzy Christmas music filled the apartment. 

I wandered to the kitchen to wash up some grapes minding my own business. I don’t know what it is about bite-sized food that compels us to throw it in the air and catch it in our mouths – but that’s exactly what I did. I tossed a grape and it came down and plopped square on my forehead then ricocheted toward the dinner table. There’s nothing like something smacking your face to make you feel like a total doofus. I walked over to pick up the grape, and when I turned around I didn’t expect to see Anthony walking toward me with a huge smile on his face expressing amusement. 

He held his arms out to hold me. He pulled me to him and said with a smile, “You’re perfect.” Clearly, I felt far from that adjective. “What?!” I retorted. “I was watching you toss the grape and was wondering what you were doing, and I thought you were going to catch it in your mouth and be cool. But it didnt. And you’re perfect.” I asked, “why?” He squeezed me tighter and said, “Because! Because you’re so cute, and silly, and funny!” 

I thought about the interaction long after it was over. I’m grateful to marry someone who can love me through everything that makes me imperfect and loves them as much as the things that make me awesome too. I’m glad I don’t have to be the perfect person for him, and he’ll take me as I am without either of us trying. That’s what I’d strive for it didn’t have him, but God graced us with one another. Even when I feel awful or silly or awkward, Anthony can still find things endearing and I’m happy for it.

Seasons

I’ve been hyper aware of the seasons that have been taking place in my life lately. “Seasons” have been a theme entangling in my thoughts and feelings, and weaving metaphors here and there all around me.

Autumn was when it started. Autumn, was unexpected…a total daydream, initially. I went to Montreal, Canada for my bachelorette in October and that’s when I kind of fell into a flood of it. From the bursts of colors splashed on the downtown streets, contrasting a white sky…to the autumn-like aura of the connections made our second night in Canada.

It was a burst of vibrant life, hanging by a thread. It was full of shocking color. It cut your breath, the way you feel when a firework explodes before your eyes. It was all beautiful in how the leaves fell unintentionally…how the mechanisms of a chaotic universe aligned moon, stars, and planets to create a scenario so simultaneously thrilling and somehow, liberating. In all of it, its most Autumn-like feature was its certainty of an end. Always after Autumn, is Winter.

That last thread of life has to give in. The last bit burst of color eventually dulls, darkens, dries, and then there you have it…the stem breaks off and the leaf falls to the ground. This was the last season of Aimee “The Lion” as I knew it.

I went through a Winter before the wedding and then post-wedding/post-honeymoon. I was conscious of a ridiculous amount of endings and doors closing. There was a lot of that in myself. It felt like Winter – cold. And much like San Diegan Winters, it rained a heck of a lot. Eventually, I found it to be so cleansing; washing away all that no longer served a purpose. It washed away old-Aimee. Though I cried in the process…I found my “day after the rain,” which so happens to be my favorite day.

So much rain in San Diego fed life to the hills, the trees, and the flowers. San Diego was vibrantly green. It was absolutely beautiful. Flowers bloomed in places people never thought flowers could even grow. Instagram posts flooded with the superbloom that’s usually predicted to only occur every 4 years or so. I fell in love with the greens, the oranges, the splotches of yellows and the way that you could tell the wind was blowing because of the growing grass. Driving around San Diego didn’t feel typical. It was so visually pleasing. Without the rain, I would have never seen it this beautifully here.

That resonated a lot with life. Without all of the closures here and there, the chapters ending, and the evolution of my thoughts and small parts of myself, I don’t think I could start to see the beauty of what’s to come and what’s to bloom.

I’ve been in a steadier state of mind lately, with an aura of calm that I’ve never quite achieved in life all these years. The mood that’s elicited in low-fi hip hop music is all that I feel these days. An ongoing state of riding the waves as they come. To me, it’s beautiful. I’ve worried incessantly for quite a long period of time. I’ve tried to take control of too many aspects of life, and I haven’t quite trusted that after Autumn, when the world spins madly on, beautiful things are still to be experienced. But they are…you just have to keep going.

As Summer encroached, the plentiful vibrant hues of greens, oranges, and yellows scorched and dried with the warmth. Lately all I see are waves and waves of brown. I used to hate these brown hues, but I’m waiting to see where else I’ll find the beauty in it. Life has a funny way of leaving beautiful things for you to find at unsuspecting times.