Capable of Anything

September 11, 2015 at 11:24 am (Uncategorized)

14 years…the better chunk of my life, and the lives of my peers.

Prayers & thoughts for the victims, the heroism, the sacrifice. But please don’t forget all the innocent people all over the world who have been killed in one of the biggest policy blunders in American history, and don’t forget how this was the catalyst to remove a chunk of our civil liberties. Take the hate and learn something – how we can be better. Don’t let it all be in vain.

Don’t just #neverforget. Actually remember.

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Song for a Friend

September 10, 2015 at 9:16 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Weddings generally make me thoughtful. Now, they also make me want to party the night away with friends, family, and strangers, but once the party part has passed, they make me thoughtful. I think it’s inevitable – you see people making a HUGE life choice and you say to yourself, “they were probably pretty thoughtful about this. What about you?” To the extent that we all can’t help but compare ourselves to others, I find myself taking mental notes about what I liked and didn’t like for my own potential wedding someday. I also think it’s pretty natural for single people at a wedding to wonder about what their future love life has in store. Those things are interesting, certainly, but they weren’t the dominant feelings I was experiencing.

Rather, I found myself filled with gratitude.

Gratitude for the fact that I have such wonderful/caring/fun/talented/sweet friends, gratitude for the fact that all the variances of life brought me to such a joyful moment, gratitude for the fact that everyone puts up with my silliness. Gratitude for the fact that you can be far away from people and always pick up right where you left off. I’m grateful that everyone is just a text message away if I want to hear from them. Happiness that I can be absolutely ridiculous, and my friends will not only accept but embrace it. Gratitude that I have so much that I can learn from the way that they live their lives and their friendship.

I think that the best way to be a positive change in the world is by being kind and loving to everyone you come across. Big, sweeping, societal changes are good (and needed!), but positive change needs to come from each of us individually, as well. I know I’m not always perfect – I can be kinder, more open to others, more generous with my time and attention, and more compassionate. The trick is to keep working at it, ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it, and then to be kind to yourself when you inevitably have a bad day and lash out at someone for no reason, ignore someone, or when you just can’t seem to get anything right. There’s always tomorrow – always an opportunity to be your best self.

The Dalai Lama posted something relevant on Facebook this morning:
“Change in ourselves and in the world in which we live may not take place in a hurry: it will take time. But if we don’t make an effort nothing will happen at all. Change will not take place because of decisions taken by governments or the UN. Real change will take place when individuals transform themselves guided by the values that lie at the core of all human ethical systems, scientific findings, and common sense.”

So we all have to do it ourselves. We have to take care of ourselves, of others, of the world around us. I guess that’s why weddings are great – it’s an excuse to throw off the societal constraints we sometimes have about being open and truly tell the people we love how we feel about them. It’s about two people making a commitment to one another, but also about everyone at the wedding to let them know that the love they experience is not limited to theirs. We’re all here for you; we love you too. We feel the abounding joy that comes when we let ourselves freely love other people. It makes you happier to wish and work towards happiness for others.

We can be the change. We can be the love. We can do things for each other and let a rising tide lift all boats, rather than be selfishly focused on our own self-interest. We can all kick ass and be awesome together. It’s about blurring the lines that divide us, to stop seeing the “other” and start seeing yourself in the faces of the people you encounter.

As far as general life updates…

So far Corvallis has been treating me well! My roommates are great, the town seems fun, and I’m excited to jump into my program and start working. I think the next two years will be a great experience, an excellent career launch point, and full of personal growth and adventure.

Football starts today! I’m very excited, even if the two teams playing make me wish they could both lose. It’s like Christmas, if Christmas also came with a bunch of reservations about head trauma, hyper-masculinity, and the exploitation of persons of color. It’s a complicated love affair, to be sure.

I’m trying to be better about writing more consistently, especially as I will have to write much more for grad school, and I haven’t had the experience of pumping out tons of text in the last few years. I’m going to see if I can either write or run (or both!) every day. No promises, but that’s the goal I’m working towards.

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Clockwatching

September 1, 2015 at 11:17 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

This weekend I ran my first ever Hood to Coast relay – 198 miles in 31 hours! (I *only* ran 16 of them).

When Howard asked me I was slightly hesitant at first, since I had never ran that far in that period of time before, and because as great as this summer of traveling all over has been I was looking forward to one weekend where I wouldn’t have to be doing anything. At the end of the day, though, I can’t help but be a social butterfly, so I decided to take on the challenge. Worth it. Like any good adventure there were moments of pain and sleep deprivation where I wondered why in the hell I was doing this, but it’s always pleasing to set goals and attain them, and I was fortunate to have a great team to make the experience a lot of fun.

The most challenging part was my second leg, which involved running almost 6 miles at ~3am, up a mountain, in the dark, in the rain, and without any sleep. It was painful, but I was able to have a lot of fun with it because I managed my expectations well. I think that’s what it’s all about, and a life lesson that running has helped me with. You can know that a situation is going to be unpleasant, but unpleasantness mainly arises from what’s going on in our own heads, not from the situation itself. If I say to myself “I’m tired, this is awful, I’m upset” then I will be upset. If I say “I’m tired, this is awful, but I’m RUNNING UP A MOUNTAIN RIGHT NOW – LOOK AT THIS LIGHTNING, YOU CAN’T STOP ME MOTHER NATURE” all of a sudden I’m amped up and feeling good. Similarly, at any point in your life you can choose to change your perspective. Reality is what we make it. We all have the power to create a more positive existence for ourselves, if we want to.

I wouldn’t say that I LOVE running, but I definitely like it much more than when I first started. I really enjoy the challenge of competing against myself, and I have met a bunch of really great people doing it, so that’s a plus. I’ve had to change my mindset from one of a sprinter to longer distances – they require different strategies. I do sometimes hear Holman’s voice in my head from track practice, though, exhorting me to use my arms more. “Reach, Henslehh, REEEACH!” in his Nebraska drawl. Yes, coach.

Overall, I would love to do it again – especially if we can avoid insane weather and actually enjoy the party at the finish line. Now to make sure I keep my focus with running, have to sign up for a few more races. If you want to run with me, let me know! The more the merrier, always.

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