Sunday, July 17, 2016

Making Everyone Happy

Lately I've found myself in a pretty common trap, one that seems to snare me whether I am back in Boston, at school, or just about anywhere- believing I can make everyone happy. At this point I am pretty aware it's impossible. Of course I grew up listening to people to me tell me that, but it's one of those hot stove concepts, you're never going to believe the stove top is hot until it burns you that one time... Or in this case, several. Events are going to conflict, commitments don't simply go away, and schedules will continue on- ready or not, here life comes. So how will you be there for everyone? Split yourself in half? Clones? 
Truth is, even if you do find a way to physically be there for every event, commitment, shift-you really aren't all there. By being in so many places at once, you can't mentally give everything you have. You may have made it to the shift at work, but the whole time you're thinking about what you have to get done for the next commitment you have, or how you rather be with your significant other, or be home for dinner your family. Is it worth it for anyone that you stretch yourself so thin? Not to mention, giving a piece of yourself to everyone is some pretty risky business, who knows what condition they'll return you in! It's like checking a book out in the library, the family with three kids under the age of five had good intentions when they checked out those picture books, buts it's pretty inevitable that the books are not going to return in the same condition they left in. Lucky for the books, they have librarians to keep track of and take care of them! But who do you have to take care of you? When a piece of you comes back worn out... Who you going to call (ghostbusters!)? Yourself! The only person who can truly take care of you is YOU. Of course life is made easier by having wonderful people around you, and I have been lucky enough to have such a strong support system behind me in nearly everything I do. I couldn't be more grateful for the people that have surrounded me over the course of my life, but even they cannot know for sure exactly what I need! So it's important to take some time out of your day/ life pleasing everyone else, and do something for yourself for once. Stop believing that doing what is right for you once in a while is selfish, it's necessary. As mentioned before in previous posts, it's the same concept as putting on your oxygen mask first in an airplane, if you run out of oxygen while trying to help someone else first-you're not going to be much of a help to anyone. You can't truly be there for everyone, if you have nothing left to give. Every rubber band breaks eventually, and it's only a matter of time before you stretch just a little too far. That being said, helping people to the best of your ability is a wonderful thing. But prioritizing and recognizing what is important in others lives, is of the utmost importance to pull it off. For example, taking a shift at work last minute when you've had plans for a week with someone you care about? Not the best plan if you can help it. While it's nice to pick up some extra money, you can't really put a price on time with people you care about, and the value of keeping your word. The disappointment on both ends really is pretty heartbreaking, and you're left with a situation that is undesirable to say the least... Not something you want to be thinking about on shift. It's better to be honest with yourself and others, than to to make a commitment you can't keep. So next time you try to justify your "solution" to being everywhere for everyone, ask yourself if you're actually where your feet are. If not? Might be time to evaluate the situation! So, give yourself some credit, even if no one else does, love yourself- and continue to "care too much", just don't let that band break. 
~A Duck Learned

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Loss Examined

More often than not , I see people (including myself) focus more on loss than anything else. Whether it's loss of life, loss of relations, or loss of a competition-that is all we see at first glance. Rather than remembering how much someone has taught us in their life, the first reaction is to question why they're gone-when we know it can't bring them back. Instead of learning from mistakes in lost relations, so many people continue on with blame, absent of recognition. Losing a game, anymore, is the end of the world! Why? Without loss, competition would not exist, there would be no drive -everyone would win ... At that point, would there even be such a concept of winning if we were all the same? Progress would come to a halt, mistakes and weaknesses would not be noticed, and strengths would not be harvested.
 Loss teaches. We lose friends, relationships, and business partners every day. Turbulence is not unecessary! People grow apart, no one ever said that we have to keep the same friends our entire life, if it works out? Great! I have a friend I've known since third grade and I couldn't be happier to have her in my life! But just as life is dynamic, so are relations and if we close ourselves off to other opportunities, and other people simply because we are afraid of losing friends... How close are your friends? 
When we speak of death, we avoid confrontation - we become tentative. What will offend someone? Can I ask that? Death puts a mute on our voice, while thoughts scream in our heads. When we do come in contact with death, our first question is usually "how did it happen?". A natural question, of course- but not one that will bring life back. Instead, why can't we laugh about our time with those who are lost? Bring their memory to life? Sure, their physical presence is absent , but they are still a part of our lives. We underestimate the power of conversation, movement, and memory in times of loss. We forget to appreciate those in our lives, all that they do and all that they are. We fail to recognize what surrounds us, and instead harp on what we don't have. And with that, a huge thank you goes out to all those in my life who make loss worth the gratitude I feel for you all, and every day I see on this earth that much better .
Much love and appreciation in memory and present,
A Duck Inspired 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Long time no post (I'm sorry!!!)

Hi all!
So I realized I have clearly been in my own little world with school, work, and traveling going on at the end of this school year!
But I'm back to tell you that the past two weeks have been some of the most incredible in my life! I worked at the same class I took at the end of last year for a week, OP, which is basically a class outdoors where you live in tents with your assigned unit and take classes during the day like ropes and ecology etc. , at night you do team building and fun activities with your unit! Long story short, I built relationships I never even dreamed of during that week last year, and on an even deeper level this year as staff and I couldn't be any more grateful for the opportunity and happiness it has given me! I'm on my last full day of being out in California with my family, and my time here has been spectacular as well. I always underestimate the greatness of time simply spent with family, especially after a long and challenging year away at school - and it has been fantastic, Wednesday we went on a hike through Pfiefer State Park out in Big Sur, a beautiful expanse of land, wonderful hiking, and rewarding views. At the top of one of the trails, a couple asked us to take a picture of them (they were adorable, she had a puppy in a special dog backpack), so I took the camera and took the picture ....he asked me to take one more so I point the camera AND this guy gets down on one knee in front of his girlfriend (and my parents and I) and asks her to marry him. It was so beautiful, even more so than the view it took place in front of (valley point), and she said yes (and neither of them fell off the side of the cliff so that was awesome)! As if that wasn't amazing enough (I got great pictures for them don't worry), we ran into a man farther down the trail who stopped me when he saw my Springfield shirt. Apparently he grew up in West Springfield,  and currently lives in the Boston area. He even lived in the town bordering ours back home for a couple of years AND his roommate from college lived in my same hometown! It just goes to show what a small world we live in, and how powerful just simply being outdoors is- if it weren't for some quality hiking and camping I wouldn't have my second family down in OP, and I certainly would not have been able to take the role of spontaneous marriage proposals on top of valley mountains. I may not have even truly realized just how connected we all are in this life.
I tried to keep this one short and sweet because I wrote an article on my time in California that should be scheduled to publish somewhere around memorial day, or the day after! I will share it on my facebook page so I would really appreciate the read/share from all you guys! I know I didn't say much about OP later, BUT I will be also writing about that in my next article!
I appreciate all the support from you guys always, and will try my best to be posting more often now that we are in the summer months !
Thanks again!
A Duck That Is Sorry For Not Posting In Sooooo Long (but still loves all of you so very much!)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Sending Smoke Signals

Its about that time of year- the "burnout" stage. The point in the year, semester, work period where we all just stop caring, fall in a rut, or lose sight of our purpose- our call for help : our smoke signal. There are a couple of different paths we can take at this point, most all of them are broken down into the "easy" and the "challenging". For example, those who remain determined, pushing themselves continually through comfort zones; versus those who lose focus, and simply "get by" . Our first path in this example is pretty challenging to begin with, but at the end of the semester the difficulty level increases tenfold for most, finals are here, seasons are coming to final competitions, and friends begin to check out for the summer. It is easy for us to withdraw, to fall behind on our academics, and to mindlessly trudge through our day. How will you respond?
A couple of days ago, I turned down an opportunity to go see a band I'm obsessed with because I was exhausted. When I had talked to my Dad about it, I told him I knew I needed the sleep, the study time, and a quiet night to recollect so I didn't ruin all the work I had put in over the semester. His response? "If you gave up now, it would be like running an entire race just to walk off before the last lap", and he couldn't have put it into a better metaphor (for his track- obsessed, metaphor loving daughter)- and then most everything made sense. Of course I am still exhausted and fighting my urge to pack up and leave this minute- but I know that I never could, not now, not after everything I've worked for. In the past few weeks I could easily walk away from friendships, teams, and relationships that took work and effort. I could withdraw from everyone and everything with the excuse that summer is near, and people I have become close with will be far. I could throw away everything I have built with people in my life that I enjoy and love, I could conveniently forget the good and the bad we've had together, and just walk away. While this all sounds pretty pessimistic and dark, it is something I have seen happen all too much in just the past three days alone. People turning their backs simply because life gets tough, making excuses for their fear rather than voicing their concerns. Relationships and friendships that could have been preserved, started, or saved with communication, a promise, and a little bit of passion. The road less traveled, while often challenging, is absent of the ruts and monotony that characterize the path taken by so many lately; and as much as I am fed up with the indifference hanging in the air - I refuse to follow in suit. When the bell is rung for the last lap...will you be on the track?
With love & faith,
A Duck With Fire

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Stressing Our Differences

It is prime time for stress, at work, school, life in general... the seasons change and yet our lives keep on going leaving us yearning for a chance to put a pause on everything. The buzz on self-care is never ending, leaving some of us more frustrated than relaxed. Recently I attended a conference at Harvard University with our group of peer educators on campus, the key note speakers preached the wonders of meditation, telling us that "mindfulness is not possible without meditation" using metaphors such as playing the piano, and then following those same metaphors with the admittance that they had never even played the piano! How were we supposed to sit back and listen to speakers who could not relate to the metaphors they were preaching? Or listen to someone tell us that we could not possibly be mindful or self aware without the act of meditation in our lives? I may not be the best at handling my stress, I may benefit from meditating, but I would by no means claim that I am not aware of my own self... All around me I see people getting into petty arguments, passive aggressive communication (or lack thereof), and self isolation. I also see many people thriving, loving what they do every day and doing it well - living life to the fullest and looking to the bright side whenever possible. My point to all this is, everyone handles stress in their own way. Some of us internalize, others project it on each other, and in some cases I've had friends who simply don't stress at all. My biggest pet peeve in this entire world is when people tell others that their stress is more significant than the next guy. Comments like "oh that's nothing" or "she's overreacting" , no! If I can write an essay in a half an hour and the person next to me takes over two hours, does that mean that I can negate their stress? What if that same person is great at math and can finish a problem set in half the amount of time as me? We all weigh things in our lives differently, we all have strengths and weaknesses that make up who we are. There is no reason, no acceptable excuse, for putting another person down simply because you do not experience the same type of stress. If we all came together and supported each other more often rather than comparing ourselves and making our stress a competition; if we built an atmosphere of understanding rather than hostility- maybe we wouldn't be so stressed in the first place. That being said ,we're all human, we have this innate nature to compete and compare, and of course, we all screw up. Maybe you didn't mean to let that comment slip, or to avoid your friends, or sound hostile- its okay. An apology goes a long way, whether it is immediately after that "oops" moment or even a week later. The most important part of apologies like this is to explain why you snapped that day, rather than simply hiding behind an excuse. For example, I could say "Sorry I snapped at you." or I could say "Sorry I snapped, I have just been so stressed lately, and I'm really not handling it well, I didn't mean to take it out on you" that way, I take responsibility but also give reason. If a friend says that to me, I'm usually more inclined to be concerned about that friend rather than being upset about the situation. In times of high stress, its important to keep in mind that we aren't the only ones, and if you see a friend struggling- its better to say something, than to completely ignore it. Its amazing how far a simple "how are you?" can go . 
Take care of yourself in anyway that you do, keep kicking ass at life, and keep an open mind. 

Wishing the best and utmost support for every one out there! (Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!) 
~ A Duck Just Doing Life 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Filling Our Cup

More often than not, and I am guilty as well, I hear people saying three words much too often ....No, not "I love you"(although opinions on that later), but "I hate people". A statement that slips off our tongue unknowingly when someone cuts us off in the street, or fails to hold the door, or maybe even when you see something tragic on the news. But, in the past couple of weeks, I've found that people are quite remarkable. At school, I see people everyday juggling competitive majors, jobs, and sports. A teammate who just clinched all american status while in one of our toughest majors at Springfield, and completely humble at the same time. One of my residents in the air force wakes up several morning a week at 4:30 to go to PT, then comes back for classes and track practice- he's on an air force base in New Jersey during our spring break. I see people around me everyday pushing their comfort zones, getting involved, and helping others be their better self. Then there are the people you don't see everyday, the people who are in the back of your mind always, people back home, or even a someone you have come in contact with no more than twice. Upon coming home, I've been inspired and lifted by the people around me. Of course, being home with my family and dog is usually all I need to recharge for my next return to classes, work, etc. But this break I have taken so much away from my interactions with others. When I went to get my hair cut, only the second time ever seeing this particular hair dresser, she remembered I did track and which school I had gone to- it had been months since I've met this woman for the first time, and she still took the time to remember what I cared about. The mother of two small kids, with a crazy busy life, remembered mine - and that simple thought meant more to me than I could ever explain in words. I went to see our school band concert last night, and was blown away by the talent some of these kids had. Kids I watched grow up, some even my campers over the summer years ago, and they were absolutely incredible. The transformation, the dedication they have put into what they love was beautiful. During the show, the band director had select high school students introduce the songs they performed. One walked up, potentially one of my favorite humans in the world, capturing the hearts of the crowd immediately. Cracking jokes, walking across the stage, he transitioned into a beautiful poem from which the piece was based and suddenly the crowd, howling with laughter just seconds before, went silent with awe. This kid, never ceases to amaze me, warm my heart, and support me in everything I do - and for that I will always be grateful, as I am grateful to everyone who makes themselves a part of my life, and lets me into theirs. To the boy who still takes my calls when I need it most, and threatens to drive two hours just to give me a hug, and offers to drive me to orchestra rehearsals because he knows I miss it- the same boy I've hurt in the past. His forgiveness and care leaves me in awe everyday, no matter how much we get on each others nerves. "The squad" back at school who never fail to listen to any thing I have to say, no matter the hour, or the stress they are enduring themselves. It is people like this, the people we say we "don't deserve", that we deserve the most. The people I described are a mere few of the crowd I've been lucky enough to be surrounded with throughout my life. People I have let into my life as they have opened the door to theirs. A concept so many people struggle with is self-care and self-love, myself being the worst culprit, a concept I am beginning to learn and accept whole heartedly, especially after this break. We need to remember that we deserve the people who support us, that they are there because they want to be, and those people you try so hard to please? The people who can't seem to give you the time of day? They aren't worth it. Our hearts can only stretch so far, and we sure as hell should not be bending over backwards for the people who can't even extend their hand to us every once in a while. It is time to realize that we deserve what we put out, that we are worth supporting- we are worth the time of day. With so much going on, and so many people dealing with the same stress, it is easy to lose that self love, to give away everything you have to others rather than leaving some love for yourself. So lets start being aware, and leaving something for ourselves- respect, love, and appreciate what you are to others and start living life for you! 
Let's fill that empty cup.
~A Loved Duck 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Calling Home

If I had a dollar for every time someone has confessed their desire to go home to me this week , I would probably be able to at least restore all the dining dollars I've used this semester. For a lot of us it is the busiest time of the semester and spring break seems worlds away, BUT I'm here to tell you : you got this. So many people seem ashamed when they tell me they want to go home, they feel defeated and childish- but that couldn't be farther from the truth! Touching back at home base is not a point of weakness, or immature- for some of us its just what we need. So many people underestimate (or simply forget) the power of a mental break. It seems that all we do anymore is trudge through everyday, and push our limits in ways that are not always healthy. Of course, we can't just blow off assignments or deadlines at work , but in a society where we do so much "extra" we rarely stop to think "why am I doing this?", and we start to lose purpose. That is not to say that you should just up and quit whatever you can't immediately identify purpose in, but evaluating our day to day life and what we do is not always a bad idea- and for some people, it takes a trip home to touch ground again (and that's perfectly okay!). For example, this week my back has been acting up to a point where even sleeping (my favorite activity) is not so enjoyable all the time. For this entire semester I've just treated pain and pushed through because I love track, I love my teammates, and I love everyone back home who watched me and helped me, essentially, to become the person I am. I put on a stubborn face and push through rather than stepping back because I convince myself I have to. I convince myself that I would be a disappointment to my team, that I would be forgotten by people back home, and that I would probably get fat (okay maybe not, but I did eat an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's last night and yes, I do feel like I am what I ate which happened to be "Chunky Monkey" ) if I take a break to heal. Long story short, if I actually stood back and evaluated my situation I would see that my team will go on, my friends and teammates back home will not ignore me because I'm riding the struggle bus, and as for getting fat-I really just need to control my intake of peanut butter cups. All in all, health is priority! I forget, and I've seen an overwhelming number of others (friends and classmates alike) forget as well! Time off of  practice in my training season will not kill me just as wanting to go home, or needing to take some time for yourself will not make you any less of a person. At this point in the semester, year, and our lives we have to remember that "you can't pour from an empty cup". We put so much pressure on ourselves to help others, that we forget we are not invincible. When we realize we're not the next superhero, its overwhelming.  So don't be afraid to make that call home, take some time for yourself, or go to others for help. We can't always do life alone, especially if we've formed our lives and schedules for others rather than ourselves. So take a deep breath and a step back - you aren't alone. You can do this- I know and believe it wholeheartedly.  So lets keep communicating, because no one can know what you need if you don't ask. Lets be patient, because not every one deals with personal situations the same way.  Lets be confident because we are gonna kick ass in our last couple weeks before break and in life. Lets listen to others but, more importantly, ourselves and our body because we can't do anything 110% if we aren't feeling 110%  (so STAY HEALTHY...yes I am a hypocrite, I'm working on it). And lastly, Lets do this. 
Go forth and conquer! 
~A Duck Confidently (and Tiredly) Flapping her way through life