a letter to letters

Dearest words,

It’s been a long time since I’ve written you, far too many days since I’ve used you through my keyboard to express my innermost thoughts. For that, I apologize. Yes–I’ve missed you greatly, and I’m telling you the truth. I’ve tried to reach you several times, but for some reason, something unknown has been holding me back. I tried writing you, I tried creating ideas in this text box, but in the senselessness of life, things have felt unusually off-kilter. I’ve had a difficult time embracing the senselessness around me. Making a conscious decision to be positive for the duration of an entire day has proven to be difficult, and I’ve discovered once again the challenge it is to be aware of my thoughts and emotions during 100% of my existence. I’ve also found that my perfectionism has recently gotten the best of me. I’ve thought about writing the perfect combination of you, beloved words. I’ve attempted to select a perfect idea for each blog post, constantly seeking perfection rather than gracefully sharing my honest thought. I tricked myself into believing that it’s better to write less frequently with greater concern for each word I type than it is to write more often with more random incoherent concepts (wow, that’s a sentence-full)… which I don’t think is always true. Perhaps one of my silliest worries about you has been that I’ll run out of you– that my ideas will become weak, and that eventually, I’ll share all of my ideas and then you won’t be able to help me express anything more. That’s silly. That’s not true. Please forgive me for spending time away from you these past few weeks, but thank you for welcoming me back with open arms. I’ve missed you.

Love, Siena

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i can’t understand EVERYTHING.

I have begun to notice a bit of a fascinating pattern: it seems as though my best writing is formed in a state of sleep deprivation. Perhaps the closer I am to my dreams, the closer I am to my creativity. Does that make sense?

Who really cares what sense anything makes? Well, I do. I care too much about sense, as a matter of fact. I find great comfort in the comprehensible, a certain relief when I encounter the relative “answer” to a question that may or may not even be correct.

I have found myself in countless situations lately that have made no sense to me. Last night, I was scolded by a random man for supposedly breaking the rules of restaurant trivia (it’s a long story). Today, I was gifted with feelings of overwhelming joy as I sat confidently in the saddle atop my horse, and passed hours watching Netflix, casually whispering for the length of The Titanic to my best friend. This incomprehensible joy manifested itself through countless smiles and questions of “How am I so blessed? Do I deserve this?”

The key word is: incomprehensible. The value of a feeling, situation, circumstance, or blessing does not stem from how much “sense” the situation makes. As various scholars and philosophers have taught, life’s most brilliant entities are often those that cannot possibly be comprehended. But sometimes, this lack of understanding causes frustration or anxiety in my mind.

Why can’t I understand?!

Can genuine happiness be incomprehensible?

Am I any less knowledgeable because of my inability to understand? 

The questions extend further into my internal abyss of uncertainty. As a result of my chain of incoherent thoughts, I feel even less certain, swimming in a sea of senselessness, staring at the distant walls before me in an attempt to comprehend the questions of my psyche, but succeeding no more or no less than before.

(**Here’s a note about me [and this blog is really about you and your realityso allow me this selfish moment if you would]. I’ve never been the most “logical” person. I can offer fabulous advice regarding the Jungian theory of the collective unconscious, but ask me to turn on your air conditioning and I’ll struggle until you come over to help me.)

I finally figured out something about life (well, maybe): many of life’s intricacies cannot be revealed through logic, but must be met through intuition, as well as acceptance of the fact that we can’t understand everything. And from my experience, many of my favorite life events have been rooted in absolutely NO comprehension of why. 

So instead of questioning, why not accept? Instead of wondering why or how, why not absorb the wonder of the situation itself? 

You know who you are.

You know if you’re the person who struggles with accepting life for what it is, the person who walks into walls sideways because sleep deprivation reduces her walking balance (whoops, irrelevant, and that was me today–never mind), the soul who is constantly yearning for answers, and you know if you inspired me to write this post at almost 1 a.m. on a Tuesday night because thoughts like these can’t wait any longer.

Embrace the senselessness.

Did I make you think?

…because in the end, what really makes sense anyway?

let’s be awkward together

Occasionally, I have moments where I question the origin of a statement that leaves my mouth. Hm. Where exactly did that sentence come from? Today, I caught myself as I said something that surprised me… and it was nothing monumental, nothing that anyone else would have noticed, but I was still a bit baffled with myself.

In a conversation, I stated, “You’re not weird.” And then I stopped, and I realized that phrase should not be perceived as comforting. So I corrected myself. “You and I are actually both weird. And that’s a good thing.” That was the ultimate compliment.

Yes, indeed. Fortunately, the concept of normalcy haunts me on a daily basis. I’m forced to think about how my own perception of normal/abnormal/weird affects my lifestyle. I remember feeling so strange throughout elementary and middle school (and even the beginning of high school) because of my “abnormal” personality. I was loud, giggly, and even outspoken at times. However, I haven’t strayed from these characteristics; I’ve simply embraced them. Instead of fighting my volume, restraining my laughter, or quelling my opinions, I’ve realized that Siena is who Siena is, and that’s something special… just as it is for each one of us.

Grrrrrrr... Just another blog post about originality and loving yourself and how everyone’s special and— okay, so this is called non-cliché blog title for a reason, folks. So here are a couple of things I must discuss.

First and foremost: awkwardness is beautiful. Google defines awkward as “causing or feeling embarrassment or inconvenience; uncomfortable, unpleasant.” I disagree. I’m calling myself awkward as an encouraging self-affirmation, because being awkward is not a negative thing (or at least it shouldn’t be)! The human personality has no restrictions because essentially anything within our bounds of perception is feasible. So why should awkwardness be considered so negative? Is it because being awkward is different? Is “awkward” defined as “instigating discomfort in others” simply because select others are too close-minded to accept the oddball?

There are very evident standards of what is considered awkward, and you can take a moment to think about them in your own life. It seems that in every situation, there is a possibility of awkwardness, and an expectation of normality. But there is something extremely priceless about being simultaneously awkward and loved. There is no feeling quite similar to being radically joyous in the middle of a serious car ride, frolicking through Walmart, or leaving artichoke hearts on someone’s car hood knowing the entire time that whoever is witnessing your weirdness respects it, cherishes it, and completely loves it (even if they are a little bit freaked out by it). Remember that abandoning normalcy is not only okay; it is extraordinary.

That leads me to my second point regarding uniqueness and awkwardness and the like; it’s easy to become hyper-focused on originality. I feel as though our society is becoming increasingly paradoxical each day. It encourages certain social standards (both unspoken and openly proclaimed expectations), but meanwhile fosters utmost originality. “Be unique! Be yourself!” We’ve heard these phrases repeatedly, sometimes even interchangeably, but I think we often overlook and misunderstand the message. It’s impossible to be “different” unless the original person or thing is being compared to something. Different implies a basis of comparison. So when we are supposedly inspired to be different, what does that even mean? Should we push our personal barriers in an attempt to be different than our original selves? Should we try to be different than everyone else (but really we end up in a more homogenized state with others than when we weren’t even concerned with originality)? Nah. We shouldn’t try to be awkward just for the sake of being “different.” If you consider yourself “normal” (whatever that even means, I honestly don’t know), and that is genuinely a trait that is essential to your being, then be normal and love it… that’s just as beautiful if that is a truly real quality. We should focus on identifying our personal traits, quirks, and idiosyncrasies in an effort to know our own beings. Then, we will recognize our authentic spirits, rather than attempting to know ourselves by equating and comparing who we are to others.

At the risk of slight irrelevancy (it’s very hard to me to remain on topic anyway; who needs coherency though?) a positive thing to remember is that we are all members of the same species. We’ll always relate to someone else, somewhere in the world, somehow.

…but if one thing should make you feel unique, it is the idea that there is no one else that is seeing the world right now from your set of eyes, your latitude & longitude, and your experience of sensory input. Live it.

reaction revelation

We’ve all experienced this, for the better and the worse. Something occurs, and someone reacts.

“Wow. Why couldn’t it have been me?”

“THANKS A LOT” (said in a sarcastically bitter tone).

“I’m genuinely happy for you. I really am. Congratulations.”

“Sorry, but this bread is just too crusty. Could you please fetch me some softer loaves?”

“YOU GAVE ME SNACK WRAPS WITHOUT CHICKEN. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?”

“Aw, that man just gave me a thumbs up for doing a polite lane change. I love courteous drivers!”

…to name a few assorted human reactions.

What’s the point of listing those possible phrases exclaimed without much prior thought? Well, when I’m feeling meta-cognitive, I reflect on things that I often accept without any question.  One of my currently interesting thoughts is that our instinctual human reactions reveal so much about who we are at our deepest level.

It’s a simple thought, but I think it has a lot of wisdom to offer. Through unbearable amounts of stress, an energy-deprived outlook, or a moment of utterly selfish disappointment, sometimes a little button is pressed inside of me that initiates a negative reaction. (Yup. Optimists are sometimes negative, too.)

Here’s a strange twist on the whole “negative reaction” concept: there is something so incredibly invigorating about having an unpleasant feeling toward something, but choosing to react positively anyway. Being positive in the face of negativity is one of life’s greatest challenges in my personal opinion. Positivity and happiness aren’t necessarily synonymous. Looking at something positively isn’t always the same as being happy. Sometimes, positivity is just being serious and straight-faced, acknowledging the negativity, and saying, “It’ll get better. It always does.” That being said, another thing to note is that being artificially joyful through an upside-down frown is NOT authentic positivity; that’s just a peculiar form of dishonesty.

A plethora can be revealed about the human person through her or his ability to impulsively choose positivity over negativity, regardless of the circumstance. It’s a much grander idea than anger management. This facet of our being extends to our core; it is through love and compassion during our most selfish and weak minutes that we have the ultimate choice to surrender to happiness and thus share our goodness.

The ability to handle life’s curveballs with grace is one that I have yet to master. Can we conquer this challenge together?

6 things I’ve learned as the parent of a thousand-pound mammal

My horse is one of my favorite teachers. She has a surely unorthodox way of creating lesson plans, and a syllabus more haphazard than any other, but she’s taught me lessons that extend far beyond the picket fence surrounding the farm. Here are a few lessons I’ve been taught the past few years on this roller coaster with my mare… and I’m sure I’ll be learning many more!

1. Never expect perfection. 

It’s easy for me to set my expectations too high. “You learned this once, you just did it correctly last week, why can’t you simply do it again?” We all have particular goals and aspirations, and falling short isn’t usually easy to accept. Especially as an equestrian, dealing with what seems to be one of the most unpredictable creatures, I would like to think I’ve developed more patience in dealing with the random challenges my horse gives me. When she becomes unbearably resistant or deliberately disobeys me, sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and realize that we are working towards something greater. Perfection is probably never attainable, but with every ride, we are improving together.

2. Be grateful for the skills my horse has.

When I first befriended my horse, I was too flabbergasted at the idea of having a horse in my life to think of anything negative. Eventually, the idea sunk in and I became a bit more… realistic? In a world full of so much talent, and in an area with abundant skilled riders and horses, I struggled as I compared my horse to the others. “That horse knows much more. Look at that rider and how flawless that pair is…” But something that a lot of people don’t realize is that every horse has his or her own unique talents, and these talents are very concrete and individual distinctions. Some horses are meant to run. Others are meant to herd cattle. There are a few who are destined for the Olympics, and there are thousands who are called to the trails. I’ve come to know and truly appreciate my horse for who she is as a being, which is a miraculous experience.

3. I’m not always right!

Wow, did I actually just admit that? (It’s okay, I’ve known it for a while.) As my riding trainer proudly states, my horse should be commended for tattle-tale skills. Horseback riding is grounded in a set of communication skills that spans the species barrier, thus making both of us (horse & rider) extremely prone to misunderstandings and miscommunication. A lot of times, my horse and I will have little arguments… usually spats that aren’t even noticeable to the average person. Perhaps she will ignore my request… or maybe I asked her to do something incorrectly… oops. My trainer has also told me that more often than not, the horse is correct and the rider is wrong. That leads me to one of the most humbling lessons my horse has taught me: I’m wrong. Sometimes. A lot. But man, does it feel incredible to be RIGHT.

4. Don’t always focus on work.

This is probably one of the simpler lessons, but that doesn’t mean it is any less important. My horse and I are both athletes, and with the athletic mindset comes motivation to work, work, work. Don’t get me wrong — work is a great thing. But at times, I find myself so focused on the training plan and the goals we have that I forget to consciously enjoy the ride (literally). Of course, I typically have fun riding, but I’m not always aware of how breathtaking each ride actually is. In reality, my riding isn’t about achieving the perfect equitation on behalf of my horse and I. No. Riding is about the exhilarating entity that I meet every time I sit in my saddle. I need to remember to go to the stable with the mindset of enjoyment. It isn’t a chore (and even if it were, who said chores can’t be fun?).

5. Sometimes, tough love is necessary.

It took me a very long time to realize that being firm is necessary in certain circumstances. I’ve gone through phases of allowing my horse to disrespect me, and I’ve actually put myself in some dangerous situations because of it (that’s an added challenge of dealing with an animal that weighs half a ton). I’ve been bucked off, stepped on, had my iPhone stepped on (it didn’t survive), and I still have a hoof-shaped indentation in my upper thigh from last October. Tough love isn’t a concept to be taken lightly with horses, especially considering that they are high-risk mammals with incomprehensible power. It isn’t always easy to look my horse in the eye and demand her respect… but it is always worth it.

6. Always know your capabilities, and don’t let anyone else limit them. 

This might be the most challenging of the lessons my horse has taught me… and I’m definitely still learning it. People have discouraged my horse and I for the past three years. Thankfully I’ve also had some extremely encouraging advocates for my horse and I, but I’ve also had many people who did not support us, and certainly did not believe in us. I’ve been close to quitting my riding, and even doubtful about my relationship with my horse. However, I’m highly intuitive, and when I met my horse, my gut told me we would go places one day. Together, we have learned too many things to list in a blog post, and I am still convinced that we are on the ride to our destination (I just don’t know where we’re going exactly…).

Hm. Who knew a horse had so much to tell me.

If you actually read all of that, I commend you. But here’s the thing. I can guarantee you that at least one of those lessons applies to your own life… even if you hate horses. Take my experience, tuck it away, and pull it out of your pocket when you need it. Sometimes, all we need is another mind to whom we can relate in this crazy noun spelled L-I-F-E.

anxious.anxious.anxious

While God knows we are human and therefore we make mistakes, I believe He has high expectations of us because He knows the good of which we are capable. But as much as I hate to admit it, the cacophonous daily grind sometimes distracts me from the majesty of God and His world. I become too focused on the task at hand, thus forgetting the task at heart. That’s when something totally random happens that makes me wonder a bit.

I’m a lector at Church on certain Sundays, which means that I proclaim the Bible passages to the congregation. More often than not, God speaks to me through my assigned reading, and I am told exactly what I need to hear. An example of one not-just-a-coincidental incidence occurred this past Sunday, which was opportunely timed considering that this month contains a good bit of stress in the midst of countless things on my multiple to-do lists.

My assigned reading was Philippians 4:6-9. Even if you aren’t religious, I think the advice this passage offers is golden:

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

Woooow. In the midst of a schedule more full than my stomach after school lunch, God was saying something to me. He still is giving me profound life advice, every time my eyes fall upon this reading.

Erase any worry that clings to your mind.

Let God know what is bothering you, and then allow your concern to sink to the bottom of your psyche.

And perhaps my favorite aspect of the reminder: Focus on the peace and the goodness. 

because in the end, nothing is worth worrying about enough to steal our happiness, being overwhelmed is a real and natural part of the incredible human experience, and even when we forget to realize it, there is an unmeasurable GOOD in all of our lives.

So, God, thanks for the reminder.

redefining mondays

Stop hating on Mondays!!!!!

Just kidding, that’s not how I’m going to start this thing, because embracing Mondays is much easier said than done. For many, Monday is simply another day, and a difficult day indeed. Maybe we drown ourselves in coffee in order to artificially fuel our energy. Perhaps our leftover assignments and tasks start off the week with an ocean of stress, suffocating us with feelings of—-

No, no, no. That’s an awfully gloomy image of the glorious day that is MONDAY. Don’t get me wrong. It’s still not exactly easy for me to wake up on Monday mornings (waking up usually isn’t effortless for me anyway), and the stereotypical Monday pessimism is tempting, but when I think about the reality of the Monday, it is far too fabulous to hate it.

Every Monday begins an entirely new journey. A quest to expand my intellectual capacity, to continuously form the relationships that are so important to me, to share my voice with others and to listen to others as they share their voices with me. While I can predict how my week will seem throughout the next week, the Monday carries into the Tuesday, the Tuesday into the Wednesday, and so on… and something ALWAYS happens that I could have never expected before. Waking up on a Monday morning is opening the door to the unknown. It is accepting the uncertainty that the upcoming week will abruptly shove in my face… and that could be life-changing.

Mondays also give my brain and heart a chance to reflect on the amazing things that occurred the weekend prior… an opportunity to say “thank you” to God for the events and emotions I experienced throughout the previous days.

Every Monday is a set of 24 hours to gratefully ponder our recent past, to appreciate the current moments of living and loving, and to work hard towards the beautiful future of possibilities ahead.

So, happy Monday. May it be an indescribable 86,400 seconds of Monday joy for you!

I think i’m falling in love with being.

Tuesday, September 30th, 11:37 pm. Hours past the point of sleep deprivation, I received a casual text message from my philosophical friend who has caused me to wrestle with my own mind in a profound manner: I think I’m falling in love with being.

Such an innocent phrase, consisting of 8 simple words that even a child in the single digits of age could comprehend… yet my mind feels as though it were once on fire, now soaked in a soothing and refreshing lake of realization. Another electron in the covalently bonded compound that is my life. Another minor chord that has resolved into its relative major. Another answer.

I’ve grown up with a particular perception of my universe. I’ve deceived myself into thinking I understand what falling in love means, what love is, and even what it means to exist. Now while I could potentially be on the verge of a slight existential crisis (as some of my classmates and I have recently pondered), I believe I’m pushing the frontier of something greater, a sort of personal discovery.

I think I’m falling in love with being. 

What does it even mean to fall in love? Whoa. I’m either not worthy to even offer my opinion or I’m completely worthy… but I’ll do so anyway. Falling in love is a concept that, in my personal opinion, has been publicly idolized for invalid reasons. In a sometimes lust-driven commercialized society that places an artificial value on love, my humble recommendation is that we all reflect on defining l-o-v-e in our own lives and determining its genuine role in our own realm of existence. I say with great conviction that love is one of the grandest nouns (if not the grandest noun) that is attainable through our state of fallible humanity.

There is something so ______ about the mere existence of oneself and the entity of life. (A blank is inserted because literally speaking, no single word can describe the concepts of life and existence. They far transcend human language.) The abilities to be stressed, disappointed, angry, frustrated, annoyed, joyful, relieved, elated, and exhausted are equally essential points on the spectrum of human emotion that contribute to a necessary aspect of the person: the ability to maximize and appreciate the life experience through our human qualities, whether perceived as positive or negative or neutral in our own psyches.

Once the windows of our soul are opened, falling in love with being becomes much more simple (and I say this as if I’ve completely mastered it, which I totally haven’t). The questions of life are still equally vast, and the abyss of uncertainty remains evident and intimidating, but our life becomes less of a question and more of an answer. When I see the fiery passion in a tennis stroke, the joy of someone eating a freshly warmed chocolate chip cookie, or even when I tell my English class how the weekend I supposedly had mono was actually one of the best weekends of my life (another story for another time)… I’ve begun to hold life’s hand on my left and love’s hand on my right, and I refuse to let go.

I’m sincerely not apologetic for my philosophical rant because most people who know me well (or basically anyone who has heard me ramble) know that I’m full of weirdly fantastic and abstract concepts, and also that my favorite classroom is the one without walls (our world). However in simpler terms, existing is a blessing in itself. We should consistently feel this awe, not even necessarily in our minds but in our hearts, because as Heinrich Zimmer said, “The best things can’t be told because they transcend thought.”

What a privilege it is to exist, to share in the oxygen of our atmosphere, to provide carbon dioxide for the foliage! Perhaps the even heavier wisdom I encountered through this text message was this: there is always something for which to be thankful.