Archive for August, 2011

The journey is what matters

Google Maps always makes everything seem simple. It seems easy when you read the directions. I always feel confident that it will be a piece of cake. But, more often than not, real life ends up being more complicated than Google made it out to be.

I’m in New York, staying at a friend’s place. I came here for two reasons. First, I needed to get away from my city for a little bit and breath new air. All my friends were away and I found myself alone with nothing interesting to do. So I decided to come here visit friends and see people. Second, I had a potential job interview. Which is always good. And, third, since when do I need an excuse to go to NY? It’s New York! Enough said. 🙂

So there I was, making the appointment with my possible future boss, and planning everything. The only problem is that the interview would be in Connecticut. It’s not that bad, it’s the neighbor state. And there’s a train that goes up until the city I needed to go. So it shouldn’t be that hard. Right?

Wrong. haha Apparently taking trains is too hard for me. I’ve catch the train in NY many times before. But I always went from upstate to the Grand Central Station and back. Always the same train and same line. But this time I had to change trains in the middle of the way. I thought it would be simple. The problem was that when I came out the first train, it was in a station with many different lines. I didn’t know which one to take! There wasn’t any sign indicating the right one and Google didn’t tell me either. So when the next train came I decided to ask someone working on the train. But there wasn’t anyone near me! So when the train was about to depart I had to make a decision… And, for fear of missing the right train in case it was it, I decided to stay on this train and see what happens.

As soon as the train started moving I knew I had made a mistake. I heard the voice announcing “Welcome to the the train number bla bla bla, heading to Boston, Massachussets.”

Oh. No. That’s NOT where I was suppose to go. I allowed myself to panic a little bit for about 5 seconds before I shook it off and went to speak with the guy working on the train. He asked to see my ticket and told me that I had made a mistake. (Really? You think??) But then, luckily for me, there was a few stops before the final destination. And – even more luckily – the next one would be only 20 mins past my original stop.

See, here’s where it pays to be cautious. I knew I was going to a place I’ve never been before. Instead of going at a time I would normally go if I knew my way, I always choose to leave home a lot earlier. I prefer to arrive early and have to wait there, at my destination, than risk making a few mistakes along the way (which I usually do) and missing important appointments or arriving late (I hate being late!). So, in this situation, I would be pissed, cause I just wasted 20 mins of my time. But in this case the glass was half-full. I had enough time to patiently wait for the 20 mins to go by and get back to where I needed to be. I even got to enjoy the ride and see new places I didn’t know! 🙂

So I’ve learned many lessons in the same day. I’ve learned to better use the public transportation in the New York/Connecticut area. I’ve learned that if I ever want to go to Boston, there’s a train I can get – and it’s easy too! I’ve learned that this habit of always overestimate the time I need to get somewhere and to plan ahead is a good strategy. I’ve learned that Boston is considerably close to NY (yes, I’ve looked it up while on the train =P) and that, if I move there, it’ll be easy to go visit some friends there. Finally, I’ve learned to pay more attention to some inconspicuous signs that locals usually see and strangers take some time to learn. So now I’m much more observant of my surroundings than I used to be.

On top of that, I still got to my interview in time! It was a very pleasant interview and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Life is good after all. 🙂


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The art of eating well

Is it too early for New Year’s resolutions?

I don’t know, but with all this “new beginning, new life” kinda feeling I’ve been having, I caught myself paying a lot of attention to some of my habits. And I was shocked to realize my neglect to my own health and well being particularly.

It’s very well known what we have to do to live a healthy life. There’s nothing new in the fact that we need to eat a lot of vegetables, of fruits, some protein, and even carbs. Also, the importance of keeping a balance when consuming all of these food has been extensively explored. So why is it so hard to keep a healthy diet?

It’s very easy to blame our busy 21st century lifestyle. Or the practicality of microwaveable frozen food. Or the money it costs to buy and cook your own food. But the truth is, for me at least, I just got lazy. It became convenient and effortless. Plus, when you live by yourself in a country where food is sold mostly at huge portions, it’s hard to prepare anything without having to throw a lot of it away. Unless you enjoy eating the same meal for the entire week. And I don’t know about you, but I hate tossing food. I just hate it. I’ve seen people who has nothing to eat enough times to make my heart ache every time I have to throw unfinished leftovers in the garbage.

Anyway, whatever the reason is, I decided that as soon as I settle down again I need to change my eating habits. I need to put a little more thought into what I put into my organism. Come on, it’s our bodies I’m talking about here! It’s not just something insignificant. If I don’t feed myself with the necessary vitamins and nutrients that my body needs, if I don’t care about my nutrition, then who will? (Not to mention the fitness factor. But I’m not gonna talk about that now, maybe in a different post…) So I’m already doing some research on how to achieve a better eating habit, and I invite everyone who reads this to do the same.

You don’t need to change everything you eat cold turkey. That might work for some people, and it’s awesome for them, but I’ve tried it before and didn’t succeed. I’m thinking more of a slow change. How about start by planning your meals ahead instead of just grabbing whatever is in front of you when hunger hits you? Or maybe start spreading the total food you eat in a day in more frequent and smaller meals? Another good tip would be to eat the more caloric and heavy food earlier in the day rather than later. At least they will be digested in the periods when your body is functioning more actively. I know it all sounds so obvious, but these are little things to which we rarely pay attention but that could make a lot of difference.

I’m choosing to start with one of the most important things to change. I think it’s safe to say that the majority of the population is in need of this change too. And it’s one of the simplest things ever: drink water. Just like that. Get a glass, fill it with water, and drink it. Simple, fast, easy. Everybody knows that we need to drink 8 glasses of water per day, but how many of us actually drink that? I for one drink way less than that. So that’s what I’m gonna start focusing on: for one week, I’m gonna get a water bottle to carry with me at all times. I’ll put it in my purse. Then if every 1-2 hours I drink a little of water, by the end of the day I’ll have reached my quota. 🙂

Unfortunately, this is one of those things that is easier said than done. And changing habits are not easy, especially when it involves surpassing your own laziness and actually doing something to change your situation. In addition to this, I’m usually really good at starting things like these, but they generally last for a week and then things fall back to the old pattern. That’s why this time I’m breaking it down to various steps, trying one at a time. My idea is that it should be easier to remember that one step you chose. And here is where your creativity should come in handy. Any strategy to help you remember your commitment and carry through with it should be welcome.

So that will be my challenge for this week. Who’s with me?

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A new beginning

So I’m at one of those decisive points of your life. Where a single decision will have various implications, which will lead you to a completely different path had you chosen the other option(s). But unlike the other great change I’ve had in my life two years ago, this time I feel like everyone else around me has also moved on to new directions.

The first big change came when I decided to move to another country. My goal (or should I say excuse?) was to attend and complete a Master’s degree. So, after having lived in the same country, same city, and same apartment for roughly 24 years, I had left everything behind and embarked on this new journey wholeheartedly. (Well, not really, actually. I didn’t just ‘leave’ everything behind as if I didn’t care about it. I just said it that way to add an extra dramaticity to the whole thing. =P And besides, with the advent of the internet, you don’t really need to deny all relations to your past.)

Yes, that was a HUGE step for me. And yes, I’ve learned things and experienced things in the past few years that I never would’ve done if I continued to live the same life I was living. I’ll never forget the transformation I went through. From the frightened little girl arriving in a strange country knowing no one to the more confident young woman searching for her place in the sun.

Now I’m about to leave the place I’ve lived for the last two years to start something new elsewhere. I don’t know where I’m going yet. I don’t know what I’ll be doing then. I don’t know what job I’ll get and what exactly will it entail. All those questions still remain to be answered. And the fact that I kinda have a deadline to get everything figured out scares the crap out of me right now. But I know that, somehow, I’ll pull through. Something will happen. Everything will be alright. But still, it’s easier said than done.

There is a little difference between these two life-changing moments for me, though. On the first time, when I left my country, I felt that everyone else I knew there were continuing with their life. Or, in other words, I felt like my life there was continuing – only without me. Everything I would be doing, everywhere I would be going. It was all still there. Still going on. But I wasn’t there to experience any of it. I was the one who moved away.

But now it’s different. I feel like my life here is over anyway. That it has come full circle by now. Everyone I’ve met here has either moved to different countries – whether temporarily or for good – or has been away for summer. I’ve seen them going, one by one, leaving town and on to their next exciting step. And so will I.

I don’t know if this makes everything easier or not. This time I’m leaving no one behind. I’m somehow free to start afresh. My next page is completely blank, sitting there in all its availability for me to go ahead and start defining it however I want. It feels good. But also feels terrifying. But I’m finally ready to, once again, gather all my most important belongings and go out there. Ready to make new mistakes and learn from them. Ready for “new”. A new beginning.

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