Sunday, January 29, 2012

all will be well

Señor, me has mirado a los ojos,
sonriendo has dicho mi nombre.
En la arena he dejado mi barca:
junto a Ti buscaré otro mar.
(Pescador de Hombres)

I've been meaning to update for a while but haven't had the chance.  With the spring semester starting, things have managed to get very busy very fast but I can't complain!  It was an interesting start to say the least but I'm incredibly happy to say that I'm making some big changes in my life and that I'm more excited than I can adequately express about what's in store for me in the future.

My classes this semester are absolutely wonderful, let me tell you.  We just completed our first full week of classes and I am incredibly pleased with my course selections this spring.  Typically, since I'm a double major in English and Spanish Language/Literature, I balance my course load with two classes for each major.  This semester, however, I'm taking three Spanish classes and one English seminar so the dynamic is entirely different.  My Spanish classes are amazing... I'm taking a modern Spanish literature survey course, a course on la Ciudad de México and a writing intensive literature course themed "Selva, fronteras y dioses antiguos."  My instructors are fantastic and clearly very enthusiastic about the subjects they teach.  Although the amount of reading I have to do has certainly increased, it's been surprisingly enjoyable to explore the body of Spanish literature and I look forward to continuing my studies in the next the year and a half and well on into graduate school.

Besides that, I've continued my involvement in my pet project, El Club de Español, and my editor position in the Berkeley Fiction Review.  What's even more exciting though is that this semester, I'm facilitating my very own course through the English department!  My friend Rachel and I are offering a two-unit course devoted to the NBC Thursday lineup (The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock).  We had our first class this last Tuesday and it was so much fun!  It's so refreshing to know there are other TV enthusiasts out there just like me and that I now have a forum in which I can discuss some of my favorite shows on a regular basis.  I look forward to the talks we're going to have this semester and if all goes well, I plan to teach it again in the fall.

On a more personal level though, I've decided to step back and really evaluate some things in my life... It's been a long-time coming but it needed to be done.  I stumbled across a quote today that sums things up perfectly: "You can't start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading the last one."  The truth is I've held on quite tightly to several situations and relationships that in reality are not good at all for me and have left me with more self-destructive tendencies than I care to admit.  Fortunately, all is not lost and I have the opportunity in letting go to allow the Lord, in my patience, to give me something even better than what has come and gone.  I made a much over-due trip to Confession this weekend and I'm beginning to see that I have so much control over the progression of my life and my own happiness.  A good friend of mine recently told me, "Even if it hurts, people come into our lives for one reason or another.  We touch the lives of each other and then we learn the hard lessons with people that are not so nice to us."  I've spent enough time letting myself be held back by one thing or another and I look forward to seeing how God's plan unfolds for me.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying my time here at Berkeley, my classes, my friends, and the time I'm able to spend with my family at home when school permits.

A lovely hymn from Mass this morning ties things together quite nicely: 
"All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well!"

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Codfish Creek Falls

This past week, my friend Wil and I drove up to Codfish Creek Falls to explore and hike the trail there.  I haven't gone hiking since I worked up at Camp Pendola as a camp counselor two summers ago so it was nice to get back out there.  The pictures above are only a glimpse of the scenery but the beauty of the area is astounding.  It's such an incredibly different environment from the city life that I'm used to during the majority of the year.  Needless to say, it was a relaxing experience and I made sure to take a few moments in prayer to thank God for the opportunity for some peace.

I head back to Berkeley tomorrow to start another semester of school.  Frankly, I'm in denial--I'm not entirely thrilled about going back and I'm a bit nervous about my workload this semester.  At the same time though, once I transition back to life at school, it will be nice to get into a routine again.  In the meantime, prayers are much needed and certainly much appreciated.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


I don't think I ever put much stake in the idea until now, but they say, when you say something often enough, it starts to ring true, at least in your own mind.  Truth be told, I'm an incredibly stubborn person--it's not at all my best quality, of course, but it's something I have to admit about myself.  Unfortunately, the downside to such a characteristic is that not only can it affect my interactions with others but in a lot of ways, it also has an impact on how I view myself and my own life.  I have nasty habit of convincing myself that something is right for me and sticking to that initial judgment, thus accepting something that in actuality might not be the proper fit and/or rejecting something much better suited for me.  I've touched on this problem in earlier entries and I realize that it's a bigger deal than I previously thought, especially when it causes me to compromise my own happiness.  It's one thing to ride through the tough parts of life and accept challenges because they are an unavoidable growing exercise but it's quite another to subject yourself to unnecessary hardship with the hope that things will eventually work themselves out.

I have to be completely honest with myself and own up to the fact that in the last two years or so, on more than one occasion, I have compromised a lot of who I am, what I value and what I know is right.  I look back on some of my decisions and to be frank, I am ashamed, not only because I did something wrong, knowing full well that it wasn't an intelligent choice, but because in the end, that decision blew up in my face and left me in a worse position than I was at the start.  What's worse is that a lot of the mistakes I have made in the last year especially have been because I wanted to please another person and I think that's what puts up the biggest red flag and bothers me the most.

Typically, I am not a people person and often times, if someone doesn't treat me well, I write them off as unimportant and cut my losses.  However, returning to the issue of these plans I tend to make for myself, if a person is part of what I've already mapped out for the future, I take a lot more abuse, so to speak, than I would have endured otherwise.  I try to take meaning from these disappointments and I have on several occasions, quite irrationally, of course, imagined myself as a martyr figure, taking these sufferings on with the hope that there will be some pay-off at the end for being so patient.  The problem with such behavior though is that there have been times that I've wanted others to change so badly that I have neglected the parts of my life that I can change.  I forget that I can't change them but I can change myself--I can control my own actions and ultimately, my own happiness.

None of this is to say that now that I've come to this realization I can enjoy my very own pity party and lament all of the mistakes and missed opportunities I've had over the years, rather I see it as a chance to rejoice.  I look at where I am and yes, some things are not at all what I expected, but I've been incredibly blessed and I know I have a bright future ahead of me.  I've spent a lot of time very upset about all that I feel I have lost and for the most part, such grieving has not been at all productive.  I deserve to be happy and I have to be honest with myself for once and admit that for much of the last two years, I have not been truly happy with my life (even if I've tried to convince myself that I was).  When I face that reality, even if it is a bit harsh, I realize that a joy much greater awaits me. I feel uplifted and capable of success, calm and ready to glorify God through the talents He has given me.  I've punished myself enough with pining and other self-destructive tendencies--now I need to move forward to accomplish greater feats.

This week, my family gave up one of our dogs after seeing how badly he injured one of our other dogs.  None of us wanted to do it and of course, it was painful, seeing as we have had him for at least ten years, but witnessing the healing process our other dog is now undertaking, that pain is less severe.  I see in this incident, although small in scale, a similar opportunity for my own healing and my own future.  It hurts more than I care to admit to remove the aspects of my life that have proven to be unhealthy, but when I take a deep breath and envision the path now opened up to me, I feel so relieved.

I am a child of God, beautiful and strong, created in His image with the capability of accomplishing some wonderful things in my life.  The more I tell myself that and accept its truth, the more clearly I can see how bright the future is that awaits me.  I don't know what that future entails, where it will take me or what exactly I'll do, but I know that God is good and He will provide for me, no matter what.  It feels incredible to be in a place where I can say that, even if it's been a bit of a challenge to arrive there, but I'm here and all that remains is to go forward.