My Playlist of Memories

My Playlist of Memories

We all have that set of songs that send us back to memory lane. There are the songs that we shared with a significant other. There are the songs that got us through the tough times. There are the songs that we used to listen on blast, the ones we used to replay until we got sick of the same old lyrics. There are the songs that bring us back to the most blissful moments. There are the songs that bring us tears from the pain we sometimes don’t realize we’re still holding onto. There are the songs who have become a part of who we are.

That’s what I listened to the other day.

Just A Dream by Nelly was a song I first heard through Christina Grimmie’s and Sam Tsui’s cover on youtube before Cristina went big on The Voice. There’s a certain beat to the song that brings me a kind of joy that coexists with strength. So I travel back down that road. Will she come back? No one knows. I realize, it was only just a dream. If you ever love somebody put your hands up. If you ever love somebody put your hands. And now they’re gone and you wishin you could give them everything.

Angel with a Shotgun by The Cab was a song I liked for a while. I really started loving this song when it turned out my ex-something also loved Nightcore’s version of this song. It became our song. It became something that reminded me of him. One time when we were lying in bed he played the song and, in that moment, I truly felt at home. Even though we had a terrible falling out, this song still reminds me of my first love. They say before you start a war you better know what you’re fighting for. Well baby, you are all that I adore. If love is what you need, a soldier I will be. I’m an angel with a shotgun, fighting til’ the wars won. I don’t care if heaven won’t take me back. I’ll throw away my faith, babe, just to keep you safe.

Let Her Go by Passenger is also an all-time favorite that will always touch my heart. Everyone goes through life not truly knowing what to do. We go through trails of guess and ‘hope it’s right’ as if we’re still middle school kids taking a test on material we clearly didn’t pay attention to, let along study for. So I understand the circumstance of not knowing. But when I listen to this song and it speaks so much about regret and not being more appreciative of what we have in front of us, I can’t help but wonder how many of my past relationship I regret to have lost – or if they even regret to have let me go. There’s a part of me that will always be fond of the old memories and wonder ‘what if it worked out’ or ‘what if I go back’. Only miss the sun when it starts to snow. Only know you love her when you let her go. Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low. Only hate the road when you’re missing home. Only know you love her when you let her go. And you let her go.

Battle Scars by Paradise Fears is a song that I will probably replay over and over as one of my top favorite song until the end of time. I discovered Paradise Fears in high school when the scars on my body really made me insanely insecure and even self-sabotaging. Even though my ex-something at the time constantly reminded me that I can be loved despite all my body’s been through and despite what anyone else says, I found myself playing this song a lot whenever I hit a low point; I found myself gaining a lot of strength from these lyrics. You’ve had enough, but just don’t give up. Stick to your guns, you are worth fighting for. You know we’ve all got battle scars. Keep marching on.

Crash Test Dummy (Broken) by Reed Deming speaks the words a lot of our hearts wonder. We have gotten so used to seeing ourselves mess up and fail that sometimes we forget all the times we were strong and shined. We see all the broken parts, sometimes thinking they’re the worst parts of ourselves, and forget how beautiful and strong we still are. After all, we are truly our worst enemy. I am…insanely…guilty of this and I know it to be true. I will beat myself up over mistakes I made that ended up hurting me more than anyone. I will chew out my own ear (if even possible) about how I am not living up to my parents’ expectations for me. I will cry myself to sleep after telling myself that I am not worth fighting for. And then wonder if anyone will love me and fight myself for me. What if I’m troubled? What if I’m flawed? And what if they all just think I’m a fraud? And what if I’m left without a choice? And what if I like girls? What if boys? And what if I listen to all that they say? They promised forever and then walk away.

I’ll be honest, a lot of the songs that have stuck with me through the past few years are the songs that managed to silence my own demons. They’re the songs that can get me to forget everything running through my mind like a tornado. They’re the songs that help me escape from even my own head and go to a place where the storm has calmed. They’re the songs that have gotten me to where I am today. These songs are who I am.

More songs from my playlist:
Sanctuary by Paradise Fears
Mended by Matthew West
Safe in My Hands by Eli Lieb
Make You Stay by The Girl and The Dreamcatcher
Roses by Shawn Mendes
Written in the Scars by The Script
This Is For You by David Dunn
Shelter (Acoustic) by Nick Howard
Sincerely Me by Artist Vs Poet

If you have the time, give some of these songs a listen and let me know what you think in the comments below. Let me know if they end up touching your heart like they did mine.
Let me know if you want more song recommendations (:

Bits of each song mentioned have been attached to each paragraph above (in italics) respectively

 Song

Advertisements
Phone… Laptop… What About You?

Phone… Laptop… What About You?

I wake up in the morning and reach for my phone. I don’t have a visible clock when it’s dark in my room. Sometimes I scroll past the notifications – messages, emails, reminders, etc. – and sometimes I simply groan at how early it is and lie on my back until I fall asleep again.

When I’m getting ready in the morning, my phone is often playing music that keeps me up and going. I easily fall asleep if I stay in bed. I push past the urge to stay in bed and go to wash my face. Face wash. Acne medication. Brush my teeth. Brush my hair (sometimes). Go get changed and get out of the door.

My phone follows me downstairs, to the car, to school, to work, back home, and goes to sleep by my head on my bed each and every night. It’s the one friend that always sticks by me. I reach for it when I’m walking to and from classes. I check instagram as if it’s a newspaper that gets updated every other minute. I check my messages as if I really get any. I check my email and scroll past the spam. I check the time and the reminders that yell at me to get a real meal.

My phone gives me everything I need. I put everything on my calendar. I put all my reminders into that app. I have connections to my family and friends. I have my emails. I have my instagram. What else do I need?

Well…I went to lunch with my boyfriend and his sister (also a close friend of mine) yesterday. I went on and on in the car. I complained about how loud the music was. I stared out the window, amazed at the sunlight growing through the trees that we pasted by.

I set up a instagram for the new member of their family, Rylee the cockcpoo – @rylee_discoveringlife

We started posting pictures. We went in to get seated. And then shortly after I found all three of us on our phones once more. I silently wished for us to put our phones away and actually be present with each other in the short time that we actually get to spend with one another.

Every time I see my boyfriend, I can never get tired of being in his arms. I latch onto him the second we get some time alone, wanting to be closer to him. I always miss him when we can’t see each other. And when we do, I love the conversations. I love the face-to-face time we actually get. I loved walking up behind him as he washed his hands and hugged him from behind. I loved sitting in the car with him, holding his hand, and just enjoying the music and the sunny sky. I loved being present.

And that’s exactly what I’m missing when I rely on my phone too much. I love being able to put it away but I know I always need to stay updated with my sister and my parents, at least. I love being able to just enjoy the moment and not worry about anything else.

My “New Year’s Resolution”:
1. Spend at least 3 days worth of time (72 hours) a week without my phone. I can listen to music but I have to be disconnected.
2. Spend at least 2 days worth of time (48 hours) a week without my laptop. I can listen to music but I have to be disconnected.
3. Practice my cursive – aim to get better at calligraphy (1 hour a week)
4. Draw a piece of work twice a month
5. Take 20 good photos a month

Let’s see if I can keep this going for the rest of the year!

Life #1. Life #2. Life #3. Life #4.

Life #1. Life #2. Life #3. Life #4.

“Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within.” – Steven Pressfield

When I got into middle school, I started spending hours at my computer writing. Whether it be short stories, potentially novel length stories, poems, songs, simple paragraphs or letters, I would spend hours typing away. I thought of the blank screen as a place in which I could pour out my heart. Being a kid who hadn’t had many people, if any, that I honestly talked to and trusted fully with my raw self, I resorted to expressing myself in other mediums.

That’s when I started to call myself a writer.

When I got into high school, I fell in love with photography and discovered a burning passion I never knew I had for this art. I always wanted to go shoot. I always wanted to take my camera everywhere I went. I became well known because of my camera and my photos. And all of that slowly shaped my vision of the world. A quote I once heard says, “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.” I couldn’t agree more. I stand by this quote.

IMG_9883

Freshman year was when I started calling myself a photographer.

Today, I write. Today, I take photos.

But there will always be a part of me that wonders “what if writing or photography was what I devoted all my life and attention towards?”

We all have a similar question. That’s what I believe is to be my “second” and “third” life. The life of a writer. The life of a photographer. Though I hold both passions close to heart and continue to advance in both mediums at my own speed, the flame within tells me that there could be more.

Sometimes I wonder how happy I would be if I spent hours and hours of the days editing photos and going on photoshoots, if photography was my career. I wonder how many people would see my work, how many hearts my work would touch. Sometimes I fantasize about being a writer whose words make a huge impact in the world and motivated people to change their lives and ways of thinking for the better. I wonder what would have happened if I had followed my heart back when.

But then I look at the life around me, and stop. I love the life I have right now. I have another passion I discovered within my first programming class. I have high hopes for the future and this potentially life-changing career. I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me. I have irreplaceable friends who adore me. I have a better life than I had expected.

After all, this is the life I’m living. If I weren’t happy with it, I wouldn’t be living it.

New Year, New Workout

New Year, New Workout

It had been before I was in middle school that I had been begging my mom to let me take martial arts classes. Learning karate looked awesome on TV, why wouldn’t a child want to learn how to fight? I grew up watching Vietnamese/Chinese movies based on martial arts. I loved Jackie Chan (the Rush Hour series? Twin Dragons?); he was the best! What did my parents expect? As a child, I wanted to learn how to be as badass as the characters I watched in the movies.

Unfortunately, the topic always got rejected when I was younger. We didn’t have the means for the cost. And, as a child who always had problems being active, my parents were scared of me getting hurt. Ultimately, the answer was always ‘no’.

In high school, a couple of my friends were black belts in either one or multiple martial arts. I remember learning how to correctly make a fist, so I wouldn’t hurt my thumb. I slowly learned how to punch and keep my wrist straight. Most days, I would stay back for half an hour after school and “spar” with one of my black belt friends (who always just humored me, and watched out for me so I wouldn’t hurt myself on the concrete). It was a lot of fun. Even though it was a merely for laughs, I enjoyed myself. I remember when he accidentally tripped me and I fell so hard straight onto my back, everyone yelled at him (laughing, of course). I remember getting Everlast wraps during my senior year, which simply collected dust in my closet. I remember having a lot of fun.

Now, in my second year of college, my interest in martial arts sticks. I went to my first taekwondo/karate class with my sister and a family friend (you could call her). The family friend is a second degree black belt and knew this dojo very well. We went to our first class for free, to see if we liked the class enough to sign up. The master was very welcoming and very friendly. I was learning how to kick correctly when he came over and put his hand in front of me so I had a target; I kept kicking too low. I eventually kicked his hand, a little too hard, too! He looked over at my family friend and jokingly yelled, “Stacy, you brought dangerous people!” Everyone laughed. Next time we went over kicks, he brought out a mat/shield (I don’t know what they’re called) that would block my kicks and punches so he wouldn’t get hurt. It was such an entertaining as well as demanding class! I was sore for two days afterwards!

Just the other day, I went to my first kickboxing class at ilovekickboxing with my sister and her boyfriend. I was very nervous for my first day on the mat. Not only did I have a tight schedule that day with class and work, and work and kickboxing overlapping a little, but I know I am terribly out of shape. I arrived right on time to the kickboxing class and went in to get paperwork filled out. One of the leaders, who lead warm ups, handed me my gloves and I borrowed some wraps from my sister. The warm up reminded me of PE in middle school, except WORSE! It was just jogging around the mat, but push ups and sit ups and burpees and lunges and squats and planks and “spiderman climbs” and everything else you could think of all mixed together. I had to take so many breaks to drink water or else I probably would have had a completely dry mouth at the end of warm ups. THEN, CAME THE FUN PART. I learned how to punch with my gloves and do roundhouse kicks. I was so excited that I could finally go all out and punch my hardest and kick my hardest without much worry of hurting anyone! I was having so much fun that I wanted to get a punching bag when I got home that night! I barely took into account how much my arms felt like jello. I can’t wait to go back! Good thing I paid for two more classes already.

I know I’ve had my difficulties with being active and “in-shape” but being able to go out there and be active has been a lot of fun. Not only has it been a stress reliever but it makes me feel a lot healthier. I really hope my schedule continues to allow me to do things like this.

If anyone has any workout tips, let me know!

Swim. Don’t Drown.

Swim. Don’t Drown.

“The shark that doesn’t swim drowns.”
“Akula, kotorya Ne plavayet, Ne tonet.”

It’s been four years since I started to get questions about my future career. It’s been four years of pressure to get into a field that has a good payment, and a good reputation. And, honestly, I hadn’t gotten anywhere until a few months ago.

Since the beginning, I felt as if I was always facing a white canvas not knowing what the heck to do about it. I looked out into the world through a broken glass, unsure where to go next that won’t backfire. But, instead in the mist of asking others what they think I would be good at, I had forgotten to ask myself where I want to be in life. And, for that, I stood still for those years.

I didn’t venture out to see what opportunities I could have. With all the questions and the pressures to go into one field versus any of the others, I simply closed up in a shell where all I saw was darkness. I didn’t think I could live up to be what my parents wanted me to be. I didn’t believe I could do anything that would be worth of them bragging about me. Most importantly, I didn’t believe there would be a place for me to stand in the world when I grew up.

I started to lose parts of myself I was always defined by. I began to loose sight of what I had always wanted to do in life: be happy while making a difference. I started believing the words people yelled my way that told me I wasn’t worthy of the traits I held close to heart, or that they weren’t good enough in order to give me a good reputation. All the words, all the comments, all the pressures from everyone around me did the opposite of encouragement.

It wasn’t until I got away from what others had to say. I started going to school more; I ditched the old study room in which I felt trapped and trading it for a clean library desk where I felt impossibly free. I went back to my roots; I started picking up the pieces of myself I knew were worthy despite what anyone else had to say. I began exploring my options and talking to people who didn’t have a biased opinion that pressured me to walk down any certain path. I started swimming.

In my eyes, it wasn’t until then that I truly felt like myself. Before, it was always about reputation; it was always about how others perceived us to be. There was never any room for me to grow on my own because the person I was supposed to grow up to be was already molded and framed in my parents’ mind. I couldn’t learn from my own mistakes, because everything had always been planned out and simply told to me to execute. I wasn’t being me, no, I wasn’t being human; I was simply a robot.

Now, a year since I’ve turned away from being cooped up in a cage and a few months since I uncovered a part of myself I knew was always there, I feel whole. I feel independent; I can take care of myself and I can get through by myself. I feel like I have a chance at everything the world has to offer as long as I go out there and achieve the best I can. I look into the mirror and, though I might not have everything figured out, I can see the girl I was always meant to be.

I’m finally working towards the future, my future. And I couldn’t be more proud.

To the world:
I am a face. I am a person. I am a stranger without a name.
I am one without a backstory. I am one without a history, because no one knows it yet.
I am someone behind a screen. I am one more person to worry about. I am another who needs money to survive.

To the ones who see me:
I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am a sister. I have a name.
I am a student. I am still young. I am growing up. I am “old enough”.
I am a girl. I can be a wife. I can be a mother, a mother who has a son.
I am a mystery. I am someone to be intrigued by. I have a story. I have a life.

To my friends:
I am a hard worker. I am dedicated. I am passionate. I am caring.
I am considerate. I am thankful. I am grateful. I am helpful.
I am someone who struggles. I am someone who has problems. I am someone who deals with life.
I am a writer. I am a photographer. I am an engineering major. I am someone dedicated to STEM.
I am still learning. I am still figuring things out. I am still exploring the world that surrounds.

To my parents:
I am a daughter who has been through too much. I am the youngest of two. I am the little princess of the family.
I am closed off. I am distant. I am everything they taught me to be.
I am confusing. I am difficult. I am stubborn like a bull. I am a time bomb waiting to explode.
I am precious. I am delicate. I am not capable of handling my own health.
I am a stranger in both the two houses in which I have lived in.

To me:
I am a warrior. I am a fighter. I am a survivor. I am not one to mess with.