The Defense Mechanism of Being “Okay.”

I have written so many things about life encouragement. Sometimes pouring hope into my words is the only thing that convinces me to go on, like they have a magical pull that will keep my spirit up. However, on most days it is just about being okay- going through boring routines- not being sad nor happy, just a blank slate.

It is the human way of staying sane.

We are mostly driven by the power of our emotions. These are fueled by our energies, and being just “okay,” is the act of our body to defend itself. It keeps it surviving, recognizing that this stagnant stage is for renewing energy.

It is though, a different story when you become so steady that all your emotions- including rage- are pent up inside you. This paves way for overwhelming reactions that are not good for you and the people around you. Acknowledging that these emotions are part of you makes it easier for you to gain control over how to express them, but sometimes, like I have said, not saying anything is also just enough.

People have the misconception that being “okay” is a bad thing, like it is you settling for less and not having the drive to yearn more in life when actually being “okay” is the way to contention- and what is life if not the search for what will make one content?

Being just “okay” means that you are in touch with reality and have acceptance of how your life flows, but it should not mean that “okay” is enough.

I know I got you confused there. Let me explain more.

“Okay” should only be a stage of reflection. It should not be permanent.

Our feelings, and life in general is not a one way line- it is a cycle. In a cycle, when one gets stuck in one stage, it becomes meaningless and unable to move forward.

Being just “okay” is the breaks in between the ups and downs, allowing you to transition into them. Humans will be unfulfilled without the purpose of seeking for something, and in that our emotions should be exercised in all ways. We need to feel pain in order to feel happy. We need to feel angry in order to feel peace. We need all the contrasts and we need “okay” to go between them.

So if you are just “okay” right now, take your time, but remember- there will always be something after, and if that exhausts you, you can always take a break and just be “Okay.”

It is Not A Cinderella Story: The Reality of Poverty

The pandemic has taken over the world and made it halt- but it cannot stop the graduation season. Countless of stories of success flood your social media timelines, mostly of people who have made it despite of setbacks. How the world loves to romanticize sufferings- the inspiring drama makes us teary eyed and hopeful. We uplift the people who we think have made it in their harsh lives, and it is in our human nature to sympathize.

Poverty should not be romanticized.

Rags to riches is one of the most popular storylines because it shows that if they can, why can’t you? We worship these even though we are well aware of the facts that only one in a million make it while the rest of us scrap by. We fail to realize that we shouldn’t be inspired by such because opportunities and wealth are equally distributed in an ideal society. We are so accepting of this broken system that we applaud those who reach the finish line, without even thinking about why their roads are bumpier than ours.

We talk about a child who climbs mountains just to get to school. We talk about girls who fight back for their educational rights. We talk about kids who are forced to endure hunger while in class. We talk about them like they are normal, but the real question is why is this all even happening in the first place?

For every one person who gets their Cinderella story, thousands in the world suffer. It is never about the effort you put in, but it is more about how their levels are only on 10 while yours is 100. No matter how hard they try, they will always just reach a 10 while you look down on them from your 20th and mock them because the climb has already taken a toll on them.

Perhaps on the evolution of human beings, we have been conditioned to accept hierarchy like it is part of us. We forget that we are the ones who created it in the first place, these invisible lines that make visible impact in our lives. The more we are advanced, the more our gaps widen. It is no wonder that those who find their eyes open to the many imperfections of the society are still trying to make their voices heard, because the truth is, we have not resolved anything fully. We are still bound by prejudices. We are still in this pyramid and the bigger it gets, the more the foundation widens- the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

The true way to success is not through hardwork- it is through the right opportunity.

That’s the only answer.

A man can plow his land and it still would not grow him crops simply because he has a bad land. Why doesn’t he change the land then? Well, he simply can’t because he is on an island. He can perhaps grow other things, but would it be the same as a man who has rich soil on good land? It would never be. Should he be just satisfied with what he is given then?

We try to justify it with contentment. It is true that happiness only comes when you decide it for yourself, and you can only be satisfied when you are contented. Again, we are so accepting of how broken our society is that hope is the thing that keeps us in check.

The greatest lesson to all this is that we should realize how much privilege plays. You may think that you are just doing average, or even barely making it, but only when you see the real face of poverty in the eyes of those who are on the streets, hungry and lost, will you find yourself accepting of how the right chances got you to be lucky. We should always remember kindness and be the opportunity that someone needs to make a change in their lives, then perhaps in that we can all change the world.

Life Thoughts

I have come to a realization that you can only know the real world once you have seen it through the eyes of those who suffered most. To what degree, though, one might say, because there is no way we can judge the suffering of each one and justify it as greater than the others. Some see it in wars, some in poverty, some in silence battles that hide behind masks of glittering images. Pain, in every way it is, is still pain. In this common ground you will find how the human heart relates with each other, because there is no greater comfort than knowing you are not alone.

To see it, one must take the journey of looking back to memories they have longed buried and relive the experience. Be in that feeling again; the hurt, the pain, the hopelessness, and remember how it made you to be who you are now. Remember that you have this, and other people go through the other things that can account for it. You have scars on your heart, others have it on their minds. You might have a fresh wound now, others might have already had it for years and yet the pain haunts them like a lost limb.

When one understands, then it becomes clear what the answer is- kindness. Kindness is so rarely pure, and bless those who have them so genuinely. Often it is developed from regrets, from guilt, from making amends. Are we to judge then if it is still considered as good? Kindness is a good virtue- but I say no. Kindness, no matter its form, will always be kindness.

Let kindness grow from your own pain, then perhaps, this world would get the change it needs. However, it is mostly wishful thinking for we know that with free will comes cruelty and injustice. Then I must revise; let kindness grow from your own pain, then perhaps, one’s life would get the change it needs- your own, or another’s, and then maybe both.

There is no greater thing than growing kindness and letting it bloom. // hrh

Humanity For The Rest of 2020

Halfway through 2020 and we have gone (and still going through) with the following:

  • Wild Fire in Australia; destroyed the ecosystem
  • Tensed War in the Middle East; Iran vs USA after an Iranian General was killed in Iraq
  • Coronavirus spread from Wuhan, China
  • Brexit- United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union
  • Locusts destroyed crops in Africa
  • Looting and Rioting in the USA against Racism

This is, of course, not to include the issues that we have long faced and have now intensified:

  • Unemployment rate rises as economies strain from impact of the virus
  • Healthcare systems collapse
  • Poverty is on high toll
  • Education systems transition from physical to online learning strain on 3rd world countries

We all had our hopes for 2020. According to Numerology, 2020 calls for positive outlook in preparation for the changes that will occur. The consequences gets worst as you go down the social ladder, as money has played the part of being the cushion of power versus impending doom. Several (if not unlimited) options are for the rich- the poor only think of surviving, while the middle class remains the backbone of the economy.

Six months in and there is no saying that it will get better soon, in fact, the future is set to bring more challenges that will yank humanity out of the normal routine we are used to. Expect more eruptions to come that will shake us to our core, but it will also come to stop. The timeline is unknown, but I have finally foreseen a positive possibility. When this comes, we have to seize it and learn our lessons from the events that crushed us.

It is the time for us to destroy the social triangle and make it a circle instead. We need to pay kindness forward to survive the rest to come. It must start with us; You, the ordinary man, in order to break this cycle. The rich may hold sway in this world, but we hold the real power. We are the laborers, the minds, the ideas, the actions. We are the ones who can make an impact and start the positive effect. I cannot say that we can cleanse the world of our prejudices; this is something that we should continue fighting for throughout the generations  as it is honed into our characters and we cannot just expect that tomorrow will be perfect. But at least- at least we have stood up against it and create the chain of action that will put an end to it in the future. If you have privileges, whether it be by money, race, or identity- this is the call for you to know your role.

In your own way, make the change. Ask for the change. Be the change.

The Art of Lucid Dreaming

Every night, as my body falls asleep, my soul is awake, aware that it is in a dream. I usually see events unfold from a first person point of view with limited physical control, with my mind following the dream as it is to see if it has a message for me. I let the dream take over, and only interfere with it on times when I feel like I might be stuck in it or if it turns into a nightmare.

Facts say that we humans always dream, but most of us forget about it when we wake up. Ever since I was a kid, I would always have a recollection of what I have dreamed about the night before as I wake up every day. Sometimes I would get a whole episode, sometimes just fragments, although I cannot seem to remember everything. I have ignored this, thinking it was normal, and never questioned why my dreams seem to be real.

I don’t recall when I first heard about lucid dreaming, it’s just that I was amazed that there was a term for it and that it was rare. I researched about it over the years to fully understand it, there was even a time I tried to interpret almost every dream I would have. It made me more anxious and tired, as I would be stressing about what signs in my dream would mean and if it was bound to happen in my already challenging life. I learned that some people would even see themselves sleeping, and I was totally freaked when that first happened to me. I try not to do it again in fear of not being able to go back to my own body, I think that’s why most of my dreams are first person view. I don’t think I can even imagine what my reflection looks like in a dream, a defensive tactic I have developed to avoid seeing myself from another perspective.

The best dreams are the ones that seem so out of the world but yet feel so real. I have flown once, and I remember how vivid it was; how ecstatic the feeling of flying was like the superheroes I watch on TV. I remember waking up to aching legs, because in my dream the pressure of flying was made from one’s legs. I do not know how to swim in real life, but I had some dreams where I would be able to breathe underwater. I was living my fantasies while I slept.

However, as my eyes close and darkness captures me, it can also follow me into the other worlds I see. I have had encounters in which I had to force my physical body awake by thinking about which body parts I can easily move first, like my toes or fingers. I have tried to avoid these by not watching horror films before sleeping, as I tend to relive nightmares.

Perhaps lucid dreaming is my way of searching for the void I feel whenever I am awake, but the truth is sometimes I also yearn for a dreamless sleep where I can fully rest.  I don’t think I remember a time where I just.. slept.

 

 

Human Cloning: A Discovery We Should Not Pursue

unnamed

The human race has come a long way. Our hunger for knowledge never ends, and the more we discover, the longer the path gets. Every day, a new idea gets developed, a new theory proven, and a new product invented or enhanced. The constant change in this world and our ability to adapt to it is the core of our survival.

It is always been our goal to discover things for our convenience. The subject of cloning has been explored by scientists as an option to prolong human life. Several studies and successful experiments have been conducted on animals. It was in 1996 when the first mammal was cloned through cell cloning. Dolly the sheep lived for six years, and her embryo was created by taking a cell from her biological mother and inserting it in a sheep ovum.

However, the question still remains to be seen on whether we can now clone humans. The closest things we have to biological creation is IV treatment and surrogate, helping parents with physical issues conceive and have children.

As of today, we can only explore possibilities through science fiction movies and literature. Story lines are often about how human clones are made to support organ harvesting and surrogacy. We have been trying to prolong human life ever since the peak of technology and so far we have been successful. Today’s mortality rate is about 70 years compared to the lifespan of people from 100 years ago, thanks to our advancement in medicine and technology. Is there, then, a need for us to create an exact replica of ourselves to only harvest them for the anatomy we need? Do we really need to create copies of ourselves? Are the copies we create still us, or are they different, albeit with the same DNA structure?

If we can produce clones, what’s to say we cannot engineer our genetics? We already have the capabilities to make unnatural changes to ourselves, though most of them are only physical. We can now change our sex, change our physical structures- but what if we can also alter our DNAs to create abilities beyond human? Cloning opens many possibilities in scientific research. When we are able to replicate DNA, what stops us from creating and enhancing it? We might accidentally have beings who are human but so different from us in a way that they have powers we have only imagined.

Mutation is our bodies’ answer to the change around us in order to equip our race with change. Natural evolution shows how different species have survived through mutation, and how most are extinct because of their inability to adapt. The human race, being at the top, with our critical and logical thinking being our greatest assets in survival, has not even stopped evolving yet, since we are the only beings capable of riding with the current of change.

The more we explore and enjoy our convenience, the more ways we end the human race. Viruses emerge, the climate is changing rapidly, and we have weapons at our disposal that can wipe places off the map. We are more divided than ever- with unending wars being fought because of borders, race, inequality. Human cloning can solidify gaps in the society in ways of who can afford it and who can produce it.

The greatest fear we should consider in human cloning is that that replica of you can replace you, but who’s to say that it’s still you? Since they are genetically engineered, will they be better than us? What will happen if they decide that their purpose isn’t what just we have for them, but that they want their own lives? Is it humane to create clones without giving them rights, and only considering them as science products? Is it not the same as also harvesting our fellow humans, because with their biological make up, despite of how they were made, they are still humans.

It will be an unending debate, but as of today there are no discoveries that are publicly announced that human cloning is possible.

Perhaps what makes us human is our limitations, but going beyond also made us what we are now. The human race will never end, we will just always shape into what is required of us, and of us in the present, all we can do is imagine and hope that we still retain our humanity throughout our journey in the future.

Studies:

Lassen, J.; Gjerris, M.; Sandøe, P. (2005). “After Dolly—Ethical limits to the use of biotechnology on farm animals,” A study on the successful cloning attempt on mammals

Hanover, R. (2019). “The Similars,” A dystopian YA novel on human clones

Ready, Get Set, GOAL!

We all know a certain philosophy- but not all of us live by it. We come across inspiring words and stories almost daily, thanks to the powers of social media. The world today seems to increase its pace, and the question is, where are you now?

· Think

Many of our life decisions are based on a pulse feeling, so it’s a good practice to think about what you really want. This also allows you to know yourself better, and in knowing yourself better you learn how to prioritize and organize.

· Believe

You are the only one who can set the limits. Be confident, the world is out there for you to conquer. It may be a tough battle, and not all of us get the luck. However, don’t stop yourself from aiming to be better than always. A little growth over time goes a long way.

· Act

Your dreams will stay as dreams unless you take a step to reach them. Be patient in working for them, for nothing happens overnight. Remember that you can build your life the way you want it to, so you better do the best.

Time flies fast as you grow old, and in some moments you come to a point where you start to rethink your life over. Usually, this leads you to the road of regrets, frustrations, and hesitations- making you feel like you haven’t done enough- so it’s now time to get up on the other side of the bed and live the life.

 

photo: Oscar Söderlund: https://unsplash.com/@messisorder

Unmasking the Masked: The Reality of Anxiety

My dear readers, this is a tale.

Once upon a time, there was a young woman in her early 20s. She has achieved a lot in life- with her adventurous college years coming to end with her greatest achievement: with honors. She has worked hard enough to battle poverty to finally come to a place where her career takes off for her to be stable.

She has been through a lot, with so many scars to mark her battles, that the concept of mental illness is so foreign to her. She believes that you can control your mind to handle pressure; it is just a matter of who has enough will to do so. And boy, she was really confident in hers.

Until one day, that is, a series  of unfortunate events has made her, one of the greatest warriors, to admit defeat.

First, the denial. You think of other illnesses that may be associated with what is happening to your body. There are times when you feel sick and unable to eat, or how your heart palpitates and you can’t breathe. The tests will usually come back fine with no alarming results, leaving the doctors puzzled because they can see that there is still something wrong with you.

I did not expect that it will also be the trigger to other health issues as well, but that’s just the thing with anxiety- the more you deny it, the more it makes its presence known, like a weed that grows no matter how much you try to make your garden appear perfect. It is frustrating that it gnaws on you when you fight it out.

I was filled with anger and pity. You look for events and people to blame. You backtrack on happenings and ask yourself why you; because no matter how much try to calm down, you just can’t. You end up pointing the finger back to yourself as nobody will ever get what it feels like and it’s probably your fault. It drains you of your dreams, snuffing out the light and leaving you in the dark with your worst thoughts. It drowns you with doubt, and you can’t float even when you know how to swim.

A mixture of feelings, a roller coaster ride. It is exhausting, not only to your soul and mind but to your body. It never lies, but you pretend anyway. You pretend that it is just one of the other sickness that you have. You pretend it is nothing; when indeed it is everything. Poor you, so alone, in a world where your downfall will not be justified or recognized because there will always be someone who has it worst that you and you should be thankful.

Thankful, for your threshold breaking, a threshold that should I remind you is different for each one of us, and is therefore immeasurable. If it were that simple, we shouldn’t even be having these problems in the first place.

The acceptance is made after long hours at the hospital, going from doctor to doctor and experiments to verify that it is indeed what it is. Even in our progressive world, we are still so sensitive about giving the final stamp to any mental illness, especially ones that are easily claimed when one is in distress or sad. We label our moments, normal humane moments that showcase our feelings with terms that should deserve attention than just not being okay.

As a working adult, you learn how to deal with the meetings on your own. I don’t know if I love the long hallways at the hospital, or if it feels a little too crowded with everyone having anyone else. It is quite a shame to check yourself in or to practically drag yourself to the hospital in the midst of a panic attack, with your work clothes on looking so important, your coat so crisp, and yet you are like a child again, holding your chest because you just can’t breathe.

I think, the hardest has been seeing the way your doctors look at you because they know your condition. They are not puzzled with it like others are, and as professionals they recognize that you are probably tired. It becomes a little bit easier to accept it after that. They ask you about your job, your lifestyle, trying to pinpoint the cause why you are breaking down at such age- and deep inside, you know but refuse, of course, to share it with anybody else.

And then the treatment. I cannot say it is healing; maybe my anxiety itself does not recognize it. I have, though, learned that the best way to deal with it is to know that it is an endless battle you face every single day. That’s the thing with mental illness- when your mind is sick, you cannot just target the sickness and expect it to be done. The drugs, yes, they do help. I have been fascinated by how even experts are reluctant to prescribe sedatives, but it’s a name I have lived with. Sedatives to calm you down, sedatives to make you sleep, just the right amount. Not too much, not too little, for the mind is already fragile. It is already broken, held on together with the tapes you put on it every time you overcome the struggle of a breakdown. The lines are visible; they are there, they will never fade.

You continue with life as it is. You go to work daily to sustain your expenses. Some days, you feel free of it- hopeful even- but in truth it is a chain that you must carry and learn how not to let it suffocate you. It is definitely okay to say you’re not okay- a cliché, perhaps, but the most useful one.

People with anxiety wear masks all the time, because we have to show face that we are still fighting, still living, still breathing; even when sometimes, we find that we are out of it.

It is about embracing that you are flawed and you will be for the rest of time- but broken things are often so beautiful, are they not?

// hrhjeshea

3 Reasons to Check Out Redmond 

sample

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Redmond, Washington is one of the most beautiful cities on the West Coast. Not only does Redmond boast a number of restaurants and shops, but the area is also a great place for families as well. People who live in Redmond will tell you that the sense of community in the city is one of the biggest things that makes the area such a great place to live. Whether you’re thinking about purchasing one of the Redmond houses for sale or are simply planning a trip there, here are three main reasons to check out Redmond. 

A Fun and Vibrant Downtown Scene 

One of the best things about Redmond is the exciting life the downtown area brings. With tons of restaurants, cafes and shops to choose from, Redmond makes a great place to go on a date or catch up with an old friend. Downtown Redmond is also known for being extremely walkable, and many of the city’s residents choose to walk to work or school rather than drive. The city also has a popular transit center, which provides easy access to nearby cities like Seattle. Downtown Redmond is especially popular among the millennial set, as living downtown provides a fun social scene and close access to bars and restaurants. 

Bicycling is Big 

Being that Redmond is so easy to get around in, many of the locals enjoy bicycling rather than driving each day. There are tons of bike lanes and trails that will take you just about anywhere you need to go in the city, and the city was even designated as a “Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists! The city of Redmond recently added “green” bike lanes throughout the city, as a way to promote biking over other modes of transportation. If you’re looking for a city that puts personal health and the environment first, Redmond may be the place for you. 

A Rich Culture 

One of the main things Redmond is known for is being home to the Microsoft headquarters. Tech fanatics of all kinds have been flocking to Redmond for years because of this, as well as the other cultural experiences the city has to offer. Aside from Microsoft, Redmond also boasts a number of theaters and performing arts centers, perfect for catching a play or listening to live music. On any given day, there is always something going on in Redmond, whether it’s a live poetry reading, wine tasting, or other cultural event. The rich culture and diverse local scene is just one of the things that makes Redmond so great, and definitely worth checking out if you’re ever in the area.

Louvre, Abu Dhabi: Art Beyond

 “Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” – Chuck Klosterman

There is much joy in finding yourself lost among works of expression. I have always loved art and consider myself an artist at heart, and my greatest dream is to visit Europe to see the great works of the masters for myself.

Paris is still a too far destination to consider, and I can say that I am lucky enough that the United Arab Emirates aim to bring in everything grand from all over the world to this side of the Gulf. I was excited that they have created their own Louvre here in Abu Dhabi.

The structure is an architectural piece itself, designed by Pritzer Price-winning architect Jean Nouvel, as inspired by the concept of a medina, the quarter of the Arab cities during the ancient times. The silvery dome is comprised of 7,850 stars of complex geometric pattern, and is a wonder to behold as the light hits it in a million ways.

I visited the museum during the first week of October, and the weather was just enough not to sweat all over. This is the first thing you’d have to consider when you live in the UAE. The museum is all fully air-conditioned, but you will best enjoy the dome around sunset when the beautiful golden rays hit the roof and the waters that surround the building, as it is placed by the sea.

There was not that much of a crowd yet, and it does add some allure to the museum. I do feel like there was so much space that needed to be filled with ancient wonders, and some of the displays were even closed, much to my disappointment. I was rather looking forward to seeing the painting of Vincent Van Gogh, but sadly that exhibition was closed and the nice attendant who comforted me said that they were bringing in new pieces by the end of the year. I made sad faces and begged them to show me the best ones they have so far.

The museum is divided into different sections per category. There was a mummy display for Egyptian artifacts, statues from ancient Greece and Rome, and pots and ceramics from Mid-Asia.  The main highlight, though, was the paintings.

Ancient Greece art on marble
Mother Scolding her Daughter (pun intended)
The Sarcophagus of Egyptian Princess Hanuttawy

I am, though, sorry to say that they do not have Salvator Mundi on display. The most expensive auctioned painting in the world (a whopping $450 million) was purchased at Christie’s for the Louvre Abu Dhabi. The rumored buyer was Saudi Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud, an ally of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, gifted to the royal family of Abu Dhabi for the Louvre. It was in official talk to be displayed, but they have postponed it and no further announcement has been made.

It is never the Louvre without a work from Da Vinci, though, and like its counterpart in Paris, the star is a painting of a woman, entitled “La Belle Ferroniere,” with its alluring smile like Mona Lisa. I often wonder if Da Vinci has modeled them after one woman. I do hope they bring more of his art in.

“La Belle Ferroniere,” Leonardo da Vinci

There were also some prominent works on display:

“Madonna and Child,” Giovanni Bellini
img_3582-2
“Portrait of William Welby and His Wife Penelope playing Chess,” Francis Cotes
“Napoleon Crossing the Alps,” Jacques-Louis David
“Number 26 A, Black and White,” Jackson Pollock
“Portrait of a Woman,” Pablo Ruiz Picasso

It is quite an amazing experience to see things from the past, like somehow the pieces are a reminder of the beauty they once held, and of how they just increase their value over time. Louvre Abu Dhabi also has exciting events they host to encounter people to engage in the museum’s activities, like drawing week and multicultural performances.

I believe that over time, it will develop a culture of its own with the art in it finally at home. I am willing to visit it again next time and hope that they open the other galleries by then.

Tickets are priced at 60 AED per head for adults, while visitors between the ages of 13 and 22 can enter for 30 AED. It is located on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, open from 10am to 8pm from Saturdays to Wednesdays, and from 10am to 10pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and closed on Mondays. You may visit their website at https://www.louvreabudhabi.ae/ for more details.