A Eudaimon Life

Happiness: I’ve found myself feeling a lot of it recently. Whether it’s at the gym, discussing a topic with several of my philosophy friends, or just hanging out with my boyfriend, I find myself in a state of harmonic contentment; everything seems to be falling into place. Everything feels right.

I’ve made some changes in my life over the past few months that seem to be pushing me in the right direction, leading me to a place where everything I do, I feel invested in. All of my activities seem to be for some greater end, rendering them all worth doing.

Finding my purpose in life is a constant struggle that I enjoy grappling with every single day. Philosophy has played a huge role in this pursuit, giving me the intellectual freedom I have so often craved. I seem to be in a state of flow every time I pursue my thoughts (which exist in multitudes at a time, let me assure you) and do something that furthers my ability to do so (i.e. working hard in classes to get a degree so I can do research). I suppose my goal in life is to be in a constant state of flow where I enjoy everything I do. Maybe this is too idealistic, but it is a goal nonetheless.

Once I have that goal in mind, I can take small actions every day to pursue smaller goals whose ultimate aim is that wholistic flow, or sense of harmony. So maybe I don’t know exactly how to get there right now, but I believe that by listening to my inner sense of what feels right (or thémis, as Homer would have put it), I will be guided in the right direction. I have faith in what I feel, perhaps because my feelings seem to be more in tune with my true sense of purpose than I am often intellectually aware of.

So I challenge you all to take a few moments a day to sit back, question “what is this all about?”, and then remind yourself of what truly makes you happy. Then stick to it.

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I’m back…

Wow. So it’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I think it’s time to start writing again. I feel like something has been missing from my life, and I think writing is what will be able to fill that gap. While classes are in session I try to avoid writing as much as humanly possible since one of my favorite hobbies is procrastinating, especially when it comes to essays… but I’ve realized that I never just write for me anymore. It’s always to fulfill some page quota or to argue a thesis, merely as a means to an end.

But as Aristotle would agree, the best activities are those done as ends in themselves, where the enjoyment resides in the doing of that activity itself. Doing things for the sake of doing them leaves your mind open and free, leaving you unrestrained by the walls that seem to enclose a strict path when you are trying to get from point A to point B; this is what I hope writing and blogging can do for me. The goal in life should not be to achieve material belongings, such as a job or money, but rather to reach a state of balance where you are happy living life in the way in which you are living it, regardless of your external circumstances.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been under the enormous stress of having to write three major essays for my classes: ethics, religion, and feminist philosophy.* Don’t get me wrong, I love all of these topics and know I am going to be so happy once I’ve written the finished products, but the weight of that end goal has been hanging over my head for quite some time now. Being the anxious-perfectionist-procrastinator that I am, I have of course managed to get extensions on all three of them… not because I don’t care, but because I am focused too much on the outcome of these papers; this, of course, leaves the task of completing them too overwhelming. I am unable to envision a future version of myself who has not only finished but is happy with the outcome of her work, which makes it very difficult to even begin to make my way to that point.

I have two left to start and finish, but I thought I might as well begin to write openly here first to get my creative juices flowing and to remind myself why I write: because I love writing. So here I am, trying to not be too hard on myself about past actions (i.e. procrastinating my way to bad grades) but also trying to move forward to a state of happiness; of course, this is through many ways, but writing is one of them.

This summer, I am determined to pick up my writing again in an attempt to keep myself in check with whatever craziness is plaguing my mind at any given time, as well as to let you all follow along with me on my journey towards reaching a life which I will be proud to have lived.

Ciao for now,

Gabi

 

*Of course, I wrote this first draft about a month ago, and never got around to publishing it. Now with my essays said and done, I do indeed feel better about moving on in life.

Expanding My Bubble

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve hated trying new food. Let me take you back to the first time I ate grapes… I was about four years old getting ready to take a bath, running away from my mum, who was trying to convince me to try just one grape. It was a struggle. Although a seemingly easy task, trying to get a stubborn four-year-old to put an exotic looking “food” in her mouth is a lot harder than it sounds.

When my mum finally convinced me to try one (through her magical mothering powers, of course), I remember popping the grape into my mouth, slowly starting to chew, and realizing that the juicy taste was causing the corners of my mouth to slowly curl upwards. I then timidly asked my mother for another one, trying to hide the fact that she had been right when she said I would like them.

That one experience blew my little four-year-old mind; who knew there might actually be food out there that I may enjoy eating in addition to my standard diet? That’s how I think it is with most things in life. It’s so easy to be content with the way everything is going that you don’t want to alter anything in the fear that everything may fall apart. Add in the stubborn factor if you’re like me, and if you’re not careful you may get stuck in the same little bubble for the rest of your life. One little bubble… sounds suffocating, doesn’t it?

Well, I’ve had to come to the realisation that if I ever want to experience anything worth experiencing in this world, I must expand this little bubble of mine. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to just go ahead and pop it otherwise I’ll end up spiraling toward the ground and end up with another concussion… and we don’t want that to happen again. All I’m talking about is stepping outside of my comfort zone little by little until my comfort bubble encompasses the whole world.

There are many things in life that we could greatly benefit from trying new things and putting ourselves in uncomfortable positions until they become comfortable. But the more we do it, the more comfortable we get. It’s almost like exposure therapy. Trying new things, such as grapes, used to give me anxiety because it was not on my predetermined list of foods I ate, activities I participated in, or skills I knew I had. However in recent reconsideration, I have spread my wings and am now beginning to learn how to fly.

I’ve recently taken up a keen interest in my health and being fit. I’ve been exercising regularly, going on long walks and doing (very) short periods of strength training. I’ve also transitioned into a pescetarian diet and it has made me so much more aware of the food I have been and continue to put in my body. Food is fuel. And if we are filling ourselves up with crap, that’s what we are going to feel like. Along with the help of lots of iPhone apps, such as Fooducate and Yummly, I’ve been choosing and preparing my food with much more awareness about what I’m consuming and its nutritional value, not worrying about if it errs from the familiar diet I have been consuming my whole life (i.e. Weetabix and Marmite sandwiches).

This heightened awareness is what we strive to achieve in all areas of life. Ignorance isn’t bliss, it’s just comfortable. If we push to educate ourselves about new food, cultures, ways of life, activities, and all other aspects of life, we will be able to become more aware of who we are, what drives us, and how we fit into this massive universe of ours. Once you open yourself up to new experiences, you will be amazed at how large your little comfort bubble can grow.

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Marmite and cream cheese sandwich, with grape tomatoes, baby kale, and eggs over easy (seasoned with thyme).

Growing Up in the World of Church Music

Hi everyone!

Long time no talk.

If you ask any of my friends, you will know how true it is that music is such a big part of my life. It carries me through the rough patches and inspires me to be part of something greater than myself. Lest not forget, it provides me with some pretty good beats to get down to on the dance floor.

Music is all-encompassing. It surrounds me in my daily life. As I sit in the mezzanine of the Bristol Youth Hostel writing this post, I am listening to a playlist of slow and relaxing music playing over the café speakers from the main floor, floating up to where I am sitting. Although the calming tunes float only so far until they are interrupted by the lively and vivacious Spanish music being played from a couple’s phone, who appear to have just come in from a night out. It is such a large and diverse world we live in, yet music brings it all together. Music is a language all of its own.

So speaking of languages and youth hostels, I am actually in England right now. It is currently 12:30 in the morning… I should be asleep, I know. But I am waiting for some pictures to upload so that I can put them up on my choir’s blog post tomorrow morning.

Growing up as a child, music was not only a passion of mine but a job. Since the age of six, I have been a chorister in multiple of my father’s church choirs. Yes, my father is a church musician.

In order to truly get to know me, you must know this about my upbringing. Ever since I was a timid young girl, church choir has continued to shape and challenge me in different areas of my life; it has forced me to develop my discipline and diligence in order to produce the heavenly music that is only achieved through the synergy of such focus and determination from every member of a choir. I belong to the American Episcopal Church, which is the equivalent to the Church of England in England (where I was born and lived for the first four years of my life), which may give you an idea of the type of music I have grown up singing.

My church follows quite a traditional path, and sticks to some of the oldest and most sacred music that has been written since the beginning of time itself. There is something about this which is what has made the whole experience of singing to me so special. Every time I pick up a piece written by Thomas Tallis or Howells, I know that with that comes a certain responsibility. If you are going to sing something, you sing it as well as you can, otherwise you are not doing it enough justice. Just as anything else I do in my life, I always strive to give my best performance.

Music links not only people together, but time periods, beliefs, and places. A piece that was written in England in the 1500s could just as easily be sung today in America as it could have been sung by hundreds of thousands of others all around the world in between the two times and places. Simply one piece of music is able to reach beyond the limits of a conversation or a prayer. It can become something greater. It connects and brings together people from all different walks of life.

Such a thought is what amazes me. I don’t know if I would even attend church if it weren’t for the music. I never feel as spiritual, as close to God (or whatever it is that makes our universe possible), or part of something greater as I do when I sing in church. Something about hearing the ring of a note or chord after it has come to an end reminds me of the eternity that music provides us with.

This is mainly just me having a late-night write/think (as one does when it gets past a certain time in the night). But truly, I hope some of you can connect. Music is special to me, as it is to many others. If you also share this passion, you will understand me when I say I would be lost without it.

If you would like to keep up with my choir and listen to some of the sacred music we have been singing here in Bristol, England please give us a listen and I hope to be updating my own blog more frequently when I return from tour!

As for now, I must say goodbye and goodnight.

Moving Forward

Wow… so it has officially been three whole weeks since I last updated my blog. Sad face. 😦

I apologize to my small collection of followers for going MIA for a while. Basically, I went on vacation for a week and then was caught up with other things going on in life, including many doctor appointments for my seemingly unending number of ailments. The important thing is that I’m back now and have a revived sense of motivation to WRITE!

I hope all of you are doing well and enjoying your summers, or whatever season it may be where you live 🙂 I recently came back from a trip to Ocean City, MD with one of my best friends from school and had a blast… many good memories were made there. Despite the redding effects the beachy sun had on me, I truly miss being on a stress-free vacation. Being home is nice and all, but it gets a bit tiring (and dare I say stressful?) being stuck in such a small living space with four other family members…each with their own needs and preferences. Needless to say, it isn’t always smooth sailing.

Speaking of which, I can’t wait to get back to school. I’ve realized that my high school friends and I have grown apart over the past year, and they aren’t all truly there for me anymore. On the other hand, I deeply miss my friends from college. They are wonderful people 🙂 I also miss the independence that college provides me with. Obviously now that I’m eighteen I am legally an independent adult, but that doesn’t carry much weight when you are still living under your parents’ roof, eating the food they provide for you, relying on their transportation to get to you from point A to point B.

To keep my busy mind occupied, I’ve been trying to defeat any boredom that crawls into my day by planning for the future. I’m happy to announce that I’ve made a few steps forward in figuring out where I’m going with my life. If all goes according to plan, I am going to be majoring in Mathematics (based on previous reactions from others, I know half of you probably think I’m crazy for this decision), with either a minor or double major in Philosophy. I’ve got a good balance of numbers and questions going on and I am happy with the way both fields feed my hungry little brain. It simultaneously craves the answers and the unknown.

I also have decided that starting at the beginning of the new semester, I am going to become a pescetarian. So yes, I will still be eating fish meat, but other than that no meat. This may be somewhat of a problem since I learned today that I actually have an iron deficiency, but as long as I take supplements and am smart about my eating habits, I should be fine. As I’m sure many can relate, I did gain some weight my first year of college (no thanks to the countless late nights of Domino’s and Chinese food…), but I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf this year and focus more on my health and nutrition.

I’m very much looking forward to taking action on these plans and hope that I am able to follow through with them. As I am only getting back into writing again, I will be posting soon with actual topics to talk about instead of just random updates 🙂 Until then my friends, stay happy.

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BRB

Hi guys! So unfortunately I was using my computer the other day when my very old charger started to spark and scared the living daylight out of me. Here’s a picture of the blasted thing: 

Anyway, I’ve ordered a new one now but I am still waiting on it to arrive 😦 Unfortunately I hate blogging from my phone so I wanted to give you a heads up if I don’t post anything for a few days. I will catch up on my posts/blogging101 assignments when the new charger gets here and I can use my beloved computer once again! Just wanted to let you know… I guess it only goes to show that you can never rely on technology.

Day Nine – Get Inspired by the Neighbo(u)rs

Look at me, getting all inspired and whatnot from my new online friends 🙂

Day Nine’s assignment (a day late, I know) for Blogging101 was:

write a post that builds on one of the comments you left yesterday. Don’t forget to link to the other blog!

So… what is now two days ago, I read a post talking about the importance of balancing your time and the importance of breaks from work. I completely support the idea of planning out your time and always scheduling in things that aren’t one of the many things you probably “should” be doing during your day.

Keeping this balance in order has always been a challenge of mine. As a typical teenager, I have often placed instant gratification ahead of the rewards of long-term gratification in my decision-making process. This has meant that I’ve definitely watched one too many episodes of Dexter or gone out on one too many evenings when I should have been studying for my quiz that I was planning to take at 8 AM the next morning…

However, I’ve realized that when it comes to finding happiness and that sweet balance of fun and work, planning and setting goals is everything. Sometimes I get into “the zone” and work for hours on end. At the time, I feel very accomplished and proud of myself, but an hour later you can probably find me drooling all over my desk, fast asleep. My point is that the best way to be productive is to work in manageable amounts at a time, as well as doing “breaks” the right way.

Here is the wrong way to take a break: do nothing/partying your sorrows away.

Here is a slightly more improved version of a productive break: read, nap, go on a walk, write, draw, one or two episodes of Netflix.

Yes, of course, we all deserve “nothing-days” where we burrow ourselves into a cozy nest under our covers, sip tea, and binge-watch Netflix. There’s nothing wrong with that. All I’m saying is that maybe next time you find yourself with some free time on your hands, make it worthwhile. I’m hoping to improve upon this throughout the summer; I’m starting by making a bucket list. If I have a list of long-term goals or things I’ve been wanting to do, I’ll have something at the ready for the next time I find myself bored or saying I have “nothing to do.”

(Side note: I used to regularly find myself with “nothing to do” growing up, which seems absurd to me now. There’s always something to do.)

So in an attempt to find something to do, here’s my Summer 2015 Bucket List…

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How are you planning on spending your lovely summer time? 🙂