“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing…” -Helen Keller

I’ve held on to this comic strip for years. I like to look at it when I feel beat down and discouraged. I can’t remember where this comic’s from but this little kid character brightens up my spirits and reminds me to ride on. Use your imagination and be brave- you can accomplish anything!

Anyone up for a long bike ride into this journey called life?

Something Newsworthy

Have you been paying attention to the news? Okay, not that celebrity drama (sorry, Kimye) but the actual news? The riots of the World Cup. An infant who was thought to be cured of AIDS but now isn’t. The fighting against the Muslim Brotherhood. Germany’s backlash on the US after learning about NSA spying from leaks by Edward Snowden. Violent shootings in Chicago. Sure, the news is depressing to read, watch and listen to most of the time but I believe its important to be well-informed.

I feel like people, especially my age, are more obsessed with the outcome of “the Bachelor” than what is going on in the world (not that I don’t blame them. I just wish things were a little different). A University of Texas at Austin journalism professor wrote about the millennial generation’s low interest in news, stating that “millennials describe news as garbage, lies, one-sided, propaganda, repetitive and boring;” “most millennials do not depend on news to help with their daily lives;” and “the majority of millennials do not feel being informed is important.”

I know that people rather hear about happier things- we already have these stressful lives. Why add more stress of sad news? Plus, we’re too busy working, hanging out with friends, etc. We read the news and often think, what does this have to do with me? This is happening in another city, on the other side of the world- there is nothing that I can do to help. People also believe that mainstream media is too over saturated with blood and lies. Okay- all valid points. So, how can we change that?

We are all not expected to save the world (even though I know plenty of us will) but I do believe staying informed makes us millennials more engaging and worldly- I have interesting things to talk about with my peers (we do talk about issues a lot) and the news inspires me to change my world. Yes, I could never bring peace to Gaza but I can start picking up some litter in Tahoe. With reading and watching the news, my eyes have been opened. It also inspires me to be a better writer and journalist- especially when I hear why people don’t read the news. I want to be someone who changes their viewpoint about the media- it’s not all bad.

Staying informed makes people wiser: more understanding of others’ failings and more open to new perspectives. Sure, cat videos are fun to watch but at the end of the day, do those videos matter?

I like to start my mornings with Democracy Now and NPR– I prefer the news from the left side without a lot of opinion but I still listen/watch right side programming on stations like FOXNews (it’s important to see things from both side). I have web subscriptions to the New York Times, TIME Magazine and my local paper. What have you been reading/watching, dear reader? How do you stay informed?

Doing a Body Good (Letting Go of the Guilt for One Moment)

This is my body. I know that it's not perfect- I'm overweight and could lose 20lbs. But hey, this me and I like me.

This is my body. I know that it’s not perfect- I’m overweight and could lose 20lbs. But hey, this me and I like me.

Earlier in the week, I posted a thread on Reddit asking how to properly lose weight. I got a lot of comments back- some were positive and really helpful, suggesting just simple changes to my diet and exercise routine. A lot of the comments, though, were cruel. I posted my height and my weight- people read my measurements and wrote that I was obese and a “fatty.” I know that I’m overweight- I don’t know my exact BMI but I know that I can stand to lose a few pounds (or twenty). Since I don’t have a car and I bike everywhere, I have strong and muscular calves and mid-thighs (I also know that muscle weighs more than fat). I have a bit of belly and some love handles but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself obsess. Just big.

On Tuesday, I hosted a discussed for the Sex Positive group I led and we talked about body image and our relationships with food. Many of the people there grew up in homes with poor eating habits that continued into adulthood (I am one of those people). We talked about how food is that one comfort in our stressful lives- oh man, do I know that. As soon as I get home from a stressful day at work and before I tackle difficult Spanish homework, I eat a half of pint of B&J’s (and immediately feel bad after). As I shoved spoonfuls of ice cream in my mouth, my health is the last thing on my mind. Yes, I know that I should be eating healthy- not only lose the weight but in order to maintain my life’s longevity. But at that moment, my brain needs some chocolately comfort.

My co-leader, Adam, asked the question, “Do you like the way you look?” Out of a group of 12, only two people raised their hand- no, I wasn’t one of the two (and really- only two people? So sad.). Most days, I hate the way that I look. My hair is too thick and has too much volume. My teeth should be whiter. I have no muscle tone in my arms and hate picking up heavy objects. I counted 16 stretch marks of various sizes across my chest and my stomach. My butt is dimpled. On “good” days, I weigh 165lbs. On these days, I ignore what I look like and cover things up with a sweater. I remind myself that I’m smart and creative; driven, kind and brave- my appearance doesn’t matter.

Yup, nobody is perfect. And that's okay.

Yup, nobody is perfect. And that’s okay.

This week, I thought a lot about my own body image. I know its not good. It’s better than it has been- I mean, I’m finally feel comfortable to be completely naked in front of someone for hours at a time- but I know it should improve. I think about society’s standards- how “skinny equals pretty;” some people’s obsession with working out and physical perfections (men with tight abs, women with large breasts, etc.); how to make time to work out with a hectic schedule; how we judge so much on physical appearances; eating disorders and my experience starving myself and then, making myself puke by overeating; my issues with both food and breaking a sweat; comparing oneself to others; how my last boyfriend suggested to lose weight and wanted to have weight loss competitions… My brain began to hurt. Those thoughts are too much to handle and yet, I think about them everyday- with someone’s comment (it could be either a critical one or a positive one) or gesture.

Last night as I laid in bed with my boyfriend, Steve, he put his hand on the curve above of my hip, telling me that that spot was the perfect place for his hands. I was ready to interject but then, I decided not to and focused on him- just being with him right at that moment, not my fat rolls. Yeah, I need to lose weight. Yeah, I need to eat better. Yeah, I should do some more push-up and crunches. But last night, I let that guilt go and for a brief moment, I felt free.

Postscript: A second after I posted this blog entry, I saw this music video making its way around Facebook. It’s a John Legend song called “You & I (Nobody In The World)” and features beautiful women of all color and sizes. I think it’s a bold statement against the conventional beauty standards (ie. big breasts and bottoms) promoted by the typical R&B narrative. And well, the song is great.