Category Archives: Chautauqua

Chautauqua

April A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015: B is for Barbie

#DailyWings: “I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Blogging From A to Z is an annual month-long challenge in which bloggers around the world are invited to write a blog post every week day for the month of April, with each day corresponding to a letter in the alphabet (26 week days = 26 letters). For this year’s A to Z challenge, my theme is personal anecdotes, or “childhood memories.”

Blogging From A to Z

Here’s me letting you in on a little secret: I hate taking showers. I don’t like being naked and freezing while I hurriedly lather soap all over my body. I can’t stand the surfaces of bath tubs and shower room floors; in fact, one of my shower time “rituals” is to put a small towel on the floor and stand on it while I wash (don’t worry, that towel never touches any part of me besides my feet). I rejoiced after reading this article.

Bath time during my childhood was a different story. Back then, bath time was about “popping bubbles and exchanging dimple smiles” in my small kiddie tub. It was about bonding with my sister Hope, who often helped with my hair wash, and getting some “me-time” after hours of having nurses watch over me (although, sometimes, they were the ones who gave me the bath). It was also about testing to see how long my Barbie dolls could last in the water before their hairstyles were ruined. I remember how good it felt to just slouch my back farther and farther down so my entire body practically floated in the water.
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April A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015: A is for Alouette

#DailyWings: “Music is the strongest form of magic.” -Marilyn Manson

Blogging From A to Z is an annual month-long challenge in which bloggers around the world are invited to write a blog post every week day for the month of April, with each day corresponding to a letter in the alphabet (26 week days = 26 letters). For this year’s A to Z challenge, my theme is personal anecdotes, or “childhood memories.”

Alouette, gentille alouette, Alouette, je te plumerai.

On the first page of Alfred’s Basic Piano Library, a colorful illustration of a bird with large, cartoonish eyes wearing a black beret and striped shirt smiles dreamily, its mouth open as if to sing.

“Alouette” was one of the first songs I learned how to play on the piano. I started piano lessons at seven years old per the will of my mother, who had my sister Hope playing the violin at an even younger age. My parents bought me a piano and we set it up in the living room, between our squishy green couch and a floor lamp. I want to say it was a Yamaha – the piano, I mean – but my memories aren’t perfect.
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#1000Speak: Showing Compassion in the Office

#DailyWings: ʺIt is a wonderful seasoning of all enjoyments to think of those we love.ʺMolière

Since I jumped on the #1000Speak blogging wagon a couple weeks ago, it’s been one of the best and most inspiring blogging events I’ve been a part of! I’ve met so many people who have wide open hearts and extraordinary experiences. If you don’t know what #1000Speak is, it’s an online initiative to spread kindness and share stories of compassion. Back in February, I shared my thoughts on the Chapel Hill shooting, namely how it’s affected me, what the legacy of Deah, Yusor and Razan means for the rest of us and what we can learn as a society about tolerance and activism moving forward.

To me, compassion is about finding light at the end of the tunnel and providing support for the ones we love during hard times. Rather than use abstract words to try and explain what compassion is, however, I want to continue the #1000Speak trend by sharing another story of compassion, one that hits close to home for not only me but also a group of people that I work with every single day.
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#1000Speak: Drawing Compassion from the Chapel Hill Shootings

1000speak, 1000 Voices for Compassion, 1000 Speak, blogging, compassion

#DailyWings“Walk for those that can’t walk. Run for those who wish they could. Fight for those who can’t fight. Scream for those who wish for a voice. Hope for those who are hopeless. Dream for those who wish they had sight. Love for those who will never know what love is. Love them too. Forgive for those who will never learn to forgive. Forgive them too. Breathe for those who struggle for air. Stand for those who can’t. Believe for the ones who doubt. Live for those that never had a chance to. And never take it for granted.” -Joshua Globa

Today, more than 1,000 bloggers from all over the world are coming together in solidarity to share stories of compassion for “1000 Voices for Compassion,” with the goal of inspiring others to live with open hearts. Compassion isn’t just a passive feeling. It also doesn’t have to be an aggressive action. It’s about listening to what’s not being said, giving room for others to breathe and making moves when we recognize social injustice.

For my #1000Speak contribution, I want to address the Chapel Hill shootings that took place on Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015. To continue the “1,000 Voices” trend, I will also be sharing a local story about fighting against cancer next week that I think perfectly captures the heart of compassion.

But the stories of compassion by no means don’t stop here. As you browse the news and your favorite blogs today, take a moment to read other #1000Speak stories. Read about other people’s struggles and triumphs, the pieces of broken dreams after they’ve been shattered, the unexpected joys, the sacrifices of second nature, the hand-holding of strangers, the glimmers of hope that we all keep holding onto. Know this: We’re still fighting the good fight.
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Cherishing 2014 and Anticipating the Future: A Year in Review

#DailyWings: “May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” -Neil Gaiman

One year ago, I was about to begin my final semester of college. I was terrified of the future, of 2014 and all the uncertainty that came with the new year. Graduation was so close, yet I had nothing planned out for myself. There were many ifs about what I would be doing once I left UNC-Chapel Hill, but the challenges weren’t just technical. I was emotional about my close friends leaving – the one group of people with whom I felt I could be myself – and about entering the 9-to-5 world. When so many of my peers longed to get out of our safety bubble that was UNC-Chapel Hill, I wanted to stay for as long as possible.
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We Are Not Invincible (And That’s Okay)

#DailyWings: “Taking care of yourself is the most powerful way to begin to take care of others.” ― Bryant McGill

Originally, I wasn’t going to blog about this. I’d already talked enough about being sick and taking time off from work and blogging to focus on getting better. But until recently, I’d once again forgotten how important it is to take care of oneself – both mentally and physically.

You’d think because I have a disability and acid reflux and a much lower physical tolerance for, well, everything that I’d learned to appreciate my own body more. But nope. I like to push myself with deadlines and check boxes and lots of projects all at once (smart, right?). Somehow, having too much to do is the only way I can compel myself to get anything done. You might know what I mean if you naturally thrive in fast-paced environments with high pressure and lots of stimuli.

Though we might be more productive, we’re not doing our personal well-being any favors. It’s not until your wrists start to ache from hours of typing and your throat starts to feel scratchy and your eyes start to droop from lack of sleep that you finally realize the truth: I have limits.
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27 Little Things to Be Thankful For

#DailyWings: “”The aim of life is to live. And to live means to be aware. Joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.” –Henry Miller

It takes only a couple seconds to say we’re thankful for our family, friends, neighbors and mentors – not to mention our education, our food and our jobs. But sometimes, when we’re stuck in traffic during rush hour or we’ve received a terrible grade on a standardized test or the garlic toast burned in the oven or our boss has just laid us off even with the gentlest of explanations, it can be difficult to remember to feel appreciative and to remind ourselves why we work as hard as we do. We forget to stop and take a deep breath.

If you ask me what my favorite part about Thanksgiving is, it’s not the Black Friday shopping or the traveling or even the food (though that comes as a close second, for delicious reasons). It’s being able to take a break from all of the stress and anxiety that come with day-to-day life. Sometimes, we just need space for practicing self-care, to spend time with the people we’re thankful for and to find something to laugh about. To remember why we’re grateful.

Whatever holiday stress or little (or big) anxieties or long-term worries you may have, I’m not here to tell you, “Things could be a lot worse” or “In the grand scheme of things, this won’t matter.” Bad days stink. You might even have a whole bad month, and whatever feelings you have are completely validated. But make yourself a promise that today you’re going to take some time and say, “I am thankful for my life, and I love myself.”

Today, I’ve compiled a list of 27 things that never fail to make me smile and remind me to find joy in the little things. I hope they make you feel the same way:
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We Are Always in the “Real World”

#DailyWings: The best thing to hold onto in life is each other.” -Audrey Hepburn

A couple years ago, when I went home for holiday break, I came across a paperback literary magazine while rummaging through my sister’s old things one night. (I know what you must be thinking: “Oooh, you were snooping around!” I totally wasn’t! Well, sort of. I was browsing her closet for clothes to wear. ;))

The literary magazine was from our middle school, Edward Devotion in Boston. Both my sister, who’s five years older, and I have always loved to write, so it didn’t shock me when I saw her name in the table of contents juxtaposed with the name of a poem, Bubbles. I opened the magazine and flipped to the page that contained her poem. It was a cute rhyme about helping a toddler with dumpling-soft skin take a bath, popping bubbles and exchanging dimple smiles.

I almost fell off the bed when I realized the poem was about me.

An instant wave of nostalgia washed over me like it always does whenever I go through faded yearbooks and picture albums and other tokens of our childhood (I like to do this often, just to remind myself about the other two decades of my life that have already passed me by). Although I couldn’t recall that particular memory of taking a bath, it was easy to remember my little Brandeis blue bath tub meant for small children and the checkered tile bathroom floor. The way my sister shampooed my hair until it stood on the ends.
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A Glimpse of Post-Graduate Life

#DailyWings: “I live for coincidences. They briefly give to me the illusion or the hope that there’s a pattern to my life, and if there’s a pattern, then maybe I’m moving toward some kind of destiny where it’s all explained.” -Jonathan Ames

It has been a long time since I’ve sat and written and reflected about my life. The last time I blogged here was in January. January! Even though in some ways it feels like 2014 just began, that month seems so far away. I’m a somewhat different person from who I was at the beginning of the school year – of course, writing is still my one true love and everything that makes me who I am still do, but the way I approach certain situations, my attitude toward various circumstances and my overall outlook on life are no longer the same.

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My Memories of Ovik Banerjee

#DailyWings: “I live in the present, due to the constraints of the space-time continuum.”Hank Green

I may have mentioned on my blog once or twice before that I am a part of a four-year leadership program at UNC-Chapel Hill called North Carolina Fellows. There are no words for what this program means to me. Perhaps it will suffice to say that I would not be the same person if not for NC Fellows, that the people in this community have challenged my perspective on the world and helped me to gain a greater sense of self-awareness, that joining this program was the best decision I’ve ever made in college.

A few days ago, we lost someone who is and always will be an integral part of the Fellows community. Ovik Banerjee was a 2012 UNC-CH graduate, a Venture for America Fellow, a North Carolina Fellow, a true friend, a brother, a son and so much more. In NC Fellows, he served as a student director and a teaching assistant for the senior capstone course. He was always everywhere (but mainly the CLD office), and he was just so Fellowsy. Even after Ovik Banerjee graduated, his presence still lingered in the Carolina Leadership Development (CLD) office and in our seminar room. But Ovik’s impact doesn’t stop at Fellows – he was a priceless gem of UNC-Chapel Hill.
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