Today is My Day –> Saturday, June 21

I’ve had an iCal alarm set since May 19, telling me, “Today is Photograph your Day Day!!! So do it! and make an album!” but every time it’s gone off, I’ve delayed it. It first started off with “remind me in 2 hours”… then 2 hours became 1 day, and one day became 1 week. But, one month later, and rather spontaneously, I finally made time to document my day in my summer city! And it was a great day.

I slept in and then had to go into lab for a couple hours in the afternoon, but after that I had the urge to set off into the city to explore. I stopped by a vintage clothing store, 1793. I love rummaging through other people’s garbage. Total believer of the saying, “another man’s trash is another’s treasure.” It had some pretty interesting things inside. The expected 1980s fashions, outdated shoes, gaudy dresses, jackets that require a someone with a superhuman degree of confidence to dare wear it in public… or with a killer buzz. ::smile:: But you always have to rummage through the muck to uncover the true find beneath. And behold my find:

I’m really into bohemian fashions, so you can imagine my pleasure when I found this 1970s India top.

The picture really doesn\'t do it justice.

I felt like I’d stumbled upon a treasure. And only for $14.99. It crossed my mind to try to bargain it down to $10, but, what can I say… I haven’t fit into my haggling shoes on yet. But I have a feeling I’ll get there one day soon. Here’s a closer look:

The designs are so different, from the butterflies on the shoulders to the paisleys on the chest and hem to the leafed vines and yellow flowers… and yet it doesn’t clash. It all goes together so well. And it’s so light and airy and just a tad see-through. But not in a trashy way. The pictures really don’t do it justice. It looks even cuter when wearing it. Maybe I’ll post a shot when I finally do take it off the hanger. Ooo, it would be perfect for the beach!

Leaving 1793, I continued walking around for a bit and then it dawned on me! “Oh my gosh, this is my ‘Today is Photography your Day Day! Why don’t I have my camera!?'” I debated on whether to just forget it and photograph another day since I was a ways from my house, but I decided to head back after all. It was worth it because I finally had this day for myself.

After a couple hours, I headed back out into the city and found out that it was Pride Day. Walking around a festive block, someone said, “Happy Pride Day” to me, and not knowing to what they were referring, I just smiled back at them. It was actually kind of funny because I was walking through this block, noticing little things… some people were dressed a little more outlandishly than usual; lots of men with the small lap dogs; rainbow-colored Hawaiian leis… Although I must say that the tell-tail indicators were the drag queen and this man:

Then it hit me. “Ahhh! Pride Day is for gays and lesbians!” Yea, took me long enough. Hahaha. Walking throughout the city, there were so many block parties sealed off. I can only imagine how long into the night the parties lasted. I think this is my favorite shot featuring Pride Day:

The colors are so vivid, the angle is interesting, and you can see the action of the wind in the flag. Needless to say, it’s a good shot.

Walking around the city, seeing displays of so much pride, I couldn’t help but feel pressured to face the topic on which I’ve so long avoided forming a firm opinion. For a while, I tried to suppress the thoughts rising in my mind, but then, as I approached another Pride Block party, I happened to turn my head and saw this:

And a short walk from there, I saw what the next photo shows at the entryway of a different church:

I just knew that it was time that I start sorting this out for myself.

I’ve been sitting on the fence… or rather, hiding in the background while I let both sides of the gay/lesbian debate duke things out so that I don’t have to form an opinion. But really, I feel the worse for not making up my mind, and swaying with whatever crowd I’m in. It’s cowardly.

I am a Christian and believe that God’s Word is true. I believe that God views homosexuality as an abomination because he says it is so. But I also believe that I, as a Christian, am not to judge ANYONE and that a man/woman’s relationship with God is personal and his/her sins are between him/her and God. Heck, who am I to judge anyone? I’m too busy dealing with my own spiritual baggage to go looking at what someone else is doing. I feel secure in these beliefs. Where my personal struggle lies is when I consider queer culture + spirituality + politics. I have yet to resolve what the word says on advocating political limitations on the freedoms of non-Christians. I believe in free will. And God is a God of free will. So considering that, it doesn’t settle well with me to limit other’s free will if it goes against God’s mandates because at the end of the day, that violation lies with that person. But then, a part of me feels wrong in saying that. Of course in my ideal world, everyone would know Christ and choose to follow Him and His ways. And I know that as a Christian, it is my duty to affect the world for Christ. But wherein lies the boundary between affecting the world for Christ and forcing others to follow Christ? At most, we can force them into the motions of following Him, but then they’re not really following Him, are they? Exactly. This will take some more personal sorting out on my part. This is a topic that I just can’t leave untied.

After walking through the city, I prepared to meet a few friends for a viewing of the famous Waterfire. I’ve visited 3 times before and every time has been nothing short of wonderful. On my way, I was glad to be able to walk along the river before the sun set. I love getting shots before the fires are lit. And I even made a new friend:

Male? Female?

He/she came up behind me while I was snapping a shot. I was so intrigued to know the sex of this person, but didn’t have the candor to ask… Also, that would have been pretty rude, I decided. “Are you male or female, because I just can’t tell?” That would have felt offensive just leaving my lips, let alone hearing it.

Making my way along the river, I saw the gondola rowers, who I so admire!

They must be in amazing shape, rowing up and down the river all night (no “that’s what she said” comments, please! ::smile::). When I finally met up with my friends, we decided we’d take a ride the next time we visited. Unfortunately, my camera died once the show began. Go figure, haha. I’ll have to steal the pictures from my friend.

To finish off the day, we got dessert from the Cheesecake Factory. I had never been there before and feel like I’ve been introduced to this big secret that everyone else knew about except me! I’m very indecisive when it comes to ordering (among other things), and was craving every chocolate delight I came across in the menu! And to my surprise, guess what?! They had a cake that had EVERYTHING I was craving! The masterpiece is called Chris’s Outrageous Chocolate Cake, but my friends and I joked that they should have named it after me. My friend took a picture, but to avoid the delay in uploading it, here’s a picture from the internet:

Chris\'s Outrageous Chocolate Cake

This delightful treat that will keep on treating you for days later (I still have yet to finish the one piece I ordered!) includes the following yummy layers: brownie, chocolate mousse, cheesecake, coconut, moist chocolate cake, and chocolate chips… and of course, we cannot neglect to mention the side of whipped cream. Every bite is a surprise of flavor! All I can say is “”Mmmm, mmm! Thank you, Chris, whoever you are!”

I usually don’t like cheesecake, but turns out that cheesecake layer rivals the coconut layer in best layer of all! I am highly anticipate my next visit! We’re supposed to eat dinner next time we visit. If their cake is this good, I’m excited for their meals.

All in all, it was a good day… good day.

The Girl Effect

n. The powerful social and economic change brought about when girls have the opportunity to participate in their society

When you stop to look what is really important, you realize your problems are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Why worry about the small stuff when we have so many goals to accomplish together.

The World is a Mess, but the Girl Effect can make it better.

Leave the Childish Things Behind…

I had a long phone conversation with my mom yesterday. My mom and I have a beautiful relationship. We have a deep friendship with one another, and yet somehow, we’ve managed to maintain the mother-daughter dynamic. I think the secret is that we respect each other in our friendship. We’re both open with each other about our personal lives, but respect the boundaries of our mother-daughter relationship when called for. I don’t know if that’s a good explanation or not, but all I know is that I’m thankful for the friendship I have with my mom. I wish most girls could have such a friendship with their mothers.

I have been open with my mom about my personal self-discovery struggles almost since I first started wavering. So last night, she called me to encourage me. With the relationship we have, she has the privilege of knowing me as much as I know myself (although sometimes I think she knows me better than I even know myself). She knows that I don’t like to impose myself on people, and therefore often opt to be in the background. She told me that I adopt the role of a follower when I am really meant to lead. Listening to her, I knew what she said is true because I’ve felt it within myself. I just haven’t allowed myself to break from the background and step up where I belong. What really stuck out to me last night, though, was when she told me to “leave the childish things behind.” Being in college, I’ve felt the pressure to do just that and I think that this diminished confidence has come from the fear of letting go of the childish things, the things that I’ve known my whole life, to accept responsibility for myself and my actions. That’s been a daunting reality for me these past two years, but now I just feel so immature in my fear to move on. When she said that to me, it was as if something in my mind said to me, “Of course… I just need to let go and move on.” That chapter of my life is over and instead of looking to the future as a dreaded fate, I need to embrace it as an adventure. I’m entering a new and different stage in life

What was most exciting was that I reached the point in The Alchemist where the shepherd changed his outlook on his early misfortunes in Africa, seeing them as experiences from which to learn. They were all part of his life’s adventure. I feel so inspired by this character. Even though he made mistakes and became wholly discouraged, he found a way to rise above. He didn’t let that be the end of his journey. He didn’t let that stop him from achieving his dream. I need to take after his example. Although I have made mistakes in the past, they won’t be the end of me. I can work through them and still realize my dream.

I think I’m going to finish the book today 🙂

Weddings…

This is a digression from my “self-discovery”… or is it? Well, anyhow, I’ve re-entered my Wedding kick. I’ve always been smitten with weddings, but I notice that my interest in them seems to heighten once summer hits. Well, it’s that time of year again! Here are some great, lesser-known wedding sites/blogs that I have found. Just thought I’d share the love…
http://blogs1.marthastewart.com/weddings/

http://thepreppywedding.blogspot.com/

http://fayeandgreer.blogspot.com/search/label/Real%20Weddings

http://www.stylemepretty.com/2008/04/unique-weddi-16.html

http://snippetandink.blogspot.com/2007/09/board-5-autumn-air.html

http://inthisinstance.blogspot.com/

http://wedding.blogdig.net/

There are more… maybe I’ll post them later. Also, I was able to find information on some beautiful wedding rituals traditionally practiced by the Sioux and Cherokee tribes, both of which I belong. Check out these sites, if you’re interested: http://www.manataka.org/page348.html and http://www.ehow.com/how_18840_native-american-wedding.html I have more sites, but I’ll share them in a future post. Until later then. Toodles…

An Introduction

I am on a new journey… a journey to myself. I’ve reached a point in life where I simply cannot continue on the same path. I haven’t always been heading down this way. I can remember when I had clarity in my life. But somewhere back, I went off the right path and ended up where I am now.

I don’t like the person I have become. I often wonder if a lesser version of her was always within me, but perhaps the experiences of the past few years have simply surfaced her. I’m not sure if I can say this is true. However, I do know that I need to find my way back to the person I used to be.

I used to be full of life, embracing and seeking challenge. I wasn’t afraid to dream and plan for greatness. I was hopeful and full of faith, optimistic, and encouraging, both to myself and to others. I’ll admit that I’ve always struggled with confidence, but I can say for sure that I was confident in my intelligence and my potential. That, unfortunately, has greatly diminished.

I need a change. Not in my life, but within myself. I need a new outlook on who I am and where I am going in life. I need to not be afraid to dream again.

I have titled this blog “The Alchemist” because in his book (The Alchemist), Paulo Coelho encourages his readers not only to dream, but to pursue and realize them. I’m reading the book right now and it has already been such an inspiration to me. I hope that someday soon, when I reflect on this first post, I will see a dramatic, and positive, change in the outlook of its author… me.

With that, I’ll end with a quote from the book. I hope it will inspire you in your own journey to self-discovery..

“The secret lies in the present – if you pay attention to the present, you will be able to improve it. And if you improve the present, whatever happens afterwards will be better too. Each day brings us Eternity.” ~ Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist