Wednesday, August 29, 2012

9 Things I'd Tell My Teachers If I Could See Them Again

I wish my past teachers could read this. Every time I look back at when I was younger, I cringe at how stupid I was. I mostly hate myself for not speaking up. For not saying what was on my mind or for being too naive. For not asking why?

Looking Into the Past
(Search for the colors you can no longer see.)

I was being brainwashed and I didn't even know. Sometimes, it takes taking a step back and looking at the whole picture. Holding it up, closing one eye, then the other. Tilting your head. The past is like that. It's a giant invisible painting with colors on a spectrum you couldn't see during the moment. But you can see them now. From a distance. Learn from it. Bring those colors out for others to see.

Show them what they were missing.

Ugh, I'm disgusted with the way I am. It's like how everyone hates going or says bad things about school, but they insist on going. Or at least, nobody makes an effort to change the way the system is. We get out of bed and walk inside the doors of a place that gives us a beating. A beating felt deep inside our bones. Deep in our marrow, scratching the surface of our soul until we all come out like empty bottles in a Coca Cola factory. But we need someone to instead, get out of bed and walk the other way. Find the colors that have eluded us all.

This is what I've found:

a.) I can write how I want to write. A few years ago, I had to write a short book as an assignment for school. I tried to copy the styles of authors from my favorite books. I wanted to be able to write like them, I thought. I started sentences with "But" "And" "Because" even though I had been taught my whole life that I couldn't do that. If these great writers can do it, why can't I? The teacher returned my book and yelled at me. She even called my house to tell my parents that I don't follow directions. My dad yelled. I even wanted to cry, I'm ashamed to say. So I'm writing this now. And I'm starting this sentence with "And" and ending it with a period. Literature doesn't have rules. It's a form of art. Just like a painting isn't more right or more wrong than any other. Teach the words to dance, and then, just let them go.

(Writing is art. Dance with it.) 
b.) Permanent record doesn't exist. Where's this permanent record I keep hearing about? I've certainly never seen it. And why is it permanent? Can't you just white something out? I feel like teachers and principles are acting like kids now. And after you graduate, where does it go? After you die? When I was in elementary school, my friend Joel and I were in the bathroom. He threw water over the stall I was in and got caught by a teacher. The teacher told him, "I'm gonna write you up. It'll follow you wherever you go." I haven't seen him in years, but I'm sure he's fine. Permanent record. Just another scam made up by the education system.

c.)          I can't believe I chose doing homework over getting sleep. My teachers would leave a lot of homework. On average, I think I slept four hours a day. I had this after school program three times a week that taught me how to make stained glass windows, which didn't end until 6 p.m. Looking back, I wish I would've just done as much homework as I could and made sure I slept well. I mean, what good is school if you're brain is running on 4 hours of sleep? But wouldn't you get a low G.P.A you might say? Read below.

d.)          G.P.A doesn't matter. I've had many people tell me, "Not once in a job interview, have I been asked about my G.P.A."

e.)          I worked hard at work that seemed meaningless. Whats the sum of two cubes used for? Three cubes? Factoring? Quadratic formula? Maybe one day, when the Earth loses the battle against aliens from a distant planet, they will capture us all and pick me from random. They will tell me, "We will spare you all! IF, you tell me what the quadratic formula is." And I'll stare blankly and say, "I don't know." So never mind, learn it.

f.)          Schools don't make you great. Everybody wants to go to a "good" school. I can't believe I'm only now seeing it. Schools are nothing without the students. It's easy to be the best when all you do is take the best. Wanna impress me? Take all kinds of students and show us what you can really do. But ultimately, it all comes down to you. You don't need a fancy school to make you great. You don't need a high G.P.A. to make you great. You don't need a clean permanent record to make you great. Your creativity, intelligence, and hard work does.

g.)          History was pointless. I'm not saying history is a pointless subject, but the way it's taught makes it sound that way. They force feed us names, dates, battles, treaties, wars. And what comes out? Nothing. Empty calories. Sure, I passed the tests and quizzes, but now I only remember random names and dates with nothing attached to them. Why? Because I wasn't interested in that particular part of history. It's true for everybody, you're more likely to remember things you're interested in. Imagine if we would have focused on things that interested us. Ask me anything about ancient history and I can answer it in a flash. But who was the eleventh president again?

(James K. Polk. 11th president of the United States. Died a month after retirement from cholera. Now you know.)

h.)          Making me read books I don't like. Same as above, there's nothing worse than being forced to read a book you don't like. Then they wondered why I did so bad on the test.

i.)          Making failure a bad thing. Failure simply does not exist in school. It's viewed negatively. However, life is filled with failure. Everyone tells you the way to succeed is to go to school, get a career, make a family, promotion at the office, retire, then die. IN THAT ORDER! And if you don't, then you're a failure. But life is rarely like that. I wish I could have seen that sooner. It would've saved me many sleepless night. Failure sucks, but it is often you're best teacher. One day, you discover that you're actually not a moth. And you steer clear of the flame.


A girl I barely knew once told me, "I want you and me to have sex." I said, "Why?" Then she said, "Wow. What are you gay?" She never talked to me again.

Is it so wrong to ask why?

What other things do you question? 

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Friday, August 24, 2012

5 Ways To Stop Worrying Right Now

My mind was bleeding. A few years ago. I was going to take a huge test and I couldn't control myself. It was all that was on my mind. I tried doing yoga to help me relax. I had never done it before, regarding it as a "girls' thing". My older brother had bought P90x about a year ago. It was a set of work out DVDs consisting of a DVD for a different muscle group on your body. One of them read "Yoga." It didn't even have a single ring around the bottom of it, so I knew no one had played it. For all anyone knew, it could have been a secret disc hiding all of Osama bin Laden's plans. The company, run by the Illuminati, knew no one would play it. They like to tease people. So that when a disaster happens, someone says, "It was on the yoga CD the whole time! How could we have been so stupid."

(Claudia Azula. Check out her great site on

I decided to pop it in, while I was alone in the house. No one was going to catch me doing yoga. No one!

I couldn't finish it because it was too hard. Oh the beautiful irony.

I'm not so interested in doing yoga, but I do enjoy reading about its philosophies. I came across Claudia Azula's blog around the same time I started mine. What caught my eye was reading about Pranayama or the extension of life through breathing, which you can read more about here. When we worry, we tend to breath quickly. This kills us over time. Many believe that slowing down our breathing can lengthen our lives. When we sleep, we breath a lot slower because we are relaxed. Imagine breathing like that throughout the day.

If we look at animals who live long lives, it's usually animals who are slow. Turtles, elephants, whales. They all move slowly relative to their size, and as a result, breath slowly.

We all worry. Claudia had a great list on how to let go of worrying. I recommend anyone reading her blog about yoga and life. I just want to add something. Or ask something. Every advice on worrying I've seen seems to be on how to control yourself after you've already had some time working things out. But how do you stop worrying when it first hits you? Like how I'd imagine Atlas felt when they first told him he'd have to carry the world on his shoulders. He probably began breathing quickly. Zeus or somebody then gave him a book titled, Ten Ways to Stop Worrying (It was a huge book). He read the first sentence, closed it, and threw it to the floor while he got into a fetal position. Advice never really works on the spot. Your misery clogs your ears of any rationality, like the ear wax on Lincoln's head on Mt. Rushmore. It's hard as a rock. Reminds me of when you watch a horror movie and yell at the girl for tripping on the branch while she ran away from the killer with the knife. And then to top it off, she can't seem to keep her balance. "That stupid bitch," you thought to yourself. Okay, maybe that was just me. However, if it happened to us, we'd be doing the exact same thing. When I was on a soccer team, I collapsed on the floor in my first game, right when the referee blew the whistle at the start. I wanted to run, but my mind thought it would be funny to freeze my legs. I was nervous and scared. I lay in the dirt as I watched pairs of legs running around me. I think the referee was laughing at me. Oh the shame.

Of course, it's just your brain telling you this. Your brain likes to feel important. It likes to be the center of attention. Its a child feeling neglected because we give all the credit to its brother, the heart, when the brain does most of the work. It's having a kick right now. But that's just how we've evolved.

(Brain actually controls the heart. However, theories suggest that due to cellular memory, heart transplant patients  report having memories of the donor.)

But I actually don't know the answer to this. How do we stop worrying when it first hits you? When it hurts the most. Every time I worry, I focus on my misery. Almost like my mind likes to feel worried. I have gotten better at it though. And hope I keep getting better. Here's what I've come up with when the first thought of worry seeps through the follicles on my head:

a.)          Realize that most of your worries hold no truth. When I worry, I imagine every possible scenario of what could happen to me. All bad. I replay them over and over until my head hurts. "Which one of these will happen," I say. "which one is going to kill me." And every time, they're all wrong. This is the one time where I've never minded being wrong. And here's the thing, everyone is always wrong on this. EVERYONE. So once that first thought comes in, counter it by telling yourself that you're a great fiction writer.

b.)          Even if things are bad, acknowledge that eventually they will get better. Think it fast. When I look back at all of my dark times in life, it never stayed that way for long, even if it felt like it would. So, next time I worry, I will know that sometime in the future, I will be smiling. Your state of mind in life is like a roller coaster. Even in the lowest points, there's always enough energy for you to go up again. And then you get off in the middle.

c.)          Immediately take a shower. When we worry, we tend to neglect our hygiene. What's the point, we think. There's just something about getting out of the shower that makes me feel awake. I don't feel dirty and tired anymore. Don't take a shower today at all and write down how you feel. Then, tomorrow, take a shower in the morning and write down how you felt before you go to sleep. Compare the two.

Woman taking shower in clothes
(shower with clothes on if you want. Just get in there.)

d.)           Breath. Use that Pranayama. Breathing quickly raises your heart rate (Or is that the other way around?). I do know that controlling your breath helps lower stress. Stress causes so many diseases it's crazy. From heart problems to insomnia. I recently read on Claudia's blog that 10 breaths per minute will help you live to 100! Wait a minute while I count mine. Turns out, mine is 15. Practice right now. When I'm done writing this, I will practice.

e.)          Notice that we have nothing to lose. I realized this one day. I read a comment from a woman named June Chan on a site I can't remember, but I wrote it down. She wrote, "Thank God I've been through years of financial burden, relationship stress, and finally life-long medication that I learn the truth I really have nothing to lose. We have nothing to lose." I keep re-reading it whenever something bad happens and it puts me at ease. We start life with nothing, so there's literally nothing to lose. And nothing on earth has any value anyway. WE give it its value. WE decide what it's worth. WE decide what makes us happy. You know why a dog shits on the carpet? Because he doesn't give it any value. It's all from earth. Even its shit. A dollar, to a dog, is just a piece of paper. Or a weird looking leaf. We tend to put so much importance on the bad times. But really, the secret to life, I think, is to just be happy with what you have. Right now. It doesn't mean you can't have goals or want things, but you should be happy even if you don't get that promotion at work you wanted, or even if you don't have the house you want. Life doesn't always go according to plan, but sometimes, you can be happy regardless. Just do your best.

(99% of things we worry about never happens)

I'm going to be honest, I was worried about something before I wrote this. Worried about tomorrow. I had the knot in my throat and the stare into another dimension. I thought you should know this because every time you read a self-help article, the author always sounds so perfect. So lifeless. Like if Bill Gates just got a check for a trillion dollars and was walking home smiling. On his way, he meets a person about to jump off a bridge. So Gates tells him, "Hey don't jump. Life's actually really good. Look, I got payed today. Just work hard buddy." And then he walks away. What a slap on the face. That's how I imagine most self-help writers are. But I want you to know that I was worried about tomorrow again. And I felt better as I wrote this. So thank you.

All I ever wanted was to know that everything will be okay. I think that's what we all really want. But we will be okay. It's a practice. 

Take a deep breath. Do it with me. Slowly. Repeat. Your worries are nothing. Just some thought this human body came up with. Nonexistent. Not in the grand scheme of things. Imagine how big the universe is. And now juxtapose it with your small worry. It seems stupid to even to worry doesn't it? That's the practice. To realize it. Focus on what you have to do right now and you'll always be fine. Always.

And say:

"That's great Bill. I hope you have a great day. But have you met my dog? He'd love to see your carpet."

Do you have any suggestions on not worrying when it first hits? 

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