March 2012

Klony Island

I feel high, higher than I have ever felt in my whole two months of being here.
Don’t make me take my one last puff or make me hit my last blunt.
Smoking is the one thing that connects me to the grounds and nature.
Don’t take that sort of life from me, don’t make me be one of you.
I will take my cigarette, I will take the time I need to escape.
Have a piece of my own sanity.
Don’t huddle over my shoulder.
I have found my way, to get high, to escape.
To find my peace, to hangout with my peace.
Don’t interrupt me in my trance.
I’m so far gone, you might not reach me.

Coming back to Klony Island is always a treat.
The skies are blue and in great weather and the greens are all luscious.
All the noises are blasted, but nothing is more harmonic and rhythmic than those noises.
My body within ten minutes becomes high, like a feather on a duck.
Just flowing in the wind by a creature. Not going anywhere particular.
Just for freedom.
To dip my wings in something magical.
The voices of many languages are almost becoming so familiar, I can understand them better.
The sound of a dying language consumes my thought as I think, “could these be one of them?”
Of course not.

Klony Island does not become extinct, nor will anything in it.
Klony Island is a place where passions live forever.
Legends make legacies.
Klony Island is a place of peace, contentment, freedom, and liberty.
You are who you are. And nobody cares.
You are what makes it special.
You are what makes it unforgettable.

My spill.

 

In the last couple weeks, I have fully mended the outer personality of myself that others have long known and the inner alter-ego I have inside of me. Everyone, I believe, has one. We have all been raised a certain way, are familiar with a certain lifestyle, but there is something inside of us that is a completely opposite person. No, I’m not talking about split personalities here. I am talking about our yang. Someone we have always wanted to be, but are maybe scared to start being that person, worried that it’s too much of a change from who we have always been. I have always been a slacker. I have always been the class clown, the dumb brunette, the loud mouth who says foolish things. I have never been the one boys flock to, for the reasons worth flocking. I have never been the leader. In the past couple years, I have so desperately wanted to be the tall, happy, confident, definite person. I just couldn’t break the habit of breaking the rules and the law all the time. I was in such a habit  of it, I didn’t even have to try. It just came natural. I hated this. But I tried to change so dramatically, too fast. I became one person around my family and another around my friends. I lied to people, because I guess, in truth, I had completely lost touch with myself. I couldn’t give someone an accurate description of me, because I didn’t  know who I was anymore. I did things I never wanted to do. Hurt people I never intended on hurting.

 

One great thing about being in China, is that I have absolutely no physical connection with anyone. I am grateful for that. I needed this time to figure out who I really was. Do I like to party and drink? Or do I not? Do I like to sit home on the weekends sometimes and just finish reading a book? Do I like working out or like to be lazy? Do I love writing or can I put it off? Do I like to be defiant to make a point, or can I be happy obeying the law?
All these questions swarmed my head. There are some things I just couldn’t stop thinking about. Things I finally confronted to myself and why I did them.
Why I liked them. Why I despised the decision I made.

This is what I learned:

I learned that you can’t base your decision off other people’s opinions. No matter how much you love them and respect them. Ultimately, you have to do what you want to do or what is right for you. You don’t owe anybody around you any justification for your actions. You talked the talked and walked the walked. Whatever you do in a lifetime is done and whether people like it or not, that is their opinion and they do not own you.

I realized, “So what? I like to party. I like to have a drink once in a while. I love wine. I don’t think marijuana is a big deal. I love getting piercings and tattoos and spending money on jewelry and traveling. I love to dance, whether in front of people or alone. I will strive to have a job where I enjoy my time there. I don’t think I will ever have a desk job. I like waking up and deciding I want to leave for 3-10 days on a road trip with my friends, just to hangout with other friends in other states. My relationships are important to me, and I will be damned if having $100 in my bank account stops me from going anywhere.” I am an ambivert. Sometimes I like to be the life of the party. Sometimes, I have way too much to drink and I wobble when I walk. Sometimes I am the sober driver who takes one smell of liquor and gags. Sometimes I realize how ridiculous I must look when I wobble.

But I am young. I don’t need to have it all together right this second. I am 20 years old and I still have the choice to make small mistakes like waking up with a hangover on a Sunday afternoon or getting a tattoo I will have the joy in telling the story about for years to come. “Oh yeah, I met the singer of one of my favorite bands. He autographed my favorite freckle by my right breast and the next day after school I went and got it tattooed.” Yep, I am that girl. And I am proud to be that girl.

Sometimes I am a walking contradiction, like how this post must sound. I must sound like I really don’t have the grasp on life, but the truth is: I do. Maybe I don’t have a clue what life should look like in your eyes, or the President’s eyes, or even my own mother’s. But that’s the beauty of the mind. It’s your own. It develops and grows from the lessons you learn, the ideas you construct, and the experiences you endure. You get the free range of creativity that you want and your mind is the one place where you cannot hide from.

I like art, but I can barely draw a stick figure wearing clothes. I love cultures and languages, but can’t keep a conversation going in Spanish or Chinese. I love panini’s from Zupa’s and as much as I would love to make my own, I would rather spend the overpriced seven dollars and have them make it to perfection because they use the perfect about of pesto sauce in between the layers of bread. There are things in life where I am not trying to rush the beauty of. I will learn how to create pictures of art when I am ready. I think in pictures.  I don’t know what it’s like to hear something and see WORDS in my head. I just never have. Everything in my head, I see very detailed and colorful, moving pictures. Like a movie. I suppose that’s why I have always loved writing. It’s the one place I have always been able to describe what I am thinking. I definitely consider myself a better writer than I am a thinker. I like to write and create pictures for other people to imagine, because for me, it’s natural. I love looking at my best friend’s paintings and writing about it. How she comes up with the pictures on a canvas is far beyond my comprehension. I can see it, smell it, feel it, and fully pretend it is on the paper in front of me, but when it comes time to bringing the picture to life, it shows up in words.

I am very different. I love spirits and ghosts. I love to have my palms read. I love to drink wine and watch movies on my couch. I like to have friends over for dinner, even though they never come. I like to listen to LDS Conferences, but have no desire to be apart of the religion. I like to meditate and have my thoughts to myself and then go out with 10 friends, dancing. I like to eat Big Macs or drink a Chai after a big workout, just because I can.

 

 

I am learning to live by my own standards. I am mending my yin (Zynnia) and yang (Ashlyn) together. I feel powerful. I feel confident. I feel intelligent. I feel creative. I feel like a leader. I am in a constant state of eudemonia. I feel comfortable saying, “No” to something I don’t like. I feel comfortable giving my opinion. I feel better when I can make a decision quickly. I no longer like to procrastinate and be unprepared. Being late has become a new pet peeve of mine. I talk less, but say more important things. I am much more inquisitive and charming. I am less fearless. I am learning how to <a href=”http://planetzynnia.com/?p=183“>control my emotions</a> and take a stand for my actions and what I believe to be right.

China has been the self-discovering journey that I have longed for, for so long. I couldn’t be more thankful that I have the chance to be here and to be selfless and in turn, find out who I am. What I like. What I want. What I stand for. I think many people go through life, never being fully in touch with themselves. They go with the flow, go with the norm, swim with the rest of the fish in the sea. Ever since I was little, my mom has always said, “If we were all the same, we would be eating at Taco Bell.” I guess you could say, this phrase helped mold me. Or break the mold I was in.

 

It’s important sometimes to break rules. Sneak out. Keep a secret for yourself. Do something dangerous. If the sign says “No Trespassing” GO. Just once. Throw yourself out there. Say hi to a stranger. Go skinny dipping. Kiss a stranger in a different country. Skip church and sleep in the park, gazing at the clouds. Meditate for hours. INDULGE. Vent, scream, throw something if you have to. LET IT OUT! Cry. Give a bum some money. Tell a bum to work for it. Stay out past curfew. LIVE. Take a road trip just to eat at a restaurant in a different state. Tell your parents you believe something different. Cut off your locks just to grow it back out. Go out with no makeup on, if you dare. Get a Brazilian wax.

 

Find your real passion. Find your real you.
GO AGAINST THE GRAIN TO DO IT!
Make your own paradise and live in it. Respect yourself for making it. Depend on yourself for keeping it. And never, EVER, let anyone think they have the power to take it away from you.

Magnify Your Calling

Today was Mindy’s birthday. We were scheduled to have another amazing Sunday lunch in the commons when they were done with church at 11am. I made sure to be all ready by that time to start helping prepare the food and dishes.
At 11 on the dot, I was sitting.on the couch, waiting for them to finish. Only this week, Sarah was teaching their Sunday school. I decided to stay, because any company is better than sitting alone, bored, in my dorm.
Listening to her talk, she did a subject on “magnifying your calling” and it more than caught my attention.
I ended up joining the discussion and comparing everything to life, instead of the just the church.

There is one thing to be learned from today….. We must magnify our callings in life! When you want something so bad in life, you will make time for it. You will always have the energy to put effort towards your goal. You will find a way to persist and work dilligently, passionately, and thoroughly.
You can make it to the top by half-assing it, sure, but you will feel ten times better knowing you kicked your own ass to get there.

Better Than A Salary…..

They have a school newspaper here. I have never seen it before today.
Last Thursday, my ELE class was skipped, because the students all had to an annual required test. You know, to graduate to the ascending grade. When I was talking to their teacher, Annie, she asked me how to spell my name. She said, “The kids! I have them write something for you. You see!”
And at first, it meant nothing to me. I figured, to test their skills for English, she would have them write a passage about me to explain how they have come to know more English.

So, walking into my class today, the last thing I expected was Annie running up to me with bright rosy, flourished cheeks and had me the paper, exclaiming, “Look what the kids have done for you!!!! They write this about you!!!” She was giggling and laughing and I was squealing like a kid!!! I could not believe how amazing it was!!! They describe me as  “a beautiful and lovely teacher” 🙂

When I was telling my friend, John, tonight, he said that he would translate it for me next time we hung out. I am going to laminate it and frame it with pictures of the class. John didn’t know that I don’t get a salary here and when I told him I am here as a volunteer, he said the coolest thing. He said, “Ahhhh, where there is your salary right in your hands. That is better than any amount of money.”

They don’t lie to you when they tell you that the best things in life are for free. I never expected my name to be next to Chinese lettering. Letting it be known that to some people, I really did make an impact. I made a difference in their lives. I uplifted them. I changed something for the better. I was a good force on the world! I couldn’t thank those kids enough. Not even with the cupcakes and cookies I am bringing them this week to class. I could not thank them enough for the gift they have given me. In turn, they have made an impact on my life. My world has gotten better with all the surroundings of the kids here at Mayflora. I am only a month and a half in, and I am already missing everyone around me!

Sunday Brunch

So, last night and this morning, there was the LDS Steak Conference. I am not active in the Mormon community, however, if there is one thing I don’t miss, it’s listening to the Conference talks. Whether I am in church with my uncle and his family or I am watching it on TV with my mom, it’s just one thing I have always done.

I love listening to the talks, because I feel like the meanings and morals of the stories can be applied to every day life. Some of the things I have learned about in the last two days are, for one, that everybody needs a temple. It doesn’t matter what religion you are. Figure out what you believe in, find a temple for it, and go daily. Make your spiritual connection a strong one. A durable one. A powerful one. For me, I’m still drawn to the Hindu temples and Buddhism/Taoism practicing. And that’s okay! But it’s more than just saying, “I’m Hindu. I’m Mormon. I’m Jewish. I’m Catholic.” You must practice it. You must really believe in it. If you believe in something so much, why wouldn’t you want to be a part of it?

There are many things about the LDS Church that I do like. I have been around it my whole life and have met many amazing people who are members. I love how many of them can be so humble. I love how forgiving they are. I love their sense of cleanliness and hospitality. I love how helpful they are and how they can think of so many creative activities to do, without the involvement of drugs and alcohol. I love their spirit. I love that they encourage praying, because like any religion, praying is so important. It doesn’t matter which version of God you believe in, but praying is such an amazing way to talk to him. It’s easy, and there is no wrong way to do it. Trust me, if you ask my family what my prayers sound like, they will tell you I have a unique style. But, one of the things I love the most is that they encourage family dinners.

Growing up, all my friends ate with their families. Same time, everyday. My family and I were sort of different. Sometimes our friends ate over, sometimes we ate at their house. Sometimes my mom was gone at her second job, so my sister would make us Spaghetti. Sometimes I was the only one home, so I made a microwave Bean & Cheese burrito. We ate when we were hungry and we ate on our time for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, we still had nights where my mom and dad would cook a great feast and dessert and we would love and joke around the table. Family dinners were just never a mandatory setting in my household growing up. I never realized how important they were until the older I kept getting.

Gathering around the table with food and loved ones for a meal is a great way to strength bonds with them. To ask questions and get to them more. I wonder all the time, if we had family dinners every night, would I have been so rebellious? Would I have ever started lying? Would I have ever made the bad choices that I have throughout my teenage years? If by eating a family dinner every night, would my siblings and I have teased each other less? Would we have been more family oriented instead of so independent? Would we have used the words, “I love you” before waiting until we were moved out to say it?

Probably.

But, the past is the past and the future is ours. We love cooking together now. We never end a phone call or Skype call or leave without saying, I love you. We always remember to encourage the little ones to be the best they can and stay away from the bad influences.

Today, after conference, my teaching group and I got out plates and made the settings around our Commons table. Sarah had potatoes and carrots cooking in the pressure cooker with Garlic and onions. We all chipped in donations with bananas, oranges, apples, and dragon fruit. We all helped cut the fruit and make two bowls of fruit salads. We had two chocolate desserts, divided evenly among us. We all shared equally and had such a great time talking about our experiences back home. The food was great, and the company was even better. Since there are seven people in my group, including me, we remind me a lot of the MTV show The Real World. Minus the fights and alcohol. We are seven strangers (mostly) who got assigned together in one far away land. Just after a month now, we have gotten to see so many sides of each other. We have had disagreements, misunderstandings, and multiple encouraging days with each other.

I never thought I would be able to fit in with such a group. They are all active members of the church, and I am the black sheep. However, we all know this and we have all come to accept it. I don’t feel any pressure from them and I like that. We have a respect for each other and I am so grateful to be around people like this. They have helped changed my life so far. To have a chance to have a Sunday Brunch with them is magical, as they will never know how much it means to me.

I cherish every Sunday and I see why it’s such a popular and peaceful day. It was the day I used to make Sunday dinners with my best friends. It was the day I took my 20 mile bike rides in the hot summer sun and got to enjoy the scenery. It was the day I spent with my mom, shopping and laying back at her house. It is the day that, I don’t have to get ready if I don’t want to. It’s the day I get to do whatever I choose. I get to spend it writing and reading all day if I want. The day I spend hours wandering the park. The day I would eat breakfast at my aunt and uncle’s house with all my cousins and mom and talk around their huge dining room table. The day I went to the dog park with my best friend Allison and her pack of dogs. The day a Vanilla Chai never tasted sweeter.

Sundays are one of the best days for that very reason. They are special.

I am grateful to have the friendships I have made here and the lessons I have learned thus far. Today has been great 🙂 It’s a grateful day. A happy day. And right now, I couldn’t ask for more.

Emotions on an Average Day

Generally, when we speak to somebody, one of the first questions we ask them is, “How are you, today?”
With which, they generally reply, “I’m good. How are you?”

But the truth is, we’re not always good. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are sad or troubled if we’re not just “good”, but we have developed such a habit to giving such a mundane answer. We have personally taken it upon ourselves to see the five main emotions a human holds: Sad, Happy, Angry, Depressed, and Confused.

What the majority of us do not realize, is how many emotions we go through, on average per day.

For the last thirty days, I did a very personal challenge, of which nobody knew. Throughout the day, I kept a small diary and would list down a new emotion every time I felt it rise. At the end of the day when I looked over the different words that filled my pages, I even surprised myself. How could I feel so happy and ecstatic, but then sink down to reluctance and hatred? How could I feel misunderstanding yet just after, feel enlightened? Lazy and motivated in the same day?

I never realized how quick emotions can change and how fast we can change them. The great part was, the more I was noticing myself rising with dark emotions such as hatred, jealousy, anger, contempt, and even the word murderous got written down; I was able to control it more. Throughout the days of completing this challenge, I have noticed a more calm sense in my attitude and actions. I am not so outrageous anymore. I am not so foolish in my words. I no longer feel obnoxious or embarrassed. I feel more confident and powerful than I ever have – because I do have the power to control my emotions.

That’s the problem we have. We don’t confront our emotions and then find solutions to them. Some of us have simply become so unaware of them, we ignore them and pretend we aren’t really feeling that way. That is the wrong thing to do if you ever want to be happy. It’s like ignoring a problem you have. The more you ignore it, the more life you are giving it. It comes to control you, eventually, and will stop at nothing until you surrender. Repressing emotions is not only unhealthy, but can drive you absolutely bonkers during the battle.

 

I’m here to tell you, you have a choice.

We are all capable of being happy. That is one of the main things I have learned in the last thirty days. I was definitely one of the people who let stress eat them alive. I emotionally ate. I replaced a bad thought with one very hopeful one, crossing my fingers that the latter would put me in a state in belief. That everything would be magically alright. I have not only noticed how many feelings I get a day (or an hour for that matter), but I have seen through experience now, how powerful we are to create the world we live in.

I have tried to read The Secret twice. I couldn’t ever finish it. I guess it just wasn’t enough to draw me in. However, one great thing I took from the book is the quote, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.” Despite knowing what the obvious message was, I never fully put it to practice. I couldn’t understand. I thought, “So, what? If I just say I want something, it will come? If I say I will be on time, will I?” I expected it to be much easier than I thought. During this challenge, on Day #6, I was in a very low state of mind. As I was laying in my bed, having a pity party, I stopped in mid-thought.
“Why am I doing this to myself? What is sitting here going to solve, versus actually solving it? I can’t keep doing this. I will have the worst time if I keep up this act.” Right then and there I thought, “This will be life-changing experience. I am good enough to teach. I am good enough to fit in. I am smart enough to learn. I am helpful enough to be listened to. I am important.”

After that, at the beginning of every day, I said to myself, “Today will be great. Today, I will learn new ways to teach. Today, I will have patience. Lunch will be great. Today, the energy will be powerful and exciting.” I would say a quick prayer and run out the door.
Every day since then, the days have become progressively better, warmer, and more enlightening then anything else. I understand now, what was meant in The Secret when they tell you, “If you can believe it, you can achieve it.” Because I do believe it. I have been achieving it and will continue to.

The more you can control your emotions and accept them for what they are, I guarantee the happier you will become. You will find the yang to your yin. You will smile with peace at your inner chi. You will have the confidence and new-found ability to do things, you never thought you could.

So start today. Take control of your life. Make it what you want.