Something New for 30 Days.

My best friend shared this video with me the other day, and I find it just a fabulous idea! Matt Cutts is an engineer at Google working on search optimization. He gives this fabulous TED talk on trying something new for 30 days. He claims that is takes just about 30 days to create or drop a bad habit. With the 30 day challenge, Matt encourages people to make small sustainable changes in their life. Give yourself a new found confidence, a deeper appreciation, or an opportunity to develop a new skill. You can do anything for 30 days, and if you decide it’s just not for you….at least you can say you tried it.

Anyways, I won’t go on and on about it, but I encourage you to watch Matt’s video and challenge yourself. Try something for 30 days. ūüôā And know, you won’t be enduring the challenge alone. I will be right there with you.

Advertisements

We need each other.

I have had a lot of things racing through my mind lately, and today seemed to be the tipping point. On my lunch break, I went for a short walk to try and clear my mind and my burdensome heart, and this was the result of my walk….

As I was walking, I kept replaying all the things that have had me down lately. I started feeling sorry for myself noticing I was walking with my head down watching my feet move forward- left then right left then right. My shoulders were slumped over, and I know anyone watching me would think I was a pathetic excuse for a bad day.

After about 20 minutes into my walk, I grew tired¬†of being selfish with negative emotions. It wasn’t doing me any good walking around feeling sorry for myself and thinking about all the crappy things about life. So instead, I started to just observe. I pretended like I was invisible- that no one could see me, and I just watched. I completely absorbed the moment and watched as life was happening right in front me. Every anticipated step was a thought of the future, every step I was in was a gift of the present and every step I took was a memory of the past. I only felt truly alive in the gift of the present… so I sat down with hopes of freezing the moment. It felt like that anyway. More or less, I froze my life as I thought fluidly about the life of the people around me.

Sitting there, watching and observing, I realized that people are my source of healing. I feed off the energy of other people. Their personalities, nonverbals, actions, stories, advice and experiences are the food I need to nourish my energy supply. A life without other people is not a life at all. We need each other. We need each other to heal.

I think the greatest beauty in life is the beauty of human life. We are all brought to this world with the same love and innocence deep within. We grow up in different circumstances, we’re surrounded by different stories and we mature through different experiences, but we all have the same love and breathe of life within us. Watching people go about their day gave me a new appreciation for life- just how fragile and beautiful it really is.

We are all connected somehow in someway. We have all had those moments of “Wow! What a small world..”, but we need to start embracing it. The people that directly impact our lives- mentors, advisers, loved ones, friends, family, etc.- are the ones that give us the most energy. They are the ones we run to when life seems out of our control, but we also need to embrace the people we aren’t particularly close to. Whether they enter our life for five seconds then leave or remain in our lives for years, we need observe each other, appreciate and respect each other, and embrace the idea of genuine kindness toward one another. Why? Because we need each other.

AFI’s 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time

I have officially decided that one of my personal goals is to watch every movie on the AFI’s list of 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time. I would like to credit my friend Ashley for giving me the idea to conquer this quest. ūüôā I don’t want to be unrealistic with my deadline goal, but I would like to complete at least 75 % of the list by the end of this year.

Now you’re probably wondering why in the world I am making this a personal goal, and why the heck am I giving myself a deadline. I have been pondering lately about my knowledge of classic films and books. Unfortunately, I came up short because the truth of the matter is that I never ventured to read or watch the classic stuff. People make references to this or that, and quote such and such from whatever that movie is ALL OF THE TIME…. but I always find myself secluded in this little corner of “I have no idea what you’re talking about”. Therefore, I am going to stop being left in the dark and take matters into my own hands. The only reason I am giving myself a deadline is because if I don’t hold myself accountable, then I’ll forget all about my mission and won’t ever get around to completing it.

So… here is the list. I am working my way from top to bottom. If you’re interested in conquering this list with me, you can print a copy of the movies here.

# MOVIE YEAR
1 CITIZEN KANE 1941
2 CASABLANCA 1942
3 THE GODFATHER 1972
4 GONE WITH THE WIND 1939
5 LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 1962
6 THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939
7 THE GRADUATE 1967
8 ON THE WATERFRONT 1954
9 SCHINDLER’S LIST 1993
10 SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN 1952
11 IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE 1946
12 SUNSET BLVD. 1950
13 THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI 1957
14 SOME LIKE IT HOT 1959
15 STAR WARS 1977
16 ALL ABOUT EVE 1950
17 THE AFRICAN QUEEN 1951
18 PSYCHO 1960
19 CHINATOWN 1974
20 ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST 1975
21 THE GRAPES OF WRATH 1940
22 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 1968
23 THE MALTESE FALCON 1941
24 RAGING BULL 1980
25 E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL 1982
26 DR. STRANGELOVE 1964
27 BONNIE AND CLYDE 1967
28 APOCALYPSE NOW 1979
29 MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON 1939
30 THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE 1948
31 ANNIE HALL 1977
32 THE GODFATHER PART II 1974
33 HIGH NOON 1952
34 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 1962
35 IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT 1934
36 MIDNIGHT COWBOY 1969
37 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES 1946
38 DOUBLE INDEMNITY 1944
39 DOCTOR ZHIVAGO 1965
40 NORTH BY NORTHWEST 1959
41 WEST SIDE STORY 1961
42 REAR WINDOW 1954
43 KING KONG 1933
44 THE BIRTH OF A NATION 1915
45 A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE 1951
46 A CLOCKWORK ORANGE 1971
47 TAXI DRIVER 1976
48 JAWS 1975
49 SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 1937
50 BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID 1969
51 THE PHILADELPHIA STORY 1940
52 FROM HERE TO ETERNITY 1953
53 AMADEUS 1984
54 ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT 1930
55 THE SOUND OF MUSIC 1965
56 M*A*S*H 1970
57 THE THIRD MAN 1949
58 FANTASIA 1940
59 REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE 1955
60 RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 1981
61 VERTIGO 1958
62 TOOTSIE 1982
63 STAGECOACH 1939
64 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND 1977
65 THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 1991
66 NETWORK 1976
67 THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE 1962
68 AN AMERICAN IN PARIS 1951
69 SHANE 1953
70 THE FRENCH CONNECTION 1971
71 FORREST GUMP 1994
72 BEN-HUR 1959
73 WUTHERING HEIGHTS 1939
74 THE GOLD RUSH 1925
75 DANCES WITH WOLVES 1990
76 CITY LIGHTS 1931
77 AMERICAN GRAFFITI 1973
78 ROCKY 1976
79 THE DEER HUNTER 1978
80 THE WILD BUNCH 1969
81 MODERN TIMES 1936
82 GIANT 1956
83 PLATOON 1986
84 FARGO 1996
85 DUCK SOUP 1933
86 MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY 1935
87 FRANKENSTEIN 1931
88 EASY RIDER 1969
89 PATTON 1970
90 THE JAZZ SINGER 1927
91 MY FAIR LADY 1964
92 A PLACE IN THE SUN 1951
93 THE APARTMENT 1960
94 GOODFELLAS 1990
95 PULP FICTION 1994
96 THE SEARCHERS 1956
97 BRINGING UP BABY 1938
98 UNFORGIVEN 1992
99 GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER 1967
100 YANKEE DOODLE DANDY 1942

Faith, Hope and a Life Long Journey

“Studies in psychoanalysis tell us that man is on a constant journey. Through our struggles, we gain the capacity to understand that we are not competing with one another, but we are surviving with one another. This consciousness leads us to mutual understanding, acceptance, and ultimately, respect. Thinking along these lines, we see that we are not nouns but verbs; we, as human beings, are always in a process of change and development. There is continual growth, and like anything that grows, there is nurturing.” –Andrew Luisi

As many of you know, a large part of my involvement as an undergraduate at the University of Tampa was in interfaith initiatives on campus and in the community. My second year as an undergrad, I contacted the Dean of Students looking for ways to better immerse myself on campus and in the community. I was searching for an avenue to find meaning and passion in a point in my life that was rather boring and unproductive. I was thirsty for change and hungry for making a difference. I am not sure if I was looking to find redemption because of my rather selfish acts the year prior, but I knew in my heart I needed to fill a void that was eating at me inside. When she invited me to attend the Faith, Values and Spirituality Resource Team meetings, I was very excited but doubtful that it would be my niche. And a niche was exactly what I was searching for.

To my dismay, the Resource Team was the best thing that could have happened to me. I couldn’t have joined the Resource Team at a better time. The team was exploring options of interfaith programming on campus and ways to better involve our community faith partners with students. Due to my loss of self and questionable faith the year before, I was anxious to find the path I veered off and uncover the new territory necessary to finding me. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to help me rediscover¬†what¬†I lost while working toward something to develop a deeper sense of community and understanding. With the help of the¬† Interfaith Youth Core, the Resource Team was able to build an overwhelming amount of support from the Tampa Bay community and UT faculty, staff and administration.¬†Eboo Patel, founder of IFYC, made a special visit to campus to talk with students about the interfaith movement and to educate members of the Resource Team about how to catalyze such a movement on campus, but they needed a student leader to take the reigns. I knew in my heart that was going to be my job… I was going to take the reigns of leadership and introduce the student body to this foreign concept of coexisting among faith all while trying to restore my own faith.

The summer going into my senior year was a pivotal point in my development as a leader, but also in the development of my faith and my passion for humanity. I worked endless hours with fellow students and mentors to develop a constitution for our new student organization, Better Together Interfaith Student Group. We were dedicated to interfaith cooperation on campus and in the greater community, and wanted to promote understanding and respect for diverse spiritual and nonspiritual beliefs by means of dialogue, education and advocacy. We wanted to promote awareness and understanding of both similarities and differences between all religions, as well as establish a basis in which students could develop strong diverse friendships through interfaith cooperation.

That summer, I attended the Interfaith Leadership Institute in Washington, D.C. with two of my peers and our Better Together adviser. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the conference with students and interfaith leaders from all different faith and non-faith backgrounds. I was just this small town girl that only knew of Christianity and¬†Judaism, and my only other faith knowledge came from movies and TV shows. :S Ugh… I felt so uneducated. Despite my “life-in-a-box” syndrome, I learned so much about different faiths,¬†non-faiths, beliefs and perspectives on religion, the world and humanity. To this day, I have never felt more accepted, comfortable and hopeful than I did when I was at the Leadership Institute. The interfaith leaders empowered us to take hold of the movement and educate others about the need to build bridges rather than allow faith to be our divide.

My longing for passion and meaning was no more. I found my niche. I uncovered this interest and eagerness that I know I will carry with me for the remainder of my life. My senior year was filled with joys, hopeful moments, learning curves, disappointments and struggles as I built our  interfaith organization and introduced it to the student body. I will be the first to admit that there were more disappointments than successes to celebrate, but each disappointment was ingrained with a learning lesson. Those learning lessons truly molded me as a leader and as an interfaith activist.

Unfortunately, graduation ended my efforts with UT’s Better Together Interfaith organization, but it has not ended the movement on campus and in my heart. Although my interfaith efforts at UT are currently on pause until I can return as a¬†professional, my interfaith efforts in my life are on-going. Through my¬†initiatives¬†as an interfaith leader, I have learned so much about myself and my faith. Granted, I still have much to learn, but I am comforted knowing my faith journey is my own. And as far as I’m concerned, I will always be on a faith journey… learning, living, loving and developing that relationship with my God, but I will forever be an advocate for respect and understanding.

Like Andrew said, through our struggles, we gain the capacity to understand that we are not competing with one another, but we are surviving with one another. We are all on our own personal faith journey discovering what it is we believe. What one person believes is no better than what someone else¬†believes. This is not a¬†competition¬†of what to believe. We are merely surviving together. We are discovering what it is that makes us happy, what makes us love, what makes us serve and what makes us fall to our knees in rejoice. When you find someone that identifies with you hold onto them, but for the love of humanity, don’t shut the door to your heart in another believer’s face. Open your heart to them, learn about what makes them happy and befriend them. We are blind in our own faith until we know what’s it’s like to see in another. If we continue to look at faith as a matter of right and wrong, we will never complete the journey to finding ourselves and we will never achieve peace…. yes, world peace.