Thursday, November 13, 2014

Winter's Arrival .

It's been a long time since I've sat down just to write. It's hard to find the time to do much of anything along those lines when I'm in school. As of today, I have about three weeks left of the first term of the year. The time has flown, really. Three weeks sounds so short... yet in reality that's a little less than a third of a term. I suppose it's longer than it sounds. The weather for today (yes, I'm really talking about weather...) is freezing rain, wintry mix, some snow... pretty crazy. But even though winter officially starts in December, I think that it usually just starts a little earlier in the PNW. That's definitely the case in the mountains, anyway. It can be depressing at times, and sometimes it's sort of weird because it makes you feel a little lonely in a weird sort of way, as if the weather robs you of your company. But at the same time it can be quite beautiful.

The schoolwork has picked up to the degree that I doubt I'll be able to do much in the upcoming weeks for fun. I have been keeping up with my workouts at the gym, but that's probably only because I put that as a priority above pretty much everything else. I'm itching to get outdoors more, even with the weather... I miss all the hiking I was able to do in the North Cascades during the summer. It makes me yearn even more for the crisp, fresh air and the feeling of escape, not to mention the wonder and elation you have being outside completely on your own. At times it's even unnerving... but as they say, it's good to be outside your comfort zone once in awhile. Just don't get lost out there.. haha.

On the subject of this blog, I know I have neglected it for far too long. Life gets in the way sometimes I guess. Maybe I just don't have the same motivation I did years ago. Or that I have convinced myself I don't have the time. In any event, I'm going to accept that I probably won't post too much until grad school is done in June. I think my email is on here somewhere, if you're interested in getting in touch. I also write a newsletter that I mail out every three months, so people can see what I'm up to. If you're interested in getting that, let me know!! Hope life is treating everyone well; until next time, whenever that may be.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Motivation & Giving Up.

We as a society want things to come too easily. We are too content to sit at our desks during the day at our jobs and expect promotions and new opportunities to fall into our laps. We lack motivation, drive, perseverance, and instead rely on upon the world of social media and living vicariously through TV shows and movies to replace the good vibes that occur ONLY with the results from hard. work.

I read a book a while back called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The book is all about how some people are predetermined for greatness, and certain circumstances have led them to be this way. While I respect that opinion, I'm calling bullshit. There is nothing we cannot do, nothing we cannot achieve, no goal we can't reach. Genetics aside, "free" time aside, opportunities aside, economy aside, war aside, when will we understand? There is not a single thing on this earth that can hold you back from what you want to achieve. All you have to do... is want it bad enough.

At the end of "Outliers" Gladwell talks about young students in school, and how over the years the amount of time we are willing to spend attempting something has gotten to be less and less. You see, in school we are taught that if we don't know the answer, all we have to do is wait and it will be given to us. What kind of lesson is that!? What kind of world are we setting up our children for? And we wonder why people struggle so much to succeed, to keep on their diets, to exercise regularly, to do anything that requires an ounce of motivation: Because we are trained to believe that if we can't do something right away, that we can just wait and it will come to us.

Here's your wake up call:

That's not how life works.

In the words of motivational speaker Eric Thomas, when you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, THEN you will be successful.

The time we have on Earth is so limited. Break it down to a decade, a year, a week, a day, an hour. Why not start now? Why not make the most of it? Honestly, what have you got to lose?

It's easy to be positive when everything is going your way. A steady job, good family relationship, steady girlfriend, loving wife, regular paycheck, gains at the gym... but that's not the point. It's what you do when you are kicked down that makes the difference. Because most people are content to sit and wait for things to get better instead of getting out there and doing something about it. After all, that is what we have been trained to do! Now imagine if every person who has given up decided that they wanted to keep. On. Trying. Imagine the resulting world we would live in!

There is no reason why you can't start working on your dreams today. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to motivate yourself. There is no reason for you to EVER give up, and friends, there is no time like the present.

DO something with your life. Settle for nothing. DECIDE that you are going to be better.

And then just fucking DO IT.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Are You Successful?

What is success to you? Is it making a lot of money? Having a family? Being happy? Climbing the ranks in the professional world? Many people relate success to physical consequences of being successful. Success, is what it is to you.

It's not any one thing. No one person is successful or not successful. We all have this view in our heads of people that are successful, that have attained success. Why is this so often linked to wealth and fame? Let's look at this for a moment.

People who are known globally around the world all have one thing in common. They are the best at what they do. They have worked, so hard, to reach whatever they consider to be success. And have reached this idea with such fervor and ferocity that other people noticed. They have given so much of themselves and poured so much of their efforts into one, single, focused thing, that they have had an impact on other people.

When we put our minds to something, one thing, we must stay focused on that goal. We must keep this in our sights: our view of success. It's not created out of hope, or hard work alone, or wishes, or luck. You have to make a decision to be a success in your own eyes. And no one can take that choice away from you. Because once that choice is engrained in your mind, there isn't a thing in this world that can take it away from you. Burn it into your brain. Make it the first thing you think of when you wake up, and the last thing you think of before you to go sleep. Dream about it, even. If you keep your focus on your version of success, there isn't any way that you can't reach it.

I challenge you today to look back on your life up until this point and rethink the things that you claimed as successes. Challenge your identity and the way that you view success. Rewrite the script and give yourself a critique of those things you have claimed. Have you earned your successes? If you haven't, they are no longer successes.

Success, to me is not about status. Money. A job position. It's about the challenges that I set in place for myself. It's about goals that are so high that it's impossible for me to initially reach them. Because when I have become a strong enough person to finally get there. Only then, can I call myself successful.

But it doesn't end there. That's only the beginning...

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Life is calling. It's your time to shine.

I haven't sat down and written anything for this blog in months. I think my last post may vey well be from back in March, and now it is mid August. A lot has changed in that time, including myself. Let me preface this with an apology for how long it has taken me to get back to this little corner of the Internet that I started, not that I owe it to anybody. I started this blog with grand intentions in my sophomore year of college, and used to write every day. Truth be told, I really miss this space. The cathartic feeling that comes from putting words down, and the interactions between those who still remember this blog. So while I can't promise frequent posts, or even regular ones, I'll see what I can do. It just has to become more of a priority.

Back when school was going on, I attended a career fair and in hopes of landing a job for the summer. As many of you know, I am an architecture major. This unfortunately means that the amount of jobs out there is not always large, and landing internships without any experience is tough. However, I ended up talking with a few firms there, had my portfolio ready, and left feeling pretty good about a few prospects.

Long story short, I am now currently working for a good-sized firm in downtown Seattle. I've been there around 7 weeks now since I moved to Seattle, and I really am enjoying the job. It's a healthy work atmosphere, and there are a lot of great people that work there that I really enjoy spending time with. I am hoping that when all is said and done and I finish up my last year of school down in Portland, that I will be offered a job back at this firm.

Living in Seattle has been a dream. For any of you who have heard good things about the Pacific Northwest, I would say that Seattle is the culmination of all of the amazing things that this region has to offer. The first thing that is awesome is how excited people are about the place they live. People can't get enough of the PNW and the mountains and the ocean and rivers. Everyone loves the outdoors, so much so that you can't ever be outside without seeing a million people running or biking or rollerblading or even just sitting. I've gone on a trip almost every weekend since I got here, visiting Olympic National Park, climbing mountains and fire lookouts, visiting deciduous rainforests and the foggy coastline. There is so much here for me, and so much of it aligns with the things that I love to do. Seattle is a generally vibrant city, with people liking to work hard, play hard, and stay in shape. All the different neighborhoods have their different vibes and totally different lifestyles.

I live in Queen Anne, which is pretty much an amalgamation of intercity living and suburbs. Out my window I can see a lot of the buildings downtown in addition to the Space Needle. The Elliot Bay waterfront is a five minute walk west of me, and my commute downtown is only 20 minutes or so. It's safe to say I have truly fallen in love with this place. It felt like home almost immediately, and I can't help but smile when I drive home down the roads from a fun night out, whether in Montlake or West Seattle or Ballard; looking at the city skyline with its shimmering lights, and feeling my heart well up with a fondness I have for no other city. There is magic here, and you can always feel it.

There is still a lot of traveling I would love to do around the area, but whether my financial funds will support that yet; I don't know. I have found a new place to live in Portland for my very last year of school (in my life... how crazy is that) and will be moving there in September. I have truly been blessed in all my experiences thus far this summer; meeting new people and hanging with coworkers, going out for lunch, climbing mountains and going on overnight backpacking trips. I've got to get back to planning for the next big adventure tomorrow, which is a mountain in the North Cascade range, but I'll write back here again soon, so I hope to hear from all of you that used to read this blog.

For those of you who receive my newsletters, the next one is virtually on its way.. and I know it's late. And if any of you are interested in following along with my adventures visually, I post pretty much every day on Instagram; @pndub_live.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Death .

This past weekend at mass the pastor talked about death, reflecting upon the parable of Lazarus' resurrection. So often we pit death against God, blaming Him for taking away the people or animals that we love and have come to expect to always be there. Why is this? I think that it's really hard to deal with permanent separation. It's the same sort of concept as the end of a relationship, in a way, in that you probably will not cross paths with that person again unless you were lucky enough to have an amicable separation. However, death is much more permanent.

Death is a really intriguing and simultaneously terrifying subject to me, in that we really don't have a clue what is going to happen. Being a firm believer in Catholicism, I believe that there is a Heaven out there for us and that the soul never truly dies - only the vessel within which it lives for time spent on Earth. That much is comforting. However, passing on into another life where you have no idea what will happen is terrifying. I believe that there is this innate fear of the unknown in all of us; that even those who have seemingly unshakeable faith will be nervous on their deathbed. Life as we know it completely changes, both for the person passing and those around them. Wounds are incredibly hard to heal when they are so permanent, and to no longer be able to see, talk to, or touch a person you have loved for so long is one of the hardest things in the world to accept.

And yet, it is one of the few things we cannot control. Time always passes, often at a rapidly fast rate without us even realizing, and soon we feel like we are running out of time.

In the movie PS I Love You, one of the characters dies right in the opening few scenes. Being an Irishman, his funeral consists of toasting shots to him and placing the empty glasses on his urn. I feel like in a way, I'd like my funeral to be like this. It is my wish that those that I leave behind are not stricken with grief, that instead they celebrate my accomplishments, experiences, and passion for living life abundantly. There is so much in this world to explore, new places to go, new people to meet, experiences to be captured and things to do! Death is simply a new chapter in our eternal books.

And while it still terrifies me when I think about what the heck happens when I die and what it will be like, I have a long time yet (let's hope) before that point, and I will continue to try to make the most of every single day that I have here on this Earth.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Into Dust .

So many. So many lost and forgotten.
Crumbled from what they once were, disintegrated into dust.
The stories of days, weeks and years past
No longer around
No longer read
No longer remembered
Where have these people gone?
Where have they disappeared to?
Where have their lives brought them now?
Yet there are those that continue
That share their stories; their lives
There are those that comfort and console
Befriend and encourage
Motivate and compliment.
Forget not the friends of years past
Forget not the stories they told
of triumphs and tragedies
But of most forget not the people
behind those words.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Is God Dead ?

If you follow movies at all, you'll know that there are two "religious" movies that recently came out. Most recently is "Noah," but about a week before that, a movie called "God's Not Dead" made its debut. I had seen an ad and it piqued my interest, and began reading reviews, almost all of which were pretty sour on the film. Perhaps against my better judgment, I figured I would give it a shot and go see it anyway.

I must admit I was terribly disappointed. And I'd like to explain why. 

(please note that this will contain movie spoilers)

If you don't know, the movie's premise is that a guy starting college enrolls in a philosophy class led by a tyrannic professor that is an atheist. The professor begins the first class by having every student write "God Is Dead" on a piece of paper and sign their name. Naturally, the Christian boy refuses and the rest of the movie is spent following him attempting to prove God's existence (in three 20 minute class sessions allotted by the professor...the punishment for anyone who tries to go against him).

Already you should be saying to yourself, this is ridiculous. And you'd be right. The fact that there is even a professor like that in the movie is ridiculous. Such a person would immediately be removed from any level of academia, especially at a university. The absurd things continue throughout the movie.

From the opening scene, we begin following a multitude of people of all race and religion that have no real seeming connection to one another, except for the fact that they all live in the same town. Though all of their paths seem to randomly cross at one point or another, it's just too insane. The stereotypes are so evident it's borderline offensive: an Asian student studying abroad with an overbearing father heavily involved in business; a Muslim girl whose father makes her cover her face; and then of course the atheist professor and seemingly every other student at the school who seems to give no care to religion whatsoever. The movie is set up to victimize the one Christian kid in the movie. The fact of the matter is Christians are not a minority. And that's how they are portrayed in this movie. It's just not true! To suggest something like that in even the most remote aspect is ludicrous.

Another thing that bugged me was that the protagonist's girlfriend begs him to give up this quest of proving God's existence, saying that he has to choose between doing this or giving her up. It is mentioned earlier in the movie that they have been together for six years. What kind of fucked up girlfriend is she? If they've been together that long, their love must be pretty strong. And a woman who loves someone that much would never ask them to give up something that means so much to them. I would know, because I have that kind of woman in my life, and while we have not been together for six years I well know that she would support me in anything that meant a lot to me unless there was some adverse consequence that affected my health or something like that. Not to mention that while there is no scene for it, it is mentioned that his parents also told him to give this up and just drop the class or sign the paper saying God is dead. That's bullshit too. There is this absurd "lone Christian against the world" mentality, and everybody basically gives up on the dude and then he of course comes back and wins everyone over.

I also wonder how much of an influence the Christian group Newsboys played in this. In the opening scene when Josh (the protagonist) is walking to confirm his classes, he is wearing a Newsboys shirt sporting their latest album "God's Not Dead", which, coincidentally is the title of the movie. If you thought that was it, you'd be wrong because they also contributed to the soundtrack, and even play a part in the movie, as they just happen to be coming to play a show in podunk Louisiana. The end of the movie consists of a giant concert where all of the "good" people (aka people who are Christians and not atheists) happen to show up and recognize each other. Product placement anyone? Maybe selling more albums for Newsboys took an even larger priority than the "message" of the film. One review described it as Christian propaganda for those almost militant theists that believe that any and all non-believers or non-Christians are going to hell. This will only fuel the fire.

The pure ridiculousness of the minister and his buddy trying to get to Florida with at least three cars that refuse to start is dumb. It's amateur and childish, and I found it odd too that Josh texted with a minister that he didn't even seem to know. After all we are assuming he just started college and he's far away from home, right? When did they become best buddies and start texting one another?

Then of course we have the Asian father who never pays any attention to his son and blames him for ruining the little brother's chances of studying abroad because of his religious study, the Muslim girl who gets beat and kicked out of the house by her father because she wanted to be Christian, and even Willie and Korie Robertson from Duck Dynasty (the fact that they are in the movie period is strange to me).

The message I'm getting here is that "everyone is a terrible awful going-to-Hell person unless they are a Christian" and that's just wrong. It's not cleverly done, there's no room for error, and it's a very in-your-face message, if you can even call it that. So much so, that as a Christian and a Catholic myself, I was even kind of offended.

All stupid scenes aside, perhaps poor acting aside, and even maybe a pretty poor premise aside, the worst part about this whole movie is how atheists are portrayed. One gets cancer, and her also-atheist boyfriend dumps her saying that love is a myth and she should've realized that. Then we have the boyfriend himself, who is a giant douchebag who doesn't even go to visit his dementia-stricken mother in the hospital for years, and when he does he just makes fun of her. We had Radisson, the professor who is an atheist and then at the end of the movie when he shows promise gets hit by a car and is killed. It is portrayed that the atheists have to be set up to die in order to come to faith, and that that for some reason is "beautiful" as explained by one of the characters in the movie! Immediately after Radisson gets hit by a car, the two preachers (finally on their way to Florida) witness it and don't call for help, but rather ask him if he believes in Jesus. Um, WHAT?! It's seriously just retarded.

The whole point here, besides the fact this movie is not worth watching, is that we are one people as a human race, and regardless of your religious beliefs, we can all get along. This seems like a film designed to pit theists and atheists against one another, or reinforce religious extremists in their torment of those of other beliefs. The fact of the matter is, some people believe and others don't. And we all have that choice. And no matter what happens at the end of our lives, or during our lives, or whatever, we will all have had the freedom to make that choice. Some will be born into their belief, others will grow into it over time, some will make a distinctive choice to pursue one or another, and others still will make a choice to switch from believing to not or vice versa. I know plenty of people that aren't religious that are amazing people. My buddy Tyler doesn't practice any religion, but has always been incredibly respectful of mine and even offered to come to mass with me just out of friendship. Everyone I have met that does not believe, or even is just struggling with it, always tells me that they are so happy that I have found something I can believe in so strongly, and sometimes even that they are jealous that I feel something when I pray. Why is it that we are pitted against each other? Religious beliefs simply do not dictate whether or not you are a good person. Everyone has their own idea of how they should live, and that's what they live by. Religion may have an influence on that (i.e. 10 commandments or the Bible) but in the end you decide how you want to live. I have been blessed to have people of other religions, beliefs and mindsets come into my life, because honestly I've had some amazing conversations with those people, just learning about what they believe and how they came to believe that way, or perhaps to not believe anything at all. 

Atheists are not automatically assholes and Christians are not automatically victimized Saints and martyrs, and it would be ridiculous to assume so. We all believe what we believe, and as long as we feel strongly about that, it's all goo. And while I may go to mass every Sunday, celebrate Catholic holidays, and read my Bible, you are more than welcome to do anything else you like, and we can still be bros. Because at the end of the day, if you're just a good person, I have nothing against you at all.

If you've seen this movie, or are planning to, feel free to leave some comments. I'm interested in what people have to say about it. Please be respectful in your comments should you leave them.
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