Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Do You Portray Yourself Accurately Online?

For those of us who regularly interact with various outlets of social media, it's important to remember the kind of person you're portraying online. Yes, it's possible that sometimes you want to just mess around and not portray yourself. Or, even worse, you might want to hide the person you really are (it's amazing the homework potential employers do, stalking you on Twitter and Facebook and everything else under the sun to find out the "real" you). Even on Blogger, some people choose to conceal their real identities. Whatever their reasons are, that works for them. But for someone like me, I'd like to think that I am equally as much me on my blogger platform as I am in real life. Though sometimes, we might just portray a more cheerful attitude here, or something that is more friendly than we might be in real life.

I'm not sure why that is. It's possible that being more friendly means that we will, inevitably make more friends, or gain more followers, or gain some more interwebs rep. After all, who wants to read someone's stories that are constantly morbid, whiny internal monologues spewed out on a page? Everyone has their ups and downs and it's really cool that a lot of people are more than willing to share everything from joy to tears and everything in between. It's cool being a part of others' lives, if only through reading their stories. It's sweet getting a comment from Twiggy in Beaufort, or smiling after reading about the best part of Angie-from-Toronto's day, or sitting and pondering Keith-from-Kentucky's latest words of wisdom. I hear about the deer (and see loads of pictures too!) from Dave, I read about the best places in Colorado to ride a Harley from Steve, and realize that even forgotten places like Oklahoma can be beautiful, thanks to Carlotta. Also, huge shoutout to my other Canadians, The Management (whose name I promised I'd keep a secret, what a poop she is) and her ginger man (love you both). There's the adventures of Lainie and Jackson, told by the entertaining Sarah from Arizona (????), and the poems and haikus of Stephanie from Pennsylvania. There really are so many people out there, all with their own stories, and their own exciting adventures. 

Of course, if these stories aren't really who we are, then we've created an entire false world for ourselves. Yet I have a feeling, that these stories and people are about as real as it gets. And I applaud all of you for that. Keep doing what you're doing, friends. I'm loving every minute.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Boy and a Starfish .

There are so many people out there that believe that the little things they do don't make a difference, and that reminds me of a great story that is one of those slick little moral stories that actually teach you something. If you're unfamiliar, don't you worry; I'm about to retell it.

An old man walks along the beach, seeing the tons of starfish that washed up on the shore. He shook his head, knowing that they would die. The old man was jaded and cynical, having lost hope and faith in the general population of society. As he walked, he came across a young boy, who was picking up the starfish and throwing them back in the water. Puzzled, he said to the boy, "Why do you even bother? They are washing up faster than you can throw them back in. It doesn't make a difference."

The boy stopped for a moment and looked into the eyes of the old man. He then promptly stooped over, picked up a starfish, and heaved it back into the water. "It sure made a difference to that one," he flatly replied.

How cool is that story. We can make a difference. And even if it's just another drop in the ocean, the ocean is still now one drop fuller. Little things make a difference, whether it's a smile, or a thank you, or  helping someone out in the tight spot. It's important to never forget the actual difference you can truly make. Make a difference for someone today -- you'll feel really good about it.

Got a topic you want to hear about? Got questions or comments? Want to chat? Shoot me an email at asmallpieceofgodsplan(at) I look forward to hearing from you!

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Trail Day: Dupont Forest, NC

Today was a huge success. There were only two of us, myself and a good friend, but we drove up in the not-so-early morning to Dupont Forest State Park, located just over the state line. The climbs were a bit out of our league, and the air was a bit on the brisk side, but we soon warmed up and our fingers lost their numbness as the blood pumped through our bodies. The downhills were long, windy and challenging and there were even some rock gardens hidden on the mountain (which we might have tried had there not been ice all over them). Overall, a blast. And I can't even begin to imagine how many calories we burned... but why type when I can show you? Video below:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

On Greed and Selfishness .

Last semester I took a finance class, and my professor happened to be a quirky guy who made you realize things about yourself. There was one day where my professor told the class to raise your hand if you were greedy. Naturally, no one raised their hand, and he said, that's what I thought. He then asked us as a class why we were here. With the exception of those who enter a field that is a passion (music, art, etc.) those who go to college are in college because they know that they can get a higher starting salary upon graduation. Who's greedy now? The whole class.

You see, I think people are for the most part inherently greedy. Perhaps not to the level of extreme cases, but just think about it: lots of things are done for money. Think about this scenario: A man (let's call him Bob) works at his job, gets paid a salary that is just enough for him to live on comfortably. It's not excessive, but he can save a little bit over the year. Now, Bob's been working hard and his manager offers him a promotion. Would he turn the promotion down because he's already living a comfortable life? Of course not.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Two Wheel Road Trippin' .

My current studio project entails that we design a museum with inspiration from the Blue Ridge Mountain Range. My professor wanted us to get out there and really experience that escarpment feeling, with Dupont Forest in mind (but she said we didn't have to necessarily go there, as it's an hour and a half away). She wants us to experience cliffs and mountain sides, steep slopes and breathtaking views. That is to be done this weekend, sort of on our own time. So me, knowing full well that Dupont Forest contains some of the best mountain biking trails in the area, with rock gardens, entirely rock trails among moss, bridges and fast single track with some good climbs. It was a perfect opportunity!

I've rallied with the troops and despite the distance, and I think I'll have a decent number of guys to go mountain biking. I seriously can't wait; it's been a long time since I've been out in the woods with nothing but the hum of your chain and the crackle of tires over roots and branches. It's nerve-racking sometimes, but at the same time so, so exhilarating. So that's happening on Saturday; a short little day trip to Dupont Forest up near Brevard, NC. Leave in the morning, return by dusk. I'll take some video and see if I can't post that here. Have a great Friday tomorrow!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Winter's Rare Appearances .

For the natives of South Carolina and the south in general, snow is something pretty much only talked and dreamt about and never really seen. Also, what is considered a "good snowfall" down here is usually somewhere between a dusting and 2 or 3 inches, whereas where I am from, a good snowfall means 10-12 inches, or maybe even multiple feet of snow. The cold, though is the one thing I severely miss in winter down here in South Carolina. Lately it's been 50 or 60 degrees outside (that's in Fahrenheit for all your foreign readers out there), warm enough to wear a T-shirt and be comfortable without a hoodie or jacket.

Now what the heck. It's January! This should be the coldest month of the year!! I can only dream of the day I move out west, where I will have a winter season that lasts nine months out of the year. Yes please!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Mouse In My Walls .

Yep, you read that correctly. There is a mouse in my wall. The little bastard fell in between two wall studs and two sheets of drywall, and can't get out. He's been scratching away frantically for the past two days. At first I thought he was trying to move in and create a nest for himself. But if you tap on the walls (you can almost pinpoint exactly where he is) he just scratches and scrambles around, he doesn't run away. Which is odd, because I thought mice could climb vertical walls.. apparently not sheetrock.

So naturally it has been the most unnerving thing to try to sleep, while you're laying in bed listening to some rodent scuttling around every few minutes. So rude of him to fall down the wall... probably the stupidest mouse out there. There's nothing we can do to reach him, short of drilling a hole in the wall, and if he does manage to get out of the well, there is a mousetrap waiting for him (tee-hee).

Though, thankfully, I read somewhere that mice can only live 2-4 days without eating. So assuming he can't find anything to eat down there (which I doubt he has, given that he's on top of one of the aluminum HVAC exit ducts), he'll be gone soon.

Let's hope it doesn't make the house stink like all hell...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Horoscopes and Astrology .

I was never really a firm believer in the stars playing some type of role in who we are or the type of person we become, but sometimes the descriptions of one's horoscope sign is absolutely uncanny. While most things related to horoscopes are usually short anecdotes followed by some absurd suggestion for you to follow that day, I wanted to delve a little bit deeper into what the definition of "me" was. Upon finding an in-depth definition of Scorpio (my sign), I was shocked at the almost complete similarity between the descriptive profile and myself.

I think there might be something more to be desired here. It's quite possible that perhaps the stars do play a more major role other than simply existing in the sky. I'm a believer in the idea that people radiate auras (mixtures of blue and red colors, that some people with acute skills can actually see. My friend's mother can see auras, and can instantly tell how you are feeling based on the color. Amazing that you can read someone like a book like that. Wouldn't it be nice? Perhaps this is a skill that can be learned.

In any event, horoscopic definitions may very well be a load of poppycock that someone made up. It could also be completely accurate. It's all what you believe to be true. Regardless, I think that delving into this information a little more actually can yield an awakening to the types of people that are out there, and how to interact with one another. Successful interaction yields friendships and relationships and connections. Understanding how oneself functions and thinks in relation to the rest of the world is an important bit of knowledge to have. And so tonight, I'll just start reading through the things that are supposed to make up me. If you follow the link above, you can find all the other signs too. Happy reading!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Freedom Everyday .

Regardless of emotion, and what personal feelings say,
Regardless of your devotion, and the demons your heart may slay,
The simple song of right and wrong will play its tune,
The chords for'er shall ring.
For now it's time for you to shine, so please start listening:
The goals in thought you have set forth,
to please the One above,
will forever always be for naught,
if not induced by love.
This not so simple task at hand, the devil's work betrays,
The key you see, is trust in Me, for Freedom, Everyday.

Stay Away From Fire .

Sometimes when you least expect it things come up that teach such extremely important lessons. Tonight upon receiving an email from one of the devotionals I'm signed up for, there was a story about purity in dating. The quoted Bible verse was 1 John 3:3, if you're interested in looking it up.

The story is about a youth group that had a night where they could ask their youth leader questions to provoke discussion revolving around faith, the Bible and everything in between. One kid's question was "how far is too far?" in regards to dating. Without missing a beat, the youth leader promptly answered, "You are asking the wrong question. The right question is how far from trouble's door can I remain?"

Ain't that the truth. We constantly are looking, subconsciously or not, to push the envelope. Justification of things that happen in the grey area can really ruin your life over long periods of time, when it's so much easier to just stay away from those things in the first place. If you find yourself questioning yourself or having to justify the questionable decisions you made, it's time for a change. Instead of seeing how close to the fire you can get before you're burned, try instead to just walk the opposite direction.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Comments & Interactions .

As a blogger, one of the greatest things out there is knowing that people regularly take the time to read what you have to say. For me it's my thoughts that people are reading. It's my heart and soul that I pour out onto the page, and for whatever reason, that's worth something to people. And that means the world. But even better, being a blogger means connecting. It means meeting and interacting; it means starting to design the most beautiful web that an internet spider could weave. It means knowing friends from Ontario, British Columbia, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Colorado and more. According to my blogger stats, there have been readers from all over the world, including Russia, India, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and all over Europe. That kind of thing blows my mind.

But do you know what thing feeds the blogger mind the most? Interaction. Comments, opinions, ideas, thoughts, discussion. This is way bigger than a few writers and readers. This is a movement. A revolution. The beginning of a family of people currently unintroduced. I'm excited for the future. If you write now, keep writing. If you don't, I highly recommend you start. And if you are simply a shadow of an observer, put yourself out there. Be known. Share your opinion. Facilitate discussion. Build bridges of friendship, and spread yourself and your spirit.

One day, I'm going to make an effort to meet you all. I can't wait to see and hear the people behind the wonderful words presented here monthly, weekly, daily. I can't wait to see vibrance in their eyes and hear excitement in their voices. That wonderful day has yet to come, but it brings a certain luster of promise.

The Pouring Rain .

At home, when it pours, it rains for a short couple of hours and then it's done. In Clemson, when it pours, it pours all day. And then continues to pour for about three days thereafter. We haven't had monsoon weather like this past week since freshman year. Now I'm not usually one to complain about the weather, but when it pours all day, and you still get soaked even when you have an umbrella, those days just suck. I don't mind cold. I don't mind rain... unfortunately the combination of those two things in addition to wind make for some pretty awful weather. It makes for packed buses and long walks across campus with a sub-par umbrella. It makes for wet socks, wet pants, and discomfort all day. And all of that sucks.

But the important thing to remember? It could always be worse. If I complain about my shoes being wet, I could be without shoes. If I complain about wet pants and socks, I could be without any extra pairs of pants. If I complain about the cold, I could be without a home and without heat. If I complain about my umbrella, it's possible I could have none.

On the days that we perceive to suck, the ones that seems like they couldn't get any worse, the ones that we can't seem to believe are even happening, it's important to remember that we are so much better off than so many others. Rain, albeit pouring, is but an inconvenience. Wet is just a feeling, a minor temporary condition of the clothes you are wearing. How strange that we can indulge in the hot water and wonderful wet feeling of a shower, and yet being out in the rain is uncomfortable.

When the going gets tough, let us always remember that things could be worse. We could be in worse situations. And as long as we remember that, we will, over time, become a better person.

Humility through Financial Fear .

Over the past semester, and maybe over the past year, my lack of finances has been enlightening, in a humbling way. I've never been at a gas pump and been stricken with panic as I watched the numbers climb. I've never walked through the grocery store, counting in my head and totaling up what each item costs, hoping I had enough to afford the things I needed. I've never scrambled to get money to pay rent, or told friends to wait to cash checks. And yet here I am -- the typical broke college kid. Doing my best to stay on a budget with some pretty extreme maximum limits.

And while all of that is scary, I feel humbled by it all. I gain respect for the people that manage their finances well. I gain respect for students who have started to save regularly for their futures, who actively and vigorously look for jobs and no matter what, make a way to have enough to pay the bills. I have friends that pay their own college tuition, make car payments, live almost entirely on their own.

It's a goal of mine to get there. Self-sufficient. And it will happen one day. And until then, I'll scrape as needed. So while I sit here with a fear creeping in the back of my mind, at least I can still look toward a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Avid Blogger Award .

So I know that the Liebster Award is something that quite often goes around and is a great boost to confidence and a fun thing to do. But I decided to create an award of my own: the Avid Blogger Award. This award is for those people that always write interesting posts, always keep in touch, always comment on your material and are just incredibly active on Blogger.

I'm going to give this to two bloggers I know; the first is Keith over at Musings of an Unapologetic Dreamer , and the other is Angie over at The Best Part of My Day.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why Are You Here .

As much as I would love to have thousands of followers reading about my thoughts on life and leaving comments and asking questions, I don't. It's not that that bothers me, I think that there are just a multitude of connections here on Blogger to be made. I've made some great friends and hope to make many more. Sure, it's quite possible I haven't met many of them in person, but does that matter? We support each other, send cards, share in each others' pain, sorrow, joy and excitement. It's great always knowing that there is this support group. One day I promise I'll take the time to meet you all, somehow. I think that would be the coolest thing -- and maybe I could write a book about it.

My question, though, for right now, to you, dear reader, is why are you here? What brought you to my blog? What keeps you entertained and what makes you want to read more? What topics have influenced you the most, and which maybe weren't aligned with what you believe? What posts made you think? It's an honor to know that people take time out of their day to read what I put down on a webpage. I think that's one of the reasons I try to write something every day. If I didn't, I would feel like I let down my readers. Some days there just aren't interesting things to say, but I do my best to find something. Sometimes I'm not inspired, but I try and go ahead and put something down anyways.

If you do really enjoy this blog, and the things I post on it, I encourage you to share it. On Twitter, on your Blogger page, on Facebook, anywhere really. I'd love to have more readers, and more friends to interact with here. Blogger has already positively influenced my life to such a great extent, and I think that can only continue. It's on my list of things to do to create one of those fancy buttons; but haven't really decided what I want to have in that icon yet. I'll keep you all posted. Thank you, for those who have stuck around so long; and to those who might be new, I hope you do.

Mountain Escape .

One of the reasons I applied to so many schools out west is to get into the mountains. When I took a trip to the Canadian Rockies years ago, I loved the scenery out there. Talk about having the most perfect backdrop to do anything. You don't even need to be doing anything to enjoy it, all you have to do is look. I'm sick of the humidity, the heat and all that other nonsense that make the southeast virtually intolerable. I almost wish I could just go and live on a cliffside for awhile, to clear my head and be able to meditate and enjoy all of creation that is out there. Sometimes I think that we all forget all of the beautiful things that are here. People spend thousands on elaborate and ambitious trips to Europe and other corners of the world to see history and beauty, when it's all here in the States. Want cities? We got it. Deserts? Got it. Luxurious homes fancy hotels? Got that too. Lush greenery, got it, snowcapped mountains, got it, golden beaches: Got. It. All. Why go anywhere else?

My mom is trying to plan a family vacation when my brother and I get home from school this summer; we'd be flying out to Arizona and then taking an RV up through parts of Utah and Colorado. I don't think it could possibly get any better. Time spent with my brother and family, beautiful scenery, an escape from everyday life in an area I would love to one day live in. Count me in.

The Best Questions Never Get Answered .

From a young age almost everyone is taught that questions are good things. They help you learn, they enlighten you, they open up new ideas and talking points that other people may not have thought of. They justify decisions, they prove innocence or guilt, and they can pretty much open the door for any sort of conversation you might have in mind. Sometimes though, a question simply has no answer. And maybe it's just up to you to wait and find out what's going on, and maybe that question will never get answered. Yet in my mind, the best questions never get answered. They are just too profound to even imagine. Now, questions I've been asking myself lately aren't necessarily the best questions, and honestly, who am I to say they are or aren't, and even more so, I have nothing to compare it to. But these questions have no answer. Normally I would share here, and throw something out there, but I'm just going to leave it at that this time. These questions that are always on my mind, these questions that might very well never have answers. Sometimes you just gotta bury the thought.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Independence Day .

As far as traits of people go, confidence is probably the most important out there. Confidence in your abilities, confidence of yourself. Confidence in your work and confidence in your decisions. If you have this, you undoubtedly will persevere, work hard, achieve your goals. Some may even have the seemingly insane idea that you can take on the world, and win. As far as I'm concerned though, I'm almost there. I'm learning new things, I'm interested in things I never would have thought I would be, I am balancing my finances and planning things and working hard to reach my goals (whether that be grad school or a job down the line). It's a nice place to be. And even nicer to know that I'm doing it on my own. Happy independence day.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Capturing Moments .

I would not consider myself a professional photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but I can appreciate carefully set photos with good composition and extraordinary lighting. If I had had my way, I would have bought a nice camera and taken a couple of photography classes while at Clemson. Alas nice cameras cost way too much money, and I simply never had the room in my schedule for a photography class without burying myself in semester credits. The other day Stephanie over at An Organized Mess (My Life) posted this link on Twitter. What an amazing number of moments, captured by photography.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tattooed or Not .

For those of us with ink on our bodies, we face a subtle sort of adversity that many may not know about. It may not occur to many before they go to the parlor the way that they are perceived by others. It did occur to me, but I didn't care, and still don't. If people are willing to judge me for the things that I put on my body, then they aren't worthy of knowing. If people can be tolerant of religions, sexual preferences and skin color, they can be tolerant of a little bit of ink. Most people are quite interested in the things I've put on myself so far. They tell a story; they have meaning; they are quite important to me, and the stories and tributes to the things and people I love will continue.

The Last First Day .

Tomorrow is the day we all dread publicly, but secretly look forward to: the first day of class. Now, semesters obviously are much shorter than years, and it's always nice to have time in between them, but to be honest I don't do very much in between the semesters. While we all hate working, we all hate deadlines, and we all hate those late nights with not enough sleep, life is simply boring without anything to do. There is no purpose, no goals, nothing to strive for, nothing really gets accomplished.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Penny Pinchers .

There are a good number of people on blogger that write about ways to save money, or just not spending on things you don't need and things like that. Out of curiosity, I always wondered I could save if I really took it to the extreme and didn't actually have any money to spend, outside of bare necessities. Over the past few weeks, I didn't have to wonder anymore... because I had no choice.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Of All the Times .

Throughout the entirety of winter break, I barely saw any snow in New Jersey. Despite several big snow storms happening throughout the country, it's like there is this bubble over my state that just says "don't snow here, ever!". I had really wanted to try out the four wheel drive in my truck, and well, unfortunately just never got the opportunity.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Final Chapter .

At midnight tonight, I leave for South Carolina for the final time. This is the last semester of my undergraduate collegiate career, and I can hardly believe it. The time has flown by and it's truly amazing how fast it has gone. Looking back on the time, I can still remember the friends I made in my first freshman semester English class (who oddly enough ended up living in the apartment below me a few semesters ago). Life has a way of sneaking up on you, and rushing you through some things you want to enjoy.

More importantly though, it is almost certainly the case that the things around the corner will be even more extraordinary than you can imagine. A new setting, job, or experience will surely take the cake of your life's happenings.

For in all honesty, this is only the beginning. The close of one volume, and the start other a new one. I look forward to taking you friends through the next semester, and continue into life. I feel like we all know each other as close friends and will continue that through and through. Thanks for sticking with me all this time, and wish me safe travels over the next day.

Gratuities .

Earlier today on Twitter, I came across a tweet that had been retweeted by one of my friends that said:

"If you're going to out to eat, tip your server. If not, go to McDonalds. #rudepeople"

Having worked in the restaurant business for several years at a country club, I think I know a thing or two about this. But I'd like to put a few myths to rest. As a server, your gratuity should not be expected. You should be earning this tip. Just because you can throw some silver on the table, write down what somebody wants and plop it in front of them while refilling drinks doesn't mean that you deserve a good (or any) tip. Gratuity is a courtesy and reward for a job well done.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Interesting Perspective .

I read an article today entitled Gay, Catholic and Doing Fine and I have to say I was absolutely shocked. It was unlike any article I've ever read, and actually really inspiring. While I am not gay and have no idea what sorts of adversity a gay person encounters on a daily basis, whether socially or personally, I can appreciate where the writer is coming from. The best part about it though, for me, is the amount of faith and reverence with which this writer comes from. There is acceptance of self, and acceptance of religion and faith and God.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Massage Envy .

One of the things my girlfriend got me for Christmas was a gift card to a place called Massage Envy, since I had been having some back and neck problems. Well, my appointment was tonight, and this is the first time I have ever been to get a professional massage. So naturally, that was an experience.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Feta Cheese & Rye Toast .

My family has never really had a tradition of any sort for New Years Day. Most times it's just a day that we can all sleep in and more or less do nothing, since it's a national holiday and everybody gets off from work. New Years has usually been spent together too, and this year it was the first time in a long time that we all sort of went our separate ways: My sister was back at home in DC, my parents went to a party that doubled as a charity event for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, and my brother went to one of his friends' houses, while I was with my girlfriend and her family.

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