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The Opposite of Loneliness

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Whenever I go into a big city I always feel invincible, as if I can do anything in the world. It’s funny because it’s just a place; nothing specifically makes it different than where I live. There are still cars, people, shops, and food yet everything is just completely dissimilar.

My favorite place in the world is New York City. When I was thirteen years old I used to take an acting class in Time Square. Each and every time I got off the train and walked those 12 blocks to the studio I got butterflies as I approached the commotion. I wanted everyone to experience the joy that I did when I rounded the corner and the lights came into view, it was magical yet somehow everyone I showed didn’t have the same appreciation I did.

Ever since I can remember I’ve always had a very vivid imagination. A trait that is helpful, yet at the same time got me in trouble. I spend my days dreaming about something bigger than myself, which helps pass the time, but I realize it’s making me miss out on life.

The other day I was reading the book “The Opposite of Loneliness” which is a collection of essays from the late Yale graduate Marina Keegan. She wrote, “I miss dreaming forwards” “What?” “I dream backwards now. You won’t believe how backwards you’ll dream someday.” I didn’t realize how much that sentence struck a chord until I put down the book for the night.

Each and everyday I spend my time wishing and plotting for something that simply is not real. I get so caught up in the “ifs” and the “buts” that I don’t realize that my dream is slowly floating away. It’s hard to admit, you know, that you’re being naïve. Suddenly you rise from that tunnel vision and see the truth staring back at you in the mirror, it’s scary.

As I took in these words form a 22-year-old girl who had so much ahead of her I couldn’t help but repeat the title in my head. The opposite of loneliness, what does that mean? How does it relate to me? Why can’t I think about something other than this book?

Then I realized why I liked the lights so much and why I felt happiest surrounded by people I have never met, and will never see again. I liked the idea that I was apart of something, which I belonged. In a city that never sleeps full of endless possibilities, hopes, dreams, and sometimes disappointment I was able to leave my mark. I was able to be me without worrying about others judgments.

Why is it that we need to be in our darkest most uncomfortable times to feel the warmth around us? We forget. We are foolish. We make ourselves believe we are in the fight against the world, and we are doing it alone. We mustn’t forget. We must live and we must love because you never know how many days we have ahead of us.

I will leave you with this: “What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We can’t. We must lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

Next time you see, the lights remember those words. Remember Marina. Remember how you feel when you are invincible. Then you will able to comprehend the opposite of loneliness.

G xx

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Let Your Bright Light Shine

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One afternoon, after a tough goodbye I opened my suitcase in my dorm and found a necklace that had a sun with a half mood inside, titled “Let Your Bright Light Shine”. On the instructions it told me: Make a wish and put on your necklace and like the sun and the moon, you make the world a better place. Wear your necklace as a reminder that your spirit, your love, and your light are my everything. Tearing up, I put on the precious gift from my sister and wished for… well of course I can’t tell you my wish or it won’t come true.

After that day, I never took of the necklace hoping that the positive energy worn around my neck would give me the strength I needed. Every now and then someone would come up to me and compliment me on it, and with pride I would thank them while feeling the warmth of my sisters touch on my skin.

A couple weeks later, I went to mass as a follow up on the retreat I went on called Ignite. In the homily, the priest asked what changes we made in our daily life in order to spread the fire we inflamed during this time those around us and with whom do we allow our bright lights to shine. Yet again, the same feeling came over me. In a small chapel, a place I once felt misunderstood, I realized the humbleness of the situation; all you have to do is let your bright light shine.

There are many different ways to interpret that statement. Naturally, I find it most fitting to use a quote I found in order to better explain my concept: “As sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night his mercy will not end, his mercy will not end. In the dark, in the doubting, when you can’t feel anything, O His love remains the same. Even through the night, Silver stars will shine, Hope of glory’s light, That will wake us once again.”

These lyrics, written by Ellie Holcomb and Rusty Varenkamp, perfectly depict my theory supported by the priest’s logic. Even though we feel misunderstood and alone we have to remember and understand that we aren’t, no matter how hard it is.

Sometimes the light may dim and you might have some trouble finding it, but at the end of the day when the sun sets and the moon rises so do you, and when dawn approaches and the sun comes out so does your light. As the light shines bright on us today, close your eyes and make a wish and there as the moon shines down and the sun reflects your face you will slowly be able to see your wish come true. And I, well I wished for you.

G xx

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Harmony

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While prolonging my procrastination, I stumbled upon an undistinguished speech Frank Underwood gave during an episode of House of Cards. He was at a loss of words trying to explain his time at the naval academy he attended. He realized the only true word that can be used is harmony. Elaborating on that thought he said, “It’s not about what’s lasting or permanent, it’s about individual voices coming together for a moment. And that moment lasts the length of a breath.” That is all he says, he doesn’t prolong the speech and make it something bigger than it is, he simply leaves it as that.

I have talked about a phenomenon that my high school teacher always refers back to; how things are simple not easy. Normally, she relates them to themes in the books we are reading but I find it helpful to relate it back to life.

While looking at the changing seasons, I have come to realize that against my rebellion and restraint the days will grow shorter and the temperature to grow colder, even if I don’t wear a jacket walking to class. Ultimately, we have to options when we see this crossroads: keep on walking or change paths.

See beneath our moral, judgmental, and logical beings we see a simple solution: yes or no. There is no saying that choosing yes or no is easy but the fact itself is comprehendible. Suddenly, when you use this approach life becomes easier to understand.

It doesn’t matter if you are choosing between having chocolate or leaving the store with just water or choosing to drop a class or hope for the passing grade. Nothing we ever encounter will knock us off our feet because of its simplicity. In a life lead in harmony, nothing can cause commotion. Live in harmony with yourselves in order to transform this tactic into others. Harmony, in its core will lead you to the closest thing that we have to perfection, if you don’t believe me, then you must listen to the melody of our hearts.

G xx

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Faith

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There are times when you have to hold up your hands to the sky, close your eyes, and believe in something bigger than yourself. It is simply the only way that you can put one foot in front of another in order to get something done.

Over the weekend I was given the opportunity to write a letter to myself or someone significant in my life asking for forgiveness. I wrote four total pages without crossing any words off or pausing for thoughts. It was the most beautiful piece, in my opinion, that I have ever written. After I did this, I was given another opportunity- to burn the letter; which I did. Later that night I sat down and prayed that everything I wrote would become clear and dissolve from my worries.

With hope and faith you give up any control you had over the situation. This weekend I spent a while reflecting on aspects of my life I have power to change and contrariwise aspects I simply have no control over.I came to the conclusion that through hope your soul understands forgiveness. Ultimately, you need a little hope and a little faith in order to understand and be understood.

You can’t spend your days praying, hoping, wishing for everything that is possible in your lifetime; you have to reach into the impossible. In the end, those bigger people will make you realize that nothing no matter how extreme is impossible.

As you go through this next day, this journey, this life, allow yourself to take one problem and lift it to the sky. Lift your fear as high as you possibly can and believe that with the power of your soul everything will be just fine on the other side.

G xx

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Dependability

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The other day when I was crossing the street I saw a school bus with the word “Dependability” written across the side. Dependability is the quality of being able to be counted on or relied upon. So, why, I thought to myself, does a yellow school bus have this word written across it?

Later that night I watched the documentary “Happy” on Netflix. This documentary goes searches through paths of life trying to answer the true question of happiness. As you could imagine, there were many different discoveries.

When we work in a community with others we realize how much we have to give. It makes our mindset switch from what I don’t have to what I do have. Ultimately, we all need something bigger than ourselves to care about. It doesn’t have to be structured religion, it can be spiritual emotions: compassion, gratitude, and love that connect us to the universe and to other people. It makes us see that the world is bigger than ourselves.

Through many different studies it is proven that humans cooperate rather then compete in order to not be self interest people, because we are social creatures.

Our modern culture now promotes competition in the media within different television shows. We watch singing competitions like The Voice and American Idol, Food Competitions like Top Chef and Cupcake Wars, even Toddlers And Tiaras which shows one year olds dressed up and paraded around a stage.

During the documentary, one speaker had a class full of middle school students raise their hands after asking who witnesses others being isolated and picked on, to which nearly the whole class raised their hands. He told them that the missing piece is that now a days we lost touch of what seeing is, we think it is with our eyes but really it is with our hearts.

He later told a story he heard about a girl participating in the special olympics. This girl was winning the race by forty yards and she stopped right before the finish line. Her coach was screaming telling her to just walk one step to finish and win the race! She looked at him pleading for him to stop before turning around and putting her hand out to her friend who then put his hand out to another friend, finally all six kids crossed the finish line hand in hand. The girl, screaming with joy shouted, “together we all would win!”

This girl, who is picked on and looked down upon did something that no one else had the courage to do. No one on a championship team, in the classroom, on the stage would ever think of doing for someone else. This story proves the point that compassion, from birth, is in our blood not only in beginning, but for our whole life. It is our responsibility to help those whom have lost it to find theirs.

In the end, being happy doesn’t have to be extreme, the trick is to be authentic and yourself. Just be aware, play, have new experiences, friends and family, doing things that are meaningful, appreciate what we have: those are what makes us happy and in the end sets us free.

By now I am sure you are wondering how this talk of happiness relates to dependability. Well, my friends the point of this lesson is to show you that in life in order to be happy you have to depend on yourself. You have to walk tall, listen to others, and reach out to those who are in need and those who may be hiding it, because you never know how a small act can influence someones life.

I found a quote that I think is perfect for the answer to my question. “When you are hugging a child, always be the last one to let go. You never know how long they need it.”

Finally after writing this post, I googled “School Bus Dependability” and realized that there is a Philadelphia Bus Company named Dependability and this is reason  I saw that bus. But deep down in my somewhat naive heart I would like to think that the reason that bus drove past me was to show that dependability at its core is increased by being truly and utterly happy.

G xx

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Happy Happy Happy

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Somehow, no matter how many times we hear someone tell us that you have to choose happiness we roll our eyes. It doesn’t really matter who it is that tells us: our parents, grandparents, family friends, professors, mentors, instructors, even the philosophers; we still don’t register the fact that they may be right. Unfortunately, in our case, we have to learn for ourselves. Although you do think that we would listen to people who have been dead for over a thousand years, I digress.

This week amidst midterms, sickness, and simply madness I took a step back and realized that I had to be happier; not just for myself, but for my health. Being stressed and upset is simply exhausting! A few weeks ago my siblings began the #100DaysofHappy Instagram challenge, so I decided to join them. Little did I know, this step would change my perspective on college.

The second you begin finding happiness in one small aspect of your day, you being finding it everywhere. For example, when your accounting teacher lets you out of class 20 minutes early that causes happiness. When you walk back from class and see a small rainbow in the blue sky that is happiness. When you run into a good friend and laugh until your side hurts, that is happiness.

Overall, no matter how hard and complicated your life is it is impossible to not find something that made you happy in that 24 hours. So today my friends, as it may rain down on your face (both literally and figuratively) rise above and see the happiness creep in through your window.

There is always a rainbow on the other side, I promise.

G xx

Note: If you feel so inclined you can follow my happiness journey on Instagram by following @happy_gracie

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Rocks

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This weekend was one that I really will never forget. It’s funny because it seems as though you need to be in either the extreme high or extreme low to realize what you have in your life. I never thought that twenty-four hours can have that much of an affect on you, but clearly I was wrong.

I learned a metaphor that I haven’t quite shaken since hearing it. While discussing the transition from high school to college and how hard it is to find those great friends that you are so used to, one of leaders said: Imagine that you are playing in your sandbox and you are using a sand filter, and there is a lot of sand that filters through before the rocks stay. For every rock there must be 100 pieces of sand. (I don’t know if that’s exactly how she put it, but that is how I interpreted it) The same thing happens when we are building relationships. Sometimes we get lucky and the rocks are there after seconds of filtering the sand, other times it takes a little more time.

It is irrational to think that the second we arrive at a new destination everything is going to fall into place. At the same time, we have to realize how far we have come in such a short period of time. Someone gave me a great piece of advice. He told me to keep your head up, and find joy in the little things.

Whenever you need a good escape, get out of your comfort zone like I did this weekend. In order to feel comfortable you have to be uncomfortable at first. You will meet friends, learn new games, and undoubtedly get sage advice. Perhaps that’s all the advice we need to hear sometimes, to keep smiling and keep remembering how much you have changed.

G xx

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Moon River

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Every now and then little arrows point you in the right direction, to something small that makes a big difference in your day.

Today, as I was walking back from class I was contemplating going to the library or going to my dorm to relax before a tutoring session. Of course, I went with the latter. As I opened Netflix, Breakfast at Tiffany’s jumped out to me. Just while the taxi came on the screen my favorite song started playing and I realized why I was lead to this moment.

When I was younger, my dad used to sing us a song to fall asleep. He would tuck us in, sit on one of our beds, and start singing Moon River. As I get older, that song reminds me of the times when I could be or do anything. It also epitomizes the fact that even though I may not be under the same roof as my sisters and my dad we are still after the same rainbows end, as cheesy as that may sound.

I don’t know why certain things happen in life. I can’t answer for all the weird coincidences but I do know that everything happens for a reason. So, watching an hour and a half long movie where in every great moment they play my favorite song is something that I am supposed to be doing on an average Tuesday night.

Look around every now and then to realize all the small opportunities that is put on your path. You never know where it might lead. Tonight, take a look up at the stars and realize that the same moon you see is shining bright into the eyes of the girl on the other side of the world. (that’s for you evie xo)

G xx

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He For She

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Today as I was scrolling through the Internet I stumbled upon an article about Emma Watson. If you have been on Facebook recently you probably would have seen her name on the top of the trending topics. Normally, if I found an article that I know everyone read I wouldn’t write about it but since the topic is something I so important to me I decided it was acceptable.

Feminism is a word that makes me (and others) cringe when talked about in society today. I have read every book about the topic including New York Times Best Sellers Lean In, #GirlBoss, Bossypants, and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?; to name a few. Everything that these powerful women are trying to prove is a cause they shouldn’t have to fight for. And as much as I hate to admit it, I wear the label of feminist.

Although these books vary in humor, they all are pointing towards the same conclusion. These authors, comedians, actresses, businesswomen, and writers look at the facts in our society today. Woman are not treated the same as men are in the sense of having equal opportunities. Similarly, men do not have as much emotional autonomy as woman do.

During a UN speech, Emma Watson pondered the questions “If not me then who? If not now then when? These questions, although simple are not easy to answer. We often assume that other people are going to do the dirty work for us. If the problem is universal why do we have to take care of finding a solution?

Instead of focusing on empowering women to stand up for themselves, Emma invited the men. She explained, “I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.” The word feminist is perceived as woman being portrayed as masculine, but what is the word we use for men who are going through sensitive issues? There is none.

More than that, Emma wants men to fight “so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too and in doing so, be a more true and complete version of themselves”. These causes have never been brought up in a debate before. Why is that?

This week the UN introduced a new campaign: He For She. This campaign does not wish to simply talk about improving the well being of humans, they strive to fix the problem before it is too late.

While taking a closer look at this topic, it is clear how pertinent inequality is in our lives; being either a male or a female. Today as I went through my normal activities, I took a step back and realized the minor distinctions for men and woman to live simultaneously in this big wide world; just in the little normal antics that we have become used to in our lives.

As you took time to read this post, I ask this of you: take a moment of your day and watch the speech that Emma gave and make one small goal for yourself to help push past this setback. Do it not for yourself, but for the future generations. It starts with one person, and maybe today it starts with you.

G xx

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Music In Your Bones

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Its funny how sometimes music can make you feel nothing, and other times it can make you feel everything at once. Some people define music as notes and words forming into a song but for me, it is all about the harmony; that second of perfect agreement between two notes.

My favorite quote about music is written by Benjamin Britten who states “It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature and everlasting beauty of monotony.”

One of the classes that I am taking this semester is The Math of Music. What I’ve realized through taking the class is sometimes; the most beautiful music is silence. I find the beauty in silence. Whenever I preform on stage, or go to a concert my favorite moment is the millisecond of silence separating the last chord and the first clap. The small period of time which holds your heart out in the open before putting it back together again.

Preforming music makes you vulnerable, that is a fact. But what we don’t realize is that listening causes the same sensations. Today, as I was talking to my friend Hailey, we started talking about what we do to help numb the gloom. We both agreed that listening to music helps but she went on to say that when she listens to music she feels as though it can make you the happiest person or the saddest person in the world but in reality it’s ultimately your choice to choose how you want to feel.

Whatever you are going through, whether it be big or small, remember that it is your decision to be happy. All it takes is one conscious effort to be the bigger and better person; the happier person. Then maybe, the next time you hear silence you’ll start singing along.

G xx