Achieving Vulnerability

I’ve been called a lot of things. Vulnerable has not yet been one of them. 


 

About two years ago, when I was 23, I underwent my first real heartbreak. To help me cope, a friend sent me a link to a TED Talk on vulnerability. According to it, vulnerable people led more fulfilled lives.

This came to my surprise, as I had spent most of my life sharpening my tongue, my wit, and my senses all in an effort to achieve absolute invulnerability. I was convinced that I possessed the key to happiness.

Mostly dismissing the information, I turned to my blog to deal with my pain. I began a draft to vent my frustrations at my inability to maintain the “strength” that I had worked so hard to achieve.

But, the webinar had struck something deep, and I became curious as to if my views on vulnerability might change one day. Instead of posting, I decided it would be interesting if I were to write only half of the draft and complete it one year later to compare my thoughts to my younger self’s.

When I finally reviewed the draft in 2014, the only realisation I came to was how embarrassingly melodramatic I am. I decided to never finish it and continued on my war path.

And that was the end of that. Anti-cliamactic I know.


 

January 1st, 2015 marks the beginning of what I consider my best self. 

In the latter part of 2014, my ruthless determination for invulnerability helped lead to the decimation of my closest friendship in Chicago.

In addition, I was losing my inherent propensity for respect and kindness. My temper was the shortest it had ever been, and I was adopting qualities that I was not proud of. I knew deep down that my quest was unhealthy.

So one day I decided to stop.

Over the last 12 months, I have slowly opened myself up to experiencing and embracing emotions that I have run from for so many years. Doing so has allowed me to see a positivity to life that I have never allowed myself.

For instance, when met with confrontation, choosing a less volatile reaction allows me to better understand the situation and find an effective means to pacify it and possibly even allow both parties to benefit from it.

Yea, It sounds like common sense, now… That lesson took ten years.

It has not been an easy process, though. It’s been 12 months, and I still have to monitor myself to avoid slipping into old habits. There have been some rocks in the road, and I haven’t always acted in the best interest.

However, I’ve come to believe that the purpose to life is  continual self-improvement, and I will accept all of my falters and grow from them.


 

Fast Forward/Rewind? to three weeks ago.

It was 11 p.m. Japan time and I had just broken up with someone. Immediately after, I received an expected call from non other than the same person that shattered me two years ago. We somehow managed to form a very strong friendship over the last two years, and they were calling to apologise for some things they had said to me.

Now, one of the greatest side effects to this new me is my sudden ability to burst into a barrage of tears. Since leaving for Japan, it’s only happened that night; and it was remarkably and unabashedly satisfying.

I know that sounds strange, but what needs to be understand is that the tears weren’t coming from a place of sadness at the night’s events. It’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that I was at peace with both. I knew I deserved better than them, and I had immediately begun moving on.

What actually started the tears was explaining to my friend a betrayal that occurred in August by a friend I trusted deeply. And again, I’m not actively holding onto sadness or anger about it. It’s just that reflecting on that moment suddenly brought out of me a lifetime of repressed tears.

In truth, it was kind of funny. My friend even began crying in reaction to my crying. When we hung up, it was about 1 a.m. and I was feeling both grateful and powerful. I wanted to record my feelings and thought it was finally the right time to do the post I had abandoned so long ago.

Unfortunately, I discovered I am a horrible writer at 2 am, and about two days later I took it down after reading it. It didn’t express my message the way I intended. I’m hoping that this one makes up for my blunder.

Sitting here, writing this for the second time, I feel what I have felt almost every day for the last year: pride for challenging myself every single day, perfect contentment, and extreme and utter excitement for my future.

P.S. Several months ago, I was fortunate enough to mend the broken friendship I attributed to in Chicago. And if the moment presented itself to make up with the second friend, I have no question that I could forgive and move on as if nothing had happened in the first place.

It’s just another amazing side effect of beginning to achieve vulnerability.

 

 

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Inspiration for this Holiday

With anything you do in this world, be healthy, be happy and make a contribution.

-Father of Gay Bradshaw

I found this quote while I was reading the July/August edition of The Humane Society’s magazine, “All Animals.” Gay Bradshaw has doctorates in both Psychology and Ecology and is Director of the Kerulos Center, an incredible wildlife sanctuary based in Oregon. I’m not really the type to be moved by quotes I read; I don’t really read motivational books either. Basically, I am just really stubborn and like to figure life out myself, but her father’s words described exactly what I have been attempting to do for myself since January. Just live and give happily and make the world better.

New Years usually marks the time when people feel most inspired to change for the better, but I believe in putting in that effort all year round. Trust me; I’ve been trying to get rid of my awful temper since 300 B.C.

Independence Day, on the other hand, serves as a great halfway marker in the year to look back and assess how true to your resolution you’ve been. What better day to do that, then on the day this amazing country formed. And, even if you are one of those people who doesn’t make resolutions, the 4th of July is still a great checkpoint to determine if you are living your life in the healthiest and happiest way you can, for yourself and for others.

I hope you all have the greatest holiday and hopefully benefited from this post even slightly. And even if you hated it, well just don’t kill the messenger lol. I won’t have computer access for the next few days because I am going camping, so I’ll just see you all later!

For more information on the Kerulos Center, hit the link below:

Kerulos Center

-Phil

Third Time’s a Charm?

I don’t know what feels worse: my shame after realizing almost a year has already gone by since abandoning my blog for the SECOND time, or my grief after realizing how quickly time and my early 20’s have passed. Sadly, in the last year my head has sprouted a colony of gray hairs on just the left side. Just the left side. There’s also one really conspicuous white hair right in the front. I’m pretty sure it’s the leader, and together the hairs are plotting a revolution. I’d like to liken my gray hairs to when the colonists invaded America, but I don’t want to sound insensitive.

Yes, I see you.

I love Glenn Close.

In all seriousness though, I recently became very inspired to blog again, and I would really like not to falter for a third time. And, I SWEAR,  it’s not because I was rereading old posts of mine and laughing at how hilarious I am. Not entirely, anyway.

There are reasons I withdrew last year, and I will probably delve into those matters at some point. But, that is not my purpose for this post. This post is more of a welcome home party for myself and for everyone else who wishes to read my silly rants and raves. There are many exciting things happening for me in the near future, and I am excited to share them with you all.

P.S. You may have noticed I changed the name of the blog. That is because I left Chicago. More to come with that as well.

-Phil

Ouzo: The Greek Elixir

I don’t believe in past lives; however, I do welcome the concept. If i were to indulge in the fantasy for a moment, I could imagine for myself a very tragic ending to my prior existence. I like the idea of going out in a bang. To me, distinction in death is a very alluring fate. However, it’s not a fate I would ever choose.

I assume that in this supposed past life I kicked the bucket at a very early age. In only the most dramatic manner of course, I left my loved ones so they may endlessly mourn my fictitious execution. If only we had been given more time together! Obliteration of everything around me with the cessation of my final breath, now that is definitely my style. Maybe this past life scenario really did occur. Maybe that’s what lead me to understand the importance of family in this reality. Ever since I was a child, I accepted the position of the son, nephew, cousin, and grandson that kept the family bound. Growing up, I would annoyingly squeeze myself into my relatives lives at every opportunity until they had no choice but to accept my presence. I continued to do this until my relocation to Chicago. I’m still not sure what allowed the sudden change of will which prompted me to move 900 miles away from the most important people in my life. It’s possible that I’m just repeating a subconscious pattern. Most probably, I moved away to finally acquire the distinction I demand. Distinction in life may prove just as rewarding as that in death, and i won’t quit wandering until I’ve achieved it.

I do feel guilt every day though. I feel guilty for being my mother’s only child. I feel guilty for being my cousins’ best friend. I feel guilty for being the grandchild without accomplishment. Hopefully one day I can rectify the regret of leaving my family behind to pursue nothing in particular. Until then, I will write. I will write, and work, and explore and experience and hope that my loved ones will continue to miss me enough to want to visit and create new memories.

Luckily, my Mom was able to come visit me last week along with four of her friends. Unfortunately, my Dad was stuck in the South for work and was unable to join. My parents have visited me together once before and have both fallen in love with Chicago just as I have. I am not surprised as I am a reflection of their personalities–or at least of their strengths and their passions. I have no weaknesses that I am aware of. Just Kidding. Not Really. But Sort Of.

On my visitors’ final night we were all in the mood for Greek. We went to a delicious restaurant called Taxim in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Immediately the women ordered ouzo for themselves. I do not normally drink ouzo. When my grandmother drinks ouzo, she starts to serenade the fence in the backyard. It is one powerful drink. Most fascinating about ouzo is its change of color once ice is added. It immediately turns milky white and almost glows.

Seeing this transformation reminded me of the immortality elixir from “Death Becomes Her”. I’m not sure why, as the elixir in the movie is pink and looks almost nothing like ouzo, but sometimes it’s better to not question the way my mind works. I imagine access to such an elixir would be very beneficial. I could continue my journey with none of the restrictions that time imposes. I would share it with my family, and I would never have to feel my guilts for leaving them again. The amount of new memories I could create with those I love would be infinite. The hypothetical cycle of life after life would halt, and I would have forever to gain my sought after greatness. It’s too bad that this reality doesn’t allow for such magical concoctions. Instead I’ll pretend that I discovered the cure to mortality in ouzo, and I’ll take a quick swig whenever I feel the all too familiar constraints of this reality. Opa to that.

 

 

 

Pedal Pub

Pedal Pub

Yes, that is a mobile pub that offers tours of Chicagoland to groups of 8-16 people who enjoy mixing the health debilitating effects of alcohol with the health invigorating effects of exercise. Where do I sign up?? Click the picture to find out more. Notice the Man in blue catching me take a not so sneaky picture.