This past weekend, people were probably having a typical Sunday night: plowing through backlogs of procrastinated work, mourning the loss of yet another weekend and preparing themselves for another dreary Monday. As I was doing just this, I checked my phone for the time: one second it read 2:00 AM and the next it said 1:00 AM. After the initial heart attack and serious debate about whether I had lost my mind, I realized that daylight savings had ended. I thought “Oh, right, this is something we still do.”, and went on to try to remind myself why.
In honor of my Dad who has taught me valuable lessons about mindful living, I have decided to dedicate this week’s post to him for his birthday (in the form of a letter). He has always encouraged me to enjoy the present moment and I hope that after reading this letter, you may also benefit as much from his words and outlook on life as I have. The most important life lesson that my dad has taught me is that life is not a race.
So I ran for an hour along the Schuylkill river on Saturday for your birthday. I went straight out of Huntsman Hall and headed towards the river trail when the sun was setting after an afternoon of studying. I know that if I were back home, you would have paid me to do it– to go out and exercise and be under the sun. I know that you might even pay me extra just to incentivize me further to exercise during midterms season.
I thought a lot about you Dad while I was running along the river. I thought about you not just because it was your birthday, but because college has really forced me to think more about how you’ve lived your life and about the many things you’ve tried to tell me growing up– many of which, I’ve only started to understand. And I couldn’t thank you more for trying to tell me that life is a journey, not a race. After all, where is the race and who are we racing against?
Growing up, you have always challenged my school-centric notion of the universe and told me that life shouldn’t be a path of linear trajectory. You’ve taught me that there is so much more to life than just trying to race through it all and get ahead of everyone else. You’d rather I embrace childhood than try to skip a grade. You’d rather I enjoy learning than try to perfect a score. You’d rather I be happy, healthy, and present than try to race through life. Life is simply too short for that, you’d say.
So really, I’ve been thinking a lot about you and your outlook on life during my first year at college. My experience thus far has been as much about creating new memories as it has been about reflecting upon my past and your words. As I ran along the Schuylkill river, I couldn’t help but to think about the various times throughout college in which I’ve thought about you– times when I felt lost about what classes to take, what clubs to join, or what things to focus on at that moment when I had a billion things to do. During the times when I felt that life was slipping out of control, and I couldn’t see where I was going, I thought about you and the lessons you have taught me by example. Take my time, think things through, and sloooow down.
It is just so easy to get lost here at Penn. But one of the most dangerous things to do– you’d remind me– is to pursue something mindlessly, without thinking. Enjoy the process. Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the moment. Just focus on doing things that matter. I think you’re so right. If I had just focused on completing the miles and mindlessly sprinted along the river, I wouldn’t have reflected upon your words and contextualized my experiences here at Penn. I wouldn’t have noticed the graffiti on the wall, the toddler tumbling on the grass, and the changing colors of the sunset sky. All these things made my run, though brief, so enjoyable. As I slowed down and jogged along the river, I realized that life isn’t as serious as it seems. There is a wide world out there for us, if only we take the time to slow down and appreciate it.
So this hour-long run is for you Dad, for free. You don’t have to pay me. The weather has been quite terrible throughout the week, but it was gorgeous on your birthday. And I want to let you know that even though I’d never really lived a life that truly embraced your values, I try to, and all this time I have been listening.
Happy birthday, Dad!
My Yoga Experience
I started my Sunday morning doing yoga in Harnwell’s rooftop lounge with teachers Karen Zhao and Tai Bendit of Be Here Yoga. It was my very first time doing yoga here at Penn, and when I first walked into the room, the sun shone so brightly through the large window glass panes that I felt transported into a different world.
The session began with a brief meditation guided by Tai who told us to close our eyes and focus on breathing. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Then, Karen took over and started guiding us through sun salutations to warm up our bodies.
Downward facing dog. Hover. Jump. Hands up. Stretch back. Feel your fingers. And repeat– or something like that. I probably don’t have the sequence exactly correct as I recall right now, and I’m probably missing a pose or two, but I can still recall how I felt exactly– calm and liberated. Throughout the session, my mind was soothed by the soulful music playing quietly in the background, and every time I reached up to stretch my arms, extend my spine, and bend my back slightly backwards, I felt liberated from all the chaos and fuss in the world.
New Year, new diet.
The Diet Industry, worth a whopping $200 billion (enough money to eradicate world hunger for 6.6 years) thrives on New Year’s weight loss resolutions. January 1st has become a national detox day. Weigh less, get organized, spend less, fall in love, get a promotion, learn guitar, find more “me” time. Traditionally, each New Year we make resolutions to be our best selves and to make this year better than the last. This year two-thirds of Americans made New Year’s resolutions and weight loss topped the charts.
Before dropping $300 on a 3-Day juice cleanse, here are 5 reasons to reconsider dieting in 2016:
As Penn students, most of us are fortunate to have access to healthy foods whenever we want or need them. As a result, It’s easy to be unaware of the food injustices affecting citizens right outside of the Penn ecosystem, in West Philadelphia.
For many Philadelphians, issues such as malnutrition and the prevalence of food deserts—urban areas where it is difficult to buy affordable and healthy food—are daily obstacles to leading a healthy life. Because of this, youth in Philadelphia are more likely to buy tasty but unhealthy and inexpensive food from local convenience stores. One of the most distressing consequences of these food injustices is the fact that Philadelphia has the highest rate of obesity among high school students alone in the US and a 20% obesity rate of children between 5 and 18 years old.
You wake up and remember the fun you had with your friends last night. But before long, the guilt sets in. You remember when you came home you had two slices of pizza and a half a box of gluten-free cookies. Cue damage control: if you run 5 miles today and eat paleo the rest of the week you should be able to cancel out the late-night indulgence. Over breakfast you and your friends talk about how you’re really going to try be healthy this week and make a pact to stop ordering late night pizzas.