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Stability & Security

10-Work-Life-Balance-Ideas-for-a-Happy-Home

We are set to close on our house in less than a week. It still seems surreal, like it’s not happening yet. It’s been a summer of ups and downs, learning about the housing market and the process of buying a home. It’ll finally be all over soon. These last few weeks have been ones filled with waiting for the appraisal to process and the loan paperwork to go through. Now we’re finally moving to the last step of closing. Still, many things to prepare for the move and to set up with the new house.

It’s not our dream house but it’ll do for now. It’s a house and it’s ours. That means more than anything. Ever since I can remember, my family has always rented. In the over 20 years that my family has been in the U.S., we have always lived in public housing. My parents were too afraid to take the risk of venturing out to buy a home in the case that something happens, we foreclose, lose the house, lose a place to stay.

I don’t disclose to many people that I live in public housing. I never did and I still don’t. I’ve never admitted to anyone about this but I am glad that my family never lived in townhouses or “the projects” where your building could easily be identified as a public housing unit. Where you would be labeled a child of poverty, less than, because you lived in public housing. While I hate all the paperwork involved with public housing re-certifications, all the prodding into your personal business, and the scrutiny into all the details of your life, I was grateful that I was shielded by the facade that my house was a normal house. I could for a moment, after our annual re-certification period, pretend that I lived a normal life, in a normal house and not a public housing unit.

Our eligibility technician (as they are called) was a stiff, mean lady. I detested having to go in and meet with her for our re-certifications. All members in the household over 18 had to be present at the re-certifications. 5 years. 5 re-certifications. (I was excused from the 4 others I should have been at because I was away at college). How many have my parents had to go to? Too many. Too many more than they should have. 5 was already too many for me. I don’t know how they did it for all those years. That unbearableness of waiting in the office for your appointment. The hum of the lights. The feeling of being less than the staff that worked there. Going into her office, having her be upset because not everyone was present, having to explain to her they were away at school and they sent their verification forms, having her go through all the forms and talk to you like you don’t understand. She’s trying. I give her credit for that but she still hasn’t quite got it yet.

The public housing life is not one that allows you to live with dignity. Every and each aspect of your life is subject to scrutiny. Your privacy is constantly intruded upon. Any little change can disrupt your housing. The constant moves to adjust for increasing or decreasing numbers in your household. The rent changes if your income went up or down even if it was only minimal. I’ve wondered if it would be possible to move out of public housing giving how rent and income are tied. Make a lot of money? Trying to save up and move out of public housing? Don’t worry. Just pay flat rent which often equates to the cost of a mortgage each month. How can one escape this cycle?

20+ years later, we are finally moving out. Through it all many low-paying blue collar jobs, 1 layoff, 1 shift in the primary breadwinner, 4 children transitioning into adulthood, 4 college degrees obtained, 1 entry level professional job, 1 aspiring career pursuit. All of this and we are finally moving out and moving on.

I have put in so much, so much more than needed (but by who’s standards anyways?) but there’s still so much more that is needed. It has been a difficult journey but they are all I have. Who am I if I cannot lift my family up with me? What does that say about me? We have been in public housing for too long. It has become a lifestyle. I don’t want my family to live in public housing for the rest of their lives. If not me, then who? If not now, then who? I can only hope that my younger siblings will be grateful for what they have and give back in return.  It is a worthy sacrifice. To know that my family has a stable place to live, a secure home to call their own; to know that they won’t be upended from their residence when the household size changes; to know that they don’t have to worry about not knowing where their next home will be and have to accept the option they are presented with if they want affordable housing; to know they have 3 days to move all of their belongings out into the new home; is all worth it. My contributions seem minimal compared to what they have to gain.

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“Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.”

(Sonnet 116)
― William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets

 

Life

Move Forward

Life likes to tease you, give you hope, bring you down, throw challenges at you, tempt you, give you happiness, open doors, throw roadblocks in your way. It seems like it relentlessly does these things again and again. We just have to learn to move forward, to leave the past behind, to push on, to start anew. Whether we have the courage to or not, whether it’s easy or hard, whether we are ready or not, we must, we must.

At Peace

这几天,我的心好乱。我想了很多,烤炉了很多东西,很多事情。想来想去,我就觉得这是最好的结果。不管以后怎么样,就没关系。我可以接受。好奇怪但现在我的心就安心起来了。以后就等着看吧。

The Courage To Let Go

Sometimes you just need to find the courage to let go.

Taking a leap of faith. Jumping without taking in my full surroundings. Jumping without knowing what is below nor what is to come. Leaving the comfort I have come to know. Jumping but not yet ready to let go.

We are not meant to stand still. The places we have gone, we can always come back to. The people we have come to know, we can always re-connect with. Our time in each place and with each person will vary. Some will always draw us back to them whereas some are only meant to be a resting place for us to catch our breath and to refresh our minds. Every person, every place, every situation brings us to them for their own reason and brings us to them when we need to encounter them.

We have to learn to trust more and question less. We have to have the courage to say goodbye, to move on, to let go.

Security in Relationships

As I approach my one-year anniversary in my current relationship, I am starting to feel anxious. Not because it will be a year but because I am feeling anxious about other things like where this relationship is headed, whether feelings are mutual, where commitments lie, etc. I guess I am partly apprehensive because my previous relationship went on for too long and I should have  noticed the warning signs that the relationship was going downhill. This time around, I am trying to not tune out my gut instinct and feelings but more importantly I don’t want to be living in a false world and then have everything come crashing down on me again. My previous relationship and the time I took for myself to heal, develop and to move on, has taught me a lot about valuing myself, making sure my needs and desires are not put below that of the other person, and more importantly that I am not the only one that is tirelessly and endlessly committed to the relationship, to working to keep the relationship going.

Another reason I feel anxious is because I would like to settle down in the near future. I long for companionship, to be able to share my life with someone and to be able to see them everyday. I am ready but don’t know if he is but more so, I don’t know if he is the one. I find myself pondering this whole question and concept of “the one” a lot as I have been thinking more about my future and about marriage. The idea of prince charming, the fairy tale story and happily ever after, it all seems so happy and great. On the flip side, the thought of having one chance to get everything right is a little intimidating.

I think about security and trying to find that security in a relationship for me. What do I need to feel secure? Or rather, what do I need to feel secure as an individual who is clingy and constantly needs assurance? I find that because I need so much assurance – not as a sign that I am doing something right but rather as a sign that things are right – I need and crave so much more communication and expression. When I don’t have that, I start to ponder, and think and blow things out of proportion (which does not help my situation at all).

Because I am very self-aware, I try not to over-think and over-interpret but at the same time I am conflicted by not doing so because I do not want to fall victim to the same things that happened before in my previous relationship. I know the best thing is to talk to the other person and make things clear about where I am coming from, what I need, and why I need it. But how do you begin to broach a topic of conversation when there is so much ambiguity? You know where you stand but not where the other party stands, their expectations, or what they have in mind? 

On Being Nice

For as long as I can remember everyone has associated the word “nice” next to my name. It’s not that I don’t want to be known as nice nor is it because I dislike being nice, it’s just that sometimes I wonder if people can see beyond “nice” and notice other things about me. I wonder if anyone actually appreciates what I do and the extra time and attention I put into things. I know it’s taken note of but after the moment has gone and passed, does anyone even remember? Does it stand out to them? Will it continue to matter and make a difference to them as the years go by?

I used to have a really hard time saying “No” to people. It used to be so bad it almost got to the point where I would try to avoid conversations with people or not fully commit nor fully dismiss responsibility or consent in order to not have to tell them no. In other words, I used to be a pushover. It wasn’t because I was afraid of people not liking me or not being my friend. To me, it made sense to be nice to others and if I didn’t have to go out of my way to do something for others, I would do it but I found that I would end up in situations that I didn’t really want to be in and only so I could spare the other person’s feelings. Through a lot of personal experiences and interactions with a few specific individuals, I started to not be happy with myself for putting myself in these situations, for not speaking up for myself especially when the other person was wrong or being extremely unfair.

Today, I am far from the pushover I used to be and I don’t hesitate to say no anymore, although I still find myself telling other people yes most of the time. I know I have the power to say no and I am not obligated to share why. Yet, lately, I can’t help but wonder if there is such a thing as “being too kind” or “having too big of a heart” and if that’s a bad thing. I mean, of course, obviously if you are too nice, you’re more likely to be a victim of abuse and an easy target for manipulators but what I’m talking about is, does being too nice make those that you are around feel bad because they can’t be like you? Does it make other people feel obligated to treat you well and be around you for nothing more than the fact that they feel bad for not wanting to be around you or that they cannot treat you the same way you treat them?

I know I should just be myself and who I am. I couldn’t imagine not being nice and refusing to help others. I think that would turn me into a very nasty, negative person. There is so much joy I get from giving and from doing things for others – and it’s not because it reinforces the privilege that I have to be able to help and give or the intelligence or talents that I possess. Each time I am able to help another person, I feel as if I’ve gained something, much more so than when I get paid or make money. It’s just that lately, I’ve been wondering about a lot of things which all seem to be interconnected with my being nice. I just couldn’t help but question it. Perhaps I’m just thinking too much but better to think too much than not at all.

My 2013 In Review

As I look back on the year 2013, I realize it has not just been “another year” for me, instead 2013 has been a year filled with accomplishments and new beginnings. 2013 was a year of all-time highs – each and every day felt great and I enjoyed every moment of every day. 2013 seemed easy – everything fell into place and things happened at all the right times. 2013 brought many wonderful people into my life, people who would impact my life in numerous ways. 2013 also was a year of tremendous growth and discovery for me. I was blessed to have been presented with so many opportunities to shine, to grow, to meet amazing people, which allowed me to fully embrace what came out of each moment.

A few highlights from 2013:

  • I took a leap of faith and put myself out into the dating world again. I was reminded of the cruelties of love and dating, the importance of standing up for myself in a relationship and listening to my gut, and the joys of finding the other half you’ve been searching for and the thrill of getting to know someone.
  • I met an amazing, generous, honest, wonderful young man who is now my significant other and had many adventures and new first experiences with him. I found a harmony and happiness that I had never experienced before in my previous relationship.
  • I finished my second term of service as an AmeriCorps member with an amazing non-profit that has a very personal and close place in my heart and more than doubled my results and I hope to continue to make an impact on the lives of others.
  • I was nominated by my peers for AmeriCorps Member of the Year and received a proclamation from the Mayor for my dedication to service and for my work in the community. It was a surreal experience. The work I do and I did was not for any reward or gain but it was good to know that others appreciated the time and effort I put into each and every task.
  • I (along with my significant other) went on a scavenger hunt race through the heart of downtown and although we were completely lost, had no idea what the answer to most of the clues where, and was no where close to being among the top teams, I still had lots of fun.
  • I completed an obstacle 5K race. It wasn’t as hard-core as I had thought but was still quite fun and thrilling.
  • I started a new job at a higher-education institution. While this job is an entry-level one it is a job that I hope will open many doors and bring in many new connections ahead. I feel very fortunate to be employed in such an innovative and thought-provoking environment and to work alongside like-minded individuals every day.
  • Last but great way to end my year, I was selected by the Commissioner to be on the Department of Human Service’s council on advancing health equity and reducing disparities and inequities among multicultural communities within the state. While our few meetings so far have not been as productive and a little dry, I am honored to have been selected to be a part of this council and look forward the change that we will bring. Even if nothing significant comes out of this council, it is still a great way to get the wheels rolling in the state about this issue and a great opportunity for me to be a more involved and impactful citizen.

“Begin at once to live and count each separate day as a separate life.” ~Seneca