Tag Archives: grateful

Feeling All the Feels– A Subjective Analysis of Why We (I) Cry

The science of crying is fascinating, and there is a lot of research behind the mechanics of our tears. We cry to protect our eyeballz as well as to regulate an overwhelmed nervous system.  The kind of crying I want to talk about here is not so much the I’m-cutting-onions cry or the I’ve-got-a-piece-of-lint-in-my-eye cry but rather, the I’m-so-overwhelmed-with-emotion-I-need-to-ugly-cry cry.

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It’s a well known fact amongst those who know me that I unabashedly let my salty tears flow. I wear them proudly, my mascara bleeding down my face, my face red and blotchy, my eyes puffy and swollen. What isn’t so well known, however, are the reasons behind these tears…

…so let me flush out a few of my fave tear jerkers: 

The I’m-so-grateful cry:  An overwhelming sense of gratitude for a person, place or thing will get this type of tear flowing for me. Nothing feels quite as good as the I’m-so-grateful cry because it signals to my brain how much abundance I have generated. This direct link between gratitude and abundance is most advantageous for those who wish to manifest even more things to be grateful for into their lives. By focusing on your abundance you align your energy to attract more of the same.

The I’m-so-grateful cry is a fantastic indicator that you are on the fast track to a vastly abundant life. Simply put,  you are hard-wired this way, and this physical response is your body working hard for your success, so you don’t have to. Let these tears runneth over, cuz you’re #blessed.

The standing-on-top-of-a-mountain-one-with-nature cry: Another cry I am a big fan of. This cry comes from the overwhelming feeling that goes something along the lines of “Woah, I feel humbled by the magnitude and beauty of creation. How am I, in the grand scheme of it all, so small and insignificant and yet so uniquely a part of this?!”This mind blowing feeling and the consequential tear drops can be induced by a double rainbow (what does it mean?!) or the constellations in the night sky or standing beside the ocean or being high on a mountain top.

The reason I am a fan of these tears is their intuitive understanding that we are one with everything around us. They are a homecoming of sorts, a reminder. They signify to us the bigger picture and allow relief from our everyday woes and squabbles.

The empathy cry: This cry is an interesting one, and I’m not actually sure how common it is. Personally, I tend to cry when I am in the presence of others shedding their own tears. I conjure these tears as I do the passing of a yawn. If someone is opening up to me with their tears, there is a 99% chance that I will shed a few of my own, even if their pain has not triggered me in any way (that I am aware of in that moment).

I consider this cry one of my super powers. I don’t know why it happens to me, but I know it is directly linked to my life’s purpose–to help others help themselves. This kind of cry notifies others that they can trust me and be open with me. I will not judge their tears and I will provide a very safe space for them to find some catharsis.

Like all super powers, though, it is important to use them for good. Sharing a tear in empathy can be very helpful in helping people heal, however, crying too much can further trigger their stress and cause things to spiral out of hand. If you also have this super power, remember to check yourself before you wreck yourself (and another), aiight?

The broken-heart cry: For obvious reasons, I think it’s safe to say that I have a love/hate relationship with this cry. It’s the ugliest of ugly cries, and yet, in a twisted way, it feels so good.

Clearly the bruising of one’s ego from being dumped is different than, say, grieving the loss of a loved one. However, these reasons for a heartfelt sob can be lumped under the same category for scientific reasons, which I will attempt to explain (plagiarize) via multiple sketchy internet sources.

Some scientists believe that having a “good cry” can release toxins and waste products from your system, which is why we generally feel physically and emotionally better when we wring out your stress and/or grief in a good sob sesh.This kind of cry is very cathartic and supports our health and well-being, so I am a major proponent! Get it out of your body so that it doesn’t manifest into something more severe down the line.

The nostalgia cry (aka the transition cry aka the growth cry): Last but not least is the nostalgia cry. For me, this is generally linked with the gratitude cry, though it can also stand alone in its own bittersweet melancholy. The nostalgia cry is temporal and beckons fond memories that have or will soon come to pass.

This might be my most common cry as I am a being in constant motion. I cry during transitions because they are a time of great reflection for me. It is not so much the fear of the unknown or moving away from people who are dear to me–this is merely at the surface level. Deep down I know that the unknown thrills me to my core and I that I will forever be connected to those who matter most to me.

The reason I personally cry tears of nostalgia is because they are indicators of my amazing successes. They are my growth tears. The tears I invoke when my psyche wants me to recognize how far I have come, how much I’ve conquered. They are my own way of recognizing of my hard work–my blood, sweat and tears if you will. What’s more, the more profound the experience or lesson, the harder I will cry.

According to my own very un-scientific reasoning, this cry is also closely linked with the science of the broken-heart cry as it allows for a softening of the nervous system. With this kind of cry I induce a feeling of total relaxation. For a brief moment, I am able to relish the satisfaction of seeing something through to completion. This pause and time for reflection is ever so important before I begin the next leg of my ascent.

So let us embrace our tears so that we can relish our vast abundance, be a part of it all, change the world with our superhero powers, support our well-being and rejoice in our accomplishments.

Tissue anyone?

“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before–more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.” -Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Definition of travel in English:

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verb (travels, traveling, travelled)

1[NO OBJECT, WITH ADVERBIAL] Make a journey, typically of some length: 
Example sentence: today I traveled from New York to Poland via plane, train, and automobile.
If you have not had the pleasure of listening to Louis C.K. talk about air travel, your next assignment is to watch this clip: (warning: mature language).
My travel from point A (Long Island, NY) to point B (Gdansk, Poland) actually went something like this:
a. town car to JFK — 1 hr.
b. jet from JFK to Berlin — 8hrs.
c. plane from Berlin to Warsaw–1hr.
d. bus from airport to Warsaw Central train station–30 min.
e. train from Warsaw to Gdansk–3 hrs.
f. car from train station to host family–15 min.
Total travel time from point a-f (not including 5 hrs of layovers) = 13 hours and 45 minutes.
Moving myself from one place to the next was not particularly challenging…especially considering that I “partook in the miracle of flight.” But if I really wanted to, I could complain about the leg space and the middle seat and the general fatigue that these last 18 hours of travel have imposed on my body. Good news though, I don’t actually want to complain about my fabulously pleasant day. Why so fabulous, you ask? I attribute this to two different factors: 1.) the feeling of excitement to be experiencing something novel, and 2.) the people I met during today’s journey.
Traveling alone is one of my favorite ways to travel. In my last post I mentioned that traveling enhances my senses and evokes emotions of living life to the fullest. Traveling alone is an additional push outside of your comfort zone, as it ultimately creates space for you to either panic about or romanticize your journey in your head.
Today I had a few moments of both panic and romanticizing. The former because I was worried about getting lost or taken advantage of as a solo, non-polish-speaking traveler. And the latter, because my journey was spent imagining myself to be the star of a Wes Anderson film, traveling across Eastern Europe in a rail car, my life tinted the color of an instagram filter, listening to a mellow indie playlist, and reading my philosophy book written by Andy Warhol. (Insert obligatory eye roll at this incredibly hipster statement).
Anyhow, today was a incredible journey for me and I met one kind soul after another. The best of whom is the family I am spending the next few days with as a guest in their beautiful home. I promise I will devote an entire post to this incredible family of four tomorrow, but I actually must force myself to sleep, so that I can be up for tomorrow’s Easter feast, mass, tour of the city and second feast!
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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 32–Me Time

Feeling alone is a challenge for many people. We live in a society where connection can be summoned in an instant by the click of a button. The internet is fantastic and supports connectivity, but it is also a distraction. I am subject to the distraction, and the addiction, if you will, of the desire to connect. I have created a life for myself that requires me to be physically alone during most of my free time, but the facility in which I can access my network of friends and family, and yes, sometimes even complete strangers so that I don’t feel so alone, is astonishing.

This morning during my freetime I caught myself craving connection. I call it a craving because it was ravenous and imbalanced.  My fingers were poised to text message someone, anyone–but when I drew a blank as to who to send a message to, I realized that I might be overindulging in connectivity for the sake of filling a void.

I’ve noticed that recently I have slowly tipped the scales to the side of social butterfly, which is both great and exhausting. It’s great because it means that I am meeting people and expanding my small Long Island network. I also  feel like I am finding out about who I am as a person in relation to the people I surround myself with.

All of this is good, but sometimes being alone in order to reflect is what I really need. Sometimes I want to fall into my own void and see what I come out with–forget everyone else, who am I in relation to me?

Today, I was teetering on the edge of that void craving both human interaction and alone time. Oscillating between the two, I recognized that the pendulum had swung towards social, but that the physics of life was about to pull it back the other way.

Today, after my massage, I allowed the pendulum to swing in favor of alone time. Blissfully content to make a simple dinner, not even setting the table, because really, what’s the point of all the pomp and circumstance when you’re alone? I ate quickly, keen to enjoy the sea salt and caramel icecream I’d purchased for myself at the grocery store, and then I chose a movie–Frida–to watch before bed.

Today I am grateful for “Me Time.” It has been too long since I’ve consciously dedicated myself to the simple pleasure of my own company. I can be alone and I can be social. There is a time for it all, but finding a healthy balance is in my favor.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 30–Feelings

Most people only like to feel “good” feelings such as happiness, excitement, love, joy, awe, or inspiration (to name a few). But what about “bad” feelings like jealousy, anxiety, fear, sadness, and boredom? Don’t they deserve to be felt too? It’s a natural tendency to want to feel all the good things and to push away bad feelings, but I would argue that it’s important to feel everything, because it provides contrast and reminds us of our human nature.

I am a very sensitive being and I feel things to the core. Today, I felt a sense of disappointment when a friend of mine indefinitely postponed some of our plans that I was really looking forward to. I was moping around, feeling bad and wondering how I was going to give thanks today, when it dawned on me that the thing I had to be grateful for today was my disappointment.

I needed to be reminded today that this feeling is equally as fleeting as the “good” feelings and that if I can give thanks, I can turn anything into something positive. Not only do I feel more human, I also know that when I feel the contrast of this disappointment, it will be so much more gratifying.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 29–Meetup

About a month and a half ago, my colleague from Switzerland, Kerstin, was here on Long Island for a business trip. We spent a good amount of time together, both working and hanging out. We were talking about my life on Long Island and the usual blah blah blah of how challenging I find it to meet people with similar interests as me when she suggested I try Meetup. She explained that Meetup is a website and an app that you can download that you plug your interests into and it finds groups of people in the area who come together around their shared interests.

I’d never heard of the app, and I was curious to find out more so I downloaded it and proceeded to tick off my interests in this order: hiking and outdoors, spirituality, yoga, reading, meditation, politics, and languages. Hundreds of Meetup groups around the area popped up and I could choose to RSVP to any of the gatherings.

One particular group that peaked my interest off the bat was the “Center Reach French Club,” which meets at Panera in the Smith Haven Mall every Tuesday night from 7-8:30pm. It seemed do-able and safe and if worst came to worst I could always get a soup and baguette and pretend that it never happened. I joined the group, RSVP’d, and then didn’t show. The other day on a Skype call with Kerstin, she asked me if I’d gone to a Meetup group yet. I gave her all my excuses and then told her that I planned to go to the French Meetup this Tuesday as long as nothing else came up. Today she sent me a friendly reminder via Skype and so I right then I pulled out my phone and RSVP’d before I could change my mind.

This evening I hopped in my car and drove 25 minutes to the mall, all the while telling myself that I had absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. I was welcomed by a small, yet diverse group of francophiles of varying language level, age, nationality, sex and race. To my pleasant surprise, everyone was dedicate to speaking in French, with the occasional Franglish sentence thrown in to make up for lacking vocabulary. We held a lively conversation that touched on subjects such as issues with the Common Core Curriculum, differences between American and French schooling theories, favorite places we’ve traveled, and then the usual stuff, like introductions, occupations etc. I was quite pleased that I hadn’t lost my French completely…though frustrated with how rusty it has become after being back in the US for over a year and a half. But I felt good about my grammar, conjugations and my accent….and in general I just felt SO good to be speaking French again.

Beyond the explicit function of this group being to practice and upkeep our French language skills, there is also a strong element of community involved. This small but mighty group has been in existence for over two years meeting once a week to speak in French. I immediately fell in love the idea of having a weekly friend group consisting of an Indian mathematician, a Guadalupian middle school teacher, an Italian immigrant police office, a retired high school French teacher and a young American woman who was also a former English teacher in France like myself–such a diverse group of people, all of whom shared my passion pour la langue Francaise.

I felt the accueil chaleureux (warm welcome) of the group as a whole, and also an immediate bond with the young woman, Audrey, who taught for a year in a French school near Versailles. We stayed after the group left and ate dinner together, getting to know each other a bit more and sharing our similar experiences teaching abroad in France. It was a monumental moment for me to connect with another female in general, let alone someone that I have something in common with! Honestly, I could snap my fingers and have a date with a dude around here in two seconds, but meeting girls to be friends with is another story completely.

Tonight was a homerun, and I’m super grateful for all of the pieces that fell together to make this night happen so beautifully. I’m grateful to Kerstin for introducing me to the concept and then pushing me to join a Meetup group. I am grateful to have spent an hour and a half using my brain and practicing my rusty (but functioning!) French. I’m grateful to the group for their warm welcome, wonderful conversation and diverse perspectives, and finally I am grateful to have met Audrey, a young, smart, and interesting woman with a brilliant handle of the French language and my newest official friend crush.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 14–Wine Down Wednesday

Every Wednesday for a year, I have celebrated Hump Day over a bottle of Malbec with the girls that I work with. It is our sacred ritual. Today I am grateful for our Wine Down Wednesday tradition, because it allows us to catch up on each other’s lives and laugh about anything ridiculous that has happened that week. It’s good for the heart and even better for the soul.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 13–A Good Meal

Today was one of those days at work where I logged a solid 12-13 hours. Typically when I pull a long day like this, the last thing I want to do is come home and cook a meal for myself. Usually I’d be way too tired to motivate myself and end up eating a bowl of Fage greek yogurt, a spoonful of peanut butter and some granola and call it good. But because one of my colleagues is here visiting from Boston, I was motivated to whip up a meal for us so we could sit and chat over a bite to eat and a beer.

Today I am grateful for her company, her perspective and the hearty meal that brought us together around my dinner table. Sharing a meal with someone is a very personal experience, especially if it is one you’ve cooked yourselves. I appreciate the opportunity for connection that cooking a meal with someone invites. Moreover, I appreciate the blessing of a full stomach–something that should never be taken for granted.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 11–Conversations

This past week has officially been a week of restaurants for me. Too lazy to go to the grocery store and restock my fridge, I have taken the habit of eating out by myself a few meals a week out. Yesterday was one such day.

Around 7pm I decided to venture out for food and found myself at a local watering hole that I frequent. I took my seat at the bar and asked for a menu. An older couple came up and asked if the stools beside me were taken. Being that I was alone, I shook my head and invited them to sit.

I had started my meal with the expectation that I would eat and leave, but I ended up in a 2-hour long conversation talking about everything for prison reform to Islamic feminism to our broken education system. The husband, a captain at a correctional facility, sat directly next to me and his wife, a real estate agent, on the other side of him. He was kind and would listen adding his opinion sparingly. His wife was outspoken and conservative. We disagreed on many things, but our conversation was diplomatic and lively.

Leaving the restaurant with each of their business cards in my hand I felt a sense of gratitude for being able to connect and discuss some really fascinating topics with two absolute strangers. It was an unexpected conversation and it totally made the solitary experience of dining alone not so solitary at all.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 10– #ThinkingThoughts

Last weekend a friend of mine explained how much he relished long car rides because they give him so much time to think about things. He explained he likes to pick a subject and take it as far as he can go by asking questions, hypothesizing answers, and usually generating some more questions.

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And so I tried it and I learned something really interesting about myself.

I learned that I always think about the same few things. Notably spirituality, travel and work or some variant of the three. It was actually hard for me to come up with a topic that I wouldn’t try to relate back to one of those three subjects and I was a little disappointed when I realized that my life could be summed up in three hashtags. But it was a cool exercise for my brain to see how far I could expand my perception of the world around me, and it furthered my belief that I am the sum of all of my experiences. I will naturally continue to view life through a series of a few different lenses, and project them outwardly onto the people and places I come into contact with… because that is comfortable.

But it also raises the question, what happens when I try to think about things I can’t relate to? Video games for example.  I can’t relate to them in the slightest. So if I can’t relate to something, how am I supposed to perceive it? If I can’t force one of my lenses to comprehend video games and what they mean to me, does that make video games bad or void of meaning? I would probably cast a negative judgement on video games, but is it because I am trying to understand something that to me is incomprehensible? So this brings me to judgment, a  negatively charged thought resulting from the discomfort of the unknown, different, or confusing.

[Insert thought about applying this theory to identity, race, religion, sexuality, politics etc. here].

So anyway, you get it. This is how the game goes–you take a topic and run with it and see where it brings you. This one brought me to judgment, which I could have taken in many different directions, but I would at some point inevitably try to relate back to one of my favorite topics. However, I’m going to stop there and just say thanks for the good think.

I am grateful to this new practice. I think it will be highly beneficial for me to break down and analyze some of my patterns, try something a little uncomfortable and see how long it takes me to eventually come back around to what is familiar. Hopefully when I do come full circle I’ll have some fresh perspective or at least a few new unanswered questions to ponder for the next think session.

Happy Friday, friends!

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 8–Opportunities

I caught the travel bug when I was 15 years old on my first international jaunt to Geneva, Switzerland. The experience was so exhilarating and magical that I vowed to myself I would make it my priority to appreciate the far flung corners of this beautiful earth as much as I possibly could. Since that trip I have managed to touch my feet on the soil of 16 different countries and 4 continents, and have called two of these countries my ” home away from home.”

Traveling provides priceless growth opportunities. Opportunities to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, meet new people, learn a new language, eat different foods and invites time for self-reflection.

When I chose to study International Relations in college it all boiled down to that feeling I felt the first I traveled–the exhilaration, curiosity, confusion, magic. Those who study the workings of the world can attest that the reason is due to a genuine desire to call it our home. We want to make it accessible. We want to break down the barriers of language, culture and geography. We want to impact the world and leave our marks on it.

And so when I would get the question, what do you want to do with your studies? my answer my answer was pretty generic. “I would like to find a job that would allow for me to travel.” (Unless I was talking to my dad..then, of course, it was because I wanted to be some high profile diplomat, yielding immunity to traffic tickets and paying off my student debt…)

Today, as I booked my first international work trip to Poland, I thought to myself, “ya done good, kid!” Not only am I doing a job that is fulfilling my need to learn and grow, but I get to travel too!

So today I am grateful for the feelings of excitement I get when I start to plan a new voyage. I am grateful for the opportunity to travel and explore a new part of the world, to my company, Education First Cultural Care Au Pair, for encouraging it, and I’m grateful for all the roads that lead me to my home.

“May your trails be crooked and dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

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