brief update

This is just a small update on my part to inform all of my followers (however many they may be!) that “A Little Bit Kinder” is not currently my main blog.  I haven’t posted here in a while, and I do intend to keep track of art projects from time to time…

But for the most part, I’ll be posting about my experience traveling the world on https://smallishgirlbigishworld.wordpress.com/.

I hope you’ll follow me as I live an adventurous life in France!

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Friends, Galaxies, and Surprises

I’ve been obsessed with galaxies recently.  Well, I always have been, but my obsession has renewed in recent days!

A while back, I found the time to do a little late-night crafting.  Inspired by some Pinterest photos and Youtube tutorials, I tried my hand at making starry envelopes.

I didn’t take a before photo, but the after shot is pretty nice:

Galaxy Envelopes

Everything there, besides the black envelope itself, was hand-painted.  I liked messing with colors to make something that actually resembled clouds of dust and gas.  The stars, in particular, were fun– I used a toothbrush to flick watered-down paint on the envelopes.  They look great overall, although I think I could use more practice.  And some other colors would look nice… green and blue, perhaps?

I also painted a galaxy mug this past weekend with an old friend.  In fact, two of my high school friends made the long trip to visit me, and I couldn’t have been happier.  I showed them around my pretty college town, where we ate ice cream, visited shops, and walked a lot.  It would have been nicer in a few weeks… it still feels and looks like winter here.  Despite that, I think they had a good time!

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Here you can see the red and blue (oh, the glare!).
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The inside was bluer with lots of little stars!

Now for a funny story:  the other day, I found a plush chair in one of the university buildings and sat down for lunch.  Not even ten minutes after, one of my professors walked up to me.  He oversees an online class and we’ve only met once or twice in person, so it was a pleasant surprise.  After some polite greetings, he took the chair next to mine and moved our things closer so we could talk.

This was a bit confusing, but I just rolled with it.  Then he asked after an assignment I turned in– and though I was puzzled, I answered his (rather ambiguous) questions.  Since I turned in the assignment late, I thought he might be giving me some kind of special attention or advice… but then he started talking about my paper in such a way that I wondered if I was really the one who wrote it.

After about five minutes of back-and-forth, with me thinking all the while that I had some kind of memory problem, I realized that the paper he had pulled up on his laptop wasn’t mine.  It belonged to another student from the online class who happens to look a bit like me.  It turns out that she was supposed to meet him in that exact spot at that exact time– talk about coincidences!  The whole thing was so funny I just had to laugh.

So do any of you have funny professor stories?  Do share!

Hope your weeks have been going well!

Past Weeks and Spring Break

Many lovely things have happened these past few weeks, but here’s a short list:

I now tutor two Saudi Arabian women in ESL and could not have asked for sweeter, more caring, more intelligent ladies to work with.  It is enlightening to meet with them every week and listen to their views on religion and culture.  It’s also eye-opening to listen to their struggles in assimilating to America.  It’s heartbreaking to know these beautiful women have so much to struggle with, but it’s incredible to see how strong they are.

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Making breakfast for my family over break… I finally managed to make crispy vegan waffles! They’re usually a soggy mess.

Spring break just finished.  One week of family, friends, and… well, work.  It went by way too quickly, but I am so happy I got to go home.  I missed it much more than I realized.  Over the course of the week, I managed to spend time with close friends, visit the beach, buy saltwater taffy (yum!), and see family.  Oh, and I pet SO many dogs.  I miss having a furry friend, so being able to spend time with puppies was great.  Well, they’re dogs, really, but all dogs are puppies to me.

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Iron Man is one of my favorite superheroes, so my close friend decided to send me some superhero mail… we also write our letters in a code (pig pen) so it’s a lot of fun to send and receive mail to her.

Mail!  I haven’t been taking pictures of everything I’ve sent or received, but there have been some gems.  I need to step up my game and start returning mail in a more timely manner.  My pen friends deserve that much.

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This lovely mail is from Denmark. I feel like everyone except for me can pick a general color scheme and make it work!

Baking!  Cinnamon rolls are my go-to nowadays.  I also made some lovely blueberry scones the other week and some cupcakes right before I left my hometown…  I want to start snapping photos before I eat, if only to prove I made them.

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Now I’m a bit hungry from looking at them.  Not good!

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to.  In the coming weeks I’ll be working on a lot of class projects/presentation/paper (the three dreaded P’s!).

Hope you’ve all been doing wonderfully well!

a [not exactly dangerous] adventure

I want to get this off my chest:  I ask strangers for rides.

“What?!” you gasp, half confused and half concerned for my safety.  “Like hitchhiking?  That’s dangerous!”

Well, no, it’s not exactly hitchhiking.  I don’t stand on the side of the road with my thumb out, hoping to get a ride from any ol’ person who happens to drive by.  I choose wisely!  It’s slightly different!

And here’s the thing– it’s also strengthening my faith in other humans.  And maybe even in fate.  You’ll see why.

~~~

I’ve missed the bus to campus.  It’s dark, cold, and I’m going to be late for an important babysitting job– the mom I work for is also a student who cannot miss her class.  In my silly, desperate mind, I’d rather walk to the house than take the next bus, and figure that either way I’ll be 10-20 minutes late.  I might as well leave immediately and get a head start, right?

Only, I really miscalculate the distance.  It (quite obviously) feels so much shorter when you’re driving!  Close to a drugstore parking lot, I figure I’m not halfway there… and though I traveled an impressive distance in fifteen minutes, especially considering the state of our icy sidewalks, I knew I would be putting myself and the mother at an inconvenience if I continued with my awkward hop-slide-jog.

It’s too late to go back and none of my driving friends are available, so I do what any other rational person would do in my situation– I glance around the drugstore parking lot with hope in my heart and search for someone who can give me a ride.

Now, don’t get me wrong– I at least try to go about this in a smart way.  Older couples are usually a safe bet, as is anyone who looks like a mom.  But on this particular night, I spotted a lonesome middle-aged man walking with a cane.

I quickly jumped over a snow bank and breathlessly approached him as he was about to close the car door.

“Excuse me, sir?”  He turned around, a bit startled.  “I know this is a really strange request…”  He gives this knowing smile that tells me he’s already predicted that strange request,  “… but would you mind dropping me off somewhere?”

No longer surprised, he ushers me in the car, only asking I be careful of his cane.  As he drives me around in a little hybrid that warms my frozen limbs, he asks about school, classes, and my major.  He tells me about himself- how he owns a sporting shop downtown; how he needed surgery on his spine; and how, since he was so active before, it’s a difficult adjustment to have such limited mobility.

There was no drama, no blockbuster plot twist– he dropped me off near the house, safe and sound, and I got on with my evening.  I thanked him profusely and ran off, thinking of how lucky I was to meet such a kind man.

I said before that this strengthens my faith in other humans.  This, right here, is a prime example that there are people who exist and who don’t want to hurt others.  All of the stories we hear on television, in the news, or on the radio seem to be bad.  Every day, we hear about violence and depravity.  How often to we hear about the good things?  How often are we told of the kind stranger who’s willing to give a young a woman a ride?  Our society is rather cynical, but there are millions of reasons to believe that humans are good at heart.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been given a ride from a stranger (alright, I know it’s not the best habit), and time and time again I’ve found that the people you meet are more willing to help you thank you’d think.

I also said that maybe, just maybe, this encounter strengthens my belief in fate.  I’m not one to think that everything happens for a reason.  Coincidences, in my opinion, are just coincidences.  But I keep thinking of how strange it is that out of all the people who could have helped me, it was a man who had spinal surgery…

Before she passed away, my mom had a spinal operation.  I know how devastating it is for someone to lose their mobility.  Although a great part of me feels this is a coincidence, a smaller part keeps thinking it might have been something more.  Isn’t it strange that I connected to someone who went through the same thing as my mom?  Out of all the paths I’ve could have crossed, mine coincided with his.  That’s amazing, in the original sense of the word.

Now about this man– I know his name and the store at which he works, so I’m going to leave him a little gift in return for his kindness.  A card with an uplifting note and a little bit of candy sounds nice.  I want to give him something that makes him smile, that reminds him good deeds are appreciated.  I also want to write him something a little more intimate and ask him to keep hope, love, and positivity in his life.  All of that will be essential to his healing.

What’s your opinion on all this?  Fate or happenstance?  Are you just concerned about my life habits?  Have you actually hitchhiked before and already know how kind people can be?

Hope you’re all having a lovely week! Stay safe!

tea, yoga, and semester stress

I haven’t made a blog post in the longest time!  It’s no wonder why, though, when I look back at the past three weeks.

My schedule is a little bit hectic. Somedays when I get home, the only thing I want to do is watch Netflix (to the chagrin, I’m sure, of my various pen pals).  Seven classes is more than I’ve taken before, especially between the reading as well as the weekly academic blog posts!  But I’m not going to say anything else lest I venture into the territory of complaints– I love the course material too much to start hating the overall workload.

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I found the time to make delicious chocolate-chip-banana pancakes… my roommates told me this is the best batch I’ve ever made! (Recipe from the PPK.)

And even though I’ve felt a little overwhelmed these first few weeks, I’ve still found an abundance of things to be grateful for.  One of my roommates and I have been able to spend more time together due to coinciding schedules, and as a result, we’ve grown much closer.  I’ve developed better sense of time management and organization out of necessity– keeping track of so many classes is no easy feat!  And in spite of all the work, I’m forcing myself to go to my college’s Tea Club to socialize and meet others with the same interest.

About that Tea Club:  can you imagine sitting in a cozy room for a few hours with phenomenal people, sipping six different kinds of expensive tea– for free?  That’s what it is.  And yes, it’s amazing.  I’m learning the proper steps in the Chinese tea ceremony, too, which really impressed my dad.  He wants to grab a proper set so I can brew for him and the family!

Anyway, these past few weeks have really made me think about my outlook on life and how I deal with stress.  I’m generally an easy-going person, but my workload has been trying.  In order to calm myself down, I’ve been practicing a bit of yoga and meditation.  I find it really helps me center myself and regain my focus.  That, and it gives my mind and body a break from the academia that surrounds me!

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I sent this a while back– other than Netflix, crafting is my go-to for relaxation. This is probably one of my favorites letters I’ve sent!

The beginner yoga I scoffed at is actually quite difficult if you’re not used to moving your muscles in those ways.  It forces you to slow down and concentrate on your body and balance.  And mindfulness meditation is something I’ve done and loved– but it’s a woefully underutilized tool in my arsenal.  I need to get back in to the habit because it really makes a difference in my day!

Now that winter is in full swing over here, it’s more important than ever to keep a positive outlook on life.  If I don’t, I’ll be metaphorically buried under assigned readings.  And the snow that threatens to slip me up every time I step outside.

How have your weeks been?  How do you approach dealing with stress?  Do tell!

Hope your days have been absolutely lovely!

– lumii

canada, a new semester, and looking forward

The holidays are over, my trip to Canada has ended, and there are only two days left until the start of a new semester.

The past three weeks have wonderful– I’ve recharged, reconnected, and relaxed.   I’m ready for the challenges of a new semester and looking forward to the future… come summer, I’ll be in South America.  Come next fall, I’ll be in Europe.  I usually get a little apprehensive thinking about the future, but right now I feel like I’m constantly floating on cloud nine!

Now let me backtrack a little bit: I went to Canada!  Five of my friends and I loaded up a minivan and drove eight or so hours up to Montréal.  It was an amazing experience and I felt I could have spent a lot more time there.  Honestly, I could even see myself living in the city!  There are so many things to do, and even though Montréal was heavily hit by snow this past week, it’s easy enough to maneuver through the metros and streets.  You only have to watch out for ice!

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The skeleton of an old beluga!

My favorite part of the visit was probably visiting the Biodome.  Since I took astronomy last semester, I particularly enjoyed the planetarium’s presentations.  Not only were they interesting, but you also had the opportunity to lie down on a beanbag chair to watch!  (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t close my eyes and almost nap for a bit.)  Then there were the animals: sloth, parrots, porcupine, penguins, otter, beaver, and so much more!  It would be great to go back there and take my time going through the exhibits.

On a different day, we visited a stationary shop I had purposely looked up on Yelp.  Although it was a bit expensive, the quality of the materials was great and my little paper-loving heart was skipping beats left and right.  I bought a few things, realized that I’m becoming a big fan of graph-lined notebook paper, and a had a nice conversation with the owner of the shop.  After that, we went to a cafe and just relaxed… watching snow through the windows, sipping on hot tea, talking and reading.

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I love how things were organized in a rainbow!
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The café kept us cozy for a few hours as it snowed outside.

 

Then, there was the underground mall, an entity unto itself.  It’s a sprawling mass of tunnels, shops, and food stores connected to metros and expanding for miles underneath the city.  The locals sometimes use it to get around in the winter, when the roads are too difficult to navigate.  I’ve never been in such a huge shopping area before– you could get lost it in!  My friends were of the opinion that it was too similar to America’s malls to be novel, but I could have stayed for a while… I at least wanted to go to Lush, which I unfortunately couldn’t find!

Overall, our trip was a great way to end winter break, but I’m glad I have an extra day to relax at home.  I can pack, do some last-minute errands, and say goodbye to my brother and father on my own time.  I can also mentally prepare myself for the new semester!  I’ve already printed out some syllabuses, check online for important information… but it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that very soon, I’ll be studying and working again.

How are all you doing?  Excited for the spring?  Re-energized from the holidays?  Ready to get back into the swing of things?  Or maybe all of the above.  The holidays (before, after, during) can be stressful, but it can also be a great time to rejuvenate, clear your mind, and look at the year ahead as a blank slate.

Whatever the case, I hope you’re doing well!

cheers,

lumii

the last post (of this year)

Christmas2014This break has been amazing.

With parties (one for friends and two for families), decorating the house three days before Christmas, unexpected visitors, and last-minute errands, it’s been busy.  But I’ve had some down time as well, to work on art or music or to just be quiet with a cup of tea.  Christmas2014.2

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Doing a bit of baking with a friend– this is the vegan chocolate cake to live for from Fran Costigan.

I didn’t realize how much I missed my family.  We’re a big group– when we all gather together on my mom’s side, there are about 30-40 people in our house (same on my dad’s side).  The energy and atmosphere is something I can’t quite describe or replicate anywhere else.  It’s tiring, but so much fun!

I received a couple of pretty cool presents, too.  And, I’m proud to report, sent out my letters in a very timely manner.  I have to say, though, one of my favorite presents was this pair of Soot Sprite slippers.sootsprite

If you’re a fan of Miyazaki movies, then you’ll know soot sprites make an appearance in My Neighbor Totoro or in Spirited Away, both of which are very cute movies.  Anyway, I don’t think I’ll be taking these off.  Ever.  They’re cute, warm, and… well… cute.

Now we’ve moved on to New Year’s celebrations.  How did that happen already?  It’s too quick!  Once more, the family has come from all corners of the earth (or, really, Colorado is the farthest) to get together one last time before the year ends.  They’re staying at a hotel only 10 minutes from my house, right next to the ocean and the boardwalk.  And I have to say, the hotel is a little bit creepy.  With dim lighting, huge empty rooms, and almost no people,  it feels like the entire place is haunted.

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Everything is covered in white– like an abandoned house with sheets over the furniture…  Flanders2 Flanders3   

The lights actually went out for a few minutes last night– not just in the hotel, but in the whole city block around us.  We happened to have a nice view of the ferris wheel from our room, and I must say, it’s eerie to watch a brightly lighted amusement ride suddenly cut into blackness. Overall, though, it’s a very enjoyable place.  The cousins around my age are chatting about life and staying obsessed with Trivia Crack when we’re not walking the boardwalk and the beach with no lights but the stars.

And on a bit of a more serious note:

As this will be my last post of the year, I feel it’s a good time to reflect on things that have happened to me.  It’s been an amazing twelve months for me.  It’s been sad at time stressful at other, but throughout it all, I’ve tried to keep my head up and focused on the positives in life.  I’ve grown so much more than I thought possible.

Right now, I’m so incredibly grateful to be home and safe with my family.  I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made and the opportunities that have arisen…  I honestly feel like my future is brighter than it ever has been before.

As the New Year approaches (much more quickly than I would like), I find myself only wanting to make the resolution to keep my head up even higher and roll with any punches life throws at me.  I want to keep the happiness and kindness in my life and continue spreading it to others.

I hope you all have had a fantastic holiday season, whether you celebrate Christmas or something else, and I hope your New Year’s festivities are safe and a whole lot of fun.  Tell me what you’re up to!

cheers,

lumii