Friday, December 31, 2010

The Horizon

Another gift my roommate and I received from Oprah's Favorite Things episode was a book by Mark Nepo called "The Book of Awakening". I gave mine away but I finally had some time recently to skim through Gina's copy. The book is a day by day guide to being present in the life you have. Each day has an insightful quote followed by a connecting story and then a few tips for the reader to achieve whatever message that day has.

When I glanced through the book, it was December 19th so I of course went straight straight to that date.

The quote was "As someone sitting beneath a tree can imagine the earth from above the trees, a heart encumbered by reality can know eternity."
The writer, Nepo goes on to explain that during rough seas, sailors go up to the deck of their ships in order to avoid getting sea sick. They stare out at the horizon and eventually feel better. Looking far ahead of them eases their stomachs and also their minds. Nepo continues to say that this way of thinking is so important in our daily lives. I couldn't agree more with this belief. However, it can be incredibly difficult to look beyond the initial pain or failure and see the light at the end of the very dark tunnel.

"Whether facing cancer or riding the insecurity of repeated rejection or trying to surmount the most profound moments of loneliness, my greatest pains and fears have been lessened when I've managed to keep the largest sense of life before me like a horizon." -Mark Nepo

After my parents died just over 3 years ago, I really didn't think too highly of my future. It was so difficult for me to look at the bigger picture and see beyond my immense sadness. I dreaded waking up each morning to find them still gone. I constantly wondered how I would ever be happy again. When on earth would I laugh and be 'ok' with this intense loss of my mom and dad? Somehow, little by little, day by day, month by month and year by year, I've started to look at my horizon a lot more. I'm a big planner and thus I have planned a lot of fun and exciting things in my life. Coming to the realization that I really have so much to look forward to in my life and wonderful people to do it all with has gotten me through many dark days.

Perhaps my horizon is a little cloudy some days but it still is definitely intact and will continue to grow brighter every day. I hope you look to your own horizon every day and let it guide you out of the bad moments in life.

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 19

31 Day Blogging Challenge- Day 19: Post a picture and a letter.

One of my dear friends back in Phoenix is Patrick or what his friends call him, Noche. These are a few of the best pictures that we've taken together over the last years. He is by far my best guy friend and I'm really sad that we no longer live in the same city. Thankfully, he has been great at the long-distance thing, even better than some of my girlfriends actually!

In October around the three year anniversary of my parents deaths, he sent me the following letter and I was so touched by it that I've been wanting to share it on my blog but didn't know how to. It is a beautiful letter and I can't imagine my life without this gentleman.

Dear Leah,

It has been 3 years since your parents departed from this world and I think they would be very proud of the woman you have become. You are smart, funny, independent, strong and most importantly loving. There is not a doubt in my mind that your parents absolutely love the person you have become. I am sorry that I never got to meet your Mom and Dad but from what I hear, they were wonderful people. I believe that you dealt with their passing with such strength and endurance. It was an unbelievable thing to be able to handle and you did it with great maturity. Continue to go through this life with all of the tools you have been using and I promise you will make your parents even prouder. You are a great human being and I love you with all of my heart.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 18

31 Day Photo Challenge- Day 18: Post a photo of your biggest insecurity.

I found this image below when I did a search on Google of 'insecurities'. While I think it's kind of funny, I also think that it's a rather accurate depiction of the way most people feel about their bodies.

Unfortunately, I too, struggle with the typical body insecurities but I strongly believe that I've gotten better and will continue to become an even healthier person inside and out.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 17

31 Day Photo Blogging Challenge-Day 17: Post a photo of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently.

Instead of posting pictures of things that have made an impact on my life recently, I decided to create a list of big things that have happened in my life this past year. With 2010 quickly drawing to an end in a few days, I think this was a helpful exercise in preparation for my upcoming New Years Resolutions.

So, here were the highlights of 2010 for me:

1. I moved to Los Angeles, California on Jan 3rd, 2010!
2. Meeting my two new best friends and roommates, Gina and Swati.

3. I've traveled a ton this year: Phoenix, Jamaica, San Diego, Palm Springs,
Washington D.C, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Wyoming, Utah, Las Vegas, Lake Arrowhead, New Mexico, Chicago, Redlands and Florida.
4. I started this blog which has really become a big part of my life.
5. Lots and lots of job interviews!
6. Getting to spend a lot more time with my family.
7. Many nights of babysitting my nephew Lucas!
8. An Oscar themed 26th Birthday Party at my house.
9. Two super fun bachelorette parties along with two beautiful weddings in Phoenix.
10. A meaningful relationship.
11. I started the Invisalign process! Yay!
12. Several good friends visited me here in LA and I visited a few friends too.
13. Reconnecting with many high school friends.
14. I started a fun nannying job.

15. I saw Lady Gaga in concert with my sister.
16. My Disneyland Half-Marathon! Not only did I finish it but I felt after it was over.
17. Gina's Pin-Ups for Vets calendar project has definitely made a huge impact on my life.

18. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 60 mile Walk in SF with my sister.
19. I finally entered the Smart Phone world and got a Black Berry.
20. I had some awesome weight loss!
21. Being on Oprah's Ultimate Favorite Things Episode
22. Serious training for the upcoming Full Marathon in March 2011.

Whew! I highly encourage you to make your own list. It really made me feel better about this year and I definitely feel a much bigger sense of accomplishment now.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 16

31 Day Blogging Challenge-Day 16: Post a picture of someone who inspires you.

Instead of posting pictures of all the people that inspire me, I thought it would be fitting to post Time's list of the top 10 most inspiring people of 2010.

1. Mir-Hossein Mousavi
2. Han Han

3. Yu-Na Kim
4. Rain
5. Lady Gaga
6. Adam Lambert
7. Susan Boyle

8. Liu Xiaobo

9. Sachin Tendulkar
10. Zahra Rahnavard

And on the flip side, here is Time's list of LEAST influential people/things of 2010:

1. Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum
2. Google Buzz
3. Leonid Tyagachev
4. Tom Tom (GPS Device)
5. Space Shuttle (Formerly Cool Vehicle)
6. Kurmanbek Bakiyev
7. Mamadou Tandja
8. Rue McClanahan
9. Lorelle Young
10. Manuel Zelaya

Don't feel bad if you have to look up a few of these names because so did I! : )

For the entire lists, check out Time's website.

Monday, December 27, 2010

What competitive nature?

As I sat down this lazy Monday evening to peruse through my latest Runners Magazine, something struck me as I was looking at their list of 2010 Running Heroes. These incredible men and women strive for excellence in all their running endeavours. They long to be the best in every event they participate in. In fact, most of them want to be better then the best, they want to be the ultimate super best. Yes, that exits.

They are constantly working to improve their finishing times, their speed and of course, their overall performance. Each of these runners want to hold any and all records for half marathons, marathons and also shorter runs. The one trait that all of them have in common is the competitive drive.
In the dictionary online, " 'competitive' is defined as having or displaying a strong desire to be more successful than others".

Honestly, I don't think I have that in me. I never think, "Wow, I really want to be better at this than her or him."

If someone were to carefully examine all the personality traits in me, I am certain the competitive gene would be missing. I must have been absent the day they were handing it out. I just don't have it. But I'm not sure I want it either. Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of seriously competitive people. They are usually angry when they aren't the best at whatever it is that they are doing and sometimes take it out on others. I feel like the complete opposite of all that. I mean, what's the point of all that competitive nature if it leads to sadness and aggression if the ultimate goal isn't reached?

I don't know... Perhaps, I would be a more successful person in life if I had a little more of a competitive nature in me. Who knows? However, I really don't think there's anything wrong with instead of working towards being the best out of everyone, simply striving to do the best that you can do. That's exactly what I do. I strive for my own personal excellence. I guess I compete with myself occasionally but is that really being competitive?

Are you competitive? How so?

Florida You-Tube Video

Check out the latest youtube video about my Pin-Ups for Vets trip to Florida last week:

Gina and Leah's Trip to Florida

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 15

31 Day Blogging Challenge-Day 15: Post a picture of something you want to do before you die.

I have a lot on my official Bucket List! Several months ago, I blogged about what my friends would do if they had a month left to live, here is a list of things they told me. As for me, here's what I can think of now:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 14

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 14: Post a picture of someone you could never imagine your life without.

I could never imagine my life without a lot of people! Yikes, how am I supposed to pick just one person?!

Well, I definitely know that I wouldn't be who I am today without my wonderful sister. She is my rock and I know that I can always count on her. We've been through our ups and down this year but I know that in the end, she is going to be there for me. We are sisters through and through and I love her dearly. This is a picture taken of her and my other favorite person, her son and my beloved nephew Lucas at Disneyland last week.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 13

31 Day Photo Challenge: Day 13- Post a picture of your favorite band or artist.

This is really hard because I love music and have so many favorite musicians. Here are a few current faves right now:

Merry Christmas from LA 'n' LA

Merry Christmas to you my wonderful followers and your family and friends. I hope you spend today with your loved ones and enjoy all that Christmas as to offer you. I'm excited to be with this little guy! Below is a picture of him taken last year! Isn't it the cutest ever? Can't wait to take more like this this Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 12

31 Day Photo Challenge: Post a picture of something you love.

I love a lot of different things but here are a few that come to mind right away:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 11

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 11: Post a picture of something you hate.

That was easy! : )

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 10

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 10: Post a picture of the person you do the craziest things with.

I haven't ever really done anything crazy so this is hard but if I had to choose someone whom I've done some silly things with, it would have to be my friend Courtney.
We always have fun together, no matter what it is we are doing.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Florida Visit-Vets, Pelicans and Art!

Since Sunday I've been in Tampa, Florida with my roomie and
Pin-Ups for Vets founder, Gina Elise. We have visited two VA hospitals here and gave out 200 of her awesome 2011 Pin-Up Calendars.

They were two great visits and I'm once again blown away by the bravery these men and women Vets have and the pride they take in having served our country. Our time with each patient in the hospitals may be brief but I like to think that the calendars and our presence stays with them long after the visit is over.

Today, one man in particular touched me and I would have liked to have spent more time with him. We were saying goodbye to him after having given him a calendar and he was thanking us for coming in to see him and he started to choke up. The, the tears started to flow. I wanted to give him a big hug. It really affected me and I couldn't help but wonder how many visitors he has gotten lately. He was just so appreciative of us that it really hit me how important it is that Gina and I make these visits to VA Hospitals. Veterans need to know that young people out there care about them and are grateful for their service.

We also visited a Hospice care unit today which was very difficult for me. These men and women know that they don't have long left to live and are just doing what they can to get through each day. I watched as a mother and daughter held their father's hand as he struggled for each breath. It broke my heart to see that. However, as soon as Gina and I walked into the room, their faces lit up and gladly accepted the calendar on his behalf and thanked us for coming in. Even in such despair, these people acknowledged the good coming into their lives.

Fortunately, we've made time to do a little sightseeing since we've been here. So, after the hospital visit, we spent a few hours in St. Petersburg or St. Pete as the locals call it, it's about 30 minutes south of Tampa. While it was fairly overcast for most of the afternoon, it
was still nice to hang out at the beach with the pelicans and relax for a little bit.

After taking some fun pictures at
the St. Pete Pier
, we headed over to the interesting Salvador Dali Museum. I wouldn't ever necessarily call myself a huge artsy person but I think that this man was an incredibly forward thinker. He is known as being a Spanish Catalan surrealist painter. As an artist, he broke the boundaries of the time and created some very striking and bizarre images. There are some that are a little too strange even for me but still some interesting pieces of work to look at. I certainly have a new-found appreciation for this unique man.

Gina and I really liked this painting of Dali's the best. It's called "Three Young Surrealist Women Holding in Their Arms the Skins of an Orchestra" and it was painted in 1936.

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 9

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 9: Post a picture of the person who has gotten you through the most.

This was easy. My BFF Tracy has been through so much with me and I'll never be able to thank her enough for everything. I thank the universe everyday for putting us together as roommates Freshman year of college at the University of Arizona. No one truly understands me like quite like her and I feel the same way about her. She is rock and I am sure that she always will be. Love ya girl! XOXO

Monday, December 20, 2010

50 Word Association

Here's a bit of word association. I saw it on a blog a few weeks ago and decided to indulge.

The rules are as follows:
Type what comes to mind FIRST when you see these 50 words. No second thoughts, no going back and changing things. It's not about being PC and it doesn’t matter how random it is!

1. Beer: An ice cold beer is perfect on a hot day.
2. Food: There's so many kinds of food out there.
3. Relationships: They can be very difficult to maintain.
4. Crush: No one right now. I can't even remember the last time I had a genuine crush.
5. Dreams: I'm full of them.
6. Life: Life goes on.
7. President: Obama.
8. Yummy: Delicious.
9. Cars: Wish I knew more about them.
10. Movies: Thank goodness for Netflix.
11. Halloween: Still love dressing up.
12. Sex: Complicates everything.
13. Religion: Unsure about it all.
14. Hate: I don't hate anyone.
15. Fear: Loneliness.
16. Marriage: Eventually.
17. Blondes: They don't have more fun.
18. Slippers: I would much rather be barefoot or wearing socks.
19. Shoes: beautiful and painful
20. Men: Fun and exhausting all at the same time.
21. Women: Emotional
22. Pass time: music, movies, friends
23. Cell Phone: Blackberry and not a crackberry yet!
24. Smoke: Gross.
25. Fantasy: Wouldn't you like to know?
26. College: Dearly missed.
27. High school: Carefree
28. Pajamas: T-shirt and pants
29. Stars: Don't see them too much here in LA.
30. Goal: Dreams, goals, I have them all.
31. Alcohol: There's nothing like a glass of wine at the end of a long day.
32. Love: Eternal.
33. Friends: Loved
34. Money: It definitely does not grow on trees.
35. Heartache: Unfair and devastating.
36. Time: There's never enough of it.
37. Divorce: It would be awful.
38. Dogs: Dalmatian.
39. Undies: Boy Shorts.
40. Parents: Never gone from my heart.
41. Babies: In my distant future.
42. Ex: Friends
43. Song: Too many in my head these days.
44. Color: Red
45. Weddings: A lot of work and money needed.
46. Pizza: Haven't had it in a long time.
47. Hangout: listening to music or reading.
48. Rest: Much needed right now.
49. Achievement: Always working on it.
50. Inspiration: Everything and everyone inspires me.

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 8

31 Day Photo Challenge-Day 8: Post a picture that you makes you laugh.

I have lots of pictures that make me laugh but here are few that come to mind right away.
I highly encourage you doing this particular challenge if you happen to be in a bad mood. I am sure that it will instantly brighten your mood and your day! : )