I am a semi-skeptic turned spiritual awakening junkie. The Universe plucked me out of a lucrative but miserable corporate job and led me to a bumpy, intense, gut-wrenching and yet oh-so-wonderful journey where I uncovered my true self. Somewhere along the way, "God" showed up, pulled up a scroll with my signature on it and said, "This is what...

I am a semi-skeptic turned spiritual awakening junkie. The Universe plucked me out of a lucrative but miserable corporate job and led me to a bumpy, intense, gut-wrenching and yet oh-so-wonderful journey where I uncovered my true self. Somewhere along the way, "God" showed up, pulled up a scroll with my signature on it and said, "This is what you agreed to do in that life on that planet," told me to get on with it and spread the Light. Whatever that means. So here I am. Peace out. I mean, namasté.

P.S. I am not a teacher or guru nor do I aspire become one. We are all students of life on this school called Earth so I intend to share this journey with fellow students so that we could learn from each other.

Visit Juvie at https://www.subtleawakening.com/  

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What to do when you're truly feeling overwhelmed

doingnothing What to do when you're truly feeling overwhelmed

When everything feels too much to handle, even with the best laid-out plans you’d feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Everything seems to come at you all at once and you feel like that there’s not enough of anything to do everything—not enough time, not enough money, not enough support, and most especially not enough you. Desperate for help, perhaps from no one in particular, you ask, “How do I do this? What do I do?”

Most of the time, in the attempt to deal with everything, we spring into action even more. We reassess our plans, downsize our to-do lists, set our priorities, start to say ‘no,’ delegate tasks and manage our time as efficiently as we can. We enroll in a yoga class and start a meditation practice or do whatever we think would help take away the feeling of overwhelm only to realize that they are yet more items to add to our already endless list.

Worst of all, our mind goes on overdrive, stressed not only about what’s going on around us or what we have to do, but by the commentaries going on in our head: I can’t do all of this. I don’t have what it takes. What if I made a mistake? What if I fail? We want to prove to everybody that we can do it all hiding the fact that we are a mental and emotional mess.

Our lives are filled with obligations and must-do’s. To make matters worse, in our materially-driven world, we are pressured to be ‘productive’—which often translates to always doing something (even if it’s not productive). We don’t want to appear lazy or useless so, sometimes, we even make ourselves busy just to appear productive even if busy and productive are, in fact, two different things.

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What we become when obstacles are removed for us

angrygirl What we become when obstacles are removed for us

What’s standing in your way right now? A relationship that’s no longer working but you don’t dare to end? Parents who won’t support your dream to become a musician because they want you to be lawyer? Your fear of being judged so you don’t show who you really are and live behind a mask your whole life? Whatever is getting in the way between you and whatever it is you’re trying to be or do, you’re probably wishing that you could will it away or that someone would take it away for you.

Life is not always smooth sailing, as we all know. Throughout our lives, we encounter obstacles—both external and internal—that prevent us from getting what we want or where we need to be. They invoke all sorts of emotional reaction from us. Sometimes, we feel annoyed. Sometimes, we get angry. And sometimes, we become afraid. But never do we feel glad about them. We often see them as unwanted roadblocks that delay our journey and bring us inconvenience and unnecessary suffering. But do we ever ask ourselves why they are even there? If we don’t deal with obstacles, what would we become?

Chicken or jerk?

One of my friends is raising an only child. She and her husband are very protective and they do everything to make life easy for their son to the extent that when the boy was 10 years old, he didn’t even know how to eat a meal with a fork and a knife. One time, we were having lunch and she got a phone call from him. Her son was 14 at that time. He was at the train station and asked if her mother could pick him up and take him home. So, we had to quickly end our lovely meal.

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Joy on hold: Are you afraid to be happy?

unhappy-schoolgirl-sitting-in-the-park-education-lifestyle-concept-picture-id1008019504 Joy on hold: Are you afraid to be happy?

“He who laughs the loudest, cries the hardest.” Someone said this in high school during lunch as we watched a girl laughing so boisterously that everyone in the cafeteria turned to look. “She’s so going to cry tomorrow,” she declared matter-of-factly. How would she know? I thought to myself. She was only 15, after all, just like me. And yet, somehow, what she said haunted me in the many years to come.

After that, whenever I had extreme moments of happiness, it would be followed by tears of sadness. So, I learned to hold back. I didn’t want to be too happy because the higher the high, the harder the fall. Each time I allowed myself to feel happiness full on, I braced for impact. I expected to be slammed back down to the ground. But does happiness really lead to sorrow or misery? Is it really happiness that is to blame?

Of course, it wasn’t! The B.S. that was put in my head by a random character in high school took hold of me. I gave it life. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s the energy of manifestation in action—if you believe in something strongly enough, it becomes real.

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To truly make a difference, you don't need to make a splash: A single drop is enough to cause ripples

drop To truly make a difference, you don't need to make a splash: A single drop is enough to cause ripples

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. Your book is great. In fact, I love it. Your writing style is really good. But you don’t have social media following or a substantial email list.” This is what a publisher told an acquaintance of mine when she pitched her book. Another acquaintance was turned down to be an affiliate marketer by an online course provider because they required at least 250,000 followers and a website with “very good” traffic for her to qualify.

These are just a couple of examples of how social media has shifted the way we’re seen and treated these days. In both cases, they were explicitly saying, “Without the numbers, you are worthless to us.” Through the social media lens, our worth is only as much as the number of followers we have or the size of our email list; the number of pageviews, impressions and clicks; and all the other vanity metrics that people seem to care a great deal about nowadays. So, if you’re not an influencer, forget about it.

In the meantime, while many people strive to be the next Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian or PewDiePie, those who truly want to make a difference in the world get caught up in the crossfire and are measured by the same vanity-metrics yardstick. Those numbers translate to money, after all.

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The real beauty of allowing kids to blossom as they are

kids The real beauty of allowing kids to blossom as they are

When I saw this picture on Instagram, my heart just sang with joy. The caption read, “This is the morning Amma popped down the stairs and said: ‘Look! I’m Abby on the top and mommy on the bottom!’” Amma is the youngest child of Glennon Doyle, author of New York Times bestseller Love Warrior and married to two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women's World Cup champion Abby Wambach. She was given the freedom to be herself by allowing her to wear whatever she wants. While that might seem too simplistic or even trivial for many, this is a type of empowerment that helps a child grow up to be confident, self-assured and secure.

My soul was celebrating upon seeing this little girl who is allowed to be herself, respected for what she wants and honored for all that she is. Speaking from my own childhood experience, not many children are blessed with this kind of upbringing. Having been raised in a strict Asian culture, the message that was drilled into my head was, “You’re the child, I’m the parent. You don’t have any say on anything. You just obey and do as you’re told.” This includes something as “simple” as dressing up.

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Soulmates passing by: Why do we meet people who are not meant to stay in our life?

friendship Soulmates passing by: Why do we meet people who are not meant to stay in our life?

Parents don’t always stay. Neither do friends. Certainly not romantic partners. Then there’s fleeting acquaintances and passing strangers that, for brief but meaningful moments, make an impact on us. Some relationships—in all forms, on this planet in any given lifetime—are not meant to last. While this could be taken as negative and, sometimes, even painful, if we look at it differently, we will see the gifts these people came to bring.

When my parents split up when I was very young, my father made nothing but brief cameo appearances in my life. My mother had to move somewhere far to get a job to provide for me so I was left under the care of my grandmother. I didn’t live with her until I was 13 years old. My estranged brother didn’t come into our life until I was around 20.

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Why being you truly matters to humanity’s (spiritual) evolutionary progress

humanity Why being you truly matters to humanity’s (spiritual) evolutionary progress

We’ve probably all heard this story. President John F. Kennedy visited NASA in 1962 and came across a janitor holding a mop. He came up to the man and asked him what he did for NASA, to which the janitor replied, “I’m helping put a man on the moon!”

When I first heard this story many years ago, it was at a corporate seminar. With such a profound message, everyone around me seemed to beam with pride as they realized their part in the unified purpose of the company for which we worked. But the odd duck that I am felt differently. Is this all I am worth? Is this all I could ever be? It seemed all superficial and meaningless to be working for something that only cares about growing in the name of profit. While everyone else in that room were inspired, I was dispirited and disheartened. I wanted to be part of something that truly matters.

Fast forward a few years later and I saw the meaning of the janitor’s statement in a different light—in a much deeper, more profound, more meaningful light. We are all connected like the strands of an intricately beautiful web—but how and why? My mind grappled for a way to understand and appreciate my place in the universal picture of life. Where do I exactly fit in all of this? And how does following my own path matter in this connectedness?

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What keeps us apart: What we need to stop doing to truly evolve

judging What keeps us apart: What we need to stop doing to truly evolve
Shaking my head, I heard the words come out of my mouth, “Oh my god, that’s just all sorts of wrong.” Then I realized what I was doing. I was looking at a 62-year old woman on television who was performing on stage wearing a black tight-fitting jumpsuit and showing a whole lot of cleavage through the sheer fabric on her upper chest. I looked at my husband and he was doing the same—not with words but with a look of disapproval on his face. We were full-on judging this woman that we’ve never even met.

​It's hard to admit it but we all do it. We judge all the time. “He’s so weird,” “I’m such a loser,” “She has poor taste in men,” or “Why am I so stupid?” Just a couple of days ago, I judged a friend of mine for cutting off his father from his life. While I was walking my dogs this morning, I judged the person I greeted and smiled at for not reciprocating. And I will probably have something to slap judgment on throughout the day.
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Self, interrupted: What constant external influences are doing to our being

woman-typing-phone-message-on-social-network-at-night-picture-id598912704 Self, interrupted: What constant external influences are doing to our being

Have you ever felt lost? Not in the Google Maps kind of way but in life? Do you sometimes feel like your life is not going anywhere? You feel overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do, where to go, who to turn to—you simply don’t know what to do with yourself. It happens to the best of us sometimes. But why? 

In our connected world, too many people and other stuff find their way to us competing for our attention. The digital world, particularly social media, gave birth to a new way to get us addicted to consuming content that’s not always good for us. In truth, even those that are seemingly inspirational and beneficial for us, can prove to be detrimental. 

There also seems to be way too many experts, teachers, influencers and gurus who claim that they could change our life and solve all our problems. How many times have you fallen into that trap? Reading countless books, enrolling in courses, attending workshops and seminars that’s supposed to change our lives but we end up in the same place—lost, confused and even more overwhelmed than when we began. Why? They’re supposed to help us, right? What gives?

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Thank your way out of your funk

happiness1 Thank your way out of your funk

Sitting on the couch, I felt it coming. It was late at night and the world was fast asleep. It was slowly making its way to me and I started to feel terrified. “What do I do now?” I asked, addressing no one in particular. And then, it begins: “I can’t do this. I don’t have what it takes!” I was starting to feel overwhelmed and if I didn’t get hold of it, it would lead me down a deep hole the way Alice did when she followed the rabbit.

This is just one version of a very real, very human process of going downhill emotionally. I’ve been through many different types of it countless of times before and I doubt it will ever stop happening. The difference is, this time around, I got it under control. I got myself out of it fast—through gratitude.

It’s in the genes! But…

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Falling in love with the present moment

young-girl-connecting-with-nature-picture-id629654224 How it saved me from feeling stuck and miserable about my life

I don’t know what to do. I’ve put all my eggs in this law school basket and I just dropped it,” said Christy Plunkett, a character in the television sitcom Mom. Her mother Bonnie yelped in excitement, “That’s why you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I just got that!”

How often do we learn something and not really get what it means? We read countless books about a particular subject, watch experts talk about it, maybe even take courses so we can put it into practice. We think we understand but at the back of our mind, there’s still a paradoxical layer that leaves us confused, struggling to fully grasp its true meaning — until the proverbial penny finally drops. Most people call this an aha moment, and this is one of mine.

I’ve been meditating for many years. It has made such impact on my life. It gave birth to profound experiences that were life-changing for me. One of the things that meditation taught me is to focus on the present moment. In addition to that, I’ve also read many materials, among them Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hahn. I’ve also been listening to Deepak Chopra’s guided meditations for years where he talks about being present over and over again. Their teachings made sense to me. Partially.

In reality, I was struggling to reconcile the difference between embracing the here and now and accepting my current situation. I want something else for myself. I want to follow the path to a “life with purpose.”

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Lessons from a willow tree: Why nature is the best teacher of life

willowtree Lessons from a willow tree: Why nature is the best teacher of life

If you embark on a journey of personal growth or spiritual development, at some point, you’d want to have a teacher to guide you through your that labyrinth. Some people hire coaches, some look for mentors, and there are those who even travel to places like India or Tibet to seek counsel from yogis, gurus and monks. But many people believe the famous Buddha-associated quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my case, that teacher came—but not in the form that I expected.

“That one!” I exclaimed to the man showing us plants and trees. I was pointing to a fully-grown six-foot potted tree standing in the corner of his greenhouse. We had just moved to a new house half a year prior and we were looking for new plants and small trees for our small backyard. I had a list of what I wanted to get so I don’t get swept up by the beauty of all the plants surrounding me and end up buying impulsively.

But this one was different. How this specific tree—which looked neglected and out of place like a mangy dog among pedigrees—caught my attention. I didn’t even know what kind of tree it was. And I didn’t even occur to me to ask. Even with its sparse leaves and lack of growth in the middle of summer, I felt strongly drawn to it and carried a sense of pride in taking it home. I knew exactly where to put it in our backyard.

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Come hell or high water: Beating OCD and the fear of being judged

mans-feet-behind-boundary-line-in-brick-paving-picture-id1031317786 Come hell or high water: Beating OCD and the fear of being judged

Leonardo di Caprio has it. Often, he feels the urge to walk through doorways multiple times. So does Daniel Radcliffe. It used to take him as long as five minutes or more to turn off a light. Then there’s Charlize Theron who claimed that she would lose sleep thinking about other people’s disorganized cabinets. And of course, there’s Howie Mandel who refuses to shake hands with people he meets. This is what obsessive-compulsive disorder — known simply as OCD — looks like for different people.

You have OCD!,” exclaimed my friend back in college. She was a Psychology major and we were talking about something I don’t even remember. I told her that the first thing I did when I got home from school was wash my hands. I told her that I did this, too, after I’ve read the papers. “What’s wrong with washing your hands?” I replied, “Don’t you know how dirty public transportation is? And how can you not wash your hands after touching a newspaper? Your fingers turn black from the ink!” I didn’t believe her ‘diagnosis’ of my apparent disorder and I could honestly say I didn’t suffer from OCD — until much later.

There are no recent statistics on OCD sufferers but according to a 1997 National Center for Biotechnology Information report, 2% of the global population suffered from it at that time. In the U.S., it affects about 1% of Americans. A Psychology Today article explains that OCD manifests in different ways, among them washing, cleaning, repeating, and orderliness.

Losing control

BeyondOCD.org states, “Although it has been established that OCD has a neurobiological basis, research has been unable to point to any definitive cause or causes of OCD.”

For me, though, I know when things happen out of my control, OCD rears its ugly head. I become a scrubaholic. I want everything to be clean and I get upset when someone messes up my sparkling clean stainless-steel sink and clutter-free kitchen countertop.

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“I am good enough, dammit!”

what-a-fantastic-day-it-is-outside-picture-id926197280 Reversing a lifetime of having low self-esteem

My whole life, I had been my worst critic. I was my own judge, jury and executioner. I strove for perfection, sought validation and felt that I have to compete for everything in order to deserve something. This is a result of people — most especially my family— criticizing me, telling me in many different ways how I was not good enough and how I need to be different and do better. Undoing that damage is neither easy nor quick. The solution was both simple and complicated but I am now peeling away the ugly layers that covered up my true self.


Growing up, I was constantly ‘teased’ about my flaws. My skin was too dark. My smile was too gummy. My lower lip was too thick. I was too skinny, too shy, too weak, too clumsy, too slow. There was a never-ending list of things that’s ‘wrong’ with me. And those were mostly from my own family — cousins, uncles and aunts, grandparents, siblings, and my mom. For who I was and whatever I did, I was simply not good enough. I felt like I could never measure up to standards set by those around me.

One of my first memories were of my parents broken up. I don’t remember them being together at all. Before my father died when I was 17, I remember seeing him only twice. I guess, this is where it all started, as a little girl asking, “Why doesn’t he want to see me? Am I not good enough for him?” That feeling of being unwanted by him didn’t leave me until I was about 18. Did I have daddy issues? Perhaps. I’ll leave that to the experts. But I honestly think that this is not the only culprit that eroded my self-worth.

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Coming out of the dark: A spiritual journey through depression

depression Coming out of the dark: A spiritual journey through depression

Anyone who has gone through depression—whether their own or someone they know or care about—would know it is such a dark place in which to find yourself to be. Many people suffer from emotional “dips” from time to time and others go through temporary episodes like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or post-partum depression but there are those who have been suffering from it for most of their lives. But whatever is the case, not only is the experience the very description of internal hell, its social stigma as a “mental illness” makes it even worse for those going through it. Being classified as mentally ill is terribly isolating as you are made to think that you are not “normal” and that the only way to sanity-land is by way of medication. My experience tells me different.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, making it the leading cause of disability worldwide. Time magazine reports that revenue for antidepressants globally is projected to grow to nearly $17 billion by 2020. Briefly, I was part of that 300 million depressed population but I am happy to say that I’ve stopped contributing to that growing anti-depressant revenue.

Twenty years ago, I went through major changes in my life. My marriage fell apart, which took me away from my only child. Needless to say, it was one of the most tumultuous times in my life. Sometime after, a new relationship led me to an entirely different destination than I had originally planned, to a country whose language I didn’t speak.

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Be your SELF not your selfie: The reality about our story on social media

taking-a-selfie-picture-id898834578 Be your SELF not your selfie: The reality about our story on social media

How many of you have taken a selfie? If you have, raise your hand. Okay, I can’t really see you raising your hand but I’m pretty sure most people had taken many selfies. In fact, in the past I took many selfies even before they were called selfies using my camera’s self-timer (yeah millennials, go ahead and laugh), all because of Facebook. That was around 2007 before it exploded to having more than 2 billion daily users. It was back on the day when updating your status was still done in the third person and the newsfeed was called the Wall. These days, even my 68-year old mother takes selfies to post on Facebook. So yeah, we all have done it.

 All these years, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with social media. I’ve deactivated my accounts many times in the past and stayed offline for years. The superficiality of it all really bugged me. I am the type of person who would rather have a handful of close friends instead of a big circle. But the person who introduced me to Facebook is the type of person who “collects” friends because, as she puts it, “You’ll never know when you need them.”

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Don’t stand in the way of your own destiny

its-a-new-day-picture-id637227660 Don’t stand in the way of your own destiny

The only one preventing your life from changing is you

So, what are you actually waiting for? A big break? A miracle? A windfall? Your family’s emotional support? Or perhaps you have some other excuse you haven’t quite formulated yet. Whatever you think those obstacles are, if they are outside of you—people, things or events that you imagine are stopping you from stepping on to your path of purpose and authenticity—you can turn things around because everything that you need for your life to change starts with you.

Sometimes, we want to change our life and live our true purpose but cannot understand why we’re not moving forward. Often, the reasons that stop us are not the external factors that we think stand in our way. We fail to see that the biggest obstacle is us. So, the most important thing that we need to do is to look inward and examine the things that, consciously or unconsciously, hold us back and imprison us within the imaginary walls we created.

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When tears start to fall: Why crying is necessary for emotional healing

tears When tears start to fall: Why crying is necessary for emotional healing

For many people—especially men—crying creates an effect the way garlic has on vampires. It repels people. Some people don’t know what to do and don’t know how to react around someone in tears. It’s considered a weakness, and in some situations like the office, a taboo. While there are inarguable reasons as to why, when and where crying is appropriate, crying—in healthy doses—is actually a cathartic process that is not only healing, but also builds resilience and strength.

I’m a cry baby. There, I admit it, although I wouldn’t call myself such. Ever since I was a little girl, the people around me called me weak-hearted because of it. I would cry out of joy, sadness, grief, anger, fear, pain, and frustration. I would cry if I felt lost or vulnerable. I would cry over tear jerking scenes on television or the movies. Hard as a I try, I do not seem to have an off switch like many people. The waterworks would just come and I have no control over it and I had always wondered why.

I wanted for it to change. I wanted for me to have control over it. I still do. So I kept searching for the answers. It was not until the recent past that I found it. I learned that not only am I a highly sensitive person (HSP), I am also empathic. Judith Orloff, M.D. on Psychology Today defines an HSP as someone who has “a low threshold for stimulation; the need for alone time; sensitivity to light, sound, and smell; and an aversion to large groups. It also takes highly sensitive people longer to wind down after a busy day, since their ability to transition from high stimulation to being quiet is slower.”

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Don’t carpe diem: A closer look at Glennon Doyle’s take on seizing the day

pretty-woman-skydiver-picture-id955145466 Don’t carpe diem

Ah, carpe diem. How many times have you heard this phrase? But have you really paid attention to what it means? It was made popular by the movie Dead Poets Society in 1990 but when I read the blog post Don’t Carpe Diem, I asked myself, “Why not? Isn’t ‘to carpe diem’ a good thing?”

Glennon Doyle is my hero. I never heard of her until I read her book, Love Warrior. I fell in love with this woman who, in my eyes, had the heart of a lion, opening herself up to the world with her real-life vulnerabilities. That is real courage to me. Her life inspired me to get real with my own fears and reservations and embrace my true self. How could I not? There’s this woman who went through alcohol and drug addiction and bulimia and she was not the slightest embarrassed to talk about it. No shame concealed her words and that is both respectable and admirable. My own life experiences are nothing compared to hers but I’ve carefully and desperately covered up my battle scars my whole life and so I finally asked myself, “Why is it so hard for me to show my wounds when they are the very things that made me who I am today?” I am stronger today than yesterday because I stared suffering down many times in the past allowing it to decide that I have become strong enough for it to leave.

One of Glennon’s most—if not the most—popular entries from her Momastery blog is Don’t carpe diem, which garnered over one million views and had been reposted and shared online countless of times. She talked about how she resented people’s well-meaning but unsolicited advice to enjoy the precious moments with her children while she struggled to “carpe fifteen minutes in a row.” And she’s got a point. You can’t really carpe diem when you’re struggling to get past the challenging moments because its very definition, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the ‘enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future.’ How would you feel if the dentist pulling your tooth without anesthesia tells you to carpe diem?

But here’s the disconnect: Carpe diem is derived from the Latin phrase Carpe diem quam minimum credula postero, which means pluck (or seize) the day trusting as little as possible in the future. And Merriam-Webster defines seize the day as: to do the things one wants to do when there is the chance instead of waiting for a later time. Clearly, the modern definition for carpe diem veered away from its true meaning. Here’s why:

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The life we have planned vs. the life we are meant to live

success-846055_1920 The life we have planned vs. the life we are meant to live

We live in a society where life follows a certain pattern that has us chasing after success defined by fame and fortune and all the “perks” that come with it. We are made to believe that this is the key to happiness and feeling fulfilled. But if that is really the case, why are there so many successful people who are still unhappy, get depressed, or worse, end up taking their own lives? Doesn’t this make you wonder, “Is that really the kind of life that we’re meant to live?”

My whole life, I tried very hard to follow the template that society made for many of us—get a degree, get a job, build a career, get married, start a family. I tried to stay on the mainstream—color within the lines—but “failed” in some cases. These “failures” are the areas in my life that get the sometimes-quizzical- sometimes-pitying-but-most-of-the-time-judgmental look from others.

I sat in a taxi once where the driver spent the whole ride lecturing me when my reply to his question, “Do you have kids?” was “No.” For almost an hour, he made it clear to me why deciding not to have kids is wrong. “You have to have kids. It’s the right thing to do.” The truth—which I was not about to share with this middle-aged man driving me home—is that I did choose to have a child once in my life. But life didn’t turn out the way I planned. Her father and I split up and went on our separate ways thousands of miles from each other. I made the painful decision that she will have a better life with him than me. For that, I got criticized, judged, and condemned. People threw stones at me until I was bloody and almost lifeless. And the meanest, cruelest of them all was me. And yet there I was at the back of a cab with a total stranger telling me why I should have kids. Preach.

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