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The choices we make

Decisions-714972Deciding to live in another country is a tough decision. It comes with a price. It’s a decision to leave behind all you ever knew as right, as safe. It’s a decision to be far away from those you grew up with and love. It’s to know not only that you’re now responsible for your own laundry, your own cleaning, your own groceries, your own toilet paper, but also to know that you’re responsible for taking care of yourself when you’re sick, when you’re sad, and when you need to cheer up. You’ll meet new people, that’s true, but it won’t be the same.

Most importantly, to decide to move to a different country by yourself means to accept you’ll always have this voice deep inside of you asking “did I make the right choice?” In good days the voice will be so quiet you’ll forget it’s there. You’ll have moments so full of happiness you’ll think yourself to be a fool for ever wondering if it was right or wrong, and you’ll know in your heart you did the right thing. But there will be bad days, in which the voice will scream so loud you won’t be able to ignore it. You may find yourself stalking your hometown friends on Facebook and even regretting not being there when things happen in their lives. You’ll regret not going to a graduation or to a wedding, not holding someone’s baby in your arms, and not being there to see them attempting to parent said child.

I’ve been living away from home, from my country and the ones I love, for almost 6 years now. It’s been a long journey and things have not turned out as I planned, but for the most part I’m happy with my decision. Sure, there are good and bad days, but the good tends to outweigh the bad. Or so I choose to believe. What other choice do I have? Sit down and regret? Consider what if…? What good will that bring? 

In life we must make choices all the time. And since there’s no way of turning back time to try both decisions first, there’s no way of knowing which one is best. All we can do is trust our guts and hope for the best. After all, all we have is now. So make the best of it. Free yourself from the weight of guilt or regret, and enjoy your choices. Allow yourself to be happy about them, even if they didn’t turn out the way you hoped they would. After all, the choices you make are, at least at the moment you make them, the ones you want.

And when things seem to go wrong, do not waste your energy on what ifs. Allow yourself to say “Oh, well,” smile, and move on.

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Watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends.

PS_I_Love_You_(film)Watching the movie P.S. I Love You today got me thinking. The movie starts with a couple fighting over some silly misunderstanding, ending with the couple having make-up sex. It then jumps to him a time where he died and she’s left mourning him as if nothing else in the world mattered and her own life had ended.

Is it a bit too much? Yes. Is her reaction too dramatic? Of course, it’s a movie after all. That’s what movies (and all other stories) do, they exaggerate feelings to an extreme. And even though we do know it’s an exaggeration, we still identify with it. Maybe because we have, at one point in our lives, felt a bit of the hopelessness she feels there, and it’s always nice to be able to identify ourselves with a character. And maybe it is an exaggeration, but when we are hurting, at that very moment, we do feel hopeless, even if for just a short period of time. We all know all suffering ends, but as we go through it, sometimes it’s hard to see the end of the tunnel.

But I do think that what’s nice about this movie is not the overwhelming hopelessness that makes us feel like our life is not so miserable, or even the love stories in it. It’s the other message. The bigger one.

This movie is not about finding someone to love. It’s not about the importance of finding love or of letting love find you. It’s about finding yourself. Holly is in a journey to find herself, and only after that she can find her happiness. Love will come when she’s happy, not as a means to happiness. And that’s something we must learn in life. You can’t hope that you’ll find love and that will solve all your problems. You must first fight and struggle and find yourself. Find yourself and learn to love yourself. You must find something you love doing and make it go from a dream to a reality. Not that you can’t find someone you love before that, but you can’t expect that love itself will fix everything. You are the only one who can fix yourself.

In any case, there are several little bits I like. I like the different characters, the cheesy lines, the crazy letters, and the idea of a kiss that will show you that life as you know it has ended. And that doesn’t mean life as you know it can only change once. It will change as many times as you allow it to happen.

So go, live your life to the fullest, and watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends. 🙂

Quotes:

Gotta be rich to be insane, Hol. Losing your mind is not a luxury for the middle class. ~ Sharon McCarthy

So now, all alone or not, you gotta walk ahead. Thing to remember is, if we’re all alone, then we’re all together in that too. ~ Patricia

Oh, is that why? [fake smile] Oh. Okay. Because I thought it was something different. I thought that it was because I thought I deserved the best and he’s out there. He’s just with all the wrong women. And let me be clear. After centuries of men looking at my tits instead of my eyes and pinching my ass instead of shaking my hand, I now have the divine right to stare at a man’s backside with vulgar, cheap appreciation. If I want to. ~ Denise Hennessey

All I know is, if you don’t figure out this something, you’ll just stay ordinary, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a work of art, or a taco, or a pair of socks! Just create something… new, and there it is, and it’s you, out in the world, outside of you, and you can look at it, or hear it, or read it, or feel it… and you know a little more about… you. A little bit more than anyone else does… Does that make any sense at all? ~ Holly Kennedy

We’re so arrogant, aren’t we? So afraid of age, we do everything we can to prevent it. We don’t realize what a privilege it is to grow old with someone. Someone who doesn’t drive you to commit murder or doesn’t humiliate you beyond repair. ~ Daniel Connelly

Lemon drops and Tequila, my friend. The moment where a 30-year-old body does not recover quite as fast as a 29-year-old body. ~ Sharon McCarthy

Honestly, I don’t blame you. It’s not your fault, it’s mine. I didn’t plan on liking you, it just sort of happened that way, I’m sorry about that. ~ Daniel Connelly

If you can promise me anything, promise me that whenever you’re sad, or unsure, or you lose complete faith, that you’ll try to see yourself through my eyes. ~ Gerry’s letter

You made my life, Holly. But I’m just one chapter in yours. There’ll be more. I promise. So here it comes, the big one. Don’t be afraid to fall in love again. Watch out for that signal, when life as you know it ends. P.S. I will always love you. ~ Gerry’s letter

Gerry Kennedy: You have my jacket.
Holly Kennedy: I’m keeping it unless we meet again, otherwise that will be the most perfect kiss ever shared by two strangers
Gerry Kennedy: I bet we will meet again.
Holly Kennedy: You better win that bet, because if we do, that’ll be the end of it.
Gerry Kennedy: The end of what?
Holly Kennedy: Life as we know it.

Dear Gerry, you said you wanted me to fall in love again, and maybe one day I will. But there are all kinds of love out there. This is my one and only life. And it’s a great and terrible and short and endless thing, and none of us come out of it alive. I don’t have a plan… except, it’s time my mom laughed again. She has never seen the world. She has never seen Ireland. So, I’m taking her back where we started. Maybe now she’ll understand. I don’t know how you did it, but you brought me back from the dead. I’ll write to you again soon. P.S… Guess what? ~ Holly Kennedy

 

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Welcome to Monsters University!

Earlier this week I went to see Monsters University. I have to admit I was pretty excited about seeing this movie but also quite a bit worried about it. It’s just that making a prequel is not the same as making a sequel.

In a sequel, things move forward, so almost any action can be justified, since the future has not been determined. It can be a disaster, and fans can be disappointed, but there’s more freedom in them. In a prequel, things need to move toward an established truth. The characters already exist and act a certain way, and the prequel must show the characters as they were but also be true to who they are now. Prequels don’t leave much room to play with the ending, which usually pleases the fans more than sequels, but it also creates a lot of expectations in fans, and when expectations are not met, things can get complicated.

I was relieved when I saw that MU was not at all what I had expected. It was so much better! I was happy with the choices made for how the characters met and how they were in the past, as much as what led them to choose the path they did later in life and how much college life influenced them later on. I was happy to see that Mike and Sulley were not best friends from the start, and that Randy was so insecure. It showed how little experiences and how you deal with them have a huge influence in who you’ll become.

“Just wait, hot-shot. I’m going to scare circles around you this year.” ~ Mike Wazowski

Oh, and before the movie, as it happens with all Pixar movies, there was a short animation film, The Blue Umbrella, which was adorable! I loved it! Here’s a clip of it. I’ll post the full version when available.

 

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Learning the craft

2756494307_4018808b1b_oI’ve been taking creative writing classes and enrolling in creative writing workshops for the past two years and I can say they have changed me. One professor in particular has been a huge part of it. Before taking his workshop I could read all kinds of books and I was fine. Now I feel like my way of looking into things has changed. Every book I open, every story I read, is different. I see things I had never noticed before. I see little flaws in technique that I wouldn’t be able to identify before. I see what could be done to improve the flow of a story and what is stalling it. And although I might not always agree with his point of view, I am thankful for all he has taught me.

I’ve recently read 1Q84 and my reaction to it was not what I expected. Thank you to my professor I paid attention to details in this book I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ll talk more about it later, in a separate post, but all I say is that my opinion is influenced by all I’ve learned in the past few years.

Learning about writing has changed me. It has made me aware of how to approach it and what I need to do to improve my own writing. It has made me a better writer. And I can’t wait to learn even more.

Photo credit: Nic McPhee

 

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People said it couldn’t be done. But I said, why not?

Often in life we have heard people saying that something can’t be done.

Really? It can’t be done? Who said it? And why not? Can we just sit down and accept it? Should we resign ourselves to the fact that this or that is something we cannot do and just forget about it? Or should we fight for it?

I say fight. I say get up and do it! That dream you had? Act on it! That goal you have in your mind? Go for it! What do you have to lose?

All of us have already made the world a bit more complex simply by existing in it. We changed the rules from what it was to what it is now. We must now take advantage of our position as beings who exist and make that count.

After all, we are beings who live, and as such, may never be truly known. Maybe that’s it. Maybe we are not supposed to be truly known by anyone. Every single person we meet in life gets to see only one tiny piece of the complex puzzle that makes up who we are. Maybe not even I can truly see all I truly am.

How it hurts when you realize I can never be truly known.

 

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How to defeat your enemies

T-Boy (he likes dinosaurs, that’s why I call him that) was watching a TV show yesterday called Ninjago. Since I don’t know what the show is I should do some research to first get to know the show and then do a brief explanation here, but that would take time. Instead, you’re left with my version of the show: it’s about legos, and they are ninjas, and one of them is the master and the others are learning from the master. That’s it. Kind of a teenage mutant ninja turtles but with less turtles and less pizza.

Anyway, I didn’t really sit there to watch the show, but the little bit I heard was about the ninjas trying to answer some riddle from the master. They’d come with a solution and it was always wrong (of course). Instead of watching the show I tried to distract T-Boy. I was not very successful at that, so I agreed to let him watch the last 5 minutes of the show in peace. He was really invested in it.

At the end the master tells his lego-ninjas: “The secret to defeat your enemies is to become their friend.” T-Boy’s expression was priceless, combined with an “Ah” that I’m sure meant what an interesting concept! Maybe I’ll try that next time. And that’s when I was reminded that as much as we may not like the idea of children watching TV shows all the time, if chosen wisely, they can help us teach them valuable lessons. Not that Ninjago is the best show ever (please, I’ve only watched a few minutes of one show) or that I’m advocating that children should watch more TV (I certainly am not saying that), but there is a team of people working behind TV shows and they do (in some cases) try to send good messages to the children.

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Did you watch Dungeons & Dragons? Boy, that was a fun show!

I remember when I was a child and all the TV shows I used to watch. And boy, did I watch TV! The TV was always on. Always. I watched Thundercats, Dungeons & Dragons, Tom & Jerry, Flintstones, Jetsons, Smurfs, Snorks, and so many others. I remember I used to love play-dough as well, and I’d make things from TV shows for my playmobil, like a tiny shell with tiny colored pencils inside. Well, of course it was tiny, have you seen the size of a playmobil’s hand?

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I had this! This exact one!

Oh, boy, what a sweet childhood I had. Maybe it’s time to get the box of play-dough out. Maybe I’ll make something the legos can use…

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Remember the Snorks?

 

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Easter with a touch of childhood memories.

When I was little Easter was a fun time. I remember following the Easter bunny’s paw prints around the house to find the place where he (you can’t call him it) had hidden my basket. The basket would always have a big chocolate egg. And by that I mean one of those:

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Just a few examples of Easter eggs.

You can find them everywhere in Brazil (yes, I grew up there) and you find them hanging from the ceiling (or a support over your head) in grocery stores. All you have to do is pick the one (or ones) you want and grab them as if you were getting fruit from a tree.

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Easter eggs are expensive, but walking into a supermarket and see all the eggs hanging above your head is priceless.

And if you have never seen the inside of one, they look kind of like this:

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This is a homemade one. Yes, you can get homemade ones and they are simply delicious!

Of course the contents of the eggs differ from one egg to the next, but they are all hollow with candies (and sometimes also toys) inside. The chocolate on the outside of the egg also changes, matching the candy they are based on (some have peanuts mixed with the chocolate, some are white chocolate, etc.).

But they were not the only thing in my basket. There were also smaller eggs and a chocolate bunny. I always got a chocolate bunny. Maybe because when I was little someone stole my bunny, a chocolate one, so my mom decided to give me one every year to compensate. Who knows, the point is, it was magical.

But one thing was even more magical. The decorated egg shells. My mom would start collecting eggshells weeks (maybe months) before Easter  It was a tough job to get them ready. She’d break just a little piece at the bottom of the eggshell, just enough to get the egg out. Then she’d wash the eggshells, let them dry, and store them in an egg carton. Later she’d make sugar peanuts (or Easter peanuts, as we’d call them) and put them inside the eggshells. She’d use a tiny cupcake liner to cover the whole and keep the peanuts inside. Then she’d decorate the shells using watercolors and a paintbrush.

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My mom’s ones had cupcake liners under them instead of egg holders, but they looked just like these ones.

Can we just take a moment to admire the artwork on those? I have to say I admire my mom’s dedication in using a tiny paintbrush to make the tiny details on the eggs. Nowadays with sharpies it would be a much easier job. Yay for that, right?

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Here you can see the peanuts inside and the cupcake liners.

And now I’m a bit nostalgic. Gee, I wonder why, right?

How was Easter for you growing up? What things are part of your fondest memories?

Oh, yeah, and HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE! Hope the Easter bunny leaves you a bunch of good moments to turn into sweet memories one day.

 

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