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I get to go home….eventually!

I am counting down the days until I’m headed back to Houston. It isn’t exactly “home” (south Texas is and Tampa feels more like a home than Houston), but I have a bed and all of my things in a brick house near the airport. Ah, my things. Does anyone else ever miss their stuff when they’re gone? I miss my pillows, my clean clothes, and all of my knickknacks that I’ve collected these past two years.
I am even excited to do the mundane list of errands like finally going to the dentist and doctor. Plus, I’m basically out of every toiletry item and my appearance is starting to show it. And, oh my gosh, I cannot wait to put on my retainer. I know it’s going to hurt like no other but one month is too long to not wear it! I learned my lesson never to forget it again!

So below is my, probably terribly boring to you, list of activities that I am excited for when I finally make it back to my temporary home of Houston, Texas. Ah, 5 more days.

  1. First, a deep, deep deep deep deep deep deep face wash.
  2. A much needed haircut.
  3. I might even treat myself to a mani pedi (god knows I need it)
  4. Buying all the items I’m out of (origins night cream specifically)
  5. LAUNDRY
  6. Cleaning my room because, let’s get real, I left it a mess.
  7. A visit to half-priced books (yay)
  8. Developing my first roll of film!
  9. Trying on my new swimsuits!!
  10. The dentist appointment I’ve been rescheduling for months.
  11. A doctors appointment to figure out why I’m breaking out in hives so often.
  12. Ordering new contacts.
  13. Buying new curtains for my room. (I’m really trying to make it feel more home-y)
  14. Lounging around in my own bed (ahh)
  15. TRIPS TO TARGET
  16. Spending all day outside (and not having to wear five layers and my huge red jacket)
  17. Spring shopping (my body is ready)
  18. And of course, hopefully seeing my dear sisters and the love of my life. Fingers crossed. I am so close to being homesick right now…but as long as I do my job correctly and stay focused on the end goal I’ll be alright. I can do it!

Xoxo Mary

P.s. Can spring hurry up and get here already?

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Addition: “Secrets of a Travel Writer” — National Geographic

Happy midnight, all! Well, at least here in Central time it is currently midnight. Somewhere in the world you may be eating brunch or maybe are heading out to town for an evening of good ol’ fun. Wherever you may be and whatever you may be doing with your day, do it courageously and wholeheartedly. I hope your pancakes are just the way you like them and that the music is all of your favorite dancy tunes!

As for myself, I’m tucked in ready for bed. Before I drift off into the land of sweet Zzz’s and unfortunate teeth grinding (awkward), I just wanted to share with you all something I came across this evening while on the twitter-sphere. I thought it was a very nice read for anyone that enjoys traveling, writing, blogging, story-telling, or is looking to become involved! I know I have a lot to work on- consistency being prominent- but the entire list is just full pointers to keep in mind in the future now. Also number 10 is my personal favorite- live in the moment!

Anyway, rock on. Until next time, friends!

-Mary Anna

Here are ten tricks of the trade—secrets that travel writers swear by to turn creative sparks into narrative arcs.

By George W. Stone

Continue reading

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That Pesky Thing Called Stress!

Boy, do I have quite a bit to share with all of you! Lately I have been doing a lot of photo work for both the school newspaper and friend’s portraits (which is always more fun than work). Narrowing in on today, I have a kinesiology test in about 10 minutes and it is absolutely pouring down the tears of God on all of us. (kidding, but it seriously won’t stop raining). Anyway, as maybe you have midterms approaching or a big decision to make (…post graduation…), you may be feeling a bit of added stress in your life. Headaches, tension, restless sleep. You may be irritated or panicking. What I just want you to know, as I myself begin this week’s list of shit-to-get-done, is that it’s all going to be better than okay. Keep your chin up and face your situations forward- remember be brave. You are stronger than you may know and you know yourself a lot better than you may believe you do. While I was studying for this exam last night (last minute cramming is definitely a stress-inducer as we all know), I came across this list in one of the power points on how to manage stress in your life. I thought it was a really neat list to just keep in mind of maybe keep on your phone for any moment when your wild imagination begins to get the best of you. I added my own personal comments at the end of each one, as usual. If you have any other tips and tricks that work for you, let me know! I’d love to hear them!

As always, bisoux mes amis. X Mary Anna

1) Deal with the cause: Finish the task or talk to the person. You can turn this situation into a good one. “I am Mary Anna Reyes and I am going to dominate this assignment” or “I am Mary Anna Reyes and I am not afraid to feel this way”. Whatever it may be. You may have to rip it off like a bandaid or sip on it just as this burning hot coffee I’m attempting to drink now. (The exam went pretty okay). You can do it.

2) Put the situation into perspective: Don’t dwell on it- how important will it be tomorrow or six months from now? This is the thing, we don’t know. It may not even be. If I could go back in time and tell myself to just calm down then I would because there is not anything more important than your health and sanity. Just breathe.

3) Pace yourself: No one can be in “high gear” all the time. Set short and intermediate goals. Check them off. Remember that list post I wrote about once? You don’t have to be at constant racing speed. Slow down, reevaluate, and enjoy the ride.

4) Deep breathing. See the humor in people and the absurdity of situations. I’m sure that person didn’t intend on sounding so stern and didn’t mean it that way. Don’t overwork yourself over all these possible out of the box situations that you think happened. There’s so much good in people- look for that instead. Learn to see the beauty around you instead of what you may be used to seeing. For example, I woke up this morning to pouring rain. “Gosh DAMN IT, I have to walk to class.” No. How about, “This is my opportunity to share my umbrella with a classmate that doesn’t have one and to hopefully, make someone’s day a whole lot better.” This is your chance to be better. Keep going.

5) Develop quality relationships: Seek individuals who care, love, and will listen to you. Express feelings constructively. Be there for others and allow others to be there for you. Sometimes you just need to vent, be distracted, cry, talk things through, etc. We all need that. And you are never alone. Also important, remind those around you that you’re there for them, too. Don’t forget your family, they need to hear that you have their backs sometimes as well. We have to spend the time we have on this world with people that make us feel as if we can conquer any stress that comes our way. Hold onto them.

6) Time management needs to be life management. Break up big, imposing jobs into small components, seek assistance when needed. Just ask for help, silly! It can be from a friend, professor, spiritual life force, online help center/call centers. Remember when I just said you are not alone? It’s true.

7) Look at situations and people in a different light: Go easier on yourself and others. Oh, this is a toughy. We become so accustomed to feeling a certain type of way. I remember one Breakaway the speaker asked, “How many times do you begin a conversation with a negative comment such as, ‘Man, I really hate this class.’ and the other person will go, ‘yeah, me too, bro’.” Oh man, this happens all the time! Why can’t we just turn that around? And instead of just assuming the worst in people, why can’t we see the hope it them instead? Try it out and let me know how it goes.

8) Balance fun & responsibility: Do something enjoyable on a regular basis, and don’t feel guilty! Especially don’t feel guilty! You’ll ruin the fun. “Treat yo self” remember? You deserve it. Believe that.

9) Exercise and eat sensibly: Schedule exercise into your life – a great stress reliever! Good food in proper portions can reduce the negative effects of stress. …I’m still working on this one so I can’t say much…I’m sure it works.

(The cover photo of this post definitely doesn’t agree with this last bullet, whoops)

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Traveling: A Paranoid and Successful Mess

Sometimes I hear a couple comments about how lucky I am that I get to travel from time to time (and I know I am) and about how brave I am to just go out and purchase tickets and visit new or old places. Well, I’m here to say that the easiest part for me is putting in my credit card number and the moment I get on the plane. Everything in-between that is an absolute mess. So below I quickly detailed the normal process, that is very far from brave, that I go through before and while traveling.

It all begins a few days before when I won’t shut up about it: “Do you think this looks New York? Do you think New Yorkians would wear these boots? I don’t know how cold it’s going to be in New York.” Okay, hello, self, I think we all get it. You’re traveling to NY. I tell myself to shut up, but hey, I’m excited. You can’t blame me for that. (or maybe you can) -who cares.

The night before my probably ridiculously early morning flight: I’ll begin to silently panic around 8 PM. I’ll start going over lists and obsessively looking at my watch as if the next 8 hours are going to flash by right before my eyes. They do. I’m still doing okay though, I’m holding on to some sort of sanity. Though I am questioning everything I packed and I’m probably more worried about the weight of my carry-on suitcase (I try to always do only carry-on) than anything else. Can I wear all this on…

At around 10:30 I remember that there’s this thing called sleep that they say you need before days of importance (or every day, whatever). At around this time I say to myself (like every night), “okay, Mary, by midnight you should be in bed. Stop joking about pulling an all-nighter and get some rest.” I’ll check my lists again and continue to silently freak out. By the time I know it, I’m basically pulling a very unintentional all-nighter.

12:30 AM roles in and I’m probably thinking some pretty bad thoughts about getting some “Taken” shit pulled on me or losing my suitcases. I’ll be in bed at this time (yay!), but I won’t be able to sleep because my brain won’t shut up. I’m talking really ridiculous (really, don’t ever share a cab with a stranger), but frightening thoughts when I’m supposed to be getting some good ol’ beauty sleep. That doesn’t happen. Ever. I don’t actually think I’ve ever slept before a flight.

2-4 AM are spent in a restless daze, I may consider backing out at least once, and then suddenly…I tell myself, bad things can happen to you anywhere. Not the most comforting thought in the world, but think about it. Even as I sit outside with the sun setting behind me and students shuffling their ways home, something terrible could happen to me. I could lose my backpack or have something stolen or a meteor could fall directly on me at this exact spot and moment. So why would I be afraid to travel somewhere else? It’s not as if I’m 100% safe here either. You get me? So I’ll tell myself this as I wake up get out of bed (already dressed for the day- yes I did sleep in the same clothes.) I’m probably extremely nauseated at this point.

Flight time. I’ll drink a lot, a lot, a lot of water, but I won’t eat a single thing until I’m on the flight-though now that airlines are getting cheap, they only offer free beverages (what a rip off). I’m on my guard but not too serious. I also don’t smile a lot. I try not to act suspicious but I think I’m doing it anyway by not trying. Why are they looking at me like that. Basically, I’m a paranoid mess at this point even though I know I’m not doing anything wrong. Oh well, keep moving forward. Get to the part where you get to put on all your shit in a hurry- wait, my belt…shit where did my ticket go….I’M GOING I’M GOING…shoes in hand, quart-sized baggies in other hand, the found ticket probably in my mouth. I shimmy my way to a bench, put everything back on, and bam- game face.

Arrival. I put on the strongest poker face I know how to. Somewhere between “don’t try me” and super-model wannabe. I don’t ever look at physical maps and I probably already have the directions and street names memorized. I’ll put on headphones but won’t actually listen to anything until I’m more comfortable with where I am. By the time I know it, I’m there- wherever there is. In one piece. I thank the Man upstairs, breathe a sigh of relief, and throw my bags on whatever surface I’m sleeping on that night. Whew! I may be the most paranoid traveler, but it’s always fun and always an adventure. I can breathe for a second.

So it’s time to tackle the public transportation system…..

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List #2: How to Kick 2015 in the Butt!

Do you know that moment when you feel as if something remarkable and something big is about to occur? That moment when you know something is not too far off and in reality all you have to do is wait? Maybe it’s all the sugar from this large Dr. Pepper that’s giving me goosebumps or possibly hanging out with my best mate Rey/Bubba and talking about life, but as the new year approaches (countdown begins now!), I feel this movement occurring, steadily sweeping its way over space and winding its way down to me- ready or not. Okay, a little visually dramatic, I know. Still, as much as I try to deny it, it’s almost time for decisions to be made. I’m supposed to figure things out in 2015: graduate, have a job, begin said job, begin paying back (insert very inappropriate curse words) student loans. BUT, this post isn’t about all of those silly stressors. It’s about what I consider the first few step in preparing for them! As I mentioned in a previous post, I was knocking something off my List of Fresh Starts & Changes but now I’m going to call it my List of How to Kick The Future’s Ass (sorry, Mom).

First step: Commit to what liberates you. Do what makes you feel refreshed and re-energized. This may be a one step process such as cutting your hair as you’ve always wanted it but just always stopped yourself from doing or working on that annual purging of your closet (and room, desk, refrigerator, email, garages, walls, you get me). For me, chopping off my long-ish tangled locks was my step to liberating myself from all of this year’s stressful weight. I’m normally nervous that I’ll look even younger (oh how many times I’ve been carded going into Rated-R movies), but regardless I took the plunge. I think sometime in the future I may go even shorter but for now I am very thrilled about having it short(er)! Personally, I’m one for constant change. Feeling idle builds restlessness in my bones so I’m working on being active in all parts of my life. Now that I’ve taken the step and reflected on it, I am brought to to the second step of how to kick 2015’s hiney!

Step Two: Visually prepare and demonstrate active commitment to everything you want to accomplish. Remember how we spoke about lists the other day? I don’t mean just jot a few things down and then be done. I mean, create grand expectations for yourself that exceed any chance of delay. Be visual. Tape that bucket list/to do list/ goals list to your laptop and then tape it somewhere else and then somewhere else after that. Because we all know how easy it is to stray from a list when you don’t feel necessity to finish it (and we know how much harder it is to finish it when there is pressure to finish it- students, I’m looking at you). I once saw this girl in class tape her to-do list to her water bottle. Genius! You stay hydrated and on track at the same time!

Step Three: Remember who you are. Now, because you’ve been so motivated and driven for quite some time now, it’s normal to see that liberation you felt from step one slowly deflate like a pretty balloon. That’s okay! Not to bring up scarring childhood memories, but I believe we can all attest that The Lion King was quite a tear-jerker (it wasn’t your fault, Simba). To quote Mufasa’s ghost (oh man), “You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of life.”. When you are feeling overwhelmed with obstacles and work (it happens), take a second and remember what goals 10-year-old you had. 10-year-old little Mary jumped around constantly between future dream occupation to another. I wanted to be a doctor (Halloween costume), and then an astronomer (even bought a toy telescope), and then even an orchestra conductor for a day. Even though I couldn’t stick to one dream goal for too long, the point is, I believed in myself enough that I knew I could make anything happen. Now, in spontaneous moments of question and panic (again, it happens), when I begin to allow myself to be defeated, I force myself to stop, recollect, and as my priest says, “keep on keepin’ on”. It’s your circle of life- own it.

One Final Step in how to boss 2015 like a pro: Trust. Trust yourself. Trust that you know yourself better than you may sometimes think you do. Trust yourself when you face obstacles, that you will overcome them with grace and strength. And even if you overcome it with a bit of clumsiness (uh me), remember the main point that you did in fact over come it. Trust yourself when other’s doubt, when parents, friends, strangers question your future decisions. “Ay, why do you want to do that anyway? You know you won’t get a lot of money, right? Why don’t you just do this instead?” Trust that 10-year-old you would be so ridiculously proud of how much of a fighter you are. A few more things to trust in life: trust your body and treat it well. Trust you have the mental strength to figure out different solutions to confusing problems. Finally, trust others, you may have had an experience in the past that made you doubt sincerity or kindness in strangers, romantic partners, friends, but trust the fact that there are people out there that only wish for you to succeed and most importantly wish for you to be happy.

As always, bisoux mes amis 🙂 X

Mary A

P.S. Here are photos that my Bubba took of me to show off my shorter do! And a couple photos of my dear Bubba that can be found on my website at http://www.maryannareyes.22slides.com.   IMG_5374IMG_5392IMG_5384IMG_5378IMG_5360     IMG_5381  IMG_5389 IMG_5395  IMG_5484   IMG_5491IMG_5357IMG_5452IMG_5352

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