One Year

One year ago I remember clearly.

I had my guitar on my shoulder, leaving the warm dorms to trek across the chilly campus to my weekly music lesson, but the air was different than usual.

Everyone was huddled outside, talking as they saw smoke in the distance and hues of red burning in the sky that felt so distant at that moment.

“Are you really going to your lesson right now? There’s a fire,” my friend asked me.

Of course I would go to my lesson. It was my favorite part of Monday nights. Plus, the fire was nowhere near us, nothing would happen, and nothing would change.

Oh, how I was wrong.

Everything changed.

Photo Credit: pbs.org

Yet, so many things stayed the same.

One year later, I’m getting ready to go to my Monday night guitar lesson.

I have a new guitar, but it means so much more now. I appreciate it more now.

I’m still in a dorm room, wondering what I’ll be getting for secret snowflake tomorrow.

But I’m in a new dorm room, with a new roommate, on a new part of campus.

I don’t have the same clothes I had a year ago. The same photos, yearbooks, or blankets.

But, I have the photos I’ve taken since then.

My stuffed animal and All Time Low pillow I saved from the fire.

I still have the memories of the fire.

The ones that haunt me.

The ones that bring me to tears thinking about what I lost, what my friends lost, and what the whole school lost.

But, the memories remind me of how I became a stronger person since.

How my friends became stronger.

How the school became stronger.

How the county’s stronger.

More united.

More appreciated.

I still remember the day I returned from Christmas break and stepped on to campus and moved into the new dorms.

Being welcomed by overwhelming support, welcome back goodie bags, and hugs from my friends.

Seeing my horse for the first time since the fire and knowing he was safe and healthy. That all the other horses were safe.

The fire was so destructive, so horrible, but so many things came out of it that I’m more thankful now for than ever.

It’s been one year and I’m still sensitive to the scent of smoke and fire, to the sound of news about other California fires on the TV.

But, one year later, the mountains are a little greener.

My home is still stronger than ever.

And that’s the most beautiful thing of all.

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A Collection of Quotes

From motivateamazebegreat.com

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi

“He who fears he will suffer, already suffers because he fears.” — Michel De Montaigne

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” — Confucius

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” — Mary Engelbreit

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” — George Bernhard Shaw

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” — Viktor Frankl

“If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a life time — help someone else.” — Chinese proverb

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.” — Helen Keller

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen Covey

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.” — Sigmund Freud”

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” — Joshua J. Marine”

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” — Henry van Dyke

“I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life.” — Corazon Aquino”

 

I am not Sad

I assumed things I shouldn’t have.

I thought it was a date.

But, I’m not sad it wasn’t.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

I thought about my outfit for days.

I planned everything out, down to the perfume I was going to wear.

But, I am not sad that I did that all for nothing.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

Photo Credit: Pinterest.com

We were supposed to drive around and do stupid things in our cars.

Instead, we sat in your truck and watched the sunset, talking for hours.

I am not sad I spent that time with you.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

The way we talked was not how friends talk.

The things that were said were clearly more than friendly.

But, I am not sad it meant nothing.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

I blabbered about us hanging out and me having feelings for you.

Then I asked if it was a date and if you were into me and all I heard was you weren’t over your ex.

I am not sad.

I am just a little disappointed.

 

I know you need time and I understand that, but why did you let me believe that there was something between us?

I am sad that you flirted with me.

I am disappointed that she is still in your head, but I understand.

(I’m calling dibs when you’re ready)

A Red-Hot Reminder

There is another wildfire.

It started in Thousand Oaks, which is about an hour away from here, and it’s already taken 10,000 acres of land.

Photo Credit: cdn.cnn.com   (Thousand Oaks)

I try not to let it trigger me; I try to see it as one of the many catastrophes that have become a norm in our lives. But, I hear the wind blowing through our mobile dorms, that we’ve lived in since the Thomas Fire, and I can’t help but remember.

I remember it all. I remember the red cloud rising up behind the hills. I remember the dorm meeting we had, how they told us that the winds weren’t blowing our way, that we were safe. I remember having to evacuate in the middle of study hall, leaving nearly everything behind without even realizing that it all would be gone the next day. I remember finding out that our campus caught on fire. I remember not being able to leave the house without a smoke mask for days and it always looking like the sun was setting. I remember staring at that bright red sun, hoping for our clean blue skies to come back.

I don’t want to be dramatic. It could have been so much worse. But, being reminded of the fact that so much is gone and will forever remain gone and that, right now, there are people going through the exact same horrible thing, isn’t exactly pleasant.

Maybe I’m being oversensitive. Maybe I should be realistic and move on. Eventually, I will move on, but not quite yet. For now, I’ll be sitting on my bed, trying to tune out the wind pressing up against my window, staring at my packed bag in the corner.

Photo Credit: accuweather.brightspotcdn.com    (Thomas Fire)

Time Flies By

When I think about May 31st, 2019, I think about what I’m leaving behind when I walk across the amphitheater to get my high school diploma.

I’m leaving behind the campus I’ve called my home the past four years, the classes where I challenged myself and found my passions, and the teachers who helped me find those passions. I’m leaving behind my friends, who I won’t see at breakfast every morning or go on camping trips with anymore.

These last four years weren’t always easy. As much as I’ve loved them, they were some of the most challenging years of my life. But, one thing made life away from home just a little easier to manage and it wasn’t my teachers or friends.

It was my horse. A bay, appendix quarter horse named Time who I’ve been riding since my freshman year. My family always asks me what I’ll miss the most about OVS when I leave and the answer is always the same: Time.

When the Thomas Fire came on December 4th, 2017, I panicked as we were evacuating on the bus thinking my horse wasn’t going to make it out alive. I cried myself to sleep, despite the constant reassurances. Over the summer, I ended up crying again when I went three months without riding and, more specifically, without riding Time. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I have to say goodbye to him during the last week of school knowing that it’ll be the last goodbye. Knowing hat I won’t be getting back on once summer is over. Knowing that one day, towards the end of May, I will untack for the last time and possibly never get back on him. That, the following September, he’ll get a new rider and I’ll be at a university in a completely different city. I hope that rider loves that freaking horse as much as I do, though. Sometimes I wonder if that’s possible.

So many things happened the last four years with Time by my side. I went with him to my first horse show, on my first horse camping trip, my first dressage clinic, and my first injury, which he gave me after he threw me off at said horse show. Even though I got a fractured back, the story was still funny and memorable.

Photo Credit: ignant.com

I can imagine leaving OVS and going off to college, but I can’t imagine leaving Time. I can’t imagine my school day not consisting of me going to the barn at the end of the day and getting on him whether the lesson ends up going well or not. I wish I could take him with me to college, but it’s probably not possible.

Last Friday, my aunt and uncle came to watch me ride. “I don’t understand how some people just let go of their horses or sell them,” my aunt said. “They’re pets too.”

Time may have not be mine legally, but he is mine. At least, I like to say he is and, at least, many other people thought Time was mine before I told them he wasn’t. But, he is my horse. The horse I’ve ridden for all of high school and the animal I’ve developed a bond with.

I’m not ready to let Time go, but I’ll have to and I will. Even if it might be one of the most painful things I’ll ever have to do.

Making an Impact by Reducing It

I saw this tweet a few days ago and I think it is something we all need to be more concerned with.

And, it’s not just about climate change, it’s about everything involving the environment. We’ve done a lot of damage. When it comes to bettering our environment, it’s too late for preventative measures. We’re just playing catch up now.

Sometimes it’s hard to do the right thing. We’re so used to living the way that we do, it’s not always easy to put the planet first.

If you want to reduce your impact or help the planet but don’t know how, here are a few things you can try implementing into your routine:

Photo Credit: pinterest.com
  • Say no to plastic. The next time you eat out, tell your server you don’t need straws. Especially, if it’s fast food. There is no reason for you to take a lid and a straw for your drink. Buy glass bottles instead of plastic ones – they’re easier to recycle. If you’re planning on eating out, bring reusable containers to take left overs home.
  • Be mindful of product packaging. For example, buy bar soap instead of liquid soap. This can include shampoos and conditioners; there are plenty of eco-friendly options that don’t use plastic packaging. Don’t buy anything with excessive packaging. Cardboard or paper packages are the best options. Buy in bulk as much as you can.
  • Buy second hand. I understand that, from time to time, it’s nice to treat yourself to a new item and that’s fine. But, for the most part, you can find everything you need at thrift stores and you’ll save money too. There are also plenty of websites where you can buy used items (for those of you who like online shopping).
  • Keep it local. Shop at farmer’s markets and support local businesses. Buy produce that is in season. This reduces the distances that items need to be transported and causes less fuel emissions.
  • Don’t waste food. Shop for groceries using a list and only buy what you need. Don’t cook more food than you can eat. It is better to have no leftovers at all, but, if you do, try to actually eat them later.

If you’re looking for more ways to reduce your impact, do some research. There is so much information out there that can help us be better.

I’m not perfect. I try my best to be conscious of everything I do and the impact it will have, but I still have a lot of ways in which I could be better.

To some people, conservation might seem like a hopeless cause. But as long as we’re trying, if each day we do one more thing that reduces our impact, then, there is still hope.

Stargazing

A couple days ago, on a camping trip in the Alabama Hills, we all sat in silence in the pitch-black and looked at the stars. Seeing the hundreds of shining dots of light scattered in the sky was breathtaking; yet, some part of me felt a morsel of sadness. In order to see these stars, it was a four-hour drive from the small town I live in and a seven-hour drive from the nearest large city.  In Las Vegas, LA, or even just in my backyard, I can look up and see no stars and no moon, just black.

There are 40 billion stars in the Triangular Galaxy, 100 billion stars in the Whirlpool Galaxy, 250 billion stars in the Milky Way, and 1 trillion starts in the Andromeda galaxy. In the universe, there is an estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars; yet, due to human-caused factors, such as light pollution, only 5,000 stars are visible to the human eye across the world.

The average star is 109.1 times larger than Earth and the largest star is 32,730 times larger than the planet we live on. It’s also ten million times brighter than our sun.

These stars are so much larger than our earth; yet, in America alone, over 80% of the population is unable to see them.

You may wonder, so what? Why does this matter?

Here’s why it matters to me:

Every star I see reminds me of how small I am, how small you are, and how small the human population is. Nowadays, so many people view themselves as giant. Humans kill other animals, destroy the wilderness, and essentially destroy our elves with how we treat our planet (climate change, over population, the list goes on).

I should stop saying how we treat our planet; it’s how we treat the planet. Humans don’t own it; it is not something that we can claim as ours or threaten until it gives in. No, Earth is a powerful force of nature being affected by the billions of small, ant-like creatures called humans who live on it. It is not ours; it is not ours to destroy. So, humanity, please stop fucking acting like it is.

Humans are not the biggest force to be reckoned with; we aren’t gods. Our current superiority does not give us the right to kill everything in our path. One day, a meteor will hit; a black hole will swallow the earth;  countries will fire nuclear bombs and wipe out all life; the global warming we caused will result in an atmosphere unsustainable for all life; or, just like the dinosaurs, an astroid will hit. Even if all life on Earth just magically disappeared, the planets would keep spinning, the suns would keep burning, and the stars would keep shining.

Whenever you can, look at the sky and stars. Remember we are small, but, even though we are small, we have the power to protect this planet we call Earth.

Photo Credit: davemorrowphotography.com