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How Self-Examination Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Welcome back pilgrims, As the 2020 refocus challenge continues, I'm glad to see you all here and participating. How are you doing with those action items? I'm excited for what you guys have shared with me as far as what your goals are, and how your perspective has changed on some of these things. This week's topic is ‘Examine’. To keep with the “20/20 Vision” theme, the initial title was ‘Refraction Test’, more commonly known as an eye exam. Refraction refers to the way the eye bends light, which in turn determines eyesight. For those people who have 2020 vision, I just want to say… you're weird. As someone who's worn glasses since adolescence, I'm a little intrigued by those of you have 20/20 vision. You mean you don't need anything to correct your sight? You just wake up in the morning able to see things near and far? The metaphor goes for the people who've come through 2020 unscathed. I'm jealous. Those of us who sometimes need assistance, this blog is to address issues that may compromise our vision. Our sight is determined by how light bends in the eye. If eyesight is a metaphor for life, then how well you view the world your opportunity depends on how light is bending. Your Goals are about you, and how you can achieve them from where you stand. that's pretty much what we'll be doing the rest of this #2020Refocus challenge, we'll be diving into you personally. Self-awareness is integral to understanding where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there. That's what this challenge is about. with the refraction test, it's once you identify the type of vision you have you find the best tools to provide clarity. going back to actual vision. If you are nearsighted, farsighted, or you have astigmatism or night blindness, whichever ailment befalls you, there are adjustments that can be made that you can correct your vision or at least not improve it enough that you don’t run into things. if you have nearsightedness, that means that you can see things that are really close. But when things are a little bit farther away, they're harder for you to discern. Let’s review some common vision impairments and how that may apply to our figurative vision for the future: Farsightedness: You can see things that are far away, but things that are close to you aren’t as easily discernible. Nearsightedness: You can see things that are close to you but focusing on things far away is a struggle. Night blindness: Difficulty in seeing in poor light or night. Once you identify what type of vision you have, you can choose the correct tools to correct the impairment. Just as in literal vision issues, there isn’t a panacea that will fix them all. There are unique tools and procedures to treat the different types of vision. Someone who is nearsighted will have a different shaped lens than someone who was farsighted. Even with the different types of vision that you have, there are different magnifications as well. Two people could be nearsighted but to varying degrees. This in turn changes the power of the tool (magnification of the glasses) as well. Remember when we discussed peripheral vision? It is important to be aware of the other things happening around you, even when you are focused on your goal. How well are you assessing threats that might be coming up on the side that may need your attention? The same goes for opportunities that may not have been visible at the outset, but as you get closer to your goals, are you seeing things in opportunities that arise for you? That's the importance of making sure that you have the best vision. Once you understand what type of vision that you have, you can use tools best suited for you. Rather than trying to make yourself into someone else where the person who you are modelling your success after or modelling yourself after their successes. If you're using the tools that Vega had, it may or may not be best suited for you and your circumstances. Optometrists advise against using glasses that aren’t prescribed as it may cause more damage than harm. An example to show the importance of using the correct tools at the correct time: I broke my glasses frequently in adolescence (as an adult now paying for my glasses, I appreciate my mother for not letting me go blind), in the interim I either did wear glasses, or had to wear on old pair until my new frames came in. Most days I was stuck between blurry vision and selective sight because wearing the old glasses gave me a headache and caused a strain on my eyes. I would only wear them when I had to. It was like magic every time I got a new pair of glasses after going without for an extended period of time. Perfect sight might seem like a luxury that you don’t need because you are making due in your current circumstance, but once you’ve experienced clarity, there is no going back. As we pursue our goals, we want to make sure that we're giving ourselves the best tools for our journey. When we set up this challenge, we established what our goals were. We made them SMART, we gave ourselves tasks. Then we checked our PERSPECTIVE, where it's just the how we're going to approach this. Then we did our SCOPE to take in the entire field of vision. Now that we know what we want, where it is, and all that circumstances that surround them, let's try to close the gap between us and our goals. Resources to Consider: - People in our network - Books to read - Courses to take - Skills to develop - Technology/ Computer If you have signed up for the mailing list to to get access to the bonus material for the challenge. Until Next Time, Pella

Intercontinental Flight From Australia to US during COVID

Welcome back, This is a blog about my return to the United States. On my Instagram I posted a vote as to whether or not you guys wanted to hear about my 42-hour journey back to the States from Australia. If you don’t follow me on IG, you may miss the next vote. This is my journey, but I’m open to taking direction 😉. Far From Home For the last two years, I’ve been living in the South Pacific. I started off in New Zealand what was supposed to be a one year Working Holiday. That became the second year in Australia because YOLO. That year became 16 months because of the Corona Virus. I had made plans to continue my travels, but you know what they say about making plans… I tried to wait out COVID, but the longer I stayed in Australia, the less likely it looked like this would be quickly resolved. I had to return home. As I have said before, I try to be optimistic and accept the things I cannot change, and all that jazz. I chose to see this is as a new adventure for me, one that I did not see coming. I am trying to navigate, as best as I can. My return to America. My birthday was at the end of August. Despite the craziness that was being locked down to Melbourne, I had probably one of the best birthdays on record. We didn’t even have to leave the house! My flatmates and friends were so considerate and so amazing. They took me on a little ‘journey to Spain’. I brought in 30, not in Barcelona as I’d hoped but I still partook in Sangria. I dined on tapas. I danced to the songs of the Spanish Guitar playlist on Spotify. I had a photoshoot. We did my birthday tradition of Karaoke. They made my favorite cake and it looked MasterChef quality. It was great. I was also the last hurrah as my time in Melbourne was winding down. The COVID-19 Impact Because Victoria (especially Melbourne) had a spike in cases, travel restrictions were pretty stringent. The last 4 weeks that I was there were Level 4 lockdown restrictions. Key points of the Melbourne Lockdown: Stay inside, only leave when necessary (essential workers/shopping) No visiting other residences except to administer care No socializing with anyone outside of your household One hour of exercise allowed each day Do not travel outside a 5Km radius of your home 8m-5am curfew Masks must be worn whenever in public Only one person can go to the stores from your household each day. was that you can’t leave more than five kilometers from your house. In order for me to leave, Victoria, I had to fill out for a permit to enter New South Wales which is a layover for my flight. Everything was touch and go for a while there as Australia would implement new restrictions/procedures with little notice. Lucky for me, the process didn’t change before my flight, but just to be sure I contacted several agencies and documented the instructions and advisement from each. The permit for entry into New South Wales could only be applied for three days before departure. My flatmates were driving me to the airport so I sent them a copy of my permit so if they were stopped on their return home, they wouldn’t be fined $1,500 for breaking quarantine restrictions. We still went to the airport the recommended two hours before because though, I knew the airport was less busy, I wasn’t sure if the staffing levels were decreased. With the situation as it were, I didn’t have enough chips to gamble so I erred on the side of caution. We had to say goodbye in the car because they weren’t allowed to get out of the care at the airport. It was like a ghost town. There were empty airline queues. Lights were off in much of the airport. As a non-Australian traveling international, I had to check-in with an attendant. I ended up needing the two hour cushion time as the attendants were busy and I had to finagle all of my stuff because I had a 23 kg(50 pounds) weight limit for two checked bags in addition to the personal item and the carry on item. My checked bags 17 kg and 30kg, respectively. For 30 minutes, no matter how I rearranged the two, I couldn’t get them to be 23 each. I reluctantly got them as close as possible threw some stuff away and stuffed some stuff in my carryon. I had a feeling I would be over so I had already made my piece with disregarding the stuff. I can live without it. I’ve been trying to ‘Marie Kondo’ my life, asking myself does this spark joy? I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working on it. I had already donated a lot of my belongings prior to packing. THE FLIGHT Itinerary Melbourne to Sydney (overnight Layover) to Sydney to Los Angeles (three-hour layover) to Los Angeles to Orlando. After checking in, an attendant checked my temperature and asked me if I had any flu-like symptoms. Then another attendant asked to see my permit. They checked it against my ID and I dropped my face mask for them to verify. Then I went through security. In boarding, the airline asked passengers in the back of the plane to board first. They even opened up the tarmac so that people could enter from the back of the plane rather than having to walk from the front to the back. The airline gave out packets that had masks as well as Purell wipes. The plane was moderately full even with the empty middle seats, but I still felt distanced all things considered. The flight to Sydney was a short hour and a half flight. Deplaning in Sydney, we were asked to do so from front to back. Those in the back should remain seated until those in the front had deboarded. I do hope this is something that stays after this whole COVID-19 thing is under control. Once off the plane, they tested my temperature again. The attendant asked if I was arriving in Sydney or just connecting, I said connecting. I was shown to a section of seats near the baggage claim. There were two sections for passengers to be processed. 1) for connecting flights 2) Those arriving in New South Wales (NSW) who would have to do a mandatory 14-day quarantine. If I were in Sydney to stay, I would have been put in a hotel to mandatory quarantine for 14 days. That would have been at my own cost. At the beginning of quarantine, the Australian government was footing the bill for their citizens as they returned home from abroad. After the first three/four months anyone returning to Australia would have to pay at their own cost. Because I was just transiting through, NSW put me up in a hotel for the night. Police officers were walking around this area as NSW Police were in charge of this operation. They checked my permit to enter and they gave me a lot of paperwork to fill out. This process of documenting and sorting everyone took about two hours. I had wifi and didn’t have anywhere else to be so it wasn’t the worst situation and the process was relatively smooth. Once I finally got my bags and permits, the other passengers and I were put on a shuttle to a hotel. The shuttle was actually a rather plush charter bus. The Australian military were the ones helping us with our bags. With everything that I’d seen on the news during the weeks/months prior it was jarring to see the juxtaposition of how Australia uses their military during the pandemic versus how America deployed military during the pandemic. Moment of honesty… I was not excited to come back to America. Once at the hotel, it was near the heart of the city and very nice. I was expecting a budget hotel, but I was glad it wasn’t. We left the bus in groups of 6 in order to keep a social distance while checking in. Once inside we first had to hand our paperwork from the airport to the NSW police who were set up in the lobby. They processed my passport, flight, and permit information. They informed me of the process to get back to the airport in the morning then they allowed me to check-in. Once I was checked in, I pointed my luggage out to the military man who was helping with the bags and he escorted me to my room. He had a master key that he used to open the door as I wasn’t given a key at check-in. Once I was in the room, I set to wiping down most surfaces with the antibacterial wipes I was traveling with. You can’t be too safe out there. My mother is compulsive about germs, so I did my best to immolate her (no flu-like symptoms 14 days later so I guess I did alright). I took a shower and waited for my dinner to be delivered. The next morning, I received a wake-up call and went to the lobby where a shuttle was waiting to take me and others to the airport. There were 4 other people on my shuttle, and they’d all been on my flight from Melbourne the day before. We stopped at another hotel to pick up another passenger. Weird, but true travel story, two of the people on this shuttle ended up being from Florida. Relatively close to Orlando (my destination) and my hometown in South Florida. I found it interesting that had it not been for COVID procedures, we probably wouldn’t have ever known that our journeys had so much overlap. Getting on the plane in Sydney was a lot smoother than the day before. There weren’t as many international travelers and my suitcases were already at their desired weights. The night before I had to renew my permit just as an extra precaution as it expired on the 4th, and I didn’t want any stumbles at the finish line. Going through security they checked my passport. I was pulled aside as they took a deeper look at my passport. Turns out they were just double-checking the legitimacy of my stay in Australia as my original e-visa had expired 5 months prior. Subsequently, they found my second visa and I was able to continue on. After realizing it was my visa they were checking, I second-guessed if I could have been deported for free instead of paying for the plane ticket…I joke, I joke, the ticket price was a really good deal. Going through the international terminal all the shops and duty-free stores were closed. There were only one or two little places to get something to eat. There were a lot of hand sanitizer stations and the masks were mandatory for us to wear. Before boarding the plane, they again have people board from back to front (I love this process). They check my temperature again, give out masks and wipes. The flight was so empty. Saying it was 15% full is a generous estimate. Middle seats were reserved but everyone ended up having an entire row to themselves. Nothing too crazy happened during the 13-and-a-half-hour flight from Sydney to LA. LAX international terminal felt like a private airport there were so few people there. I blew through customs and baggage claim. It was a three-hour layover but it took me about an hour and a half to get to my next terminal between customs, baggage claim, (getting a little lost), checking my bags for the next domestic flight, and going through TSA. I’m not going to lie. In this entire trip across the world, the 5 and a half hour LAX to MCO flight scared me the most. I had left a country where the majority was doing the socially responsible thing and following clear direction from government to …? The flight was full with exception of the empty middle rows. (L-R Syd- LAX seat options; LAX-MCO options; dinner on long haul Flight) When I arrived in Orlando, I was able to go through security, collect my bags, and catch an Uber all very quickly. Already I could see the difference in the American approach. Nobody checked my temperature, nobody asked if I had any flu-like symptoms, I didn’t register with anyone to say that I would quarantine for any period. They just let me into the country. No worries, I am self-quarantining for 14 days just in case. I will also continue to practice social distancing when and where I can. So, that was my journey back to America. A 42 hour journey door to door. Until Next Time, Pella

How Establishing Scope Can Rescue Your Goalsetting

Welcome back pilgrims, This is the third instalment of the #2020Refocus challenge. I have had an eventful week. Since last week, I have returned to Florida from Australia (jetlag is putting a hurting on me like I haven’t had before. This is a pivotal moment in my life…the next direction in which I am headed, I don’t know. In this time of uncertainty, I am actively practicing optimism as I choose to focus on the positive and be grateful for my wins. So far this challenge, we have established what our goals are and made them smart and we have a positive outlook based on gratitude. Did you know that tunnel vision is a bad thing? I didn’t. I’ve always equated tunnel vision with hawk-like focus. As science classes will tell you, peripheral vision is key to survival. That’s why we are going to look at the SCOPE of our goals. Now we take a step back and look at what achieving our goals all entails. Scope, for this challenge will require us to define our goals. Harking back to our SMART goals, let’s take Specific and Measurable and dive into them by naming the features and functions of each of our goals. Example: You want to learn a language (Spanish). Specific: Have an advanced understanding of Spanish. Measurable: be able to watch and follow along with a Spanish language tv program Action Based: Requires active listening skills to be applied. Relevant: Conversational Spanish with idioms and jokes Timely: By Next Cinco De Mayo. SCOPE In real life. If you have tunnel vision you can’t see things on either side of you. I never thought too heavily on that. I just thought that tunnel vision allowed you to have hawk-like procession on things you want. When you think about tunnel vision and all the things you miss out on because you didn’t see a potential threat or even a better opportunity, you realize the importance of peripheral vision. Eye placement has evolved over centuries. The further apart the eyes are set, the lower they are on the food chain. A greater field of vision allows the creature to readily identify threats coming from multiple directions. Apex predators usually have closer set eyes as they don’t have to worry about as many threats. I’m a nerd, I know. I admit this readily. (Sidenote: I’d like to point out that sharks have a nearly 360-degree field of vision, so my question is… what else is down there!? That after millions of years of evolution, sharks still need to see what’s coming up behind them. I say all this to say my fear of the ocean is legitimate and I don’t want to hear otherwise). We should avoid tunnel vision. We should remain focused on our goals, but understand the importance of expanding the vision to better access the circumstances that our goals exist. Applying Scope Answer these questions about each of your goals What are the boundaries of your goals? Are there any aspects of your life that you don’t want the pursuit of these goals to affect? Example: Do you not want to lose family time, or dip into your savings. Which and how many resources will be necessary to achieve this goal? Example: Are there individuals in your network that you want to involve? Is this truly a solo project? Have you researched the market to establish the true cost of the goal? Example: Do you know about opportunities of the nature of the business you want to get into? What factors is success dependent on? Example: Is there something that would prohibit you from reaching your goal? By this point, you have probably been pursuing your goals for three weeks now. How are you with your progress? What are somethings that you expected? What are some things that surprised you about working on your goals? In project management, there's a thing scope creep. If we don't set the boundaries of our goals, sometimes we can exceed the resources that we have to make them happen. I want to encourage you with this challenge, but more than that, I want you to achieve your goal. I honestly believe that everyone has a calling and I a part of my calling is to help others answer theirs. Scope helps close the gap between expectation and execution. It forms the basis of every action and every decision of a project. When you try to define the work that needs to be done, we establish boundaries of this goal. We have to know what the true cost is of chasing these goals and if we are willing and able to pay. Scope is the clear identification of the work that is required to accomplish the goal. This scope establishes the responsibilities for everyone if this is a team effort. It also sets up procedures for how you're going to work on it. Scope is about realizing where your goals are most likely to occur, where they thrive the type of environment in which your goals exist. Once you know that, you can put yourself in the proximity of that. Networking is can be a part of establishing the scope of your goals. You might be thinking that you can get your goals just where you are. To that I say, maybe you are a Golden State shooting guard, but statistically, the closer you are to a basket, the more likely you are to sink it. But hey, what do I know, maybe you are a missing Splash Brother. Maybe you can make that half-court shot. So if you are not willing to go to a place where your goals are, then you must be willing to create an environment in which your goals be not only attained but maintained. If your goals are to have a lot of money, or increase your financial standings in life or to have opulent things. The scope of that goal is financial education. A lot of lotto winners lose their money and are back broke, or in worse situations not long after because they never learned money management. Scope is about realizing where your goals are most likely to occur, where they thrive the type of environment in which your goals exist. Once you know that, you can put yourself in the proximity of that. So, when you're taking into consideration what you want to achieve please remember that most goals are pitstops, not destinations. If you want to get married. After the wedding is a whole marriage. Have you decided what that will require to maintain? That is the importance of scope. We are laying the foundation on which we are building our dreams. SWOT Analysis SWOT Analysis is probably my favorite project planning tool. It’s used to access how to improve and be more efficient. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strengths. Strengths are things that you have currently mastered. Weaknesses are areas of improvement within your current state. Opportunities are things outside of your control that you aren’t yet doing that can be done. Threats are things outside of your control that could hinder your progress. June 2020 I did a personal SWOT analysis and man! Changed my life. Literally. I was in a crossroads and anxiety was high, so instead of focusing on things outside of my control (like COVID-19 shaking up the world and my countries complete bumbling of the process while I’m abroad with an expiring work visa not knowing what will happen and should I go home to mounting cases of a pandemic in a country with ridiculous medical costs and I don’t have American health care and that same system plays it fast and loose with what is considered a pre-existing condition), I chose to focus on things that are in my control (like this blog 🥴). I’d like to touch base with those taking this journey. Back at week one when we established the SMART goals… the A was about Actions. I want to make sure that everyone has implemented their actions. All the topics that I discuss are about strategy about achieving our goals, but the achievement is heavily reliant on Action. I highly recommend you read the Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. It’s a great book I read; and it really helped me reframe how I saw habits. Okay Pilgrims, that’s all for this week. If you haven’t already joined the mailing list you can always subscribe to have access to the bonus material in the Members Only section. Don’t forget to like, comment, or share this blog with someone that you think it would benefit. Your engagement provides me with feedback that will shape the direction of this blog. Next week’s topic is EXAMINE. See you there 😉, Pella

The Importance of Perspective When Pursuing Your (SMART)Goals

Welcome back Pilgrims, This week, we're going to talk about perspective. Last week, we reviewed our SMART goals and what it takes to create them. By now, you should have created a mission and a vision statement for yourself, and you should have five SMART goals. Now that we know what we want, the next step is checking our perspective. By now, you’ve had a full week to think about what you want. How was that for you? Were there any revelations that you had about your goals? Which areas do you think will need extra focus from you? Keep that in mind as we go forward with this week’s topic. If you haven't yet completed the tasks from week 1, please take a moment now to go back to the blog and watch the video on SMART goals and go ahead and write down five goals that you want. This week's topic is about perspective. This week is especially for people who are feeling anxious or intimidated by the goals that they've set for themselves. There is an awesome TED talk by Kelly McGonigal which re-frames fear/stress and how we think about it. I highly recommend you watch the entire video, but my biggest takeaway was the body's reaction to fear and excitement are very similar. Sweaty palms, racing heartbeat, the feelings of anxiousness are symptoms of both. How the body responds to a stimulant is how we frame it. If we are looking at something like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is scary’, then our body is going to release cortisol which is a stress hormone (which is bad for you). If you look at it as ‘this is exciting, this is a new adventure for me’, then your body doesn’t release cortisol. Changes in Perspective: This is a new goal for me to accomplish and think of how I'm going to be on the other side of this and what I'll have once I complete this goal that actually releases more adrenaline and again, I highly recommend you watch the TEDTALK. Over the years, several of my friends have had to remind me. Sometimes I have to remind myself “I’m great!” There's actually a playlist on Spotify called Pep Talk that I listen to when I need to get myself in that “I’m the s***” mentality. The mentality of which you approach a situation is going to change the energy of your actions. if you go in thinking I can't do this or there's no point or I'm just going to mess this up how well are you going to be able to do that job? But if you go in there thinking: “Alright, I'm here. I'm ready to learn. There is a possibility of greatness”, the energy that you put in is going to be vastly different from the energy of a defeatist standpoint. I want us to express gratitude for everything that we have already accomplished. We've taken a moment to acknowledge everything that we have now. Everything that is now an expectation, was once a goal. If you are struggling to think of examples of things that you have accomplished, we can start as far back as walking. There was once a time, you had no motor skills, then you were on all fours, and now you're walking upright. You can locomote yourself to and fro like it's nothing. Still stumped? Have you ever learned a skill? Bought something that you always wanted for yourself? Have you graduated from school? Do you have a job? You wanted something, made up your mind to get it, and now you have it. For that, we're going to express gratitude. Also, while we are expressing gratitude, we have to express gratitude for the things that did not happen when we wanted them to. In hindsight, we may be able to recognize that getting that thing wasn’t in our best interest. Maybe we can even see that by not getting that thing we wanted, we were able to get something better than we had hoped to imagine. I Can Tell You One Of My Stories: After I graduated university, it was a down economy and I couldn't find a job as quickly as I’d anticipated. I was working in the same position that I had when I was in college and taking classes full time. I was ready to grow. I was ready to get a leadership role. I was ready to embark upon adulthood. For the better part of a year, I was applying internally externally, and just getting no after no after no. It was very disheartening. Although I felt stuck in a position that I felt I had outgrown, I kept up my work ethic at work. I found ways to challenge myself when the role wasn’t. I remained positive and continued to perform at a high level. Eventually, my work spoke for itself when I was tapped for a new position, the role was better than anything that I had been applying for. In hindsight, I can express gratitude for that journey. In the midst of it, however, when I didn’t see the end in sight— I was frustrated and upset. I want us to be mindful of this going forward. We may be making progress even if we don’t feel like we are moving forward. We have to persevere no matter what the obstacle is in front of us. whether it be a setback or anything, we just have to stay the course and be find the opportunities in every obstacle. The mere fact that you have goals shows that you have hope within you. You have optimism for what the future can hold. Practicing gratitude is a tool for manifesting because your predictions about the outcome I'm going to shape your execution of it. One of my favorite quotes is “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right”. If you don’t believe that your efforts will affect, how much effort are you going to give the task at hand? It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe that you can achieve something, then no matter how many setbacks you encounter, you are willing to continue to try. I find that the law of averages begins to take effect. Gratitude puts you in a place to receive more. People actually like to help other people. It's in our nature If you are going to help someone and offer your assistance, would you prefer to give it to someone who expects your assistance or the one who is appreciative of what you've done? You are setting the tone for more to come to you. By expressing gratitude to everyone that you encounter along the way, whether it be a small gesture or HUGE favor. The homework for this portion of the challenge is to watch that video and to give yourself 20 things that you have accomplished. This could be things that you have learned, skills that you have improved, or things that you have overcome. If you pride yourself on humility, 20 might seem like a lot. If that is the case, you especially need to do this exercise. Chasing your dreams is not the place of to be timid. Now is the time to step boldly. Step with the confidence that only someone who has done everything you have can. Claim proudly who you are, what you’ve done and what you are capable of. Once you have completed the full list of 20 accomplishments, take the top three (more if you are feeling fancy) accomplishments that make you most proud. Answer these questions about each: Why was this a goal of yours? Why are you proud of this accomplishment? What actions did you take to achieve it? Once you have these answers, I want you to create one affirmation for yourself. I will (insert answer 3) so that I can (insert answer 1) because (insert answer 2). This is an affirmation that you should say every day. It’s helpful to tie it to an action that you do every day. Whether it be when you wake up or shower or get in your car. Create a signal so that you can remember to say it. As I’ve said before, your outlook determines your outcome. As we chase our dreams, it’s good for us to believe that we can achieve them. A lot of people were afraid that this challenge would be too tough for them. I want us all to succeed and if you don’t believe that what we are doing will be fruitful, how can we expect greatness? As I said in the first video, I will hold you accountable however, I'm not here to beat you up. I'm here to encourage you, accompany you, and ultimately hold you help you achieve your goal. I want to share with you the tools that have helped me. In these moments I find myself trying to balance, self-acceptance and self-improvement and gratitude has helped me keep them yoked. I am thankful for all of the skills and experiences that I've had before. Those lessons are going to help me prepare for what is next. Everything I am experiencing now will provide me with new skills and knowledge that are going to help me navigate where I have to go. I am thankful for everything that I have accomplished previously. When we are dissatisfied with our current place where we want to change our current circumstances and to reach for something better, we forget that once upon a time, we strived to be where we are now. Where we are was a goal, we've reached it. We forget that we've done things in the past. that have been challenging. In those times we worked hard at it, we were committed, and we got it done. Whether it's the job you have, whether it's the grade you have, or the school you're attending, or the car you drive, or the house you live in, these were things that you wanted once upon a time, and you have them now. It could be anything, it could be project that you just finished. It could be a class that you took. It could be a skill that you have. Something that at one time you didn't know yet now you can do it with your eyes closed. These are all things that we've accomplished, but because we've mastered it. It's always good to remind ourselves what we have accomplished. Though we're not resting on our laurels, it is good to affirm that, hey, we've had challenges before, and we can persevere and achieve these next challenges. Until Next Time Pilgrims, Pella

First Things First, You Need To Make Your Goals SMART

Welcome Pilgrims, When we are setting our goals, we are going to work backwards. We are going to choose things today, that will get us to where we want to be tomorrow. First, we must establish our vision and mission so that we can distinguish our long-term from our short-term goals. Your vision is what you want to be one day. Your mission is what you do every single day to get there. When a lot of people talk about their goals, they're thinking “I want to have…”, “I want to be…”, “I want to go…” etc. That's nice. That's fine. That's great that you have hope for one day, but this challenge is about today. Today we are going to start taking those steps to get us to realize what our vision is. Your vision is tied to your core values. It is what’s important to you, it’s your purpose. Your mission are the actions that you're going to take that will support you getting to those things and both of those things should align. Your vision is who you want to be, your mission is what you are going to do to become that. Our goals should be the action items that we take to achieve both our vision and mission. For the first step of this challenge, we're going to create SMART goals working backwards from our vision. SMART goals have nothing to do with intelligence and it has everything to do with tenacity. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. I previously had discussed, my vision wall, and the power that is in it. When I was in college and super stressed out my uncle told me to put my hopes and ambitions on a wall. Things that I wanted to have, who I want to be, places I wanted to go and so much more. After some initial resistance, I did as he instructed and did a comprehensive vision wall of all the places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do. About two years later I found myself at several of the places on that wall. It was a surreal experience for me because I found myself at these places without having made it my sole objective to be there (in contrast to me achieving my goal of graduating university which was a very concerted effort). One of the things I admire about myself is my sense of wonder. It was amazing for me to end up in places that I hadn't necessarily made the primary goal. For me to accomplish it as a byproduct of me pursuing other goals of mine was an amazing experience. I hope I continue to be surprised and find that joy in life. I wish that for you as well. With that being said, it was awesome but I would just like to add just a little bit of clarification. Though there is power in that wall and it's great to be faithful and have hope. But, Faith without works is dead. I don't want to downplay all of the active choices made and actions I took. I just want to put that out there were. And on that that lead there couldn't on that path to accomplish all of these things. my uncle. I swear my uncle did a Jedi mind trick or something on me to deliver the message that I needed to hear. In the conversation we were having, he basically told me to create SMART goals without having called them that. At 19/20 years old I wasn’t in a space to receive it direct. So, he led this horse to water. He had told me about manifesting, but with a full course load I didn’t have time to research anything that wasn’t on a final. Oh sensei, so wise was he that he had me executing SMART goals while I was none the wiser. He just told me to do one action at a time. For every action I did, it opened up a whole sea of possibilities. I was able to name the things that I wanted, once I said it out loud and admitted it to myself… I kind of had to follow through. If I didn't take the opportunities when they enrolled for me to get these things but that was on me, solely. I took that abstract feeling, and I made it specific places I had Rome, I had Paris, I had London I had Santorini. I went to three or four of those places. There was an opportunity for me to go to London, but I didn't go. I wanted to go to London, but I told myself ‘No’, because in my mind, London, will always be there. I reasoned I'll always have a reason to go to London. So instead of going, I made an active choice to have this ‘ERASMUS’ experience of going to do these wild and crazy things that you can only do when you're young and without responsibilities. that In hindsight, I can see now I was holding myself back from getting what I really wanted (don’t worry, I’m working on that). As a part of my growth over the last decade, I have learned that naming my goals and being honest with my ambitions is the foothold of everything that I have accomplished. For that reason, we are going to start now. Let’s start: Specific I just have to acknowledge that it’s all about the choices that we make. In being specific with what we want. We are giving a name to our hopes and our aspirations. If you don't name it, then your energy will be scattered. why it's really important to, to name what you want, that , at every crossroad or intersection is either going to take you closer or further away from what you want. Measurable The next step, measurable. some of the things that we want may not be quantifiable, it might be something like I want higher self-esteem, or to feel better about myself or to be happy, or it might be something that's not easily measured. And, like, oh I want a better marriage. Whatever. I'm first going back to specific. What do you want it. And if it's not measurable then we need to break it down a little bit further, until it's as basic as possible. Attainable Your goals that you want it should be a challenge, but they should not be anything too difficult.
I wanted to see the world, but didn't even have a passport. Where did I think I was going without a passport? I don’t know. Were my goals achievable? And me, saying yes to the semester abroad and Innsbruck actually got me a lot closer to those other places. When I accepted the semester abroad and was accepted into the program. I thought I was just going to be in this one city for five months, I did not know. I would have as much free time as I did hashtag I'm trying to move to Europe still, but trying to move to Europe still. I just told myself yes to travel. Because I had the opportunity to leave the country. And no, it wasn't in my first, second or third choice that I was placed. Relevant Relevant, sometimes the ‘R’ can be ‘Relevant’ or ‘Realistic’. Because achievable and realistic are so similar, I prefer to use ‘Relevant’. Now, this goes back to your mission statement and your vision statement. Why do you want these things? Is this something that is important to you. Is this something that you want because society tells you, you should have it or that you feel like at this age is something that you should have accomplished. Is this something that motivates you, because your motivation is going to determine how hard you go for this when you have that one thing in your head that just won't go away. when you when your mind wanders that's what it wanders to,
We have to reevaluate and really look at the action items that we've given ourselves to see, is this something that's going to directly get me to my goal? Timely Timely is the next thing. again, with your vision, that's long term that's abstract, and you may not have a time point in which you want to set or reach these goals because it's just something you want when it happens and I understand like it there's a fine balance between control and allowing things to happen, and letting things unfold naturally. It is a hard line to tell him it's hard to know. Just when to to ease up and when to like, really dig down and like, give it more conviction. And that's something that I've struggled with as well. Having a deadline and time constraints, is going to be very key because you don't want to give yourself too little time to the point where you are discouraged if you don't meet these goals, where it's impossible to meet these goals. Because, two things are going to happen. One, you are going to run yourself ragged to actually get it accomplished. And it may or may not be the quality of which you want it to achieve this goal or two, you're not going to meet the goal. And it's going to be a huge discouragement. Because you did all of this work, and didn't get there, and you may or may not have to start this whole process over again, than if you were to pace yourself. If there is a goal that you want to reach especially if it is a large goal, don't have just one big deadline—have intervals. This is one of the reasons why this is a 12-week program. Honestly, it could be a 12-day program, but I want to pace this properly as we don’t want to rush. These are experiences and tips and techniques that I have learned over the years. For you, this may be a refresher or new material. I don’t want to rush you, but I do want to create a sense of urgency so that we can accomplish our goals. These techniques have always been best received, when I had an open mind. Change is difficult and it doesn't happen overnight. My goal is to introduce a topic, then give you a week to execute it. Some weeks will have tasks, other weeks will have new concepts to consider. You will have a week to contemplate some new perspectives. Each week we will build on the first steps of the program. This entire program to be aligned with SMART goals. and I hope that we can all agree that we are in this together. Be sure to share your progress online, if you are taking part in my program, or doing your own thing, share your progress with the #2020ReFocus so that others can cheer you on. Until Next Time,

I'm Reclaiming My Year. #2020ReFocus

Hello Pilgrims, Some of you make know that every year around my birthday I celebrate my own personal New Year. I use it as an opportunity to reflect on the past year as well as make resolutions for the upcoming year. I ask myself the hard questions. Because 2020 has been a doozy, I have really had to ask myself what I want. The plans I made last year were out the window. I have felt behind the eight-ball all year. At times, I felt very overwhelmed. I want to reclaim my year. And because who doesn't love irony, I've decided that 20/20 would be a great theme. I've employed these techniques over my twenties. They have each been a hero to me at one time or another during my 'learning to adult' years. Just like the Avengers against Thanos, It's time to Assemble all of these tactics to combat all that 2020 is. If you are like me and you want to take back 2020, I'm inviting you to do this with me. It doesn't even have to be your birthday, though, I'm sure that Virgos will find this especially timely. I you want to follow my journey, I will be posting video updates on YouTube every Sunday beginning August 30th,2020. If you want to join the journey and use the techniques with me, sign-up for the mailing list for access to exclusive content and tools that you can personalize for yourself. The challenge begins August 30, 2020 Usually, I only take a week or two to decide what my goals and objectives are for the upcoming year. I'm delving deeper this year for several reasons. 1) It's a landmark birthday (oh my god, does 30 really follow 29?!) 2) 2020 has really shaken my everything I thought I knew. 3) I'm at a crossroads and am planning farther in the future than just the next twelve months. Due to all of these things, I am pacing myself to run this challenge in 12 weeks. The challenge begins August 30, 2020 and should run through November 22nd. Perfect timing. Hopefully by that time, you and I will be firing on all pistons for the real New Year. (No pressure, but pressure). If you want to make a change and you don't want to do it alone... this is perfect for you If you have a friend that wants to make a change and doesn't know where to begin... this is for them (go ahead and send them the link). Buckle up Pilgrims, Pella

I Was Just Trying To Knock A Few Things Off the Bucket List...

Welcome back Pilgrims, So since Coronavirus has put a pause on most of my travel plans, I thought I would take a moment to 'revisit' some of my past journeys. I recently took a poll on my Instagram on which travel story to tell and the consensus was Rome (vs my solo road trip in New Zealand). Previously I've spoken about the magic of the wall, and how I ended up at the Trevi Fountain and now you guys get to hear what else happened during that trip. During my semester abroad in college, I spent a 5-months in Innsbruck, Austria. There were a handful of Americans in my program including 4 other students from my university. UCF put us in contact with each other because we would be placed in the same location. We got in started an email chain to try to help each other with some of the information and we ultimately decided to arrive together. This was my first time out of the country so I was all for it. The more the merrier the less likely you are to get taken. Alex, Amanda, Brittany, Jessica, and I were fast friends. All excited to spend the next few months in Europe. During the semester we each took small jaunts to different locations across Europe. We each had different flights back home, so Amanda (the super planner) coordinated one last hoorah in a tri-city trip to Rome, Athens, and Santorini. The Commute This entire semester, I didn’t want to plan anything. Also, I really trusted these guys. I didn't feel the need to micromanage for the first time in my life. I was down to just follow this crew around. For this trip, I showed up, paid my dues, and went where they told me. I went in with low expectations, lest I be disappointed. Honestly, I doubt there was anything that they would have suggested I wouldn’t have enjoyed. It is Italy and Greece after all. As the semester went, everyone had travel plans. So immediately before the trip, most of the crew were in different locations. Carly (from Nebraska...remember her from Paris?) and I were the only ones actually leaving from Innsbruck. The plan was for Carly and me to catch a train down to Rome from Innsbruck. We were going to meet the others on a connecting train somewhere in the middle of Italy. All roads lead to Rome, right? Now, neither Carly nor I had working smartphones. My phone wasn’t ‘unlocked’ so when we arrived in Innsbruck, I got a simple burner pay-as-you-go phone for basic calls and texts. I used my smartphone when I had wi-fi. As we were traveling in Italy my minutes on the plan didn’t work. No Big Deal right? We are just taking a train. One connection and we’ll be with our crew again, right? You know what they say about making plans…. Carly and I are on the train it’s all fine and well until … they start making announcements on the speaker in Italian. I hate to be ‘that American’, but I hoped that they would do an announcement in English following the Italian. You know they sometimes do at airports and whatnot. No such luck. As the announcements ended, people started a collective murmur. You don’t have to be fluent in a language to know that that’s probably not good. Carly and I tried to find someone that spoke English and that would explain things to us. Someone reluctantly took pity on us. He told us that they found a bomb along the railroad tracks and we were being diverted and that was causing delays. I’m sorry, come again? Now all thoughts went through my head, and I started to panic. Why is this man so calm? He just told me a bomb was found along the tracks. What. The. Fiddlesticks? Someone else explains it's a leftover World War II undetonated bomb that was discovered. Okay, a little less panic than before because at least it’s not a potential terrorist attack. But also… What the fiddlesticks? Everyone was so nonchalant about having to divert the train because of a discovered WWII bomb… As if this is normal. I mean, maybe it is. Next panic, what does the delay mean? We are meeting the rest of the crew on a connecting train. How will we tell the others when neither of us had a phone. I hate to be ‘that Millennial’ but how did our parents do this? You say you are going to meet someone and just hope they turn up when and where you agreed? How do you in a world when you can drop a pin or at least send a text? I digress… So Carly and I are both friggen out. More Italian announcements were made. A conductor came through and was checking tickets. He checked Carly and my tickets. He told us to get off at the next stop. We tried to ask questions but he brushed us off and kept checking tickets. We asked the Italian stranger from before and he confirmed that Carly and I had been told to get off at the next station. After some confusion, anxiety, and doubt Carly and I grabbed our bags and got off the train. There were only a few other people who got off. There were no attendants at this train station. So, there we were. Carly and I in the middle of Italy. We had no idea where when or if this train was coming. After 40 minutes of waiting, I started to get worried. The sun was setting. We were in a (seemingly) deserted train station. We don’t speak Italian! I started to worry that we would be able to meet the others on the connecting train. Meanwhile our traveling companions would have no idea what happened to us. Carly and I went through it. not my best photo, but I promised you guts honesty. After 15 more minutes, the train came. We ultimately find the other travel companions and we take the night train down to Rome. We arrive early, drop our stuff to the Airbnb and then we are off to see the Coliseum. First Day in Rome We are using a little map of Rome. So we are navigating old school. We get a little lost. Remember that we are all Americans so sometimes the metric system gets away from us. As we are roaming around (see what I did there?!) we passed many a nuns and priests. I thought it was hilarious in the ‘where am I’ kind of way. I was in Rome, in sight of the Vatican. After a beat, we stopped a nun and asked directions. This sweet little nun didn’t speak English (which she isn’t obliged to). It’s rude to assume that someone speaks English in a foreign country. Not going to lie—I love it when they do, but I don’t expect it. I’m so thankful for Google to translate (and maps) and my now unlocked-sim accepting-phone. I had left the country for the first time only three months prior. It didn’t take long for me to get spoiled, but I was. I was used to traveling with TFFs, especially locals who speak the language. Okay, off my soapbox. Back to the nun. After this nun told us that she doesn’t speak English, she offered español. Amanda throws up her hands and is ‘Welp, we tried. Let’s go.” Carly and I simultaneously said, “no, wait!” I've always wanted to learn a second language and since this trip, I have really put in the effort to learn Spanish. However, at this point, I only had a very rudimentary understanding of Spanish. Just like in Paris, it is amazing what a brain can recall under duress. The conversation went something like this: Carly and I: Dónde está… The Coliseum? Nun (After a moment of confusion): “Ah… el Coliseo?” Carly and I: “Si!” Nun(pointing): “ blah, blah, alli… blah, blah, blah… derecho. Blah. Blah. Blah. Izquierda.” Carly and I (to the nun): Gracias! Carly and I (to the group): She said something about a right and then left. We followed the nun's general directions and as soon as we got to the end of the block we were on, we say the Coliseum. We were headed in the right direction, there was just a wall obstructing our vision. (I feel there is a deeper lesson there…). "Now that the Coliseum was in sight, it hit me. I’m in Rome." Did I mention that Rome was magical? Because it is. The weather was wonderful. Being there was such a surreal experience. Now that the Coliseum was in sight, it hit me. I’m in Rome. All of the lectures from my history courses hit me. All the movie scenes based on Roman culture hit me. Reading Julius Caesar in English class hit me. (It’s a shame what they did to my boy Julius). When we got the tickets to the Coliseum, I found out that the tickets granted access to the Roman forum as well. Remember what I said about not having expectations? Everything is a wonderful surprise. We took in the amazingness that is the Coliseum. We go to the Coliseum and I am on cloud nine. Okay. Because he learned about these things in history books. That's cool so far off place, but then for me to be there, it was just I felt cool. I felt cooler than I probably am. Look at this marvel, something that was built in 8 AD. We then went to the Victor Emmanuel II Monument (Altare della Patria). It’s down the street from the Coliseum. Inside were exhibits showing the garb of Italian military over the ages. In the lower levels I saw these amazing light fixtures and took two of my favorite travel photos. I followed the crew around Rome. Amanda’s itinerary dictated that the next stop would be the Trevi Fountain. I asked what that was (remember: no wi-fi or data). Brittany offered that it’s the fountain from the Lizzie McGuire movie. Ohhh… Gotcha. I was on this whole c’est la vie-free-bird tip. I worked hard all throughout college. Even more in preparation for this semester abroad…This was my senior year, I wanted to enjoy this. I found with trying to control things only bred disappointment. I knew that I would enjoy whatever because I was in friggin’ Rome! I genuinely trusted the people I was with. I knew they would not lead me astray. Alex and Amanda just kept talking about the Trevi Fountain. So determined were they to get us there. I don’t get the hype but I’m down for the adventure. I'm here, just taking in life. And we get a little lost …again. We were back to asking people oh, where's the Trevi Fountain? Eventually, I look right and then there's the Trevi Fountain which was a whole full-circle moment because the Trevi fountain was on my vision wall (there's power in the wall) For me to be here in this place less than two years after I put on my wall was surreal in the best of ways. One thing I never considered was the pollution in Rome. I hadn’t realized how bad it was because the weather was perfect. I didn't see any smog. By the evening I felt I’d been hit by a bus. I was congested, had a headache and felt lethargic. Don’t you hate getting sick on vacation? I hate it. My ears popped and remained so for days after leaving Rome. Before then, I’d never been to a city with such high pollution. That was a quick hard lesson to learn. Day 2 The great thing about the Coliseum admission is that the ticket is valid for 24 hours and gives you access to The Roman Forum as well. Some people in our group who had been to Rome before and didn’t want to go to the Forum. Um, what!? How are you going to skip the place where Mark Antony’s famous funeral oration?! I, however, was not going to let this opportunity pass. (Reason number 3 to have a TFF). And the plan was in the morning, get up 7 am to be able to go to the Colosseum, wake up, go there for three hours and then start the rest of the itinerary. I set off and search for the Coliseum. I'm following this little map, get lost…again. I get lost again and at seven o'clock in the morning, there weren't as many people that I could stop and ask for directions. I someone who's walking their dog. Dog owners aren’t kidnappers, right? Unfortunately for me, they didn't even know Spanish. On the flipside, I had learned ‘Il colesseo’. I said that with a hopeful glint of hope in my face, and they pointed me in the general direction. I was headed in the wrong direction (of course I was). With my corrected course, I navigated my way through the early morning streets in Rome I found the Colosseum and on my way there also, I just happened to find, these ruins that were just in between two different apartment complexes in a random neighborhood and that had a fence in front of it. I was amazed. Rome just has ruins is in the middle of the city… and it’s not even a tourist attraction. That's wild. Eventually, I found the Forum. I thought it was really cool that there was hardly anybody there at seven o'clock and I'm a morning person. I was just in hog heaven. I was a daredevil where I set my camera on auto timer. Got a couple of really nice photos from that. Then later that day went to go find meet up with some of our friends who were also in Rome from Innsbruck, and we met up with them for what could be the last time that we saw them before the semester was over. We went to the Vatican where one of those guys flag us down was just, hey, if you pay money, we'll give you a special tour. And it’s an extra $50 plus admission for the Vatican. The Vatican had a line zigzag wrapped around the building and then some. If I remember correctly, it was a four-hour wait to get into the Vatican. So, we went to follow this man to his tour office to buy the ticket. And he looked a moment I thought I was going to get ‘taken’ like my grandmother put that fear in my head. It was low-key a worry of mine the entire time. As we followed this man from the Vatican down a little backroad. I thought, 'Oh my Jesus, don't let this be it.' As you probably guessed... I survived. He took us to the office we buy the ticket. We skip all of those poor souls that were. I'm, but the crazy thing is there wasn't just a special door that we had to go through. It was him literally leading us, through an under ropes and through the throngs of people who had been waiting for hours. And as you see these young college kids skip the line, and people waited for hours. I feel like some of those people tripped me on purpose. But you know what, it’s cool. I would have been upset too. The tour lasted about an hour. It led us through the Vatican. As someone who had only been in a few Catholic churches before this, the opulence of the Vatican was shocking. The juxtaposition of the homeless people just a few meters from the Vatican doors and the gold-plated statues was jarring. Now, I am not Catholic. So maybe some of this was lost on me. Even though I wasn’t moved especially, I can say that I have done it. I could appreciate those around me having their profound moments. That was a nice experience. Sadly, I wasn’t aware that you can’t take pictures inside the Sistine Chapel. I didn’t want to chance an international incident by sneaking one… So no pics but I promise I was there. One benefit was I was forced to be present in that moment. I didn’t have to take myself out of the moment to stage a picture. The rest of the day was spent roaming around (whoops, I did it again). We ate gelato and Pizza and walked the cobbled paths. In the evening we went to the Pantheon again and the Spanish steps. The pollution was hitting me so by the end of the day I was lagging. I skipped the ascension of the Spanish steps and waited at the bottom for the rest of the crew to return. As I was looking at my photos from the day on my camera, a flower vendor approached and slid a rose in my hand. Conversation: Me: No, thank you. (I’d already known how to avoid street vendors). Vendor: It’s for you. A gift. Me: Is it free? Vendor: No… Me (handing the flower back): No, thank you. Vendor refuses to take it back. Amanda (comes back snatches the rose from me hands it back to him) :“She doesn’t want it” We as a group leave and the flower vendor kind of follows us agitatedly for a short distance. He starts speaking another language. I’m not sure what language, but I am sure he was cursing us out. Shortly after we made our way back to the Airbnb and we left for Athens the next day. All in all I enjoyed my trip to Rome. We were only there for less than three days, but it was such a great experience. Ever since I left, I’ve been waiting to return. I hope you enjoyed my story about Rome. Let me know what was your favorite part 😊 Until Next Time, Pella

Cook Island Dancing... It’s Not As Easy As You Might Think

Welcome Pilgrims, Since 2020 has put a halt to my travels for the foreseeable future, I thought that it would be a good time to revisit (see what I did there) some of my previous pilgrimages. During my time in New Zealand, I had the opportunity to take a Cook Island dance classes. When I travel I like to experience things that are unique to the culture that I'm visiting. That includes learning about the indigenous people and the history of the destination. While in New Zealand most of my experience with indigenous culture was that of the Maori, who are the indigenous people of New Zealand. The Cook Islands is a Polynesian nation located in the South Pacific. It has a free association with New Zealand. New Zealand handles its defense and diplomatic affairs and provides currency, and Cook Islanders are considered New Zealand citizens. New Zealand handles its defense and diplomatic affairs and provides currency, and Cook Islanders are considered New Zealand citizens. How did I find the class? One day, while commuting home, I made conversation with a colleague headed in the same direction. She mentioned that she was going to a class for Cook Island dancing. She suggested that I go. The hall where the dance class was held was in my neighborhood, so in the spirit of adventure, I ran home to grab work out gear. It’s so easy to say no to new experiences or things. I’m so glad that I took the chance as the class was one of my favorite experiences from New Zealand. I'm so glad that I took that chance one random afternoon, the Cook Islands are a Pacific nation in the Polynesia region. It is an independent nation however it does have free association with New Zealand. New Zealand and provides the defense for the nation. New Zealand also advocates on Cook Islands’ behalf regarding foreign affairs. Cook Islands does have it’s own currency but the New Zealand dollar is also accepted. Cook islanders do have New Zealand citizenship, but not all Zealanders are Cook Islanders. The dance classes were from Inano Dance. And it was taught by to home. The style of dances, were called Ura Kuki Airani. There were drummers there. They were Pacific Islander men who were trained in the tradition of drumming. We danced in the pāreu, which is a sarong type covering to be worn low in the hips. The instructor, Te Hau told us the lower the better but where she wanted the placement, I was in jeopardy of having ‘Plumber back’. So I placed it just a smidge higher than instructed. Watching this video back I regret that choice because you can definitely see the difference from wearing it low on the hip versus wearing it high, where it felt comfortable. Now there was an instance where they brought more elaborate skirts and the tradition of dressing up. The hula skirt is called the Kiri'au skirt. The hip belt is called a titi. The position is to keep it as so low is to accentuate the movements of the dances. The class that I was taking it was just learning the dance moves. For those who are more advanced, there was a class with actual choreography. In that class you can learn the dances from Cook Islands and Tahiti. I'm not averse to dancing. Despite what my family has to say— I have rhythm (I swear I do), but you know, when people jump for joy and do a little jig because they're happy? My first inclination isn't to dance. Being from South Florida, I’m used to hip focus movements and dances so I thought I knew what to expect. You know what they say about assuming… The methods of Polynesian dancing was different. I had to let go of what I knew about dancing and really listen to the instructor about how to do this style of dancing. Prior to taking this dance class, my idea of Polynesian dancing was almost exclusively the hula from Hawaii, which is very slow, rhythmic and almost calm and I knew that it had meaning even though I didn't know what that meaning was. So we made that to this class. I was not ready. There was nothing slow about it. It was very high paced, fast-paced, high-intensity dance classes, and this was just learning the moves. How do I explain… Disclaimer: I say ’South Florida Dancing’ as all-encompassing because South Florida is so multicultural I’ve been exposed to so many styles of dance—there’s bachata, bopping and so much more. more. The style of dancing I’m used to puts a lot of emphasis on the balls of your feet that’s how you will move. In listening to the instructor, in order to do the move properly, my feet needed to be planted and the emphasis was put on the heel of the foot. Another difference is when moving your hips, the direction in which you are swinging them is different as well. All hip-swinging is not made equal. I can best explain this by saying if you wanted to dance South Florida/hip-hop style, you would circle your hips as if to create an invisible circle on the wall behind you. With the Polynesian style dancing, it was better to have a planted foot, the focus was putting the pressure on the heels of the foot. And the circle you were drawing with your hips was on the floor instead of the wall behind you. Though the premise is the same, it’s a very different movement. All hip-swinging is not made equal. I was learning the Ura Kuki Airani style of Polynesian dancing. I have done dance exercise classes before. It's very good cardio and actually toning as well, because it takes a lot of strength in your muscles to do some of the movements, especially this one move called 'crawling', which the Te Hau loved. But, um, the way my knees are set up… give me a few months then come back to me. I really admired the camaraderie in the class. Everyone was so supportive of each other and it felt like such a safe space. Whether you were the strongest dancer or not, you were still welcome because at the end of the day, like we're all here to share a common interest. We were all able to participate at different levels. The youngest in the class was about 14, and I’m not sure who the oldest was (it’s never polite to ask) but I will say that even the instructor's mom was even an active participant. I will say it is a full-body workout. It activates your leg muscles and even your core muscles are necessary. Posture is a big part of the dancing. As you get into some of the more advanced movements your arms, and our and your shoulders are definitely worked out as well. So if you're looking for a full-body workout that is entertaining, I highly encourage you to check out this Cook Island/ Tahitian dancing. It’s a very interactive way to learn about the cultural component as well. In Cook Island Culture the dances are done by men and women. There are even several styles of dancing. In our class, however, it was only women so I would be interested in learning more about how men participate. I know that some men are trained on the drums. Our class actually had live drummers so that was also especially cool. In addition to the drummers, the instructor also had dance mixes which had quite a few Latin songs. Which was very reminiscent of Florida. Being familiar with the music, was helpful for me to keep to the beat, but I definitely had to focus to make sure that I wasn't slipping into the Floridian style of dancing. With the progression of Western culture and globalization, there is literally a whole world to discover. I am eager to continue to explore different indigenous cultures as I continue to travel and learn different histories from those who are so deeply connected to it. One of the reasons I love to travel is I have the opportunity to learn firsthand how different cultures look, live and believe. I highly encourage you to research on your own, and to explore these concepts and these different cultures. Even within the women's dances there are different types of dancers that you do those two dances of action. There's the dances to tell stories. There's even dances to seduce. The dancing that we did in my class never seemed sexualized despite all the hip movement. It was just dancing. I only took the class for about a month before my visa expired and I had to leave for Australia, so I'm definitely not an expert on anything Pacific Islander. There is so much more that I have to learn. There are dances that the men do, I haven’t yet had any Cook Islander cuisine… It’s a lot. I just hope that my description has piqued your interest in Polynesian cultures. Until Next Time, Pella

Why Mexican Weddings Might be my Favorite Kind

Hello Pilgrims, Since 2020 has put a halt to my travels, I thought now would be the optimal time to revisit some of my favorite trips of adventures past. I met Magda and her sister Marcela in during my first international trip to Austria. As with most of the friends I made during that time, we have kept in touch since then. When we did our catch-up calls, we would often say “We need to visit each other”. The opportunity arose when Magda’s wonderful boyfriend Alejandro became her wonderful fiancé Alejandro. She invited me to come to Mexico to witness him become her wonderful husband Alejandro. Since I was flying in from out of the country, I flew in a week before the wedding to hang out with Magda and Marcela. They showed me around Monterrey in the days leading up to the wedding. One night, while hanging out with Marcela and Magda’s family we all had a secret. That night was the night of Alejandro’s bachelor party. In Mexican tradition, the gentleman comes to serenade his betrothed with —wait for it… a mariachi band! I was so excited. I charged my camera and tried to play it cool as not to tip Magda off that Alejandro was coming while simultaneously trying to keep her downstairs. Long story short -> we failed. BUT, it was still wonderful to watch. I asked the mariachis if I could take a photo with them because I’d never seen authentic mariachis before. The mariachis actually asked to take a photo with me—on their phones— because the hadn’t met a Black American before. I thought it was hilarious. Black people go to Mexico all the time…but, Monterrey is a business center and isn’t really known for tourism, so I guess it makes sense. A few days later was the actual wedding. The ceremony began at 7 in the evening. Mexico is a very hot place. Traditionally (before air conditioning), weddings were held in the evenings when the weather is typically cooler. This was my first time at a Catholic mass...and my first wedding in Spanish. I am very familiar with church, so it was very interesting to hear the same prayers and phrases I had grown up within another language. “El Padre, El hijo, y el espiritu santo” is “The father, the son, and the holy ghost/spirit”. At this point, my Spanish was rusty so when the priest really got into his sermon I only picked up random words like ‘amor’ and ‘familia’. Thankfully, Magda’s aunt, Cecilia (with whom I stayed during the wedding festivities) narrated the entire thing for me. At one-point, Magda and her groom were “lassoed” together with a beautiful silver chain. Cecilia explained to me the tradition began when the Spanish missionaries came to convert the indigenous people of Mexico. Historically, monogamy and marriage were not concepts that were practiced by the indigenous people and there was a language barrier to overcome. To explain, the missionaries literally tied together the bride and groom. Once a couple is engaged, they must announce their engagement in the church for at least a year. This gives the community time to “speak now or forever hold their peace” long before the day of the wedding. I think that this is a practice that should be adopted in America. (Day time talk show hosts, might be out of jobs… but it’s for the greater good!) I was surprised to find out that the emphasis wasn’t so much on the ceremony but the reception. The Reception had twice as many people as the wedding. The lovely sit-down dinner started around 9pm. Everyone looked red-carpet ready. A string quartet played classical renditions of romantic ballads (Swoon), there was white-glove service and every course of the four-course dinner was beautifully plated. After dinner a DJ took over music duties, strobe lights replaced the warm up-lighting and the party really began. Magda’s wedding was the first wedding that I went to where they brought out the rave toys during the reception. There were flip flops for the ladies to switch into, they had light-up toys, oversized sunglasses… and more favors than I can count. I’m not saying that In addition to witnessing one of the loveliest couples getting married, I learned to trust your host. Magda had told me beforehand that it is custom to have a date to the wedding and she encouraged me to bring a guest. If I did, we would just sort out different accommodation for me and him because her family is still very traditional. Not only was I going to be in Monterrey for the entire week before the wedding, but I also had other plans after the wedding (more on that later). Strategically, it was easier to solo, a standard of American weddings is the singles table… I’m a pretty gregarious person and I just expected to mingle with the other singles. I found out the hard way that there were no other singles. 100+ couples and me. Even if it is your cousin, you bring an escort. Magda was such a good hostess, she put me with her friends who chaperoned me for the night. They talked to me during dinner and we ended up doing a dance circle. At some point, a handsome stranger and I danced. ‘Yay’ I thought ‘I knew I’d find someone”. After a song or two his beautiful date came, greeted me with a kiss on the cheek, and swooped him away. It was the smoothest, politest ‘check’ that I have ever received. Apparently, dancing partners are not to be shared. Not wanting to cause an international incident, I retired my dance card and socialized during the reception instead. So, word to the wise… if you are going to a Mexican wedding— bring a date. Bonus micro-story -The best kind of problems: As mentioned before, I had plans after Magda’s wedding. A group of friends from college and I had a girl’s trip planned for Costa Rica. As fate would have it, the dates of the week in Monterrey and the girl’s trip slightly overlapped. I couldn’t imagine missing either trip, so I missed the first day of the girl’s trip and leave 7 in the morning after the wedding from Mexico and fly to Costa Rica. Simple Miscalculation: When I booked everything, I was planning as it, based on the previous weddings I had attended: Afternoon wedding about 2pm, evening reception around 5pm. I heard “there ain’t no party like a Mexican party, 'cause a Mexican party don’t stop” so I planned to stay and party until about midnight and leave early the next morning. When I planned all this, I was unaware that Mexican weddings take place in the evening. Despite public perception I’m not a party animal, so ‘don’t stop’ to me translated to 2 a.m.-ish. The DJ didn’t come out until closer to 10 pm. After dinner even more people filled the reception. They should really amend that phrase: there ain’t no party like a Mexican party, 'cause a Mexican party don’t stop…and it also doesn’t start until really really late at night. My self-imposed midnight curfew came and went. It was just getting fun at midnight. I thought ‘I’ll leave at 12:30, 1:00am, 1:20am, 1:45am 2:00am’. That’s the absolute latest that I can stay. I have to be adventure-ready when I land in Costa Rica tomorrow in 9 hours. My other TFFs were already in San José and were waiting for me to arrive. I was gutted to have to leave just as the party got started. I went back to Cecilia’s place, got a quick hour power nap in, I caught a ride share to the airport, another quick power nap on the plan and I was off next leg of the trip. So, my advice to you pilgrims: If you get the opportunity to go to Mexican wedding. Definitely go, but maybe don't plan a 10 am flight the day after... Until Next Time, -Pella

Why the Children Aren’t Our Future.

No offense to Whitney Houston, but I don’t agree with the line from her classic song. We've all heard the Greatest Love of all at almost every childhood rite of passage. It's a great message. I definitely think we should show them their inner beauty and yada yada yada, but I think the line " the children are our future' is a little problematic. Here’s why: Besides the fact that with climate change there may not be much of a future for the younger generation, I think that we do the youth a disservice by telling them their power lies in the future. My twenties are coming to a close and I never had that Eureka moment, where I felt like an adult. I went through the motions. Celebrated the big birthdays (18, 21, 25). I hit the major milestones (graduated college, got my own car, started a career, and lived on my own). I felt like a poser. I found myself in adult situations wondering who the heck let me ‘adult’. I’ve also found myself at play and wondering if I was too old to be doing certain things (dance-offs in my living room). I have heard a lot of crap flung at my generation from older generations. This is a slander on the ‘new guy’ nothing new… The “Greatest Generation” gave birth to the Baby Boomers who were considered hippies for their opposition to war and fight against civil injustice. Then came Gen-X. The hairspray and Jheri curls of the 80s and the high tops of the 90s were ill-received from the 'mall rats'. Now, Millennials are being condemned for our love of avocado toast. Instead of buying homes and building families, we just want our hipster coffee shops and house plants for our studio apartments (please read the sarcasm). I think that we do the youth a disservice by telling them their power lies in the future. Generally, it is accepted that Millennials are those born between the years 1981-1991 (sometimes it’s even inclusive of those born through to 1996). It always perplexed me any time Millennials would be used as a scapegoat or generalized for being lazy or entitled. Millennials include Serena Williams, Beyoncé, Andy Roddick, Mark Zuckerberg, Lebron James ( and almost Jacinda Ardern). Millennials have reshaped the landscape of society. I don’t think we have earned the negative reputation that has been pushed upon us. But now, society has a new can to kick: Gen Z. Generation Z is already being critiqued and condemned for how they choose to live their lives. Which brings me to my next point: Letting the children lead the way. I say we let the best person for the job do it. No matter age, creed, or race. But Letting them lead the way after we have led them astray is bit toxic, don't you think? There is no onus on the adults in the room to do the right thing. They just get to check out. The sentiment a lot of Millennials and Zoomers feel is now we have to fix problems that we didn’t create. I mean, we gotta live on this planet too, so of course, we will- but change shouldn’t just come from ‘the children’. We all need to be invested in the solution. I think it’s time to break the cycle of judging young people. It’s important to remember that they are just a reflection of the environment in which they grow. An environment in which we provided for them. Much like children's behavior are a reflection of their home environment. If your toddler has a nasty habit of cursing like a full grown sailor, you might want to reflect on how they learned the words. I find it ironic that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are often lauded for changing the world. Both are considered geniuses in their own right, yet we condemn the youth that have benefited from their efforts. I have heard a fair share of criticism for my generation’s ‘over-sensitivity'. We've often been slandered as ‘snowflakes’. You know where snowflakes aren’t a problem? The poles, because they're melting. Millennials and Zoomers are vilified for having concern for the environment. It’s always perplexed me… Polar bears are drowning! How can you not care about polar bears drowning? The Amazon was on fire for a month before I’d heard anything about it. The coral reefs are dying out because water temperatures are rising. How can you not care? It’s like the older generation was never educated on Environmental Science or something. Nature is so delicate that the absence of a single species can disrupt entire ecosystems. Excuse me one moment while I go hyperventilate in the closet. Okay, I’m back. It’s just talking about the state of the world causes me mild anxiety. The state of the world is far from where it needs to be. There are so many states of emergency, it’s hard to know which ones to prioritize. Gen Z is the most informed generation ever. While I have had access to the internet since I was old enough to access it responsibly, Gen Z literally will have access to it before they have gained all of their motor skills. I encourage everyone (especially Zoomers) to Question everything! Then seek your own answers. Your perspective matters. I implore you to be discerning between fact, fiction, and opinion. I can tell from the way so many young Millennials and Zoomers are breaking from societal norms and redefining who they are. Revolutions have always been powered by the youth. And now in the age of technology, the youth can rally and organize at an unprecedented rate. One of my favorite lines comes from the 1861 poem by Walt Whitman Pioneers! O Pioneers! : The premise of the youth being the bringers of change is a tale as old as time. So to all of the GenZers reading this, I want to say commend your activity and involvement. We love to ask children, “what do you want to be when you grow up”, yet how often do we question what they want to be in that moment? Generation Z is so stellar. Standouts include Malala Yousafzai, Yara Shahidi, Vanessa Nakate, Greta Thunberg, and so forth. We shouldn’t consider these standouts to be outliers. They and so many others are putting in the work now because unfortunately, we haven’t secured them a future. Gen Z is showing up en masse marching for their lives, Black lives, women, Dreamers, LGBT+, and Mother Nature. The world that I inherited as an adult is less than ideal. I was in middle school when 9/11 happened. America has been at war for more than half of my life and it’s barely a point of discussion anymore. I started university the year Obama was elected. I graduated from university during the middle of the Great Recession. Then I was told to catch up. I don’t want to do that to the next generation. I don’t want them to have to go through the things that I went through. Some progress should have been made between them and us right? I will be thirty this year (God, help me). Columbine happened when I was 8 years old. Why haven’t we had gun reform to make sure these children are safe in a place that we legally require them to be? Why isn’t our economy set up to give them a fair chance to establish themselves in adulthood? Why do they have to fight for freedoms that are innately theirs? As a millennial, I do not want to be a gatekeeper to change. I want to usher these young people in. They are bringing a fresh perspective. Just like we Millennials do now. Just like Gen Xers did before us. We don’t have time for them to wait, we are a point break. We need all hands on deck. As a millennial, I do not want to be a gatekeeper to change. Wisdom comes from experience, not from age. Typically the older you are the more experience you’ve had, but don’t let them discount your youth. Don't let them deny what you bring to the table. You won’t always be right. You won’t always have all the answers, but (spoiler alert) no one will. I look forward to seeing the growing engagement of the Zoomers as they all come into their own. The future is bright because the light is coming from not only from behind us, but beside us. Until Next Time, Pella PS. (Sidenote: The poem Pioneers! O Pioneers! is slightly problematic as the main purpose was to encourage the Westward expansion of the United States of America under the premise of Manifest Destiny, but if you can get past that and the casual mention of slavery, the sentiment is universal.)

Pella is summoned for Jury Duty

Hello Pilgrims, Welcome back. 2020 did not come to play with us. Americans have been really flexing on the right to assembly and I commend everyone for fulfilling their patriotic duty to fight for justice. I have always been a proponent of voting which is huge. I’m an advocate of protests. Now I come to you to talk about an often-overlooked area of influence: Jury duty. I think jury duty is portrayed in one of two ways. An inconvenient burden that people try to get out of and 2. A plot device for movies and television to move the narrative along. I grew up on crime dramas everything from Law & Order to Psyche. There isn’t nearly as much emphasis put on the jury as is the police officers, attorneys, and judges. Which looking back, I find crazy because ultimately the verdict is given by the jurors. Now, based on the premise of the TV shows, I can understand why. The jurors wouldn’t be recurring characters so let’s just get these nameless faceless people to use as devices to move the story along. The only other portrayals I saw of jury duty was the beloved character I watched weekly complaining that he had jury duty and subsequently had a misadventure or tried to get out of it. Or when the guilty defendant uses threats and bribery to sway the jurors. Needless to say, I didn’t have an enthusiastic reaction to jury duty when I was a teenager being summoned. I had an awesome Comprehensive Law teacher in high school, so in theory, I knew the importance of jury duty. However, as a new adult, I wasn’t quite ready to participate in the system, just yet. I feel like from the moment I turned 18 I started to receive jury summons every few months from my hometown. At the time I was away at college more than 50 miles from home, so I didn’t answer the summons. Disclaimer: This is not legal advice. You should definitely research the rules of your local courts. Avoiding Jury duty is most definitely punishable by law. I don’t know if it’s because I wasn’t showing up that they put me back to the top of the list or if my hometown just had so many criminal court cases that they ran through the list just that quickly. I am from Florida, so it’s a 50/50 chance on either of those things. First time I showed up for Jury Duty One time when I was 20 years old, I was called for jury duty. This time I was home for the summer. I wish I could say that I showed up ready to be a juror. Nope, I was a 20-year-old college student who was hoping that I didn’t get chosen because the per diem that they give you for being selected on a jury was less than I made at my summer job as a camp counselor and I was working to pay for college and couldn’t afford to be stuck indefinitely on a court case. I knew how big of a responsibility it was, so I showed not knowing how this would go. The courthouse was packed with potential jurors. I ended up seeing someone I knew from high school. He and I never hung out but we had mutual friends. He and I were jury wait room companions until he was called. A while later I was called to line up for my potential case. We lined up with our identification numbers and sat in the court chairs. As someone who grew up watching court dramas, walking into the courtroom carried a sense of déjà vu. It was surreal and the tone was somber. The judge was at the front of the room facing us in his black robs. The bailiffs and court reporter were in their anticipated spots too. The attorneys sat at opposing tables. Beside one of the attorneys was a young black man in a button-up shirt and handcuffs. The gravity of it all weighed heavily. The judge then listed the charges. I don’t remember explicitly which charges they were, but I know that the defendant was accused of murdering another young man the year before. The story sounded familiar to me at the time, something that may have been covered briefly in the news then forgotten by the next news cycle. I remember being surprised that the court case had taken so long to be tried. It’s not how it’s portrayed on TV where it seems like the police find the guy immediately and the ‘quick and speedy trial’ is followed almost immediately after. I know that my law professors had mentioned that court cases take much longer than is depicted on television. The reality of how long a court case takes hit me in that moment. Looking back at it now, I’m saddened. I understand that the defendant can waive that right in order to give his attorneys more time to prepare, but in this young man’s case he had been in a county jail for a year already and his guilt had yet to be determined. The family of the victim who was waiting for justice had been left in limbo for a year awaiting court. I can’t imagine. I would never wish either of those plights on anyone. At this point, the weight of the situation really set in. I started to second guess whether or not I could handle the severity of the situation. I was scared to be chosen for the jury. The judge started down the line asking if there were any reasons that, we, the potential jurors would be biased. I was hoping my youth would be a good reason to excuse me. A few people ahead of me was a woman who answered the judge that she was ‘only 18’ (two years younger than me). The judge responded that she is an adult now, “welcome to adulthood”. When it was my turn my answer was along the lines of “Maybe. I’ve known people on both sides of gun violence.” I don’t know if they didn’t like my answer, or if they saw the panic in my eyes— but ultimately, I wasn’t chosen for jury duty. I felt conflicted as I left. I was relieved that I didn’t have to make the tough decision, but I always felt guilty for not being brave enough to want to be a juror. I think it is a very important part of every American's civil duties to do jury duty. I can’t imagine. I would never wish either of those plights on anyone. Okay, let's try this again: My next summons A few years later I moved to Arizona. I swear within the first year of me being there, I was selected for jury duty. At this point, I was 25. I graduated college; I had my own apartment… I had little life experience under me, I felt like an adult. There had also been some high-profile cases that didn’t have the desired outcomes. I remember being so disappointed in the verdict, thinking I wouldn’t have made that decision. Even vilifying the jurors, but they showed up. How can I be mad at a process that I was hoping to avoid? We don’t get to choose which cases to care about. Each case is important to the parties involved. Because I was so indignant about the problem of perceived injustice, I tasked myself to be a part of the solution. This time, when I was summoned, I went in with every intention to fulfill my civic duty of being on a jury. I arrived at the courthouse and was sent to a waiting room. The seats were comfortable, the room was well lit, they had movies playing while we waited. It was a completely different experience from my first time. Eventually, they called my name to go with some other jurors. We went into this hallway and were further split into different groups to head to different courtrooms. We were put into single file lines and given numbers to identify ourselves. We were told not to speak when we got in the courtroom, and how to file the pews in the court. I entered this courtroom and it was similar to the Florida experience. The judge, attorneys, and defendant were in their usual spots. The defendant was on trial for driving under the influence and destruction of property. The brief facts of the case were while allegedly on drugs he crashed a car into a building. No fatalities or injuries. ‘Okay, cool’ I thought. This was a nice and easy case to ease into. You know, not a murder case. The judge gave a speech about the importance of why we were all called here. She told us how jury duty a major responsibility and an important part of the judicial system is. I was right there with her; she was preaching to the choir. I was ‘SpongeBob ready’ to perform my patriotic duty. The judge began performing so perfunctory checks. There were a few dozen potential jurors. We had filed in and every ‘seventh’ or so juror would start a new pew. We were asked to give the closest major intersection near our homes and also list our occupation. ‘Closest’ and ‘Major’ are relative terms so I didn’t say the first intersection, but I did tell them the next closest intersection which was one of the biggest in my area. I mean, it was still in my zip code. Now, at this point, I was living alone in Arizona and my closest family and friends were in Florida. Some 2,300 miles (3,700 km) away. I don’t make it a habit of telling a room full of strangers where I live, no need to start then. We were being identified by our numbers to protect our anonymity. After going through everyone’s location and occupation, the judge said that she was going to check with the first person and the last person on each row. This was done to ensure that everyone was sitting in the same order as reflected in her records. Don’t you know, I was the first person on the second row? Okay. Not as anonymous as I had hoped but we are just verifying our order number and last name. Phoenix is a large metro area… no worries. She gets to me and says “Oh, that's such a beautiful first name, how do you say that?” then she proceeds to say my full name. First and last with perfect pronunciation. Now, my name is not easy to read or say. I have had to instruct everyone I’ve ever met in my entire life on the correct way to say it. But don’t you know that this judge pronounces it perfectly on the first try? What are the odds? I felt so exposed. The entire courtroom knew my first and last name, occupation, employer, and relative home location. I think the judge realized her gaff right away. The rest of the jury process was uneventful. Ultimately, I wasn’t chosen as a juror. This time, I didn’t have that residual guilt of not being a juror. I went in earnest, and I was ready to serve had I been chosen. That was the last summons I received. Shortly after I left Phoenix, I started living abroad. Why jury duty matters The recent events and protests in America brought my jury summons experiences to the forefront of my memory. I wanted to share my experience so that those who are hesitant or reluctant to perform jury duty. I know that it isn’t talked about as much as voting in regard to shaping society, but I think it is just as important. Juries provide community standards and expectations in accordance with the law. The outcome of court cases shouldn’t solely rely on judges and lawyers. Officers of the court are not representative of the everyday people of the United States. They exist is a microcosm of legality that may skew their views on the court cases. A jury consisting of community members provides the perspective of the average citizen in regard to interaction with the law. A juror should be a reflection of the community in which they serve. They answer the question: What would anyone else do in that circumstance? Everyone on the jury will not share identical backgrounds, beliefs, or experiences but between them, they will create a consensus as to how the law applies to this situation. Jury duty also makes the community aware of the judicial process around them. Every innocent or guilty verdict reinforces societal norms. Once a court decision is made, the case can now be used as precedent in future court cases. A famous landmark case includes Miranda v Arizona. You know in legal dramas when an officer makes an arrest and they say “You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney…” The police didn’t start saying that from the kindness of their hearts. There was a Supreme Court decision that ruled that police must inform suspects of their right to remain silent (as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment). It was decided that the average person when in the custody of the police may not know the allowances and confines of the law. Though Miranda v. Arizona (1966) was ultimately a Supreme Court decision, it has been used as precedent in deciding subsequent court cases. This court decision ultimately changed the way that the entire country’s police departments operate. Every case isn’t going to end in the Supreme Court, but before it can go through the appeals process. And before it can go to the appeals process it has to first be tried in the lower courts. Even if the court case doesn’t escalate to the Supreme Court, it matters. Someone’s liberty and life are on the line with every court decision. Jury duty is yet another opportunity for voices to be heard and justice to be served. So, while I tried to find the levity in my experiences with Jury summons, I don’t want to downplay how crucial it is. We are on the precipice of change; I hope that we can all reach the summit together. Until Next Time, Pella

Book review Giovanni's Room.

What I knew of James Baldwin was what the general public knew about him: acclaimed writer, civil rights activist, revolutionary. You know, surface-level stuff. I have a friend who is obsessed with James Baldwin. I wanted to be able to discuss Baldwin (and actually know what I'm talking about) I picked up a copy of Giovanni's room. Other than the brief description on the back cover, I had no idea what I was getting in to. Man, can I say: I get it. I get why Baldwin is a literary giant. Okay- I get why, maybe this book, in particular, isn't included in high school curriculum, but man this man should be required reading. This book should be as well. We aren't doing any favors to our youth by not exploring the concepts of this masterpiece. I say this as someone who had to read the great Gatsby twice for school (once in middle school and again in high school). I am slowly but surely making my way through Baldwin's catalog. Giovanni's Room is set in 1950's Paris. We follow David, a young American man whose girlfriend has left for Spain to contemplate marriage. Alone in Paris, David begins an affair with an Italian man, Giovanni. In Flash forwards, we find out that Giovanni will be executed the next morning. As a reader who didn't know what was going to happen next, I was a little annoyed when we were taken away from the present action, but the jumps in the timeline did create an urgency within me to know how we get from where we are at the beginning of the novel to the first flashback. There are a dozen genres that this book can fit into. My favorite is the sub-genre of the book as realist fiction. The book is a short read, though it isn't light. The themes and concepts of this book will have you thinking long after you have finished reading.Even if you haven't been in the same particular situations as David, the protagonist, you are able to empathize with the plight. The struggle to reconcile meeting society's expectation and fulfilling one's own desire. Had I intended to go through so many emotions in 159 short pages? No, but I did. Am I one prone to cry over fictional characters? No, but Mr. Baldwin got a few tears from me. Not only is the nature of the book realistic, but the writing is poetic and thought-provoking. As far as literature goes, it's hard to critique. I admit, the book is a bit slow at times, including the beginning. Some of the events may be triggering for some people. I'm not sure if this is a con; but if you are an emotional gangsta like myself, the fact that this book will probably draw tears from your reluctant eyes is a con. I'd recommend Giovanni's Room for book clubs. It was a good book while I was reading it, it was a great book when I was finished. There is so much to unpack once you have finished reading. It's a book you would want to discuss not only the content but the context in which it was written. Baldwin left America for Paris to avoid racism of the early 20th Century America. Baldwin's choices in writing a novel the discussed homosexuality and masculinity were bold. The contemplation of how Giovanni's room would fare in this day and age would be enough to get the discussion going. Many subjects in the book have only recently become less taboo. So maybe it would be allowed in high school lectures. The fact that Baldwin had the wherewithal to create such nuanced characters is beyond amazing. Baldwin was sincerely ahead of his time with this one. My friend likes to gloat "I told you so". I have to concede; he was right. I look forward to working my way through Baldwin's other works.

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