I’ve been doing just fine

Hi there. Wow. It’s been quite some time since I’ve actually taken the time to sit down and think about all of my thoughts.  I should probably give you just a brief update before we dive on in, right?

I meant to check this to see about the last time I wrote on here. I am sure since then, I’ve probably baked countless times. Most recently, I popped out four loaves of Tartine’s sourdough bread. Kind of funny to think that 9 months ago, a friend of mine thought it’d be fun to make sourdough bread babies together (ironically enough Abby, 9 months later, and I’m still making’ bread babies)! There is something so therapeutic about bread. Sure, it takes a lot of time, energy, dedication to the craft (literally hanging out in your house or apartment all day to tend to your bread dough babies). But it’s worth it. I brought in a few loaves of it to my coworkers several weeks ago, and it was devoured by noon. You could even call me a bit obsessed with it. As many of you know, I like to think that I can control just about every aspect of my life. Bread baking, however, makes me realize that this is  not at all possible. I have come to compare bread baking much to that of life. Regardless of what you do or how much you do something, each loaf is always going to be different. It’ll have it’s pluses and minuses, like today, when the second loaf did not turn out quite as crispy as I wanted it to. But I must say, it’s going to make the absolute best French toast in the morning.

There’s one update.

I’ve nearly given up social media completely. My Snapchat and Twitter accounts have been completely deleted. And my Facebook and Instagram apps have been removed from my phone. I only allow myself to check Facebook on my laptop and my iPad. But beyond that, that’s it. And you know what? It is extremely therapeutic, much like bread baking. These last two weeks have been much more relaxing. I’ve slowly begun to read more, working my way through this book that I’ve been reading now for several months. I peruse The New York Times almost hourly (could be a new addiction, right?), and I find myself much more aware of everything around me. There is no longer a constant desire to spend countless hours swiping through social media, literally wasting time doing absolutely nothing. I no longer find myself jealous of those traveling abroad and drinking cappuccinos in Italy or eating paella in Barcelona. But rather, I’m focusing on me. And that gives me such life. I bake more. I organize more. I find a new bread recipe or blog to explore.

I wish I could say these last few months have been so peachy keen, but as we all know, there are parts of life that still seem overwhelming. My car is making weird noises, so naturally that gives me an ulcer. I was perusing my student loan debt today as well, which makes me 0 and 2. If anybody is willing to write a $65,000 check today or tomorrow or even the next week, I am more than willing to give you my address. I’ll make you dinner and give you a big hug if you’d like to deliver the check in person. These are those weird moments in life when everything seems so overwhelming, and while my concerns are probably very minimal when compared to others, there are, nevertheless, overwhelming.

It is Sunday, November 4. Where the hell has the time gone? What I am about to say will also sound so very cliche, but the world just seems to keep going 180 miles per hour right in front of you, and you don’t even know where to begin. A former professor of mine asked me this past Thursday about publishing my master’s research. Add that to the laundry list of things I probably should be doing. Will I ever go on to get my PhD? Will I ever pay off this debt? Will I ever even be able to own my own home? Will my car ever stop making this stupid noise? (As I write this, I realize that these sound like the most petty and trivial of matters, but they have seemed to be bundling up so much lately).

A week from today, I will be running my second half marathon…ever!  Just six days from now, I will be representing Saint Mary’s College at the Panetta Institute’s annual fundraiser, tuxedo and all. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, right? Maybe I just need a day off.

Woof.

be kind to one another.

–p

P.S. I took a screenshot of this quote I received from a professor this week:

“Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.”

–Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Sometimes, we need a reminder like that.

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Dream Big Work Hard

A family friend gave me this bracelet as part of my graduation gift this year.  It reads, “DREAM BIG WORK HARD,” part of the fantastic marketing done by the JJ Watt Foundation.  Ironically enough, I threw it on this past Tuesday as I officially began my travel season for work.  At the end of the third school I was visiting (and the last for the day), a student asked me a dozen or so questions about my alma mater.  The last question was this:

So what’s the story about your bracelet?

I hadn’t really thought about it hard enough to even come up with an intelligent response, but I did somehow have the sense to say this:

Oh this?  Well, a family friend gave it to me.  From the JJ Watt Foundation.  I figured today is my first day meeting with students like yourself, so I thought it’d be a solid reminder for me.  Couldn’t hurt, right?

These last few weeks have been so busy folks.  I’ve been going 180 miles an hour, but I am absolutely loving it.  I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and you know what?  That feeling takes a long time to achieve.  Let me tell you.  Trust me.  I think that I had my quarter life crisis early–T God.  I told some parents that this week, and they thought it was funny.  So I’m going to stick with that joke.  At least it brings some much needed laugher, am I right?

Yesterday, I spent nearly an hour looking up recipes for my new smoker/barbecuer.  Ever have those moments where you somehow find yourself in a rabbit hole of mindlessness, whether it be Wikipedia searches, YouTube videos, or other random ass content on the Internet?  Raise your hands high.  We’ve all been there.  I also think that’s how we cope.  That’s how we deal with the craziness of our lives.  It’s weird because as I do it, I know that my mind is subconsciously thinking about something else or someone else so hardcore.  It’s like those times at the end of the day when we’ve been so entrenched in work, and we finally sit down, and then we finally realize what we’ve actually been thinking about.  I am 24 years old, with a new job, meeting new people, doing all sorts of new things.  And new can be tough.  Whether it’s new friends, new places, new responsibilities.  Change can be tough, even when you’re going back to someplace that you absolutely love.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a student who appeared to be hitting a rough patch.  We all have those days, and I knew that I, out of anyone, could most easily relate.  I went over and did a brief check-in, just to make sure that the world was going to be okay.  It made me realize how much I love human interaction, how much I love being in the presence of others.  It also made me realize how much we need to be on the lookout for one another. In today’s world, so many feel alone, so many feel unimportant.  So, I’ve got a challenge for all of you: go out into the world in the next week or two weeks and find that person in your life and make them feel like the most important person in the world.  Make them feel like they have never felt before.  Make them realize how much they mean to you and the world around you.  We need to do more lifting up.  We need to be more supportive.  We need to be more aware of those around us.  There are people out there who just want someone to check in with them.  So do it.  It is so important.

I bought this card today that I feel perfectly describes what I am trying to say here:

You’re the lone corn dog in a world of plain wieners.  In other words, you’re amazing.

I haven’t decided who will be the lucky recipient of this one, but all I can say is, make someone feel like a corn dog.  We don’t need any more plain wieners.

So don’t be a plain wiener.

If that didn’t just make you laugh right now, well, shit.  Go find a sense of humor.

And always,

be kind to one another.

–p

P.S. I bet you thought I started this post off going in one direction, and then I totally tricked you by going another direction that probably doesn’t make any sense.  Oh well. Happy Sunday!

PSA: Desperately seeking out a pen pal. Like a legit one. I’m ready to write. I’ve got great stationary and plenty o’stamps.

The start of something new

I am not even too sure where to begin with all of you.  I realize that it has been too long.  There have been so many times when I sit down to write something, and for some reason, halfway through writing, I stop.  Either I am not satisfied with how I am writing it or (most likely) I find myself just too tired to continue.  I would have to say that the last six months have been anything but stable.  Between graduating from Cal Poly and moving home to Modesto, I feel as if the foundation and stability of my life has literally been ripped out from underneath me.

Yesterday, I started my first big boy job as an Admissions Counselor at my alma mater, Saint Mary’s College of California.  While I am thrilled to be back at SMC, I am already overwhelmed with an immense amount of information in order to do the job.  As my mama always says though, “One day at a time.”  My living situation here up in the Bay is a little uncertain which, of course, causes me an immense amount of stress and anxiety.  I am always excited for this learning curve that happens when you start a new beginning, yet there are moments when I wish I just knew how to ‘do it all’ so to speak.  And yes, I do realize the contradiction and irony of both of those statements.  New people.  New environment (kind of).  And new ins and outs.  Scary and exciting and nerve-racking and fun and ahhhhhh.  Can you feel my angst?  At least I started everything off right by bringing in a fresh batch of lemon bars to the office.  Making Mondays better.  That’s my goal.  So, if you ever happen to be in the Bay Area and stop by Saint Mary’s College on a Monday morning, be sure to stop by and say hi.  There might just be a delicious baked good waiting for you.

These last six or so months have also brought a lot of different thoughts about life.  There are moments when I find myself driving down the street thinking about something completely out of the ordinary.  I think it’s one of those things that your mind is thinking about subconsciously, and then, out of the blue, your mind really starts thinking about it. After I was rejected from each of the eight PhD programs I applied to, I thought that was it for me.  I felt like failure.  I felt like I had let everyone down, but worst of all, I felt like I had let myself down.  And that is the worst feeling of failure.  And then, once I graduated and I didn’t have a job, I really felt out of place.  Here I was with two degrees, no job, and I was moving back in with the folks…what???  Is this how it’s supposed to be?  If you know me well, you know that I like to think that I have everything figured out or I at least like to appear that I do.  So when there is this much uncertainty in my life, I start to lose it.  Trust me, there were many nights before graduating where I would start to cry because I felt like I had just screwed up big time.  I no longer feel this way, yet I am still nervous for whatever lies ahead.  As I have said many times before, I would love to know what God’s ultimate plan is for me, and I will do my best to try to figure out what it is going to look like.  But, I know that I won’t necessarily have it all worked out.  There will be some setbacks, some kinks in the road if you will, but I know for a fact that I am where I am supposed to be.  And I have to trust in that.

I would have to say that one of the hardest parts about this entire transition out of Cal Poly has been saying goodbye to some really solid, close friends.  That is the absolute worst, and when I start to think about it, I get emotional because of how much I miss them every single day.  How I wish we could just package up our friends and bring them with us wherever we go.  And unfortunately, that isn’t how the world works.  Amanda, Abby, Carolyn (x2), Jasmine, Audrey, Kate, Jessica, Brad, Alex, Megan, Kathleen, Elizabeth, Debi, Mark, Katie, Wendy, and Anna:  please know how desperately I wish you were all here with me, ready for food and wine and laughs and cries and everything in between.  Because each of you have brought so much into my life and have contributed so much to who I am today, I am forever grateful for all that you continue to do to support and love me.

That is exactly what friends are for.  And that is exactly what I need from people like yourselves.  Thank you so much.

And that’s it for now.  There is much more to come, much more that I want to talk about. But another time, sometime soon.

be kind to one another.

–p

A letter to you

Dear You,

It’s been a crazy few months, hasn’t it?  You’ve been stressed out, overwhelmed, and embarrassed.  And yet, life goes on, doesn’t it?  Right when you begin to think that your life is spiraling downward, something happens and picks you back up to where you truly belong.  The negativity in your life seems to peak, hitting an all-time-high, something that you have never experienced before.  To a certain extent, it feels like this is your first time really failing.  The irony here, is, of course, that you didn’t fail.  You failed no one.  You feel like you have failed yourself, but that simply is not the case.  While it may feel like failure, it really isn’t.  These last few weeks and months have felt like misery–each day, something seems to happen which takes a toll on my ability to rebuild the happiness I had before.  And it’s tough.  It’s tough to pretend that your life is figured out, that you have everything put together.  But I don’t.  In fact, I am far from that.  I have nothing figured out beyond graduation.

And that is terrifying.

I have absolutely zero idea what I am doing.  There is zero direction in my life.  And that freaks me out.  I hate having to leave the network that I’ve developed here.  I felt this way when I left Saint Mary’s.  It’s really tough to leave your support network.  It’s even harder to leave the people you truly love the most.  And that is what I am most worried about.  Forget the job.  Forget the money.  Forget the bills.  This is what really matters most to me.  I think you all know that.  At the end of the day, that is what I am most worried about.  Of course, who wouldn’t be?  Right?

I take an exam next weekend that will determine whether or not I will actually graduate.  Also terrifying.  The level of anxiety I am currently experiencing is paralleled by nothing ever before in my life.  I think that this is a form of torture and should seriously be outlawed.  72 hours.  3 essay questions.  Go.  Oh, and turn it in on your 24th birthday.  I mean, no better way to celebrate??

As my time is coming to a close, both at Cal Poly and in San Luis Obispo, I have come to learn the following (feel free to take with you whatever you might find inspirational or not):

  • Challenge yourself.  And trust me, you don’t have to do this on your own because the world will naturally challenge you, each and every day.
  • Love people.  Love those who mean the most to you because that’s what love is all about right?
  • Stop apologizing, unless you really screw up.  And most importantly, never apologize for the way that you feel, simply because, you’re not wrong.
  • Eat good food.  Stop wasting time on sad food.  Eat the second roll.  Have another slice.  Be happy doing it.  And yes, by all means, if you’ve already finished one creme brûlée, order another.
  • I used to have this quote on my refrigerator that I absolutely love:  there is no time to leave important words unsaid.  So, go say them.  Stop holding your words and feelings back.  Take the advice from John Mayer, say what you need to say.
  • Put your phone away.  Your texts, Snapchats, and Facebook notifications really aren’t that important when you’re with another human being.  Focus on that one person or group of people before your phone.  One day, you’ll thank me for it.  Trust me.
  • Look people in the eye.  This is a new one that I’m just learning.  You’d be amazed how much more you learn about it a conversation when you’re looking at a person dead in the eye.  Just don’t do this in a creepy way, but also, you’ll discover how quickly you get lost in that person and in the conversation you’re having.
  • Ask the tough questions.  Seriously.  You’ll learn more about yourself and others if you ask those questions.  Be honest.  Be open.  You’ll be glad you did.

I think that’s enough for now; I’m getting tired and have a paper to work on.  But before I go, I have to ask

Pray for me.  Pray for guidance, support, love, happiness, and hope.  I could really use it and appreciate that kind of strength always.

Also, tell people you love them.  You know that’s important to me, so just go do it. And if they forgot, remind them.

be kind to one another.

–p

 

My mama.

There are truly not enough words that I could type on this page that would describe the immense amount of love I have for the woman who gave birth to me 24 years ago. I went to mass tonight, and Father Alphonse began his homily with a tribute to all of the mothers in this world. He reminded us that there are things that mothers do that we often never know about, the behind-the-scenes work that never seems to get noticed. He also said that there are so many times that we often take our mothers for granted, simply because we are used to them doing X, Y, and Z for us.  So tonight, I want to take the time to address my mama, Julie, taking note of all that she does for me, making sure that she knows that her hard work, love, and affection will never go unnoticed:

Dear Mom,

Even as I write this, I have tears in my eyes because I think of the immense amount of love and support that you always offer me but particularly in these last few months.  I have been challenged by and am continually disappointed in recent weeks with the plan that God has set forth before me.  And right as I think about giving up and throwing in the towel, you remind me of what’s important in life, knowing that God really does know what is right.  I cannot even imagine a day that I don’t talk to you on the phone, knowing that you’re always available if I ever need a thing.  And what I love about you the most is the ways in which you share your love with others.  I can’t think of many people who are so willing to spend several hours to bake cookies for their children before they leave to go back to school.  I am also constantly blown away at your willingness to lend a hand to others in need, particularly those going through difficult times.  You have baked many cookies and made several dinners for families who are struggling to get by, often on days when you’d rather go to bed early.  Instead, you sacrifice all of who you are so that others will be okay in the end.  And that is why you are the best mom in the world.  As cliche as it is, you are a mom who really puts others before herself.  I see that in you every single day, Mom.  And you have no idea how incredibly proud I am to call myself your son.  When others ask me about the baked goods I bring in, I tell them, “You can thank my mom.  She’s the one who’s really responsible for this.”

So Mom, at the end of the day, I want you to go to sleep knowing that you have had such a profound impact on this world, in ways that really are indescribable.  You can go to sleep knowing that you and Dad have succeeded in raising three kids who are pretty freaking incredible (from what I know firsthand).  You and Dad have done your job, although your job isn’t over.  Trust me.  I will still need all the help and guidance possible.  Never has there been a done where I haven’t been grateful for all that you do.  I want you to never forget that.

And lastly, I can’t help but think of the book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  If you’ve never read the book, you can check it out here!

Hey mom, just so you know…

I’ll love you forever.  And always.

Your son,

Philip

IMG_1629.JPG

P.S.  You’re the freaking best.

be kind to one another.

–p

I am doing okay.

Hello friends. It’s been nearly a month since I’ve taken the time to sit here and write to all of you. As I have said many times before, my life is an open book. And even as I write that, it is tough to admit that I have been rejected by all of the doctoral programs I applied to. It look me a long time to process that information, something that I had been so looking forward to, something that I thought was in my life plan. It’s so funny how people have tried to offer their support in a variety of interesting ways; to be honest, much of it hasn’t been helpful. I realize that the right intentions are there, but people, this was huge for me. It’s not as simple as people often make it out to be. And while this all sucks, I know that, in the end, I will be okay. Some how. Some way. For those of you who have told me this, I already know and already believe in it, but everything will turn out the way it is supposed to (FYI: please don’t remind me of this as I have heard it now 75,321 times).

Okay, now let’s talk about exciting things, and then we’ll get on to the meh kind of things that I still need to figure out at some point:

  • My department chair informed me recently that I have been selected to receive three different awards at graduation, including the MPP Student of the Year. YAHOO! I jokingly told my mom that I was going to include that award title in my email signature as a joke–we got a good laugh out of that one.
  • I have become a sourdough bread connoisseur. I’ve used nearly 50 pounds of flour in the last two months and need to stock up on more for some bread this weekend!
  • My plant game has been extremely strong in recent days. All of the plants in our house are thriving (yes, this is what you have to look forward to when you come home each day).
  • I’m going to PERU! I get to help lead another group of students from Cal Poly on a service trip, and I couldn’t be more excited.
  • I’ve got a really exciting, potential job opportunity meeting this coming Tuesday in Monterey. Trying to keep really optimistic about my future, regardless of what’s in store for me (as long as it includes a big kitchen and lots of food, am I right?). Although, there’s a slight possibility for me to remain in San Luis Obispo for the next year, and I am really hoping that could work out too!
  • A few weeks ago, I had the chance to cook for a group of students from Saint Mary’s who were going on a retreat that I helped to create when I was a student. The retreat could not have come at a more opportune time; it was right after I got the last rejection. When you’re around a group of like-minded individuals your age, many of whom are going through very similar struggles, it centers you and brings you back to a place that is much more manageable.

Okay so now let’s talk about the struggles:

  • I can’t say that my time at Cal Poly has allowed me to fall in love yet (except maybe with sourdough bread?) Yes, I’ve mentioned this before, and you know what? It’s always on my mind people.
  • I take my master’s comprehensive exam at the end of this month which is causing me a whole new level of stress and anxiety. Pray for me please!
  • I am worried. I am anxious about my future and where this is all going. My department chair said it right when she pointed out that uncertainty is something that I am simply not okay with. She hit the nail right on the head.
  • I contemplated spending $35 today on a 2 pound bag of fancy chocolate for fancy cookies…I didn’t end up buying it Mom, don’t worry.
  • When I got that last rejection, I was disappointed in myself. 100%. I felt that I had truly failed myself and others. And that is one of the worst feelings in the world folks. Failure has never been in my vocabulary (I mean that), but these last few weeks have certainly felt like failure.
  • Some of my friendships with people here are flourishing while others seem to be faltering. And at this point in the game, I am okay with that. I have come to accept that there are just a certain group of people who stick around for the long haul, and that is because they support and love me endlessly. And love feels good, doesn’t it?

Friends, that’s about all I got for now. And as I told that group of Saint Mary’s students as I have said to many of you, please never forget: you are never alone in this world. You are loved. And even when it may feel like no one is standing in your corner, I will always be standing in your corner.

Forever and always. Just like Shania Twain said.

be kind to one another.

–p

Here’s your sign.

Week one of my last quarter at Cal Poly is over, and I am straight up, 100%, downright exhausted. I had this grand idea that my last quarter would be easy peezy, but I have come to realize that it will be anything but that.  Friends, it’s been such a weird week.  I am experiencing much of the same emotion that I felt as I began to leave Saint Mary’s (although this is much different just for the record).  Rejected by 7 schools.  Still waiting to hear on the 8th.  Stay tuned.  While I was home for break, I volunteered with my mom at the local thrift store that supports the American Cancer Society.  A woman made a point to ask me about this Bible verse that was etched on this sleeve for a computer:  Jeremiah 29:11.  I tried to guess the verse but knew that I wasn’t right.

So I Googled it…naturally.  And ironically enough, here’s what it said:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Weird, right?  I could not believe it.  I have heard this verse a thousand times, but naturally, this woman didn’t know what it was, and I just happened to be asked about it.  Earlier this week, I was sharing with a friend about this disappointment from graduate schools, and guess what verse she texts me…?  Jeremiah 29:11.  If that isn’t God sending me a sign, then boy, I must be clueless.

Well, funny I should write that because not too long after this, I was driving home from a long day at work.  I was driving the same path that I always do, except this time the electric sign of a business that I pass by every day had the following words on it:

You will be okay.

I want you to know that the next day, the sign didn’t say this.  I honestly forget what it said the day after, ironically enough.  Rejection is tough.  I don’t handle it well by any means.  People constantly ask why I’m not in a relationship.  Part of the reason is that the prospects have seem to be low here in SLO.  Wow, that rhymed.  Just call me Dr. Seuss.  But all joking aside, rejection really is tough.  And I take all of that personal.  So if you don’t date, you can’t be rejected.  And I have started to believe that if I never applied to these doctoral programs, I would have never been rejected, right?  Is that how all of this is supposed to be?  I’ve got a friend who works down the hallway from me who is in a similar, frustrating dilemma, having also experienced this type of rejection recently (p.s. we were supposed to get crème brûlée months ago, so maybe, if you’re reading this carol, we’ll finally go get crème brûlée?).  At least I do know one other human being going through this sucky, awkward part of life.  Also, shoutout to autocorrect for knowing where to put the accents on crème brûlée!

Two months and eight days.  I’ve got two months and eight days to somehow make an impact on this campus before I leave.  Before I leave to probably work some shitty desk job while I dream about becoming a professor.  Or a chef.  Or while I dream about baking bread.  A couple things…I am so tired of people “trying to relate.”  Please just stop while you’re ahead.  I would greatly appreciate it.  I really just want some GD empathy.  I just want someone to sit down with and talk for a long time.  I want my pity party.  Sorry,  but when you’re 23 years old and have spent the last 18 years of your life working your butt off to be rejected from school after school, person after person, it really takes a toll on you.  I get it.  I am 23 and still young (despite students thinking I am their professor).  But it’s hard when you look on stupid social media (yes, me using the word stupid like a child) and people are getting engaged, doing cool things, and having cool lives.  Side note:  one of the reasons I hate social media.  That’s not real life, contrary to popular belief.

Everything happens for a reason, at the right time, at the right place.  One day, I will be that professor.  I will be married.  I will have 2.5 kids.  Just kidding, that half kid will most definitely be a dog.  And I will be the most incredible bread baker, lover of life,  a person who remains happy for the simple moments when shared with others.

Because at the end of the day, what else do I need?

be kind to one another.

-p