Christians, Election 2016, Love

To All My Fellow Christians, those Rejoicing in Today:

The feeling of victory is palpable.  It is an exhilarating feeling, a natural high of euphoric proportions.  I understand why few would be compelled to conceal it.  We have all felt this, in one way or another.  So for those rejoicing, I want to remind you not to lose yourselves in this moment.

Please do not get so caught up, that you forget to look at those around you.
What you say, says a lot about what is in your heart, and the love you have for others.

Yes, we all want to be right, and win.  But what do we want more than that?  We all want to feel loved, accepted, safe, and heard.  At the very least, we all have that in common.

Let us LISTEN to others, with compassion and empathy, rather than shout over them.

Just as we should any day after an election, let us focus on UNITY.
We are all a broken and hurting people whether we wear it on our sleeves, or brush it under a rug.  We are all more alike, then we want to admit.

So let’s finish our day with compassion, empathy, and try to understand each other with LOVE.

I am glad that Trump didn’t gloat last night. I’m glad that he admitted how exhausting the whole process was.  I don’t stand with Trump, and have never supported him.  However, I want his supporters to at least glean that from him, – and win without boasting.

So remember why you call yourself a Christian – JESUS!

Be like Jesus, look out for the LEAST OF THESE (Matthew 25:40) – the forgotten, the abused, the bullied.  Love Your Neighbor (Mark 12:31), and Do Not Boast (1 Cor 13:4).  If you speak, without love, you are going to sound like a clanging symbol (1 Cor 13:1) that no will want to hear.  They will plug their ears and tune you out.

As Christians, let’s start here:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Let’s reach out to those that are different from us, the marginalized, those that may be outside our everyday circles, and those that we do not relate to.  There are hurting people all around us.   Let us seek to understand, and serve them.  Let us all unite through Love, it is the only way.

New Chapter

Two years ago I shaved my head. Now, I am silent.

Two years ago, I emerged from my Halloween Weekend at the Grand Canyon with a shaved head.

Grand canyon
I was in a very differently place in my life. (To read about it, go: here).

Today, I find myself in another, but different, transitory chapter.

The year before I shaved my head,  everything in my life felt like it was coming to a head.  My best friend was dying, my relationship at the time hit a fork in the road, my parents were not supportive of my life choices.  I felt like loss was all around me, and I was stressed out! 
I had little to grasp, little I could trust.  Except I was grasping, I was clutching my throat.  It took me some time to figure out, this is where I carried most of my tension.

In 2013, my voice teacher suggested I see an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat Doctor).  My voice sounded and felt tired, so I went.  The ENT discovered nodules on my vocal chords.  After 6 months of voice therapy and a lot of vocal rest, the nodules practically shrank and my vocal chords looked healthier. Whenever, I felt a lump in my throat or could tell I was storing tension, I would give myself some voice rest. I saved phone calls for another day.  I chilled out and dove into hot yoga. The humid room was my haven!

This past September, I knew it was time to go back for a check up to the ENT.  Things were feeling uncomfortably familiar, so I wanted to be responsible, and thus started a thorough investigation.  ENT #1 said I needed surgery. ENT #2 said I needed surgery.  ENT #3 & Speech Pathologist, said I should do 75% vocal rest, in addition to some lifestyle changes to rule out acid reflux for 6 weeks & then return for reevaulation.

What does 75% vocal rest mean?
I can still work during this time – yay!  But other than that, I’m doing shut-up therapy.  I’m writing emails, texts, jotting on a notepad & white board to communicate with people, when I’m not at work.  I want to see serious changes and possibly avoid surgery, so I am down to do whatever it takes.  It’s tedious, annoying, frustrating, and even funny.

Have you ever had an opportunity in your life where you leapt?  Maybe your leap was more like a launch.  Maybe you fell through the air for a while, but then landed on a springboard that hurled you at light speed into the next beautiful phase of your life.  If only all growth periods could act like these – growth spurts.

I feel so grateful for this opportunity, finally.  I feel incredibly lucky.  I realize this is another time in my life where I get to change, BIG.

I say finally, however it’s only been five days that I’ve been in these particular trenches.  They have been challenging days, and I have been confronted SMACK in the throat with my control issues.  I literally can do nothing at this point, but accept this period of silence, and inevitable healing.  I realize that I have an amazing opportunity to completely change my life for the better.  To actually let go, relax, submit, give up, and accept peace above all.


This year’s Halloween Costume.

And ya know what, even find JOY!

(Stay tuned, there’s more to come…..)

To Blog or Not to Blog, Again.

I have been wanting to start blogging again, for awhile now.

The main excuse that has kept me from doing so?  I didn’t want my mom to read it.

I started this blog in November 2014, with the post “Why I Shaved My Head.” (Check it out: here). I was excited to start a journey of self-exploration and adventure, hoping to continually inspire (myself, and others) along the way.

I went to Portugal last summer, and wanted to blog during the experience.  I made one fatal mistake.  I told my mom.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my mother.  I respect her, and think she is the most patient woman I know.  She is the reason my entire childhood was so much fun!  She’s a great woman, whom I have learned a lot from.

In Portugal, I wanted her to feel connected to me.  Plus, I knew she would appreciate the details I wrote about.  However, soon enough, I realized I was beginning to censor myself.

One terrible habit I picked up from my dad – “Protect your mother, because essentially she can’t handle it.  She’ll get too emotional” (my paraphrasing).   Wow, Dad. Wow.  There is too much to unpack in these paraphrased ideas, maybe for another post.

I have never wanted my parents to worry about me, or make them sad.  I do not want to hurt them.  I want them to know that their daughter is doing just fine, and she’s happy and healthy.  That is in fact true.  However, in order to stay happy and healthy, I go to therapy and I cry, and I hash out the things that come up in life.  I am  working on my communication with my parents, and navigating the line between communication and boundaries.

When I was in Portugal, I wrote a blog that only stayed up for about a day.  I don’t remember what it said, maybe something about my mom.  She told me it offended her, and so I took it down after about a day.

When considering blogging again, I was going to start a second blog, hoping my mother wouldn’t find it.  I want to be able to fully express myself, without conscious or subconscious censorship.  I want to talk about things I’m learning about myself.  I want to talk about my relationships.

Ultimately, I have decided to keep this blog, after encouragement from my close friend Rachel.  I love the name of this website, and everything that it inspires me to be.  I originally thought long and hard about the name, and what it means to me.  If I start a new blog, I would be hiding behind a new name, and giving up on Unrelenting Hannah.

So I decided to keep this blog and continue writing, unrelentingly.


What would Mary do?

I always find comfort in knowing Mary went through something I went through.  Often I find myself thinking, did Mary feel this way?  I’m sure it’s a normal part of coping with her absence.  Although, growing up I didn’t want to do something unless Mary had done it first.  She always seemed to pave the way for me.

I didn’t drink in high school.  In college, I said no at parties until about 6 months before my 21st birthday.  I wasn’t with Mary, but I called her 2 Vanilla Coke’n Rum’s in, to declare “Mary, I’m drunk!”  I definitely was never going to smoke!  But then later, I could at least try it, since she had.  I definitely was not going to be having sex.  And whenever I would do the deed, it would have to be after Mary had done it. How else was I going to know what to do?

This standard pertained to an array of things: going on a date, kissing a boy, traveling, buying things, etc.  All fashion purchases were double checked with her, even after the fact.  I had to make sure it was cool.  I was pretty ignorant, and just plain scared. Sometimes I wonder how much has really changed.

Lately, I have found myself feeling useless, stagnant, bored.  My summer hiatus is (hopefully) ending, and I am starting to finally feel it’s weight pull me down.  I’ve always been an optimistic and active person, I can’t sit still.  I caused my Portugal vacation to be an opportunity to learn another language.  Even now, during hiatus, I have kept up with Portuguese lessons daily, piano practice, yoga practice – I will not let myself become idle.  Still, I have lost purpose, and optimism.  Today was particularly hard.  I know, we need to have these days sometimes.  I do see the the benefit of them.  I know when we have days like these, we can appreciate the good ones even more.
Today, at the end of a long emotional day, I found solace in knowing Mary felt this way.

I remember growing up, and especially in college, she was trying to figure out her life purpose.  She would tell me how jealous she was of me, that I always just knew I wanted to be an actress.    I was passionate about it, and practiced it and sought out opportunities.  I majored in Theatre in college.  It was happening.  She, on the other hand, had many interests.  She played basketball in high school.  She was amazing!  She also played soccer, was in some plays, took piano lessons, art lessons. She wrote poetry. She loved to read. I don’t know how she found the time to know every lyric to every song on the radio.  She majored in Arts Administration in college, and envisioned one day curating an art museum.  After graduating college, she didn’t feel directed towards a passion. She always explored and dabbled, but wasn’t feeling what she thought she saw in so many of her peers around her.  Over time, towards the end of her life, she realized her calling to be a counselor.  It was amazing to see her so passionate about something, and it made sense with all of her life experience to be doing just that.  It really clicked and finally made sense.  It was exciting.

But career aside, there was ONE THING, she told me in high school and/or college,  that she knew she was meant to be and do, and that was to be a mother.  That was the one thing she always felt led to accomplish and had the confidence to do so. She had grown up her mother’s little helper.  She had an amazing teacher and blueprint in place for the job.

Mary also got married before me. She had a child before me. And, she died before me.  These are things I think about a lot.  I think about how when my times comes, I don’t think I will be nearly as scared as I would have been; especially if I go young, or if a disease takes my body, the long and hard way like it did hers.  It would be terrible, but I would at least be comforted in the fact that she went through it, first.  Even more so, I would be happy to see her soon.  She would be waiting for me on the other side, or maybe she would even usher me in and make the transition smoother. I hope she would.

After thinking about Mary, I feel comforted. She felt hopeless and useless, directionless and stagnant at times.  She knew these struggles well, during many years of seeking.  I feel the bittersweetness of being alive without her.  I have the opportunity to live and appreciate bad days like these.  Thanks for teaching me that Mary.  Thanks for teaching me to hope, even when it feels like all is hopeless.

lighthing design

Lighting is Everything

Lighting is everything.  

This is something you learn living in Hollywood.  It doesn’t matter how good the camera is, if the lighting isn’t perfect, the camera won’t be able to do it’s best work.  It won’t matter how good the actors are, they won’t be seen, the story won’t be understood, all the money invested in the project will be for naught, if the lighting isn’t PERFECT!!

Hollywood aside, if it doesn’t mind removing itself from the spotlight, lighting really is everything.

I sit at home, my current temporary home, on the couch – typing.  I am in the most amazingly designed living room in a beautifully designed apartment.  My roommate Tracey and renter of this cool Silverlake loft for the past 7+ years, has impeccable taste and creativity.  There are items around the apartment, from all over the world, each is perfectly placed.  The attention to detail is off the charts.  I completely appreciate this, and am convinced I wouldn’t know what to do with the objects if each was individually placed in my hand.  Tracey is from New Zealand, so it’s no wonder…..right?

One of the things I appreciate most about the apartment, is Tracey’s lighting designs.  There are lamps, lightbulbs, and other bright things strewn all about the apartment, high and low, in nooks and crannies.  There are so many options for different lighting schemes, depending on where you might want to plop down for a bit.  I am truly tickled by it.  I remember when I first moved in, I thought it was irresponsible and wasteful.  Really, I did, I am embarrassed to say.  Now that I have fully benefitted from her choices, can I truly appreciate them.  There is nothing more amazing then sitting in the living room with a cup of tea, 5 lights on, and different shadows on the walls to keep me company; NOTHING (because lighting is EVERYTHING!!).


How would you walk, if you didn’t feel pain? 

About two weeks ago, I noticed that I had really “broken in” my feet, here in Faro. My heals began to become cracked and dry. In my left foot, there was a deep cut about the length of my thumb nail that had developed on the corner edge of my heal. I used the foot cream I brought in my first-aid kit, and it began to get better. However when I finished the cream, it had not fully healed. And it wasn’t going to stop me from walking at least 3 miles a day around this beautiful city, Faro.

Today I walked to school for the last time. I listened to my favorite “walking to school” music, and took in my surroundings. I tried to take as many mental photos as possible. During which I noticed that I was applying more pressure on my right leg, to compensate for the pain on my left foot. I tried to apply equal pressure while walking, as if I had no pain. It took some focus, but it was possible. I just had to “look past” the pain.  

It got me thinking – How would I live my life if I didn’t feel pain?

One of things I have realized during this trip is that I have defined the present, by my past pains/hurts/negative situations. The loss of my best friend, the pain of ending a long and invested relationship, etc. Being the sentimental person I am, I want to always keep people close to me, this includes the pain, which does not allow me to fully heal.

This does not mean I cannot miss people when the moments arise. I can completely experience these feelings in the moment, and let them pass as they will, not as I will them. Those from past relationships will always be with me of course, in the most beautiful ways. But through acknowledgement, not attachment, I can heal and grow.


Which way the winds blow, and the blood-lines flow.  

I guess I’m about to get my period – I just want to eat chocolate and I’m very needy. Today I actually cried to the school administrator and asked, “How can I stay here? Is it possible to teach English in Portugal?” 

I thought that I would be immune to PMS during this trip. Oh well, guess not. I feel emotional, and I can’t tell if it’s because I’m about to ride the “crimson wave” (Thank you, Clueless), I’m solely & 100% sad about leaving, or if I’ve become a little more Portuguese (They have a flair for drama. Overhear a conversation at lunch, or watch a futbol game – you’ll see). It’s probably a combination of all three. It’s okay, I surrender to the journey. 

This past weekend I spent in Lagos. While I was there I discovered that I’m in-trouble. I became completely certain that I do not want to go home. Lagos is the place you read about in Peter Pan. It is Neverland for the soul.  I truly was not expecting to fall in love; not with a city, an ocean, a country. I traveled to Lagos alone, and was elated the entire time. I did not need a companion. I was more then delighted to hike and explore by myself. The ocean was my friend, my very good friend. Don’t get me wrong, I met some great locals, had great conversations and meals with them, and received great recommendations of places to go and sites to see.

Lagos is a huge tourist destination, so I can’t say that I was speaking much Portuguese this past weekend.  With one more week of learning Portuguese, it is more clear then ever that I need to stay if I want to become conversational, let alone fluent! I am learning just enough of the language to get around, but it is still very difficult for me to understand those that speak it. Apparently the Algarve regions speaks ‘muito rapido’ compared to other regions of Portugal. I would love to stay longer and get better at this language that I am falling in love with, however I already signed a lease for an apartment upon my return and paid the first month’s rent and security deposit. If I hadn’t, I would have extended my trip in a heartbeat! Oh well, we can’t always control the circumstances in our lives.

Now, I haven’t spoken about the awesome couple I am staying with. Initially, I was unsure of what was going on and have been waiting for positive news. I still don’t fully understand the situation. Nuno had a scheduled and routine surgery on a blood-clot in a vein in his leg two weeks ago. Something went wrong with the procedure and there were complications. He was sent up to Lisbon after a few days, and he and his girlfriend Teresa have been gone ever since. Occasionally I get updates via a phone call, text or Whatsapp message. I am happy to report he is recovering and doing better, however they will most likely not be back before I leave Faro. This makes me sad, not just for me, but for them. It is hard to become uprooted with no warning, and for a reason such as this! 

Sometimes life takes a different course then we plan.  Veins, bloodlines, circumstances are routed and rerouted for us.  The wind can surpise us and pick up at a moments notice. And yes, PMS happens.  All I can control is how I respond to the circumstances – my breath (which can at least slow my beating heart). Of course thinking of other people’s stories, puts my little sob-session in perspective. I truly am grateful for every moment of this experience.  And at the very least I can always take my school administrators advice – save my money and come back.  Sounds like a plan Cristina!