Work to live

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Before I studied in Spain I was told, “Spaniards do not live to work, but work to live.” I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot recently given what’s transpired in my life this past year. The ups and downs. The highs and lows, if you will. While I try not to dwell too much on “what if” scenarios, I do try to reason through situations that haven’t gone as I would have liked. Immediately, one situation comes to mind: applying to professional school. To make a long story short, I poured my heart into an application only to find out that deadlines essentially don’t matter in a rolling admissions process. Not receiving any interview offers for professional school was devastating. I failed at the goal I had worked toward for five years. So how do you rebound from something like that? Work harder! I realized I needed to make getting into professional school my number one priority. Nothing was going to stand in the way of my career path. It was the only thing that mattered.

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Fast forward a few months. I recently got coffee with a close friend of mine who is currently in professional school. As if it isn’t obvious given that she’s in professional school, let me just say that she is the most academically driven and disciplined person I know. No exaggeration. This is someone who has truly given her all to her chosen career path. She loves learning about her career field. However, I just learned that this exceptional student is having a very rough time right now in her program and is extremely stressed. I have no doubt that she will get through this struggle and be an even more amazing professional because of it, yet during our conversation I found myself thinking, “I’m not even in a professional program yet. If she’s struggling, how will I EVER survive?!” I can feel the stress begin to build already, and I’m not even in professional school!

So here I am. Once again reflecting on this notion of working to live rather than living to work. Throughout my academic career, I’ve always been looking ahead to the next step. Where do I want to be and what must I do to get there? Now don’t get me wrong it’s essential to have goals, yet I often feel like our society places too much emphasis on the next step. I have had an academic adviser tell me to give up something I loved in the hope that something else might look better on a resume/curriculum vitae/transcript.  That just doesn’t seem right to me. Giving up everything else to pursue a career we think we want is common in our culture, and it’s easy to get wrapped up planning what the next step should be. I feel like I fully understand the live to work mentality.

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Now how about the work to live philosophy? As mentioned earlier, I didn’t quite understand this concept until I lived in Spain. During my month in Spain, I found it very much true that Spaniards worked to live. Their careers were only one facet of their lives. They worked so that they could afford to do other things they were passionate about. I observed that each day was centered around time with family and friends. People spent their free time strolling in the parks and conversing at street-side cafes. Everyone had a large mid-afternoon break to eat lunch and spend time with their families. I’m not saying that people didn’t find value in their work, but everything seemed so much more laid back and less career driven. I really enjoyed my time there. Everything felt slower-paced and people oriented. This ideology has prompted me to reflect on my own goals and what I want out of this adventure called life. Am I putting so much pressure on myself and my future that I’m not enjoying the simple things that make life great?

So what do you think? Is our society putting so much emphasis on getting ahead in work that we’re forgetting to invest in other important aspects of our lives? Do you think we’ve embodied a live to work or work to live culture? While I don’t know the answer, working to live seems like the more rewarding option. What are your thoughts?

“Remember, George: No man is a failure who has friends.”

It’s a Wonderful Life

Bibliography

“Today’s Thought.” Real Simple Home & Lifestyle Network. Time Inc. Lifestyle Group, 17 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 June 2013. <http://realsimpleblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/091712-dt.gif?w=640&gt;.

Things We Can Still Learn from Dr. Seuss

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Beloved children’s author Theodor Geisel, commonly known as Dr. Seuss, is known for writing and illustrating children’s books with quirky characters and creative rhymes that often include words we’ve never heard of. Not only is reading a Dr. Seuss book fun as a child, but at the age of 22, I still find it a treat whenever I get the chance to read one of his books. Maybe this is because the books of Dr. Seuss have something that us “adults” can learn from. Here are my favorite Dr. Seuss life lessons:

1. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you known what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

This passage is from the book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! This is probably one of the most well known passages written by Dr. Seuss. Prominent in graduation cards, these words are a reminder to dream big. You may be on your own in this world, but there’s no limit to what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it.

2. “A person’s a person, no matter how small.”

This quote is from the book Horton Hears a Who! This book is about Horton the elephant who protects the Whos living on a small speck of dust. Throughout the book, Horton diligently protects the Whos, even though he is constantly ridiculed. This is one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes for two reasons: First, a person IS a person, no matter how small. It is our job to respect our fellow humans. Second, Horton endures ridicule from the other animals for believing in something he can’t see. If you are passionate enough about something, don’t let people’s opinions affect you.

3. “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

This quote is from the book I Can Read with My Eyes Shut! This is a good reminder of the value of an education. No one can take your education away from you. The things you learn stick with you forever (even though sometimes it may not seem like it), and you’ll have informed, well-rounded views because of that.

4. “To the world you may be one person; but to one person you may be the world.”

This quote isn’t from a book, but rather from Dr. Seuss himself. I appreciate this quote because it reminds me how much the actions of one person can make a difference to someone else. So next time your friend is having a down day, do something special for him or her. You never know how much it may mean.

5. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

This quote is from The Lorax. In my opinion, The Lorax is the saddest Dr. Seuss book. I will admit I haven’t seen the recent movie (I want to!), so I apologize if I put a depressing spin on it. The Lorax raises concern about the environmental issues facing our world today. The book centers around the Once-ler who harvests the Truffula trees for his own financial gain. Throughout the book, the Lorax “speaks for the trees”, but much to his dismay, the Once-ler ignores his pleas and the Truffula trees continue to be cut down until the area is desolate. I won’t reveal the ending, but let’s just say the Once-ler has a change of heart. This book not only  explains the ramifications that come from not respecting the environment, but also serves as a reminder to not let others stop you from speaking up about something you strongly believe in.

 

6. “I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom, we too should have rights.”

This quote is from the book Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Yertle the turtle is king of the pond and a stone serves as his throne. However, Yertle isn’t happy with his stone. Therefore, he begins to order all of the other turtles to stand on top of one another so that he can see the vastness of his kingdom. As the stack gets higher and higher, the turtles begin to ache from pain and hunger. It isn’t until another turtle, Mack, speaks up that the turtles eventually gain their freedom. This book serves as a reminder that everyone has rights and you should never take advantage of someone else.

7. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

8. “Today you are you. That is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!”

Though they aren’t from a book, these last two quotes are my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes. Their lesson is simple. Just be yourself. Don’t be afraid to be yourself! There’s no one better at being you than YOU!

What do you think of these quotes? Are there any additional Dr. Seuss quotes that inspire you? What are your favorite Dr. Seuss books?

“ASAP. Whatever that means. It must mean, ‘Act swiftly awesome pacyderm.” Horton Hears a Who!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horton_Hears_a_Who%21

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-can-read-with-my-eyes-shut-dr-seuss/1030720974?ean=9780394839127

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lorax

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh,_the_Places_You’ll_Go!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yertle_the_Turtle_and_Other_Stories

My Spain Top 5

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I’ve just learned that I could know within a matter of weeks if I’ll be returning to the land of bullfighting and flamenco this fall! As my anticipation builds, I’m thinking of the things I want to visit while I’m in Spain. As of now, here are my top five must-see attractions in Spain!

1.  La Catedral de La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona (Cataluña)

Construction for the church of La Sagrada Familia (The Sacred Family) began March 19, 1882 and it is still under construction to this day! In 1883, architect Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to carry out the project. He continued working on this project until his death in 1926. La Sagrada Familia, located in the center of Barcelona, consists of four different facades. The Nativity Facade celebrates the birth of Jesus and is also referred to as the facade of Life, Joy or Christmas.The Passion Facade depicts the twelve stations of the cross emphasizing the sacrifice and death of Jesus. The Apse Facade, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, consists of pediments with the initials of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus accompanied by the alpha and the omega. This facade symbolizes the beginning and end of life. The Glory Facade is the entrance to the church and represents man within the order of creation. This facade depicts the origins of man, the problems of man, and man’s purpose.

 The “Works of Antoni Gaudí” was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984. When in Barcelona, make visiting La Sagrada Familia a priority!

2. El Tomb de Cristóbal Colón – Sevilla (Andalusia)

The tomb of Christopher Columbus is located inside La Catedral de Sevilla. The remains of the great explorer have been moved many times since his death in 1506 in Valladolid, Spain. After Columbus’ death, his remains were moved to Seville, and then to Colonial Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) in 1542. When Spain lost control of the Dominican Republic in 1795, the remains were moved to Havana, Cuba. Finally 100 years later, the remains were once again brought back to Seville and remain there still today. However, there is still some controversy and mystery surrounding whether these are, in fact, the remains of Columbus. In 1877, a box was discovered in the Dominican Republic  with the inscription “Don Colon”. This box is still at the Faro a Colon Lighthouse in the Dominican Republic. The Seville Cathedral was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

3.  La Alhambra – Granada (Andalusia)

The Alhambra is a palace and military fortress located on top of the al-Sabika hill, overlooking the city of Granada. The Alhambra became a royal residence of the Moors in the 13th century after the arrival of Mohammed ben Al-Hamar, the first king of the Nasrid dynasty. Yusuf I (1333-1353) and Mohammed V (1353-1391) are responsible for the parts of the Alhambra that are most admired today. Such structures consist of The Patio of the Lions, the Justice Gate, the Baths, the Comares Rooms and the Hall of the Boat. After the Reconquest by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492, the Alhambra was ruled by Christians and The Palace of Charles V was added. The Alhambra was abandoned during the 18th century. The French ruled the Alhambra for a short time and blew up part of the fortress. The restoration and preservation of the Alhambra began in the 19th century and continues to this day. La Alhambra was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984.

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4. La Catedral de Santiago de Compostela – Santiago de Compostela (Galicia)

Santiago de Compostela is considered to be one of Christianity’s holy cities and was a major pilgrimage destination for Christians from the 11th to the 18th century. Exhibiting Romanesque art, the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is considered to be the tomb of St. James. Upon the discovery of St. James’ remains, a basilica was built in the region in 818 A.D. This tomb became a symbol of resistance against Islam in Galicia, as well as the rest of Spain. Construction of the cathedral began in the 11th century, ending in 1188 A.D., and the cathedral was consecrated in 1211 A.D. Many people from all around the world still visit the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral after completing the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage beginning in in either France, Portugal or Spain and ending in Santiago de Compostela.

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5. La Guernica – Reina Sofia (Madrid)

Guernica, the painting by Pablo Picasso, can be found at the Reina Sofia Museo Nacional Centro de Arte in Madrid. The painting was featured as the centerpiece for the Spanish Pavilion in the 1937 World’s Fair. Though he was in Paris, Picasso painted his masterpiece at a time of political turmoil in Spain. From 1936 to 1939, the Spanish Republic was under the attack of the fascist Nationalists led by General Francisco Franco. While Picasso “generally avoids politics – and disdains overtly political art” (PBS.org), political turmoil was his inspiration for Guernica. On April 27th, 1937, Franco’s forces attacked the citizens of Guernica, a Basque village in northern Spain. Once Picasso learned of the massacre, he began sketches for his mural Guernica. After the World’s Fair, the painting traveled Europe and North America, and was housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York from the beginning of WWII until 1981. Picasso refused to allow the painting to be brought to Spain until the country could enjoy “public liberties and democratic institutions” (PBS.org). In October of 1981, after Picasso’s death (1973) and Franco’s death (1975), the Spanish Republic brought La Guernica to Spain.

Well, there you have it. My top 5 must-see attractions in Spain. Of course my list is biased. Anyone who knows me knows that La Sagrada Familia is number one on my bucket list (as of now). What are your opinions of this list? Is there something/someplace in this world that you long to visit?

“El mundo de hoy no tiene sentido, así que ¿por qué debería pintar cuadros que lo tuvieran?”

“The world today doesn’t make any sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?” – Pablo Picasso

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/314

http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/columbus-tomb.htm

http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net

http://www.pbs.org/treasuresoftheworld/guernica/gmain.html

http://www.alhambradegranada.org/en/info/historicalintroduction.asp

http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/?lang=0

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/tomb-of-christopher-columbus

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/32