Sunday, March 9, 2014

Thanks and Thoughts

Regent's Park in London, England.
"Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you'll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you'll find that you have more of it.
-Ralph Marston

Do you ever feel like you have to stop, look at your surroundings, take a deep breath and think about how blessed you are?

Not to sound like a typical study abroad student or anything, but I've had so many of those moments in the last two months. Up until my trip to London I was swimming through life, enjoying the comforts of home and school without pushing myself to experience anything far out of my comfort zone. Of course there have been some major highlights and unforgettable experiences along the way, and I've always been very thankful, but sometimes it's easy to forget to stop for a moment and appreciate where you are, who you are and who you're with.

I would spend my time waiting for the next thing or wishing time would move faster to get something better. That's not a good way to live but it's what we get used to doing when we're comfortable. I never had to stop and think about my surroundings before and now it seems foolish not to. When you're spending all of your time waiting for something great to happen to you, you are holding yourself back instead of letting go and experiencing every moment as if it were your last day on earth.

Of course I'm not a super positive person all of the time and I definitely have my homesick days or days when I wish I was someone else or somewhere else. That's unfortunately just a normal part of life. It's getting over the hump of your routine and taking time to do wonderful, simple and happy things that leads to more positive reflection and gratitude.

When I stay in bed all day and watch Netflix with my jar of Nutella and my phone in my hand I feel drained. I don't desire to go outside and socialize or run errands. I just want to hide away in my own little world and not deal with the challenges and uncertainties of what's outside my bubble. When you do that all of the time, you get into a funk. Trust me, I know.

The darkness that can encompass your mind when you isolate yourself is a hard thing to get away from. Sometimes it feels like it isn't a choice and that you're stuck in your room because of other people or the weather or a paper you have to write. But let me tell you, the times I feel the happiest and most energized are when I break out and focus on the amazing opportunities I have every day.

Obviously being in London gives me some extra things to explore but this goes for being at home in the states too. I spend too much time whining and not enough time appreciating and enjoying life.

I have never longed for a sunny day in my backyard with my family and the pool more than I have while I've been away. The camper is looking so good right now and I'm excited to have bonfires and movie nights with my friends when I'm home for the summer.

Even if you feel like there's nothing spectacular going on in your life at the moment, there is. You just need to go outside and find it.

I'm sure you're wondering what sparked this motivational and sappy blog post. Most of what I write about on here are play-by-plays of my trips and other experiences I've had abroad. This time I felt like reflecting and my walk through Regent's Park today definitely inspired my thoughts.

London is notoriously known as a rainy, damp, dark and gloomy place. I can't say that I argue with that most of the time, but like my friend Matt said today, we've been really lucky with the weather since arriving in January. The cold is nowhere near as harsh as it is at home and we haven't had any snow. The rain comes and goes and it has been a few weeks since our last purely sunny day. However, today was the epitome of perfection.

When I woke up I opened up my heavy curtains and the sun came pouring into my room like orange juice. I immediately felt refreshed and happy to be awake. I got ready for the day and then met up with Anna, Megan and Matt in Camden Town. On my way there and while I was waiting for those three to arrive, I noticed how many people were out and about. There was a much more cheerful mood in London and the people I passed by were wearing sundresses and short sleeves as they strolled down the street and basked in the warmth of the sun.

We made it to Primrose Hill which is one of the most beautiful places in London. You can see so much of the famous skyline from there and so many people were sprawled out on picnic blankets on the stunningly green grass. I had to take off my Columbia jacket because it was so warm and the breeze felt like heaven when it came.

We walked from Primrose Hill through Regent's Park and it was absolutely lovely. The flowers were blooming and that brought little pops of yellow, purple and white to the green landscape. The water was glistening like the Eiffel Tower at night and swans floated past the bridge as we journeyed further into the park. Not only was the weather perfect, but the company I had was as well.
Me and Megan during our walk through Regent's Park.

Megan, Anna, Matt and I went to Paris a few weeks ago and I think that especially since that trip we've become a lot closer. It was so nice to have them there and we were all in a really good mood. We laughed, took pictures and talked about life and it couldn't have made me feel better about my life at the moment.

The simplicity of the day contributed to how perfectly it turned out. We didn't make an elaborate and expensive trip to another country or see the touristy sights of London. We just walked through a park.

If I took the time to appreciate the beauty of the world every day like I did today, I would be so much happier. I have become much more aware of the beauty out there and how lucky I am to be alive lately and my main point is that I hope you can all stop and appreciate something or someone every day. Take a walk through the park or tell someone that you love them. Treat yourself to some ice cream or a hot cup of coffee. Just stop, close your eyes and breathe. You are alive, you are beautiful and you are going to do great things.

"The more one does and sees and feels, the more one is able to do, and the more genuine may be one's appreciation of fundamental things like home, and love, and understanding companionship.
-Amelia Earhart

Write soon!
xx Sheila

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