The Small Things

love life

Do you ever just take the time to think about how much the small events in your life have had a huge impact on transforming you into who you are now? Well I do, and there’s one common denominator I find in all of these small, but critical, life events. That is the presence of God’s love and grace. And this makes sense to me when I really think about it because whether we want to accept it or not, He has a plan for us and he uses these small events to piece it all together.  I was thinking about this the last couple of days and I thought it’d be interesting to trace back how I got to be where I am today because I am so grateful to be in the very position I am. I linked it all the way back to meeting one person in particular two summers ago. She worked in the same office building that I did in Irvine and I would occasionally see her during lunch breaks in the cafe so I decided to introduce myself one day, enter small event number 1. I found out that she was interning for her dads architecture company. I told her that I was an engineering intern, which was relatated to her working in the architecture office, and then we started to talk about our faith and the messages they were discussing at her church, which I had also been to before.

Right from the start, I could tell she was a genuine girl with values, and we would become good friends. She’d invite me to come hangout with her and some friends on the weekend in Hunting Beach, where I  met her friend who goes to CU Boulder, small event number 2. He noticed my wwjd bracelet and the cross I was wearing and told me about a club on campus he was leading called Young Life. We hit it off, talking about rock climbing and other outdoors stuff and agreed that we would definitely need to hangout when we were both back at school. That fall he invited me to meet him and some of the Young Life club members he had told me about for rock climbing at one of my favorite gyms, Boulder Rock Club. Of course I accepted, small event number 3! I met a bunch of really cool people who not only shared a love for rock climbing but also a love of Christ, something that is not always the easiest to come by in college, especially in such a large group. I really enjoyed climbing with them and made the trip up to meet them quite a few more times throughout the semester and loved it every time.

Anyways, before getting too far off topic, I want to relate this back to where I am today. When I first came to DePaul last fall, I attended the involvement fair to see what sort of activities I could get involved in and I was surprised to see a booth for Young Life club. Thinking back to the fun I had with my friends from CU Young Life, I decided to sign up for the mailing list and joined their orgsync page. Small event number 4. I quickly became wrapped up in other things, just having moved downtown and wanting to enjoy the big city life, so I didn’t make any efforts to pursue Young Life. And it wouldn’t be until this quarter that I would finally realize the effect of not having a close group of friends to share my faith with. I  decided I wanted to try and get involved with Young Life, so I RSVP’d an upcoming event I had seen on Facebook and received a message from a girl (who I am really good friends with now :)) in the club inviting me to the first Young Life club meeting of the quarter. I was on the fence about whether or not I was going to actually pursue getting involved with Young Life, but she seemed so nice and encouraging that I couldn’t help but become interested and excited about checking it out. Small event number 5. Since then, I have become pretty good friends with quite a few of the students in Young Life and have even made some friends through the church I started going to with them on Sundays. This has been such an amazing chain of events for me that has brought some amazing things into my life over the past 6 weeks.

So if you were paying attention to each of the small events I made note to, you would see that they are all in some way related back to God. And it wasn’t until I really thought back on it all that I was able to realize the plan that God has had for me all along. From “coincidentally” sharing the same lunch break room as a girl who would become a good friend of mine, to her friend “randomly” noticing my wwjd bracelet and offering for me to get involved with the CU Young Life when school started back up, to “casually” receiving a Facebook message from an ambitious girl who was eager to spread the love of Christ through DePaul Young Life, you can see that the overall relationship is the desire to share my faith with others. The group of friends I have made over the last 6 weeks I can honestly say have changed my life for the best in a time where I needed it most. I didn’t have many friends at DePaul up to that point, and especially not any who encouraged me to grow my faith in so many ways. They are inspiring, loving, compassionate, caring, welcoming, unique, crazy and weird (in a good way) and overall amazing people who have brought so much happiness to me. They probably have no idea how much of an impact they have made on my life in such a short period of time and I love everything about each of them and thank them so much for the way they’ve opened their arms and welcomed me into their life. I am so excited to see where life takes me from here, especially knowing God truly does have a plan for me. I knew that it was no “coincidence” when I received that Facebook message with the invite to join them for club meetings and I have so many examples to back it up. God will do amazing things in your life if you just allow yourself to fully trust him with everything, even the small things.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10



How Has This Winter Affected Your Life?

It’s been a long time since I last made a post but I’m sitting here in the computer lab having a mental block while coding for my SAS homework and figured, why not take a little break! So here we go.

Well, yesterday morning I was invited to attend a local church with a group of friends, which I had recently made though the Young Life club I decided I wanted to get involved with on campus. I had not yet found a church downtown to attend regularly and I felt very blessed about the new experience ahead! We were all making small talk and having a good time learning about each other (mostly me since I was new to the group), when one of my friends said she had to interview some people for a class.  I had overheard her ask someone near by, how this winter was affecting him? He responded with a description of how the season’s wintery conditions have left him unable to log flight hours for the aviation program he is in and then he went on to talk about his flying a bit more. My mind then began to wander off, as it often does uncontrollably.  My daydreaming started with the thought of flying and how cool it would be to learn how to fly my own plane someday, then I started to reminisce on the times Zephyr and I talked about flying, and the times he had gotten to fly with an acquaintance of his in a small prop plane in Colorado (flying is also a dream of Zephyr’s). Then I thought about rock climbing because this was an activity which took over both of our lives a few years ago and how I wanted to get back into gym climbing, since indoor climbing is all that exists in Chicago, all the while holding a conversation with some of my new friends. So to say the least, my mind was all over the place.

I was then caught a little bit off guard when my friend posed the same interview question to me, “how has this winter affected your life?” I answered rather quickly, not wanting to take too long to think as I so easily could have, with a few sentences about how this winter in Chicago had changed my outlook on the season, which I so much loved my whole life and now could not wait for it to end, and also the drag that it is to walk in the blistering cold to and from school each day.  At the time this felt like more of an impulsive answer because for some reason yesterday morning I just did not like the winter haha, but then I thought about it today and realized that maybe there was a deeper meaning to the way I responded.

Ever since moving back home to Chicago after graduating from the Colorado School of Mines last spring, my life has seen a lot of changes. Some good, some bad, but mostly just changes in general. In Colorado I always found ways to be active in the winter months even when there was a foot of snow on the ground or when it was below 0 outside, which was pretty rare compared to Chicago. Whether I was rock climbing at the local spots with my friends (indoors when it was snowy), mountain biking some of the local trails, weight training at the gym, heading up to the mountains to snowboard, or even setting up urban spots around Golden with the freeride guys, you could always find me doing some kind of physical and adventurous activity. When I was injured, which was quite frequently, I would still join my friends in their activities just so I could watch and feel as though I was partaking somehow. Regardless what I was doing, I loved winter. I could  not wait until the first snowfall, or opening day at A Basin, or watching Out Cold for the first time of the season because after all, winter was what first brought me to love Colorado. Skiing and snowboarding were a big part of my life growing up and when I had the opportunity to try living somewhere new for college, I knew Colorado was the place for me to do it.

However, things are different here in Chicago. I have found myself very busy with school and work, something I was quite used to at Mines, however, one thing has dramatically changed for me; my active lifestyle has really gone absent since the winter season began. I knew that moving home last summer would mean a lot of the activities that made up my life in Colorado would have to be replaced and this scared me, but I was determined to make it work. Since there were no mountains to hike and bike, I found myself going on more runs and picked up road biking (an activity which I’ve become very into). I went up to my lake house in Wisconsin every chance I got to wakeboard and just hangout on the lake. I found some mountain biking trails nearby which I loved to go and rip up in the mornings and evenings when it wasn’t too hot out. I even spent a few weeks last summer training for a sprint triathlon, something which I plan to do again this summer. I enjoyed urban cycling, and the thrill you get while whipping through the city in an extremely disordered fashion. I played golf again with some of the friends who I grew up playing with. I even got my climbing fix on at a gym nearby which I joined for a couple months. Overall, I was able to fulfill my active lifestyle with all of these new and exciting things to do. But then the winter months rolled around and changed everything.

For some reason, the winter here has just made me less motivated to go out and be active. I don’t have some of the best ski resorts within an hours drive, there’s no climbing gym at the rec center for me to go mess around on, there hasn’t been a day in the past month where the streets weren’t too snowy/icy to go for long bike rides, and my car sucks too much in the snow to even retreat up north to Wisconsin on the weekends. Most of all, my friends from here just don’t have the same drive that I do to stay active (at least as far as I know). Aside the cycling team, which I meet with weekly to practice indoors on the computrainers, I do not have a “group” of friends I can hit up and expect them to want anything to do with physical activities or adventures. For the most, the only activity most of my friends here want to do on the weekends is party, which definitely DOES NOT fulfill my active lifestyle. And everyone knows that it’s much more fun and easier to motivate yourself to do awesome things when you have other people to share the experience with.

So before I keep going off topic and rambling on, and since I really should get back to my programming homework, I will attempt to summarize my motive for this post which is answering the question “how has this winter affected my life?” While my initial answer was fairly simple, that this winter has made me no longer like the season, there was a much greater lesson to be learned. That sometimes in life we find ourselves losing sight of the things that really matter to us, the things that make us happy, and we cannot rely on others to bring us back to our roots. For me this has always been the outdoors and staying active, but now I find myself in the midst of a blistery cold winter living the big city life in Chicago. So rather than resorting to the conclusion that I no longer love winter, I must continue to find new things to fulfill my active ways even if the temperatures outside are -15 and most of my friends do not share the same passion to stay as active as I do. Because the further and further you get from your roots, the harder it is and longer it takes to get back to them. Then before you know it, you find yourself saying you hate things you once loved for so many reasons. So until I find myself back in Colorado, or somewhere similarly fulfilling, I might as well make the most of what I have in front of me. Heck, that’s where adventures begin!



The Meaning of Life (My attempt)

Where should I start? Well, how about where I am? I am writing this from a tablet, Samsung Galaxy 3 (not a stone tablet…), in a house in a small, boring suburb of a small town with little to do in the center of Colorado. I recently took a trip to Moab, Utah, where I skydived, camped, hiked and had a great time with some good friends (I guess a trip post could follow, after I get my thoughts out!). Also, I am unemployed, more or less have my engineering degree, lost my laptop to old age, living in my mom’s basement, I’m taking care of her (my) animals…and I’m bored out of my mind–I was until today.

Today my boredom got the best of me and convinced me to not be bored, even in a boring town there is something to do, if you want there to be. In the recent weeks the metaphor that life is a roller coaster was compounded upon me…again, for the umpteenth time. For example, I graduated, then I was supposed to go to Montana for two weeks on a trip that was promised to be a dirtbag adventure minimizing cost and maximizing life…to which I was uninvited a day before our departure, via text, can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed, or annoyed to not even have the courtesy of a phone call. Next, I put together an AFF class in Moab, where we took the first steps to getting a skydiving class a license, which included a solo jump. The problem now is that I have an even larger addiction to everything that includes flight; this all began with my first intro flight…hell maybe even my first RC plane, first airliner flight, first bird sighted!? From Moab,  I came back to the fast pace of American life that somehow surrounded me but did not include my unemployed self. The fast pace of hurrying up to wait — the stress induced by television drama, traffic lights, traffic, the asshole who looked at you funny, or even the unnatural feel that something needs to be done even if it doesn’t. Moab was fun because we didn’t have that. The whole nature of being in nature allowed time to slow down. The scenery was enough to allay the stress of traffic, the swim across the Colorado River was fueled by the challenge and was unhurried, if only by our own stamina. Corona Arch held no appointments, and we only had to make it to the airport on time for skydiving, which was an adventure in many experienced on this adventure.

Today I learned…I guess what I have known for quite some time. Happiness is out there, search for it, but allow yourself to slow down and go with the flow, for then you will find your happiness. Outside ideas fueled by family, friends, culture, media, etc. are unhelpful and lead to added stress. Today I found happiness in driving around with my dogs in the backseat, snouts out the window, the wind rolling through the car. But, that is not all I have found happiness to be. Happiness happens when you share your toil, strife and goals; when you try your hardest and triumph, or live to try again tomorrow; when your goal has been achieved and you don’t need congratulations because you know what went into that goal.

Today I was happy, last weekend I was happy. But now I need some new goals: career goals and moving out goals. I want to skydive, I want to be happy, I want to spend more time with the people I love, I want to adventure, I want to learn, I want to make people happy, I want to live…I may not want to enter an office.


Philosophy, Engineering, and a Literate Brother

This previous Christmas my brother gave me two books, Desert Solitaire and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which was refreshing as I previously thought that he didn’t read…or maybe he couldn’t! Recently I was reading Atlas Shrugged, which was a couple of books into my recent pursuit of philosophical knowledge. Thinking back on it, I believe that I have been seeking philosophical knowledge for a lot longer than recently, probably since I found Coelho’s The Alchemist in Borders when I was a freshman in high school, or even back to elementary school when I wanted to learn everything about the Greek, Norse, and Egyptian religions and Pantheons. I digress, perhaps engineering and philosophy go hand in hand. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t pretend to be a philosopher, understand philosophy, or even know how to participate in a philosophical debate…although I do enjoy debating thought, religion, and why we do the things we do. As I was saying, both engineering and philosophy deal with the pursuit of understanding and knowledge. In the current book I’m reading, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the author is a former mental patient who went through a successful treatment of shock therapy and is on a motorcycle trip back to where he lived prior to the treatment explaining philosophy and the thoughts that his previous alter ego, Phaedrus, was struggling with prior to his mental break down. The book is explained in a series of Chautauquas, or lesson learned by experience, and provides many thought provoking theses upon philosophy, which I am learning is the pursuit of why we do things, why we think, how we explain the world around us, etc. These Chautauquas aren’t just about higher thinking and miniscule points, but about everyday actions and considerations. For example, one of the points that keeps coming back to my mind is when the author (Robert M. Pirsig) describes the difference between classical and romantic ideologies. He explains how classical thinking considers functional items a thing of beauty, regardless of the outward appearance, and romanticists only rely upon the external properties of an item to gauge its beauty. This point was relevant to me because since August I have been designing and building a miniature Baja Car for the Society of Automotive Engineer’s collegiate competition. Our school is a small engineering school at the foot of the Rockies, we have had very little funding from the school and only vague interest from outside companies, this made designing our car a greater challenge than larger schools with dynasties of SAE Baja teams. So, in response to our lack of funding, we have spent many hours in the machine shop learning how to craft the majority of our parts. This has allowed me to experience the classical side of life, I have personally machined a large portion of the car and have seen beautifully clean pieces of metal be brazed into dark masses of romantically hideous parts that are classically beautiful. I’m stilling passing my way through the book, but every point seems to create a new way to ponder life and thought. Sometimes I ponder too hard, and the result is a need to get words out there; put my thoughts to the world and let them meander, change and be disputed, to be formed by influences both literary and physical.


What Makes You Itch?

Today Gallivant brought up a video I had previously seen and forgotten about that has me in a strangle hold. The video, below, is a lecture by a philosopher I had previously not heard of, Alan Watts. I’ll let you get into the video before I carry on.

As you may already know, Galli and I are examining the possibility of going to Canada to work for a Heli-Ski company for the early years of our post-school lives…this undertaking would be: amazing, terrifying, stressful, dirtbaggy, possibly debilitating, exciting, once in a lifetime, life-changing, dramatic, explorative, terrible, awesome… The problem is starting. The motivation is there, but the stress of thinking about leaving friends, family, loved ones, children (not quite…). Our Country. Our Homes. Everything we have ever known about laws, culture, borders, locations… The dream is there, but the fear is strong. Family against the bleak financial future of a dirtbag in a heliski company, friends making 5 or 6 figures out of college nervous for the same financial future. The drive is there, but the ties are strong. Will there be a job after? Will this become a hobby that pays the bills? What will happen to us? Will the world as we know it disappear? I think not.

In my limited experience, a month over 22 years (roughly 8068 days), I have found that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” as Santiago, the main character in Coelho’s “The Alchemist”, finds on his journey to accomplish his Personal Legend. Furthermore, occurrences, could they be called coincidences?, keep happening that make me believe this more and more.

Watts speaks about college students, could be why he resonates with me, who try to go out into the world to find what they want to do. At first they are worried about making money, but as he claims, “[it is] better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way”. I believe this to be true. In my short time, I have found that to do things you do not find pleasant to be annoying and even unhealthy. Also, Watts asks one of the very questions that I have been asking myself; “what sort of a situation would you like? … What would you like to do if money were no object?”. Ask yourself this. What are your answers? Are you doing them? My answer is many things and no respectively. I would love to fly; any kind really: single prop, multi prop, helicopter, paraglider, hangglider, wingsuit, skydive, zip line, rope swing… I would love to climb, to ski, to build, to tinker, to be outdoors, to backpack, to ride horses, to play with my dog, to…the list is endless. Am I achieving my goals? I get to tick one big one off of my list in June. I am building and designing a baja car with my team who has become like a family to me. I get to see friends that I never hope to leave everyday but I also remember those who are far away and not as active in my life. But alas, I see that the future is attainable. You cannot mourn every failure, but you must accept failures and see them for what they are, for then you can improve upon them. I do not intend to allow this opportunity to be a failure.


The Musings of a Sick Mind

I’m sorry to draw you in with a title like that and not provide you with the musings of a serial killer, a sufferer of down-syndrome or even a schizophrenic (at least I don’t think so…). What follows are the cold induced musings of yours truly (maybe I am schizophrenic, or just channeling the writing style of Alex and his droogs). I have had a couple today, which will follow in a list for your browsing convenience. But first, some background! I have a cold. I went to class today to sit through the only class that takes attendance- robotics – I turned in my fluids project and I came home to eat soup, drink water, sleep, watch my new favorite show “Sherlock”, and wallow in my bodies attempt to rid itself of whatever is afflicting me. Between naps and half-alertly watching shows on my tablet, I took the advice from a recent Leadership Summit I went to…or is it Socrates? It doesn’t matter, I thought about stuff and asked why:

  • Why do people want to sit on the couch and do nothing so much? It sucks! You can do that when you’re sick and infirm…I’m already bored!
  • Why does cough syrup taste so good? I mean the orange flavor doesn’t taste like oranges, but you can drink it with none of that post-shot shiver…don’t people not want to be sick? It should taste terrible so you want to recover and stop drinking that crap!
  • Why does daytime TV suck!? Nobody watches it, get a job or education…
  • Why does all TV go off of your emotions? I mean Honey Boo Boo, the Bachelor, Survivor, 24, the Following, World’s Worst Tenants…the list goes on. I know that’s how you get people interested-by grossing them out, scaring them, making them hope for true love, anything with emotions-but come on! It stresses me out and annoys me…
  • Why don’t people take care of themselves? ?????? ???? ??? ?
  • Why are the old looked down upon, shunned and ignored? You will probably be there someday…
  • Why do I have so many questions and no capacity to answer? I seriously have a ton of questions.
  • Why am I letting my food go cold? Because I have a compulsion to do things…sometimes. Actually a lot of the time.
  • Where have all the cowboys gone? Nobody ever answered the question in that song.
  • Why is there a human connection? Why do I miss people, hope to hear from them, want to see them?
  • Why do I think? Why do you think? Do we think the same? Do we have the same thoughts, questions? Do we see things similarly? I seriously doubt it.
  • Why do people have trouble talking about thoughts and feelings? You feel them, don’t you wonder if people think or feel the same way?
  • Why do people have trouble articulating? I do because I’m already thinking about the next subject on a link that people seldom follow or understand.

Enough for now. My mind is full of questions again, we’ll see what happens. If you care to leave a comment I would love to hear about it, discuss it, contemplate it. I have to eat my cold dinner now. Goodbye.


what to do on days like these

After spending a week in Breckenridge, CO with an amazing group of people living the life of ski bums, then heading home for three weeks to hangout with family and life-long friends and ultimately returning to the beautiful rocky mountain state with a broken collar bone just has a bittersweet taste to it. All of the activities which have led to my love for Colorado are now put on hold while I wait for the healing magic to take place. Which leaves me saying to myself on beautiful 60 degree days, “What the hell am I supposed to do with myself?” I was slowly getting used to the lack of mobility while home, but coming back to the origin of my outdoor adventurist mentality has me writhing with anticipation. After a successful surgical experience on Friday, I only have 6 more weeks until I will be free to return to my normal lifestyle. Until then, I will need to find ways to kill time (Schoolwork, grad school applications, music and a lot of Dexter). I will also be doing a lot of day dreaming, This way when I am ready to get back out there I will have a much more profound purpose and appreciation for what I do. But for now, we just wait.

– Galli