Alas, after 5 long years of waiting, I have lost my Burn-ginity! I finally understand the magic and mystery the Playa has to offer, and how 6 days in the desert can evoke every human emotion within the spectrum. The question is, in the midst of the benevolent chaos, will you eat or be eaten? As I'm decompressing and reflecting on this experience, the following learnings come to mind. I'm recognizing being aware is the first step, the true work comes in the integration that follows... Ever a work in progress, every bit worth the process <3 Enjoy~
TOP 10 LEARNINGS:
1. When s**t comes up....sometimes, the wisest thing to do is just to feel. Go into that feeling and surrender. No need to intellectualize things, use logic to "figure it all out", just breathe, feel deeply, and observe yourself without judgment.
2. What's obvious to you is not what's obvious to everyone else... also the word obvious is a bit condescending and inaccurate most times. There's no need to be "right" all the time, no need to project yourself onto others. Just be, breathe, and keep seeking your own truths.
3. Judgments of others arise from suppressed judgments of ourselves... we've refused to observe, accept, and learn from. He/she who is free finds no flaws in others to see.
4. Everything is impermanent. Every high/low we experience is like a swinging pendulum. Remembering this helps cultivate a deeper awareness and appreciation for all ends of the spectrum... as well as restore hope in the midst of hopelessness and starve the ego when things do appear to continually go "your way"
5. Selflessness is necessary for a sustainable community. The more you participate, think of ways to contribute, appreciate, and help rather than consume or maximize your end of the "transaction"... you make way for authentic bonds and acts of service. The former is far more fulfilling and inspiring in the short and long-run. What does your own personal ratio Contribution: Consumption say about you?
6. Self-reliance is way underrated. Being able to take care of yourself, regardless of the environment or situation, figure out creative solutions when you don't have all the tools you think you "need" is GOLD. Being able to pick up on the fly, get by with what you have, and live without attachments is a powerful example to set. Not to mention, you'll feel much lighter and free wherever you'll be.
7. An attitude of gratitude will sustain inner-peace. You are and that is more than enough. You are alive, breathing, beautiful, and conscious, and you already have all you need to thrive. Everything else is a luxury and an honor to partake in. This mentality will keep you humble, looking at every interaction and experience with fresh eyes, and most importantly maintain an open heart.
8. You're always at the right place at the right time. There's a constant stream of FOMO, especially in a highly stimulating environment such as Burning Man. However, I've found when you surrender and let yourself be guided by natural in-the-moment curiosities and authentic self-expression, the ultimate results that follow are far far greater, more pleasurable than you could've ever imagined. Letting go of expectations and attachments will bring you all you seek and more.
9. Love is the only thing in this life that matters, everything else is BS. You're either motivated in life by love or fear... Do you take a stand for love or react out of fear... of the unknown, of rejection, of being hurt again, of being judged...? It's a natural tendency for us to slip into the latter thinking we are protecting ourselves, when in reality we are just shielding ourselves from emanating and letting more love in. The ego tries to tell us there's some self-gratifying gain to living through a lens of "separateness", but the heart knows better. The unconditional love the Universe has to offer you is infinite and boundless. However, you must be open and willing to receive.
10. Start and end the day with Self-Love. The body listens to what the mind says. When you communicate deep appreciation, connection, and commitment to your own health and well-being, this forms a strong foundation for anything else that comes your way. Starting and ending the day with self-love, whether it be through meditation, exercise, positive affirmations, nourishment, or self-care of any other way, is so empowering and restorative. After all, you yourself deserve your own best quality of love more than anyone else in this universe. I promise it's the best investment you'll ever make. Remember: "You can only meet others as deeply as you've met yourself. " Imagine how raw and deep our interpersonal interactions could be if we were all more committed to loving ourselves first... Why not begin today?
All in Love & Light,
Up until this past year, I've always felt the compulsion to "be in control". As soon as plans, trips, events, hangouts, etc. would turn out differently than what I had "originally planned", chaos ensued. I would feel myself begin turning red hot, as waves of panic and worry consumed my mind. Nowadays, I am gradually understanding what it means to surrender.
Surrendering = cease resistance
Rather than resisting the unfolding of the present moment, I learn to accept, embrace, and eventually dive into the full beauty of this very moment. Whenever unpleasant feelings or situations arise, I've recognized the accelerated benefit of following these 3 steps:
1. Accept- this goes hand in hand with surrendering, the more we resist or denounce what is already unfolding, we put ourselves through unnecessary suffering. Remember, "pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional". Being aware of the situation and moving into a place of acceptance will help the uneasiness/judgments/pain to flow through you rather than become a part of you and create energetic blocks.
2. Understand- Eventually, when your egoic mind is able to detach from what is, what should be, and what is not... you will come to see what truly is. Through observing the situation, yourself, and others without judgment and only compassion, you begin to understand why things are happening the way they are. Every unpleasant experience and interaction is meant to reveal to you a deeper part of your beingness. You see and understand the opportunity to break free of your karmic debt in order to flow back into a state of inner-peace and easy love.
3. Appreciate- Ultimately, when you allow the moment to unfold naturally, gently, without projecting your ego onto the situation or trying to dictate any outcome, you'll see with clarity why things happened in the manner which they did. You'll soon realize the sweet nectar of the experience (regardless of how pleasant or unpleasant), to wear on your tool belt as you carry your positive learnings along the way. When you recognize the growth potential hidden from plain sight contained within every unpleasant experience, you begin to appreciate the experience for the increasingly beautiful, wiser, and radiant YOU you become as a result... each time!
I truly hope my personal experiences connect with a deeper part of you and empower you to become the best version of yourself.
"Ever a work in progress, yet every bit worth the process"- TT
Love & Light My Beauties <3
This past weekend, I had the joy and pleasure of venturing to my first camping-music festival ALONE. I've previously gone to concerts alone before, with plans to meet with friends there, but never a multi-day all engrossed festival experience hours away from home. I was incredibly fortunate to find myself camping near old friends (& their friends) from college. Having a huge (20+) close-knit group within reach and access to me certainly gave me the best of both worlds. I made a clear priority to experience as much of the festival alone as possible and here are a few of my biggest takeaways:
I would highly recommend a solo-festing experience to anyone daring enough to level-up their traveling experience and relationship with yourself. I often relate being at music festival to being immersed in an alternate anarchist reality. No true constructs of society "as we know it daily" are pronounced, and you are exposed to so much new dynamic energy and so many like-minded individuals. Energy exchanges are focused around bartering, service, art, and connection rather than driven by a capitalistic, you vs. me shroud over the subconscious. Everything you witness and experience is a direct result of the intentions and actions of the collective. You see the best nature of people arise as the call for community and desire to create a tremendous harmonious experience for everyone resonates deeply with most every attendee. My heart and soul feel so vibrant and full of love after being in this type of environment for several days. Strangers become neighbors, neighbors become friends, and friends become mirrors reflecting back your own spirit, the one universal spirit. The feelings of one love and one-ness are well within grasp around every corner and with every interaction. I've learned it takes responsibility, clear intentions, and a balanced heart to make the most of this experience. Yet again, the same can be said about every novel experience. Happy fest'ing y'all.
In Love & Light,
... and how to grow and conquer them!
For the most part, most who know me would agree I am generally a very happy and peaceful individual. Like anyone else, I too have my days, sometimes series of days, where I find the task of leaving my bed undesirable, unfathomable, and uninteresting. Sometimes my depression sneaks back up on me, when I am least prepared, and almost suffocates me. During this time, I cannot adequately take care of my basic needs (health of spirit, body, and mind), I cannot assume responsibility for any of my previous commitments, and everything within me just feels heavy. I feel weak, I feel more vulnerable to vicious negative thought loops, and I feel dis-empowered & unmotivated. Simply put... I don't know what to do with myself or where to even start.
Strangely enough, these random spouts seem to follow days of high productivity, feeling great, and most other things going rather swimmingly.. yet they still exist.
What I've learned...
This is a bold opportunity to clearly see the distinction between uplifting and the more humbling experiences in life, both which hold equal power in revealing more about our own true nature for maximal soul growth.
Oftentimes, I mistake "external successes" - manifesting material/financial/relationship success, receiving recognition & validation for hard work/ job well done from mentors, peers, friends and family, completing a "to-do" list, etc. as a substitute for true, meaningful soul growth. What I mean by soul growth: moving beyond identification with the physical/superficial world, and growing towards spirit identification. The acceptance, understanding, and living as one universal collective consciousness. Treating life and every moment as if "you are not a wave in the ocean, but rather you are the ocean". Instead of continuously defining yourself and the quality of your life based on the material possessions, rewards, superficial, financial, external appearances/forms of your reality, you focus on molding your soul, expanding upon the innermost unique qualities and infinite power you hold to shape a harmonic experience for yourself and all life you share this space with. It is living the truth of the phrase "we are all one, I am you, you are me, together we are we" ...rather than getting caught up in ego games, selfish patterns of indulgence, and inflating our own sense of self-importance.
In light of very new learnings I am still digesting regarding the "tantric path"=
"It is about saying "yes" to what is happening, rather than denying it, judging it, rationalizing it, excusing it. If there is a feeling of anger, I say "yes" to its existence and create a ritual around it. Saying "yes" to anger does not necessarily mean expressing it. Only after I acknowledge that there is anger, the next step reveals itself to me. The acceptance of what is brings us deeper to ourselves. The denial of it creates separation."
...it becomes clear I must accept any uncomfortable feelings in order to store the positive teachings and ultimately make my way back to discovering the omnipresent and abundance of ecstasy in life-energy all around me. I must not judge, fight, resist, or denounce any unpleasant experience, and learn to welcome the unwelcomed. -For this is how we surrender, accept, understand, and ultimately grow to appreciate the unpleasant experiences of the moment.
The worst thing I/you could do in my opinion, would be to let these unpleasant moments define us, truly rob us of our infinite potential and radiance for any extended period of time. They are merely a brief reflection into the current condition of our soul and subconscious mind, just revealing deeper truths we may (choose to) be blinded to on a normal day-to-day basis or seek escape from. There's no need to run from yourself, because truthfully, we all experience these soul/life/personal growth pangs. Every feeling of brief discomfort is the death of a thought/obsession/habit/self-dialogue that must occur to create space for love to fill that void. It is up to us to let-go and ultimately be present enough to consciously choose what to fill that void with.
Always in Love & Light,
You've heard this saying before, but what does it really mean?
It has dawned upon me that we live in a society where it's okay to put others down, exercise judgment before reflection, and point out our individual differences, rather than relishing in our similarities. Why is this so? It pains me when I see a talented, bright individual stuck in a vicious cycle of self-doubt, self-blame, and de-motivation. When we get upset with ourselves and trapped in our minds, the scariest and darkest thoughts arise. Stop that, put an end to that right now. When terrible things happen, I'd like to think there are two options always: Option A, and Option B:
Though it would appear Option A seems "obvious" or preferred, for some reason we find a natural tendency to fall towards to Option B, almost all the time. Eventually, if we're lucky, we find ourselves crawling towards Option A, sometimes sooner than later. I've dedicated one of my New Year's Resolution's towards "acting" as opposed to "reacting". In an effort to become more emotionally intelligent, one dimension-self management, embodies an important principal of being responsible for your emotions. While it is perfectly natural and OK to react to unexpected bad news, disappointing life events, and uncomfortable situations, you'd be surprised how beneficial "thinking about how to respond" to an event before simply "reacting" can be to your own emotional health, as that of the people around you. The harsh reality is, the bad news has already happened, nothing can be changed about the past, but we can certainly change how we feel in the present to jumpstart into a happy future. I'm not trying to dismiss the gravity and intensity of a traumatic experience, merely suggesting a method to overcome small bumps in the road by quickly overcoming, accepting, and being proactive about the situation. We all are imperfect human beings on the search for purpose and meaning in our lives. When you see someone else in distress or in low-spirits, reach out to them! This can be as simple as a genuine smile, or approaching them and initiating a conversation asking about their day. Anything to let them know you genuinely care. I cannot emphasize how important it is that we reach out to the world around us, we are all fighting our own struggles and need all the help we can get. You are one-of-a-kind, beautiful, smart, funny, and creative! Do not let anyone, any test score, any figure of authority, anything in this universe tell you otherwise. Now let's make a pro-active To-Do List and go get 'em Tiger!
A childhood family friend of mine has blossomed into an incredibly talented young lady. Not only is she entering her Freshman year at Stanford University, Ann was previously a Seventeen Magazine cover girl contest finalist in 2011, (still is) an avid marathon runner, brilliant freelance photographer, fashion icon, and only 18 years old.
Ann He, is one rad girl. (check her out more of her work here: http://annhe.com)
This summer, our paths crossed, and we discussed the possibility of a John Lennon and Yoko Ono inspired photoshoot over a dank-ass breakfast at Buzzbrew's. A few weeks later, the brilliant young nugget pulled up to our driveway in Arlington, and we made it happen.
Here is a peak of some of the most intimate moments captured between my love, Ross, and I. :)
A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending Art Outside with my best friend, Megan, and boyfriend, Ross. This would mark our first "legit" camping festival together, and we couldn't have been more excited.
The festival took place at Apache Pass in Rockdale, Texas, the same venue that previously hosted Nocturnal. Being an all-ages event, we didn't know what to expect. Luckily, the festival was set up in a way that allowed campers to roam in and out of festival grounds however as they please, bringing whatever they please, all within a 5 minute or so walking proximity. This was pretty nifty. In the most hypothetical sense, a group of sly young adults could backpack a 6 pack and a few Cohibas and not have to worry one bit. Seeing as how uptight security is at most music festivals nowadays, this added feature of convenience was a mega plus to the entire experience.
The art displayed throughout the festival was absolutely incredible. Some of the art seen included massive art installments, interactive sculptures, live artists painting alongside live djs, and many more. The enchanting, thought provoking, and bizarre displays led me to a whole greater appreciation for artists.
The following are close up images of one particular artist's work by the name of Christian. This humble young man is simply brilliant.
About a year and a half ago, I challenged myself to reach out to a complete stranger and converse for at least 5 minutes every day. The inspiration for this began after a stranger reached out to me days prior. I was having an awful day trudging about for no apparent reason, when a stranger at a gas station asked how my day was. The exchange was brief, unexpected, and startled me a bit.
I paused a moment before answering, "Fine, and you?"
The stranger responded, "It's a beautiful day to be alive."
We said our goodbyes and parted ways not thinking much about the exchange, but those 7 words jogged endlessly in my mind later that night.
"It's a beautiful day to be alive."
This became the phrase I adopted into my life, and the phrase I live to spread. The 20 something seconds that stranger shared with me would forever change my perspective on life. We live in a world filled with never-ending stimulus, stressors, piles of work, fun, friends, pain, deadlines, what-have-you, and oftentimes get caught up in the chaos of life. It's important to take a step back and be reminded of all the wonderful things and privileges we have to be thankful for. Most importantly- the gift of being alive. Every day on this earth is something so unique, precious, such a great opportunity for learning- from the environment, within yourself, amongst others, from books, etc, and sharing the wealth of knowledge and experiences you've gained with the world around you. Things will go wrong at times, decisions may lead to unfavorable outcomes, we'll make mistakes, but that's OK. That's what makes life so beautiful, because no matter how impossible, how painful, how awful and awkward life gets, it goes on. Whether you decide to suffer and trudge along in face of defeat, or put on your boxing gloves and tackle life with a small pep talk and positive attitude, it's all up to you to decide -and you have the power to change your mind at any time. Everything is mind over matter. Prep yourself mentally, surround yourself with good influences, be a good influence to others, and you'll be prepared to conquer any challenges you face.
The lasting impact this stranger's words had on me made me realize YOU have the power to influence someone else's life. You have the power to reach out and inspire, but first you must lead by example.
I challenge each and every one of you to reach out to a complete stranger and converse for atleast 5 min. each and everday.
Whether it be while you're waiting to check out at HEB, waiting to pick up your prescription, ordering coffee at Starbucks, just do it!!!! It'll be a bit uncomfortable and intimidating at first, but I promise you it's completely worth it. What have you got to lose? If it goes terrifyingly awkward, odds are you won't ever run into that person again. If it goes well (which I know it will), then you've just made a positive impact in someone else's life, gained a bit more insight, or perhaps even shared a few laughs, the possibilities are endless.
Why live in a world amongst strangers when you can live in a world amongst friends?
Biggest Game of the Season!
Now I'm not the biggest football fan, not even close, BUT this was a very special day in Aggieland. Last year, A&M had a phenomenal 1st year in the SEC and managed to beat a strong rival, Alabama 29-24. Spirits were high (both the type sold at Spec's and the other one that makes you feel on tingly inside) as College Station welcomed around 70,000 out of town spectators (including ESPN). This year, I decided to beat the heat and enjoy the game with good ol' A.C, fresh pours, old friends, and new friends on the beloved Northgate. (Don't get me wrong, I had my fair share of tailgatin' and redass fun just prior to kick-off).
We came across some Alabama folk, whom I must say were incredibly pleasant and a pleasure to meet. I've heard awful terrible rumors about not-so-friendly Alabama fans, but the few I crossed paths with today really blew that thought out the water. Throughout the course of the game, we shared hookahs with one-another, cracked jokes, and sipped on mimosas. I'm not sure if college football gets much classier than this, hahaha. The best part: the Alabama fans thanked us for our kindness and generosity, and I quote, "You always hear bout how Aggies are so great and friendly, but y'all really lived up to the expectation…" I couldn't feel more proud to be an Aggie after hearing those words. This just goes to show, people will never fail to amaze you and it's ultimately up to you to make the best of your surroundings.
The Aggies fought long, fought hard, but were unable to defeat 'Bama.
It's okay Ags, we'll get them next time!
First Blog Post, Wooooh!
This is an incredibly exciting moment for me in my life. I've been able to experience and enjoy such a wide spectrum of activities, foods, people, etc, and this is my way of bringing you the best of the best! I am an aspiring fitness fanatic, a crafting junkie, clean eating brat, chocoholic, and aspiring business student. I truly believe and hope I can change the world someday, and this is my first step by leading through example. Many routines of my life are designed to maximize efficiency, happiness, and health, while minimizing stress and any kind of poo-py feeling. I hope that by sharing some glimpses of my life, that I am able to inspire, educate, and bring a smile to your face.
This is only the beginning, and I am screaming on the inside with excitement :)
all my love- Tong-Tong
Welcome to the inner musings and mind gems that I've harnessed from the thought streams that scurry across mind. Here you'll find the experiences, reflections, and learnings I feel worthy of documenting as my journey unfolds.