Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My social anxiety

I suffer from moderate to severe social anxiety along with waves of severe depression. I try not to allow my mental illness define me, but I do not hide it from those around me, since it is a part of who I am. I can almost remember the day when I stopped wanting to go to stores or visit friends. Don’t get me wrong, I was never the most social kid. Yet, before I was 19, I had a few friends and went out on Friday nights. Then one summer, I stopped calling people and began to be content being within the four walls of my home. There was nothing that had happened, there was no traumatic incident. The outside world suddenly became scary and unknown.

Now, some years later, I am a university student trying to make my way out of school. My boyfriend is working very hard to convince me that I deserve to think of myself as an equal to my peers and deserve to be treated as such. University was not what I expected. I have to spend a lot more time arguing with professors then I thought I would. I have been granted accommodations from the university, such as a quiet room to write exams, but a lot of my professors seem to think these accommodations are not necessary. I am often told that my illness is inconvenient. I know, but I am trying to convince them (and myself) that I am worth it.

I would just like to thank those who helped me when I didn't think I deserved it. People like my boyfriend, and my current close friends, are the reason I am alive today. Though everyday, I still need to make the choice to get out of bed and it still takes all the energy that I have, I am glad I am around to make that decision.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Are we gods?

Disclaimer: Not Gods; I'm talking about petty, little everyday gods."Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"

Under this context, do you think our society would look magical and god-like to someone from 1764? Consider the evidence:
- We can communicate instantly with anybody around the world (cell phones)
- We can learn (almost) anything from home (Internet)
- We can get from one place to another in the world quickly and safely
- We can carry most of our wealth with us and make transactions everywhere (credit cards)
- We have instant access to (almost) every piece of art, entertainment and debate (Internet again)
- Many other things: Microwaves, online translation, wireless everything, flying cars (ok, maybe not!)

If you think its possible we look a little god-like to our time-traveller, let me ask you the next question: Do you feel like a god? Why not?

Maybe we are at a great moment in human history but are too busy trying to make sense of the noise to appreciate it.

PS: If you ever wondered how to survive were you to be transported more than 230 years into the past (and who doesn't) my answer would be: invent the hot air balloon. It's probably the simplest and most useful piece of technology not invented by then.

Enjoy life!

Girona, Spain

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sophie's World Wonders

Dear Listservians,

Sometimes, I feel my life is not as exciting as I thought it would be when I was 12. I try to mitigate that feeling by going on little adventures with calculated risks.

With your suggestions, I'd like to make a bucket list of uncommon, odd, curious spots for myself to visit, one day. Of course, the best ones are free.

Send me a quick note with an idea of what I could put on my list.
If you've already been to your singular point of interest, took a picture and feel like sharing it with the rest of the pack, please do so! Use the hashtag #SophiesWorldWonders on Instagram. Don't forget to let us know where it is.

Here are some examples... As you can see, it doesn't have to be super fancy:

- I took the picture I posted on Instagram this week. It's a historic sign in New Hampshire, off route 3 near Lincoln, about "The Betty and Barney Hill Incident". It's funny because it's super official, but the sign talks about how Betty and Barney have been abducted by aliens.

- In Montreal, there's a place on Ste Catherine street where the Princess Theater used to be. The Great Houdini got punched in the belly there, backstage, by a McGill student, and died a couple of days later of a ruptured appendix. The building is gone, but someone draw a Houdini graffiti in the alley. Most Montrealers don't know about how one of them killed a legend.

- In London, UK, off the Strand, on the side of a building, you can see a Roman bath through the basement window. There's an outside switch to turn the light on. That's it. A peek of a Roman bath through a dirty window full of algae. With a light switch.

- On the island of Brac, in Croatia, a pine tree is growing on the roof of a chapel.

- There's a half-day hike in the Appalachians called "Indian Head". The view on top is stunning. When you get back, stop by the waterfall to pretend you are in Jurassic Park.

Thanks in advance.

Montreal, Canada

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I'm Listening

I know she’s frustrated. They say we should gradually surrender the things of our youth as we age but I can’t help but rail against that notion as I see her struggling to feed herself, to even say hello.

A relic of the past, she stares at me with wide eyes.

With so much wisdom and experience contained in one person, I ask the question I had been meaning to ask for a while now. She had been married to my Grandfather for over 50 years until he passed.

‘What’s the key to a successful marriage?’

Unable to name her brothers and sisters just a few moments before, I expect a confused, disjointed response.

She turns her attention to me with a hawk-like focus and steely states ‘Listen to each other. Always listen to each other.’

In a moment, like the conversation had never happened, she’s back wondering what’s for dinner that night.

I’m thankful I listened.

In six months I’ll be walking down the aisle to my best friend.

If you’re married, engaged, in a relationship, or single, I would be more than honored to hear what you have to say about what you believe creates a successful marriage.

For our wedding, I will incorporate your advice at our wedding tables- featuring your first name and your location.

I’m grateful for your time and for your unique insight!

We look forward to hearing from you!

Kelsey + Kevin
Washington D.C.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

As I write these words, I am 18 years old, 8 months, and 3 w...

As I write these words, I am 18 years old, 8 months, and 3 weeks old. I can’t speak for every 18-year-old on the planet, but I think this is a funny age. You are just old enough to know how young you really are, you are full of idealistic thoughts that you sheepishly acknowledge as maybe just a bit too idealistic. You still feel like a child parading in adult’s clothing. You recognize that you probably don’t know all that much.

So here’s my question for the community - what did you wish you could tell yourself when you were 18? It can be life advice. It can be a story. It can be a baking recipe.

I don’t know all that much, but I’d like to learn.

Princeton, NJ

Friday, October 24, 2014


What is UP Listserver's?!

I live in NYC, so I will keep this brief and to the point. I understand that time is money, and Your time is valuable. What do You do with this precious commodity? I was once on an interview and that was the only real "interview" question I was asked, he said "What can you say is your biggest accomplishment in your 25 years of life?" I sat there, and millions of answers rushed to my head and raced to the tip of my tongue, and before I could reason with myself and give a million dollar answer, I replied "helping people".

I didn't always believe this, and it wasn't until I was 18 and had tried to fill a void in my soul with too many pointless things, and failed. My life drastically changed for the better when I realised that it was not a "what" that could fill my void, but a "who".

Instead of going to college when I graduated highschool, I took an opportunity to travel the world. I joined an organization that sent me to Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, and live in Perth, Australia for 2 years. I did all of this traveling, while [most] everyone else my age was in college partying, for 4 years. I'm not saying I am better than them, if I had been at college I would have definitely been a beer pong queen [I now blame my lacking skills in this game on this fact]. Out of all the beautiful places I lived in and visited, the highlight is the people I met and hopefully helped. I could have been living a comfortable life in the Tri-State Area, but instead I was able to see how majority of the world lives ; with not enough food or clean water, sleeping on garbage heaps in slums, etc. etc. Seeing and experiencing different cultures popped my New Jersey bubble, and opened my eyes to how vast this world is, how invaluable people are.

The greatest accomplishment I have in my 25 years of life, started the moment I became a real Christian and actually started living for others and not just myself . The "who" was Jesus Christ, and my void began to not seem so hopeless anymore, the million dollar question finally seeming to have an answer, I had found hope. That same opportunity is available for You as well.

See, I truly believe that You, AMAZING You, were made for a specific purpose and unique design; and until You figure out what that is, or at least skim the surface, You will feel that void. You know what I'm talking about, that inexplicable void; that part of You that no amount of money or drugs or relationships, even.. coffee [gasp], will ever fill. So what are You waiting for, answer the question for yourself. If You don't like what You come up with, change it. And if you change it several times, and still don't like it, email me and I'll help. ;D

4 practical applications after reading this:

1] Find Your purpose in this life, help people, put others before Your own desires, look up Youth With A Mission [YWAM] it's the incredible organization I called home for 4 years.

2] Look up Hillsong Church, their music is incredible! I am going to the conference tonight in Madison Square Garden #NoOtherName, #hoLLA.

3] Take the "Now, Discover Your Strengths" assessment. Buy the book, take the quiz online, just take it!! Focus on Your strengths, and not Your weaknesses, and email me Your results! My first strength is "Positivity", I will definitely be able to help You get enthusiastic about Your results.

4] Find an Esthetician and get a facial!

Shout out to Melanie, You Win [insert trophy emojii here].


Thursday, October 23, 2014


Last night I almost had a three-some. I only needed two more people.

It’s a true story. Maybe. But more importantly, I hope it grabbed your attention or made you laugh. This timeless joke reminds me of an old school Mark Twain quote:

“Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile.”

I think there’s more to the quote, but you get the gist of it. Life is too short. If you can’t find something to laugh about every day, try harder. It’s out there. Don't take things so seriously. There's more to life than work. Find a healthy balance, and spend more time with your friends and family, and laugh with them. Uncontrollably. That's what ultimately matters in the long haul.

Shoot me an email back describing something that makes you laugh everyday and how you find a healthy work/life balance. Mine is slipping and could use some fresh new perspective and ideas. Or just say hello and where you're from. Would love to hear from you.