Moral Conscious and Ego

I have long anticipated the month of March 2019 as it is an important one for me that will shed light on where I will move this year. Over the last few months, I have done a relatively good job keeping most of my life under wraps yet suffered some consequences due to this intentional hiding. I am writing this in support of myself as well as to seek support from people who love me.

my yoga personality

my yoga personality

The last few months have been the most volatile in my mid-adult life. I still have not reached full-adult which is why I say mid-adult – I am definitely beyond the young adult stage though. Since November, limbo has been a state of being that continuously challenges and redefines my self-perspective. I have been forced to turn inwards, which is notably the scariest thing that I purposely avoid. As a person, I have done a great amount of healing yet I am still so far from where I want to be. Part of me believes that I am not ever supposed to reach a conclusion because I am meant to strive for my best-self no matter what age I am.

My journey to my best-self has been a power struggle between my moral conscious and ego. I work hard to be a humble person who approaches life in a conscious way; however, my ego and sense of pride very much gets in the way of this. I do appreciate that I am aware of this phenomenon because it allows me to constantly work on it as well as notice it when it is evident.

I thought I was doing well until recently when I noticed that I have filled my life with numerous fulfilling things. This has caused me to lose sight of my moral conscious. When I keep myself busy, it behaves as a coping mechanism so I do not have to deal with the root of problems.

My problem right now is that I have no fucking clue where I am moving to this year and what I will be doing there. There is not a thing, in this moment, that I can do about it either. Patience is something I have for other people but do not have for myself. It hurts me to admit it, but my moral conscious needs to hear it as much as possible in order to aid me in my own prosperity.

I allowed my ego to take control and eventually burn me out while convincing myself that this is okay because I am young. When in reality I am young, but this is not okay. I decided that rather than doing things everywhere, that I should stay home while I do them so I can further practice the meaning of patience for myself. Let me mention, I have discovered that issues I truly believed I took care of have slowly resurfaced in this process. This has given me an opportunity to deal with them though.

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Paris

OR D.C.

To deal with them through: studying for two language certificates, taking two courses, working on a large writing sample about global affairs and terrorism, working nearly full-time, enrolling in a 200hr YTT program, keeping up with my media platforms, and waiting for my graduate school admissions.

I have no idea how I am doing all of this, but it is my situation. All while under personal circumstances nonetheless. I need to learn how to find this balance between the mid-adult hustle and journey to best-self. They are dependent on each other. I rely on them, and maybe I need to also work on a balance between moral conscious and ego – come to think of it without either of them I would be super bizarre person.

Many of these things will conclude in March, therefore, I can open myself to new decisions and opportunities that will serve me. To be honest, I am extremely terrified of what is to come. I believe this may be the last time I leave home to pursue what I want in this life. What I want is a variety of things and it is my mission to find a place where I can incorporate them all – this is what will serve me on my journey

March, I am ready for you and the answers you will provide to me.

Our Relay Race

I’ve taken a small step back from everything and everyone the last few weeks. I needed some time to readjust to my new circumstances and to create new approaches for the direction my life is going in right now. While I was between New York City and Washington D.C., I received news that my Papa passed away.

This is extremely difficult for me as he was the only consistent and positive male figure in my life.

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Emilio Ybarra Martinez

A eulogy I wrote for my mother and I

My favorite stories told by my Dad were the ones that made him seem authentic and vulnerable. A majority of his stories were meant to engaged others for their entertainment. How he told my siblings and I that he invented the upside down pineapple cake, and claimed Shirley Temple died choking on potato chips; how he told his grandchildren that he was a retired red power ranger and had a damaged arm from a Jedi battle; how he told everyone countless Vietnam stories about how he jumped out of planes without a parachute and swam across oceans – accomplishing the impossible.

These are not the stories that help me remember who he was. I want to talk about the man behind the mask who was an important player within a relay race we are all part of. The man who was in fact genuine and more vulnerable than any of us could ever imagine.

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I recently read a book that contained a small passage reminding me of my dad. It was about a familial relay race shared between generations. Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation, but each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor.

In the end, the American dream is not a sprint, or even a marathon, but a relay. Our families don’t always cross the finish line in the span of one generation. But each generation passes on to the next the fruits of their labor. My grandmother never owned a house. She cleaned other people’s houses so she could afford to rent her own. But she saw her daughter become the first in her family to graduate from college. And my mother fought hard for civil rights so that instead of a mop, I could hold this microphone.
— Julian Castro

I couldn’t help but be reminded of my dad’s love for horse races after I read this, and the relay race each generation of our family is part of. This passage is about grit and unconditional love – that’s who my dad was at the end of the day. That’s who he was behind his superhero mask. He was a man who pursued grit and unconditional love in order to be the best son, best brother, best husband, best father, and best grandfather he could be to his family – a best friend to all who came across him. He made it his duty to always be the best because whatever we could do, he could do better.

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He plays an integral part in this generational race within our family. He gave us more and taught us more that will always be beyond us. It’s important to recognize and highlight his hard work because it was all for us. It was always for us.

The first leg of the race: His father, Emilio R. Martinez, taught him what it meant to manifest these exceptional characteristics. A man who immigrated to America after the Mexican Revolution, honored by President Echevarria of Mexico in 1972, and fought for equal wages and better working conditions for Mexican workers in Orange County. He had an undying love for his culture and people.

Then there is second leg of the race: His son, my father, Emilio Ybarra Martinez, learned from him. However, his radical love was for his family because that is who his people were and were always meant to be. He had two jobs growing up with his siblings: working on a bakery truck and picking oranges in Orange County. He worked picking oranges in the fields to provide more money for his family. He worked on the bakery truck so he could bring home bread to go with the soup his mom made so that his family would have a bigger dinner. My dad made it his responsibility to help his family in any way that he could.

He was drafted into the Vietnam war as a medic to serve his country while he longed for his family in California. He fought hard because it was duty to serve this country and strive for valor even in the weakest of moments and smallest of rations. He fought harder when he worked two jobs and went back to school to get those promotions that required an AA. I remember going to his night job with him cleaning office buildings because I didn’t want him to be alone. I remember laying into his chest when he hung over his business textbooks trying to get his degree in order to get that job all so he could provide more for us. Somehow, someway, through all of his hardships he still made time to party with his friends until dawn, go golfing, play his guitar and watch football in his outdated rocking chair. Never did he pass an opportunity to make a better life or pass an opportunity to live a better life. 

He never let someone tell him he couldn’t do something or couldn’t be something. He earned that job even if it meant that he had to work harder than the standard American man because that’s who he was. There was a time where we were almost taken from him and he couldn’t afford an attorney. Instead, he took matters into his own hands and studied in law libraries around Orange County to absorb as much knowledge possible to represent himself. He won that case, on his own, and gained full custody of his children. Never did he back down from a fight even if odds were against him. That’s when he fell in love with an incredible women who was his soul mate, Jeanne, that he felt confident in to teach his children what his parents taught him. A woman that equally fights a good fight because they shared the same sense of duty.

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It’s no coincidence that on his last day he went to the race track. It was the end of his race, my dad ran a damn good leg of the race, and it is now our turn to carry on his legacy as he carried on his parents’.  

Now we are in the third leg of the relay race: His children, my siblings, who have acquired fruits of his labor. Who were taught to resonate with his hard work, perseverance, and doing the right thing. He showed us what hard work meant. He once admitted to me that he did not know how to raise us: we slept on new couches every few months, dealt with crazy landlords, and could not release ourselves from this emotional rollercoaster. This upset us because we didn’t understand why this was the life we lived.

He pulled me aside one day: Mijo/a, you have to be tough because it’s a tough world.

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This is where we learned his grit. He was the best demonstration we could have had because he told us that we must take strides to survive, so we did. We did together as one family. It made us all hard, and these are all things he has given to us that we are lucky to have.

All so our children, his grandchildren who are the fourth leg of the race, could see stories and experiences that are similar to my dad’s life. He gave them his unconditional love so that they would be inspired to help others in this world. It’s no coincidence that our children are eager to make a difference. Their Papa taught them that they have the capacity to do whatever they put their mind to. Just like he did.

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He didn’t need to put on a superhero’s mask, because he was already a hero behind that. He was a hero not due to the stories that he told but the stories that he created that will live on for several generations to come. By his own experiences that he lived through as a charismatic individual who had unconditional love for the people in his life. All I can do now, all we can do now, is to give our thanks to him.

Thank you, Dad, for being that hard ass Latino who threw us around just to pick us back up and tell us that we need to be better. We will run a good leg of the race for you because you taught us how to run with purpose.

American Like Me: The Countryside

The light is different in the countryside. I can’t describe the feeling when you wake up before dawn to sit between hills waiting for the first glimpse of light to peak over them and through the trees. All of that patience to feel the first bit of warmth in the morning on your skin holds a promise for the rest of the day. It provides this passage to be happy in that moment and every moment that follows until it says goodnight.

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I’m a fan of waking up early because of this. Not just the light, but also the silence that comes with it. I have learned to fall in love with this instance that takes over my body without making a single noise. It is nothing short of extraordinary, especially, when you are in a place that feels like home. I really haven’t felt this until I spent time in Girona, Spain. It was a familiar feeling that I haven’t had since I moved out of my small town Castle Rock, Colorado. Early in the morning before anyone was awake, I would creep downstairs to go onto my deck that overlooked the hills behind my home to watch sunrise. This was at a dark time in my life, and this first hour of sun is what gave me hope that I would make it through each day – there were definitely days that I almost didn’t make it to the end. I try my best to not think about those anymore. The idea that I associate with this instance is a personal one I’ve held onto since I was twelve. It serves as a daily reminder of how I want to live my life. As of right now:

Happy, kind, ambitious, and disciplined.

In Girona, I sat down with a cup of tea before Angels took me to visit the beach provinces. I thought about the book that I’m currently reading, American Like Me: Reflection on Life Between Cultures by America Ferrera, provided by Caroline Ingalls in London who thought I would resonate with it. America Ferrera reached out to dozens of immigrants and first generation people who have redefined what being American means and what the American Dream entails. Each of these successful people wrote short stories that are featured in the book and there are definitely a few that hit close to home.

As a biracial kid, I grew up looking very ambiguous. No one could ever guess what I was. In Europe, I feel that now more than ever when people assume I know their language. Which is huge ego boost that I get to experience before I start to stumble over my broken Spanish, slow Sign Language, imperfect French, or a nervous laugh (I’m working on it). This is definitely something that children struggle with because we spend so much time defining ourselves from something other than American in classroom settings. I was constantly invalidated of my ethnicity because of the way I look, which was confusing for a long time.

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Costa Brava

Home

Actually, it’s funny story, in first grade I had my very first identity crisis. I was denied from both of my ethnicities so I chose a new one for myself – Chinese. I told everyone I was Chinese and it got to a point where my teacher requested a conference with my mom. I was devastated to learn that I am not Chinese whatsoever, but that I was the things that other people told me I wasn’t. There were a lot of tears that day. My mom didn’t understand where Chinese came from seeing as I had absolutely zero Asian friends at this time. Also what’s more funny is that I’m always asked if I’m part Japanese, yet I identify the most with Vietnamese culture. 

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I believe that being split between multiple cultures opens a lot of new doors to explore what being American means. For me, I still really don’t know what it means. All I know is that I get to be whoever I want to be and I find a lot of comfort in that. I think Americans are very busy defining each other, which is not a bad thing, but in Europe I feel more at ease about my status. It’s fun to be fluid here and makes me feel like I kind of belong, well, everywhere. 

I love that I get to coexist with this world of people who will never be able to guess what I am. On the rare occasion I will get that one lucky person who says Mexican and German in a super questionable tone. Even better, sometimes I get American.

Again

Big things have small beginnings.

I’m at this point where I don’t need to necessarily start from scratch in order to do something with my life, but I definitely need to absorb some new knowledge after bouncing between multiple cities. I think everything I have ever wanted to do in this life is because other people have inspired me. There is this frequent moment where the faces I admire start flashing through my head, everyone I sincerely care for, and it just reminds me that I can’t settle. People have put such tremendous effort into me and I can’t let them down after all of their work. I am too thankful for all of these faces to not do something I can put my entire heart into. I think about all the faces I have ever loved and it makes me want to do something bigger.

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London

It’s become easier to care about more things these last couple of years. I have explained to people that I am trying to have a more minimal lifestyle because I don’t need much anymore. There was just too much shit in my life that was unnecessary – I started to get rid of nearly everything I own because I didn’t want to be attached to meaningless things. I donated at least 80% of my clothes, threw out all old textbooks, burned almost everything from high school (you know I need the dramatic effect), switched to reusable things, and started consuming less in general. This change made me feel a lot better at the end of the day because everything became easier with less.

Not that I can’t handle more, but this is just in regards to my personal life. I want less in my personal life so I can handle more outside of my own physical and mental space. I just appreciate the dynamic a lot more than I did in the reverse fashion. Mostly because I noticed that a lot of my happiness comes from helping other people in anyway that I can. Minimalism helps me focus on people and things I love so much more than before. Ultimately, it has contributed a large amount to my overall happiness. I think it’s important to run with something that makes you happy, as long as it isn’t at the expensive of others, as soon as you find it.

Having less means appreciating more in this life.

I talked with my little from dance about this. We have both been on a similar journey where we have had so many unexpected experiences that we would have never dreamed of when we were younger. I’m proud of how far she has come, the things she has discovered, and her receptiveness to be a better person while she pursues what she loves. She makes me want to strive for more when I listen to her talk about her accomplishments. I absolutely believe in her ability to become who she wants to be and is on the best track to get there right now. It’s exciting to have her in my life to see her exceed her goals, and humbling to see her endure through struggles. When people in my life share their adversity with me, it is when I admire them the most because I never have any idea what is happening behind all of the success unless they tell me. Trust me, there are a lot of struggles that we all have to face to get to where we want to be. 

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We are going to be hurt so much in this life. Learn from the pain and fall in love with the idea that it will happen again.

She’s not the only one who pushes me. There are so many people who do that I am lucky to have by my side as restless supporters. All people who I have time to show appreciation for, and I am convinced that it’s because I have room for that after getting rid of needless stuff. I like this lifestyle of minimalism and it’s definitely going to be around for a long time. I don’t really see it ever changing, which I find comfort in.

As for this big thing that I have mentioned a few times, I do want to just talk about how special it is without revealing it just yet. I’m honestly not sure if it’s even remotely possible at the moment, but I believe it’s up to me to make it possible because it’s definitely attainable. The special thing about it is that it intersects all of the knowledge I have retained as well as talents that I have grown to embrace. It is a meeting point where I get to travel, practice language, learn more culture, research, work with others, write, and document it using photography. It sounds too good to be true, but I want to explore it while I can. Otherwise, I don’t know what else I would want to pursue at the moment. 

Time to learn as much as I can and open my heart to something new. It feels right. 

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Paddington

Winds of The Netherlands

Written on my phone at about 12:30AM

I’m a little bit tipsy in West Amsterdam right now, but I found something so interesting here. Being a history major gives me a lot of context about where I travel to and helps me feel the weight of each place. There is an unseen force in Amsterdam that I can’t explain but it is something I feel while I bike along the narrow streets. It’s a beauty that all of your senses experience here. I can sense the people who lived here before – it’s like they never left. They are the winds of the Netherlands that run through this city welcoming you into their space and saying hello. Greet them with all of your love and they will take you on an unforgettable journey that leaves you breathless. Altijd. 

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The day after

Last night I had an experience that is difficult to explain. I was at table with a spectrum of people: Dutch, German, Spanish, Finnish, British, and American. We switched between languages based on what we knew how to speak as other people did in the pub while we watched football. Drumming on the table with beer and fries getting to know each other. The game ended and it was time to bike all the way back to West Amsterdam, which is when I began to feel the weight of this city. It’s such a feeling to be on your bike in the middle of the night here when no one else is outside. You just let go of your handles and let your arms feel the wind that runs through your shirt and jacket then up onto your face. People decades ago did the same thing and had this same experience in the middle of the night biking home. It was an overwhelming feeling of happiness where I felt more than just my own. I felt all of them. Amsterdam was a spiritual experience.

A special thing about Amsterdam is the cross-over between refugees of the present and past here, which are two completely different experiences in themselves that I only have an outside perspective of. There were the refugees that fled across the Europe to escape Germany just to lock themselves in attics, and now the same thing is happening again. At least now the refugees have the freedom to be outside in public without any judgement. It does not make their experience any less disheartening than previous ones though – they are all awful. You feel this when you see it, and I felt it even more when I went into old bookstores that had attics rather than the Anne Frank house which is pretty well-kept. 

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Anne Frank

Amsterdam

I think it was interesting to see the layouts of these homes and stores. It was a reality so long ago for refugees and it made me upset to think that people had to do this. To hide in the dark. They had to hide behind walls with only small lines of light running through the room waiting for something to happen despite not knowing what that something would be. Maybe I felt this more in the bookstores because of the book burnings that took place in history. These places were full of books from the floor to the ceiling – the ceilings were higher than you could imagine. I know this isn’t meant to be a response to the past, but it was a good historical connection that I made in my personal experience.

The grocery store I went to in Amsterdam was in the area where the new refugees are. I really wanted to take photos, but I didn’t want to cross any lines while I was there out of respect for them and their new life in the Netherlands. It would have been different if it was a project I planned prior to my visit and already setup interviews but that wasn’t the case. It was a contrast that I made in my head how they have the freedom to be outside yet are still trapped in an obscure way. It just made me realize something that I will talk about in a different post. 

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tiny houses

I suggest Amsterdam to everyone. You can feel the past and present asylums that are here. It’s something that you can only do your best to explain and that’s why I highly encourage a visit.

Love and Fear

I’m sitting here and my eyes are welting up because I just realized that I am so happy with my life right now. I’ve been happy with my life the last few years, but this is a peak moment for me. There have been nothing besides peak moments which tells me I am on the right path.

No, not everyday is happy but my underlying mood always is. It has been an accomplishment to even bring myself to make this statement.

Life has been full of such wonderful things that make me smile like a crazy person in the middle of the day. Not just things, but art, and I have finally come to the conclusion that it is the path that I am on. I used to deny myself of it because I never thought I deserved the title nor was ever close to becoming an artist. To be completely honest, I still don’t feel close to it. I do recognize what other people see in me now though. It’s a small step forward that encourages me to continue making stuff for myself as well as sharing it with others.

There is an abundance of amazing individuals in my life who I love to see succeed. I genuinely am very excited for the things that each and every one of you are doing, no matter how big or small. Whenever someone shares with me what they are doing I can’t help be amazed because I think how does this person think in such an incredible way. I love that everyone has a different medium and that I get to appreciate. If you’re one of those people then I am endlessly grateful for you sharing the most personal parts of yourself, your art and thoughts, with me. they stay with me.

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Tara

one of my art counterparts

All I have to say is that it is so essential to open your heart and be unafraid of all the possible consequences in this life. There will never not be risks or consequences. Recently I have been thinking a lot about A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson where she discusses love and fear. These are both umbrella terms that we use to describe and pursue life. Essentially, a very oversimplified version goes like this…

Love: happiness, joy, excitement, passion

Fear: sadness, anxiety, pain

Both love and fear come with consequences and failure – there is no way getting around this idea. However, the consequences and failure are different from each other. If you live with fear then failure normally equates to regret of not having an experience. If you pursue with love then your failure just means you didn’t succeed, but you received an entire experience out of it that you can learn from.

Antoine | my first couch surfing host

Antoine | my first couch surfing host

The whole idea of being human is to make mistakes and learn, so pursue with love instead of fear. Accept and be happy with your mistakes. I’ve made more than anyone knows. I’m at a point where when I make one then I’m just like whatever bro, what’s next?

I came to Paris with the intention of staying and working, but something so much better is going to happen if I remain patient. This is something that I will most definitely pursue with love. My entire plan has changed after just a short amount of time here.

I always remind myself that movement is the key to my own opportunities and success. If I stay in one place then I will never figure anything out, but doing something outside of my normal routine gets me to where I need to be.

La Chance Sourit Aux Audacieux

After a long flight, I have finally made it to Paris. It’s my fourth night here and the jet lag has me waking up pretty early – here I am typing this at 430AM.

It was like I went through a simulation and the whole plane ride wasn’t real, but it was. I am here. I am here in this wonderful city that has nothing but opportunity to learn about culture, language, and myself. For those who know me well, you know that I hold those very close to my heart because I find so much value in them. This experience will be cherished no matter what the outcome is.

Tara’s roommate brought three French women she met at her religious gathering last night and they were amazing. We had three bottles of wine with all the time in the world to spare. I’m so impressed by everyone’s ability to speak English here and hold conversations through out a spectrum of topics. I am definitely not at that level of French, but seeing this in other people makes me want to be better. However, I have better comprehension than I thought I did. I’ll be spending a lot of my time working on my level of fluency while I can. To my surprise, many people speak French to me right away so now I have this idea in my head that if I look the role then I have to be able to play it better.

I’m categorized as un bobo, which is like a bougie-hipster kind of vibe. I like it. I think it fits me completely. Apparently the French also agree. I’m hoping it’s a complement in the city, even if it’s not, I’m going to choose to believe that is it.

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un bobo

Le mot bobo vient de la contraction de 2 mots – bourgeois et bohème

Unexpected things happen when you make big decisions, especially ones that concern with picking up and leaving. I came to Paris with the intention of finding a job and starting over. This is my first time in Europe, I came on my own, and I want to experience more of it before I lock down on a job so quickly in the only city I have known in Europe. I’ll be applying for jobs in multiple countries while I travel through Europe. That’s my plan as of now.

On the other hand, I feel inspired to keep going. I would love to continue on this journey of self in India where I can explore my yoga practice. It’s been a year since I’ve started and I want to take it to another level. I heard that India has so much to offer students who come learn about their practice – it’s something that I’ve thought about. It would be amazing to be certified in a beautiful and spiritual place then give back to students who want to learn more about it. There really isn’t anything better than that. 

I’m thinking that I may be on a different journey than I initially thought. 

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La chance sour aux audacieux. Fortune favors the bold.
— Hugues