Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

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Dear Quiet Minds,

On Friday, Oct. 20th, the British Library is having an opening to celebrate the release of J.K. Rowling’s new book, Harry Potter and the History of Magic. According to Pottermore, the exhibition will feature 100 amazing artefacts from Rowling’s wizarding world, including illustrations by Jim Kay, the illustrator of the Harry Potter Illustrated Editions, sketches and drafts from J.K. Rowling and objects from the Hogwarts classes. Ultimately, it will be celebrating Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’s 20th anniversary. Due to this amazing opportunity to spread my love for Harry Potter once again, I decided to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and give my thoughts on it. This analysis may contain SPOILERS so definitely don’t continue reading if you haven’t watched the film.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them (2016) was directed by David Yates (who directed the later Harry Potter films). It takes place in 1926 New York when a British wizard named Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives by ship with a suitcase filled with magical creatures. After he accidently switches cases with a Muggle, or No-Mag in America, Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), his creatures all end up loose and Newt goes on a journey to return them all to the case. During this, he is also being pursued by a demoted Auror, Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston), for not being a registered wizard, but soon enough, Tina and her sister, Queenie, (Alison Sudol) eventually help him. Meanwhile, an unknown creature, who we later come to find is called an Obscurus, is on a mysterious killing spree.

One thing I love about J.K. Rowling’s work is her ability to layer lighthearted scenes with dark and complicated elements, creating a seamless parallel between our society and her magical world. In this movie, I felt like her characters were very unconventional which added to the depth of her story. For instance, Newt Scamander, the main protagonist, is a Magizoologist who is quiet, sensitive and vulnerable. He connects with his magical creatures more than he connects with people; however, he still garners a deep empathy and understanding for people despite his lack of friends. His masculinity does not fall under the stereotype of a witty, independent, strong male lead whose violence and insensitivity is accepted. Instead, Newt is a Hufflepuff, much different from the brave Gryffindors, and his actions are guided by hard work and loyalty. As the story progresses, Newt’s relationships with Tina, Jacob and Queenie subtly strengthen as he learns to open himself to friendship. The fact that J.K. Rowling decided to place this unconventional male character as her lead demonstrates her acceptance of all people and personalities. There’s not one type of hero, but an infinite range of heroes within everyone.

“My heroes are always people who feel themselves to be set apart, stigmatized or othered. That’s at the heart of what I write and it’s certainly at the heart of this movie.”
-J.K. Rowling

Another aspect I loved from the films was Rowling’s ability to move from light, childish scenes filled with comedy to dark, mature scenes. For one, the Obscurus, which is created when a young wizard suppresses his or her powers, highlighted a dark element of society. The Obscurus demonstrated the dangers of fearing your potential and bottling up what’s inside of you. It symbolizes repression and isolation due to the fear of intolerance. Many people can relate to this type of repression imposed by society. Rowling really grabbed the heart strings of closeted people, lonely people and anyone who lives in constant fear. This intolerance is also reflected in her setting, where the nonmagical world is becoming overly suspicious of its people as the Salem Witch Trials popularize. Wizards have to hide from the nonmagical world and stay away from the No-Mag community. In the magical world, however, the character of Graves, or more accurately Grindelwald, is high on power. He believes in wizard blood superiority and wants to suppress those without magic. Even the word No-Mag highlights the key difference between people and wizards: magic. Meanwhile, the British term Muggle is more friendly and inclusive. Thus, emphasizing the prominent segregation in American history. Although Rowling depicts it through her world, it places reality in front of our eyes, showing us that segregation and intolerance run deep in the United States.

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Despite this sad reality, Rowling always offers us hope through the introduction of Newt’s world, also known as his magical suitcase. Within the case, animals can be themselves and roam free without being suppressed or controlled. Their chaos and difference is welcomed, which is reflected in the beautifully lit scenery in Newt’s World that contrasts with the dark outside world. Rowling shows us through a simple, yet deep story that although intolerance is at the surface of our lives, difference and acceptance are always there to keep the hope alive.

At the end of the film, Jacob Kowalski’s memory of all his adventures with Newt is obliviated and he seems to wake up from a dream, just like the audience. It’s very bittersweet. We want to be a part of Rowling’s world, but at the end of the film, realize we never can. But why, after all these years, does the Harry Potter realm stay so deeply in our hearts? Isn’t it fake? Isn’t it all just happening inside our heads?

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
-Albus Dumbledore

Love,
Jackie

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Kindness: The Savior We Need

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Dear Quiet Minds,

“Kindness is loving people more than they deserve.”
-Joseph Joubert

For anyone who was born in the 1990s, weekly shootings and imminent danger threats have become common occurrences. Every day, we turn on the news to find that more people have lost their lives and it’s something we’re accustomed to at this point. Why is this becoming a weekly trend? Why is the news full to the brim with death and hate? It makes no sense that one person should decide the fates of 59 innocent lives. Mere hate and depression should not be the lead causes of death in the United States.

Unfortunately, in a country where we claim to be open and loving, many people still remain in the shadows of loneliness, looking for a weapon to let out their anger and hatred. Their hands are found around a gun ready to pull the trigger on themselves or on others. It’s sad to see that this hatred has been trending throughout the United States. Limiting gun control might be a way to stop these tragedies, but it might also be a useless attempt. People driven by enough hate will find a way to get their message across. Please, if you need a weapon, use the flowers of kindness and its seeds of compassion rather than a gun and its bullets. In a world so chaotic, we don’t need more violence. The only way to battle hatred is through the act of loving each other.

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It’s heartbreaking to see death and hatred becoming our reality. I hope that in the wake of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, we take a step forward toward self-love and unity, rather than remain stagnant in a fire of anger. For those that are in a dark place whether it be because of the tragedy or because of self-hatred, seek love and help from others to persevere. And for those who are consumed in their own exciting lives, remember those who aren’t as fortunate as you. If you have a friend that is reserved or a friend who is hiding under a fake smile, go up to them and show them your love. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have love seeping through every pore of their life. Some people live in constant darkness with few occasions of flickering hope. I hope that this tragedy pushes us to open our hearts to those different than us and lend our ears to those desperate for someone to hear their voice.

Many of these shootings and suicides can be prevented when parents talk to their children, when friends invest more time in that awkward kid at school, when people care just a little bit more. One extra word or silent hug can be enough to persuade someone to love rather than hate. Those who don’t deserve your love and attention are the ones who need it the most so make enough room in your heart for all strangers.

And to all those families affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas, we hope you turn toward love and kindness for they are your true saviors.

Love,
Jackie

Price of Modesty

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Dear Quiet Minds,

I believe that modesty is not about downgrading your worth and accomplishments but knowing yourself well enough to neither overestimate nor underestimate yourself. It’s about knowing the value of your merit but still believing that there is always room for improvement. It’s a way of checking yourself. With modesty, you have no fear of becoming arrogant because you know that although you do your best now, you can always do better. But sometimes I wonder if modesty ever becomes a weakness. I don’t like to boast about myself and when other people start boasting about themselves, I usually just let them have it, but there’s always this prickly sensation in the back of my mind that just wants to shut them up. Not because I feel like I’m better than they are, but because there comes a moment when a person is so arrogant that they start degrading your problems. They exaggerate everything and when you try to put in your two cents about the situation, they have no respect for your opinion and completely dismiss your comment. The problem arises when your modesty doesn’t allow you to put them in their place sometimes. When is it okay for you to bring forth your merit in order to diminish their ego?

Often times, I feel like being modest makes it more difficult for me to take a compliment or even talk about my accomplishments. When is it okay for me to confidently say “yes I am good at this”? It’s difficult to know because you might say it and later be accused of arrogance. This fear of being negatively labelled is enough to stop you from speaking out. But what if that arrogant person is a good friend of yours who just likes to talk a little bit too much about themselves? Even when you try to get a word out, they put your problems aside and start comparing it to their much-more-important problems. It may just be a sign of their confidence, but we have to realize that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance and many people dangerously walk that line. They put one foot in front of the other in hopes of staying on the rope and getting away with arrogance disguised as confidence. It’s not so much their wrong choice of moral that annoys me, but rather their need to degrade people.

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Everyone lives different lives and have different-sized problems. A small problem for one person can be a massive problem for another. It’s all about the amount of stress that a person can cope with. So, when you’re talking to an arrogant person about a problem that is affecting you severely, their failure to listen and sympathize is a blow to your self-esteem. Although we know that we should always give without expecting anything in return, you always expect love and respect from the people you care about. Unfortunately, arrogance pushes aside love and respect in order to make its way toward the center stage. Whether a person has a large or small degree of arrogance, it shouldn’t be so overpowering that one cannot listen to others. It’s always a good skill to exude confidence, but it’s an even greater skill to truly listen.

No one should have to pay a price for modesty. Make it a strength, not a weakness.

Love,
Jackie

Is the Grass Greener on the Other Side?

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Dear Quiet Minds,

Did you ever hear the cliché “the grass is always greener on the other side”?

Well, this week in one of my classes, my professor showed us a video of this cliché. It showed a man on a white patch of grass standing beside a fence and on the other side of the fence, the grass was bright green. The man climbed the fence over to the greener side and the minute he set foot on it, it turned into a white patch of grass, meanwhile the side he had just been on turned bright green. This video really gave me a new perspective on what this cliché meant because no matter how many times the man crossed over the fence, the other side was always greener. Originally, this cliché was quite comforting for me because I thought that although right now you are going through dark times, the grass is greener on the other side, meaning that once the dark cloud passes, happiness will arise. In my mind, this was a positive and motivating cliché because I knew that no matter how much anxiety and stress I felt, the dark times were only a small part of what I thought was a much happier and brighter future. I could always count on the fact that tomorrow I was not going to feel as terrible and somehow I would, if even for a second, cross over to the greener side.

However, when I saw this video, it opened my mind to the possibility that this cliché is actually quite unsettling. The greener side can mean a plethora of different destinations like reaching happiness, accomplishing dreams and finding peace, but besides these beautiful endings, it can also include meeting expectations, and ultimately reaching normalcy. I put normalcy under the more unsettling category because in reality, normalcy is nonexistent. The idea of “normalcy” has been completely fabricated by society, leading us to believe that after all of our sufferings, we will finally obtain a normal, happy life like everyone else. This idea has mostly been created by the common notion of growing up, getting a job and getting married to reach success, but it has been further enforced through social media. When we see people on Instagram having the time of their lives or finding their true love, we get it into our heads that, at one point in our life, this will happen to us. It hasn’t happened to us yet because we haven’t reached that stage of our life. The fact that we believe life is broken up into stages like that is quite idealistic, especially since we all know that life is completely unpredictable and does not happen in the same way for everyone.

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Constantly we are trying to get to that other side, the side where everything is going to magically become normal, but it’s never as easy as climbing over a fence. And what if that patch of greener grass doesn’t even belong to you? What if you spend all your time climbing fences to only end up achieving other people’s dreams and expectations? Therefore, I believe that this cliché mixes both the beautiful with the unsettling. The man can climb over to someone else’s patch of greener grass, but will never be satisfied. That’s why the patch underneath his feet always turns back into that haunting whiter shade. It shows that we have to stop worrying about climbing that fence and instead tend to the patch of grass below our feet. If we put time and energy into caring for our patch of grass, then our side will, in the end, get greener and ultimately, we will reach our definition of happiness and peace. We can also say that in our own way, we reach a level of “normalcy” even though it will never be normal. Instead, let’s say that we become the best versions of ourselves because, by being unique, the grass brightens each and every day.

So, instead of trying to cross over the fence, make your side the greenest it can ever be. Not because you want it to outshine other patches of grass, but because you want it to reflect the beauty of your soul.

Love,
Jackie

What Do You Really See When You Look in the Mirror?

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Dear Quiet Minds,

I was reading a book called Sum: forty tales from the afterlives by David Eagleman where Eagleman explores a wide range of scenarios that may occur when we die, and I came across a very eye-opening chapter called “Mirrors”. It explained that before you truly die, you settle in a kind of Purgatory. In this Purgatory, you gradually start forgetting who you are. All the memories that defined your life, all the values that predicted your actions and the cunning ego dwelling in your mind begin to wash away. You start to lose yourself completely until your consciousness has reached a level of nakedness that matches that of a baby, still pure and free of societal influences.

Eagleman states that you have “always lived inside your head” because we all see life through our perceptions and experiences. That is why we can see others more clearly than we see ourselves. Therefore, we need others to hold up a mirror to our faces so that we can see who we are. Everyone that you meet in life shows you a little bit more about what qualities you need to improve on or keep and by doing so, you gradually mold yourself. One line that truly resonated with me was: “so poorly did you know yourself that you were always surprised at how you looked in photographs or how you sounded on voice mail.” So often we are surprised by this that we question if we really know ourselves.

Maybe, if we could filter our perspectives, then we could see life in its truest form, but instead, we live in a sort of “controlled hallucination”. If we are constantly hallucinating then why are people who hallucinate seen as crazy or abnormal? According to neuroscientist Anil Seth, “when we agree about our hallucinations, we call that reality” but when someone experiences uncontrolled hallucinations, they are ostracized from society. Everyone seems to live life looking through a veneer that is changed by your culture and experiences. Ultimately, the definition of who you are is determined by two things: who you think you are and who others think you are. Most of the time, the person who dwells in your mind and holds all your dreams and insecurities is very different from the person who dwells outside of your body, the one that everyone sees. You may think you are the kindest person inside but ultimately come off as a horrible person on the outside. By constantly using these two sides, we start to weed out the qualities people hate and polish those that people like because it seems like the only way you can better yourself is by constantly changing.

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So, when you look in the mirror, who do you really see? Do you see the person you are inside, full-fledged with imperfections and impurities? Or the person that friends and family believe you to be? This multi-faceted persona seems to block the true self you expect to see in the mirror.

In the chapter called “Mirrors”, all the people that you’ve ever met hold up mirrors that contain every part of who you are, completely unfiltered. When you finally see yourself clearly, that image is what finally kills you. If taken literally this tale is quite morbid; however, it makes me wonder what is the image that you truly see. Does the mirror show you all your failures or every “what if” that could have been, causing a depression so overwhelming that it kills you? Or does it physically alter your appearance and show you how rotten you truly look? If we stick with these possibilities, we notice how bad we are as people, but if we see it through a different light, it could mean something more beautiful.

Take this possibility for example. We go through our lives constantly looking for things that will make us feel complete: money, love, fame, purpose. But what if the only thing that could make us feel complete is seeing our true selves. Looking through that mirror could finally show us what we have been looking for, allowing us to die from pure and complete happiness. Even though we may never know how afterlives are, it’s nice to think that the latter is what happens.

So, who do we really see in the mirror?

We might never know, but know this. The thing about humans is that we are so much more than what we think we are so don’t be confined by what you see in that mirror.

  Love,
Jackie

*Don’t forget to like and comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Hurricane Irma Update

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Dear Quiet Minds,

There will be no proper blog post today.

This weekend Hurricane Irma entered Florida and rather than go straight towards Miami, it headed west towards Naples and the outer edge of Florida. Because of this detour, Miami got Category 2 winds which knocked over my fence and stripped the leaves off the trees in front of my house. Luckily, my house held itself together and remained firm throughout the weekend. All I had to deal with was no electricity for 10 hours which was a gift in comparison to what other areas of Florida had to go through. I feel so blessed that we were able to survive this horrible hurricane.

My family and I are safe, and I hope that everyone living in Florida is alive and well. Stay safe, everyone!

Love,
Jackie

P.S. My regular blog posts will resume next week Monday!

Are We Whole?

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Dear Quiet Minds,

Why do we always feel like we’re missing something in our lives?

This constant brokenness seems to loom over our heads as we make “achieving wholeness” our life’s mission.

According to French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, the feeling that a part of ourselves is missing is a result of our participation in society. When we are children, we start learning how to speak and when we learn to make distinctions, we become aware of the world’s grandiosity. This grandiosity shows us that we aren’t the world’s epicenter and it makes us aware of the lack of control we have. This sudden realization of our lacking causes us to immediately desire wholeness. Once we start worrying about losing something, it has already occurred. This imaginary puzzle piece that has been stolen from us so soon becomes the focus of our lives.

“Humans spend a great deal of energy worrying about all the ways in which they don’t feel whole.”
-Mari Ruti

Mari Ruti, Professor of Critical Theory, makes a very important point. From the moment we are consciously aware of our surroundings until our last breath, we try to escape feelings of loss by filling that hole with dreams, ambitions and occupations. We hope that accomplishing all our wishes will allow us to obtain the wholeness we rightly desire. One way that people often fill that open wound is by falling in love. Couples often say “I found my other half” or “they make me whole”. It gives us the idea that our feeling of vacancy has been filled and we’ve been, once again, made whole.

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But when did we ever lose our wholeness? When was it so selfishly torn from us? It seems as if this wholeness is taken from us before we even have the chance to realize that we had it in the first place.

Unfortunately, this lacking that drives us to reach fulfillment is, in the end, a fantasy. According to Lacan, we haven’t lost anything to begin with. Because of this, there’s nothing in the world that can satisfy our desire. It’s a very harsh reality because after all this time, it’s really society who fools us into thinking that there’s a cure for this disease we call brokenness. Society teaches us to reach certain standards and the world teaches us that we are only small specks in an immense universe. The combination of these two highly contrasting realities creates the lacking we so often feel. If society had not taught us that we are missing something, this brokenness would not have survived for so long.

It’s sad to think that all these years we’ve been whole and never fully realized it.

Rather than look for wholeness in other places, we need to accept that it already lives inside of us.

Love,
Jackie

Are You An Awakening Old Soul?

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Dear Quiet Minds,

If you find yourself relating to the three following statements, then you can declare yourself an Awakening Old Soul.

  1. You actively seek to empathize with people and understand life from their perspective.
  2. You feel a sense of social alienation as your beliefs, desires and needs don’t align with the majority of people around you.
  3. You enjoy the little things in life and no longer feel the need to be high-maintenance.

-Aletheia Luna

I came across this on Instagram a few days ago and found it very interesting so I wanted to share with you guys how I related to these three statements.

You actively seek to empathize with people and understand life from their perspective.

I’m constantly observing and analyzing people. I’ve found that whenever I am mad at someone or dislike someone’s actions, I go on a very analytical rant. First, I talk about why their actions were wrong and then I start to empathize and try to understand their reasoning behind it. This back and forth that I go through is very complicated and although it may be a symptom of my overthinking nature, I often find myself understanding the actions of others by placing myself in their shoes. Even if I disagree with their actions, I play both the prosecutor and defendant, which definitely initiates an internal war. It often baffles me when I see others judging people so harshly without seeing life from that person’s perspective first.

You feel a sense of social alienation as your beliefs, desires and needs don’t align with the majority of people around you.

I’m an over-thinker which has led me to see the different layers of the world. This point of view creates new beliefs, desires and needs that don’t often align with other college students. This causes me to feel alienated from the rest of society because my overthinking has led me to a point where my mind is constantly overanalyzing problems even if the answer to a solution is much simpler. Although certain people I interact with think as deeply as I do, others just think superficially. However, I believe that having a profound way of thinking really opens our minds to a progressive world and allows us to be more accepting. Being able to pull aside the layer of conventionalism and see the madness of civilization allows us to surpass conformity and reach a place where we accept differences. Since many people fear differences and avoid stepping out of conformity, many old souls feel alienated.

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You enjoy the little things in life and no longer feel the need to be high-maintenance.

I’ve never been one to ask for many things and as I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more of a minimalist. I start to cherish the qualities in people and long more for love and friendship rather than material things. Whenever my little sister goes into a store, she starts asking and asking for toys left and right. Although minimalism might come with age, I am always surprised at how many things she wants and in the end, never uses them more than once. This minimalist mindset and lifestyle has allowed me to really cherish the beauty of my surroundings, which not only encompasses nature and art, but also intangibles. Appreciating and valuing friendship, intelligence, kindness and, most importantly, love truly allows you to set your priorities straight and avoid high-maintenance.

If you felt similarly to me and have declared yourself an Awakening Old Soul, then definitely like this blog post.

Let’s see how many of us are out there.

Love,
Jackie

 

Allure of the Seas

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Dear Quiet Minds,

Last week, I had the great opportunity to go aboard Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas. With approximately 6,000 passengers and weighing 225,282 tons, this cruise ship was absolutely gigantic! I was surprised to see so many passengers from infants to high schoolers to elderly couples roaming around the ship despite it being a week before classes. Despite the ship’s size, it did feel crowded in the popular areas like the pool deck and the Royal Promenade, which is definitely the downside of the cruise. However, the ship left me in awe during the first day as every deck I visited made the ship look more and more like a city. Everyone seemed to have a lot of energy and the crew, although trying to be invisible, worked harder than anyone I have ever seen. The ship had shows every night with singing, dancing, acrobatics and even ice skating! Every show had you at the edge of your seat with a smile on your face. The entertainers were so skilled that it makes you want to work out and eat right. However, the hopes of being fit and healthy were immediately halted by the amazing dining experience. Luckily, my family and I got an amiable waiter and a hilarious assistant waiter who just made us feel so welcomed and excited for dinner. Besides the amazing service, the food, the pina coladas and, let’s definitely not forget, the deserts were godly gifts from heaven. To be honest, my whole day was defined by that dinner.

Besides the awesome events and restaurants on the cruise, we made three stops: Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Cozumel, Mexico.

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In Labadee, Haiti, my dad, sister and I did the Dragon’s Breath Flight Zipline and it was the highlight of my trip.

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We were part of a group that was taken to a small flight briefing and later got a sneak preview of what was to come by doing a shorter “Little Dragon” zipline. Then we all were driven up a hill and reached about 500 feet before going down the longest zipline I had ever seen. It felt like I was flying above the beautifully clear beaches of Labadee, taking in the immensity of the ocean below. Lasting about 60 seconds, the experience was absolutely breathtaking. Below is a picture of the view I got right before I ziplined.

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After the zipline, my family and I stayed awhile at the beach and later were treated with a buffet right before we headed back into the ship. Overnight, the ship reached Falmouth, Jamaica.

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In Falmouth, Jamaica, we roamed through a small shopping center near the port. Along the middle of the shopping center, there were various stands where locals were selling souvenirs. In one of the stands, despite all the heat and mosquitos, a man sang in the corner strumming his guitar. His rusty, passionate voice was very beautiful blending in with the colorful drums, t-shirts, ukuleles and miniature statues hanging from the stand.

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In another stand, a man was sitting down painting beautiful pieces of scenery onto small canvases. As he laid them out to be sold, he would start drawing another one. Watching the sellers use their talents to make a profit was very bittersweet. We all go to school to study what we love and later do what we love, but these locals were already doing what they loved in hopes of making a living. It was sad to think that with all the beauty radiating off their art, some of them were barely surviving off their craft. Therefore, I hope by capturing their art with my camera I can spread their talents to others who will appreciate it.

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After that humbling stop, we had a day at sea and later arrived at Cozumel, Mexico where my family and I took an overpriced taxi to Playa Palancar.

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We saw a beautiful peacock and her young roaming fearlessly among the vacationers. There was also a raccoon and a red panda stealing food from anyone they came close to. Besides that, my family and I relaxed at the beach (while getting eaten by mosquitos) and after two hours of sunbathing and swimming in the ocean, we went back to the ship.

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Saturday was our last day and I tried to relax as much as possible. My family and I got to sleep in, eat until our heart’s content and relish in the peace and quiet.

Unfortunately, the vacation is officially over, but that trip allowed me to disconnect, fully delve into my photography and see the hidden beauties and cultures in the Caribbean. I definitely hope to go on the Allure of the Seas again and get to visit other new and beautiful places.

Hope you all had a great summer to disconnect and are ready to get back to reality!

Love,
Jackie

 

Dreams: A Beautiful Paradox

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Dear Quiet Minds,

Isn’t it amazing how closing your eyes can open up a world without limits?

To me, dreams are the closest you can get to magic because the new worlds your mind is able to create are infinite. After doing some research, I found that this happens because the nerve cells in your brain stem start to fire sporadically, sending erratic signals. Many experts believe that your brain tries to comprehend all these signals and make sense of them by creating dreams. However, your dreams do not start the moment you close your eyes. It slowly occurs in stages. In stage one, you delve into a very light sleep and can be easily awoken. In stage two, your eyes stop moving and your brain waves slow down. Then in stage three and four, you start to experience nightmares or even start to sleepwalk or sleep-talk. The most difficult stage to enter is stage five which is known as REM sleep. Our body becomes temporarily paralyzed and takes certain measures to avoid disruptions that could awaken us from this deep, deep sleep. This is where the dreams we remember get weirder and weirder.

Often times, I’ve had very vivid dreams that mimic reality so seamlessly, making it harder to decipher the difference. Dreams can transform our memories into the most whimsical dreams or the most terrifying nightmares. I have experienced dreams where my fears have disguised themselves as a very true reality, speeding up my heartbeat. I wake up teary-eyed or panting for breath. The fact that my fears solidify in front of me so clearly and come racing at me makes it difficult to believe it’s not real. However, I believe that these dreams are your opportunity to try and face those fears in a simulation. Unfortunately, unless you are aware that you’re dreaming, overcoming that fear is very unlikely. Whenever I have to face a fear sometimes I am able to find the courage to surpass it, but more often than not, I am paralyzed and watch the worst occur before me. Although nightmares are the ultimate downside to sleeping, dreams are a beautiful paradox.

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Dreams can be both good and bad. The most terrifying forest can morph into a palace of lavender skies and fluorescent flowers, just like the memory of a lovely family gathering can turn into an unexpected funeral. Dreams are a contradiction that we pay the price for every time we close our eyes. Dreams have the liberty of letting loose our fear or turning our fantasies into a reality. Recently, I have seen the beauty of dreams. After having various nightmares back to back, a few nights ago I experienced a very enchanting dream. It reminded me of the brain’s superhuman capacity to construct the most elaborately intricate landscapes that put your reality to shame. In my dream, I remember opening a door to a beautiful coral sky reflecting over a vast ocean that disappeared over the horizon. Swans, white stallions and mystical creatures that could only be created by the limitless imagination walked majestically across the colorful waters. When I woke up, I was amazed at how my brain could create such a magical landscape and I was reminded of why dreams are so special.

Our ability to create dreams and nightmares allows us to overcome fears and realize desires that transcend the capacity of our awake minds.

So next time you close your eyes and encounter a closed door, open it and explore your dreams.

Live the beautiful paradox.

Love,
Jackie