Are We All Lost Stars?

Since being in Spain, I have found that my plans (working a full-time job, implementing a scientific research study, learning a new language, volunteering with non-profit organizations), insecurities (feeling like I have bitten off more than I can chew, being away from all of my friends/family back home, having a low proficiency in the native language), and high expectations of myself have hindered me from truly getting to know this beautiful country and the people that inhabit it. Though this is normal because I am still transitioning, it’s difficult for me to put my expectations on hold sometimes. But despite this, I remain optimistic.

All of my experiences, both good and bad, have led me to this place of being in a foreign country, alone. Despite the sometimes scary notions, through the will of my inner faith, I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help; my help cometh from the Lord (Psalm 121:1-2). He is telling me what to do and is giving me the strength and courage to do so. He is guiding me to a place where I will be able to join others who share my passion to help others. I believe I am here, alone, for a reason. And again, while I believe in Karma. I am aware that things don’t always happen how and when we think they should. But as long as my heart is sincere, I am not worried about the outcome of my journey. (though I can’t say the same for some others that I’ve come across recently…*sigh*)

I have mentioned in previous posts that we have the opportunity and capacity to determine our stars (i.e. path), and change them accordingly when necessary. I have found that allowing my thoughts to victimize me is of no assistance to my cause. Woe, is me. If we’re not careful. Turns into reality.

I am meeting so many wonderfully mysterious and colorful people. I am gaining insight into their hopes and aspirations…into their worries and fears. For example, here in Spain, with a population of 47.1 million, the unemployment rate is still at 24.47% as of the 2nd quarter of 2014 (11,525,370 people unemployed). How discouraging is this? I thought we had it bad in the United States, with a population of 318.1 and a 5.9% unemployment rate (18,767,900 people unemployed). I feel for those I have met, especially the parent who is unable to obtain consistent income or the young person of my generation just graduating from college but unable to find employment. How could I not be optimistic when I am so FORTUNATE to be studying abroad and working for a beautiful family and caring for their 2 children that I adore?

We all seek purpose in this life. Whether we believe our purpose is working a 9 to 5 job, day in and day out so we can maintain a dream of one day having a family of our own. Or whether we believe our purpose is to sacrifice our stability and contentment so we might be able to venture out into the world to do something more unconventional. We’re searching for meaning. But are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?

I recently came across the film, Begin Again (2013), and it really inspired me. It pretty much exhibited the lows that people experience, and how forgiveness, confidence, finding one’s self, and common goals (in this film, musical collaboration and expression) can lead one to the opportunity of beginning again. The main song of the film, Lost Stars, touched me and is the inspiration behind this post.

I do not know where my path will lead me. But I do know that no matter what is thrown my way and what obstacles I may face, that I am capable of changing and aligning my stars. And I believe that in order for me to find serenity and peace within myself, while I am just fine with enduring these many moments of loneliness (which are inevitable because I am in a foreign country and working on obtaining goals that many are unable to relate to; these moments can also be a good thing because it allows for me to stay FOCUSED on what is most important), I must be open to allowing others to be a part of my journey. Please, see me. Reaching out for someone I can’t see.

Perhaps we ARE all lost stars…trying to find our way to one another so we can light up the dark together. I am full of gratitude in that I know how I want my stars to align. And while I may be just a speck of dust within the galaxy, taking each day as it comes. As I work towards fulfilling my dreams and aspirations, I am learning new things about myself, feeding my starved inner-ignorance by gaining new insights and knowledge, and/or establishing relationships with others who have similar interests. And each day, my stars are properly aligning that much more.

Don’t you dare let (y)our best memories bring you sorrow. Change is inevitable, and change can be good. Allow changes to occur in your life so that you are able to begin (the next chapter) again. Be brave and daring. Take a chance on yourself (and others). You will not be a lost star forever if you continue to yearn for more (new experiences, new knowledge, new relationships, new goals, etc.).

This post is dedicated to all the lost stars in Spain. Dices “Si Se Puede!!” Jajajja. Con amor, Nicola

The Formula for Achieving Serenity

I think I discussed in my “What’s in a Name” post about experiencing true happiness. And I feel this is what every person wants. Some of us may find happiness in making lots of money and others might find happiness in helping others. And with true happiness, comes serenity.

Let me tell you. I never thought I could feel this sense of happiness and serenity. Though I feel I have not reached the maximum capacity, I believe I am on the right path.

While the world seems to be crumbling around me. Loved ones dying. People starving. Friends losing their jobs. Me losing my job. Despite all of these discouraging events, there is something in me that nothing seems to be able to shake. My life is no where close to being perfect, and it may never be. But the troubling feelings and thoughts that I felt a year ago, even 3 months ago, are no longer present.

I wish I could express exactly what it is that is instilling this unexplainable sense of hope in me. Perhaps it is my determination. My need to be better and do something bigger than myself. Perhaps it is just the right time in my life. While it was unfortunate that I had to lose my job, as many others in our screwed up economy have as well. Maybe this was all meant to be.

In another previous post of mine I discussed Karma and whether or not if our paths are determined based on our own thoughts and actions or the predetermined path already designed and destined for us to walk. And as I consider all the not so great events that have occurred in my life, I have come to realize that I am so fortunate to be where I am. I have a loving and encouraging family who are always there for me. I have friends that accept me for who I am and remain supportive even through their own hardships. And I have a roof over my head. How can I not feel contentment and peace?

I am excited to find myself. I am determined to tear down the walls that I have built up over the years through disappointment and pain. I am passionate about touching the lives of others and doing something that will leave a beautiful mark on this world when I am no longer here. I realize that I may not be able to accomplish all of my goals, but I intend to dedicate myself no matter the unexpected circumstances.

Se·ren·i·ty (noun) = the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled. I am at least 50 percent there. And have only begun my journey. Being able to let go of the “stuff” that is irrelevant and has no place in my thoughts and heart has shed so many burdens that I have held on to for many years.

I have decided to challenge myself to do the following everyday, at least once a day:

1) Give up a fear or worry to the universe (or a higher power such as God)

2) Express my gratitude by saying “Thank you” or showing my appreciation

3) Doing something healthy for myself (such as exercising, eating a healthy meal, taking my vitamins, reading an inspirational book, etc.)

4) Fulfilling a guilty, but positive pleasure (such as having dessert after dinner, treating myself to a movie, wearing no underwear to bed, not counting my daily calories and intake or tracking the time I exercised)

5) Doing something kind and selfless for someone else (such as listening to them vent without expressing my opinion, letting someone over into my driving lane, taking the time to see how you can help someone less fortunate like the homeless)

6) Speaking positivity into my day and allowing my spirit to believe that my words are not just an affirmation, but a reality waiting to be revealed


I personally feel that all of these challenges will allow for me to reach a level of contentment and happiness that I feel I deserve, and they will encourage me to achieve a state of serenity. No matter what is happening around us, we have a choice of how we will handle the situation. And it is time for me (and you) to take control of the myriad thoughts that trickle in when we do our best to block them out. We all deserve the opportunity to reach the place of serenity that we need in order to survive this “crazy thing called life”.

PRAYER FOR SERENITY: God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can & wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time. Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will. So that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. AMEN. ~Reinhold Niebuhr

Have you established your own list of challenges that have helped you to achieve serenity? Any good ideas that others can consider? Please Do Tell Nicola…

Karmic Incentives & Consequences: Is it YOU or FATE?!


  • (in Hinduism and Buddhism) the sum of a person’s actions in this and previous states of existence, viewed as deciding their fate in future existences.
  • informal
 destiny or fate, following as effect from cause.

Have you ever wondered if your thoughts or actions bring about any karmic incentives or consequences? I believe it depends on you and your perception on life. Are you someone who believes everything is based on fate, or the development of events beyond a person’s control, regarded as determined by a supernatural power? Basically, if you believe in fate, you agree that things are destined to happen or turn out in a particular way, no matter what actions you or someone else makes. And on the other hand, you might be someone who believes that your fate, or karma, is directly determined by your thoughts or actions. For example, if you steal something from a store, something special might be stolen from your possession.

As I have been working on the next phase of my life and making the decision to implement a change of pace and place, I have been considering my own personal karmic incentives and consequences. I have been struggling with my thoughts to determine whether or not I believe that the experiences that I am experiencing are directly based on my thoughts and actions, or if they are indirectly based on the fact that my fate has already been predetermined and I am simply just living the journey that I have been destined to live.

First, I used rationale. The reality is that there is good and bad in everyone… Even the kindest person can find himself or herself feeling anger, guilt or regret. Even the kindest person has a breaking point where they can no longer handle their own experiences or the not-so-kind people that they might be subjected to dealing with on a daily basis. And even if this kind person doesn’t act on their initial feelings like many others do, their thoughts are inevitable. So does this kind person not deserve any bad Karma because they did not act on their feelings or wish any “bad” on someone else? If that is the case, why do so many bad things happen to so many “good people”?

And visa versa… even the cruelest person could have their moment of sincerity, kindness, and compassion? They might give a homeless person on the street the change they received from their early morning coffee purchase on the way to their successful, corporate job. Some might say they were being vain and that coffee change didn’t mean anything to them, so they weren’t really being sincere, kind or compassionate; they (the ‘cruel person’) just didn’t prefer to have loose change moving around in their corporate suit. If this is the case, why does it seem as though many ”bad people” get away with so much?

It was important for me to consider why it is that those who appear to be good and kind (and they really may be that) seem to get a pass in their “weak” moments. And why does the ‘greedy’ corporate man seem to always be judged and expected to be nothing but insincere when they are doing something kind. Whether or not they didn’t want to keep that change in their pockets, there are some people who bypass the homeless (some who really want to eat and not buy alcohol or drugs), thinking, “if they didn’t want to be homeless they’d work harder”. So the bypasser doesn’t think that homeless person deserves their loose change. Don’t get me wrong. Yes, there are many homeless individuals out there who do really want the money for drugs/alcohol, but that’s not really the point, is it? It’s the thought behind the mind of the giver.

If I am a person who does not have much integrity or tends to make unethical decisions on a consistent basis, yes, I may be deemed immoral and others may feel that I deserve to reap karmic consequences because of how I have treated others. But the reality is that many people who do “bad things” tend to get away with a lot, or more than one would think they should.

It was important for me to consider this because it helped me to come to the conclusion that considering that we are all capable of good and bad, none of us is better than the other or deserves to pay for our actions for the ‘rest of our lives’ (this does not include consequences such as contracting HIV/AIDS because a person chose to intentionally play with people’s hearts and sleep with as many partners as possible without using protection OR the person who decided to take up a profession of robbing and after being shot by the store owner they were left paralyzed) based on the ridicule of others, especially if we are making a mends and trying to be better. We all deserve to suffer the consequences to our actions, then we also deserve the opportunity to forgive ourselves, be forgiven by others, and move on with our lives as we attempt to make more moralistic decisions. But another reality is that, our world is just not like that. Our world is cruel, unforgiving, tough, rough, and sometimes too much for many of us to bear (i.e. resorting to drugs, alcohol, traumatically or fatally hurting others or ourselves).

This conclusion then brought me to believe that our karma isn’t really based on our actions. For example, imagine the little boy in your 3rd grade class who was bullied because he was scrawny and awkward, and his parents couldn’t or wouldn’t help him. He was bullied all the way through high school, until he grew some and his handsome features appeared. The life of this boy could have gone several ways. He could have considered using drugs/alcohol to numb his pain, or even killing himself. Or the bad karma that others put out could’ve in turn resulted in good karma for him and he could’ve turned into an all-star athlete. How is karma determined? What if the boy decided to go down the negative route and started using drugs, and thus, he began stealing from his parents and hurting others physically/emotionally in the process. Maybe even became a felon himself.

Yes, society would blame this boy for his own actions. His family would be disappointed in him and possibly disown him. Is this what this boy deserved? He was just a boy. He was lost. He was not given proper guidance. He was neglected and abused himself and just put out what he was given. Yes, we all have the will to make our own choices. Sometimes we may or may not be aware of what the best choice is and if we are even making a bad decision. And let’s say, after he turned bad and began to hurt others. The people that he hurt… they then began to try to seek revenge on this boy. One might say that is what the boy deserved. That was his karma for others to seek revenge on him. But what about the people who began to seek revenge? One might say they were justified in acting in this inappropriate, bad karma-like manner. But now they are just as bad as the boy or the kids who bullied him. Do they now deserve to reap bad karmic consequences? When you intentionally do something to someone (even if it is based on hurt feelings and the things done to you), is that when you deserve karmic consequences or do you get a pass during that ‘moment of weakness’?

Have you ever wondered if your thoughts or actions bring about any karmic incentives or consequences, or if the things that happen to you (good or bad) are solely based on fate and the predetermined destiny already chosen for you? I believe it depends on you and your perception on life. I believe karma consists of both our thoughts/actions and our predetermined fate. Karma is a powerful term whether or not you believe we have any control over its existence in our lives. Now, I think it is important for me to consider how karma (actions/thoughts and predetermined fate) affects the future of our physical and spiritual (i.e. where will we go when we die?)

As I told you before, I have been considering Buddhism, so in a future post I surely intend to do some further research into the term Karma and the religion of Buddhism, in order to further expand on my personal experiences and opinions. Please share your thoughts. Have you experienced any karmic incentives or consequences? Do you think those incentives and consequences were based on your thoughts/action or predetermined fate, or both? Do Tell Nicola…