It was four in the morning. I was looking at the laptop backpack full of shoes and clothes, thinking if air company would allow me to bring that in the plane. Lyft driver was waiting for us while the rain was becoming heavy. My summer sneakers were almost all wet, but I only cared to get to the airport on time, hoping we hadn’t forgotten anything important like passport or tickets, booked only couple hours ago.

I came to States as research fellow at Rice University in Houston, hoping I will dive into serious academic work and move frontier of area I am interested in. So between ups and downs, clean and dirty code we, my fellows from Serbia and me, planned to spend a weekend in Vegas. As “good” kids, we scheduled plane and accommodation days ahead. But two days before our trip we had realized we wouldn’t be able to fly because of the predicted storm. As “good” kids we forgot about Vegas and went to supermarket to buy enough food and water.

Well, not exactly.

Running from hurricane Harvey, I was running out of my comfort zone.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. — Mahatma Gandhi

I reminded myself how important is to monitor yourself. Observing what excites you and what rejects you is the first step in defining your values. If we do not recognize our truth, we cannot shape our life according to it, thus cannot feel long term happiness. I have traveled before, but this was the first time I have felt with laser precision what was driving smile from my face making my mind, although tired and nervous to enjoy the moment. Maybe all that pressure did make crystal clear diamond thoughts in my head.

As Gandhi sad, be sure you live according to your values, but monitor yourself to realize what those values are.

Beautiful harmony of melody, light and water at Bellagio fountains, dazzling pinkish blue sky and hot wind from desert made my lips to open and my heart rate to go up. It was not just composition that took my breath but all circumstances which brought me there. A girl from small Balkan country on computer science research encouraged by her insane companions and rushed by storm is standing in front of this magic. Like our story was not the most logical and probable one, it was not too logical for Vegas itself to be there. The shiniest place on Earth in the middle of desert! But yet, here we are, standing together against odds, trying to find our own harmony. Hoping that with our vision and knowledge we will make sparkle in the world.

Do not wait for hurricane to experience the incredible things. Go ahead, be brave and fierce.

Let your wish for excellence be the strongest storm in your life.

When I realized that I can’t go back to Houston, I was lucky enough to have wonderful friends in States who invited me to their home. These couple days at New Jersey, surrounded by love and laughter, I felt like at home, safe and sound. With no particular reason, I was really happy.

Sometimes, while chasing our goals we may become unaware of the many beautiful things. We take for granted parent’s care and love, friend’s patience or partner’s understanding. We focus, because it is so important, but sometimes that focus doesn’t actually sharpen the bigger picture. I had many accomplishments which made me incredibly proud and happy but I also have couple persons in my life who are making me happy each day. So, it is good to bear in mind to be grateful to those kind of things because that could be the strongest driving force.

Many things can push you forward. Anger and ambition even disappointment and sorrow. But only meaningful relationships can be the good wind while sailing through challenge and soft pillow when failing in the same time.

Be grateful to love you have and try to give your love not only to ones that deserve but also to ones that need.

Math and coffee lover, passionate for data science and encouraging girls in STEM