Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life is not to be tolerated.

"You ruin your life by tolerating it. 
At the end of the day you should be excited to be alive. 
When you settle for anything less than what you innately desire, you destroy the possibility that lives inside of you, and in that way you cheat both yourself and the world of your potential. 

The next Michelangelo could be sitting behind a Macbook right now writing an invoice for paperclips, because it pays the bills, or because it is comfortable, or because he can tolerate it. 
Do not let this happen to you. 
Do not ruin your life this way. 

Life and work, and life and love, 
are not irrespective of each other. 
They are intrinsically linked. 

We have to strive to do extraordinary work, 
we have to strive to find extraordinary love. 
Only then will we tap into an extraordinarily blissful life. " 

-Bianca Sparacino

Humanity above all...pass it on.

While I don't think John McCain's speech on the CIA interrogation report ended with the line that truly expresses the intent of the speech, I just did it for him with the title of this it isn't lost.

We're getting deep here, but depth is where roots seek their strength and nutrients, and so shall we.

Torture exists in this world, and nearly any logical or feeling human on the planet will agree to it, not only for their own security, but for the security of their own friends and families whose lives might be affected should they NOT choose to oppose torture.  What a wonderful world it could be if we all began to act on our ideals instead of reacting with momentary lapses of judgement, misinformation, or ignorance.  There is room for good decision making when we take the time and step away from a situation, but having standards and ideals in place that guide our actions have the capacity to make these split-second reactions something that upholds human dignity and respect for human lives.

Like a song from the musical-turned-movie "Into the Woods" mentions..."you are not alone" but "they," whomever may be against you, "are also not alone."  "No one is alone."  We all have reason behind what we are doing, generally a belief that we are right and that anyone against us is wrong.  This, of course, is a dangerous way to think.  I encourage people to seek out information, challenge you own ideas.  It doesn't mean they will change, but give them the possibility to grow and evolve.  This is why I prefer having open debate and communication about political issues.  Issues exist because we DON'T all how can we understand one another better if we are not willing to be respectful of the other side?  How can we ask them to understand our side?

This is not only true within our own countries and their political systems.  This is also relevant on a global scale.  We are all unique individuals, and also members of one giant human race.  We couldn't POSSIBLY agree on everything (and how boring the world would be if we did), but because we do not agree, perhaps a better goal than to agree is to seek to understand.  I do not like the fact that there are people who do not know me that want me wiped out because I am from where I am from, but I recognize that there must be some guiding factors that have brought those people to that conclusion.  How can I change their opinion if I don't know what it is or how it was formed?  How can I show them that they were misinformed if I don't take the time and energy to understand what they were informed, in order to seek out a way to resolve it?

This basic idea is related to the very serious issue of torture for information.  When we do not respect where others come from (literally and/or figuratively), we are unable to communicate with them on any meaningful level.  We are unable to gain useful information and worse than that, their opinions and hate grows stronger because we show what they have been taught to believe?  It plays directly into the hands of their teacher.  In the scenario of torture, we have become the cruel ones.  We have become the lawless ones.  We have become the enemy to the security, safety, and peace that we aspire to.  And so, this speech by John McCain explains.  We are human, and therefore we deserve respect.  Anyone can be your enemy, but that should never be such a crime that you are willing to stoop below your level, to deny lawfulness and goodness, or to disregard the innate right to life and dignity that we all wish this, "no one is alone."

Let us act with the respect we would hope for in return.  
Let us remember the ideals that we stand for.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Don't Give Up (A Poem of Motivation)

The mind is a beautiful thing...

Just read an excellent blog post about a student (who is learning to be a teacher) expressing the biggest learning experience for her at completion of her course.  These are a few of the one-liners that I loved:

The power of the mind is immense – is it not?

...what if everyone encouraged each other to harness their abilities physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually…

Could you imagine what the world would be like if we all encouraged each other’s greatness?

Love your mind and it will love you back.

Read the full post here!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Older is Wiser.

I've grown up around old people.

What I mean is, for as long as I can remember my mother has worked with the elderly, so I was always at adult day care centers or nursing homes where I was the youngest, by a long shot.  We got along well.  They were always friendly and easy to talk to.  Sometimes, when they didn't have all of their wits about them anymore, they could be scary because I didn't really understand what was going on, but for the most part, they were fascinating to me and I was equally fascinating to them.  I remember when I was a teenager, they really LOVED my dog when I brought her in.  They had so many questions.  The curiosity of the elderly is amazing.  You'd think after living for so long you'd be "over it" but I think maybe curiosity is a side effect of boredom.  Maybe the spark of excitement creates curiosity because it drags us away from the hum-drum of our daily lives.

So old people.

They've lived longer than us (I'll probably say this even when I'm older than "they" are).  By living longer, they have had (by default) more experience on this Earth than we have.  I think this is a fair enough reason to say they are wiser than us, if they have ever taken even a few moments to reflect on those extra years of experience...

This has often made me wonder why I was the only child at the elderly adult centers, except during class field trips, of course, but I don't think most kids go on field trips to nursing homes...I think I was kind of unique, because of my mom (thanks Mom).

When I lived in Costa Rica, I noticed something lightyears different from the US culture;  I realized I didn't know anyone's age.  In the US, we gage by what level of school or college someone is in.  Oftentimes, we only run with people of a certain age group, even though we socialize in office settings with whomever happens to be employed there.  In Costa Rica, though, I didn't know how old people were and they didn't know how old their friends were unless they had gone to school within a grade or two of one another.

Why don't they know their ages?  I surmise, after years of pondering, that it has to do with the way that the culture assimilates all of its age groups into all activities and the way that elders are respected as wise and worth respecting, the way we learned that Native Americans did with their elders (and some of us learned when growing up, but I dare not say that is a common lesson).  Costa Ricans are not only respectful of their elders, but they are integrated parts of their lives.  I don't mean to say that grandmothers are out at the clubs, but I'll tell you that 16 year olds routinely hang out with 45 or 50 year olds because everyone is an integral part of the society there.  People are constantly learning and befriending one another.  There is always something new to discover.  There is always advice to be had.  I think the elders are flattered by their younger counterparts and the underlings are excited to be grown up and part of the adult world.  This goes for all ages in some way.

This is why I'm not at all surprised by Dr. Karl Pillemer's interest not only in the elderly, but in connecting them with younger generations, and inspiring those generations to seek out their elders in return.  His means of doing this thus far have been to be the telephone cable that connects the two through writing.  He interviews and writes about it, and everyone else reads.  I think there is still a major disconnect, though I'm glad to see that the wisdom is at least being passed along in some way.

I wish it were easier to have a more integrated society instead of the agist gaps that we see in social groups.  Even bars and restaurants seem to cater to (or at least become home bases for) certain age ranges.  If you don't believe me, do a search online and you'll find that most reviews give age ranges of people who frequent them.

One of the best things I have seen recently was the documentary Andrew Jenks, Room 335 about a teen who seeks out an assisted living facility where he could live amongst seniors for a month.  Now, I initially imagined that a month wasn't enough time to really get an idea of anything...but after seeing their film, I'm convinced otherwise.  These young men did an excellent job of showing the bonds and friendship formed, the sub-culture of the senior communities, the cliques and the problems with their care systems.  It is currently available on Netflix and I highly recommend it, even if your only goal is a good laugh!  Andrew mentions at the beginning of the documentary that he is doing it for his own agenda...and I don't know that his agenda was every really explained.  I like to think it might be a type of real-life experiment with the goals of Dr. Pellimer in mind.

What if college dorms were actually shared with the elderly?  It's absurd, but this was an idea that was sparked by watching Jenks' experiment.  How do we integrate these important members into a society that is routinely removing them from our daily lives?  How do we connect with them on a more personal level as not only family but as friends and confidants?  How do we become ageless, like Costa Ricans?

After seeing the documentary and reading the article recently published about the findings of Dr. Pellimer, I can't help but wonder...perhaps an ageless society is a healthier one.  Perhaps when we live and interact with all stages of life, it makes us more whole in some way.  We become more present as we are able to better grasp the joy of the life we are given when new life enters the world, and the understanding of how fleeting it is, when we lose an old friend and guide.  Perhaps we get better at living in the present because we see the whole range of our lives being lived out by those we surround ourselves with.  When we are young, we will be included and made to feel older, and when we are old we will undoubtedly feel younger because of our interactions with the youthful excitement and energy around us, and we will all be more vibrant, interesting and wise for it.

Maybe older is wiser, but perhaps ageless is the wisest.

Holocaust...and Why Remembering is Good

Holocaust: bad.  Remembering: good.  

People.  Life.  Future.

These three things are more than enough reason for me.

It is right to honor people, many just like you and me, who were rounded up for something someone didn't like about them.  We should remember their lives because they are people, and when we remember them, they still live.

It is right to be thankful for life, and remembering that death will come, and often far too early and for terrible reasons, is a stark contrast that reminds us to appreciate the life we DO have.

Remembering makes us aware of mistakes and it makes us capable of a better future.  The people who survived (and even many who didn't) hoped for a better future than the situation in which they were living.  Keep hoping, keep seeking out the future of your dreams because you are alive today!

In the words of a very young and brilliant-beyond-her-years young woman...

"People will always follow a good example: be the one to set a good example, then it won't be too long before the others follow...How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment.  We can start now.  Start slowly changing the world!  How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make their contribution toward introducing justice straight away...And you can always, always give something.  Even if it is only kindness."

I couldn't have said it better.

May you live with kindness and hope today and always.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Maroon 5...Light Up and Smile!

You've probably already seen this, because it has over 68 million views right now on YouTube, but it totally made my day to see Maroon 5 make an awesome day even BETTER for some lucky LA couples.  I couldn't help but smile at the completely natural and awesome reactions of all the people involved.  What a great idea!

Kudos, Maroon 5...for making people light up and smile!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Moments That Make You Feel Alive... know exactly what I'm talking about, don't you?  Moments that you think back on and they make you smile, they make your heart race, and they bring back the fondest feel connected.

One of these moments for me was at a concert in Costa Rica...not because it was a huge concert (because that has it's own capacity to invoke this feeling) but because for hours we sat through direct sun, then rain, and finally night fell.  We awaited the reggae artist Jah Cure, whose style is almost pop-y in nature because of its romantic style and smooth lyrics.

There were two areas: the VIP (the front half of the area) and the General Admission (the back half).  I imagine that the concert coordinators thought they would have more VIP buyers but at $100 per ticket in a country where many people make $2/hour, that was a tough sell, even with so many famous artists.  So, as you might have guessed, VIP had maybe 100 people mulling about at the front of the stage, then the rest of us were about 100 yards behind them, restrained by 2 levels of fences and security guards to patrol the perimeter.

The view from General Admission...look at all of that open SPACE!!

Like I said, thousands of us spent hours amongst ourselves, distant from the artists, but enjoying the company and the entertainment when it became known that Jah Cure would be next on stage.

The presenters, preparing the crowd (in English and Spanish) for Jah Cure!

People had been anxious for a while.  Many had tried to cross the barriers and were escorted out of the venue by the guards but there was an air of rebellion that we could all feel coming.  You could tell the artists prior to "The Cure" had been lacking their usual power being so disconnected from the majority of their audience, and Jah Cure was no different.  He began his second ballad "Love Is" and all hell broke loose...the general admission crowd couldn't hold back any longer and we stormed the barriers and the guards, rushing to the stage to be close to one the the headlining artists of the night in his first appearance in Central America.

The moment.

That moment.  That build-up of excitement and waiting.  That moment of "go" / "vamos" felt by the entire crowd was a moment that made me feel alive.  Even thinking back on it, I can't help but smile.  It was not just the power of the crowd.  It was not just rebellion in face of "the man."  It was holding hands with the people I came with, running and screaming and laughing and singing.  It was alive.

We made it to the VIP section all together!  The crowd was elated!  What a rush!

What is a moment that made you feel truly alive?

Music, passion, healthcare...

Music, passion, healthcare.  When these things are combined, they can lead to better morale, decreased need for pain medications, and increased overall health and healing.  The world is lucky to have young male nurse, Jared Axen, who is not only passionate about his patients, but also about music.  He uses his voice and music to soothe and connect with them while they are in his care.

We should all strive to find such ways to reach out to others with our passions!

Thanks for sharing your voice Jared.  You make the world a better place!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Participatory Witness Life

SO excited to be starting a new way of witnessing life in the upcoming weeks...

I killed a cactus once in my younger days but I've always dreamt of having a garden and growing my own food.  I wanted this so much, that I included it in my 30x30 list and since my days are numbered (literally, I'm using the T-Zero app on my phone) I decided today that it was time to get started.  I ordered 10 or 11 different seed types online along with 25 seed starters (because let's be honest, I haven't the slightest idea about soils and such...YET).  All of the seeds are vegetables and herbs, organic and definitely NO-GMOs...because seriously...messing with the DNA of natural things isn't smart.  I probably shouldn't have chosen plants that are as big as some of these in my little apartment, but you gotta' just start sometimes and see what happens...

Wish me luck!  
How are you witnessing and participating in life these days??

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

If you're looking for a job these days...

here are a few things you should check out before you send your cover letter, resume/CV, or anything else...that is, if you actually WANT the job you'd like to apply for...

1)  USE A LEGIT EMAIL SERVER.  I know what is "legit" is really up to opinion, but execs and headhunters are picky, and you're just trying to get the job.   Set up a gmail account, because it's easy and free and the reviewers are often turned off by the "wayside" servers like "yahoo" "aol" and "hotmail."  Not saying it's right, just that it's true.

2)  If the job you are seeking is somehow related to media, make sure you can be found in a google search.  ***I don't think being "searchable" is good for all professions, as seems to be suggested in the original article, but if your job relates to being sociable...and reachable.

3)  Again, if you're interested in anything related to media or marketing...make sure you are currently active on any of those searchable sites where your name will be found.  Saying you're awesome with social media but not actively engaging is going to be futile when seeking a position which requires it.

4)  Just make your Facebook pics private, already, PERIOD.  There is no reason for people looking for you that don't know you to see ANY of your pictures, except for a decent profile picture and possibly a banner-thing.  Other than those images, privatize yourself, they can see you in person at your interview if they want to know more about you.  And while we're at it, if your Instagram is anything other than landscapes and puppies, you should probably make that private, too.

5)  No selfies on LinkedIn.  I know, pro headshots aren't for everyone, but have a friend or coworker take a pic of you in front of an appropriate background when you're having a good hair day and be done with it.

6)  Your phone number should be on your resume, if you're missing that we need a separate "resumes for beginner's article" (let me know I am happy to help, we all start somewhere).  A lot of industries are also interested in you enumerating your accomplishments...literally, though, with facts and figures.  So do yourself a favor and make your accomplishments count (pun intended) on paper.

7)  Be succinct.  You don't need to prove you graduated...they can see that from your list of degrees.  They want to know if you can communicate and interact with people and how you do don't be a talking dictionary.

8)  If you're in any sort of media, marketing, publishing (please tell me this doesn't apply to you) or other non-design-specific field...write something:  a review, a blog, an article, a post...something.  ANYTHING.  In my field, I wish writing and communication were taken more seriously, but it's design-related so people care much more about pretty pictures but MOST positions require you to be able to (repeat of #7) communicate effectively and efficiently (and sometimes to be entertaining, too)!  So write something and then you'll have something to talk about that you do if you have nothing else to bring up at your interview.

9)  Narrow down what you want to do.  If you want to work for a specific company but you don't know in what capacity...get on LinkedIn and look up managers and contact them and tell them about you and what you're talents and skills and interests are and see if there is a specific job that is best for you to apply to.  Don't apply to all of them.  It'll make you look desperate and/or confuse the hiring manager and/or make them think you're flaky because if you don't know which job you want, how do they know you'll stay in it if they hire you?

10)  Spellcheck.  It's 2015.  You're submitted your docs on a computer.  If you haven't figured out that you can spellcheck your document on whatever device you are using then we need to rewind and go back to the start.  SPELL CHECK.

and because I like uneven numbers...

11)  Be yourself.  I know that seems hard when everything else seems like a rule, but sometimes changing up the way your letter looks makes you stand out because it shows your personality or your creativity.  Be sure that it's still legible and appropriate, but don't be afraid to show your own style.  Being memorable can get you a long way when it's done right!

The inspiration from this list can be found here but obviously the original was altered to reflect my own experiences and advice for you.  Hope this helps!  NOW GO GET THAT DREAM JOB!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Magnificence of Chaos

Life, Transience, & Love

For the person I love.
For the people I love.
When I am melancholy, please know that it is solely my recognition that life is transient and my grief at knowing it will someday end.  Do not be afraid though, because I do not run away from it, I grip tighter and I do not let go.  
I love you.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Letting go of what you imagined...

"By letting go of what you thought was going to happen in your life, you can enjoy what is actually happening." 

- Taylor Negron (1958-2015), self-proclaimed "That Guy"

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Be strong

Joe Rogan's "Society Trap"

Been saying this for years...thanks Joe Rogan for saying it BETTER 
(viewers: mind the swear words).

Contributing in a meaningful way.
Becoming individuals that develop and act in unique ways.
Investing our time in something we are passionate or connected to.
Wearing what makes you comfortable.
Living outside of a machine.
Doing what you want to do and expressing what's in your mind.

Never give up

A monkey is electrocuted on power lines above a train track in India.  What happened for the next 20 minutes is nothing short of miraculous and awesome, not only because of the outcome, but because of our ability to see our own humanity in the acts of another species that is not so far removed.

Love each other.
Always give your best effort.
Help others in need.
Never give up.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Rumi's water drop...

Perhaps the reason why we are so often drawn to a body of water, the shore, the place where earth and water collide.  

You are a small piece of everything 
and everything is a small piece of you!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Seek Joy: it Comes in Exponential Multipliers

Dreading work every morning?

You're not alone but that doesn't mean it's "normal" or that you should just "get used to it" the way many people do.  When you're hating your job, sometimes it's easy to remember times when people complained about theirs and chalk your job-loathing up to standard fare, but the reality is there are some people who actually LOVE their jobs.  They not only wake up excited about working but sometimes they don't go to sleep because they can't STOP working the night before...and not out of deadlines, stress, or job security pressures, but because they enjoy what they do and believe in the mission and purpose of their work.

I'm not saying everyone has that.  It would be a lie.  But I do believe we are all capable of it.

I started a job once and months later (while absolutely MISERABLE) I found a note from my first day to a friend telling him it was the worst first day I'd had in my life and I knew I should start looking for a new job.  It took me about 7 months from that first day email to become so depressed by my coworkers and my boss that I felt like a failure.  My self-worth was down, my hopes for future opportunities were low, and my self-esteem and belief that I even had the skills to do my job were nearly non-existent.  By month 8 I'd had enough and started to REALLY re-do my portfolio and send resumes and do that dreaded networking thing where I actually ASKED people for their HELP (*gasp*) and 9 months after I entered hell, I exited... On my own account and because I knew I needed to change my position in order to change my life.

What a difference a job makes.  Your coworkers can put you down or bring you up.  Your boss can support you or bowl you over.  Responsibilities can break you down or help you build skills and confidence.  A lot of this has to do with them, but a lot of it also has to do with you feel about the situation, the work, the environment and, as I've found, about your life and how your job fits the life you want.

This is where it gets tricky because I think most of us dream of being a millionaire chilling on a beach with a cocktail, but in practice that isn't REALLY the thing that would make us wake up and feel passionate about life each day (at least not EVERY day).  Family, friends, travel, sports, other hobbies...those big LIFE things, that are actually the things that tend to bring us the most joy?  You guessed it; When they are suffering, we suffer.

I think oftentimes those things suffer because of how we feel at work, and then how we feel at work suffers from our personal life suffering.  It becomes cyclical by nature because when we are unhappy, we see unhappy things, and we breed unhappy outcomes and we see the negativity.  Likewise, however, when we are positive and we are happy, we find it easier to look past faults and to see the greater good in things and this is why if you wake up every morning and you are dreading work... 1) it's not just WORK that is suffering by the time you get to this point and 2) you need to change it before the backlash on the rest of your life becomes toxic.

Now yes, you may argue that you can't just change jobs every time your bf breaks up with you and you've eaten gallons of Ben & Jerry's, or every time that a shooter has entered a school, mosque or gas station, or every time that you've cried because you have way too many hormones flying, because these things, though they affect you, are not necessarily work-related, so it's important to analyze things properly.  What I'm saying is, not wanting to get up in the morning is not the same as dreading going to work in the morning...capisce?

So once you realize it's not just that you're hungover from a Thursday night out or dead tired from enjoying a Lord of the Rings marathon that you started at 5pm the night before that is making you want to stay in bed, it's time to get cracking on changing your situation...because even though a lot of people do it, no one really WANTS to wake up and hate what they do every day.  No one wants to go do something that they don't believe in or that doesn't inspire them or that doesn't make them feel like they are accomplishing something every day.  You have the power to change it.  Changing your job changes your life...when you find the right one, it'll change it for the best.

For more on this topic and ideas on how to change jobs to find a happier life, check out the Forbes article that inspired this rant post!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Love is my religion...

Given the recent events around the world naming religion as the reason for hatred and violence, I figure it is the perfect time to post what religion is TRULY about...loving one another.  We may disagree.  We may argue.  We are not perfect.  But whether religious or not, the most human thing we can do is LOVE.

Christians protect Muslims in Egypt to allow them to pray in peace during the Egyptian revolution...

...and Muslims protect Christians in Egypt during their mass.

Love is religion and these religious groups know that religion is Love.

If it's in you, give.

One Stitch Closer...poetry for life

"Do not let this universe regret you."

I advocate being passionate.  
I advocate jumping first, and you'll figure out how to land when you get there. 
Everything is possible and nothing is off limits. - Azure

I LOVE LOVE LOVE these GAP-sponsored stories about real women making a difference in not only their own lives but in the lives of others.  SO awesome.  <3