Monthly Archives: March 2016

[Celebrate] International Women’s Day

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“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

As a child, one of my favorite things was to sit in my parents laps while exploring my sorted multi cultural history.  Though today’s world has become more and more of an ethnic melting pot, back in the 1980’s and 1990’s, Mixed Families were fewer and further between but within that caveat of a childhood – there was so much to explore on each side of the family.  Starting when I was in elementary school and going much into adulthood, one of my favorite past times has been learning about and contextualizing my complex family history, on all three sides.

When I was three, my parents split and my father remarried – though i don’t consider myself the product of a ‘broken home’ by society’s standards – I definitely didn’t have a normal upbringing, but my parents always implored how important it was to embrace your roots – no matter where they led. but, for as much as I learned about his side of the family, my grandmother’s parents trials and tribulations leaving Lithuania and Ireland on my father’s side, and into the throws of slave history in Southern, Creole African-America on my Mother’s Side, and a family lineage that I’ve fallen in love with time and time again.

In a predominantly patriarchal society where men are more often than not named after their fathers, and the fathers before them – I’m proud to come from a long line of women that were named in honor of each other.  Yep, my mother, her mother and my great grandmother were all named Lola – I broke the mold by matriculating over to Amanda, but in the back of my head I just can’t help it, and in the depths of my heart I can feel it: I’m a Lola, too.  And then, on my mother’s father’s side of the family – my great grandmother Anita Scott Coleman honed in on life in the American South West and became a prominent author of the Harlem Renaissance, and one of the only women, speaking out about the trials and tribulations of African American culture.  Emblazoning a path that both my mother, and myself, were privy to.

My mother, who deserves an essay or three just about what she’s accomplished in her lifetime, has been one of the biggest role models – if not the role model for my lifetime.  Growing up in Compton in the 1950’s and 60’s with her nose to the books, my mother became valedictorian of her high school and went to both Stanford Undergrad and Grad school on scholarship.  A vital resource in the maths and sciences, she’s not only helped me propel my love of both into both a college major and then into career, but she was a math tutor for my classes growing up – touching the lives and brains of peers left and right. Beyond just being a mother, she was my mentor, my peer and someone I’ve always aspired to be regardless of our differences. Nurture being just as important as nature, I was as influenced by my step-mother as I was my birth mother.  Separating when I was less than two years old, I never had a full grasp on the idea of ‘divorce’, but over time I became increasingly aware of the influence my step mother had in my life – from her calming presence to her endearing anecdotes and nurturing personality.

Whenever I look back on my upbringing with my adult onset hindsight, the trials and tribulations of my teenage years and calamity of college behind me,  I’m continually blown away by the notion that I’ve been surrounded by intelligent, independent, loving, charismatic and creative women my entire life;  women that have done more than pave the way for my family line to excel in the great beyond, but they’ve had a complete affect on the exterior world as well.  Now that I’ve had ample time to process the cross cultural melting pot that’s defined where I’ve come from and all of the idiosyncrasies that amass into who I am in the context of today’s society, I’ve become overwhelmed with pride for the female predecessors who’ve paved the way for the women of today and have fought for gender equity and equality, as well as a host of other social rights – not to mention, the right to vote and the right to choose. 

The nuanced difference between ‘Gender Equity’ and ‘Gender Equality’is an important facet of Women’s Rights.   Gender Equity implies that men and women are given the same resources and programs within society, a way of promoting gender ‘fairness’ and implying a world of equal opportunity regardless of your given sex. A byproduct of  Gender Equity, Gender Equality correlates to a society where men and women can cohesively have access to and enjoy the same facets of society; it seems one cannot exist without the other.

 

Though I don’t necessarily think that women need a day set aside from men to honor their achievements, every now and again it’s beneficial to give ourselves pause and understand the brevity of our history, the circumstances that we fought against and others that we conquered. The irony, at times, is that it feels like women can hold our gender back as much – if not more – than men do.  Be it ‘slut’ shaming, body shaming or gossip behind each others backs, the catty behaviors we engage in with each other wage small battles between us women instead of focusing on the bigger gender inequality ‘war’ at hand and speak volumes on our personal self-esteem.  As women, we can accomplish more together than we can as individuals – but that’s only if we have each others undivided support, not their indifference.  Instead of talking about them, talk to them – if there’s something you don’t understand, don’t immediately dislike it – seek to be engaged. Women as a whole can’t be propelled forward if we’re trying to hold each other back. We can influence the world to be collectively better through creativity, courage and charisma instead of cold shoulders and callous behavior.  Not to mention, It’s the 21st century, and it’s time to embrace our independence, intelligence and sexual identities.

Within every vertical of society, from science and technology to sports, women have been valiantly leveling the playing field while defying the odds and overcoming adversity. In 1896, Wyoming became the first state to give Women the vote, in 1916 the United States elected the first woman to the House of Representatives, and now in 2016 – there’s a chance we could see our first woman president. Billie Jean King put Women on the map in the Tennis world decades ago, fast forward to modern times and we have Becky Hammon as the first female coach in the NBA working as a Part Time coach for the San Antonio Spurs while the Buffalo Bills have brought on Kathryn Smith as the NFL’s First Full Time Female Coach.

If you’re still in the mood for inspiration, fantastic creative females like Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, Etta Jamesand Amy Tan seep their literature and music in their femininity while historical figures like Harriet Tubman, Sally Ride, Mae C. Jemison, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Marie Curie, Margaret Mead, Rosa Parks, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Page and so many more have caused our society to have in depth, personal and social reflections and explorations on what it means to revel in femininity. These are w omen that not only taught me grace, beauty, independence and determination, but that it’s more than okay to fight for what you want, it’s mandatory if you are seeking to change the way the world accepts you. It’s the 21st century and it’s time to stop seeing gender as a quantitative category that defines and holds back members of society and instead see it as a platform to engage.

Whether old or young, a mentor, a parent or a friend – celebrate the women in your life by discovering their passions and providing support while they unleash themselves on the world.   In honor of International Women’s Day, I’ve included a fantastic TED Talk from Reshma Saujani entitled ‘Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection’ – an important piece of advice for women and the men who love, cherish, admire and learn from them.

Who are the most influential women in your life and how are you choosing to celebrate them today?

Celebrated annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day is a chance to honor the dedicated, driven, determined women working for gender equality around the globe while at the same time, revel in Women’s achievements across cultural, social, economic and political spheres, in addition to gender equality.

 For more on International Women’s Day, head to their website and socials:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

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[The Audiofiles] Kendrick Lamar Surprises with Raw ‘untitled unmastered’ EP

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Over the last decade, the scope of the music industry has been a’changin.  Not only do we  live in an era where social media is king and YouTube stars receive as much praise as multi platinum rockstars, but with the influx of a menagerie of streaming music services – including Pandora, Spotify, Tidal and the like – over, the past five years there has been a severe decline in album sales. While many artists depend on well calculated content calendars and PR specialists to passionately promote and push their music, the truly talented have the ability to be propelled to centerstage based on their craft alone.

Back at the end of 2013, Beyonce’s self titled artist album landed on iTunes before it was on the music blogs, kick-starting a long list of surprise releases – including Drake’s ‘If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late’, Skrillex’s 2014 bombshell of an album ‘Recess and U2’s obnoxiously placed ‘Songs of Innocence’ which wound up on my iPod without my consent. Kendrick Lamar‘s last album – ‘To Pimp a Butterfly‘ was released a week early because of a mixup behind the scenes, and now his latest venture has mysteriously matriculated into Spotify rotation over night.

Invariably, a collection of past tracks that have finally seen the light of day, ‘untitled unmastered’ is an 8 track lyrical introspection layered with textured instrumentals and a grimy feel. Each track is labeled with an ominous ‘untitled #’ with a date ranging from 2013 to 2014, except for track 7, which appears to have been touched again in 2016; and if we look at his artist path in a linear fashion, these tracks appear to have been born around the same time he was working on ‘TPaB‘, and potentially are demos that never made the final cut.

Take it for a spin – let me know what you think in the comments below!

Hailed by the California Senate as a ‘Generational Icon’, Kendrick Lamar continually champions the voice of the ghetto and the underground while pushing the auditory landscape of Rap and Hip Hop with his honest lyrics, experimental instrumentals and raw artistry.

For more on Kendrick Lamar, head to his socials:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

 

[Self Discovery] Revel in Your Personal Rituals

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In the few years after I moved to Los Angeles, I’ll admit that my mornings would be ridiculously unproductive. I would roll out of bed, play with the cats, entertain the idea of going to the gym while jumping in the shower and haphazardly set on my way through the monotony of the work week: Eat, Work, Sleep, Cats, Repeat. Though my weekly charade got me to the weekend in one piece, I can’t say that my mind, body and soul were in harmonic balance.   Rudimentary routine escaped me and I most certainly hadn’t even entertained creating any sort of personal ritual.  Leave it to my first yoga class in 2012 to set my mind right. What struck me so succinctly was the necessity to practice with intention – not just yoga, but every little facet of life.  Ever since, I’ve developed a few small practices, and I encourage you to do the same because when I permeate the present with purpose, I’m not only proud of the work that I do – but I find I get more done and am happier to to it.

Whether its a daily, weekly or monthly pursuit – the development of sacred rituals and mantras allows one to hone in on their personal potential while infusing the moment with positive intention.  Whether personal and private or social and shared, a ritual has importance beyond the moment and has a heavier grasp on our psyche, playing a vital role in regulating our mental and emotional statesBy routinely focusing our internal energy and calming down the external world around us to a whisper, rituals reduce stress, depression and anxiety while simultaneously increasing our self discipline, enhancing our creativity and adding to our general sense of self and well being; by purely focusing on the moment, we allow ourselves to truly be present. Though in a traditional sense ‘ritual’ is related to a religious pursuit, to me – a ritual is a repeated tradition seeped in personal significance.

When it comes to the every day, simple rituals like a hot pot of coffee paired with 20 minutes of a good book can set the morning on the right foot; at night, rinse and repeat but replace your beverage with some calming tea.  Realistically, rituals can range from skincare regimens and stretching routines to mid day siestas and late night rune readings.  A tried and true night owl –  I enjoy implementing a morning ritual to set my intentions and ramp up my day; but for you it might be something that helps you wind down and out, allowing you to process your waking moments.

Your ritual can be as simple as setting a daily intention, or a morning mantra, or it can be cathartically complex; either way, it should invoke calmness and tranquility throughout the day. Translated from Sanskrit and part of the Hindu and Buddhist practice, a mantra is a phrase, sound or word repeated over and over to increase concentration and awareness; some personal favorites are  – ‘I will be fully present in the moment’, ‘seek the good’, ‘the grass is greener where you water it’, and’find comfort in the chaos’.

When it comes to rituals, my personal favorites include journaling, reading, music, meditation, road trips, arranging and cleaning crystals, playing with my cats and dancing.  To you they might sound like hobbies, but for me there’s something simple yet sacred about all of those pursuits and combined, my heart truly sings when engaged in those activities. For those that enjoy being more physical like myself active pursuits like yoga, a trip to the gym or an enjoyably long walk with your dog, a friend or significant other will set off the day or night in a positive light.

On a larger scope, weekly rituals like a set gym or yoga schedule and standing date night with your significant other or social circle give you something to look forward to on a weekly basis and strengthen your support system at the same time.  I’ve also taken fondly to monthly rituals like writing out my monthly intentions, engaging in full moon tarot readings and adventuring to a new nature infused landscape.  Lastly but certainly not least, avoid becoming stuck in a rut with your rituals – remember -they should let you breathe new life into your day, not bog you down with unneeded responsibility.

What are your favorite ways to break in the days, weeks and month? Do you have any rituals that you hold dear to your heart? 

Let me know in the comments below!

  

[LA Life] South Pasadena Farmers’ Market Finds

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Though I’ve often joked that maturity is simply understanding when to be mature, the older I become, the more I understand about the ways of the world – or at least American culture.  I’m more aware of the impact of large corporations, menageries of manufacturers and big businesses on the smaller, more sustainable markets, local lore and mom and pop stores.  Even with streamlined supply chains and an eco-conscious attitude, there’s no greater feeling than being economically supportive of your outlying community and being an educated member of society; and this is coming from someone who works in Operations for Disney and Wal Mart – so, trust. Small businesses have an incredible influence on local economies, including increased opportunities for employment within the community, environmental sustainability and economic innovation.  The biggest plus about local businesses is understanding that your money is being recycled back into your neighborhood, and – in my personal opinion  -the greatest example of this is your local Farmers’ Market.

Like in most large metropolitan areas, Los Angeles plays host a menagerie of places to foray into food shopping, with a niche for every type of  nutrition freak.  I’ll be the first to admit that at my last apartment in the Fairfax District,  I was a bit spoiled: I was just a stone’s throw from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Farm Fresh, Erewhon and even the fabled Farmer’s Market at The Grove – but where did I find myself doing most of my food shopping? Locally owned grocery stores like Cochran Produce had a lock on fresh fruits, hearty vegetables and tasty herbs while Dimond Bakery opened at 5am and sold out of their salacious sourdough baguettes before 8am, every damn day; it was such a lovely set up that leaving the area was a bit difficult.  When I moved to Eagle Rock, I was excited to see that I could walk to the local Trader Joe’s but the local Farmers’ Market barely reached a whole city block and hardly merited shutting down the street.  So, believe you me when I say that I’m thrilled that Danny discovered an amazing Farmers’ Market that’s just a hop, skip and a 10 minute drive away .

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The South Pasadena Farmers’ Market lays claim to the area right next to the Gold Line South Pasadena Station, and runs every Thursday afternoon from 4pm – 8pm in the Spring and Summer, and 4-7pm during the Fall and Winter.  The market itself is rain or shine, but in LA you can be pretty sure it’s almost all shine.   Hands down, it’s one of my new favorite weekly activities and I’m already giddy about going back.  Last week, we loaded up on micro greens, farm raised pork + bacon, duck eggs, delicious pressed juices from Pulp Story Juice and a menagerie of mushrooms from LAFungi.

The weekly event is fully equipped with fun for the whole family – featuring a quaint park perfect for picnics, live music, food trucks ranging from mouth watering oysters from the Shucks Oyster Truck to properly roasted corn from and sushi and snacks from Mama Musubi and farm to table fruits, veggies, poultry, exotic herbs, milk, cheese, olive oils, pressed juices and bacon – yeah, farm to table bacon: put that on your stove and grill it.

Your local Farmers’ Market is the perfect opportunity to support small businesses and get to know your community.  Next time, invite your squad and make it a group outing – and who knows, if you keep frequenting the events you might even make some friends while you’re there.

If one local Farmers’ Market is good – more are obviously better; so, now I’m on the prowl for a local haunt for every day of the week.  I’ve heard that there usually aren’t many on Monday or Tuesday, but what I’ve learned living in Los Angeles is that anything’s possible Keep it locked to The Bouncy Kitty for more Farmers’ Market Finds and if you’re still curious about the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market, head to their website or socials:

Website | Yelp | Facebook 

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