Tag Archives: growth

[The Audiofiles] Curating The Lightning in My Bottle

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For the last decade, hell – my entire life – music has been my genesis and the community surrounding it has become my family. I’ve ebbed and flowed in and out of genres in parallel to my social groups;  from my roots in Trance and Dubstep, into a self professed Techno-file, Basshead and back to being a tried and true audiophile. I’ve watched myself grow, between the cracks and between the events, blossoming, regenerating and trying again as the flowers do every spring. For the past few years, Lightning in a Bottle has been my source of metamorphosis, the cocoon that encapsulated my former spirit – giving life to my dreams and purpose to my passions. No automatic alt text available. But it always felt as if it came with a life-sized catch.

As is natural in life, the soaring highs and the lowest lows seemed to coexist within the festival space – almost magnified under the idea of the ‘transformational’ festival experience.  The human mind, as beautifully strong as it is, is forever wired to remember and avoid pain, while seeking pleasure.  Instead of remembering my whirling wanderlust for novel and new music, a colorful cacophony of characters cascading into my life, delightful dialogues with strangers that became instant friends and the effervescent beauty of immersive art structures – my mind matriculated elsewhere.  Every time I tried to conceive of myself bouncing around on festival grounds, the first memories to flood my head are my aunt passing away last year, our laptop getting stolen from our tent the year before, and various high drama moments between security and festival goers. Where my freshman self had been so keen on forming a new festival family, while now – as a festival veteran – I felt myself retract back into my personal bubble. Yes, inherently trust is something to be earned, like the view from the top of a mountain after a hike…but that’s for the real world – here, at a festival, with a menagerie of like minded people, I wanted to leave my defenses far behind me – instead, they transformed into a chip on my shoulder. Suffice it to say, it felt like my time there had run out – and rightfully so…after all, I’ve never been in a school system with the same people for longer than 5 years at a time, so if we’re really in High School part Infinity as it always seems – this is me, graduated and looking at life anew.

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Lightning in a Bottle – in tandem with the Do LaB – has turned an impeccable idea into a full on circus show where you’re both the audience and the show.  They’ve made me cultivate and curate my own community of dreamers and do-ers, they’ve shown me how to synthesize ideas and different types of personalities, how to go with the flow and look at the world through eyes of childlike wonder and amazement, I have a new appreciation for the metaphysical aspects of life and for the natural world – and now, I’m ready to foray that into the rest of my life.  Yes, LIB is an amazing, wonderful, technicolor day dream of a weekend – and I’m thrilled that I’ve gotten to dance my way through their world, both as a participant, as a writer for The DJ list, and as a member of their esteemed PR team when they were paired with The Confluence.

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I’ve lived inside someone else’s technicolor daydream and loved (almost) every second, but it’s given me pause – a notion that maybe it’s time to curate my own dreams and dive into those. I’ve had a trifecta of angles, a million perspectives shoved into a four year span – and it’s taught me that the world is both more beautiful and more complicated than you could realize, but if you take the time to put the pieces together – the puzzle you complete will astound you.

You’ll look at the world anew, with the ability to find sincerity in small moments and life long lessons within short term friendships.  Only after uncovering yourself, the person who resonates at your core, you’ll see the truth of the people you surround yourself with. There are an infinite amount of dragons to chase, so choose to search for the bigger picture, how to leave the world better and beautiful, how to operate with openness and kindness, and receive it them in return.  Smiling at strangers isn’t just for festivals, and hugs are for everyone, there’s art everywhere and every moment is a good moment to dance. The good life we create at our festivals, the community, love and ethos we spend four days and nights cultivating are here, in every second of our every day life if we choose to engage it.

 

One doesn’t stay in their genesis forever, and within that – I feel I’ve gotten exactly what I needed to head on in my own direction.  Lightning has been my springboard, a stepping stone in the river to where I’ve become myself and I’m thrilled at the memories that I’ve made there, but now – at 32, about to be married and wanting a family, I felt inspired to start my own traditions, and cultivate the lightning in my own bottle.  For the first time since 2012, I didn’t attend Lightning – but it doesn’t mean that my soul wasn’t there, living vicariously through passionate people prancing through the dust in search of their next adventure as I searched for mine.
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[Self Discovery] Water Your Own Garden

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You are here now. Those four words echo through my head like the perpetual reverberations of time. In the past few days, I’ve felt an awakening in my center, a soul-shaking, mind-altering shift in my own consciousness as we’re poised to embark on this new journey around the sun.  Hindsight being 20/20, as I think back to the past year, hell – even the past few months, I find myself in awe of my own growth spurts. And now, we’re at the precipice of a new cycle, the perennial moments of the new year and I have to say – it’s a wonderful time to be aware.

As I collect my annual memories and analyze them through a birds-eye view, my resolution for 2017 comes in crystal clear: the grass is greener where you choose to water it, so it’s time to water my own garden, catalyze my own transformation and spend this year turning inward to become the best version of myself.

With the exponential growth of social media grow and smart phones, one could argue that we’re actually just making dumb people.  Don’t get me wrong, being on social media can be fun. It’s a great way to keep in touch, catch up on “news”, and see what the masses are up to.  But, over the last decade, it’s turned into more of a spectator sport and digital version of the SIMS than an actual mechanism of friendship.   Instead of losing yourself in the unimportant feedback cycle of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like – put your phone down, in the other room even, and pick up a book, pick up a hobby – pick up yourself from the couch and go outside for a walk, surrounded by the wonders of nature; engage in your life, and life will engage you back.

Watering your own garden is about personal accountability for your life and the world you’re constantly curating around you; it’s about being a contributing member of your tribe; and, most importantly, it’s about being immersed in the magic of the moment and letting it wash over you like a late Summer rain on a warm August day, without hesitations from past anxieties or future worries.  It’s about creating your own curiosity and caring less about what others are doing in their own lives.  One of the biggest realizations I’ve had as an adult is that we are all the center of our own universes, and each is just as chaotic and nonsensical as the next – but time after time, people become so wrapped up in ourselves that they forget – I have a universe inside me, too. An empath at heart and a giver by nature, sometimes I don’t realize how much of myself I pour out freely for others – often to the point that I have little to none of myself left. So this year, I want to focus on shifting my perspective inwards, focusing on the cosmic shifts that I can cultivate by my own hands.  Collecting intention and owning the now, I finally see what’s possible for me – and let me tell you, it’s possible for you, too.Water your own garden, and you’ll see your life bloom and blossom in ways you ever thought possible.

How do you choose to water your own garden and what are your resolutions for the coming months? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy 2017!

[Self Discovery] A Resolve for Growth

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“Resolve, and thou art free.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When I moved to Los Angeles in my early twenties, I quickly realized I had the entire world at my proverbial fingertips and set out in a determined fashion to conquer most, if not all, of it. Maybe it was a byproduct of my 20-something, 20-anything phase, or maybe it’s simply an ode to the fact that I love making lists – but as I was rounding out the last decade of my life, I found myself insatiably devoted to the litany of bucket lists that I’d created.

As I approached 30 and 31, my lists extensively cataloged places to go, things to do and personal mountains to climb. Each was carefully curated with the best of intentions in mind, playing on my zest for life while rediscovering a purpose in my passions.  As the beginning of the year came and went, I realized that though my lists were representative of the person that I was driven to become – between the constant stroking of the go and daily reminders of what hadn’t been accomplished, they were also slightly exhausting. As John Lennon so famously said, ‘Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans

Instead of limiting myself to resolutions I tried to start at the inception of the calendar year, I’ve decided to maintain a fluid list of small ideas where each day holds a unique opportunity for growth and a resolve for evolving past who we were, to become who we want to be.  Regardless of when you set your resolution, it’s important to understand that it’s really the intent that matters.  Sure, a ’31 Before 31′ Bucket List was great – but I found myself so wrapped up in checking the boxes and heading into the next goal, that I couldn’t stop and simply appreciate my small moments of accomplishment; and that’s when I realized that my focus was in the wrong place.  Contrary to my previously held popular belief, It’s not important how many goals you accomplish, or how ‘much’ you grow – but that you have the will and wherewithal to grow in general.  We must be willing to step out of the mundane routine of the every day, and into the novelty of creating magical memories where even the most minute metamorphoses can equate to a massive internal shift.

Over the past few years I’ve inched towards several goals, some haphazardly while others have been more wholeheartedly. Tthis year, instead of a compiling a concise list or a ridiculous repository, I’ve decided to keep it rather short and sweet – well, all things considered.  No joke, going back and looking through these lists is a bit emotionally exhausting – not the kind of feeling you want to have when you’re gearing up to accomplish greatness!  Instead of a grandiose number of accomplishments, I’ve whittled it down to a few that I’m set on taking up.

First and foremost,  I vow to give less fucks. Less fucks?  Yes, a whole lot less.  I suffer from this incurable disease called ‘caring too much about everything’ and not only is it time consuming, but it’s simply exhausting.  Giving less fucks has freed up more time to care about what’s truly important – me, my cats, my husband and this beautiful life that we lead – and less about isn’t – like a past that can’t be changed, unwelcome opinions and toxic friendships that in the grand scheme of things don’t matter.  Coinciding with giving less fucks,

Next, I really want to get back into reading. When I read, my writing improves tenfold and my imagination runs rampant – it’s like a vacation in my hands, how could you not love it?? I implicitly understand that reading more than 10 books a year is a lofty goal; one that can basically be accomplished only if you choose to live inside a literary world and essentially ignore the real one that we’re living in.  Instead of a list of 20 books, I really just want to get through five good ones.  Just five.  I think that’s pretty solid.

Now that I have a plan to engage my mind, I also want one that engages my body and spirit.  Creating a militant workout routine just isn’t my style, because give me rules and watch me avoid them – but I’ve rediscovered a love exploring the great beyond, and have found that being outdoors reinvigorates me from head to toe.  Instead of inundating myself with gym time or diet plans, I’m choosing to eat healthier – with less processed foods and more time at the Farmer’s Market.

When it comes to the my professional life, I’ve realized that I need one job that pays the bills and another that makes me happy; and if they can be the same – even better.  By in large, they aren’t though and you have to be willing to subsidize your happiness somehow – take a course at a local community college, join Toastmasters, volunteer at an animal shelter, join a neighborhood council, take up an instrument, join a choir, write for a local paper, read to schoolchildren, start up a kickball team…the opportunities are endless once you open your mind beyond your 9-5.  And working from home, I’ve also realized that when I’m done with work for the day I need to be done – put the laptop away, get off social media, and get into myself.

Lastly, when I think of my friends – I want to let them know personally.  Not post on their Facebook wall or send them a Snapchat, because really – those aren’t for them, it’s for you – I want to reach out and tangibly touch them with my words, hear the nuances in their voice as they tell me about their day.  I want to be present in the moment with them, and by in large that means getting offline and into a real conversation.

Whether you’re carving out a solid block of a few hours every weekend, or devoting 30 minutes a night, it’s important to set aside some personal time for yourself to dive into your dreams and rediscover who you are at your core.

What are your personal goals for this year? Where’s your resolve for growth?

Before You Know Kindness

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The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

– Elisabeth Kübler-Ross –

This morning has ushered in a lot of reflection and as with most stories, this should also start from the very beginning…

“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
― Albert Einstein

Leave it to me to want to come into the world on a Friday morning.  In 1984, through a fantastic stroke of genius – and after 18 years of marriage,  my parents finally had their first (and only!) child and from day one, I was immersed in a world of strange coincidence and wonder.  My name had already been chosen for me – Amanda Pearl – partly because of the simple beauty, and partly because of family history.  My mother was the third in a line of amazing, strong African American women named Lola and would be damned if I was the fourth; which is where Amanda comes in.  The direct translation from Latin is “Lovable; one who is loved” and my family made more than sure of that.  Middle names have a good and long tradition of being lineage based – and mine is no different.  My parents couldn’t be more different from each other and it has very little to do with their ethnic background – but, that definitely plays a significant hand! When they went down to the courthouse to apply for their marriage license, they were asked assorted bits of information, including parents names, maiden names, place of birth, etc – and all of a sudden, they got the strangest question: “You two aren’t…related…are you?” As it happens, both of their mothers have the same maiden name – Pearl.  If that wasn’t weird enough, I just happened to pop into the world on Pearl Harbor Day.  And if those weren’t enough coincidences to handle on the day of my birth – my mom shares her maiden name with the street I grew up on.

My first word was “Hi” and it couldn’t be more fitting – I used to crawl, then skip and frolic, from table to table when my family would take me out to dinner.  I was an extrovert by nature and as social as they came; playtime was my favorite, and as an only child playtime with friends was even better. But the more I would interact with others, the more I became aware – even at a young age – that the world was cruel and slightly unfair.  To their own credit – and absolutely nothing to do with me – my parents separated before I was 2 and got a divorce shortly after. When I was 3, my father’s dad passed away and as the stories go – I sat there with him in the hospital on his last day, and asked where he was going.  He told me he was going to a much better place, where he would be better – and all I could wonder was could I go there to? I remember the look in his eyes – partially bewildered and taken back by my question, partially amused by the workings of a child’s mind.  When he passed away, the void he left permeated physical space – it crept into my heart; but at the time, I lacked the words, maturity or knowledge to express any of this.

As with most people, growing older meant growing stranger – growing wilder, growing weirder.  It took a long time for me to grow into myself – and as I sit here at 28, I can’t say much has changed.  The “big glasses”-“big braces”-“big hair” snafus that seemed to be singular occurrences for most girls hit me like a hat trick in elementary school.  I was highly intelligent…which meant I was peculiar, learning long division on my own and with my head in the books.  Social, sure – to a point; but as with every other consecutive phase in my life, I got along better with teachers, aides and instructors and found it increasingly hard to relate to people my age.  I went from being a fan of mud baths and minimal clothing to a math-nerd, book-worm, and then thanks to both coaching and coaxing from my family, an athlete.  I choose my schools based on academic and athletic merit…leaving the school district I grew up in for al all girls middle school, then twice in High School – once to play basketball and the second time, to escape it.  And each time, I had a similar thought: I had built these support systems like ecosystems around me only to disrupt them by leaving.  The only constant seemed to be me – moving on, moving forward and lamenting on what I saw in the rear view mirror.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.” 
― James Baldwin

As a child, I always found myself to be of the more “emotional” variety and I think my parents would agree 110% – as a child, the news would make me upset.  I’d frequently find myself in tears without much of a rhyme or reason – and when your parents are bombarding you with statements like “If you don’t know why you’re crying, you need to stop” life can get pretty frustrating. When I was in elementary school, my parents noticed that I would get sick with far more frequency than the other kids – I would end up in the nurse’s office with a sour stomach, begging to see a doctor.  I now wish I’d been more specific – after finding out I had ulcers, I was also placed in therapy…in 5th grade.  In a few weeks, I’d grown absolutely sick of the phrases “Well, how about you draw us a picture.” and “Let’s see if you can put this puzzle back together…” – why wouldn’t they just let me talk about my feelings?!  The coup de grâce was in 6th grade when a close friend of mine passed away – I’d just started on a competitive basketball team and we were about to leave for my very first away tournament; to this day, I still feel like I don’t have closure – but it’s also helped me process death differently. The school therapist was the opposite of helpful, and  bless her soul, my sixth grade art teacher – and granted, art was my least favorite subject at this point – became my safety net.  Through her guidance, I learned that the arts were created to embrace the emotions, and there was no shame in that.  There is a confidence that we ought to possess, for life possesses us.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.”

–  نعومي شهاب ناي –

It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words; but a year ago to this day, that’s exactly where I stood: mouth gaping open, head in my hands and tears forging a river from my duct to the floor.  Losses, I’m told, come in threes – and this situation was no different.  First, there was my great uncle who passed away, natural causes mind you but that’s of no importance to me; a loss is still a loss, the world is always dimmer in the moments we suffer.  Then I got the news that a friend had his life taken in the strangest of circumstances: whether it was his own doing or there was foul play, the circumstances are upsetting to say the very least.  Last but not least, was the toughest blow for me to take…

My step mom has been in my life as far as I can remember, and best friend, Jan, has been like an Aunt to me.  Being a product of divorce, I was given wisdom at a young age that family isn’t determined by blood – it’s determined by heart, and my step mom’s love for me is a shining beacon of an example.  Jan has been through more than any one person should have to endure in a lifetime – and I’m not just flippantly saying that; how many people that you know have survived brain cancer…twice.  That said, I’ve heard from a young age that God doesn’t give us problems that we can’t handle – well, Jan may as well be Job reincarnated.  A year ago, the unthinkable happened – her granddaughter’s husband opened fire on his two children, shooting both in the head and then himself.  Bless their souls, one of the children survived – but we waited weeks on pins and needles for the news.

In that time, I’d gone into myself and had refused to resurface; I wasn’t the bubbly girl skipping to her cubicle with a smile on her face anymore.  I was sad.  I was 28 and afraid of the world, and I’d never felt so alone.  But loneliness is like drowning, it can’t consume you unless you let it: so I reached out.  I put my pride aside and – slowly, one by one and over time – I came face to face with my fears.  What I needed to remember was that verbalizing the truth doesn’t make it any more or less true, but it makes us human.  To reach out and be touched is the human condition and by no means should we deprive ourselves of it.

As painful and tragic as this week was last year, at the end of it all, I have to – we have to – remember that even in tragedy life is magical, precious and beautiful.  It’s true that people cannot hurt us if we don’t let them into our souls, but if we don’t open up – people can’t love us, either.  The battles you’re fighting in your head – those demons you struggle against, have the courage to fight them and the tenacity to talk about them.  People – strangers, family, friends, mentors – they’re  kinder and stronger than you think, but they’re also just as broken as we are – and there’s no telling what they’ve been through…

“Put away your pride: be kind to strangers, love your neighbors, hug your friends.
Cherish the people close to you and remember that everyone is fighting their own battles;
but if this year has taught me anything, its that we don’t need to fight them alone.” 

-Amanda Pearl