[Self Discovery] Holding Space for Grief

For the most part, I consider myself an upbeat rationalist, a positive pragmatist of sorts. I try and take the world as it comes: framing things in a true and positive light, holding myself accountable for understanding uncomfortable feelings and holding space for my emotions. But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies; from time to time – life can get my down and out and the grey cloud that lives in the corner of my mental state overrides the good feelings I try and project. Depression and anxiety start getting in the way – and whisperings of pessimism start to rain on my parade. In moments like those, I turn to my support system.

Half due to my childhood and my parents having split custody right when the internet was coming into being, half due to moving across a thousand miles over the course of the last three years – my life has evolved me into someone adept at processing emotions with a distant support system. It’s not exactly a skill set that’s wanted, or typically needed – but I’ve found that in quarantine this past year, it’s a skill set worth sharing.

I’ve feel – a lot. I feel deeply, often uncontrollably, and am affected often for days by sensitive information. Growing up in therapy, I realized that I simply feel the underpinnings of depression and grief in differing, unique and novel ways than most – and I’ve learned the best way to cope with them when you feel out of touch, physically, mentally and emotionally. In all, it’s also taught me better tools for how to deal with, hold space for, and transition out of emotional states which no longer serve me. I should preface this by saying that no, I’m not a therapist, I’m not a licensed psychologist and am in no way a professional grief counselor; however, I have been through my fare share of trials and tribulations, and sincerely others on their journey to brighter days and simply hope I can do the same for others.


From unshakable life experiences to minor disturbances, grief is an unavoidable truth that knocks us off our personal paths and often into uncharted, or at the very least – chaotic, emotional territory. An unfortunate tenant of living, grief afflicts us all at some point – no matter who your status, friends, family, or vocation. It’s essential that we have a mental tool kit that allows others, as well as ourselves, to hold space for important emotions.

Quarantine has done a number on many people, from the loss of family, friends and significant others down to the loss of their jobs, or semblances of normalcy. We’re all distant from each other, and it’s human nature to pine for human connection – especially under duress; being able to hold space for grief is an important facet in our relationships, and to discover new ways to do so in our “new” normal seems doubly important.

All emotions deserve equal mental weight, and there simply ‘bad’ emotions – the idea of a bad emotion is a personal pejorative we place on a moment in time; what can in one second be viewed as a ‘negative’ can easily be transmuted over time to be a ‘positive’. For example: you were unhappy in your vocation and have had to re-evaluate your job, maybe quitting – possibly being let go; in the moment, it’s stressful to find a new position – but months later, after you’ve found a new gig that you truly care about – you view the transition in a positive light.

Sure, one could just dismiss bad feelings and move on from them, but that means you’re choosing to avoid further knowledge of self and spring load your evolution. The fear is that by ignoring, passing over or not holding space for important emotions will create a negative feedback loop where you’re eventually out of sync with your mental space, potentially re-creating the same problems for yourself because you haven’t chosen to reconcile those very emotions.

One holds space for grief, so that they can rebuild emotionally – remember the lessons, accept their new truths and move forward with the mind, heart and soul in tact. In it’s most basic sense, to “hold space” for anything means that your intention as an outside influence is simply to exist with the other person, and let whoever is going through the emotions flow through them at their own pace. As the old adage goes, ‘one does not drown by falling in the water – one drowns by staying there’ and that can be extrapolated onto holding space for emotions that seem to get in our way of daily life. By holding space for others, we accept them for everything they are, for their humanity, their brilliance in handling life, and their beauty in wishing to transmute through their emotions. We actively build a more open and honest relationship, built with integrity and without judgement – and through those relationships, we evolve into better versions of ourselves.


While negotiating our own grief is one thing, it’s important to acknowledge that helping someone else with theirs is a bird of a completely different color and no two people are identical in the way they need to process their individual traumas and truths. Helping others in times of need instinctually reminds us of our own needs, for comfort, for closeness, and for community; and while learning the love languages of others, we can be reminded of what our own needs are in times of trial and tribulation.

First and foremost, the best way to be there for someone is by – well – being there. Being available, and being authentic and asking questions without judgement. Sometimes, just being in their ether and letting one know that they’re simply not alone can be the most helpful thing you can do. Here are a other few ways we can ‘hold space’ for others

  • Ask without prying; let them explore their emotions on their own accord and at their own speed
  • Give permission to others to explore their own innate wisdom and intuition without guiding or steering them through yours
  • Empower others to create their own reality, don’t take that power away by applying your own judgements or opinions
  • Reserve judgement and opinions, even if explicitly asked. What works for you on an emotional, mental and spiritual level doesn’t always translate into the life of others.
  • Remove your ego from their situation; this is not about you, it’s about them
  • Create a safe space to explore difficult emotions
  • Remind them that it’s okay to feel, and fail at moving forward from feelings, what’s important is understanding the feelings – not the speed at which we get over them, but the value of getting through them
  • Don’t force anyone down your own rabbit holes. It’s human nature to believe that we have the ‘best’ of all possible ways, mechanisms, etc to get through this life – what’s good for us, isn’t necessarily the best for others. Allow space for others to explore their unique paths and truths.

Now, back to love languages for a moment – there are essentially five types of love languages: sharing emotions and words of affirmation, sharing physical space and quality time, human touch, gifting and acts of service. So, how does this translate to a digital world? Thanks to quarantine and COVID, three of those five are a bit harder to do than before. Those who desire to be held and physically loved, or who need to be physically surrounded by others are feeling the hit much more than others. It’s important to acknowledge when that love language is being ignored. Thankfully, our current technology has allowed us to reach out to others and keep in touch – more or less; sure, the digital world we’re living in leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to holding space for our emotions and mental space but lately I’ve found it to be more helpful than hurtful.

Helping someone who needs physical touch? Send a written note, a stuffed animal, stress ball, or even some of their favorite snacks. If you’re assisting someone who could use quality time, set up a Zoom or a FaceTime call to check in – smiling is contagious, and we could really all use a dose of actual connection every now and again!


The human condition is a complex web, it would be remiss to say that grief isn’t part of it – but it’s only a part, it’s not the whole. As my mom used to and still tells me, ‘This, too, shall pass.’ The totality of the human condition, the complete nature of it, is one of love, one of perseverance, one of beauty – however ephemeral that might be. Emotionally, we are not islands – our human nature means that we thrive on communication, culture and connection. It’s in our human nature to reach out, to feel down to our core and to explore every facet of ourselves. If we’ve disconnected from our authentic selves, disallowing ourselves to marinate within our mental space and avoiding our emotional truths – that human connection becomes impossible, because our self connection has disintegrated. How could we possibly be kind to others, love others, and hold space for others – when we’ve declined to do so for ourselves? Having others around to remind you that you are enough the way you are, you are accepted the way you are, and that you will get through whatever you’re facing is an incredible feeling, a formidable bond, and tantamount to our experience on this Earth.

What are some ways that others have held space for you that have been beneficial? How have you held space for the grief of others?

Leave some helpful hints for other readers in the comments below.


Resources

For those looking for a bit more assistance, knowledge or both – I’ve put together a small list of resources to expand your emotional repertoire.

Reads:

Websites and Hotlines

One thing about living in 2021: the internet provides – there are ample support groups on every corner of the internet, if you know where to look. Here are a few that I recommend:

[Reading is Sexy] Find Solace in Your Soul with ‘The Art of Happiness’

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“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

Oh, 2020 – the year that has progressed in time, but seemingly not in anything else. With this year going a way none of us predicted, now (and all times, lets be honest) are an important time to channel our true nature and understand what is blocking us on our path to enlightened happiness.

It’s become easy to lose one’s way this year, where routine and schedule have fallen out from underneath themselves as we try and determine what it means to have a “new normal.” COVID coupled with the inability to travel to new destinations, and I’ve found it increasingly important to delve and dive inward on a personal manifest-destiny of the psyche.


From the esteemed brains of the His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, paired with the intricate introspection and psychological musings of Dr. Howard C Cutler comes ‘The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living.’

Through introspective, open-minded conversation and personal anecdotes – the pair provide a beautifully written manual for understanding, finding and securing your own personal happiness, as well as methods for producing a feeling a oneness with your external world, however chaotic or calm it may be.

As the world spins, we have a choice of either spinning with it or pushing against it, creating friction – throughout this fantastic read, I found bits and pieces of advice, much like the bread crumbs left by Hansel and Gretel, on how to live a more personally sound and fulfilling life. For anyone who is on that spiritual, personal journey – or is curious to delve into it, this book is a fantastic starter manual for a healthier, happier way of life.


As always, I’m going to leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the book; enjoy!


“…there is another source of worth and dignity from which you can relate to fellow human beings. You can relate to them because you are still a human being, within the human community. You share that bond, and that human bond is enough to give rise to a sense of worth and dignity.”

“…the ‘right choice’ is often the difficult one – the one that involves some sacrifice of our pleasure.”

“When life becomes too complicated and we feel overwhelmed, it’s often useful just to stand back and remind ourselves of our overall purpose, our overall goal…turning-toward happiness as a valid goal and the decision to seek happiness in a systemic manner can profoundly change our lives.”

“For our life to be of value…we must develop basic human qualities – warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful – happier.”

“….By broadening our definition of intimacy, we open ourselves to discovering many new and equally satisfying ways of connecting with others.”

“…the law of death is that among all living creatures, there is no permanence.”

“If you directly confront your suffering, you will be in a better position to appreciate the depth and nature of the problem.”

“..the root causes of suffering are ignorance, craving and hatred. These are called the ‘three poisons of the mind’.”

“…Unhappiness, I saw then, comes to each of us because we think ourselves at the center of the world, because we have the miserable conviction that we alone suffer to the point of unbearable intensity. Unhappiness is always to feel oneself imprisoned in one’s own skin, in one’s own brain.

“If we carefully examine any given situation in a very unbiased and honest way, we will realize that to a large extend we are also responsible for the unfolding of events.”

In fact, the enemy is the necessary condition for practicing patience. Without an enemy’s action, there’s no possibility for patience and tolerance to arise. Our friends to not ordinarily test us…only our enemies do this. So, from this standpoint, we can consider our enemy as a great teacher, and revere them for giving us this precious opportunity to practice patience.”

“It’s the very struggle of life that makes us who we are”

“A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can’t grow roots just as the storm appears on the horizon.”

“Negative mental states are not an intrinsic part of our minds; they are transient obstacles that obstruct the expression of our underlying natural state of joy and happiness.”


Snag your copy today – and Pro Tip: Don’t pay full price on Amazon for a book, you can snag them through a third party retailer for nearly 60% off!


‘The Art of Happiness’: Amazon | Good Reads

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama: Website | Books | GoodReads | Facebook

Dr Howard C Cutler: Website | GoodReads Profile



What books are currently on your nightstand? Let me know in the comments below!

[Self Discovery] The Power of Meditation

Breathing in – I know I am breathing in;
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.

With the calamity and chaos in the world at large, intrinsically we have to understand that the only control we ultimately have in this world is of our own emotions and reactions. The best way to be able to control those are to understand our true nature, and that’s our nature without external stimulus – it’s the you at your core, without thoughts, without emotion – the you that just is.

Breathing in, my in-breath has become deep.
Breathing out, my out-breath has become slow.

It’s a simple task, but it most certainly doesn’t come easy; all it requires is you to be fully present in the moment and within yourself. That proverbial it that I speak of, that transcendental feeling you get from meditation. Whether you’re looking to expand yourself inward and engage in a personal evolution, or revolution; focus your mind and sharpen your mental state, or simply reduce your anxiety – finding time in your day to work in even a five minute meditation practice has proven mind and body benefits that permeate far more than just that moment.

Breathing in – I feel calm;
Breathing out, I feel at ease.

If you’re a morning person – when you wake up, grab your morning coffee, tea…wine…whatever, and start with just five minutes as you’re easing into the day. If you’ve got a yoga routine, meditation is like the icing on the cake at the end of your practice, simply add five minutes at the end of your yoga session to settle into yourself. If you’re a workaholic – schedule time in your phone or your planner, put a five minute meeting into your Outlook or Google Calendars. If you’re a writer – find a cute meditation journal for daily reflections. And if you’re like me and can’t sit still, get oustide and take a brisk stroll through the world while letting each of your senses become engaged with your surroundings. Either way you spin it – you most definitely have five minutes somewhere in your day to spare – so find it; I promise, you’ll be better for it.

Breathing in – I smile.
Breathing out, I release all my worries and anxieties.

The best way to start is to just…well, start; and start small. Find a comfortable spot with soft light, where you can sit tall and be at peace – whether you’re sitting cross-legged on the ground, or are propped up slightly with a meditation pillow. Let the moment wash over you as you focus on your breathing; marinate in that feeling as you notice the tightness in your chest and back, the restlessness of your lower body and weight of your head. Now, your mind – it’ll wander and wonder, but the point of meditation is to acknowledge when your mind is manifesting anything. You can try counting to ten slowly, or counting your breaths, or – using this poem that I learned from the book You Are Here by the esteemed Thich Nhat Hanh.

Breathing in – I dwell deeply in the present moment.
Breathing out, I know this moment is wonderful

The internet is a wonderful repository and I’m thankfully there are tons of digital resources available and at the tips of your fingers. If you feel strange about sitting with your own thoughts at the beginning, or simply don’t know how to begin or where to go with your practice – there are ample resources for guided meditations throughout the internet to help you find your moment of zen.

Here are some of my favorites.


For Beginners

Deepak Chopra’s 21 Day Challenges + Guided Meditations

21 Day MC Creating Abundance - Chopra Center Download with Chopra ...

Whether it’s his 21 Day Meditation Challenges, or his guided meditations, Deepak Chopra has amassed an incredible amount of resources for the spiritually inclined. For those new to meditation – every few months the website offers a new 21 Day Challenge that intently focuses on one of many core emotional tenants. By the end of the challenge, you’ll be marinating in your mindfulness as you reap the positive benefits of meditation on the body, mind and spirit.


There’s an App for That

Headspace logo

There are a ton of different smart phone applications for those looking to take their meditation practice further. I’ve toyed around with both Headspace and Calm; and personally like the fact that both apps can be either iOS or Desktop based. But, a new favorite is Simple Habit – which is a free app, that you use for five minutes a day *ding ding*. Honestly, I enjoy what they all have to offer in terms of both length and type of meditation, but if you’re in the mood to shop around – here are a few other options that I’ve discovered:

Oak: Meditation and Breathing
Mindfulness: Meditation and Relaxation
10 Percent Happier


Go One Deeper with Spirit Daughter Moon Workbooks

Scorpio Full Moon Workbook from Spirit Daughter

For the astrologically inclined, I’m a die-hard fan of the Full Moon and New Moon workbooks from the mindful mavens at Spirit Daughter. Each one comes ripe with information about the celestial seasons, and have incredible resources for those wishing to either begin a meditation practice or develop theirs further.

With various subscription levels, including paper based versus digital, and monthly packages versus either their seasonal full or new moon books. I’m a bit old-school in that I love having things hand written, but I’ve heard fab things about the digital version as well!


Try Meditative Tarot

At the end of the day – each of us is going to have a mindfulness or meditation practice that is as unique as they are. I’m more of a yoga-journal-active meditation type of gal; I like to be more engaged than simply ruminating in the feeling – I also seem to have the attention span of a goldfish. So if I’m going to sit and journal my meditations, I eventually start bringing out either my tarot cards, spirit animal cards or rune stones; the whole practice brings up ideas, patterns and emotions that I’m more open to exploring with a clear head – often leading me to an existential epiphany that brightens my mood, day, or both.


What are some of the most useful tips and tricks you’ve learned that have helped you with your meditation practice?

[Self Discovery] The Economics of Friendship

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-“God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”
– Kurt Vonnegut –

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Usually, when I delve into my ideas and reach into the cobwebbed corners of my brain for a post…I can knock it out in a day, maybe two; at the very most a week.  But this is something that’s been coming for at least two years; maybe even more.  Originally, I thought it was the festival induced nostalgia of the Springtime, or the evolution into the downtime of Fall and the family oriented nature of the Holiday Season; or, maybe it was shoving my life into a U-haul two times over, moving away from everything I’ve known and towards the person I want to be.  But, the more and more I separate myself from this feeling that’s  been in the pit of my stomach – the more I realize that no, it’s just me; it’s always been me.  Me being nostalgic and searching, me attempting to analyze the past and postulate a formulaic method of the future as I dissected the nature of love, empathy and friendship.

The human condition is one of connection; and at times it seems that we can’t help but to connect – to love, to find ourselves in another and to forge bonds outside of ourselves.  Coddled by ego and love, protected by loyalty and exponentially expounded upon by experience, our relationships are fragile beings, brought into this world each time our human vibrations intersect with one another’s. Eventually, even if we’ve branded ourselves as an independent being of light and love – those relationships become what define us and our realities, irregardless of how routine or random it might seem.  But on the other side of connection, you have the dichotomy of loss and breaking apart. Losing friends is tough, but the tragedy lies in falling apart from the living – from watching the bridges burn and looming in their flames, somberly separating after a difference of opinion, or more tumultuous – of life.

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The Give and Take of Friendship

All relationships are a game of emotional catch; with a natural give and take, a push and pull – a simple supply and demand economics of personal happiness and social responsibility. They’re like a battery, or a gas tank, or a freshly rooted flower – filling, emptying and growing in symbiosis.  But if you drain one too much, or overfill it another day – you’re putting unnecessary strain into the relationship, infusing it with a toxic nature, even if the relationship itself doesn’t seem toxic yet.

In the duality of life, friendships can only thrive when its seed is watered from both ends.  What makes someone your friend? What propels them to flutter inside your heart and fill your mind with wonder and joy? How much endured emotional pain is worth the familial pleasure of friendship? Love of any kind is an investment – familial love, fraternal love, romantic love – every time you interact, you give part of yourself away.  Time is a human construct, but there are still only so many moments in a day – how and with whom do you choose spend them?

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The Benefits of Boundaries

Friendship is malleable and free-form like an emotional rubber-band, full of flexibility and movement; but even the strongest rubber bands snap under extreme pressure. Boundaries are essential to any budding relationship and are key to building the foundation of a successful one. If you fly into a friendship blindly without thought, you could end up like Icarus and burn yourself on the sun of your relationship. The most important boundaries are the ones are those you build with yourself: what you will and won’t stand for, what personality traits you covet, what you’re willing to let slide and what you abhor. You can only give yourself away so much before there’s none of you left to hold for yourself, none of you left to care for you – and let’s be honest, if you can’t find time or energy to care for yourself, it’s a bit paradoxical to be giving it away. Conversely, when it comes to the people in your social circle – it seems anachronistic that enforcing boundaries would build a stronger bond, but by not having any boundaries you’re saying you’ll fall for everything; intelligently implementing them not only builds trust, but creates a solid foundation for your friendship to stand on.

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Know When To Let Go

Rarely does a relationship ever stay on the same trajectory it once was – which admittedly is half the fun of mutual growth; but like a mirror, once it’s been broken, it can’t be put back together in the same way. Small scale issues from broken boundaries to unspoken grievances can compound over time, eventually tilting the emotional scale in one lopsided way or the other.

The house that friendship builds is based off of mutual boundaries and a solid foundation; with walls of security and support, and open windows into your heart and soul. If built on honesty, loyalty and sincerity, it an move mountains – but if any of those core tenants are broken, the relationships trajectory is hijacked, and the aftershocks can ripple its tenants to their core. Sometimes, the strongest thing you can do is to let those people go, and let the relationship dissolve into the ephemerality of life – for both of you.


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“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

When I younger, my mom pulled me aside one day and told me: you don’t have to like everyone, and not everyone has to like you. The first time she told me, I was 8; but the second time, I was 24 – and the words had infinitely more weight. Some people are meant to be part of your world, in a mutual exchange of love, empowerment and encouragement while others serve as reminders and stepping stones; they’re the loose change at the bottom of your purse, waiting to be tossed back into the wishing well of life. If you’ve invested properly in yourself, if you are honest with yourself about what you have to offer – you’ll attract that energy back; and if you’re making a worthy investment in yourself by creating boundaries, it shows. At the end of the day, the most important friendship to reconcile is the one with yourself.


How do you choose to strengthen your bonds and create healthy boundaries in your relationships?

Let me know in the comments below!

[Wedding Wisdom] Do You While Saying ‘I Do’

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Marriage.  It’s the magical union of two twin flames, the serendipitous soul chaining of emotional counterparts, an emotive, extrasensory adventure that tugs on your heartstrings – but for most millennials, it’s just another institution to avoid.  Almost exactly three years ago, my fiance proposed to me – it wasn’t planned, there wasn’t anyone to capture it on candid camera – or even just candidly, hell – he didn’t even have a ring, but we had each other, we had the moment.  The minimalists, pragmatists, and the hopeless romantics will all echo the sentiment that those things are far more than enough. But one thing I’ve learned by simply entertaining a wedding, is that everyone’s got their something about them: traditions, advice, warnings, must-dos, and the like – so while you’re busy saying ‘I Do’, don’t forget the most important tradition of all: doing you.

Traditions, by in large, are important familial and social constructs with a bevvy of history, and from what it sounds like: wedding traditions, doubly so.  Unfortunately, every time I see the word tradition, my mind instantly jumps to the opening scene of Fiddler on the Roof and nothing that’s actually useful for my big day.   With the big day inching closer and closer, I’ve found myself reaching out to family and friends to find out what the hell one is actually supposed to do at their wedding, and what traditions people threw to the wind in lieu of making their own.  And I’ve discovered this: weddings aren’t where you’re forced to embrace past traditions, but where you can forge new rituals – with your new family.  I’m not saying don’t listen to your parents, siblings, grandparents, best friends, Starbucks barista, gas station attendant or bartender – but what I’m saying is that what they want, for their special day, should have no reflection on what you choose to do.

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Three years ago when Danny proposed to me, he had no ring, and no pomp – just serendipitous circumstance in the Canadian forest.  It was our first trip out of the country together.  After a thousand miles in the car, a sketchy border crossing and being inducted into Shamb-fam – deciding to spend forever together seemed as natural as breathing. Merely hours later, as we danced under the full moonlight with new friends – a carpenter named Bruce reached into his pocket, toying around with a string.  A twinkle flashed in his eyes as he explained he only made five, was down to his last one and was hoping it would fit me.  Giddy to be receiving anything at all, I didn’t bother asking what, instead I put out my hand like a seven year old trick-or-treating through their first Halloween. It was a ring; a wooden ring that only fit my ring finger; a wooden ring that then became my engagement ring, which got me to thinking: why are there engagement rings and wedding rings?  The answer: De Beers.

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It used to be customary to only have one ring, the wedding ring, that is – at least, until De Beers came into the picture. From the early 19th Century, De Beers has a monopolized control over the diamond mines of South Africa – creating illusions of scarcity to drive sales.  Once our Great Depression of the 1920’s and 30’s hit, De Beers believed it had a genius marketing plan to get our consumer nation back on spending track: telling us that diamonds are forever; marketing the idea of love, not a brand – not a product – but the idea. Fast forward to now, and engagement rings are a booming industry, accounting for almost 20% of total diamond sales in the US, and bringing in a whopping $7 billion annually. Roughly a quarter of all purchases at Tiffany’s + Co are derived from wedding bands and engagement rings, while almost half the sales at Sterling Jewlers’ retailers like Jared and Kay are derived from engagement rings.  Overall, engagement rings actually represent about 20% of US diamond sales. All in all, those statistics speak more to a corporate level greed and an ostentatious, ego-maniacal society than they do a forever type of love, but that’s just my opinion.

The wedding registry happens to be another  trend that I’m all too ready to put to rest.  Yes, everyone loves presents – but, weddings are about presence, not presents.  As opposed to only 35% 15 years ago, almost half of all married couples in 2017 have previously cohabitated for an average of 22 months, or almost two years. Let me put it bluntly: you can accumulate a lot of shit in two years.  What was once just “my shit” and “your shit” has now collectively become “our shit”, and “our shit” comes with a lot of redundancy, and no one needs redundant redundancy.  Though wedding dowries have been of historical cultural significance for centuries, a registry and a dowry are two horses of completely different colors.  Much like the De Beers Diamond plot of the 1920’s, up until the Great Depression there was no such thing as a wedding registry – until Macy‘s came along, and other department stores were all too eager to jump on board.

Now, how about the wedding party? Though some people elope, and many do keep it small – it also feels like some people invite everyone to the West of the Mississippi to their big day.  Obviously, the more the merrier and who doesn’t love love, but at a certain level it becomes all sorts of impersonal and not meaningful; almost like you’re getting married for show, not for yourself.  A large party, now sure – count me the fuck in; but a wedding, the bonding of two souls and binding of two lives is such an intimate idea that to me, it begets an intimate ceremony. In my seemingly biased opinion, large weddings more than force you into employing a bridal party – of elevating those closest to you, and imposing stratified levels of closeness.  On the other hand, at a small wedding – you can flip the script.  Our wedding, a destination wedding of sorts, will be small, the kind of small where I have to use small as an adjective to emphasize an adjective – but that’s just the way I like it.  One of my favorite perks to having a small ceremony, is that everyone at the wedding is part of the bridal party; everyone is a groomsman or a bridesmaid, because everyone there is equally important to us.  But, do you know the history of bridesmaids and groomsmen? Confarreatio, a form of wedding from the Ancient Romans, required 10 witnesses for the ceremony to legally binding; these witnesses evolved into the modern bridal party.  The groomsmen and bridal party were also tasked with warding off evil spirits.  Back in antiquity, the maid of honor and bridesmaids wore identical outfits to trick the spirits out of targeting the bride, while the best man was a literal wingman – warding off other potential suitors while the groom whisked away the bride-to-be.

Last, but certainly not least: the wedding dress.   Growing up, I was taught that the white in a wedding dress was a symbol of purity – but as it turns out,  because of the (a) lack of soap and (b) levels of general filth, up until the 18th century there weren’t many white wedding gowns.  In fact, the white aspect of the wedding dress is primarily associated with well to do Western culture, where many Eastern traditions actually involve a red dress in lieu of the white.  In all honesty, the white wedding dress is one of the few wedding traditions I’ll keep, though it’s definitely not for the sake of my purity.  However, what I find do find ridiculous are people that think a wedding dress is anything other than just a white dress, worn on the wedding. Some dresses range into the thousands, others into the tens of thousands…and to wear…once?  Dios mio! I would rather get a down payment on a house or a car. After spending a day at the mall struggling with the idea of a “wedding” dress, I found the perfect white dress in under ten minutes once I got out of the mindset that it had to come from a “bridal” store. So, now you might be asking – are there any other traditions that you’re keeping?  Yes, duh.  We’re getting married, exchanging vows and rings – and that’s as much of a tradition as I need.

Love isn’t just an idea, it’s an action – it’s a verb, it’s something you do.  Despite what Department Stores want you to believe, your love isn’t a commodity and your marriage doesn’t need to be monitized. Your wedding is a collection of beautiful moments rolled into one glorious day, celebrating with those you hold nearest and dearest to your heart – don’t sell yourself short, and don’t do anything you don’t want to do because fingers crossed, this is the only one you get.  So enjoy, indulge, drink champagne and get excited; say Yes, say I do but most importantly – do you. 

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Photos by Get Tiny Photography: Instagram | Facebook

[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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[The Audiofiles] The Road to the Desert Hearts Spring Festival is Paved with House, Techno and a Whole Lot of Love

Over the last five years, Southern California’s Desert Hearts troupe has blossomed from a homegrown hub of House and Techno into a global party sensation. After taking the Fall season off this year, much to the dismay of Desert Hearts fanatics all over – Desert Hearts is proud to announce their triumphant return to the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation from March 31 to April 3, 2017.

Playing host to an intimate number of attendants, the festival is capped at 3,500 and the warm, bubbly ethos that the size of the event curates is delightfully palpable. Between the various Desert Hearts virgins and assorted Desert Hearts vets, the weekend is as much a festival as it is a family reunion…with the grooviest soundtrack on the West Coast. Musical tastemakers to grace the decks have included Tiefschwarz, DJ Harvey, Monkey Safari, Rodriguez Jr., DJ T, Claude VonStroke, Marc Houle, Olivier Giacomotto, Mark Henning, M.A.N.D.Y, alongside the usual suspects – Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs and Porkchop.

The road to the Desert Hearts Spring Festival is paved with House and Techno from coast to coast as the squad heads out on their 21 tour date City Hearts Winter Tour. The mobile micro-festival vibe will takeover premiere festivals in previously unexplored markets for the burgeoning brand including Brazil’s Som & Sol Festival, Costa Rica’s Ocaso Festival, Tucson’s Gem and Jam, plus return trips to Brooklyn, Denver, Miami, Salt Lake City, its prized home turf of Los Angeles and San Diego, and many more standout shows.

Tickets for the highly anticipated and long awaited Spring 2017 Edition of Desert Hearts go on sale Tuesday, December 6th at 12 PM PST.

RSVP on Facbook and Rally Your Squad | Snag Tickets Here!

For more on the Desert Hearts squad and their upcoming roster of events, head to their social media channels –

Website | Facebook| Twitter | Soundcloud | Instagram