[Let’s Celebrate] Friendsgiving

‘Tis the season for festive candles, home cooked meals, holiday cards and spending time with the ones you love; sure, Thanksgiving is right around the corner – but Friendsgiving? That simply never goes out of style. Living in Los Angeles, as in many big cities, there are twice as many transplants as locals.  A good proportion of which stay around for the holidays and end up below the radar for Thanksgiving, if they’re not flying solo.  Not that you need an excuse to get the gang together or have an ‘orphan’ dinner, but I couldn’t think of a better one than this family infused time of year.

First things first, you need someone that’s willing to both offer up their home for the night and then deal with the mess the next day; sure, guests will help but as the drinks keep flowing – you might want people to keep away from glassware and plates and enjoy simpler, less chaotic activities that won’t result in broken dishware. And remember, crystal is nice – but it’s less nice when it’s shattered on the ground; this is an opportune time to get some plastic plates and forgo dishes for the evening.  Get a group e-mail chain going and confirm what everyone’s bringing to ensure everyone leaves with a happy heart and a full stomach, and to avoid appetizer overlap.  If you’re hosting, the turkey is on you – and if you’re attending, don’t forget to bring a little somethin’ somethin’ for the entourage beyond your appetizer and or dessert like spiked eggnog, homemade candles, a magnum of wine, or the like.  Reserve your status as host(ess) with the most(ess) by creating room for plenty of beer, ice for any coolers and Cards Against Humanity is a must.   – . Oh, and don’t forget a camera and a kickass sound system!

Last weekend was my first Friendsgiving since college, so that’s almost ten years. And it’s really taken me that long to come back into my own skin.  It’s been a while since I’ve had a group of individuals that I’ve felt this at home and in touch with, and each and every day I’m infinitely thankful that they’re in my life.  We all combined culinary forces for a night that went down in infamy, fully equipped with beer pong, dance parties and Polaroid pictures.

[Self Discovery] The 10 Things Great Minds Do For Each Other

In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
– Albert Schweitzer 

Our twenties is a time of self-exploration and discovery. It’s a  rite of passage and mental manifest destiny we’re all forced to come to terms with once we enter “the real world” and figure out what it means to be a contributing member of the community, or on a more global scale – a contributing member of the human race. These are the years that we change jobs, cities, significant others, interests and musical taste as frequently as we change socks.  Just like there are laws of physics, there are also laws in the physics of our mentality: external change catalyzes internal change and propagates our growth as individual.  We need to remember that it’s not selfish to take an adjustment period to get reacquainted with your life, it’s honest; because if you can’t take a moment’s appreciation for your newly acquired situation – was there really a point?

As we work our way back into the folds of life, back into social circles and bar scenes – you have a unique opportunity to look at things with a fresh perspective. Sometimes, that perspective pulls you out of prior relationships as it pulls you into new ones – and it’s helpful to know what qualities to keep around in a person, and what to avoid.  I’ve seen (and read) a heaping dose of articles on toxic friendships lately, and just like a regular friendship – that’s a two way street, too. Whether it’s actively toxic, or passively toxic (read: enabling).For a toxic friendship to persist, both parties have to be engaging in toxic behavior.  If you’re an emotional hypochondriac and sit there using those traits as a litmus test, solemnly and discretely analyzing your relationships – you’ll probably think there’s at least one person in your world that’s ‘detrimental to your existence‘.  Instead of trying to find the negative, I want to look at the positive; if small minds tear each other down, great minds should build each other up. So, I’ve come up with a little list of qualities that you should both look for in others and manifest in yourself.

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The 10 Things Great Minds Do For Each Other

1. Encourage Growth

A good friend not only accepts you for who you are but challenges you to become the person you want to be (not the person that they want you to be) by allowing you to challenge the limits of  your comfort zone.

2. Focus on the Positive

Life follows a stereotypical pattern of twists and turns that translate into a sine curve of highs and lows. We need to both celebrate our victories and acknowledge when things aren’t up to par – but unless you’re actively working on improving something in yourself, marinating on the negative isn’t going to get you anywhere but stuck in a negative feedback cycle.  And they’re as equally detrimental to ourselves as the people around us.  Humans aren’t magnets. Negative doesn’t attract positive; positive attracts positive; you’ll get back from the universe exactly what you put into it.

3. Allow You to be Wrong

As a species, we don’t have all the answers yet – so it’s silly to think that any one individual does, either. We need to allow ourselves to be wrong in the pursuit of what is right – through empirical evidence and healthy, intelligent debate with our peers.

4. Laugh With You, Not at You

First things first, your friends should have a sense of humor.  If they don’t, there actually might be something wrong with them and you should probably should just stop talking to them all together.  Anyways, I digress. Funny happens all the time and I’ve actually laughed out loud at myself before, but when a friend actively pursues a facet of your life for their enjoyment, it might be time to cut them loose.  A good friend can find humor in the moment, but knows how to let it go and not project the humor onto you.

5. Emotionally Supportive

When life turns sour, it helps having people around that bring over vodka when all you have are lemons.  But, depending on the situation – some friends might become Negative Nancy and have nothing nice to say, a few will turn the conversation to their life and their problems (which of course, still matter – but this isn’t the time or place for it) and others will simply dip out of your life.  The positive influences in your life will find a way to give – whether its their ear, a shoulder to cry on or a couch to sleep on and silence is golden, especially when someone is at their most vulnerable.

6. Give Space When Necessary

When Galileo discovered that there was a flaw in the geocentric model, there was an uproar.  Sometimes, when people come to the realization that the world is about more than just them, they react the same way.  Everyone has a personal universe to deal with that we simply can’t know everything about.it.  We have to learn to respect boundaries and allow the people in our lives to cultivate their own worlds.

7.  Brainstorm Solutions

One of the greatest things about having a group of peers is that you get to constantly crowdsource solutions. Is your boss being too hard on you? How do you train for a marathon? Should you move to a new city?  These are all things we deal with in our life and we should feel confident that we can reach out to the people in our lives in search of our own answers.  A good friend will engage you and play devil’s advocate to get down to the root of your question.

8. Constructive Criticism

It’s okay to have an standpoint on a person, and often there’s a time and place to voice it – but unless you can find a proactive way to express it, you should probably keep it to yourself.  If you’re forming a negative opinion on someone’s life, make sure it’s not a mirror that you’re holding to your own.  Instead, take a step back from the friendship and really examine what’s bothering you.

9. Value Time

Time is valuable, and other people’s time – doubly so.  A good friend understands that everyone has their own time table and own rate of life, we simply don’t all move at the same pace in life.  So, when it comes to hanging out and getting together – they’ll let you know when they’re running late and are conscious that your time matters, too.

10. Inspire Greatness

We’re all made of stardust, and I truly believe that within each of us – there’s something amazing.  When a beautiful soul meets another, they burn brighter together – just like when two candles meet.  They listen to your ambitions, goals and lofty visions. Instead of diminishing you, or them, they’ll encourage you to chase down your dreams and convert them to reality.

I hope you guys all have friends in your life like this, because I know I do.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….
It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
– C.S. Lewis –

[Shifting Seasons and New Adventures]

Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror.  It’s passing, yet I’m the one who’s doing all the moving.

[Martin Amis]

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Bye, bye Mid-Wilshire!

For almost four years now – it’s just been my and my fur babies, Sake and Stella; we’ve been living near The Grove, enjoying leisurely walks and the menagerie of urban art the area has to offer.  Living alone was exhilarating, liberating, freeing …. and lonely. As a social creature, I thrive when I’m surrounded by a supportive community – and doubly so when that community is comprised of close and dear friends.  And don’t get me wrong, because I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my independence; but, life has a funny way of letting you know that you deserve so, so much more.  I’ve never lived with a significant other – or even an insignificant one; so when my boyfriend and I started whimsically discussing moving in together – my heart skipped a beat, and then another…and then I found myself in a strange inexorable state somewhere between pure elation and an anxiety attack.  But without a question, was going to be the easiest decision I’d ever made; yes, yes and a thousand more times yes! Though we’ve only been together for a little over a year, we’ve been friends for four years and have the most amazing connection and to boot, he’s the easiest person to be around – and my best friend. So, for the past few weeks, I’ve been sorting, packing, unpacking, resorting, throwing away and donating almost 60% of my belongings (and, ignoring my blog…); granted, lots of it was either from college and severely run down, or from my first year of Los Angeles and incredibly inexpensive – but regardless, it’s all gone!  And what’s more, is that I’m 99.5% moved into the new place already – and I’ve never, ever been this happy.

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That new ish!

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Don’t think we have enough pilllows… #cohabitationproblems

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The last graffiti at my old apartment


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The kitties all getting along =)

 

That said, it’s been a strange hiatus from writing but now that I’m settled in, expect to see much more from this Bouncy Kitty; including knocking out more Bucket List items – I just canceled cable (so thank goodness for HBO Go and my addiction to Game of Thrones!) and I’ll be able to develop more time to reading, yoga and exploring the East Side of LA.  So stay tuned and stay weird my friends =)

[Friday Fun]

Laughter, wonder, shock, awe – there all parts of our everyday lives and sometimes, I feel like these slip to the wayside during the week because we’re so engulfed in the 9-5, corporate world.  This section is my way of celebrating the world around me and preparing my brain, heart and soul to let it all go at 5pm today so I can enjoy this wonderful Los Angeles Winter weather (yes, it’s 70 – and yes, I am bragging).

“Every year for a few days in the month of February, the sun’s angle is such, that it lights up Horsetail Falls in Yosemite, as if it were on fire.”

Fun With Graffiti

Mindy-kaling

“The Piano House is located in An Hui Province, China and there’s an escalator into the building in the transparent violin.”

“Hong Kong Apts from the Ground Up”

[2014: A Brave New Year]

Over the past year, I’ve made myself stop and notice when the workings of the world fall into step and New Years Eve was absolutely no exception to this rule.  From the ambiance and the incredible art (both created and sold at the event) to the plethora of people watching and incredible live musical acts, my creative pallet was equally engaged and satiated.  To boot, it’s officially been one year with the man of my dreams and I couldn’t have picked a better way to celebrate our love than in a ‘Sea of Dreams’.

When we came back from San Francisco last night, I’d developed a new-found bounce in my step and I’d found a soft place for my head in the clouds.  I’m still reeling, reliving and loving all of the moments from this trip – and let’s be real, from 2013 in general. So, what do I have up my sleeves for 2014?  For the long list, you’ll just have to stay tuned in to find out – but the short and sweet of it expect some stellar Festival + Concert Coverage, DIY-deas, Adventures around California, Yummy Recipes, Life Musings and More.  But, until then – let me leave you with some highlights of my last trip!

First stop – Menlo Oaks to visit my mom and gallivant through our awesome backyard!

San Francisco’s Ferry Building from Pier 14.

Pickled Quail Eggs @ The Alembic (Yummy!)

Playing tourist with my favorite Partner-in-Crime.

Sea of Dreams: The Ladder of Dreams created by Sea of Dreams founding father, Joegh Bullock

Thievery Corporation gettin’ down on the Main Stage and then with the ball drop…

Surprise! A-Trak brings Dillon Francis on stage for some back-to-back action.

Last stop – the Marin Headlands for that killer view of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. Parting with the city is always bittersweet, but it’s lovely to have another place besides Los Angeles and Corvallis that I can call home.

[Happy Birthday To Me!]

Over the last few days, I’ve been lucky enough to celebrate my 29th birthday with some of my absolute closest and dearest friends.  Last year, my birthday was jam-packed with events, clubs and bars – but to be honest, it was absolutely exhausting and at the end of the weekend, I felt like I spent my birthday surrounded by a lot of people who actually barely new me. Not to say that my closest friends didn’t make the day uber special for me, but you can’t get into a meaningful conversation about your life trajectory when you’re pounding shots in the middle of a dance floor.   This year, I went for a different – more mature – approach.  For starters, I spent Friday night with my boyfriend, his mother and their extended family for some wholesome beer- drinking, cake-eating fun.  From the second I walked into Bowery’s Brewery, the room was full of warmth and amazing vibes; the entire bar welcomed me with a ‘Happy Birthday, Amanda!’ and I was whisked away to our table, fully equipped with balloons and friendly faces.

For my actual birthday, we had a relaxing kickback with lots of wine and laughter – and not a whole lot of people.  If there’s one thing I’ve discovered growing older, it’s that having one or two friends that you can depend on day in and day out is far better than having a group of ‘party friends’ that know absolutely nothing about your personal life; quality over quantity, right?  We laughed and caught up for hours while we celebrated being part of each others’ lives, and two days later I’m still basking in that birthday afterglow, feeling absolutely blessed.

In the past year, I was able to both live and fulfill my dream of being a contributing editor and journalist for The DJ List, I spent hours and hours volunteering for the sake of adorable kitties; I’ve seen friends come home, leave and come home again and I let myself fall into a love so profound that I wake up giddy every morning.  I’m so proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish as a 28 year old – and can’t wait to see what 29 will bring!