[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!

[Self Discovery] What’s Your Power Color

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had more than an affinity for certain colors –  cerulean blue, bright neon pink, rustic oranges, moving mahoganies; you name it, I’ve loved it. If there’s one thing that we, as humanity, can agree on it’s that there’s an unspoken bond between the colors of our world and our feelings towards it. Colors  affect your emotional state on the regular and lately research has even proven that colors can have a physiological effect on the body, giving them emotional control of our brains by altering our hormonal balance.  Without a single noise, taste or smell – the introduction of color can completely alter the course of your day, your life or even your business proposal.

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Back a few years ago when I was first hired at Walt Disney Studios they had a few of our departments pair up for a ‘Color Coding Workshop‘ to determine the best way to communicate with each of us in an office setting.  There are four options for colors – white (peaceful, logical), yellow (fun, attention seeking), blue (emotional, intimate) and last but not least red (powerful, productive).  At the start of the workshop, we filled out two separate surveys and score ourselves; once we finished we received a dominant and a subordinate  color – which for me was blue and white.   Though I was intrigued by the results, my assigned colors for the workshop weren’t my important takeaway:  once we finished reviewing our results, I got to thinking about my coworkers, colleagues and superiors.

The goal of the workshop was to demonstrate the best ways we can relate to our peers and, on the flip side, be understood by them in a constructive environment.  I went through the litany of associates on my email chains while thinking long and hard about the people I continually butted heads with.  I took the time to consider their views for a second – to see what it meant to come from a world where your own personal rule book is run on finding fun or pushing for power – and attempted to translate my learnings into action.  Almost immediately I was witnessing results! There’s one coworker who I had continually fought against to the point that I almost quit my job – on no kidding three different occasions.  After the workshop, I picked up the office phone for fun and rang to his cube – I had a question about a movie promotion and was curious how much better we would be at communicating.  I’d determined that he was a red by color coding standards, so – I wanted to play into his sense of respect and power. Instead of whimsically explaining what needed to happen, I let him get on his pedestal and go through, step-by-step, how we were going to manage the promotion.  For the first time in our work relationship, we came to an agreement, and an affable one at that!

My cats color code themselves.

Now, the more I grow up the more I’ve observed firsthand the role that color plays in everyday life.  From the color of my hair to the colors in my closet; we’re unconsciously affecting our lives on the daily with the way we choose to paint our individual worlds.  I’ve always had an affinity for things that sparkle and shine; thinking back to when I was a little one it always seemed like the blues of the world took my breath away. The sky, the sea, my dad’s eyes -they were absolutely (and peacefully) beautiful to me.  The older I’ve become, the more frequently I’ve been attracted to deep colors at times of passion and light pastel yellows and greens when I’m feeling free.  There are three places that colors play a dominant role in my life: my closet, my nails and on the walls of my apartment.  If we take a trip down memory lane, you could actually see that the dominant colors in my life also dominated my wardrobe: going back to high school, pink was the highlight of my wardrobe; once I moved away to college blue soon replaced it.  I’ve gone through a wicked black phase and tried to counterbalance that with all types of greys; the end result is a cacophony of color and a rainbow on hangers.  Like you would really expect anything less though, right?  Sometimes, it’s the neon colors that get me and others it’s the faded pastels that float into my world – but lately, and so strange to me – I’ve been mulling over this almost bright pastel yellow and it makes me calm and connected.  The irony for me is that though I’ve never done a personality “Power Color” test – for fun, I started playing around with one on Seventeen magazine’s website and – voila – I actually tested as yellow:

Yellow is the color of happiness, mental clarity, optimism, cheerfulness, and energy.

It is also a color that stimulates appetite, the brain, and memory, leading to confidence

Yellow is a practical color, it makes one more analytical, as it is mainly perceived by the brain, and a lot lesser by the heart

On the flip side of our color based personalities, is the idea that behind every astrological sign there’s an appropriate color to don. Being born in early December,  in tropical astrology I fall under the reign of Sagittarius.  I’m ruled by Jupiter, was born with a travel bug, I have a knack for being open and interested, love being on the move and hate feeling constrained.  As far as colors are concerned, we’re ruled by light blue, royal purples and rich maroon; moody, emotional colors which are almost as outspoken as we are as a sun sign.  For  being such a fun loving (yellow) sign, the colors give us balance.   Astrology signs are ruled by colors as well as birthstones – and I think the later is equally important to mention. The Sagittarius birthstone is Turquoise, our soul stone is Tourmaline and our heart stone is bornite (peacock ore).  All are beautiful in their own right, and all grant so much energy when you hold them – especially if you leave your gems out during a full moon like last night.

Bornite / Peacock Ore
The Sag Heart Stone

So tell me, what are your power colors?

Weekly Dose of Wisdom

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an knack for throwing images and quotes together in the perfect symbiosis.  Every so often when I go  back through old journals and tumblr accounts, it becomes increasingly obvious to me how much they not only move me, but my audience.  Visual beauty paired with moving words – let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like it! I don’t know why I didn’t get the idea sooner but over the past few weeks  I’ve been developing my own visual quotes! For editing purposes, I’ve been turning to Mextures on the iPhone and Pixlr Express on the Android; then for the kicker, I add text using an awesome iPhone app called ‘Over’ – it’s pure genius and I highly suggest you guys get them!  With so many amazing fonts and filters to choose from, it’s hard not to get completely sucked in! These are just a few that I’ve made this week – and I’m looking forward to making more and turning this into a weekly segment; wee!


Quotable: Love Should Make You Fly


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Finding Love In Small Moments and Everyday Places

This time of year, there are two words that can either make or break your day depending on your relationship status; couples run to it, those committed to being single scatter in opposing directions.  But from time to time, almost all of us forget that the first relationship we should consider on Valentine’s Day is the one we have with ourselves. It’s a sad state of affairs when our feelings about love are dictated by our relationship status; there is so much love to be shared in each and every moment that it’s a crying shame more people can’t commit themselves to stopping and smelling the roses every once in a while, even if for a second they’re reminded of their thorns.

Love is a set of stepping stones strewn haphazardly over a river of turbulent emotions ; it would be nice if we crossed them carefully and with grace – but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always the case.  The first stone is self-love; you can’t feasibly land on any others until you’ve conquered this step.  People try to skip it and rush to other steps beyond their reach…but some slip, others fall and most curse the world that they’ll never love again. We all stumble and land in the water, but what we have to remember is that you don’t drown by falling in the water, we drown by staying there: we could dance it off and splash around, rinse our souls and start anew; start fresh.

My last relationship ended a while ago and as with most breakups, extenuating circumstances were everywhere.  We weren’t  just like everyone else: our breakup was different; we were different.  Over the course of the few years we’d known each other, he’d been diagnosed Bipolar 1 and I was fighting as hard as I could to maintain any semblance of normalcy between us. When I love, I have a tendency to put the other persons needs before my own – and in this situation, doubly so. But trying to love someone who can’t be 100% of themselves puts unnecessary strain on a relationship, and I was doing the work of both parties. When we split I had an epiphany that I’d put so much of myself into my relationship that I’d lost sight of who I was as an individual: I had no clue what it meant to be me anymore.  In turn, I decided to go on a mission – a journey into the manifest destiny of my emotional mind; it’s been the most rewarding experience I could have asked for, and the best gift he ever gave me.With so much love in the world, we don’t have to be so naive to think that as single members of society we can’t enjoy Valentine’s Day.  For me, Valentine’s Day is a reason to celebrate all the love around me – the love that my friends share, that the couples in my life share, even the love that my pets share: it’s there, it’s all there, you just have to be patient enough to notice it.

At the end of the day, what truly matters is only one love: do you love yourself – and more importantly, what variables add up to love in the equation of your life?

A year and a half ago – I wouldn’t have had an answer for that – I probably would’ve given you a blank stare and said something vague like “happiness.” As delightful as that is, the education adulthood has given me screams that it’s simply not enough: what makes you happy and how do you cultivate happiness in your life or within your friendships? I’m blessed: I’ve found the most fulfilling moments in the smallest of places and they do their dose of replenishing the love in the world around me.

Art doesn’t have to be in a museum and it surely doesn’t have to have a price tag; almost all of the art I’m currently into I stumbled across while wandering the streets of Los Angeles.  And it makes complete sense, if you think about it – creativity oozes from the veins of our city so it’s no wonder that it art lurks in alleyways and lays hidden to the most oblivious of people.

There’s something to be said for being awake while the city sleeps, and it goes beyond catching the glory of a sunrise – while other people are caught up in dreams that they’ll likely never remember, I’m making plans for dreams that refuse to get out of my head.  To be honest, I do my best thinking when the city sleeps.

It’s taken almost five years, but I have to admit – I love LA. I love the clusterfuck of personalities and vocations, of music genres and museums; it’s like someone threw the eclectic parts of the world into a martini shaker and let it loose above the city.

The older I get, the stronger my relationships with my parents get; getting older and wiser is difficult and they make things so much easier.  Whether it’s a funny anecdote comparing my life to any of their post-collegiate fumbles, or friend advise or a funny joke that no one else would get, my parents are my rocks and their support and unconditional love means the world to me.

One of the biggest understatements in the world is this: these two faces light up my life.  Even though I just started, I  can’t begin to explain the adoration and admiration that run through my veins every day that I get to spend with them.  They’re privy to inside jokes no one else gets and see my one person dance parties on the daily. My life is richer because they’re in it; I feel love because they’re in my life

And now, in no particular order – these are the things that fill my heart on the daily:

…getting lost in a good book, autocorrect when I’m drunk, dandelions, empty email boxes, handwritten letters, strangers who share their smiles, scream laughter, catching up with friends over mimosas, mosh pits, the first rays of morning sunshine, bear hugs from close friends, fresh music, hand-me-down clothing, writing, long runs, coincidences, and most importantly – me.