Category Archives: life

The Problem with Needing to Be the First to Report the News

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet” — the new and now longstanding credo du époque. 

What happened to actually reporting the news?  Pressure from conglomerates happened. Ratings, sensationalism, virality happened. The internet and social media happened, and I’d argue that we’re all to blame in some way, simply by demand and consumption. 

With the internet being the world’s main and largest source of information, and social media making it available and accessible by the literal second, it is a bit tough to escape the matrix — but tough doesn’t have to be impossible. 

On Monday, October 2nd, reports flooded in early in the day that legendary singer, songwriter, and musician Tom Petty was taken to the hospital in a state of unconsciousness following cardiac arrest. His condition was updated to having been taken off of life support, to dying. This was reported by hundreds of verified online publications, until it was acknowledged that confirmation had, in fact, not been obtained. 

Following a statement from the LAPD denying their prior confirmation, reports were quickly retracted to Petty clinging to life until his spokesperson released a statement hours later that he had passed away at 8:40 pm PST.

This need to be the first to report breaking news is now regularly causing once-reputable news outlets to shoot themselves in the foot while it’s still their mouth, while other websites — essentially RSS or reblog feeds — pick up the story and further spread the contamination. 

Was this the LAPD’s fault, or was it the fault of the new school of journalism? Was it our fault as the public for how easily we’ve adapted to wildfire? 

I would answer: all of the above.

As a result, Petty’s final hours were tinged by the unfair and unwarranted stress of infringed upon privacy, personally experienced by his family, friends, and bandmates. Fans around the world were either propped up by false hope, or thrust into a position of waiting for him to die. There was no good publicity to be garnered from it — just a media circus. Just vultures circling around, waiting to strike. 

It begs reminding that it is the job of journalism to report and document the news through an unbiased lens, with integrity to the profession. It a position worthy of dignity and respect, one with huge responsibility. It is far more than cents-per-word or exposure-only employment. And, it is not at all about the journalist. Journalism is our history in motion.

In forgetting this, devastating events surrounding the first two days of October 2017 have fallen under the pay-per-click umbrella, where “everyone is a journalist”, at an ultimate cost to the subject. 

We should all be ashamed.

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More Writing Tips From Someone Who Doesn’t Know What They’re Doing

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(An unintended continuation of this post.)

The Emmys are tonight, which is super exciting and everything. This is an obvious opportunity to celebrate another year of brilliant television. There have been some amazing productions this year on both network, cable, and streaming services. The game is being changed, and it has been amazing to observe, to the point where reception has been, at times, delightfully overwhelming. This must be praised, as quality programming, like other forms of artistic expression, needs to be recognized, talked about, and experienced — because when it is, even more stories get told (especially those that probably wouldn’t have otherwise).

However, yet another year has gone by where I don’t feel like I even have an idea to flesh out. (Yes, I’m making this about me.)

One day I’d love to write something worthy of recognition on such a level. But to do that, I’m going to have to keep writing.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles my whole life, so the star-studded aspect isn’t novel to me. What is novel, however, is seeing people you know do things that you could only dream of doing. In knowing these people, I know first hand that they have the same 24 hours in one day as anyone else. They’ve periods of discouragement and laziness, like everyone else. But they keep moving.

This weekend I was able to go through some old stories and poems from college. Not to toot my own horn, but I wrote pretty damn well. But I was a bit stubborn and, due to writing more for the grade rather than the passion, present-day me could really sense the loss of drive and focus within each piece. It’s no wonder why I refused to read or write during the year following graduation.

The drive has definitely come back, though, almost to the point when I first started writing as a young teenager. I remember writing so much then, even performed at open mics and submitted my work to publications. I wasn’t afraid of saying or doing something. I wanted to contribute, and truly felt my work to hold as much weight as others’.

I’m not sure if that’s exactly the case for me now. If anything, I’m much more conscious about what I put out there, probably due to the saturation of ideas on social media, and how quickly information can be dispensed, digested, and transferred. The pressure to make an impact is very much there, as is the desire.

Like anything else, the view just needs to be scaled back a bit.  I need to go back in my personal history and touch on what’s been pushed out of memory. I need to ask myself difficult questions, especially in relation with others, and experience the breeze every once in a while. I need to write what I know, and be endlessly curious about what I don’t.

And, I need to keep writing.

How Do I…? Mental Feng Shui 

Whenever I hear about feng shui, it’s referenced as being an arrangement of objects to where the placement holds the possibility to either foster or hinder energy. It’s this energy that we need to attain a desired outlook, perception, and foundation for oneself.  (This article via Real Simple explains it really well.)

Now, I’m not an expert, but if there is one thing I know it’s that it is about far more than furniture. If, at its core, it is about what keeps things in the direction in which we are going, then I’d like to apply the concept to the space where we spend all of our time — our minds.

Below are five potential ideas on how to do so:

1. Daydream for a minute. Literally, for 60 seconds (or 30, if you’re really pressed for time). The brief shift in focus may be all that’s needed to get to the next moment with a little less stress at the helm.

2. Change your smartphone’s wallpaper or theme. It’s a little like getting a new sheet set, to be honest. As a Samsung user, I’ve found plenty of free themes in the Samsung Themes section of Settings (and I’m fairly certain the iPhone has plenty of options available as well). My two favorites are Ece and Aurora_curiosoo, shown below:

Ece Samsung theme

Aurora_curiosoo Samsung theme

3. Update your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has quickly become the social media equivalent of one’s resume, without the formal pressure of a cover letter and stiffly-worded salutation. Even if you aren’t looking for a new employment opportunity, it’s a good way to remind yourself of your strengths and abilities especially if you happen to feel stagnant for one reason or another. Plus, the news feed and following capabilities make it a great space to build and maintain a professional network. Not everyone can make it to meetups or mixers,  but you can definitely log in to LinkedIn.

4. Do something different. Anything. Use a different pen to note tasks. Walk a different route during your afternoon break. Eat your salad with a different salad dressing. Listen to a band, artist, or podcaster that sounds like or covers similar topics to whoever you currently listen to. It is the quickest way to do something out of the box yet remain close to any previously designated boundaries of comfort. And on that note…

5. Keep your ear to the ground entertainment-wise. There are numerous options to stay in the now with TV, films, music, and books. I’ve had Netflix and HBO Go for ages and recently subscribed to Amazon Music. Personally, I enjoy the relative non-commitment of listening to numerous albums before buying them, But also, there’s something about commercial-free streaming that keeps the vibes at a cool, even keel.

This is merely my personal take at present — please feel free to leave any tips in the comments on how you funnel energy and iron out the kinks.

ttfn~

Lead photo via Benicia Herald

The Rhythm of a Short Week

Never underestimate amount of bliss contained within the four-day workweek that follows a three-day weekend. Who doesn’t love Faux Monday falling on Tuesday, and a Friday that takes no time to arrive? It’s all such a carefree flurry breezing through humdrum life, not unlike bygone days of early dismissal in grade school. 

But mind thy calendar, for as quickly as you wished for it, we’re now back to your regularly scheduled two-day weekend. And once its over, what’s left is the five-day workweek of weeks past — complete with Real Monday, and perhaps a sour gut feeling as if nothing noteworthy ever happened, nor will happen again. 

C’est la vie. Such is life. Every day is, in fact, a gift, and yet:

“Time keeps on slipping into the future.” — Fly Like an Eagle, Steve Miller Band

Just like that. 

It’s Not You, It’s Me (The Truth About Blogging)

The idea of this blog came while travelling with my laptop in Denmark this past June. Being halfway around the world, I was reminded just how engaged the global online community is, and knew that if I just pushed myself, somehow I could find a place in it again.

Yes, again. Seven years or so ago, I had a blog called “Adventures of a Car-Less Valley Girl in Los Angeles” — a place where I commented on goings-on and personal forays in the cycling and public transportation world. Looking back on it now, I can see the interest and passion that went into it. Living car-free in a city where one’s car is considered a measure of status, it was basically my whole life. Not so much anymore, as I’ve had a car for a good three years now, although the issue of infrastructure and community still very much concern and affect me.

So what is my life now? What exactly do I want to share here?

1. Adventures in yoga. Everything about yoga is ultimate goals to me, but I’ve yet to put it into regular practice. It’s time. Over the next two weeks, I plan on making yoga a focus — practicing sun salutations A and B to the point of memory, adding some targeted stretches, and enjoying the hell out of savasana. (I’m really good at savasana.) I’ll also do some targeted conditioning work and maybe 10 minutes of HIIT cardio per session — but it’s time to switch gears and take a different route.

2. Random commentary (world events, hot topics, trends, etc.). There are maybe three YouTube drama commentators that I watch semi-regularly, but every time I do, I’m quickly reminded of this likely mis-quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Do I want to be that person on this platform? Not really. I’ve many viewpoints on things, but not necessarily on what is being gossipped about concerning social media personalities. Millions of others care enough without my input, and I don’t want to expend so much energy just to be in-the-know about someone’s drama that doesn’t serve me. I will, however, cover topics of note that inform, notify, and perhaps encourage to thought and action. We’ll just see.

3. Creative works. Think poetry, prose, short passages. I’ve an idea for a series involving mental health, and just existing, and will feature it here as it develops. It would be nice to write about writing, so look out for that as well. It might not always be pretty, but it might be what’s needed.

4. And finally, how bizarre life is. My colleague and I were talking yesterday about how life is just too much sometimes, but that no one can seem to tell from the outside. As we were talking, I could feel the stress settling in my neck and trace anxiety from making genuine eye contact. Balance between family, work, and passion is an ongoing process, and all the joy I can feel in one instance is met with fighting the urge to not cry in another. I’d like to touch on horrible and wonderful in every moment because right now, that is my life (and likely many others… we just don’t talk about it).

So there you have it — my intended direction for this blog at this time. Should I ever retract, just remember that the internet is forever, and there will always be some cached version available for viewing somewhere.

ttfn~

I Don’t Feel Like Writing

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I had a really nice time this weekend camping in the mountains with  my boyfriend, our dog, and  our good friends (don’t worry, it’s not deja vu — we went last weekend as well). It actually managed to feel like two weekends in one because we got home early enough this morning to decompress and prepare for the week ahead.

For me, part of that was thinking of something to write about and engage in with others. But between fleeing Los Angeles on Friday night, really enjoying the time out in nature (including waking up to some fresh cougar tracks outside of our tent — twice), I just really didn’t feel like writing. Not at all. It’s natural, I thought to myself; just call it a night and revisit this tomorrow. But something motivated me to put a little something to digital paper that I felt a bit important to share:

I graduated from university in 2012 with a degree in creative writing. The initial goal was to be an elementary school teacher, largely because I absolutely love the school community and the positive effects it can have on young minds. It was my third grade teacher who really stoked the fires of my imagination through reading and writing, and I really wanted to give back in that regard. (Ms. Toni Stitt, if you’re reading this — thank you, thank you, a million times over.) Besides that, just thinking of the summer and winter breaks meant ample time to write or travel.

However, that desire to write had been burned out by exhaustion, the reality of student loans, and the need to get a job as soon as possible. So I went for five or so years with the skill and ability to write, but struggling to find, not just the spark, but the confidence to do so again. Now that it’s warming my fingertips and my heart again, I don’t really want to let go of it. So I’m not going to.

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Instead, I’m going to tell you just how amazing it was to see our galaxy last night, like reflective clouds reaching across the sky. The night itself was brisk and cold, but not so much that it was unbearable, although my friend lent me a pair of gloves to keep warm. We originally had our chairs positioned almost as if we were looking at the sky like a television screen, but I got up in the middle (managing to steer clear from shrubs and rocks in the dark), turned my back to the makeshift screen and arched up just enough to get the view I came for, by sheer accident. There were massive, incomprehensible clusters of stars and I thought, some people don’t get to take in such views. There’s no real way to duplicate this, no dreaming up such formations from a limited scope. You have to actually be there and let your brain receive such wonder through your eyes, I mused, and stood there another ten minutes or so until it was time to go to bed. 

That’s why I’m writing right now, and probably why anyone else does: because it really is worth telling about, passing along traces of life, and feeling all the more alive in doing so. 

Just in case you were wondering.

Keeping It Simple – Never Easy, Always Worth It

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(Editor’s note: Somehow I mistook today’s daily prompt for “simplicity” when it is actually “solitary”…. will work it in somewhere. And if not, there’s always next time!)

“Nothing worth having comes easy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Everything as we know it to be in its past or present form has come to be the result of an implemented process. Clean water is made available by filtration. Minimalism is achieved by letting go. Good relationships stem from communication, compromise. Peace is accomplished by war.

I recently wrote on the concept of intuitive eating and about how it is essentially an over thinking of a simple function. I still feel that to be the case, but thought I’d dive a little bit deeper, as I also feel that this applies to much than diet and nutrition.

Eating well, often, and with a clear head can involve reverting to the most basic of mindsets — “I’m hungry. I’m going to eat.” But it also means having the resources, the funds, and the federal regulation that allows good, affordable food to be available, to everyone. But we all know that this is not always the case around the world. 

(As an example: I recently read a U.S. news story about kids at a Florida middle school being allowed to the front of the lunch line if their parents “donated” $100. Instead of teaching impressionable minds that life rewards privilege, couldn’t we perhaps just feed the children?)

Humans are complex beings with, I feel, good intentions. We have a brain that takes up 2% of our total body weight. It receives, filters through, and absorbs massive amounts of information, and responds to internal and external stimuli, including stressors and pleasures. Science has allowed us to know so much about this powerful, complex organ — the very command center of our existence — and yet there is so much more that we don’t know. Overcomplicating things sometimes only makes sense.

Back to the outset, what is perceived as simple usually is the result of some sort of process that involves time, willingness, and resources. What is easy or more feasible for some may be very difficult or less possible for others, but it is also entirely possible.

For all you may know, real progress for our shared pain points — mental/physical, economical, political, to name a few — may merely involve more input from our heart, or gut, than over-input from from our head.

It may never be that easy, but it is almost always that simple.

Photo via Pixabay