Welcome to our segment of the “Think Tank” where we send out a Q&A to the people, to keep building and exploring “Food For Thought” for the people. Each and every moment someone’s story is unfolding and I feel each and every one of us is significant. Together, we make TODAY better than YESTERDAY.
Our next next guest has led a life of great resilience, commitment, and compassion. Even through the harshest conditions, she's a wildflower that continues to bloom.
1. Give a bit of your background/context. (Where you’re from, what you do, etc.)
I am a Los Angeles native through and through. Lived in northern California for a few years after high school, but LA has my heart. Professionally I am a commercial coordinator – this means I make TV commercials for a living.
2. What are some your top values in life and, why?
Empathy & compassion are the big ones – my parents always said I had a big heart from an early age. I have always found myself drawn to and rooting for the underdog and I yearn for an even playing field; a world where we all have the same opportunities, the same basic needs – physical and emotional (a roof over our heads, access to clean and safe food and water, and the love and support of family or friends, a world where no one is burdened or disadvantaged by lack). My heart breaks every time I pass a homeless person on the street and I am often left wondering – why them and why not me? How is it that I get to go to work every day, come home to my (modest yet comfortable but most of all SAFE) home, eat healthy/fresh food, be warm and safe and know I am loved and this person is left cold, hungry, lonely on the street day after day. I just don’t get it. I try to help when I can, but am often left scratching my head when I start to compare – I look at the abundance in this world, and I mean exorbitant abundance – people that own multiple cars (for pleasure not necessity), live in mansions, wear designer clothes and eat at fancy restaurants…how can they do that in good conscience when there are people lying on the streets…let alone people, in say Africa, who don’t even have access to CLEAN WATER?! So yeah, I think what this world needs more of is compassion…if we all cared about one another a little more, it would go a long way.
3. In your work and personal/home life what are some of the ways you stay motivated?
I have struggled with depression nearly my whole life, so staying motivated is a crucialpart of maintaining my wellbeing. I recognize that and therefore am hyper aware & pro active of certain steps and tools that are necessary for me to stay “level.”
Tool #1 – waking up early and starting my day with exercise. Being up early affords me a head start. I feel like the hour and a half I spend exercising before the sun is up, not only gets me physically ready for my day (loosens the muscles, gets my blood pumping, endorphins going, etc.) – but it also prepares me mentally. It gives me that time to mentally run through my day, play out all I have on my agenda and gets me geared up to tackle it head on. That time is essential in combating the anxiety that may come with heavily pressured work days, or days when I have a lot to get done in a little time. That hour and a half spent thinking in silence (I used to listen to music to amp me up, but I found that it was drowning out my thoughts and have only recently noticed I do better listening to my inner voice than say Tim Armstrongs’ of Rancid. ;) ) – that time helps me not feel overwhelmed with all I have ahead of me on that day.
Tool #2 – Subjecting myself to healthy influences, mentally and physically. I LOVE me a good murder mystery show and I have never met a cheese burger I didn’t like, but I have to keep my consumption of both in check if I am going to keep a positive, energized and hopeful outlook on life. I find that the more I expose myself to mental downers (the news – ugh, CSI, angry rap music to name a few for me) the more I find my mental well being in jeopardy; I find myself predisposed to being agitated or weighed down/sluggish, which in turn makes me unmotivated. Same goes with food, when I eat clean, I am physically lighter and more energized. When I eat greasy delicious chili cheeseburgers all the time, all I want to do in nap in sweat pants. That being said, I also think depravity is not healthy (it will make me resentful, sad), so its all about moderation.
Tool #3 – making lists. I find, the deeper I get into this whole adult hood thing, the more things there are to get done and the less time we have to do them. Sometimes I can feel completely overwhelmed by all my responsibilities that I will be completely paralyzed/unmotivated because I don’t know where to start. Making lists so I can compartmentalize and better see the big picture and this decipher what demands my current attention and what can be addressed at a later date, setting reminders (“hey Siri, set a reminder” – literal life game changer for me, thank you apple) – both of these things really help keep my momentum moving forward.
4. We speak of “Food For Thought” that provides a means of making TODAY better than YESTERDAY. What do you do or do you have a daily routine to keep your mind on the right track?
Well, I feel I addressed some of this above but I can expand a little. A big part of keeping my mind on the right track is controlling my inner dialog. I struggle with my own perception of myself (body image, self worth) and I often catch myself speaking really negatively about myself and that is something I make a conscious effort to combat. Lately (and I mean only super recently) – I have been trying to flip the script by saying positive and hopeful things about myself. I am currently working hard to get healthy (physically) and though my physical progress has been minute, I am praising myself every day for getting up and out of bed and exercising. When I start to go down an anxiety black hole in work because my load is “too much to bear,” I remind myself – “I have done this before and I will do it again. My colleagues have chosen me to work alongside them for a reason; I am beyond capable and skilled and over qualified and I will excel in this and all that I do because of my strong work ethic and unfaltering, well sometimes faltering but always getting back up, attitude.”
5. What are your top three favorite books, movies, or shows and, why?
Favorite books – “Beach Music” by Pat Conroy, “Summer Sisters” by Judy Blume & almost anything by Michael Connelly, my favorite probably being, “The Poet.”
My love for these three books are all deeply rooted in the memories from the time in my life I was at, when these books came to me. When I was in my early 20s I had just moved back to LA and into my first apartment alone. I was scraping by, paycheck-to-paycheck and I could not afford cable. My grandpa started a book club with me; every month he would give me 5 books that I had to read, and to this day he has never recommended something that didn’t move me in some way.
“Beach Music” is an incredible story about life and love and the journeys we all take and it was just a really powerful read. All of Connelly’s works are really well written. Probably my favorite thing about his books is that they are all set in Los Angeles and he constantly references little places that only natives would notice or recognize. I can close my eyes and instantly be transported to my first apartment in the Hollywood hills; lights dim, crickets chirping, 1950s slatted windows letting in a crisp breeze… (I can even see the crimson red bed sheets I was lying in when I was reading “The Poet”). I remember turning the page and the protagonist (Harry Bosch) found himself in his apartment off Woodrow Wilson drive and the murderer was creeping up his back stairs unbeknownst to him…Woodrow Wilson drive was literally less that a mile from my apartment; all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I got chills. I remember calling my grandpa late that night, after 10pm, and scolding him for giving me this book – such a terrifying and salacious read, I could not put it down and I just remember his laughter and commiseration because he felt the same way when he read it…such special memories, and a bond that we still share - to this day we have both read almost every one of Connelly’s works and we still come together to share stories about our reads.
Judy Blume, I don’t think I need to expand much here as her reputation precedes her. But, “Summer Sisters” was her first adult novel and I was 14, and traveling with my best friend from kindergarten, when my mother gave us both a copy. The story is set around two girls, different in so many ways but the same at the core and it follows their friendship from elementary school through adulthood. This book lined up with both our lives in so many ways and I can again, close my eyes and be transported to the deck of a ferry boat in the Mediterranean (side note, how lucky was I?!) eating chocolate with Erica (my bestie) and eagerly turning each page, we could not read the book fast enough! I have since re-read the book over 10 times and recently gifted my copy to my little sister on her graduation from junior high (at age 14) and she read it while traveling with me (in the Mediterranean no less!) and it’s just continued to impact my life in so many lovely ways.
6. If you could chose a superpower or spirit animal what would it be and, why?
I don’t quite get the spirit animal thing; blame it on my lack of imagination so I guess I’ll go with super power? Though I really am not one for the fanciful ideas, I prefer to stay rooted in reality but I guess that sounds like a conversation to explore with my therapist.
If I had to choose, I guess I would say flying? Birds have always seemed so free and to watch one soar is just a magical experience and I suppose it would be nice to see how that feels. Also, would be awesome to beat traffic – ha!
7. If you could call your younger self, what sort of advice would you offer?
Funny that this question should come up, as I found myself actually yearning to talk to my younger self just the other day. I was going through a keepsake box when I stumbled upon my journals from high school. As an adult, I have always owned my upbringing, “the fast life, growing up way too quick, exposed to so much at a young age because of distracted young parents & living in a big city” but re-reading these journals, combined with all the emotional work I have been doing in therapy lately, I found myself desperate to hold the younger me, shower her in love and reassure her that everything would work out as its meant to. You see I had a tough time in high school – dabbled in drugs and boys at an early age, which derailed my path and shifted my priorities. That, combined with a brutal divorce, distracted (neglectful seems harsh but accurate?)/busy parents & a falling out with my friend group, which left me “completely alone,” basically plunged me into a really dark and deep depression. Reading my words back, I was gifted with the perspective and able to see that it was all really a cry for help, for love, and most of all for accountability. I found myself lost in the shuffle and desperate for a place to belong. Only now am I finding that I have to create that place for myself and to lift the responsibility and subsequent disappointment off of the other people in my life. When I allow myself to be the filler of my own cup, I can be fulfilled and happy – when I look to others for validation, love etc. – I open myself up for disappointment. Mostly, if I could talk to my younger self, I would pull her into a deep embrace and tell her she’s worthy of the love she so desperately craves. I would tell her life is so much bigger than high school and though it seems hopeless, things will change and shift and these years will just be a drop in the bucket. I will reassure her that her parents did the best they could and inadvertently taught you what to do/not do, and hope that you will be given the opportunity to right those wrongs with your own children at some point in life.
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