Face Value is Destroying Us

Social media has become our society's arch nemesis. It's the thing most of us love to hate but also refuse to live without. 

We see white picket fences, the kiss after the argument, the corner of the house that's not messy, the angle of the face that meets society's standards of beauty, the filter that smooths out wrinkles and wipes away blemishes, the sucked in bellies, the flexed muscles, and the splurge masking the debt. 

We see the filtered and intellectually (most of us) know that it's there, yet turn a blind eye and are adamant and convinced that what we see is reality. We laugh and joke over the superficial and then turn around judge others or ourselves based on the face value we perceive. The result is spectrum with rage and disdain on one end, and envy and lust on the other. 

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We're conditioned to view flawless as desirable and beautiful yet we, as humans, are inherently flawed.

Even more ironic, is that perfection, flawless, and sameness is often considered boring, stodgy, uptight, and uninteresting. A double-edged sword. 

We choose the media we want to see and get a curated selection within that choice, and as a result, glean a skewed outlook of reality. 

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We see memes, images, videos, and stories conjured up portraying someone or a group of people as someone they may not be based on one characteristic. 

We see slivers of people's lives and personalities and assume we know what their all about. 

Don't assume that I'm anti-hunting because I drive a Subaru. 
Don't assume that I haven't shot a gun because I do yoga.
Don't assume that I don't support our president  because I drink green juice.
Don't assume that I'm Godless because I believe in the healing powers of crystals. 
Don't assume that I'm uneducated because I love country music. 
Don't assume that I had everything handed to me on silver platter because I'm well-traveled.
Don't assume I haven't experienced hardships because I am a white female with blue eyes, and (dyed) blonde hair. 
Don't assume I am against homosexuality because I believe in the right to bear arms.
Don't assume that my boyfriend and I never disagree because I post happy pictures of us. 
Don't assume I'm positive and calm all of the time because I meditate.

These face value assumptions don't just happen in media. They happen walking down the street, driving down the highway, passing through the neighborhood, attending a gathering, shopping at the grocery store, they happen anywhere, and everywhere. They happen in our everyday lives, in and outside of our online lives, and they are destroying our relationships with one another and with ourselves. 

With love, 

-AEB

Title Unknown - That is the Title

It has been a long while since my last post. At least to me, nearly four months is a loooong time to not be writing - or rather  publishing something that is not work related (but isn't it all? More on that later...)

My life is radically different than it was six months ago.

In less than a year, I have fallen madly in love with the a humble, sexy, and strong man. And I do not mean strong merely in the physical sense. The man I have fallen in love one with is strong intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I have moved across the country (again, making this my 6th cross-country move in three years). Not only have I moved across the country, but I have moved in with this man that I have the honor of calling my boyfriend.

This is him.  

This is him.  

For the first time in over 6 years, I am sharing my life with someone. But perhaps more beautiful, more significant, more juicy than that - for the first time in my life, I am openly and peacefully sharing my life with another person - something that I was not sure I would be able to do (or would want to for that matter). I quite liked being single. Though something I have come to learn is that while there are inevitably sacrifices in a relationship, I still live my life the way that I choose to live my life. I still do all of things that I enjoy doing - the things that make me ... me. Things like yoga, jogging, walking, hiking, farmers markets, cooking, writing, and meditation.

I have come to learn that in a relationship - perhaps one of the most paramount things that we need to remember is that what attracted the other person to us is who we are. As soon as we lose sight of the things that make us - us - OUR passions, OUR dreams, OUR goals, we begin to morph into something that neither person can recognize or genuinely and whole heartily love.

Something that I have come to learn in my thirty years here on Earth, is that in a healthy relationship, we add to one another's happiness. We do not solely create it. We are not responsible for the other person's happiness - and they are not responsible for ours. In a healthy relationship, we build more passions, more dreams, more goals - we don't let go of our own. This isn't to say that when something is not serving us well anymore - say an adolescent passion or an unreasonably lofty goal, that we shouldn't let that go. Goals that we have outgrown or evolved beyond most certainly need to be adjusted or completely eliminated. But that is an individual decision. Happiness is an individual choice. One of the things that attracted me to the man that I am with - is that, like me, he had made a distinct decision to choose happiness in his life.

As if falling in love, cohabiting, and moving across the country wasn't enough of a change, I have also started work with a new company. A SaaS technology company that is doing some seriously awesome things in the Digital Asset Management space. 

Most of us wish we could be "retired." We want to tromp around in the woods, frolic in open fields, lounge alongside open seas, and travel to our hearts to content - we talk about these idyllic circumstances with our significant others and friends. We dream of days with no plans, no schedules, no commitments, no deadlines. We celebrate "hump day," carry smiles on "it's almost Friday Thursday's," and act like kindergarteners headed out for recess on Friday's. We fantasize about afternoon siestas and exploring foreign lands and not.... working.

Yet paradoxically, most of us actually enjoy working. Not rudimentary or mundane work - actual work. Work that helps to create balance in our lives and fulfill an element of our health that nothing else can fulfill. Work that is challenging - mentally and often times also physically. Work that allows us to use our brains and our bodies. Work that at the end of the day, we feel we made a difference. Work that makes us feel that what we did all day mattered - that we are valued and provide value. 

Whether you are drilling for oil or you are taking the redeye flight after a week of international meetings, both are taxing on your body. Both require mental and physical exertion. To be meaningfully rewarded financially, emotionally, progressively - time, energy, and dedication need to be put it - with a sense of purpose and pride. Time away from families. Time away from our other passions. Time away from days with no plans.

Whether an owner of a coffee shop or an architect - a logger or a software engineer - a fishing guide or a CEO - a ski instructor or a chef, there is real opportunity to love the shit out of what they do. Each profession so wildly different yet each one has the potential to bring great satisfaction. Similar to a relationship, work that you are passionate about adds to your happiness. It does not define it.

Can you develop passion for something? I believe that passion can be developed over time through a process of self-discovery, finding your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and confusions -  and continuing to build upon knowledge and skills. I believe some things that we are passionate about come to us innately and others we have the ability to create, build, and excel in. 

I heard a quote once, that I'll end with: 

"Discover what it is that you desire to do. Listen to your body and mind as you stress it in different ways. Distill that to its essence." 
-Author Unknown

Here's to the next six months. 

With love,

AEBailey

Living in New York City is like Golf

I have come to the conclusion that living in NYC is like golf. 

Admittedly, I am not an avid golfer, yet this analogy has been spinning around in my head for the past few weeks so I decided to entertain it. 

I say that I am not an avid golfer, and this is true, but I have played the game. And that's exactly what I see NYC as - a game. 

Bear with me here. 

My Dad (an actual avid golfer) once told me a long time ago that playing golf is one of the most unnatural sports in terms of the physical positioning of your body and particularly, the swing itself. 

When the analogy of 'NYC is like golf' kept playing in my head, I Google'd to see if there were any facts or quotes about golf being unnatural.

I found a couple, which was enough for me to know my Dad is not the only one who has had this sentiment about the golf swing being an unnatural motion.   

Brad Faxon, an American professional golfer, and an eight-time PGA Tour winner, said "The golf swing is among the most stressful and unnatural acts in sports, (short of cheering for the Yankees)."

And Cindy Reid, author of, Get Yourself in Golf Shape: Exercise Drills to Build a Strong Swing...stated: "A good golf swing is not a 'natural' athletic move, like throwing a ball, or stroking a tennis forehand. In fact, a golf swing is one of the most unnatural motions in sports."

Like golf, NYC is one of the most unnatural ways to live that I have ever experienced. Actually, it is the most unnatural way that I have ever lived. And like golf, NYC is a complex beast, though may look simple - or even effortless to an onlooker.

Photo Credit:  Edewaa Foster , Unsplash

Photo Credit: Edewaa Foster, Unsplash

Below I will make an effort to articulate the ways in which I believe golf is unnatural. 

  1. You're in an outdoor setting (that is usually quite beautiful), yet you are getting from point A to point B via a golf cart rather than walking
  2. You have everything you need in a large bag, and proper shoes are essential 
  3. In a straightforward definition of golf on Wikipedia, "In golf, players use clubs to hit balls into a series of holes on a course in as few strokes as possible" 
  4. Players are attempting to have the lowest score - that is get the ball in the hole in the lowest amount of strokes possible 
  5. Most golf courses have 18 holes, yet some have 9 and can be played twice-through in order to have a full round of golf 
  6. The stance. You're bowed at the waist, yet your back is straight and your shoulders are tall. Your feet are shoulder width apart yet your knees are slightly bent and the majority of your weight is on the balls of your feet and your left hip is slightly higher than your right. In what other life circumstance are you standing this way? 
  7. The swing. You have to train your body to be able to properly set up for the swing. Which is actually a simple motion. However, that is not to say that it's easy. For anyone who has played the game, this unnatural way of standing and swinging, is quite challenging. And the stance is, of course, much more complex than I described - now add in positioning of your chin, feet, and gripping your hands around a titanium/steel/graphite club (aka iron or wood). 
  8.  While there is a long list of mechanics to the game golf, one is taking this club/rod and attempting to hit a small spherical (usually white) aerodynamic ball into a small hole off a tee (a tiny stationary support for the first stroke from each hole)

The Physics of the Golf Swing: The figure above shows a strobe picture taken of Bobby Jones golf swing, in the 1940s (source: http://www.clubmaker-online.com/bj003.gif)

Cindy Reid goes on to say about setting up for the swing: 

"Does anything about that sound 'easy?' Of course not. Everything about the golf swing fights your natural instincts. You hit down on the ball in order for it to go up. You swing the club right of the target in order for the ball to curve left. You must remove tension from your hands and arms in order to strike the ball harder and hit it farther. Pros stand tall while hitting a stationary object sitting on the ground, and they rotate their shoulders around a reasonably straight spine...But accomplished golfers have trained their bodies to create these unnatural motions...The golf swing is simple, but golf is the hardest game in the world at which to excel - much less, dare I say, master." 

This quote beautifully sums up how I feel about living in New York City.   

Photo Credit: Brook Cagle, Unsplash

Let's break it down. 

Nothing about living in New York City is easy. Everything about NYC fights your natural instincts. You ride the subway down in order to go up. You walk to the right of the person in order for the other person to move left in an ongoing game of move-out-of-the-fucking-way. You must remove tension from your hands and arms in order to work harder and go farther. Pros stand tall while hitting their keyboards riding on the subway, and they rotate their eyes around to watch for shady activity...But accomplished New Yorkers have trained their bodies  (and minds) to create these unnatural acts...Living in NYC is simple, but NYC is the hardest city in the world at which to excel - much less, dare I say, master.

So to parallel the points I made about golf, below I will make an effort to articulate the ways in which I believe living in NYC is unnatural. 

  1. You are in a city setting, yet you are getting from point A to point B via a subway, taxi, or bus rather than walking or driving your own car. Yes, New Yorkers do walk a lot but the 'daily commute' is typically via public transportation. To go 6 miles takes around 45 minutes - and that's if the trains are running on time. 
  2. You carry everything you need in one or two large bags, and proper shoes for walking and getting disgusting are essential (and your other shoes are packed in one of your bags)
  3.  New Yorkers take the least amount of trains with the least amount of stops possible. It's never a mere 'let's go get some groceries.' No, it's an entire event. Getting groceries depends upon the weather, which train station you'll hop on, if there are any transfers, and how many bags you can possibly carry on your person. 
  4. New Yorkers attempt to live in the most idyllic numbers and boroughs as quickly and seamlessly as possible - that is get into the best borough in the least amount of moves possible 
  5. Most boroughs have your own neighborhood cafe, market, and park, yet some have 2 or 3 and can be frequented all in the same day in order to have a full day of quintessential NY
  6. You walk half of a block to pick up your coffee, then go down some stairs to wait for a subway that will take you to another part of the city. If your in rush hour, then you are standing there with your life on your shoulder (or back), coffee in hand, headphones plugged in blasting your most zen music, and trying to read your book, twitter feed, or local paper. On the pole that is keeping you upright, your hand is crammed up against another person's that you don't know and let's face it - probably don't want to know. And your trying to not think about how your leg is crammed up against someone's knee. In what other life circumstance are you standing this way? 
  7. You have to train your body and your mind to be able to properly set up for the swing of the NYC lifestyle. Which is actually simple. However, that is not to say that it's easy. For anyone who has played the game of NY, this unnatural way of living and not breathing, is quite challenging. And the life is, of course, much more complex than I described - now add in trying to breath in fresh air, make friends, and get to any sort of nature that is not contaminated by destruction or pollution.
  8.  While there is a long list of the ins-and-outs to New York life,  one is taking their body and mind and attempting to 'make it' amongst all of the others that have the same goal with a slightly different purpose. Trying to get their very own and uniquely shaped ball off a tee and into a corner office - in the least amount of years - with their favorite market down below and park in view so that they can get a glimpse of the natural world while they work incessantly in the unnatural.

Photo Credit: Björn Simon, Unsplash

Perhaps there is a reason why I am not an avid golfer or a 'true' New Yorker. But, I am grateful to have tried them both so that I can feel that much more belonging in my natural state - and in the natural world. 

-AeBailey
Not a New Yorker, tee'ing off for the next fairway

Pondering the Notion of Home: What and where is it?

What happens... when a home you once knew doesn't feel like home anymore? 

What is truly meant by 'home is where the heart is?' 

What if you're home isn't where you were born, or where you grew up, or where your immediate family is?

Does your past have an influence on the evolution of where you consider home? Where exactly are ones roots? Where they are born? Where they grew up? What about where their ancestors are from? Perhaps a land that they have yet to see...

What I have learned is that, to me, home is where I feel that I am free. Free to be me. Home is where I go to heal. Home is where I feel peaceful. 

 

Given that, is home then something that is 'housed' by your mind?

When we have made peace with our past - is it then that a home we once knew... may feel like home again?

Is there truly a physical aspect to home? Does what it's physically made up of, brick, log, steel... make a difference? Does geography, mountains.. ocean.. city become a factor to where one feels at home? Or, the elements, rainy, sunny, snowy. Or is it where you're people are? And who are your people? Your family? Friends? Both...? What if you don't feel at home where your family or 'old' friends reside?

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe

Or maybe... maybe... we have multiple homes. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Maybe it's our spirit. 

 Source: @GirlGoneIntl

Maybe home is not where the heart is but where the spirit feels the most at peace. 

Maybe... we build homes and plant roots wherever and whenever we feel free. 

Where is home to you?

-AeBailey