Where You & I Came From

I don’t usually think of myself as growing up in a culturally diverse-parent household, but I think it’s important for the psychology of many young people to understand where their parents came from, and how they arrived here today - even if they are from the same "nation" or background.

I think we can better understand ourselves and have compassion on the differences of others when we hold up the concept of marriage to a light and examine all the reflecting prisms and details we see.

I see marriage as an everlasting bond on this earth between two people who agree to love one another unconditionally.

The pivotal part is, these people are not exactly the same and often times are from opposite ends of the human spectrum.

So, why is it so hard for different cultures comprised of human beings to exist simultaneously, when marriage is such common practice among very diverse individuals in this world?

What if we extended the thoughts and ideas surrounding marriage to seek mutual understanding of those around us?

My mother was from the north. My father, the south. My mother was raised in a tight-knit Italian community in Pennsylvania, moving from the homestead as a child to California—where she never moved from the street she called home and still resides there today. My father, born in Florida, came from a split family home, moving around the country many times (he went to 3 different Junior High Schools and 5 different High Schools - on two different coasts) before residing in California and marrying my mom.

I am often pulled in two different directions intrinsically when I think of my future. I grew up in one home, never moving until my late teens. Then the world was my oyster.

I would oftentimes be gripped with anxiety before traveling and the thought of leaving what I knew. But since I had this simultaneous untamed sense of wonder, I would usually make sure to put myself in situations where “home” was wherever I was at the moment, and traveled. And traveled often. Mainly with friends. Mainly with my now-husband. I would just save up my money and go. “What if we went here, *points finger to map* tonight!”

Maybe it’s because I had the same “instinct” of escapism (I understand that it is truly an instinct with the life I’ve led) and followed in my dad’s footsteps. Getting the hell outta' there whenever something was wrong and getting outside of myself for a few days or a week…or two. Maybe it's the sense of self I have - my sense of "home" - that I take with me everywhere I got from my mom.

Understanding the mixed makeup I have – whether it be tendencies or genetic – is helpful when pondering ideas of understanding people and myself in a day-to-day context.

These thoughts and ideas help open me up to accepting differences and engaging others in ways I never really thought I could. If I come from these very different people, then why would it be difficult to relate to or understand those who are different from myself? 

Marriage is this insane idea where two very different people are bound for life. 

So why can’t we engage one another and cultures who are very different from our own when we are so willing to marry someone and bind ourselves to another human being very different from ourselves?

 

Think about when your parents are from. Whether you are from a very diverse background or what would be considered (on paper) a very homogenous background.

Think about the obstacles your parents had to overcome to make things “work” over the years. Maybe they didn’t make it work. Maybe they did. Think about those struggles.

Think about someone you know who you don’t quite understand – maybe it’s your neighbor – maybe it’s a friend who makes very different decisions than you would.

That awkward unexplored land is the vast expanse of opportunity for cultural understanding. The space that can separate or engage us.

Only those daring few can rove over the valleys and mountains that lead to mutuality. 

All images were taken on a random trip up the coast with my husband, Micah. Love you, boo. 

Skid Row Schools Us Again: Identity Edition

It wasn’t until recently that I realized something I had never thought about while working on Skid Row.

In western society, we look to “stuff” to delineate one another. Do you live in an apartment and have no car? You’re ________. Do you live in a big house and have lots of cats and children and golf carts? You’re __________.  Fill in what you will, but usually we see one another at face value.

He’s wearing nice shoes, she has a crappy car. And we place people on a scale usually ruled by how much money he/she has, which directly translates to how much they are “worth” monetarily and intrinsically. At least in America, and at least from my perspective.

Skid Row is this unique place where story rules identity.

“Stuff” has recently been ripped away, or was never had, by most of the individuals there. My friend Michael would tell me (and still tells me) that “you know you’ve arrived when you no longer need to look through the donations bin for clothing…you can save up your change and buy something for yourself.”

So, people told me stories. Everyday, someone would walk into my office and talk to me about who they were or who they are or the things they’ve done or the famous people they’ve met or used to work for. Literally, I rode home on the train and would run into people from Skid Row and they would tell me stories all the way to my next transfer.

Because the stories kept them alive in today’s world.

The stories held their identities because surely (from a western perspective) how could anyone accurately know who they were by looking at them?

Do we do that to everyone, not just those on Skid Row? Do we do this to that girl you sit next to in class? Do we do this to that “annoying” coworker? Do we do this to that person that always parks too close to you with the “crappy” car?

When you see someone, think of their story. Don’t forget the person they really are isn’t reflected by their exterior, but by the lives they live.  

The Stranger in My Closet : Becoming Your Own Fashion Icon

I was talking to my BFF Kasandra a couple weeks ago and she had realized something that day about herself that I think a lot of people do (or just us, but don’t lie I know you do too):

She realized that she was dressing to be someone else, and she was tired of it.

She had looked in her closet and realized that she wore the same things over and over and ignored the other clothes that she actually loved.

I feel the same way a lot of the times – I’m dressing for the person I imagine myself to be (which is really not me, it’s someone else I’ve made up) and I lose myself in something as small as what I’m going to wear that day.

yes, this is our album cover. 

If the first decision we make in the morning, aka choosing our outfit, reaches for someone else as opposed to who we are as a unique individual then how will the rest of our day go?

Does that set the tone for the rest of the day’s decisions? Will they be made for someone else without staying true to ourselves?

If we remove our voice first thing in the morning then who’s live are we living?

Having a gut reaction to something is our privilege as humans and makes us who we are. Don’t mask it. Don’t start your day by asking whomever dwells in your head what he/she wants to wear. Wear what you want. Go with your gut. Repeat endlessly throughout your day.