Home For The Holidays

I don’t come home very often, but when I do it’s always nice to dodge questions about my love life and my parking situation. My parents went all out with Christmas this year, which is great but strange since we didn’t really celebrate it too much when I was growing up. I think it was because they were so busy working and making sure my brother and I were healthy, fed, and clothed…very pragmatic, and in retrospect I am very thankful for that. Their new home here houses a lot of memories of our old life back in Hacienda Heights. There are very little traces of the mother country, strangely enough. You’d have to pretty much search high and low to find evidence of a past life in Thailand. I suppose when you’ve devoted the last 30+ years of your life to the US that happens.

Sometimes I love the atmosphere in the city. The city is where things are always new, people are always coming and going, and there is a sense of constant refreshment. I feel inspired in the chaos. Sometimes though, I love to reground myself in the history of how my parents built their lives together…and this house is full of the evidence of decades of hard work, struggle, and love. Suburbia isn’t for me but it definitely serves a function for other people.

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The Problem With Christmas

As a child I really enjoyed saving up my allowance and buying stuff for my friends and family. My father never really took well to the whole concept of buying stuff and I think I finally know why.

The course of events this last year has really pushed me into the realm of “the bigger picture.” The thoughts that cloud my mind include, Where do our actions today take us tomorrow? How do the little things we do help us in the long run? How do I help plant the seeds for a better tomorrow?

You see, I have friends, family, and loved ones who all want stuff for Christmas. Unfortunately the stuff they want doesn’t necessarily fit into any long term goals. The fleeting desires for material items and temporary satisfactions actually serve more as distractions than they do long term solutions to their problems. I want to help them tackle the latter, not the former. But, how do I do that on a limited budget of time and money?

Some of the weighty goals of said family, friends, and loved ones include:

  1. Traveling Europe
  2. Finding inner peace
  3. Succeeding in nursing school
  4. Saving enough money for a wedding
  5. Getting healthier
  6. Pursuing their passion, and
  7. Fulfilling a lifelong dream

Because of the nature of my relationships with these people, I believe that I either play a role or SHOULD play a role in helping them achieve whatever it is they are aiming for. I try my best in my interaction with them to nurture these ambitions and to drive the conversation and actions towards these end goals. The problem with Christmas is that most of us use the holidays as an excuse to distract ourselves from the real issues of setting goals and achieving them through actionable steps.

So, with this Christmas still a few days away, I am remaining hyper-cognizant of my unfortunate dilemma. I’m hoping to come to some sort of creative “baby-step” solution that I can offer as a gift soon…seeing as though Christmas is only a few days away.

I am not super religious but I am spiritual and I truly believe that this time of year — better yet, every day of every year — should be spent in pursuit to improving the human condition. It doesn’t matter if you want to tackle the problem on a macro or micro scale, because the trickle down/up effect is inevitable. All I ask is that you do SOMETHING. I end this statement with a video I came across a few years ago, when I found a light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

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When Your Company Is Bigger Than Life And You Can Still Acknowledge Your Fans…That's a Good Sign

You know what it shows me when someone uber-successful actually responds to an @mention?

It shows me that they don’t believe that their accomplishments are bigger than themselves.

I totally respect that. Techie startup LOVE! <3

I’d like to think that one day (when I reach a fraction of success that our contemporary tech entrepreneurs have achieved) I’ll never forget to look back on the supporters that made all of my achievements possible.

Twitter co-founder, Author of "140 Characters"

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Why I Love Social Media

It’s fun connecting with people online…but it’s even better having the eyes and ears of all of your friends a few keystrokes away. Luckily for me, all but one of my friends from art school is on Twitter so it’s great being able to keep up with their projects.

I shared a minor victory on Twitter and a few minutes later, the following virtual high-five/fistbump ensued.

Amara Poolswasdi

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Four Stages of Conflict Resolution

This morning I participated in a meditation and Dharma session at a local Buddhist meditation society and listened to a very thoughtful and provoking address on conflict resolution. In the past year I’ve noticed that my approach to conflict (and its eventual resolution) has dramatically changed. Be it a shift in perspective or different resources I have available to me, it has definitely changed for the better and I am beginning to be more mindful of when I am practicing meaningful conflict resolution. I hope that these stages will help you recognize your abilities to reconcile the differences that present themselves in your daily life and that you will be able to apply them as needed.

Stage 1 – Pacification. There is an attempt made at pacifying a conflict, otherwise known as a “heart-to-heart” or some sort of method by which one party attempts to address the situation. Usually done by “talking things out,” this step almost always reinforces a relationship by establishing a connection or bond that revolves around trust. It is in this stage that the relationship between the two individuals grow deeper.

Stage 2 – Mediation. There may be insufficient communication between the two conflicting individuals; therefore, a third-party mediator may be required to help both individuals address said conflict. This can be via counselor, psychologist, friend, clergy, arbitrator, etc, but it is preferred that mediation be conducted by someone who does not have a vested interest in said relationship. An objective point of view is necessary to help evaluate the conflict, but not place value on either individual’s opinion.

Stage 3 – Magnetization. One individual within the conflict changes the situation in such a way that compels the other person to take action. In this stage, ultimatums or interventions may reasonably take place. A drastic action that creates a schism in the relationship will push the resolution in one of two directions. Much in the same way that magnets work, this will either bring the two individuals closer together or tear them apart. In this case, it is safe to say that there is no middle ground.

Stage 4 – Destruction. Either one or both individuals choose to destroy the aspect of the relationship that causes conflict. This does not necessarily mean that the two individuals walk away from each other entirely. This stage of conflict resolution highly depends on both of the individual’s emotional quotient. The most emotionally mature individuals may be able to permanently separate their overall relationship from the root of conflict. In this case, the conflict is resolved but the relationship (either actualized or imagined) remains intact.

How have you been successful at conflict resolution? Do any of these steps apply to you?

——

Special thanks to Ken McLeod for the discussion after this morning’s guided meditation at Against The Stream.

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“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

I don’t remember when I came across this poem but I’ve always found it to uplift me in times of despair and ground me in times of greatness.

Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser
persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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Portraits of People Who Mean Something, Part 1

Focusing on composition and catching people in their natural state of being. Kind of like a fly on the wall but right in front of them. Planning on a series of this so it should be fun! I’m not really in the mood to get super complicated with equipment, film, etc right now in my life so this is a happy medium. Yay for cell phone art!

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Sleepy in Seattle

The recent emotional upheaval in my life has rekindled my drive towards artistic ambidexterity. Although I like to think of myself as a talented designer and creative marketer, there’s something to be said about pursuing something for the sheer love and thrill of it…not worrying about branding it, hanging it up in a gallery, or hoping that someone else loves it as much as I do. Enter love #2, love #3, and love #4 of my life: photography, illustration, and dance…all of which I resolve to do much more of in the upcoming year. Although I haven’t necessarily been repressed or restricted from practicing them, I have definitely been a little more preoccupied with work and love these past few years.

Today I’ve had a little bit of fun in downtown Seattle with my Android app RetroCamera. I’m hoping to catch the sunrise tomorrow morning in town before my plane heads out.

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Homelessness in Los Angeles

Living in mid-city Los Angeles I frequently face the issue of homelessness. My particular section of Wilshire, called Miracle Mile, has a few regulars. When it gets too hot out, they chase the shade with all of their earthly possessions. When it gets too cold out they huddle in thick blankets and build forts out of cardboard boxes and newspapers.

Yesterday, in my privileged state of being, I was enjoying a hot cup of tea while reviewing some reading for my public relations class. I love to people watch so I get very distracted if a tea house begins to fill out with transient or purposeful souls who are looking for a quick respite from their everyday routine. I stared at my book but opened my ears and listened to a man who had just sat down to converse with a woman at a nearby table.

“This is the time of day I hate the most” he says.

“What do you mean?”

“…Night. It’s when I can’t go home, because I don’t have one.”

“Oh.”

“It’s the stigma of being homeless, I guess.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes before he got bundled up and left the coffee shop to seek temporary shelter elsewhere.

Homelessness is an unfortunate reality here in Los Angeles. With it comes a myriad of social stigmas, psychiatric issues, and financial ramifications. I try to help as much as I can by giving out food. (Unfortunately, that is not always the preferred method of dealing with the homeless.) I purposefully don’t finish my Subway footlong or carry an extra full bag of groceries hoping that I will be able to help someone for just a few hours with their problems. Sometimes when a homeless person is refused service inside of a coffee shop or convenience store I try to speed through my checkout just so that I could hand them a small gift card…but they’ve usually already snuck away. What breaks my heart the most is watching other people ignore their cries for help.

The only real difference between the sheltered and the homeless are four walls. The fact that my mother was on the brink of homelessness when she and her eight other siblings were orphaned at a young age probably have something to do with my hypersensitivity of this issue. It is a large-scale problem with multiple variates, and it requires the attention from and coordination of many different societal institutions to fully address. I hope that one day, somehow, the playing field will level, but I suppose that transcends our current material world. After all, some people can still feel spiritually or emotionally homeless within their own home.

Do what you can…and do something!

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