Colors and Stress: Why you should invest in a coloring book

mandala

According to an article in the Huffington Post, coloring generates wellness, quietness, and stimulates areas of the brain related to motor skills, senses, and creativity (Santos, Elena, 2014). You may not know that coloring has been applied by psychologists as a relaxation technique (see Carl Jung’s work). The power of coloring lies in its mindfulness characteristics. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment, not allowing thoughts or worries to affect your present state. There are different ways to practice mindfulness including meditation, yoga, and music. Coloring is a fun way of practicing mindfulness while reminding you of childhood bliss. You can use adult geared coloring pages such as the ones featured in Huff Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/27/coloring-book-for-grownup_n_5717281.html   You can browse adult coloring books here http://www.hachette-pratique.com/collections/art-therapie

However, a great way to start coloring involves Mandalas. Mandalas are a series of geometrical figures centered in one central pattern. Often beautiful in design, they have their origins in India and meditation. Mandalas are said to help one meditate, by encouraging one to focus on the intricate patterns of the mandala, instead of bombarding thoughts. More so, mandalas help you access energy and imagery of the unconscious mind. Here are two pictures of my mandala. It took me a couple of weeks to actually color in the whole mandala, but it was definitely worth it. Look at this beauty! Mandalas are accessible online, simply google “coloring Mandalas.”

image2image1 Continue reading

Volunteering with Purpose

At some point or another, we all contribute to human society by volunteering. Whether it’s at a soup kitchen, cleaning beaches, organizing a youth conference, or simply giving a couple of dollars to someone in need, most of us have experienced the gift of giving. However, I want to challenge everyone to critically think about volunteering, our intention, and purpose.

Who volunteers? (Is it a coincidence that people from low socioeconomic status are more likely to volunteer?)

Why are we motivated to volunteer? (Are there social, political, economic benefits? i.e tax breaks, extra credit)

What types of volunteering do people partake in?(Are you volunteering time or extra money you may have?)

These are some initial questions that may come up if you are thinking about volunteering. But what else can we think of when “volunteering” comes up? I started volunteering because it was a value instilled upon me at school. I grew up knowing that volunteering is good. Why was it good? I didn’t even question it. As I grew older, I found out some benefits to volunteering: getting in to college. Obviously, at a young age I wanted to help people that were disadvantaged: people who did not have the same opportunities that I did. However, there was a reward for me: looking good for college admissions. As I grew older and attended university, I realized a lot of people volunteered on a cost-benefit basis. Thought trajectories along the line of, “I  volunteer not necessarily because I want to help disadvantaged people, but because I will get extra credit and consequently improve my class grade.” I want to challenge readers to think about their volunteer efforts and come up with ways to positively volunteer.

Positive volunteering: Volunteering with a purpose that does not involve personal benefit, but does involve the greater good of society.

Example: I recently became a Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer. I am a big sister to a young teenage girl in the Phoenix area. Over the years I have volunteered in numerous projects, but I felt BBBS was a little different. I would be contributing time and a long lasting relationship to a young girl that comes from a low socioeconomic background. I wouldn’t be getting “extra credit” or putting it on college applications. In fact, I would take off hours from work and spend my own money on activities for me and my little (all of which I didn’t mind). I really wanted to create positive impact on disadvantaged youth, but work more closely and make a longer lasting impact. I didn’t want to just show up to one event and tutor kids, or hand out free school supplies, I wanted to serve as a positive role model for this young girl. Months later, I text my little and we schedule biweekly hangouts where I expose her to new things. My emphasis is on exposing her to different cultures via food, events, and activities. I want to show here the possibilities of traveling, working, education, and show her that anything is possible if you believe in yourself. Here is a picture of me and my little, Maliyah.

BBBS

Qualitative Research and Interviewing

One realm of qualitative research involves interviews. As a qualitative researcher I have to constantly ask people if they would be willing to answer some questions or sit down for an in-depth interview. Often nerve wrecking, the hardest part about qualitative research for me is asking someone to be my participant. I get scared to ask strangers to sit down with me, especially if there are language and cultural barriers. Since my line of work is concentrated on small businesses of the East San Gabriel Valley, it proves difficult for owners to give me the time of day. Most of them work everyday during business hours, which is the only time I can ask them questions. They are usually busy tending to customers and running the business. Despite the nervousness I get from asking people for an interview, I have gained success from practicing one thing: Accepting the possibility of rejection. Something that always sets us back from personal growth, work solutions, and success is the fear of rejection. This is what always held me back about asking people to be interviewed. When you become comfortable with the idea of rejection, and the possibility of its occurrence, you begin to accept the challenge of interviewing.

Welcome to Arizona

IMG_0045

IMG_0043

IMG_0044

Arizona is a strange place. Coming from Los Angeles, I am used to exploring. The cultural jungle of the West has instilled in me a love for exploration. Whether its food, culture, or entertainment, L.A will forever have an explorer searching. I am now celebrating my one year anniversary as an Arizona resident. In reflecting on my time here, I’ve decided to share a few thoughts on Arizona. Something Arizona has helped me develop is a strong appreciation for nature. Growing up, I played outside, spent a lot of time at the park, and was involved in several outdoor sports. But as I grew older and as my interests developed, I leaned towards academia, which meant more time indoors. Entering college, I was always busy. Work –> class –> study –> eat –> meetings –> tests –> more work… The cycle never ended. My senior year of college, I told myself I needed to appreciate every last moment I could at USC. Taking long routes back to my apartment, I noticed the beauty of life: simplicity. I watched leaves fall off of my favorite trees, I paused to observe the beautiful planted flowers on campus, and walked around appreciating all the squirrels protruding campus. The mere thought of observing flowers, trees, and squirrels seems ridiculous, but how many times do you actually stop and stay in the present moment? How often do we practice mindfulness, being in the present moment? Rarely. How often do we walk around, headphones in our ears, and have 10000 thoughts running on our minds? All the time…

Pause. Breathe. Take a look at all the beauty that surrounds you.  In these moments, I began to realize how nature is so important, and how nature can bring a whole sense of meaning to my life. What is nature to me? The trees, the birds, animals, flowers, air… Everything that is essential to our existence and part of our Earth that we so often take for granted… I learned to appreciate nature in small doses at USC. When I moved to Arizona, I truly began to realize how beautiful and important nature is.

Arizona is a strange place. I saw cacti, dry landscape, mountains, etc. I saw a different type of beauty in nature, a simple, calmness to the landscape of Arizona’s backyard that I had never seen before. Plants were different. Trees were different. Most of the recreational activities in the area involve the outdoors. Arizona has the Gran Canyon, Sedona, Creeks, Lakes, etc. Lightning/Thunder storms are some of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen. I couldn’t possible be scared of a storm because the horizon is graced with rays of lightning and a setting sun that can’t be seen in Los Angeles. There is so much to appreciate and so much to admire. It may not be Los Angeles, but it is one of the Earth’s natural beauties. It may not have  a booming cultural or foodie seeking appeal, but the appeal of nature is all it needs.

Arizona is a strange place, but it’s definitely grown on me. Above is a series of shots of a succulent plant I bought at Lowes. I love these small plants, and they hardly require any watering. It’s a small piece of Arizona ❤

A Conducive Work Space

Desk Spac

There’s nothing like a clean, simplistic, and well thought out work space to accomplish your daily tasks. Spending a lot of time at work and school, I don’t really spend much time at home working on assignments or work-related tasks. Honestly, I get home and dive into bed, lounging and relaxing with some Netflix. However, with the semester starting up at the end of the month, I know I will be extremely busy with school –> work –> work –> school. Not to mention completing my Masters thesis. That being said, I have told myself over and over to create a small workspace in my apartment to channel my inner desire to succeed! I bring you Natalie’s work space titled: Enlighten me with Positivity. I tend to hoard things from small trinkets friends have given to me from abroad, to old receipts dating back 6 months. I got rid of a lot of things and created this simple, and affordable layout. I often see amazing work spaces and apartments on Pinterest, only to discover that the items I want are ALL vintage and nearly impossible to acquire. I got all of the pictured items at the common person’s stores. The gold, industrial lamp was purchases at Target for approximately $38. Stylish, urban, with a new age sophistication, I definitely thought it was the perfect accent for my work space. Not to mention I need proper overhead lighting for late night sessions. I got the white candle for about $10 at Target as well. The Buddha head was also from Target (I love Target -___-  ) for about $12 in the gift aisle. The lotus candle holder is from Michael’s (about $3) and the orange candle in it is a 12 pack set from World Market. The golden hands print is from Etsy. It was a gift from my roommate so I don’t have price details! Lastly, I made the glitter “N” from a series of supplies. You can pick up a cardboard-like letter from your local craft store. I then purchased scrapbook paper in this gold-red glitter style from Michaels, cutting it to fit the “N” proportions. I used super glue to bind the paper to the letter.

Three things guiding my work space design:

1. Simplicity (my life is too hectic. Keeping a simple layout helps me stay grounded in my high paced, hectic life. I chose one statement piece, the lamp. Its clean, urban design reminds me to focus and to remember that less is more.)

2. Inner peace (even though I have 100000 things to do everyday, I need to remember to breathe and stay calm. the buddha and incense remind me of this… Stay grounded and happy)

3. Passion (with my research, I sometimes get stuck. I forget my motivation and drive, and get into ruts. The glitter “N” reminds me that I can accomplish anything I start. When I accomplish tasks and goals, beautiful results come, just like the “N” I created. It is an original work that wasn’t just purchased, but made.)

A Phoenix-Los Angeles Paradigm

Phoenix. Tempe. Scottsdale. That’s what I think of when people say  “Phoenix”. As a Los Angeles native, I didn’t really know what to expect from Arizona, much less what type of culture encompasses the area. Los Angeles is known for being a cultural metropolis, the Mecca of “culture.” Nonetheless, it has its flaws in racism, classism, and poverty. In thinking of Los Angeles and my studies at USC, I began to critically think about Phoenix in the same ways I was challenged to do about L.A… This area is developing at a fast pace, which is great for local economies. However I started to think about the image of Phoenix… what exactly is this area becoming? A sub-par Los Angeles? A mini metropolis? An area seeking to find an identity, heavily influenced by LA restaurant and bar scenes. What does Phoenix need? Culture. L.A is famous for its cultural pockets, it’s ethnic hubs catering to immigrant communities (which are now heavily influenced by their second generation children). East of Los Angeles you’ll find the San Gabriel Valley, well knows for its Asian eats. Boyle Heights is known for its predominantly Latina/o community (overwhelmingly Mexican) and their good eats too. A lot of these resaturants/fast food are becoming a fusion of something I would call “hipster-ethnic food,” blending traditional, cultural food with modern ambiance, such as Guisados, largely famous in Boyle Heights. I personally dislike their tacos, like no I don’t want your aioli whatever sauce on my tacos… But anyways. What we see in LA are immigrant communities developing into ethnic hubs, dominantly influenced by second and third generation children. In LA, culture is growing and culture is heavily influenced and defined by their food. Phoenix is still forming its identity. It is still figuring out its culture. There aren’t as many immigrant communities impacting areas in Phoenix (well possibly the city of Guadalupe and their Mexican community; or the Native American community who is treated like an immigrant one). I think Scottsdale and Phoenix are seeing a large growth of new age restaurants. Fusion restaurants like Clever Koi, overpriced coffee shops like Luxe and organic, inspired cuisine such as Desert Roots Kitchen. I just wonder in what direction Phoenix will develop and what will come to define this area. Scottsdale continues to develop into this upscale, money, youth motivated area, much like Los Angeles. I am curious to find out what “Phoenix” will develop into in about ten years.

Human Rights & Sustainability

When I think of HR and Sustainability, I think about how the two work together to support humans and the Earth. Within the last two weeks, I have been able to better conceptualize my understanding of HR and sustainability. Human rights come from human wrongs and social struggle, where the lack of freedoms require a needed protection from injustice. Human rights is a complex issue arising from our fundamental fault of conceptualizing rights. We need to understand a group before we apply human rights to that group, in order to respect diversity. A big problem with seeing human rights processed is our lack of understanding of groups that need help and of how the idea of rights have theoretically been shaped throughout history. It appears that human rights and environmental protection clash because there is a claim that one cannot defend both the Earth and humans. However, this has a lot to do with our perceptions that the only things that matter are humans. When we think about that idea, I think about the article “Walking the Path of Environmental Buddhism Through Comparison and Emptiness.” From the Buddhist perspective, one can begin to understand how the Earth plays a crucial role in our existence: without the Earth we would not be living or breathing. Yet the Earth appears to be the most unprotected entity of life. In the Vitousek article, I realized a lot of the issues seen with the way we treat our environment. I realized that oceans and land have experienced man-made changes as well as the growth of biotic changes. In order for earth to survive, we need to slow the population growth and use resources efficiently, according to the article.

Hancock discusses dominant forms of rationality which influence our perception of the environment. He discusses how reason is used as a tool for the economic apparatus of society: for capitalists to make more money. Humans, he says, use instrumental rationality to establish what life is and value it. Therefore, environmental human rights are treated as unimportant and/or irrelevant. Social power serves the interests of powerful social groups and therefore, environmental human rights fall short on the agenda of worldwide attention and care. Environmental human rights involves protecting humans while protecting the environment too. I. E Kenya and the issue of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning affected several residents and caused deaths. However, this toxic lead is also harming Earth. In order for a just solution to be implemented, I believe the plant needs to receive strict sanctions but also eliminate the dumping of toxic materials in order to benefit humans and the Earth. To simply dump the toxic waste in a different location would be still harming our environment. http://www.hrw.org/topic/environment