Cocktail Parlours and Honey Bears

I had been dying to head over to Bitter and Twisted in Phoenix, AZ. More specifically, I wanted to try their most popular drink of the month, Bear Witness. This aesthetically pleasing drink is a mix of Kikori Whiskey, fresh grapefruit, lemon, yuzu marmalade, pink peppercorn honey syrup, garnished with Dill. Super refreshing and cute! However, I totally found myself dying with how strong the whiskey flavor was despite having such amazing, fresh ingredients. Bitter & Twisted has an impeccable ambiance. A giant red drape at the entrance, concrete walls, and huge Bitter & Twisted poster of a pin up type girl. We sat on red leather upholstered couches and enjoyed our drinks next to a candlelight table. Bear Witness will run you about $10, which is descent when comparing to LA drink prices. I would recommend this bar if you’re looking for a chill night out with some interesting drinks.

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Boundaries.”

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The image above was taken by my roommate, Zoey, at Butterly Wonderland in Arizona. The word “Boundaries” tends to have a negative connotation. When I hear the word “boundaries” I think about several things: relationships, the U.S-Mexico border, concrete fences separating prisoners from a free world. But, “boundaries” can also be a good thing… Sometimes, boundaries protect us from the bad, danger, and from things that aren’t meant to be in our lives.

Miniature cones are placed on the ground next to butterflies who decide to land on the floor. This seemingly simple boundary (orange cone) is placed between a delicate, beautiful creature and humans. However, the orange cone also symbolizes captivity, and the inability for this butterfly to be free.

Sometimes they will make you feel safe, loved, and protected. Sometimes, you will be left yearning for freedom, wanting release. Boundaries, however you interpret them, are engrained in our life experiences. It’s really all about how you look at them, and how you learn to navigate the world of barriers.

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.

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Welcome to Arizona

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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 ❤