Food for Thought

Why I Will Never Accept a Diamond Ring

As a little girl, I often dreamt of my future engagement ring. I wanted the diamond to be this shape, that size, and the color of pink lemonade.

I did not bat an eye at the societal expectation of men to spend three months worth of salary on a diamond ring. Never did I consider that that money could instead be put towards a down payment on a house, a car paid in cash, or a college fund.

When I was in high school, I was flipping through channels on t.v. after school — a ritual I practiced for an hour or so before succumbing to my homework pile — when I landed on a documentary about the diamond industry.

Within 1 hour and 30 minutes, my stance and overall desire towards and for diamonds had become forever tarnished.

Here is what I learned:

Continue reading “Why I Will Never Accept a Diamond Ring”

Food for Thought

On Being Present

It is so easy to be distracted.

What is grabbing my attention? Unanswered texts, past conversations, my Instagram news feed, the newest Netflix series, hypothetical situations — just to name a few.

How often do I actually sit in the moment? The answer is not nearly as often as I should. There is no moment more beautiful than the one I am in. It is all I have.

Last week, I took my son to Mount Tabor, an extinct volcano covered with sprawling trees and yellow wildflowers, located just 15 minutes from the heart of downtown. He recently started walking with enough agility where he can explore his surroundings. As I sat down on an old park bench, I watched him play in the dirt. What I saw next took my breath away.

He knelt down in the field and plucked shards of grass examining their bright green shades and rough textures. He pinched little yellow daisies between his tiny forefinger and thumb and lifted each one to his nose in order to inhale their bitter and musty scent. His little feet hopped on top of, through, and around the mounds of dirt that were still damp from the prior day’s spring showers. The birds, just having started their day, chirped sweet melodies as they swooped down to collect twigs for their nests. The pattering of joggers’ feet intermittently swept by us. My son missed nothing as he drank it all in without a care in the world. He was completely in the moment.

As I watched him I could not help but wonder when I myself had stopped living in the moment every moment. When exactly I had lost the ability to simply play? To simply be? Parenthood is a magical gift for many reasons, one of the most magical being its ability to open your eyes to what is truly important. Everything else just becomes white noise.

Connecting with the “now” and being present is harder said than done. Anyone who has tried their hand at meditation would agree. Everyone finds their own unique strategy at becoming “one” with the present moment. For me, it involves taking notice of my immediate surroundings; the aroma of leftover lentil soup stewing on the stove, the subtle rosy shade of pink on my son’s cheeks as he runs around our living room, and the soft gold morning light peeking through our skylights. These little details are more precious than anything I could ever pull up on my phone or t.v. screen. And to think — I could have easily missed them had I not remembered to be here right now.

Food for Thought

My Life is Insignificant

Here I am, in my entirety.

65 inches and 120 pounds of stardust taking the form of a fragile package made up of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. I occupy a tiny space, on a tiny blue rock, in an enormously wide and vast universe. A couple of hundred years from now, everyone I have ever known will be gone, and with them, the knowledge of me ever existing.

I am simply a drop of water in the cosmos. The universe blinks and my entire life will have been lived. All of my memories. My thoughts. My worries. My fears. My jokes. My adventures. My relationships. My children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Poof.

I am no more significant than a cow or a leaf or a pebble skipping across the surface of a lake. Like my buddy Eckhardt Tolle once said, I am just the Universe expressing itself as a human for a little while. And that is just fine with me.

Here is a little secret of mine:

Continue reading “My Life is Insignificant”

Food for Thought

3 Things I Would Like to Improve About Myself

I am a work in progress and I hope to always be. Being content with my character would only mean I have become complacent. I genuinely enjoy self-improvement, even the hard parts!

In honor of a new year here are 3 things I would like to improve about myself:

1. Being Kind to Myself

I am really hard on myself — especially recently after becoming a mom and all the newfound *mom guilt*. Even the smallest and most insignificant mistake can set me off on a self-loathing tangent for hours. It is almost as if I expect myself to perfect at everything, everywhere, all the time. But this does not serve me in any way. I would never speak to Dan Kim, my son, or anyone I loved like that — so why is it okay to say these things to myself?

Telling myself I am stupid or untalented or ugly or worthless does not make me a better partner, mother, or friend.

I have decided to start small with a self-affirmation in the mirror each morning.

2. Exercise 4-5 Times A Week

When it comes to being active, I am either all or nothing. I have either not exercised for months at a time or am practicing martial arts and yoga or running religiously. Since giving birth and breastfeeding, I have not regained my normal energy levels. Never mind that raising a baby is exhausting! But no more excuses — exercise has always been a stress reliever for me and getting my mojo back has been long overdue. I may be the lightest I have ever been in terms of weight but I am the weakest I have ever been physically (except for my mom biceps — those are no joke!).

3. Be More Selfish

Don’t get me wrong — there are several aspects of my life that I need to be less selfish in but my time is not one of them. Because of the previously mentioned mom guilt and my endless responsibilities piling up on me, I have not taken enough time for myself to feel like me again. That includes alone time, girl time, and date night time, and just rest and relaxation overall.

Life is about balance. I am slowly accepting that being the best mom does not necessarily mean being a mom who is there every second of every day. That being the best partner does not mean having all the chores done, the meals cooked, or all of my relationship’s needs met before my own. I am working on giving to myself because the old adage is true: you can not pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.

Food for Thought, Travel, Uncategorized

A Love Letter to Southern California

Dear Southern California,

Like I would an old friend with whom I have shared many a laugh that rose from deep within my belly, I miss you. Quite a few years have passed since we have shared the same space. The last time I saw you, I was still focused on growing apart from you. On claiming my own space for you were all I had ever known. I would not have believed then that I would one day ache for your teal white-capped ocean tides that cleanse one’s spirit or the tartness of your açaí bowls that taste best after a dip in the sea. I spent 22 years basking in your golden sun rays, breathing in your warm Mediterranean breezes…and taking you deeply for granted. But that is how it seems to go with one’s hometown, right?

Continue reading “A Love Letter to Southern California”

Food for Thought

Why Writing Embarrasses Me

“Keep in mind that I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my shit.” -Erykah Badu, Call Tyrone

The hardest part about creativity is anticipating how people will react to what I create. Including my future self. I need only to read my old Myspace or Tumblr posts to experience some major cringe at what I once thought sounded so profound.

There are things that we create for ourselves and things that we create for others. True magic happens when we create something for both. For me, this is writing. But I have to be honest. I’m not confident about my writing. Every time I click “publish” on my blog, I immediately feel an overwhelming sense of dread. Do I come off judgmental? Stupid? Immature? And god forbid if I catch a grammatical or spelling error AFTER my post has been published.

I write about random things. Things I will think about during a long hot shower or during a walk around the Pearl District when it isn’t raining hard but just enough to make me feel a sentimental kind of way. Being lost in thought is a strength (and weakness) of mine. One that inspires me to create. To take photographs. To film. To write. Puzzle pieces from the past, present, and future are constantly in a synchronous tango in my mind — all of them just waiting to be synced into a 2,000 word essay. Ultimately, I’m just trying to make sense of it all and my first instinct is to share that process with the world.

Our lives appear so different but really — we are all the same. At our cores, we simply want to love and be loved. Everything else is just white noise. When I write, I am attempting to break down those superficial barriers. Those mental blocks that keep us from relating to each other. If just one person thinks, “yes, me too”, when reading one of my posts — I have achieved what I set out to do: close the gap.

My blog is public, yes. But not really. I don’t send a newsletter to my friends and family whenever I post one of my musings. I don’t advertise it and I can’t say that I am proud of it. At least not yet. Because I’m scared of it. I’m scared of being vulnerable. I’m scared of showing you all my blue. My worst fear is that my vulnerability will be used against me. That someone will laugh at me for my truth.

Not everything I write will stand the test of time. Next week I may not agree with my own opinion. This makes me want to delete anything no longer relevant to me. But I fight the urge. The urge to cover up where I began. Where I came from. I keep it out there, visible to all, in hopes that people can see how far I’ve come. That I’m not perfect. That I’m not an expert (on anything). And that I’m growing each and every day to become a better version of me.

Whenever someone reads my post, I blush. I cringe. My heart beat picks up a little bit. My foot might tap repeatedly or my eyes might shift all over the room. And yet, it’s so worth it. It’s worth it to expose myself and scream, “yes, this is me!”. People used to share stories over campfires. Myths, legends, and witch tales used to be passed down from our elders to our little children. We, as humans, are natural storytellers and although this is a screen and not a campfire — these are my stories. I hope you enjoy them.

Love,

Jamakea

Food for Thought, Uncategorized

How Society Tricks Women Into Shaming Each Other

Rules for a modern woman:

Be sexy but not too sexy. Cover up but not too much. Be educated but don’t make men feel inadequate or stupid. Work like you don’t have children and raise your children like you don’t work. Be proud of your postpartum body, just make sure you cover up those stretch marks and extra weight. Breastfeed your children exclusively but do so only in private so that you won’t offend anyone. Don’t be a prude but don’t sleep with too many men. Have opinions but don’t offer them unless asked.

The list goes on and on. These are impossible to follow. They are misogynistic, contradicting, oppressive, and hateful. Yes, these standards are held by men, but they are dutifully enforced by other women. We refer to this today as “shaming”, or the humiliation and judgment of other women and the choices they make.

Continue reading “How Society Tricks Women Into Shaming Each Other”