Plants & Flowers

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I have realized that I love plants and flowers. Always have. They just make me happy. And because of that, I’ve decided that they are also two of my Lavas for Life. Just look at how this green ivy sprawls across the ground, with the sunshine coming down on it. I think it’s beautiful.

    What do you think is beautiful?

Flowers are also another of my favorite things. I think one way that you know something is your Lava for Life is if it just makes you FEEL positive inside. Sometimes it’s difficult to explain with words, but if something just makes you smile or makes you feel relaxed like all is well, then I think there’s a high chance that that could be one of your Lavas for Life. As spring time is continuing, I see more flowers on the trees and ground. You know what they say, “Don’t forget to smell the roses.” Okay so maybe I have taken it a little too literally, but still, smelling flowers makes me happy.

Sometimes I wonder if my love of plants and flowers is solely due to my social conditioning (refer to my previous post “On Gender…”). What do you think? How much of a role do gender role stereotypes and social conditioning play in your own Lavas for Life?

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On Gender…

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So here’s one of my Lavas for Life: gender role stereotypes. I wrote an entire paper on this subject in college a few semesters ago. The skeleton of the paper was based on research findings about gender roles and stereotypes in our society. By our society, I mean American society. But as I’ve observed, it seems like gender role stereotypes are pretty similar across societies around the world.

Depending on the particular situation and environment, gender role stereotypes are present in varying degrees. So what are some of these stereotypes? Well, the thing is that most of these are “unspoken, but understood” societal values. They are the “societal norms” that say that girls are supposed to be compassionate, caring, and pretty. They say that boys are supposed to be tough, assertive, strong, and not cry in public.

Personally, I think that gender role rules are becoming somewhat less “rigid“. It’s interesting to see how societal factors such as war, economic recessions, new ideas and societal rules, and new trends alter societal rules on gender.

What do you think about gender role stereotypes? How have they played a role in your own life? 

It’s story time!

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The storytelling days where human beings sit around campfires or the home sharing stories I think has decreased a lot compared to previous generations. When I think of stories, I usually think of children’s stories, like Aesop’s Fables that I read as a child in elementary school. (Haha, totally didn’t expect that ending!) Storytelling has evolved and changed according to technological advancements such as social media, societal norms, and current needs. Storytelling still exists in it’s prior form in many cultures all around the world who still believe in the significance and power of storytelling.  Stories are all around us, and we tell stories every single day, knowingly and unknowingly. When we tell others about our day, for example, we are telling a story.  So when I first thought of the word “story” I thought of the lighthearted children’s stories I read and was told as a child. With some eye-opening however, I am beginning to understand the scope and potential that can lie within stories.

I realize now that stories can be powerful messengers for change. Stories can be told orally, visually, or through writing in so many ways, including pictures, paintings, photos, text messages, songs, the news, videos, social media posts, plays, etc. Sharing aspects of your life and certain life experiences can be story telling. It can change people’s attitudes, inspire people to take action, result in large-scale societal change in the form of legislative advocacy, raise awareness about issues, and touch people’s lives. They can show different perspectives, endorse a political campaign, and spread your Lava for Life. Stories incorporate the human element into the information being conveyed because there is emotion, humanity, fire, and anticipation in them. The Diary of Anne Frank is in it’s essence, Anne’s story.  Look at the awareness of the horrible Holocaust and world change that was achieved as a result of a thirteen-year old simply writing her story in her diary that she got as a birthday present. Did Anne anticipate the profound impact that her story would one day achieve, after her death? Probably not. But look at  what actually happened. Her story has become a huge inspiration for so many people, including myself. She embodies and gives hope to others even to this day, more than 60 years after her passing. THAT is the power of a story. It has the ability to outlive it’s teller and inspire generations to continually make the world a better place. It shows us that you should NEVER underestimate the power of a story.

So, as you can see, stories are not all meant to be taken lightly. Different stories have different purposes. Some stories have deep roots and go further, into the very depths of our lives, our person, our communities, our families, and our organizations. So, whether they are children’s stories, news stories, personal stories, survivor stories, biblical stories, religious stories, or simply telling your day’s events to a friend, they can hold unfathomable power and potential. Story telling is a big deal. The 2012 National Storytelling Conference, for example, aims to “promote storytelling everywhere – in entertainment venues, in classrooms, organizations, medical fields, families, and wherever else storytelling can make a contribution to quality of life”.

So, here’s to storytelling. May there be many more moving and powerful stories in the world that brings about positive change. Let’s end with one more story. I promise that this one’s a lighthearted, happy one, once again, showing the immense versatility of stories.

The good ol’ days of social media…

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Remember the “good” ol’ days? Each generation has it’s own values and aspects of life that they hold near and dear to their hearts. People from older generations such as parents, grandparents, older teachers, older friends, etc.  have most likely told you about this. The sentence usually begins…”When I was a kid….blah blah blah”. I mean, I enjoyed those stories sometimes, but not all the time when they made our generation seem like we were stupid or could never measure up. But, thinking of the “circle of life”, we might be doing the same things to future generations and our children! Hmm…what would we be telling future generations? Have you ever thought about what today’s social media users will look like in 50 years? What would we all be talking about in 2062? Maybe we’ll be talking about this. I have a problem with the “good ol’ days”. Does that mean that today is bad? To me, the phrase elicits a negative outlook on today and the future. It makes me feel like we’re doomed or something. Heck, there might’ve been some good ol’ days in the past for me, but I’m definitely planning on keeping the good days comin’, even in today and the not-here-yet days! Sheesh. Granted, there are fond memories of childhood for many people, including myself, but I don’t want to limit the good days to the past, ya know? Well, let me get off my soapbox.

So what’s really interesting to me is about the conversation we most likely will have with future generations and perhaps our own children in the future, about our own “good ol’ days”, A.K.A. today. What good things are we doing and are happening nowadays that we will be talking to them about? What consumes our lives sometimes? What can’t we live without in today’s society? What do we use on a daily basis that has become a cornerstone in our lives? It’s social media! (I’m sure that was a difficult one, considering the blog title and all). But REALLY, social media has impacted our lives so much that I can assuredly see how we will talk to future generations about this phenomenon! Maybe we’ll talk to them about the changes that social media has undergone. Maybe we’ll tell them how we remember when there was a time when Facebook did not have Farmville or Timelines. Maybe they’ll think we’re ancient. Maybe Facebook won’t be called that anymore. Maybe Facebook might die. I’m so amazed at all of the social media outlets out there currently. How many more will be created in 50 years? Will social media die? How will our world be different in 2062 compared to 2012? How old will you be?

Social media is a significant identifying factor for generations today, especially for pre-teens, teens,  and 20-somethings. Social media is a vital part of the complex global society itself. It’s interesting to note that social media week 2012 is going to take place from February 13 -17. It’s a global multi-city conference that “reflects on the global impact of social media and its role as a catalyst in driving cultural, political, economic and social change”.  Social Media Week’s theme in February 2012 will focus on Empowering Change through Collaboration. Aaah, collaboration. Working together. Empowering. Empowering Change Through Collaboration. Using none other than social media. Do you realize the potential social media has? Do you realize the potential that YOU have through social media? So, the next time you tell someone about the good ol’ days of social media, wouldn’t it be awesome to look back and say, “Well, you know what I did in the good ol’ days?…I helped make the world a better place, using that cool thing called social media.” 🙂

 

The Experience of Blogging…

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This is my first blog ever. I have read a few blogs here and there sporadically in previous years, but I never really thought about starting my own. Until I entered my social media class about a month ago. From my current blogging experience, I have realized that blogging is bittersweet for me. Some days are better than others for coming up with blog posts that I’m passionate about. Some days, nothing comes. Absolutely nothing. So I have to kind of dig to find what I’m going to post about. Blogging has been a good experience so far. Therapeutic even in some ways. It’s a chance to do some introspection and share your passions with others. It’s a chance to see what other people are talking about, current events, and just being connected with the world. Through my blogging initiation, I have begun to follow blogs outside of my class. It’s interesting the ideas that people come up with, the critical thinking that goes into wording things and current events in a catching, humorous, informative, and genuine manner. For me, it’s a lot like writing a journal. Except I have to be more aware of my audience. I have a respect for good bloggers now. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, passion, and skill to keep up a “good” blog that keeps attracting new and consistent followers. Blogs can be great avenues for social change, or just change in general. Some blogs are geared towards personal stuff like self-improvement, improving your life & relationships, how to be happy, etc. Others are oriented toward more macro-level topics like politics, social culture, economics, animals, pets, writing, art, music, therapy, food, nature, the state of the world, world hunger, poverty, education, health, etc. Blogs are a media outlet that can shape public opinion, attitudes, and social norms. I think a blogger needs to know herself or himself well before blogging. They need to be able to respond to constructive and negative criticism from their readers and others. Bloggers need to know what they’re talking about. They need to be able to support their stances and why they posted what they did. A blogger needs to take ownership of her or his blog. A blog is a direct limb of who the blogger is or what she or he is passionate about, in my opinion.

Chris Brogan has some great tips on how to write a killer blog. Just reading it gave me such a renewed energy and positive feeling! I can see how people can make blogging a career. If you’re really into it and devote time and resources, you can totally write a killer blog. 

What if life itself is your lava for life?

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It dawned on me today that what if life itself is actually your lava for life? What if you just had a love, appreciation, and wonder for life in general that was so a part of you that it would be so hard to take that ingrained love in you away from you? We all have our own perspectives and outlooks on life that has been shaped by so many factors. Why do some of us have the ability to smile at life more than others? What is it that makes some people breathe life, like REALLY breathe life, and take it in?

So, on my post titled simply “Life”, I referred you all to the pinterest website, in which I indicated that several of my lava’s for life were represented. One of those lavas for life of mine was the food recipes that were being shared. I have ALWAYS been fascinated by cooking shows on TV and the sheer wonder of how seemingly unconnected ingredients can come together to bring a masterpiece that plays on your palette. Maybe there are just some things in life that you will love forever. Maybe cooking, (and watching people cook) is one of mine. I remember watching Justin Wilson when I was a kid, and to this day while cooking, I sometimes still think of the way he says, “I GUARANTEE“. He was one of the people who made cooking fun, and more than “just cooking food”. He made it into a time to bring people together with his nostalgic and funny stories, where the food was really celebrated and appreciated.

As I got older, cooking shows on television evolved and changed with the times, but my love for watching them never went away. Food Network is still one of my favorite stations, even though I don’t have time to watch it much nowadays due to the busy life I live. My love for watching people cook has been a constant throughout my life, and I can’t help but put the pieces together to say that I’ve found one of my lavas for life in that.

So, I hope that maybe now you also will begin to think about those constants in your life that you’ve always loved. Was it a favorite childhood cartoon? A hobby? A special place? An activity? A sports team? Whatever it is, happy hunting!

Is email dead?

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No. Of course not. Who said such a lie? According to a new comScore study on U.S. consumers,  the number of users accessing email via their mobile devices has been growing every year. In 2010, mobile email grew by 36% in the US. In Europe, mobile email users grew 55% and in Japan 53%. I think that email has probably become less popular as a personal means for communication compared to the late 1990s from personal experience. Email is still a vital aspect of professional communication and it’s increased convenience through cell phones as a medium has kept it within the loop of technological advancement. I personally don’t think that email is as “cool” as it once was, but it is a highly significant aspect of modern life. Nowadays, it seems to be unheard of to have an individual without an email address. Or two. Or a gazillion. So which email websites are preferred? Well, as of January, 2012, the most popular email websites (based on US Internet usage and in descending order of popularity) were: Yahoo! Mail, Gmail and Windows Live Hotmail. As a side note, Yahoo! has teamed with AT&T to bring more convenience in the form of email notifications and a complimentary Yahoo! email address.

With the use of social media,  I think that email is probably less utilized as a personal means of communication. I think that almost every one has an email address (in mainstream society or with internet access). I think email has become kind of like Facebook, with more users having accounts, but less frequency of usage. It’s a total norm to have an email address. If you don’t have one, it’s kind of weird, especially in 2012. But, where there was only basically email to communicate and then AIM and other Instant Messengers a few years later, the exponential growth and popularity of social media outlets has pushed personal  email usage off to the side.  But email is still a powerful and significant form of communication in our society.