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I recently found myself in an unlikely position: Stepping out of a car on a residential street in sleepy Bakersfield, California.
Looking back I realize I did an awful lot of complaining in the roughly 48 hours I was there (to celebrate a family member's birthday); I whinged about the heat (a dry, 100-degree wind was blowing when we arrived at 7pm), the stray dog situation, the lack of aesthetic appeal, and the stifling heat (did I mention that already?).
After about 12 hours. I had enough of my own bad attitude and decided to shift my outlook. Instead of silently chastising the locals for their low animal-welfare standards, I focused on the beautiful flora, and tuned in to the birdsong that carried me back in time to my Southern California youth. From that one baby step, I began noticing the charming architecture--1920s bungalows on the residential streets and an interesting Art Deco downtown--and seeing the history of this Central Valley mini metropolis come alive.
When I turned off the negative internal dialog and quit judging, I was also able to connect with locals. While waiting for my green drink at the local juice bar/health-food store Nature's Food Market and Juice Bar, I exchanged smiles and conversation with some lovely ladies who raved about both their collard-green wraps and their love of the tiny Bakersfield oasis. The folks at the local modern art museum and vintage clothing store were equally warm and welcoming. It was pretty nice.
This Bakersfield adventure was more than just a family visit; it was a reminder that feeling "at home" and liking where you are in life isn't so much about what's happening outside, but about what's going on inside. We've all got the ability to shift our perspectives and turn a perceived "bad" thing into something "good," and all it takes is the willingness to give it a try.
A few weeks ago, while settling in for a long-haul flight, I went through the usual pre-takeoff ritual. I assessed the plane's entertainment options, flipped through the duty-free catalog, then got down to the good stuff: The in-flight magazine. Surprisingly, this one had some better-than-average articles inside, including a piece on Frederik Haren, who came up with an interesting way of supporting creative types on their quest for cooking up bright ideas.
Haren, who is Swedish, has three private islands at his disposal--two in Sweden and one in the Philippines, and if you donate $1000 to charity, you can have one of these islands to yourself for the exclusive purpose of developing your brilliant idea. Haren and his team screen applicants and choose those whose ideas are novel, are likely to have a lasting impact, and will benefit others.
Want to apply? Me too! Follow this link to throw your hat in the ring.
I'm Aurelia, creative director here at Swell! This is my space for sharing thoughts and ideas with readers on more topics dear to my heart: Travel, wellness, veganism, and style, and living creatively and compassionately.
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